New Hampshire Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan
• NH-Sen, Gov: Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan isn't expected to decide if she'll challenge Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte until after the legislative session ends around July 1. It was conventional wisdom a few months ago that Hassan, a top DSCC recruit, would leave the relatively weak governorship to face Ayotte. But WMUR's John DiStaso reports that Granite State Democrats are getting pessimistic that she'll run after all.
It's going to be at least another few weeks before we know what the governor will do, but DiStaso says that Rep. Annie Kuster and ex-Rep. Carol Shea-Porter are being talked about as backup options. However, Executive Councilor Chris Pappas is also receiving encouragement. DiStaso writes that Pappas is resisting so far, but there will probably be renewed pressure on him if Hassan declines a Senate bid.
Until Hassan makes her intentions clear, national Democrats are going to do whatever they can to entice her to jump in, and it's not hard to see why. A recent PPP survey showed Hassan narrowly ahead of Ayotte 46-45, while Kuster trailed 49-38. (Shea-Porter and Pappas weren't tested). Meanwhile, the GOP is trying to deter Hassan. An outside group launched a $1 million ad buy against her to give the governor a taste of what a nasty Senate race would look like.
If Hassan decided to stay put and seek re-election, there's little question that she'd be heavily favored. However, that's not going to be much of a silver lining for Team Blue, who know that this seat could decide which party holds the Senate. Ayotte isn't incredibly popular and New Hampshire is swingy enough that another Democrat can win next year with a good political climate, but it'll be a lot harder without Hassan.
• CO-Sen: On Thursday, Republican state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman told the National Review that she will not run against Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet next year. National Republicans would have been more disappointed a week ago, before the state GOP chair publicly accused Coffman of blackmailing him.
Former state Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp has also been mentioned as a potential GOP contender here, but he never said anything publicly. And we may not end up hearing from him anyway: Emily Cahn passes on word from a source who says that Kopp was considering challenging Bennet, but has now ruled it out. Kopp ran a forgettable campaign for governor last year, taking fourth place in a four-candidate primary with 20 percent of the vote.
• PA-Sen: Another Franklin & Marshall poll, another truckload of undecideds. This offering has Republican Sen. Pat Toomey leading 2010 Democratic rival Joe Sestak 35-31; Toomey posted a similar 34-29 edge in March. They also test Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski for the first time and have him trailing Toomey 34-23.
• KS-Gov: Back in January, a federal grand jury began looking into three loans adding up to $1.5 million to GOP Gov. Sam Brownback's re-election campaign from Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, his wealthy running mate. The matter didn't go anywhere in the end though, with the U.S. attorney announcing on Wednesday that there will be no charges.
• LA-Gov: A few days ago, we saw one of those "whoa if true!" polls that probably wasn't true. The Ouachita Citizen reported on a survey from Verne Kennedy of Market Research Insight that supposedly showed Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards only beating Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle 21-18 for the second place spot in the November runoff. Every other released poll had Edwards far ahead of GOP Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne in the race for second place, and Angelle barely registering at all. Republican Sen. David Vitter looks like a safe bet to advance past the October jungle primary, and there's little doubt that he'd rather face a runoff with a Democrat than a fellow Republican in this red state.
However, Kennedy soon disowned the Citizen's story, claiming that there were a "number of errors." Kennedy later told Elizabeth Crisp of The Advocate that his poll actually found Angelle only taking 10 percent, which isn't dramatically different from what everyone else has found so far: The extra 8 percent came from respondents who said they were "leaning" toward Angelle. Kennedy summed up his own results by saying, "[i]t looks like a runoff between Vitter and Edwards."
It's still not completely clear what's going on here. It's usually not a problem including leaners in your results unless they were given additional information about the candidates between the initial ballot test and the new one. However, what may have happened is that Angelle's 18 support included people leaning to him, while at least one of the other candidates didn't have his leaners added, so things looked closer than they should have. Kennedy blames the problem on a game of telephone with the unidentified independent group that paid for the poll. Kennedy verbally told his clients the result but didn't authorize them to release the numbers, but someone told the Citizen anyway. However, the reporter who wrote about the poll is standing by his story.
Ultimately, the best thing to do in this case is wait for more polls. If Angelle actually is surging, other groups should see it. But for now, there's no reason to think that Vitter and Edwards don't have clear leads in the October jungle primary.
• NH-01: Oh Ovide, don't get our hopes up again. WMUR's John DiStaso caught up with tea party chieftain and 2012 gubernatorial nominee Ovide Lamontagne, and asked him if he has any interest in challenging Rep. Frank Guinta in a primary. Lamontagne didn't say no, and notes that he is still interested in public service, adding, "I'm focused on my work, but you never know."
A primary between Guinta, who has been in hot water over a still-mysterious 2010 loan, and the far-right Lamontagne would be awesome to watch. And if another candidate ran, it could split the anti-Guinta vote enough to secure renomination for the congressman. However, Lamontagne already let us down this year when he left the door open to challenging GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte, only to quietly rule it out. He may just be having too much fun watching presidential candidates court him to actually get his own hands dirty.
• NV-03: With Republican Rep. Joe Heck looking very likely to leave this 50-49 Obama seat soon to run for the Senate, the DCCC is continuing to search for a candidate. Roll Call's Emily Cahn reports that the committee is now talking to former Secretary of State Ross Miller. Miller hasn't said anything, though a source says he's seriously thinking about it. The group has also reportedly met with state Senate Minority Leader Aaron Ford, though the DCCC prefers Miller.
Miller was a rising star in Silver State Democratic politics, and he was all-but-certain to run for governor in 2018. However, Miller's campaign for attorney general ended in a narrow defeat last year due to terrible Democratic turnout and the GOP wave, and his future plans are a lot more uncertain. But Jon Ralston says it's very unlikely that Miller will seek this House seat in the end, noting that he just took two new jobs and is still pretty exhausted from 2014. But Team Blue knows that they'll have their best chance to win here if they get an open seat in a presidential year, and they're going to keep working hard to find a viable candidate.
• TN-03: Republican Rep. Chuck Fleischmann is no stranger to close primaries in this safely-red East Tennessee seat, with him only turning back venture capitalist Weston Wamp 51-49 last year. State Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson has been mulling a challenge for a few months, and his ties to Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey could allow him to raise the type of money he'll need to win. However, Fleischmann is trying to demonstrate that he won't be a pushover, and he's bragging that he hauled in $400,000 at a recent fundraiser with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
It's always been a bit of a mystery why Fleischmann has had so many problems here. Fleischmann has a solidly conservative voting record, and he hasn't been touched by scandal. Roll Call's Simone Pathé takes a look, and it could just come down to an inability to connect with primary voters for whatever reason. However, as one Republican notes, Fleischmann just keeps getting tough challengers because he keeps having a hard time winning. If he manages to scare off Watson or convincingly beats him, his problems may end right then and there.
• Nashville Mayor: Things continue to look good for wealthy real estate titan Bill Freeman in the Aug. 6 non-partisan primary. Freeman recently picked up two useful endorsements from labor groups, and another poll finds him positioned to advance to the runoff. This new survey comes from Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group on behalf of rival Linda Eskind Rebrovick:
• Real estate executive Bill Freeman: 18
• Councilor Megan Barry: 13
• Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk Howard Gentry: 12
• Businesswoman Linda Eskind Rebrovick: 11
• Former Metro Nashville School Board Chairman David Fox: 6
• Attorney Charles Robert Bone: 6
• Charter school founder Jeremy Kane: 3
The survey isn't incredibly different from two May polls
from Freeman and Gentry respectively, though unsurprisingly, this one shows Rebrovick looking much more likely to advance to the runoff.
• Senate, History: Former Indiana Rep. Baron Hill is seeking the Democratic nomination for the state's open Senate seat, but he's actually served as Team Blue's standard-bearer here before. Then-state Rep. Hill was the 1990 Democratic nominee against appointed-Sen. Dan Coats in a contest he lost 54-46. According to Smart Politics, the 26-year gap between Hill's first and (potential) second stint as his party's nominee would be the second longest for a major party Senate candidate in U.S. history.
New Jersey Republican Jeff Bell holds the honor of taking the longest break between his first and second nominations. Bell unseated Sen. Clifford Case in the 1978 primary before losing the general election to Democrat Bill Bradley by 10 points. Bell came back last year, but he lost to Democratic incumbent Cory Booker 56-42. West Virginia Republican John Raese is another familiar name in the study. Raese came close to beating Democratic Gov. Jay Rockefeller in the 1984 Senate contest, before badly losing to the late Sen. Robert Byrd in 2006. Raese went on to lose the 2010 and 2012 contests to Joe Manchin.
Not too many nominees have lost a Senate race only to win decades later, but it has happened. Wyoming Republican Milward Simpson failed to unseat Democratic Sen. Joseph O'Mahoney in 1940, but he won a 1962 special election. Now-Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton also lost his 1982 Senate bid against David Durenberger, before defeating Sen. Rod Grams in 2000.
• VA Redistricting, History:
A recent court ruling has left Virginia's congressional map in limbo
, with a federal court ordering a new map by Sept. 1, and the GOP planning to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. This new redistricting dispute is far from the first: Geoffrey Skelley at Sabato's Crystal Ball takes a look at past conflicts stretching back to the 1960s
A 1965 ruling found that some seats were overpopulated, and the new map helped end the career of powerful House Rules Committee Chair Howard Smith in the Democratic primary. The commonwealth saw more drama over the next few decades, and the whole piece is worth reading. Skelley also includes each version of the congressional map, and we've posted the 1962-1965 one above. While each incarnation of the rural southwestern 9th District remains recognizable, there's plenty of change in areas like Northern Virginia.
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.