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Leading Off:

• IL-13: This would be huge news if true, and it certainly sounds like it is: Illinois tip sheet Capitol Fax is reporting that GOP Rep. Tim Johnson will drop out of the 13th Congressional District race and will supposedly make an announcement on Thursday. (An unnamed Chicago Tribune source confirms.) This is a pretty shocking development, given that Johnson has given no indication that he was less than enthusiastic about seeking re-election, especially since he voluntarily chose to take one for the team and run in a blue-leaning district. Perhaps that's why he wants to quit, though, even though he's only 65: Maybe he just didn't want to play the good solider in an election year with the Prairie State's favorite son, Barack Obama, on the top of the ballot.

In any event, state law allows for candidates to be replaced by local committees if they bail after the primary, so Republicans won't be left in the lurch if this comes to pass. In fact, Johnson is allegedly pretty unconcerned, according to Capitol Fax, which claims that "Johnson apparently believes that this is now a safe seat since perennial candidate David Gill won the Democratic primary race, so it’s OK to leave without partisan worry." But if that's the case, though—that he truly thinks this race has gone all the way to Safe Republican with Gill as the Dem nominee—then why didn't Republicans spend any money trying to ratfuck the Dem primary? (Also, it's not 100 percent certain yet that Gill has won, though it looks likely.) That sounds extremely overconfident at best, so I'm not really buying this explanation.

Indeed, according to The Fix, Republicans are supposedly trying to convince Johnson not to go through with his plans to pull the ripcord, which means they know he's their best bet. I guess we'll either find out for sure soon enough—or else be greeted by some very hot denials from the Johnson camp. And if Johnson does call it quits, regardless of what he might allegedly think, this is definitely good news for Democrats, since there's no potential alternate GOP candidate who would be stronger than he is. If Republicans think they can sleepwalk in a 55% Obama district, they can be my guest.

1Q Fundraising:

AZ-09: Andrei Cherny (D): $430K raised (in seven weeks), $390K cash-on-hand

MI-03: Steve Pestka (D): $130K raised (in four weeks, plus $90K self-funding), $200K cash-on-hand

MI-Sen: Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D): $1.5 mil raised, $7 mil cash-on-hand

NY-07: Erik Dilan (D): $115K raised

NY-11: Mark Murphy (D): $150K raised

OH-07: Joyce Healy-Abrams (D): $240K raised

WA-01: Suzan DelBene (D): $341K raised, $318K cash-on-hand

A number of strong Democratic hauls here, especially from Joyce Healy-Abrams, who looks like she might be able to make an under-the-radar contest competitive. Also a good early take for Steve Pestka, who also can put his race on the map (a race which otherwise wouldn't be).

Senate:

CA-Sen: This SurveyUSA poll of the California Senate race is rather hilarious—I encourage you to click through. Let's just put it this way: Somehow, they managed to get respondents to sit through a question featuring 24 different names—I guess they're really taking the "top-two" seriously! Even funnier is that Dem Sen. Dianne Feinstein gets 51% of the vote, while her nearest opponents (Republicans Dan Hughes and Elizabeth Emken) are all the way back at... 2%! And everyone else gets either 1 or 0 (including Orly Taitz).

Too bad the filing deadline has closed: I'd have advised Dems to nominate someone with just enough name rec to win a spot on the November ballot who would promise not to campaign against Feinstein. Not that it's looking like she'll have much of a problem anyway, though.

FL-Sen: GOP Rep. Connie Mack is trying to have it every which way on the Ryan plan: He missed the vote on it, then called the plan a "joke," then said he would have voted for it anyway, then had a campaign flack try to claim that he meant that the process surrounding the vote was a "joke." No dice on that last walk-back, though: Mack explicitly said, "You know that budget was a joke, doesn't balance the budget for years." Of course, Paul Ryan still wants to end Medicare as we know it, so if Mack plans to remain on board that train, Dem Sen. Bill Nelson will enjoy helping him drive it off the rails.

NM-Sen: Rasmussen: Martin Heinrich (D): 46 (45), Heather Wilson (R): 43 (42); Hector Balderas (D): 42 (44); Heather Wilson (R): 43 (44)

Gubernatorial:

MO-Gov: Is it possible that plastics magnate Dave Spence is just as disastrous a candidate as the guy he was supposed to save the Missouri GOP from, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder? (God, don't you miss him?) Earlier this week, Spence got busted for lying about a vote he took as a bank director to stop repaying bailout money to the federal government: He had long claimed he was against the idea, then finally admitted he supported stiffing Uncle Sam. Now, as the Kansas City Star explains, Spence and his companies "have been late paying property, personal property, manufacturers' and other taxes totaling tens of thousands of dollars dating to 1995, and as recently as 2010."

Spence's pushback is ultra-feeble, with a spokesman saying: "Most Missourians understand you get busy. Dave's been building a business, creating jobs, and occasionally things aren't taken care of as promptly as we would like." So, in other words, he's a sloppy slacker when it comes to paying what he owes? The Star has full details on all of Spence's various tax issues at the link, including a lot more excuse-making by Spence's campaign. Between all of this (plus the "home ec" flub), and the fact that movement conservatives seem to prefer Bill Randles, I'm really starting to wonder if Spence will, in fact, wind up as the Republican nominee for governor.

House:

FL-06: There's another Republican joining the fairly busy GOP field in the open 6th District: St. Johns County School Board Chairman Bev Slough.

FL-26: Could we actually wind up getting our savior candidate in FL-26? Now that state Rep. Luis Garcia's campaign has landed on the ash heap of history (thankfully), 2010 Democratic nominee Joe Garcia (no relation, also thankfully) says he feels "forced" to consider a bid, since there aren't a lot of good options left. Garcia ran a strong campaign last cycle, but thanks to the year's red tide, he lost by ten to Republican David Rivera. He also ran in 2008, when he faced a much stronger candidate, Mario Diaz-Balart, losing by six. He raised a ton of money both times, though, and in a neutral-to-decent year for Dems, against a fuckup like Rivera rather than an entrenched incumbent like Diaz-Balart, Garcia would be an excellent get.

The same article also mentions that Democrats are apparently recruiting businesswoman Gloria Romero Roses, but she isn't commenting publicly. Meanwhile, former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, confirmed that he's "highly unlikely" to get into the race. Oh, one final note to the Miami Herald: Running for Congress twice (as Joe Garcia has done) does not make you a "perennial candidate."

GA-12: If the NRCC actually feels the need to throw $36K behind a TV ad dinging Dem Rep. John Barrow, then perhaps that means has a shot at surviving his re-election campaign, even though his CD was made considerably redder in redistricting. The spot (which you can watch at the link) is weakly produced, centered around a somewhat confusing golf theme—it's going to air during the Masters. But one thing it does right is use an audio clip of Barack Obama endorsing Barrow in 2010, when his biggest threat appeared to be in the Democratic primary. Needless to say, that won't play so well this time.

MN-02: It looks like Democrats have landed a strong recruit in Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District, a seat that became slightly bluer in redistricting: former state Rep. Mike Obermueller, who narrowly lost his re-election bid last cycle after first winning office in 2008. Obermueller joins Northfield City Council member Patrick Ganey in the race for the Dem nod, though Dakota County Commissioner Kathleen Gaylord may get in as well. (The Strib's writeup suggests that Ganey hasn't decided yet, but earlier press accounts said he's in.) Obermueller says he'll abide by the results of the district nominating convention later this month, rather than forcing a primary; it's not clear what Ganey's stance is on that issue. Whoever earns the nomination will take on GOP Rep. John Kline in November.

NH-02: New Hampshire's laws against "push polling" may be over the top—indeed, they don't even define "push polling" correctly. But one thing they do require is that all polls which fall under their domain identify who has paid for them, and on that score, GOP Rep. Charlie Bass has gotten himself into quite a bit of trouble. The Concord Monitor's Matthew Spolar explains that the state attorney general is suing Bass for a poll he conducted that included some negative message-testing against his 2010 opponent, Annie Kuster. Here's the key part:

The state's lawsuit, filed in Merrimack County Superior Court, seeks $400,000 in fines—up to $1,000 for each of the 400 calls allegedly made on behalf of Bass's campaign. [...]

The original draft of the call script, according to the lawsuit, included the disclosure, "The Tarrance Group wishes to thank you for participating in this survey - which was commissioned and paid for by the Bass Victory Committee... 603-226-6000. Good night."

But in an email dated Sept. 16, 2010, authorities say Bass's campaign manager asked: "Could we change the disclaimer at the end to NRCC (National Republican Congressional Committee) since they are paying for half of it? I'd rather have any issues about 'push polling' be blamed on them (sorry Brock), rather than us—especially with the date rape drug question in there."

As is so often the case, it's not the "crime" but the cover-up. As Spolar explains, "the date rape drug question likely referred to Kuster's work as a lobbyist for a company that made rohypnol, which was a focus of Republican attacks at the time." It was an ugly line of attack, and so you can imagine why the Bass campaign was eager to shift any blame for testing it out to the NRCC.

Like I say, I'm not in love with New Hampshire's over-broad anti-polling laws, and I'd be surprised if Bass was made to pay the full $400K. But that's a huge sum, especially for a candidate who's never been a strong fundraiser, and if he's gotta fork over a good chunk of his warchest because he tried to hide his negative message-testing from voters, then I'll feel zero sympathy for him.

NJ-09: This new ad from Dem Rep. Bill Pascrell is a bit over-done in parts, but I gotta admit, I kinda like it. Pascrell's attitude—he casts himself as a front-line warrior in the fight against the tea party—comes through as pretty authentic, which you don't often see in cookie-cutter campaign ads. Have a look at the link or below:

NY-01: Why do I like this Tim Bishop internal poll? Two reasons, one obvious and one lulzy. The survey, from the Global Strategy Group, has Bishop leading his GOP opponent, Randy Altschuler, by a healthy 53-36 margin. Considering that Bishop survived by just a few hundred votes when he faced Altschuler last cycle, that makes me feel good. But here's why I'm also pleased: because Altschuler's campaign is already invoking a key pillar of the loser-speak trifecta. Says a spokesman: "The poll is on Election Day, as far as I'm concerned. That's the one that counts." Keep thinking that way!

NY-04: According to a local Republican official, Nassau County legislator Fran Becker plans to seek a rematch against Dem Rep. Carolyn McCarthy this fall. Indeed, while it doesn't appear as though Becker has made a formal declaration as yet, his website, Twitter feed, and Facebook page all suggest he's actively campaigning. (Candidates are currently in the midst of the petitioning period, so if Becker wants to get on the ballot, then he can't merely be sitting idle.) While Becker lost by about seven points last year, the 4th CD was made several points redder in redistricting, so this contest could be competitive.

NY-06: Though Rory Lancman has snapped up most of labor's endorsements so far, one smaller union is going to NYC councilwoman Liz Crowley in the Democratic primary: the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 9. There's an interesting personal connection here, as Capital Tonight explains: before winning office, "Crowley worked as a restorative painter on the renovations of major New York City landmarks including Radio City Music Hall, Central Synagogue, and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral."

NY-13: Serious question: Has a candidate for office who's publicly said they're thinking about leaving the race ever wound up staying in? More importantly, has anyone who's done this ever gone on to win? I ask because you see this kind of public Hamlet act (Act V, scene ii, really) from time to time, and now the latest example comes from Vince Morgan, who is challenging Rep. Charlie Rangel in the Democratic primary. Morgan is in fact a former Rangel aide who ran last cycle as well, taking in a feeble 3% of the vote. Now, he seems to be realizing just how daunting another such campaign will be, though he appears to be unwilling to pull the plug just yet—but I'd be quite surprised if he stuck with it.

NY-25: Oof—tough news at any age, but especially when you're 82: Dem Rep. Louise Slaughter, who faces her first competitive race in some time, just broke her leg. Fortunately, her staff says she's in good condition. Get well soon, Congresswoman!

PA-04: An interesting power play appears to be developing in the open 4th Congressional District race, where the state's two most prominent Republicans, Gov. Tom Corbett and Sen. Pat Toomey, are each backing different candidates. Toomey's PAC is airing a TV ad (featuring Toomey himself, which you can watch at the link) on behalf of York County Commissioner Chris Reilly, reportedly worth 750 gross ratings points. Meanwhile, Corbett has endorsed state Rep. Scott Perry and apparently attended a fundraiser on his behalf earlier this week.

PA-17: It looks like Dem Rep. Tim Holden is taking his primary challenge from attorney Matt Cartwright seriously: He's out with a new compare-and-contrast ad which attacks Cartwright in the first half, then says a few positive things about Holden. Specifically, Holden goes after Cartwright for donating to the campaigns of two local judges who were later convicted in the so-called "kids for cash" scandal, whereby they took bribes for sending young offenders to private jails. I'm wondering if this might be a bridge too far for Holden, though: Cartwright's contributions were made years before the judges were ever investigated, and he even helped provide pro bono counsel for the kids who were railroaded by these thugs after the mess was uncovered. Anyhow, you can watch the spot at the link or below:

WA-01: Republican candidate John Koster is out with an internal poll of the top-two primary, which shows him winning by a wide margin over an array of Democrats. (The poll comes from Dresner Wickers Barber Sanders.) Of course, it would be entirely strange for him not to be winning by a wide margin, since he's the only Republican and there are six credible Dems fighting for the second ticket out of the top 2 primary... and there are no figures in the poll for any head-to-head matchups, which is what actually matters in November.

In any event, Koster is at 37, while the Dems go in the following order: Darcy Burner at 11, Laura Ruderman and Steve Hobbs at 4, Suzan DelBene at 3, and Roger Goodman and Darshan Rauniyar at 1. I suppose Koster would like us to focus on the cumulative Dem total as being only 24, but do you really want to be releasing an internal poll that shows you with only 37% of the vote when you're a Republican in a district that voted 56% for Obama in '08? (39% remain undecided, and I'd expect the majority of them to be Dems, so Koster would need 1/3 of that pool to break his way to hit 50%.)

Also, the confusion about the special election in the wake of Jay Inslee's resignation just continues to mount, with the parties and candidates not sure if they'll bother running or, if so, how hard to contest it. (The prize would be a one-month stint during the lame duck session.) There's actually been talk of both parties finding a consensus elder-statesman type to hold down the fort for the stub term so that everyone can train their fire on the regularly scheduled election. (Good luck finding someone everyone can agree on, though.) (David Jarman)

Other Races:

Special Elections: Johnny recaps Tuesday night's action:

Oklahoma SD-20: Republican Ann Griffin held this seat with no trouble whatsoever; she beat Democrat Magnus Scott 80-20.

Oklahoma HD-71: Another photo finish; Democrat Dan Arthrell has a 3-vote lead over Republican Katie Henke with all the precincts in. If that lead holds, he picks up the seat for the Democrats.

HD-71 would actually be the second state House pickup in Oklahoma for Dems in a special election this year.

WI Recall: It looks like some recall supporters are taking a different tack when it comes to dealing with Republican plans to once again run phony Democrats in this spring's state Senate recalls. One Wisconsin Now, the labor umbrella group, is asking the Government Accountability Board and local prosecutors to investigate whether "any laws were broken when 'fake' or 'protest' candidates filed their sworn declarations of candidacy indicating they would be 'representing' the Democratic Party." (The statutes they're relying on are excerpted at the link.)

If this effort doesn't come to fruition, I still maintain that Dems need to fight fire with fire and run fake Republicans of our own. While our Senate recall candidates are, for the most part, reasonably well-known current and former legislators, I wouldn't want to take any chances on one of them losing a primary to a bogus challenger.

Grab Bag:

MD Primaries: Tuesday night's congressional primaries in Maryland turned out, as expected, to be pretty snoozy affairs. In MD-Sen, Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin handily won renomination by a 74-16 spread over state Sen. C. Anthony Muse. He'll face former Secret Service agent Daniel Bongino in the fall, who won the GOP primary with 34% of the vote.

The MD-06 Dem contest wound up being extremely lopsided, as financier John Delaney rode his enormous spending advantage to a punishing 54-29 win over state Sen. Rob Garagiola, who started off as the clear favorite for this seat. Rather impressively, a late poll by Delaney from Garin-Hart-Yang showed him with a 26-point lead; he won by 25.

And finally, on the GOP side in the 6th District, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett certainly didn't perform impressively, but he didn't need to: His 43% was more than adequate to prevail against a field of seven challengers, who badly split the vote among them. Bartlett's nearest rival, state Sen. David Brinkley, took just 20%, while state Rep. Kathy Afzali finished with only 10%. Bartlett will now face Delaney in November, in an extensively redrawn and significantly bluer district that should favor Democrats.

Wisconsin: Of course Kathy Nickolaus managed to screw up again. Nickolaus, the notorious Waukesha County Clerk who somehow found missing votes from last April's supreme court race that flipped the contest from challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg to incumbent David Prosser two days after the election, presided over another disastrous election on Tuesday. Some results were not posted until 6 friggin' a.m. the next morning, and it sounds like chaos reigned at the clerk's office all night. This woman is just the worst.

Redistricting Roundup:

PA Redistricting: Even though Pennsylvania will use its decade-old (and manifestly unconstitutional) legislative maps this year because the state supreme court struck down the new lines drawn by the state's redistricting panel, that same gang will reportedly try to meet next week to adopt brand-new plans that will pass constitutional muster. But the soonest they might go into effect is 2014 (unless a special election is called next year), since filing has long since closed for the PA primaries, which are later this month.

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

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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