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8:16 AM PT: OH-Gov: I never thought I'd type the words "Richard Cordray has been confirmed as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Board by the Senate," but so he has. As part of their deal with Democrats to avoid the so-called "nuclear option" on the use of the filibuster, Republicans finally allowed Cordray, who had been put forth two years earlier by President Obama, to receive an up-or-down vote on his nomination, which he secured by a 2-to-1 ratio.
It's a great win for Democrats both in terms of policy and politics... and it also has electoral ramifications. Cordray, a former Ohio state attorney general, had never ruled out the possibility of returning home to run for governor next year if his appointment didn't pan out. That obviously won't be happening now, which means that Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, the only person in the race, will have a clear path to the Democratic nomination. And that, of course, will allow FitzGerald to focus exclusively on GOP Gov. John Kasich, without having to worry about a primary battle.
8:53 AM PT: Boston Mayor: There's really not much to see in Suffolk's first poll of the Boston mayor's race, seeing as the leading candidate in a field of a dozen gets just 12 percent. That would be City Councilor John Connolly, followed by state Rep. Martin Walsh at 11, with everyone else in single digits. The contest is ostensibly non-partisan, with all contenders appearing on a single ballot in September, followed by a runoff between the top two vote-getters in November. It's also the first time in forever that there's an open seat here; for the longest time, mayoral elections were just suicide runs against Tom Menino, but he's finally retiring, which explains the low name recognition of everyone hoping to replace him.
9:31 AM PT: IA-Sen:
Schumer is also a really good negotiator, and Young could walk out of the room having agreed to become a Jew.
9:51 AM PT: WV-Sen: One more prominent West Virginia Democrat is saying no to a Senate bid. State Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis says she's not running, joining a long list of other recruits who've decided to take a pass on this open seat race. However, a few potential names are still considering, including Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.
10:58 AM PT: MA-06: It looks like immigration attorney Marisa DeFranco, who only began publicly mooting the race a short time ago, has already jumped into the Democratic primary in MA-06, where she joins Iraq vet Seth Moulton in trying to unseat Rep. John Tierney. And Tierney's Republican opponent from 2012, ex-state Sen. Richard Tisei, is also sounding more likely for a rematch. Tisei says he's giving the race "serious thought" and adds that "I'm leaving my calendar open for the next 18 months."
11:37 AM PT: MT-Sen: Local blogger Montana Cowgirl takes a good holistic look at the list of possible candidates for Senate in her home state, mentioning a few we haven't discussed here yet. On the Democratic side, there's ex-Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger, who served under Brian Schweitzer. However, he's 77 years old and is also entertaining a bid as an independent (he previously served in the legislature as a Republican). Meanwhile, state Sen. Kendall Van Dyk, who rather improbably ousted a Republican incumbent in 2010—by all of four votes—is apparently a no.
As for the GOP, the author runs through a much longer list of new names, including two 2012 LG hopefuls, Navy SEAL Ryan Zinke and businessman Jon Sonju, and state Reps. Scott Reichner and Krayton Kerns. She also suggests that last year's gubernatorial nominee, Rick Hill, could possibly run, too, though I suspect all of these guys are waiting to see what Rep. Steve Daines does.
11:49 AM PT: PA-Gov: Speaking to a bunch of unnamed Pennsylvania GOP operatives, the National Journal's Alex Roarty suggests that Republicans are preparing for the possibility of an effort to get Gov. Tom Corbett to step aside, rather than run for another term. Obviously, Democrats have to hope this never happens, since Corbett's disastrous poll numbers make this Pennsylvania the top gubernatorial pickup opportunity in the nation.
But if Corbett does get pushed out, Roarty says Republicans have their eyes on four potential candidates: Reps. Jim Gerlach, Pat Meehan, Mike Kelly, and state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi. The only one to speak on the record (through a spokesman) was Gerlach, who dropped out of the 2010 GOP primary in favor of Corbett but now says that "if the situation were to change," he'd consider running. For now, of course, Gerlach's saying he supports Corbett, just like everyone else. But that could soon change.
12:09 PM PT: OH-06: Well, it's progress. Former state Rep. Jennifer Garrison, who just announced a bid for Congress against GOP Rep. Bill Johnson, was notorious for her anti-gay views, and in particular the campaign she waged for the state House in 2004. That year, she unseated state Rep. Nancy Hollister, the only Republican legislator in Ohio to vote against a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in the state. Garrison ran to Hollister's right, attacking her for opposition to the ballot measure. The amendment ultimately passed by a wide margin, and Hollister lost.
While in the legislature, Garrison also tried to delay a vote on a bill to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in 2009 (while claiming she supported the law), and in 2006, she killed an amendment to an anti-bullying bill that would have included similar provisions.
Now, though, Garrison appears to have had a change of heart on at least one issue, saying she supports same-sex marriage. The fact that Garrison is only saying so now, right after launching her campaign, I'm sure isn't lost on anyone. But even if there's a measure of expediency involved, it's quite positive that even in a conservative district like this one, a candidate like Garrison would rather be known as a candidate who favors marriage equality, rather than one who opposes it.
12:12 PM PT: AL-01: State Sen. Trip Pittman says he won't run in the expected special election in AL-01, where a giant field of eight Republicans is eagerly awaiting Rep. Jo Bonner's resignation announcement, planned for next month.
12:21 PM PT: AK Ballot: Activists hoping to overturn a new set of tax breaks for the oil industry passed by the legislature earlier this year have submitted 50,000 signatures to put a repeal referendum on the ballot in August of 2014. Organizers easily cleared the 30,000 threshold they needed—an impressive feat in far-flung Alaska—and now the Division of Elections has 60 days to review the petitions and, if enough are valid, certify the measure. If the repeal does make it before voters, it'll be only the fourth in state history to do so.
12:36 PM PT: MD-Gov: Delegate Heather Mizeur formally launched her long-planned campaign for governor on Wednesday, joining Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown in the Democratic primary. State Attorney General Doug Gansler is also expected to join the race, but Mizeur would be the only woman running, and would be trying to become the first female governor in Maryland history, as well as the first openly gay governor in the nation. Mizeur, who will likely try to position herself as the most outspoken progressive in the field, won't be able to match Gansler and Brown's huge financial resources. But if those two savage one another with negative attacks, Mizeur could be well-placed to slip through, much as Creigh Deeds did in neighboring Virginia in 2009.
12:46 PM PT (jeffmd): Pres-by-LD: A trio of Upper Midwestern states in today's Pres-by-LD updates: Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
: Democrats hold the Iowa Senate by the thinnest of majorities, with 26 seats in the 50-member chamber. The median seat is 52.6 percent Obama, near his 52.2 percent statewide haul. There's one Democrat in a Romney-won district, but eight Republicans in Obama-won districts (SD-07, a 57 percent Obama seat near Sioux City, is the bluest seat held by a Republican).
Democrats find themselves in the minority in the Iowa House, with 47 seats of 100. Obama actually won 61 HDs in the commission-drawn map, but there are 18 Republicans in Obama-won HDs (compared with just four Democrats in Romney districts). The road to a Democratic majority would run through the four Republicans sitting in 55 percent Obama (or better) HDs. The median district here is 51.4 percent Obama, again, fairly representative of his statewide performance.
• Minnesota: Even though the map in Minnesota was court-drawn, both chambers feature median districts slightly to the right of the state as a whole. Compared to the state, where Obama got 52.8 percent, the median SD is 50.4 percent Obama and the median HD is 49.3 percent Obama; this likely owes to the high concentration of Democrats in the Twin Cities. (Compare this to Iowa, where Democratic strength is less clustered and there are few areas in which Democrats run up the same margins as they do in Minneapolis and St. Paul.)
Democrats maintain the majority in both chambers, though, by holding most Obama-won districts and maintaining their hold on ancestrally Democratic outstate districts (think Collin Petersen and MN-07). Obama won 38 of 67 SDs and the DFL (the state Democratic Party) holds 33 of those seats; Obama won 68 of 134 HDs and the DFL holds 64 of them. Indeed, there are far more DFLers in Romney-won districts: six in the Senate (holding districts as red as 53 percent Romney) and nine in the House (holding districts as red as 55 percent Romney). Finally, as a testament to Amy Klobuchar's strength on the ticket last year, she won every single SD with at least 54 percent and every HD with 51 percent.
• Wisconsin: In contrast to the non-partisan maps in Iowa and Minnesota, the Wisconsin maps were implemented by Republicans who controlled the redistricting trifecta. Democrats hold 15 of 33 seats, the median of which is 48.3 percent Obama. (The state, for reference, was 52.9 percent Obama overall.) Obama only won 16 of the 33 SDs, two of which are held by Republicans (one of which, SD-17 is held by moderate Republican Dale Schultz, who has a good reason to be moderate given his 57-42 Obama/52-46 Baldwin district.) In contrast, only one Democrat holds a Romney-won SD, John Lehman in SD-21. (However, Lehman, who won his 2012 recall in the old SD-21, has never faced an election under SD-21's new configuration, which Romney and GOP Senate nominee Tommy Thompson won 55-44 and 53-44, respectively.)
The 99-member state Assembly shows a similar Republican advantage, where the median district is 48.1 percent Obama. (The disparity between this and Obama's statewide performance is partially attributable to Democratic concentration in Milwaukee and Madison, but there is also definite evidence of gerrymandering as well.) Romney won 56 ADs, and Republicans hold all but two of them. Republicans also supplement their caucus with six members in Obama-won HDs (including Howard Marklein, who holds a 59-40 Obama AD that also comprises one-third of Dale Schultz's SD-17).
1:54 PM PT: NC-Sen: The Senate portion of PPP's latest North Carolina poll has good news for Sen. Kay Hagan, something you might have expected given that the state government part of this survey was pretty bearish for the GOP. But it's important not to get hung up on any one poll, since at various times this year, PPP's numbers have offered cause for both optimism and anxiety over Hagan's chances.
This month, she has double-digit leads against the entire field, looking much more like she did in May, but last month, she couldn't escape the mid-40s. To put things in broader perspective, I've placed both June and May trendlines in parentheses:
• 49-39 vs. physician Greg Brannon (44-40, 49-40)
• 49-39 vs. state Senate President Phil Berger (44-40, 46-42)
• 49-38 vs. state House Speaker Thom Tillis (45-40, 48-41)
• 49-37 vs. Rep. Virginia Foxx (46-39, 49-42)
• 49-36 vs. Rep. Renee Ellmers (46-39, 48-39)
• 49-36 vs. former Ambassador Jim Cain (46-38, 48-41)
• 49-35 vs. Baptist leader Mark Harris (46-37, 46-40)
• 49-34 vs. former Charlotte City Councilwoman Lynn Wheeler (45-36, 48-37)
So as you can see, Hagan's jumped around a fair bit, going from +7 vs. Tillis (her only declared opponent) to +5 and now +11. Interestingly, Hagan's job approval rating has barely budged, now standing at 43-45, compared to 41-42 last time, so it's not that Hagan is getting more popular. Rather, looking at the crosstabs, the big movement took place among independents, who supported Tillis 46-32 in June but now back Hagan 40-36. It's certainly possible, as Tom Jensen posits, that the extreme agenda that Republicans are pursuing in the legislature these days is turning off middle-of-the-road voters. But again, this is just one poll. Let's see if Hagan can keep this up for a sustained stretch of time.