8:30 AM PT: MN-07: Once more unto the breach! Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, who had kept the political world waiting on a decision about his future all cycle, announced Monday that he will indeed seek a 13th term this November. Peterson, 69, represents Minnesota's 7th Congressional District, the fifth-reddest district held by a Democrat, and Republicans had long tried to goad him into retirement; to that end, they managed to recruit the strongest challenger Peterson's had in many years, state Sen. Torrey Westrom.
It seemed like the Blue Dog Peterson might finally hang it up, particularly since Congress at long last passed a farm bill this year, something of special importance to Peterson given that he represents a heavily rural region. But Peterson said he still has "a lot of work to do," citing implementation of the farm bill, among other things. It's a break for Democrats, as Peterson remains the favorite despite the fact that Minnesota's 7th went 54-44 for Mitt Romney.
But Peterson, who typically does not engage in a lot of fundraising in odd-numbered years, will have to step it up to make sure that when he does choose to leave office, it's on his own terms, rather than at Westrom's hands. He's more than capable of doing so, but he can't take anything for granted. And even if he survives this year, Peterson's career isn't going to last a whole lot longer, so Democrats will have to resign themselves to likely losing this district after Peterson moves on.
For now, though, reflecting Peterson's unique strengths as a candidate, we maintain our rating of Likely Democratic while acknowledging that this race could easily become more competitive.
9:06 AM PT: Special Elections: Johnny Longtorso updates us on Tuesday's lone legislative special, in the Keystone State:
Pennsylvania SD-28: This an open Republican seat in York County. The candidates on the ballot are Democrat Linda Small and Republican state Rep. Ron Miller. Small and Miller faced off in HD-93 in 2012 and 2010, with Miller winning 69-31 and then 72-28. Throwing a spanner into the works, however, is local businessman Scott Wagner, a Republican who is waging a write-in campaign with the assistance of his pocketbook. Normally this is a safely Republican district, but with two Republicans splitting the vote and slinging mud at each other, there is the possibility of an upset here.There's also the possibility, of course, that the Democrat comes in third ....
9:28 AM PT: LA-Sen, -Gov: Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu has reportedly reserved $2.6 million in television air time, from the middle of next month through the end of June. Landrieu's already been up on TV once before this cycle, back in December, but that was for a much smaller $250,000 buy.
Meanwhile, news website LaPolitics has gotten its hands on a late February survey from Republican pollster Voter/Consumer Research, taken on behalf of the Louisiana State Medical Society and the pharmaceutical lobbying group PhRMA, that finds Landrieu edging GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy 45-44. The poll summary also includes trendlines showing that Landrieu was up 53-39 in January of 2013, a spread that's not too implausible given that PPP had her ahead 50-40 around the same timeframe.
V/CR also asked about a hypothetical jungle primary for next year's open-seat gubernatorial contest. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, a Democrat, leads GOP Sen. David Vitter 33-25, with Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne (R) at 11, Secretary of State John Kennedy (R) at 9, and state House Minority Leader John Bel Edwards (D) at 8. If no candidate clears 50 percent in the primary (which is held at the same time every other state conducts its general election in November), then the top two vote-getters advance to a December runoff.
10:05 AM PT: DCCC: A few weeks ago, I was shooting the shit with a friend at a bar, and we were wondering who the next chair of the DCCC might be. (What kind of bar chat do you think I have?) There didn't seem to be a whole lot of obvious options outside of a handful of folks already on the D-Trip's leadership team, but my buddy had a eureka moment and declared, "Joe Kennedy!" It's a great call: Massachusetts Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III is young, occupies a safe seat in the cash-rich Northeast Corridor, and of course has the most golden name in Democratic politics. He's also already proven himself a prodigious fundraiser, and as the National Journal's Shane Goldmacher points out, he's the only freshman to have already paid his DCCC dues in full. Keep an eye on this guy, for sure.
10:24 AM PT: MI-Gov, -Sen: Some new Michigan polling for Denno Research has GOP Gov. Rick Snyder clinging to a narrow 42-39 lead over Democratic ex-Rep. Mark Schauer, while Democratic Rep. Gary Peters edges Republican Terri Lynn Land 40-37 in the Senate race. The senatorial numbers are pretty similar to what Denno found in their last outing in November, when Peters was up 37-36, but the gubernatorial matchup has tightened considerably from a 45-31 Snyder edge.
11:19 AM PT: UT Ballot: Organizers in Utah have abandoned plans to qualify a measure for this year's ballot that would have eliminated the state's use of party conventions to nominate candidates; instead, they've given their approval to a newly passed bill that would allow office-seekers to skip the conventions and petition their way on to the primary ballot. (Under the current regime, primaries only take place between the top two convention vote-getters, and only if no one earns 60 percent of the delegates' votes.) The new system will start operating in 2016. It will require statewide candidates to file 28,000 signatures and 7,000 for House hopefuls.
11:27 AM PT: IL-Gov: We Ask America couldn't resist one last poll of the GOP gubernatorial primary ahead of Tuesday's election. Businessman Bruce Rauner's lead over state Sen. Kirk Dillard has tightened a touch, to 44-27 from 46-26, but time's up.
"I acknowledge there are good reasons I should not run. But there are better reasons why I should," Edwards said.Among the many "good reasons" Edwards would have for not running is the fact that Louisiana's 6th Congressional District—open because GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy is running for Senate—is almost implacably Republican. State lawmakers redrew the lines a few years ago to make the seat much redder, and it obliged by going 66-32 for Mitt Romney. Edwards, a Democrat, is almost the definition of a larger-than-life figure, but even though he always retained a strong measure of popularity in spite of (or perhaps a little bit because of) his law-breaking ways, he'll be hard-pressed to overcome this district's demographics.
Still, Republicans haven't exactly assembled a very impressive field to replace Cassidy, and there are few political figures as unpredictable as Edwards, who spent almost nine years in prison on corruption charges after leaving office in the mid-1990s. For now, though, we're maintaining our rating of Safe Republican for this race, but at the very least, Edwards is always entertaining. This contest probably will be, too.
11:57 AM PT: CO-, LA-Sen: In their new salvos in Colorado and Louisiana, Americans for Prosperity is simply trotting out the same paid actress complaining about Obamacare who's appeared in Arkansas, New Hampshire, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, and America. A genuine grassroots campaign they've got going there. Personally, this ad makes me stabby, but I guess "generic concerned middle-class mom" focus groups well?
Anyway, the Washington Post says that the Colorado buy, targeting Democratic Sen. Mark Udall for the first time, is for $970,000, larger than the $850,000 Politico previously reported. Meanwhile, in Louisiana, Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is getting hit for $700,000.
11:59 AM PT (David Jarman): ID-02: The state of Idaho's filing period closed last weekend, and that revealed a welcome blast from the past that had previously flown under the radar: Democratic ex-Rep. Richard Stallings is running to get his old seat back. You might put the stress on "old," though: Stallings is 73 years old, and served here from 1984 to 1992. (He gave up the seat to run for Senate, lost to Dirk Kempthorne in the '92 general, and tried again to get it back when it was open in 1998, but lost to current occupant Mike Simpson.)
This isn't as crazy as it sounds: Stallings seems to be taking a page from Joe Donnelly, in that he probably senses an opening here thanks to the GOP primary battle. If the establishment-flavored Simpson loses to Bryan Smith, and Smith subsequently goes on to insert his foot in his mouth repeatedly, he might have a bank-shot opportunity here, despite the district's R+18 leanings. On the other hand, though, Donnelly made the leap straight from House to Senate, while Stallings has been out of the Congressional picture for decades. (While you might think this district has shifted dramatically over the decades, it was pretty conservative even then: it was R+14 after the 1992 election; Stallings was also one of the most conservative Dems in the House at the time. The question may be whether he can re-find a niche in a decidedly more polarized national landscape, though.)
12:30 PM PT (Darth Jeff): Idaho: On Friday the candidate filing deadline passed in three more states. We'll start with Idaho, which will hold its primary on May 20. The state has a list of candidates available.
Republican Gov. Butch Otter is seeking a third term, but must get through his three primary challengers first. The only credible one appears to be state Sen. Russ Fulcher. Otter is probably the clear favorite, but there are currently no public polls to confirm this. The Democrats have an interesting candidate in Boise School Board President A.J. Balukoff, but he has a very steep path to victory in conservative Idaho. Daily Kos Elections rates this as Safe Republican.
Republicans control all of Idaho's statewide offices, and most incumbents are running again. Lt. Gov Brad Little faces a primary with Idaho County Commissioner Jim Chmelik; the winner will face former Democratic state Sen. Bert Marley. Appointed Comptroller Brandon Woolf faces businessman Todd Hatfield, who lost 56-44 in the 2010 primary. Treasurer Ron Crane has two Democratic opponents, while Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has one foe from each party. In the open race for Secretary of State four Republicans are running, with Democratic state Rep. Holli High Woodings facing the winner. In the race for Superintendent of Public Education four Republicans are in. The Democratic candidate will be Jana Jones, who came close to winning this office in 2006.
Republican Sen. Jim Risch and both Idaho's House members are running again. Risch and Rep. Raúl Labrador face little primary opposition, and we rate both general elections as Safe Republican. Rep. Mike Simpson in the state's second district has a lot more to worry about in the Republican primary. Simpson, a fairly bland establishment conservative, is being targeted for defeat by groups like the Club for Growth who want a much more ideological congressman. The incumbent will face lawyer Bryan Smith in the primary, with the winner taking on the aforementioned former Democratic Rep. Richard Stallings. ID-02 backed Romney 64-33, and we rate is at Safe Republican.
12:57 PM PT (David Jarman): NH-Sen, NH-Gov: That giant sucking sound you heard coming out of the northeast this weekend was all the nation's pollsters rushing to poll the Granite State, in the wake of Scott Brown's decision to finally get off the fence and run for Senate. The two pollsters who've already rolled their data out, however, don't find anything that's going to help Brown feel more comfortable about his decision; they both find high-single-digit/low-double-digit leads that are quite consistent with where the Jeanne Shaheen/Scott Brown race polled before his entry.
ARG puts Shaheen up 50-38, in their first 2014 look at their home state. (ARG also found similar numbers in the gubernatorial race, which has attracted little interest by comparison: Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan leads Andrew Hemingway 45-30.) The other Senate poll comes from Rasmussen, also taking their first look at NH-Sen; their numbers are little better for Brown, with Shaheen leading 50-41.
The first thing Jeanne Shaheen did out of the gate was pretty smart: she asked for a "people's pledge," similar to the one that Brown and Elizabeth Warren agreed to in the Massachusetts Senate race in 2012, which limited advertising by outside groups. American Crossroads already has a $650,000 buy against Shaheen ready to go this week, and it seems likely that the Koch brothers-linked Americans for Prosperity (which already tested the ad waters here) are likely to return in force, so Shaheen would naturally like to thwart them.
Brown, however, seems to realize that signing the pledge in MA-Sen hampered him last time, as he's being non-committal about agreeing this time, saying "the horse has already left the barn," in reference to the third-party spending that's already happened in this race. With or without the pledge, though, Shaheen and Brown are both very adept at raising their own money, so the dollars will find their way to this race one way or the other.
1:08 PM PT (Darth Jeff): Iowa: The Hawkeye State will host its primary on June 3. The state has its list of candidates available here. In races where no one wins more than 35 percent of the vote, the nominee will be chosen at the party's convention.
Republican Gov. Terry Branstad is seeking his second consecutive term, and his sixth overall. Branstad only has minimal primary opposition, and will face Democratic state Sen. Jack Hatch in November. Polls show Branstad to be quite popular, and Daily Kos Elections rates this as Likely Republican.
There isn't much primary action for any other state offices. Republican incumbents for state auditor and secretary of agriculture each have one Democratic opponent. The Democratic incumbents for treasurer and attorney general have no major party opponents whatsoever. In the open seat race for secretary of state, Republican Paul Pate will try to get the job he left in 1999; his Democratic opponent is political consultant Brad Anderson.
Five Republicans are running to succeed outgoing Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin: talk show host Sam Clovis; state Sen. Joni Ernst; former energy executive Mark Jacobs; Some Dude Scott Schaben; and former US Attorney Matt Whitaker. The only Democrat in the race is Rep. Bruce Braley. At the moment Braley looks like the favorite to keep this seat in the blue column, and we rate the race as Lean Democratic.
There's primary action on both sides to replace Braley in his northeastern Iowa House seat. On the Democratic side for IA-01, five candidates are running: former state Sen. Swati Dandekar; state Rep. Anesa Kajtazovic; former state House Speaker Pat Murphy; attorney Dave O'Brien; and Cedar Rapids Councilor Monica Vernon. On the Republican side the candidates are businessman and 2010 candidate Rod Blum, Marshalltown School Board member Gail Boliver, and perennial candidate Steve Rathje. Obama won this seat 56-43, and we rate it as Lean Democratic.
In the Des Moines area IA-03, Republican Rep. Tom Latham's retirement sets up a very competitive race. Six Republicans are running here: businessman Robert Cramer; teacher Joe Grandanette; Secretary of State Matt Schultz; trade group executive Monte Shaw; former Congressional aide David Young; and former state Sen. and 2010 nominee Brad Zaun. The Democratic standard-bearer will be former state Sen. Staci Appel. Obama won this district 51-47, matching his nationwide popular vote total. We rate this as a Tossup.
Iowa's remaining two House members are running again, but neither has a clear path to victory. In southwest Iowa's second district, Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack has three Republican challengers: state Rep. Mark Lofgren; Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who was the 2008 and 2010 nominee and recently served in the Branstad Administration; and Some Dude Matthew Waldren. Obama won IA-02 56-43, and we rate is as Likely Democratic.
Over in western Iowa's fourth district, loudmouth Republican Rep. Steve King faces Democratic veteran Jim Mowrer. Romney won 53-45 here and King turned back a well-funded challenge last cycle, but Mowrer may be able to take advantage of the incumbent's controversial reputation and weak fundraising. We rate this as Likely Republican.
Finally, Iowa will have several competitive state Senate races this year, as Democrats defend their narrow 26-24 majority in the chamber. Over at Bleeding Heartland, Desmoinesdem handicaps each seat.
1:09 PM PT (David Jarman): WV-03: It's not an accident that we moved the race in West Virginia's 3rd district to Tossup last Friday; it's becoming very clear that it's one of the Dems' top defense priorities in the House this cycle, with House Majority PAC out with a third ad already. The ad features the wife of the coal miner used in their second ad, who lists some of the worst items on GOP challenger Evan Jenkins' agenda. It's a $60,000 buy in both the Charleston and Bluefield markets.
1:38 PM PT (Darth Jeff): Nevada: The Silver State will hold its primary on June 10. Unfortunately, there is no one comprehensive statewide candidate list. The state has its database here, but Clark and Washoe counties each have their own lists for races confined to just those counties.
Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval has proven to be popular in this Democratic-leaning swing state, and has scared off any credible challenger. As a result, we're changing our rating for this race from Likely Republican to Safe Republican.
On the other hand, the open race for lieutenant governor will be a high-stakes affair. On the Republican side, state Sen. Mark Hutchison will face former state party chair Sue Lowden and frequent candidate Christopher Dyer. Given how Lowden helped kill her 2010 Senate campaign over some bizarre comments over trading chickens for checkups, its no surprise the party establishment supports Hutchison. The winner of the primary will face Democratic Assembywoman Lucy Flores. This race can have some serious repercussions: Sandoval is a potential 2016 Senate candidate, but he may get cold feet if he knew that his victory would hand Lt. Gov Flores the governorship.
Democrats control the four remaining statewide offices, and term-limits are forcing the outgoing incumbents to play a game of musical chairs to stay in office. In the race for Attorney General, Secretary of State Ross Miller will face Republican lawyer Adam Laxalt (the grandson of former Sen. Paul Laxalt). To succeed Miller as secretary of state, Treasurer Kate Marshall will take on Republican state Sen. Barbara Cegavske. In the race for Treasurer, Controller Kim Wallin will take on Republican businessman Dan Schwartz. In the open seat for controller, three Republicans and two Democrats are in.
All four of the state's House members are seeking another term. While none have much primary opposition, two suburban Las Vegas members will need to keep an eye on their seats in November. In NV-03, Republican Rep. Joe Heck will face DNC member Erin Bilbray. Obama pulled off a narrow 50-49 win here, but Heck is a tough opponent. We rate this as Lean Republican.
In the nearby NV-04, freshman Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford has two credible Republican foes. In the race are Assemblyman Cresent Hardy and Niger Innis, the spokesman for the Congress on Racial Equality (a once proud but now disgraced group). Obama won 54-44 here, and we rate it as Likely Democratic. The state's remaining two House members, Democrat Dina Titus and Republican Mark Amodei, have little to worry about in November.
1:52 PM PT: AZ-02: The LIBRE Initiative, a conservative Hispanic group, says they plan to spend $500,000 targeting Democratic Rep. Ron Barber, though no ads are available yet. The organization has already spent $1.4 million attacking Reps. Joe Garcia (FL-26) and Pete Gallego (TX-23) so far this cycle. And who is LIBRE, exactly? USA Today helpfully reveals that they're a front group for none other than Americans for Prosperity, which is itself the ur-front group of the conservative movement.
2:24 PM PT: ND-AL: After considering the race for some time, state Sen. George Sinner has decided to run for Congress, giving Democrats a credible candidate against freshman GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer. North Dakota is a very red state, of course, supporting Mitt Romney by a 59-39 margin. Sinner, though, is the son of former Gov. George A. Sinner, and he represents a 52-46 Romney district himself, so he may start off with a bit of name recognition and some crossover appeal.
2:30 PM PT: CA-33: Any time you have the prospect of a Dem-vs.-Dem general election in California, there's always the question of who will make a play for Republican voters, and how. It requires a delicate dance, because you don't want to alienate liberals, but it's very tempting all the same, because even in a lopsided district, you're still talking about a sizable pool of votes that's waiting to be tapped. And in California's solidly blue 33rd Congressional District, the first move comes from state Sen. Ted Lieu, who's trying to carefully thread the proverbial needle by rolling out an endorsement from former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan.
Riordan has long had a reputation as a moderate, to the point that it even scuttled his bid for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 2002, so his support for Lieu is unlikely to ruffle too many feathers on the left. And so far, we're only talking about a press release—it remains to be seen how actively Lieu will court Republicans, or whether any of his rivals, including former Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel, try to follow suit.
3:18 PM PT: NE-Sen: Former state Treasurer Shane Osborn is airing his first TV ads of the GOP primary, backed by a reported $80,000 buy. The spot focuses on the 2001 incident when Osborn, the pilot of a Navy reconnaissance plane, made an emergency landing at a Chinese airbase after sustaining serious damage in a mid-air collision with a Chinese jet. Somber piano music plays as a spotlight draws attention to a wooden stool in a bare room while a narrator says, "In a crude concrete building, Navy pilot Shane Osborn endured Chinese interrogation for 12 days. He never wavered." Osborn then appears, insisting he won't "fold" "under pressure," saying that's the kind of leadership necessary to "repeal Obamacare and protect our freedom."
3:42 PM PT: AK-Sen: The pro-Democratic super PAC Put Alaska First is running their second ad attacking Republican Dan Sullivan over his Alaska bona fides. A wry narrator says that Sullivan, whom the group previously criticized for accepting a tax credit for Maryland residents, possessed a "non-resident Alaska fishing license, like every other tourist," dating from 2009. Last year, though, he sought a fishing license available only to residents—and claimed he'd lived in the state for 10 years. Oops. The size of the buy is $75,000.