Want the scoop on hot races around the country? Get the digest emailed to you each weekday morning. Sign up here
• MI-Sen: Have you seen Republican Pete Hoekstra's new "Super Bowl ad" (which didn't even actually air during the Super Bowl)? Cuz if ya haven't, ya gotta:
In case you can't watch where you are right now, well, you'll miss out on some of the impact, but here's how it goes:
The ad opens with an Asian woman on a bicycle in what appears to be a rice paddy. "Thank you, Michigan Sen. Debbie 'spend-it-now,'" the woman says in accented English. "Debbie spend so much American money you borrow more and more from us. Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs. Thank you, Debbie spend-it-now."
The ad then cuts to Hoekstra. "I think this race for U.S. Senate is between Debbie 'spend-it-now' and Pete 'spend-it-not.' I'm Pete spend-it-not, and I approve this message," he says.
And no, those aren't typos. The woman on the bike does indeed leave off the final "s" in "spend" and "get" in some kind of grotesque pidgin. (It reminds me of this vile spot
from Republican Mark Amodei in last year's NV-02 special election.) The good news is that Hoekstra's been getting slammed all over the place for this ad, including by members of his own party. Of course, if Hoekstra thinks that there's no such thing as bad publicity, this could all be part of a devious plan, since he's certainly getting a lot more ink than he would have with some anodyne positive spot or generic attack.
P.S. I know you won't believe me until you visit the link yourself, but trust me: Hoekstra's "Debbie Spend-in-now" site is even more over-the-top than the ad itself. But you don't have to take my word for it—just click.
• NM-Sen: There've been tons of rumors that Lt. Gov. John Sanchez's wobbly Senate campaign was circling the drain in recent days, and this certainly will only add to them. Sanchez had tried to withhold information about his fourth-quarter fundraising report, so it's no surprise to finally learn how sucky it was: He pulled in just $102K and has a mere $110K in the bank. What's more, Sanchez repaid himself for half of a $200K loan he made to his own campaign, which is typically the sort of move you make only after election day. NM Politics' Heath Haussamen insists that his report that Sanchez will drop out of the GOP primary is still accurate, even though Sanchez denies it, but Haussamen says it's simply a matter of when, not if, Sanchez will announce his departure.
• NJ-Sen: Biden alert! Everyone's favorite VPOTUS is coming to the Garden State in mid-March to keynote a fundraiser for Dem Sen. Bob Menendez.
• SD-Sen, SD-AL: From the "Never Too Early" Dept., former Republican Gov. Mike Rounds says he's giving serious consideration to a run for Senate in 2014. Democrat Tim Johnson will be up for re-election then, though given his past health issues, he may opt to retire. Longtime election-watchers will recall that Johnson only survived in 2002 by an extraordinary 524 votes (to then Rep. John Thune, who went on to defeat Sen. Tom Daschle in 2004 by a slim margin), so this is a seat the GOP most certainly covets.
As for Rounds, he won with 62% in his last race in 2006 and was generally very popular, so he'd make a formidable candidate. One potential roadblock for him, though, is freshman GOP Rep. Kristi Noem, who might also have her eye on Johnson's seat. (Noem's obviously not saying anything.) Rounds says he won't run for the House, though that might present a more tempting option if Noem makes a Senate bid and leaves the congressional seat open. (And if you're thinking, a former governor? running for the House? shah! ... well, that's exactly what recently deceased ex-Gov. Bill Janklow successfully did in 2002. It's a different ballgame when your state only has one seat in the House.)
• NH-Gov: Former state Sen. Maggie Hassan has had the Democratic gubernatorial field all to herself since October, but that's about to change on Tuesday. One of her old colleagues in the legislature, ex-state Sen. Jackie Cilley, is set to launch her campaign for New Hampshire's open governor's race. There are still a couple of other names lurking out there on the Dem side, though, including former state director of the Bureau of Securities Regulation Mark Connolly and Clinton-era ambassador Terry Shumaker. (Late last month, former state AG Phil McLaughlin said he wouldn't run.)
• AZ-06: Yeah, baby! Brock Landers is going to bring it! In a year almost devoid of incumbent-vs.-incumbent primary battles on the GOP side, Ben Quayle is finally going to give us what we want. The freshman Republican (and son of the never-to-be-forgotten Dan Quayle) at long last has announced that he'll seek re-election in Arizona's redrawn 6th Congressional District, which puts him cheek-by-jowl against Dave Schweikert, another first-term GOPer who long ago tried to stake his claim to this seat. Quayle outraised Schweikert by a healthy $262K to $170K margin last quarter, but given that both have sizable warchests, this should be a fun one to watch. It also means that the 9th CD will be open territory and ripe for a Democratic pickup (though Quayle would have been a fun opponent there, too). Anyhow, it's definitely boogie time!
• AZ-08: Via Dave Catanese, some unnamed sources are now saying that a possibility hinted at last week by state Rep. Matt Heinz may indeed come to pass: Ex-Rep. Gabby Giffords will reportedly endorse her former district director, Ron Barber, to run as a "caretaker" candidate in the upcoming special election, solely to fill out the remainder of her term. (Heinz said if Barber did this, he'd defer and instead run in the primary for the regular November election.) If this actually happens, it would also invalidate an older story in Politico which said that Barber wouldn't run.
In any event, one of the reports Catanese links to also mentions a couple of new names who might seek to replace Giffords: Cox Communications executive Lisa Lovallo and wealthy attorney/businesswoman Nan Stockholm Walden, who flirted with a run for Senate last cycle. Lovallo is actually a Republican who is tight with Giffords and may switch parties; supposedly Giffords even wanted to endorse her, but ran into a lot of opposition from local Dems.
• LA-04: Hahahahahahahahahahah!
• MD-06: Steny Hoyer, the number two Democrat in the House and, I think it's fair to say, the number one Democratic macher in Maryland, is reportedly set to endorse state Sen. Rob Garagiola in his quest to wrest the redrawn 6th District from Republican hands. First, though, Garagiola's gotta win his party's nomination, and he's facing off against wealthy businessman John Delaney in the primary for the right to represent Team Blue this November.
• NJ-10: Grr. You know I really hate this kind of thing. After saying on Friday that Newark City Councilman Ron Rice had indeed launched a challenge to Rep. Donald Payne in the Democratic primary, the Newark Star-Ledger takes it back with this editor's note: "An earlier version of this post inaccurately reported that Rice had officially announced his candidacy for Congress. Rice has not yet made his decision." I don't blame the paper: this Rice video is pretty confusing as to whether he's formally running or not. Candidates, please, stop doing this. Run or don't run. Don't dribble it out. It's lame.
• NY-26: Robert McCarthy of the Buffalo News says that three Republicans are quietly amping up potential bids to take on freshman Dem Kathy Hochul: former Erie County Executive Chris Collins, Amherst Supervisor Barry Weinstein, and Iraq War veteran David Bellavia. We previously noted that Collins, who lost his race for re-election last year, wasn't ruling out a run, but now unnamed sources are saying he's looking at things more seriously. Collins ran for Congress once before, getting crushed in 1998 by Dem Rep. John LaFalce in the old 29th (a much bluer district than today's 26th), but on the plus side (for him), he could self-fund.
Bellavia, you'll remember, sought the GOP nod in last year's special election to replace disgraced ex-Rep. Chris Lee but was turned down by party elders in favor of Assemblywoman Jane Corwin. Bellavia later tried to get on the ballot as an independent but muffed his paperwork and instead endorsed Crazy Jack Davis. (Ah, good times!) Weinstein also interviewed with the Republican Party for the special but was likewise denied. Of course, the big hang-up here is redistricting, since no one is quite sure what this seat will look like, so we probably won't have any clarity on the GOP field for a while.
• PA-12: In the battle for union endorsements in this incumbent-vs.-incumbent primary, Mark Critz has definitely been swamping his fellow Democrat Jason Altmire. The latest get is a big one for Critz: The SEIU just gave him their support. That comes on top of endorsements by the United Mine Workers, the United Steelworkers, and the Laborers District Council of Western Pennsylvania. Altmire appears to be suffering for his vote against healthcare reform in 2010, which aroused a lot of labor ire at the time and evidently hasn't been forgotten. Critz certainly is a lucky beneficiary of this anger, though, since he wasn't in Congress at the time the bill was passed and said he'd have voted against it. But I guess an actual "nay" just has a much bigger impact that a hypothetical one.
• PA-17: Luzerne County councilman Stephen Urban, who began circulating petitions last week but wasn't sure whether he'd actually make a congressional bid, has indeed decided to join the race in the redrawn (and much bluer) 17th CD. Urban's entry makes this a three-way between Rep. Tim Holden and attorney Matt Cartwright, and it may allow Holden to escape via the clown car's hatchback.
• PA-18: You know why I almost always ignore FreedomWorks? Because after I busted the group last year for being all talk and no action—they spent just half a million bucks in 2010—I got this email from their executive director, Max Pappas:
In the spirit of helping you offer a more informed analysis to your readership in the future… I was surprised by your analysis of the Nebraska race, dismissing our influence based on a dollar figure. The game’s changed—that’s not how it works any more. The power of networks dramatically decreases the marginal cost of being effective. It seems like you used the outdated formula x$=y TV ads. But it costs almost nothing to post something to our 1,000,000+ fans on Facebook and not much more to email our membership list of about the same size. And the dollar figure you linked to fails to capture the thousands and thousands of hours our members volunteered last year using the tools we gave them to get involved and make a difference.
What an embarrassment. And that's why I don't give a damn that they claim they're helping former Rand Paul staffer Evan Feinberg in his primary challenge to Republican Rep. Tim Murphy. Unless FreedomWorks plans, for the first time, on spending real money here, then their million fans on Facebook don't mean squat.
• IN-SoS: On Friday, a jury found Indiana's Republican secretary of state, Charlie White, guilty of six felonies relating to charges of voter fraud. As a result, White was immediately removed from office and Gov. Mitch Daniels appointed White's top deputy, Jerry Bonnet, as interim SoS. White says he will appeal the verdict. Also still pending is a separate civil case in which a trial court judge found that due to the same charges which led to White's criminal conviction, he was ineligible to even run for the secretary of state's job back in 2010. That judge found that Democrat Vop Osili, White's opponent last cycle, should be declared the winner instead, though he stayed the ruling pending appeal. So even if White gets his conviction reduced to misdemeanor-level, or overturned entirely, he may still be out of a job.
• California (PDF): Here's an undertaking that's truly epic in scope, by political scientists at the University of San Francisco: They calculated a PVI-style metric for every single precinct in the giant state of California. The choropleth (sorry, fancy word for "map with color gradations") of all the state's precincts is the real centerpiece here, though based on the heavy concentration of votes in the metropolitan areas, at first glance it makes California look a lot redder than it actually is:
(click for larger)
• Congress: Ooh, this is fun: The Sunlight Foundation has analyzed staff turnover rates in the House, comparing who was on payroll in the third quarter of 2009 versus the third quarter of 2011. The most-loved boss, if you think you can demonstrate this empirically? Democrat Mike Capuano, who represents MA-08 (running for re-election in MA-07). The office with the lowest retention rate? That would belong to Democrat Betty Sutton of OH-13 (running for re-election in OH-16). Click through for full stats, and a whole bunch more analysis of different factors that appear to correlate with staff longevity.
• Ohio GOP: This is deep in the weeds even by our own standards at Daily Kos Elections, but it's a story we've actually mentioned once before: the ongoing cat fud fight between Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio Republican Party, which looks like it's really tearing the state GOP apart. Kasich has long wanted to install his own loyalists in the party's leadership, but supporters of chair Kevin DeWine (a cousin to AG and former Sen. Mike DeWine) have been battling back hard. On Friday, they pushed through rules changes that would make it harder if not impossible for Kasich to stage a coup and oust DeWine. And any time John Kasich suffers, a Democratic angel gets his wings.
• WATN?: Oy vey. Richie Farmer not only got sandblasted last November as the Kentucky GOP's lt. gov. candidate, but he also was term-limited out of his job as the state's agriculture commissioner. So what did he do? He applied for unemployment benefits, even though "public elected official" is explicitly excluded as an eligible category. You may also recall that last year, Farmer, alone among statewide elected officials, refused to participate in a voluntary furlough to save the state money. What a guy!
• AK Redistricting: Up in Alaska, a judge just ordered the state's redistricting board to redraw several state House districts that don't pass constitutional muster. As is often the case with these sorts of cases concerning legislative lines, the districts were insufficiently compact.
• MO Redistricting: After conducting a trial as ordered by the state supreme court, a judge upheld Missouri's new congressional map in the face of challenges that several districts are insufficiently "compact" under the state constitution. Though not formally a party to the suit, Dem Rep. Russ Carnahan is a major backer of some of the plaintiffs, who are vowing to appeal the ruling. If you're interested, you can see a version of the alternate map that Carnahan's allies are proposing here.
• NY Redistricting: The CUNY Center for Urban Research has cool new interactive maps where you can compare New York's current legislative maps with the new proposals from LATFOR. There's a further guide to the site here.
• TX Redistricting: Like several of our friends in the blogosphere, we spent a good part of Monday scrambling to stay on top of the situation with regard to the new (alleged) compromise on interim congressional and legislative maps in the state of Texas. Early in the afternoon, Republican AG Greg Abbott put out a statement suggesting that many plaintiffs in the state's consolidated redistricting lawsuit were on board with a proposed agreement, but as the day wore on, it became clear that quite a few folks were adamantly opposed to the deal, as Katherine Haenschen documented in great detail at Burnt Orange Report.
It's hard to know exactly what Abbott and this band of plaintiffs were thinking—perhaps they were trying to create a snowball effect that would put pressure on everyone to come to the table. Alternately, they may have been hoping to present the court with a plan it would have been willing to impose even in the face of continued objections. Whatever the case, it appears not to have worked (at least for now), since the San Antonio panel hearing the case declined to alter its scheduling order "in the absence of a general agreement between all Plaintiffs and the State of Texas."
This case has taken so many twists and turns, though, that it would be unwise to presume these proposed maps are dead. (You can view them here; Michael Li also has election results for the House, Senate, and Congress.) So in case they do rise, zombie-like, in the near or distant future, it's worth pointing out that the congressional plan created three new Democratic seats (33, 34, and 35, all with Hispanic majorities of varying sizes) and two Republican seats (36 and 25, which would mean that Dem Rep. Lloyd Doggett would once again go back to being screwed), for a net of 2D-2R.
The 27th, which until 2010 had consistently elected Hispanic Democrats, would also become unwinnable for Dems, and the 23rd, which also elected a Hispanic Democrat under its current configuration until last cycle, would become a bit redder (based on 2008 presidential numbers) and more difficult for Dems to retake. That means the map would, on paper, establish a net of one new Latino-majority seat, though as Li pointed out, the 33rd has a Hispanic citizen voting-age population (CVAP) of just 39%. That perhaps makes the map a wash for Hispanics, even though they accounted for the vast majority of the state's population growth over the last decade, and also helps explain a lot of the hostility to it.
Needless to say, we'll be following further developments closely, though after yesterday's acrimony, it certainly seems like no quick settlement is likely. But in a case like this, you learn never to say never. (David Nir & David Jarman)