Tom "Cincinnatus" Steyer
• CA-Sen: Good news for California Democrats, but as Colin Campbell wryly notes, bad news for California consultants: Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, who had styled himself a reluctant savior of his party in the mold of the Roman dictator Cincinnatus, says that he won't run for Senate after all. Steyer could have spent unlimited money, but the one poll we've seen of the race showed him starting off at the very back of the pack, with low single-digit support.
Of course, Steyer could still run for governor in 2018 (and there would be much rejoicing among the consulting classes); in demurring a Senate bid, he hinted as much, saying: "I believe my work right now should not be in our nation's capitol but here at home in California."
Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who represents a safely blue suburban Los Angeles seat, has now chimed in to say that he'd "relish the chance to serve the entire state." So far, the only declared candidate in the race is Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is from the Bay Area, so if there's to be a geographic split, then there's still an opening for someone from Southern California. Perhaps that's what Schiff is thinking, though he still has to see what former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa does.
Villaraigosa is reportedly getting closer to running, and Latino leaders are excited about the prospect of electing the first Mexican-American in the Senate since Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar stepped down in 2009 to become secretary of the interior. Given his name recognition, Villaraigosa would probably squeeze out a smaller-time candidate like Schiff, and he'd set up a major battle with Harris.
• OH-Sen: Democrats now have a confirmed Senate candidate in Ohio: Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, who had already begun raising money for a bid, announced on Thursday that he'd run against GOP Sen. Rob Portman next year. Sittenfeld is just 30 years old and would be taking on a juggernaut, but if bigger names don't get in and he acquits himself well, he'd cement his rising star status.
And while Portman is a formidable candidate, let's not write this seat off in January of 2015. Ohio's a very swingy state and has gone blue twice in a row now, plus Democratic fortunes should get a boost thanks to presidential-year turnout (a phrase you'll hear us say often). The planets would have to align just so for someone like Sittenfeld to pull off an upset, but who knows? It's not impossible we'll see the moon show up in the Seventh House.
• LA-Gov, Sen, AG: On behalf of Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy, North Star Opinion Research takes a look at the October jungle primaries for governor and attorney general. Kennedy has been flirting with runs for both offices and if this poll is any indication, he should probably pick door number 2. In the gubernatorial race, Republican Sen. David Vitter takes first with 24 percent; state Rep. John Bel Edwards, the only notable Democrat currently in the race, takes second with 20. Kennedy is a bit further behind with 13, followed by Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne at 10. Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle is dead last at 2.
In the very likely event that no one takes a majority, the top-two contenders would advance to the November runoff. North Star asked respondents their second choice and found Dardenne and Kennedy each taking 22, followed by Vitter at 15. These results contrast with a December Southern Media and Opinion Research that gave Vitter a 36-26 lead over Edwards, with Dardenne at 19 and Angelle at 3: Kennedy was not tested.
The NorthStar results aren't hopeless for Kennedy, but they do indicate he'd have his work cut out for him if he wants to advance to the runoff. The attorney general race is another story though. Kennedy starts out with a 23-18 lead over Democratic Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy, who is reportedly considering a bid. Incumbent Republican Buddy Caldwell takes 17, with former Republican Rep. Jeff Landry at 10.
The group also takes a glance at the 2016 Senate race, though it's anyone's guess how that one will go. If Vitter wins the governorship he'll be able to appoint his successor; if Vitter doesn't become governor it's unclear if he'd run for the Senate again. In any case, NorthStar gives Democratic New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu a 39-18 lead against Kennedy in a hypothetical jungle primary. Republican Reps. Charles Boustany and John Fleming take 13 and 7 respectively. Landrieu and Boustany haven't expressed any public interest in this seat while Fleming very much has.
• IA-01, 03: How can we miss Chet Culver when he won't leave? The former Democratic governor lost re-election by a pretty brutal 53-43 in 2010, but he's been looking to get back in the game for a while. In the 2014 cycle he considered another gubernatorial run and a bid for the 3rd District, before deciding not to go for either post.
This cycle Culver sounds interested in running for the House, though he's not sure from which seat. Culver lives in the very swingy 3rd District, but he sounds more inclined to run for the Democratic-leaning 1st. Culver didn't offer a timeline for when he'll decide whether or where to run, saying that he's not in a hurry. However, Cedar Rapids Councilor Monica Vernon is already challenging Republican Rep. Rod Blum in the 1st, and a few other Democrats are thinking about joining her. Vernon just won the backing of the local teamsters union, which could give her a boost in the primary.
• Montgomery Mayor: This is unexpected. Republican Mayor Todd Strange looked pretty likely to retire and several potential candidates began contemplating a bid. Former Rep. Artur Davis, a Democrat-turned-Republican, moved back to Montgomery from Northern Virginia and set up an exploratory committee for what he probably thought would be an open seat. But on Thursday the incumbent announced that he would seek another term. However, Davis quickly made it clear that he would run anyway.
Strange easily won re-election in 2011, and he'll be hard to unseat in the Aug. 25 non-partisan race. Davis may also not be the best candidate to beat him. Davis is a Montgomery native but he didn't represent any of the city in the House; there's also the small issue that barely a year ago, Davis was thinking about running for Congress in Virginia. His party switch and subsequent denouncement of Barack Obama also may not play incredibly well among Democrats, who make up a considerable share of the electorate even in off-years. Former state Rep. Joe Hubbard, the 2014 Democratic nominee for attorney general, has also talked about running but we'll see what he does now that Strange is in.
• NY State Assembly: Wow! After decades of corrupt back-room rule, Democratic state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was arrested on Thursday for allegedly concealing a multi-million dollar kickback scheme. The meat of the federal complaint rests on charges that Silver encouraged real estate developers with business pending before the state to use the services of a law firm that then paid Silver some $4 million in referral fees over the years. Silver of course denies all wrongdoing, though he could face a sentence of up to—gulp!—100 years.
• Deaths: Wendell Ford was one of the most enduring figures in Kentucky politics, serving as Democratic senator from the years 1974 to 1998, and Kentucky's governor from 1971 to 1974, and staying active in behind-the-scenes state politics after his retirement, surviving an aneurysm and a grand jury investigation along the way. Ford died on Thursday at the age of 90. Ford was known for his support for Kentucky's tobacco and coal industries, as well as securing infrastructure money for Kentucky projects. Ford's death leaves Walter Huddleston, who lost to Mitch McConnell in 1984, as the last remaining living Democratic ex-senator from Kentucky.
• Site News: This is pretty awesome:
: LOL whut? Linda Lingle, former Republican governor of Hawaii and star of her own television network
, was just named the chief operating officer
for the state of Illinois by newly elected GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner. This is definitely one of the weirder things I've heard in a while. Do any governors have jobs for Eliot Spitzer and Rick Perry, too? Actually, don't answer that.
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.