Anthony Hardy Williams is getting major help from Michelle Rhee-like businessmen
• Philadelphia Mayor: None of the candidates in the May 19 Democratic primary have been incredible fundraisers, but super PACs are rushing in to fill the void. As we've noted before, the wealthy founders of Susquehanna International Group have already committed $250,000 to their group "American Cities" in support of state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, who shares their views on Michelle Rhee-esque education reform.
And they're capable of spending a whole lot more. As Patrick Kerkstra reminds us in an excellent article at Philadelphia Magazine, this group spent $5 million on Williams' 2010 gubernatorial bid. Back then, Williams was a longshot who badly trailed in all public polls and only took a distant third-place in the primary (though he easily carried Philadelphia). Now that Williams can actually win, we might see even more money coming in to help him. Like-minded groups may also join in to help Williams, whose support for vouchers and charter school expansion is well known. By contrast, the rest of the primary field (former District Attorney Lynne Abraham; former Judge Nelson Diaz; former Councilor Jim Kenney; and former mayoral aide Doug Oliver) have all come out against more charter schools.
But as Kerkstra tells us, Williams has plenty of detractors who look ready to go after him. The American Federation of Teachers spent $480,000 in the 2013 Boston mayoral race to help Marty Walsh cross the finish line, and they very well might get involved here. The Electricians Union Local 98 is also a big spender in state politics, and they look likely to back Kenney.
Ken Trujillo is also a wildcard. The former city solicitor dropped out of the race last month, but he still plans to get involved. Trujillo is talking about spending a few million on an independent expenditure campaign and given how close he is to wealthy donors, he's probably not bluffing. He hasn't said who he'd back, but Kenney looks like a good bet. Kenney inherited much of Trujillo's campaign staff, and Trujillo reportedly played a big role behind the scenes helping the former councilor staff up. Even if Trujillo stays on the sidelines, it looks like we're going to be in for an expensive contest.
• CA-Sen: You'd have thought we'd run out of names of potential Democratic candidates by now, but former Army Secretary Louis Caldera, who also used to be a member of the state Assembly back in the 1990s, announced on Wednesday that he's looking at running.
It's not clear at the moment what Caldera's strengths would be, though like fellow potential candidates Rep. Loretta Sanchez and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, he's also from Southern California and is also Hispanic. And unfortunately for Caldera, he's probably best known as the White House aide who failed to publicly announce the utterly idiotic Air Force One fly-by of the Statue of Liberty back in 2009, a move that freaked the fuck out of a whole lot of New Yorkers and led to Caldera's firing.
Caldera also was not included in a new poll from Field Research that didn't test any head-to-heads but rather asked voters whether they were "inclined" to support any of 18 different candidates. At the top of the list is former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the GOP's not-gonna-run dream candidate, whom 49 percent say they're inclined to back and 39 say they're not inclined to do so. Right behind her is Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris (who is still the only declared candidate), with a 46-37 score, followed by 10 other Democrats (including Sanchez at 39-42 and Villaraigosa at 35-47). You have to get all the way down to the 13th slot to find another Republican, former state Sen. Phil Wyman (24-49).
It's hard to say what exactly these "inclination" numbers mean, since it's not a question that you ever really see asked. It's likely a measure both of partisans loyalty and name recognition, though, so relative rank is probably more important than the raw numbers. And once again the data shows that Villaraigosa, the non-candidate who has received the most attention to do, would have a tough time against Harris.
• IL-Sen: The most interesting thing in this new piece about the possibility of ex-Rep. Joe Walsh running against Sen. Mark Kirk in next year's GOP primary is not Walsh's offensive remarks about Kirk's health—you expect that sort of thing. Rather, it's that Club for Growth president David McIntosh said his organization isn't interested in trying to dump Kirk. Said McIntosh: "To my knowledge, nobody from Illinois has come to us" about a potential challenge.
Indeed, the Club has been a bit more pragmatic in recent years, preferring to concentrate on safely Republican districts and states and rarely meddling in primaries on vulnerable turf. And considering how long their list of apostates is, this newfound semi-sensibility leaves them with plenty of targets. But in fairness to Walsh, McIntosh made these comments a couple of weeks ago, before Walsh publicly announced his interest. Maybe Kirk will just prove too tempting for the likes of the Club for Growth.
• NV-Sen: In a piece for Politico Magazine that showcases his unique knowledge and deft humor, Jon Ralston dives deep into Nevada's 2016 Senate race to explain why Harry Reid—should he actually seek re-election—cannot under any circumstances be counted out. Ralston doesn't break any news here, but he pull a lot of strands together and places everything into very helpful context, and it's hard to disagree with his conclusions. As Ralston says, "[A]ll other things are never equal when it comes to Harry Reid."
• SD-Sen, AL, Gov: South Dakota U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, the son of ex-Sen. Tim Johnson, announced on Wednesday that he'd resign his post, effective next month, and would join a private law firm. What makes this move notable is that it would free up Johnson, a Democrat, to actively pursue political office, something he's prohibited from while serving as a U.S.A. Indeed, Johnson was courted (or at least talked about) as a potential Senate candidate last cycle, but his job forced him to be reticent and it was impossible to get a read on what his interests really were.
Not that they're much clearer now. Johnson wouldn't answer directly when asked if he might challenge either Sen. John Thune or Rep. Kristi Noem next year, and there's also the possibility he could sit the cycle out and run for governor in 2018—or just enjoy life in the private sector for the indefinite future. But with virtually no bench remaining in the state, Democrats would love to see Johnson run for something at some point.
• KY-Gov: Former Louisville Councilor Hal Heiner is out with his third ad ahead of the May 19 Republican primary. In this almost painfully generic spot, Heiner promises that as governor, he'll require "every department to justify every dollar each and every year." Ironically, Heiner's campaign does not give us any idea of how many dollars they're spending on this commercial.
• LA-Gov: Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne released his fundraising report on Friday, and it's not overwhelming. Dardenne raised $690,000 for all of 2014, and has $1.5 million on hand. Dardenne's allies may be able to help him make up some ground though. Now or Never PAC just set up a Louisiana branch to help the lieutenant governor, but it's hard to know how much they'll spend helping him.
By contrast, Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, who only got into the race in October, brought in $1.5 million and has $1.4 million on hand. But both trail fellow Republican Sen. David Vitter, the current frontrunner, who hauled in $4 million last year and has $3.5 million on hand; Vitter's allied super PAC also has $4 million available. State Rep. John Bel Edwards, the only Democrat currently running, says he's raised over $1 million.
• CA-44, 38, L.A. County Board of Supervisors: On Wednesday, Democratic Rep. Janice Hahn announced that she'll seek the District 4 seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 2016 rather than run for re-election to the House.
State Sen. Isadore Hall recently declared that he'd run to succeed Hahn if she left the House, and the congresswoman wasted little time endorsing him. All the action will be on the Democratic side in this safely blue constituency, and a few other local politicians are looking at CA-44. Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino seems to be the most serious about jumping in, and other potential candidates include Compton Mayor Aja Brown, South Gate Councilor Maria Davila, and South Gate City Clerk Carmen Avalos. But Hall is well connected and he already represents a big chunk of this district, and it's hard to see him as anything but the frontrunner.
Democratic Rep. Linda Sanchez was considering a bid for supervisor herself, but told Hahn that she'd defer to her. Hahn's decision means Sanchez will stay put, disappointing anyone who wanted to succeed her in CA-38. Hahn herself should be favored in her bid for the powerful Board of Supervisors post, but Republicans are likely to put up a real fight here.
• NY-15: Challenging a Democratic congressman from the right in the bluest district in the country (Mitt Romney took 3 percent in New York's 15th) doesn't seem like a winning move, but the New York Observer reports that former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion is indeed considering a run against Rep. Jose Serrano in next year's primary. Carrion is tight with developers, who form the backbone of a malign oligarchy in New York City politics, but he has a pretty checkered political past.
In 2012, Carrion quit the Democratic Party and sought the GOP nomination for mayor. That move failed utterly, but he forged ahead with a bid on the Independence Party line, racking up all of 8,675 votes—a massive 0.8 percent (but good enough for third place!).
And Carrion's already stuck his foot in his mouth. When asked about his interest, Carrion claimed he has "no intention of running for Congress at the moment" (so, a non-answer), but then claimed he wouldn't run because he couldn't afford to make only $174,000 a year, the salary of a sitting congressman. In the impoverished South Bronx, of all places, bullshit like that will not play well.
• NRCC: On Wednesday, the NRCC announced their top 19 Democratic House targets. We've listed them below, with the Obama-Romney numbers for each district in parentheses, and each member's 2014 performance in brackets:
• Ann Kirkpatrick, AZ-01 (48-50) [53-47]
• Kyrsten Sinema, AZ-09 (51-47) [55-42]
• John Garamendi, CA-03 (54-43), [53-47]
• Ami Bera, CA-07 (51-47) [50-50]
• Julia Brownley, CA-26 (54-44) [51-49]
• Pete Aguilar, CA-31 (57-41) [52-48]
• Raul Ruiz, CA-36 (51-48) [54-46]
• Scott Peters, CA-52 (52-46) [52-48]
• Elizabeth Esty, CT-05 (54-45) [53-46]
• Gwen Graham, FL-02 (47-52) [50-49]
• Patrick Murphy, FL-18 (48-52) [60-40]
• Cheri Bustos, IL-17 (58-41) [55-45]
• Colin Peterson, MN-07 (44-54) [54-46]
• Rick Nolan, MN-08 (52-46) [49-47]
• Brad Ashford, NE-02 (46-53) [49-46]
• Annie Kuster, NH-02 (54-45) [55-45]
• Ben Ray Lujan, NM-03 (58-39) [62-38]
• Steve Israel, NY-03 (51-48) [55-45]
• Sean Patrick Maloney, NY-18 (51-47) [50-48]
If this list looks a bit familiar, it should: The NRCC features all 14 members
that the DCCC included in its Frontline incumbent protection program.
Five of the names are new though. Colin Peterson was the most notable commission from the DCCC's list, but the NRCC seems ready to go after him again. The GOP talked about beating Elizabeth Esty last time, but both sides lost interest in this race in the weeks before the election. John Garamendi won a fairly close race in 2014, but his seat is much bluer in presidential years and beating him will be hard.
The final two Democrats are DCCC head Ben Ray Lujan and his predecessor Steve Israel. The NRCC is definitely just trolling Lujan by adding him to their target list: His seat is safely blue and Democratic incumbents haven't had any problem holding it even under the worst of circumstances. NY-03 is a little more interesting though. Israel has easily won since his initial 2000 race, but his affluent Long Island seat is quite competitive at the top of the ticket. The GOP never found a real candidate in 2012 or 2014 when Israel was otherwise engaged, and they may not be serious about actually beating him this time. Still, if Team Red could find a credible contender willing to go after Israel, things could get exciting.
• Chicago Mayor: The Feb. 24 primary is rapidly approaching, and it's still unclear if Mayor Rahm Emanuel will be able to take the majority he needs to win outright or be forced into an April runoff. A new APC Research poll for the Chicago Tribune indicates that Rahm is close to the magic number, but not quite there yet. The mayor takes 45 percent, with Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia at 20. Ald. Bob Fioretti and businessman Willie Wilson each take 7, with 18 percent undecided.
Over half the undecideds don't have an opinion of Rahm, so he may be able to grab enough of them to cross the finish line. While Garcia just went on the air, the mayor and his allies have continued to dramatically outspent the rest of the field, so persuadable voters will see a lot of pro-Rahm ads in the next few days. Another poll from Ogden & Fry has Rahm at 49 percent, but it doesn't allow respondents to say that they're undecided.
• San Antonio Mayor: Until recently, this contest looked like a duel between former state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and former state Rep. Mike Villarreal, with former Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson a longshot. But on Monday, interim Mayor Ivy Taylor (who like everyone else is a Democrat) announced that she'll run for a full two-year term in the May 9 non-partisan primary. Taylor was appointed to her post in July by the rest of the city council after then-Mayor Julián Castro resigned to join President Obama's cabinet. At the time, Taylor pledged not to run for mayor, which helped her prevail over other ambitious councilors.
As Josh Baugh of the San Antonio Express-News notes, Taylor enters the contest with some big disadvantages. First and foremost, she will need to play catch-up when it comes to fundraising. Taylor and Adkisson's geographic bases also overlap, which could keep either of them from advancing to the runoff. Taylor's record has also made her pretty polarizing. She voted against a non-discrimination ordinance and helped kill a planned streetcar, which can help her in the more conservative North Side of the city but hold her back elsewhere. Taylor's relationship with the police and fire unions has also been bumpy. The Feb. 27 filing deadline is quickly approaching, and we'll see if there are any other late arrivals.
• Special Elections: Johnny Longtorso recaps Tuesday night's Democrat-versus-Republican contests:
Florida HD-13: Democrat Reggie Fullwood will be returning to the Florida House; he defeated Republican Lawrence Jefferson by a 57-43 margin.
Texas HD-123: Democrat Diego Bernal won the runoff here, defeating Republican Nunzio Previtera by a 64-36 margin.
Matthew Isbell has also mapped the results
of the Florida election. Meanwhile, in Texas, there was another special election for state Senate that featured two Democratic state representatives squaring off against each other. Jose Menendez defeated Trey Martinez Fischer 59-41 in a big upset (Martinez led 44-25 after the first round), relying heavily on GOP support
to win. Martinez Fischer has already hinted
that he might challenge Menendez again next year.
• Demographics: Political science professor Tobin Grant has put together a fascinating graph that condenses a whole lot of demographic information about America's religious denominations into one place (a topic that doesn't get a lot of data-driven discussion, since the Census Bureau doesn't compile data on that). On one axis, the scatterplot graphs average age of adherents; on the other axis, it graphs education levels. On top of that, the size of the dot reflects the sheer number of adherents, so you can see how numerous they are, relative to each other.
Catholics, by virtue of their sheer numbers, seem to occupy the median point in terms of both age and education. Mainline Protestants tend to be better educated, but also the oldest of all. White evangelical Protestants tend to be less educated, though also older than average. The real growth areas, both in terms of where the young and the better-educated are clustered, are the ranks of the non-religious (though, interestingly, atheist/agnostic skews more educated and "nothing in particular" skews less educated), and the non-Christian religions. Together, though, they don't comprise a large portion of the population yet.
While this chart doesn't directly deal with political implications, the inferences are pretty clear; groups that are poised to grow are also usually associated with Democratic politics. (If you want to see how religion corresponds with regional politics, for instance, there are lots of maps showing that relationship.) Interestingly, the Hindu population, small as it is, really hits the sweet spot: it's both the youngest and best educated of all the religious traditions (narrowly beating out Orthodox Jews and Muslims on the youth axis, and beating Unitarians and Reform Jews on the education axis). Perhaps not coincidentally, Indian-Americans are one of the most strongly Democratic constituencies in the nation, breaking 93-4 for Barack Obama in 2008 according to one survey.
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.