SSP Daily Digest: 1/6

NE-Sen: After a few months in exploratory committee purgatory (and after screwing up many of the documents associated with said committee), Republican AG Jon Bruning has made it official. He’s now upgraded to Candidate, against Ben Nelson in the 2012 Senate race.

TX-Sen: Local insiders seem to think that Kay Bailey Hutchison is increasingly moving toward another run for Senate in 2012 (after having postponed her resignation a number of times amidst the gubernatorial race, and then having dropped the subject altogether). That speculation seems based mostly on her sheer silence on the issue, though.

IA-Gov: On his way out the door, outgoing Gov. Chet Culver talked up state Sen. majority leader Mike Gronstal as a possible 2014 gubernatorial candidate for the Dems. Culver said Gronstal won’t suffer for his reluctance to put gay marriage up for a statewide vote, which seems to be one of the state’s big flashpoints right now.

WA-Gov, WA-08: This is very unexpected, considering that GOP AG Rob McKenna has had the 2012 gubernatorial nomination staked out for about six years now, but Rep. Dave Reichert is publicly expressing some (or at least not ruling out) interest in a gubernatorial run (a race he’d been encouraged to run in 2004 back when he was King Co. Sheriff, although he ran for House instead). I’m sure local GOPers would prefer he run for Senate, where no viable GOP nominee seems to be on the horizon, rather than creating a fractious gubernatorial primary that might hobble their best shot in decades at winning the governorship. Actually, I’m sure they’d prefer he continue to hold down WA-08 rather than open up the 8th while embarking on a fool’s errand against Maria Cantwell, and with redistricting likely to give him a safer district in Seattle’s southeastern exurbs while opening up a solid-blue WA-10 on the true Eastside, that’s probably what he’ll keep on doing.

CO-03: New Gov. John Hickenlooper just appointed recently-defeated Rep. John Salazar as the state’s agriculture commissioner. Salazar has already said he was open to a rematch with Scott Tipton; the question is whether this makes a rematch less likely or if it’s designed to keep him in the public spotlight. (Speaking of Hickenlooper, if you haven’t read the NYT Magazine section’s long profile of him, it’s worth a read.)

FL-25: Add one more mysterious bit of financial information to the mounting pile of sleaze that’s engulfing David Rivera in his first week on the job: he sold a condominium to his mother’s marketing company (the same company that’s under criminal investigation for its relationship to the Flagler Dog Track) in November, shortly before he paid off $137K in undisclosed loans… also to that same marketing company.

IA-03: Buried in an article on the Iowa redistricting conundrum, which will see the state compacted to four House districts, is an important piece of unexpected news: septuagenarian Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell, who’s been a prime candidate for retirement for a number of cycles now, tells Roll Call that he will be running again in 2012, regardless of what district he gets stuck into. Tom Latham, Bruce Braley, and Dave Loebsack all plan to “plow ahead” as well; only Steve King didn’t comment, although his district, by virtue of geography (having the state’s western half pretty much to itself) seems least likely to get messed with. A collision between Des Moines-based Boswell and Ames-based GOPer Latham seems likeliest to me, but with a commission making the decisions, almost any configuration seems possible.

NC-07: Rep. Mike McIntyre — already in the news today as one of only two Dems who voted against HCR to also say that he’d go ahead and support Republican repeal efforts — is now about to draw a Democratic primary challenger from the left, although one who seems kind of on the Some Dude end of the spectrum. Business counselor Del Pietro says he’ll take on McIntyre.

California: This piece is mostly about House redistricting in the Golden State, but has some thoughts about potential retirements too, given the possibility that redistricting via commission may result in less incumbent protection and various House members getting stuck together (and also given the advanced age of many of California’s long-timers). Jerry Lewis and Pete Stark are listed as most noteworthy possibilities, along with Elton Gallegly (who’s waffled about retirement before), Lois Capps, Gary Miller, and Howard Berman… and Bob Filner is mentioned as a possible San Diego mayor candidate in 2012.

House: This Roll Call piece is mostly a grab-bag of vague quotes and speculation (of course, what article in the Beltway press isn’t), but it does do some useful handicapping on which sought-after House members are likely or unlikely to make the jump to running for Senate in 2012. New York’s Peter King says “I really don’t expect it,” Pennsylvania’s Charlie Dent says he hasn’t “been actively pursuing it,” and Ohio’s Jim Jordan is “leaning against it.” Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan didn’t comment, but has repeatedly said he isn’t looking for higher office anytime soon (and here’s some further confirmation on that from today), while Florida’s Connie Mack IV seems to be moving definitely moving in a Senate direction and Montana’s Denny Rehberg remains studiously vague.

DCCC: DCCC head Steve Israel announced his team of lieutenants for the 2012 cycle, which includes the two other likeliest chairs who got passed over, Joseph Crowley (in charge of fundraising) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (incumbent retention and redistricting). Also on board are Allyson Schwartz (recruitment), Keith Ellison (community partnerships), and Puerto Rico’s Pedro Pierluisi (constituency mobilization).

Mayors: State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams (last seen barely hitting the double-digits in the Democratic gubernatorial primary) has a new gig in mind: he’s publicly expressing his interest in running for Philadelphia mayor, one of the many mayoral races up in November. The only other person to have actively looked into challenging fairly-popular incumbent Michael Nutter is wealthy businessman Tom Knox, who also made a brief appearance in last year’s governor’s race Dem primary.

Twitter: We made it over the 4,000 mark on Twitter; thanks to all our new followers. We’re still taking new applications, though, so we encourage any other fans of microscopic bits of political wisdom to sign on, too.

SSP Daily Digest: 9/2

AR-Sen: To few people’s surprise, Blanche Lincoln folded faster than Superman on laundry day on the public option issue when faced with a non-ridiculous challenge from the right. Still, her erstwhile GOP rival, Gilbert Baker, may not be quite as problem-free as the Beltway media have touted him as; ArkDem provides some essential local color in the diaries.

CO-Sen: This isn’t going to endear the NRSC to the Colorado rank-and-filers (and even the party establishment, like state party head Dickwad Hams Dick Wadhams) any more: they just got caught building websites for former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton. This may help fuel whatever fire is suddenly burning under Weld Co. DA Ken Buck.

MA-Sen: After contrasting reports yesterday about whether ex-Rep. Marty Meehan might or wouldn’t run for Senate, Politics magazine got him on the record saying that he “hadn’t ruled it out” but that he was absorbed in his university chancellor job and that he’d defer to either Vicky or Joe Kennedy. No word on what happens to his $4 million if he doesn’t run.

NY-Gov: The Eliot Spitzer boomlet lasted about one day before he laughed it off, but a quickie SurveyUSA poll verified that he’s still got some political mojo left. 15% of New Yorkers said they’d still vote for him no matter what office, 47% said they might, depending on the office, and only 39% said no way. He also won against David Paterson on the curiously worded question of “who’s better qualified” to be Governor, 41-24, although Rudy Giuliani wins the same question against Spitzer, 59-25.

OR-Gov: As we reported yesterday, ex-Gov. John Kitzhaber made it official this morning: he’s in the race. Former SoS Bill Bradbury, who’s already in the Dem primary, now says he will be announcing something on Sept. 17 (he’d previously alluded to staying in even if Kitzhaber got in, but we’ll have to see what he says now that it’s happened). Meanwhile, SurveyUSA has another snap poll, this time of the favorables of the race’s announced players so far: Kitzhaber has a fave of 33/26, Bradbury is at 21/20, and moderate Republican Allen Alley (the 2008 Treasurer candidate, and a former deputy CoS to Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski) is at a woeful 8/10.

VT-Gov: Two other names for potential GOP gubernatorial candidates have surfaced, in addition to Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie. One is Mark Snelling, who’s never held office before but benefits from a prominent family name (he’s the son of ex-Gov. Richard Snelling and ex-Lt. Gov. Barbara Snelling). Another possibility is former Auditor Randy Brock who served one term, 2004-2006, before losing re-election.

CA-24: Marta Jorgensen, a nurse who held Rep. Elton Gallegly to 56% in 2008, said she’s back for another try in 2010. Gallegly, frequent retirement speculation target, hasn’t formally announced he’s running but informally said he’ll run again.

IL-14: Another GOPer is taking a look at the race against Bill Foster, joining Ethan Hastert and Mark Vargas. Bill Cross is a former member of the Aurora City Council and owns two hardware stores in the district.

KS-03: Rep. Dennis Moore has proven pretty entrenched in his light-red district in the Kansas City suburbs, repelling state Sen. Nick Jordan in 2008 without much trouble. Still, he’s drawn another credible challenge for 2010, from GOP former state Rep. Patricia Lightner.

LA-03: One more name to add to the seemingly endless pile of possible candidates in the open seat in the 3rd: Craig Webre, sheriff of Lafourche Parish (popu. 90,000). The article is strangely unclear about what party he’d be running for — Webre is registered as a Republican, but Democrat Reggie Dupre (the former state Senator whose resignation triggered last week’s successful special election in SD-20) was advising Webre and was the article’s source — although considering how porous party lines can be in Louisiana, that seems typical. Dupre, who just took over as Terrebonne Parish levee director, confirmed that he himself wouldn’t run.

VA-02, 05, 11: The trio of Virginia freshmen (Tom Perriello, Glenn Nye, and Gerry Connolly) have banded together in a joint fundraising committee. Connolly has to be seen as less vulnerable than the other two, but still needs resources for a potentially expensive rematch against Keith Fimian.

CA-Lt. Gov: With the now very-high likelihood that John Garamendi will be heading to Washington DC in a few months, the question arises of who Arnold Schwarzenegger will replace him with. Sorta-moderate state Sen. Abel Maldonado gets the most press; his appointment would open up a Senate seat in a Dem-leaning area that could get Senate Dems closer to that magic 2/3s mark. Assemblyman (and former minority leader) Mike Villines is another possibility; another idea is giving the job to ex-Rep. Tom Campbell in order to pry him out of the Governor’s race. Schwarzenegger is mavericky enough he might appoint a Democrat, too; one name mentioned is former Assembly speaker Bob Hertzberg, who has occasionally cooperated with the Governator.

Seattle Mayor: The mayor’s race in Seattle, between two unknowns (Mike McGinn and Joe Mallahan) who won the primary after incumbent Greg Nickels KO’d himself, briefly threatened to get much more interesting when prominent state Sen. Ed Murray started exploring running as a write-in, sensing an opening for someone who actually knows what the hell he’s doing. Although he could have counted on a lot of both labor and real estate developer support, he decided against it yesterday, aware of the extreme technical difficulty in mounting a successful write-in campaign on weeks’ notice. Murray instead remains the most-talked-about successor to Rep. Jim McDermott, although it seems like he could be waiting another decade for that seat to open up.

SSP Daily Digest: 6/29

FL-Sen: Oh please, oh please: The Club for Growth’s president, David Keating, says that he’s very impressed with Marco Rubio, and may run ads against Rubio’s primary opponent, Charlie Crist (although he said there’s no set timeline for “endorsement”). Politico also points to a strongly anti-Crist new editorial from the Wall Street Journal that, believe it or not, compares Crist to Barney Frank (get your mind out of the gutter… apparently it has something to do with an analogy between hurricane insurance and Fannie Mae).

MN-Sen: Despite the fact that Tim Pawlenty (not running for re-election, but probably running for the Big Show in 2012) is now answerable to the nationwide GOP base rather than to all Minnesotans, he’s not going to obstruct the all-but-inevitable seating of Al Franken. He confirmed on CNN that he’ll certify Franken if Norm Coleman loses his Minnesota Supreme Court case.

NC-Sen: While former state Sen. Cal Cunningham is making some senatorial noises, he says that he won’t commit to a timeline on getting into the race, saying only that he’ll make a “timely decision.”

AL-Gov: We’re up to six Republican gubernatorial candidates now; Bill Johnson, the state director of Economic and Community Affairs, resigned his post on Friday and declared his candidacy. Despite his statewide position, Johnson seems like kind of an odd duck; he was the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri in 1994.

SC-Gov: The behind-the-scenes battle is heating up between Mark Sanford and his Lt. Governor and possible successor (either via resignation or the 2010 election), Andre Bauer. Bauer’s would-be opponents (who would be at a disadvantage if Bauer comes into the election as an incumbent) are already dusting off old lines of attack from his LG primary campaign in 2006, that Bauer is too much of a fast-driving, plane-crashing party boy and not sufficiently conservative. (Bauer’s spokesperson does some very strange pushback in this article, seemingly protesting too much that Bauer is merely a “red-blooded American male” and “straight.”) The New York Times details efforts by Bauer’s camp to exert pressure on legislators to pressure Sanford to resign (which came to public light when Bauer’s camp inadvertently contacted an ally of potential 2010 rival AG Henry McMaster).

Meanwhile, State Rep. Nikki Haley has been encouraging Sanford not to resign (which he says he won’t do) — on the surface because she was one of Sanford’s few legislative allies even before the scandal, but at this point, more importantly because she’s also running in 2010 and would be at a disadvantage if Bauer comes in as a one-year incumbent. She has also issued a statement “fear[ing] for the conservative reform movement” if Bauer takes office. Similarly, McMaster seems reluctant to launch criminal investigations into Sanford — again, the subtext being that would make Sanford’s immediate replacement by Bauer likelier.

WI-Gov: Here’s an interesting rumor: Gov. Jim Doyle may be in line to take over as the next head of the Peace Corps. Not only would this spare us a 2nd re-election run by Doyle, who’s been posting mediocre poll numbers, but, assuming he resigns to take the new post, it would give Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton the chance to run in 2010 with a year of incumbency under her belt.

AL-05: Despite earlier reports that the GOP was happy with their recruit to run in AL-05, businessman and local GOP “minority outreach” coordinator Lester Philip, they’ve recruited a higher-profile figure to run against freshman Rep. Parker Griffith. Madison Co. (location of Huntsville) Commissioner Mo Brooks said he’ll formally enter the race this week.

CA-11: After first flirting with the CA-10 special election and then flirting with the idea of running against Rep. Jerry McNerney in CA-11 in 2010, Contra Costa Co. Sheriff Warren Rupf declared that he isn’t running for Congress, period. Rupf, in fact, basically gave Congress the middle finger, saying his values “don’t line up with the fringes of either party and compromising my values or my priorities is a price I am not willing to pay.”

CA-24: The DCCC has been cajoling Peter Jim Dantona, a local political consultant, to get into the race against longtime Rep. Elton Gallegly in the 24th. Dantona proved his bona fides by almost winning a seat on the Ventura Co. Board of Supervisors in a heavily Republican district. (Another consideration is the possibility that Gallegly, who’s tried to retire before, may turn this district, which Obama won 51-48, into an open seat if faced with a stiff challenge.)

CA-50: A Francine Busby fundraiser in a supporter’s backyard turned into a bit of a melee when the police were called over a noise complaint, ending with the party’s 60-year-old host getting pepper-sprayed and arrested when she wouldn’t give the police her name and date of birth.

FL-24: GOP State Rep. (and former mayor of Port Orange) Dorothy Hukill announced her interest in taking on Rep. Suzanne Kosmas. The NRCC was already highly touting Winter Park City Commissioner Karen Diebel in this race, so it’ll be interesting to see if Hukill is doing this on her own, or if the NRCC kept looking after pre-emptive Dem attacks on Diebel’s stability may have damaged Diebel.

MI-03: Rep. Vernon Ehlers, who’s 75, sounded a little ambivalent about running for another term in 2010. Roll Call does some interesting dot-connecting: Ehlers and SoS Terri Lynn Land are friendly, and her sudden jump out of the governor’s race, where she looked competitive, may have something to do with her getting some insider information on MI-03 being available instead.

NC-08: The GOP is still wondering what to do about a challenge to freshman Rep. Larry Kissell. Oddly, their first choice is a rerun by former Rep. Robin Hayes, who looked clueless en route to losing in 2008 by over 10 points. (Hayes is still considering it, but also helping to recruit other candidates.) Another possible (and more ominous) contender, who hasn’t ruled it out, is Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory, who lost the 2008 gubernatorial race and will be looking for something else to do after his seventh mayoral term ends this year. Union Co. District Attorney John Snyder was also cited as a possible GOPer.

NE-02: Rep. Lee Terry seems to be under a lot of stress lately, as seen by his recent F-bomb-laced freak-out when trying to cross the street in Washington.

Fundraising: Just a friendly reminder: the fundraising quarter ends tomorrow. If there’s a candidate out there who you want to give some early momentum to, now’s the time to contribute.

CA-24: Gallegly Stepping Down?

I just received this email from the campaign of Brett Wagner suggesting that Elton Gallegly may step down by the end of the year, kicking off a special election.

Dear Friend, 

Our congressional district has waited a long time for our 22-year incumbent, Republican archconservative Elton Gallegly, to retire.  And now that my contacts on Capitol Hill are telling me that Mr. Gallegly appears to be preparing to step down early — perhaps later this year, triggering a special election — it’s “incumbent” upon us to build a winning campaign as quickly as possible.

(after all, the best time for a congressional seat to change parties is when it “opens up”)

Should the election to replace Mr. Gallegly be scheduled for later this year — as many expect — it will also have the potential for nationwide impact, helping to set the stage for which party will win the majority in Congress in 2008.

I don’t know what to make of this as I was sure Rick Renzi (AZ-01) was going to step down any minute. Perhaps someone out there has heard something as well?