• NYC Comptroller: Oy vey. At the last possible minute, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer (who, as everyone knows, resigned in disgrace) has decided to enter the Democratic primary for New York City comptroller. The seat is open (John Liu is running for mayor), and the only major candidate in the race, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, immediately lashed out at Spitzer and accused him of trying to "buy personal redemption with his family fortune."
There are a million things one can say about this bizarre development, but I'll confine myself to just one. When Spitzer's infamous scandal broke, he didn't leave office merely because he had solicited prostitutes. He did so because he had governed awfully and arrogantly for his entire first year in office and alienated almost every friend he had. A more popular politician who hadn't cut himself off from his supporters so badly could very well have survived that disaster.
But Spitzer succeeded in destroying his own standing with the public even before anyone had heard the name Ashley Dupré, and no one wanted help him when he stumbled. So to me, the question is whether Spitzer has learned his lesson from his time as governor—what his former mentor and confidante Lloyd Constantine termed the "plague year"—and whether he's a truly humbled and changed man. I'd like to say we'll see soon enough, but with this kind of thing, we may never really know.
P.S. Xenocrypt does some deep digging and discovers that every single comptroller for the last 60 years has at some point tried to run for higher office. The track record is poor: Only two of eight have succeeded, and I use the word "succeeded" very lightly, as I wouldn't want to be either Abe Beame or Alan Hevesi.
(Disclosure: I worked on Spitzer's 1994 and 1998 campaigns for attorney general, and for the attorney general's office during his first term.)
• FL-18: Rep. Patrick Murphy (D): $520K raised, $1 mil cash-on-hand
• IL-Gov: Bruce Rauner (R): $915K raised (apparently no self-funding)
• IL-13: Rep. Rodney Davis (R): $450K raised, $700K cash-on-hand
• MA-05: Carl Sciortino (D): $200K raised
• MI-Sen: Rep. Gary Peters (D): $1 mil raised, $1.8 mil cash-on-hand
• PA-08: Kevin Strouse (D): $254K raised, $218K cash-on-hand
• PA-13: Valerie Arkoosh (D): $285K raised
• CO-Sen: Republicans finally have a Senate candidate in Colorado: State Sen. Randy Baumgardner says he'll formally launch a challenge to Sen. Mark Udall on Friday. I highly suggest you click through to check out his extraordinary 'stache.
• IA-Sen: Emily Cahn astutely takes notice of a little-known wrinkle in the Iowa GOP's nomination process: If no candidate takes 35 percent in the primary for Senate, Republicans will hold a convention to choose their standard-bearer. In the wake of E.W. Jackson's selection as the party's lieutenant governor nominee in Virginia, that word—"convention"—ought to strike fear into the hearts of GOP operatives anywhere. And with four contenders already in the field, as well as two more likely to join, Iowa could indeed wind up seeing its first such convention since 2002, when none other than Steve King prevailed over a crowded field in what was then the state's 5th Congressional District.
There are a number of details here that make Cahn's piece worth reading in full. For one, the lead up to the statewide convention involves a multi-step ordeal similar to the gantlet presidential candidates run through—and it takes place during the first half of next year, more or less simultaneously with the primary, which is on June 3. (The convention is scheduled for June 14.) What's more, Paulists now control the state GOP apparatus; that could benefit former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker in particular, and it certainly doesn't make it more likely that Republicans will pick a palatable candidate. Somewhere, Bruce Braley is smiling to himself.
• NJ-Sen: Not that it's any surprise, but the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg's family is most definitely not backing Newark Mayor Cory Booker in his bid to replace their patriarch. Rather, four of Lautenberg's children, as well as their stepmother, Bonnie, are endorsing Rep. Frank Pallone in the special Democratic primary next month. (Lautenberg's son Josh says his dad told him he "would be honored" to have Pallone succeed him.) Booker, of course, helped nudge Lautenberg toward the exits earlier this year, though much of the New Jersey Democratic establishment was not pleased with Booker's approach. Whether voters will actually care about any of this is a different question altogether.
• WY-Sen: If you've been following this story (say, in the pages of the Daily Digest), there isn't a whole lot that's newsy in this New York Times piece on the possibility that Liz Cheney might run against Sen. Mike Enzi in next year's GOP primary. It does sound, though, like Cheney is stepping up her efforts to raise her profile, touring around the state and appearing at public events whenever she can, sometimes with daddy Dick at her side.
But nearly all of the establishment-type Republicans quoted in the article seem unhappy at the prospect of a Cheney challenge, which seems predicated on the notion that Enzi simply isn't an obstructionist firebreather in the classic tea party mold. One such complainer is former Sen. Alan Simpson, who seems to understand the GOP about as well as he understands the budget deficit. Simpson says he thinks Enzi's only vulnerable "if there's a weird group of Republicans who think compromise is akin to communism." I'm not sure what remote mountain top Simpson's been living on for the past few years, but that "weird group of Republicans" is actually called "the Republican Party."
• IL-Gov: Conservative pollster We Ask America has a new poll of the GOP gubernatorial primary, but the field is pretty divided. Treasurer Dan Rutherford is in first at 22 percent, state Sen. Bill Brady takes 18 percent, venture capitalist Bruce Rauner is at 12, and state Sen. Kirk Dillard sits at 11, with 38 percent undecided.
• TX-Gov: At long last, we finally have our answer: Rick Perry will not seek a fourth full term as governor of Texas, though he did seem to hold open the possibility of another presidential run in 2016. As far as next year is concerned, though, Perry's move clears the way for state Attorney General Greg Abbott to make his own widely expected gubernatorial bid, without the messiness of a GOP primary. And with a Republican ticket headed by Abbott, who certainly has his flaws but lacks Perry's notorious personal baggage, longshot Democratic hopes of recapturing the governor's mansion likely just got longer.
• AZ-01: Freshman state Rep. Adam Kwasman, whose name initially surfaced in May, just became the first Republican to formally announce a challenge to Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick next year. Kwasman definitely has shortcomings as a candidate (not least the fact that he hails from a distant suburban outpost at the far end of this massive rural district), but Mitt Romney carried this seat 50-48, which means Kirkpatrick will have a serious race no matter what.
• FL-26: Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo says he'll formally announce a bid against freshman Rep. Joe Garcia on Tuesday, which would likely make him the most serious Republican to enter the race to date. (He's been conducting polls and assembling a finance team.) Former Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Joe Martinez claimed he'd run a long time ago, but he still hasn't filed paperwork (though he has managed to release a cologne called, amazingly enough, "The Commissioner"). Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall did actually launch his campaign back in May, but he raised just $40,000 in his first month on the trail.
• IA-01: Second-term state Rep. Anesa Kajtazovic, whose name had recently surfaced as a potential candidate for Iowa's open 1st Congressional District, announced over the weekend that she's forming an exploratory committee to look at the contest. Kajtazovic is only 26, but she has an unusual life story: She fled with her family from a refugee camp in Bosnia at the age of 10, and then became the youngest woman elected to the Iowa state House three years ago. (She also says she's the only Bosnian-American elected official in the entire country.)
If Kajtazovic does get in, she'd be joining two more experienced pols in the primary, former state House Speaker Pat Murphy and Cedar Rapids City Councilwoman Monica Vernon. Others may also get into the race in this light blue district in the northeastern part of the state.
• IA-03: It seems like Democrats have finally gotten their woman—for real, this time. Former state Sen. Staci Appel has filed paperwork to create a campaign committee with the FEC, just a few months after she announced that she would not run against GOP Rep. Tom Latham, despite reports that she would. In between, though, she met with the DCCC in Washington, so evidently, recruiters convinced her to change her mind. On paper, this seat looks like it should be very competitive for Democrats, seeing as Barack Obama carried it by a 51-47 margin last year. But Latham's political skills are considerable, and he ran almost 13 net points ahead of Mitt Romney while defeating fellow incumbent Leonard Boswell, so Appel will have her work cut out for her.
• IL-17: Ex-Rep. Bobby Schilling, who said last month that he was "leaning toward" a comeback bid, has officially launched his campaign for a rematch against freshman Democrat Cheri Bustos. Schilling is hoping that midterm turnout will boost his chances in this 58-41 Obama district, but there's almost no way he'll see a return to the kind of electorate that powered him to an improbable victory in 2010.
• MA-06: Iraq vet Seth Moulton, who considered running in MA-06 as an independent last year, says he'll challenge Rep. John Tierney in the Democratic primary this time. Tierney, of course, only narrowly escaped with his political life in 2012, after getting relentlessly hounded over his wife's tax evasion conviction, even though there was never any evidence linking him to her misdeeds.
Meanwhile, Moulton, a Marine, calls himself "fairly centrist," which is not usually a recipe for winning a Democratic primary. (See Stephen Lynch's failed bid for Senate earlier this year.) But Tierney's baggage, fairly or not, throws a wrench into the standard calculus, because some Democrats might conclude they're better off with a less damaged alternative in a general election, even if he's less progressive. It's been a long time since an incumbent lost a primary in Massachusetts—1992, in fact, when Marty Meehan beat Chet Atkins. But as analyst Peter Ubertaccio points out, Atkins, much like Tierney, barely survived his 1990 re-election campaign, so that may augur for an upset.
• ME-02: Toward the end of a piece on the collapse of the Maine Republican Party (their chair and vice chair both just resigned, only seven months into the job) comes confirmation from former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin that he's looking at a possible run for Congress next year. Poliquin says he's also been asked to take over the state party, but either way, it definitely sounds like he's not considering a primary challenge to Sen. Susan Collins, which sadly always seemed like the slimmest of hopes to begin with.
• OH Ballot: It looks like FreedomOhio is forging ahead with plans to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot next year that would overturn a 2004 amendment that banned same-sex marriage in the state. They also secured the support of a high-profile Republican on Monday, former state AG Jim Petro. But according to Nate Silver's projections, a majority of Ohioans may not be ready to support marriage equality by 2014.
What's more, FreedomOhio appeared to jump the gun last month, announcing that a coalition of national marriage groups stood ready to assist the campaign, only to have those same organizations issue a statement distancing themselves from the effort. (An official from the Human Rights Campaign said FreedomOhio's Ian James "must have attended a different meeting than the rest of us.") So it's not clear if everyone's reconciled, or if FreedomOhio is going it alone. Either way, they still have a high initial hurdle to clear: They need to submit over 385,000 valid signatures by July of next year.
• Maps: Here's a great map of how that most important of words, beer, is spoken throughout Europe. There are pretty much four main linguistic regions: beer (western/central Europe, Greece, Black Sea); ale (Scandinavia, Baltics); pivo (Russia, eastern Europe, Balkans), and cerveza (Iberian peninsula). There are a few oddballs (like Hungary, where it's called sör), but the most divided area is the British Isles, where beer and ale compete with four other options, like the Welsh "cwrw." But at the end of the day, we're all drinking delicious suds.
• NC Redistricting: A panel of three state-level judges has upheld the legislative and congressional maps passed by North Carolina Republicans in 2011, though an appeal to the state supreme court seems likely. (A PDF of the full decision is available here.) I wouldn't hold out a lot of hope for a better outcome, though, seeing as the state high court features four Republican judges versus just three Democrats. But given the federal constitutional issues at stake here, it's also possible that this case could ultimately wind up at the U.S. Supreme Court. Then again, I wouldn't hold out a lot of hope there, either.