Senate Race Rankings August Edition: Republican Pickups but how Many?

Cross posted at http://frogandturtle.blogspot…. which you should visit for more election analysis.

These are my 2nd Senate rankings this year. The first series is here…

Welcome to the Dog Days of August everyone.  Although this is definitely a Republican year (at least for the House of Representatives,) Republicans may be picking up less seats in the Senate than they hoped. In my opinion, the chance of the Republicans picking up the Senate is an absolute no no. It is not because they will not steal ten seats from the Democrats, it is because Democrats may obtain some seats previously held by Republicans. The rhetoric this year is anti incumbent. For some places though, it is just anti Democratic Party (or Democrat party as conservatives will say.) For example, Delaware is looking to elect Michael Castle (R) who has served as Governor and U.S House Representative in Delaware for a very long time.

Also, Republicans are losing chances for pickups due to strong Democratic candidates or Republican candidate imploding. Nevada is the most famous example with Sharron Angle. First she thought we should get rid of social security and the Department of Education. She will not stop making gaffes either. She said she will only take questions from people who like her. Even on Fox News, she faced some trouble answering their questions. Another example of Republicans falling into problems is the Colorado Senate race. Ken Buck (R) has gone to the right to beat Jane Norton (R) as he says women do not have the right to an abortion even in cases of rape and incest. In a state that rejected a measure by 46 points to “define life from the moment of conception,” these views should not play too well. Also, many of the Democratic candidates are good campaigners but have managed to close gaps or take leads because campaign season has not started yet. If you are looking for a race where a Democrat has a shot at making it close due to campaign skills, look at races like Indiana or Delaware. I expect Republicans to win those races but if the Democrats make them close, do not be surprised. Unfortunately though, this may change as Obama’s approval ratings seem to be slipping. This could affect the Senate races and this is a pretty optimistic diary, I am aware of that.

Now off to the rankings:

1. North Dakota OPEN Byron Dorgan (D)

North Dakota is known for electing candidates who are well known to voters like Democrats Kent Conrad, Earl Pomeroy and Byron Dorgan. Apparently, this applies even more strongly to Republican Governors who are named John Hoeven who are running for Senate in 2010.

Ranking: Safe Republican

2. Arkansas Blanche Lincoln (D)

Blanche Lincoln held off the unions (which were never powerful in Arkansas,) the progressives and Bill Halter (D) when she won the Democratic primary with the help of Bill Clinton. Rep John Boozmen (R) from the northwest portion of the state (where Wal Mart was started) is running. All indications clearly show that Boozmen is ahead by double digits. Barring a major gaffe or a big burst of luck, Boozmen will be Arkansas’s next Senator.

Ranking: Likely Republican

3. Florida OPEN George LeMieux (R)

Mel Martinez (R) resigned so then popular Governor Charlie Crist (R) appointed LeMieux to hold Martinez’s Senate seat. Now Crist wants the seat so he ran for it. Unfortunately, he learned that saying something positive about Obama’s stimulus is suicide for a Republican stimulus. Marco Rubio (R) ran as the teabagger and kicked Crist out of the primary. At the beginning of the race though, a poll showed Rubio down by 53 points. Now Crist is running as an independent and most polls show him ahead of Rubio by the mid single digits. The Democratic primary is a big circus too. Kendrick Meek (D) from Miami is running against Jeff Greene, a corrupt billionaire. As Meek’s chance of winning shrinks, many Democrats like me are switching to Crist because he may decide to caucus with the Democrats. The race might get closer but expect Crist to win.

Ranking: Lean Independent

4. Delaware OPEN Ted Kaufman (D)

At first, this seat looked like an easy hold for the Democrats. Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s son would run and that would be that. When popular Rep. Michael Castle (R) decided to run, Beau Biden decided not to. Now Democrats nominated New Castle County (Wilmington) executive, Chris Coons (D) to run for Senate. It should be noted that New Castle County is a bellwether in Presidential so Coons already has an advantage. Michael Castle though is a moderate and is well known throughout the state but if people get fed up with all the incumbents…Still, expect a Michael Castle win.

Ranking: Lean Republican

5. Indiana OPEN Evan Bayh (D)

Bye Bayh, after being a popular Governor and Senator, Bayh left open a seat the Democrats should have held. Dan Coats (R) is a former Republican Senator and lobbyist who won the primary with only 40% of the vote. He faces Brad Ellsworth (D), the moderate and popular Congressman from southern Indiana, filled with rural swing voters. Although Ellsworth is moderate and should do well with rural voters, Dan Coats has a strong lead. Ellsworth just got out an effective ad attacking lobbyists (not explicitly mentioning the one running against him.) This is helpful but he also needs to appeal to urban voters who were key to Obama’s winning coalition in 2008. If Ellsworth does not start closing the gap in September when voters get to know him, then he is toast.

Ranking: Lean Republican

6. Ohio OPEN George Voinovich (R)

Voinovich is another reasonable Republican who is retiring. After a bruising primary against Jennifer Brunner (D), Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher (D) won. He is facing Rob Portman (R) who is a former congressman and official during the Bush Administration. Almost every poll since March that is not Rasmussen shows Fisher with a lead although most of the leads are by a few points. Fisher’s main jobs will be to tie Portman to Bush, remind people how bad Bush was (because everyone is blaming Bush’s problems on Obama) and Fisher should highlight how he will create jobs. Also, Fisher needs to step up the fundraising. Also, Portman is from southern Ohio while Fisher is from Northeast Ohio. In many races, I believe it will get better once the Democrat starts campaigning. In this race though, Portman will be able to spend his money but the unions will be able to help Fisher due to their power here. On election night, you should expect a map similar to 2004 except Fisher may get a few Ohio river counties. I still believe that if one race leads to a recount, it will be this one.

Ranking: Toss Up

7. Pennsylvania OPEN Arlen Specter (D)

This race is another shape shifter that finally seems to have settled. First, Specter was a Republican who would face a primary against closeted conservative Pat Toomey (R) from Allentown. Specter switched parties and got another primary challenge, this time from Joe Sestak (D) from Delaware County. Specter lost the primary and gave a not so stirring concession speech. Sestak however was excited and energetic in his speech. He should be able to transfer that energy into the general election campaign. The issue is that Toomey is running to the center so he does not get Santorumed for being too conservative. Being more of an economic conservative, Toomey should have a shot at picking up suburban Philadelphia voters which Democrats must have to win in Pennsylvania. There is just one little problem: Sestak’s base is in suburban Philadelphia. This is one of those races that will be very close and to win, Sestak must hold on to the suburbs.

Ranking: Toss Up

8. Colorado Michael Bennett (D)

Bennett is facing a tough primary from the not so stellar fundraiser Andrew Romanoff (D). At first, I thought this was a race the Republicans would eventually win. Then like Virginia 2006, Montana 2006 and Nevada 2010, the Republicans made some mistakes. Ken Buck (R) is facing Jane Norton (R) in the primary. He called birthers (in case you do not know, birthers are people who believe Obama was not born in this country even if a newspaper announces Obama’s birth in Honolulu, Hawaii when Obama was born) dumba*ses which should play well in the general election (but not in the primary.) Also, the Governor’s race has imploded for the Republicans too. Tom Tancredo (R) is running as an Independent because Scott McInnis (R) plagiarized and this should split the Republican vote. The implosion may spread to the Senate race too so stand by for further developments.

Ranking: Toss Up/Tilt Democratic

9. Missouri OPEN Christopher Bond (R)

In a year like 2006 or 2008, this seat would be an easy pickup for the Democrats. Even in a neutral year, the Democrats would probably win this seat. The Democrats nominated Robin Carnahan (D), Missouri’s Secretary of State who won by 26 points in 2008 (she also received the largest number of votes for a candidate in Missouri history.) She did well in rural areas in that election and she has rural roots. If a Democrat wants to win in Missouri, he/she must keep down Republican margins in rural areas so urban areas allow Democrats to pull through in Missouri. Also, Carnahan is a good campaigner so it appears she is the best candidate the Democrats can find. She is the best candidate but the Republicans nominated Roy Blunt from conservative southwest Missouri. Yes, the Roy Blunt who was the Majority Whip during the Bush Administration. Most polls though show Blunt leading by a few points and this is probably because of Missouri’s conservative trend. Even Obama did not win the state while winning big in the St. Louis area and doing well near Kansas City too. Also, the recent statewide primary showed high Republican turnout and low Democratic turnout. Although Carnahan should make the race closer once she starts campaigning, this race looks more and more like a Republican hold.

Ranking: Toss Up/Tilt Republican

10. Kentucky OPEN Jim Bunning (R)

I considered taking this race off the list but I have decided to keep it here because the race could shift toward the Democrats quickly (although this seems less and less likely.) After winning a bruising primary against Daniel Mongirado (D), progressive Jack Conway (D) hopes to beat Rand Paul (R) who soundly beat the establishment’s favorite Trey Grayson (R). At first, Paul resembled a gaffe machine by saying he hopes to repeal part of the Civil Rights Act. Kentucky is a conservative state (Obama only won 41% of the vote here) but even here, Conway has been able to make the race close. Paul however has zipped his lips and is not making anymore gaffes. Conway is a strong candidate but he seems to have difficulties winning in the eastern Kentucky coal counties. For a Democrat to win in Kentucky, he/she must do extremely well in eastern Kentucky and carry the 5th Congressional district to offset Republican margins in western Kentucky. Overall, this appears to be just the wrong year for Conway. If Rand Paul makes a few more gaffes though…

Ranking: Lean Republican

Overall, expect Republicans to pick up 3-5 seats in the Senate.  

By what margin will Bob Shamansky win?

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SSP Daily Digest: 4/15 (Morning Edition)

  • CT-Sen: It looks like Dick Blumenthal, who hasn’t run a competitive race in 20 years, has a lot of rust to shed on the campaign trail. An NYT article paints an unflattering portrait of Blumenthal’s political skills, describing his long-winded and legalistic answers to simple questions, and a flop in a debate against an unknown primary opponent. (Please tell me why Blumenthal’s campaign team consented to a debate against Merrick Alpert in the first place?) None of this is making me feel very good.
  • KY-Sen: Heh – from the king of fuck-yous comes a final hurrah: Retiring Sen. Jim Bunning is endorsing weirdo Rand Paul in the Republican primary to succeed him, snubbing establishment pick Trey Grayson. Considering that Bunning was shoved aside very much against his will to make way for Grayson, this last knife-twist makes sense.
  • NY-Sen-B: Here’s one clear reason why Kirsten Gillibrand has scared off legions of opponents, including George Pataki: She raked in another $1.6 million in the first quarter, bringing her total raised since she became a senator to $8.8 million. No word on her cash-on-hand yet, though.
  • OH-Sen: Dem Lee Fisher’s Q1 haul doesn’t look too pretty – just $550K, and with only $1.8 million on hand, and his warchest will undoubtedly shrink heading into his primary with SoS Jennifer Brunner (Fisher just went up with an introductory TV ad). For her part, Brunner hasn’t released her numbers yet. (GOPer Rob Portman has $7.6 million on hand.)
  • FL-Gov: Yowza. Republican rich guy Rick Scott, who appeared on the gubernatorial scene out of nowhere just days ago, says he’ll spend $1.5 million of his own money on a statewide TV and radio ad buy this week. Is he trying to Meg Whitman his way into contention?
  • PA-12: The NRCC has spent another $50K on media on behalf of Tim Burns. The D-Trip hasn’t laid out any cash here yet.
  • TN-08: We noted in a previous digest that Rob Kirkland has been filing independent expenditures on behalf of his brother, Ron Kirkland, who is in the midst of a competitive GOP primary to replace retiring Rep. John Tanner. The two claim they are no longer communicating (if they did, they’d be violating the no-coordination rules required for IEs), but a local attorney (who is supporting another campaign, but won’t tell which) says he doesn’t buy it and has filed a complaint with the FEC.
  • WATN?: This is very good news: President Obama has nominated former Rep. Don Cazayoux to be U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana. Here’s hoping he is swiftly confirmed. Cazayoux is only 46, so this post would put him in great position to stage a return to electoral politics some day, if he so chooses.
  • SSP Daily Digest: 3/2

    AR-Sen: That didn’t take long; Lt. Gov. Bill Halter is already hitting the TV airwaves in his freshly-launched primary challenge to Blanche Lincoln. Now, you may be wondering how he’s paying for that, considering that he’s starting almost from scratch. Turns out he’s coming into this with promises of huge financial backing from organized labor; three unions under the AFL-CIO umbrella are committing $3 million to independent expenditures in the race, which in the cheap Arkansas media markets will allow him to get on a solid footing against Lincoln’s $5 mil. That’s on top of $600K that poured in from the netroots (from MoveOn and the PCCC). See what happens when you piss off your base?

    Rasmussen also snapped into action, putting out some further Arkansas numbers, and oddly, they aren’t anywhere near as catastrophic for Lincoln as last month. They still don’t have her in salvageable shape, though: Lincoln loses to Rep. John Boozman 48-39 (compared with 54-35 last month), state Sen. Gilbert Baker 45-40 (compared with 52-33 last month), state Sen. Jim Holt 45-38, state Sen. Kim Hendren 43-38, and businessman Curtis Coleman 43-41. This is Rasmussen’s first time testing Bill Halter, and for now, he’s performing about the same or somewhat worse than Lincoln. Halter trails Boozman 52-33, Baker 44-37, Holt 42-38, Hendren 42-35, and Coleman 38-35.

    CA-Sen: DavidNYC’s description of this development pretty much speaks for itself: “The lord taketh away Harold Ford, but may grace us with — I know it’s hard to imagine — an even BIGGER douchebag.” Mickey Kaus, the contrarian, Conservadem blogger, is apparently considering a run for Senate in California, taking out (though not yet filing) the appropriate candidate paperwork. Interestingly, I see no discussion of whether he plans to run in the Democratic primary against Barbara Boxer, or as an indie or a GOPer — not that he’s likely to provide much more than comic relief in any of the three categories.

    GA-Sen: Democrats may be kicking themselves for dropping the recruitment ball this year on a challenger to Johnny Isakson for his first re-election bid to the Senate. Rasmussen found him leading Generic D by a not-overwhelming 49-36 last week, and now PPP finds him with a similar but even less convincing win over Generic D, 46-37. Isakson’s approvals are a rather Richard Burr-ish 36/38. However, as seen in North Carolina, Generic D overperforms Real D: in case AG Thurbert Baker was considering jumping over from the gubernatorial race (where he badly lags ex-Gov. Roy Barnes in the primary), he trails Isakson 49-31. Jim Martin, who performed fairly well in the 2008 Senate election, does a little better, losing 47-35.

    KY-Sen: As Jim Bunning keeps up his Bizzaro-world Mr. Smith Goes to Washington impression (filibustering to cut off Boy Scouts’ dads’ unemployment compensation), he’s drawing the attention of two of his would-be successors. Democratic Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo has called for a rally at Bunning’s Lexington office to protest Bunning’s crazy last stand, while Rand Paul’s campaign in now responding with its own counter-rally in support Bunning’s efforts. (Paul won’t be there himself, and it’s not clear if Mongiardo will either.)

    NY-Sen-B: There’s speculation that Harold Ford Jr.’s decision to abandon his Senate plans may have a lot to do with the likelihood of a Mort Zuckerman run on the Republican side — and that a lot of Ford’s moneybags donors were telling him they were with Zuckerman instead if he got in. Or, maybe Ford just got wind of his poll numbers in today’s Marist poll (pdf), giving him little shot at pulling the upset. In the Dem primary, Ford trailed Kirsten Gillibrand 50-19 (with 3 for Jonathan Tasini). Considering that Ford collapsed from an already-bad 44-27 in late January’s Marist poll as he gained notoriety all last month, that seems like plenty of incentive to get out. Gillibrand trails the unlikely-to-run George Pataki in the general 48-45, but demolishes Zuckerman, 59-26, as well as the already-running Bruce Blakeman, 58-28. In the other Senate race, undeclared candidate Larry Kudlow might want to save his money; Charles Schumer leads Kudlow 69-24.

    OK-Sen: Rasmussen keeps polling everything that’s pollable, and today that includes the Oklahoma Senate race. No Democrat of note has stepped up to challenge Tom Coburn, and that may be just as well, as the Dems’ best possible candidate, the state’s popular, termed-out Democratic Governor  Brad Henry, still finds himself losing a hypothetical battle to Coburn, 52-40.

    TX-Sen: Kay Bailey Hutchison is still insisting that she’s going to resign from the Senate at some point this year, despite the very very very very high likelihood of not winning the Texas gubernatorial primary which looked like hers for the taking a year ago. She still isn’t sure about a date, although it’s pegged to the legislative calendar, as before resigning she plans to, in her words, “stay and fight health care.” PPP’s Tom Jensen sees some interesting possible winners in Hutchison’s fall: Robin Carnahan and Lee Fisher. The scope of Hutchison’s loss tonight may give some insight into just how much this year’s discontent is an anti-Beltway insider, rather than anti-Democratic, bubble. The former, of course, would be a boost to statehouse vets Carnahan and Fisher (ahem, or Jennifer Brunner) as they fight DC hacks Roy Blunt and Rob Portman.

    CA-Gov: Apparently, after having spent months meditating away whatever bad vibes he may have felt about the role thrust upon his shoulders as the only man who can save California, Jerry Brown has emerged from his Fortress of Solitude and officially declared his candidacy for Governor. Unfortunately, while he was away, Ursa and Non have had uncontested months to rampage around the city destroying things… although thanks to Brown’s super-powers of bafflement and misdirection, they’ve gotten bamboozled into slugging it out viciously with each other instead. (Meanwhile, General Zod has already left town for the more interesting Senate race.)

    GA-Gov: Insider Advantage has polls of both primaries in the Georgia gubernatorial race, although no general election head-to-heads. No surprises on either side: on the Dem side, Roy Barnes is cruising at 36, followed by Thurbert Baker at 7, DuBose Porter at 3, and David Poythress at 2. On the GOP side, John Oxendine leads at 27, followed by Karen Handel at 13, Nathan Deal at 9, Eric Johnson at 7, and Other at 8. While Nathan Deal’s resignation is being spun as allowing him to focus full-time on his seemingly tractionless bid, there’s a darker side to it, too: TPM reports on how he was getting out one step ahead of the Ethics Committee, which was starting to look into allegations of Deal pressuring state officials to intervene on behalf of an auto inspection business that Deal co-owns. With Deal out of the House, the case is closed, at least at the federal level.

    MI-Gov: May the Schwarz be with us! It may be the only way we can salvage the Michigan gubernatorial race. Joe Schwarz, the ticked-off moderate ex-Rep. from MI-07 (who got teabagged by Tim Walberg in a GOP primary before getting teabagged was fashionable), is launching an exploratory committee for a gubernatorial run as an independent. This could be a big break for Dems in the gubernatorial race — especially if obnoxious Rep. Peter Hoekstra is the GOP nominee, as Schwarz seems poised to soak up a fair number of moderate votes unenthused by Hoekstra’s right-wing grandstanding. Schwarz seems more likely to be Chris Daggett than Jesse Ventura, though, and if things get really scrambled — for instance, an all-centrist three-way between Andy Dillon, Rick Snyder, and Schwarz — he could potentially harm the Dems as much as the GOP.

    NY-Gov (pdf): Marist also takes a look at the Governor’s race. Seeing as how this is their first poll after David Paterson’s announcement that he wouldn’t run for re-election, it’s also the first poll in a long time to contain any good news for Paterson: only 28% of respondents want him to resign, as opposed to 66% who say finish his term. And only 18% think Paterson has done anything illegal, as opposed to a mere 40% who think he merely did something unethical, not illegal. (The bad news: his approval is down to 23/71, which has to be a new low.) With the participants in November’s election now pretty much locked in, they find AG Andrew Cuomo beating ex-Rep. Rick Lazio 64-28. Cuomo’s halo may be shining even brighter as his office begins investigating Paterson; Cuomo’s approval is 67/28.

    RI-Gov: One more Rasmussen poll to add to the pile, and they’re seeing more or less what Brown Univ. saw last week, regarding the Rhode Island gubernatorial race. Independent ex-Sen. Lincoln Chafee is definitely in the driver’s seat, although Dem state Treasurer Frank Caprio polls better against him than does AG Patrick Lynch. Only difference here: Rasmussen sees Republican John Robitaille performing much better, although he’s still deep in third place. Chafee wins the Caprio race 37-27-19, while he wins the Lynch race 38-24-22.

    GA-07: One of the guys considered a heavyweight in the GOP field in this newly-opened-up seat in the R+16 7th has decided against a run. State Sen. David Shafer announced he’ll take a pass. Fellow state Sen. Don Balfour is already in the running, with state Rep. Clay Cox and Gwinnett Co. Commissioner Mike Beaudreau also expected to join him soon.

    MA-10: Maybe I spoke too soon in thinking that Joe Kennedy III’s decision not to run next year was an indication of another term of William Delahunt. It turns out Delahunt has been on a bit of a grotesque spending spree, burning through $560K of his campaign cash last year (including campaign staff salaries for a number of family members). This cuts his war chest in half, and he only raised $42K last year — all actions of a man eyeing the exits. If Delahunt needs something to do with his money, I can think of a certain “DCCC” that could really use help right now, probably much more so than his family members. (H/t Adam B.)

    MI-03: State Sen. Bill Hardiman (termed-out from his current job) announced that he’ll run for the open seat in the 3rd, left behind by retiring Vern Ehlers. Hardiman faces state Rep. Justin Amash, already coronated as frontrunner by western Michigan GOP power brokers Dick and Betsy DeVos. If the former Kentwood mayor survives his primary, he’s on his way to returning the Republicans back to having at least one African-American in Congress.

    NY-St. Sen.: Give Hiram Monserrate credit for persistence, I guess. Having become the first sitting New York state Senator to get expelled in decades after an assault conviction, Monserrate promptly picked himself up, dusted himself off, and began running in the special election to replace himself. This time, Monserrate is running as an independent, against Democratic Assemblyman Jose Peralta. Peralta has the advantage of the support of the entire Democratic establishment, but Monserrate has one thing on his side: name recognition (not necessarily for good PR, but still…).

    Ads: 501(c)(4) League of American Voters is running anti-health care reform TV ads against a whole slew of swing-district Democrats, hoping to sway a few wobblies in the run-up to the next House vote: Mike Arcuri, Dan Maffei, Chris Carney, Paul Kanjorski, Kathy Dahlkemper, Baron Hill, Steve Kagen, Alan Mollohan, Nick Rahall, Tom Perriello, Mark Schauer, Zach Space, and Harry Teague.

    Special elections: And you thought the Texas primary was all that was on tap tonight? No, there are two special elections for state Houses, both of which look pretty competitive. The Dems are trying to hold a seat in Virginia in HD-41 in a swingy part of Fairfax County, recently vacated by Dave Marsden’s promotion to the state Senate. The Democratic candidate, Eileen Filler-Corn, may have the edge, in that she has a 3-to-1 fundraising edge over Kerry Bolognese, and the district went for Obama with 57%. On the other hand, Bolognese came within 50-49 of Marsden last fall, and Bob McDonnell won the district with 55%. (Both candidates, unappealingly enough, are lobbyists by day.) The GOP has the edge in the House of Delegates, 59-38-2. And in Connecticut, Democrats are gunning for a pickup in the Stratford-based HD-120, which was vacated by Republican John Harkins becoming Stratford mayor. Democrat Janice Anderson lost against Republican state Sen. Dan Debicella in 2008, although she beat Debicella in the portion of that district that comprises the 120th. She faces off against GOPer Laura Hoydick; the stakes are a little lower here, as the Dems control the state House 114-36.

    SSP Daily Digest: 12/10

    CT-Sen: Joe Biden is stopping by Connecticut yet again to fill up Chris Dodd’s coffers with a fundraising event tomorrow. This comes against a backdrop of increasing questions from the press of whether or not Dodd will be retiring (or getting pushed out the door by the party)… suggesting the beginning of the same self-fulfilling downward spiral that dragged down Jim Bunning, who’d similarly worn down his welcome on the other side of the aisle.

    FL-Sen: Marco Rubio is making a strange ploy here, when the substance of his previous campaign has all been more-conservative-than-thou. He now says he would have accepted stimulus funds, had he been governor. Maybe he’s already thinking ahead to how he’ll have to moderate things, once he’s in the general?

    IL-Sen: With the Illinois primary fast-approaching, believe it or not, Alexi Giannoulias is hitting his cash stash to already go on the air with a second TV spot, again focusing on his jobs-saving efforts. On the GOP side, it looks like Rep. Mark Kirk‘s frequent flip-flopping is starting to catch the attention of the legacy media; the Sun-Times and AP are taking notice of his new McCain-ish attempts to harp on earmarks despite his own earmark-friendly past.

    NV-Sen: Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, recently cleared on corruption charges, had previously said that he wouldn’t seek to challenge Harry Reid in the Senate race. Now sources are saying Krolicki is, in fact, “interested.” It’s unclear whether Krolicki sustained an unfixable amount of damage as a result of the charges, though, or what sort of space he could seek to carve out in the already overcrowded GOP primary field.

    SD-Sen: You might recall a while back we noted that Matt McGovern, a clean energy activist, was considering a run to follow in his grandfather George’s footsteps in the Senate. Today he declined a run, leaving the Democrats without any candidate to go up against John Thune next year.

    TX-Sen: South Carolina’s Jim DeMint, increasingly the go-to guy for right-wing kingmaking, issued his fourth endorsement in a Senate primary, although this is the primary that may or may not ever happen. He gave his imprimatur to Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams, who’s been a darling of the rightosphere but who’s polled in the single-digits in the few polls of the special election field.

    MN-Gov: Here’s a fundraising boost to state House speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, who has lots of behind-the-scenes support in her DFL gubernatorial bid but a big name rec deficit against names like former Sen. Mark Dayton and Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak. She secured an EMILY’s List endorsement, giving her a nationwide base to tap into.

    SC-Gov: Mark Sanford may have dodged his final bullet, allowing him to serve out his last year in ignominious peace. A 7-member state House Judiciary subcommittee voted 6-1 against impeachment and instead unanimously for censure. The matter still goes before the full Judiciary committee, but they seem unlikely to reverse course.

    Governors: PPP has one of their frequent good observations: of the nation’s governors who have the worst approval ratings, most of them are ineligible or not planning to run for re-election in 2010 (Baldacci, Doyle, Perdue, Rendell, Schwarzenegger). The three who are running for re-election next year are all likely casualties in their own primaries (Brewer, Gibbons, and Paterson).

    FL-12: Outgoing Rep. Adam Putnam, who’s leaving his job to run for Florida’s Ag Commissioner, has given his endorsement to former state Rep. Dennis Ross to replace him. It’s something of a formality, with no other major GOPers in the race, but should help keep anyone else from last-minute gate-crasing.

    IL-10: Lots of endorsements in the 10th. On the GOP side, state Rep. Beth Coulson got the endorsement of moderate ex-Gov. Jim Edgar, the state’s only recent ex-Gov who’s still on the right side of the law. For the Dems, Dan Seals got the endorsement of the powerful New Trier Township Democrats, while state Rep. Julie Hamos was endorsed by Citizen Action.

    IL-14: Recent dropout Mark Vargas finally confirmed that he’ll be pulling his name off the ballot, leaving only the two biggest names. This comes as a relief to the camp of state Sen. Randy Hultgren, who were worried that name of Vargas (who endorsed Ethan Hastert) would stay on the ballot to split the anti-Hastert vote.

    LA-03: Wondering why no one prominent is leaping at the chance to fill the open seat left behind by Charlie Melancon? They know what we redistricting nerds at SSP already know… that seat is likely to vaporize in 2012, leaving any victory a short-lived booby prize. No elected officials of either party have thrown their hat in yet; attorney Ravi Sangisetty and oil field manager Kristian Magar are the only Dem and GOPer, respectively, who’ve gotten in.

    MN-07: Long-time Rep. Collin Peterson says he won’t decide until February on whether to run for re-election (although he has filed his paperwork to run). That may have a few hearts skipping a beat at the DCCC, where a Peterson retirement would leave another GOP-leaning rural seat to defend — but Peterson says a late decision on sticking around is always standard operating procedure for him.

    NY-19: An initially generic Roll Call profile of Nan Hayworth, the moderate, wealthy ophthalmologist who’s the last GOPer left to go up against Rep. John Hall after more conservative and polarizing Assemblyman Greg Ball dropped out, has some interesting dirt buried deep in the article. They say that county-level party officials aren’t necessarily behind her, that there are three other (unnamed) persons interested in running, and there’s still a movement afoot in the district to get Ball back in the race.

    PA-06: Manan Trivedi, the underdog gaining steam in the Dem primary in the 6th, got an endorsement from a key moderate in the Pennsylvania delegation: the 10th district’s Chris Carney. Doug Pike got his own Congressional endorsement too, although from a little further afield: from Massachusetts’s Niki Tsongas. There are also rumors of a third potential Dem entrant to complicate matters: Lower Merion Township Commissioner Brian Gordon (not to be confused with his commission-mate Scott Zelov, who’s now considering a run on the GOP side).

    TN-08: State Rep. Jimmy Naifeh confirmed that he won’t run in a Democratic primary against state Sen. Roy Herron to take over retiring Rep. John Tanner’s seat. Naifeh, the House speaker for 18 years, is a legendary figure in Tennessee politics and would have posed a big challenge to Herron. Meanwhile, in a sign of their optimism, the NRCC bumped their farmer/gospel singer candidate, Stephen Fincher, up a slot in their three-tiered “Young Guns” program, from “On the Radar” up to “Contender.”

    VA-02, VA-05: The two top contenders in the GOP primary in the 2nd have already had one big proxy fight, backing different candidates in the Dec. 5 primary for an open, dark-red state Senate seat in Virginia Beach. Auto dealer Scott Rigell apparently won the skirmish, backing Jeff McWaters, who defeated Virginia Beach city councilor Rosemary Wilson, who was backed by businessman Ben Loyola. Loyola is running to the right of Rigell (who contributed to Barack Obama last year). Meanwhile, in the 2nd and the 5th, the GOP is faced with the same decision that often bedevils them: pick a nominee by primary election, party canvass, or party convention? With state Sen. Rob Hurt a strong general election contender in the 5th but generating suspicions among the base (for voting for Mark Warner’s tax hike), and with activist-dominated conventions often yielding unelectable candidates (see Gilmore, Jim), the decision can affect the GOP’s general election chances in each one.

    WA-01: Spunky Microserf rides to the rescue, against an entrenched, well-liked suburban Representative… on behalf of the GOP? That’s what’s up in the 1st, where never-before-elected Microsoft veteran James Watkins will go up against Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee, who’s had little trouble holding down the Dem-leaning district.

    NY-Comptroller: The New York Post (so keep the salt shaker handy) is reporting that ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer is still interested in a return to politics, and is looking seriously at the Comptroller’s race. It seemed up in the air as to whether he’d run in the Democratic primary against appointed incumbent Tom DiNapoli (also under reported primary threat from William Thompson) or as an independent.

    GA-St. Sen.: A famous family name is looking to get back into Georgia politics. Jimmy Carter’s grandson, 34-year-old attorney Jason Carter, is looking to run in the upcoming special election in the 42nd Senate district, a reliably Democratic area in western DeKalb County where current Senator David Adelman is resigning to become Ambassador to Singapore. Interestingly, Carter may run into trouble with the district’s large Jewish population, where his grandfather’s name has lost some of its luster because of his pronouncements on the Israel/Palestine saga.

    Mayors: In what seems like an astonishingly fast recount, state Sen. Kasim Reed was confirmed as victor in the Atlanta mayoral race. He defeated city councilor Mary Norwood by 714 votes, losing a grand total of one vote from the original count. Norwood has now conceded.

    House: Here’s a concept from the 70s we don’t hear much about anymore: the “misery index.” But Republican pollster POS dusted off the idea, looking at 13 “change” midterm elections where the average Election Day misery index (unemployment plus inflation) was 10.1, and in which the average loss among the White House party was 26 seats. They point out that today’s misery index is 10.02 (although, assuming unemployment declines over the next year, so too will the misery index).

    Redistricting: Moves are afoot in two different states to make the redistricting process fairer. In Illinois, a statewide petition drive is underway to take redistricting out of hands of the legislature and give it to an independent commission. And in Florida, as we’ve discussed before, two initiatives are on their way to the ballot that would require districts to be compact and not take partisanship into account. The GOP-held legislature is challenging them, however, in the state Supreme Court; part of their argument is that this runs afoul of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision on “crossover” districts in Bartlett v. Strickland.

    KY-Sen: Bunning Will Retire


    Embattled U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning has announced that he will not seek re-election to a third term in 2010.

    His decision ends months of speculation that he would drop out of the Senate race because of his inability to raise money, poor poll numbers and lack of support from top Republican officials.

    Needless to say, this race just got a whole lot tougher — and less fun. However, Democrats will still have a solid shot at this seat as long as the primary between Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo and state AG Jack Conway doesn’t get too bitter. (Mongiardo hasn’t been playing too nicely so far, but it’s still early.)

    UPDATE: Straight from the horse’s mouth:

    “To win a general election, a candidate has to be able to raise millions of dollars to get the message out to voters,” Bunning said in a statement. “Over the past year, some of the leaders of the Republican Party in the Senate have done everything in their power to dry up my fundraising. The simple fact is that I have not raised the funds necessary to run an effective campaign for the U.S. Senate. For this reason, I will not be a candidate for re-election in 2010.”

    Shorter Bunning: I let McConnell roll me, because I’m a sadsack.

    LATER UPDATE: In the comments, trowaman has a pretty good suggestion for Bunning; he should make good on his earlier threat to resign and let Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear select his replacement! What better revenge could there possibly be against McConnell and the NRSC?

    RaceTracker Wiki: KY-Sen

    SSP Daily Digest: 7/16

    FL-Sen: Although Rep. Corrine Brown, who’s expressed interest in running in the Democratic Senate primary, has been pretty inactive on the fundraising front, she did get at least one prominent donor to her Senate exploratory account: Rep. Donna Edwards, who gave her $1,000. (Edwards also gave to Rep. Kendrick Meek’s account on the same day — but only $250 to him.)

    KY-Sen: Jim Bunning finally released his fundraising numbers, and they’re still “lousy.” He raised $285K for the quarter, with $595K CoH, which is less than half of the amount raised by the guy who says he won’t run against Bunning in the primary, SoS Trey Grayson (who raised $603K). Both, of course, are dwarfed by Democratic AG Jack Conway, who raised $1.32 million for the quarter and is increasingly looking like the man to beat. (Conway’s primary rival, Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo, pulled in a lukewarm $303K.) Meanwhile, in another indication of Bunning’s dwindling power, lots of elected GOP officials seem willing to out themselves as Grayson supporters: Grayson got contributions from three state Reps., city councilors from Louisville and Lexington, and executives from three large counties.

    NH-Sen: One more indicator that there’s still going to be a contested GOP primary in New Hampshire: local political insider and long-time friend of AG Kelly Ayotte Mike Dennehy isn’t going to be working for Ayotte. He’s been working with businessman Fred Tausch on his anti-tax STEWARD organization since last fall, and will continue to do so.

    NC-Sen: Kenneth Lewis, a Durham corporate attorney who’s planning to run for the Democratic Senate nomination in 2010, made a big hire: Joe Trippi. It suggests, if nothing else, Lewis plans to spend a lot of money on the race, and maybe also that he’s interested in reaching out the netroots (although he may have some competition on that front, if he runs, from former state Sen. Cal Cunningham).

    NM-Gov: If ex-Rep. Heather Wilson doesn’t get in, the New Mexico GOP is left with a bunch of third-stringers for the governor’s race. Here’s a newly interested potential candidate, though, who’s at least interesting from a demographic perspective: Susana Martinez. She’s the DA of Dona Ana County, location of Las Cruces and New Mexico St. Univ., the state’s second-most populous county and one of its Democratic anchors. Running a Latina against an Anglo (likely Dem nominee Lt. Gov. Diane Denish) might also help the GOP peel off some ordinarily-Dem votes.

    NY-14: Roll Call previews the many possible Democratic replacements for Carolyn Maloney, if she follows through on her planned Senate race. On the Manhattan side of the East River, state Sen. Liz Krueger is at the top of the list. Younger up-and-comers, though, include city councilor Dan Garodnick, state Assemblyman Jonathan Bing (both of whom are Maloney allies and unlikely to run against each other), and city councilor Jessica Lappin. On the Queens side, there’s also city councilors Eric Gioia and Peter Vallone Jr. (son of the former council speaker), and Assemblyman Michael Gianaris. Karenna Gore Schiff (Al Gore’s daughter) has also been rumored, although she told TPM today she won’t run.

    PA-06: With Rep. Jim Gerlach gone, the primary opponents are descending on this open seat… but contrary to what I would have expected a few months ago, it’s happening on the GOP side. While state Rep. Curt Schroder got in, as expected, he didn’t clear the field: Chester County Recorder of Deeds Ryan Costello also said he’s likely to get in. Also, Guy Ciarrocchi, Gerlach’s former chief of staff, is interested, and Chester County Commissioner Carol Aichele’s name has been floated, although she’s already exploring a Lt. Gov. race. On the Dem side, Doug Pike’s early fundraising dominance may have locked things down for him, although the Hill says potential heavyweight state Sen. Andy Dinniman is still “eyeing” the race, as well as Manan Trivedi (a former health care policy advisor to the Obama campaign).

    VA-05: One last fundraising tidbit, that apparently couldn’t fit in James’s fundraising wrap-up because it rounds off to $0. Ex-Rep. Virgil Goode raised sub-Roland Burris totals last quarter: $154. Not the kind of money that suggests a rematch against Rep. Tom Perriello.

    Demographics: Two interesting reads you’ll want to check out: one from Ruy Teixeira, on how the rise of the millennial generation, more “seculars,” and more Latinos all point to an imminent end to the “culture wars.” And also an important 538 piece from Nate Silver, where he somehow got his hands on polling data on uninsured voters broken down by CD, finding that — unlike voting against cap-and-trade, where their districts tend to be more carbon-reliant and voting against the measure might seem short-term rational — Blue Dogs are disproportionately from districts that are heavy on uninsured voters and voting for the bill would, if framed correctly, be a big boon for their districts’ voters. With the public option still hanging in the balance, if you’re represented by a Blue Dog (although, if you’re reading SSP, chances are that you aren’t), this would be a great piece to forward to them.

    SSP Daily Digest: 7/7

    MN-Sen: Our long national nightmare is finally over: Senator Al Franken was sworn in today, without any weird last minute gambits by Norm Coleman. Harry Reid announced he’ll be on the HELP, Judiciary, Aging, and Indian Affairs Committees.

    KY-Sen: Jim Bunning, via his regular teleconference with reporters, reminds us that he’s still running for Senate. Bunning also thinks that he won’t outraise SoS Trey Grayson (who raised $600,000 in the 2nd quarter) for the quarter, but it doesn’t matter because Grayson won’t stay in the race if Bunning stays in too.

    OR-Gov: Here’s a surprise: Democratic rising star state Rep. Brian Clem suddenly made his presence known in the Oregon governor’s race, launching an exploratory committee and filling up his coffers with a $500,000 loan from his mother-in-law. The 37-year-old Clem, who has represented part of Salem since 2006, implied that he wouldn’t pull the trigger on a run, though, if former Gov. John Kitzhaber got into the race.

    SC-Gov: Mark Sanford may get to keep his job after all (thanks in part to Sarah Palin creating a distraction). The state GOP voted yesterday to censure Sanford over his doomed tango, rather than call for his resignation.

    HI-01: Roll Call takes a quick look at who might run for the seat being left behind by Rep. Neil Abercrombie. Top of the list is Ed Case, a Blue Dog who used to represent HI-02 but gave up his seat for an ill-fated primary run against Sen. Dan Akaka and pissed off a lot of the Democratic base along the way. They also cite state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, former state House majority leader Kirk Caldwell, state Democratic Party chair Brian Schatz, and also Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who’s currently exploring the governor’s race but conceivably could switch races if he doesn’t get any traction in the primary against Abercrombie. Also, we can’t rule out Republican Honolulu city councilor Charles Djou, who seems well-thought-of but faces a steep climb given the state’s lean.

    IL-07: CQ provides a similar laundry list of potential candidates in IL-07, assuming Rep. Danny Davis leaves an open seat to run for President of the Cook County Board instead. Davis’s former Chief of Staff Richard Boykin tops the list, but there’s also state Reps. LaShawn Ford and Karen Yarbrough, state Sen. Rickey Hendon, and Aldermen Dorothy Tillman and Ed Smith. (No mention of any Republicans here, unsurprising since it’s D+35.)

    NY-03: Here are some folks who’d especially like Rep. Peter King to Beat It, following his Off the Wall remarks disparaging the nonstop coverage of Michael Jackson. They’ve started “Michael Jackson Fans Against Peter King” on ActBlue and have already raised several thousand dollars for whoever steps up to run in the 3rd.

    NY-14: With Rep. Carolyn Maloney looking more likely to follow through on her Senate primary challenge, state Sen. Liz Krueger, whose turf closely overlaps the 14th, has been getting a lot of encouragement to run for the open seat. Krueger sounds politely interested, saying “I’ve never been in Congress so I don’t know if it’s less frustrating. But I suspect pretty much any job in the United States of America would be less frustrating than Albany in the last three weeks.”

    NY-23: A potentially strong candidate for the GOP nomination in the upcoming NY-23 special election has taken himself out of consideration: Assemblyman Will Barclay. Unfortunately for us, this may make the primary path easier for moderate GOP Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, who would be a tougher general election foe; the more conservative Barclay, remember, was the loser of the state Senate special election to Darrel Aubertine last year. Two other minor GOPers added their names to the list as well: YMCA director Andrew Bisselle and businessman Bart Bonner.

    OH-15: His candidacy was already well in the works, but GOP former state Senator Steve Stivers made it official today that he’s seeking a rematch against Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy, who barely won the open seat in 2008. Stivers may have an opening in 2010 if there’s less Obama-driven college turnout in this district dominated by Ohio St., and no pro-life independent candidate siphoning votes from his right flank.

    TN-09: Burned-out Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton seems to have a pattern and practice of delaying his planned resignations whenever things don’t quite go right for him. Herenton, who’d planned to resign in order to devote himself full-time to his primary challenge to Rep. Steve Cohen, pushed back his resignation date (planned for July 11) to July 30, citing some unfinished items of business.

    House: The Hill throws together an interesting catch-all of ten “dark horse” House races, one of which is already threatening to be top tier (TX-10), one of which features an intriguing Dem primary (FL-02), and some of which are interesting because of changing demographics (TX-32) or changing political tides (all three Dem seats in Arkansas).

    DGA/RGA: In keeping with the sense that the real battlegrounds in 2010 are going to be the gubernatorial races, the DGA and RGA are both raising like gangbusters. The DGA raised $11.6 million in the first half of the year, a record for them, but the RGA nosed ahead of them, raising $12.2 million.

    Census: A coalition of Colorado local governments joins New York’s legislature in laying out its own funds to help assist the Census Bureau in putting together an accurate count by reducing undercounting. While Colorado isn’t likely to gain or lose a House seat in 2010, it’s still important in terms of securing federal funds, and with much of the state’s growth coming among Latinos, the risk of undercounting is high.

    Campaign Finance: Florida’s Republican SoS, Kurt Browning, has decided not to appeal a federal court’s ruling that found a state law regulating 527s was unconstitutional. With major implications for the Florida governor’s race, now 527s can operate without disclosure requirements on who they are and who funds them. (Florida has strict $500 limits on individual contributions, so 527s are especially important there.)

    Trivia: Wondering who the last Governor to resign in mid-term to focus on a presidential run was? New York’s Nelson Rockefeller, in 1973. He never made it to the presidential run, although he did wind up briefly serving as Gerald Ford’s fill-in vice-president.

    DSCC: Friend of SSP and once-and-future DKos editor Arjun Jaikumar (f/k/a brownsox) is not just the DSCC’s new media guru – he’s also up for The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful in DC. Vote for the good-looking bastard by sending an email. (D)

    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: 6/17

    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: 6/16

    AR-Sen: The leader of Arkansas teabaggers’ movement, Tom Cox, has decided that he’ll run for the GOP nomination for Senate to run against Blanche Lincoln. Cox is the owner of Aloha Pontoon Boats, where he had a little trouble last year with a federal raid turned up 13 illegal immigrants working for him… which doesn’t sound like it’ll play well with his ideal base voters. In the primary, he’ll face off against an anti-semitic state senator and some Huckabee buddy who owns a food safety company.

    FL-Sen: The movement conservatives continue to square off against the establishment in the GOP Florida Senate primary. Jim DeMint, probably the most conservative senator by most metrics and with a sizable grass roots following, just endorsed Marco Rubio.

    IL-Sen: Rep. Mark Kirk still refuses to say what exactly he’s doing, but he promises that he’s raising money “for a big campaign.” (His last few House races have been big-money affairs, so who knows what that means?)

    KS-Sen: Dems seem to be moving closer to actually having a candidate in the Kansas Senate race: former newspaper editor Charles Schollenberger, who formed an exploratory committee.

    KY-Sen: State Senate President David Williams had publicly contemplated getting into the GOP primary against Jim Bunning, even meeting with the NRSC, but he said yesterday that he won’t run. He refused to officially endorse anybody, but said he was most excited about philanthropist and former ambassador Cathy Bailey among the possible candidates.

    NY-Sen-B: Rep. Carolyn Maloney has set a July 4th deadline for deciding whether or not to run in the Senate primary. Meanwhile, Kirsten Gillibrand picked up two endorsement from groups with a lot of on-the-ground firepower: New York State United Teachers and (cue the Phase 5 wingnut freakout) ACORN. Rep. Peter King, on the GOP side, set his own deadline, saying he’ll decide whether or not to run by Labor Day. Also today is word that Barack Obama had King in his sights as he cut a swath through Northeast Republicans by offering him a job — in his case, ambassador to Ireland, which King declined.

    PA-Sen: Looks like that Act of God never happened, because Rep. Joe Sestak is actively staffing up for a Senate primary challenge to Arlen Specter.

    WV-Sen: With 91-year-old Robert Byrd having been in the hospital for nearly a month now and not planning an immediate return to the Senate, there have been some behind-the-scenes discussions of what happens if he can’t return to office. West Virginia state Democratic party chair Nick Casey is seen as the consensus choice to serve as placeholder until the 2010 election, if need be.

    AZ-Gov: This can’t be helping Jan Brewer (the Republican SoS who ascended to the governor’s mansion to replace Janet Napolitano) as she considers whether or not to run for a full term: she’s in a standoff with her Republican-controlled legislature over the budget, almost single-handedly leaving the state on track to a government shutdown.

    FL-Gov: David Hill, a top GOP pollster in Florida, is leery about the chances for AG Bill McCollum (who’s already lost statewide twice, and now is trying to transparently reboot himself as a Charlie Crist-style moderate) in the gubernatorial election. He says he’s been actively encouraging state Senator Paula Dockery to follow through on jumping into the primary.

    KS-Gov: Sen. Sam Brownback got some good news: SoS Ron Thornburgh decided to get out of the GOP primary, leaving Brownback a clear path. (Not that Thornburgh was going to pose much of a threat, which is why he got out.) And finally a Democratic state Senator, Chris Steineger, seems to be getting into the race for Team Blue — although he sounds like a bit of a loose cannon, having pissed off most of the state party establishment at various points.

    MI-Gov: George Perles, the 75-year-old former football coach at Michigan State and currently an MSU trustee (which is a statewide elected position) announced that he’s running for the Democratic nomination. He joins Lt. Gov. John Cherry in the field, who seems to have most of the establishment backing so far.

    MN-Gov: Contrary to earlier reports, Rep. Michele Bachmann hasn’t quite ruled out a bid for Governor in 2010, what with Tim Pawlenty stepping down. She expresses her ambivalence with some nice Harlequin romance novel phrasing: “If my heart moved in the other direction and I had the tug, I’d do it. I wouldn’t be afraid to run for office. I just don’t feel the tug.”

    NV-Gov: Another GOPer is sniffing out the governor’s race (kind of a no-brainer, given the world of shit Jim Gibbons is in): Reno mayor Bob Cashell, who was last seen endorsing Harry Reid a few weeks ago. Of course, there’s the risk that if too many credible GOP challengers get in, Gibbons has a better shot at surviving the primary via a badly split vote… although facing a wounded Gibbons in the general would probably be the best scenario for the Dems.