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Leading Off:

PA-Gov, PA-13: Well, here we go! Rep. Allyson Schwartz officially launched her heavily anticipated campaign for governor on Monday. That makes her the third Democrat to enter the race, but she's by far the strongest candidate to take on Gov. Tom Corbett. Polls have shown her with sizable leads over the deeply unpopular Corbett, and what's more, she can immediately transfer the $3.1 million in her federal fundraising account to her gubernatorial campaign, giving her an immediate boost.

There are still other names who might get into the primary, though, such as Treasurer Rob McCord and ex-Rep. Joe Sestak, so Democrats could still wind up with a hotly contested nomination battle. But Schwartz is well-situated for that fight as well. She's built up a powerful network of connections as she's risen through the ranks in the House, and she'll also almost certainly earn the formal endorsement of EMILY's List. Schwartz can't take things for granted, of course, and bad blood between her and McCord could lead to some unwanted ugliness, but right now, she's the frontrunner.

Schwartz's move also opens the floodgates for her House seat in northern Philadelphia and its suburban outreaches. PA-13 is a solidly blue district, so interest is running high among up-and-comer Democrats. (According to a staffer, Schwartz is pledging to remain neutral in the race to succeed her.) Indeed, state Rep. Brendan Boyle also kicked off his campaign on Monday, and it sounds like he hopes to ride union support to victory. But it's going to be a very crowded field indeed. State Sen. Daylin Leach is already up and running, and two other candidates have filed FEC paperwork. More are sure to join.


KY-Sen: Vague reports that Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes would create a campaign committee in the wake of Ashley Judd's decision not to run for Senate a few weeks ago haven't panned out, but Grimes at least is still not ruling out a bid. In recent remarks to a gathering of Democrats outside Louisville, she said "I don't know what the next step is for me," but told the crowd "you all give me the courage to continue on in that journey." So it doesn't sound like she's particularly eager, but she seems to be giving the idea more thought.

If she were to take the plunge, one advantage Grimes has is that she wouldn't have to give up her current job in order to challenge Sen. Mitch McConnell, since she's not up for re-election until 2015. So if she were to lose, she'd still be able to stay in office and continue her political career. (And a narrow loss in which she acquitted herself well could actually provide a boost.) State Attorney General Jack Conway managed something similar, losing Kentucky's open seat Senate contest to Rand Paul in 2010 but coming back to win a second term as AG the following year, so there's recent precedent for this.

NH-Sen: Ah, I love this. Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, trying to fluff his Granite State credentials as he considers an improbably comeback bid one state to the north, made sure to remind the press that he "was born at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard." Portsmouth is, of course, a well-known town in New Hampshire, but David Jarman noticed a hilarious problem with this claim: The shipyard is on the other side of the Piscataqua River, in Maine. That led Brian Valco to dub him "Bangor Brown," but Jed Lewison thinks "Boston Brown" is the better fit, because when the union was founded, what is now the state of Maine was actually part of Massachusetts. So put on your birther tricornes and go vote for your favorite nickname!

ND-Sen, IN-Sen: Just tying up a loose end here, since you probably already saw last Friday that two more Democratic senators came out in favor of same-sex marriage: Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana. Both Heitkamp and Donnelly are freshmen in very conservative states who were each lucky (for different reasons) to win their respective races last year.

On one level, it was easy to imagine that these two might be among the very last holdouts on the issue for political reasons. But on the other hand, given the mass movement in favor of marriage equality among their Senate colleagues in recent weeks, plus the fact that neither has to go before voters for another six years, their decisions are perhaps not as surprising as they once might have seen.

The pair was followed on Monday by South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson, who is retiring at the end of this term; he also added his name to the pro-marriage equality list. So that leaves just three Democrats in the Senate—Mary Landrieu, Mark Pryor, and Joe Manchin—who have not yet said they support same-sex marriage, which is a pretty remarkable turnaround from where things stood less than one year ago.

SD-Sen: According to a new report in the Argus Leader, supporters of U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson seem to be doing a much better job giving the appearance of enthusiasm for a potential Johnson Senate candidacy, while ex-Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin's backers (to the extent she has any) have been far quieter in this "shadow" Democratic primary. However, Johnson declined to comment on the ongoing efforts to draft him into the race to succeed his father, retiring Sen. Tim Johnson, due to his current job as the South Dakota's top federal prosecutor. (The Hatch Act forbids civil servants from engaging in partisan political activity.)

Meanwhile, it looks like ex-Gov. Mike Rounds, the establishment GOP pick who has been in the race since November, is already choosing to tempt fate. Conservatives have been busy casting about for a true believer alternative to Rounds, and now he's given them new ammunition by refusing to sign any anti-tax pledges put forth by the Senate Conservatives Fund, the group formerly headed by ex-Sen. Jim DeMint. Perhaps Rounds thinks no one will actually challenge him from the right, or perhaps he's just willing to live dangerously. This is nothing new for Rounds, though, since he's never taken Grover Norquist's infamous "no new taxes" oath, either.


IL-Gov: While she hasn't even announced she's running for governor yet, state AG Lisa Madigan has managed to outraise incumbent Pat Quinn in the first three months of the year. Madigan took in over $770,000 while Quinn pulled in just $551,000. (These figures only cover donations of $1,000 or more.) She also has far more cash-on-hand, $3.6 million to just $1 million for Quinn. A third Democrat, former White House chief of staff Bill Daley, has also been contemplating a bid but he hasn't created a fundraising committee yet.

ME-Gov: Her name's certainly been mentioned a lot, but I'm not sure we'd actually heard from the horse's mouth before, so here's Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree on the record. Pingree admits that a gubernatorial run against GOP Gov. Paul LePage is "tempting," but is characterized as feeling that it's "it's too early to decide." Pingree adds that she's spoken to fellow Rep. Mike Michaud and says, "Neither of us wants a primary."

However, both members of Congress are moving up in the lower chamber, something that seems to be holding them back from making a bid for governor. Of course, there's also the issue of independent Eliot Cutler, who could very well siphon off enough left-leaning votes to hand LePage another weak plurality win.


FL-18, -26: Strong first fundraising quarters for two vulnerable freshman Democrats in Florida: Patrick Murphy and Joe Garcia each raised $550,000 for their re-election campaigns. And in NY-18, another first-term Dem, Sean Maloney, also pulled in an impressive $500,000.

IA-04: Defeating GOP Rep. Steve King will always be an incredibly difficult challenge just thanks to the demographics of his rural, northwestern Iowa district, but his incendiary mouth always gives Democrats hope. Iraq vet Jim Mowrer looks set to become the latest to give it a try. According to Roll Call, he is "all but certain to run" against King, according to an unnamed source. Mowrer is currently a special assistant to the Under Secretary of the Army and has also served as an advisor to the progressive veterans group VoteVets.

ME-02: Navy vet Blaine Richardson says he's going to run for Maine's 2nd Congressional District a second time. Richardson lost the GOP primary to state Sen. Kevin Raye last year, who in turn lost to Dem Rep. Mike Michaud, but he performed much better than expected given his Some Dude status, falling short by a 60-40 margin.

Other Races:

NYC Mayor: A liberal group called NYC Is Not for Sale 2013 has sprung up to run the first TV ads of this year's mayoral race. Their spot attacks City Council Speaker Christine Quinn as an phony progressive out to help "her friends in the one percent," motivated only by "political ambition" as she seeks a promotion to Gracie Mansion. Quinn's campaign, of course, lashed back, calling the organization a pawn of rival Bill de Blasio, but the union-backed group seems to be a bit amorphous, with one supporter calling their mission "A.B.Q.—anybody but Quinn."

In any event, NYC Is Not for Sale is forking out $250,000 for their initial ad run, which doesn't sound like a lot in the expensive Big Apple media market. But with candidates limited to spending $6.7 million apiece in the primary in order to qualify for public matching funds, they could have a legitimate impact if they follow through on their promise to up their outlay to $1 million.

Grab Bag:

Demographics: If you read one academic poli sci paper today, it should probably be this one (PDF). Economics graduate student Seth Stephens-Davidowitz proposes that racial animus may have shaved up to 4 percent off Barack Obama's popular vote percentage in both 2008 and 2012. He finds a fairly strong relationship at the media market-level, between fall-off in Dem performance from previous presidential elections and the area's level of racial animus (as measured by Google searches containing racially-charged language), without seeing that fall-off in other elections, such as at the House level. (Stephens-Davidowitz discussed his use of this Google-based methodology in a New York Times piece last year.)

The most interesting part may be if you scroll down to near the study's end, where there's a list of states, ranked according to racial animus. Some of the top states are Appalachian-area states where, indeed, Obama took the biggest nosedive: West Virginia, Kentucky, and, maybe most noteworthy, Pennsylvania, where he won without much trouble but also, of all the '08/'12 swing states, was the one with the weakest Democratic trend. But the others are Deep South states, like Louisiana and Mississippi, that are among the most "inelastic" states (to use Nate Silver's coinage) because of heavy racial polarization, states where Obama actually trended upward in 2012 because of strong black turnout. (David Jarman)

Maps: Occasionally you run across a map that's actually worth a thousand words, and this is one of them:

Map of ratio of services to goods across 210 metropolitan areas in the United States
(click for larger)
It's a depiction (courtesy of urban studies prof Richard Florida, writing at Atlantic Cities) of the nation's metropolitan areas, weighted according to each metro area's ratio of production of services to production of goods. In other words, the bluer a metro area is, the more post-industrial it is, meaning it's more oriented toward a creative-class or service-sector economy. The more yellow it is, the more it's oriented toward old-school manufacturing.

Notice any correlations to political behavior? The knowledge-sector blue is concentrated in much the same places as the political blue: the Northeast, California, Florida, and the major cities of the midwest. The goods-oriented yellow is in the red states: Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, Indiana, and rural parts of North Carolina. It may be natural to think that manufacturing and extraction = unions = Democrats, but this map really stands that equation on its head. (David Jarman)

Pres-by-CD: We've finally gotten results from Nassau County, NY, which means we can finally calculate presidential election results from the last four outstanding congressional districts, NY-02 through NY-05. Obama's performance on Long Island matched, more or less, the pattern observed elsewhere. NY-02, NY-04, and NY-05 all recorded slight swings towards Obama and are now 51.6 percent, 56.3 percent, and 90.6 percent Obama, respectively. Not coincidentally, they contain minority-heavy areas in which Obama generally performed better in 2012 than in 2008. NY-02 Rep. Peter King becomes the last member of the Republicans-in-Obama-districts club, but Democrats haven't yet figured out how to effectively challenge him.

By contrast, NY-01 (for which we'd already had results) and NY-03 recorded rather sharp declines in Obama's performance. NY-03 Rep. Steve Israel's district is now actually only 50.8 percent Obama. Israel's personal strength prevents the district from being competitive in the short-term (and his ascent into leadership will likely keep him in the seat for years to come), but certainly, this is something to be aware of moving forward.

And as always, you can find a permanent link to our presidential results for all 435 congressional districts here. You'll definitely want to keep it bookmarked. (jeffmd)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Apr 09, 2013 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by DKos Pennsylvania and Daily Kos.

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