SSP Daily Digest: 1/6

NE-Sen: After a few months in exploratory committee purgatory (and after screwing up many of the documents associated with said committee), Republican AG Jon Bruning has made it official. He’s now upgraded to Candidate, against Ben Nelson in the 2012 Senate race.

TX-Sen: Local insiders seem to think that Kay Bailey Hutchison is increasingly moving toward another run for Senate in 2012 (after having postponed her resignation a number of times amidst the gubernatorial race, and then having dropped the subject altogether). That speculation seems based mostly on her sheer silence on the issue, though.

IA-Gov: On his way out the door, outgoing Gov. Chet Culver talked up state Sen. majority leader Mike Gronstal as a possible 2014 gubernatorial candidate for the Dems. Culver said Gronstal won’t suffer for his reluctance to put gay marriage up for a statewide vote, which seems to be one of the state’s big flashpoints right now.

WA-Gov, WA-08: This is very unexpected, considering that GOP AG Rob McKenna has had the 2012 gubernatorial nomination staked out for about six years now, but Rep. Dave Reichert is publicly expressing some (or at least not ruling out) interest in a gubernatorial run (a race he’d been encouraged to run in 2004 back when he was King Co. Sheriff, although he ran for House instead). I’m sure local GOPers would prefer he run for Senate, where no viable GOP nominee seems to be on the horizon, rather than creating a fractious gubernatorial primary that might hobble their best shot in decades at winning the governorship. Actually, I’m sure they’d prefer he continue to hold down WA-08 rather than open up the 8th while embarking on a fool’s errand against Maria Cantwell, and with redistricting likely to give him a safer district in Seattle’s southeastern exurbs while opening up a solid-blue WA-10 on the true Eastside, that’s probably what he’ll keep on doing.

CO-03: New Gov. John Hickenlooper just appointed recently-defeated Rep. John Salazar as the state’s agriculture commissioner. Salazar has already said he was open to a rematch with Scott Tipton; the question is whether this makes a rematch less likely or if it’s designed to keep him in the public spotlight. (Speaking of Hickenlooper, if you haven’t read the NYT Magazine section’s long profile of him, it’s worth a read.)

FL-25: Add one more mysterious bit of financial information to the mounting pile of sleaze that’s engulfing David Rivera in his first week on the job: he sold a condominium to his mother’s marketing company (the same company that’s under criminal investigation for its relationship to the Flagler Dog Track) in November, shortly before he paid off $137K in undisclosed loans… also to that same marketing company.

IA-03: Buried in an article on the Iowa redistricting conundrum, which will see the state compacted to four House districts, is an important piece of unexpected news: septuagenarian Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell, who’s been a prime candidate for retirement for a number of cycles now, tells Roll Call that he will be running again in 2012, regardless of what district he gets stuck into. Tom Latham, Bruce Braley, and Dave Loebsack all plan to “plow ahead” as well; only Steve King didn’t comment, although his district, by virtue of geography (having the state’s western half pretty much to itself) seems least likely to get messed with. A collision between Des Moines-based Boswell and Ames-based GOPer Latham seems likeliest to me, but with a commission making the decisions, almost any configuration seems possible.

NC-07: Rep. Mike McIntyre — already in the news today as one of only two Dems who voted against HCR to also say that he’d go ahead and support Republican repeal efforts — is now about to draw a Democratic primary challenger from the left, although one who seems kind of on the Some Dude end of the spectrum. Business counselor Del Pietro says he’ll take on McIntyre.

California: This piece is mostly about House redistricting in the Golden State, but has some thoughts about potential retirements too, given the possibility that redistricting via commission may result in less incumbent protection and various House members getting stuck together (and also given the advanced age of many of California’s long-timers). Jerry Lewis and Pete Stark are listed as most noteworthy possibilities, along with Elton Gallegly (who’s waffled about retirement before), Lois Capps, Gary Miller, and Howard Berman… and Bob Filner is mentioned as a possible San Diego mayor candidate in 2012.

House: This Roll Call piece is mostly a grab-bag of vague quotes and speculation (of course, what article in the Beltway press isn’t), but it does do some useful handicapping on which sought-after House members are likely or unlikely to make the jump to running for Senate in 2012. New York’s Peter King says “I really don’t expect it,” Pennsylvania’s Charlie Dent says he hasn’t “been actively pursuing it,” and Ohio’s Jim Jordan is “leaning against it.” Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan didn’t comment, but has repeatedly said he isn’t looking for higher office anytime soon (and here’s some further confirmation on that from today), while Florida’s Connie Mack IV seems to be moving definitely moving in a Senate direction and Montana’s Denny Rehberg remains studiously vague.

DCCC: DCCC head Steve Israel announced his team of lieutenants for the 2012 cycle, which includes the two other likeliest chairs who got passed over, Joseph Crowley (in charge of fundraising) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (incumbent retention and redistricting). Also on board are Allyson Schwartz (recruitment), Keith Ellison (community partnerships), and Puerto Rico’s Pedro Pierluisi (constituency mobilization).

Mayors: State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams (last seen barely hitting the double-digits in the Democratic gubernatorial primary) has a new gig in mind: he’s publicly expressing his interest in running for Philadelphia mayor, one of the many mayoral races up in November. The only other person to have actively looked into challenging fairly-popular incumbent Michael Nutter is wealthy businessman Tom Knox, who also made a brief appearance in last year’s governor’s race Dem primary.

Twitter: We made it over the 4,000 mark on Twitter; thanks to all our new followers. We’re still taking new applications, though, so we encourage any other fans of microscopic bits of political wisdom to sign on, too.

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.

MN-Sen: Witness party unity before your eyes

I’ll say it up front, I’ve always been bullish on Al Franken, even when others here were ripping on him, and already giving up on the race, and lamenting how the race would’ve been better with Ciresi or Nelson-Pallmeyer.  And one of the arguments used against Franken was that he had pissed off some other prominent Minnesota Democrats like Congresspeople Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison and Amy Klobuchar.  There was quite a bit of hand-wringing going on.

Well, take a look below the fold to see what’s happened in the last couple days.  (And from the links, yes, I got this stuff from MN Publius.

To start off, last week Al Franken visited homeowners facing foreclosure with Keith Ellison.  And unlike previous statements, Ellison offered praise for Franken.

Franken and Ellison also took part in last Saturday’s Minneapolis Urban League’s annual Family Day Celebration at North Commons Park and made stops at two small shopping malls in South Minneapolis. Franken said he’s proud to be on the Democratic ticket headed by U.S. Senator Barack Obama and including Ellison, who is seeking his second congressional term.

“He [Obama] is going to need as many Democratic U.S. senators as possible to make sure that his agenda gets through,” candidate Franken said of Obama’s potential presidency. “I know that Keith has worked hard to get bills passed for addressing and alleviating the housing crisis. When I get to Washington, I look forward to standing beside Keith as we take the next step.”

Having two Senate Democrats in Congress will be helpful to push forward needed housing and anti-predatory mortgage lending legislation, said Ellison. “We need both houses [of Congress] working together and an administration working for us. Al isn’t just another Democrat, but a dynamic, energetic, charismatic voice that can help rally the public will to real solutions.

Then came the news that Sen. Amy Klobuchar is campaigning for Franken.

I’ve gotten to know Al well as he’s traveled the state building a grassroots movement for change, and I know he’ll be a champion for Minnesota families in Washington.

On issues like health care, energy, the war in Iraq, and our economy here at home, Al will reject the failed policies of the Bush administration and fight for change. In fact, just today Al offered some bold, common-sense solutions to strengthen Minnesota’s schools. Al will never sell out to the special interests – he’ll stay loyal to Minnesotans and advocate everyday to help the middle class.

And last but not least, Betty McCollum, who acknowledges her earlier reservations about Franken.

“Crisis” now describes a long list of issues facing Minnesota families and our country. From healthcare to energy prices, the economy to ending the Iraq war – America faces serious challenges that require urgent action.  In Washington, we need leaders who are willing to take America in a new direction.  I am proud of the work Democrats in the U.S. House have accomplished to pass important legislation.  Unfortunately, much of our work has been stalled in the U.S. Senate by an obstructionist Republican minority.  That needs to change.

As I look forward to 2009, I want to be represented in the U.S. Senate by two Minnesota senators who will support and vote to advance our positive, action oriented Democratic agenda to strengthen our economy, keep our nation secure, and invest in our country’s future.  That means in this year’s race for the U.S. Senate I will be voting for Al Franken.

This spring I voiced concerns about material from Al’s past career. To have remained silent when asked would have been hypocritical and dishonest.  I am confident my concerns have been heard and since then I have watched Al’s campaign take steps to address these matters. Now, I believe Al and his campaign are appropriately focused on building a solid relationship with voters based on our shared Minnesota values, ideals, and hopes for the future.  Like all candidates, Al understands that he is not only asking Minnesotans for their vote, but for their trust. As November 4th approaches, Al Franken will earn the trust of Minnesotans and I intend to work with him to win this election.

Fourth District DFLers, thank you for your on-going support.  This year I will continue to campaign hard to turn out the vote to elect Barack Obama to the White House, Al Franken to the U.S. Senate, and win my own re-election to Congress.  I know we will all work together in the 4th District to win in November and together take Minnesota and America in a new direction.

Franken has also just released this powerful ad called “Dr. Bob”, of a conservative Republican who praises Al for his patriotism and his commitment to our troops.

And please, don’t cite the SurveyUSA poll as evidence of how flawed Franken is.  The poll’s crosstabs are bonkers.

Lurking just beneath the surface was a raw reality for the Coleman campaign: the poll’s partisan splits were completely bonkers.

The poll showed a sample of 33% self-identified DFLers and 32% self-identified Republicans. I wasn’t the only one to notice how insane that split is — my former colleague Eric Black also noticed:

But Rasmussen, which doesn’t release full cross-tabs to non-members like me, suggests that Coleman’s share of Democrats has declined from 20 to 10 percent and that this may be the factor that cost him the lead he held a month ago.

Little change

SUSA has shown little change since its previous poll on the race a month earlier. The most suspicious thing to me about SUSA’s current poll is that the Minnesota sample consisted of 33 percent Democrats and 32 percent Republicans.  Most polls (including the previous SUSA poll in Minnesota) find that Democrats outnumber Republicans by 10-plus percentage points. The poll scholars on whom I rely for guidance tend to have a higher general opinion of SUSA than Rasmussen (and not too high an opinion of any robo-dialers). But if you’re looking for a reason to disbelieve this one, with its large and sturdy Coleman lead, the partisan makeup of the sample is suspicious.

Eric is in the right neighborhood here.  Most polls shoot for about a 36-28 DFL advantage in party self-identification, perhaps a couple of points more due to Barack Obama’s crushing victory in the Super-Duper Tuesday precinct caucuses. SurveyUSA is simply way out in left field with this poll.

According to one reader who apparently has a PhD in such things, if you multiply out the difference in partisan split between the last SurveyUSA poll and this one, Franken is actually doing about four points better than the previous S-USA poll — but I haven’t confirmed that yet…largely because I would need a PhD to understand what the heck I was doing.

I’ll add to that.  From looking at the crosstabs a bit closer, another thing doesn’t make sense.  Coleman’s best age group is young people.  Does that make ANY sense to anybody out there??  Like I’ve said in the past, to take this poll at face value, even forgetting the bizarre partisan split, would be to say that come November, there’s going to be a shitload (a statistical term) of young people that vote for Barack Obama for President, and then pull the lever for Norm Coleman.  Let that sink in.  It makes about as much sense as “Vegetarians for Bush”.

And all this is before the GOP convention heads to St. Paul, and Coleman is forced to be tied to the hip to the national party, which he’s trying to distance himself from.  Senators from other states who are up for re-election are skipping out, but Coleman can’t.  And keep in mind Al’s torrid fundraising pace, which will allow him to be financially competitive with Coleman.

So please, people, stop writing Franken off.  It doesn’t do us any good.