SSP Daily Digest: 9/29

CA-Sen: Politics Magazine takes a look at how the blowback from the launch of iCarly Fiorina’s new website continues from all ends of the political spectrum, including a nice dig from SSP’s own Ben Schaffer. As California’s right-wingers sputter, there were also rumors circulating at the state’s recent Republican convention that radio talk-show host Larry Elder — the conservatives’ preferred candidate, and someone who expressed interest in the race — got boxed out by the NRSC, who told him not to run.

IN-Sen: 33-year-old state Sen. Marlin Stutzman launched his long-shot bid against Evan Bayh with some help from Rep. Mark Souder, who introduced Stutzman at his kickoff rally. The race already has some fourth-tier figures in it: businessmen Richard Behney and Don Bates. Grant County Commissioner Mark Bardsley, former state Rep. Dan Dumezich, and self-funding popcorn magnate Will Weaver are also considering the race.

NH-Sen: Kelly Ayotte is taking this whole not-saying-anything-about-her-positions thing to an illogical extreme, refusing to say for whom she voted for Governor in 2006 and 2008. Primary opponents Ovide Lamontagne and Sean Mahoney were quick to announce that they voted for Jim Coburn and Joe Kenney — i.e. the guys who ran against Ayotte’s ex-boss, Democratic Gov. John Lynch.

NY-Sen-B: Ed Cox, having secured his role as New York state GOP chair despite a push from Rudy Giuliani to install one of his own lieutenants in the role, is now trying to make nice with Giuliani, encouraging him to run for the Senate seat currently held by Kirsten Gillibrand instead of for Governor. Giuliani hasn’t been returning Cox’s calls, and insists via spokespersons that it’s Governor or nothing.

AZ-01: Former state Senate majority leader Rusty Bowers has filed to form an exploratory committee to run against freshman Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in the mostly-rural 1st. He’s been out of the legislature since 2001 and has been a lobbyist for the Arizona Rock Products Association since then.

IL-07: Rep. Danny Davis, who previously seemed poised to bail out of his west Chicago seat and run for Cook County Board President, now seems to be dialing that back. Davis says he has the signatures collected to run for Board President “should [he] choose to do so.” He may be having some second thoughts now that he has a key seat on Ways and Means and also because the expected field-clearing for him in the Board race didn’t happen. With Illinois’s super-early February primary, he has until mid-November to  make up his mind. Alderwoman Sharon Dixon says she’s running in the primary in the 7th regardless of what Davis does, though; however, some other likely contenders, like state Rep. LaShawn Ford and state Sen. Rickey Hendon are in a holding pattern to see what Davis does.

IL-14: The field to take on Rep. Bill Foster in the Chicago suburbs just keeps growing, with the addition of GOP state Sen. Randy Hultgren. His best-known opponent in the now five-way primary is lawyer Ethan Hastert.

MI-11: Natalie Mosher is a fundraising consultant who’s the only person with a hat in the ring for the Dems to go up against Rep. Thad McCotter. She’s telling supporters via e-mail that she’s “very close” to being named to the DCCC’s Red to Blue program — although that seems to be news to the DCCC, who say that R2B decisions won’t be made for some time and they are still talking to other possible candidates.

NV-03: Yesterday we reported that former state Sen. Joe Heck was content to stay in the GOP gubernatorial primary, rather than switching over to the NV-03 slot vacated by John Guedry’s withdrawal. However, since then, Heck has signaled more interest, saying he hasn’t ruled it out and is discussing it with his family. Heck could turn out to be a step up from the inexperienced Guedry (remember that Rep. Dina Titus was a replacement candidate as well in 2008, who turned out in the end to be a better bet).

NY-13: Here’s a strange rumor: disgraced ex-Rep. Vito Fossella has been making public rounds, leading to speculation that he’s considering a comeback (although there’s no sense whether he’d try again for the 13th, or elsewhere).

NY-23: The Watertown Daily Times has some juicy dirt on Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman, who apparently pledged his support to GOP candidate Dede Scozzafava shortly after he was passed over by the party in favor of her… and then shortly thereafter reached out to the Conservatives and got their nod. His defense is that he didn’t know just how “liberal” Scozzafava really was, despite that having been a main bone of contention even before her selection.

NYC: With the primary runoff elections set for tonight, SurveyUSA has a final poll of the two races at issue: Public Advocate and Comptroller. For Public Advocate, city councilor Bill DeBlasio leads ex-PA Mark Green 49-42 (although DeBlasio narrowly won the primary, Green led every poll prior to it). And for Comptroller, Eric John Liu leads David Yassky 48-40 (both are city councilors). (Discussion of tonight’s main event is underway in Pan‘s diary.) Meanwhile, it looks like Barack Obama won’t be expending any political capital on the New York mayor’s race, unless it becomes clear William Thompson is closing the gap on Michael Bloomberg.

NY-St. Sen.: The Erie County, NY DA’s office is the latest to join a bipartisan chorus calling for an investigation into the shady campaign finance practices of political consultant Steve Pigeon. As you may recall, Pigeon was the mastermind behind billionaire Tom Golisano’s attempted coup in the New York State Senate earlier this year. Pigeon is also buddy-buddy with Republican-turned-Dem Sen. Arlen Specter, and gets a $150,000 sinecure (completely above-board, I’m sure) as counsel to now-legendary scumbag Pedro Espada, Jr. (D)

PA-St. Sen.: One other race to keep an eye on tonight, in addition to the NYC races: a state Senate election in the Philly suburbs. It’s a seat vacated by a Republican (who left to take a job with the Chamber of Commerce); Republican state Rep. Bob Mensch is considered to have the edge to hold the seat over Lansdale councilor Anne Scheuring (picked after better-known Dems took a pass), although Dems have spent considerably on the race. The district (the 24th) takes a bite out of the corners of four counties that went convincingly for Obama (Bucks, Montgomery, Lehigh, and Northampton) but it’s exurban turf and has a Republican registration advantage — which is exactly the kind of district that has bedeviled PA Dems at the legislative level but that the Dems need to pick up if they’re ever going to take over the state Senate. The GOP currently holds a 29-20 edge, plus this one vacancy.

SSP Daily Digest: 6/23

CO-Sen: Mark Udall endorsed his fellow Senator Michael Bennet yesterday. Superficially, that’s completely unsurprising, but it’s an indicator that we’ve gotten to the point where it seems unlikely anyone else from the Democratic political establishment (former state House speaker Andrew Romanoff, for instance) might challenge the appointed Bennet in the primary.

FL-Sen: I predicted yesterday that billionaire Tom Golisano’s interest in the Florida senate race wouldn’t last long, and now it doesn’t even seem to have ever existed. He let the Buffalo News know today that he’d never publicly expressed any interest, and that nobody (starting with Politics1, where the rumor started) ever called to ask him about it before launching the story.

ME-Gov: After months of nothing happening in the Maine governor’s race, now we have two candidates. Democratic State Rep. Dawn Hill, who represents part of York County and owns a dog day care in her spare time, announced she’s in the race. She may be a long shot in the primary against former AG and former state House speaker Steve Rowe, who quietly filed his candidacy papers last week.

FL-09: Our condolences to the family and friends of Phyllis Busansky, who died unexpectedly last night. She ran a solid race in FL-09 in 2006, and was elected Hillsborough County’s Supervisor of Elections in 2008.

NC-08: With the NC GOP trying to recover the fumble on their attempts to recruit Carolina Panthers star Mike Minter to go up against freshman Rep. Larry Kissell, a new possibility has emerged: former state Rep. Mia White (who was Mia Morris while in the legislature). She’s been pretty far out of the loop lately, though… she has been living in Singapore, where she’s been American politics commentator for what she called their equivalent of CNN.

NY-23: One more Republican has declared his interest in the open seat in the 23rd, who wasn’t on anybody’s watch list: veterinarian Gary Cooke. In a dairy-heavy district, Cooke seems primarily focused on farm issues.

OR-04: Springfield mayor Diamond Joe Quimby Sid Leiken has already run into some trouble in his nascent campaign against Rep. Peter DeFazio: he’s the subject of a campaign finance complaint from Democrats. Leiken paid $2,000 to a company called P&G Marketing and Research for “surveys and polls,” but no such firm exists and the address is the same as his mother’s real estate business. While Leiken didn’t return calls on the matter, Leiken’s campaign manager said that he has receipts for all of the campaign’s expenditures… except for this one.

PA-03: You know your campaign wasn’t meant to be, when the first mention your campaign gets in the press is your Facebook announcement that you’re dropping out of the campaign. The GOP’s lone challenger against freshman Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, social studies teacher Brian Lasher, dropped out, leaving the GOP without a candidate, although businessman Steve Fisher is still thinking about it. Hard to fathom the GOP giving up without a fight in such a traditionally swingy district.

Cal-St. Ass.: Fresno-area Assemblyman Juan Arambula left the Democratic caucus yesterday to become an independent, supposedly over budget issues (although water issues may be a major subtext). This tips the balance to a still comfortable 49-29-1 for the Democrats, but with Arambula gone they’re now five votes short of the 2/3s necessary to do anything useful with the budget. Arambula is term-limited out in 2010, so the fallout is contained.

Demographics: Nate Silver has, as always, a fascinating graph as part of a piece on changing migration rates in the last few years. Migration from blue states to red states has slowed significantly in recent years, probably because of the economic slowdown. The plus side is that this may salvage a few Democratic House seats in 2010.

SSP Daily Digest: 6/22

DE-Sen: Wilmington News-Journal writer Ron Williams seems convinced that Rep. Mike Castle will be running for the open Senate seat in 2010 and will announce next month, based on his chats with unnamed “high-ranking Republican operatives who know Castle’s moods and inclinations.” He also points to Democratic “rumblings” that AG Beau Biden may pass on the race, to avoid a career-damaging defeat. The Hill tried to get confirmation on this and didn’t get any new information out of Castle, so take with as much salt as needed.

FL-Sen: This is about the last thing anyone could have predicted: billionaire gadfly Tom Golisano, who ran three races for NY-Gov as an independent and was last seen pulling levers behind the curtain in the New York Senate semi-successsful-coup-type-thing has a new idea: running for Senate in Florida. Either on the Independence Party line (which does in fact exist in Florida, although barely)… or as a Democrat. Despite the fact that he just became a Florida resident a few months ago because he hated New York’s high taxes. Sounds like the kind of thing that’ll last until he’s distracted by another shiny object.

MN-Sen: While we’re trafficking in thinly-sourced rumors, here’s one more: there are plans afoot for the “pre-concession BBQ” for Norm Coleman staffers.

NH-Sen: AG Kelly Ayotte is reportedly “close” to deciding to run for Senate. (If you haven’t already read Laura Clawson‘s takedown last week of the circular rationale for the Ayotte boomlet, do it.)

NV-Sen, NV-Gov: GOP Reno mayor Bob Cashell decided he didn’t really mean to endorse Harry Reid last week; he had co-hosted a fundraising reception for Reid but had done so as a “non-partisan mayor.” He probably noticed that having endorsed Reid wouldn’t help his chances in the Nevada governor’s GOP primary next year. (Although this article says that he’s also considering running for Governor as an Independent.) Meanwhile, Nevada’s other Senator, John Ensign saw his approval numbers take a huge hit with the allegations about his affair with a staffer: the Las Vegas Review-Journal finds him at 39/37, down from 53/18 last month. Still, he’s the most popular guy in Nevada, compared with Harry Reid‘s 34% approval and Gov. Jim Gibbons’ 10% approval in the same poll.

CA-Gov: Antonio Villaraigosa will announce later today on CNN whether or not he’s going to run for California governor, which seemed likely even a few months ago but has gotten called into doubt recently. He can’t be encouraged by a recent LA Times poll, which polled only Los Angeles city voters on the Dem primary. Although Villaraigosa maintained a 55% approval as mayor, he only beat ex-Gov. Jerry Brown and SF Mayor Gavin Newsom by 38-32-13 on his home turf, with a plurality opposing his entry into the race.

IL-Gov: Little-known state Senator Matt Murphy is getting in the Illinois governor’s race. He joins two other state Senators in the field: Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard. Murphy has only been in the Senate since 2006, but may have a geographical advantage against presumptive frontrunner Brady, in that Murphy is from Palatine in the Chicago burbs while Brady is from downstate.

ME-Gov: Somehow this eluded me (and everyone else) last week, but it’s indicative of how little press the open Governor’s seat in Maine is getting. Steve Rowe, the Democratic former House speaker and Attorney General, has filed his campaign paperwork. The likely Dem frontrunner will have his formal kickoff “at a later date.”

NJ-Gov: Chris Christie has some splainin’ to do to Congress: he agreed to testify before the House Judiciary subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, regarding who Christie chose to award no-bid federal monitoring contracts to when he was US Attorney. Christie also looks to be waddling toward the center for the general, as last week his team scrubbed the “Shared Values” portion of his website that was up during the primary, in which he talked about opposition to abortion and gay marraige. Meanwhile, the discovery of an extra $625 million or so under the couch cushions in the state’s tax amnesty program may help Jon Corzine’s chances a lot; with that extra money, Dems may be able to restore the popular property tax rebates that were on the chopping block.

NY-Gov: Rudy Giuliani gave a timeline of sorts for deciding whether or not to run for Governor, saying “it’s something I have to decide sometime this year, but I haven’t really focused on it very much right now.” Also, like clockwork, another Siena poll (pdf) showing David Paterson’s dire straits just came out (although numbers have been stable for several months now): he loses the primary to Andrew Cuomo 69-16 and the general to Giuliani 57-27. Cuomo beats Giuliani 49-40, and has his highest-ever approval ratings at 71%.

FL-08: Rep. Alan Grayson likes to keep ’em guessing. One of the most outspoken liberals in the House, the freshman rep. plans to appear at the next Orlando-area teabaggers’ event on July 4. Apparently he’s there to tout support for a bill to audit the Federal Reserve, a topic where he and the Paulist wing of the GOPers have common cause.

FL-13: More insight into the campaign finance shell game that GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan allegedly had going on, that’s been the subject of investigations: a bankrupt registered Democrat explained his $8,800 contribution to Buchanan in that he was reimbursed for the contributions by his partners in a trucking company, one of whom is one of Buchanan’s biggest backers.

OH-02: David Krikorian, who’s going up against Rep. Jean Schmidt in this dark-red district, has put out an internal poll showing him within striking distance, down 44-39. Those numbers may have a lot to do with the DCCC‘s surprising recent decision to list OH-02 as one of their eight best shots at a pickup.

Redistricting: The presentations from the NCSL’s first Redistricting Seminar are available online. They include topics like the Census and “How to Draw Maps That Will Stand up in Court.” (D)

SSP Daily Digest: 5/18

NY-Sen-B: Steve Israel might have backed down from a primary challenge to appointed Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, thanks to last Friday’s iron-fist-in-a-velvet-glove moment from Barack Obama… but fellow Rep. Carolyn Maloney isn’t cowed. “I respect the choices that every member makes about their future. Steve Israel’s decision to not run for the U.S. Senate was his choice to make, but it doesn’t affect my decision-making process,” says Maloney. She has reportedly told colleagues of her plans to run, but nothing is official yet.

KY-Sen: Mitch McConnell was tap-dancing like crazy when Chris Wallace asked him point blank on Fox News Sunday whether or not he endorsed Jim Bunning for re-election, restating endless variations on the theme that the race is unfolding and it’s not clear who the players are yet.

CT-Sen: Another random primary challenger to Chris Dodd has surfaced: Merrick Alpert, a former Air Force officer, aide to Al Gore, and software company executive. Although his online statement about his candidacy attacked Dodd’s “corporate campaign contributors,” Merrick’s previous track record in the leadership of Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century (or DL21C for short), a group for centrist pro-business young Democrats, suggests he may be running to Dodd’s right.

WV-Sen: Best wishes to 91-year-old Sen. Robert Byrd, who was hospitalized over the weekend as a “precautionary measure” after he developed a fever from a minor infection.

NY-Gov: Tom Golisano, wealthy gadfly who lost three gubernatorial runs on the Independence Party line, will not be running in 2010, despite some speculation he might run for the GOP nod this time. He’s changing his legal residence from New York to Florida, saying he wants to avoid New York’s high taxes.

ID-Gov: Weirdo conservative Rex Rammell, who spend a lot his own money to run as an Independent in last year’s Idaho Senate race because of his disdain for Jim Risch (and ultimately had little impact on the race), has caught the political bug and been casting about for a new race. After considering primarying Rep. Mike Simpson in ID-02, he’s now planning to run in the 2010 Governor’s race. He seems to think current Gov. Butch Otter will retire after only one term (although he freely admits, “I could be totally wrong”).

Redistricting: Roll Call has an interesting piece detailing organizational steps the Democrats are undertaking for the 2010-12 redistricting process. Apparently many felt caught flat-footed for the 2000 round of redistricting, and are wisely revving up years in advance this time.