• MA-Sen: PPP's latest poll of the Massachusetts Senate special (once again for the League of Conservation Voters, a frequent client) shows little change in the toplines, with Dem Rep. Ed Markey leading Gabriel Gomez 47-39; last month, Markey had a 48-41 edge. Gomez's favorables have now headed into negative territory, at 39-40, down from 42-30, which suggests that Markey's negative attacks on Gomez have worked. Markey's own favorability score has dropped a bit, too, though, from 48-40 to 44-39.
UMass Amherst also has a poll of its own (PDF), conducted by Internet-based pollster YouGov, which I believe is their first of the race. Among a small sample (n=357) of likely voters, Markey is up 51-40, including leaners; that's similar to his 47-37 edge among registered voters, indicating there isn't any kind of enthusiasm gap here.
Meanwhile, Stuart Rothenberg reports that national Democrats will, for the first time, go on the air on Markey's behalf, starting Friday. It sounds like it's insurance, though, rather than a move motivated by real fear, given that outside Republican groups have shown no indication of following suit.
This is certainly something we've seen the major party committees do in other races, though. In NV-02 in 2011, Republican groups (including the NRCC and American Crossroads) spent almost $900,000 to lock the race down for Mark Amodei, while the DCCC and the House Majority PAC shelled out over $1.6 million to ensure that Suzanne Bonamici would carry the day in OR-01 in early 2012. In both cases, the opposite party didn't spend a cent, and in both cases, the favored candidate won handily. Sometimes, you just don't want to leave anything to chance.
As for the size of the buy, the DSCC is reportedly spending $500,000. The Senate Majority PAC is also getting into the act, with an even larger $750,000 expenditure. Copies of the ads don't appear to be available yet.
• NJ-Sen: At a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Gov. Chris Christie tapped state Attorney General Jeff Chiesa, a fellow Republican, to serve as New Jersey's interim senator, filling the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg's seat. Christie also announced that Chiesa would not run in the special election to be held later this year for the remainder of Lautenberg's term, making him a placeholder. Christie's decision also reduces the Democratic Party's edge in the Senate from 55-45 to 54-46, though with Democrats heavily favored in the special, that change is likely to be very temporary.
Meanwhile, Rep. Rush Holt just became the first Democrat to formally announce his candidacy for the special, confirming earlier reports that he would indeed do so. As a member of Congress, Holt will get a free pass, since he's only up for re-election in even-numbered years. The same, of course, would apply to Rep. Frank Pallone and any other New Jersey representative who's considering a bid, so the unusual timing could make the race especially tempting for a whole bunch of people.
The Newark Star-Ledger also reports that Hoboken City Councilwoman Beth Mason, who is also a wealthy Democratic activist, is considering a run. Mason has declined to comment so far, but she could apparently self-fund. Meanwhile, state Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick says he won't run in the special for the GOP, but adds that he isn't ruling out a bid in 2014. In any event, we'll know very soon who's in and who's out, since candidates have to file 1,000 signatures by Monday in order to get on the ballot.
• PA-Sen: It's incredibly early to be polling on a 2016 Senate race, but then again, it was incredibly early for ex-Rep. Joe Sestak to announce that he'd run for the Senate in 2016. That unusual situation gave Quinnipiac cause to pit Sestak against the man he's hoping to unseat, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey; they find the incumbent with a 42-37 edge. Sestak, as you'd expect, is mostly unknown, with just a 26-15 favorability rating, showing how little name rec you retain when you run a race and lose, even if it's statewide. Toomey, meanwhile, sits at 39-24—showing that even if you've been a sitting senator for years, plenty of people often still don't know who you are.
• IL-Gov: Battleground Polling, a firm whose name sounds deceptively familiar, though I don't recall actually ever writing about them, has a survey out of the GOP primary for the Illinois governor's race. State Treasurer Dan Rutherford leads the way with 27, while 2010 nominee Bill Brady is in second at 19, followed by state Sen. Kirk Dillard at 14, radio host Dan Proft at 13, and richie rich Bruce Rauner at just 5. Of this group, only Rauner and Rutherford have formally declared, though Dillard says he'll announce this summer.
• PA-Gov: There goes that idea. Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's ill-conceived lawsuit against the NCAA over the penalties it imposed on Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal has just gotten tossed for lack of sufficient factual allegations by the judge hearing the case. Painfully for Corbett, a lot of Pennsylvanians sided with the university against the NCAA, but they've long had very negative views of how Corbett has handled the situation, and his court case did absolutely nothing to turn that around.
Yet even despite this dismissal, the Penn State story isn't going away, with relatives of the late football coach Joe Paterno also still suing the NCAA, and Democratic state AG Kathleen Kane investigating Corbett's involvement in the whole mess and promising to leave "no stone unturned." Sucks to be him.
• CA-31: Ex-Rep. Joe Baca's endorsement mega-debacle is still ongoing, with four local elected officials now saying they're supporting one of his Democratic rivals, attorney Eloise Reyes, instead. Unlike the three members of Congress who signed Baca's endorsement sheet and then changed their minds, Reyes makes it sound like something more nefarious was at work in this case, saying, "I saw them on his list and I called them because they have endorsed me." Then again, two of those congressmembers initially tried to claim they had never endorsed Baca but were later forced to admit they indeed had and were issuing retractions, so who knows what the hell is going on here.
• MI-12: A big mazal tov to Democratic Rep. John Dingell, who on Friday will set the record for the longest tenure in congressional history at 20,997, eclipsing the late Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia. As the New York Times points out, Dingell's term of service has lasted for more than a quarter of the time Congress has even existed!
• MN-08: Stewart Mills, CEO of the retail chain Mills Fleet Farm, sounds like he may be interested in a run against freshman Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan. Mills would neither confirm nor deny that he's looking at the race, but he told the Brainerd Dispatch that they're "barking up the right tree." And for the benefit of those of us not from the region, Daily Kos Elections community member AndrewMN explains the particular appeal of Mills's stores:
Mills Fleet Farm is a uniquely upper-Midwest type of store where they sell home improvement and construction stuff, along with outdoor and hunting gear. Everyone in Minnesota has been to one at least once for when you forget something on a camping trip.The linked article also gives Great Mentioner treatment to a few other Republicans: state Sen. John Carlson, St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg, former Duluth City Councilman Todd Fedora. None have made public comments about running, though.
• MO-08: On Wednesday, less than a day after winning the special election to fill Jo Ann Emerson's seat, Republican Jason Smith was sworn in as the newest member of Congress. That means that as of this writing, John Dingell had served 20,997 times as long as Smith.
• SC-01: Well, this doesn't seem very good. The ever-assiduous Greg Giroux notes that Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch managed to leave an amazing $282,000 un-spent in her special election last month. Given her 9-point loss to Mark Sanford, that money wouldn't have been a difference maker, but still, who runs a campaign without leaving everything out on the field? You never want to lose by 1,000 votes and then wish you'd bought just one more flight of ads.
Of course, if Colbert Busch's internal polls showed a hopeless situation and she truly felt it would be throwing good money after bad to spend these funds, then what was she planning to do with the leftover cash? Adam B. suggests that maybe this was unavoidable, since he thinks most of this money came in the final week and thus couldn't be spent in time. But surely a well-run campaign can have contingency plans to spend late-arriving funds, no?
• NRCC: The NRCC has released some sketchy details about various internal polls they've commissioned from Harper Polling, offering only vague field dates ("mid-May"), toplines, and margins of error. For what it's worth, here are the matchups:
• CA-36: Assemblyman Brian Nestande (R): 44, Rep. Raul Ruiz (D): 41And in UT-04, they didn't even provide actual head-to-heads, merely saying that Dem Rep. Jim Matheson leads 2012 challenger Mia Love "by 3 points." And oh yeah, those IL-12 numbers are seriously whack-ass. Forty percent undecided? Come on.
• IL-10: ex-Rep. Bob Dold! (R): 44, Rep. Brad Schneider (D): 39
• IL-12: state Rep. Mike Bost (R): 33, Rep. Bill Enyart (D): 27
• Demographics: Ruy Teixeira was one of the earliest proponents of the idea that Democrats should build upon the "coalition of the ascendant" (non-whites plus young educated voters) rather than chasing the shrinking white working class, especially the right-leaning independents and swing voters among them. But he, along with Andrew Levison, has an interesting new piece in the New Republic that encourages Dems not to entirely write off the white working class, and proposes some outreach and rhetorical strategies for rebuilding Dem fortunes with that segment. They're a large enough piece in the overall puzzle, the authors say, that they can't be abandoned; shrinking though the white working class may be, if the Dem share falls to 33 percent among them (down from the current 36 percent), that's enough to start worrying about a Republican president.
The piece doesn't specifically talk much about presidential fortunes vs. congressional fortunes, but I think that Teixeira is starting to realize that even as the "coalition of the ascendant" does now seem able to carry the day at the presidential level, we need something more than that to be able to effectively contest the House (at least in the short-term future of the next decade or two). That's thanks to the heavy Democratic concentration in the nation's urban areas, a problem that just gets compounded where Republicans control the redistricting process. Competing in those suburban and rural districts in that D+1 to R+4 range in non-wave years, which is where the House majority is made or broken, means eating into the Republican advantage among the, well, non-ascendant. (David Jarman)
• Idaho: Roll Call's latest "Farm Team" installment heads to Idaho, where there aren't really any openings for an ambitious pol to move up, though some folks are holding out hope that GOP Gov. Butch Otter won't seek a third term in 2014. In addition to the usual Republican suspects, Matthew Lowe does manage to dig up a few Democratic names in this dark red state who could one day seek advancement... though, again, to what office is far from clear.
• Midterms: Kyle Kondik has found an interesting historical mirror for the 2014 midterms: the 1986 elections, during Ronald Reagan's second term. The Democrats gained a significant number of Senate seats (eight) while, at the same time losing a number of governor's seats (also eight). The House was pretty much a wash (with net gain of five for the Democrats). Sounds confusing at first, but it really reflects the fact that the three different categories all have cycles that operate on different wavelengths. The Senate result was snapback from the huge Republican gains six years earlier in 1980 thanks to Reagan's coattails, while the gubernatorial result was snapback from Democratic gains four years earlier during the 1982 pro-Dem wave.
Meanwhile, the House result reflects that the Dems already had big House gains in 1982 and the realignment was already baked in, along the lines of Sean Trende's theory that two-term presidents only suffer one midterm repudiation in the House. Given the playing field at this point I can't imagine eight flips in 2014 in either the Senate or the state capitols, but the basic idea of GOP gains in the Senate (six years after Dem gains in 2008), Dem gains in the state houses (four years after GOP gains in 2010), and little of interest in the House (since the 2010 wave took the pressure off) seems plausible. (David Jarman)
• WATN?: It's not every day you hear about a state Senate majority leader resigning without some kind of scandal being the cause, but I guess Rob Garagiola's just giving up on the whole politics thing. Garagiola, you may recall, badly lost the Democratic primary last year in MD-06, a district he personally helped redraw to be more favorable both to himself and Team Blue, to self-funder John Delaney. (Delaney went on to handily beat GOP Rep. Roscoe Bartlett in November.) Garagiola's only 40 years old but says he'll step down Sept. 1 and adds that he has no plans to seek further office. A replacement will be selected by a local committee, with state Delegate Brian Feldman apparently a top contender.