Maine Gov. Paul LePage
• ME-Gov: The Paul LePage situation has quickly ramped up to ludicrous speed. As you may know, Maine's Republican governor threatened to cut off half a million dollars worth of funding for a charter school for at-risk youth if they didn't rescind an offer they made to the state House speaker (Democrat Mark Eves) to serve as their president. The school promptly buckled, Eves cried foul, and LePage ... well, he admitted it all!
"Yeah, I did," he said. "If I could, I would. Absolutely. Why wouldn't I? Tell me why I wouldn't take the taxpayer money, to prevent somebody to go into a school and destroy it. Because (Eves') heart's not into doing the right thing for Maine people."
In a remarkable show of unity, lawmakers on the legislature's Government Oversight Committee responded by unanimously voting to investigate
LePage's actions. Yes, that's right: Republican legislators just voted to launch a formal inquiry into a Republican governor. That's
how much LePage has alienated members of his own party.
LePage, though, insists that the committee doesn't have the constitutional authority to dig into his actions, so you know he's going to make this as difficult as possible. But his obstinacy scarcely matters. Legislators most certainly are empowered to conduct an investigation to determine whether LePage should be impeached, which is exactly where all this could wind up.
2Q Fundraising: It's that magical time again!
• FL-Sen: Serving as lieutenant governor of Florida is actually a pretty sweet gig. You get a $125,000 yearly salary with few actual responsibilities beyond being prepared to serve if the governor leaves office early. But it's not so great if you're running for the Senate. Republican Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who will make his expected campaign official in mid-July, has been taking plenty of heat from both his soon-to-be primary rivals and Democrats for collecting a hefty tax-payer funded paycheck while doing almost nothing to earn it.
But as the Tampa Bay Times Adam Smith points out, it's not really Lopez-Cantera's fault. Gov. Rick Scott's office has the power to give him something to do beyond checking each day to make sure that Scott hasn't accidentally been crushed by a mountain of his own money. There are even rumors that Scott's chief of staff Melissa Sellers is keeping Lopez-Cantera's schedule light to embarrass him and help prospective Senate candidate Rep. Jeff Miller, though she denies any speculation that she's going to join Miller's likely statewide campaign. It's a good bet that tea partying Rep. Ron DeSantis and his allies will be especially keen to portray Lopez-Cantera as another typical politician who enjoys getting rich off the taxpayers.
• IN-Sen: A few days ago, a local Indiana station reported that GOP state Sen. Jim Merritt would not enter the U.S. Senate race, but sources tell Howey Politics that Merritt is still preparing to run. Merritt has yet to say anything one way or another, but it may not matter soon. Howey tells us that Merritt may just stay out if Rep. Todd Young jumps in, and Young appears to be getting ready for a Senate bid. The congressman claims he'll decide soon but he's been raising cash off a potential Senate run, and he's reportedly been working hard to stockpile money.
• LA-Sen, 01: After taking a respectable-enough 14 percent in last year's Senate jungle primary, tea partier Rob Maness has been looking for ways to stay relevant. He recently founded a PAC, which has received donations from GOP Sens. David Vitter and Bill Cassidy (whom Maness ran against in 2014). But Maness may have another Senate run in him. He recently said that if Vitter wins this year's gubernatorial race, he'd be "very interested in his seat, and we are taking a very hard look at the seat." It remains to be seen if Maness is hoping that Vitter will appoint him, or if he's willing to challenge Vitter's chosen successor. A few months ago, Maness also talked about challenging House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, but that idea seems dead for now.
• WI-Sen: While national Democrats were excited to land ex-Sen. Russ Feingold, his unsuccessful 2010 re-election campaign left plenty to be desired. But here's one sign that Feingold may be making a stronger effort for his rematch with Republican Ron Johnson: His camp reports that they've raised a solid $2 million in the six weeks he's been in the race.
• IN-Gov: Wealthy auto dealer Bob Thomas all but promised to challenge Gov. Mike Pence in the GOP primary in May, but he sounds a lot less certain now. Thomas tells Howey Politics that he'll decide by mid-July, but that "taking on a sitting governor is a huge undertaking. I don't want to get into a bloody primary and then give the seat to the Democrats." Howey notes that Thomas hasn't ruled out an independent bid, but it seems unlikely he'll do it since he's obviously worried about helping Team Blue. There's no word on whether Thomas is still interested in running for the open IN-03.
• LA-Gov: On Wednesday, retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré announced that he wouldn't run for governor in this fall's open seat race. Honoré indicated that if he did get in, he'd campaign as a left-leaning independent. Honoré could have taken some Democratic votes from state Rep. John Bel Edwards and helped Republicans Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne or Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle get into a November runoff with GOP Sen. David Vitter, but it is not to be. Prominent attorney Tony Clayton expressed interest in running as a conservative Democrat in late May, so Edwards may not have the Democratic vote to himself yet.
• NC-Gov: The conservative Civitas Institute takes a look at next year's showdown between Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper, and gives the incumbent a 43-38 edge. PPP and Elon University have usually found things closer, but this result is far from unreasonable.
• MD-08: Things may be finally solidifying in this safely Democratic open seat. Dels. Ariana Kelly and Jeff Waldstreicher both initially expressed interest in running to succeed Senate candidate Chris Van Hollen, but they've both announced that they won't go for it.
However, Maryland Scramble reports that wealthy businessman Josh Rales is considering getting in, though Rales hasn't confirmed anything. Rales ran for the Senate in the 2006 primary and spent over $5 million to earn 5 percent of the vote, but he may be able to do better in a crowded contest like this. It's also possible that someone else will jump into what is now a six-way primary, but any serious candidate will want to start raising money soon if they want to air ads in the expensive D.C. market.
Meanwhile, former Montgomery County Councilor Valerie Ervin made her long-awaited campaign official on Wednesday. Ervin said she was running a few weeks ago but by waiting until July to actually kick things off, she won't need to report any fundraising totals until October.
• MI-01: Lon Johnson launched his bid to face Dan Benishek a few days ago, and the local Democratic establishment has quickly closed ranks behind him. Johnson has unveiled endorsements from several current and former state legislators, including state Reps. Scott Dianda and John Kivela, who were both occasionally mentioned as prospective candidates, and 2010 and 2012 nominee Gary McDowell. 2014 nominee Jerry Cannon recently formed an exploratory committee here but his last campaign disappointed plenty of Democrats, and this seems like an orchestrated effort to keep him out.
• MN-08: Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan turned back a challenge from wealthy Republican Stewart Mills by a tight 49-47 margin, and he may be in for a rematch soon. Mills sounds very interested in giving it another go and he argues that he "didn't lose that election so much as Rick Nolan rode Al Franken's coattails." Mills also thinks a 2016 run could go better since he won't need to deal with any popular Minnesota Democrats at the top of the ticket. Of course, Nolan will have presidential turnout on his side next year, and Mills can't count on another GOP wave washing ashore. Obama carried this Iron Range seat 52-46.
• NH-01: Republican Rep. Frank Guinta's political future hasn't looked good ever since he paid an FEC fine for a still-mysterious six-figure loan, and it looks like he'll be facing a familiar primary foe soon. Dan Innis, who lost to Guinta 50-40 last year, has been talking about challenging him again. Innis and his husband just announced that they are selling their hotel to "focus our time and energy on new pursuits," though they didn't say much beyond that.
But Innis may have some unwelcome company. The National Journal tells us that local Republicans are still mentioning businessman and 2010 candidate Rich Ashooh as a potential candidate, and that ex-Deputy state House Speaker Pam Tucker is considering a bid. Neither Ashooh nor Tucker has said anything publicly, but the congressman would love it if multiple challengers split the anti-Guinta vote. And so would Democrats, who hope that they get to face the scandal-tarred incumbent in this swing seat.
• NY-02: On Wednesday, GOP Rep. Peter King decided to stop wasting everyone's time and announced that he won't run for president. King's decision means he'll have more time to focus on his re-election campaign, where he faces a credible challenge from Democratic Suffolk County Legislator DuWayne Gregory.
• NY-13: Suzan Cook, who worked in the Clinton Administration and recently served as U.S. ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, has kicked off her bid for this open and safely blue seat. Cook is going to face plenty of competition in this seat, which includes Harlem and part of the Bronx: Assemblyman Keith Wright and ex-Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV are both in, and several others are likely to join them. But there's a good chance Cook will be the only woman on the ballot, which could give her an opening.
• NY-21: On Wednesday, former State Department Advisor Mike Derrick, a retired colonel, announced that he would challenge freshman Republican Elise Stefanik. The Democratic bench isn't great in this swingy but ancestrally red North Country seat, so Derrick probably won't face a competitive primary, especially now that 2014 nominee Aaron Woolf has announced he isn't trying again.
Unlike Woolf, whom Republicans easily portrayed as a carpetbagger from Brooklyn, Derrick is originally from this district. Derrick only returned to Upstate New York recently after three decades but seeing as he was deployed during most of his time away, he won't be so easy to attack as an outsider. However, we won't know until October's reporting deadline if Derrick has the chops to take on the well-connected Stefanik.
• Akron Mayor: A credible candidate has dropped out of the Sept. 8 Democratic primary, and this time there's no hint on scandal. State Sen. Tom Sawyer has exited the contest, saying that "it came down to the fact that my presence complicated the race and I really didn't clarify any problems." Ok then. Sawyer served as mayor back in the 1980s before being elected to Congress, but he was bounced by Tim Ryan in a 2002 primary.
We also lost perennial candidate Natural Hunka Kaboom, who was disqualified by people with less-interesting names. The Democratic primary is now a three-way fight between Summit County Councilman Frank Comunale, Summit County Clerk of Courts Dan Horrigan, and City Councilor Mike Williams.
• President-by-LD: We make our way back to Louisiana for a look at the state's 2014 Senate race. In a new post, Jeff Singer dives into the results of the runoff between defeated Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu and now-GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy. We have both the Senate duel and 2012 presidential race calculated by state House, Senate, and congressional district. As a bonus, we also have the November jungle primary between Landrieu, Cassidy, and tea partying Republican Rob Maness.
Louisiana State House
You can find our master list of states here. We've included Stephen Wolf's interactive state legislative map of the Louisiana House above, and be sure to check out the rest here.
• WATN?: The long, strange saga of former New York Democratic Senate Leader Malcolm Smith has come to an end. Smith has been sentenced to seven years in prison after trying to bribe Republican New York City leaders to try and get on their primary ballot for the 2013 mayoral race. Smith actually had the chutzpah to run for re-election in last year's Democratic primary while under indictment, but voters told him to fuck off by a 69-19 margin.
• Site News: The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest will be taking Friday and Monday off for the extended Fourth of July weekend. We'll be back Tuesday: 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, and Daniel Donner.