SSP Daily Digest: 11/18

AK-Sen: Is there anyone other than Joe Miller left who wants Joe Miller to keep contesting the Senate race? The state GOP organization is now saying it “stands ready to embrace Lisa Murkowski” as the winner of the race, despite her not having won its primary. I’m sure they were secretly ready all along to do so… recall that the person issuing the statement, state party chair Randy Ruedrich, was the guy that Joe Miller was trying to orchestrate a palace coup against, which got him fired from his Fairbanks borough job. I can’t imagine much love lost between Ruedrich and Miller.

IN-Sen: Richard Lugar, who just announced that he’s running for re-election, is laying down a pretty big marker (and one that probably helped convince him to run again). He’s out with an internal poll from American Viewpoint that, while it doesn’t specifically poll the 2012 GOP Senate primary, shows him with huge approvals, though apparently among all voters and not just registered Republicans. He’s at 66% favorable. Two of his potential GOP opponents, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock and state Sen. Mike Delph, have faves of 14% and 7% each.

ND-Sen, NM-Sen: This Politico article doesn’t actually contain any hard facts that are newsworthy, but it does contain one alarming sentence, that both Kent Conrad and Jeff Bingaman are “weighing retirement” (without anything beyond that). Conrad and Bingaman, though both long-timers, are still in their early 60s. Buried deep in the article is also a throwaway line that Jon Kyl is also the subject of retirement “speculation.”

NJ-Sen: That tea party push to have a recall election for Bob Menendez (despite, of course, the universally accepted legal principle that you can’t recall federal officials) seems to have finally died, courtesy of the New Jersey Supreme Court. I’m just surprised the case rose that far through the courts before, y’know, someone thought to crack open their 1L Con Law textbook, but the bright side is that every dollar right-wingers spend on pointless appellate legal fees is a dollar not spent on actually electing somebody. Menendez is up for a regularly scheduled election in 2012, anyway.

NV-Sen: Everyone seems in a fit of instant nostalgia for Sharron Angle today, with the revelation that in the course of the campaign she said “Sometimes dictators have good ideas” (in reference to Augusto Pinochet and privatized pension systems), and the leaked release of the ad that she cut that never got released, probably because it takes a minute to make a point that should take five seconds and because the 70s-disaster-flick-style overacting overshadows any possible message. (You can click here to see the ad, bearing in mind that it opens in Windows Media Player.) The real news that got leaked today that might impact the 2012 race, though, is that none other than John Ensign helped Sharron Angle prep for her debate by playing the part of Harry Reid. I wonder if that’ll be the last nail in the coffin for the reputed Reid/Ensign non-aggression pact?

RI-Sen: Add one more potential name to the roster for a Republican challenger to Sheldon Whitehouse: the state’s GOP chair, Giovanni Cicione (who has been encouraging outgoing Gov. Don Carcieri to run, as well as floating his own name as a last resort), is touting John Robitaille as a possible candidate. Robitaille (Carcieri’s former communications director) performed above expectations in the gubernatorial race in which he was supposed to be a sacrificial lamb, finishing second (though helped along by Frank Caprio’s last-minute implosion).

VA-Sen (pdf): PPP’s Virginia Senate poll had a GOP primary portion that just got released separately; right now, George Allen is the consensus pick, although that may have more to do with the ex-Gov. and ex-Sen.’s broad name rec compared with the rest of the field. Allen is at 46, with the very-unlikely-to-run Eric Cantor at 18, right-wing AG Ken Cuccinelli at 16, Lt. Gov. Bill Boling and ex-Rep. Tom Davis both at 4, and state Del. Bob Marshall (who almost sneaked into the 2008 Senate nomination) at 2.

NY-01, NY-25: Good news in the 1st, bad news in the 25th. Tim Bishop has made up some ground, as of the second day of absentee counting. Bishop picked up 108 votes on Randy Altschuler, cutting Altschuler’s lead down to 275, and that’s with Smithtown, Altschuler’s strongest area, having almost entirely reported. Bishop’s strongest turf is East Hampton, which will begin counting tomorrow. Ann Marie Buerkle, however, gained a small amount of ground in the 25th, contrary to expectations. Her lead is up to 824 votes, after a batch of small batch (230) of challenged ballots from Monroe County got opened and counted. The county to watch, though, will be Onondaga County, which is Dan Maffei’s base and where 7,000 absentees are yet to be counted.

Redistricting: There are three different redistricting articles out today that are worth a read. One is about Texas, where it seems like the GOP is extended about as far as it can go (thanks to victories in TX-23 and likely TX-27); compounding the problem there is something that I’ve been pointing out for years, which is that at least two, possibly three, of its expected four new seats are going to have to be VRA seats, seeing as how the vast majority of Texas’s growth in the past decade has been among Hispanics. Trying to limit the creation of new Hispanic-majority seats will only make it harder to protect Quico Canseco and Blake Farenthold.

There’s also a piece looking at Nevada, more specifically the fight within the Dem-controlled legislature about for whom to tailor NV-04 (which will probably be a Dem-leaning suburban district, conceding a GOP-leaning NV-03 to Joe Heck). Both state Senate majority leader Steven Horsford and new state Assembly speaker John Oceguera have their eyes on the new seat. Finally, there are questions in Florida about just who’s behind the lawsuit, fronted by a bipartisan coalition of Mario Diaz-Balart and Corrine Brown, to stop implementation of Amendment 6, the one bright spot from Florida on Election Day (a new initiative that makes gerrymandering more difficult). The Orlando Sentinel traces the money trail back to a number of state legislators’ groups, including one led by GOP state Sen. Don Gaetz, the guy who… big surprise… is tasked with leading redistricting for the state Senate.

SSP Daily Digest: 4/22

PA-Sen: The founder of the PA chapter of the Club for Growth has called on Pat Toomey to drop out (!), saying that he’s too conservative for Pennsylvania. (No shit.) The Toomey camp fired back with some mostly non-responsive B.S. (D)

CA-Gov: San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom made the official leap from exploring the California governor’s race to being an officially announced candidate yesterday. He joins Lt. Gov. John Garamendi as the only formal candidates in the race, although Garamendi’s campaign is on hold while he pursues the CA-10 special election.

CA-Sen: The California GOP has lined up a “strong second choice” to challenge Barbara Boxer if ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina doesn’t get in the race. African-American talk radio host Larry Elder, who was on Los Angeles’s KABC for 15 years, is meeting with GOP officials, but still sidelined while waiting for Fiorina. (The pro-choice, pro-pot legalization Elder is very much from the libertarian wing of the party.) Assemblyman Chuck Devore is already officially a candidate, but the party seems unenthused about his odds.

NC-Sen, NC-07: Dem Rep. Mike McIntyre says that his re-election to the House is his current “concentration”, but when asked if he’s considering a Senate bid, McIntyre told a local ABC affiliate that “you never say never to anything.” A recent PPP poll had McIntyre trailing Richard Burr by only five points. (J)

TN-09: Rep. Steve Cohen, as a white Jewish man representing a mostly African-American district, is going to always be vulnerable to primary challenges (as seen with last year’s mudfest with Nikki Tinker). It looks like he’ll be facing a serious test this year, as Memphis mayor Willie Herenton has formed an exploratory committee for the House race. Herenton is African-American and has been mayor since 1991, elected five times. On the other hand, there may be some Herenton fatigue going on in this district, as he is under federal investigation, was re-elected most recently with less than 50% of the vote, and announced his resignation in 2008 only to withdraw it shortly after.

NY-20: You know it’s over for Jim Tedisco when major Republicans are telling him to pack it in. Yesterday, ex-Rep. Tom Davis said it was over, and today, state senator Betty Little (who lost the special election nomination to Tedisco) and Dan Isaacs (who’s running for state GOP chair) also called for the pulling of the plug. Isaacs is so upset that he’s reduced to making up new words: “Tedisco appears not able to pull out a victory in an overwhelmingly Republican district; to me that’s the final indignancy.”

MI-02: Roll Call takes a quick look at the race to replace retiring Rep. Pete Hoekstra. On the GOP side, former state rep. Bill Huizenga is the “biggest voice that’s out there,” but state senator Wayne Kuipers is poised to get in, as is former NFL player Jay Riemersma, who’s well connected with the Christian right. (Notice a common thread in those names? This is the nation’s most heavily Dutch-American district.) There are three Democratic state reps in the district, too, but none of them seem to be making a move yet.

Michigan: An interesting white paper obtained from the Michigan GOP shows that they’re quite pessimistic about getting back into power in 2010, despite the advantages they seem to be taking into next year’s governor’s race. Their suburban base has eroded since the 1990s, and their one-note message just isn’t resonating with swing voters anymore.

NRSC: Continuing our theme of unusually reality-based Republicans today, NRSC John Cornyn is sounding an increasingly cautious note about senate prospects in 2010, telling the Hill that it’s “going to be real hard” to keep the Democrats from breaking 60 seats in 2010.

NH-St. Sen.: Ex-Rep. Jeb Bradley, who lost twice to Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, has begun a new, more low-key chapter in his career, as a state senator. He easily won a special election, 61-39, over retired judge Bud Martin, to retain a GOP-held open seat. Dems continue to hold a 14-10 edge in the chamber.

John Sununu Sr. (the state GOP chair) didn’t seem interested in spinning the victory as indication of a new GOP trend in New Hampshire, though. Always a charmer, Sununu’s thoughts instead were:

He said Bradley’s election actually helps [Gov. John] Lynch. Bradley could be counted on to sustain a Lynch veto of the gay marriage and transgender discrimination legislation, “if he (Lynch) finds the strength to veto that garbage,” Sununu said.

Blue Majority: Leslie Byrne for Congress (VA-11)

(From the diaries – promoted by DavidNYC)

I grew up in Miami, a region dominated by Cuba politics, so I have some knowledge of how significant Joe Garcia’s candidacy is in South Florida.  It is a direct challenge to the pay-to-play foreign policy apparatus of the United States, one where sugar interests and right-wing politics determines that we should have a pointless embargo against the Cuban people.  But today I want to announce that we have another significant nomination for the Blue Majority page: Leslie Byrne for Virginia’s 11th district.

Republican Tom Davis is retiring this year, and the district is a good pickup opportunity.  Jim Webb won the district 55%-44% in 2006, Tim Kaine won the district 56%-42% in 2005, while John Kerry lost it by 50-49% in 2004.  It is turning sharply blue; Tom Davis’s wife, Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, lost to Democrat Chap Petersen by 11 points in a race for state Senate.

With such a ripe pickup opportunity, the primary is ferocious.  The Washington Post frames the primary fight within the Democratic party as follows:

Leading the pack are two of the state Democrats’ biggest personalities: Leslie L. Byrne, a former congresswoman, state delegate and state senator with deep roots in the party’s progressive wing, and Gerald E. Connolly, a Latin-quoting, pro-business Democrat who, as chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, represents one in seven Virginians.

Byrne is the long-time progressive movement candidate facing off against developer ally Gerry Connolly.  Byrne’s progressive credentials are first-rate; a liberal member of Congress from 1992-1994, she was an opponent of the war in Iraq from day one, endorsed Howard Dean in 2004, is a favorite of the local netroots, and endorsed fellow war opponent Jim Webb early on.  That endorsement was critical and provided Webb’s campaign with an early boost of legitimacy in his primary against lobbyist Harris Miller, who supported the war in Iraq and thought Bush’s tax cuts were “a great idea”.  Webb defeated racist Republican George Allen narrowly because he presented a clear choice on economic inequality and the war in Iraq, and has turned around and endorsed Byrne’s campaign.

Leslie Byrne has also been endorsed by Raising Kaine, Not Larry Sabato, Anonymous Is a Woman, 750 Volts, and Bryan Scrafford.  To contextualize these endorsements, understand that the Virginia blogs are probably one of the most sophisticated group of progressive bloggers in the country; they helped put Tim Kaine and Jim Webb into office, and the state in play for 2008.

This is a nasty fight, with Connolly up by 22 in his polling and Byrne up by 10 in her polling.  Connolly is generally seen as heavily tied to developers (see all the coming soon on his campaign’s endorsement list), while Byrne’s endorsement list is pretty impressive and shows her commitment to progressive values:

UAW Virginia, CWA, IUPAT, Ironworkers, Plumbers, Operating Engineers, Heating and Asbestos Workers, Washington DC Building Trades Council, AFSCME Virginia, Boilermakers, Operating Engineers, EMILY’s List, UAW International, National Women’s Political Caucus, and EMILY’s List.  

If she win the primary and the general, Byrne will be a great member of Congress.  I emailed back and forth with her over our standard set of questions focusing on key moments of progressive leverage in Congress; the war funding vote in 2007, the FISA vote in 2007, and retroactive immunity for the telecommunications industry.  Here are her responses.

1) How would you have voted on the war funding bill that the Democrats passed in May?

I would have voted against the war funding bill. I have been on record since January,2003 as being against the war and the occupation of Iraq when a dozen former members of Congress and I sent a letter to President Bush not to embark on this foolhardy war.

2) What is your position on the Protect America Act that went through Congress in August, the bill that extended the President’s eavesdropping power3?

I would have voted against it. Warrantless wiretapping, cutting courts out of the process and giving the power to the administration, under any fair reading of the Constitution should be illegal.

3) What is your position on retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies?

I’m against immunity.  The telecommunications companies  who complied (not all did) have some of the highest priced legal talent available. They should have asked for a court ruling before handing over their customers records. I was very pleased that the US House found their voice on this issue.

Byrne has also signed on to the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq, showing leadership now as a candidate for office and facing withering attacks because she spoke out substantively to change the conversation on national security.  

Even though many of us are political junkies, we don’t get many chances to really impact politics in this country.  Primaries, though, are the moments when our influence is felt most keenly, because it is at those times when Democratic activists and Democratic voters really shape the party’s direction.  It’s hard to have a clearer choice than the one presented in this primary in Virginia, so if you want to put money to where it will really matter, give $50 to Leslie Byrne, and let’s send another progressive Democrat to support the fight we started years ago.

Give to Leslie Byrne through Blue Majority

Leslie Byrne for Congress

UPDATE:  Right now, Blue Majority is at 5534 donors.  Since we started the page, here’s what our candidates have done:  Donna Edwards won a primary, Bill Foster is a member of Congress who was pivotal in the FISA fight, Al Franken is winning his primary, Joe Garcia is presenting a fundamental challenge to the fruitless embargo against Cuba, and Darcy Burner and Eric Massa have presented a substantive and responsible plan to end the war in Iraq.  I’d say we got our money’s worth.

One point to note is that these are the salad days of progressive change, with Republicans dropping like flies.  We will not face an environment like this for years, so it is right now when your money matters.  We’ve seen the change that our candidates are already making.

It’s time to support them, so throw in $75 if you can.  Blue Majority is setting a goal of getting to 6500 donors by the end of the quarter.  If you haven’t given, now’s the time.  I just threw in $100.  And now, courtesy of Actblue’s new user account feature, you can store your donation history.  Here’s mine.

My Donations

VA-11: Tom Davis (R) Retiring


Republican Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia announced that he will not seek reelection, issuing a release announcing his retirement this afternoon.

Davis’ Northern Virginia district has been trending in a Democratic direction over the past decades, and offers Democrats a good opportunity to pick up the seat. Already Fairfax County Board of Supervisors chairman Gerry Connolly (D) has formed an exploratory committee, and has high name identification in the district.

Former Rep. Leslie Byrne and retired Naval officer Doug Denneny have also announced their candidacies on the Democratic side.

Businessman Keith Fimian is a leading candidate on the Republican side; he has already raised over $350,000 in individual donation over the past six months.

(Thanks to long-time SSPer Caped Composer for the catch.)

VA-11: Tom Davis Retiring!!!!

Looks like more good news is coming our way as Virginia continues on its blue-trending trajectory– Rep. Tom Davis, a somewhat moderate Republican who was at one point considering running for senate, is retiring from his district.  For the record, he has already declared that he will not run for senate, either.  

Northern Virginia is a growing Democratic region.  This seat should definitely be at the top of everyone’s list as a potential pickup.  So, the question remains . . . who are the top-tier contenders who could bring this seat into our column?

VA-11: Davis’ Campaign Manager to Quit

Evidence of Tom Davis’ impending retirement continues to mount. Red Virginia is reporting that Davis’ campaign manager will soon be on his way out.

Tom’s campaign manager Nick Meads is rumored to be leaving the campaign and returning to his home state of Pennsylvania. This is a HUGE LOSS on top of Foreman and the 2 Chris’s. Who is next, Dave Thomas???

I think it’s a matter of when Davis has his next job lined up before he formally announces the obvious.

VA-11: Davis Emptying Warchest?

Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) has been the talk of retirment rumors following his decision not to run for the US Senate. Those rumors were reinforced today by news that Davis poured $400,000 of his available $1M COH into the hard-fought re-election campaign of his wife, State Senator Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis.

“He already said he is not running for the U.S. Senate next year, and there’s been a lot of speculation he is going to retire from the House,” said Sean O’Brien, director of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership. “This is going to get the rumor mill going even more that he isn’t going to run again and will not need that money. On the other hand, he is supporting his wife, who is a moderate Republican like him.”

Considering that his district scores a PVI of R+0.6, it certainly seems like Davis is tossing aside much needed cash if he's planning on running for re-electiton.

VA-SEN: Republican Party of Virginia endorses Mark Warner for Senate…

The Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) voted today by a margin of 47-37 to hold a convention rather than a primary to select the GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate race in 2008. A convention would cost less and involve only core conservatives, as opposed to a primary which would cost more, but be open to all Republicans, as well as independents and even Democrats. Jim Gilmore has no money and little crossover appeal with moderates and indepedents, while Tom Davis has a lot of money and has based his political career off of appealing to moderates and independents. Thus, a convention is a tacit endorsement of Jim Gilmore to be the GOP nominee in 2008, and a primary is a tacit endorsement of Tom Davis to be the nominee.

Since Jim Gilmore is a stooge who drove the state to ruin seven years ago, then embarassed himself and Virginia with a ridiculous “campaign” for President earlier this year (campaign is in quotation marks, because I don’t know in what reality his fumbling idiocy would be considered as such), he cannot possibly compete with his successor, Gov. Mark Warner, in a general election. Many on this site and others know that I truly believe that Tom Davis can compete with Warner and keep the race competitive and in the “toss-up” category through Election Day. Jim Gilmore cannot, and the very prospect of his nomination inches Virginia more blue. Today, the RPV took a step closer to that prospect, and in all practical effect, has endorsed Mark Warner to be the next Senator from Virginia.

The question is now what Tom Davis decides to do. From what I can see, he has five options:

1) Run for the Senate anyways, keeping consistent on his record, and lose the nomination to Gilmore. ***

2) Run for the Senate anyways, tack to the far right to win the nomination, then lose to Mark Warner for being a flip-flopper who lost his grip with the center.

3) Run for re-election in the House, which is not assured but would be easier than a run for the Senate.

4) Retire from the House and start prepping for a 2012 challenge to Jim Webb.

5) Retire from politics altogether after being sold down the river by his party when he tried to offer them their once chance at holding the seat.

*** It isn’t clear whether Davis would be able to run for his seat if he lost at the convention.

Tom Davis has never aspired to be Governor, and with three strong candidates already (Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling, and George Allen) fighting for the nomination, I don’t see him trying to elbow his way in.

Meanwhile, Jim Gilmore will be lucky to raise a million dollars and get more than 45% of the vote against Mark Warner. On the plus side, the NRSC no longer has a reason to invest in the state. I’m not one to give up on a race (I still believe Montana and New Jersey can be competitive this cycle), especially since I live in Virginia and don’t want Mark Warner to be the next Senator. But since the majority of the RPV Executive Committee disagrees with that goal, I see no reason to hope beyond hope in favor of a turd like Jim Gilmore.

There is still a chance that Tom Davis may be the nominee and that the race will be close, but that chance just got a lot fatter. Congratulations, Democrats, you’ve just practically banked a Senate seat, and you barely had to fight for it.

VA-SD34, VA-Sen: Poll Shows Democrats Leading Mr. and Mrs. Davis

Here’s an interesting nugget from Virginia: a poll testing the strength of Democratic challenger Chap Peterson, who is going up against Republican incumbent Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis, the wife of Rep. Tom Davis, in Virginia’s 34th state Senate district this November.  First, a few caveats about the poll: 1) Not Larry Sabato, the source of the poll, has a good track record of getting inside dope in Virginia, but we don’t know anything about the poll other than its results–crosstabs, margin of error, or even the name of the pollster.  2) State legislative districts are notoriously difficult to poll.  It’s difficult to get a good sample in a small voter pool (it’s hard enough with a congressional district) like a state senate district in Virginia (which contain under 200K people).

That said, take it or leave it (Pollster Unknown, 9/23-24; July results in parens; n=406):

Chap Peterson (D): 46 (38)
Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis (R-inc.): 36 (39)
Undecided: 17 (22)

The battle between Peterson and Devolites-Davis is seen by many as a proxy war of sorts between Tom Davis and former Gov. Mark Warner, who are both vying for the seat of retiring US Senator John Warner.  The poll also tests their strength in the state Senate district, which NLS describes as “the heart of the 11th district”, Tom Davis’ political base:

Mark Warner (D): 53
Tom Davis (R): 35

If this poll is at all accurate (and that’s anyone’s guess, given the questionable track record of state legislative race polls), Tom and Jeannemarie have their work cut out for them in Northern Virginia.

Tom Davis appears on the Colbert Report, preclude to statewide run?

Last night rep Tom Davis, republican of Virginia appeared on Stephen Colbert’s “better know a district.”  This is important for two reasons.  First of all it increases Davis’ visibility amongst younger voters, and as a possible nominee for the 2008 senate seat it will certainly help.  Another thing is that he was the first republican congressman to appear on the show in a LONG time.  Usually they’re too afraid of looking silly to go on, not that he didn’t look silly.  Stephen insinuated Davis was having an affair with DC “rep” Eleanor Holmes Norton because Davis was in favor of Norton’s bill to give DC a seat in the House.  The question is whether this is Davis’ way of getting ready to run for John Warner’s seat should he retire, a sign he won’t run for the seat, or Davis just wanted to have some fun.