Indiana Gov. Mike Pence
• IN-Gov: Republican incumbent Mike Pence hasn't exactly had the smoothest few days of his career, and his 2012 Democratic opponent sounds ready to pounce. Former state House Speaker John Gregg has been talking about seeking a rematch for a while, and his old campaign site now promises "[b]ig news is just around the corner!" And Gregg himself told the National Journal that the firestorm over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has made him more likely to run, saying, "I was considering it, and this has only heightened my consideration of it." Gregg also says that business people and moderate Republicans angry at Pence's decision to sign the bill have been encouraging him to oppose the governor next year.
A November poll gave Pence an intimidating 62-24 approval rating. But with Pence taking flack from all sides over the RFRA, it's no surprise that Democrats smell blood. Gregg lost the 2012 race by a surprisingly narrow 50-47 margin, and the governor hasn't exactly displayed sharp political instincts recently. Of course, it won't be easy to unseat a Republican incumbent in a conservative state (assuming Pence doesn't surprise us all and run for president instead of for re-election), and there will be plenty of time for Pence to put this whole matter behind him. But Gregg proved to be a tough candidate last time, and he'll have a better chance than almost any Hoosier Democrat of beating Pence this time around.
• CA-Sen: On Monday, Rep. Karen Bass threw her backing behind Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is still the only Democratic candidate here (boy, that's a sentence I've written a lot!). Bass served as state Assembly speaker a few years ago, so she might have more influence than your average third-term Golden State House member. It also doesn't hurt that Bass hails from Los Angeles, outside of Harris' Bay Area base.
Fellow Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra has been mulling jumping into the Senate race for a while, and he recently said that he'd decide in the "next few months," whatever that means. Becerra has been meeting with business and labor organizations in San Diego, which is a ways away from his downtown L.A. seat, so he seems to be serious about forging ahead.
On the GOP side, former state party head Duf Sundheim has announced that he's forming an exploratory committee. Sundheim does have a reputation as a good fundraiser, and he was in charge when Arnold Schwarzenegger unseated Gray Davis during the 2003 recall, so he actually has a real win to take (some) credit for. State Assemblyman Rocky Chavez is still the only official Republican candidate in this very blue state, though Tom Del Beccaro, another former party chair, has also formed an exploratory committee.
• FL-Sen: To the surprise of essentially no one, Republican Rep. Daniel Webster announced on Tuesday that he would not try and emulate his famous namesake by running for the Senate. It's also unlikely that Webster will serve as U.S. secretary of state or seek the 1852 Whig Party presidential nomination.
• IA-Sen: If Iowa Democrats were hoping that longtime Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley would just go away, they're going to be disappointed. On Monday, Grassley made it clear once and for all that he'll seek a seventh term next year, declaring, "I hold a public trust and from time to time, every six years, you have to renew that trust. If the people continue to have trust in me, I will serve a seventh term and if they don't, then obviously, I'll retire." Grassley is backing up his words with action, hosting a fundraiser to kick off his campaign.
Grassley declared back in 2013 that he'd run again, but Team Blue couldn't be blamed for hoping he'd change his mind. Grassley has never won his seat with anything less than 64 percent of the vote, and a recent Quinnipiac poll gave him a 67-21 approval rating. The state Democratic Party says they plan to run a strong candidate, but no heavy hitters have given any indication that they're interested. While Iowa is a swing state, it will be a major surprise if Grassley faces a serious opponent when all is said and done.
• KS-Sen: Tea partying radiologist Milton Wolf performed decently in the 2014 GOP primary against an incumbent, and he's talking about going after the Sunflower State's other Republican senator next year. However, Jerry Moran is out to prove that he's no Pat Roberts. On Monday, Moran released a month-old survey from Public Opinion Strategies that shows him leading Wolf 70-18.
Internal polls should always be taken with several grains of salt, but it's hard to argue that Moran isn't in a stronger position than Roberts was. For one thing, Moran has given every indication that unlike Roberts, he's actually taking the contest seriously. While Roberts was used to taking re-election for granted, Moran had to win a tough 2010 primary and helmed the NRSC during its successful 2014 cycle, so he actually has some recent campaign experience under his belt. Moran also has actually found time to visit Kansas, so he'll avoid Robert's La-Z-Boy problem. It's early, but if Wolf is hoping to make it to Congress next year, he may be targeting the wrong Moran.
• NV-Sen: Democratic Sen. Harry Reid announced his surprising retirement on Friday, and Gravis Marketing used the day to conduct a flash poll looking at hypothetical post-Reid matchups. Keeping in mind that one-day polls conducted immediately after a major event aren't the most reliable, and Gravis is far from our favorite pollster, here are their results. First we have Democratic Rep. Dina Titus tested against four potential Republican foes:
• Titus 46, Laxalt 44
• Titus 48, Roberson 41
• Titus 37, Sandoval 55
• Titus 54, Angle 31
Next up is former Democratic Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto:
• Masto 44, Laxalt 39
• Masto 47, Roberson 35
• Masto 37, Sandoval 53
• Masto 53, Angle 30
Titus has talked about running, while Masto has been silent so far. However, Reid very quickly made it clear that he wants Masto to succeed him, and it would be pretty surprising if she didn't jump in.
On the GOP side, Republicans haven't given up hope that Gov. Brian Sandoval will swoop in, but while he hasn't said no, he sounds incredibly uninterested. Newly elected state Attorney General Adam Laxalt also isn't particularly keen to run, but national Republicans will be less devastated. State Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson was reportedly prepping a campaign before Reid departed, though he may not have a clear field. Finally, while Democrats would love it if gaffe-prone 2010 GOP nominee Sharron Angle returned to the fray, it doesn't look incredibly likely.
• OH-Sen: Big Dog Alert! On Tuesday, former President Bill Clinton became the latest Democratic luminary to endorse former Gov. Ted Strickland, who is facing Cincinnati Councilor P.G. Sittenfeld for the right to take on Republican incumbent Rob Portman. Strickland has been close to the Clintons for a long time, so this move comes as no surprise.
• UT-Sen, Gov: Former Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson hasn't publicly said no to a 2016 statewide bid, but he's not looking at all likely to go for it. Matheson already took a job as a lobbyist, and he's now joining the board of controversial student loan company Sallie Mae. Matheson's no dummy, and he certainly knows that Republicans would pound him as a corrupt insider if he ever tried to run for office again, and it's probably a good sign that he's done with politics for the foreseeable future.
• IA-03: Democrats are expected to target Republican freshman and good meal connoisseur David Young in this central Iowa swing seat, but it's not clear who will be their standard bearer this time. Former state Sen. Staci Appel recently confirmed that she's looking at trying again: While she lost 53-42 last year, she probably did as well as anyone could have in such a craptastic climate. However, Pat Rynard of the Iowa Starting Line tells us that local Democrats have their eyes on a few other pols.
Back in early March, state Sen. Matt McCoy expressed interest in this seat. McCoy considered running here in 2014, but Rynard reminds us that this time, he wouldn't need to sacrifice his Senate seat. McCoy has good fundraising connections and has a solid base of support in Des Moines, especially among gay primary voters (McCoy used to be the only openly gay member of the legislature), and he could give Appel a real fight. However, McCoy was indicted back in 2007 for extortion: While he was found not guilty, the story would be an unwelcome distraction for him. There is also some reluctance from his party about nominating a Des Moines-based candidate like McCoy in a contest where Team Blue will need to win over more voters from the rest of the district.
Businessman Desmund Adams has formed an exploratory committee, and he's been touring the district. Adams raised a decent amount of money when he ran for the state Senate in 2012 in a red seat, though he'll need to bring in a whole lot more if he seeks IA-03. Rynard also tells us that Nathan Blake, an assistant state attorney general, is attracting some attention even though he has yet to express interest. Blake came off well during his unsuccessful 2014 primary race for state Senate, though like McCoy, he's also from Des Moines. Back in January, former Gov. Chet Culver talked about running in both IA-03 as well as the more Democratic 1st, though he's been quiet since then. Culver badly lost his 2010 re-election campaign and the DCCC would almost certainly prefer someone else in any case.
• IL-08: Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth announced on Monday that she would vacate this seat to challenge Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, and her potential successors wasted little time making their interest known. Former Deputy Treasurer Raja Krishnamoorthi skipped the exploratory phase all together and kicked off his bid for this seat on Tuesday. Krishnamoorthi badly lost the 2012 open-seat primary to Duckworth, but he raised a very good sum of money during the contest and didn't demonstrate any real flaws as a candidate. Against a less-formidable candidate, Krishnamoorthi may be able to turn things around this time.
But Krishnamoorthi is likely to face some credible primary opposition once again. State Sen. Mike Noland has formed an exploratory committee, while state Sen. Tom Cullerton confirmed that he's also seriously considering a run. There's also plenty of time for other Democratic candidates to come out of the woodwork in this western Chicagoland seat.
Obama won this district 57-41, and Democratic redistricters worked hard to make it unwinnable for Team Red. Still, if conditions are right, this type of district isn't completely out of reach for the GOP. 2014 nominee Larry Kaifesh is considering another bid, and he issued quite a self-righteous statement:
I will not force myself into the race. If the constituents want an honest leader, selfless servant and someone who is committed to improving the quality of life of the constituents, standing of the country and integrity of the Constitution, and they provide legitimate support, I will consider running.
You hear that, Elgin? If Kaifesh doesn't run, it's because you aren't worthy of him. Kaifesh lost to Duckworth 56-44 during last year's GOP wave and he wasn't a particularly prolific fundraiser
, so the NRCC would probably not be devastated if Kaifesh decides that he's the candidate that the 8th needs, but not the one it deserves.
• IL-18: State Sen. Darin LaHood's path to replace Aaron Schock in the upcoming special election is beginning to look easier and easier. On Tuesday, state Rep. Dan Brady and former state Rep. Jil Tracy each announced that they would not oppose LaHood in the GOP primary for this very red (but no longer Downton Abbey red) Downstate seat.
Homebuilder Ed Brady (no relation to Dan) is still considering the race, but he has a good reason to sit it out. Kurt Erickson of the Journal Gazette & Times-Courier informs us that Brady is on track to lead the National Association of Homebuilders, perhaps within the next eight months. Brady himself acknowledges that a risky congressional bid could cost him his opportunity. We've also noted in the past that Brady's company has run into legal trouble in the past, something LaHood would doubtlessly take advantage of. There are a few other candidates who might run, but besides Brady, none of them look particularly well-known or well-funded.
• MI-10: State Sen. Phil Pavlov still has the Republican field to himself in this open seat contest, but that looks likely to change very soon. On Monday, former state Sen. Alan Sanborn announced that he was forming an exploratory committee, and expects to make a final decision in the next two or three weeks. Shelby Township Treasurer Michael Flynn filed paperwork to run a few weeks ago, though he hasn't kicked off a campaign yet. There are a multitude of other Republicans looking at this Romney 55-44 district, which is situated on The Thumb.
• Chicago Mayor: The April 7 runoff is just around the corner, and despite some early turbulence, Mayor Rahm Emanuel looks set to cruise to an easy win over Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia. APC Research, polling on behalf of the Chicago Tribune, gives Rahm a hefty 58-30 edge, up from his already formidable 51-37 lead a few weeks ago.
The last several polls have all shown Rahm clearly ahead, and Garcia and his allies have not answered with better numbers. Garcia's finance chair David Schaffer told Chicago Magazine that Garica's polls "show there's no way that Rahm can win; that Chuy will win pretty handily." However, Schaffer claims that the pollster "would prefer not to be publicly identified." This isn't exactly convincing pushback: If Garica has good numbers, it's in his best interest to find a way to release them to persuade outside groups that he has a path to victory.
P.S.: The New York Times offers some great precinct maps comparing Rahm's 2011 performance with the 2015 primary results.
• Jacksonville Mayor: With Democratic incumbent Alvin Brown and former state Republican Party Chair Lenny Curry locked in a competitive runoff, both camps are trying to win over the 17 percent of voters who backed moderate Republican Councilor Bill Bishop in the non-partisan primary. However, they'll need to do it without Bishop's support. The councilor not only announced that he wouldn't back either candidate, he kicked off his 2019 mayoral bid! However, Curry did finally earn the endorsement of Gov. Rick Scott. Brown has played up his good relationship with Scott, so this isn't happy news for him.
• Philadelphia Mayor: Ex-Councilor Jim Kenney (who previously got the Fraternal Order of Police and Fire Fighters union endorsements) now has the backing of every municipal workers' union. On Tuesday, he also received the support of the AFSCME's District 33, which represents the city's blue-collar workers, and District 47, which represents the city's white-collar workers.
• VA State Senate: The Joe Morrissey train wreck continues. The Democrat made national headlines earlier this year when he resigned from his seat in the House of Delegates after pleading guilty to statutory rape, then won it back as an independent. Morrissey recently announced he would challenge state Sen. Rosalyn Dance in the Democratic primary, but was ejected from his seat in the state House after he moved out of the district. Now Morrissey is truly a man without a country: He failed to submit enough signatures to make the primary ballot. Morrissey is undeterred though, and says he'll fight to get on the Senate ballot.
• Demographics: The Washington Post has an interesting new map of the expected percentage of senior citizens in each state in the year 2040. The percentages are expected to increase significantly in every state, as life expectancies increase. Bear in mind this only takes us up through the Generation Xers turning 65 ... the percentages will go up even higher once the more numerous Millennials start passing 65.
One odd thing we learned from this map, though, is that the Census Bureau no longer does state-by-state population projections, at least not that far into the future, anymore. Instead, they provide links to each state's own projections, which may mean the results aren't that reliable if different states use different methodologies. For instance, New Hampshire shows by far a much larger increase than any other state and easily takes the #1 position in 2040, leaving us to wonder if they did something wrong. (Though another New England state, Rhode Island, is second, with the popular retirement destination of Florida only at third.) Utah, with its currently very young population, is near the bottom in terms of future senior citizens, exceeded only by Alaska.
• Elected Officials: How many elected officials are there in the United States? It's a surprisingly tough question to answer. While senators, governors, and House members (and occasionally presidents) earn the lions share of attention here at Daily Kos Elections, you also have well over 7,000 state legislators, mayors, county executives, councilmembers, education board members, mosquito control boards... the list goes on and on.
In a new post, David Nir takes a looks at the multitude of electeds, and arrives at a pretty stunning number. Over at the Washington Post, Philip Bump goes even further and visualizes all these electeds.
• Maps: Stephen Wolf offers up perhaps the most comprehensive interactive maps of the 2014 congressional elections ever created. Wolf has maps of each representative and senator's margin of victory, the swing from 2012, where Democrats over-performed and underperformed Obama, as well as an old-fashioned look at who holds districts won by the other party's presidential nominee.
House and Presidential Winner by District
Above is a House map color-coded based on which party holds each district. Dark blue seats were carried by Obama and have a Democratic representative, while dark red seats are Romney districts that sent a Republican to Washington. Light red seats voted for Obama but elected a Republican in 2014, while the (five) light blue seats bucked the national trend by voting for Romney but supporting Team Blue in 2014. You can find a whole lot more at Wolf's post.
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.