SSP Daily Digest: 8/19

CA-Sen: Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina has announced that she’s forming an exploratory committee to start raising funds for a possible run against Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer next year. It’s still a bit amazing to me that someone like Fiorina, whose management practices were roundly criticized during her troubled leadership of HP, is being considered a serious Senate candidate… but I guess the ability to self-fund a Senate campaign in California buys all the cred you need with the NRSC these days.

FL-Sen: Add another pair of names to the ever-growing list of possible interim Senators under consideration to be appointed by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. Crist will interview state Rep. Jennifer Carroll, the sole African-American Republican in the Florida legislature, and University of North Florida President/ex-Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney today.

IL-Sen, IL-Gov: Businessman Chris Kennedy, whose interest in running for office next year appeared to be on the wane in recent weeks, announced yesterday that he won’t run for the Democratic gubernatorial or Senate nomination next year. That leaves the Senate primary in the hands of state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and Chicago Urban League President/ex-Blagojevich aide Cherlye Jackson; the gubernatorial nomination is set to be an expensive fight between incumbent Pat Quinn and Comptroller Dan Hynes.

MD-01: GOP state Sen. E.J. Pipkin, who helped play spoiler in last year’s House primary that saw the defeat of incumbent Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, is staying coy about a possible run against Democratic frosh Rep. Frank Kratovil in 2010. Pipkin says that he’ll make a decision “relatively soon”, but reminds us that the definition of “relatively soon” is highly flexible. National Republicans are currently closing ranks around the man who screwed the pooch for Team Red last year, state Sen. Andy Harris.

NC-08: NRCC recruitment chair Kevin McCarthy is continuing his magical mystery tour of the nation, and is currently scouring the great state of North Carolina in the hopes of wrangling a few challengers in Dem-held districts, including one to challenge class of ’08 member Larry Kissell. McCarthy says that he doesn’t think the party will fall back on ex-Rep. Robin Hayes, but Hayes himself still says his plans for 2010 are still “undetermined”.

NV-03: The NRCC has finally found its huckleberry to challenge freshman Rep. Dina Titus in the Las Vegas suburbs. John Guedry, a former VP at Nevada’s City National Bank, filed his statement of candidacy this week to try his hand at this D+2 district. While DC Republicans seem content to run the neophyte Guedry, he may face a contested primary from former Clark County GOP chair Brian Scroggins.

NY-15: State Sen. Bill Perkins is denying reports that he’s planning on challenging longtime Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel in a primary contest next year, saying that a run for Congress is “not on the agenda” right now. Roll Call rattles off a small band of local officeholders who might be interested, though, including NYC Councilwoman Inez Dickens, state Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat, Councilman Robert Jackson, Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV and Assemblyman Keith Wright.

SC-Gov: The crowded race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in South Carolina got slightly leaner this weekend when state House Minority Leader Harry Ott terminated his candidacy. Yesterday, he announced that he’s endorsing state Senator Vincent Sheheen for the nod.

UT-Gov: Newly-installed Republican Gov. Gary Herbert faces a special election next year for the right to earn the remainder of Jon Huntsman, Jr.’s term, but the path to get there just got a little bit clearer. Kirk Jowers, a prominent Utah political scientist who had lined up the support of several powerful state legislators (as well as an estimated $6-8 million campaign budget), announced yesterday that he won’t challenge Herbert at next May’s GOP nominating convention. Herbert could still face a challenge from a number of candidates highlighted by CQ, including two state senators, John Valentine and Steve Urquhart, and state House Speaker David Clark.

WI-03: Roll Call takes a look at the potential field that could emerge if Democratic Rep. Ron Kind bails from the House in order to run for Governor next year. While state Sen. Dan Kapanke is already in the race for the GOP, he could have company in the Republican primary from state Rep. Michael Huebsch and state Rep. Kitty Rhoades. For the Democrats, the early favorite for the nomination appears to be state Rep. Jennifer Shilling, a La Crosse-area pol with some significant fundraising prowess.

SSP Daily Digest: 8/6

CT-Sen: Political expediency makes you do weird things. Shortly after ultra-conservative Pat Tooomey, facing minor opposition in the Pennsylvania GOP primary but having to remodel himself for the general, came out in support of Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination, now moderate Rob Simmons, facing serious opposition from the right in the Connecticut GOP primary, has come out against Sotomayor.

IL-Sen: A poll from Democratic firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (no mention on whose behalf the poll was taken) finds that state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias should have little trouble gaining the Democratic nomination for the Senate race. In a 3-way matchup, he gets 45% of the vote, with businessman Chris Kennedy at 17% and Chicago Urban League president Cheryle Jackson at 13%. However, Kennedy seems to be backing down from the race and may instead run for Governor if he runs for anything; a 2-way matchup between Giannoulias and Jackson gives Giannoulias a 51-21 edge.

KY-Sen: Rand Paul, opthalmologist and son of former Presidential candidate Ron Paul, officially kicked off his race for the GOP Senate nomination. And here’s an interesting choice: he’s making the kickoff announcement in New York City, saying that it’s a national race and that, according to a spokesperson, “If he makes it to the Senate and votes in D.C., he’ll vote for people in New York and in California. His vote matters that much.” Yeah… I’m sure that’ll play really well among the actual people in Kentucky, that their Senator will be voting on behalf of New Yorkers and Californians.

NH-Sen: After a lot of criticism on the ground in New Hampshire, especially from the editorial page of the influential (among right-wingers) Manchester Union-Leader, John Cornyn is backing down from plans to coronate Kelly Ayotte with an NRSC fundraiser in DC in September, and said that the planned fundraiser hadn’t been an endorsement. Dean at Blue Hampshire wonders when the NRSC Ovide Lamontagne fundraiser will be.

NY-Gov: While the general sense is that behind-the-scenes power brokers are giving David Paterson a little more time to turn the polls around before trying to usher him out the door, 11 labor leaders in Buffalo aren’t waiting. They sent a letter to Andrew Cuomo — whose official story is that he’s running for re-election as AG, but whose private interest is well-known — urging him to run and, while not guaranteeing him their endorsement, saying they look forward to him running.

SC-Gov: It looks like Democrats may have landed a top-tier candidate for the 2010 gubernatorial race: state superintendent of education Jim Rex, SC’s only statewide elected Democrat. Few had expected the 67-year-old Rex to get into the field (which already contains state Sens. Vincent Shaheen and Robert Ford and attorney Mullins McLeod), based on his fundraising so far. But, he may have sensed an opening, despite South Carolina’s red hue, in the wake of Mark Sanford’s implosion (and the way it laid bare a lot of people’s concerns with his possible general election opponent, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer). Rex has formed an exploratory committee to start raising funds for a gubernatorial bid, and says he’ll make a final decision on the race “by early September”.

CA-10: The GOP added one more Young Gun this week (as an “On the Radar” pick, which I assume is analogous to R2B’s “Emerging” picks last year): attorney David Harmer, the guy who’s running for the Republicans in September’s special election. At D+11, I’m not sure what I can add, other than “good luck with that.”

CA-47: Speaking of Young Guns, Assemblyman Van Tran, who’s running against Loretta Sanchez in this Latino-majority D+4 district, was a surprise inclusion in the program (well, maybe not that surprising, since he’s been fundraising well in the larger Vietnamese community). However, his primary opponent, Quang Pham, isn’t daunted, and has now set a $250K goal of his own for the end of next quarter; he’ll be including some of his own funds toward that goal.

FL-24: Former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz, who now lives in the Orlando area, confirmed that he won’t run as a Republican for the 24th next year. Reports came out yesterday that he’d talked to the NRCC about a run. Three Republicans, including two termed-out state Reps, are already in the race against Dem freshman Suzanne Kosmas in this R+4 district.

IL-10: Another Republican may get into the race to replace Rep. Mark Kirk: businesswoman Renee Thaler, a former official in ex-Gov. Jim Edgar’s administration, formed an exploratory committee. State Rep. Beth Coulson is the only elected GOPer interested in the race, along with businessman Dick Green and attorneys Jim Koch and Bill Cadigan.

NH-02: The Democratic field in the open seat race in the 2nd got smaller, though; former state Sen. and gubernatorial candidate Mark Fernald dropped out the race, citing family reasons. Attorney Ann McLane Kuster is the only candidate officially in the race, although party insider Katrina Swett is expected by all to get in soon.

PA-06: The primary fight is on, for the GOP, in the open seat race in PA-06. Chester County Recorder of Deeds Ryan Costello entered the race; he’ll face off against state Rep. Curt Schroder, who has already been preparing for the race for many months. Democratic candidate Doug Pike is still unopposed, at least for now.

Where Are They Now?: On their way to prison, that’s where. Former Rep. Bill Jefferson was convicted on 11 of 16 counts, including a RICO charge which carries a possible 20-year sentence. (Thanks to Joe Cao for hustling Jefferson out the door before he could be convicted while still a sitting Democratic Representative, saving us some bad PR.) Also, in yesterday’s comments, Fitzy has a hilarious and must-read timeline of the slow decline of Sharon Renier, our 04 and 06 candidate in MI-07, who, in the wake of her primary loss in a recent state Senate special election, has quite literally gone off the reservation.

SSP Daily Digest: 7/22

FL-Sen: Looks like Charlie Crist has decided that, despite mediocre polling and worse fundraising from Marco Rubio, he’s facing a bigger threat in the primary than he is in the general. Crist came out in opposition to the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor yesterday, trying to shore up what remains of his conservative bona fides.

IL-Sen/Gov: Here’s an explanation for why Chris Kennedy has been dawdling on declaring for the Illinois Senate primary: he’s considering whether or not to jump over to the Governor’s race instead. This seems very odd… not that he’d have a good chance in either race, but it seems like he’d have a better shot in a primary in an open seat race against Alexi Giannoulias, who has some vulnerabilities, than against Pat Quinn, who’s fairly popular and has the benefits of incumbency. Apparently Giannoulias’s fundraising scared him off.

MO-Sen: Here’s an interesting tidbit out of Missouri, suggesting that former Treasurer Sarah Steelman is getting less and less likely to run in the GOP primary. Jeff Roe, who ran Steelman’s 2008 campaign, has started working for Rep. Roy Blunt. Blunt still faces a primary challenge from state Sen. Chuck Purgason, though, but he doesn’t pose the same level of threat that Steelman would.

NH-Sen: This is a big surprise, as he’s been pouring a lot of money into advertising (for his STEWARD organization, though, not as a candidate) and starting to build a staff. Anti-tax businessman Fred Tausch announced today that he won’t be running in the GOP Senate primary after all (or for anything, including the House). Considering that he was lobbing bombs at AG Kelly Ayotte just a few days ago, this is a sudden change of heart. Former Board of Education member and 1996 gubernatorial candidate Ovide Lamontagne may still provide a challenge from the right, though.

NY-Sen-B: Last night was the vaunted Bill Clinton/Carolyn Maloney fundraiser, which pulled in about $300K for Maloney’s House account. Meanwhile, the Albany Project has an interesting catch in this race. It turns out that there was one question from the internal poll in May that gave Maloney a 34-32 lead over Kirsten Gillibrand that didn’t get released to the public, and only came out in that City Hall News profile from a few days ago: “Asked whom they would vote for if they knew Gillibrand had the support of Schumer and Obama, people chose Gillibrand over Maloney 50-24.”

IA-Gov: A fifth candidate officially got into the GOP field in the Iowa governor’s race yesterday: little-known state Rep. and pastor Rod Roberts, who represents a rural part of western Iowa. Roberts polled a whopping 1% in a poll last week by the Iowa Republican blog of the GOP primary field; the poll found Bob Vander Plaats leading the field with 46%, trailed by Chris Rants at 16%, and Paul McKinley and Christian Fong each at 3%. Incumbent Democratic Gov. Chet Culver defeats Vander Plaats 48-39 and Rants 46-36.

NV-02: Ooops, back to square one in the 2nd. Douglas County school board president Cindy Trigg, who said she’d run against Rep. Dean Heller in 2010, has backed out, saying she needs to focus on the school board for now instead.

NY-23: The NRCC has gone on the air in the 23rd, launching pre-emptive TV attacks on state Sen. Darrel Aubertine before he’s even a declared candidate for the special election, for voting for new taxes in the state Senate. Meanwhile, word has leaked (perhaps from GOP rival Matt Doheny’s camp) that moderate Republican Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava was in fact under consideration for the Democratic nomination, but that they were scared off by unpaid tax problems associated with her brother’s business (for which she’s listed as the COO).

VA-11: Home inspection company owner Keith Fimian has decided on a rematch with Rep. Gerry Connolly in the now-blue 11th. Fimian, who can self-fund, lost the 2008 open seat race to Connolly, 55-43.

NY-LG: A New York judge put the kibosh on David Paterson’s appointment of Richard Ravitch as Lieutenant Governor, issuing a temporary injunction to stop it, saying the state constitution does not appear to permit appointment to fill a vacancy in that position. Still, even if the appointment never goes through, it looks like it may have succeeded for Paterson, in terms of forcing Pedro Espada’s hand and breaking the state Senate deadlock.

OH-AG: As was previously leaked, former Senator Mike DeWine announced today that he’ll run for state Attorney General. He’ll face off against Democratic incumbent Richard Cordray.

Fonts: Ever wondered about the font that defined the Obama campaign in 2008? Here’s a profile of that “uniquely American” sans-serif typeface, Gotham.

SSP Daily Digest: 7/21

AR-Sen: I’m not sure what it is about the Arkansas Senate race that’s making it flypaper for never-before-elected wingnuts. At any rate, former Army colonel Conrad Reynolds, from Conway, announced his candidacy on Monday.

FL-Sen: The Fix confirms that Marco Rubio will stay in the Florida GOP Senate primary, despite a terrible fundraising disparity and a brief public flirtation with dropping down to the AG race in the hopes of, y’know, not getting demolished.

IL-Sen: Newly elected Rep. Mike Quigley became the third Democratic House member from Illinois to endorse Alexi Giannoulias today (although the endorsement may not even be necessary if Chris Kennedy doesn’t get around to showing up).

MO-Sen: State Senator Chuck Purgason has been sending around e-mails telling the press that tomorrow he’ll hold a press conference (at the Ozark Cafe, in West Plains, if you happen to be in the area) where he’ll announce his plans for the GOP primary race against Rep. Roy Blunt. Spoiler alert! Purgason’s own e-mail goes on to say “It is expected that Purgason will announce that he will enter the race…”

NH-Sen: Here are two items that fall in the “well, duh” file: Kelly Ayotte has set up an exploratory committee so she can consider running for Senate, and Senator Judd Gregg hints strongly that he plans to endorse her.

WV-Sen: Here’s some good news, not just because we like to see our friends stay healthy but because he’s badly needed for cloture votes: Robert Byrd is back on the job on the Hill, after six weeks of hospitalization and some additional time to recuperate.

KS-Gov: Kansas Democrats are back to Plan A in the 2010 Governor’s race (not that they ever really had a Plan B): going back to Gov. Mark Parkinson and begging him to reconsider his decision not to run for election to a full term. Parkinson remains adamant, though.

ME-Gov: Another entrant to the Democratic field in the slow-to-take-shape Maine governor’s race: Portland businesswoman Rosa Scarcelli, who owns a housing company. Former state House Speaker and AG Steve Rowe still seems to have inside track for the Dems; the GOP, by contrast, doesn’t seem to have anyone yet.

MI-Gov: The GOP primary in the Michigan governor’s race got even more cluttered today, when, as expected, businessman Rick Snyder got into the race. Snyder is a venture capitalist who briefly served as CEO of PC maker Gateway back in the 1990s.

NJ-Gov: Chris Christie picked Monmouth County Sheriff Kimberly Guadagno as his Lt. Gov. candidate yesterday. It’s consistent with his approach of running a law and order, outsider-ish campaign. Christie supposedly also gave a lot of consideration to picking Rep. Frank LoBiondo, who, had he won, would have created a tasty pickup opportunity in NJ-02.

UT-Gov: This week’s confirmation hearing of Jon Huntsman as ambassador to China is expected to be a quick affair. He could be in his new job before the summer recess, leaving Gary Herbert in charge of Utah in a matter of weeks.

AL-07: In the wake of recent fundraising reports, Roll Call takes a look at the race to fill the open seat left behind by Rep. Artur Davis, running for Alabama governor. Corporate attorney Terri Sewell, thanks to her job, seems to have the best fundraising connections, and leads the money chase by far ($173K last quarter). However, she probably trails two other candidates in name recognition: state Rep. Earl Hilliard Jr. (son of the former Representative that Davis beat in a primary) and Jefferson Co. Commissioner Shelia Smoot, who is also known for having her own radio show. Also in the race are former Selma mayor James Perkins Jr., attorney Martha Bozeman (Davis’s former campaign manager), and businessman Eddison Walters (who racked up 9% against Davis in a 2006 primary).

KS-02: Former Rep. Nancy Boyda landed on her feet, getting sworn in yesterday to her new job at the Pentagon, as deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for manpower and personnel. This would suggest she won’t be running again in KS-02, which is fine, as she seems better suited for a policy job than one that requires a lot of campaigning.

NY-23: In other confirmation news, John McHugh’s confirmation hearing as Secretary of the Army won’t happen until after the August recess (although no one expects holds on the moderate Republican to be a problem). McHugh will remain in office until his confirmation, and after that there will still be several months’ lead time until a special election.

TX-23: Republican lawyer and banker Quico Canseco is back for another whack at Rep. Ciro Rodriguez in the San Antonio-based 23rd. Actually, Canseco never got that whack in 2008 — highly touted by the NRCC, Canseco was upset in the GOP primary by Bexar Co. Commissioner Lyle Larson, despite spending over $1 million of his own money.

Mayors: You may remember businessman Greg Fischer, who lost the 2008 Democratic Senate primary in Kentucky to Bruce Lunsford. He announced that he’ll run for Louisville mayor in 2010, as 20-year mayor Jerry Abramson recently announced he won’t run again.

SSP Daily Digest: 7/14

TX-Gov: Holy crap, Kay Bailey Hutchison is running for Governor of Texas! Of course, everyone with a pulse has known this for most of a year, but it’s now official: she’s done exploring the race and formally launched her campaign yesterday. She also found a lot of cash under the couch cushions during all those explorations, as she put together $6.7 million during the first half of the year. Factoring in her $8 million transfer from her Senate account, she’s sitting on about $12 million CoH. Her primary opponent, incumbent Gov. Rick Perry, raised $4.2 million in the year’s first half (a lot, considering he couldn’t raise during the legislative session) and has $9.3 million CoH.

FL-Sen: Ordinarily, you probably wouldn’t want to spotlight an endorsement from an unlikable jerk with a ridiculous name, but Marco Rubio is trying to rally the nationwide wingnut brigade to his financially faltering campaign ($340K last quarter), so he rolled out an endorsement from ex-House Majority Leader Dick Armey today.

IL-Sen: Now that he’s done holding his breath and turning blue until that nasty Andy McKenna would go away, Rep. Mark Kirk has announced that he’ll announce that he’ll announce that he’ll announce his candidacy, or something like that, “in one week.” Roll Call also has a look at the consternation that Kirk’s messed-up rollout caused both local and national GOP figures, stepping on their attempts to crow “recruitment success.”

Meanwhile, people are starting to wonder openly when if ever businessman Chris Kennedy is going to pull the trigger on getting into the Dem field. His hesitation is already landing him in legal hot water: a local police officer filed an FEC complaint against Kennedy for allegedly spending more than $5,000 on campaign outlays without actually having a campaign in place.

NV-Sen: John Ensign (apparently emboldened by fellow C Street dweller Mark Sanford’s seat-of-his-pants survival of his own affair) is proceeding full speed ahead, not just planning not to resign but to run for re-election in 2012. TPM wonders out loud if Harry Reid is one of the Dems who’ve urged Ensign to stay on board.

PA-Sen: The NRSC finally officially endorsed Pat Toomey today. This comes hot on the heels of news that state Sen. Jane Orie (who was being chatted up by the NRSC last week) has decided against running against Pat Toomey in the GOP senate primary. Rumors abound that Rick Santorum, nursing some sort of grudge against Toomey, was the driving force behind the Orie boomlet. Meanwhile, Arlen Specter today announced a 2Q haul of $1.7 million, narrowly topping both Toomey ($1.6 million) and Joe Sestak ($1 million in his House account).

CA-Gov: Meg Whitman is sitting on a ton of cash now, having added $15 million of her own money on top of $6.7 million in private contributions, bringing her total stash to more than $25 million. Her GOP primary rival, Insurance Comm. Steve Poizner anted up $5 million of his own money, along with $1.2 million in contributions, during that same period.

CT-Gov: A strangely quiet fundraising period for Jodi Rell has some wondering if she’s going to run for re-election. She raised $20,000 in the most recent quarter, with $71K CoH, outpaced by potential Democratic challengers SoS Susan Bysiewicz ($141K for the quarter) and Stamford mayor Dan Malloy ($147K).

OH-Gov: Betcha didn’t know that ex-Rep. John Kasich had an opponent in the GOP gubernatorial primary in Ohio: state Sen. Kevin Coughlin. Well, apparently no one else knew that either, and having gotten nowhere on the fundraising front in the face of party opposition, Coughlin bailed out yesterday.

VA-Gov: Creigh Deeds beat Bob McDonnell in fundraising in June ($3.4 million for Deeds, $1.8 million for McDonnell), but he had to blow through a lot of that in the primary. McDonnell is sitting on a lot more cash on hand, with almost $5 million compared with Deeds’ $2.7 million.

CA-11: This is the first I’ve heard of this guy — vintner Brad Goehring — who’s planning to challenge Jerry McNerney in the 11th. He’s not getting off on the right foot, though, with the appearance of 2006 statements where he shrugged off the problem of 40% of his workforce being undocumented immigrants… not likely to help him much with the nativist core of what’s left of the California GOP base.

CA-32: In case you’d forgotten (and most likely you had; I know I did), the general special election for the race to fill the vacant seat left behind by Labor Sec. Hilda Solis is today. Today’s election is an afterthought, given that the race was basically won in a heavily-contested May primary in this solid Dem district. Someone named “Chu” is guaranteed to win, although in all likelihood it’ll be Democratic Board of Equalization member Judy Chu over Republican Monterey Park city councilor Betty Chu.

FL-12: The Blue Dogs have already weighed in with their first endorsement of the cycle, endorsing Polk Co. Elections Supervisor Lori Edwards in the open 12th district to replace Rep. Adam Putnam, who’s running for Florida Agricultural Commissioner.

KY-St. Sen.: Gov. Steve Beshear is seemingly taking a page from Barack Obama, picking off Republican legislators and giving them secure appointive positions instead, opening up their seats for possible Democratic takeove. Sens. Dan Kelly and Charlie Borders were appointed to a judgeship and the Public Service Commission, respectively. Dems are optimistic about retaking both the seats, with state Rep. Robin Webb looking at Borders’ seat in Kentucky’s NE corner, and former state Rep. Jodie Haydon looking at Kelly’s seat in Bourbon territory in the state’s center. This will hopefully put a dent in the GOP’s 21-16-1 edge.

Census: Census Director Robert Groves was finally confirmed after the Dems used a cloture vote to break the hold on him, leaving him with only eight months to whip the Census into shape. Only 15 GOPers voted against cloture, including Richard Shelby and David Vitter, the ones who’d had the hold on the nomination, and some of the other dead-enders (Brownback, Bunning, Cornyn, Ensign, Sessions, etc…. although, interestingly, Coburn and Kyl voted for cloture). Meanwhile, Michele Bachmann continues her one-woman war on the Census, proposing legislation that would limit the number of question the American Community Survey (the annual supplement, not the 2010 full count) can ask.

Polltopia: PPP is asking for your input on another state to poll, so let ’em hear it. The finalists are California, Iowa, and Louisiana.

IL-Sen, IL-Gov: Madigan Declines to Run For Either One

Chris Cillizza is reporting that:

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) will run for re-election to her current post in 2010, according to a Democratic source aware of the decision, ending months of speculation about whether she might make the leap to a Senate or gubernatorial bid.

Like everyone else, I’m a little surprised, since polling indicated that Madigan would win either race handily and could basically have her pick of which promotion she wanted. Her rationale, though, I would guess, is that she has always had her heart set on Governor and becoming a Senator would be a distraction toward that end… and with new Governor Pat Quinn having quickly become fairly popular and solidified his status, she may feel she’s young enough to not have to roll the dice by rushing into primarying him out (and maybe she’d rather wait until the economy improves and being Governor is a less onerous job).

While this makes the 2010 Governor’s race pretty boring — Pat Quinn likely to romp over a second-string state Senator to be named later — this now makes the Senate race very interesting, as Rep. Mark Kirk may be much likelier to get in (giving the GOP a competitive figure, but also opening up IL-10 for us), and it may also attract more Dems to the crowded field (currently including Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, Kennedy Chris Kennedy, Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Jackson, and possibly incumbent placeholder Roland Burris). (H/t fitchfan28.)

RaceTracker: IL-Gov | IL-Sen

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.

IL-Sen: Chris Kennedy to Run

Michael Sneed of the Chicago Sun-Times says:

Sneed has learned the Merchandise Mart’s Chris Kennedy, son of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, will announce next week he is running for the U.S. Senate.

Sneed has also learned Kennedy, who lives with his wife, Sheila, and four children in Kenilworth, has hired the prestigious media consultant firm AKPD [founded by Obama Senior Advisor David Axelrod] and has already shot his first TV campaign commercial. …

Kennedy commissioned a poll last month using Obama pollster John Anzalone, which Kennedy sources claim was very encouraging.

Just a word of caution: I don’t have any reason to believe this information isn’t true, but three weeks ago, a different Chicago Sun-Times columnist, Lynn Sweet, posted an item claiming Mark Kirk would run for the Senate. When that information turned out to be wrong, she edited her post without making a note of the change.

SSP Daily Digest: 5/13

IL-Sen: Tempted by Lisa Madigan’s titanic poll numbers against all comers, and her public statement of reconsidering the Senate race, the DSCC has started actively courting Madigan to get into the Senate race. This news comes from Madigan herself, who still maintains that her main focus is the governor’s race (but, if you read the fine print, seems to be firing warning shots across Chris Kennedy’s bow to keep him from jumping into the Senate race). Madigan’s interest can’t be good news for Alexi Giannoulias, especially as concerns over his handling of the state college savings program are taking a bit of the bloom off his rose.

FL-Sen: Movement conservatives are tying themselves in knots trying to decide how to react to apostate Charlie Crist’s entry into the Senate race in Florida. The Club for Growth gave a tepid reaction, saying that Crist can still redeem himself by opposing the tax hikes proposed in the new state budget. On the other hand, Grover Norquist, the CfG’s patron saint, sounded a note of realpolitik, saying that Crist may be the best candidate “in Florida.” The conservative blogosphere, however, isn’t giving an inch, trying to organize a boycott on giving funds to the NRSC after John Cornyn weighed in on Crist’s behalf.

MN-Sen: Norm Coleman is getting buried under legal bills, and not all of them are related to his tiresome contesting of Al Franken’s election. He just requested for FEC permission to start tapping his campaign funds for defense attorney fees related to allegations that sketchy Coleman benefactor Nasser Kazeminy was funneling payouts to Coleman through Coleman’s wife. Would GOP donors be willing to keep funding Coleman if they knew their donations were going to his defense attorneys and not the futile Franken fight? That hasn’t stopped Coleman’s Senate friends from continuing to solicit donations for him, as compiled in this video.

MO-Sen: Rep. Roy Blunt pulled down a couple of expected but important endorsements in his quest to become Missouri’s next Senator: Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, the last member of Missouri’s House Republicans to get behind him, and Sen. Kit Bond, whose seat Blunt is looking to fill.

OH-15: Ohio voters may get the chance to add even more Steves to their House delegation. Former GOP state Sen. Steve Stivers, who narrowly lost the open seat race in OH-15 to Mary Jo Kilroy last year, is contemplating another shot at the race, with lots of urging from John Boehner. (Ex-Rep. Steve Chabot is already committed to a rematch against Rep. Steve Driehaus in nearby OH-01.)

SC-02: Speaking of rematches, backbench GOP Rep. Joe Wilson will have to face off again versus Iraq vet Rob Miller, who held Wilson to a surprising 54-46 margin in 2008 without DCCC help. Miller should be able to count on a higher-profile run this time.

Mayors: City councilor Jim Suttle squeaked past Republican Hal Daub (former mayor and Representative) to hold the open Omaha mayor’s seat for Democrats. (The position is officially nonpartisan, but the race was fought along clearly partisan lines, which favored Suttle as Democrats hold a 44-33 registration edge within the city.) Suttle won by 1,500 votes, by a 51-49 margin.

IL-Sen: Are the Floodgates Opening?

When former Commerce Secretary William Daley pulled the plug on his never-really-began Senate campaign in Illinois, it was starting to look like everyone was coalescing around state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (with Roland Burris providing an amusing footnote to Giannoulias’s victory lap). All of a sudden, though, the race is back in the spotlight (maybe people are no longer worried that Burris and his $845 could sneak through the primary as a spoiler).

Rep. Jan Schakowsky has seemed reluctant to give up her safe House seat and junior leadership role for a run at the Senate, but the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that’s she revving up her fundraising machine. She says she’ll announce by June 8 whether or not she’s running for Senate (although one of her erstwhile potential opponents, Mark Kirk, has had no compunctions about disregarding his own timeline). In the meantime, she has a star-studded fundraiser on tap:

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), mulling a Senate run, throws her annual “women’s power lunch” fundraiser Monday at the Hyatt Regency with marquee speakers White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Director of Public Liaison Tina Tchen and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

Jarrett’s an interesting get, as she’s perhaps the pre-eminent Friend of Barack (as seen by her almost-selection as Commerce Secretary). One of Giannoulias’s electoral strengths is his close connections to Obama’s inner circle… but then, Schakowsky was also one of Obama’s biggest congressional backers during the 2008 primaries, so she may be entitled to some payback too.

But an even heavier heavyweight than Schakowsky may be looming in the distance in the Senate primary: Illinois AG Lisa Madigan. While she had previously explicitly ruled out a Senate run and had done little to hide her gubernatorial ambitions, Cillizza is now reporting that she’s at least reconsidering. While a recent PPP poll showed Madigan beating incumbent governor Pat Quinn by a healthy margin in a Dem primary, he still has high approval ratings, and an open Senate race might be more of a sure thing for her (PPP also showed her dominating that field as well). So, the rethink makes sense, although which ever route she takes, she’s poised to dominate.

On top of all that, Chris Kennedy (never before elected, but a big wheel in Chicago’s commercial real estate world and, as son of RFK, possessor of that magical last name) has been privately making a splash as he “explores” the race, to the extent that Obama henchman Rahm Emanuel has been reportedly talking him up as potentially the strongest candidate. What tangled webs we weave…