: Pat Toomey
(R-inc): $2.1 million raised, $7.3 million cash-on-hand
• CA-16: Jim Costa (D-inc): $80,000 raised, $620,000 cash-on-hand
• AZ-Sen: If there was any speculation that Rep. Trent Franks would challenge John McCain in the GOP primary, we can put it to bed now. Franks told Politico that while he won't endorse McCain, "I certainly have no intention of running myself, and I don't know of anybody in the delegation that's running." A lifetime ago, fellow Rep. Matt Salmon looked like he actually could oppose McCain, but he recently reiterated that he's happy in the House: Still not an airtight no, but we can probably take his name out of consideration unless something changes.
State Sen. Kelli Ward recently formed an exploratory committee in preparation for a run and it looks like she may emerge as the far-right's anti-McCain candidate by default. But default may not be the two sweetest words in the English language for Ward, since big money anti-establishment groups aren't exactly rushing to embrace her, or even hold their nose and tolerate her. FreedomWorks CEO Adam Brandon reiterated that Ward's decision to humor conspiracy theorists by holding a hearing on chemtrails does not amuse him, predicting that "McCain's going to call her 'Chemtrail Kelli,' or something like that."
The Senate Conservatives Fund and Club for Growth haven't openly dissed her, but they've been quiet about whether they'll actually help her beat McCain if it comes down to it. But both groups made it clear that they're still looking for a candidate, though they haven't dropped any names. Ward (who also told Politico that she doesn't actually believe chemtrails are harmful) acknowledges that she needs to prove that she can raise real money if she's going to get outside help, while declaring that she'll make a final decision about whether to run in the next two months. It sounds like she's going to need to work very hard to win over skeptics who think that she doesn't have what it takes to beat McCain though.
• FL-Sen: There are a ton of Florida Republicans who might seek Marco Rubio's open Senate seat, but ex-state House Speaker Will Weatherford will sit this out. Politicians frequently cite their family as the reason they won't run for office, but in Weatherford's case it's true. The former speaker has several young children and his supporters knew that a statewide bid would be a hard sell. Weatherford is only 35 though, so we may not have seen the last of him.
• IN-Sen: Evidently, the answer was "no": Just a few days after saying she'd "pray about" whether to run for Indiana's open Senate seat next year, GOP Rep. Jackie Walorski has decided to seek re-election to the House. Plenty of other Republicans have this seat in their sights, though only one, former Dan Coats staffer Eric Holcomb, has actually entered the race.
• KY-Sen: It's hard to see Republican Sen. Rand Paul losing his seat next year in this conservative state. In fact, Paul is so confident that he's safe, he's running for president while also seeking re-election at the same time. Bluegrass State Democrats are hoping that they can surprise Paul while he's distracted, but no one has shown much interest yet. Still, Nick Storm of cn|2 puts on his Great Mentioner hat and takes a look at who Team Blue might field.
State Auditor Adam Edelen is the top choice for state Democrats (in a perfect world, popular outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear would run, but there doesn't seem to be any chance that happens). Edelen is well-connected and ambitious, and he'd probably have the best chance to put this seat in play. But if he does dive in, he probably won't make his move until January. Edelen is focused on his re-election this year, and he can't effectively run for two posts at the same time after criticizing Paul for doing that exact thing.
Storm also gives us some alternative candidates if Edelen says no. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer runs the commonwealth's largest city and is wealthy, and also hasn't ruled it out. But Louisville Democrats haven't had an easy time winning in the much more rural and conservative parts of Kentucky. Storm also mentions former Rep. Ben Chandler; Secretary of State and 2014 nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes; former state party chair Jennifer Moore; Beshear aide Colmon Elridge; outgoing Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen; Louisville Councilor David Tandy; and actress Ashley Judd. Luallen's inner circle says a Senate bid is unlikely though not impossible, but there's no word on how interested any of the other names are.
• LA-Sen: Shortly after her 2014 defeat, ex-Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu didn't quite close the door on a 2016 comeback, but she called it "highly, highly unlikely." On Monday, she definitively ruled it out, which comes as no surprise given her double-digit loss last year.
However, an old Landrieu rival may be ready to make his move. Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy, whom she beat in 2008, recently announced he would run for re-election rather than seek the governorship or attorney general's office. The Times-Picayune's Bruce Alpert reports that Pelican State Republicans think he's gearing up for a 2016 Senate bid: Kennedy hasn't said anything about his post 2015 plans, and deflected the question when asked.
Of course, it's anyone's guess how the 2016 Senate race will go. Incumbent Republican David Vitter is favored to win the governorship this year, and he'd be able to appoint a successor for the final year of his term. Rep. John Fleming has been publicly calling for Vitter to choose him, while House colleague Charles Boustany has been a lot quieter about his goals. If Vitter only appoints a caretaker senator, it would up the flood-gates to a host of Republicans who want the job. But even if Vitter's successor runs again, some of these Senate hopefuls might run for this seat anyway: Fleming said he'd run if Vitter wins the governorship no matter what, though he might be bluffing. And should Vitter lose this year, it opens up a number of other 2016 possibilities.
• NV-Sen: Right after Harry Reid announced his retirement in late March, Democratic Rep. Dina Titus quickly said that she was seriously considering a Senate bid. However, Reid and the DSCC wasted no time circling the wagons around former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. But on Tuesday, Titus reiterated that "I'm going to make a decision here real soon," on whether or not to seek a promotion.
Titus has taken on a Reid-backed candidate before and won. During the 2012 cycle, Titus ran against state Sen. Ruben Kihuen in a primary for an open House seat, and scared him out of the contest. But this time, the stakes are far larger and she'll need to contend with the national Democratic Party as well. Titus would also need to sacrifice her safe Las Vegas seat on what would be an incredibly tough Senate race. Maybe Titus will surprise us and run, but it looks far more likely that she'll stay put when all is said and done.
• KY-Gov: Matt Bevin recently rolled out a new spot ahead of the May 19 GOP primary (it's not bad, but not memorable) and we have a general sense about how much money he's putting behind it. Bevin's team says that this week's TV and radio budget totals to $200,000, which is still pretty small compared to the millions wealthy businessman and former Louisville Councilor Hal Heiner has dished out so far.
• CA-24: Democratic operative Laura Capps has looked like a likely candidate to succeed her mother, retiring Rep. Lois Capps, and she recently put out a statement saying, "I am doing due diligence and will have a decision to share soon." EMILY's List sounds ready to support her, praising her as a "progressive champion for Santa Barbara women and families." But despite her well-known family and her formidable connections and campaign skills, local Democrats tell the National Journal's Jack Fitzpatrick that they don't think she'll be the Democrat to beat.
Instead, they praise Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, who kicked off his campaign last week. They credit Carbajal for being visible throughout this coastal district even before he started running. The San Luis Obispo County party chair even says that Carbajal took the time to get his name out there, even though San Luis Obispo is outside his current constituency. Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider is also competing here, but she may have ruffled a few too many feathers. Schneider tried to block a freeway expansion, which she acknowledges upset people. Campaign finance reform advocate Bill Ostrander started competing before Capps retired, but he's very much a longshot here.
• IL-18: On Tuesday, a federal judge approved the proposed special election dates for the race to succeed disgraced Republican Aaron Schock. The primary will be held July 7, with the general on Sept. 10 (which for some reason is a Thursday). Right now, it doesn't look like there will be much drama though. State Sen. Darin LaHood currently only faces Some Dude candidates in the GOP primary, and shouldn't expect much trouble in the general election in this 61-37 Romney seat. The April 20 filing deadline will be here soon, so if anyone wants to give LaHood a run for his money, they'll need to decide quickly.
• MD-04: We were promised a crowded Democratic race in this safely blue seat, and we're getting one. Del. Dereck Davis, the powerful chair of the House Economic Matters Committee, jumped in on Wednesday. This district is located in the expensive Washington media market so anyone who wants to go on TV will need to raise a lot of cash, and it sounds like Davis is well-connected enough to haul in some dough. Four other contenders are in: former Lt. Gov. and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Anthony Brown; former Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn Ivey; Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk; and ex-Prince George's County Councilor Ingrid Turner. Del. Jay Walker is also mulling a bid, and there's plenty of time for more candidates to join in.
• MI-01: When GOP Rep. Dan Benishek reneged on his pledge to serve just three terms, we figured the story would barely register, but it seems like some of Benishek's fellow Republicans would very much like to force him to fulfill that promise—against his own will. In a surprising report from Roll Call's Simone Pathe, state Rep. Peter Pettalia says he's considering a bid of his own but cautions that he'd have to give the idea of a primary challenge "deep thought" since he considers himself a "loyal Republican."
The fact that he's entertaining such a bid at all, though, given his supposed loyalty, is quite unusual. Pathe also mentions state Sen. Jason Allen, who lost the 2010 primary to Benishek when the 1st District was open by just 15 votes; Allen's refused to comment about a possible challenge, which just adds to the strangeness. While Benishek has always faced tough races since his very first in 2010, he's never done anything particularly blatant to piss off his own party, and he hasn't been touched by scandal either.
But Democrats would certainly love a messy intra-party fight, since they're apt to target this seat again next year. Last year's nominee, retired Major Gen. Jerry Cannon, performed well given the terrible environment, losing by just 7 points, and he's considering a repeat engagement. State Rep. Scott Dianda is also looking at the race. Either man would enjoy some tasty cat fud.
• NY-11: The May 5 special election to fill disgraced ex-Rep. Mike Grimm's seat hasn't gotten much attention ever since Democrats finally settled on a candidate, and with good reason, seeing as Republicans are a near-lock to hold the seat. That's lucky for the GOP, since their nominee, Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan, sure whiffed hard in a debate with Democrat Vincent Gentile Tuesday night. Gentile asked Donovan three times to name the federal minimum wage—which Donovan has said he opposes raising—but Donovan dodged every single time. Afterwards, Donovan claimed he hadn't heard the question! For the record, this is what Gentile asked:
• "You're opposed to raising the minimum wage. Could you tell us what the federal minimum wage is?"
• "The question is, what is the federal minimum wage?"
• "What is it now?"
You can see why this question was so difficult to understand. Anyhow, while Donovan isn't likely to suffer for his cluelessness now, when he has to face an election with normal turnout next year (perhaps even one juiced by Hillary Clinton's presence on the ballot; after all, she's a hometown girl), he may yet pay a price.
• NY-24: On Wednesday, Rep. Republican John Katko announced that he had raised about $300,000 over the last three months with $226,000 on hand. It's not a bad sum at all, though it's not particularly intimidating compared to other vulnerable GOP freshmen like Martha McSally, Carlos Curbelo, Bruce Poliquin, or Will Hurd.
On paper, Katko should be one of the most endangered members of the GOP caucus. While he easily unseated incumbent Democrat Dan Maffei 60-40 last year, his Syracuse-area seat backed Obama 57-41, and it won't be easy for Katko to hold on with presidential turnout. But so far, no notable Democrats have expressed any public interest in challenging Katko. Local Democrats say they're looking for a candidate, but they haven't dropped any names yet. Maffei himself ruled out a comeback back in January, which won't leave the DCCC broken-heated.
One potential option is Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, who wouldn't need to give up her seat to run. It's unclear if Miner is actually interested though. Right after Election Day she said she wasn't considering taking on the newly-elected Katko, but she didn't rule it out. Since then, Miner has been silent about her 2016 plans, or lack there of. There are plenty of other local Democrats in the area who can run, and it's hard to believe the DCCC won't be talking to some of them, especially if they can't land Miner.
• Philadelphia Mayor: Forward Philadelphia has a new spot out ahead of the May 19 Democratic primary. The ad notes that several prominent African American politicians are backing former Councilor Jim Kenney (who is white), before praising his record on education.
Newsworks says that Forward Philadelphia is currently spending $70,000 a week on their commercials, which is a drop in the bucket compared to the $500,000 American Cities is dropping for rival candidate state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams. But Kenney may be getting some more air support soon: He just picked up the endorsement of Electricians Union Local 98, which Newsworks says is the state's "biggest-spending political committee."
• San Antonio Mayor: The May 9 non-partisan primary isn't too far away, but the television ads are only beginning now. Former state Rep. Mike Villarreal (who like all his major foes is a Democrat) is first on the air, with an English and Spanish spot each. His English ad features him broadly outlining his platform. (Strong education! Strong small businesses! Better and safer ways to get around town! Controversial stuff, I know.) But the ad features shots of Villarreal speaking in many different neighborhoods, which must have taken forever to film. The Spanish spot features his family saying nice things about him.
Villarreal's team did not reveal the size of the buy. As of the end of March, Villarreal had only $144,000 cash-on-hand, which, according to Texas Public Radio, would only buy about a week of TV time in the nation's seventh largest city. But his camp says he'll be on the air until May 9, and will loan his campaign an undisclosed amount of money.
Villarreal will soon have some company on the airwaves in any case. Former state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, who reported having twice as much money in the bank, said her ads are "done," and will go up "very soon." Interim Mayor Ivy Taylor and ex-Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson lag behind the two former state legislators in fundraising, but Taylor says she plans to run spots as well.
• VA State House: Democrats have a lot of work to do if they're to climb out of the 67-32 superminority they're in right now, but one promising seat unexpectedly just opened up. Del. David Ramadan narrowly won re-election in 2013, and the Northern Virginia Republican was facing a credible challenge from Democratic real estate broker Jack Tiwari, but on Wednesday he announced his retirement. Obama won this seat 56-42 but as Ramadan proved, it's winnable for the GOP in off years.
• VA State Senate: How can we miss Joe Morrissey when he won't go away? The former delegate recently learned that he did not submit enough signatures to make the Democratic primary ballot for state Senate, and he's now running as an independent. Again.
Obama won the Richmond-area 16th District 73-27 and Morrissey didn't represent any of it in the state House, so he's very unlikely to catch fire. Assuming he makes the ballot this time, the Democrat-turned independent-turned Democrat-turned independent Morrissey will face either incumbent Rosalyn Dance or her primary challenger Del. Joseph Preston. Morrissey made national news after he won back his old state House seat in a January special election while in prison for statutory rape, and evidently there are still more chapters to write in his long, strange career.
• Deaths: On Tuesday, former Utah Republican Gov. Norman Bangerter died at the age of 82. Bangerter's 56-44 win over once and future Rep. Wayne Owens in 1984 ended two decades of Democratic control of the governorship, and began the streak of GOP governors that continues today.
But Bangerter's win didn't immediately inaugurate a new era of conservative rule. Bangerter passed a tax increase to protect schools, something that almost cost him re-election in 1988. Bangerter narrowly beat former Salt Lake City Mayor Ted Wilson 40-38, with independent Merrill Cook (a future GOP congressman) taking 21 percent, and Team Blue hasn't come close to winning this seat back since then. The economy stabilized during Bangerter's second term, but he chose to retire rather than run again in 1992.
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.
Comments are closed on this story.