Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson may jump into the Senate race whether or not Marco Rubio runs for re-election
• FL-Sen: Outspoken Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson represents a safe Orlando-area district, but it seems he has bigger things in mind. Scott Powers of the Orlando Sentinel reports that Grayson is talking about running for U.S. Senate, where Republican incumbent Marco Rubio looks likely to give up his seat in order to seek the presidency.
Grayson says he's waiting to see how the Democratic field develops and is in no hurry to make up his mind. He doesn't sound particularly intimidated by any of his potential primary rivals... with one exception. Grayson told the Sentinel, "I think that we'd be able to put together a very interesting and effective campaign. I think it would be likely that I get the Democratic nomination, unless Debbie Wasserman Schultz decides to run, which is certainly possible — in fact, likely." Still, Grayson sounds interested in going for it, even if he needs to get through Rubio.
Wasserman Schultz, who represents a South Florida House seat and currently leads the DNC, has been mentioned as a potential candidate and didn't shut the door on running. She only said, "My only focus right now is serving the people of Florida's 23rd district in Congress and electing a Democrat as the 45th president of the United States in 2016."
Plenty of other Democrats are eying this seat, especially if Rubio bails. Head over the fold for more.
Rep. Patrick Murphy has publicly expressed interest in a promotion, and plenty of national Democrats would love to see him as their nominee. However, Murphy's reputation as a centralist could be a double edged-sword for him. It helped him easily hold his light red House seat during the 2014 GOP wave and it might be appealing to swing voters in a general election, but it could play poorly in a primary against someone like Grayson.
Grayson may have the opposite issue: He's beloved by many party activists but his very aggressive style could hurt him in the general. But one thing's for sure: Neither Grayson, Murphy, or Wasserman Schultz would have any problem raising cash. Some other potential Democratic candidates include Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn; Rep. Ted Deutch; Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer; state Sen. and 2010 attorney general nominee Dan Gelber; Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum; and Rep. Gwen Graham.
There is no shortage of Republicans who could run to succeed Rubio. Attorney General Pam Bondi is likely to run for the Senate or governorship soon, and her campaign consultant didn't rule out a Senate bid. Rubio himself named former state House Speaker Will Weatherford and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera as possible candidates.
Other possibilities include Rep. Vern Buchanan; state Sen. Anitere Flores; Rep. John Mica; Rep. Jeff Miller; and former Rep. Allen West. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam could also go for it, but the Sentinel says they're focusing on the 2018 gubernatorial race, when Gov. Rick Scott will be termed-out. Rubio's camp says he's only weeks away from deciding on a presidential bid, and a lot of dominoes will fall no matter what he does.
• CA-Sen: Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris has been unveiling endorsements from prominent African Americans in recent days, but Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson may be her most interesting supporter. Wesson is an ally of former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is considering taking on Harris. This is likely a not-so-subtle attempt to keep Villaraigosa out and avert a long and expensive race: Of all Harris' potential Democratic rivals, Villaraigosa would likely start out as the best known and perhaps the most dangerous. We'll see soon enough if the former mayor takes the hint.
• IL-Sen: Plenty of Illinois Democrats are not looking forward to the 2016 primary, where Reps. Cheri Bustos, Tammy Duckworth, Bill Foster, and Robin Kelly are all mulling runs against Republican Sen. Mark Kirk. However, we can at least take fellow Rep. Mike Quigley out of the running. The Chicago congressman never seemed very interested in the upper chamber and he recently dismissed whatever chatter there was, saying "I genuinely like my job." Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times tells us that Quigley is looking to move up in the House, so we probably won't hear much from him for any other higher offices.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan also probably won't be on the 2016 primary ballot. Madigan's political director told Sweet that Madigan is "unlikely" to run. That's not a no, but Madigan has always seemed much more excited about the governorship than in going to Washington. The DSCC did all they could to recruit her in 2010 but she still passed, and it would be a major shock if she took the leap now.
However, former Gov. Pat Quinn may be looking at a comeback. Sweet says that his camp has "not dismissed the idea that Quinn would mount a Senate bid." Quinn's own spokesperson says that the Senate is "not something that's on Gov. Quinn's radar right now," which again, isn't a no. Quinn spent most of his six-year tenure with poor approval ratings and he recently lost re-election by 4 points. Kirk would love it if Quinn ran, but national Democrats would be less delighted.
• OH-Sen: Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld recently announced that he will take on Republican Sen. Rob Portman, but better-known Democrats are still mulling their options. Former Gov. Ted Strickland still sounds interested in jumping in; a Strickland ally says he's looking at deciding in February or March.
Rep. Tim Ryan also told Roll Call that he's still thinking about it, and will make his choice "in the next month." Strickland and Ryan are pretty close so it's unlikely they'll run against one another. Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman and former Rep. Betty Sutton are also potential contenders, though they haven't said much publicly. Portman has a big warchest and is capable of hauling in much more, so anyone looking to unseat him will probably want to start raising money sooner rather than later.
• DE-Gov: Former Democratic Attorney General Beau Biden remains the frontrunner in the 2016 gubernatorial election, but there are real questions if he'll actually run. Biden said he was in last year, and he's been raising real money and staffing up for the campaign. However, Jonathan Starkey of the Wilmington News-Journal reminds us that Biden has had his share of health problems and he hasn't appeared much in public recently, nor has he spoken to the media in well over a year—pretty abnormal behavior for a gubernatorial candidate.
If Biden does run he probably won't face any real primary opposition. Still, several Democrats are looking at getting in if he ends up declining. Rep. John Carney ran for this post in 2008 and sounds interested in trying again, but he's made it clear that he's not going to challenge Biden. Some other possible candidates include Attorney General Matt Denn and New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon. On the GOP side state Sen. Colin Bonini is already running, and state Sen. Greg Lavelle is thinking about joining him.
• KY-Gov, SoS: So much for that. Secretary of State and 2014 Democratic Senate nominee Alison Grimes sounded open to running for governor or attorney general, but on Monday she announced she would seek re-election to her current post. Attorney General Jack Conway is currently the only credible Democrat running for governor and he won't need to wait long to find out if he'll have any primary opposition: The filing deadline is Tuesday.
• CA-13: If Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee does wind up becoming ambassador to Cuba, there's already one person who says he might be interested in replacing her—and the name will likely surprise you: Daily Kos founder and owner Markos Moulitsas. (Moulitsas is our boss; in case you ever wondered, the "Kos" in Daily Kos is Markos' old Army nickname and rhymes with "dose.") Moulitsas says that he hopes Lee "continues to represent me for years to come" but says that if she ever does move on, he'll evaluate "the opportunities before me" that will let him "promote progressive values and policies."
That's still a very big "if." A lot of things would have to happen for Lee to secure such a plum diplomatic post: First, the Obama administration would have to decide it's ready to appoint an ambassador (the timetable for that is unclear); then the president would have to actually name Lee, as opposed to any one of a number of other alternatives, and finally, perhaps most difficult of all, the ultra-liberal Lee would have get approved by a Republican Senate. So Lee, who is only 68—relatively young by congressional standards—could indeed end up remaining in Congress for quite some time.
• CA-17: Last year Ro Khanna came close to unseating Rep. and fellow Democrat Mike Honda, and it probably won't be too long before we see his name on another ballot. Still, it doesn't look like 2016 will be that year: Khanna recently took a high-ranking job at the Silicon Valley office of Smart Utility Systems, a software company. Khanna is staying active on local issues so he seems to have his eyes set on another run for office somewhere down the line. But if he plans to wait for Honda to retire this time he may be disappointed: The incumbent used his November victory speech to make it clear that he's not going anywhere anytime soon.
• KS-03, Sen: Tea partying physician and distant Obama cousin Milton Wolf came relatively close to unseating Republican Sen. Pat Roberts in their 2014 primary, and he's not ready to exit the stage just yet. State Rep. J. Basil Dannebohm recently spoke with Wolf and reports that while he's not interested in primarying Sen. Jerry Moran this cycle, Rep. Kevin Yoder is another story. Dannebohm said that he thinks Wolf is looking to target Yoder, who represents a suburban Kansas City seat, but admitted, "I can only speculate what he's up to."
Yoder's tenure has been pretty unmemorable, with one big exception. Back in 2012 the Republican congressman made news when he went skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee, an area many Christians consider holy. The filing deadline had already passed by the time the story broke and Yoder had little trouble winning re-election. While his Democratic foe used Yoder's adventure against him in a creative ad, it didn't cause him much trouble: Yoder faced no opposition for renomination and won the general 60-40.
Maybe Wolf hopes he'll have better luck with what will then be a four-year-old story, or maybe he can just harness some tea party anger against the incumbent. Yoder has occasionally talked the bipartisan talk and refused to sign Grover Norquist's no-tax pledge, so he could be vulnerable on his right flank. Of course Wolf has his own skeletons in his closest- or in this case, on his Facebook wall. Romney won this seat 54-44 and it won't be an easy Democratic pickup, but Wolf could make a general election interesting.
• NY-11: You can hardly blame him: Assemblyman Mike Cusick was the top choice of Democrats to take on Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan in the special election to replace Mike Grimm, but on Sunday evening, Cusick said no dice. A leaked Democratic internal poll showed Cusick badly trailing Donovan, 48 to 28, and without any sort of path to victory.
Now Democrats will have to scrounge up some sort of Plan B, but it almost doesn't matter—even the DCCC is already conceding the race. On Monday, a D-Trip spokesman admitted the obvious: "We've always said that this district is very challenging for Democrats in a special election, but it is going to be competitive in November of 2016." It's a rare show of candor from a party committee, but at this point, honesty is the only worthwhile policy.
• TX-19: Republican Rep. Randy Neugebauer hasn't faced any real primary or general election opposition ever since he easily defeated Democratic Rep. Charlie Stenholm in 2004, but he may be in for a serious intra-party fight this cycle.
Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson is considering challenging Neugebauer in the primary, though he says "my plan today is another term for mayor." Neugebauer is a reliable conservative, and he made news back in 2010 for calling then-Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak a "baby killer" on the House floor. Indeed it sounds like Robertson's beef with Neugebauer is over his failure to do more to help the local cotton industry. Robertson says he'll decide what to do "probably within the next 60 to 90 days."
Neugebauer only won the 2014 primary with only 64 percent of the vote against two Some Dudes, and he may be vulnerable against a real candidate like Robertson. However, KCBD points out that the mayor hasn't been free from controversy and his confrontational style has earned him some detractors. Romney carried this Panhandle seat 74-25, and whoever prevails in the primary won't have much trouble in the general.
• Jacksonville Mayor: It's been clear for a long time that Democratic Mayor Alvin Brown is not going to have an easy re-election campaign this year, and a new survey finds him in pretty lousy shape. St. Pete Polls takes a look at the March 24 non-partisan primary and finds Brown ahead of former state Republican Party chair Lenny Curry 38-31, with Republican Councilor Bill Bishop at 9. If no one takes a majority this race will go to a May 19 runoff, and St. Pete Polls took a look at how that may go: Curry leads Brown 45-42, not a great place for an incumbent to be.
We've raised plenty of concerns about St. Pete Polls' track record in the past. The group has a history of overestimating Republicans—sometimes quite badly. Still, there's good reason to think that Brown is in trouble. To begin with Jacksonville is quite conservative especially for a major city, and the spring electorate will almost certainly be disproportionally Republican.
And as community member Tyler Yeargain tells us, Brown himself has had quite a few stumbles as well. Essentially, Brown has alienated much of the city's Democratic base by initially refusing to support President Obama and never backing Charlie Crist in last year's gubernatorial race. While Brown needs to stay on the good side of enough conservatives to have a shot, it won't matter if his own party stays home for him. Curry also is well-funded and has been running ads since Thanksgiving; Brown just went up on the air. We have a while to go before the election and Brown may yet pull this off but he's going to need a lot to go right for him.
• Caucuses: We've found out the name of the new hip alternative caucus that was formed by Republicans who decided that the once-fringey, now-ubiquitous Republican Study Committee was too mainstream. In a complete branding shocker, it's called the "Freedom Caucus." That leaves us wondering, though, whether it's designed to supplant the similarly-named Liberty Caucus? This was the old Paulist caucus back in the 00s, which got rebooted in a slightly less weird form by Justin Amash in 2011. All but one—John Fleming—of the founding nine members of the Freedom Caucus is already a Liberty Caucus member.
While we're looking at GOP caucuses, what's up with the Tea Party Caucus? (Which, interestingly, doesn't have much overlap with the Freedom or Liberty Caucuses ... it's more of a grievance-based social-conservative group, as opposed to the more purely economic Club for Growth-type agenda of the Freedom/Liberty types.) With the Tea Party Caucus mostly moribund last cycle, and likely to get stay moribund with former ringleader Michele Bachmann out of the House, maybe these types will also drift over to pad out the currently-small Freedom Caucus.
Meanwhile, think back to the heady days of 2009, when there was a mirror-image situation. The Democrats had a large but unwieldy majority that was riven by internal conflicts. Those divisions probably were most clear with the attempted Stupak Amendment to the Affordable Care Act, which attempted to limit abortion funding. In an indication of how times have changed, only 12 of the 64 Dems who voted for the Stupak bill are still around today. That closely reflects the decline of the Blue Dog Coalition, who went from 80 member to just 14 today. With them gone, generally replaced by Republicans, the Dems are about as unified a caucus as we've seen in recent decades -- but also one that's deep in the minority.
P.S. Here's a complete list of the 12 Democrats who voted in favor of the Stupak Amendment.
• Demographics: The New York Times's Upshot has put out a fascinating collection of interactive graphs showing trends in household income over the decades, breaking the country down into lower (less than $35,000), middle ($35,000-$100,000) and upper (over $100,000) segments, all in inflation-adjusted dollars. As you might suspect, the period from 2000 to now shows a reversal of the trends from 1967 to 2000, which had been characterized by growth in the upper income segment while the lower and middle segments shrank. It's not as abrupt a drop as you might think, though, more of a flattening. By contrast, lower segment increased from 31 to 34 percent over the last 14 years.
Perhaps more interesting than the overall trends are the segments broken down according to race, education, and the like. Especially striking is the comparison of married vs. unmarried persons, with the strongest gains in the upper income segment coming among married persons. This still doesn't get at the issue of causation, though; it probably goes both ways because household-formation lets you pool money and time in a manner that makes it easier to navigate modern life, but, at the same time, it supports the idea that marriage is increasingly a 'luxury good' that's becoming less available to lower income brackets.
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.