SSP Daily Digest: 11/15

AK-Sen: As it gets more and more apparent that victory isn’t going to come on the write-in-challenges front, the Joe Miller camp seems to be admitting as much. However, they aren’t preparing to concede, as they see one last ace in the hole: absentee ballots, which are still trickling in. The last to arrive (ahead of Wednesday’s deadline) will be the military overseas ballots, which Miller expects will break heavily in his favor (seeing as how many military members nearing the end of their commitment are probably looking forward to a profitable career on Miller’s paramilitary goon squad). With Lisa Murkowski’s lead holding at 40-35, though, it’s unclear whether military ballots would show up in sufficient numbers to turn the tide even if they broke widely for Miller.

DE-Sen, WV-Sen: Congratulations today to Chris Coons and Joe Manchin, both of whom are being sworn into the Senate this afternoon for the lame-duck session. It’s also the first day on the job for Earl Ray Tomblin, who becomes the new West Virginia Governor in Manchin’s absence. If you’re wondering about Mark Kirk, he’ll be sworn in next week thanks to vagaries of Illinois law. (If I may be allowed a brief moment of alma mater pride, Coons appears to be the first Amherst alum elected to the Senate since the ill-fated Thomas Eagleton.)

MA-Sen: You may remember a boomlet that peaked last week for Senate speculation concerning Setti Warren, the “rock star” mayor of Newton. Well, that’s over, as he’s now saying his “intent” is to finish his term, which runs through 2013. However, a different young up-and-coming mayor of one of the Bay State’s larger cities is now poking the Senate race with a stick: Will Flanagan, the 30-year-old mayor of the much more blue-collar Fall River, is gauging the race.

TX-Sen: The Fix has a look at possible primary challengers to Kay Bailey Hutchison, who, with her bungled gubernatorial run and her TARP vote, seems to have painted a big target on her back aimed at Texas tea partiers looking for a promotion. Former SoS Roger Williams and former Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones are already in the race (dating back to when it was expected that KBH would be on her way to the Governor’s Mansion at this point), but the bigger names to watch are Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams. Dewhurst is establishment but has the personal wealth to get a foothold here, while Williams has no money but is the favorite of the tea party set. Dallas mayor Tom Leppert is also mentioned as a wild-card. One Dem who won’t be making the race is former Houston mayor Bill White, who in wake of his gubernatorial loss says he won’t pivot to a Senate race. That probably frees up the Dem Senate slot for former comptroller John Sharp, who was going to run in the hypothetical special election that never happened and already has a big stack of cash saved up for the race.

CT-Gov: If you’re hearing zombie lies from Republican friends about the Connecticut gubernatorial race being stolen by the urban machines, here’s a handy debunking point: exit polls show that the huge falloff in votes in Bridgeport neatly tracks the statewide falloff in Dem crossover votes for the Republican candidate in general from 2006 (when the broadly-popular Jodi Rell ran) to 2010.

KY-Gov: One more Republican to keep in mind as a potential challenger in next year’s off-year gubernatorial election: Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw. That’s kind of a big step up to Governor, so it seems like she might be starting with a high negotiating position with the party to try to worm her way into the SoS slot instead (assuming Trey Grayson follows through on plans to run for AG instead).

NC-02, TX-27: Here are updates on two of our outstanding races: recounts have been officially approved in both of ’em. Six counties in the 27th will be recounted, per Solomon Ortiz’s request, as he trails by about 800. In the 2nd, the canvass was officially certified with Bobby Etheridge trailing by 1,489, but he’ll be pursuing a recount as allowed under state law. While neither of these prospects looks that hopeful, we can take some solace in that the likely victors, Blake Farenthold and Renee Elmers, are some of the most amateur-hour entrants into the new House and hopefully likely to help define the new face of the Republican Party.

NY-29: Best wishes for a quick recovery to soon-to-be-sworn-in Tom Reed, who literally just arrived in Washington and was immediately sickened by it. He was diagnosed with a blood clot in his lungs and says he’ll be released in one or two days, ready to get to work.

WA-01, WA-03: I’d hoped that Brian Baird was going to take his unique variety of douchiness to the private sector for good, but it looks like his strange retirement decision may have been an inspired case of district-shopping instead. He’s moving to Edmonds in Seattle’s northern suburbs, which just happens to be in the 1st District. Assuming that Jay Inslee follows through on his widely-known plans to run for Governor, lo and behold, the 1st will be an open seat in 2012. The 1st (which is a pretty safe district in its current configuration, and will probably keep similar lines in redistricting) has to be more appealing than the 3rd, which redistricting will probably move from a true swing district to a light-red one, as liberal Olympia will probably have to be exchanged for a Columbia Gorge-centered district that’s based in Vancouver but that runs east into conservative Yakima County. (Which, unfortunately, would be tailor-made for Jaime Herrera, who’s Latina but living in the Vancouver burbs, and will make her much harder to dislodge.) For more detail on Washington’s likely 10-district map, see here.

NY-St. Sen.: Here’s an update on the three races that are holding New York State Senate control in the balance. Dem incumbent Craig Johnson trails by only 427, and seems to be gaining at a rapid clip as absentee votes get counted, so the trajectory indicates he might pull ahead by the end. Things seem more locked in with two more Dem incumbents, though: Suzi Oppenheimer leads by 504, while Antoine Thompson trails by 597. Wins by Johnson and Oppenheimer would set up a 31-31 tie.

Chicago mayor: The election’s been over for two weeks, and it’s already time for the first new edition of SSP TV: Rahm Emanuel kicked off his mayoral bid with his first TV spot already. Rep. Danny Davis also made it official this weekend, launching his bid and dubbing himself the “grassroots” candidate. (He looks like he’ll be giving up his House seat only in the event that he wins the mayoral race.)

DSCC: After some hopeful signs that Michael Bennet might be willing to take on the role of DSCC head, he said “no thanks” late Friday. At this point, Beltway pundits seem to think that the shortest straw has Patty Murray’s name on it.

RGA: Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed on for another cycle at the helm of the Republican Governor’s Association. I’ve seen speculation that he’s doing it mostly to shut down rumors that he’s really running for President, although it should be a pretty sleepy gubernatorial cycle and he might be able to juggle both tasks (since most big states elect governors during the midterms, and only a few open seats loom… Indiana, North Carolina, and Washington may be the highest-profile races).

Redistricting: The Wall Street Journal has a good overview of what to expect with redistricting, and they seem to come to the same conclusion that I have: that the downside for the GOP of their strong performance in Dem-held red districts is that it means there are a lot fewer opportunities to turf anyone out through aggressive gerrymandering, and instead their efforts are going to have to more defensive, oriented toward shoring up the deadwood that washed ashore. Meaning, of course, that predictions of another large redistricting-driven gain in the House for the GOP aren’t likely to come to pass, although it will still make it harder for the Dems to regain significant ground.

A couple articles are also out today dealing with the biggest redistricting prize of all, California, although whether it’s a prize or not has much to do with what happens with the newly-created (by Prop 20) congressional redistricting commission; this week, out of the pool of 36,000 applicants, 36 finalists for the commission’s citizen slots will be picked. Of particular interest is what exactly happens with the seats in northern Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley, where there’s a push underway to get a Hispanic district. (Worth noting: CA-28 already has a Hispanic majority, although Howard Berman seems pretty primary-proof there, and there don’t seem to be enough parts and pieces elsewhere in the Valley to create another neatly-shaped one.)

Demographics: Here’s a big surprise, on the demographic front: there are reports that there are 100,000 fewer Hispanics in Arizona than there were when SB 1070 passed. That may not have a big impact on voting behavior (since those emigrants are probably unlikely voters), but a big impact on redistricting, where the possibility of a third VRA district in Arizona looms. Or maybe not… since the census only cares where you were on April 1, much of that fleeing may not have happened yet at that point.

Dave’s App: Exciting news from over in the diaries: version 2.0 of Dave’s Redistricting App is available. You can check out all the details at the link, but two major improvements including use of street maps (making urban work much easier) and ability to save JPGs. Redistricting is going to be one of Swing State Project’s main preoccupations over the next year, and Dave’s App is one of the best tools we have in our arsenal.

287 thoughts on “SSP Daily Digest: 11/15”

  1. He’s beloved by the Tea Party crowd, had the support of DeMint and Gingrich when he was earlier exploring a run for this seat (when Hutchison was in the gubernatorial race), and the fact that David Dewhurst may run will only further splinter Hutchison’s establishment base. I don’t think Roger Williams or Elizabeth Jones have any real shot. It’s MW’s to lose, unless Hutchison can draw more Tea Party challengers.

  2. Don’t knock Eagleton.  Most people don’t realize he was twice reelected to the Senate after his Vice Presidential nomination.

    Our highest ranking current alum remains His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco, Class of 1981.

  3. It’s interesting, as a Philadelphian and former Chicagoan, to hear Rahm speak of Chicago as “a great city”.  Because it aspires to be, and is, a world-class city.  Makes me sad about Philadelphia, because we don’t have that kind of aspiration or self-esteem anymore, and am not sure when we ever did.

  4. According to WaPo, Rep. Dean Heller (R-Reno) has quite a bit of juice with House Speaker-in-waiting John Boehner. This can cut both ways policy wise, as either it means Heller is in a position to stop Boehner from following through on slashing Nevada earmarks and reviving Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste dump, or it just means Boehner is co-opting Heller and shutting him up on those matters by keeping him so close.

    But either way, I have a feeling this is VERY GOOD politically for Shelley Berkley. If Boehner keeps Heller in The House, this makes Shelley’s path to The Senate that much easier. Who knew Boehner could end up doing Nevada Democrats a favor? 😉

  5. Also, they preview Montana & Virginia and say Huckabee and Romney are running well ahead of Gingrich and Palin in both states. Should get Tester numbers tomorrow, Webb numbers Wednesday.

  6. Please consider cross-posting your four-district Iowa maps to Bleeding Heartland. I will promote all good redistricting diaries to the front page. Bleeding Heartland runs on the same software as Swing State Project.

    Key points from Iowa redistricting guidelines:

    Iowa’s Legislative Services Bureau (LSB) must produce three sets of redistricting plans. Each set contains three individual plans: one each for the state house, state senate, and congressional districts. In drawing these plans, the LSB is expressly barred from using partisan criteria (the addresses of incumbents, voters’ party affiliations, etc.). The LSB is instead limited to the use of four neutral criteria, in descending order of priority: population equality; contiguity; unity of counties and cities; and compactness.

    The criterion of population equality must be observed to conform with the judicial “one person, one vote” principle, which requires states to justify even slight variations of population between districts. The LSB determines the “ideal” population size for a district by dividing the total population by the number of districts. The LSB’s plans cannot have state senate or house districts which deviate by more than 1% from this ideal, and the disparity between the largest and smallest district can be no more than 5%. Like many midwestern states, Iowa has counties which are mostly four-sided and few large population centers. The LSB’s criteria seeks to limit the number of cases in which district lines do not conform with county lines. Crossing counties is occasionally permissible, on the condition that if a city is to be split by a district line, larger cities must be split before smaller ones.

    Contiguity and compactness are two criteria which address the shape of a district. Districts which are not contiguous or compact are those which are often called “bizarre” or described in the manner that one describes the shape of clouds in the sky. Contiguity requires that a district be all in one piece; in other words, a person should be able to travel through all parts of a district without needing to cross through another. (In Iowa, a district in which two of its parts meet only at the corners is not considered contiguous).

    Compactness is more difficult to measure. The Iowa LSB considers compactness to be the ratio of length to width as measured from the “centroid” of a district, which is determined by adjusting the geometric center for the distribution of population.

  7. Republicans elected their House and Senate leaders last week; Democrats did so yesterday and today.

    The new Iowa House will have a 60-40 GOP majority. Republicans elected the same leadership team they’ve had for the last couple of years–no challenges. Incoming speaker will be Kraig Paulsen (formerly minority leader), and the new majority leader will be Linda Upmeyer. Upmeyer will be the first woman Iowa House majority leader. Her late father served in the chamber for more than two decades, rising to the speaker’s chair.

    Outgoing House Speaker Pat Murphy didn’t seek the position of Democratic minority leader. Today Democrats elected Kevin McCarthy minority leader going forward. He was majority leader for the last four years under Speaker Murphy. It’s not clear whether anyone challenged McCarthy today. I would have preferred to see new blood in the House Democratic leadership.

    Two recounts are pending in the Iowa Senate, but the likely outcome is a 26-24 Democratic majority. Democrats are sticking with Mike Gronstal as majority leader. It doesn’t sound like he was challenged.

    Senate Republicans didn’t change their leadership either; Paul McKinley remains minority leader. One of his five assistant leaders is failed IA-03 candidate Brad Zaun, incidentally.

    Gronstal continues to insist that he will not allow any floor vote in the Senate on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. McKinley’s leadership team includes the two Iowa Senate Republicans who have been most involved in fighting marriage equality. David Johnson has circulated petitions demanding a floor vote on a marriage amendment. Merlin Bartz tried to get county recorders to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2009. More recently he has fought any attempt by state agencies to rewrite rules in a way that extends benefits to same-sex couples. For instance, Bartz took a brave stand against a DNR rule that would let gay couples pitch more than one tent at a campsite.

  8. Harris added 18764 ballots, Cooley just 5099. That’s a huge margin, better than the 66%-25% margin by which Harris was leading the county.

  9. “(seeing as how many military members nearing the end of their commitment are probably looking forward to a profitable career on Miller’s paramilitary goon squad)”

    I know this was just an attempt at humor but it seems kinda insulting to military personnel and I don’t like it

  10. Buried in this article about redistricting is this little tidbit:

    Brown runs for re-election in 2012. Most Republicans think his opponent will be either State Auditor and Lt. Gov.-elect Mary Taylor, or Rep. Jim Jordan of Urbana, just elected to a third term representing west central Ohio.

    But (Steve) LaTourette is also mulling a Senate bid

  11. Do you agree or disagree that these are likely targets for Democratic turnovers in 2012, depending on redistricting? Here’s the list of names:

    1. Blake Farenthold (Texas-27)

    2. Allen West (Florida-22)

    3. Robert Dold (Illinois-10)

    4. Renee Ellmers (North Carolina-02)

    5. Charlie Bass (New Hampshire-02)

    6. Tim Walberg (Michigan-07)

    I know there has been a lot of discussion here about Farenthold as an “accidental congressman” who’s very likely to be a one-termer, and also that Allen West is likely to do and say a bunch of extremist things that, along with a higher Democratic turnout in a presidential election year, will be likely to defeat him. Dold is a likely candidate for redistricting. But might Ellmers benefit from redistricting, in the hands of the Republican Legislature in North Carolina? And what of the former and once-again Congressman Charlie Bass, whose loss in the 2006 wave was a surprise to most people? As for Michigan, might the Republicans find a way to make his district safer?

    Any others in the top 10 of your likely 1-termer list?

  12. I agree the seat will probably be open as Inslee runs for Governor, but I have a hard time seeing Baird taking over.

    Inslee did relocate after his 1994 loss and ended up taking over WA-1, but he also had elevated his name reocgnition by running for Governor in 1996 (losing the primary to Gary Locke).  Baird really won’t have a chance to do that before the 2012 race…plus his somewhat erratic voting record while in the House probably won’t endear him to the Dem electorate. I’m sure there are lots of local politicians eyeing a potential open seat.

  13. After appointing a former moderate Republican Lt. Governor as a special advisor, and the current Democratic Speaker of the House the state treasurer, Governor-elect Rick Snyder has appointed Dennis Muchmore his chief of staff.  He was a lobbyist, but he’s also served as the director of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs for two years and came to Lansing in the 70’s to work for Democratic state senator John Bowman.  Most recently, he’s worked as a management consultant.  He’s considered a moderate.

    So far, this is really the best outcome for Dems given the conservative Republican wave in the state.  It seems that Snyder’s talk of leading with a moderate team aren’t all talk.  To have a conservation guy as CoS certainly won’t hurt when it comes to protecting the environment.  I’m proud that Michigan has continued to turn down neo-cons and christian conservatives for it’s governor’s office, even when presented with the choice.

  14. Getting rid of both of them.

    Hard to really do this without partisan data, and I only made an outline.

    I carve a 4th Dem district in the center of Columbus/Franklin County.

    Pink = Bob Latta

    Red = Kaptur

    Blue = Latuorette

    Dark Purple = Renacci. This is a full population district per the app.

    Green = Fudge. 49% black, I couldn’t really do much better.

    Yellow = Tim Ryan. Youngstown to Akron.

    Slate green = Pat Tiberi. Goes to the center of the map.

    Grey = Bob Gibbs. Take that in whatever direction you want to go.

    Light Purple = Bill Johnson. Take that down the coast.

  15. 1. I get that each state has certain areas that usually trend one way or another, but wouldn’t it take a truly ridiculous amount of gerrymandering to prevent Democrats from taking back these districts in the event that the national environment was good and good candidates ran competitive campaigns? I get that it’s hard to unseat an incumbent, even when there’s a wave election, but I sense an almost defeatist attitude setting in.

    2. I really, really want the Democrats in the Senate to get their shit together, find a head for the DSCC, and start thinking about candidates not just for Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine, but also for Texas, Tennessee, Indiana, Mississippi, and maybe even Wyoming and Utah. The Republicans look ready to shoot themselves in the face again, and nothing would please me more to be ready to take advantage of it. I don’t know how likely it is that the Democrats can win a seat in Texas or in Tennessee, let alone Wyoming, but there do appear to be at least a few candidates who have won statewide in each of those states. As limited as the opportunities are in 2012, they look to be even more limited in 2014, so we might as well try to make the best of what chances we have.  

  16. What happens if Murray says no and everyone else who has said no does not change their minds? Who else is left that has yet to say not and is not up in 2012/too old? I can think of:








    Johnson (health problems?)



  17. Darth Jeff covered this on Friday, but the state rep (Walker Hines) that became a Republican is in a majority-black district in New Orleans. Kind of strange he would change. However, his switch may have opened to door for Caroline Fayard to run for SoS. Hines on Thursday said he was considering a run for SoS, and Democrats were relieved, knowing they would have a strong candidate if Fayard and Sen. Willie Mount did not run. He has a profile similar to Fayard, a father who is a wealthy political donor, who could funnel money to his campaign and the Dem party. However, on Friday, he announced he was becoming a Republican, so now Dems will probably turn to Fayard for the SoS race. If she is smart, she will hold her fire. Now is not the best time for her to run and she still has another 30 years to run for office. Her father and the state Dem party are under investigation for him illegally earmarking contributions to the state party for his daughter’s campaign, so that may harm her in a race in the next year. Better for her to let that die down before running again. Many people believe that is why she lost the Lt. Gov race by such a big margin.  

  18. (1) San Diego went from having 60,000 ballots left to just 45,000 – and Cooley netted just 700 votes (6894-6160).

    That’s 52% of the two-way vote versus 57% in the county up until now.

    (2) Kern County, a huge Cooley county (63%-27%), only had 10,000 ballots left and just counted about 4,000. Cooley won that vote 2377-1569 – which is much much smaller than 63%-27%.


    Baird is moving to Edmonds, Wash., in the 1st Congressional District north and east of Lake Washington currently represented by Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee. If Inslee were to run for governor in 2012 as many expect, the congressional seat would be open.

    Inslee lost in an eastern WA district in ’94 before moving to WA-01 and taking that seat in ’98.

    Baird’s also put out some ugly markers:

    Baird said he doesn’t expect the Democrats to regain control of Congress for a decade, as Republicans will get credit for an economic recovery they had little to do with.

    “I told people we would screw it up,” Baird said of the Democrats. “You should never underestimate the power of liberals to shoot themselves in the foot.”

  20. He’s actually started raising money over the summer in anticipation of Pence retiring. Also considering runs are former state Rep. Luke Messer, who ran in the IN-05 primary, financial adviser Don Bates, Jr. who ran in the IN-Sen primary and is also considering a primary challenge to Lugar, and former Rep. David McIntosh, who lost the 2000 gov race.

  21. Johnson (D) now trails by just 180, having gained another 66 votes in the count of emergency and absentee ballots this morning.

    Got the news from the intro to a Newsday article. Can’t read the whole article, as it’s subscription-restricted. Can anyone view the rest?

    The Republican spin is that the Republican-leaning areas will be counting later, so Martins’ lead should be safe. But I read elsewhere that 65% of all the ballots to be counted post election day were from Dem registrants. So I’m not sure whose spin is more credible.

  22. GOP Senator Sam Slom will indeed be serving on every committee, being the lone Republican in the 25 member body.  Earlier I had wondered whether some committees might simply have only Democrats on them…but that is not the case.  However, the article does point out that Slom can’t possible hope to make the meetings of every committee.  I actually feel a little bad for him, it’s going to be a very busy, yet very unrewarding job.

    I would be curious if any other state legislative body has ever lurched so far towards one party as to leave the minority with a single seat, or even no seats if that has ever happened.

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