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Leading Off:

FL Redistricting: In a major procedural victory for opponents of Florida's new congressional map, the state Supreme Court ruled that legislators and their staffers can be required to testify about whether they drew the new lines with improper partisan intent. Amendments to the state constitution passed in 2010 now forbid the legislature from creating maps "with the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent," but plaintiffs charge that lawmakers did exactly that.

In response, elected officials invoked the notion of "legislative privilege," saying that they could not be forced to give testimony about their activities as legislators because it would have a "chilling effect" on how they carry out their jobs Ordinarily that argument might work, but the court said that this "chilling effect" with regard to redistricting was, in fact, "the precise purpose" of the new amendments. (You can read the full opinion here.) So barring a settlement of some kind, it seems likely that Republican legislators will soon have to give depositions about how this particular piece of cartographic sausage was made.


AR-Sen, AR-Gov: Perhaps in response to that poll for Citizens United showing GOP Rep. Tom Cotton beating Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor 48-41 last week, the progressive group Americans United for Change is out with their own numbers from PPP showing the race tied at 44. Sure, those are better than CU's, but they're also worse than PPP's prior survey from October (also for AUFC), which had Pryor up 44-41. And perhaps more importantly, this it the manyeth poll showing the incumbent mired in the low-to-mid-40s.

PPP also inquired about the governor's race and found Republican ex-Rep. Asa Hutchinson barely edging Democratic ex-Rep. Mike Ross 44-43. Those are the first publicly released numbers on the contest from PPP, but they're similar to those from other pollsters, who have generally found things close. There's also a question about a $10 minimum wage, which is supported by a 52-38 spread.

NE-Sen: Midland University President Ben Sasse has a tiny $8,500 buy reserved for Jan. 6's BCS Championship game. However, it's quite possible that this ad will be seen by a lot more people than this purchase suggests. Sasse's media consultant is the infamous Fred Davis, who is responsible for some of the most memorable campaign ads of the last few years. Davis' work usually is at best strange and at worst harmful to the campaigns he's supposed to be helping. We'll see if Davis helps Sasse stand out from the rest of the Republican contenders, or if he makes Sasse his latest victim. (Jeff Singer)

NH-Sen: It looks like Massachusetts won't have Scotty Brown to kick around anymore. The former senator has found a buyer for his home and is carpetbagging moving to New Hampshire in order to lengthen his commute to his Boston job at the lobbying firm of Nixon Peabody.

It remains to be seen whether Brown jumps into the race against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, but outside groups are wasting no time getting involved. Ending Spending has a $43,000 ad buy up hitting Shaheen over health care reform; the group also says they have six figures worth of web ads encouraging Brown to run.

However, one New Hampshire Republican is less than enthusiastic about a Brown campaign. State Rep. J.R. Hoell told a local conservative blog that "firearms and ammo" may be necessary to stop Brown and his gun policies. Could Hoell be the newest name to jump into this very strange race? (Jeff Singer)

SC-Sen-B: Former Commerce Department official Rick Wade, who had been considering a bid since August, has decided to go ahead with a challenge to appointed GOP Sen. Tim Scott. Wade, who once served as a cabinet official for ex-Gov. Jim Hodges, ran for secretary for state in 2002, losing 57-43. Richland County Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson is also seeking the Democratic nomination, and state Sen. John Scott previously said he's looking at the race, too.

Senate: Two races where we've recently seen some erosion in Democratic candidates' standing in the polls in the last couple months have been North Carolina and Arkansas, and it seems like it's been an article of faith among pundits that this goes directly hand-in-hand with declines in Dem fortunes on generic congressional ballots as Obamacare took center stage and the shutdown slid down the memory hole. However, some new data from Roll Call suggests that the huge spending disparity in these races so far might be temporarily juicing the Republicans' poll numbers.

In North Carolina, the ad battle has only been fought by third-party groups, but the GOP side has more than doubled up the Democrats, $5.7 million to $2.6 million so far this cycle. Over $4 million of that $5.7 million is from the Koch-linked Americans for Prosperity. Meanwhile, in Arkansas, Republicans are beating Democrats $2.1 million to $1.3 million. Almost all of the GOP money is third-party, while the majority of the Dem dollars are from Mark Pryor's campaign.

The article also includes data on two other campaigns where the dollars are already flowing freely: Louisiana (where Mary Landrieu may be in trouble, but we don't have any recent polls with trendlines that would suggest a decline), and Kentucky. The GOP isn't just doubling up but in fact tripling up on the Dems in these races. In Louisiana, the ratio is $1.75 million to $570,000; in Kentucky, the ratio is $4.5 million to $1.2 million, although much of the Republican spending has been the Mitch McConnell and Matt Bevin camps pounding each other in the primary. (David Jarman)


FL-19: The House Ethics Committee announced Monday that it will open an investigation into Rep. Trey Radel, who pleaded guilty last month to charges of cocaine possession and says he's currently in an in-patient rehab facility. One unnamed source tells Roll Call, though, that the committee is unlikely to recommend any punishment beyond the court-ordered wrist-slap Radel's already received.

MN-07: An attack ad this early in the race in Minnesota's 7th Congressional District probably isn't oriented toward softening Rep. Collin Peterson up for defeat in 2014, but rather laying down a marker that Peterson will get a more competitive race than usual and hoping that message spurs the 69-year-old Peterson to think about retirement. (Peterson has had perhaps the most consistently easy ride of any remaining red-district House Dem, even winning by more than 17 percent in 2010.)

The ad is from Iowa-based PAC American Future Fund, and at a $100,000 buy, it's more than just a video press release. It's also pretty inflammatory by Minnesota's standards, accusing Peterson of having "lost his Minnesota nice." (David Jarman)

NC-12: EMILY's List has endorsed state Rep. Alma Adams in the crowded (but as yet unscheduled) special Democratic primary to replace Rep. Mel Watt, who was recently confirmed to head a federal agency. At least one other woman, state Rep. Beverly Earle, is also running.

Other Races:

Special Elections: It's the last election day of 2013! Johnny Longtorso tells us about one of the races:

New Hampshire House, Strafford-06: This is an open Democratic seat consisting of the towns of Durham and Madbury. The Democratic candidate is former state Sen. Amanda Merrill, who served two terms before retiring in 2012. Meanwhile, the Republicans have Some Dude Deidre Lepkowski (seriously, she has done an amazing job of leaving no footprint on the Internet despite having a pretty unique name). This is among the most Democratic House districts in the state: Barack Obama won it by a 67-31 margin in 2012, while Maggie Hassan carried it 68-28.
There's also a special in Wisconsin's 82nd Assembly District, a 56-43 Romney seat; more on that here. That will wrap it up for the year, though things start right off again the first Tuesday in January, which includes a big one (the Virginia special for Lieutenant Governor-elect Ralph Northam's state Senate seat). You can keep track of every special election and big-city mayor's race with our awesome calendar.

VA-AG: The recount for Virginia's race for attorney general finally started Monday, to determine whether Democratic state Sen. Mark Herring can hold on to the 165-vote lead he enjoyed at certification time. Only three jurisdictions have begun (Fairfax, Alexandria, and Chesapeake); the rest follow Tuesday, so expect the action to quicken very soon. You can check the latest recount changes and the county-by-county numbers in this Google doc that we've created.

As of 5 PM ET Monday evening, only Fairfax County had released new numbers: Among the 67 precincts the county has recounted, Herring has netted 183 votes, while Republican Mark Obenshain netted 92 votes. Add it all together, and Herring's lead now stands at 256 votes. However, Herring attorney Marc Elias subsequently tweeted that Herring's edge is actually 264 votes based on 100 recounted precincts; he may have information from counties that have not yet publicly released any updated results. (Taniel)

Grab Bag:

Maps: Here's a terrific map from Joshua Comenetz of the Census Bureau, who has broken down the Jewish population in the United States according to congressional district:

Map of U.S. congressional districts by Jewish population
(click for larger)
How many Jews there actually are in a America is a remarkably difficult question to answer, but Comenetz's numbers are almost identical to a recent Pew study that put the total Jewish population at 6.7 million, or about 2.2 percent. Jews are spread very unevenly throughout the country, though. The most heavily Jewish district, you won't be surprised to learn, is Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler's NY-10, which, thanks to its inclusion of Manhattan's Upper West Side and Brooklyn's Borough Park, is 27.5 percent Jewish. The least, at 0.0004 percent (and perhaps with no Jews at all, given the margin of error inherent in such measurements), is rural OK-02, represented by freshman GOP Rep. Markwayne Mullin.

And if you're anything like the Daily Kos Elections crew, the first question upon seeing the this data would be, "Which is the district with the least Jewish population that's represented by a congressperson who identifies as Jewish?" Answer: VA-07, the only district in the nation held by a Jewish Republican (Eric Cantor), at 0.27 percent Jewish. That's followed by TN-09 (Steve Cohen) and KY-03 (John Yarmuth), each of which are also less than 1 percent Jewish. (Cohen's district actually had much of its Jewish citizenry moved to a neighboring district during redistricting.)

How about the most-Jewish district represented by a non-Jew? Unsurprisingly, the top five in that category are all located in New York City, topped by NY-09 at 23.41 percent (thanks in large part to the inclusion of Crown Heights), represented by Yvette Clark, who identifies as Methodist. It also includes NY-08 (Hakeem Jeffries), NY-12 (Carolyn Maloney), NY-11 (Michael Grimm), and NY-06 (Grace Meng).

Comenetz has much more data available if you'd like to drill down further, including Excel spreadsheets and GIS files. And that full Pew report also has tons more demographic information on U.S. Jewry as well.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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