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Leading Off:

MI-Sen: After the twenty-point drubbing Pete Hoekstra took in his humiliating loss to Debbie Stabenow last month, it's hard to imagine the GOP putting up much of a fight against Michigan's senior senator, Democrat Carl Levin, in 2014. Now, Levin is 78, so retirement is definitely a possibility, but if he seeks re-election to a seventh (!) term, he starts off in good shape, according to PPP. While Levin's job approval ratings are decent—at 46-35, he's actually behind Stabenow's 55-36—his head-to-head performance against nominally top-tier Republican opposition is even better:

• 52-34 vs. Rep. Candice Miller

• 53-32 vs. Rep. Justin Amash

• 53-31 vs. state Sen. Roger Kahn

• 54-32 vs. state AG Bill Schuette

• 55-31 vs. Rep. Mike Rogers

Alright, well, I don't know that you can call Justin Amash top-tier anything (except for "top-tier most hated by the GOP establishment"), but I don't think any of these potential candidates have expressed even the slightest interest in taking on Levin, except for Kahn—and that was all the way back in June. The Hoekstra debacle might have him rethinking things now, but Kahn is term-limited and doesn't have many better options, so it'll probably be a schnook state legislator like him or some random rich guy. But even if Levin does decide to hang up his spurs, I like our chances.


HI-Sen: Unsurprisingly, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa will submit an application to the state Democratic Party for consideration as a possible replacement for the late Sen. Dan Inouye. State law requires that the party to which a deceased senator belonged submit three names to the governor; Dem Gov. Neil Abercrombie will then select one to become Inouye's successor. Of course, Inouye's dying wish was to see Hanabusa follow in his footsteps, and it's hard to imagine Abercrombie not respecting Inouye's desires, so this is probably mostly a formality. I'll still be curious to see which other two names the Hawaii Dems put on their shortlist—or perhaps they're permitted to just leave slots two and three blank.


FL-Gov: Quinnipiac has an approvals-only poll of Florida, and GOP Gov. Rick Scott isn't looking too hot. He remains mired in negative territory, at 36-45, which is better than his all-time low of 29-57 set last year—but his best-ever mark of 41-46 from this past May is hardly cause for celebration. That goes with along with a 31-43 personal favorability rating for Scott, and while we don't have head-to-heads, we also have favorables for a bunch of potential Democratic challengers:

Ex-Gov. Charlie Crist: 47-33
2010 nominee Alex Sink: 27-14
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer: 13-8
Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio: 17-6
Outgoing state Sen. Nan Rich: 6-4
Ft. Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler: 4-3

Obviously anyone on this list not named Crist (or Sink) has a serious name rec deficit to overcome, but it's unsurprising that mayors in a state as big as Florida wouldn't be particularly well-known. Ultimately, that's more of an issue in a potential primary, since whoever emerges as the Democratic nominee ought to have plenty of earned media and money propelling them forward.

One side-note is that Quinnipiac also checked Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam's favorables, too. He's also unknown, at 13-6, but he could run for governor some day... perhaps even against Scott—though I don't know that anyone but me is talking about that possibility. But check this out: Quinnipiac also asked "Do you think that some other Republican should run against Rick Scott for the Republican nomination?" Among Republican respondents, 53 percent say yes versus just 30 who disagree! That's an awful lot of discontent among potential GOP primary voters, and given how toxic Scott will be in a general election, the Republican establishment might start thinking about tossing him overboard.

RI-Gov: Did you know that Rhode Island hasn't elected a Democrat governor since the late Bruce Sundlun won a second term (back when terms lasted just two years) in 1992? Yep, 'tis true! While they've gotten obliterated on the federal level for quite some time, that statehouse streak may give Ocean State Republicans a bit of hope that they might recapture the governor's mansion, particularly since now-Gov. Lincoln Chafee's independent candidacy left them just over two points shy of victory in 2010. If Chafee doesn't switch parties (something he's publicly contemplated), and if Democrats recruit a stronger candidate this time, then perhaps the GOP might have an outside shot at a pickup.

However, their previous candidate, businessman John Robitaille, now says he won't run again, in a Facebook post that pretty much attacks Rhode Island voters for being too liberal. But other Republicans are weighing the race: Former state police chief Brendan Doherty, who lost a race for Congress against Rep. David Cicilline last month, says he's "absolutely" considering a gubernatorial bid and hopes to make a decision in four to five months. Meanwhile, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung says that he, too, is "very seriously looking" at entering the race, while Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian isn't ruling anything out but says it's "too soon" to talk about.


IL-02: It looks like the field for the Jesse Jackson, Jr. special election is just about set: Jackson's brother, activist Jonathan Jackson, says he won't run in the Democratic primary to replace the former congressman. That follows a similar announcement last week from Jesse Jackson's wife, Sandi.

Other Races:

NY-St. Sen: As expected, the judge overseeing the ballot counting in the ultra-tight race in New York's 46th Senate District has certified the results, handing Republican George Amedore a 37-vote win. But Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk plans to appeal, saying that "hundreds" of unopened ballots were improperly tossed out. (Arguments likely won't be heard until early January.) Meanwhile, Republicans are claiming that an Amedore victory—which would give them outright majority control of the Senate without any need to rely on the five members of the "Independent Democratic Conference"—will not affect their power-sharing agreement with the IDC. We'll see about that, though.

NYC Mayor: Looks like Republicans are finally going to land a legitimate candidate for next year's mayoral race in the Big Apple: MTA chief Joe Lhota is reportedly resigning from his current post, a move that looks like a prelude to a run for office. Lhota earned a lot of praise as head of the transit authority for restoring service in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, but he's still utterly unknown as a public figure: A Quinnipiac poll last month had him trailing a generic Democrat by a comical 60 to 9! Still, given the history of mayoral contests in NYC over the past 20-plus years, I'm not ready to write off anyone or anything.

Grab Bag:

Ads: Here's a great collection of extremely old-school (print) political ads from the blog Vintage Ads. A random selection from the 19th century:

D. K. Burkholder for Prison Keeper, Lancaster, Pa., May 21, 1881
Prison keeper! Many more politically-themed ads here.

Pres-by-CD: One new state, and an update to a state we brought you in the previous Digest:

Kansas (statewide)

West Virginia (statewide)

After shaking Kansas' election results loose from the couch cushions, we can now get you presidential results from Kansas' 4 districts. Infuriatingly, the hold-up wasn't, say, precinct results from tiny Pawnee County, but rather, official county-level results from the Secretary of State! The results by CD themselves are not particularly noteworthy, other than the fact that Dems left GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder uncontested in a 44 percent Obama district is really quite appalling.

Secondly, they say the easiest things are also the easiest to screw up, and I botched this one rather badly. West Virginia's congressional map doesn't split any counties, which means no data collection or calculations at the precinct level were needed – how hard could it be? Well, as sharp-eyed reader zyangunc noted, our West Virginia vote totals were too high, almost twice the correct total.

The error resulted from my failure to notice that the official results file from the SoS also included one iteration of unofficial results in addition to the official results, which led to the almost-doubling of the number of votes from each county and district. We've corrected our numbers now, and there ended up being a slight difference between the correct (official-only) and double-counted (official + unofficial) results. The news still isn't great for Nick Rahall, the Dem Rep. in WV-03, as his district was actually 33 percent Obama, not 32. (jeffmd)

Polltopia: Meh. So Brock McCleary, the outgoing deputy director of the NRCC, is starting his own IVR polling company, supposedly to give the GOP an answer to PPP. But the problem on the right is not a lack of robopollsters—they've already got Rasmussen, We Ask America, Susquehanna and more—but a lack of quality, independence, and transparency. Given how deep the Republican Party shoved its fingers into its own ears and chanted "la-la-la I can't hear you!" to drown out bad polling news this cycle, the test for McLeary's Harper Polling will be whether it can produce reality-based results, or whether it, too, falls down the rabbit hole of epistemic closure.

WATN?: Longtime readers of the Swing State Project (the predecessor site to Daily Kos Elections) will never forget Greg Davis, the mayor of Southaven, MS who got his ass repeatedly kicked in 2008 by Democrat Travis Childers—first in a special election, then in a runoff, and then finally in the November general. Davis was a preternaturally awkward politician from the wrong part of the district, whose campaign was best summed up when a barnstorming Dick Cheney dubbed him the mayor of "South Memphis"—Memphis, of course, being in Tennessee and not, ya know, Mississippi.

Afterwards, we mostly forgot about Davis (except to chuckle once in a while about his uncanny resemblance to Nathan Lane during his "Producers" days), until his life took an extremely unexpected turn last year when he was busted for spending taxpayer dollars at "an adult store catering to gay men while on a recruitment trip to Canada." Uh, yeah.

So anyhow, Davis, who called himself a "very conservative" individual, announced that he was gay following these revelations, which ultimately led to his (now former) wife suing his alleged lover for $1 million for "alienation of affection." (Ah, you law school types: Ringing any bar exam bells?) But the story hardly stops there!

That's because Davis was just indicted on several counts of fraud stemming from his embezzlement of some $170,000 in state funds—include $67 spent at that Canadian sex shop which kicked this whole chain of events off in the first place. Remarkably, Davis continues to serve as mayor, since Mississippi law doesn't permit his removal unless he's convicted of a crime. Of course, that may just happen very soon. We'll keep you posted!

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sen. Levin has ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ... lost my support for his refusal to support filibuster reform. I appreciate his long service, but this is inexcusable. I hope he receives a strong primary challenge from the left.

  •  Hard to trust Michigan these days. (0+ / 0-)

    But that's my gut talking; mentally, I see your point.

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 05:34:03 AM PST

  •  Sandi Jackson might have some problems of her own. (0+ / 0-)

    Not that it would stop her from winning in that district.

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 05:39:38 AM PST

  •  Is the Ag Commissioner a Repub? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Little Bozo

    He'd have to be almost worse that Scott.

    Seems like their Agricultural practices are a big part of the reason the state is turning into an unsustainable chemical brew.

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 05:43:36 AM PST

  •  MA-Sen - WBUR/MassInc. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bear83, James Allen

    Scott Brown with big special election leads on largely unknown Democratic Congressmen, but generally below 50%.  Brown at 58-28 favorability.

    This pollster was pretty close in the 2012 race, finding Warren by 6% in late October.  But they had Brown up 3 in early October, which was out of the mainstream at that time.

    White Male, 36, New FL-14 (Castor), proud father of a 4-year-old daughter. "This is Wendy's guys! This is Wendy's!" - Mitt Romney, October 9, 2012.

    by spiderdem on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 05:54:34 AM PST

    •  More on this. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bear83, bumiputera, DCCyclone, pistolSO

      Partisan breakdown appears to be 36-11-53.  2012 exits were 39-17-45.  Does not appear to be unreasonably weighted towards one side or the other.

      The poll has Brown defeating Deval Patrick 47-40, which is perplexing because Patrick's 60-26 favorability is actually slightly better than Brown, and somewhere I heard Massachusetts is generally a Democratic state.  But that matchup won't happen anyway.

      Brown is up:

      51-24 vs. Lynch
      51-36 vs. Coakley
      49-30 vs. Meehan
      48-30 vs. Markey
      47-28 vs. Capuano

      And for some reason they tested Vick Kennedy's favorability (31-20) but no head-to-head.

      White Male, 36, New FL-14 (Castor), proud father of a 4-year-old daughter. "This is Wendy's guys! This is Wendy's!" - Mitt Romney, October 9, 2012.

      by spiderdem on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:05:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A throwaway in my book (5+ / 0-)

        A sincere thanks for sharing, but I don't regard this poll even as a valid baseline at this stage.

        There's not even a vacant seat, hardly anyone outside the teeny universe of political junkies is aware of anything going on to justify getting a telephone call asking these survey questions.  So people give completely impulsive answers based on nothing but name rec and the fact Brown for the moment is still an incumbent U.S. Senator.

        44, male, Indian-American, married and proud father of a girl and 2 boys, Democrat, VA-10

        by DCCyclone on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:32:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  This is why it is foolish to make Kerry SoS now (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aquarius40, Paleo, RoIn

      Democrats would be practically giving away a Senate seat in one of the bluest states in the country.

      Obama should name someone else Secretary of State. If Kerry wants the job, he should wait until 2015 when his term ends. That would give Democrats time to run a full primary and general campaign and select the strongest possible candidate.

      Filibuster reform now. No more Gentleman's agreements.

      by bear83 on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:13:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wouldn't go that far. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        itskevin, jncca, pistolSO

        These numbers will change a lot once the Democratic nominee gets known.  The early polling numbers for Elizabeth Warren were quite daunting as well:

        WNEU 3/10/12 - Brown 51, Warren 34
        PPP 6/5/12 - Brown 47, Warren 32

        She ended up winning by 8.  I honestly think we will win this race, though perhaps by less than 8 since it is a special election without presidential turnout.

        White Male, 36, New FL-14 (Castor), proud father of a 4-year-old daughter. "This is Wendy's guys! This is Wendy's!" - Mitt Romney, October 9, 2012.

        by spiderdem on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:28:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The differnce here is time (0+ / 0-)

          Warren had a year + to campaign. This would be a special election in 90-120 days. That makes a huge difference in organization, fundraising, and name recognition.

          Filibuster reform now. No more Gentleman's agreements.

          by bear83 on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 08:33:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No (0+ / 0-)

            these polls were taken 5 and 8 months before the election, so she only had that long after these polls.

            White Male, 36, New FL-14 (Castor), proud father of a 4-year-old daughter. "This is Wendy's guys! This is Wendy's!" - Mitt Romney, October 9, 2012.

            by spiderdem on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 01:47:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  This is nonsense (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I won't rehash all the arguments I've made in so many comments, but this handwringing by so many makes me bounce between annoyance and laughter.

        This reminds so much of when people were convinced Todd Akin would still win, because there were public polls right after his rhetorical scandal showing a dead heat.

        44, male, Indian-American, married and proud father of a girl and 2 boys, Democrat, VA-10

        by DCCyclone on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:34:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Special Elections are not the same as (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          General Elections. With the special election in just 90-120 days, Brown's head start in campaign organization, fundraising, name recognition, and positive approval numbers would be very difficult to overcome.

          Why put the seat in jeapoardy like this? There are plenty of other SoS candidates Obama could consider.

          Filibuster reform now. No more Gentleman's agreements.

          by bear83 on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 08:36:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  He doesn't have all those things (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            He doesn't have a campaign organization or any fundraising.  He just lost, his campaign disbanded.  I haven't looked at his cash-on-hand post-elex but normally in a tight race you leave nothing in the bank past election day except a little bit to pay off unpaid pre-election expenses.

            So he'd be starting over just like any Democrat.

            And he's going to have a harder time raising money in a special.  He's not the incumbent anymore, he looks to donors a lot less likely to come back and win than he did to hold on as an incumbent, and he's not running against someone conspicuously hostile to Wall Street robber barons like Warren which was a big motivator for Brown's donors this past cycle.  Also, there's no critical threshhold earned by his election if he were to win...GOP would still trail 54-46, compared to his first special win when he kept Democrats below 60 by knocking off Coakley.  And of course it's a short timeframe, and Democrats will be able to keep up.

            Name recognition will even out, no advantage heading into the election.

            And Brown's approvals don't matter, or else he would've won last month.  A Democratic nominee will earn high favorables as name rec rises, as long as someone ridiculous doesn't slip through the primary.

            Brown just lost by high single-digits to a novice candidate.  That doesn't bode well for his future.

            There's a lot of speculation he'll forego the special to instead run for the open Governorship.  This Senate seat would be up for another general election in 2014, so once again Brown, even if he wins the special, would be sweating from day one another dubious prospect for holding the seat.

            44, male, Indian-American, married and proud father of a girl and 2 boys, Democrat, VA-10

            by DCCyclone on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 07:34:14 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  they feel bad (0+ / 0-)

        They feel bad they fired Scotty because they liked him but were afraid the democrats would lose the senate. Still this is mostly name recognition. Half the voters have no idea who most of these opponents are.
        To be honest Obama wants Kerry to be SOS and Kerry  wants to be SOS. If the democrats can't hold this seat it's their own fault.
        Still they should just change the law, let the governor appoint someone until 2014 and save the price of a  special election.

      •  I don't know about giving it away (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MetroGnome, James Allen, askew, bear83, jncca

        but it is foolish to place a senate seat in jeopardy unnecessarily.

        Let all the Bush tax cuts expire

        by Paleo on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 06:39:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Amash (0+ / 0-)

    Please let Amash win the primary. I'd love to get this clown out of my district. The best thing I can say about him is that he doesn't do any damage directly, as everything he proposes is too insane for even the GOP.

  •  I don't agree with Sen. Levin all the time (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OGGoldy, Neon Vincent

    but I am proud to be a constituent of his and Sandy, his brother.

    A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward. FDR radio address, Oct. 26, 1939

    by Little Bozo on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 07:09:12 AM PST

  •  Michigan sura has an old delegation (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Neon Vincent

    Let's see, Levin would be 84 at the end of his next term, if he stays on, his brother, Sander Levin, is 81 and has been in office 30 years, and John Conyers is 83 and came into office in 1965, and John Dingell is 86 and came into office in 1955, during Eisenhower's first term of office.  Either these guys die in office, and then special elections are held, or, in Carl Levin's case, he dies in office and the succession laws of Michigan kick in, which could mean a Republican governor choosing his successor, without any restrictions on the party of the new nominee, (again, this depends on Michigan's laws).  

    I have to wonder how effective someone in their mid 80's is.  Of course, its up to Michigan's voters, but, seriously, why not let the new generation come in.  

    In New Jersey, Frank Lautenberg is probably running for reelection, (he would probably retire on his own, if allowed to, but, if forced into a primary, will probably stay in just to win the fight.), but, he could probably beat Newark Mayor Cory Booker in a primary because Booker has poor relationships with the various unions, and Newark still has so much wrong with it.  

  •  NJ: Booker not running for governor (0+ / 0-)

    Will complete his term as mayor and look at a senate run in '14.

    Let all the Bush tax cuts expire

    by Paleo on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 09:09:22 AM PST

  •  MI-Sen/Gov (0+ / 0-)

    If Senator Levin decides to retire, how about either former Governor Jennifer Granholm or Michael Moore?  Or, better yet, Michael Moore for Governor and former Governor Granholm for the United States Senate?

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