• Daily Kos Elections is pleased to announce our first set of Senate race ratings for the 2012 election cycle:
P.S. Look for our gubernatorial race ratings later today at Daily Kos Elections.
• AZ-Sen, AZ-01, AZ-09: The Arizona AFL-CIO just handed out endorsements in three contested Democratic primaries. In the Senate race, they went with former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, in the 1st Congressional District, they're backing ex-Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, and in the 9th, they're supporting ex-state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.
• MD-Sen: Dem Sen. Ben Cardin is out with his second ad of the primary, and, well, I just plain like it! The narrator talks about "oysternomics," explaining how Cardin's help in restoring oyster beds helped not only the oyster industry but the whole food chain (forgive me) that depends on the oyster trade, from the sea to the restaurant table. The spot actually features Cardin on an oyster boat sorting through the catch, and unlike, say, Harold Ford wearing a hunting cap, he doesn't look out of place. Just a joyful ad with a great spirit (and excellent production values). The feel-good TV spot of the year! Check it out at the link or below:
However the election shakes out this fall, it's clear that the majority margin will be razor thin. Into this situation, any party candidate, no matter how reasonable, automatically comes with baggage. "We could send down a combination of Pericles and Thomas Jefferson, and if that person's reporting to (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid or (Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell, he's going to be ineffective. Every vote is a test vote. Every vote is party loyalty. We're sunk if it keeps up this way," King said.• NJ-Sen, NJ-06: A good catch by sapelcovits in comments: Former Highlands mayor Anna Little, who for a long time appeared to be on the brink of running for Senate, was spurned at her recent party convention and now, according to PolitickerNJ, will go back to doing what she planned to do at the start of the cycling: seeking a rematch against Dem Rep. Frank Pallone. It's an almost certainly futile bid—if she couldn't win in 2010, how can she hope to prevail in 2012? But it's not like the Senate race was a much better option, seeing how the establishment has broadly rallied around state Sen. Joe Kyrillos. New Jersey Republicans have picked the less-electable candidate in statewide primaries before (see Brett Schundler, NJ-Gov, 2001), but I think Little would have had a real struggle. Now, instead, she has a real struggle.
He believes, if he heads to Washington truly as an independent and beholden to no one, he may have a chance to break the logjam. Certainly, if five or six senators like him were elected to Washington — which could just happen in 2014 if politicians around the country see that King has been effective — it could end the damaging political impasse.
• TX-Sen: Former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz is out with his first ad of the campaign, a $220K buy that's appearing on Fox News. I have to say, I'm impressed: He seriously manages to tickle conservative erogenous zones by claiming he fought back against U.N. and World Court rulings which "overruled" the conviction of Jose Ernesto Medellin, "a Mexican national convicted of gang-raping and murdering two teenage girls in Houston" (as the Dallas Morning News summarizes). Obviously that whole "overruling" thing didn't go so well, seeing as the Supreme Court cleared the way for Medellin's execution—but that's precisely what Cruz is taking credit for, and that should really appeal to the black helicopter crowd. Cruz then somehow segues into the argument that his success in the Medellin case is why he'll save the nation from bankruptcy. (Seriously.) Watch for yourself here or below:
• VA-Gov: Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell is finally looking a bit more mortal, and it only took an ugly controversy over forcible transvaginal ultrasounds to make that happen. In Quinnipiac's newest poll, McDonnell's at an all-time job approval low, though his numbers are admittedly still pretty good at 53-32. That's down from 58-24 just one month ago, though, so it's a pretty abrupt drop.
• AZ-02: Here's another Democrat saying "no" to the AZ-02 race in the wake of Ron Barber's decision to seek a full term: Businesswoman Nan Stockholm Walden won't run, and it sounds like she's endorsing Barber, adding that she plans to "work hard" to get him elected.
• AZ-06: Oh god, this cat fud is so tasty I can hardly stand it! The Club for Growth, furious about Eric Cantor's intervention in the IL-16 GOP primary on behalf of the ostensibly less-conservative Adam Kinzinger, has sent an open letter to House GOP leadership warning them not to get involved in the upcoming AZ-06 member-on-member primary between Ben Quayle and David Schweikert. Republican honchos have, for inscrutable reasons, been fluffing Quayle's candidacy, but the CfG wants them to stay neutral—and in fact, they're demanding that John Boehner match his $10,000 donation to Quayle with one to Schweikert. (That contribution was made before redistricting set the two men on a collision course.) If not, the Club says it "will consider it necessary to intervene on behalf of Rep. Schweikert." Oh please, oh please....
• FL-02: After her recent court setback (in which Florida's law barring her from running as a Democrat in 2012 was upheld), former Republican state Sen. Nancy Argenziano sounded pretty glum about her congressional prospects, so it's no surprise that she's now announced she won't continue with her House bid. That's good news for Democrats, since a third-party effort by Argenziano would have undermined our attempts to take this seat back from freshman GOPer Steve Southerland. We haven't seen the last of Argenziano, though: She's going to run for the state House as an independent.
• IL-10: If it's a diary by Daily Kos Electioneer Xenocrypt, you know it's going to be thorough. Xeno starts with an observation about the winner of Tuesday night's Democratic primary, Brad Schneider:
Schneider has a fairly impressive record of community involvement and philanthropy, but basically, he's a businessman who hasn't just never run for elected office—as far as I know, he's never worked in government, never worked as a staffer, never worked on a campaign, and has never been an ideological or party activist.And then asks a question: "Do candidates with that 'profile' really have an impressive electoral track record?" Xeno takes a close look at every single member of the House who was first elected from 2000 onward (excluding those who'd run for office before) to figure out who, if anyone, has a similar background. I can't possibly summarize the findings, though, so to find out the potential answers, you'll have to click through.
• IL-13: When I went to bed on Tuesday night (at 2am!), the IL-13 Democratic primary still had not been called. It wasn't been called by Wednesday morning, either, though 100% of votes have now been counted, and physician David Gill has declared victory, with the AP reporting he received 15,507 votes to 15,364 for prosecutor Matt Goetten—50.2% to 49.8%. But wow was Gill's statement churlish. He didn't offer a single polite word for Goetten and instead kept acting like he has a huge chip on his shoulder, declaring: "The Wall Street money and the DC politicians couldn't stop our citizen-powered campaign." (That sort of remark is very in keeping with the tenor of many of his press releases.)
Goetten isn't conceding, though, saying he wants the absentee ballots to be counted. But Gill's 143-vote margin will be hard to overcome. The winner faces GOP Rep. Tim Johnson in November.
• IL-16: One post-mortem detail about the Kinzullo race is that the oddball Campaign for Primary Accountability—which likes to spend money to defeat incumbents of either party, for no reason other than the fact of their incumbency—forked out over $200K to help beat Don Manzullo. Given the complicated circumstances of this race, the CPA can't claim this scalp all for themselves (Adam Kinzinger clearly ran a hell of a race, as evidenced by his 12-point win), but this is now the second race (out of six so far) where they've been on the winning side. However, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the $90K or so they flushed trying to beat Dem Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. in IL-02, though.
• MD-06: With less than two weeks to go before the Democratic primary, physician Milad Pooran is pumping $200K of his own money into the race, claiming he has polling showing that 40% of voters are still undecided. Still, it will take a lot for him to move past the contest's two big names: state Sen. Rob Garagiola and financier John Delaney. Delaney's camp claims they've raised $739K so far this year, but I'm sure a lot of that came from Delaney's own fat wallet. Garagiola hasn't previewed his fundraising, but pre-primary reports are due at midnight Eastern on Thursday.
• MI-06: The conservative American Action Network is coming in to rescue GOP Rep. Fred Upton, who faces a primary challenge from the right in the form of ex-state Rep. Jack Hoogendyk. According to Politico's Morning Score, AAN is spending in the "low six figures" to run a bunch of paid media on behalf of Upton, including this ad which tries to paint him as a "fiscal conservative." (A question for the audience: Do you think anyone ever actually picks up the phone to call Politician So-and-so about Issue Such-and-such when they're exhorted to by fakey "issue" ads?)
• NC-08: Former congressional aide Richard Hudson is on the air with a small ($15K) buy backing a goofy spot in which he tries to compare his bulldog "Hoover" to Dem Rep. Larry Kissell. (I can't believe the things I have to write sometimes.) The ad doesn't even make sense on its own terms, because on the one hand, he says Hoover is a good watchdog, unlike Kissell. On the other, he says Hoover "consumes everything in sight," just like Congress. So is this a good dog or a bad dog? I'm not clear, but either way, I think this dog won't hunt.
While we're on the race, we should note that the Club for Growth just endorsed one of Hudson's rivals for the GOP nomination, former Iredell County Commissioner Scott Keadle. And finally, in Roll Call's extensive new backgrounder on key races in the South, they cite an unnamed Republican operative who frets that former Winston-Salem City Councilman Vernon Robinson, if he captures the nomination, could seriously screw things up for them, given his history of outrageous statements. I never thought I'd say this, but go Vernon!
• NY-06: Though Assemblyman Rory Lancman may not be the official favorite of the Queens Democratic Party (that honor went to fellow Assemblymember Grace Meng), he just picked up the first big non-party endorsement of the race. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (aka the RWDSU), which has 40,000 members in NYC, just gave him their backing. And there may be more to come. Says the organization's president: "We wanted to weigh in early because we wanted to send a message to the rest of [the] labor-friendly coalition in New York City."
• NY-13: Dem Rep. Charlie Rangel, in spite of his age, ethics woes, health issues, and the specter of a serious primary challenge, announced on Wednesday that he will indeed seek a 22nd term. Now the real question is whether that serious primary challenge will actually materialize, seeing as some of the biggest players apparently prefer to keep waiting until the seat is open. The main guy to keep an eye on is state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who has started petitioning just to keep his options open but hasn't formally made up his mind yet.
• NY-26: Former Buffalo Bills hall-of-fame running back Thurman Thomas quickly shot down reports on Wednesday which suggested he might want to run for Congress, saying he won't challenge Dem Rep. Brian Higgins. Wisely so: This would have been a suicide run for Thomas, who happens to be a big Carl Paladino supporter, seeing as the redrawn 26th is now a 63% Obama district.
• NY-27: One more potential Republican candidate is saying he won't run against Dem Rep. Kathy Hochul: state Sen. Patrick Gallivan. While everyone is waiting on former Erie County Executive Chris Collins, the article also mentions a couple of other new GOP names: Erie County legislator John Mills and Assemblyman Stephen Hawley.
• PA-17: Well, now I'm just not sure what to make of this story. On Wednesday, The Hotline's Scott Bland reported that "a source with" attorney Matt Cartwright's campaign says they've already raised a monster $600K for Cartwright's challenge to Rep. Tim Holden in the Democratic primary. But not long after, Cartwright's own campaign manager took issue with Bland's piece, saying they've never released any advance numbers and don't plan to. Did someone crack seriously out-of-turn here? Or is this all part of some weird game?
If these numbers are accurate, then this is a game-changing sum of money. If not, well, someone got played, and if I were the Cartwright campaign (or The Hotline), I'd be pretty pissed. Meanwhile, Holden's campaign says they've taken in $230K so far this quarter. But until we see official FEC fundraising reports (due April 12 on account of Pennsylvania's primary), we might not have a clear picture of what's going on here.
• WA-01: If you're talking publicly like you're considering dropping out, that pretty much means you're dropping out. Witness this quote from Dem state Rep. Roger Goodman, in response to rumors that he was planning to bail: "It’s full steam ahead for now. We may come to a fork in the road, we’re crunching the numbers now. I don’t know." Goodman also described his own fundraising this quarter as "anemic."
• WA-05: Democrats have lined up a candidate in the 5th (the Spokane-area, GOP-leaning district held by Cathy McMorris Rodgers): Rich Cowan, CEO of a film production company. He says he'll be "competitive" in fundraising, though I don't know if that means he has a lot of personal cash that he's willing to use, or just that he promises to work the phones extra-hard. Maybe the most important sentence of the article is the last one, though, which says that Spokane's ex-mayor, Mary Verner, is reportedly still interested in the race. Verner is probably the Dems' biggest local name, except maybe for state Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown. (David Jarman)
• Special Elections: Johnny Longtorso updates us on Tuesday night's interesting and unusual set of specials in New York:
New York SD-27: It hasn't been called yet, but Republican David Storobin leads Democrat Lew Fidler by 120 votes. If his lead holds, it would up the Republican ranks in the Senate to a 33-29 advantage.Regarding the Senate special, both candidates declared victory on Tuesday night, but the Daily News' Celeste Katz reports that absentee and affidavit (provisional) ballots won't be counted until March 27. So it'll be a while before we know the actual result here.
New York AD-93: Shelley Mayer easily held onto this seat for the Democrats, defeating Republican Donnamarie Nolan by a 78-22 margin.
New York AD-100: Former Assemblyman Frank Skartados will be going back to Albany; he picked up this seat for the Democrats by a 61-39 margin, defeating Republican John Forman.
New York AD-103: This one also hasn't been called, but Democrat Didi Barrett is holding on to a 154-vote lead over Republican Richard Wagner. Her victory would be another pickup for the Democrats.
New York AD-145: Okay, this one requires some explanation. Michael Kearns, running on the Republican ticket, defeated Democrat Christopher Fahey by a 57-43 margin. However, Kearns is a Democrat, and has said he'll caucus with the Democrats. So it's not really a loss. New York is weird.
• WI Recall: Republicans have announced a replacement candidate for ex-state Sen. Pam Galloway, who abruptly resigned last week but nevertheless has to "face" the recall election she was otherwise destined to face. They're tapping state Rep. Jerry Petrowski. He'll most likely square off against fellow state Rep. Donna Seidel in the recall.
• Candidate Filings: We've seen filing deadlines pass in several states in recent days, so here are links to official filing lists:
Iowa (PDF) | Maine | Nevada (Clark County-only races) & Nevada (all others) | New Mexico (federal) & New Mexico (state) | Utah• Demographics (PDF): If you're in the mood for a whole lot of charts and maps, the Census Bureau is out with an interesting new report on the remarkable growth in the Asian-American population over the 2000-10 decade (even greater, on a percentage change basis, than Hispanics). It's at its most interesting toward the end, when it starts looking at the tapestries of the many varied Asian-American ethnicities in different metro areas. (David Jarman)
• NRCC: Yowza. The NRCC just held its annual dinner on Wednesday night, headlined by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley—and the event brought in $12 million. That compares to $10 mil for the same dinner last year. We'll bring you a full roundup of the most recent month's fundraising reports for all six major federal campaign committees shortly.
• FL Redistricting: Votes on Florida's new proposed Senate map are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, but even some Republicans are sounding awfully rebellious toward their leadership, so I wouldn't rule out the possibility of a derailment. One related bit of craziness: Lawmakers on the redistricting panel used lottery machine cages to randomly select balls to determine which districts would get odd numbers and which would get even numbers. (One reason the Florida Supreme Court struck down the original map was because district numbers had been picked to maximize advantage for incumbents.)
• NY Redistricting: You'll have to scroll all the way down to the very bottom, to the entry following Docket No. 252, for this bit of welcome news. Even though the legislature just passed (and the governor just signed) new legislative maps, the court which drew the state's new congressional map isn't closing up shop. Certain parties (led by the state Senate Democrats) have taken the position that the court should still draft legislative lines of its own, arguing that the legislature's own maps might fail to pass muster for two separate reasons. First, they need to go through the Dept. of Justice's preclearance process, and second, there's also a pending lawsuit (now in state court) over whether the state Senate map can constitutionally be expanded from 62 to 63 seats, as Republicans have now drawn it.
While I'd expect the lege's maps to get precleared, the 63 vs. 62 seat issue is a serious one, and I think the plaintiffs in that state court case have a very good argument as to why 62 is the right number. Unfortunately, I also figure that the legislature has a 62-seat version ready to go if the 63-district plan gets knocked down, so they could still short-circuit the federal court even if the state court nukes the new lege plans. Still, this is very good news and gives us a small ray of hope that we might see better maps. Now we just need the state court to strike down the Senate map....