9:13 AM PT: MN-02: Well, that was quick. Less than a month after resigning as CEO of CaringBridge in order to run for Congress, Democrat Sona Mehring is dropping her campaign to take on Rep. John Kline and will return to the nonprofit she founded in 1997. Democrats still have another candidate in the race, though, 2012 nominee Mike Obermueller.
9:29 AM PT: NH-Sen: Someone at the University of New Hampshire's Survey Center needs to explain why they sat on their latest poll (PDF) for two weeks. Why do I care? Because UNH was in the field from April 4 to April 9, before GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte cast her now-notorious vote against universal background checks for gun buyers, but they only released their findings after the vote took place, with the headline "Shaheen and Ayotte Remain Popular." Given the huge drop PPP saw for Ayotte's job approvals in the wake of her background check vote, UNH's new/old poll just muddies the waters. And it's a good illustration of why holding back data in this manner is emphatically not a best practice for a public pollster.
10:25 AM PT: LA Mayor: Could things have suddenly turned around so abruptly for City Controller Wendy Greuel? Two weeks ago, SurveyUSA saw her trailing City Councilor Eric Garcetti in the Los Angeles mayoral runoff by 9 points, and last week, the L.A. Times had her back 10. But now SUSA has new numbers showing an enormous 12-point turnaround, putting Greuel up 45-42. How is that possible? The only major change on the ground has been Greuel's decision to go negative, launching a TV ad attacking Garcetti as a self dealer. But news reports said Greuel was "only" spending $350,000 on the spot (with a comparable sum backing a positive ad), which isn't that much in the hyper-expensive L.A. media market.
So this poll could well be an outlier, though SUSA goes to great lengths in its writeup to argue against that possibility. In particular, the firm notes that their toplines on two other races they've asked about, controller and city attorney, have stayed stable, which augurs against what they call a "bad random sample" for the mayoral contest. If this survey is accurate, then this election has seen a truly remarkable reversal of fortune. But I'm going to wait until we see some fresh data from other pollsters before coming to that conclusion.
10:44 AM PT: FL-Gov: I've been skeptical of these "Bill Nelson for governor" rumors ever since they first started popping up a few weeks ago. After all, the guy is 70 years old and just endured a heavy-duty re-election campaign last year, so does he really want to run headlong into Rick Scott's $100 million attack ad vortex at this stage of his career? There's also the fact that a Nelson victory would make a very vulnerable Democratic Senate seat ripe for takeover... and the immediate ramifications may be even worse than you'd expect. In her latest Farm Team installment on Florida Dems, Roll Call's Abby Livingston explains:
If Nelson ran for and won the governor’s mansion in 2014, he would be charged as governor with appointing someone to serve two years as his Senate successor. But there’s some confusion about who would actually make the Senate appointment.Ugh. And even if a hypothetical Gov. Nelson were to name a replacement, that person would have to run in a special election in 2016 for the final two years of Nelson's term and then again in 2018, giving the GOP two bites at this particular apple. While I'll wait until we see some reliable polling on the matter, I don't actually think that Nelson would be a materially better candidate against Scott than ex-Gov. Charlie Crist; if that hunch is correct, then from a party perspective, it would make a lot more sense for Crist to run for governor and Nelson to stay put.
An aide with Florida’s Division of Elections said such a situation would leave a small window of time for Scott to appoint a Republican to the Senate. Democrats say Nelson would appoint his own successor.
11:01 AM PT: MA-Sen: The League of Conservation Voters is out with yet another poll of the Massachusetts Senate primary from PPP, but it's actually not in direct response to Rep. Stephen Lynch's sketchball claim on Wednesday that he's "only" back six points. That's because PPP went into the field the day before Lynch leaked his vague numbers, though the timing is convenient nevertheless, since this poll is good pushback. PPP has Rep. Ed Markey up 50-36 with under a week to go, little changed from their 49-32 finding in late March. Markey's favorables also remain considerably higher at 66-23, versus 50-32 for Lynch.
11:14 AM PT: Well whaddya know. A spokesman for Nelson just confirmed that the senator is "considering" a run for governor but that he "presently doesn’t have any intention of running." So stick that in your hookah and puff on it.
11:46 AM PT: KY-Sen: Environmental attorney Tom FitzGerald says he's considering a bid against Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell next year, and in the Courier-Journal's phrasing, "he expects to make a decision within the next few weeks." However, FitzGerald also says he's looking to see what Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes does, and she hasn't offered any timetable as yet.
12:06 PM PT: IL-Gov: Former White House chief of staff Bill Daley says he's decide on whether he'll enter Illinois's Democratic gubernatorial primary in the next 60 days. Polls, however, have shown him looking mostly like a third wheel in an expected matchup between state AG Lisa Madigan and incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn, so I'm not sure what sort of path to victory he's envisioning for himself.
12:55 PM PT: HI-01: One of the strangest things about Hawaii's open seat House race in the state's 2nd Congressional District last year was just how little interest it generated among Democratic candidates. After all, it's a safe blue seat that could either elect someone for life or serve as a great stepping-stone to higher office. In the end, only one heavyweight candidate emerged, but thanks to his flaws, former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann wound up on the receiving end of a shocking and convincing upset by Tulsi Gabbard, a young city councilor.
So will the same kind of situation unfold in the 1st District, which Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is expected to vacate to run for Senate? Or, given that the 1st is also solidly Democratic, will we see the high level of interest from ambitious office-seekers that typically accompanies such opportunities? It's too early to say, though the previous time the 2nd district was open back in 2006, the Democratic primary attracted half a dozen legislators and one former lieutenant governor (Mazie Hirono, the eventual winner). 2012 may have just been an oddball year.
In any event, Honolulu City Councilman Stanley Chang is the only declared candidate for now. However, HawaiiNewsNow reports that three other Democrats have also expressed interest: Honolulu City Councilman Ikaika Anderson, state Rep. Mark Takai, and State Sen. Will Espero. The same piece (citing no sources) says that Republican Charles Djou, who briefly held this seat after winning a fluke special election in 2010, is "expected" to run but adds that ex-Gov. Linda Lingle, who got trounced by Hirono in last year's Senate race, is "reportedly [not] interested."
1:26 PM PT: FEC: Saying their hands were tied by the Defense of Marriage Act—or more colorfully, that "sometimes the law's an ass"—the Federal Elections Commission ruled that legally married gay couples cannot donate jointly from an individual bank account, something opposite-sex spouses are permitted to do. Hopefully the Supreme Court will strike down DOMA soon, in which case, the FEC made pretty clear, their ruling would change. (The challenge was brought by Republican state Rep. Dan Winslow of Massachusetts, who is currently running for Senate.)
1:57 PM PT: SC-01: Wow! What a raging jagoff! So I'm sure you recall that the other day, Mark Sanford had the brilliant idea to run a full-page newspaper ad filled with an incredibly lengthy and self-serving series of b.s. explanations for why he trespassed at his ex-wife's home, followed by a whole lot of moaning about negative ads being run by Democrats, and capped off with a comparison of his situation to that of the men who defended the Alamo (who, of course, almost all died). In the middle, though, Sanford made this bizarre offer:
The Democrats' ads will tell you none of this, so if you have further questions, go to www.marksanford.com, call me at the campaign office at 843-764-9188, or even on my cell at 843-367-1010."Desperate" and "weird" hardly begin to describe it, but one of the groups whose ads Sanford complained about, the House Majority PAC, decided to take him up on it. In post-script to a fundraising email, they reprinted Sanford's cell phone number and suggested that their supporters "[g]ive him a call and ask why he spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on luxury travel." A number of them did just that, so guess what Sanford did in response?
He published the phone numbers of the people who called him. These are ordinary citizens—perhaps a little brasher than average—but I'm sure they had no expectation that their numbers would get printed on Mark Sanford's campaign website. I don't want to even link to the document Sanford originally posted, but here's a redacted version, and to be clear, every black box you see obscures a number that Sanford had no problem reproducing in full:
2:11 PM PT: P.S. Republican media buying firm Smart Media Group says that the DCCC has purchased another $176,000 worth of airtime for the final week of the campaign on broadcast TV in the Charleston and Savannah media markets. No independent expenditure report has yet been filed, though.
2:31 PM PT: And elsewhere on the money front, Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch pulled in an impressive $871,000 between Feb. 28 and April 17, according to her newly filed fundraising report. In that time period, she also spent $826,000 but still had $254,000 left on hand. Since the end of the reporting period, she's also raised an additional $85,000 in donations of $1,000 or more, according to her so-called "48 hour" reports. In the same span, Sanford's only taken in $41,000.
2:39 PM PT: SC-Gov: A conservative group backing Gov. Nikki Haley called the Movement Fund is getting an early start on 2014 with a $130,000 ad campaign planned for the first week and a half of May. But methinks another South Carolina election fast coming up on May 7 will consume the local political world, so this timing seems foolish at best. (No, you will not be able to drown out Mark Sanford with six figures of boring positive ads.)
2:45 PM PT: AK-Gov: Attorney Bill Walker, who came in second in the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary, announced on Thursday that he plans to try again next year. Walker lost to Gov. Sean Parnell 50-33 in their first face off, but Parnell had only been elevated from the lieutenant governorship a year earlier after Sarah Palin's disappearing act. Now Parnell, who is expected to seek re-election, has a win and a full term under his belt, so Walker will likely have a very tough time making a dent.
2:58 PM PT: VA-St. House: Evandra Thompson, the young Air Force veteran we told you about who's challenging wayward Democratic Delegate Rosalyn Dance in the primary, has just picked up some more establishment support. Four former mayors in Virginia's Tri-Cities region have given their backing to Thompson, including Curtis Harris, who was confidant of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Florence Farley, the first black woman to be elected mayor of a Virginia city.
Meanwhile, Delegate Lionel Spruill, claimed that "100 percent of House Black Caucus members" support Dance and further accused Thompson's chief backer, Delegate Joseph Morrissey, of trying to oust Dance to further his ambitions of one day running for state Senate. For what it's worth, both Morrissey and Dance have denied any interest in seeking a promotion.
3:25 PM PT: TN-Gov: While Republican Gov. Bill Haslam is still a safe bet for re-election, this extremely negative story about his family business seems to be growing legs—and as Chas Sisk at the Tennessean notes, that business played a crucial role in how Haslam sold himself to voters three years ago when he first ran for governor. The stakes are not small. Haslam's brother Jimmy is the CEO of Pilot Flying J, an enormous truck stop chain that was recently raided by the FBI and stands accused of withholding rebates to customers in order to increase its profits. Jimmy Haslam is also owner of the Cleveland Browns, is worth $1.8 billion, and Pilot, reportedly the sixth-largest privately-held company in the country, has annual revenues of $31 billion. So yeah, not small.
Remarkably, Jimmy Haslam isn't taking a defiant stand. If anything, he's almost admitted to the FBI's allegations, saying: "We make mistakes like any company does, but there is absolutely no excuse for that kind of behavior. I don't think I've ever been as embarrassed as I have been since I read the affidavit." Meanwhile, Bill Haslam's always been cagey about his relationship to and ownership stake in Pilot, but that approach is going to grow increasingly untenable as the FBI's investigation proceeds. And while Gov. Haslam's reputation apart from Pilot and Tennessee's Republican-leaning demographics are likely to ensure his political future at home, Sisk suggests that Haslam's hopes of some day joining the national GOP ticket as a vice presidential candidate may already have been badly harmed.