Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski
• AK-Sen, AL: Last week, Roll Call reported that state Sen. Mike Dunleavy may be interested in challenging Sen. Lisa Murkowski or Rep. Don Young in the GOP primary. On Tuesday, Dunleavy spoke to the Alaska Dispatch News about his plans: He didn't mention Young at all, but acknowledged that he is looking at facing Murkowski.
Dunleavy conceded that Murkowski has "always treated me decently, and I think vice versa," but he criticized her record in the Senate on national security. Dunleavy also previewed a possible attack line when he accused the federal government of working to "basically strangle the development of the state of Alaska and make us a dependent."
Dunleavy said that he'd start thinking more seriously about a campaign when the legislative session ends, but that may take a little while: Gov. Bill Walker is likely to call another 30-day special session once the current one ends this week. If Dunleavy runs, he could definitely draw some blood from Murkowski. The incumbent has a reputation as a moderate Republican, and she actually lost her 2010 primary to little-known businessman Joe Miller in a complete shocker (Murkowski won the general election with a write-in campaign).
Murkowski is laying the groundwork early to prepare for another challenge, and her new position as chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee gives even skeptical Republicans a good reason to keep her in office. But if well-funded conservative groups decide to take aim at her, we could have a real race. Dunleavy also hails from the Mat-Su Valley, which is full of conservative primary voters. Dunleavy's chances will be a lot better if no other well-known Republicans get in, and he may be in luck. Roll Call previously reported that if Dunleavy opposes Murkowski, Miller is likely to take on Young.
Democrats know that they wouldn't have much of a shot at beating Murkowski but if it looks like she could lose her primary, it's possible that we'll see ex-Sen. Mark Begich try for a comeback. Even if Begich says no, Team Blue will probably try and recruit a respectable candidate if Murkowski looks like she's in trouble, though their bench is thin in the Last Frontier.
• CO-Sen: National Republicans have not been remotely subtle about their goal to recruit Rep. Mike Coffman to challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet. Coffman has won twice in a suburban Denver swing seat, and he's proven to be a very impressive fundraiser, though he's occasionally had his glitches. Coffman knows that he's the NRSC's top choice in the Centennial State and tells Roll Call that he'll probably decide "within the next month." Coffman didn't give any real hint as to which direction he's leaning, saying that he's "[s]till thinking. Never say never. But I haven't ruled it out."
If Coffman says no, the GOP has some other possible candidates, but none of them exactly set the world on fire. El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn has been running for a while, but he's attracted little attention from anyone. State Sen. Ellen Roberts has expressed interest, though her eclectic mix of social views could be a liability in a GOP primary. Coffman's wife state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman could conceivably run if the congressman says no, but she hasn't shown much inclination to leave the job she was just elected to. Rep. Scott Tipton initially expressed interest, but he sounds unlikely to give up his seat now. There are some other names to watch, but there's no doubt the NRSC badly wants Coffman to be their standard bearer.
• NV-Sen, 01: Well, maybe Democratic Rep. Dina Titus is serious about a Senate bid after all. Titus had previously expressed interest in running to succeed Harry Reid, but after Reid, the DSCC, and EMILY's List rallied behind ex-state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, it looked unlikely she'd give up her safe House seat for a risky Senate bid. But Titus is once again saying that she's looking at the Senate race, and promises that "a decision will be coming soon." Maybe Titus is just enjoying some extra time in the spotlight, but it does sound like she's really considering a "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" bid against the establishment-favored Masto.
If Titus goes ahead with it, it will open up her safely blue 1st District. There are no shortage of Democrats who could seek this Las Vegas seat, and a few of them may be already running for Congress. State Sen. Ruben Kihuen and ex-Assembywoman Lucy Flores are currently challenging GOP freshman Cresent Hardy in the 4th District, but they may be tempted to switch over to the 1st if Titus leaves (Kihuen ran for the 1st in 2012 but dropped out when he decided he couldn't beat Titus). Kihuen and Flores' legislative districts are mostly contained in the 1st, and if they won, they'd be insulated from even the worst GOP wave in this Obama 66-32 seat.
• PA-Sen: The Democratic primary to face Republican Sen. Pat Toomey has been locked in stasis for a while. National Democrats are dreading the idea of having Joe Sestak serve as their nominee again, and his weak first quarter haul didn't assuage any of their fears. However, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, the only other notable candidate, didn't impress anyone with his 2014 gubernatorial bid.
The DSCC has been reaching out to Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro but he's been non-committal. Meanwhile, potential candidates state Sen. Vincent Hughes, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, and ex-Rep. Chris Carney haven't said anything about their plans in months. Maybe a Shapiro decision can break the logjam, but it's anyone's guess when he'll make his 2016 plans clear.
Politico tells us that Democrats are looking for other potential candidates, and one of them may be Katie McGinty. McGinty ran for governor in 2014 and took only 8 percent of the vote, but she impressed eventual winner Tom Wolf. McGinty serves as Wolf's chief of staff and if she ran for Senate, she should be able to count on more institutional support than she enjoyed last year. Of course, that's a big if, and there's no word if McGinty is even interested.
• KY-Gov: Tea partying businessman Matt Bevin emerged from Tuesday's GOP primary with only an 83-vote lead over state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, and it's no surprise that Comer is requesting that the results be recanvassed. However, as Al Cross of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues reminds us, the recanvass is unlikely to change much even in a contest this tight. Most of the voting process is electronic, so there's less room for mistakes. We saw that in 2010 in the state's 6th District, where just one vote moved after the recanvass.
The recanvass is scheduled for the morning of May 28 and we'll see where things stand after that. However, while Comer has promised to get behind Bevin if things don't change, he hasn't ruled out seeking a recount if he gains votes on Thursday. A recount would take a lot longer to finish and Democratic nominee Jack Conway would love it if Comer dragged things out, but it doesn't sound like Comer's going to try unless he thinks he has a real path to victory after May 28.
• LA-Gov: On behalf of the conservative website The Hayride, GOP pollster MarblePort Polling gives us a glance at the Oct. 24 jungle primary. Like pretty much everyone else, they find Republican Sen. David Vitter and Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards looking good to secure the top-two spots and advance to the Nov. 21 general. They give Vitter and Edwards 38 and 27 percent respectively, with GOP Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne pretty far back with 15, and Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle bringing up the rear with 6.
These results are very similar to a recent Southern Media and Opinion Research poll, which also showed Edwards easily beating Dardenne for the second place spot. Given how Republican Louisiana has become in the last few cycles, it's hard to see Vitter losing a runoff to Edwards, though a Republican versus Republican contest between Vitter and Dardenne (or less likely, Vitter and Angelle) could be very interesting.
The gubernatorial field looks pretty set, but there's still one potential wildcard out there. Retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré has been considering the race, and he tells LaPolitics that he's still thinking about it. Honoré rose to prominence during Hurricane Katrina when he led the relief effort to New Orleans, and he shouldn't struggle for name recognition. In recent years, Honoré has decried the oil industry and opposed fracking, but his environmental positions haven't turned him into a Democrat: Honoré says if he runs, he'll likely do it as an independent.
It's possible that if Honoré gets in, he'll take enough Democratic voters away from Edwards to allow Dardenne to advance to a runoff with Vitter. However, MarblePort took a look at a hypothetical five-way jungle primary and found the opposite outcome. Vitter is still clearly in front with 34, while Edwards leads Dardenne by a wider 26-13. Honoré starts off making very little impact, taking only 7 to Angelle's 6.
MarblePort argues that Honoré does relatively well among the swing voters that Dardenne would need to pull into second. This is just one early poll and things could change, especially if Dardenne or his allies run some ads reminding Democratic voters that they have a lot in common with Honoré. But right now, a Vitter-Edwards runoff continues to look like the most likely scenario.
• FL-18: Former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino came close to unseating Maryland Democratic Rep. John Delaney last year, but he decided to move to Florida rather than seek a rematch. But Bongino isn't putting his political ambitions on hold, telling Sunshine State News that he's considering running for this light red open seat. Bongino does have a good fundraising network, so he could stand out if he gets into what should be a crowded GOP primary. Of course, his opponents aren't going to hesitate to portray him as a carpetbagger. But even if the blows land, Bongino could still slip through if this contest is packed enough.
• MD-08: Hotel executive Kathleen Matthews has been talking about running for this safely blue open seat for a while, and it looks like she's all but in. Matthews just resigned from her post at Marriott, and it's very unlikely her decision isn't a prerequisite to a House bid. Four notable Democrats are already seeking this suburban D.C. seat, and several more could join them before too long.
• Demographics: The Census Bureau has released its newest population estimates for the nation's major cities, many of which are still quickly growing. The biggest numeric gain was New York City, gaining 52,700 people between mid-2013 and mid-2014; San Jose, California, gets top billing in that it crossed the one million mark, bringing the total number of million-plus cities to 10. The biggest gainer, percentage-wise, though, was the fairly obscure San Marcos, Texas (up 7.9 percent over the year). Texas, in general, saw the biggest gains: Five of the 10 largest population gains were in the Lone Star State (Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, and Fort Worth), and six of the 13 biggest percentage-wise gains were also in Texas (in suburban/exurban places).
Jed Kolko, now writing for FiveThirtyEight, has a worthwhile critique of the whole enterprise, though; how populous a "city" is, has nothing to do with how "urban"-feeling it is, but rather is mostly about where the city limits arbitrarily got drawn. His maps of the Houston, New York City, and Los Angeles metropolitan areas, that show which portions are urban, suburban, or rural, illustrate this point. The "urban" portions of New York spill over the city limits into surrounding municipalities, while in Houston the "urban" portion stops well short of the city limits, leaving the city itself only 63 percent urban.
He does so using a neat method; his starting point for the urban/suburban divide -- which the Census Bureau doesn't make, as they only differentiate between urban and rural -- was to survey individuals and ask whether they considered themselves as living in an urban or suburban setting. From there, he was able to merge their responses with density data from the Census, to assign each ZIP code as urban, suburban, or rural.
• Site News: The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest will be taking Monday and Tuesday off for the extended Memorial Day weekend. We'll be back on Wednesday: In the meantime, have a great holiday!
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.