Retiring Nevada Democratic Sen. Harry Reid
• NV-Sen: Despite spending the last few months saying he would run for re-election, Democratic Sen. Harry Reid announced on Friday that he would not be on the ballot in 2016. Nevada was already emerging as a major battleground for control of the Senate, and this move won't change that.
It's unclear if Reid's departure will help or hurt his party's chances at holding this seat. On the one hand, Reid has been quite unpopular for years, and the GOP was looking forward to portraying him as a creature of Washington who had lost touch with his home state. However, even Reid's enemies conceded that he was a very tough campaigner and that his seniority was an asset to the state. For better or for worse, the new Democratic nominee will have a very different profile than Reid.
Democrats have done well in the Silver State during the last two presidential elections, but neither party can take anything for granted in what is still a swing state. Reid quickly made it clear that he wants former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to succeed him. Masto has yet to say anything about her plans, but Reid says that she "wants to run."
Team Blue has a few potential contenders, though it's unlikely many of them would be willing to go toe-to-toe against a Reid-backed candidate like Masto. Rep. Dina Titus quickly announced that she would give "serious thought" toward running. Titus won a tough House race in 2008 and almost hung on during the 2010 GOP wave, so she can definitely make this competitive. Titus defied Reid in 2012 when she ran for the House again and forced the senator's favored candidate to drop out of the primary. However, this time she'd be risking a safe seat to enter a tough primary and general election, something she may not be keen to do.
Former Secretary of State Ross Miller is also worth watching, though he's had his eyes on the governorship for a while. Ross lost a 2014 race for attorney general, but his defeat was due more to poor Democratic turnout than anything he did wrong. Miller told The Hill that he caught by surprise by Reid's move and hasn't had time to think about the Senate. Miller didn't rule anything out, but he doesn't sound like he has a lot of fire in his belly. Reid's son former Clark County Commissioner and 2010 gubernatorial nominee Rory Reid has also been mentioned, though his double-digit statewide defeat doesn't inspire much confidence. One name we can rule out is 2012 nominee Shelley Berkley, who very quickly said no to a comeback bid.
Several Republicans were already scouting out this contest even before Reid's announcement. Head below the fold for more.
Las Vegas Councilor Bob Beers has been running for a while, though he hasn't generated much excitement from national Republicans. State Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson has been preparing for a campaign, though his moderate reputation could be a liability in a primary. Former Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki has been talking about a bid, though he's also interested in the governorship. Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison hasn't said anything about his plans, but he recently met with GOP power players American Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which does indicate that he's thinking about the Senate race.
Some other names to keep an eye on are state Sen. Greg Brower; Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske; Heidi Gansert, a former chief of staff to popular Gov. Brian Sandoval; state Controller Ron Knecht; and state Treasurer Dan Schwartz. Reps. Mark Amodei, Joe Heck, and Cresent Hardy ruled out bids against Reid, but they may be having second thoughts now. Heck in particular is a very tough campaigner, and national Republicans would love it if he changed his mind and ran. However, ace Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston tells us that Heck still doesn't have much interest in running, and thinks that Reid's departure would make it even more difficult for him to win.
State Attorney General Adam Laxalt quickly put out a statement saying his "complete focus" is on his current job, "not on the next election." Former Gov. Bob List, who is close to Laxalt, also told Ralston that the attorney general isn't interested. The GOP dream candidate is Sandoval, but he's thumbed his nose at the idea of serving in the Senate.
This is going to be a very exciting race in a highly competitive state, and it's going to take a while for things to sort themselves out on both sides. Republicans will be excited at the prospect of an open seat, while Democrats will be glad they're playing defense in a presidential year. This race could definitely go either way, and we'll be watching all the developments here at Daily Kos Elections.
• CA-Sen: Former Republican Rep. David Dreier has occasionally been mentioned as a potential Senate candidate, and his team has claimed that unnamed groups are trying to draft him. It seems like it was all for naught though. On Thursday, Dreier said that he doesn't plan to run, despite seeing some polls that showed him competitive. That's not a Shermanesque no, but it's not like national Republicans are going to make a major effort to convince Dreier to get in.
• IL-Sen: The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth will announce on Monday that she will challenge Republican Sen. Mark Kirk. Duckworth is a favorite of national Democrats, and she's been reportedly raising money in preparation for a statewide run against Kirk. Several other Democrats, including three of her House colleagues, are looking at this seat, and we'll see if Duckworth's decision will deter any of them.
• IN-Sen: For the first time, Republican Rep. Todd Rokita has confirmed that he's "weighing" a bid to succeed retiring Sen. Dan Coats. Rokita is a former secretary of state who first won his seat in 2010, and he'd reportedly been considering a run. He joins a long list of Republicans who are looking at the race, but so far, the only announced candidate is Eric Holcomb, Coats' chief of staff.
• MD-Sen: A new pair of articles on the two Democrats vying to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski showcase some of the difficulties both are facing in their bids for a promotion—difficulties they've generally created for themselves. In the National Journal, Alex Brown examines Rep. Donna Edwards' icy relationship with the Congressional Black Caucus, whose membership has not been eager to line up behind her. It's not entirely clear why Edwards is on bad terms with the CBC (Brown suggests "poor relationship-building or a refusal to 'wait her turn' " have hurt her), but Rep. Emanuel Cleaver spoke on the record to express his support for another black Maryland Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings, and added that he thinks a majority of the caucus would back him. (Cummings is still weighing a run.)
Meanwhile, Rep. Chris Van Hollen just whiffed on an easy opportunity to shore up his credentials with liberals. A few days ago, the House voted on a series of budget proposals, including one from the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Edwards supported the CPC budget, which won majority support from the Democratic caucus for the first time, but Van Hollen voted against it. Partly, that may have had to do with his role as ranking member of the Budget Committee, because Van Hollen was responsible for whipping support for the Democratic Party's main budget proposal.
But given that he incorporated a number of progressive priorities into his own budget, it's hard to see why he wouldn't have been comfortable backing both alternatives. However, members of the Progressive Caucus have declined to criticize Van Hollen, and it's not like one vote on an obscure piece of legislation will really affect the primary. By the same token, the Black Caucus has rarely flexed any muscle in marquee races like this, so Edwards may not have many regrets, either. These machinations may affect the so-called "invisible primary," but it's a lot harder to affect the actual primary.
• NH-Sen: Somewhat strangely, a human rights group called Human Rights First has sponsored a poll of New Hampshire's Senate race ... and even odder, they relied on a Republican pollster, Public Opinion Strategies, to conduct it for them. The numbers, though, at least make sense, with GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte at 46 and Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan (who is not a declared candidate) taking 44. As for why Human Rights First is involved here, it sounds like they're fans of Ayotte, since one of their message testing questions informed respondents that she's "a strong advocate for improving and strengthening the U.S. asylum and refugee system."
• PA-Sen: Ex-Rep. Joe Sestak is about to end his month of walking across Pennsylvania:
Admiral Joe Sestak will walk the final mile of his 422-mile trek across Pennsylvania on March 28 in Beaver County. He has been "walking in other Pennsylvanians' shoes" since he kicked off his campaign for the U.S. Senate on March 4.
David Jarman, who likes to hike, has been thinking about how brutal this journey must be for Sestak: He's walked 422 miles in 23 days, meaning he's averaging 18 miles a day, which is a total death march. Now granted, he's probably not carrying anything, and he's probably not dealing with too much elevation gain per day, but that still means that he's spending 6 or 8 hours a day simply engaged in the act of walking, i.e. not talking to humans.
More importantly, Sestak hasn't been dialing for dollars (unless he's talking constantly on his cellphone while he walks, though it's hard to imagine the reception is good in the middle of the state unless he's walking down the side of the Turnpike, in which case he wouldn't be able to hear anything over the truck noise). Yes, it's true that Lawton Chiles and Max Baucus walked bigger states than his, decades ago, but it just doesn't seem like a good use of his time in today's kind of campaign environment.
• CO-06, Sen: Republican Rep. Mike Coffman hasn't ruled out a Senate bid against Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet but judging by his comments at a birthday fundraiser, he sounds ready to seek another term instead. Coffman reminded his guests how evenly divided his suburban Denver seat is, and told them that he's not taking victory for granted despite his decisive win last year. Local Republican officials also talked about his re-election campaign, and no one appears to have mentioned the Senate race at all.
If Coffman stays where he is, that's good news for the NRCC, who would not have looked forward to defending an open 52-47 Obama seat. (Their counterparts at the NRSC will be less thrilled, though they have some other potential recruits.) Democrats will be looking to contest this seat regardless of what Coffman does, and the Colorado Statesman's Ernest Luning tells us that Centennial Councilor Rebecca McClellan is considering. At just over 100,000 people, Centennial is a pretty large city, so McClellan should start off with decent name recognition.
Back in November, we learned that former state Rep. Edward Casso had formed an exploratory committee, but he's been very quiet since then. But state Rep. Rhonda Fields joins 2014 nominee Andrew Romanoff in the no column, with her choosing to seek a state Senate seat instead. Whoever steps up will need to be ready to raise a truckload of money against Coffman, who won one of the most expensive House races of the cycle.
• IA-01: On Friday, Cedar Rapids City Councilwoman Monica Vernon just earned a big endorsement in her second quest for the Democratic nomination in Iowa's 1st Congressional District, as EMILY's List gave her their backing. That's a change from last cycle, when EMILY sat out the race. So far, the only other candidate in the primary is businessman Ravi Patel, but state Sen. Swati Dandekar (another 2014 also-ran), ad exec Gary Kroeger, and ex-Gov. Chet Culver are also considering bids for the right to challenge freshman GOP Rep. Rod Blum.
• IL-08: Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth hasn't committed to a Senate run against Republican Mark Kirk yet (though that may be about to change very soon), but local pols are already positioning themselves to replace her. Obama won this western Chicagoland seat, which includes Elgin and Schaumburg, by a 57-41 margin, so it should be secure for Team Blue absent a GOP wave.
Roll Call's Emily Cahn tells us that three Democrats are privately considering a campaign if Duckworth launches a Senate bid. Former state Deputy Treasurer Raja Krishnamoorthi badly lost when he ran against Duckworth in 2012, but he's a formidable fundraiser who could make things interest against a less intimidating opponent. State Sens. Tom Cullerton and Mike Noland are also both interested, and Cullerton's powerful family and union ties could give him a leg up in a primary.
• IL-18: Former Republican Rep. Bobby Schilling had been privately considering running to succeed scandal-tarred Rep. Aaron Schock in the upcoming special election, but he announced on Saturday that he will back state Sen. Darin LaHood instead. Schilling only represented about 16 percent of this seat during his two years in the House so it's not clear that his endorsement is worth that much, but every little bit helps.
Currently, LaHood only faces Some Dude Mark Zalcman in the GOP primary, but other Republicans are considering. The potential field includes state Rep. Dan Brady, homebuilder Ed Brady (no relation), community college trustee Kent Gray, and former state Rep. Jil Tracy. Democrats won't have an easy time winning this Romney 61-37 seat, but state Sen. John Sullivan is reportedly mulling a bid.
• MS-01: Filing closed on Friday for the special election to succeed the late Rep. Alan Nunnelee. A whooping 13 candidates will appear on the May 12 non-partisan jungle-primary ballot; in the all-but-certain event that no one takes a majority, the top-two vote-getters will advance to the June 2 runoff. Twelve of these candidates identify as Republicans with only Walter Zinn, a former advisor to two Jackson mayors, running as a Democrat (Libertarian Danny Bedwell did not make the ballot in the end). Below is a look at this outsized field:
• Boyce Adams (R): Businessman, 2011 Public Service Commission nominee, ally of Gov. Phil Bryant
• Sam Adcock (R): Airbus Helicopters executive, former aide to then-Sen. Trent Lott
• Nancy Collins (R): State senator
• Ed Holliday (R): Dentist, tea partier
• Starner Jones (R): Physician, tea partier
• Trent Kelly (R): Multi-county district attorney
• Chip Mills (R): Itawamba County prosecutor
• Greg Pirkle (R): Attorney
• Henry Ross (R): Attorney, former Eupora mayor, 2010 and 2012 candidate
• Daniel Sparks (R): Attorney
• Mike Tagert (R): Transportation commissioner, ally of former Gov. Haley Barbour
• Quentin Whitwell (R): Attorney, former Jackson city councilor
• Walter Zinn (D): Former Jackson mayoral aide, only non-Republican
Romney won this northern Mississippi seat 62-37
, so it is expected to remain in GOP hands. But it's far from clear which Republican will emerge from this crowded contest with the gold.
• TX-01: I guess I'll need to cancel my planned 2028 vacation to the Louie Gohmert Presidential Library.
• TX-27: Republican incumbent Blake Farenthold has drawn some bad headlines over the last few months, and with a former staffer currently suing him for sexual harassment, he's probably in for some more. TX-27 backed Romney by a strong 61-38 margin and normally it would be out of reach for Democrats under the best of circumstances, but the Texas Tribune's Abby Livingston reports that the DCCC thinks that Farenthold's problems will give them an opening.
Team Blue's bench isn't great here though, and one potential recruit has already said no. Corpus Christi Mayor Nelda Martinez told the Tribune that national Democrats tried to persuade her to go for it, but she has no interest in serving in Congress. Former state Rep. Solomon Ortiz Jr. may go for it though. He told the Tribune that he's considering, and has met with the DCCC about a possible campaign. However, Ortiz, the son of former Rep. Solomon Ortiz, also considered this seat last cycle and decided to stay put.
• Chicago Mayor: With the April 7 runoff on the horizon, it's no surprise that Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia and his allies are stepping up their offensive against Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has been dominating the airwaves. Garica's new spot once again features him speaking to the camera, where he talks about ending gun violence. The SEIU goes directly after the incumbent, arguing that Rahm's policies favor his wealthy contributors at the expense of everyone else.
• Las Vegas Mayor: The April 7 non-partisan primary between independent Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Republican Mayor Pro Tem Stavros Anthony is fast approaching, and Goodman just secured a very useful endorsement from the Culinary Union. It looked possible earlier this year that the group, which has a very respected get-out-the-vote operation, would back Anthony over their shared opposition to a new soccer stadium.
However, after Major League Soccer announced that they would not set up a team in Las Vegas in the near future, the stadium project died. While Anthony is still arguing that Goodman will try and resurrect the expensive proposal, he doesn't appear to have persuaded the Culinary Union. Goodman is trying to secure the majority she needs to avert a June runoff, and this should help her do it.
• Philadelphia Mayor: Ex-District Attorney Lynne Abraham may have the name recognition, but she doesn't have the money or the outside groups buying ads on her behalf, so her time atop the heap may not last. Ex-Councilor Jim Kenney has had several ads run for him by labor allies, and now state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams will be the beneficiary of $560,000 worth of ad spending by an outside group called American Cities.
The name "American Cities" doesn't give much of a clue what they're up to, but previous stories have revealed that this is three wealthy founders of the Susquehanna International Group who are big charter schools backers, and Williams is a natural ally for them, given his love of charter schools. This same group spent $5 million on Williams in his 2010 gubernatorial run, where he finished third in the Democratic primary.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir and Jeff Singer, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, and Taniel.