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Leading Off:

OK-Sen-B: Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn had long pledged to leave office at the end of his second term in 2016, but now he's moved his retirement date up. Coburn says that he'll resign at the end of this session of Congress, rather than wait until his term expires. Coburn is fighting a recurrence of cancer, but he says that he's not quitting because of his health. Rather, he claims he's just sticking with his plan to serve "no more than two terms," so I guess he's trying to argue that less is more here.

Coburn's not quitting right this minute but rather is timing his resignation so that a special election can be held at the same time as the regular November elections. It's a strange situation, but Oklahoma happens to have a very unusual law (unearthed by Adam Bonin) that permits office holders to submit an "irrevocable letter of resignation" in advance.

And Coburn has indeed made use of this provision, as Gov. Mary Fallin has set the special election dates to coincide with 2014's regularly scheduled elections. That means a primary will take place on June 24 and a potential runoff (if no candidate clears 50 percent) would happen on Aug. 26.

That means that Oklahoma will, like South Carolina, conduct simultaneous Senate elections this fall, which is why we've designated Coburn's "class III" seat OK-Sen-B. (Sen. Jim Inhofe's becomes OK-Sen-A.) Both seats are safely Republican, but Coburn's will attract plenty of interest from ambitious up-and-comers. In a bit of very good timing, Roll Call's Emily Cahn just published a piece on possible Coburn successors a few days ago, with an eye toward an early special election. (Pretty prescient!)

Cahn suggests that key players would be Rep. Tom Cole, who headed the NRCC during the disastrous 2008 cycle, and Rep. James Lankford, a tea partier from the class of 2010 whose prior job was running a church camp. Another possibility is freshman Rep. Jim Bridenstine, who shocked the establishment by unseating Rep. John Sullivan in the 2012 Republican primary. (And if any of these guys run, that'll in turn open up their House seats.) But one congressman, freshman Rep. Markwayne Mullin, has already said he won't run.

Meanwhile, the Club for Growth is making its displeasure known with both Cole and Lankford. Cole's a pretty bog-standard establishment type while Lankford is more religious conservative than dystopian wrecker, so neither objection is surprising. (The Club spent heavily on state Rep. Kevin Calvey, whom Lankford smashed in the GOP runoff in 2010.)

Other options for the GOP include state Attorney General Scott Pruitt, state Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas, state House Speaker T.W. Shannon, and former Gov. Frank Keating, though in situations like these, more names almost always emerge.

4Q Fundraising:

NJ-Sen: Cory Booker (D-inc): $1.2 million raised, $1.8 million cash-on-hand

WV-03: Nick Rahall (D-inc): $425,000 raised

Race Ratings:

VA-Sen: While we aren't nearly as sold on ex-RNC chief Ed Gillespie's chances as his Beltway fluffers are (check out this masturbatory fantasy to see what we mean), he'll have enough money and enough credibility to take the Virginia Senate race out of the Safe Democrat column. While we still expect Sen. Mark Warner to win, we're moving the contest to Likely Democrat.


IA-Sen: Republican businessman Mark Jacobs is going back on the air, spending $75,000 a week on radio and TV to run the same intro ads he started using before the holidays.

MI-Sen: Rasmussen Reports: Gary Peters (D): 35, Terri Lynn Land (R): 37.

NJ-Sen: GOP state Sen. Mike Doherty says he won't run against Sen. Cory Booker. Republicans are still looking for a candidate here.


OH-Gov: Let's hope they did a much better job vetting this time. Likely Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ed FitzGerald tapped attorney Sharen Neuhardt as his new running mate on Friday, as a replacement for state Sen. Eric Kearney, who was dropped from the ticket last month after revelations that he owed over $800,000 in unpaid taxes. Neuhardt unsuccessfully ran for Congress twice: In 2008, she lost an open seat race in the old 7th District 58-42 to Republican Steve Austria, and in 2012, Rep. Mike Turner beat her 60-37 in the new 10th.

WI-Gov: State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout has decided not to seek the Democratic nomination for governor, citing serious injuries she suffered in a car accident last month. Vinehout said that "I wish success to Mary Burke," the only Democrat actually running against Gov. Scott Walker, but did not offer an endorsement.


CA-11: One more Democratic name for California's newly open 11th District: Former Walnut Creek Councilman Kish Rajan is reportedly considering the race.

FL-13: According to Jessica Taylor, the DCCC is reserving $200,000 in airtime for the coming week to bolster Democrat Alex Sink in the special election.

NY-21: Democratic Assemblywoman Addie Russell, who's been considering a bid to replace retiring Rep. Bill Owens, mostly shot down the idea on Friday but didn't rule it out entirely. Russell said she "plan[s]" to seek re-election to the Assembly but is "not completely closing the door" to the congressional race.

Republican state Sen. Elizabeth Little also used the same language, saying that she, too, was "not closing the door" on a run. But Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan definitely has. Even though the NRCC had reached out to her as an upgrade to their current horse, Elise Stefanik, Hogan is a firm no.

On more Democrat also says he's considering the race, former state Sen. Darrel Aubertine. Aubertine won a very difficult special election in the North Country in 2008, but after securing a full term that fall, he was booted in the GOP wave of 2010.

PA-06: Former GOP state Sen. Sam Rohrer, who waged unsuccessful primary bids for governor in 2010 and for the Senate in 2012, says he won't seek Pennsylvania's open 6th District this year.

VA-10: Mother Jones' Molly Redden has done a great job rounding up all the offensive, lunatic things that state Sen. Dick Black, who is seeking the GOP nomination for Virginia's open 10th District, has said and done over the years. Among his most famous was Black's proclamation that a husband could never be convicted of raping his wife "when they're living together, sleeping in the same bed, she's in a nightie, and so forth," but there are many other gems, like when he called emergency contraceptives "baby pesticide."

And if you want some background on the other top Republican in the race, state Del. Barbara Comstock, travel back to 2004, when Joshua Green detailed her role in heading up the RNC's opposition research team that devoted itself to smearing Al Gore four years earlier, with little regard for the truth.

Other Races:

IN Ballot: Last year, as Indiana Republicans geared up to put an amendment banning same sex marriage on the ballot, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the legislature would easily give the measure its seal of approval. But now, with opposition to the amendment accelerating—and attitudes toward gay marriage continuing to shift—things aren't looking so certain.

The first hurdle the amendment must clear is the state House Judiciary Committee, which the GOP controls by a wide nine to four margin. All four Democrats are opposed to the law, but according to The Times of Northwest Indiana, three Republicans "are believed to be considering" voting against the amendment in committee. That would kill it dead.

In response, Republican state House Speaker Brian Bosma says he's thinking about removing these dissident members from the committee! That would stack the deck in his favor, of course, but those kind of shenanigans definitely do not play well with the press and public. It also really says something that the Indiana GOP has been reduced to such chicanery. And even if they "succeed," they may still fail, as polls show the amendment is definitely not guaranteed passage even if it does make it on the ballot.

VA State Senate: As expected, Republican Wayne Coleman, who lost the special election to fill Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam's seat to Democrat Lynwood Lewis by just nine votes earlier this month, has filed for a recount. The review could take place as early as this week, and it should go quickly. All of the jurisdictions in the 6th District use electronic voting machines, which means there are no paper ballots to scrutinize. Indeed, a "recount" here really just means double-checking the totals that the machines spit out, so the result is only likely to change if there was a transcription error somewhere along the way—something that's very possible.

Grab Bag:

Dark Money: It's hard to keep track of the many super PACs that pop up, not just because many of them have short lifespans or morph into something else, but also because of their deliberately opaque names (Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, anyone?). So National Journal's Scott Bland does us all a real solid, with a listicle that's not likely to climb the charts at Buzzfeed but should be popular at Daily Kos Election: "10 Super PACs You've Never Heard of That Will Make News in 2014." It'll help you keep straight which of the various third-party actors are on which side, when you see them popping up regularly in, say, the Alaska and North Carolina Senate races this year. (Case in point: WolfHeel PAC = us; Grow NC Strong = them.) (David Jarman)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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