SSP Daily Digest: 1/10

CT-Sen: Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy is sounding very likely to challenge Joe Lieberman in 2012, at least if this WSJ piece primarily on Lieberman’s re-election chances is any indication. It quotes Murphy as “definitely considering” the race and says his decision may be only weeks away, given the nature of permanent campaigning these days. Meanwhile, Paulist economist Peter Schiff (whose rather quixotic bid wound up with him deep in third place in the GOP primary in 2010) is saying he’d like to run for office again, but 2012 won’t be the year, citing the likelihood of a Linda McMahon run and his inability to compete against her money. Finally, Lieberman himself has his mind on his money and his money on his mind, too… he’s hungry enough for money that he’s reaching out to his new friends from the No Labels movement and asking them to consider donating to politicians they don’t necessarily agree with. Interesting argument (especially considering that the No Labels people are probably the likeliest people out there to agree with Lieberman).

MA-Sen: Long-time Boston mayor Tom Menino has occasionally gotten some coverage as a possible opponent to Scott Brown in the 2012 Senate race, but he’s taking his name out of consideration, saying he’ll never run for anything but even more terms as mayor. Menino also offered some warnings to potential Dem candidates about the race, saying “There’s nobody that can beat him.” (Recall that Menino caught some flak for not really deploying the Boston Dem machine full-force on Martha Coakley’s behalf during the special election, so it’s unclear whether he’s truly fearful of Brown or just engaging in a little concern trolling on Brown’s behalf.)

MI-Sen: Here’s another indicator (after last month’s PPP poll that had her mired in the 40s) that Debbie Stabenow could have a tough race in 2012, given the right GOP opponent. A Glengariff Group poll for the Detroit News doesn’t include any head-to-heads, but gives her 37/39 approvals, and a 23% definite re-elect (vs. 43% someone new). Of course, the GOP will need to cough up someone more imposing than Tim Leuliette, the only publicly interested candidate so far.

MN-Sen: I hadn’t heard Rep. John Kline (the GOP Rep. in MN-02, who labors in right-wing anonymity thanks to a lot of cover from noisy neighbor Michele Bachmann) get associated with the 2012 Senate race before, and after today, he probably won’t again. He told a talk radio interview over the weekend that his “plate was full.”

MT-Sen: There’s been an uptick in speculation that Denny Rehberg may not run for Senate after all, given that he just landed a slot as not just one of the Appropriations cardinals (regarded by Beltway insiders as the uppermost tier in the House pantheon) but the subcommittee chair in charge of HHS, letting him carry the banner on any HCR repeal efforts. However, he’s still being coy about his 2012 plans (and in fact getting a little meta about the endless Beltway media parsing of political career planning), saying a decision is “down the road… which is similar to around the corner.”

NE-Sen: This has been pretty clearly telegraphed for a while now, but Republican state treasurer Don Stenberg is saying he’s “quite likely” to get into the Senate race. That, of course, would set up a high-profile primary with another statewide GOPer already a formal candidate, AG Jon Bruning. Meanwhile, GOP state party chair Mark Fahnelson removed an image from his personal blog of Ben Nelson inside a red bullseye. In good Republican fashion, he reaffirmed that he himself, in fact, was the victim in all this.

NV-Sen: Hoping for Sue Lowden to be the 2012 Senate nominee for the GOP? Don’t count your chickens before they hatch, because she’s saying she won’t consider running if Dean Heller is going to run (she would do it only if both John Ensign and Heller didn’t run). Rather candidly, she admitted that she had no shot of beating Heller in a GOP primary. Meanwhile, Sharron Angle has decided that, having had a shot at the big time, another run for the state Senate would just be chicken feed at this point. She says that she won’t seek the seat being vacated by resigning former GOP floor leader Bill Raggio (to whom she lost in a 2008 primary), although without saying anything more about another NV-Sen run or a NV-02 run if Heller runs for Senate.

TX-Sen: Here’s another poll showing a Senator who may have a rough go of it in 2012, although in Kay Bailey Hutchison’s case, the real hurdle is likely to be the GOP primary. A Blum & Weprin poll for various Texas newspapers found Hutchison with a 46% approval among all registered voters, and only 56% among Republicans. Hutchison, of course, has not given any indication whether she’s running for another term or not.

LA-Gov: That gubernatorial election is only 10 months away, and Louisiana Democrats still seem to standing around scratching their heads wondering who their nominee will be. With GOP incumbent Bobby “Kenneth the Page” Jindal sitting on a $7.2 million war chest and, while not super-humanly popular anymore, still in positive territory, willing victims do not seem forthcoming. Dems seem most interested in somebody who can self-finance, which would probably be oft-rumored Shaw Group CEO Jim Bernhard, although other more remote possibilities include losing Lt. Gov. candidate Caroline Fayard, PSC Commissioner Foster Campbell (who finished 3rd in the 2007 primary), retired Gen. Russell Honore (who was briefly the subject of speculation for a GOP primary challenge to David Vitter last year), and even a return engagement from ex-Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

AZ-08: Best wishes to Gabby Giffords for what will no doubt be a long, slow recovery after this weekend’s shooting. Physicians say that she is rapidly improving and may be removed from her breathing apparatus in several days if progress continues.

ND-AL: This has implications for North Dakota’s House seat, but also potentially for the Senate seat in 2012, if Kent Conrad (last seen ramping up to start advertising already) does a sudden turnaround and opts for retirement. Ex-Rep. Earl Pomeroy (who’s 58) is joining DC law firm Alston & Bird and says “I don’t see myself running for office again.”

NM-02: Similarly, Harry Teague has announced that he won’t run again for his old seat or anything else, saying he has no plans to seek another office. The 61-year-old (and independently wealthy) Teague plans to return to his family oilfield business.

Mayors: Another day, another poll showing Rahm Emanuel way in the lead (albeit not out of runoff territory yet). This one’s from Anzalone-Liszt on behalf of the Teamsters, and while it shows Carol Mosely Braun gaining ground (thanks to dropouts from Danny Davis and James Meeks), she’s still far behind. It’s Emanuel 42, Mosely Braun 26, Gerry Chico 10, and Miguel Del Valle 7. (November’s Teamster poll was Emanuel 36, Mosely Braun 13, Chico 10.) Meanwhile, Chico can now boast an endorsement from Rep. Luis Gutierrez, which seems like a bit of a thumbed-nose at Emanuel (who used to be Gutierrez’s neighbor in the House). And on the other side of the country, San Francisco has a newly-minted interim mayor: city administrator Ed Lee, who will fill in for the next 10 months as Gavin Newsom becomes Lt. Governor. The main thing that clinched it for Lee (who will be the city’s first Asian-American mayor) was his promise not to run for the job in the November election. One of Newsom’s last acts was to appoint a new DA in San Francisco, too (to replace the state’s new AG, Kamala Harris): he promoted police chief George Gascon to that job.

WATN?: Where are they now? On the prison bus, that’s where. At least that’s the case with former Republican House majority leader Tom DeLay, just sentenced this morning to three years on conspiracy charges associated with laundering corporate money into campaign donations.

LA-GOV: FACT CHECK: Blanco WILL NOT Run for Reelection

Originally posted at Daily Kingfish

Diaries have surfaced at national blogs such as Swing State Project, Blue Sunbelt and Daily Kos claiming Kathleen Babineaux Blanco might run for reelection.  According to Blanco, she will not run for reelection.  I quote from her speech today before the state legislature:

Last month, I announced that I would not run for Governor again. In spite of the media speculation, let me announce one more time that I believe there’s life after politics, and I’m going to have one! I hope my decision allows us to focus on what’s best for Louisiana and not on election-year politics.

One can listen to the audio of the speech at the courtesy of We Saw That at this address.

LA-GOV: Blanco May Run

If there is any truth to this, then the Louisiana Democratic Party is more screwed than I previously thought.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco would not deny she is considering re-entering the governor’s race when questioned by TV reporters Thursday at the Governor’s Mansion.

“This is Louisiana and lots of exciting things can happen between now and the election,” Blanco said when asked if she was reconsidering.

Marie Centanni, Blanco’s spokeswoman, said later, “The governor is certainly enjoying her current status and she expects it to stay the same.”

We don’t need this. If you’re in, you’re in, if you drop out, you should stay out for the good of the party. Perhaps she is exacting some kind of revenge on the party for pushing her out. Regardless, someone needs to straighten her out.

LA-Gov: Blanco To Run Even If Breaux Enters The Race

(Judging by Breaux’s statement, does anyone get the sense that he’s feeling a bit more inclined to sit this one out? – promoted by James L.)

Crossposted to BlueSunbelt.Com the Southern netroots site.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco has signaled she will not drop out of the race for Governor in Louisiana even if former U.S. Senator John Breaux enters the race. Many political analysts see Breaux as possibly the only chance Democrats may have to hold the state’s highest office. GOP Congressman Bobby Jindal has so far been outpolling Blanco by landslide proportions.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Wednesday she plans to run for re-election regardless of whether former U.S. Sen. John Breaux jumps into the race.

“My decision is predicated on me and my experience and not on anything that Sen. Breaux and anybody else might be interested in doing,” Blanco said at the State Capitol.

Meanwhile, Breaux, who still is silent on whether or not he is running for governor, issued a statement of support for his fellow Democrat.

“I’ve always said that Gov. Blanco has earned the right to run for re-election. She has a good story to tell the people of our state about how hard she has worked against incredibly difficult circumstances,” Breaux said through his spokesman.


Race Tracker: LA-Gov

LA-House, LA-Gov, LA-Sen: Is the Louisiana Democratic Party Serious About Survival?

That’s the question that has been on my mind since having these dizzying special election results seared into my cortex last weekend:

On Saturday, February 24, there were three special elections for vacancies in the Louisiana House of Representatives.  All three seats were previously held by Democrats, and Democrats easily held on to two of these seats by capturing both run-off slots.  This was no surprise, as both of these retained seats were African-American majority districts.  The other seat, HD01, however, was not a sure thing for Democrats.  Louisianagirl, in her coverage last weekend, wrote:

Although it was previously held by a Democrat named Roy “Hoppy” Hopkins, who recently died of cancer, this open seat can be won by either party.  Indeed, the district has a tendency to vote for Republicans in federal races: John Kerry only received 32.28% of the vote in 2004; Kathleen Blanco received 44.15% of the vote in 2003; and Mary Landrieu received approximately 45.34% of the vote in 2002.  A populist Democrat who understand agricultural and infrastructural issues can win in this district that includes rural Caddo and Bossier Parishes, but it will be a difficult seat for Democrats to hold in November.

And here’s what she had to say about what was at stake:

LA-HD1 is what I consider to be a bellwether race.  If we hold it, we will hold the Louisiana House in November.  If we lose it, then we need to prepare ourselves for the fight of our political lives in November.  Watch the returns of this race, as this race will determine how hard Louisiana Democrats will have to fight if they want to hold on to their majorities in the state legislature.

So let’s put it all on the table: at a combined 27% of the vote, the two Democratic candidates in this special election did even worse than John Kerry’s performance in the district in 2004.  When the locals can’t break Kerry’s benchmark, you know that we’ve written a new definition for “rock bottom” in Louisiana.

So what happened?  By the looks of it, Republicans showed up ready to wrestle this seat to the ground, and Democrats simply did not.  Their candidate, “Jim” Morris, as a Caddo Parish Commissioner, had a high profile in the local government, while Hollier was something of an unknown.  Based on his experience alone, Morris easily snatched up the endorsement of the Shreveport Times, and the rest is written on the wall.  By not putting forth a proven candidate and funneling the appropriate resources to this race, the Louisiana Democratic Party is sending signals of apathy and resignation, rather than the do-or-die, balls-to-the-wall ethos that they will need to exhibit in order to come out of 2007 alive.

Having a drag like Gov. Kathleen Blanco at the top of the ticket this year would be bad enough for the Democratic majorities in the state legislature, but Louisiana Democrats will have to deal with another vulnerability: term limits.  As louisianagirl wrote in her authoritative diary on the subject, half of the 60 incumbent Democrats in the Louisiana House will face mandatory retirement after this year.  With only 53 seats needed to obtain control of the House, that leaves a lot of room for an aggressive, district-by-district challenge by a renewed Louisiana GOP in coordination with a strong top of the ticket challenge to Gov. Blanco.

The stakes of this are fairly high.  Without friendly control of the LA legislature, Democratic Rep. Charlie Melancon could see his U.S. House district, and his job security, go up in smoke due to creative redistricting by state Republicans.  On the other hand, if Democrats controlled the redistricting levers, Louisiana’s congressional delegation will almost assuredly lose at least one Republican member of the House in 2012, after the census readjusts the state’s representation to account for population loss.

Additionally, how does ceding certain “swing” districts to the Republicans bode for Democrats’ ability to retain the offices of Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Sen. Mary Landrieu?  Not well, I would argue.

If the Louisiana Democratic Party is serious about staying a relevant political force in the state after November, it has to aggressively defend these seats.  With the disturbing revelation that our one potential savior at the top of the ballot, former Senator John Breaux, is likely ineligible to run for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination after he registered to vote in Maryland after he retired in 2005, this defense is all the more crucial.  Just as the New York GOP put everything into holding the State Senate in a wave year, the Louisiana Democratic Party should be preparing something similar for the legislature.

The Louisiana Democratic Party has a shot at redemption coming up very quickly–the March 10th special election for the 94th House District. Louisianagirl contends that, with candidate Deborah Langhoff at the helm, this is a legitimate pick-up opportunity for Team Blue–one of only a precious few that Louisiana Democrats will see during this cycle.  Is the Louisiana Democratic Party doing all that it can to help her out?  Given what pitiful lengths they went to keep the 1st District competitive, I almost dread to hear the answer.

Race Tracker: LA-Gov | LA-Sen | LA-03

LA-Gov: Democrat Foster Campbell To Run Against Blanco (D)

Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell has indicated he plans to challenge Gov. Kathleen Blanco for the Democratic nomination for governor. Campbell is a farmer and businessman who served 27 years in the Louisiana Senate before being elected Public Service Commission in 2002 to represent the North Louisiana district of 24 parishes with over 1 million people. He has been a frequent critic of corporate power, corruption, and special interests and will run a populist style campaign in a state that has a long tradition of electing populist politicians.


LA-Gov: Ouch

From the Political Wire:

The AP: “Call it a sign of the times for Louisiana’s embattled governor: A chance to dine with Gov. Kathleen Blanco fetched a winning bid of $1 at a recent fundraising auction hosted by a group of business leaders.”

I’ll lay it all down on the table: with one of the worst approval ratings for Governors (a 58% disapproval rating), and a serious challenge from Rep. Bobby Jindal (R) on its way for 2007, Gov. Blanco should seriously be considering facing the music and clearing the field for someone else to fight this one.  I’m not quite convinced that Democrats can hold this seat either way, but at least with Blanco off the ticket, the loss wouldn’t be quite as embarrassing.

Update: Okay, okay–I missed the part where “bidding abruptly closed” after the opening bid was accepted, shutting out other bidders.  What kind of nastiness is that?  But I still stand by the assertion that Blanco is DOA if she stays on for next November’s election.  She should bow out to save face.