WI-Gov: Total Tossup

PPP (pdf) (11/20-22, likely voters):

Tom Barrett (D): 46

Tommy Thompson (R): 41

Undecided: 13

Tom Barrett (D): 40

Scott Walker (R): 40

Undecided: 20

Tom Barrett (D): 41

Mark Neumann (R): 39

Undecided: 20

(MoE: ±3.5%)

PPP takes its first look at Wisconsin’s governor’s race since the retirement of incumbent Dem Jim Doyle, the entry and then exit of Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, and now the candidacy of ex-Rep., current Milwaukee mayor, and 2002 gubernatorial primary loser Tom Barrett. (They did previously poll on Doyle, finding him losing to two Republicans.) They find close races for Barrett against both Republicans who are definitely in the race, Milwaukee Co. Exec Scott Walker and long-ago ex-Rep. Mark Neumann (with the slightly less conservative Walker performing only slightly better, even though Walker’s 30/25 favorables certainly beat Neumann’s 16/27 — Barrett, meanwhile, is at 31/21). The only previous poll that has tested a Barrett in a general election matchup was a Walker internal, which posted similar numbers: a late August poll giving Walker a 44-43 lead.

The fear for many Dems was that once-popular ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson might take a cue from Iowa’s Terry Branstad and make a play for a fifth term. Between this and his Senate poll numbers from this same sample, though, it looks like he might want to start thinking harder about that mayoral job in Elroy instead. Thompson underperforms the other two Republicans; that, plus his 38/45 favorables, suggest there may be some element of “been there, done that” to his potential candidacy.

RaceTracker Wiki: WI-Gov

SSP Daily Digest: 11/5

FL-Sen: It looks like the Club for Growth has decided to weigh in on the Florida Senate primary, and they’re doing so with a vengeance, with a TV spot going after Charlie Crist’s embrace of the Obama stimulus package. Crist himself has been trying for the last few days to walk back his stimulus support — despite statements on the record from February saying that if he’d been in the Senate, he’d have voted for it. Crist now says he wasn’t “endorsing” it and just playing along so Florida would get a good share of the bennies. (I’m sorry, but my 5-year-old comes up with more convincing excuses than that.)

NY-Sen-B: Former Gov. George Pataki is reportedly telling friends he’s not that interested in becoming Senator at age 64, and has his eye set a little higher: a presidential race in 2012. The idea of the wooden, moderate Pataki going up against Huckabee and Palin seems a little far-fetched, but a clue in support of that idea is that Pataki joined the Romneys and T-Paws of the world in calling new Manchester, New Hampshire mayor Ted Gatsas to congratulate him. (In case you aren’t connecting the dots, Manchester’s mayor has an outsized influence on NH’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary.)

AZ-Gov: Appointed incumbent Republican Governor Jan Brewer says she’ll run for a full term in 2010. She already faces several minor primary opponents, and may face off against state Treasurer Dean Martin. Her likely Democratic opponent, AG Terry Goddard, who has had a significant lead over Brewer in recent polls, has to be feeling good about this.

CA-Gov: Capitol Weekly, via Probolsky Research, takes another look at the primaries in the California gubernatorial race, and find free-spending ex-eBay CEO Meg Whitman opening up a lead on her opponents. Whitman leads with 37, against ex-Rep. Tom Cambell at 15 and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner at 6. (Their previous poll, in June, gave a small lead to Campbell at 13, with 10 for Whitman and 8 for Poizner.) On the Dem side, ex-Gov. Jerry Brown led SF Mayor Gavin Newsom 46-19; the sample was completed shortly before Newsom’s dropout last Friday.

MD-Gov: A poll of the Maryland governor’s race from Clarus Research has a mixed bag for incumbent Dem Martin O’Malley. He defeats ex-Gov. Bob Ehrlich without too much trouble in a head-to-head, 47-40, and he has decent approvals at 48/40. Still, on the re-elect question, 39% want to see him re-elected and 48% would like someone new. That would potentially present an opportunity for the Maryland GOP — if they had someone better than Ehrlich to offer, but he’s really the best they have. (By contrast, Barb Mikulski, who’s also up in 2010, has a 53/36 re-elect.)

OR-Gov: Moderate Republican state Sen. Frank Morse — who, without Rep. Greg Walden or state Sen. Jason Atkinson in the race, might actually have been the GOP’s best bet — said no thanks to a gubernatorial race despite some previous interest; he’ll run for re-election in 2010. Former Portland Trail Blazers center Chris Dudley has formed an exploratory committee to run in the Republican field, though.

PA-Gov: Here’s an interesting development in the GOP primary field in Pennsylvania: a very conservative state Rep., Sam Rohrer, is scoping out the race and has formed an exploratory committee. Rohrer isn’t well-known outside of conservative activist circles and his Berks County base, but against the moderate Rep. Jim Gerlach and the generally-conservative but ill-defined AG Tom Corbett, he seems like he could peel off a decent chunk of votes on the far right.

VT-Gov: Add two more Democratic names to the lengthening list in the governor’s race in Vermont. Former state Senator Matt Dunne officially got in the race, and another state Senator, Peter Shumlin, is planning to announce his bid in several weeks. Dunne lost the Lt. Governor’s race in 2006 to current Republican LG Brian Dubie, who is the only declared Republican candidate to replace retiring Gov. Jim Douglas.

WI-Gov: Rumors keep flying of the Obama administration leaning on ex-Rep. and Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett to run for Wisconsin governor. WH political director Tom Patrick Gaspard met with Barrett. With Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton having recently and surprisingly dropped her bid, Barrett has a free shot if he wants it.

AZ-03: Dems seem close to pinning down a candidate to run against Rep. John Shadegg in the Phoenix-based 3rd. Lawyer, businessman, would-be-novelist, and former Gary Hart staffer Jon Hulburd is prepping for the race.

FL-05: The blood is already flowing down Republican streets in the wake of the NY-23 debacle, even a thousand miles away. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, hardly the first name that comes to mind when you think of moderate Republicans (although she is a Main Street member), is now being challenged by a political newcomer in the GOP primary, Jason Sager. One of Sager’s key talking points is Brown-Waite’s support of Dede Scozzafava, on whose behalf Brown-Waite campaigned last week. And more generally, RNC chair Michael Steele (who one week ago was supporting Scozzafava) is flexing his muscles, telling moderates to “walk a little bit carefully” on health care or “we’ll come after you.”

FL-08: The NRCC has found a couple willing patsies to go up against Rep. Alan Grayson, whom they’ve been interviewing this week. The two contenders are businessman Bruce O’Donoghue (who owns a traffic-signal business… odd, but I guess somebody has to make them) and first-term state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle. (Carpetbagging real estate developer Armando Gutierrez Jr., radio talk show host Todd Long, who nearly beat then-Rep. Ric Keller in last year’s GOP primary, and three anonymous teabaggers are all in the race, but clearly not striking the NRCC’s fancy.) Attorney Will McBride (whose name you might remember from 2006, when he ran in the GOP primary against Katherine Harris) also talked with the NRCC this week, but just pulled his name from contention today.

MN-01: Another potential challenger to Rep. Tim Walz popped up: former state Rep. Allen Quist. Quist, who ran in gubernatorial primaries twice in the 1990s, is from the state party’s right wing and is a key Michele Bachmann ally (his wife used to Bachmann’s district director). Republican Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau has also been interested in the race.

MS-01: After all that work to clear the path for state Sen. Alan Nunnelee in the GOP primary in the 1st, the Republicans may still see a contested primary. Former Eupora mayor Henry Ross is seriously considering the race, and making preparations. This may not result in a pitched rural vs. suburbs battle like the previous primary, though; Eupora (pop. 2,400) is near the district’s southern end, near Columbus. Nunnelee is from the Tupelo area, which is also Democratic Rep. Travis Childers’ base.

NH-02: Katrina Swett has been slow to get into the field in the Democratic primary for the open seat in the 2nd, letting Anne McLane Kuster raise more than $200K unimpeded and secure the EMILY’s List endorsement. Swett may be ready to make a move, though, as she’s been touting a GQR internal poll giving her a 20-point lead in the primary over Kuster. (The actual polling memo hasn’t been released, though, as far as I know.)

NY-23: Doug Hoffman already has a key House leadership backer for a 2010 race: Indiana’s Mike Pence endorsed Hoffman.

PA-06: Looks like we have a real race in the Dem primary in the 6th. State Sen. Andy Dinniman, one of the biggest fish in the district and someone who had considered running himself, endorsed physician Manan Trivedi instead of presumed frontrunner Doug Pike. One advantage that Dinniman sees is that Trivedi hails from Reading in Berks County, the part of the district where Dems have traditionally been the weakest.

Turnout: If you’re wondering what the crux of what happened on Tuesday is, it boils down to terrible turnout. (And it’s pretty clear that higher turnout benefits Democrats, as younger and/or non-white voters who tend to be less likely voters are more likely to vote Democratic.) In Virginia (where the outcome seemed clear long ago), turnout was the lowest in 40 years, including a 10% falloff in key black precincts. And in New Jersey, turnout was also a record low for the state, even though the race was a tossup — indicating a lack of enthusiasm for either candidate. If you want to dig into exit polls for a post-mortem, the New York Times has them available for New York, New Jersey, and Virginia.

2010: The White House (or at least David Axelrod) wants to nationalize the 2010 elections, as a means of fixing the Dems’ turnout problems from this week. Expect to see Obama front and center in the run-up to next year’s elections.

Illinois Filings: With Illinois’s first-in-the-nation filing deadline for 2010 having passed, as usual, our filings guru Benawu is on the scene with a recap in the diaries; check it out.

WI-Gov: Lawton Won’t Run, Will Barrett?

The rumors over the weekend suggested that the White House was exerting behind-the-scenes pressure on Milwaukee mayor and ex-Rep. Tom Barrett to run for Governor, thinking he has the best chance of holding the state for the Democrats, compared with underfunded and not-well-known Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, the only Dem in the open seat race. (Reportedly, the pressure via Obama originated with current Gov. Jim Doyle, although Russ Feingold has reportedly also encouraged Barrett.)

Apparently, there must be some truth to all those rumors, because, one day later, Lawton seems to have gotten the message, announcing today:

My deep commitment to our state is second only to my commitment to my family. For very personal reasons, I will not pursue the Democratic nomination for governor in 2010.

The Journal-Sentinel article from yesterday that discussed the rumors said that Barrett’s in no hurry to decide, though, saying he may wait as late as February to make a decision. However, with both Lawton and Rep. Ron Kind out, though, it looks like Barrett may be ready to step into the vacuum right away — although if he doesn’t, that would leave Democrats in the serious lurch. Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan today says that he’d “love” to see Barrett get in the race, but isn’t ruling out running himself.

RaceTracker: WI-Gov

NV-Sen, WI-Gov: Porter, Kind Not Running

There’s one common thread today between the Nevada Senate race and the Wisconsin gubernatorial race: two prominent would-be contenders confirmed that they aren’t running.

In Nevada, the news earlier this week that ex-Rep. Jon Porter (who was defeated by Dina Titus in 2008 and is currently a “policy adviser” with a K St. lobbying firm) was once again considering running against Harry Reid was a cause for some alarm. Porter has probably the highest profile of any potential candidate, and a fairly moderate reputation capable of appealing to swing voters, unlike most of the third-tier liliputians threatening to overwhelm Reid. However, it looks like it was never more than a trial balloon:

Squelching rumors that he’s reconsidering a Senate campaign against Harry Reid, former GOP congressman Jon Porter definitively said Wednesday night that he’s not running.

“I am not running,” Porter told Nevada political guru Jon Ralston, as he reported on his Flash blog tonight.

Meanwhile, over in Wisconsin, Rep. Ron Kind was rumored to be very interested in the open seat governor’s race, left vacant by Jim Doyle’s decision not to seek a third term. However, Kind will announce today that he will run for re-election in WI-03 instead.

That may be for the best, as the GOP fielded a fairly strong candidate, state Sen. Dan Kapanke, probably on the belief that the 3rd would be an open seat; having Kind in the race will make this a much easier hold. And the ambitious Kind is in his early 40s, so he’ll still have plenty of shots at a promotion. Without a statewide profile, Kind may not have liked his odds at getting out of the primary; Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton is already in the Dem field, plus ex-Rep. and current Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett may get in and, if a recent Republican internal poll is to be believed, would have the inside track on the nomination.

RaceTracker: NV-Sen | WI-Gov

SSP Daily Digest: 8/26

FL-Sen: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen says she won’t endorse in the GOP Senate primary or in the general election, out of deference to Kendrick Meek. Says IRL: “Kendrick was a gentleman and I’m a lady back to him,” because he didn’t lift a finger to help Annette Taddeo last year, “despite all the nasty bloggers egging him on.” Next time, we’ll just have to egg harder. (D)

Meanwhile, in the contest purely in Charlie Crist‘s mind over who to appoint to replace Mel Martinez, Crist will reportedly name someone by week’s end from his not-so-short list of eight or so names.

OR-Sen: John Frohnmayer, the former head of the National Endowment for the Arts under Bush I, was reportedly considering a bid for the Senate against Ron Wyden, but has now decided against it. (You may remember Frohnmayer had tried running as an Indie in the 2006 Smith/Merkley Senate race, but decided against that too.) Interestingly, the story makes it completely unclear whether he was planning to run as a Democrat or an Independent (probably not as a Republican, despite that he’s from one of the state’s brand-name GOP families, considering that the once-dominant moderates have been routed from the state party), but it sounded like he’d be going after the usually-liberal Wyden from the left, as he’d been reaching out to Democratic activists upset over Wyden’s foot-dragging on health care reform. No GOPer has stepped forward to take on Wyden from the right.

NJ-Gov: One more wheel popped off the suddenly overloaded Chris Christie bus: the woman who allegedly received the undisclosed loan from Christie while working for him has resigned. Michele Brown was the acting first assistant U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, but she quit yesterday, saying she didn’t want to be a distraction for the campaign.

NY-Gov: Politico’s Alex Isenstadt offers a rebuttal to the NYT’s speculations that Rudy Giuliani is prepping for a gubernatorial run. Close associates say that while he’s not saying no, he isn’t fundraising either, and that his bids for attention may have more to do with paying down campaign debts from his epic presidential fail.

SC-Gov: Two Republican state Reps, Nathan Ballentine (known as a Mark Sanford ally) and Gerry Simrill met privately with Sanford to let him know that if he doesn’t step down, the GOP-held legislature will impeach him. (Sanford told them he’s staying.) Also, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer publicly called for Sanford to resign today (and, by the way, give him his job). Bauer said he’d drop his 2010 gubernatorial bid if he were to become governor, though.

TX-Gov: It looks like there’ll be an alternative to Bush-backer Tom Schieffer and weirdo self-promoter Kinky Friedman in the Democratic primary after all: Hank Gilbert, a cattle rancher who lost the 2006 Agriculture Commissioner race (although he did do the best of any Dem statewide candidate that year), says he’ll run. Burnt Orange Report sounds very pleased. Meanwhile, Kay Bailey Hutchison faced down a truckload of pigs brought to one of her rallies by snout-wearing pro-Rick Perry, anti-pork activists. KBH is also looking to sell her mansion in McLean, Virginia, a tea leaf that a) she’s serious about bailing out of the Senate and b) she needs money.

WI-Gov: There’s already a Republican internal poll from the Scott Walker camp done by the Tarrance Group, reflecting the new post-Jim Doyle configuration of the Wisconsin governor’s race. As one might expect from a Walker poll, he leads all comers, although the Milwaukee Co. Exec barely beats Milwaukee mayor and ex-Rep. Tom Barrett, 44-43. Walker posts bigger numbers over Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, 48-40 and Rep. Ron Kind, 49-39, and an even-bigger number against GOP primary rival ex-Rep. Mark Neumann, 57-21. Barrett leads a Dem primary over Lawton and Kind, 39-25-19 (only Lawton has committed to the race so far, though).

NYC-Mayor: The mayor’s race in New York seems to be in a holding pattern, with I/R incumbent Michael Bloomberg beating Democratic Comptroller William Thompson, 50-35, not much change from last month’s 47-37 spread. Thompson leads city councilor Tony Avella 45-10 in the primary. Further down the ballot, it looks like Air America head Mark Green is poised for a comeback as Public Advocate (a job he held 1994-2001), with 38% in a 4-way Dem primary field.

Ads: The DNC has launched a series of radio ads providing cover for 13 potentially vulnerable Dems, regarding their earlier stimulus and SCHIP votes: Berry, Himes, Donnelly, Kissell, Teague, Rodriguez, Perriello, Ross, Hill, Etheridge, Brad Miller, Pat Murphy, and Inslee. (OK, those last four don’t seem vulnerable at all, but whatever.) Also, a coalition of MoveOn, Americans United for Change, the Sierra Club, and the League of Conservation Voters launched TV spots against 5 Republicans over cap-and-trade: McCotter, Rehberg, Blunt, Wolf, and Cantor… and print ads against 2 Dems who also were ‘no’ votes: Jason Altmire in the Pittsburgh suburbs and Ann Kirkpatrick in rural Arizona.

SSP Daily Digest: 8/18

CO-Sen: Did someone feed Bob Beauprez after midnight? Because more and more Republican Senate contenders seem to be hatching in Colorado lately. The newest potential candidate, former Lt. Governor Jane Norton, who served under GOP Gov. Bill Owens in his second term, is “seriously considering” challenging newbie Democrat Michael Bennet, and will “make a decision in 30 days”.

CT-04: Republicans may have been dealt a huge blow to their chances of knocking off frosh Democrat Jim Himes when state Senate minority leader John McKinney decided to stay put, but it looks like they’ve rebounded somewhat with the recruitment of state Sen. Dan Debicella. Debicella will be facing primary competition, though, as former state Sen. Bob Russo of Bridgeport also threw his hat into the ring yesterday. Russo doesn’t have a ton of elected experience under his belt, though; he won a special election in early 2008, but was swamped out of his Senate seat by the Obama tide last November after only 10 months in office. Russo seems to be striking a Shays-like tone in his early remarks, while Debicella sounds more like a meat-and-potatoes conservative.

FL-Gov: The Florida Chamber of Commerce released a poll yesterday showing Republican Bill McCollum leading Dem CFO Alex Sink by a 43-34 margin. No word on which outfit actually conducted the poll, but it wouldn’t be too far out of line with the most recent public polls we’ve seen out of the Sunshine state.

KS-03: After dispatching highly-touted GOP state Sen. Nick Jordan last year without breaking much of a sweat (dude clearly picked the wrong cycle to run), Democratic Rep. Dennis Moore may face another legitimate opponent in 2010. Terry Goodman, a city councilor from Overland Park (a populous Kansas City suburb), says he’s “taking a look” at a congressional run.

NE-02: It looks like GOP Rep. Lee Terry may want to spend less time casting lines for Obama-Terry voters and start keeping an eye on his right flank. Terry is facing a primary challenge from businessman and self-described Reagan Republican Matt Sakalosky, much to the discomfort of Douglas County Republicans. Sakalosky, angry at Lee Terry’s TARP vote last fall, has no elected experience, but insists that he’s well-versed for the job because he “watches television news and reads political biographies”. (Don’t laugh; the fact that he actually reads books probably puts him a peg above a few of the ass-scratching mouth-breathers filling out the ranks in the Boehner caucus.)

NJ-Gov: If Jon Corzine is going to be re-elected, he won’t be doing so with the help of the Sierra Club. The environmental org endorsed independent candidate Chris Daggett yesterday, himself a one-time environmental protection commissioner under former GOP governor Tom Kean.

NV-Sen, NV-Lt. Gov: Nevada’s GOP Lt. Governor, Brian Krolicki, facing a felony indictment over the mishandling of state funds, has announced that he’ll seek re-election next year. Krolicki, as you may recall, formed an exploratory committee for a race against Harry Reid not long before he was slapped with the indictment. He must be hoping for a dynamite year for the GOP if he thinks he can pull a Don Young.

NY-Gov: Are we preparing for life after David Paterson already? GOP gubernatorial hopeful Rick Lazio is looking a few chess moves ahead by picking a fight with state AG Andrew Cuomo over his office not following through with an investigation into the hiring of state Pedro G. Espada (son of crumb-bum Sen. Pedro Espada Jr.) for a well-paid job with the state Senate Democrats. Cuomo, who raised the issue of the dubious hire before anyone else, ended the investigation after Pedro G. resigned last week.

PA-06: It looks like newspaperman Doug “Captain” Pike has effectively sealed the Democratic nomination for the open seat race to replace Jim Gerlach; the 800 pound gorilla in the district, state Sen. Andy Dinniman, announced yesterday that he’s deciding to keep his powder dry, citing the uncertainties of redistricting as his key reason. ’08 Dem nominee Bob Roggio also pulled the plug on a do-over last Friday.

TN-09: Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton denies that he has a mental problem.

VA-05: Everyone expects freshly-minted Dem Rep. Tom Perriello to face a tough re-election campaign next year, but we’re still waiting to figure out who the GOP plans to nominate. A couple of new candidates stepped up to the plate this weekend: high school biology teacher Feda Kidd Morton and real estate investor Laurence Verga both say that they’ll join “FairTax advocate” Bradley S. Rees in the Republican primary. GOP bigwigs are likely holding out hope for a candidate with more obvious firepower, such as state Sen. Robert Hurt or Albemarle County Supervisor Ken Boyd, who says that he’s “still considering it very seriously”.

WI-Gov, WI-01, WI-03: Democratic Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton is officially in the race to replace Jim Doyle, and congressman Ron Kind is also weighing the race heavily. Kind says that he will make a decision “in the weeks to come”. Open seat watchers will be aware that Kind is currently being challenged by Republican state Sen. Dan Kapanke, whose track record of winning over Dem-leaning voters would put this D+3 seat at serious risk should it come open. And in case you were wondering, 1st District GOP Rep. Paul Ryan pre-empted any speculation that he may run by putting out a statement denying his interest.

2010: It’s pretty early, but some prognosticators are already making predictions for next year’s mid-terms:

“There’s offense and there’s defense. Right now, you’re going to be spending time on defense,” said Charlie Cook of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “Intensity matters a lot. Last time you [Democrats] had it, this time they [Republicans] have it,” Mr. Cook said, adding that he expects about a 20-seat loss in the 2010 mid-term elections.

Poll analyst Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com did not agree with Mr. Cook. He expects Democrats to do even worse.

Mr. Silver said Democrats often told him his Obama-friendly polls comforted them last fall. “I don’t think you should feel at all comforted about 2010,” he said to a standing-room-only crowd. He said he expects Democrats will lose from 20 to 50 House seats and up to six Senate seats next year.

What’s your take?

WI-Gov: Politico reports Doyle won’t seek third term

Just a quick hit diary to pass along this Politico report by Jonathan Martin:

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle has told associates he will announce this week that he won’t seek a third term in 2010, POLITICO has learned. […]

Doyle’s office did not respond to POLITICO’s inquiries, but subsequently issued a one-sentence statement to Wisconsin reporters indicating that the governor would make an announcement Monday about his intentions.

With Doyle retiring, a slew of Wisconsin Democrats are likely to consider the race. That list is topped by Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, who has already indicated she would run if Doyle does not and who would be the state’s first female governor.

Martin goes on to speculate that Lawton may be able to run as an incumbent if President Obama brings Doyle into the administration. Doyle endorsed Obama during the primaries.

So, what does everyone think? Is this going to be an easier hold with Doyle out? He wasn’t our most endangered incumbent governor by any means, but there were some worrying signs. Last month Swing State Project downgraded this race to lean Dem.

SSP Daily Digest: 6/29

FL-Sen: Oh please, oh please: The Club for Growth’s president, David Keating, says that he’s very impressed with Marco Rubio, and may run ads against Rubio’s primary opponent, Charlie Crist (although he said there’s no set timeline for “endorsement”). Politico also points to a strongly anti-Crist new editorial from the Wall Street Journal that, believe it or not, compares Crist to Barney Frank (get your mind out of the gutter… apparently it has something to do with an analogy between hurricane insurance and Fannie Mae).

MN-Sen: Despite the fact that Tim Pawlenty (not running for re-election, but probably running for the Big Show in 2012) is now answerable to the nationwide GOP base rather than to all Minnesotans, he’s not going to obstruct the all-but-inevitable seating of Al Franken. He confirmed on CNN that he’ll certify Franken if Norm Coleman loses his Minnesota Supreme Court case.

NC-Sen: While former state Sen. Cal Cunningham is making some senatorial noises, he says that he won’t commit to a timeline on getting into the race, saying only that he’ll make a “timely decision.”

AL-Gov: We’re up to six Republican gubernatorial candidates now; Bill Johnson, the state director of Economic and Community Affairs, resigned his post on Friday and declared his candidacy. Despite his statewide position, Johnson seems like kind of an odd duck; he was the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri in 1994.

SC-Gov: The behind-the-scenes battle is heating up between Mark Sanford and his Lt. Governor and possible successor (either via resignation or the 2010 election), Andre Bauer. Bauer’s would-be opponents (who would be at a disadvantage if Bauer comes into the election as an incumbent) are already dusting off old lines of attack from his LG primary campaign in 2006, that Bauer is too much of a fast-driving, plane-crashing party boy and not sufficiently conservative. (Bauer’s spokesperson does some very strange pushback in this article, seemingly protesting too much that Bauer is merely a “red-blooded American male” and “straight.”) The New York Times details efforts by Bauer’s camp to exert pressure on legislators to pressure Sanford to resign (which came to public light when Bauer’s camp inadvertently contacted an ally of potential 2010 rival AG Henry McMaster).

Meanwhile, State Rep. Nikki Haley has been encouraging Sanford not to resign (which he says he won’t do) — on the surface because she was one of Sanford’s few legislative allies even before the scandal, but at this point, more importantly because she’s also running in 2010 and would be at a disadvantage if Bauer comes in as a one-year incumbent. She has also issued a statement “fear[ing] for the conservative reform movement” if Bauer takes office. Similarly, McMaster seems reluctant to launch criminal investigations into Sanford — again, the subtext being that would make Sanford’s immediate replacement by Bauer likelier.

WI-Gov: Here’s an interesting rumor: Gov. Jim Doyle may be in line to take over as the next head of the Peace Corps. Not only would this spare us a 2nd re-election run by Doyle, who’s been posting mediocre poll numbers, but, assuming he resigns to take the new post, it would give Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton the chance to run in 2010 with a year of incumbency under her belt.

AL-05: Despite earlier reports that the GOP was happy with their recruit to run in AL-05, businessman and local GOP “minority outreach” coordinator Lester Philip, they’ve recruited a higher-profile figure to run against freshman Rep. Parker Griffith. Madison Co. (location of Huntsville) Commissioner Mo Brooks said he’ll formally enter the race this week.

CA-11: After first flirting with the CA-10 special election and then flirting with the idea of running against Rep. Jerry McNerney in CA-11 in 2010, Contra Costa Co. Sheriff Warren Rupf declared that he isn’t running for Congress, period. Rupf, in fact, basically gave Congress the middle finger, saying his values “don’t line up with the fringes of either party and compromising my values or my priorities is a price I am not willing to pay.”

CA-24: The DCCC has been cajoling Peter Jim Dantona, a local political consultant, to get into the race against longtime Rep. Elton Gallegly in the 24th. Dantona proved his bona fides by almost winning a seat on the Ventura Co. Board of Supervisors in a heavily Republican district. (Another consideration is the possibility that Gallegly, who’s tried to retire before, may turn this district, which Obama won 51-48, into an open seat if faced with a stiff challenge.)

CA-50: A Francine Busby fundraiser in a supporter’s backyard turned into a bit of a melee when the police were called over a noise complaint, ending with the party’s 60-year-old host getting pepper-sprayed and arrested when she wouldn’t give the police her name and date of birth.

FL-24: GOP State Rep. (and former mayor of Port Orange) Dorothy Hukill announced her interest in taking on Rep. Suzanne Kosmas. The NRCC was already highly touting Winter Park City Commissioner Karen Diebel in this race, so it’ll be interesting to see if Hukill is doing this on her own, or if the NRCC kept looking after pre-emptive Dem attacks on Diebel’s stability may have damaged Diebel.

MI-03: Rep. Vernon Ehlers, who’s 75, sounded a little ambivalent about running for another term in 2010. Roll Call does some interesting dot-connecting: Ehlers and SoS Terri Lynn Land are friendly, and her sudden jump out of the governor’s race, where she looked competitive, may have something to do with her getting some insider information on MI-03 being available instead.

NC-08: The GOP is still wondering what to do about a challenge to freshman Rep. Larry Kissell. Oddly, their first choice is a rerun by former Rep. Robin Hayes, who looked clueless en route to losing in 2008 by over 10 points. (Hayes is still considering it, but also helping to recruit other candidates.) Another possible (and more ominous) contender, who hasn’t ruled it out, is Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory, who lost the 2008 gubernatorial race and will be looking for something else to do after his seventh mayoral term ends this year. Union Co. District Attorney John Snyder was also cited as a possible GOPer.

NE-02: Rep. Lee Terry seems to be under a lot of stress lately, as seen by his recent F-bomb-laced freak-out when trying to cross the street in Washington.

Fundraising: Just a friendly reminder: the fundraising quarter ends tomorrow. If there’s a candidate out there who you want to give some early momentum to, now’s the time to contribute.

WI-Gov/WI-Sen: Dems in Pretty Good Shape

Research 2000 for Daily Kos (6/8-10, likely voters, no trendlines):

Jim Doyle (D-inc): 48

Scott Walker (R): 36

Undecided: 16

Jim Doyle (D-inc): 49

Mark Neumann (R): 35

Undecided: 16

Jim Doyle (D-inc): 45

Tommy Thompson (R): 47

Undecided: 8

(MoE: ±4%)

Incumbent Gov. Jim Doyle has an unlovely 43-48 approval rating, yet he’s still close to the 50% mark against his likeliest opponents, Milwaukee Co. Executive Scott Walker and former WI-01 Rep. Mark Neumann. Half the sample has no opinion of Walker, while a third doesn’t know Neumann, but interestingly, they pull identical numbers. (The only other poll of this race, by the Republican firm POS, showed similar nums for Doyle but had both GOPers in the low 40s.)

Meanwhile, former Gov. Tommy Thompson remains pretty popular (54-36), but only holds Doyle to a dead heat. Perhaps Obama’s 14-point thumping of John McCain is a signal that Wisconsin’s politics have changed – or maybe voters are just tired of Tommy, who was elected to an unprecedented four terms and then, after an ineffectual stint in the Bush cabinet, made a fool of himself with an embarrassing presidential run.

My gut is that the 67-year-old Thompson, who has been toying with a run, won’t get in. Thing is, Doyle (who’s already served two terms) might bow out as well. So R2K also tested his most likely replacement, Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton:

Barbara Lawton (D): 44

Scott Walker (R): 35

Undecided: 21

Barbara Lawton (D): 43

Mark Neumann (R): 35

Undecided: 22

Barbara Lawton (D): 44

Tommy Thompson (R): 46

Undecided: 10

Lawton, who holds a 35-17 favorability rating, fares quite well. Indeed, her numbers are almost identical to Walker’s 33-16 favorables. The fact that she starts off with a natural nine-point advantage does suggest that something fundamental may indeed have changed in Wisconsin. (If so, thanks, Republicans!)

R2K also took a look at the Senate race, where Russ Feingold is up for re-election. While Feingold often makes things a lot more interesting than they have to be (he’s never won with more than 55% of the vote), he looks to be in command at this point:

Russ Feingold (D-inc): 53

Paul Ryan (R): 32

Undecided: 15

Russ Feingold (D-inc): 52

Mark Green: 34

Undecided: 14

Rep. Paul Ryan (WI-01), something of a GOP rising star, has more or less ruled out a run against Feingold. And former Rep. Mark Green, who lost the 2006 gov race against Doyle, is working for an anti-malaria non-profit in DC, following up on his stint as US ambassador to Tanzania. He says he’s not “seeking out” any return to elective office at this time.

And therein lies the real story for Russ Feingold: the Republican cupboard in Wisconsin is pretty bare. Feingold may get very lucky indeed next year. With a solid lead in the polls and no serious opponents in site, the Swing State Project is moving its rating for this race from Likely Democrat to Safe Democrat.

RaceTracker: WI-Gov | WI-Sen