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• MO-Sen: For a while now, I've been hearing people say—people who've seen him up close—that Republican Rep. Todd Akin is actually pretty dumb. I believe that more and more each passing day, especially when he's capable of the following statement about Medicare: “I don’t find in the Constitution that it is the job of the government to provide health care.” Is Akin sure he wants to keep saying stuff like that?
• NV-Sen: Tell me if I'm wrong on this one, because I have no interest in being a homer, but this page A1 NYT piece on Shelley Berkley allegedly using her influence to try to help her husband's nephrology practice seems like it's less than it's cracked up to be. Read the article and judge yourself, but this strikes me as a classic case of the Times getting very worked up about the confluence of money and politics and deciding that there's inevitably corruption when the two intersect. One over-heated line in the piece really bothers me, where reporter Eric Lipton says that Berkley's behavior is "striking even among her peers on Capitol Hill" — but offers absolutely zero attempt at any kind of comparisons with other lawmakers. Hell, one of the letters Berkley sent that the Times grouses about—aimed at saving Nevada's only kidney transplant center—was even co-signed by Dean Heller, Berkley's Republican opponent… a fact the Times manages to elide entirely. Anyhow, I don't dispute that the optics aren't good, and it's certainly possible Berkley has acted impurely, so this story could very well prove damaging. But I think the jury's out for now.
• VA-Sen, VA-03: Entirely unsurprising, but nonetheless, Rep. Bobby Scott says he won't seek the Democratic nomination for Senate and will instead endorse ex-Gov. Tim Kaine. Scott of course claims he could have won the nod, but I am very skeptical. In any case, Scott had also said more than once that he'd decide in early July, but he obviously missed that timetable by a couple of months. It sounds like he wanted to await the outcome of congressional redistricting, but with that process delayed indefinitely (see VA redistricting bullet below), it seems like it was finally time to make a choice.
• WA-Sen: The Everett Herald's Jerry Cornfield says that freshman state Sen. Michael Baumgartner is supposedly being pushed to run for Senate by his fellow Republicans, who so far have come up empty in their search for a candidate to take on Sen. Maria Cantwell.
• NH-Gov: WMUR's Josh McElveen tweets that Dem Gov. John Lynch will announce whether he's seeking a fifth two-year term "in a couple of weeks."
• MT-Gov: Democratic AG Steve Bullock will reportedly make a formal announcement that he's joining the gubernatorial race today.
• WV-Gov: I told you I didn't feel so great about that DGA poll which had Dem Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin up 47-33 over businessman Bill Maloney. Tom Jensen tweets that the race is "now in single digits" and that he'll have full numbers out today.
Meanwhile, the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce is out with a poll of its own, but they didn't exactly go top shelf. The poll, from local outfit R.L. Repass & Partners, survey a mere 300 respondents and took a leisurely 12 days in the middle of August to do so. It also wound up with a ton of undecideds (31%), and found acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin with just 40%. Fortunately, businessman Bill Maloney was all the way back at 24%, but I think you'd be hard-pressed to call this poll particularly good news — especially since the Chamber looks likely to endorse Tomblin.
• CA-35: Let's call this the least surprising press release of the cycle. Back in June, state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod declared: “I’m in, I’m in, I’m in, I’m in!" At the time, this district was known as "Ontario-Pomona," but now that it has an official number (35), I guess Negrete McLeod is making it official, too.
• IA-01, IA-Sen, IA-Gov: Dem Rep. Bruce Braley has lately been holding events outside of his 1st Congressional District, leading a number of in-state political observers to speculate that he's looking at either a gubernatorial or Senate run in 2014. (Some even suggest that Sen. Tom Harkin is grooming him as his successor.) Braley responds by saying he's spending time in Des Moines (which lies just to the southwest of IA-01) because the media market there covers new parts of his district. Seems kinda thin….
• IL-14: Former McHenry (pop. 25K) Alderman Frank McClatchey, who also served as the eponymous county's Democratic chair in the 1990s, says he'll run for Congress in the redrawn 14th CD. This seat was deliberately designed as a GOP vote sink (Democrats got crushed here in 2010), so it would take some doing to turn this seat blue. However, there is a ray of hope: We could see a Republican primary mashup between Rep. Randy Hultgren (who has already said he'll seek re-election here) and Rep. Joe Walsh (who may). If they utterly nuke each other — and especially if Walsh somehow emerges the victor — then we may just have a shot here.
• IN-08: Patrick Scates, a former district director for ex-Rep. Brad Ellsworth, says he may join the Democratic field looking to win this seat back from GOP freshman Larry Buchson. Scates would join state Rep. Dave Crooks and attorney Terry White in the race. No word on whether Ellsworth might endorse Scates, but in the past he's had some kind words for his one-time aide, who came over to Ellsworth's staff on a personal recommendation from Barack Obama.
• KY-03: Dem Rep. John Yarmuth just announced that he's seeking a fourth term, and said so specifically to combat rumors that he might have had other plans. I hadn't heard an inkling about any retirement speculation, but Ryan Alessi points to a Roll Call piece from earlier this year which pointed out that Yarmuth raised only $34K in the second quarter. Yarmuth says he'd been holding off on fundraising on account of Kentucky's off-year statewide races this fall, but promises a "much more impressive" third quarter.
• MI-13: Southfield (pop. 72K) Mayor Brenda Lawrence has upgraded from "actively looking" to "announcing soon" that she'll challenge freshman Rep. Hansen Clarke in the Democratic primary.
• NC-04: Rep. David Price previously sent out a fundraising email which indicated he'd seek re-election, and now he's confirmed that at a recent town hall. Price will face off in the Democratic primary against fellow Rep. Brad Miller.
• NC-11: Roll Call says that real estate investor Mark Meadows is likely to seek the GOP nod to challenge Dem Rep. Heath Shuler, and that he plans to self-fund a "significant amount."
• NE-02: Two Some Dudes are better than one: Republican Rep. Lee Terry, an occasional apostate, just acquired his second primary challenger, 72-year-old math professor Jack Heidel. Not that I think either Heidel or Brett Lindstrom, a 30-year-old one-time college football player, are much of a threat to Terry, but when you're the incumbent, you'd almost always prefer to face a divided opposition.
• NV-02: Kate Marshall is out with what looks to be her final ad of the race (election day is Tuesday):
Given the DCCC's total abdication here, and the absence of any positive internal polling, it's hard to see how Marshall could pull off an upset. The spending imbalance is laid out starkly in Ray Hagar's summary
— check out the left-hand sidebar for the rundown.
• NY-09: Republican pollster Magellan is out with a new poll in the special election, and they find GOPer Bob Turner leading David Weprin 45-40, with 3% for Christopher Hoeppner, who is running under the Socialist Workers Party banner. Please note that this poll, Rasmussen-like, was in the field for just a single day — and also somehow came back with a whopping 2,055 respondents. (Read this post by Nate Silver to understand why such short sample periods can be so problematic.) Magellan also put some questions before the head-to-heads which it shouldn't have, like "right track/wrong track" and an issue-based question about federal priorities. What's most telling to me, though, is that even Turner's own internal polling isn't this optimistic — his survey from McLaughlin & Associates had the race at 42-42. So I'm a bit skeptical.
• OK-02: As expected, businessman Markwayne Mullin (already in the running for one of the best names of the cycle, though still behind Beto O'Rourke) launched his campaign for the Republican nomination in the open seat race in Oklahoma's 2nd CD.
• TX-36: That's a lot of gold fillings: Usually I don't think of dentists as the kind of guys who might self-fund their own political campaigns, but Shira Toeplitz suggests that Republican Brian Babin may do just that. Babin is interested in a run in the new 36th CD, but he hasn't committed to putting his own money into the race just yet. Note: State Sen. Mike Jackson is already in the race, and former Pasadena Mayor John Manlove (yes, that's his real name) may also join.
• WV-01: If you've been reading the tea leaves carefully (and we're always careful never to throw away the dregs without looking first here at Daily Kos Elections), then this won't be a surprise. Ex-state Sen. Mike Oliverio, who beat Dem Rep. Alan Mollohan in last year's primary but lost by less than 1% in the general election, just announced that he'll seek a rematch against GOP freshman David McKinley. Oliverio had been seen around the state capitol building while his former colleagues were hashing out a new redistricting map — and the fact that they left prior district lines virtually unchanged is probably a good thing for him. Given the difficulty of the district, Oliverio outperformed expectations considerably in 2010 (best seen visually here).
• NH Executive Council: Democratic operative Colin Van Ostern, who managed Ann McLane Kuster to within a point-and-a-half of victory during last year's red storm, is running for office himself. Van Ostern is seeking a spot on New Hampshire's unusual five-person Executive Council, which has veto power over many gubernatorial decisions that most states reserve exclusively to their governors. The current council is composed entirely of
three Republicans and two Democrats and played a key role in cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood earlier this year. Van Ostern is running in the swingy District 2 against Daniel St. Hilaire, and picking up this seat will be of critical importance if Democrats don't keep the governor's mansion next year — and even if they do.
• Special Elections: Johnny Longtorso gives us some background on last night's special in New Hampshire:
New Hampshire House, Rockingham-14: Another open Republican seat in the massive New Hampshire House of Representatives. This is normally a pretty Republican seat, having gone 51-48 McCain in '08 and 53-44 Stephen in '10, but there's a split among Republicans: The Republican nominee is firefighter Kevin Janvrin, but some Republicans feel he is a RINO, and are instead backing Libertarian nominee Brendan Kelly, a Selectman in Seabrook. Democrats nominated Ryan Mahoney, a consultant who was one of the Democrats' candidates in the district last year. I'm not sure if this split will be enough for Mahoney to pull off an upset, but it's an interesting race nonetheless. The district elected two Democrats and two Republicans in '06, three Republicans and one Democrat in '08, and four Republicans in '10.
Unfortunately, Johnny updates, Janvrin held this seat for his party, winning 45-37 over Mahoney. Libertarian Brendan Kelly's 17% wasn't quite enough to split the vote and tip the election to the Democrats.
• NY Election Law: Remember that crazy New York election law I first brought up last Friday, which purports to require that campaigns disclose a whole mess of details about any polls they release to the public? Well, I emailed the Board of Elections about it, and this is the response I got:
Thank you for contacting the NYS Board of Elections concerning filings for public opinion polls.
We do not post the polls on the website. If you wish to know if a particular campaign has filed a poll please submit a FOIL request through the website under the link for "Public Information".
So no online database, but could there really be an archive of this information somewhere? You better believe I'll be filing a freedom of information request!
• AZ Redistricting: Republicans seldom show much shame when trying to mau-mau the refs, and AG Tom Horne is proving to be an exemplar of the form. Under fire from his predecessor for publicizing an investigation into independent redistricting commission, Horne isn't dialing things back but ratcheting things up and comparing the situation to the greatest constitutional crisis of the last hundred years. Says Horne of the commissioners: “They’re stonewalling. And as I’ve said before, it didn’t work in Watergate and it won’t work now.”
To show you what a fraud this all is, GOP state Senate Majority Leader Andy Biggs recently demanded some 4,000 pages of documents from the commission under a freedom-of-information request, as part of this ongoing intimidation campaign, and then accused the commission of "stonewalling" — three days after they made all of the documents available. Even more pathetic, even after two weeks, Biggs still hadn't sent anyone to review the materials. I just hope the commissioners stay strong in the face of this assault. This also ought to be a demonstration that states which use independent commissions can get just as rancid as place which do redistricting the old-fashioned way.
• ME Redistricting: Eddie in ME has a great, in-depth look at why Republicans in the state legislature might not ram through redistricting on a simple majority vote, instead of reaching a deal with Democrats to achieve a supermajority. The (very) short answer is that if a bill is passed by 50%+1, it's subject to being overturned at the ballot box; legislation passed with two-thirds in favor is immune. But click the link for much more detail.
• NJ Redistricting: New Jersey's redistricting commission just began work yesterday, though it doesn't have to produce a new congressional map until Jan. 17. The commission is composed of six Democrats and six Republicans, with a tiebreaking 13th member serving as commissioner. The man on the hot seat is former state AG John Farmer, whom we discussed when he was first selected.
• NM Redistricting: Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has convened a special session of the legislature, ostensibly to deal with redistricting. But Martinez also wants the Dem-controlled lege to reconsider several bills on unrelated subjects that lawmakers already voted down during the regular session, which could delay work on new maps. The real issue will be, of course, whether a compromise redistricting plan can be reached, or whether the entire issue winds up in the courts.
• TX Redistricting: Michael Li of the very straightforwardly-named Texas Redistricting blog has an excellent preview of the major redistricting trial that started in San Antonio yesterday. If you want to understand who all the key players are and what major issues will be decided, I highly recommend his summary — it's much better than all the tradmed pieces I've read about the trial, which is supposed to last until Sept. 16. A ruling may not happen until late this year, especially since the San Antonio court is awaiting the outcome of the other key case hearing Texas redistricting issues: the preclearance suit in Washington, DC, which may not issue a decision until Thanksgiving.
• VA Redistricting: It sounds like the state legislature is giving up on reaching a compromise congressional map, something Democrats and Republicans had supposedly been working on during a special session this summer. (You can see both sides' proposal here.) Anita Kumar at the Washington Post says that lawmakers might postpone further discussions "at least until November," and may wind up kicking the whole thing to the courts. For Democrats, that's probably the best-case scenario.