• NY-St. Sen: This is potentially very big news. New York City Councilman Oliver Koppell, who also once briefly served as state attorney general, says he isn't ruling out a primary challenge to state Sen. Jeff Klein, the renegade Democrat who leads the breakaway faction that handed control of the Senate to the GOP this year, even though Democrats won a majority of seats in the chamber last November. Klein would be hard to beat, but Koppell has the profile (and liberal bona fides) to pull it off, especially if labor were to get behind him.
Koppell is term-limited, so next year, he'll be out of office and perhaps looking for something to do. He's also reportedly met with the state-level DSCC about a potential bid, and he openly has negative things to say about Klein's betrayal. However, Koppell is 72 years old and cautions that "at the moment I have no plans" to run. But if he does make a go of it, this could be one of the most exciting legislative primaries for progressives in the nation.
• ME-Sen: Unsurprisingly, even if Republican Sen. Susan Collins drew a top-tier opponent next year, she'd still be in dominant shape, according to PPP. Collins leads Dem Rep. Chellie Pingree 57-34, author (and Democrat) Stephen King 54-31, and independent attorney Eliot Cutler (who is running for governor) 53-33. If Collins were to retire, though—and note, she still hasn't uttered the magic words "I'm running for re-election"—the situation would almost immediately reverse itself. In a hypothetical matchup, Pingree would defeat Republican Bruce Poliquin 47-33, turning Maine into the number one Democratic pickup opportunity of the cycle.
Sadly, it seems that Collins isn't going anywhere, except under her own free will. In a now-moot primary test, Collins would blast Poliquin, a former state treasurer, 64-24. But Poliquin was always unlikely to challenge Collins, and now he definitely won't, since he just announced a House bid. Late though it is, perhaps Collins will still bail, much like Olympia Snowe did last year. Or maybe President Obama will nominate her to run the Department of Homeland Security. But unless and until Collins departs the scene, there's really not much to see here.
• TN-Sen: Sen. Lamar Alexander is, Mitch McConnell-style, rolling out some internal polling to argue that, despite tea partier anger, he doesn't face a major threat in next year's Republican primary. Lamar! leads his recently announced challenger, state Rep. Joe Carr, by a 64-22 margin, according to North Star Opinion Research. But like McConnell's pollster, Voter/Consumer Research, North Star had some major misses last year, particularly one survey of MI-09 which showed Dem Rep. Sandy Levin with just a 44-42 lead over his Some Dude Republican opponent. Levin won by 28.
• CT-Gov: Republican state Sen. Toni Boucher, who'd been weighing a bid for governor since at least March, now says she's forming an exploratory committee. Boucher had also been vaguely entertaining a run against Dem Rep. Jim Himes in CT-04, so presumably that's now off the table.
• AL-01: The conservative outside group GOPAC (which Newt Gingrich once chaired!) is going on the air with a small $30,000 buy on behalf of state Rep. Chad Fincher in the special election to replace ex-Rep. Jo Bonner. The spot says that Fincher "defeated the liberals and the teachers union," a frequent bugbear in Alabama Republican politics.
• CA-17: The Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America are touting a new poll from Public Policy Polling of the Democrat-on-Democrat race in California's 17th Congressional District, where the PCCC's been raising money for veteran Rep. Mike Honda. PPP finds Honda with a 49-15 lead over former Commerce Department official Ro Khanna, with 36 percent undecided. That's a bit tighter than the only other poll we've seen of the race, Lake Research internal from Honda which gave him a 57-5 advantage. However, Honda's survey also included 2012 Republican candidate Evelyn Li, to simulate California's top-two primary. (Li took 12.)
But given Khanna's monster fundraising—he has $1.7 million in the bank—it's unlikely that he won't make it to the general election, especially since he's running largely to Honda's right, which means he could hoover up a lot of Republican votes in the primary. That still leaves Khanna with exactly the same problem he faced on day one, though: This is a dark blue seat that gave 72 percent of its vote to Barack Obama. Many things will likely change between now and November of next year, including the size of Honda's lead, but the district's demographics won't.
• FL-18: Even though freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy ought to be a top GOP target, yet another prominent Republican is saying no to the race, state Rep. Gayle Harrell. However, former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, who unsuccessfully ran in the neighboring 22nd District last year, is reportedly eyeing a bid. Since he'd likely be an NRCC favorite if he got in, perhaps Harrell is pre-emptively deferring. Three Republicans are already running: ex-state Rep. Carl Domino, Juno Beach Councilwoman Ellen Andel, and 2006 Connecticut GOP Senate nominee Alan Schlesinger.
• WV-03: The NRCC's latest silly season ad hits Dem Rep. Nick Rahall on environmental issues, saying he "betrayed" West Virginia by allegedly voting in favor of a "carbon tax," and by standing "with Pelosi at the EPA while environmentalists praised Obama's war on coal." There's no word on the size of the buy, beyond a note that this was part of a $150,000 multi-media purchase targeting nine different Democrats.
• CO Recall: Or not. It turns out that Libertarian Jan Brooks failed to submit enough valid signatures in the recall election of state Sen. John Morse, so contrary to an early report we cited in the previous Digest, she won't be appearing on the ballot after all. That means that on the "pick a replacement" question voters will encounter after the "do you want to recall your state senator" question, the only option will remain Republican Bernie Herpin. (Same for state Sen. Angela Giron's district: The only alternative is Republican George Rivera.)
Fundraising reports for the period of June 30 through Aug. 22 have also just been filed, and Democrats, in theory, have raised far more than Republicans. Morse and Giron took in over $600,000 each, with Mike Bloomberg personally splitting $350,000 between the two candidates. Daily Kos, through ActBlue, has also raised almost $100,000 for each in small donations.
But while the GOP committees have taken in pitiful sums, the Colorado Springs Gazette notes that most Republican advertising has come from non-profits, which don't have to disclose their donors or spending. The one conservative group to reveal their expenditures was the NRA, which laid out just over $100,000 during the reporting period.
• Mobile, AL: In a somewhat surprising development, businessman Sandy Stimpson defeated two-term Mayor Sam Jones, Mobile's first African-American mayor, by a 53-47 margin on Tuesday night. Stimpson is white and ran on what he called a "One Mobile" platform, though reports indicate that turnout was relatively low in predominantly black precincts and high in heavily white areas, which likely aided him. Stimpson also widely outraised the incumbent, so the final result is not entirely shocking, even though Mobile is a majority-black city.
• NYC Mayor: Hel-lo! With less than two weeks to go until the Democratic primary for mayor, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is just crushing it in Quinnipiac's newest poll. De Blasio now takes 36 percent, versus 21 for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and 20 for former Comptroller Bill Thompson. In mid-August, when de Blasio first moved into the lead, he stood at 30, with Quinn at 24 and Thompson at 22. (Amusingly, ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner is now down to just 8 percent support.)
The fact that de Blasio keeps surging upward even as attacks against him have multiplied is a very positive sign for his campaign. And just as notable is how close he's getting to 40 percent, the magic number needed to avoid a runoff. Even if there is a second round, though, de Blasio would fare very well, according to Quinnipiac: He'd beat Quinn 59-30 and Thompson 52-36.
Quinn's fade, incidentally, has been pretty remarkable. In an unlikely runoff with Thompson, she'd also get crushed, 57-33. And as Taniel points out, almost half of her supporters acknowledge there's a "good chance" they might wind up voting for someone else, versus just a little over a quarter of de Blasio and Thompson voters who say the same thing.
Of course, in the event of a runoff, the anti-de Blasio forces in the business community and elsewhere will rally together much more forcefully than they have to date. But if his momentum continues, they may have already missed their only opportunity to thwart him.
• SD Mayor: Several potential candidates in the upcoming special election to replace Bob Filner as mayor of San Diego have already said they won't run, while a few others say they're considering bids. In the "no" camp are two Republicans—DA Bonnie Dumanis (who finished fourth in last year's mayoral primary) and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith—and three Democrats: Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins, ex-state Sen. Christine Kehoe, and ex-City Councilwoman Donna Frye.
The main "maybes" for Republicans are City Councilman Kevin Faulconer, former City Councilman Carl DeMaio (last year's runner-up), and County Supervisor Ron Roberts. City Council President Todd Gloria, a Democrat who will soon become interim mayor, is also reportedly looking at the race, while ex-Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher appears to be all-in.
• Special Elections: Even though Obama won Maine's SD-19 by 16 points, Johnny Longtorso said this one might be close, and it was. Democrats narrowly hung on to the seat, with businesswoman Eloise Vitelli defeating Republican ex-state Sen. Paula Benoit by a 49.6 to 46.6 margin, while Green Daniel Stromgren took 3.8 percent.
Meanwhile, attorney Marlon Kimpson defeated former Charleston City Councilman Maurice Washington by better than 2-to-1 in the Democratic runoff in South Carolina's SD-42. Kimpson will be a lock in the October 1 general election.
• St. Petersburg, FL: It looks like Democrats may have a good shot at picking up the mayor's office in Florida's fourth-largest city, St. Petersburg, this fall, for the first time since 1975. In an ostensibly non-partisan primary on Tuesday night, Republican incumbent Bill Foster only narrowly edged former state Rep. Rick Kriseman, 41 to 39. While the race isn't necessarily being fought on strict partisan grounds, the third-place finisher, former City Councilor Kathleen Ford, is also a Democrat and ran an anti-establishment campaign; her voters are more likely to wind up with Kriseman than Foster in November.
P.S. Cartography wizard Kenton Ngo also offers a great precinct-level map of St. Pete's returns.
• MI-St. Sen: We don't usually cover state legislative votes, but the passage of Medicaid expansion through a Republican-controlled chamber is worth examining, especially once equipped with our Pres-by-LD dataset. The eight Republicans who joined Democrats in passing the bill can be broken down into two main groups: those retiring and therefore not subject to political pressures, and those in vulnerable districts particularly subject to political pressures.
Randy Richardville and Roger Kahn are both term-limited in 2014 and were therefore free to vote their conscience. The same applies to Howard Walker, who is eligible for re-election but has already announced his retirement.
In contrast, Tory Rocca (likely running for re-election in SD-10), Jim Marleau (SD-12), and Mike Kowall (SD-15) will all be running for re-election in competitive Metro Detroit districts. Similarly, Goeff Hansen (SD-34) and Tom Casperson (SD-38), who cast the deciding vote, will find themselves seeking new terms in swing territory. Casperson's Upper Peninsula-based SD-38, in particular, is known to be ancestrally Democratic. All five districts voted for Debbie Stabenow; Hansen's SD-34 voted 53-46 for Obama and the other four all gave Obama between 47 and 49 percent.
This classification isn't perfect, though. There are several Republicans in similarly competitive districts who were either principled or politically tone-deaf (depending on your point of view) and voted "no" anyway. (Alternatively, they recognized the political risks and chose to roll the dice.) Notably, Patrick Colbeck, who has been outspoken about his opposition, would likely be running in the evenly split SD-07. Dave Hildenbrand, in the Grand Rapids-based SD-29, faces an electorate that voted 53-46 for Obama. (jeffmd)