Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet got some good news on Monday
• CO-Sen, 06: If you heard some loud crying Monday afternoon, it may have been NRSC chief Roger Wicker reacting to the news that Rep. Mike Coffman will not be challenging Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet next year. Coffman has been far and away the GOP's top choice for this race, but he never sounded incredibly interested in leaving the House. Maybe the GOP hopes that Coffman will do what now-Sen. Cory Gardner did last cycle and change his mind, but we shouldn't hold our breath.
Team Red has some backup options, but none of them appear to be incredibly compelling. El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn has been running for months, but almost no one has noticed. State Sen. Ellen Roberts has talked about going for it, and Coffman's absence should give her more incentive. But Roberts' social views leave her vulnerable to attacks on both sides: She voted for a 2013 bill that legalized civil unions and she identifies as pro-choice, but she backed a fetal homicide law and supported a proposal that would have let parents opt their children out of vaccinations.
After Roberts, the GOP's potential candidates look either unavailable or undesired. Coffman's wife state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman may get some calls, but she sounded even less likely to run than Mike. Cynthia only took office in January, so it also probably wouldn't look great if she turned around and sought another office. Rep. Scott Tipton hasn't quite said no to a Senate race, but his office threw some cold water on the idea last month. Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler would be an interesting candidate but he's busy prosecuting the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooter, and he sounds more interested in a gubernatorial bid in 2018. Treasurer Walker Stapleton has occasionally been mentioned but he sounded lukewarm at best about a campaign in January.
The NRSC may try changing some minds, because the pickings get very slim after that. Rep. Ken Buck lost to Bennet in 2010 despite the GOP wave, and he's probably going to be reluctant to give up his newly-won House seat anyway. State Sen. Owen Hill, former Cranston (Rhode Island) Mayor Steve Laffey, and state Rep. Amy Stephens ran forgettable 2014 campaigns, and businessman Robert Blaha spent heavily in 2012 only to badly lose his primary against Rep. Doug Lamborn. There's little doubt that the GOP will target Bennet next year in one of their few pickup opportunities and maybe we'll see some new names come into play. Still, Bennet has proven himself to be a tough campaigner, and he won't be easy to unseat with presidential turnout.
While Coffman's decision may upset the NRSC, their counterparts in the NRCC won't be so devastated. Coffman represents suburban Denver's 6th District, which Obama carried 52-47, and he demonstrated in 2012 and 2014 that he's very capable of holding onto it. The DCCC has been reaching out to state Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll, and Centennial Councilor Rebecca McClellan is also a potential candidate. This is a seat Democrats absolutely need to have any shot at a House majority anytime soon, but beating Coffman on his own turf isn't going to be easy.
• FL-Sen, 01: Former state Senate President Don Gaetz initially showed some interest in running for Marco Rubio's open Senate seat, but he announced on Monday that he won't get in. However, there's a good chance that we'll still be hearing more from the wealthy Republican soon. Gaetz is talking about seeking Rep. Jeff Miller's safely red Pensacola-area House district if Miller jumps into the Senate race, and he may be in luck. Miller recently hired OnMessage to do his polling, which indicates that he's laying the groundwork for a statewide bid. Miller and Gaetz are friends, so it's possible that Gaetz has some advance knowledge about Miller's plans.
Neither Miller nor Gaetz can expect an easy GOP primary if they seek higher office. While Miller has good name recognition in the conservative Panhandle area, he's virtually unknown in the rest of the state. Announced candidate Rep. Ron DeSantis and likely opponent Lt. Gov. Carlos Carlos Lopez-Cantera have some well-funded allies, and Miller's going to need financial support if he's going to break through.
Gaetz would also need to get past fellow state Sen. Greg Evers, who says that he's going to run for Miller's seat if it opens up. Gaetz says he's served all of FL-01 at one point or another, and he currently represents about 32 percent in the state Senate. However, Evers represents over twice as much, around 68 percent.
• IN-Sen: It's been a while since we've heard anything from GOP Rep. Todd Young, who has been considering a campaign to succeed Dan Coats for the last two months. But while Young isn't actually in yet, that hasn't stopped two former state Republican Party chairs from throwing their support behind him. For his part, Young's camp says that the congressman "is narrowing in on a decision." Meanwhile, ex-Coats aide Eric Holcomb just picked up the support of former Gov. Edgar Whitcomb. Whitcomb left office in 1973 so it's unlikely he'll move many primary voters but hey, it's not every day you get endorsed by the oldest ex-governor in America.
• IN-Gov: Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz has been talking about a gubernatorial run for a while, and she says she'll make a "special campaign announcement" on Thursday. She didn't say much beyond that, though earlier reports say that she'll declare this week.
• KY-Gov: What if they held a unity rally and nobody came? Well, you can ask Matt Bevin what that would be like. Not a single one of the candidates that the newly minted Republican nominee for governor defeated in last month's GOP primary showed up to a public gathering on Saturday that Sen. Mitch McConnell had planned back in April—nor did McConnell himself! Of course, McConnell was busy in D.C., wrangling the Senate over extending the Patriot Act, but that just means he didn't have to think of another excuse to skip an event with the guy who tried to deny him the renomination last year.
The one dude who did show up was Rand Paul, but he also had the Patriot Act on his mind and spoke mostly about the government's collection of bulk surveillance data. In other words, despite saying he'd "do everything humanly possible" to help Bevin win this fall, Paul focused entirely on a top pet issue in furtherance of his increasingly troubled presidential bid. Who knows? At some point, instead of trying to run for both the White House and re-election at the same time, he might just say "screw it" and stick with the Senate.
• WV-Gov, 01: At long last, things are moving on the GOP side. State Senate President Bill Cole opened a pre-candidacy committee last month, and his team says he'll announce his 2016 plans on Tuesday. We'll find out where things stand soon, but there doesn't seem to be much doubt that Cole will make his gubernatorial bid official.
If Cole gets in he won't need to worry about Rep. David McKinley, who told reporters on Monday that he'll seek a fourth term in the House rather than go statewide. Former Democratic Del. Mike Manypenny has been raising money ahead of a possible campaign, but he'll have a tough time unseating McKinley in this Romney 62-36 seat. But state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says that he's still "seriously considering" a gubernatorial campaign even with Cole in the race.
• CA-07: Democratic Rep. Ami Bera pulled off a tight win in this suburban Sacramento swing district last year, holding off ex-Rep. Doug Ose by a 1,455-vote margin. Ose tells Politico that he hasn't decided if he'll seek a rematch, though he's encouraged to see labor attacking Bera over his support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (the AFL-CIO recently ran a $85,000 spot against the Democrat). If he runs again, Ose won't be able to count on a Republican wave this time, and presidential turnout should give Bera a boost. However, if Bera and labor don't put their differences behind them, it could make all the difference.
• CA-17: Here we go again. On Saturday, former Obama Administration official Ro Khanna announced that he will seek a rematch with Rep. Mike Honda, a fellow Democrat. Honda beat Khanna 52-48 in last year's expensive race but Khanna's $801,000 to $258,000 fundraising edge last quarter foreshadows another tough contest for Honda. Khanna also seems to have learned some lessons from his defeat, and he's already showing a greater focus on local issues than he did last time. However, Honda proved last time that he's no pushover, and the Silicon Valley congressman has made it clear that he's not going to be voluntarily retiring anytime soon.
• MI-10: Shelby Township Treasurer Michael Flynn filed papers with the FEC back in March, and he officially kicked off his campaign for this open seat over the weekend. Flynn will face state Sen. Phil Pavlov and former state Sen. Alan Sanborn in the GOP primary, and a number of other potential candidates are considering.
• MS-01: Here is a bit of a surprise — someone actually bothered to poll Tuesday's special House election out of Northern Mississippi. The "someone" who polled it was the GOP firm Gravis Marketing, working on behalf of the right-wing website Townhall. Unsurprisingly, the poll indicated that the race is not all that competitive: Republican Trent Kelly held a lead of seventeen points (54-37) over Democrat Walter Zinn in a district Romney carried 62-37.
Perhaps a small cautionary note is in order, however. On Sunday, our biennial Daily Kos Elections pollster ratings came out. Not only was Gravis near the bottom (20th out of the 23 firms that were measured), but they had a unique distinction—they were equally challenged by the Dem-friendly year of 2012 and the GOP-friendly year of 2014. Perhaps if they hit the fairway with this one, it will be a sign that they're intent on moving up the ladder in 2016.
• NC-03: Rep. Walter Jones hasn't had a good relationship with the GOP establishment in years. National security hawks spent big on former George W. Bush aide Taylor Griffin last year, and he only lost by a 51-45 margin. But while Griffin is considering another go, Alex Roarty at The National Journal reports that state Secretary of Transportation Anthony Tata is turning some heads in D.C. Tata's 30 year Army career would contrast well with Jones's more dovish views, especially at a time when the GOP base is especially worried about ISIS. Tata hasn't publicly said anything about a campaign, though sources close to him are making it clear that he's "seriously looking" at running.
However, Tata may not have a clear shot at Jones. It's far from clear if Griffin will defer to him if he gets in, or if Griffin will decide to just forge ahead. Businessman and Marine veteran Phil Law is already in and while Law doesn't seem to be catching fire, he could peel off some votes that Tata or Griffin could use. North Carolina only holds runoffs if no one clears 40 percent, so there's a real possibility a clown car of opponents could secure Jones renomination in this safely red coastal seat.
Tata may also not be the best guy to argue that the 3rd District deserves a more ideologically pure Republican... because he's not even a 3rd District Republican. In fact, Tata is registered as an unaffiliated voter in Cary, located in the 2nd District and quite far from his would-be constituents. Tata previously served as superintendent of the Wake County Public School System, so he didn't just move to the Raleigh area because of his job in the state capitol. Jones and his allies successfully portrayed Griffin as a carpetbagger last time, and they'll try the same thing against Tata if they think it will work.
• NY-24: Democrats haven't had much luck finding a viable candidate to take on freshman Republican John Katko, with Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner recently turning the DCCC down. However, Syracuse University professor Eric Kingson says he's interested, and will likely decide by early next month. Kingson hasn't run for office but he's been very active in national campaigns to strengthen Social Security, so he may have the connections he'll need. Obama carried this seat 57-41 but Katko won it 60-40 two years later, a very impressive margin even in a GOP wave year.
• Census: There's good news for armchair demographers, in that the Census Bureau appears to have backed off for their plans to remove marital history and undergraduate degree from the American Community Survey (marital numbers are important for planning things like Social Security and TANF, while undergraduate degree tells you a lot about the relationship between education and economic success).
They are, unfortunately, still planning to drop questions about flush toilets, which, on its face, does sound kind of frivolous and is usually where Republicans start when they rail against invasive ACS questions. It's worth noting, though, that 1.6 million Americans don't have indoor plumbing, so it's not as if that's a problem that's ceased to exist in the U.S.
• Polltopia: A proposed new FCC regulation could seriously hamper the ability of pollsters who use autodialers to conduct their surveys, dealing a blow to both partisan and independent outfits alike. FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler says his agency is "giving the green light for robocall-blocking technology" and wants telephone companies to "offer consumers robocall-blocking tools."
But unlike the law that created the current "Do Not Call" registry, which targets telemarketers, the new rules would not exempt companies that perform consumer or political research. In practice, that would make as expensive for pollsters to call landlines as it is for cellphones, which autodiallers are already forbidden from calling. That would mean less polling overall, which is why, as Politico reports, the Marketing Research Association, a lobbying group, says they're meeting with the FCC to try to carve out an exemption for firms that conduct polls.
More than just polling would be affected, though. Campaigns frequently make use of robocalls to send recorded messages to voters; those, too, would be outlawed. Most voters probably wouldn't lament their demise, though—the FCC says that automated calls are its single-largest source of complaints every year. So the Commission's move pits an unpopular practice against a well-connected industry. We'll see who wins, but if robocalls bite it, then that will probably push more polling online.
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.