9:36 AM PT: SC-Gov: Ever since narrowly losing the 2010 gubernatorial race to Nikki Haley, Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen has made it pretty clear that he'd like to seek a rematch. On Wednesday, he officially announced he'd do just that. Haley only beat Sheheen by 4 percent in their first face-off, which was a pretty unimpressive score given how red South Carolina is and how brutal the GOP wave was that year. Now she'll have the advantages of incumbency (and the disadvantages, too), though Sheheen almost certainly won't have to face that implacable red tide once again, so this represents a very legitimate pickup opportunity for Democrats.
10:53 AM PT: NYC Mayor: Oy vey. So ex-Rep. Anthony "Can't say with certitude" Weiner is actually, really, truly exploring a bid for mayor. Weiner ran for mayor once before back in 2005 and acquitted himself pretty well despite losing the Democratic primary, but obviously, a few things have transpired in his life since then that make a comeback rather, uh, challenging. As for how an actual Weiner entry would play, Colin Campbell thinks it would hurt Public Advocate Bill de Blasio the most, since he and Weiner would likely be making a play for the same sort of progressives while cultivating their "sorta ethnic outer-borough white guy" images, an assessment I think makes sense.
If he does get in, it'll be interesting to see where Weiner starts off in the polling, because he hasn't been included in public surveys yet, including Quinnipiac's new poll. But this new data is notable nevertheless because, for the first time, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has seen her standing in the primary drop. Over the past year, Quinn clawed her way up from 26 percent at the start to 37 percent in February, but now she's moved down to 32. Still, there's been almost no movement among her rivals, with de Blasio remaining a distant second at 14, followed closely by 2009 nominee Bill Thompson at 13 and City Comptroller John Liu at 7.
Weiner would certainly shake things up, but if anything, he might only help Quinn by sucking away oxygen from the trio of men who've long been trying to surpass her. And I'm skeptical that Weiner could really blow past Quinn himself. Last October, Marist found that 58 percent of city voters did not want Weiner to run for mayor while only a quarter did. And while it's been a few years, a national PPP poll taken shortly before Weiner resigned from Congress in 2011 gave him an exceptional 70 disapproval rating. Sure, it's an old poll and it covers the "wrong" jurisdiction, but has anyone ever staged a successful second act after racking up numbers that abysmal? I'm going to guess no.
11:34 AM PT: CA-31, -35: So ex-Rep. Joe Baca may have decided to follow the advice of my Daily Kos Elections colleague David Jarman after all... though what was a good idea last fall is now liable to cause a serious mess. After unexpectedly getting turfed out by fellow Democrat Gloria Negrete McLeod in the redrawn 35th Congressional District, Jarman observed that Baca should have chosen to seek re-election one district to the north, in the 31st. That would have allowed Baca to play the good soldier (an unfamiliar role, to be sure), pitting him against GOP Rep. Gary Miller, who only wound up winning the seat in a fluke.
Instead, Baca opted for a grudge match against Negrete McLeod—a pointless waste of resources, to be sure, but one that at least meant Democratic recruitment could proceed without interference in the 31st, though even that hit an early hitch. Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar, who failed to make it out of last year's top-two primary but nevertheless remains the establishment choice, did indeed sign up for a second turn at bat just last week, though a second Democrat, attorney Eloise Reyes, also sounded eager to join the field.
Ordinarily, that shouldn't be a problem, but the more Democrats that pile in, the greater the chance of a repeat of 2012, where Miller and another Republican, Bob Dutton, wound up facing off in November thanks to a badly fractured Dem field in the primary. (Under California's perverse new system, the top two vote-getters in June advance to November, regardless of party.) Right now, Miller's the only Republican likely to run, but all it takes is a lineup of, say, two GOPers and three Dems and we could be right back where we were last year.
And now here's Baca to complicate things further. According to a new report, Baca's been saying that he might indeed run in the 31st after all, though he isn't commenting publicly. If Aguilar, Reyes, and Baca all run, Republicans would be crazy not to put forth a single sacrificial lamb in the hopes that if the left-leaning vote in this left-leaning district splits asunder once again, they could wind up with another R-vs.-R matchup in November of 2014. The thought is so painful, I don't even want to contemplate it, yet here we are. Sigh.
11:42 AM PT: NC-Sen: GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers confirmed late last month that she's considering a challenge to Sen. Kay Hagan. Now, for whatever it's worth, a campaign spokesperson says that Ellmers "expects to have a decision in June."
12:39 PM PT: SC-01: This is interesting. Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, running in some very red turf in the SC-01 special election, is predictably positioning herself to the right of President Obama's new budget proposal... for the most part. (She complains it doesn't cut enough spending and that it raises taxes.) The interesting aspect is that on Social Security, she's going after the president from the left, complaining that he "would cut benefits for our seniors, which is wrong." This is a reference to Obama's plan to change how inflation is measured for the purposes of regular benefit increases, a terrible idea known as "chained CPI" which would indeed mean a direct cut in benefits for seniors.
Colbert Busch is wise to oppose such cuts, but it also shows that supporting chained CPI is incredibly stupid for just about every Democrat in America. If it's viewed as bad policy in a district as conservative as South Carolina's 1st, then there's virtually no place where it will be embraced. Put another way: Any Democrat who supports cutting Social Security benefits puts themselves at risk of getting challenged in a primary. Social Security has been a rock-solid pillar of the Democratic platform for eighty years. Any Democrat who fails to understand and respect that deserves to lose to a Democrat who does.
1:35 PM PT: OH-Gov: In a humiliating defeat for Gov. John Kasich, his fellow Republicans in the legislature dismantled his proposed budget and substituted their own ideas, "shelving his plan to expand Medicaid, stripping out two-thirds of his tax overhaul, and changing how he wanted to fund schools." Ouch. The House GOP plan includes all kinds of radical and reckless measures, like relying on a one-time surplus to fund a permanent income tax cut, as well as a provision that would de-fund Planned Parenthood (a stunt that failed last year). It's not clear what will happen when the Senate takes up the budget, but for now, Kasich's own party has dealt him an ugly blow and made him look weak.
1:46 PM PT: IL-02: A big congratulations to Democrat Robin Kelly, who prevailed by a predictably wide margin in Tuesday night's special election to fill ex-Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s House seat on the South Side of Chicago and its southern suburbs. Kelly defeated Republican Paul McKinley 71-22 in this dark blue district, but her bigger victory came in February's primary, where, despite starting off the race in third place, she made gun violence a central issue and rode a wave of anti-NRA sentiment to the Democratic nomination. Kelly has remained an outspoken advocate of gun safety regulations, a message she's pledged to carry with her to Washington, DC. She'll be sworn in on Thursday, taking the Democratic caucus up to 201 members.
3:28 PM PT: VA-St. House: Though they're down in the weeds, there are two interesting—and very different—legislative primaries brewing in two different states that are worth discussing. The first is in the Virginia state House, where members of the Democratic establishment are rallying around first-time candidate Evandra Thompson in her bid to unseat Delegate Rosalyn Dance in the primary. That's a pretty remarkable development, since insiders rarely turn on incumbents, but if you recall the reason why Dance's name might be ringing a bell, then it's a little less surprising.
That's because Dance was one of two African American Democrats in the legislature who, back in January, expressed a willingness to vote for a Republican scheme to re-redistrict the state Senate. The plan was a naked power grab by the GOP, and was set in motion only because Democratic state Sen. Henry Marsh, a veteran civil rights leader, had briefly left town to attend Barack Obama's second inauguration. The move earned Republicans intense criticism, and they eventually scuttled their own shenanigans, but Dance (and fellow Delegate Onzlee Ware) tried to offer the enemy political cover they were desperate to have.
Now it's payback time. Del. Joseph Morrissey, former Petersburg Mayor Annie Mickens, and former Hopewell Mayor Brenda Pelham all gave their endorsements to Thompson earlier this week, and Morrissey was particularly harsh on Dance. In an interview, he said, "For eight years, Rosalyn has masqueraded as a Democrat who then turned around and voted Republican. But now, people are beginning to see the true Roz." Both Mickens and Pelham also called Thompson the only "true Democrat" in the race. The primary is coming up soon, on June 11, and this would indeed be a great opportunity to replace a wayward Dem with a reliable one.
8:08 PM PT: WI-St. Sen: The other legislative primary I have in mind is in Wisconsin, and it, too, involves an incumbent who has displayed insufficient party loyalty, albeit on the other side. You may remember state Sen. Dale Schultz as the one Republican who refused to go along with Scott Walker's notorious anti-union "budget repair bill" back in 2011. That decision spared him from facing a recall election, but now that, along with his general willingness to work with Democrats and occasionally oppose Walker, has earned him a challenge from the right in the form of state Rep. Howard Marklein.
Schultz hasn't decided whether he'll seek re-election yet, but due to his personal popularity, he'd be a strong favorite in any general election. However, if he retires or is defeated by Marklein, a Democrat could definitely pick up this seat, since it's currently the reddest Senate district in Wisconsin held by a Republican. This is one we'll want to watch closely.
8:18 PM PT: 1Q Fundraising:
• NC-Sen: Sen. Kay Hagan (D): $1.6 mil raised, $2.7 mil cash-on-hand
• IL-13: Rep. Rodney Davis (R): $401K raised, $334K cash-on-hand
• PA-13: Valerie Arkoosh (D): $218K raised (in two weeks)