• CT-Sen: Quinnipiac has a new poll of the Connecticut Senate race, and the numbers are quite interesting. In particular, they show Dem Rep. Chris Murphy crushing pro-wrestling impresario Linda McMahon by a 52-37 spread, but find ex-Rep. Chris Shays holding Murphy to just a 41-40 edge. Shays is also moving up on McMahon in the GOP primary, but Murphy's lead over ex-SoS Susan Bysiewicz in the Dem primary remains in double digits. Click the link for our full analysis of all the results at Daily Kos Elections.
• IN-Sen: It seems like it's been a pretty long time since Dick Lugar had a good day, no? But it just keeps pouring in for the embattled Republican senator: Now he's repaying the Treasury for improperly billing taxpayers for hotel stays on visits to his home (?) state of Indiana, thanks to a good catch by Politico. It turns out that when the Senate is adjourned, you can't actually use public funds to pay for hotels in the state you've been elected to represent. Of course, Lugar doesn't actually own or rent any residence in Indiana, so he has to book a hotel room every trip back—and Senate bylaws say he needs to pay for that expense himself. Lugar predictably blamed it all on "staffers" and said he'd never even heard of this rule. I don't think he's helping his cause.
And man, Thursday only got worse for Lugar. In fact, I wonder if Arlen Specter is secretly trying to sabotage him. Why else offer an impromptu endorsement on CSPAN? When you're getting pounded from the right in a GOP primary like Lugar is, the last thing you want is the support of a notorious turncoat like Specter. Please, though, more like this!
• MO-Sen: It feels like we haven't heard much from the Tea Party Express this cycle, a fairly grifty conservative group which nevertheless did us a few solids in 2010 by helping unelectable maniacs like Christine O'Donnell prevail in Republican primaries over more palatable candidates. But they're back now, and they're endorsing Sarah Steelman for Missouri's GOP Senate nod. Believe it or not, despite her embarrassingly bad fundraising, I actually think Steelman might be the ablest Republican campaigner for general election purposes—after all, it's not as though Karl Rove will let her go without sufficient cash down the stretch. So I don't know that we want to root for her over Todd Akin or John Brunner.
What's awesome, though, is that some 18 local teabagger groups put out a joint statement rejecting TPX's attempts to "speak for Missouri Tea Party organizations." These People's Front of Judea/Judean People's Front type of schisms ("splitters!") are pretty routine in the tea party world, of course, but it's nice to see the circular firing squad reunite for one more show. The consultants behind TPX, though, probably still have access to some real money, while the local gangs tend to be lucky if they can afford to rent a church basement. So this whole thing probably won't matter much, but tea-infused cat fud? I'll take some.
• NE-Sen: Stupids. Yeah, sure, the GOP was trying to challenge Bob Kerrey's residency, even though the case was legally hopeless, simply to get the issue in the papers. But now a judge has already rejected their challenge, filed only days ago. So while Republicans will undoubtedly keep trying to bring up Kerrey's sojourn in New York City, one of their avenues for attack is now busted, and what's more, Kerrey gets to say that judge ruled he was a Nebraska resident. I love a little jiu-jitsu on the campaign trail.
• OH-Sen: Nice to see this: The League of Conservation Voters is throwing down $300K on behalf of Dem Sen. Sherrod Brown, who has been the number one Senate target of conservative third-party spending this cycle. It's an interesting ad, riding both themes that seem appropriate for the LCV (Brown's support for the clean energy industry) and Ohio (the manufacturing jobs created by said industry)—with a little nativist touch (jobs are being created here, "instead of in China or Mexico") thrown in. You can watch it at the link.
• UT-Sen: Rather weirdly, ex-state Sen. Dan Liljenquist, who of late seems to be struggling in his efforts to unseat Sen. Orrin Hatch, is asking conservative organizations FreedomWorks and Freedom Path to "get out of the way." Both groups have been supporting his candidacy, and FreedomWorks has even spent $650K on the effort, but I guess Liljenquist might be worried about orange hat syndrome. Still, unless he's raised a lot of money on his own and/or put together a hell of an organization, I wonder how he'll have sufficient resources to marshal his troops at the 4,000-person state convention next month, if he plans to spurn outside help.
• FL-Gov: Even though he won't be up for re-election until 2014, the Republican Party of Florida is already running ads trying to burnish Gov. Rick Scott's image, supposedly backed by a "very substantial" buy, whatever that means. (Probably b.s.—there's no reason to tell the truth, since I doubt anyone will put in the significant legwork necessary to "fact check" that claim.) Anyhow, Scott could probably use the help, given his very poor job approval numbers, but is the state GOP really going to be able to break through in an election year when both Obama and Romney will be flooding the state with their own ads? You can watch the spot (which tries to credit Scott for lowering Florida's unemployment rate) at the link.
• WI-Gov: Democrats have long been waiting on Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett to make a decision about the gubernatorial recall, and now he's finally provided a timetable. Barrett says he plans to make an announcement after the Government Accountability Board certifies the recall (their deadline is March 30) and before the Milwaukee mayoral election (which is April 3—Barrett faces minimal opposition in that contest). Assuming the recall takes place, there will be a primary on May 8 and a general on June 5.
• AZ-06: Wow. Ben Quayle (or whatever staffer wrote this for him) sure is hot under the collar. He just sent a letter to Club for Growth chief Chris Chocola (bcc'd to the world) excoriating them for their threat to support David Schweikert if House GOP leadership doesn't back down from helping Quayle. In his letter, Quayle accuses the Club of being "dictatorial" for issuing their ultimatum, and also points out that his CfG report card score is higher than Schweikert's. Somehow I don't think this is going to help de-escalate tensions... which is great!
While we're on the topic, there's yet more fallout over Eric Cantor's decision to endorse Adam Kinzinger in his successful IL-16 victory over fellow Rep. Don Manzullo earlier this week—the reason the Club started making threats in the first place. One unnamed House Republican tells The Hill's Cameron Joseph that "some members are angry" over what happened to Manzullo and that if the party's leaders make a similar play in the future, they "risk a revolt." Let's see if anyone actually puts their money where their mouth is, though.
• CA-26: Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks, who recently dropped her GOP affiliation and is running as an independent, is touting a new internal poll from Gorton Blair Biggs which allegedly shows her in a "strong second place" in the top-two primary, with Republican state Sen. Tony Strickland leading the way and all three Democrats "mired at under 5 percent of the vote." In the event that she and Strickland both advance to the November general, she turns the tables and tops him 43-36. Of course, this scenario depends on Democrats failing to rally behind a single candidate, and I have a hard time believing that Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, who has a track record as a strong fundraiser, won't seriously up her name rec by primary day (which is not until June).
I also have a hard time believing that the Dem vote doesn't even total 15%—too many people automatically vote the party line for a figure that low to be plausible, and Parks' crossover appeal simply can't be so enormous as to drive Democrats down that far. Still, we do need to be concerned about this scenario, and as I said last time this issue came up, it's another reason why top-two is a terrible, terrible idea.
• CA-44: Democrat Janice Hahn, running in a member-vs.-member primary against Rep. Laura Richardson, just picked up two endorsements: one from fellow Rep. Jackie Speier, and another from Assemblyman Isadore Hall, who at one point had also sought this seat but unexpectedly dropped out in December. While we're on the topic, here's an interesting thought: In this heavily Democratic district (the fourth-bluest in California, at 81% Obama), two Democrats are very likely to advance to the November general via June's top-two primary. So that means Hahn and Richardson could face off twice this year.
• FL-09: According to Roll Call, Republicans are trying to recruit Osceola County Commissioner John “Q” Quiñones to run in Florida's new 9th Congressional District. This is the seat where Dem ex-Rep. Alan Grayson is making his comeback, and at 60% Obama, it would be a serious challenge for any Republican. But this district has a 41% Hispanic voting-age population, and, like Quiñones, many are Puerto Rican. So while it would still be a tough gambit, Quiñones tells Roll Call that he is "seriously considering" the race (in their words).
• IL-10: Ryan Grim and Amanda Terkel have a lengthy and interesting post-mortem on the 10th District Democratic primary, where many progressive organizations are trying to figure out why their favored candidate, former MoveOn official Ilya Sheyman, lost to businessman Brad Schneider. I do think they get one observation wrong: They say that an "establishment candidate" like Schneider is favored to win a low-turnout primary. That has it backwards: A low-turnout affair should benefit the more liberal candidate, particularly the one touting a strong grassroots organization, because the fewer voters that show up, the more left-leaning they tend to be.
That aside, it's a good piece worth reading in full. Most notable is the apparent expectation by the Sheyman camp that turnout in the primary would approach 60,000, when it wound up being half that. Apparently, expectations were based on the 2010 primary, but those numbers were inflated by the fact that there were contested senate and gubernatorial races at the top of the ballot—and even then, only 53K votes were cast. This time around, the congressional primary was the most prominent race, so projections should have been lower, not higher, than last cycle's numbers.
There's one other detail that I want to call attention to, though. Grim and Terkel write of PPP's polling misfire: "People close to the campaign, however, say that private polls done by other firms were showing similar results." If that's true, then all these other pollsters (and the organizations which commissioned these surveys) really ought to stand up, because it's wrong to let PPP take all the incoming just because they were the only ones with the guts to allow their numbers to be made public—and to offer an accounting for what went wrong afterward.
• MD-06: Ugh. Rep. Donna Edwards, generally thought of as a progressive hero, is endorsing financier John Delaney—the guy who, of course, made a maximum donation last cycle to tea party Republican Andy Harris in MD-01 and has steadfastly refused to even address the issue. I wonder if Edwards, who was very unhappy about how redistricting turned out, is miffed at state Sen. Rob Garagiola, who was heavily involved in the map-drawing process.
On a related note, I was apparently wrong yesterday when I speculated that the eye-popping $739K haul that Delaney was claiming they'd show in the first quarter relied on money from his own pockets. According to the Delany camp, it's all from outside donors. If so, that would be some truly remarkable stuff. Delaney came into the race already very well-connected, but I wonder if the Bill Clinton endorsement opened up even more doors here.
• NC-07: Republican state Sen. David Rouzer, hoping to take on Dem Rep. Mike McIntyre, is up with his first ad of the primary. It's mostly a biographical spot, but it starts with 10 seconds of vague attacks on Obama and then rather "abruptly" transitions, as Josh Miller puts it. (You can watch at the link.) The buy is reportedly for $25K, and interestingly, it will air in Wilmington—notable because Rouzer represents the other end of the district, in the Raleigh area, in the Senate.
• NC-08: Democrat Larry Kissell, made particularly vulnerable by redistricting, is out with an internal poll from Anzalone Liszt showing him in surprisingly good shape. Kissell leads former congressional aide Richard Hudson (whom they call the "perceived frontrunner) by 46-36, and though his memo doesn't provide specific numbers, he says he's also on top of state Rep. Fred Steen and neurosurgeon John Whitley "by double digits."
• NY-01: The Independence Party has endorsed Republican Randy Altschuler, who is seeking a rematch after ultra-narrowly losing to Dem Rep. Tim Bishop in 2010. This is a switch, and an important one, because the Indies gave their ballot line to Bishop last cycle, and they more than provided his winning margin: Bishop won 7,370 votes (PDF) on the IP line, but he only defeated Altschuler by a mere 593 votes overall.
• NY-08: A very big get for Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, in his race to unseat Rep. Ed Towns in the Democratic primary: New York's Working Families Party just endorsed him, and they specialize in serious boots-on-the-ground mobilization. That'll be key in what's sure to be a low-turnout primary: The only other race on the Dem ballot will be Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's unopposed renomination bid. (As the Daily News's Celeste Katz notes, the WFP rarely opposes incumbent congressional Democrats, and they haven't tried to knock off Towns since attorney Barry Ford's unsuccessful rematch in 2000—back when the party was much younger and less experienced.)
There's also one other angle here worth considering: While the primary is undoubtedly his best shot, if Jeffries can't prevail (perhaps because NYC councilman Charles Barron splits the anti-Towns votes), having the WFP line would give him a second shot at Towns in the general election. That race would definitely be harder (especially since a lot of less-engaged Obama voters will turn out then and would be more likely to also pull the lever for Towns by default), but it adds to the pressure on Towns. It also serves as an emergency backup plan in case Barron somehow wins the Dem nomination—I'd expect the establishment to desperately try to push Jeffries over the top in the general in that scenario.
Either way, Jeffries should make sure a Republican qualifies for the ballot here. Obviously no GOP candidate would have anything even resembling a shadow of a shred of a hope, but in case this contest lasts until the general, Jeffries will want those Republican voters to have the option to cast a ballot for one of their own, rather than Towns. (I figure Republicans are far more likely to vote for a crusty old guy like Towns whose name some of them are accustomed to seeing on the ballot, rather than a progressive reformer—and newcomer—like Jeffries.)
• NY-13: Former DNC political director Clyde Williams, who had been readying a run since last October, formally announced a challenge to Rep. Charlie Rangel in the Democratic primary on Thursday. It could be a very crowded clown car, though, as a whole bunch of other potential candidates are looming, including state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, former Rangel aide Vince Morgan, 2008 Obama New York field director Joyce Johnson, Assemblyman (and Manhattan Dem chair) Keith Wright, former Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV, and possibly Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez (though that last name was just randomly tossed out by Rangel himself in an interview last year). Wright and Powell, however, are unlikely to run with Rangel seeking re-election.
• NY-22: In other Independence Party news (see NY-01 item above), the organization also gave their backing to GOP freshman Richard Hanna. He's had their support for the last two cycles, though, both in 2008 (when he lost) and 2010 (when he won).
• NY-27: Uh, what the heck was Kathy Hochul thinking? The first-term Democrat was elected in a famous special election last year running on a platform of sharp opposition to the GOP's plans to dismantle Medicare in accordance with the so-called Ryan budget. But on Thursday, she was one of just seven Democrats to side with the GOP on this bullshit piece of legislation that would imperil Medicare by repealing a cost-cutting advisory board implemented along with the Affordable Care Act in 2010. (The bill also includes anti-consumer "tort reform" provisions.) Fortunately, the bill will die in the Senate, but I don't see how siding with Republicans on a healthcare can possibly help Hochul.
The only other Democratic aisle-crossers were Dan Boren, Dennis Cardoza, Larry Kissell, Jim Matheson, Collin Peterson, and David Scott—all Blue Dogs except Kissell (though he certainly fits in with that crowd). Hochul does have to face re-election in an even tougher district than she won in 2011, but I don't think this is the way to go about doing it.
• PA-12: Dem Rep. Mark Critz may or may not win his primary next month, but I wouldn't want to play him in hearts, because I suspect he'd find a way to shoot the moon. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think a single labor union has gone to Jason Altmire—and now Critz has scored yet another big one, AFSCME. It's like he's got everything from the two of hearts through the ace in his pocket, but he still needs the elusive queen of spades (whatever form she may take) if he's to pull off a come-from-behind victory.
Maybe this is her, though: PoliticsPA reports that Critz is spending "his entire bankroll"—some $500 to $600K—on television ads to air between now and the April 24 primary. Altmire is apparently spending only half that.
With what Cartwright has raised, plus a possible self-contribution, "we'd be at $600,000" for the quarter, said Cartwright campaign manager Shane Seaver.With a possible self-contribution, they could also "be at" $10 million, too! Hell, with a hypothetical donation, my campaign for Congress—that I'm not actually even running—is already flush. What kind of bullshit is the Cartwright camp trying to pull? First they tried to make it sound as though they raised $600K all on their own, now they're saying all they've got is merely potential fundraising? This is a load of crap.
Well, I guess if Cartwright comes through for himself, he'll have the resources to compete, but here's another sign that this campaign isn't ready for primetime. When Bland first wrote up the story, the source for the original $600K figure wasn't named. Now Bland identifies him as Shane Seaver, Cartwright's campaign manager. It's really not good when your own CM is pulling shenanigans like this.
• WI-02: State Rep. Mark Pocan, running to succeed Tammy Baldwin in the heavily-Dem 2nd District, just picked up endorsements from several out-of-state congressmen: Jared Polis, David Cicilline, and Barney Frank. All three are gay, as is Pocan; the only gay member of Congress who isn't taking sides is Baldwin herself, who probably just doesn't want to be seen as putting her thumb on the scale in the race for her own seat.
• DCCC: In the wake of Tuesday's Illinois primaries, the DCCC has added five candidates to its "Red to Blue" list, though these moves are really more a matter of bookkeeping. IL-08, -10, -11, -12, and -17 were already on their Red to Blue races list, but now that we have actual nominees in each of those districts, the candidates themselves are getting recognized: Tammy Duckworth, Brad Schneider, Bill Foster, Brad Harriman, and Cheri Bustos. As for the as-yet-undecided IL-13 race, DCCC chief Steve Israel says:
"Until we have the primary election certified, I am going to hold off. We want to see who the candidate is, we want to get an assessment of their fundraising abilities, we want to get an assessment of their resonance in their district and then based on that matrix, we'll make a decision."Redistricting Roundup:
• FL Redistricting: So much for the cat fud: All Republicans on the Senate's redistricting committee voted in favor of the GOP leadership's proposed new Senate map (as did four Democrats, sigh). However, there was this one bit of seriously enjoyable lunacy that preceded the vote:
"I object to casting lots," said Sen. Ronda Storms. The Valrico Republican argued the drawing violated state gambling laws. [...]• KS Redistricting: Even though a very knowledgeable regular reader has been providing me with regular updates on the redistricting mess in Kansas, I have to confess, it's been a very difficult story to follow. Case in point: The state House just voted to reject a new congressional map on Wednesday that it had voted in favor of on Tuesday! So now we're back to square one... though it seems that whatever map the House does pass will differ from what the Senate has already signed off on. That means we could still be a long way from having new federal lines here—and it means the race between Kansas and New Hampshire to see which will be the last state in the nation to draft a congressional plan is still very much alive.
Senate Secretary Debbie Brown got as far as announcing the third district before Storms raised a point of order. She asked for an attorney general's opinion on whether the scheme violated Florida's gambling laws.
"Whoever plays or engages in any game at cards, keno, roulette, faro or other game of chance, at any place, by any device whatever, for money or other thing of value, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree," Storms read from the statute.
The maximum penalty for a second-degree misdemeanor is 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Storms said the stakes were two more years of legislative pay checks and that she believed Brown and two staffers who turned the cranks would be the guilty parties, not the lawmakers.
• WI Redistricting: I'm pretty surprised and disappointed to see this, but a federal court has turned back almost all of the challenges to Wisconsin's new legislative maps. One Voting Rights Act claim regarding some Assembly districts near Milwaukee was sustained, and that will require the legislature to draw new lines in that area. (And with the Senate now tied between Democrats and Republicans, the GOP won't have a free hand.)
One claim in particular that I thought had an excellent chance of prevailing was the idea that the state Senate map impermissibly disenfranchised some 300,000 voters by making them go six years between Senate elections, rather than the normal four, due to the fact that Wisconsin staggers terms for its senators. However, the court ruled (PDF) that because plaintiffs failed to show that a "particular group" was "uniquely burdened," the legislature was entitled to force these voters to wait an extra two years to vote. Personally, I think this bit of jurisprudence is ridiculous, and there's no reason not to require legislatures to minimize the number of people so affected. Losing the ability to vote is a serious harm, whether it affects you individually or as part of a group.
In any event, both sides say they are considering an appeal, which would go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.