9:32 AM PT: TX-Gov: Wendy Davis may have achieved progressive rockstar status last week with her instantly famous filibuster that temporarily thwarted Republican efforts to restrict abortion access, but Texas still has a ways to go before it'll be ready to elect her governor, at least according to PPP's new poll. Her 39-29 favorability rating is quite good for a Democratic state senator whom few people had heard of half a year ago (she was at 15-19 in January). But Texas's demographics, and Gov. Rick Perry's improved standing—his 45-50 job approval is up from 41-54 previously—place her well behind in head-to-head matchups.
PPP pitted Davis, along with San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, Houston Mayor Annise Parker, and 2010 nominee Bill White against both Perry and his likely primary opponent, state AG Greg Abbott. The numbers in the chart below list Republicans first, with trendlines from January in parentheses:
There are a few things to note here, though, and they're a reminder of why you should never accept a single poll as gospel truth. First off, some of the swings since January are big—really big. White, a former Houston mayor himself, was actually up 3 points on Perry in the prior survey, yet now he's down 10. Thirteen points is quite the shift, and there isn't really a good way to explain it, beyond concluding that the previous poll was too optimistic for Democrats, or the current one too pessimistic.
Another is the fact that Davis comes closest to Abbott yet also somehow drives Perry to his highest vote share. That's something we didn't see in January. Is it possible that, as Perry's new number one bête noire, she inspires a few extra voters to pick sides against her, but only when they're paired? It would be a strange phenomenon, but I'm hard-pressed for an explanation; you don't typically see a candidate perform the best against one guy but second-worst against another.
As for Perry, he's doing better when matched against Abbott in a GOP primary. The incumbent now leads 46-34, compared to a 41-38 squeaker in January. Still, Abbott has an absurd war chest (far larger than Perry's), and plenty of ambition, so I'd expect him to forge ahead. After all, like I say, this is just one poll, and it has some definite quirks. That said, I'm more inclined to believe it than the prior one. Texas may be slowly trending the right way, but I think we've got a long way to go. And as much as I'd like to see Wendy Davis tear Rick Perry to shreds, I think we aren't quite there yet.
1:26 PM PT: WV-01: This isn't exactly breaking news, but we hadn't mentioned this guy before, so I figured we ought to now. Anyhow, longtime state Auditor Glen Gainer is considering a run against sophomore GOP Rep. David McKinley, and it would be a free shot for Gainer since he's not up for re-election until 2014. But at 62-36 Romney, the 1st is a pretty darn inhospitable district for Democrats, even though Team Blue held this seat decades until McKinley won. I also have to wonder how a statewide official who has served for 20 years, like Gainer, can somehow not have a Wikipedia page at this point in history.
1:33 PM PT: State Legislatures: We've been talking a bit more about state legislative races lately, in large part because Democrats now have the chance to reverse some of the gains the GOP made in 2010, especially in several blue states where they hold the ignominious trifecta (the state House, the state Senate, and the governor's mansion). Steve Singiser made the case for this new focus in an essay last weekend, and now community member CF of Aus has taken things one step further, with an awesome compilation of Daily Kos user posts on legislatures across the country. There are still many states not represented on CF's list, though, so if you have local knowledge of your home state's legislature, now is the time to start sharing it with others, so that we can best direct our efforts for 2014.
2:04 PM PT: HI-Sen: In the wake of a new independent poll from Merriman River showing Sen. Brian Schatz with a 36-33 lead over Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in the Democratic primary, EMILY's List has come out with numbers of their own saying that it just ain't so. The group (which is backing Hanabusa) showed Politico the topline from an early June Clarity Campaigns survey that has Hanabusa up 46-35.
But Schatz's camp responded by saying no, it really is so. Schatz's own late June polling, from the Mellman Group, has the two candidates tied at 37 apiece. Mellman also says that Hanabusa has higher name rec, 86 percent to 71 percent, and while they don't provide favorability breakdowns, they do add that Schatz leads 47-34 among the two thirds of the electorate that's familiar with both contenders.
2:57 PM PT: Deaths: Former Philadelphia Rep. Bill Gray died unexpectedly on Monday while attending Wimbledon at the age of 71. Gray was first elected to Congress in 1978 when he was still in his 30s, quickly rising through the ranks and becoming one of the most powerful black elected officials in the country. That made his resignation in 1991 to become head of the United Negro College Fund something of a headscratcher, though some never-proven financial irregularities may have hastened his exit.
Gray's departure was also followed by a wild three-way special election in the 2nd District later that year. The race pitted three prominent Democrats against one other, including two who ran on third-party lines because they failed to secure their own party's endorsement. The victor was Lucien Blackwell, who took 40 percent, while John White and Chakah Fattah split the rest evenly. But wait, you might be wondering—doesn't Fattah represent PA-02 these days? He does indeed, because he whooped Blackwell in a primary three years later.
3:01 PM PT: AK-AL: Despite his age, his constant ethical troubles, and his occasional bouts of foot-in-mouth disease, GOP Rep. Don Young has announced that he's filing paperwork to seek a 21st term in Congress.
3:02 PM PT: IA-04: Iraq vet Jim Mowrer, who has been considering a bid since April, has now made his campaign to challenge GOP Rep. Steve King official. This is a brutally inhospitable district for Democrats, but there's always a chance that King says something even his own, mostly conservative, constituents can't forgive him for, so at least Mowrer will be able to take advantage of any Akin moments that may arise.
5:05 PM PT: CO-Sen: State Sen. Owen Hill, who is all of 31 years old and was first elected to office just last year, says he's "talking about" a possible run against Sen. Mark Udall and expects to decide in the next two weeks. Another Republican, failed 2010 nominee Ken Buck, is also "talking about" the race, which would represent a change of direction for him, since he seemed to have his eye on the open attorney general's seat. However, the GOP has yet to find someone to actually say yes to a bid, though there are still a few other potential names in the mix, including state Rep. Amy Stephens, state Sen. Randy Baumgardner, ex-Rep. Bob Beauprez.
"Gov. Corbett is going to go on the road the next couple of months, and he's good outside the Beltway," said David Patti, president of the Pennsylvania Business Council. "People out there like him. They don't read polls, and they don't care. They don't know that they've been told not to like him."And why the loserspeak? It's not just those god-awful poll numbers. The legislative session just ended, and even though Corbett's fellow Republicans control both chambers, they failed to enact any of his three major agenda items: privatization of liquor sales, pension reform, and increased infrastructure funding. It's enough to make you wonder why this guy even wants another term in office.
5:20 PM PT: 2Q Fundraising:
• IA-Sen: Rep. Bruce Braley: $1.3 mil raised, $2 mil cash-on-hand
5:55 PM PT: KY-Sen: So I originally wasn't going to post this bizarre Mitch McConnell web video, mostly because I refuse to watch it myself and because I generally have a thing against posting web videos. But based on the extremely strong reaction in comments, this one sounds so epically bad—maybe even Demon Sheep bad?—that I figure I might as well share it and let each of you decide whether to destroy a few precious brain cells on it. Up to you!