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Leading Off:

IA-03: Hell's bells, kids n' kittens. Tuesday brought us three major House retirements, with Iowa Republican Tom Latham, who represents the state's 3rd Congressional District, the latest to say "no mas." This one counts as the most shocking: Virginia Republican Frank Wolf is 74 and had been the subject of retirement speculation for ages, while Utah Democrat Jim Matheson likely wanted to avoid a potential loss to preserve his unblemished record for a future run at statewide office. (Much more on those two developments below.)

But Latham? He's only 65 and he just survived a very tough race last year that pitted him against another incumbent, Democrat Leonard Boswell, thanks to redistricting. Latham performed very well, beating Boswell by almost 9 points in a seat Barack Obama carried 51-47. That strong showing helped make Latham the top Republican choice to run for Iowa's open Senate seat next year, but he ultimately declined.

Latham had drawn credible but hardly terrifying opposition in the form of ex-state Sen. Staci Appel, and he was in solid shape for re-election, which seemed to explain his refusal on the Senate race. So it's very hard to explain Latham's decision. If you want to engage in conspiracy theories, perhaps Sen. Chuck Grassley secretly informed Latham that he won't run again in 2016, thus leading Latham to pull a Matheson. That doesn't really add up, though, since a Latham loss this cycle was very unlikely, so maybe he's just truly tired of politics.

Regardless, the GOP will now have another tough seat to defend, along with Wolf's (though Matheson's is pretty much a gimme for them). And plenty of Republicans could jump in to the primary to succeed Latham. Some possibilities from the gang at Roll Call include former state party chair Matt Strawn, state Rep. Peter Cownie, and state Sen. Jack Whitver, while Aaron Blake suggests Secretary of State Matt Schultz and West Des Moines Mayor Steve Gaer. In addition, most of the Republicans running for Senate appear to live in the 3rd and could thus drop down if so inclined. One more option: state Sen. Brad Zaun, who lost to Boswell by 4 points in the old 3rd District in 2010.

Other Democrats might also want to join Appel, now that the daunting obstacle Latham presented is gone. More importantly, the district will shoot to the top of the party's list of pickup targets, and outside spending is likely to be very high here. All in all, a very strange day, but one that could turn out net positive for Democrats.

VA-10: Big news out of Northern Virginia: Longtime Republican Rep. Frank Wolf has announced his retirement. Wolf has represented the 10th District since 1980 and has not won with anything less than 57 percent since his initial 1982 re-election. Consequently, his departure gives Democrats a great shot at a seat that Wolf's personal popularity has long kept out of reach. Mitt Romney carried the 10th by a very narrow 50-49 margin in 2012, and Barack Obama won it 51-48 four years prior.

Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust had just announced his candidacy before Wolf's retirement, ensuring Democrats have a credible candidate out of the gate. Two lesser-known Democrats are also running. It remains to be seen whether other ambitious Northern Virginia Dems will take this opportunity to jump in as well, though given how long everyone's been waiting for Wolf to retire, they very well may.

There are also a number of potential contenders on the Republican side. Delegate and former Wolf aide Barbara Comstock, fresh off a very competitive re-election victory in November, has been frequently mentioned as a likely candidate. One of the more hilarious names expressing interest belongs to Artur Davis, the former Democratic congressman from Alabama turned Republican talking head who now lives in Northern Virginia. If Republicans aren't interested in beating up on Artur in the primary, you can bet Democrats would be delighted to in the general. (Meanwhile, state Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel has ruled out a bid.)

Wolf's decision to leave gives Democrats an excellent chance at a pickup, but make no mistake: This race is far from a slam dunk. The district is still a bit to the right of the entire state. Romney's 50-49 win was slim, but better than his statewide 51-47 defeat. Daily Kos Elections' preliminary calculations also reveal that Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli won 48-47 here while losing 48-45 statewide. The district did go to Democratic Lt. Gov.-elect Ralph Northam, but Northam's 52-48 win was far smaller than his 55-45 statewide victory. This race is expected to be very competitive and we'll be watching it closely from now until Election Day. (Jeff Singer)

UT-04: Any excitement for Democrats on Tuesday over the unexpected retirement of Republican Rep. Frank Wolf (and the potential pickup in swingy VA-10) quickly got blunted with another unexpected retirement announcement, this time from Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson in Utah's 4th Congressional District. Unlike VA-10, where the Republicans are still slightly better-than-even money to hold the seat, this one is a near-certain loss for the Democrats. Although the 4th is Utah's bluest seat, it's still the single reddest district held by a Democrat in the House: It went just 30 percent for Barack Obama in 2012, although it did give him 41 percent in 2008, when Mitt Romney wasn't on the ballot.

Matheson faced a rematch against Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love, who, if she wins, will become the first African-American woman to represent the GOP in Congress. Matheson won a very narrow victory against Love in 2012 despite the Romney headwinds and pre-election polls predicting a loss, by a margin of only 768 votes (48.8 percent to 48.5 percent). Despite 2014 being a midterm election, where Republicans usually benefit from lower turnout, some observers expected Matheson to have an easier time this year because of the lack of Romney coattails. But Daily Kos Elections' quantitative House Vulnerability Index still pegged him as the most vulnerable House Democrat.

Matheson really hadn't done anything to telegraph a retirement; he raised $278,000 in the third fundraising quarter—not a huge amount, but certainly a bigger sum than someone planning retirement would put up. (Love raised $590,000 that same quarter, which may have weighed on Matheson, but that's a deceptive number: She's a fan of Allen West/Michele Bachmann-style churn-and-burn direct-mail fundraising, where the expenses wipe out most of the revenues.)

Instead, the rapid and unexpected retirement suggests that Matheson probably took a poll of his district, and didn't at all like what he saw, in wake of last month's decline in Democratic fortunes generally. In fact, Matheson had led Love by 14 in a June DCCC poll, while a dueling NRCC poll still had Matheson up, though only by 3 points. This all supports the theory that things went south for Matheson only recently.

You might be thinking, "Well, the Democrats can salvage this race with another good candidate." Not likely, because Matheson really was the entire bench for the Democrats in the entire state of Utah, and particularly in this mostly suburban district. The Democrats probably can't also count on a bloody Republican primary to boost their chances, since Love already has the nomination pretty much locked down. (Though maybe the fact that this is now an open seat will attract some other ambitious Republicans—especially since there were some behind-the-scenes rumblings that Love's previous campaign wasn't very good—but since Love was picked by nominating convention last time and presumably will be again, traditional campaign skills may not matter that much.)

Matheson's announcement does seem to leave an open door to a future run for something, however. He declared that "my time in the House should not be the sum total of my service" and "my duty to our state and our country will undoubtedly continue." The Matheson name does still have some iconic power in Utah (his father was governor and his grandfather and brother were both U.S. attorney for the state), and despite his Blue Doggishness, he's about the most Democrats could ever hope for in Utah.

Problem is, there's no statewide race in Utah in 2014, so Matheson would have to wait until 2016. Utah elects its governors in presidential years, and freshman Sen. Mike Lee will be up for re-election then. A recent poll showed Lee's approvals quite low (though that was taken at the height of shutdown mania and before the ACA took center stage), so maybe Matheson has an eye on that race and didn't want a loss to be the last mark on his record going in to a battle with Lee. (David Jarman)

Senate:

KY-Sen: PPP's new Kentucky poll isn't too different from their last survey, with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell now edging Democratic Secretary of State Alison Grimes 43-42; back in mid-October, in a survey taken for Americans United for Change, Grimes was up 45-43. We also have PPP's first numbers pitting Grimes against McConnell's primary opponent, businessman Matt Bevin, who leads 39-38.

The tough news for Grimes is that the undecideds went for Romney over Obama last year by a hefty 56-20 margin. If you give the Romney voters to McConnell and the Obama voters to Grimes (a rough approximation, but not a bad one), McConnell would lead 52-45. It's even worse with Bevin. In that scenario, undecideds supported Romney 67-16, and if you allocate accordingly, Bevin crushes, 55-42. It all highlights the key issue we've been pointing to since this race first became a possibility: Undecided voters in Kentucky are not a friendly lot as far as Grimes is concerned.

PPP also tested a McConnell-Bevin matchup for the first time, and they find McConnell ahead by a wide 53-26 margin. But these are actually the most optimistic numbers any pollster has shown for Bevin to date. And in PPP's classic formulation, "someone more conservative" now beats McConnell 43-39, a big drop from McConnell's 46-32 advantage over Republican Jesus back in April. But Bevin is still largely unknown, and he has a long way to go before he might be able to topple McConnell.

Meanwhile, a nonprofit called the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition is reportedly shelling out $382,000 to run a new ad on behalf of McConnell. The spot tries to tie McConnell to the state's other senator, Rand Paul, who is much more popular with tea partiers, saying the two are "working together to stop Obamacare." The same group previously spent a similar amount to boost McConnell in September.

TX-Sen: TPM has gotten its hands on photos of the flophouse where GOP Rep. Steve Stockman put up campaign staffers before local authorities condemned it, and man, is it not pretty. This is one of those links you simply have to click for yourself.

Gubernatorial:

FL-Gov: This is one of those rare moments when a candidate's faring so poorly in public polling that he releases private numbers that still show him trailing, just less badly. Maybe one day we'll go back and study all such known instances to see how they turned out, but for the moment, we'll just concentrate on GOP Gov. Rick Scott. Scott, whose standing in the polls has been execrable, leaked results from Fabrizio McLaughlin that have him down 49-45 to his predecessor, ex-Gov. Charlie Crist. That's one of the narrowest leads for Crist to date, but he's still, you know, leading. If this is how Scott cheers himself up at night ....

IA-Gov: State Rep. Tyler Olson, who announced earlier this month that he was "scaling back" his campaign for governor because of his impending divorce, has now scaled it all the way down to zero. Olson is dropping out of the race altogether, leaving state Sen. Jack Hatch as the only Democrat in the race. In a statement announcing his decision, Olson did not endorse Hatch.

Aside from Olson's personal difficulties, two new polls confirm just how difficult unseating Gov. Terry Branstad would be. Selzer & Company finds that Branstad would beat Olson 51-28 and Hatch 52-29, while Quinnipiac has Branstad leading 50-32 and 49-33, respectively. Quinnipiac also show Branstad up 49-31 over a third option, former state Rep. Bob Krause, who is still in exploratory mode, though perhaps Olson's decision will clarify his thinking.

OK-Gov: Democrats understandably aren't exactly lining up to take on Republican Gov. Mary Fallin in dark red Oklahoma, but one candidate may be ready to step up. State Rep. Joe Dorman has formed an exploratory committee, though he says he hasn't made a final decision on whether he'll jump in. (Jeff Singer)

House

FL-02: Former state Senate Minority Leader and 2012 nominee Al Lawson had been contemplating another bid for Florida's 2nd Congressional District, but that all ended Monday with his decision not to run again. National Democrats will be happy, because this clears the way for Gwen Graham in the Democratic primary; Lawson, while underfunded, would have been a real threat to win, thanks to his appeal to black voters, who form a large part of the electorate here. Now, though, Graham can focus solely on beating Republican Rep. Steve Southerland in this North Florida seat. (Jeff Singer)

NJ-03: Berkeley Council President James Byrnes says he plans to join the GOP primary for New Jersey's open 3rd Congressional District. A whole bunch of Republicans are looking at the race, but only one candidate, Assemblyman David Wolfe, has actually entered.

HI-01: Last week, a sketchy report surfaced that former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann might try to run in the crowded Democratic primary for Hawaii's open 1st Congressional District. Now Mufi himself says that "discussions are taking place regarding 2014" but adds that he hasn't made a decision yet.

TX-36: Filing closed in TX-36 for the second time on Monday, after Rep. Steve Stockman's last-minute Senate bid led state officials to reopen candidate qualifying for a week. Five Republicans were already seeking this post and now another seven are in. Mitt Romney won by a brutal 73-26 here, so the winner of the GOP nomination will be the district's next member of congress. Here is a quick rundown of all twelve:

John Amdur: Nassau Bay councilor

Brian Babin: Former Woodville mayor

Doug Centilli: Former chief-of-staff to Rep. Kevin Brady

Jim Engstrand: 2012 candidate (won 9 percent in primary)

Phil Fitzgerald: Former Liberty County judge (who survived federal indictment)

Pat Kasprzak: Teacher

John Manlove: Former Pasadena Mayor (won 15 percent in 2008 primary for TX-22)

Chuck Meyer: 2012 candidate (won 4 percent in primary)

Kim Morrell: Former Seabrook councilor and 2012 candidate (won 3.5 percent in primary)

Dave Norman: Businessman (won 25 percent in 2012 state Senate primary)

Robin Riley: Former Seabrook mayor

Ben Streusand: Rich guy, head of state Americans for Prosperity advisory board (won 36 percent in 2004 TX-10 primary runoff)

One interesting note about Brian Babin: He came fairly close to becoming a congressman in 1996. Babin lost the general election 52-46 to Democrat Jim Turner in an open seat race in the old TX-02. The two had a rematch in 1998 that ended with a wider 58-41 Turner victory. In any event, the primary is March 4. In the very likely event that no one clears 50 percent, a runoff will take place May 27. (Jeff Singer)

Other Races:

SD Mayor: The city of San Diego has finally set Feb. 11 as the date for its mayoral runoff between Democrat David Alvarez and Republican Kevin Faulconer, both city councilors.

VA-AG: Tuesday was Day Two of the Virginia recount, and Democrat Mark Herring increased his lead more than four-fold since the recount started Monday. As of 8:30 PM ET Tuesday, Herring's lead had grown from the 165 votes he had at certification time to 683 votes now.

Much of Herring's gain has come from Fairfax County, but he also netted double digits in in Loudoun County, Nelson County, and Newport News City. By contrast, few localities have brought good news to GOP hopeful Mark Obenshain. There's still a long way to go (as of this writing, 1,324 precincts have completed their recount out of a statewide total of 2,558), but the road is looking increasingly tough for the Republican. Another very important piece of the puzzle in terms of whether the suspense will prolong itself beyond Wednesday: Very few ballots are being challenged—only 14 so far throughout the state. (Taniel)

VA State Senate: While Democratic state Sen. Mark Herring's victory in the attorney general's contest is not yet final—and there's always the possibility the GOP-held state legislature will try to steal the race for state Sen. Mark Obenshain—local Republicans went ahead and picked a nominee for Herring's Northern Virginia Senate seat.

On Monday night, the party convened a "mass meeting" in the 33rd District and chose John Whitbeck, the 10th Congressional District GOP chair. Whitbeck made news back in September after telling an anti-Semitic joke at a Ken Cuccinelli rally. Democrats have already selected attorney Jennifer Wexton, while outgoing Republican Delegate Joe May is running as an independent, complicating GOP hopes to win here.

The stakes are very high in the expected special election for this seat. If Democrats hold Lt. Gov.-elect Ralph Northam's Senate seat in January's special election, the Senate will have a 20-19 Republican edge with this seat vacant. If Democrats can keep Herring's seat, too, the chamber will be tied 20-20 and Northam will be able to break ties for the Democrats. Conversely, a GOP victory in either race would hand Republicans the majority.

The 33rd leans Democratic: Obama carried it 59-39 and our preliminary numbers say Terry McAuliffe won 56-39 here. (The numbers for Northam's district are 57-42 and 53-40 respectively). Whitbeck is not an ideal candidate for the GOP and May's run will likely make things harder. However, with so much depending on the outcome of this race, both parties are expected to play hard here. (Jeff Singer)

Waukesha County Board: Look who's back, old chums! (But you knew who it would be as soon as you saw "Waukesha County Board," didn't you?)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm ok with the Matheson retirement... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader

    DCCC contributions can go to less blue-doggish candidates.

    •  In Utah, a Blue Dog would have been far better (6+ / 0-)

      than the bloody-Red Republican that’s likely to replace Matheson.

      That said, I agree with your sentiment that far too much DCCC money is pent defending Blue Dogs, and not nearly enough advancing progressive candidates.

      “The meaning of life is to find it.”

      by ArcticStones on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 06:18:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Progressive candidates (6+ / 0-)

        are the best candidates only in relatively progressive (D+5 or higher) districts. And in such districts Democratic victory in general election is almost guaranteed. So, all the difference is whether district will elect "progressive" or "moderate-liberal" Democrat. DCCC doesn't need to spend a lot of money in such districts, they will not go republican. Blue Dog's  districts, on the other hand, are, mostly, very difficult for Democrats to defend, and thus - require a LOT of money.

    •  It's almost R+20 (6+ / 0-)

      district. Even THE Bluest Dog would have extreme difficulties winning it. Beloved by many here "progressive" would go down in flames in it with ZERO chances even in Democratic wave year. And extremely right-wing Republican, who will be elected in UT-04 in 2014, will have infinitely worse record then Matheson in Congress. That's fine with you? Fine.

      •  Fuck Matheson (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Patrick is Lucky

        If the district is such a lost cause and it requires us spending a ton of money defending it only to get a 50% Dem then why bother?  The money would be better spent on beating Peter King.  Once we flip that seat it's a Dem hold for a while and we'll get a far better dem than Matheson or any blue dog in Utah.  

        This notion that we'll be worse off with a GOP rep than we are with Matheson is ridiculous.  Especially considering we could be better employing money wasted on him in say NY-02, FL-25 and FL-27.  I would much rather have a Tea bagging nut sack in UT-04 who votes with Dems 0% of the time and 1, 2 or even 3 more Dem Reps who vote with Dems 75%-95%  of the time than Matheson, King, Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart who AT BEST vote with Dems 50% of the time.  For starters we get MORE Dems and we get BETTER Dems.  Plus once Dems are elected in those 3 districts it will be that much easier to re-elect them as opposed to pouring money down the Utah sinkhole every 2 years.  

        This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

        by DisNoir36 on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 09:02:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  GOP spent more than Matheson to lose UT-04 (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jorge Harris, MichaelNY

          in 2012.  This just got converted to a seat that'll be uncontested in most cycles.  It also got converted to a seat which will vote solid GOP.  Symbolic conservative votes by Matheson may have annoyed the Dem base outside Utah, but the actual value of this seat was far from symbolic.

          Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

          by benamery21 on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 09:28:43 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I - vice versa (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jorge Harris, MichaelNY

          You will not get enough your "beloved progressives" or even 75-95% "real Democrats" in the near future. There are simply no more then 200 (most likely 180-190) districts able to elect such Democrats (BTW - King's seat can EASILY elect another Republican, republican tradition is very strong there locally), So, you will not get 1 TEA party Republican and 3 "loyal Democrats" - you will get long-term PERMANENT "progressive minority" in House, utterly unable to get anything passed for next 20 years, and daily (and in such case - justly) ridiculed by the same "tea party republicans", whom you "like" so much. To get even remote chance for majority (especially - with present redistricting) you need not only Matheson, McIntyre, Barrow and so on,but people like Walt Minnick and Bobby Bright. In districts like their i will gladly take such Democratic candidates. Otherwise the only thing that will remain for you - whistle forlornly in the emptyness.

          •  Yeah, it's amazing how much scorn (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            benamery21

            the Blue Dogs continue to get heaped on them, when it's precisely their losses to Republicans in 2010 that account for the difference between a Democratic majority that passed stuff and a Republican majority.

            Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

            by MichaelNY on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 12:51:15 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Um BULLSHIT (0+ / 0-)

            All three districts I indicated voted for Obama.  All three districts are bluer than Matheson's R+20.  Infact there are over 350 seats bluer than Matheson's seat.  In NJ, PA and NY ALONE, there are enough seats to get the majority back and ALL of the Dems elected in those seats would be better than Matheson ever was.  So spare me the 'we need Blue Dogs like Matheson to have the majority' bullshit. WE DON'T.

            This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

            by DisNoir36 on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 02:18:47 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Where's R+20 coming from? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              MichaelNY

              Cook PVI shows a 2014 PVI of R+16, and that's skewed upward anyway, because of the Mormon presidential candidate in 2012.  Based on 2008 voting, PA-09 would have gone for McCain by about 2 points more than UT-04 would have, under today's district boundaries.

              Do we have to win every seat up to and including UT-04 to have a bare majority?  Of course not.  Not even close, in fact.  That doesn't mean abandoning an incumbent would have been a wise course, and it doesn't mean losing this seat doesn't make gaining a bare majority appreciably harder.  When we beat every GOP incumbent in NY, PA, and NJ let me know, please.

              Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

              by benamery21 on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 03:55:35 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I used strictly 2012 numbers (0+ / 0-)

                In 2012 UT-04 was about R+20. Cook PVI is counted using 2 last presidential election results, so itincluded 2008 and 2012.

                According to Cook itself Democrats have very little targets in 2014. Only 3 Republican-held seats are in Tossup category, and only 1 (CA-31) - as "likely" Democratic. On the other side - 10 Democratic seats were listed as "tossup", and now, with Matheson retirement, his seat goes at least "likely Republican". Even more interesting is recent analysis, that, because of redistricting in 2011-12, Democrats need a 2008-wave (the biggest one in decades) to gain 21 seat and, thus, scrap small majority in House. Even 2006-wave would be not enough, because in such case Democrats would win only about 12 seats. They would neeed every seat they control now, including Matheson's, McIntyre's, Barrow's and so on. And i see no signs of even "small wave" right now - last Cook's forecast was "a single-digit gain for Republicans

                I openly admit that i hate all sort of idiocies and myths. One of them is "progressive idiocy" that they can win enough support "to rule alone".  May be - 20 years from now, when demography will do it works. But surely not now. US is much more conservative then Europe (and there are few really progressive governments even there), an attempts to conduct even modest reforms (like ACA) are met with great hostility (ot, at least, misunderstanding) by majority, and so on. That reflected itself in many elections, especially - 2010.

                And, as i already say, a "progressive base" is very compacted in relatively few (yes, very populated) areas of the country. After all, Obama himself failed to win a majority of House districts in 2012. So, to think that "progressives" will win all Republican districts in NJ (say that to Chris Christie), Pennsylvania (say that to Toomey) or NY, and, after that, will build a "left-wing paradise" - is either a naivety or (more likely) big idiocy. Idiots happen among people with very different political views.

                •  Cook PVI (nitty gritty) (0+ / 0-)

                  This does not address your overall points:

                  For UT-04 (post-redistricting) was R+14 in 2012 (based on '04 and '08 elections).

                  For UT-04 was R+16 in 2014 (based on '08 and '12 elections).

                  Basically, Romney did even better as a challenger in '12 in UT-04 than Bush did as an incumbent in UT-04 in 2004, enough better to move the needle from R+14 to R+16.  I think if Romney were a generic non-Mormon GOP, the district would likely have moved slightly the other way.  In other words I think PVI currently overstates how naturally conservative this, still very conservative district is due to an extremely strong native son effect for Romney in 2012.  Bush did roughly 10 points better here in 2004 than 2000 (incumbent effect), and Romney STILL did better.

                  Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

                  by benamery21 on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 09:54:01 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Cook ratings (0+ / 0-)

                  are based on the current state of play.  They will change as we identify additional challengers, fundraise, etc.  It is typical for the number of seats in play to increase as the cycle progresses.  In most seats, an incumbent without a decent challenger is solid until such a challenger emerges.

                  As you probably know if you follow Cook, there were two recent sizable ratings shifts based on the unprecedented gyrations in the generic congressional polling.  If the national climate improves markedly as the ACA news becomes a drumbeat of success, and/or as Republicans demonstrate additional intransigence, we may well see the Cook forecast improve significantly.

                  Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

                  by benamery21 on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 10:05:09 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Agree, but with some caveats (0+ / 0-)

                    First of all - it's a BIG "IF", whether "national climate improves markedly". As i read latest polls and people's feelings - it's more of "plague on both your houses" now. A LOT of people passionately hates BOTH Republican and Democratic parties, and, without "third alternative", either sits elections out (some specials recently had an extremely low turnout even for specials) or, as i stated in one my earlier post, "votes not for those, whom they like most", but for those "whom they hate less". Very good example - recent gubernatorial election in Virginia, where people voted (barely) for McAuliffe because they hated Cooch more. John Boehner is very unpopular now, but Nancy Pelosi is very unpopular as well.

                    Second caveat. I follow Cook for many years. Typical situation with "seats in play" is "parabolic": number of such seats increases, as cycle progresses, up to some moment (usually - somewhere in the Summer) and AFTER that - decreases, simply because some challengers turn out to be a weak candidates, not "up to the task". I think - this year will be of the same sort, and, most likely, generally "neutral". In such case - EVERY seat will be of utmost importance, including (and may be - especially) "Blue Dog seats' (because "normal democratic seats" will stay Democratic, except for force-major situation)

            •  We DO (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              MichaelNY

              The Bullshit is what you say. Yes, there are Republican-leaning seats, which are less Republican, then Matheson's, but even they REQUIRE Matheson-type Blue Dog Democrats to win. Spare me a "progressive idiocy" that "progressives and "almost progressives" are able to get a majority in House alone" under present conditions. As i already said: if that's your policy - you will forlornly whistle into empty space for next 20 years in minority, while "tea-party republicans" will rule and ridicule you. And, frankly, in SUCH case you will deserve that for your bullheadness.

      •  Yeah, Jim Matheson's been a giant in UT-04 (0+ / 0-)

        Even Mia Love couldn't defeat him November 2012, even while it was a narrow loss.

        The general problem also lies with the Utah Democratic Party, not just with the base of voters.  Back in the 2012 State Convention, progressive Democrat Pete Ashdown (founder and CEO of XMission) was not well received there but he was speaking truth to progressive ideals.

      •  I wasn't talking about dumping more money... (0+ / 0-)

        ...into THIS district.  More spreading it out across the country where other seats can be won or defended with better representatives.

  •  Replacing Wolfe tests Dem & T-Mac momentum in VA (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    scamperdo, mconvente, MI Sooner

    Continued momentum in VA 2014 races seems very important to the 2016 Presidential race.

    •  Certainly cracks the door. Wolf's crafted moderate (0+ / 0-)

      and "pothole" fixer image made him the sort of default vote even for people outside the Republican tent. It was largely an image, except that he did at one time stand fairly strong for federal employees (survival skill).

      Before I escaped by redistricting I long ago gave up contacting him on "political" issues. His votes, and I think his core beliefs, were more aligned with the "family values" and other more rightist elements of the party. It took longer to give up contacting him about "pothole" matters. Why can't a loophole be closed so a federal agency can regulate something generally agreed to as being bad (from junk fax wrong number calls at 2 a.m. to phone scams to adulterated food and medicines)? Suggestions he consider sponsoring or supporting closing such loopholes only got packets of regurgitated PR, some from agencies prodded to add their PR package on the subject. All basically "because the law does not cover that" which was exactly what I'd asked him to start fixing. Never, ever, got a true response out of him or his office on such a matter. Never understood his immunity from being truly threatened by some pretty good, if sort of unknown, opponents.

      Maybe now!

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 06:20:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There's FOUR candidates running in Wolf's district (0+ / 0-)

      And that's unusual.

  •  trouble grows ambitions for 2015 (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541, mconvente, judyms9, MichaelNY

    http://online.wsj.com/...

    EXCERPT

    Rep. Paul Ryan, last year’s GOP vice-presidential nominee, is setting his sights on a new challenge: He plans to be the next chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee starting in 2015, a move that would give him a high-profile platform for advancing conservative policy ideas.

    Fresh off a bipartisan budget deal that restores some certainty to the way Congress spends money, Mr. Ryan is making a push to help the current Ways and Means chairman, Michigan Rep. Dave Camp, rewrite the tax code, an ambitious undertaking that presents major political hurdles.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    Way and Means Committee

    EXCERPT

    The Committee of Ways and Means is the chief tax-writing committee of the United States House of Representatives. Members of the Ways and Means Committee are not allowed to serve on any other House Committees unless they apply for a waiver from their party’s congressional leadership.

    The Committee has jurisdiction over all taxation, tariffs and other revenue-raising measures, as well as a number of other programs including:

    Social Security

    Unemployment benefits

    Medicare

    Enforcement of child support laws

    Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, a federal welfare program

    Foster care and adoption programs

    The U.S. Constitution requires that all bills regarding taxation must originate in the House of Representatives. Since House procedure is that all bills regarding taxation must go through this committee, the committee is very influential, as is its Senate counterpart, the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance.

    What opponents of the new law could not do legislatively, at the ballot box, or even by shutting down the federal government, they’re now trying to do through other means in Texas. ~ HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius

    by anyname on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 06:20:24 AM PST

    •  Alarming isn't it? This is the lynchpin of the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      anyname

      GOP strategy going forward.  But folks who will be most imperiled by Ryan being at this helm will continue to vote GOP because of wedge issues.  Embrace your peonage, peons.  I'm going for the peon uniform franchise.

      Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

      by judyms9 on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 07:28:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not so fast Ryan - He has to deal with Rob Zerban (0+ / 0-)

      And I'm pretty sure Rob Zerban, who got 43% of the votes in November 2012 and has a juggernaut of a base behind him, has a good shot at putting the pipsqueak Ryan away November 2014.

  •  Wolfs district will be hard to take (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    scamperdo, MichaelNY

    Keep in mind with presidential turnout it was a tossup district for Obama. In an off year election I don't see it that competitive unless democrats show up in big numbers.
    They made this district more republican by giving him some rural areas. then again we can hope they run a right wing nut, that would help.

    •  Democratic hope in this district (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      scamperdo, MichaelNY

      is (as usual) that Republicans will nominate not Wolf's clone (who will almost surely win in off year), but crazy right-winger. In such case all bets are off, even in off year.

    •  Not sure that hard. It's only R+2 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MichaelNY

      And of course, that doesn't mean an easier victory (if a victory at all for the Democratic Party) but my friend lives in Mclean and there and Manassas there's a good concentration of Democratic and Hispanic voters.  VA-10 is also closer to the DC area and even more Democratic areas of Arlington and Alexandria so it won't be out of reach for GOTV efforts.

      There are redder districts than VA-10 but certainly with those, it would take several election cycles to really build up efforts to take down GOP incumbents.  This election cycle, I see a potential pickup for Democrats but it won't be simple either.

      Note also Frank Wolf's been Congressman since 1981 and him vacating his seat after November 2014 changes the whole picture.  Even Washington Post argues that VA-10 is a prime battleground area.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

  •  FL and PA Governors are doing so poorly and they (9+ / 0-)

    are so unpopular, ...that their talking points are reduced to.

    .I am not losing by much in the polls.  I have polls that show I am only losing by a couple of points,.
    LOL..we hear it a lot around Harrisburg with Corbett as Governor.

    Keystone Liberals on Twitter @ KeystoneLibs , Join PA Liberals at http://keystoneliberalsforum.aimoo.com/

    by wishingwell on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 06:49:30 AM PST

  •  VA-10... (0+ / 0-)

    Add Delegate Tim Hugo to the mix. I have no doubt he will make a bid to replace Wolf...and do not count out the Cooch...he is extremely ambitious.

    Fortunately Dems here have recruited a great candidate who will make a serious run at turning this seat Blue!

  •  Interpolating Kentucky (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    benamery21, MichaelNY

    Obama is black; Grimes isn't.

  •  Maybe Latham suddenly (0+ / 0-)

    realized (wink. wink.) that he wants to spend more time with his family.

    It is often all-or-nothing with republicans. Either they forget that they have families or they turn on a dime and give up everything they have worked for to spend more time with said families.  Historically, the sudden desire for quality family time  has often coincided with a criminal/ethical investigation.  

    Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

    •  And IA-03 may be more winnable now (0+ / 0-)

      Last election cycle two Congressional districts were sandwiched together (IA Congressional districts used to be five, now four, if I'm not mistaken), Tom Latham ran for re-election in 2012 as an incumbent but ran against then-Congressman Leonard Boswell who also ran as an incumbent.  Certainly gerrymandering did contribute to this.

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