• MA-Sen: Gabriel Gomez has gotten some "next Scott Brown" hype, to the extent that he's a moderate Republican who's a fresh face and running in a Massachusetts Senate special election (which will be held next Tuesday) against a charisma-challenged Democrat. However, there's one important element that seems missing: the ability to mount a late surge and actually win the race, at least if the newest public poll is any indication. UMass Lowell, on behalf of the Boston Herald, gives Ed Markey his biggest lead of any pollster who's looked at the race so far: among likely voters, Markey leads Gomez 56-36 (and 53-32 among all registered voters). This is the pollster's first look at the race since the primary; they did poll the general way back in early March, and found an almost identical margin (47-28 for Markey).
Most pollsters have shown a closer race, usually in the high single digits, although the last couple public polls (from UNH for the Boston Globe, and from Harper Polling) both had it in the low teens; only one recent poll (a Suffolk poll with a 17-point margin in early May) had anything similar to this one.
And then there's the GOP internal pollsters, who continue to see the race within low single digits; the most recent of these came out Thursday from McLaughlin, with Markey up 47-44. That follows a McLaughlin poll from two weeks ago with Markey up 45-44 (on behalf of donor John Jordan), in addition to two OnMessage polls directly on behalf of Gomez, one from less than a week ago with Markey up 47-40, and one from early May with Markey up 46-43. It's not clear what the GOP hopes to gain from constantly leaking those polls, since most observers know that leaked internal polls usually overstate support for their candidate and none of these best-case-scenarios still manage to have Gomez winning.
The 47-44 topline is all that McLaughlin leaked to Politico, but Dave Weigel seems to have gotten his hands on the crosstabs, which show Gomez's favorables falling from 48/27 to 41/35, while Markey's are up a little, from 42/42 to 47/40. Again, not a sign of progress for Gomez, though maybe the GOP thinks the toplines are enough to convince donors that it's not entirely a lost cause. (Although donations at this point would probably arrive too late to do anything other than last-minute GOTV.)
As for the original Scott Brown, the ex-Senator had publicly said that he was willing to campaign for Gomez as his schedule permitted, but so far he hasn't done anything (apparently impeded by his busy dual careers of lobbying and appearing as a Fox News analyst). Well, he is finally popping up: he'll be appearing at a rally with Gomez on Monday night, the night before the election. Is it really a case of a busy schedule, or just not wanting to let Gomez's likely loss appear to be a referendum on Brown himself (especially considering that he may still get in to the Massachusetts gubernatorial race... or the New Hampshire Senate race)?
And if you've gotten the impression that Massachusetts voters are responding to the Ed Markey vs. Gabriel Gomez special election with a collective yawn, now we've gotten some quantitative proof. Absentee ballot requests are down significantly from the 2010 special election that elected Scott Brown; only 49.7K ballots have been requested, compared with 63.6K at the comparable point in 2010. The absentee ballot application deadline is on Monday, one day before the election.
• KY-Sen: There aren't a lot of offensive opportunities for Democrats in the Senate this cycle, and minority leader Mitch McConnell presents a high-value target, so it's not surprising that Democratic PACs are trying to soften him up a little already. Maybe more importantly, they probably also need to show SoS Alison Lundergan Grimes, who's seemed hesitant to get into the race, that they'll have her back financially. Without Grimes in, the race isn't even on the table.
The ad features McConnell's own words, saying he's "lived on a government salary for 30 years;" it's being funded jointly by Senate Majority PAC and Harry Reid's Patriot Majority PAC. Reported size of the buy is $250K, not huge but enough to show Grimes that they mean business.
• NJ-Sen: It looks like the end of the line for Democratic attempts to force the special election for the vacant Senate seat to move to November, coinciding with the gubernatorial election, instead of being all by itself on Oct. 16. A week ago, an appellate court rejected a challenge to that special election date, and now on Thursday, the state Supreme Court denied a request to hear an appeal of that case.
• MN-Gov: Mark Dayton, the Democratic Governor of Minnesota, hasn't drawn a top-tier opponent yet (currently facing only businessman Scott Honour and Hennepin Co. Commissioner Jeff Johnson). However, that may change soon, with the likely entry of Kurt Zellers, who was the state House speaker during the GOP's brief control of that chamber from 2010 to 2012. He hasn't said anything official yet, but he has an event scheduled for Sunday and the Star-Tribune observed that he just registered a "Zellers for Governor" website.
Given his short tenure as Speaker, though, Zellers doesn't seem to have the name rec that would justify the "top-tier" tag anyway; PPP's most recent poll of the race (from late May) found Zellers trailing Dayton by 18 points, the same margin sported by Honour and Johnson. The Star-Tribune's article also mentions that Republican state Sens. Dave Thompson and David Hann are also "nearing decisions" on the race; they both fared incrementally better (down 16 and 15, respectively) in that PPP poll.
• TX-Gov: Rick Perry seems to have two options: start laying the groundwork for another presidential run in 2016 (and, this time, spend more time memorizing the names of the federal agencies he wants to eliminate), or, run for yet another term as Texas governor. Speaking from New York City, where he's currently
fighting the scourge of East Coast-made salsa exhorting hedge funds to move to the Lone Star State, he just gave us an abbreviated timetable on his decision. He'll announce before July 1 whether he'll run for Governor again. The nation's longest-serving Gov would still be favored for another term if he ran; a Texas Tribune poll from last week had him leading his likeliest rival, fellow GOPer and AG Greg Abbott, by a substantial margin.
• MA-05: In all likelihood, attention will turn next Wednesday to the topic of who's going to replace Ed Markey in Massachusetts's Fifth District, the first opening in his district in 36 years. The Central Massachusetts AFL-CIO is already picking a favorite: state Sen. Karen Spilka (although there's one other AFL-CIO council in the district, the Greater Boston Labor Council, which hasn't made a decision yet).
• NJ-05: I had not heard of Roy Cho, an attorney running for the Democratic nod in New Jersey's Fifth District, until today. This is an attention-getting, if somewhat out-of-the-box, way to attract some notice, though: he announced the endorsement of Ghostface Killah. Cho apparently scored the endorsement through his sister, who used to work in the music industry. If he could get all known members, ex-members, and affiliates of the Wu-Tang Clan to vote for him, that might actually be enough votes to win him the primary... but I assume most of them are registered in NY-11.
• AK-LG: As was generally expected, Republican mayor of Anchorage Dan Sullivan has announced that he'll run for the position of Lieutenant Governor. The LG job is being vacated by Mead Treadwell for his Senate challenge to Mark Begich; there had been some speculation that Sullivan might get in the Senate race instead, but no longer. Don't forget, though, that there's an entirely different Republican named Dan Sullivan (Alaska's Dept. of Natural Resources Commissioner) who has floated his name for a statewide run for something, including possibly the Senate race (though probably not the LG race at this point, given the confusion that would spawn).
• Arizona: Gov. Jan Brewer signed a small but potentially important piece of election law today, which seeks to limit the spoiler ability of third-party candidates in Arizona. It greatly increases the number of signatures that third-party candidates need to qualify for their own primaries, by changing the requirements from one-half of 1% of that party's registration to one-sixth of 1% of the total voter registration (which would, for instance, boost the number of signatures that a Libertarian needed to qualify in AZ-01 from 12 to 618). It's pretty transparent that the GOP, which controls the trifecta in Arizona, has only the Libertarians in mind: the Libertarian vote share in AZ-01 and AZ-09 last year was small, but it still exceeded the margin separating the Democratic victor and the Republican loser. Making it more difficult for them to qualify in the future means it's less likely they can play spoiler.
• Maps: You may remember Sean Trende's piece "The Case of the Missing White Voters" from the immediate aftermath of last year's election, which was an interesting topic but seemed a little short on evidence. He's finally expanded considerably on that idea, using more granular county-level data. The map shows an arc of diminished turnout starting in New England, moving down across the Upper Midwest, and then into the some of the Mountain West. He notes that these aren't the strongly evangelical states, but rather, the states that had the largest numbers of Perot voters in 1992, suggesting that the secular blue-collar voters were the part of the Republican coalition that went the most AWOL last year. One other important finding: even if those voters had showed up but voted along the lines of white voters in general, it still wouldn't have made a big difference, with Barack Obama winning by a slightly diminished 2.7%.
• Party Switchers: With the recent completion of Lincoln Chafee's R-to-I-to-D evolution, Governing Magazine's Louis Jacobson has a long and interesting list of party-switchers over the decades, most of whom are at the state legislative level. Despite recent high-profile failures (Arlen Specter, Charlie Crist, Tim Cahill), he also finds a lot of successful transitions (disproportionately located in Louisiana, as you might guess).
• WATN?: Remember Christopher Simcox, who briefly was the anti-immigrant right's candidate in the 2010 Arizona Senate Republican primary against John McCain, until he made way for the better-funded if equally-crackpotted J.D. Hayworth? (Even if you don't, you may remember Simcox as a founder of the Minutemen.) Well, he's back in the news... under arrest on suspicion of child molestation and sexual exploitation of a minor.