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• MI-12: The end of an era, indeed. Democratic Rep. John Dingell, who was first elected in 1955 and last year became the longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history, has decided to finally call it quits at the end of this term. Dingell will turn 88 this summer, and while he remains sharp and said he feels healthy enough to run once more, he wanted to ensure that he was "not going to be carried out feet first." But, in a depressing sign of the times, Dingell also added that he finds "serving in the House to be obnoxious" thanks to the "the acrimony and bitterness." Said Dingell: "This is not the Congress I know and love." A very sad commentary from a man with a legendary career.
But forge on we must and will. Dingell's seat, which now stretches westward from Detroit's suburbs, is safely blue, at 66-33 Obama. The real question is how open the Democratic primary to succeed Dingell will be. Dingell's wife, Debbie, is very likely to run (and at 60, she's much younger than her husband), but it's possible that others will as well. Some alternate names include state Sens. Rebekah Warren and Hoon-Yung Hopgood, and state Reps. Andrew Kandrevas and Doug Geiss. Debbie Dingell is an imposing figure, though, and she brings maximal name recognition to the race, so if she gets in, she'd be the strong favorite.
• AK-Sen: After abruptly cancelling their last ad flight under questionable (and unexplained) circumstances, Americans for Prosperity is going back on the air in Alaska with a new spot for a reported $430,000 buy. Unusually for AFP, the ad doesn't focus on Obamacare, though it does start with a clip of Democratic Sen. Mark Begich offering a version of "if you like it, you can keep it." Instead, if concentrates on a supposed "carbon tax" that AFP alleges Begich supports. But it's a good illustration of how much more powerful video is than mere text, since the only visual that accompanies the carbon tax claim is a still of Begich and his signature—very weak stuff.
• KS-Sen: Hoo boy. Sometimes I just can't summarize stories justly, and sometimes I don't want to. This time, it's both:
U.S. Senate candidate Milton Wolf posted a collection of gruesome X-ray images of gunshot fatalities and medical injuries to his Facebook page and participated in online commentary layered with macabre jokes and descriptions of carnage.
Wolf isn't just a distant, tea partying cousin of Barack Obama's—he's also a physician. And his publication of patient records on the Internet, along with absolutely revolting commentary, is just beyond the pale. Here's just one example of his grotesquerie:
In a Facebook discussion of an image of the person decapitated by gunfire, Wolf shared that the X-ray was among cherished artifacts from time spent working as a medical resident at Truman Medical Centers. The graphic image shows a skull broken apart like a smashed pumpkin. Chunks of skull remain attached by tissue with vertebra exposed at the neck.
"One of my all-time favorites," Wolf posted to the Facebook picture. "From my residency days there was a pretty active 'knife and gun club' at Truman Medical Center. What kind of gun blows somebody's head completely off? I've got to get one of those." [...]
Wolf: "It reminds (me) of the scene from 'Terminator 2' when they shoot the liquid metal terminator guy in the face at close range and it kind of splits him open temporarily almost like a flower blooming. We all find beauty in different things."
He sounds like the twisted kid from American Beauty
, ogling Kevin Spacey's corpse. I've long maintained that in politics, being weird is a graver sin than being an extremist. Say something offensive about rape and someone
will defend your sorry ass. Strap your dog to the roof of your car until he messes himself down the back window and no one wants to get near you. As far as Milton Wolf is concerned, this has all the hallmarks of a Seamus incident.
• TX-Sen, -Gov: A new poll from the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune finds Republican state Attorney General Greg Abbott beating Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis 47-36, up from a 40-34 edge last October. Of more immediate concern for Democrats, though, are the Senate numbers, ahead of the March 4 primary. That's because notorious LaRouchie Kesha Rogers leads the field with 35 percent, while self-funding businessman David Alameel takes 27, attorney Maxey Scherr 15, physician Harry Kim 14, and businessman Michael Fjetland 9.
And let us be absolutely clear: Rogers is a total nutfuck who supports impeaching Obama and flaunts posters of the president sporting a Hitler moustache. But don't imagine that you can just write her off. Rogers has twice won primaries in Texas' 22nd Congressional District, including in 2012, when Democrats did everything they could to stop her from winning again.
Fortunately, no one really cared about a hopelessly red House seat, so Rogers has mostly existed as a curiosity to election geeks (and German fangirls). But if she wins a Senate primary, that'll attract national headlines—and very embarrassing attention for Texas Democrats. Fortunately, Dems will have another chance to stop Rogers in the runoff, but Alameel isn't exactly a vibrant candidate, though at least he's running ads, however cheesy. (Alameel spent a small fortune to take just 11 percent in the TX-33 primary last cycle.) Still, this is a nightmare no one wants, except for Lyndon LaRouche.
Meanwhile, in the GOP Senate primary, Sen. John Cornyn has a massive 62-16 edge on Rep. Steve Stockman (who, now that I think about it, is probably the Republican equivalent of Kesha Rogers, except that he managed to get elected). A bunch of Some Dudes (including "turtle soup" guy Dwayne Stovall) are in single digits.
• WV-Sen: Rasmussen: Natalie Tenant (D): 35, Shelley Moore Capito (R): 49.
• AR-Gov: The RGA has a new spot attacking Democratic ex-Rep. Mike Ross over his record in office, as an animated record (hah hah, get it?) spins on a turntable, playing a disco beat while the narrator talks about "record" Washington spending (god, this pun) and repeats Nancy Pelosi's name over and over. Ross, claims the spot, "voted with Pelosi for the Wall Street bailout, the mortgage bailout, and the auto bailout." Everything's a bailout these days. At this rate, are Republicans eventually going to start referring to World War I as the French bailout?
• CO-Gov: One more candidate is entering the GOP primary for governor: Roni Bell Sylvester, a rancher whose husband runs the National Western Stock Show, which Wikipedia describes as the "world's largest stock show."
• GA-Gov: Progressive group Better Georgia is out with a new poll from PPP showing Republican Gov. Nathan Deal with a 45-42 lead over state Sen. Jason Carter. That's pretty similar to the 44-40 spread PPP found for Better Georgia back in October. What's very strange, though, is that despite getting lacerated in the press for his leadership failures during a crippling January snowstorm, Deal's job approval rating has improved since last time, jumping from a sorry 34-41 to a positive 45-36 now. That kind of movement would be hard to explain under normal circumstances, but it's even more baffling in the wake of the storm.
Indeed, Deal's approvals have constantly bounced around in PPP's polling. A year ago, they were 36-41, before rebounding to 44-32 in August. Then they plummeted again (those October numbers), then rose again. So either PPP keeps getting funky reads, or Georgia voters just cannot make up their minds about Nathan Deal. But even more oddly, when Deal's been paired with Carter, he's never taken less than 44 percent in head-to-heads and never more than 48 percent, regardless of his job approval score. It's hard to figure.
And while not directly related to this year's contest, Jeff Smith has an interesting new piece worth reading about the alliances that some black Democratic mayors, like Atlanta's Kasim Reed and, before him, Newark's Cory Booker, have forged with white Republican governors like Deal and Chris Christie. Despite the partisan unseemliness, there's actually a lot of personal upside for both sides in such arrangements, unless and until one collaborator starts to look toxic, as we've seen with Christie and which we may yet see with Deal.
• HI-Gov: Another poll out of Hawaii shows surprisingly tight numbers in the Democratic primary, but be warned that it's from Merriman River, which does not have a good track record. According to Merriman, Gov. Neil Abercrombie is tied with his little-known (and underfunded) opponent, state Sen. David Ige, at 37 apiece; last week, Ward Research had Abercrombie up 47-38.
Both sets of results are serious head-scratchers, and even odder, Merriman gives Abercrombie a negative 42-46 favorability rating with Democratic primary voters. That's such a low score it beggars belief. And inexplicably, Civil Beat (which commissioned the poll from Merriman) didn't test possible general election matchups with 2010 Republican nominee Duke Aiona, who is considering a bid, or former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who may run as an independent.
It's also worth noting that Abercrombie actually went on the air last month with his first ad of the campaign. In the spot, Abercrombie touts Hawaii recovery from the financial crisis and the state's budget surplus, though the audio is out-of-whack (Abercrombie's lips barely seem to move as he talks, possibly due to a syncing problem).
• IL-Gov: Another We Ask America poll for Capitol Fax finds wealthy businessman Bruce Rauner continuing to lead in next month's GOP gubernatorial primary. Rauner's at 35, versus 14 percent for state Sen. Bill Brady, 13 for state Sen. Kirk Dillard, and just 8 for state Treasurer Dan Rutherford, whose campaign has imploded in the wake of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him (and his own ham-fisted response). A month ago, it was Rauner 34, Brady 17, Rutherford 14, and Dillard 10.
• PA-Gov: Two Democratic candidates for governor are running new TV ads. Katie McGinty has a pair of biographical spots that were apparently recorded on her iPhone. (Not joking—this is part of the shtick.) Unlike with her first ad, which she barely spent any money to air, this time, PoliticsPA estimates she's spending around $183,000.
Meanwhile, self-funder Tom Wolf has what must be his fifth ad to date, though it's very different from his prior efforts, which all featured him talking. This one, instead, showcases African American state Rep. Dwight Evans, who discussed the comeback his Philadelphia neighborhood of Oak Lane has made and says that Wolf "shares my belief in real change."
• AR-04: Big Dog Alert! Buried in an AP piece on Bill Clinton's efforts on behalf of Democratic candidates this cycle is a mention that the Explainer-in-Chief is headed back to his home state of Arkansas on April 5 to help James Lee Witt, who is running for Congress and who earned accolades as FEMA director under Clinton in the 1990s.
• CA-31: There's a split in the Democratic high command when it comes to California's 31st. While the DCCC doesn't typically involve itself in primaries, it endorsed Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar's second bid early on. However, Los Angeles-area Rep. Xavier Becerra, who is the fourth highest-ranking Democrat in the House, has now given his support to attorney Eloise Gomez Reyes, who also has the backing of EMILY's List.
• FL-13: The early voting gap has grown even tighter in the special election in Florida's 13th. In the middle of last week, it stood at 43 percent GOP versus 39 percent Democratic; now it's 40-42. That compares to a 6-point Republican advantage in 2012, which led to Barack Obama narrowly carrying the district, thanks to a big Democratic surge on Election Day.
Meanwhile, the NRCC has a new ad out comparing clips of Democrat Alex Sink and Republican David Jolly talking about a balanced budget amendment (he's for it, she's agin' it) and Obamacare (vice versa). The NRA is also jumping into the race on Jolly's behalf with a $92,000 expenditure, but it's all on web advertising.
• GA-12, -Sen: Businessman Eugene Yu, who failed to make an impact in the crowded Republican Senate primary, has decided to drop down and seek the GOP nomination in Georgia's 12th Congressional District. There he'll still face several other contenders for the right to take on Democratic Rep. John Barrow, but his six-figure self-funding will go a lot farther in a House race.
• LA-06: Former GOP Rep. Jeff Landry, who had been mentioned as a possible candidate for Louisiana's open 6th Congressional District nearly a year ago, will instead run for attorney general next year. This move sets up an intra-party fight with incumbent Republican Buddy Caldwell, but Landry's already earned the endorsement of Sen. David Vitter, who is already the frontrunner in next year's open gubernatorial contest.
• NH-01, -02: Americans for Prosperity is also up with new ads in each of New Hampshire's two congressional districts, reportedly for more than $500,000 combined. Both spots feature women who claim that their health insurance policies were cancelled due to Obamacare, and who complain that their respective Democratic members of Congress, Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster, "don't get it." But as the Huffington Post notes, both women are Republican activists, something we've often seen in AFP ads (when they aren't using totally fake actors instead).
• PA-06: Physician Manan Trivedi, who is attempting a third run for Congress, just earned the endorsement of the Chester County Democratic Party. Chester makes up about 42 percent of Pennsylvania's 6th and is home to a similar plurality of the district's registered Democrats. Trivedi faces businessman Mike Parrish, who has the backing of the DCCC and Nancy Pelosi, in the Democratic primary.
• TX-33, -36: Emily Cahn has a good roundup of the pre-primary fundraising reports filed by congressional candidates in Texas late last week. The most notable races are the Democratic primary in TX-33 and the open Republican primary in TX-36. In the former, freshman Rep. Marc Veasey is facing a challenge from attorney Tom Sanchez, who recently infused his campaign with $800,000 in personal money. In the latter, fundraising has been limited, though businessman Ben Streusand has been running TV ads (thanks to $275,000 in self-funding), and dentist Brian Babin also managed to crack six figures. Everyone else has raised much smaller sums.
• Special Elections: After a few weeks without any legislative specials, we're back with two more. Johnny Longtorso gets us up to speed:
Connecticut SD-10: This is an open Democratic seat consisting of parts of New Haven and West Haven. The candidates are Democratic state Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield and Republican Steven Mullins, who ran for Mayor of West Haven in 2011 and came in third with 16 percent of the vote.
Virginia HD-100: This is the seat vacated by now-state Sen. Lynwood Lewis, consisting of the Eastern Shore and a slice of Norfolk. The candidates here are Democrat Willie Randall, a former Northampton County supervisor, and Republican Rob Bloxom Jr., a businessman and son of a former state delegate. The district went 54-44 Obama in 2012, but last year was closer, giving Democrat Terry McAuliffe a 48-46 win in the governor's race while favoring Republican Mark Obenshain 51-49 in the attorney general's contest.
According to our preliminary numbers, Barack Obama carried Connecticut's 10th SD by a 90-10 margin, his second-best Senate district in the state.
• Polltopia: Our own Steve Singiser has launched a new resource that you'll definitely want to bookmark: the Daily Kos Elections 2014 polling database. On one sheet, you will find every single public horserace poll this cycle, from Labor Day onward. (There's also a separate tab for primary polls.) With our no-frills approach, it's the quickest and most convenient way to find polling data. So far, we have over 500 total matchups, and that number will only keep growing as we move forward. And if you ever spot a poll we're missing, please email us at dkepolls -at- gmail -dot- com.
• State Legislatures: Here's a cool page from Ballotpedia showing the average population represented by state legislators in each state. The largest districts belong to California senators, who each serve a whopping 931,000 people. The smallest are the New Hampshire House's, which cover a mere 3,291 residents apiece. As we've noted before, if the U.S. Congress operated on the same ratio, it would have 95,000 members. If it followed California's, on the other hand, it would have just 337.