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Leading Off:

MI-Sen: The Senate portion of PPP's new Michigan poll is now available, and it brings good news for Dem Rep. Gary Peters, who leads all of his actual and potential GOP opponents:

• 41-36 vs. ex-SoS Terri Lynn Land
• 42-32 vs. Rep. Mike Rogers
• 42-30 vs. Rep. Justin Amash
• 43-31 vs. Rep. Dave Camp
• 42-26 vs. Judge Kimberly Small
• 44-26 vs. state Sen. Roger Kahn
• 44-26 vs. physician Rob Steele
• 44-24 vs. ex-state party chair Saul Anuzis
Land is the only declared Republican so far, but despite greater name recognition (29-21 favorables, versus 18-16 for Peters), she still trails by 5 points. The matchup with Rogers is instructive: He has almost identical ratings to Peters but sits 10 points back in the head-to-heads. You can simply chalk this up to Michigan's clear blue lean. Since 1972, the state has only elected a Republican senator once, and that was during the GOP wave year of 1994. It's Peters who has far more room to grow here, and despite Land's seeming closeness, she's at a sizable disadvantage.

PPP also has numbers on a kitchen sink GOP primary with all of the above names, and one notable fact stands out:

Camp: 21
Rogers: 18
Amash: 16
Land: 15
Anuzis: 7
Small: 2
Kahn: 1
Steele: 1
As Tom Jensen points out, "Land's fourth-place showing indicates this is another situation where the candidate who might give Republicans the best chance of winning in November is not necessarily the one they actually want to run." However, everyone is bunched together quite closely, so I wouldn't read too much into anyone's relative standing. What's more, as I say just above, Land's smaller gap against Peters is almost certainly a result of name recognition, so I suspect that if Rogers were to run and get better known, he'd soon catch up to Land. But catching up to Peters? That's a whole different story.

Senate:

AR-Sen: The Senate Conservatives Fund is out with their second ad attacking Dem Sen. Mark Pryor, this time over Obamacare. It's part of a $320,000 buy that began last week.

KY-Sen: Speak of the devil! Conservative pollster Wenzel Strategies has a new poll (PDF) of the Kentucky Senate race. Oddly enough, they find former Miss America Heather French Henry performing a point better against GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell than Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. French Henry trails 46-40, Grimes 47-40. Attorney Tom Fitzgerald was also tested on the Democratic side, clocking in at a steep 47-30 disadvantage.

MA-Sen: That sure buys a whole lotta stamps. The League of Conservation Voters just announced it's spending $400,000 on mailers in support of Dem Rep. Ed Markey in the Massachusetts Senate special election. Their first piece of lit (PDF) also includes a hit on Gabriel Gomez for supporting the Keystone XL pipeline.

NE-Sen: I truly don't get Harper Polling's m.o. The Republican pollster, a wannabe PPP, just never seems to construct its polls in a way that makes sense. Take their new Nebraska survey, in which they test five different Democratic candidates against five different Republican candidates... but only in one matchup each. The results is some sort of crazy tasting menu where no two dishes can be compared to one another. Maybe that works at 11 Madison Park, but not around these parts. I give up.

NJ-Sen: Given the compressed timeframe before the newly declared special election, you'd expect New Jersey Democrats would leap out the gate to declare their interest in the race. I suspect they will soon, since Frank Lautenberg's funeral just took place on Wednesday. But at least all those nameless "sources" are still jabbering, with one telling the Washington Post that Rep. Rush Holt is "100 percent running."

On the GOP side, former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, who unsuccessfully tried to teabag Chris Christie in the 2009 gubernatorial primary, says he's in the game. At the same time, state Sen. Mike Doherty, who was a possible candidate himself, threw his support to Lonegan. Of course, Christie still has to name his interim appointment, and that person may want to run in the special, but Lonegan will happily try to sandblast whomever gets tapped from the right.

Gubernatorial:

IA-Gov: Unsurprisingly, former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack has announced that he won't seek his old job back against the current incumbent, Republican Terry Branstad. Vilsack, the current U.S. secretary of agriculture, had never seemed especially interested in a return engagement, but other Democrats are looking at the race. The Des Moines Register's Jennifer Jacobs summarizes what the rest of the field looks like:

State Sen. Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines, has already said he wants the governor's job. State Rep. Tyler Olson, D-Cedar Rapids, who is also the chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, has said he will decide soon. State Sen. Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, who is the majority leader in the Iowa Senate, said he was "seriously considering" a run for governor. And State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald is considering it, according to Democratic operative Jerry Crawford.
Another former governor, Chet Culver, also expressed interest a while back, but he hasn't said anything lately.

IL-Gov: Uber-rich venture capitalist Bruce Rauner, who has been unofficially running for governor for some time, has finally made his candidacy official. That makes him the second Republican to do so, after state Treasurer Dan Rutherford. Meanwhile, state Sen. Kirk Dillard, who narrowly lost the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 2010, says he plans to formally kick off his own campaign "sometime this summer."

NJ-Gov: Oof. Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono's fight to unseat Gov. Chris Christie just got even harder. Buono fell far short of the $1.9 million she needed to raise in order to qualify for maximum matching funds for the primary (which was on Tuesday), pulling only $1.2 million. That entitled her to about $1.7 million in matching funds, just half the $3.5 million she was eligible for. There's another round of public financing available for the general election; to earn the maximum sum of $8.2 million, Buono will need to raise $4.2 million on her own.

Christie did not accept matching funds for the primary (which come with certain strings attached), but his campaign hasn't announced whether they'll seek public financing for the general.

House:

MO-08: In one of the least-watched House special elections in quite some time, Republican state Rep. Jason Smith defeated Democratic state Rep. Steve Hodges by a punishing 67-27 margin, a result that was no surprise in this dark red district. Smith succeeds Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, who resigned shortly after winning election last year to take a job as head of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Once Smith is sworn in, the House of Representatives will have a full complement of 435 members for the first time since GOP Rep. Chris Lee resigned amid scandal in February 2011. That state of affairs hopefully won't last long, as Rep. Ed Markey is the favorite to win the Massachusetts Senate special election later this month. The ranks of the House will soon shrink even further, as GOP Rep. Jo Bonner has announced plans to resign in August, and Dem Rep. Mel Watt has been nominated for a federal post by President Obama and will likely get confirmed at some point in the near future.

NJ-05: Ahh, too bad. Former Rep. Andrew Maguire, who left office all the way back in 1981, has decided against a comeback bid. Maguire would have been an interesting opponent for GOP Rep. Scott Garrett, but the current iteration of the 5th District would make it an uphill fight for any Democrat. Combined with his age (he's 74), it's quite understandable that Maguire is demurring, but that sends local Democrats back to the drawing board.

Other Races:

AK-LG: It's hard to know what to file this item under, because Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan says he could run for just about any office under the sun in Alaska next year, but ultimately, lieutenant governor seems most likely. That's because Sullivan has filed paperwork to run for a state office, and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, another Republican, has been exploring a Senate bid, meaning there's a decent chance the LG post will be open.

But Sullivan is still holding out the possibility that he could run against Gov. Sean Parnell in the primary, or for the Senate himself, or for the House (would he primary Rep. Don Young?), or for the state legislature... or for nothing at all. However, Sullivan is term-limited in 2015, so he's probably looking for something else to do. I guess it's good to have options? It certainly drives an analyst nuts, though.

VA-LG: In a move that probably has more to do with his own positioning for re-election, GOP Rep. Scott Rigell said in a new interview that he won't endorse the incendiary E.W. Jackson for lieutenant governor due to his extreme anti-gay remarks—though he did say he'd vote for him, so it sounds like a very weak half-measure. I doubt Jackson cares very much (he certainly has bigger things to worry about), but Rigell is the rare Republican sitting in a district won by Obama (VA-02 went for the president 50-49 in 2012). So he's probably wise to try to distance himself from a walking disaster like Jackson, but a Democratic opponent could still easily use his vote against him. I suppose Rigell's trying to have it both ways lest he risk getting teabagged to death in a primary.

WA-St. Sen: The brief tie in control of Washington's state Senate (between the actual Dems and the Majority Coalition Caucus of GOPers plus turncoat Dems) has ended, with the Pierce County Council's appointment of Republican state Rep. Steve O'Ban to fill the seat left vacant by the death of GOP state Sen. Mike Carrell. O'Ban will have to run for re-election in a special election to be held in November 2014, and the council will now need to fill O'Ban's seat with a Republican appointee as well, who'll also stand for regularly scheduled re-election in 2014.

O'Ban's appointment is a bit of a surprise, since he was only just elected in 2012, picking up a Dem-vacated open seat; ex-county councilor Dick Muri, whom you might remember from losing both WA-09 in 2010 and WA-10 in 2012, had been the expected pick. With two near-blank slates on the ballot in Dem-leaning SD-28, maybe both these races can turn in to Dem pickups in 2014. (David Jarman)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Jun 06, 2013 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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