• SD-Sen: As conservatives cast about for an alternative to ex-Gov. Mike Rounds in South Dakota's now-open Senate race, here's a new name. One-time Lt. Gov. Steve Kirby, who declined a bid in 2008, isn't ruling out a run this time. Kirby actually lost the Republican gubernatorial primary to Rounds in 2002, coming in a weak third in a three-way field where Rounds started off as the underdog, so this would be a rematch of sorts if he were to go ahead with it.
But perhaps more memorably, Kirby came under renewed fire when he contemplated seeking Tim Johnson's Senate seat five years ago for a truly ugly episode in his past. Kirby, then running a venture capital fund, claimed there were no good investment opportunities in South Dakota, so he poured money into a ghoulish Massachusetts biotech company called Collagenesis. The firm bought up skin from cadavers around the country for the purposes of cosmetic surgical procedures like penis enlargements, making it impossible for hospitals to obtain badly needed tissue for burn victims. The sordid saga even came up in an attack ad in the 2002 primary, and undoubtedly it would again, if Kirby were to run.
• MA-Sen: It's a bad question to even get asked: Rep. Stephen Lynch, the hindrunner in the special Democratic primary for Senate, says he won't run for Boston mayor, now that the current occupant of that post, Tom Menino, is retiring. Such a move might have offered Lynch an exit strategy from a race he seems on track to lose—or to put things another way, no one would ever put this question to his opponent, Ed Markey. (Of course, as Marcus Graly points out, Markey lives in Malden, a town just to the north of Boston. But the point still stands that Markey isn't looking for an escape hatch, nor would anyone imagine he is.)
• AK-AL: Oh man. GOP Rep. Don Young, in a radio interview on Thursday:
"My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes," he said. "It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It's all done by machine."Oy vey. Young hastily issued a statement that various press outlets are for some reason characterizing as an "apology," even though he didn't use the word "sorry" and actually said "I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays." If he knows that, then why did he use it? Logic fail.
What's most notable to me, though, is that Republican bigwigs are piling on to Young, including John Boehner, John Cornyn, and Reince Priebus. I suspect there's something more at work than mere damage control from a party that knows how badly it's alienating Hispanics. Young is a cantankerous pain in the ass for the likes of Boehner, sometimes breaking party lines (and perhaps ethical rules) to pursue his Alaska First agenda. With a brand-new ethics inquiry launched just the other week, I think House leadership would be plenty happy if the 79-year-old Don Young weren't around to bother them anymore.
P.S. I guess Young must really be feeling the heat, because he re-apologized, and this time actually used the word "apologize."
• CO-03: There's one new potential 2014 name in Abby Livingston's "Farm Team" update for Colorado: state Sen. Angela Giron, who could run for Democrats against Rep. Scott Tipton. That makes her the third possible candidate here, in addition to those we took note of just the other day, state Sen. Gail Schwartz and Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia.
• IA-04: Democrat Christie Vilsack already said no to a Senate bid, with a spokesperson explaining that she was "looking into another exciting opportunity." And that opportunity has turned out to be a senior post with the United States Agency for International Development (aka "USAID"), in Washington, DC. So that also pretty much rules out a second run for Iowa's 4th Congressional District, where she lost to GOP Rep. Steve King last year.
• MA-05: Here's a good get for state Rep. Carl Sciortino in what will almost assuredly be a packed Democratic primary to replace Rep. Ed Markey (assuming he ascends to the Senate later this year). The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund just endorsed Sciortino, who is openly gay.
• NC-07: Unsurprisingly, former state Sen. David Rouzer is now saying he'll seek a rematch against Dem Rep. Mike McIntyre, who beat him last year by just 654 votes, making it the closest race in the nation. Rouzer apparently promises a formal announcement this week, but he's already behind schedule. When he first started mooting a second bid back in January, he said he'd start campaigning in February if he went ahead with it.
• ND-AL: Hoo boy. Here's one Republican doing his best to insult Native people and women all at once:
Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., told a gathering of victim-assistance professionals from the state's American Indian reservations in Bismarck on Tuesday that he would not feel "safe" on reservations because of new provisions in the Violence Against Women Act, according to one official who was present.Republicans have had a very hard time accommodating themselves to the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, with most bitterly opposed because it dared to expand protections for transsexual women and Native women living on reservations. Texas Rep. Steve Stockman, for instance, called the bill "horrible" because "they have men dressed up as women." Cramer, meanwhile, waltzed into the other briar patch.
If you aren't familiar with the situation, some background on the legislation is in order. Native women who were victims of domestic violence at the hands of non-Native men on tribal lands often had no recourse: Tribal authorities couldn't prosecute the offenders, and local police had no jurisdiction on reservation turf, as this painful story illustrates. So the new version VAWA sought to remedy that, by bringing all alleged perpetrators of violence against Native women on reservations under the authority of tribal courts.
Cramer actually voted for the full version of VAWA (unlike a majority of his colleagues), so his alleged comments are particularly strange. For what it's worth, Cramer claims that the official's report "is not an accurate account" of what he said, "but I don't want to diminish how she feels about it." Hrm, especially since Cramer says he wants to apologize in person, "for the misunderstanding and the tone of his remarks," in the Grand Forks Herald's words.
• SC-01: Is Curtis Bostic surging at the last possible moment? He and Mark Sanford, his Republican runoff opponent, met on Thursday night in their first debate, and surprisingly, Sanford went on the attack. (So did Bostic, over Sanford's infamous misdeeds while governor, but you expect the underdog to do that.) Sanford went after Bostic for voting in favor of spending increases while serving on the Charleston County Council, and also criticized his attendance record.
The fact that Stanford wasn't content to play nice just days before Tuesday's election is noteworthy in and of itself, but here's an added twist: Sanford may have seriously stepped in it. Bostic says his absences from the council "were related to his wife's battle with cancer." Ouch. (Reminds me of the time Susan Collins made a similar screwup when Tom Allen missed votes to attend a family funeral.) Bostic's campaign doesn't seem to be harping on this unforced error (though one of his sons sounded off on Twitter), so perhaps it won't be the fumble it looks like it ought to be for Sanford. Bostic has repeatedly pledged to run a positive campaign, but if I were him, I'd be hitting this one hard.
• Mayors: Daily Kos Elections community member Darth Jeff has done us all a great service by compiling an extensive guide to the most important mayoral elections taking place in 2013, with rundowns on the 21 cities with populations greater than 300,000 that are holding races this year. Jeff includes summaries of every interesting contest and provides a handy chart with election dates and procedures for every 'burg on the list. With the Virginia governor's race likely to be the only notable statewide affair in this odd-numbered year, these mayoral battles are where we'll see the most electoral action ahead of the 2014 midterms.
• Census: Say goodbye to paper Census forms? In an effort to save money in 2020, and just generally get with the times, the Census Bureau is planning to conduct a mostly-Internet Census next time. The 2010 Census cost $96 per household, but the Bureau has been having success with allowing American Community Survey respondents to opt in via Internet, and they'd like to extend that to the next full count. Much of the expense in the Census comes with in-person follow-ups with non-respondents, though, which is a problem that technology by itself can't solve. (David Jarman)
• Demographics: You've probably seen polls before that address the issue of which states have the highest and lowest levels of religious adherence ... but how about one that zooms in on metropolitan areas? Gallup is out with a new offering that measures just that, though it doesn't go any further than asking whether people identify as "very religious." It's little surprise which metro area is tops for religiosity: Provo-Orem, Utah, location of Brigham Young University, which is owned and operated by the Mormon church. Of the rest of the top 10, all but one are either in Utah or in Deep South states; the lone holdout is Holland-Grand Haven, Michigan, that dark-red, mostly Dutch-American corner of southwestern Michigan that's dominated by the Dutch Reformed Church.
As for the 10 least religious metro areas, they're mostly in the Northeast or on the West Coast, with several college towns in there as well (of the much more stereotypical variety, unlike Provo). The top is a tie between Burlington, Vermont, and Boulder, Colorado. The only surprise on the list is Albany, New York, which has more of a blue-collar vibe than the other places on the list, but perhaps there are enough students there to affect its standing. (David Jarman)