SSP Daily Digest: 12/17

AZ-Sen: There have been vague rumblings that maybe Jon Kyl, the GOP’s 68-year-old #2 in the Senate, may not be running for another term… but that seems to be coming into sharper relief all of a sudden. Kyl has refused to publicly discuss his plans, the GOP’s state chair is saying Kyl is not likely to run again, and people are starting to notice that he’s sitting on only $620K CoH and hasn’t engaged in any fundraising yet. (Although it’s likely, once he decides, that he could quickly do whatever fundraising was needed to win.)

CT-Sen: Ex-Rep. Rob Simmons sounds torn about another Senate run in 2012, and refuses to rule it out. However, he sounds unenthused, not so much because of his odds in the general as the likelihood of butting heads with the NRSC in the primary, whom he thinks has a fixation on Linda McMahon and her self-funding ability. Meanwhile, Rep. Chris Murphy is busy framing his “no” vote on the tax compromise in populist terms, clearly trying to set up some contrasts with Joe Lieberman.

NE-Sen: I’d thought AG Jon Bruning was supposed to be some sort of killer-app for the local GOP to go against Ben Nelson, but you wouldn’t know it by the way they’ve kept casting about for more talent. Local insiders are still publicly airing their wish list, adding a couple more prominent names to it: Rep. Jeff Fortenberry and state Auditor Mike Foley. One lower-tier option is also floating her own name: state Sen. Deb Fischer, who represents that big empty north-central part of the state and says she’ll decide on a run once the legislative session is over.

OR-Sen: Best wishes for a quick recovery to Ron Wyden, who will be undergoing surgery on Monday for prostate cancer. While it sounds like he’ll be back on his feet soon, he’ll be unable to vote for anything next week, which could complicate the final rush to wrap up stuff in the lame duck.

TN-Sen: Bob Corker occasionally gets mentioned, at least in the rightosphere, as the possible recipient of a tea party primary challenge in 2012. The Hill finds that this may be fizzling on the launching pad, for the very simple reason that no one seems to be stepping forward to consider the race.

WI-Sen: PPP is out with its poll of the 2012 GOP Senate primary, with another one of those let’s-test-everyone-and-their-dog fields, but unlike some of the other states they’ve looked at in the last few weeks, a U.S. Rep. wins, rather than a statewide figure. Paul Ryan (who probably gets enough Fox News attention to trump the disadvantage of representing only 1/8th of the state) is far in the lead at 52. Ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson (who if he didn’t run this year surely isn’t going to in 2012) is at 14, ex-Rep. Mark Green is at 9, AG JB Van Hollen and new Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch are at 6, new Rep. Sean Duffy is at 5, and already-forgotten 2010 contender Dave Westlake is at 1.

IN-Gov, IN-09: Baron Hill says he most likely isn’t going to be running for anything in 2012, not Governor, and not his old seat in the 9th, saying he’s looking into private sector jobs for now, though also leaving the gubernatorial door “slightly open.” Interestingly, he seemed more enthused about a run for Governor in 2016 (which may be a tougher road to hoe, if there’s an entrenched GOP incumbent then instead of an open seat like 2012), although he also commented that “I don’t know if I’ll be alive in 2016.”

MO-Gov: In case there was any doubt, Democratic incumbent Jay Nixon confirmed that he’ll run for re-election as Governor in 2012. Nixon also said that he’s raised $1 million for that race just since November; he’ll need it.

WV-Gov: For what it’s worth, two of the state’s largest unions would like to see an expedited special election to replace Joe Manchin. Democratic House Speaker (and likely gubernatorial candidate) Rick Thompson agrees with them, saying there’s a constitutional conflict of interest in acting Gov./Senate president Earl Ray Tomblin’s dual position. In what may not be a surprise, Tomblin disagrees, saying that the law is clear that the special will be held in 2012.

CA-06: Rep. Lynn Woolsey is seeming like she may be one of the first retirements of the cycle, if the flurry of activity among lower-level Marin County politicos jockeying for position is any indication. The 73-year-old is publicly weighing retirement, and state Assemblyman Jared Huffman has already formed an exploratory committee to run in her stead. State Sen. Noreen Evans, Sonoma Co. Commissioner Shirlee Zane, and Petaluma mayor Pam Torliatt are also listed as possible replacements.

FL-25: It certainly didn’t take newly-elected Rep. David Rivera to get in legal trouble, and it’s something completely new, instead of anything having to do with that whole let’s-run-that-truck-off-the-road incident. He’s under investigation for an alleged $500,000 in secret payments from a greyhound track that he helped out to a marketing firm that’s “run” by his septuagenarian mother.

ID-01: Don’t count on a rematch from Walt Minnick (or a run for higher office in Idaho, either): he says he’s done with elective politics. An oft-overlooked fact about Minnick: he’s a little older than your average freshman, at 68. He wasn’t going to be in the seat for much longer or look to move up anyway.

NY-14: Remember Reshma Saujani, after losing the Dem primary in the 14th, said “I’m definitely running again” and “There’s no way I’m going to be ones of those folks who runs, loses, and you never see them again.” Well, fast forward a few months, and now she’s definitely not running again, although she may be looking toward a run for something in 2013 at the municipal level.

DCCC: The DCCC held its first real strategy session of the cycle yesterday, and the list of top-tier targets that emerged is pretty predictable (Dan Lungren, Charlie Bass, Charlie Dent, Bob Dold!) except for one: Leonard Lance, who’s proved pretty durable so far. They may be counting on Lance’s NJ-07, which occupies roughly the middle of the state, to get tossed into the blender in the redistricting process.

Votes: Here’s the vote tally from yesterday’s vote in the House on the tax compromise. It was a very unusual breakdown, with Dems breaking 139 yes/112 no and the GOP breaking 138 yes/36 no, with the “no”s coming generally from each party’s hard-liners, in a manner vaguely reminiscent of how the TARP vote broke down. (Also, some defeated or retiring Blue Dogs still voted “no,” like Allen Boyd, Gene Taylor, and Earl Pomeroy… while Dennis Kucinich was a “yes.”)

History: Here’s an interesting story about the end of a little-known but important era in North Dakota politics: the effective end of the Non-Partisan League, a vaguely-socialist/populist farmers’ party that cross-endorsed Democrats for many decades, and had an outsized influence on the state (as seen in their state-owned bank and similar enterprises). With Byron Dorgan retired, most NPL stalwarts dead or aging, and agribusiness having replaced the family farm, it looks like the end of the NPL’s line.

Redistricting: Dave Wasserman is out with a preview of next week’s reapportionment, and he’s rightly treating it like the NCAA playoffs draw, in that there a bunch of states on the bubble of getting or losing seats. Here’s how that plays out:

Georgia, Nevada, and Utah are all but certain to gain an additional seat in the House, while Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are all but certain to lose a seat and Ohio is all but certain to lose two seats…. the ten states in contention for the “last five” seats in the House (in order of likelihood to make the cut) are South Carolina, Florida, Minnesota, Washington, Texas, New York, California, Arizona, North Carolina, and Illinois.

He’s also been tinkering around with Dave’s Redistricting App, and has some maps that you’ll want to check out. Maybe most interestingly, there’s a solution to the IL-17 problem that actually makes it more Democratic while letting Aaron Schock and Bobby Schilling get much better acquainted with each other (the Fix also takes a look at Illinois today, coming up with similar ideas). Also worth a look: a good 10-district Washington map that gives Dave Reichert a heaping helping of eastern Washington.

Site news: Due to holiday travel, other time commitments, and hopefully what will be a very slow news week, the Daily Digest will be on hiatus all next week. Don’t worry, though: I’ll make sure to be around on the 21st for the Census reapportionment data release (hell, maybe I’ll even liveblog the news conference), and if there’s any important breaking news, someone will get it up on the front page. In the meantime, happy holidays from the whole SSP team!

SSP Daily Digest: 9/29

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New York City runoff thread

The runoffs for New York City Comptroller and Public Advocate take place tomorrow. Up for election are John Liu and David Yassky for Comptroller and Bill de Blasio and Mark Green for Public Advocate. Who are you voting for and why?

I plan to vote for John Liu, despite some misgivings based on Yassky’s campaign, which has accused Liu of lying about various things:

Yassky, who came in second with 30% of the vote in [the] four-way primary, cited Liu’s disputed claim that he caught the MTA using two sets of books.

He also knocked Liu for saying he returned questionable campaign donations and toiled in a sweatshop as a child – which was contradicted by his own parents and others.

(Source: “Controller hopefuls John Liu, David Yassky sling mud in debate”)

My main problem with Yassky relates to his campaign’s behavior toward me. I have detailed two attempts to persuade me to vote for him, in the guise of supposed opinion polls. I haven’t yet mentioned the constant barrage of emails (I mean just about every day and sometimes multiple emails a day) that I’ve gotten – unsolicited – from Mr. Yassky’s campaign, with titles such as “[x] Days to Victory.” I’m truly unsure of how his campaign got my email address but would strongly suggest to any politician or campaign worker who’s reading that politicians not send emails to non-constituents who never contacted them. (Sending an email through an organization they belong to is fine, though, so that if, say, wants to support a candidate and that candidate sends an email explicitly through MoveOn to MoveOn’s members, they can take it or leave it but have little reason to be perturbed with the candidate.) Because of these personal experiences, I find it very difficult to get past the feeling that Yassky is overly power-hungry and given to sleazy and overly intrusive campaign practices, but I can understand why someone might consider such a highly-endorsed man a superior candidate.

Breaking away now from personal comments, here are some from Mr. Liu:

Liu then hurled some mud himself, bashing his opponent as “three-headed Yassky” for changing positions on key issues like term limits.

“People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” Liu said.

Yassky originally opposed Mayor Bloomberg’s bid to have the Council let him seek a third term, but then cast a crucial vote in favor of it.

For the record, I am opposed to all term limits as undemocratic, though the process by which the City Council annulled the results of two referenda is objectionable and certainly a legitimate issue. But if it’s OK for Yassky to go back on his word in regard to term limits, is it really important whether the labor Mr. Liu did as a child was in a sweatshop or not? I’m not sure which of these things might be really important in predicting either candidate’s performance and honesty as Comptroller.

As for Public Advocate, I believe my choice is simpler, in that Mark Green has already served in the role and I felt that he did a good job in it. I have nothing in particular against Bill de Blasio except that I’m not so sure a member of the City Council is generally best to serve in that job. Rather, it seems to me that whoever is good at using a bully pulpit for the benefit of the people – and not for the benefit of the Mayor or City Council, who can already advocate for themselves – is really the best candidate for Public Advocate. I don’t mean to suggest that a member of the City Council couldn’t be the best candidate for the job or do well in it, but neither do I see an important reason not to vote for Mr. Green, and Mr. de Blasio’s City Council membership seems to me a weak additional argument against him, in a situation in which I think I’ll probably approve of either man’s performance if elected.

That said, I understand the argument that Green may be seeking the job of Public Advocate in order to try to win the Mayoralty through the back door, and my feeling is that the solution for this is to make the City Council President next in line for Mayor. It’s a much more similar job, although not subject to city-wide election. I’m not even sure that Public Advocate is an important enough position not to abolish, but given its very circumscribed powers, it certainly is poor preparation for Mayor.  

SSP Daily Digest: 9/15

CO-Sen: Former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton is set to launch her bid for the GOP nomination for the Senate today; however, not every prominent Colorado Republican is on board. Ex-Rep. Tom Tancredo lit into her, saying she’s “not ready for prime time” and that he would have less of a problem with her if she’d worked the regular behind-the-scene channels in preparing for the race instead of parachuting in at the last minute, apparently at the urging of family friend John McCain. Those on the left, however, are casting a dark eye toward her lobbying past: she used be the head of government relations for a for-profit health care lobbying shop.

KS-Sen: The GOP primary in Kansas is commonly understood to be an establishment/movement duel between Reps. Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt. However, the endorsements in the race are scrambling that a bit, as South Carolina’s Jim DeMint, maybe the nuttiest guy in the Senate, has endorsed Moran (the ‘moderate’ in the race, who surprisingly also got Tom Coburn‘s endorsement this spring). The somewhat more mainstream figures of John McCain and Richard Burr will also headline Moran fundraisers in DC.

NH-Sen: Instead of linking to that Populus poll (with a bizarre sample that’s way off state party composition) that shows Rep. Paul Hodes losing 54-39 to a generic Republican, I’ll just direct you to Dean Barker’s authoritative takedown of the poll and of Populus in general.

NY-Sen-B: As suspected, that Rudy Giuliani-for-Senate thing that happened yesterday was just cloud talk. Via right-hand-man Tony Carbonetti, the word is that Giuliani doesn’t see himself as a Senator, and only belongs in chief executive positions instead.

CA-Gov: Here’s about as big an endorsement as SF mayor Gavin Newsom could have hoped for in his bid for California Governor, where he has been sinking into underdog status in the Dem primary against AG Jerry Brown. Bill Clinton will appear at an Oct. 5 event for Newsom. (Payback for Brown staying around in the 1992 presidential primary after it had been sorted out?) The popularity of the Clinton brand, especially among Latinos, may give Newsom a boost among the state’s Latinos, who haven’t shown much interest in Newsom yet.

NJ-Gov: PPP, like most pollsters, shows a narrowing edge for Chris Christie in New Jersey but Jon Corzine still standing at the bottom of a hole. Christie leads Corzine 44-35 (improved from 50-36 last month), with independent Chris Daggett pulling in his strongest performance in any poll yet, at 13%. Corzine just isn’t gaining, but Christie seems to be leaking votes to Daggett, suggesting there are a lot of Dems and Dem-leaning indies who hate Corzine but can’t bring themselves to vote for a Republican (Corzine is polling at only 64% among Democrats). Also similar to other pollsters, there seems to be a big enthusiasm gap at work on the Dem side: among those who fit into PPP’s likely voter screen, Barack Obama won only 48-46 in 2008 (despite his actual 15-pt edge last year).

VA-Gov: This bodes ill for Creigh Deeds: one of his electability assets was that he was the most gun-friendly of the Democratic candidates. However, the National Rifle Association — who, in the 2005 Attorney General’s race endorsed Deeds over Bob McDonnell — turned around and endorsed McDonnell over Deeds in the Governor’s race.

IL-10: State Rep. Julie Hamos got a key endorsement in her primary fight against 06/08 nominee Dan Seals, from EMILY’s List. That gives her a national fundraising profile that may help counteract Seals’ netroots backing.

NH-02: It seems like there has been an endless supply of “Charlie Bass is weighing his options” stories out of New Hampshire, but the ex-Rep. now says he’s “leaning toward” a run to get back his old seat. However, the moderate Bass would first have to survive a primary against conservative radio blabber Jennifer Horn, who was the 2008 candidate against Rep. Paul Hodes and has said she’s back for another try.

PA-03: John Onorato made it official: he’ll be running against freshman Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper. He’s currently general counsel for the Manufacturer and Business Association, but he used to be Erie County Solicitor, an elected office with a constituency that makes up almost half of the district.

SC-04: I might as well just start the “Bob Inglis Deathwatch” series today. The South Carolina Republican, who used to be one of the most conservative House members but has been sounding increasingly moderate (and sick of Republican hypocrisy) lately, Twittered a suggestion for neighbor Joe Wilson to apologize on the House floor for his outburst. This is the same Inglis who voted for TARP and against the Iraq Surge, and who told town hall screamers to turn off the Glenn Beck; he faces several serious primary challengers in this mega-evangelical R+15 district.

VA-05: Cordel Faulk, the former spokesperson for Larry Sabato’s Univ. of Virginia Center for Politics, said that he won’t run for the GOP nod to oppose Tom Perriello after all. Still no top-tier (or even second or third-tier) GOP candidate in this district that presents, on paper, one of their best pickup opportunities.

VA-07: A local real estate developer, Charles Diradour, has announced that he’ll run as a Democrat against Republican whip Eric Cantor in Richmond’s suburbs. He’ll need to bring a lot of developer money to the table if he’s going to have a chance at Cantor, the House Republicans’ biggest fundraiser, in this R+9 district.

CfG: The Club for Growth is havnig a busy day. They just announced endorsements in the area where they can do the least harm, in open-seat GOP primaries in super-red districts. They endorsed state Sen. Tim Huelskamp in KS-01, and state Rep. Tom Graves in GA-09. Interestingly, they’re also interviewing both Rand Paul and Trey Grayson to see if they want to get involved in the Kentucky primary.

NYC: It’s primary election day for New York City’s elective offices, and the final SurveyUSA poll (sampled the 11th through the 13th) is out today. In the mayor’s race, Comptroller William Thompson, at 46%, seems clear of the 40% mark that necessitates a runoff. We’re seeing momentum in two different directions below that, though. Former PA Mark Green is losing steam in the Public Advocate’s race, down to 33%, making a runoff likely against city councilor Bill DeBlasio (who’s at 23%). Meanwhile, city councilor John Liu is making a break for the 40% line; he’s at 37%, while David Yassky and Melinda Katz are fighting for 2nd (at 22% and 21% respectively).

SSP Daily Digest: 9/14 (Afternoon Edition)

CA-Sen (pdf): According to the Public Policy Institute of California, Barbara Boxer is holding fairly good approval ratings, as she approaches a possibly competitive (and definitely expensive) re-election: 53/32, really no different from her stodgier colleague Dianne Feinstein, 54/32. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who isn’t running again, fares much worse: 30/61.

CO-Sen: As we’re staring down the barrel of a competitive Democratic primary in the Senate race, three of the state’s five House Dems have gotten behind incumbent appointee Michael Bennet (John Salazar, Jared Polis, and Betsy Markey), along with fellow Sen. Mark Udall. However, Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter are staying neutral. Other Bennet backers include current state House speaker Terrance Carroll.

IL-Sen, IL-Gov: The Cook County Dems made their endorsements in the 2010 primaries, which are less than half a year away. No major surprises: they endorsed state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias for Senate and incumbent Pat Quinn for Governor. That rankled Quinn’s rival, Comptroller Dan Hynes, who hit Quinn for seeking machine backing when, back in his reformer days, Quinn had been an advocate for open primaries. Meanwhile, in the Senate primary, upstart Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman is taking the clean politics approach, saying that he’ll accept no PAC money for his campaign.

MA-Sen: The fields are starting to solidify in Massachusetts: Rep. John Tierney, from MA-06 in Boston’s northern suburbs, decided against a run. He has less money than his fellow House members and polled in the single digits in the lone poll of the primary. Rep. Richard Neal is the only House member left who initially seemed like a potential candidate (mostly because of his bankroll), but his silence in the last week has been telling. On the GOP side of the aisle, state Senator Scott Brown got in the race over the weekend; with Mitt Romney, Andy Card, Kerry Healey, and Christy Mihos out, Brown is about as good as it’s going to get for the Republicans.

NH-Sen: Here’s one more Republican from the Republican wing of the party pondering a run in the New Hampshire Senate primary: businessman and RNC member Sean Mahoney. Mahoney says he’s gotten a push from the conservative grassroots to run, as many of them seem uneasy with the Beltway coronation of Kelly Ayotte, whose inability to take a position… any position… is taking on epic proportions. (If Mahoney’s name seems vaguely familiar, he lost the 2002 NH-01 GOP primary to Jeb Bradley.)

NY-Sen-B, NY-Gov: Here’s the rumor du jour, and it’s a doozy: Rudy Giuliani is being pushed by state GOP leaders to run for Senate against Kirsten Gillibrand instead of for Governor; apparently the state GOP is convinced that Andrew Cuomo, not David Paterson, will be the Dems’ nominee next year. Nobody has polled Gillibrand/Giuliani before, but that seems like it would be a close race, if the Gillibrand/Pataki numbers are any indication (of course, there’s a big stylistic difference between the vanilla George Pataki and the dictatorial Rudy, just that they’re both known quantities at this point). Perhaps (between this rumor and Rudy’s failed coup against Ed Cox) sensing that the Rudy won’t be getting into the Governor’s race — or maybe just because of his own special brand of tone-deafness — ex-Rep. Rick Lazio made his formal announcement today that he’s running for Governor.

AZ-Gov: In the “blast from the past” file, former Governor Fife Symington is now considering a comeback by running in the GOP primary against appointed Governor Jan Brewer. That’s the same Symington who was forced out of office in 1997 after conviction for bank fraud, although his conviction was overturned on appeal and he was subsequently pardoned by Bill Clinton. Strangely, we could see a re-run of the 1990 gubernatorial election, if Symington and Dem AG Terry Goddard face off against each other again.

NJ-Gov (pdf): One more poll (from Monmouth) showing Chris Christie with a persistent, but shrinking, edge over Jon Corzine in the New Jersey gubernatorial race. Among likely voters, Christie has a 47-39 edge (with 5 for Chris Daggett), much better than August’s 50-36 Christie lead but comparable to July’s 45-37 lead. Hold onto your hats, though: among registered voters, Corzine actually leads, 41-40 (with 6 for Daggett). In the fine print, Corzine is continuing to solidify his standing among Democrats, up to 77% among Dems (up from 73% in August and 67% in July). The challenge here, apparently, will be getting those Dems in the ‘unlikely voter’ column to show up.

OR-Gov: John Kitzhaber doesn’t seem like he’ll have the Dem primary to himself: former SoS Bill Bradbury looks like he’s on track to run. Bradbury has hired a campaign manager, and announces that Kitzhaber’s predecessor as Governor, Barbara Roberts, will be on hand for his announcement next week. One other possible challenger in the Dem primary, one that no one had thought of before, is Clackamas County Commission Chair Lynn Peterson. Peterson is 40 and still building her reputation; cynics’ knee-jerk reaction might be to think she’s angling for the Lt. Governor slot, but Oregon doesn’t even have a Lt. Governor. Finally, everyone’s still waiting to see what Rep. Peter DeFazio does; he was supposed to have made a decision by Labor Day but says he’ll keep on anaylzing his choices.

AR-02: Politico has an unusual rumor: former US Attorney and former Karl Rove right-hand-man Tim Griffin is considering a run against Democratic Rep. Vic Snyder in the Little Rock-based 2nd (which, in wake of 2008, is, at R+5, the most Dem-friendly district in Arkansas). Considering that Griffin had earlier pondered and declined a run in AR-Sen, the step down doesn’t make much sense at all, as he’d most likely have a better shot against the vulnerable Blanche Lincoln, who hasn’t polled well lately. The entrenched Snyder may create the appearance of being vulnerable because of his bank account, but that’s mostly because he refuses to fundraise during off years.

IL-10: State Rep. Beth Coulson, running for the GOP primary nod for the open seat in the 10th against several self-funders, got endorsements from two members of the GOP House delegation: fellow suburban moderate Judy Biggert… and, in an apparent nod to the reality of what works in the 10th, from the state delegation’s wingnuttiest member, John Shimkus, last seen ducking out early from Obama’s health care address to beat the lines at the urinal.

WI-03: State Sen. Dan Kapanke gives the GOP a rather strong candidate against Rep. Ron Kind (or more ominously, an open seat, in case Kind decides to run for Governor). However, Dems succeeded in taking Kapanke down a peg and dinging him for $38,100 ($100 in statutory damages plus $38K in legal fees) for violating state open records laws.

NYC: One more poll of the Democratic primaries for the city offices, before tomorrow’s election. The mayor’s race is actually the least interesting, with Comptroller William Thompson beating city councilor Tony Avella 46-17. Ex-PA Mark Green has pole position in the Public Advocate’s race, but the question is whether he can beat the 40% threshold in order to avoid a runoff. Currently, he’s at 36%, with city councilor Bill DeBlasio at 20%. The Comptroller’s race is almost certainly headed for a runoff, but city councilor John Liu seems to be breaking out from the pack, at 34%; he leads Melinda Katz at 23% and David Yassky at 19%. In case you’re wondering what’s up with the Manhattan DA race, there is one recent poll of the race, an internal from the Cyrus Vance Jr. camp. It gives Vance a 30-24 edge over Leslie Crocker Synder, with Richard Aborn at 15.

Census: The Census Bureau is severing its relationship with ACORN, which was working with the Census to promote Census participation. Loosely translated, Director Robert Groves said that the organization was enough of a distraction that it was becoming a net liability instead of asset in terms of getting people to participate in the Census.

SSP Daily Digest: 9/4

CO-Sen: The Denver Post does some interesting digging into how former House speaker Andrew Romanoff wound up in the Senate Democratic primary against Michael Bennet after all. Governor Bill Ritter tried to give the Lt. Gov. spot to Romanoff after Barbara O’Brien left the position in January, but the deal collapsed, leaving Romanoff to decide on the primary instead this summer.

IL-Sen: Chicago’s city treasurer, Stephanie Neely, has decided not to run in the Senate primary. However, Chicago’s inspector general David Hoffman seems to be taking tangible steps to get into the race, saying he’ll make a formal announcement after Labor Day.

MA-Sen: Rep. Stephen Lynch picked up filing papers for the Senate special election in Massachusetts, indicating he’s likely to soon join Martha Coakley. Lynch, who represents a heavily blue-collar Catholic district based in south Boston, would likely be the only anti-abortion Democratic in the race, but he has strong ties with organized labor.

MD-Gov: While most of the question marks surrounding the Maryland governor’s race involve whether or not GOP ex-Gov. Bob Ehrlich wants a rematch with current Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, now some are wondering if O’Malley will face a primary challenge from former Prince George’s Co. Executive Wayne Curry. Speculation centers on how O’Malley has nailed down endorsements from Dems all over the state but is missing some key endorsements from PG County.

NJ-Gov: Wow, what is it with this guy? So it turns out that back in 2002, Chris Christie turned his sail barge the wrong way down a one-way street, struck a motorcyclist (who was taken to the hospital)… and didn’t get a ticket. No claims about a tow-truck driver recognizing Christie this time – here, we know he identified himself to the officer on the scene. When he was asked if Christie’s title affected the officer’s decision not to issue a summons, the police director said “I don’t think I want to make that kind of deduction, but I think the facts speak for themselves.” Ouch. (D)

OR-Gov: Lots of movement in the Oregon governor’s race now that John Kitzhaber is in. Democratic state Rep. Brian Clem (who had set up an exploratory committee a few months ago) quickly moved to endorse Kitzhaber and not just get out of the way but join Kitz’s campaign as a director. Meanwhile, Republican state Senator Jason Atkinson — who finished third in the GOP primary in 2006 and has “next in line” status — informally told his hometown paper, the Medford Mail-Tribune, that “he’s running,” although the formal announcement won’t happen for a while. Finally, it sounds like Rep. Peter DeFazio is making a move to… do something. He’s still considering the race, but will make a decision “around Labor Day,” which is soon.

SC-Gov: Here’s a tea leaf that Jim Rex, who’d be the Dems’s strongest candidate, seems likely to get in the gubernatorial race. In the midst of touring the state and raising money, he says he won’t run for another term as Superintendent of Education.

AZ-01: It sounds like the GOP has a candidate lined up in the 1st, to against freshman Dem Ann Kirkpatrick, who’s a definite improvement over the sad Sydney Hay from last time. Former state Senate majority leader Russell “Rusty” Bowers (also a former state Rep., and now a sand-and-gravel industry lobbyist) seems like he’s set to run.

IN-08: The NRCC, however, wasn’t able to pin down a challenger to Brad Ellsworth in the 8th. Former Vandenburgh County Commissioner and county assessor Cheryl Musgrave decided not to run against Ellsworth, although she is considering a state House run instead against incumbent Dem Gail Riecken.

PA-03: The GOP had been previously struggling to find anyone at all to go against freshman Dem Kathy Dahlkemper, but now they’ve landed someone fairly impressive sounding. John Onorato (not to be confused with Dem gubernatorial candidate Dan Onorato) is the former Erie County Solicitor (analogous to DA in most states), giving him a large constituency to build on.

SD-AL: State Rep. Shantel Krebs of Sioux Falls said that she’s considering challenging Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in 2010. Krebs would likely need to get past Chris Nelson, the state’s two-term Secretary of State, in the GOP primary though; he’s also in the “considering” phase. (Remember that South Dakota House districts are teeny constituencies, with only 22,000 residents each.)

NYC-Mayor: One more SurveyUSA poll of the Dem primary in the Big Apple. William Thompson and Mark Green have pretty clear paths in the Mayor and Public Advocate primaries (Thompson leads Tony Avella 52-14), but check out the Comptroller’s race. It’s a three-way slugfest between three city councilors: 25% for John Liu, 24% for Melinda Katz, and 21% for David Yassky.

Ads: The DNC, via Organizing for America, is running cable TV spots for four potentially vulnerable House Dems, thanking them for their pro-stimulus votes: Ben Chandler, Martin Heinrich, Travis Childers, and Zack Space.

Polling: The Masters of the Crosstabs were all on hand to do a panel on polling at Netroots Nation last month: Charlie Cook, Mark Blumenthal, Nate Silver, and Charles Franklin, moderated by Greg Dworkin (aka DemFromCT). At the link, you’ll find a video of their session. (Charlie gives a nice shout-out to SSP at about 7:40, and again at 80:20, where he talks about the “growing sophistication of the blogosphere.”) (D)

Humor: Autotune the News 8 is out, in case you’ve ever wanted Joe Biden to sing you a slow jam.

SSP Daily Digest: 8/28

KY-Sen: Here’s a surprise; Mitch McConnell says he still won’t endorse in the GOP Senate primary, despite the presence of only one establishment candidate anymore (SoS Trey Grayson). Is he worried about drawing the wrath of the nationwide army of malfunctioning Paulbots? Anyway, even though he won’t endorse, he and 22 other GOP Senators are still planning to host a $500/person fundraiser in DC for Grayson in September.

LA-Sen: David Vitter dodged rumored challenges from Suzanne Terrell, Tony Perkins, and John Cooksey, but his luck may yet run out. Retired Lt. General Russel Honore, who has a high profile from his role in leading forces tasked with rescuing Katrina victims, says he’s leaning toward running in the GOP primary. Honore, a Creole African-American who lives near Baton Rouge, says he’s been a Republican since the Reagan era. A tough primary might be just what we need to soften up Vitter before loosing Charlie Melancon on him.

MA-Sen: The Massachusetts Secretary of State says that Gov. Deval Patrick has two choices as to the timing of the special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat: A Dec. 8 primary and a Jan. 19 general, or a Dec. 15 primary and a Jan. 26 general. (D)

NV-Sen: If this is meaningful, and not just cloud talk — that Harry Reid is going on record as saying health care reform must contain a public option, which moves us that much closer since (as best as I can tell) he’s the person with primary responsibility for how to merge the (good) HELP and (probably crappy) Finance Committee bills into one — we may have Danny Tarkanian and Susan Lowden to thank for passage of a public option. Facing suddenly perilous re-election prospects in the polls, Reid may be realizing that he’s going to need strong on-the-ground union support to stay in office in 2010, and that he’s not getting anything but tepid support from them without a decent reform package.

AR-Gov: There was a second phase to PPP’s Arkansas poll that showed Blanche Lincoln looking weak for re-election, with some details about the 2010 gubernatorial race. If there’s one governor in the country who doesn’t have much to worry about it, it’s Democrat Mike Beebe, who has 63/17 approvals and beats prospective GOP challenger state Rep. Allen Kerr 55-24.

AZ-Gov: Arizona’s Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, still getting her feet wet in the gube office, says that she’s “leaning toward” running for a full term in 2010. Despite having a rough time with the state legislator with her proposed tax increases, Brewer says that she “loves being governor, and I love campaigning”. (J)

GA-Gov: Rep. Nathan Deal doesn’t seem to be getting much traction in the Georgia Governor’s race, but now there are some nasty allegations out that may further dim whatever luster he once had. Apparently he intervened with Georgia state officials, lobbying them to preserve an obscure state program on inspection of rebuilt salvaged vehicles. Deal owns co-owns a salvage company that provides the location for these inspections, a company from which he personally earns up to $150,000 a year. Deal personally lobbied the state Revenue Commissioner against opening the program up to competitors instead of preserving his monopoly.

SC-Gov: State lawmakers are apparently getting ready to hold a special session of the legislature to impeach and remove Gov. Mark Sanford. Meanwhile, an Insider Advantage poll says 50% of South Carolinians think Sanford should resign. (D)

IA-05, IA-Gov: Rep. Steve King has ruled out a run for Governor and will run for re-election to the House again. While having been mentioned as a possible candidate earlier in the year, shortly after gay marriage was legalized in Iowa, he hadn’t shown much interest lately. Looks like it’s Terry Branstad (who’s still making up his mind) or bust for the Iowa GOP.

IL-14: Rotta the Huttlet Ethan Hastert won’t have the GOP primary to himself in his attempt to revenge the Hutt Hastert family name. Mark Vargas, a former Dept. of Defense official in Iraq, former Kane County Young Republicans chair, and briefly, an aide in the elder Hastert’s district office, said he’ll run too.

MT-AL: Best wishes for a speedy recovery for Rep. Denny Rehberg, who is listed in stable condition after being injured in a boating accident on Flathead Lake at some point between 10 pm and midnight last night.

NC-08: Republicans finally have a candidate to challenge freshman Democrat Larry Kissell this year, but it’s not anyone with a track record of electoral success. Retired Army Col. Lou Huddleston, who won 38% of the vote in an unsuccessful state House campaign last year, announced yesterday that he’ll seek the GOP nomination to challenge Kissell just a week after ex-Rep. Robin Hayes and former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory passed on the race. Republicans seem to hope that Huddleston, who is African-American, will chip some support away from Kissell in the district’s sizable black community. Good luck with that. (J)

ND-AL: A Republican has stepped forward to take on entrenched Blue Dog Earl Pomeroy in North Dakota. Paul Schaffner currently is an insurance salesperson and has no electoral experience, but may have some residual name rec from his stints as football player at NDSU and assistant coach at local Jamestown College and Univ. of Mary.

NYC-Mayor: SurveyUSA has a new poll of the Democratic primaries in New York City, which closely match the Quinnipiac findings earlier this week. For the Dem nod in the mayoral race, Comptroller William Thompson leads city councilor Tony Avella, 48-13. Ex-Public Advocate and former mayoral candidate Mark Green has a big lead at 38% in the Public Advocate primary.  City councilor Melinda Katz leads the Comptroller field at 27%.

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.

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