Possible Delaware gubernatorial candidate Beau Biden with his father Vice President Joe Biden
• DE-Gov: It's still anyone's guess if former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, the son of Vice President Joe Biden, will run for governor next year. Biden, a Democrat, took a job at the law firm Grant & Eisenhofer in January and is now expanding his work there, which is usually not something you do in preparation for a gubernatorial bid.
The firm's co-founder says that Biden's move "doesn't change anything for him politically. He will make an excellent governor," but Biden's camp has said little about his political aspirations in months. Biden himself kept a very low profile even before leaving office early this year, and he doesn't appear to be taking any steps to prepare for a campaign. There has also been speculation that Biden's health hasn't been good, and his silence isn't exactly putting these rumors to rest.
One potential Democratic gubernatorial candidate is sounding impatient. New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon won't run against Biden, but he's likely to take a look if he sits the contest out. Gordon says that he spoke with Biden last month and told him that he needed "to get out and let people know you're still running." Gordon says that he's also talked to the people who are expected to run the Biden campaign "and they say they're getting ready for him to run," but Gordon notes that Biden needs to make an announcement at some point. Rep. John Carney has also talked about seeking the governorship if Biden doesn't, something he probably wouldn't be discussing if he thought the ex-attorney general was all-in.
If Biden knows he's going to run, there's no reason he can't just say so now and clear up any confusion. It sounds like he's genuinely unsure what to do, but he doesn't want to look publicly indecisive or feed rumors about his health.
• FL-Sen: Well, maybe former state Attorney General Bill McCollum is serious about another Senate bid after all. The longtime GOP politician confirmed a few weeks ago that he was fielding calls urging him to run, but he didn't come across as especially excited. But on Thursday, McCollum said that he is interested and considering, and that he's "being told by other people in the party that there are concerns that the other potential candidates are not well known as we need to hold the seat." McCollum gave a loose timeline for when he'll decide, saying it will probably be "sometime this summer."
McCollum has managed to climb pretty high in Florida politics, but has always failed to reach the summit. McCollum represented an Orlando-area House seat for 20 years, but lost his first Senate bid to Democrat Bill Nelson in 2000 by a 51-46 margin. McCollum tried again four years later but was defeated in the primary by Mel Martinez 45-31. McCollum won the attorney general post in 2006 and spent much of the 2010 cycle as the presumptive GOP nominee for governor. However, the ultra-wealthy Rick Scott threw his hat into the ring only a few months before the primary and spent his way to a 46-43 victory.
McCollum seemed done with elected office after that, but he might have one last campaign in him. McCollum is 70, which is a bit old to start a Senate career, though that's not stopping Ted Strickland from running over in Ohio.
• IL-Sen: Some key chunks of the Democratic establishment have already lined up behind Rep. Tammy Duckworth's bid for Senate, but fellow Rep. Robin Kelly continues to explore a run of her own, and according to Roll Call, she just met with the DSCC to discuss the race. It's anyone's guess what they might have discussed, though. Do D.C. Democrats prefer that Kelly stay out, or are they content to stand aside? We don't know, but Kelly's definitely not the wait-your-turn type, seeing as she took on a pair of seemingly more powerful candidates in the 2013 special election to replace disgraced ex-Rep. Jesse Jackson—and won.
In addition to Kelly, state Sen. Napoleon Harris and Urban League CEO Andrea Zopp are also considering the contest, but Kelly would almost certainly represent the biggest threat to Duckworth's hopes. On the flipside, as Emily Cahn points out, Zopp and Harris could cause trouble for Kelly, since all three would draw from a similar base of support among black voters in Chicago. Believe it or not, though, there's not an incredible amount of time left: Illinois holds its primary in March of next year, so Kelly et al. have to decide soon.
• KY-Gov: State Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has another ad out ahead of the May 19 GOP primary. This new spot takes a not-so-subtle shot at wealthy ex-Louisville Councilor Hal Heiner, with Comer starting by bragging about how he's "not a lawyer, a multimillionaire or a typical politician." (Personally, I think that claiming you're not a "typical politician" is the most typical politician thing ever, but I digress.)
Comer continues, saying where he comes from, "faith and family come first," another contrast between Heiner's Louisville background and Comer's rural upbringing. The rest of the ad is Comer talking about his accomplishments in office. This ad isn't the most hard-hitting stuff, but the airwaves might get a bit nastier in the next few weeks. Heiner's campaign was recently connected to a blogger who has been accusing Comer of domestic violence without any evidence, and Comer sounds like he's ready to make the story an issue.
• CA-25: Freshman Republican and noted ass-dropper Steve Knight just picked up his first Democratic opponent, though he'll have a lot to prove. Lou Vince, a police officer and town councilor in Agua Dulce (population 3,300) announced on Thursday that he's in. Vince ran for Los Angeles County sheriff last year and placed last in a field of seven candidates, taking only 5 percent. Santa Clarita Water Board Member Maria Gutzeit is also thinking about running and she has been talking to the DCCC.
On paper this northern Los Angeles County district is winnable for Team Blue. Romney only carried it 50-48, and Knight is a terrible fundraiser. But this area is ancestrally Republican, and the Knight name is well-regarded here. Knight served in the legislature for several years and his father Pete Knight also was a longtime politician and famous test pilot. 2016 may be the year this seat finally goes blue, but it's going to take a lot of work.
• PA-08: Well, here's a bit of a surprise. GOP state Rep. Gene DiGirolamo sounded pretty interested in running for this open Bucks County swing seat at the beginning of the year, but he announced on Friday that he'll sit the contest out.
The GOP has a good bench here so they should be able to recruit a viable candidate, but it's not clear who will step up. Bucks County Commission Chair Robert Loughery and state Rep. Scott Petri have both been mentioned, and they'll probably receive more encouragement now that DiGirolamo is out. Some Republicans have expressed optimism that they can convince retiring Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick to reverse course, but Fitzpatrick has shown no interest in breaking his self-imposed term-limit. And even though former Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley recently took a high-profile position with the United Way, he still gets mentioned as a potential contender. On the Democratic side, we have a duel between 2014 candidate Shaughnessy Naughton and state Rep. Steve Santarsiero.
• NRCC: On Friday, the NRCC added eight more members to its Patriot program, which designates which incumbents it plans to expend resources to protect. While the first 12 Patriot members either represented blue seats or had close races in 2014, this new crop is a bit more safe. The names are below, with the Obama-Romney numbers for each district in parentheses, and each member's 2014 performance in brackets:
• Jeff Denham, CA-10 (51-47) [56-44]
• Steve Knight, CA-25 (48-50) [54-46, against another Republican]
• Rodney Davis, IL-13 (49-49) [59-41]
• Dan Benishek, MI-01 (45-54) [52-45]
• Tim Walberg, MI-07 (48-51) [53-41]
• Elise Stefanik, NY-21 (52-46) [55-34]
• Ryan Costello, PA-06 (48-51) [56-44]
• Barbara Comstock, VA-10 (49-50) [56-40]
Only Dan Benishek, who holds Romney's best seat here, beat a Democrat by only a single-digit margin. Most of these districts are swingy or just light red, but these members look like they'd be in good shape absent a Democratic wave. National Democrats have some candidates in mind for CA-25
, and VA-10
, and already have a credible contender in MI-07
. Things have been a lot more quiet in CA-10, IL-13, and NY-21, though we're still early in the cycle. It is also notable that the NRCC added Elise Stefanik, who represents a competitive Upstate New York seat, after the DCCC appeared to ignore her
on their initial target list.
But one of the most vulnerable members of the GOP caucus didn't make either list. Freshman Rod Blum sits in an eastern Iowa seat that Obama carried 56-43. While it's tough to see him winning re-election without another red wave, Iowans have proven that they're more than willing to split their tickets. But Blum didn't do much to ingratiate himself with the House leadership when he voted against John Boehner in this year's speakership race. While Republican presidential candidates seeking to win next year's Iowa caucus have showered Blum with attention, it hasn't translated into fundraising. Blum is wealthy enough to self-fund some of his campaign, but he probably can't win without national party support.
• Philadelphia Mayor: Here's a timely new ad from the campaign of state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, who's neck-and-neck with ex-Councilor Jim Kenney in the race for the Democratic nomination in Philadelphia's mayoral race. It prominently features Williams' young grandson, against a background message of "Zero tolerance for excessive force and police brutality." While his grandson is too young to make his own Dante de Blasio-style pitch to the camera, the message is still clear.
• San Antonio Mayor: Holy shit, there's a poll! On behalf of the San Antonio Police Officers Association, Anderson Williams Research takes a look at the May 9 non-partisan primary. They find ex-state Sen. and 2014 Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Leticia Van de Putte taking first with 29, with interim Mayor Ivy Taylor close behind at 24. Former state Rep. Mike Villarreal and ex-Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson are at 18 and 17 percent respectively. In the likely event that no one clears 50 percent, the two candidates with the most votes will advance to a runoff.
We haven't seen any other polls here, though the San Antonio Express-News's Gilbert Garcia alludes to other surveys that show Taylor and Van de Putte making the runoff. Taylor's performance is a bit surprising given how late she got into the race and some bumps during her brief tenure as the city's chief executive.
However, Garcia argues that Republican voters are boosting Taylor against her three fellow Democrats. Back in 2013, Taylor was a vocal opponent of the city's non-discrimination ordinance that was aimed at protecting gay residents. Taylor stirred up more controversy last month when she characterized the NDO a "waste of time." Taylor has backtracked a bit, and is now calling for the NDO ordinance to be expanded. Still, plenty of gay groups don't trust her, while social conservatives are much more sympathetic. It doesn't hurt that Taylor's campaign manager worked on Republican Will Hurd's successful congressional race last year and that she's allied with two conservative city councilors.
• UK General: Game of Thrones and this Thursday's elections in the United Kingdom are both impenetrably complex to the uninitiated, as tribal rivals form and break coalitions in the quest to control an isolated island with bad weather. Not only that, they both take place in locations with names like Casterly Rock and the Vale of Glamorgan. So which is it, a parliamentary constituency or a GoT location? Take our quiz and find out!
And if the UK election has piqued your interest, one other time-suck you might check out is the interactive map of the demographics of every parliamentary constituency, courtesy of the Office for National Statistics and their data from the 2011 UK census. While there are lots of places online where you can see predicted votes in each constituency, if you're interested in the "why" behind the votes (i.e. how race, income, age and employment correlate with party support), here's the next step.
• WATN: On Friday, former Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Marty Meehan, who has served as chancellor of UMass-Lowell since 2007, was chosen to head the entire UMass system. Aside from briefly flirting with a Senate bid in 2009, Meehan has shown no real interest in returning to elected office, and his new post probably takes him out of politics once and for all.
If Meehan is completely done running, there's no reason for him to continue to hold onto his $4.4 million war chest. Meehan's non-partisan job may prevent him from giving the money to the DCCC or to another candidate, but there's no reason for him not to refund his donors or donate it to charity. Of course, Meehan has had about 8 years to dispose of his funds, and he proved back in 2006 that he didn't care if the money went to waste, so we shouldn't get our hopes up.
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.