Democrats may be close to landing a candidate against Republican Michael Roberson (behind chair) in swingy NV-03
• NV-03: Democrats have struggled to find a viable candidate in this open 50-49 Obama seat, but the DCCC hasn't given up looking. National Democrats recently met with former Wall Street securities analyst Heather Murren, who co-founded the Nevada Cancer Institute. Murren has confirmed that she is "very seriously considering" and Sen. Harry Reid sounds excited about her, predicting that she will be a "tremendous and formidable candidate for Congress." If Democrats are going to have any shot at retaking the House anytime soon, they absolutely need to win swing seats like this.
If Murren runs, she should have access to plenty of money and connections: She's married to MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren, and Jon Ralston says she's capable of self-funding. However, her role at the Nevada Cancer Institute could cause her some trouble. The hospital closed in 2013 after years of financial difficulties, and if the GOP can find a way to tie Murren to its problems, you can bet they will. Right now, little-known attorney Jesse Sbaih is the only Democratic contender, and he recently told Ralston that he raised $100,000 and has kicked in $200,000 of his own money since he entered the race in August.
Over on the GOP side, state Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson quickly emerged as the establishment favored candidate and to absolutely no one's surprise, he's earned the endorsement of Gov. Brian Sandoval. Roberson faces wealthy perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian and conservative think tank head Andy Matthews.
• FL-Sen: It's been a long time since ex-Attorney General Bill McCollum's name has come up, but the Republican wants you to know that he's still thinking about another Senate run. McCollum earlier pledged to decide by September but he's moving his deadline further back, saying he'll likely make his choice after October but definitely before the end of 2015. McCollum still seems to be watching his three would-be primary foes to see if any of them are breaking off from the pack, and as Adam Smith points out, the upcoming quarterly campaign fundraising reports should help him make up his mind.
• IL-Sen, WI-Sen: On behalf of End Citizens United PAC, the Democratic pollster Clarity Campaign Labs surveys two of Team Blue's top pickup opportunities. In Illinois, they give Democrat Tammy Duckworth a 45-41 lead against GOP incumbent Mark Kirk. There hasn't been too much public polling here but the margin is similar to the 42-36 Duckworth edge PPP found in July.
Over in Wisconsin, Clarity finds Democrat Russ Feingold leading GOP Sen. Ron Johnson 47-39. The Badger State has been getting a bit more polling love and all released polls have given Feingold a clear lead. In fact, a recent Marquette survey that found Feingold up 47-42 actually represents his low water mark.
• NH-Sen, Gov: Until this week, Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan and the GOP legislature were locked in a stalemate over the budget, and Hassan said she wouldn't decide on her 2016 plans until it was resolved. But Hassan and GOP leaders announced a compromise on Tuesday and it cleared the legislature the next day despite some conservative opposition. We should know soon whether Hassan will challenge GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte or seek re-election next year, though Hassan hasn't said when she expects to make an announcement.
• IN-Gov: GOP Gov. Mike Pence may have been hoping that his popularity would rebound as voters gradually forgot about this spring's Religious Freedom Restoration Act debacle but so far, it's not happening. Howey Politics reports that unreleased campaign surveys paint a pretty ugly picture for Pence: His statewide re-elect numbers are "in the low 30 percent" area, and his approval rating is underwater.
Pence and legislative Republicans are reportedly trying to put the RFRA matter behind them once and for all by adding sexual orientation to the state's civil rights code, though any legislation wouldn't pass until the legislature meets again in January. The GOP's hope is that they can then direct voters' attention to the economy just in time for Pence's re-election.
But plenty of influential Republicans still sound concerned about Pence's prospects next year against Democrat John Gregg. Howey Politics says that state House Speaker Brian Bosma was approached by unidentified Republicans about a possible primary campaign against Pence. Bosma hasn't commented on what happened, but Bosma reportedly was "hearing out" worried Republicans. It doesn't sound like Bosma is actually interested in taking on Pence, though this kind of chatter doesn't do much to dispel the idea that the incumbent is in serious trouble. Indiana is a conservative state and Pence may yet hold onto the governor's office, but none of this should have Republicans feeling good about next year.
• KY-Gov: The RGA is out with another spot and like almost all their ads, they tie Democrat Jack Conway to Obama. This commercial stars a coal miner demonizing Obamacare and cap and trade, before praising Republican Matt Bevin. Bevin has been strangely reluctant to air his own ads so far (and he only bothered to hire a communications director 49 days before the election), and outside groups like the RGA have been the ones tasked to do his dirty work for him. There hasn't been a public poll released here in over a month, so we don't know if Bevin's silent strategy is doing him any real harm.
• ND-Gov: No notable Republicans have entered the race for this open seat yet, but state Sen. Tom Campbell recently formed an exploratory committee. Campbell insists that he's still deciding, but he's hired a pollster to assess his chances.
Several other Peace Garden State Republicans are also eyeing this contest. State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt said last week that she's seriously considering. Columnist Mike Jacobs describes Schmidt as someone who doesn't have much of a political base but who hasn't burned any bridges, and notes that her gender could help her stand out. The two heavy hitters in the party are Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, though they reportedly won't run against each other. Wealthy businessman Doug Burgum has also talked about campaigning as either a Republican or an independent.
• NH-Gov: Several Democrats have left the door open to running for governor if incumbent Maggie Hassan leaves to challenge GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte, and Portsmouth Councilor Stefany Shaheen acknowledged that she's interested on Thursday. Shaheen says that unnamed people have asked her to run and that she "told the folks that asked me that I would think about it." Normally, a city councilor from New Hampshire's 13th largest municipality wouldn't sound like a serious contender, but Shaheen comes from a powerful family. Her mother is Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (who served as governor for six years), and her father, Bill Shaheen, is also a powerful force in Granite State politics.
• AZ-01: Former GOP state Sen. Tom O'Halleran, who came close to returning to the legislature last year as an independent, announced last month that he would seek this open swing seat as a Democrat. O'Halleran is aware that he needs to make inroads with his new party: He hired a former Democratic state party chair to run his campaign and on Thursday, he earned an endorsement from former Attorney General Terry Goddard, who was the party's 1990 and 2010 gubernatorial nominee. O'Halleran currently faces no serious primary opposition, but state Sen. Barbara McGuire has formed an exploratory committee and said that O'Halleran's campaign wouldn't deter her from running.
• CA-17: Last cycle, the Democratic establishment almost universally rallied behind Rep. Mike Honda, with intra-party challenger Ro Khanna only earning the backing of Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. But Khanna just picked up an endorsement from state Senate leader Kevin de León for his repeat bid. Honda recently attracted some bad headlines after the House Ethics Committee said they had "substantial reason to believe" that Honda had improperly used government staff and resources for campaign purposes. It remains to be seen if the story will convince other prominent Democrats to stay away from Honda or side with Khanna, or if de León is an isolated example.
• DE-AL: On Thursday, Democratic state Sen. Bryan Townsend announced that he would run to succeed incumbent John Carney, who is seeking the governorship. State Rep. Bryon Short has also been making noises about getting in, and there are plenty of other First State Democrats who might be interested in running for Delaware's only House district.
• MD-08: The crowded Democratic primary got a little more roomy on Thursday as former Montgomery County Councilor Valerie Ervin dropped out of the race. Ervin, who had been relying on labor support, entered the contest in July, but her heart doesn't seem to have been in it: Bethesda Magazine says she's been "largely invisible on the campaign trail." Ervin was refreshingly honest about why she decided to call it quits though, saying she just hasn't been raising enough money.
Ervin shared a similar geographic base with state Sen. Jamie Raskin, so he may be the one to benefit the most from her departure. Ervin's decision leaves former Obama administration official Will Jawando as the only African American in the contest, but he's struggled with fundraising too and may not be able to take advantage of the opportunity. Three other notable Democrats are also running: Dels. Kumar Barve and Ana Sol Gutierrez, and former hotel executive Kathleen Matthews. The winner of the Democratic primary will have no trouble holding this safely blue suburban D.C. seat.
• MI-01: Rep. Dan Benishek's surprising retirement announcement has several northern Michigan Republicans mulling this race, and we can add another name to the pile. Freshman state Rep. Lee Chatfield says that while he's focusing on his job in the legislature, "my phone has been ringing off the hook since early (Tuesday) morning."
• MN-02: Former state Sen. John Howe is the latest Republican to openly consider running to succeed retiring Rep. John Kline in this suburban swing seat. Howe says that he's "been contacted by numerous people to run, so I am seriously weighing the options." Howe's recent electoral history is not impressive. Howe lost his state Senate seat 52-47 even as Romney was carrying the district 50-48, and he dropped out of last year's secretary of state race after he didn't earn the party endorsement at the convention. It does sound like Howe has some money though, and he says he'll decide early next week.
• NY-19: Former GOP Assembly Leader John Faso kicked off his campaign for this open swing seat earlier this week, but so far he's not scaring off his potential primary rivals. Assemblyman Peter Lopez, who worked as a district office director for Faso, reaffirmed that he's still considering, and that he hopes to make announcement in a few weeks. Fellow Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin also says he's still deciding but sounds likely to get in, arguing that this will be an anti-establishment cycle and that "[i]f there's anybody considering the race or in the race on either side that is more anti-establishment than me, I haven't seen that person yet."
• TX-19: On Thursday, Republican Rep. Randy Neugebauer announced that he would not seek re-election in 2016. This Texas Panhandle seat, which includes Lubbock and Abilene, backed Romney 74-26, and there's no doubt that Team Red will hold it. The last time Team Blue made a serious try for this district was 2004, when longtime conservative Democratic Rep. Charles Stenholm was thrown into the same seat as Neugebauer by Tom DeLay and his allies: Neugebauer won the incumbent vs. incumbent matchup 58 to 40. Neugebauer's had a quiet career since then, aside from that time he called then-Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak a "baby killer" in 2010.
There are a plethora of Republicans who could run here (Neugebauer beat ten Republicans to win his seat in the 2003 special) and we'll see some names over the coming days and weeks. One person worth watching is Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson, who considered challenging Neugebauer early this year. Robertson ended up backing down, but he may have second thoughts now that this is an open seat.
• VA-05: Republican Rep. Robert Hurt has looked safe ever since he unseated Tom Perriello in 2010 but at 53-46 Romney, a Democratic upset isn't completely impossible in this seat. Albemarle County Supervisor Jane Dittmar has announced that she'll give it a shot, and she joins former Perriello staffer Ericke Cage in the Democratic primary. Albemarle, which surrounds the college town of Charlottesville, is one of the more Democratic areas of this seat, so Dittmar has yet to demonstrate much crossover appeal. This district, which stretches down to the North Carolina border, won't be easy to flip: Even as Ralph Northam was defeating E.W. Jackson 55-45 in the 2013 lieutenant governor race, he still lost this seat 51-49.
• Bridgeport, CT Mayor: Move over Buddy Cianci, there's another New England mayor-turned-convict making a comeback. On Wednesday, former Mayor Joe Ganim defeated two-term incumbent Bill Finch in the Democratic primary. Ganim spent seven years in prison after he was convicted of steering city contracts in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of perks, including expensive wine. But there are plenty of fond memories from Ganim's time in office, and he's often credited with revitalizing the city in the 1990s. The police union, which has come into conflict with Finch over staffing levels, was also ironically a solid base of support for Ganim. Bridgeport is heavily Democratic city but this contest isn't over: Finch is running in November on a third party line.
• Demographics: You might be familiar with the map of where the country's population midpoint is located. The center has steadily marched westward and slightly southward over the centuries, starting in Maryland in 1790 and moving to Missouri today. However, you've probably never seen maps of the nation's population midpoint calculated for a number of different subgroups like whites, Hispanics, senior citizens, or males.
The male midpoint is slightly to the west of the female midpoints, which reflects the slightly lopsided male-to-female ratio in places like Alaska. Similarly, the younger you are, the more likely you are to be in the West or South: The midpoint for children is in Illinois, and the midpoint for senior citizens is in Indiana. Even more interesting are the various midpoints for the various races. For African Americans, the midpoint is in Kentucky, and has moved south in the last decade. This is reflective of the Great Re-migration as Northeastern blacks increasingly move to the South, with the Atlanta area a common destination.
The Hispanic midpoint has moved eastward quite a bit, as more Hispanics settle in the South as well: It was in the Texas Panhandle in 2000, and now is in Oklahoma. The Asian midpoint, however, has moved the most of all in that same timeframe, from Colorado in 2000 to Kansas now, as Asians filter out from the West Coast and increasingly live in Northeastern metro areas. The white midpoint has stayed pretty much stationary, though, in Indiana (not coincidentally, not too far from the senior citizens' midpoint).
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir and Jeff Singer, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, and Stephen Wolf.