● CA-Sen: Rep. Loretta Sanchez is almost like the Democratic version of Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk: She's fast becoming best-known for her offensive remarks about minorities. Late last week, she told Larry King that "between 5 and 20 percent" of Muslims "have a desire for a caliphate" and "are willing to use and they do use terrorism" to achieve those ends. Naturally, the political world hammered her, but Sanchez isn't backing down. Instead, she continues to channel Donald Trump, declaring that there are "very credible sources" that support her views, including the Pew Research Center, the British Broadcasting Corporation and the book "Islam and the Future of Tolerance."
Citing a source as enormously broad as "the BBC"—a public broadcaster that operates numerous channels around the globe 24 hours a day—is surely the mark of a scoundrel; it's about as honest as saying you found something "in the encyclopedia." But how about the other sources Sanchez spoke of? Searching for the term "caliphate" on Pew's site reveals no relevant hits. (A 2010 link says that some 30 percent of Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa "expect to live to see the re-establishment of the caliphate." By contrast, half of all Christians surveyed think they'll see Jesus "return to earth in their lifetime.")
And the book she mentions is co-authored by a radical anti-religious atheist named Sam Harris who has, among other things, spoken out in favor of torture and has blamed Jews for their own persecution because "the ideology of Judaism remains a lightning rod for intolerance to this day." Yet even his anti-Islam tome does not say anything about this "5 to 20 percent" statistic.
So what the hell is Sanchez on about? In all likelihood, she just can't help herself and imagines that she's some bold truth-teller, bravely confronting liberals with "facts" they don't want to hear. But there's also a darker possibility here, namely that Sanchez thinks she can get past the top-two primary and beat fellow Democrat Kamala Harris next November by positioning herself to Harris' right. From what we've seen of her, Sanchez probably isn't bright enough to concoct a scheme like this, but she still deserves to lose either way.
● CO-Sen: Auughh! Scott Tipton, please go to hell! Just days after Roll Call asked him if he was leaving the door open to a Senate bid and he saidthis:
"No, I'm running for the Third District."
A spokesman for the Republican congressman hedged that back with this:
"Congressman Tipton is currently focused on running for re-election in the 3rd Congressional District and working on the major issues coming before the House this week including the omnibus."
Do. Not. Do. This. It's okay if you haven't made up your mind about whether to run for Senate. But it's not okay to be undecided about whether you're undecided! We wish we could claim that this kind of goofy nonsense hurts candidates with voters. That's definitely not true, but if someone tests our patience like this again any time soon, we're going to start a super PAC and make it come true.
In any case, it sounds like the NRSC is finally about to land a recruit they can live with in state Rep. Jon Keyser, so Tipton's moment is likely over whether he accepts it or not. Keyser, though, faces a crowded GOP primary for the right to take on Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.
● IL-Sen: The 150,000-member Illinois SEIU, one of the state's most powerful political forces, just endorsed Rep. Tammy Duckworth in next year's Democratic primary for Senate. Duckworth faces attorney Andrea Zopp and state Sen. Napoleon Harris for the nomination, but polling shows Duckworth with a wide lead for the right to take on GOP Sen. Mark Kirk.
By the way, remember that big Republican fundraising bigwig who mouthed off publicly about wanting Kirk to drop out? Yeah, well, he's hosting a fundraiser for Kirk now.
● VA-Gov: Former RNC chair Ed Gillespie reserved his seat for Virginia's next gubernatorial race early, but at least one other Republican is likely to join him. Rep. Rob Wittman, who represents the 1st Congressional District, said over the weekend at the state GOP's annual retreat that he's "preparing for 2017," though first he plans to seek re-election next fall. (That shouldn't be a problem, especially since the 1st is set to get redder thanks to court-ordered redistricting.) The Washington Post's Jenna Portnoy suggests that Wittman wants to run to Gillespie's right and reports that Wittman prefers a convention to a primary. Gillespie, though, secured the Republican nomination for Senate last year at a convention, which at least means he's not despised by the activist base.
And the field could get more crowded still. Former state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who biffed his chance at the governorship in 2013, isn't ruling out a repeat bid but says he's "not going to decide for a year." And businessman Pete Snyder might run for either governor or lieutenant governor; he sought the nomination for the latter post last time, too, and lost out to the infamous E.W. Jackson … at the GOP convention. Are Republicans sure they want to go that route again?
For Democrats, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam is already running for governor, and no one else has put forth any other names. However, the Democratic primary to succeed Northam is wide open.
● CA-32: Democratic Rep. Grace Napolitano could find herself in quite a bit of trouble from an intra-party challenge next year. Term-limited Assembly Roger Hernandez announced on Friday that he'd run against Napolitano, who only declared her intention to seek a tenth term after Hernandez made his move. It even sounds like the 79-year-old Napolitano had considered retirement, since she says she only decided to run again "after careful consideration."
What's more, she may have been caught flat-footed: The solidly blue 32nd District is contained entirely in the ultra-expensive Los Angeles media market, but Napolitano has just $311,000 in her campaign coffers. And citing her husband's health, she declined to move into the district after the most recent round of redistricting placed her home in another seat, something Hernandez has already attacked her over.
But Hernandez, who is 40, has issues of his own. In 2012, a girlfriend accused him of physical abuse, but prosecutors declined to file charges. That same year, he beat a charge of drunk driving by convincing a jury that police had mishandled evidence and that his eyes were bloodshot because of "allergies." And just last week, a state ethics agency dropped a case alleging Hernandez had falsely reported the source of contributions to his first legislative race in 2010, but only because one key witness was gravely ill and another had died.
Perhaps Hernandez is just unlucky to find himself the target of all this accusations, or perhaps he's lucky to have skated on all of them. Either way, Napolitano says she's ready to go after what her campaign called Hernandez's "baggage," but will she have the money and the chops to make things stick? Or will Hernandez be able to shrug it all off once more and prevail in California's latest inter-generational political battle? This one bears watching.
● NY-18: Republicans haven't had much luck landing a solid recruit to take on sophomore Democratic Rep. Sean Maloney in the Westchester suburbs just north of New York City, and their new entrant, former Orange County Legislator Dan Castricone, will have a lot to prove. Maloney is a formidable fundraiser (he's got $1.2 million in the bank), while Castricone hasn't met with much electoral success lately, losing an Assembly primary last year and coming in ninth in a judicial race the year before. But he might still be better than the current crop of GOP candidates: "Sakima Brown of Poughkeepsie, who served on the city's school board; Phil Oliva of Somers, in Westchester County; and Frank Spampinato, who currently lives in Virginia." Virginia!
● TX-15: A fourth Democrat has filed to run for retiring Rep. Ruben Hinojosa's House seat, former Hidalgo County Commissioner Joel Quintanilla. Previously, Quintanilla had serves as mayor of the town of Mercedes (pop. 16,000). Texas' filing deadline was Monday, so we'll bring you a roundup of who's running in all the important races in the next Digest.
● VA-07, VA-04: From the moment that unknown college professor Dave Brat knocked off Eric Cantor in last year's stunning GOP primary in Virginia's 7th Congressional District, it was only natural to wonder how the establishment would seek its revenge. Remarkably, though, no one's even talked about getting off his or her duff to challenge Brat, and it's only now that we're hearing the first suggestions that someone might. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that nameless "party insiders" think Henrico County Sheriff Mike Wade could go for it, but a more intriguing possibility might be Rep. Randy Forbes, who's on the verge of seeing his 4th District turn unwinnably blue.
The judges hearing the redistricting case that's poised to alter Virginia's map still haven't decided on new lines yet, but two proposals submitted by a court-appointed special master would each move a chunk of the current 4th into the 7th. In one version, 19 percent of the new 7th would consist of voters currently represented by Forbes; in the other, that figure would be 29 percent. That's not a huge share, but it could be just enough to give Forbes a foothold, especially since the alternative—running in a 4th District that Barack Obama carried with over 60 percent of the vote—is quite unpalatable.
Forbes, however, hasn't said anything yet, and neither has Wade; each would almost certainly need the other to stay out to have any chance. There's also the fact that we've waited so long to even see any hints of a challenge to Brat, so it's possible that more establishment-minded players think the incumbent might not be such a pushover. But Brat's a weak fundraiser (he's taken in just $336,000 all cycle), and Virginia's primary isn't until June 14, so there's still time. We probably have to wait to see what the court decides first, though.
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.