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Leading Off:

FL-18: The situation in Florida's 18th Congressional District grew murkier over the weekend, after St. Lucie County decided to engage, sua sponte, in a "partial" recount of early ballots (the final three days' worth). Bizarrely, Democrat Patrick Murphy saw his vote totals drop by 667 votes while GOP Rep. Allen West's also fell, by 132. That gave West a net gain of 535 votes but still left Murphy up by 0.58 percent—just outside the half-percent margin which would trigger a formal recount. Of course, West is now demanding a full recount of all early votes, so we'll soon see where that heads.

Earlier, on Friday, West's request for an injunction to impound voting machines and ballots in Palm Beach County was denied by the judge hearing the case. West has a similar action pending in St. Lucie County, and I imagine this weekend's recount issues will come up when the matter is heard on Tuesday.


IA-Sen: Just days after his nine-point victory over Christie Vilsack, GOP Rep. Steve King is refusing to rule out a run against Dem Sen. Tom Harkin in 2014. Over his long career, Harkin has always seemed like an attractive target for Republicans. But after first unseating Sen. Roger Jepsen in 1984, Harkin then dispatched three congressmen in a row: Tom Tauke (1990), Jim Lightfoot (1996), and Greg Ganske (2002). That left Republicans with Some Dude Christopher Reed in 2008, who helped Harkin achieve his highest-ever vote total (63 percent).

That's not say Harkin won't be vulnerable in 2014. To the contrary: I expect the GOP to try hard for this seat. But King would probably be our best opponent: He's a stone-cold lunatic, and the rest of Iowa is much more moderate than his district. What's more, he can almost certainly out-crazy anyone else who might dare enter the primary field. On the flipside, he can probably raise a lot of money, but I think Harkin would have a field day with King and would probably prefer him to some anodyne establishment type. (And before anyone can say "be careful what you wish for," I'll just point out that for the last two cycles, Republicans have done us huge favors by nominating their most insane standard-bearers. MourdockAkinAngleO'Donnell anyone?)


CT-Gov: If you've followed PPP's polling, you know that Dem Gov. Dan Malloy, first elected in 2010, has seen some pretty rough approval numbers. That's probably due to Connecticut's difficult fiscal situation and some tough choices Malloy has pushed for, including a tax increase. But lately, Malloy's numbers have turned around, and PPP's final CT poll saw him surge from -19 to +12! Such a big shift always raises eyebrows, but that survey actually found smaller margins for Barack Obama and Chris Murphy than they actually saw on election day.

Something else happened on election day as well, though: Democrats maintained their margins in both houses of the state legislature, even though Republicans made a big push (centered around attacks over Malloy's tax hike). Malloy is spinning this as vindication for his efforts, which he says were necessary due to years of mismanagement by GOP governors. Republican pushback is amusing, with leaders noting that this was "the first presidential election year since 1992 in which the GOP did not lose legislative seats." In other words: "Hooray! We've hit rock bottom!" Malloy will likely still have a tough re-election fight on his hands, and there's always the "you never know what things will look like two years from now" mantra. But this is a good start.

• WA-Gov: Fantastic! With the writing on the wall quite clear, Republican Rob McKenna has conceded the governor's race to Democrat Jay Inslee, with Inslee leading on Friday night by about a 51-49 margin. It's a remarkable cycle on the gubernatorial front for Dems and the DGA generally: They hung on to several tough seats this year (particularly in Montana) and lost only in North Carolina. And this hold in Washington preserves Team Blue's streak at an amazing eight straight victories in the Evergreen State. Nice work!


Overtime: Not including the crazy FL-18 (see above), here's where we stand in the other five House races that are still uncalled. The number indicates the leader's edge over his or her opponent:

AZ-02: Rep. Ron Barber (D): +289
AZ-09: Kyrsten Sinema (D): +5,789
CA-07: Ami Bera (D): +1,779 (next update Tuesday, 6 PM ET)
CA-52: Scott Peters (D): +1,334 (next update Monday, 8 PM ET)
NC-07: Rep. Mike McIntyre (D): +420

In AZ-02, we don't know the exact number of ballots remaining (or where they hail from), so it’s difficult to say what lies in store for Barber, who has alternately trailed and led Martha McSally. In AZ-09, Maricopa County (which contains the entire district) reports that it has approximately 322,000 ballots left to count. AZ-09 makes up 19 percent of the county by raw population (but likely a greater proportion of its voter base). Even assuming there are 75,000 ballots left as between Sinema and Parker (a very generous assumption since the Libertarian is getting 6 percent), Vernon Parker needs 54 percent of the remaining vote (his "magic number") in order to win. That's 5% higher than his current 48.5 percent of the two-party haul.

Meanwhile, in California, we do have a better sense of things: In the 7th, we know that Dan Lungren's magic number is 51.4 percent, but he's only gotten 49.6 percent so far. Similarly, in the 52nd, Brian Bilbray's magic number is 50.8, versus the 49.7 he's taken to date. That's good news for both Bera and Peters, though there are still lots of ballots left to count, and indeed, Sacramento County (where the 7th is based) says it might not finish until early December!

Finally, in North Carolina, as we've mentioned, the contest may go to a recount. The formal county canvass is scheduled to be completed on Nov. 16 and if the margin remains less than 1% (as it appears it will), then the trailing candidate has the right to seek a recount. That request must be made in writing by 5 PM the following day, so we'll know by next weekend whether David Rouzer (who will probably still be behind by then) decides to ask for a recount.

CA-15: Another very interesting tidbit from Greg Giroux: Rep. Pete Stark, who was just defeated by fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell, was the third longest-serving member of the House to be unseated by a member of his own party. The longest was New York City Democrat Manny Celler, who lost to Liz Holtzman in 1972 after an amazing twenty-five terms in office. Second was Massachusetts Republican Joseph W. Martin, who served 21 terms before being defeated by Margaret Heckler in 1966. Stark winds up just behind Martin with 20 terms, though the other two men both lost in primaries while Stark lost in a general election, thanks to California's new top-two primary system.

CA-36: Fantastic news! GOP Rep. Mary Bono Mack has conceded to Democrat Raul Ruiz. The most recent updated vote count (as of Friday evening) put Ruiz ahead by a dominant 7,000 votes, which MBM had no hope of making up. Congratulations to Congressman-elect Raul Ruiz—an amazing win!

GA-10: So hilarious!

Charles Darwin, the 19th-century naturalist who laid the foundations for evolutionary theory, received nearly 4,000 write-in votes in Athens-Clarke County in balloting for the 10th Congressional District seat retained Tuesday by five-year incumbent Republican Rep. Paul Broun.

A spot check Thursday of some of the other counties in the east Georgia congressional district revealed a smattering of votes for Darwin, although it wasn't always clear, based on information provided by elections offices in those counties, whether those votes were cast in the 10th District race. And because the long-dead Darwin was not a properly certified write-in candidate, some counties won't be tallying votes for him, whether in the congressional race or other contests.

A campaign asking voters to write-in Darwin's name in the 10th Congressional District, which includes half of Athens-Clarke County, began after Broun, speaking at a sportsmen's banquet at a Hartwell church, called evolution and other areas of science "lies straight from the pit of hell."

Not bad for a guy who died 130 years ago—and who isn't even American! (Broun, by the way, was otherwise unopposed for re-election in this dark-red district.)

HI-02: It's almost too bad Virgil Goode isn't around anymore, since I'm sure we'd all enjoy another one of his meltdowns: Democrat Tulsi Gabbard, just elected to the open seat in Hawaii's 2nd Congressional District, will become the first Hindu member of the House and will apparently take her oath of office on the Bhagavad Gita. (I know I'll never forget Goode flipping out when Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison was sworn in over a Koran owned by Thomas Jefferson back in 2007.)

IL-13: Democrat David Gill, whose race was called by the AP on election night, conceded to Republican Rodney Davis on Friday:

My exhausted campaign team has just completed a county by county analysis of outstanding provisional and absentee ballots in the 13th Congressional District, as well as some precinct based anomalies in ballot returns and turnout.

The closeness of this race (less than 1/2 percentage point) demanded that we diligently check the numbers. I am very grateful for the dedicated work of my campaign staff to go through this data in the last few days, and for the cooperation of election officials in each of the 14 counties.

It has become clear to me, based on the numbers I've seen, that there are simply not enough uncounted ballots remaining to wipe out the current 1,287 vote deficit I face in this election.

MI-01: Democrat Gary McDowell conceded his race to GOP Rep. Dan Benishek on Friday, losing by a heart-breakingly close 0.6 percent. Though the race had been called earlier in the week, McDowell held off on conceding because he was concerned there was a discrepancy with the AP's numbers. In his Friday statement, though, McDowell acknowledged that "new results are unlikely to change the outcome of the race in any significant way."

NY-24: Even Hiroo Onodo came down from the mountains eventually: GOP Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle conceded to Democrat Dan Maffei on Friday afternoon, when she was trailing by over 14,500 votes. According to the Syracuse Post-Standard: "Buerkle said earlier she wanted all the votes to be counted before she would concede. But today she said she didn't want it to overshadow Veteran's Day."

WA-01: Despite trailing by almost seven percent, Republican John Koster waited until Thursday night to concede to Democrat Suzan DelBene. Washington, as you know, counts ballots very slowly, and at last glance, under three quarters had actually been tallied. But there was never any reason for Koster to have hope, which is why he's finally given up. He also took a potshot at the GOP establishment in an email to supporters, saying: "Sadly, and for reasons untold, neither the National Republican Congressional Committee nor the Washington State Republican Party stepped up to provide us with anything more than token support." That should help ensure Koster will never run again.

Other Races:

NY-St. Sen: I think this story actually says more about Dem Gov. Andrew Cuomo's presidential chances than it does about the New York state Senate, but in any event, Cuomo is refusing to take sides over the Senate leadership dispute that's sure to arise after Tuesday's surprise election results. As I explained the other day, Democrats may have won enough seats to claim the majority, nominally controlling 33 seats to the GOP's 30. But there are five wayward Dems (four members of the so-called "Independent Democratic Conference," or IDC, plus one inscrutable Simcha Felder), any or all of whom might cut a deal with Republicans.

Cuomo, a Democrat who apparently loathes the Democratic Party, has made no secret in the past of his preference for a Republican Senate—he's buddy-buddy with the GOP majority leader, Dean Skelos, and his fiscal instincts align with theirs. Hell, Cuomo even endorsed two Republican senators up for re-election. So just think about it: A Democratic governor refusing to say that he wants Democrats (who do, after all, have a majority, even if on paper only) to control the state legislature? That's really a hell of a thing. When it comes time to proving your partisan bona fides in a presidential primary, this kind of abstention looks like a serious black mark.

TX-?? George P. Bush, son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and nephew of Dubya, has filed paperwork for a campaign committee in Texas. It's not known what office he might seek, but AG or Land Commissioner are rumored possibilities. (The attorney general's job will be open in 2014 if Greg Abbott makes a run for governor.) One thing I'd forgotten (that the New Republic's Eliza Gray reminds me of) is that George P., who speaks Spanish and whose mother is Mexican, was once dubbed the GOP's Ricky Martin—probably not something he'd like to be reminded of. Also: Don't confuse George P. with Jeb's other son, Jeb Bush, Jr. (aka JBJ), who has already been talked about as a possible 2014 challenger to Rep.-elect Joe Garcia in FL-26.

Grab Bag:

VRA: As expected, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case, Shelby County v. Holder, which could overturn Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. (Section 5 requires certain jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to seek "preclearance" of changes to voting procedures with the Department of Justice, to ensure they do not harm minorities.) Rick Hasen has more, and it sounds like he thinks the prognosis is grim for Section 5.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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