Meanwhile, third wheel state Sen. Paula Dockery said she wouldn’t put her personal wealth into her campaign – and also opined that she’d veto an abortion bill she voted for if she became governor. I’m not even sure John Kerry could come up with something that good.
• FL-Sen: With drillin’ and spillin’ suddenly on everyone’s minds these days, the Florida legislature’s Dems are trying to force newly-minted independent Charlie Crist’s hand on the drilling issue. They plan to ask Crist to call a special session to take up a constitutional amendment on banning drilling close to Florida’s shoreline. With Crist having taken pretty much every possible position on drilling already, who knows what he’ll do… obviously, he’s flexible. Meanwhile, with Crist out of the GOP picture, Jeb Bush is now free to publicly out himself as the Marco Rubio supporter that anyone with a pulse has known he’s been along.
• KS-Sen: Although it’s a little late in the game, the Dems actually landed a bona fide state legislator to run for Senate (one of their biggest recruiting gaps this cycle). State Sen. David Haley of Kansas City, who’d been rumored to be interested many months ago, now says he’ll take the plunge, giving the Dems at least something of an upgrade from retired newspaper editor Charles Schollenberger. Haley hasn’t fared well in his last couple attempts at a promotion, though; he lost both the 2002 and 2006 SoS races. Meanwhile, over on the GOP side, Rep. Todd Tiahrt has settled into an underdog position against Rep. Jerry Moran, but he’s trying to rally the social conservative grassroots. Religious right leader James Dobson (last seen pulling a weird switcheroo in the Kentucky GOP primary) cut a radio ad on Tiahrt’s behalf.
• NY-Sen-B: Could the GOP manage to coax one more second-tier contender into the Republican field to go against Kirsten Gillibrand? Orange County Executive Ed Diana is reportedly “gearing up” to challenge Gillibrand, although he hasn’t made a final decision. Diana would have at least one leg up over David Malpass, Bruce Blakeman, and Joe DioGuardi: he’d be the only one to currently hold elective office (although Orange County, in the Hudson Valley, makes up less than 2% of New York’s population).
• PA-Sen, PA-Gov (pdf): Today’s daily hit from the Muhlenberg/Morning Call tracker: Arlen Specter has a slightly bigger lead over Joe Sestak, at 48-40. Dan Onorato is at 34 in the governor’s primary, followed by Joe Hoeffel at 11, Anthony Williams at 9, and Jack Wagner at 8.
• WI-Sen: As was generally expected, Oshkosh businessman Ron Johnson seems to be ready to launch his Senate bid on the Republican side, with an official announcement in the foreseeable future. Johnson apparently is on good terms with the teabagger community, unlike other GOP candidates Dick Leinenkugel (a veteran of the Jim Doyle administration and thus an impure collaborationist) and Terrence Wall.
• AL-Gov: Here’s a smackdown for Rep. Artur Davis: the United Mine Workers, which had previously done a joint endorsement of Davis and Ron Sparks, pulled its Davis endorsement and will endorse Sparks solely. (Sparks also got the UAW’s endorsement last week.) Davis did manage to score one other endorsement, though, from equal pay activist Lilly Ledbetter (whose namesake bill is one of the few pieces of marquee Democratic legislation that Davis actually voted for this cycle).
• FL-Gov: Rick Scott, the former health insurance exec and professional anti-HCR astroturfer who just got into the GOP gubernatorial primary, is bringing a whole lot of his own money with him. AG and presumptive nominee Bill McCollum may need to start looking back over his shoulder: Scott has either bought or reserved $4.7 million in airtime for the coming months. That’s about as much money as McCollum has raised since entering the race.
• NY-Gov: The RGA left Steve Levy hanging, in a big way. Levy had (laughably) claimed last week that the RGA had promised him $8 to $10 million for his gubernatorial run as an incentive to get into the race and save the GOP from the specter of Rick Lazio. RGA chair Haley Barbour (not publicly, through back channels) said, um, no: the RGA is neutral in the primary, and will spend in that race only if it looks close down the home stretch. With state chair Ed Cox having put his credibility on the line to bring in ex-Dem Levy (who’s sucking in both GOP primary and general election polls), the NYT is reporting that’s created something of a “war” within the state party, to the extent that Michael Steele had to head to New York for a recent emergency intervention with Cox. When Michael Steele is suddenly the voice of reason, you know you’re doing it wrong.
The daily digest is so hunormous today that we had to CHOP IT IN HALF!
On the GOP side of things, John McCain says he raised $2.2 million in the first quarter and has $4.5m on hand. Primary opponent J.D. Hayworth, meanwhile, seems like he hasn’t been doing quite so hot on the money front.
PPP (pdf) (3/20-21, Wisconsin
registered voters, 11/20-22 in parentheses):
Russ Feingold (D-inc): 47 (50)
Tommy Thompson (R): 44 (41)
Undecided: 9 (9)
Russ Feingold (D-inc): 48 (48)
Terrence Wall (R): 34 (34)
Undecided: 18 (19)
Russ Feingold (D-inc): 48 (47)
Dave Westlake (R): 31 (32)
Undecided: 21 (21)
PPP’s second look at the Wisconsin Senate race offers some pushback against the WPRI and Rasmussen polls, which have tended to show ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson with a narrow lead over Sen. Russ Feingold (and may be done with an eye toward recruiting Thompson, who’s maintained interest but also seemed very reluctant, into the race). Still, the November lead that PPP showed was large enough that it suggested “why bother” to Thompson, while this one is a decidedly closer race.
Feingold has a narrowly divided approval rating, at 45/41. Still, that’s an improvement over Thompson, with favorables in negative territory at 40/44. (The other minor GOPers in the race, Terrence Wall and Dave Westlake, are virtual unknowns at 4/17 and 2/8.) With Thompson widely-known and not so widely liked, even if he does get in, his path to victory would have to be hoping the GOP base shows up and the Dem base doesn’t. (UPDATE: Here’s a nice little tidbit I missed. “Washington lobbyists” have a favorable of 1/77. (Looks like a pollster finally found someone or something with a lower favorable than Paris Hilton.) Guess what the Feingold campaign’s line of attack against Thompson is going to be?)
UPDATE (James): There’s been some confusion in the comments over whether PPP is using a registered or likely voter screen. Their wording (“700 Wisconsin voters”) doesn’t suggest an LV model is used, but we asked PPP’s Tom Jensen to clarify the situation. The answer is that the model really isn’t either, though it falls a bit closer on the “likely voter” end of the spectrum:
We call people who voted in at least one of the last three general elections. We don’t explicitly ask them at this point in the game if they plan to vote in the fall. I imagine 97% of the people who answer the polls will vote this fall but since we’re not explicitly screening yet we don’t call them likely voters.
RaceTracker Wiki: WI-Sen
• AZ-Sen: It’s getting to the point where the real question is, is there any key establishment Republican left who hasn’t endorsed John McCain in his GOP primary duel with J.D. Hayworth. Apparently, the specter of teabagger revolt over snubbing Hayworth isn’t too intimidating to anybody. Today, it was Minnesota governor and likely presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty who gave McCain the thumbs-up.
• CA-Sen: There was a Senate component to that poll of Republican primary voters by M4 Strategies on behalf of the Small Business Action Committee, too. They find ex-Rep. Tom Campbell in the lead at 32, with Carly Fiorina following at 19 and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore at 11.
• FL-Sen: You’ve probably already seen these rumors, but in case you hadn’t, Jack Furnari, a conservative activist and a regular contributor to the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel’s political blog, says that multiple sources have told him that Charlie Crist is preparing to cast off his scarlet “R” and run for the Senate as an indie. Crist‘s communications director, however, says this is a “patently false rumor.”
• KY-Sen: Rand Paul is already making a strong push for the finish line in the May 18 Senate GOP primary. He’s begun reserving $332K in airtime for the weeks before the primary. So far, the moneybomb-propelled Paul has already spent $291K on TV ads while Trey Grayson is just getting started, with a $17K buy, which may explain some of the disparity between the two in the polls right now.
• NC-Sen: Lots of numbers out of North Carolina to look at this morning. Most notably, Rasmussen looks at the general election, finding Richard Burr with a sizable edge over both Democratic challengers; Burr leads SoS Elaine Marshall 50-34 and leads ex-state Sen. Cal Cunningham 51-29. Civitas doesn’t have general election numbers, but looks at the Democratic primary, where they find a whole lotta undecideds: Marshall leads Cunningham 14-4, with Cunningham actually being outpaced by attorney Kenneth Lewis at 5. (PPP, who polled the primary last week, seems to have pushed leaners harder, with Marshall at a whopping 29, followed by Cunningham at 12 and 5 for Lewis.) Finally, Elon (pdf) doesn’t have any head-to-heads at all, but has some approval numbers: Richard Burr is generates a whole lot of indifference, with favorables that work out to 30/23, with 29 for “don’t know” and 19 for “neither favorable/unfavorable” (which is interesting — I’d like to see more pollsters include “meh” as an option). Burr also has an ominous 24% re-elect (with a 51% “time for someone new”). Elaine Marshall’s favorables are at 19/8.
• WI-Sen: Republican real estate developer Terrence Wall, thanks to his own money, is the most imposing candidate currently in the race against Russ Feingold in Wisconsin, and he has his own internal poll out courtesy of POS. It suggests that Feingold shouldn’t take his re-election campaign for granted even if Tommy Thompson doesn’t make a surprise re-entry into the political arena; Feingold leads Wall by a 46-39 margin.
• AR-Gov: Looks like the Republicans have found someone willing to take one for the team and run against Democratic incumbent Gov. Mike Beebe, who usually polls as the nation’s most popular governor. Former state Sen. Jim Keet says he’s “90% certain” he’ll run. Keet (who’s a personal friend of Beebe) offers a rationale for his candidacy that seems in line with his chances of winning: “If we don’t have candidates that are willing to stand up despite the odds in both parties, then we’ll never have the best possible government. It’s good to have competing views and candidates on both sides of the aisle.”
• MD-Gov: Rasmussen takes its first look at the Governor’s race in Maryland, where incumbent Dem Martin O’Malley may face a rematch with ex-Gov. Bob Ehrlich (who hasn’t declared anything, but is starting to act candidate-ish). Their results are right in line with most other pollsters, who’ve seen an O’Malley lead in the high single-digits over Ehrlich; Rasmussen says it’s 49-43.
• NH-Gov: With a late entry, it looks like the Republicans are getting an uprgrade in their race against Democratic Gov. John Lynch, another incumbent considered mostly unassailable. The state’s former health and human services commissioner, and loser of the 2002 and 2008 NH-01 GOP primaries, John Stephen, says he’ll give it a whack. (Ex-Rep. Jeb Bradley, who won both those primaries, is chairing Stephen’s campaign.) Social conservative activist Karen Testerman is probably the best-known GOPer in the race so far.
• SD-Gov: Rasmussen had good news for Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin yesterday, and they have some more positive data for the Dems, this time in the gubernatorial race. State Sen. minority leader Scott Heidepriem actually leads against two out of three Republican opponents; he leads state Sen. majority leader Dave Knudson 34-31, and teabagging state Sen. Gordon Howie 37-29. Unfortunately, Heidepriem trails the Republican field’s most likely frontrunner, Lt. Governor Dennis Daugaard, 41-32.
• TX-Gov: It looks like the DGA is seeing the same polls that we’re seeing. Feeling bullish on ex-Houston mayor Bill White’s chances in the gubernatorial race, they’ve pumped $500K into White’s campaign. White, at $5.4 million, already has doubled up on cash against his likely opponent, incumbent GOP Gov. Rick Perry (who’s at $2.5 million, and may get further drained if he doesn’t avoid a runoff in his primary).
• FL-25: A name recognition poll of possible Republican replacements for Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (by Republican pollster Hill Research) seems to give a name rec edge to potential candidate state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, with 39/9 favorables. State Rep. David Rivera, who’s already made his candidacy official, is a bit less known, at 24/5. The best-known person polled is Miami-Dade Co. Commissioner Joe Martinez (at 34/17), who hasn’t really expressed much interest yet.
• KS-04: SurveyUSA has another poll in Kansas, where there’s a competitive GOP primary in three different open House seats. Today, they focused on the Wichita-based 4th. I’m wondering if businessman Wink Hartman has been advertising while everyone else has been silent, because that’s the only explanation I can think of for his big lead. Hartman is at 36, beating all his insider opponents: state Sen. Dick Kelsey is at 11, with state Sen. Jean Schodorf and former RNC committeeman Mike Pompeo both at 10. (Either that, or people think they’re voting for Wink Martindale.)
• NY-15: With Rep. Charlie Rangel having been on the wrong end of an Ethics Committee ruling yesterday, names are starting to trickle in from fellow House members who want him to put down his Ways and Means gavel. Paul Hodes (running for Senate in NH) was the loudest, along with Bobby Bright and Gene Taylor. Newly-elected Mike Quigley is the only safe-seat Dem to chime in, at least so far.
• PA-12: One more big development in the “race” in the 12th, where candidates are jostling to get picked by committee to run in the May 18 special election. Former Lt. Governor Mark Singel suddenly pulled his name out of consideration, which may suggest that there’s a lot of insider movement toward John Murtha’s former district director, Mark Critz. Singel threw his support to Critz, who previously got the endorsements of two other possible candidates, Joyce Murtha and moneybags businessman Mark Pasquerilla. With Westmoreland Co. Commissioner Tom Cesaro also withdrawing his name, it looks like it’s heading down to a choice between Critz and former state Treasurer Barbara Hafer for the Dem nomination. (Hafer, in fact, is now saying she’s likely to run in the primary for Nov. even if she doesn’t get the special election nod.)
• RI-01: It looks like the fight for the Democratic nomination in the open seat in the 1st is going to be a mostly two-way fight between Providence mayor David Cicciline and former state party chair William Lynch. Two other Dems who had a shot at making the race interesting, long-ago ex-Rep. Robert Weygand and investment banker Nicholas Pell (grandson of Sen. Claiborne Pell), have said no.
• SC-02: No lie: GOP loudmouth Joe Wilson is actually getting a primary challenge. Businessman Joe Grimaud, who lost the 2001 special election primary to Wilson, said he’ll try again in 2010. Grimaud, who can self-fund, said he’s sympathetic to the teabaggers but admits there isn’t much ideological daylight between him and Wilson.
• GA-LG: It’s a family affair: Carol Porter, the wife of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dubose Porter, declared her candidacy for the Democratic Lt. Governor nomination. Considering that Dubose Porter is polling only in the single digits in the gubernatorial primary, though, it doesn’t seem like a husband-and-wife team in charge is that likely regardless of how Carol Porter does.
• TX-Board of Educ.: Josh Goodman points out how the real drama in next Tuesday’s primary election won’t be the gubernatorial primary but rather the Republican fights for a number of seats on the Texas Board of Education between moderates and conservatives. Social conservatives are close to a majority on the board, but it sounds like moderates may be able to pick up a few seats, swinging the board (crucial for the tenor of school textbooks not just in Texas but nationwide, given how many students are in Texas) away from its love of creationism.
• Redistricting: Illinois may be following the lead of a number of other states in trying to make the redistricting process a bit less partisan. Legislative Democrats are pushing a plan to have maps drawn by a special master appointed by two Supreme Court justices in case the legislature deadlocks on maps. The current plan, believe it or not, lets one party (if there’s a deadlock) have the final say on redistricting based on which party’s name gets drawn at random. Republicans (who can probably see they aren’t going to control either chamber of the legislature any time soon) would like to go further than that, all the way to an independent redistricting commission.
• Votes: National Journal has released its annual vote ratings on who’s most liberal and most conservative, based on key votes. In the House, most liberal is a tie between Rush Holt, Gwen Moore, John Olver, Linda Sanchez, Jan Schakowsky, Louise Slaughter, Mel Watt, and Henry Waxman, while most conservative is a tie between Trent Franks, Doug Lamborn, Randy Neugebauer, Pete Olson, John Shadegg, and Mac Thornberry. (Worst Dem honors go to Bobby Bright, to the right of 11 Republicans.) In the Senate, Sherrod Brown, Roland Burris, Ben Cardin, Jack Reed, and Sheldon Whitehouse share liberal honors, while Jim Inhofe stands alone in crazy-town. And here’s why Evan Bayh won’t be missed: he earns the Senate’s worst Dem nod, worse than Joe Lieberman and Olympia Snowe while tied with his own freakin’ colleague Richard freakin’ Lugar. (DW-Nominate scores for 2009, more comprehensive although much less user-friendly, also came out a few weeks ago.)
• NC-Sen: Former state Sen. Cal Cunningham is going with an interesting focus for his campaign: filibuster reform. He’s pledging to end the filibuster “in its current form.” Certainly an idea worth exploring at the policy level, but is it a winner at the campaign-soundbite level (when most people don’t even seem to know of the filibuster and cloture process, if polls are to be believed)? Fellow Dem candidate Elaine Marshall also broached the topic in her recent diary at Daily Kos.
• OH-Sen: Two different new Democrats entered the primary election hunt in Ohio, Traci “TJ” Johnson and Charleena Renee Bradley. Bradley appears to have come out literally nowhere, but Johnson is a former state Rep. candidate and, more notably, she worked for the AG’s office when current Lt. Governor Lee Fisher held that position. That’s led to some suspicions of shenangians on the part of the Fisher campaign (who might benefit from another female candidate cutting a bit into Jennifer Brunner’s primary vote share), but Fisher’s camp says that they weren’t involved in Johnson’s decision and that Fisher hasn’t spoken to Johnson in over a year.
• WA-Sen: SurveyUSA has some surprisingly low approval numbers for Patty Murray, as she faces a re-election that could get tough if someone top-tier shows up to challenge her. She’s at 43/50 (which is lower than colleague Maria Cantwell, at 46/45, probably the first time that’s ever happened). What’s strange here is that, although SurveyUSA actually included some young people in this poll, Murray fares worst among the 18-34 set and best among seniors, which is completely counterintuitive (although it kept showing up in their WA-Gov and WA-08 polls last year too). Serious question: has anyone ever studied whether young people who are cellphone-only are disproportionately Democratic and those who actually answer their landlines are more Republican?
• WI-Sen: Rasmussen looks at the Wisconsin Senate race again, and like last time, finds Russ Feingold trailing Tommy Thompson, on the off chance that Thompson decides to say no thanks to all that sweet, sweet hedge fund money. Feingold trails Thompson 48-43, while leading minor Republican opponents Dave Westlake (47-37) and Terrence Wall (47-39). Feingold’s approval is 50/48.
• AR-Gov: Here’s one Arkansas Democrat we don’t have to worry about. Incumbent Gov. Mike Beebe has sported inhuman approval levels and hasn’t even drawn a Republican opponent yet. And now comes news that he raised more than $1 million toward his re-election in the month of January alone.
• FL-Gov, FL-Sen: There’s more pile-on on the issue of Alex Sink’s yawn-inducing and seemingly message-free gubernatorial campaign… and some of that is spilling over into Kendrick Meek’s Senate campaign, which doesn’t seem to be getting anyone fired up either.
• MI-Gov: Another Democrat seems to be moving closer toward a run for Governor: Genesee County treasurer Dan Kildee is opening up an exploratory committee. (Kildee may be getting some urging from a celebrity friend: Michael Moore.) Meanwhile, on the Republican side, long-shot rich guy Rick Snyder is actually letting his fans on his website choose which ad to air next; both ads focus on Snyder’s “nerd” credentials. Unfortunately, it sounds like Ted Nugent, who field strips nerds and eats their entrails for breakfast, is turning down requests that he run for governor (on the GOP side, natch). The Motor City Madman still contends that he’d make a good governor, though, in that he’d “bring in my machete and hack away at the waste and the cronyism.”
• MN-Gov: One more Republican fell by the wayside in the Minnesota gubernatorial race, in the wake of a weak straw poll showing: state Sen. David Hann, who’ll run for another Senate term instead. In an indication that state House minority leader Marty Seifert is feeling confident about winning the GOP nomination, he’s already moved on to picking a running mate: Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah.
• NE-Gov: Nebraska, like Kansas, has been another state where the Dems have had a bad time trying to find a gubernatorial candidate. The search finally seems to be focusing on agribusiness executive Mark Lakers, who insiders say is very interested. (Ben Nelson and Bob Kerrey both emerged from the private sector to defeat incumbent GOP governors, for whatever that’s worth.)
• RI-Gov: Republicans have another option in their gubernatorial primary in Rhode Island: accountant Victor Moffitt. Moffitt is a former state Rep. but may be better know for being a frequent letter-to-the-editor writer. He’ll face John Robitaille, communications director to current Republican Gov. Don Carcieri, in the primary.
• SC-Gov: Attorney Mullins McLeod is dropping out of the race to be the Democrats’ gubernatorial candidate, and throwing his support behind state Sen. Vincent Sheheen. There’s no word whether McLeod, as rumored, is planning to move over to the Senate race against Jim DeMint, currently devoid of a Democratic challenger.
• AZ-03: Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon is definitely gauging possibilities for a run for the House, as he’s been polling the district. Interestingly, based on the poll questions, Gordon is considering a run as an independent as well as a Democrat. Gordon, although there’s a “D” next to his name, is quite the centrist and even endorsed John McCain in 2008, which could make a Democratic primary against deep-pocketed Jon Hulburd difficult. The poll also asks whether stories about Gordon’s payments to his girlfriend (for fundraising for his campaigns) would be a campaign liability.
• FL-05: GOP Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite has scheduled a “major announcement” tonight at a local Republican function, prompting speculation from all corners that a retirement, or perhaps even resignation, decision has been made. (J)
• FL-25: You may remember Annette Taddeo, the Democratic businesswoman who acquitted herself well while running in FL-18 in 2008. Some insiders (starting with Steny Hoyer, apparently) are encouraging her to take a look at running in the open seat race in the 25th this year. Taddeo says that if Joe Garcia (the 2008 candidate in the 25th, who’s reported to be moving toward a run) gets in, she’ll support him, but wouldn’t rule out a run in his absence.
• ID-01: One more Republican got into the field in the 1st: Michael Chadwick, who doesn’t seem to have run for office before but used to be an aide to Orrin Hatch. There’s still no word from ex-Rep. Bill Sali, though, as to whether he’ll join the fun.
• KS-03: With top Dem prospect and Kansas City, Kansas mayor Joe Reardon having ruled out a run in the open seat race for the 3rd, Dems are starting to look to state Sen. Kelly Kultala (who represents part of KCK) as the next best option (no word if she’s interested, though). One other name that’s getting attention now, though, is retiring Rep. Dennis Moore’s wife, Stephene, who’s “mulling it over.”
• NJ-07: Republican freshman Rep. Leonard Lance may have a rougher time of it in the GOP primary than the general. Lance will be facing businessman David Larsen, who appears to be challenging Lance from the right (upset over Lance’s cap and trade vote) and may be bringing up to $300K of his own money with him. Appraiser Bruce Baker is also in the GOP primary, flying the teabagger flag, although he may not have the money to make an impression.
• PA-04: Former US Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan seems to be having trouble making the transition from the legal world to the somewhat thicker-skinned electoral politics world. Her response when local talk radio host Marty Griffin hosted Cyril Wecht (the Allegheny Co. Coroner who’s had a longstanding legal battle with Buchanan) was to call in to Griffin’s show and threaten on air to sue him for defamation.
• PA-12: Lots more movement in the 12th. One more heavyweight, former Lt. Governor Mark Singel, isn’t deterred by fears that the 12th will be dismantled in a few years: he told the Johnstown paper today that he’ll be running. However, he (like Barbara Hafer) couched that by saying that he wouldn’t run if John Murtha’s widow, Joyce, decided she wanted the job. Cambria Co. Controller Ed Cernik Jr. is publicly stating his interest too, and Westmoreland Co. Commissioner Tom Ceraso is circulating petitions. Meanwhile, there seem to be more GOPers passing on the race than expressing any interest; the only new name to surface is businessman Mark Pasquerilla, who can self-fund; the few elected Republicans whose names were floated, state Reps. Jeff Pyle and Dave Reed, and state Sen. Kim Ward, aren’t running.
• CT-AG: Here’s an about-face from Susan Bysiewicz, who had previously said she would just plow ahead with her AG run despite uncertainty as to whether she legally qualified for the job. Apparently, there’s been enough behind-the-scenes doubt on that front that is was putting into jeopardy her chances at the state nominating convention, so now she’s suing in order to get a declaratory judgment on the question. There’s no indication on what, if anything, she’d run for if it turns out she isn’t qualified to be AG (remember she bailed out of the governor’s race despite being the frontrunner, and with a May 25 filing deadline, potentially she could get back in, although she may have badly hurt her prospects with this whole business).
PPP (pdf) (11/20-22, likely voters):
Russ Feingold (D-inc): 50
Tommy Thompson (R): 41
Russ Feingold (D-inc): 48
Terrence Wall (R): 34
Russ Feingold (D-inc): 47
Dave Westlake (R): 32
The Wisconsin Senate race had, until a few weeks ago, been shaping up to be a cakewalk for Russ Feingold. However, a poll from University of Wisconsin surfaced showing Feingold narrowly trailing former Gov. and former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson (43-39), and Thompson then offered a cryptic non-denial of his interest, saying he was considering runs for governor, senator, and mayor of Elroy.
Well, Thompson may want to start thinking more about the position in Elroy (although it would mean going up against the fearsome Sharon Knuth machine): PPP’s poll of the Wisconsin race conflicts pretty thoroughly with the UW poll. Feingold leads Thompson outside the margin of error, and Feingold also has very large leads over the two minor Republicans already in the field. Feingold still provokes some ambivalence, with a 45/37 approval, but that beats Thompson’s 38/45 favorable (and Westlake’s 2/9!). Thompson may fare better in the open governor’s race, and I would expect that we’ll see gubernatorial numbers from the same PPP sample fairly soon.
RaceTracker Wiki: WI-Sen
• AR-Sen: Another day, another random conservative guy running for the Senate in Arkansas. Today, it’s the turn for Stanley Reed, the former president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau and former president of the University of Arkansas board of trustees, who says he’s considering the race for the Republican nod. (H/t CongressDaily.)
• FL-Sen: The Police Benevolent Association, friendly with Charlie Crist from his law-and-order days as Attorney General, commissioned a poll via McLaughlin & Associates that paints a slightly rosier picture of Crist’s race against Marco Rubio than we’ve seen from several other pollsters last week. They find Crist up against Rubio 53-29, with a 67% approval.
• IA-Sen: It looks like Christie Vilsack (the former Iowa first lady, and political heavyweight in her own right) won’t be challenging Chuck Grassley after all. She’d sounded receptive to the idea in the last few weeks, but today she’s telling the Des Moines Register that she won’t run. Lawyer and former gubernatorial candidate Roxanne Conlin had sounded close to running last week, so the ball’s in Conlin’s court now.
• LA-Sen: Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne is the only prominent Republican left who hasn’t ruled out a challenge to David Vitter in the Republican primary, and, although he hasn’t taken any steps, he’s still not shutting the door on it. Last week on a radio show he confirmed that he hasn’t ruled it out. While a primary between the two hasn’t been polled since March (with Vitter leading 43-32), a recent poll had Dardenne overperforming Vitter against Charlie Melancon in the general.
• MA-Sen: A poll of the Democratic primary, from Western New England College Polling Institute, in the special election in Massachusetts finds that AG Martha Coakley is still in the driver’s seat, but that some of her competitors are gaining ground as they get better-known. Coakley is at 37, with Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca at 14 (that’s what spending all that money on ads will get you), Rep. Michael Capuano at 13, and City Year founder Alan Khazei at 4. The general election is shaping up to be a non-event, as Coakley beats Republican state Sen. Scott Brown 58-32 and Capuano beats him 49-33.
• WI-Sen: Russ Feingold finally has a noteworthy challenger: Terrence Wall, a Madison-area real estate developer who seems to have lots of money, although he’s never been elected before and it’s not clear what poltical skills he brings to the table. Wall is a frequent GOP donor, although he’s also given money to his local Dem, Rep. Tammy Baldwin.
• MI-Gov: Rasmussen took a look at the Michigan governor’s race, but without a clear sense of who the nominees will be, they just did a generic ballot test. Generic R leads Generic D by only a point, 37-36 — suggesting that Lt. Gov. John Cherry, who hasn’t polled well in general election matchups, is underperforming Generic D. Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm’s approval is 40/60.
• NJ-Gov: Suffolk University takes its first poll of the New Jersey governor’s race, and while it would be nice to say this was the new reality, it’s probably more likely an outlier: Jon Corzine leads Chris Christie 42-33, with Chris Daggett pulling in 7. Suffolk did an interesting experiment: they listed all 12 minor candidates, and they ate a bit into Daggett’s numbers, pulling in a cumulative 3%. Corzine also has surprisingly high favorables, at 45/46, with Christie at 34/46. Monmouth, however, explains what might have happened with this sample (apparently a simple mistake that out-of-state pollsters often make): Suffolk weighted party ID by registration, but because of NJ’s semi-open primary system, many unaffiliateds are actually partisan and should be polled as such.
Meanwhile, with most polls still pointing to a tossup, Barack Obama is back for one more rally with Corzine next weekend. Chris Christie can ill-afford one more scandal in the news, but that seems to be happening anyway, as stories about his seemingly politically-motivated hiring of the son of Christie patron and mentor Herbert Stern as an assistant US Attorney, despite Stern Jr.’s mediocre interviews.
• NY-Gov: This is the kind of courtesy call you don’t really want — the kind that says “I’m taking the job you want.” According to the NY Post’s Fred Dicker (so add salt according to taste), Andrew Cuomo contacted Rudy Giuliani through intermediaries to let him know that he will, in no uncertain terms, be running for Governor.
• CA-11: One more Republican sounds like he’s ready to join the strangely crowded field to go up against Rep. Jerry McNerney next year. Former San Jose city councilor Larry Pegram says he’ll move into the district to take on McNerney — but it seems like he may want to do a little research before getting too committed, as he claimed that McNerney is weak because he was just swept in as part of the “Obama wave.” (McNerney, of course, was first elected in 2006.)
• FL-19: The special election in the 19th is shaping up to be pretty uneventful: over the weekend, not only did outgoing Rep. Robert Wexler endorse state Sen.
Peter Ted Deutch to take over for him, but so too did everyone else representing the Gold Coast: Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Ron Klein, and Alcee Hastings.
• MI-02: A whole lot of Dutch-American conservative Republicans are jostling to take over from Rep. Peter Hoekstra in the solidly-red 2nd, and one of the field’s heavy hitters made his entry official: state Sen. Wayne Kuipers. He faces former state Rep. Bill Huizenga, former NFL player Jay Riemersma, and businessman Bill Cooper.
• NY-23 (pdf): There have been rumors of private polls out there given a small lead to third-party Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman in the 23rd, and now his sponsors at the Club for Growth have openly released one. Basswood Research finds Hoffman in the lead with 31, with Democrat Bill Owens at 27 and Republican Dede Scozzafava lagging at 20, with 22 undecided (although with a huge 6% MoE, anything could be happening). That must have something to do with the DCCC’s new strategy; their new negative ad is going after Hoffman, rather than Scozzafava. Also, Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty finally got off the fence and decided to throw his lot in with the movement: he endorsed Hoffman.
• NY-24: The New York Times, in a broader piece on GOP targeting of New York House Democrats, has an interesting tidbit we hadn’t seen before: the GOP is trying to coax
Michael Richard Hanna, the businessman who performed surprisingly well against Rep. Mike Arcuri last year, into a rematch.
• KY-St. Sen.: We’re moving one step closer to another vacant seat and special election in Kentucky’s Senate (which is controlled 21-17 by Republicans right now). Republican Dan Kelly was nominated for a state circuit court position, and he just needs Gov. Steve Beshear’s approval to get the job. Competitors are already lining up for the special, including Republican state Rep. Jimmy Higdon and Democratic former state Rep. Jodie Haydon. (In case you were wondering if Kentucky, which votes for statewide offices in odd-numbered years, is having legislative elections next week, the answer is no; state legislators are still elected in even-numbered years.)
• VA-St. House: One more good piece in the diaries breaking down the individual races in Virginia’s House of Delegates into Tossup, Lean, and Likely, thanks to our Johnny Longtorso. One particularly interesting race is the 51st District in exurban Prince William County, where Republican Rich Anderson, challenging Dem incumbent Paul Nichols in a very competitive race, may face criminal charges for giving out Nichols’ Social Security number on a mailer to over 15,000 area residents.
• ME-Init: Another poll from Pan Atlantic SMS of Question 1 in Maine on gay marriage. They find 42 yes and 53 no (with “no” being a vote in favor of continuing gay marriage), not much changed from their September poll (43-52) but the most optimistic numbers we’ve seen yet here.
• Mayors: In New York City, Quinnipiac finds incumbent Michael Bloomberg (the $85 million man) with a sizable edge against Democratic comptroller William Thompson, leading 53-35 with a lead in every borough. (Not much change from 52-36 a month ago.) In what looks to be the first poll of the Atlanta mayoral race, SurveyUSA finds city councilor Mary Norwood with a big lead, although not quite enough to avoid a runoff with the 2nd place finisher. Norwood is at 46%, followed by state Sen. Kasim Reed at 26% and city councilor Lisa Borders at 17%. Norwood leads 6:1 among whites, independents, and Republicans; Reed leads among African-Americans. Also worth a read is a piece from our own diaries about major (and minor) mayoral races from elections09, which gets into the weeds on some tight races not on anybody’s national radar screen (with Vancouver, WA and Stamford, CT as particularly interesting examples).
• AZ-Sen: It’s been a rumor all year, but it just won’t die: ex-Rep. J.D. Hayworth is reportedly still interested in challenging John McCain in the GOP primary next year. McCain already has a primary challenge from the fringey right, in the form of former Minutemen leader Chris Simcox.
• FL-Sen: Although Rep. Corrine Brown doesn’t seem to be taking any steps to get into the Dem field, it looks like Rep. Kendrick Meek still may not get the primary all to himself: former Miami mayor Maurice Ferre is signaling his interest in the race. Ferre is 74; he was the first Hispanic (he’s Puerto Rican) to be elected Miami mayor. Meanwhile, Meek is the beneficiary of yet another Bill Clinton fundraiser; this is the Big Dog’s fourth on behalf of Meek, a prominent Hillary Clinton endorser in 2008. Finally, Karl Rove is weighing in on the Florida senate primary, albeit just with a $1,000 donation and no loud public pronouncement: he’s backing Marco Rubio.
• IL-Sen: Rep. Mark Kirk says he’s raised $1.6 million for the 3rd quarter, leaving him with $2.3 million cash on hand. State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias hasn’t made any report yet, but ended the 2nd quarter with $1.65 million on hand.
• NV-Sen: The heat is getting turned up on John Ensign; Barbara Boxer confirmed today that the Senate Ethics Committee will be taking up the little matter of getting a lobbying job for cuckolded ex-staffer Doug Hampton and then steering him clients as a parting gift. Meanwhile, the GOP’s new candidate in the 2010 Senate race, Sue Lowden, is still clinging to Ensign, standing by earlier pro-Ensign comments at an Elko appearance on Friday, saying that she hopes to have Ensign campaigning on behalf of Republican candidates (including, presumably, herself) next year.
• WI-Sen: Russ Feingold seems to be sitting pretty, with high favorables and little in the way of GOP opposition. His likeliest opponent is Madison real estate developer Terrence Wall, but Wisconsin’s Blogging Blue makes a nice catch about Wall: he loves doing business in Wisconsin so much that all 16 of his business entities are incorporated in Delaware.
• AZ-Gov: Another minor GOP player is jumping into the gubernatorial primary against appointed incumbent Jan Brewer. Former state GOP chair (during the early 1980s) and former member of the university system Board of Regents John Munger is in the race. He joins Brewer and Paradise Valley mayor Vernon Parker, with state Treasurer Dean Martin and some other higher-profile figures considering it too.
• CA-Gov: Maybe this explains why alleged Republican Meg Whitman is running for governor and not for senate: turns out she endorsed Barbara Boxer in 2004 as part of Technology Leaders for Boxer, and gave her $4,000. No word yet on whether Whitman actually got around to voting for her, though.
• MN-Gov: A straw poll at the Minnesota GOP convention sees former state House minority leader Marty Seifert in pole position; he pulled in 37% of the vote among nine candidates. Little-known state Rep. Tom Emmer finished second at 23%, and former state Auditor Pat Anderson was third with 14%. Norm Coleman was also seen mingling with convention-goers (he got a few write-in votes although his name wasn’t on the ballot); he says he hasn’t fully ruled out running, saying he’ll make a decision early next year.
• SC-Gov: Republican AG Henry McMaster, who’s running to succeed Mark Sanford as governor, has run into his own little ethical snafu. He’s having to return $32,500 in illegal contributions that came from five attorneys after he had hired them to work on cases for the state.
• SD-Gov: Republican Lt. Gov. Dennis Daugaard officially kicked off his campaign for the 2010 gubernatorial race. In an apparently all-Scandinavian-American rumble, he’ll face off against state Senate majority leader Dave Knudson in the GOP primary, and the winner will face Democratic state Senate minority leader Scott Heidepriem.
• VA-Gov: The money keeps pouring into the Virginia governor’s race. The DNC is throwing another $1 million into Creigh Deeds’ kitty. Also, the RGA is going on the air with a huge ad buy in the DC market with an ad featuring a testy post-debate Deeds interview.
• WI-Gov (pdf): The Univ. of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Policy Research Institute poll the Wisconsin governor’s race, but primary fields only. Unknowns rule the day: on the Dem side, Milwaukee mayor and ex-Rep. Tom Barrett (who hasn’t confirmed his interest) beats Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, 38-16. On the GOP side, Milwaukee Co. Exec Scott Walker beats ex-Rep. Mark Neumann 39-14, with 4% to Tim Michels. (Barrett is the best known of all the candidates, with a 36/12 favorable.) Current Gov. Jim Doyle heads out of office in net negative territory, with a 43/52 approval, although that still beats a lot of other governors right now.
• WY-Gov: Most of the major players seem to be standing around and waiting to see whether current Gov. Dave Freudenthal challenges the state’s term limit laws in court in order to grab a third term. One Republican isn’t waiting though, becoming the first announced big-ticket opponent: rancher Ron Micheli. He was a state Representative for 16 years and state Agriculture Director under Republican Gov. Jim Geringer.
• NV-03: It looks like the GOP may successfully trade up in the 3rd District. With banker John Guedry bailing out of the race for personal reasons, now it looks like they’ve coaxed former state Sen. Joe Heck out of the gubernatorial primary (where he initially looked like he had a shot at taking out unpopular incumbent Jim Gibbons, but turned into a long shot with the likely inclusion of ex-AG, ex-judge Brian Sandoval in the primary) and into the race against Dem freshman Rep. Dina Titus instead. Heck is still officially mum, but will have an announcement later this week.
• PA-11: Democratic Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien had been a long-rumored primary challenger to long-time Rep. Paul Kanjorski in the 11th, and he made it official over the weekend. O’Brien is clearly emphasizing what a young go-getter he is (compared with the aging Kanjorski), kicking things off with 30 straight hours of campaigning.) Kanjo remains undeterred though, reiterating that he’s running for re-election and looking forward to the debate.
• Generic Ballot: PPP fires up another warning flare about 2010, looking at some of the generic ballot crosstabs. Among voters who don’t like either party, they opt for the GOP 50-14. But there’s a disparity by party line among unhappy voters. The unhappy Republicans will still vote GOP, 66-18, but the unhappy Democrats say they’ll cross over to the GOP, 48-26. On the plus side, there aren’t as many unhappy Democrats as there are unhappy Republicans (20% instead of 33%).
• House: Biden Alert! The VP has been working overtime in the last month appearing at fundraisers for vulnerable House members, helping nearly a dozen members haul more than a collective $1 million. He’s also been assisting with recruiting efforts, most notably with the successful score of Bethlehem mayor John Callahan in PA-15.