Nevada state Senate Republican leader Michael Roberson (right) is likely to challenge Democratic Sen. Harry Reid
• NV-Sen: While Republicans are still casting about for a candidate to take on Sen. Harry Reid, analyst Jon Ralston says that state Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson is looking like the likeliest contender. According to Ralston, Roberson has privately told supporters that he'll run as long as the current legislative session isn't a "disaster" (Ralston's term), though that may be a pretty big "if."
Despite the huge Democratic losses nationwide, Nevada was one of only two states last year where Republicans succeeded in picking up the "trifecta," winning new majorities in both houses of the legislature and retaining control of the governorship. As often happens in such situations, there were some immediate growing pains. Things are particularly rough in the Assembly, which has seen some serious infighting and where the new speaker is already the subject of a recall campaign by conservative activists for (of course) not being conservative enough.
And as you might imagine, some seriously extremist legislation is in the works, particularly as regards guns. Even if the Senate turns out to be more placid than the lower chamber, Roberson—who has already earned the dreaded "moderate" label from fellow Republicans—will either be forced to permit votes on nutty bills or earn conservative wrath for bottling them up. Either way, an ugly session seems very possible. North Carolina's Thom Tillis suffered badly for exactly these reasons and only eked out a victory thanks to the GOP wave. Roberson can't count on the same luxury.
• AZ-Sen, 06: Rep. David Schweikert has gone from just leaning against challenging Sen. John McCain to all-but ruling it out. Schweikert told the Arizona Republic that his wife is against a Senate bid, and he "would like to keep her around." The congressman was careful to say that he's not closing the door on the Senate completely, but it's very hard to see him running after this. Schweikert's fellow representative Matt Salmon is also a potential primary contender, though Salmon has been quiet about his plans; state Sen. Kelli Ward is also interested.
• FL-Sen: Politico's latest piece on embattled DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is pretty gossipy, but it does contain some interesting nuggets. Following a week in which Wasserman Schultz did some real damage to herself on the medical marijuana front, the article mostly features unnamed Democratic operatives who say that Wasserman Schultz lacks much insider support for a Senate bid—which, in any event, would really be a second choice for her, since she appears to be foreclosed from moving up in the House leadership ranks. (As Colin Campbell snarks, how many successful Senate campaigns start off as a Plan B?)
But Wasserman Schultz has also apparently not even met with the DSCC yet, something that her top rival, Rep. Patrick Murphy, has already done. How does DWS have time to stake out rope lines to cadge a few minutes with President Obama but hasn't managed to schedule a sit-down with committee chair Jon Tester? Well, if she wants to waste time, that's on her. What's actually disturbing is her apparent sense of victimhood:
According to people who spoke with her, when she sensed Obama was considering replacing her as chair in 2013, she began to line up supporters to suggest the move was both anti-woman and anti-Semitic.
Anti-Semitic! She sounds like Jerry Seinfeld's Uncle Leo
. Seriously, with all the actual anti-Jewish hatred in the world, making up bogus claims of anti-Semitism is really low.
• MO-Sen: Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander announced he would challenge Republican Sen. Roy Blunt on Thursday, and Remington Research Group wasted almost zero time going into the field on behalf of the Missouri Scout political newsletter. The one-day survey gives Blunt an intimidating 49-36 lead, confirming that this will be a very tough battle for Team Blue.
It's worth noting that this poll was weighted based on projected 2016 turnout, which is pretty hard to know this far ahead of time. Conducting a survey over just one day can also introduce some error. Still, it's pretty likely that Blunt starts out clearly ahead, and Kander will need the political climate to improve quite a bit for him to have a chance in this conservative state.
• DE-Gov: Until a few months ago, it was clear that former Democratic Attorney General Beau Biden would run for governor. However, questions about Biden's health have left plenty of people wondering whether he'll be on the ballot next year. Even Dan Malloy, who is set to lead the DGA in 2016, confirmed that he has no idea what Biden will do. Biden's would-be predecessor Jack Markell told Politico that he expects Biden will run, but it sounds like he's also unsure what his plans really are. Biden and his team haven't exactly moved to tamp down this speculation, and it's likely that he hasn't decided if he'll enter the race in the end.
If Biden does run, he's unlikely to face any real primary opposition. But there are plenty of Democrats who might try if he stays out, and we recently took a look at the Biden-less field in a Daily Kos Great Mentioner piece. Rep. John Carney has said that he'd consider running, and the Delaware Republican Party is already preparing to face him. But while Attorney General Matt Denn has had his eyes on higher office for a while, he's denied interest in 2016.
• IN-Gov: Republican Gov. Mike Pence hasn't ruled out a presidential bid, but it sounds far more likely that he'll seek re-election in 2016 instead. Pence reaffirmed over the weekend that he won't decide on a White House bid until after the legislative session ends in late April, and made it clear that he won't try to run for both offices at once.
Still, Pence hasn't done much to run for president beyond a few early primary state visits, and the governor himself doesn't sound especially enthusiastic about the idea. Pence is probably keeping his options open in case the early primary frontrunners stumble and he sees an opening, but it's very likely that we'll see Pence go for a second term as governor when all is said and done.
A few Democrats have expressed interest in taking Pence on, but no one has entered the race. Former Rep. Baron Hill and 2012 nominee John Gregg have both dipped their feet in the water, and state Superintendent Glenda Ritz recently didn't rule out a bid. Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott has also drawn some attention, though he seems pretty meh about the idea, declaring, "I'm not saying no, but I'm not feeling the same urgency that a John Gregg or Baron Hill feels right now."
But TheStatehouseFile.com reports that state Democrats want a name, and soon. They're worried that with Pence and his allies are steamrolling legislative Democrats, the party needs someone who can speak out against their agenda. However, gubernatorial candidates can't actually raise money until the session ends, so that gives potential candidates a bit more time to decide.
• LA-Gov: While New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu hasn't ruled out a gubernatorial bid, he's done little to suggest that he'll run this year. Still, national Democrats haven't given up hope that their strongest potential contender will jump in. At a National Governors Association meeting over the weekend, DGA Chair Steve Bullock said that he thinks than Landrieu is "carefully considering" a run. It's unclear whether Bullock has spoken to Landrieu or his inner circle or is just speculating, but it's at least a sign that the mayor hasn't quite shut the door on this race yet.
This will be a tough race for Democrats no matter what, but Landrieu will almost certainly stand a better chance than state Rep. John Bel Edwards, who is actually running but hasn't raised much money and doesn't have the name recognition or charisma that Landrieu would bring to the table. The filing deadline isn't until Sept. 10 and races tend to develop late in Louisiana, so we may need to wait a while to see if Landrieu's actually interested.
On the GOP side, another lesser-known candidate is hoping to boost his name recognition early. Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle barely registers in what few polls we've seen, but he's hoping to change that with a $200,000 TV ad buy. Angelle's spots are only airing around Acadiana on the Gulf Coast, a region Angelle needs to do very well in to have a shot at advancing to the runoff. The ads (which are the first television commercials of the entire campaign) are not available online, but they focus in Angelle's conservative agenda and background in the oil and gas industry.
• MS-01: We may have our first Republican candidate in this upcoming special election. The Clarion-Ledger's Sam Hall reports that unnamed sources have told him that businessman Boyce Adams is going to run, though Adams has not confirmed this. Adams was the 2011 GOP nominee against Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley and lost 56-44, so it doesn't sound like he's going to scare off any ambitious candidates.
Businessman John Oxford and Court of Appeals Judge Jimmy Maxwell both released statements saying they wouldn't go for it though. Maxwell is close to Transportation Mike Tagert, who has talked about running: Now that Maxwell's out, it could be a sign that Tagert's in.
• Chicago Mayor: The only real question ahead of Tuesday's primary is whether Mayor Rahm Emanuel can win a majority, or whether he'll be forced into an April runoff with Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia. Ogden & Fry takes one last look and finds Rahm sitting at 48 percent, with Garcia at 27 and businessman Willie Wilson at 15. However, the poll did not allow respondents to say they were undecided.
Rahm has dramatically outspent the rest of the field throughout the race, dumping almost $7 million into ads. Garcia has spent a total of $650,000 in TV ads in the last few weeks, while Wilson has used $281,000 of his own money. But the mayor and his allies still dominate the airwaves, with Rahm throwing down $1 million into the final week of the race alone. Rahm's allied super PAC Chicago Forward has also been helping him on the airwaves, and they just dropped $450,000 on Garcia. If there is a runoff, we might see more groups going after the incumbent, but for now Chicagoland TV may as well be called VHRahm.
• Memphis Mayor: Either incumbent A C Wharton is very vulnerable, or a whole lot of people are running against him for nothing. Memphis Police Association President Mike Williams is the latest candidate to jump into the Aug. 6 non-partisan primary: He joins Shelby County Commission Chairman Justin Ford, former Commissioner James Harvey, Councilor Jim Strickland, and former University of Memphis basketball player Detric Golden.
• Special Elections: Three in the Nutmeg State on Tuesday, courtesy as always of Johnny Longtorso:
Connecticut SD-23: This is an open Democratic seat consisting of parts of Bridgeport and Stratford. The Democrats have selected former Bridgeport City Councilman Richard DeJesus, while the Republicans have tapped Quentin Dreher, who lost an election to the Connecticut House in 2010 by a 91-9 margin. On the Working Families line is Edwin Gomes, who previously represented this district as a Democrat before getting primaried out in 2012. Also on the ballot are independents Charles Hare, a retired teacher, and Kenneth Moales, Jr., a pastor.
DeJesus' campaign has been hit by the news of some sizable unpaid tax bills, so there might be a chance for one of the other candidates to win. Probably not the Republican, though: This is the most Democratic Senate district in Connecticut at 91-9 Obama in 2012.
Connecticut HD-107: This is an open Republican seat located in Brookfield and parts of Bethel and Danbury. Democrats have picked former Brookfield Selectman Howard Lasser, while Republicans have chosen Brookfield Board of Education member Stephen Harding, Jr. This district went 53-46 Romney in 2012.
Connecticut HD-129: This is an open Democratic seat located in Bridgeport. The Democratic nominee is former Councilman Steve Stafstrom, while the Republican nominee is Councilman Enrique Torres. Also in the mix are three independents: former state Reps. Hector Diaz and Bob Keeley, and Councilman Robert Halstead. Could a split field result in a Torres victory? Maybe, but it would be tough, as this seat is heavily Democratic, having gone 78-22 for Obama in 2012. Torres, however, was the guy who beat Stafstrom in the city council elections in 2013. (Incidentally, Bridgeport, a city of just under 150,000 people, has a 20-member city council. Isn't that a bit excessive?)
• Demographics: The must-see map of the day comes from NPR's Planet Money, who've put together an animated gif showing the state-by-state decline in unionization rates over the last 50 years, which is something that's also intensely tied in with Democratic fortunes, given the forum for voter education that it provides. As you might expect, given the general trend away from a manufacturing-based economy, every state has seen a decline over that period. There are only three states remaining with union penetration rates over 20 percent (New York, Hawaii, and, most interestingly, Alaska, which explains its tradition of electing Republicans who are comparatively union-friendly even while being otherwise conservative).
The South has been the area with the lowest unionization throughout that whole period, but beyond that, the rates of decline haven't been consistent; in 1964, the most heavily unionized states were Michigan, Washington, and Indiana. Indiana has seen the biggest drop of any state, from 40.9 percent then to only 10.8 percent now, making it the least-unionized Midwestern state these days (despite it also still being one of the states with the highest percentage of people employed in manufacturing -- though in Indiana, it tends to be light manufacturing, rather than the smokestack industries you may traditionally associate with unions).
• Great Mentioner: Democrats are hoping to unseat North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr, but they need to find a candidate first. Former Sen. Kay Hagan is being recruited for another run, but it's far from certain if she'll go for it in the end. Team Blue has other options if Hagan declines, but none of them are nearly as well known. We take a look at who Tar Heel State Democrats could recruit if Hagan sits it out in our new Daily Kos Great Mentioner post.
• State Legislators: In case you weren't already feeling old today, Jesse Rifkin of the Huffington Post has put together a catalog of the 12 youngest state legislators in the nation, who range from a stately 23 years old all the way down to a mere 18. Interestingly, nine of the dozen are Republicans, which I suppose will make the GOP feel better about the youth vote.
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.