Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen is the first candidate to enter the Maryland Senate race
• MD-Sen: Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who'd steadily climbed the rungs of House leadership ever since he was first elected in 2002, has decided he prefers starting all over again: On Wednesday, he officially kicked off his campaign to succeed Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who is retiring next year.
Van Hollen, a prodigious fundraiser, already has $1.7 million in the bank and can hit the proverbial ground running. Indeed, his speedy entry might be aimed at dissuading other candidates from doing the same, much as Kamala Harris has managed to do in California. But Van Hollen doesn't have a statewide profile like Harris, and plenty of other strong contenders are still considering.
Fellow Maryland Democratic Reps. Donna Edwards and Elijah Cummings are both eyeing the Senate seat, but Van Hollen's departure from the House may encourage them to stay put. As the National Journal's Alex Brown points out, either member has a chance to take Van Hollen's spot on the ladder. We won't need to wait long to see what Edwards will do at least: Shortly before Van Hollen announced, Edwards said, "Give me a couple of days or so, and I'll figure it all out."
While we're at it, yet another name has surfaced that Maryland Democrats would probably rather not hear from again: Former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, whose 2002 campaign for governor set a modern record for disastrousness, says she's "thinking about" entering the race
. Could you imagine if we wound up with a primary field that consisted of KKT, Anthony Brown, and Doug Gansler? The universe might just implode. For a quick rundown of who else is thinking about running, check out dreaminonempty's visual guide above.
• P.S. Van Hollen's move will also set off a busy Democratic primary in his 8th Congressional District, which stretches from the DC suburbs all the way to the Pennsylvania border. At 62-36 Obama, this seat won't attract much interest from Republicans.
• OH-Sen: Despite vague reports that Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld would abandon his bid for the Democratic nomination for Senate after ex-Gov. Ted Strickland announced his own campaign, Sittenfeld hasn't budged an inch. He just sent out an email telling supporters he was "all in"—and he also earned a provisional spot on DKE's shit-list with some not-at-all subtle ageism directed at Strickland by whining about "the old way of politics." (Strickland is 73, Sittenfeld is 30.)
To be 100 percent clear, we've got no problem whatsoever with Sittenfeld running. While he'd probably do a much better job endearing himself to the establishment and setting himself up for the future if he challenged GOP Rep. Steve Chabot in Ohio's 1st District, he's as entitled to run for the Senate as anyone. The problem we have is when Democrats launch jerkfaced jabs at fellow Democrats; there's just no call for making insinuations about Strickland's age. (Ro Khanna tried the same thing in California last year, and it didn't work for him.)
If, as Sittenfeld said in his email, he does respect Strickland, then he'll keep this race clean and above-board. But if he persists down this path and turns things negative, then he'll jeopardize Democrats' chances of defeating GOP Sen. Rob Portman—and harm his own reputation in the process. Let's hope that doesn't happen.
• ME-02: On Tuesday, Emily Cain announced that she would seek a rematch with freshman Republican Bruce Poliquin. But a few other Democrats had already been talking about running here, and so far they aren't deferring to Cain. Her 2014 primary rival Troy Jackson reaffirmed on Tuesday that he's thinking about trying again. Jackson lost 71-29 last time around and he didn't bring in much money, though his new post at the DNC could help him with fundraising at least.
Bangor Councilor Joe Baldacci, the brother of former Rep. and Gov. John Baldacci, is also still interested. However, fellow Bangor Councilor Ben Sprague took his name out of contention on Tuesday. Team Blue is going to target this Obama 53-44 seat regardless of who emerges from the primary, but the DCCC has made it clear that Cain is their choice.
• MS-01: If you're a fan of crowded special elections, then you're in for a real treat on May 12. On Wednesday, attorney Greg Pirkle became the latest Republican candidate to jump in. Pirkle has never run for office, but he sounds like he has some useful connections: He's served as the thoroughfare committee chairman in Tupelo, and represented CarMax in a recent lawsuit.
Businessman and 2011 Public Service Commission nominee Boyce Adams also confirmed that he's in on Wednesday. While Adams' last campaign didn't end well, his wealth and ties to Gov. Phil Bryant will make him a formidable contender. Pirkle and Adams are joined by fellow Republican candidates state Sen. Nancy Collins; District Attorney Trent Kelly; former Jackson Councilor Quentin Whitwell; Itawamba County Prosecutor Chip Mills; and Some Dude Danny Bedwell. Additionally, Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert is very likely to enter the race.
• Chicago Mayor: Mayor Rahm Emanuel is out with his first runoff spot, and it strikes a different tone than you might expect. Rahm speaks directly to the camera and acknowledges, "I can rub people the wrong way, or talk when I should listen." Rahm then describes how he's fought for the city's future. In other words, Rahm wants the audience to know he's an asshole, but he's their asshole.
• Los Angeles Mayor: Turnout in L.A.'s local elections has been terrible for a long time, but that may be about to change soon. On Tuesday, voters overwhelmingly approved a measure to require city elections to coincide with federal and statewide races. Starting in 2022, mayoral candidates will run in a non-partisan primary in June; assuming no one takes a majority, the top-two contenders will face off in November. While the 2017 citywide election will still take place as planned, anyone elected then will serve for a special five-and-a-half-year term.
• Special Elections: Via Johnny Longtorso:
Kentucky SD-27: The Republicans picked up this seat; Steve West defeated Democrat Kelly Caudill by a 54-46 margin.
While Democrats continue to hold the Kentucky state House, the GOP has controlled the Senate since 1999. While Gov. Steve Beshear made a serious attempt to flip the chamber in 2009, the 2010 red wave cemented the GOP's control. After West is sworn in, the Republicans will hold a 27-11 majority.
• Wichita Mayor: Voters went to the polls on Tuesday for the non-partisan primary, and two Republicans will advance to the April 7 general. Councilor Jeff Longwell led businessman Sam Williams 28-25, with Democratic Councilor Lavonta Williams far back with 18 percent. Jennifer Winn, the hemp activist who challenged Gov. Sam Brownback in the GOP primary last year, took a distant 10 percent. The winner will succeed termed-out Democratic Mayor Carl Brewer.
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