● AL-Gov: On Tuesday, CBS Sports reported that Tommy Tuberville, who served as head coach of the Auburn University football team from 1998 to 2008, was considering seeking the GOP nomination to replace termed-out and scandal-tarred Alabama Republican Gov. Robert Bentley. Tuberville hasn't said anything publicly, and the news that he's looking at a bid apparently caught the head of the state party by surprise. However, CBS' Dennis Dodd says that Tuberville will decide in the next week or two, and that a statewide poll is currently in progress that could help him make up his mind.
A Tuberville candidacy would be pretty strange for a couple of reasons. College football is a very serious deal in the Deep South, and the rivalry between Auburn and the University of Alabama is no small thing. It's generally accepted that Alabama fans far outnumber Auburn fans in the state: A 2012 Public Policy Poll of GOP presidential primary voters found that respondents backed the Crimson Tide over the Auburn Tigers 58-28, while a 2014 analysis from the New York Times also found Auburn fans clustered around the town in the eastern part of the state, and Alabama dominating everywhere else.
Alabama supporters likely haven't forgiven Tuberville for beating them for six years in a row, and if they still hold it against him, he could have a tough time advancing. The state requires candidates to win a majority of the vote in the primary to avoid a runoff, so Tuberville couldn't just rally Auburn fans to a plurality victory. The state hasn't been completely unwilling to elect Auburn football alums: Fob James, who was a Tigers' star halfback in the 1950s, was elected governor in 1978 as a Democrat and in 1994 as a Republican. However, Tuberville famously enjoyed trolling Crimson Tide fans when he beat their team, so his crossover appeal may be much more limited.
Tuberville also hasn't been a Yellowhammer State resident in a long time. Tuberville was born and raised in Arkansas, and since his Auburn gig ended in 2008, he's coached at Texas Tech and Cincinnati; Tuberville only resigned as head coach at Cincinnati in December of last year. Tigers' fans may not care, but voters who see his Auburn past as a negative won't be so easy to persuade.
Next year's GOP primary will likely be dominated by outgoing Gov. Bentley's sex scandal. Bentley is currently under investigation for allegedly using state resources to cover up an affair with a staffer, though it's far from clear if the GOP-dominated legislature will end up suspending him from office, removing him altogether, or doing nothing. No one has entered the race yet, though plenty of Republicans are looking at this contest. Democrats are hoping that Bentley's problems will give them an opening, but it won't be easy to win in one of the most conservative states in the nation. However, it still may be easier to imagine a Democratic governor of Alabama than an Auburn governor of Alabama.
● MI-Sen: The GOP field to face Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow is taking shape very slowly. Ex-state Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville now says he'll decide by the summer, though it's unclear how interested state and national Republicans are in him. So far, two other Republicans have expressed interest in this seat: Rep. Fred Upton, and famous asshole Ted Nugent.
The Detroit Free Press says that some other names that are "popping up" are Rep. Justin Amash and ex-Rep. Mike Rogers, but it's unclear if either man is remotely interested. The Paulist Amash is also a big Trump critic, so it's very unlikely many D.C. Republicans actually want him to run. The article also name-drops Macomb Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller, but as one political consultant points out, it seems very unlikely that the former congresswoman would want to go back to Congress so soon after leaving it (though she hasn't ruled out running for governor). Ex-Gov. John Engler's name was also mentioned, but he quickly said no.
● OH-Sen: Last year, GOP state Sen. Matt Huffman expressed some interest in challenging Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown. However, with 2012 nominee and Treasurer-In-Name-Only Josh Mandel already running and well-funded Rep. Pat Tiberi, an ally of Gov. John Kasich, considering, it didn't look like Huffman had much space in the Republican primary, and he seems to have agreed. This week, Huffman said he wouldn't run.
● FL-Gov: Until now, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has refused to acknowledge that he's interested in seeking the Democratic nomination next year, though he's also done nothing to tamp down on any speculation. But in an interview with Ebony Magazine, Gillum acknowledged he was interested. It's unclear how interested, though, with Gillum declaring, "I believe in being courageous, but I don't believe in suicide missions. I think there has to be a relevant place to make a difference and a pathway to get there." A number of Democrats are eyeing this post and the GOP will put up a very tough fight to keep the governor's office, so Gillum has good reason to be cautious about a bid.
● GA-06: Clout Research, the pollster formally known as Wenzel Strategies, takes a look at the April all-party special election primary for the blog Zpolitics. They give Democrat Jon Ossoff 32 percent of the vote, with ex-Secretary of State Karen Handel leading fellow Republican and wealthy businessman Bob Gray 25-11 for the second place spot. If no one takes a majority, which is all but certain in this huge field, the top two candidates will advance to the June runoff.
There are a few things to note about this poll. Wenzel was one of the worst polling firms in the business, and Clout has also displayed some very strange habits. This particular poll also one other thing worth noting. Ossoff was the one Democrat tested, while four other minor Democrats did file. Ossoff will almost certainly do better than any of them, but there's still a chance that the others will take enough votes to cost him a spot in the general election.
Understandably, Clout did not test all 11 Republicans. One of the candidates they left off, certified public accountant David Abroms, says he'll spend $250,000 of his own money on his campaign. However, Abroms is running as a Trump skeptic, which probably isn't the path to electoral success in today's GOP.
● IA-01: A few days ago, state Rep. Abby Finkenauer expressed strong interest in challenging GOP Rep. Rod Blum in this eastern Iowa seat, and a few other local politicians are making noises about getting in. Bleeding Heartland has contacted a trio of Democrats who it previously mentioned as possible candidates, and none of the three are saying no.
Brent Oleson, the chair of the Board of Supervisors in Cedar Rapids' Linn County, seems the most interested. Oleson, who switched from the GOP in 2015 and later served as a Bernie Sanders delegate at the Democratic National Convention, denounced Trump and Blum in a statement to Bleeding Heartland, though he says he hasn't decided on anything. State Sen. Jeff Danielson, who has also been mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate, was asked about a possible bid against Blum and responded, "All options are on the table." Danielson, who wouldn't need to give up his seat to run next year, flirted with a bid in the 2014 cycle when this seat was open, but stayed put.
Steve Sodders lost his state Senate seat last year 53-47. Sodders, who also considered a 2014 bid, tells Bleeding Heartland that he's "currently keeping all my options open on a possible run for public office," and adds that he'll be meeting with people in the next few weeks "to determine what I believe will suit my family and where I can be most effective for Iowans." Engineer Courtney Rowe, an alternate Sanders delegate, is already in, but there's no sign that she'll have the support she'd need to win.
Whoever ends up with the Democratic nomination won't have an easy time against Blum. The Republican once looked like one of the most vulnerable House members in the 2016 cycle, but he pulled off a 54-46 win as his seat swung from 56-43 Obama to 49-45 Trump. If there's a backlash against Trump in 2018, the very conservative congressman could be in trouble, but Team Blue won't be underestimating Blum after last year.
● Omaha, NE Mayor: Republican Jean Stothert unseated Democratic incumbent Jim Suttle in 2013, and Democrats are hoping that state Sen. Heath Mello can return the favor this spring. At the end of 2016, each candidate had raised more money than any previous Omaha mayoral candidate ever had by this point in the race; however, Stothert's $890,000 warchest is much larger than Mello's $427,000.
All the candidates will compete in the April 4 non-partisan primary, and the top two contenders will advance to the May 9 general. It's very unlikely that anyone but Stothert and Mello will advance, and the general election cannot be averted if someone takes a majority in the primary. However, the primary might still end up being very important. If Stothert pulls off a strong performance in April, there's a risk that donors, looking to back a winner, will contribute heavily to the mayor. However, if Mello spends too much money in the primary, he may not have enough for the final sprint. Stothert has already started a small ad buy, and it's not clear how much Mello plans to spend before the general.
● St. Louis, MO Mayor: The Democratic primary to succeed St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is March 7, and the winner should have no trouble in the April general election in this very blue city. The only pollster we've seen numbers from is the GOP group Remington Research, and their Feb. 14-15 survey for the Missouri Times gives Alderwoman Lyda Krewson a clear lead. Krewson outpaces City Treasurer Tishaura Jones 34-16, with President of the Board of Aldermen Lewis Reed at 13 and Alderman Antonio French at 12.
Krewson, who has Slay's support, is the only serious white contender. Elections in St. Louis tend to be racially polarizing, so Krewson could benefit from facing three credible African-Americans in a contest where there is no runoff. Indeed, Remington finds that Krewson leads Jones 54-11 among white voters, while Reed edges Jones 22-20 among African-Americans, with French at 18. But as we always say, you should never let one pollster determine your view of a contest, and we'll know where things stand soon.
In any case, plenty of local power players are siding with other candidates besides Krewson. Rep. Lacy Clay, who represents the entire city in the House, endorsed Reed on Tuesday; in 2013, Clay sided with Slay over Reed. The state SEIU also backed Jones on Tuesday. Jones previously won an endorsement from ex-Secretary of State and 2016 Senate nominee Jason Kander.
● Nassau County, NY Executive: Last fall, Republican Ed Mangano, the executive of this populous Long Island county, was indicted on federal corruption charges. Mangano hasn't announced if he'll seek a third term this year, but it doesn't help him that his trial has been scheduled for January of 2018. However, unnamed local Republicans told Newsday in January that they strongly doubt that Mangano has any chance to be renominated, and the county party committee may even be picking their countywide slate soon. The GOP's nominating convention is also scheduled for May.
No credible Republicans have entered the race, but Newsday reported last month that at least four Republicans seem to be eyeing this race. Bruce Blakeman, a longtime Long Island politician who lost the 2014 race for New York's 4th Congressional District 53-47 and currently serves as a Hempstead town councilor, "has given every indication that he is interested," according to one unnamed GOP source. Ex-state Sen. Jack Martins, who lost a 2016 bid for the 3rd Congressional District
48-44 53-47 to Democrat Tom Suozzi (himself a former county executive), is reportedly considering, while some party members are supporting County Clerk Maureen O'Connell or Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin. None of those four politicians said anything at the time, and no one appears to have said anything over the last month.
Back in 2001, Suozzi broke the GOP's 32-year stranglehold over the Nassau County executive's office, but he unexpectedly lost re-election to Mangano in 2009 and lost their rematch four years later. Democrats are hoping that Mangano's problems will give them an opening, and last month, the county party endorsed County Legislator Laura Curran. However, Assemblyman Charles Levine and county Comptroller George Maragos, who was elected twice as a Republican and took a distant third place in the 2012 GOP U.S. Senate primary before switching parties, are still planning to run in the September Democratic primary.
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.