Catherine Cortez Masto (at left)
• NV-Sen: On Wednesday, former Democratic Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto announced that she would run to succeed retiring Sen. Harry Reid. The DSCC quickly endorsed her and Reid gave her his support before she even publicly expressed interest. Additionally, EMILY's List has signaled that they're planning to back Masto.
Rep. Dina Titus has been talking about joining the fray, though it would be surprising if she gives up her safely blue seat to take on the Democratic establishment. However, GOP pollster Silver Bullet, whom we've never heard of before now, quickly released a survey giving Titus a 44-20 lead over Masto in a hypothetical Democratic primary, perhaps with the hope of luring Titus into the contest and setting off an expensive intra-party match. But Masto won't need to worry about former Secretary of State Ross Miller, who has endorsed her.
Masto has easily won statewide twice, including during the 2010 Republican wave. However, Republicans argue that she's never been seriously tested until now. Still, Team Red is aware that Masto's history-making potential as the nation's first Latina senator could help her in a cycle where minority turnout is likely to be high.
Republicans currently don't have a candidate of their own besides unheralded Las Vegas Councilor Bob Beers. The NRSC would be delighted if they could persuade Gov. Brian Sandoval to jump in or convince Rep. Joe Heck to change his mind and run, but neither outcome seems likely right now. However, while Democrats have done well in the Silver State during the past two presidential elections, it's still competitive enough that the GOP can win without Sandoval or Heck. Several notable Republicans could seek the seat including Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison, state Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson (who was reportedly planning to run even before Reid exited the race), Treasurer Dan Schwartz, and former Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki.
A Masto-Krolicki general election would be particularly nasty: Masto indicted him in 2008 for allegedly misappropriating money, but the charges were thrown out. Krolicki recently made it clear that he's in no mood to forgive her, and even if Krolicki is not on the ballot, Republicans will almost certainly use this story to argue that Masto is an unethical partisan prosecutor. Masto's entrance gives Democrats their first-choice candidate, but we're expecting a competitive battle ahead in a contest both parties know could determine control of the Senate.
• CT-Sen: If a Republican in Connecticut announces he's not running and no one cares, does he make a sound? Back in late March, former U.S. Comptroller General and 2014 lieutenant governor candidate David Walker ruled out challenging Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Blumenthal is running for re-election in a friendly state while sporting solid approval ratings, and it's very unlikely he'll have much to worry about next year.
• FL-Sen: Many reports have suggested that Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera is interested in seeking the GOP nomination for Senate, but we hadn't actually heard anything from the proverbial horse's mouth until now—and he doesn't sound particularly gung-ho. Lopez-Cantera would only say that he's "keeping options open," and the Palm Beach Post adds that it "sounded as if he won't make any announcement until after the current Florida legislative session ends May 1."
There may be a good reason for Lopez-Cantera's hesitancy: A recent PPP poll showed him facing a steep 41-15 deficit against state CFO Jeff Atwater, who has given every indication that he'll run. But Lopez-Cantera may not be better-served by waiting. In 2018, a heavyweight Republican field will assemble in the race to replace term-limited Gov. Rick Scott, and Scott himself might run for Senate, so Lopez-Cantera might have a better shot against Atwater now if he wants to keep his political career going.
• IA-Sen: Very few Iowa Democrats relish the prospect of going toe-to-toe with Republican incumbent Chuck Grassley, who is running for re-election with strong approval ratings. However, state Sen. Rob Hogg says he's thinking about it, though he won't decide until the legislative session ends on May 1. Hogg's odds are slim, but it's always a good idea to run a credible candidate just in case Grassley visits Dairy Queen again or something.
• MD-Sen: After flirting with a bid for Barbara Mikulski's open Senate seat, former Del. and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur announced she wouldn't go for it. Mizeur said she would not take sides yet in the Democratic primary between Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards.
However, Van Hollen did pick up a potentially useful endorsement on Wednesday from Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker. Prince George's makes up most of Edwards' 4th Congressional District, and Van Hollen will take advantage of any opportunity to make inroads with her base. It's not a huge surprise that Baker is snubbing his congresswoman: He is close to Glenn Ivey, who tried to unseat Edwards during the 2012 Democratic primary, and is now running to replace her.
• NC-Sen, Gov: While national Democrats might like the idea of a Kay Hagan comeback bid, PPP's polling shows that she would actually fare the worst against GOP Sen. Richard Burr next year, compared to a raft of other potential candidates. Burr leads all matchups, but some look better than others for Team Blue:
• 50-38 vs. ex-Sen. Kay Hagan
• 45-34 vs. ex-Rep. Brad Miller
• 46-35 vs. state Treasurer Janet Cowell
• 47-36 vs. state Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue
• 46-32 vs. state Rep. Grier Martin
• 46-30 vs. state Sen. Jeff Jackson
Burr sports a wider margin against some lesser-known candidates (Martin and Jackson), but he only hits 50 against Hagan. That's because of the toll 2014's incredibly expensive and intensely bloody campaign took on her, leaving her with a miserable 37-53 favorability score. Cowell, by contrast, has a 12-16 rating—a typical PPP score for a little-known pol, but one that offers her much greater upside. It won't be easy to put this seat in play, but a Burr in the mid-40s is considerably more vulnerable than one already at 50.
North Carolina's gubernatorial race remains highly competitive, though. GOP Gov. Pat McCrory holds a 44-41 edge on state Attorney General Roy Cooper, the likely Democratic nominee. That's virtually unchanged from McCrory's 43-41 lead in February.
• UT-Sen: Establishment Republicans in Utah keep trying to find someone who will primary free-range tea partier Mike Lee, but this new poll doesn't seem likely to change anyone's mind. Dan Jones & Associates, on behalf of UtahPolicy.com, finds Lee leading Josh Romney (son of who else) by just a 49-36 margin in a hypothetical GOP matchup. Perhaps that's not indomitable, but when an incumbent starts off that close to 50, that doesn't give a challenger much room for hope.
Numbers on general election matchups with Democratic ex-Rep. Jim Matheson are expected Thursday.
• DE-Gov: No one's sure whether former Democratic Attorney General Beau Biden will enter this race when all is said and done, but things are beginning to solidify on the GOP side. Back in February, state Senate Minority Whip Greg Lavelle announced he wouldn't run, despite hinting at a bid earlier. Additionally, to the dismay of Team Red, newly-elected Treasurer Ken Simpler has also said no. So far, state Sen. Colin Bonini is the only notable candidate in the field, and given how small the Republican bench is in the First State, he might have an easy path to the nomination.
• KY-Gov: James Comer is out with another spot ahead of the May 19 Republican primary. This one features Comer pledging to take on Obama on everything he can squeeze into 30 seconds, concluding with, "[o]ther folks talk about standing up to Obama, I've actually done it." Something tells me that the president doesn't spend a lot of time thinking about that upstart state agricultural commissioner who dared to oppose him.
But while Comer would love Obama to be his primary rival, it is not the case. Allies of former Louisville Councilor Hal Heiner have formed a super PAC called Citizens for a Sound Government, and they have two new ads out. The first portrays Comer as a hypocrite who loves to talk about cutting spending, but uses tax dollars on himself. The second takes on tea partying businessman Matt Bevin, hitting him for taking federal money to bail out his company while failing to pay his own taxes.
• WV-Gov: Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has taken several steps toward a bid for his old job in the governor's mansion, and now he's promising a decision "before Memorial Day." Even though he's gone as far as hiring staff, Manchin claims he's only "about a 50-50 toss-up" to actually run, though perhaps he's just being coy.
In the meantime, other Democrats are getting situated. State Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler already declared last month, and U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin is reportedly interested as well. Goodwin can't speak publicly because of his job (just as we saw last cycle when South Dakota Democrats were courting then-U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson for Senate), and he'd have to quit in order to run next year. But with a new occupant in the White House come 2017, Goodwin would likely be out of a job then anyway (it's traditional for presidents to appoint their own federal prosecutors).
Of course, Kessler and Goodwin may change their minds if Manchin does indeed get in, since it would be incredibly difficult to beat him in a primary. We'll know more by the end of next month.
• CA-16: While Obama won this Central Valley seat 59-39, Democratic incumbent Jim Costa had a shockingly close call last year against Some Dude Johnny Tacherra. Tacherra is already considering another run, but he may have some intra-party competition from Madera County Supervisor David Rogers. Rogers has filed with the FEC a little while ago, but he isn't in yet: In late March, Rogers said he'd decide in about a month. This seat should be safe especially in a presidential year where Democratic turnout will be better but if anyone can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, it's Jim Costa.
• CA-24: On Wednesday, Democratic Rep. Lois Capps announced she would not seek another term in 2016. This seat leans Democratic, especially in presidential cycles, but it's still competitive: Obama won this Santa Barbara-area seat 54-43, but Capps only beat tea partier Chris Mitchum 52-48 last year.
On the Democratic side, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider has already announced that she will run, but she's unlikely to have the field to herself. Capps' daughter Laura Capps, an experienced political operative, appears to have her eyes on this seat. Laura Capps only said that her future can be discussed "in days to come," which isn't the kind of thing you say if you're not at least interested in running. The younger Capps has plenty of connections and she's married to Bill Burton, who most notably served as press secretary for Obama's 2008 campaign, so she should have access to plenty of money and talent if she pursues the seat.
Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal said back in February that he'd be interested in running if the incumbent didn't, though he hasn't said anything about his intentions yet. Roll Call tells us that Assemblyman Das Williams is also considering, though he also hasn't publicly expressed interest.
On the GOP side, termed-out Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian quickly received the lion's share of attention, and he confirmed that he will take the weekend to think it over, and could announce the next weekend. About two-thirds of CA-24 is located in Achadjian's Assembly seat, so he wouldn't struggle for name recognition. But at 49-48 Romney, Achadjian's constituency is quite a bit more conservative than the 24th District as a whole.
Businessman and 2014 candidate Justin Fareed quickly announced that he's running again, and that he raised $100,000 in the last six weeks. Fareed narrowly lost to Mitchum for the right to face Capps, and he probably could have beaten her last year, but there's little doubt that the NRCC would prefer Achadjian if they can get him. Mitchum, who also ran in 2012, is also reportedly considering another try. Santa Barbara Councilor Dale Francisco, another 2014 candidate, said earlier this year that he was undecided about what to do in 2016.
• CA-52: On Wednesday, Republican veteran Jacquie Atkinson kicked off her campaign against Democratic Rep. Scott Peters in a swingy San Diego-area seat. Atkinson is a first-time candidate but she sounds like she has some useful connections: Atkinson serves on Mayor Kevin Faulconer's LGBT Advisory Board and she's working with a prominent political consultant. No other Republican contenders are seriously talking about running right now, though that could change. Peters probably owes his narrow 2014 victory to a scandal that consumed his opponent but he's a great fundraiser, and Atkinson will need to work hard to beat him.
• IA-03: State Sen. Matt McCoy has been talking about challenging freshman Republican David Young in this Obama 51-47 seat, but Roll Call reports that national and state Democrats are very wary of him. McCoy's past is practically ready made for a few GOP attack ads: He paid a fine in 2008 for funneling money to a gubernatorial candidate, and he was indicted in 2007 for allegedly using threatening to use his influence on a business partner, though he was ultimately acquitted. McCoy sounds stubborn though, telling a local blog that the DCCC wants to pass him over because they don't think an openly gay man is an ideal candidate for the district.
Democrats have a few alternatives to McCoy. 2014 nominee Staci Appel is thinking about giving it another shot, and businessman Desmund Adams has formed an exploratory committee. Emily Cahn also tells us that Team Blue is eying U.S. Attorney Nick Klinefeldt.
• MD-04: We missed this back in March, but Del. Jay Walker has been talking about running for this open and safely blue seat. Walker's background is a bit different than most candidates. He was a star quarterback at Howard University, which isn't located far from this district, during the early 1990s, and he spent four years in the NFL. In addition to his political career, Walker also has worked as an analyst for ESPNU.
Currently, four notable candidates are running to succeed Senate candidate Donna Edwards: former Lt. Gov. and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Anthony Brown; former Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn Ivey; Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk; and ex-Prince George's County Councilor Ingrid Turner. The Democrats have a deep bench in this suburban Washington seat, so we might see even more names surface.
• MD-08: The Democratic primary in this safely blue seat remains a duel between Del. Kumar Barve and state Sen. Jamie Raskin, but that may be about to change. Former Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin, who currently serves as executive director for the Center for Working Families, says she'll "make an announcement in the very near future, and her website promises "Big things are coming".
Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez has also signaled that she's serious about this race. But even Gutierrez acknowledges that she does not enjoy raising money, which could definitely be a problem in a seat located in the expensive Washington media market. Other potential candidates include former Del. Bill Bronrott, former Obama Administration official William Jawando, Del. Ariana Kelly, hotel executive Kathleen Matthews, and Del. Jeff Waldstreicher.
However, we can take a few names out of contention. On Wednesday, former Del. Heather Mizeur denied any interest in this seat (she also ruled out a U.S. Senate bid), and former County Councilor Nancy Floreen recently decided not to go for it either. Joining them in the no column are lobbyist Oscar Ramirez and County Councilors Roger Berliner, George Leventhal, and Hans Riemer.
• NH-01: Businessman Shawn O'Connor evidently decided that a Senate race was just too meaty for a first-time candidate and at some point quietly dropped down a rung to run in New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District instead. That makes O'Connor, who had considered a bid against GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte, the first Democrat to enter the race against Republican Rep. Frank Guinta, and he's already made some high-powered hires, including tapping former DSCC executive director J.B. Poersch as a consultant.
That's possible because O'Connor has plenty of money: He says he has $550,000 banked as of the end of the first quarter, though he refused to say how much if any was self-funded. (The answer is probably "a lot.") But that cash probably won't deter ex-Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, who has been looking at a third comeback and always (often to the consternation of her supporters) runs shoestring campaigns. Other Democrats are in the mix as well, so we could see a crowded primary here.
• TN-04: The National Journal's Jack Fitzpatrick takes a look at Grant Starrett, the 27-year old former Romney aide who is trying to unseat scandal-tarred Rep. Scott DesJarlais in the GOP primary. Starrett has won praise from conservative opinion-makers, and he's done a good job building the alliances he'll need to run a real campaign. However, DesJarlais is already portraying Starrett as an interloper, noting that he's from Southern California and only came to Tennessee to attend Vanderbilt Law.
• Ferguson, MO: On Tuesday, the town of Ferguson, Missouri held its first municipal elections since last summer's tragic police shooting of Michael Brown. Even though about 70 percent of Ferguson's 21,000 citizens are black, only one of the city's six council members was African American. That changed this week, as two more black candidates picked up seats on the council amid much higher turnout than normal, leaving the body's makeup half black and half white.
• Mayors: In addition to Chicago, four other major cities went to the polls on Tuesday for mayoral elections. All these contests were non-partisan, though each candidate's party affiliation was well-known:
• Anchorage Mayor
: There was little doubt that former state Rep. Ethan Berkowitz, the only credible Democrat in the contest, would advance to the May 5 runoff. However, the race for second place very much came down to the wire
, with Republican City Assemblywoman Amy Demboski outpacing conservative independent Andrew Halcro 24-22 (Berkowitz took 37 percent). Halcro has conceded, but says he will not endorse either candidate. Former Assemblyman Dan Coffey, who was backed by outgoing Republican Mayor Dan Sullivan, came in fourth with 15 percent.
Berkowitz will have a good shot at winning next month. Anchorage is much bluer than the state as a whole, and he has been a far better fundraiser than Demboski. However, Anchorage hasn't been afraid to send Republicans to the mayor's office, and Demboski could very well pull it off.
• Colorado Springs Mayor: Former Republican Attorney General John Suthers didn't take the majority he needed to won outright on Tuesday, but he came quite close with 46 percent. Former Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace took 24 and will meet him in the May 19 runoff, but it's hard to feel great about her odds. Makepeace is far more liberal than former Councilor Joel Miller and El Paso County Commissioner Amy Lathen, who took 16 and 12 percent respectively, and their voters are likely to break more to Suthers. Even Makepeace acknowledged that she was disappointed with her performance.
• Las Vegas Mayor: Independent Carolyn Goodman won a second term outright, taking a 55-42 majority against Republican Mayor Pro Tem Stavros Anthony. Anthony and his allies hoped that they could use the controversy over a planned expensive soccer stadium to pull off an upset. However, after Major League Soccer announced that they would not set up a team in Las Vegas in the near future, the project died. Anthony continued to argue that electing him was the only way to ensure that the stadium would never be built, but it wasn't nearly enough.
• Wichita Mayor: Councilor Jeff Longwell easily beat businessman and fellow Republican Sam Williams 59-35. The most interesting item on the city ballot may have been a measure to decriminalize marijuana though. The referendum, which passed 54-46, makes first time possession a $50 fine; under current state law, the same offense carries a fine of up to $2,500 and a year in prison. Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt said before the vote that he would sue the city if the measure passed.
• Philadelphia Mayor: In a scary moment during Tuesday night's mayoral debate, former Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham collapsed on stage. Abraham was treated on the scene (a doctor said she had low blood pressure), and the debate continued without her. While this would be a worrisome matter for any candidate, given Abraham's age (she's 74), she will likely have to address concerns about her physical fitness to run and serve.
• Special Elections: The one they call Longtorso fills us in:
Florida SD-06: No surprises here as Republican Travis Hutson defeated David Cox by a 70-30 margin.
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 Taniel.
Florida HD-24: This one was similarly unexciting. Republican Paul Renner defeated Democrat Adam Morley by a 67-33 margin.