SSP Daily Digest: 10/13

AZ-Sen: Does the persistent rumor of a J.D. Hayworth primary challenge to John McCain boil down to nothing more than a Hayworth grudge against former key McCain aide Mark Salter (and thus a way for Hayworth to keep yanking McCain’s chain)? That’s what the Arizona Republic is proposing, pointing to a 2005 dust-up between Hayworth and Salter over immigration reform. Hayworth, for his part, says that “spite” would never fuel a primary bid.

IL-Sen: GOP Rep. Mark Kirk is touting an internal poll taken for him by Magellan Data and Mapping Strategies that has him beating Democratic state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias in a Senate head-to-head, 42-35. It also shows Kirk in strong shape in the primary, leading developer Patrick Hughes (who seems to be cornering the wingnut vote) 61-3.

KY-Sen: The allegedly third tape (although nobody seems to remember what the second one was) involving Lt. Gov. and Senate candidate Dan Mongiardo trashing his boss (and one of his few endorsers), Gov. Steve Beshear, has surfaced. This time, Mongiardo says people he talks to want to “yell” about Beshear and says, “It’s like being married to a whore.” This time it popped up directly on YouTube instead of on a Rand Paul fan blog.

NV-Sen: Markos has an interesting observation, that may give some comfort to the Reid boys as they face an onslaught of bad polls. Democrats now have a registration edge of nearly 100,000 in Nevada, and it’s growing: since February, Dems have added 4,860 while the GOP has added 1,549. In fact, this sad performance puts the GOP fourth, as both nonpartisan registration and the right-wing Independent American Party gained more new registrants.

PA-Sen (pdf): One more poll from Dane & Associates via GrassrootsPA, and it gives narrow edges to both Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak over Republican ex-Rep. Pat Toomey in the 2010 Senate race (46-43 for Specter and 43-38 for Sestak). Worth noting: this is only the second poll (after that freaky Rasmussen poll in August) that shows Sestak performing better against Toomey than does Specter.

TX-Sen, Gov: Kay Bailey Hutchison may be getting some cold feet about committing to a resignation date from the Senate. In response to questions on a conservative radio talk show, it’s sounding like she’s unlikely to resign her seat by year’s end. However, she also doesn’t sound like she’ll stay in her seat all the way through to the gubernatorial primary election in March, saying “that’s not what [she wants] to do.” (Although it’s understandable she may want to keep her day job if the whole being-governor thing doesn’t work out.)

NJ-Gov: PPP has its poll of the New Jersey gubernatorial race out, and like everyone else these days, they’re seeing it as pure tossup. Chris Christie leads Jon Corzine 40-39, with 13 for independent Chris Daggett. (It’s right in line with today’s average of 41-40 for Christie.)That’s tremendous progress for Corzine, who was down 44-35-13 last month. Also, it’s worth noting that not only is Corzine dragging Christie down to his level but he’s actually starting to improve his own favorables; he’s up to 37/55, still terrible but better than last month’s 32/60. The race will still depend on getting unlikely Dem voters to turn out; the likely voter pool went for Obama by only 4% last year, way off from the actual 15% margin. One last tidbit: the poll asks Daggett voters their second choice, and Christie wins that one 48-34 (suggesting that Daggett does more damage to Christie, but that Christie’s best hope is to peel off some of the vacillating Daggett supporters).

VA-Gov: Not much change in Virginia, where Rasmussen finds a 50-43 lead for Republican Bob McDonnell in that gubernatorial race. (This is right in line with today’s average of 51-43.) Two weeks ago, Rasmussen found that McD led Creigh Deeds 51-42.

FL-08: This seems kind of surprising, given freshman Rep. Alan Grayson’s over-the-top invitations to rumble (or who knows… maybe being aggressive actually works to cow Republicans?). After a lot of public vacillating, it turns out that Republican former state Sen. Daniel Webster, considered the strongest contender to go up against Grayson, won’t run. Rich guys Jerry Pierce and Armando Gutierrez Jr. are in the race, but the establishmenet Plan D (with Webster, state House speaker Larry Cretul, and Orange Co. Mayor Rich Crotty out) seems likely to fall to state Rep. Stephen Precourt, who expressed interest but said he’d defer to Webster.

NC-11: Looks like businessman Jeff Miller declined for a good reason yesterday, as the GOP nailed down a stronger-sounding competitor to go up against Rep. Heath Shuler in the R+6 11th. Greg Newman, the mayor of Hendersonville (pop. 10,000 in 2000) since 2005, says he’ll take on Shuler.

SC-05: State Sen. Mick Mulvaney looks ready to launch his candidacy, most likely on the 17th at a GOP gathering in the district. He’ll take on 27-year incumbent and House Budget chair John Spratt.

TN-St. House: There’s a small House special election in Tennessee tonight, with big stakes. HD 62, located in rural south central Tennessee (its major town is Shelbyville) was vacated by a Democrat, Curt Cobb, who resigned to take a better-paying job; Cobb’s brother Ty is facing off against Republican Pat Marsh. It’s GOP leaning territory, though (this is part of the 6th CD, which had a very sharp Democratic falloff in 2008). The stakes are high because the Democrats hold the chamber by a 1-vote margin, 50-49, thanks only to a power-sharing arrangement with renegade Republican Kent Williams who serves as the Speaker elected with Democratic votes. A Republican victory here could give control of the House back to the GOP, if they’re able to reorganize in midterm. If the Republicans can control the state House and pick up the governor’s office in 2010, they’ll control the resdistricting trifecta.

Mayors: One other election on the docket in Tennessee tonight Thursday: Shelby Co. Mayor A.C. Wharton is looking likely to become the new mayor in Memphis. Polling has him leading Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery by a wide margin. (There are 25 candidates in the race, including professional wrestler Jerry Lawler.) The mayoral job was vacated, of course, by long-time mayor Willie Herenton, who after several abortive attempts to resign in the past is leaving to challenge Rep. Steve Cohen in a primary.

SSP Daily Digest: 10/7

DE-Sen: Here’s an ominous possibility: it’s been taken on faith that Beau Biden will still run for the Senate even with Mike Castle’s entry… but what if he doesn’t? The rumor mill is suddenly wondering if Biden has developed cold feet, especially keeping in mind that he’s only 40 and can pretty much waltz into the job in four years, rather running the risk of damaging his brand by losing an election in 2010.

FL-Sen: Former Miami mayor Maurice Ferre, who just re-appeared on the scene this week, has already moved quickly to get into the race, announcing his candidacy for the Democratic nod today. Ferre is 74, a bit old to be launching a Senate bid, but he should have a lot of appeal in the Hispanic communities (although it’s worth noting he’s not Cuban, but Puerto Rican). On the other side of the aisle, Republican underdog Marco Rubio seems on the precipice of a big score that will help him tap into a nationwide base of donors (although his recent fundraising numbers suggests he’s already gone nationwide): the Club for Growth is feeling sufficiently confident to get involved on his behalf.

NV-Sen: I’ve lost count of who’s in the lead, Mark Sanford or John Ensign, in terms of how many times he’s had to tell the press that he won’t resign. Anyway, it was Ensign’s turn again yesterday, as he faces a ramped-up Senate Ethics investigation.

VT-Sen: A primary challenge to Pat Leahy from the left? This seems unlikely to go anywhere, but Daniel Frielich, a military doctor from Wilmington, VT, will announce his candidacy today. His bid seems to focus mostly on health care (he’s a single-payer backer and not a fan of the Dems’ watered-down approach).

OR-Gov: Couple minor tidbits from the Beaver State: one, Steve Novick (who fared well in the 2008 Dem Senate primary) had been occasionally rumored to be interested in running for Governor, but makes his Shermanesque ‘no’ statement in a Blue Oregon piece detailing his road map for the next guv. Also, as Republicans cast about for a palatable candidate, the fickle finger is now pointing at state Sen. Frank Morse, who says he may get in. Morse has a moderate or at least pleasant reputation within the Senate, but has no statewide profile.

VA-Gov: Reading between the lines, it sounds like Creigh Deeds might be looking for excuses for his increasingly probable defeat in November. He blames some of his travails on the “spending” and “noise coming out of Washington D.C.”

FL-08: With Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty out, former state Sen. Daniel Webster is still a maybe (although his registering “” may tip his hand). Regardless of what Webster is doing, at least one other Republican is wading into the fray: wealthy businessman Jerry Pierce, who says he’ll run with or without GOP backing. (Pierce has given $15K to the Club for Growth over the last decade, so maybe he’s hoping they’ll return the favor.)

NH-02: Jennifer Horn, who lost to Rep. Paul Hodes in 2008, isn’t getting out of the way for ex-Rep. Charlie Bass’s possible comeback. Horn is expected to publicly announce her candidacy today.

VA-05: As had been expected, state Sen. Rob Hurt filed his paperwork yesterday to run against Rep. Tom Perriello in the 5th. Hurt is from near Danville at the district’s south end, setting up a battle of the regional bases with the Charlottesville-based Perriello.

Mayors: Here’s an ignominious end of the road for three-term Albuquerque mayor Martin Chavez (who, Bloomberg-style, overturned a term limits ordinance in order to run again): he got bounced from office in a primary. Somewhat surprisingly, Republican state Rep. Richard Berry cleared the 40% mark in the three-way primary, which means that he wins without the trouble of a general election. Berry got 44% to Chavez’s 35% and 21% for Democratic state Sen. Richard Romero. (UPDATE: This technically was a general election, not a primary, under local law; had no one broken 40%, the top-two November election would have been considered a runoff.)

NRCC: The NRCC announced which five of its Patriots (the vulnerable incumbents, akin to the Dems’ Frontline program) will get the first infusion of cash. The beneficiaries are Mary Bono Mack, Charlie Dent, Pat Tiberi, Lee Terry, and Tom Rooney, all of whom have drawn high-profile challengers.

SSP Daily Digest: 10/6

FL-Sen: Conservative upstart Marco Rubio greatly improved his fundraising over the 3rd quarter, raising nearly $1 million. (Primary rival Charlie Crist says he’s on track to raise $2 million for the quarter). This should bring a note of credibility to a campaign that, earlier in the year, had grass roots enthusiasm but was nearly broke.

IA-Sen: You may recall the hype over the last few weeks that Chuck Grassley would get the “race of his life” in 2010, although no one was sure who the opponent would be. It may just turn out to be prominent attorney and 1982 gubernatorial candidate Roxanne Conlin after all, if reports that the state Dems are trying to recruit her into the race are true.

KS-Sen: The newest SurveyUSA poll of the GOP primary (where the only action is) in the Kansas Senate race shows sorta-conservative Rep. Jerry Moran building an appreciable edge over very-conservative Rep. Todd Tiahrt. Moran now has a 43-27 lead, up from a 38-32 lead two months ago. Moran (who represents rural western Kansas) seems to be gaining ground over Tiahrt (who represents Wichita) in northeast Kansas (the Kansas City burbs), where most of the undecideds are.

NH-Sen (pdf): Ever notice that the New Hampshire pollsters all have names that read like the title cards in the old school Batman fight scenes? UNH! ARG! Anyway, today it’s UNH’s turn, and they find Republican former AG Kelly Ayotte with a 40-33 edge over Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes. Hodes defeats the lesser and probably more conservative (although with Ayotte, who the hell knows) Republicans in the race, Ovide Lamontagne and Sean Mahoney, both by a score of 37-28. Ayotte is still not that well-known, with a favorable of 37/8, and — this may be the key takeaway from this poll — 86% of the respondents say they are “still trying to decide” which candidate in the race to support.

IL-Gov: Here’s a guy who should probably consider a name-change operation before running for office. No, he isn’t the governor Ryan who went to prison, and he isn’t the rich guy Ryan who had the weird sex life… he’s the former AG (and guy who lost to Rod Blagojevich in 2002) Jim Ryan, and he’s apparently back to running for Governor again despite 7 years out of politics. He formed an exploratory committee last week, and now he has an internal poll showing him with a commanding lead in the Republican primary: he’s at 33%, leading state Sen. Bill Brady at 11, state GOP chair Andy McKenna at 7, and state Sen. Kirk Dillard at 5. Ryan’s poll also finds Ryan faring the best in the general, losing 39-34 to current Gov. Pat Quinn and beating Dem Comptroller Dan Hynes 37-36, while Brady loses to Quinn 43-27, Dillard loses to Quinn 44-25, and McKenna loses to Quinn 44-26.

PA-Gov: No surprise here, but Allegheny Co. Exec Dan Onorato officially launched his gubernatorial campaign today. Onorato seems to realize he has his work cut out for him in the state’s east where ex-Rep. Joe Hoeffel is likely to run strongest in the primary; so, Onorato launched his campaign in Philadelphia and sought to downplay his pro-life views by saying that he wouldn’t seek to change state abortion laws.

VA-Gov: It looks like the post-thesis-gate bump Creigh Deeds got may be dissipating as Bob McDonnell hits back with a couple strong ads: SurveyUSA polls the Virginia governor’s race again and finds McDonnnell with a 54-43 lead. SUSA has been McDonnell’s friendliest pollster lately, posting the same 54-43 numbers for him last week.

AL-02: Well, this is good news… I guess. Rep. Bobby Bright has reiterated one more time that he plans to remain a Democrat when he runs for re-election next year, despite his Republican-friendly voting record and difficult re-election in his R+16 district.

FL-08: Although Rep. Alan Grayson has been gleefully painting a giant target on his own back, the Republicans are still flailing around trying to find a challenger. One of their top contenders, Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty, has just announced that he won’t seek the Republican nomination next year. (Which may be just as well for the GOP, as Crotty is unpopular and has some ethical clouds hanging overhead.) GOP focus turns now toward former state Sen. Daniel Webster, who’s well known but may be too socially conservative for this bluening, R+2 district (he was Terri Schiavo’s biggest fan in the state legislature). If Webster doesn’t get in, state Rep. Stephen Precourt may be plan C.

GA-08: Rep. Jim Marshall picked up a challenger, although one who’s nearly down in the “some dude” tier: 30-year-old businessman Paul Rish, who served briefly as Bibb County Republican chair. Higher up the totem pole, state Rep. Allan Peake has declined a run; former Rep. Mac Collins hasn’t ruled the race out but doesn’t sound enthused.

NV-03, NV-Gov: It’s official: Republican former state Sen. Joe Heck will be running against Rep. Dina Titus in the 3rd, picking up the torch dropped by John Guedry. With this, Heck drops his gubernatorial primary challenge to Jim Gibbons, giving former AG Brian Sandoval a pretty clear shot at unseating Gibbons in the primary.

OH-18: Fred Dailey, who got 40% of the vote in 2008 running against Rep. Zack Space, says he’s back for a rematch. However, he’ll have to get past state Sen. Bob Gibbs in the Republican primary, who seems to have the establishment backing this time.

OR-04: If AAPOR is looking for someone else to discipline, they might want to look at Sid Leiken’s mom. Leiken, the Republican mayor of Springfield running in the 4th, is under investigation for paying his mom several thousand dollars for polling. Now it turns out that, in response to questions about whether that poll was ever actually taken, his mom is unable to produce any spreadsheets or even written records of the poll data, or any phone records of the sample (she says she used a disposable cellphone!).

SC-05: Another sign of NRCC recruiting successes in the dark-red parts of the south: they’ve gotten a state Senator to go up against long-time Democratic Rep. John Spratt in the R+7 5th. Mick Mulvaney will reportedly make his announcement soon. Spratt’s last strong challenge was in 2006, where he faced state Sen. Ralph Norman (who spent $1 million of his own money but still only got 43% of the vote).

SD-AL: Oops, this slipped through the cracks this weekend: one day after state Rep. Blake Curd said he’d run for the GOP nomination for South Dakota’s House seat, so too did a heavier-hitter: termed-out Secretary of State Chris Nelson. Nelson’s entry had long been anticipated, but now it’s official.

VA-05: Things may finally be sorting themselves out on the GOP side in the R+5 5th, where Rep. Tom Perriello will face a big challenge regardless of whom he faces. State Sen. Frank Ruff said that he won’t run for the nomination, and GOP sources are also saying that state Sen. Rob Hurt (who has been considered the likeliest nominee all along) will enter the race shortly.

NY-St. Ass.: There’s a party switch to report in the New York state legislature; unfortunately, it happened in the state Assembly — where the Republicans’ ship sank long ago — instead of the closely-divided Senate. 14-year Assemblyman Fred Thiele, from AD 2 on Long Island, left the Republicans, saying they “stand for nothing,” and joined the Independence Party; he will caucus with the Democrats. This brings the total in the Assembly to 107 Dems, 40 GOPers, and 3 Dem-caucusing minor party members.

Mayors: There’s one noteworthy mayoral primary on tap for today, in Albuquerque. It’s a nonpartisan race, but there is one Republican (state Rep. Richard Berry) and two Dems (current mayor Martin Chavez — remember how the netroots sighed with relief when he decided not to run for Senate last year — and former state Sen. Richard Romero). The most recent poll has Berry leading at 31, with Chavez at 26 and Romero at 24, but it’s likely that whichever Dem survives the primary will have the edge over Berry in the general (unless Berry can somehow top 40%, in which case there wouldn’t be a general). With numbers like that, though, it’s possible that Chavez could get knocked out in the primary.

Polltopia: Here’s another opportunity to give some feedback to our friends at PPP. They give their polling schedule for the run-up to November (it’s heavy on VA, NJ, and mayoral races in NC), and solicit some suggestions heading into 2010.

SSP Daily Digest: 8/17

A very special morning edition of the Daily Digest!

IA-Sen: The Des Moines Register’s Marc Hansen teases that “a well-known mystery candidate” with “name recognition and money” is “about 75 percent ready to join the race” against deather douchebag GOPer Chuck Grassley. The Politico’s Charles Mahtesian speculates that the mystery candidate could be none other than Dem Rep. Bruce Braley. Color me skeptical.

IL-10: NRCC recruitment wiz kid Kevin McCarthy parachuted himself into the Chicagoland area on Saturday in order to survey the recruitment progress in race to defend GOP Rep. Mark Kirk’s open seat. He met with a small batch of prospects, including stock market analyst Dick Green, attorney Bill Cadigan (a former staffer for ex-Rep. Jon Porter, who held the 10th District for two decades prior to Kirk), and businessman Bob Dold. Interestingly, that list didn’t include any of the district’s deep bench of Republican state legislators. I’m not sure if we should read that as a tea leaf that state Rep. Beth Coulson may not be serious about running, but it appears that the GOP is preparing for the prospect of defending this seat with a political newcomer.

IN-03: Talk about taking one for the team. Former Fort Wayne city councilman Tom Hayhurst, an M.D. who gave GOP Rep. Mark Souder the closest shave of his political life in 2006, has filed papers for a rematch in 2010. Hayhurst lost to Souder by a 54-46 margin that year — a pretty impressive showing given the district’s horrid R+14 bent. But after Souder pasted well-funded attorney Mike Montagano in 2008 by 15 points, it’s hard to see how the good doctor has a shot in hell here. Godspeed, sir.

FL-08: Here’s some good news for frosh Dem Rep. Alan Grayson. Larry Cretul, the Republican Speaker of the Florida House, has decided against challenging the former beardo next year. The GOP still has a number of options here, including state Rep. Stephen Precourt and Orlando Mayor Rich Crotty.

Precourt, for his part, told the St. Petersburg Times that he may be interested in a bid, but sounds supportive of state Sen. Dan Webster, should he choose to run. More from Precourt:

“I am a big fan of Senator Dan Webster, but am keeping my powder dry for now. It seems best to stand back and let Congressman Grayson self destruct for the time being, as he is doing quite a good job of it.”

Precourt may have been referring to Grayson’s legislative priorities, but he could have just as easily been alluding to the congressman’s, uh, relaxed style of speech. During a Netroots Nation panel in Pittsburgh on Friday, Grayson decided to yuk it up by saying his 2008 opponent, GOP Rep. Ric Keller, “did all his hiring at Hooters”. He went on to relate an anecdote about how one of his “more resourceful” supporters posed as a volunteer at his opponent’s campaign headquarters for several days, and reported back that “they spent all their time flying paper clips at each other and watching porn on their computers.”

MN-Gov: It’s no surprise, but Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, a Democrat, formally threw her hat into the extremely crowded gubernatorial race on Thursday.

MO-04: It looks like longtime Dem Rep. Ike Skelton, who’s been manning the fort for us in this R+14 district since Baby Jesus was riding dinosaurs to school, is going to have an honest-to-God race on his hands in 2010. GOP state Sen. Bill Stouffer, whose district overlaps some of the 4th’s northern counties, filed his statement of candidacy with the FEC last week. Stouffer will face a primary from fundie-flavored ex-state Rep. Vicky Hartzler.

NC-Sen: With NC SoS Elaine Marshall officially still on the fence, the DSCC isn’t sitting idly by to wait for her decision. Former Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker, who lost the 2000 Democratic gubernatorial primary to Mike Easley, says that he’s had conversations with the DSCC and ex-Gov. Jim Hunt about challenging GOP Sen. Richard Burr, and will consider his options. I’d say that Democrats had better lock up either Marshall or Wicker before they realize how ugly 2010 is going to be for Team Blue.

NV-Sen: Wanna run against Harry Reid (and win)? It really doesn’t appear to be that daunting of a task if you believe the spurt of Republican polls in the past few days. Hot on the heels of a poll showing NV GOP Chair Susan Lowden smacking Reid by an six-point margin, two-time political loser Danny Tarkanian is out with a poll from Chariot, LLC (never heard of ’em) showing him beating Reid by a 50-42 spread.

But before we leave it at that, I just want to briefly touch on this howler from Reno Gazette-Journal reporter Anjeanette Damon:

It was an automated poll, meaning a recorded voice asked respondents to express their preference by pushing a number on their phone. These polls, while inexpensive to run, are not regarded as the most accurate method of obtaining survey results.

Maybe this poll is bunk, but I’m getting pretty tired of journalists who can’t bother to, at the bare minimum, take five minutes to review Nate’s pollster ratings. Or as Tom Jensen recently lamented:

I think there should be a required J School course for all aspiring political journalists on how to truly understand polling, the different methodologies, and the different organizations. I’d put pretty high up on the list that they should learn to look up and analyze the track records of various organizations instead of judging them on hearsay and other subjective criteria.

If only.

NY-Gov: The Q&Q Polling Factory is out with the n-thousandth poll showing Democratic Gov. David Paterson in comically bad shape. Pitted in a primary against AG Andrew Cuomo, Paterson now loses by a 61-15 margin, down from a 57-20 loss in June. In a general election against Rudy Giuliani, Paterson loses 53-33, while Cuomo leads by 48-39. The numbers scream for themselves.

PA-05: SSP extends our condolences to the family and friends of Bill Cahir, who was killed while on duty in Afghanistan late last week. Cahir, as you may remember, ran a very respectable campaign for the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania’s 5th District last year, losing a three-way race to Mark McCracken.

TX-Gov: In a bit of a let-down for Texas activists, Austin-area state Sen. Kirk Watson, seen as a rising star in the TX Democratic Party, announced on Friday that he’ll be seeking re-election to the state senate rather than entering the gubernatorial primary, which is already populated by the likes of Tom Schieffer and Kinky Friedman.

SSP Daily Digest: 8/3

KY-Sen: Kentucky’s Fancy Farm picnic is one of those old-timey traditions where all the candidates gather together, make a stump speech, and roast each other a little — but Daniel Mongiardo and Jack Conway already seem to be going a little past roasting each other to going after each other with axes. Mongiardo said Conway stood up for the “silver spoon crowd,” and, in his bid to be the coal candidate in this race, referred to cap and trade as “Jack’s tax.” Conway shot back that Mongiardo (an ear, nose, and throat doctor) “can’t hear the truth, you can’t smell the truth and you sure as hell can’t speak the truth.” Conway also referred to himself as a “tough son of a bitch” and even said “crap” at some point, leaving Mongiardo boo-hooing to the press later on about so many profanities.

LA-Sen, Gov: Bobby Jindal confirmed that he won’t be running for Senator against David Vitter in the GOP primary, but instead of endorsing Vitter as would be customary at this point, engaged in some rhetorical song and dance instead: “David’s going have to make his case with the voters directly just like any other candidate’s going to have to do that.” Meanwhile, Jindal is facing an investigation from his AG over his blog… or more precisely, “The Ledger,” the blog published by the Dept. of Administration about budgetary news. Still, a Republican state Senator filed a complaint, saying that the blog puts forth a political agenda.

NC-Sen: The Hill, in a long piece that mostly is about how Elaine Marshall is on track to be the Democratic nominee by default, drops an interesting tidbit at the end: Chapel Hill mayor Kevin Foy said he’s considering the race. (Chapel Hill has a population of less than 50,000, but it has an outsized place in the state’s zeitgeist, as home of UNC.)

IA-Gov: Former GOP Governor Terry Branstad has been occasional subject of rumors of another gubernatorial run (Branstad already served a record four terms as governor, 1982-1998). Branstad didn’t seem interested, but over the weekend went on the record as at least being somewhat interested: “I’m not ruling it out… And I have real concerns about the direction things are going.” For what it’s worth, a recent GOP internal poll showed Bradstad beating current Governor Chet Culver, while Culver easily dispatched the other GOPers. (H/t desmoinesdem.)

NM-Gov: GOP State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones, who’s had an exploratory committee for a while, announced in a letter to supporters that she’s officially launching her gubernatorial bid. She joins Dona Ana County DA Susana Martinez in the GOP field.

NV-Gov: Former GOP Governor (and current RNC member) Bob List dissed current Governor Jim Gibbons in no uncertain terms, saying his re-election chances are “fairly slim” and that Gibbons seems unlikely to run. When asked if he was in fact still campaiging, though, Gibbons had a succinct answer: “Yes.”

NY-Gov: The NY Times talks to a number of confidantes who make it sound like Andrew Cuomo is very interested in running for Governor, despite his many protestations otherwise. Cuomo’s holding pattern seems to be about waiting for the party’s other power brokers to try and push David Paterson out behind-the-scenes first, before committing to a primary and risking a repeat of the racially divisive 2002 gubernatorial primary where Cuomo lost to Carl McCall.

FL-08: Seems a little early for dueling internal polls, but that suggests this will be one of 2010’s top House contests. An NRCC poll gave Rep. Alan Grayson a 37-34 edge over Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty, but when told that Grayson voted to “raise taxes on small businesses” and “increase the deficit,” Crotty takes a 41-28 lead. (They also message-tested all the things wrong with Crotty — land swaps, toll increases, and the like — but didn’t reveal how much Grayson’s lead increases after being told about that.) Grayson responded with his own poll from April, showing him with a 46-40 lead over Crotty. (H/t Progressive America.)

FL-24: The Feds wrapped up their investigation of Tom Feeney’s golf trip to Scotland with Jack Abramoff, without filing charges. Feeney, currently practicing law, sidestepped questions of whether he’d mount a comeback for his old seat now.

GA-09: Yet another Republican threw his hat in for the super-red open seat left in north Georgia by Nathan Deal: state Sen. Lee Hawkins. TheUnknown285 outlines the downballot implications, though: Hawkins could be replaced by GOP state Rep. Carl Rogers, who would leave behind a House seat in Gainesville that would be ripe pickings for Democrats because of rapid Latino growth. (UPDATE: Ooops, no dice. Rogers says today he’ll stay in the House.)

VA-05: Tom Perriello got into the news in an interesting new way. It turns out that several letters sent to Perriello’s office, purportedly from local liberal groups, opposing cap and trade, were complete fabrications. They were forgeries of the groups’ letterhead, sent by lobbying firm Bonner & Associates, who’ve apparently graduated from mere astroturfing to mail fraud.

NY-LG: An appellate court ruled that Richard Ravitch, who was appointed by David Paterson in unprecedented (if not unconstitutional) fashion, may start serving as Lt. Governor. However, the court held that he can’t do the one thing that he was put into power to do, which is preside over the state Senate and cast tie-breaking votes.

SSP Daily Digest: 7/8 (Morning Edition)

Live from SSP World Headquarters in New York City, it’s your daily Daily Digest!

CA-47: The GOP has heavily touted Assemblyman Van Tran, who is waging an uphill campaign against Rep. Loretta Sanchez in this D+4 district. Tran, however, may face an additional hurdle: businessman & veteran Quang Pham, who just filed papers. Politico explains that there is “lingering anger with Tran’s role in a bitter contest for a Board of Supervisors seat in 2007, where Tran denounced the winning candidate as a communist.”

S. Fla.: A couple of entries for the Where Are They Now? files. Joe Garcia, who ran against “Super” Mario Diaz-Balart in FL-25 last year, just accepted an Obama administration job – he’ll become Director of the Office of Minority Economic Impact for the Energy Dept. Meanwhile, Annette Taddeo, who took on Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in FL-18, has declined to run for CFO to replace the outgoing Alex Sink.

FL-08: No need for me to summarize: “After saying for weeks that he would let people know by the Fourth of July whether he plans to run for Congress next year, Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty has left town on a holiday cruise without making a decision.” What a wank.

FL-12: Despite the GOP’s effort to clear the primary for state Rep. Dennis Ross in this open seat being vacated by Rep. Adam Putnam, Polk County Comm’r Randy Wilkinson formally announced his candidacy late last week.

IL-Sen: Looks like Illinois Republicans are growing tired of waiting for Capt. Kirk to beam back from the planet Vulcan. NRSC officials are meeting with Plan B, aka IL GOP chair Andy McKenna. McKenna previously sought this seat in 2004, coming in fourth in the Republican primary, well behind Dairy King Jim Oberweis. Crain’s Chicago Business charitably explains McKenna “never has had much of a following among the party’s conservative reform wing.”

NH-Sen: It’s starting to look like Sarah Palin is Kelly Ayotte’s political mentor in more ways that one. First, Ayotte announces she’s going to quit her current job in the middle of her term. Then, responding to the fact that she pledged to complete her entire four-year appointment, she offers this incoherent non-answer:

“I would say that at the time of my reappointment no one could have predicted the political future. The political landscape has changed drastically since then. Clearly the intent was to continue serving, but I think in fairness no one could have predicted the changes that have occurred on the political landscape.

Maybe she was just too busy reading all the magazines to make any sense.

NJ-Gov: Jon Corzine is up with a new negative ad. Meh. It doesn’t do it for me.

OH-Sen: Haven’t we heard this before? SoS Jennifer Brunner has penned a 1,300-word post on her website decrying the “insiders” who supposedly want her out of the primary… and back in May, she also sent a letter to supporters saying she wouldn’t quit the race. I don’t know why she feels the need to keep saying this. Also, in a sign that things are only likely to get worse before they get better, she includes this flourish: “If this race for the U.S. Senate is about the trappings of insider politics, then I suspect Lee Fisher will be your man.” Gonna be a long year.

OK-01: Rep. John Sullivan, who just returned to work after a monthlong stay at an alcohol rehab facility, said that he would seek re-election. Rep. Patrick Kennedy is also back after receiving similar treatment.

PA-Sen: Chris Cillizza reports that the AFL-CIO “will almost certainly weigh in” on the expected Specter vs. Sestak primary, but isn’t giving any hints about whose side they’ll take.

WI-07: It looks like another former “Real World” contestant is gearing up for a run for Congress. Last cycle, Kevin Powell (season one) got crushed by Rep. Ed Towns in NY-10, but is apparently back for another round. Meanwhile, out in Wisconsin, Real World-er Sean Duffy (season six) is weighing a challenge to Rep. Dave Obey. There is one thing Duffy must remember.

SSP Daily Digest: 6/18

IL-Sen: AG Lisa Madigan is apparently warming up to the idea of running for Senate instead of Governor (thanks to some entreaties from some big players — Madigan met with Barack Obama at the White House last week). However, according to the Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet, she has some demands: she wants an endorsement from Obama when she announces, and she wants the field cleared of rivals.

That’s potentially very awk-ward, though, as state Treasurer (and, more notably, Friend of Barack) Alexi Giannoulias is already in the race, and has been fundraising very well (Madigan is sitting on $4 million, but that’s marked for a governor’s race and can’t be transferred to a federal race, so she’d be back to square one). Giannoulias issued a strong statement today that he wouldn’t be “bullied” out of the race, and sought to tie Madigan to party insiders. And even if Obama does manage to dangle some sort of carrot to entice Giannoulias out of the race, does he have the same sort of traction with Chris Kennedy, who also looks set to get in?

NC-Sen: Here’s not the way to rebut polls showing you in bad shape: with a transparently pathetic internal poll. The Richard Burr camp points to a poll that reveals him “winning” (albeit with no specific topline numbers) against SoS Elaine Marshall, but with the head-to-head question asked only after questions as to which of the two would better serve as a “check and balance on the policies of Barack Obama.” No results against other interested Dems (like Mike McIntyre) were discussed.

NH-Sen: More focus today on the possibility of Kelly Ayotte for the GOP Senate nomination. Attorney General in NH is an appointed position, so she’s never faced voters before, but that may be an asset; the rest of the state’s GOP bench, in Chuck Todd’s words, “all seem to have the smell of defeat on them.” Meanwhile, Rahm Emanuel will be hosting a DC fundraiser for Rep. Paul Hodes later this month, as Hodes (who banked only $260K in 1Q) looks to pick up the fundraising pace.

NV-Sen: In an example of the law of unintended consequences, John Ensign’s little indiscretions are further complicating the Nevada GOP’s efforts to find a suitable challenger to Harry Reid, as insiders get distracted by assessing the fallout. If today is any indication, it looks like the fallout is growing, not shrinking, with allegations of a second affair, and Ensign walking back his initial “extortion” claims in view of the complicated financial links between Ensign and the Hampton clan. For emphasis, if there were any doubt about it, ex-Rep. Jon Porter confirmed today that he won’t be running against Reid.

SD-Gov, SD-AL: Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin hasn’t ruled out running for Governor in 2010; she said she’ll make a decision by the August recess.

CA-03: Many insiders seem settled on CA-03 as the Democrats’ top target in California next year. Unbeknownst to many, there’s a third Democrat in the race against Rep. Dan Lungren, physician Ami Bera, who got in in April… and he’s actually been fundraising like a champ, claiming he’s on pace to have $250K at the end of June.

CA-44: CA-44 seems like a good place for a pickup, too, especially now that Rep. Ken Calvert is getting softened up with a primary challenge from his friendly neighborhood teabagger. Real estate broker Chris Riggs said the race would be a “litmus test” and referred to Calvert as a “big tax-and-spend incumbent.”

FL-08: State House speaker Larry Cretul (who just took over the job in March, in the wake of former speaker Ray Sansom’s corruption indictment) may already be looking to move up. He’s been talking to the NRCC about taking on Rep. Alan Grayson in this Dem-trending R+2 district. This may push out state Rep. Steve Precourt, who said he wouldn’t want to share a primary with Cretul. Cretul might still face an uphill battle in a primary, though, as his base is in Marion County, rather than the district’s population center of Orange County, where another likely GOPer candidate, Rich Crotty, is mayor.

MS-01: State Sen. Merle Flowers has decided to forego a challenge to Cold Chillin’ Travis (apparently at the behest of the NRCC), clearing a path for fellow Sen. Alan Nunnelee – for now. Others may get in, and in a move reminiscent of the disastrous post-primary period last year, Flowers did not endorse Nunnelee. The big advantage for Nunnelee is that he, like Childers, is from the Tupelo region, whereas Flowers (like Greg Davis) is from DeSoto County in the south Memphis suburbs. (D)

DSCC/DCCC: Tonight’s DSCC/DCCC fundraiser with Barack Obama is projected to raise $3 million, an amount that seems kind of weak compared with the $14.5 million haul from the NRCC/NRSC dinner a few weeks earlier. However, lobbyists were banned from the event, and the GOP haul involves some accounting sleight of hand, as the $14.5 million is the two committees’ entire fundraising haul over the eight-week period since early April. In addition, there’s a lower-profile fundraising breakfast/”issues conference” planned for Friday morning where there’s no Obama appearance but also no lobbyist ban in place.

Census: It looks like we might break the logjam that’s keeping incoming Census Director Robert Groves from being confirmed; it appears he’s part of a blanket hold on several dozen nominees, not a specific hold, and Susan Collins is happy with Groves and working with Democrats to get him in place. In other Census news, the tinfoil-hat wingnuts intent on avoiding and/or lying to the Census have a high-profile supporter: Rep. Michele Bachmann, who says she won’t answer any questions on her form beyond number of people in her house. Because, y’know, if you told Uncle Sam how many bathrooms are in your house, ACORN might somehow win.

Voting Rights: An interesting trio of voting rights bills passed committee in the House last week to little fanfare: most notably, the Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act (which guarantees no-excuse absentee voting in all states, something that’s still restricted in 22 states right now). Also passed were legislation providing grants to help states provide absentee ballot tracking and confirmation systems, and preventing state election officials from serving on federal campaign committees.

SSP Daily Digest: 6/16 II: Electric Boogaloo

MO-Sen: In an e-mail to local TV affiliate KY3, former Treasurer Sarah Steelman seems to be walking back her comments to the Hill yesterday, not wanting to appear to shut the door on a GOP primary bid against Rep. Roy Blunt. She says she’s still “very seriously considering” it.

PA-Sen: Here’s an interesting development: a state legislator in Pennsylvania has introduced a bill to switch Pennyslvania from closed to open primaries. This seems like a nakedly pro-Specter bill: it would have helped him survive his GOP primary against Pat Toomey, and now it would have the opposite effect, helping him survive a Democratic primary against Joe Sestak by opening the door to independents and moderate Republicans.

AK-AL: Unless the indictment fairy has a present for him soon, Rep. Don Young looks to have a much easier go of it in 2010 than last cycle. Not only is his Dem challenger ex-state House minority leader Ethan Berkowitz likely to run for governor instead, but now it sounds like his primary opponents, Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell and ex-state Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, aren’t going to run again either. Unlike last time, Parnell would need to give up his LG job to run, and he may instead be running for Governor if Sarah Palin declines to run again. Businessman Andrew Halcro, who ran for Governor as an independent in 2006, also sounds likely to run for Governor rather than challenge Young. State Senator Hollis French, who sounded like a likely Governor candidate for the Dems until Berkowitz showed up, may be the Dems’ best bet.

AL-07: The field to replace Artur Davis got bigger, as Jefferson Co. Councilor Shelia Smoot officially launched her campaign. She joins lawyer Terri Sewell, state Rep. Earl Hilliard Jr., and former Selma mayor James Perkins in the primary (which is the only real race in this D+18 district).

CA-11: Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf turned down the chance to run as a Republican in the upcoming CA-10 special election, but that seemed to ignite his interest, as now he’s considering running in 2010 in next-door CA-11 against sophomore Rep. Jerry McNerney, at R+1 a more plausible race than the D+11 CA-10.

FL-08: Republican state Representative Steve Precourt is considering making the race against Rep. Alan Grayson in this R+2 Orlando-area seat. His strongest words seemed to be reserved for likely primary opponent Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty, who Precourt doesn’t see as a “fresh face” or viable, although Precourt said he’d stand down if former state Sen. Daniel Webster got in.

ID-01: The Republican field in ID-01 is filling up, as state House majority leader Ken Roberts announced he’s in. He’ll have to get past veteran and McCain ally Vaughn Ward before facing off against Rep. Walt Minnick, though. Ex-Rep. Bill Sali occasionally makes threatening noises about a rematch, but he hasn’t said anything definite.

NH-02: Former state Rep. Bob Giuda (not to be confused with Frank Guinta, running in NH-01) is the first GOPer to launch an exploratory committee in the race to fill Rep. Paul Hodes’ open seat. He may still be joined by the 2008 candidate, Jennifer Horn, and, more remotely, a return by ex-Rep. Charlie Bass.

NY-23: Douglas Hoffman, the head of a local accounting firm, has thrown his hat into the GOP nomination contest for the special election to replace Rep. John McHugh. Republicans also announced their schedule for picking a nominee, involving four regional meetings around the districts where candidates would speak to the Republican county committee members over a two- to four-week period once there’s an official vacancy.

PA-03: Freshman Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, representing the swingy R+3 district based in Erie (won by John McCain by 62 votes), has managed to secure a hot ticket in view of its self-imposed membership cap: she joined the Blue Dog Coalition.

Redistricting: A petition drive is underway in Florida to get an initiative on the ballot for 2010 that, while not creating an independent redistricting campaign, would at least place some non-partisan limitations on the creation of House and legislative districts. Most of the money behind the petition drive is coming from Democrats, but two prominent Democrats aren’t on board with the drive: Reps. Alcee Hastings and Corrine Brown, both of whom stand to inherit more difficult districts if they’re made less convoluted.

SSP Daily Digest: 4/23

NY-20 (pdf): The BoE’s official tally bumps Scott Murphy’s lead up to 365, as 250 more ballots, mostly from Murphy stronghold Warren County, were added. Counting will continue for the forseeable future, unfortunately, and on Monday a judge will set a counting schedule for the ballots contested on the basis of second home residency.

The drip-drip of GOPers publicly throwing in the towel on NY-20 continues: today star strategist Mike Murphy cried uncle, as did former NRCC chair Tom Reynolds yesterday. Campaign Diaries has a thought-provoking piece on why the GOP continues to drag this out in the courts, even though they’re in too deep a hole for “case by case” examination of the ballots to salvage the count for them: it may be to set precedent for future recounts, where picking off individual ballots may be targeted to their advantage.

NY-Sen, NY-14: Rep. Carolyn Maloney has hired a statewide finance director, Lewis Cohen. Cohen denied that Maloney (who has been rumored to be interested in a primary challenge to Kirsten Gillibrand) will be running for Senate, but his title of “statewide” is pretty telling, considering that Maloney currently represents a few square miles in Manhattan and Queens.

PA-Sen: Only eight weeks before jumping into the Senate primary, Pat Toomey told Pennsylvania GOP chair Rob Gleason that he “didn’t want to be a Senator” and “be number 100 and vote no on everything.” Now this wouldn’t exactly be the first time a politician has promised one thing and done another, but the Specter camp has begun beating Toomey over the head with his flip-flop.

MO-Sen: Ex-treasurer Sarah Steelman is “moving in [the] direction” of entering the GOP senate primary, but is in no hurry to make a formal announcement as she gets her campaign’s financial house in order first. (She’s still paying off debts from her unsuccessful gubernatorial run last year.) This comes against a backdrop of increasing public discomfort by the party concerning Roy Blunt’s candidacy, caused not only by his humdrum $542K fundraising quarter and his high burn rate, but also his lobbyist ties and long ‘establishment’ track record.

GA-Gov, GA-03: With top candidates like Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Cobb Co. Commissioner Sam Olens bailing on the race, there’s an opening for a top-tier candidate to leap into the GOP field for the Georgia governor’s race. (SoS Karen Handel and Insurance Comm. John Oxendine are still in.) Could Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, who has occasionally expressed interest in this race, be the man? Westmoreland (perhaps best known for not being able to name the 10 commandments on the Colbert Report) is “seriously considering” it. Don’t look for a pickup of his R+19 seat if it’s open, though.

AL-Gov: Republican treasurer Kay Ivey will be running for governor after all, according to party insiders. The perception was that her role in Alabama’s floundering prepaid tuition plan may have wounded her too much to run for governor, but she’s still going for it.

CA-32: More endorsements as we approach the May 19 special election. Board of Equalization chair Judy Chu got the endorsement of Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. (The district doesn’t include any of LA, but obviously he’s a big figure in the media market.) The United Farm Workers and the locals of the Southern California District Council of Laborers went for state senator Gil Cedillo.

FL-08: Republican Orlando mayor Rich Crotty was looking like a major threat to just-elected Rep. Alan Grayson, but he’s getting tarnished with some legal troubles that may preclude him from running. A grand jury accused him of pressuring vendors to contribute to his re-election campaign. There’s still a deep Republican bench eyeing the race in this R+2 district, including state senate majority whip Andy Gardiner, ex-state senator Daniel Webster, and state rep. Steve Precourt. Grayson raised only $144K in the first quarter, but he may plan to self-finance, as he partially did in 2008.

Demographics: Here’s some interesting data from the Census Bureau: fewer people moved in 2007 (35.2 million) than any year since 1962 (when the nation had 120 million fewer people). This has its roots in the housing bubble pop, as people underwater in their houses are unlikelier to relocate for work. This may show up in a big way in 2012 reapportionment, though, as more people staying in place may save a few seats in the northeast or midwest and limit growth in the south or west.