Departing Speaker John Boehner
• OH-08: So yeah, that happened—John Boehner's resigning. He's the first speaker of the House to depart mid-term since Newt Gingrich successfully stoked the book-buying "scandal" that forced out Democrat Jim Wright in 1989, and the first ever, we believe, to quit mid-term for no reason other than to work on his golf game. While about 85 percent of the commentary so far has been just "holy #*$%!," and most of the balance has focused on what will happen in the ranks of the House GOP leadership, there's a tiny sliver of folks interested in the electoral ramifications of Boehner's arrivederci maneuver. If you are, too, then you're one of us.
Unfortunately for special election fans, Boehner's congressional district—Ohio's 8th, tucked into the southwestern corner of the state along the border with Indiana, just north of Cincinnati—is safely Republican, having gone for Mitt Romney by a 62-36 margin in 2012. But that means we could see a competitive, perhaps even explosive, intra-GOP battle to succeed The Great Orange One. Indeed, according to Roll Call's Emily Cahn, that primary would likely coincide with next year's presidential primary, so turnout should be a lot higher than usual.
The GOP bench is deep here and while Boehner's announcement caught everyone off guard, it didn't take long for his would-be successors to start making plans. Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones has shown the most excitement so far, and he's probably the Republican that Boehner would least like to see take over this district. Jones flirted with challenging Boehner in the 2010 primary and he hasn't become any more friendly to the establishment since then: Jones bragged to the National Journal that "[m]ost of the time I spend fighting with the establishment and my record proves that." Jones is also well-known for his hardline stances on immigration, and he once put up signs outside the county jail saying "Illegal Aliens Here." About half of the district is in Butler County, so Jones would have a good base of support if he gets in. The sheriff said on Friday that he expects to decide within the next two weeks.
But Jones is far from the only Republican making noises about running here. Head below the fold to find out who else is eyeing this seat.
Ex-Rep. Steve Austria said on Friday that he's "going to let the dust settle, and then I'm going to sit down with my family, friends and elected officials and determine if it's the right option." Austria was a member of the class of 2008 who found himself without a chair when the music stopped following redistricting: Boehner, in fact, deliberately sacrificed Austria's seat to create a Democratic vote sink in Columbus, thereby protecting the rest of Ohio's Republican delegation. Only about 19 percent of Boehner's seat was carved out of Austria's old Columbus-area district, and his opponents wouldn't hesitate to portray him as a carpetbagger. (Austria doesn't live in OH-08, but says he'd look at moving there if he runs.) Austria does have $219,000 left in his campaign account, so he'd have a bit of a head start on fundraising.
State Rep. Tim Derickson also says he's "seriously considering," and that he'll decide in the next week. The Cincinnati Enquirer says that Derickson, who is termed out, would likely have the support of state House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger. Ex-state Rep. Ross McGregor is mulling a bid, though the self-described moderate wouldn't have an easy time in a GOP primary. Ex-state Rep. Seth Morgan, who heads the prominent Conservative Republican Leadership Committee, also hasn't said no.
We also have public interest from West Chester Twp. Trustee and longtime Boehner friend George Lang, while Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds and state Rep. Wes Retherford haven't ruled anything out. Several sources have mentioned state Senate President Keith Faber; state Sens. Bill Coley, Chris Widener, and Bill Beagle; and former state Sen. Gary Cates as potential candidates, though they haven't said anything about their plans. USA Today's Gregory Korte cites unspecified "buzz" that Faber could "inherit" Boehner's seat, and it's certainly possible the establishment could rally around a single candidate. But it sounds like insurgents like Jones aren't going to let Boehner and his allies freeze them out.
J.D. Winteregg, who challenged Boehner in the 2014 primary, was already seeking a rematch, and he's made it clear he's not quitting. Winteregg lost 72-23 and his odds aren't much better even in a crowded race, but he could have an impact in the primary. Winteregg has been courting tea party groups and he's hired one of the staffers behind Dave Brat's shocking 2014 primary win against Eric Cantor. If Jones or another tea party-scented candidate runs, Winteregg could conceivably take enough anti-establishment voters to cost him victory against a more traditional Republican. But we'll also need to wait and see if the establishment clears the field for one contender like they did in the recent IL-18 special election, or if we have an insane free-for-all here next year.
• IL-Sen: On any other day—any other week—this would have been the craziest story you saw. But we suppose Mark Kirk should be grateful to John Boehner, because this thing is really nuts. Short version: Kirk's campaign manager, Kevin Artl, says that the Chicago Tribune is about to publish a piece alleging that the Republican senator has been physically and verbally abusive toward his staff. In an attempt to pre-strangle this upcoming report, Artl forwarded a lengthy batch of correspondence between himself and the Tribune's reporter, Todd Lightly to Rich Miller, the proprietor of Capitol Fax, a local tipsheet.
In this email chain, as well as a prefatory memo, Artl says that the staffers in question have all denied Lighty's claims of abusive, and goes on to accuse Lighty of being on some kind of vendetta against Kirk. Here's the weird thing, though: Nowhere in this jeremiad does there seem to be any sort of denial from Kirk himself. The Tribune is standing behind Lighty: There's no word when or if the story will be published, but Kirk can't count on Boehner to save him from another ugly news cycle.
• KY-Gov: If it feels like the Democrats have been airing more ads here, there's a good reason. The National Journal's Karyn Bruggeman takes a look at the air war and finds that Democrat Jack Conway and his allies at the DGA-backed Kentucky Family Values have spent a combined $3.6 million from May 19 to Sept. 14, while the RGA has dumped $2.8 million.
Normally, you'd expect Republican Matt Bevin and his allied super PAC to do most of the spending for Team Red, but Matt Bevin is not a normal candidate. The tea partying businessman only began airing general election ads this month, and a source close to his campaign tells Bruggeman that the buy was for only $140,000. And while Republicans recently set up a super PAC to aid Bevin, so far it's going absolutely nowhere. Fight for Kentucky's stated goal was to raise $1 million by Sept. 15, but the group recently said it was trying to bring in $100,000 to go on the air.
Bevin is wealthy and he can run ads whenever he wants, but he seems convinced that he has this contest in the bag. Bevin said earlier this month he's already begun vetting potential employees for his administration, since "the odds are I'm going to be your next governor." Kentucky is a dark red state and Bevin may well be right. But if Bevin's lazy campaign doesn't cost him the governorship in November, it won't be for lack of trying.
• LA-Gov: Campaign finance reports covering the period from July 17 to Sept. 14 were due Thursday, and we've summarized them below:
• Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle (R): $617,000 raised, $3,000 loaned, $594,000 spent, $1,046,000 cash on hand
• Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne (R): $376,000 raised, $605,000 spent, $1,619,000 cash on hand
• State Rep. John Bel Edwards (D): $842,000 raised, $517,000 spent, $1,383,000 cash on hand
• Sen. David Vitter (R): $839,000 raised, $1,817,000 spent, $4,056,000 cash on hand
• Fund for Louisiana's Future (Pro-Vitter): $138,000 raised, $1,415,000 spent, $3,148,000 cash on hand
• Gumbo PAC (Anti-Vitter): $12,000 raised, $55,000 spent, $85,000 cash on hand
• Louisiana Rising (Pro-Angelle): $1,180,000 raised, $234,000 spent, $1,116,000 cash on hand
• Louisiana Water Coalition (Anti-Vitter): $1,100,000 raised, $796,000 spent, $304,000 cash on hand
• Now or Never (Pro-Dardenne): $8,000 raised, $151,000 spent, $9,000 cash on hand
In a bit of a surprise, Democrat John Bel Edwards raised more dough than any of his rivals, though he only leads Republican Jay Dardenne in cash on hand. Republican David Vitter continues to dwarf his opponents in spending, and his well-funded super PAC isn't making it any easier for them to catch up.
Dardenne has been saving most of his resources for the final stretch of the campaign before the Oct. 24 jungle primary, but it's possible that his weak poll numbers have scared off donors. A few polls have shown Republican Scott Angelle within striking distance of denying either Vitter or Edwards a spot in the runoff, and it looks like he'll have the resources he'll need to stay on the air until next month's jungle primary.
• MO-Gov: On behalf of an unidentified client, PPP has released a survey giving retired Navy SEAL Eric Greitens a 44-37 lead against Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster. If any other Republicans were tested, PPP's client isn't releasing the results. Weirdly, an August client-less PPP poll gave Koster a 40-34 lead against Greitens, and there's no reason to think that this race as swung in the GOP's direction since then.
One likely reason Greitens is doing better is how the horserace question is framed. PPP usually doesn't include any information about the candidates beyond their party: For instance, in August, respondents were simply asked, "If the candidates for governor next year were Democrat Chris Koster and Republican Eric Greitens, who would you vote for?" But in this September poll, respondents were told that Koster is "the current Missouri attorney general, former state senator, and prosecuting attorney for Cass County," while Greitens is identified as a "former Navy SEAL, Rhodes Scholar, and non-profit leader." Neither description is incredibly favorable or unfavorable but at this point in the race where voters aren't overly familiar with either candidate, it makes sense that they'd choose the veteran and non-profit leader over the career politician and lawyer.
• CA-17: Ro Khanna's second bid against Rep. Mike Honda seems to be going a lot better than his 2014 effort. Khanna has earned endorsements from San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen, and Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone, all three of whom remained neutral in last year's intra-party showdown. Khanna also recently unveiled an endorsement from powerful state Senate leader Kevin de León. 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, and it seems that a lot of establishment-flavored Democrats have decided that they need fresh blood here.
• MD-04: Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker and ex-State's Attorney Glenn Ivey have been friends and political allies for a long time, so it's no surprise to see Baker endorsing Ivey's bid for this safely blue seat. Prince George's takes up 75 percent of this district and an even larger proportion of primary voters live there, so Baker's support should carry some weight.
• MI-13: Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey didn't rule out a primary campaign against longtime Democratic incumbent John Conyers back in July, and on Thursday, she announced that she would run. It won't be easy for Winfrey to unseat an institution like Conyers, though the congressman made some amateurish mistakes during his last race.
• NC-11: Sophomore Republican Mark Meadows has been a key figure in the (now obsolete) plot to remove John Boehner as speaker, and his disloyalty could earn him a primary challenge. The Hill reports that Patrick McHenry, a senior member of the House GOP who represents a neighboring seat, has been trying to recruit someone to take on Meadows. McHenry has publicly denied it and now that Boehner's leaving, establishment Republicans may just decide that they have other things to worry about. Romney won this Western North Carolina seat 61-38.
• LA-AG: Besides the gubernatorial contest, this fall's major Louisiana race is the intra-party duel between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and ex-Rep. Jeff Landry. Caldwell left the Democratic Party in 2011, but he hasn't done a good job establishing ties with the GOP. (Republicans were not pleased when Caldwell serenaded Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu during her unsuccessful re-election bid last year.) Major Republicans have mostly either stayed neutral or endorsed Landry, a tea partier who served one term in the House before getting drawn out of his seat in 2012.
Landry consistently outraised Caldwell at the beginning of the year and while the incumbent eventually caught up, Landry has reopened the gap. From July 17 to Sept. 14, Landry brought in $277,000 to Caldwell's $179,000. Landry also loaned himself $370,000, and he has a $1,427,000 to $1,159,000 cash on hand edge. Landry badly outspent Caldwell $560,000 to $70,000 during the last two months as well.
Assuming no one takes a majority in Oct. 24's jungle primary, the top two vote-getters will advance to a November runoff. We could see the Caldwell-Landry battle continues another month, but three other candidates could complicate things. GOP attorney Marty Maley raised only $32,000 but he lent himself another $123,000, though he has just $6,000 on hand. Two Democrats, Geri Broussard Baloney and Ike Jackson, have very little money available, but one of them may be able to consolidate enough Democrats to at least deny Caldwell or Landry a spot in the runoff.
• MO-LG: We haven't heard much from ex-Rep. Russ Carnahan since he lost his 2012 primary to fellow Democratic incumbent Lacy Clay, but two new polls are testing him out as a potential candidate in next year's lieutenant governor race. On behalf of the news service Missouri Scout, Remington Research Group gives Carnahan a 45 to 11 lead against physician Brad Bradshaw in a hypothetical primary. And on behalf of an unidentified client, PPP tests Carnahan against Republican attorney Bev Randles and state Sen. Mike Parson, and they find him performing worse than Bradshaw against this duo. Carnahan hasn't said anything publicly about his 2016 plans, but it's hard to believe that two different groups would throw his name into the mix if he weren't interested in a comeback.
• PA-AG: Indicted Democratic incumbent Kathleen Kane has stubbornly maintained that she'll seek re-election next year even as her situation has gotten worse and worse, but even she may finally be seeing the writing on the wall. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently suspended Kane's law license, and Kane admits that their decision may prevent her from being on the ballot. Kane already faces a primary challenge from Delaware County prosecutor Jack Stollsteimer, and other Democrats are likely to come out of the woodwork no matter what Kane ends up doing.
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.