Arizona Democrat Tom O'Halleran
• AZ-01: Former state Sen. Tom O'Halleran served in the legislature for eight years as a Republican until a conservative challenger narrowly knocked him out in a 2008 primary. He then made a comeback bid last year as an independent in a different district, and nearly unseated the Republican incumbent, taking 48 percent of the vote (no Democrat was on the ballot). Now O'Halleran's joined the Democratic Party and will run for Congress in Arizona's 1st District, which is open due to Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick's Senate bid.
That makes him the first Democrat to officially dive in, though state Sen. Barbara McGuire recently formed an exploratory committee, and several others are considering bids. Given O'Halleran's Charlie Crist-ian migration to the left, he might struggle to win a Democratic primary, but Roll Call's Eli Yokley notes that former state Democratic Party executive director DJ Quinlan is running O'Halleran's campaign, and Quinlan's seal of approval may help his new boss earn some establishment support.
The Republican field is also unsettled, with two declared candidates, rancher Gary Kiehne and former Secretary of State Ken Bennett, plus a whole host of others who are still looking. One of them, interestingly enough, is state Sen. Steve Pierce, the conservative who denied O'Halleran renomination back in 2008. It certainly would be compelling to see the two square off once again, this time as members of different parties.
• AR-Sen: Conner Eldridge, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, is supposedly considering a challenge to freshman GOP Sen. John Boozman next year, but as Jay Barth rightly wonders in the Arkansas Times, would such a bid even be worth it? Arkansas is a firmly red state these days, and Boozman simply hasn't pissed anyone off. In short, it's all but impossible to see a path to victory.
Eldridge, who at 37 is the youngest U.S. attorney in the country, will probably find his current gig coming to an end once a new president is in the White House, but there are plenty of things he can do with his life. One option might be to run for the House instead: Though his turf as USA covers the extremely Republican western half of the state, he's from the 1st District, which could be winnable by a Democrat in the right circumstances.
• MD-Sen: Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich was one of googolplex Republicans considering a presidential bid, but he ultimately decided there was no way he could beat out the likes of Jim Gilmore for his party's nomination. However, could he still seek out Maryland's open Senate seat? Ehrlich's only offering a classic not-a-no response to the question, saying only that he "has no plans" to run (in the words of the AP).
He'd be faintly nuts to try, though: After winning the governorship in an upset in 2002, Ehrlich got turfed out by Martin O'Malley in 2006, then bombed in a comeback bid four years later despite the 2010 GOP wave. What's more, the Old Line State hasn't sent a Republican to the Senate since Charles Mathias won his last election in 1980—and in any event, Mathias was quite liberal. Ehrlich is not.
• NH, OH, WI-Sen: NARAL is running new TV ads slamming a trio of Republican senators—Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin—for their recent votes to defund Planned Parenthood. It'll be interesting to see if this issue is still playing a real role on the campaign trail come this time next year, but since there's no word on the size of the buy, NARAL may just be seeking a press hit (for now).
• PA-Sen: As expected, Katie McGinty, who recently stepped down as Gov. Tom Wolf's chief of staff, has entered the Democratic primary for Senate. There she'll face off against ex-Rep. Joe Sestak, the party's 2010 nominee. Both are vying to take on GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, who narrowly beat Sestak five years ago.
• IN-Gov: Three Democrats are already running against GOP Gov. Mike Pence, and one of them, 2012 nominee John Gregg, even outraised the incumbent in the first half of the year, but now a fourth is considering, too. Tom Sugar, a former campaign manager and chief of staff to ex-Sen. Evan Bayh, says he's thinking about joining the field but didn't offer a timetable. While there might be some ideological space in the primary—Gregg is a fairly conservative on social issues—Sugar's devoted himself to redistricting reform in recent years and says he'd on the issue if he decides to make a bid. That's a worthy cause, but it's also not the kind of topic that tends to fire up voters.
• FL-02: Physician and businessman Neal Dunn, who recently filed paperwork to run here, will make his bid official with a formal announcement on Friday. He joins attorney Mary Thomas in the GOP primary, for the putative right to take on Democratic Rep. Gwen Graham. But with redistricting set to scramble Florida's 2nd District, it's impossible to properly handicap this race.
• FL-18: Conservative pundit Noelle Nikpour, who'd been considering a run for Congress since at least late April, has announced that she's in. Nikpour joins an incredibly crowded Republican primary for Florida's 18th Congressional District, which is open thanks to Rep. Patrick Murphy's Senate bid. But no one candidate has yet lit the world on fire or even warmed it up a touch, so Nikpour might have as good an opening as anyone. However, it's worth noting that she just moved to Florida earlier this year for the express purpose of running for Congress. Even in a state known as a top destination for migrants, that sort of carpetbagging might be a bridge too far for voters.
• LA-03, 04: Both Republican Reps. Charles Boustany and John Fleming have told their supporters that if David Vitter is elected governor this fall, they're going to run to succeed him in the Senate. It's quite possible that either congressman may back down and seek re-election if Vitter appoints someone else to his seat, but for now it looks very likely that at least one of these two districts will be open soon. Over at LA Politics, Jeremy Alford takes a look at the emerging fields in both districts.
Over in the 3rd, GOP state Rep. Brett Geymann is already in, telling Alford that he believes it will be an open seat. Alford also mentions termed-out Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel and Public Service Commissioner and current gubernatorial candidate Scott Angelle, though it's unclear how interested either Republican is (and even if Angelle actually is eyeing this seat, he's unlikely to say so as long as he's running for governor). Democrats last won a version of this seat in 2002 but this Lafayette-area seat hasn't been friendly to Team Blue in recent cycles: Romney carried it 66-32 and Bill Cassidy took it by a similar margin in last year's Senate race.
Things are a bit more unsettled in northwest Louisiana's 4th District. Caddo Parish Assistant District Attorney Jason Brown is reportedly telling people he's interested, though Brown hasn't commented publicly. There are also rumors that Mike Reese, who leads a prominent group dedicated to keeping Fort Polk open, could run. Reese describes himself as a "moderate Republican," which could pay off if he's in a runoff with a more conservative Republican, but could hamper him in a jungle primary. Alford also says that Democratic ex-Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover could jump in, though Glover may be more interested in a state Senate campaign this year.
There are plenty of other Republicans who could give this a shot if Fleming departs. Back in January, the National Journal mentioned state Reps. Mike Johnson and Alan Seabaugh, Shreveport Councilman Oliver Jenkins, and Judge Jeff Thompson as potential candidates. Democrats almost picked up this seat in 2008 but it's been safely red since then: Romney won it 59-37, while Cassidy carried it 58-42.
• MD-08: Former Montgomery County Council president Valerie Ervin just won the endorsement of Maryland Working Families, a younger cousin of New York's better-known Working Families Party. (In fact, prior to running, Ervin had worked for the New York branch.) The Democratic primary in this safely blue open seat is already quite busy, and two candidates raised over half a million bucks each last quarter, but Ervin (who waited until after the fundraising deadline to announce) could get a big boost from organized labor, which is the chief backer of the Working Families movement.
• ME-02: Ex-state Sen. Troy Jackson had been considering a second run for Maine's 2nd Congressional District, even though he sounded unlikely to go for it since the Democratic establishment had already rallied behind the woman who beat him in the primary last year, Emily Cain. Now he confirms "that ship has sailed" for good, particularly, it seems, in light of the recent entry of Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci. Jackson didn't endorse either candidate, though Roll Call says he's leaning toward Baldacci, but he also cautioned Baldacci that he didn't think his emerging campaign theme of trying to paint Cain as an outsider (she was born in Kentucky and moved to Maine for college in the 1990s) would be effective.
• MN-01: Army vet Aaron Miller, who won his party's endorsement at the GOP convention last year but lost the nomination in the primary to businessman Jim Hagedorn, has decided not to run against Democratic Rep. Tim Walz a second time. Hagedorn, who lost to Walz by a 54-46 margin, is seeking a rematch. He is the only Republican currently running.
• NY-01: The two Democrats vying for the chance to unseat freshman GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin—Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and venture capitalist Dave Calone—have both already raised half a million bucks each, so it's not surprising that a third potential candidate, Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn, has decided against a bid of her own. Roll Call's Ivan Levingston also reports that, according to two nameless sources, another would-be contender, former Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko is unlikely to run as well.
• NY-13: Democratic state Sen. Bill Perkins sounds like he's very interested in running to succeed retiring Rep. Charlie Rangel, but he didn't quite utter the magic words, saying only that he's "looking forward to replacing" the incumbent. So are a lot of other Democrats, though, such as Assemblyman Keith Wright, former Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell, and former Obama official Suzanne Johnson Cook, who, unlike Perkins, have all formally declared bids. And there are several other potential candidates, too, including state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who unsuccessfully challenged Rangel in both 2012 and 2014; Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez, who is reportedly considering a bid; and former New York City Councilman Robert Jackson.
• SD-AL: Democrats have a very difficult task ahead of them if they want to unseat Rep. Kristi Noem, but state Rep. Paula Hawks has announced that she'll take on the third-term Republican. Hawks represents a Sioux Falls-area seat that Romney carried 53-45, so she does have some experience winning on tough turf. But South Dakota hasn't been friendly to national Democrats in recent years, and Noem hasn't done much to alienate conservative voters in this red state.
• Charlotte Mayor: In a recent item on the Charlotte, North Carolina mayor's race, we misstated the candidates' cash-on-hand totals. The correct numbers, as of June 30, are:
• Interim Mayor Dan Clodfelter (D): $64,000
• Former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts (D): $205,000
• City Councilor David Howard (D): $114,000
• City Councilor Michael Barnes (D): $48,000
• Former City Councilor and 2013 nominee Edwin Peacock (R): $113,000
• 2011 nominee Scott Stone (R): $80,000
Both party primaries are on Sept. 15
. If no one takes more than 40 percent of the vote, the top two candidates will advance to an Oct. 6 runoff. The general election is Nov. 3.
• Philadelphia Mayor: The filing deadline for independent candidates passed on Monday, and the general election will remain uneventful. While former GOP nominee Sam Katz and ex-Democratic Councilor Bill Green initially flirted with independent bids and later talked about forming their own party to run for the City Council, neither of them will be on the 2015 ballot. A few of the usual assortment of Some Dudes filed to run, but it looks like Democratic nominee Jim Kenney will have nothing to worry about this November.
• San Francisco Mayor: Incumbent Ed Lee looked like he was in for a very easy re-election campaign this November, but this contest may be about to get a lot more interesting. On Tuesday, prosecutors presented evidence in federal court against Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, who is awaiting trial for racketeering. The prosecutors say that Lee was one of several local politicians whom undercover FBI agents caught taking bribes. Lee has not been charged with anything, but there's no doubt that this whole matter is incredibly ugly for the mayor.
The candidate filing deadline was back in June, and none of Lee's opponents look very credible. But the deadline for write-in candidates isn't until Oct. 20, so it may not be too late for someone serious to challenge Lee. We'll need to see if anyone steps forward, but things are suddenly a lot more exciting here.
• Deaths: Former Pennsylvania Sen. Richard Schweiker, who was mostly known as a liberal back in the days when the GOP actually had some but nevertheless agreed to serve as Ronald Reagan's running mate in 1976, died on Friday at the age of 89. Reagan's selection of Schweiker was a stunner, and the story is impeccably told in Rick Perlstein's newest book, The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan, which is a must-read for every political junkie.
Reagan's campaign manager, John Sears, proposed the idea as a desperate ploy to stave off what appeared a near-certain loss to Jerry Ford in July of '76, just ahead of the convention. The delegate count was tight, but Ford appeared to have a distinct edge, and Sears sought to shake the race up. Reagan had previously excoriated the notion of tapping a liberal for the VP slot, but Perlstein explains how Sears won him over:
The idea was to back Ford into a political corner by forcing him to announce his own pick, perchance to shake loose some conservative delegates if Ford picked a liberal, and some liberal delegates if he picked a conservative. (The presumption was that Reagan's delegates were too loyal to budge, no matter what.)
It didn't work—Ford held on and won a narrow majority of delegates—but Reagan never forgot Schweiker's loyalty, even though he picked a different number two (George H.W. Bush) for his successful presidential bid in 1980. After Schweiker retired from the Senate in 1981, Reagan appointed him to run the Department of Health and Human Services, where he presided over extensive cuts to social services. Schweiker was succeeded in the Senate by another Republican, Arlen Specter.
• Redistricting: The highest echelons of the Democratic Party seem to have finally acknowledged that the battle over the next round of redistricting will be fought years in advance and are at least signaling that they won't be caught off-guard against like they were in 2010. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee has already launched a program aimed at electing more Democratic lawmakers in key states called Advantage 2020, and now the Democratic Governors Association is stepping up for the other half of the equation—gubernatorial races—with a special fundraising effort ("Unrig the Map") that's being led by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and EMILY's List president Stephanie Schriock.
But it's easy to announce plans like this. The real question is whether the DGA can make gains in places like Michigan, Ohio, and Florida in the critical year of 2018, when voters will elect the governors who oversee congressional line drawing following the 2020 Census. McAuliffe says, "This effort is the first time the party has really taken a serious effort at winning these races," but that's just not true—Democrats tried hard last year. Can a newfound commitment (and increased fundraising) turn the tide on midterm apathy? We'll see.
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.