SSP Daily Digest: 1/5

CT-Sen: Looks like the question marks that were raised a few weeks ago about all of the Linda McMahon campaign’s hundreds of thousands of dollars in undisclosed in-kinds have trickled up to the FEC. They’re now requiring her to disclose the recipients of more than $567K worth of mysterious payments (for services including consulting and legal fees) made over the brief course of her campaign.

FL-Sen: After a lot of speculation yesterday that he was fighting for his political life, today Jim Greer announced that he’s out as Florida’s state GOP chair. Greer said it was his decision (in order to “reunite” the party — although he launched a whole salvo of parting shots at the party’s right wing on the way out the door) and that Charlie Crist didn’t push him out. Still, it’s pretty clear that this is a big victory for the Rubio camp and assorted right-wing allies, for whom Greer, a moderate and key Crist ally, was one of the biggest scalps they’d hoped to claim. Greer is being replaced by state Sen. John Thrasher, a Jeb Bush ally who, while not an explicit Rubio endorser, recently attended a Rubio fundraiser.

Anybody remember that there’s still a Democratic primary going on in this race too? It’s a sleepy affair, and may be getting sleepier, based on the sputtering coming out of the camp of former Miami mayor Maurice Ferre. Campaign manager Todd Wilder has departed, although he cites family health concerns.

SC-Sen: Lindsey Graham just keeps racking up the censure resolutions from county-level GOP organizations for being insufficiently crazy. He got dinged by the Lexington County GOP (one of the state’s largest counties, in Columbia’s suburbs), largely over his immigration and TARP positions.

UT-Sen: Rounding out the trifecta of GOP Senatorial cat fud, the insufficiently crazy Bob Bennett pulled in his highest-profile primary challenger since AG Mark Shurtleff departed the race. As expected, attorney Mike Lee officially got into the race today, and will be running to Bennett’s right. Lee is the former counsel to ex-Gov. Jon Huntsman, and is the scion of a locally prominent family (his father is former U.S. Solicitor General and BYU president Rex Lee).

WA-Sen: Add one more name to the list of never-before-elected retired jocks with a political itch to scratch. Former Washington Redskins end Clint Didier says that he’ll run against Patty Murray. Didier does at least have experience speaking at the local tea party rally in his native Tri-Cities (in eastern Washington), though. With her gigantic fundraising advantage, expect the five-foot-tall Murray to clothesline Didier.

MI-Gov: With the governor’s race suddenly scrambled, Domino’s Pizza CEO Dave Brandon — an oft-rumored candidate for both Governor and Senate — said that he isn’t running for anything any time soon. He just committed to a five-year stint as the Univ. of Michigan’s athletic director.

NY-Gov: It sounds like David Paterson will get a primary challenge even if Andrew Cuomo doesn’t step up: Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy is now publicly floating the idea of a challenge, and setting up an exploratory committee. The law-and-order, anti-immigrant Levy would be running to the right of Paterson (and probably to Cuomo’s right too, if he stuck around in a three-way scrum). Paterson still seems to be planning to stick around, and he’s getting some more verbal backing from Charlie Rangel, who’s saying that Cuomo “wouldn’t dare” run against Paterson, re-invoking the specter of Cuomo’s racially-fraught 2002 primary against Carl McCall. Meanwhile, the NYT explores the train wreck that is the campaign of GOP candidate Rick Lazio, finding him getting a lukewarm reception even from GOP audiences.

TX-Gov: Kay Bailey Hutchison seems to be pinning her dwindling hopes in the fast-approaching GOP gubernatorial primary on a big ad blitz. She’s splurging for an ad buy during the college football championship game (which should have a big audience with the Longhorns in the game — for whom she was a cheerleader decades ago).

AL-05, AL-Gov: In the wake of his botched public I-might-switch-races-no-I-won’t play, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ron Sparks has parted way with campaign manager Justin Saia. Not exactly the sign of a well-oiled machine, there. Meanwhile, turncoat Rep. Parker Griffith, still smarting from the resignations of almost his entire stafff, played the “excessive partisanship” card while ostensibly wishing them well yesterday.

FL-08: Second-term state rep. Kurt Kelly made his campaign official, running against Rep. Alan Grayson in the 8th. That should come as no surprise given his previous announcements, but it’s interesting to note that now he comes at it with the endorsement of a number of the other state Reps. that the NRCC had been working on to get into the race, who seemed a little higher up their wish list: Stephen Precourt and Eric Eisnaugle. Also noteworthy: businessman Bruce O’Donoghue, who’d been sounding like the NRCC’s pick after they couldn’t find anyone else, still sounds like he hasn’t fully committed to the race; maybe he’s having cold feet with Kelly in.

FL-10: I don’t think this is worth much weight, but the St. Petersburg Times found it newsworthy enough to mention, suggesting that there may be some conventional wisdom developing here. A local poli sci professor is convinced that long-time GOP Rep. Bill Young will announce his retirement in the next few weeks.

FL-19: This seemed to elude almost everyone yesterday, but Rep. Robert Wexler’s resignation was official over this weekend; he heads to the helm of a Middle East peace-oriented non-profit. His resignation leaves Nancy Pelosi short one “yes” vote for the upcoming post-conference HCR vote, meaning one less seat in the lifeboat for whatever vulnerable Dem wants to take a pass.

HI-01: Also on the resignation front, Rep. Neil Abercrombie (who’s leaving to focus on his gubernatorial run) has set an official last day in office: Feb. 28. As for a replacement, it sounds like new interim state election officer Scott Nago is looking at a special election date in May, probably an all-mail vote set for May 1. Nago said he was confident he’d find the money to hold the election (which had earlier been in doubt), although it might mean appealing asking the U.S. Election Assistance Commission for federal dollars. (I guess this means Kevin Cronin’s time in charge of Hawaii elections is over. He’ll still Keep On Loving You, though.)

IA-03: One less retirement for the DCCC to worry about: aging Rep. Leonard Boswell confirmed that he’s sticking around and running for re-election.

IL-10: I didn’t think that anyone other than me was making any sport out of GOP House candidate Bob Dold’s name similarities to a certain presidential candidate, and I can’t imagine anyone was actually confused. But Bob Dold actually came out with a jingle, complete with video, reminding voters that Bob Dold is different from Bob Dole.

MN-06: Here’s a big boost for state Sen. Tarryl Clark, who’s been viewed as a strong contender against crazy Rep. Michele Bachmann but didn’t put up impressive numbers in a recent PPP poll of the 6th. She got the endorsement of EMILY’s List, giving her access to their nationwide pool of donors.

NY-01: This is the first I’d heard of a contested GOP primary in the 1st (where the victor will take on potentially vulnerable Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop), but it suggests that the deep-pocketed Randy Altschuler is going to have to watch over his back for another well-funded rival. George Demos, a former SEC attorney who made his mark on the Bernie Madoff case, reports that he’s raised more than $300K since launching his campaign in October, from more than 400 donors.

PA-17: After downplaying earlier reports of his interest, now it’s sounding like Republican state Sen. David Argall is going to go up against Democratic Rep. Tim Holden after all. Reportedly, he’ll be announcing his campaign next Monday. Argall (newly promoted to the Senate in a special election, after many years in the state House) gets a freebie as his seat isn’t up until 2012; he’s from Holden’s home turf of Schuylkill County in coal country, which may help limit Holden’s usually wide margins in that part of the district.

SC-01: As things sort themselves out following the retirement announcement of endangered Republican Rep. Henry Brown, 2008 Democratic candidate Linda Ketner is sounding a little more interested than she did before his retirement. She’d previously been unenthusiastic about another race (she’d relied a lot on self-financing in her previous close race, but her finances had taken a hit in the intervening year), but now she tells the Atlantic she’ll “take the time to consider it.” Also, frequent Mark Sanford critic state Sen. Larry Grooms is one other name to add to the speculation pile on the Republican side.

TX-18: A Democratic primary is the only way we’re ever going to see any turnover in the heavily Democratic, mostly African-American and Hispanic 18th — and we’ve actually got one on tap this year. Houston city councilor Jarvis Johnson sneaked under the finish line for Texas filings; he’ll take on long-time Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (who got into office herself with a successful 1994 primary challenge to Rep. Craig Washington).

WA-03: State House minority leader Richard DeBolt had been on lots of watch lists as a possible GOP candidate in the open seat race in the 3rd, but today he declined to run. (He’s a rather nasty piece of work who, while having better name rec than the GOPers in the race so far, probably wouldn’t play too well outside his own dark-red slice of this swing district.) Here’s one other interesting detail: rather than endorse fellow state Rep. Jamie Herrera (whose lack of experience has left many people uneasy), he threw his endorsement behind David Castillo, a former low-level Bush administration official who’d been running long before Brian Baird’s retirement announcement.

WV-01: I’d assumed that when state Sen. Clark Barnes got into the race for the GOP to go against entrenched Democratic Rep. Alan Mollohan, the NRCC would be happy (although there’s little overlap between his turf and the 1st). But they kept looking, and now they’re loudly touting their newest recruit, businessman and former state Del. David McKinley. He can partly self-finance, which is probably what’s most attractive about him to them.

Texas: As mentioned above, Texas had its filing deadline pass. All House members are running for re-election. In one small indication of a change in prevailing political winds, the Republicans managed to fill all the state’s House races, while Dems left 7 openings (Louie Gohmert, Ted Poe, Kevin Brady, Mac Thornberry, John Carter, and unhappily, Kenny Marchant, in a rapidly bluening suburban Dallas district, and John Culberson, who faced a strong challenge in 2008). One other filing worth note: Dems fielded a strong last-minute Land Commissioner candidate, in the form of former state Sen. Hector Uribe (not only is it good to round out a competitive slate, but the Land Commissioner is one of the members of the Legislative Redistricting Board, which will be a big issue in coming years).

NY-St. Ass.: The blowback from the GOP civil war in NY-23 just keeps flying. A key Dede Scozzafava ally in the state Assembly, Janet Duprey, is facing a challenge from the right in this year’s GOP primary. She’s being challenged by Plattsburgh town party chair Dave Kimmel, who was a Doug Hoffman backer. Like Hoffman, if Kimmel doesn’t get the GOP nod, he’ll continue on with just the Conservative party line.

DGA/RGA: The DGA and RGA both reported huge year-end cash hauls, as the moneyed interests are well-aware that the gubernatorial races (with redistricting fast approaching) is where the real drama will be this year. The DGA reports $23.1 million raised over 2009 and currently is sitting on $17.5 million. The RGA did even better, reporting $30 million raised in 2008, with $25 million still on hand.  

32 thoughts on “SSP Daily Digest: 1/5”

  1. If Cuomo won’t do it, I think I’d rather have Paterson than Levy. Anti-immigrant and law-and-order won’t exactly help in NYC and with New York’s heavily minority demographics, he’d be exactly the sort of Democrat we don’t need in New York.

    But really, Paterson is a paper tiger. Even after his recent loss, Suozzi could take him. Byron Brown would skip the racial tension issue. Hell, even Tasini would have a decent chance of beating Paterson, although what the party hierarchy would say about his candidacy doesn’t bear thinking about.

  2. Carole Keeton etc. apparently decided not to take the plunge — Dems have no candidate for Comptroller.

  3. I think Pomeroy is gonna stay where he is.

    What does the bench look like in ND?

    Wow–this is a shocker.

  4. is not good if Pomeroy doesn’t run. Also because North Dakota is one of only a few states that has been relatively untouched by the recession due to their booming fossil fuels industries, Hoeven has remained very popular.

  5. Wow, this is an example of when a Dem “legacy” senator as I’m going to call it retires from a deep-red state, and there’s no bench to pick up the mantle.

    I wish we were in better stead here, but it looks like at best–if Hoeven does not run–this is going to be a tough HOLD.

  6. That’d be nice, but do you really think Cuomo would stand for it? He’d like to be governor after all. Would he be willing to wait in line behind another Democrat?

  7. His numbers are just too strong, even if he does run as badly as he did in 2002. But if he waits then a) he’ll forever be regarded as a choker, and that’ll harm his future prospects and b) we could do with somebody else, as Paterson singlehandedly makes NY competitive.

  8. Cuomo’s central problem is the longer he allows Paterson to churn out pricy TV ad buys and improve his favorables, the more contentious and competitive the primary will be. And yes, I suspect Paterson will compete in a primary race even if he is down substantially.

    I can’t think of anyone besides Cuomo who could take down Paterson in a primary (assuming Paterson’s favorables don’t drop again). This Suffolk County dude is about as threatening as the other Suffolk County dude who mulled over a run against Gillibrand. I suppose Tom DiNapoli could run if he suspects Paterson would be an easier challenge than Bill Thompson. I’d say perhaps fmr. Attorney General Robert Abrams, but if I’m not mistaken, he’s relatively close to Paterson.

  9. This is fine as long as she stays out of the governor’s race. The best chance we have at taking the governor’s mansion in Texas is to have as few third party candidates as possible.

  10. I expect Weiner to run, and probably several other people (the new City Comptroller, John Liu, for example, seems ambitious).

  11. Hopefully Hickenlooper gets in. If not Sec. Salazar might be interested. I recall from 2004 his ambition was always to be governor but he got talked into running for senate instead.

  12. “Several executives interested in a Ford candidacy said that Ms. Gillibrand’s positions echoed Mr. Schumer’s and that the state needed a second independent voice in the Senate.”

  13. That is the most sickening possibility EVER.

    First, I’m biased because Gillibrand is a Dartmouth ’88, and I’m a Dartmouth alum, too! Secondly, Gillibrand is the perfect complement to Schumer because she represents upstate values in a way no NY Senator has in a generation.

    I honestly expected Ford to run for TN Gov this year or to wait till ’12 to take on Corker again.

    Is he that ambitious that he has to move to NY and shove a competent female senator out of the picture to satisfy his political cravings?

    I’d rather see him run for NY Governor–but Albany is too far out of the spotlight for him…

  14. If Bill Thompson, a man who’s held elected office in New York State, doesn’t see a crystal-clear opening to take this nomination away from her, I can’t see how a fmr. Tennessee Congressman who lost when he ran for US Senate will see any better a scenario. I imagine he’d run to the right of her, but I don’t see any significant base he could play to.

  15.       I mean Harold Ford please. I have written here before that I don’t think it would be the worst thing in the world if Gillibrand got a primary, in fact I actually think it could help her. However what I meant by that was someone who actually has a history of being a progressive and who has not managed the god dam DLC. Oh, and someone who actually has lived in the state for more then five minutes.  

  16.        I Don’t really like Gillibrand and I don’t think she’s the great political talent people crack her up to be. But I don’t see how Ford is going to win. Given a choice between the two, I’ll vote for Gillibrand.

  17. But I’m hoping this motivates Fmr. Rep. Romanoff to switch from his primary challenge to Bennet for CO-Sen.  As unexciting and finger-to-the-wind as Bennet has been, he’s come around as a reliable vote more often than people realize.

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