● VA-02: On Thursday, Republican Rep. Scott Rigell announced that he would retire. The three-term congressman decisively turned back Democratic challengers in 2012 and 2014, but Democrats will be eyeing his Hampton Roads district now that he's gone.
However, Virginia's new court-drawn map made this seat a few points redder. While Obama carried the old version of the 2nd 50-49, Romney took it 51-49. The Republicans are hoping that the U.S. Supreme Court will restore the old map, but it's quite possible that Rigell is leaving because he feels confident that the new lines are here to stay, and that Team Red will have a good shot to hold his seat even without him.
The new version of this district includes Virginia Beach and the Virginia Peninsula, as well as some territory around Williamsburg and Norfolk. Most of Hampton Roads' legislative Democrats represent land in the 3rd District, but a Democratic source gives Roll Call's Simone Pathé a few potential names. One familiar face is Jody Wagner, who lost a close race for this seat in 2000 and went on to serve in the cabinet under Democratic Govs. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. Wagner was the Democratic lieutenant governor nominee in 2009, but she lost 57-43 in an awful year for Team Blue. Another possible contender is wealthy 2012 nominee Paul Hirschbiel, who lost 54-46; businesswoman Andria McClellan, who is running for a spot on the Norfolk Council, could also be interested.
There are a number of Hampton Roads Republicans who could run here. Indeed, Del. Scott Taylor quickly confirmed that he was "strongly considering" a bid, and he says he'll make a formal decision on Friday. Taylor only took 8 percent when he ran for the GOP nod in 2010, but that was before he won a spot in the legislature. The Washington Post also points out that Taylor, a former Navy SEAL, is a frequent guest on FOX, so he might have some useful connections and name recognition with conservatives. If Taylor gets in, expect him to make national security his key issue: Taylor recently published a book unsubtly titled, "Trust Betrayed: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the Selling Out of America's National Security."
The list of potential GOP candidates doesn't stop there. Republican sources tell Pathé that two other alums of the 2010 primary, Army Reserve Maj. Gen. Bert Mizusawa and defense contractor Ben Loyola, could go for it again. Pathé also mentions wealthy ex-state Sen. Jeff McWaters, whom operatives say would be the frontrunner; state Sen. Frank Wagner; and Dels. Glenn Davis, Bill DeSteph, and Chris Stolle. Because Virginia holds its state legislative elections in odd-numbered years, no legislators would need to risk their seats to run.
One other name that's getting some attention is Rep. Randy Forbes, though he hasn't dropped any hints that he wants to run here. The new map turns Forbes' 4th District into a safely blue seat, and he could run here instead. However, the 2nd isn't very hospitable territory for Forbes. The new 2nd doesn't contain any of Forbes' current constituency; the old version of VA-02 also didn't contain any of the turf Forbes represented from 2001 to 2010.
Forbes' district does stretch into the Norfolk media market, so plenty of 2nd District residents will likely recognize him. If enough local Republican politicians run here, Forbes' name recognition could be enough to get him through the primary with a plurality, but he'll need a lot to go right for him.
As a reminder, you can find all quarterly Senate fundraising numbers released to date on our tracker.
● IL-Sen: Andrea Zopp (D): $314,000 raised, $714,000 cash on hand
● KS-Sen: Jerry Moran (R-inc): $750,000 raised, $3.1 million cash on hand
● PA-Sen: Katie McGinty (D): $980,000 raised, $1.2 million cash on hand
● WI-Sen: Russ Feingold (D): $2.7 million raised, $4.8 million cash on hand
● AZ-01: Paul Babeu (R): $306,000 raised
● CA-17: Mike Honda (D-inc): $290,000 raised, $571,000 cash on hand; Ro Khanna (D): $500,000 raised, $1.7 million cash on hand
● FL-11: Justin Grabelle (R): $112,000 raised (in two months)
● NV-03: Jesse Sbaih (D): $41,000 raised, $200,000 loaned, $494,000 cash on hand
● CA-Sen: On Thursday, Assembly Speaker-elect Anthony Rendon endorsed Attorney General Kamala Harris. Harris faces Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a fellow Democrat, in the June top-two primary. Like Sanchez, Rendon is a prominent Hispanic politician from Southern California.
● CO-Sen: Wealthy businessman Robert Blaha, who spent three-quarters of a million bucks on an unsuccessful House bid in 2012, has finally made his entry into the GOP Senate primary official. Previewing the themes he'll campaign on, Blaha made an unusual term-limits pledge: "If I am not able to reduce illegal immigration by 50 percent, drastically cut the deficit, and help fix this horrific tax system, I'll voluntarily leave after one term." (We will be sure to follow up with Sen. Blaha on those immigration statistics in 2021.)
Blaha hasn't said how much of his own money he'll put into this campaign, but he's already going up on the air with two separate, albeit small, buys: One for $47,000 on Fox News and another for just $9,000 that will air during the Broncos-Steeler playoff game in Denver this Sunday. If you watch his minute-long ad, you won't be surprised to learn that it was created by Fred "Demon Sheep" Davis (perhaps with an assist from Lloyd Kaufman).
The spot begins by featuring an exploding toilet, followed by a doctor delivering an uncomfortable proctological exam: If you have a bad plumber or physician, Blaha explains, you get a new one! And so, he wonders, "Why on earth do we keep sending bozos like Michael Bennet back to Washington?" Gotta admit, though: The band-aid across the eye of the Harry Reid bobble-head doll is a nice touch.
● IN-Sen: Tea partying Rep. Marlin Stutzman replaced pretty much his entire senior campaign team over the last few months, and the internal chaos appears to have hampered his fundraising. While Stutzman brought in $618,000 from July to September, he took in just $335,000 over the last three months. By contrast, Republican primary rival and fellow Rep. Todd Young's fundraising actually increased over this time: Young raised $720,000 over the summer, and $750,000 in the latest quarter.
But as bad as things are for Stutzman, he's still miles ahead of ex-state party chair Eric Holcomb. Holcomb raised just $60,000 over the last three months, which would be bad for a House campaign. Holcomb and Young both hail from the establishment wing of the GOP, and Young won't be sorry to see Holcomb bomb during the May primary.
Stutzman did just go one the air with his first spot but unsurprisingly, he isn't putting much cash behind it. Politico reports that the size of the buy for Stutzman's farmers rule, lawyers drool ad is $60,000.
● KY-Sen: While veteran Andrew Horne mulled a bid against Republican Sen. Rand Paul, he recently told Inside Louisville's Joe Sonka that he wouldn't go for it. The filing deadline is Jan. 26, and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray is the only notable Democrat who is still publicly considering running here.
● NC-Sen: On Thursday, EMILY's List endorsed Deborah Ross, a former state House Democratic whip. Ross faces Spring Lake Mayor Chris Rey in the March primary for the right to take on Republican Sen. Richard Burr, and EMILY could help Ross raise money for what would be an uphill race against Burr.
● ND-Gov: Wealthy businessman Doug Burgum confirmed on Thursday that he's running for governor, and that he'd do so as a Republican. Burgum, who's never sought for office before and had toyed with the idea of running as an independent, will face Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and state Rep. Rick Becker in the GOP primary. Stenehjem starts the race with the greatest name recognition and broadest political base, but Burgum's money could be a wildcard. Democrats don't have a candidate for this open seat yet, though former state Agriculture Commissioner Sarah Vogel has said she's considering. However, Republicans will be heavily favored in the general election in this red state.
● FL-06: Ex-New Smyrna Beach Mayor Adam Barringer never raised much money or won any influential endorsements, so it's not a huge surprise to see him end his bid for the GOP nod. Barringer said that he feared that the Volusia County vote would be split if he stayed in the race, making it easier for "a 'carpetbagger' to come in and steal this election." While Barringer didn't name the candidate he wanted to stop, he's been hitting Navy veteran Brandon Patty for living outside the district.
Barringer may have broken some news about another candidate's plans as well. Barringer writes that he made his decision after he learned that state Reps. Fred Costello and David Santiago would both run. However, as of Thursday, only Santiago is in. Costello, who sought a previous version of this seat in 2012, endorsed ex-Rep. Sandy Adams back in May. However, Adams dropped out of the race this week due to health problems, and Costello is reportedly interested in running now. Costello hasn't said anything publicly about his plans, but that didn't stop Barringer from endorsing him.
● IL-15: State Sen. Kyle McCarter got some good news last week when the the deep-pocketed Club For Growth backed his primary campaign against longtime Republican Rep. John Shimkus. However, Public Opinion Strategies is out with a new poll arguing that Shimkus isn't in any danger in this safely red seat. POS gives Shimkus a 65-13 lead, almost identical to an unreleased October poll, and he posts a strong 67-14 favorable rating with GOP primary voters. This poll looks like it was taken for Shimkus (POS lists him as a client on their website), but Capitol Fax's Rich Miller doesn't make that explicit.
The primary is March 15 so if POS is anywhere close to accurate, McCarter and his allies don't have much time to convince Republicans that they need to dump the incumbent. Though as we've said before and will say again, if McCarter has numbers showing that primary voters really are tired of Shimkus, he should release them before anti-establishment groups decide that this contest isn't a good use of their money.
● MI-01: On Thursday, ex-state Sen. Jason Allen announced that he would run to succeed retiring Rep. Dan Benishek. Allen lost the 2010 GOP primary to Benishek by just 15 votes, and it sounds like Benishek hasn't put the tight race behind him. While state Sen. Tom Casperson has been running here for months, Benishek picked Thursday to endorse him, and it's pretty likely his move was timed to take some of the wind out of Allen's sails. Romney won this northern Michigan seat 54-45, but influential Democrats think that ex-state party chair Lon Johnson can flip it.
● NC-09: Back in August, Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger acknowledged that his family's real estate company, Pittenger Land Investments, is the target of an FBI investigation. Pittenger still looks safe in this dependably red seat: The incumbent only faces a primary challenge from former CIA agent George Rouco, who appears to be more of a Some Dude than an actual threat. However, Rouco just picked up an endorsement from Sue Myrick, who represented this area from 1995 to 2013.
While Myrick didn't mention the investigation directly, she noted that the American people "see their representatives as serving themselves—not the people who elected them," a very thinly veiled shot at Pittenger. Myrick backed another candidate against Pittenger in 2012, so there's little love lost between the two, but Myrick's support could encourage voters and influential Republicans to take a look at Rouco. The primary is March 15, so Rouco doesn't have time on his side. Other North Carolina Republicans are sticking with Pittenger: The congressman has the support of Sen. Richard Burr and powerful Rep. Patrick McHenry.
● NJ-05: Last year, ultra-conservative GOP Rep. Scott Garrett declared he wouldn't give money to the NRCC because of the committee's support for gay candidates, and he soon began reaping the rewards for his bigotry: Many in the financial industry, who once backed him heavily because of his position as chair of the House's Subcommittee on Capital Markets, have pointedly abandoned him. This isn't a new story—major Wall Street donors cancelled a fundraiser just weeks after Garret's hostility toward gays became public, and some started helping his Democratic opponent, Josh Gottheimer—but Bloomberg Politics' Joshua Green has put together a very insightful piece on the struggle between Garrett and pro-equality forces in the financial sector. It's very much worth a read.
● NY-03: North Hempstead town Councilwoman Anna Kaplan is currently the only Democrat running for this open swing seat, and it’s possible departing Rep. Steve Israel wants it to stay that way. An unnamed "Nassau County Democratic source" tells The Island Now's Noah Manskar that Israel encouraged Kaplan to run before he announced he would retire last week. Israel even reportedly introduced Kaplan to influential Democrats, including DCCC head Ben Ray Lujan, while she was in Washington last month. However, in the very same piece, a nameless “source close to Israel” rejected any assertion that Israel “told Kaplan to run.” There are many other Democrats who could run here, but Kaplan's head start could give her the edge in a competitive primary.
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.