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• MA-Sen: Good to see Massachusetts Dems being smart and trying to "Akinize" former US Attorney Michael Sullivan while it's still early. Sullivan seems to have earned the "front-runner" label in the GOP Senate primary, perhaps because he was able to earn a spot on the ballot through the use of volunteer petition-gatherers, as opposed to paying professionals, as his opponents did. And he not only has enthusiasm on his side, but he's also far and away the most conservative of the trio of Republican hopefuls:
He has said he is opposed to abortion rights and gay marriage. He also opposes a ban on assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips. His two primary opponents, state Representative Daniel P. Winslow and Cohasset businessman Gabriel E. Gomez, support gay marriage and abortion rights, but do not favor a ban on assault weapons.
Indeed, Sullivan's conservatism (he was a Bush appointee, after all) may explain his supporters' motivation, and it also makes him the most likely candidate to emerge with the nomination, particularly since he's running against two relative "moderates." But Democrats are nevertheless eager to ensure that happens, staging a series of events to call attention to Sullivan's out-of-step right-wing views. It's a move that can pay double dividends: helping Sullivan to win his primary, and making him more unacceptable to general election voters if he does.
The best recent example of this happened last year, when Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill ran ads ahead of her state's Republican primary that purported to "attack" Todd Akin as unacceptably conservative. It helped him win a three-way fight for his party's nod, and of course, the rest is history. Bay State Democrats don't need Sullivan to implode in the way Akin did in order to prevail, but it's heartening that they're actively engaging the race and taking the right steps to make sure this seat stays blue.
• GA-Sen: Politico's James Hohmann tackles the GOP Senate field that's shaping up in Georgia, where establishment Republicans are worried they might nominate a candidate "who say[s] things so off-putting to mainstream voters that they blow the election." Yes, establishment Rep. Tom Price may yet run, but Hohmann reports that unnamed "many, including a former adviser, say Price is reluctant to relinquish his perch in the House."
That could leave the GOP with the likes of Reps. Paul Broun (the only declared entrant so far) and Phil Gingrey leading the pack... and if you aren't already familiar with their most famous hits, click through. It's also probably why some new names are still being floated: Hohmann mentions both sophomore Rep. Austin Scott and state House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey as potential options. No matter what, though, I'm expecting some fun here.
• MI-Gov: March is upon us, and spring will soon be close at hand, so PPP is starting to make a second pass around the nation, revisiting states it's already tested once before this cycle. Aside from North Carolina, the firm's home state, and Georgia, which saw a major retirement between polls, Michigan is the first state that PPP's gone back into, giving us our first real trendlines of 2013. But things haven't changed much: GOP Gov. Rick Snyder is still in very poor shape following his efforts to ram through anti-union "right-to-work" laws in December. Snyder continues to sport a miserable 37-54 job approval rating, pretty much the same as his early 38-56 score.
And against a trio of possible opponents, he once again clocks in in the thirties. December results are in parentheses:
• 37-44 vs. 2010 nominee Virg Bernero (38-49)
• 38-43 vs. Rep. Gary Peters (39-47)
• 36-40 vs. ex-Rep. Mark Schauer (39-44)
I guess Snyder can take a bit of solace in the fact that all three Democrats have seen their toplines fall, too, but as Tom Jensen notes, Bernero, Peters, and Schauer are all mostly-to-very unknown. I suspect that in December, when emotions were running highest over right-to-work, it may have been easier for some respondents to view, say, Virg Bernero as more of a "Generic D" type and press a button for "anybody but Snyder." In practice, though, little-known candidates have to work to get their names out there, something they should be readily able to do next year.
There is one genuinely positive sign for Republicans in this poll, though: On the generic legislative ballot, the GOP now trails by "only" a 48-36 margin. But that's down from an insane 56-32 spread in December. RTW obviously has faded from the headlines since then, and it was hard to ever imagine a 24-point lead sustaining itself, but Republican numbers may still recover further. So Democrats will have to work hard to rekindle the justified outrage over right-to-work as we get closer to the 2014 elections, when not only Snyder but every member of the state House and Senate will be up for re-election.
• NE-Gov, -Sen: Attorney Mike Meister, who was drafted into the 2010 gubernatorial race at the last minute after the Democrats' original nominee bailed, says he's considering another bid for governor, now that incumbent Gov. Dave Heineman is term-limited, or for Senate, which will also be open. Unsurprisingly, Meister got destroyed his last time out, with Heineman taking 74 percent of the vote.
• CA-07: Here's another Republican looking at taking on freshman Rep. Ami Bera: ex-Rep. Doug Ose, who represented the old 3rd Congressional District for three terms until he stepped aside to honor a term limits pledge. Ose's successor was none other than Dan Lungren, the man Bera beat last November. Ose attempted a comeback once before, in 2008, when he ran in the open CA-04 GOP primary, losing 53-39 to now-Rep. Tom McClintock. (The race also featured the immortal Ted Terbolizard, who managed 2 percent.) Given Bera's narrow win and this district's swingy nature, I suspect Ose would definitely have to contend other Republicans who want the same thing as he does—including last year's Senate nominee, Elizabeth Emken, who is also eying the seat.
• CA-52: This would probably be a good move by the GOP if they can make it happen: 2012 San Diego mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio is not ruling out a run against freshman Dem Scott Peters, who narrowly defeated Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray last year. DeMaio tried hard to remake himself as a "moderate" last year and is also openly gay; while he lost the race for mayor by five points to Bob Filner, he actually carried the portion of CA-52 that's within city limits by a 56-43 margin. And the overlap is substantial, with 90 percent of the district sitting inside San Diego proper. (The remaining 10 percent is very Republican turf.)
So if I were Peters, I don't think I'd like to face DeMaio. However, DeMaio has a classic problem of his own: Can he prevail over candidates who are willing to embrace their conservatism openly? California, as you know, has a top-two primary system, whereby the two highest vote-getters in the primary advance to the November general election, regardless of party. That means there isn't a "GOP primary" or "nomination" as such, but if DeMaio had to deal with a firebreather running to his right, he might well fail to make it to the second round... unless he decides to cast off his sheep's clothing and start spouting the crazy himself. Democrats would benefit either way.
• GA-12, -Sen: It's very thin, but local analyst Jim Galloway says that Democrat Ed Tarver, the U.S. Attorney for Georgia's Southern District and a former state senator, is quietly expressing interest in running for John Barrow's GA-12. But Galloway makes it sound like Tarver would only run if Barrow, a fellow Democrat, made a bid for Senate—and he thinks Tarver wouldn't be sending these signals if Barrow wasn't at least persuadable about going for the Senate.
• ME-02, -Gov: It seems like pure speculation, but it's not the worst idea: Prior to Rep. Mike Michaud expressing possible interest in a gubernatorial bid, ex-Gov. John Baldacci was the most prominent Maine Democrat to say he was looking at a race against the man who succeeded him, Gov. Paul LePage. But if Baldacci is truly set on attempting a comeback bid, there's a way to make both Dems happy: Michaud could run for governor and Baldacci could run for Michaud's House seat, which Baldacci represented from 1995 to 2003... until he was replaced by none other than Michaud. Michaud is definitely the strongest possible gov candidate, and Baldacci would probably be one of our better bets to hold the 2nd Congressional District if it became open, if only because of his instant name recognition. We're a long way off from this switcheroo happening, but like I say, it could work.
• LA Mayor: As expected, City Councilman Eric Garcetti and city Controller Wendy Greuel, both Democrats, advanced to the May 21 Los Angeles mayoral runoff after Tuesday night's top-two primary. Garcetti had a narrow 33-29 advantage, which may not seem like a lot but could prove decisive in the second round. However, there are still many mail-in ballots to be counted, so the totals could change. The L.A. Times also has a cool interactive precinct-level map which is worth checking out.