• CA-Sen: Ex-Rep. Tom Campbell is getting an endorsement that may boost his cred with the socially conservative right: from the man who couldn’t even beat Gray Davis, Bill Simon. Simon hopes socially conservative voters will still take a look at Campbell’s fiscal credentials.
• IN-Sen: Retiring Evan Bayh hasn’t said anything specific about what he’s doing with his gigantic $13 million federal war chest. But a spokesperson gives some hints: “What he has said is that you can expect him to help the Democratic Senate nominee in Indiana and to help like-minded Democrats – people who want to get things done, who are practical and who want to reach out and forge principled compromises.”
• KY-Sen: Jack Conway is pointing out an important ideological fracture line, which seems to have gotten little media attention in the Democratic primary in the Bluegrass State. Conway says he supports the health care legislation passed yesterday, while Dan Mongiardo has previously said he’d “throw it out and start over.”
• NH-Sen: Speaking of HCR, Kelly Ayotte was quick to abandon her previous flavorless, position-less campaign and get on the “repeal!” bandwagon. With Paul Hodes having been a “yes” in the House, this may become one of the marquee issues in this race, and by extension, the battle for the Senate.
• NY-Sen-B (pdf): Siena has a new poll out of the Empire State which includes a couple head-to-heads in the Senate race. They just won’t let up on the George Pataki front, finding that he leads Gillibrand 45-39 in a hypothetical race, while Gillibrand leads actual candidate Bruce Blakeman 48-24. There are a couple other names on the “actual” candidate front they might want to try out instead — Joe DioGuardi and David Malpass — and now it looks like one more is poised to get in. Dan Senor apparently has enough Wall Street support behind him to go ahead and launch his bid. One other name who’s now saying she won’t run, though, is former Lt. Gov. and malfunctioning health insurer spokesbot Betsy McCaughey, who it turns out is backing Malpass.
• MI-Gov (pdf): It turns out there was a lot more meat to that Insider Michigan Politics/Marketing Resource Group poll than what got leaked on Friday. They also looked at the Democratic primary, finding state House speaker Andy Dillon in charge at 21, followed by Lansing mayor Virg Bernero at 9 and state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith at 6. They also did a whole bunch of general election permutations, all of which were won by the GOPers by suspiciously large margins (at least when compared with other recent polls): Mike Bouchard over Dillon 41-26, Mike Cox over Dillon 44-27, Peter Hoekstra over Dillon 43-27, Rick Snyder over Dillon 42-26, Bouchard over Bernero 45-23, Cox over Bernero 45-26, Hoekstra over Bernero 43-27, and Snyder over Bernero 44-24.
• NY-Gov (pdf): Naturally, Siena also has a gubernatorial half to its poll. They find newly-minted Republican Steve Levy’s entry to the field to be rather unwelcome: ex-Rep. Rick Lazio is beating him 45-16 in the GOP primary. Either way, Democratic AG Andrew Cuomo (with a 63/22 approval) seems to have little to worry about; in November, Cuomo beats Lazio and Libertarian candidate Warren Redlich 59-21-3, while beating Levy and Redlich 63-16-4.
• OH-Gov: John Kasich is still reaching out to teabagger nation as his core of backers, and consistent with that, he’s having Fox gabber Sean Hannity host a Cincinnati fundraiser for him on April 15. I sure hope Kasich gets a bigger cut of the proceeds than Hannity’s military charity recipients seem to.
• OR-Gov: The last big union left to endorse in the Democratic gubernatorial primary finally weighed in, and Oregon’s AFSCME went with ex-Gov. John Kitzhaber rather than ex-SoS Bill Bradbury, who’d gotten the teachers’ union endorsements. The AFSCME also endorsed newly appointed Treasurer Ted Wheeler in his primary bid against state Sen. Rick Metsger, and also, in an unusual step, endorsed two Republican state Reps. in rural eastern Oregon who voted “yes” on raising income taxes, probably figuring that non-wingnut GOPers is probably the best we’re going to do in those districts.
• LA-02: Republican Rep. Joe Cao probably ended any hopes of hanging onto his dark-blue (and 21.7% uninsured) seat by voting against health care reform yesterday, but just in order to emphasize the way in which he slammed the door shut on himself, he also compared abortion as a moral evil comparable to slavery. Because that’s a comparison just bound to go over well in his black-majority district.
• MA-10: Former Republican state Treasurer (from the 1990s) Joe Malone made it official: he’s running in the 10th to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Bill Delahunt. He’ll still have to get past state Rep. Jeff Perry in the GOP primary, though.
• PA-06: Manan Trivedi and Doug Pike traded union endorsements in their Dem primary battle in the 6th. Trivedi got the backing of the Iron Workers local, while Pike got the nod from the local AFSCME.
• PA-12: Bill Russell seems like he just can’t take a hint, despite the GOP uniting behind Tim Burns. Russell says he’ll write himself in for the special election between Burns and Democrat Mark Critz, in addition to continuing to contest the same-day GOP primary against Burns. Meanwhile, the pro-life Critz’s main opponent remaining, Navy vet Ryan Bucchanieri, got an endorsement that ought to give him a financial boost, from the National Organization for Women.
• WV-01: We’ve heard rumors that the local Democratic establishment wasn’t very enthused about propping up Rep. Alan Mollohan, who faces both a credible primary challenge and a self-funding Republican opponent. Here’s some of the first public whiff of that: the state Democratic chair, Nick Casey, says he won’t be taking sides in the primary battle between Mollohan and state Sen. Mike Oliverio (although he did predict that Mollohan would be the eventual victor).
• Redistricting: Cillizza has a little more background on the Democrats’ efforts to gear up for the 2012 redistricting battles, which we discussed last week in terms of the DLCC’s efforts. The DGA is getting in on the act, too, with a Harold Ickes-led effort called Project SuRGe (for “Stop Republican Gerrymandering”), also focused on maximizing Dem control of state legislatures.
• Votes: Lots of slicing and dicing in the media today regarding who voted which way, and why, on yesterday’s historic health care reform vote. Nate Silver has a bunch of nice charts up, which show that district lean and Reps’ overall ideology was much more determinative than whether the Rep. is considered vulnerable in November in terms of a “yes” or “no” vote. And Some Dude over at Salon has a more concise look at Reps who most mismatched their districts with their votes. Finally, if you want to see the “(some) Dems are still doomed” conventional wisdom in full effect, they’ve got that in spades over at Politico.
• Passings: Our condolences to the Udall family, which lost family patriarch Stewart Udall over the weekend. Udall, 90, was Congressman from Arizona and then John F. Kennedy’s Interior Secretary, and many of our environmental protections that we take for granted today bear his stamp.
• $$$: The fundraising quarter is almost over, and Adam B. is opening up another round of “We’ve Got Your Backs” over at Daily Kos (and cross-posted here), dedicated to showing some (financial) love to the House Dems in the most difficult districts who did the right thing on health care reform.
Given what’s transpired in recent weeks, this news is not terribly surprising:
Representative William Delahunt will not seek re-election to Congress, the seven-term Democrat will announce tomorrow, ending a nearly 40-year career in elected office and giving Republicans hope of capturing the seat, which stretches from Cape Cod to the South Shore.
“It’s got nothing to do with politics,” the Quincy Democrat said today. “Life is about change. I think it’s healthy. It’s time.”
The 68-year-old lawmaker said he has been considering leaving the House for several years, but was talked out of it two years ago by the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who convinced his friend he should stay and help President Obama with his first-term agenda.
The tenth is MA’s least-Democratic CD, going for Obama by just a 55-44 margin. (Kerry and Gore both posted similar numbers here.) Meanwhile, SSP numbers guru jeffmd estimates that Scott Brown absolutely dominated here, winning by about 60-40. So you can see why the GOP thinks it has a shot here. State Rep. Jeffrey Perry is already in the race, and former state Treasurer Joe Malone and state Sen. Robert Hedlund are weighing runs. Undoubtedly plenty of Dems will also give this contest some thought, and I’m sure we’ll here more from the interested parties soon.
(Hat-tip: Political Wire)
short and simple:Bill Delahunt is retiring.
Representative William Delahunt, Democrat of Massachusetts, was speaking by phone Friday about the decision of his colleague Patrick Kennedy not to seek re-election in Rhode Island. In doing so, Mr. Delahunt, who has yet to say whether he will seek re-election himself this year, might have signaled a hint about his own future.
“He went through a process that all of us in public life go through,” said Mr. Delahunt of Mr. Kennedy. “Honestly, I am going through that process myself.”
Mr. Delahunt, who has served in Congress since 1997, said he would announce whether he would seek re-election in March.
Delahunt, as you may know, occupies a district that Obama won by 55-44 in 2008, Kerry by 56-43 in ’04, and Gore by 54-39 in 2000. Yet Republicans view his seat as their ripest pick-up opportunity in the state after Scott Brown handily carried the district last month in the state’s special Senate election. Republicans actually have a bench to choose from here: ex-state Treasurer Joe Malone has begun polling for the race, and state Rep. Jeffrey Perry is already in.
For the Democrats, there has been some buzz about Joe Kennedy III swapping himself in, but that’s yet to be substantiated as anything more than idle chatter at this point.
RaceTracker Wiki: MA-10
• CA-Sen: The latest in palace intrigue in California supposes that Meg Whitman managed to pave the way for Tom Campbell’s exit from the gubernatorial race and move to the Senate race, culminating in a private appeal to Campbell from Arnold Schwarzenegger to switch (using a soft touch, instead of the alleged sledgehammer that the Steve Poizner camp accuses Whitman’s camp of wielding). Campbell says no, he made the decision all on his own (helped along by some internal polling, no doubt).
• FL-Sen: Continuing his role as right-wing kingmaker, or rainmaker, or rainy kingmaker, Jim DeMint orchestrated a moneybomb over recent days for upstart Florida candidate Marco Rubio that pulled in over $140K.
• SC-Sen: Attorney Chad McGowan, as close as the Dems have to a leading candidate to take on Jim DeMint this year, ended his campaign, citing family demands. It’s possible, though, that McGowan’s exit may lead to a slight upgrade (although not likely the kind that puts the race into play): Charleston Co. Commissioner Vic Rawl is now contemplating making the race, and self-financing Mullins McLeod is weighing a switch over from the gubernatorial bid where he’s made little headway in a better-defined Democratic field.
• TX-Sen: It’s looking less and less likely that the Texas Senate special election is ever going to happen (most likely, Kay Bailey Hutchison will wind up serving out the rest of her term in ignominy). If she does resign at some point, though, it doesn’t look too promising for Democrats. PPP tested a generic ballot on the race, with Generic Republican winning 53-38. Former comptroller John Sharp may be in position to overperform Generic D a bit, but it’d still be an uphill climb. For one thing, he’d be running against Barack Obama’s very low 33/61 approval in Texas.
• CT-Gov: Former state House speaker Jim Amann ended his bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination today. That he was even in the race may be news to most Connecticut residents, given his low-single-digits support in recent polling, and Ned Lamont and ex-Stamford mayor Dan Malloy gobbling up most of the oxygen.
• MI-Gov: In the wake of Denise Ilitch’s surprising decision to stand down, a different Democrat got into the gubernatorial field: former state treasurer (from the 1980s) Bob Bowman. He’s been out of state for a long time, most recently as the CEO of major league baseball’s interactive media wing, but if he’s willing to self-finance, he could be an interesting wildcard here.
• WI-Gov: Details are sketchy, but a Democratic internal poll by the Mellman Group finds a very tight gubernatorial race, quite in line with what other pollsters have seen. Democratic Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett leads Republican Milwaukee Co. Exec Scott Walker 40-39. There’s no word on a Barrett/Mark Neumann matchup.
• AL-05: Another catastrophic success for the NRCC, as they blasted their newest member with some friendly fire. Pete Sessions sent out a fundraising letter to AL-05 voters letting them know that their “Democrat in Congress has been falling in line with Nancy Pelosi’s destructive liberal agenda..” One small problem: Parker Griffith is now, quite famously, a Republican.
• AR-01: Unlike the deeply troublesome KS-03 and LA-03, thanks to their deep Arkansas bench, Democrats don’t seem to be having trouble finding a replacement to run for the seat of retiring Rep. Marion Berry. The latest to step up is state Sen. Steve Bryles, who represents Blytheville in this mostly-rural district’s northeast corner.
• AZ-03: It looks like a big Democratic name may be interested in tackling the GOP-leaning open seat left behind by retiring Rep. John Shadegg, after all. Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon has opened up an exploratory committee to consider a run, and has set a three or four-week timetable for deciding. Democratic attorney Jon Hulburd is already running and has had some fundraising success as well, so it seems unlikely he’d get out of the way for the more conservative Gordon.
• CA-19: An internal poll by POS offered by state Sen. Jeff Denham shows the Republican candidate with a solid lead over his carpetbagging neighbor, ex-Rep. Richard Pombo. Denham leads Pombo 28-12 in the GOP primary, and that expands to 38-11 when voters were informed that outgoing Rep. George Radanovich has endorsed Denham.
• CA-44: Yet another internal poll, this one from Tulchin and released by Democratic challenger Bill Hedrick, who came within a few thousand votes of upsetting Rep. Ken Calvert in 2008. Calvert has lousy re-elects – 38% say ‘yes’ while 41% say someone else – but Calvert leads a head-to-head against Hedrick, 49-35.
• FL-21, FL-25: New names are already surfacing for potential candidates in the 25th, where Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart is creating an open seat by leaving for the somewhat safer 21st, vacated by his retiring brother, Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart. One name moving to the forefront is termed-out Republican state Sen. Majority leader Alex Diaz de la Portilla. However, it sounds like Mario plans to endorse state Rep. David Rivera (who’s currently running for state Senate) instead. Two other possible GOP names include state Sen. Alex Villalobos, and Carlos Curbelo, currently an aide to Sen. George LeMieux. Joe Garcia, who came close to taking out Mario in 2008, seems to be the Dems’ preferred candidate (although he previously ruled out a re-run, he might reconsider with an open seat).
• IA-01: Republicans landed Some Dude to run against Rep. Bruce Braley in the Dem-leaning 1st, a district which hasn’t been on anyone’s radar so far: insurance salesman Brian Cook. The NRCC had previously touted businessman Rod Blum for the race, but he says he’s leaning against a bid.
• MA-10: Yet one more internal poll, and this one’s a little alarming for Democratic Rep. Bill Delahunt, who nobody thought of as a target until his district went strongly for Scott Brown in the Senate special election. The McLaughlin poll on behalf of Republican former state treasurer Joe Malone gives Malone a 37-34 lead over Delahunt among likely voters. Delahunt is still in positive territory, approval-wise, at 44/33.
• MS-01: Maybe this is the oppo that insiders said would sink Fox News pundit Angela McGlowan’s House bid before it got out of the gate. In a radio interview last year, she suggested that gun owners should include an inventory of their guns on their federal tax forms, and in defending the idea went on to talk about “crazies… stockpiling guns.” Starting out in a probably gun-loving district with a proposal that wouldn’t pass muster among House Democrats, and framing it with decidedly lefty-sounding language… well, that’s probably a deal-breaker.
• NC-08: Free advice to candidates, not just Democrats but anyone: don’t waste time worrying about what people are saying in the anonymous comments section of blogs. (And, yes, I realize the irony of that coming from an pseudonymous blogger.) But most of all, don’t actually get so hot under the collar that you weigh in in the comments section and embarrass yourself in the process. Tim D’Annunzio seems to be the leading GOP contender in the 8th, thanks in large measure to his self-funding, but his recent foray into the comments section at the Charlotte Observer (to defend his machine-gun-shooting fundraiser) may have cast his candidacy in a decidedly amateurish light.
• OH-14: Here’s a swing district that has consistently eluded Democrats, where they’ve finally nailed down a challenger. Retired judge Bill O’Neill is back for another whack at Rep. Steve LaTourette in the suburban 14th. O’Neill ran against LaTourette in 2008 and didn’t get much traction that year, though.
• Census: Here’s some good news on the redistricting front: the Census Bureau has given states the green light to decide whether to count prisons as part of the local population, or whether to count prisoners according to their previous place of residence. The Census will provide states with ‘group quarters’ information to help them with the process. That’s an especially big deal in New York, where the legislature is considering legislation that would count prisoners by previous residence, which would decidedly tip the balance away from GOP-leaning rural areas and back toward the cities.
• Redistricting: Some bad news on redistricting, though, from South Dakota (although, with its at-large House seat, it’ll really only have an impact on state legislative redistricting). A legislative committee shot down plans to switch to an independent redistricting commission. Democrats proposed the idea, and unsurprisingly, the plan died along party lines (not much incentive for the GOP to switch, as they control the trifecta and probably will for the foreseeable future).
• Dogcatcher: With Martha Coakley’s announcement that she’s going to attempt to run for re-election, the whole idea of getting elected dogcatcher is back on people’s minds. You may recall we had an extended thread on the matter some months ago… and here’s an interesting discovery. There’s an actual place in America – Duxbury, Vermont – where it’s an elective position. (H/t David Kowalski.) Zeb Towne’s term expires in 2010, so we’ll keep monitoring this race as events warrant.
Having had some time to let the passing of Ted Kennedy sink in, speculation inevitably turns to who succeeds him (and when). There hasn’t been an open Senate seat in Massachusetts since 1984, so there’s a backlog of long-time Representatives with huge bank accounts all trying to crash the door at the same time… and with a mid-term special election meaning no one would have to give up a safe seat to run, expect a lot of people running.
While Massachusetts currently has a system where there is no gubernatorial appointment but rather a mid-term special election (a result of a legislative change passed in 2004 to prevent Mitt Romney from appointing a Republican successor to John Kerry), there is now a push to update the law to a system more like what is done in Texas: a short-term appointment until the special election can be held. This was suggested by Kennedy himself in a letter released a week prior to his death (which met some initial resistance last week), but with Democrats painfully aware that Kennedy’s absence leaves Senate Democrats at 59 and at least one vote short on a health care reform cloture vote, momentum is building for a quick post-Labor Day vote that would change the law again to allow for the short-term appointment. Governor Deval Patrick said on MSNBC that he would sign such a bill, and state House Speaker Robert DeLeo has given it his tacit approval.
Roll Call suggests that, if this passes, the short-term appointee is unlikely to be someone who would contest the special election. They point to former Governor (and Presidential candidate) Michael Dukakis as a likely appointee; he has already given assurances that he will not run in the special.
The next question is: what’s the timetable on the special election? It doesn’t seem like any changes to the law regarding interim appointment will involve changes to the special election timetable. The Hill calculates:
The special election must be held between 145 and 160 days after the vacancy occurs. Since Kennedy died late Tuesday, that puts the window between Jan. 17 and Feb. 1. Holding the race on a Tuesday, a traditional Election Day, would mean Jan. 18, Jan. 25 or Feb. 1.
So who runs, among the Democrats, in the special? Speculation centers on as many as five of the state’s ten Democratic House members, and two former House members as well.
|Ed Markey||MA-07||63||$2.89 mil|
|Richard Neal||MA-02||60||$2.5 mil|
|Stephen Lynch||MA-09||54||$1.39 mil|
|John Tierney||MA-06||57||$1.29 mil|
|Michael Capuano||MA-08||57||$1.2 mil|
|Martin Meehan||was MA-05||52||$4.8 mil|
|Joe Kennedy II||was MA-08||56||$1.7 mil|
One high-profile House member who has already indicated that he won’t run is Barney Frank. The 69-year-old Frank is at the pinnacle of his power as House Financial Services Chair. Ed Markey is a something of a question mark; he’s also one of the most powerful House members, as a 33-year veteran and chair of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, making it less likely he’d be willing to give up his gavel… but there’s also no question he’s been stockpiling money for this very contingency for many years.
The remaining members of the House delegation are 72-year-old John Olver (considered a likely retiree soon), 68-year-old Bill Delahunt, 63-year-old Niki Tsongas (who just got to the House), and 49-year-old Jim McGovern. McGovern, based in Worcester’s MA-03, is sitting only only $536K, which apparently isn’t enough for prognosticators to consider him a likely candidate.
Former Reps Meehan and Kennedy are also question marks. Meehan has by far the most money of anyone, and has been sitting on it in miserly fashion since leaving the House to become chancellor of UMass-Lowell. Although he’s reportedly happily ensconced in his new job, his hunger for a Senate seat while still in the House was palpable, and the fact that he’s still hoarding his cash is a red flag. Kennedy has a huge intangible advantage, perhaps a field-clearing one, in that, well, he’s a Kennedy, and there’s understandable sentiment about keeping at least one Kennedy in the Senate. Kennedy, however, has been out of office for a while, and a subsequent ugly divorce and controversy of Venezuelan oil deals may cast a bit of a shadow over him. (Plus, more generally, the Kennedy name may not have the iconic power it used to, as seen in the Caroline Kennedy and Chris Kennedy flameouts this year, as well as the 2002 loss of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.)
There are two other non-House, female candidates who could make the race. One is Kennedy’s widow, Vicki Kennedy, who hasn’t held office but could be a sentimental favorite; however, indications are that she isn’t interested in running (although she could be another possible short-term appointee). The other is AG Martha Coakley, who has had her eye on the Senate seat for some time, polling the race several times. While she doesn’t have a big stash of federal dollars like the other candidates (she has only $144K), she would bring something of a demographic advantage to the race by being the only woman, as well as the only statewide official. Coakley has been quick to hit cable TV in the last couple days.
There must be some Republicans to run, right? What passes for GOP top talent in the Bay State (Christy Mihos, Charlie Baker) is already looking at the Governor’s race, where they’ve been historically more successful and where Patrick is unpopular. That leaves former Lt. Gov. (and 2006 gubernatorial loser) Kerry Healey, former US Attorney Michael Sullivan, former Ambassador Chris Egan, state Senator Scott Brown, former Justice Dept. official Wayne Budd, and businessman David Sukoff as GOPers who’ve been mentioned. Former Bush CoS Andy Card, and Jim Ogonowski, who ran well in the MA-05 special election, are reportedly not interested.
There’s one other name being floated: former Governor Mitt Romney. To most observers, that’s comical, considering that Romney a) is busy running for President, and won’t want to get involved in the relatively small ball time-suck of the Senate, and b) didn’t run for re-election as Massachusetts Governor because he would have had his ass handed to him, after veering to the right in order to prep for his Prez run and repeatedly dissing his own state while doing so. US News’s delusional Peter Roff still sounds hopeful, saying that the fact that being in the Senate would help Romney prove his conservative bona fides — but offering no evidence for Romney’s electability in Massachusetts other than his 100% name ID.
Meanwhile, there’s one other entirely separate game of musical chairs: Senate committee assignments. Kennedy was chair of Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (or HELP), one of the two key Senate committees on health care reform. The acting chair of HELP while Kennedy was out has been Chris Dodd, who has been doing double-duty while also chairing Banking. The ball’s basically in Dodd’s court now: whether he wants to switch full-time to HELP, or go back to Banking. This actually impacts his re-election strategy, interestingly: does he go to HELP, and focus on building accomplishments there in order to distract from lingering dissatisfaction (not necessarily deserved, but either way, the perception is there, especially regarding the AIG bonuses) from his tenure at Banking? Or does he go back to Banking in order to show his constituents he’s focused on cleaning up the mess there? (State Sen. Sam Caligiuri, one of his minor GOP contenders, is already jumping on Dodd over possibly moving to HELP.)
So, if Dodd moves to HELP, that means Tim Johnson of South Dakota takes over Banking. However, the moderate Johnson is still slowed by his brain hemmorhage from several years past, and has been a low-key participant since then; he might defer to the 3rd in line, the much more liberal Jack Reed of Rhode Island, which would certainly improve our chances of robust re-regulation of Wall Street in the coming year.
On the other hand, if Dodd stays at Banking, Tom Harkin is 2nd in line at HELP. While Harkin certainly has had a stake in such issues, he may prefer to remain as chair of Agriculture, the defining issue in his state of Iowa. Either way, we’d then likely get the only female committee chair: if Harkin stays at Agriculture, 3rd in line to chair HELP would be Barbara Mikulski. If Harkin moves to HELP, the Ag order then goes Patrick Leahy (chair of Judiciary), Kent Conrad (chair of Budget), and Max Baucus (chair of Finance). It’s hard to see any of them wanting to give up those gavels, so next in line to lead Agriculture would be Arkansas’s Blanche Lincoln — which might give her something valuable to honk her horn about as she faces a potentially difficult re-election.
UPDATE (James L.): This shouldn’t be considered a surprise to anyone with their head properly screwed on, but Mittens says that he won’t run for Teddy’s seat.