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Leading Off:

CO Recall: Ugh. Here we go again. Buoyed by their victories over two Democratic state senators in recall elections last month, Colorado Republicans are pushing ahead with a third such effort. Their latest target is state Sen. Evie Hudak, who represents the 19th District in suburban Denver, though a previous attempt to recall Hudak failed earlier this year for a lack of signatures. Hudak's district is up during presidential years, which means it sees much greater turnout than seats elected in midterm years, like those that once belonged to former state Sens. John Morse and Angela Giron. Consequently, organizers require about 19,000 signatures to move forward—far more than they needed for the earlier recalls.

But conservatives have energy on their side, and what's more, Democrats now run the Senate with a bare 18-17 margin. A single victory will hand control over to the GOP, and that should help money flow. Indeed, Hudak's seat is much less blue than the Giron and Morse districts. According to Daily Kos Elections' calculations, Barack Obama only carried the 19th by a 52-45 margin, compared to the 58 to 59 percent he earned in the other two seats. That puts Hudak in the fourth-reddest district held by a Democrat in Colorado, making it a legitimate target for Republicans.

What's more, Hudak's own victories have both been very narrow. In her first campaign in 2008, she won by just a 51-49 spread; last year, things got even tighter, with a mere 584-vote victory that a represented a margin of less than 0.8 percent. She's also stumbled publicly this year on the hot-button issue of guns, telling a rape victim who testified before a Senate committee that "statistics are not on your side even if you had a gun." Correct or not, Hudak received a lot of grief for her remarks and later apologized.

Hudak is term-limited, and she could conceivably resign, which would annul the recall and allow Democrats to appoint a replacement. But her seat doesn't go before voters until 2016, so Republicans could very well try to recall her successor. As we said after the earlier recalls, the bottom line here for Democrats is that they've evolved into a party capable of awesome voter turnout when there's a presidential election, but one that sucks in off years. If Republicans can force a recall here, this will be a very difficult hold for Team Blue, but this is a problem that goes much deeper than just this race or this state. It's the biggest electoral issue that Democrats have to address going forward, and the time to do so was yesterday.

But here's some interesting pushback against the idea of a Hudak recall, from an unlikely source, state GOP chair Ryan Call. Call's assessment is pretty blunt: He thinks Republicans will get hurt at the ballot box next year "if voters perceive that Republicans are trying to win a majority through recalls." With a competitive governor's race and control of the legislature potentially up for grabs, it makes sense to prioritize a whole bunch of regular elections over a single recall. Also, Call may not want to hand Dem Gov. John Hickenlooper an obstreperous GOP-run Senate he can run against next year.

And what about fighting fire with fire? Democrats might be tempted to use the same mechanism to go after some vulnerable Senate Republicans, but unfortunately, the targets are slim. Apart from the two GOP victors in last month's recalls, no Republicans sit in any districts won by Obama. The Republican with the most marginal district is Scott Renfroe, whose Weld County district went for Romney 50-48. Next up is Randy Baumgardner, who is running for the U.S. Senate and is the incumbent in a Western Slope district that went red 50-47.

The short list gets even less favorable after that. David Balmer's suburban Denver district went for Romney 51-47, and Larry Crowder's large rural district is 52-46 Romney. All four of these districts are redder than any state House or Senate seat held by Team Blue, and we would face the same challenges of off-year turnout as we faced last month and would have to deal with again in the event of a Hudak recall. (David Nir & Jeff Singer)

3Q Fundraising:

MI-Sen: Terri Lynn Land (R): $2.05 million raised (including $1 million in self-funding)

IL-Gov: Gov. Pat Quinn (D): $812,000 raised, $3 million cash-on-hand

FL-26: Carlos Curbelo (R): $450,000 raised, $420,000 cash-on-hand

WV-02: Nick Casey (D): $150,000 raised, $518,000 cash-on-hand


NC-Sen: Biden Alert! The VPOTUS is headed to Durham, North Carolina later this month to headline a fundraiser for freshman Sen. Kay Hagan. The event looks like it's being co-hosted by the DSCC.

NJ-Sen: Apparently motivated by fears about Cory Booker's "bumpy campaign and shrinking lead in the polls" (in the phrasing of the New York Times), NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg's super PAC, Independence USA, is spending $1 million to air an ad aimed at shoring up the Democrat, just a week ahead of the special election. The spot praises Booker's bipartisanship (while featuring a still of Mark Zuckerberg!) and his efforts to crack down on illegal guns.

Those are both things that Bloomberg, a longtime Booker fan, appreciates—and, of course, they also share similar affinities for Wall Street. That explains why Bloomberg, of all people, would get involved here, but what about the need for anyone's involvement to begin with? Does Republican Steve Lonegan really have a chance? While some public polls have been closer than they ought to be, the narrowest gap any has shown was 12 points in Booker's favor. If he's really on the verge of pulling a Coakley, the DSCC hasn't sounded any alarm bells. But given Democratic underperformance in a host of recent special elections, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the final result is a lot closer than Booker might like.

WY-Sen: A conservative group called the American Principles Fund is running a new ad that paints Republican Liz Cheney as a gay marriage-lovin' libruhl who's right at home on MSNBC, "the go-to network for Barack Obama and Washington's liberal elites." Cheney claims she's "not pro-gay marriage," but she thinks the issue "must be decided by the states," which is quite a bit squishier than the usual rock-ribbed fundamentalist position of "one man, one woman."

Cheney is trying to unseat GOP Sen. Mike Enzi in the primary, whom APF is obviously trying to help out here. There's no word on the size of the buy, though it doesn't take much to get your ad seen in Wyoming.


NC-Gov: Yowza! Tarheel Democrats must really feel that Gov. Pat McCrory has already irredeemably wounded himself, because state Attorney General Roy Cooper, who's frequently considered bids for higher office but has always turned them down, is already saying that he "plans" to run for governor in 2016. (Cooper offered that comment after delivering a speech in which he bashed McCrory in remarkably partisan terms.)

Now plans, of course, have a funny way of changing, but Cooper is not alone in gearing up for this contest three years ahead of time, and he may be attempting to clear the field. Former state Rep. Kenneth Spaulding has said he'll run, while former Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker adds that he's interested, too. Same for state Sen. Josh Stein, though he also previously said he'd defer to Cooper. And it's worth noting that this seat will next be up in a presidential year. Democrats are likely to compete for North Carolina once again in the race for the White House, which ought to aid the party downballot as well.

PA-Gov: Another really weird poll.

VA-Gov: The Virginia Democratic Party is running a new Spanish-language ad that hammers Republican Ken Cuccinelli over immigration. The spot features a bizarre clip of Cuccinelli from a radio appearance last year in which he claimed that Washington, D.C. supposed pest control policies were "worse than our immigration policy." And speaking of outside spending, the Smart Media Group has put together a chart of all TV and radio expenditures from all sources in the race, and they find that Democrats have outspent Republicans $9.1 million to $7.5 million.

WI-Gov: After considering the race for at least three months, Madison school board member Mary Burke has finally decided to challenge Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Burke is a former executive at Trek Bicycle, the company founded by her father, and she served as head of the Wisconsin Department of Commerce under Gov. Jim Doyle from 2005 to 2007.

Burke's only electoral experience was her school board campaign last year, and she has minimal name recognition, but she has one virtue other Wisconsin Democrats lack: She's actually willing to run against Walker. She's also personally wealthy and could self-fund, though (as is typically the case with rich candidates) she hasn't committed to any specific dollar figure. But a recent PPP poll found Walker with a 48-42 edge, so if that's accurate, Burke has a tough fight ahead of her. Daily Kos Elections currently rates the contest as Likely Republican.

P.S. Burke has a welcome video here.


IL-13: The House Majority PAC has added GOP Rep. Rodney Davis to the list of Republicans they're targeting with TV ads over the shutdown. This spot is similar to one HMP debuted last week against Ohio Rep. David Joyce, featuring a crying baby while the narrator accuses Davis of "throwing a tantrum just to score political points."

MA-05: A week ahead of Tuesday's Democratic primary, state Sen. Katherine Clark is airing her third TV ad, in which she makes the case that "[w]omen's issues are family issues."

MI-03: The other week, we took note of businessman Brian Ellis, who is reportedly considering a primary challenge to lone wolf GOP Rep. Justin Amash. Now another Republican, state Sen. Mark Jansen, says he's looking at a bid, too. As we often point out in this sort of situation, if both Jansen and Ellis run, that might actually be good news for the libertarian Amash. That's because they could split the anti-Amash vote and allow him to survive the primary with a plurality—what we call getting saved by the clown car.

MI-14: State Sen. Vincent Gregory just joined the crowded field of Democrats looking to replace Rep. Gary Peters, who is running for Senate. Already in the race in this safe blue district are state Rep. Rudy Hobbs; Jessica McCall, a former staffer to ex-Gov. Jennifer Granholm; Lathrup Village Councilwoman Kelly Garrett; and former Obama Energy Dept. official Steve Dunwoody.

NE-02: If the true test of a man's character is what he does when no one is watching, then the worst test of a man's character is what he does when everybody piles on him for being a colossal jerk. Which is to say, Republican Rep. Lee Terry gets zero points for apologizing for being a total jagoff when he offered these sneering comments on the federal government shutdown last week:

Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., was blunt when asked if he would continue collecting his paychecks during the shutdown.

"Dang straight," he said. [...]

"But you know what? I've got a nice house and a kid in college, and I'll tell you we cannot handle it. Giving our paycheck away when you still worked and earned it? That's just not going to fly."

Terry, who only won re-election by 2 points last year against an underfunded opponent, issued a defiant statement on Friday night blaming Democrats for the shutdown. But, perhaps remembering how politically vulnerable he is, Terry climbed down from Mount Schmuckmore on Monday:
"The other day I made a statement that I would put my needs above others in crisis," Terry said in his Sunday statement. "I'm ashamed of my comments. It was not leadership. It is not how I was raised. It is not the nature of my character. It is not what I want to teach my sons. I apologize for my hurtful remarks when so many others are feeling the pain of Washington's dysfunction."
No matter how ashamed Terry claims to feel, that won't stop Democrats from reminding voters that "dang straight" he was gonna keep collecting his pay while 800,000 furloughed federal employees went without.

NY-01: Republicans landed their preferred candidate to take on Rep. Tim Bishop on Monday, with state Sen. Lee Zeldin's entry into the race. Zeldin lost to Bishop 58-42 at the tender age of 26 in 2008, but two years later, he unseated Democratic state Sen. Brian Foley in the GOP wave, and he comes to this rematch as a much more legit contender. Bishop's reputation, meanwhile, has taken a hit, with the House Ethics Committee investigating allegations that Bishop solicited contributions from a wealthy donor in exchange for help in securing a permit for a private fireworks display in the Hamptons.

Zeldin, however, faces a primary with attorney George Demos, who just entered a few days ago (likely forcing Zeldin's hand) and has already injected a million bucks of his own money into his campaign. Demos has two failed congressional bids to his name, but he's likely to keep Zeldin "honest" in the primary by forcing him to his right. And I'll be especially curious to see how Zeldin handles tough questions about the shutdown. But make no mistake: Bishop's re-election in this very swingy district just got harder.

There is a silver lining for Democrats, though, since Zeldin's state Senate seat will now be open and as I noted above, Dems held this district for a term before Zeldin's victory. However, if Zeldin loses the primary, he'd have a crack at running for the Senate again, since New York conducts its federal and state primaries three months apart. It's an absurd waste of resources, but you can see why incumbents in Albany like it this way.

Other Races:

Boston Mayor: We have our first independent general election poll of the race, courtesy of Suffolk University. It finds City Councilor John Connolly up 41-34 over state Rep. Marty Walsh, a somewhat tighter spread than the 44 to 32 lead a Connolly internal poll showed last week. While voters regard both men well, Connolly's 62-14 favorability rating slightly outpaces Walsh's 55-16 score. (Darth Jeff)

WI-AG: This is a bit down in the weeds, but Wisconsin's Republican attorney general, J.B. Van Hollen, just announced that he won't seek a third term next year. That gives Democrats (a few of whom have already expressed interest in running) a shot at a pickup here. The last time this seat was open, in 2006, Van Hollen only won by half a percent against Democrat Kathleen Falk. Van Hollen has also been responsible for defending the state in many lawsuits challenging legislation passed by GOP Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans in the legislature; it's possible that a Democratic AG could decline to litigate some of these cases, as California's Kamala Harris chose to do with the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8.

Grab Bag:

Pres-by-LD: Today we take a look at New Jersey, home of Bruce Springsteen, the setting of some random show on MTV, and the state where the entire legislature is up for election this November. (As always, you can find our complete set of elections results by state legislative district here.)

Summary Detailed Calculations
State CD LD (Upper) LD (Lower) CD LD (Upper) LD (Lower)
NJ X X Pres.; Sen. Pres.; Sen. (coterminous)

The Garden State is one of just a handful whose upper and lower houses use the exact same lines, with each district home to two assemblymembers and one senator. Almost every district elects all three of their legislators from the same party. There are only two exceptions: the South Jersey based LD-02 (Obama 60-39), where two Republican assemblymembers join one Democratic senator; and the Burlington-county based LD-07 (Obama 64-35), where moderate GOP Sen. Diane Allen is accompanied by two Democrats in the Assembly.

With Gov. Chris Christie on the verge of winning a landslide re-election victory, a number of Republicans hope (and Democrats fear) that Christie's coattails could net the GOP the nine Assembly seats and five Senate seats it would need to flip either chamber. Two big factors stand in the way of an across-the-board GOP victory. One, generic legislative ballots show that despite wanting to give Christie another term, voters plan to vote Democratic down-ballot. And two, the commission that drew this decade's legislative lines picked the Democratic plan. (The congressional map was unfortunately another story.)

Looking at the map seat-by-seat underscores the fact that while a GOP takeover of one or both chambers is possible, it won't be easy. To win a majority, Republicans would need to hold quite a bit more blue territory than they currently do. Republicans hold all three slots in three Obama LDs (no Democrat represents any seat that Romney won), the most Democratic being the Monmouth-county based LD-11 (55-44 Obama). This is still a bit to the right of the median districts, the Democratic-held LD-14 (Obama 57-41), and the aforementioned LD-02. While LD-02 and LD-07 demonstrate that the GOP can hold some dark-blue turf, winning nine Assembly districts and five Senate districts—which they'd need to take majorities—is a tall order. (Darth Jeff)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos and Firearms Law and Policy.

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