Redistricting may turn GOP Rep. Daniel Webster's heavily Republican seat into a safely blue district
• FL Redistricting: On Wednesday, Florida Republicans released a proposed new congressional map to comply with the state Supreme Court's ruling that invalidated the current lines as unconstitutional. Lawmakers won't actually reconvene until Monday, and this map could very well change before it's passed into law (it's also possible we'll see other proposals, too), but we couldn't help ourselves and had to take a look. This spreadsheet, using data from the legislature's MyDistrictBuilder tool, compares the 2012 presidential results for the current and proposed lines, broken down by congressional district, so that you can see who's happy and who's screwed.
Overall, Democrats would stand a chance at netting one seat, picking up FL-10 (Dan Webster is just hosed) and FL-13 (which is open), while losing FL-02 (which would become just as red as we predicted—brutally so). However, that would require the party hold on to Patrick Murphy's FL-18, which wouldn't change materially but would still be a 52-48 Romney district.
But there are other pickup opportunities for Democrats: John Mica's FL-07 would be perfectly split between Obama and Romney, while the open FL-06 would turn into a 52-47 Romney district—winnable with some luck. And though Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has been a very stubborn target in FL-27, her seat would get bluer, too, winding up at 54-45 Obama. (The price for that, though, is freshman Carlos Curbelo's FL-26 getting a couple of points redder.)
Aside from Graham, the rest of Florida's House Democrats wouldn't get hurt much. As expected, Kathy Castor's FL-14 would get considerably redder (because FL-13 got bluer), but it would still be safely Dem. Alan Grayson's FL-09 would also become more Republican at 56-43 Obama (FL-10 is the beneficiary), and given how he underperformed the president last year, he theoretically could jeopardize this seat were he running for re-election. But if there's a silver lining to his Senate bid, it's that we wouldn't be leaving the defense of this seat in his hands.
In all, the map represents an improvement for Democrats, but how could it not? The existing lines were gerrymandered by the GOP to maximize every partisan advantage. It's very possible that Florida's 17 R, 10 D delegation wouldn't budge at all—this in a state Barack Obama carried twice. Democrats would have to run the table to equalize the map, and even then, they'd be left with some very difficult seats to defend heading into the 2018 midterms. So yes, Team Blue would be better off, but this is no Redistmas.
• AZ-Sen, 09: Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema never publicly ruled out challenging Republican Sen. John McCain, but a Senate bid has looked unlikely ever since she learned that her light blue seat wouldn't be gerrymandered out from under her. And sure enough, an unnamed source tells Roll Call's Eli Yokley that Sinema has made it clear that "barring John McCain not being the Republican nominee, she will not be running for Senate."
McCain is running for re-election and so far only faces a weak primary challenge from state Sen. Kelli Ward so unless something very unexpected happens, he's going to be the GOP nominee. Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick is already running, so the DSCC probably won't be too devastated if Sinema sits this out. Neither will the DCCC for that matter: Sinema's suburban Phoenix seat backed Obama only 51-47, and it'll be easier to defend with her. Of course, there's nothing stopping Sinema from running against GOP Sen. Jeff Flake or for governor in 2018, so Team Blue may need to find another candidate here before too long.
• IL-Sen: Well, this is unexpected. Democratic Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin has announced that he'll form an exploratory committee for a potential campaign against GOP Sen. Mark Kirk, and says he'll announce if he'll run in early September. Until now, we've had no hints that Boykin was at all interested in this seat.
If Boykin gets in, he's not going to have a good opening in the primary. Rep. Tammy Duckworth has been raising real money and has the backing of the DSCC and other national Democrats. Former Chicago Urban League head Andrea Zopp is also in and she already faces tough odds against Duckworth (a recent PPP poll gave Duckworth an early 59-10 lead in the primary). Like Zopp, Boykin is an African American from Chicago, and neither of them can afford to split this critical voting block if they want to beat Duckworth.
• PA-Sen: Fresh off announcing her campaign for Senate earlier this week, Democrat Katie McGinty has earned a notable endorsement: The United Steelworkers, still an important force in Pennsylvania, have given her their backing. McGinty faces ex-Rep. Joe Sestak in the primary.
• LA-Gov, LG, AG: Republican pollster Triumph Campaigns takes another look at the Oct. 24 jungle primary for Louisiana's big three statewide offices. Remember that in the Pelican State, the top two vote-getters will advance to a November runoff unless one candidate takes a majority in October.
We'll start with the gubernatorial contest, with Triumph's mid-July numbers in parentheses:
• Sen. David Vitter (R): 33 (32)
• State Rep. John Bel Edwards (D): 32 (31)
• Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle (R): 12 (13)
• Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne (R): 11 (12)
Next up is the lieutenant governor's race, where we don't have any recent trend lines:
• East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden (D): 28
• Ex-Plaquemines Parish President and 2011 candidate Billy Nungesser (R): 24
• Jefferson Parish President John Young (R): 21
• State Sen. Elbert Guillory (R): 5
Finally, we have a look at the attorney general contest:
• Attorney General Buddy Caldwell (R): 31
• Ex-Rep. Jeff Landry (R): 25
• Attorney Ike Jackson (D): 22
• Attorney Martin Maley (R): 4
: Disaster struck for Mississippi Democrats on Tuesday night, when an ultra-Some Dude named Robert Gray managed to win the party's nomination for governor
. Gray is a truck driver and retired firefighter who spent no money and admitted that he didn't even bother to vote for himself
in the primary. Yet despite being utterly unknown, he took 51 percent, while attorney Vicki Slater, who had the backing of whatever remains of the Democratic establishment, wound up with just 30 percent. (Physician Valerie Short finished with 19.)
No one knows how Gray might have managed this, but it's reminiscent of the bizarre case of Alvin Greene, an unemployed veteran who somehow pulled together the $10,000 filing fee necessary to run for Senate in South Carolina, then blew past former state Rep. Vic Rawl in the Democratic primary back in 2010. Greene, who was invisible on the campaign trail until his unlikely win, became best-known for his unorthodox ideas on stimulating the economy. ("Another thing we can do for jobs is make toys of me, especially for the holidays. Little dolls. Me. Like maybe little action dolls. Me in an army uniform, air force uniform, and me in my suit.") He was, naturally, destroyed in the general election.
Of course, Mississippi Democrats had no prayer of beating GOP Gov. Phil Bryant this fall; that wasn't the point. Rather, the party is concerned about protecting their lone statewide office-holder, Attorney General Jim Hood, and their one member of Mississippi's Public Service Commission, Brandon Presley, plus all the Democrats in the state legislature. With a non-candidate at the top of the ticket, that job just became a lot harder. Nevada Democrats got flattened at every level last year because they lacked a real option in the governor's race; the same thing could happen in the Magnolia State this year.
Now, no one disputes that the fortunes of Mississippi Democrats have long been on the wane, and the party is not poised for a comeback any decade soon. But before you say, "This is Mississippi—what does it matter?", consider this: After Hurricane Katrina, Hood went to war against big insurance companies who were refusing to pay out victims and won hundreds of millions. A decade later, he's still pursuing the fight. Can you imagine a Republican doing that?
So even if we can't win a high-profile Senate seat or state legislative chamber here, this is a reminder of why it's still important for progressives to try to elect Democrats at every level. Gray may have hurt the party's chances, but hopefully Hood will still hang on this fall.
• NV-Gov, 02: It's been clear for a while that GOP Rep. Mark Amodei's heart just isn't in Congress anymore. Amodei showed no interest in running for the Senate this cycle, and he famously missed a critical trade vote in June to head back to Nevada early. While Amodei has confirmed that he'll seek re-election next year, he's making it clear that he wants to run for governor in 2018.
Amodei didn't commit to anything and says that he won't challenge GOP Sen. Dean Heller if Heller tries to succeed termed-out Gov. Brian Sandoval. (This is the first we've heard about Heller running for governor rather than for re-election in 2018). But Amodei says he's willing to run against anyone else. Amodei has also expressed interest in running for state attorney general, though he did rule out facing Republican incumbent Adam Laxalt. Amodei's northern Nevada House seat backed Romney 53-45, and it should be safe for Team Red in a midterm absent a Democratic wave.
• AZ-01: Democratic state Sen. Barbara McGuire, who's been looking at a bid for Arizona's open 1st District ever since the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the state's independent redistricting commission, says she's undeterred by former state Sen. Tom O'Halleran's entry into the race this week and is still "seriously" considering a run. Unsurprisingly, McGuire tells the National Journal that she thinks O'Halleran's party-switching past—he served in the legislature as a Republican, then made an unsuccessful comeback as an independent last year and only now joined the Democrats—would be an issue in a primary. However, she did not offer a timetable about her own decision.
• KY Auditor: Jesse Benton, a high-profile Kentucky GOP operative, was indicted on Wednesday. Federal prosecutors have accused Benton of being part of a scheme to bribe ex-Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson in order to secure his endorsement for Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign. Benton is close to Kentucky Sen. and 2016 presidential candidate Rand Paul as well: Benton managed his 2010 victory and runs Paul's super PAC, and he's married to Paul's niece. Benton also served as Sen. Mitch McConnell's campaign manager for most of the 2014 campaign cycle but resigned after the FBI started investigating him.
Benton is currently the campaign manager for state Rep. Mike Harmon, who is trying to unseat Democratic state Auditor Adam Edelen this November. Edelen has been mentioned as a potential candidate against Rand Paul next year, and Benton may have gotten involved to help take him down early. This whole matter probably isn't going to hurt Harmon directly: Voters didn't care about Benton last year, and they probably won't this fall. But Harmon can't be happy to have his campaign manager distracted or replaced this late in the game.
• Specials Elections: Johnny Longtorso updates us on Tuesday night's races, one of which provided some big news:
Pennsylvania HD-87: Republicans retained this seat; Greg Rothman defeated Democrat Bob Charles by a 61-39 margin.
Pennsylvania HD-161: The Republican split helped the Democrats to pick up this seat. Democrat Leanne Krueger-Braneky defeated Republican Paul Mullen by a 48-42 margin, with write-ins (almost all of which presumably went to Republican Lisa Esler) pulling in the remaining 10 percent.
The HD-161 race was a huge win for Democrats—local media are calling it an upset
. Team Blue is still in a sizable hole in the state House, but this victory gets them one seat closer. That could be crucial if 2016 winds up being a strong Democratic year.
• WATN?: Here's a very happy entry for the "Where Are They Now?" files: Former Pennsylvania Rep. Patrick Murphy (aka Patrick Murphy 1.0 aka Original Recipe Patrick Murphy aka Patrick Murphy Classic) has just been nominated by Barack Obama to serve as Under Secretary of the Army, which is the branch's second-highest ranking civilian position. Murphy was a "Fighting Dem" who beat GOP Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick in the Philadelphia suburbs in 2006, then lost to him four years later. Murphy also made an unsuccessful bid for Pennsylvania Attorney General in 2012, losing in the primary.
The netroots have always been enthusiastic about Murphy, so it's great to see him land such an important job, especially one that will keep him involved in public service and perhaps inspire him to return to elective politics one day. We also have it on good authority that he's a regular reader of the Daily Kos Elections Digest, so we know he has good sense, too! And here's a bit of trivia: Murphy would serve under Army Secretary John McHugh, a one-time House colleague whose appointment set off the crazy Dede Scozzafava special election in upstate New York back in 2009.
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.