• AZ-Sen: There are conflicting messages in Arizona in the wake of that surprising Rasmussen poll showing J.D. Hayworth almost even with John McCain in a Republican primary. Arizona’s other senator, Jon Kyl, says Hayworth isn’t likely to run, saying that he’s better-off hosting his radio show. Hayworth himself, on the other hand, just sent an e-mail to his supporters, saying he is in fact considering a race against McCain but first needs help paying down his campaign debt from his 2006 race. A prelude to a real race, or just some conveniently-timed grifting from some easy marks?
• CA-Sen: Carly Fiorina is trying to play up her pro-woman cred, even if it means coming off very ideologically confused: she said she would have voted to confirm Sonia Sotomayor, even though that gives Chuck DeVore a lifetime’s worth of ammunition to use against her in the primary. But yesterday she said she “shares Sarah Palin‘s values.” Um, all of them?
• IL-Sen: The NYT had a story yesterday giving voice to David Axelrod’s concerns about Alexi Giannoulias’s electability and his regrets about not recruiting Lisa Madigan, which got a lot of play elsewhere. They strangely left out one piece of information, though: Axelrod’s former consulting firm is working for the David Hoffman campaign.
• MA-Sen: More endorsements came out in the Massachusetts special election primary. AG Martha Coakley got the endorsement of Planned Parenthood, while Rep. Michael Capuano got the endorsements of the Massachusetts League of Environmental Voters and Black Women for Obama for Change.
• NY-Sen-B (pdf): Yet another poll shows Kirsten Gillibrand in so-so shape, as Marist dribbled out the last few results from the poll where the other results were released last week. Even as she gets better-known she still has a middling approval rating (3% excellent, 22% good, 39% fair, 12% poor, 24% unsure). Gillibrand loses 47-45 to ex-Gov. George Pataki, although that race looks very unlikely now (this same sample had Gillibrand down 54-40 to Rudy Giuliani, which still theoretically could happen). One item of good news for Gillibrand, though: she finally nailed down the endorsement of former colleague Jerry Nadler.
• IA-Gov: Here’s one more guy who has the potential to get teabagged to death in his GOP primary: ex-Gov. Terry Branstad. Branstad endorsed and raised money for Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson in the 2000 Senate race. Branstad rival Bob vander Plaats says that, as a result, using the same logic that pervades all movies about time travel, Branstad is directly to blame for the current health care bill. And while he’s at it, Branstad is also responsible for the deaths of millions, because he didn’t find a way to kill Hitler.
• MA-Gov: Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker already announced his running mate for 2010, and is fits with his financially conservative, socially liberal, insidery approach: he chose state Senate minority leader Richard Tisei. Tisei, one of five Republicans in the Senate, recently came out as gay.
• NV-Gov: There’s a new poll of the general election in the Nevada governor’s race, taken by PMI (a firm that previously did a poll of the GOP primary for a conservative website, but this one seems to be taken for the seemingly nonpartisan Nevada News Bureau). They only try out one permutation, assuming that Democratic Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman follows through on his threat to run as an indie. Republican former AG Brian Sandoval wins with 35, followed by Goodman at 28 and Democrat Rory Reid at 21.
• OR-Gov: Anti-tax initiative activist Bill Sizemore is kind of like herpes; he goes away, but is never permanently gone. With the GOP field now in shambles, Sizemore surprised everyone by announcing that he’ll run in the gubernatorial primary in 2010. He’s been out of jail for almost a year, so OK… but he may be headed back there if he follows through, as he’s under an injunction preventing him from raising political money. He plans on challenging that in court, though, at least to the extent to be able to raise individual campaign funds and not more initiative funds. If he somehow prevails in the GOP primary, this could lead to a replay of the 1998 governor’s race (where John Kitzhaber demolished Sizemore, 64-30).
• LA-02: With early entries by a few heavyweights, maybe we’ll be spared a large and chaotic Democratic primary for the right to beat accidental Rep. Joe Cao in 2010. State Rep. Juan LaFonta, long interested in the race, made official that he’s running; he joins fellow state Rep. Cedric Richmond in the hunt.
• NV-02: Do it! Do it! Reno attorney Ken McKenna has apparently been listening to the subliminal voices in his head, and was motivated to pull the trigger on a run against Rep. Dean Heller. (He’ll still face a Democratic primary against elderly ex-state Sen. Jack Schofield.) McKenna represents both personal injury plaintiffs and those accused of Breaking the Law, but he’s best known for his ill-fated suit against Judas Priest over a fan’s suicide. If he thinks he’s likely to win this race, he has another thing coming.
• PA-03: Ooops, this isn’t going to endear him much to the party base. Paul Huber, a local businessman who got into the GOP primary field to go against Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, was registered as a Democrat from 1975 until just recently. He switched to the GOP earlier this year. In his defense, he claims he was a “Reagan Democrat” and finally got driven out of the party because of, well, all the usual right-wing grievances.
• PA-06: Various developments in the 6th: on the Dem side, state Sen. Daylin Leach pulled his Doug Pike endorsement and switched to neutral, now that it looks like there’s an actual race between Pike and Manan Trivedi. On the GOP side, state Rep. Curt Schroder is facing a difficult primary against wealthy pharma exec Steven Welch, but got a boost via endorsements from seven nearby conservative legislators — including Berks County’s Sam Rohrer, who’s looking at a longshot gubernatorial bid.
• PA-11: Anti-immigration wacko wants to run for higher office, but needs supporters to pay down his campaign debt first? Sorry to keep repeating myself, but that’s happening in PA-11 too. Hazleton mayor Lou Barletta has been talking up another run at Rep. Paul Kanjorski, and has set a pre-Christmas deadline for a final decision. But in the meantime, he’s focused on raising donations to pay for his last run while considering his next one.
• VA-10: Republican Rep. Frank Wolf has proven extremely tough to pry out of his swing district, and it’s not looking like 2010 will be the year either. Attorney Patrick Lewis, who seemed to be the best bet here, has shuttered his campaign, leaving only two even less-known Dems (Richard Anthony and Dennis Findley) in the field.
• CA-LG: As many had expected, Arnold Schwarzenegger picked state Sen. Abel Maldonado to take over as Lt. Governor (now that John Garamendi is in the House). Maldonado is a sometimes-moderate who was one of Ahnold’s biggest allies in the Senate, who broke with other Republicans on budget issues (and probably earned too much of their wrath to survive a 2010 re-election). The Dem-held state legislature is mulling over whether to approve the appointment, which they certainly have the numbers to reject. Calitics is all over it, though, because Maldonado not only has little likelihood of remaining in office come 2011 (Dems he might face would be either state Sen. Dean Florez or LA city councilor Janice Hahn), but also because it would open up SD-15. The 15th is Democratic-leaning turf on the central coast; combined with another opening in SD-12, that’s a route to get over the magic 2/3s hurdle in the state Senate and actually pass a decent budget.
• NJ-St. Sen.: Guess who’s kicking himself for not taking over for Jon Corzine during the gubernatorial race’s low-water mark this summer. Now Richard Codey isn’t just not Governor, but now he isn’t even state Senate President anymore. Codey may be beloved by the state’s electorate, but not by his colleagues: he got bounced out of his position to make way for new leader Stephen Sweeney.
• Mayors (pdf): It looks like the anti-incumbent sentiment extends all the way down to local races too (OK, that’s not news; Greg Nickels and Tom Suozzi will certainly confirm that for us). A new Clarus poll of next year’s Washington, DC mayor’s race finds a 43/49 approval for mayor Adrian Fenty. Fenty leads the field, but at only 34%, followed by three city councilors: Vincent Gray at 24, Kwame Brown at 13, and Michael Brown at 6.
• RNC: If you went to college in the 1990s, you may remember the purity test that got passed around freshman dorms, which went a little like this:
1) solicited anonymous sex in the airport men’s room
2) claimed to be hiking the Appalachian Trail while actually visiting my mistress in Argentina
3) given a patronage job to the cuckolded husband of my mistress
4) texted an underage page about the size of his member
5) attempted to strangle my mistress
Wait, that’s not it. Anyway, the RNC is passing around a new purity test for future Republican candidates, which they have to score 80% on if they want official party money and support. (There’s been some public pondering whether worldly fellows like Mike Castle or Mark Kirk would even make the cut on this test.) And now the Washington Times (wait, they’re still in business?) is reporting that this test may even apply to NRSC and NRCC money as well.
• Photo of the Day: Some days I just don’t know whether to weep for my country, or stand back and laugh my ass off at it.
• CA-Sen: We’re starting to get fundraising reports filtering in, via the media and the rumor mill. And one of the most eyebrow-raising numbers comes from Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, of all places: he pulled in $330K in the third quarter, leaving him sitting on over $700K. He’s been given afterthought status as the NRSC and tradmed have rushed to fawn over Carly Fiorina, but his seeming success at tapping movement conservative wallets indicates that he won’t be going away quietly.
• FL-Sen: When you have so many people giving you money, a few of them are bound to be very bad apples…. Alan Mendelsohn, a prominent eye doctor and chief fundraiser for the Florida Medical Association PAC, was also a key financial backer of Charlie Crist and a member of his transition team. Yesterday he was charged by a federal grand jury with mail and wire fraud, aiding and abetting fraud, and lying to federal agents.
• IL-Sen: Maybe Mike Ditka doesn’t have the same iconic power that he used to, but if he does, then upstart GOP primary challenger Patrick Hughes got a really big get. The former coach of da Bears endorsed Hughes, who seems to be coalescing most of the hard-right, anti-Mark Kirk sentiment in the Senate primary.
• MA-Sen: More showy fundraising numbers out of Massachusetts, where everyone is scrambling for money in view of the primary election a few months away. Most notable is AG Martha Coakley, whose only real weakness seemed to be a lack of money (as she already has statewide name rec, is the only woman in the race, and a big edge in the polls). That’s a weakness no longer, as she raised $2.1 million in less than a month. By contrast, Rep. Michael Capuano raised only $300K in that period; even with the $1.2 mil in his House account, his one advantage — money — has now vaporized. The big surprise is City Year founder Alan Khazei, who raised $1 million in just a week after a late start to his candidacy; the question is whether he can convert that into a decent share of the vote. Celtics co-owner Steven Pagliuca raised only $200K, but can dip into his own money to advertise.
• NV-Sen: A long but must-read piece from the NYT looks at the tangled web between John Ensign and the Hampton family. Most significantly, it looks like Ensign not only went further than previously thought in trying to line up a job for Doug Hampton (the mistress’s husband) but then used his governmental power to do favors for Hampton’s new employer, Allegiant Air — certainly a violation of Senate ethics rules. And this is the Ensign that new GOP golden girl Sue Lowden was trying to circle the wagons around, even long after most of the rest of the local GOP had decided he was better served under the bus.
• NY-Gov: This is interesting: Mitt Romney is moving to back ex-Rep. Rick Lazio in the governor’s race and hosting a Lazio fundraiser. Since polls show Lazio getting completely flattened by Rudy Giuliani if they face off in a gubernatorial primary, Romney’s expenditure of political capital is either a) a sign that insiders are pretty well aware that Giuliani won’t be getting into the governor’s race after all, or else b) a repayment for Lazio’s backing in the 2008 prez primary and a thumb-in-the-eye for primary rival Giuliani.
• GA-12: More news out of the 12th: Wayne Mosley, a wealthy doctor and the NRCC’s recruit in the race thanks to his self-funding capacity (in fact, one of their top recruits in the nation, if you believe Mosely himself), had to drop out of the race. Mosely is being sued by his hospital for breach of contract, and apparently that’s taking up all his time and money. That leaves Thunderbolt Fire Chief Carl Smith and activist Jeanne Seaver as options to go up against Blue Dog Dem Rep. John Barrow.
• HI-01: Here’s some good news for those of us who’d like to see the House stay nice and Ed Case-free: state Senate president Colleen Hanabusa is getting in the race for the Democratic nomination for the open seat in the 1st being vacated by Neil Abercrombie. Hanabusa’s main opponent looks like it will be ex-Rep. Ed Case, who beat Hanabusa in the 2002 race in HI-02; the progressive Hanabusa may have better odds against the moderate Case this time, as Case alienated a lot of the local party with an ill-advised primary challenge to Sen. Dan Akaka in 2006.
• MO-03: Rep. Russ Carnahan picked up a Republican opponent: attorney Ed Martin. The 3rd is a D+7 district that has presented Carnahan with little trouble in the past.
• NY-23: Dede Scozzafava finally hit the TV airwaves with a new ad, leading the polls but lagging both her opponents in the battle for the airwaves. Also, check out Robert Harding’s thorough examination at the Albany Project of Scozzafava’s not-so-liberal actual voting record in the Assembly, if you’re looking for a counterpoint to yesterday’s Daily Kos piece about Scozzafava.
• SD-AL: Republican state Rep. Blake Curd, a Sioux Falls surgeon, is the first opponent to officially get in the race against Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. Secretary of State Chris Nelson is still considering the race, though, and given his statewide profiel seems like he’d be likelier to win the GOP primary if he got in.
• VA-10: Rep. Frank Wolf, the Republican dean of the Virginia delegation, has picked up a Democratic challenger in the form of attorney Patrick Lewis. Demographics are quickly moving this NoVa suburban/exurban district in the Democratic direction (it’s up to R+2 now), but Wolf has the kind of personal staying power that makes Lewis’s challenge an uphill fight.
• OH-SoS: Bad news out of the Ohio Secretary of State race (on the short list as one of the nation’s most important downballot statewide offices): Franklin County Commissioner Marilyn Brown decided to end her bid for the Democratic nomination, preferring instead to run for re-election. While this may spare the Dems a contested primary, this leaves only the much more conservative state Rep. Jennifer Garrison in the race, which may leave the base unenthused for the general election.
• ME-Init: Democracy Corps has a poll out on the anti-gay marriage ballot measure in Maine. They find 41% “yes” and 50% “no.” (Remember, as with California’s Prop 8, a “yes” vote is a vote against gay marraige.) These numbers are slightly better than the near-even split an R2K poll found a couple of weeks ago. But as Markos notes, D-Corps tested registered voters, while R2K looked at likely voters. (D)
• WI-Gov: Hot on the heels of changing Ohio to Lean Dem yesterday, today we’re downgrading the Wisconsin gubernatorial race to Lean Dem as well. We aren’t reacting to any one recent event (the only two polls so far have dramatically disparate results, but they average out to a tight race), but realized that we had no business keeping WI-Gov at Likely Dem if OH-Gov is going to be Lean Dem.
• CA-Sen: Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina seems to be moving toward running against Barbara Boxer after all, not taking formal steps but rubbing elbows with the right people. Here’s some ill-timed bad PR for her, though: Fiorina has been telling people that she’s now CEO of her own company (Carly Fiorina Enterprises) and her own foundation (Fiorina Foundation), but neither one has been registered with the proper state or federal authorities… which might lead some to question her vaunted business organization skills.
• IL-Sen: The Fix reports that alleged field-clearing heavyweight Rep. Mark Kirk may still face a contested GOP primary in the Senate race; state party chair Andy McKenna, recruited as the GOP’s Plan B, seems to be staying in for now, and the state’s Republican congressional delegation is staying, at least publicly, neutral. The flashpoint may be Kirk’s recent vote in favor of cap-and-trade.
• MO-Sen: In the “did he really just say that file?” Roy Blunt offers up a doozy: in a conservative talk radio interview, he said that maybe it would have been better if the federal government had never created Medicare, Medicaid, or VA health care, because it “distorts the marketplace.” Way to put the senior citizen vote in play there, Roy!
• NV-Sen: Off-the-record GOP consultants say that a John Ensign resignation may be “on the table” and that there are worries that there may still be even more undisclosed payments to the Hamptons floating around. If there are public calls for resignation from the other key GOPers in Nevada — Gov. Jim Gibbons, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, Rep. Dean Heller — it’s time to prepare the fork for sticking (of course, with two of those three in deep scandal of their own, there’s a certain pot/kettle thing going on).
• PA-Sen: Arlen Specter made his first aggressive moves against possible primary challenger Rep. Joe Sestak today, calling him a “flagrant hypocrite” for not being a Democrat until 2006. (Sestak was an Independent during his decades of military service, and switched to Dem once he was out of the service.) Hmmm… remind me again which year Arlen Specter became a Democrat? Meanwhile, on the GOP side, the NRSC just can’t help themselves from hiking the Appalachian Trail despite their efforts to fall back in love with Pat Toomey. They’ve been talking behind the scenes with state Sen. Jane Orie about running in the primary (although she’s almost as conservative as Toomey, so it’s not clear what benefit that would provide).
• AK-Gov: Guess who’s saying “thanks but no thanks” to the assistance offered by the divine Sarah Palin: the GOP candidates in the two very-close blue-state gubernatorial races this year, Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell. (On the other hand, Rick Perry, who needs to rally every wingnut he can get his hands on in order to win his primary in Texas, welcomes her.) The Hill also sniffs out a number of other candidates facing possibly tough races who’d like her to stay far, far away, including Reps. Lee Terry, Frank Wolf, Mike Castle, and Pete Hoekstra. (In his efforts to become World’s Most Tone-Deaf Man, Roy Blunt welcomes her help, though.) Finally, check out Peggy Noonan‘s authoritative takedown of Palin today; say what you will about the whole pure evil thing, the woman has a way with words.
• PA-Gov: With a lot of people looking at the Democratic field in the Governor’s race and asking “is that all there is?” a familiar face is considering the race: Montgomery Co. Commissioner (and former Rep. and 2004 Senate candidate) Joe Hoeffel. In his favor, he’d be the only elected official from the Philly area in the race (Tom Knox is from Philly, but has never held office).
• IL-10: With Rep. Mark Kirk kindly leaving an open seat for us, both the Daily Herald and Roll Call take a look at the developing fields in this race. On the Dem side, the leading contenders are state Sens. Michael Bond (already in the race) and Susan Garrett. Dan Seals, who lost in 2006 and 2008 to Kirk, is also considering a third try. The only GOPer in the race is Patricia Bird, but businessman Dick Green and state Rep. Elizabeth Coulson are likely contestants.
• NY-23: Don’t count out state Sen. Darrel Aubertine on becoming the Democratic candidate in NY-23, despite the ongoing craziness in the New York state Senate. Although the July 17 filing deadline is coming up and he hasn’t made any noise about it, Aubertine is still considering it and will have the requisite family sit-down about it once he has the time (which maybe he’ll have, now that the Senate is back to “normal”).
• VA-05: Rep. Tom Perriello has become the focus in the tug-of-war over cap-and-trade. A week after the NRCC made him the sole target of a TV attack ad for voting in favor, the League of Conservation Voters is running thank-you ads in his central Virginia district.
• Mayors: Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu has options, but he ruled out a third run at New Orleans mayor, for which he’d been considered front-runner. A run for Governor in 2011 (or maybe not until the open seat in 2015) now seems likelier. This leaves city councilor Arnie Fielkow in the driver’s seat for the next mayoral election.
• Caucuses: This seems like an odd time for this to happen, in the middle of the fight over health care reform: the Congressional Progessive Caucus canned its executive director, Bill Goold, without much explanation.
• CT-Sen: Ex-Rep. Rob Simmons needs to look like one of those allegedly-not-quite-extinct moderate New England Republicans in order to get elected in Connecticut, but he’s not doing himself any favors by appearing with Newt Gingrich at the annual Prescott Bush Awards Dinner. With a large Puerto Rican population in Connecticut, Simmons probably doesn’t want to be anywhere near Sonia Sotomayor’s loudest and most toxic critic. Another problem for Simmons: businessman Tom Foley, the former ambassador to Ireland, made his official entry into the GOP primary field today. Foley, unlike Simmons, has deep pockets he can self-fund with.
• MN-Sen: Sources close to Norm Coleman are suggesting he won’t appeal at the federal level if he loses his case with the Minnesota Supreme Court. Republicans still publicly say they’ll try to stop any Dem efforts to seat Al Franken until Coleman has conceded or exhausted his appeals. John Cornyn has sent some mixed signals, though, saying it’s “entirely” Coleman’s decision whether to keep fighting and that he’s “amazed that Sen. Coleman’s been willing to persevere as long as he has.”
• NV-Sen: Wondering why the GOP is having a hard time attracting a challenger to supposedly-vulnerable Harry Reid? Maybe it’s because of his deep levels of support among much of the state’s Republican establishment. The Reid camp released a list of 60 GOP endorsers, including, most prominently, soon-to-be-ex-First Lady (and former NV-02 candidate) Dawn Gibbons, Reno mayor Bob Cashell, and, in a move guaranteed to nail down the key 18-29 demographic, Wayne Newton.
• NH-Sen: Could it be that the NRSC could actually be stuck running Ovide Lamontagne against Rep. Paul Hodes? Just the very fact that the NRSC is talking to Lamontagne (a businessman whose one claim to fame is losing the 1996 governor’s race to Jeanne Shaheen) with an apparently straight face should be a red flag that their top-tier possibilities (ex-Sen. John Sununu, ex-Rep. Charlie Bass) aren’t looking likely.
• NY-Sen-B: Joe Biden reportedly had a sit-down earlier this week with Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who may or may not be running in the Senate primary against Kirsten Gillibrand. Presumably the meeting would contain some of the same content as Barack Obama’s now-famous phone call to Rep. Steve Israel.
• OH-Sen: If a candidate falls in the woods with no one around, does he make a sound? State Rep. Tyrone Yates has been exploring the Senate race for several months, and apparently found nothing that would help him overcome Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher and SoS Jennifer Brunner, as he bowed out of the race.
• NJ-Gov: Rasmussen has the first post-primary poll of the New Jersey governor’s race. Chris Christie may have gotten a bit of a brief unity bounce in the wake of his primary victory, as he’s up to a 51-38 edge over Jon Corzine now, as opposed to 47-38 last month. There’s one spot of ‘good’ news, as it were, for Corzine: his approval rating is back up to 42%.
• AZ-08: Construction company executive and ex-Marine Jesse Kelly seems to be the establishment GOP’s choice to go against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in 2010. He announced endorsements from three House members: Trent Franks, Duncan Hunter, and Frank Wolf. (Not quite clear how endorsements from Hunter and Wolf help him in Arizona, though.)
• KS-01: State Senator Jim Barnett got into the race for the seat being vacated by Rep. Jerry Moran, who’s running for Senate. Barnett may quickly become front-runner, based on his name recognition from being the 2006 GOP gubernatorial candidate (where he lost the state as a whole to Kathleen Sebelius, but won the dark-red 1st). He’s up against a more conservative state Senator Tim Huelskamp, and Sam Brownback’s former chief of staff, Rob Wasinger. The primary is the whole shooting match in this R+23 district.
• KY-01: After the purchase of “whitfieldforsenate.com” got people’s attention yesterday, Rep. Ed Whitfield had to tamp that down, confirming that he’s running for re-election in his R+15 House seat.
• MN-06: Even if this goes nowhere, it’s great to have a GOPer doing our framing for us… attorney Chris Johnston is publicly mulling a primary challenge to (his words, on his website) “‘anti-American’ hurling, malaprop-spouting, ‘they took me out of context'” Rep. Michele Bachmann. He confirms that he and Bachmann share “strong conservative beliefs;” he just thinks the 6th would prefer someone “who thinks before they speak.”
• NH-02: Attorney Ann McLane Kuster is launching an exploratory committee to run for the open seat left behind by Rep. Paul Hodes. St. Rep. John DeJoie is already in the primary field, and they may soon be joined by Katrina Swett.
• NY-03: Dems are scoping out potential candidates in Long Island’s NY-03 (which fell to R+4 in the wake of 2008), thinking that even if Rep. Peter King doesn’t vacate to run for Senate he’s still vulnerable. The biggest fish would be Nassau Co. Exec Tom Suozzi, who seems to have bigger fish to fry (reportedly AG if Andrew Cuomo vacates). The next-biggest fish would Nassau Co. DA Kathleen Rice. Smaller fish listed include Isobel Coleman of the Council of Foreign Relations, and minor league baseball team owner Frank Boulton.
• NH-Legislature: It took a rewrite of a couple sentences that Gov. John Lynch didn’t like, but after a few weeks of back-and-forth New Hampshire finally enacted gay marriage. Both chambers passed the amended bill yesterday (clearing the House 198-176) and Lynch signed it into law on the same day.
• PA-Sen: Apparently, Arlen Specter’s campaign has only received 15 requests for donation refunds so far in the wake of his switch to the Democratic Party. The returned funds only add up to a paltry $15K. (J)
The NRSC has launched a new robocall targeting Specter, by linking him to the NRSC’s arch-enemy… George W. Bush? (It replays Bush’s 2004 endorsement of then-GOPer Specter.) Apparently, the goal is to soften Specter up among the Dem electorate to lose a Democratic primary to a more reliable Dem, who would then be a little more vulnerable to Pat Toomey in the general… or something like that? This is one of those moments when you can’t tell if the GOP is crazy like a fox, or just crazy.
Specter bringing his decades of seniority with him over to the Democratic caucus is angering some key Democrats who get bumped down the totem pole as a result, according to The Hill. Specter could find himself wielding the gavel in an Appropriations subcommittee, or even back in charge of Judiciary if Patrick Leahy takes over Appropriations in 2010.
Specter’s switch has the whining flowing among some of the GOP’s sourest senators: Jim Bunning says the GOP “coddled” Specter for too long, while Jim Inhofe shows his grasp of GOP dead-ender logic, saying that Specter’s fleeing the party is a sign of conservatism’s strength and presages a comeback. In much the same way that if my house is on fire, that indicates that its value is about to go up, because it’s finally clearing out all that clutter.
• FL-Sen: The DSCC is pulling out all the stops against Charlie Crist, and he hasn’t even taken any steps toward getting into the Senate race yet. They’ve launched a new TV spot (airing in the Tallahassee market) that attacks Crist for leaving Florida in financial disarray to jump to Washington, and attacks his heavy-on-socializing, light-on-work schedule.
• CO-Sen: The GOP’s Weld County DA Ken Buck is trapped in the grey area between candidate and not-candidate for Senate; his website is up and running and has a “donate” button, but hasn’t filed his official paperwork and denied Monday’s reports that he was officially in.
• RI-Gov: Lincoln Chafee seems to be having similar problems on just how official a candidate he is, too. His exploratory committee is open and he said he “is” running when appearing on Rachel Maddow on Tuesday, but then issued a release yesterday walking that back, to “my intentions are” to run for governor.
• WI-Gov: The GOPers aren’t waiting any longer for Gov. Jim Doyle to publicly announce his re-elections; Milwaukee Co. Scott Walker launched his campaign yesterday. Walker (who briefly ran in the primary in 2006) doesn’t have the race to himself, though; last week, Mark Neumann, who represented WI-01 from 1994 to 1998 and then lost the 1998 senate race to Russ Feingold, announced his candidacy, touting his support from Tommy Thompson surrogate James Klauser.
• AL-Gov: Not one but two more Republicans are sizing up the governor’s race, although neither one seems top-tier material: Hoover mayor (in the Birmingham suburbs) Tony Petelos, and Bill Johnson, the head of the Alabama Dept. of Economic and Community Affairs. (Johnson has a colorful backstory that wouldn’t help him much in the primary.)
• OR-Gov: Local Republican pollster Moore Insight polled potential Dem candidates for governor on their favorables. Ex-gov. John Kitzhaber and Rep. Peter DeFazio posted pretty similar numbers: 49/21 for Kitz, 48/17 for the Faz. (Kitzhaber has higher negatives among Republicans, thanks to all those vetoes he handed out.) Former SoS Bill Bradbury is at 29/10, and Steve Novick, who barely lost the 2008 Senate primary, is at 14/4.
• GA-01: Long-time Rep. Jack Kingston has often been the subject of speculation in the Georgia governor’s race, but he confirmed that he’ll be running for re-election to the House. Interestingly, he’s supporting state senator Eric Johnson in the race instead of fellow Rep. Nathan Deal, but that’s because Johnson is a fellow Savannah resident and his son’s godfather.
• VA-10: The subject of much retirement-related speculation due to age and a rapidly bluening seat (now R+2), Rep. Frank Wolf confirmed he’ll be running for re-election in 2010. He may face state senator Mark Herring or delegate David Poisson.
• OH-18: Rep. Zack Space has been added to the DCCC’s defense-oriented Frontline program. Space was the target of an NRCC TV spot earlier, but this isn’t so much a question of newfound vulnerability as it’s confirmation he’s done flirting with a Senate run and committing to his House seat for 2010.
• CA-36: Suddenly embattled Rep. Jane Harman has hired Clinton-era fixer Lanny Davis to help her negotiate the legal and PR minefield she finds herself in, regarding the wiretap imbroglio. 2006 primary challenger Marcy Winograd is revving up her efforts, sensing Harman’s weakness. Winograd, who earned 38% in 2006, has begun raising funds for another try.
• NY-20: Republican Jim Tedisco says that he is “not planning” on seeking a rematch against freshly-minted Democratic Rep. Scott Murphy, but refuses to explicitly rule out a run. (J)
• WA-08: One more tea leaf that Suzan DelBene may be left holding the bag in WA-08: State Rep. Ross Hunter, one of the first Dems to crack the GOP stranglehold on the Eastside and a potentially strong contender in WA-08, is running for King County Executive. The already-crowded Exec race is in Nov. 2009, not 2010, but indicates Hunter’s interests lie locally, not in DC.
• Votes: The 17 Democrats who voted against the Obama budget are all familiar dissenters, and most of them are in difficult Republican-leaning districts: Barrow, Boren, Bright, Childers, Foster, Griffith, Kratovil, Kucinich, Markey, Marshall, Matheson, McIntyre, Minnick, Mitchell, Nye, Taylor, and Teague.