Have any predictions for tonight? Please share with us in the comments.
Polls close at 7 pm ET.
Have any predictions for tonight? Please share with us in the comments.
Polls close at 7 pm ET.
(Note: The content of this post was written entirely by DavidNYC.)
Travis Childers (D-inc): 42 (51)
Alan Nunnelee (R): 50 (42)
Nunnelee favorables: 44/8. Childers favorables: 49/30. Obama approval: 36%.
• CA-Sen, CA-Gov: SurveyUSA (4/19-21, likely voters):
Tom Campbell (R): 34
Carly Fiorina (R): 27
Chuck DeVore (R): 14
Tim Kalemkarian (R): 3
Meg Whitman (R): 49
Steve Poizner (R): 27
Others (R): 9
Jerry Brown (D): 63
Richard Aguirre (D): 6
Lowell Darling (D): 6
Peter Schurman (D): 1
Others (D): 6
Undecided (D): 18
It’s nice to see SurveyUSA getting into the game in California (although this poll is primaries only); they find, as did Capital Weekly yesterday, that Meg Whitman’s big lead over Steve Poizner is dissipating. However, with only a few weeks left until early voting begins (on May 10), it seems unlikely Poizner will be able to catch up all the way. Unlike Capital Weekly, though, they find, like most pollsters, that Tom Campbell’s lead over Carly Fiorina in the Senate primary is down in the single-digits. And apparently Jerry Brown has some primary opposition. Who knew? Peter Schurman is one of the founders of MoveOn.org, who launched a last-minute candidacy, but his lack of name recognition seems to relegate him behind some other no-names who at least have more interesting-sounding names (Lowell Darling?).
• FL-Sen: Awwwwwk-ward. George LeMieux is Charlie Crist’s former chief of staff and his hand-installed seat-warmer in the Senate seat that Crist assumed was his for the taking. But now, LeMieux is weighing whether he’ll have to say that he’ll endorse Marco Rubio for the seat if Crist pulls the trigger on his anticipated independent bid. LeMieux is reportedly interested in a 2012 Senate bid against Bill Nelson, and unless he too plans to take the indie route, can’t afford to anger the GOP rabble. PPP’s Tom Jensen takes a look at LeMieux and finds that, with his 13/33 approval (including 15/29 among Republicans), he isn’t likely to be a viable 2012 candidate regardless of how he plays his cards next week.
• KY-Sen: It looks like the story about Dan Mongiardo’s housing stipend may have some legs to it. It was revealed a few weeks ago that Mongiardo was living with his in-laws in Frankfort but still accepting the housing stipend that comes with his job, but now the news is that he used his $30K/yr. housing allowance to buy a Frankfort-area farm where he didn’t live but that, in 2003, he looked into trying to develop as a subdivision. There’s also a last-minute hit on the Republican side of the race, as Trey Grayson filed complaints with a variety of agencies alleging that Rand Paul hasn’t been paying the proper withholding taxes on some of his campaign staff. (They’re listed as “independent contractors,” which means there’s no withholding, but it’s doubtful they meet the legal criteria for being independent contractors.)
• LA-Sen: Local Democrats are asking for federal investigation into allegations that David Vitter threatened to pull federal funds to the
(private) University of New Orleans if it allowed Charlie Melancon to speak at a Democratic committee meeting scheduled on campus on April 10. The meeting was subsequently canceled.
• NV-Sen: There’s a debate among the Republican candidates for Senate in Reno tonight; it’s the first major public appearance for Sue Lowden after the chickens-for-care fiasco, so it’ll be interesting to see whether her opponents shower her with derision or if they try to outflank her on the right by throwing even more white meat to the base. Here’s a clue: one of Lowden’s predecessors, former state party chair Chuck Muth, says “It is absolutely breathtaking at how badly the Lowden camp has mishandled the situation.”
• MI-Gov: Ordinarily Mitt Romney endorsements don’t get too much ink here, but this is an interesting one: he endorsed Rep. Peter Hoekstra for Michigan governor. This is relevant in a couple ways: one, Romney is the son of ex-Gov. George Romney and those are meaningful connections, seeing how he fared well in the Michigan primary in 2008, so it carries some weight. And two, if Romney is going to try to be the moderate, sane guy in the 2012 GOP primary, you’d think he’d find a different way to show it than by endorsing the hard-right, strident Hoekstra.
• MN-Gov: The DFL endorsing convention in Minnesota is tomorrow, and the main event is who gets the gubernatorial endorsement… which, given the big crowd, could require many ballots to decide. Six Dems are still left contesting the nomination: Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak, state House speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher (considered the two frontrunners, based on the precinct-level straw polling), state Sen. John Marty, state Reps. Tom Rukavina and Paul Thissen, and former state Rep. Matt Entenza. Former Sen. Mark Dayton and Ramsey Co. DA Susan Gaertner are also running, but plan to contest the primary no matter what and therefore aren’t bothering with seeking the endorsement. (Entenza also plans to be in the primary no matter what, which means he’s unlikely to get any support at the convention, but still is participating at the convention.)
• NY-Gov: Remind me again why Suffolk Co. Exec Steve Levy is running for Governor as a Republican? I suppose it was because state chair Ed Cox promised him a smooth ride to the nomination, but if the endorsements of the various county-level GOP chairs around New York is any indication, it looks like Cox sold Levy a bill of goods. Levy has been endorsed by only 14 county chairs, with a weighted vote of 26%, while ex-Rep. Rick Lazio has the backing of 27 county chairs with a weighted vote of 51%. 19 chairs remain neutral.
• OH-Gov: When we talk about the money chase, it’s usually focused on the federal races, but Ohio is a good reminder that the money pours into the state-level races too. Big money is at work in the Buckeye State, as incumbent Dem Ted Strickland raised $1.6 million last quarter and has $7.1 million CoH, while GOP challenger John Kasich raised $2 million and has $5.1 million CoH. Even the downballot races aren’t immune: GOP SoS candidate Jon Husted has $2 million in the bank (dwarfing Democratic opponent Maryellen O’Shaughnessy), while Democratic Auditor candidate David Pepper is sitting on $785K, giving him a huge advantage over his GOP opponents.
• FL-08: Former state Sen. Daniel Webster (who’s known for not following through on his intentions to run for things) decided to go through with his threats to run against Rep. Alan Grayson, getting a late start on the race. Webster probably could have cleared the field if he’d gotten in the first time around, half a year ago, but now the various primary opponents (state Rep. Kurt Kelly, Bruce O’Donoghue, Todd Long) say they won’t get out of the way. Webster comes to the table with two big-name endorsements, though, which might help him make up some fundraising ground quickly: Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee. The local GOP establishment is fractured, though, as Mel Martinez is sticking with his ally O’Donoghue.
• GA-04: Rep. Hank Johnson, facing a competitive Dem primary with Vernon Jones, got a big endorsement today, from one Barack Obama. (Johnson was the first member of the Georgia delegation to endorse Obama.) With Obama having won the black-majority 4th by a 79-21 margin, it’s an endorsement I’d expect that Johnson welcomes.
• NM-02: Apparently there had been some goading of Democratic freshman Rep. Harry Teague from Republican quarters for him to release his internal polling, which he hasn’t done previously. Ask and ye shall receive… Hamilton Campaigns finds Teague leading ex-Rep. Steve Pearce 47-46. That compares favorably to Teague’s internal from August, which, unsurprisingly, he didn’t release; there, Teague trailed 52-42. The one public poll of the race, from PPP in February, gave Pearce a 43-41 lead.
• NY-19: Here’s a weird story out of the GOP primary in the 19th, where ophthalmologist Nan Hayworth is already brandishing lots of money. Apparently there’s a phantom candidate out there by the name of Kristia Cavere, who’s claiming to have raised $300K in a matter of weeks and is now sitting on $400K CoH. That can’t be verified, however, because Cavere’s camp hasn’t filed an FEC Q1 report yet, though, and her spokesperson pointed to a loophole that doesn’t really exist. Furthermore, no one really seems sure what the 31-year-old Cavere does, other than having recently gotten a master’s degree, or how she’d have access to such money.
• OH-13: This is one of those “huh?” moments that makes you check the calendar to see what century you’re living in. The Medina County GOP sent out a mailer with a bullet-pointed list of to-do items. One of them was “Let’s take Betty Sutton out of the House and put her back in the kitchen!”
• Election Results: With 99.1% of precincts reporting (97 remain, apparently mostly in Cook County), both sides of the governor’s race remain too close to call. Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn has declared victory, sitting on a 7,000 vote lead (50.4%-49.6%) and with the remaining precincts in Cook County likely to go his way, although Dan Hynes hasn’t conceded yet. On the GOP side, we’re looking most likely at a recount, as state Sen. Bill Brady leads fellow state Sen. Kirk Dillard currently by a 751-vote margin (20.3%-20.2%), as they both squeaked past the two presumed frontrunners, former state party chair Andy McKenna and former AG Jim Ryan. The fact that the remaining votes are from Cook County, however, may be poised to help the moderate suburbs-based Dillard, though, rather than the conservative downstate Brady, so this race seems likely to get even closer (Nate Silver actually projects a one-vote victory for Brady based on broader Cook County trends). Recount procedures make it sound like a protracted process – an initial vote tally won’t happen until March 5, and then the process “could take months to complete” – giving Quinn a big headstart on whoever the GOP victor turns out to be.
As expected, Alexi Giannoulias and Mark Kirk are the Senate nominees, although both won their races with somewhat underwhelming percentages (39% for Giannoulias, and 57% for Kirk, who could have been in more trouble had the teabagging right coalesced behind one person in particular). Conservatives did triumph over establishment candidates in several GOP House primaries, though, as Bob Dold! beat state Rep. Beth Coulson in the 10th, and state Sen. Randy Hultgren beat Ethan Hastert in the 14th.
In Florida, as expected, state Sen. Ted Deutch easily won the special election primary to succeed Rep. Robert Wexler, beating former Broward Co. Commissioner Ben Graber 86-15. It looks like he’ll face Republican Ed Lynch (the 2008 nominee), who defeated Joe Budd by only 46 votes (but with only 8,000 total GOP votes, that’s outside the margin for an automatic recount). And here’s a surprise out of Kentucky: Democrats picked up a state House seat in the dark-red HD 24, which was recently vacated when Republican Jimmy Higdon got promoted to the state Senate in another special election. Terry Mills won, 54-46, based on an overwhelming edge (89-11) on his home turf of Marion County, reminding us that, at the end of the day, all politics is local.
Finally, last night was caucus and straw poll night in Minnesota. Only 80% of precincts have reported yet – I guess they go to bed early in Minnesota – but the straw poll in the Democratic governor’s race points to only a lot of chaos at this point. Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak led with 21.8%, followed closely by state House speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher at 20.2%. However, “uncommitted” is a solid 3rd at 15%, there are five other candidates who managed to break 5% (John Marty, Tom Rukavina, Paul Thissen, Matt Entenza, and Tom Bakk), and ex-Sen. Mark Dayton doesn’t even seem to be bothering with the whole process, planning on going straight to the primary, so there’s not much clarity on how the field will shake out. The GOP field seems much more clear-cut, where former state House minority leader Marty Seifert beat state Rep. Tom Emmer 50-39, with the rest of the field in the low single digits.
• AZ-Sen: With the imminent entry of ex-Rep. J.D. Hayworth into the Republican primary against John McCain, we’re already looking at dueling internal polls. McCain offers up a poll from POS, giving him a 59-30 lead over Hayworth. Hayworth has his own poll from McLaughlin, which, not surprisingly, shows him much closer, trailing 49-33.
• FL-Sen: Kendrick Meek, NASCAR dad? Meek plans to call attention to his campaign by shelling out to be the lead sponsor of Mike Wallace’s car in an upcoming race at Daytona.
• IN-Sen: With the surprising announcement by ex-Sen. Dan Coats last night that he’s interested in a comeback and would start seeking the signatures to qualify for the Indiana GOP nod, the oppo pretty much writes itself. For starters, Coats can’t even sign his own petition – he’s been a registered voter in Virginia for more than a decade, not Indiana. And what’s he been doing for much of that time? Lobbying… for King & Spalding, on behalf of nice people like the Carlyle Group and Bank of America. The Plum Line also points to Coats accusing Bill Clinton of “wagging the dog” when he started going after al-Qaeda in 1998, allegedly to distract the press from his peccadilloes… and we all know how that turned out.
• ND-Sen: Democrats have, well, somebody ready to go if ex-AG Heidi Heitkamp doesn’t get into the Senate race to replace retiring Byron Dorgan. State Sen. Tracy Potter, who represents Bismarck, will be announcing his candidacy on Friday. Other potential candidates seem to be holding back, waiting to see what Heitkamp does; she’s been strangely silent since initially expressing interest in the seat last month.
• NY-Sen-B: Quinnipiac’s first poll of the New York Senate race after the Harold Ford Jr. boomlet began finds, well, pretty much what everyone else has found: Kirsten Gillibrand beats him by a wide margin but doesn’t break 50%. Gillibrand beats 36-18, with Jonathan Tasini at 4. Quinnipiac also tests general election matchups against Republican port commissioner Bruce Blakeman (they don’t even bother testing ex-Gov. George Pataki, who doesn’t seem to be making any moves to get into the race). Gillibrand beats Blakeman 44-27, and Ford beats him 35-26. Gillibrand is slowly gaining some more name rec, up to a 42/28 approval. Blakeman may not have the GOP primary to himself, though, as a strange blast from the past is re-emerging to say he’s interested in the race: ex-Rep. Joseph DioGuardi. In case the name doesn’t ring a bell, DioGuardi served in the House representing Westchester County from 1984 to 1988, when he was defeated by Nita Lowey.
• NY-Gov: The same Quinnipiac sample looks at the governor’s race, finding huge approval gaps between Andrew Cuomo (54/16) and David Paterson (34/49). Cuomo wins the Democratic primary 55-23. Cuomo beats Rick Lazio 57-25, while Lazio manages to get past Paterson 40-39. There’s also one other bit of good news for Cuomo (who’s seemed gunshy about taking on Paterson, perhaps out of bad memories of his race against Carl McCall). The poll asked if his candidacy would be “racially divisive,” and respondents answered “no” by an 80-14 margin, including 73-22 among African-Americans. Marist (pdf) also just released the gubernatorial half of its recent Senate poll, finding generally similar numbers. Cuomo wins the primary 70-23. Cuomo beats Lazio 64-27, while Lazio edges Paterson 46-43.
• TN-Gov: Add one more candidate running for higher office who’s publicly copped to being birther-curious: Lt. Gov. (and GOP gubernatorial candidate) Ron Ramsey. Not having made much of an impression in terms of polling (where Rep. Zach Wamp has an edge) or fundraising (where Knoxville mayor Bill Haslam is cleaning up), this seems like the most attention Ramsey has gotten so far.
• TX-Gov: Here’s more evidence that the Texas GOP gubernatorial primary may be headed for a runoff: the new Rasmussen poll of the primary doesn’t have anyone coming even close to 50%. Incumbent Rick Perry leads at 44, with Kay Bailey Hutchison lagging at 29, and Paulist insurgent Debra Medina all the way up to 14 on the strength of some buzz coming out of her debate performances. KBH may be counting on a runoff as her only way left to salvage this race, but somehow it seems like, in a runoff, Medina votes are a lot likely to gravitate toward the secession-invoking Perry rather than consummate DC insider Hutchison. In the general, all three defeat Democratic ex-Houston mayor Bill White, although, as one would expect, KBH puts up the biggest margin: 49-36. Perry wins 48-39, while Medina wins by only 41-38.
• AR-02: One of the non-Tim Griffin candidates in the Republican field, David Meeks, dropped out of the race today, probably realizing he was in over his head with the kind of attention open seat races get. One other candidate, restaurant owner Scott Wallace remains, and he may well carry the teabagger flag against Beltway creature Griffin. Realizing the best way to win this is by painting Griffin as insider, the DCCC is turning their attention to Griffin’s past as GOP behind-the-scenes fixer, calling attention to his efforts at voter suppression. Over in the diaries, ARDem takes a look at the developing Dem field, which currently contains state House speaker Robbie Wills, liberal state Sen. Joyce Elliott, and retiring Vic Snyder’s chief of staff, David Boling. It won’t contain, however, Little Rock mayor Mike Stodola, or Public Service Commissioner Paul Suskie, who had seemed to be laying the groundwork for a run.
• CA-12, CA-AG: False alarm: Rep. Jackie Speier is staying put in the 12th District, where’s she been in place for only a couple years. Rumors that she was about to move over to the state AG’s race had many of the state legislators on the Peninsula angling to replace her.
• GA-04: In the wake of an internal from Rep. Hank Johnson showing him crushing his three opponents in the Dem primary in this solidly-blue district in Atlanta’s suburbs, one of those opponents got out of the way: DeKalb Co. Commissioner Lee May. May is an ally of former DeKalb Co. CEO Vernon Jones, so it’s possible that he’s getting out of the way primarily so that Jones can get a bigger share of the non-Johnson vote.
• MA-10: With the general sense that this is the most vulnerable district in Massachusetts (as seen with its votes in the Senate special election last month), Republicans are taking more of an interest in challenging Rep. William Delahunt in this usually-ignored seat. Former state treasurer Joe Malone is probably the biggest name to express interest, but at least one other credible contender, state Rep. Jeffrey Perry, is already announcing his candidacy. State Sen. Robert Hedlund is also expressing some interest.
• NJ-07: One big hole in the Dems’ recruitment schedule has been the 7th, narrowly won by freshman GOP Rep. Leonard Lance in 2008. They’ve managed to fill the gap with Ed Potosnak, who’s elevated slightly above Some Dude status by the full Rolodex he brings with him after working for a number of years as a Hill staffer for Rep. Mike Honda.
• PA-11: Lackawanna Co. Commissioner Corey O’Brien has a compelling argument for why he should win the primary in the 11th: he says Rep. Paul Kanjorski has “zero” chance of defeating Republican Lou Barletta in their third face-off, citing Kanjorski’s low approval ratings. O’Brien has been fundraising well ($180K last quarter, not far from Kanjo’s $237K) and recently hit the airwaves with a small cable buy for his first TV spot.
• CA-LG: Is San Francisco mayor (and gubernatorial race dropout) Gavin Newsom actually thinking about a run for the dead-end job that is California’s #2? Officially he’s not interested, but he hasn’t said no, and a new public poll from Tulchin gives him a big lead in a hypothetical LG primary, with Newsom at 33 against the two declared candidates: Los Angeles city councilor Janice Hahn at 17 and state Sen. Dean Florez at 15. Meanwhile, the state Senate this week takes up the issue of filling the current vacancy in the LG’s chair (vacated by now-Rep. John Garamendi); there’s actually talk of blocking Ahnold appointee state Sen. Abel Maldonado, despite that getting the moderate Republican Maldonado out of his seat would open up his Dem-leaning district for a takeover and help push the Dem edge in the Senate toward the magic 2/3s mark.
• CT-AG: The story of Susan Bysiewicz just gets stranger and stranger; she decided that rather than run for governor, she’d prefer to run for AG, but now the job’s current occupant, Richard Blumenthal, says that possibly she can’t. An AG opinion interprets state law requiring ten years of legal practice as unclear and urges a declaratory ruling on Bysiewicz’s case from a court. Bysiewicz, for her part, said she won’t seek the declaratory ruling and is simply plowing ahead with her AG campaign, although it’s possible one of the other candidates in the race might force the issue in the courts.
• Polltopia: The skepticism toward those SurveyUSA polls commissioned by Firedoglake continues to grow, this time from political science professor and frequent Pollster.com contributor Alan Abramowitz. His gravest concerns are with the leading questions in the issues portions of the poll on health care reform, but he also points to serious problems with the samples’ compositions that we were quick to flag. He observes that the samples deeply underrepresent younger votes, and that the youth subsets are so small that there’s no good way to “weight up” younger voters to a more proportionate level.
• AZ-Sen: CQ has an interesting tidbit about Rodney Glassman, the young Tucson city councilor who’s the top Democrat in the Senate race right now. The general sense has been that it would be good to have someone with some self-funding capacity to be able to jump in and make a race of it in case the bombastic J.D. Hayworth somehow takes out John McCain in the GOP primary… and it turns out that Glassman has been that guy all along. He’s been capping contributions to his campaign at $20 for now, but the Dems’ state chair says Glassman can step in with his own money in case things heat up.
• IA-Sen: Rasmussen takes a pretty dim view of the odds for Roxanne Conlin (or any other Democrat) against Chuck Grassley in 2010. They see Conlin, a wealthy attorney last seen losing the 1982 gubernatorial race, losing to Grassley 59-31. The other less-known Dems, both veterans of the state legislature, fare only slightly worse: Bob Krause loses 59-26, and Tom Fiegen loses 61-25.
• IL-Sen: One last component from Rasmussen’s poll of the Illinois primary fields dribbled in late yesterday: a look at the Republican Senate field. Like other pollsters, they find Rep. Mark Kirk way ahead of his nearest competitor in the GOP primary, real estate developer Patrick Hughes. Unlike others, though, they at least see Hughes in the double-digits, losing 53-18 (with 12 for “some other candidate”).
• NC-Sen: Rasmussen also examines North Carolina, and while they find Republican incumbent Richard Burr with a significant lead, he’s not quite in the safety zone. Burr leads Democratic SoS Elaine Marshall 47-37, and he leads former state Sen. Cal Cunningham 50-34. Rasmussen also finds Burr’s knowns to be much, much higher than anyone else has found them: he has an approval of 56/32, with only 12% not sure (whereas most pollsters find his unknowns to be well into the 30s).
• NY-Sen-B: After rumors of his renewed interest in challenging Kirsten Gillibrand in a Democratic Senate primary, Rep. Steve Israel sounds like he’s backing off. His chief of staff says “definitively that he’s not running,” although there’s no comment from Israel himself. Israel, however, did commission another poll in recent weeks to take the race’s temperature, so it’s clear his interest was briefly re-piqued.
• AK-Gov: Former state House speaker John Harris had been a rumored candidate to oppose appointed Gov. Sean Parnell in the GOP gubernatorial primary, but has made clear that he won’t run and will run for re-election to the House instead. Another former speaker, Ralph Samuels, was also in the race, leaving Harris little room to grab whatever anti-Parnell vote might be out there. (A PPP poll finds the uncontroversial Parnell with a 58/19 approval, so it’d be an uphill run anyway.)
• FL-Gov: Rasmussen has new numbers out for the Governor’s race in Florida, and they’re very similar to what Quinnipiac released yesterday. Republican AG Bill McCollum leads Democratic CFO Alex Sink 46-35. (Presumably, this means they’ll have Senate numbers shortly.)
• MI-Gov: We’re getting strange signals out of the Virg Bernero camp. The Lansing mayor sent out an e-mail soliciting interns for his gubernatorial run (which would be a strange way of announcing your run, which he hasn’t done so far, although he does have an exploratory committee up). It was quickly followed up with word that Bernero hasn’t decided whether or not to run, and it should have said interns sought for his exploratory committee only.
• NY-Gov: Here’s a sign of how unenthused the state GOP is with the idea of ex-Rep. Rick Lazio as their standard-bearer for the Governor’s race: they’re actually sitting down with Suffolk Co. Exec Steven Levy, who has recently expressed some interest in the race, to discuss the possibility of him running as a Republican. Levy, of course, is a Democrat, although a rather conservative one (particularly on immigration issues) and one who received a Republican cross-endorsement during his barely-contested 2007 re-election. The crux of the matter may be that Levy has a $4 million warchest available, while Lazio is sitting on $637K. State party chair Ed Cox offered this stirring endorsement of Lazio on Wednesday: “At the moment, he is the candidate.”
• WI-Gov: One final Rasmussen poll to look at today: it’s the other half of their Wisconsin sample, the one that found 68-year-old ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson leading Russ Feingold in a hypothetical match. They find Republican ex-Rep. Mark Neumann leading Democratic Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett 42-38, while Milwaukee Co. Exec Scott Walker leads Barrett 48-38 (again, a much more Republican-favorable view of the race than other pollsters have seen it).
• AR-01: Dems won’t be getting their most-desired candidate to succeed Marion Berry in the 1st: AG Dustin McDaniel already announced that he won’t run. Possible Dem candidates sniffing out the race, though, including state Rep. Keith Ingram, state Sen. Robert Thompson, and former state party chair Jason Willett. CQ also mentions former state Rep. Chris Thyer, former state Sen. Tim Woolridge, and Berry’s CoS, Chad Causey.
• AR-02: In the 2nd, Democratic state House speaker Robbie Wills seems to be getting into the race to succeed Vic Snyder. State Sen. Shane Broadway has also expressed interest, but says that he’ll head for the Lt. Governor race if LG Bill Halter gets into the field in the 2nd. State Public Service Commissioner Paul Suskie is already putting campaign infrastructure into place, and a potential wild card people are eyeing is Little Rock’s mayor, Mark Stodola.
• CA-19: Smackdown in the Central Valley! Retiring Republican Rep. George Radanovich lashed out at CA-11 ex-Rep. Richard Pombo, seeking to replace him, saying that he should have “run in his own district.” Radanovich backs state Sen. Jeff Denham in the GOP primary, and was seeking to quash Pombo claims that Radanovich wouldn’t have endorsed Denham had he known Pombo was going to run. In other news, Rep. Tom McClintock at some point endorsed Pombo, finally making it clear that McClintock, used to running for something new every two years, wasn’t going to reflexively abandon his district and run in the 19th instead.
• GA-04: A primary is the only way to dislodge Rep. Hank Johnson in this safely blue district, and it looks like Johnson is poised to keep his seat even though he’s drawn several prominent opponents (at least some of whom would be coming at him from the right), former DeKalb Co. CEO Vernon Jones and DeKalb Co. Commissioners Connie Stokes and Lee May. Johnson has an internal poll from Lake Associates out showing him with 47% of the vote, leading Jones at 19, Stokes at 12, and May at 5.
• KY-06: Just days after attorney Andy Barr was named to the bottom tier of the NRCC’s “Young Guns” program, another Republican has jumped into the fray to take on Rep. Ben Chandler in this Republican-leaning district. Mike Templeman retired last year as CEO of Energy Coal Resources, and is touting his business experience.
• NH-02: Ex-Rep. Charlie Bass is touting an internal poll that has him in commanding position, at least as far as the GOP primary is concerned. He leads the 2008 Republican candidate, talk radio host Jennifer Horn, by a 42-19 margin (with 4 for state Rep. Bob Giuda). No numbers for the general election in this Dem-leaning district, however.
• NY-01: Rep. Tim Bishop is pushing back against, well, everything: he said, as far as retirement rumors go, he’s “sure as hell” not going to back down from a fight now. He also announced strong fundraising (a $378K quarter) in the face of wealthy opposition, Randy Altschuler and George Demos. (There are also rumors that Chris Cox, the grandson of Richard Nixon and son of new state GOP chair Ed Cox, may get into the race.) Bishop’s camp also alluded to (although didn’t specifically release) an internal poll showing him over the 50% mark against his Republican opponents, in contrast to other recent polls.
• PA-03: I wouldn’t have expected freshman Kathy Dahlkemper’s 3rd to be only 4th or 5th among Pennsylvania Democratic seats in terms of vulnerability this year, but them’s the breaks. The GOP hasn’t found a top-tier recruit here yet, but another Republican got into the race: Mike Kelly, a car dealer from the suburban Pittsburgh part of the district. It sounds like he’ll be able to partly fund his own way, which will help him compete against fellow businessman Paul Huber.
• PA-10: Former US Attorney Tom Marino finally announced his long-rumored bid against Rep. Chris Carney this week. While Marino seems imposing on paper, there are a number of problems here for him: for starters, Carney quickly used the December efforts of GOPers to recruit him to party-switch to boost his own bipartisan bona fides. Marino also faces questions over his relationship with Louis DeNaples, a developer who was the target of probes over links to organized crime, and particularly a casino license granted to him (where Marino was a reference on DeNaples’ gaming application). And a number of state legislators – at least in the far western part of the district where Malcolm Derk is from – are lining up behind Derk instead of Marino in the GOP primary. With chiropractor David Madeira, who’s been reaching out to the teabaggers, also in the race, even the primary won’t be an easy ride for Marino.
• PA-15: One more internal poll, this one not looking so good for Democrats. Republican Rep. Charlie Dent, in his first competitive race, well, ever, against Bethlehem mayor John Callahan, has a big edge in his own poll conducted by the Tarrance Group. The poll gives Dent a 53-27 lead, with 8 going to teabagging independent Jack Towne. The moderate Dent pulls in one-quarter of all Democratic voters.
• TN-08: He’s in like Flinn. George Flinn, that is: the official entry of the Shelby Co. Commissioner, who’s also a radiologist and radio station owner in his spare time, expanded the Republican field in the 8th. With two money-bags candidates already in the picture, physician Ron Kirkland and most prominently farmer Stephen Fincher, Republicans look poised to bleed each other badly in an expensive primary while state Sen. Roy Herron looks to have the Democratic field mostly to himself in this open seat race.
• VA-05: Another primary that’s getting out of control for the GOP is the one in the 5th, where there’s a backlog of die-hards each claiming to be the “true conservative” as opposed to establishment fave state Sen. Robert Hurt. Real estate investor Lawrence Verga seems to have had the most success at gaining the attention of the teabaggers (although Verga‘s spotty voting record can’t help his image much), but now rival real estate developer Jim McKelvey just slammed down half a million dollars on the table to up the ante. Even more delicious in terms of cat fud: McKelvey is also making threats that he’ll run as an independent if things don’t go his way in the primary. With right-winger Bradley Rees already running as a Tea Party-powered indie, there could be enough fracturing on the right to let vulnerable Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello have a shot at survival.
• VA-09: Here’s a seat that would have been a bear to defend in the event of a retirement, but where we got the final word that the incumbent is staying put. Rep. Rick Boucher confirmed he’ll go for a 15th term in the Fightin’ 9th in southwestern Virginia. He’s still not out of the woods, as Republican state House majority leader Morgan Griffith may get in the race, although for now Boucher doesn’t have an opponent.
• WA-03: This caught me, and seemingly a lot of other people, by surprise: Gov. Chris Gregoire weighed into the Democratic primary in the 3rd with an endorsement, and she bypassed the two sitting state legislators in the field to go for ex-state Rep. Denny Heck, suggesting that rumors that he’s got a lot of behind-the-scenes establishment support are quite true. Heck, who subsequently founded a public affairs cable channel and did a lot of successful for-profit investing as well, can spend a lot of his own money on the race, which is probably why he’s getting the establishment backing despite having been out of office for decades.
• WV-01: After a rather protracted four-year investigation, the Justice Dept. ended its investigation of Rep. Alan Mollohan over earmark steering, removing the ethical cloud from over his head. Mollohan had been on retirement watch lists, in the face of several decent Republican challengers, but he recently filed for re-election and now his opponents have less ammo to use against him.
• OH-SoS: Progressives have been dismayed that socially conservative state Rep. Jennifer Garrison is the only Democratic option in the Secretary of State primary anymore, but that sounds like it’s about to change. Franklin Co. Clerk of Courts (and former Columbus city councilor) Maryellen O’Shaugnessy is rumored to be about to enter the race, and it also sounds like she’ll have the backing of the state party’s power brokers, starting at the top with Gov. Ted Strickland (who can’t afford to have progressives stay home in 2010, as he needs them to save his own bacon in what promises to be a tight gubernatorial race).
• Census: New York state Senate Democrats are proposing changes in the way that prison inmates are counted. They’d like for them to be considered residents of the district where their last known address was, not where they’re currently incarcerated. It’s actually a very important issue, considering that there are more than 58,000 state prisoners in New York, most of whom are from cities but are currently in rural Upstate, and it could tip the balance significantly in redistricting the state Senate. In other Census news, Robert Groves talked extensively to Pew about increasing participation, tracking turnout, and overcoming language barriers.
• Humor: Finally, here’s a cartoon that SSP fans are uniquely positioned to enjoy.
Here’s a nice new piece of ridiculousness for you to add to the pile:
Former DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer Vernon Jones (D) is set to kick off his primary challenge to sophomore Rep. Hank Johnson (D) in Georgia’s 4th district.
According to a release from Jones camp, the official campaign announcement will take place at 2 p.m. Friday afternoon in Decatur, Ga.
Jones, as you may recall, is a two-time Bush voter with some bad baggage who was most recently seen losing the 2008 Democratic Senatorial primary to Jim Martin. Jones may not be the only candidate in the race; DeKalb County Commissioners Lee May and Connie Stokes have also made noises about running, but it remains to be seen whether they’ll defer to Jones, their former colleague.
RaceTracker Wiki: GA-04
• CT-Sen: CQ looks at how Rob Simmons has been consolidating all of the establishment support in the GOP primary, despite it being a crowded field: he just got the endorsement of state House #2 GOPer (and former state party chair) Bill Hamzy. He’s also endorsed by state House minority leader Larry Cafero and 20 members of the state party’s central committee. Meanwhile, looking all the way ahead to 2012, Alec Baldwin backed down from earlier provocative statements, saying that he doesn’t actually intend to run against Joe Lieberman.
• FL-Sen: Another indicator of a bumpy ride for Charlie Crist in the upcoming primary: he lost a straw poll vote among the Bay County GOP to Marco Rubio by the lopsided margin of 23 to 2. Bear in mind, of course, this is the hardcore party activist faithful in one of the state’s most conservative counties in the Panhandle.
• UT-Sen: The Club for Growth has leaped into the circular firing squad in Utah, with a letter-writing campaign targeted at the 3,000+ delegates going to the state GOP’s nominating convention next year. AG Mark Shurtleff and potentially Rep. Jason Chaffetz consider taking out long-time Sen. Bob Bennett, who’s only very conservative and not super-duper-extra conserative.
• CA-Gov: Two separate polls (from little-known local pollsters) of the Democratic gubernatorial primary show San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom way behind ex-Gov. Jerry Brown. Moore Methods finds Brown leading Newson 49-20 statewide among Dems, while David Binder polled only Dems in San Francisco, where Newsom’s support should be its strongest, but finds Brown leading 51-34 even there, with Newsom winning only among the 30-and-under set.
• NJ-Gov: There’s a weird feeling in the air that things may actually be starting to turn around in New Jersey… the main question remains whether Jon Corzine got himself into too deep a hole to dig all the way out in time. A lot of that has to do with the ethical malfeasance spotlight swinging back toward Chris Christie, as possible Hatch Act violations and unreported loans tarnish him, stories that dominated a disastrous Christie conference call with reporters yesterday despite Christie’s intent of using the call to tar Corzine with the Wall Street brush.
But most significantly, there was the poll that came out yesterday from Republican internal pollster Neighborhood Strategies that showed Christie up only 39%-36% over Corzine among “definite” voters, with Chris Daggett at 6% (and 37-35-6 among likely voters). Even more ominously for Christie, the poll found that the undecided electorate “skews heavily to the left.” One big caveat, though: this isn’t Christie’s pollster, but rather a firm run by Rick Shaftan that worked for Christie’s ultra-conservative primary rival Steve Lonegan (it also has a big fat margin of error). Does the Lonegan camp still have an axe to grind? But if they do, how would releasing a juiced poll long after the primary help them out?
• NY-Gov: Tea leaf readers think that Rudy Giuliani is moving closer to running for Governor in 2010. Rudy says he’ll decide within the next 30 to 60 days, but some see his involvement in the state GOP party chair imbroglio as evidence of his desire to have the party machinery working smoothly behind him if he runs. Rudy apparently successfully talked state party chair Joseph Mondello into resigning yesterday, but he still has one more hurdle, steering key ally Henry Wojtaszek into the chairman position instead of the presmued frontrunner for the position, Ed Cox (who was a McCain backer in 2008). (Of course, Giuliani’s most daunting problem would be one he has no control over — getting the Democrats to not force David Paterson out to make way for Andrew Cuomo, who all polls show flattening Giuliani.)
• SC-Gov: The South Carolina GOP is back to talking about impeachment again at their legislative retreat next weekend, as Mark Sanford is at a bit of a low point again, thanks to disclosures about his abuses of state and private planes. Meanwhile, AG Henry McMaster made it official that he’s getting into the gubernatorial race for the GOP, McMaster launched his bid with a swipe at Sanford, saying there’s been too much dishonesty and scandal in the state.
• AL-05: Freshman Rep. Parker Griffith has announced he won’t be voting for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker again, saying she’s too divisive. Griffith is girding for a difficult first re-election in this R+12 district.
• CA-18: Republicans nailed down a challenger against Dennis Cardoza: Turlock Irrigation Board member Mike Berryhill. This Hispanic-majority district hasn’t seen a competitive race in a long time, but at D+4 isn’t exactly a slam dunk for Dems.
• GA-04: DeKalb County Commissioner Lee May is now considering a primary challenge to Rep. Hank Johnson, in this district that has seen its share of successful primary challenges recently (although both were against Cynthia McKinney). Based on his closeness with DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones, it seems like he’d be coming at the very liberal Johnson from the right.
• NE-02: Speaking of primary challenges from the right, here’s one in an unusual place: Nebraska’s 2nd, where Lee Terry is a reliably conservative vote (although he did vote in favor of TARP, and also famously tried to sell himself to Obama-Terry voters last year). Still, he’s facing a possible serious challenge from health care technology company president Matt Sakalosky, who seems to have the money to self-fund. Sakalosky just confirmed he’s in the race and has his first campaign event set for Saturday.
• OH-16: Calling all Arena Football fans! (All 2 of you!) Co-owner of the Columbus Destroyers (and former mayor of Akron suburb Wadsworth) Jim Renacci has filed to take on freshman Dem John Boccieri in the Canton-based R+4 district.
• TN-05: Daily Kos is bird-dogging Blue Dog Jim Cooper, and finds he’s got some mediocre numbers among the folks back home, with 47-41 favorables and a re-elect of 36% (with 41% consider someone else and 23% definitely replace). R2K also finds that he’d lose support among both Dems and independents if he opposed public option.
• TN-09: Mercurial Memphis mayor Willie Herenton says that he won’t, after all, run in the special election to succeed himself, caused by his resignation. Instead, he’ll focus on his primary challenge to Steve Cohen in the 9th, which was the point of his original resignation.
• KY-St. Sen.: There’s a big special election tonight in northeastern Kentucky, where a vacant state Senate seat will be filled. The two candidates are Democrat Robin Webb and Republican Jack Ditty, who are trying to replace GOPer Charlie Borders, who was appointed by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear to the Public Service Commission. Republicans currently control the Senate 20-16-1 (and this 1 vacancy).