• CO Recall: In the face of a likely recall election, Democratic state Sen. Evie Hudak has opted to resign, a move that short-circuits the recall effort. A Hudak loss would have handed control of the Senate to Republicans, who are now just one seat shy of the majority following two successful recalls of other Democratic lawmakers earlier this year. Now, however, the recall won't take place, and Democrats will be able to appoint a replacement (though that person will have to seek re-election in 2014, whereas Hudak would have served until 2016).
Hudak's decision, while highly unusual, isn't actually that surprising, and we discussed this very possibility when news of a new recall drive first emerged. Hudak's seat is only light blue, and she won both of her prior races by very narrow margins, plus she was also term-limited. Given the ugly dropoff in Democratic turnout in the prior recalls, she'd have been looking at steep odds. Instead, she decided to truly take one for the team.
But while Democrats will retain their majority, the gun activists who have forced and threatened all of these recalls can claim another victim. They have reason to feel energized, and they could very well look for a different recall target; given the number of Democrats who occupy marginal seats, conservatives have plenty of other alternatives. As we've said repeatedly since the first two recalls, this falloff in Democratic performance in non-presidential races is a deeply disturbing phenomenon, given that it's now gone so far as to turn lawmakers out of office without even conducting an election! Who out there is working on fixing this?
• AR-Sen: Republican Rep. Tom Cotton's latest ad features his mother touting his military service. Somewhat surprisingly (to me, anyway), she also mentions that he went to Harvard! Meanwhile, Americans United for Change is attacking Cotton with an ad of their own, featuring an angle I don't recall seeing before. The spot criticizes Cotton for supporting legislation that would allegedly allow "big banks" to charge higher fees for mortgages and allow them to "reopen the same old loopholes that led to the subprime mortgage disaster." The production values aren't great, but the subject matter strikes me as potentially potent.
• PA-Sen: PPP takes a very early look at GOP Sen. Pat Toomey's re-election prospects in 2016. Toomey's tied with ex-Rep. Joe Sestak, his 2010 opponent who has already announced his intention to seek a rematch, at 42 apiece. He also trails state AG Kathleen Kane 46-42. A Quinnipiac poll from June had Toomey up 42-37 over Sestak.
• WY-Sen: Americans for Job Security, a conservative group, is harassing Republican Sen. Mike Enzi with a new ad that attacks him for... supporting Obamacare? Yeah, Enzi's gone right along with the repeal crowd from day one, but he made the mistake of saying "I like the exchanges" and "these exchanges can be good" at a White House health care event three years ago. Bet he wishes he could unsay that now.
• NJ-03: We have two more Republicans who are reportedly (or actually) considering bids for the open 3rd: Berkeley Township Council President James Byrnes and Randolph Township Mayor Tom MacArthur. Weirdly, Randolph is in North Jersey, much like the hometown of another potential GOP candidate, Steve Lonegan. So far, the only declared Republican is Assemblyman David Wolfe.
• VA-AG: As expected, Republican Mark Obenshain, who lost to Democrat Mark Herring by 165 votes according to the state's certified election results, will seek a recount in the Virginia attorney general's race. Obenshain's campaign says it expects the process to begin in the middle of December, and it should last two to three days. (Further legal challenges could then be possible at that point.)
Unlike the recount in the 2005 AG contest, though, far more ballots will be reviewed, thanks to legislation sponsored by that year's loser, state Sen. Creigh Deeds. The Virginia Public Access Project estimates that some 712,000 ballots—a third of those cast—will be re-run through optical scan machines; last time, a mere 7,500 were. You have to imagine this increases the chances for a larger swing than in 2005, when the margin shifted by only 37 votes (in favor of the winner, Bob McDonnell).
For an interesting historical perspective on statewide recounts, check out Fairvote. Since 2000, there have only been 19 nationwide, and just three of those (WA-Gov in 2004, VT Auditor in 2006, and MN-Sen in 2008) wound up altering the election night outcome. With a current margin of 0.007 percent, the AG's race is closer than any other in that timeframe, pre-recount, though a couple (including WA-Gov) ended up even tighter. The median post-recount shift has been 0.015 percent, double the current spread.
• WATN?: Of course: