How popular is Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey? Depends on which poll you believe
• Senate: Both PPP and Quinnipiac published new data on several potentially competitive 2016 Senate races on Tuesday, but for the most part, all we have are job approval numbers for a bunch of Republican incumbents. Still, at this early stage, that can serve as fairly useful data:
Or maybe not. PPP, working for the SEIU and a pro-immigration group called the Alliance for Citizenship, finds the senators it tested with roughly even or slightly underwater scores; Quinnipiac sees their bunch in positive territory. It's hard to say who's right, though PPP, perhaps as an artifact of their robopoll methodology, often yields lower numbers than other outfits.
Quinnipiac did test one actual head-to-head, pitting Toomey against Democratic ex-Rep. Joe Sestak. Toomey comes out ahead 45-35, again putting them at odds with PPP, which had Toomey on top just 40-36 last month. It may just be too early to get a consistent read on this race, though limited prior polling (much of which is quite old) had tended to find margins more similar to PPP's.
• AZ-Sen: Sen. John McCain has been preparing for a primary challenge for a while, with Rep. Matt Salmon looking like his most formidable opponent. Salmon hasn't announced what he'll do, but another tea party spiced politician is making noises about running. State Sen. Kelli Ward confirmed on Monday that she's thinking about taking on McCain, but she gave no timeline for when she'd decide.
Ward also did not say what she'd do if Salmon also runs. If Ward and Salmon are both in the race, they could very well split the vote enough for McCain to win with just a plurality. Ward herself is best known for trying to nullify federal gun laws, so she won't need to work hard to appeal to conservative true believers.
• CA-Sen: The problem with a lot of these super-early California polls is that, aside from state Attorney General Kamala Harris, there isn't a single declared candidate, so no one really knows whom to test. But in a way, it doesn't really matter much, since Harris keeps coming out on top, whatever the configuration. The latest survey to show as much once again comes from PPP, which had previously polled for Harris herself but this time is working on behalf of the Los Angeles County Young Democrats.
In a five-way primary matchup, Harris takes 34, ex-Rep. David Dreier 19, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa 16, ex-Rep. Mary Bono 14, and Rep. Adam Schiff 4. Dreier and Bono are both Republicans and have not publicly talked about running, aside from a weird tweet from Bono, though these results do show what could happen if two halfway-credible GOPers ran—in other words, it wouldn't be impossible for two Democrats to wind up in the general.
That's still quite unlikely, though, and hasn't happened yet statewide in the two cycles California's used its execrable top-two primary system. (It did come close to happening for Republicans, though, in last year's race for controller.) If it did, though, Harris would lead Villaraigosa 45-23 with a third of voters undecided. In the likelier event of a D vs. R faceoff in November of 2016, Harris edges Dreier 47-42. That might seem close, but even Mitt Romney got 37 percent in California.
Interestingly, the Young Dems also had PPP test the 2018 governor's race, which will be an open-seat contest. Of course, that's a million years away, but if Villaraigosa was hoping that Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom would be the easier fellow Democrat to beat, well, he ain't. In a multi-car pileup that features just one Republican, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Faulconer leads the pack with 30 percent, while Newsom takes 22 and Villaraigosa 13, with current Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and state Treasurer John Chiang close behind at 11 and 10, respectively. (Tom Steyer of Team Cincinnatus lags at 4.) And in a two-way battle, Newsom pounds Villaraigosa 44-22.
It's not clear what the Young Dems' agenda is here. If this poll was designed to encourage Villaraigosa—their ostensible hometown guy—to enter the race, well, that idea's a fail. Conversely, if it's designed to boost Harris and keep Villaraigosa out, then why release the gubernatorial pile? You gotta give the man some reason to hope. It probably doesn't matter, though, since Villaraigosa is surely polling both contests extensively on his own. But whatever he decides, he should decide soon.
• NV-Sen: Democratic Sen. Harry Reid has said time and time again that he's running for re-election in 2016, but retirement rumors continue to dog him. On Tuesday, he sought to put those doubts to rest once and for all.
Politico reports that Reid gathered together his entire Senate staff and said he's running, and confirmed he's 100 percent committed to it. No wishy-washy statements like "I'm running right now," or "I'm not planning to retire," just a straight up, "I'm running." I'm not sure what else Reid can do to convince doubters short of buying himself a giant "Reid for Senate 2016" tattoo. Of course, Republicans are hoping they can force Reid into an involuntarily retirement: In our recent Great Mentioner piece, we took a look at who Team Red may field to face him.
• LA-Gov: It always seemed unlikely that former Republican Rep. Rodney Alexander would run for governor this year, even though he didn't rule out the idea when he resigned from the House in 2013. But now comes word that Alexander is taking a full-time lobbying job with The Picard Group in D.C., so we can cross his name off the potential candidate list once and for all. (Come to think of it, if Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk loses next year, I really hope he somehow winds up at The Picard Group too. Maybe Alexander can make it so?).
• MO-Gov: A third Republican is set to kick off his campaign for this open seat race. Former state Rep. Randy Asbury only said he'll announce his intentions on Thursday but considering that his campaign committee is already called "Asbury for Governor," there's no doubt what he'll say.
Don't expect to hear much from Asbury from here on out though. He only served one two-year term in the state House, retiring in 2012. Unless he has some wealthy friends, Asbury seems destined to become a minor footnote when the story of this race is written. (You can pre-order that story in fact: I Don't Know Who Will Win the Missouri Gubernatorial Race Yet, But It Won't Be Randy Asbury. Can I Have My Royalty Check Early?, by Jeff Singer). Asbury joins state Auditor Tom Schweich and former state House Speaker Catherine Hanaway in the primary, and other Republicans are considering jumping in.
• CA-44, L.A. County Supervisor: Democratic Rep. Janice Hahn hasn't made it clear if she'll run for the powerful Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, but several Southern California Democrats are already lining up to endorse her.
State Sen. Isadore Hall has arranged for Reps. Karen Bass, Ted Lieu, Norma Torres, and Juan Vargas, former Rep. Diane Watson, and Compton Mayor Aja Brown to back Hahn for supervisor; Rep. Linda Sanchez has also said that she'll support Hahn. Not all these people represent any of Supervisor District 4 (Vargas hails from San Diego in fact), but their support could help Hahn raise money for an expensive race and perhaps deter others from running against her.
Hall isn't helping Hahn purely out of altruism though. He has said in no uncertain terms that if Hahn runs for supervisor, he'll definitely run for her House seat. Brown has also been mentioned as a potential Hahn successor, though she's been a lot quieter about her plans than Hall has. Hall's move is his not-so-subtle way of convincing Hahn to depart for greener pastures and leave her House seat vacant for him to win.
• Anchorage Mayor: On Tuesday, former state Rep. Ethan Berkowitz became the first Democrat to join the April 7 non-partisan primary. Berkowitz is best known as the party's 2008 nominee against scandal-tarred longtime Rep. Don Young, and he came relatively close to winning. Berkowitz ran for governor two years later but things didn't go particularity well then.
Democrats don't have much of a bench in the Last Frontier, and winning this seat would give them a credible candidate for statewide office. The filing deadline is Friday, so we'll know who's in and who's out very soon.
• Montgomery Mayor: Until now, this contest has been a duel between Republican incumbent Todd Strange and former Rep. Artur Davis, a Democrat-turned-Republican. But on Monday, Democratic Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Harris kicked off his campaign for this seat.
Harris surprisingly beat a Republican incumbent in 2012 despite being outspent, so he does have some potential to surprise. Davis has been trying to appeal to black voters, and another African American candidate like Harris could give him problems; unlike Davis, Harris never abandoned the Democratic Party and campaigned against President Obama. If no one wins a majority on Aug. 25, this contest will go to a runoff.
• Phoenix Mayor: Democratic Mayor Greg Stanton looks favored to win a second term this year, but he's earned his share of detractors from both the left and the right. Stanton's stance on pension reform has angered plenty of unions, and AFSCME has been shopping around for a challenger. Former Mayor Phil Gordon says that AFSCME tried to persuade him to run for his old job, but he declined. Gordon is backing Stanton, and it's not clear who else labor is talking to.
On the right, Councilors Sal DiCiccio and Jim Waring have been trying to recruit former GoDaddy lawyer and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Christine Jones. Jones didn't rule anything out, saying she has "no current plans to run, but there seems to be a groundswell to get me to do it." Still, Jones did say that "[f]or me to consider doing it would be a huge uphill climb." Jones also has left the door open just a crack for a potential run against Sen. John McCain in the primary.
On Tuesday, Stanton's campaign released a PPP survey that showed the incumbent well positioned to win. The poll gives him a 50-23 favorable rating, and gives him solid leads in hypothetical head-to-head matchups. Stanton beats Jones 50-21, and DiCiccio 49-23; no potential Democratic foes were tested. Stanton's team is almost certainly trying to scare off any serious challengers ahead of the May 21 filing deadline, and we'll see if they're successful. The non-partisan primary is Aug. 25; if no one takes a majority, there will be a Nov. 3 runoff.
• Great Mentioner: Republicans will make Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid one of their top targets in the nation, but the NRSC is still shopping around for a candidate. There's no doubt that Gov. Brian Sandoval is the GOP's dream candidate, but he looks unlikely to run. The Republicans hope he'll change his mind, but they're looking at plenty of other names nonetheless. In our latest Daily Kos Great Mentioner piece, (recommended by ace Silver State political reporter Jon Ralston himself) we take a look at who could carry the red banner in next year's blockbuster race.
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.