• HI-Sen: Ex-Rep. Ed Case said he expects to decide by “mid-April” whether he’ll seek Hawaii’s open Senate seat. Case also says that the Merriman River Group took a poll for him and claims he kicked ass in both the primary and general-but he’s only released a couple of selected toplines (click the link if you want them). PPP will have an HI-Sen general election poll out on behalf of Daily Kos/SEIU in the next couple of days.
• ME-Sen: Democrat Hannah Pingree, former Speaker of the state House and daughter of 1st CD Rep. Chellie Pingree, left the state legislature earlier this year. Only 34, she’s lately been managing the family’s inn & restaurant and serving on a local school board, so she seems like a good potential candidate to run for office once again-perhaps even to challenge Sen. Olympia Snowe. But Pingree just gave birth to her first child a week ago, which probably makes her less likely to get back into the game this year.
• MI-Sen: A GOP operative passes along word to Dave Catanese that Pete Hoekstra is turning down the chance to appear at some Lincoln Day dinners-which this source thinks is a sign that Hoekstra isn’t planning to run for Senate. Hoekstra’s would-be pollster (the same guy who was basically spinning lies about PPP last week) vociferously disputes this interpretation. We’ll see, but I personally think Hoekstra is going to tell us he plans to spend more time building turtle fences with his family.
• MT-Sen: Activist Melinda Gopher says she is contemplating a primary challenge to Dem Sen. Jon Tester. She explains her reasoning here. She received 21% of the vote and finished third in the Dem primary for MT-AL last year. I could not find any FEC reports for her.
• ND-Sen, ND-AL: Another good catch by Greg Giroux: ex-Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D) just closed his federal campaign account. While it’s not dispositive, of course, this probably means he’s not interested in seeking his old seat, or the retiring Kent Conrad’s spot in the Senate. Note that Pomeroy didn’t completely slam the door on a gubernatorial run, but I’m guessing that’s not terribly likely, either.
• NM-Sen: New Mexico’s Republican Lt. Gov., John Sanchez, sounded very much like a candidate on a recent trip to DC. He spent some time slagging ex-Rep. Heather Wilson (the only declared candidate so far) in an interview with The Hill, criticizing her moderate credentials, but also being careful to try to put a little daylight between himself and the teabaggers. Sanchez indicated he’d decide “in the spring,” and perhaps hinted he’d announce on or around April 15th… because it’s totally not teabaggish to make a fetish out of Tax Day. He also says he’ll be back in Washington next week to meet with the NRSC (this trip was occasioned by a gathering of the all-important National Lieutenant Governors Association).
• FL-22: Ex-Rep. Ron Klein (D) definitively slammed the door on a rematch this cycle, saying he’s “looking forward to the private sector” (he’s taking a job with the law firm of Holland & Knight). But he did hold out the possibility he might return to office some day (he’s only 53). The same article also mentions a new possible Democratic candidate (despite the entrance of West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel in recent days): state Rep. Joseph Abruzzo, who says he’s keeping his options open. (Abruzzo, hardly alone among Democrats, backed Charlie Crist over Kendrick Meek in last year’s Senate race.)
In other news, a firm called Viewpoint Florida released a very questionable poll pitting Rep. Allen West against Frankel. Really, the only reason you’d put out a survey of a district which is guaranteed to get reshaped is because you’re hoping to set a narrative among people who don’t know better (like, say, the tradmed… this piece doesn’t even mention the word “redistricting”). In addition, the poll is way too Republican, and also purports to be of “likely” voters, about one billion years before election day.
• MI-09 (?): The question mark is there because who knows what districts are going to look like, or where state Rep. Marty Knollenberg-who says he’s considering a run for Congress-will wind up when all is said and done. That name ought to sound familiar: Marty’s dad is, of course,
George McFly ex-Rep. Joe Knollenberg, who lost to current 9th CD Rep. (and potential redistricting victim) Gary Peters in 2008. Of note, Marty sits on a redistricting committee in the state lege, so maybe a House race is his… density.
• NY-25: This is the kind of news I like to hear! Dan Maffei, who lost a heart-breaker last year, sent an email to supporters saying that he is “strongly considering running again” for his old seat. Maffei was always a great vote and a strong progressive voice, despite his decision to take a job after the election with the annoying “moderate” group Third Way. (I don’t begrudge the guy needing to eat, though, and the market was pretty saturated with one-term Democratic ex-Congressmen in need of a job.) We don’t know how this district will wind up, of course, but I’d be surprised if there were nowhere for Maffei to run.
• NY-26: Teabagger David Bellavia looks pretty doomed-despite having enough signatures (in theory), he failed to file a key piece of paperwork with the Board of Elections, which will probably terminate his candidacy. It’s all the more poignant because, according to this article, the other campaigns said they would not challenge his signatures-and seeing as he submitted just 100 more than the 3,500 target, it’s a good bet he was in the danger zone. (Is it really true that Republican Jane Corwin said this, though?)
Speaking of Corwin, she’s got a third ad out, once again returning to small business themes (as she did in her first spot), rather than the negative attacks in her second ad.
• PA-17: Tim Holden could be in that rare bucket of Democrats who might not actually benefit from their seats being made bluer in redistricting. The conservative Holden could have Lackawanna County added to his district, according to a possible GOP plan, which might open him up to a primary challenge from the left. It would also move a couple of ambitious pols from the county into his district, including Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien (who attempted to primary ex-Rep. Paul Kanjorski last year) and Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty. PoliticsPA also says that Holden’s 2010 primary challenger, activist Sheila Dow-Ford, is “rumored” to be considering another run. (Dow-Ford lost 65-35 in a race fueled in large part by Holden’s vote against healthcare reform.)
• VA-05: Last cycle, few establishment figures were as absolutely hated by the teabaggers as now-Rep. Robert Hurt. He won his primary with just 48%, against a typically fractured People’s Front of Judea/Judean People’s Front field. (We really need an acronym for that. PFJJPF, anyone?) The teabaggers have now taken to protesting Hurt’s votes in favor of continuing budget resolutions outside of his district office, but given their feeble efforts to unite around a standard-bearer last time, I’m skeptical that they have the organizational power to threaten Hurt next year.
• Wisconsin Sup. Ct.: The Greater Wisconsin Committee is running a very negative new ad against Republican Justice David Prosser, accusing him of refusing to prosecute a child-molesting priest back when he was a D.A.-and explaining that the same priest went on to molest other kids after a parish transfer.
• Census: New York City pols, led by His Bloomberginess, got wiggy almost immediately after seeing the Census Bureau’s largely stagnant new population figures for the city. Pretty much everyone is convinced that NYC grew by more than 2.1%, because, they say, the bureau undercounted immigrants. And here’s a pretty good supporting piece of data: The city added 170,000 new homes over the last decade, so how could it grow by only 166,000 people? (There are no huge swaths of abandoned properties in New York, though the Census does claim vacancies increased.) As a result, city officials are planning to challenge the figures (which they think should be about a quarter million higher). But it’s worth noting that a similar challenge 20 years ago wound up failing.
• Votes: The New York Times is getting into the party unity score game, finding that (according to their methodology) 14 Dems have voted with Team Blue less than 70% of the time this Congress. It’s pretty much just a list of the remaining white conservative Blue Dogs who sit in red districts, though three names from bluer districts stand out: Dennis Cardoza (CA-18); Jim Costa (CA-20); and Gary Peters (MI-09).
• Louisiana: A state Senate committee passed a plan for redistricting its own lines last Thursday; a vote by the full body could come this week. Notably, the new map increases the number of majority-minority districts from 10 to 11. Things are delayed on the House side, though.
• Virginia: A teachable moment in Virginia: Democrats in the state Senate adopted a rule that would limit the population variance in any new maps to no more than ±2%, while Republicans in the state House are using a ±1% standard. This issue often comes up in comments, but it’s simple: For state legislatures, courts have said that a 10% total deviation is an acceptable rule of thumb-that is, if the difference in population between the largest district and the smallest district is no more than ±5% of the size of an ideal district, then you’re okay. However, at least one map which tried to egregiously take advantage of this guideline (total deviation of 9.98%) was nonetheless invalidated, so while the “ten percent rule” is still probably a reasonable safe harbor, it may not be a sure thing. For congressional maps, it’s even simpler: Districts have to be perfectly equipopulous unless the state can justify the difference as necessary to achieve legitimate state policy. (For instance, Iowa state law forbids splitting counties to draw a federal map; this is considered an acceptable goal by the courts, so Iowa’s districts have slight variances.)