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Leading Off:

CO-Gov: Aww yeah! Ex-Rep. Tom Tancredo, whose maximally anti-immigrant zealotry makes him exactly who the Colorado GOP does not want as their standard-bearer, just declared that he's going to make a second run for governor. I admit I'm surprised at this turn of events, since Tancredo only first publicly mooted the idea last week, and even he said that he wasn't seriously considering the race. But Tancredo says he was motivated by Gov. John Hickenlooper's decision to temporarily stay the execution of a convicted murderer, as well as new gun safety legislation signed into law earlier this year.

It's immigration, though, where Tancredo has always shined brightest, and even if he doesn't capture the Republican nomination, he's very likely to pull the entire field rightward on the issue. That would be dangerous for whomever emerges with the brass ring. So far, the only other contender is Steve Laffey, the former mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island (yeah), though Secretary of State Scott Gessler may enter soon, too. Enjoy fending off Tom Tancredo, fellas.

Senate:

AK-Sen: Nathan Gonzalez reports that Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan won't join the Alaska Senate race, "according to knowledgeable sources." But another Republican named Dan Sullivan—the state Department of Natural Resources Commissioner—is apparently "seriously considering" a bid, though he's never run for office before.

MA-Sen: The NRSC isn't sending lawyers, guns, or money to help out Gabriel Gomez, but they are sending a few staffers, including a couple of fundraisers who might help him find some more money. With just a month to go, it's not exactly a massive show of confidence in Gomez's ability to pull off an upset, but I guess it's more than doing the bare minimum, which would be absolutely nothing.

SD-Sen: Well, here's some good news out of South Dakota: Republican ex-Gov. Mike Rounds just hired the amazing Dick Wadhams as his general consultant. Wadhams' string of screwups is so impressive (George Allen in 2006, Bob Schaffer in 2008, Clark Durant, ever so briefly, in 2012—not to mention his stewardship of the Colorado GOP in 2010, when the party's gubernatorial nominee took 11 percent of the vote) that I'm only surprised he doesn't get more work! Wadhams' last successful effort was John Thune's victory over then-Sen. Tom Daschle in 2004, so I guess Rounds is hoping he can recreate some of that South Dakota magic.

Gubernatorial:

MN-Gov: The bad news for Dem Gov. Mark Dayton is that PPP's new Minnesota poll shows his job approval rating sinking form 53-39 in January to 49-47 now. The good news is that he takes 51-53 percent against eight different potential GOP candidates, none of whom comes closer than a 12-point margin (state Rep. Kurt Daudt). But of course, it's not all roses: Tom Jensen notes that against the three names PPP also tested last time, Dayton "was doing an average of 6 points better against that trio then than he is now."

On the other hand, as Jensen points out, Dayton defeated ex-state Rep. Tom Emmer by less than 1 percent in 2010 but holds a 52-39 edge over him now. So you can read this poll a number of ways, but I think Tom is right when he says that Dayton is definitely in much better shape than he was when he was first elected, but not doing as well as he was early this year.

There is another positive note, though, which is that Minnesota voters approve of the legislature's recent decision to legalize same-sex marriage by a 49-45 margin. Naturally, that spread will only grow over time, and I suspect the GOP won't want to make an issue out of it in a statewide race. Both parties in the legislature sport poor ratings, but Republicans are much worse off than Democrats (23-59 vs. 36-49). I'd love to see a study on this if one exists, but I wouldn't be surprised if legislators and governors often see their approvals head south when the legislature is in session and engaged in the messy art of lawmaking. Now that Minnesota's session is over, it may be time for a rebound.

PA-Gov: Considering they commissioned a poll earlier this year to help lure her into the race, it's hardly a surprise that EMILY's List is endorsing Rep. Allyson Schwartz for governor, but regardless, the group made it official on Thursday. The move also helps to box out former state Secretary of Environmental Protection Kathleen McGinty, who is probably the closest thing to an "Ed Rendell candidate" in the Democratic primary, even if the former governor insists he's not endorsing anyone.

House:

AL-01: GOP Rep. Jo Bonner announced on Thursday that he would resign from Congress, effective Aug. 15, in order to take a job at the University of Alabama. Bonner faced self-funding businessman Dean Young in the primary in this ultra-red district last year, and he was also targeted by the Campaign for Primary Accountability, which spent about $124,000, mostly on mail. Young came in a distant second, in part because he split the anti-incumbent vote with two other challengers, but Bonner didn't  fare especially well either, securing less than 56 percent of the vote while spending almost a million bucks to do so. So even though he's only 53 years old, perhaps Bonner simply didn't care to deal with another contested primary.

All the action to replace him will be on the GOP side (Alabama conducts primaries ahead of special elections), so here are some possible names: ex-state Sen. Bradley Byrne, who lost in the 2010 gubernatorial runoff and may prefer taking another shot there; former long-time Mobile County DA John Tyson, who ran for AG as a Democrat in 2006 but could switch sides; former Mobile Mayor Mike Dow, who could be sort of a Bobby Bright figure and has rejected overtures from both parties for a statewide bid; and Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan. Sarah Mimms takes note of Byrne and also mentions several other potentials: state Sens. Trip Pittman, Bill Hightower, and Rusty Glover, and state Rep. Chad Fincher.

MA-05: There are two new Democrats in the special election to succeed Ed Markey (assuming he wins next month's Senate race, of course), both of whom have generally been expected to run for some time. One is state Sen. Karen Spilka, who announced earlier this week; the other is Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, who didn't make a full-blown announcement but did open a campaign committee. They join three others in the primary: state Rep. Carl Sciortino and state Sens. Will Brownsberger and Katherine Clark.

OH-16: Democratic ex-Rep. John Boccieri didn't sound particularly likely to make a comeback when we first heard from him in January, even though he'd filed paperwork to run against GOP Rep. Bob Gibbs in OH-07. Now, it turns out the DCCC recently conducted some polling testing Boccieri against the guy who actually beat him in 2010, Rep. Jim Renacci, who sits in OH-16. The results haven't been made public, but Boccieri, an Air Force Reserves pilot, still doesn't seem enthused, saying "I am happy serving my country right now in the military and raising my family." If he does go for it, though, the 16th might make more sense than the 7th: It's a touch bluer on the presidential level, and Renacci only won by a 52-48 margin last year.

TN-04: Amazing. After all we learned about GOP Rep. Scott DesJarlais's salacious affairs with multiple patients when he was a practicing physician, the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners has fined him just $500. Other doctors have lost their licenses for less; with a penalty this small, it practically seems like the board is condoning his behavior. Appalling.

Other Races:

CO Recall: The NRA is now 0 for 2 in attempting to recall pro-gun safety Democratic legislators in Colorado. Organizers say they are "suspending" their efforts to recall state Sen. Evie Hudak, but they claim they'll pick back up again with petition gathering after they defeat state Sens. John Morse and Angela Giron. That really makes no sense, though, since if they miss their June 10 deadline, they'd have to start over from square zero. What's more, because Hudak's seat is up in presidential years, the signature requirements to recall her are much higher. (Morse and Giron's seats are up in lower-turnout midterms.) So I suspect that she, like state Rep. Mike McLachlan, won't actually face a recall.

TX-St. House: After 20 years in office, Democratic state Rep. Craig Eiland has announced he will not seek re-election to the Texas House. What's remarkable about Eiland is that in the entire 150-member chamber, he's the only legislator who sits in a seat won by the other party's presidential candidate in 2012 (Romney won the 23rd District 55-44). That shows how hard it will be to hold Eiland's seat, but it also shows how deep a hole Democrats—who hold just 55 seats in the House—are in, and how well the GOP's gerrymander locked in their gains from the 2010 wave. It's hard to believe that as recently as that cycle, Republicans were holding on to the narrowest possible majority, 76-74.

VA-LG: Is it possible to overdose on E.W. Jackson? We're certainly going to find out this cycle. With the devastating Oklahoma tornado on so many minds, Right Wing Watch dug up a video from Jackson's failed Senate bid in which he responded to a question about the federal government's responsibilities in responding to natural disasters:

I don't think that the federal government has much of a role at all constitutionally, at all. Now, you may make an argument that it does. You might argue that it's a national security issue, you might argue that it weakens us in the event of some sort of national military emergency. So you can make an attenuated argument. But I think that as a constitutional matter the federal government doesn't have a whole lot to do with that. In my view, these are things that are ultimately supposed to be handled by the states. And, so, we've got a big Tenth Amendment problem in our country, and a failure by the federal government to recognize that states are sovereign. [...]

We've turned the federal government into a kind of god. [...]

We don't need the heavy hand of federal government stepping in every time something goes wrong. I don't think there is any constitutional authority to do it.

Meanwhile, some poor soul at ThinkProgress read through every single tweet Jackson's ever tweeted and collected the top 20 most offensive. My favorite may be the very first:
The President has proclaimed June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Pride Month. Well that just makes me feel ikky all over. Yuk!
And not that I was ever worried, but Jackson confirmed on Thursday that he has no plans to change his stripes. "I do not retract anything that I said," sayeth Jackson. Just keep being yourself, dude.

Grab Bag:

Census: The Census Bureau is out with 2012 population estimates for the nation's cities and towns, and they continue to show Texas's position as the epicenter of the nation's growth. (Recall that Texas gained 4 House seats with the new decade.) Percentage-wise, eight of the nation's 15 fastest-growing places with a population over 50,000 are in Texas (starting with San Marcos, a college town between San Antonio and Austin). And in terms of raw numbers, five of the 10 cities that gained the most people are in Texas (although NYC was still the biggest overall gainer). The trend is particularly pronounced in Austin, which gained 25K residents, which was enough to vault it up from the nation's 13th largest city overall to 11th. (David Jarman)

DCCC: On Wednesday, the National Journal's Shane Goldmacher tweeted that several Democratic recruits were in Washington this week to meet with the DCCC, and it's an interesting mix. You've already heard about Erin Bilbray-Kohn, who may run against Rep. Joe Heck in NV-03, so that's not a surprise. But former state Sen. Staci Appel certainly is. Appel, you may recall, reportedly considered a run against Rep. Tom Latham in IA-03 before abruptly saying no, but her presence indicates she must be reconsidering.

The other two names Goldmacher specifically cites are also interesting. One we've never heard of before, Jerry Cannon, a former Kalkaska County sheriff who achieved the rank of major general in the Michigan Army National Guard and retired in 2012 after a 40 year career in the military. The DCCC is looking at him to take on Rep. Dan Benishek in MI-01, though note that Kalkaska is not in the Upper Peninsula, which is the district's center of gravity.

The final name we definitely have heard of, former Ohio state Rep. Jennifer Garrison, though you'll have to dig into the deep archives to jog your memory. Garrison was a very conservative member of the legislature and, for a distressing but mercifully brief while, looked like she'd be the Democratic nominee for Secretary of State in 2010. Fortunately, Garrison dropped out (or was pushed out), sparing Democrats the ignominy of nominating an anti-choice candidate who is incredibly hostile toward the gay community. (Click the link for the gory details.)

In the end, the SoS race didn't really matter, as Team Blue got pummeled across the board in the Buckeye State. But Garrison chose to quit rather than run for re-election to the House, which makes her reappearance now all the more surprising. And while her profile might fit the red OH-06 to some extent, Garrison's anti-gay record is so extreme that I think she'd have a hard time motivating the base. What's more, Democrats have another potential recruit here, state Sen. Lou Gentile, who at least on paper seems more appealing. Though for all we know, he was in DC this week, too.

House: For the second time this year, a reputable pollster has found Democrats with an 8-point edge in the generic congressional ballot. The new Washington Post/ABC poll puts Democrats ahead 48-40; back in March, Quinnipiac had them up 43-35. Quinnipiac fell back down to earth (D+4) the next month, but it's hard to call those two D+8 surveys complete outliers, given the paucity of polling on this question. (Aside from the frenetic and ridiculous Rasmussen, which has ranged all the way from D+11 to R+1, HuffPo Pollster only has nine recorded generic congressional ballot polls this cycle.)

Of course, the NRCC doesn't want to hear any of this—quite literally. In response to the new WaPo data, they plugged up their ears and started unskewing, promoting their efforts with a Twitter account they've comically dubbed the "Topline Translator." I guess the well-established lesson that trying to tweak polls to conform to your own prejudices is embarrassing, undignified, and wrong-headed hasn't taken root at the NRCC, but I won't complain. After all, it worked out very well for Mitt Romney.

House: An article on which congressional districts are the biggest and smallest seems like it might contain some interesting geographic trivia and that's all, but the University of Virginia Center for Politics' Kyle Kondik puts a much more interesting spin on it by looking at who represents which district. Sure, we could probably all guess that AK-AL is the biggest and NYC's NY-13 is smallest... but did you know that Democrats hold 87 of the nation's 100 smallest districts and Republicans hold 73 of the 100 biggest? There's, in fact, a -.35 correlation between district size and the district's lean (not strong, but still noteworthy).

Especially interesting are the charts of the GOPers in the smallest districts and the Dems in the largest districts (Mike Grimm and Pete Gallego lead the way, respectively). The Republicans-in-small-districts list is quite similar, in fact, to our lists of Republicans in districts that have other demographic characteristics that are particularly Dem-friendly (for instance, districts with a lot of renters or young adults).

Texas redistricting expert Michael Li also has some good follow-up thoughts, noticing that a lot of Texas districts make the lists. He posits that's because of that state's more widely dispersed Hispanic population, many of whom are in rural areas, and also because of how effectively the inner-suburban districts are gerrymandered by race. (David Jarman)

State Legislatures: Political scientists Boris Shor and Nolan McCarty have been working on an epic-scale project for several years: building a DW-Nominate-type system for ranking the ideologies of state legislators, across all state lines as well as over the decades. Well, it's finally available, all 18,189 legislators' worth (though I suspect that many of our commenters are already knee-deep in that dataset).

If you don't want to delve that deep into the weeds, they also do some helpful summarizing, including their analysis of which state legislatures are most polarized between a strongly liberal Dem caucus and a strongly conservative GOP caucus. Turns out the most polarized state, by far, is California (though the Dem supermajorities there render inconsequential the Republican rump there), followed by Colorado and Washington, two other western states with big cultural gaps between city and rural areas. The least polarized state is, unsurprisingly, Louisiana, where Dems and GOPers are both conservative and where convenience-based party-switching is pretty normal; that's followed by Rhode Island, and Nebraska, with its unicameral, theoretically nonpartisan legislature.

On a related note, Ballotpedia has a new set of resources on which party has controlled which state's government over the years, focusing in particular on where the "trifecta"s have been. It's worth bookmarking, in part because of the variety and ingenuity of the many infographics, but also because it goes pretty far back, to 1992, so you can get a visual sense of when the once-Solid South started to get away from the Democrats and the northeastern states started to gel for us. (David Jarman)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Fri May 24, 2013 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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