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Leading Off:

VA-Gov: Quinnipiac is out with their first post-election day look at the 2013 Virginia governor's race, which still has yet to fully take shape. They test two Democrats, 2009 candidate Terry McAuliffe (who has more-or-less announced) and Sen. Mark Warner (who doesn't seem inclined to seek his old job back), and two Republicans, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (the establishment pick) and AG Ken Cuccinelli (the movement conservative firebrand), who have both been actively seeking the job for quite some time.

Warner is very popular (58-20 favorables) and crushes both GOPers: Bolling 53-33 and Cuccinelli 52-34. McAuliffe, despite his earlier run, is barely known (17-13 faves), edging Bolling just 38-36 and Cuccinelli 41-37. While Cuccinelli has higher name recognition (29-24 faves) than Bolling (20-8), he's way more polarizing, with 41 percent of Democrats expressing an unfavorable view of him versus just 12 percent for Bolling. I think Dems have to hope the GOP nominates Cuccinelli for that reason. Quinnipiac apparently didn't test the Republican primary this time, but their June poll showed him with a crushing (albeit very early) 51-15 lead over Bolling.


GA-Sen: We don't ever get too deep into the weeds in terms of the jockeying over congressional leadership posts—after all, this is an elections site. But one contest may actually have an impact on the campaign trail. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) just beat out Rep. Tom Price (GA-06) for the job of House Republican Conference chair, succeeding Rep. Jeb Hensarling (TX-05) for the fourth-ranking House GOP post. (Hensarling will become chair of the Financial Services Committee. One other interesting side-note is that McMorris Rodgers was the favorite of John Boehner, while Paul Ryan supported Price.)

So what the heck does this have to do with the Senate race in Georgia in 2014? Well, the other week, we referenced a report by local analyst Jim Galloway that suggested Price might be interested in a primary challenge to Sen. Saxby Chambliss. One factor to consider, said Galloway, was how Price fared in his leadership bid. Given his loss to McMorris Rodgers, and the fact that he may have plateaued out for however long John Boehner is Speaker, a Senate bid might look more tempting now.

ME-Sen: No surprise: Independent Angus King is gonna dance with the ones what brung him. King will caucus with Democrats in the Senate is supporting Harry Reid as majority leader. Given that the NRSC ran ads against him, and given that (despite his protestations that he's too good for party politics) his ideology leans left, any other result would have been pretty stunning. Except, well, to John McCain, who called King's decision "shocking and startling news." (That just demonstrates how out-of-the-loop McCain is, though, since Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell didn't even reach out to Angus.) King's move cements the Democrat's 55-45 advantage in the chamber.

OH-Sen: Sherrod Brown's campaign has put together a final tally of all the spending directed against them by conservative interests, and it really is pretty mind-boggling: In all, right-wing groups blew $40 million on the race, with $31 million going to radio and TV ads, $7 million in mail and billboards, and another $2 million for polling and various production costs. And despite all that, Brown still defeated Republican Josh Mandel by five points.


PA-Gov: Pennsylvania Democrats sound eager to take on first-term GOP Gov. Tom Corbett in 2014, particularly given Corbett's weak approval ratings and unhappiness over his education cuts. So of course the Great Mentioner is kicking into high gear, and here's one early list of possibles from the Morning Call: Sen. Bob Casey (who just won re-election), Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro, state Treasurer Rob McCord, Tom Wolf (a former official in ex-Gov. Ed Rendell's administration), Philadelphia mayoral candidate and rich guy Tom Knox, and Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski. No one's quoted on the record, but in a separate piece in the York Daily Record, Wolf says he's considering it.

Also of note: Waste disposal company owner Scott Wagner says he's weighing a primary challenge to Corbett. It's not clear how rich Wagner is (his company website says it employs 300 people), but he'd need some considerable personal wealth to even have a prayer. But even if he does, I can't really think of too many governors knocks off in their own primaries by rich businessmen.


AZ-02: Looks like Dem Rep. Ron Barber's lead over Martha McSally is now up to 943 votes as of late Wednesday. Earlier in the day, Barber had nosed down to a 654-vote edge after being up 829 on Tuesday.

CA-52: Another day, another increase in Democrat Scott Peters' lead. San Diego County's Wednesday evening update put incumbent GOPer Brian Bilbray 2,948 votes behind Peters, 288 further behind than he was on Tuesday (which in turn was another 761 further behind than the day before that). The story is getting old at this point: Fewer ballots are left and Peters is doing better and better. It looks like Bilbray's in pretty bad shape at this point.

FL-18: GOP Rep. Allen West has now apparently filed another lawsuit, this time to demand a full recount of all early ballots in St. Lucie County. (If you've been following this whole overtime saga, you know that St. Lucie conducted a partial "retabulation" of three days' worth of early votes.) If this whole "Florida congressman" thing doesn't work out, though, West now has a standing invitation from the chair of... the Georgia Republican Party to move back to his home state and run for office there some day. But exactly which incumbent Georgia congressmember does she want West to run against in the primary?

This is also pretty hilarious. Patrick Murphy, of course, is attending freshman orientation on Capitol Hill this week—something candidates in uncalled races are invited to do. (Hell, even NC-07's David Rouzer, who trails by 420 votes, is in attendance.) But West is even grousing about this!

"I think it is premature of him," Tim Edson, West's campaign manager, said on a conference call Wednesday. "I understand he would like to move on and wrap this up, but for someone who claims to be certified public accountant, you would expect him to be a little more concerned about the shifting numbers and the inaccuracies of these numbers."
PA-12: Relying on preliminary precinct-level results, Keegan Gibson at PoliticsPA has an interesting look at Dem Rep. Mark Critz's loss in the hotly contested race in PA-12. All things considered, Critz did quite well, falling to Republican Keith Rothfus by only a 3.6 percent margin. Of course, a loss is a loss, but Gibson calculates that Romney beat Obama by a hefty 59-42 spread. That's almost twice as wide as McCain's 54-45 victory in 2008, which shows you just what a brutal headwind Critz was facing.

Other Races:

NY-St. Sen: Well, lovely. Newly-elected "Democratic" state Sen. Simcha Felder has, as expected, decide to caucus with Republicans in the state Senate, even though Dems nominally won a surprise majority on election day. But Felder's move may or may not determine control of the chamber. Right now, Democrats hold a 32-31 edge, but that includes the four members of the beyond-maddening "Independent Democratic Conference," who have also said they're open to siding with the GOP (or with no one, which would also hand power to Republicans). Indeed, the IDC has even met with Majority Leader Dean Skelos, but no deal's yet been reached.

However, there's also the matter of the 46th Senate District, where Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk (who hopes she never has to run a write-in campaign) currently has a 139-vote edge over Republican George Amedore, with more than 9,000 absentee ballots and an unknown number of provisionals left to be counted. A Tkaczyk win would be a major upset, but it may well be in the cards: According to GOP sources, there are more outstanding absentee ballots from registered Dems than Republicans. But if Amedore were to come from behind, then Felder would give the GOP a 32-31 edge.

So Felder may have made a strange mistake in jumping so early, because if Tkaczyk can hang on, then the IDC—and not Felder—becomes the power-broker. On the flipside, if Tkaczyk loses, then the IDC looks like chumps for not moving quickly enough. Of course, Felder's always made it clear that he prefers Skelos, so reversing course would probably have been difficult for any number of reasons. As for the IDC, it's possible that they can still wring concessions out of Skelos, who would probably prefer a 36-seat majority to a bare 32-seat edge. Ugh. What suck.

WA-St. Sen: Before the election, the Democrats controlled the Washington State Senate by a 27-22 margin, and afterwards it looked like that 27-22 edge would continue. At this point, though, there are at least three caveats attached to that. First, that depends on long-time Vancouver-area Republican state Sen. Don Benton losing; he'd been losing narrowly to Dem state Rep. Tim Probst, but after the last count is now up by 65 votes. A Benton victory would cut that Dem edge to 26-23. (You may remember Benton from the '10 WA-Sen race, where he was going to be the GOP's sacrificial lamb until they got Dino Rossi to saddle up on last time, or if your memory goes way back, from losing the open WA-03 in 1998.)

Second, if that edge gets cut to 26-23, then Democratic dissidents can start messing with things. Two of the three Dems who joined the GOP budget coup last year (Tim Sheldon, and Rodney Tom—we may have dodged a bullet not running him in WA-08 in 2008 after all) are still in the Senate, then they say they'll push for a power-sharing arrangement that would put GOPers in charge of certain committees. They aren't going so far as to demand GOP share in leadership, though; in fact, the Dem caucus already has elected Ed Murray as the chamber's new majority leader. This makes Murray the state's first-ever LGBT floor leader, and assuming he wants to keep this job, it also scrambles the calculus for Seattle's mayoral race next year, where Murray was considered a frontrunner.

And third and finally, there's also the wee matter of replacing Derek Kilmer, just elected to the U.S. House. Under Washington law, there isn't an immediate special election; a member of the same party will be appointed to replace him, and then there will be a special as part of the regularly scheduled Nov. 2013 elections. The link has a list of potential Dem names, but also says that Republican state Rep. Jan Angel has already said she'll run in that replacement special election. This district is the reddest one left in the Senate with a Democratic member, so it could go to the Republicans. (And even if Probst does defeat Benton, a loss here would still allow more shenanigans from the dissident duo in 2014). (David Jarman)

Grab Bag:

Congress: The National Journal's interactive feature on the new members of the incoming 113th Congress is just awesome. You can sort the entire gang by party, gender, ethnicity, and more. And it's all very slick. Click through and I promise you'll enjoy.

Demographics: This NYT chart examining exit polling results is really very well done, from a visual perspective. It uses arrows that each have three inflection points to describe how Obama performed among various demographic groups: The starting point is John Kerry's 2004 take, followed by Obama's 2008 effort, and then Obama's 2012 share. So you can see, for instance, that the president improved several points among women over Kerry, then retrenched a few (but by no means all the way back) in his re-election campaign. With Latinos, though, Obama not only did better than Kerry, but he also did better in 2012 than in 2008. Really fascinating stuff.

DGA/RGA: Sean Sullivan has a good roundup of spending by on contested governor's races by both the DGA and RGA this. While the RGA did pick up a 30th governor's mansion (in North Carolina)—the most either party has held—they outspent the DGA by a huge margin overall, $57 million to $35 million. In spite of that, Democrats held on to tough open seats in Montana, Washington, and New Hampshire, and re-elected governors in two red states, West Virginia and Missouri. One remarkable thing Sullivan doesn't mention is the final margin in New Hampshire, a race almost everyone (ourselves included) had as a tossup but which went for Democrat Maggie Hassan by a huge 12-point margin. (That's wider than the GOP's win in NC.) Spending by both committees was equal in that race—$8 million apiece, though in Montana, the RGA outspent the DGA $4.7 mil to $3 mil.

House: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced on Wednesday that she will stay on in her current position. While Republicans, of course, still control the House, Democrats appear to have picked up eight seats in the 2012 elections, narrowing the GOP's majority to 234-201. More importantly, though, no one seemed interested in challenging Pelosi for the job, particularly seeing as Steny Hoyer, the no. 2 Democrat in the chamber, plans to seek the role of House Minority Whip once more.

NRSC: The "get a brain, morans!" jokes will really write themselves for the next two years. Shira Toeplitz reports that there's some serious GOP grumbling about the fact that Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran will take the helm at the NRSC, largely centered around the fact that Moran is an unknown freshman with a weak fundraising record who hails from a state without a large, wealthy donor base... but otherwise, he's perfect for the job! The guy Republicans did want, Ohio's Rob Portman, will instead become a vice-chair, along with Senator-elect Ted Cruz of Texas. If Jerry Moran somehow turns out to be the next Tom Cole, I will be so happy.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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