Actual good news... for John McCain!
• AZ-Sen: Hard-line conservatives would love to give John McCain a real primary challenge, but they're at risk of being stuck with a sub-standard candidate for the second time in a row. FreedomWorks hopes that Rep. Matt Salmon gets in, but Salmon has done little to suggest that he's going for it, and political observers expect him to stay out. Salmon's office says that the congressman is "100 percent focused on his current job of serving his constituents, not on his plans to run for re-election or any other office," which, while not a no, doesn't hint that he's really interested in the Senate. Fellow Rep. David Schweikert has also admitted that he's extremely unlikely to challenge McCain.
State Sen. Kelli Ward is seriously contemplating a bid, but she's going to need to overcome skepticism from her would-be allies. FreedomWorks' CEO admits on-the-record that Ward's record makes him "a little nervous," since she holds only a 76 percent rating from the state branch of Americans for Prosperity. Her decision to hold a hearing on chemtrails, which conspiracy theorists allege poison the air, has him a bit wary as well.
McCain has not officially kicked off his re-election campaign but he looks very likely to run again, and there are also doubts about whether Ward has the ability to beat him. In 2010, tea party groups rallied behind former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, but he was no match for McCain's aggressive campaign, and the senator easily secured renomination. It's early, but McCain's intra-party detractors can be forgiven if they're experiencing a bit of deja vu right now.
• FL-Sen: State Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater has been meeting with national Republicans about his potential Senate bid, and it sounds like he's all-in. The Tampa Bay Times reports that Atwater is telling party activists and donors that he's running, though Atwater hasn't publicly confirmed anything. Incumbent Marco Rubio is set to announce his plans on April 13, and he's expected to say that that he'll forgo re-election to run for president. We should hear more from Atwater soon after, though he may need to get past a lot of other Sunshine State Republicans in the primary.
But Atwater at least won't need to worry about Joe Scarborough, who served in the House until 2001. The MSNBC talking head constantly flirts with a comeback bid, but he'll spare us the Hamlet act this cycle. However, Scarborough said that he might run in 2018, when Democrat Bill Nelson is up. I'm sure the NRSC will be as delighted by the prospect as they were in 2011, when they angrily denied that they had tried to recruit him to run against Nelson, while claiming Scarborough was interested in running in New York.
Rep. Patrick Murphy currently has the Democratic field to himself, and he's hoping to keep it that way. Murphy is hosting a fundraiser featuring two prominent state Democrats, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and 2010 gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink. Fellow Rep. Alan Grayson is mulling jumping in and he may not be intimidated, but Murphy's establishment support could give him a leg-up in a potential primary.
• OH-Sen: Plenty of Buckeye State Democrats thought that Cincinnati Councilor P.G. Sittenfeld would find a way to gracefully exit the primary after former Gov. Ted Strickland got in, but Sittenfeld is making it clear once-and-for-all that he's going nowhere anytime soon. Sittenfeld is putting together a credible team, which you don't do if you're just looking to save face. Whether Strickland likes it or not, he has a primary opponent.
• PA-Sen: Last week, we mildly questioned the wisdom of Democrat Joe Sestak's epic walk across Pennsylvania, not that it isn't good for some free local media, but because he set such a blistering pace that it would take him away from his real job at this point in the cycle, which is to dial for dollars. Well, the Washington Post takes a closer look at how Sestak was spending his punishing days last month.
It sounds like he did most of his walking efficiently during the early morning and late evening, when he wouldn't be calling anyone anyway, and it also sounds like he got in a lot of local media interviews during the day, so that's good. On the other hand, it doesn't sound like there was a lot of face-to-face voter contact involved, and also, given the description of his eating and sleeping habits during the walk (and walking along highways in the dark), it's something of a wonder that he's even still alive at this point.
• MO-Gov: Businessman John Brunner has been mulling a gubernatorial campaign for a long time, and he's now formed an exploratory committee. Brunner sought the GOP Senate nomination in 2012 but lost to Todd Akin 36-30, a fact that he's probably not going to want to highlight on his resume. During his last campaign, we also found out that Brunner has a habit of keeping his assets outside the U.S (presumably to avoid taxes), and he even admitted that he almost drove his family company into the ground. But Brunner is capable of spending plenty of his own money, and that could make a difference in what could be a crowded field.
• IA-01: Wealthy hotelier Ravi Patel is going to turn some heads with these numbers: Since joining the Democratic field on Feb. 16, Patel has raised a massive $525,000—and his campaign says that only $5,400 came from Patel himself. Patel, just 29, comes from a well-connected family, so some of his haul represents proverbial low-hanging fruit, but this is still quite a hefty sum for a first-time candidate. (Patel notes that it's double what anyone raised in any quarter for the primary last cycle.)
So far, the only other announced candidate is Cedar Rapids City Councilwoman Monica Vernon, and she hasn't released her first quarter report yet. But she still has a big built-in advantage in the form of the political base that got her elected to office in the first place, and she also has the support of EMILY's List. However, after this showing, she's going to have to take Patel quite seriously if she wants to earn the right to take on freshman GOP Rep. Rod Blum.
• MI-10: The Republican field to replace Candice Miller is far from set, but we have a primary poll from Inside Michigan Politics/Revsix/Change Media Group. They tested a three-way matchup first:
• State Sen. Jack Brandenburg: 27
• State Sen. Phil Pavlov: 15
• State Rep. Andrea LaFontaine: 15
They also polled a seven-way contest:
• State Sen. Jack Brandenburg: 17
• State Sen. Phil Pavlov: 15
• State Rep. Andrea LaFontaine: 12
• Former state Sen. Alan Sanborn: 7
• Former Rep. Pete Lund: 5
• State Rep. Todd Courser: 3
• Clinton Township Clerk Kim Meltzer: 2
Only Pavlov is officially running. However, Sanborn recently formed an exploratory committee
, Brandenburg has said that he's likely to jump in
, and Lund has expressed interest
. LaFontaine and Courser have been quiet so far, though there's more than enough time for them to join the race.
• Jacksonville Mayor: Days after Gov. Rick Scott threw his backing behind Republican challenger Lenny Curry, Democratic incumbent Alvin Brown is touting Sen. Bill Nelson's support. At the very least, Brown will want to divert some attention from Scott's move.
• Philadelphia Mayor: As we get closer to the May 19 Democratic primary, the ad pace is picking up. American Cities, the charter schools-backing outside group that supports state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, is now out with a second pro-Williams ad. Interestingly, though, it doesn't say anything about charter schools, instead talking about gun control and access to college. There's no word on the size of the buy, but American Cities has so far purchased $1 million in air-time.
• WATN: After his huge failure to hold Tom Harkin's Senate seat against noted pig castrator Joni Ernst last year, it was a safe bet that ex-Rep. Bruce Braley wasn't going to seek a political comeback any time soon. Braley confirmed that the other day with an announcement that he's moved to Denver to join a plaintiffs' law firm. (Braley had been a trial lawyer before serving in Congress.) However, that firm says they plan to open an Iowa office soon, so who knows?
• WATN: Are you a former 15-term congressman who only won your last primary with 30 percent of the vote before retiring to avoid certain defeat? It's ok: K-Street still has a place for you! The Washington Post checks in with Indiana Republican Dan Burton, who now heads the Azerbaijan America Alliance.
Burton has gotten a bit of criticism for publishing his pro-Azerbaijan/ anti-Armenia editorials in conservative publications without disclosing his position (who knows, maybe the Daily Caller's editors just assumed he had a really awesome trip to Baku). Burton's works include "Azerbaijan: A Quarter Century Since Restoring Independence, A Thriving U.S. Ally," and "Is Armenia America's Ally Or Iran's?," which the Post describes as "an out-and-out hit piece on Armenia."
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.