• MI-08: Seven-term Republican Rep. Mike Rogers announced on Friday that he's retiring to pursue a career in radio broadcasting. Rogers will host a nationally syndicated show starting in January, and as Jed Lewison points out, he's long been a media creature: Rogers has been the most frequent congressional guest of any on the Sunday talk shows for the past two years, more popular even than John McCain.
The district that Rogers leaves behind, Michigan's 8th, stretches from Lansing in the west to the outer Detroit metropolitan area in the east. It's also theoretically swingy, on paper: It went for Mitt Romney 51-48, but Barack Obama beat John McCain here 52-46. Democrats, however, haven't seriously challenged Rogers since his very first election, when the district was several points bluer, and the GOP bench is much deeper here.
What's more, the fundamentals favor Republicans this year, if for no other reason than the familiar problem of Democratic voters turning out in smaller proportions during midterm elections as opposed to presidential years. For these reasons, we're moving this race from Safe Republican to Lean Republican, reflecting the advantage the GOP has. However, it's still very early and candidate chatter has only just begun, so the quality of each side's recruitment efforts may change our outlook.
And it may be a while before we get a sense of the playing field. As is typically the case when a seat like this opens up, the Great Mentioner has sprung into high gear, and one Republican, Rochester Mayor Bryan Barnett, has already announced a bid. As for everyone else, here's the most comprehensive roundup of potential candidates available:
Former state GOP chair Saul Anuzis ("looking at" it)
Ex-state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop ("never say never")
Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard
Ex-state House Speaker Craig DeRoche
State Sen. Gail Haines
State Sen. Joe Hune (will "look strongly" at it)
State Sen. Rick Jones
State Sen. Jim Marleau
State Rep. Bill Rogers (Mike's brother, who is term-limited)
Democrats:Three Democrats have already apparently said no: state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, and former state Sen. Dianne Byrum, who is Barb Byrum's mother and almost beat Rogers in 2000 when this seat was last open. (Bernero seems to be hedging, though, saying "I intend to continue serving the people of Lansing.") As always, we'll keep following all developments as they unfold.
• AR-, MI-Sen: Senate Majority PAC has now released the final two spots in the five-state, $3 million ad package they're deploying. In Arkansas, SMP attacks GOP Rep. Tom Cotton as a tool of the insurance industry who wants to "end Medicare's guarantee, giving billions in profits to insurance companies."
In Michigan, meanwhile, a narrator says that under Republican Terri Lynn Land, "insurance companies will be able to deny you coverage when you get sick" and "women's access to preventive healthcare would be cut." Both ads reference out-of-state attacks on Democrats but don't explicitly mention the Kochs, as others have. A newly filed FEC report shows that SMP is spending $450,000 in Michigan and $223,000 in Louisiana, another target. (Arkansas numbers aren't available yet.)
• KY-Sen: Republican businessman Matt Bevin is tweaking Sen. Mitch McConnell in a new ad he aired during Friday night's fiercely contested NCAA tournament game between arch-rivals Louisville and Kentucky. Narrates Bevin: "March Madness in Kentucky. Commitment, courage—you gotta love it, even if your team is already out of the tournament." At that moment, we see a cardboard cutout of Mitch McConnell wearing a Duke jersey with Christian Laettner's number... because, of course, of this. (And why Laettner? Click here.) Bevin reportedly spent $40,000 to run the spot.
• NE-Sen: In a new ad, former state Treasurer Shane Osborn—who's gotten into a good bit of trouble lately for his big mouth—claims his GOP primary opponents are all talk, but says he's the only one who's "proven he can do what he says." What did Osborn do? Cut his office's budget when he was treasurer and help veterans get jobs.
Osborn also calls himself a "proven conservative," but it turns out FreedomWorks no longer agrees. In a stinging move, the group has withdrawn its endorsement of Osborn, claiming he has "formed allegiances with Mitch McConnell and the K Street lobbying class" and is no longer "the most reliable candidate for liberty." Instead, FreedomWorks has decided to back Midland University President Ben Sasse, joining the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund and ending a split among the conservative movement.
• SC-Sen-A: Democrats have managed to land a sitting state senator to run for South Carolina's Class II Senate seat this fall, 18-year veteran Brad Hutto. This seat is currently safe for Republicans, but with the potential that Sen. Lindsey Graham could lose his primary, there's always a chance that something bonkers could happen here.
• CT-Gov: For some reason, a number of sitting governors this cycle refused to formally confirm that they'd seek re-election until the last minute—like California's Jerry Brown and Oregon's John Kitzhaber—even though no one expected them to retire. Well, here's one more name you can check off that list: Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy of Connecticut. Malloy had previously said he wanted to wait until the legislature concludes its session in May, but he nevertheless made it official at a routine press conference on Friday. A number of Republicans are seeking to unseat him, with 2010 nominee Tom Foley leading the pack. Daily Kos Elections currently rates this race Lean Democratic.
• WI-Gov: When Democrats recruited Madison School Board member Mary Burke to run for governor, one potential strength she brought to the race was her personal wealth. Burke is a former executive at the bicycle maker Trek, a company owned by her family, and she's certainly done well—well enough to contribute $400,000 to her own cause. However, Burke's never disclosed her net worth, and now she's cautioning that she doesn't have the kind of resources that two other rich Wisconsinites have poured into their campaigns: Republican Sen. Ron Johnson ($9 million in 2010) and former Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl ($19 million over the years).
Says Burke: "I will put into this race what I can, but I can't self-fund it," which sounds like she's saying she can't (or won't) self-fund all of it. The folks who convinced Burke to run in the first place, though, probably already knew this, and presumably this was Burke's position from the start. So if she took the plunge despite knowing she couldn't blow millions on her own behalf, she still must have felt she had a chance at beating Gov. Scott Walker, else why run?
• IA-01: The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has made an interesting endorsement in Iowa's open 1st Congressional District, where five different Democrats are vying to succeed Rep. Bruce Braley. While state Rep. Anesa Kajtazovic has nominally looked like the most progressive option, PCCC is going with state Rep. Pat Murphy, citing his support for expanding Social Security benefits.
• TN-03: Republican Weston Wamp, the son of ex-Rep. Zach Wamp, is once again trying to unseat Rep. Chuck Fleischmann in the GOP primary. Recently, Wamp apparently learned that another 2012 rival, ice cream magnate Scottie Mayfield, was preparing to endorse Fleischmann, so he paid Mayfield an unexpected visit and tried to convince him not to endorse anyone. After the meeting, Mayfield says Wamp sent him a very creepy text message that read: "To protect myself, I have recorded my conversation with you and Lisa. I hope you will honor your commitment and not get involved in this race. Thank you sir."
Not only is this so manifestly the kind of thing you should never do (I mean, come on), but it also didn't even work—or maybe backfired—as Mayfield endorsed Fleischmann two days later. Wamp hasn't yet commented, but there's no easy way to wriggle out of this one.
• NM State House: Democrats have a small 37-33 edge in the New Mexico state House, and Republicans, who tried to flip the chamber in 2012, have pledged to contest it once again. (The Senate is not up this year, despite what the RSLC may think.) Fortunately for Team Blue, though, PPP's new poll gives the party a wide 47-38 lead on the generic legislative ballot.
• California: Filing for California's June 3 primary closed weeks ago. It took until now, though, for the Secretary of State to put together an official list of candidates for statewide office, as well as for Congress, state Senate, and state Assembly (and the Board of Equalization, for hardcore election fans). Daily Kos Elections will have a rundown of who's running in the major races in the coming days. (Jeff Singer)
• Deaths: Jeremiah Denton, who served Alabama in the Senate for one term in the 1980s, died on Friday at the age of 89. Denton may be best known as one of the highest-ranking officers to become a POW during the Vietnam War—and for using Morse Code to blink the word "torture" during a televised interview. He also managed to become the first Republican elected to the Senate from Alabama since Reconstruction, at the same time as Ronald Reagan's first election. Washed in with the tide in 1980, he was then washed out in the 1986 wave, though the Democrat who replaced him—Richard Shelby, still serving today—eventually switched parties. (David Jarman)