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Leading Off:

IA-02: Completely hilarious:

Republican congressional candidate Dan Dolan of Muscatine arrived early at the Monroe County Courthouse for the Republican convention being held Saturday in Albia, Iowa.

Unfortunately, the county Democrats were holding their convention in the same building, and Dolan spoke to the wrong group of people.

"Nobody asked enough questions before he started speaking," Monroe County Supervisor Denny Ryan said. "It finally got to the point in the speech where one of the people said, 'Are you sure you're at the right convention?'"

I would have loved to have been in the audience for a moment like this!

Senate:

AZ-Sen: Businessman Wil Cardon, who is almost a zero in the polls and has trailed Rep. Jeff Flake badly in the GOP primary, is out with his first TV ad, an introductory spot. Though Cardon has hemmed and hawed about how much of his own money he plans to put into the race, the buy is reportedly for $230,000. But it doesn't help that he misspelled the city of Tucson as "Tuscon" in a shot of a scrapbook. Then again, it's not like Cardon is some carpetbagger (he's a fifth-generation Arizonan), so this goof doesn't fit into some kind of pre-existing narrative.

FL-Sen: Oh, Scottie.

FL-Sen: George LeMieux, who first dubbed Connie Mack the "Charlie Sheen of Florida politics," continues to ride the theme hard, now using it as the framework for a new 60-second radio spot. In what I think is a very subtle dig at Mack's earlier attempts to defend Charlie Sheen when LeMieux first deployed this barb, the ad concludes with the announcer saying of Mack: "Maybe he owes Charlie Sheen an apology." Yow! Even if LeMieux can't prevent Mack from winning the GOP nomination, I have a strong feeling he's really getting under his skin.

IN-Sen: Another ad from Republican Treasurer Richard Mourdock, whose campaign claims to Politico's Morning Score that they "maxed out on Fox News statewide and are going up on Indianapolis broadcast." I have no idea what it means to "max out" on television, and given Mourdock's relatively small kitty, I doubt he's doing it. But in any event, the ad's apparently going up, on TV and on radio as well. As per usual, the spot attacks Sen. Richard Lugar, the guy Mourdock's trying to unseat in the primary. You can watch it at the link.

ME-Sen: Former Gov. John Baldacci says that he, too, will not run for Senate, meaning that with Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree also declining to run, the three most prominent Democrats in Maine aren't getting into the race. Baldacci claims he wasn't influenced by the entry of the man he followed in office, independent ex-Gov. Angus King, but now it's really looking like King might be Team Blue's best hope of keeping this seat of out Republican hands—though I say that through gritted teeth.

It's still possible a Democratic entrant could catch fire, but now we're talking about a tier of potential candidates who are much less prominent and don't have any name recognition. After all the excitement that greeted Sen. Olympia Snowe's retirement announcement, it's hard to believe that this is where we are now. In any event, we'll know for sure what our field looks like on Thursday, since that's the filing deadline.

Angus King, 2002:

"The economic future will belong to the technologically adept."
Angus King, 2012:
"Already... some bozo set up a Twitter feed purporting to be me—Angus King—with my picture, with all these crappy twitters. I mean, what kind of world is this?"
OH-Sen: From the "Bad Headlines" Dept.: "Josh Mandel flew to Bahamas to give speech, raise cash from payday lenders." What more do you need to know? Well, the Cleveland Plain Dealer actually has a whole lot more, and none of it's very good for the young Republican Senate hopeful.

UT-Sen: Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, just shy of 78 years of age, promises that if he's re-elected this fall, he won't seek an eighth term in 2018. Phew!

Gubernatorial:

MT-Gov: Gubernatorial candidates in Montana just filed fundraising reports for the first two months of the year, and Democratic AG Steve Bullock continues to lead the way. He took in $100K and now has $440K cash-on-hand; his best-funded rival, ex-Rep. Rick Hill, raised $70K and has $290K in the bank. However, Bullock benefits from having the Democratic primary virtually to himself, while the GOP field features a large number of candidates all sharing the fundraising pie.

House:

CA-52: This is so weird. Earlier this week, SurveyUSA released a poll testing favorability ratings for several candidates in California's 52nd District, where Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray is seeking re-election. Then, they did the same thing all over again, just two days later, on behalf of the same client, KGTV-TV in San Diego. It was a strange poll to begin with, as it didn't include any head-to-heads, but to conduct it twice? The only difference is that on the second go-round, SUSA tested a larger list of names. I have no idea what's going on here. Do you?

FL-06: Former Navy cryptologist Heather Beaven, who lost badly to GOP Rep. John Mica in 2010 in the old version of this district, is running again in the new 6th. This time, she won't face Mica, since he's seeking re-election in the 7th instead, making this an open seat. But given that John McCain won here by a 53-45 margin, and that several high-powered Republicans are vying for their party's nomination, this will still be an incredibly tough race.

IL-10: Activist Ilya Sheyman just scored a couple of last-minute endorsements ahead of next Tuesday's Democratic primary: The United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club both gave him their backing.

IL-16: Looks like this one's gonna go down to the wire, if you go by We Ask America's new poll of the Adam Kinzinger-Don Manzullo GOP primary. They have the race a virtual tie at 43-42 Manzullo, though amusingly, they make a big show in their writeup of going out to the hundredths of a percent—even though the race isn't even tied in the tenths (a silly and false level of accuracy in any event). What's more remarkable is that just a month ago, they had Kinzinger up 47-34, which suggests that he stalled out (and even retreated a bit) while Manzullo has steamrolled ahead. Could be a long—and entertaining—election night.

MA-09: Christopher Sheldon has nearly all the hallmarks of a Some Dude, but this AP writeup of his entry into the 9th District race says he describes himself as a "financial markets analyst and trader," so perhaps he has some money. Even if he does, it'll still be a tough challenge for Sheldon, the first Republican to announce—whether he faces Rep. Bill Keating or his opponent in the Democratic primary, Bristol County DA Sam Sutter.

NY-18: Interesting: Democrat Sean Maloney reportedly told supporters on Wednesday that he plans to run for Congress—but supposedly, he'll do so in the redrawn 18th CD, home to GOP freshman Nan Hayworth, rather than in Chris Gibson's 19th. I had presumed he'd run in the 19th because Maloney (who is a New York City resident) has a connection to Sullivan County, which was his hook for considering a bid in the old 22nd. Sullivan wound up in the 19th, and I figured Maloney would as well.

But the linked report says he wants to go after Hayworth—and Wappingers Falls mayor Matt Alexander, who's been running here for a while, has already sent out a press release (no link, sorry) attacking him as a carpetbagging "Wall Street Democrat." This line of attack is pretty groan-worthy, since it never seems to work. (Similar charges were leveled against Dems Kirsten Gillibrand and Scott Murphy when they successfully ran for Congress upstate.) But it's also really disappointing to see Alexander go so negative so early—it almost feels like he's acting entitled to the nomination here. I suspect he'll have a challenging time getting it, though, since Maloney, a former aide to Govs. Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson who also ran for state AG in 2006, is almost certainly better-connected.

NY-21: Republican Matt Doheny, who is hoping once again to unseat Dem Rep. Bill Owens, once again secured the backing of the Independence Party, which also endorsed him in his effort last cycle, when he narrowly lost.

NY-23: Tompkins County Legislator Nate Shinagawa, who had previously expressed interest in running for the now-dismantled 22nd CD, says he'll now take on GOP freshman Tom Reed. Tompkins County (including the liberal bastion of Ithaca) have been placed inside into Reed's 23rd in the proposed new court-drawn map, so I wouldn't be surprised if other Ithaca-area Democrats got in, such as attorney Leslie Danks Burke and Maurice Hinchey staffer Dan Lamb. (Like Shinagawa, both had also said they wanted to run in the old NY-22.)

On the flip-side, though, yet another Democrat who had looked at the 22nd, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, says that he will not run for Congress this year. Hein's home base wound up in the proposed NY-19, where GOP freshman Chris Gibson will ostensibly seek re-election. But we do have a candidate here: One of the other NY-22 refugees, former Ulster County Democratic Party Chairman and former prosecutor Julian Schreibman, has already decided to challenge Gibson.

OH-02: While almost everyone's attention has been focused on the huge upset in the GOP primary in OH-02 last week, USA Today's Gregory Korte digs deeper into what was also a surprising win on the Democratic side. We originally dubbed William Smith a "Witness Protection Program Candidate," since no one could even get ahold of the guy who beat three-time candidate David Krikorian by 59 votes. Well, Korte did, and it turns out he's a 61-year-old former postal worker who calls his reasons for running a "long complicated story." More importantly, as Korte learned, a group calling itself the "Victory Ohio Super PAC" flooded the district with robocalls on behalf of Smith right before election day—and they're even more mysterious than Smith. They aren't registered with the FEC or the Ohio Secretary of State, and no one knows a thing about them. I certainly won't hold my breath waiting for Republican state AG Mike DeWine to investigate, though.

PA-17: Attorney Matt Cartwright is going up on the air with positive bio spots in his race to unseat Rep. Tim Holden in the Democratic primary—and Holden is also launching TV ads of his own. Cartwright's buy is for $70K, which includes two similar television commercials and a radio ad. You can find them all at the first link. Holden, meanwhile, is spending $85K on a spot which touts his record on a number of issues that his polls (and common sense) say probably appeal to primary voters, like fighting against NAFTA and Medicare premium increases. The ad (which you can find at the second link) also refers to him as "Democrat Tim Holden" three times—something he's probably quite unused to saying on the campaign trail, since he's always run in much redder districts than the new 17th.

While we're on the topic, a hilarious catch by Keegan Gibson, of the excellent PoliticsPA. On the left is a still from Holden's new ad; on the right, a screenshot from a spot he ran last cycle, using the same footage:

Holden ad screen captures
Grab Bag:

VRA: Like a number of other jurisdictions, Texas has now decided to directly challenge the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which mandates that changes to election procedures in certain jurisdictions with a history of discrimination be reviewed by the Dept. of Justice to determine whether they harm minority voting rights before they may be implemented. While most of the cases now percolating involve redistricting, Texas is raising the issue with regard to its new voter ID laws, which the DOJ recently denied preclearance. As Michael Li notes, though, what makes this more interesting is that Texas's case is being heard by a three-judge panel in Washington, DC, which means that any appeal will go directly to the Supreme Court. So while the VRA's constitutionality was inevitably going to wind up before the SCOTUS fairly soon, it could now get there even sooner.

Redistricting Roundup:

NY Redistricting: By the time you read this, the absolutely unholy redistricting deal between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature should already have been passed. (You can read the gory details at the link.) It had to happen now, because the court that just drew a new congressional map previously set a Thursday deadline for the parties to report on the status of legislative redistricting. Had the court not set this deadline, it's possible the process would have kept dragging on—and the court would still have been free to swoop in and take it over from the lege. But by creating this drop-dead date, it spurred somnolent Albany into action. Nothing like threatening a lawmaker to get him off his ass. Unfortunately, in this case, it's to entirely ill ends.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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