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Leading Off:

CA-25: In an unsurprising move that breaks up a string of five straight Democratic retirements, Republican Rep. Buck McKeon finally announced on Thursday that he won't seek re-election this fall. McKeon had repeatedly pushed back against retirement rumors all cycle, even doing so earlier this week. But many factors augured for McKeon's departure, including his age (75), his tenure (22 years), and the fact that he'd have had to relinquish his chairmanship of the Armed Services Committee had he won another term—something he called his "biggest motivator" for leaving.

McKeon also experienced the closest election of his long career last cycle, hanging on by a 55-45 margin against an underfunded opponent, podiatrist Lee Rogers. A big reason for the relative closeness of the race is the fact that this area has trended hard toward Democrats in recent years. In 2004, in a mostly similar district, George W. Bush prevailed by 19 points. In 2012, Mitt Romney won by just 2. McKeon simply hadn't adjusted.

Rogers was seeking a rematch and had actually outraised McKeon in the third quarter of last year, portending a legitimate challenge for a rusty incumbent. With McKeon gone, though, Democratic chances for a pickup will improve. Two Republicans had already declared they'd seek McKeon's seat if it opened up: former state Sen. Tony Strickland and current state Sen. Steve Knight. Both are quite conservative, but Strickland is the establishment pick (and McKeon's preferred successor) while movement conservatives are embracing Knight. Democrats can only hope they bash each other to death, as they seem wont to do.

The party may also try to find a candidate stronger than Rogers, though the bench here is not deep. A big difficulty for Democrats here will be countering midterm falloff, so for now, we're maintaining our rating of Likely Republican. But given the vagaries of open seat races, our outlook could very well change.

4Q Fundraising:

KY-Sen: Matt Bevin (R): $900,000 raised (does not include self-funding)

NH-Sen: Jeanne Shaheen (D-inc): $1.1 million raised, $3.4 million cash-on-hand

CO-Gov: John Hickenlooper (D-inc): $421,000 raised, $1.05 million cash-on-hand; Tom Tancredo (R): $192,000 raised, $109,000 cash-on-hand; Scott Gessler (R): $124,000 raised, $114,000 cash-on-hand; Greg Brophy (R): $52,000 raised, $46,000 cash-on-hand

IL-Gov: Pat Quinn (D-inc): $1.88 million raised, $4.5 million cash-on-hand; Bruce Rauner (R): $4.1 million raised (includes self-funding), $396,000 cash-on-hand (check out that burn rate!); Dan Rutherford (R): $393,000 raised, $1.4 million cash-on-hand; Kirk Dillard (R): $329,000 raised, $145,000 cash-on-hand; Bill Brady (R): $74,000 raised, $271,000 cash-on-hand

MD-Gov: Anthony Brown (D): $5.4 million raised (in 2013), $7.1 million cash-on-hand; Doug Gansler (D): $1.7 million raised (in 2013), $6.3 million cash-on-hand; Heather Mizeur (D): $1.1 million raised (in 2013), $750,000 cash-on-hand

NY-Gov: Andrew Cuomo (D-inc): $7 million raised (in second half of 2013), $33 million cash-on-hand

AR-02: French Hill (R): $568,000 raised, $534,000 cash-on-hand

KY-06: Elizabeth Jensen (D): $100,000 raised, $245,000 cash-on-hand

NY-23: Martha Robertson (D): $265,000 raised, $500,000 cash-on-hand

Senate:

LA-Sen: Republican state Rep. Paul Hollis is airing his first ads, one of which is a platitude-filled introductory spot (with a few jabs at Obamacare), set to soaring music that winds up sounding corny. There's no word on how much he's spending.

VA-Sen: As expected, former RNC chief Ed Gillespie, who ran the organization during George W. Bush's re-election campaign, has made his bid against Democratic Sen. Mark Warner official.

Gubernatorial:

CA-Gov: Welp, there goes Abel Maldonado. The former lieutenant governor evidently realized that no Republican was going to beat Gov. Jerry Brown this year, so he pulled the plug on his campaign on Thursday. Or perhaps he was just terrified of Tim Donnelly's huge balls.

IA-Gov: Finally. Republican Terry Branstad, the longest-serving governor in American history, has, at long last, officially kicked off his bid for a sixth term. For typically inscrutable reasons, Branstad had refused to confirm his intentions until now, even though he'd taken made steps toward another run, including raising plenty of money. (He has $4 million in the bank.) The only notable Democrat running is state Sen. Jack Hatch, who faces a very uphill challenge. (Another state senator, Janet Petersen, recently declined.) Daily Kos Elections currently rates this race as Likely Republican.

House:

AZ-01, AZ-02: The House Majority PAC is running two new ads in Arizona, aimed at pushing back against Americans for Prosperity's Obamacare assault. In the 1st, they're airing a positive spot on behalf of Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, claiming she "blew the whistle on the disastrous healthcare website" and "worked to fix it." I don't know that this was exactly a whistle-blower type of situation ....

Anyhow, HMP's ad for Rep. Ron Barber in the 2nd goes in a very different direction. It lambastes the Koch brothers (not by name, though a picture of them does appear on screen) as "out-of-state billionaires" who want to "eliminate[] the minimum wage" and "privatize[] Social Security"—hence, the narrator says, their support for kindred spirit Martha McSally, the likely Republican nominee. HMP says the combined buy for both ads is $200,000.

FL-13: A new survey from St. Pete Polls, on behalf of the ethically troubled website St. Petersblog, finds Republican lobbyist David Jolly leading his Democratic opponent, former state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, by a 47-43 margin, with Libertarian Lucas Overby at 4. That's a big change from the 49-36 advantage they found for Sink in early December, but there are many, many reasons to be skeptical.

For one, this was a one-day robopoll taken the day after Jolly won the GOP primary, so a "primary bounce" is very possible, and polling for just a single day is a crummy practice. But that's almost giving St. Pete too much credit.

The poll's sample is 47 percent Republican, 35 percent Democratic, and 17 percent independent, yet according to voter registration statistics, the 13th District is 37 percent Republican, 35 percent Democratic, and 24 percent independent. Sure, a special election electorate is likely to be redder than the registration figures, but 10 points redder?

More broadly, St. Pete had an awful, awful track record in 2012. They polled a ton of House races and blew them, badly:

FL-02: St. Pete: Southerland (R) 47-47; actual: Southerland (R) 53-47; error: +6 D

FL-09: St. Pete: Grayson (D) 45-40; actual: Grayson (D) 63-37; error: +21 R

FL-10: St. Pete: Webster (R) 50-42; actual: Webster (R) 52-48; error: +4 R

FL-13: St. Pete: Young (R) 54-37; actual: Young (R) 58-42; error: +1 R

FL-16: St. Pete: Buchanan (R) 55-38; actual: Buchanan (R) 54-46; error: +9 R

FL-18: St. Pete: West (R) 51-42; actual: Murphy (D) 50.3-49.7; error: +9.6 R

FL-22: St. Pete: Frankel (D) 48-45; actual: Frankel (D) 55-45; error: +7 R

FL-26: St. Pete: Rivera (R) 46-43; actual: Garcia (D) 54-43; error: +14 R

Not only did St. Pete miss the mark widely in almost every race, but they missed consistently in the Republican direction. (Check out the comical results in the 26th and especially the 9th.) Even more shamefully, in their own self-graded scorecard after the election, St. Pete ignored all of these misses. Instead, they focused on a few strange last-minute polls they conducted only of early voters. By luck, those happened to suck somewhat less, but seriously, you can't survey just a portion of the electorate. WTF?

So you can trust St. Pete Polls if you want. But this is a firm that uses a questionable methodology, winds up with excessively Republican samples, and consistently leans to the right, yielding very poor results. You could almost call St. Pete the Rasmussen of Florida—and would you trust Rasmussen with anything? Let's wait until we have some more reliable polling data that's actually worth something.

Jolly can take comfort in this poll if he'd like, but there's at least one Republican not ready to support him: state Rep. Kathleen Peters, his chief primary rival. Peters isn't endorsing Jolly and she says his presence on the ticket has "weakened" Republican chances of holding the seat. Despite claiming she had "nothing but good things to say" about Jolly, Peters said she's concerned whether voters will be able to "trust" a "lobbyist who represents special interests." That last line almost exactly parrots the chief Democratic attack on Jolly, which is something you never want to see members of your own party doing.

Jolly is getting some quick help from the NRCC, though, which already filed a report for a $94,000 independent expenditure on "media." Abby Livingston says the money is at least partly for a web ad that attacks Sink for allegedly spending taxpayer money on herself.

IA-03: State Sen. Matt McCoy, one of the few additional Democrats whose name had surfaced since Rep. Tom Latham's surprise retirement, says that he won't run for Congress and will instead seek re-election to his current post. That makes it more likely that former state Sen. Staci Appel will cruise to the nomination, though ex-Gov. Chet Culver is now saying that he, too, is interested. However, Culver also floated a possible gubernatorial comeback bid last year but then kinda just disappeared, so who knows if he'll ever follow through.

NY-04: Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, who is the most prominent elected Democrat looking at a possible bid to succeed retiring Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, visited Washington, D.C. this week. Her office wouldn't comment on the trip except to say that there were "no taxpayer funds involved," which means it was likely made for political rather than official purposes.

NY-21: Whatever happens in New York's 21st, Doug Hoffman won't be around to screw things up. Hoffman, you'll recall, was the Conservative Party candidate in 2009 who eventually forced Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava out of the race, leading to a split that elected Bill Owens (who's now retiring). Hoffman ran on the Conservative line again in 2010, saving Owens' ass in an impossible year by siphoning off just enough votes from Matt Doheny, who'd beaten Hoffman in the GOP primary. Hoffman isn't getting back into the action, though; instead, he's endorsing former George W. Bush aide Elise Stefanik. The NRCC is looking around for better options, though, so maybe Hoffman's support could still cause some trouble.

And we could still wind up seeing some of these players return for a second (or third) act. The Watertown Daily Times notes that neither Scozzafava—who became a Democrat not long after that ill-fated election—nor Doheny has spoken publicly about running again. However, Democrat Jonathan Cardinal, an aide to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, says he's looking at a bid. (Also, here's an amusingly awkward detail: Ex-Rep. Scott Murphy is a brother-in-law of Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan, both of whom are considering the race.)

PA-06: Phil LaRue, the communications director for the New Democrat Coalition, had been looking at a bid for Pennsylvania's open 6th District, but now he's decided not to run.

Grab Bag:

Blue Dogs: The moribund Blue Dog Coalition—down to just 15 members from its 2010 peak of 54—has somehow managed to add four new recruits: Reps. Ron Barber (AZ-02), Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09), and Nick Rahall (WV-03). Sinema's name merits a chuckle: She was a spokesperson for Ralph Nader in 2000 and once described herself as a "Prada socialist." Her opportunism is nothing new, though, and like the other members on this list, she probably thinks that the Blue Dogs offer a cloak of conservatism that will help her win re-election.

Rahall, if anything, is a bit more of a surprise. He'd long resisted joining but now he faces what will probably be his most difficult campaign to date. Rahall's move is a bit reminiscent of ex-Rep. Larry Kissell's last cycle; Kissell had also spurned the Blue Dogs for his entire congressional tenure until his career was on the line. Kissell lost anyway, thanks mostly to redistricting but also to ineptitude.

VRA: In a rare display of comity, Democrats and Republicans jointly introduced new legislation on Thursday to repair the Voting Rights Act, whose signature enforcement mechanism was gutted by the Supreme Court last year. While far from perfect, the bill would restore a good deal of power to the VRA; rather than summarize its key provisions myself, I would strongly encourage you to read Ari Berman's excellent piece explaining what the new law would do. Despite the bill's bipartisan provenance (and the concessions Democrats made to ensure it would be acceptable to at least some Republicans), it's not clear whether it will ever come up for a vote, but it's a start.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (12+ / 0-)

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

    by David Nir on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 05:00:17 AM PST

  •  Your thoughts on CA-33? (0+ / 0-)

    I'm in the Henry Wallace part of the Democratic Party.

    by CTDemoFarmer on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 05:04:05 AM PST

  •  WI-Gov: Vinehout issues official statement... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Remediator, Stude Dude, abgin, Puddytat

    ...saying that she's not running.

    Vinehout refused to say whether or not she'll run for re-election to her state senate seat, although the fact that she has cited an arm injury as her reason for not running for governor may be an indication that she may not be a candidate for public office at all in 2014.

    Additionally, Vinehout refused to endorse Mary Burke, although she did "wish success" to her.

    There are three natural adversaries of the progressive movement: Republicans, the Democratic establishment, and the mainstream media

    by DownstateDemocrat on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 05:06:59 AM PST

  •  it is a sign (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stude Dude, whizdom, Russ Jarmusch

    of just how bad people understand polling that they are talking about st pete polls at all.

    They are basically a fraud.

    And yet I have seen this number repeated over and over.

    Look, at either a pollster is trust worthy or not.  If they aren't then they shouldn't be discussed at all.

    Having said that, the CW that Sink is a heavy favorite in this race has always struck me as very wrong.

    •  I think the race is closer (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Russ Jarmusch

      than CW has been saying.  I think it will come down to campaigning and turnout.
      So far Sink seems to be OK.
       A lot depends on how much National money Jolly can get, Sink has a huge $ advantage and it is showing in the production quality in her ads.
      It is a special election in a peculiar district, recently redrawn to exclude heavy D parts of St. Pete,
      we can't take anything for granted

      •  I've been saying from the beginning (5+ / 0-)

        That the most likely scenario for FL-13 is a Sink win by somewhere between 4-10 points.  The GOP will try their best (and should have some success) at nationalizing the race.  Thing is Scott and the FL GOP are a good deal more unpopular than Obama, so Sink has a strong rebuttal to counterattack.

        Intelligence agencies keep things secret because they often violate the rule of law or of good behavior. -Julian Assange-

        by ChadmanFL on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 06:46:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I say let them think they're winning (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aquarius40

      It was far more satisfying seeing Mitt Rmoney and Paul Ayn Ryan get emotionally crushed after they lost an election they were certain they were going to win.  

      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 Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 08:33:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  If you are interested in NY-21 (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell, BachFan, Odysseus, Aquarius40

    There is a discussion of potential Democratic contenders on Upstate Blue's (last night) diary NY-21 - What's Next for Democrats in New York's 21st Congressional District?

  •  Blue Dogs? (0+ / 0-)

    They actually call themselves that? All this time I thought that it was just political slang....

    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 06:18:19 AM PST

  •  Branstad (0+ / 0-)

    Well, he beat out Robert Ray as the mostest Governor for life.

    I saw him and Gopher Grandy at a Farm Rally in Moorhead, Iowa on Halloween '86. They were distancing themselves from the "keep the grain, export the farmers" guy.....

    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 06:21:58 AM PST

  •  I see that Pat Quinn is socking away cash nicely.. (0+ / 0-)

    .and it got me to asking an odd question spurred by our recent move from Illinois to Texas.

    Quinn is no Rod Blagojevich, but Illinois remains a mess and it seems that, in a rational world, Quinn should not feel very safe in his seat, even in blue Illinois.

    That said -- I got to thinking about the effect of out-migration.  Illinois is losing population to other states, and I wonder if that out-migration helps or hurts Democrats in the state.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 06:24:04 AM PST

  •  Another Dem candidate in Georgia (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus

    Amy Tavio just announced as a Democratic Candidate in Georgia's 1st District.  The district which houses the city of Savannah and its suburbs, plus a large swath of conservative rural south Georgia, has been represented by Jack Kingston. Kingston of "kids should sweep the cafeteria for their lunch" fame is running for the Republican nomination for Senate.  The district has similar voting characteristics to the adjacent 12th district where John Barrow has served for 10 years.  (Admittedly in a district that has been more shape-shifting than an ameoba.)  Given the open seat this is a pickup opportunity for Team Dem, although a tough one.

    Reporting from Tea Bagger occupied America

    by DrJohnB on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 06:53:04 AM PST

  •  in CA-25, Rogers will be a stronger candidate (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, FogCityJohn, feebog, Odysseus

    than he was last cycle. This time around he's getting DCCC support. The district is trending blue. Strickland is the establishment, but he's also a carpetbagger with very little ties to the district (he had been a perennial elected/candidate in Ventura County, most recently losing to Julia Brownley in CA-26) who believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman, only. Keep an eye on it.

    •  I grew up in CA-25 (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RLMiller, Aquarius40, Odysseus

      I think this is a definite pickup opportunity, and a place where some energy and effort could have a big payoff into making this a reliable Democratic seat.

      The area has been trending left as it becomes more populated, as it is less dependent on defense jobs, and as the conservatives that originally moved there leave.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 08:11:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  CA-25 = 45% white (0+ / 0-)

    35% Latino
    8% Black
    7.7% Asian

    Sounds like a GOTV might make things a bit closer but recent election votes (except Obama narrowly defeating Rmoney) are not encouraging. I expect that minority voters are staying home in droves.

    What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. Henry VI Part II Act 3 Scene 2

    by TerryDarc on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 09:09:53 AM PST

  •  CA-25 is probably not a good prospect (0+ / 0-)

    The most likely outcome in 2014 is the same disaster that happened last election (2012) in CA-31.

    Living in this district, I feel it's already been written off by both the California Dem Party and the DCCC. Rogers says he has some vague support, but I'm beginning to doubt it.

    Steve (son of Pete) Knight and Tony Strickland will definitely go at each other like wild animals. They represent different factions within the hard-right. And, they will likely do so all the way to the November election. Please don't make any assumptions about Lee Rogers making it past the June primary. One of the two right wingers would have to make a major mistake for any Democrat to make it past June 3rd in this district.

    Only 30% percent of the vote in the June primary is Democratic Party. That will be split three ways with three candidates currently running. The two right-wingers will split about 70% of the votes pretty evenly, and they will both advance to the November election.

    Another Bernie Sanders Gay Democrat.

    by brunoboy on Fri Jan 17, 2014 at 12:30:43 PM PST

    •  The Palmdale city council general election (0+ / 0-)

      is on the same ballot as the primary.  It's a huge deal for minorities in Palmdale, as this is a court-ordered election which redistricts the city to enfranchise minorities.  There is also the open race for county sheriff.  I expect much better than usual Democratic turnout in June.

      Also, with both the AD-36 (flipped blue in 2012) and CA-25 (open) actually competitive, the number of Democrats who blow off the midterm as a waste of time, should be down from previous years.

      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 Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 04:56:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sensenbrenner-Conyers-Leahy bill (0+ / 0-)

    Conyers and Sensenbrenner are 2nd and 8th respectively on the House seniority list, with a combined 84 years in the House.  Leahy has the longest seniority in the Senate at 39 years.  All 3 of them are among the 14 members of of the legislative branch who were first elected before Reagan's successful bid for the White House.    It's an echo of a lost era.

    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 Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 05:37:38 AM PST

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