SSP Daily Digest: 8/7

CT-Sen: Here’s some good news for Chris Dodd (and also Kent Conrad, although he’s not facing any danger at home): the Senate Ethics Committee found that no Senate gift rules were broken by accepting VIP mortgages from Countrywide. Perception-wise, though, this is a case where the damage has probably already been done.

FL-Sen: Marco Rubio has issued some demands to Charlie Crist, regarding Mel Martinez’s now-vacant Senate seat: appoint someone conservative, and appoint an “interim” senator (i.e. not Crist). TPM also cites NRO’s Jim Geraghty as hearing rumors that the pick may be former Republican Gov. Bob Martinez (no relation to Mel), a conservative (although registered as a Democrat when nonpartisan mayor of Tampa) who served one term, 1986-1990. Bob Martinez is 74, and of Spanish ancestry rather than Cuban.

IL-Gov: It still seems like a strange choice to me, but Comptroller Dan Hynes (runner-up to some guy named Barack Obama in the 2004 Democratic Senate primary) made it official yesterday. He’ll be running in the primary against incumbent Governor Pat Quinn, who’s been sporting surprisingly good approval ratings (by virtue of not being Rod Blagojevich, I suppose) and already managed to deter the much stronger Lisa Madigan from a primary fight. The primary is a ridiculously-early Feb. 2.

NJ-Gov: One more poll in the New Jersey governor’s race came out yesterday, painting a worse picture than yesterday’s not-terrible R2K. Rasmussen finds a 13-point spread, 50-37, for Chris Christie over Jon Corzine. That’s right in line with’s rolling average, which is 50-38 today.

UT-Gov: Utah Governor Jon Huntsman was confirmed as ambassador to China today, to no one’s surprise. Once he resigns, Republican Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert will be promoted but will face a special election in 2010.

VA-Gov: Creigh Deeds has taken on some criticism in recent weeks in the wake of flagging polls, for ignoring northern Virginia and focusing on his white rural base too much. He seems to be remedying that with his newest wave of radio ads, targeting Hispanic and black voters. On top of that, of course, was yesterday’s appearance with Barack Obama in McLean in NoVa.

CA-47: Republican Assemblyman Van Tran, who’s running against Loretta Sanchez in the 47th, got some bad PR last night. Tran was disruptive enough at the scene of a drunk-driving accident involving Westminster city councilor Andy Quach that he was threatened with arrest unless he returned to his car. (Tran was apparently called to the scene to act as Quach’s attorney, rather than a passenger.)

IL-10: State Rep. Julie Hamos got a boost in her quest to win the Democratic primary in the open-seat battle to replace Rep. Mark Kirk. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who represents the next-door 9th, endorsed Hamos, the first high-profile endorsement in the race.

SC-04: Republican Rep. Bob Inglis laid down the law at his town hall the other night, telling Screamers at the event to turn off the Glenn Beck and tune out the fear-mongering. One more clue that the increasingly-sane Inglis, who’s facing several high-profile primary challengers (most notably state Sen. David Thomas) in a dark-red district, is becoming the 2010 cycle’s likeliest GOP primary casualty.

IL-Sen: Kirk Plans To Get In

It took only a few hours for Mark Kirk to emerge from whatever wormhole he’s been in since he shirked his end-of-April timeline on deciding what to run for. Politico is reporting:

Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) is telling supporters that he will be running for President Obama’s old Senate seat in Illinois, according to several GOP sources familiar with his conversations. Since news broke that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) wasn’t running for the Senate, Kirk has been calling leading donors and GOP operatives to inform them he plans to run for the Senate.

As we’d reported several months ago, rumor was that Kirk was likely to go for a promotion to Senator or Governor, but that he’d meekly go wherever AG Lisa Madigan didn’t go. With Madigan announcing earlier today that she wouldn’t be running for either one, Kirk got his pick… and he chose the one his big stash of campaign cash is transferable to.

RaceTracker: IL-Sen

IL-Sen, IL-Gov: Madigan Declines to Run For Either One

Chris Cillizza is reporting that:

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) will run for re-election to her current post in 2010, according to a Democratic source aware of the decision, ending months of speculation about whether she might make the leap to a Senate or gubernatorial bid.

Like everyone else, I’m a little surprised, since polling indicated that Madigan would win either race handily and could basically have her pick of which promotion she wanted. Her rationale, though, I would guess, is that she has always had her heart set on Governor and becoming a Senator would be a distraction toward that end… and with new Governor Pat Quinn having quickly become fairly popular and solidified his status, she may feel she’s young enough to not have to roll the dice by rushing into primarying him out (and maybe she’d rather wait until the economy improves and being Governor is a less onerous job).

While this makes the 2010 Governor’s race pretty boring — Pat Quinn likely to romp over a second-string state Senator to be named later — this now makes the Senate race very interesting, as Rep. Mark Kirk may be much likelier to get in (giving the GOP a competitive figure, but also opening up IL-10 for us), and it may also attract more Dems to the crowded field (currently including Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, Kennedy Chris Kennedy, Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Jackson, and possibly incumbent placeholder Roland Burris). (H/t fitchfan28.)

RaceTracker: IL-Gov | IL-Sen

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: 6/19

FL-Sen: Here’s a pretty serious repudiation of Charlie Crist by the GOP party faithful. At a county party straw poll in Pasco County (Tampa exurbs, one county removed from Crist’s Pinellas County home), Marco Rubio beat Crist 73 to 9. Luckily for Crist, the primary electorate includes a much broader sample than the party’s diehard activist base who actually show up for meetings… but this shows just how badly things are for him with the base.

IL-Sen: Bad news for AG Lisa Madigan, whose list of demands for a Senate race include an Obama endorsement, a cleared field, and no brown M&Ms at the catering table: Barack Obama announced that he wouldn’t be endorsing anyone in the Senate race. Good news for Roland Burris, on the other hand: a state prosecutor has decided that Burris won’t face perjury charges over his vague statements to the state legislature about his appointment to the Senate by disgraced former governor Rod Blagojevich.

KY-Sen: SoS Trey Grayson has decided to start fundraising like a madman in the coming weeks, scheduling eight more events before the end of the fundraising quarter in June. Grayson opened his exploratory committee on May 6, so he has had only half-a-quarter in which to try to top Jim Bunning.

MN-Sen: The FEC released two draft opinions that, if enacted by the full commission, will prevent Norm Coleman from tapping his campaign funds for his legal defense fees associated with his FBI investigation. (This doesn’t affect the costs of paying for the recount, which are paid in part by the Coleman Minnesota Recount Committee instead.)

CA-Gov: Has anyone noticed that LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who everyone assumes is running for Governor, hasn’t taken any steps toward running for Governor? The folks at Calitics have noticed, and the fact that Villaraigosa (whose popularity in LA seems to be faltering) just took over the 2nd VP role for the US Conference of Mayors (which puts him on track to become the organization’s president in 2011) is another tea leaf that he won’t run. If he doesn’t run, that just leaves an all-Bay Area clash between old (Jerry Brown) and new (Gavin Newsom) for the Dem nod.

MN-Gov: GOP state Rep. Paul Kohls from Minneapolis’s western exurbs has announced his candidacy for the Minnesota governor’s race. He joins former GOP state Rep. Bill Haas as official candidates, but at least a dozen more people seem intent on entering the race.

FL-15: Rep. Bill Posey got nothing but scorn when he aligned himself with the most tinfoil elements of the GOP in introducing his birther legislation, but he’s just ratcheting up the crazy. Posey picked up four more co-sponsors (Culberson, Carter, Neugebauer, and Campbell). Also, while being interviewed on WorldNetDaily’s radio show about the bill, Posey outright accused Barack Obama of hiding something and, for good measure, tried launching a feud with Rachel Maddow.

NM-01: Jon Barela, a former vice-chair of the New Mexico GOP and former head of the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce, officially announced his candidacy against Rep. Martin Heinrich. He did so with the endorsement of 2008 candidate Sheriff Darren White. While it’s now a D+5 district, it’s almost half Latino, so Barela could make some noise if he gets some traction in the Latino community.

OH-08: Speaker Minority leader John Boehner got a break: his would-be primary challenger, iconoclastic Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones, has opted not to get in the race. This frees Boehner up to spend more of summer of 2010 fundraising for other House candidates, or at least working on his tan.

VA-05: Very little has been happening in VA-05 while everyone waits to see whether ex-Rep. Virgil Goode will try to get his old job back from Rep. Tom Perriello in this GOP-leaning district in rural Virginia. One GOPer isn’t waiting, though: Cordel Faulk is publicly considering the race. Faulk hasn’t held office, but he has an interesting job; he’s the spokesman for Charlottesville-based professor and pundit Larry Sabato.

NY-St. Senate: With the New York State Senate collapsed into a 31-31 tie, turncoat Dem (and, for now, Senate president and thus acting Lt. Gov.) Pedro Espada Jr. has come up with a rather novel legal theory in the absence of any constitutional clarification: he gets two votes, one ordinary vote as Senator and one tie-breaker vote as LG. Of course, nobody else seems to think this, and other theories are popping up as to who might get a tie-breaking vote (Former LG and current Gov. David Paterson? Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver?) if the Senators can’t figure out how to break the deadlock themselves. Meanwhile, a likely primary challenger to Espada has already popped up: Haile Rivera, an activist and ally of city councilor Eric Gioia who had previously been planning his own city council run this year.

SSP Daily Digest: 6/18

IL-Sen: AG Lisa Madigan is apparently warming up to the idea of running for Senate instead of Governor (thanks to some entreaties from some big players — Madigan met with Barack Obama at the White House last week). However, according to the Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet, she has some demands: she wants an endorsement from Obama when she announces, and she wants the field cleared of rivals.

That’s potentially very awk-ward, though, as state Treasurer (and, more notably, Friend of Barack) Alexi Giannoulias is already in the race, and has been fundraising very well (Madigan is sitting on $4 million, but that’s marked for a governor’s race and can’t be transferred to a federal race, so she’d be back to square one). Giannoulias issued a strong statement today that he wouldn’t be “bullied” out of the race, and sought to tie Madigan to party insiders. And even if Obama does manage to dangle some sort of carrot to entice Giannoulias out of the race, does he have the same sort of traction with Chris Kennedy, who also looks set to get in?

NC-Sen: Here’s not the way to rebut polls showing you in bad shape: with a transparently pathetic internal poll. The Richard Burr camp points to a poll that reveals him “winning” (albeit with no specific topline numbers) against SoS Elaine Marshall, but with the head-to-head question asked only after questions as to which of the two would better serve as a “check and balance on the policies of Barack Obama.” No results against other interested Dems (like Mike McIntyre) were discussed.

NH-Sen: More focus today on the possibility of Kelly Ayotte for the GOP Senate nomination. Attorney General in NH is an appointed position, so she’s never faced voters before, but that may be an asset; the rest of the state’s GOP bench, in Chuck Todd’s words, “all seem to have the smell of defeat on them.” Meanwhile, Rahm Emanuel will be hosting a DC fundraiser for Rep. Paul Hodes later this month, as Hodes (who banked only $260K in 1Q) looks to pick up the fundraising pace.

NV-Sen: In an example of the law of unintended consequences, John Ensign’s little indiscretions are further complicating the Nevada GOP’s efforts to find a suitable challenger to Harry Reid, as insiders get distracted by assessing the fallout. If today is any indication, it looks like the fallout is growing, not shrinking, with allegations of a second affair, and Ensign walking back his initial “extortion” claims in view of the complicated financial links between Ensign and the Hampton clan. For emphasis, if there were any doubt about it, ex-Rep. Jon Porter confirmed today that he won’t be running against Reid.

SD-Gov, SD-AL: Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin hasn’t ruled out running for Governor in 2010; she said she’ll make a decision by the August recess.

CA-03: Many insiders seem settled on CA-03 as the Democrats’ top target in California next year. Unbeknownst to many, there’s a third Democrat in the race against Rep. Dan Lungren, physician Ami Bera, who got in in April… and he’s actually been fundraising like a champ, claiming he’s on pace to have $250K at the end of June.

CA-44: CA-44 seems like a good place for a pickup, too, especially now that Rep. Ken Calvert is getting softened up with a primary challenge from his friendly neighborhood teabagger. Real estate broker Chris Riggs said the race would be a “litmus test” and referred to Calvert as a “big tax-and-spend incumbent.”

FL-08: State House speaker Larry Cretul (who just took over the job in March, in the wake of former speaker Ray Sansom’s corruption indictment) may already be looking to move up. He’s been talking to the NRCC about taking on Rep. Alan Grayson in this Dem-trending R+2 district. This may push out state Rep. Steve Precourt, who said he wouldn’t want to share a primary with Cretul. Cretul might still face an uphill battle in a primary, though, as his base is in Marion County, rather than the district’s population center of Orange County, where another likely GOPer candidate, Rich Crotty, is mayor.

MS-01: State Sen. Merle Flowers has decided to forego a challenge to Cold Chillin’ Travis (apparently at the behest of the NRCC), clearing a path for fellow Sen. Alan Nunnelee – for now. Others may get in, and in a move reminiscent of the disastrous post-primary period last year, Flowers did not endorse Nunnelee. The big advantage for Nunnelee is that he, like Childers, is from the Tupelo region, whereas Flowers (like Greg Davis) is from DeSoto County in the south Memphis suburbs. (D)

DSCC/DCCC: Tonight’s DSCC/DCCC fundraiser with Barack Obama is projected to raise $3 million, an amount that seems kind of weak compared with the $14.5 million haul from the NRCC/NRSC dinner a few weeks earlier. However, lobbyists were banned from the event, and the GOP haul involves some accounting sleight of hand, as the $14.5 million is the two committees’ entire fundraising haul over the eight-week period since early April. In addition, there’s a lower-profile fundraising breakfast/”issues conference” planned for Friday morning where there’s no Obama appearance but also no lobbyist ban in place.

Census: It looks like we might break the logjam that’s keeping incoming Census Director Robert Groves from being confirmed; it appears he’s part of a blanket hold on several dozen nominees, not a specific hold, and Susan Collins is happy with Groves and working with Democrats to get him in place. In other Census news, the tinfoil-hat wingnuts intent on avoiding and/or lying to the Census have a high-profile supporter: Rep. Michele Bachmann, who says she won’t answer any questions on her form beyond number of people in her house. Because, y’know, if you told Uncle Sam how many bathrooms are in your house, ACORN might somehow win.

Voting Rights: An interesting trio of voting rights bills passed committee in the House last week to little fanfare: most notably, the Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act (which guarantees no-excuse absentee voting in all states, something that’s still restricted in 22 states right now). Also passed were legislation providing grants to help states provide absentee ballot tracking and confirmation systems, and preventing state election officials from serving on federal campaign committees.

SSP Daily Digest: 6/17

IL-Sen: AG Lisa Madigan is still under a lot of pressure from inside the Beltway to move over from her preferred race (Governor) to the Senate race instead. Thing is, the pressure seems to be working (and the fact that Pat Quinn remains pretty popular also helps): she says she’s “seriously considering it” and will decide within “four to six weeks” whether to run for gov, senate, or another term as AG.

KY-Sen: SoS Trey Grayson is still treating Jim Bunning as undecided about running for a third term, despite the crotchety Bunning’s many protestations, Abe Simpson-style, that he ain’t dead yet. While saying that he has “no plans to run against him right now,” Grayson says he’d have a better answer to the question “after next month, when Bunning makes a decision….” Still, he says “I don’t suspect that (having to run against Bunning) would be a problem,” if Bunning stays in the GOP primary. The remarks were made at a poorly-attended (as in less than 50) Grayson fundraiser in Corbin.

MO-Sen: Rep. Roy Blunt can’t catch a break. No sooner than professor Tom Schweich bailed out and former Treasurer Sarah Steelman’s message discipline came completely unglued, along comes yet another likely primary challenger: state Senator Chuck Purgason, who formed an exploratory committee. It sounds like he’ll be going at Blunt from the right (Purgason is known for his “country-western fashion sense and iron-clad fiscal conservatism,” and said we must “stop the ‘changing’ of America”).

NC-Sen (pdf): Good polling news out of North Carolina, according to PPP: Generic Democrat leads Richard Burr, 41-38. (There’s still the little matter of nailing down a candidate, of course.) Only 29% overall (and 49% of Republicans) think he deserves another term, while 49% say give someone else a chance. Burr’s approval is 34/35, with a 31% “not sure,” which is still crazily high for a sitting senator.

NH-Sen: Senatorial speculation for the GOP in the Granite State has turned to AG Kelly Ayotte. (AG is an appointed position in New Hampshire; Ayotte was appointed by ex-Gov. Craig Benson, but retained by John Lynch.) Still, everything seems to be on hold until fall, when the younger John Sununu is supposed to make known his senate intentions. Dean at Blue Hampshire observes ex-Rep. Charlie Bass (another possible Senate, or NH-02, candidate) getting a little testy about having to wait for Sununu Jr. to make up his mind (or for Sununu Sr. to make up Jr.’s mind).

NY-Sen-B: Rep. Carolyn Maloney keeps ratcheting up her attacks on Kirsten Gillibrand, focusing increasingly on character and credibility. She hit Gillibrand’s “evolving” stances and said “She’s, to my knowledge, never passed anything. She spends all her time fund-raising. I spend my time doing things.” Meanwhile, Gillibrand rolled out the endorsements of 52 of the 62 Democratic Party county chairs in New York. That seems huge, but only half the population of New York state is accounted for, as they have yet to endorse in New York, Kings, Queens, Bronx, Richmond, and Suffolk Counties.

CA-Gov: Rep. John Campbell from CA-48 in Orange County endorsed Insurance Comm. Steve Poizner a few months ago, but he recently dropped that endorsement and then this week endorsed ex-eBay CEO Meg Whitman instead. Campbell’s explanation is that when he first endorsed Poizner, Whitman wasn’t in the race yet and he had never met her. (This Campbell, of course, is not to be confused with ex-Rep. Tom Campbell, who’s the third wheel in the GOP gubernatorial primary.)

LA-03, LA-Sen: GOP state Rep. Nickie Monica, who has recently met with officials at the NRCC, is telling his contacts that he’s planning on running against Democrat Charlie Melancon. Meanwhile, faced with the prospect of a strong challenge and the looming uncertainties of redistricting, Melancon is still giving a race against GOP Sen. David Vitter a “pretty hard” look, according to a “Democratic insider.” (J)

NY-23: Republican state Senator Joe Griffo, who’s based outside the district in Rome but whose turf overlaps part of the 23rd, said he won’t run in the special election. For the Dems, veteran Danny Francis (who ran twice against McHugh in the 1990s) said he’ll seek the nomination. Dem state Senator Darrel Aubertine shot down speculation that he’d fielded a call from Barack Obama about the seat, although he did cop to talking to DCCC recruitment guru Steve Israel about it.

OH-15: ’08 candidate/ex-state Sen. Steve Stivers says that he’ll make up his mind on a rematch against Mary Jo Kilroy by the 4th of July, but Ohio Republicans apparently feel very confident that he’ll jump into the race. (J)

PA-06, PA-Gov: Rep. Jim Gerlach has set a deadline of “this summer” for deciding whether to jump into the 2010 governor’s race — although he certainly seems to be moving to do so, positioning himself message-wise as the only GOPer who’s dealt with fiscal issues in a legislature. In the meantime, GOP power brokers are getting antsy that Gerlach’s delay in announcing his plans are complicating their efforts to hold this D+4 seat (although GOP state Rep. Curt Schroder is already warming up in the bullpen, having opened an exploratory committee).

Votes: The war supplemental passed the House 226-202 yesterday, with 32 Democrats and 5 Republicans breaking ranks. The GOPers fall under the ‘moderate’ umbrella: Cao, King, Kirk, Candace Miller, and John McHugh (for whom a ‘no’ vote would be awk-ward, as the incoming Sec. of the Army). The Dems are generally the most liberal few dozen, although with a few eyebrow-raising exceptions (Eric Massa, maybe most notably): Baldwin, Capuano, Conyers, Doggett, Donna Edwards, Ellison, Farr, Filner, Grayson, Grijalva, Honda, Kaptur, Kucinich, Barbara Lee, Lofgren, Massa, McGovern, Michaud, Payne, Pingree, Polis, Serrano, Shea-Porter, Sherman, Speier, Stark, Tierney, Tsongas, Waters, Watson, Welch, and Woolsey.  

SSP Daily Digest: 5/21

LA-Sen: David Vitter may get a serious primary challenger after all (Family Research Council honcho Tony Perkins and ex-Rep. John Cooksey have declined, and SoS Jay Dardenne has been laying low). It’s someone we haven’t seen in a while, though: former state Elections commissioner Suzanne Haik Terrell, who let her interest be known last week. Terrell’s last appearance in the spotlight was the 2002 Senate race, where she lost narrowly to Mary Landrieu. Terrell is the only Republican woman to have ever held office in Louisiana.

NY-Sen-B: Like a giant game of Whack-a-mole, Kirsten Gillibrand jammed a couple potential primary challengers back into their holes last week, but now a new one popped up: Rep. Jose Serrano. The Bronx-based Serrano might be able to make a lot of hay out of the immigration issue, but he may not have the cash to make a race of it (although as an Appropriations cardinal, he’s well-connected). Meanwhile, Gillibrand nailed down endorsements from three other Reps. — John Hall, Mike Arcuri, and Scott Murphy — as well as Nassau County Dem party chair Jay Jacobs (important because he has a lot of sway over Rep. Carolyn McCarthy).

PA-Sen: Roll Call tried to pin down the Democratic House members from Pennsylvania on whether or not they’d endorse Arlen Specter in a potential Democratic primary with Rep. Joe Sestak. Interestingly, PA’s most liberal Dem, Chaka Fattah, was probably the most enthusiastic and unconditional endorser of Specter, while its most conservative Dem, Jason Altmire, was most reluctant to offer an endorsement one way or the other, although more out of admiration for Sestak than on ideological grounds. Tim Holden also endorsed Specter and Bob Brady came as close as possible to it, while Patrick Murphy took a “wait and see” attitude and the others simply punted the question.

AR-Sen: State Senator Kim Hendren (having recently shot himself in the foot by calling Charles Schumer “that Jew”) is now vacillating and may not run in the GOP Senate primary after all, despite having announced his candidacy.

IL-Sen: Here’s some confirmation on what we speculated last week: Rep. Mark Kirk isn’t lost in space; he’s just deferring any decisions on the Senate race because he’s waiting to see what AG Lisa Madigan does. He reportedly won’t run for Senate if Madigan does.

FL-Gov: Ag Commissioner Charles Bronson will announce today that he won’t run for the open governor’s seat, leaving an unimpeded path to the GOP nomination for AG Bill McCollum. Bronson is term-limited out of his job in 2010 and looking to move up, but couldn’t buck the pressure from state chair Jim Greer — I mean, the guy doesn’t have a Death Wish.

CO-Gov: Ex-Rep. Scott McInnis officially filed yesterday to enter the Colorado governor’s race, amidst sniping that he started soliciting funds before filing his campaign paperwork. State Senate minority leader Josh Penry also launched into an oblique attack on McInnis, suggesting he might be interested in a primary battle.

CA-Gov: Dianne Feinstein, occasionally rumored to be interested in what has to be the least desirable job in America (California governor), has said that she “might” run for governor next year, depending on her assessment of the other candidates’ plans for dealing with California’s seemingly perpetual budget crisis. Polls that have included Feinstein have shown her dominating the race if she got in.

IL-13: 71-year-old Rep. Judy Biggert just confirmed that she’ll be running for re-election in 2010, despite a return engagement with Scott Harper, who held her to 54%, and the district’s shift to only R+1. (Of course, her inclusion in the first round of 10 in the NRCC’s Patriots program Tuesday showed her hand already.)

AL-02: Republicans have at least one candidate lined up to go against Rep. Bobby Bright as he seeks his first re-election in this R+16 district: 32-year-old Montgomery city councilor and attorney Martha Roby. GOP State Rep. Jay Love, who narrowly lost to Bright last time, may also try again.

MI-13: Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, who narrowly won a 3-way primary in 2008, may have to face off against both of the same challengers again in 2010: state Sen. Martha Scott and former state Rep. Mary Waters. Former interim mayor Ken Cockrel also is mentioned as interested. Kilpatrick may be less vulnerable in 2010, though, as the brouhaha surrounding her son (former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick) recedes in the distance.

Maps: Here’s another interesting map for the geography nerds out there. It’s a map of which party controls all the state House seats throughout the South. (It’s a lot bluer than you might initially think.)

SSP Daily Digest: 5/14

NJ-Gov: Believe it or not, we’re in the home stretch heading toward the June 2 primary in the New Jersey governor’s race, and Rasmussen takes a quick look at the GOP primary field. US Attorney Chris Christie leads former Bogota mayor Steve Lonegan 39-29, with 3% voting for someone else and 29% still undecided. That’s a lot of undecideds with just a few weeks to go, and I have no way of knowing whether they’d tend to break for the better-known establishment figure of Christie, or the anti-tax raging of Lonegan.

TX-Sen: The last thing John Cornyn wants is a special election on his watch at the NRSC, but he may get one anyway. Despite his pressure on fellow Texan Kay Bailey Hutchison to remain in place while she runs for Governor, Cornyn is now publicly warning to expect her resignation “this fall sometime.”

PA-Sen: Seems like the GOP is going through its whole Rolodex looking for someone more normal than Pat Toomey to run in the Pennsylvania primary. Two of the more moderate members of the Keystone State’s House delegation, Charlie Dent and Todd Platts, felt compelled to announce today that they won’t be running. Dent, in fact, endorsed Toomey, the previous holder of PA-15 (making him the first PA House GOPer to endorse Toomey).

AR-Sen: State Senator Kim Hendren, the GOP’s only candidate so far against Blanche Lincoln (and they may want to keep looking…), has been in politics a long time (one claim to fame is that he lost a gubernatorial race to Bill Clinton). But now he actually seems to be caught in a timewarp from a different century. Today he’s trying to walk back having called Chuck Schumer “that Jew” (and, in doing so, tried using The Andy Griffith Show by way of explaining himself).

IL-Sen: Speaking of shifts in the space-time continuum, Mark Tiberius Kirk’s end-of-April deadline on announcing his Senate plans has seemingly disappeared into a wormhole, while the GOP waits impatiently for him to emerge at the other end. (No backup date for a decision has been set.) A likely explanation is that he’s waiting to see what Lisa Madigan does, and he may meekly go wherever she doesn’t.

SC-Gov: Who would’ve guessed that the South Carolina governor’s race would be one of 2010’s hottest tickets? Two more GOPers are trying to hop onto that ride: state Senator Larry Grooms, who officially launched a campaign, and state Rep. Nikki Haley, who now says she’s considering it. (Haley is a young rising star who’s a close ally of Mark Sanford and the hardcore anti-taxers.) They’d join Rep. Gresham Barrett and professor Brent Nelsen, as well as likely candidates Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and AG Henry McMaster, in the hunt for the GOP nod.

NC-08: Freshman Rep. Larry Kissell has drawn a potential opponent with no previous political background, but very high name rec: Mike Minter, who was safety for the Carolina Panthers for 10 years until recently retiring. Kissell handily beat incumbent Rep. Robin Hayes in 2008 in this now R+2 district, but Minter, who’s still scoping out the race, is well-connected in the local megachurch community and could also eat into Kissell’s African-American support. Minter is apparently looking with Hayes’ encouragement, suggesting that the 10-year Congressman is looking to spend more time with his money instead of seeking out a rematch.

NRSC: Here’s a double shot of John Cornyn news: in another one of his occasional reality-based moments, Cornyn slapped down strange remarks by his NRCC counterpart, Rep. Pete Sessions, alleging that Barack Obama is intentionally sabotaging the American economy. When asked if he was comfortable with Sessions still leading the NRCC, Cornyn equivocated, deferring the judgment of the House Republicans on the matter. (Because “judgment” and “House Republicans” always go together so well.)

SSP Daily Digest: 5/13

IL-Sen: Tempted by Lisa Madigan’s titanic poll numbers against all comers, and her public statement of reconsidering the Senate race, the DSCC has started actively courting Madigan to get into the Senate race. This news comes from Madigan herself, who still maintains that her main focus is the governor’s race (but, if you read the fine print, seems to be firing warning shots across Chris Kennedy’s bow to keep him from jumping into the Senate race). Madigan’s interest can’t be good news for Alexi Giannoulias, especially as concerns over his handling of the state college savings program are taking a bit of the bloom off his rose.

FL-Sen: Movement conservatives are tying themselves in knots trying to decide how to react to apostate Charlie Crist’s entry into the Senate race in Florida. The Club for Growth gave a tepid reaction, saying that Crist can still redeem himself by opposing the tax hikes proposed in the new state budget. On the other hand, Grover Norquist, the CfG’s patron saint, sounded a note of realpolitik, saying that Crist may be the best candidate “in Florida.” The conservative blogosphere, however, isn’t giving an inch, trying to organize a boycott on giving funds to the NRSC after John Cornyn weighed in on Crist’s behalf.

MN-Sen: Norm Coleman is getting buried under legal bills, and not all of them are related to his tiresome contesting of Al Franken’s election. He just requested for FEC permission to start tapping his campaign funds for defense attorney fees related to allegations that sketchy Coleman benefactor Nasser Kazeminy was funneling payouts to Coleman through Coleman’s wife. Would GOP donors be willing to keep funding Coleman if they knew their donations were going to his defense attorneys and not the futile Franken fight? That hasn’t stopped Coleman’s Senate friends from continuing to solicit donations for him, as compiled in this video.

MO-Sen: Rep. Roy Blunt pulled down a couple of expected but important endorsements in his quest to become Missouri’s next Senator: Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, the last member of Missouri’s House Republicans to get behind him, and Sen. Kit Bond, whose seat Blunt is looking to fill.

OH-15: Ohio voters may get the chance to add even more Steves to their House delegation. Former GOP state Sen. Steve Stivers, who narrowly lost the open seat race in OH-15 to Mary Jo Kilroy last year, is contemplating another shot at the race, with lots of urging from John Boehner. (Ex-Rep. Steve Chabot is already committed to a rematch against Rep. Steve Driehaus in nearby OH-01.)

SC-02: Speaking of rematches, backbench GOP Rep. Joe Wilson will have to face off again versus Iraq vet Rob Miller, who held Wilson to a surprising 54-46 margin in 2008 without DCCC help. Miller should be able to count on a higher-profile run this time.

Mayors: City councilor Jim Suttle squeaked past Republican Hal Daub (former mayor and Representative) to hold the open Omaha mayor’s seat for Democrats. (The position is officially nonpartisan, but the race was fought along clearly partisan lines, which favored Suttle as Democrats hold a 44-33 registration edge within the city.) Suttle won by 1,500 votes, by a 51-49 margin.