• CT-Sen: In almost a parody of Republican fat-cattery, not-very-likely GOP senate challenger Scott Frantz loves to race his million-dollar antique yacht down to Bermuda, while at the same time extolling the virtues of companies that patriotically avoid American taxes by moving their operations offshore to the very same island.
• IN-Sen: Treasurer Richard Mourdock is officially kicking off his primary challenge to apostate Sen. Dick Lugar today, and he’s announcing that a majority of local Republican party leaders in the state are backing him. The thing is, while Lugar may well get teabagged, Mourdock really isn’t a teabagger. The establishment might be trying to get out in front of Lugar’s political demise by rallying around the most acceptable alternative, but while Mourdock’s no Charlie Crist, even conservative guys like him don’t often assuage the true movementarians. We’ll see.
• MA-Sen/Gov: Fresh off his victory last fall, Deval Patrick is opening a federal PAC that, the Boston Globe says, “will pay for his expenses as he travels the country as a prominent spokesman for President Obama’s reelection campaign.” But Patrick insists that he’ll finish his second term, and then “return to the privates sector.” That was actually the Globe’s typo… man, I hope it was a typo. Meanwhile, Scott Brown insists he’s running for re-election, not president.
• NV-Sen: Guy Cecil, the executive director of the DSCC, is heading to Nevada this week, reports Politico’s Molly Ball, to meet with three potential challengers to Sen. John Ensign: Secretary of State Ross Miller, Treasurer Kate Marshall, and Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. (The DS has already met with Rep. Shelley Berkley.)
• RI-Sen: Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian says he’ll probably decide by June whether to seek the GOP nomination to challenge Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. Warwick is considered a “moderate” (whatever that means), and could face an impossible primary against a more conservative candidate. Recall that now-Gov. Lincoln Chafee came very close to losing a primary in 2006 against Steve Laffey while he was a sitting senator.
• VA-Sen: Former Dem LG (and current ambassador to Switzerland – and Liechtenstein!) Don Beyer says he’s enjoying life abroad too much to contemplate returning home for a senate run. And hell yes he gave a shout out to Liechtenstein!
• WI-Sen: Your state becomes ground zero for the future of organized labor in America, drawing attention from around the country and around the world, and the stakes are huge. What do you do if you are Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl? You basically disappear and issue the most anodyne statement possible, saying that you “hope these matters can be settled in a respectful and balanced way.” Eh, maybe we’re better off like this – it’s not like Kohl would be a big asset in this fight anyway.
• IN-Gov: Mark Bennett of the Terre Haute Tribune Star has an interview with former House Speaker John Gregg, who reiterates he is giving the governor’s race “real serious consideration” (as we mentioned yesterday) but hasn’t offered any timetable about a decision. The piece is mostly interesting as a backgrounder on Gregg, who has been out of politics for almost a decade.
Meanwhile, Brad Ellsworth says he won’t be running for anything at all in 2012 (so that would include IN-Sen as well), but veteran state Sen. Vi Simpson says she is “thinking about” entering the race.
• NY-10: City Hall News has a good, in-depth look at the situation in the 10th CD, where we noted recently that Rep. Ed Towns’ son Darryl, thought by some to be interested in his father’s seat, is instead taking a job in the Cuomo administration. This could be a resume-burnishing delaying tactic, but with the elder Towns teetering, several big names who aren’t heading off to Albany could make the race, including Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and NYC Council Members Charles Barron and Tish James. Jeffries is publicly saying he won’t make a decision until Towns does, while the more pugnacious Barron is convinced Jeffries won’t primary the incumbent – and says he’s “cut from the same cloth” as old Ed. If you’re a fan of juicy ethnic, racial, religious, machine, big-city politics, set against the backdrop of redistricting and the VRA, this race is one to watch.
• PA-St. Sen.: How common is this? In the potentially bellwether-ish special election to replace deceased Dem state Sen. Michael O’Pake, Democrat Judy Schwank is going on the air with television ads. Her Republican opponent is reportedly set to follow. NWOTSOTB, but do state legislators commonly advertise on TV in your area?
• WATN?: So Arlen Specter’s hung out a shingle. Unlike a lot of dudes in his position who become rainmakers in big DC lobbying firms, the almost quaint name of Specter’s new law firm is “Arlen Specter, Attorney-at-Law,” and he’s practicing in Philly. Meanwhile, Specter’s primary conqueror, Joe Sestak, sure is busy – he’s been going on a 67-county (that’s all of `em) “thank you” tour in the wake of his narrow defeat last year. While the pace is probably less punishing than on the campaign trail, this kind of perambulation is usually the sort of thing most politicians are relieved to give up after they lose – so obviously people are speculating that Sestak wants to get back in some day. Sestak himself says he wants “to stay in public service of some sort,” and won’t deny rumors that he’s interested in a 2014 gubernatorial run., but I just can’t see Sestak as gov material.
• Polltopia: You know how in a WWF tag-team match, there are those moments when one dude taps out and his partner comes in, but for a few seconds, they’re both kinda in the ring at once, wailing on their hapless opponent at the same time? Just watch here as Stone Cold Mark Blumenthal puts Scott Rasmussen in a headlock and Nate “Superfly” Silva busts out the folding chair. When the bell sounds, we know pretty much what we did before: you can trust the outcomes of a Rasmussen poll and a pro-wrestling match just about equally.
• Redistricting: NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo has releases his “Redistricting Reform Act of 2011,” which would create a non-partisan commission that would draw both state lege and congressional district lines. The members of the commission would still be political appointees, though, with the governor apparently holding the final card. Cuomo has threatened to veto any old-style gerrymanders, but it’s not clear to me that this bill has much of a chance, particularly since other reports say Cuomo is willing to trade this for a much bigger priority, like property tax reform.
Meanwhile, Politico has the unsurprising news that many members of Congress have recently started making generous donations to their home-state legislatures, in order to win a little love during the redistricting battles ahead. I do wish they would just post the full chart of their analysis, rather than pick out tidbits. We’d never do that to you!
• Census: Bunch more states a’comin’ this week: Alabama, Colorado, Hawaii, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington will all see redistricting data by Feb. 25th.
• Dave’s App: Version 2.1 has been released, with all sorts of new features. Dave is also adding new 2010 census data as he is able.
• Special Elections: SSP’s own Johnny Longtorso, keeper of the special election flame, files this report:
We’ve got a whopping nine state legislative races in Connecticut on Tuesday. Eight of the nine are Democrats who resigned to join the Malloy administration, while the ninth (also a Dem) resigned due to a misdemeanor conviction. One race of note is HD-36, where CT-02 loser Janet Peckinpaugh is the Republican nominee. A couple of these races were close in 2010 (HD-99 and 101), so we may see some flips on Tuesday.
Also, in Missouri, there’s an open State Senate seat in Kansas City, which should be an easy Dem hold.
And last Saturday, Republican state Rep. Jonathan Perry defeated Democratic businessman Nathan Granger in a special election that decided control of the Louisiana state senate. The chamber had been split 19-19, but now the GOP has the edge. Of course, it would only have been a matter of time before the next Dem party-switcher changed the equation, but this was actually a close, hard-fought race.