Sen. Mark Kirk is sorry.
• IL-Sen: Remember when you got in trouble as a kid and offered up a simple and automatic "I'm sorry" to get your parents/ teachers off your back, even though the only thing you were sorry about was getting caught? Well, Republican Sen. Mark Kirk hasn't outgrown that instinct. After a hot mike broadcast him saying that Senate colleague Lindsey Graham is a "bro with no ho. That's what we'd say on the South Side," Kirk offered this apology to the people of Illinois for his inappropriate remarks last week:
I apologize to the people of Illinois for my inappropriate remarks last week.
Feel the contrition! He may as well have gone with Dwight Schrute's effective statement of regret
: "I state my regret."
• AZ-Sen: When you're John McCain, everything is good news, so the fact that you're deeply unpopular in your home state, you're facing a revolt in your own party's primary, and Democrats have unexpectedly landed a top-flight challenger for the general election surely can't mean anything at all. That's the only explanation for why the veteran Arizona Republican still hasn't staffed up—in fact, he doesn't even have a campaign manager yet. But hey, if McCain thinks he can sleepwalk his way to a sixth term, who are we to complain?
• FL-Sen: Rep. Alan Grayson has made a big deal of his progressive bona fides as he considers a run for the Senate, but one group of would-be fellow travelers has nevertheless spurned him: the Congressional Progressive Caucus, of which he's a member. Politico's Lauren French reports that earlier this year, Grayson asked the caucus to create a special new leadership role that he could use as an additional platform against Rep. Patrick Murphy should Grayson enter the Democratic primary, but the CPC turned him down.
Some members were ticked that Grayson didn't run for a leadership post when elections were held in January. Others were not interested in giving purchase to a notorious lone wolf:
"Alan's problem is Alan … and the fact that he goes it alone. Many of us felt that the leadership we have needs to be disciplined enough to, on occasion, swallow their own individual wants for the good of the whole," said a fellow Democrat, speaking on background to avoid riling Grayson.
It's a bit reminiscent of the episode a few months ago when Grayson un-subtly suggested
that one way to keep him out of the Senate race would be for the House's top brass to give him a "role in policy-making for the party." Nancy Pelosi didn't jump at that proposal either.
• NV-Sen: After spending over a year running for this seat and being ignored, Republican Las Vegas Councilor Bob Beers has pulled the plug on his campaign. We may not have heard the last of the awesomely-named tea partying politician though: There's some speculation that Beers could try to succeed Rep. Joe Heck in the swingy 3rd District if Heck runs for Senate.
Indeed, it's looking very likely that Heck seeks a promotion, though the congressman is publicly undecided. Former Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki is keeping his own name in circulation just in case Heck declines, though he's made it clear that he's trying to convince Heck to get in instead. If Heck runs, he's unlikely to face any real GOP primary opposition.
• IN-Gov, Sen: There's been some occasional speculation that outgoing GOP Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard could be on the 2016 ballot, but it looks like we can rule that out. Ballard notes that he's been encouraged to run against Gov. Mike Pence in the primary but he won't do it, saying he's tired. Ballard didn't address the Senate, but he's shown no interest in the open seat, and it's unlikely that his fatigue is only confined to state-level races. Ballard didn't rule out a future campaign, though his moderate social views (he just served as grand marshal of the city's LGBTQ pride parade) probably wouldn't play well in a statewide primary.
• LA-Gov: On Monday, the Ouachita Citizen relayed an eye-popping poll of the Oct. 24 jungle primary from Verne Kennedy of Market Research Insight. While they predictably had Republican Sen. David Vitter leading Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards 32-21, GOP Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle was just behind at 18 and Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne was "in the low teens."
While every other released poll has Vitter and Edwards taking the two runoff spots, they have Dardenne a distant third and Angelle barely registering. In the very likely event that no one takes a majority, the top two contenders would advance to the November runoff, and Vitter would likely have a tougher time in a duel with a fellow Republican than a Democrat in this conservative state.
This poll would be pretty big news if true... but Kennedy quickly moved to disown his own survey. Kennedy only says there are "a number of errors" in the poll write-up, but he didn't say what they were, only that the story was "not authorized for release." Stephen Shepard puts it well:
@HotlineKaryn @elizabethcrisp A good pollster would never allow his/her data to be misrepresented -- clients or no. He should provide data.
So say we all.
And Market Research Insight doesn't seem to be a good pollster. Days before the 2010 GOP Senate primary (Louisiana briefly adopted partisan federal primaries before returning to the jungle primary), they released a survey on behalf of Chet Traylor that showed him trailing Vitter only 46-34; Vitter won 88-7. That summer, they also found Republican Rep. Joseph Cao leading Democrat Cedric Richmond 51-26, months before he lost 65-33. If other groups start showing Angelle within striking distance of the runoff we'll take notice, but team Angelle should keep the Champagne on ice a while longer.
Still, Angelle and his allies are doing what they can to move the (undisputed) polls in their favor with new ads. Angelle's spot touts his support for women's equality, which could be a way to appeal to female voters who don't trust Vitter after his prostitution scandal. Meanwhile, the pro-Angelle super PAC Louisiana Rising features some people saying some generic nice things about him. There's no word on the size of the buy for either commercial.
This contest has been a four-way race for a while, but that may be about to change. Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, a left-leaning independent, has been considering a bid for a while, and he now says he'll probably decide by July 1. If Honoré gets in, he could help peel off enough Democratic voters from Edwards to give Dardenne or Angelle a better chance to advance to the runoff. However, the only poll we've seen with Honoré showed the opposite outcome: MarblePort found Honoré taking independents that Dardenne needed and bolstering Edwards. But it's early, and if Honoré enters the race things could change as more voters learn about him.
• WV-Gov: On Tuesday, Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced that he will seek a second term rather than run for governor next year. Morrisey's move leaves state Senate President Bill Cole as the only credible primary candidate, and no one else has expressed any interest. (Rep. David McKinley flirted with a statewide bid for a while before turning it down). The GOP, led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, has been working to avoid a contested primary, and it's looking like they've succeeded in consolidating support for Cole. On the Democratic side, billionaire Jim Justice is in and state Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler has filed pre-candidacy papers, while U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin has yet to rule anything out.
• IL-12: Back in January, former Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon sounded pretty uninterested in taking on freshman Republican Mike Bost, though she didn't say no. Simon is looking to return to elected office next year but in a different capacity: She says she's considering a campaign state Senate in the GOP-held SD-58. While she still hasn't said no to a bid for Congress, she calls the legislature a "better fit" for her. Labor lawyer C.J. Baricevic is running against Bost, though it's unclear if the DCCC is satisfied with having this first-time candidate as their nominee.
• MD-08: The National Journal's Kimberly Railey gives us a great look at the six-way Democratic primary for this safely blue metro D.C. seat. It's anyone's guess who will triumph next year, but Railey identifies former Marriott executive Kathleen Matthews and state Sen. Jamie Raskin as the early co-frontrunners.
Matthews is well-connected and has name recognition from her time as a local news anchor, while Raskin's leadership in the successful efforts to legalize same-sex marriage and ban the death penalty make him a favorite with progressives. However, Del. Kumar Barve has some allies among the Indian American community, which could help him raise money. Fellow Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez is also attracting support from Hispanic groups. Former Obama Administration official Will Jawando and Montgomery Councilor Valerie Ervin don't seem to have too much outside aid yet, though it's early.
• ME-02: Even though Bangor Councilor Joe Baldacci says he'll decide this month if he'll challenge Republican freshman Bruce Poliquin, national Democrats are already consolidating behind 2014 nominee Emily Cain. Cain will attend a D.C. fundraiser with a guest list that includes DCCC head Ben Ray Lujan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and 1st District Rep. Chellie Pingree.
Cain's haul last quarter was pretty weak, especially compared to Poliquin's eye-popping $700,000 sum, and this high-powered fundraiser may help Cain erase some of the gap. The Kennebec Journal's Michael Shepherd also notes that the DCCC barely spent anything in the general while the NRCC dropped almost $1 million last year. Poliquin ended up winning 47-42, and Team Blue seems to be signaling that they won't ignore this seat next year.
• NY-01: The first big endorsement in the Democratic primary in New York's 1st Congressional District goes to Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, who just received the backing of EMILY's List. The only other announced candidate so far is Suffolk Planning Commission Chair Dave Calone, but Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn is also considering. That either means that EMILY doesn't expect her to get in, or just doesn't care for her. Calone and Throne-Holst are vying for the right to take on freshman GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin.
• Deaths: Blaze Starr (born Fannie Bell Fleming), who was at the center of one of the craziest episodes in Louisiana political history, died at the age of 83 on Monday. Starr met Gov. Earl Long in 1959 while she was a stripper on Bourbon Street, and the two soon began a relationship. Long was already quite unpredictable and his behavior became even more erratic after he started seeing Starr, and his wife cited the affair as one of the reasons he needed to be sent to a mental hospital.
Long was involuntarily committed to the Southeast Louisiana Hospital, but he used his authority as governor to appoint one of his friends as head of the state Hospital Board, and he soon secured his release. Starr and Long remained together until his death the next year, and Starr's memoir was later dramatized in the film "Blaze."
• Great Mentioner: Gov. Peter Shumlin's decision to retire has Democrats across Vermont eyeing his seat. If Rep. Peter Welch runs, he may clear the field and redirect potential competitors to his open House seat. However, if Welch stays put, we could see another primary free-for-all. The GOP is also looking at a pickup in this blue seat, though presidential turnout won't make it easy. We take a look at both developing primary fields in our new Daily Kos Great Mentioner piece.
Gerrymandering cost Democrats House seats in pretty much every part of the country, but things were particularly ugly in the Upper South. In a new piece, Stephen Wolf creates non-partisan maps of the region that would better reflect the will of voters while keeping communities intact. As you can see from the map above, non-partisan redistricting would have given Team Blue a chance to pick up several seats (colored in light blue), especially in swingy Virginia and North Carolina.
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.