• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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)