Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp is looking at primarying Sen. Jerry Moran
• KS-Sen: Well, this would be funny at least. Rep. Tim Huelskamp isn't ruling out the possibility that he'll challenge Sen. Jerry Moran in the Republican primary, telling Roll Call, "We haven't decided what we're doing yet."
Huelskamp may be encouraged by tea partier Milton Wolf's performance in this year's primary against Sen. Pat Roberts, with Wolf falling only 7 points short despite being... well, creepy. Moran is the outgoing NRSC chair, while Huelskamp's attempted coup against Speaker John Boehner in 2013 has left him utterly hated by the House leadership. The congressman may be thinking that he can use this insider/ outsider dynamic to his advantage.
Of course, Huelskamp has his own flaws. To begin with, he's not exactly popular at home. Huelskamp only defeated his unheralded 2014 primary opponent Alan LaPolice 55-45, and he probably can't count on a huge base of support among primary voters in his rural 1st District. Part of Huelskamp's problem this year was that his goal to cut federal ethanol subsidies pissed off powerful groups like the Kansas Corn Growers Association, the Kansas Farm Bureau, and the Kansas Association of Ethanol Processors. In 2014 those organizations were content to just blast him in a joint-statement but if he runs against Moran, they'll almost certainly do a lot more to beat Huelskamp.
Of course, it's possible that the congressman has decided that he may actually have a better shot in a statewide contest against Moran than he might if someone much more serious than LaPolice runs against him for re-election. Huelskamp also may be wondering if he should take his chances with a Senate bid rather than spend his career in the House as a pariah. In any case, Daily Kos Elections' Arjun Jaikumar has the perfect slogan for Huelskamp: "Too many Morans in the Senate."
• LA-Sen: The House of the Rasmussen Sun checks in and finds Republican Bill Cassidy leading Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu 56-41. A trio of Republican pollsters also recently found Cassidy up by double digits.
We also have dueling spots here. Freedom Partners once again goes after Obamacare and throws in Jonathan Gruber to give the commercial some minty freshness. Landrieu in turn hits Cassidy on the minimum wage and the economy. Her spot continues her new, "Bill Cassidy is a weird idiot" ad campaign, taking clips from a Cassidy Google Hangout and accusing the Republican of trying to sound cool. For some reason the narrator misses the opportunity to remind viewers that Cassidy still uses Google+.
• WI-Sen: One of Republican Sen. Ron Johnson's selling points in 2010 was his ability to self-fund, with him dropping almost $9 million in his successful campaign against Russ Feingold. While Johnson still has plenty of money to burn, he's hinting that he won't deploy his own wealth in his 2016 re-election campaign. Johnson's own statement does leave himself plenty of wiggle room though:
"I made my $9 million investment in this country," Johnson said Wednesday. "I gave it once, I don't think I should do it again."
Sounds more like a rich guy grousing about having to spend his own money than an ironclad promise not to do so ever again. And as Florida Gov. Rick Scott demonstrated this year
, wealthy politicians in tight races often decide late in the game that they can readily part with some moolah.
• RGA: Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, who just easily won re-election earlier this month, was tapped by his peers to succeed Chris Christie as chair of the RGA. Politico calls him the "anti-Christie" because he's soft-spoken and Christie is a thuggish loudmouth who gets weepy over The Boss, but the two do share one uncomfortable thing in common: hovering legal troubles. The FBI has been investigating the truck stop chain Pilot Flying J, which is co-owned by Haslam's brother, Jimmy, for improperly withholding $56 million in promised rebates to customers.
The company has since paid a $92 million fine, but the federal investigation—as well as private lawsuits—are ongoing, and individual wrongdoers could still be prosecuted. (At least ten company employees have already pleaded guilty.) And while Jimmy Haslam's attorneys say the malfeasance didn't go all the way to the top, some private litigants claim that indeed it did.
If things get worse for the Haslams, there's no telling what the fallout might be. Bill Haslam worked for Pilot in the past, and indeed, he relied on his business experience to sell himself to voters during his first campaign for governor in 2010. But he's refused to discuss what kind of involvement he's had with the company lately, or how much money he draws from it. While it doesn't sound like the feds will close their jaws around the governor, if the brother of the head of the RGA gets indicted, that's not a story the GOP would like to see.
• IA-01: Republican Rod Blum, who narrowly won a blue-tilting House seat in Iowa this month thanks in part to Bruce Braley's disastrous top-of-the-ticket campaign for Senate, will unquestionably be a top Democratic target in 2016. And already we've got a very unexpected bit of oppo that Blum's opponent, Pat Murphy, unfortunately failed to dig up in time—though you can bet Blum will get asked about it next cycle.
It's an unusual story that starts with Columbus Bluejackets defenseman Jack Johnson, whose career earnings will exceed $23 million by the time this season is over. However, Johnson is now almost penniless and filed for bankruptcy in October—all thanks to his parents, who borrowed against their son's future paychecks through a series of high-interest loans, then defaulted. Strangely, one of those loans was made by none other than Rod Blum, for $2 million at an interest rate of 12 percent. Thanks to the Great Recession, interest rates have, of course, been at record lows for years, so Blum's terms bordered on usury. (Literally: The maximum interest rate permitted by law in Iowa is 12 percent.)
But Johnson's duplicitous mother and father were only too happy to screw over their son, and within a month of signing the loan, Blum sued Johnson, presumably for non-payment. The case was settled out of court, and Johnson wound up having $43,600 garnished from his salary each month. But what we don't know is how Blum even connected with the Johnsons in the first place, and why he, a software developer from DuBuque, was in the business of making loans like this.
Blum's lucky Murphy didn't hit him with this on the campaign trail, especially since he squeaked by with just a 51-49 margin. He's now refusing to comment, but he can't stonewall forever.
• NY-11, PA-08: The DCCC is has already begun its recruitment efforts for 2016, and it's leaning on some more very familiar names. Roll Call's Abby Livingston reports that Team Blue is trying to convince former Reps. Mike McMahon and Patrick Murphy to run for their old swing seats. As we've noted before, the DCCC has also been trying to get some of 2014's unseated incumbents and unsuccessful challengers to jump back in the ring.
McMahon has already been flirting with running for his old Staten Island seat and he may get his chance sooner rather than later. Republican Rep. Michael Grimm, who narrowly unseated McMahon back in 2010, is about to go on trial for tax evasion: Grimm has pledged to resign if he's found guilty, which would trigger a special election.
This is an electorate where geography is perhaps an even bigger factor than partisanship, and Democrats would love to have a Staten Islander like McMahon as their standard bearer. The problem is that McMahon played this "Will I or won't I" game when it came to running in 2010 and 2012 before deciding not to pull the trigger, and it's anyone's guess if he'll actually go for it this time.
Murphy (also known as Patrick Murphy 1.0 to distinguish him from his Florida namesake) was another victim of the 2010 Republican wave, losing his Bucks County seat to Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick is following through with his pledge to only serve three terms, and both parties are expected to focus on this district. We Great Mentioned Murphy (which sounds like the name of a terrible political band) a little while ago but this is the first time we've heard that the DCCC is courting him.
• NV State Assembly: If there's one place that's ripe to become the next Wisconsin, it's Nevada—the only state where Republicans took control of the so-called "trifecta" (the governorship and both houses of the legislature) in 2014. When that happened in the Badger State, the GOP ran roughshod and passed all manner of right-wing legislation, including laws that devastated union organizing rights. And it's a safe bet that Nevada Republicans would like to follow in the footsteps of their Midwestern brethren, particularly when you take stock of their batshit crazy assemblyman they've designated as the chamber's new speaker, Ira Hansen.
Huge credit is owed to Dennis Myers and the staff of the Reno News & Review, who pored over Hansen's decades of public remarks—an effort that included digging through every column he ever wrote for a paper called the Sparks Tribune, whose archives existed mostly on microfilm. That's the kind of non-digital sleuthing that too few reporters are willing to do these days, but boy did it pay off here. A sample of Hansen's most outrageous spewings:
"So what happened between 1960 and 2001?" he wrote four years later. "Major social changes that negatively affected the family. Childbearing was reduced to an average of two kids. … Divorce rates skyrocketed. 'Child care' became an industry. Child abuse skyrocketed. Thanks to the 'sexual revolution' and the 'women's liberation movement,' women chose to act as foolishly as men, and illegitimacy also went through the roof. … Abortions get about one out of every four children conceived."
"Today, when Army men look at women in the ranks with 'longing in their eyes' it very well may constitute 'sexual harassment.' The truth is, women do not belong in the Army or Navy or Marine Corps, except in certain limited fields."
Hansen has said he keeps a Confederate battle flag on the wall where he writes his columns. "I fly it proudly in honor and in memory of a great cause and my brave ancestors who fought for that cause," he wrote.
Hansen tends to use the term "Negro" and often does not capitalize it. In one column, he described Washoe Republican Sen. Maurice Washington (whom he supported) as black but in the same column called President Obama (whom he opposes) a "negro"—lower case.
In 1996 Hansen blamed Sparks High School tuberculosis cases on immigrants but cited no evidence of such linkage. "Sparks High is now an 'At Risk' school, a polite way of saying it has a very high minority population," he wrote. Actually, the at-risk term refers to a school with a high probability of dropouts and academic failures.
"Considering only about 2 percent of adult males are homosexuals, the numbers show why homosexuals have been historically regarded as such a threat. Male homosexuals are grossly disproportionate in child molestation cases, and the youth orientation of male homosexuality drives this trend."
And as you'd imagine, there's much, much more at the link
. As Myers says, Hansen's "viewpoint evolved very little" over time. "In fact," he adds, some of Hansen's Tribune
columns "ran unchanged time and again as the years passed." How much would you like to bet that he's no different today? That's what I thought—no bet.
• Incumbents: The other day we mentioned just how unusual it was that Alaska voters turned out incumbents of opposite parties—Sen. Mark Begich and Gov. Sean Parnell—at the same time. It's a very rare feat indeed: According to research from the University of Minnesota, it was only the fifth time such a thing had happened in the last 50 years, and the first since 1990, when Minnesota's Democratic governor, Rudy Perpich, and Republican senator, Rudy Boschwitz, both lost. A similar phenomenon took place in Nevada in 1982 and New Hampshire and Massachusetts in 1978, though in the latter state, Democratic Gov. Michael Dukakis (yeah, him) lost in a primary.
However, it's also rare for two incumbents of the same party to lose simultaneously, too. That's only happened half a dozen times in the last half-century, and several involved appointed incumbents or primary losses. Most recently, Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes and Sen. Max Cleland lost in 2002, marking the end of Democratic dominance in Georgia.
• WATN?: As scumbaggy lobbyist jobs go, this ranks among the scumbaggiest. GOP ex-Rep. Connie Mack IV, last seen getting his butt handed to him by Democrat Bill Nelson in the 2012 Florida Senate race, has signed on to lobby on behalf of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, one of the worst human beings on the planet alive today. If you haven't read the disturbing series of columns that Kim Lane Scheppele has guest-posted at Paul Krugman's blog about the terrifying, autocratic direction Orban has steered his country in, you should. Connie Mack evidently did not—but at $10,000 a month, why would he bother?
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir and Jeff Singer, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Taniel, and Dreaminonempty