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Leading Off:

CA-17: This is pretty awesome. After rolling out endless endorsements from powerful elected officials throughout California and even nationally, here's Rep. Mike Honda's capper: an article in the newspaper India Abroad headlined "Five desi stalwarts pitch for Honda." If you aren't familiar with the word "desi," it's just a general term for people from the Indian subcontinent, often used by members of the Indian diaspora to describe themselves. So who are the desis in question? None other than five Indian-Americans who have run for Congress all over the country in recent years: Raj Goyle (KS-04 in 2010), Upendra Chivukula (NJ-07 '12), Ashwin Madia (MN-03 '08), Ravi Sangisetty (LA-03 '10), and Manan Trivedi (PA-06 '10 & '12).

In other words, these are pols whose backgrounds resemble that of Ro Khanna, the man challenging Honda. (Both are Democrats.) Indeed, Khanna's sent signals that he hopes to rely on the Indian-American community to propel his candidacy, and the group that just gave their backing to Honda definitely reflects the sort of people Khanna would like to have backing him. But this may be a case of politics (and ideology) winning out over ethnicity. Not only is Honda the more liberal of the two, but he's done a great deal during his many years of service to support the broader pan-Asian world. And in their letter jointly endorsing him, this quintet of former candidates praised him both for "fighting for our communities" and for individually helping their campaigns.

All this makes you wonder what Khanna's "base" looks like, to the extent he even has one. Silicon Valley tech types eager to have one of their own in Congress? I think wealthy nerds and venture capitalists will only take you so far, though, particularly when your opponent has the network that Honda does—and the ability to call in lots and lots of favors. (Hat-tip: reader SS)

1Q Fundraising:

IA-Sen: Rep. Bruce Braley (D): $1.1 mil raised, $1 mil cash-on-hand (in two months; also includes $179K transfer from House account)

MA-Sen (through April 10): Rep. Stephen Lynch (D): $1.5 mil raised, $514K cash-on-hand

NJ-Sen: Cory Booker (D): $1.9 mil raised, $1.6 mil cash-on-hand; Rep. Frank Pallone (D): $460K raised, $3.7 mil cash-on-hand

SC-Sen-A: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R): $1.2 mil raised, $5.4 mil cash-on-hand

SD-Sen: Mike Rounds (R): $184K raised, $369K cash-on-hand; Rep. Kristi Noem (R): $270K raised, $287K cash-on-hand


AK-Sen: Joe Miller hasn't made any secret of his interest in making a second bid for Senate, and now he's finally taken his first formal step toward running by saying he'll form an "exploratory committee." Legally speaking, there isn't any such thing as an "exploratory committee" from the FEC's perspective, but that never stops anyone from using the term. What it does do, though, is allow Miller to start raising money—and he'll need plenty. While Democrats would love to see him as the GOP's nominee, PPP's polling has shown him deeply unpopular even with fellow Republicans.

MA-Sen: The candidates in the Massachusetts Senate special election are suspending campaign activity in the wake of Monday's horrific tragedy in Boston. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire city.


GA-Gov: Oh, real nice. A spokesman for GOP Gov. Nathan Deal said his boss won't speak out in support of an effort to desegregate prom night at a high school in Wilcox County because it's a "silly publicity stunt" orchestrated by a "leftist front group." The organization, Better Georgia, pointed out that several Republicans, including state House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey, who just announced a run for Congress, are backing their campaign. Really appalling—and don't forget that Deal is up for re-election next year.

NY-Gov, -19: Unsurprisingly, just a week or so after his name was first floated as a possibility, GOP Rep. Chris Gibson says he won't run for governor against Andrew Cuomo. It would have been a suicide mission anyway, and what's more, Gibson has to focus on his own potentially difficult re-election campaign. He looks likely to face wealthy investor and activist Sean Eldridge next year.

PA-Gov: When you click this link to Democratic Rep. Allyson Schwartz's first quarter FEC fundraising report, it's the very first line that you'll want. That's the one that notes her $3,000,000 (yep, that's the right number of zeroes) transfer from her federal campaign account to her gubernatorial one. While you can't move state funds to a federal race, many jurisdictions allow you to do the reverse, Pennsylvania being one of them. So this expected move gives Schwartz a very big head start over her potential Democratic rivals.


CA-31: Just a few days after a report emerged last week that ex-Rep. Joe Baca would pull a switcheroo and stage a comeback in California's 31st District instead of the 35th, he's gone ahead and jumped right in. As we noted at the time, though, Baca's entry could seriously complicate matters for Democrats, who are desperate to avoid a repeat of last year's debacle in CA-31. (Click through for a backgrounder if you aren't familiar with what happened.) Just to give you a sense of the kind of guy Baca is, his website splash page refers to him as "congressman" and claims he's "running for re-election."

GA-10: Conservative talk radio host Jody Hice is making another bid for Congress. Hice announced on Monday that he's entering the GOP primary in Georgia's open 10th District, in the race to replace Rep. Paul Broun, who is running for Senate. Hice ran in GA-07 in 2010, losing the runoff to now-Rep. Rob Woodall, 56-44, for the seat left open by John Linder's retirement.

IA-03: We're back to square zero in Iowa's 3rd Congressional District, where Democrats have already run through two apparent recruits. Two weeks ago, former state Sen. Staci Appel was reportedly considering a run against GOP Rep. Tom Latham and was being talked up by the DCCC. That news broke—not coincidentally—the same day that the first Dem to enter the race, investor Mike Sherzan, decided to bow out.  But now Appel also won't make the race, citing unspecified "family obligations."

MA-05: David Bernstein makes a very good point about fundraising in the race to succeed Rep. Ed Markey that's actually applicable to many other races. Federal law allows candidates to raise $2,600 per donor per race, which means you can actually take $5,200 from an individual because they can give for both the primary and the general elections. But the important thing is that you can't spend money earmarked for the general on the primary, and oftentimes, the primary is the only contest that matters. That's almost certainly the case in MA-05, where whoever wins the Democratic nomination will also very likely earn a seat in Congress, just thanks to the district's blue tilt.

And in this particular case, the two candidates who both announced raising the most money in the first quarter of the year—state Sens. Will Brownsberger and Katherine Clark—took in a fair bit of "general only" money. Bernstein calculates that $39,000 of Clark's $261,000 and $50,000 of Brownsberger's $256,000 can't be used in the primary. That still puts them ahead of state Rep. Carl Sciortino ($155,000), but all of his funds are for the primary. Just something to be aware of any time you're dealing with a primary in a strongly Republican or Democratic district.

Other Races:

CA-AD-80: It's not terribly common to see polling conducted for congressional special elections, so coming across new data on a state legislative special election is a rare treat indeed. SurveyUSA, polling on behalf of KGTV in San Diego, finds a tight race in the Democrat vs. Democrat special election in the largely Latino 80th assembly district, which abuts the Mexican border in the state's southwestern corner.

Democrat Lorena Gonzalez, who earned the endorsement of the local congressman (Democrat Juan Vargas) and the previous assemblyman from the 80th (Democrat Ben Hueso, now in the state Senate), has a slight edge (35-32) over Steve Castaneda. Castaneda hails himself as a "fiscally conservative Democrat," leading some Gonzalez supporters to declare him a Republican in sheep's clothing. Unsurprisingly, Castaneda cleans house among Republicans, but still trails because Democrats far outnumber Republicans in a district that Team Blue carried with two-thirds of the vote in 2012. (Steve Singiser)

DC Council: There's a special election for the Washington, DC city council coming up in just a week that seems to have attracted a bit more attention than usual. Indeed, a consortium of groups devoted to liberalizing drug laws has even commissioned a poll from PPP, but the remarkable thing is that even with the race so close at hand, no one tops 20 percent in this all-party race:

Anita Bonds (D): 19
Patrick Mara (R): 13
Elissa Silverman (D): 13
Matthew Frumin (D): 8
Perry Redd (SG): 2
Paul Zukerberg (D): 2
Undecided: 43

"SG," by the way, stands for "Statehood Green," a uniquely DC party. So who's who? Bonds is the chair of the DC Democratic Party and is the machine-y Marion Barry-type candidate (she and Barry go way back, in fact—oy). Mara is a socially liberal Republican who resembles David Catania, an openly gay Republican councilor who became an independent in 2004 over Bush's push for the Federal Marriage Amendment, but is otherwise pretty conservative on fiscal issues. Silverman seems like the "new DC" candidate, sort of in the mold of former Mayor Adrian Fenty, and has been endorsed by the DFA. Frumin is probably competing for the same set of votes as Silverman, though it's worth noting that he once ran for Congress in Michigan over a decade ago.

There are a couple of caveats to note with this poll, though. It didn't include Michael Brown, a Democrat-turned-independent who has served on the council in the past; Brown dropped out recently, but his name will still appear on the ballot. Another concern is that, this being a robopoll, it didn't include any cell phone-only respondents. PPP did tremendous work last cycle in spite of that handicap, but DC, with its heavily minority and very young population, poses an even greater challenge than usual. But of course, with such a large number of undecideds, this contest is seriously up for grabs no matter who nominally holds the lead at the moment.

Grab Bag:

Passings: Our condolences to the family of former Ohio Rep. Charlie Wilson, who died on Sunday, following a stroke less than two months ago. Wilson served two terms in Congress before losing in the Republican wave of 2010. Somewhat infamously, he had to wage a write-in campaign in 2006 to earn the Democratic nomination in Ohio's then-open 6th Congressional District after failing to submit a sufficient number of valid signatures—despite only needing 50! Wilson attempted a comeback last year in the redrawn (and redder) 6th against the guy who had defeated him two years earlier, Bill Johnson, but lost 53-47. Wilson was 70 years old.

WATN?: After Republican Reps. Connie Mack and Mary Bono Mack both lost their respective races last year, you might have wondered whether they'd wind up in the former's home state of Florida or the latter's California... but the answer, it seems, is going to be Washington, DC. Connie Mack just accepted a lobbying job at the K Street firm Liberty Partners; a few weeks ago, his wife joined a different DC lobbying shop, FaegreBD Consulting.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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