Republican Sen. Rob Portman
• OH-Sen: Public Policy Polling takes a look at next year's Ohio Senate race and finds a very tight contest. Republican Sen. Rob Portman holds a 43-41 edge against ex-Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, not too different from the 45-45 tie they found in March. (That poll was conducted for the state Democratic Party, while this one was carried out independently.) The only other survey we've seen here was from Quinnipiac in March, and they gave Strickland a hard-to-believe 48-39 lead.
PPP also tested Democratic City Councilor P.G. Sittenfeld and found him losing the general 46-28. However, while Sittenfeld is adamant that he's going to stay in the race, Strickland has a huge 65-13 primary lead. There were rumors that Portman could face a credible primary challenger last year, but no one ever stepped forward. In any case, Portman easily defeats 2006 gubernatorial nominee Ken Blackwell 57-24 in an extremely hypothetical contest, so it's unlikely any actual opponent could gain traction.
Neither Portman nor Strickland are particularly popular. Portman posts a 35-35 job approval rating, while Strickland has a 39-38 favorability score four years after narrowly losing re-election. Unsurprisingly, 75 percent of respondents have no opinion of Sittenfeld. However, Democrats know they can't underestimate the incumbent. Portman is an incredibly good fundraiser and a tough campaigner, while Strickland will need to spend some of his more-limited resources against Sittenfeld. We have a long way to go before the general and a lot can happen, but this early survey indicates that we're in for a barnburner.
• FL-Sen: We have a new potential GOP candidate for this open seat. This time it's Patriot Defense Group President Todd Wilcox, who runs an organization that Marc Caputo describes as "a CIA-tied military and law-enforcement contractor." Wilcox is touting his business and combat record, arguing that none of his likely rivals bring that kind of experience to the table. While Wilcox hasn't committed to anything yet, he sounds very serious, saying he's "identified several tier 1 general campaign consultants" and "key vendors."
• NV-Sen: On Tuesday, Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval finally confirmed what we already knew and announced that he would not run for the Senate next year. Sandoval always looked incredibly reluctant to leave his powerful post to join the D.C. gridlock, but Team Red held out a little bit of hope that the popular governor would change his mind. (Unconfirmed reports say that NRSC chair Roger Wicker offered to throw freshman Rep. Cresent Hardy into an active volcano as a sacrifice to try and appease Sandoval). Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison also announced that he'll be staying out of the contest to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, which doesn't come as a surprise either.
Now that Sandoval is definitely out of the running, attention turns to Rep. Joe Heck. Heck was also initially reluctant to run for the Senate, but he's had a change of heart in the last few weeks. It's looking increasingly likely that Heck gets in, though he hasn't made anything final yet. Heck is a respected fundraiser and he has experience holding a swingy House seat, and there's little doubt that he's now the best candidate the GOP can get. The Republicans have some other options if Heck declines, but none of them are particularly compelling. On the Democratic side, former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto faces no real primary opposition.
• CA-10: Democrat Michael Eggman lost to Republican Rep. Jeff Denham 56-44 last year, not a bad result given the GOP wave and how Democratic turnout drops disproportionately in midterm cycles in the Central Valley. Eggman seems to agree, since he announced that he's seeking a rematch. But even with a better political climate and presidential turnout, Denham is going to be very tough to beat. The incumbent turned back a high-profile challenge from former astronaut Jose Hernandez 53-47, even as Obama was carrying the district 51-47. Democratic outside groups also ignored Eggman last time, and he'll need to attract their attention if he's going to pull off an upset. (H/t Scott Lay of Around The Capitol)
• FL-18: Here's something you don't see every day: a high-profile Republican legislator appearing at a fundraiser for a Democratic congressional candidate. But sure enough, GOP state Sen. Jack Latvala attended an event for Palm Beach County Supervisor Melissa McKinley. And it's not like this is some safely blue seat either: Romney won this district 52-48, and both parties are expecting to fight hard to win it.
Community member Tyler Yeargain fleshes out what's happening here. Latvala and fellow Republican state Sen. Joe Negron are competing to become the next state Senate president, and right now it looks like Negron has more support within the party caucus. The more moderate Latvala seems to be calculating that he can win if he forges a coalition of Democrats and his Republican allies, and his appearance at the McKinley fundraiser is a good way to reach out to the Democratic minority. It also doesn't hurt that Negron's wife Rebecca Negron is one of the many Republicans running here.
• IA-03: On Tuesday, 2014 Democratic nominee Staci Appel told The Des Moines Register's Jennifer Jacobs that she would not seek a rematch with freshman Republican David Young. Appel lost this swing seat 53-42 last time, but some Democrats seemed to blame the result on Republican wave instead of anything she did wrong.
Democrats are going to go after Young before he has the chancer to become untouchable like his predecessor Tom Latham, but it's far from clear who they'll field next year. State Sen. Matt McCoy has expressed interest, but plenty of Democrats believe that his past ethical problems would cost them a pickup opportunity. Businessman Desmund Adams has formed an exploratory committee, but he's been pretty quiet overall. Ex-Gov. Chet Culver has also talked about a bid for the more-Democratic 1st District, but he sounds like he's eyeing this race more seriously.
Jim Mowrer, an army veteran who ran in the neighboring 4th District last year, also hasn't ruled anything out. Mowrer raised a credible amount of money against Republican Rep. Steve King last time, though his opponents would likely portray him as a carpetbagger if he campaigns here. (Mowrer says he's owned a home in both districts since 2007 and sold the one in IA-04 recently). Assistant Attorney General Nathan Blake and U.S. Attorney Nick Kleinfeldt have also been mentioned, though they appear unlikely to run this time.
• IL-08: On Tuesday, Democratic businessman Raja Krishnamoorthi received the support of Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who represents a neighboring seat. Schakowsky's support may not move many voters, but it's a sign that Krishnamoorthi is making inroads among the Democratic establishment even as he faces state Sen. Tom Cullerton in the primary. But Cullerton, who used to serve in the Army, earned the endorsement of VoteVets, a group that's willing to spend real money to get its favored candidates across the finish line.
We also have an early look at the primary, though the new Ogden & Fry survey for the Illinois Observer is really just a good reminder why House primary polls are rarely released this far from Election Day. They give Cullerton an 18-17 lead over Krishnamoorthi, with a mere 65 percent undecided. State Sen. Mike Noland, who has formed an exploratory committee but isn't officially running, wasn't tested... though it's not like including him would tell us much.
Obama won this Chicagoland seat 57-41, and it should be secure for Team Blue in a presidential cycle. Not surprisingly, 2014 GOP nominee Larry Kaifesh has declined to run again, but a few other Republicans could give it a shot. Cook County Commissioner and state GOP head Tim Schneider didn't rule anything out when asked, but he says he's happy where he is. DuPage County Commissioner Pete DiCianni and DuPage County Regional Board of School Trustees President Darlene Ruscitti may be interested, though they haven't said anything publicly. About 36 percent of the district is located in DuPage, so neither of them would start off with a huge base of support if they got in.
• NY-04: The AFL-CIO is taking aim at a second Democrat who has come out in favor of so-called "fast-track" trade negotiation authority, freshman New York Rep. Kathleen Rice, though she's much less vulnerable than their other target, California Rep. Ami Bera. The spot hitting Rice is running for a reported "six figures" (the same amount initially claimed for Bera, later revised down to $85,000) and attacks her for flip-flopping on fast-track. Indeed, Rice actually wrote an op-ed the other day admitting she'd "changed" her mind, which always gets branded a "flip-flop" in our political system.
While Rice did win by a narrower-than-she'd-have-liked 53-47 margin last year, it was a terrible time for Democrats and she was running for an open seat. Next year, as an incumbent, she'll be able to count on Hillary Clinton juicing presidential turnout, in all likelihood, and Republicans aren't liable to target this expensive seat in the New York City suburbs. Bera, by contrast, sits in a swingier seat and won by less than 1 percent in 2014, so it's theoretically easier for labor to pressure him. But he certainly sounds committed to voting for fast-track, and Rice does, too.
• TX-27: A few months ago, a former staffer to Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold sued him for sexual harassment. The case has been out of the news for a while but if it blows up again, Farenthold could be vulnerable to a primary challenge in this Romney 61-38 seat. And sure enough, veteran Dan McQueen is considering a bid against Farenthold. McQueen's only prior campaign didn't go particularly will though, with him taking only 14 percent in last year's Corpus Christi mayoral race, so he may be too Some Dudeish to beat even a weak incumbent.
• VA State Senate: Old Dominion Democrats don't have much room for error if they want to net the one seat they'll need to retake the state Senate, and this won't help things. After months of flirtation, Democratic Roanoke City Commonwealth's Attorney Don Caldwell announced that he would challenge Democratic state Sen. John Edwards as an independent. Obama carried this seat 54-44 but Democratic turnout is likely to disproportionately drop this November, and Caldwell's move could very well give Republican Nancy Dye a shot here.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir and Jeff Singer, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, and Daniel Donner.