SSP Daily Digest: 12/7

AR-Sen: State Sen. Gilbert Baker has generally been treated as the frontrunner in the Arkansas GOP’s Senate field, and that became a little clearer over the weekend with the state party’s straw poll. It was a close race, though: Baker got 35% (out of 700 votes), followed closely by businessman and Huckabee crony Curtis Coleman at 33. The biggest surprise may be who finished 3rd: former Army colonel and “Christian identity” enthusiast Conrad Reynolds, at 23, followed by head teabagger Tom Cox at 4, state Sen. Kim Hendren an embarrassing 2, and some dudes Fred Ramey and Buddy Rogers at 2 and 1 apiece.

LA-Sen: Republican SoS Jay Dardenne isn’t seeming to take any steps to gear up for a primary challenge to Sen. David Vitter, but he keeps not doing anything to make the rumors go away, either. Dardenne recently said he’s considering polling the race soon, which would require setting up an exploratory committee. The only poll of a Vitter/Dardenne matchup, from R2K in March, gave Vitter an 11-pt edge.

MT-Sen: If Max Baucus is running again in 2014, this is the kind of publicity he doesn’t need in the meantime. It turns out that Baucus, who separated from his wife last year, then began an affair with his office director Melodee Hanes — and then nominated her to be Montana’s new US Attorney. She didn’t get the position, although she does now work in a different role for the DOJ.

NC-Sen: After a lot of back and forth, former state Sen. Cal Cunningham made his campaign for the Democratic Senate nomination official today. You can see his launch video at the above link. However, Chapel Hill mayor Kevin Foy, who’d floated his name out there for the Democratic nod, confirmed that he won’t be getting in the race.

NY-Sen-B, NY-Gov: After trumpeting the rumors a few weeks ago that Rudy Giuliani was poised to enter the Senate race against Kirsten Gillibrand, now the Daily News is assessing Rudy’s decision to take on a long-term, high-profile consulting gig as security expert for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and concluding that he’s not looking so likely as a candidate for anything now. Meanwhile, over on the Dem side of the aisle, Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer, who briefly planned a primary challenge to Kirsten Gillibrand, has now finally offered an endorsement to her.

PA-Sen: Rep. Joe Sestak pulled in his first endorsement from a fellow Congressperson in his primary campaign against Arlen Specter. Rep. Barney Frank offered his support today, saying that he considers Sestak one of the most valuable members of Congress.

NV-Gov: With a recent Mason-Dixon poll showing Democratic Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman with a small lead as an independent in various gubernatorial race permutations, Goodman is now publicly weighing the race. He says he’ll have an answer “real soon,” but that his wife has already given him the green light on a run.

AL-02: Can teabagging save Bobby Bright next year? Not by him doing it (or we can only hope)… instead, Montgomery city counilor Martha Roby, the NRCC’s pick in the race, is going to face a primary challenge from the ultra-right. Businessman Rick Barber, who’s been active in local tea parties and the 9/12 Washington march, is planning to take on Roby. He has to be encouraged by an interesting new poll from Rasmussen, which suggests that, given a choice between a Democrat, a Republican, and a Tea Party member in the upcoming election, the Tea Partier would beat the Republican, 23-18 (with the Democrat prevailing at 36%).

PA-06: Wealthy pharma executive Steven Welch, who fled from the race in the 7th to the 6th when Patrick Meehan appeared, is now earning “RINO” labels and the enmity of the RedStaters. Welch not only gave Joe Sestak $300 in 2006, but also was a registered Democrat from 2006 through 2008. Also, another GOPer is sniffing out the race (as the possible fifth entrant in the GOP field): Scott Zelov, commissioner of very wealthy and moderate Lower Merion Township on the Main Line.

TN-08: State Sen. Roy Herron is fighting back against the wide-ranging attacks leveled against him by the NRCC, as his candidacy for the 8th enters its second week. (Recall from last week that the NRCC has been gay-baiting Herron.) Herron called the NRCC’s attacks “ridiculous and desperate,” to which the NRCC said Herron was “foaming at the mouth” and “hurling ‘Yo mama’-style insults.” As much as the NRCC is transparently guilty of what they accuse Herron of, they at least win some points for evocative language here. An article from the Tennessean lists a few other Dems who may be interested in the seat, despite Herron’s quick entry, one of whom is a big name: former state House speaker Jimmy Naifeh (who had considered a run in 1988, when John Tanner took over the seat). They also list state Sen. Doug Jackson as a possibility.

NY-St. Sen.: State Sen. Hiram Monserrate is managing to escape his misdemeanor assault conviction with no jail time, leaving his colleagues wondering what to do with him (including censure, suspension, or expulsion). Also, good news for the Dems as they look for ways to expand their narrow majority: one of the last Republicans left in the Senate within the New York City limits, Frank Padavan, may get a top-tier challenge next year from former city councilor Tony Avella (last seen losing the mayoral primary to William Thompson).

Mayors: Kasim Reed has been certified as elected as the new mayor of Atlanta. His opponent, city councilor Mary Norwood, still plans to request a recount of the election, decided by a margin of less than one thousand votes. In New York City, guess who finished fourth in the mayoral race: fictional character C. Montgomery Burns, who got more write-in votes than any other candidate. Why just vote for a billionaire buying the office who’s only a little bit creepy and evil, when instead you can go the Full Monty?

History: Here’s an interesting piece of trivia: a woman was not elected to the U.S. Senate, without having been the wife or daughter of a previous Senator, until 1980. That woman was Republican Paula Hawkins, who served as Florida’s Senator for one term, and in her outspoken self-proclaimed averageness, telegenic ultra-conservatism, and resentments of liberal media elites, was something of a Sarah Palin prototype. Hawkins died over the weekend at age 82.

Polltopia: Here’s another thoughtful article at on what’s driving Rasmussen’s perceptibly pro-Republican house effects, from professor Alan Abramowitz. He says that there’s more going on than just their use of a likely voter model; he sees a major difference between Rasmussen and other pollsters in terms of the Democratic advantage in party identification. Meanwhile, PPP is asking for your help yet again: they’d like your input on which House district to poll next. Should it be CO-03, CO-04, ID-01, NH-01, NM-01, NM-02, or SD-AL?

83 thoughts on “SSP Daily Digest: 12/7”

  1. Great news. Avella is pro-marriage equality. If we can beat Padavan and replace Monserrate with a pro-equality Democrat, we’re just 6 votes away.

  2. In D.C where elected officials try to outdo each other in the realm of infidelity? Or is Baucus engaged in some bet with John Ensign about who is the worse offender of martial fidelity?

  3. though my second choice would have been NH-01.

    Also, re: NRCC gay-baiting people: I want to know just how many NRCC people are “nasty, naughty boy[s]”.

  4. I was under the assumption that we were pretty safe there, considering SHS won the last two elections by 40 points and 36 points. Is there a big time challenger this year or something?

  5. This is the kind of garbage we don’t need in the US Senate primary in North Carolina if we want to defeat Richard Burr.

    The below statements from Elaine Marshall’s campaign manager Thomas Mills:

    12/1: “It’s pretty tasteless to leak or announce you’re running on the day that Secretary Marshall’s dealing with her husband’s funeral.  But if he is running, this is all about D.C. money.  He’s waited until he got the approval of D.C. power brokers – that’s not a very good indication of the type of Senator he would make.”

    12/7: “Cal Cunningham is the hokey pokey candidate.  First he was in, and then he was out, and now he’s back in.  He’s in this election because Washington wants to choose North Carolina’s Democratic Senate nominee.”

    What the hell is this shit.  The Marshall campaign is already going negative.  HE JUST ANNOUNCED TODAY and her minions are already setting a divisive tone for an important primary.  This is pathetic.  I’m losing more and more respect for Secretary Marshall every day.

  6. With NM-02 a close second.  I’m curious on how the Democratic brand is doing here.  We’ve made some serious crossroads here.

  7. Salazar, Heinrich, and Herseth-Sandlin even being included in a poll right now worries me.

    Anyway, I’ll go with ID-01, curious to see how Minnick is looking. He’s worked hard to craft an image that fits his district.

    SD-AL would be my second choice. Herseth-Sandlin is one of my favorite Democrats. I’m hoping we have nothing to worry about.

  8. Republicans spending money to hack themself up in a primary over an R+15 district is a dream come true.  They should have to spend about $10 to win this district, but instead it looks like it could be one of their biggest expenditures in the country.

  9. (R)asmussen polled the South Carolina Governor’s race.  The democratic frontrunner Rex holds up very well, beating Bauer and staying close to the other two.  Guess Bauer being Lt. Gov under Sanford hurts him, even if the two dislike each other.

    South Carolina Survey of 500 Likely Voters

    December 2, 2009

    2010 South Carolina Governor Race

    Gresham Barrett(R) 39%

    Jim Rex (D) 33%

    Some Other Candidate 7%

    Not Sure 21%

    2010 South Carolina Governor Race

    Andre Bauer (R) 35%

    Jim Rex (D) 36%

    Some Other Candidate 13%

    Not Sure 16%

    2010 South Carolina Governor Race

    Henry McMaster (R) 39%

    Jim Rex (D) 32%

    Some Other Candidate 10%

    Not Sure 19%

    2010 South Carolina Governor Race

    Gresham Barrett (R) 45%

    Vincent Sheheen (D) 23%

    Some Other Candidate 11%

    Not Sure 20%

    2010 South Carolina Governor Race

    Andre Bauer(R) 39%

    Vincent Sheheen (D) 29%

    Some Other Candidate 13%

    Not Sure 19%

    2010 South Carolina Governor Race

    Henry McMaster(R) 43%

    Vincent Sheheen (D) 26%

    Some Other Candidate 10%

    Not Sure 21%


  10. Gay marriage passes judiciary committee 7-6.

    Dems Paul Sarlo and John Girgenti joined Repubs Jennifer Beck, Gerald Carnivale, Christopher Bateman, and Joe Kyrillos in opposition. Republican Bill Baroni joined Dems Nia Gill, Ray Lesniak, Nick Scutari, Bob Smith, Brian Stack, and Loretta Weinberg in support.

    Seeing as how Sarlo and Girgenti are chair and vice-chair respectively of the committee, I can’t imagine that primary challenges would go anywhere.

    Baroni’s vote is definitely a psychological boost, proves that the Republican bandwagon we saw in NY isn’t always the case.

    Assuming Richard Codey can break ties (I’m not sure how that works in NJ…) we can only afford to lose 2 more Dems. That is, unless other Rs see Baroni and think, hey, just because I’m a Republican doesn’t mean I have to be a heartless twat.

    Anyone with more knowledge of NJ politics have an idea of our chances?

  11. Someone else said this before, but the only problem that seems to exist here is the lack of disclosure on it. From what I’m gathering, the person in question is actually qualified for the position, and since she didn’t get it anyways, it’s a moot point.

  12. There had been many senators, including GOPers who were on the fence but the way the whole vote went down, during a special session, very rushed and already with the expectation it’d probably fail made it not make anyone want to take the chance on it.

    NJ’s senate judiciary committee is voting today with the full senate voting on Thursday I believe it was.

  13. If we’re going to get the votes for marriage equality.  The map is just too heavily gerrymandered and there’s enough anti-marriage Democrats to derail the whole effort if the vote is tried again.  That, and me driving up to Albany so I can punch Addabbo in the nuts for selling out on the marriage vote after courting the Stonewall Democrats endorsement will get us there (the latter won’t change much, but it will make me feel better).

  14. by continually forcing the vote on the State Senate and investing so much in it.  From what I’ve been told there was more than one GOP State Senator that viewed it as a “screw you Paterson” vote.

  15. After this vote, it’s clear that we need a big enough majority in 2011 to push through a Democratic gerrymander.  

  16. NM-2 is the most clear battleground district where we should expect to lose, but where we do have the incumbent.

    Purple district, leaning toward pink, this is where the 2010 elections come down to.  Idaho is more of a sideshow, and Shea-Porter is a bit of an anomaly because she doesn’t like money (though it is the second best choice).

  17. Remember, if taking a stand on gay rights could even remotely threaten a Democrat’s political well-being, the rule is to toss the gays overboard and come up with a crappy excuse.  That’s rule #1 when it comes to dealing with the gay community as a Democratic politician.  Rule #2 is to come back asking for money the next cycle and pretend nothing ever happened.

  18. As I’ve written before, it seems pretty unfair to characterize the relationship as an ‘affair’ when Sen. Baucus was legally separated at the time.

    This episode is fairly unsavory, but so far doesn’t seem to be in the same league as the Ensign scandal.

  19. And Heinrich’s been very good about keeping in touch with the district. I’m not at all worried about him winning re-election, especially considering that the Republican’s haven’t been able to get anyone strong to run against him.

    I’m a lot more interested in NM-02, I want to know if the CW is right about Pearce being such a wonderful candidate, I have my doubts about it, especially considering his disastrous Senate run.

  20. She was the daughter of KS Governor and 1936 presidential candidate Alf Landon.

    Alf Landon was never a Senator, though, so “a woman was not elected to the U.S. Senate, without having been the wife or daughter of a previous Senator, until 1980” is a bit inaccurate.

    That said, I’d say with Kassebaum, “in her own right” is fairly accurate.  

  21. But you are correct that she was neither the daughter nor the wife of a senator (she did marry Howard Baker in the 90s, but that was after she was elected). Margaret Chase Smith was also neither the daughter nor the wife of a senator, but she was elected to the House of Representatives after her husband died. Paula Hawkins was elected without any familial political connections whatsoever.

  22. Granted, Marshall hasn’t been treated all that great by national Dems (did we ever figure out why they’re just not that into her, btw?) but that’s pretty harsh.

    Also, her political advisors are idiots. You never attack a no-name candidate when you’re the front-runner. That’s politics 101. If Cunningham was making inroads and looked like a credible threat, then bring out the big guns. But seriously, you’ve been elected four times statewide and you’re afraid of a one-term state senator? Maybe there is a reason why the national Dems weren’t big on Marshall…..

  23. Addabbo will have the cojones to ask for the Stonewall Democrats/Empire State Pride Agenda endorsements next cycle.

  24. that after the major players passed and Marshall declared the Democrats wanted Cunningham in particular because he had the potential to be like the politics version of Tom Brady.  A really late round pick who turned into a star.  And if he doesn’t, well he was just a late round pick.  Expect this primary to be close, Marshall has the name recognition, but I think Cunningham will have a far superior ground game come primary time.    

  25. Yeah, it’s really stupid to go after Cal Cunningham at this point. I don’t know that much about Elaine Marshall, but I think if next year is going to be an election where outsiders are rewarded and the establishment looked down upon, Cunningham provides a perfect contrast to a career politician like Richard Burr. He’s young, charismatic, a war veteran and a fantastic stump speaker. Fair or not, it provides a contrast to Marshall’s public persona.

    From what I hear, Marshall has never been a great fundraiser. She managed to come in third behind Erskine Bowles and Dan Blue in the 2002 Dem primary for the seat Jesse Helms was vacating. I really think it’s a combination of her lackluster fundraising and that 2002 campaign implosion that hurts her standing with the national party. She’s also not a very charismatic public speaker, although Kay Hagan isn’t either and look where she ended up.

  26. We’re effed.  It’ll be a 70-seat loss, minimum.  I’ll count out the 69 seats in front of her if I have to, but suffice it to say, losing somebody who’s normally safer than a penguin on a glacier would seem to suggest that Armaggedon is at hand for the Democratic party

  27. I think if Herseth-Sandlin loses then we’ll be looking at a total meltdown of the party. She’s perfect for her state and has easily won re-election. She’s scandal free, popular, and works hard for her state.

    I didn’t see it on the site, but does PPP give a reason why they chose who they chose? Wonder if it’s just random or what?

  28. Herseth-Sandlin has a strong challenger.  I can see Dems losing a net 20 to 30 seats with SD-AL being one of them.  Her landslides in 2006 and 2008 obscures the fact that SD is still a very republican state.  Against a very good challenger in a neutral to republican year she probably won’t ever win by big margins.

  29. SD-AL: In addition to looking at Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin's standing this would also give us a chance to look at races for Governor and Senate next year that there's been little if any public polling about.


    I, for one, voted for SD, not because I think it’s likely that Herseth-Sandlin is in any actual danger, but just because I’m curious as to whether her numbers are any lower than usual.

    Second choice would have been ID-1, by the way.  

  30. I assume PPP is including them just to see how bad we may do  in 2010.  If numbers for Heinrich are shaky, that’ll be an election night where I got drunk to make the pain go away instead of celebrating.

    I like Herseth-Sandlin a lot, too.  She is obviously too conservative for my liking but us gays love our women in politics.  She’ll obviously be a Senator when she runs for Johnson open seat, whenever that will be.

  31. Doubt they have any real suspicion they are in serious danger.  Those seats are listed by most political analysts as at least marginally competitive which is my guess why they were picked.

  32. It never works like that. Where the 70th person on the list means the other 69 ahead of it all lose. I suspect there will be shockers while some of those seemingly most vulnerable survive. You can see that clearly from the last two cycles. I had Tom Perriello at 58 in 2008 and Ethan Berkowitz at 6. And in 2006 I had Lois Murphy at 10 and CSP at 64.

  33. Was MAYBE the 70th most vulnerable Dem seat in 2008 – a cycle we lost what, 5 seats in?  Not a single analyst I’m aware of had that one any worse than Solid D.

  34. That would have been #1 for me.

    Kilroy’s on the top of my endangered incumbents list.  She barely squeaked by on Obama’s killer coattails in ’08, even after being on the campaign stump since 2005. With a credible candidate like Stivers in the mix again in 2010, I fear she’s a sitting duck given the likely voter turnout model in a swing district like hers.

  35. if there is a third party teabagger candidate, I think Kilroy will win, and probably easily.  

    I could see independent teabagger candidates getting 5-15% of the vote across the board, giving Democrats several seats that they would not ordinarily hold.  We owe Doug Hoffman a huge thank you.

  36. She’s up to $216k as of Q3 with 178k CoH. Not bad, but 125k was from Q2–and Bobby Bright’s gonna have big bucks–he had 500k CoH banked as of Q3.

    Check out her website, The website itself is fine, considering how awful some Republican sites are–I’d rate it serviceable to moderately good…except, her splash pic is kinda…odd. Witness:

    It’s like, there’s Martha Roby, looking vaguely Latina-Cherokee(?), who appears to be kind of annoyed that this black woman is talking to her (I’d bet she was going for “listening hard”). But what really makes it nuts are the two old white people. Oh, precious old white Alabama voters. Look at you. That old lady is stoned out of her gourd on legal, government-administered pharmaceuticals.  The old man looks effing pissed off at something, most likely the black lady’s talking.

    Sorry, I know it’s a bit OT, but it seriously weirded me out and I’m wondering if it’s just me…

  37. it looks like the black woman is the one running for office — one of those generic “talking to the people” type shots.

  38. I want to see how proclaimed GOP “wunderkind” Gardner is doing.  If it’s poorly, then the CO Dems can again breathe easier.

  39. and crushing a weaker candidate.

    So the conclusion she would be losing only follows if she is opposed by a strong candidate, and if she is opposed by a teabagger she would likely be well ahead.

  40.      My dictionary defines adultery as “sexual intercourse between a married person and a person not his (her) spouse”.

        I’m amazed at the idea I’ve seen expressed here and elsewhere that it’s not an “affair” if the married person is separated from his spouse, whether as a result of a “legal separation” (I doubt that was the case for Baucus) or simply a separation in the sense that he or his wife had found separate living quarters. You’re either married or you’re single. If Max Baucus thinks that marriage is something that can be immediately terminated by the decision of either party, I would like to hear him say so before he runs for reelection in 2014.

  41. I don’t care about an affair even if the person is married.  Something like 60% of marriages end up with one of both partners cheating on the other anyway.  If Baucus is held acocuntable we could have a witchhunt and go after another 200 of no members of Congress.  This whole discussion is sillly to be honest.

  42. The attitude you express fails to acknowledge that there is inherently gradation in these sorts of actions. If, based on all the facts we know thus far about the relationship between Sen. Baucus and Ms. Hanes, you truly believe his behavior to be morally on par with the likes of Ensign, Edwards, Mahoney, Fossella, etc., then your perspective seems to me to be way too absolutist. His pursuit of the relationship very well may have been born of piss poor judgment, but apparently it cannot be characterized by the same level of calculated deception – to staffers, family members, and constituents alike – that has turned so many other recent political sex scandals into career-enders for the parties involved.

  43. The generic “Tea Party” actually beats the GOP, effectively splitting the republican vote in two.

    Suppose the Tea Party organized itself as a political party. When thinking about the next election for Congress, would you vote for the Republican candidate from your district, the Democratic candidate from your district or the Tea Party candidate from your district?



    Tea Party




    Not sure



  44. Their candidates are only at 39 percent tops against Rex? That’s great news in such a Republican state. After a nasty GOP primary I really like Rex’s chances.  

  45. mark my words, Sarah Palin will be on the 2012 ballot for President, either as the Repub or as an independent.

  46.      You seriously think that the only people who think it’s not appropriate for a married senator to be schtupping a woman he’s nominated for a high position are Bible Thumpers?

        I’ve been an atheist for 42 years, and a divorce lawyer for 32. I’m a bachelor, which I’ve heard defined as “a man who never made the same mistake once.” And I’m not too proud to use any stick that comes to hand to beat a mangy dog like Max Baucus.

  47. Oddly, I’ve never heard anything about him having aspirations for the governor’s mansion. Given his name and statewide position, it would seem like a natural move after Bobby Jindal is termed out in 2015. Though maybe the name isn’t such an asset as Mary’s never been an electoral powerhouse (sometimes I wonder if she might be the three term US senator who has won their elections by the smallest margin).

  48. I’m an Atheist too, and I think you’re being way over the top. Morally speaking, this doesn’t reflect well on Sen. Baucus at all, but it only reflects poorly on his Senatorial performance because of lack of disclosure.

  49. It’s human nature to cheat.  It appears his girlfriend was qualified for that job so I have no problem with it.  I only care if it’s a potential violation of the law or someone who is a hypocrite such as the case with Spitzer, Vitter, etc.

  50. He led the ticket in 2007, winning 57% of the vote, but he was the only Democrat that didn’t have a serious challenger (the Republicans had a country musician and a State Rep). He probably realizes that winning statewide in Louisiana is just going to get harder, so he wants to get out while the getting’s good.

  51. He had ruled out a run for governor.

    His Congressional district (Tom Price) and state senate district (David Shafer) are controlled by Republicans.  Would he run against them?  Ditto for runs against Isakson or Casey Cagle for Lt. Governor.

    There is already at least one top tier Republican candidate for Attorney General, Agricultural Commissioner, Labor Commissioner, Insurance Commissioner, and Secretary of State.

    He doesn’t live in the PSC district up this year.

  52. There’s a great post at Peach Pundit about the Democrats uniting with Republicans who are angry over the behind the scenes mess about the Speaker’s position.

    However, I don’t see it happening.

    Right now State Rep. Larry O’Neal, considered one of the tax experts in the state legislature is mentioned as a possible candidate for Speaker. He’s also Perdue’s personal lawyer.

  53. Even more surprising is the fact that she survived in 2002 considering she was basically a liberal her first term in the Senate.  She only moved towards the center after quite a few years in the Senate.  

  54. He was supposedly on the top pick for Executive Director of the World Congress Center.

    He removed his name from consideration to run for Speaker, but since he’s backtracked from that idea, maybe he’ll take the ED position.

    Politically there’s nothing else for him to run for.

  55. I don’t know where we’re going to find the more than a dozen Republicans needed.  Do you remember how many votes Ralston got when he tried for the Speakership before?  I really don’t see us working with Barry Loudermilk (Whom I refer to as “Sour Cream”) or Larry O’Neal.  

    And any moderates (or comparative moderates) we pick off are going to be our most promising targets (e.g. Jill Chambers, Rich Golick, Austin Scott), so it’s self-defeating.  Still, it’s fun to think about.

  56. From the Orlando Sentinel’s obituary of Hawkins:

    She was the first woman senator elected from the South and the first woman from any state elected to a full Senate term who was not the wife or daughter of a politician. Nebraska businesswoman Hazel Abel, who also had no political family ties, was elected from that state in 1954 to serve the final two months in the term of a senator who had died in office.

    So she’s not even the first elected female without a family political connection, just the first to be elected to a full term in the Senate.

    So Martha Coakley is doing what Hazel Abel did decades ago.  And wanna get your mind blown?  Abel replaced a woman, Eva Bowring, who was appointed by the Governor to fill the Senate seat until the special election after the death of Senator Dwight Griswold.  And it looks like Bowring didn’t come from a political family either; she was the one that was active in Republican politics in Nebraska when she was appointed.

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