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Leading Off:

IN-Sen: Two new polls of the Indiana Senate GOP primary—the first we've seen in quite some time—started making the rounds on Monday morning, one from the dodgy right-wing firm Wenzel Strategies (on behalf of Citizens United), and one from the respected Democratic pollster Global Strategy Group (for Rep. Joe Donnelly, who is running for Senate). Interestingly, they both produced identical results, showing Sen. Richard Lugar leading Treasurer Richard Mourdock 45-39. GSG adds (PDF) that in October, Lugar was up 48-36.

Interestingly, Democrats have also leaked some general election numbers from the GSG poll—something we've almost never gotten a glimpse of in this race. Lugar leads Donnelly 42-29, with Libertarian Andrew Horning at 9. Meanwhile, Donnelly tops Mourdock 34-28 with Horning at 8. Those third-party numbers seem awfully high (Horning took 2% in a 2008 gubernatorial run), but if you can buy Lugar at 42, well, that's not especially good news for him.

In other not-good-for-Lugar news, he says he'll appeal the decision of the Marion County Election Board which declared him ineligible to vote in his home precinct last Friday because he no longer maintained a residence there. I don't see why he'd go to the effort of appealing, since he can just re-register at a different address (like at the farm he owns), but if Lugar wants to keep this issue in the papers even longer, that's fine by me.

And in even more bad Dick Lugar news, he must really be feeling the heat over the residency issue. Pummeled for months over just how much time he's actually spent in Indiana since first getting elected in 1976, he's finally released some data on how many days he's been in the state in that 36-year period. And man, they do not help his cause: In the last 12,860 days, Lugar's only set foot in the Hoosier State on 1,805 of them, or just 14%. And note that this figure doesn't refer to overnight visits or full days—just days in which he took at least one breath of Indiana air. These numbers were also offered without any documentation, but I believe them, because if they were gonna make `em up, they should have made up better numbers! Anyhow, I'd love to know how this compares to other longtime senators, though I'm sure Lugar doesn't stack up favorably.

Senate:

NJ-Sen (PDF): Farleigh Dickinson University has Dem Sen. Bob Menendez leading state Sen. Joe Kyrillos 43-33 in their newest poll, little changed from the 43-31 they saw in January. FDU also tested Menendez against "someone else," who utterly upends the race and leads 37-30. I have to give props to FDU here, because they actually wrote a very funny press release about this possible contender:

According to poll director Peter Woolley, "Most voters think someone else is a nearly ideal candidate. They say someone else is refreshing, straightforward, honest and represents the true interests of ordinary people."

Woolley continued, "Someone else is almost always more popular. Someone else is a better dresser. Someone else gets the hot stock tips. Someone else gets promotions and pay raises too. Someone else even wins the lottery."

Someone else does have a downside. "Someone else seems to have a troubled domestic life," opined Woolley. "Someone else always leaves dishes in the sink, lets the dog get out, and chips the paint on your brand new car. Someone else is also reputed to have broken up more than a few marriages."

The poll did not ask about anyone else. "Asking about anyone else would be ridiculous," said the poll director. "Anyone else may not even be eligible to run."

Gubernatorial:

IL-Gov: The presidential ballot access story in Illinois has turned out to be quite fascinating. Last week, reports said that Mitt Romney's state campaign chair, Treasurer Dan Rutherford, let Rick Santorum off the hook despite his failure to file an adequate number of signatures because Rutherford, who is supposedly looking at a gubernatorial bid in 2014, wanted to stay in good graces with Santorum's movement conservative backers. But now a fuller picture has emerged, and it paints Rutherford in an even worse light: Rutherford took his boot off Santorum's neck because he—Rutherford—had screwed up Romney's own signature-gathering efforts and also had Romney's statement of candidacy notarized out-of-state, which is against Illinois law. As one unnamed Romney official put it, they were "flabbergasted that an Illinois statewide official had no organization." No kidding.

House:

AZ-02: Some big news out of Arizona, where former Gabby Giffords aide Ron Barber, who is seeking to replace her in the June AZ-08 special election, has now announced that he'll also run for a full term in the redrawn AZ-02 in November. Barber is unopposed in seeking the Democratic nod for the special, but if he wins that race, will anyone attempt to challenge him in the primary for the fall election?

Indeed, there's already been some quick fallout: State Rep. Steve Farley says he won't run for Congress and will instead return to his plan to run for state Senate; on the flipside, state Rep. Matt Heinz is staying in the race. Note: Candidates will have to file for the regular election on May 30, before the outcome of the special is known.

AZ-09: Paradise Valley councilman Vernon Parker, who first expressed interest in running the new 9th CD last month, is now joining the Republican field.

CA-21: Good catch by SaoMagnifico in comments: The awesomely-named Blong Xiong, a Frenso city councilman running for the Democratic nod in CA-21, picked up the endorsement of Rep. Jim Costa right out the gate. Like Xiong, Costa is also from Fresno. Of course, as has been much-discussed around these parts, Fresno isn't actually in the 21st, but winning the backing of a sitting member of Congress when you face a competitive primary is usually a pretty decent get.

FL-11: Long-ago Winter Springs city councilor Don Browning is dropping his challenge to GOP freshman Rich Nugent and is endorsing the incumbent. There was quite a bit of unhappiness in Republican circles last cycle when Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite announced her retirement at the filing deadline and endorsed The Nuge, whom she'd clearly tipped off about her plans. But I guess he'll have smooth sailing from here on out, at least for this year.

IA-02: State Sen. Joe Seng, who first said he was considering the race earlier this month, has filed paperwork to challenge Rep. Dave Loebsack in the Democratic primary. As we noted at the time, Seng appears to be motivated partly out of ideology (he's to Loebsack's right) and partly out of geography (Seng's base is in Davenport, which was newly added to the district). Usually Dem primary challenges originate on the left, though, I'm not really sure what Seng is thinking. What's more, Loebsack already has $451K in the bank and surely will have plenty of establishment support. I just hope this race doesn't damage Loebsack for the general election.

IL Primaries: A roundup of some of the final paid media hitting the airwaves ahead of Tuesday's Illinois primaries:

IL-08: Dem Tammy Duckworth has a positive biographical TV spot, which is the only ad posted to her YouTube account.

IL-10: Democrat Ilya Sheyman says he'll fight for Medicare, Social Security, and women's reproductive rights in this closing radio ad.

IL-16: In response to Rep. Eric Cantor's support for Adam Kinzinger in the GOP primary, Illinois Rep. Tim Johnson has cut a last-minute radio ad on behalf of Don Manzullo (phoned in from the bottom of the sea).

IL-16: This is another one of those "not newsy, but juicy" profiles of the IL-16 GOP primary, this time from Roll Call's Shira Toeplitz, who offers all kinds of great tidbits. The best line comes from Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who almost hilariously claims of Rep. Don Manzullo that "he and I are friends," while the entire rest of the piece is dedicated to showing just how much that is not the case. (Toeplitz even goes so far as to describe the relationship between the two men as one of "seething hate"!) The whole thing is worth a read.

While we’re on the topic, Manzullo is now trying to make the case that Eric Cantor's gone wildcat in his highly unusual support of Kinzinger. Manzullo claims that the No. 3 man in the House GOP caucus, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, is "madder than hell" at Cantor and called him up to try to distance himself from Cantor's move. Man, it would be a real gift if this race wound up driving a serious wedge between John Boehner's two top lieutenants.

Continuing with the story, The Hotline's Josh Kraushaar has an interesting tidbit on the Kinzullo race. He writes: "Republican operatives tracking the race said that Manzullo has moved into a narrow five-point lead over the past week, after starting the contest behind." Of course, we haven't seen any polling memos, so take it for what it's worth. The rest of the piece makes the argument that Eric Cantor really screwed up by getting involved in this contest; among other things, it prompted some conservative organizations to jump in at the last minute for Manzullo.

And if Manzullo wins, boy will Cantor have one angry mofo on his hands. Indeed, Manzullo's already started calling on Cantor to step down from his post as Majority Leader. The Hill's Cameron Joseph has a lot more cat fud at that link as well—like Toeplitz's piece, a very worthwhile read.

MA-06: Though there's nothing newsy in this piece, the Boston Globe's Noah Bierman offers a good backgrounder on the race for Massachusetts' 6th Congressional District, where Dem Rep. John Tierney faces a tough challenge from former state Sen. Richard Tisei, a Republican. Tierney's still getting grief for his wife's 2010 guilty plea to charges of filing false tax returns on behalf of her brother, even though Tierney himself has never been linked to the whole mess. Meanwhile, Tisei's cultivated a "moderate" reputation in his many years in the legislature, raised a bunch of money very quickly, and is also openly gay—though lately, he's undermined himself by praising the tea party. In any event, the whole piece is worth a read.

MD-06: I get negative press releases in my inbox almost every day from both state Sen. Rob Garagiola and financier John Delaney, each bashing the other as hard as they can in their attempt to win next month's Democratic primary. (Monday: Garagiola blocked a credit card reform bill in the Senate; Delaney owned nursing homes cited for health and safety violations.) But MoveOn, which has endorsed Garagiola, is now in the game with an interesting hit on Delaney: He serves on the board of directors of Georgetown University, which refuses to cover contraception for students on its healthcare plan. (Sandra Fluke, you'll recall, is a Georgetown law student.) MoveOn is calling Delaney out over his silence on Georgetown's policies, so I'll be curious to see if that changes now.

P.S. And of course, the Garagiola campaign disputes Delaney's version of events regarding the credit card bill. This is why I generally don't like linking to these kinds of press releases, because if you want to be fair, where do you stop?

NJ-10: It looks like this ought to be a game-changing move: Newark City Council President Donald Payne, Jr. says he'll seek his late father's vacant House seat this fall. Given that the two men shared the same name, and the fact that the younger Payne is likely to secure the support of the crucial Essex County Democratic Party, he definitely ought to have the inside track here. Also running are Newark councilman Ron Rice and state Sen. Nia Gill. Irvington mayor Wayne Smith sounds likely to get in as well.

NV-02: Too bad: Sharron Angle won't run for Congress—or any other office—this year. Instead, she's devoting her efforts to capturing forest elves uprooting voter fraud, wherever it may be found. If you have a lot of time on your hands and want to get a good taste of Angle's brand of crazy, the linked video gets quite good at about a minute in.

NY-06: In the race for Rep. Gary Ackerman's open seat, the Queens Democratic Party gave its backing on Monday to Assemblywoman Grace Meng, who had expressed interest in running the moment Ackerman stepped aside. One person who officially nominated Meng was New York City Councilman Mark Weprin, so he's evidently taken himself out of the running. And state Sen. Tony Avella also says he won't run either and will instead back Meng.

However, another Democratic member of the council, Liz Crowley, is forging ahead with a bid—which is interesting, because her cousin is Rep. Joe Crowley, the powerful chairman of the Queens Dems and the man behind the Meng endorsement. Also in the race is Assemblyman Rory Lancman, though it's notable that along with Weprin, two other Jewish elected officials formally nominated Meng—an indication, says Colin Campbell, that Jewish leaders are trying to rally around Meng and not Lancman (who is also Jewish).

NY-13: Politicker's Hunter Walker takes note of the fact that Dem Rep. Charlie Rangel, who has been the subject of much speculation about a potential retirement or primary challenge, hasn't cast a vote in Congress since Feb. 9, "his longest absence from the House in at least ten years." A Rangel spokesman says he'd been in the hospital with a back injury. Needless to say, we wish him a speedy recovery.

NY-17: Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman says a source tells him that hedge fund manager Joe Carvin, who bailed on his very brief Senate run late last week, is thinking about running for Congress against Dem Rep. Nita Lowey in the new 17th (the successor to the old 18th). This seat became slightly less blue via redistricting, going from 62% Obama to 58%. But Carvin's biggest weapon is his wealth—he pledged to seed his stillborn Senate campaign with $1 million, and if he makes the same commitment here, he could make a splash. However, Carvin would first have to deal with businessman Mark Rosen in the Republican primary.

NY-19: Republican Rep. Chris Gibson has secured the Independence Party's ballot line, which last cycle went to the man he defeated, then-Rep. Scott Murphy.

NY-21: Too bad: Even though his hometown of Saranac Lake wound up in the redrawn 21st CD, two-time third-party wrecker Doug Hoffman says he won't run for Congress against Dem Rep. Bill Owens. This is a boost for businessman Matt Doheny, who now has the Republican field largely to himself. But Hoffman isn't disappearing: He plans to make a bid for the state Assembly this year.

NY-25: Ugh. This is not good news for Team Blue. Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks had been mentioned as a possible candidate against Dem Rep. Louise Slaughter for quite some time, and over the weekend, a flurry of reports said she'd finally jump in. Now, she's made it official. Why am I so concerned? Well, let me ask you this: If I told you Brooks was a Republican who nevertheless managed to get thrice elected in a county (the second-largest upstate) that went for Kerry by three points and Obama by 18, you'd figure she probably has some pretty decent chops. What's more, Slaughter is 82, and she's only raised $347K all cycle, despite knowing she might face a serious challenge—though she did confirm on Monday that she will indeed seek re-election.

Looming above all this is redistricting, which turned this seat (the old 28th) from a 69-30 Obama district to one that the president won by a 59-40 margin. That's at the outer edge of competitiveness for the GOP, but Brooks is their ideal candidate for this sort of race. And if Slaughter were to retire, we don't have a dominant bench here, except for Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, who was mayor of Rochester before winning statewide office. Even if Brooks doesn't win this time, she'd be setting herself up well for another go in 2014. Indeed, while I hate to suggest this about a fearless progressive fighter like Slaughter, Democrats might be better off if she passed the baton to Duffy this cycle, to give him a chance to get established himself in the seat now, in a presidential year (assuming he's interested).

NY-27: Iraq veteran David Bellavia, who had been thinking about a run for some time, just became the first Republican to announce a bid against Dem Rep. Kathy Hochul. Bellavia almost certainly won't have the field to himself, though: The Buffalo News' Bob McCarthy says that former Erie County Executive Chris Collins, who has also been discussed as a candidate ever since he lost his re-election bid last year, is "poised" to enter the race. One possible name is out, though: former state AG Dennis Vacco (the guy Eliot Spitzer turfed after just one term back in 1998) says he won't run.

WA-06: Kitsap County Commissioner Josh Brown said just days ago that he "could be very interested in running" for retiring Rep. Norm Dicks' seat, but now he's decided he won't make a bid. This means state Sen. Derek Kilmer is still the only announced Democrat in the race, and at this point, with so many other contenders declining, he's close to having the nomination locked up.

Other Races:

Special Elections: A big batch of specials on Tuesday night, all in New York, courtesy Johnny Longtorso:

SD-27: The main event, this is the seat of Democrat Carl Kruger, who resigned from the Senate in December following a guilty plea on charges of corruption. The candidates are NYC Councilman Lew Fidler (D/IP) and attorney David Storobin (R/Cons).

AD-93: An open Democratic seat in Yonkers. The candidates are attorney Shelley Meyer (D/WF/IP) and Some Dude Donnamarie Nolan (R/Cons).

AD-100: This seat is in Dutchess, Ulster, and Orange Counties, and incidentally looks almost like a miniature New York. This one is kind of interesting; the seat is open because Republican Thomas Kirwan passed away. He had served from 1994 to 2008, when he was defeated by Democrat Frank Skartados, then he came back and beat Skartados by a 15-vote margin in 2010. Skartados is the Dem/WF nominee in the special. His opponent is Dutchess County legislator John Forman (R/Cons/IP).

AD-103: Just a bit to the east of AD-100 is this seat in Columbia and Dutchess Counties, formerly held by a Republican. The nominees are Didi Barrett on the D/WF side, who unsuccessfully ran for the State Senate in 2010, and consultant Richard Wager on the R/Cons/IP side.

AD-145: Finally, we have a seat in southern Buffalo and its suburbs to the southeast. It was formerly held by a Democrat, and the candidates are Chris Fahey, a former Brian Higgins staffer who has an unusual combination of ballot lines (D/WF/Cons), and Buffalo Common Councilman Mickey Kearns on the R/IP ticket.

WI-LG: Mahlon Mitchell, the head of the Wisconsin firefighters' union and a prominent figure in last year's protests against Scott Walker in the state capital, says he'll run against Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch in the upcoming recall election. Mitchell had at one point been talked about as possible gubernatorial material, but by setting his sights a bit lower, he'll almost certainly be the leading Democrat in the race.

Grab Bag:

Campaign finance: Election law professor Rick Hasen offers some helpful pushback on a growing meme, that Citizens United didn't create the explosion in Super PAC money, but rather that SpeechNow, which allowed contributions of unlimited sizes to Super PACs. His theory is that Citizens United lifted the legal cloud over huge individual contributions to 527s (something that had been done a lot before anyway—see George Soros in 2004—but pre-CU operated in a legal grey area), and as evidence, he points to the huge explosion in outside spending that's occurred in the post-CU years.

I'm still wondering whether that remarkable correlation points to the actual causation, though. After all, even factoring out the legal cloud over 527s, ever since Buckley (meaning any point in the 80s or 90s) any rich person could still have spent as much on independent expenditures (IEs) in his own name as he possibly could have wanted—and many of these rich donors seem completely unfazed by the possibility of going public (whereas the argument is that CU lets donors hide behind the facade of 527s and 501(c)(4)s). I mean, look at the Koch brothers, Foster Friess, and Sheldon Adelson: they're doing all this out in the open, and seem in fact to welcome the publicity. (Whereas that seems limited to eccentric rich guys; the specter of corporations pouring in huge amounts of money directly from the corporate treasury, post-CU, never really seemed to materialize. Remember how Target was the first to wade into that field and promptly got smacked down for their MN-Gov contributions to Tom Emmer in 2010, and nobody else wanted to follow them down that road? It's public relations 101.)

Instead, what may have happened between now and 2008 is that rich guys seem to have looked at the great return on investment they got in 2010—only a few hundred thousand dollars in leverage in each of a few dozen competitive House races got them a whole new Congress much more to their liking that will save them millions of dollars—and they also saw that they can't rely on the small individual grass-roots donors or even the middle-sized-ante congressional committees to get it done. Instead, they realized they can do it all themselves; they just needed an object lesson, which they hadn't gotten before 2010. (David Jarman)

Demographics: Pew is out with cool new interactive maps showing the changes in Hispanic population on a county-by-county level over the last three decades. The numbers shouldn't be any surprise to anyone who follows redistricting, or demographics more generally, but it's one of those things that really comes alive when you see it as pictures. (David Jarman)

Redistricting Roundup:

FL Redistricting: The Florida state Senate released a new proposed map over the weekend, in response to the state supreme court ruling which struck down their original effort. (You can view the plan and all sorts of related data at the link.) An analysis by the Tampa Bay Times & Miami Herald suggests that the lines are somewhat less favorable to Republicans than those that were invalidated by the court, but Democrats say the map still does not pass constitutional muster. If the high court finds that this second effort (which still has to make it through the legislature first) is still no good, then the judges will draw a new map themselves.

Meanwhile, on the congressional front, trial has been scheduled for April 16 in state court. Florida's primary is not until August 14, but when it comes to redistricting litigation, it often seems like there's never enough time.

LA Redistricting: The Supreme Court on Monday barred the state of Louisiana from proceeding with its lawsuit against the manner in which congressional seats are reapportioned. Louisiana, which lost a seat this round, wanted only legal residents to be considered for the purposes of reapportionment.

NY Redistricting (PDF): As expected, the federal court responsible for drawing a new congressional map for the state of New York issued its final order on Monday. (The candidate petitioning period begins on Tuesday, so they were under the gun to get things finished by then.) The changes to the lines proposed by the magistrate judge last week are very minimal—you can find them catalogued in footnote 5 (beginning on p. 5), and you can also see them in map form here (PDF). A PDF containing maps for the entire state is here. An appeal (which would go directly to the Supreme Court) is possible, but I can't see anyone having much luck with that. For our analysis of the original draft map which came out a couple of weeks ago (and which is only differs very slightly from the final plan), see here.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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