SSP Daily Digest: 3/30

  • AR-Sen: Bill Halter has a new ad up going after Sen. Blanche Lincoln for her vote in favor of TARP – aka the bailout. As is all too often the case with these kinds of reports, there’s no indication of how big the ad buy is.
  • CA-Sen, CA-Gov: Man, the news cycle moves fast these days. The RNC bondage-themed nightclub scandal (which I’m sure you’ve read all about) already had some same-day blowback. GOP senate candidate Chuck DeVore says he’s “severed all ties” with Erik Brown, a consultant who seems to be responsible for the expenses racked up at Voyeur West Hollywood. The Daily Caller (which broke the story originally) also says that Brown did work for Republican gubernatorial hopeful Steve Poizner. Meanwhile, Politico’s Dave Catanese tweets that freshman Sen. Claire McCaskill is sending out a fundraising email for Barbara Boxer.
  • CT-Sen: In the somewhat strange Connecticut Republican senate primary, Paulist economist Peter Schiff has put out his first TV ad… and it doesn’t mention that he’s a Republican. Schiff is spending half a mil to run the ad statewide for two weeks. Schiff also promised to run in the August primary even if he doesn’t get the party nomination at the May convention.
  • KS-Sen: Things have gotten a little worse for Todd Tiahrt in his race against Jerry Moran in the GOP primary to succeed outgoing Sen. Sam Brownback: SUSA now shows Moran up 42-32. Two months ago, Moran led by seven points – and by just three two months before that. The Kansas primary is not until August 3rd, so Tiahrt still has time, but he doesn’t seem to be gaining much traction.
  • KY-Sen: Now things are getting good:
  • Trey Grayson, Kentucky’s secretary of state, used his latest ad to again hammer his rival, Bowling Green eye surgeon Rand Paul, on national security issues.

    “Paul even wonders whether 9/11 was our fault,” a female announcer says in the spot that began airing Thursday. The commercial then shows Paul speaking at a Blue Grass Policy Institute forum in March 2009, saying: “Maybe some of the bad things that happen are a reaction to our presence in some of these countries.”

    I just hope that Grayson doesn’t nuke Paul before our nominee (hopefully Jack Conway) gets a chance to pummel him in the general.

  • NC-Sen: A good get for former state Sen. Cal Cunningham: Gen. Wesley Clark endorsed his fellow Army veteran for the Democratic senate nod. Interestingly, Clark specifically noted Cunningham’s support for ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
  • NY-Sen-B: Marist finds ex-Gov. George Pataki with the narrowest of leads over Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, 47-45, essentially unchanged from last month’s 48-45 margin. This is all well and good for Republicans, but Pataki hasn’t given the slightest indication that he’s interested in running.
  • GA-Gov: Looks like Nathan Deal didn’t quit quite fast enough. The Office of Congressional Ethics found (according to the NYT) that Deal “appeared to have improperly used his office to pressure Georgia officials to continue a vehicle inspection program that generated hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for his family’s auto salvage business.”  I wonder how much of an impact this will have in the governor’s race, though, since Deal had mostly been floundering in the polls. Maybe it’ll just be the final nail in his political coffin – a suiting end for a party-switching ex-Democrat.
  • IA-Gov: GOP ex-Gov. and comeback hopeful Terry Branstad is up with his first TV ad of the campaign. No word on the size of the buy, though.
  • MD-Gov: The Baltimore Sun profiles would-be GOP gubernatorial candidate (and ex-gov) Bob Ehrlich and finds that his current job is “‘rainmaker’ for the Baltimore branch of North Carolina-based law firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice. Ehrlich describes his job as being ‘the face of the firm,’ with his duties including ‘speeches, coffees, dinners, lunches, meetings.'” Sounds like Ehrlich’s been working on honing his Dan Coats/Tommy Thompson pedigree.
  • FL-08: Rep. Alan Grayson, one of the wealthiest members of Congress and a man who has largely self-funded his past campaigns, raised almost half a million dollars in a recent “moneybomb.”
  • NY-13: It looks like the GOP has some primary woes of its own in the 13th CD. Though the Republican establishment is coalescing around former FBI agent Mike Grimm, lawyer Michael Allegretti is vowing to fight on. He’s recently gone up with an ad on cable (so presumably a small buy) demanding repeal of the healthcare reform bill.
  • NY-23: Hah! Could the unlikable Doug Hoffman foment yet another right-wing split? Hoffman is laying claim to the Conservative Party line in this fall’s election, and he’s making the argument that whoever runs for the Republicans will need both lines in order to win. (Pretty plausible!) This is pissing off local GOP leaders, though, who are taking this as a threat to nominate Hoffman – or else face yet another divided ballot. This is some Fancy Feast-level cat fud we’re talking about.
  • NY-29: A more complete list of candidates interviewed by upstate Dems as potential nominees for the special election to fill ex-Rep. Eric Massa’s seat:
  • Mary Wilmot, an aide to Gov. David Paterson, Assemblyman David Koon of Perinton, past candidate for state Senate and businessman David Nachbar of Pittsford, Southern Tier native Matthew Zeller, and Michael McCormick of Allegany County

    Wonder if we might be missing a name, though, since yesterday word was that the Dems would be interviewing six people.

  • OH-16, OH-18: CQ: “Businessman Jim Renacci, who is taking on freshman Rep. John Boccieri in the 16th district, and state Sen. Bob Gibbs, who is running against two-term Rep. Zack Space in the adjacent 18th district, established a joint fundraising committee, ‘Gibbs-Renacci for Congress’ and will split the proceeds evenly.”
  • PA-06: Manan Trivedi is chipping away at Doug Pike’s big lead among organized labor. He picked up a couple of local union endorsements, from the Transport Workers and the Iron Workers.
  • TN-08: Republican potentates are showering even more love on Steve Fincher, this time in the form of a campaign tour with GA Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (of “Obama is uppity” fame). Fincher has a lot of money, but like almost every GOP candidate with establishment backing, he faces a primary from ever-truer conservatives.
  • Census: There’s some speculation that anti-government attitudes (and paranoid black-helicopterism) might be the cause of low Census response rates in Texas. Though the biggest challenge for the Census is typically presented by undercounted groups like blacks and Latinos, some of the lowest response rates are in fact coming from very Republican counties. It’ll be very interesting to compare response rates and voting history when all is said and done.
  • Redistricting: Nathan Gonzales has a detailed look at the powers that are gathering on both sides for the upcoming post-census redistricting battle.
  • AR-Sen: Boozman Demolishes Lincoln (If He Runs)

    PPP (pdf) (1/29-31, likely voters, 8/21-24 in parentheses)

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 33

    John Boozman (R): 56

    Undecided: 11

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 35 (40)

    Gilbert Baker (R): 50 (42)

    Undecided: 15 (18)

    Bill Halter (D): 30

    John Boozman (R): 53

    Undecided: 17

    Bill Halter (D): 34

    Gilbert Baker (R): 45

    Undecided: 21

    Wesley Clark (D): 36

    John Boozman (R): 51

    Undecided: 13

    Wesley Clark (D): 39

    Gilbert Baker (R): 45

    Undecided: 16

    Mike Ross (D): 37

    John Boozman (R): 48

    Undecided: 15

    Mike Ross (D): 39

    Gilbert Baker (R): 39

    Undecided: 22

    Mike Beebe (D): 43

    John Boozman (R): 44

    Undecided: 13

    Mike Beebe (D): 46

    Gilbert Baker (R): 38

    Undecided: 15

    (MoE: ±3.4%)

    Looks like Blanche Lincoln picked the wrong year to be a Democrat in Arkansas. Basically, Blanche Lincoln has become something of a Generic Congressional Democrat to the Arkansas electorate: 55% think that Congressional Democrats are too liberal (compared with 12% too conservative and 32% about right), and a very similar 52% think Lincoln is too liberal (with 14% too conservative and 28% about right). Clocking in at 27/62 approvals, she loses badly not only to the sort-of-known Rep. John Boozman (32/25 favorables) — who’s currently in a “I’m running but I’m not running yet” limbo — but the barely-known state Sen. Gilbert Baker (9/16, with 75% not sure).

    Substitute Democrats in the race fare little better, in case Lincoln gets the message and opts for a nice health insurance industry lobbyist job instead. The problem isn’t one of personalities (seeing as Dems have a strong bench here, including a freakin’ war hero) but the statewide brand, or more specifically, the state’s perception of the national party. This is best seen with the puzzling case of Gov. Mike Beebe, here with a 59/22 approval (not astounding, but probably still one of the best among all governors) but with a walking-on-water 82/9 in a different poll last month. Even Beebe, easily the most popular man in Arkansas, still loses to Boozman and is the only Dem to get past unknown Baker. Highly suggestive that Arkansas is happy to keep its Dems in-state, but currently very unenthused about sending them to the Senate. (See also conspiracy‘s diary.)

    Rasmussen (2-1, likely voters, 1/5 in parentheses)

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 35

    John Boozman (R): 54

    Some other: 4

    Not sure: 7

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 33 (39)

    Gilbert Baker (R): 52 (51)

    Some other: 6 (3)

    Not sure: 8 (7)

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 35 (39)

    Kim Hendren (R): 51 (47)

    Some other: 7 (4)

    Not sure: 7 (10)

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 34 (38)

    Curtis Coleman (R): 50 (48)

    Some other: 7 (4)

    Not sure: 9 (9)

    Blanche Lincoln (D-inc): 36 (38)

    Tom Cox (R): 50 (48)

    Some other: 6 (5)

    Not sure: 9 (9)

    (MoE: ±4.5%)

    It’s not every day that you see Rasmussen having a more optimistic view of a race than PPP, although here it may simply be a less catastrophic view. Boozman here leads by a mere 19. More alarming here, perhaps, are the trendlines on the races against the miscellaneous Republican parts and pieces here: they aren’t gaining ground so much as Lincoln is further losing ground, sinking down into the mid-30s regardless of opponent.

    RaceTracker Wiki: AR-Sen

    AR-Sen: Lincoln is toast according to PPP


    Some of the others poll better but even Beebe loses to Boozman.

    Lincoln 33

    Boozman 56

    Lincoln 35

    Baker 50

    Ross 37

    Boozman 48

    Ross 39

    Baker 39

    Halter 30

    Boozman 53

    Halter 34

    Baker 45

    Clark 36

    Boozman 51

    Clark 39

    Baker 45

    Beebe 43

    Boozman 44

    Beebe 46

    Baker 38

    For all you purists Lincoln’s problems are certainly not because she isn’t liberal enough. A majority of Arkansas voters say she is too liberal.

    The only silver lining is that these other Dems all have high “don’t knows” in terms of favorability but then so do both Boozman and Baker. I think we have to face facts – the state wants a Republican senator.

    SSP Daily Digest: 1/20

    CO-Sen, CO-Gov: After some flirtation with the idea of switching over to the open seat Governor’s race, or even endeavoring to become Lt. Governor, former State House speaker Andrew Romanoff announced yesterday that he’s going to keep doing what he’s doing (despite having made little headway at it so far): challenging appointed incumbent Michael Bennet in the Democratic Senate primary. Romanoff also threw his support to Denver mayor John Hickenlooper in the gubernatorial primary.

    FL-Sen: I wonder if we’ll see more of this from insurgent Democratic candidates. Former Miami mayor Maurice Ferre, looking for some sort of angle to use against front-running Rep. Kendrick Meek for the Democratic Senate nomination, has come out against the current health care reform plan (although not against HCR in general), calling it “a special interest plan that raises taxes and favors insurance and pharmaceutical companies.”

    KS-Sen: The PMA scandal has mostly left House Democrats tarred with its brush, especially crusty old-school guys from that Appropriations clique, like John Murtha and Pete Visclosky. However, it’s now expanding to take in a key Republican member on Appropriations – one who’s in a tight battle for a promotion to the Senate and can’t afford to get besmirched in any way. The House ethics panel is now looking at the links between Rep. Todd Tiahrt’s donations and defense earmarks.

    NY-Sen-B: Rasmussen checks out the race that’s suddenly on everyone’s mind (and that doesn’t even exist yet, although Harold Ford Jr. just took a monthlong leave of absence from Merrill Lynch to “explore” the race – I wonder if he’ll be doing most of his recon by helicopter). They find numbers very similar to local pollsters Marist and Siena: Kirsten Gillibrand beats Ford, 48-23 (with a surprisingly large 10 for “some other,” presumably Jonathan Tasini although maybe it’s more just “anybody else, please”). Where Rasmussen parts ways with the other pollsters is Gillibrand’s high favorables (and high knowns, period): they have her at 59/27.

    OH-Sen, OH-Gov: Take this with a bag of quick-melting rock salt, if you choose, as it’s a poll commissioned by Ohio Right to Life and conducted by Republican pollster Wenzel Strategies. Still, the numbers clock in pretty close to what Rasmussen has been seeing lately. They see John Kasich with a 43-33 lead in the Governor’s race, and Rob Portman up in the Senate race: 37-31 over Lee Fisher and 40-35 over Jennifer Brunner.

    MD-Gov: One more poll, and it actually shows a Democrat in reasonably good shape. Incumbent Gov. Martin O’Malley is up 9 points against the GOP’s best possible offering, potential candidate ex-Gov. Bob Ehrlich, 48-39, according to local pollster Gonzales Research. (Gonzales saw it an 11-point race last September.) O’Malley’s approvals (46%) could use some improvement, but considering that Ehrlich hasn’t sounded likely to get in (although he might be doing a rethink given last night’s events), there are certainly many other races higher on the worry-about list.

    AL-05: If Rep. Parker Griffith thought he’d be welcomed with open arms into the Republican fold, well, he’s got another thing coming. The only good news for him from last night’s meeting of the Madison County (i.e. Huntsville) Republican Executive Committee was that, in the end, they decided not to attempt to get Griffith removed from the primary ballot as a Republican. The real question of the meeting, though, was whether it would be better strategy for Republicans to try to beat him in the primary or via an independent candidacy in November.

    AR-02: Democratic candidates who sound committed to running to replace retiring Rep. Vic Snyder are already piling up – and we haven’t even gotten to Lt. Gov. Bill Halter or ex-Gen. Wesley Clark yet. State House Speaker Robbie Wills today stopped short of saying he’s running, but says he’s “excited” about running. State Sen. Joyce Elliott also sounds very likely to run, while Public Service Commissioner Paul Suskie is in the “seriously considering” stage.

    AZ-03: On the other side of the aisle and of the country, Republicans from the deep local bench are piling into the open seat race in the 3rd, vacated by Rep. John Shadegg. Paradise Valley mayor Vernon Parker is ending his long-shot gubernatorial campaign and heading over to the 3rd, and he’s being joined by state Sen. Jim Waring (who’s dropping his state Treasurer campaign to do so). They join already-in state Sen. Pamela Gorman and state Rep. Sam Crump.

    IL-10: State Rep. Julie Hamos and Dan Seals continue to split key endorsements in their primary fight for the Democratic nod in the open 10th. Hamos got the endorsements of both the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times, while Seals picked up the smaller-circulation Daily Herald’s endorsement.

    ND-AL: Add one more confirmed name to the list of GOPers sniffing out the at-large House seat in North Dakota, hoping John Hoeven’s Senate bid gives them some coattails against the entrenched Democratic incumbent, Rep. Earl Pomeroy. Former House majority leader Rick Berg kicked off his campaign yesterday.

    TN-04: Rep. Lincoln Davis has been pretty much assured a bumpy ride, thanks to Tennessee’s rapidly-reddening status. He got a new Republican challenger today, in the form of attorney Jack Bailey. It’s unclear whether the never-before-elected Bailey will be stronger than physician Scott DesJarlais (or can even get past him in the primary), but he’s a former Hill staffer (ex-CoS for Missouri Rep. Scott Akin) so he probably still has a full Rolodex for fundraising purposes.

    TN-08: State Sen. Roy Herron keeps looking like he’ll have an easy path to the Democratic nomination to replace retiring Rep. John Tanner. Former state Rep. Phillip Pinion, an oft-floated name, said he wouldn’t get into the race.

    OR-Init: Oregon voters have a chance to deal a major setback to the coalescing conventional wisdom that voters prefer service cuts to tax hikes to plug state budget gaps, with Measures 66 and 67. The state legislature passed raises in the $250,000-plus tax bracket and certain corporate income taxes, which are now subject to a people’s veto (via an all-mail special election with a deadline of Jan. 26). Well-regarded local pollster Tim Hibbitts, paid for by a coalition of local media, finds both measures passing: 52-39 for 66 and 50-40 on 67.

    Mayors: One other election result from last night: Jefferson Co. Commissioner William Bell defeated attorney Patrick Cooper in a runoff, to become Birmingham, Alabama’s new mayor, 54-46. Cooper had won the most votes in the general, but Bell seemed to consolidate previously-split African-American votes.

    Polltopia: One more interesting follow-up on the increasing democratization of polling (on the heels of yesterday’s piece by Mark Blumenthal): the Hill looks at the increasing move by groups like Firedoglake and the PCCC toward commissioning polls – and even has an anecdote about PPP’s Tom Jensen getting berated by a nameless Beltway person for broaching the unmentionable and polling potential alternatives to Harry Reid.

    Social media: At some point during the flurry of activity yesterday, Swing State Project shot past 1,000 Twitter followers (gaining more than 100 yesterday alone). Not a follower yet? Check us out. You can also receive SSP updates via Facebook, if you’re one of those Luddites who like to read things that are longer than 140 characters.

    AR-02: Lt. Gov. Halter “Seriously Considering” Race; Wesley Clark Rumored to Be Interested


    In a move that will certainly give hope to Democrats worried about holding on to the seat of retiring Arkansas Rep. Vic Snyder (D), Lt. Gov. Bill Halter acknowledged Monday that he is now seriously considering running in the Little Rock-based 2nd district this fall.

    “I have received many telephone calls from Arkansans offering me encouragement and support since Congressman Vic Snyder announced he would not seek re-election,” Halter said in a statement released through a Virginia-based Democratic consultant who has worked on his previous campaigns. “I am grateful, I am listening and I am now seriously considering all options. These considerations center on where to best fight for better jobs and greater opportunities for Arkansans.”

    Halter would be a strong recruit, no doubt, but some Democrats would rather see him commit to a primary challenge against Blanche Lincoln. In any case, there are other Democratic names interested in the primary. State Sen. Joyce Elliott is “98 percent” sure she’ll run for the seat. Other names who have signaled interest in the race include state Sen. Shane Broadway (though he says that he’d probably run for Lt. Governor if Halter decides to run for Congress), term-limited state Sen. Tracy Steele, state House Speaker Robbie Wills. Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Hays, state Senate President Bob Johnson, and state Public Service Commissioner Paul Suskie have also been mentioned as possible candidates. In short, the bench is pretty deep here, and someone of substance is bound to step up (although some choices, like the right-leaning Johnson, would be a little hard to swallow).

    Perhaps most interesting is this piece of scuttlebutt:

    There is chatter in Democratic circles about possible interest from Wesley Clark as a candidate for retiring Democrat Vic Snyder’s congressional seat. […]

    A credible source says that an internal discussion is taking place, and that Clark is giving it serious consideration.

    That’d be a pretty remarkable development — there’s no doubt that Clark would have a pretty decent fundraising base in place for a run, and it goes without saying that his bio has some special appeal in a district like this. It’d be a pretty surprising climb-down for a man who ran for President just six years ago, but he hasn’t had any real opportunities to serve in elected or appointed office in the years since, and this is a legitimate opening for him. Clark, for now, can’t be reached for comment.

    Update: In the diaries, ARDem runs through a list of potential candidates.

    RaceTracker Wiki: AR-02

    John Adler for Congress Action Alert: Vote Now!

    We have a great opportunity to bring General Wesley Clark to campaign for John Adler here in the 3rd District!

    A community service organization called Democrats Work and General Clark’s political action committee (WesPAC) just launched a contest called “Serve with the General” to see which district General Clark will visit next. And guess what? Our district is included in the list.

    Please go to… and vote for John Adler and New Jersey’s 3rd District. Voting starts today and ends May 30th. Please forward this message to your friends and help get out the vote to bring Gen. Clark to New Jersey!

    With two military bases (Fort Dix and McGuire), and a large veteran population in the district, a visit by a well respected veteran like General Wesley Clark will be a great boost to our efforts this November.

    Please go to… and vote now, and spread the message to your family & friends! We need your help to bring General Clark here to New Jersey’s 3rd district.

    Disclaimer: I am a volunteer for Adler for Congress.

    General Clark Endorses Dem “Darling”

    It is only a matter of time  before he bursts forth onto the national scene and captures the hearts and minds of thinking people everywhere in this country.

    Here is my (obscenely biased but very reasonable) prediction.

    Come November (and likely well before) he will be a national phenomenon: Russert will interview him on Sunday morn; Olbermann will speak of him while delivering a special comment; the gray lady will profile him; NPR will consider all things related to him; the right will be disarmed by him; and the left will celebrate him.

    Truly, he’s a progressive’s wet dream.

    The man is Dennis Shulman. And if you don’t already know it, he is running to unseat the unspeakably awful Scott Garrett (R) in NJ-5.

    Garrett is a lovely poster child for the extreme right (e.g., he is still loving and supporting the Iraq war and still hating on stem cell research and a women’s right to choose). Of course, these principled positions Garrett holds are all rooted in his profound love and respect for the sanctity of human life.

    However, it’s looking like Garrett is going to have a serious fight on his hypocritical hands if he is to hang on to to his seat this November.

    With General Wesley Clark’s recent endorsement, Shulman’s momentum, exposure, and ability to raise those all important dollars continues to rapidly grow.

    There is no longer any question about the viability of his campaign.

    Indeed, as Roll Call’s John McArdle noted, Shulman has become “a darling of the Democratic establishment on Capitol Hill.”

    Please check Shulman out, spread the word, and (if you are able and willing) donate.

    I am confident you will be inspired by his life story, his progressive ideas, and his sensible approach to leadership.

    NJ-5 is ours if we want it.