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Leading Off:

NJ-12: So New Jersey really is going to have an open Democratic primary in a safely blue seat—one that doesn't involve a machine coronation or a familial transfer of power. Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, who waged an unsuccessful campaign against GOP Rep. Leonard Lance in the neighboring 7th last cycle, will join state Sen. Linda Greenstein in the race for Rep. Rush Holt's 12th District seat. So, too, will another member of the Assembly, Bonnie Watson Coleman.

Two more candidates who had been looking at the race, Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes and Mercer County Clerk Paula Covello, have declined, though both endorsed Watson Coleman, who is also from Mercer (the district's center of gravity, as far as Democratic voter density is concerned).

And a number of other candidates are also considering the race, so this could turn out to be a multi-way fight. Even the Garden State, it turns out, is not completely immune to true democracy.

Senate:

MS-Sen: The Club for Growth has a new ad out jabbing Sen. Thad Cochran for voting "to raise the debt ceiling 20 times," and reminding Republican primary voters that he's spent "42 years in Washington." There's no word on the size of the buy.

Gubernatorial:

IL-Gov: The union-backed group Illinois Freedom is running a second ad attacking GOP frontrunner Bruce Rauner, berating him for maltreatment of seniors at a nursing home his investment company once owned. (More background on that complex saga here.) Rauner, meanwhile, has tossed in another half-million of his own money to his campaign coffers, bringing his self-funding to $3.75 million. But who's counting? Seriously, the sky's the limit for Rauner, who says his net worth is in the "hundreds of millions."

PA-Gov: Room for one more? Former state Auditor Jack Wagner, who has been nosing around the Democratic gubernatorial primary for an almost absurd length of time, finally says that he's in. Wagner has won statewide before as auditor, but he's never actually won a Democratic primary: He was unopposed for the nomination in 2004, and he actually lost primaries in 2002 (for lieutenant governor) and 2010 (for governor). He also lost a primary last year for mayor of Pittsburgh. And of course, he's entering a field packed with well-financed heavyweights, including Rep. Allyson Schwartz, state Treasurer Rob McCord, and wealthy businessman Tom Wolf. With just three months to go before Pennsylvania's May 20 primary, Wagner does not have much time to make his mark.

Meanwhile, in yet another new ad, Wolf brings up an interesting issue: the fact that Pennsylvania doesn't charge natural gas companies an extraction tax, something GOP Gov. Tom Corbett opposes. The delivery is a bit too cutesy, though, as Wolf sits in a classroom of young kids explaining this problem to them ("The money we need to fund our schools lies right underneath your feet")—and they respond with applause. Probably the only group in favor of less school is the K-12 set (Lisa Simpson excepted), but luckily for Wolf, they don't get to vote.

House:

AR-01: Heber Springs Mayor Jackie McPherson, who just a few days ago was reported to be weighing a bid for Congress, now says he will indeed forge ahead with a challenge to sophomore GOP Rep. Rick Crawford. The 1st, like much of Arkansas, is ancestrally Democratic, but in recent years, it has taken a sharp red turn, particularly at the federal level. That makes things especially tough for McPherson, but you always want to have credible candidates wherever you can.

CA-31: A third credible Republican has entered the race for retiring Rep. Gary Miller's seat, thus eliminating pretty much any chance of two GOPers sneaking through the top-two primary, as happened in 2012. (This trick only works if you have exactly two Republicans running and a whole mess of Democrats.) In fact, the new candidate, Lesli Gooch, is a former aide to Miller, and she received Miller's endorsement along with her announcement. Also in the mix for the GOP are San Bernardino Councilman John Valdivia and Navy vet Paul Chabot.

CA-35: As expected, Democratic state Sen. Norma Torres has declared for Gloria Negrete McLeod's open seat, and given the dearth of other names that have come forward, she may very well have a glide path to Congress, seeing as the 35th is safely blue. Other contenders looking to move up the ladder are more likely to be interested in Torres' 20th District Senate seat, which is similarly a lock for Democrats.

IA-01: State Rep. Pat Murphy, a former state House speaker, has released an internal poll from Myers Research showing him leading the Democratic field for Iowa's open 1st Congressional District. Murphy takes 36 percent while Cedar Rapids City Councilwoman Monica Vernon is at 17, former state Sen. Swati Dandekar 13, state Rep. Anesa Kajtazovic 11, and attorney Dave O'Brien 8. However, paid media campaigns have yet to crank into gear, so this is largely a poll of name recognition. Iowa's primary is June 3.

MI-13: Veteran Democratic Rep. John Conyers, who has served in the House since 1965, is getting a primary challenge from a well-known local clergyman, Rev. Horace Sheffield III. Conyers turned in his weakest primary performance in decades last cycle, taking just 55 percent of the vote but nevertheless winning handily thanks to a split field. Sheffield is pretty explicit about the 84-year-old Conyers' age being an issue, saying the incumbent is "not capable anymore of providing the energetic leadership" the district needs.

NY-01: The NRCC is going on the air with all of $15,000 in one of those dinky little test the waters/earn some media buys, this time against Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop. The spot revisits an issue that will surely see much play this fall, namely, Bishop's efforts to help a wealthy constituent obtain a fireworks permit for his son's bar mitzvah, which was then followed by a request for a sizable donation.

As Colin Campbell observes, the ad almost identical to this older one from Bishop's 2012 opponent, Randy Altschuler, and even features the same narrator and closing tagline. But since then, a House Ethics Committee investigation has kicked into gear, and a bunch of unseemly emails have surfaced, so this story's not likely to go away for Bishop.

NY-04: Former Nassau County Legislator Bruce Blakeman has decided to run for New York's open 4th Congressional District, giving Republicans a candidate who at least will have access to money. Blakeman hasn't held office since the 1990s, but media reports describe him as "wealthy" thanks to his law practice. However, he'll be the decided underdog against the likely Democratic nominee, Nassau County D.A. Kathleen Rice, and his electoral history is... not good.

Blakeman was crushed 65-32 running for state comptroller in 1998, then got turfed out of the county legislature the following year. A decade later, he got spanked in the 2010 GOP primary for Senate, coming in third with just 21 percent. Amusingly, he remained on the ballot on the hilariously named "Tax Revolt Party" line that fall, earning one tenth of one percent of the vote. Democrats can't take this race for granted, given that it's a midterm, but Blakeman does not have the hallmarks of a dominant foe.

PA-05: Last fall, we mentioned that Jay Paterno, a former assistant football coach at Penn State under his late father, Joe Paterno, was considering a bid against GOP Rep. Glenn Thompson in Pennsylvania's 5th Congressional District. Now Paterno is reportedly changing gears and will instead run for lieutenant governor. On the one hand, the 5th is very red and victory there would have been unlikely; on the other, the Democratic field for lieutenant governor is quite large and competitive. Paterno will have plenty of recognition thanks to his famous/infamous surname, but he's also jumping into statewide waters as a first-time candidate, which is no easy thing.

Grab Bag:

DCCC/NRCC: The DCCC, like the DSCC, also outraised their Republican counterparts last month. The D-Trip took in $6.8 million and has $32 million in the bank; the NRCC raised $6.1 million and has $24 million on-hand.

Deaths: Here's a headline you, unfortunately, won't see again: The last living person to have served as a territorial governor of Alaska has died. Mike Stepovich, who was appointed governor by Dwight Eisenhower and served 1957-1958, died last Friday at the age of 94. (That means he become governor at age 38.) Stepovich was perhaps the person most responsible for lobbying Congress to turn Alaska into a state. He lost the 1959 special election to become Alaska's first Senator, though, and then lost the 1962 gubernatorial election—in both cases to Democrats. (If you remember your history, when Alaska and Hawaii were first admitted, Alaska was expected to be a reliably Democratic state and Hawaii reliably Republican, neither of which lasted very long.) (David Jarman)

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

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  PA-Gov / Lt. Gov - new entrants could shake up (0+ / 0-)

    the two races.

    In PA, the candidate's home county is listed on the ballot under her or his name.  Primary voters in Allegheny County / Pittsburgh / southwestern PA counties have a history of (1) voting in higher percentages in primaries than the Dem voters in Philadelphia / southeastern PA and (2) supporting candidates from their part of the state.  Years ago in a judgeship race a candidate from Pittsburgh won the Dem primary - even though no one had much heard of him and while his last name was famous, he was a different person.  Also, in past years someone tried to take advantage of having the name of Casey, but he was not related to the former Governor and current Senator of that name.  They started running campaigns as "the real Bob Casey" to differentiate themselves.

    PA - Gov:  The newest candidate, Jack Wagner, will be the only candidate for Governor from western PA.  All others hail from the southeast or eastern part of the state.  He will get a lot of votes just because of the county name listed below his name.  Plus, some Dem voters will remember voting for him in campaigns past, in primary or general elections.  He won't need much money to run ads in the western part of the state where advertising rates are so much cheaper than in the Phila TV market, and I assume he will concentrate his campaign in the western part of the state.  Could be the makings of an upset.

    PA- Lt. Gov.:  The Paterno name is even more famous than the Casey name in PA.  He may also benefit from his home county - Centre County - also not being in southeastern PA.  For a low-visibility office (Lt Gov), in a splintered race with many generally unknown candidates, for which candidates generally lack the resources to make themselves known via TV and radio ads, name recognition counts for more.  A famous name should help him.

  •  I'm hoping Wendy Davis gets a boost from the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alice Olson, Remediator, fabucat

    Nugent/Palin endorsements of her opponent, but this is Texas, and even though she has supported open carry, she has a tough road; good luck Wendy!

  •  Rush Holt was also democratically chosen. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GayHillbilly

    This is the district that includes Princeton University, at which Holt was an official before he went to Congress.

    The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

    by lysias on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 07:01:19 AM PST

  •  Ted Stevens also played a major role in Alaska (0+ / 0-)

    statehood.  He was legislative counsel in the Department of the Interior (which had jurisdiction over territories like Alaska) in the Eisenhower administration.  Ted Stevens: Alaska statehood.

    The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

    by lysias on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 07:05:01 AM PST

  •  Alaska may have become reliably red, eventually. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fabucat, GayHillbilly

    But we should remember that, in its early days, it sent two notable Democrats to the Senate: Ernest Gruening (one of the two senators who voted against the Tonkin Gulf Resolution) and Mike Gravel (played a major role in the publication of the Pentagon Papers, still alive).

    The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

    by lysias on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 07:14:07 AM PST

  •  I hope the Illinois Freedom PAC ads are working (0+ / 0-)

    At least they're getting out early to define Rauner before he gets better known.  The first commercial about his ties to Stewart Levine are running throughout the Olympics.

    Meanwhile, just today I noticed an interesting article from the usually perceptive Eric Zorn of the Trib about pushing the Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis into running against Rahm for Mayor in 2015.  He says it is more about shaking up the debate than getting her into office.  Still interesting though.  The "inevitability of Rahm" is just nauseating to a lot of Chicagoans.

    I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

    by Satya1 on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 07:38:32 AM PST

  •  New states and party inversion (0+ / 0-)

    "(If you remember your history, when Alaska and Hawaii were first admitted, Alaska was expected to be a reliably Democratic state and Hawaii reliably Republican, neither of which lasted very long.)"

    Puerto Rico would likely repeat this pattern if admitted as a state.  It might vote R for governor, Senator and House members at the outset.  But statehood will bring the new state's parties into alignment with the respective national parties, and the state will be reliably and solidly D within a cycle or two.  I suspect that the average voter in the commonwealth doesn't really understand how Hispanophobe the national party is, because the local Rs sure can't afford to be.  But let them see how things play out as their state becomes engaged on the national stage, and clarity will sink in, and soon they'll be hunting Rs with dogs in the new state, if I may borrow an image from the lovable Phil Gramm.

    One of the top priorities for our side when it gets the trifecta back, should be forcing a choice on Puerto Rico, statehood or independence.  Needless to say, the statehood track should be structured so as to get the new state irrevocably in the union, voting in national elections, before the next cycle and any possibility of our losing the trifecta.

    It's possible that polls showing Rs winning, or at least competitive, in that projected first national election the new state participates in, might get some Rs to go along with this plan, and that we therefore might not need the trifecta.  But we would need the leadership of whichever chamber the Rs control to buy into that idea, and that's a much longer shot.  Cooler heads on their side would know that long-term, Puerto Rico would be the bluest state in the union.  But perhaps if our side held the trifecta, a few R defections would be needed to offset the blue dogs who wouldn't vote yes for statehood, and in that case, the prospect of R members of the new state's Congressional delegation would get the R votes that statehood would need.

    The states must be abolished.

    by gtomkins on Fri Feb 21, 2014 at 07:44:25 AM PST

  •  Holt for Govenor (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fabucat, GayHillbilly

    Rush Holt should run for govener, going to be empty soon.

  •  New Jersey isn't immune to democracy, (0+ / 0-)

    we're just not always that good at it.

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