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Leading Off:

AZ-Sen: Big news out of Arizona, where former state party chair Don Bivens is dropping out of the Democratic primary, clearing the path to the nomination for former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona. Carmona was the clear establishment favorite even before he got into the race, and he outraised Bivens by a wide margin in the fourth quarter of last year (especially considering he'd only been running for six weeks). Though Bivens cited the "cost and impact" on the party for whomever eventually winds up as the nominee, it doesn't look like he endorsed Carmona in the brief statement he put out, though hopefully such an endorsement will be forthcoming shortly. In any event, now Carmona can focus entirely on the man who almost certainly will be his Republican opponent, GOP Rep. Jeff Flake. Daily Kos Elections currently rates this race Lean Republican.

Senate:

CT-Sen: When I caught wind of the fact that Linda McMahon had put out a new internal poll, I figured she'd be pushing back against last week's Quinnipiac survey, which showed her to be severely less electable than fellow Republican Chris Shays. But no: All she did was release some numbers for the primary (from McLaughlin & Associates) that have her leading Shays 53-32. (Quinnipiac had it 51-42.) Not a good idea, in my view, since the fact that she couldn't produce better general election results in her own polling is pretty damning.

MI-Sen (PDF): Republican pollster Marketing Resource Group has a new survey out that shows Dem Sen. Debbie Stabenow up 45-40 over GOP ex-Rep. Pete Hoekstra (including leaners). In a September poll, Stabenow lead 50-35, which seems like an awfully big gyration. It's not clear whether MRG took this on behalf of any particular client or just decided to do a poll on its own.

PA-Sen: Rich guy Steve Welch is out with his first ad of the GOP primary, a weakly-produced spot that tries to tout his conservative bonafides and directly (willingly!) compares him to Rick Santorum. Welch has the backing of the Republican establishment, which sees him as the most electable opponent against Dem Sen. Bob Casey in the fall, but as is so often the case, the same background which probably makes him the least-objectionable GOPer for general election purposes is also a tough pill for the Republican primary electorate to swallow. Among other things, Welch voted for Obama in the Democratic primary in 2008 and also was a Joe Sestak supporter, which is why he's trying to cover his right flank with Santorum.

While we're on the subject, there's barely a month to go until Pennsylvania's primary and the Republican Senate field is still completely unknown, even by Republican primary voters! Rich guy Tom Smith, who has actually been on the air a bit, leads the pack in a new F&M poll (PDF), but with just 9%. Former state Rep. Sam Rohrer is at 7, while three other candidates—David Christian, Marc Scaringi & Welch—are at just 1 each. Christian and Scaringi are basically Some Dudes, but these are comically atrocious numbers for Welch.

TX-Sen: Former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz has by-and-large run a clean sweep of the wingnut endorsement circuit, and here's one more feather in his tricorne: Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, the one-man wrecking crew who never met a legislative hold he didn't like, has also given Cruz his support. Unlike South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, though, I don't think Coburn tends to back his endorsements with any money, so this is probably mostly for show.

WI-Sen: Rasmussen: Tammy Baldwin (D): 44 (36), Tommy Thompson (R): 48 (50); Tammy Baldwin (D): 48 (37), Mark Neumann (R): 40 (46); Tammy Baldwin (D): 48 (40), Jeff Fitzgerald (R): 40 (41). This is some clown-ass bullshit. Baldwin moved 15 points upward against Neumann in just one month? Rasmussen is such a joke.

House:

MD-06: Roll Call's Abby Livingston takes a look at the 6th District Democratic primary, where it seems like a bunch of local operatives are pretty concerned about state Sen. Rob Garagiola's ability to prevail on election day, which is less than a week away. In particular, two different unnamed strategists both criticize Garagiola for deciding not to advertise on TV in the face of financier John Delaney flooding the race with a ton of his own money. Garagiola's campaign claims that their plan was to only do mail and phones all along. There hasn't been any polling here in a while, though we'll know in a week whether Garagiola's strategy will pay off. No one seems particularly optimistic, though.

NE-02: This is good news for Barack Obama—and bad news for Republican Rep. Lee Terry. According to PPP's new Nebraska poll, Mitt Romney leads the president by just a single point (46-45) in the Omaha-centric 2nd Congressional District, where Obama snagged a lone electoral vote in 2008. Obama was reportedly set to open an office here earlier this month, and these poll numbers suggest he'll once again want to compete for that single EV. That should help whichever Democrat is nominated to take on Terry, Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing or state Sen. Gwen Howard. (The NE-02 portion of this poll had a sample size of 267.)

NY-13: Former Obama campaign staffer Joyce Johnson, long thought to be interested in a second bite at the apple, just announced that she will in fact challenge Rep. Charlie Rangel in the Democratic primary. Johnson ran in 2010 and finished third with 12% of the vote.

PA-12: Of all the politicians I would not expect to make a flub in the manner of Dennis Kucinich, it's Jason Altmire... but here we are. Kucinich, like Altmire, was thrown into a member-vs.-member primary in a mashed-up district with two distinct geographic polls—and he had the extremely poor sense to diss the far end of Ohio's new 9th CD, airing a radio ad which intoned: "Maybe in Toledo politics, facts don't matter."

Now Altmire's opponent, Mark Critz, is pushing footage of Altmire saying "We are not going to allow this group from Johnstown to come in here to Beaver County and play that kind of gutter politics, and get away with it." Beaver, of course, is Altmire's home base, while Johnstown is Critz's main turf. Altmire's trying to suggest that Critz made an equivalent statement when he tried to encourage party switching and said, "If you have Republican friends that want to vote in the Democratic primary and help this seat stay here in Cambria/Somerset I need your help." (Cambria County is where Johnstown is based.) While Critz might get some heat for asking Republicans to participate in the Dem primary, he at least didn't insult Beaver County in doing so.

On a related note, Philadelphia-area Rep. Bob Brady became the first member of Pennsylvania's delegation to take sides in this race, donating $2,000 to Critz. I'm curious as to what's going on here, since Brady and Altmire both shamefully whipped votes in favor of the Republicans' congressional gerrymander, so you'd think perhaps Brady might want to repay Altmire for that dirty deed. But obviously the politics of the situation is quite a bit more complicated than all that.

Finally, we have new dueling ads in the Altmire-Critz race, with each man offering some relatively mild criticisms of the other as the two head toward the Democratic primary on April 24. It's actually pretty entertaining seeing two of the least reliable Dems in the entire caucus try to ding each other from the left, so have a look for yourself. First up is Critz's:

And Altmire's:
WA-01: Suzan DelBene got two major labor endorsements on Wednesday. One is from the state Teamsters, but the other is an even bigger get, given the district's makeup: the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, who represent Boeing's rank-and-file workers. This district is invariably going to be thought of as the "Microsoft district," but, given that it covers all the turf east of I-5 all the way through Snohomish County, I'd bet there are more Boeing than Microsoft employees in the 1st. (Boeing's main assembly plant in Everett isn't in the 1st, but many of its blue-collar workers live in places in the 1st like Lake Stevens). One other note: the King County Democrats had earlier seemed to poised to endorse either DelBene or Darcy Burner this week, but they failed to reach a large enough critical mass to endorse anyone at all. (David Jarman)

Grab Bag:

Demographics: Gallup is out with one of its occasional polls on religiosity; the answers on which states are most or least religious shouldn't surprise you. The most religious ones are in the old confederate states (plus Utah, naturally); the least religious are in New England or the more libertarian-flavored parts of the West. Also not too surprising: 9 of the 10 most-religious states went for McCain in 2008, while 11 of the 12 least-religious went for Obama. (North Carolina and Alaska are the exceptions.) (David Jarman)

Maps: Two interesting interactive maps to peruse today. One is from the Brookings Institute, and compares how the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas have fared over the course of the recession and recovery. And the other is from ProPublica, an interesting visual depiction of where Super PAC money goes. There's plenty of ink spilled on who's putting money into campaigns and PACs, but very little info on the media firms and other operatives who actually wind up receiving all that money, until now. (David Jarman)

MD-Init: A new survey from local pollster OpinionWorks shows the toughest numbers so far for Maryland's new marriage equality law, which may go before a voters on November's ballot. They see 43% of respondents voting to overturn the legislation, while only 40% would preserve it. Fortunately, other recent polling, both from the Washington Post and PPP, is a lot more optimistic. (Those earlier surveys are detailed at the link.)

North Carolina: PPP has a whole mess of polling on the Republican primaries in the Tarheel State, from president to governor all the way down to auditor and treasurer. They also have a companion set of numbers for the Democratic primaries as well.

Redistricting Roundup:

MD Redistricting: It feels a little late for this, but a group of Maryland Republicans are trying to gather signatures to put the state's new congressional map on the ballot for a referendum. Indeed, even if such an effort were successful, it would only apply to future elections: This year's are set to use the map the legislature passed last fall no matter what. Organizers would need to collect 56,000 signatures by June 30 to qualify for November's election, but even they make it, I'd be very surprised if the measure succeeded.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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