SSP Daily Digest: 1/18

IN-Sen: The usually low-key Richard Lugar, all of a sudden, seems intent on reminding everyone in the press who’ll listen that he isn’t dead yet. Lugar says he isn’t sure how seriously to take the threat from the tea partiers since there’s no declared opponent yet, but he’s moving full speed ahead on fundraising, with a Friday event set with a $320K target.

MA-Sen: I know that our comments section isn’t representative of the Democratic primary electorate in Massachusetts, but Bob Massie’s unexpected campaign rollout over the weekend, and his uniquely compelling personal story, seemed to get an overwhelmingly positive response here. Here’s another, and more in-depth, profile of the first Democrat to get into the race against Scott Brown.

TX-Sen: San Antonio mayor Julian Castro is the latest Democrat to pass on the Senate contest, in the wake of Kay Bailey Hutchison’s retirement announcement. The up-and-comer says he “has no intention” of running in 2012 (which, I suppose, leaves open the possibility that he might find himself unintentionally running?).

UT-Sen: Here’s kind of a strange poll in Utah, seeing as how it’s tests of configurations that I can’t ever see happening… and, in the case of the 2012 GOP Senate field, it’s not even a sample of the people who’ll be making the actual decision (given the Utah GOP’s heavy reliance on the convention). In fact, the GOP primary question is asked of all Utah voters. At any rate, local pollsters (here on behalf of Utah Policy, rather than usual client the Deseret News) Dan Jones find ex-Gov. and current Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman in the lead in a GOP primary, beating Rep. Jason Chaffetz and incumbent Orrin Hatch 48-23-21. I haven’t heard anything about Hunstman running, at least not for Senate, and there’s no Chaffetz/Hatch head-to-head polled. They also find that Hatch would win a general election against Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson (in the odd event that, a) Hatch would survive the convention, and b) Matheson would give up his House seat for a suicide run), 48-41.

VA-Sen: This statement from ex-Gov./DNC chair Tim Kaine is simultaneously worrisome and reassuring: he says he won’t run for Senate, even if Jim Webb retires, problematic since he’s the Dems’ other top-tier candidate here besides Webb. On the other hand, he says that he has no reason to believe that Webb is planning anything other than re-election (although he doesn’t give any specifics on why he thinks that). Meanwhile, Jamie Radtke is already getting out in front of George Allen in the wake of reports that Allen is about to announce his bid. She challenged Allen to a series of debates, and rolled out an endorsement from RedState’s Erick Erickson. Allen didn’t respond, although he announced his own series of town hall events (presumably solo) through Americans for Prosperity.

WV-Gov: Former Republican SoS and current gubernatorial candidate Betty Ireland seems to have some insider knowledge that nobody else does: she’s saying that she wouldn’t be running if Rep. Shelley Moore Capito was, and that she had spoken with Capito to get confirmation on that. There was no comment on that from Capito’s camp.

AZ-08: There was much ado about nothing yesterday with brief blogospheric panic over an obscure Arizona state law that says that an elected official can be removed from office, via a declared vacancy, if she doesn’t execute her duties within a 90 day period. Turns out that applies only to state and local officials, and even if it didn’t, applying it to a federal official wouldn’t likely pass constitutional muster (in the same way that state term limits and recall laws don’t apply to House members).

CA-49: With Rep. Darrell Issa about to take over the reins of the House Oversight committee, this long and remarkably thorough piece from the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza is today’s must-read, if you haven’t already seen it. It revisits various episodes in his checkered past, but presents an interesting, complicated picture of him.

KY-AG: Even though he’s just dodged bids by his two most potentially serious rivals (SoS Trey Grayson and former state Supreme Ct. chief justice Joseph Lambert), now there are local rumors bubbling up that Democratic incumbent AG (and probably still a rising star) Jack Conway may not seek a second term. State Rep. John Tilley, state Sen. Ray Jones, and former state Dem chair Jennifer Moore have started talking themselves up for the job. While Conway publicly has said he intends to run again, Tilley says Conway has told him he hasn’t made a decision yet.

Chicago mayor: Big Dog alert! Bill Clinton will be appearing in Chicago on behalf of former right-hand man Rahm Emanuel and his bid for Chicago mayor. (Also reportedly appearing: SNL star and Emanuel impersonator Andy Samberg.) Carol Mosely Braun’s take? “One outsider coming in to support another outsider.”

Enthuasiam gap: Hooray! We’ve all been saved! PPP has officially declared that the “enthusiasm gap” is over. OK, I’m being facetious and it’s not that simple, but PPP finds that 85% of Democrats and 82% of Republicans are “very excited” or “somewhat excited” about voting in 2012, suggesting that young people and minority voters might actually get off their duffs and vote if there’s a president on the ballot. (In fact, the highest report of “very exciteds” is among African-Americans, at 71%.) Democrats were killed in 2010 by a high disparity in “not exciteds,” but currently only 16% of Dems and 18% of GOPers are in that condition, suggesting turnout parity.  

SSP Daily Digest: 8/12

AR-Sen (pdf): Here is a very weird set of numbers out of Arkansas, courtesy of a poll from somebody called Talk Business Quarterly. Blanche Lincoln has a 49% job approval rating, with 40% disapproval — no surprises, about what I’d expect. But on the re-elect question, the results are 27/60! (There’s some polling sleight of hand going on here, though; the question is phrased “would you vote to re-elect Blanche Lincoln as your U.S. Senator no matter who ran against her?” Well, I dunno… is Jesus going to run against her?) Also, in Arkansas, Republican wealthy guy/gaffe-prone crackpot Curtis Coleman has apparently gotten his shots and visa and can now go safely campaign in southeast Arkansas, as he officially launched his campaign today.

CT-Sen: Chris Dodd underwent successful surgery for prostate cancer yesterday and is resting comfortably. He’ll be back to full activity in a few weeks, probably just in time for the end of recess.

IA-Sen: Democrats nailed down a candidate to go against Chuck Grassley, although he’ll be hard-pressed to make a dent in the well-funded and inexplicably well-liked Grassley. Tom Fiegen, a former state Senator and bankruptcy attorney, will announce his candidacy on Friday. Another Dem, Iowa Democratic Veterans Caucus chair Bob Krause, is already exploring the race.

NV-Sen: Here’s a telling little tidbit from an interview with Rep. Dean Heller, suggesting that he may have just as much of a non-aggression pact with Harry Reid as does John Ensign (or else he just lives in perpetual fear of Reid). When asked if it was best for Nevada if Reid were defeated, Heller’s response was a 14-second pause, followed by “Um. My position is that I’m going to support the Republican candidate. If we have a viable Republican candidate, that is going to be my position. So I think that speaks for itself.”

NH-Sen: Kelly Ayotte made her public debut yesterday (although she maintains she’s not a candidate yet, despite having filed her candidacy papers), and shed a little more light on her hitherto-unknown positions on, well, everything. She seems to be running on mostly a law-and-order image, but she did reveal that she’s anti-abortion rights and anti-gay marriage.

NY-Sen-B: With Carolyn Maloney now out of the picture, Bronx-based Rep. Eliot Engel endorsed Kirsten Gillibrand today for re-election. That brings to 12 (out of 26) Dem members of the New York House delegation who’ve endorsed her.

HI-Gov: Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who’s running for Hawaii governor, ran into a sticky wicket: he won’t be able to transfer the $900K in his federal fund to his state fund, according to Hawaii’s Campaign Spending Commission. This puts him behind, in the fundraising game, both Republican candidate Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona and possible Dem primary opponent Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann, although he’s well-connected and should be able to catch up with some effort.

NJ-Gov: In a revelation that should surprise no one, it turns out that Karl Rove discussed with Chris Christie the possibility of running for New Jersey Governor while Christie was serving in the ostensibly non-partisan position of U.S. Attorney.

SC-Gov: Democrats may be sensing an opening in the South Carolina governor’s race after l’affaire Sanford, as yet another Dem jumped into the scrum: Dwight Drake, an attorney and lobbyist who hasn’t been elected before but is a prominent behind-the-scenes Democrat in Columbia.

UT-Gov: Gary Herbert was sworn in as Utah’s Governor yesterday, replacing new Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman. Although Herbert is universally viewed as conservative, he rankled some conservatives by throwing a bone to the state party’s moderate wing by picking state Sen. Greg Bell to be Lt. Governor. He now has nine months to prepare for the GOP nominating convention for the 2010 special election, where possible candidates he may face include state Senators John Valentine and Steve Urquhart, state House speaker David Clark, and law professor Kirk Jowers. With Rep. Jim Matheson declining a run, the Dems’ next best bet is Salt Lake County mayor Peter Corroon.

VA-Gov: Rasmussen takes its monthly look at the Virginia Governor’s race. Republican Bob McDonnell leads Democrat Creigh Deeds, 49-41, when leaners are pushed; the 8-point gap mirrors the R2K poll from last week, but is a drop from the 3-point gap in the July Rasmussen poll. Voters still like both of them; McDonnell’s favorables are 53/30, while Deeds’ are 48/39.

GA-02: Rep. Sanford Bishop has an honest-to-gosh state Rep. opposing him this time, instead of the usual token Republican opposition: Mike Keown. Bishop should face little difficulty in this black-majority district he’s held since 1992, though. (H/t TheUnknown285.)

NY-01: Speaking of Bishops, Rep. Tim Bishop also drew a bigger challenger than he’s used to, in the form of wealthy businessman Randy Altschuler, whom the NRCC had been trying to lure into the race. It remains to be seen if Altschuler, who’s never run for office before, has any political chops; the NRCC may have been loudly touting him more for his fundraising abilities, as he was a big McCain bundler and can open up his own wallet as well if need be. At any rate, it at least puts this D+0 district onto the map for 2010.

NY-St. Sen.: It’s amazing what being in the majority can do for you: New York State Senate Democrats are now way in the lead in the fundraising, compared with the once-dominant Republicans. Dems have raised $6.9 million so far this year, compared with $2.5 million for the GOP, driven largely by shifts by unions who previously felt the need to play ball with the Republicans in order to avoid getting shut out of the discussion. The GOP still retains a cash-on-hand edge, though.

SSP Daily Digest: 8/7

CT-Sen: Here’s some good news for Chris Dodd (and also Kent Conrad, although he’s not facing any danger at home): the Senate Ethics Committee found that no Senate gift rules were broken by accepting VIP mortgages from Countrywide. Perception-wise, though, this is a case where the damage has probably already been done.

FL-Sen: Marco Rubio has issued some demands to Charlie Crist, regarding Mel Martinez’s now-vacant Senate seat: appoint someone conservative, and appoint an “interim” senator (i.e. not Crist). TPM also cites NRO’s Jim Geraghty as hearing rumors that the pick may be former Republican Gov. Bob Martinez (no relation to Mel), a conservative (although registered as a Democrat when nonpartisan mayor of Tampa) who served one term, 1986-1990. Bob Martinez is 74, and of Spanish ancestry rather than Cuban.

IL-Gov: It still seems like a strange choice to me, but Comptroller Dan Hynes (runner-up to some guy named Barack Obama in the 2004 Democratic Senate primary) made it official yesterday. He’ll be running in the primary against incumbent Governor Pat Quinn, who’s been sporting surprisingly good approval ratings (by virtue of not being Rod Blagojevich, I suppose) and already managed to deter the much stronger Lisa Madigan from a primary fight. The primary is a ridiculously-early Feb. 2.

NJ-Gov: One more poll in the New Jersey governor’s race came out yesterday, painting a worse picture than yesterday’s not-terrible R2K. Rasmussen finds a 13-point spread, 50-37, for Chris Christie over Jon Corzine. That’s right in line with’s rolling average, which is 50-38 today.

UT-Gov: Utah Governor Jon Huntsman was confirmed as ambassador to China today, to no one’s surprise. Once he resigns, Republican Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert will be promoted but will face a special election in 2010.

VA-Gov: Creigh Deeds has taken on some criticism in recent weeks in the wake of flagging polls, for ignoring northern Virginia and focusing on his white rural base too much. He seems to be remedying that with his newest wave of radio ads, targeting Hispanic and black voters. On top of that, of course, was yesterday’s appearance with Barack Obama in McLean in NoVa.

CA-47: Republican Assemblyman Van Tran, who’s running against Loretta Sanchez in the 47th, got some bad PR last night. Tran was disruptive enough at the scene of a drunk-driving accident involving Westminster city councilor Andy Quach that he was threatened with arrest unless he returned to his car. (Tran was apparently called to the scene to act as Quach’s attorney, rather than a passenger.)

IL-10: State Rep. Julie Hamos got a boost in her quest to win the Democratic primary in the open-seat battle to replace Rep. Mark Kirk. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who represents the next-door 9th, endorsed Hamos, the first high-profile endorsement in the race.

SC-04: Republican Rep. Bob Inglis laid down the law at his town hall the other night, telling Screamers at the event to turn off the Glenn Beck and tune out the fear-mongering. One more clue that the increasingly-sane Inglis, who’s facing several high-profile primary challengers (most notably state Sen. David Thomas) in a dark-red district, is becoming the 2010 cycle’s likeliest GOP primary casualty.

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.

UT-Gov: Herbert Faces 2010 Special Election

One consequence of Gov. Jon Huntsman’s sudden decision to accept Barack Obama’s offer of the position of Ambassador to China is that the newly-promoted governor, current Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert, will need to face the voters in 2010. Huntsman’s term would have taken him through 2012, but Utah law is such that a replacement Governor newly elevated in a term’s first year faces a special election at the next regularly scheduled general election. (Remember, Huntsman was just re-elected in 2008.)

Herbert seems to be giving every indication that he will not be a placeholder and run for re-election in 2010 (for the remaining two years of the term; if he won, he’d still have to run again in the regularly-scheduled 2012 election if he wanted a full term). However, history may not be on his side. Lt. Gov. Olene Walker took over as Utah Governor in 2003 after Mike Leavitt became the Bush-era EPA Administrator, but because of Utah’s weird nominating procedures (previously discussed here), she didn’t even make it into the primary for her 2004 re-election, finishing third at the convention. (The top two finishers at the nominating convention advance to the primary, unless one candidate receives more than 60% at the convention, in which case he or she moves straight to the general.)

Herbert does not sound as out-of-step with activist base that dominates the nominating conventions as the somewhat moderate Walker, so he may still survive. He may still face some top-shelf competition, starting with AG Mark Shurtleff, last seen screwing up the announcement of his Senate primary candidacy against Bob Bennett via Twitter. Although Shurtleff is rumored be “Senate or bust,” he may be tempted to run against the less-known Herbert rather than longtime institution Bennett. (Another Bennett challenger, Tim Bridgewater, may be also interested in swapping races.)

There’s also the possibility that a decent Democrat might be more attracted to a chaotic, off-year gubernatorial election. That probably wouldn’t include Rep. Jim Matheson (who’d still have to give up his seat in 2010 to run), but it could include Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon or Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, who could run without giving up their current seats. While Swing State Project is skeptical of any Democrats’ chances in this race (it is, after all, Utah), there is enough fluidity here, especially on the GOP side, for us to add this as a “Race to Watch” to our 2010 Gubernatorial Race Ratings.

UPDATE (James): The Salt Lake Tribune touched bases with both Corroon and Jim Matheson, and they both are refusing to rule anything out:

A run for governor “is certainly not something I was planning for,” said Corroon, who “would never say never.” He says his “intent” is to finish his second term as Salt Lake County mayor.

Matheson says he will weigh his options. “In politics you always look at your opportunities,” he said, “and that’s what I always do.”

UT-Gov: Huntsman to be named Ambassador to China

According to the Associated Press Utah Governor Jon Huntsman will be named Ambassador to China.…

This means that Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert will take over as Governor. Utah will have a special election for the race in 2010. But, assuming Herbert runs and our extreme dearth of quaality candidates in the states, I don’t think we’d have a great shot.

I know this may not be the right place, and even if it was its really early, but I can’t help but think of the effect this is going to have on the 2012 Presidential race. Huntsman has been a popular name among political junkies as a guy to run in 2012 and I think a lot of people saw his coming out in support of civil unions as a first step to a Presidential run. But this really squashes a lot of that as I don’t think a guy can win a Republican Presidential primary when his last job was as an Amassador in the Obama administration.