● CO-Sen: A month after first confirming his interest publicly, state Rep. Jon Keyser has now joined Colorado's Senate race. Keyser, an Iraq and Afghanistan vet, is only 34 years old and has served in the legislature for scarcely a year, but national Republicans seem to have settled on him as their preferred candidate, after previous recruits spurned them.
Keyser says he's resigning from his House seat (and will also quit his job as an attorney), but he faces a daunting GOP primary. Among the candidates he'll have to get past are wealthy businessman Robert Blaha, who self-funded an unsuccessful intra-party challenge to Rep. Doug Lamborn in 2012, and state Sen. Tim Neville, an ultra-conservative lawmaker who is determined to make abortion the top issue in the race. How well can the insider-adjacent Keyser fare against outsiders like these, given the intense anger that permeates the Republican base these days?
And even if Keyser can pull off the nomination, beating Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet will be a tall order. Bennet, the former head of the DSCC, is well-connected and a strong fundraiser. He also won an incredibly tough campaign in 2010, when he miraculously survived the GOP wave as a recent appointee to the Senate. If Republicans couldn't beat Bennet then, they're going to have a hell of a time now, especially if another bitter primary yields a less-than-ideal nominee once again.
● AZ-Sen: John McCain (R-inc): $957,000 raised, $5.1 million on hand
● AZ-02: Matt Heinz (D): $200,000 raised
● CA-52: Denise Gitsham (R): $254,000 raised (in seven weeks)
● FL-18: Priscilla Taylor (D): $40,000 raised
● MN-02: Jason Lewis (R): $100,000 raised
● NY-19: John Faso (R): $234,000 raised
● PA-08: Scott Petri (R): $300,000 raised, $276,000 on hand
● VA-10: Barbara Comstock (R-inc): $527,000 raised; LuAnn Bennett (D): $281,000 raised (in three weeks), $265,000 on hand
● AZ-Sen: A new TV ad boosting Republican Sen. John McCain is hitting the airwaves in Arizona, though it's not entirely clear who's behind it. The spot features footage of the aftermaths of both the Paris and San Bernardino terror attacks as a lead-in to contrasting clips of President Obama ("We have contained them") and McCain ("We're gonna have to kill them") talking about ISIS. According to Roll Call, the ad is backed by a $90,000 buy and will appear mostly on Fox News, suggesting that it's aimed at shoring McCain up with primary voters.
But who's paying for it? Roll Call says it's from a group called A Secure Arizona (whose website is about as unrevealing as they come), and the video itself is posted to a YouTube account with the same name. However, in the ad's final frame, a written disclaimer says the spot was "paid for by Citizens for a Working America." Their website is an even bigger joke, and a diligent Sunlight Foundation investigation into their backers several years ago turned up little. Either way, this is a classic dark money expenditure that's designed to be as opaque as possible.
● LA-Sen: Two new Louisiana Democrats have publicly expressed interest in running for David Vitter's Senate seat in recent days: Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy and state Rep. Robert Johnson, who unsuccessfully ran for LA-05 in the 2013 special . Several other Democratic names have also circulated, but so far no one has entered the race. Two GOP congressmen, Reps. Charles Boustany and John Fleming, are already running, and other Republicans may yet join them.
● MD-Sen: On Monday, Rep. Chris Van Hollen released one more in a long string of major institutional endorsements, with the announcement that the Sierra Club would back him over fellow Rep. Donna Edwards in the Democratic primary.
● NV-Sen: Dennis Hof, the quasi-celebrity owner of Nevada's Bunny Ranch brothel, had toyed around with a run for the U.S. Senate as a Libertarian, but now he's going make a play for the state Senate instead. Had Hof run for Harry Reid's seat, he might have sploshed the race in unpredictable ways, but it looks like we'll just have a pretty vanilla matchup between Republican Rep. Joe Heck and Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, a former state attorney general.
● CA-17: Rep. Mike Honda has seen a distressing parade of past supporters switch sides to back fellow Democrat Ro Khanna in their rematch this year, but on Monday, he at least momentarily halted that trend with endorsements from five statewide elected officials. Chief among them is state Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is running for Senate and should fare well this year (so she's a good star for Honda to hitch his wagon to). One big California name remains undecided, though: Gov. Jerry Brown, who backed Honda in 2014, has yet to endorse anyone this time.
● CA-36: Republican state Sen. Jeff Stone was supposedly set to announce whether or not he'd run against sophomore Democratic Rep. Raul Ruiz on Saturday, but he didn't exactly choose either door number one or number two. Instead, Stone complained in a press release that the Obama administration "does not comprehend the threats and does not have the will or the plan to keep us safe and strong" and then issued this strange promise: "Unless I see or hear differently over the next several weeks, I will file to put my name before voters and give them a real choice in the 36th Congressional District."
What kind of charade is this? Since we know that come, say, Groundhog Day, Stone isn't going to feel any differently about Barry Hussein O'Bummer, why even play this game? Republicans have been pretty desperate to land an opponent for Ruiz, especially since their previous candidate, Indio Councilwoman Lupe Ramos Watson, dropped out after raising bupkes. But hey, if Stone wants to dilly-dally before gearing up to run a serious campaign, Ruiz isn't going to complain.
● FL-02: Even though Democratic Rep. Gwen Graham's district is now hopelessly red thanks to Florida's new court-ordered congressional map, she still hasn't announced her political plans for 2016—but she is still fundraising at a very healthy clip. In the fourth quarter, Graham brought in $437,000, giving her a fat stockpile of $1.7 million in the bank. That wouldn't be enough to save her were she to run for re-election (nothing could; Obama won just 34 percent in the revised FL-02), but it would give her a nice starting boost if she were to make a late entry into this year's Senate race.
Or she could parlay those funds into a run for governor in 2018. It's not clear whether she could directly transfer that money to a state account, though she could follow the lead of Republican Adam Putnam, who donated large sums to the Florida GOP in 2010 when he sought a promotion from the House to state agriculture commissioner. (You can bet the favor was returned.) Alternately, Graham could just seed a super PAC, though that would mean giving up control to a group she wouldn't be allowed to directly coordinate with.
● FL-05: Last week, Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown confirmed reports that she had been served with a federal subpoena—but why and in connection with what matter remains a mystery. However, it's nevertheless having an impact. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum had said back in December that he'd announce whether he'd challenge Brown in the revised 5th District "following the holidays," but now he says he's holding off, suggesting that Brown might decide not to seek re-election if there is indeed some sort of federal investigation looming.
Should that happen, Gillum expects a large field would develop at Brown's end of the district in Jacksonville, which would make it easier for him to secure the Democratic nomination. While Brown is a weak candidate who is as untalented at fundraising as she is skilled at alienating fellow Democrats, the well-liked Gillum would still face a difficult task in unseating her. That's because former state Sen. Al Lawson, who also hails from Tallahassee and ran for Congress in the area once before, is already running. In a race with two Tally candidates and just one from Jax, Brown would likely remain the favorite.
But should Brown bail and the floodgates open, there are plenty of contenders from her hometown who could make the race. Among them are state Rep. Mia Jones, state Sen. Audrey Gibson, former state Sen. Tony Hill, former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, and former state Rep. Terry Fields. If there's one other thing Corrine Brown is good at, though, it's offering confusing statements about her intentions: At various times she's indicated she might run again in the 5th, or might instead trot down to the new Orlando-area 10th. So Gillum (and the rest of us) will probably be waiting a while to figure out what's going to happen here.
● FL-06: Navy veteran Brandon Patty entered the race for the GOP nod last week, and he's unveiled endorsements from three state senators. Patty used to work for Jeb Bush and one-time RNC chief Ed Gillespie, so it seems like he has some important friends: Florida Politics' A.G. Gancarski predicts that more big-named supporters will get behind him soon. Patty's main rival for the GOP nod is ex-New Smyrna Beach Mayor Adam Barringer.
● FL-10: In a rare move, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has given her formal endorsement to former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings, who is running for Florida's revamped 10th Congressional District. Pelosi doesn't usually get involved in contested Democratic primaries, but Demings was a party favorite when she ran a strong race for the previous (and much redder) version of this seat in 2012.
Pelosi's move, which comes just a few days after EMILY's List also got behind Demings, is likely aimed at nudging state Sen. Geraldine Thompson out of the race, and/or trying to convince Rep. Corinne Brown to stay put in the 5th District rather than try her luck here. Both Brown and Thompson, like Demings, are black women and would be more apt to split the primary vote with her, which would benefit former state Democratic Party chair Bob Poe, who is white.
In a one-on-one race against Poe, though, Demings would have a strong shot in this heavily minority district. Poe also happens to be independently wealthy, so he's probably harder to influence, but who knows? Perhaps he, too, might not want to take on someone with friends in such high places.
● GA-03: No serious Republican candidates have entered the race to succeed Lynn Westmoreland yet, but a few local politicians are beginning to express interest. Matt Brass, who serves as Westmoreland's chief of staff and lost a GOP primary for state Senate in 2014, tells The Newnan Times-Herald that he's watching to see who gets in, while state Sen. Marty Harbin says he's in the "praying stages." Both men claim they're not in any hurry to decide, even though the filing deadline is March 11.
State Rep. David Stover claims he hasn't thought about running, though he notably didn't say no. Additionally, state Reps. Matt Ramsey and Lynn Smith and state Sens. Mike Crane and Josh McKoon didn't say anything about their plans, so they're at least not ruling it out right now. A number of other Republicans could seek this safely red seat.
● IL-10: Former Rep. Brad Schneider, who's trying to win back his old seat from GOP Rep. Bob Dold! but first has to contend with Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering in the Democratic primary, says he's running a new ad about gun violence. But according to Roll Call's Eli Yokley, the Schneider campaign hasn't yet bought any TV time to air this spot. If it's really not going to appear on television, then that would make this a web video. We're going to hope that at least some kind of buy is forthcoming, because otherwise it would mean Schneider is playing a very lousy game.
● MD-08: Former news anchor and hotel executive Kathleen Matthews just rolled out four new endorsements on Monday, but two are from out-of-state senators—California's Barbara Boxer and Massachusetts' Ed Markey—and one is from former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, whose name is something of a by-word for epic futility. (KKT, as she's known, disastrously lost the 2002 governor's race to Republican Bob Ehrlich, which she was widely expected to win.) Matthews' fourth endorser is state Comptroller Peter Franchot, who, according to the Washington Post, has experienced "frayed" relations with state Democrats of late, on account of his "collaboration with Republican Gov. Larry Hogan."
Matthews' chief rival for the nomination in this safely blue district (left open by Chris Van Hollen's bid for Senate) is state Sen. Jamie Raskin, though two other state lawmakers, Dels. Kumar Barve and Ana Sol Gutierrez, are also in the race, as are former White House aide Will Jawando, former State Department official Joel Rubin, and non-profit executive Dave Anderson.
● MS-04: While Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo only took 51 percent in his 2014 primary with party switching ex-Rep. Gene Taylor, he won't face any intra-party opposition in March. Mississippi's candidate filing deadline passed on Friday and Biloxi Councilman Robert Demming, who previously announced that he'd run, decided to stay out. Demming earns some points for honestly, admitting that his fundraising wasn't what he wanted it to be.
Last year, tea partying state Sen. Chris McDaniel dropped hints that he'd run for this safely red seat, but he says he's focusing on electing Ted Cruz instead. Mississippi's other three House members also are getting by with only minimal opposition in the primary and general election.
● NV-03: One of the biggest sore spots in candidate recruitment for the DCCC is in Nevada's 3rd Congressional District, a swingy open seat that nevertheless hasn't proved to be much of a draw for Democrats for a variety of reasons. A series of candidates has declined to run here, but according to Jon Ralston, there is another: According to unnamed sources, Harry Reid himself is trying to convince Jacky Rosen, the president of a prominent local synagogue, to make a go of it, and she's also apparently met with the DCCC.
Republicans have united around state Senate President Michael Roberson, but he faces some whackadoodle opponents for the nomination (including the most famous perennial candidate in America, Danny Tarkanian), so a real opportunity would present itself if the GOP primary goes sideways.
● NY-03: No Democrats have yet announced campaigns to succeed retiring Rep. Steve Israel, but North Hempstead Town Councilwoman Anna Kaplan did just file paperwork with the FEC. As we regularly caution, though, just because you submit documents to the FEC does not mean you're necessarily going to run—candidates often create campaign committees on paper but then never take further steps.
● NY-19: Assemblyman Pete Lopez, citing his father's recent cancer diagnosis, announced on Monday that he would drop his bid for Congress but says he'll still seek re-election. That still leaves two notable Republicans in the race for this swingy open seat: former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso and businessman Andrew Heaney. Democrats have yet to land a candidate, but law professor Zephyr Teachout, who ran against Gov. Andrew Cuomo from the left in the 2014 gubernatorial primary, recently said she's looking at a bid.
● WA-07: Democratic state Sen. David Frockt, who represents a large piece of north Seattle, was quick, after Rep. Jim McDermott's retirement announcement last week, to tell everyone that he was considering a run for the open seat. However, over the weekend, Frockt decided against a run, citing his young family. Another consideration that he didn't mention: his Senate seat is up in 2016, meaning he'd have to give that up for a roll of the dice in a crowded field.
● WY-AL: While Johnson County Commissioner Bill Novotny expressed interest in running for this seat a little while ago, he announced that he'd stay put last week. State Rep. Tim Stubson is still the only notable Republican seeking this safely red seat, and he has the support of ex-Rep. Barbara Cubin, who retired in 2008 after almost losing two years before. A few other Republicans are eyeing this seat, including Liz Cheney.
● Special Elections: One from the Sooner State, courtesy Johnny Longtorso:
Oklahoma SD-34: This is an open Republican seat located in the Tulsa area. The candidates are Democrat J.J. Dossett, a teacher, and Republican David McLain, a businessman and pastor. This seat went 70-30 for Mitt Romney in 2012.
● Where Are They Now?: Former North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, who lost a heartbreaker in 2014, was heavily recruited by Democrats to wage a comeback bid this cycle. Ultimately, though, she declined, and now she's probably ruled out a return to politics in the future, as well. That's because she just took a job with DC's largest lobbying firm, Akin Gump. You do occasionally see politicians try to return to office after stints as lobbyists, but it's certainly not common and it's rarely successful.
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.