SSP Daily Digest: 8/31

CO-Sen: That was fast… two days after saying he was probably going to drop out of the Colorado Senate race, now Weld County DA Ken Buck is likely to stay in the race. Apparently there has been enough conservative discontent over the seeming annointment by the NRSC and state party of former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton as the nominee that Buck may feel he can ride that backlash to primary victory. (Norton may well be conservative herself, but she’s such a blank slate that there’s no way to tell, and at any rate, conservative activists aren’t taking kindly to DC meddling this year, as we’ve seen in the Missouri and New Hampshire races.)

FL-Sen: Too cute by half? Charlie Crist’s appointment of his ex-Chief of Staff, George LeMieux, to the Senate is getting panned by many of the major newspaper editorial boards in the state. (J)

IA-Sen: Big Bruce Braley boffo boomlet busts! The sophomore Representative confirmed that, despite a sudden flurry of speculation, he’ll stay where he is, and not run against Chuck Grassley for the Senate. Former state legislators Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen are already in the race.

IL-Sen: Here’s another Senate race where the GOP rabble is getting restive about one candidate getting the establishment stamp of approval. There are eight other candidates besides Mark Kirk, and religious right ultra-conservatives are trying to coalesce behind one, with Hinsdale real estate developer Patrick Hughes seeming to get the most mention. The most notable name in the anti-Kirk camp? Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum, who’s 85 and still going strong. The article does mention that there have been several other Senate primaries in Illinois where a conservative upstart beat the establishment moderate, most notably Al Salvi’s upset of Bob Kustra in the open seat race of 1996.

KY-Sen: You better believe it’s on. Rand Paul’s backers are gearing up for another Moneybomb!, this time cleverly scheduled for the same day (Sep. 23) as Trey Grayson’s big DC fundraiser where he’ll be feted by 23 Republican Senators.

LA-Sen: David Vitter seems like he has an endless supply of horse’s heads to put in the beds of potential GOP primary opponents. This time, former Lt. General and Katrina recovery hero Russel Honore backed down within a few days of his rumored interest appearing, much the same as with Suzanne Terrell and John Cooksey.

MA-Sen: There was a brief flurry of speculation that Vicki Kennedy, Ted Kennedy’s widow, would be the placeholder short-term appointee to his seat (assuming Massachusetts Dems followed through on changing state law regarding appointment), pushed along by Sens. Dodd and Hatch. However, it now appears she’s not interested in the interim appointment (or running in the special). Meanwhile, the many contenders among the Massachusetts House delegation are watching what ex-Rep. Joe Kennedy II does; Ed Markey and Michael Capuano, for instance, both sound eager to run in the special election but will defer to a member of the Kennedy family.

NV-Sen: There’s the old expression about not picking fights with people who buy ink by the barrel, but Harry Reid and the Las Vegas Review-Journal are getting into a little pissing match. Reid told the LVRJ that “I hope you go out of business.” The LVRJ’s publisher shot back, calling him a “bully” and decrying his “creepy tactic.” (I expect a Reid press release saying something about rubber and glue is forthcoming.)

AL-Gov: The specific details seem few and far between, but Ben Smith leaks some tidbits about an AL-Gov poll commissioned by the Alabama Education Association (the state’s teacher’s union, naturally a pro-Democratic organization). It’s good news for Rep. Artur Davis, who leads all GOPers in the race, ranging from ex-judge Roy Moore by 6 to Treasurer Kay Ivey by 12. Davis also leads Ag Commissioner Ron Sparks by 30 in the Dem primary, and has a 3-to-1 favorable ratio.

NJ-Gov: The Jon Corzine camp is out with a hard-hitting new TV spot, nailing Chris Christie over his undisclosed loan to carpool buddy Michele Brown. Also, unsurprisingly but critical to his survival, Corzine got the SEIU‘s endorsement last Friday.

PA-Gov: Scranton mayor Chris Doherty has been casting a wide net as he looks for a step up, considering the Lt. Gov. spot and a PA-11 primary challenge against Paul Kanjorski, but now he may be considering the big enchilada: a run for Governor. With the two Dem frontrunners both anti-abortion Pittsburgh-area Dems (Allegheny Co. Exec Dan Onorato and state Auditor Jack Wagner), there’s may be an opening for someone pro-choice from the East (which is something ex-Rep. Joe Hoeffel is also considering).

VA-Gov: Republican AG Bob McDonnell’s attempts to position himself as a moderate in the Virginia Governor’s race hit a big snag this weekend, as the Washington Post took a look at the master’s thesis he wrote while a 34-year old graduate student at Pat Robertson’s Regent University. McDonnell railed against feminists, working mothers, contraceptive use by married couples, cohabitators, homosexuals, and fornicators. McDonnell protests rather weakly that his views have “changed” since he wrote the thesis.

CA-10: SurveyUSA is out with their final poll of the special election to replace Ellen Tauscher, and finds little movement in the past two weeks. Lt. Gov. John Garamendi (D) leads with 25%, followed by Republican David Harmer with 20%. The other two major Dems in the race, state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier and Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, are at 16% and 12%, respectively. (J)

MO-04: Retiring GOP Sen. Kit Bond seems displeased that national Republicans are trying to knock off veteran Democratic Rep. Ike Skelton next year. In an interview during a recent Cardinals game, Bond said that “it’s very very important for us to have a man like Ike Skelton” in Congress. (J)

Data: The Office of the House Clerk has released its biennial summary of the 2008 presidential & congressional elections (PDF). The document contains official results for every federal race in the nation, all in one place. (D)

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.

MO-Sen: Kit Bond Plans to Retire

Big news out of the Show Me State: Christopher “Kit” Bond, senator since 1986, will not be running for re-election in 2010. This contradicts Bond’s statements of even several months ago that he would seek a fifth term.

Previous polls had indicated this would be a competitive race even with Bond running for re-election (R2K recently saw only a 4-point edge for Bond against Secretary of State Robin Carnahan). But with an open seat… and with a whole bench full of Carnahans on our side and rather middling pickins on the GOP side… this suddenly moves up next to Florida on the 2010 senate watch list.

We recently discussed possible candidates in the Missouri recruitment thread. (bpfish‘s comment in that diary is pretty comprehensive, and definitely merits a read.) On the Dem side, as previously mentioned, Robin Carnahan probably tops most people’s lists, but her brother, Rep. Russ Carnahan, could just as easily be the one. (The other Dem representatives are Lacy Clay and Emanuel Cleaver, African-Americans representing urban districts who are unlikely to make the jump to statewide, and Ike Skelton, who is in his 70s and unlikely to give up his Armed Services gavel.) Other possibilities include Auditor Susan Montee, and ex-state rep. Judy Baker, who just narrowly lost the House race in the conservative 9th District.

Tons of possibilities on the GOP side, starting with former governor Matt Blunt, who’s young but may need more time than that to rehabilitate his image from his unsuccessful gubernatorial term. Representatives Sam Graves (who won convincingly in a should-have-been-competitive race), Jo Ann Emerson, and Todd Akin may all be eyeing the race. (The other GOP reps are Blaine Luetkemeyer, who’s brand new, and Roy Blunt, who seems to be looking for an exit strategy.)

Ex-Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who lost the gubernatorial primary, may also be a possibility, as may be ex-Rep. Kenny Hulshof, although he may have lost the governor’s race by too large a margin to be taken seriously any more. More remote possibilities include former senators Jim Talent and John Ashcroft (yes, John Ashcroft) coming back for another bite at the apple. Last but not least… don’t rule out Brock Olivo. The 9th District was just too small a stage for a mind as expansive as his. (Discussion already underway in txobserver‘s diary.)

MO-Sen, CO-Sen: Salazar Solid, Bond Shaky

Research 2000 for Daily Kos (12/2-4, likely voters)

Robin Carnahan (D): 43

Christopher Bond (R-inc): 47

(MoE: ±4%)

The Great Orange Satan has started polling potential matchups for 2010, and as suspected, one potentially vulnerable Republican incumbent is Kit Bond in Missouri. Matched against possible candidate Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (member of Missouri’s preeminent political family), 22-year incumbent Bond leads by only 4 points.

Bond’s favorables are just under the 50% mark at 49/43, while the less-known Carnahan clocks in at 48/26 with 26% having no opinion, giving her a lot of room for growth. Interestingly, the only region of the state where Carnahan currently leads is the city of St. Louis; if (like Claire McCaskill in 2006) she can maintain usual Democratic margins in the urban parts of the state while holding down losses in the state’s big red middle, she can eke out the victory.

Research 2000 for Daily Kos (12/2-4, likely voters)

Ken Salazar (D-inc): 49

John Elway (R): 38

(MoE: ±4%)

Ken Salazar (D-inc): 51

Tom Tancredo (R): 37

Research 2000 also released the first set of polls for the 2010 senate race in Colorado (diaried yesterday by safi), which at least has the potential of being the Democrats’ top vulnerability. However, Ken Salazar is looking pretty safe against two top GOP contenders. One of those contenders is polarizing bigot Tom Tancredo, whom you wouldn’t expect to get much traction, but the other one is former Broncos QB (and car dealer) John Elway, a popular if not legendary figure in Colorado. But apparently he’s lacking in the political skills department, if he’s barely running ahead of the loathsome Tancredo (and he certainly can’t blame lack of name recognition).

Former GOP Gov. Bill Owens is sometimes mentioned as a candidate, although he hasn’t taken any steps in that direction. He ended his term fairly popular and would probably fare better than either of these clowns, so it would be interesting to see a head-to-head with him included.