SSP Daily Digest: 1/20

CA-Sen: Does Meg Whitman seriously not have anything better to do with her money? Rumors are bubbling up that she’s actually considering a return to politics… which, if it’s going to be in 2012, would mean a run against Dianne Feinstein (which, of course, would mean a run against the state’s most popular politician in a presidential year, instead of an open seat run in a down year for Dems).

MT-Sen: Republican businessman (and one-time LG candidate) Steve Daines did some serious fundraising in the last few months since announcing his candidacy, hauling in $225K since his announcement, with the majority of that money coming from in-state. The main target he’s probably trying to scare with that money isn’t Jon Tester (who has about $500K CoH), but Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg, who’s usually the GOPer most associated with this race but has sounded noncommittal so far; I’m sure Daines would like to see Rehberg stay out of the Senate primary. Rehberg has $594K. One other Montana Senate item, although it hopefully won’t be an issue any time soon: the Montana legislature is considering whether, in the event of a Senate vacancy, to switch over from gubernatorial appointment to a fast special election instead.

OH-Sen: Quinnipiac has a poll today of the Ohio Senate race, but, like their Pennsylvania poll last month, the lack of an obvious Republican opponent means the matchup is just against Generic R. Sherrod Brown does pretty well against G.R., especially considering that actual named candidates tend not to do as well as generics at least at this stage in the game; Brown leads 45-33, and has an approval of 45/25. This is definitely a race where we shouldn’t start celebrating short of the end zone, though, considering that PPP recently found Brown in much more of a pickle, and even Qpac points out he’s far from the 50% mark and in “decent but not overwhelming” shape. The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s writeup of the poll spends a lot of ink talking up Rep. Steve LaTourette as a possible GOP candidate; while he’d bring some geographic strengths to the race that other GOPers might not, there hasn’t been any indication so far that he’s interested.

RI-Sen, RI-Gov: Sheldon Whitehouse looks like he’s dodged at least one credible candidate in 2012; John Robitaille, who came close in the 2010 gubernatorial race (although that was only because of the center-left vote split between Lincoln Chafee and Frank Caprio) and has expressed interest in running for something else, now seems focused on a retry in the 2014 gubernatorial race. Partly, he admits, that’s because running statewide as a Republican in Rhode Island in a presidential year would be a kamikaze mission.

WV-Gov: SoS Natalie Tennant has gotten endless mentions as a likely gubernatorial candidate, but with the clock ticking to the now-only-nine-months-away special election, she’s made her candidacy official as of yesterday.

FL-25: OK, here’s a trivia question for you all (which I genuinely don’t know the answer to)… which House freshman holds the record for the shortest partial term, before having to resign in shame? (I’m wondering if Eric Massa actually holds the record, but I’d bet there’s some historical example of someone accomplishing it in less than one year.) The reason I ask is that things seem to be moving into a new phase in the investigation into David Rivera, and whether piles of money paid from a dog track that he helped, to his mother’s marketing company, found their way into his pockets. The Miami-Dade County’s state’s attorney, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, just turned the case over to the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement. Although that sounds ominous, some observers are seeing the move as a downgrade, though, as the FDLE may not devote the same level of resources to it; Rundle has been viewed as a possible Dem challenger in this district, and may be punting the case to avoid it becoming a liability for her later.

MI-15: Rep. John Dingell (84 years old) says he’ll be back for an unprecedented 30th term in the House, running again in 2012. One important detail, though: whatever district he’s running in, it won’t be the 15th next time, as Michigan is about to lose a seat. Dingell has survived multiple bad redistrictings over the decades, including beating fellow Democratic Rep. Lynn Rivers in a 2002 primary mashup. (Thanks to Greg Giroux, we know now that Dingell will pass Robert Byrd in all-time legislative service in June of 2013.)

Mayors: Two mayoral races are in the news today, although both aren’t up for grabs until 2012. Two-term incumbent Buddy Dyer (who used to be the Democratic leader in the Florida state Senate) says he’s going to run for another term as mayor of Orlando. He also mentioned some vague gubernatorial aspirations. Also, Portland, Oregon will elect a new mayor in ’12; all the action will be in the Democratic primary, where it’s not certain that Sam Adams (damaged by a sex scandal several years ago) will run for a second term. One interesting possibility mentioned: former Senate candidate Steve Novick, who gained a lot of netroots attention during his ’08 Dem primary run, is seriously considering a run.

Votes: As you’re probably already aware, the Dems held the defections down to three on yesterday’s HCR repeal vote. It was the three likeliest suspects, given the combination of their dark-red districts and previous statements on the matter: OK-02’s Dan Boren, NC-07’s Mike McIntyre, and AR-04’s Mike Ross. UT-02’s Jim Matheson has the reddest district of any “no” vote, but he’s a member of leadership and may be sanguine about getting a better district out of redistricting next year (or just figuring that the worst is past).

Redistricting: Arizona legislative Republicans sort of succeeded with their quest to get three members of the state redistricting panel kicked off (on the grounds that they were serving in other political offices); however, it was a partial success because only two of the three challenged members got kicked off by the state supreme court and the one they were really targeting the most didn’t get kicked off. Also, if you’re in Virginia and you’re a college student, the state is having a redistricting contest. No word on whether you absolutely have to be part of a team or can do it individually, but the winners get a cash prize and get to present the design for new congressional and legislative maps to the Governor’s entirely-nonbinding advisory panel. (Actually, it looks like it’s too late to start a team if your college doesn’t already have one, but your college probably already has a team which you might be able to join. See here for the details.)

SSP Daily Digest: 3/10 (Afternoon Edition)

DE-Sen: Good news on the cat fud front, as according to the press release: “O’Donnell announcement adds Delaware to growing list of states hosting conservative insurgencies against liberal Republican incumbents.” Activist and occasional Fox News commentator Christine O’Donnell is making official today that she’s running in the Republican Senate primary against Rep. Mike Castle (although she’s been “unofficially” running for months), who, of course, is neither liberal nor incumbent. O’Donnell lost the 2006 Republican Senate primary and opposed Joe Biden in 2008, losing 65-35.

NV-Sen: Danny Tarkanian is charging Harry Reid with shenanigans, accusing him of putting Tea Party candidate Jon Ashjian up to running in the race. Tarkanian’s proof? “No one in the Tea Party knows who he is. He didn’t know the principles of the Tea Party.” He’s also accusing Reid’s camp of picking Ashjian in particular because, like Tarkanian, he’s Armenian, and that’ll split the Armenian vote.

OR-Sen (pdf):  A few people (perhaps those who’ve never heard of Rasmussen before) seemed caught off guard when Rasmussen found that Ron Wyden wasn’t breaking 50% against law professor Jim Huffman. Wyden just released an internal poll via Grove Insight showing him in better position against Huffman: 53-23 (with 5% for the Libertarian candidate). He also polls almost the same against the state’s top Republicans, who at any rate (with filing day having passed) won’t be running against him: state Sen. Jason Atkinson (53-22) and Rep. Greg Walden (52-24).

WA-Sen: The Hill has a little more… well, I’d hesitate to say detail, as that implies there’s some substance there… on the prospect of a Dino Rossi run for Senate, with various anonymous GOP sources saying that Rossi’s “thanks but no thanks” attitude has “changed in recent weeks,” and that if there’s a 1-10 scale of being likely to run for office, Rossi’s at a 3.

AL-Gov: Bradley Byrne, the Republican former state community colleges chancellor, got an endorsement from Jeb Bush, which may help shore up some more conservative votes in a primary that includes right-wing judge Roy Moore. Bush has been active on the endorsements front lately, giving his imprimatur to Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and to John McCain as well.

CA-Gov: This is kind of a strange media strategy: kicking out reporters for daring to do their jobs and ask questions of you at a scheduled appearance. It all seems to be part of the plan for Meg Whitman, though: silence from the candidate, and let the ads do the talking.

HI-Gov: Recently-resigned Rep. Neil Abercrombie has a real race on his hands to get out of the Democratic gubernatorial primary: his main rival, Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann, just got the endorsement of the state’s largest union, the ILWU (the Longshoremen). Abercrombie can still boast a new union endorsement of his own from the IBEW.

MA-Gov: There seems to be a lot of smoke coming out from under the hood of Christy Mihos’s campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, as seen not only in dwindling poll numbers but now the departure of campaign manager Joe Manzoli. Manzoli claims to be owed $40K in back pay but says that wasn’t the reason for his departure, while Mihos bounced a check from himself to his campaign fund in January.

ME-Gov: Here’s a jolt of life in the sleepy Maine governor’s race, one of the least-noticed and least clear-cut races in the country. Bill Clinton weighed in, offering an endorsement to state Senate president Libby Mitchell in the Democratic primary.

NY-Gov: One more snap poll on David Paterson’s perilous political predicament today. It seems like there’s been nothing but noise in these polls, with very wide-ranging responses on whether Paterson should resign or stay, but if you follow the trendlines from today’s Quinnipiac poll back to the previous one, it looks like his position is stabilizing. 50% say he should stay, and 39% say he should resign (compared with 46-42 last seek), although is approval is still awful at 21/61.

CT-04: One more Republican entrant in the crowded field to take on freshman Rep. Jim Himes in the 4th, with the entry of Easton First Selectman Tom Herrmann. First Selectman is analogous to mayor in Connecticut municipalities that are organized as towns, not cities, but in his spare time he’s a managing director at a private equity firm (so presumably he has some money to burn). The GOP field in the 4th is dominated by state Sen. Dan Debicella and former state Sen. Rob Russo.

GA-07: We won’t have Ralph Reed to kick around – this cycle, at least. As expected, he won’t run in the GOP primary to fill outgoing Rep. John Linder’s seat. (D)

NC-08: One other Republican campaign manager hit the trail, getting out of the seeming trainwreck that is the campaign of Tim d’Annunzio in the 8th. Apparently the leading candidate there by virtue of his self-funding ability, d’Annunzio made waves last month for wading into the comments section of the local newspaper – and now his former manager, Jack Hawke, seems to have had enough with d’Annunzio’s lack of message discipline, with d’Annunzio storming off the stage during a recent candidate forum and also with his postings to the end-times-focused “Christ’s War” blog.

VA-11: Here’s a warning flare from a race that’s not really on too many people’s radars: Rep. Gerry Connolly’s first re-election in the 11th. His rematch opponent, home inspection firm owner Keith Fimian, is boasting of an internal poll (from McLaughlin) showing him beating Connolly 40-35. Considering that Connolly already beat Fimian by 12 points in 2008, while Barack Obama was carrying the 11th by 15, that’s pushing the edges of credulity, but certainly indicates this race needs monitoring. (And of course, Fimian may not even survive his primary, where he matches up against Fairfax Co. Supervisor Pat Herrity.)

IL-Lt. Gov.: In an attempt to clear the smoke out of the back room, IL Dems have opened up their process for selecting a replacement lieutenant governor candidate. (You may recall that primary winner Scott Lee Cohen dropped out last month.) You can apply via email – and over 200 people have so far. (D)

Filings: There’s a little more on the Arkansas filings fail by the GOP: they left uncontested 8 of the 17 state Senate seats up for grabs, making it mathematically impossible for them to retake the Senate, and also left 44 of the 100 House seats and the Attorney General’s race uncontested. Filing deadlines passed yesterday in Pennsylvania and Oregon, without any major surprises. In Pennsylvania, there weren’t any last-minute entries in the Senate or Governor’s races; the big story may be the LG race, with 12 different candidates, including a last-minute entry by Republican state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe. The Republican field in the 6th seems to have vaporized at the last moment, leaving Rep. Jim Gerlach opposed only by teabagger Patrick Sellers; Manan Trivedi and Doug Pike are the only Dems there.

In Oregon, there was a brief hubbub that Steve Novick might run for Multnomah County Chair, just vacated by newly appointed state Treasurer Ted Wheeler, but alas, it wasn’t to be; he threw his support to County Commissioner Jeff Cogen for the job. Blue Oregon also looks at the state Senate and House landscapes; Republicans fared better here, leaving only 1 Senate race and 1 House race unfilled (Dems left 3 House races empty). Of the 16 Senate seats up this year, Dems are defending 12 of them, but a lot of them are dark-blue; the main one to watch is SD-26, an exurban/rural open seat being vacated by Rick Metsger (running in the Treasurer special election) where Dem state Rep. Brent Barton faces GOP Hood River Co. Commissioner Chuck Thomsen. (Dems control the Senate 18-12.)

Fundraising: While we at SSP are often rather blunt about Congressional Dems’ need to give to their campaign committees, at least they’re doing a better job of it than their GOP counterparts. Reid Wilson crunches the numbers and finds out that Dem House members have given $15.7 million to the DCCC while GOPers have given the NRCC only $4.7 million. The disparity is greater on the Senate side, where Senate Dems have given the DSCC $2.6 million but the NRSC has gotten only $450K.

Passages: We’re saddened to report the death of Doris “Granny D” Haddock, the 2004 candidate for Senate in New Hampshire. Haddock was 100; she was 94 when she challenged Judd Gregg in his most recent re-election. She’s probably best known for walking across the country to support campaign finance reform at the age of 89.

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SSP Daily Digest: 2/5

FL-Sen: Jeb Bush has studiously avoided explicitly taking sides in the Florida Senate primary, but various actions (like sending out his sons to endorse Marco Rubio) have tipped his hand. Another moment like that today, as he said on a radio interview that he’s “proud” of Rubio and the challenge he’s mounted. Meanwhile, Charlie Crist seems to be digging in rather than making plans to switch to an indie or Dem bid: he’s saying “he’s no RINO,” and perhaps more tellingly, now saying he opposes the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell,” a wedge issue he could be using to propel himself out of the GOP if he so chose. (h/t sapelcovits)

OH-Sen: Geez, this is just bad to worse for Jennifer Brunner. She’s been holding off on reporting her fundraising again, and here’s why: she raised $93,000 in the fourth quarter, and managed to burn through more than that, leaving her sitting on a whopping total of $60,000 in the bank (1% of what Rob Portman has). Clearly she thinks someone is going to bail her out at some point – I’m just wondering who she thinks it’ll be.

FL-Gov (pdf): Republican internal pollster McLaughlin & Assocs. finds a sizable lead for Republican AG Bill McCollum over Democratic state CFO Alex Sink: 41-30. That’s right in line with both Rasmussen and Quinnipiac’s most recent looks at the race, so this one seems to be moving away from Sink for the time being.

IL-Gov: With all the new allegations popping up about pawnbroker-turned-LG nominee Scott Lee Cohen – on top of yesterday’s news about his rap sheet, today’s news features his steroid use and resulting ‘roid rage and sexual violence — I’m starting to wonder where the other Lt. Governor candidates were in terms of doing opposition research. For that matter, where was the media? That’s the kind of thing that sells papers, if nothing else. At any rate, Cohen is saying he isn’t stepping down (having invested more than $2 million of his own money in winning the race purely on name rec), while Pat Quinn is reduced to saying that “the situation will resolve itself.” Ex-Sen. Adlai Stevenson is advising Quinn to take the same route he did in 1986 when he was saddled with a LaRouchie running mate, which is to abandon ship and make a third-party run. Of course, that didn’t work too well for Stevenson, who lost anyway, although he was running an uphill fight against popular Gov. Jim Thompson.

The one bright spot for the Dems in all this is that the GOP may be months away from having a candidate. State Sen. Kirk Dillard, who came up 406 votes short, isn’t conceding, and is saying let’s wait until all the absentee and provisional ballots (possibly up to 10,000 of them) are counted. Even if he wants a recount, that won’t be able to start until the race’s certification in early March.

MN-Gov: The Democratic field in the Minnesota governor’s race got a little smaller, as state Sen. Steve Kelley dropped out. He was probably motivated by his poor showing on Tuesday’s informal straw poll, where he finished with 4%, behind at least half a dozen other candidates and “uncommitted” as well.

OR-Gov: With ex-SoS Bill Bradbury getting a Howard Dean endorsement, ex-Gov. John Kitzhaber just rolled out an endorsement of his own from another netroots favorite: Steve Novick, who barely lost the 2008 Senate primary. Kitzhaber, of course, was one of the few establishment figures to line up behind Novick, so Novick is returning the favor. (You’ve gotta love the photo of the two of them at the link.)

AL-05: Looks like the Democrats are moving closer to a candidate to take on Parker Griffith (or whoever defeats him in the GOP primary). Taze Shepard, a Huntsville attorney and elected member of the state Board of Education in the 90s, is considering the race. He has quite the pedigree, too: he’s the grandson of John Sparkman, who represented the 5th from 1936-1946 and then was Alabama’s senator from 1947 to 1979 (and was the Democratic VP nominee in 1952). Also, Griffith may have a little more company in the GOP primary, and it’s an old foe: businessman Wayne Parker, who narrowly lost to the Democratic version of Griffith in the open seat race in 2008.

MA-10: There are increasing retirement rumors about Rep. William Delahunt, since, of course, the dominant narrative is that Democrats start to cry and run home as soon as usually-ignored Reps face a halfway-credible challenge. Also feeding the rumors, perhaps, are Delahunt’s fundraising numbers from last quarter: $31K (although he is sitting on $568K). What may be most interesting is that the rumors all come with a likely replacement attached: Joe Kennedy III.

WA-08: Ex-Microsoft executive Suzan Del Bene brings her own money to the race (and lots of it – she already has $773K on hand, compared with Rep. Dave Reichert’s $477K), but now she’s poised to tap into a nationwide donor base, with an endorsement from EMILY’s List.

Mayors: So primary season is here for real: the primary election in the New Orleans mayoral race is tomorrow. With a highly cluttered field and one clear frontrunner looming over the field (Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu), the real question here seems to be who manages to get into a runoff with Landrieu (who was polling at 45% in the most recent poll of the race). Other major opponents include John Georges, Rob Couhig, Nadine Ramsey, James Perry, and Troy Henry.

SSP Daily Digest: 10/7

DE-Sen: Here’s an ominous possibility: it’s been taken on faith that Beau Biden will still run for the Senate even with Mike Castle’s entry… but what if he doesn’t? The rumor mill is suddenly wondering if Biden has developed cold feet, especially keeping in mind that he’s only 40 and can pretty much waltz into the job in four years, rather running the risk of damaging his brand by losing an election in 2010.

FL-Sen: Former Miami mayor Maurice Ferre, who just re-appeared on the scene this week, has already moved quickly to get into the race, announcing his candidacy for the Democratic nod today. Ferre is 74, a bit old to be launching a Senate bid, but he should have a lot of appeal in the Hispanic communities (although it’s worth noting he’s not Cuban, but Puerto Rican). On the other side of the aisle, Republican underdog Marco Rubio seems on the precipice of a big score that will help him tap into a nationwide base of donors (although his recent fundraising numbers suggests he’s already gone nationwide): the Club for Growth is feeling sufficiently confident to get involved on his behalf.

NV-Sen: I’ve lost count of who’s in the lead, Mark Sanford or John Ensign, in terms of how many times he’s had to tell the press that he won’t resign. Anyway, it was Ensign’s turn again yesterday, as he faces a ramped-up Senate Ethics investigation.

VT-Sen: A primary challenge to Pat Leahy from the left? This seems unlikely to go anywhere, but Daniel Frielich, a military doctor from Wilmington, VT, will announce his candidacy today. His bid seems to focus mostly on health care (he’s a single-payer backer and not a fan of the Dems’ watered-down approach).

OR-Gov: Couple minor tidbits from the Beaver State: one, Steve Novick (who fared well in the 2008 Dem Senate primary) had been occasionally rumored to be interested in running for Governor, but makes his Shermanesque ‘no’ statement in a Blue Oregon piece detailing his road map for the next guv. Also, as Republicans cast about for a palatable candidate, the fickle finger is now pointing at state Sen. Frank Morse, who says he may get in. Morse has a moderate or at least pleasant reputation within the Senate, but has no statewide profile.

VA-Gov: Reading between the lines, it sounds like Creigh Deeds might be looking for excuses for his increasingly probable defeat in November. He blames some of his travails on the “spending” and “noise coming out of Washington D.C.”

FL-08: With Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty out, former state Sen. Daniel Webster is still a maybe (although his registering “” may tip his hand). Regardless of what Webster is doing, at least one other Republican is wading into the fray: wealthy businessman Jerry Pierce, who says he’ll run with or without GOP backing. (Pierce has given $15K to the Club for Growth over the last decade, so maybe he’s hoping they’ll return the favor.)

NH-02: Jennifer Horn, who lost to Rep. Paul Hodes in 2008, isn’t getting out of the way for ex-Rep. Charlie Bass’s possible comeback. Horn is expected to publicly announce her candidacy today.

VA-05: As had been expected, state Sen. Rob Hurt filed his paperwork yesterday to run against Rep. Tom Perriello in the 5th. Hurt is from near Danville at the district’s south end, setting up a battle of the regional bases with the Charlottesville-based Perriello.

Mayors: Here’s an ignominious end of the road for three-term Albuquerque mayor Martin Chavez (who, Bloomberg-style, overturned a term limits ordinance in order to run again): he got bounced from office in a primary. Somewhat surprisingly, Republican state Rep. Richard Berry cleared the 40% mark in the three-way primary, which means that he wins without the trouble of a general election. Berry got 44% to Chavez’s 35% and 21% for Democratic state Sen. Richard Romero. (UPDATE: This technically was a general election, not a primary, under local law; had no one broken 40%, the top-two November election would have been considered a runoff.)

NRCC: The NRCC announced which five of its Patriots (the vulnerable incumbents, akin to the Dems’ Frontline program) will get the first infusion of cash. The beneficiaries are Mary Bono Mack, Charlie Dent, Pat Tiberi, Lee Terry, and Tom Rooney, all of whom have drawn high-profile challengers.

OR-Gov: Dems Start in Solid Shape

Research 2000 for Daily Kos (6/22-24, likely voters, no trendlines):

John Kitzhaber (D): 46

Gordon Smith (R): 37

Undecided: 17

John Kitzhaber (D): 44

Greg Walden (R): 38

Undecided: 18

John Kitzhaber (D): 48

Jason Atkinson (R): 35

Undecided: 17

Peter DeFazio (D): 47

Gordon Smith (R): 37

Undecided: 16

Peter DeFazio (D): 45

Greg Walden (R): 37

Undecided: 18

Peter DeFazio (D): 48

Jason Atkinson (R): 34

Undecided: 18

Bill Bradbury (D): 42

Gordon Smith (R): 38

Undecided: 20

Bill Bradbury (D): 40

Greg Walden (R): 39

Undecided: 21

Bill Bradbury (D): 41

Jason Atkinson (R): 34

Undecided: 25

Steve Novick (D): 28

Gordon Smith (R): 41

Undecided: 31

Steve Novick (D): 28

Greg Walden (R): 43

Undecided: 29

Steve Novick (D): 29

Jason Atkinson (R): 34

Undecided: 37

(MoE: ±4%)

R2K, via Daily Kos, strikes with the first full poll of the Oregon governor’s race (there was a quickie a few weeks ago by a local Republican pollster, Moore Information, that only included head-to-heads involving Rep. Greg Walden) — and when we say full, we mean it: there are 12 different permutations. Here’s a scorecard for those who don’t know the players:

John Kitzhaber: Oregon’s Governor from 1994-2002, currently head of the Archimedes Foundation, which studies health care policy

Peter DeFazio: Representative from OR-04 since 1986

Bill Bradbury: Oregon’s Secretary of State from 1999-2008, who also lost the 2002 Senate race to Gordon Smith, 56-40

Steve Novick: a lawyer and activist who came out of nowhere to almost win the 2008 Democratic Senate nomination, losing 45-42 to Jeff Merkley

Gordon Smith: Oregon’s Senator from 1996-2008, now a well-paid advisor at a K St. lobbying firm

Greg Walden: Representative from OR-02 since 1998

Jason Atkinson: State Senator who finished 3rd in the 2006 GOP gubernatorial primary, so it’s “his turn;” while very conservative, he’s young (39), charismatic, and perhaps most endearing to many Oregonians, a huge bike enthusiast

Unsurprisingly, this poll shows both Kitzhaber and DeFazio running strongly against all comers. DeFazio seems to perform a tiny smidge better, and has lower unfavorables (Kitzhaber is at 46/26, while DeFazio is at 47/22), which I’d attribute to Kitzhaber being better known statewide and to his having pissed off a lot of Republicans during his first gubernatorial stint, wielding his veto pen mercilessly against the then-Republican-controlled legislature.

In a bit of a surprise, though, this poll finds Walden overperforming Gordon Smith in head-to-heads, and with much better approvals (Walden is at 36/25, while Gordo is in negative territory at 39/48). Again, that may have to do with Walden not being well-known outside eastern Oregon, and as result of Smith’s last campaign (which alternately saw him going hard negative and flinging his arms around Barack Obama) having left a bad taste in a lot of mouths on both sides of the aisle across the state. (Smith’s collapse is seen in his 4-point deficit against Bradbury, whom he beat by 16 in the GOP-friendly year of 2002.)

So who will the nominees actually be? Polls aren’t likely to tell us that, because unless something weird happens, we’re unlikely to see competitive primaries. The two titans, Kitzhaber and DeFazio, are both visibly interested, but, if they don’t work something out behind the scenes, seem likely to just wait each other out… conceivably meaning that they both wait too long and neither of them gets in. That would probably leave Bradbury (who’s already in, and apparently staying in) as the de facto nominee (unless Novick, who has said he won’t run against Kitzhaber, at that point gets in and defeats Bradbury using his almost-successful ’06 primary playbook, by being feistier and funnier than his boring opponent). (Novick’s problem seems to be lack of name recognition; his approvals are only 16/5, meaning 79% of the state needs to be reminded of his existence.)

Simiarly, the GOP nod is likely to be decided by totem pole/pecking order, with Gordo having first right of refusal (which he doesn’t seem likely to exercise, having settled in on K Street), then Walden (not seeming too likely either, as he’s a key player at the NRCC and seems interested in the leadership ladder), then Atkinson… and if Atkinson bails for some reason too, then the nomination would probably fall to Allen Alley, who’s committed to the race but would most likely lose the GOP primary handily to Atkinson. (Alley ran surprisingly well as the GOP candidate in the 2008 Treasurer race, where he was supposed to get flattened by Ben Westlund — but he’s from the once-proud moderate wing of the Oregon GOP and in fact was deputy CoS to Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski for a while, giving him a whiff of “non-starter” among the GOP rank-and-file for a higher-profile race than Treasurer.)

RaceTracker: OR-Gov

SSP Daily Digest: 4/30

PA-Sen: Apparently, Arlen Specter’s campaign has only received 15 requests for donation refunds so far in the wake of his switch to the Democratic Party. The returned funds only add up to a paltry $15K. (J)

The NRSC has launched a new robocall targeting Specter, by linking him to the NRSC’s arch-enemy… George W. Bush? (It replays Bush’s 2004 endorsement of then-GOPer Specter.) Apparently, the goal is to soften Specter up among the Dem electorate to lose a Democratic primary to a more reliable Dem, who would then be a little more vulnerable to Pat Toomey in the general… or something like that? This is one of those moments when you can’t tell if the GOP is crazy like a fox, or just crazy.

Specter bringing his decades of seniority with him over to the Democratic caucus is angering some key Democrats who get bumped down the totem pole as a result, according to The Hill. Specter could find himself wielding the gavel in an Appropriations subcommittee, or even back in charge of Judiciary if Patrick Leahy takes over Appropriations in 2010.

Specter’s switch has the whining flowing among some of the GOP’s sourest senators: Jim Bunning says the GOP “coddled” Specter for too long, while Jim Inhofe shows his grasp of GOP dead-ender logic, saying that Specter’s fleeing the party is a sign of conservatism’s strength and presages a comeback. In much the same way that if my house is on fire, that indicates that its value is about to go up, because it’s finally clearing out all that clutter.

FL-Sen: The DSCC is pulling out all the stops against Charlie Crist, and he hasn’t even taken any steps toward getting into the Senate race yet. They’ve launched a new TV spot (airing in the Tallahassee market) that attacks Crist for leaving Florida in financial disarray to jump to Washington, and attacks his heavy-on-socializing, light-on-work schedule.

CO-Sen: The GOP’s Weld County DA Ken Buck is trapped in the grey area between candidate and not-candidate for Senate; his website is up and running and has a “donate” button, but hasn’t filed his official paperwork and denied Monday’s reports that he was officially in.

RI-Gov: Lincoln Chafee seems to be having similar problems on just how official a candidate he is, too. His exploratory committee is open and he said he “is” running when appearing on Rachel Maddow on Tuesday, but then issued a release yesterday walking that back, to “my intentions are” to run for governor.

WI-Gov: The GOPers aren’t waiting any longer for Gov. Jim Doyle to publicly announce his re-elections; Milwaukee Co. Scott Walker launched his campaign yesterday. Walker (who briefly ran in the primary in 2006) doesn’t have the race to himself, though; last week, Mark Neumann, who represented WI-01 from 1994 to 1998 and then lost the 1998 senate race to Russ Feingold, announced his candidacy, touting his support from Tommy Thompson surrogate James Klauser.

AL-Gov: Not one but two more Republicans are sizing up the governor’s race, although neither one seems top-tier material: Hoover mayor (in the Birmingham suburbs) Tony Petelos, and Bill Johnson, the head of the Alabama Dept. of Economic and Community Affairs. (Johnson has a colorful backstory that wouldn’t help him much in the primary.)

OR-Gov: Local Republican pollster Moore Insight polled potential Dem candidates for governor on their favorables. Ex-gov. John Kitzhaber and Rep. Peter DeFazio posted pretty similar numbers: 49/21 for Kitz, 48/17 for the Faz. (Kitzhaber has higher negatives among Republicans, thanks to all those vetoes he handed out.) Former SoS Bill Bradbury is at 29/10, and Steve Novick, who barely lost the 2008 Senate primary, is at 14/4.

GA-01: Long-time Rep. Jack Kingston has often been the subject of speculation in the Georgia governor’s race, but he confirmed that he’ll be running for re-election to the House. Interestingly, he’s supporting state senator Eric Johnson in the race instead of fellow Rep. Nathan Deal, but that’s because Johnson is a fellow Savannah resident and his son’s godfather.

VA-10: The subject of much retirement-related speculation due to age and a rapidly bluening seat (now R+2), Rep. Frank Wolf confirmed he’ll be running for re-election in 2010. He may face state senator Mark Herring or delegate David Poisson.

OH-18: Rep. Zack Space has been added to the DCCC’s defense-oriented Frontline program. Space was the target of an NRCC TV spot earlier, but this isn’t so much a question of newfound vulnerability as it’s confirmation he’s done flirting with a Senate run and committing to his House seat for 2010.

CA-36: Suddenly embattled Rep. Jane Harman has hired Clinton-era fixer Lanny Davis to help her negotiate the legal and PR minefield she finds herself in, regarding the wiretap imbroglio. 2006 primary challenger Marcy Winograd is revving up her efforts, sensing Harman’s weakness. Winograd, who earned 38% in 2006, has begun raising funds for another try.

NY-20: Republican Jim Tedisco says that he is “not planning” on seeking a rematch against freshly-minted Democratic Rep. Scott Murphy, but refuses to explicitly rule out a run. (J)

WA-08: One more tea leaf that Suzan DelBene may be left holding the bag in WA-08: State Rep. Ross Hunter, one of the first Dems to crack the GOP stranglehold on the Eastside and a potentially strong contender in WA-08, is running for King County Executive. The already-crowded Exec race is in Nov. 2009, not 2010, but indicates Hunter’s interests lie locally, not in DC.

Votes: The 17 Democrats who voted against the Obama budget are all familiar dissenters, and most of them are in difficult Republican-leaning districts: Barrow, Boren, Bright, Childers, Foster, Griffith, Kratovil, Kucinich, Markey, Marshall, Matheson, McIntyre, Minnick, Mitchell, Nye, Taylor, and Teague.

OR-SEN: Election Pregame–Polling, Videos, Articles, Results Info!

Hey there folks, TJ from Loaded Orygun here–Oregon’s progressive community and a member of the 50-State Blog Network.

All eyes are obviously turned towards Oregon later tonight, but without any results until at least 11pm eastern–and no exits to pore over–some folks might get a little edgy from all the “Obama can’t hack the working class” nonsense on cable and need a distraction to get ready for the GOOD news.

The first thing to check out is the nuts and bolts election info provided by one of our members, skywaker9. Ballot dropoffs, other websites to visit, where to get results, how vote by mail works here–lots of great stuff.

We’ve been mostly covering the Senate race between Steve Novick and Jeff Merkley, and I’m sure what most folks would like to know is, who’s gonna win? And the answer is…no one knows for sure. But there have been four polls in the last 8 days on the race, and taken together they definitely give us some clues.

Want something a little peppier, visual and shorter to read through? What’s easier than videos? Check out the candidates responding to the most recent SUSA, Novick’s ad on Hardball last night, and what some pundits have called “the best 90 seconds of the primary.”  

Finally, a look at some of the many non-Oregon publications that have featured Novick or addressed the Senate race. Prominent among recent articles is the AP piece essentially pitting Novick against Chuck Schumer, but there’s also a top-notch bio piece by the Oregonian if you need to find out more about the man, a great interview in slashdot–plus links to all of the 12 state newspapers that endorsed Novick.

Enjoy your virtual visit to Oregon, and I hope your candidate wins!

OR-SEN: Novick $ Jumps–$139K April, $1mil total, $30K in Two Days

[crossposted in part at Loaded Orygun, Oregon’s progressive community…]

Not having a second home or Chuck Schumer to rely on, yesterday Steve Novick made one more personal appeal to supporters in the primary, giving the whip to Seabiscuit as it were: help me close strong.

It sure is working; the Novick campaign today announced a quadfecta of eye-raising numbers for the supposed underdog:

  • Over $1 million now raised for the cycle
  • Just under $139,000 in April, a monthly pace 21% higher than for the three months of Q1 (which itself was 57% higher than Q4 last year)
  • A whopping $30,000 raised just since MONDAY.
  • Over $500,000 raised so far via ActBlue

From the campaign:

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Steve Novick's campaign announced today that it raised $138,983.98 in April 2008, passing the $1 million mark to raise $1,028,435.94 the election cycle.

"Our fundraising continued to accelerate in April with the vast majority of our support coming from right here in the state of Oregon," said Jake Weigler, Novick campaign manager. "We've proven that a grassroots campaign can attract the other green stuff too."

Novick's contributions continued to come overwhelmingly from Oregon, with $107,819.68 (77.5 percent) coming from within the state. Overall, 963 contributors gave to the campaign in April, 817 from Oregon. Previously, in the first quarter of 2008, Novick outraised primary opponent Jeff Merkley by 42 percent in itemized contributions from Oregon ($187,722.92 to $131,734.16).  

Novick also continues to receive substantial online support from netroots donors. The campaign has raised over $30,000 online since Monday, bringing the total raised through the online Democratic clearinghouse ActBlue to over $500,000. Novick is currently the third highest U.S. Senate candidate in the nation on ActBlue, behind only Mark Warner of Virginia and Rick Noriega of Texas.

"When you look at how far Steve and the campaign have come, it is a rather remarkable journey," said Weigler. "He entered this race as an underdog placeholder. Today he's raised over $1 million and continues to lead in every public poll in the race.  People across Oregon are ready for a principled progressive who isn't afraid to tell the truth about what it will take to turn our country around."

[emph mine]

With fewer than two weeks until ballots are counted, money for advertising and GOTV is crucial. Also valuable as information, is the fundraising appeal power of the candidates with an eye towards the general election. Looks like there’s a late kick going on at the Novick camp.

OR-SEN: Novick Sweeps Portland Paper Endorsements

There are three Portland-based, general circulation newspapers: The Oregonian, The Willamette Week, and the Portland Mercury*. The number of times they've all endorsed the same candidate for a major office recently can probably be counted on one hand (or less!), but when it comes to the Democratic nomination for Senate, they're in perfect harmony: they want the guy with the hook.

We covered The O's big Sunday endorsement of Steve; let's add in the others. First, Willamette Week, whose nod may certainly have been less of a surprise than that from the House of Stickel, but which comes on the heels of a joint endorsement interview Novick's critics–and even some supporters–mark as his low moment of the campaign. The ed board may or may not have liked Novick's answers on the peripheral questions of the race, but they liked Merkley's issue positions even less, making note of three separate areas of "concern."

In the end, the editors appear happily surprised to have Novick exceed their expectations to become a legitimate, solid candidate with the potential for greatness:

Let’s be clear. Back in January 2007, Novick was little more than a placeholder. Novick has a rapier wit, a winning affinity for sports references and an impressive behind-the-scenes résumé working for worthy causes. But Oregonians were waiting for another, more credible Democratic challenger to Smith, a telegenic senator who’s raised boatloads of cash and worked to style himself in the moderate image of past Republican icons such as Mark Hatfield, Bob Packwood and Tom McCall. We all thought that other person would come along.

We were hotly divided between the fun, speak-his-mind insurgent who calls to mind the late Sen. Paul Wellstone and the impassive Merkley, who calls to mind the widely respected Sen. Al Gore—the wooden version, before he became as steaming as the planet.

In the end, we rallied around Novick because we see a capacity for a refreshing independence and an unwavering willingness to tackle our toughest issues, like providing universal health care and ending the war in Iraq. We recognize, too, he could be a spectacular failure, a quotable firebrand for the left who is both alienating and alienated. Our hope is he commits himself to becoming the Senate’s best workhorse before shooting for the ranks of Sunday talk-show showhorse. Novick, please play nice.

 {the Merc's endorsement, and even bigger swipe at Merkley, below}  

 Near the bottom of a long list of City endorsees, in today's issue The Merc gets to the statewide races and makes their call for Senate:

We've gone back and forth on this endorsement for weeks. Were we choosing the candidate who would make the best US Senator, or were we picking the one best suited to topple formidable Republican Gordon Smith—someone who'd put up a better fight, even if they weren't ultimately successful?  

Finally, we realized that attorney and political activist Steve Novick is the best choice on both counts. Not only will he give Smith the toughest challenge—just look at the momentum he's got against Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley, a solid political leader, and the guy plenty of Democrats assumed would be coronated as the nominee—but assuming he wins in November (and we're starting to believe he can), we're excited to see what he'd do in DC.

At first, we thought his campaign was heavy on schtick—relying on viral ads highlighting Novick's steel hook prosthetic left hand—and short on evidence that Novick would be an effective representative for Oregon. But as the campaign has heated up, we're pleased to see that Novick's record on things like taking on the Oregon Lottery Commission to fight for more school funding has translated well to federal policy issues—we have no doubt that Novick will be a strong advocate to end the war, create universal health care, and help the working class.

The brainy Novick's penchant for saying exactly what's on his mind has gotten him in trouble a few times, but it's apparent that he's learning to temper that impulse. That said, he'll continue to do things differently, in a way that makes you wonder why more politicians don't follow his lead. Meanwhile, his opponents like Candy Neville and Jeff Merkley are virtually on the same page when it comes to agendas and policy positions. Smith, however, would trounce Neville. While Merkley would likely be a solid senator, given his track record leading Democrats in Salem, we're just not that into him. Vote for Novick. [emph me]

Ouch. Leave it to the Merc to put out there as plainly as possible: Jeff Merkley just does not inspire many people, or make them believe that he has the potential for greatness. This is an election to get excited about making real change, and Merkley is coming up short. 

What's the practical value of these endorsements? Hard to say, although there is certainly some kind of benefit to having all three major papers backing the same guy (especially, as I said above, when they generally don't agree). Veteran OR politico Charlie Burr thinks he has an idea of their impact, however, and he states it in comments at BlueOregon:

The Mercury endorsements will matter more than usual this year for the same reason WWeek's will: 30,000 new voters registered by the Oregon Obama campaign. The Obama campaign may have registered them, but these new voters will still be looking for additional cues for other races on their ballots.


 You do have to figure that particularly with these latest two, the demographic skews towards younger voters. And with a lot more younger voters in the mix who cannot WAIT to vote in this primary, there's no question that seeing Novick's name downticket in the endorsement will help shade some of those folks–who may be so jazzed about the Pres race that they haven't been following some others–towards Steve. Nothing wrong with that!








*The Portland Tribune obviously exists as well, but for the purposes of endorsement the Pamplin ownership group makes a blanket call for all its papers in the area; and while there are other papers publishing in Portland, they are aimed at specific rather than general audiences.

OR-SEN: State’s Biggest Paper Endorses Novick

From  Sunday’s Oregonian, the state’s largest paper–serving about 1 in 10 Oregonians:

For Democratic Senate nominee: Steve Novick

Oregon Democrats have long coveted the seat of Sen. Gordon Smith, the only Republican currently holding statewide office. They consider him vulnerable because of the way he has supported the policies of an unpopular president while managing to rile many in his party. And in a year in which Democrats are expected to gain ground in Congress, they just may be right.

We think the candidate they should send to face Smith is, in some ways, the unlikeliest one of all: Steve Novick, an Ivy League lawyer who stands 4′-9″ and has a hook instead of a left hand.

This choice is unorthodox not just because of Novick’s remarkable personal characteristics and history, but because the Democratic Party establishment is supporting another solid candidate, Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley. Merkley launched his campaign after other prominent Oregon Democrats decided not to undertake the rigors and risks of a race against a well-heeled incumbent.


{ the closer, below}

Merkley has been everything Oregonians could want in a House speaker. Even his opponents harbor him little ill-will, crediting him with restoring a measure of civility to a divided chamber. But watching this campaign, Democrats may want to take a sharper course.

Novick is an unusual man with an unusual resume — characteristics that some suggest aren’t suited to the U.S. Senate. But we think his passion, his intellect and his personal style give him an intriguing combination of qualities that most senators don’t possess.

We think Novick represents a bold choice for Democrats who seek to dislodge a veteran incumbent. He has the potential to press Smith as he has done Merkley. And, should he pull off what would be a major electoral upset and go to Washington as the new junior senator from Oregon, he has the potential to make Oregonians proud.

Whatever you may think of The O’s board, the value of their endorsement, or their winning percentage, they certainly understand what Steve’s approach is and why it looks so appealing to a lot of people. “Passion, intellect and personal style” is a good way to wrap it up.

They also recognize the strange and magnificient electoral cycle we’re in, and the possibilities for a more sweeping change that brings us better Democrats, not more Democrats. More straight talk, less parsing. A return to greater equity between work and wealth, people and corporations. A decency towards all men and women, and a fierce revival of the keystones of our American goverment–privacy, freedom, peace through defensive strength and strong diplomacy, and economic justice.

For Democratic Senate nominee: Steve Novick

You bet your ass. One can never tell what the impact of a newspaper endorsement will be, and I think most would agree that their influence has steadily declined over the years.

However, The O is still the Pacific Northwest’s largest circulating paper according to Wikipedia, and stands as the established media’s preeminent presence in the state. Had the paper chosen Merkley I think most would have written it off as the expected move; that they were seemingly so impressed by Novick during his interview (and I did hear from witnesses that he absolutely crushed it) is rather more notable. It’s always more of a story when the nontraditional candidate gets the nod, and this endorsement is no different.

By my count, that gives Novick:

*The most coveted individual (fmr gov Kitzhaber)

*The most coveted organization (Oregon Education Association)

*The most coveted newspaper (Oregonian)

*The coolest endorsement to “the kids” (Michael Stipe of REM, Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam, and a number of others)

With just a week until ballots are delivered, and less than a month until they are counted, Novick appears to be gaining momentum for victory.