SSP Daily Digest: 8/6

CT-Sen: Political expediency makes you do weird things. Shortly after ultra-conservative Pat Tooomey, facing minor opposition in the Pennsylvania GOP primary but having to remodel himself for the general, came out in support of Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination, now moderate Rob Simmons, facing serious opposition from the right in the Connecticut GOP primary, has come out against Sotomayor.

IL-Sen: A poll from Democratic firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (no mention on whose behalf the poll was taken) finds that state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias should have little trouble gaining the Democratic nomination for the Senate race. In a 3-way matchup, he gets 45% of the vote, with businessman Chris Kennedy at 17% and Chicago Urban League president Cheryle Jackson at 13%. However, Kennedy seems to be backing down from the race and may instead run for Governor if he runs for anything; a 2-way matchup between Giannoulias and Jackson gives Giannoulias a 51-21 edge.

KY-Sen: Rand Paul, opthalmologist and son of former Presidential candidate Ron Paul, officially kicked off his race for the GOP Senate nomination. And here’s an interesting choice: he’s making the kickoff announcement in New York City, saying that it’s a national race and that, according to a spokesperson, “If he makes it to the Senate and votes in D.C., he’ll vote for people in New York and in California. His vote matters that much.” Yeah… I’m sure that’ll play really well among the actual people in Kentucky, that their Senator will be voting on behalf of New Yorkers and Californians.

NH-Sen: After a lot of criticism on the ground in New Hampshire, especially from the editorial page of the influential (among right-wingers) Manchester Union-Leader, John Cornyn is backing down from plans to coronate Kelly Ayotte with an NRSC fundraiser in DC in September, and said that the planned fundraiser hadn’t been an endorsement. Dean at Blue Hampshire wonders when the NRSC Ovide Lamontagne fundraiser will be.

NY-Gov: While the general sense is that behind-the-scenes power brokers are giving David Paterson a little more time to turn the polls around before trying to usher him out the door, 11 labor leaders in Buffalo aren’t waiting. They sent a letter to Andrew Cuomo — whose official story is that he’s running for re-election as AG, but whose private interest is well-known — urging him to run and, while not guaranteeing him their endorsement, saying they look forward to him running.

SC-Gov: It looks like Democrats may have landed a top-tier candidate for the 2010 gubernatorial race: state superintendent of education Jim Rex, SC’s only statewide elected Democrat. Few had expected the 67-year-old Rex to get into the field (which already contains state Sens. Vincent Shaheen and Robert Ford and attorney Mullins McLeod), based on his fundraising so far. But, he may have sensed an opening, despite South Carolina’s red hue, in the wake of Mark Sanford’s implosion (and the way it laid bare a lot of people’s concerns with his possible general election opponent, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer). Rex has formed an exploratory committee to start raising funds for a gubernatorial bid, and says he’ll make a final decision on the race “by early September”.

CA-10: The GOP added one more Young Gun this week (as an “On the Radar” pick, which I assume is analogous to R2B’s “Emerging” picks last year): attorney David Harmer, the guy who’s running for the Republicans in September’s special election. At D+11, I’m not sure what I can add, other than “good luck with that.”

CA-47: Speaking of Young Guns, Assemblyman Van Tran, who’s running against Loretta Sanchez in this Latino-majority D+4 district, was a surprise inclusion in the program (well, maybe not that surprising, since he’s been fundraising well in the larger Vietnamese community). However, his primary opponent, Quang Pham, isn’t daunted, and has now set a $250K goal of his own for the end of next quarter; he’ll be including some of his own funds toward that goal.

FL-24: Former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz, who now lives in the Orlando area, confirmed that he won’t run as a Republican for the 24th next year. Reports came out yesterday that he’d talked to the NRCC about a run. Three Republicans, including two termed-out state Reps, are already in the race against Dem freshman Suzanne Kosmas in this R+4 district.

IL-10: Another Republican may get into the race to replace Rep. Mark Kirk: businesswoman Renee Thaler, a former official in ex-Gov. Jim Edgar’s administration, formed an exploratory committee. State Rep. Beth Coulson is the only elected GOPer interested in the race, along with businessman Dick Green and attorneys Jim Koch and Bill Cadigan.

NH-02: The Democratic field in the open seat race in the 2nd got smaller, though; former state Sen. and gubernatorial candidate Mark Fernald dropped out the race, citing family reasons. Attorney Ann McLane Kuster is the only candidate officially in the race, although party insider Katrina Swett is expected by all to get in soon.

PA-06: The primary fight is on, for the GOP, in the open seat race in PA-06. Chester County Recorder of Deeds Ryan Costello entered the race; he’ll face off against state Rep. Curt Schroder, who has already been preparing for the race for many months. Democratic candidate Doug Pike is still unopposed, at least for now.

Where Are They Now?: On their way to prison, that’s where. Former Rep. Bill Jefferson was convicted on 11 of 16 counts, including a RICO charge which carries a possible 20-year sentence. (Thanks to Joe Cao for hustling Jefferson out the door before he could be convicted while still a sitting Democratic Representative, saving us some bad PR.) Also, in yesterday’s comments, Fitzy has a hilarious and must-read timeline of the slow decline of Sharon Renier, our 04 and 06 candidate in MI-07, who, in the wake of her primary loss in a recent state Senate special election, has quite literally gone off the reservation.

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.