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• GA-Gov: First-term Republican Gov. Nathan Deal had been running for reelection with no credible Democratic opposition, but that changed Thursday when state Sen. Jason Carter announced that he will seek to unseat the Governor. Carter is the grandson of former Gov. Jimmy Carter, who served from 1971 to 1975 (I'm told he also did some other stuff after that).
It remains an open question how competitive this race will be now that Carter is running. An October PPP poll for the progressive group Better Georgia showed a tight race with Deal ahead only 44 to 40. However, an August poll PPP conducted independently showed a far different result, with Deal leading 48 to 33. Deal could be newly vulnerable due to an FBI investigation over possible ethical breaches. Still, as a red state governor in a midterm year, Deal likely starts out the favorite unless the investigation snowballs.
For his part Carter is a fairly untested candidate. Carter's family name will give him greater name recognition and financial connections than most potential Deal rivals could have hoped for. However, Carter has only won office in a very heavily Democratic district (our preliminary numbers say Carter's Atlanta-area 42nd Senate district gave Barack Obama 71 percent of the vote in 2012), so it remains to be seen whether he can win over enough crossover voters to prevail. At the very least, Carter ensures that Deal will not have the smooth path to victory he may have hoped for.
And two groups are taking Carter's candidacy very seriously: The Democratic Governor's Association and the Deal campaign. Politico reports that the DGA recruited Carter and showed him a private poll to convince him he could mount a credible campaign. Deal's people are also not wasting time now that they have a real opponent: Deal has already reserved airtime between Nov. 8 and 17. (Jeff Singer)
• CO-Sen: Idiot. (Jeff Singer)
• MT-Sen: Well, at least he's not leaving any doubt about whether he's going to pull any punches: John Bohlinger, in his first appearance on Wednesday with reporters after his surprise announcement that he'd run for the Democratic nod for the open Senate seat in Montana, said that "We need to challenge the tea party representatives who like the Taliban shut our country down." (Bohlinger was a Republican state Senator before he became Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer's Lt. Governor, but he seems intent on continuing his ex-boss's bluntness instead of working a bipartisan angle.)
Bohlinger also hurled some brickbats at the DSCC and the state's other Senator, Jon Tester, who've given their backing to current Lt. Gov. John Walsh for the Dem nomination; Walsh, in addition to being somewhat more disciplined, has been running since October. (David Jarman)
• NE-Sen: Somewhat below the radar, the sleepy Republican primary in Nebraska's open seat Senate race (vacated by one-termer Mike Johanns) may be developing something of the now-common establishment vs. tea party dynamic. The Club for Growth just weighed in here, endorsing Ben Sasse, a former HHS assistant secretary and now the president of Midland University. Sasse also has the endorsement of the Senate Conservatives Fund; the tea-flavored third-party groups all seem to be coalescing behind Sasse as the main alternative to ex-state Treasurer Shane Osborn in the crowded field. (David Jarman)
• NY-Gov: Fresh off his 55-45 re-election victory on Tuesday, Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino may be setting his sites a lot higher. Astorino has been mentioned as a potential challenger to Gov. Andrew Cuomo next year and has done nothing to shoot down the rumors. While Astorino holds office in a very Democratic county, he would still have an incredibly uphill climb if he ran. (Jeff Singer)
• VA-Gov, VA-AG: Let's recap the latest stories about Virginia, where we're still sorting through the mixed bag of results that we got and what they all mean:
's Alexander Burns reports on how the narrow-ish victory for Terry McAuliffe was basically what his camp had been planning on all along, regardless of the better results forecast by most public pollsters. Their modeling, in fact, showed that the 2013 electorate was one that went for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama by 2 points (Obama won by 4 in 2012). To compensate, they pushed African-American turnout around the margins, and outperformed Obama among white voters in areas like Hampton Roads.
• The Washington Post's recap has further detail on McAuliffe's sophisticated analytics operation, which in part aimed to demonstrate that Obama's data efforts could be replicated on a smaller level. The piece also has a cool interactive graphic contrasting the county-by-county margins in the 2013, 2009, and 2005 elections.
• I wish we had a map like this one for every state, for every election. Ut's a dot-map that shows the density of actual votes (rather than the mostly-red county-by-county map that we're accustomed to seeing), by Kenton Ngo on behalf of Larry Sabato's Center for Politics.
• On Wednesday, we wished for some further explanation from Dem pollster Geoff Garin, who'd revealed that his unreleased internal polling for McAuliffe had seen the contest as a 2-4 point race the whole way through (except for a small surge during the shutdown). And it looks like we got it, via further Garin conversation with Mark Blumenthal. Garin credits the use of samples drawn from registered voter lists, and probability scores that assess the likelihood of particular voters actually voting. That's, of course, why good internal polling, the kind that campaigns actually rely on, costs much more to do than basic random-number-dialing polls, but also why it gets better results.
• Sean Trende weighs in on the question of whether the public pollsters' overshoot on the margin was more a question of "shy Tories" (in this case, conservatives embarrassed to admit they're voting for Cuccinelli), or an alternate theory, that conservative-leaning Sarvis voters were likelier to break and vote for Cuccinelli than liberal-leaning Sarvis voters were to vote for McAuliffe in the end. He leans toward the "shy Tory" explanation, but it's worth reading the whole thing for a nuanced explanation.
• We're still sorting through the results in the House of Delegates, where the small Dem net gains were on the underwhelming side but a few races are in recount territory; the Washington Post brings us up to date. We got concessions from Dems Kathleen Murphy, Atif Qarni, and Jeremy McPike (who, confusingly, was shown in the lead by the AP for a long time afterward). However, Jennifer Boysko, down 56 votes to Tom Rust in HD-86, hasn't conceded, and Dems are hopeful about a recount; they may also pursue a recount in the John Bell/David Ramadan race, though Bell has conceded.
• Finally, the attorney general's race, where GOPer Mark Obenshain has usually held an under-1,000 vote lead, is far, far from a resolution, and rife with hourly twists as reporting errors get corrected. Rather than make any pronouncements that will subsequently be proven wrong in another hour or two, we'll simply refer you once again to the Twitter feed of Dave Wasserman, who's been doing yeoman's work covering overtime.
• FL-13: This may give David Jolly a leg up in the Republican primary for the special election to replace Bill Young: At Jolly's campaign kickoff event, Young's widow, Bev, not only endorsed Jolly but said that her husband had made a Dan Inouye-style deathbed wish for Jolly to succeed him in his seat. And if you're wondering what the main theme of Jolly's campaign against Alex Sink will be (assuming he even makes it out of the GOP primary), it may well be provincialism: Jolly said "this is a Pinellas County race, and we're going to elect someone from Pinellas" (in a pretty clear dig at Sink's out-of-district residence, in adjacent Hillsborough County). (David Jarman)
• HI-01: The Democratic field in the safely-blue HI-01, left open by Colleen Hanabusa's Senate run, has been slowly growing, but hasn't had one dominant candidate in it... until perhaps now. Somewhat out of the blue (as she hadn't floated her name before, and her name hadn't even appeared on Great Mentioner lists), state Senate President Donna Mercado Kim announced her candidacy on Wednesday. Given her name rec (she's held various offices for 31 years), she probably moves into the frontrunner slot.
One potential problem for Mercado Kim in a Democratic primary, though, is that she is one of only four state senators who voted "no" on Hawaii's recent same-sex marriage bill in October. One of her opponents in the HI-01 field, state Sen. Will Espero, is a recent convert to supporting same-sex marriage, but was a "yes" vote; similarly, state Rep. Mark Takai has voted on the pro-same-sex-marriage side so far in House votes. (The final vote in the Hawaii state House hasn't happened yet, but may happen on Friday.)
Mercado Kim might be counting, though, on consolidating whatever anti-same-sex-marriage vote is present in the Dem primary, while the pro- vote is divided between the other candidates (the field also includes two Honolulu city councilors, Ikaika Anderson and Stanley Chang, who both support same-sex marriage). (David Jarman)
• NC-06: Wednesday was the day of the very surprising retirement, with GOP Rep. Jon Runyan's announcement that he was packing it in after only two terms. Thursday, however, was the day of the not surprising at all retirement: Howard Coble announced that he's hanging it up, at the age of 82 (making him the second oldest House Republican, after 90-year-old Ralph Hall). Coble had suffered various health problems in recent years and had pondered retirement last cycle as well, so this announcement catches no one off guard.
Coble has represented NC-06 since 1984, when he was elected to what then was a swing district thanks to Reagan coattails. Thanks to elaborate gerrymandering and population growth in North Carolina (which has shrunk his territory down mostly to the exurbs of the Greensboro area), though, it's now a thoroughly-red district, clocking in at 41 percent for Obama in 2012.
(By the way, the low-profile Coble's name might be very familiar to people who pay close attention to Internet law. Despite being admittedly computer illiterate, in the 1990s he nevertheless found himself chair of the Judiciary Committee's Intellectual Property Subcommittee in the 1990s, where he was the lead sponsor of the often-onerous Digital Millennium Copyright Act.)
While Coble is certainly conservative, he's also very much an establishment throwback, and in a district this red is likely to be replaced to someone louder and more tea-flavored. Possible Republican names in the mix to replace him include Phil Berger, the state Senate president pro tem, who recently passed up a shot at NC-Sen. Other names who've said they would run if Coble retired include Alamance County Commission chair Tom Manning and former Pleasant Garden mayor Bill Wright.
Perhaps likelier than Berger, Sr., though, is Phil Berger, Jr., the Rockingham County District Attorney, who has previously said he "will run only if Coble retires." More names potentially in the mix are former Guilford Co. Commissioner Billy Yow and radio host Bill Flynn, both of whom challenged Coble from the right (or at least from the louder) in the 2012 primary and clown-carred each other out of contention.
Roll Call has some additional names on the GOP side, including not one but two people familiar to NASCAR fans: Kyle Petty and Terry Labonte. (Kyle wouldn't be the first Petty to run for office: You might recall that his father, Richard Petty, ran for North Carolina SoS in 1996, losing in something of an upset to Elaine Marshall.) They also mention A.J. Daoud, the 6th District GOP chair (and 2012 SoS race loser) and Nathan Tabor as GOP possibilities.
On the Democratic side, it's possible we'll see another run from Tony Foriest, a former state Senator who decided to roll the dice on a run against Coble in 2012 but got flattened in the general, 61-39. Two other Dems have already announced, UNC administrator Laura Fjeld and Durham Co. Soil and Water Supervisor Danielle Adams. (David Jarman)
• NJ-03: Democratic Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard made her bid for this suddenly open swing seat official Thursday. Belgard quickly received the endorsements of Assemblymen Herb Conaway and Troy Singleton; both had been mentioned as potential candidates but they appear to have quickly decided not to run. While it's too early to say Belgard will have a clear path to the Democratic nomination, she seems to be off to a very good start. (Jeff Singer)
• NY-01: One Dem-held seat where there's a fiercely contested GOP primary is the 1st district at the far end of Long Island, where state Sen. Lee Zeldin is facing off against 2012 candidate George Demos. Demos has the endorsement of ex-Gov. George Pataki, but most of the rest of the local establishment is backing Zeldin, and Zeldin got one more key supporter on Thursday: Rep. Peter King, who holds the adjacent NY-02. (David Jarman)
• OH-16: The Suarez Corporation controversy (over the large contributions to GOP politicians that the company seemingly smurfed through many of their employees, who then got illegally reimbursed) seems to be cutting closer and closer to Rep. Jim Renacci. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Renacci wrote a letter to Gov. John Kasich asking him to intervene in a 2011 legal dispute involving Suarez... right at the same time as Suarez employees were making $90,000 in contributions to Renacci's re-election campaign. Renacci has returned all Suarez funds and hasn't been charged with anything, but his letter was cited in the federal indictment of Suarez's corporate officers over the illegal reimbursements. (David Jarman)
• PA-13: If state Sen. Daylin Leach is going to have a shot in the Dem primary in the 13th against the unstoppable force that is Marjorie Margolies (I'm being a little sarcastic, but she does seem to be frontrunner at this point), he's going to need some significant labor backing. To that end, he did receive a big labor endorsement on Thursday, from the southeast Pennsylvania local for the Iron Workers. (David Jarman)
• WV-01: West Virginia might feel like an increasingly lost cause, but the Democrats aren't letting it go without a big fight. They've just gotten a solid recruiting score in the state's northern 1st District, getting Glen Gainer, who has been state Auditor for the last 21 years, to commit to a run against Rep. David McKinley. That gives them top-tier candidates in all three of the state's House districts, as well as the open seat Senate race.
Gainer isn't up for re-election in 2014, so he doesn't need to give up his statewide office to run. WV-01 gave only 36 percent to Obama in 2012, so it there aren't good odds that Gainer will survive; he might be banking on a McKinley retirement (which has been vaguely rumored, even though he was only first elected in 2010) or a rough primary for the sorta-moderate McKinley. (David Jarman)
• House: Two separate organizations are promising big money in the battle over the House. One is the SEIU, which announced Thursday that it's spending $500,000 on an ad push on immigration reform. Ads will target seven Republicans in their home districts (Gary Miller in CA-31, Joe Heck in NV-03, Mike Coffman in CO-06, Rodney Davis in IL-13, David Joyce in OH-14, John Kline in MN-02, and Michael Grimm in NY-11) as well as John Boehner in the DC market, which is more or less his home district.
The other is Republican moderate group Main Street Advocacy (led by ex-Rep. Steve LaTourette), which unveiled a new ad taking tea partiers and their institutional enablers, like the Club for Growth, to task for contributing to recent GOP setbacks. Where the ad is actually running, though, wasn't revealed; it was previewed at a fundraiser where the Main Streets were trying to raise $8 million to intervene in eight races where they're either defending moderates or trying to oust tea partiers. They haven't identified those races beyond defending Adam Kinzinger in IL-16 and attacking Justin Amash in MI-03, though they also mentioned Mike Simpson in ID-02 and Shelley Capito in WV-Sen. (David Jarman)
• Klingon High Council: Qapla! The Ulysses Town Board, located in Upstate New York's Tompkins County, has a new member who should be familiar to many Trekkies. Actor John Hertzler, best known for playing the Klingon General Martok on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" under the stage name J.G. Hertzler, ran as a Democrat and made opposition to hydrofracking an important part of his successful campaign. There is no word whether Hertzler's victory involved any fights to the death.
It remains to be seen whether any cast members from Battlestar Galactica will seek to unseat Hertzler on a pro-frak platform. (Jeff Singer)
• Demographics: National Journal has compiled some interesting data on how intensely clustered well-educated people are becoming. In 1970, 24.6 percent of the nation's people with bachelor's degrees were clustered in 20 major metropolitan areas... but in 2010, 43.4 percent of the nation's people with bachelor's degrees were clustered in those same 20 major metropolitan areas.
That has large economic implications (as the trend toward "two Americas" continues apace), but also political ones, with even further clustering of likely Democratic voters into fewer places (which is fine from the presidential level, but bad when thinking about Congress). The accompanying interactive graphic shows clearly the link between increasing share of college-educated people and overall local economic health... and, though the graph doesn't specifically address it, also a pretty clear relationship with which areas are trending toward and away from the Democrats. (David Jarman)
• Instant Runoff Voting: Until now only a few major American cities such as San Francisco and Minneapolis have adopted the instant runoff (or ranked choice) voting system. However, that may change soon. In his article about the pros and cons of instant runoffs, Louis Jacobson of Governing notes that there are proposals to adopt the system in Los Angeles, New York City, and in statewide elections in Maine.
Whether these ideas will go anywhere is an open question but Jacobson notes one important hurdle for ranked choice has been cleared: large voting machine venders have begun building the option into their products. The entire article is worth a read. (Jeff Singer)
• Site Features: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to roll out our 2014 primary calendar. We have the filing deadlines, primary dates, and runoff dates (where applicable). We also have a separate tab for our races to watch, showing the primaries we think will be exciting or have the potential to be. (Jeff Singer)