SSP Daily Digest: 1/19

FL-Sen: With everyone fixated on the three retirements in the Senate in the last week (although the Fix makes the good point this morning that by this point in the 2010 cycle, there had already been four retirements), Bill Nelson seems compelled to point out that he won’t be one of them. In front of as many reporters as possible (at an AP gathering), he confirmed today that he’s running again.

MO-Sen, MO-06: Wow, this is out of nowhere (although I’m not sure whether this is going to have any legs beyond today), but potentially very interesting: Republican Rep. Sam Graves is suddenly expressing some interest in the Senate race, calling it a “great opportunity.” He’s been in the House since 2000 and is chair of the Small Business Committee, so giving that up would be a big move. He may be seeing the diminished likelihood of a Jim Talent run and sensing there’s room for another establishmentarian-type candidate to go against the more tea-flavored Sarah Steelman. (This would open up MO-06 in the state’s rural northwest, which was Dem-held before Graves but has shifted to the right, currently R+7; Dems tried to make it competitive in 2008 and didn’t get any traction.)

ND-Sen: Ready for a whole lot of names of people who might run for Senate? In fact, let me just blockquote the Bismarck Tribune, rather than transcribing it laboriously:

The list of Republicans whose names are being thrown out include Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, Rep. Rick Berg, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Tax Commissioner Cory Fong, Public Service Commissioners [Brian] Kalk and Kevin Cramer, Sen. John Hoeven’s state director Shane Goettle, GOP state treasurer Bob Harms, and Great Plains Software developer Doug Burgum.

As for Democrats, names circulating include both [ex-state Sen. and radio host]Joel and [ex-AG] Heidi Heitkamp, former state Sen. Tracy Potter, USDA Rural Development Director Jasper Schneider, state Sen. Mac Schneider, U.S Attorney Tim Purdon, Conrad’s state director Scott Stofferahn and former Byron Dorgan staffer Pam Gulleson, former agriculture commissioner Sara Vogel, former state Rep. Chris Griffin, State Sen. Tim Mathern of Fargo, Senate Minority Leader Ryan Taylor and even Earl Pomeroy.

The Bismarck Tribune article also gets a number of these people on record, although their comments are all various degrees of noncommittal. Kent Conrad tipped his hand a bit yesterday, giving nods in the Grand Forks Herald to both Heitkamps, as well as to Schneider. One other Dem who got mentioned a lot yesterday, Roger Johnson (the president of the National Farmers Union) has already said he’s not interested. And in what’s not a surprise, the Tea Partiers aren’t happy with anyone of ’em (although some had some words of praise for Berg), but are still promising to “battle for control.”

VT-Sen: It looks like Republican state Auditor Tom Salmon’s Facebook attacks on Bernie Sanders weren’t just the work of a bored guy at work but, as many speculated, part of a coordinated plan to move toward a run against Sanders; he’s now publicly saying that he he’s interested in the race. Color me puzzled: why would Salmon (who was a Democrat until a year and a half ago) go after an entrenched institution like Sanders in 2012 when he could run for Gov. against Peter Shumlin, who’s just getting situated and won by only a narrow margin in 2010?

KY-Gov: This one gets filed straight to the Department of Foregone Conclusions, but it was made official today: Republican state Sen. president David Williams and Ag Comm. Richie Farmer filed their candidacy papers today, to go up against incumbent Dem Steve Beshear in November.

WV-Gov: We’re getting some pushback/clarification from Shelley Moore Capito’s team regarding claims from gubernatorial candidate Betty Ireland that she wasn’t going to run for Governor; a spokesperson says the only thing that’s off the table is a run in the special election for Governor (which we know now will be held this November). She’s still open to a bid for either Governor or Senate in 2012. Dave Catanese also wonders whether Capito’s timeline is a little longer, i.e. a 2014 run against Jay Rockefeller (or for his open seat, if he retires, seeing as how he’ll be 77 then). It’s also looking like the candidates for November’s special election will be picked by primary rather than by the parties; acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who was the main impediment to a 2011 election until yesterday’s supreme court ruling, says he’s working with SoS (and likely Dem primary opponent) Natalie Tennant to set special primaries in motion.

NY-13: Ex-Rep. Mike McMahon seems to be laying groundwork for a rematch against Mike Grimm, who defeated him narrowly in 2010. He reached out to members of the Staten Island Democratic Association at a meeting last night.

OR-01: Rep. David Wu has always struck people as a little odd (many of you probably remember his Klingons speech), but it seems like something has intensified lately, and it’s starting to come out in the open. It’s been revealed that in the last few months, he’s lost a number of his key staffers amidst complaints about his public behavior, including his chief of staff (who left to join a Rep. with less seniority) and his communications director (who left without having another job lined up, which is even more highly unusual, especially in this economic climate). This chief fundraiser and chief pollster also say they don’t plan to work with him any longer. This is a D+8 district with a robust Dem bench, which is good because this may be a difficult story for Wu to shake, especially given general rumblings of discontent with him that have been building over time.

Mayors: Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter looks like he’s in good shape for his 2011 re-election, according to a new poll from Municipoll. Nutter’s at 47-39 against Generic D primary opponent, wins a three-way primary against Bill Green and Anthony Williams 46-21-18, and wins a three-way against Sam Katz and Williams 44-22-21. Interestingly (though consistent with the original coalition that elected him), Nutter has stronger support among whites (64% favorable) than he does among African-Americans, at 45%. (Nutter is black.) Nutter also just secured the support of the Laborers union. Even further down the weeds in Philly, Republican state Rep. (and, briefly, former speaker) Dennis O’Brien will run for a vacant city council seat in NE Philly. That’s good news, because it might free up his state House seat and make any Dem attempt to retake the state House in 2012 easier, seeing as how his seat is one of the most Dem-leaning seats held by a Republican.

Minnesota: Two stories developing in Minnesota; one, the legal battle over 2012 redistricting has already begun, with Minnesota its first flashpoint. With the GOP controlling the legislature (but not the governorship), Dems have filed a suit seeking an injunction requiring legislators to submit proposed redistricting plans directly to the court (where they’ll probably wind up anyway, regardless of how this suit goes). Also, Minnesota GOP legislators are seeking to emulate their next-door neighbors in Wisconsin in making it more difficult to vote, seeking to push a voter ID bill.

Redistricting: You may remember some Republican laments from a few days ago about the apparent failure of their MAPS program to raise the money needed to coordinate redistricting at a national level; those fears seem to be spreading, including to ex-Rep. Tom Reynolds, who’s spearheading the process for the GOP this year. Part of the problem seems to be that they spent so much money winning control of state legislatures in November that nothing was reserved for coordinating the subsequent redistricting. Nathan Gonzales also previews how state legislators from both parties are currently hunkering down in Washington learning (since many weren’t in office in 2000) the redistricting process from the ground up; in particular, they’re learning the new technologies (like GIS programs like Maptitude), which obviously have come a long way since the last round of redistricting.

Census: Hats off to the Census Bureau, who, just in time to go with their upcoming onslaught of 2010 data, have launched a new and improved version of American FactFinder (the main research tool on their site), a significant improvement over the rather clumsy and unintuitive existing version. I wouldn’t go so far as to call the new version intuitive either, but it makes multi-variable searches and customized maps much easier.

204 thoughts on “SSP Daily Digest: 1/19”

  1. “why would Salmon (who was a Democrat until a year and a half ago) go after an entrenched institution like Sanders in 2012 when he could run for Gov. against Peter Shumlin, who’s just getting situated and won by only a narrow margin in 2010?”

    1.  after bernie’s speech, salmon might be able to tap into the netroots on the right, getting thousands, if not millions from them that wouldn’t be available if he challenges Shumlin.

    2.  Bernie’s old and may retire if a threat comes along (conversely, Bernie’s a fighter and rather cantankerous at times to boot.  I see Bernie staying just to send salmon a message).

    3.  Tom salmon’s ego is larger than maine and thinks he deserves more than to “just” be governor.

  2. The Pennsylvania state legislature mention got me thinking. Anyone know the most Republican leaning seat held by a Democrat and vice versa? I figure the Democrat is somewhere in the south and the Republican on one of the coasts.

  3. FL-Sen: This is legitimately good news. I continue to think he’s the most underratedly strong Democrat running next cycle. He’s not hated by Republicans, and while he’s not particularly loved by Democrats, I fully expect the vast majority of them to vote for him anyway. I have no doubt that they will try a lot to take him down, but I consider him a strong favorite at this point.

    ND-Sen: What are the chances that Pomeroy or Johnson could be talked into it? There’s more than enough time for either of them to change their minds.

    If not one of them, then who? The Republican’s one H-Bomb of a candidate is already in the Senate, and while I don’t think any of the rest are going to be easy opponents, I wouldn’t view any of them as unbeatable. At this point, I wonder if the best solution is for the Democrat to have the resources necessary to travel the state and become a familar presence to voters. It’s not clear if Obama will contest the state in 2012, but that may not be necessary.

    As for the Teabaggers, what are the chances of them causing trouble? Others have said North Dakota is an unlikely place for them do it, for a few reasons, but at the same time, if the primary is small enough, and sufficiently large number of radical people are unhappy enough, who knows what could happen? Does anyone here know if there’s a run off in primaries in this state or if they are open?

    VT-Sen: Those are some good questions, but I have another one: why did this guy become a Republican in the first place?

    NY-13: He really didn’t get crushed this year, at least by national standards, and while it’d be nice to have a more liberal Represenative from New York, Staten Island seems to be more conservative than the surrounding areas. If he can win the district in whatever form it takes, then he should get a serious look.

    Minnesota: I’ve argued about this with people in the past, but considering there’s a very low, almost non-existant, incidence of coordinated voter fraud nationwide, I have to think one of two things: either there are some Midwestern states that have a very underreported problem, or the Republicans are behaving like a disease would, hoping to infect a sufficiently weakened body with the hopes of spreading. I’m not a lawyer yet, so I am not sure if this is the right analogy, but it seems like one it is accepted by one institution, it’s normal for it to be accepted by another. Thus, the more states do stuff like this, the more others will follow. I mean, why did they start with Indiana (which is where this latest round of crap began, if memory serves me correctly)?  

  4. I remember hearing David Wu acted inappropriately towards a girl when he was at Stanford, so I guess this isn’t too awfully surprising. I just like how his staffers seem to leave in pairs by first name…the block quote in the article mentions how first, Amy Adams and Meryl Streep Julie and Julia quit, and then Lisa and Lisa.

  5. In MN, the only statewide ballot question is a constitutional amendment, and in order to trigger one, you need a majority in both chambers of the legislature and that’s it.  Since the GOP now control both for the first time since 1971, they are going to use that as a means to legislate the divisive stuff.

    First, here is the editorial from Star Tribune today, introducing me to two new amendments they plan to do.  The two mentioned in the editorial are to create term-limits to 12 years in the house and 14 in the senate, and also to make Minnesota a right to work state.

    On top of those two, they will almost assuredly have the Photo ID bill as mentioned in the digest, and of course a gay marriage amendment.  Plus, plenty of talk of a personhood amendment stating that a fetus is a person could make it.  That’s five highly controversial amendments, added to our constitution of all things, when in the past 14 years we have only had seven total.

    Now, here is the good news.  I’ve been doing my homework already on the subject of gay marriage amendments and I discovered a giant nugget of awesome from South Dakota of all places.  In 2006, they had the abortion ballot question, gay marriage, and medical marijuana.  The gay marriage amendment passed by a mere 4%, which is the smallest margin any state has managed in the country*.  South Dakota having that title, wtf?  Could having multiple amendments like this make it easier to create a coalition of no?  The medical marijuana bill also failed while banning abortion was disapproved of by double digits.  Translating that to an MN electorate makes me excited for what we can pull off.

    *WA approved in 2009 an “everything but marriage” bill and AZ defeated an anti-same sex marriage amendment in 2006.  It was deemed too severe because it included all partnerships but two years later, a marriage only amendment passed overwhelmingly.  (Too severe is the general consensus, but SSP has taught me that Hispanic turn-out could have been the biggest factor.)

  6. Just for giggles, I drew a map that eliminates Graves. It would really be interesting – it’s a map that could conceivably be anything from 4-4 to 7-1 Republican in the most Dem and most Rep friendly situations, respectively.

    MO-1: Basically the same. Expands a little to the South in both STL City and County. Safe D.

    MO-2: Pretty similar. pushes a little south and west. Safe R.

    MO-3. Expands west and takes in the Carnahans’ ancestral home in Rolla. Probably a PVI of EVEN and a Toss-up.

    MO-4. Pulls in closer to KC and takes the more suburban Eastern parts of MO-5. More Dem, but still Likely to Safe R.

    MO-5. Takes in NW MO, including St. Joseph. Probably D+3, which is something Cleaver could lose but would favor a Dem in a neutral situation. Leans D.

    MO-6. The old MO-9, with a little expansion to the West. Safe R.

    MO-7. Almost identical. Safe R.

    MO-8. Expands a little North and West. Safe R.

  7. First, I’d be thrilled if Rep. Wu finally retires. I used to live in his district, and several members of my extended family (including my parents, actually) still do. He is a disappointing congressman prone to bizarre behavior. Suzanne Bonamici, a state senator from Beaverton, would be my ideal choice to succeed her; I’m acquainted with her family and she’s a very, very sharp person and a great communicator. She would probably get some establishment backing from the likes of Commissioner Avakian; she was his handpicked successor in the Oregon Senate after he was promoted up to statewide office.

    Second, I have an inkling that Sen. Sanders might not be a lock for reelection. Vermont is a really liberal state, but I don’t know what impression his socialist showboating has made there lately. It’d be nice not to have to worry about it, but I’m concerned that if Auditor Salmon appears remotely viable, someone might step up on the Democratic side as a liberal alternative to Sanders, potentially splitting the vote. The state might be liberal enough that it won’t matter, but I’m going to keep my eye on that race.

    Third, I don’t expect Democrats have a realistic shot at MO-06 even if Rep. Graves leaves the seat vacant; they’re going to be concerned with shoring up MO-05 for Rep. Cleaver, which will probably soak up a lot of Democratic precincts in Greater Kansas City from Graves’s district.

  8. Here’s the spreadsheet mentioned in the silive article passed out at the club meetings.  He’ll be attending every Democratic club meeting (there are around six on Staten Island).  I assume he’ll do the same in Brooklyn.

    Probably of most interest to those outside of NYC is the second sheet with the differences between “droppers” (those who voted for Obama but didn’t vote this election) and “switchers” who voted for Obama but voted for Republicans this time around.

  9. I always knew Graves was going to run for Senate soon, either in 2008 or 2012. His ego practically makes him destined for it.

    It’s hard to predict how Graves would do in the primary. He voted against TARP but is an avid earmarker. But the teabaggers couldn’t stop Roy Blunt from getting the nomination, and he was the GOP whip was responsible for TARP getting lots of GOP votes, so I’m not sure how much of a factor they would be. He’s definitely an establishment-type candidate, but he may not have the state GOP on his side, even if he gets national support, as there have been rifts between them in the past. I think Steelman could stay to his right and lock up enough activist and establishment support to stay ahead. Maybe he’ll seal the deal with some more racist and homophobic ads about “San Francisco values.”

    I was born and raised in the 6th district and went to college there, but now live in the 5th. It’s a weird mix of vast, rural farming areas and small towns, St. Joseph, a state university town, and the more conservative parts of Kansas City and its suburbs. Democrats have done fairly well in St. Joe, and Maryville is a college town, but it never has put out enough Dem votes to make much of an impact. So this really isn’t a district Dems should expect to be all that competitive. Plus, with redistricting and the loss of a seat in MO, I’m guessing the GOP will try to make both the 5th and 6th redder by pushing the more conservative areas of northern KC from the 6th into the 5th.

  10. Can someone find out who the three Democrats were that voted for repeal, today?  That’s a really good number, actually, though it’s really just an indicator of how many Dems got swept out.

  11. So,

    I watched Michigan Governor Rick Snyders State of the State address, tonight, and it was almost impossible to tell whether the guy was a Republican or a Democrat.  I think we may have one of those elusive independent governors everyone hears about but rarely sees.

    BTW, the guy is a terrible public speaker with a voice made for print, but everyone knew that when they elected him.

  12. The Council seat O’Brien is seeking is one of the two at-large seats guaranteed to the minority party, not a district seat.  The primary will nominate five; top two get it.  

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