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Leading Off:

VA-LG, VA-AG: Oh yeah. This one's gonna be fun. Over the weekend, Virginia Republicans nominated hyperconservative Christian minister E.W. Jackson as their candidate for lieutenant governor, in a move almost perfectly designed to alienate moderate voters who might otherwise cast ballots for the GOP. (Jackson led in every round of voting and won on the fourth ballot at the party's convention.) Let's just say that Jackson loves hateful rhetoric and has never, ever thought to restrain himself when speaking publicly. Right Wing Watch has been all over it. Here's a small sample:

• Referred to gays and lesbians as "perverted," "degenerate," "spiritually darkened" and "frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally."

• Said regarding homosexuality: "it poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things that we can think of."

• Argued that gays seek to "sexualize [children] at the earliest possible age" and use "totalitarian" tactics.

• Argued that "liberalism and their ideas have done more to kill black folks whom they claim so much to love than the Ku Klux Klan, lynching and slavery and Jim Crow ever did, now that's a fact."

• Maintained that Obama "seems to have a lot of sympathy for even radical Islam" and argued that Obama "certainly does have a lot of affection and favor for Islam, that seems to be his priority…Christianity, I don't really think about that with him, I really don't, that's a joke."

• Compared Democratic leaders to "slave masters" who make sure that black people who disagree with them are "punished."

In fact, RWW has an entire "E.W. Jackson" tag that's filled with pages and pages of instant oppo material dating back several years. But the best may be this absolutely gonzo web video in which Jackson, handed an axe painted to resemble the American flag, slices open a watermelon adorned with the words "Federal Budget," Gallagher-style. It was something Jackson put together last year, when he finished in fourth place in Virginia's GOP Senate primary, with just 5 percent of the vote. Basically, Republicans tapped a crazy Some Dude with a penchant for incendiary lunacy as the no. 2 on their statewide ticket. Freakin' awesome.

Meanwhile, in the attorney general's contest, state Sen. Mark Obenshain narrowly defeated state Delegate Robert Bell, after gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli (who was unopposed) endorsed Obenshain. Obenshain, by the way, once introduced a bill that would have required women who miscarry "without medical attendance" to report the event to the police, or potentially face a year in prison. Obenshain later withdrew the legislation, and on Monday claimed it was never his intent to burden women who experience miscarriages in this way.

And because they weren't through giving gifts to the Democrats, Republican delegates decided they'd had so much fun that they'd hold another convention next year! That means freshman Sen. Mark Warner's opponent will get selected by the same group of people who just graced us with the likes of Cuccinelli, Jackson, and Obenshain. As Ice Cube might say, it was a good day.

House:

IL-13: Oooh. Republicans would ill be able to afford this. Last year, when GOP Rep. Tim Johnson abruptly announced his retirement after the primary, attorney and former Miss America Erika Harold was one of four finalists whom local Republicans considered as a replacement. They wound up instead going with congressional staffer Rodney Davis, who went on to win a narrow victory in November. Thanks to that tight race and the district's light blue lean, Davis is a top target for Democrats next year, and they've already recruited former judge Ann Callis to take him on.

Harold may just make Callis's task easier. That's because she's moved back to her hometown of Urbana from Chicago, fueling speculation that she wants to run for some office or another next year. Indeed, Harold promises, she'll "make an announcement regarding future political plans within a couple of weeks." That could mean any number of things, of course, but a primary challenge from the right to Davis would be music to Democratic ears. At the very least, it would sap Davis's resources, and in the best-case scenario, the more conservative Harold would prove to be an easier opponent for Callis.

MN-06: Democrat Jim Graves, who came tantalizingly close to knocking off Michele Bachmann last November, is touting a fresh internal from PPP that shows him edging the incumbent 47-45. Bachmann sports an unpleasant 44-51 favorability rating while Graves has managed to remain above water at 39-33, despite last year's bruising campaign. But will 2014 be any different? Graves put out a couple of polls showing a tight race late in the game last cycle, but MN-06's strongly Republican lean was enough to save Bachmann. This time, though, she won't be aided by a presidential race at the top of the ticket dragging out straight-ticket voters she hasn't managed to alienate yet. And no poll actually had her trailing in 2012, so this is a good start. We just have to hope that the uniquely toxic Bachmann doesn't decide to retire instead.

And what's one more government agency investigation when you've already got so many piled up? According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the FBI is now investigating the campaign finance allegations against Bachmann. That's in addition to the Federal Elections Commission, the Office of Congressional Ethics, and the Iowa state Senate, all of whom are looking into various aspects of Bachmann's failed presidential campaign. As the Strib notes, "an FBI inquiry would be unusual in a typical campaign finance case. But the controversies surrounding the Bachmann campaign have been anything but typical...." Indeed.

NY-18: Republican state Sen. Greg Ball spent much of last cycle antagonizing the hell out of then-Rep. Nan Hayworth, to the point that it looked like he really might challenge her in a primary. But I think the eccentric Ball almost enjoyed needling Hayworth for the sake of it, and he never pulled the trigger. Hayworth wound up losing in the general election anyway, to Democrat Sean Maloney, and my how things have changed. Ball has now already declared that he won't run for Congress, and in so doing, he even went out of his way to shower praise on the incumbent, saying that Maloney "and his office are to be applauded, for they have bent over backwards to mutually assist shared constituents."

Ball, though, has a re-election campaign of his own to worry about. He only barely survived a stiff challenge from Democrat Justin Wagner last year, 51-49, and could face a rematch. Maloney, meanwhile, can probably expect another go-round with Hayworth, who formed a campaign committee in anticipation of a comeback bid several weeks ago. Even running to Hayworth's right, Ball probably would have had a difficult time in a GOP primary with her. But he'll always have his very own Cracked listicle.

SC-01: According to new FEC reports, it turns out the NRCC gave $165,000 to the South Carolina Republican Party on April 15. That was just one day before Jenny Sanford's trespassing allegations became public, which then prompted the NRCC to claim they were cutting Sanford loose. They didn't directly spend on the special election after that point, but they apparently didn't ask for their money back, either. And it's also worth noting that the SC GOP paid for part of Sanford's first general election ad in the race, too.

UT-04: As expected, Saratoga Springs (pop. 18K) Mayor Mia Love will seek a rematch against the man she almost defeated in 2012, Rep. Jim Matheson. Love's loss was actually a big embarrassment for the GOP, which had dismantled Matheson's previous district and also had favorite son Mitt Romney crushing at the top of the ticket. As David Jarman has written, Matheson is the most vulnerable Democrat up for re-election next year, but sitting in a seat so red, he's actually the rare Dem who will likely benefit from the lack of presidential-year turnout. Love didn't actually run a very good campaign, by most accounts, so is it possible that last November might have been her high-water mark? I'll certainly be curious to see if the field clears for her, or if other Republican contenders try to derail her second bid.

Other Races:

ABQ Mayor: Election Day isn't until Oct. 8 in Albuquerque, but SurveyUSA already has a poll of the race, showing Republican Mayor Richard Berry already with a huge 59-17 lead over his nearest challenger, Democratic former City Councilman Pete Dinelli. A second Republican in this technically non-partisan contest, Paul Heh, takes 9 percent. Four years ago, Berry won a plurality victory as two Democrats split a majority of the vote, but now he has the advantages of incumbency working for him.

LA Mayor: In their final poll of the Los Angeles mayoral runoff, USC and the L.A. Times find City Councilman Eric Garcetti leading City Controller Wendy Greuel, a fellow Democrat, by a 48-41 margin. (The poll was conducted by M4 Strategies and Benenson Strategy Group, a Republican and Democratic firm, respectively.) USC/LAT's prior poll from a month ago offered the rosiest numbers Garcetti has seen publicly, putting him up 50-40; this lead is still his widest, but as other pollsters have found, this new data shows a tightened race.

Meanwhile, after showing a surprising surge for Greuel some weeks ago, SurveyUSA has come around to see things the USC/LAT way in their own last-minute poll. They have Garcetti ahead 49-44, up from 46-46 a week-and-a-half ago, but as you can see, their polling has really been all over the place. But I can't imagine Greuel's in good shape if she's attacking public polls without releasing contradictory numbers of her own. What's more, she lambasted the USC/LAT results as an "outlier," only to have SUSA basically back them up a day or two later. Oops.

NYC Mayor: Public Advocate Bill de Blasio's campaign for the Democratic nomination for New York City mayor just received a much-needed boost, with the endorsement of 1199 SEIU, the city's largest union. But will it be a difference-maker? The only regular polling of the race has come from Quinnipiac, which has consistently shown City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in the 30s and everyone else, including de Blasio, in the low teens at best. The primary is still almost four months away, but right now, everyone's goal is to keep Quinn from getting 40 percent (which would allow her to avoid a runoff) and to make sure they're the second-place finisher. It's a tall order, even with 1199's help.

Portland, OR: We've been standing here, mouths agape, as Portland, Oregon appears set to graduate from weird to crazy on Tuesday, with residents looking poised to vote down a measure to fluoridate the city's water supply—a safe, common-sense measure to thwart tooth decay that two-thirds of American citizens already benefit from. So how is it, we've wondered, that a paranoid Bircher delusion from the 1940s, memorably and brutally lampooned by Stanley Kubrick in Dr. Strangelove, has been successfully repackaged and embraced by a town known for its liberalism? Writing at Slate, Jake Blumgart has some answers to this vexing question, and I think these two paragraphs really get at the core of the issue:

"I've heard it said that the support for fluoridation is a mile wide and the passion runs an inch deep, while the opponents of fluoridation … the support isn't nearly as wide but the passions runs to the center of the Earth," says Kurt Ferre, president of the board of directors for the Creston Dental Clinic, which serves low-income children and is the only school-based clinic of its kind in Multnomah County. "The opponents are very good at raising fear, using words like chemical and industry, and there is this basic fear of change. There is a terrible fear that somehow fluoride is going to muck up our Bull Run water system." [...]

"The anti-coalition has done a really good job of putting their junk science in mainstream media and in front of people in a really aggressive way, and the pro-fluoride side has been a little too nice," says Felisa Hagins, political director of SEIU's 10,000-strong Local 49, which represents janitors, security  officers, and health care workers, among others. "We haven't called bullshit bullshit, we haven't said that the studies they keep showing, frankly, they are picking and choosing their science. Because [Healthy Kids] has been so eager to be inclusive there has been some hesitancy to do that, but that's what we need to do."

In other words, on one side, you have a determined cohort of true believers, spurred on by the sort of intense fervor that adherents of pseudoscience frequently possess, playing intensely on voters' emotions. In response, you have traditional technocratic rationalists making appeals to reason and authority. In politics, as in life, emotion often beats reason, so as disturbing as these developments in Portland may be, they are rather sadly explicable.

Seattle Mayor: The overstuffed field in the Seattle mayoral race got a big shakeup on Friday, when City Councilor Tim Burgess dropped out of the race right before the filing deadline. It's an odd decision that nobody seems to understand, since Burgess had raised the most money of any candidate, and he had a widely understood niche (the law-n-order candidate) that seemed to give him good odds at making it out of the top-two primary. (And if his opponent in the general were to be unpopular incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn, that would be tantamount to victory). But it seems like it just came down to a fire-in-the-belly issue for the sometimes-mercurial Burgess.

At any rate, SurveyUSA, on behalf of KING-TV, rushed back into the field over the weekend to look at the Burgess-less race. They found that Burgess's support didn't seem to gravitate any one particular direction, leaving ... just as they've seen before ... McGinn in first place in the primary and a multi-way pileup for contenders for that crucial second slot. McGinn clocks in at 22, followed by ex-City Councilor Peter Steinbrueck at 17, state Sen. Ed Murray at 15, and City Councilor Bruce Harrell at 12, with minor candidates Kate Martin and Charlie Staadecker at 4, and Mary Martin at 3. (David Jarman)

Special Elections: As always, Johnny Longtorso brings you the update on Tuesday's legislative action:

California SD-16: This is the seat of Democrat Michael Rubio, who resigned to take a job at Chevron. There are five candidates running in the open primary. Three are Democrats: Leticia Perez, a Kern County Supervisor; Paulina Miranda, a businesswoman; and Francisco Ramirez, a business consultant. Also running is Republican Andy Vidak, who lost 52-48 to Rep. Jim Costa in 2010, and Peace & Freedom Party candidate Mohammad Arif, an unsuccessful candidate for his party's gubernatorial nomination in 2010.

Pennsylvania HD-42: Open Democratic seat in suburban Allegheny County. Democrat Dan Miller, an attorney, Republican Dan Remely, a member of the Mt. Lebanon school board, and Libertarian George Brown, a software engineer, are the candidates.

Pennsylvania HD-95: Open Democratic seat in York. The candidates here are Democrat Kevin Schrieber, who works for the York Redevelopment Authority, Republican Bryan Tate, the former chief of staff for ex-Rep. Todd Platts, and Green Bill Swartz, who runs a property management company.

In California's SD-16, the race is really between Perez and Vidak; everyone else is a Some Dude. There's also a Dem-on-Dem special election AD-80 that should not be ignored. While nominally the outcome might not seem to matter, the two candidates are very different. Community organizer Lorena Gonzalez is the mainstream Democratic candidate and widely acknowledged frontrunner, while businessman Steve Castaneda calls himself a "fiscally conservative Democrat" and has openly run to the right. This election will restore Democrats' two-thirds majority in the state Assembly, so we definitely don't want that final vote hinging on the likes of Castaneda.

Grab Bag:

House: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to announce the return of our House Vulnerability Index, a measure that ranks incumbents of both parties in terms of how well they performed last year and how red or blue their districts are on the presidential level. It turns out that the union of these two simple metrics has done an admirable job in assessing overall vulnerability, and in 2010, it even suggested that some members who were not thought to be at serious risk, like Democrats Solomon Ortiz and Melissa Bean, might indeed tumble. The HVI can't tell you how many seats each party will lose, but it does tell you what order each side's seats are likely to fall in—or put another way, which seats you'll want to focus on most intently for next year's elections.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue May 21, 2013 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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