• CA-33: Another veteran California Democrat is saying goodbye after a 40-year career in Congress. Los Angeles-area Rep. Henry Waxman, who put together a storied legislative track record during his long tenure, announced on Thursday that he won't seek re-election this fall. Along with the Bay Area's George Miller, who is also retiring, Waxman was one of just two remaining "Watergate babies" who served continuously since storming into office in 1974, in a backlash against the Republican Party following Richard Nixon's resignation. The Washington Post sums up several of his most notable accomplishments:
Among that legislation were laws to make infant formula safer and more nutritious (1980), bring low-priced generic drugs to market (1984), clean the air (1990), provide services and medical care to people with AIDS (1996), and reform and modernize the Postal Service (2006). He was also instrumental in the passage of the Affordable Care Act.Waxman was also one of the chief architects of the cap-and-trade legislation to fight climate change that Republicans killed off a few years ago (even though the idea originated with their party). Now, though, Waxman simply says, "This is a good time to move on and have another chapter if I am to do anything after Congress." He also added that he's "not leaving because I think House Democrats have no chance to retake the House."
Waxman's 33rd District, which went for Barack Obama by a 61-37 margin, is safely Democratic. Waxman did suffer a scare last cycle, winning by just 8 points—the closest election of his career by far—against self-funding Republican-turned-independent businessman Bill Bloomfield. That may have been partly caused by rust, but it was also very likely due to redistricting, which left Waxman with a much less liberal district that was half-new to him.
Head below the fold to learn more about who might succeed Waxman.
Indeed, Bloomfield may well run again. A couple of weeks ago, he said he was still making up his mind but noted that last cycle, he didn't decide until March, so he feels he has plenty of time. He's also still sending out mailers and maintaining an active email list, so Bloomfield seems very much like a candidate-in-waiting.
There's another independent in the mix, author and spiritualist Marianne Williamson, who'd been running to Waxman's left (if such a thing is even possible) before he announced his retirement. But apart from Bloomfield, potential successors are going to hail from the deep pool of Democrats who have been waiting a long time for this seat to open up.
One candidate has already declared: former L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel, who lost a bruising race for mayor last year during which Bill Clinton campaigned for her. Greuel is also a former DreamWorks executive and therefore has Hollywood connections. But she almost certainly won't have the field to herself. Some other possibilities (in alphabetical order):
• Assemblyman Richard Bloom ("considering it")Others getting Great Mentioner treatment: term-limited Secretary of State Debra Bowen; L.A. City Council Members Paul Koretz and Bob Blumenfield; former state Assemblywoman Betsy Butler; radio host Matt Miller; and even former Rep. Howard Berman, who lost a bitter redistricting-induced battle against fellow Rep. Brad Sherman last cycle.
Former state Sen. Sheila Kuehl and former Santa Monica Mayor Bobby Shriver are saying no; both are sticking with their plans to run for the powerful L.A. County Board of Supervisors. And Rep. Julia Brownley is staying put. Brownley represents the neighboring (and much swingier) 26th District, but her old Assembly district overlapped more with the 33rd, so a switch was conceivable.
The real question for Democrats is whether they can put forward a candidate who can run strongly enough in the southern part of the district, which is more heavily Republican. You can see that illustrated well on this interactive map of the 2012 presidential election, in the red blister at the bottom that covers the region known as the South Bay. What's more, this area is not part of the city of Los Angeles, so a candidate known primarily there (such as Greuel) would have to work hard to make herself known district-wide. If not, Bloomfield could very well pull off a win this time.
• MS-Sen: A new pro-Thad Cochran super PAC called Mississippi Conservatives is airing a new ad attacking state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is challenging Cochran in the GOP primary. The spot lambastes McDaniel as a flip-flopping chameleon who at various times either favored or opposed tort reform, government debt, and the Common Core education standards. There's no word on the size of the buy.
• NC-Sen: He's not quite last in, first out—physician Edward Kryn joined the race more recently—but less than three months after entering the GOP primary for Senate, radio host Bill Flynn is signing off.
• NH-Sen: The ostensibly bipartisan communications firm Purple Strategies has released a new poll of New Hampshire, and they find Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen tied with former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown at 44. That's the best result for Brown in all public polling to date, and the first that doesn't feature Shaheen leading. Purple Strategies doesn't have much of a track record, though, and almost all of their previous research has been on the presidential level.
It appears they only published four polls from October onward in 2012, and all leaned in the Republican direction. Their final Virginia poll had the race tied (Obama won by 4); Colorado had Obama up 1 (he won by 5); and Ohio had Obama ahead 2 (he won by 3). Their final national poll had Obama beating Romney by just 1 point, when of course he prevailed by 4. So nothing too egregious, I suppose, and the sample is small, but the misses were all in one direction.
• OK-Sen-B, -Gov: Conservative former state Sen. Randy Brogdon announced last month that he'd challenge Gov. Mary Fallin in the GOP primary, but now he says he's considering a switch to this fall's special election for the Senate. Brogdon previously ran against Fallin in 2010 when the governor's race was open, losing the Republican nomination 55-39.
• VA-Sen: Dear Republican voters who are disgusted with your party and want to make a big show of acting like you won't support it anymore by telling pollsters you're going to vote third-party but are actually full for it and will of course come home in the end and pull the GOP lever like always: good news! Libertarian Robert Sarvis, who pulled 6.5 percent in last year's race for governor after polling in the double digits, says he'll run for Senate this fall. So watch out, analysts, because Sarvis may once again queer the results of public polls, or to put things another way: Republicans in mirror may be closer than they appear.
• FL-Gov: Quinnipiac has much more positive numbers for Democrat Charlie Crist than PPP recently did, finding the former governor up 46-38 over Rick Scott, the man who succeeded him. Unlike PPP, who found Crist's margin dropping from 12 points to just 2, Quinnipiac sees no erosion for Crist, who held a 47-40 lead in November. So who's right? PPP's crosstabs were kinda wonky, but there isn't much other data out there to compare against. The only other recent survey, from Democratic pollster Hamilton Strategies, had Crist up 5, which splits the difference.
• MA-Gov: Purple Strategies also has a poll of the open Massachusetts gubernatorial race. They find Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley beating 2010 GOP nominee Charlie Baker 46-36, though Baker edges state Treasurer Steve Grossman 35-34. Barack Obama's favorability rating is just 49-42.
• NE-Gov: Seriously? State Attorney General Jon Bruning gave up on the idea of a gubernatorial bid last month, but now—with the filing deadline just over two weeks away—he says he's reconsidering. Bruning already has two failed bids for Senate under his belt, but the Republican field isn't especially impressive, considering that the nominal frontrunner is Pete Ricketts, another failed Senate candidate. So who knows? Maybe Bruning would have a decent shot.
• PA-Gov: Businessman Tom Wolf is the second Democrat to go on the air in the Pennsylvania governor's race, but unlike Katie McGinty, he's actually putting real money behind his spot: $370,000 according to PoliticsPA, for a weeklong statewide buy. The ad itself is a minute long and actually pretty appealing. Wolf and his family members talk about his background, including the cabinetry company he built to make his fortune (and where he shares profits with his employees), as well as his service to the state as revenue director. It's hard to make biographical spots feel compelling and authentic, but this one does a decent job.
• CA-11: Well, it's pretty much all over. Not only has just about every major Democrat deferred to state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, but now the very man DeSaulnier's hoping to succeed, retiring Rep. George Miller, has endorsed him as well.
• FL-13: A trio of Republican groups are reportedly set to pour $1.2 million into the special election in Florida's 13th on behalf of lobbyist David Jolly. According to Politico, American Crossroads and the American Action Network are each spending $500,000, while the YG Network is contributing $200,000 to the cause, for television ads and mailers. The same pieces notes, though, that Democrats have already reserved $3 million in TV time while Republicans had only reserved $900,000, but that's presumably not counting this newest infusion of money.
Jolly's also running a second general election ad in which he basically just goes tit-for-tat with his imagined version of Alex Sink: He wants to "balance the budget," she wants "government to spend more"; he wants lower taxes, she wants higher taxes; she supports Obamacare, he doesn't. You get the idea.
• NJ-02: Even though state Sen. Jeff Van Drew just said he wouldn't run for Congress, it looks like attorney Bill Hughes will have company in the Democratic primary anyway. Former White House aide and Obama campaign staffer Dave Cole says he's entering the race to take on GOP Rep. Frank LoBiondo. However, Cole is only 28 years old, and the Philadelphia Inquirer says he "recently played a key role in developing healthcare.gov," which, fairly or not, is pretty much the worst possible item to sport on your résumé this year aside from West Virginia water quality inspector and Justin Bieber life coach.
• NY-04: The DCCC got their huckleberry: Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, by far the strongest candidate on either side, announced on Wednesday that she'd seek the seat held by retiring Rep. Carolyn McCarthy. There's a good chance Rice's entry will deter prominent Republicans from giving the race a go, and she's also likely to have the Democratic field to herself as well, seeing as McCarthy has already endorsed her.
• VA-08: State Sen. Adam Ebbin is the latest Democrat to enter the phenomenally crowded race for retiring Rep. Jim Moran's seat, while Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille has confirmed earlier reports that he, too, is running, and so has former Lt. Gov. Don Beyer. They join Dels. Mark Sickles, Charniele Herring, and Patrick Hope, and 2012 candidate Bruce Shuttleworth—and there are still more candidates considering!
• IN Ballot: If you've been following the saga of the proposed constitutional amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage in Indiana, things have gotten pretty crazy, and the measure's in something like a state of quantum superposition right now. Here's the story: The state House finally passed the amendment (following some legislative shenanigans at the committee level), but only after language that would have also banned civil unions was stripped out. Now the bill goes before the state Senate, but Republicans have a serious problem to contend with, because the only way an amendment can get on the ballot is if it's passed by two consecutive legislatures.
So if the Senate follows suit and also removes the anti-civil unions provision, then suddenly we're dealing with a brand new amendment. The clock would therefore reset, meaning that the next legislature (the one that will convene in 2015) would also have to vote in favor of the amendment—and it wouldn't go before voters until Nov. 2016. That's a dicey proposition, given that attitudes keep shifting toward greater acceptance of marriage equality.
On the other hand, if the Senate insists on keeping the civil unions ban (and can actually pass it), then the amendment will ultimately have to get voted on by the House a second time. That's also a dicey proposition, since members of the lower chamber clearly didn't want to vote on legislation that included such expansive restrictions. So if the Senate sticks to a hard line, it's not impossible that the measure could die in the House.
But if the maximal version does somehow pass both bodies and make it on to the ballot this year, then Republicans will have to sell an extremely conservative law to the public. And thanks to this whole pathetic affair, the amendment's unpopular anti-civil unions component will receive even greater scrutiny going forward. Given that polling already shows a very uncertain future for the amendment, the Indiana GOP is in an unenviable position. Every option they face sucks for them—and that's good news.
• KY State House: One legislative chamber that's certain to be hotly contested this fall is the Kentucky state House, one of the only bodies in the South still held by Democrats. The party's majority is quite narrow—just 54 seats to 46 for the GOP—and of course the Bluegrass State has trended consistently redder for quite some time. However, only 45 seats will actually be contested by both parties, and Republicans failed to field candidates against several Democratic incumbents who sit in difficult districts. It will still be a very difficult hold for Team Blue, but the landscape at least looks somewhat less tough than it could have been.