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Leading Off:

OK-Sen-B: The Republican field to replace resigning Sen. Tom Coburn is quickly taking shape. Sophomore Rep. James Lankford announced his entry on Monday, while fellow Rep. Tom Cole and state Attorney General Scott Pruitt are both taking a pass. Meanwhile, freshman Rep. Jim Bridenstine confirms he's looking at the seat, and ex-Rep. J.C. Watts reportedly is as well, as a Watts' protégé, state House Speaker T.W. Shannon.

And as the Club for Growth did last week, the Senate Conservatives Fund is already hammering Lankford, accusing him of voting to "increase the debt limit, raise taxes, and fund Obamacare." This may seem baffling, considering that in the last Congress, Lankford was the 77th most conservative member of the House GOP, according to DW-Nominate. By contrast, tea party saint Louie Gohmert was 73rd. But Lankford, as we've noted, hails from the party's religious wing, and the SCF and their ilk are more interested in provoking fiscal armageddon than in the rapture.

If anyone best fits the movement conservative mold, it would be Bridenstine, who knocked off an incumbent last cycle and quickly became the most right-wing member of Oklahoma's congressional delegation. But some members of his own party are wary of him. One unnamed "GOP observer" tells The Hill:"Most Republicans in the state view him as a little crazy." And the business community apparently sees him as fitting the Ted Cruz/Mike Lee mold, which isn't actually good for business. Could be lots of cat fud ahead.


NE-Sen: As expected, attorney David Domina will run for Nebraska's open Senate seat, rather than challenge GOP Rep. Lee Terry in the 2nd Congressional District. Domina's entry finally gives Democrats a candidate for Senate, but his odds are extremely long. Four Republicans are competing for their party's nomination: wealthy banker Sid Dinsdale, former state Treasurer Shane Osborn, Midland University President Ben Sasse (who looks like the movement conservative favorite), and attorney Bart McLeay.

VA-Sen: Even though the GOP establishment and the Beltway press can't stop themselves from fawning over former RNC chair Ed Gillespie's newly announced Senate bid (here's the latest love letter), state Del. Ben Cline isn't necessarily on board. Cline says that conservative activists are asking him to run, and he says he hasn't ruled out the idea. Since Virginia Republicans are set to nominate their candidate via convention rather than a traditional primary, someone like Cline has the potentially to muck things up.


HI-Gov: Does Duke Aiona have some secret polling data showing Gov. Neil Abercrombie as super unpopular? Or is he just delusional? I'm banking on the latter. Aiona, Hawaii's former Republican lieutenant governor, got walloped 58-41 by Abercrombie in 2010's open seat gubernatorial race, despite that year's huge GOP wave. Now, however, Aiona says he's "very serious" about a rematch and is "very close" to filing paperwork. Yes, Abercrombie's taken his lumps in office, as most incumbents do, but it would take something far out of the ordinary for him to lose in ocean blue Hawaii.

So what's Aiona thinking? It's notable that he declared his interest on a Christian radio station, whose listeners are in tune with his well-known religious beliefs—and in particular, his firm opposition to same-sex marriage. Indeed, Aiona has called for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Hawaii, of course, has gone the other way, with Abercrombie signing a marriage equality law last year. So it feels like Aiona wants to run a campaign catering to the anti-gay marriage dead-enders. With majorities of Hawaiians now supportive of same-sex marriage, that idea can't go very far.

IA-Gov: Jack Hatch (D): $300,000 raised in 2013 (plus $140,000 self loan), $237,000 cash-on-hand.

NY-Gov: Gov. Andrew Cuomo maintains a comically large lead against Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, per Siena—that's hardly a surprise. More interesting may be the death of the Chris Christie boomlet. In November, as Christie was cruising to re-election in the state next door, he held a 47-42 edge over Cuomo in a very, very hypothetical presidential election matchup. Ordinarily these kinds of numbers aren't even worth spending any time on at all, but it's worth noting that Cuomo's now up 55-35 on Christie. Wonder what changed since then.


CA-11: Former Rep. Ellen Tauscher, who represented almost half of the 11th District when she was in Congress, has endorsed Democratic state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier to succeed retiring Rep. George Miller. DeSaulnier actually ran in the special election for Tauscher's seat when she resigned in 2009 to join the State Department, coming in second among Democrats behind now-Rep. John Garamendi. Several other Democrats have expressed an interest in Miller's seat, but so far, only DeSaulnier has announced a bid. And one of those potential rivals has also taken her name out of consideration and given her backing to DeSaulnier: Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla.

CO-05, -Sen: There's not much to go on here, but apparently, someone is conducting a poll pitting state Sen. Owen Hill, who's running for Senate, against Rep. Doug Lamborn, in a hypothetical Republican primary. Hill claims he's not behind the survey, but a GOP consultant, Patrick Davis, says otherwise. (A Hill ally could certainly be the sponsor.) Sliding down a notch to a House race might make sense for Hill, who faces better-known names in the fight for the Senate nomination. But Lamborn fended off a well-financed challenge last cycle from businessman Robert Blaha, who spent over $770,000 of his own money but lost 62-38.

FL-13: Almost a week after the GOP primary, state Rep. Kathleen Peters is finally endorsing lobbyist David Jolly in the March special election for the late Rep. Bill Young's House seat. Last week, though, Peters was insisting that Jolly's victory had "weakened" GOP chances.

MN-07: The Collin Peterson retirement watch continues, as the veteran Democrat has posted his fourth quarter fundraising figures... and they're still kinda ambiguous. On the one hand, he pulled in $165,000, which is not very much for an incumbent, especially one who faces a more serious GOP opponent than he's accustomed to (in the form of state Sen. Torrey Westrom). On the other, Peterson raised just $83,000 in the prior quarter and only $114,000 in the fourth quarter of 2011, when he ultimately decided to seek another term. So by those standards, it looks like he might run again. Peterson still hasn't announced his plans, though, and last cycle, he waited until early March.

NY-21: One more Democratic name for the NY-21 pile: former Oswego Mayor John Sullivan, who says he's considering a bid.

PA-06: Republican interest in retiring Rep. Jim Gerlach's seat seems remarkably low; either that, or no one wants to run against Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello in the GOP primary. Two more Republicans have now backed off bids, state Sen. John Rafferty and biotech executive Patrick Collins, and even Chester County GOP chair Val DiGiorgio is supporting Costello. (DiGiorgio and Costello are known for their frosty relationship.)

As for Democrats, businessman Mike Parrish is still the only candidate running, though four others have not yet ruled out the race: state Rep. Mark Rozzi, 2010 and 2012 nominee Manan Trivedi, Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone, and state Sen. Andy Dinniman.

WV-03: Afghanistan and Iraq veteran Richard Ojeda is launching a challenge to Rep. Nick Rahall in the Democratic primary, and while he might look like a Some Dude, there's a bit of a twist. Ojeda was Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin's guest at the State of the Union address last year, and Manchin put out a statement praising Ojeda at the time. (There may well be video clips, too.) And a primary battle is the last thing that Rahall, who faces the fight for his political life against party-switching state Sen. Evan Jenkins, needs this year.

Other Races:

Special Elections: There's a big one coming up on Tuesday, on which control of the entire Virginia state Senate turns. Johnny Longtorso sums it up:

Virginia SD-33: This is the seat left vacant by Democrat Mark Herring's election to Attorney General, a helicopter-shaped district that takes in parts of Loudoun County (most notably Leesburg and Sterling) and a bit of western Fairfax County (Herndon). Democrats have chosen attorney Jennifer Wexton, who narrowly lost a run for Loudoun County Commonwealth's Attorney in 2011. The Republican nominee is John Whitbeck, chairman of the 10th Congressional District Republican Committee. Throwing a monkey wrench into the mix is Joe May, a former Republican delegate who lost his seat in a primary last year and entered this race as an independent.

At the top of the ballot, the district is decidedly Democratic. Barack Obama carried it 59-39 in 2012, while the 2013 races saw a Democratic sweep: Terry McAuliffe won it 55-40 in November's gubernatorial contest, Ralph Northam won it 61-39 in the race for lieutenant governor, and Herring won it 59-41. However, as we saw in the special election in the 6th District earlier this month, low turnout can make what is on paper a Democratic district difficult to hold.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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