SSP Daily Digest: 4/21


IN-Sen: Chris “Count” Chocola, head of the Club for Growth and himself a Hoosier, says his organization may step in to help oust apostate Sen. Dick Lugar. The CFG has already talked to Treasurer Richard Mourdock, and if they get involved, they could make up for his lackluster fundraising so far.

MA-Sen: Remember when ThinkProgress busted Scott Brown for sucking up to David Koch for donations while he was publicly saying he wasn’t even thinking about 2012? His pitch worked, I guess: Koch Industries coughed up a $2,500 donation to Brown’s campaign last quarter.

In other MA-Sen news, why does Barney Frank keep doing this? On Monday, he repeated his remarks that he thinks Newton Mayor Setti Warren shouldn’t run for Senate, this time to local blog Newton TAB. I honestly think this is a bit embarrassing for Frank, and makes him look like a jackass. It’s an admission that his private suggestions to Warren haven’t been well-received, and that he’s had to take to the press to accomplish what he apparently doesn’t have the power to do on his own. It’s ugly, and what’s more, I don’t even see the percentage in it. Why does Frank care so much whether Warren runs? Really, just enough.

MN-Sen: Former state Sen. and unsuccessful 2010 SoS candidate Dan Severson says he might seek the Republican nod to challenge Amy Klobuchar, who so far has drawn no opponents. Severson says he’ll decide by May. Also, attorney Chris Barden, another unsuccessful statewide candidate last year (he ran for AG), says he may attempt a Senate race, too.

MO-Sen: It’s getting’ mighty crowded in here… well, maybe. Wealthy businessman John Brunner (who can at least partially self-fund) says he might join the GOP field to take on Sen. Claire McCaskill. Reps. Todd Akin and Blaine Leutekemeyer are also still weighing bids, while former Treasurer Sarah Steelman and teabagger fave Ed Martin are already in the race.

TX-Sen: This is just weird. Ashwin Madia (who you may remember as the Dem candidate in MN-03 back in 2008) is also chair of the progressive veterans group VoteVets. His organization put out a statement the other day in which he said it was “encouraging” to see Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez considering the Texas Senate race as a Dem. It’s strange, as Adam Serwer points out, because Sanchez had a very suspect record on torture during his tenure as US commander in Iraq, while VoteVets has been very critical of torture. Another spokesman for the group hurried to say that VoteVets was not issuing a formal statement of endorsement, just an attaboy for a fellow servicemember.

VA-Sen: Teabagger Jamie Radtke raised just $55K in Q1 and has only $47K on hand. I’m betting that if George Allen does wind up dealing with a serious speed bump on his way to the GOP nomination, it’s going to take the form of Del. Bob Marshall, not Radtke. Still a big if.

VT-Sen, VT-AL: Sen. Bernie Sanders raised $770K in Q1 (not bad for the 49th-largest state in the nation) and has over a million in the bank. The Burlington Free Press pegs an uptick in donations to Sanders after his now-famous eight-hour speech on the Senate floor in which he blasted tax cuts for the wealthy. Meanwhile, Rep. Peter Welch now has a million on hand.


NJ-Gov, NJ-Sen: Chris Christie’s starting to smell like a plate of scungilli left out in the sun after a July picnic. His job approval has dropped to 47-46, according to Quinnipiac, from 52-40 just a couple of months ago. Sen. Bob Menendez isn’t doing so hot either, 42-40, but those sorts of numbers are nothing new for him (and are actually better than what he was getting last year). In news of more immediate importance, Dems improved to 47-39 on the generic legislative ballot, up from 43-41. (Thanks to andgarden for spotting that question, tucked away at the very end of the poll.) Also fun: Q asked respondents for an unprompted, open-ended one-word description of Christie. The number one response, by far? “Bully,” with 140 mentions.


AL-05: This is just odd. Freshman Republican Mo Brooks cancelled a town hall and replaced it with one-on-one meetings with constituents-by appointment only. What makes this extra-weird is that these meetings are scheduled to take place across the state line in… Tennessee. Reminds me of this infamous incident from the classic MS-01 special back in 2008.

IA-04: Some great number-crunching from G-squared: The new 4th CD went for Terry Branstad 59-37 in 2010, 50-48 for GOP gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle in 2006, and 49-48 for Tom Vilsack in 2002. I’ll go one further and tell you that Vilsack lost the new 4th in 1998, 47-52. Greg also says that Rep. Steve King currently represents 47% of new CD.

IL-03: Politico has a profile of John Atkinson, the Democratic businessman who may challenge Rep. Dan Lipinski from the left. Atkinson, who has already raised a boatload, hasn’t formally declared yet (and may be waiting on redistricting), but a main theme for him is Lipinski’s vote against healthcare reform.

NY-13: Ex-Rep. Mike McMahon, recently speaking to the Bay Ridge Democratic Club, definitely sounds like he’s leaning toward a comeback. The linked piece from the Brooklyn Eagle contains McMahon’s ruminations on why he lost last year, but I’m not sure I understand what he thinks the reasons are. On the one hand, he says “[t]here was a drop-off in progressive voters.” On the other hand, he cited a memo from Third Way (ugh, but what do you expect) which polled Obama “switchers” and “dropouts.” The memo claims that “[s]witchers were eager to vote in this election, whereas droppers didn’t come out for a multitude of reasons, none of them being they were upset with Democrats.”

What this misses out on, of course, is that Democratic organizations who were pissed with McMahon’s vote against healthcare reform were less inclined to bust their asses for him and drag apathetic voters to the polls on his behalf-something members and officials of the Bay Ridge club made plain to him. (The article says some attendees used “harsher language,” so since this is Brooklyn we’re talking about, enjoy a moment or two imagining what this sounded like.) I’m not sure what McMahon thinks the solution is for next year, if he runs again, but it doesn’t sound like he’s ready to take back his anti-HCR vote. I think he’d be wise to do so.

RI-01: Former Republican state Rep. John Loughlin, who lost by six points to now-Rep. David Cicilline last year, says he’s considering a rematch, but first he’s serving another tour of duty in Iraq. I wonder if Cicilline’s self-inflicted wounds regarding the financial woes of Providence (the city of which he used to be mayor) will make him vulnerable-if not next year (which of course is a presidential year), then at some point in the near future… or in a primary.

Other Races:

WI Recall: Republicans say they will file recall petitions against three Democrats today: Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin, and Robert Wirch. Meanwhile, Greg Sargent says that Dems will file petitions against a fifth Republican, Alberta Darling, also today.

WI Sup. Ct.: Yesterday, JoAnne Kloppenburg asked for a recount, which will come at state expense since the final margin of 7,316 votes was less than 0.5%. I’m pretty surprised at the decision, since overturning that kind of result seems almost inconceivable.

Grab Bag:

Alaska (PDF): Dave Dittman, a pollster and former aide to the late Sen. Ted Stevens, tested Alaskans’ feelings about local pols last month. Sen. Mark Begich, up for re-election in 2014, has a 57-33 job approval rating, while Sen. Lisa Murkowski is at 71-27 and Rep. Don Young is at 63-32. Joe Miller, who says he might run against Young next year or against Begich next cycle, has a hilariously awful favorability rating of 18-73. (FWIW, Sarah Palin is at 36-61.) Note that the poll had oddly long field dates: March 3 through March 17.

Demographics: Aaron Blake has another good piece looking at the changing demographics of majority-black districts.

House Majority PAC: The new Dem “super PAC” is out with its first-ever media buy (which they claim is “substantial”-you better be telling the truth), hitting ten GOP freshmen who voted for Paul Ryan’s budget plan with radio ad. You can listen to a sample spot against Sean Duffy here. Click the first link for the other nine names.

DCCC: Speaking of ad buys, props to Dave Catanese for busting what turned out to be a comically bullshit media “blitz” by the DCCC. I groused about this one yesterday, complaining that the size of the buy was sure to be “quite small,” but I had no idea that it would be this comically small: The total purchase was just $6,000 across twenty-five districts, with just $40 (yes, $40!) spent against Larry Buchson in IN-08. Of course, it was the NRCC which provided this info to Catanese, which I’m not sure is such a smart move, since they play this stupid game, too. But my bigger concern is whether local reporters who wrote about these ads will be insulted by the joke dollar values and ignore the D-Trip in the future. I sure as hell would.

Redistricting Roundup:

Colorado: After instantly descending into a whole bunch of acrimony (mostly, it seemed to me, from the GOP side) after the first batch of maps were produced, both parties agreed to go back to the drawing board and start with a clean slate. Republicans sound a lot more excited about the prospect than Dems, but we’ll see if this actually produces any kind of agreement… or if a stalemate eventually leads to court-drawn maps.

Pennsylvania: No surprise here: The Republican majority on the PA Supreme Court picked a Republican superior court judge to serve as a tiebreaker on the panel which will re-draw Pennsylvania’s state legislative maps. This is a direct consequence of a shameful loss of an open Dem-held seat on the court in 2009.

Texas: A new plan for the Texas state House passed a House committee yesterday. The map increases the number of Latino districts from 28 to 30, but Democrats seem convinced that there are serious VRA issues with it.

SSP Daily Digest: 12/6

AK-Sen: This shouldn’t come as a surprise and I highly doubt that Joe Miller would listen to anything Mark Begich would say even if it weren’t a surprise, but Begich is now encouraging Miller to drop his pointless challenge to Lisa Murkowski so Murkowski can get sworn in on schedule and the pork can continue to flow to the Last Frontier. Meanwhile, Miller is now actually saying that he would have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for those meddling Inuits. In a Washington Times column, Miller blames the Native Alaskan corporations for backing Murkowski (via the Alaskans Standing Together PAC), and even (gasp! call the Fox voter fraud hotline!) putting boots on the ground to teach people how to spell “Murkowski” and bus people to the polls!!1!

FL-Sen: If you were wondering if there was still a flicker of possibility that Jeb Bush was going to run against Bill Nelson, that’s pretty much extinguished: Bush himself acknowledged that over the weekend, admitting there’s a major problem given his support for immigration reform (and opposition to Arizona’s new law) that puts him at odds with the ascendant teabaggery. Mike Haridopolos is also letting everyone know that he wouldn’t be running if Bush were going to run, but that he’s gotten Bush’s green light. (The latter article also includes a few additional GOP names that we haven’t seen yet in connection with this race, like sophomore Rep. Tom Rooney and Adam Hasner, the former state House majority leader.)

IN-Sen: State Sen. Mike Delph is waving his arms around madly trying to get the tea partiers’ attention for a possible primary against GOP apostate Richard Lugar, with a widely-circulated post to his own blog saying that he’s “increasingly concerned” with Lugar’s actions, especially support for the DREAM Act. The real question is whether state Treasurer Richard Mourdock gets in; Lugar’s best shot at getting through, like Dan Coats in the 2010 Senate primary, is to have the multiple teabaggers cannibalizing each others’ votes.

NV-Sen: Democratic Rep. Shelly Berkley is mentioning some sort of timeline for deciding on whether to run for the Senate against John Ensign (or whoever decapitates him in the GOP primary): she’s saying early 2011, probably before mid-February. Worth noting: she’s sitting on $1.1 million CoH, more than your average Rep. and a good head start for a Senate bid.

WV-Sen: John Raese, who has run and lost four times statewide, is pretty much ruling out another run for office, aware that it’s probably not a good investment of his family fortune. Also, he says he’s “worn out” (and probably wants to spend more time with his new glass conservatory). As for who will actually run, Shelly Moore Capito is naturally at the top of the GOP’s wish list, but it sounds like she’s more interested in running for Governor in 2012, making a run from some other self-funding B-lister against Manchin seem likely.

MN-Gov: Tom Emmer’s legal team, over the weekend, pulled a large number of frivolous challenges: 2,600 of them, all from Hennepin County (Minneapolis). Between this token act of perceptions-management, and signals from Emmer attorney (and ex-state supreme court chief justice) Eric Magnuson that Emmer isn’t likely to prevail, it looks like we may actually get some resolution on this sooner rather than later.

CA-11: I’m not sure if anyone was still wondering if David Harmer had conceded this race, as Jerry McNerney declared victory nearly a month ago and the AP also called it a few weeks ago, but he finally pulled the plug over the weekend. Harmer says he has no plans to run again.

VA-09: Um, oooops. Here’s one veteran Dem who seems to have gotten caught with his pants down, when a late move in the polls in what had previously seemed an OK race (recall the spike in the last SurveyUSA poll of this race) seemed to come too late for him to do a last-minute ad blitz. Rick Boucher had by far the most money left over of any House Dem who lost: $699K. (Chris Carney came in second with $262K.)

House: Here’s a long pointless list of races where the loser is operating in the usual “not ruling another run in or out” post-election mode: Glenn Nye in VA-02, Tom Perriello in VA-05, Chet Edwards in TX-17, Patrick Murphy in PA-08, and Republican Ilario Pantano in NC-07.

DCCC: Another changing of the guard at the DCCC: Robby Mook is taking over as executive director, from Jon Vogel. He’s following the same path as Vogel, having led the DCCC’s independent expenditure arm during the 2010 cycle.

NY-St. Sen.: The last two races in the New York state Senate are more or less resolved. Suzi Oppenheimer, as expected, has been declared the victor, and GOP opponent Bob Cohen has conceded. Craig Johnson, on the other hand, has lost, or at least was on the wrong end of the recount, although he plans to appeal. Assuming nothing changes in SD-7, the GOP will control the Senate 32-30 for this session.

Redistricting: In Massachusetts, Democratic Secretary of State Bill Galvin is floating the idea of switching to an independent redistricting commission (albeit one that would apparently be non-binding). That’s odd, since if there’s one state where the Dems have firm control of the trifecta, it’s the Bay State. As you might expect, Dem legislative leaders are expressing little interest in the idea. They’re moving full speed ahead on the 2012 process, with state Senate president pro tem Stan Rosenberg in charge just as he was in 2002. As far as tea leaves for who might get protected in the elimination of that tenth House seat: I’m not sure if Rosenberg would be considered a John Olver ally, but it’s worth noting that Rosenberg is, like Olver, from Amherst, and succeeded Olver in the state Senate, taking over Olver’s old seat in 1991 upon Olver’s special election to the House.

SSP Daily Digest: 9/15

AK-Sen: Two positive developments in the Alaska Senate race, as Scott McAdams seeks to introduce himself in this suddenly-competitive race. He was the recipient of a Mark Begich-headlined fundraiser yesterday in Washington DC, and he’s also out with a radio ad stressing his Alaskan roots and that he’ll keep fighting for “schools, hospitals, roads, and other nuts and bolts” – both key ways to differentiate himself from Joe Miller. As for Lisa Murkowski’s plans, she’s saying that she’ll make her intentions known by Friday whether she wants to make a write-in bid (but her plans to return to DC might be a “no” tea leaf).

DE-Sen: After running far, far away from Christine O’Donnell last night, the NRSC has done an about-face today, giving her the maximum $42K (with Mitch McConnell chipping in his own $5K). I’d be surprised if they give any more than that; this seems like an attempt to placate the base before they go ballistic. Mitt Romney is also backing O’Donnell and giving his own $5K, apparently more worried about getting past the base in the 2012 GOP primary than support for O’Donnell might look for him in the 2012 general. Meanwhile, for those hoping for outright support for Chris Coons from Mike Castle, the Castle camp has said there won’t be an endorsement. (Assistance can take a variety of other forms, though, that aren’t as likely to be apparent.) Finally, if you’re wondering about how Christine O’Donnell sees herself within the Middle Earth context, now you can find out.

NH-Sen: Although New Hampshire recount law would allow Ovide Lamontagne to seek a recount (since he finished within 1.5% of the total votes cast), he just opted against such an action, conceding the race to Kelly Ayotte. He had until the end of the day to request it.

AK-Gov: It’s the last day to get his name on the ballot in Alaska in any capacity (and not really at issue, since the AIP and Libertarians weren’t open to subbing him as their candidate). That leaves 2nd place GOP gubernatorial finisher Bill Walker with a write-in bid as his only option, too, and he sounds like such a bid is “unlikely.”

CA-Gov: I don’t know if all is truly well now between Bill Clinton and Jerry Brown, or Clinton is just feeling that he’s adequately established himself as the alpha dog in the wake of Brown’s capitulation following their ill-advised sparring, but Clinton gave his endorsement to Brown. It remains to be seen what exactly Clinton does on Brown’s behalf, though.

CO-Gov: Tom Tancredo is able to stay on the ballot, said a U.S. District Court judge yesterday. He’d been the subject of a challenge from local GOPers, but the judge ruled that it wasn’t relevant that Tancredo had been a member of the Republican Party up until launching his Constitution Party bid.

FL-Gov: The DGA just plowed $1 million into the Florida governor’s race, showing that they indeed think this (thanks to Rick Scott’s presence) is one of their best pickup opportunities but also that the route to doing so will be through a whole lot of money.

GA-Gov: Nathan Deal is fighting back against reports that he’s in such financial disarray right now that he might need to sell his house to avoid default on a large business loan. The $2.3 million loan is due on Feb. 1, which exceeds the Deal family’s net worth. (This was an investment in a business started by his daughter which failed completely; it’s entirely separate from the family auto salvage business that’s at the heart of the Ethics complaint that chased him out of the House.)

MD-Gov: Looks like we won’t have any lingering bad feelings here, unlike a lot of other establishment/Tea Party GOP primaries: Brian Murphy, who lost badly to Bob Ehrlich, has offered his endorsement to Ehrlich “if he’s willing to accept it.”

DSCC: I guess Charles Schumer looked at yesterday’s election results and decided he didn’t have much to worry about in November from Jay Townsend. He just transferred $1 million to the DSCC from his own cash yesterday, on top of a previous $1 million in August. That leaves him with “only” about $22 million CoH… about the same amount of cash on hand that the DSCC has!

DCCC, NRCC: The DCCC and NRCC are out with slew of independent expenditures advertisements. (Expect to see that phrase in every digest for the next month and a half.) The DCCC rolled out three new IEs in HI-01, MI-01, and AL-02. The NRCC’s buy is in 10 districts: most significantly in IN-02 (for $135K), but also AZ-01, CA-11, FL-02, MS-01, TX-17, VA-05, WI-07 (for $79K), and TN-08 (for $105K). If you want more details on the NRCC’s bid, you can check out the actual FEC filing.

Self-funders: The Wall Street Journal has a helpful rundown on how self-funders are faring this year. As with, well, pretty much every other year, they’re faring quite poorly. Of the 10 biggest self-funders in this cycle’s Senate races, only three actually are still running (Linda McMahon, Carly Fiorina, and Ron Johnson); the other seven (Jeff Greene, Steve Pagliuca, Bill Binnie, David Malpass, Sue Lowden, Jim Bender, and Terrence Wall) all fell by the wayside, often in spectacular fashion. Same story in the House, where only three of the top 10 self-funders (Tom Ganley, Randy Altschuler, and Matt Doheny) are still functional.

Redistricting: Any SSP readers out in Arizona? Here’s your chance to get out from behind Dave’s App and actually get your hands on the real thing! The state’s nonpartisan redistricting commission is seeking applications from the public for appointment to the 5-member commission.


60+ Assoc.: The health care astroturfers are running anti-Dem ads in WI-03, WI-08, NY-01, NY-20, and PA-10

AFF: AFF launches a total $2.3 million buy in seven Dem districts: AL-02, GA-08, MI-01, MI-07, NJ-03, SC-05, and WV-01

American Crossroads: Rove, Inc., is spending $330K on a MO-Sen ad and $550K on a CO-Sen ad

FL-Sen: The US Chamber of Commerce hits Charlie Crist, pointing to his many flip-flops

NV-Sen: The Sharron Angle camp has another anti-Harry Reid ad, calling him “the best friend an illegal immigrant ever had”

NY-Sen-B: Kirsten Gillibrand’s out with her first ad, more or less explicitly introducing herself despite her two years or service

NC-02: Bob Etheridge isn’t leaving anything to chance this year, rolling out an ad that’s mostly a pleasant bio spot

OH-18: I mentioned Zack Space’s anti-NAFTA ad yesterday, but here’s an actual link to the ad

PA-06: Jim Gerlach’s first ad has him stepping away from the Republican label, saying he’s “an independent voice for taxpayers”

PA-10: Chris Carney’s ad goes there, hitting Tom Marino on his ties to sketchy casino entrepreneur Louis DeNaples

SC-05: Mick Mulvaney’s new ad hits John Spratt for having gone native in Washington

WI-07: Is the DCCC taking a page from the Fred Davis “Celebrity” ad that seemed to bizarrely work against Obama? Their new ad against Sean Duffy is rife with clips from his days on The Real World


FL-Sen: Kendrick Meek (D) 23%, Marco Rubio (R) 41%, Charlie Crist (I) 30%

OH-Gov: Ted Strickland (D-inc) 43%, John Kasich (R) 50%

PA-Sen: Joe Sestak (D) 41%, Pat Toomey (R) 49%

VT-Gov: Peter Shumlin (D) 49%, Brian Dubie (R) 46%

VT-Sen: Patrick Leahy (D) 62%, Len Britton (R) 32%

AK-Sen: The Final Frontier

Behind the scenes here at SSP, I told my co-editors that our daily series of Alaska mega-posts was over now that Lisa Murkowski conceded the race to Joe Miller. But like Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger once said, I Just Can’t Stop It!

  • No Endorsement: We previously noted that Lisa Murkowski walked off the stage on Tuesday night without endorsing Joe Miller — and, for the time being at least, that continues to be the case. The Miller campaign is trying to get a chorus of Kumbaya going, but Murkowski can only muster up a “No comment” when asked if she’ll endorse Jumbo Joe. Democrat Scott McAdams was quick to capitalize on the disunity, going on local TV just before Murkowski conceded to tell Alaskans that he’s “a lot closer” to Murkowski’s “centrist” politics than the radicalism of Joe Miller.
  • Joe Miller, Pension Killer: This is what I like about Joe Miller — he’s not shy about heaping on the crazy. From an interview with CNN’s John King:

    The party has hit Miller on Social Security, accusing him of wanting to “phase out” the program, a charge the candidate addressed Wednesday. […]

    Ultimately, Miller said, he favors transferring power “back to the states so that states can take up the mantle of those programs if they so desire.”

    Asked by King whether it would be fair to say a person born tomorrow might grow up in an America without a federal social security program if Miller had his way, the candidate responded, “Absolutely.”

    Now, Miller defenders will be quick to point out that he’s not arguing to take away “the contracts that we’ve made with our seniors”, but good luck disarming that live grenade that Miller just handed you.

  • Standing On His Own, For Us: I’m not sure if the DSCC’s silence on this race since Miller’s primary win is a deliberate strategy not to taint McAdams with the disgusting touch of Washington, D.C., or if the committee still hasn’t figured out what its strategy is for this race. That’s why I like this kind of attitude on display from Scott McAdams:

    It remains to be seen whether McAdams will receive support from the Democratic National Committee or the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. McAdams says it doesn’t matter.

    “The DSCC and the national Democratic Party doesn’t even know my name. And that’s fine by me,” he said. “I love the Alaskan Democratic Party, they’ve been behind me 100 percent, Sen. Mark Begich has been behind me 100 percent, and that’s just fine by me.” …

    “I’m not sure exactly what their strategy’s going to be. I’m not sure what their plan is,” he said. “This is a small population state. We can raise enough money to win. Nobody knew who Joe Miller was on the 31st of May.”

    The DSCC appears to still be locked in “evaluation mode”, and the Associated Press reports that they’re going into the field with a poll to determine if their investment would be worthwhile. For his part, McAdams is taking his campaign to the next level thanks in part to the generosity of Mark Begich:

    Ten days ago, Scott McAdams had a volunteer treasurer and a few thousand dollars to help him pursue the Democratic nomination for U.S. senator in Alaska.

    With the shocking upset victory by tea party darling Joe Miller over U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski for the Republican nomination, volunteers and money are flowing his way.

    A pair of staffers from the office of U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, are taking leave to assist the campaign. McAdams has hired a spokeswoman. […]

    Wednesday evening, McAdams was listed among the top fundraisers on, which helps Democrats set up fundraising campaigns for candidates, with $76,117 in donations. McAdams expects his campaign to have collected $100,000 by end of the week as Alaskans pitch in to help him defeat the Republican endorsed by former Gov. Sarah Palin.

    “Things are ramping up,” McAdams said Wednesday in an interview at a picnic table in Anchorage’s Elderberry Park.

    Indeed, Begich has been all over this action, sending out an email for McAdams in an effort to raise $250K in two weeks. (They’ve already made a dent in that figure.) Roll Call has more on the Democratic excitement on the ground:

    “It’s night and day,” a Democratic source close to the campaign said about the feeling on the ground in the state since the primary. “People are excited. People are stunned.” …

    “It is happening, and there’s a new surge of energy and excitement into Democratic headquarters out here,” Alaska Democratic Party spokeswoman Kay Brown said. “Scott’s a good guy, a real Alaskan, and I think he’s going to look good and compare favorably against Joe Miller.” …

    The Democratic source said that McAdams could pick up Republican votes in places like the Aleutian Islands, which is home to the largest fishing port in the country and relies on significant federal funding – something some in the state believe could diminish with Miller in office.

    “People are freaked out out here about this Joe Miller guy,” the source said.

    Next on tap for McAdams: a $250-per-person fundraiser tonight at the home of state Sen. Hollis French. Happy to see French working it for Team Blue despite losing the gubernatorial primary to Ethan Berkowitz last week.

  • AK-Sen: Just Look at the Eye Candy

    I don’t believe the title needs further explanation.

    Can you guess what this map is of?

    The map up top is the 2008 race between Mark Begich and Ted Stevens, in which Begich prevailed by 1.25%.

    If you guessed that correctly (without cheating), 10 points for Gryffindor. If you did cheat and look at the file name, boo on you too, but you can look at the Anchorage inset anyways:

    Here’s a redux of the Murkowski-Miller race (blue for Murk, Red for Miller; Absentees not included):

    And you can judge for yourself similarities between that at the 2008 GOP primary, Young-Parnell (Young in blue, Parnell in red):

    I’m not that optimistic about Scott McAdams’ chances in November, but there does seem to be a path for him:

    Areas of strong Begich performance are decently correlated with areas of strong Murkowski performance – or put differently – weaker Miller performance. Given that, this seems to bode somewhat better for McAdams, in that he could piece together the Begich coalition of Anchorage + Outlying Areas + Juneau for a win, pulling in disaffected Murkowski GOPers. Those areas (notably, GOP voters in those areas) weren’t exactly hopping for Miller.

    AK-Sen: First Ballots Will Be Counted Today

    In lieu of an AM digest, let’s set the stage for what should be yet another dramatic day in the Alaska Republican primary saga.

  • Change Gonna Come: Since Wednesday, the scoreboard has been frozen like this:

    438 of 438 Precincts Reporting
    Candidate Votes Percent
    Lisa Murkowski 45,359 49.10%
    Joe Miller 47,027 50.90%

    That will all change later today once the folks at the Alaska Division of Elections begin counting their first round of absentee ballots. According to The Hill, 7000 absentees are in the kitty, waiting to be counted today. Given that roughly 70% of the ballots cast on election day were in the Republican primary, we should see the needle move by around 5000 votes. The Anchorage Daily News, however, isn’t getting a straight figure from the DoE, while a Murkowski spokesbot claims that the number of votes counted today will be closer to 15,000 (out of over 25,000 currently uncounted). In any case, we’ll keep you updated as soon as the results are posted.

  • Paranoid: True to form, Joe Miller is calling for armed guards — or Alaska State Troopers, to be precise — to protect the regional elections offices from Lisa Murkowski’s legion of iPhone-wielding, Diebold-hacking “scrutineers”. The DoE says that Miller’s paranoia is unfounded, saying that there’s no way that NRSC/Murkowski consultant Mike Roman (who also worked on behalf of Norm Coleman during the ’08 Minnesota recount episode) could have tampered with any e-ballots. Murkowski is more or less calling Miller unhinged:

    “I believe in our nation’s democratic process, it’s the envy of the world. I have complete faith in our system and I am astounded that Mr. Miller continues to make blatantly false accusations that there is something nefarious happening. Observers from both sides are at regional election offices to ensure that Alaskans get a fair vote count. For someone who wants to be Alaska’s Republican nominee for Senate, Mr. Miller is certainly afraid of Republicans,” Senator Murkowski said.

  • Burning Down the House: You just have to love how candid Joe Miller is in his radicalism. From a FOX Business News interview late last week (of course!):

    “But out of the gate, Joe, what do you start with? Healthcare?” said Asman.

    “Oh, absolutely. Defund it. I mean a repeal would be perfect but obviously that would get vetoed. So defund everything. Get rid of the socialist aspects of government, not just in health care but the other entitlement areas that are driving us into insolvency,” Miller said.

    Miller went on to say that Congress should have the “courage to shut down the government,” if necessary, to eliminate government programs.

    On anyone’s list, the entitlement programs that could drive the nation to “insolvency” in the decades ahead are topped by Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which make up about 40 percent of the federal budget. […]

    Miller has said he wants an “orderly transition” away from Social Security, to “privatize” or “personalize” it, while not reducing benefits for anyone who is “currently dependent” on the program.

    Referring to Social Security, he told the Anchorage Daily News that “I think in the long run the answer is to get the government out of it, to privatize it.”

    Regarding Medicare, he also wants an “orderly transition” to get the government out of that program as well because “The government has broken everything that it’s had its finger in.”

    That’s Joe Miller, Pension Killer to his friends.

  • With a Little Help From My Friends: Here’s a refreshing change of pace — the Politico devotes two pages of text to Democrat Scott McAdams. The article puts the spotlight on the big support that McAdams is getting from Mark Begich, who’s quickly becoming McAdams’ biggest backer in the state. Begich, who not only helped talk McAdams into the race when no other Democrat of note was willing to take the plunge against Murkowski, has been sending staff and fundraising assistance to McAdams, and spent all of last week shopping the Mayor of Sitka around Anchorage.

    Politico notes that Alaska Democrats had tried to lure former state legislator Walter Hensley into the race before McAdams jumped in just before the filing deadline, but couldn’t get Hensley to commit to a race against his “longtime friend and ally” Murkowski. There’s now some rumbling that Hensley would be interested in running against Miller, but that boat has clearly sailed. McAdams is standing firm, and the state party has lined up behind him. Begich sums it up:

    “There’s no trade-in. There’s no swapping,” Begich said. “And part of the hesitation is that they don’t know Scott. But that’s what campaigns are all about. I didn’t know Joe Miller a few months ago.” […]

    “This guy put his name on the line when nobody else would,” Begich said. “That takes a lot of guts and a lot of ability, in my view.”

    Meanwhile, McAdams also secured the endorsement of national AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who clearly liked what he had to see after Begich facilitated a meeting between the two. The Mudflats has the video.

  • AK-Sen: Libertarians May Cut a Deal, Begich Backs McAdams, and Other Updates

    It could be the unlikeliest Senate race match-up of the year: teabagging attorney Joe Miller vs. Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams… but we’ll first have to see if Miller is indeed the victor. Since this race is still so unsettled, let’s do a roundup of all the latest news:

  • The Math: With every precinct reporting, Miller leads Murkowski by 1,668 votes. But there’s the lingering matter of all those absentees, which are still trickling in. Here’s the schedule for counting them:

    None of the absentees has been counted. Absentee ballots had to be postmarked by Tuesday but could arrive up to 10 days after the election if mailed in the United States and 15 days if overseas. The Division of Elections will do its first count Aug. 31, with additional counts scheduled for Sept. 3 and Sept. 8.

    The Alaska Division of Elections says that “more than” 16,000 absentees were requested, and that 7,600 of them have come back so far, but remember — not all of these ballots will be Republican primary votes. One estimate by Anchorage pollster Dave Dittman says that there are 5,000 GOP absentee ballots outstanding, but I’m not sure how that conclusion was reached, or if that guesstimate accounts for the ballots that have yet to trickle in. (Likely not.) In any event, Murkowski is going to have to win this pile by a large margin in order to come back from the grave.

  • A Third Party Play?: Murkowski says that it’s “premature” to discuss a third-party run before all the absentees come in, but her camp certainly is not ruling it out. One option is a write-in campaign, but the chances of success are pretty dim:

    According to the elections coordinator in the Alaska Department of Elections, Murkowski has until October 28 to file as a write-in, in which case write-in votes for her would be counted if the aggregate total of all write-ins is greater than the number of ballots cast for the first-place candidate, or within the range that would require a recount. In the coordinator’s 14 years, this has never happened in a state race.

    Another option would be to commandeer the line of a third-party… say, for instance, the Alaskan Independence Party. The first problem is that the AIP didn’t even bother to nominate a candidate for the general election in the first place, casting doubt on whether it’s legally possible for such a play to be engineered. (Remember, Wally Hickel was famously offered the AIP line after losing the GOP primary for the 1990 gubernatorial election, but he was taking over the ballot spot of a previously-nominated candidate.) In any event, the question is entirely academic, as the chair of the AIP has said that they would “absolutely not” let Murkowski join their ranks.

    The best option for Murkowski may be to go Libertarian — that party seems entirely willing to listen to any offer she might make:

    If Murkowski loses the primary, there is a possibility that she might able to run on the Libertarian ticket in the November general election. But that would require the Libertarian Senate candidate, David Haase, to agree to step aside, and for the Alaska Libertarian Party to agree to put Murkowski on the ballot.

    Alaska Libertarian Party chairman Scott Kohlaas said he was open to the idea and that party leaders were discussing it. “There’s a chance,” Kohlhaas said on Wednesday.

    Haase didn’t rule out the idea, saying he’d certainly listen if Murkowski wanted to step into his place.

  • Scott McAdams, The Anti-Teabagger: First, I encourage you to read this excellent piece by The Mudflats offering a wealth of background on how Joe Miller came from nowhere to force this nail-biter. The piece also has some color on Democrat Scott McAdams, and the details sound pretty good:

    Scott McAdams, little known to Alaskans outside the southeast pan-handle, is a popular small town mayor. He runs the city of Sitka and has balanced budgets, focused on education, served on the school board, and has even figured out how to sell water to India. He was a deckhand on a commercial fishing boat all over the state, and is all the kinds of things that Sarah Palin said she was, before the media began to shine a flashlight in all the dark corners. He’s a “real Alaskan” in the style of the politicians of old, before oil was discovered and turned a libertarian blue state reddish. […]

    McAdams who unlike Miller, is a fiscally conservative moderate Democrat, has executive experience, was born and raised in Alaska, and has worked with his hands in the fishing industry, suddenly finds himself with an incredible opportunity. One could even say that attorney and Yale Law grad Joe Miller who was born and raised “Outside” is kind of “elite,” while McAdams is all about Alaska, and “real people.”

    And here’s the man in his own words:

    McAdams called the tea party-backed Miller too extreme for Alaska, in what is sure to be a theme for the Democrats if Miller turns out to be the Republican nominee.

    “I invite people who supported Senator Murkowski to please take a look at our campaign. I believe we are the moderate, rational, practical campaign, not the campaign of extreme measures and 19th-century ideology,” McAdams said.

    McAdams said Alaskans value federal appropriations to develop infrastructure and don’t buy proposals such as abolishing the federal Department of Education. Miller has said education is a function to be left to states and localities. He’s argued that if the nation does not slash spending, it is headed for a “sovereign debt crisis” that would be worse for Alaska than less federal money.

    I like it — he’s sounding the right notes and drawing the appropriate contrasts. And he certainly has a lot of material to work with; just take a gander, if you haven’t already, at Jed L’s DailyKos profile of Miller’s hard-right, anti-choice, anti-government philosophy. Sure, Joe Miller’s resume is impressive on paper (West Point, Yale Law, Magistrate Judge), but that doesn’t paper over crazy ideas.

  • No Democratic Switcheroos: The Twittering classes were full of speculation yesterday that some kind of deal would be worked out to swap McAdams on the Democratic ticket with ex-Gov. Tony Knowles, a man who has lost two statewide races in Alaska in the past six years. As we mentioned earlier, Knowles put those rumors to bed, saying he’s not at all interested in a run. McAdams, for his part, is standing absolutely firm, and good for him. Also, good on Mark Begich for lining solidly in McAdams’ corner:

    But McAdams has the full support of Democrat Mark Begich, who two years ago pulled off his own successful upset of a Republican senator, Ted Stevens. Begich on Wednesday had this to say of McAdams: “I like what I see.”

    “Welcome to Alaskan politics. Anything can happen. Everything’s viable,” Begich said. “It doesn’t take a lot of money, but it takes someone who is committed and hardworking, and can run a campaign. So I tell people and I’ve been telling people that this race shouldn’t be discounted out, and has potential.”

  • SSP Daily Digest: 5/6

    PA-Sen: In a big diss to Arlen Specter, the Democratic caucus last night voted to slot Specter into the most junior spots on his committees for the remainder of this Congress. The issue won’t be revisited until after the midterm. This strips Specter of one of his strongest re-election arguments: seniority, and the power to make things happen that comes with it (especially on his Appropriations subcommittee… although that’s not as huge a problem in a big state like Pennyslvania as it would be in an Appropriations-dependent state like Alaska).

    KY-Sen: There’s another potential GOP primary challenger to Jim Bunning sniffing out the race, in case SoS Trey Grayson doesn’t show up despite having opened an exploratory committee. Cathy Bailey hasn’t held elective office before, but she’s strong on the fundraising front. She was a Bush Pioneer in 2000, and was rewarded for that with a post as Ambassador to Latvia. She’s married to the former CEO of Providian as well, so she can self-fund if need be.

    NC-Sen: Kenneth Lewis, a Durham attorney and fundraiser for Barack Obama, is telling state Democratic Party leaders that he will run against Richard Burr next year. Still no word on state AG Roy Cooper’s intentions. (J)

    IL-Gov: DuPage County Board chair Robert Schillerstrom is setting up an exploratory committee to run for the GOP nomination in the 2010 gubernatorial race. He’ll join state Senator Bill Brady, who’s already in the hunt. Brady has the “my turn” advantage, having finished 3rd in the 2006 primary, but the suburban Schillerstrom would have the population advantage over downstate’s Brady.

    NJ-Gov: The Democratic Governors’ Association has been reading the Gray Davis playbook (or maybe my advice?): they’re going hard after Chris Christie this month with an ad barrage in order to damage Christie in the hopes of getting the much less-known and more-conservative Steve Lonegan the GOP nomination instead. The Corzine camp is not involved in the efforts, which aims at Christie’s strength: questioning his supposed corruption-fighting credentials as U.S. Attorney.

    VA-02: Ex-Rep. Thelma Drake announced she won’t seek a rematch against Rep. Glenn Nye, who upset her in 2008. This may actually be bad news! for Nye, as there are potential GOP candidates more impressive than the polarizing Drake waiting in the wings. Nye has to be bolstered, though, by the blue shift in this now R+5 district, narrowly won by Obama.

    MN-06: Maureen Reed, a former Univ. of Minnesota regent who ran for Lt. Gov on the Independence Party ticket, will be running in MN-06 in the DFL primary in 2010. While she might not make it through the primary, especially if Elwyn Tinklenberg runs again and/or state Senator Tarryl Clark runs, I’m taking this as a positive sign, in that the IP might not be looking to shoot us in the foot this time. (See also Populista‘s diary.)

    NRCC: The NRCC has launched another offensive on what they perceive as vulnerable (or at least soften-up-able) Dems, with radio ads against Marion Berry, Charlie Melancon, Earl Pomeroy, Zack Space, and John Tanner. Space is the only one who’s on Frontline, but Berry, Melancon, and Tanner are all in districts that moved sharply toward McCain in 2008. The ad attacks the Blue Dogs for being “lap dogs” on the Obama budget.

    Gay marriage: The gay marriage train just keeps building up speed, picking up one more state today. After some public hemming and hawing, Maine Governor John Baldacci signed gay marriage legislation this morning after it passed both chambers of the legislature. (Discussion underway in David Kowalski‘s diary.)

    King County Executive: The first poll is out in the race to lead King County (which puts you in charge of 1.8 million constituents, and is a frequent stepping stone to Washington governor). In a bit of a twist, the Republican (it’s an ostensibly nonpartisan race, but everyone knows who’s what) is in the lead in this dark-blue county: former TV news anchor Susan Hutchison is at 20%, followed by two county councilors from Seattle proper (Dow Constantine at 6 and Larry Phillips at 5) and two Eastside state legislators (Fred Jarrett at 7 and Ross Hunter at 3). All the Dems (each of whom is largely unknown outside his district) added up together beat the widely-known Hutchison, though, so whichever Dem survives the primary seems likely to pull this out in the general election, in Nov. 2009.

    Mayors: Republican Dan Sullivan beat Democrat Eric Croft to replace Mark Begich as Anchorage mayor yesterday, 57-43. (Sullivan has the advantage of being the son of former mayor George Sullivan.) Discussion underway in benjso99‘s diary. Also, yesterday in Detroit, Dave Bing defeated newly-minted mayor Ken Cockrel by 4 points. (Which makes him the second legendary NBA point guard to ascend to mayor, following Sacramento’s Kevin Johnson.)

    SSP Daily Digest: 5/5

    FL-Sen: Word on the street is that Charlie Crist will announce his plans regarding the Senate race on Monday. It sounds like he’s eager to jump in as soon as possible after the end of the legislative session, to keep Marco Rubio from gaining any traction. If Crist’s exalted-sounding riposte to Rubio’s smacktalk yesterday is any indcation, he’s already staking out the post-partisan high ground.

    NH-Sen: Over in what Dean Barker calls “Cloud Hampshire,” Andy Smith of UNH still thinks there are more Republicans than Democrats in the Granite State. That could be why the notoriously unreliable pollster finds John Sununu, Jr. “leading” Paul Hodes 46-41. Take it for what it’s worth – i.e., not very much at all. (D)

    MN-Gov: Ellison Endorses Entenza! Rep. Keith Ellison from Minneapolis lent his support to Matt Entenza, the former state House minority leader (and a friend of Ellison’s from law school).

    OR-04: Republicans have recruited Springfield Mayor Sid Leiken to run against longtime incumbent Peter DeFazio. Don’t be misled into thinking this D+2 district represents a good opportunity for the GOP – DeFazio is very popular (he won with 83% last year). More likely, the GOP is hoping DeFazio will run for the governor’s mansion, leaving this seat open. (D)

    TX-17: GOP candidates once again are lining up for the opportunity to take on Rep. Chet Edwards. But Edwards keeps on finding a way to win in this wildly red district (at R+20, it’s the 19th most-conservative seat in the entire country), and he isn’t even on Frontline this year. Meanwhile, the Republican field is very much unsettled. (D)

    FL-24: State Republican chairman Jim Greer just announced that he won’t take on freshman Dem Suzanne Kosmas this cycle. Yet another recruiting failure for Pete Sessions & the NRCC. (D)

    Mayors: There are two mayoral elections in big cities today: Detroit and Anchorage. Detroit is a Dem-on-Dem duel where there’s not much ideological difference and it’s more of an insider/outsider clash; Kenneth Cockrel, who took over as mayor after Kwame Kilpatrick resigned, is up against businessman (and Detroit Pistons great and NBA Hall of Famer) Dave Bing. Anchorage residents are choosing between Democrat Eric Croft and Republican Dan Sullivan to replace now-Sen. Mark Begich. Anchorage Mayor was an important stepping stone for all two of Alaska’s prominent Dems: ex-Gov. Tony Knowles as well as Begich.

    AK-Gov, AK-Sen, Pres: Shenanigans.

    Dang, that word is funny.

    So, as we all know already, we’ve got Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell on one side of the Alaska Republican Party, and Representative Don Young and former Senator Ted Stevens on the other side, and they clearly dislike each other.

    What with the AK Republicans (officially), headed by Palin, pumping out hot air calling for Begich to resign, it seems that (according to info from here and that Young might even be taking Begich’s side in this dispute.  Not to mention that Begich (easily) called Palin’s bluff on the resignation request.

    And of course, the best part of this is that Young now wants Stevens to primary Palin.  Battle of the century, eh?

    Is this fun? [y/n]

    More discussion/questions below the fold.

    Also, has Palin “overmisestimated” her own political capital?  How much pull do Young and Stevens still have?  Does Lisa Murkowski’s now-pretty-good favorables actually show that voters are done with the whole “anti-Frank-Murkowski/Don-Young/Ted-Stevens” mood?

    And what if Stevens actually were to primary Palin?  Who might win the primary, and how bloody would it be, and who do we have waiting in our wings?  What’s the likelihood that Stevens would actually do this?  (Somehow I think he won’t.)

    And if he doesn’t, would the Stevens wing of the R party have anyone else to run?  I hear that the Alaska legislature doesn’t seem to like Palin that much these days…

    And is Parnell up for more shenanigans next year?

    And is shenanigans a funny word?