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• AK-Sen: PPP's new Alaska poll shows some real slippage for Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, though two of his potential opponents are so unpopular he'd wallop them anyway. Here's how Begich performs against the GOP field, with February trendlines in parentheses:
• 55-32 vs. 2010 nominee Joe Miller (58-30)
• 52-40 vs. ex-Gov. Sarah Palin (54-38)
• 46-39 vs. Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan
• 44-40 vs. Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell (47-39)
The problem for Begich, whose approval rating has fallen from 49-39 to just 42-41, is that neither Miller nor Palin is likely to be the Republican nominee. Palin is almost certainly screwing around and isn't serious about anything, while Miller is deeply disliked by the GOP primary electorate. Tom Jensen tested several different scenarios, none of which look good for Miller:
Right now, Treadwell and Miller are the only declared candidates, though various reports make it sound like Sullivan is pretty interested. Given how much of a tossup a Palin-less primary appears to be, he may well be quite tempted. As for Begich, his slip in approvals is troubling, though perhaps PPP's earlier survey was overly optimistic. Begich is one of those preternaturally skilled politicians you never want to count out, but if he's really down at 44 percent versus an anodyne establishment figure like Treadwell, that's a tough place to be in when you're seeking re-election in a red state.
• MI-Sen: Paulist Rep. Justin Amash, who still hasn't made up his mind about a Senate bid, is sounding pretty pessimistic about GOP hopes, and adds that he'd ideally come to a decision by "about the fall." So if he has to announce his plans by "approximately" autumn, does that mean summer and winter are also possibilities?
• MT-Sen: EMILY's List President Stephanie Schriock says she will not run for Senate in Montana, making her the third notable Democrat to decline a bid, along with ex-Gov. Brian Schweitzer and state Auditor Monica Lindeen. However, several others are still considering, including Lt. Gov. John Walsh and Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau.
• NC-Sen: After delaying her decision several times, Rep. Renee Ellmers has decided against a bid for Senate, leaving Republicans without a top-tier candidate to take on freshman Sen. Kay Hagan next year. It's sort of remarkable that we'd be talking about Ellmers, one of the more flotsam-y pieces of jetsam that got swept in with the 2010, as a desirable GOP option, but here we are. So far, the only non-Some Dude in the race is state House Speaker Thom Tillis, and the NRSC has made it pretty clear they're not in love with him. Do Republican recruitment difficulties in the Tarheel State say something about what their internal polls look like? We can only hope.
• AK-Gov: Despite a mediocre 44-42 job approval rating, Gov. Sean Parnell handily turns back a variety of potential Democratic challengers in PPP's new Alaska poll. He leads former state Rep. Ethan Berkowitz 51-38, little changed from his 50-41 edge in February. Parnell also tops state Sen. Bill Wielechowski 52-33, state Rep. Les Gara at 53-33, and state Sen. Hollis French at 54-33, all candidates PPP is testing for the first time. And in the Republican primary, Parnell beats former Valdez Mayor Bill Walker, who also ran for governor in 2010, by a wide 60-22 margin.
• IA-Gov: Two top Democrats in the Iowa legislature, state Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and state Senate President Pam Jochum, both announced on Tuesday that they won't run for governor next year. So far, state Rep. Tyler Olson is the only Democrat in the race, though state Sen. Jack Hatch and ex-state Rep. Bob Krause may join him.
• LA-Gov: State Treasurer John Kennedy, who lost a Senate bid in 2008, says he's "very, very seriously" weighing a bid for governor in 2015, when Gov. Bobby Jindal will be term-limited. At least two other big-name Republicans are also likely to run, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Sen. David Vitter. Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards says that he, too, plans to make the race.
• VA-Gov: It's quality programming that sounds ready-made for LingleVision: Citizens United is paying to broadcast a "documentary" on Democrat Terry McAuliffe's businesses (called "Fast Terry") on several Virginia television stations next month. Undoubtedly, the 30-minute long attack ad is must-see TV. It's not clear, though, exactly how much CU is shelling out to present this cinematic masterpiece.
• IL-11: State Rep. Darlene Senger filed paperwork with the FEC all the way back on April Fool's Day, but she only formally kicked off her campaign against Dem Rep. Bill Foster this week. Senger raised an unimpressed $82,000 in the second quarter, and she also faces a contested GOP primary that includes conservative talk radio host Ian Bayne and Grundy County Board Member Chris Balkema.
• MA-05: State Sen. Karen Spilka has released an internal poll of the Democratic primary in the special election to fill Ed Markey's seat, and it shows the race as wide open as can be. The survey, from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, has state Sen. Katherine Clark at 15, Spilka at 14, Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian at 12, state Sen. Will Brownsberger at 11, and state Rep. Carl Sciortino at 4. David Bernstein adds that GQR's memo says the first four candidates have "nearly identical name-identification and favorability ratings." The primary will be held on Oct. 15.
• NE-02: One of the toughest losses for Democrats last year came in Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District, where challenger John Ewing lost to GOP Rep. Lee Terry by less than 2 points, despite being badly underfunded. Ewing doesn't sound too interested in a rematch, but other candidates have said they might give it a shot. Chief among them seems to be Omaha City Councilman Pete Festersen, who has been in contact with the DCCC.
Commenter BluntDiplomat also discusses some more possibilities, including Army vet Larry Bradley, who lost a race for University of Nebraska Regent in 2012; state Sen. Brad Ashford, who has been looking at a possible Senate bid; and state Sen. Steve Lathrop, who has expressed interest in the governor's race. NE-02 would certainly be an easier race for a Democrat than a statewide gambit, but a big reason Ewing was able to make it so close was top-of-the-ticket enthusiasm for Barack Obama, something that obviously won't be a factor in 2014.
P.S. One possible contender has said no, though: GOP state Sen. Bob Krist, who appeared to be mooting a party switch, will instead run for re-election (as a Republican, though he sounds none too happy with the crazies in his party).
• CO Recall: It looks like the fields are set in both Colorado recall elections. Former Colorado Springs City Councilman Bernie Herpin was apparently the only Republican to file petitions in SD-11, where state Senate President John Morse is being targeted; the same was true of former Pueblo Deputy Police Chief George Rivera, who is trying to replace state Sen. Angela Giron in SD-03. Pueblo Democrat Sonia Negrete-Winn, who opposes the recalls but wanted to give voters an alternative on the second ballot question were Giron to get recalled on the first, failed to submit enough signatures.
And with that, the game is on. Morse is already going up on TV with a $70,000 buy, backing a minute-long spot that tries to cram in a whole bunch of different issues. The ad leads with Morse touting his credentials on child safety (including a mention of his job as chief of police in Fountain, CO), then goes on to discuss economics, and finally concludes with the narrator bashing recall advocates for the cost of the election. I'm not sure why this isn't broken up into two separate commercials, though.
Morse's opponents are also headed on to the airwaves, with a more traditional 30-second spot from the National Association for Gun Rights that tries to paint Morse as a puppet of NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who wants to "ban guns, salt, and Big Gulps." I think Bloomberg is a potent figure among movement conservatives in the same way that, say, the Koch brothers motivate progressives, but I question whether ordinary Coloradans care about him. There's no word on the size of the NAGR's buy.
• Deaths: Two significant politicians from yesteryear both died in the last few days: Republican Pennsylvania Gov. William Scranton (who died on Sunday at age 96) and Democratic-turned-Independent Virginia Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr. (who died Tuesday at age 98). Ed Kilgore seems to be the first to notice the symmetry in the deaths of these two 60s-era politicians: they're examples of what used to be par for the course for the parties, before the great ideological sorting-out of the last few decades.
Scranton was a centrist, if not outright liberal, Republican, of the sort that used to dominate the suburbs of the northeast. He was a contender for the 1964 GOP nomination against Barry Goldwater; Kilgore highlights a video of Scranton's prescient critique of the GOP standing "with one foot in the twentieth century and one foot in the nineteenth" and "selling out to a modern philosophy of negation." The segregationist and budget-hawk Byrd, by contrast, was initially a right-wing Democrat at a time when that was standard operating practice in the South. (David Jarman)