SSP Daily Digest: 6/30

IL-Sen: Here’s a fairly big-name entrant to the Illinois Senate: Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Jackson, who just formed an exploratory committee. Jackson had occasionally been rumored to be interested (to the extent that Jan Schakowksy’s internal poll included her, where she got 17% when explicitly substituted for Burris) but hadn’t taken concrete steps. Jackson has two demographic positives: with Schakowsky out, she’d be the only female in the race (unless, of course, Lisa Madigan gets in, in which case the game would be over anyway), and she’d be the only African-American in the race who isn’t Roland Burris. However, she used to be Rod Blagojevich’s press secretary prior to taking over at the Urban League, so the Blago stench may be hard to wash off.

ND-Sen: All had seemed quiet on the midwestern front, especially after that R2K poll that showed him getting flattened by Byron Dorgan (57-35), but Gov. John Hoeven recently showed at least a peep of interest in running for Senate after all… even if it was just a statement that he was still making up his mind and would decide by September. GOP state chair Randy Emineth said that Hoeven “wants to” run against Dorgan, but we’ll need to actually hear from Hoeven.

NH-Sen: The swabbies at ARG! pointed their spyglasses toward the 2010 open Senate seat in New Hampshire, and find that Rep. Paul Hodes would defeat ex-Sen. John Sununu 40-36. No numbers for the much-hyped AG Kelly Ayotte.

NV-Sen, NV-Gov: In the face of relentless wooing from GOP Senators, Rep. Dean Heller has set a deadline of June 30 to make up his mind about whether he runs for Harry Reid’s Senate seat. (Wait a minute… that’s today!) Heller’s other options include staying in NV-02 or running a primary challenge in the governor’s race — where the younger Reid (Rory, the Clark County Commission chair) seems to be staffing up for the race on the Dem side.

PA-Sen: Joe Torsella, who briefly was running against post-party-switch Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary before dropping out, has endorsed Specter. Not surprising, since Torsella is a big ally of Gov. Ed Rendell, who has pledged his support to Specter.

CT-Gov: More indications that Ned Lamont is getting serious about running for Governor (probably against incumbent Jodi Rell) in 2010. Lamont is looking at an early-2010 deadline for deciding, but can get away with a shorter timeframe as he can self-fund and won’t need a long ramp-up for fundraising.

NJ-Gov (pdf): PPP takes their turn at polling the New Jersey Governor’s race and find about what everyone else has been finding: Chris Christie leads incumbent Jon Corzine 51-41, with Christie benefiting from a 60-26 lead among independent voters. Good news, relatively speaking, for Corzine, though, is that Christie’s negatives are rising quickly as he’s starting to get defined in the media, up to 43% favorable and 33% unfavorable.

SC-Gov: Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer has publicly floated the idea that he would stand down from running in 2010 if he got to be Governor now, if Mark Sanford would just go ahead and resign (please?). His potential 2010 rivals are looking at this as statesman-like grandstanding, especially since it looks like Sanford is digging in.

AK-AL: In case there was any doubt, the indestructible Rep. Don Young has announced that he’s running for re-election. Young is 76 and in perpetual danger of indictment, but with the state’s political talent gravitating toward the Governor’s race, may have an easier path in 2010 than in 2008.

CA-36: Los Angeles City Councilor Janice Hahn has been telling supporters that she’s interested in running for Rep. Jane Harman’s seat. She doesn’t seem to be thinking primary, though; Hahn, for some reason, believes Harman (still under a bit of a cloud from the wiretap incident) is up for appointment to something, maybe Ambassador to Israel, in the Obama administration.

FL-12: State Sen. Paula Dockery made clear that she won’t be running in the 12th; she endorsed former State Rep. Dennis Ross for the job. She seemed to leave the door open to the Governor’s race, saying in her statement that “my passion for public policy is in state government.”

IL-07: With Rep. Danny Davis looking to move over to the Presidency of the Cook County Board, Chicago-area Dems are already eyeing the super-safe open seat. Davis’s former chief of staff Richard Boykin (now a lobbyist for Cook County) seems to be the first to make his interest publicly known.

NH-01 (pdf): Manchester mayor (and NH-01 candidate) Frank Guinta is due for the Bad Samaritan Award, as he watched several of his friends (an alderman and a state Representative) beat up another acquaintance in a barroom brawl, ending with the man’s leg being broken in seven places, and then immediately left the scene without reporting it to the police. Guinta said he was unaware of the extent of the man’s injuries and contacted police at that point. No charges have been filed in the incident; still, not the kind of free publicity a political candidate likes to get.

NY-03, NY-Sen-B: Rep. Peter King is sounding even iffier than before about running for Senate against Kirsten Gillibrand, having scored a desired slot on the Intelligence Committee.

NY-23: Investment banker Matthew Doheny anted up with a lot of cash to jump into the Republican side of the race to replace Rep. John McHugh: $500,000 of his own money. Roll Call reports that he’ll need the ostentatious display of cash to get anywhere in the candidate-picking process, as Assemblypersons Dede Scozzafava and Will Barclay are both reaching out behind the scenes to party leaders.

Redistricting: Regardless of what nonsense happens in the New York Senate this session, it’s looking more and more like the GOP’s toehold on legislative power will be vanquished in post-2010 redistricting, regardless of who controls the legislative redistricting process. Because of growth in the city and declines upstate, 1.2 seats will need to be shifted from downstate to NYC (and, as an added bonus, an extra one-sixth of a seat will shift to the city if the Census Bureau goes ahead and starts counting prisoners according to where they’re actually from rather than where they’re incarcerated).

Fusion Voting: Here’s one way in which Oregon suddenly became a lot more like New York: the state legislature decided to allow “fusion voting,” in which a candidate can run on multiple party lines on one ballot. This will be a boost to minor parties in Oregon, by letting them form coalitions with the major parties instead of simply playing spoiler.

Fundraising: It’s June 30, and you know what that means… it’s the end of the 2nd fundraising quarter. If you want to give some momentum to your favored candidates, today’s the last day to do it.

SSP Daily Digest: 5/27

FL-Sen: Some guys just don’t seem to be getting the message that the NRSC is trying to consolidate support for Charlie Crist and shut down the competitive primary challenge from former state House speaker Marco Rubio. Thing is, these are some major players, starting with Mike Huckabee, whose latest fundraising e-mail from HuckPAC cited Rubio. (Rubio was one of Huckabee’s early backers in the GOP presidential primary.) Also, today Jeb Bush Jr. (son of the former Governor) endorsed Rubio. The elder Bush remains on the sidelines and probably will continue to do so… but this seems like the kind of thing someone in Jr.’s shoes doesn’t do without consulting dad (especially when you share the same name).

IL-Sen: When you’re facing long odds in a primary and sitting on $845 in funds, the words “FBI wiretap” aren’t likely to make your situation better. A just-released transcript of a conversation with Rod Blagojevich’s brother Robert shows Roland Burris promising to “personally do something” for Blago, although without creating the impression he was “trying to buy an appointment.” In the meantime, although he hasn’t announced re-election plans, Burris persists in acting like a candidate for 2010, taking a swing through a number of downstate cities this week.

OH-Sen: Rob Portman had a Memorial Day weekend he’d probably like to forget, as he visited to the Dayton-area VA Hospital on Sundary to do a little meet ‘n’ greet. Not only did he get a chilly reception from officials, who told him that campaigning on federal property is illegal, but from the vets as well, who peppered him with questions about Bush administration cuts to the VA budget, while Portman was OMB director.

MI-Gov: Unfortunately-named Republican Attorney General Mike Cox made it official; he’s running for Michigan Governor. Cox finished third in the one poll so far of the GOP primary, but the winner of the poll was Oakland Co. Executive L. Brooks Patterson (who has since announced he won’t run), and Cox, who’s also based in the Detroit suburbs, is likely to benefit from Patterson’s absence.

AL-Gov: As expected, Bradley Byrne, the chancellor of Alabama’s Two-Year College System and a former state Senator, announced his candidacy for Governor today. In a very cluttered GOP field, observers give Byrne something of front-runner status.

MO-07: State Senator Gary Nodler is publicly announcing something tomorrow, most likely that he’s running for the open 7th District seat being vacated by Roy Blunt. It’s already a crowded field, but a March internal poll gave Nodler the edge with 35%, leading state Sen. Jack Goodman and auctioneer Billy Long at 25% each. Nodler has the “my turn” factor working for him, as he lost the GOP primary for this seat the last time it was open, losing to Blunt in 1996.

PA-10: The GOP seems to be floundering in its efforts to find a candidate to take on sophomore Rep. Chris Carney in this R+8 district in northeastern Pennsylvania. All they have lined up so far is Lackawanna Trail School Director Dan Naylor and chiropractor David Madeira; Dan Meuser, who narrowly lost last year’s GOP primary to Chris Hackett, is “keeping his options open” but unlikely to run.

PA-11: Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty, in an interview, wouldn’t rule out running in a primary against weary Rep. Paul Kanjorski. (Doherty definitely sounds interested in moving up to something, although more focused on the open Lt. Gov. slot. Former Philadelphia controller Jonathan Saidel may have the inside track on that job, though.) This follows news that Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien is also interested in Kanjorski’s job.

PA-12: Another possible changing of the guard in Pennsylvania: former State Dept. employee and Navy officer (and Navy Academy placekicker) Ryan Bucchianeri announced he’ll challenge John Murtha in the Dem primary. Somehow I doubt this is the kind of challenge that would prompt the 77-year-old Murtha to shrink in fear and contemplate retirement; more likely, Bucchianeri is positioning himself in case the increasingly cumulative weight of investigations into Murtha’s earmark quid pro quos takes Murtha down.

WI-03: Rep. Ron Kind hasn’t faced a serious challenge since his first election in 1996 in his Dem-leaning (D+4) rural Wisconsin district, but he may face an honest-to-gosh state Senator in 2010. Dan Kapanke is strongly considering making the race.

GA-09: State Representative Tom Graves jumped into the field for the GOP primary to replace retiring Rep. Nathan Deal (who’s running for Governor). Expect a crowded GOP field in this R+28 district: former state transportation board chair Mike Evans, former state Sen. Bill Stephens, county commissioner Mike Cowan, and activist Jeremy Jones are all already in.

IL-Sen: Round Two, This Time Starring Roland Burris as Dracula!

Harry Reid: Leave, legislator, you don’t belong in this Chamber!

Roland Burris: It was not by MY ego that I was once again given government office!  I was appointed here by ROD BLAGOJEVICH, who wished to pay ME tribute!

Reid: Tribute?  He destroys politicians’ careers, and makes them his pawns!

Burris: Perhaps the same could be said of all scandal-plagued politicians.

Reid: Your words are as empty as your ethics!  The people of Illinois ill need a Senator such as you!

Burris: What is a Senate seat?!  A miserable little pile of campaign efforts!  But enough talk…have at you!

IL-Sen: Blagojevich Names Roland Burris

Well, he isn’t quite as obscure as Tim Ted Kaufman, but Blagojevich has named his pick for the vacant Illinois senate seat and it’s someone who wasn’t on anybody’s watch list: former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris. Burris is the first African-American to win statewide office in Illinois, elected comptroller in 1978. He’s failed to win the primary in three separate gubernatorial runs, including in 2002 against Blagojevich.

Burris is 71. This leads to the question: is he running for re-election in 2010? That’s not immediately clear, but Burris stated earlier that whoever gets the appointment should be able to win re-election. Burris sold himself to Blagojevich when the position came open, and unlike most anyone else, continued to sell himself harder after Blago got arrested.

Shortly after Obama’s Nov. 4 victory, Burris made known his interest in an appointment to the Senate but was never seriously considered, according to Blagojevich insiders. But in the days following Blagojevich’s arrest, and despite questions over the taint of a Senate appointment, Burris stepped up his efforts to win the governor’s support.

What’s strange here is that Blagojevich’s own defense attorney said that no appointment would be forthcoming, and of course earlier Harry Reid said that no Blagojevich appointment would be seated by the Senate… so it’s unclear what exactly Blagojevich is thinking (although that seems like it has frequently been the case lately). Burris apparently has not been connected to any of the investigations of Blagojevich, but it seems highly iffy as to whether or not he ever actually becomes a senator, with Reid’s threat, and the Illinois legislature still considering impeachment procedures against Blagojevich. (Discussion is already underway in safi‘s diary.)

UPDATE (James L.): Looks like Senate Dems are standing firm:

It is truly regrettable that despite requests from all 50 Democratic Senators and public officials throughout Illinois, Gov. Blagojevich would take the imprudent step of appointing someone to the United States Senate who would serve under a shadow and be plagued by questions of impropriety. We say this without prejudice toward Roland Burris’s ability, and we respect his years of public service. But this is not about Mr. Burris; it is about the integrity of a governor accused of attempting to sell this United States Senate seat. Under these circumstances, anyone appointed by Gov. Blagojevich cannot be an effective representative of the people of Illinois and, as we have said, will not be seated by the Democratic Caucus.

As is Illinois’ Secretary of State:

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White says he’ll reject any paperwork that Gov. Rod Blagojevich files to name a new U.S. senator.

The secretary of state keeps state records and certifies official actions.

But White says he won’t certify anything Blagojevich does to fill the Senate seat once held by President-elect Barack Obama.

(Hat-tip: SusanG)

Later Update: Did you catch the Blago/Burris press conference? Reportedly, it was nothing less than surreal.

IL-Sen: Whom Might Blagojevich Appoint? (Round 3)

Back in August of 2007, when primary season was heating up, we asked you guys to look deep into the future, ponder a potential Obama presidency, and think about whom Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich might appoint to replace his state’s junior senator.

Well, that scenario has now come to pass (and the unpopular Blago has managed to hang on to his office). Speculation is already running wild. Here are some of the names under consideration:

Valerie Jarrett (real estate executive & Obama adviser)

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (IL-02)

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (IL-04)

Rep. Danny Davis (IL-07)

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)

AG Lisa Madigan

Comptroller Dan Hynes

Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias

IL Dept. of Veterans Affairs Dir. Tammy Duckworth

Blago himself (barf)

I’m sure there are other names out there as well. So whom do you think Blago might appoint? And whom do you think he should appoint? (Note that this seat is up for re-election in 2010.)

UPDATE by Crisitunity: We also discussed this in June. Other African-American names we discussed there were Senate President Emil Jones (too old and too tied to Blago), Secretary of State Jesse White (too old, but probably a good 2-year placeholder), State Senator James Claybourne (too Downstate), and ex-Senator Carol Mosely-Braun (not too good at getting re-elected).

IL-SEN 2010: Who will replace Obama?

There doing this same thread at Daily Kos and I disagree with some of brownsox’a analysis but its a good start.

One of the things you have to keep in mind, is that unless he appoints himself he’s probably facing a stiff primary opponent. I know a little bit about Illinois politics, so here’s some of the names who will be tossed around:

1. Blagojevich: I don’t think its out of the realm of possibility that Blago appoints himself. Having said that, it would be incredibly stupid on his part to do so. He’s not particularly popular in Illinois and this move would make him look pretty bad.

Odds: 50-1

2. Lisa Madigan: This is almost as bad as him appointing himself. This would look like a purely political move, a complete quid pro quo. The worst part is that while Madigan would be his toughest primary opponent both Dan Hymes and Alexi Giannoulas could still knock him off. (This same logic applies to choosing Himes and Giannoulas as well)

Odds: 35-1

3. Jan Schakowsky: This move would please a lot of prgoressives and be heralded around these parts. But, she’s got some baggage due to her husband and there’s another factor that I’ll lay out later as to why I don’t think she’ll be the choice.

Odds: 20-1

4. Jesse White: This is the move that on paper looks perfect. Historic African-American leader who is universally respected by Republicans and Democrats in Illinois, alike. The problem with this pick is that White is 74 years old and would be 76 on election day 2010. Meaning, he probably doesn’t run for re-election and an open Senate seat in Illinois could get very crowded and very ugly.

Odds: 15-1

5. Jesse Jackson Jr.-This is who I think it will be. My main disagreement with brownsox’s analysis is that he didn’t include the role race will play in this decision. Their is only 1 African-American senator right now and if he wins the presidency and is replaced by a white person, Blago could alienate a large slice of the Democratic electorate. This issue would be compounded by the fact that, other than Erik Fleming against Thad Cochoran, there are no African-Americans running for US Senate this cycle. That means the 09-10 Congress will ahve no African-American represenation. If you don’t think Blago’s primary opponent will use that to his advantage, your out of your mind. The one concern about Jesse Jackson Jr. is his dad and the view that this could make him unelectable statewide, but he’s not his dad.

By what margin will Bob Shamansky win?

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The Other New Senator in the 111th Congress

There’s going to be a healthy amount of turnover in the Senate; even if the Democrats don’t pick up any seats in 2008 (OK, OK, you can stop laughing now), there will still be at least five new faces because of the retirements of Warner, Allard, Domenici, Hagel, and Craig. However, there’s also going to be at least a sixth new face in the Senate, because, barring something really weird happening, either Barack Obama or John McCain is going to be the next President in January, opening up one more seat to be filled by appointment until 2010 (the next general election, but also when Obama and McCain’s terms would end anyway). Unlike the rest of the Senate races, that’s one race we can’t handicap, because we have no idea who the candidates are, and there’s going to be only one voter: either Rod Blagojevich or Janet Napolitano.

This is in the news today because Robert Novak is alleging that Nancy Pelosi has been talking up Rahm Emanuel as the replacement senator. (This being Novak, the safe response might be to assume the exact opposite of what he’s saying. Just consider it a conversation starter.) He described Pelosi as “enthusiastic about Emanuel’s elevation to the Senate.” (Although she might be most enthusiastic about getting one-half of the Hoyer/Emanuel tag-team off her back.)

It seems unlikely to me that Blagojevich would pick Emanuel, though, because Emanuel doesn’t help Blagojevich with either of his competing needs: the pressure to appoint another African-American so that number of black senators doesn’t drop back down to 0, and the desire to move his strongest intra-party competition to Washington and out of his hair. (It also might seem a demotion for Emanuel, who is at the #4 slot in the House as Conference chair, and given his age, a likely candidate for Speaker in the 2020s.)

Probably the most frequently mentioned African-American contender for the position is Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Jackson is young (41), he’s progressive (near the top of the House, with a Progressive Punch score of about 99), he’s been an effective Obama surrogate, he’d leave behind as safely-Democratic a House seat as can be imagined, and he has name recognition.

Other mentioned African-American contenders include Rep. Bobby Rush (who’s been in IL-01 for many years and is 62), Sec. of State Jesse White (a well-liked longtime fixture in Illinois politics, but 76 years old), State Senate President Emil Jones (who’s a key Blagojevich ally in the legislature, but who’s 72), and State Senator James Claybourne (who’s only 44, but unlike these other contenders, not a Chicagoan (he’s from Belleville, next to E. St. Louis) – and with Dick Durbin already senator, a second Downstate senator is unlikely). One other possibility I saw mentioned was giving Carol Mosely-Braun her old seat back, although given her inability to hold the seat in the first place, that doesn’t seem likely.

The other camp consists of people Blagojevich might like to deport from Illinois by promoting them: Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Comptroller Dan Hynes. It’s unclear whether Blagojevich intends to run for a third term in 2010 (he’s eligible to do so, although given his ethical problems and low approval ratings, it seems he’s likely to head for the exits at that point), but if he does, he’s likely to face primary opposition from one or both of them. And even if he doesn’t run, these two have oversight of his activities and have been constant thorns in his side (and, with one of them in Washington, could then be replaced with one of his own appointees).

Whether or not Blagojevich is an obstacle, either Madigan or Hynes is likely to be the next governor of Illinois. Madigan is 41; Hynes is 39. They’re both well-connected to Illinois machine politics (Madigan’s dad is state house speaker Michael Madigan; Hynes’s dad is former Cook County assessor Thomas Hynes.) One consideration is that Hynes has shown more desire to go to Washington rather than aiming for governor; Hynes ran for the Democratic Senate nomination in 2004, finishing second to Obama in the primary.

Finally, there are several other names who get mentioned but don’t fit into either category: Rep. Jan Schakowsky from IL-09 (she’s also one of the most progressive members of the House and wields a fair amount of leadership clout there, but she’s 64 and has some ethical baggage associated with fraud charges against her husband Robert Creamer), and Illinois Veterans Affairs Dept. Director Tammy Duckworth of IL-06 fame (she brings diversity and Iraq War vet status to the table, but has never actually won an election before). And it can’t be discounted entirely that Blagojevich might appoint himself, since a Senate seat would give him a new career without term limits… although he’d face the same electoral liabilities in 2010 facing Senate re-election as if he were running again for governor.

Turning to Arizona, some of you might be licking your chops, anticipating another Democratic senator, appointed by Janet Napolitano, as the consolation prize in the event of a McCain victory, but that’s not the case. Arizona is one of several states (along with Alaska, Hawaii, Utah, and Wyoming) where the appointed interim senator must be of the same party as the departing senator.

This becomes an interesting strategic decision for Napolitano, though: does she take the easy way out and appoint the Republican who’s at the top of the queue? That would most likely be Jan Brewer, who is Secretary of State and, since Arizona has no Lt. Governor, the state’s #2 person. However, it could be one of the current representatives, most likely John Shadegg, who has more seniority and a higher profile than Trent Franks or Jeff Flake.

Does she appoint the Republican who, ideologically, is likely to suck the least (moderate ex-Rep. Jim Kolbe, who was in AZ-08 for many years, comes to mind), who would be vulnerable to a right-wing primary effort but difficult in a general election?

Or does she try to game the system by appointing the Republican who would provide two years of dislikable right-wing insanity and then an easy opponent in the 2010 general election (when, not coincidentally, Napolitano herself would be term-limited and looking for a new job)? That could be ex-Rep. and professional loudmouth J.D. Hayworth, or, for maximum comedic effect, former State Rep. Randy Graf. (It still probably wouldn’t include current Rep. Rick Renzi, who’s likely to consider 2009 a good year if it involves staying out of prison.)

Related posts:

Whom Might Blagojevich Appoint? (from August 2007)