● DE-Sen: Democratic Sen. Tom Carper has served continuously in Delaware politics for 40 years, ever since he first won election as state treasurer in 1976. After that, he won a seat in the House in 1982, then became governor in 1992, and finally got elected to the Senate in 2000, defeating incumbent Republican Bill Roth in a 56-44 landslide.
But though he's twice won re-election with two-thirds of the vote, Carper hasn't yet made up his mind about whether to seek a fourth term in 2018; according to a statement from his office, the senator will make a decision "in the new year."
Should Carper opt to retire, the race to succeed him could be interesting. Most, if not all, of the action would be on the Democratic side, and progressives would be eager to replace the very centrist Carper with someone more liberal, though who that might be is an open question. Outgoing Gov. Jack Markell, who was term-limited, is just 56, and could be interested in a return to office. Markell would probably have the best chance to clear the field, though other First State Democrats could decide that a rare open Senate seat is worth fighting him over.
There are plenty of other Democrats who may be interested. Rep.-elect Lisa Blunt Rochester, who will represent the entire state in the House, hasn't even been sworn in yet, but she could nevertheless conceivably run (she certainly would not be the first House freshman to do so). State Attorney General Matt Denn was mentioned as a possible 2016 gubernatorial candidate before deferring to Rep. John Carney, and he could take a look at an open Senate seat. There's also a non-zero chance that Joe Biden, who clearly isn't quite ready to retire from politics, could seek to return to his longtime home in the Senate. But Carney, who will become governor in January, almost certainly won't start looking for a new job in D.C.
As for Republicans, they've been shut out on the federal level in Delaware for some time. Hillary Clinton carried the First State 53-42, and the last time the GOP won a Senate race there was in 1994, when Roth was re-elected for a fifth term. However, Republican Ken Simpler prevailed in a bid for state treasurer fairly decisively during the Republican wave two years ago and could try to go for broke in what would be another midterm election.
● LA-Sen: On behalf of Tulane University, Lucid takes a look at the Dec. 10 runoff, and gives Republican John Kennedy a 60-40 lead over Democrat Foster Campbell. Weirdly, this Lucid poll was conducted Nov. 8 to Nov. 18 but only released this week; an 11-day field period is also very long, and it's also odd that they started polling the day of the jungle primary. Lucid also doesn't appear to have allowed respondents to say they were undecided. (Jeff Singer, Tulane Political Science BA, Class of 2012.)
However, it's probably too much for Campbell to hope that this survey is just dramatically underestimating him. A mid-November survey from the GOP pollster Trafalgar Group had Kennedy up 58-35, while a Southern Media & Opinion Research poll for their "private subscribers" had the Republican leading "just" 52-38. However, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is still appearing in a runoff ad for Campbell. Edwards talks to the camera and pledges that Campbell "will stand with the new president when he's right for Louisiana, but has the courage to say 'no' when he's wrong." Edwards also says that Campbell could be the deciding vote against Social Security and Medicare cuts.
● UT-Sen: While Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch insisted during his 2012 campaign that he'd retire in 2018, he's been openly considering running again. It shouldn't surprise any of his would-be successors that Hatch is playing this game, though. When he successfully ran for the Senate against three-term Democratic incumbent Frank Moss in 1976, Hatch quipped, "What do you call a senator who's served in office for 18 years? You call him home." But apparently, when Hatch clicked his ruby slippers three times as his third term was concluding in 1994, nothing happened, and he decided to just stick around D.C. for a few more decades.
Still, a few optimistic souls seem to be holding out hope that Hatch will finally call it a career this time. World Trade Center Utah leader Derek Miller is the latest Republican to talk about a potential Senate bid. Miller didn't rule out running against Hatch, though he admitted the senator's decision will impact Miller's potential campaign. However, Miller did his part to gesture Hatch to the exit, saying that "at this point, Sen. Hatch said he would not run again. I believe he’s a man of his word so I’m proceeding based on that word."
But at least it sounds like, regardless of what Hatch decides to do, we can skip Josh Romney's flirtations this cycle. The real estate developer and son of some rich guy who lost to Ted Kennedy in 1994 put out a statement saying that he both "strongly support[s]" Hatch and is considering a 2020 run for governor. Romney didn't address what he'd do if Hatch retires this cycle, but we'll cross that bridge if we ever come to it. Romney has talked about running for office in Utah since 2008, when he considered challenging Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson, but he's never done it.
Speaking of Matheson, both the Deseret News and Daily Herald have name-dropped him as a possible contender. But there's no word if Matheson, who retired from the House in 2015, is actually interested, and he didn't return the Herald's call for comment last week. Matheson took a job with a lobbying firm in D.C. and joined the board of the controversial student loan company Sallie Mae soon after leaving office, a strong indication that he wasn't planning to run again anytime soon. Matheson would almost certainly be the strongest candidate Utah Democrats could possibly get, but as Evan Bayh learned the hard way, going from Congress to K Street and back again in a tough state is not easy.
● CO-Gov: A number of candidates from both parties are mulling a bid for governor in 2018, when Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper will be termed out. State Sen. Michael Merrifield added his name to the list on Saturday, telling an assembly of Democrats that he's "looking at options," including a run for governor in the wake of Donald Trump's victory.
If Merrifield gets in, gun safety will likely be a major issue in his campaign. Merrifield, a former NRA member, was the Colorado director for Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and he was elected in 2014 by defeating Republican incumbent Bernie Herpin; Herpin had been elected the previous year by unseating Democratic state Senate President John Morse through an NRA-backed recall campaign. Merrifield was also one of the few state legislators to back Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the presidential primary.
On the GOP side, state party chair Steve House says he'll decide in the first two weeks of January. Plenty of other Republicans have been mentioned, including state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, a second cousin of George W. Bush and Jeb Bush. Stapleton doesn't appear to have said anything publicly about his 2018 plans: The Gazette says he is one of the many people who are considering a run, but they don't say anything more than that.
● SC-Gov: Sen. Tim Scott seems dead-set on annoying us, the South Carolina press, and his fellow Republicans with his ridiculous Hamlet act over whether he'll run for governor. Last week, Scott finally acknowledged he was thinking about a bid and said he'd decide "in the first quarter" of next year, but on Monday, he told the Spartanburg Herald, "The more I pray, the more I am comfortable that where I am is where I want to be right now" and added that he might seek the governorship "in the year 2090." Since Scott would be a spry 125 years old come the '90 midterms, the paper reasonably concluded that he'd ruled out a bid.
Only he hadn't. Later that same day, Scott said, "I have not ruled it out," though he added, "I believe I can do more good in the Senate than I think I can as governor." We realize Republicans love messing with the media and do so with impunity, but there are supporters out there that Scott risks alienating by playing chaotic games like this.
So far, the only person we know for sure is running is GOP Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster, who will soon become governor once Gov. Nikki Haley is sworn in as Donald Trump's U.N. ambassador. A few other Republicans are considering bids, but they, like Scott, have to decide whether they really want to take on an incumbent member of their own party. Several Democrats are also looking at the race.
● CA-34: A third Democrat, labor activist Wendy Carillo, has entered the race for Rep. Xavier Becerra's soon-to-be-vacant House seat in Los Angeles, joining Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez and former Assembly Speaker John Perez. A fourth candidate may also get in: Democratic operative Michael Trujillo says that Sara Hernandez, a former aide to Los Angeles City Councilor José Huizar, has already started raising money and claims she's taken in $145,000, which would be a lot in a very short time. However, Hernandez has not yet formally launched a campaign.
Meanwhile, Perez has already gotten a ton of establishment support, and he just rolled out another big name: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is running for governor in 2018.
● LA-03: The all-GOP runoff is almost here, and an outside group is taking to the airwaves on behalf of former police officer Clay Higgins. The super PAC is called "Make Louisiana Great Again," so you can probably guess exactly what kind of ad they're running. The narrator says that "state records exposed" Higgins' opponent, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, for having "voted in Hillary's presidential primary." Angelle was a Democrat until 2010, so it's not exactly a huge revelation that he voted in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary (which Hillary Clinton lost to Barack Obama, so it's not even really "her" presidential primary).
The rest of the spot argues that "[l]ike Crooked Hillary, Angelle gamed the system" to make himself rich, while the narrator concludes by praising Higgins as someone who will "drain the swamp." Mercifully, while the commercial basically apes Donald Trump's Twitter account, the narrator doesn't attempt a Trump impersonation to make his point. Make Louisiana Great Again has spent $152,000 on media placement.
● DCCC: As expected, New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Lujan was elected to lead the DCCC for a second term without any opposition on Monday. Until now, the committee's head had always been picked by party leadership, and Nancy Pelosi tapped Lujan to serve again last month. But after her own successful re-election as minority leader, Pelosi instituted new reforms that made the D-Trip an elected post. However, no one stepped up to challenge Lujan, though we could see contested elections for the job in future cycles.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, and James Lambert.