NV-02: It’s Angle Time!

Ralston via Taegan:

Jon Ralston confirms that Sharron Angle (R) will run for the seat of Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV), who is running for U.S. Senate.

He notes the GOP primary “will be something else.”

It’s time to play the music! It’s time to light the lights! It’s time to meet the wingers on the crazy show tonight! Yeah, my friends, I’m in a good mood today. It’s like I can smell the cat fud that hasn’t even been opened yet. It’s not that I expect Angle to win – see Ralston via DavidNYC:

As for that 2nd CD race, Jon Ralston said he’s seen three different internal polls in recent days, all of which show Sharron Angle doing poorly in a one-on-one fight against Krolicki (and also against Heller for Senate). Ralston says he can’t divulge the numbers, but he now thinks that Angle – whom he had previously considered “the favorite” for NV-02 – would need a multi-way primary to have a chance at the nomination.

But this sure as hell ought to be entertaining!

UPDATE: Here’s Angle’s announcement video:

Revisiting Nevada Redistricting: All About Shelley… And Sharron?

(Also at Nevada Progressive)

Here we are again. What, you thought one map was enough? Now that the US Senate race is heating up and speculation is picking up on who will be doing what, I wanted to explore alternative scenarios to one I posted earlier this month. So here’s another option… But I have to warn you, it isn’t pretty.

So what if Shelley Berkley doesn’t run? Last time, we just assumed she was, and certain legislators hope she will so that they can redesign the 1st Congressional District (and form the brand new 4th) to their liking. But hold on, what if Shelley doesn’t run? Certain folks in DC have already been whispering they prefer someone else run for Senate. And now that Dean Heller is officially in the race, they’re making their views more public that they want someone, like Ross Miller or Catherine Cortez Masto, who has already proven ability to win statewide.

So what if Shelley doesn’t run? This is the scenario I explore in the map below.

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NV-02 (The Dark Green District)

Population: 674,966

69.3% White (73.8% voting age)

The State of Play

The geographic map hasn’t changed since last time, but the political one certainly has!

Who’s All In?

Again, it’s now official that Dean Heller is running for US Senate. And now that he’s endorsed Heller for Senate, current Lieutenant Governor Brian Krolicki (R) just may be angling to replace Heller in this seat. And on paper, he seems like the ideal candidate: libertarian-conservative, but not too extreme, and very focused on Nevada issues. However, there are three drawbacks for him:

The Wild Cards

– One, Sharron Angle hasn’t yet figured out where she will run. (And yes, it’s pretty much settled that she WILL run for federal office again!) If she runs for Senate again, it will mean extra heartburn for Heller. But if she runs for this seat again, it will mean extra trouble for Krolicki.

– Two, the outspoken and controversial former USS Cole commander Kirk Lippold has already hinted he’ll also run in NV-02, and Nevada “tea party” icon Chuck Muth may already be anointing him as “THE Tea Party’s Favored Son”. So if Sharron Angle runs for Senate instead and Nevada GOP Chair Mark Amodei remains adamant about staying in the race (and potentially siphoning away critical GOP establishment support for Krolicki), this could be a recipe for yet another embarrassing setback for Krolicki and the Nevada GOP.

– And three, the unexpected may finally happen: A prominent A-List Democrat, State Treasurer Kate Marshall (D), is now considering running. If this comes to fruition and the GOP nominee is either weakened by a brutal primary and/or someone that the GOP establishment won’t be happy to support, then NV-02 just might do the unthinkable for the first time ever (elect a Democrat).

2010 US Senate Results

49.6% Angle (R)

43.8% Reid (D)

Estimated 2008 Presidential Results

49% Obama (D)

48% McCain (R)

Estimated Cook PVI: R+4

Early Race Rating: Leans Republican for now, Tossup if Sharron Angle or Kirk Lippold is the GOP nominee

NV-03 (The Purple District)

Population: 675,257

66.4% White (69.7% voting age)

The State of Play

This district is just slightly more Democratic than its last incarnation, and that’s due to the return of the ritzy Summerlin North and Peccole Ranch (home of Shelley Berkley) Las Vegas neighborhoods to NV-01. The rest of the district remains intact, and the partisan makeup wasn’t too altered thanks to the remaining rural territories and the addition of some semi-rural (Las Vegas) West Side precincts along Sahara and west of Rainbow. And other than forming an even more disturbingly gerrymandered Reno-to-Vegas district, there isn’t anything more that can be done to save Joe Heck. And considering Heck’s recent vote to preserve the FHA program assisting  homeowners with underwater loans (which is badly needed in the district with the highest foreclosure rate in the country), he now realizes he will need to tack to the middle at times and at least pay some lip service to issues Southern Nevada cares about most (like housing and jobs) to win this still closely divided district.

Who’s All In?

See above. Heck looks to be preparing for reelection already. And since there’s a penchant for close elections and for ticket splitting here, he certainly shouldn’t be counted out in a district that President Obama will probably only narrowly win next year.

The Wild Cards

Should Heck prove to be “too independent” for teabaggers’ liking, or if/when he runs for another office later in the decade, State Senators Elizabeth Halseth (R-Northwest) and Barbara Cegavske (R-Summerlin) will likely remain waiting in the wings. But with the removal of Summerlin North, it may be a little harder to find a West Side Democrat to run here. However, Democrats may want to look at the other end of the valley (particularly at a couple folks on the Henderson City Council) for future recruits.

2010 US Senate Results

48.2% Angle (R)

46.5% Reid (D)

Estimated 2008 Presidential Results

51% Obama (D)

46% McCain (R)

Estimated Cook PVI: R+2

Early Race Rating: Leans Republican

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NV-01 (The Baby Blue District)

Population: 675,092

43.7% Latino (38.1% voting age), 32.2% White (37.6% voting age), 14.4% African American (14.4% voting age)

The State of Play

Shelley is back… Or at the very least, this seat is hers as long as she wants it. If Shelley Berkley does decide to sit out the Senate race next year and stay in The House for now, she still has a super safe seat ready for her.

This seat is just slightly more Republican than the last version, but still slightly more Democratic than the NV-01 drawn in 2001. And again, that’s just because the district (once again) has to stretch west toward Red Rock Canyon to dip into Shelley’s elegant stomping grounds of Peccole Ranch and Summerlin North. However, this does very much alter the ultimate state of play here.

Who’s All In?

Without Summmerlin, this district can finally send a North Las Vegas politico like State Senators Steven Horsford or Ruben Kihuen to Congress. But with this configuration, high turnout West End ‘hoods like Summerlin and Desert Shores will probably remain quite dominant in the primary, meaning Shelley will go untouched as long as she wants to remain in NV-01…

The Wild Cards

And should she finally run for higher office or retire later in the decade, a Summerlin area Democrat like State Senator Allison Copening (D-Summerlin) or Clark County Commissioner (and Future Las Vegas Mayor?) Larry Brown (D-Las Vegas) definitely has a good chance here. But if Ruben Kihuen can be patient and turn out his enthusiastic “NorTown” base, he will still have a strong fighting chance as this district continues to inch toward becoming majority Latino and supermajority minority-majority. And honestly, neither can Horsford be counted out, especially if he can wait another cycle or two for Shelley to step aside.

2010 US Senate Results

62.5% Reid (D)

33.1% Angle (R)

Estimated 2008 Presidential Results

66% Obama (D)

32% McCain (R)

Estimated Cook PVI: D+13

Early Race Rating: Safe Democratic, regardless of who ultimately runs here

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NV-04 (Light Spring Green)

Population: 674,936

48.6% White (53.2% voting age), 27% Latino (23.1% voting age), 11.8% Asian American (12.3% voting age)

The State of Play

It’s still open season here… Perhaps even more so if Shelley indeed decides to stay put next door. The district hooks into The West Side to take whiter neighborhoods left out of NV-01, then jumps down to the increasingly diverse Spring Valley, then hops across The Strip to The East Side and some of East Las Vegas (and ultimately to Lake Mead), then climbs uphill to grab the more Democratic leaning Henderson precincts of Green Valley and Green Valley Ranch, then sweeps through the diverse and increasingly Democratic friendly Silverado Ranch communuity, then hops back across The 15 to snatch some minority-majority neighborhoods in the once rapidly growing Southwest.

Who’s All In?

Need we ask? Rory Reid is probably out of the running for good, and Dina Titus‘ political stock continues to rebound. This time, she just might get a seat she can get comfy in.

The Wild Cards

However, Dina also can’t take this seat for granted. Both Former Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley (D-Spring Valley) and current Assembly Speaker John Oceguera (D-Silverado Ranch) are eyeing this district, and both have far better relationships with the Nevada Democratic establishment than Dina Titus.

2010 US Senate Results

56.0% Reid (D)

39.3% Angle (R)

Estimated 2008 Presidential Results

60% Obama (D)

37% McCain (R)

Estimated Cook PVI: D+7

Early Race Rating: Likely Democratic, and will probably be downgraded to Safe Democratic so long as the eventual nominee isn’t caught in a Rory-like scandal

Suffice to say, a whole lot changes if Shelley Berkley decides to stay in The House rather than run for Senate. The Clark based districts will probably have to be gerrymandered at least somewhat to keep everyone happy.

And up north, the fate of NV-02 may very well rest on what Sharron Angle decides to do, and what her once ardent “tea party” supporters think of Brian Krolicki and Mark Amodei. If Angle can regain their trust, or if she runs for Senate instead and allows someone like Kirk Lippold to consolidate the tea tinged Northern Nevada far right base, Krolicki may not be in for an easy ride regardless of whether Dean Heller decides to anoint a successor. And with Kate Marshall now eyeing a run here as well, Democrats may actually have a pickup opportunity up north next year.

NV-Sen: Dean Heller (R) Makes It Official

Via (who else?) Jon Ralston:

In a statement teeming with conservative shibboleths, Rep. Dean Heller announced his candidacy this morning for U.S. Sen. John Ensign’s seat in an email to supporters. Heller has been widely expected to run since he released a poll a few weeks ago showing him crushing Ensign, who announced his retirement last week.

Ralston also has a link to the email itself (PDF).

NV-Sen: Dean Heller (R) Reportedly Set to Enter Senate Race

According to the Nevada News Bureau:

Two reliable sources have confirmed that Congressman Dean Heller said this week he is definitely committed to running in the U.S. Senate race. Heller’s office would not confirm the news this morning when contacted.

Heller’s decision comes as no surprise on the tail of Senator John Ensign’s announcement Monday not to seek a third term. Heller had already signaled his ambitions when his office leaked an internal poll last month showing he was the strongest candidate in a GOP field (that included Ensign) by a 15-point margin.

Jon Ralston also confirms:

Heller is in and has been since he got poll back. They have not set official announce date. But sooner because of Ensign exit.

Sharron Angle, you know you want to.

Home Means Nevada: Redistricting Congress (Part I)

(Also at Nevada Progressive)

It is here. After hours of careful line drawing and days of poring over precinct results, the map has arrived. This is Nevada redistricted, baby!

So will the actual final map look something like this? Honestly, I don’t know for sure. Perhaps legislators on both sides of the aisle will want even safer seats and are willing to configure some gruesome looking districts to get them… Or perhaps last minute talks of redistricting collapse as a casualty in an ongoing state budget brawl, leaving the courts to ultimately draw the lines. But most likely, as is usual tradition, The Nevada Legislature will agree on some sort of last minute budget deal, and on a bipartisan redistricting gerrymander.

Still, this year is different. As population continues to swell in Clark County (Greater Las Vegas), political power is slowly-but-surely shifting southward as well. Clark is destined to pick up as many as three legislative seats from the north, as well as a brand new Congressional District. For the first time ever, three Las Vegas area politicians will likely be sent to The House of Representatives.

And for the first time ever, Nevada will likely have three open House seats! It’s looking increasingly likely that both Rep. Dean Heller (R-Carson City) and Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Las Vegas) will run for the US Senate seat currently held by John Ensign (R-Sleaze), so legislators may very well be drawing the new district map with this in mind. And more importantly, they will likely be keeping in mind that some of their own, as well as a few powerful friends outside, will want to run in each of these open seats.

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In drawing this map, I had several objectives in mind. First, I didn’t want to grossly “over-gerrymander” DeLay style, especially since law suits are already being filed here. But while I didn’t want to go overboard, I did clearly have campaign politics in mind while drawing these districts. There are two minority-majority seats, one having a Latino plurality, designed to elect Democrats, and two seats engineered to be as Republican leaning as possible.

So did I succeed? We’ll have to wait and see. Nevada Democrats may very well see unprecedented primary action in NV-01 and NV-04. And while NV-02 and NV-03 are currently held by Republicans, they will have to continue to fight an increasingly tough battle against changing Reno and Las Vegas demographics in the decade to come.

So enough of me blathering on and on… Let’s check out the new districts!

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NV-02

(The Green District)

Population: 675,162

69.4% White (73.8% voting age)

The State of Play

First up, the second district. (We’re starting north, and heading south.) Dean Heller currently represents this seat. And even though he’s only done so since 2007, it seems pretty natural for him. He’s a long time Carson City person (both in residence and in Nevada political experience), and he has a conservative-but-not-too-fire-breathing persona that allows him to win comfortably a district that only barely voted for John McCain (by fewer than 100 votes!) in 2008.

However, this will likely change. Again, Heller may very well soon announce his campaign for US Senate, leaving this seat open for the first time since Jim Gibbons left this seat to run for Governor in 2006. And due to Reno area growth, NV-02 has to shed some rural territory to meet the new Census Bureau population guideline. So what happens?

Long story short, NV-02 is now a district that narrowly voted for Barack Obama and Sharron Angle. It’s a closely divided district that will provide a challenge for the typically mighty Washoe Republicans, in that they will need to settle on a candidate who can please GOP primary voters while being able to win enough moderate voters in the general election to keep this seat in GOP hands.

Who’s All In?

Again, Dean Heller looks to be out, but a final decision hasn’t yet be made, so he might still surprise us by staying put. Of course, there has also been plenty of talk of Sharron Angle running (again) for this seat. Even though she carried this district by 5.8% in her Senate run against Harry Reid last year, 2012 will be a Presidential year with higher Reno area turnout. And as we saw on the campaign trail last year, Angle couldn’t even make peace with her fellow Washoe Republicans, so she will have a much harder time holding onto this seat than someone like Heller (who narrowly beat Angle in the 2006 NV-02 GOP primary).

The Wild Cards

Funny enough, I haven’t heard much gossip (yet) over who may be angling for this seat… Other than the obvious. And even though they were just recently sworn into The State Senate (one elected, the other appointed), Reno Republicans Ben Kieckhefer and Greg Brower may be attractive to GOP leaders as they likely search for electable mainstream conservatives to stop Sharron Angle. On the Democratic side, the options aren’t quite as wide. Nevada State Treasurer Kate Marshall does live in Reno, but she hasn’t expressed interest in running for Congress… Can Sharron Angle change that?

2010 US Senate Results

49.6% Angle (R)

43.8% Reid (D)

Estimated 2008 Presidential Results

49% Obama (D)

48% McCain (R)

Estimated Cook PVI: R+4

Early Race Rating: Likely Republican if Dean Heller runs here again, but upgraded to Leans Republican if Heller runs for Senate, and upgraded further to Tossup should Sharron Angle run to replace him!

NV-03

(The Purple District)

Population: 674,792

66.5% White (69.7% voting age)

The State of Play

In the “Republican Wave” year of 2010, Joe Heck barely won with less than 50% of the vote and by fewer than 2,000 votes. That worries Nevada Republicans, and that’s why GOP legislators (especially those in Clark) will likely go to the mat to make NV-03 safer for Heck.

Mr. “War Hero” Heck could barely beat supposedly reviled “Las Vegas LIB’RUL!!!” Dina Titus by fewer than 2,000 votes, and for Heck’s campaign to succeed in a likely more Democratic friendly environment in 2012, this must change. So it has… At least here on my map.

Dina’s political base is widely acknowledged to be the progressive minded, ethnically diverse, labor union heavy, and LGBT friendly confines of The East Side, also known as “Paradise Township“, which consists the older neighborhoods just east of The Las Vegas Strip. So to shore up Heck, I removed The East Side from NV-03 and placed it instead in the newly created NV-04 seat (more on that later!).

Now in addition to that, Heck also had a problem much closer to home. Even though Heck lives in Henderson, both he and Sharron Angle lost a number of Henderson precincts just down the hill from him in uber-exclusive Roma Hills, in the slightly older (meaning built in the 1980s and 90s) and increasingly Democratic friendly neighborhoods of Green Valley and Green Valley Ranch. So to further shore up Heck, I also placed these areas in NV-04 (again, more on that later, including who this also helps!).

Instead, I gave Heck only the most Republican friendly parts of NV-03, and supplemented them with mostly GOP heavy areas previously in NV-01 and NV-02. The perennially stylish and upscale Summerlin development (including “retiree heaven” Sun City Summerlin) is almost entirely reunited here, and joined by a number of previously fast growing Northwest and Southwest valley exurbs. From there, NV-03 almost exclusively picks up the most conservative neighborhoods of Henderson, including wealthy Seven Hills and Anthem (including “retirement resort community” Sun City Anthem), as well as Old Henderson. In addition, NV-03 takes in all the rural Clark County communities (such as Mesquite, Primm, and Laughlin) outside The Las Vegas Valley.

Oh, and of course, all those rural areas previously in NV-02, from Ely to Hawthorne to Pahrump, have to go somewhere. They end up here… But they could end up being a double-edged sword for Joe Heck.

Who’s All In?

From all indications, Joe Heck wants to run for reelection, and this map will surely entice him to do so again. However, he’s not completely out of the woods yet. In fact, like the situation in NV-02, he will have to balance appealing to moderate suburban voters who may very well vote for President Obama again (who STILL won this district in 2008) with keeping “tea party” GOP primary voters happy. It’s no easy task.

The Wild Cards

Should “Tea Party, Inc.” ever fall out of favor with Heck, or Heck just decides to run for yet another higher office later this decade, they have a number of local GOPers to choose from. State Senator Elizabeth Halseth (R-Las Vegas) is seen by many as a rising “tea party” superstar, and State Senator Barbara Cegavske (R-Summerlin) is a long time right-wing stalwart. They’re basically Vegas’ answer to Sharron Angle, and Cegavske has already dropped hints of a future Congressional run. And of course, it’s not like “Chicken Lady” Sue Lowden is ever really leaving the political stage any time soon.

However, they can easily be stopped cold in their tracks. Why? Look at the partisan numbers. Angle only barely won this district last year, and Obama may very well win this district again next year. Joe Heck may have a hard enough time locking down this seat, but the task becomes even more difficult should he ever leave (or be primaried out).

Even though the rural areas (save for Mineral County) may be incredibly difficult for any Democrat to win, a Democrat may once again win this district if he or she can run up the margin enough in Vegas. In the future, the incredibly smart and talented State Senator Allison Copening (D-Summerlin) may have a once-in-a-lifetime opening to go from Carson’s Capitol to Capitol Hill… Or perhaps it will be Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen, someone from a long-time “Nevada royal family” who lives in the slice of Henderson staying in NV-03… Or maybe wonky “deficit hawk”, Clark County Commissioner, and current Las Vegas Mayoral Candidate Larry Brown (D-Summerlin)?

2010 US Senate Results

Angle (R) 48.5%

Reid (D) 46.3%

Estimated 2008 Presidential Results

Obama (D) 51%

McCain (R) 47%

Estimated Cook PVI: R+2

Early Race Rating: Leans Republican

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NV-01

(The Blue District)

Population: 675,212

44.4% Latino (38.7% voting age)

31.7% White (37.3% voting age)

14.7% African American (14.7% voting age)

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The State of Play

“Your Favorite Congresswoman”, Shelley Berkley, may soon be looking to move to greener pastures. And who can blame her? She’s back in the minority in The House. She doesn’t have the best relationship with Nancy Pelosi. In many ways, she’s boxed in… Unless she stomps outside that box in her signature bedazzled pumps and forges new ground with a Senate run.

So that may very well happen, and if it does we have yet another open seat battle here in Nevada! But unlike NV-02, all the drama will be in the Democratic primary.

Assuming Shelley runs for Senate, her Summerlin area stomping grounds are moved aside to NV-03 and NV-04, so NV-01 can become more of a minority-majority district and help the state’s Congressional Delegation better reflect the diversity of our fine state.

So instead, some heavily Latino Northeast precincts previously in NV-03 are moved here, even as other heavily Latino East Side precincts are shifted from NV-01 to the new NV-04 seat. Now, Latino and African American heavy North Las Vegas becomes the centerpiece of the district, complemented by the Democratic dominant inner city neighborhoods of Las Vegas.

See the recurring theme here? Notice how this affects the 2012 field below.

Who’s All In?

State Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas) had been seen as a rising star for years, but now he’s made it to the top. He’s among the most powerful pols in Carson City today, as well as the highest ranked African American in state government alongside Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Douglas. His career has been illustrious, but it hasn’t always been easy.

He’s now locked in a tough budget battle with Governor Brian Sandoval (R) and GOP legislators, and he is one of the very people overseeing this entire redistricting process. If he truly wants to run for Congress, he has to make miracles happen in Carson City this year, otherwise…

The Wild Cards

“Conventional Wisdom” here in Vegas may again be turned on its head. After all, this is now a Latino plurality seat. State Senator Ruben Kihuen (D-North Las Vegas) knows this first hand as one of the youngest Senators, as someone raised in an immigrant Mexican American family who climbed his way all the way up here, and as someone who’s succeeded despite earning the ire of the once omnipotent Culinary 226. While Kihuen himself hasn’t expressed interest in running, especially after just being elected as State Senator, his name has been floated around.

State Senator John Lee (D-North Las Vegas) actually has signaled interest in running, but he’s probably too moderate to win the Democratic primary in this district.

And sorry, Republicans, but there are virtually no GOP candidates who even want to try here.

2010 US Senate Results

62.9% Reid (D)

32.3% Angle (R)

Estimated 2008 Presidential Results

67% Obama (D)

31% McCain (R)

Estimated Cook PVI: D+14

Early Race Rating: Safe Democratic

NV-04

(The Red District)

Population: 675,294

49.0% White (53.4% voting age)

27.0% Latino (23.2% voting age)

11.5% Asian American (12.0% voting age)

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The State of Play

This is the story of “The Comeback Kid”. After being beat up and beat down, it’s time to rise again and shine in the glorious Mojave Desert Sun. But wait, whose comeback are we talking about?

Can it be Dina Titus‘? After all, she’s no stranger to comebacks. After her surprisingly-but-still-painfully close loss to Jim Gibbons in the 2006 Gubernatorial Election, she was written off for (politically) “dead”. But when Democrats wanted to contest NV-03 in 2008 (and Harry Reid’s political team wanted to do away with Jon Porter as a possible 2010 candidate against him) and their originally preferred candidate turned out to be a dud, they had nowhere else to go. Dina obliged, and she then found her redemption… Only to lose it again last year, and by less than 2,000 votes! But is Dina’s story really over?

Or can Rory Reid‘s find a new beginning? He was heralded for ending a painful period of local political corruption culminating in the saucy, racy “G Sting” FBI probe that took down a voting majority of Clark County Commissioners for taking bribes from stripper clubs out to put rival clubs out of business. He was commended for thinking ahead and pushing Clark County to take seriously matters of sustainable growth. He was seen as a real contender, then the 2010 Gubernatorial race happened and he was lost in translation as the Reno powers that be championed Brian Sandoval as their “anointed one”. It was so strange to see Rory’s political career cut short so abruptly last year, but can it be regrown?

UPDATE: Apparently the answer to my earlier question is a resounding Hell to the No! Sorry, but Rory did this to himself… Even if he broke no laws. Score one for Teams Titus and Buckley in Round 1.

Or can Barbara Buckley‘s be reborn? After all, she was seen as the most powerful Assembly Speaker seen in ages. She was the once dismissed “bleeding heart liberal” who then rocked the political establishment with legislative accomplishments on everything from patients’ rights to child welfare to home foreclosure mediation and prevention. And at one point, she looked to be quite the formidable candidate for Governor… Until she stepped aside for Rory Reid… But will she be so willing to step aside again?

Funny enough, all three of these big name Clark Democrats live in this newly created Congressional District. It starts in the more Democratic friendly Summerlin area neighborhoods, then leaps down to Buckley’s home base of Spring Valley, then crosses The 15 and Las Vegas Boulevard to jump into Dina’s East Side turf, then turns south to take in Rory’s ‘hood in the Green Valley part of Henderson. Either there will be some heated back room negotiations among party leaders on who gets this seat, or there will be a primary so exciting it may even eclipse the drama of the 2006 Democratic Gubernatorial Primary that Dina wasn’t “supposed to win”.

The Wild Cards

But wait, the list of candidates isn’t even over yet! There’s another potential suitor possibly waiting in the wings. After Barbara Buckley was termed out of The Assembly last year, John Oceguera became the new Speaker. However, this gig won’t last long. He will be termed out himself next year. And even though he himself hasn’t suggested it, his name has also been rumored for a run here. If he wins, he will be Nevada’s first Native American member of Congress. His challenge will probably be succeeding in this legislative session (a shared goal with Horsford) and not letting the recent drama over Las Vegas/Clark County firefighter pay take him down (even though he’s actually a North Las Vegas firefighter, and they’ve had no labor trouble there).

On the Republican side, however, it’s slim pickings. Perhaps Assembly Member Mark Sherwood (R-Henderson) or State Senator Michael Roberson (R-Henderson) can try, but both are far too conservative to even get close. After all, both only barely defeated their Democratic opponents last year.

2010 US Senate Results

55.9% Reid (D)

39.3% Angle (R)

Estimated 2008 Presidential Results

60% Obama (D)

37% McCain (R)

Estimated Cook PVI: D+7

Early Race Rating: Likely Democratic for now… And probably eventually becoming Safe Democratic barring any major scandal or unusually strong GOP candidate.

So this is my first Nevada map, a map I had with state legislators and certain big name pols in mind. In the future, I may draw more maps under different scenarios, such as Dean Heller and Shelley Berkley staying put in The House, or what might happen should The Legislature come crashing down over the state budget, forcing the courts to draw the final lines.

Let me know what you think and/or if you have your own maps to share. 🙂

SSP Daily Digest: 2/23

AZ-Sen: Former GOP Rep. Matt Salmon says he’s considering getting into the senate race. Salmon held current candidate Jeff Flake’s seat in the House before losing the 2002 gubernatorial race against now-DHS chief Janet Napolitano. Speaking of Flake, he was one of only three House Republicans to vote against the GOP-backed spending bill which contained $60 billion in cuts. Teabagger eyebrows were raised, but Flake claims he voted against it from the right, saying it didn’t go far enough.

MA-Sen: Speaking of teabaggers, Scott Brown, when directly asked if he was one (okay, he was asked if he was a “tea partier”), said “No, I’m a Republican from Massachusetts”(and I drive a truck!). I maintain that a tea-fueled primary challenge to Brown is still possible.

MO-Sen, MO-02: GOP Rep. Jo Ann Emerson says she won’t try to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill. Dave Catanese thinks that Emerson’s “moderate profile” would have made it hard for her to win a primary. Also, former MO GOP chair Ann Wagner says she’s still considering the race – but, interestingly, says she also might primary Rep. Todd Akin in MO-02.

NV-Sen, NV-02: Major bummer, sports fans: Sharron Angle says she is NOT running for president, repeat NOT running for president! Hopefully, though, this means she’ll go for the senate again, or possibly the 2nd CD.

RI-Sen: Cranston Mayor Allan Fung says he won’t seek the GOP nomination to challenge Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, citing the huge fundraising hurdles he’d face.

VA-Sen: Attorney David McCormick becomes the latest Some Dude to enter the GOP nomination battle for Virginia’s open senate seat.

WI-Gov: By now you may have already gotten wind of the AFL-CIO poll conducted by GQR on the battle in Wisconsin. It was actually two separate polls taken a few days apart, combined into one. The topline numbers for Gov. Scott Walker don’t look good – 51% job disapproval, and underwater unfavorables to the tune of a 39-49 spread.

CA-36: The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) released a poll on the Dem primary in the race to succeed soon-to-resign Rep. Jane Harman. The numbers, from PPP, show SoS Debra Bowen leading LA city councilor Janice Hahn 33-29, and just 21-20 without leaners. Obviously there are still tons of undecideds.

Hahn also released a poll of her own, taken by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates. She refused to release toplines, claiming only that she has a “five-point lead.” Misleadingly, her poll memo says that “Hahn’s lead is larger than the survey’s margin of error.” The MoE is ±4.9%, so technically, yes, her lead is literally “larger” than the MoE, but it’s not “outside the MoE,” which is the metric people are usually concerned with. The press release accompanying the memo also repeats an amusingly idiotic line of attack on PPP, saying the PCCC survey “is not reliable given the fact that it was conducted by a robo call, rather than by an actual researcher.”

One other detail: Hahn also just picked up the endorsement of new state Sen. Ted Lieu, who won a special election last week. Lieu’s name had briefly surfaced as a possibility for the CA-36 race, too.

CA-41: GOP Rep. Jerry Lewis, seventy-six years old and skipped over for key leadership roles after the GOP takeover of the House, won’t say yet whether he’ll seek an 18th term. Redistricting may play a big role here, as Lewis won’t benefit from another incumbent protection plan, thanks to the new independent redistricting commission CA voters approved last fall.

NY-14: Biden alert! The VPOTUS is in New York City today, doing a fundraiser to benefit both Rep. Carolyn Maloney and the DNC. A little surprised to see Maloney benefitting from this largesse, since Reshma Saujani said she won’t try to primary Maloney again this cycle. (Then again, Reshma’s already flip-flopped on that, so maybe she’ll change her mind yet again.) I suppose it’s possible that this district’s lines will change enough to offer the possibility of a different primary challenger emerging, so this could be a defensive maneuver. Or it could just be a reward to a loyal backer.

NY-24: Did Rep. Richard Hanna plagiarize a Cato Institute paper for an op-ed of his own in the Syracuse Post-Standard? Check it out and decide for yourself.

NY-26: Carl Paladino, already on record as backing Jane Corwin’s candidacy before she was tapped as the nominee, officially (re-)endorsed her. Some teabagger, Lenny Roberto, also endorsed Corwin, but there’s always People’s Front of Judean/Judean Popular Front splits between these guys.

Case in point: Iraq vet (and teabagger) David Bellavia’s been calling local Conservative Party chair Ralph Lorigo, trying to scarf up the Cons’ nomination. Crazy Jack Davis has been doing the same, but Lorigo didn’t speak highly of him. Lorigo is responsible for Erie County, which carries the most weight in the 26th district. His Monroe County counterpart, Tom Cook, is the second biggest cheese, and says he’s also gotten calls from Bellavia, Corwin, and, believe it or not, nominal Dem frontrunner Kathy Hochul. Cook didn’t have kind words about Bellavia, but he noted the obvious truth: state party chair Michael Long is going to make all the decisions, and he appears to be leaning hard toward Corwin.

OR-01: Rep. David Wu apologized for his behavior and said he’s getting treatment (including medication) for whatever ails him… but that he has no plans to step down. Meanwhile, 2010 GOP challenger Rob Cornilles (who lost by 13 points last year) is being talked up for another run but hasn’t decided yet.

UT-02: The NRCC has an ad up (yes, already) attacking Jim Matheson over spending, but NWOTSOTB, so I’m guessing this is what Nathan Gonzales would call a “video press release.”

Philly Mayor: Wealthy businessman Tom Knox says he won’t challenge Mayor Michael Nutter – and in fact, went ahead and endorse Nutter. It looks like the incumbent is probably set to cruise in the Democratic primary.

Crossroads GPS: The Karl Rove dark money front group is launching a $450K radio ad buy, attacking a dozen Dems on spending and supporting ten Republicans. Full list at the link.

NV-Sen: Huge Performance Difference Between Ensign, Heller

Public Policy Polling (1/3-5, Nevada voters):

Shelley Berkley (D): 45

John Ensign (R-inc): 42

Undecided: 13

Oscar Goodman (D): 45

John Ensign (R-inc): 35

Undecided: 20

Catherine Cortez Masto (D): 44

John Ensign (R-inc): 42

Undecided: 14

Ross Miller (D): 40

John Ensign (R-inc): 39

Undecided: 21

Shelley Berkley (D): 38

Dean Heller (R): 51

Undecided: 11

Oscar Goodman (D): 38

Dean Heller (R): 45

Undecided: 16

Catherine Cortez Masto (D): 37

Dean Heller (R): 46

Undecided: 16

Ross Miller (D): 34

Dean Heller (R): 46

Undecided: 21

(MoE: ±3.2%)

Want to make sure Democrats win the 2012 Senate race in Nevada? Find a way to make sure that John Ensign is the GOP nominee. Conversely, want to make sure Democrats lose? Find a way to make sure that Dean Heller is the nominee. At least that’s the initial takeaway from today’s PPP poll. The general electorate seems to loathe Ensign, giving him 35/50 approvals (way below those of Harry Reid, who’s at 46/50), and 56% say he shouldn’t run again in 2012 (compared to 29% who say he should). Heller, by contrast, has 46/23 favorables; the only Dem who competes with that is Oscar Goodman, at 45/21. Shelley Berkley, generally thought to be the Dems’ strongest contender here, has the narrowest fave/unfave spread of any Dem, at only 34/29.

You might remember that in November PPP came out with a poll of the GOP primary, showing Ensign surprisingly far ahead of Heller (and Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki as well), 45-37. So, we might be able to hope for Ensign salvaging his primary (and thus boosting Dem hopes for the general). The primary, of course, still has several ways to not happen… Heller has sent many a conflicted message, happy with his new committee assignments in the House, but on the other hand, many with their finger on the local political pulse seem sure that Ensign won’t even bother trying to run. Jon Ralston, in fact, is out with another piece today predicting just that; his scenario is that midway through the year Ensign is likely to announce he won’t run again, Heller will run to replace him, and the biggest fireworks will be in the NV-02 primary to replace Heller, potentially pitting Krolicki against Sharron Angle.

SSP Daily Digest: 11/22

AK-Sen: A new profile of Sitka mayor Scott McAdams has him sounding unsure about using his newfound celebrity to run statewide again, as he cites the very apparent difficulty of winning statewide as a Democrat in Alaska. In the article is an interesting number that also shows just how well Lisa Murkowski did at getting moderates (and even Dems doing the game-theory thing) to fall in line behind her: Ethan Berkowitz, the Dem candidate in the standard 2-way race for Governor, picked up 96,000 votes, way more than McAdams’ 67,000.

MA-Sen: Here’s a name that we haven’t heard associated with the Senate race, sounding more interested than assumed (well, he’s not sounding interested, but “mum” is not not interested). Barney Frank, who skipped the special election and was assumed not interested at the time because of his age and his chairmanship, is saying “ask me later” about challenging Scott Brown. Maybe being in the minority has changed his mind, since he has no gavel to give up anymore.

ME-Sen: If there was any doubt that Olympia Snowe’s main problem in 2012 will be in the GOP primary, against a teabagger-to-be-named-later, check this out: she just signed on to an amicus brief challenging the constitutionality of the mandate portion of health care reform. That’s, of course, the same bill that she helped vote out of committee (though she voted against it on the floor).

MI-Sen: The GOP field to go against Debbie Stabenow hasn’t really started to take shape yet, but here’s one potential name that’s getting some encouragement within conservative circles to run: soon-to-be-ex-Rep. Peter Hoekstra, who lost the GOP gubernatorial primary. He isn’t ruling it out, but is “predisposed to say no.”

NE-Sen: While the entry of AG Jon Bruning (who has an exploratory committee) is considered pretty much an inevitability, there’s already one Republican formally in the race now: investment adviser Pat Flynn, who sounds like he’ll be flying the tea party flag. Flynn got 22% of the vote in the 2008 Senate GOP primary, losing to Mike Johanns.

NM-Sen: If you’re waiting on pins and needles to find out whether Jeff Bingaman will run for another Senate term, you’ll need to wait a little longer. Bingaman is expected to announce his 2012 plans in March (the usual timetable he’s followed for previous re-elections). The article points out he recently raised $400K at a fundraiser, certainly the actions of a man planning another run.

NV-Sen: It would have taken the confluence of a great Harry Reid campaign and a terrible opponent’s campaign for Harry Reid to win in a year like this, and it looks like that’s what we got. You’ve all seen the post-mortems about how effective Reid’s campaign was, and now here’s a nice Politico piece on the amateur-hour efforts from Team Angle, focusing on her campaign manager Terry Campbell, who often seemed unaware of the timing of ad buys or even how much money they had at a given moment. Maybe most telling: the Election Day phone bank shut down at 5 pm (despite polls being open until 7) in order to go set up the victory party. Never fear, though, it sounds like yet more Angle is on tap for 2012. However, it’s sounding more and more like the plan, instead of running against John Ensign in the Senate primary, will be to run for the open seat in NV-02 assuming Dean Heller runs for Senate. (Another option is running for the state Senate, as her long-time nemesis Bill Raggio will be vacating his Reno-area open seat.)

TX-Sen: Here’s a boilerplate article on the speculation as to whether Kay Bailey Hutchison runs for re-election, but there’s an interesting tidbit buried within: Chet Edwards, who’ll be looking for work soon and has a better profile for running statewide than for his blindingly-red district, is getting a strong push to run on the Dem side. (The Texas Tribune has more on Edwards here. Another, maybe likelier, possibility, is an Obama administration job.)

VA-Sen: The Virginia state GOP has decided to hold a primary to nominate its Senate nominee in 2012, not a convention (as they did in 2008). This is seen as a boost to establishment fave George Allen, who, flamingly right-wing as he is, would still be vulnerable to someone even to the right at a convention, which is dominated by the hardcore faithful. (As seen by Jim Gilmore’s near loss at the ’08 convention to the obscure state Del. Bob Marshall, reported to be interested in another try.)

IL-17: There’s a fair number of defeated Dem House members that seem like it’d a good idea for them run again in 2012, but here’s one that, well, isn’t a good idea, who’s still quick to state his interest. Phil Hare (who lost by a significant margin to a pizza parlor owner in his first actively-contested election) says he’d like to try again. The real question may be what district he’d even be running in, considering that the weird-looking 17th (intended as a downstate Dem vote sink, albeit not a very effective one if the Dem can’t even hold it) is likely to be vaporized in redistricting.

DCCC: It’s official: Rep. Steve Israel will be running the DCCC for the 2012 cycle, as the Dems seek to get back on the offensive. Israel will still need to be approved by the larger House caucus, but having gotten the Pelosi imprimatur, it’s considered a done deal.

Polltopia: Pew is out with even more data on the cellphone polling issue, and it confirms what you probably already know, that the cellphone gap is not only real but growing. They found that in the polls they conducted in fall 2010, the landline-only surveys skewed in the Republican direction by 5.1% more than dual-frame surveys. That’s up from the 2.4% cellphone gap they found in 2008 polling. They also found that dual users (both cellphone and landline) reached by cell are still significantly more Democratic than dual users reached by landline, which would explain much of the skew.

Redistricting: Good news for Dave’s App users. Having just unveiled Dave’s App 2.0 a few weeks ago, now he’s up to Dave’s App 2.0.1, incorporating a few tweaks (such as showing all districts all the time).

SSP Daily Digest: 11/24

AZ-Sen: There are conflicting messages in Arizona in the wake of that surprising Rasmussen poll showing J.D. Hayworth almost even with John McCain in a Republican primary. Arizona’s other senator, Jon Kyl, says Hayworth isn’t likely to run, saying that he’s better-off hosting his radio show. Hayworth himself, on the other hand, just sent an e-mail to his supporters, saying he is in fact considering a race against McCain but first needs help paying down his campaign debt from his 2006 race. A prelude to a real race, or just some conveniently-timed grifting from some easy marks?

CA-Sen: Carly Fiorina is trying to play up her pro-woman cred, even if it means coming off very ideologically confused: she said she would have voted to confirm Sonia Sotomayor, even though that gives Chuck DeVore a lifetime’s worth of ammunition to use against her in the primary. But yesterday she said she “shares Sarah Palin‘s values.” Um, all of them?

IL-Sen: The NYT had a story yesterday giving voice to David Axelrod’s concerns about Alexi Giannoulias’s electability and his regrets about not recruiting Lisa Madigan, which got a lot of play elsewhere. They strangely left out one piece of information, though: Axelrod’s former consulting firm is working for the David Hoffman campaign.

MA-Sen: More endorsements came out in the Massachusetts special election primary. AG Martha Coakley got the endorsement of Planned Parenthood, while Rep. Michael Capuano got the endorsements of the Massachusetts League of Environmental Voters and Black Women for Obama for Change.

NY-Sen-B (pdf): Yet another poll shows Kirsten Gillibrand in so-so shape, as Marist dribbled out the last few results from the poll where the other results were released last week. Even as she gets better-known she still has a middling approval rating (3% excellent, 22% good, 39% fair, 12% poor, 24% unsure). Gillibrand loses 47-45 to ex-Gov. George Pataki, although that race looks very unlikely now (this same sample had Gillibrand down 54-40 to Rudy Giuliani, which still theoretically could happen). One item of good news for Gillibrand, though: she finally nailed down the endorsement of former colleague Jerry Nadler.

IA-Gov: Here’s one more guy who has the potential to get teabagged to death in his GOP primary: ex-Gov. Terry Branstad. Branstad endorsed and raised money for Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson in the 2000 Senate race. Branstad rival Bob vander Plaats says that, as a result, using the same logic that pervades all movies about time travel, Branstad is directly to blame for the current health care bill. And while he’s at it, Branstad is also responsible for the deaths of millions, because he didn’t find a way to kill Hitler.

MA-Gov: Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker already announced his running mate for 2010, and is fits with his financially conservative, socially liberal, insidery approach: he chose state Senate minority leader Richard Tisei. Tisei, one of five Republicans in the Senate, recently came out as gay.

NV-Gov: There’s a new poll of the general election in the Nevada governor’s race, taken by PMI (a firm that previously did a poll of the GOP primary for a conservative website, but this one seems to be taken for the seemingly nonpartisan Nevada News Bureau). They only try out one permutation, assuming that Democratic Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman follows through on his threat to run as an indie. Republican former AG Brian Sandoval wins with 35, followed by Goodman at 28 and Democrat Rory Reid at 21.

OR-Gov: Anti-tax initiative activist Bill Sizemore is kind of like herpes; he goes away, but is never permanently gone. With the GOP field now in shambles, Sizemore surprised everyone by announcing that he’ll run in the gubernatorial primary in 2010. He’s been out of jail for almost a year, so OK… but he may be headed back there if he follows through, as he’s under an injunction preventing him from raising political money. He plans on challenging that in court, though, at least to the extent to be able to raise individual campaign funds and not more initiative funds. If he somehow prevails in the GOP primary, this could lead to a replay of the 1998 governor’s race (where John Kitzhaber demolished Sizemore, 64-30).

LA-02: With early entries by a few heavyweights, maybe we’ll be spared a large and chaotic Democratic primary for the right to beat accidental Rep. Joe Cao in 2010. State Rep. Juan LaFonta, long interested in the race, made official that he’s running; he joins fellow state Rep. Cedric Richmond in the hunt.

NV-02: Do it! Do it! Reno attorney Ken McKenna has apparently been listening to the subliminal voices in his head, and was motivated to pull the trigger on a run against Rep. Dean Heller. (He’ll still face a Democratic primary against elderly ex-state Sen. Jack Schofield.) McKenna represents both personal injury plaintiffs and those accused of Breaking the Law, but he’s best known for his ill-fated suit against Judas Priest over a fan’s suicide. If he thinks he’s likely to win this race, he has another thing coming.

PA-03: Ooops, this isn’t going to endear him much to the party base. Paul Huber, a local businessman who got into the GOP primary field to go against Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, was registered as a Democrat from 1975 until just recently. He switched to the GOP earlier this year. In his defense, he claims he was a “Reagan Democrat” and finally got driven out of the party because of, well, all the usual right-wing grievances.

PA-06: Various developments in the 6th: on the Dem side, state Sen. Daylin Leach pulled his Doug Pike endorsement and switched to neutral, now that it looks like there’s an actual race between Pike and Manan Trivedi. On the GOP side, state Rep. Curt Schroder is facing a difficult primary against wealthy pharma exec Steven Welch, but got a boost via endorsements from seven nearby conservative legislators — including Berks County’s Sam Rohrer, who’s looking at a longshot gubernatorial bid.

PA-11: Anti-immigration wacko wants to run for higher office, but needs supporters to pay down his campaign debt first? Sorry to keep repeating myself, but that’s happening in PA-11 too. Hazleton mayor Lou Barletta has been talking up another run at Rep. Paul Kanjorski, and has set a pre-Christmas deadline for a final decision. But in the meantime, he’s focused on raising donations to pay for his last run while considering his next one.

VA-10: Republican Rep. Frank Wolf has proven extremely tough to pry out of his swing district, and it’s not looking like 2010 will be the year either. Attorney Patrick Lewis, who seemed to be the best bet here, has shuttered his campaign, leaving only two even less-known Dems (Richard Anthony and Dennis Findley) in the field.

CA-LG: As many had expected, Arnold Schwarzenegger picked state Sen. Abel Maldonado to take over as Lt. Governor (now that John Garamendi is in the House). Maldonado is a sometimes-moderate who was one of Ahnold’s biggest allies in the Senate, who broke with other Republicans on budget issues (and probably earned too much of their wrath to survive a 2010 re-election). The Dem-held state legislature is mulling over whether to approve the appointment, which they certainly have the numbers to reject. Calitics is all over it, though, because Maldonado not only has little likelihood of remaining in office come 2011 (Dems he might face would be either state Sen. Dean Florez or LA city councilor Janice Hahn), but also because it would open up SD-15. The 15th is Democratic-leaning turf on the central coast; combined with another opening in SD-12, that’s a route to get over the magic 2/3s hurdle in the state Senate and actually pass a decent budget.

NJ-St. Sen.: Guess who’s kicking himself for not taking over for Jon Corzine during the gubernatorial race’s low-water mark this summer. Now Richard Codey isn’t just not Governor, but now he isn’t even state Senate President anymore. Codey may be beloved by the state’s electorate, but not by his colleagues: he got bounced out of his position to make way for new leader Stephen Sweeney.

Mayors (pdf): It looks like the anti-incumbent sentiment extends all the way down to local races too (OK, that’s not news; Greg Nickels and Tom Suozzi will certainly confirm that for us). A new Clarus poll of next year’s Washington, DC mayor’s race finds a 43/49 approval for mayor Adrian Fenty. Fenty leads the field, but at only 34%, followed by three city councilors: Vincent Gray at 24, Kwame Brown at 13, and Michael Brown at 6.

RNC: If you went to college in the 1990s, you may remember the purity test that got passed around freshman dorms, which went a little like this:

I have:

1) solicited anonymous sex in the airport men’s room

2) claimed to be hiking the Appalachian Trail while actually visiting my mistress in Argentina

3) given a patronage job to the cuckolded husband of my mistress

4) texted an underage page about the size of his member

5) attempted to strangle my mistress

Wait, that’s not it. Anyway, the RNC is passing around a new purity test for future Republican candidates, which they have to score 80% on if they want official party money and support. (There’s been some public pondering whether worldly fellows like Mike Castle or Mark Kirk would even make the cut on this test.) And now the Washington Times (wait, they’re still in business?) is reporting that this test may even apply to NRSC and NRCC money as well.

Photo of the Day: Some days I just don’t know whether to weep for my country, or stand back and laugh my ass off at it.

SSP Daily Digest: 11/10 (Part II)

CT-Sen: Rumors are popping up that ex-Rep. Rob Simmons, still the GOP Senate primary’s frontrunner by most people’s estimation but financially outgunned on a variety of different fronts, may switch to the now-open gubernatorial race. Simmons, however, says his plans are “unchanged,” and touts his foreign policy background, saying that’s much more useful in the Senate. Meanwhile, an interesting CQ piece looks at pro wrestling svengali Linda McMahon’s role in the race, and wonders whether her vast fortunes will really help her that much in a state where a convention attended by party insiders (where Simmons would be favored) is decisive in shaping the field. (Although even if she doesn’t win the convention outright or meet the 15% threshold for getting on the ballot, she can still get on the ballot by collecting enough signatures — certainly an expensive process, but one she could pay for with whatever change she finds under her couch cushions.)

FL-Sen: Here’s about as close as you can get to a Jeb Bush endorsement without his lips actually moving. Bush’s sons, Jeb Bush Jr. and George P. Bush, are headlining a Marco Rubio fundraiser in mid-December.

CT-Gov: Ned Lamont is already staffing up, and a familiar face is going to be one of his key advisors: Howard Wolfson. Wolfson was adviser to Lamont in 2006, but is better known for his lead role in Hillary Clinton’s campaign last year, as well as Michael Bloomberg’s campaign this year.

MN-Gov: Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak ran into a snafu with his campaign still on the launching pad, as the state’s campaign finance board ruled that he spent money on his campaign before he’d filed the campaign paperwork. Rybak paid for a message-testing poll, although it didn’t directly ask questions about the governor’s race. If you want to see the whole polling memo (not something you usually get to see with internal polls), check it out.

WI-Gov: Politics abhors a vacuum, and Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett is acting quickly to fill the vacuum that has formed on the Democratic side of the gubernatorial race. He says he’ll make a decision “one way or the other” by the week’s end.

CO-04: Although state Rep. Cory Gardner is clearly the NRCC’s favorite in the Republican field, that didn’t deter former Ft. Collins city councilor Diggs Brown, who will be announcing his candidacy on Saturday. He had been considered a likely candidate all year, but was on a year-long Army deployment and unable to announce until now. Univ. of Colorado Regent Tom Lucero rounds out the trio of GOPers seeking to take on first-term Dem Rep. Betsy Markey.

FL-13: James Golden, an African-American minister, attorney and former Bradenton city councilor, launched his campaign last week against Rep. Vern Buchanan. Golden will face an uphill fight against the self-funding Buchanan — unless Buchanan, facing ongoing scrutiny over mysterious campaign finance machinations, goes down in a legal implosion.

ID-01: This may be a surprise, or may not — state House majority leader Ken Roberts withdrew from the GOP primary race to take on freshman Dem Rep. Walt Minnick. Roberts cited health reasons. Roberts initially would have seemed to have a leg up based on name recognition, but veteran and former McCain campaign official Vaughn Ward seemed to be capturing most of the buzz, including a good fundraising start and NRCC touting.

IN-03: Democrats have taken notice in the last few cycles of Rep. Mark Souder’s decidedly lackadaisical approach to re-election in this dark-red district, but now someone from the teabaggy right is taking notice too, and launching a primary campaign. Republican Attorney Phil Troyer (a former staffer to Dick Lugar and Dan Coats) announced his campaign today. (This seems less like an ideological challenge, as Souder is down-the-line conservative, as just opportunistic, taking advantage of his sloth.) Tom Hayhurst, who narrowly lost in 2006, is on track to the Democratic nod again.

MN-03: Add a second Democratic challenger to the list in the 3rd: Minnesota PTA president, and executive director of the Minnesota Optometrists Association, Jim Meffert filed to run. He joins psychiatrist Maureen Hackett; they may still both be joined by state Sen. Teri Bonoff, although Meffert says that Bonoff has hinted to him that she’s likely to take a pass.

NJ-03: Best wishes to state Sen. Diane Allen, who is entering treatment for an aggressive form of cancer. The moderate Allen, who lost the 2002 Senate primary and was short-listed for Lt. Governor this year, had been considered a possible candidate against Rep. John Adler in the 3rd.

NV-02: We’ve got another Democrat lined up to go against Rep. Dean Heller in the 2nd (after Cindy Trigg dropped out several months ago), and he has a strong resume. Jack Schofield is a member of the state’s Board of Regents, and is a former state Senator. Unfortunately, he may not be running the most vigorous campaign in the world, as he was a state Senator in the 1970s, and is a World War II veteran (do the math).

NY-23: The Washington Post has a nice, human-level retrospective on Dede Scozzafava’s collapse in the special election and the difference in how the GOP and the Dems treated her, leading to her Bill Owens endorsement. Meanwhile, things continue to play out, as Scozzafava either stepped down from or was stripped of her leadership role in the Assembly Republicans, depending on who you believe. Start counting down to her party switch (not that the Assembly Dems need the help, what with their 109-41 margin).

OH-02: What’s with all these former Apprentice contestants thinking that’s somehow a stepping stone to political office? Surya Yalimanchili is now planning to run as an independent in the 2nd, currently held by GOP Rep. Jean Schmidt. He’s sounding centrist notes so far rather than sounding teabaggy, though, so he may not help the Dems too much by siphoning off far-right Republican votes.

PA-07: One more Democrat is getting into the open seat field in the 7th, although it’s unclear whether she’ll get much traction against state Rep. Bryan Lentz. Environmental lawyer Gail Conner, an Obama convention delegate last year, threw her hat into the ring.

PA-11: Third time’s the charm? It looks like Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta will give crusty Dem incumbent Paul Kanjorski another challenge next year. Barletta fell just a few points shy of knocking off Kanjorski last year, prompting Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien to enter the Democratic primary for the seat. With pressure from both sides, one has to wonder if Kanjo will hit the eject button. (J)

PA-17: Here’s an example of how voting against health care reform does Blue Dogs a fat lot of good: Rep. Tim Holden got about two days of peace before a Republican state Senator started making noises about a campaign against him anyway. Holden has had little in the way of opposition recently, but now he may face David Argall, who represents Holden’s coal-country turf of Schuylkill County. Relatedly, over in Ohio’s 16th, a Cleveland Plain Dealer profile of fellow anti-HCR vote John Boccieri shows how he managed to win over exactly no Republicans while ticking off his base.

PA-19: With Republican Rep. Todd Platts looking to bail on the House and head over to the GAO, candidates are already scoping out the potential special election. Although it’s a dark-red district (R+12), one good-sounding Dem is gearing up: Ryan Sanders, real estate developer, president of the Red Lion Area Business Association, and most usefully, an organizer for the Obama campaign in York County.

UT-02: More fallout from the health care reform vote: Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson (one of the ‘no’ votes) may, as a result, be facing a primary challenge from the left from state Sen. Scott McCoy (Utah’s only gay state Senator and one of its few liberals). The Salt Lake City-based district is still strongly Republican, although it hasn’t presented Matheson with much trouble lately.

MI-St. Sen.: Here’s an interesting look at the fight by Dems to reclaim the state Senate in Michigan (currently held 22-16 by the GOP, but where the majority of seats are open next year), which would give them the redistricting trifecta. Even if they don’t pick it up (or do while losing the gubernatorial race), the state Supreme Court breaks any logjam, making next year’s Supreme Court elections paramount too. The article also contains a map of the Dems’ preferred redistricting plan, to turf out Rep. Vern Ehlers by creating a Dem-leaning 3rd District linking Grand Rapids and Muskegon.

NH-St. Sen.: A special election will be happening in New Hampshire, giving the Dems the chance to add to their narrow lead in the state Senate there (they currently have a 14-10 edge). Republican state Sen. Ted Gatsas is poised to resign after having been elected Manchester mayor. Democratic state Rep. Jeff Goley is set to get into the race, though several other state House Dems are looking at it too.

Mayors: The Seattle mayor’s race has finally come to an end, with as late-breaking ballots are going more toward former local Sierra Club leader Mike McGinn. Joe Mallahan conceded after McGinn’s lead pushed up to nearly 5,000, for a 51-49 edge.

Ads: In the wake of this weekend’s health care vote, the DNC is planning to target 32 House Republicans in Obama districts who voted ‘no.’ They aren’t planning on using paid media yet, but will use the OFA campaign e-mail lists to organize in those districts. Meanwhile, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee is promising ads against 10 ‘no’ votes, saying it’s “payback” time: Barrow, Shuler, Herseth Sandlin, Murphy, Altmire, Nye, Kissell, Adler, Kosmas, and Ross.

Demographics: If you’re like me, you may spend a lot of time wondering how Scandinavian-Americans got so liberal and Dutch-Americans got so conservative. Dreaminonempty takes a look at ancestry and voting patterns in a very interesting diary at Open Left.