• ME-Sen: Though it wasn't a surprise given the tenor of her recent comments, Rep. Chellie Pingree's announcement on Wednesday that she wouldn't run for Senate is a big blow to Democratic hopes of capturing GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe's seat. Pingree's move, which follows fellow Dem Rep. Mike Michaud's decision to stay out, was heavily influenced by the entry of independent former Gov. Angus King, which made winning a three-way race much trickier. King now sits in the driver's seat and, if he agrees to caucus with Democrats should he be elected, could actually wind up being Team Blue's best hope. But King's public statements—he's refused to say which party he'd align with—run directly counter to that possibility, so the situation is still unclear. Click the link for our full post at Daily Kos Elections in which we try our best to figure out where things are headed next.
• HI-Sen: This is pretty funny. Republican ex-Gov. Linda Lingle, who says she wants to be the next Olympia Snowe, had the poor sense to schedule a DC fundraiser earlier this week where Sen. Roy Blunt was featured as the "special guest." You know, Roy Blunt, the sponsor of the infamous (and unpopular) Blunt amendment, which would allow employers to cut off any aspect of their employees' health insurance coverage—including birth control—for pretty much any made-up reason? The poster-manchild in the war against women's reproductive healthcare freedom?
Well, Dem Rep. Mazie Hirono didn't forget, and she lacerated Lingle for "cozying up" to Blunt. Lingle, realizing she screwed up, absolutely spazzed, so much so that her campaign forgot the meaning of common English words when it put out this statement:
"Whatever the purpose of the Hirono campaign’s personal attacks today against Governor Lingle and U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, they make one thing crystal clear. Mazie Hirono does not have the demeanor or temperament to be a United States Senator."Poor Lingle! So upset, she can't even remember what the phrase "personal attacks" means!
• MA-Sen: A sufficient number of polls published over the last month (four) have shown Scott Brown in the lead that they can't be dismissed as mere coincidence, and now it seems like it's time for a little Democratic circumspection about Elizabeth Warren's campaign. The Boston Globe talks to a variety of insiders, and while some seem worried that the initial burst of goodwill from her announcement seems to have worn off, nobody seems panicked, taking the long view instead.
One explanation for Brown's seeming resurrection may simply be that he's gotten a lot of media coverage in the last month that's helped to burnish his bipartisanship-y image at a time when Warren hasn't been on the air. A commenter at Blue Mass Group puts together a remarkably thorough log of the tradmed's coverage of the race for the last few months, suggesting how skilled Brown's press office is at getting him free media. (David Jarman)
• ME-Sen: Does retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe favor state AG Bill Schneider as her successor in the Republican primary? Well, she did just rent him her email list so that he could send out a blast asking for help with his petition-gathering process to get on the ballot, so you could read that as a bit of tacit favoritism. But Snowe's camp says that this was just an arms-length transaction for "fair market value." Thing is, though, Snowe's not running for anything. So why does her campaign need to raise money via list rentals?
• MN-Sen: Yet another Republican whose college writings are coming back to haunt him. Princeton University's student newspaper, the Daily Princetonian, digs up some of the more incendiary comments made or published by Afghanistan vet Pete Hegseth, who is trying to make a longshot bid against Dem Sen. Amy Klobuchar, back when he was editor of a right-wing magazine called the Princeton Tory. Dave Catanese picks out some of the most noteworthy bits:
"Diversity is a noteworthy discussion topic, yet highly overvalued at this University," Hegseth wrote in the April 2002 issue of the conservative magazine. "As the publisher of the Tory, I strive to defend the pillars of Western civilization against the distractions of diversity." [...]If you want more, Teddy Schliefer's piece at the Princetonian goes into much greater detail. On a related note, another candidate is thinking about getting into the race: first-term GOP state Rep. Kurt Bills. But the odd thing? He won't say whether he'll run as a Republican or on the Libertarian line—not like he'll have much success either way.
In September, Hegseth and the other editors reacted to The New York Times’ announcement that it would print gay marriage announcements in its pages by arguing that the Times could then logically print announcements of other "marriages."
"The [New York Times’] explanation sounds nice on the surface, but its logic is dangerous," The Rant read. "At what point does the paper deem a ‘relationship’ unfit for publication? What if we ‘loved’ our sister and wanted to marry her? Or maybe two women at the same time? A 13-year-old? The family dog?"
• MO-Sen: If it's a story about a candidate filing to create an obscure type of campaign vehicle, you just know it has to trace back to Greg Giroux. Every once in a rare while, a potential office-seeker will, instead of forming a normal FEC committee, create what's known as a 527 with the IRS. Several candidates have done so this cycle, all first spotted by Giroux: Dem Alan Khazei in MA-Sen (who has since dropped out), Dem Rob Garagiola in MD-06, and GOPer Frank Antenori (now running in the AZ-08 special).
The latest is Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich, who has reportedly been looking at a run for Senate and is the guy Republicans are hoping will save them from a dreadful field that includes Rep. Todd Akin, former Treasurer Sarah Steelman, and rich guy John Brunner. Schweich had also been considering a gubernatorial bid, and while I'm still not clear on why a candidate would establish a 527 instead of an FEC committee, I wonder if the fact that it's a federal entity means Schweich is leaning toward a Senate race rather than one for governor.
• NE-Sen: Well, gee. Who'da thunk it? Rasmussen Reports has managed to churn out a poll showing Dem Bob Kerrey down 55-33 to Jon Bruning, and posting similarly weak numbers against the other two main Republicans as well. More telling is that Bruning also just released an internal, but only of the GOP primary. If his numbers against Kerrey were so gaudy, you'd expect Bruning to put those out as well, wouldn't you? Anyhow, Bruning's survey, from the Tarrance Group, has him with a huge 52-19 lead over Don Stenberg, with 11 for Deb Fischer.
Stenberg looks like he's getting some serious outside help, though, from the Club for Growth, which just endorsed him on Tuesday. Obviously the CfG's policy priorities are lunatic and their strategic vision self-defeating, but if there's one thing to their credit, they put their money where their mouths are, unlike a lot of conservative front groups which seem to exist mostly on paper (or Facebook).
In one final related note, retiring Dem Sen. Ben Nelson says he won't endorse Kerrey, but don't worry—it just sounds like Nelson's being Nelson. He says "I usually don't take sides in contested primaries"; remember, University of Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook is still running for the Democratic nomination as well. Nelson adds that "I'll actively campaign" for whoever gets the nod.
• NY-Sen (PDF): Siena's latest statewide sample has Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand looking ready to flatten any Republican opposition; she has 49/43 approvals, and 58-30 re-elects. Siena also asks a head-to-head involving George Maragos, her best-known opponent at this point; she leads Maragos (who has 5/17 faves) by a whopping 68-19. (The number from this poll that's probably getting the most press is the GOP presidential primary number, where Mitt Romney leads Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul 38-23-13-11.)
Maragos doesn't have the primary to himself, though, despite the apparent futility of the endeavor. In fact, upstate conservatives, who tend to favor activist Wendy Long, are currently sending shots across the bow of the newest entrant, Rye town supervisor Joe Carvin, who has some self-funding capacity but is too squishy (he voted for Obama and is pro-choice) for their tastes. (David Jarman)
• WA-Gov (PDF): Just as the CW on the Massachusetts Senate race has seemingly shifted thanks to a few polls, something similar may be happening in Washington. Wednesday saw the release of a second straight survey showing the gubernatorial race a tie, something PPP found just a couple of weeks ago, after a string of polls featuring GOP leads. The new numbers are from Dem pollster Grove Insight on behalf of an unnamed union, though, so a measure of the usual skepticism may be in order. In any event, Grove has Republican AG Rob McKenna and Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee deadlocked at 38 apiece, with 25 undecided. The two men have nearly-identical faves (33/20 for McKenna, 33/21 for Inslee), but Inslee has a little more elbow room for growth, having nailed down 72% of Dems while McKenna has 77% of GOPers.
Also, here's a clever observation from PubliCola: The big loser from last week's Republican budget coup in the state Senate was... Rob McKenna. In case you missed the brouhaha, minority Republicans passed their budget out of the Senate with the aid of three moderate Dems. Don't worry; it promptly goes to the more-solidly-Dem-controlled state House to die, but that means the regular session is likely to end without a budget, meaning that the lege is likely to go into special session for another month. McKenna, as an elected statewide official, is prohibited from fundraising when the legislature is in season, so that means one more month sitting in the penalty box while Inslee is free to rattle his tin cup as much as possible. (David Jarman)
• AL-05: But of course. Hapless turncoat sap Parker Griffith, trying to make a comeback in the same GOP primary that turfed him two years ago after his fatal party switch, is relying almost entirely on his personal bank account to fuel his hopeless quest to return to Congress. Griffith has loaned or donated an impressive $568K to his campaign, out of the $585K in total receipts he's collected. I'd really like to know who those individual donors were, though. I mean, who wants to give up their hard-earned money to a chair-moistener like Griffith? You could probably do a pretty interesting study for a psychology journal.
• FL-03: On the surface, I'd assume this was a baseless charge by a ambitious candidate upset that a sitting Rep. came in and stepped on his plans, but this has a whiff of "potentially very serious" to it. Jimmie Jett is the Clay County clerk who's running against long-time GOP Rep. Cliff Stearns in the new 3rd, which is not the district that Stearns lives in, but the one that offered him the best option, post-redistricting. Jett claims that Stearns tried to bribe him out of running, offering him cash and patronage jobs. An easy charge to make, but Jett says a) that he has Stearns on tape doing so, and b) that the FBI (as opposed to the somnolent House Ethics committee) is investigating. Although this isn't a district where Dems are poised to capitalize, this story is worth keeping an eye on. Stearns of course hotly denies everything. (David Jarman)
• FL-26: Democrats have experienced something of a recruiting fail in FL-26, where state Rep. Luis Garcia, highly touted when he first entered the race, has displayed weak fundraising chops and recently caused a blow-up when he falsely claimed an endorsement from another potential candidate, Annette Taddeo-Goldstein. So it's not surprising that Team Blue is casting about for other options, but what is surprising is who they're reportedly turning to, former Miami-Dade mayor Alex Penelas. To say that Penelas is not well-liked in many Democratic circles would be like saying there are a few people out there who aren't particularly fond of the Yankees.
Don't believe me? Check out this absolutely amazing quote from Al Gore in which he sounds more like Rahm Emanuel. Of Penelas, Gore said he was ''the single most treacherous and dishonest person I dealt with'' during the 2000 presidential campaign. Yes, Al Gore said this! If you aren't familiar with the backstory, the Miami Herald summarizes:
Penelas has some of his own baggage, but it has more to do with loyal Democrats who might still be bitter about his opposition to the Clinton Administration's decision to seize the child Elian Gonzalez from his Miami relatives' home and return him to his father in Cuba. Penelas refused to campaign alongside Vice President Al Gore that year when George Bush won Florida, and therefore the White House, by just 537 votes. Some felt Penelas betrayed Gore a second time by saying nothing when Miami-Dade's canvassing board halted its recount of disputed ballots.Penelas, I should note, also spent the last couple of weeks before election day 2000 hiding out in Spain. He did so much damage to his own reputation that he scored just 10% in a four-way Democratic primary for Senate in 2004, even getting destroyed in his home county of Miami-Dade. While Penelas' supporters want to act like bad feelings have since ebbed, tell me, have you gotten over the 2000 elections? Yeah, me neither. Anyhow, Penelas isn't saying anything, but Garcia has promised that he's not going anywhere, so we may wind up with a primary on our hands that features some seriously less-than-stellar candidates.
• NJ-10: Media outlets are reporting that the special election to replace veteran Democratic Rep. Donald Payne like won't be held until November, when voters will go to the polls to choose both a successor who will fill the final two months of Payne's term as well as one to begin serving the next full term in January. This long vacancy is standard practice in New Jersey: When then-Rep. Bob Menendez was tapped to fill Jon Corzine's Senate seat in January of 2006, the special to replace Menendez also was delayed until November. (The Hill notes that an earlier date is possible, though.)
What makes this situation somewhat unusual is that the election for the stub term will use the old 10th District lines, while the election for the full term will use the new borders, so that potentially increases the (unlikely) chance of anyone pulling a Neil Abercrombie. (In 1986, Abercrombie, now Hawaii's governor, won a special to fill Cecil Heftel's unexpired term but lost to Mufi Hannemann on the same day for the two-year term.) The same is true for the June 5 primary, though that's actually the much more important date, since whoever wins the Democratic nomination is guaranteed victory in this heavily blue seat.
As for possible candidates, potential names include Newark City Council President and Essex County freeholder Donald Payne, Jr. (a son of Rep. Payne), Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, and Newark councilman Ron Rice, who had been gearing up for a primary challenge to the elder Payne this year. PolitickerNJ also mentions former Assemblyman Craig Stanley, former Newark councilman Donald Bradley, and Essex County committeeman Rick Thigpen.
• TX-10: Foreign policy analyst Dan Grant is dropping his challenge to Republican Rep. Michael McCaul. After the San Antonio court issued its first set of interim maps late last year, the 10th became a whole lot more winnable for Democrats, going from 55-44 McCain to just 52-47, which encouraged Grant to get in. But those maps were, of course, overturned by the Supreme Court, and the latest plan makes the 10th even more Republican, at 56-43 McCain. That's an almost impossibly tough row to hoe, so Grant's move is understandable.
• TX-35: It wasn't a surprise last week when Rep. Lloyd Doggett decided to run in the newly-created 35th, a solidly-Dem district where his main problem is being an Anglo in a mostly-Hispanic district. Doggett's already facing a primary fight with at least one local Latino politician, Bexar County Assessor-Collector Sylvia Romo, and now it sounds like he might draw one more ahead of Friday's filing deadline: state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, who's the head of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus. (Martinez, though, sounds ambivalent in his quotes, and may be more interested in a run several years down the road.)
But bear in mind that the map still might not be a truly done deal. The D.C. court that's still handling the Voting Rights Act preclearance case seems particularly concerned with the shape of the new TX-25, which used to be Doggett's old district but got turned GOP-friendly; the panel has asked for additional briefs on whether the new district is unnecessarily Anglo. Anything that happens here might not happen soon enough to affect this year's election, but Doggett might find his old district more preferable in future iterations of the map. (David Jarman)
• WA-01: Looks like we won't have Dennis Kucinich to kick around anymore after all... at least not for the rest of this cycle. After a spokesperson left the door open not long ago to the possibility that Kucinich might run in a different state where the filing deadline hasn't lapsed yet (most notably in the open 1st district in Washington, where he'd reportedly been scouting around for a while last summer), on Wednesday Kucinich confirmed that he won't turn around and look elsewhere. He said that he'll serve out the rest of his term (precluding a run elsewhere, since he'd need to resign and establish residency in a different state), though he wouldn't make any decisions till next January on the possibility of regrouping and running somewhere else in 2014. (David Jarman)
• Oregon: Tuesday was the filing deadline in Oregon, and Blue Oregon's Kari Chisholm has provided great coverage. I'd suggest clicking through to read his whole roundup, but here's a summary: Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) and Kurt Schrader (OR-05) are facing only Some Dude-level opposition (with no return engagement from Rob Cornilles in the 5th), while Peter DeFazio (OR-04) faces a rematch against wacko but well-funded home-school advocate Art Robinson, who made things slightly competitive in 2010.
Republicans didn't bother fielding AG or state Treasurer candidates; the biggest statewide race is for Labor Commissioner, an ostensibly nonpartisan job (though most folks know that incumbent Brad Avakian is a D and opponent state Sen. Bruce Starr is an R). Dems also did a good job with recruitment in the state House (currently a 30-30 tie between the parties), but the most interesting news on the legislative front may be the surprise retirement of youngish Republican state Sen. Jason Atkinson, who had a period of being universally described as "up-and-coming" before kind of slipping off people's radars in the last few years. He says he won't be out of public service for long, meaning he might be thinking about a statewide run in 2014. (David Jarman)
• Campaign Finance: This New York Times article about how the IRS is starting to look into cracking down on tax-exempt 501(c)(4) organizations that don't do anything in favor of the "social welfare" (unless you consider electing Republicans to be an example of "social welfare") is worth a read. Maybe most interesting, though, is a buried nugget, pointing to a truly nasty possibility at the juncture of Citizens United and SpeechNow that hadn't occurred to me before: corporations giving to political 501(c)(4)s and then writing it off their taxes as a business expense. (David Jarman)
• Maine: PPP rounds out its Maine sample with the usual grab bag of miscellaneous data. Most attention-grabbing are the numbers on the gay marriage referendum that will appear on November's ballot; the ballot measure's language (which would re-legalize gay marriage, undoing a previous referendum) is favored by a 47-32 margin, and more generally, voters think by a 54-41 spread that gay marriage should be legal, a pretty remarkable turnaround in little more than two years. They also find Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins both popular, at 69/26 and 60/31 respectively, but Republican Gov. Paul LePage not so much. He's at 41/52 approvals, and would lose a hypothetical rematch to independent Eliot Cutler 43-35 (with 19 for Dem Libby Mitchell). (David Jarman)
• Ohio GOP: It looks like state GOP chair Kevin DeWine is declaring victory over Gov. John Kasich in the long-running, utterly parochial battle for control of the Ohio Republican Party. (For some background on this baroque fight, click here and here.) But while DeWine may have prevailed in this round—candidates loyal to him just won election to the party's central committee, giving him a majority—I can't imagine an egomaniac like Kasich is going to give up. In other words, here's hoping for more cat fud!
• NY Redistricting: Thanks to jeffmd's hard work, we now have complete election results according to the court's proposed new congressional districts for all statewide elections in New York in 2008 and 2010. At the link, you'll also find re-cast congressional results (that is to say, how things would look if everyone voted for Congress under the new lines the same way they did the last two cycles) and voter registration figures, again broken now by CD. Below is a chart of the Obama-McCain results, which you can also find here:
|New CD||Old CD||Incumbent||Party||Obama
• NY-05: Oh, I know he won't possibly follow through on this, but if he did, GOP Rep. Bob Turner would create the most hilarious incumbent-vs.-incumbent matchup of the cycle by far. Said Turner of the new court-drawn map: "I am prepared to run in whatever district I reside in once the final lines are adopted." Well, right now, his neighborhood of Rockaway Point in Queens has been placed into the new 5th CD, where Dem Rep. Gregory Meeks would undoubtedly seek re-election. As it happens, it's also a majority-black district that support Obama by a truly comical 86-14 margin. I wonder if Turner would outperform McCain....
• NY-07: I've been skeptical about the prospect of NYC councilman Erik Dilan actually going ahead with a challenge to Rep. Nydia Velazquez in the Democratic primary, something rumored since last year and which Dilan recently confirmed he's been looking at. Now Dilan's gone ahead and created an FEC committee; while certainly not dispositive, it's obviously a step closer to an actual run. What's more, the new draft congressional map strengthens his hand, in part by placing an enclave of Satmar Hasidim allied with Brooklyn Democratic boss Vito Lopez into Velazquez's district (which used to be the old 12th) from Ed Towns' turf. What do a bunch of Hasidim have to do with this race? Lopez and Velazquez are arch-enemies, so any group loyal to Lopez would be likely to side with Dilan.
• NY-09/NY-08: Relatedly, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries has filed objections to the proposed new map, which removes much of his base from the district represented by Rep. Ed Towns (the old 10th, the new 8th), the man he's hoping to unseat in the Democratic primary. Now Jeffries would likely have to face off against a different Democrat, Yvette Clarke, in the new 9th (old 11th). I happen to think Jeffries would have a shot at defeating Clarke, who gets a bunch of new turf under this map and has never faced a stiff primary challenge, unlike Towns, who pretty much gets one every cycle. But Clarke doesn't like the idea, either, since she, too, has made her unhappiness known to the court. Oh, and this is all related to the above item because Lopez has forged an unlikely alliance with Jeffries, so the removal of Lopez supporters from Towns' seat hurts Jeffries.