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Leading Off:

SD Mayor: SurveyUSA's final poll of the San Diego mayoral special election looks like the last word we'll have ahead of Tuesday's vote, and that word is "tight." SUSA's been all over the place since day one, but their latest numbers now have Republican Kevin Faulconer ahead of Democrat David Alvarez by the narrowest of margins, just 47-46. If you believe in the trendlines, then Alvarez has gone from down 16, to down 5, to down a single point, suggesting that he's surging right through the end, just as he did before the primary.

But given SUSA's up-and-down weirdness, the race may have been close all along. We'll find out very soon—and we'll finally start putting the nightmare created by ex-Mayor Bob Filner, who just settled the sexual harassment suit that triggered his resignation and this special election, behind us.


IL-Gov: For some weeks now, a strange dispute has been brewing in the GOP gubernatorial primary between wealthy venture capitalist Bruce Rauner and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford. We hadn't written it up before because, frankly, the details were totally sketchy and the whole story didn't make sense. But now we have some clarity. A former employee of Rutherford's, Ed Michalowski, has accused him of sexual harassment in a lawsuit, the details of which were made public for the first time on Monday.

Previously, Rutherford had accused Rauner of being behind... something—some sort of allegedly underhanded campaign to get him—but it just wasn't clear what Rutherford was getting at. It turns out that Michalowski's attorney was once paid to review a lease by Rauner, which Rutherford held out as some kind of proof of a conspiracy. Michalowski denies the charge and says he's never met Rauner; Rutherford, too, denies Michalowski's harassment claims. But with the primary just five weeks away, the timing of this suit is pretty awful for Rutherford.

NE-Gov: With just days to go until the filing deadline, Attorney General Jon Bruning finally decided to enter Nebraska's open-seat race for governor. Bruning, who lost in the GOP primary for Senate last cycle, initially declared he wouldn't run, following a colon cancer scare last year. But following surgery, Bruning said he was cancer-free and began reconsidering his choice.

Despite his recent electoral failure, Bruning start off as a serious contender for the Republican nomination, in a field that lacks a single dominant name. His two chief rivals are wealthy businessman Pete Ricketts and state Auditor Mike Foley, though Bruning led both of them in a recent Harper poll with 35 percent while Ricketts took 16 and Foley 14. Still, Bruning only has three months to play catch-up, as the primary is May 13.

PA-Gov: State Treasurer Rob McCord came into Saturday's meeting of Pennsylvania's Democratic state committee in the pole position for the party's official endorsement, but he failed to convert that into a victory. McCord received the support just under half of the delegates, far short of the two-thirds he needed. (Rep. Allyson Schwartz took about a quarter.) Endorsees receive access to the state party's voter file and can also take advantage of its cheaper bulk mail rates, but perversely enough, the endorsement actually doesn't seem to help very much.

Indeed, according to a PoliticsPA analysis by Keegan Gibson last year, over the last two decades, endorsed Democrats won contested statewide primaries just 45 percent of the time. Republican endorsees, meanwhile, prevailed in 88 percent of contested races. So why is the Democratic endorsement so ineffective while the GOP's backing so powerful? Gibson's piece offers a number of reasons, which all relate to a consistent theme: namely, that Republicans enforce serious discipline to go along with their endorsements while Democrats muddle through with a very Will Rogers approach. So McCord may be better off without that brass ring after all.


CA-33: Well, whaddya know. Wealthy businessman Bill Bloomfield, who ran as an independent last cycle and gave retiring Rep. Henry Waxman a serious scare, has decided against making another bid. Thanks to his personal money and his pockets of strength in the redder parts of the district, Bloomfield, a former Republican, would have been a legitimate threat to take this seat away from Democrats. Now, though, while two independents and a Republican have entered the race, they lack the stature to stop the pair of heavyweight Democrats already running in this blue district: state Sen. Ted Lieu and former Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel.

MI-03: The Club for Growth has leaked a poll from Basswood Research showing Rep. Justin Amash crushing businessman Brian Ellis 60-12 in the GOP primary. Amash has a 61-16 favorability rating while Ellis' is just 8-21. That may have to do with the fact that the Club, which endorsed the libertarian Amash last year, has already spent $200,000 on ads attacking Ellis. However, there's still lots of time for things to change, since Michigan's primary is not until Aug. 5.

Other Races:

KY State House: That SurveyUSA poll showing Democrat Alison Grimes with a 4-point lead over Sen. Mitch McConnell also had a generic ballot component showing Democrats with a narrow 40-37 edge to keep control of the state House. A month ago, PPP had Republicans in front 44-36, though PPP asked about the "state legislature" while SUSA specifically inquired about the "state House of Representatives."

Grab Bag:

Alabama: Filing closed Friday for Alabama's June 3 primary. A runoff will be held July 15 in races where no candidate clears 50 percent in the first round.

As expected, Republican Gov. Robert Bentley filed to run for a second term. Bentley won office in 2010 without the help of most of the GOP establishment, and there were some early rumors that he'd attract a heavyweight primary challenger. Unfortunately for lovers of cat fud, it is not to be. Bentley will face former Morgan County Commissioner Stacy Lee George and businessman Bob Starkey, but it doesn't look like he'll have much to worry about. Competing to face Bentley in the Democratic primary are former minor league baseball player Kevin Bass and former Rep. Parker Griffith. Daily Kos Elections rates the general election contest as Safe Republican.

Two statewide offices have no incumbents running. In the secretary of state's contest, the GOP will choose between former Montgomery Judge Reese McKinney, state Rep. John Merrill, and Crenshaw County Judge Jim Perdue. The winner will take on Democrat Lula Albert-Kaigler, who ran a forgettable race in AL-01 last year.

Meanwhile, it's a five-way Republican battle for state auditor. The most interesting name in the contest is Dale Peterson, who wants you to know he still gives a rip about Alabama (when he's not too busy shoplifting cashews). Standing in his way are attorney Ryan Bryan, former Conservation Commission aide Hobbie Sealy, Secretary of State aide Adam Thompson, and former Public Service Commissioner Jim Zeigler. The winner will face 2010 Democratic nominee Miranda Karrine Joseph, who lost 63-37 her prior time out.

Facing little or no GOP primary opposition are Lt. Governor Kay Ivey and Attorney General Luther Strange. In November, Ivey will take on former state Rep. James Fields, while Luther will compete against state Rep. Joe Hubbard. Sen. Jeff Sessions will also get by with no primary or general election opponent.

Six of Alabama's seven House members are running for reelection, and none should have much of a problem winning either the primary or the general. One representative breathing a sigh of relief is AL-01's Bradley Byrne. Byrne only narrowly won his 2013 special election runoff over businessman Dean Young (who hadn't ruled out a rematch), but he'll get by without any opposition this time. The delegation's sole Democrat, AL-07's Terri Sewell, does face a non-Some Dude opponent in the primary. Sewell should be favored over former Birmingham City Attorney Tamara Harris Johnson, but there's no doubt the district will remain blue regardless. (Obama won 72 percent here).

The state's lone open seat, AL-06, is an all-out free-for-all in the GOP primary. Seven candidates have entered the ring: state Sen. Scott Beason, attorney Will Brooke, state Rep. Paul DeMarco, tea partying surgeon Chad Mathis, former think tank president Gary Palmer, attorney Rob Shattuck, and businessman Tom Vigneulle. This is one of the reddest districts in the nation and no Democrat filed here, making the Republican primary the only game in town. (Jeff Singer)

California: California Democrats held regional meetings over the weekend to decide whether to recommend candidates in their respective areas for endorsement by the full party next month. While these kinds of endorsements don't mean much in most states, in California, official party designees are noted as such on the sample ballots that get sent around to all voters. And since the state no longer conducts party primaries but rather forces all candidates from all parties together into a single primary where only the top two vote-getters move on to the general election, that seal of approval matters much more than it used to.

And where it really matters, naturally, is in races that feature more than two notable candidates, since everyone of course is vying for those two precious slots. Below are some of last weekend's key results (a full list is here). Note that candidates who earn more than 70 percent support get party endorsements more or less automatically; those below that threshold are subject to a further vote at the state convention.

CA-15: Rep. Eric Swalwell: 61, Ellen Corbett: 35

CA-17: Rep. Mike Honda: 92, Ro Khanna 8

CA-31: Pete Aguilar: 67, Eloise Reyes: 16, Joe Baca: 13.

CA-33: Ted Lieu: 74, Wendy Greuel: 9

So Honda and Lieu have their endorsements sewn up, but Swalwell and Corbett Aguilar will need to survive a majority vote in March. Given their strong performances, though, they're likely to have the inside track.

Indiana: Filing also closed Friday for Indiana's May 6 primary, but for federal races only. Three statewide offices are on the November ballot, but the nominations for secretary of state, auditor, and treasurer will be decided at party conventions on June 6-7, so the filing for those offices does not close until May 23.

All nine of Indiana's U.S. representatives are running for re-election, and none face much of a threat in the primary. Most should easily win reelection in November as well. One possible exception is in northern Indiana, where IN-02 freshman GOP Rep. Jackie Walorski faces a credible Democratic challenge from Notre Dame official Joe Bock. Walorski only narrowly won in 2012, but at 56-42 Romney, this will not be an easy seat to flip. Daily Kos Elections rates the contest as Likely Republican. (Jeff Singer)

Fundraising: The good folks at Roll Call have, once again, compiled quarterly fundraising numbers for every Senate race. As you probably know, gathering this data is a massive pain because Senate campaigns are still permitted to file their reports on paper, which are then scanned in (!), a process that takes a couple of weeks (and also yields unwieldy, low-quality PDFs that can't readily be copied-and-pasted). And in case you missed it, you can find our fourth quarter House fundraising chart here.

Maps: Here's some fun follow-up trivia from 270toWin regarding Mike Bostock's cool interactive map that shows you which congressional districts are adjacent to one another. As several people have pointed out, the only district in the lower 48 that's adjacent to just one other is the Buffalo-area NY-26, which is completely surrounded by NY-27. However, I'm not sure if the map treats water contiguity consistently in all regions, as no Great Lakes districts are shown as adjacent to any across the water, whereas Long Island is considered "adjacent" to Connecticut.

Also interesting are those districts that touch the greatest number of other seats. There are four tied for the distinction, each adjacent to 11 other districts: AZ-04, CA-04, MO-06, and OH-06. (Perhaps not coincidentally, given their generally sprawling nature) all four are held by Republicans. And the absolutely enormous (and also very red) NE-03 is the only district to touch seats in seven states (including Nebraska itself). Many more goodies at the link.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Feb 11, 2014 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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