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Leading Off:

IL-16: This seems pretty remarkable: A week after personally endorsing Adam Kinzinger in the GOP primary, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's super PAC, the YG Action Fund, is spending $50K to air a last-minute radio ad ahead of Tuesday's election. I thought Cantor's involvement in the race was pretty unusual to begin with, but to fork out actual dollars to help knock off a veteran incumbent, Don Manzullo, seems doubly so. But it also feels like a fairly smart move: If Kinzinger wins this tight, ugly race, he'll owe total loyalty to Cantor for time immemorial.

Senate:

ME-Sen: Now that Thursday's major-party filing deadline has passed, the field in Maine's wide-open Senate race is all but set... and remarkably, for Democrats, we're exactly back to where we started when Olympia Snowe was still running for re-election. Team Blue's roster consists of former Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, state Sen. Cynthia Dill, state Rep. Jon Hinck and home builder Benjamin Pollard—all of whom were preparing bids before Snowe said she'd retire. The low profile of all of these candidates certainly makes it seem like the DSCC will try to support independent ex-Gov. Angus King, as rumored. But let's see how he actually fares on the campaign trail before anyone coronates him. (As an independent, King doesn't have to file until June.)

The Republican lineup is also as we expected: Secretary of State Charlie Summers, Attorney General William Schneider, Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, former state Senate president Rick Bennett, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Debra Plowman, and tea partier Scott D'Amboise. While some of these people have a bit of name rec, SoS, AG, and treasurer are not elected positions in Maine, so most start out relatively unknown. Even Poliquin and Summers, the most prominent of the bunch, were question marks for almost half of voters in PPP's poll (PDF).

MO-Sen: Well, it's definitely time to put Scott Rasmussen back in his own containment pool. Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill in the lows 40s I can believe. A schnook like Sarah Steelman, who raised less money than a Some Dude House candidate last quarter, at 51%, though? No chance, Scottie.

NY-Sen: All three Republican Senate contenders scored 25% of the vote at the state party convention on Friday afternoon, assuring each of them of a spot on the ballot. Conservative activist Wendy Long did best, winning 47%—just shy of the 50% threshold to become the party's official nominee (though I don't think, in practice, that such a designation gets you very much). As for the other two contenders, Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos took 27%, and Rep. Bob Turner barely made the cutoff with 25%. Now this trio can tear each other apart ahead of the June 26 primary, before Dem Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand steamrolls the lucky winner into oblivion.

At least one latecomer decided he didn't want any part of this mess, though: Hedge fund manager and Rye town supervisor Joe Carvin bailed shortly before the convention, even though he only announced his entry in the first place on Feb. 29. That was quick! Politicker's Colin Campbell speculates that Turner's decision to run for Senate crowded Carvin out, since the two men have some of the same consultants.

TX-Sen: Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, despite being richer than god, is only now going up with his first TV ad, reportedly just a "light buy" on Fox News. Dewhurst has a brilliant theme: Blame the baby boom generation (you know, people who vote) for the country's current fiscal crisis. Not kidding—I never kid! In this line of work, you don't need to make up ridiculous stories—they just happen on their own. See for yourself:

UT-Sen: While we can't say for sure, it seems like Sen. Orrin Hatch fared pretty well on Thursday night, when some 125,000 Republican caucus-goers met to elect 4,000 delegates to the statewide convention next month. Due to superior organizing, Hatch won all three delegates in the home precinct of former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist, his strongest rival, and also apparently enjoyed "strong support" in the caucus of his other challenger, state Rep. Chris Herrod. We won't know for certain how things went, though, until those 4,000 delegates cast their votes in April.

Gubernatorial:

MD-Gov: Some Republican's gonna have to run for governor in Maryland in 2014, and Frederick County Board of Commissioners president Blaine Young says it might be him.

MT-Gov: Another amazing catch by Montana Cowgirl: Republican gubernatorial candidate Neil Livingstone literally wrote a book that included a chapter with advice on how to pick up hookers. I'm not making this up, not at all. And no, this wasn't some ironic, jokey, Colbert Report-esque pamphlet. It's for real. You'll have to click the link if you don't trust me—and even if you do, you should click the link, because it's freakin' hilarious that this guy is running for office.

House:

CA-08: Seems like a bit of a writeup fail here, as the Barstow Desert Dispatch refers to a Republican pollster working for a candidate in the race as "an independent political consulting firm." Not so much: Blair Biggs Campaigns' client list is pure GOP, and the survey they've conducted is for Victorville Councilwoman Angela Valles, who is running for this open seat. Nevertheless, the poll finds Democrat Jackie Conaway nominally leading with 18%, while Valles and San Bernardino County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt are tied at 15 apiece. Don't get too excited about the possibility of Team Blue winning in this hostile red district: The poll included far more Republican names than Democratic ones, so the right-leaning vote got split. Even if Conaway is lucky enough to make it past the top-two primary, winning the general would be an extremely tall order.

CA-30: Unlike Loretta Sanchez, who tried to give her backing to Howbrad Shberman, Rep. Adam Schiff does not seem confused. He's come off the fence and endorsed Rep. Howard Berman in the hotly contested CA-30 Democratic primary.

IL-13: Matt Goetten's final TV ad is one of those "compare-and-contrast" spots, in which he starts out with an attack on his Democratic primary rival, David Gill, accusing him of "lying" and smearing Goetten, and then finishes with the usual positive pablum. The production values aren't awesome, but they're at least better than what we saw in Goetten's first ad. Anyhow, you can watch at the link.

NJ-10: Newark councilman Ron Rice became the first Democrat to say he'd run to succeed the late Rep. Donald Payne, who died earlier this month. (Rice had long been preparing to challenge Payne in the primary.) He was quickly joined by a second candidate, state Sen. Nia Gill, whose name hadn't really come up in prior discussions of potential office-seekers. Whoever wins the Dem primary here will be all but guaranteed of winning in November in this dark blue district.

NY-06: So after Thursday night's craziness—when Assemblyman Rory Lancman dropped out of the race, followed just hours later by Rep. Gary Ackerman saying he would retire—Lancman is, predictably, hopping back into the Democratic field. A lot of other names say they're considering: Assemblywoman Grace Meng, City Councilman Mark Weprin, state Sen. Tony Avella (who got double-bunked in redistricting), and, believe it or not, Assemblyman David Weprin, who of course lost badly in last year's NY-09 special election. A few more Great Mentioner possibilities include 2009 city council candidate S.J. Jung, Councilman Jim Gennaro, and Councilwoman Liz Crowley. For the GOP, the options are slim, but one potential candidate is Councilman Dan Halloran.

One Democrat is taking his name off the table, though: Rep. Joe Crowley, who will, as expected, seek re-election in the redrawn 14th. That district is heavily Hispanic, though, so I suppose there was some small chance he might prefer to run in the 6th—but he only represents a tiny portion of the 6th, and what's more, it's heavily Asian. That's why it's notable that Meng, the only Asian-American legislator in the state, is looking at the seat—though of course "Asian" covers a very broad array of ethnic and national groups. (Meng is of Chinese ancestry, though she's won the support of Korean groups in the past.)

OH-02: Meow! Charlie Cook on soon-to-be-ex-Rep. Jean Schmidt's primary loss:

[S]he was apparently behind the door when God handed out the charm and gregariousness that most elected officials possess. Schmidt is an acquired taste that many in her district and on Capitol Hill never managed to acquire.
PA-12: Rep. Jason Altmire is out with a new internal poll from Anzalone Liszt, which shows him extending his lead over fellow Rep. Mark Critz in the Democratic primary. The new survey has Altmire up 55-31, whereas his January poll had him up 50-34. The primary is April 24.

Meanwhile, Critz won't appeal a judge's ruling that his Democratic primary rival, Rep. Jason Altmire, can stay on the ballot in spite of a challenge to his signatures. This was probably the right move, since the judge's decision hinged on a determination of witness credibility—not the kind of thing an appeals court likes to second-guess. But I think Critz's mistake here was not gunning harder at the trial court level when he had the chance, to try to undermine the testimony of a key petition-gatherer that Altmire's entire case depended on. In any event, now Critz just has to put his head down and hope that the unions in his corner can somehow help him overcome his sharp geographic disadvantage here.

WA-01: It seems like there's some confusion in Washington over how to handle the special election to replace Dem Rep. Jay Inslee, who is resigning later this month. State law says that the special won't take place until November, and ordinarily, there would just be a single election both for the unexpired final two months of Inslee's term and the full term starting in January. (Many states separate the two in this circumstance.) But because of redistricting, Washington likely can't hold just one election, because the old 1st District (which would apply to the stub term) has different lines than the new 1st (which would apply to the full two-year term). So officials might have to conduct two parallel elections, or they just might not fill the unexpired term at all.

Other Races:

IN-SoS: It looks like a major chapter in the long-running Charlie White saga has finally come to an end. Gov. Mitch Daniels has now appointed a replacement for the disgraced former Secretary of State: state Sen. Connie Lawson, described by the AP as a "moderate," for whatever that's worth.

WI Recall: Huge news out of Wisconsin, where GOP state Sen. Pam Galloway, who is facing a recall, has instead resigned her post. Galloway, first elected just a year and a half ago by less than 5%, cited health issues in her family. Her decision leaves the Senate evenly split between 16 Republicans and 16 Democrats, which in turn means that the two parties will now share power in the chamber and be evenly represented on committees. The recall will also still go forward, and Democrats have a strong candidate, state Rep. Donna Seidel. The GOP, on the other hand, will now have to recruit someone new. Possible options include state Reps. Jerry Petrowski and Mary Williams.

Grab Bag:

North Carolina: Thanks to PPP's relentless monthly polling, North Carolina must be the most extensively surveyed state in the nation. As per usual, Tom Jensen's out with their standard batch of sports-and-random politicians miscellany. Also this month: The Tarheel State hates Rush Limbaugh.

WATN?: Former Illinois Dem Gov. Rod Blagojevich began serving a his sentence for corruption in a Colorado federal prison on Thursday, but if you want a chilling view of what the next 14 years of his life will look like, I strongly encourage you to read Jeff Smith's piece in which he gives advice to Blago on how to survive in jail. Smith spent a year incarcerated himself, after lying to law enforcement officials investigating negative campaign materials he put out in 2004 attacking Russ Carnahan, when both were running in the Democratic primary for the open MO-03 seat. (Carnahan narrowly won.) Mostly Smith exhorts Blagojevich to be "humble," something I have a hard time seeing him capable of being.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Mar 19, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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