NM-Sen Roundup: Who’s In, Who’s Out & Who’s Thinkin’ About It

Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s retirement, like Pete Domenici’s two cycles ago, has sent New Mexico’s small political world abuzz, with observers discussing tons of potential candidates on both sides. I’ve been collecting links for the past few days, and as best I can tell, here’s what the current playing field looks like:


Andres Valdez (D), “a longtime anti-police-brutality activist from Albuquerque”

Bill English (R), some nutter who once wrote on his blog that President Obama is “what literally amounts to an African dictator”

Greg Sowards (R), a teabagger who spent several hundred grand of his own money to take in 17% in the NM-02 Republican primary in 2008


Hector Balderas (D), the 37-year-old state Auditor who became the youngest Hispanic statewide elected official in the country in 2006; a source tells Dave Catanese that Balderas, who has scored the “rising star” label, is “95% in”


Janice Arnold-Jones (R), a former state representative, who says she’s “among” those who are interested

Terry Brunner (D), Bingaman’s former state director and current USDA official, who says he will make a decision “in the next few weeks”

Diane Denish (D), the former Lt. Gov. and 2010 gubernatorial candidate, who says she is “fully exploring the contest”

Martin Heinrich (D), the 1st CD Rep., who says he is “actively considering” the race

Tom Mullins (R), the 2010 GOP nominee in NM-03, who says he’s not ruling out a run

Heather Wilson (R), the former 1st CD Rep., who says she is “considering running for the Senate, as well as other opportunities”


Edgar Lopez (D), a wealthy real estate developer who says he is more interested in running for NM-02, depending upong redistricting

Ben Ray Lujan (D), the 3rd CD Rep., who says that his “focus at this time is on representing the people in my district”

Steve Pearce (R), the 2nd CD Rep., who told Politico it was “too soon for him to even consider a race” (their words); Pearce also wants to make sure the party picks a “conservative candidate” (i.e., not Heather Wilson), to avoid a replay of the 2008 GOP primary (where he beat Heather Wilson in a nasty fight but got crushed by Tom Udall in the general)


Gary Johnson (R), the governor before Bill Richardson & current presidential candidate, who is “not at all” interested

Bill Richardson (D), the former governor, who just joined a public relations firm

Susana Martinez (R), the current governor, who through a spokesman says she isn’t interested

Are there any other names you’ve heard about?

NM-Gov: Martinez Leads GOP Primary by 10 (and Denish by 6)

SurveyUSA (5/23-25, likely voters, no trend lines):

Susana Martinez (R): 43

Allen Weh (R): 33

Doug Turner (R): 8

Pete Domenici, Jr. (R): 8

Janice Arnold-Jones (R): 3

Undecided: 5

(MoE: ±4.6%)

SurveyUSA has a number of early voters in this sample (19%), and they’ve broken for Sarah Palin-endorsed Dona Ana District Attorney Susana Martinez over businessman Allen Weh by a 50-33 margin. (Another poll floating around the tubes, this one paid for by New Mexico political gossip blogger Joe Monahan, has Martinez up by 41-30 over Weh.)

But the most interesting part of this poll is its general election match-ups, which may shake up assumptions that Democratic Lt. Gov. Diane Denish is favored in November:

Diane Denish (D): 43

Susana Martinez (R): 49

Undecided: 8

Diane Denish (D): 49

Janice Arnold-Jones (R): 35

Undecided: 16

Diane Denish (D): 46

Pete Domenici, Jr. (R): 40

Undecided: 14

Diane Denish (D): 50

Doug Turner (R): 36

Undecided: 14

Diane Denish (D): 47

Allen Weh (R): 42

Undecided: 10

(MoE: ±2.7%)

I have feared for some time now that SSP’s current rating of this race, Likely Democratic, may have been too optimistic given the nature of this cycle, but the absence of any poll numbers to confirm that suspicion has made any move difficult to justify. Indeed, even Rasmussen found Denish crushing Martinez by nearly 20 points back in March, and a PPP poll from February found Denish leading her opponents by spreads varying from five points (against Domenici the younger) and 18 points (against Weh). The one parallel between PPP’s poll and this one is that Denish was in the mid-40s in all of her match-ups back in February — it’s really only Martinez’s strength that has changed the ballgame this time around. It seems possible that Martinez’s primary ad blitz is carrying over into some general election appeal.

SSP Daily Digest: 2/22

AZ-Sen: Fox News, of course, has become legendary for its little Chyron errors that always seem to work out to the Republicans’ advantage (slapping a “D” next to Republican Congressmen involved in sex scandals, for instance). What then, to make of their latest one? J.D. Hayworth was recently identified on-screen as “former Arizona congresswoman.”

CO-Sen: Democracy for America (Howard Dean’s group) is getting involved in the Colorado primary, lending its support to appointed Sen. Michael Bennet. Probably his full-throated support for the public option is helping raise his profile in the netroots. It’s hard to pin down where the ideological fault lines in this primary are, though; his opponent Andrew Romanoff has gotten the big labor endorsements (although both Bennet and Romanoff sound leery about EFCA), and they spent their first debate last week mostly agreeing with and offering kind words about each other.

FL-Sen:  Sorry, Charlie… Rasmussen takes another look at the GOP Senate primary and finds Marco Rubio putting more distance between himself and Charlie Crist. Rubio is leading Crist 54-36, which is an even bigger gap that last months’ 49-37 edge.

IN-Sen: Ooops, this could get awkward. Rep. Baron Hill, who was out of the country all last week, got back and decided that he’s at least somewhat interested in (or at least “open to the idea of”) the Senate seat left behind by Evan Bayh too. Rep. Brad Ellsworth already is being treated as heir apparent (to the extent that a replacement for his seat in the 8th is lined up, too), but the state party committee will get the final word on who fills Bayh’s slot.

NC-Sen: As a bonus addition to their NC-Sen poll from last week, PPP took a look at both sides’ primaries too. On the Democratic side, undecideds rule the day; SoS Elaine Marshall does have the lead, beating former state Sen. Cal Cunningham 29-12 (with 5 for Kenneth Lewis and 2 for Marcus Williams). The only subgroup where Cunningham has the edge so far is voters under 30. On the Republican side, further signs of voters’ general indifference about Richard Burr: he’s polling at only 55% against two unknowns, Brad Jones at 10 and Eddie Burks at 3.  

NV-Sen (pdf): The first poll of the Nevada Senate race following the news that the Tea Party has sprung into existence and will be running Some Dude is an internal from a GOP pollster, POS. He finds that the top Republicans still beat Harry Reid, but by a much narrower margin than the last few rounds of polling have seen: Sue Lowden leads Reid 42-37 (with 9 for Jon Ashjian), while Danny Tarkanian leads 40-39 (with 11 for Ashjian). Reid beats Sharron Angle 37-32 (with 16 for Ashjian) and Mark Amodei 40-25 (with 19 for Ashjian). Lowden has the edge in the GOP primary, at 35, to 28 for Tarkanian, 8 for Angle, 5 for someone named Chad Christensen, 1 for Amodei, and 0 for the oft-hyped rich guy John Chachas. (Amodei, a termed-out state Senator from Reno, seems to have gotten the message from all this, and dropped out of the race today.

NY-Sen-B: The NY Daily News observes what I had sensed was happening: the likely challenge from Harold Ford Jr. has seemed to mostly benefit Kirsten Gillibrand, as it raised her profile, and finally kicked her into higher gear, as she’s sought out the spotlight a little more on issues like the public option and DADT. The newest Siena poll (pdf) finds Gillibrand in fine shape so long as George Pataki doesn’t surprise everyone by getting into the race. She trails Pataki 47-41, while beating Port Commissioner Bruce Blakeman 51-24 and wealthy publisher Mort Zuckerman 49-29. She also leads Ford and Jonathan Tasini in the Democratic primary, 42-16-4. If Ford somehow survives the primary, he trails Pataki 48-34, while also beating Blakeman (41-23) and Zuckerman (40-26).

CA-Gov: A nameless GOP pollster, on behalf of a nameless corporate client, shared an internal poll of the GOP gubernatorial primary with Taegan Goddard. While the lack of transparency is sketchy, the numbers are quite credible: Meg Whitman leads Steve Poizner 55-16.

MO-Gov: This may be a little premature, but Republican Lt. Governor Peter Kinder is already publicly saying that he’s running for Governor in 2012, presumably against incumbent Dem Jay Nixon. An early start can only help, though; in 2008, Nixon benefited from having his nomination locked down way in advance, while the Republicans fought it out in a nasty primary.

NM-Gov: NMSU is out with the first poll of the wide-open Republican gubernatorial primary field (although apparently not the general election). Thanks to the benefits of name rec, attorney Pete Domenici Jr. leads the field at 29, ahead of Dona Ana County DA Susana Martinez at 12, former state party chair Allen Weh at 7, Doug Turner at 7, and state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones at 3. The New Mexico Independent breathlessly reports that this was before the bombshell revelations came out that Domenici used (gasp!) marijuana and cocaine while in college in the (swoon!) 1980s… as if that’s going to change a single vote.

NV-Gov (pdf): That GOP internal from Glen Bolger also has gubernatorial numbers. Most interestingly, it sees Jim Gibbons (the damaged GOP incumbent) gaining some ground on ex-AG Brian Sandoval; Gibbons trails only 38-32, with North Las Vegas mayor Michael Montandon coming in at 9 (Sandoval’s decline may come at the benefit of Montandon as his profile increases, splitting the non-Gibbons vote). Reid the Younger (Rory, that is) beats Gibbons in the general, 47-36, while tying Montandon 40-40 but losing badly to Sandoval, 50-34. (Also worth noting: the poll also asks some state-level policy questions, and found voters preferring raising taxes to cutting services, 47-38. Certainly more grist for the mill, especially after the passages of Measures 66 and 67 in Oregon.)

NY-Gov: Andrew Cuomo is still taking his time on announcing anything regarding his expected gubernatorial run. While rumormongers seem to think at this point that the announcement is coming in mid to late April (after the fighting over the state budget is completed), the NYT points to a finite deadline: May 25, when the party convention begins (unless for some reason he wants to get on the ballot by collecting signatures and petitioning instead). The same Siena poll (pdf) that we talked about earlier also, as always, covers the gubernatorial race, and there aren’t any surprises there (except perhaps that David Paterson is slipping a bit against GOP candidate Rick Lazio, in the unlikely event he survives his primary). In the primary, Cuomo moves up to 64-22 lead over Paterson (they stopped asking about Suffolk Co. Exec Steve Levy, whose support seemed to come only out of Cuomo’s column and had pushed Cuomo down to 57 last month). Cuomo beats Lazio 63-26, while Lazio beats Paterson 46-39. (Lazio and Paterson were tied at 42 last month.)

OR-Gov: Rasmussen issued its first poll of the Oregon governor’s race, and find Democrats leading in every permutation. As always, it wouldn’t be Rasmussen without something weird in there, and what’s weird here is that the closest race is between Democratic ex-Gov. John Kitzhaber and long-ago ex-state Sen. John Lim, where Kitzhaber leads only 40-38. (Lim has a 31/28 approval, which I suppose is low name rec by Rasmussen’s strange standards, but freakishly high when considering that the 74-year-old Lim’s last big moment on the stage was losing the 1998 Senate race to Ron Wyden by 61-34, and that he’s probably best known for misspelling his own name on his bumper stickers from his 1990 gubernatorial run, where he lost the primary). Kitzhaber leads Chris Dudley 42-36, Allen Alley 42-34, and Bill Sizemore 48-35, while Bill Bradbury leads Lim 38-35, Dudley 39-36, Alley 41-35, and Sizemore 48-23.

VT-Gov: That Research 2000 poll (on behalf of local TV affiliate WCAX) that came out late last week had some additional matchups that we didn’t report on, focusing on the ever-present threat of a left-wing spoiler campaign from Anthony Pollina (although last I’d heard, Pollina was sounding more interested in trying for the Democratic nod rather than running 3rd party). Republican Lt. Governor Brian Dubie wins each permutation, including against SoS Deb Markowitz (who led Dubie in a 2-way race), where he’s up 37-35 with 11 for Pollina. Dubie beats Doug Racine 38-32-12, Peter Shumlin 39-31-12, Matt Dunne 38-31-12, and Susan Barlett 44-26-13.

WI-Gov: The first candidate to hit the TV airwaves in the Wisconsin gubernatorial race is ex-Rep. Mark Neumann, who’s being treated as the underdog in the GOP primary against Milwaukee Co. Exec Scott Walker. Neumann has deep pockets, but this may be an indication that he’s committed to fighting out the gubernatorial battle to the end instead of moving over to the Senate race, where Russ Feingold currently only has minor opposition.

MI-14, MI-15: Two octogenarian liberal stalwarts, and the two longest-serving members of the House, both confirmed that they’ll be running for another term: John Dingell (looking for term number 28) and John Conyers (term 23).

PA-06: Looks like that internal poll released by Rep. Jim Gerlach that had him leading by an ungodly amount had the desired effect. Pharmaceutical exec Steven Welch packed his bags and got out of the race, leaving Gerlach with only token opposition. With a fierce primary underway on the Dem side, it’s now quite the reversal of fortune in this district from where we were mid-last year, when the Dems were united behind Doug Pike and a GOP food fight was underway.

PA-12: Chris Cillizza is reporting that Joyce Murtha, widow of Rep. Jack Murtha, is going to announce that she won’t run in the May 18 special election to replace her husband. This is big news, as the frontrunners, ex-LG Mark Singel and ex-Treasurer Barbara Hafer, said they’d defer to Murtha. (One more Dem is getting into the field today, Mark Critz, who was Murtha’s district director. Singel and Hafer are the universally-regarded heavyweights, though.) Cillizza also hints that Republicans  “downplay their chances” in this special election, despite the district’s R+1 lean (the real problem for them is their lack of a bench in this traditionally very Democratic area).

VA-09: Republican state House majority leader Morgan Griffith seems to be moving ahead with a challenge to long-time Rep. Rick Boucher in the 9th, an Appalachian district that’s sliding away from the Democrats. While the district’s trend has to hearten Griffith, he has two problems: Boucher’s huge cash stash, and the fact that Griffith doesn’t live in the district, although very near the border – but while he’s known in the Roanoke market portion of the district, he’ll need to start from square one in coal country in the deep southwest.

WA-03: Here’s a surprising departure from the Democratic field in the 3rd: state Rep. Deb Wallace, who jumped promptly into the field after Rep. Brian Baird’s retirement and attracted good notices for the few days she had the Dem field to herself. She isn’t endorsing anybody, but said that the district needed a “true moderate Democrat” (which would seem to point toward ex-state Rep. Denny Heck rather than the more liberal state Sen. Craig Pridemore). Heck’s personal wealth probably drove Wallace out of the race, especially since she’d be splitting the “true moderate” votes with Heck while Pridemore ran unimpeded on the liberal side (well, except for flaky activist Cheryl Crist).

FL-St. House: In the face of a growing ethics investigation that could potentially start moving in a criminal direction, Republican former state House speaker Ray Sansom resigned from his House seat today. There’s one interesting name among the many persons who’d been subpoenaed to testify before the House Select Committee on Standards of Official Conduct: another former state House speaker (and now Senate candidate) Marco Rubio. (Rubio isn’t accused of wrongdoing, and now it sounds like the hearings have been rendered moot anyway.)

Filings: Campaign Diaries gives a rundown of what happened with the Ohio and Indiana filings, which closed last week. Dems are looking at five competitive retentions in Ohio (including OH-13, where wealthy auto dealer Tom Ganley completed his switch for the Senate race, and OH-18, where state Sen. Bob Gibbs deciced to pull the trigger. Potential problems lurk for the GOP in OH-15, where David Ryon filed as the Constitution Party candidate (meaning Steve Stivers might get screwed from the right a second time), and in OH-16, where NRCC fave Jim Renacci faces a competitive primary against more conservative (and presumably less electable) Matt Miller, who almost won the open seat GOP primary in 2008. The GOP’s big disappointment is probably OH-06, where their best bet seems to be former Belmont Co. Sheriff Richard Stobbs (who lost by a wide margin in 2008). There’s less drama in Indiana (except for the unresolved IN-Sen and IN-08 situations), although the open seat in dark-red IN-04 attracted a host of Republicans (most notably SoS Todd Rokita, but also two state Senators).

NM-Gov: Wilson Won’t Run

There was one Republican question mark left concerning the New Mexico gubernatorial race, and it was a fairly big one: former Rep. Heather Wilson, who gave up her seat for an unsuccessful Senate run. Yesterday, she announced that she won’t run, saying that she enjoys her private sector work, and:

“The Governor of New Mexico has no significant national security role – an issue area that continues to be an important part of my life. Running for office and being Governor means setting these things aside.”

That leaves well-regarded Democratic Lt. Gov. Diane Denish a pretty clear path to the victory. The only Republicans in the race are pretty second-string: state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones and Dona Ana County DA Susana Martinez.

RaceTracker: NM-Gov

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.

NM-Gov: Denish Wallops Wilson, Pearce

Harstad Strategic Research for the DGA (5/31-6/4, likely voters):

Diane Denish (D): 57

Heather Wilson (R): 35

Undecided: 8

Diane Denish (D): 57

Steve Pearce (R): 35

Undecided: 8

(MoE: ±4%)

As far as we know, no one has polled the New Mexico governor’s race until now… or even paid much attention to the race. That’s because, with the current field, this open seat is looking like, if not a slam dunk, then at least a poorly contested lay-up for Team Blue. Not only is there New Mexico’s big shift to the left in the 2008 election, but also a huge disparity in recruitment. Lt. Gov. Diane Denish has been the long-time heir apparent for the Dems (although state Senate majority leader Michael Sanchez is looking at the race), while all the GOP has cobbled together is official candidate National Guard Brig. Gen. Greg Zanetti, along with two explorers: state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones and Allen Weh, former state party chair best known for his supporting role in the U.S. Attorney scandal.

Still, the possibility has loomed in the distance that the GOP might field a higher-profile candidate: either one of the two former Reps., Heather Wilson or Steve Pearce, who basically destroyed each other en route to Tom Udall’s easy 2008 Senate victory. If this internal poll for the DGA is even remotely close to reality, then there’s not much of a race here even if Wilson or Pearce show up, as both of them lose 57-35. Denish even leads Wilson 53-40 in NM-01, Wilson’s base of operations for over a decade as she kept America safe from stray nipples. Pearce has also been weighing a run to get back his old seat in NM-02; if this poll is any indication, that’d be a better use of his time. (H/t Campaign Diaries.)

RaceTracker: NM-Gov

SSP Daily Digest: 5/8

PA-Sen: Tom Ridge’s appearance on Hardball yesterday may have set a new bar for equivocation. He wouldn’t commit to whether or not he’d vote for would-be rival Pat Toomey in the GOP primary, instead veering off into extolling the virtues of the secret ballot. On the flipside, in a nice bit of symmetry, Arlen Specter told Fox News that he can’t promise to vote with the Dems “all the time” on procedural votes. So, the takeaway is: nobody’s promising anything.

NY-Sen-B: Charles Schumer has ratcheted up his efforts to grease the wheels for Kirsten Gillibrand’s re-election path in 2010, hooking her up with donors, lobbying to get her on the good committees, and trying to tamp down possible primary challenges. “There is not going to be a primary!” he recently announced at a fundraiser (to the laughs of the audience… although I’m not sure whether the insiders were laughing due to his comic timing or the audacity and/or futility of his statement).

IL-Sen: Roland Burris is starting to seem like that last guest at the party who isn’t getting the message that it’s time to go home. Burris says he would like to keep his Senate seat, but will have to make “a formal decision in the next few weeks based on his ability to raise money for a campaign.” With a total of $845 raised so far… well… you do the math.

KY-Sen: One more Kentuckian is touring the state gauging potential support for the GOP Senate primary, which may or may not contain Jim Bunning. It’s Rand Paul, a doctor who’s never held elected office before but has one important ace in the hole: he’s the son of Rep. Ron Paul, which, if nothing else, establishes his liberatarian bona fides and gives him a nationwide fundraising base of fringe weirdo small donors.

NM-Gov: Two new candidates have emerged as possible contenders for the Republican nomination for governor in the Land of Enchantment: former state GOP chair Allen Weh (who was intrumental in the firing of US Attorney David Iglesias), who opened an exploratory committee this week, and state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones, who’s in the “considering” stage. National Guard Brig. Gen. Greg Zanetti is already in the race. This race could get more interesting if ex-Rep. Heather Wilson joined this paltry lot, but with the Dems already coalesced behind Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, the GOP is starting out in a hole here.

CA-47: Remember how Bill Sali had his campaign HQ in the wrong district? GOP assemblyman Van Tran seems to be following in Rep. Brain Fade’s fine footsteps, at least in the map skills department. He kicked off his campaign with an event in the Little Saigon neighborhood in Westminster… in CA-46.

CA-32: In the run-up to the May special election, state Sen. Gil Cedillo has turned his fire toward the race’s third wheel: Emanuel Pleitez. Pleitez, a 26-year-old up-and-comer who was part of the Obama transition team, threatens to eat into Cedillo’s share of the Latino vote (which he’ll need to dominate if he’s to beat Board of Equalization chair Judy Chu). Cedillo is sending flyers using photos grabbed from Pleitez’s Facebook page to make the case that he’s too young and immature for Congress.

TN-04: A stem-winding progressive-sounding speech came from a very unlikely place: Blue Dog Rep. Lincoln Davis, holder of a newly-minted R+13 seat, speaking at last weekend’s Tennessee Democratic Party summit.

Mayors: There’s another batch of big-city mayoral elections this Saturday, all in Texas. In San Antonio, 34-year-old former city councilor Julian Castro is favored to win. Castro finished second four years ago to Phil Hardberger, who’s now termed-out. In Austin, the best-known mayoral contender is Carole Strayhorn, who was mayor of Austin in the 1970s and ran for governor as an independent in the crazy 2006 gubernatorial election. Strayhorn, however, is probably too conservative for today’s Austin, and the frontrunner seems to be city councilor Brewster McCracken.

Census: The state of New York is ponying up $2 million in state funding to bolster participation in the 2010 Census, mostly for outreach campaigns to traditionally undercounted populations. Assumedly, they think this money will pay much greater dividends later, if a more accurate count reveals more New Yorkers and thus brings in more federal funding for social programs.

LA-Sen: In a tantalizing item, the Hotline teases that “The DSCC won’t let Rep. Melancon (D) alone.” Does this mean Melancon could be back in the recruiting crosshairs, despite previously saying he was “not contemplating a run”? The Hotline’s note is behind a subscription paywall; if you have access to it, please feel free to elaborate in comments.