Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter
• LA-Sen, Gov: While Republican Sen. David Vitter has looked like the clear favorite to win this year's gubernatorial contest for a long time, it's anyone's guess who he'd appoint to his Senate seat. Rep. John Fleming has publicly been jockeying for the job and even says he'll run for the seat next year if he doesn't get picked. And while Rep. Charles Boustany and state Treasurer and 2008 Senate nominee John Kennedy have said little about their 2016 aspirations, sources close to them tell the National Journal's Andrea Drusch that they each very much want the job.
Both Boustany and Kennedy are already laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 Senate run. In the last three months, Boustany raised $650,000, far more than an entrenched incumbent in a safely red House seat needs. Boustany has also endorsed Vitter and is campaigning for him in South Louisiana, an area rival GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Angelle needs to do well in.
Kennedy hasn't endorsed Vitter yet, though it's probably only a matter of time before he does. But Kennedy has hired GOP ad maker Fred Davis (creator of such hits as Debbie Spend It Now and Demon Sheep) to work on his 2015 re-election campaign. Kennedy doesn't have any notable foes on the horizon, but he can use his $3.5 million war chest (which can't be transferred to a federal race) to boost his name recognition. A longtime aide to Kennedy has also formed a super PAC that can spend in a congressional contest.
For his part, Fleming endorsed Vitter early, and while his recent fundraising hasn't been as hefty as Boustany's, he still holds a larger warchest. Drusch also tells us that the North Louisiana congressman is building up grassroots support for next year.
Vitter himself has given no hints about whom he's thinking of appointing, which is no surprise. Vitter can only benefit if his suitors enthusiastically stump for him with the hope of winning his approval. Vitter's allies say that the most important factor in his choice will be if the candidate can hold onto the seat, which suggests he's leaning against appointing a caretaker who would retire after a year. But it's quite possible that Vitter will pick someone outside this trio.
It's also far from clear if any of these candidates will run in 2016 regardless of whom Vitter chooses. Going up against the governor and the NRSC won't be easy, and Fleming and Boustany would be sacrificing their House seats. While Kennedy won't need to give up his post as treasurer, a second defeat for Senate could kill any hopes he has at moving up the ladder. There's also a chance that Vitter loses the gubernatorial race and destroys everyone's calculations. Like all of the would-be senators, we'll just need to watch and see how things unfold.
• NC-Sen, Gov: A new Elon University poll finds Republican Gov. Pat McCrory edging his likely Democratic opponent, state Attorney General Roy Cooper, by a narrow 45-43 margin—no surprise there, given all the earlier numbers we've seen. But on the Senate said, Elon puts Republican incumbent Richard Burr up just 44-43 on ex-Sen. Kay Hagan, which is way, way more optimistic than what PPP's seen (50-38 Burr earlier this month). There are no answers here, only questions.
• KY-Gov: Former Louisville Councilor Hal Heiner's newest spot stars his wife and daughter saying some generic nice things about how he's such a caring conservative. GOP primary rival Matt Bevin also has a new spot, but for some reason his camp yanked it from YouTube. Luckily, Kevin Wheatley of cn|2 gives us a synopsis about the Ad You Can Not See: Bevin touts his political independence, and hits Common Core. Intense stuff, I know.
• LA-Gov: Campaign finance reports were due Monday for the period covering Jan. 1 to April 17 and unsurprisingly, Republican Sen. David Vitter continues to dominate the money race. Vitter brought in $1.1 million since the beginning of the year, and he has $4.2 million in the bank. Vitter's allied super PAC The Fund for Louisiana's Future also raised $677,000, and holds $3.6 million cash-on-hand.
By contrast, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne raised $521,000 and has $1.9 million on hand. Dardenne's allies recently set up a PAC to help him called "Now or Never PAC," but it has not filed a fundraising report yet. Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, the third notable Republican in the contest, hauled in $642,000 and has $1.2 million on hand. Finally, state Rep. John Bel Edwards, who has the Democratic field to himself, raised $230,000 and has $894,000 on hand.
• MS-Gov: Sometimes, the biggest surprise is that a poll actually exists rather than what it says. Mason-Dixon takes a look at this year's gubernatorial match and finds Republican Gov. Phil Bryant is about as safe as we thought he was. Bryant leads lawyer Vickie Slater 61-30, and physician Valerie Short 63-28, and he posts a 72-20 approval rating.
• NH-Gov: Republican businessman Walt Havenstein, who fell 5 points short of unseating Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan last year, says he won't try again in 2016. (New Hampshire, you'll recall, elects governors to two-year terms.) Havenstein started off as a longshot but ultimately lost by a closer-than-expected 52-47 margin, though he was aided by the GOP wave. With presidential turnout ahead, Republicans will face a tougher electorate, but they may have a shot at an open seat if Hassan runs for Senate. Havenstein refused to comment on whether he was leaving the state for Texas, which is amusing, since questions about his residency dogged him in his gubernatorial campaign.
• NY-21: On Tuesday, the DCCC released a goofy little website targeting vulnerable House GOP freshmen, pairing them with pop songs from ostensible one-hit wonders (these guys are "one-term wonders," you see?). It's the kind of roster we'd just as soon skip over, but for one notable absence. The D-Trip has included every first-term Republican in a blue or swing seat, ranging from Will Hurd in TX-23 (50-48 Romney) to Bob Dold! in IL-10 (58-41 Obama), except for Elise Stefanik in Upstate New York's 21st Congressional District.
So what gives? Obama carried this seat by a 52-46 margin, and Democrats held it (admittedly thanks to a fair bit of luck) until 2014, ever since picking it up in a 2009 special election. Yes, Stefanik won by a fat 21-point margin, but she only took 55 percent: A Green Party candidate peeled away 11 points from the hapless Democrat. What's more, with Hillary Clinton extremely likely to be the party's presidential nominee, you have a very popular former senator from New York heading the top of the ticket—a perfect recipe for knocking off Stefanik.
It therefore makes no sense to be leaving her off preliminary target lists. Even if you think somehow that Stefanik is unbeatable, party committees are always engaged in boosterism, as well they should be. And in any event, Stefanik is not unbeatable. With Democrats in a 30-seat hole, NY-21 is on any reasonable path back to the majority. Here's hoping this was just an oversight.
• LA-LG, AG: Campaign finance reports were also due for Louisiana's other statewide contests, giving us an early look at where things stand in two of this year's major contests.
Democrats had some hopes that East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden could put the open lieutenant governor race on the map. However, Holden's fundraising is incredibly weak, with him only bringing in $15,000 since the beginning of the year, and holding just $32,000 cash-on-hand. It certainly doesn't help that in March, Holden was accused of sexual harassment.
On the GOP side, Jefferson Parish President John Young raised $348,000 and has a solid $2 million on hand. Former Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, who lost the 2011 race to fellow Republican Jay Dardenne 53-47, brought in $127,000 and has $1.1 million in the bank. The final GOP candidate, state Sen. Elbert Guillory (a former Democrat who is running his first race as a Republican), has yet to file his report. At the end of 2014, Guillory had less than $2,000 on hand so unless he's been raising money like there's no tomorrow, Guillory is going to be seriously outgunned in the Oct. 24 jungle primary.
Attorney General and noted Elvis impersonator Buddy Caldwell (a former Democrat who joined the GOP before winning a second term in 2011) got some good news earlier this month when he learned that state Treasurer John Kennedy won't be running against him, but he's far from out of danger. Jeff Landry, a tea party-friendly candidate who served one term in the House before becoming a redistricting casualty in 2012, has continued to lap Caldwell financially.
Since the beginning of the year, Landry has out-raised Caldwell $792,000 to $369,000 and holds a $1.3 million to $617,000 cash-on-hand edge. A third Republican, little-known attorney Martin Maley, only has $66,000 in the bank. No Democrats are running yet, though races tend to develop late in Louisiana and we have a while before the Sept. 10 filing deadline.
• Great Mentioner: It's been about a month since Republican Sen. Dan Coats announced his retirement, but the contest to succeed him has been slow to take shape. However, plenty of Republicans are still eyeing his seat, and a few Democrats are contemplating bids in conservative Indiana. We take a look at both parties' emerging fields in our new Daily Kos Great Mentioner piece.
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.