SSP Daily Digest: 1/4

KY-Sen: I’ve never heard of Bill Johnson before, but bringing six figures to the table is bound to gain some attention. The western Kentucky businessman, who’s running in the Republican Senate primary, said he’s loaning himself $250,000 to try and garner some notice in the big-$ primary between Trey Grayson and Rand Paul.

LA-Sen: I never thought I’d see the day when urea formaldehyde would become a campaign issue, but Democrats are hoping to use it against David Vitter in the Bayou State. Vitter (who has the backs of Louisiana’s large chemical industry) has been placing a hold on a new EPA administrator’s nomination, partly over concerns that the EPA will more heavily regulate formaldehyde. Unfortunately for Vitter, more than 34,000 Louisiana residents have first-hand experience with urea formaldehyde, outgassing from the paneling of their FEMA-provided post-Katrina trailers.

MA-Sen: Republican State Sen. Scott Brown has an uphill fight in this month’s special election to overcome the state’s Dem lean and perhaps sentimental desires to keep Ted Kennedy’s seat in Democratic hands. Still, he got an endorsement from the state’s most popular conservative: Red Sox great Curt Schilling.

NH-Sen: Salt shaker at the ready? ARG has a new poll out of general election matchups in the New Hampshire Senate race, showing a single-digit edge for Republican AG Kelly Ayotte over Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes, 43-36 (their last poll, from September, also gave Ayotte a 7-pt edge). They also poll Hodes against conservative upstart Ovide Lamontagne for the first time, and, in a bit of a head-scratcher, find a similar margin for the less-known and, one would think, less electable Lamontagne, who leads Hodes 37-31.

MI-Gov: Here’s a Rasmussen poll that slipped our notice over the holidays; as one might expect, Santa Rasmussen had a big lump of coal for John Cherry’s stocking. All three Republicans lead the Democratic Lt. Governor, as other pollsters generally find, but Rasmussen still manages to depart from the other pollsters’ findings: AG Mike Cox, who has generally polled the best against Cherry, here has the smallest edge over him (only 39-34), while loudmouthed right-wing Rep. Pete Hoekstra has the biggest edge (46-32). (This poll was taken before Hoekstra’s grandstanding over the attempted plane bombing, which would serve to raise his name rec outside his western Michigan home turf.) Oakland Co. Sheriff Mike Bouchard leads Cherry 42-32. One hope for Cherry, though, is that, in terms of favorables, he still has higher unknowns than any of the Republicans, giving him room to grow.

RI-Gov: Jan. 4 has been penciled in as the official launch date for Lincoln Chafee’s independent campaign for Rhode Island for a while now. With it comes news that (against a backdrop of mediocre fundraising so far) he’ll be dipping into the family fortune to propel his race; he just lent his campaign another $200K after starting it off with a previous $110K. Compared with Dem state Treasurer Frank Caprio’s $1.5 million, Chafee has a lot of ground to make up. Meanwhile, Republicans would still like a candidate… any candidate.

AL-05: Looks like recent turncoat Parker Griffith is having a busy day today, answering his own phones and making his own coffee. Almost his entire staff resigned en masse today, unwilling to join him on his foray into the Republican fold.

CA-19: Another sort-of-well-known Republican is scoping out the new open seat in the 19th: former SoS, former Assembly minority leader, and 2004 Senatorial loser Bill Jones is considering the race. Fresno city councilor Larry Westerlund is also looking at the race, which already has state Sen. Jeff Denham and former Fresno mayor Jim Patterson in the GOP field… and, as of this afternoon, former CA-11 Rep. Dick Pombo. (I wonder if Tom McClintock is interested in running here? He’s gotta be feeling restless again, having represented CA-04 for a full year now.)

MN-01, MN-02, MN-03: We might actually wind up with a Democratic former elected official running in John Kline’s 2nd but not in the theoretically more-vulnerable 3rd next door. Former state Rep. Shelly Madore of Apple Valley (who was defeated by a Republican in 2008) has decided to get into the race in Minneapolis’s southern suburbs. (H/t Andrew.) Speaking of the 3rd, Democratic challenger Maureen Hackett is the first to hit the airwaves with a new radio spot; she faces a primary fight with state PTA president Jim Meffert, and the winner takes on freshman Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen. Finally, as expected, it only took Republican ex-state Rep. Allen Quist a few weeks to start bringing the crazy over in the 1st, as seen in recent comments that beating “radical” Democrats in Washington is a bigger battle than beating terrorism.

NY-20, NY-Comptroller: Republican John Faso (the former Assembly minority leader and 2006 gubernatorial loser) was getting touted for a number of different races: for a run for Comptroller, against Rep. Scott Murphy in the 20th, or maybe even for NY-Sen-B if no other Kirsten Gillibrand challenger stepped up. It looks like he won’t be doing any of those things, saying it’s “doubtful” he’ll run for anything this year. State party chair Ed Cox is pushing Emil Henry Jr. for the GOP’s Comptroller slot now (Henry, a former Lehman Bros. exec, had earlier been trying to generate some interest for a gubernatorial run, apparently to little avail).

PA-04: Insiders are leaking that former W.D. Pa. US Attorney (and loyal Bushie) Mary Beth Buchanan is increasingly likely to run against Rep. Jason Altmire this year, although the word is she’ll make her decision “soon.” On the flipside, this may mean the likelihood of state House minority whip Mike Turzai running for the GOP is going down.

TN-08: Jackson-area physician Ron Kirkland will be joining the GOP field, now that this seat is a more tempting target with the retirement of long-time Democratic Rep. John Tanner. Kirkland joins “farmer” (or agribusiness kingpin, if you prefer)/gospel singer Stephen Fincher, who’s already off to a big fundraising start.

TX-10: With a nasty hole in the lineup looming with the departure of promising candidate Jack McDonald, here’s a big-time save by veteran Ted Ankrum, who’ll file to take McDonald’s place in the 10th. Ankrum, you might recall, was our 2006 nominee in the 10th, and his strong performance with almost no funding is what drew a lot of Dem attention to the potential winnability of this rapidly-bluening seat. (Speaking of filing, the filing deadline in Texas is today. Primaries are soon, too – March 2nd, with potential run-offs on April 13th. Check out SSP’s full sortable primary calendar, if you haven’t before.)

GA-SoS: With current Secretary of State Karen Handel resigning midterm in order to pursue her gubernatorial bid, Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue got the chance to hand-pick a successor. 38-year-old state Rep. Jim Cole, a member of the House’s leadership, will serve out the remaining year of her term and then run for a full term in 2010. (UPDATE: Or not. Cole has already turned down Perdue’s offer; former state Sen. Brian Kemp now sounds likely to be offered the job. H/t RuralDem.)

Mayors: Lt. Gov Mitch Landrieu’s path to be the next mayor of New Orleans looks even easier now. His main opposition, state Sen. Ed Murray, opted to drop out, acknowledging that he didn’t want to suffer through an expensive and racially-divisive (Murray is African-American) campaign.

NRCC: Looks like we’re not the only ones taking notice of the NRCC’s cash-on-hand problems, as the legacy media start to take notice: Politico observes that right now the NRCC has enough money to fund about one big-name House race, not the dozens they’re trying to put into play with various recruiting successes.

RNC: Reid Wilson has an interesting catch: the RNC is sending money ($20K) to the local party in the Northern Mariana Islands (popu. 86,000), which, of course, don’t have a voting member of the House or any electoral votes. It looks like it may be a little payback from Michael Steele, who owes his chairmanship to votes from the NMI and other insular territories.

Polltopia: Politico also belatedly picks up on another favorite theme in the liberal blogosphere: what the hell is up with Rasmussen’s numbers? Nate Silver judiciously examined the issue too, over the weekend, pointing out that Rasmussen’s well-documented “house effects” aren’t necessarily indicative of bias per se. Rasmussen’s defenders, of course, will point to Nate’s ratings of Rasmussen’s accuracy, which are high; fitting, as their numbers do tend to converge with reality in a race’s final weeks (as we saw last November in NJ and VA). Still, one question wasn’t raised in either of these pieces over the weekend: how to hold Rasmussen to account for showing out-of-whack numbers long before the election, before they start to fall in line with everyone else (and when they, by virtue of Rasmussen’s frequent polling, can play a large role in shaping the conventional wisdom about who’s up and who’s down)?

Maps: A denizen of the forums at Dave Leip’s site has put together an even better set of maps of presidential election results by county, dating back to 1840. (H/t metstotop333.)(D)

Redistricting: A reminder – if you post an entry in the redistricting contest, please e-mail your .DRF.XML file to jeffmd [at] swingstateproject [dot] com. (Instructions for finding your file are here.) This will make it a lot easier for Jeff to judge entries. And the deadline to submit your entry is fast approaching – Sunday, January 10th at midnight Eastern time. (D)

Also, on the redistricting front, Politics Magazine has a lengthy piece on Democrats’ efforts to avoid getting out-hustled by the GOP in both congressional and state-level redistricting. Hint to Bill Burke’s Foundation for the Future and Brian Smoot’s Democratic Redistricting Trust: Reach out to the redistricting geeks here at the Swing State Project. We’re a great untapped resource. One interesting note: This is the first time since the passage of the Voting Rights Act that the White House (and thus the Department of Justice) will be in Democratic hands during the start-to-finish redistricting process. (D)

Census: The Census Bureau is rolling out a $340 million ad blitz over the next few months to make sure that everyone knows about the Census and that they need to participate. The rollout includes two ads (directed by Christopher Guest and starring Ed Begley Jr., which ought to get the right-wingers a-foamin’ at the mouth) during the Super Bowl, but also $80 million in ad outreach to non-English-speaking populations. Talking Points Memo also has a neat observation about Rep. Michele Bachmann, once the Census’s greatest foe but who’s been surprisingly quiet in her criticisms of it lately: she may need to rely on huge Census turnout by Minnesotans to keep Minnesota at 8 seats, and thus, keep her own seat (the likeliest target for elimination if the state needs to drop to 7 and Dems exclusively control the process).  

SSP Daily Digest: 12/31

Redistricting: Just a reminder to anyone who wants to reach for the golden babka — the last day to submit entries in SSP’s redistricting contest is January 10th.

MA-Sen: Sean Trende at RCP has an interesting “what-if” analysis, trying to game out what the Massachusetts senate election results would look like if turnout and voting patterns shifted there in the same way they did in the 2009 VA and NJ gubernatorial races. A lot of caveats, of course, but the bottom line number is interesting – if ultimately implausible. (D) Republican Scott Brown, meanwhile, has raised $600K in December for his bid. (Update: Martha Coakley raised $1 million between November 20th and December 31st, according to a press release from her campaign.)

MD-Gov: In a fundraising letter, Dem Gov. Martin O’Malley raises the specter of a comeback attempt by the man he defeat in 2006, ex-Gov. Robert Ehrlich. Of course, we don’t know if O’Malley actually thinks Ehrlich will run, or if he’s just using the possibility as a way to scare up some scrilla. (D)

AL-07: Former Selma Mayor James Perkins has dropped out of the Democratic primary for Artur Davis’ seat, citing health reasons for his decision. That leaves the primary as a three-way contest between state Rep. Earl Hilliard Jr., attorney and ArturD2 protege Terri Sewell and Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Smoot.

TX-10: Attorney and one-time TV judge Larry Joe Doherty, the 2008 Dem nominee for this seat, declined to run a second time. In an email to supporters, he said he felt it would be wrong to ask his friends to donate to him, since a victory here could be “snatched away in redistricting,” depending upon the outcome of the governor’s race. (D)

MN-State Sen: SSPer MinnesotaMike gives us a rundown on the candidates who are lining up for the special election to replace retiring GOP Sen. Dick Day (of “Dick Day Afternoon” fame).

NY-State Sen: The New York Daily News says that a Senate report is likely to recommend expulsion for Democratic state Sen. Hiram Monserrate.

Maps: This cool site has maps showing the presidential vote by county for every election dating back to 1836. Go get your Van Buren on.

Fundraising: Today’s the last day of the quarter to donate to your favorite House or Senate candidates. If you’re thinking about donating to someone, now would be a good time to do it.

SSP Daily Digest: 12/30

Dave’s Redistricting App: If you use Dave’s App, please don’t close your browser window/tab when you take a break. Whenever you load a new instance of the app, it causes a big bandwidth hit, especially when you open up New York state. So to help Dave conserve bandwidth, leave your browser open once you’ve loaded whatever you’re working on until you’re finished with that project. Thanks! (D)

AZ-Sen: Ex-Rep. J.D. Hayworth says that he may be ready to start “testing the waters” for a primary challenge to John McCain. Hayworth was recently seen in D.C., holding a joint fundraiser with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio that raked in $100,000. Hayworth’s share of the proceeds went directly to help alleviate his outstanding legal bills.

CT-Sen: Well, this is awkward. Before Chris Dodd led the attacks on AIG for its executive compensation fiasco, Dodd was in AIG’s offices, collecting checks from their employees.

MA-Sen: Republican Scott Brown has launched the first ad of his campaign, making a totally cheeseball comparison between himself and JFK.

NY-Gov: Basil Paterson, David’s dad and former SoS, raises the ugly specter of the 2002 gubernatorial primary between Carl McCall and Andrew Cuomo as some kind of “warning” to Cuomo. (D)

AL-05: As we expected, PSC Commissioner Susan Parker has turned down the opportunity to challenge Parker Griffith in 2010. This leaves Democrats without a top shelf candidate, but there are other options worth considering. One potential candidate, state Rep. Randy Hinshaw, talks with Left in Alabama about the campaign that he’d like to see the Democratic nominee run. Doc’s Political Parlor hears that Deborah Bell Paseur is unlikely to run, and that Hinshaw is “as likely as anyone” to go for it. Madison County Commissioner Bob Harrison is also thinking about it.

CA-19: The Defenders of Wildlife are gearing up to do whatever it takes to prevent Richard Pombo from re-entering Congress (as he is considering), even if it means supporting another conservative Republican for the seat of retiring GOP Rep. George Radanovich. Meanwhile, Taniel notes that ex-Fresno mayor Jim Patterson is a Club For Growth protege — so this could be a pretty lively primary.

LA-03: State Rep. Nickie Monica has become the first Republican to file for the seat of Dem Rep. Charlie Melancon.

TX-10: Foreign policy consultant Dan Grant, who lost a 2008 Democratic primary to local celebrity judge Larry Joe Doherty, has taken his name out of consideration as a last-minute replacement for businessman Jack McDonald, who withdrew his candidacy for the seat of GOP Rep. Mike McCaul last week.

NC-10: Here’s something interesting we missed a while back: Iredell County Commissioner Scott Keadle is challenging Rep. Patrick McHenry in the GOP primary, and he’s backed his play with $250K of his own money. It’s not really clear what exactly Keadle’s beef with McHenry is – he seems to be running a 1994-esque campaign, accusing McHenry (who’s only held office since 2005) of turning into a “career politician,” and pledging to serve no more than three terms himself. (Hat-tip: Reader IR) (D)

VA State Sen: Hotline on Call takes a look at a crucial special election between ex-Fairfax Co. School Board member Steve Hunt (R) and Del. Dave Marsden (D). Marsden and Hunt are running to replace Republican AG-elect Ken Cuccinelli. If Democrats somehow win the seat, they’d be able to pad their razor-thin majority in the Senate to 22-18.

NYC-Mayor: The Swing State Project has gotten its hands on the precinct-by-precinct results for the 2009 New York City mayor’s race. You can also check out our entire storehouse of obscure election returns and otherwise-unpublished polling memos at the SSP Document Collection. For some tasty eye candy and analysis, SSP Research Bureau Chief jeffmd has put together some beautiful maps comparing Thompson’s performance to Obama’s. (D)

Polltopia: Pick PPP’s next state polling target: Alabama, Connecticut, Illinois, Florida or Massachusetts.  

TX-10: Top Dem Challenger Drops Out

Well here’s a fresh dose of suck:

Businessman Jack McDonald (D) will drop out of the race against Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX) today, robbing Dems of a wealthy recruit in the race against what could be a vulnerable GOPer.

McDonald, the former CEO of information technology firm Perficient Inc., will cite business reasons in a statement. The Nasdaq-listed company reported last month that its profits had plummeted by some 95% during the economic downturn.

McDonald stepped down as CEO in Sept. but remained on board as the company’s chair while he began his run for Congress.

It is a blow to Dems who had hoped to give McCaul a top-notch challenger. McDonald had raised a stunning $932K through the end of Sept., ending the quarter with $805K in the bank. McDonald is wealthy, but he lent his campaign just $26K, indicating he had real fundraising prowess.

This is both a surprise (McDonald only made his campaign official last week after months of “exploring”) and some pretty bad news to boot — it would have been good to keep the pressure up on McCaul, whose district tightened up to a 55-44 McCain district from a 67% Bush fiefdom in 2000.

Perhaps McDonald will hang on to his war chest for another run in 2012, but by then this district might be carved up in six different ways.

RaceTracker Wiki: TX-10

SSP Daily Digest: 12/14

AR-Sen: We’re up to eight Republicans packed into the GOP Senate field in Arkansas, none of whom are exactly top-tier but many of whom seem to have the capability to win both the primary and the general against Blanche Lincoln. The new guy is Stanley Reed, and although he hasn’t held elective office before, he seems to have the insider connections to make a serious go of it: he is former president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau, and before that was chair of the Univ. of Arkansas Board of Trustees.

CA-Sen/Gov: Here’s an interesting rumor, courtesy of Chris Cillizza: moderate ex-Rep. Tom Campbell, probably the GOP’s greatest threat in the general but an underfunded third-wheel in the gubernatorial primary, is considering moving over to the Senate race. Perhaps the news that Insurance Comm. Steve Poizner was planning to spend $15 million of his own moolah on his stalled gubernatorial bid was the last straw? It vaguely makes sense for Campbell (who has already run for Senate twice before, most recently in 2000), as he’d face off against underwhelming Carly Fiorina (who has lots of her own money, but no inclination to use it) and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, who has nothing but the wrath of the teabaggers powering him.

IL-Sen: The Chicago Tribune has released polls of the primary fields in the Illinois Senate race, revealing no surprises but also still a lot of people left to make up their minds. The Democratic field finds Alexi Giannoulias in the lead at 31, with Cheryle Jackson within kind-of striking distance at 17, David Hoffman at 9, and free-spending attorney Jacob Meister at 1 (with 38% undecided). For the GOP, the most notable number may be that Patrick Hughes, who’s gotten all the buzz as the guy behind whom all the right-wingers are coalescing, is actually getting nowhere at all. Hughes is at 3, tied with virtually unknown Kathleen Thomas (a former school board member from Springfield). Mark Kirk is at 41, but with 47% undecided, he still has a lot of selling to do. Speaking of which, the DSCC has a new website devoted solely to the man and his nonstop campaign-trail flip-flops: Two-Faced Kirk.

IL-Gov: The same Chicago Tribune sample also looked at the gubernatorial primary fields. Incumbent Pat Quinn seems to be having little trouble on his path to the Dem nomination, beating Comptroller Dan Hynes 49-23. (Hynes may be second-guessing himself for getting into this race instead of the Senate field.) On the GOP side, it looks like former AG Jim Ryan (and 2002 loser) is in pole position despite his late entry to the race, thanks to being the only figure with statewide name rec. He’s at 26, with state party chair Andy McKenna at 12, downstate state Sen. Bill Brady at 10, suburban state Sen. Kirk Dillard at 9, businessman Adam Andrzejewski at 6, and DuPage Co. Board President Bob Schillerstrom at 2.

PA-Gov: Rasmussen’s poll from last week of PA-Sen had a governor question too, and it shows all of the Dems getting thumped by Republican AG Tom Corbett. That probably has a lot to do with name recognition (Corbett gets his face in the news every day with Bonusgate, which is good for a bizarrely-high favorable of 59/18, while Auditor Jack Wagner is the only Dem with a statewide profile), but the Dems are starting out in a hole here once campaigning starts in earnest. Wagner fares best against Corbett, losing 43-30, while Corbett beats Allegheny Co. Exec Dan Onorato 44-28, ex-Rep. Joe Hoeffel 48-26, and Scranton mayor Chris Doherty 46-23.

NY-Gov (pdf): Breaking! David Paterson is still in deep trouble. He’s at 23/76 approval, and 19/65 re-elects. He loses the Democratic primary to Andrew Cuomo 67-23 (and opinion is certainly solidifying behind Cuomo: 50% want him to run for Governor, while 31% want him to run again for AG). The good news is that Paterson still beats hapless ex-Rep. Rick Lazio in the general, 42-40, while Cuomo beats Lazio 68-22. Siena doesn’t look at Rudy Giuliani at all, making his disappearance from the governor’s race pretty apparent. Siena also takes a look at the Comptroller’s race (although without any William Thompson or Eliot Spitzer permutations), and find Dem Thomas DiNapoli beating GOPer John Faso, 40-24.

RI-Gov: One state where the gubernatorial race looks less and less likely to go the Republicans’ way is Rhode Island, where their only announced candidate, businessman Rory Smith, quietly backed out of the race on Friday afternoon, citing his “limited political experience and political network.” Maybe state Rep. Joe Trillo could get coaxed back into the race for the GOP — or they could just throw their backing behind former Sen. and former Republican Lincoln Chafee‘s independent bid (although based on his recent comments about the state party, it doesn’t sound like he’d want anything to do with their backing).

SC-Gov (pdf): One more gubernatorial poll, leftover from last week. PPP polled South Carolina, and found numbers very similar to Rasmussen‘s numbers from last week. Basically, Democrats need to hope for a matchup between Jim Rex (the Superintendent of Education, and only statewide Dem officeholder) and hard-partying, car-racing, plane-crashing Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer; Rex wins that matchup, 37-36. Dems lose every other permutation. Bauer manages to beat state Sen. Vincent Sheheen 38-33, and Robert Ford 37-33. AG Henry McMaster beats Rex 40-31, Sheheen 41-27, and Ford 42-27. And Rep. Gresham Barrett beats Rex 40-33, Sheheen 41-26, and Ford 42-28. (By way of comparison, Rasmussen finds Rex beating Bauer 36-35 and losing his other matchups.) PPP didn’t poll the primaries, but based on favorables, McMaster may be the likeliest GOP nominee, at 30/20, compared with Barrett, little-known outside his district at 14/17, and Bauer, toxic at 22/43. PPP also ran a generic D ballot against GOP Sen. Jim DeMint, who has no-name opposition so far, finding DeMint winning 47-38.

TX-Gov: As expected, Kinky Friedman ended his Democratic gubernatorial primary bid today. Friedman declined to endorse either Bill White (whose entry probably precipitated Friedman’s exit) or Farouk Shami, despite some connections to Shami. What may not have been expected was that Friedman dropped down to the Agriculture Commissioner race, where he’ll join fellow gubernatorial race refugee Hank Gilbert. While Friedman doesn’t seem to have an agricultural background, he does have as an advisor and backer former Ag Comm. and populist pundit Jim Hightower.

ID-01: I hadn’t heard any rumblings about this happening, but in case anyone was wondering, Larry Grant (the former software exec who barely lost the 2006 ID-01 race to Bill Sali) said he wouldn’t primary Democratic freshman Rep. Walt Minnick in 2010. Minnick has raised some hackles for being the most conservative member of the Democratic caucus (not that that shouldn’t be a surprise in an R+18 district, but he’s been taking that to extremes lately, leading the way to scrap the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency). Grant also denied that he’d be running in 2010 as a moderate Republican (conceivably to Minnick’s left?), although he seemed to suggest that he could prevail against that field of wannabes, accusing Vaughn Ward of being a “Sarah Palin Republican” and Raul Labrador a “Bill Sali Republican.” (I wonder what that would make Bill Sali, if he decided to jump in?)

IL-10: In the Democratic primary clash in the open 10th, state Rep. Julie Hamos scored a big labor endorsement today, from the AFSCME.

IL-14: Ethan Hastert a moderate? Either the apple falls far from the tree, or the Main Street Partnership is having to greatly expand their definition of “moderate” is order to stay relevant in a GOP intent on purging itself into oblivion. At any rate, the Main Streeters’ PAC gave to Hastert (making clear where the ideological fault lines lie in his primary against state Sen. Randy Hultgren), along with OH-15’s Steve Stivers, OH-16’s Jim Renacci, and NH-02’s Charlie Bass.

KS-03: The specter of Republican civil war in the open seat race in Kansas’s 3rd is abating, as state Sen. (and 2008 loser) Nick Jordan has the respect of both the moderate and conservative wings of the state’s party. Maybe most significantly, state Sen. Jeff Colyer, from the fire-breathing camp, said today that he won’t challenge Jordan in the primary. Moderate state Rep. Kevin Yoder is still exploring the race, though.

PA-10: Sophomore Democratic Rep. Chris Carney has been one of the juiciest targets with only token Republican opposition, but the GOP may have found an elected official willing to take him on: state Rep. Michael Peifer, who represents a rural portion of the district.

SC-01: Another Dem is in the hunt in the 1st, for the right to go up against Rep. Henry Brown (assuming he survives his primary). Retired Navy officer and accountant Dick Withington is getting in; his only political experience is losing a state Rep. race in 2004.

TN-03: The open seat in the 3rd should be attracting at least some Democratic interest, but following the withdrawal of establishment candidate Paula Flowers last month, now even the race’s Some Dude bailed out: businessman (and 2006 loser) Brent Benedict got out, citing family health concerns. A few other potentially-credible Democrats are now looking at the race, though, including Chattanooga city councilor Andrae McGary and Hamilton County Democratic party chair Jeff Brown.

TX-10: Democratic businessman Jack McDonald has gotten lots of buzz for solid fundraising for a potential run against GOP Rep. Michael McCaul, who looks increasingly shaky in the demographically-changing 10th. Last week, he removed the “exploratory” part of his campaign account, making it official, although clearly he’s been acting like a candidate all year.

VA-05: The Virginia GOP decided on a primary, rather than a convention, to pick the person who takes on endangered freshman Rep. Tom Perriello in the 5th. In a weird way, the primary is better news for the party’s establishment, as the conventions tend to be dominated by the extremists who pick pure but unelectable candidates (recall last year’s Senate flap, where the decision to have a convention drove out moderate Rep. Tom Davis and left them with ex-Gov. Jim Gilmore). With their top contender, state Sen. Rob Hurt, coming from the sane wing of the party, that increases his odds of getting through to the general — but the downside is that this may drive dissatisfied teabaggers to the third-party right-wing candidacy of Bradley Rees in the general.

WA-03: A journeyman Democrat is considering the open seat race in the 3rd, potentially setting up a primary with early entrant state Rep. Deb Wallace. Denny Heck was a state Rep. in the 80s, lost a Superintendent of Education race, became Gov. Booth Gardner’s chief of staff, and then founded TVW, the state’s local equivalent of C-SPAN. The article also mentions a couple other Dems interested in the race not previously mentioned, including state Sen. Brian Hatfield.

Mayors: In a runoff election that had an undercurrent of homophobia thanks to the involvement of outside groups, city controller Annise Parker won on Saturday, making Houston by far the largest city to ever elect an openly LGBT mayor. She defeated former city attorney Gene Locke 53-47.

Redistricting: The Texas Tribune takes a look at the many moving parts in legislative redistricting post-2010 in Texas. Factors include whether the Dems will be able to pick up the state House next year (sounding less likely), and which state officials are on the Legislative Redistricting Board (which takes over if the legislature can’t agree, which seems likely anyway since there’s a 2/3s requirement for the maps to clear the Senate and the GOP is short of 2/3s there).

Demographics: Governing Magazine has an interesting piece on Gwinnett County, Georgia, which is as good an example as any of how suburbs, even in some of the reddest states, are becoming bluer as they become more diverse thanks to immigration. Gwinnett County has fallen below 50% non-Hispanic white, and it gave Obama 44% of the vote last year.

Polltopia: PPP is asking for help yet again on which congressional district to poll next. This time, it’ll be a GOP-held district: Michele Bachmann’s MN-06, Lee Terry’s NE-02, or Pat Tiberi’s OH-12.

SSP Daily Digest: 7/7

MN-Sen: Our long national nightmare is finally over: Senator Al Franken was sworn in today, without any weird last minute gambits by Norm Coleman. Harry Reid announced he’ll be on the HELP, Judiciary, Aging, and Indian Affairs Committees.

KY-Sen: Jim Bunning, via his regular teleconference with reporters, reminds us that he’s still running for Senate. Bunning also thinks that he won’t outraise SoS Trey Grayson (who raised $600,000 in the 2nd quarter) for the quarter, but it doesn’t matter because Grayson won’t stay in the race if Bunning stays in too.

OR-Gov: Here’s a surprise: Democratic rising star state Rep. Brian Clem suddenly made his presence known in the Oregon governor’s race, launching an exploratory committee and filling up his coffers with a $500,000 loan from his mother-in-law. The 37-year-old Clem, who has represented part of Salem since 2006, implied that he wouldn’t pull the trigger on a run, though, if former Gov. John Kitzhaber got into the race.

SC-Gov: Mark Sanford may get to keep his job after all (thanks in part to Sarah Palin creating a distraction). The state GOP voted yesterday to censure Sanford over his doomed tango, rather than call for his resignation.

HI-01: Roll Call takes a quick look at who might run for the seat being left behind by Rep. Neil Abercrombie. Top of the list is Ed Case, a Blue Dog who used to represent HI-02 but gave up his seat for an ill-fated primary run against Sen. Dan Akaka and pissed off a lot of the Democratic base along the way. They also cite state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, former state House majority leader Kirk Caldwell, state Democratic Party chair Brian Schatz, and also Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who’s currently exploring the governor’s race but conceivably could switch races if he doesn’t get any traction in the primary against Abercrombie. Also, we can’t rule out Republican Honolulu city councilor Charles Djou, who seems well-thought-of but faces a steep climb given the state’s lean.

IL-07: CQ provides a similar laundry list of potential candidates in IL-07, assuming Rep. Danny Davis leaves an open seat to run for President of the Cook County Board instead. Davis’s former Chief of Staff Richard Boykin tops the list, but there’s also state Reps. LaShawn Ford and Karen Yarbrough, state Sen. Rickey Hendon, and Aldermen Dorothy Tillman and Ed Smith. (No mention of any Republicans here, unsurprising since it’s D+35.)

NY-03: Here are some folks who’d especially like Rep. Peter King to Beat It, following his Off the Wall remarks disparaging the nonstop coverage of Michael Jackson. They’ve started “Michael Jackson Fans Against Peter King” on ActBlue and have already raised several thousand dollars for whoever steps up to run in the 3rd.

NY-14: With Rep. Carolyn Maloney looking more likely to follow through on her Senate primary challenge, state Sen. Liz Krueger, whose turf closely overlaps the 14th, has been getting a lot of encouragement to run for the open seat. Krueger sounds politely interested, saying “I’ve never been in Congress so I don’t know if it’s less frustrating. But I suspect pretty much any job in the United States of America would be less frustrating than Albany in the last three weeks.”

NY-23: A potentially strong candidate for the GOP nomination in the upcoming NY-23 special election has taken himself out of consideration: Assemblyman Will Barclay. Unfortunately for us, this may make the primary path easier for moderate GOP Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, who would be a tougher general election foe; the more conservative Barclay, remember, was the loser of the state Senate special election to Darrel Aubertine last year. Two other minor GOPers added their names to the list as well: YMCA director Andrew Bisselle and businessman Bart Bonner.

OH-15: His candidacy was already well in the works, but GOP former state Senator Steve Stivers made it official today that he’s seeking a rematch against Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy, who barely won the open seat in 2008. Stivers may have an opening in 2010 if there’s less Obama-driven college turnout in this district dominated by Ohio St., and no pro-life independent candidate siphoning votes from his right flank.

TN-09: Burned-out Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton seems to have a pattern and practice of delaying his planned resignations whenever things don’t quite go right for him. Herenton, who’d planned to resign in order to devote himself full-time to his primary challenge to Rep. Steve Cohen, pushed back his resignation date (planned for July 11) to July 30, citing some unfinished items of business.

House: The Hill throws together an interesting catch-all of ten “dark horse” House races, one of which is already threatening to be top tier (TX-10), one of which features an intriguing Dem primary (FL-02), and some of which are interesting because of changing demographics (TX-32) or changing political tides (all three Dem seats in Arkansas).

DGA/RGA: In keeping with the sense that the real battlegrounds in 2010 are going to be the gubernatorial races, the DGA and RGA are both raising like gangbusters. The DGA raised $11.6 million in the first half of the year, a record for them, but the RGA nosed ahead of them, raising $12.2 million.

Census: A coalition of Colorado local governments joins New York’s legislature in laying out its own funds to help assist the Census Bureau in putting together an accurate count by reducing undercounting. While Colorado isn’t likely to gain or lose a House seat in 2010, it’s still important in terms of securing federal funds, and with much of the state’s growth coming among Latinos, the risk of undercounting is high.

Campaign Finance: Florida’s Republican SoS, Kurt Browning, has decided not to appeal a federal court’s ruling that found a state law regulating 527s was unconstitutional. With major implications for the Florida governor’s race, now 527s can operate without disclosure requirements on who they are and who funds them. (Florida has strict $500 limits on individual contributions, so 527s are especially important there.)

Trivia: Wondering who the last Governor to resign in mid-term to focus on a presidential run was? New York’s Nelson Rockefeller, in 1973. He never made it to the presidential run, although he did wind up briefly serving as Gerald Ford’s fill-in vice-president.

DSCC: Friend of SSP and once-and-future DKos editor Arjun Jaikumar (f/k/a brownsox) is not just the DSCC’s new media guru – he’s also up for The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful in DC. Vote for the good-looking bastard by sending an email. (D)

TX-10/24/32: Deep In the Heart of Texas

Crossposted at DailyKos

I’ve always wanted to go hard after a white Southern suburban district in one of the three Southern megalopolises (Atlanta, Dallas/Ft. Worth, and Houston). To win a Southern district, conventional wisdom is that as a starting point the GOP Presidential candidate has to have gotten less than 55% in said district, and the most tempting three are in Texas. There’s the 10th District (Houston to Austin) and a pair of DFW metroplex district, the 32nd and 24th. Lets take a look at them.

Texas’s 10th Congressional District (Houston to Austin)

As far as Houston goes (sort of), there’s the 10th Congressional District (map), which McCain won 55-43. The 10th is a politically incoherent district-it stretches from Houston’s suburbs where over a third of the population is to downtown Austin, which casts about 40% of the vote. In between the two are a bunch of Republican rural counties. At first look, its an intriguing target- its current member is Michael McCaul, who is only a three term incumbent who has struggled to outperform the Republican presidential nominee. In other words, he’s got almost no personal appeal. A lot of people point to this as Democrats best hope for a pick up in the Lone Star State.

I’m not so sure that its the best way to go for a single reason-you’re going to have to spend a truckload and a half of money to win it because you have to buy media time in not only the hugely expensive Houston media market but also Austin as well. McCaul has access to a ton of personal wealth and can draw on that at any time.

We do have some things going for us in this district:

a)Our candidate in the race, Jack McDonald, raised $300,000 in 5 weeks. That’s a nice chunk of change, and those are the sort of numbers you’d need to be competitive. At very minimum, to win the 10th, you’re going to have to spend 1.75 million or so, and more likely close to 2 million.

b)If hugely popular Houston mayor Bill White ends up as our Senate candidate, there’s the potential that his coattails could help McDonald in the Harris County portion of the district.

c)McCaul’s fundraising numbers blew chunks this quarter, raising only $97k. That said, he can always write himself a check.

Texas’s 32nd Congressional District (Highland Park-University Park-Irving)

The other seats that look promising are in the DFW metroplex.

As tempting of a target as the 24th is, on paper its not the best target in the DFW area (yet); if the DCCC gave me a couple million dollars and forced me to spend it in a single Texas district, I’d spend it in the Texas 32nd (map)(assuming we had a good candidate). Why? First off, McCain only got a paltry 53% of the vote here. Barack Obama did not heavily contest Texas and still got 46% of the vote here. With a full on push, he would have probably come very close to winning it outright. Then there’s the trending-Bush carried the 32nd with 64% in 2000 and 60% in 2004. That’s a staggering 11 point drop in 8 years and 6 points difference in a single 4 year cycle. In other words, the GOP performance here is dropping like a rock.

It gets better than just the raw numbers-the demographics here are very encouraging. There’s a distinct reason why Martin Frost chose to run here instead of in the 24th District after the DeLaymander, and Martin Frost was no dummy. It’s 36.2% Hispanic and 7.9% African American, which is a fantastic base to build off of for a Democratic candidate. But it gets even better, the bulk of Dallas’s Jewish community lives in the University Park and Highland Park portions of the 32nd.

Now, lets talk about the incumbent, Pete Sessions. Sessions, though he’s been in Congress for awhile, isn’t as entrenched in his district as you think he might be. Sessions originally represented the 5th District from 1997 to 2002 when he moved into the 32nd because the 5th got more Democratic. The 32nd was then massively rejiggered in the DeLaymander to crack Martin Frost’s old 24th District, and he got a bunch of new turf that spells long term trouble for him. His district is shaky enough for him that he had to have W fly into his district the night before the election for a big rally to put him over the top. Finally, he’s the current chair of the RNCC-dropping money here simply to make his life miserable is far from the worst idea I’ve heard.

Another good thing about the 32nd is that unlike the 10th, the 32nd is in a single media market, albeit the gigantic Dallas-Ft. Worth one. You’d get more bang for your advertising bucks here than you would in the 10th, having to split ad buys between Houston and Austin.

As far as a bench in the district is concerned, there are two or three interesting possibilities in the Texas House. The best fit, in my opinion would be Kirk England who represents part of the 32nd in Irving-the downside being that he lives in Grand Prairie which is in the 24th. There’s also Rafael Anchía, who represents the 103rd District and Roberto Alonzo in 104. I’m not completely sure that a Latino couldn’t win this district, but it is probably better suited to a white Martin Frost-ish candidate. Still, with a 44%+ minority base, its far from inconceivable that a Latino could do it, especially with a huge voter registration campaign in the Latino friendly parts of the district.

Texas’s 24th Congressional District (Carrolton-Colleyville-Grand Prairie)

The  Texas 24th is a similar district to the 32nd, but its a little less appealing on some fronts and more appealing on others:

-Kenny Marchant has been the State Rep for Carrolton forever and a day and probably has a better hold on the 24th than Sessions does in the 32nd

-McCain got 55% here vs 53% in the 32nd, Obama got 44% vs. 46%

-there’s not nearly the Jewish community in the 24th that there is in the 32nd

-Marchant isn’t going to be crisscrossing the country as RNCC chair like Sessions will and can campaign full time (but on the other hand he has less access to cold hard cash than Sessions does)

-the Latino component is half as big as the 32nd, though its an open question as to how many in the Latino community are registrable

What is better:

+ conversely, we almost have to have done better among white voters here, and the African American component is higher than in the 32nd

+ 24 is falling off that GOP performance cliff even faster than 32, having lost 13 points in 8 years, and *****10***** points from ’04 to ’08

+ From ’00 to ’06, the 24th had a higher Latino population gain than did 32nd (79,641 vs. 44,824)

+ 24 also had much higher growth influxes among AA voters (28,387 vs 6,716) and Asians (23,600 vs. -1,596)

The bench is largely the same, though as mentioned, Kirk England lives in this district and not 32. Long term, the GOP is going to have to draw another Democratic DFW district (knowing the TXGOP they’ll probably draw it as a Minority Majority Latino district for Anchia), and everyone knows it. Thus, there’s probably less urgency to take the risk and run here vs the 10th-the situation with Harris’s new seat is much more muddled than the DFW seat.

All three districts look as tempting as BBQ brisket, with the 32nd being the best on paper, the 24th having the fastest falling GOP performance, and McCaul having the weakest hold on his district.

TX-10: McCaul Drops AG Hopes, Will Seek Re-Election

Somewhat sucky news:

Less than three months after saying he would consider a run next year for attorney general of Texas, third-term U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, told the American-Statesman’s Danny Yadron on Wednesday that the AG option is no longer on his plate.

Asked if he was still mulling a run for attorney general, McCaul replied: “No, I’m running for re-election.”

This confirms an earlier statement from a McCaul spokesman. While it would have been nice to have an open seat here, Democrats fortunately have a good candidate in Jack McDonald, who has already raised over $300K and previously said he’d run no matter what McCaul decided. Indeed, the DCCC has already targeted McCaul, firing off a few radio ads over his vote against the stimulus.

And according to SSP’s analysis of the presidential vote, Barack Obama improved nicely over John Kerry’s numbers – McCain won the district 55-44, versus Bush’s 62-38 pounding. In a separate analysis of Texas demographics, Crisitunity observed that the 10th CD had the largest raw increase in Hispanic population from 2000 to 2006 of any district in the Houston or Dallas areas. That trend has doubtless continued, putting the GOP on ever-thinner ice.

McCaul, meanwhile, is far from entrenched – he won his last two elections with just 55% and 54% of the vote, running against underfunded opponents both times. I think this is going to be an interesting race.

SSP Daily Digest: 4/2

NY-20: Well, we know Scott Murphy can count on getting at least one vote out of the huge pile of absentee ballots in the deadlocked NY-20 election: the ballot of the woman he’s seeking to replace, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, is one of them.

NY-29: In an example of political chaos theory at work, the NY-20 election may wind up protecting Rep. Eric Massa several seats over. If Jim Tedisco wins, he’s out of his current job as Assembly Minority Leader, and even if he loses, there have been rumblings to replace him anyway. His replacement as Minority Leader would likely be Brian Kolb, who, if he took the position, would probably want to focus on that and no longer be the top GOP pick to take on Eric Massa in NY-29. (Other potential GOP candidates in NY-29 include Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks and state senators Cathy Young and George Winner.)

PA-Sen: Arlen Specter is already defending his right flank with ads attacking ex-Rep. Pat Toomey, in preparation for the 2010 primary. Specter’s ad sounds a bit, um, Democratic, attacking Toomey for favoring deregulation, wanting to privatize Social Security, and for the unforgivable sin of having traded CDSs when he was working on Wall Street.

MN-Sen: The next step in the MN-Sen saga has national implications: governor Tim Pawlenty has to decide, once the Minnesota Supreme Court rules, whether to go ahead and sign the certificate declaring Al Franken the winner (and, y’know, follow the rule of law)… or whether to continue to obstruct Franken in order not to alienate the rabid Republican base he’ll need in 2012 if he’s going to have any hope in the presidential primary.

OH-Sen: I know I wouldn’t buy a used car from Rob Portman, but he finally has some competition in the GOP primary, and it’s a guy a lot of people apparently have bought used cars from. Cleveland-area car dealer Tom Ganley has also entered the race (although he shouldn’t be more than a speed bump for the heavily-funded Portman).

AK-AL: Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell is “considering” another primary run at Rep. Don Young. One negative for Parnell is that, this time, he’d have to give up his LG slot for a 2010 run. But there’s also the possibility that the federal investigation into Young may actually yield something in the next few years.

DCCC: The DCCC launched a new radio spot in the districts of six GOP representatives in Democratic-leaning seats, attacking them for voting against the middle-class tax cuts contained in the stimulus package. The targets are Mike Castle (DE-AL), Ken Calvert (CA-44), Bill Young (FL-10), Thad McCotter (MI-11), Charlie Dent (PA-15), and Mike McCaul (TX-10).

LA-02: The Anh Cao Watch continues! GOP leading lights John McCain and Rep. Paul Ryan (WI-01) were recently seen jawing with Cao, who hasn’t yet decided how he’ll vote on the Democrats’ budget resolution. Would he really defect? And would it even matter? (D)

Census: The new pick for Census Director has been announced, and if the squealing emitting from Patrick McHenry is any indication, it’s a good pick. It’s Robert Groves, a Univ. of Michigan professor who was the Census’s associate director for statistical design in the early 90s. Groves is a proponent of statistical sampling, which is the main flashpoint in debate over the census. Commerce Sec. Gary Locke has indicated that sampling won’t be used for redistricting purposes, but will be used for increased accuracy (for purposes of allocating federal funds, for instance).

SSP Daily Digest: 4/1

Site News: SSP is delighted to announce that we’ve just welcomed our six millionth visitor to the site. Thank you, everyone! (D)

NY-20: The NRCC is already using the paper-thin margin in NY-20 last night as the springboard for a whole new fundraising e-mail pitch: the Dems are trying to “pull a Franken” and “steal” the election in the courts, so please send lawyers, guns, and money. Eric Kleefeld has a thought on why this is good news! For Pete Sessions!

One problem Murphy might have is that Al Franken’s lawyers aren’t available right now. And in Tedisco’s favor, Norm Coleman’s attorneys are busy, too.

The Fix has obtained some Democratic projections of how things will shake out after all absentees are counted (they’re projecting Murphy by 210). This appears to be based on performance rates in the counties where the absentees came from (in other words, there seem to be disproportionately more absentees coming from pro-Murphy counties than Saratoga).

AK-Sen: It happened a few months too late to save Ted Stevens’ job, but the DOJ has finally dropped its frequently-bungled case against Stevens after further instances of prosecutorial misconduct arose.

CT-Sen: One more ‘oopsie’ for Chris Dodd: he blew through a lot of his campaign war chest on his ill-advised 2008 presidential run (he transferred $4.7 million from his 2010 senate kitty to his presidential campaign). He’s currently at only $670K cash on hand, compared with $1.6 million at this same point in his 2004 re-election.

FL-Sen: Kendrick Meek plays Gallant to Chris Dodd’s Goofus: he raised a whopping $1.5 million in the first quarter, as he tries to nail down frontrunner status for the Democratic nomination.

CA-Sen: Carly Fiorina, who was briefly sidelined by treatment for breast cancer, seems ready to get back into the political arena. She’s “seriously considering” entering the race against Barbara Boxer.

OK-Gov, OK-04: SSP’s all-time favorite punching bag, Tom Cole, looks to be staying where he is. He’s declined to run for Oklahoma governor, leaving fellow Rep. Mary Fallin in the driver’s seat for the GOP nomination.

TX-10: Democrat Jack McDonald, an Austin-area businessman running for the seat of GOP Rep. Mike McCaul, has announced that his campaign has raised over $300,000 in its first five weeks. Those are some pretty impressive numbers at this stage in the game. (J)

NRCC/NRSC: Remember the brouhaha over the big NRCC/NRSC fundraising dinner where no one could figure out whether or not Sarah Palin was going to keynote, where it turned out that the governor’s office and SarahPAC had no idea what each other were doing? Well, amateur hour is continuing apace in Anchorage, as now she’s off again. In her place, Newt Gingrich (who would have ever predicted the day when Newt Gingrich would be seen, by comparison, as the GOP’s sober, rational elder statesman?).

History: PolitickerNY takes an intersting trip down memory lane, looking at some of the greatest hits among previous close House elections, like CT-02 in 1994 and IN-08 in 1984.