● AL-Gov: Well, here we go: On Wednesday, state Rep. Ed Henry said that he would file articles of impeachment against Gov. Robert Bentley, a fellow Republican, over allegations that the governor used state resources to conceal an affair with his top political aide, Rebekah Caldwell Mason. What makes this situation so dangerous for Bentley is that the state House requires just a simple majority—not a super-majority—to impeach a sitting office-holder, and the Senate likewise only needs a simple majority to remove that person.
Bentley repeated his pledge to stand firm, though, saying, "I have no intentions of resigning." Not so for Mason, however: She announced on Wednesday that she's quit as Bentley's advisor and has also stepped down from her job with the Alabama Council for Excellent Government, a mysterious dark money group that's supposedly designed to "advance the agenda of Gov. Robert Bentley" but appears to have done very little work. Mason did acknowledge receiving $15,000 in consulting fees from ACEGOV, an arrangement that was also part of an ethics complaint filed by state Auditor Jim Zeigler, on the grounds that public employees cannot be paid by private sources.
Mason's departure doesn't seem like it'll appease Bentley's critics, though. We'll undoubtedly be hearing much more from them in the days ahead.
● CA-Sen: UNITE HERE, a union representing some 270,000 workers nationwide, chiefly in the hospitality industry, has endorsed state Attorney General Kamala Harris, the frontrunner to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer. Harris' chief rival in the race is a fellow Democrat, Rep. Loretta Sanchez.
● FL-Sen: Rep. Patrick Murphy has earned another big union endorsement, this time from the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 670,000 federal government workers nationwide. Murphy's chief competition for the Democratic nomination, fellow Rep. Alan Grayson, scored the backing of two liberal groups, Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, earlier in the week.
● IN-Sen: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently launched an ad campaign for Todd Young, who faces fellow Rep. Marlin Stutzman in the May GOP primary. The size of the buy was originally reported at a hefty $500,000, but the Chamber has already spent $1 million for Young: You can say many things about the Chamber, but there's no doubt that they look out for their friends. (Hat-tip Greg Giroux)
● PA-Sen, PA-AG: The superteam of Barack Obama and Joe Biden has been more active on the endorsement front than usual lately. In recent weeks, the pair has backed Senate candidates in Ohio (Ted Strickland) and Florida (Patrick Murphy); now they're adding Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania to their list. That gives McGinty a clean sweep of top Democratic figures (Gov. Tom Wolf and Sen. Bob Casey previously endorsed her), but she still trails ex-Rep. Joe Sestak in the limited polling we've seen of April's Democratic primary.
Sestak, meanwhile, is out with a new ad that hits a similar theme to earlier spots in which he's touted his strong support for Obamacare. This one, however, is narrated by his young daughter, who says, "I'm not supposed to be alive. My dad wasn't supposed to run for office. My dad was an admiral, but he left the Navy to help me fight brain cancer."
Interestingly, Obama also entered the fray in a race even further downballot, endorsing Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro for state attorney general. While Obama has sometimes backed candidates for the House, it's rare to see him do so in a state-level race. (The president did endorse Juliana Stratton's successful primary campaign against renegade Illinois state Rep. Ken Dunkin at the beginning of the month, so this move isn't quite unprecedented.) Shapiro faces two other candidates in the primary for this open seat.
● WI-Sen: Well, this is different. Marquette Law School finds that Democrat Russ Feingold still leads Republican incumbent Ron Johnson among registered voters, but by a relatively small 47-42 margin. In February, Marquette gave Feingold a stronger 49-37 lead among registered voters, and their prior three polls also had Feingold up by double digits.
In all likelihood, this is just an outlier. Nothing appears to have happened in the last month that would have caused Johnson to gain so much ground. Back in August, Marquette also had Feingold up just 47-42, before he grabbed a 50-36 lead in their September poll. Marquette has a solid reputation, but all pollsters will get strange numbers now and then. Marquette has been releasing polls about once a month so we won't need to wait too long to see if they continue to show Johnson competitive, or if this is just noise.
● MO-Gov, Sen: Candidate filing closed in both Missouri and South Dakota on Tuesday. There isn't much to see in South Dakota: Neither Sen. John Thune or Rep. Kristi Noem face a competitive contest in either the GOP primary or the general.
Missouri's Aug. 2 primary is a lot more exciting though. Four Republicans have filed for governor: ex-U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway; retired Navy SEAL Eric Greitens; rich guy John Brunner; and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder. On the Democratic side, Attorney General Chris Koster faces little primary competition.
We haven't seen a primary poll in a very long time, but on behalf of the transportation workers union SMART, the Democratic pollster DFM Research tests Koster against all four of his prospective GOP foes:
● 42-28 vs. Brunner
● 41-24 vs. Greitens
● 43-31 vs. Hanaway
● 39-37 vs. Kinder
There are a ton of undecideds in each matchup, so it's hard to read too much into this. Kinder is the only Republican who currently holds office, so it's not surprising to see that he's performing the best at a time when voters aren't paying much attention to this contest. However, according to DFM, 53 percent of respondents say they either have a neutral view of Koster or that they've never heard of him, while 58 percent say that of Kinder, so both men may have some room to grow. A full 72 percent don't have much of an opinion of Hanaway, while the other two Republicans' favorables were not asked. (It's very likely that few Missourians know about Brunner or Greitens at this stage of the contest.) This is the first Missouri gubernatorial poll we've seen in 2016. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as a Tossup.
DFM also tests Republican Sen. Roy Blunt against Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander, and they give the incumbent a strong 49-35 edge. (Neither man faces major primary opposition.) Blunt only has a 41-38 favorable rating while a full 74 percent of respondents say they feel neutral about Kander or haven't heard of him. Missouri has become a very conservative state and while Kander has room to grow, he probably can't win unless voters have really soured on the incumbent. A recent PPP survey for the progressive group Americans United for Change did give Blunt a horrid 25-48 approval rating (they did not release any horserace numbers), though PPP usually gives politicians lower scores than most other pollsters. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as Likely Republican.
● ND-Gov: Rich guy Doug Burgum is out with yet another ad aimed at boosting his name recognition ahead of the June GOP primary. Burgum tells the viewer that "North Dakota has a $1 billion dollar deficit," before he talks up his business career. Burgum then bemoans how "career politicians can't solve our problems," before he calls for term-limits and promises to give his salary back to the taxpayers (which may not actually be legal). Burgum is preparing for a fight against Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, so it's no surprise that he's framing this contest as a battle between a job-creating businessman and an entrenched politician.
● WV-Gov: Thanks to an eagle-eyed Twitter user, we now have a copy of the ad that a group called Americans for Integrity in Government Officials is airing against businessman Jim Justice in West Virginia's Democratic primary for governor. It's not a very well-done spot, though. A narrator asks "what do we really know" about Justice, then follows that question with a series of more specific ones, like, "Does he protect his workers?" and "Does he protect our drinking water?" As these queries are rattled off, headlines of unflattering news stories appear on-screen, like "Group says Justice's Tennessee mines pollute water."
This double-barreled approach is just asking too much of the viewer's attention: You'd have to both watch and listen closely for the ad to have any impact. What's more, by framing these concerns about Justice's record as questions rather than assertions, it makes them sound much weaker and open to debate. If you're going to accuse an opponent of malfeasance, just go ahead and accuse him. Don't be wishy-washy about it.
● CA-17: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom endorsed former Obama administration official Ro Khanna against Rep. Mike Honda last cycle, so it's not a surprise that he's doing it again. Both Honda and Khanna are Democrats, and they're likely to both advance past the June top-two primary to the November general election.
● CA-44: On Wednesday, state Sen. Isadore Hall unveiled an endorsement from Gov. Jerry Brown. Most local power players have sided with Hall, who faces fellow Democrat Nanette Barragan in the June top-two primary for this safely blue coastal seat.
● KS-03: The good news: The DCCC says it's trying to recruit a candidate to take on GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder, who represents a seat Democrats had held until 2010. The bad news: The Topeka Capital-Journal's writeup doesn't even mention a single possible contender. That may be the D-Trip just playing things close, but usually when there's a potentially competitive race in the offing, we at least hear some names getting batted around. There are two Democrats already running, but one has raised just $570 from donors and the other hasn't even filed with the FEC.
Kansas' 3rd District is the bluest in the state, though it's still not particularly friendly to Democrats: Mitt Romney carried it by a 54-44 margin. Nevertheless, Democrats have to get creative if they want to take advantage of a potential Trumpocalypse. Fortunately, there's still time to find someone, since the state's filing deadline is not until June 1, but the lack of any real options here so far is illustrative of how difficult it'll be for Democrats to take back the House even if a disaster blooms at the top of the GOP ticket.
● MO-01, 03: All of Missouri's eight House members (six Republicans and two Democrats) are seeking re-election, and we rate each seat as safe for the party that holds it. In the St. Louis-area 1st District, Democratic Rep. Lacy Clay faces a challenge from state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal. The 1st includes Ferguson, and Chappelle-Nadal is arguing that Clay did not do enough during the 2014 protests. Chappelle-Nadal hasn't raised much money, though she got some attention earlier this month after she helped lead a filibuster against a bill that would have let businesses refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings. (The bill ended up passing the state Senate and if it's approved by the state House, it will be on the ballot.) Still, Clay has plenty of powerful allies and there's little indication that primary voters want to fire him in August.
Over in the safely red 3rd District, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer faces a primary challenge from former state House Majority Leader Cynthia Davis. Davis most recently served as the Constitution Party's nominee for lieutenant governor in 2012 (she took 2 percent), so she's probably not a serious threat to Luetkemeyer.
● TN-08: This week, Shelby County Commissioner Steve Basar dropped out of the GOP primary for this red open seat. Basar originally flirted with running in the safely blue 9th District for some reason, so he never looked like a very serious contender. There are a ton of other Republicans running here: The Tennessee filing deadline is April 7, so things will fully take shape soon.
● House: The House Majority PAC, which you can think of as the official unofficial super PAC of the DCCC, has just made its first TV ad reservations for this fall. Not only is HMP the first major organization to publicly make such reservations, the group says that this is the earliest they've ever booked time. HMP's press release only listed the media markets where they've made reservations, but we've also included our best guesses as to which House districts they're specifically targeting in parentheses:
Denver, CO: $1,104,036 (CO-06)
West Palm Beach, FL: $901,770 (FL-18)
Cedar Rapids, IA: $316,217 (IA-01)
Des Moines, IA: $312,930 (IA-03)
Las Vegas, NV: $3,030,825 (NV-04, possibly NV-03)
Manchester, NH: $471,675 (NH-01)
New York City, NY: $544,712 (NY-01, NY-03, NJ-05)
Philadelphia, PA: $730,193 (PA-08, theoretically PA-06 & PA-07)
While early ad reservations help lock in cheaper rates, they can be adjusted or cancelled, so this list could change (and it will definitely grow). Note also that in several cases, such as New York, media markets overlap with multiple districts. That doesn't mean HMP is necessarily planning to target every race in each market, though, and they could also shift resources from one race to another within the same market.
All of the seats listed here are among the most competitive contests we expect to see this fall. Except for the two "reach" districts in Pennsylvania, Daily Kos Elections currently rates every seat as either Tossup or Lean Republican.
● Special Elections: Johnny Longtorso with Tuesday's recap:
Maine SD-32: Democrats held on to this seat, with Susan Deschambault defeating Republican Stephen Martin by a 58-42 margin.
● Demographics: In the years immediately following the 2008 financial crisis, it looked like a dramatic new demographic trend was happening: people increasingly moving to cities, rather than the suburbs. More recently, though, it looks like that trend was dying out, and now Jed Kolko has taken a more in-depth look and indeed finds that while the trend hasn't entirely dwindled, it's mostly limited to one particular demographic slice.
And that one slice is in the best position to write about it and make it seem like it's a bigger thing than it really is, since it's the mostly white, mostly affluent college-educated GenXers who don't have children (that doesn't sound at all like the members of the media, does it?). Only higher income households became more urban in the last 15 years, with the most movement to densely-urban neighborhoods occurring among the economic top 10 percent, and with the most movement away from cities occurring among the lowest 10 percent (who are increasingly getting suburbanized, further away from jobs and transportation).
The urban movement is only occurring among people 25 to 49, with the strongest movement occurring in the 35-39 set (the tail end of GenX). But the most defining characteristic among those piling into the dense cities in the last 15 years is, simply, being white. While increasing urbanization is still happening, it's unfolding in a somewhat more European way, with the affluent consolidating in city centers and the working class and people of color increasingly relegated to the faubourgs.
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.