Illinois Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski
• IL-03: Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski is one of the worst Democrats—very possibly the worst—in the House: Among other things, he voted against Obamacare from the right, he's reliably anti-choice, and he's hostile to gay rights. But that thumbnail sketch doesn't fully convey just how awful Lipinski truly is in his heart. What follows will.
According to a 2014 candidate questionnaire put out by the conservative Illinois Family Institute and just unearthed by the Washington Blade, Lipinski supports an amendment to the constitution that would outlaw same-sex marriage. Lipinski's campaign, when asked for comment, did not dispute the accuracy of the questionnaire, nor did it say that Lipinski's views have since changed.
It's pretty stunning that in 2015, there's even one Democrat left in Congress who wants to overturn the constitutional right to marriage for every adult American, regardless of sexual orientation. Even West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, an opponent of same-sex marriage, has said we "must respect and abide by the Supreme Court's decision."
What's really insulting is that Lipinski represents a solidly blue district in the Chicago area that Obama won by 56-43 margin, so Democrats can and should do better. Pathetically, the establishment has long propped up Lipinski, even going so far as to remove the home a potential primary challenger from his district back in 2011. (Lipinski's father, Bill, was also a congressman; he handed his seat to his son years ago by retiring after the filing deadline.)
But that state of affairs needs to change, and it needs to change next year. There's still time for progressives to find someone to take the fight to Lipinski. We can't afford to have someone this hateful in our ranks, and it's long past time we got rid of him.
• IL-Sen: Democratic state Sen. Napoleon Harris has been considering challenging GOP incumbent Mark Kirk since at least February, but he's done little to actually prepare for a campaign. However, WLS reports that Harris "plans to enter the race." Harris hasn't said anything to that effect, but he did show up at a Wednesday Cook County Democratic Party endorsement meeting to present himself as an alternative to announced candidates Tammy Duckworth and Andrea Zopp. (The group ended up voting to remain neutral.)
Like Zopp, Harris is an African American from Chicago, and he could do some damage to her already-uphill campaign if he gets in. Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin recently formed an exploratory committee and if both he and Harris jumped in, Duckworth's chances will look even better. But there is some speculation that Boykin is actually preparing to succeed possibly-retiring Rep. Danny Davis, and is only using the Senate race to raise some early money before Davis makes his decision. Harris' state Senate seat is contained in other districts, so it's very unlikely that he's trying a similar maneuver.
• MD-Sen: Well, this is unexpected. While Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings never ruled out a Senate bid, he spent months doing nothing to prepare for one and it looked very likely that he'd sit it out. But the Washington Post reports that Cummings has hired a major Democratic Senate fundraiser, which definitely raised some eyebrows. Cummings holds a safely blue seat and has no primary challengers in sight, so he wouldn't need to raise real money unless he's serious about a statewide campaign.
If Cummings gets in, he'll face fellow Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards in the primary. Both current candidates hail from the D.C. suburbs while Cummings comes from Baltimore City, so geography could give him the edge. Cummings won widespread praise for his role during Baltimore's recent unrest, so he definitely wouldn't struggle for name recognition in this critical area. Indeed, a recent Edwards poll gave Cummings a 65-9 statewide favorable rating among primary voters, far ahead of either Van Hollen or Edwards' score. However, Edwards would be the lone woman in a three-way race while Van Hollen would be the only white candidate, so this contest could develop in some unexpected ways.
It's still far from guaranteed that Cummings will get in: Florida GOP Rep. Jeff Miller spent months staffing up for a Senate campaign before unexpectedly announcing that he would stay out. But Cummings would definitely shake this contest up, and he's worth watching.
• Senate: Just a day ago, we took note of a stunning figure from Ohio's Senate race: the $9 million that GOP Sen. Rob Portman and Republican groups have already spent on his race. But it's not just the Buckeye State: According to Roll Call's Emily Cahn, Republicans have shelled out at least $13.3 million on TV and online ads so far, compared to just $1.9 million by the same point last cycle. (That Ohio number was from the Cleveland Plain-Dealer and might include things other than advertisements.) Republicans are playing much more defense this time, and unfortunately we don't have comparable data for Democrats, but it sure is getting late early around here.
• KY-Gov: Democrat Jack Conway is out with the first of what will be many negative spots against Republican foe Matt Bevin. Conway's ad features a clip of Bevin saying he has "no tax delinquency problem, nor have I ever," with the narrator jumping to claim that Bevin's company was "named the number one tax delinquent in the region."
• LA-Gov: Republican Sen. David Vitter has been stockpiling his $5 million warchest throughout the entire race, and he's finally launching his ad campaign two months before the jungle primary. Vitter's opening spot stars David Vitter alongside... David Vitter. The first Vitter stands behind the state capitol as gloomy clouds role in, talking about the problems the state is facing. The second Vitter stands in a colorful park and highlights his plans for a "much brighter tomorrow." Subtle, this ad is not.
Until now, Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle has had the airwaves to himself, and he's out with yet another spot. This one features Angelle calling for ramping up technical schools and community colleges in order to put more Louisianans to work.
Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards has not run any major spots yet, but he may be about to get some much-needed outside help. VoteVets, a group dedicated to electing Democratic veterans, recently endorsed Edwards, who served as an Army paratrooper. VoteVets hasn't announced any ad buys yet, but they've proven that they're willing to spend big to help their friends.
• VT-Gov: As expected, state House Speaker Shap Smith formally launched his campaign for governor on Wednesday, making him the first Democrat and first candidate overall to officially enter the race. Several other members of both parties are considering bids as well. Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin is retiring rather than seeking a fourth two-year term.
• FL-10: State Sen. Geraldine Thompson, who recently expressed interest in a congressional bid, announced on Wednesday that she intends to run for Florida's 10th District. Thompson says she's waiting for the legislature to wrap up its special session on redistricting, so presumably, she'll only enter the race if the 10th gets refashioned into a safely Democratic seat, as expected.
If all goes according to plan, that would set up a big showdown in the primary with former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings, who previously ran here in 2012. GOP Rep. Daniel Webster, the current incumbent, may not seek re-election, as he's acknowledged he wouldn't be able to win in the proposed new version of this seat.
• FL-13: Former Obama Administration official Eric Lynn has repeatedly made it clear that he's not going to drop out of the race even if former Gov. Charlie Crist enters the Democratic primary, and he's backing up his talk with hires. Lynn recently signed on Obama campaign veterans Bill Burton and Anita Dunn as media consultants, and he's also recruited Sen. Bill Nelson's pollster Dave Beattie and Tom Alte, who served as finance director for Rick Kriseman's successful 2013 campaign for mayor of St. Petersburg.
While Crist hasn't officially declared that he's in, he has said that he's running if his home is contained in FL-13 after redistricting is completed, and there's little doubt that will happen. Lynn amassed a solid $383,000 warchest before redistricting drove Republican Rep. David Jolly out of this contest and drove Crist in, but a recent poll gave Crist a massive edge in the primary.
• NE-02, CA-52, MN-08: The NRCC is up with a few silly-season TV ads: spots backed by very small buys designed chiefly to garner media attention, not influence voters. The three Democrats they're targeting are Brad Ashford (NE-02), Scott Peters (CA-52), and Rick Nolan (MN-08). The Ashford ad tries to paint him as weak on national security, and the others apparently do as well. This may be a preview of attacks to come, or it may be nothing at all.
• PA-02: Attorney Dan Muroff, who recently filed paperwork with the FEC, has officially launched a challenge to indicted Rep. Chaka Fattah in the Democratic primary. Fattah was charged with various counts of corruption last month, but he's vowed not only to stay in office but to seek a 12th term next year. Muroff is politically well-connected but does not have any elective experience. He's also white, while Fattah is black, as is a majority (58 percent) of Pennsylvania's 2nd District.
But given the crimes he's accused of committing, any loyalty to Fattah will be severely tested. Of course, there's always the possibility that Fattah could get rescued by the clown car if a whole bunch of opponents jump in, but even that might not be enough to save him now.
• Toledo Mayor: Slowly but surely, this fall's special election is taking shape. Last week, Republican-turned independent Councilor Sandy Spang announced that she would run. Spang has the support of Republican Councilor Rob Ludeman, who mulled his own campaign here.
Spang will face interim Democratic Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson, former independent Mayor Mike Bell, and independent Sandy Drabik Collins, the widow of the late Mayor Mike Collins and a former aide to Gov. George Voinovich. Former Democratic Mayor Carty Finkbeiner also looks likely to jump in before the Sept. 4 filing deadline. All the candidates will face off on one non-partisan November ballot, and the person with the most votes will serve out the final two years of Collins' term.
• Deaths: On Tuesday, former Democratic Rep. Lou Stokes died at the age of 90. Stokes, who was Ohio's first African American congressman, served in the House from 1969 until he retired in 1999. Stokes is perhaps best known for his role in founding the Congressional Black Caucus during his second term and as the chair of the House Select Committee on Assassination, which investigated the deaths of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Stokes was also the brother and close political ally of Carl Stokes, whose 1967 election in Cleveland made him the first black mayor of a major U.S. city.
• Demographics: One possible interpretation of the Dems' bad results in 2014 was that their core constituencies didn't turn out, compared with presidential-year turnout. The Census Bureau's look back at the 2014 election—released in July, but now made punchier thanks to some additional graphs from the Washington Post's Philip Bump—suggests that's only partly true. The 2014 electorate was just as diverse as the 2008 electorate, it turns out; in both elections, 23.7 percent of the electorate was non-white. That reflects the ongoing rapid diversification of the country in general. So what went wrong in 2014?
The main problem was that the 2014 electorate was much older than the 2008 electorate: the share of the 2014 electorate occupied by persons 65 or older was 8.3 percent larger than their share of the entire population (that gap was only 5.3 percent in 2006, the last midterm that wasn't a GOP wave). The share of the 2014 electorate occupied by persons aged 18-34 was 13.2 percent less than their share of the entire population (that gap grew from 11.6 percent in 2006). Unless Democrats can find a way to reverse the midterm turnout problem among young voters, the nation's other big demographic trend—the country becoming older as well as more diverse—is just going to keep pushing presidential and midterm election results in different directions.
• Maps: This is stellar: Alec Rajeev, a student and budding data scientist, has created an interactive version of Daniel Donner's acclaimed congressional district hexmap. You can fully appreciate what Rajeev has done by checking out this link: Mousing over any district will give you that seat's racial breakdown, or you can choose to view each racial group separately. (Doing so puts middle America's whiteness into very stark relief.)
This is just a start, and we plan to work with Rajeev to make more data sets available, such as presidential election results by congressional district. For the technically inclined, Rajeev has made his code available, and because we released the original map under a Creative Commons license, all derivative works that build on it are publicly available under the same license.
• President-by-LD: With Florida about to redraw its congressional and state Senate seats, we're taking a look at the 2014 statewide elections under the current lines.
We have the results calculated by state House (which isn't changing), state Senate, and congressional districts for governor, state agriculture commissioner, attorney general, chief financial officer, and Amendment 2, which would have legalized medical marijuana. A major thank you goes to Matthew Isbell of MCI Maps for helping us track down precinct changes from 2012 to 2014. If you've been following Florida's new round of redistricting you're probably familiar with Isbell's work, and we'll all undoubtedly be turning to him again as the new lines are drawn.
We also have the 2012 presidential and U.S. Senate race calculated. We made a few minor fixes to SD-23 and SD-39 for both 2012 races, and to FL-01 and FL-02 for the Senate contest, but very little changes. You can find our master list of states here. Also be sure to check out Stephen Wolf's interactive state legislative maps.
The banner 2014 race was the duel between Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democrat Charlie Crist, which Scott won 48-47. Crist carried the very same 11 congressional districts as Obama, but only outperformed the president in 12 of the 27 seats. Crist's biggest improvement over Obama was in FL-13, which he carried 50-43 to Obama's 50-49. FL-13 is all-but-certain to get even bluer after redistricting, and Crist has announced that he'll run for the seat if his home is located in the new version of the district (which is also all-but-certain).
Crist's biggest underperformance was in FL-09, which he only carried 53-42 to Obama's 62-37. It's unclear how redistricting will reshape this open Orlando-area seat, but Team Blue will need to be on guard for midterm turnout drops here. At the state Senate level, Crist carried 16 of the 40 seats, losing three Obama districts while taking one Romney seat. Crist also took 54 of the 120 state House seats, trading eight Obama districts for seven Romney ones.
Republican incumbents easily won re-election in the other statewide offices so there's not too much to see, but Amendment 2 is worth a look. The yes side (pro-legalizing medical marijuana) took 58 percent of the vote, just short of the 60 percent it needed to pass. Yes won more votes than no in 26 of the 27 congressional districts, with no prevailing only in Mario Diaz-Balart's FL-25. However, yes only cleared 60 in nine seats. Romney only carried one seat where yes took at least 60: FL-02, which is currently represented by Democrat Gwen Graham.
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.