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Leading Off:

VA-Sen: So former RNC chair Ed Gillespie, who said last month that he was considering a run for Senate, will supposedly announce a bid "as early as [this] week," according to unnamed sources. Now why would Gillespie want to run into the buzzsaw known as Mark Warner? Does he have secret polls showing the well-liked and well-funded Warner as shockingly vulnerable? Highly doubtful.

More plausibly, Gillespie is looking to take one for the team and use what he hopes will be a non-embarrassing loss to set himself up for a gubernatorial run in 2017. After all, that worked for none other than Warner himself, whose failed but respectable 1996 Senate campaign gave him the inside track for the Democratic nod for governor in 2001. And Warner, of course, went on to win the governorship that same year. The big difference, though, is that there was little contemporary indication Warner viewed his first race as a stepping-stone; rather, it just worked out that way. So if this is indeed Gillespie's long-term plan, well, plans have a funny way of changing.

4Q Fundraising:

AZ-Gov: Fred DuVal (D): $800,000 raised in 2013, $500,000 cash-on-hand

CT-Gov: John McKinney (R): $101,000 raised

GA-Gov: Nathan Deal (R-inc): $4 million cash-on-hand

IA-01: Dave O'Brien (D): $180,000 raised

IA-03: Staci Appel (D): $260,00 raised

ID-02: Bryan Smith (R): $116,000

NH-02: Annie Kuster (D-inc): $338,000 raised, $1.1 million cash-on-hand

Race Ratings:

We undertook a year-end review of all of our Senate and gubernatorial race ratings, and we've decided to make three changes. Also, we're publishing our inaugural House race ratings this coming week, so be on the lookout for them.

CO-Sen (Likely D to Lean D): Recent polling has shown Colorado's political environment worsening for Democrats, though we're not part of the Chicken Little brigades. However, Democratic Sen. Mark Udall's re-election prospects look tougher now than they did earlier in the cycle. We still believe he has the advantage, but it's no longer as big as it once was. If Republicans look to expand their playing field beyond the current crop of tossups and open seats, they'll probably look here.

NC-Sen (Lean D to Tossup): When we put together our initial set of ratings, it appeared that Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan's chances of winning a second term were just good enough to warrant inclusion in the "Lean Democrat" category. But PPP's regular North Carolina polling has found a serious erosion in her standing with voters, and at this point, she's putting up tossup numbers. To reiterate, not all tossups are created equal, and Hagan still has a better shot than, say, Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor (another incumbent Democrat in the tossup column). But she no longer looks favored.

NE-Sen (Likely R to Safe R): It's our general policy to slot open seat races, even in dark red or dark blue states, in their respective "Likely" columns as long as it's still the off year. After all, you never know what kind of unexpected recruit the out-party might come up with. But Nebraska Democrats have come up with absolutely no one, so we're taking this contest off the table.

Senate:

GA-Sen: This is a very clever bit of hypocrisy exposure. After GOP Rep. Jack Kingston warned against the dangers of free school lunches for kids, a Georgia TV station pored over Kingston's expenditure reports and found that his congressional staff has expensed some $4,200 worth of meals on the taxpayer dime over the last three years. That doesn't even begin to include much larger sums racked up on overseas junkets, and the six-figure tally Kingston's campaign committees have spent on food.

Kingston's responses to the station's queries are totally evasive, but the best zinger comes when the reporter points out that for all of Kingston's claims that he just wants to instill a strong work ethic in Americans, Congress was only in session for 159 days last year. (If you don't have to time to watch the video, TPM has a summary.)

IA-Sen: Quarterly fundraising report time is also quarterly loserspeak time. The latest entry in the catalog comes from state Sen. Joni Ernst, who is running for Iowa's open Senate seat. One of her opponents, businessman Mark Jacobs, just announced that he raised $400,000 in the final three months of 2013. Ernst's response? "Money can't buy Iowa values." I guess it can't! The Quad-City Times also added that Ernst "hasn't released her fourth-quarter fundraising results and wouldn't characterize them."

TX-Sen: Sen. John Cornyn's new ad goes straight for the movement conservative id, flashing pictures of a burning Benghazi while calling Barack Obama an "astonishingly liberal" president who uses "backhanded methods to change the very fabric of American life." Cornyn, of course, "stands up to Obama, every day." His campaign says the buy is "well into the six figures," whatever that means. However, we do now know how much that pro-Cornyn super PAC is spending on its new spot attacking Rep. Steve Stockman: a pretty hefty $744,000.

Gubernatorial:

NH-Gov: Conservative activist (often code for "Some Dude") Andrew Hemingway says he'll decide on a gubernatorial bid this month. If he does get into the race, he'd be the first Republican to challenge first-term Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan.

House:

CA-17: Normally, a Republican deciding to run in a safely Democratic seat is not interesting news, but California's top-two primary system could allow anesthesiologist Vanila Singh to play a major role in this race. Incumbent Rep. Mike Honda is currently locked in a duel with fellow Democrat and former Obama administration official Ro Khanna, and both candidates had been expected to continue fighting to the general election. But if Singh can consolidate enough support to win at least second place in the all-party June primary, she would advance to November instead of one of the Democrats.

Obama won 72-26 here, so it would be difficult for any Republican to grab second place in a three-way content, but recent electoral history suggests it is possible. In the 2012 primary for the state's 25th Assembly seat, Republican Arlyne Diamond edged out Milpitas Vice Mayor Pete McHugh, a Democrat, to take second by a 30-28 margin. (Incumbent Democratic Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski clinched first with 42 percent.) AD-25 includes much of the same area as CA-17 and voted for Obama by roughly the same spread.

Honda's internals have him on track to win first place in June, so he would benefit if Singh pulled off the same trick as Diamond. However, Honda's hopes of an easy general election depends on Singh being the only Republican on the ballot. If a second Republican runs and splits the district's small conservative bloc, the Honda-Khanna slugfest is all but certain to continue into November. (Jeff Singer)

FL-13: St. Pete's final poll of Tuesday's Republican primary find lobbyist David Jolly expanding his lead—and in fact, state Rep. Kathleen Peters has stumbled all the way to third place. Jolly takes 37 percent while tea partier Mark Bircher is in second at 26, with Peters bringing up the with 24. At the end of December, it was 39-28 Jolly over Peters, with Bircher at 18. If St. Pete is right, Bircher is surging right at the end, and Jolly is even falling back a bit, but a Bircher victory would be a serious upset.

For the little its worth, Gravis Marketing (on behalf of Human Events) finds a closer race, with Jolly at 34, Peters at 28, and Bircher at 25. But either way, Jolly is ahead, and the Tampa Bay Times' Adam Smith has a good explanation as to why: He's the only candidate on TV. Jolly's not spending a ton—around $25,000 two weeks ago and double that in the final week—but Peters has been dark since a one-week buy in December. Hard to win that way.

NY-04: Republican state Sen. Jack Martins will not run for Rep. Carolyn McCarthy's new open House seat, but it sounds like he'll seek re-election to his current post.

PA-06: Downingtown Mayor Josh Maxwell, who was mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for the newly open PA-06, says that he's sticking with his plans to run for the state House. So are two other candidates in that race, Democrat Josh Young and Republican Harry Lewis.

Other Races:

NY State Senate: Democrats already have a major pickup opportunity in the 40th Senate District, where Justin Wagner is seeking a rematch against GOP state Sen. Greg Ball, who defeated him very narrowly in 2012. But Wagner may wind up pursuing an open seat instead, since Ball is considering a bid for Putnam County executive (which would mean a primary challenge to the incumbent Republican office holder).

Whether Ball's presence on the ticket makes life easier or harder for Wagner is not clear. On the one hand, he's a loudmouthed troublemaker, but on the other, he's won office in this area multiple times. Ball's talked a big game in the past, though, and even toyed with primary then-Rep. Nan Hayworth in NY-19 last cycle, but he ultimately backed down, so there's no telling if he'll actually follow through this time.

VA State Senate: On Friday afternoon, the state Board of Elections certified Democrat Lynwood Lewis as the winner of last Tuesday's special election in Virginia's 6th state Senate District. The final margin: just nine votes. (One last provisional ballot was counted in Accomack County on Thursday, and it cut Lewis's lead to single digits.) Republican candidate Wayne Coleman says he'll seek a recount, so control of the Senate is still contingent on that review, as well as on the special election for Attorney General Mark Herring's seat, which is set for January 21st.

And if you're wondering why the Lewis-Coleman race—which took place in a 57 percent Obama district, after all—was so close, Lowell Feld at Blue Virginia has some thoughts. One notable fact: Coleman outspent Lewis by a 3-to-2 margin. (Taniel & David Nir)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (15+ / 0-)

    Get the Daily Kos Elections Digest in your inbox every weekday. Sign up here.

    by David Nir on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 05:00:14 AM PST

  •  FL 13 Politico: Sink the clear favorite (5+ / 0-)

    "When dealing with terrorism, civil and human rights are not applicable." Egyptian military spokesman.

    by Paleo on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 05:13:46 AM PST

  •  I used to ask my mother that same question (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    patbahn

    --about Presidents.  Her answer?

    "Ego."

    Can't argue with that. And this was when McGovern was running...so she was bi-partisan in her snark/honesty.

    "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

    by DaddyO on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 06:08:32 AM PST

  •  Digby email on some of the most stunning Dem (5+ / 0-)

    Party election news read lately:

    Two things of interest happened this week. Like several hundred other Blue America donors, I got an unexpected check, a refund from Friends of Andrew Hounshell, the progressive Democrat who attempted to take on John Boehner in western Ohio. A new father with a job in a factory, Hounshell withdrew. He could have easily paid his wife a fee to account or consult; it's what a lot of politicians do. But he preferred to cut checks and return the money he hadn't spent to the donors who wanted to see him take on Boehner.

    And soon after that I got a terse note from Nick Ruiz that he is switching districts and won't be trying to replace reactionary Republican John Mica, but that he'll be trying to replace the single best congressman in the entire country, Alan Grayson. I was flabbergasted. At first I thought someone must have hacked his e-mail account. Unfortunately, not. Obviously, we removed him from the Blue America endorsement list. He has every right to run a primary in any district he wants. But all the money Blue America donors gave him was to help him replace John Mica.

    I also sent him a note asking him to return the contributions I had personally given him and the $1,000 PAC check Blue America had sent him. As far as I can tell, at least so far, his obligation to return the money is just moral, not legal. If there are any Blue America members who would like to ask him to return contributions, his e-mail address is: nruiz@intertheory.org/

    Personally, I'm going to chalk this up to a lesson learned… and send a personal contribution to Alan Grayson. Yesterday Alan was working harder than anyone in Congress to stop the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership, which he said is:

    "Fundamentally irrational. The U.S. trade deficit has been $350 billion, or more, every single year since 2000. So-called 'free trade' has fundamentally imbalanced the U.S. economy. What we’re doing is haggling over how to make that worse. This 'Fast Track' legislation is a fast track to $1 trillion annual trade deficits, the total elimination of our manufacturing base, and wage slavery for every American worker."

    Any other Members of Congress telling the truth like that? This year, Grayson has been widely regarded the single most effective Member! Let's make sure he stays right where he is.You can contribute to his campaign here.

    Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

    by divineorder on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 06:12:16 AM PST

  •  Ed Gillespie and Kay Hagan (7+ / 0-)

    Ed Gillespie-Sacrificial elephant.

    Kay Hagan?  Looks bad until you see who she's running against.  Her probable opponent allows her to run against the state legislature (where he is leadership) and North Carolinians of all stripes currently hate the state legislature.

    Another below-the-radar clue? We just got a slick pro-Hagan mailer put out by none other than the National Association of Realtors.

    "If you are cast on a desert island with only a screwdriver, a hatchet, and a chisel to make a boat...go make the best one you can. It would be better if you had a saw, but you haven't." T.Roosevelt on politics.

    by NCJan on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 06:12:30 AM PST

  •  VA in 96 was still pretty red (0+ / 0-)

    20 years later, VA is turning Bluish Purple.

    While I'm not sure in 4 years, the Dems can run the table like they have this last time, In all races the edge has to be viewed as breaking for the Dems.

    •  I don't think so. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Christopher Walker

      It all depends on whether the Virginia GOP's crack-up proceeds or is reversed. If the state's GOP had held a primary instead of a convention last year, chances are they would be controlling all 3 statewide offices. Similar to what has happened in other states, the extreme-right has been seizing control over the state party, and making its candidates unelectable statewide. Given the Chamber of Commerce is now pushing to take back the party from the teabaggers, we might get some guidance in which way the winds are blowing this year in VA-10 - whether the mainstream conservative Barbara Comstrock or the flamethrower "abortion=Holocaust" Dick Black gets the nomination.

      •  "If a primary" is not easily reversible (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        patbahn, Aquarius40, bananapouch1

        The "true believers" are now deeply dug into the apparatus of rules making and committee selection. And anyone who's experienced being on the losing end of more than one nomination battle can attest, control the rules and most of the battle is won.

        Just who is going to force those now in charge of the VA GOP to have more "inclusive" rules and processes?

        Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

        by Egalitare on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 06:56:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  inclusion and "sharing" are (0+ / 0-)

          Dem values, not GOP values.

          Sit down, Shut up, Take your gruel and like it
          well,  those work okay for a while, but,
          they've had their moments.

        •  Good point. (0+ / 0-)

          The extremists have now dug into their positions, so it might be hard to dislodge them. If Republicans in the state don't take the party back, they might become another California, where demographic changes + GOP stubbornness in policies appealing to conservative white rural voters might make the party extinct at the statewide level.

  •  Was Staci Appel 26,000 or 260K? (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks

    "Where some see a system for encouraging discussion . . . others see an echo chamber of bad grammar, unchecked stupidity, and constructive interference . . . " -- Ars Technica

    by Rikon Snow on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 06:28:34 AM PST

  •  John Kasich can breathe a sigh of relief. (0+ / 0-)

    His Tea Party challenger dropped out just days after announcing his run, and if no one else announces until Feb. 5, he can run unopposed for the nomination. An issue remaining for him is a hard-right libertarian general election candidate who could take some votes from the right. FitzGerald will on the other hand need to deal with a primary challenge himself.

  •  Is Virginia turning into the place... (0+ / 0-)

    for all political fundraisers and strategists to run for office after they are done running other people's campaigns for office?

    Terry Mac is already in Richmond and Gillespie wants to follow him... Who's next?

    To be great is to be misunderstood

    by LordFairfax on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 07:39:50 AM PST

  •  CO Dem here. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    belinda ridgewood

    Our representatives at the State & Federal levels are seemingly so afraid to say or do anything that might offend anyone, especially their corporate sponsors, that the silence is deafening.

    When they do speak, they are promoting issues that don't align with my concerns. Democratic Governor Hickenlooper  has testified in the Senate that he literally drank the fracking fluid and he's fine! He's vowed to bring the full brunt of his administration to strike down any municipal or county bans on oil & gas drilling within their borders.

    The quality of Dems in Colorado is appalling. We need a Warren or Sanders to stand up and start shouting for something besides their own & donors' bank accounts.

  •  that's very disappointing news about (0+ / 0-)

    where Democrats stand as far as Senate elections this November. Up until now, there were nine seats that Democrats held that could be considered competitive (not including Colorado).

    Now, as we start the year, it looks like Democrats have 10 seats to defend which could be competitive (which could, conceivably, be picked up by Republicans). There are only two Republican Senate seats that appear to be potentially competitive this November (GA & KY). That means that Republicans have a shot at eight of our seats.

    Hopefully, we're able to defend some of those seats successfully, but it's looking increasingly possible to me that the Senate flips this November, unfortunately. And we've only got 10 months to turn this around.

    (the 10 Democratic seats that are questionable, in my opinion, are: MT (Baucus), WV (Rockefeller), SD (Johnson),  NC (Hagan), AR (Prior), LA (Landrieu, AK (Begich), IA (Harkin) and MI (Levin) and...now CO (Udall).
    Granted, Democrats appear to be in reasonably good shape in IA and MI, but those are open seats and anything could happen.)

    The bottom line is that the odds for Republicans gaining control of the Senate have increased and the odds of Democrats holding the Senate have decreased, with just a short time to go until the elections are in full swing.

    Is there anything we can do to try to start improving Democratic chances this November?

  •  Another Democratic Rep. Retiring... (0+ / 0-)

    ...after logging off this page and checking other sites, its come to my attention that yet another Democrat is retiring from the House (that's three that have announced just in the past week). This time, it's George Miller of California.

    Boy...Democrats are not starting the year out very well, unfortunately.

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