Still, Ward might yet win. An independent poll last week from Greg Smith & Associates showed Ward leading Raul Labrador in the primary, 34-16, but with 50% undecided. The general election numbers (PDF) are really weird, though – Smith tested Rep. Walt Minnick “jungle-style” against both Labrador and Ward together. Yeah, Idaho doesn’t do their elections that way, so I don’t get the choice, but in any event, Minnick was at 50% with both Republicans combining for 20%.
• AR-Sen: Bill Halter’s netroots haul has crested $1 million, between MoveOn and ActBlue (led by the PCCC and Daily Kos). On top of all that, the Sierra Club is joining the fray, with its own attack ads against Blanche Lincoln over her attempts to limit EPA regulation. The ads don’t mention Halter by name, though.
• AZ-Sen: John McCain is getting the newest GOP sensation, Scott Brown, to come to Arizona to stump for him. Because, you know, nothing says “Hey teabaggers, vote for me instead of J.D. Hayworth!” than bringing in the New England RINO who gladly took all the teabaggers’ money and support and turned around and voted for a Democratic piece of legislation on his first week on the job.
• CO-Sen: Having seemingly scored big time with his public option letter (at least to the extent of raising his previously very low profile), Michael Bennet seems to be getting very ambitious. The freshman Senator just unveiled a comprehensive package of Senate reforms that he’s authored that’s aimed squarely at undoing the quagmire that the Senate has become, including filibuster reform, eliminating anonymous holds and private-sector earmarks, and barring lawmakers from lobbying… for life.
• KS-Sen: Rasmussen finds that (big surprise) all the action in the Kansas Senate race is the GOP primary (although they didn’t bother polling the hotly-contested primary). Rather than test possible candidate state Sen. David Haley, they just take the “Generic D” route, and find both Reps. Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt beating G.D., 51-26 and 50-29 respectively.
• ND-Sen: The Dems’ leading candidate for contesting the likely takeover of the open Senate seat in North Dakota by Republican Gov. John Hoeven decided against a run, probably sensing the long odds. Former AG Heidi Heitkamp said no (on her brother’s radio show), although rumors suggest she’s interested in running for Governor in 2012, meaning she probably wouldn’t want a big defeat as people’s last memory of her. State Sen. Tracy Potter is already in for the Dems, and businesswoman Kristin Hedger may also get in, as she said she’d defer only to Heitkamp.
• NY-Sen-B: Is Kirsten Gillibrand going to actually be able to waltz to re-election, or will some other moneybags celebrity pop out of the woodwork next week? After having sent Harold Ford Jr. packing, now billionaire publisher Mort Zuckerman decided against a Republican bid (couching it oddly, in that being a Senator would take up too much time from his actual day job). Zuckerman is wise to save his money, as Rasmussen finds Zuckerman losing to Gillibrand 47-36 (not as bad as Marist yesterday, but still not encouraging). Rasmussen also finds Gillibrand beating even George Pataki, 44-42 (although for some reason they don’t poll actual candidate Bruce Blakeman).
• NY-Gov: When it rains, it pours, for David Paterson. The New York State Commission on Public Integrity just released its finding that he violated state ethics laws for securing World Series tickets for himself and friends and then falsely testifying under oath about it. That gets sent over to Andrew Cuomo’s desk on top of the whole meshugas about the state police, which kept building today with the resignation of state police superintendent Harry Corbitt. Maurice Hinchey just publicly said what I’ll bet most other New York Dems are privately thinking: he’s glad he won’t have to run with Paterson upticket from him.
Meanwhile, there’s a ton of snap polling out today about Paterson, of varying degrees of badness for him. Quinnipiac finds his approval at an all-time low of 24/62, although voters say 61-31 he should finish his term rather than resign. SurveyUSA, however, finds a plurality for resignation: 47 say resign, 44 say stay. Rasmussen finds 28 say resign, 53 say stay. Rasmussen also threw in some numbers for the gubernatorial election in November, finding Cuomo winning against Republican Rick Lazio, 55-30. They also tested out gadflyish businessman Carl Paladino, who’s made noises about running. With Paladino as the R, Cuomo wins 56-27, and with Paladino as an I, Cuomo is at 50, with 19 for Lazio and 15 for Paladino.
• OK-Gov: Here’s a path for Democrats to win the Governor’s race in Oklahoma, according to Rasmussen: find a way for state Sen. Randy Brogdon to win the GOP primary. Unfortunately, it seems like the very conservative Rep. Mary Fallin is well on her way to winning the primary against the ultra-conservative Brogdon. Fallin beats Democratic Lt. Gov. Jari Askins 51-37, and AG Drew Edmondson 51-36. Brodgon, however, loses to Askins 42-39 and beats Edmondson 42-41.
• PA-Gov: Quinnipiac released the gubernatorial half of its Pennsylvania poll, and Arlen Specter’s bounce doesn’t seem to have rubbed off much on the Democrats running for Governor… although their main problem, as always, seems to be that no one knows who they are. In the primary, “don’t know” dominates at 59, followed by Dan Onorato is at 16, Jack Wagner at 11, Joe Hoeffel at 10, and Anthony Williams at 2. AG Tom Corbett has no problems on the GOP side, beating state Rep. Sam Rohrer 43-5. In head-to-heads, Corbett beats Onorato 42-32, Wagner 42-30, and Hoeffel 41-30.
• TN-Gov: Here’s another state where it’s still just too damn early to be polling the gubernatorial race. MTSU doesn’t even bother with head-to-heads in the Tennessee race, but finds that Republican Knoxville mayor Bill Haslam (who’s been spending heavily on advertising) has a bit of a leg up, in that he’s the least unknown of the myriad candidates (19% of respondents were actually able to name him). Mike McWherter is the best known Dem (although that may be because he shares a last name with his dad the ex-Gov.).
• HI-01: We’ve gotten confirmation that the May 22 special election to replace resigned Rep. Neil Abercrombie will be an all mail-in affair, saving the state some money but possibly scrambling the parties’ GOTV plans. This election and the special election in PA-12 four days earlier pose a quandary for the NRCC — spend money they don’t really have, in order to take advantage of what seems to be nationwide Republican momentum… or fess up that they really don’t have much chance in either of these districts and save their money for November (or worse, spend the money and lose anyway, as with NY-20 and NY-23). NRCC spokesperson Paul Lindsey seems to telegraph which way the NRCC is leaning: “Considering that one district is the birthplace of President Obama and the other gives Democrats a voter registration advantage of more than 130,000, it is not lost on anyone that we face an incredible challenge in both races.”
• NY-15: Charles Rangel has finally put down his gavel as Ways and Means chair, after he was found to have violated ethics rules. He says it’s a temporary “leave of absence,” but the House’s presiding officer said “the resignation is accepted,” suggesting something more permanent. This comes in the face of a growing wave of opposition within his own party, with a number of members returning his PAC money (ranging from the very vulnerable, like Walt Minnick, to the theoretically vulnerable, like Niki Tsongas). Also, perhaps symbolically important, it came after Artur Davis (running for Alabama governor) became the first CBC member to call for Rangel to give up his gavel.
• OK-02 (pdf): The 2nd seems like a strange choice of a place to poll, but I guess it’s a good test case in terms of a Democratic Rep. in a dark-red district that hasn’t been on anyone’s radar screen as being vulnerable (in the face of utterly no-name challengers). True to form, Dan Boren doesn’t have much to worry about this fall. He’s having no trouble against his anonymous opponents, beating Dan Arnett 49-22, Daniel Edmonds 44-28, and Howard Houchen 48-26. (Teabagging independent Miki Booth pulls in 7 or 8 in each matchup.) Much of that has to do with the level of opposition, but Boren is the first incumbent Rep. PPP has found who’s polling above 50 in terms of approval, at 51/33. Boren’s occasional, um, departures from the party line can be better understood in terms of Barack Obama’s disturbingly low 27/65 approval in the district.
• PA-11: Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien got some help from the left as he fights a primary battle against crusty Rep. Paul Kanjorski; he got the endorsement of two local unions: the Northeast Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council, and the Scranton Building and Construction Trades Council.
• PA-12: Bill Russell released an internal poll showing him beating Tim Burns in the GOP primary in the 12th. That’s not really the newsworthy part; what’s interesting is his internal pollster is Zogby. The pollster that everyone treated as an oracle in 2004 has been reduced to polling on behalf of BMW Direct’s direct-mail-scam frontman? Lord, how the mighty have fallen.
• Census: Guess who’s finally learned to love the Census? Michele Bachmann! Probably after some of her staffers showed her a
puppet show spreadsheet showing how a combination of not enough residents in her district + a Democratic governor and legislature = no more MN-06. At any rate, she’s planning to vote for a largely symbolic resolution to encourage Americans to participate in the Census.
• KY-Sen: Rand Paul makes an interesting point: he’d like SoS (and GOP primary rival) Trey Grayson to recuse himself from his secretarial duties during the May election. In other words, he doesn’t want Grayson to count the votes of the election that he’s running in. (Unsurprisingly, Grayson’s spokesperson says “no.”)
• MA-Sen: An AFL-CIO post-game poll finds that a majority of labor households in Massachusetts went for Scott Brown in the special election, by a narrow 49-46 margin. The one consolation Democrats might take from that failure is that a large majority of respondents said they were “choosing the best candidate” rather than “sending a message to Washington,” which suggests that the success (or lack thereof) of the two campaigns at defining the individual candidates is the main story here.
• NY-Sen-B: This seems to exist mostly at the level of idle speculation, but people in the know are wondering whether Harold Ford Jr.’s apparent entry into the Democratic primary may open the door for other primary candidates who considered the race and then thought better of it to get back in, out of hopes they might shoot the gap in the middle.
• PA-Sen, PA-07: Pennsylvania’s Democratic party chair, T.J. Rooney, is now publicly urging Rep. Joe Sestak to “pull a Gerlach” and bail out of his Senate primary bid while heading back to nail down his suburban swing seat instead. This isn’t that remarkable, as Rooney has been outspoken all year in his desire to avoid paralyzing primaries – but you’ve gotta wonder if Sestak, who’s stalled a bit in the polls lately, is considering it in the back of his mind.
• WI-Sen: Rarely has so much ink been spilled writing about a four-word quotation (“I’m not saying no”), but with that utterance yesterday from ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson, thus begins a whole ‘nother round of speculation as to whether the 68-year-old Thompson’s unlikely bid to challenge Russ Feingold will ever materialize.
• KS-Gov: State Sen. Tom Holland sounds willing to step up and take on the job that no one seems to want: running against Sen. Sam Brownback in the open gubernatorial race in Kansas. Holland represents one of the state’s few purplish areas, with a district that includes part of college town Lawrence, but he clearly plays to win, as seen in the fact that he’s beaten two different incumbent Republicans in his state legislative career.
• AK-AL: Between being kind of old and on everybody’s “most-likely-to-be-indicted” list, Alaska’s Don Young is a tempting target, from both the left and right. He got another primary challenger yesterday: never-before-elected telecommunications executive Sheldon Fisher. Gadflyish businessman and blogger Andrew Halcro (who won 10% as an independent in the 2006 gubernatoril race) has already said he’ll run against Young in the primary, too.
• AR-01: As we reported yesterday, Rep. Marion Berry is sounding kind of unenthused about much of anything right now. Fleshing out that interview we mentioned, Berry said it’s his “intention” to run again, but, as part of a longer excursis waxing philosophical about his own mortality, wouldn’t make an absolute commitment to sticking around.
• HI-01: A fourth entrant (and a third Democrat) seems likely to get into the special election to replace retiring Rep. Neil Abercrombie: state Sen. Will Espero is starting an exploratory committee. Because of the weird all-parties, winner-takes-all nature of the election, the fear is that a Democratic pileup could open the door to a victory by lone Republican Charles Djou – but a recent Mason-Dixon poll of the race finds Djou a distant third behind well-known Democratic opponents Ed Case and Colleen Hanabusa, and it’s unclear whether Espero has the name rec to make much of a dent one way or the other on that.
• MA-10: Republicans in the Bay State are taking a renewed interest in competing in House races there, usually something that gets completely neglected. In the wake of Scott Brown’s victory, former state Treasurer Joseph Malone is now saying that he’s planning to run against Rep. William Delahunt in the 10th, which is probably the least secure district for Democrats in the state; covering Cape Cod and much of the South Shore, it’s at D+5, but the source of some of the darkest red on this week’s map. Delahunt was unopposed in 2008. The GOP is also interested in fielding candidates in the 3rd and 5th against Jim McGovern and Niki Tsongas, two other blue-collar Catholic districts that gave big margins to Brown.
• MS-01: Here’s a surprise: after painstakingly clearing the GOP field for state Sen. Alan Nunnelee and getting him off to a good fundraising start, the NRCC is now meeting with Fox News talking head Angela McGlowan about a run against Rep. Travis Childers in the 1st. McGlowan hasn’t been elected before, but she does have experience as a staff member to Sen. John Ensign.
• NJ-03: In addition to being an NFL player, NJ-03 Republican candidate Jon Runyan is apparently also a gentleman farmer in his spare time. He owns a 20-acre spread in rural New Jersey, but pays only hundreds of dollars in property taxes each year on 15 of those acres thanks to using them as farmland – in order to raise four donkeys. (I’m sure the irony of raising donkeys is lost on no one, although the land probably isn’t zoned to allow for elephants instead.)
• NY-23: The Doug Hoffman camp is touting an internal poll showing him with a big lead over potential rivals for the GOP nomination this year, including the more establishment figure of Assemblyman Will Barclay. Hoffman, still benefiting from a lot of name rec after gaining national attention from the special election, leads Barclay 56-22 in a hypothetical 4-way contest also involving would-be-picks from last time Matt Doheny and Paul Maroun.
• MA-St. Sen.: The good news is that Democrats may have a shot at picking up Scott Brown’s Senate seat in a special election (date TBA). The seat covers parts of Middlesex, Bristol, and Norfolk counties in Boston’s southwestern suburbs. 21-year state Rep. Lida Harkins says she’ll run for the Democrats; physician Peter Smulowitz also intends to run. State Reps. Richard Ross and Elizabeth Poirier may run for the GOP. The bad news? They don’t really need a pickup, as the Dems already have a 34-4 edge now (with one other vacancy in a safe Dem seat to be filled, thanks to the resignation of prison-bound Anthony Galluccio).
• Supreme Court: As you probably know, the Supreme Court opened the door yesterday to a flood of special interest money into the election process with their decision in Citizens United. The case allows corporations, labor unions, and other similar entities to make unlimited independent expenditures on behalf of candidates, although they still can’t make direct contributions to the candidates’ warchests. Rich Hasen’s Election Law Blog and How Appealing have roundups of links to many different discussions as to what all it means. (Everyone seems to agree it’s a big deal, but just how big a deal seems up for debate.)
• Census: Census Director Robert Groves is out with a timetable for all the movements that will occur over the next few months to get the Census up and running, seemingly to be executed with military precision. And if just can’t get enough Census discussion, Groves even has his own blog now.
• CT-Sen: Joe Biden is stopping by Connecticut yet again to fill up Chris Dodd’s coffers with a fundraising event tomorrow. This comes against a backdrop of increasing questions from the press of whether or not Dodd will be retiring (or getting pushed out the door by the party)… suggesting the beginning of the same self-fulfilling downward spiral that dragged down Jim Bunning, who’d similarly worn down his welcome on the other side of the aisle.
• FL-Sen: Marco Rubio is making a strange ploy here, when the substance of his previous campaign has all been more-conservative-than-thou. He now says he would have accepted stimulus funds, had he been governor. Maybe he’s already thinking ahead to how he’ll have to moderate things, once he’s in the general?
• IL-Sen: With the Illinois primary fast-approaching, believe it or not, Alexi Giannoulias is hitting his cash stash to already go on the air with a second TV spot, again focusing on his jobs-saving efforts. On the GOP side, it looks like Rep. Mark Kirk‘s frequent flip-flopping is starting to catch the attention of the legacy media; the Sun-Times and AP are taking notice of his new McCain-ish attempts to harp on earmarks despite his own earmark-friendly past.
• NV-Sen: Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, recently cleared on corruption charges, had previously said that he wouldn’t seek to challenge Harry Reid in the Senate race. Now sources are saying Krolicki is, in fact, “interested.” It’s unclear whether Krolicki sustained an unfixable amount of damage as a result of the charges, though, or what sort of space he could seek to carve out in the already overcrowded GOP primary field.
• SD-Sen: You might recall a while back we noted that Matt McGovern, a clean energy activist, was considering a run to follow in his grandfather George’s footsteps in the Senate. Today he declined a run, leaving the Democrats without any candidate to go up against John Thune next year.
• TX-Sen: South Carolina’s Jim DeMint, increasingly the go-to guy for right-wing kingmaking, issued his fourth endorsement in a Senate primary, although this is the primary that may or may not ever happen. He gave his imprimatur to Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams, who’s been a darling of the rightosphere but who’s polled in the single-digits in the few polls of the special election field.
• MN-Gov: Here’s a fundraising boost to state House speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, who has lots of behind-the-scenes support in her DFL gubernatorial bid but a big name rec deficit against names like former Sen. Mark Dayton and Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak. She secured an EMILY’s List endorsement, giving her a nationwide base to tap into.
• SC-Gov: Mark Sanford may have dodged his final bullet, allowing him to serve out his last year in ignominious peace. A 7-member state House Judiciary subcommittee voted 6-1 against impeachment and instead unanimously for censure. The matter still goes before the full Judiciary committee, but they seem unlikely to reverse course.
• Governors: PPP has one of their frequent good observations: of the nation’s governors who have the worst approval ratings, most of them are ineligible or not planning to run for re-election in 2010 (Baldacci, Doyle, Perdue, Rendell, Schwarzenegger). The three who are running for re-election next year are all likely casualties in their own primaries (Brewer, Gibbons, and Paterson).
• FL-12: Outgoing Rep. Adam Putnam, who’s leaving his job to run for Florida’s Ag Commissioner, has given his endorsement to former state Rep. Dennis Ross to replace him. It’s something of a formality, with no other major GOPers in the race, but should help keep anyone else from last-minute gate-crasing.
• IL-10: Lots of endorsements in the 10th. On the GOP side, state Rep. Beth Coulson got the endorsement of moderate ex-Gov. Jim Edgar, the state’s only recent ex-Gov who’s still on the right side of the law. For the Dems, Dan Seals got the endorsement of the powerful New Trier Township Democrats, while state Rep. Julie Hamos was endorsed by Citizen Action.
• IL-14: Recent dropout Mark Vargas finally confirmed that he’ll be pulling his name off the ballot, leaving only the two biggest names. This comes as a relief to the camp of state Sen. Randy Hultgren, who were worried that name of Vargas (who endorsed Ethan Hastert) would stay on the ballot to split the anti-Hastert vote.
• LA-03: Wondering why no one prominent is leaping at the chance to fill the open seat left behind by Charlie Melancon? They know what we redistricting nerds at SSP already know… that seat is likely to vaporize in 2012, leaving any victory a short-lived booby prize. No elected officials of either party have thrown their hat in yet; attorney Ravi Sangisetty and oil field manager Kristian Magar are the only Dem and GOPer, respectively, who’ve gotten in.
• MN-07: Long-time Rep. Collin Peterson says he won’t decide until February on whether to run for re-election (although he has filed his paperwork to run). That may have a few hearts skipping a beat at the DCCC, where a Peterson retirement would leave another GOP-leaning rural seat to defend — but Peterson says a late decision on sticking around is always standard operating procedure for him.
• NY-19: An initially generic Roll Call profile of Nan Hayworth, the moderate, wealthy ophthalmologist who’s the last GOPer left to go up against Rep. John Hall after more conservative and polarizing Assemblyman Greg Ball dropped out, has some interesting dirt buried deep in the article. They say that county-level party officials aren’t necessarily behind her, that there are three other (unnamed) persons interested in running, and there’s still a movement afoot in the district to get Ball back in the race.
• PA-06: Manan Trivedi, the underdog gaining steam in the Dem primary in the 6th, got an endorsement from a key moderate in the Pennsylvania delegation: the 10th district’s Chris Carney. Doug Pike got his own Congressional endorsement too, although from a little further afield: from Massachusetts’s Niki Tsongas. There are also rumors of a third potential Dem entrant to complicate matters: Lower Merion Township Commissioner Brian Gordon (not to be confused with his commission-mate Scott Zelov, who’s now considering a run on the GOP side).
• TN-08: State Rep. Jimmy Naifeh confirmed that he won’t run in a Democratic primary against state Sen. Roy Herron to take over retiring Rep. John Tanner’s seat. Naifeh, the House speaker for 18 years, is a legendary figure in Tennessee politics and would have posed a big challenge to Herron. Meanwhile, in a sign of their optimism, the NRCC bumped their farmer/gospel singer candidate, Stephen Fincher, up a slot in their three-tiered “Young Guns” program, from “On the Radar” up to “Contender.”
• VA-02, VA-05: The two top contenders in the GOP primary in the 2nd have already had one big proxy fight, backing different candidates in the Dec. 5 primary for an open, dark-red state Senate seat in Virginia Beach. Auto dealer Scott Rigell apparently won the skirmish, backing Jeff McWaters, who defeated Virginia Beach city councilor Rosemary Wilson, who was backed by businessman Ben Loyola. Loyola is running to the right of Rigell (who contributed to Barack Obama last year). Meanwhile, in the 2nd and the 5th, the GOP is faced with the same decision that often bedevils them: pick a nominee by primary election, party canvass, or party convention? With state Sen. Rob Hurt a strong general election contender in the 5th but generating suspicions among the base (for voting for Mark Warner’s tax hike), and with activist-dominated conventions often yielding unelectable candidates (see Gilmore, Jim), the decision can affect the GOP’s general election chances in each one.
• WA-01: Spunky Microserf rides to the rescue, against an entrenched, well-liked suburban Representative… on behalf of the GOP? That’s what’s up in the 1st, where never-before-elected Microsoft veteran James Watkins will go up against Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee, who’s had little trouble holding down the Dem-leaning district.
• NY-Comptroller: The New York Post (so keep the salt shaker handy) is reporting that ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer is still interested in a return to politics, and is looking seriously at the Comptroller’s race. It seemed up in the air as to whether he’d run in the Democratic primary against appointed incumbent Tom DiNapoli (also under reported primary threat from William Thompson) or as an independent.
• GA-St. Sen.: A famous family name is looking to get back into Georgia politics. Jimmy Carter’s grandson, 34-year-old attorney Jason Carter, is looking to run in the upcoming special election in the 42nd Senate district, a reliably Democratic area in western DeKalb County where current Senator David Adelman is resigning to become Ambassador to Singapore. Interestingly, Carter may run into trouble with the district’s large Jewish population, where his grandfather’s name has lost some of its luster because of his pronouncements on the Israel/Palestine saga.
• Mayors: In what seems like an astonishingly fast recount, state Sen. Kasim Reed was confirmed as victor in the Atlanta mayoral race. He defeated city councilor Mary Norwood by 714 votes, losing a grand total of one vote from the original count. Norwood has now conceded.
• House: Here’s a concept from the 70s we don’t hear much about anymore: the “misery index.” But Republican pollster POS dusted off the idea, looking at 13 “change” midterm elections where the average Election Day misery index (unemployment plus inflation) was 10.1, and in which the average loss among the White House party was 26 seats. They point out that today’s misery index is 10.02 (although, assuming unemployment declines over the next year, so too will the misery index).
• Redistricting: Moves are afoot in two different states to make the redistricting process fairer. In Illinois, a statewide petition drive is underway to take redistricting out of hands of the legislature and give it to an independent commission. And in Florida, as we’ve discussed before, two initiatives are on their way to the ballot that would require districts to be compact and not take partisanship into account. The GOP-held legislature is challenging them, however, in the state Supreme Court; part of their argument is that this runs afoul of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision on “crossover” districts in Bartlett v. Strickland.
• Volunteering: Marriage/partnership equality campaigns in three states are looking for help down the home stretch. The best part is, you don’t even have to leave your chair – all three organizations are looking for folks to make calls to help get out the vote. So if you’d like to help, follow the links for Maine, Washington state, and Kalamazoo, Michigan. The folks in Kalamazoo are also looking for in-person volunteers – click here if you are in the area. (D)
• CT-Sen: With Joe Lieberman back to his usual self-promoting mavericky ways, vis a vis the public option, and with the netroots worked up into a lather, it’s a perfect time for Ned Lamont to step back into the spotlight. The 2006 Democratic primary winner attacked Lieberman’s statements, although he sounded interested but noncommital about the idea of a 2012 rematch.
• KS-Sen: Oklahoma’s Jim Inhofe endorsed Rep. Todd Tiahrt in the GOP primary in the open seat Senate race in Kansas. Inhofe seems to be the first sitting senator to endorse Tiahrt (although Rick Santorum already did); several senators (John McCain, John Thune, and Inhofe’s colleague Tom Coburn) have already endorsed the less hardline Rep. Jerry Moran.
• MA-Sen: Rep. Niki Tsongas (the only woman in the Massachusetts House delegation) endorsed AG Martha Coakley in the Dem primary for the upcoming Senate special election. It’s Coakley’s first endorsement from a House member; four other House members have gotten behind Rep. Michael Capuano.
• PA-Sen, PA-Gov (pdf): Franklin & Marshall has another poll of the Pennsylvania races out, and like a lot of other pollsters, they’re finding that people aren’t very enthused about Arlen Specter, and are getting even less enthusiastic, giving him a 28/46 favorable (down from 35/42 in August), and a 23/66 reading on the “deserves re-election” question. Specter currently leads ex-Rep. Pat Toomey 33-31 (down from 37-29 in August), and beats Rep. Joe Sestak in the Dem primary 30-18 (down from 37-11). Sestak loses to Toomey, 28-20. F&M also look at the gubernatorial primaries (no general matchups, though). AG Tom Corbett leads on the GOP side over Rep. Jim Gerlach, 30-8, while the Dem field plays out: 10 for Allegheny Co. Exec Dan Onorato, 9 from Auditor Jack Wagner, 6 for ex-Rep. Joe Hoeffel, 3 for Tom Knox, and 3 for Scranton mayor Chris Doherty.
• SD-Sen: Democrats may turn to an old family name for a Senate candidate against John Thune: Mark McGovern, the 37-year-old grandson of former Senator and presidential candidate George McGovern. McGovern is state director for Repower America, a clean energy advocacy group, and was state director for the 2008 Obama campaign.
• CT-Gov: The campaign for Democratic SoS Susan Bysiewicz is making references to an internal poll that has her trailing by only 6 to the once-thought-unassailable Jodi Rell in 2010, 47-41. (And that assumes Rell runs — given her fundraising, and now the possibility of a hard race, she may not be on track to do so.) The poll also finds Bysiewicz overperforming Stamford mayor Dan Malloy (who loses to Rell 52-31), and beating Malloy in the primary, 44-12.
• SC-Gov: An impeachment resolution against Mark Sanford was introduced today by Republican state Rep. Greg Dellenny during the brief special session. However, fellow Republican speaker Bobby Harrell ruled it out of order, as outside the scope of the special session. It’ll have to wait until January.
• VA-Gov (pdf): Looks like we’ll have to wait another day (and probably a lot longer than that) for signs of life in the Virginia gubernatorial race. Virginia Commonwealth issued their first poll of the race, giving Bob McDonnell a 54-36 edge over Creigh Deeds (51-33 without leaners pushed). Rasmussen chimes in with similar numbers at 54-41 for McDonnell (finding a spreading McDonnell lead like most pollsters; two weeks ago they had it at 50-43). Pollster.com‘s regression line has the overall total moving today to the exact same result: 54-41.
• TX-Gov: Maybe this falls under the category of an endorsement you don’t really want to tout, but Kay Bailey Hutchison needs every vote she can get in what looks like a tight GOP primary with incumbent Gov. Rick Perry. KBH secured the endorsement of Dick Cheney today.
• CA-19: I’m still not sure what conservative Rep. George Radanovich did to wrong the local GOP, but the hunt goes on for an even more conservative Republican to challenge him in the primary. One possible challenger is former Fresno mayor Jim Patterson, who’s looking for a new political gig. (Patterson ran for Congress in 2002 in then-new CA-21, losing the GOP primary to Devin Nunes.) Patterson may also be interested in replacing termed-out Mike Villines in the state Assembly.
• FL-08: Buried in a longer Politico piece titled, appropriately, “Rivals shy away from Alan Grayson” are three more potential Republican challengers: first-term state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, attorney Will McBride (who lost the 2006 Senate primary to Katherine Harris), and businessman Bruce O’Donoghue. O’Donoghue, who’s close to Mel Martinez, sounds like the likeliest of those three to run.
• NY-23: Big money continues to flow into the 23rd on the pro-Bill Owens side, with another $245K from the DCCC, and $200K from the AFSCME. MoveOn.org has also started flogging this race in its fundraising e-mails, saying that it’s a chance to rebuke the Palin/teabagger wing of the GOPers. Meanwhile, Doug Hoffman continues to rack up the endorsements from people that no one in the 23rd has ever heard of: South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, and even Oklahoma House candidate Kevin Calvey and California Senate candidate Chuck DeVore. RNC chair Michael Steele is still standing by Dede Scozzafava, though.
• TN-09: It looks like former Memphis mayor Willie Herenton may self-destruct before Rep. Steve Cohen even lays into him in the Dem primary in the 9th. Herenton is reportedly the target of a criminal probe by the local US Attorney’s office focusing on “personal business transactions” during his time as mayor. Herenton, naturally, is calling the investigation politically-motivated.
• VA-02: Here’s a screwup for Ben Loyola, one of the Republicans jostling to take on freshman Dem Rep. Glenn Nye and one who made a big self-funding impact last quarter. Loyola may have low-balled estimates of the value of a division of his company that he sold to a Swedish firm, at best a disclosure violation in terms of reporting his net worth, and at worst an illegal campaign contribution.
• EMILY’s List: EMILY’s List added four Democratic House members to its list of endorsees. Three are swing-district freshmen (Debbie Halvorson, Ann Kirkpatrick, and Dina Titus), and the other one is the perpetually shaky Carol Shea-Porter.
• WA-Init: A slew of polls out of Washington yesterday and today, containing good news. UW’s Washington Poll finds that R-71 (a referendum in favor of expanded domestic partnership) is passing 57-38, while I-1033 (the latest TABOR-style anti-tax initiative from initiative huckster Tim Eyman) is failing 40-49. These numbers are confirmed by SurveyUSA, which finds R-71 passing 50-43, and I-1033 going down 38-50. The Washington Poll also looks at the King County Executive race, which (though ostensibly nonpartisan) sees Democratic county councilor Dow Constantine beating Republican former news anchor Susan Hutchison 47-34 — they don’t have trendlines, and the only comparison point is SurveyUSA, who last showed Hutchison with a surprising 47-42 lead, so this one still bears watching. The Washington Poll finds Joe Mallahan leading Mike McGinn in the Seattle mayor’s race, 44-36.
• Census: An independent analysis of the effect of the proposed David Vitter legislation that would only count U.S. citizens for purposes of reapportionment finds a very different looking House. California post-2010 would lose five House seats, and Texas would gain only one House seat (instead of the projected three). The proposed change would also spare Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania the expected loss of one seat each. (The study is worth a look also because it projects which states gain and lose seats according to normal rules, and also looks at which metro areas are experiencing ‘brain drain.’)
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.
Niki Tsongas, widow of Democratic presidential candidate Paul Tsongas, is one of the candidates for the special election for Congress in MA-5.
Congressman Meehan has agreed to take the Chancellorship at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and as has been speculated on Blue Mass Group and other outlets, I am indeed running for the US Congress seat he is vacating. As you also may know, it is the same seat my husband, Paul Tsongas held years ago. The University of Massachusetts Lowell is truly fortunate, and I look forward to seeing the Congressman accomplish as much for the Commonwealth’s public universities as he did for the people of 5th.