Tea partier Matt Bevin jumped into the Kentucky gubernatorial primary at the last minute
• KY-Gov: Time to stock up on the cat fud, because tea partying businessman Matt Bevin is running for governor! Bevin jumped into the race on Tuesday, the last day for candidates to file to run in the Bluegrass State. While Bevin made some noise about running in the last few months there was little indication that he actually was serious, but it turns out he'll be on the ballot whether his party likes it or not.
Bevin challenged Sen. Mitch McConnell in the 2014 Republican Senate primary and got his ass handed to him by a 60-36 margin. But this time, Bevin will face three other establishment-flavored primary foes: Agriculture Commissioner James Comer; former Louisville Metro Councilor Hal Heiner; and former Supreme Court Justice Will Scott. Kentucky has no runoff so all Bevin needs is a plurality to escape with the GOP nomination on May 19.
Bevin can self-fund so he'll be able to get his message out. Last time around he had plenty of stumbles, most notably when he got tripped up over his presence at a pro-cockfighting rally, so it's far from assured that he'll do well in the primary. Comer especially is trying to make nice with tea party groups, and he could deprive Bevin of any oxygen if he succeeds. But at the very least, Bevin introduces a very unpredictable element to this contest, and there's little doubt that Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway would rather face him in November than any of the other Republicans.
As for Conway, while he may have a tough general election ahead of him, he won't have much to worry about in May. While state House Speaker Greg Stumbo flirted with making a late gubernatorial bid, he didn't go for it in the end. Conway will only face perennial candidate Geoff Young in the primary, allowing him to devote his resources to November before any of the Republicans can.
• CA-Sen: Even though several Democratic House members have expressed interest in this seat, their colleagues have begun gravitating toward Attorney General Kamala Harris. Rep. Barbara Lee quickly backed Harris, and she has since been joined by fellow Northern California representatives Eric Swalwell, Mike Honda, and Jared Huffman.
While some of Harris' would-be opponents may feel pressured to announce their intentions soon, Rep. Loretta Sanchez is not one of them. The Orange County Democrat said on Tuesday that she will wait a few months before deciding whether to run. This is a pretty strange approach given that Harris and any other candidates will be using all that time to raise piles upon piles of money. But that's what Sanchez seems content to do: Maybe she just wants to be featured on our potential candidate chart for a while longer?
• MN-02: This suburban Twin Cities district has been an elusive target for Democrats. Obama and Sen. Al Franken both narrowly carried it in back-to-back cycles, but Republican Rep. John Kline has easily held the district ever since he was first elected in 2002. If Democrats are going to have a shot at a House majority anytime soon, they'll need to knock off tough incumbents like Kline.
Team Blue already has a candidate, but it's an open question how strong she'll be. That contender is former St. Jude Medical executive Angela Craig, who just resigned from her job and announced she'll run against Kline. If Craig is well connected in the business world, she may be able to raise the cash she'll need to have a shot here. We'll want to keep an eye out to see if national Democrats clear the field for her or if they start shopping for another candidate.
• MN-07: This is different. Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson usually keeps us guessing whether or not he'll run again, but he just declared that he's "running at this point." That's not an ironclad yes, but it's a good sign that he'll be sticking around a bit longer in any case. Peterson is a very conservative Democrat but he's probably the only one who could hold this rural western Minnesota seat.
Romney won 54-44 here (though Sen. Al Franken narrowly carried this district in 2014) and the GOP targeted Peterson in full force last cycle, but the incumbent still walked away with a 54-46 win. In fact, the GOP's unsuccessful campaign to unseat Peterson may have done them some long-term harm here. As KingofSpades reminds us, back in October, Peterson declared that he may keep running into 2020 because Republicans "made me mad."
• NY-11: With Assemblyman Michael Cusick taking a pass on the special election to fill disgraced ex-Rep. Mike Grimm's House seat, the New York Observer reports that nameless sources say Councilman Vincent Gentile is likely to serve as the Democrats' Plan B. Gentile's major flaw is that he hails from Brooklyn, which makes up
less than only about a third of the district. Gentile did once represent part of Staten Island in the state Senate—but that was over a decade ago.
But Gentile's real problem has nothing to do with his profile and everything to do with the fact that a low-turnout special election is set to coincide with a moment when Staten Island's traditional resentment toward liberal big city politics is at a peak. That makes this race an incredibly difficult slog for any Democrat, no matter what borough he or she calls home.
• Chicago Mayor: Mayor Rahm Emanuel faces the voters on Feb. 24, but at least he can count on the support of his old boss. President Barack Obama just recorded a radio ad for Rahm, where he praised the incumbent for his service in the White House and his work on education, the minimum wage, and jobs. Rahm will take on Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia, Alderman Robert Fioretti, and businessman Willie Wilson in the non-partisan primary; if no one takes a majority, a runoff will be held April 7.
Throughout 2014, Rahm's position looked quite tenuous, with poll after poll showing him unpopular and doing poorly in trial heats. Still, the mayor has looked better-positioned lately: A recent poll from Rahm's camp showed the mayor taking 50 percent in the primary.
However, two more recent surveys show the incumbent ahead but still being forced into a runoff. A Lake Research Partners poll conducted for the anti-Rahm Chicago Teachers Union gives the mayor a 38-16 lead over Garcia, with Fioretti at 8 and Wilson with 5. In a head-to-head with Garcia, Rahm leads 44-28. But as David Ormsby of the Illinois Observer notes, Garcia's position has actually deteriorated quite a bit since Lake's November poll: Back then he only trailed 36-31. Suffice to say, it's not a good sign when you're releasing polls showing your candidate moving this far in the wrong direction.
Local pollster Ogden & Fry also takes a look in a new weekly survey (they don't identify if they're working for a client or polling independently). They give Rahm a similar 40-18 lead over Garcia in the primary, with Wilson at 11 and Fioretti at 8. In a hypothetical runoff, Rahm leads Garcia 55-45; it's unclear if respondents were given undecided as an option or not. We've seen very little from Ogden & Fry in the past, so we can't assess their track record yet.
If Rahm is actually this far from clinching a victory in February, it's a bit strange that no one seems to be spending much on Garcia. The mayor has been dominating the airwaves, and his opponents have bought almost no TV advertising. Maybe labor groups and other Rahm opponents are just planning to get involved if there is a runoff but have decided it's not worth spending just to force one. We may also see more activity from them in the lead-up to Feb. 24, but so far it's been very quiet. (H/t RevolutionRock)
• Colorado Springs Mayor: Colorado's second-largest city will hold its mayoral election this year (Denver is up too, but Democratic incumbent Michael Hancock looks safe). It doesn't sound like whoever wins will have a fun tenure: Incumbent Steve Bach's dysfunctional relationship with the city council led him to call it quits after one term, and things may not get any better soon. The non-partisan primary will be April 7, with a runoff on May 19 if no one takes a majority.
Former Republican Attorney General John Suthers recently kicked off his campaign, and he looks like the frontrunner. Suthers holds a huge fundraising edge against his declared foes, El Paso County Commissioner Amy Lathen; former Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace; and former Councilor Joel Miller. In the past, Suthers has been touted as a potential Senate or gubernatorial candidate but he's never sounded interested, and it seems like he's found his calling closer to home.
Colorado Springs is quite conservative, especially for a major city, and Makepeace is the most liberal of the major contenders; she formerly served as executive director of the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado. As John Hazlehurst of the Colorado Springs Independent notes in a great overview of the race, Makepeace's job will be to forge a coalition of left-wing, moderate, and downtown voters. Miller, meanwhile, is a retired Air Force officer and has a very conservative reputation, which could help him at least reach the runoff in a city full of veterans.
As for Latham, she's a well-established religious conservative who has a good base among gun groups, but she'll need to make sure she doesn't lose support to Suthers and Miller. Suthers is the most establishment of all the candidates and should make it to the runoff at least, though Hazlehurst warns that he's at risk of just becoming everyone's second-choice candidate.
• KY-AG, SoS: Candidate filing closed on Tuesday in the Blue Grass State for the May 19 primary. The state has a list of candidates here.
Aside from the governorship (see above), the open seat race for attorney general will probably be the biggest contest to watch. On the Democratic side, lawyer Andy Beshear, the son of outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear, has the field to himself. Two Republicans are competing to oppose him: Lawrence County Attorney Mike Hogan and state Sen. Whitney Westerfield.
Secretary of State Alison Grimes, who was the 2014 Democratic Senate nominee, will seek re-election to her current post. She only faces token opposition in the primary, but two Republicans are running against her, with former Erlanger Councilor Steve Knipper looking like the frontrunner against technology consultant Michael Pitzer.
• Philadelphia Mayor: On Tuesday, Councilor Jim Kenney announced that he is resigning from the city council. Why is that important? Because Philadelphia has a "resign-to-run" law, and Kenney has expressed interest in running in the open mayoral race, which currently lacks a particularly progressive option. Kenney himself still hasn't confirmed that he's running, but "sources" confirm that he will, and it's hard to believe that he's departing the council for a completely different reason.
• It is with unspeakable sadness that we inform you that Mary Nir, the wife of Daily Kos political director David Nir, died last month of natural causes stemming from Type 1 diabetes at the age of just 35. David has written a post about Mary and is raising money for diabetes research in her name. Please click through if you'd like to learn more about this extraordinary woman, taken from us far too soon, and how you can help honor Mary's memory.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir and Jeff Singer, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Taniel, and Dreaminonempty.