• OR-Gov: This report on GOP recruiting woes in the Beaver State from veteran analyst Jeff Mapes is just brutal:
In past years, it was not unusual to find potential candidates for Oregon governor doing early spadework for their campaigns at the annual Dorchester Conference for Republican activists.That would have been a funny video... at a Democratic gathering! I'm pretty amazed that Republicans would even "joke" like that about themselves, though, because that's effing painful. And buried at the very end of the piece is about the thinnest possible reed of hope that a candidate might even emerge: Mapes mentions that state Rep. Bruce Hanna "provided lanyards with his name and website on them for the attendees." But is he even expressing direct interest in the race? That would be a no.
But with the next gubernatorial primary just over a year away, there was barely a hint at this year's gathering here that any Republican is even looking at running.
The lack of activity was so pronounced that the conference's Saturday night satirical show ran a video that began with an announcer intoning, "Now we go live to the 2014 Republican governor's debate." The camera then panned over a debate stage with two empty chairs, the monotony broken only by a broom-wielding janitor.
• IA-Sen: As Steve King awaits the moon's appearance in the Seventh House and Jupiter to align with Mars, other Iowa Republicans are sitting around and offering tentative statements about their own possible interest in the Senate race—but they are all, of course, deferring to the King. The latest is state GOP chair A. J. Spiker, who offered a very tentative "we'll see" when asked if he might run himself. Might be a while yet before peace guides the planets and love steers the stars.
• NE-Sen: The entire Nebraska political establishment is waiting on GOP Gov. Dave Heineman to decide whether he wants to run for the state's open Senate seat, but everyone will have to wait a bit longer: Heineman plans to take a "month or more," in the AP's words, to make a decision. Heineman has never sounded very interested in a bid, and this latest article only confirms that. He makes it plain that he prefers being a governor to a senator, and that he likes living in Nebraska more than he would in DC. If Heineman doesn't go for it, it would likely lead to a wide-open Republican primary and perhaps given Democrats a very longshot chance at the seat.
• SC-Sen-A: Huh. Okay. Bruce Carroll, the founder of GOProud, a gay Republican organization that has sometimes received abuse at the hands of its fellow party members, says he's resigning his post because he's considering a primary challenge to Sen. Lindsey Graham. I do have to wonder if South Carolina is would really be hospitable to a Carroll candidacy, though.
• MA-Gov: So you're a former Republican senator from a blue state who did a semi-decent job of convincing the world that you "aren't like" the rest of your party, and now you're maybe holding the door open to a possible run for governor. What do you do to burnish your credentials and maximize your chances? Well, first step, of course, is to sign on as an analyst at FOX News. After that, the next obvious move is to get hired as a lobbyist. So say hello to "business and governmental affairs" specialist Scott Brown, and never mind that ka-chinging sound.
• OH-Gov: On Monday, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald became the first Democrat to take real steps toward running for governor. He announced the creation of an exploratory committee (which will allow him to raise money) and also posted a welcome video on his new website. Meanwhile, another top contender, former state AG Richard Cordray, is scheduled to go before a Senate committee on Tuesday that's conducting a hearing on his nomination to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Cordray's nomination is bitterly opposed by Republicans, so if he fails to get confirmed, he may head home and run for governor instead.
• IA-01: There's been a crowd of reasonably big names eyeing Bruce Braley's open House seat, but here's a new one: state Sen. Steve Sodders says he's "taking a serious look" at entering the Democratic primary. State Rep. Pat Murphy is already in the race, but I would definitely expect others to join.
• WV-02: O rly? Roll Call's Abby Livingston reports that former Maryland state Republican Party chair Alex Mooney has moved to neighboring West Virginia ... and is thinking about a run for the state's open 2nd District. You may remember Mooney from his embarrassing abortive attempt last year to primary his former boss, ex-Rep. Roscoe Bartlett; Mooney was forced to abandon his plans after finally realizing that, you know, perhaps the head of the party shouldn't be trying to unseat one of its own members. When he announced his resignation from the MD GOP last month, Mooney held out the possibility that he might nevertheless try running for that same seat again (now held by Democrat John Delaney), but that's obviously not going to happen now.
• NYC Mayor: At long last, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn formally declared her candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the New York City mayoral race, which takes place this fall. As I've written before, it's been a weird race, with the major candidates all in "clearly running" mode despite a general refusal to actually kick off their campaigns in some sort of typical fashion.
Three years ago, 2009 nominee Bill Thompson told the New York Times in an interview that he planned to run again but has since eschewed a traditional launch event. Things finally began to move in January, when Public Advocate Bill de Blasio ushered in his campaign in the usual speech-and-rally style. But there's still one laggard, and to me, it's the guy who has by far the most work to do: Comptroller John Liu, who has been dogged for years by allegations of campaign finance irregularities. Liu's been appearing at forums and doing everything you'd expect of declared candidate, but he still hasn't said the magic words yet.
• Seattle Mayor: Former King County Executive (and former no. 2 at HUD) Ron Sims just announced that he won't be running for Seattle mayor, which pretty much clears up the last major question mark about who's in and who's out. While his decision isn't too surprising (his interest had seemed only half-hearted), the timing is a little surprising: Sims's move comes less than a week after a SurveyUSA poll showed him with a pretty clear path to victory if he wanted it. SUSA had Sims and incumbent Mike McGinn advancing out of the top-two primary, and presumably the anti-McGinn votes would have coalesce behind Sims in the general. (David Jarman)
• Special Elections: We have two batches of state legislative special elections this week: several on Tuesday, and one more on Saturday in New Hampshire. As always, Johnny Longtorso has the scoop:
California SD-32: This is the seat formerly held by Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod. There are six candidates running: Paul Avila, Joanne Gilbert, Norma Torres, and Larry Walker for the Democrats, and Kenny Coble and Paul Leon for the Republicans. Avila, Torres, and Coble all ran for AD-52 in 2012; Avila came in third in the open primary with 13% of the vote, Coble came in second with 38% and lost the general 2-1, and Torres was the incumbent and victor. Gilbert is a member of the Rialto school board, Leon is the mayor of Ontario, and Walker is the San Bernardino County Auditor-Controller/Treasurer/Tax Collector (his business cards must use a really small font). Assemblywoman Torres has been endorsed by the California Democratic Party. A runoff will be held May 14 if nobody wins a majority, which seems likely given the field.Grab Bag:
California SD-40: And this is the seat formerly held by Rep. Juan Vargas. Four filed here: Democrats Ben Huseo and Anna Nenevic, and Republicans Hector Gastelum and Xanthi Gionis. Huseo is an Assemblyman, Nenevic ran in CA-41 last year, getting third place in the open primary with 9% of the vote, Gastelum is a real estate agent, and Gionis ran in CA-51 last year, pulling in 7% and coming in fourth in the open primary. Like SD-32, a runoff will be held May 14 if no candidate gets a majority.
Mississippi HD-36: There's also yet another nonpartisan MS special for the open Dem seat HD-36, but I'm tired of trying to pin down political affiliations and biographies for these. Candidates: Roderick Van Daniel, Jimmy Davidson, Bobbie Davis, Karl Gibbs, Eddie Longstreet and Jeannie Johnson Staten.
New Hampshire HD-Hillsborough 9: An open Dem seat in Manchester's second ward, the candidates are Democrat Billy O'Neil and Republican Win Hutchinson. O'Neil is a local union president, while Hutchinson was elected to the seat in 2010 and lost it in 2012. The district went 54-45 for Obama last year. (Election on Saturday, March 16.)
• Polltopia: The NRCC isn't waiting until the much-hyped RNC "autopsy" of the GOP's 2012 fail to make some alterations of their own, starting with changes to their internal polling operations. That includes, for instance, a focus on better modeling techniques, such as "projecting district-by-district population changes and mapping best- and worst-case turnout scenarios." (At which point you ask, "Ummm, isn't that something they should have been doing all along?!?") Pollsters who work for the NRCC will be required, going forward, to make sure that at least 30 percent of their samples are cellphones, and that Spanish-language call centers are used in significantly Hispanic districts .(David Jarman)
• WATN?: Of course: Former Sen. Joe Lieberman's landing at the American Enterprise Institute, a pillar of the conservative movement and a frequent stop (or final resting place) for folks riding the wingnut welfare circuit. Even better, he's teaming up with fellow retired Sen. Jon Kyl, and it sounds like their project is basically to make the case for increased American military adventurism around the world. Just lovely.