SSP Daily Digest: 8/25

CT-Sen: CQ looks at how Rob Simmons has been consolidating all of the establishment support in the GOP primary, despite it being a crowded field: he just got the endorsement of state House #2 GOPer (and former state party chair) Bill Hamzy. He’s also endorsed by state House minority leader Larry Cafero and 20 members of the state party’s central committee. Meanwhile, looking all the way ahead to 2012, Alec Baldwin backed down from earlier provocative statements, saying that he doesn’t actually intend to run against Joe Lieberman.

FL-Sen: Another indicator of a bumpy ride for Charlie Crist in the upcoming primary: he lost a straw poll vote among the Bay County GOP to Marco Rubio by the lopsided margin of 23 to 2. Bear in mind, of course, this is the hardcore party activist faithful in one of the state’s most conservative counties in the Panhandle.

UT-Sen: The Club for Growth has leaped into the circular firing squad in Utah, with a letter-writing campaign targeted at the 3,000+ delegates going to the state GOP’s nominating convention next year. AG Mark Shurtleff and potentially Rep. Jason Chaffetz consider taking out long-time Sen. Bob Bennett, who’s only very conservative and not super-duper-extra conserative.

CA-Gov: Two separate polls (from little-known local pollsters) of the Democratic gubernatorial primary show San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom way behind ex-Gov. Jerry Brown. Moore Methods finds Brown leading Newson 49-20 statewide among Dems, while David Binder polled only Dems in San Francisco, where Newsom’s support should be its strongest, but finds Brown leading 51-34 even there, with Newsom winning only among the 30-and-under set.

NJ-Gov: There’s a weird feeling in the air that things may actually be starting to turn around in New Jersey… the main question remains whether Jon Corzine got himself into too deep a hole to dig all the way out in time. A lot of that has to do with the ethical malfeasance spotlight swinging back toward Chris Christie, as possible Hatch Act violations and unreported loans tarnish him, stories that dominated a disastrous Christie conference call with reporters yesterday despite Christie’s intent of using the call to tar Corzine with the Wall Street brush.

But most significantly, there was the poll that came out yesterday from Republican internal pollster Neighborhood Strategies that showed Christie up only 39%-36% over Corzine among “definite” voters, with Chris Daggett at 6% (and 37-35-6 among likely voters). Even more ominously for Christie, the poll found that the undecided electorate “skews heavily to the left.” One big caveat, though: this isn’t Christie’s pollster, but rather a firm run by Rick Shaftan that worked for Christie’s ultra-conservative primary rival Steve Lonegan (it also has a big fat margin of error). Does the Lonegan camp still have an axe to grind? But if they do, how would releasing a juiced poll long after the primary help them out?

NY-Gov: Tea leaf readers think that Rudy Giuliani is moving closer to running for Governor in 2010. Rudy says he’ll decide within the next 30 to 60 days, but some see his involvement in the state GOP party chair imbroglio as evidence of his desire to have the party machinery working smoothly behind him if he runs. Rudy apparently successfully talked state party chair Joseph Mondello into resigning yesterday, but he still has one more hurdle, steering key ally Henry Wojtaszek into the chairman position instead of the presmued frontrunner for the position, Ed Cox (who was a McCain backer in 2008). (Of course, Giuliani’s most daunting problem would be one he has no control over — getting the Democrats to not force David Paterson out to make way for Andrew Cuomo, who all polls show flattening Giuliani.)

SC-Gov: The South Carolina GOP is back to talking about impeachment again at their legislative retreat next weekend, as Mark Sanford is at a bit of a low point again, thanks to disclosures about his abuses of state and private planes. Meanwhile, AG Henry McMaster made it official that he’s getting into the gubernatorial race for the GOP, McMaster launched his bid with a swipe at Sanford, saying there’s been too much dishonesty and scandal in the state.

AL-05: Freshman Rep. Parker Griffith has announced he won’t be voting for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker again, saying she’s too divisive. Griffith is girding for a difficult first re-election in this R+12 district.

CA-18: Republicans nailed down a challenger against Dennis Cardoza: Turlock Irrigation Board member Mike Berryhill. This Hispanic-majority district hasn’t seen a competitive race in a long time, but at D+4 isn’t exactly a slam dunk for Dems.

GA-04: DeKalb County Commissioner Lee May is now considering a primary challenge to Rep. Hank Johnson, in this district that has seen its share of successful primary challenges recently (although both were against Cynthia McKinney). Based on his closeness with DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones, it seems like he’d be coming at the very liberal Johnson from the right.

NE-02: Speaking of primary challenges from the right, here’s one in an unusual place: Nebraska’s 2nd, where Lee Terry is a reliably conservative vote (although he did vote in favor of TARP, and also famously tried to sell himself to Obama-Terry voters last year). Still, he’s facing a possible serious challenge from health care technology company president Matt Sakalosky, who seems to have the money to self-fund. Sakalosky just confirmed he’s in the race and has his first campaign event set for Saturday.

OH-16: Calling all Arena Football fans! (All 2 of you!) Co-owner of the Columbus Destroyers (and former mayor of Akron suburb Wadsworth) Jim Renacci has filed to take on freshman Dem John Boccieri in the Canton-based R+4 district.

TN-05: Daily Kos is bird-dogging Blue Dog Jim Cooper, and finds he’s got some mediocre numbers among the folks back home, with 47-41 favorables and a re-elect of 36% (with 41% consider someone else and 23% definitely replace). R2K also finds that he’d lose support among both Dems and independents if he opposed public option.

TN-09: Mercurial Memphis mayor Willie Herenton says that he won’t, after all, run in the special election to succeed himself, caused by his resignation. Instead, he’ll focus on his primary challenge to Steve Cohen in the 9th, which was the point of his original resignation.

KY-St. Sen.: There’s a big special election tonight in northeastern Kentucky, where a vacant state Senate seat will be filled. The two candidates are Democrat Robin Webb and Republican Jack Ditty, who are trying to replace GOPer Charlie Borders, who was appointed by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear to the Public Service Commission. Republicans currently control the Senate 20-16-1 (and this 1 vacancy).

NJ-Gov: Christie Maintains Lead on Lonegan

Rasmussen Reports (5/27, likely voters, mid-May in parens):

Chris Christie (R): 46 (39)

Steve Lonegan (R): 35 (29)

Undecided: 15 (29)

(MoE: ±5%)

The primary is tomorrow, June 2nd, and Chris Christie has led in every single public poll of the race:

Rasmussen has actually shown some of the closer results we’ve seen, and the trendline shows Lonegan closing a bit, but Christie still looks to be in command. The conventional wisdom says Corzine would be better off against the far-right Lonegan – the DGA went so far as to run ads bashing Christie in the hopes of bolstering Lonegan, Gray Davis/Crisitunity-style – but a win for the former Bogota, NJ mayor seems unlikely. Of course, it’s possible pollsters have badly misjudged the nature of Jersey’s likely GOP voters circa mid-2009, and indeed this same group has gone with wingers over moderates in the past (see Brett Schundler, 2001).

Either way, we’ll be here tomorrow to liveblog the results.

P.S. Daily Kos/Research 2000 polled the general and found exactly the results you’d expect.

UPDATE: A new FDU poll also shows a big Christie lead – 54-30.

NJ-Gov: Christie Posts Big Primary Leads

Monmouth (PDF) (5/13-18, registered voters)

Chris Christie (R): 50

Steve Lonegan (R): 32

Rick Merkt (R): 2

Undecided: 16

(MoE: ±3.7%)

Quinnipiac (5/13-18, likely voters for primary, registered voters for general, 4/22 in parens)

Chris Christie (R): 56 (46)

Steve Lonegan (R): 33 (37)

Rick Merkt (R): 2 (2)

Undecided: 9 (14)

(MoE: ±4.2%)

Jon Corzine (D-inc): 38 (38)

Chris Christie (R): 45 (45)

Undecided: 13 (14)

(MoE: ±2%)

After months of everyone fixating on Corzine vs. Christie, it seems like everyone has suddenly realized that there’s a competitive GOP primary and that it’s not a done deal that former US Attorney Chris Christie will win it against the race’s conservative insurgent, former Bogota mayor Steve Lonegan. In fact, Rasmussen last week gave only a 10-point lead to Christie, 39-29.

Now two more polls of the primary are out, and they give a little more breathing room to Christie; in fact, the only poll with primary trendlines, Quinnipiac, finds Christie strengthening his position from last month. Looks like the Democratic Governors’ Association plan of helping to beat Christie in the primary may not pan out, but he may be still be softened up by Lonegan’s attacks going into the general. (Or, the contrary view may be that it’s helping Christie better define himself as an acceptable moderate… although hopefully yesterday’s anti-stimulus comments can be used to debunk that.) At any rate, Corzine (like the economy, to which his fortunes seem inextricably linked) seems to have finally bottomed out, with his general election numbers exactly the same as last month and his approval numbers, though still terrible even by New Jersey standards, starting to tick back up (38/53, up from 37/54).

SSP Daily Digest: 5/14

NJ-Gov: Believe it or not, we’re in the home stretch heading toward the June 2 primary in the New Jersey governor’s race, and Rasmussen takes a quick look at the GOP primary field. US Attorney Chris Christie leads former Bogota mayor Steve Lonegan 39-29, with 3% voting for someone else and 29% still undecided. That’s a lot of undecideds with just a few weeks to go, and I have no way of knowing whether they’d tend to break for the better-known establishment figure of Christie, or the anti-tax raging of Lonegan.

TX-Sen: The last thing John Cornyn wants is a special election on his watch at the NRSC, but he may get one anyway. Despite his pressure on fellow Texan Kay Bailey Hutchison to remain in place while she runs for Governor, Cornyn is now publicly warning to expect her resignation “this fall sometime.”

PA-Sen: Seems like the GOP is going through its whole Rolodex looking for someone more normal than Pat Toomey to run in the Pennsylvania primary. Two of the more moderate members of the Keystone State’s House delegation, Charlie Dent and Todd Platts, felt compelled to announce today that they won’t be running. Dent, in fact, endorsed Toomey, the previous holder of PA-15 (making him the first PA House GOPer to endorse Toomey).

AR-Sen: State Senator Kim Hendren, the GOP’s only candidate so far against Blanche Lincoln (and they may want to keep looking…), has been in politics a long time (one claim to fame is that he lost a gubernatorial race to Bill Clinton). But now he actually seems to be caught in a timewarp from a different century. Today he’s trying to walk back having called Chuck Schumer “that Jew” (and, in doing so, tried using The Andy Griffith Show by way of explaining himself).

IL-Sen: Speaking of shifts in the space-time continuum, Mark Tiberius Kirk’s end-of-April deadline on announcing his Senate plans has seemingly disappeared into a wormhole, while the GOP waits impatiently for him to emerge at the other end. (No backup date for a decision has been set.) A likely explanation is that he’s waiting to see what Lisa Madigan does, and he may meekly go wherever she doesn’t.

SC-Gov: Who would’ve guessed that the South Carolina governor’s race would be one of 2010’s hottest tickets? Two more GOPers are trying to hop onto that ride: state Senator Larry Grooms, who officially launched a campaign, and state Rep. Nikki Haley, who now says she’s considering it. (Haley is a young rising star who’s a close ally of Mark Sanford and the hardcore anti-taxers.) They’d join Rep. Gresham Barrett and professor Brent Nelsen, as well as likely candidates Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and AG Henry McMaster, in the hunt for the GOP nod.

NC-08: Freshman Rep. Larry Kissell has drawn a potential opponent with no previous political background, but very high name rec: Mike Minter, who was safety for the Carolina Panthers for 10 years until recently retiring. Kissell handily beat incumbent Rep. Robin Hayes in 2008 in this now R+2 district, but Minter, who’s still scoping out the race, is well-connected in the local megachurch community and could also eat into Kissell’s African-American support. Minter is apparently looking with Hayes’ encouragement, suggesting that the 10-year Congressman is looking to spend more time with his money instead of seeking out a rematch.

NRSC: Here’s a double shot of John Cornyn news: in another one of his occasional reality-based moments, Cornyn slapped down strange remarks by his NRCC counterpart, Rep. Pete Sessions, alleging that Barack Obama is intentionally sabotaging the American economy. When asked if he was comfortable with Sessions still leading the NRCC, Cornyn equivocated, deferring the judgment of the House Republicans on the matter. (Because “judgment” and “House Republicans” always go together so well.)

SSP Daily Digest: 5/6

PA-Sen: In a big diss to Arlen Specter, the Democratic caucus last night voted to slot Specter into the most junior spots on his committees for the remainder of this Congress. The issue won’t be revisited until after the midterm. This strips Specter of one of his strongest re-election arguments: seniority, and the power to make things happen that comes with it (especially on his Appropriations subcommittee… although that’s not as huge a problem in a big state like Pennyslvania as it would be in an Appropriations-dependent state like Alaska).

KY-Sen: There’s another potential GOP primary challenger to Jim Bunning sniffing out the race, in case SoS Trey Grayson doesn’t show up despite having opened an exploratory committee. Cathy Bailey hasn’t held elective office before, but she’s strong on the fundraising front. She was a Bush Pioneer in 2000, and was rewarded for that with a post as Ambassador to Latvia. She’s married to the former CEO of Providian as well, so she can self-fund if need be.

NC-Sen: Kenneth Lewis, a Durham attorney and fundraiser for Barack Obama, is telling state Democratic Party leaders that he will run against Richard Burr next year. Still no word on state AG Roy Cooper’s intentions. (J)

IL-Gov: DuPage County Board chair Robert Schillerstrom is setting up an exploratory committee to run for the GOP nomination in the 2010 gubernatorial race. He’ll join state Senator Bill Brady, who’s already in the hunt. Brady has the “my turn” advantage, having finished 3rd in the 2006 primary, but the suburban Schillerstrom would have the population advantage over downstate’s Brady.

NJ-Gov: The Democratic Governors’ Association has been reading the Gray Davis playbook (or maybe my advice?): they’re going hard after Chris Christie this month with an ad barrage in order to damage Christie in the hopes of getting the much less-known and more-conservative Steve Lonegan the GOP nomination instead. The Corzine camp is not involved in the efforts, which aims at Christie’s strength: questioning his supposed corruption-fighting credentials as U.S. Attorney.

VA-02: Ex-Rep. Thelma Drake announced she won’t seek a rematch against Rep. Glenn Nye, who upset her in 2008. This may actually be bad news! for Nye, as there are potential GOP candidates more impressive than the polarizing Drake waiting in the wings. Nye has to be bolstered, though, by the blue shift in this now R+5 district, narrowly won by Obama.

MN-06: Maureen Reed, a former Univ. of Minnesota regent who ran for Lt. Gov on the Independence Party ticket, will be running in MN-06 in the DFL primary in 2010. While she might not make it through the primary, especially if Elwyn Tinklenberg runs again and/or state Senator Tarryl Clark runs, I’m taking this as a positive sign, in that the IP might not be looking to shoot us in the foot this time. (See also Populista‘s diary.)

NRCC: The NRCC has launched another offensive on what they perceive as vulnerable (or at least soften-up-able) Dems, with radio ads against Marion Berry, Charlie Melancon, Earl Pomeroy, Zack Space, and John Tanner. Space is the only one who’s on Frontline, but Berry, Melancon, and Tanner are all in districts that moved sharply toward McCain in 2008. The ad attacks the Blue Dogs for being “lap dogs” on the Obama budget.

Gay marriage: The gay marriage train just keeps building up speed, picking up one more state today. After some public hemming and hawing, Maine Governor John Baldacci signed gay marriage legislation this morning after it passed both chambers of the legislature. (Discussion underway in David Kowalski‘s diary.)

King County Executive: The first poll is out in the race to lead King County (which puts you in charge of 1.8 million constituents, and is a frequent stepping stone to Washington governor). In a bit of a twist, the Republican (it’s an ostensibly nonpartisan race, but everyone knows who’s what) is in the lead in this dark-blue county: former TV news anchor Susan Hutchison is at 20%, followed by two county councilors from Seattle proper (Dow Constantine at 6 and Larry Phillips at 5) and two Eastside state legislators (Fred Jarrett at 7 and Ross Hunter at 3). All the Dems (each of whom is largely unknown outside his district) added up together beat the widely-known Hutchison, though, so whichever Dem survives the primary seems likely to pull this out in the general election, in Nov. 2009.

Mayors: Republican Dan Sullivan beat Democrat Eric Croft to replace Mark Begich as Anchorage mayor yesterday, 57-43. (Sullivan has the advantage of being the son of former mayor George Sullivan.) Discussion underway in benjso99‘s diary. Also, yesterday in Detroit, Dave Bing defeated newly-minted mayor Ken Cockrel by 4 points. (Which makes him the second legendary NBA point guard to ascend to mayor, following Sacramento’s Kevin Johnson.)

NJ-Gov: Is Corzine Getting Worse or Better?

Monmouth University/Gannett (pdf) (4/23-27, registered voters, 1/12-14 in parentheses):

Jon Corzine (D-inc): 35 (38)

Chris Christie (R): 39 (36)

Jon Corzine (D-inc): 37 (45)

Steve Lonegan (R): 33 (29)

(MoE: ±3.7%)

These polls showing Jon Corzine losing to Chris Christie in the New Jersey governor’s race are getting pretty repetitive, but this one caught my eye because I can’t quite tell whether Corzine is coming or going. On the one hand, Monmouth’s trendlines show marked decline for Corzine, who went from winning by 2 in January to losing by 4 now against US Attorney Chris Christie, and barely beating former Bogota mayor Steve Lonegan instead of stomping him. Corzine’s favorables are also down to 43/47, down from 49/38 in January.

On the other hand, Corzine didn’t start trailing in any polls until January, and a 4-point deficit is Corzine’s best showing in months among any pollster. (He was down by 7 in the mid-April poll from Quinnipiac, which actually was improvement over March’s numbers. And he was down by 9 in the early April poll from FDU.) So, I’m wondering to what extent Corzine’s fate is inextricably linked to the economy, and if he, like everything else around us, hit some sort of bottom in recent months and is slowly starting to tick up.

SSP Daily Digest: 4/9

NJ-Gov: The latest poll of the New Jersey governor’s race shows that things aren’t getting any worse for Jon Corzine, but he is settling into a deep rut. Fairleigh Dickinson finds that he loses 42-33 to Chris Christie, the same 9-pt margin as their previous poll one month ago (41-32). Corzine’s approval rating is 40/49, and he beats even nuttier GOPer Steve Lonegan by only 37-36. There is some good news, though: he’d still win in a Democratic primary, if for some reason senate president Richard Codey or Newark mayor Corey Booker challenged him.

Could An incumbent Democratic governor of New Jersey come back after trailing by double digits in the polls for most of the campaign? It happened once before, when Gov. Brendan Byrne beat Republican Raymond Bateman, despite being down as much as twelve points in September of 1977. “Hopeful” at Blue Jersey does some excellent digging through the archives to tell Byrne’s story. (D)

VA-Gov: National politics just injected itself into the Virginia governor’s race in a big way, as the GOP-held House of Delegates rejected $125 million in federal stimulus funds that would have extended unemployment benefits. Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell supported his party’s callous move.

AK-Sen: Ted Stevens just filed his exploratory paperwork to get his old job back, by running for senator in 2014 (when he’ll be 91). Don’t actually expect to see Ted 2.0, though; his spokesman says it’s just a receptacle to receive donations that came in after the November election.

FL-Sen, NH-Sen: In other unlikely comeback news, though, this one appears to be for real: Bob Smith, the former senator from New Hampshire, has filed the paperwork to run for Senate again… in Florida, where he now lives. This seems odd, since there are political titans jostling for the Florida nomination while the New Hampshire nomination still seems to be pretty much free for the asking. (As an indication of how far down the totem pole the NH GOP is looking, Ovide Lamontagne, last seen losing the 1996 gubernatorial race, is now eyeing NH-Sen.)

AR-Sen: Mediocre polling and pressure on EFCA seem to have gotten Blanche Lincoln worried, but she may be able to breathe a little easier after her first quarter fundraising haul: $1.7 million, with $1 million of that coming at a campaign kickoff event headlined by Joe Biden.

MI-Gov: Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has announced that he won’t seek the GOP nomination for the governor’s race next year. Patterson narrowly led the primary field in a recent poll, so that leaves a wide-open field with a possible advantage to 2nd-place finisher Rep. Pete Hoekstra.

TN-Gov: State senator Roy Herron entered the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, joining former state house majority leader Kim McMillan and Nashville businessman Ward Cammack. Mike McWherter, son of former governor Ned McWherter, also seems a likely candidate.

PA-06: We have at least a warm body lined up in PA-06: Doug Pike, who hasn’t held elected office but wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer for a number of years, was an aide to Paul Tsongas, and is the son of Rep. Otis Pike (of New York). A better-known candidate may still crop up, especially if Rep. Jim Gerlach follows through on his likely plans to bail on his increasingly-Democratic seat (Obama won 58-41) and run for Pennsylvania governor instead.