• VA-LG: We always knew that a guy like E.W. Jackson could never be silenced. But the incendiary minister (and GOP lieutenant governor nominee) isn't just determined to preach his own message at all costs. According to a new report in the Washington Post, he's insisted on keeping his campaign totally independent from the state Republican Party, spurning all offers of assistance as though they were radioactive plague bacteria:
Jackson has refused the party's nuts-and-bolts logistical help, choosing not to tap into resources that include the GOP's trove of voter data and more than 40 field offices around the state, according to four Republican operatives. [...]One of these anonymous operatives thinks that Jackson is "laying the groundwork actively to blame somebody else—the establishment—for losing." That wouldn't surprise me in the least, but then again, outsider candidates always blame "the establishment," rather than their inability to connect with voters, for their failure.
Jackson has taken a pass on all of that, according to the four strategists. When Jackson volunteers call voters or canvass neighborhoods, the strategists said, they work off the campaign's own compilation of names, numbers and addresses instead of the party's expansive database of likely Republicans, independents and Democrats.
It's a virtually unheard-of forfeiture of resources for a statewide candidate. Jackson's team does not coordinate with the party, which has its own army of volunteers knocking and dialing on behalf of the entire ticket, which can lead to duplication of effort, the strategists said. Instead of using phone banks set up in the party's "victory offices" around the state, Jackson callers ring voters from home phones.
• HI-Sen: Environmental issues have long been a central focus for Sen. Brian Schatz, so earning the Sierra Club's endorsement in the Democratic primary isn't unexpected for him. But it's worth mentioning because Sierra spent some legitimate coin on independent expenditures in the 2011-12 cycle, $1.7 million all told. That includes $150,000 to help another Hawaii Democrat win a primary last year, now-Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
• MT-Sen, MT-AL: Former state Sen. Corey Stapleton has confirmed that he'll run for the House instead of the Senate, a move you can read in two ways. One is that Rep. Steve Daines is about to enter the Senate race himself, hence other hopefuls would prefer to make way for him (and take a higher-percentage shot at his House seat) rather then get smushed in a primary. The other is that Daines is still unsure about a Senate bid (or is just trying to maximize his leverage) and so Republicans are trying to induce him to run by clearing the field.
It's certainly hard to say. But if Daines were such a sure thing for Senate, then why not announce already? Indeed, Stapleton claimed on Tuesday that Daines's staff "indicated" to him that Daines was going to run for Senate, which prompted the Daines camp to reiterate that their guy is "taking his time to think about it." That says to me there's a non-zero chance Daines might just stay put.
• AK-Gov: Byron Mallot, who has a long resume that includes a number of different elected and appointed positions, says that he'll run for governor next year, making him the first Democrat to do so. His most prominent role was probably as executive director of the Alaska Permanent Fund, a state-owned corporation funded by oil revenues that is best known for distributing annual dividend checks to state residents. (The dividend reached a high of $2,000 in 2008.) Given his proximity to the Arctic Circle, that sort of makes Mallot the real-life equivalent of Santa Claus. Nice try, Kerry Bentivolio.
• CA-Gov: USC has a new online poll (PDF) focused mostly on education that also includes some toplines on hypothetical gubernatorial matchups next year. The survey, conducted jointly by one Republican and one Democratic pollster (MFour and Tulchin Research, respectively), finds Dem Gov. Jerry Brown leading ex-LG Abel Maldonado 42-21, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly 43-21, and businessman Neel Kashkari 44-15. Obviously this methodology is yielding some very high undecideds and probably needs to be refined.
• MA-Gov: With ex-Sen. Scott Brown no longer an option, Republicans managed to snag their most prominent remaining candidate for governor, 2010 nominee Charlie Baker, who just announced a second bid on Wednesday. Baker served as a state cabinet official in the 1990s, then left to become CEO Harvard Pilgrim Health Care for a decade. Republicans were very excited about his chances the first time he sought the governorship, but after he lost to Gov. Deval Patrick by a 48-42 margin, he was heavily criticized for running too far to the right.
This time, Baker will have the advantage of pursuing an open seat, but if the massive red tide of 2010 wasn't enough to propel him to victory then, he'd have to both work extremely hard and get very lucky to win in what's shaping up to be a more neutral year.
• OH-Gov: Tea party groups are mad as hell at Republican Gov. John Kasich over his support for expanding Medicaid and they're not going to take it anymore. Tom Zawistowski, a tea party leader who lost a bid for state party executive director to a Kasich ally, is leading an effort to dump Kasich one way or another. Zawistowski and his various allies plan to back Libertarian Party candidate Charlie Earl if no one rises to challenge Kasich in the primary. In true tea party form, Zawistowski doesn't care if his machinations hurt the GOP's chances, declaring, "John Kasich is going to lose in 2014. We don't care who else wins." Let the cat fud fly! (Darth Jeff)
• RI-Gov: Facing a long string abysmal poll numbers, Gov. Lincoln Chafee announced on Wednesday that he would not seek a second term next year. While the announcement is being portrayed in some quarters as a Big Deal, the reality is that Chafee, who recently switched his affiliation from independent to Democrat, would have had a very hard time winning his new party's primary, and his departure doesn't alter the playing field very much.
State Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras are both likely to run, and both are well-funded—and much more popular than Chafee. A PPP poll taken early this year, before Chafee's party change, showed him taking just 22 percent in a hypothetical primary, while Raimondo led with 35 and Taveras was close behind with 19. Even if some Democratic voters have since warmed to Chafee on account of his new party membership, that's a pretty lousy place to start, and he evidently recognized that.
With Chafee gone, Taveras and Raimondo will likely battle it out for the Democratic nomination, with the former pitching himself as the progressive choice and the latter a more business-y type. Republicans don't have much of a shot here, just thanks to Rhode Island's dark blue demographics, but Cranston Mayor Alan Fung and 2010 nominee John Robitaille might make a go of it.
• VA-Gov: Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe are both out with new ads in the Virginia governor's race. Cuccinelli's is a minute-long spot devoted to his successful efforts to free Thomas Haynesworth, who was wrongly convicted of rape and served 27 years in prison. McAuliffe's attacks Cuccinelli for proposing one of "the most extreme divorce laws in America" that would have eliminated no-fault divorce.
• CA-07: Ex-Rep. Doug Ose, who had been considering a run since at least March, finally entered the race to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Ami Bera on Tuesday. He joins unsuccessful 2012 GOP Senate nominee Elizabeth Emken, though another Republican, Igor Birman, who is chief of staff to Rep. Tom McClintock, says he'll get in on Thursday.
• MI-11: At long last, accidental Rep. Kerry Bentivolio has received the sort of primary challenge you'd expect him to get. Well-connected local attorney David Trott, who was put forth by a number of Republicans last year as a possible write-in after ex-Rep. Thad McCotter's extraordinary ballot access implosion, just announced that he'll seek to unseat the reindeer farming, Santa-impersonating Vietnam and Iraq veteran in the GOP primary.
The tea partying Bentivolio lucked into his seat in Congress in 2012 because he had actually filed paperwork to run against McCotter, leaving him as the only Republican candidate on the ballot after McCotter's petitions were exposed as fraudulent. Bentivolio may be best known for once saying in a deposition that "I have a problem figuring out which one I really am, Santa Claus or Kerry Bentivolio." I'm going to guess the GOP establishment isn't going to make an effort to prop him up.
• NH-01: State Rep. Pam Tucker says she'll challenge Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter if ex-Rep. Frank Guinta decides against a rematch. But remember that New Hampshire isn't like other states, where a sitting state representative might actually be considered a good get for a congressional race. The state House has a mammoth 400 members, meaning each serves only 3,300 constituents on average. As Wikipedia notes, if Congress operated on the same ratio, it would have 99,000 members.
• NH-02: New Hampshire Republicans have finally landed an actual candidate for something next year. As expected, former state Sen. Gary Lambert has decided to run against freshman Rep. Annie Kuster in the state's 2nd Congressional District. Lambert is a Marine and an Iraq vet, but he only served a single term in the Senate, so he doesn't have much of a profile.
• TX-30: Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, who at the age of 77 had faced your typical retirement rumors, just announced that she'll seek re-election. Johnson handily fended off two challengers in last year's Democratic primary, though one of them, ex-state Rep. Barbara Mallory Caraway, is trying again. However, she only took 18 percent in 2012 and isn't likely to pose a serious threat to the incumbent.
• CO Recall: One should always view early voting numbers with a measure of skepticism, since it's hard to say in advance if they actually mean much. Sample sizes can be misleadingly small, and if one party or the other has focused heavily on Election Day turnout, early voting can either make things look more gaudy or gloomy than they actually are. That said, you never really want to trail in the early ballots, so it's at least nominally good news for state Sen. Angela Giron that registered Democrats have out-voted Republicans three-to-one in the first three days of early voting, ahead of Tuesday's recall.
But the outcome is still very much unknown, particularly since there's been no public polling of either this race or state Sen. John Morse's. What's more, the NRA just dumped another $250,000 into the recalls, so they're fighting this one out to the very end.
• NYC Comptroller: There's less than a week left before Tuesday's Democratic primary, Quinnipiac's new poll still shows an incredibly tight race for comptroller. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer barely edges former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, 47-45. A week earlier, the race was tied at 46. A recent Siena poll (the one with the very long field period) had Spitzer up 15, but another survey from Penn Schoen Berland had him ahead by just 3.
• NYC Mayor: With just days to go ahead of Tuesday's Democratic primary, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is joining former Comptroller Bill Thompson in going negative on front-runner Bill de Blasio. In a new TV ad, Quinn tries to undermine de Blasio's argument that he's the "true progressive" option in the race with two separate attacks. First, the narrator says that de Blasio "took over $50,000 from slumlords on his own list of the city's worst landlords."
Then the spot features a clip of de Blasio himself saying, "You can't eliminate the basic police tactic of stop-and-frisk because it is a valid policing tactic," before cramming in a quick positive on Quinn. Were I Quinn, I'd have led with the de Blasio footage and run that exclusively, because he's both tried to portray himself as the candidate most hostile to stop-and-frisk while simultaneously taking a nuanced position on it. Indeed, in his own ads, de Blasio carefully says he'll end "a stop-and-frisk era that targets minorities"—not end stop-and-frisk altogether.
Of course, Quinn doesn't support ending stop-and-frisk, either, and de Blasio is howling that Quinn selectively edited his remarks, but this is politics, and trying to make your opponents pay for nuance is standard procedure. Quinn just doesn't seem to want to go for the jugular, though, but given de Blasio's recent surge in polling and the very short amount of time left, it probably doesn't matter.
P.S. Thompson also has a new ad, touting his support from teachers (and their unions), including his own daughter.
• OH Ballot: A new poll sponsored by a group supporting marriage equality indicates that Ohioans may not yet be ready to repeal their state's constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex unions, though some activists are pushing for a ballot measure to do just that. The survey, conducted by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute and paid for by the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, finds 51 percent opposing a repeal versus 45 percent in favor.
However, support for marriage equality is a bit higher, with 47 percent both supporting and opposing the idea. That suggests there's a group of voters who are reluctant to amend the state constitution, even to support something they believe in. If the ballot effort does go forward, reaching out to this cohort will be critical.