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• LA-Gov: One of the most incredible political survival stories in recent years belongs to Republican Sen. David Vitter, who rather notoriously stood his ground after he admitted to soliciting prostitutes working under the infamous "DC Madam" in 2007. Not only did Vitter handily turn back a primary challenge and easily win re-election in 2010, but the New Republic's Marin Cogan makes a convincing case that he's now the most powerful politician in Louisiana. Vitter seems to have his sights set on the 2015 governor's race, when incumbent Bobby Jindal will be termed out—and on his way there, he's also badly outmaneuvered Jindal at every turn. I thought this section was the most intriguing:
Jindal was elected to the governor's mansion later that year , while the national press excoriated Vitter. But Vitter had already begun laying the groundwork for his ascendance in his home state. In his days as a state legislator, he had successfully pushed for term limits for legislators, forcing many of the lawmakers he had served alongside to give up their seats in 2007. Vitter began recruiting conservative candidates to replace them and helped fund campaigns through the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority (LCRM), a PAC he had co-founded a couple years earlier. He also personally reached out to Democrats in conservative districts, encouraging them to get ahead of the state's rightward turn.
The Louisiana legislature didn't go red in 2007, but, thanks to a successful election cycle and a few high-profile Democratic defections, the House flipped in 2010. A year later, the state Senate followed suit. It was the first time Republicans controlled the legislature since Reconstruction. Scott Hobbs, a Louisiana-based political consultant, estimated that Vitter helped "at least sixty to seventy percent [of Republicans in the legislature] in some way" between 2007 and 2011. Now Baton Rouge is filled with Vitter-friendly pols, sometimes referred to as the "fiscal hawks." They've made Jindal's life a lot harder, attacking him for using accounting gimmicks to balance the state budget. Vitter has gotten in on the action too, castigating the governor for "kicking the can down the road—the sort of bad spending policy I'm constantly fighting in Washington."
Vitter certainly lucked out by being in the right place at the right time: Louisiana trailed most of its Southern brethren in its conversion to a one-party state. But Vitter slyly took advantage of the situation and created a political environment where many if not most Republicans owe him a great deal. And that means he's likely to face little opposition from his own party as he seeks the governor's mansion. Jindal, meanwhile, could try to run for president, but remarkably, it's Vitter's future that looks much brighter.
• HI-Sen: Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D): $500K raised (in six weeks)
• KY-Sen: Sen. Mitch McConnell (R): $2.2 mil raised, $9.6 mil cash-on-hand
• MA-05: Peter Koutoujian (D): $308K raised (in half of quarter), $290K cash-on-hand; Katherine Clark (D): $228K raised, $402K cash-on-hand; Carl Sciortino: $203K raised, $270K cash-on-hand; Karen Spilka (D): $200K raised (since May), $200K cash-on-hand; Will Brownsberger (D): $130K raised, $290K cash-on-hand
• MN-Sen: Sen. Al Franken (D): $2 mil raised, $3 mil cash-on-hand
• NC-Sen: Sen. Kay Hagan (D): $2 mil raised, $4.2 mil cash-on-hand
• NH-Sen: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen: $1.2 mil raised, $2.2 mil cash-on-hand
• NJ-Sen: Cory Booker (D): $4.6 mil raised (yowza), $4.5 mil cash-on-hand
• PA-15: Rep. Charlie Dent (R): $367K raised, $440K cash-on-hand
• SC-Gov: Gov. Nikki Haley (R): $572K raised, $2.5 mil cash-on-hand; Vincent Sheheen (D): $611K raised, $571K cash-on-hand (note that Haley included an extra $47K raised after the June 30 deadline, presumably in an effort to put out a higher topline that Sheheen, so the numbers we list here are only for the quarter)
• SC-Sen-A: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R): $1.4 mil raised, $6.3 mil cash-on-hand
• TX-Gov: Greg Abbott (R): $4.8 mil raised (in two weeks! but note that he was barred from raising money during the legislative session, so this reflects almost a full quarter's worth of "pent-up demand")
• WV-Sen: Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R): $770K raised
• MT-Sen: I was more than a little surprised to read the other week that ex-Gov. Brian Schweitzer had done almost nothing to help Sen. Jon Tester in his difficult re-election campaign last year, something that was all the more shocking given that Schweitzer went all-out for Tester in his first Senate race in 2006. Politico's Manu Raju has more detail on how the relationship between the two men has evolved, and while it's not really clear why they grew apart, a number of local Democrats (including some Schweitzer supporters) acknowledge that the former governor can be abrasive.
The real question is whether any of this will matter next year, assuming Schweitzer runs for Montana's open Senate seat. Both Tester and retiring Sen. Max Baucus offered rather cool, non-committal statements when asked if they'd get behind Schweitzer, though a Tester staffer later said that her boss "plans to work hard for all Montana Democrats in 2014." There's really no excusing Schweitzer's disappearance on the campaign trail last year, but hopefully things will get patched up and Tester will prove to be the bigger man.
• MA-Gov: State Sen. Dan Wolf, who first publicly expressed interest in running for governor back in January, formally announced his candidacy on Wednesday. He joins former Medicare administrator Donald Berwick and pharmaceutical research executive Joseph Avellone in the Democratic primary, though others are very likely to get in. Wolf is also the founder of a small airline, Cape Air, and may have personal wealth he can bring to the race. Wolf will very likely tout his progressive bona fides, but he's certainly not the only person running who can walk that walk.
• PA-Gov: There's an interesting electoral angle to Democratic Attorney General Kathleen Kane's decision not to defend the state in a new lawsuit alleging that Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional: Will GOP Gov. Tom Corbett pick up the slack? If Corbett uses his office's legal resources to fight the suit, he risks inflaming Democratic antipathy toward him even further; if he declines, he could alienate a base that already doesn't exactly love him. Not a fun place to be, unless you're a Pennsylvania Democrat.
• IA-01: Former state Sen. Swati Dandekar has resigned from the Iowa Utilities Board so that she can spend more time exploring a bid for Congress. Of course, it was Dandekar's decision to accept an appointment to that very same board from GOP Gov. Terry Branstad back in 2011 that earned her the undying enmity of so many Democrats in the first place. At the time, Democrats held the Senate by just a 26-24 margin, and Dandekar's resignation triggered a special election in a competitive seat that could have cost us control of the chamber.
Fortunately, Democrat Liz Mathis was able to hold on, but Dandekar's betrayal won't soon be forgotten. What's more, Dandekar has long been known for her conservative views, so between her ideology and her partisan fickleness, it's very hard to see how she might prevail in a Democratic primary. But none of that seems to be stopping her from trying.
• MA-05: State Rep. Carl Sciortino, who is openly gay, just received the backing of the Human Rights Campaign in the Democratic primary to replace Sen.-elect Ed Markey. But while it's the largest LGBT organization in the country, HRC is not a big outside spender, so it remains to be seen what the group's endorsement might mean for Sciortino in a practical sense.
• MA-06: The Democratic primary in Massachusetts' 6th Congressional District could soon get even more complicated. Rep. John Tierney is already facing a challenge from self-described "centrist" Marine vet Seth Moulton, and now immigration attorney Marisa DeFranco says that she, too, is "taking a very strong look at the race." DeFranco tried running for Senate last year and attempted to stake out territory to Elizabeth Warren's left, but she failed to get enough votes at a party convention to appear on the primary ballot.
If she does enter the contest, DeFranco could actually wind up helping Tierney via what we call the "clown car effect." That's what happens when multiple candidates pile in to challenge a wounded incumbent in a primary, splitting the anti-incumbent vote and allowing the lucky office-holder to escape with a plurality win. Despite his political near-death last year, though, it's far from clear whether Tierney has worn out his welcome with Democratic primary voters, so he might not even need the help, though I suspect he's thinking "the more, the merrier" regardless.
• MA-09: NRCC chief Greg Walden is talking up Gabriel Gomez, the Republican businessman who lost last month's special Senate election to Ed Markey, as a possible candidate against Rep. Bill Keating next year. Walden says he hasn't actually talked to Gomez yet, but notes that he beat Markey by 7 points in the 9th District, which matches Greg Giroux's calculations. (It was also Gomez's best CD in the state.)
Numbers like that can be very seductive and misleading, though, since the 9th, of course, is Keating's home base, as opposed to the relatively neutral turf it offered in the Senate race. (Gomez, incidentally, lives in Cohasset, which is in the neighboring 8th.) Keating's district is also a 56-43 Obama seat, which would be very tough for any Republican to win against a scandal-free Democratic incumbent.
• SD Mayor: Oof. Three prominent individuals described as "staunch supporters" of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner are calling on him to resign in the wake of sexual harassment allegations. The group includes a former city councilwoman and the brother of a state Assembly member, and all, like Filner, are Democrats, so this can't be dismissed as a merely partisan attack. Obviously, these charges are far from proven and could go nowhere legally speaking, but as a political matter, they're very serious.
Filner was only elected to his current post in November, after a long career in Congress, but his short tenure as mayor has been filled with negatives even before this latest development. He's recently come under fire for using taxpayer money for a trip to Paris that included security provided by city police officers. Far more troubling, though, are reports that federal officials are investigating allegations that a local developer donated $100,000 to two projects Filner supports, in exchange for Filner withdrawing his opposition to a development deal. (Filner has apparently since given back the money.)
Filner's response was actually fairly shocking in today's political world, and, in my opinion, quite fascinating. In a videotaped statement, he issued the opposite of a denial:
I begin today by apologizing to you. I have diminished the office to which you elected me. I have reached into my heart and soul and realize I must and will change my behavior.
As someone who has spent a lifetime fighting for equality for all people, I am embarrassed to admit that I have failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me, and that at times I have intimidated them.
I am also humbled to admit that I need help. I have begun to work with professionals to make changes in my behavior and approach. In addition, my staff and I will participate in sexual harassment training provided by the city.
Please know that I fully understand that only I am the one who can make these changes. If my behavior doesn't change I cannot succeed in leading our city.
It sounds like Filner's asking not just for forgiveness, but for time to get himself in shape. Now the question is whether the citizens of San Diego, his critics, and his victims accept this proposition, or whether Filner's detractors continue to seek his ouster. From a purely political perspective, it will be very interesting and enlightening to see what happens next.
• Campaigns: Alexander Burns offers an interesting look at attempts by Democratic consultants to scale down the massive Obama data analytics enterprise for use by smaller campaigns—in other words, every campaign below the presidential level—and GOP efforts to play catch-up. Some aspects of the Obama analytics shop are easier to miniaturize than others, but as one operative notes, costs keep dropping, making more and more tools available to more and more candidates.
In a responsive post, media and public affairs Prof. David Karpf goes into deeper detail about which specific tools translate best downballot. He describes what he calls as the "analytics floor" that divides large- and small-scale operations and opines that the Obama campaign's ability to generate massive amounts of quantitative data and test "everything" can't really be replicated in, say, a mayoral race, where polling will necessarily be scarce. But, he says, Democratic advantages in the party's voter file and in knowledge about voter behavior can indeed be used by smaller campaigns.
• Deaths: If you followed New Jersey's legislative redistricting process this decade (or the decade before, or the decade before that), then you likely recall the name of Alan Rosenthal, a Rutgers polisci professor who served as the tiebreaking member of the panel that selected which set of lines the state would use for the next ten years. Rosenthal was a registered Democrat but commanded the respect of both parties; in the end, he wound up choosing the maps put forth by Democrats in 2011. Next time, sadly, the Garden State will need a new tie-breaker, because Rosenthal has died at the age of 81, due to cancer.
• WATN?: There's no way Mark Foley could ever come back, right? The phrase "left office in disgrace" was practically invented for him, after, well, he left office in disgrace following his extremely inappropriate contact with underage congressional pages in 2006. But despite his political exile, Foley's old campaign committee still has $1.3 million left in the kitty, and someone's even been investing the funds, yielding $77,000 in new receipts in the second quarter alone.
Generally speaking, there's no good reason to hold on to this cash unless you want to run for office again some day—you can just refund the money or donate it to charity instead. (Or give it to other candidates, though I suspect few would accept.) Yet there it sits in Foley's bank account, just waiting... but for what? I shudder to think.