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Leading Off:

SC-Gov: Hrm. I wonder what her angle is here. First-term Republican Gov. Nikki Haley is suddenly sounding gun-shy about seeking re-election, telling a local paper she "could absolutely see" foregoing a re-election bid if "it's too much on the family." Haley had previously taken steps toward running again, and given her youth and rising star status within the GOP, it would be pretty surprising if she just called it quits in the middle of everything.

But while Republicans have enjoyed promoting her, especially given her background as an Indian-American woman, Haley actually has been fairly unpopular at home, according to polls. She's often been locked in ugly fights with the legislature and has occasionally been nagged by ethical issues. What's more, she's facing a rematch with state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, whom she only beat by 4 percent in the 2010 wave (and in a very red state, no less). Democrats have a good shot at a pickup opportunity with her in the race; against a generic Republican, things would become a lot tougher. So perhaps she fears a possible loss to Sheheen, though Democrats have to hope she runs again.


CO-Sen: Based on unnamed sources, local news site ColoradoPols reports that Republican operatives are trying to recruit former state House Majority Leader Amy Stephens into next year's Senate race. The Colorado GOP has, so far, found no one willing to take on Dem Sen. Mark Udall.

IA-Sen: Even though Sen. Chuck Grassley formally promised to remain neutral in the Republican primary for Iowa's other Senate seat, he's hosting two fundraisers this month for his former chief of staff, David Young, who is seeking his party's nomination. As an odd sort of fig leaf, though, Grassley's also doing an event for former U.S Attorney Matt Whitaker in July. However, a former state GOP official claims that Grassley's entire operation is in fact backing Young, so not really sure why the kabuki is necessary.

MA-Sen: It looks like we have three final polls of Tuesday's Senate special election, and while they show very different spreads, they all continue to agree that Democrat Ed Markey is the clear favorite over Republican Gabriel Gomez:

Suffolk University: 52-42 (June 9: 48-41)

New England College: 56-36 (June 2: 52-40)

Western New England University: 49-41 (April 18: 51-36)

To the extent that their trendlines have gone in the opposite direction, WNEU dissents a bit, but their prior poll is much older than NEC's or Suffolk's. (And as fenway49 reminds us, there were some serious issues with that earlier WNEU survey, not least the fact that it was in the field in the immediate aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.) But no matter what, someone is going to be wrong, since Markey can't simultaneously win by 10 points and 20 points. Tune in Tuesday night to find out who gets to wear the egg.


KY-Gov: Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, the lone Republican elected to statewide office during the Democratic sweep of 2011, says he's "looking at" a potential bid for governor in 2015, but unsurprisingly says it's too early to announce any plans.

MA-Gov: Not that it was ever up for discussion, given his vehement reaction to the idea, but ex-Rep. Barney Frank just made it emphatically clear that there's no way he's going to run in the Democratic primary for governor next year. In shooting down the notion, Frank also touched on an issue that I'll bet his senior colleagues would rather he avoid, but which really does not get discussed enough:

"The next gubernatorial term I would be 74 years old. I was very sorry [New Jersey Sen.] Frank Lautenberg died but I wished he hadn't run. I feel fine now. But I couldn't guarantee anybody at the age of 74, in 10 months, that I was going to be totally healthy and fully vigorous for four more years. I think it is irresponsible."
I'm not sure that any nation is well served if it turns into a gerontocracy.

MN-Gov: As expected, former state House Speaker Kurt Zellers officially entered the race for governor over the weekend. He joins two other Republicans, businessman Scott Honour and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, though the field is expected to grow further.

NE-Gov: Democratic state Sen. Steve Lathrop, who has been considering the open seat governor's race for some time, says he expects to make a decision by mid-July.


AZ-09: When a Roll Call report earlier this year claimed that ex-Rep. Ben Quayle was the GOP's top choice to take on freshman Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in AZ-09, we goggled and fantasized about what such a matchup might look like in the flesh. But alas, it's not to be. Junior Quayle has decided against taking another bite at the potatoe, at least this cycle. Quayle is taking a job as a lobbyist at the firm of Clark Hill, but have hope, Brock Landers fans: He says he's not ruling out a return in the future.

PA-13: Ex-Rep. Marjorie Margolies just scored a major get in her unlikely comeback bid after a 20-year absence from Congress. Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, the second-ranking Democrat in the House after Nancy Pelosi, just endorsed MM in the primary. Hoyer doesn't provide boots on the ground like a union can, or offer high-profile validation the way an esteemed local leader might, but he is an excellent fundraiser who can open a lot of doors, and he has a reputation for never forgetting his friends.

Other Races:

CO Recall: Somewhat unexpectedly, the Colorado Secretary of State's office has certified a recall election against Democratic state Sen. Angelo Giron after finding that organizers submitted a sufficient number of valid signatures. Recall supporters needed approximately 11,300 and had only submitted around 13,400; 12,648 wound up passing muster. Organizers of a separate recall targeting state Senate President John Morse had almost 40 percent of their petitions invalidated, so evidently, the folks behind the anti-Giron effort did a much better job collecting signatures.

Giron is likely to file a contest with the SoS, though, much as Morse is doing, and could wind up halting the recall in its tracks. Fortunately, Giron's district (based in Pueblo) is also even bluer than Morse's, so if the process does move forward, she'd stand a good chance of turning aside this attempt to unseat her.

CO-Treas: Here's an unexpected item from the "Where Are They Now?" beat: Former one-term Rep. Betsy Markey just announced a challenge to Republican state Treasurer Walker Stapleton in 2014. She'll face Broomfield Mayor Pat Quinn, who also got into the contest on Monday, in a primary. You may recall that Markey defeated virulently anti-gay GOP Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, who still hasn't conceded the race, in Colorado's conservative 4th District in 2008.

Two years later, in another wave election, Markey was herself swept out by Republican Cory Gardner, though unlike many other vulnerable members, she had the courage to vote for the Affordable Care Act. Given the year, she likely would have lost under any set of circumstances, but now she has a shot at redemption.

Special Elections: Amazingly, there is no special election on Tuesday for the New Hampshire House of Representatives. There is one, though, in Kentucky HD-56 (PDF), a seat centered on the Bluegrass Region near Lexington and left open by Democrat Carl Rollins. The candidates are Democrat James Kay II, a well-connected local lawyer (who seems to have provided his high school yearbook picture to the Lexington Herald-Leader), Republican financier Lyen Crews, and independent candidate John-Mark Hack, a onetime aide to former Democratic Gov. Paul Patton.

The district has Democratic roots, but is also part of KY-06, which booted Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler last November; SouthernINDem offers a much more thorough examination of the race's dynamics. (Note that the election is being held under the old district lines passed over a decade ago; the legislature still hasn't come up with new maps after an effort last year was tossed by the courts.) Democrats currently control the Kentucky House by a 54-45 margin. (jeffmd)

Grab Bag:

Georgia/Utah: Following up on a pair of stories in the previous Daily Digest, Georgia Republicans have opted not to pursue switching to a party convention from a traditional primary, while Utah Democrats have done the opposite, choosing to stick with their hybrid nominating format that relies chiefly on a convention, rather than switching over entirely to a primary. In Georgia, such a move would have likely led to the party tapping E.W. Jackson-esque candidates, so the state GOP was wise to eschew the idea.

By contrast, in Utah, the convention system nearly derailed conservative Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson in 2010, forcing him into a primary with a liberal activist, Claudia Wright. Democrats didn't speak openly about wanting to protect Matheson, but reformers quite rightly point out that conventions act as elitist barriers to participation, in that they prevent working folks who can't take the time off to attend a caucus from making their voices heard. (Georgia Republicans opposed to conventions made similar points.) For now, though, the status quo prevails.

Maps: Here's a topic that hits the sweet spot for the Daily Kos Elections particular flavor of nerddom: a series of major American metro areas transformed into Risk maps (yes, the world conquest board game). However, real Risk aficionados might complain that, perhaps with the exception of the New York City battleground, these maps are a little short on the strange shapes and dubious water crossings that make Risk what it is (a game about strategic control of choke points). In any event, these maps are being developed as actual games by a company called Havoc Boards. (David Jarman)

Netroots Nation: In case you weren't able to attend the Daily Kos Elections team's horserace Q&A panel at Netroots Nation on Saturday, you can watch a video recap here. The gang—David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Kaili Joy Gray, and Jeffmd, with David Nir as moderator—took questions about races all across the country for over an hour, from audience members and via Twitter. Lots of great stuff (and several hilarious moments) at the link.

Pennsylvania: Looking for an unusual way of quantifying just how effective the GOP's gerrymander of Pennsylvania after 2010 was? The University of Minnesota's Smart Politics blog examined the historical composition of Pennyslvania's House delegation and found the percentage of the delegation controlled by the party that won the corresponding presidential election is at an all-time low. As a general indication of Pennsylvania's swinginess, the majority control of the House delegation in the state has usually correlated with which party won the presidential election.

But in 2012, Democrats won the state at the presidential level but only five of 18 House seats (27.8 percent). The only worse performance was in 1912, but that comes with a big asterisk: Teddy Roosevelt, as a Bull Moose, won the state but only two of the state's 36 representatives were Progressives. At least we aren't a 1924-type scenario, where the Republicans not only won the presidential race in the Keystone State, but also all 36 of the state's 36 House seats. (David Jarman)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Jun 25, 2013 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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