SSP Daily Digest: 4/13


HI-Sen: Sen. Dan Inouye says in a new interview that he “will not take sides in the primary,” and Politico ads that his “top aides insist” he won’t be lending quiet, behind-the-scenes support to any candidates either. I hope that’s true, since I was concerned Ed Case might have mended things with Inouye to the point that the latter might get behind the former. But without some special help, I think Case will have a hard time. Also, SMS Research took the most useless poll imaginable, pitting Case against former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann in a primary… and absolutely no one else. Whatevs.

ME-Sen: Olympia Snowe said she raised over $877K in Q1 and has over $2 million on hand.

OH-Sen: Sherrod Brown said he raised $1.3 million in Q1 and has $2.5 million on hand.

VA-Sen: George Allen said he raised $1.5 million in Q1 and has $1.25 million on hand.


KY-Gov: TX Gov. Rick Perry, current chair of the RGA, says his organization won’t decide how heavily it’ll get involved in Kentucky’s gubernatorial race until after the May 17th primary. He also declined to endorse frontrunner (and establishment choice) David Williams, saying he’s “got a really good feeling about all the men and women who are running.”


CO-04: Republican Rep. Corey Gardner apparently raised over $300K in Q1.

CT-04: Dem Rep. Jim Himes estimates he took in over $300K in Q1.

IN-06, IN-05: Luke Messer, a former official with the state GOP who nearly beat Rep. Dan Burton in a primary last year, now finds himself living just outside Burton’s 5th CD, according to new maps proposed by Republicans in charge of the state lege. Messer is now in the 6th, which is likely to be vacated by Mike Pence, who everyone thinks will run for governor. Messer says he’s buddies with Pence and will consider running to replace him if Pence makes the leap for the statehouse, but he wouldn’t rule out a rematch against Burton (though he says he wouldn’t move in order to do so).

MN-08: This is pretty wild: Former Rep. Rick Nolan (D) says he’s thinking about staging a comeback. It’s wild because Nolan left office in 1981 and is now 68 years old. It’s also rather strange because Nolan represented what was then the 6th CD, which is accurately represented in the map Joe Bodell presents. (His reader update is incorrect.) At the time, Nolan’s district covered the southwestern and central portions of the state; today’s 8th is in the northeastern corner (though they share one county in common, Mille Lacs). And to cap it all off, Nolan was touting himself at a Dem meeting in Bemidji, which is in the 7th CD. Actually, no – the real capper is that Nolan was a practitioner of the ’60s & ’70s fad of “Transcendental Meditation” (whose practitioners claimed they could levitate) and earned a mention in Time Magazine for it.

MO-03: Not going gently… or padding the warchest for a different race, or perhaps something else down the line? Russ Carnahan raised $333K in Q1, his best first quarter ever, and has $286K on hand. Dave Catanese notes that Lacy Clay raised just $17K (though he has $222K in the bank). Would Carnahan really go up against Clay in a primary? What do you think?

MS-02: Greenville Mayor Heather McTeer Hudson said she plans to challenge veteran Rep. Bennie Thompson in the Democratic primary next year. She also announced she’s hiring pollster Celinda Lake. Hudson had previously said she wouldn’t seek re-election to her current post. Thompson, meanwhile, ended last year with $1.7 million on hand and has warded off primary challengers before (most recently in 2006, in the form of Chuck Espy, son of former Rep. Mike Espy).

SD-AL: Though it seems all but certain that ex-Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin won’t seek a rematch this cycle (among other things, she just accepted a teaching position at South Dakota State University, where she once worked), she did say she’s open to the possibility of seeking office again at some point in the future. She didn’t specify what post, so you can mentally flag this item as something other than just SD-AL if you like. Speaking of SD-AL, Rep. Kristi Noem (the woman who beat Sandlin) announced she took in $396K in Q1.

Other Races:

LA-AG: Former Rep. Joe Cao says he plans to challenge Dem-cum-Republican AG Buddy Caldwell this fall. Cao specifically cited Caldwell’s party switch (which only happened in February) and questioned his Republican bona fides – sort of an unusual move in a state where party switching has been very common. We’ll see if he Cao actually has the chops to make a race of it. (Side note: A proud moment in SSP in-the-weeds history: Live-blogging the LA-AG runoff in 2007, when control of the state House was also at stake.)

MS-AG: A rare bright spot for Mississippi Dems: Attorney General Jim Hood leads Republican Steve Simpson by 49-32 margin in PPP’s latest poll.

Special Elections: From Johnny L-T:

Two of the three elections last night were landslides; in South Carolina’s SD-16, Republican Greg Gregory trounced Democrat Keith Brann and Libertarian Stan Smith by a 77-18-5 margin, while in Minnesota’s SD-66, DFLer Mary Jo McGuire beat Republican Greg Copeland 80-20. In Connecticut’s HD-128, Democrat Dan Fox won with 39%, while Republican Charles Pia (not Antonacci, my mistake) came in second with 24%. Independents John Mallozzi and Monique Thomas both made strong showings, pulling in 23% and 13%, respectively, and Green Rolf Maurer brought up the rear with about 1%. Note that Mallozzi failed to win the Democratic nomination, so he petitioned his way onto the ballot.


Pay-to-Play: MaryNYC, the First Lady of the Swing State Project (aka my wife), has an interesting backgrounder on the SEC’s new regulations which attempt to curtail Wall Street from engaging in “pay-to-play” with elected officials. What’s interesting about the rules is that they make it very difficult for employees of financial firms to donate to state and local officeholders who have a stake in municipal investment decisions, but generally speaking doesn’t affect donations to federal officeholders. So, in a hypothetical example, New Mexico state Auditor Hector Balderas, who is weighing a run for Senate, might find Wall Street’s doors shut, while Rep. Martin Heinrich, who is already in the race, would face no such problems.

Redistricting Roundup:

• Indiana: We’ll have a lengthier redistricting-only digest later today, but I wanted to bring you this information ASAP. A source involved in Indiana politics informs me that these are the Obama percentages for each CD in the new map proposed by Republicans in the state lege:

IN-01: 63.2

IN-02: 49.4

IN-03: 42.9

IN-04: 44.4

IN-05: 46.5

IN-06: 43.5

IN-07: 66.3

IN-08: 48.0

IN-09: 46.1

SSP Daily Digest: 4/5


AZ-Sen: Rep. Jeff Flake (R) will apparently announce a haul of more than $1 million in Q1.

OH-Sen: A spokesman for Treasurer Josh Mandel says he’ll file paperwork with the FEC “very shortly,” but it’s not clear from the writeup whether this means an exploratory committee (what I’m guessing) or if it’s the real thing. Also of note: Rep. Pat Tiberi (R), whose name first came up as a possible candidate less than a week ago, quashed any notion that he might run against Sherrod Brown last Friday.

VA-Sen: If you want to believe CNN’s sources, Tim Kaine will announce a Senate bid in the next two weeks.

WA-Sen, WA-10: Sue Rahr, the conservative King County Sheriff who inherited the job from now-Rep. Dave Reichert, said through a spokesman that she has no intention of running against Sen. Maria Cantwell – a rumor that seems to have gotten shot down before we’d ever heard of it here at SSP. However, a political consultant of Rahr’s thinks the sheriff (who supposedly has crossover appeal) could run in Washington’s new 10th CD, if a district emerges out of Reichert’s 8th centered in the area north of I-90.


ME-Gov: Will Paul LePage be the next Rick Scott? Like Florida’s governor, Republican members of LePage’s own legislature are starting to turn on him; eight state senators penned an op-ed declaring : “‘Government by disrespect’ should have no place in Augusta, and when it happens, we should all reject it.”

MO-Gov: I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better for Republican LG Peter Kinder. Trying to push back against revelations that he spend taxpayer money to spend two months a year in St. Louis luxury hotels to attend baseball games, society balls, and teabagger conclaves since 2006, Kinder claimed that his office had been reviewed by two different state auditors, both of them Democrats: Susan Montee and Claire McCaskill (yes, her). The problem? Montee’s audit faulted Kinder for “numerous mathematical errors and inconsistencies” regarding employee pay, and McCaskill’s found that Kinder used a state-owned care for personal use. I’m sensing a theme here.

WA-Gov: Could Christine Gregoire’s claim to be undecided about seeking a third term really just be a way to ward off lame-duck syndrome? That’s Jim Brunner’s guess. The Seattle Times reporter points out that campaign finance filings show the Democrat had just $44K on hand at the end of February. At the comparable reporting deadline during the prior election cycle, she had $1.2 million in the bank. Meanwhile, other likely candidates are flush: Republican AG Rob McKenna has raised $800K and has $400K on hand, while Rep. Jay Inslee (D) had $1.2 million in his congressional account at the end of last year. The piece also notes that another possible Dem candidate, state Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, has recently discussed a potential run for Lt. Gov. instead. (She’d have to primary Brad Owen, who has been in office since 1997, or push him into retirement.)


FL-22: Whoa, I was definitely wrong to dismiss “no not that” Patrick Murphy as a Some Dude. One article described him as a 28-year-old accountant, but he’s got family money – and, evidently, good connections. Murphy says he raised a majorly impressive $350K in less than a month, and only $30K of that is his own money. Even fundraising machine Ron Klein raised “only” $153K in the comparable quarter in 2005 (before he was first elected).

NM-01: Terry Brunner, a former state director for the retiring Jeff Bingaman, had previously said he was thinking about running for his old boss’s seat, but now says he’s considering a run for the 1st CD instead.

NV-01: Jon Ralston thinks former 3rd CD Rep. Dina Titus will run for Shelley Berkley’s seat if the latter runs for Senate, but this is definitely a case of Schrödinger’s Seat.

OR-01: Former state Rep. Greg Macpherson is the first big-name Dem to say he’s considering a primary challenge to embattled Rep. David Wu. He wants to wait until the district lines become clear, saying he’ll only run if he lives in the district. (He doesn’t live there now, but I suppose he could move even if redistricting doesn’t help him, so I’m not sure how big an obstacle that is.) He also says he’s considering a primary challenge to state AG John Kroger, the man who beat him in the Dem primary for that office in 2008.

WI-07: Feeling the heat, Rep. Sean Duffy offered a half-assed non-apology, saying his “words were admittedly poorly chosen” when he whinged about getting paid only $174,000 a year as a member of Congress.

Other Races:

Wisconsin Sup. Ct.: Surprise, surprise: “Citizens for a Strong America,” the potemkin right-wing group responsible for several attack ads in the race (including one even PolitiFact rated “pants on fire”) turns out to be just a clone/offshoot of Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers’ arch-evil front group.

Special Elections: After a few weeks without any state lege races, Johnny Longtorso is back:

While everyone will be focused on the Wisconsin Supreme Court election (which is a phrase I never thought I’d type), there is one special occurring on Tuesday in South Carolina’s HD-64, though it’s in a safe Democratic seat. Democrat Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Manning, will face off against Republican Walter Sanders.

Also, a quick shout-out to Republican Mike “Pete” Huval, the newest member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from HD-46. He defeated another Republican (no Democrat ran) on Saturday for the seat vacated by now-State Sen. Fred Mills.


Maps: The National Journal has an interesting set of maps which focus on a theme that DCCyclone has been hitting in comments: Namely, because of population growth among minorities, the share of the white vote that Obama needs in 2012 is lower than it was in 2008, assuming minority support for Obama stays the same. In a very pessimistic scenario where his minority support falls 10%, Obama would only lose three states he otherwise won in 2008 (FL, IN & NC), assuming he keeps the same share of the white vote. (But note that that latter assumption is unnecessary: Even under the reduced minority support scenario, Obama’s white support could also drop considerably in many states and he’d still win.)

Votes: A new study (full paper here) says that Dems who votes “yes” on healthcare reform saw their reelection margins reduced from 6 to 8 points. Something about this study seems incomplete to me, though, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. I’ll be really curious to read your thoughts in comments.

VRA: This is interesting: Black lawmakers in Georgia have filed a lawsuit challenging to dissolve the charters of five very white cities in DeKalb and Fulton Counties. The plaintiffs argue that these cities, all formed between 2005 and 2008, were created to dilute minority voting power, and hence violate the VRA. Apparently, this is a novel application of the Voting Rights Act, so we’ll see how it unfolds.

Passings: Very sad news: Former Rep. John Adler, a longtime state Senator who served one term in NJ-03 before losing last year, passed away at the age of 51. Last month, Adler contracted an infection which led to heart disease from which he never recovered. His father also died young of heart disease, something Adler would mention on the campaign trail when describing his family’s struggles after his father’s death. As a state legislator, one of his signature accomplishments was a smoke-free air bill which banned smoking in many public places. He leaves behind a wife and four children.

In other news, former TN Gov. Ned McWherter also passed away yesterday. McWherter, who was 80, served two terms as governor in the late 80s and early 90s. One of the things McWherter is probably best known for is the creation TennCare, the state’s expanded Medicaid program. His son Mike ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor last year.

Redistricting Roundup:

Arkansas: Rob Moritz of the Arkansas News Bureau has a good rundown of what’s going on with Democrats’ controversial redistricting plan, dubbed the “Fayetteville Finger.” The plan has passed in the House but has stalled in the Senate, where a vote won’t come until Thursday at the earliest. At the end of the piece, Moritz details several different alternate proposals pending in the Senate.

Louisiana: A piece from Sunday’s Times-Picayune said that votes were possible on Monday in the House and Senate on congressional maps, but I’ve not yet seen any subsequent coverage.

Michigan: Aaron Blake’s redistricting series takes him to Michigan, where he has a good explanation of just how difficult it will be for the GOP to shore up its current situation.

Missouri: Check out this Google Maps version of the state House’s proposed new federal district lines.

New Jersey: Republicans started bitching and moaning about the state’s new map even before it was officially chosen, but so far, they haven’t said whether they’d challenge the map in court. Not really sure what grounds they’d have even if they wanted to give it a go.

Nevada: The LVRJ has a piece on the debate in Nevada over whether to create a majority-Hispanic district, or whether to keep Hispanic voters spread out to keep all districts more Dem or more competitive. Most Republicans obviously like the former idea, while Dems (including some Latino lawmakers) are understandably skeptical. Also, it looks like abgin must have trekked all the way from Basque Country to make a presentation at a public hearing in Vegas last weekend: The LVRJ says that “[s]everal interest groups presented proposed maps, including one that likely wouldn’t pass legal or political muster because it would create four new vertical congressional districts stretching from North to South.”

Texas: Ah, redistricting cat fud – it has a stench all its own. GOP Rep. Lamar Smith is apparently taking the non-insane view that Hispanic growth and the VRA require that two (well, at least two) of Texas’s four new districts be majority-minority, and he’s been working with Dem Rep. Henry Cuellar to create a compromise map. This has infuriated fellow Republican Rep. Joe Barton (aka Smokey Joe), who insists that at least three if not all four of the new seats be Republican-favored. And folks, the cat fud is real. Sayeth Politico:

Barton has harshly criticized Smith during Texas GOP delegation meetings, launching a profanity-laced tirade at Smith during one session early last month, and he’s privately tried to oust Smith as the lead Republican negotiator on redistricting.

Politico’s sources say that Smith is still favored among members of his own party, but that Gov. Rick Perry may be leaning toward Barton. Perry’s alleged plan is to skip DoJ pre-clearance and go directly to federal court, perhaps hoping for a friendly conservative panel (backstopped by an unquestionably conservative Supreme Court), so that could turn Barton’s dream into a reality… but I still think it’s a serious stretch. The piece also reports that proposed maps have been circulated among Republicans, but of course, no one’s sharing any copies.

SSP Daily Digest: 2/28

AZ-Sen: Maybe, just maybe, this will be the last time we’ll hear ridiculous speculation about, Joe Arpaio, the thug sheriff of Maricopa County, running for higher office. The 78-year-old Arpaio said he won’t seek Arizona’s open senate seat, following his announcement a few weeks ago that he won’t seek re-election as sheriff, either. I’m wondering if the two developments are not unrelated – Arpaio can silence the senate gossip because he no longer needs to use it to raise money for his next local race. Anyhow, I’ll be glad to be done with this guy. UPDATE: My mistake. I misread a line in the link and thought Arpaio was finally retiring, too – but only Kyl is, unfortunately. Still, Arpaio did say that he will not seek Kyl’s seat.

In other AZ news, what if you threw a teabagger convention and the Republican senate candidate didn’t come? Jeff Flake was a no-show at the Tea Party Patriots’ confab in Phoenix this past weekend, and the ‘baggers seem happy he stayed away. Unlike, say, Maine’s Olympia Snowe, Flake doesn’t appear to be interested in making nice with the nutters. I’m convinced that a more suitable (to the movement conservatives) candidate will emerge.

FL-Sen, FL-13: Not quite sure what to make of this – John Boehner was just down in Sarasota, FL, headlining a high-dollar fundraiser for a guy who hardly needs the money, super-rich car dealer Vern Buchanan. Is this Boehner trying to convince Buchanan to seek re-election to the House and avoid a throw-down with fellow Rep. Connie Mack? Or just the Speaker earning chits while playing a few rounds of golf during a Congressional recess?

HI-Sen: This piece on the Hawaii senate race is worth reading in full. The nominal hook here is Sen. Dan Inouye’s comments that, as Chair of the Appropriations Cmte. (and President Pro Tem of the senate), he won’t have as much time to raise money for his old buddy Dan Akaka, who is facing re-election next year. But there are a whole host of other questions implicated here: Is this just Inouye trying to kick Akaka’s ass into gear? (Akaka only has $66K on hand and faced a serious primary challenge from Rep. Ed Case in 2006.) Will Akaka (88 yo in 2012) actually even run again? Is former Gov. Linda Lingle going to run? If Akaka steps aside, who might take his place on the Dem side? Again, click the link to see the state of play.

ME-Sen, ME-Gov: Eliot Cutler, the independent candidate for governor last year who came in just a couple of points behind the winner (Republican Paul LePage), says he is “unlikely” to challenge Sen. Olympia Snowe, proclaiming he has “no desire to live in Washington.” He also says he isn’t ruling out another gubernatorial bid in 2014. Also, one possible Dem candidate, former AG Janet Mills, just joined a law firm, suggesting she probably isn’t interested in a senate race. (Mills became the first woman AG of Maine in 2009, but because the position is selected by the legislature, she was replaced by a Republican after the GOP swept into power last fall. NB: This is how you avoid Kelly Ayottes.)

MI-Sen, MI-15: Rob Steele, last seen losing to Rep. John Dingell by 17 points in 2010, says he’s considering a challenge to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (who lacks any real high-profile opposition at the moment). Steele also says he doesn’t think he’ll run again Dingell again, whose district might get re-drawn to still include heavily blue Ann Arbor.

MO-Sen, MO-02: I thought Rep. Todd Akin had definitively said “no” to a senate bid, but in response to some renewed chatter about a possible run, he would only say: “Some people want to draft me for Senate but you know engineers. It’s just one thing at a time.” You know engineers! Anyhow, if there’s a chance Akin might get in, this could help explain former state GOP chair Ann Wagner’s recent remarks that she might run for MO-02. (Wagner, of course, is also in the mix for the senate race.)

RI-Sen: State GOP chair Gio Cicione says he won’t take on Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, citing (like Cranston Mayor Matt Fung before him) the high cost of a race. These guys think a Rhode Island senate race would be expensive? They ought to check things out a state or two to the west. Anyhow, Dave Catanese caught up with former Providence mayor (and well-known felon) Buddy Cianci, whose name surfaced in PPP’s most recent poll of the race. Cianci hasn’t completely ruled out a run, but says it’s not “realistic.” Also of note, PPP has a report card out on Rhode Island politicians’ job approval ratings.

TX-Sen: Former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert, who resigned just a few days ago, made it official: He’s running for senate.

VA-Sen: The already-painful Tim Kaine watch – is it a pimple or a boil? – will soon be over: the DNC chair promises he’ll make a decision in a week, according to the AP’s Charles Babbington. (I predict “gummy bear.”) On the other side of the equation, ultra-far-right insano-Republican, state Delegate Bob Marshall, says he’s considering another run. Marshall almost stole the GOP nomination for VA-Sen in 2008 from the super-sad Jim Gilmore, but that near-upset took place at a Republican convention – this time, the party’s nominee will be selected in a primary.

MO-Gov: Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder says he’ll make an announcement “this spring,” and if it’s anything other than, “I’m running for governor,” I think people will be shocked. Anyhow, mark your calendars – this means Kinder might open his trap again any time between March 20th and June 21st!

NC-Gov: Since North Carolina is their home state, it looks like PPP will be testing NC-Gov just about every month. Incumbent Dem Bev Perdue trails almost-certain opponent Pat McCrory 49-37. (Last month it was 47-40.)

CA-36: 2010 and 2006 primary candidate Marcy Winograd announced she’s entering the special election for departing Rep. Jane Harman’s seat. The CW says Winograd is likeliest to hurt SoS Debra Bowen, but I’m not really sure she’s capable of making any material difference in this race.

CT-05: Former one-term state House Rep. Elizabeth Esty announced she’s running for Chris Murphy’s now-open house seat. Esty (not to be confused with the DIY craft-selling website) narrowly lost a rematch in 2010 after narrowly winning a traditionally Republican district in 2008.

NJ-06: Teabagger Anna Little, who won an upset primary victory in 2008 but lost to Rep. Frank Pallone by 11 points in the general election, says she’s back for a rematch. The woman Little beat for the GOP nomination last year, richie rich Diane Gooch, is also weighing another bid.

NM-01: Dem state Sen. Eric Griego says he’d “seriously consider” running for Rep. Martin Heinrich’s seat if Heinrich makes the jump to the open-seat senate race.

NY-26: Well, that explains that. In other news, Conservative Party chair Mike Long seems to be tipping his hand that his party will in fact support GOP nominee Jane Corwin.

MO-SoS: MO SoS Robin Carnahan says she’s running for re-election to her current post. Republican state Sen. Bill Stouffer, who lost a primary last year to Vicki Hartzler (who went on to beat Ike Skelton in the general), also says he’ll run for the post.

Census: Our friends across the pond in England and Wales will take their census this year. What makes this interesting is that for the first time, Britons will be able to submit their census forms online.

Special Elections: Johnny Longtorso has the goods on tomorrow night’s special elections:

After the excitement of last week, this week is a bit of a letdown. There are three seats up: Florida’s SD-33, formerly held by Frederica Wilson, is merely a formality, with the Democrat likely going to win 80-20 or so. There’s also a formerly Dem-held Senate seat in Mississippi, SD-12; despite no party ID being on the ballot, I’m pretty confident in guessing all three candidates running are Dems (it’s along the Mississippi River, so in heavily-Democratic territory). And in Maine, HD-11, an extremely Republican seat, is up. It would be helpful if Dems picked this one up, as the Republicans only have a slim majority in the House, but this was a seat that went 3-1 for the incumbent in 2010. There was apparently a split among Republicans, so there’s a Republican running a write-in campaign, but it would still be one hell of a long shot.

SSP Daily Digest: 2/22

CT-Sen: In almost a parody of Republican fat-cattery, not-very-likely GOP senate challenger Scott Frantz loves to race his million-dollar antique yacht down to Bermuda, while at the same time extolling the virtues of companies that patriotically avoid American taxes by moving their operations offshore to the very same island.

IN-Sen: Treasurer Richard Mourdock is officially kicking off his primary challenge to apostate Sen. Dick Lugar today, and he’s announcing that a majority of local Republican party leaders in the state are backing him. The thing is, while Lugar may well get teabagged, Mourdock really isn’t a teabagger. The establishment might be trying to get out in front of Lugar’s political demise by rallying around the most acceptable alternative, but while Mourdock’s no Charlie Crist, even conservative guys like him don’t often assuage the true movementarians. We’ll see.

MA-Sen/Gov: Fresh off his victory last fall, Deval Patrick is opening a federal PAC that, the Boston Globe says, “will pay for his expenses as he travels the country as a prominent spokesman for President Obama’s reelection campaign.” But Patrick insists that he’ll finish his second term, and then “return to the privates sector.” That was actually the Globe’s typo… man, I hope it was a typo. Meanwhile, Scott Brown insists he’s running for re-election, not president.

NV-Sen: Guy Cecil, the executive director of the DSCC, is heading to Nevada this week, reports Politico’s Molly Ball, to meet with three potential challengers to Sen. John Ensign: Secretary of State Ross Miller, Treasurer Kate Marshall, and Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. (The DS has already met with Rep. Shelley Berkley.)

RI-Sen: Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian says he’ll probably decide by June whether to seek the GOP nomination to challenge Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. Warwick is considered a “moderate” (whatever that means), and could face an impossible primary against a more conservative candidate. Recall that now-Gov. Lincoln Chafee came very close to losing a primary in 2006 against Steve Laffey while he was a sitting senator.

VA-Sen: Former Dem LG (and current ambassador to Switzerland – and Liechtenstein!) Don Beyer says he’s enjoying life abroad too much to contemplate returning home for a senate run. And hell yes he gave a shout out to Liechtenstein!

WI-Sen: Your state becomes ground zero for the future of organized labor in America, drawing attention from around the country and around the world, and the stakes are huge. What do you do if you are Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl? You basically disappear and issue the most anodyne statement possible, saying that you “hope these matters can be settled in a respectful and balanced way.” Eh, maybe we’re better off like this – it’s not like Kohl would be a big asset in this fight anyway.

IN-Gov: Mark Bennett of the Terre Haute Tribune Star has an interview with former House Speaker John Gregg, who reiterates he is giving the governor’s race “real serious consideration” (as we mentioned yesterday) but hasn’t offered any timetable about a decision. The piece is mostly interesting as a backgrounder on Gregg, who has been out of politics for almost a decade.

Meanwhile, Brad Ellsworth says he won’t be running for anything at all in 2012 (so that would include IN-Sen as well), but veteran state Sen. Vi Simpson says she is “thinking about” entering the race.

NY-10: City Hall News has a good, in-depth look at the situation in the 10th CD, where we noted recently that Rep. Ed Towns’ son Darryl, thought by some to be interested in his father’s seat, is instead taking a job in the Cuomo administration. This could be a resume-burnishing delaying tactic, but with the elder Towns teetering, several big names who aren’t heading off to Albany could make the race, including Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and NYC Council Members Charles Barron and Tish James. Jeffries is publicly saying he won’t make a decision until Towns does, while the more pugnacious Barron is convinced Jeffries won’t primary the incumbent – and says he’s “cut from the same cloth” as old Ed. If you’re a fan of juicy ethnic, racial, religious, machine, big-city politics, set against the backdrop of redistricting and the VRA, this race is one to watch.

PA-St. Sen.: How common is this? In the potentially bellwether-ish special election to replace deceased Dem state Sen. Michael O’Pake, Democrat Judy Schwank is going on the air with television ads. Her Republican opponent is reportedly set to follow. NWOTSOTB, but do state legislators commonly advertise on TV in your area?

WATN?: So Arlen Specter’s hung out a shingle. Unlike a lot of dudes in his position who become rainmakers in big DC lobbying firms, the almost quaint name of Specter’s new law firm is “Arlen Specter, Attorney-at-Law,” and he’s practicing in Philly. Meanwhile, Specter’s primary conqueror, Joe Sestak, sure is busy – he’s been going on a 67-county (that’s all of `em) “thank you” tour in the wake of his narrow defeat last year. While the pace is probably less punishing than on the campaign trail, this kind of perambulation is usually the sort of thing most politicians are relieved to give up after they lose – so obviously people are speculating that Sestak wants to get back in some day. Sestak himself says he wants “to stay in public service of some sort,” and won’t deny rumors that he’s interested in a 2014 gubernatorial run., but I just can’t see Sestak as gov material.

Polltopia: You know how in a WWF tag-team match, there are those moments when one dude taps out and his partner comes in, but for a few seconds, they’re both kinda in the ring at once, wailing on their hapless opponent at the same time? Just watch here as Stone Cold Mark Blumenthal puts Scott Rasmussen in a headlock and Nate “Superfly” Silva busts out the folding chair. When the bell sounds, we know pretty much what we did before: you can trust the outcomes of a Rasmussen poll and a pro-wrestling match just about equally.

Redistricting: NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo has releases his “Redistricting Reform Act of 2011,” which would create a non-partisan commission that would draw both state lege and congressional district lines. The members of the commission would still be political appointees, though, with the governor apparently holding the final card. Cuomo has threatened to veto any old-style gerrymanders, but it’s not clear to me that this bill has much of a chance, particularly since other reports say Cuomo is willing to trade this for a much bigger priority, like property tax reform.

Meanwhile, Politico has the unsurprising news that many members of Congress have recently started making generous donations to their home-state legislatures, in order to win a little love during the redistricting battles ahead. I do wish they would just post the full chart of their analysis, rather than pick out tidbits. We’d never do that to you!

Census: Bunch more states a’comin’ this week: Alabama, Colorado, Hawaii, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington will all see redistricting data by Feb. 25th.

Dave’s App: Version 2.1 has been released, with all sorts of new features. Dave is also adding new 2010 census data as he is able.

Special Elections: SSP’s own Johnny Longtorso, keeper of the special election flame, files this report:

We’ve got a whopping nine state legislative races in Connecticut on Tuesday. Eight of the nine are Democrats who resigned to join the Malloy administration, while the ninth (also a Dem) resigned due to a misdemeanor conviction. One race of note is HD-36, where CT-02 loser Janet Peckinpaugh is the Republican nominee. A couple of these races were close in 2010 (HD-99 and 101), so we may see some flips on Tuesday.

Also, in Missouri, there’s an open State Senate seat in Kansas City, which should be an easy Dem hold.

And last Saturday, Republican state Rep. Jonathan Perry defeated Democratic businessman Nathan Granger in a special election that decided control of the Louisiana state senate. The chamber had been split 19-19, but now the GOP has the edge. Of course, it would only have been a matter of time before the next Dem party-switcher changed the equation, but this was actually a close, hard-fought race.

CA-36: Rep. Jane Harman (D) to Resign

The first resignation of the 112th Congress:

California Rep. Jane Harman (D) will resign from Congress, according to two senior Democratic leadership aides, a surprise announcement that will set off a special election in her 36th district.

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, who broke the news of Harman’s resignation, has reported that the California Congresswoman will take over as director of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. That job is currently held by former Indiana Rep. Lee Hamilton (D).

This district went for Obama 64-34 and Kerry 59-40, almost identical to the numbers in CA-10, which saw a special election last year to replace the departing Ellen Tauscher. In that race at the other end of the state, Dems held on with a closer-than-desirable 10% (but for 2010, I’ll take it). In recent years, Harman had twice faced primary challenges from the left from liberal activist Marcy Winograd, but Winograd never came close – Harman’s unbelievable personal wealth (worth something like $200 million) and good connections kept her safe.

Harman also faced a pretty hefty scandal last year – she was accused of offering to help reduce espionage charges against politically-connected lobbyists in exchange for assistance in lobbying Nancy Pelosi for the top spot on the intelligence committee. Pelosi never did appoint Harman to the post, an incident cited as evidence of the frosty relationship between the two. I’m willing to speculate that that – being on the outs with House leadership – combined with being deep in the minority and not knowing what your district will look like in a year’s time, was the motivating factor in Harman’s departure.

L.A. City Councilwoman Janice Hahn (who lost the Lt. Gov. Dem primary to Gavin Newsom last year) has in the past told people she’s interested in running for Harman’s seat. Given that Hahn brought this up while Harman was still in office, I wonder if she had any reason to believe Harman would soon be leaving. Anyhow, I’m sure we’ll hear other names soon. Also note that this race will be held under California’s new “top-two” jungle-type primary rules (voted into place by ballot proposition last fall). This means that all candidates face off in a single primary, and the top two vote-getters move on to the second round.

UPDATE: While House vacancies in California usually unleash a torrent of state legislators looking to move up, thanks to the state’s term limits law, but that may not be the case here: the state Senate district that overlaps most of CA-36 is SD-28, currently vacant with the October death of Jenny Oropeza (whom you might remember from losing the CA-37 special election primary to Laura Richardson a few years ago). The two Assembly members in the district are both pretty new (Betsy Butler in AD-53, elected in 2010, and Bonnie Lowenthal in AD-54, elected in 2008), leaving the most prominent local legislator an ex-legislator: Ted Lieu, who just got termed out of AD-53 and is currently running in the special election in SD-28. SoS Debra Bowen also represented SD-28 until 2006, so conceivably she could make a run here, but she may be eyeing something else statewide as her next move. (On the Republican side, most likely we’ll see a candidacy from Tom McClintock.)

Jerry Brown must call the special election for within 112 to 126 days after the vacancy is declared.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Wow, here’s some evidence that Debra Bowen is heading toward this race, post haste: her campaign consultant is already saying that she is “very, very seriously considering running.”

One other interesting consideration we didn’t mention: Harman is a Blue Dog, one of the few from a suburban district and, of all the Blue Dogs, the one with the fourth bluest district (CA-36’s D+12 puts her slightly behind GA-13’s David Scott, CA-29’s Adam Schiff, and CA-43’s Joe Baca). Harman’s departure, on top of the onslaught suffered by Blue Dogs in red southern districts, means that the ranks of the Blue Dogs will be down to 25, down from 54 before the 2010 election.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: And we have our first announced candidate already: it’s Los Angeles city councilor Janice Hahn. Hahn’s been trying to move up for a long time now: she ran for the Lt. Gov. nomination in 2010 (losing to Gavin Newsom), but way back in 1998, when CA-36 was an open seat, she ran and lost against GOPer Steve Kuykendall. (Harman, first elected here in 1992, had vacated to run for Governor; she came back and won her old seat back from Kuykendall in 2000.) Kuykendall may be the GOP’s best bet here if he decides to run (he ran for AD-55 in 2004 and lost, so he may still be looking to get back in the game), but through a mix of boundary-moving in 2002 and bluening of the suburbs, this is a much safer Dem district than it was in 1998.

SSP Daily Digest: 3/10 (Morning Edition)

  • IL-Sen: In DC celebrating Greek Independence Day, Alexi Giannoulias also met with White House political advisors David Axelrod and Patrick Gaspard. No real word on what was discussed.
  • PA-Sen: Ouch – check out this blistering broadside directed at Joe Sestak from PA Democratic Chair T.J. Rooney. Rooney blasted Sestak in a sternly-worded letter for not paying his campaign workers the minimum wage and encouraged him to make a concerted effort to vote more often on the House floor. (JL)
  • TX-Sen: Will she resign or won’t she? The Politico catches up with GOP Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, still fresh from her massively underwhelming performance in the Texas gubernatorial primary, and reports that she “has nothing to say, and I won’t for a while” regarding her future plans. Senate Republicans, apparently, are taking her silence as a sign that a resignation is not actually in the cards, despite KBH’s repeated promises in the past year that she would definitely be leaving the Senate regardless of the primary result. (JL)
  • CO-Gov: Teasing teaser Tom “The Teaser” Jensen teases us with this tease:
  • Well we’ll have Colorado Governor numbers out [today] and here’s a little preview – John Hickenlooper’s net favorability is 36 points better than Bill Ritter’s net approval. As you can imagine that makes Hickenlooper just a little more competitive in the horse race.

  • AL-05: It’s the party switch which keeps on backfiring. Unlike a lot of other, uh, Republicans, Parker Griffith accepted a bunch of money from Charlie Rangel, which he was in a hurry to give back. The problem is that Rangel donated in 2008 – and Griffith recently told angry ex-supporters (to whom he had promised refunds) that he couldn’t return their money from the previous cycle since it had already been spent.
  • GA-07: Ralph Reed says he’ll announce his plans today, but according to Roll Call, GOP bigs think he’s going to pass on a run. Reed’s previous run for office did not go particularly well – he got crushed in the 2006 Republican primary for GA Lt. Gov., losing 56-44.
  • LA-03: Lawyer Jeff Landry joined the GOP field to replace Rep. Charlie Melancon yesterday, but CQ thinks that there are bigger names still in the offing: House Speaker Hunt Downer and Scott Angelle, “a Democrat who was named by Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal in late 2007 to serve as Louisiana’s secretary of the Department of Natural Resources.” Dems are also holding out hope for a more prominent candidate, such as state Rep. Fred Mills (who might decide after the legislative session ends on June 21) or former Rep. Chris John.
  • MI-01: Teacher and former Charlevoix County commissioner Connie Saltonstall plans to challenge Bart Stupak in the Democratic primary, specifically citing Stupak’s infamous anti-choice amendment and threats to vote against healthcare reform if he doesn’t get his way. Saltonstall lost a race against incumbent GOP state Rep. Kevin Elsenheimer in 2008, 61-37.
  • NM-01: NRCC Chair Pete Sessions will campaign in Albuquerque with fellow GOPer Jon Barela, who is hoping to unseat frosh Dem Martin Heinrich.
  • NY-13: Here’s a nice score for frosh Dem Rep. Mike McMahon. Richmond County Borough President James Molinaro, an elected Republican who came up with the Conservative Party, has endorsed McMahon for another term in the House. Molinaro endorsed McMahon in 2008, but that was against the detested specimen that was Bob Straniere, who seemed to turn off just about every member of the Republican and Conservative Staten Island hierarchy. (JL)
  • NY-29: David Paterson says that he’s going to call the special election “as soon as possible,” and that he doesn’t think the seat will be left vacant for the rest of the year.
  • House: Some chair shuffling as 69-year-old Rep. Norm Dicks, the second most-senior member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, takes over the reins in the wake of John Murtha’s passing, as expected. This mondo committee post potentially means tons more campaign donations will head Dicks’ way, giving him a chance to shower that wealth on others.
  • WATN?: Ex-Rep. Eric Massa is now under investigation “for allegations that he groped multiple male staffers working in his office.” Also yesterday, Glenn Beck apologized at the end of his Massa interview, saying: “America, I’m going to shoot straight to you. I think I’ve wasted your time.”
  • The Massachusetts Special Senate Election: Aftermath

    It’s been a bit since the Massachusetts election, in which unknown Republican Scott Brown emerged to upset the favored Democrat Martha Coakley in one of union’s deepest-blue states. Since then, Democrats have been recalibrating their strategy.

    In a previous post, I outlined the results of how a tied election might look like. Let’s take a look at the prediction:


    Now let’s see the actual results:


    More below.

    A clear pattern emerges: counties that the model forecast Ms. Coakley to win turned out more Democratic than expected, while counties that the model forecast Mr. Brown to win turned out more Republican than expected. The model, in predicting results, relied – incorrectly – on a uniform Republican shift from previous elections which Democrats won. The actual deviations indicate that Massachusetts shifted in a polarized manner: Democratic strongholds shifted Republican to a lesser extent than the state at large, independent areas shifted far more.

    Here is a table of the results:


    A number of outlets – especially us folks at swingstateproject – have gone even further, taking a look at the results by town. Here is the NYT:


    The red areas constitute suburban Massachusetts, home to many of the white working-class Catholics that supported for Senator Hillary Clinton. These areas usually almost always vote Democratic, but they do so based off economic appeals rather than any innate liberalism (much like how West Virginia used to vote).

    Republicans generally win Massachusetts by taking away suburban Massachusetts. Mr. Brown’s coalition replicated previous Republican victories:


    Interestingly, President Barack Obama did relatively poorly in these suburbs – his performance was the worst since President Bill Clinton’s first run in ’92. He still won them, of course (Massachusetts, lest people forget, is a Democratic stronghold), but by less than previous Democratic candidates. In fact, Mr. Obama underperformed throughout the Northeast, which is something few people know.

    The areas Ms. Coakley won generally constitute the “liberal Massachusetts” Republicans love to insult. They are college towns and generally well-off, liberal places.

    On the other hand, a number of  towns do not fit these stereotypes. Minorities in Boston, for instance, are responsible for it being a Democratic stronghold (unfortunately for Ms. Coakley, they did not turn out). Much of the rural west, which supported Ms. Coakley by a wide margin, is very white and not that wealthy.

    If there is any good news from this election for Massachusetts Democrats, it is that they now have this information. The data provided by Mr. Brown’s surprise victory should prove useful for redistricting, future campaigns, and even predicting the future of Massachusetts politics. Hopefully they will not be caught off guard a second time.


    Special Elections Tonight: MN & OR

    We have a couple of special elections tonight, which SSP community members have already created diaries for. In MN, MinnesotaMike is covering a state Senate special election, while Oregon has a couple of tax-related measures on the ballot, which tietack is on top of. Check those links out for full coverage.

    UPDATE: We’ve lost in Minnesota, where Mike says of the results: “Disapointing, but a 6.5 point loss is as close as a Dem has come to winning this seat in decades.”

    On the plus side, the ballot measures in Oregon look like they are winning by pretty decent margins, with 79% of the vote tallied:

    Measure 66

    Yes: 55.3%

    No: 44.7%

    Measure 67

    Yes: 54.6%

    No: 45.4%

    What do these measures do?

    Measures 66 & 67 raise the $10 corporate minimum for the first time since 1931, and increase the marginal tax rate on the richest Oregonians (those who make more than $250,000 a year).

    UPDATE: The Oregonian has called both measures – they both pass. More analysis here.

    Legislative Special Election and Runoff Election Roundup

    While it may feel like we wrapped up the election cycle on Tuesday, there are always more elections to come. This post covers the special and runoff legislative races coming up in the next month. There are three other important races, the Mass. Senate race and the Houston and Atlanta mayoral runoff races, that will be covered in a future post.

    Dems have a chance at picking up one seat in California, two in Tennessee and one in Kentucky, while they are defending another seat in Kentucky, one in Georgia and one in Iowa. There are also two interesting inter-party fights going on in the Georgia runoffs.

    This is cross posted on my new blog dedicated to following special elections and culling absentee ballot information from all states into one spot to increase turnout in local races. To read more about each race and learn more about the candidates, click here.

    I am sure I left out some races – I hope you will let everyone know about them in the comments and I will be sure to write about them shortly

    For the races, join me below the jump.

    November 17 – CA Assembly 72 – This doesn’t mean much around these here parts, but there is a primary in Orange County for the seat of Republican Mike Duvall, who resigned due to a sex scandal earlier this year.

    Three Republicans are vying for the chance to take on the Democratic candidate, John MacMurray, a teacher in La Habra, and the Green Party Candidate, Jane Rands. MacMurray’s website is here.

    The general election will be held on January 12.


    On November 24, Democrats are defending a seat in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (HD 33) Democrats chose Kirsten Running-Marquardt as their candidate. A former aide to Congressman David Loebsack, her background is detailed here.

    Republicans nominated Josh Thurston, an Iraq War veteran and Cargill employee


    December 1
    – Voters go back to work in Georgia for legislative runoffs and there are two special elections in Tennessee.

    In Georgia, four races are being voted on in different parts of the state. Thanks to TheUnknown285 for all his help on these races.

    SD 35

    This Atlanta-based Senate district was represented by Kasim Reed, who is locked in a runoff race for Mayor of Atlanta, also to be held on December 1. Outside of parts of Atlanta, the district also represents:

    College Park, Douglasville, East Point, Fairburn, Hapeville, Lithia Springs, Palmetto, and Union City

    The two remaining candidates are Donzella James and Torrey Johnson,  both Democrats. James, who took the most votes in the first vote on December 3 is attempting to return to the State Senate after serving from 1994-2002. Johnson is an ordained Lutheran minister seeking his first elected office.

    HD 58

    To see a map of the Georgia House Districts, click http://georgiainfo.galileo.usg…

    There is a runoff  in GA HD 58 between two Democrats. Asha Jackson faces Simone Bell in this Atlanta-based district.

    HD 129

    This district is comprised of most of Harris County and parts of Troup County and Muscogee County.

    A pair of Republicans, Kip Smith and Steve Earles are facing off in this election.

    HD 141

    This district is made up of all of Baldwin County and a small piece of Putnam County. The Democratic incumbent did not run for reelection and so independent candidate Rusty Kidd will square off against Democrat Darrell Black.


    In Tennessee, specifically East Memphis, voters will go to the polls to elect a new state senator to fill the seat of Republican Paul Stanley, SD 31, who resigned earlier this year. Many of the voters will also be picking in the primary for the 83rd House District in a  seat resigned by Republican Brian Kelsey, a candidate for Stanley’s seat.

    In the State Senate race, covering covers most of Bartlett, almost all of Cordova and Germantown, a few East Memphis precincts and parts of Hickory Hill, Democrat Adrienne Pakis-Gillon is hoping to keep the seat in her party’s hands. A Shelby County Democratic Party Executive Committee Member, her website can be found at

    The Republican candidate is former State Representative Brian Kelsey who was the Republican floor leader in the House for 2007-2008.

    For the House race primary vacated by Kelsey, the candidates are Republicans Mark White and John Pellioccitti, Democrats Guthrie Castle and Ivan Faulkner and Independent John Andreucetti.


    December 8 – There are two races in Kentucky and one in Arkansas.

    KY SD 14 and HD 96

    Two races will be voted on December 8th in Kentucky. The State Senate race, located in a district in central Kentucky and comprised of Marion, Mercer, Nelson, Taylor and Washington counties, resulted from Republican Senator Dan Kelly being named to a circuit court judgeship.

    The Republican nominee for SD-14 is State Representative Jimmy Higdon from Lebanon, KY.

    The Democratic candidate is former State Representative Jodie Haydon, who is looking to return to the legislature after retiring from the House in 2004.

    The House race is in north-east Kentucky, near the Ohio border, covering Lewis and Carter counties. Democratic Representative Robin Webb resigned the post after being elected to a State Senate seat.

    In the House race, Democrats nominated Barry Webb, while Republicans chose Jill York.


    AR SD 4

    There will be a special election held in District 4, which includes all of Yell County, the southern portion of Pope County and the eastern portion of Logan County. Republican Senator Sharon Trusty is resigning her seat.

    There are three candidates on the ballot. Former State Representative Michael Lamoureux is attempting to return to the State House as the Republican candidate.

    John Burnett is a Russellville Attorney and is running as a Democrat.

    Tachany C. Evans is the Independent candidate and a member of the Board of Directors for Help Network, Inc.


    That’s all for this time. Thanks for reading. I look forward to hearing about more races I should include and cover. To read more about each race and learn more about the candidates, click here.

    The Next Special Election Battle (And A Rundown of the Special Elections in Georgia on November 3)

    On November 3, while voters are going to the polls to decide governors races in New Jersey and Virginia, the fate of gay marriage in Maine, and special elections for congressional seats in California and New York, voters in Georgia will cast votes for municipal elections.  In addition, there will be special elections to fill seven vacant seats in the General Assembly: two state senate seats and five state house seats.  Here’s a rundown.  In summary, there is only one seat (HD-141) that stands a chance off changing parties, but the other ones bear some attention, too.  


    Democrat Robin Shipp resigned to eliminate a conflict of interest between her full-time job as an assistant prosecutor and her part-term job legislator.  Divided by the Fulton-DeKalb line, this appears to be the most compact district in Georgia, including the neighborhoods of East Atlanta, Cabbagetown, Reynoldstown, Edgewood,  Kirkwood, Ormewood, Boulevard Heights, Eastland Heights, Woodland Hills, Custer/McDonough/Guice, and Benteen.

    Four very strong Democrats have qualified.  Activist Simone Bell seeks to become the second openly gay member of the General Assembly ever and the first from a racial minority.  Her campaign emphasizes women’s and GLBT rights and issues and social justice, including healthcare, education, and safe schools.  She had the second best fundraising haul of the five candidates.

    Attorney Asha Jackson seems to be the frontrunner, judging from her fundraising prowess (more than her opponents combined).  I am a little concerned that her law firm defends tort cases (do they represent insurance companies and incompetent doctors?) and some lack of specifics but nothing I’ve seen has really worried me.  I’m wary, but not to the point where I’d reject her.

    Activist and businessman Kevin Johnson‘s claim to fame is his advocacy toward gaining more consumer protections from credit card companies, including influencing the recently-passed federal credit card reform legislation.  Johnson vows to continue this work if elected, along with working to protect the HOPE Scholarship, Peach Care, and arts education from budget cuts, affordable housing, and high-speed rail.

    Michael McPherson is a former General Assembly staffer and has worked on several community boards.  Like Asha Jackson, there are some lack of specifics that make me wary to some extent (e.g. “I am dedicated to supporting Georgia’s public schools. We need to find ways to inspire students to remain in school and stay competitive.”), although when he’s more specific, I do like what I see, such as his emphasis on lower carbon emissions, sustainable development, and a regional effort for transportation in the Metro Atlanta area.

    For what it’s worth, he’s also the only white Democrat running here.

    Josh Lewis IV, an executive with his family-owned surveying company, has also filed as an independent.  Interestingly, he filed as J. Lewis IV.  I can’t help but to wonder if that’s a ploy to fool people into thinking he’s Congressman John Lewis (or his offspring).  His father (judging by the name) was a Mark Taylor supporter, but I can’t find anything on the son.

    I expect a runoff, probably between Jackson and either Bell or Johnson (although with low confidence in that prediction) but I’ll say with almost complete certainty that a Democrat will win.  My preferences would be, from highest to lowest, Bell, Johnson, McPherson, Jackson.  


    Not far south, Democrat Celeste Johnson resigned her seat in North-Central Clayton County to move to Florida for personal and family reasons.  Two candidates have emerged for the special election: Democrat Ron Dodson and Republican Shawn James.  Dodson will no doubt win in a cakewalk (I’m expecting at least 60%), having the benefits of party affiliation (2000 census numbers put this district at almost majority black, with another 11% Hispanic added in, numbers that have likely increased since then), first ballot listing, and name recognition (he held this seat before retiring and held other elected positions before that).  

    However, Dodson sucks.  For starters, at the end of his tenure in the state house, he left the Democratic Party to become an independent.  And his tenure as state representative does not make me feel warm and fuzzy, such as his failing ratings from the Georgia League of Conservation voters and votes in favor of the gay marriage amendment (and against floor amendments by opponents of the bill).  And even in his most recent announcement, he says his big issue is tort reform.

    If I lived in the district I’d throw off and allow James to win.  He’ll just lose next year and we’ll get something better, hopefully.


    Left vacant when Republican Vance Smith resigned to take a seat on the state transportation board, we have no chance here: we didn’t field a candidate.  Even if we had, our guy/woman would have gotten slaughtered in this blood red, white, rural-exurban district that runs from NW Columbus north.  The Republicans fielded four candidates: former State Rep. Earl Davis (who’s seeking to make a comeback after losing over 35 years ago), publications consultant/talk show host Jerry Luquire, businessman and former member of the state licencing board of massage therapists Steve Earles, and Vance Smith’s son businessman Kip Smith.

    Pick your poison here.  Luquire rants about maintaining the “Biblical” definition of marriage and denying hate crimes protections for gays, along with calling for taxing lottery ticket sales and being anti-Atlanta.  Earles goes off about “socialist infringements” on his “conservative way of a life,” seemingly calls the entire Atlanta population “unproductive and welfare dependent” (unspoken racism, you think?) and literally says the best way for the state government to ensure better success at handling issues is to cut staff.  Smith goes off on a hardline “no taxes”/”small government” screed, along with ample repetitions of the word “conservative” (makes me think of Sarah Palin and “maverick.”).

    I guess that leaves us with Davis, who at least admits government has a use (“To provide those services citizens cannot do themselves – police, courts, parks, education, etc.”) and does accept using the power of the state to force localities to “do what they should have done.”  Plus, at 75, his time and ability (due to not being able to build a lot of seniority) to do damage is much more limited than Earles, who’s 56, or Smith (27).  Luquire is old too (70) but that’s a lot of batshit to take.  I expect a runoff here.  If money and insider support are any indication, Smith should get through.  Davis hasn’t raised money, instead taking out a $20k personal loan while Earles has had a respectable haul for a state representative seat.  Luquire hasn’t filed a report.  Earles has the benefit of being from the largest county in the district (although it isn’t dominant), but I’m thinking (and hoping) he and Luquire will split the wingnut votes.  With little certainty, I’ll say a runoff between Davis and Smith will happen, with Smith probably getting at least 60% of the runoff vote.


    Like Vance Smith, Democrat Bobby Parham resigned to take a seat on the state transportation board, leaving his seat open.  It consists of all of Baldwin County (Milledgeville) plus a tiny sliver of Putnam County.  That sliver is so minuscule (only about 2% of the electorate) that it is almost meaningless, short of a razor-thin margin in Baldwin (and if that happens, we’ve likely lost as Putnam is really Republican).  

    This is a swingy county, with a propensity for being close (55% or less) no matter how big the state margins are, no matter who.  Obama and Bush (both times) narrowly won it.  Max Cleland (2002) and Jim Martin (2008-general and runoff) narrowly won it.  Sonny Perdue won it in his narrow defeat of Roy Barnes, but, despite a huge win state wide in his re-election bid, narrowly lost it.  Zell Miller underperformed there in his 2000 Senate special election.  However, Democrats overperformed there in the 2004 Senate election and the 2006 Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of State open seat elections.  It’s about 42% or so black and is the site of Georgia College of State University.

    Four candidates emerged for the special election: Democrat Darrell Black, and independent Rusty Kidd, and Republicans Angela Gheesling-McCommon and Casey Tucker.  Tucker, a recent college grad, is your run-of-the-mill wingnut: a gun nut, a tenther, tax cuts solve everything, government is evil.  Gheesling-McCommon, the executive director of the local development authority, seems like an empty slate of sorts, with no real positions anywhere.  Kidd, a lobbyist, has a good position on stem cell research (I would imagine his being paralyzed from the chest down would give him perspective), but nothing else seems notable one way or another.  Black, a local businessman, has some good positions, calling for green jobs and banning insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

    If there is a runoff, which I expect, I would expect Black to get through due to his party affiliation (and lack of split) and being first on the ballot, along with either Kidd or Gheesling-McCommon; Tucker just seems too new to this to get farther.  Kidd seems more likely based on his huge fundraising but the lack of party affiliation and lower ballot slot may hurt him.  Hopefully, the Republican flank will be split enough to deny them anything in the runoff.  I’m not sure where Kidd’s support will come from, though.


    Republican Buddy Carter resigned his seat in the crimson, Northern suburbs of Savannah to run in the special election for SD-01.  Not long after that announcement, former State Rep. Ann Purcell announced her candidacy.  Purcell switched from Democrat to Republican after redistricting but still lost in the primary to Carter, who is now endorsing her!  Some Republicans have objected to the way things have gone down here along with the fact that Purcell used to be a Democrat and have run their own candidate, 25 year-oldJesse Tyler, who has made it known that he’s a “true conservative.”  

    Despite that disatisfication, Purcell will have the advantages of name recognition, money, elite support, experience and will probably be the choice of whatever Democrats and moderates that are in the district due to her being a former Democrat and ostensbily less conservative.  I expect at least 60% for her.


    Republican Eric Johnson resigned his seat to get around fundraising laws preventing him from raising money for his gubernatorial run during legislative sessions.  Two Republicans are in the race: the aforementioned former State Rep. Buddy Carter and former Chatham County Commission Chair Billy Hair.  This does not appear to be another case of Dodson vs. James or Purcell vs. Tyler.  This one looks like it will be competitive.  Still, Carter has a huge money advantage, so I’m expecting him to prevail.

    Hair is big on school vouchers and privitization, but he at least says we should fund mental health and trauma care.  Carter is a tort reformer and a no taxes hardliner.   I guess I’d say Hair is the lesser of two evils.


    Democrat Kasim Reed resigned his seat in South Fulton, South Atlanta, and parts of Eastern Douglas County to run for Mayor of Atlanta.  And the floodgates opened; nine candidates have emerged, all Democrats.  Kezmiche Atterbury, who mentions her work for various non-profits and government positions to increase minority enrollment in medical schools and streamline state children’s healthcare programs, promises to increase school funding (higher teacher pay, more teachers, etc), better funding Grady Hospital and its level 1 trauma care, and increasing mass transit (including expanding MARTA).  Other than mentioning his work on affordable housing and a goal of a clean environment, Benny Crane doesn’t give much information.

    Rosie Jackson talks about issues in a roundabout way, emphasizing her advocacy work on eliminating funding disparities between the white, Republican, well-to-do North Fulton and the black, Democratic, poorer areas in South Fulton and providing health clinics to these areas.  Former State Senator Donzella James emphasizes afterschool programs to help prevent crime, better pay and benefits for teachers, and universal healthcare coverage.

    Other than decrying cuts to education, Aaron Johnson really doesn’t say a whole lot, other than murky priorities.  Torrey Johnson believes healthcare is a right, promises to work to reduce teacher-student ratios, requiring more notification for impending layoffs, and a six month moratorium on foreclosures.  Attorney Cory Lynch doesn’t say much of any real use (other than increasing teacher pay and tax breaks for teachers).  Demarcus Peters deserves some attention for at least mentioning, among other things, the need to preserve greenspace and increase consumer protections.  Registered nurse George Sneed explicitly states that he would support the/a public option, creating state funding for MARTA, increasing teacher pay, and extending the grace period.

    Although counties like Douglas (re: bluing, inner/middle ring suburbs) have Democrats representing parts of their area, those Democrats are always from an inner county like Fulton, Clayton, or DeKalb.  I would like to see that change so we can build a bench in these bluing counties.  The only one that would qualify would be Peters.  However, I am not going to sacrifice issues for geography.  My preferences are Torrey Johnson, Sneed, James, Atterbury, Jackson, Crane, Lynch, and Aaron Johnson, in that order.  It’s hard to gauge a front runner with many candidates having not filed a campaign finance report yet (and those that have haven’t put up anything astonishing).