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Leading Off:

VA-08: For the third day in a row this week, a House Democrat has announced his retirement. This time it's veteran Rep. Jim Moran, who represents Virginia's 8th Congressional District, centered in Arlington and Alexandria—just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. Moran had served in Congress for over two decades and as mayor of Alexandria before that; he said, simply, that "it's time to close this chapter of my life and move on to the next challenge."

Fortunately for Democrats, the 8th is solidly blue. It went for Barack Obama by a 68-31 margin in 2012 and Terry McAuliffe carried it by a similar 68-27 spread in last year's gubernatorial race. So this seat isn't going anywhere, though interest among local Democrats is sure to be high: Northern Virginia has trended sharply Democratic in recent years, and the last time the 8th was open was in 1972.

Moran, though, actually had trouble keeping up with NoVA's blueward shift, which may seem somewhat surprising since he was often viewed as an outspoken partisan. However, based on his voting record, Moran was notably less liberal than you'd expect for a district as blue as his became. Moran also occasionally said some very stupid and regrettable things (like the time he declared: "If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this"), so progressives have a shot at landing an upgrade here.

Indeed, the list of possible replacements for Moran is long—incredibly long. The Washington Post mentions former Alexandria Mayor Kerry Donley, state Sen. Adam Ebbin, Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille, Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette, Fairfax Supervisor Jeff McKay, and state Dels. Charniele Herring, Rob Krupicka, Patrick Hope, Alfonso Lopez, Mark Sickles, and Scott Surovell. Roll Call adds even more: Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada, 2013 attorney general candidate Aneesh Chopra, and Del. Bob Brink. Whew! Could be a massive primary.

4Q Fundraising:

AR-Gov: Mike Ross (D): $550,000 raised, $2.5 million cash-on-hand; Asa Hutchinson (R): $445,000 raised, $1.3 million cash-on-hand

CO-Gov: Mike Kopp: $104,000 raised, $47,000 cash-on-hand

GA-Gov: John Barge (R): $108,000 raised (in second half of 2013); David Pennington (R): $375,000 raised (in second half of 2013)

CA-17: Vanila Singh (R): $100,000 raised (in five days, including $25,000 in self-funding)

IL-13: Rodney Davis (R-inc): $280,000 raised, $1.05 million cash-on-hand; Ann Callis (D): $255,000 raised, $500,000 cash-on-hand

NJ-02: Frank LoBiondo (R-inc): $443,000 raised, $1.16 million cash-on-hand

PA-12: John Hugya (D): $29,000 raised, $25,000 cash-on-hand


KY-Sen: Gravis has GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell up 42-37 over Democrat Alison Grimes, though they didn't appear to test Grimes against McConnell's primary rival, businessman Matt Bevin.

NC-Sen: We've taken note of many of the various ad buys that Americans for Prosperity has launched attacking Democrats over Obamacare, but the New York Times has a good overview of AFP's entire campaign, as well as a chart showing how many spots each of their top targets has weathered. At the top of the list, by far, is Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, who's been slammed with an amazing 3,535 ads since last June. (Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu is a distant second, at 1,424.) We alluded to this in our writeup of PPP's new Tarheel poll in the previous Digest, but this withering assault probably speaks directly to the decline in Hagan's numbers.

NH-Sen, -Gov: If you've been dismissive of Scott Brown's chances of defeating Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen because of the flagrant carpetbagging such a race would involve, you might want to reconsider. PPP's new New Hampshire poll shows Brown closer to Shaheen than he or anyone else has ever been. Here's how Shaheen fares against the potential Republican field (with September trendlines in parentheses):

46-43 vs. Scott Brown (48-44)

48-34 vs. Bob Smith (50-32)

49-33 vs. Jim Rubens (50-33)

47-30 vs. Karen Testerman (50-31)

No, it's not a huge shift from last time, but when PPP first tested this matchup last April, Shaheen led 52-41. That's a pretty serious erosion for the incumbent, and while she'd still have the edge even if Brown did challenge her, Shaheen would have a serious battle on her hands. To hang on to their most vulnerable seats, Democrats had to hope that senators in safer states—like Shaheen or Colorado's Mark Udall—would largely cruise to re-election, rather than divert precious resources from tougher contests. It's starting to look like that won't be the case.

Fortunately, at least Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan seems to be in the clear, as President Obama's woes haven't trickled down to the statehouse in the same way. Hassan sports a strong 52-27 job approval rating (compared to 44-43 for Shaheen and just 41-53 for the president), and she handily beats all the Republicans PPP stacked up against her:

51-31 vs. Bill Binnie

50-27 vs. Chuck Morse

50-26 vs. George Lambert

51-25 vs. Andrew Hemingway

It's also worth noting that none of these Republicans has actually declared a bid yet.


AR-Gov: Democratic ex-Rep. Mike Ross is airing a new ad of the "introduce yourself to voters" variety. The spot mentions his Arkansas roots, his A+ rating from the NRA, and his willingness to "stand[] up to his own party." It also once again links him to term-limited Gov. Mike Beebe, who previously cut an ad for Ross.

OH-Gov: Hah! It sure had been nice, not having to put up with Dennis Kucinich on a regular basis, ever since his forced retirement a couple of years ago. But of course that guy could never truly go away, and so now Special K is back—and refusing to rule out a bid for governor. The whole notion is so ridiculous, considering that Ohio Democrats have long since rallied around Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, and also because we're talking about Kucinich, who would be unelectable statewide. (In a June 2012 PPP poll, Kucinich performed by far the worst of any potential Democrat at the time.) He could, however, do damage to Fitz in a primary, so I wish I could say that I hope Kucinich has more sense than that, but again ... Kucinich.

TX-Gov: State Sen. Wendy Davis is the underdog in her bid to become Texas' next governor, but not only did she just pull in an incredibly impressive fundraising performance, she beat her moneybags opponent, Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott! In the second half of 2013, Davis hauled in a monster $12.2 million, mostly in small-dollar donations—and note that she only entered the race in October. Abbott, meanwhile, pulled in $11.5 million in the same timeframe, leaving him with a $27 million war chest. Davis hasn't released her cash-on-hand figures, though she'll undoubtedly be far behind her opponent. Still, this is a great start, and while having lots of dough certainly isn't sufficient, it's definitely necessary.

(And if you're wondering why Davis has three separate fundraising committee, Kath Haenschen at Burnt Orange Report has a very helpful explainer.)


CA-03, -11: Maybe John Garamendi reads the Digest. Shortly after aggressively floating the notion that he might seek re-election in the safer (and now open) 11th District, Garamendi declared he'll actually remain in the 3rd. That avoids a messy fight with state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, a fellow Democrat, and it also minimizes the risk that the swingy 3rd could fall into Republican hands.

CA-25: Politico is reporting that GOP Rep. Buck McKeon won't seek re-election, according to unnamed sources, and is "expected" to make a formal announcement later this week. This would be incredibly unsurprising.

CA-17: This nominally grassroots effort to kneecap Ro Khanna was openly coordinated with Rep. Mike Honda's campaign, but it's still pretty good. A trio of local donors who gave four figures apiece to Khanna last cycle when, they say, he claimed he was preparing for a congressional bid only if Pete Stark retired, are asking for their money back now that Khanna's trying to unseat Honda. Like a lot of other Democrats, they're huge Honda fans, and to maximize pressure on Khanna, they shared their email to Khanna with the press.

Khanna's refusing to return the contributions, though, and his campaign's justification is not especially coherent: "Ro has received support from many people who contributed to Congressman Honda in the past. We're not aware that any of them have requested to be reimbursed by the Honda campaign, nor would we expect the Honda campaign to honor such a request." So a hypothetical non-existent group of people is not unhappy, therefore we won't do anything about an actual group of people who are unhappy. Makes sense to me!

CA-31: Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar, who is vying to be the Democratic standard-bearer against GOP Rep. Gary Miller, just earned the endorsement of the local affiliate of the AFL-CIO, which claims a pretty giant 289,000 members in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.

FL-13: As the polls, money, and conventional wisdom all predicted, lobbyist David Jolly prevailed in Tuesday night's Republican primary in the special election to replace the late Rep. Bill Young, defeating state Rep. Kathleen Peters 45-31. (Tea partier Mark Bircher finished third with 24 percent.) Jolly will now face Democrat Alex Sink on March 11, and both candidates are already out with new TV ads.

Jolly's spot is cheaply produced, perhaps reflecting his depleted campaign coffers. In it, his head bounces around in front of a green screened image of the Florida waterfront, while he pledges to repeal Obamacare and support "stronger borders, not amnesty" when it comes to immigration. Sink's is much higher quality, featuring some well-edited and light-hearted banter with her father about her virtues: Pops grudgingly comes around to the idea that the stubbornness his daughter inherited from him will help her get things done in Washington.

It's very reminiscent of an ad that Massachusetts Democrat Carl Sciortino ran in a special election last year that went viral and helped propel Sciortino to a better-than-expected finish in the primary. Sink's spot doesn't have quite the same je ne sais quoi, but it definitely works. (According to Nathan Gonzales, Sink is spending $180,000 to air her ad while Jolly is spending $51,000 for his, both for week-long runs.)

FL-26: A conservative Hispanic group called the LIBRE Initiative is running another ad against Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia, once again on Obamacare. This one features a young "South Florida physician" who says she's "concerned about the impact of Obamacare on our community" and goes on to trash the law. This doctor, though, is not just a radiologist. Grazie Christie also happens to be a contributor to Fox News Latino. LIBRE claims to have spent $700,000 to air both ads.

MI-03: The Club for Growth is airing a new set of TV and radio ads attacking businessman Brian Ellis, who is running against the Club's golden boy, Rep. Justin Amash, in the GOP primary. In their TV spot, the Club hammers Ellis for raising taxes while a member of the East Grand Rapids school board, and it also tries to tie him to former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who left office very unpopular. The buy is reportedly for six figures.

NY-06: Former New York City Comptroller John Liu, who's coming off a disastrous bid for mayor last year, is refusing to deny rumors that he wants to run against freshman Rep. Grace Meng in this June's Democratic primary. Liu has a tremendously energetic core base of supporters, but he's tainted by scandal and Meng's done nothing to warrant a primary challenge, so it's hard to see why Liu thinks he'd succeed.

NY-21: Two Democrats are expressing interest in running for New York's newly open 21st District: ex-Rep. Scott Murphy and Assemblywoman Addie Russell. Murphy would be particularly intriguing, as he won a very difficult special election in 2009 in the old NY-20, a district redder than the one he's currently looking at. (Thanks to redistricting, Murphy now lives in the 21st.)

Capital New York also reports that D.C. Republicans may be hoping for an upgrade from the current establishment choice, former George W. Bush aide Elise Stefanik. Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan confirms that the NRCC called her, and that she's considering the race. Meanwhile, 2010 and 2012 GOP nominee Matt Doheny is also apparently sniffing around, but he hasn't said anything publicly.

PA-06: Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello just became the first Republican to announce for Pennsylvania's open 6th Congressional District. Several other Republicans are still considering bids, though, including former state Rep. Sam Rohrer, businessman Patrick Collins, and state Sen. John Rafferty, according to PoliticsPA. Among Democrats, businessman Mike Parrish is already running, while a bunch more are looking at the contest: state Rep. Mark Rozzi, 2010 and 2012 nominee Manan Trivedi, Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone, and state Sen. Andy Dinniman.

Other Races:

Special Elections: From Johnny:

Arkansas SD-21: Democrats came up far short in their attempt to hold this seat: Republican John Cooper defeated Democrat Steve Rockwell by a 57-43 margin.
With results like these, Democratic hopes of retaking the Arkansas state House look pretty dim.

Grab Bag:

Congress: This is a very cool interactive map, from infographic specialist Marjorie Roswell, showing every congressional committee's membership, by district (for the House) and state (for the Senate). You just selection the committee you're interested in from a pair of pull-down menus and voila, a list of members appears on the side and the map gets colored in appropriately. Try it out—you'll like it.

Votes: The House's vote on Wednesday on the omnibus budget didn't offer a lot of surprises; it passed 359-67, with the nays coming from 64 Republicans and three Democrats. In short, the dystopian caucus voted "no" and everybody else voted "yes."

A few hardliners (Dan Benishek, Tim Walberg) with credible opponents went "aye," as did, oddly Ted Yoho (who made a promising splash in the crazy end of the pool on first arriving in the House but has settled into anonymity lately). However, Mike Coffman—a guy who seems to have one foot in each of the establishment and tea party camps, but at any rate is the House's most endangered non-Gary Miller Republican—continues to tempt fate, with a "no" vote.

On the other hand, a few GOP establishmentarians with something to prove voted "no," including newly-elected Bradley Byrne, who seems to be still getting settled and trying to ward off a primary, and Tom Cotton and Steve Daines, who are still in the rev-up-the-base phases of their Senate races. On the Democratic side, Mike McIntyre still voted against even though he's freed up by not running for re-election. The only other Democratic noes were Raul Grijalva and Rush Holt, obviously from the left. (David Jarman)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wondering why I haven't seen a diary on Jon (0+ / 0-)

    Stewart making Robert Gates look so fantastic last night.

    Otherwise, good morning!

    "Have a good time... all the time." -Viv Savage

    by The House on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 06:29:18 AM PST

  •  Fascinated with FL 13 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ord avg guy

    to see what the campaign themes might predict for the mid terms.

    will anti-ACA be the horse the repugs bet on?  Immigration? Right to life?

    Will the Libertarian be the R spoiler?

    Both sides will be using this race to test market messages

  •  Is there a connection between the many (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mchestnutjr, PhilK

    congressional retirements and the frustration of gridlock?  Has government really been rendered useless by the right?

    An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

    by don mikulecky on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 06:37:56 AM PST

  •  VA08 now goes deep into fairfax county (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GleninCA, ord avg guy

    True the democratic field is huge...and will be interesting how this all plays out.

    The big question at this time will be the nomination mechanism.   Stay tune next week

    Takin it to the Streets! time to GOTV

    by totallynext on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 06:40:33 AM PST

  •  More bad news (0+ / 0-)

    When do we get those 'more and BETTER Democrats' I've heard so much about?

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

    by DaddyO on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 07:04:42 AM PST

    •  Not complaining in CT (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aquarius40, bartcopfan

      The only downgrade we've seen recently was going from Murphy in CT-05 to Esty.  But considering Murphy moved up to the senate and replaced Joe Loserman we're not complaining much.

      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 Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 07:39:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You really need to shut up about Kucinich (0+ / 0-)

    or at least get a clue.

    Was he a little wacky? Yes.

    Is he probably unelectable statewide? Yes. thanks in part to people like you who insist on keeping the "Congressman Moonbeam" narrative going.

    Was he a solidly progressive Democrat - the sort of Democrat this site purports to want to elect? Yes.

    but hey, go ahead and chuckle at that kooky Dennis the Menace.

    Reforms come from below. No man with four aces howls for a new deal.
    Keystone XL will raise gas prices!

    by Turbonerd on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 07:34:14 AM PST

    •  i don't care for the grateful dead either...sue me (0+ / 0-)
    •  was he a solidly progressive Democrat? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aquarius40, askew, Jorge Harris

      He was pro-life in his earlier days, and I don't think someone who urges Democratic legislators to support a devastating Republican gerrymander is the kind of person this site should support.

      ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

      by James Allen on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 08:03:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're right about his record on choice (0+ / 0-)

        After a lengthy "evolution" on the issue he was pro-choice for the last twelve years of his career. But by your reasoning, would you call Reagan a Democrat because he was in his earlier years?

        According to Govtrack, Kucinich was more liberal than all but a handful of other Democrats in Congress.

        Kucinich was:
        - Pro-gun control - "F" rating from the National Rifle Association and 100% lifetime rating from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
        - Pro-civil rights - 89% lifetime rating by the ACLU
        opposes the death penalty
        - Advocated single-payer - initially voted against the ACA because he felt it didn't go FAR ENOUGH, although he voted in favor of the final version of the bill.
        - against corporate welfare for agribusiness
        - against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
        - against cutting Social Security
        - against the Bush tax cuts

        That's what a progressive looks like.

        Your claim about "backing a devastating Republican gerrymander" is crap. He felt the first Republican gerrymander gave him a better shot at retaining his seat than the second, "compromise" Republican gerrymander. How'd that work out, by the way?

        Reforms come from below. No man with four aces howls for a new deal.
        Keystone XL will raise gas prices!

        by Turbonerd on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 08:36:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  its not crap (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          he lobbied Democratic legislators to vote for it. If someone supports Republican gerrymandering I don't care how liberal they are. He obviously doesn't care about accomplishing anything, he just wanted a seat for himself.

          ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

          by James Allen on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 08:54:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Buck McKeon (4+ / 0-)

    That represents a real good pick up opportunity.  Ol Buck is an R+3 district.  The type Dems need to pick up to flip the House.  With Ol Buck there it was all but impossible even though Lee Rodgers got 45% last time out.  Now with McKeon retiring Lee Rodgers has a good shot at winning the seat for the Dems.  The winds are much more favorable for Dems in CA so all these seats will be in play.  The Dems could potentially pick up 3 or so seats in CA alone considering Garry Miller is dead man walking.  

    Also Moran is a very good opportunity for a BETTER Dem.  Moran was way too red for such a blue seat.  

    If we're to have retirements these are the types I'd prefer, old GOP reps in swing seats and moderate Dems in either beat red seats or indigo blue seats.  It moves the congress decidedly left.

    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 Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 07:46:16 AM PST

    •  A request for diarist David Nir.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ...progressives have a shot at landing an upgrade here....
      ...I suspect you will, but just to make it explicit--please help up follow these "upgrade" seats!  And encourage their inclusion in ActBlue/dKos Orange-To-Blue funding!

      I'm in blood-red Oklahoma, so my chances of donating to improve our lot here very much are pretty slim, but I'm glad to support "much-better" Dems elsewhere, in line w/ DisNoir36's comment.

      If it puts the Speaker's gavel in Pelosi's hands again, I can kinda stomach the Blue Dogs in places like mine, but in the blue districts, we oughta have Solid Blue Dems!  (Hmmm, why did I just think of this?!)

      "Push the button, Max!" Jack Lemmon as Professor Fate, The Great Race

      by bartcopfan on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 10:04:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Info on Chopra is wrong (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Woody, HistoryInAction

    Aneesh lost in the primary for Lt. Gov to Ralph Northam, who is now the Lt. Gov.

    He is not a lawyer, but rather is a technology guru.

    And that list has some people who almost certainly will not run and may be leaving out several who may.

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 08:19:42 AM PST

  •  I think Jim Moran is retiring (0+ / 0-)

    because he got tired of people calling his family stupid.

    You guys all know what pic I'm talking about... I'm sure somebody will post it.

  •  Moran retiring is a smart move (0+ / 0-)

    He's been too long at the party and doesn't reflect the modern Democratic party enough.

    In my state of Washington, if Murray and Cantwell became more conservative in their thinking they'd be gone.

    Progress for a more balanced society of opportunity and respect for the tenuous nature of man and nature doesn't happen if you elect people who have not been advocates for both.

    If Moran's county is heavily blue, then it is wise for the DNC to position a progressive in their with a backbone, compassion and charisma that matches their rhetoric by working on being a cog against the GOP.

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