SSP Daily Digest: 4/30 (Afternoon Edition)

AR-Sen: The SEIU is turning their amps up to 11 in a final effort to beat Blanche Lincoln in the Democratic primary. They’re ponying up another $1 million for a new TV ad blitz, focusing on Lincoln’s support for NAFTA, CAFTA, and sundry other free-trade deals.

FL-Sen: Looks like the “Help wanted” sign is going out at Charlie Crists’s office. As expected, much of his top-tier staff evacuated en masse; he lost communications director Andrea Saul, spokesperson Amanda Hennenberg, and campaign counsel Ben Ginsberg (all Beltway types left over from when Crist was the NRSC’s prize pony, who just headed back to the GOP’s mothership). Also former Crist marionette George LeMieux severed his strings: the seat-warming Senator says he won’t support Crist’s independent bid.

NV-Sen: Imagine that… a Democrat actually taking to the airwaves to explain the benefits of the broadly-misunderstood (or just plain not-understood-at-all) health care reform bill and not just ceding the discursive arena to right-wing radio and astroturfers? Better late than never, I guess. Harry Reid is forging ahead with that, launching three different new TV ads featuring stories from actual Nevadans actually benefiting from HCR.

OH-Sen (pdf): There’s one more poll of the Democratic Senate primary in Ohio, from Suffolk this time. They find an even bigger edge for Lee Fisher over Jennifer Brunner than did PPP; in fact, Suffolk has Fisher doubling up on her, 55-27. Voters may be thinking strategically: they also find that respondents feel Fisher has a better chance of beating Rob Portman than does Brunner, by a lop-sided 55-15 margin. Brunner voters report that, if Fisher wins the election, 74% will vote for Fisher and 8% for Portman.

AZ-Gov: PPP has one more installment in its Arizona sample today: the Republican primary in the gubernatorial race. As other pollsters have found, once-wobbly incumbent Jan Brewer has strengthened her primary position (while destabilized her general election position) by signing off on Arizona’s new racial profiling law. Brewer leads the pack at 38, over fractured opposition led by NRA board member Owen Buz Mills at 19, state Treasurer Dean Martin at 16, and former university regent John Munger at 3. (In PPP’s last poll here, from September, Brewer was losing a head-to-head against Martin 37-26.) PPP also did a fantasy-baseball poll that included Maricopa Co. Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who, as he does every four years, has been expressing interest in the race but not moving forward in it. Arpaio wins that version of the primary, taking 33%, with 25 for Brewer, 15 for Martin, 11 for Mills, and 1 for Munger.

MN-Gov: With the Republican endorsing convention in Minnesota already underway, most media accounts are focusing on Sarah Palin’s last-minute endorsement of state Rep. Tom Emmer, but there’s a more important endorsement at work here in terms of potentially moving some delegates: Norm Coleman is now also backing Emmer and privately making calls to delegates on Emmer’s behalf. The GOPers have already endorsed in some of the downballot races, maybe most notably the Auditor’s race, where they endorsed former Auditor Pat Anderson (who had been running for Governor for a while, until she decided to drop down and try to get her old job back instead).

UT-Gov: Mason-Dixon, on behalf of the Salt Lake Tribune, took another look at the general election in the Utah governor’s race, which is definitely looking like a heavy lift for Salt Lake County mayor Peter Corroon. The Democrat trails GOP incumbent Gary Herbert 61-30, an even better showing than Herbert’s 55-30 result in January.

FL-16: Whew. After making some noises about a possible comeback attempt, ex-Rep. Tim Mahoney decided on filing day that he wouldn’t run to get his seat back. He still took a parting shot at Rep. Tom Rooney, saying he’s part of the GOP’s move to the “radical right.” Some Dudes Jim Horn and Ed Tautiva are all the Dems have on the ballot in this R+5 district, unless something changes in the next few hours.

HI-01: The Republicans continue to very subtly funnel money into the 1st, somewhat mirroring their stealth strategy on how they got similarly-blue MA-Sen off the ground. Rather than the NRCC charging in with both barrels blazing, instead there’s a push for individual House GOP members to contribute directly to Charles Djou; about 40 have done so already.

IN-02: The National Rifle Association slammed GOP candidate Jackie Walorski. No, that’s not because the right-wing Walorski suddenly had a change of heart on the gun issue; instead, it was because she was claiming the NRA’s endorsement. That was only for her 2008 legislative bid, the NRA said, and she has not been endorsed yet for this year for the different office.

IN-03: Looks like Rep. Mark Souder isn’t going to be in the House much longer, regardless of how next week’s primary plays out. Brian Howey says Souder has been telling him that he’d already been contemplating retirement in 2012, and the stress of trying to win his unexpectedly-tough primary election has “sealed it” for him.

PA-04: Here’s a last-minute sign of life for Keith Rothfus, who’d been the leading GOP contender here up until the moment when former US Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan announced (although Rothfus beat Buchanan at fundraising last quarter). He got the endorsement today of Glen Meakem, a wealthy businessman and part-time talk radio host who’s something of a behind-the-scenes power in Republican circles in western Pennsylvania and who had briefly considered a Senate bid last year.

SC-04: Rep. Bob Inglis’s main threat this year is in the GOP primary, not the general, and he launched two different ads reminding voters that he’s actually pretty conservative. One ad touts his NRA endorsement, while the other runs down the litany of things he opposed (health care reform, stimulus, cap-and-trade, auto industry bailout).

NY-St. Sen.: A long-time Republican stalwart in the New York state Senate is retiring: Dale Volker (in office since 1975). Democrats looking to pad their narrow majority in the Senate may need to look elsewhere, though; this district in the Buffalo suburbs and surrounding rural counties is one of the most conservative in the state, with a 79K-to-65K GOP registration advantage, and won 54-40 by John McCain.

Arizona: Arizona has been doing all kinds of weird things lately, and here’s one more to add to the list. One of the few states to not have a Lt. Governor (the SoS is 2nd in line of succession, which is how Jan Brewer became Governor), Arizona is planning to have a Lt. Governor… but only because they would eliminate the SoS position and give all those duties to the LG. What’s even weirder is that they’d start doing what Illinois just decided to stop doing because the results were so uniformly terrible: the Governor and LG candidates will run separately in the primary, but be joined together on one ticket via shotgun wedding for the general election. The idea cleared the legislature, but because it’s a constitutional amendment, the idea has to pass a voter referendum before it becomes law.

Puerto Rico: The House approved allowing Puerto Rico to hold a plebiscite on its grey-area status (the last one was in 1998, where they decided to remain a commonwealth). It’ll be a two-step vote, where the first vote will ask whether it should remain a commonwealth or not. If the answer is “no,” the second vote will ask whether it should become independent, a U.S. state, still remain a commonwealth, or enter some other sovereign-but-connected-to-the-U.S. status. If it voted for statehood, Congress would still have to approve making it a state. Of course, this has to pass the Senate as well before the vote could happen, so it may get kicked down the road for a while.

OFA: Nathan Gonzales has a thorough look at the Obama campaign’s state directors, and how they’re part of OFA’s pivot to focus on turning out the same voters for the 2010 midterms. Here’s a handy table of what all the directors are up to these days.

History: Rhodes Cook has an interesting column that’s been getting linked all over the place in the last couple days: a much more apt comparison for what the Democrats are getting themselves this year, rather than 1994, is 1966. The parallels are that the Democrats were facing some inevitable snap-back after overperforming in the 1964 election (winning nearly 2/3s majorities in each chamber), and the GOP quickly got back up off the mat after the Dems pushed the limits in passing a variety of Great Society legislation (most notably Medicare). Of course, the Democrats still took a bath, losing 47 in the House and 3 in the Senate, so it’s still not really something the Democrats should aspire towards.

FL-Sen: Why We’ll Win

Yesterday Governor Crist made the decision to run as a No Party Affiliation candidate for U.S. Senate. This put me in a commanding position to be the next Senator from Florida. Governor Crist’s decision to run as an Independent makes this a three-way race, with Speaker Rubio effectively winning the Republican nomination. That means on election day, Floridians will have a choice between a strong, progressive Democrat who fights hard for everyday Floridians and two registered Republicans who together were the architects of Florida’s failed economy, who both are embroiled in a tax evasion scandal, and who both favor more tax breaks for corporate special interests and the wealthy as their only economic proposal.

The national Republicans know that with two Republicans on the ballot in November we have a great chance to elect a candidate who will actually work for the needs of everyday Floridians. That’s why they urged Governor Crist to stay in the race as a Republican or drop out.

Why do I think our campaign is in such good shape? The numbers. The base Democratic vote in Florida is 2.5 million strong and we are on the rise in Florida. While the other side was locked in a battle over whose philosophy is more conservative, we were busy gathering over 145,000 petitions from Floridians to get on the ballot. We’ve been running a strong grassroots campaign for months and this effort will be key to turning out the vote in November, especially in a three-way race. The overall voter turnout in 2010 looks to be about 6.2 million voters. That means that in a race with Crist and Rubio on the ballot, we can win with 40% of the overall vote, a number we can get to with the Democratic base alone.

Crist polls well now in a three-way race. But that’s because our campaign isn’t as widely-known at this point. Almost everyone in Florida knows Gov. Crist and most know Speaker Rubio, meaning they have little room to grow their support. I have a great opportunity to introduce myself to voters, tell them my story and what I’m going to fight for as Florida’s next U.S. Senator.

I’ll stay around a while to answer questions in the comments. Thanks for taking the time to read this and thanks for your support.


PS: Learn more about our campaign at, by texting JOIN to 35736, following us on or on Facebook at…

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FL-05: Ginny Brown-Waite Retires, Endorses Nugent

It’s for real, this time:

Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville, is abandoning her re-election bid.

“As I have prepared for my campaign, I have been troubled by persistent health problems and have come to the disappointing and sad conclusion that I cannot run for reelection. There are simply too many unresolved issues around my health and my pancreas in particular. As of this morning, my doctors are still undecided about what course to pursue next for my treatments.”

Brown-Wait immediately backed Hernando County Sheriff Ted Richard Nugent.

“I encouraged Sheriff Nugent to run because I know him to be a strong conservative who will continue my fight for veterans and seniors.  This past week Rich told me he would stand in my place for election to Congress.  On Monday I will to ask the Secretary of State to withdraw my name from the ballot.

You may recall that Brown-Waite teased the world with hints that she would retire back in February, only to announce instead that she was getting married. Though this seat has been held by Democrats in friendlier configurations, I wouldn’t expect a competitive race here — Obama lost the district by a 56-43 margin in 2008.

UPDATE: I neglected to mention that today is the filing deadline for Florida, so this looks like it was timed well in advance to give The Nuge a clear field in the primary (and probably the general, as well).

LATER UPDATE: Ah, crikey. The St. Pete Times incorrectly identified Hernando County Sheriff Richard Nugent as Ted Nugent. Words cannot express how disappointed I am right now.

PA-12: Dems Trailing in Special to Replace Murtha

Research 2000 for Daily Kos (4/26-28, likely voters, no trendlines):

Mark Critz (D): 40

Tim Burns (R): 46

Undecided: 14

(MoE: ±4%)

Things are looking tough for Democrats in the race to fill the late Jack Murtha’s House seat, with Research 2000 giving Republican Tim Burns his biggest lead yet. An earlier PPP poll showed him up three points, while interestingly, Burns’s own internal had him back one. Critz’s standing seems to be no fault of his own. He has similar favorables to Burns (44-33 vs. 46-40). The problem is simply that this is a bad district and a bad environment – a toxic combination.

Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district is a socially and culturally conservative place, the kind of area which has steadily been moving away from Democrats for quite some time. While much has been made of the fact that PA-12 was the only CD in the nation to flip from John Kerry to John McCain in 2008, that’s a pretty arbitrary metric. The real story is that it was one of just 35 CDs (out of 435) where Barack Obama got a smaller share of the vote than Kerry did. So while the nation as a whole was voting a whole lot more Democratic, PA-12 took a step in the other direction.

And it shows in two other key poll numbers. Obama’s approval in the district is just 38-55. Just as troubling, only 34% of voters say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports healthcare reform, while 48% are more likely to pull the lever for someone who advocates repeal. This helps explain why Critz has said he would have voted against HCR, but with this kind of headwind, that may not make much of a difference.

Both parties are seriously contesting this race – the DCCC has spent $472K so far, while the much less flush NRCC has matched them with $482K. Dems have also sent Joe Biden into the district to campaign for Critz. The election is a little over two weeks away (May 18), and undoubtedly it will be fought hard until the very end. But if Democrats’ streak winning special elections comes to an end, it may truly be a case of wrong place, wrong time.

SSP Daily Digest: 4/30 (Morning Edition)

  • NH-Everything: UNH is out with their latest Granite State poll, and the results aren’t particularly appetizing. Kelly Ayotte leads Paul Hodes by 47-31 in the Senate race, and even Bill Binnie and Ovide Lamontagne claim razor-thin leads, too. In the 1st CD, Carol Shea-Porter trails Frank Guinta by 42-38, Rich Ashooh by 39-36, and Sean Mahoney by 40-37. In the 2nd, ex-Rep. Charlie Bass leads Katrina Swett by 44-27, and is ahead of Ann McLane Kuster by 42-30.
  • FL-Sen: Perhaps sensing this race was just too boring, billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene is throwing his hat into the Democratic Senate primary against Kendrick Meek.
  • CA-Gov: Steve Poizner is going after Meg Whitman hard over her past tenure on the board of Goldman Sachs in a new ad. I like this primary!
  • CO-Gov: Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper reported raising $1.1 million in the first quarter, even though he didn’t enter the race until halfway through January. His opponent, Republican ex-Rep. Scott McInnis, raised only $550K. (D)
  • OH-15: Republican retread Steve Stivers thinks he’s hit upon a new winning issue: He wants to repeal the 17th Amendment. That’s, uh, the one which requires senators to be directly elected by the people, rather than appointed by state legislatures. Weirdly, he claims it’s a “states rights” issue, which I guess makes sense, if by “states” you mean a bunch of elected elites. Maybe we can have an appointed president, too? What a freak. (D)
  • OH-18: Bad blood already brewing? ’08 Republican nominee and ex-state Agriculture Director Fred Dailey, who’s facing against state Sen. Bob Gibbs (and a dozen other teabaggers) in the primary to settle the rights to take on Zack Space, is crying foul over the state GOP’s favoritism of Gibbs. Dailey claims that someone from the state party contacted his campaign website operator to ask that his site be “taken down”, and that the party is steering prospective staffers to other races.
  • WV-01: State Sen. Mike Oliverio, waging a primary challenge against Dem Rep. Allan Mollohan, won’t commit to voting for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House if he wins. Dick Morris (yeah, whu?) wanted him to commit to voting against her, so I guess this is a hopeful sign…? Meanwhile, the Republican primary is just as lively, with two candidates heavily investing in their own campaigns. (D)
  • NY-14: Oh Please, Reshma

    In an article on Michael J. Fox’s support for Rep. Carolyn Maloney (a founder of the Congressional Parkinson’s Caucus), Daily News writer Celese Katz accurately described challenger Reshma Saujani’s fundraising like so:

    Maloney already has the backing of President Obama and much of the Democratic establishment in her bid to keep representing the 14th CD, while Saujani is relying on Wall Street cash – and her status as a political newcomer – to woo voters.

    Katz then posted an update:

    Update: Team Saujani begs to differ on the Wall Street issue: “Reshma is not relying on Wall Street cash – she’s relying on the more than 1,200 donors from all walks of life who have contributed to her grassroots campaign. Unlike the incumbent, Reshma has not accepted – and will not accept – any PAC donations or corporate special interest contributions to fund her campaign,” said spokesman James Allen.

    This whine, however, is utterly misleading. I combed through Saujani’s April FEC report and marked every donation that came from someone who works in finance. Out of the $401K Saujani raised in Q1, $148K came from hedge fund analysts, investment bankers, and, oh, the occasional chairman of your major Wall Street institution, like Morgan Stanley’s John Mack. (I also included JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon’s wife, Judy.) You can double-check my work here. Note that I played it conservatively, so if I couldn’t locate a company on Google, I didn’t mark that person. And for all I know, some of the “self-employed” people are retired asset managers sitting at home trading their multi-million dollar personal accounts.

    Anyhow, I guess you could say that Saujani would still have raised $250K without Wall Street cash. And I suppose it’s a campaign’s job to quibble with words like “relying on.” But the fact is that over a third of Saujani’s last fundraising haul came from people who work in finance. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! If anything, I’d think Saujani – whose campaign seems centered around the notion that Dems are too mean to Wall Street – should embrace her donors.

    IN-Sen, IN-03: Coats Leads, Souder Vulnerable

    SurveyUSA for the Mike Downs Center For Indiana Politics (4/22-26, likely voters):

    Dan Coats (R): 36

    John Hostettler (R): 24

    Marlin Stutzman (R): 18

    Don Bates (R): 6

    Richard Behney (R): 4

    Undecided: 13

    (MoE: ±5%)

    A conservative split between Hostettler and a surprisingly potent Stutzman seems to be giving Coats a path to victory, even with an underwhelming level of primary support. In the general, though, Coats starts the race off as the GOP’s strongest choice:

    Brad Ellsworth (D): 31

    Dan Coats (R): 47

    Undecided: 22

    Brad Ellsworth (D): 32

    John Hostettler (R): 45

    Undecided: 23

    Brad Ellsworth (D): 35

    Marlin Stutzman (R): 41

    Undecided: 25

    (MoE: ±2.8%)

    The DSCC managed to produce a clean hit on Coats on what seemed like a daily basis immediately after his entry into this race, and I hope they have a few chestnuts ready to go after the primary is done.

    Meanwhile, SUSA also took a look at the IN-03 GOP primary, and the results are not pretty for incumbent Mark Souder:

    Mark Souder (R-inc): 35

    Bob Thomas (R): 29

    Phil Troyer (R): 19

    Greg Dickman (R): 2

    Undecided: 16

    (MoE: ±5%)

    Souder, one of the lesser lights of a state delegation dominated by Republican deadwood, has been somewhat notorious over the past two cycles for dramatically under-performing his district’s Republican tilt. It looks like a primary loss is a live possibility at this point, with self-funding auto dealer Bob Thomas nipping on Souder’s corn-encrusted heels. Mark this one down on your calendars as another fun primary to watch.

    The full polling memo for the Senate race is available below the fold.

    FL-Sen: Crist Will Run as an Independent

    It’s Independence Day for Charlie Crist:

    Gov. Charlie Crist just announced to a hometown crowd that he will run for the U.S. Senate as an independent.

    “My decision to run for the United States as a candidate without party affiliation in may way says more about our nation and our state than it does about me” Crist said to crowd at Straub Park, not far from his condominium, his mother, father, wife and sisters at his side.

    Crist’s careful wording seemed to leave open that he would remain a Republican in party but run as an independent. “I know this is uncharted territory … and I am aware after this ends I don’t have either party helping me. … But I’m counting on you. I think we need a new tone in Washington. I know we’re doing the right thing.”

    Over at the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza has a list of pertinent questions that will need to be answered soon. Most (or at least, many) of Crist’s staffers are expected to resign en masse, and it remains completely unclear from what source Crist plans to hire his staffers and consultants. Surely, any Republican firm will want to steer clear of Crist like he’s a toxic waste spill, but perhaps some Democrats could be convinced to join his team. (And, in doing so, would they themselves become pariahs in the eyes of the DSCC, who hope to see Kendrick Meek squeak out a win?)

    It’s also totally unclear how Crist plans to fund his campaign. Sure, the man has $7.5M in the bank — a very good head start — but he should probably expect to have to refund a big chunk of that coin. John Cornyn and the NRSC are already on record as saying that they’ll demand their donations back. Crist probably won’t see his donations from his usual sources dry up completely, but it’s been clear ever since we saw the first quarter fundraising reports that the GOP money muscle is firmly behind Rubio after Crist got off to a furious start last year.

    Needless to say, this is shaping up to be one of the most remarkable races of the cycle.

    UPDATE: Crist’s polling firm, Public Opinion Strategies, has announced that they will be severing ties with his campaign.

    UPDATE: With Crist setting up a volatile three-way race, SSP is changing our rating of this race from “Likely Republican” to “Tossup”.

    SSP Daily Digest: 4/29 (Afternoon Edition)

    CA-Sen: Huckabee hearts Chuck DeVore. The once and perhaps future presidential contender endorsed the conservative Assemblyman, who’s buried deep in third place in the GOP Senate primary but still flying the right-wing flag with pride.

    UT-Sen: Bob Bennett finally reeled in the endorsement that’ll help him salvage his career at the state convention… Karl Rove! OK, I’m being a little facetious, but Utah is dark-red enough that Rove might actually still be more asset than liability here.

    WA-Sen: The DSCC sent opposition researchers to Washington to comb-over Dino Rossi’s business dealings in a Dan Coats-style pre-emptive attack, and already unearthed an interesting nugget: $20,000 in back taxes on an investment property owned by an investment group in which Rossi is a partner. Also, I’d speculated last week that minor candidate (and Rossi friend) Chris Widener‘s dropout may foreshadow a Rossi entry. Not so, Widener is now saying: he has no insight into Rossi’s plans, and his departure had nothing to do with Rossi one way or the other. Widener felt that Don Benton and Paul Akers were coalescing as front-runners in a non-Rossi field, leaving Widener not much of a shot even with Rossi out.

    CT-04: Things got whittled down in the GOP field in the 4th, to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Jim Himes. Former state Sen. Rob Russo, a former aide to and ally of ex-Rep. Chris Shays, dropped out and threw his support to his former colleague, the somewhat more conservative state Sen. Dan Debicella. Russo seemed squeezed by the late entry of moneybags Thomas Herrmann.

    GA-08: The 8th was one of the GOP’s biggest recruiting failures in a year that saw them round up a remarkably full dance card; it’s an R+10 district where Democratic Rep. Jim Marshall has never won by a crushing margin, but they were left with only an assortment of non-self-funding businessmen and local cranks. That may change, though, as reports suggest state Rep. Austin Scott, who’s had little luck breaking out of the low single-digits in the GOP gubernatorial primary field, may be willing to try his hand in the 8th instead. (Scott had also been urged to get into the Lt. Governor primary against Casey Cagle.) It still seems an uphill fight for Scott (especially getting in the fundraising game so late), but definitely an upgrade for the GOP; Scott will have to finalize his decision soon, as Friday is the filing deadline.

    KS-03: One more Republican decided to get into the field in the open seat race in the 3rd, where there’s a gaping hole where presumed front-runner state Sen. Nick Jordan used to be (after his surprising dropout). Lawyer and ice rink owner Jean Ann Uvodich launched her candidacy today.

    MI-01: Connie Saltonstall, who got NARAL and NOW endorsements in the primary in the 1st back when Bart Stupak was still planning to run, is saying if she doesn’t win the primary she won’t back a general election candidate who isn’t pro-choice. That seems to limit her choices: of the three state legislators who piled into the Dem field after Stupak’s retirement, only one (Matt Gillard) is pro-choice; Gary McDowell and Joel Sheltrown are pro-life. EMILY’s List is still pondering whether to get behind Saltonstall, polling the race to see if she’s a viable candidate.

    NJ-03: Rep. John Adler has turned out to have a more conservative voting record (characterized by his anti-HCR vote) than pretty much anyone expected, given his track record in the state legislature. Adler’s standing among the Democratic base will get put the test with a primary challenge, it turns out: Barry Bendar, the chair of the local Democratic committee in Lacey Township (in Ocean County), will run against Adler. Bendar says he’ll still support Adler in the general in the very likely event he doesn’t win the primary.

    Michigan: At the Michigan Liberal blog, they’re taking a look at the prospects in the state Senate and House in November… and they’re using a variation on Swing State Project’s own House Vulnerability Index as the metric for making predictions. Democrats look likely to lose a few seats in the House (where they have a decent-sized majority) but the Senate (where they’re a few flips away from the majority) looks like it could be anyone’s game at this point.