SSP Daily Digest: 12/31

Redistricting: Just a reminder to anyone who wants to reach for the golden babka — the last day to submit entries in SSP’s redistricting contest is January 10th.

MA-Sen: Sean Trende at RCP has an interesting “what-if” analysis, trying to game out what the Massachusetts senate election results would look like if turnout and voting patterns shifted there in the same way they did in the 2009 VA and NJ gubernatorial races. A lot of caveats, of course, but the bottom line number is interesting – if ultimately implausible. (D) Republican Scott Brown, meanwhile, has raised $600K in December for his bid. (Update: Martha Coakley raised $1 million between November 20th and December 31st, according to a press release from her campaign.)

MD-Gov: In a fundraising letter, Dem Gov. Martin O’Malley raises the specter of a comeback attempt by the man he defeat in 2006, ex-Gov. Robert Ehrlich. Of course, we don’t know if O’Malley actually thinks Ehrlich will run, or if he’s just using the possibility as a way to scare up some scrilla. (D)

AL-07: Former Selma Mayor James Perkins has dropped out of the Democratic primary for Artur Davis’ seat, citing health reasons for his decision. That leaves the primary as a three-way contest between state Rep. Earl Hilliard Jr., attorney and ArturD2 protege Terri Sewell and Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Smoot.

TX-10: Attorney and one-time TV judge Larry Joe Doherty, the 2008 Dem nominee for this seat, declined to run a second time. In an email to supporters, he said he felt it would be wrong to ask his friends to donate to him, since a victory here could be “snatched away in redistricting,” depending upon the outcome of the governor’s race. (D)

MN-State Sen: SSPer MinnesotaMike gives us a rundown on the candidates who are lining up for the special election to replace retiring GOP Sen. Dick Day (of “Dick Day Afternoon” fame).

NY-State Sen: The New York Daily News says that a Senate report is likely to recommend expulsion for Democratic state Sen. Hiram Monserrate.

Maps: This cool site has maps showing the presidential vote by county for every election dating back to 1836. Go get your Van Buren on.

Fundraising: Today’s the last day of the quarter to donate to your favorite House or Senate candidates. If you’re thinking about donating to someone, now would be a good time to do it.

KS-02: Kelly (D) Drops Out

More bad news:

State Sen. Laura Kelly (D) just announced she will be withdrawing from the race to face Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.). She becomes the fifth formidable recruit to bow out in recent weeks.

“I have been forced to make a decision between honoring the pledge I made to the people in my Senate district and my firm conviction that the people of the 2nd congressional district deserve a truly independent voice in Congress,” Kelly said in a statement.

It’s not yet clear whether any Dem contenders of note will step up to run in Kelly’s place. The Topeka Capital-Journal notes that state Sen. Tom Holland had been considering a bid until Kelly launched her campaign; perhaps he may be interested in giving the race a second look.

RaceTracker Wiki: KS-02

Swing State Project Changes Ratings on Ten Races

The Swing State Project is changing its ratings on seven Senate and three gubernatorial races:

  • AR-Sen: Lean D to Tossup
  • AZ-Sen: Safe R to RTW
  • CO-Sen: Lean D to Tossup
  • IA-Sen: RTW to Likely R
  • IL-Sen: Lean D to Tossup
  • PA-Sen: Lean D to Tossup
  • TX-Sen: Likely R to RTW

  • KS-Gov: Likely R to Safe R
  • OR-Gov: Lean D to Likely D
  • TX-Gov: RTW to Likely R

We’ll be posting full write-ups for all of these changes soon. In the meantime, the end of the year seems like a good time to post our full ratings charts, especially given the number of changes we’ve just made.

Our Senate chart:

Likely D Lean D Tossup Lean R Likely R
AR (Lincoln)

CO (Bennet)

CT (Dodd)

DE (Open)

IL (Open)

KY (Open)

MO (Open)

NH (Open)

NV (Reid)

OH (Open)

PA (Specter)
NC (Burr) FL (Open)

IA (Grassley)

LA (Vitter)

Races to Watch:

     AZ (McCain)

     CA (Boxer)

     HI (Inouye)

     ND (Dorgan)

     NY-B (Gillibrand)

     TX (Hutchison)

     UT (Bennett)

     WI (Feingold)

Our gubernatorial chart:

Likely D Lean D Tossup Lean R Likely R
MD (O’Malley)

NM (Open)

OR (Open)
CA (Open)

HI (Open)

ME (Open)

OH (Strickland)
AZ (Brewer)

CO (Ritter)

CT (Open)

FL (Open)

IA (Culver)

MA (Patrick)

MI (Open)

MN (Open)

NV (Gibbons)

PA (Open)

RI (Open)

VT (Open)

WI (Open)
GA (Open)

OK (Open)

TN (Open)
AL (Open)

SC (Open)

SD (Open)

TX (Perry)

WY (Open)

Races to Watch:

     AK (Parnell)

     IL (Quinn)

     NY (Paterson)

     UT (Herbert)

Washington State: A Nonpartisan 10 District Map

In the wake of the news that Washington State is slated to recieve a new seat in Congress, I decided to try and draw a 10 district map for the state. Since they redistrict by a non partisan board, I tried to make the districts as sensible as they could be and avoid splitting counties wherever possible. I also ignored incumbents’ homes and aimed to create districts based upon shared interests where possible without splitting counties. For example, the new 10th is centered on the high tech industry as a creative class district, while the new 8th is a blue collar industrial district, and the 6th has a secondary military focus.

The resulting map probably will make at least three incumbent Democrats less than pleased. Norm Dicks and Jay Inslee now live in the new 2nd, Rick Larsen is now in the new 1st, the 6th and 10th are unoccupied. Dems should win the 1st, 2nd, 6th, 7th, 9th, and the new 10th without much problem. The 8th is drawn to favor a blue collar union Dem, though Reichert could win there, and the 3rd is still the most balanced in the state.

The GOP is probably content with this one; while not a gerrymander, the 4th and 5th are secure, the 3rd is still a tossup, and Reichert sheds the problematic parts of the old 8th (though his new one is far from secure).


Pierce County (Tacoma)

King County (Seattle)

Details for Each District

Washington’s 1st Congressional District

Community of Interest: Snohomish County

Politically: Likely Democrat

Ethnic Makeup: 77% White, 2% Black, 1% Native Americam, 9% Asian, 7% Latino, 3% Other

One of my core beliefs is that if any county has roughly the correct amount of population to form a single congressional district, it should remain intact as a single unit. Thus, the 1st takes up all but about 30,000 residents of Snohomish County, which supported Obama by a 58-40 margin. That said, Jay Inslee doesn’t live in this version of the district, but current 2nd CD congressman Rick Larsen does. Correspondingly, Inslee now finds himself in Larsen’s 2nd. It would be an interesting situation to be sure.

Washington’s 2nd Congressional District

Community of Interest: Pacific Coast Communities

Politically: Likely Democrat

Ethnic Makeup: 83% White, 2% Black, 2% Native American, 4% Asian, 7% Latino, 3% Other

This is the district that I am by far the least happy with in the whole map. It’s a direct result of keeping Snohomish largely together in the 1st, and is an awkward combination of Bremerton’s Kitsap County, the various islands, and the two farthest north coastal counties. All of these are fairly Democratic areas, and it should elect a Democrat. The new 2nd has two Democratic incumbents: Jay Inslee (already discussed) and Norm Dicks, who lives in Bremerton. I’d guess that Dicks runs in my 6th, where most of his old district is and Inslee or Larsen would run here.

Washington’s 3rd Congressional District

Community of Interest: Southern Washington

Politically: Tossup, Slight Dem Lean

Ethnic Makeup: 76% White, 1% Black, 2% Native American, 3% Asian, 15% Latino, 2% Other

This, along with my new 8th District are the two most competitive within the new map. The bulk of the district’s population lives in Clark County, and Obama carried every county in the district with the exception of the Yakima County portion of the district. Now, about that Yakima County portion of the district…it’s 60% Latino, so it’s not nearly as bad as you might think upon first glance. That said, I don’t doubt that the right GOPer could win here given the swingy nature of several of the counties.

Washington’s 4th Congressional District

Community of Interest: Central Washington

Politically: Safe Republican

Ethnic Makeup: 68% White, 1% Black, 1% Native American, 2% Asian, 27% Latino, 1% Other

The most GOP district in all of Washington. It contains several smaller cities: Pasco, Kennewick, Walla Walla, and the vast bulk of the city of Yakima. This should be a sinecure for whichever GOPer holds it.

Washington’s 5th Congressional District

Community of Interest: Eastern Washington

Politically: Likely Republican

Ethnic Makeup: 86% White, 1% Black, 2% Native American, 2% Asian, 5% Latino, 2% Other

This is the less Republican of the two Eastern Washington seats, and most of the population here is concentrated in Spokane County, which McCain barely won. It also contains Washington State University in Pullman; Whitman County is the only one in the district that voted for John McCain. This should be a relatively safe place for Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, but it’s not a mortal lock like the 4th.

Washington’s 6th Congressional District

Community of Interest: Olympic Peninsula/US Military

Politically: Likely Democratic

Ethnic Makeup: 83% White, 2% Black, 2% Native American, 3% Asian, 6% Latino, 3% Other

This version of the 6th has been largely reconfigured; it sheds Bremerton to the 2nd, and Tacoma into the 9th. In its place, the new 6th gains heavily Democratic Thurston County (Olympia)which voted 60-38 for Obama. It also picks up moderately Democratic Pacific and Wahkitum Counties as well as Republican Lewis County. It also includes Fort Lewis, McChord Air Force Base and the Gig Harbor portions of Pierce.

My guess is that with Fort Lewis and McChord, Dicks would run here instead of the 2nd, which despite Kitsap and Bremerton, is still mostly of a Whatcom/Skagit/San Juan/Island District. The only familiar part of the 2nd for Dicks would be Bremerton, whereas here he has represented the four northernmost counties plus the Pierce component of the district. It’s likely not quite as Democratic as the old 6th, but it should elect some flavor of Democrat.

The only regret I had here was not getting the missile sub base in Bangor into this district as well. If you’re willing to split Snohomish and King even more, you can do that. With that said, two out of three ain’t bad, and Dicks will look after Bangor anyways.

Washington’s 7th Congressional District

Community of Interest: City of Seattle

Politically: Strong Democratic

Ethnic Makeup: 63% White, 9% Black, 1% Native American, 17% Asian, 8% Latino, 3% Other

This is basically the city of Seattle with just a sliver of suburbs to the south. Slam dunk Dem with a very high Dem + PVI number.

Washington’s 8th Congressional District

Community of Interest: South King County

Politically: Tossup

Ethnic Makeup: 69% White, 6% Black, 1% Native American, 11% Asian, 9% Latino, 3% Other

Now we move on to that Democratic perennial target, the 8th District. That district, in its old form has been vaporized into three. The new 8th has been designed as a largely South King County seat; think of this as the Boeing/Weyerhauser district. It includes Kent, Renton, Covington, and Auburn from the old 8th, as well as Federal Way, Des Moines, and SeaTac from the old 9th. In addition, there is a small slice of Pierce County (mostly Bonney Lake) included.

Dave Reichert would probably run here; the new 10th is drawn as a Microsoft/High Tech District that has most of Darcy Burner’s best areas included. That said, most of the Pierce County portions that have saved him in the past ended up in the new 9th District.

For the Democrats, my guess is that State Rep Chris Hurst runs here, setting up a cop vs. cop showdown. Hurst always would have difficulty in a Dem primary in the old 8th, as he was a poor fit for the Bellvue/Mercer Island parts. This much more working class version should fit him like a glove.

Washington’s 9th Congressional District

Community of Interest: City of Tacoma/Pierce County

Politically: Likely Democratic

Ethnic Makeup: 72% White, 7% Black, 1% Native American, 7% Asian, 8% Latino, 4% Other

The 9th has been redrawn to be all about Tacoma and Pierce County. With the exception of Gig Harbor, Bonney Lake, and Fort Pierce, all of Pierce County is in the district. Adam Smith, a Tacoma resident, should be just fine here.

Washington’s 10th Congressional District

Community of Interest: King County’s High Tech Community

Politically: Likely Democrat

Ethnic Makeup: 77% White, 2% Black, 1% Native American, 12% Asian, 6% Latino, 2% Other

If the new 8th is all about Boeing and Weyerhauser, then this is the Microsoft District. It includes Bellvue, Redmond, Mercer Island, Shoreline, Issiquah, and part of Bothell. There is also a small portion of Snohomish County with about 30,000 voters.

It is likely the wealthiest district in the state and the best educated. It is appropriately the newest district, as this portion of King County has been the fastest growing in the state. It includes the areas where Darcy Burner did best in the old 8th and will almost certainly elect a Democrat. The primary here would be something to watch….Ross Hunter would likely have the inside track here.

NC State Senate – Dem Leadership Turnover

The North Carolina State Senate will see considerable turnover in the Democratic Leadership by the end of 2010. Democrats currently hold a 30-20 majority, and have controlled the Senate Chamber since the 1870s. All members face re-election every 2 years.

3 Democrats have announced they will not run in 2010, and Majority Leader Tony Rand resigned today to accept a new position in state government. The retirements include 3 (now 4) of the 5 most senior Democrats in the Senate.

1/17 Update – Another retirement announced – Sen Charlie Albertson will not run in 2010.

Majority Leader Tony Rand has resigned after 27 years to accept Governor Bev Perdue’s appointment as Chair of the State Parole Commission. Gov Perdue will appoint Rand’s replacement.…

Sen David Hoyle, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, has announced he will not run for re-election in 2010 after serving for 18 years in the State Senate.…

Sen Julia Boseman has announced she won’t seek a 4th term in 2010. Boseman is NC’s only openly gay or lesbian legislator.…

Sen RC Soles, Chairman of the Commerce Committee and NC’s longest serving State Senator, has announced he will not run for re-election in 2010. Soles was first elected to the Legislature in 1968, serving 40 years. Soles shot and wounded an intruder in his home earlier this year, and may face charges.…

The seats held by Hoyle, Boseman, and Soles were all considered competitive in 2008.…

1/17 update: Sen Charlie Albertson announced Friday he will not run for re-election in 2010. His district #10 is a D +3 district. Albertson has served in the legislature for 20 years. He is the 3rd most senior Democrat in the Senate.…

SSP Daily Digest: 12/30

Dave’s Redistricting App: If you use Dave’s App, please don’t close your browser window/tab when you take a break. Whenever you load a new instance of the app, it causes a big bandwidth hit, especially when you open up New York state. So to help Dave conserve bandwidth, leave your browser open once you’ve loaded whatever you’re working on until you’re finished with that project. Thanks! (D)

AZ-Sen: Ex-Rep. J.D. Hayworth says that he may be ready to start “testing the waters” for a primary challenge to John McCain. Hayworth was recently seen in D.C., holding a joint fundraiser with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio that raked in $100,000. Hayworth’s share of the proceeds went directly to help alleviate his outstanding legal bills.

CT-Sen: Well, this is awkward. Before Chris Dodd led the attacks on AIG for its executive compensation fiasco, Dodd was in AIG’s offices, collecting checks from their employees.

MA-Sen: Republican Scott Brown has launched the first ad of his campaign, making a totally cheeseball comparison between himself and JFK.

NY-Gov: Basil Paterson, David’s dad and former SoS, raises the ugly specter of the 2002 gubernatorial primary between Carl McCall and Andrew Cuomo as some kind of “warning” to Cuomo. (D)

AL-05: As we expected, PSC Commissioner Susan Parker has turned down the opportunity to challenge Parker Griffith in 2010. This leaves Democrats without a top shelf candidate, but there are other options worth considering. One potential candidate, state Rep. Randy Hinshaw, talks with Left in Alabama about the campaign that he’d like to see the Democratic nominee run. Doc’s Political Parlor hears that Deborah Bell Paseur is unlikely to run, and that Hinshaw is “as likely as anyone” to go for it. Madison County Commissioner Bob Harrison is also thinking about it.

CA-19: The Defenders of Wildlife are gearing up to do whatever it takes to prevent Richard Pombo from re-entering Congress (as he is considering), even if it means supporting another conservative Republican for the seat of retiring GOP Rep. George Radanovich. Meanwhile, Taniel notes that ex-Fresno mayor Jim Patterson is a Club For Growth protege — so this could be a pretty lively primary.

LA-03: State Rep. Nickie Monica has become the first Republican to file for the seat of Dem Rep. Charlie Melancon.

TX-10: Foreign policy consultant Dan Grant, who lost a 2008 Democratic primary to local celebrity judge Larry Joe Doherty, has taken his name out of consideration as a last-minute replacement for businessman Jack McDonald, who withdrew his candidacy for the seat of GOP Rep. Mike McCaul last week.

NC-10: Here’s something interesting we missed a while back: Iredell County Commissioner Scott Keadle is challenging Rep. Patrick McHenry in the GOP primary, and he’s backed his play with $250K of his own money. It’s not really clear what exactly Keadle’s beef with McHenry is – he seems to be running a 1994-esque campaign, accusing McHenry (who’s only held office since 2005) of turning into a “career politician,” and pledging to serve no more than three terms himself. (Hat-tip: Reader IR) (D)

VA State Sen: Hotline on Call takes a look at a crucial special election between ex-Fairfax Co. School Board member Steve Hunt (R) and Del. Dave Marsden (D). Marsden and Hunt are running to replace Republican AG-elect Ken Cuccinelli. If Democrats somehow win the seat, they’d be able to pad their razor-thin majority in the Senate to 22-18.

NYC-Mayor: The Swing State Project has gotten its hands on the precinct-by-precinct results for the 2009 New York City mayor’s race. You can also check out our entire storehouse of obscure election returns and otherwise-unpublished polling memos at the SSP Document Collection. For some tasty eye candy and analysis, SSP Research Bureau Chief jeffmd has put together some beautiful maps comparing Thompson’s performance to Obama’s. (D)

Polltopia: Pick PPP’s next state polling target: Alabama, Connecticut, Illinois, Florida or Massachusetts.  

No Sleep till Brooklyn: Why Bill Thompson isn’t Mayor(-elect)

A few threads back, there was a lively discussion about voting patterns in Brooklyn, and how that impacted the 2009 mayoral race.

Thanks to David who worked his lawyerly Freedom-of-Information magic, we got some precinct results to look at.

I compared Thompson’s performance to Obama’s performance, and the results are pretty stark as to where the areas of relative strength are for each candidate.

So the baselines first:

Obama beat McCain by 59.27%; he earned 79.34% to McCain’s 20.07%. 2,613,944 total votes were cast.

Thompson lost to Bloomberg by 4.38%; he earned 46.33% to Bloombo’s 50.71%. 1,154,505 votes were cast, meaning turnout was 44% of 2008 turnout.

Maps (what else do I post here?) and more over the flip.

So here are Obama and Thompson’s absolute performances in the city.

Obama’s performance we already knew about, but a few striking aspects of Thompson’s performance:

  • Upper East Siders lurve them some Bloombo.

  • Whites in the Bronx voted for Bloomberg.

  • Hispanics voted mostly for Thompson (though not to the levels they voted for Freddy Ferrer, I would posit).

  • Blacks stayed strongly loyal to Thompson, with slight drop-offs visible in Brooklyn and East Queens.

  • Staten Island stayed Staten Island.

More interestingly, here is a comparison of Obama and Thompson’s absolute performances. A more intense blue indicates a stronger Obama performance; a deeper red indicates a stronger Thompson performance.

Obviously, most of the map is some shade of blue, since Obama’s margin was 63.65% greater than Thompson’s. Even given this, there are still two visible clusters of red in Brooklyn: Williamsburg and Borough Park. Thompson still lost these precincts by a decent margin, but he improved over Obama despite the tide moving 64% in the other direction. I took this as evidence of the Hasidic Jewish community’s growing dislike of Bloomberg, which had been mentioned a few times before the election.

On the flipside, as you would expect, Manhattan and Brooklyn Heights are home to the Obama-Bloomberg voters, especially on the Upper East and West Sides, in Midtown, and down in the Financial District.

The lighter shades of blue are in East Queens and Central Brooklyn – mostly majority-black precincts that went strongly for both.

Another interesting cluster of these, though, is on the South Shore of Staten Island; Thompson’s performance didn’t fall all that much off from Obama’s (admittedly already weak) performance there. It seems there, though, that the voters are more reflexively Republican than those in Southern Brooklyn, where Obama seemed to be a particularly bad fit. (backup evidence: Stephen Cymbrowitz and Carl Kruger are elected from those areas in Brooklyn. Southern Staten Island elects two Republicans to the Assembly/Senate, Lou Tobacco and Andrew Lanza).

Alternatively, this can be shown in graph form. Obama’s margin on the x-axis; Thompson’s on the y-axis.

Now any monkey could have told you generally a stronger Obama performance is correlated with a stronger Thompson performance, but the exceptions to that general rule are evident here as well. The large cluster of green on the bottom right are those previously mentioned Manhattan precincts, while the dispersed red dots towards the middle and lower left are the Brooklyn precincts in which Thompson actually improved. (Incidentally, yellow represents Staten Island, orange for the Bronx, and blue for Queens). The bright green line is the even-performance line.

Now two more maps of interest, each candidate’s performance relative to their citywide cumulative total (Obama first, then Thompson).

Obama did well throughout the city, a strong Obama performance was the norm. You don’t see many places darker than light blue, simply because you can’t get more than 100% of the vote! Where Obama underperformed, he really underperformed. You see this in Suburban Queens and also Middle Village/Maspeth, and of course Southern Brooklyn and Staten Island.

Thompson’s performance really varied much more. He overperformed in many places, and underperformed in many places as well; these deviations are of much more equal magnitude. Again, as we’ve realized, Thompson’s weakest area was the Upper East Side.

So all this poses the question, what happened?

Well, in three words, Thompson’s turnout problem.

Conventional wisdom dictates that minorities (who are actually a majority in NYC) turn out less in general. While this may or may not be true, I normalized and considered 2009 turnout as a percentage of 2008 turnout.

The results, first at the precinct level. The same color codes apply as before for borough. Turnout as a percentage of 2008 turnout is expressed on the x-axis; the Thompson-Bloomberg margin on the y-axis. (Turnout dropped most in the Bronx, in case you’re wondering.)

You see a general effect of center left to lower right, suggesting stronger Bloomberg performances being correlated with greater turnout. This effect is even more pronounced when we consolidate to an assembly district level:

It’s not pretty. For you stats geeks out there, the correlation on that bad boy is -0.77. Ouch.

Incidentally, that one AD with the lowest drop-off? None other than Dov Hikind’s 48th AD. Turnout there was lower there in 2008, but those that voted in 2008 were most likely to have voted again in 2009.

As a parting thought, take solace (or anguish) in this: if turnout had dropped to the 44% figure I mentioned at the start equally across the city, Thompson would have won, 49.16% to 48.00%.

Having arrived at Brooklyn, I’m going to sleep. I realize I owe you a proposed set of New York Senate districts. I just need to write the diary. I’ll get around to it…eventually.

AL-05, AL-Gov: Sparks Seeks to Revise Recent History

From the Huntsville Times:

State Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks pledged to continue his bid for governor on Tuesday, saying there was “never a point” where he considered running for the North Alabama congressional seat held by Parker Griffith, who last week switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. […]

Sparks’ announcement comes after speculation that he was considering a run for Griffith’s seat.

Sparks criticized his Democratic opponent, Birmingham Rep. Artur Davis, of making it appear Sparks was running for Congress, and at one point, lieutenant governor.

Alright, I’ll say it: Who the hell does Ron Sparks think he’s fooling? Because he’s certainly not pulling a fast one on anyone who’s been paying attention to the political circus going on in northern Alabama over the past week. Let’s review the evidence.

On December 23rd, we noted that Sparks posted a status update on his Facebook page saying that he had been called by the DCCC and was giving thought to the campaign. In what seems to be a misguided effort to cover up its tracks, the Sparks campaign has removed that post from their Facebook profile. I didn’t have the foresight to save the text from that status update, but fortunately, the esteemed Reid Wilson did:

“As you may know, I received a call from the DCCC yesterday regarding the 5th congressional seat abandoned by Parker Griffith. We will be considering all of our options in the days and weeks ahead,” Sparks wrote in a status update.

Kind of pokes a fat freakin’ hole in Sparks’ statement that he never considered running for Congress, huh?

For days, this was how the situation was characterized by the local media:

Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks also said he has not ruled out a run for the 5th Congressional District. He said he’s still planning to run for governor, but will talk to several people over the coming days before making a final decision.

If Sparks was so firmly committed to the gubernatorial race, why didn’t he shoot down such talk immediately? The answer, to you and I and everyone else who has been paying the slightest bit of attention, was that Sparks was actually giving the race some thought. As if you needed any further evidence, Sparks was quoted just last week as saying that he was mulling over the race with his advisers:

Sparks said Wednesday he is sticking with his campaign for governor for now. But Sparks said he will talk with advisers during the holidays and didn’t rule out a change.

“I need a lot of advice from people who understand politics a lot better than I do,” said Sparks.

Not only that, his campaign, as recently as Sunday spent a lot of time talking up his ability to win a 5th District race:

Justin Saia, Sparks’s campaign manager, would only say that the commissioner is “open to entertaining other options” – but then made the case for why his candidate would be formidable in the congressional campaign.

“He has won every county in the 5th twice,” Saia said, noting Sparks’s roots in north Alabama. […]

Saia said that Sparks “understands the complexities and dynamics of north Alabama,” a traditionally Democratic and populist-oriented part of the state, and pointed out that he has already won support from many local officials there in his gubernatorial bid.

Saia said the commissioner hasn’t yet made a decision about leaving the gubernatorial contest. He indicated that Sparks is interested in what sort of commitment the DCCC would be willing to make on a seat that has been in Democratic hands for over a century but could be hotly contested next year.

It was bad enough that Sparks flirted so openly with this race, only to turn around and decline the opportunity. It’s so much worse to spin yarns about how he never considered leaving the gubernatorial race at all.

I don’t know what Ron Sparks thinks he’s accomplishing here, but he’s succeeded in making himself look like a damned fool.