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• WA Ballot: The initiative process in the western states is chaotic, easily gamed, and often counterproductive, but it's also, on rare, pleasant occasions, a way to end-run legislative gridlock and get progressive policy into place that no legislature would willingly touch, as with marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado last year. With the Colorado recalls making it even less likely that gun safety will find its way on the legislative docket, the initiative process is the next logical step, and it's likely that Washington will have a background checks measure on the ballot in 2014. (There may also be a competing initiative from the gun rights lobby on the same ballot; don't ask what happens if they both pass.)
A poll from Gallatin Public Affairs and GS Strategy (that focused primarily on the state's business climate; the article doesn't mention who sponsored it, though) finds extremely broad support for the pro-background checks measure, though. After describing the measure, the survey finds it's on track to pass by a whopping 74-20 margin. Of course, this doesn't solve the problem of congressional intractability on gun safety regulations, but it's a start.
• LA-Sen: On Thursday, we mentioned a fairly large buy (around $250,000) from the Democratic group Senate Majority PAC on behalf of Mary Landrieu. With the ad's release, though, it turns out it's not a pro-Landrieu spot but anti-Bill Cassidy, hitting her likely GOP opponent for the government shutdown and proposed Medicare cuts. It's no surprise SMP getting involved here; the Koch-linked Americans for Prosperity has been blanketing the Louisiana airwaves, to the tune of $1.6 million over the last two months.
• PA-Sen: His seat isn't until 2016, but Republican Pat Toomey may wind up attracting as many opponents in his first bid for re-election as Tom Corbett this year. PoliticsPA is reporting that Kathleen Kane, the first Democrat ever elected as Pennsylvania's AG in 2012, is "seriously considering" a Senate run in '16. Problem is, that would set up a monster primary with ex-Rep. Joe Sestak, who lost to Toomey in 2010 and has already declared for a rematch.
On top of that, PoliticsPA also tacks on, almost as an aside, that freshman Rep. Matt Cartwright and Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro could also run, so the primary could turn into quite the battle royale. Nobody has publicly polled a Sestak/Kane primary yet, but it's worth noting that PPP found last month that Kane would beat Toomey by 4 while Sestak and Toomey would tie.
• SC-Sen-A: State Sen. Lee Bright is hoping to stand out from the pack and emerge as Sen. Lindsey Graham's main GOP primary challenger, but this is not going to help. The State reports that Bright's failed trucking business is $1.4 million in debt. Bright has an ... interesting spin on things, declaring that his problems are due to the federal government's policies and motivated him to run for the Senate in the first place. (Jeff Singer)
• TX-Sen: In case the enormity of what he's attempting to do from scratch hadn't sunk in yet with Rep. Steve Stockman, it surely did on Friday with the release of a poll from Wilson Perkins Allen giving John Cornyn a 50-6 lead over Stockman. WPA is a GOP pollster (whose clients include Ted Cruz), but they say no one paid for the poll.
Ever the optimist, Stockman promptly tweeted "Bad news for Cornyn: New poll shows 50% of Texas GOP don't want him back in Senate." Of course, the problem is that the converse is that 50 percent of the Texas GOP does want him back in the Senate, enough to get Cornyn over the hump without a runoff ... before even entertaining the question of how Stockman reaches that outstanding 44 percent with $32,000 to his name.
• FL-Gov: Was St. Leo the patron saint of good polling news? Yet another college, St. Leo University, is rolling out a polling operation, and what looks to be their first-ever public poll is a look at their home state of Florida. As with, well, every other poll of the '14 gubernatorial race, they find Democratic candidate Charlie Crist leading GOP incumbent Rick Scott, though this is the first poll since September that's had Crist beating Scott by double digits, at 46-34.
If Nan Rich were to somehow become the Dem nominee, she'd trail Scott 36-31, but more generally, Scott gets a catastrophic 34-51 on the will vote for/will not vote for question. (Looking ahead to 2016, Marco Rubio gets a tepid 40-40 on that same will vote for/will not vote for question.)
As a caveat, this is an all-Internet poll, but it seems like it's still a properly randomized sample from a previously-selected panel. Interestingly, despite what you'd expect based on the method, it still skews pretty old, even by Florida standards: 33 percent of the respondents are 65 or older.
• NE-Gov: Buried in this Omaha World-Herald article about Republican Attorney General Jon Bruning's recent colon cancer diagnosis (the cancer was thankfully caught early, so Bruning looks like he will have a smooth recovery) is the news that Bruning has announced he'll seek reelection to his current post. As recently as late October, Bruning was reportedly testing the waters for a gubernatorial bid, but evidently he decided to remain on dry land. (Hat-tip: JDJase) (Jeff Singer)
• NY-11: The very strange reappearance of ex-Rep. Vito Fossella—who claimed on Wednesday that "significant people," wary of scandal potentially engulfing Rep. Michael Grimm, are asking him to run for Congress again—has promoted an all-hands-on-deck response from everyone who's pretty much anyone in Staten Island politics, all united in talking down Fossella's chances. First and foremost is Guy Molinari, the former congressman, borough president, and all-around S.I. power broker; he says, regarding Fossella, "I don't know if it'll happen. But we'll be ready."
A slew of other local Republican elected officials are also quoted in the story committing to Grimm. However, there are a few notable GOP names who sounded open to backing Fossella: new Borough President-elect James Oddo, who has feuded with Grimm, and supermarket magnate John Catsimatidis, who got Fossella's backing during his failed mayoral bid. Is that a big enough can opener for Fossella to pry open huge tin of cat fud?
• Maps: You might remember the Brookings Institute map from the other week showing property tax rates across the country on a county-by-county basis; it looks like that's only the opening salvo in an ongoing series of tax maps, and the latest installment is on federal income taxes.
These maps tend to correspond closely to counties' median income, highest in the major metropolitan areas, even when you switch over to taxes paid as a share of income (rather than purely in terms of dollars). That's, of course, thanks to the mostly progressive nature of the income tax, where more income means higher tax brackets (at least in theory). One interesting rural stand out, though, is Wyoming, not just in wealthy Teton County (the home of Jackson Hole), but throughout most of the state.
• Votes: Thursday's vote on the small-ball budget compromise cobbled together by Paul Ryan and Patty Murray saw it pass easily, 332-94, breaking 169-62 among Republicans and 163-32 among Democrats. This being a fairly straightforward economic vote rather than a scope-of-government issue, there weren't a lot of weird outsider/insider (or "second dimension," if you prefer) dynamics going on; it was a reasonably clear split with the GOP's right flank and Dems' left flank breaking off.
The 62 "no" votes on the GOP side are a pretty clear marker of where the dividing line in that caucus between the conservative establishmentarians and the difficult-to-manage hard-liners; most of the hard-right types with some leadership associations voted "yes" (like Tom Price, Tom Graves, and Jeb Hensarling), while the off-the-leash types like Louie Gohmert, Steve King, and Michele Bachmann voted "no."
Perhaps the most against-type vote was, oddly, a "yes" vote from the obstreperous Ted Yoho. On the other hand, establishment guys like Tom Cotton, Steve Daines, and Jack Kingston were all "no" votes, but the common thread there is pretty obvious: They're running for Senate, and either worried about a primary or just not alienating their base. (Note, though, that Bill Cassidy, facing a far-right opponent in the Louisiana Senate race, still voted "yes.")
On the Dem side, it was mostly the most progressive members voting "no" (probably because of the omission of unemployment insurance extension), but there are a few interesting exceptions: Colleen Hanabusa, who's concerned about her left flank in the Hawaii Senate primary, the always-irascible Oregonian duo of Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader, and Mike McIntyre, who may well be trying to act like he voted against it from the right.