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Leading Off:

NY-22: Wow. I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like this before:

As the only Republican Congressman at a rally for the Equal Rights Amendment on Thursday, Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) gave women an unexpected piece of advice: Give your money to Democrats.

"I think these are very precarious times for women, it seems. So many of your rights are under assault," he told the crowd of mostly women. "I'll tell you this: Contribute your money to people who speak out on your behalf, because the other side—my side—has a lot of it. And you need to send your own message. You need to remind people that you vote, you matter, and that they can't succeed without your help."

The question is, is this a winning move by Hanna, a freshman who has compiled a very "moderate" record so far, and faces what looks like a serious challenge from former Maurice Hinchey staffer Dan Lamb? Or has he gone too far? Either Hanna's inoculated himself with this remarkable kind of rhetoric, or he's put himself in a position where he'll have to defend his continued membership in the GOP at every turn. My view: If he's not willing to switch parties (because clearly he should), then he ought to be hammered for aiding and abetting the Republican war on women. The fact that he's cognizant of it makes it worse, not better, that he belongs to the party that's the aggressor in this conflict.


IN-Sen: I've long maintained that Indiana's GOP primary would hinge on whether an outside group like the Club for Growth decided to throw down serious cash on behalf of Treasurer Richard Mourdock—and now that day has finally come. The CfG is reportedly going on the air, and according to the crawl at Howey Politics, it's for an extraordinary $1.8 million. If that number is accurate, then Sen. Dick Lugar is in a lot of trouble, given how close recent polling has shown the race. You've gotta wonder: If Lugar doesn't have the resources to compete on his own, will the NRSC or other outside groups step in to help?

NE-Sen: Americas for Prosperity, the conservative front group backed by the Koch brothers, is out with an ad attacking ex-Sen. Bob Kerrey on the usual themes (he's a libruhl!), and they're spending $274K to do so. (You can watch the ad, which is pretty rote, at the link.) If Kerrey's to have a shot here, I think some outside Democratic money is going to have to come in here, and soon, before right is able to unalterably define him.

NV-Sen: The House Ethics Committee has announced it is investigating Dem Rep. Shelley Berkley over her successful efforts to help keep a Nevada kidney transplant center open, one which her husband, a nephrologist, is also involved with. You'll recall the overheated New York Times piece from last year which tried to paint Berkley's actions as unusually nefarious ("striking even among her peers on Capitol Hill") but also managed to elide the fact that her opponent in the Senate race, GOP Sen. Dean Heller, co-signed a letter with her aimed at saving the center.

What's more, as subsequent local coverage showed, Berkley was widely praised for her efforts, since this was the only facility that performed such transplants in the entire state. (This Las Vegas Sun article is a good example. Even Jon Ralston had to admit that the importance of saving the center was "not in doubt.") So I have a feeling this issue might not play out the way Republicans wish it would.


MA-Gov: Even though Massachusetts doesn't have term limits, Gov. Deval Patrick has stated he won't seek a third term in 2014, which means Democrats will need someone to replace him. The newest name being touted by the Great Mentioner (or maybe it's really the Great Rumormonger) is U.S. Attorney Carmen Oritz, who became the state's first female and first Hispanic USA when she was appointed by Barack Obama in 2009. However, the list of possibles already long and includes Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, state Treasurer Steve Grossman, state Auditor Suzanne Bump, Attorney General Martha Coakley, and Rep. Mike Capuano, just for starters.

While we're on the topic, David Bernstein of the Boston Phoenix ranks who he considers to be the top dozen 2014 gubernatorial candidates, in order of likelihood of actually winning, along with short blurbs about each. (He has Ortiz sixth, but adds: "Keep an eye on her.")

WI-Gov: The Republican Governors Association is out with their first ad of looming recall election, attacking both Kathleen Falk (who is in the race) and Tom Barrett (who, so far, is not) for being tax-hiking, spending-hiking, unemployment-hiking nogoodniks. (You can watch it at the link.) There's no word on the size of the buy, but the RGA spent $5 million here in 2010 to win the seat for Scott Walker, so there's every reason to believe they'll go in big to defend him this year. I think this might also be aimed at trying to keep Barrett out of the race, with the usual "give `em a taste of what they can expect" zetz.


FL-13: So now there's a second House Ethics Committee investigation into Rep. Vern Buchanan, though the subject matter is unknown and won't be revealed until May 9, when the panel has to decide whether to proceed with the matter further. Buchanan is already being looked at for his alleged failure to report all of his business holdings in his financial disclosure forms—and that's on top of the FBI/IRS inquiry regarding his campaign finance practices. Not bad for the guy who also does double-duty as the NRCC's finance chair!

IN-05: The Club for Growth is definitely getting busy in Indiana (see IN-Sen item above): They're also endorsing ex-Rep. David McIntosh, who is trying to make his way back to Congress but first has to get through a very crowded Republican primary in this seat left open by retiring Rep. Dan Burton.

MD-06: Pre-primary fundraising reports, covering the period from Jan. 1 through March 14, were due on Thursday night at the FEC. Maryland only has competitive primaries in one House district, the 6th, both on the Democratic and Republican sides. For the Dems, financier John Delaney not only raised an eye-popping sum from individuals—$715K—he also loaned his campaign an extraordinary $1.25 million (that's on top of a $118K donation he made last year). That allowed him to spend an insane $1.6 mil during this period, including a ton of TV advertising.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Rob Garagiola took in only $233K and spent $384K, amounts which would ordinarily be fairly substantial but just pale in comparison to Delaney's figures. (Third wheel Milad Pooran raised just $42K; he said he'd loan his campaign $200K from his own bank account, but if he did so, that transaction took place after the end of the reporting period.) Garagiola still has strengths of his own, namely his political connections (particularly labor support) and the fact that unlike the other two candidates in the contest, he's ran for and won elective office before.

But will Delaney nevertheless be able to buy the race? Garagiola only has $168K on hand; Delaney has $411K, but given his willingness to fund his own campaign, the number might as well be ten times that. There hasn't been any polling here in a while, so I'd definitely be curious to see some. But it's hard not to feel like Delaney's given himself an advantage thanks to his free-spending ways.

As for Republicans, well, it looks like that big pile of challengers attempting to dethrone Rep. Roscoe Bartlett isn't having a very good go of things. Bartlett raised $218K, spent $241K, and has $639K still in the bank. His closest rival, state Sen. David Brinkley, pulled in just one tenth of what Bartlett did—pretty pathetic. And Del. Kathy Afzali did even worse, taking in less than $10K. Given how fractured the field is (I count six mooks who filed reports, not including the incumbent), it seems very likely that Bartlett will survive at least until the general election. What happens then, though, is probably a different story.

P.S. At the link, you'll actually find reports for every congressional race in Maryland, not just MD-06.

MN-06: Wealthy hotelier Jim Graves says he's looking at a run against Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann in the 6th Congressional District. A spokesman indicates Graves would be able to self-fund, and Graves himself says he'll decide "shortly after Easter," which is April 8.

NY-02: Damn, this is too bad. Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice, who was reportedly a recent target of DCCC recruitment, will not challenge GOP Rep. Peter King. This seat would have been a tough nut to crack given King's strengths as a candidate, but Rice would have been a top-tier get, and the seat's been made bluer in redistricting. I guess we'll have to wait for some other cycle: Celeste Katz reports that "Nassau County Dems are going with Vivianne Falcone," about whom I can find almost nothing on Google.

NY-24: Attorney Brianne Murphy says she's "suspending" her campaign for Congress, which assures ex-Rep. Dan Maffei of winning the Democratic nomination. Murphy had raised very little (just $34K vs. Maffei's $461K) and wasn't likely to have a major impact on the race, especially since the Onondaga County Democratic Party just endorsed Maffei. (Onondaga makes up 65% of the redrawn 24th.) Still, this allows Maffei to set his sights on freshman GOPer Ann Marie Buerkle, who beat him by just 648 votes last cycle.

OH-16: The NRCC's latest mini-ad buy ($16K, in this case) is targeting Dem Rep. Betty Sutton—and I consider that a good thing. It means Republicans have to be at least somewhat concerned that Sutton has a shot at defeating Rep. Jim Renacci in this rare member-vs.-member general election. As for the spot itself, it's a really chutzpahdik piece of work which accuses Sutton of supporting a plan "that the media says would 'decimate Medicare.'" (Of course, they cite the right-wing rag Investor's Business Daily for that quote.) The problem with these kids of ads is that as long as they avoid outright falsehoods, they're pretty hard to get knocked off the air, so look forward to another long campaign season of Democrats being falsely attacked for wanting to "cut Medicare."

WA-01: Democrat Darcy Burner just received the endorsement of a pair of local Ironworkers unions, as well as from the international Ironworkers, who she says have 2,200 members in the Seattle area and are the first international union to endorse anyone in the race.

Other Races:

PA-AG: Democratic ex-Rep. Patrick Murphy is on the air in the Pennsylvania attorney general's race with a pretty good biographical spot backed by a reported $50K buy. (You can watch the ad at the link.) Murphy faces former Lackawanna County prosecutor Kathleen Kane in the April 24 primary.

WI-St. Sen: Man, this is not good news. Even though (or perhaps because) he just survived a recall election last summer, Dem state Sen. Jim Holperin says he won't seek re-election this year. While thing have shifted somewhat on account of redistricting, before the lines were redrawn, Holperin's seat was the reddest district held by a Democrat. So this will be an exceptionally difficult hold—on top of all the other already-challenging seats we'll need to defend. So even if we're successful in the upcoming round of recalls, we won't have an easy time hanging on to the majority.

Grab Bag:

NY CDs by County: As you read about various county party endorsements in the Empire State in the coming days, you'll want to keep this link handy. It shows you what percentage of each new congressional district's population comes from which counties. So when I tell you that in NY-18, Dutchess County Democrats endorsed Matt Alexander, you can see that Dutchess is the second-largest county in the district, making up 25% of the population. Dutchess is actually split between two CDs, and the local Dems also endorsed Julian Schreibman in NY-19. There, though, Dutchess is only responsible for 17% of the seat's population, but it's also still the second-biggest county in the district.

Redistricting Roundup:

FL Redistricting: Despite earlier reports of dissension in the GOP ranks, the full Florida Senate easily passed a new map redrawing lines for the chamber, after having been ordered to do so by the state supreme court. The new plan (once the House and governor sign off, which is just a formality) will now go back to that same court for another round of scrutiny. But if this version fails to pass muster, then the judges will draw their own lines.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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