SSP Daily Digest: 9/17

CO-Sen: Former state House speaker Andrew Romanoff officially kicked off his primary challenge to Michael Bennet yesterday, with appearances in Pueblo, Colorado Springs, and Denver. Romanoff, however, wasted no time in demonstrating that he won’t be running to Bennet’s left, saying that he’s opposed to the card-check portion of EFCA. If he isn’t going to run to Bennet’s left, that leads to the question of: what other kind of an angle can he work, other than just “it’s my turn?”

IL-Sen: Here’s an interesting development in the Illinois Senate race: EMILY’s List has weighed in, endorsing (surprise) Cheryle Jackson. EMILY’s List isn’t always a magic bullet in these type situations (see Tinker, Nikki), but it does expose Jackson to a nationwide base of donors. Politico does observe something odd, though: EMILY’s List hasn’t endorsed a female Senate candidate who seems to have at least somewhat better odds of making it out of her primary… Jennifer Brunner.

NY-Sen-B (pdf): Some leftovers from yesterday’s Marist poll of NY-Gov: Kirsten Gillibrand is still having some growing pains, with an approval of 26% excellent or good, 38% fair, and 9% poor (with 27% not sure) and losing a head-to-head against ex-Gov. George Pataki, 48-44 (Pataki has been completely silent on the issue, but you’ve gotta wonder if the consistent numbers are getting him more interested). For yucks and giggles, they also matched Gillibrand up against Eliot Spitzer in a Dem primary, which she won 57-29. (Spitzer also loses a primary to David Paterson 60-31, and receives a general “no” on the issue of running again, 27/69.)

IL-Gov: State GOP chair Andy McKenna, who briefly provoked a Mark Kirk temper tantrum when he said he’d run in the Illinois senate primary, has decided he still really wants to run for office, and instead has headed over to the Governor’s race, where there was no top-tier candidate or even clear frontrunner. This seemed to spook one of the candidates, suburban state Sen. Matt Murphy, who bailed out of the race and signed on as McKenna’s running mate. While McKenna has the fundraising connections and can self-fund as well, McKenna has never won a race (he finished 4th in the GOP Senate primary in 2004, meaning he lost not only to Jack Ryan but also Jim Oberweis), and he’ll still have to face DuPage County Board Chair Bob Schillerstrom (who has at least 900,000 constituents) as well as a gaggle of other state Senators. (H/t GOPVOTER.)

MI-Gov: SoS Terri Lynn Land has signed onto Oakland Co. Sheriff Michael Bouchard’s ticket as his running mate. Land, you’ll recall, was widely expected to run for Governor but surprised everyone by endorsing Bouchard instead. (There was a brief rumor that she’d run in MI-03 after a Vern Ehlers retirement, but that doesn’t seem to be happening.)

NH-Gov: Rasmussen throws in gubernatorial numbers as part of its sample from Sep. 14 that found Kelly Ayotte up on Paul Hodes by 8 in the Senate race. The results help cast a little more doubt on the composition of that particular sample, as the state’s widely popular Democratic Governor, John Lynch, leads former Senator John Sununu (who I’ve never seen mentioned in connection with that race) by only 48-43. Lynch beats the only announced candidate, businessman Jack Kimball, 52-31, and vaguely interested state Senator Chuck Morse 51-29.

NJ-Gov: PPP tried out some alternate scenarios in New Jersey involving replacement Democrats for Jon Corzine (although Corzine hasn’t made any moves to get out, and it’s unclear why he would at this point, with his numbers improving somewhat). The bottom line is, it wouldn’t help anyway; Rep. Frank Pallone loses big-time to Chris Christie 43-23 (with Chris Daggett at 15). Newark mayor Corey Booker doesn’t fare much better, even though he has very high approval ratings: he loses 41-33-13.

OR-Gov: We’ll definitely have a contested primary on the Democratic side, despite the entry of heavyweight ex-Gov. John Kitzhaber. Former SoS Bill Bradbury is staying in the race, preparing to announce today, and yesterday releasing a video endorsement from his most prominent backer, former Gov. Barbara Roberts, who preceded Kitzhaber in office. Meanwhile, Kitzhaber released a literal shitload of endorsements yesterday, with many of the state’s key Democrats (AG John Kroger, Treasurer Ben Westlund, Superintendent of Education Susan Castillo, Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler, ex-Portland mayor Vera Katz, ex-Rep. Darlene Hooley) and some names who’d been bandied about as possible candidates (state Sen. Mark Hass, Portland city counilor Randy Leonard) on board — not a lot of oxygen left for Bradbury, or for Rep. Peter DeFazio, if he still wants to get in.

PA-Gov: Scranton mayor Chris Doherty is almost certain to run for the Democratic nod for Governor, insiders are saying. He’s staffing up (including some heavy hitters, including media pro Tad Devine) and polling.

TX-Gov: Rasmussen’s new poll of the Texas governor primary on the Republican side has a big surprise: it’s the first poll in ages (since May) to give a lead to Kay Bailey Hutchison. KBH leads incumbent Rick Perry 40-38, with somebody named Debra Medina, who’s from the Ron Paul wing of the party, pulling in 3% of the vote… apparently pulling in enough of Perry’s base of teabag/secession nuts to flip the race to KBH. Rasmussen’s May poll had Perry up 42-38.

CA-42: Republican Rep. Gary Miller has drawn a wealthy primary challenger, Lee McGroarty, an executive with an investment firm. Ethical clouds related to real estate deals have followed Miller, but he’s probably more vulnerable to an anti-insider primary challenge than a Democrat in this R+10 Orange County district.

NY-23: After Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts dropped their barely-explicable holds on the confirmation of Rep. John McHugh for Secretary of the Army, the New York Republican was confirmed last night. The three candidates — Democrat Bill Owens, Republican Dede Scozzafava, and Conservative Doug Hoffman — now are waiting to see when the special election is scheduled. State law requires David Paterson to schedule the election between 30 and 40 days from his announcement of the date, so in order to schedule the election on the regular election day of Nov. 3 (like everyone expects will happen), he’ll need to delay the announcement for at least another week.

Campaign Finance: Last month, a federal judge ruled that Connecticut’s relatively new campaign matching fund system violated the First Amendment, saying it impermissibly put unfair burdens on “hopeless” minor party candidates that it did not also place on equally hopeless major party candidates running in uncompetitive districts. (The decision was in part based on the Supreme Court case that struck down the federal Millionaire’s Amendment last year.) AG Dick Blumenthal is appealing to the Second Circuit. Meanwhile, some folks in Arizona are concerned that this ruling might implicate their own public financing system. (D)

SSP Daily Digest: 8/13

FL-Sen: Charlie Crist barely survived another county-level GOP censure vote, this time in heavily-Democratic Palm Beach County, where one would expect the GOP faithful to be Chamber of Commerce types and not run-of-the-mill teabagging rageaholics. The censure bid failed on a 65-65 tie. The party member who led the bid referred to Crist as “nothing more than Arlen Specter with a tan.”

NV-Sen: Rep. Dean Heller, who recently declined to run for Senate, laid his cards on the table, confirming what many suspected, that the John Ensign scandal contributed to Heller’s decision not to run against Harry Reid. Any Ensign support for Heller would have been a distraction rather than an asset. In the same interview, Heller also encouraged Ensign to answer remaining questions about payoffs to the former staffer he had the affair with. (One other interesting question raised here… does Heller calling out Ensign mean Heller is trying to help push Ensign out the door and then run for the open Senate seat in 2012? Because that would mean Heller wouldn’t run in the primary against Jim Gibbons in 2010, making it likelier that Gibbons survives the primary — and I know Democrats would rather face Gibbons than Heller in the governor’s race.)

Also, CQ is reporting that, bolstered by an internal poll giving her a small edge over Harry Reid (and also by Heller’s decision to stand down), state GOP party chair Sue Lowden is getting more interested in making the race, and she’s testing the fundraising waters.

PA-Gov: Rep. Jim Gerlach got another endorsement from Pennsylvania’s GOP House delegation, Bill Shuster from PA-05 (coming on the heels of endorsements from Todd Platts and ex-Rep. Phil English). Of course, House colleagues tend to stick together, and their endorsements are of questionable value since they generally don’t bring local machines along with them, but these endorsements are at least interesting to the extent that they’re coming from the rural, most conservative parts of the “T,” not from Gerlach’s moderate southeastern suburban base.

VA-Gov: There’s been some shuffling of personnel on the Creigh Deeds campaign, which has seemed kind of listless for the last month. Larry Sabato reported that campaign manager Joe Abbey, who engineered the primary victory, had been shoved over in favor of Mark Warner ally Monica Dixon. Dixon, however, says that Abbey’s still in charge but that she and some other new additions are there to bolster the ranks.

KS-04: One more random wealthy Republican to add to the ever-expanding field in the open seat race in the Wichita-based 4th: oilman Willis “Wink” Hartman. State Sen. Dick Kelsey and RNC member Mike Pompeo are considered the GOP frontrunners.

NY-23: GOP nominee for the special election, Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, had temporarily put her campaign on hold to tend to her father, who is recovering from heart surgery. Without a John McHugh Senate confirmation or a set election date, though, this isn’t likely to be much of a setback. (Stuart Rothenberg, as part of a good overview of the race, says it’s likely it’ll be held on Election Day in November, meaning that the significance of whatever happens may be subsumed by NJ-Gov and VA-Gov.)

OH-SoS: The Secretary of State field for the Democrats may keep growing, with a potential new entrant with an impressive resume. Paul Gains is the Prosecutor in Mahoning County (where Youngstown is); he says he’s leaning toward the race. (His biggest claim to fame is surviving a mob hit upon first taking office in 1996.) Ohio SoS is one of the most important lower-tier statewide offices in the country, given the state’s narrow divide and the SoS’s role on the legislative apportionment board. Franklin Co. Commissioner Marilyn Brown and State Rep. Jennifer Garrison are also likely to run for the Dems.

SSP Daily Digest: 8/10

CT-Sen: Moneybomb! Economist Peter Schiff, favorite of the Paulist set, is considering running in the Connecticut Senate race in 2010, and has already raised $800,000 toward his bid. More than $300,000 came from 4,800 online donations over the weekend as part of a coordinated money bomb.

IL-Sen: Like the party guest who just won’t get the message it’s time to go home, Roland Burris is suggesting that he might still “change his mind” about his decision not to run for a full term in the Senate. Maybe he sees more of an opening with the increasing likelihood that Chris Kennedy won’t run? (Seems like the opposite would be true, though — he’d need multiple top-tier candidates to split the vote in order to sneak through.)

NV-Sen: Republicans continue to search for a top-tier challenger to Harry Reid, but they have at least a warm body willing to go up against him: Danny Tarkanian, never before elected but best known for losing the 2006 Secretary of State race. He also lost a state Senate race to Mike Schneider, although he did win a libel suit against Schneider over claims made during the campaign. (If his name sounds vaguely familiar, he’s the son of The Shark, towel-biting former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian.)

TX-Sen, TX-06: Smoky Joe Barton, who’s been a Republican Representative in the Dallas suburbs since 1985, is reportedly interested in running for the Senate seat to be vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison. Although he’s a long-time power in the House, as one of 32 representatives he may not have the statewide name rec to go up against, for instance, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst — but it’s a freebie, as he won’t have to give up his seat to run in the special election.

AL-Gov, AL-02: I hadn’t heard that Rep. Bobby Bright had considered running for Governor — after all, he just got to the House — and it sounds like he never really did, other than publicly saying “never say never.” But today his office reaffirmed that he’s running for re-election in the 2nd.

MN-Gov, MN-01: Minnesota’s Republican Lt. Governor, Carol Molnau, is contemplating her place on the totem pole, with an open governor’s seat in 2010 but every heavy-hitter in the state already running for it. She won’t rule out the governor’s race, but is also considering running in the 1st against Rep. Tim Walz, where she’d presumably have the primary to herself but would be running uphill against Walz, who had one of the most resounding re-elections of anyone from the Class of 06. (H/t MinnesotaMike.)

SC-Gov: Week from hell for Mark Sanford: first, his wife moves out, then it comes out that Mr. Fiscal Conservative has been using the state plane for personal trips, in violation of state rules, including for a birthday party and the kids’ sporting events. Most notable: a trip between Myrtle Beach and Columbia just to get his hair cut, at a cost of $1,265.

NY-23: It’s August 10, and that means candidate interviewing day for the Democratic party chairs in the 23rd. By the end of the day, we may know who the candidate will be. There’s still no timetable on the special election, though; it may take a while for the nomination of Rep. John McHugh to be Secretary of the Army to go all the way through, as both Kansas Senators have put a hold on him in a tangentially-related effort to prevent Guantanamo detainees from being transferred to the military brig at Fort Leavenworth.

PA-10: Democratic Rep. Chris Carney finally has an announced opponent, Iraq vet and teabagger Christopher Bain. Considering that it’s a red district, this seat seems to have been a low recruitment priority for the GOP.

Census: Elected officials in the Gulf Coast states are worried about how the Census Bureau will count people who are still displaced by Hurricane Katrina (general Census policy is to count people based on wherever they’re residing on Apr. 1). This is a particular problem in New Orleans, which is hurting for funds but is down to a population of 311,000 (from 484,000 before the storm), and where a lower count means less funding; the city is hiring a full-time employee just to focus on local census issues.

Polltopia: Our friends at PPP are running another “Where should we poll?” poll. This week, you can vote for Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, or Pennsylvania. Also, interesting food for thought from Jay Leve, head of SurveyUSA, as he contemplates the future of polling, in a world where the old paradigm (where people are sitting around the house ready to answer their landline and take the time to respond to a pollster) is about to vanish.

SSP Daily Digest: 7/21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SSP Daily Digest: 6/30

IL-Sen: Here’s a fairly big-name entrant to the Illinois Senate: Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Jackson, who just formed an exploratory committee. Jackson had occasionally been rumored to be interested (to the extent that Jan Schakowksy’s internal poll included her, where she got 17% when explicitly substituted for Burris) but hadn’t taken concrete steps. Jackson has two demographic positives: with Schakowsky out, she’d be the only female in the race (unless, of course, Lisa Madigan gets in, in which case the game would be over anyway), and she’d be the only African-American in the race who isn’t Roland Burris. However, she used to be Rod Blagojevich’s press secretary prior to taking over at the Urban League, so the Blago stench may be hard to wash off.

ND-Sen: All had seemed quiet on the midwestern front, especially after that R2K poll that showed him getting flattened by Byron Dorgan (57-35), but Gov. John Hoeven recently showed at least a peep of interest in running for Senate after all… even if it was just a statement that he was still making up his mind and would decide by September. GOP state chair Randy Emineth said that Hoeven “wants to” run against Dorgan, but we’ll need to actually hear from Hoeven.

NH-Sen: The swabbies at ARG! pointed their spyglasses toward the 2010 open Senate seat in New Hampshire, and find that Rep. Paul Hodes would defeat ex-Sen. John Sununu 40-36. No numbers for the much-hyped AG Kelly Ayotte.

NV-Sen, NV-Gov: In the face of relentless wooing from GOP Senators, Rep. Dean Heller has set a deadline of June 30 to make up his mind about whether he runs for Harry Reid’s Senate seat. (Wait a minute… that’s today!) Heller’s other options include staying in NV-02 or running a primary challenge in the governor’s race — where the younger Reid (Rory, the Clark County Commission chair) seems to be staffing up for the race on the Dem side.

PA-Sen: Joe Torsella, who briefly was running against post-party-switch Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary before dropping out, has endorsed Specter. Not surprising, since Torsella is a big ally of Gov. Ed Rendell, who has pledged his support to Specter.

CT-Gov: More indications that Ned Lamont is getting serious about running for Governor (probably against incumbent Jodi Rell) in 2010. Lamont is looking at an early-2010 deadline for deciding, but can get away with a shorter timeframe as he can self-fund and won’t need a long ramp-up for fundraising.

NJ-Gov (pdf): PPP takes their turn at polling the New Jersey Governor’s race and find about what everyone else has been finding: Chris Christie leads incumbent Jon Corzine 51-41, with Christie benefiting from a 60-26 lead among independent voters. Good news, relatively speaking, for Corzine, though, is that Christie’s negatives are rising quickly as he’s starting to get defined in the media, up to 43% favorable and 33% unfavorable.

SC-Gov: Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer has publicly floated the idea that he would stand down from running in 2010 if he got to be Governor now, if Mark Sanford would just go ahead and resign (please?). His potential 2010 rivals are looking at this as statesman-like grandstanding, especially since it looks like Sanford is digging in.

AK-AL: In case there was any doubt, the indestructible Rep. Don Young has announced that he’s running for re-election. Young is 76 and in perpetual danger of indictment, but with the state’s political talent gravitating toward the Governor’s race, may have an easier path in 2010 than in 2008.

CA-36: Los Angeles City Councilor Janice Hahn has been telling supporters that she’s interested in running for Rep. Jane Harman’s seat. She doesn’t seem to be thinking primary, though; Hahn, for some reason, believes Harman (still under a bit of a cloud from the wiretap incident) is up for appointment to something, maybe Ambassador to Israel, in the Obama administration.

FL-12: State Sen. Paula Dockery made clear that she won’t be running in the 12th; she endorsed former State Rep. Dennis Ross for the job. She seemed to leave the door open to the Governor’s race, saying in her statement that “my passion for public policy is in state government.”

IL-07: With Rep. Danny Davis looking to move over to the Presidency of the Cook County Board, Chicago-area Dems are already eyeing the super-safe open seat. Davis’s former chief of staff Richard Boykin (now a lobbyist for Cook County) seems to be the first to make his interest publicly known.

NH-01 (pdf): Manchester mayor (and NH-01 candidate) Frank Guinta is due for the Bad Samaritan Award, as he watched several of his friends (an alderman and a state Representative) beat up another acquaintance in a barroom brawl, ending with the man’s leg being broken in seven places, and then immediately left the scene without reporting it to the police. Guinta said he was unaware of the extent of the man’s injuries and contacted police at that point. No charges have been filed in the incident; still, not the kind of free publicity a political candidate likes to get.

NY-03, NY-Sen-B: Rep. Peter King is sounding even iffier than before about running for Senate against Kirsten Gillibrand, having scored a desired slot on the Intelligence Committee.

NY-23: Investment banker Matthew Doheny anted up with a lot of cash to jump into the Republican side of the race to replace Rep. John McHugh: $500,000 of his own money. Roll Call reports that he’ll need the ostentatious display of cash to get anywhere in the candidate-picking process, as Assemblypersons Dede Scozzafava and Will Barclay are both reaching out behind the scenes to party leaders.

Redistricting: Regardless of what nonsense happens in the New York Senate this session, it’s looking more and more like the GOP’s toehold on legislative power will be vanquished in post-2010 redistricting, regardless of who controls the legislative redistricting process. Because of growth in the city and declines upstate, 1.2 seats will need to be shifted from downstate to NYC (and, as an added bonus, an extra one-sixth of a seat will shift to the city if the Census Bureau goes ahead and starts counting prisoners according to where they’re actually from rather than where they’re incarcerated).

Fusion Voting: Here’s one way in which Oregon suddenly became a lot more like New York: the state legislature decided to allow “fusion voting,” in which a candidate can run on multiple party lines on one ballot. This will be a boost to minor parties in Oregon, by letting them form coalitions with the major parties instead of simply playing spoiler.

Fundraising: It’s June 30, and you know what that means… it’s the end of the 2nd fundraising quarter. If you want to give some momentum to your favored candidates, today’s the last day to do it.

SSP Daily Digest: 6/16 II: Electric Boogaloo

MO-Sen: In an e-mail to local TV affiliate KY3, former Treasurer Sarah Steelman seems to be walking back her comments to the Hill yesterday, not wanting to appear to shut the door on a GOP primary bid against Rep. Roy Blunt. She says she’s still “very seriously considering” it.

PA-Sen: Here’s an interesting development: a state legislator in Pennsylvania has introduced a bill to switch Pennyslvania from closed to open primaries. This seems like a nakedly pro-Specter bill: it would have helped him survive his GOP primary against Pat Toomey, and now it would have the opposite effect, helping him survive a Democratic primary against Joe Sestak by opening the door to independents and moderate Republicans.

AK-AL: Unless the indictment fairy has a present for him soon, Rep. Don Young looks to have a much easier go of it in 2010 than last cycle. Not only is his Dem challenger ex-state House minority leader Ethan Berkowitz likely to run for governor instead, but now it sounds like his primary opponents, Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell and ex-state Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, aren’t going to run again either. Unlike last time, Parnell would need to give up his LG job to run, and he may instead be running for Governor if Sarah Palin declines to run again. Businessman Andrew Halcro, who ran for Governor as an independent in 2006, also sounds likely to run for Governor rather than challenge Young. State Senator Hollis French, who sounded like a likely Governor candidate for the Dems until Berkowitz showed up, may be the Dems’ best bet.

AL-07: The field to replace Artur Davis got bigger, as Jefferson Co. Councilor Shelia Smoot officially launched her campaign. She joins lawyer Terri Sewell, state Rep. Earl Hilliard Jr., and former Selma mayor James Perkins in the primary (which is the only real race in this D+18 district).

CA-11: Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf turned down the chance to run as a Republican in the upcoming CA-10 special election, but that seemed to ignite his interest, as now he’s considering running in 2010 in next-door CA-11 against sophomore Rep. Jerry McNerney, at R+1 a more plausible race than the D+11 CA-10.

FL-08: Republican state Representative Steve Precourt is considering making the race against Rep. Alan Grayson in this R+2 Orlando-area seat. His strongest words seemed to be reserved for likely primary opponent Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty, who Precourt doesn’t see as a “fresh face” or viable, although Precourt said he’d stand down if former state Sen. Daniel Webster got in.

ID-01: The Republican field in ID-01 is filling up, as state House majority leader Ken Roberts announced he’s in. He’ll have to get past veteran and McCain ally Vaughn Ward before facing off against Rep. Walt Minnick, though. Ex-Rep. Bill Sali occasionally makes threatening noises about a rematch, but he hasn’t said anything definite.

NH-02: Former state Rep. Bob Giuda (not to be confused with Frank Guinta, running in NH-01) is the first GOPer to launch an exploratory committee in the race to fill Rep. Paul Hodes’ open seat. He may still be joined by the 2008 candidate, Jennifer Horn, and, more remotely, a return by ex-Rep. Charlie Bass.

NY-23: Douglas Hoffman, the head of a local accounting firm, has thrown his hat into the GOP nomination contest for the special election to replace Rep. John McHugh. Republicans also announced their schedule for picking a nominee, involving four regional meetings around the districts where candidates would speak to the Republican county committee members over a two- to four-week period once there’s an official vacancy.

PA-03: Freshman Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, representing the swingy R+3 district based in Erie (won by John McCain by 62 votes), has managed to secure a hot ticket in view of its self-imposed membership cap: she joined the Blue Dog Coalition.

Redistricting: A petition drive is underway in Florida to get an initiative on the ballot for 2010 that, while not creating an independent redistricting campaign, would at least place some non-partisan limitations on the creation of House and legislative districts. Most of the money behind the petition drive is coming from Democrats, but two prominent Democrats aren’t on board with the drive: Reps. Alcee Hastings and Corrine Brown, both of whom stand to inherit more difficult districts if they’re made less convoluted.

SSP Daily Digest: 6/12

MO-Sen: I’m not sure if Roy Blunt’s task just got easier or harder. Tom Schweich, a law professor and former ambassador, who started exploring the Missouri Senate race and landed some surprisingly hard blows on Blunt, yesterday decided not to run and instead endorsed Blunt. Schweich was a friend of moderate ex-Sen. John Danforth and was understood to be something of a Danforth proxy in the race. So Blunt should be happy to be free of that challenge, right? No, because he’s still likely to face a challenge from former Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who hasn’t formally announced her candidacy but has been stepping up her attacks on Blunt as an unprincipled insider. Without Schweich in there splitting the outsider anti-Blunt vote, Steelman becomes more viable.

FL-Sen: Here’s an endorsement from a key player for Rep. Kendrick Meek: he was endorsed by Miami mayor Manny Diaz, who’s recently been associated with possibly running in FL-25 or for Lt. Gov. next year. Another interesting Meek tidbit that just came out: Meek has gotten more tobacco industry money than anyone else in the 2010 election cycle (more than, say, Jim Bunning or Richard Burr). Meek has close ties with the Tampa-based cigarmaking industry.

OH-Gov: What’s that? An endorsement from a puny mortal like Manny Diaz? Screw that, because John Kasich just got an endorsement from Chuck Norris. (Which is odd, because I thought the fact was that Chuck Norris didn’t endorse politicians; politicians endorse Chuck Norris.) Ted Strickland was reportedly last seen running in terror on the shoulder of I-70, trying to get out of Ohio before sunset.

CA-03: A second credible Dem has gotten into the race against the newly-vulnerable Rep. Dan Lungren in this R+6 district in the Sacramento suburbs. Bill Slaton, director of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (and overseer of the electrial grid for 1.5 million people), filed to enter the race, joining confusingly-named fellow Dem (and Elk Grove city councilor) Gary Davis.

CT-04: The GOP has landed an interesting challenger to go against freshman Rep. Jim Himes: 24-year-old Will Gregory, a “young, fiscally conservative, socially moderate Republican” activist who applied for a White House job during the Bush administration and, when asked to name two administration policies he agreed with, couldn’t provide an answer. State Senate minority leader John McKinney also seems likely to get in the race for the GOP and would bring a bit more, um, gravitas.

NY-29: Tom Reed, the mayor of Corning, New York, announced that he won’t run for a second turn but that he was looking at another public service opportunity that he couldn’t be specific about, but that sounded suspiciously like running in the 29th against freshman Rep. Eric Massa.

FL-Ag. Comm.: Ordinarily even we at SSP wouldn’t get so far down into the weeds as to post results of a poll of the GOP primary for the Florida Agriculture Commission race, but the results are too unbelievable to pass up… unbelievably funny, that is. The idea that the guy who used to be #3 on the House leadership ladder would try to demote himself to Florida Agriculture Commissioner is odd enough, but Rep. Adam Putnam is trailing a state Senator, Carey Baker, 26-17, in that race.

NY-St. Senate: As everyone sits and waits to see whether state Senator Hiram Monserrate should stay or go (he’s vacillating on his coup participation, meaning the whole thing turns on him now), two interesting new developments. One is that the coup may lead to ouster of Dem leader Malcolm Smith and his replacement with John Sampson, who apparently has a better relationship with the dissidents. Also, there’s buzz (though nothing confirmed) that Barack Obama himself has been on the phone with not just Monserrate and Pedro Espada, trying to get them back into the fold, but also with Darrel Aubertine (although it’s unclear whether Obama would encourage Aubertine to stay in the Senate as the Dems try to get their narrow edge back or to get into the NY-23 race that Obama opened up for him by promoting John McHugh).

SSP Daily Digest: 6/10

HI-Gov: Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann looks like he’ll be running against Rep. Neil Abercrombie for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination; he launched an exploratory committee yesterday. Hannemann and Abercrombie actually faced off once before; Hannemann defeated Abercrombie in the 1986 primary for HI-01 (but lost the general to GOPer Pat Saiki). Either one would seem to have an edge over Republican Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona in the general, based on the state’s lean, although Aiona’s fundraising has been impressive so far.

NJ-Gov: Quinnipiac may be finding a bit of a post-primary bounce for Republican challenger Chris Christie; he leads Jon Corzine 50-40 in their newest poll. (Last month was 45-38 for Christie, although this poll is a switch from registered voters to likely voters.) Corzine’s favorables are his worst-ever at 35-53; Christie’s are 36-16, but with 46% “haven’t heard enough,” allowing some room for Corzine to define him if he hits hard with his new ad blitz.

NY-Gov: How’s this for an unsurprising headline: “Poll Finds Paterson Deeply Unpopular.” The NYT polled Paterson’s favorables (no head-to-heads, though) and found that Paterson has an approval of 21%, compared to a finding of 26% approval of ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer in the same poll.

MN-Gov: CQ comes the closest I’ve seen to consolidating the name of every single person planning to run for Minnesota governor in one place. I count 10 Democrats and 11 Republicans, which I won’t bother trying to reproduce here.

IN-08: Rep. Brad Ellsworth finally has a Republican opponent, auto worker Dan Stockton. Stockton hasn’t held office, but he is active in community theater and “heavily involved in motorcycle rights.” Well, I’m glad someone is willing to take a courageous stand for those oppressed motorcycles.

MD-01: State Sen. Andy Harris may not get a clear path to the GOP nomination in his rematch with Rep. Frank Kratovil. State Sen. E.J. Pipkin is considering a face off with Harris again in the primary. (Pipkin finished third in the 2008 primary, getting 20% of the vote to 43 for Harris and 33 for then-Rep. Wayne Gilchrest. In fact, Pipkin may have thrown the election to BaltCo resident Harris, by vacuuming up more conservative votes on the Eastern Shore that may have otherwise gone to Gilchrest on the basis of geography.) Pipkin has the advantage of self-funding; he spent $2 million of his own money en route to racking up 34% against Sen. Barb Mikulski in 2004. While Pipkin isn’t as conservative as Club for Growth favorite Harris, he isn’t as moderate as Gilchrest. Other Republicans interested in the primary include Anne Arundel County Exec John Leopold and former state House minority leader Al Redmer.

NH-02: The field to replace Rep. Paul Hodes got a third Dem contestant: former state Senator Mark Fernald got into the race yesterday. Fernald may retain a bit of name rec from his 2002 loss in the governor’s race (he lost to Craig Benson, who then lost in 2004 to John Lynch).

NY-23: One GOPer is already launching his “campaign” for the nomination to replace John McHugh (in the sense that he’s publicly saying that he’s going around and talking to the right kingmakers on all the county party committees). It’s a guy who wasn’t on anybody’s list: Franklin County legislator Paul Maroun, whose day job is counsel to state Senator Betty Little (who doesn’t sound likely to run, especially since she lives in NY-20).

Census: We’re less than a year away from the 2010 Census, and we’re still short a Census director, as the GOP has put a mystery hold on Obama’s nominee for the job, Robert Groves. The Census is also facing an appropriations fight in coming weeks, as it requested a 135% increase in funding for next year (seeing as how 2010 is the year when it does most of its work, but try explaining that to a Republican). A leaderless, underfunded Census isn’t likely to put together an accurate count, and an inaccurate count is likely to undercount traditionally Democratic harder-to-count groups.

DC Voting Rights: The bill to give the District of Columbia a fully functioning representative in the U.S. House (and give an extra seat to Utah, increasing the size of the House to 437 and the Electoral College to 539) seems to be stalled for now, according to Steny Hoyer. Nobody seems to know how to get around the GOP-added poison pill attached to it that will strip DC’s gun laws, so it’s just going to sit.

SSP Daily Digest: 6/9

FL-Gov: Quinnipiac is out with a new poll of the Florida gubernatorial race, and it gives Democrat Alex Sink a very early 38-34 edge against Republican AG Bill McCollum. Although this is the first poll where we’ve seen Sink leading, we have plenty of mileage to burn through before these polls begin to get interesting. (J)

NY-Sen-B: Carolyn Maloney released an internal poll showing her with a not-worth-writing-home-about 34-32 “lead” over incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand. Surprise, surprise: After some message-testing business, Maloney shoots up to 49-25. The poll presentation has some pretty harsh words for Gillibrand… is Maloney really drinking her own kool-aid? (D)

NC-Sen: Elaine Marshall, North Carolina’s Secretary of State, sounds almost enthused at the idea of running against Richard Burr in a recent interview with the Dunn Daily Record. Saying it’s a challenge that she “thinks I’m up to”, Marshall says that she’ll give the race more consideration once the current legislative session ends. (J)

PA-Sen: There have been toplines for a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll (taken for a labor 527) of the Pennsylvania Senate race floating around the interwebs for a few weeks, but Open Left snagged a copy of the whole memo. Highlights include Arlen Specter over Joe Sestak in the primary by a 55-34 margin. Specter leads a Generic Dem 50-37, and leads Sestak 50-42 after message-testing mumbo-jumbo, giving Sestak some room to grow. The poll also notes that almost one half of the Dem electorate is union households, making Specter’s vote on EFCA that much more paramount.

FL-24: First-term Democratic Rep. Suzanne Kosmas has her first GOP challenger: Winter Park City Commissioner Karen Diebel. A bare bones website hypes Diebel’s “proven conservative leadership”. (J)

NY-23: New York Independence Party Chair Frank MacKay says that his party will endorse Democratic state Sen. Darrel Aubertine if he chooses to run for the open seat of outgoing GOP Rep. John McHugh. (J)

SC-01: In an email to her supporters, ’08 candidate Linda Ketner says that she won’t seek a rematch against GOP crumb-bum Henry Brown next year. She informed two potential Brown challengers of her decision: Leon Stavrinakis, a state Representative from Charleston, and Robert Burton, a former member of the Board of Commissioners of the SC State Housing Finance and Development Authority. (J)

NRCC/NRSC: A big fundraising haul for last night’s joint fundraising dinner for the NRSC and NRCC, headlined by Newt Gingrich: $14.45 million, split between the two committees. As Politico observes, though, it was a flop from a messaging standpoint, as anything substantive that might have been said was overshadowed by the will-she-won’t-she drama concerning Sarah Palin’s appearance (she made a cameo after all, but didn’t speak). UPDATE (David): It’s worth noting that this was actually the smallest take in five years for this dinner.

NYC-Mayor: Bloombo’s re-elects stand at just 40-55 in a new New York Times/NY1/Cornell University poll. In June of 2005, he was at 48-44. However, his putative opponent, Comptroller Bill Thompson, clocks in with a microscopic 13-2 approval rating. Bloombleberry’s been plastering the airwaves with ads for months, but it just doesn’t feel like Thompson has really engaged this race at all. (D)

AL-St. Senate: The Virginia primary is tonight’s main course, but there’s an tasty side dish in Alabama: a special election to fill the state Senate vacancy left behind by now-Rep. Parker Griffith in the 7th District, centered on Huntsville. Democratic state Rep. Laura Hall is considered to have a bit of an edge over GOP businessman Paul Sanford.

ME-Legislature: Here’s something you don’t see everyday: the Maine House of Representatives endorsed abolishing itself (and the state Senate), and joining Nebraska in the land of the unicameral legislature, mostly in order to save money on overhead. When it comes up for a final vote, it’ll need to pass by a 2/3s measure, though, and there weren’t enough votes in the House for that, so this may not actually ever happen.

NJ-Assembly: Newsroom New Jersey takes a quick look at where the hot races for control of the New Jersey Assembly will be in Nov. 2009. The greatest volatility seems to be on the Jersey Shore, as both parties are looking there (in the 1st and 2nd districts) for the likeliest flips. Dems currently hold the Assembly by a sizable 48-32 edge.

Redistricting: OMGz! Did you know that there are sites on the series of tubes where new technology lets average political junkies get involved in the redistricting process? Rep. Lynn Westmoreland just found out about this worrisome new trend.

NY-23: Obama to Name McHugh Secretary of the Army

Whoa mama joe:

Representative John M. McHugh, a Republican congressman from New York, will be nominated by President Obama to be secretary of the Army, according to officials….

Mr. Obama formally offered the Pentagon position to the lawmaker on Monday afternoon, and his nomination is expected to be announced later on Tuesday, officials said. …

The nine-term House member, who represents a sprawling northern New York district that includes the Fort Drum Army base, is the senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee and has a solid reputation with members of both parties for his knowledge of military affairs. He also serves on the Board of Visitors for the United States Military Academy at West Point.

This is obviously huge news for open seat fans, as this R+1 district went for Obama by 52-47 last year. A resignation would prompt another special election. As you may recall from the recent NY-20 special, there is no fixed timetable for Gov. Paterson to actuall call a new election, so the date is up in the air.

As for possible candidates, Chris Cillizza gets the ball rolling:

The list of potential candidates for the McHugh opening is in its infant stages. State Sen. Darrel Aubertine, who won a special election in a district that covers much of the western half of the 23rd in February 2008, could be an attractive candidate for Democrats. Some Republican insiders have already begun to tout Robert Taub, McHugh’s chief of staff, as a potential candidate.

Politics on the Hudson offers a couple more:

On the Republican side, Assemblywoman Diedre Scozzafava was mentioned, as well as Assemblyman Will Barclay, who lost to Aubertine in the special election in 2008.

Any other names coming to mind? (More here from HC Liberal.)