SSP Daily Digest: 4/11


CT-Sen: William Tong, a state rep we mentioned once before, is supposedly gearing up to enter the Democratic primary. He was recently in DC “making the rounds,” and is reportedly trying to hire staff. I don’t really see how he has a chance, given that two big names are already in the race, but maybe he’s hoping for a good enough showing to improve his name rec with the political classes for a future run. (Tong’s only in his late 30s.)

NE-Sen: State Sen. Deb Fischer, a sorta dark-horse candidate given that two statewide officials are already running in the GOP primary, is getting encouragement from a one-time statewide office-holder: former Gov. Kay Orr, the first Republican woman to be elected governor in the United States. Interestingly, the man who stopped Orr in her bid for re-election in 1990 is the guy Fischer would take on: Ben Nelson.

OH-Sen: As promised early last week, Josh Mandel filed paperwork with the FEC to form a Senate campaign committee, but his mouthpiece insists that it’s not a formal statement of candidacy, just “a step.”

WI-Sen: GOP ex-Rep. Mark Neumann, on a two-race losing streak, is hoping that the third time’s the charm. After offering some recent hints, Neumann’s now explicitly saying he’s considering a run against Herb Kohl. He hasn’t offered any kind of timetable, except to suggest he’s kinda-sorta waiting on Rep. Paul Ryan, the guy who inherited his seat in the House. (I seriously doubt Ryan will run, given his prominence in the House GOP leadership.) Neumann was last seen losing the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary to none other than Scott Walker. Before that, he’d been out of politics for a long time, narrowly losing the 1998 Senate race to Russ Feingold. Neumann has some personal wealth he could throw into the race, though of course Kohl has a ton of money (and a history of self-funding).


NY-26: The cries of “splitters!” from the Judean People’s Front/People’s Front of Judea battle raging in upstate New York have just grown louder. The leaders of one teabagger group, TEA New York, issued an endorsement to Republican Jane Corwin, furious as they are over Crazy Jack Davis appropriating their good name and branding his ballot line the “Tea Party.” Meanwhile, another teabagger org, the Tea Party Coalition, gave their seal of approval to Davis, who denounced TEA NY as a tool of the GOP. Oh, it also helps that the leaders of the TPC are on the Davis payroll. But for the full flavor, I strongly encourage you to read Alan Bedenko’s hilarious summation of all this mishugas.

TX-26: Dianne Costa, a former GOP mayor of Highland Village (pop. 17K) has filed paperwork to run in the 26th CD, currently held by backbencher Michael Burgess. Odds are this is a Schrödinger’s Seat situation. (H/t FEC Kenobi)

Other Races:

Las Vegas Mayor: I’m borderline uncomfortable reporting polls from Strategic National, because their chief, John Yob, established himself as an untrustworthy partisan hack almost right out the gate. But in any event, Jon Ralston obtained a copy (warning: Word file) of a poll they just took in this race, showing Carolyn Goodman ahead of Chris Giunchigliani by a 48-34 spread. It’s not clear who if anyone the poll was taken for, but oddly enough, it tests some negative messages against both candidates – not something you usually see in a poll that gets released into the wild. It also features percentages that go into the thousandths, which means you know it’s extra-accurate.

Wisconsin Sup. Ct.: It’s sort of redundant to begin a bullet linking to 538 by saying “Nate Silver crunches the numbers,” because of course that’s what he’s just done. Anyhow, click the link for his look at whether the Wackiness in Waukesha points to incompetence or fraud (conclusion: “[I]f you want to allege that there’s a conspiracy afoot, the statistical evidence tends to work against you.) Craig Gilbert of the Journal Sentinel also thinks the new numbers are plausible. And for a more amusing tidbit that definitely tilts in favor of Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus being a boob, check out this entertaining story from Michigan Liberal.

Meanwhile, despite now facing very challenging odds (or perhaps because of it), JoAnne Kloppenburg has hired Marc Elias, the attorney who led Al Franken’s legal efforts in his recount battle. David Prosser is tapping Ben Ginsburg, who, in addition to representing Norm Coleman, played a big role in the Bush Florida recount team.


Voter Suppression: Huh – why is Jon Husted, Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State, trying to sound reasonable on the issue of voter ID? In the fact of pending legislation which would require voters to bring a government-issued photo ID with them to the polls, Husted instead is in favor of allowing people to use other forms of identification, like a utility bill or government-issued check. Given how deep VOTER FRAUD!!!!!!!1111 runs in the teabagger bloodstream, this is one issue (like immigration) on which any sensible Republican with higher ambitions would be wise to avoid, yet here Husted is sticking his neck out on it. What gives?

Redistricting Roundup:

Colorado: Colorado’s new congressional map is now not expected until April 21st, instead of April 14th, as originally planned. Republicans are whining about the delay, which is partly due to the fact that 2010 precinct-level data is still being churned out by the Secretary of State’s office. (The SoS claims they usually don’t get it out until June 30th… why should it take eight months to do this?) Anyhow, I don’t really understand why Republicans would be better off if Dems don’t use the 2010 data, unless they think Democrats are dumb enough to redistrict solely based on 2008 numbers. (They aren’t.) It doesn’t matter, though, since the GOP isn’t going to get their way here.

Connecticut: The redistricting process is (slowly) starting here in CT.

Florida: This is fiendish: Republicans in the legislature are pushing a constitutional amendment which would split Florida’s seven-judge Supreme Court into separate five-member civil and criminal divisions, and which would also shunt the three most senior members into the criminal section. That would give Rick Scott three new appointments, and whaddya know! the four most junior justices are all Charlie Crist appointees, while the longest-serving three were all elevated by Dem Gov. Lawton Chiles. This is appearing in the redistricting roundup because Dems are (rightly) accusing the GOP of trying to pack the court in advance of the inevitable legal battles over redistricting. In order for this measure to appear on the ballot before Nov. 2012, though, it’ll require the support of some Dems in the House. Let’s hope they aren’t stupid enough to fall for this.

Anyhow, the legislature is starting work on redistricting, but it sounds like they are in no hurry to get the job done (the above story might be part of the reason): House Speaker Dean Cannon told members who want to be on the redistricting committee to expect to work hard into next year. Of course, we do things quite a bit fast around here, so if you want to play around with the latest redistricting toy, check out this new online tool for remapping Florida.

Iowa: Today is the deadline for members of Iowa’s advisory commission to issue its recommendations on the state’s new set of maps, after which the lege has to give them an up-or-down vote. All signs point to passage, which would make Iowa the first state in the nation to complete its redistricting process.

Louisiana: Well, after a quick start with a flurry of plans getting subject to scrutiny, things have definitely gone off the rails in Louisiana. Five of the state’s six Republican congressmen sent a letter to Gov. Bobby Jindal asking the legislature to delay federal redistricting until next year – and Jindal apparently agrees with the idea. Daily Kingfish describes this as a big setback for Jindal, given that his party controls the entire lege. It is a little surprising to me that one man, Rep. Charles Boustany, apparently has the power (and the allies in the state Senate) to mess with Jindal like this, but perhaps the governor simply thinks he can steamroll Boustany after the November elections, assuming Republicans gain more seats.

New Jersey: The fallout continues: Three NJ legislators have announced they will move into new districts so that they can run again this fall, and apparently all of them are being welcomed to do so by their own parties. Of course, it’s still early, and some people will definitely get squeezed out by the end.

Ohio: This is actually the same link at the voter suppression story above, but it contains a throw-away line at the end in which SoS Jon Husted says congressional districts need to be re-drawn by Sept. 1st in order for Ohio to hold its primary by March 2012. (Otherwise it would have to get moved – to May, according to the article, but if the process really drags on, who knows how late things could get shifted.)

Sacramento: You can redistrict the city of Sacramento, California in this online game.

Virginia: Played for fools – that’s what Virginia House Democrats are. GOP Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling is praising the Republican gerrymander of the state House, which passed with near-total Dem support in that body, despite representing a deliberate plan to fuck over Democrats, as having “strong bipartisan support.” At the same time, he’s slamming the Dem state Senate map, which GOPers had the good sense to vote against en masse, as some kind of unholy gerrymander. Duh! Bolling is trying to goad the lege into adopting maps produced by Gov. Bob McDonnell’s commission (not gonna happen), but he’s also suggesting that McDonnell could “substitute” the commission’s maps for whatever the legislature passes. I admit I’m not entirely clear on how that would work – a particularly egregious use of the line item veto, or something along those lines? Seems risky.

Of course, all of this is predicated on bipartisan incumbent-protection agreement which includes the federal map as well. But is this deal unraveling? Dem state Sen. Janet Howell, who created the senate map, says she “doubts” her body’s congressional map will match the House’s, which was released just last week (the Janis plan). I’m surprised to hear this, because I thought a clear understanding had been worked out between the two houses, but I suppose there is still some negotiation left to be done over the federal map.

SSP Daily Digest: 3/15

CT-Sen: Paulist gazillionaire (and very failed 2010 Senate candidate) Peter Schiff says he’s moving to Florida because a proposed increase in the state’s top income tax rate from 6.5% to 6.7% means, according to Schiff: “Basically, what they’re saying is, ‘If you stay in Connecticut, you’re going to get mugged. You’re going to get raped.'” THAT’S EXACTLY RIGHT. A TWO-TENTHS PERCENT TAX HIKE ON THE RICH IS EXACTLY LIKE RAPE. Schiff then asked out loud, “The question is, do I really have a political future in Connecticut?” NO YOU DO NOT.

Meanwhile, despite the presence of two very big names already in the race, another Democrat says he’s thinking about getting in: state Rep. William Tong, the first Asian American elected to CT’s General Assembly and also a former law student of Barack Obama’s, says he’ll decide “shortly.” This sounds more like a reputation/name rec-enhancing move that a serious bid, though, as Tong is only in his late 30s.

DE-Sen: The Christine O’Donnell watch is on, with the key (the only) question being whether she’ll launch a hopeless challenge to Gov. Jack Markell next year, or whether she’ll wait to launch a hopeless rematch against Sen. Chris Coons in 2014.

FL-Sen: So here’s how you work up to a Senate bid these days. First, get your name circulated in early, unsourced media reports about “potential” candidates – you know, the kind of spitballing pieces which just list out various names based on speculation. Then, have a surrogate (probably on a not-for-attribution basis – they can call `em “an individual close to” you) tell the press they know you’re thinking about the race. Then, do some interviews yourself where you admit to actually considering a run, but that you need to discuss it with your family first/wait until the legislative session is over/see how the field develops/get the results of a poll back, etc. Then, once you’ve finally done all of this, you can take the bold step of… forming an exploratory committee. That’s where we finally are with Republican state Rep. (and former Majority Leader) Adam Hasner. Exciting, isn’t it?

IN-Sen: This probably means more for the endorser than the endorsee, but embattled Sen. Dick Lugar (he’ll be referred to as “embattled” for the next year-plus) just got the backing of his home-state governor, Mitch Daniels. While in a more civilized age, this might be done just as common courtesy, the threat of getting teabagged often has Republicans clamming up when they get near their wobblier comrades. (Fellow Hoosier Sen. and all-around loser Dan Coats (R) has refused to support Lugar.) But like I said, this is a bigger deal for Daniels, who has presidential aspirations (yet is probably as wobbly as Lugar himself): the teabaggers are already calling for his head.

MA-Sen: More staffing emails in the MA-Sen race-is this going to be the next frontier in tea leaf-reading? Anyhow, consultant Dorie Clark of Sommerville sent a job posting out into the aether seeking a press secretary, but refused to tell the Globe who she’s working for. The Globe notes that Rep. Mike Capuano (who lost in the Dem special primary in 2009) is also from Sommervile-as is activist Bob Massie, but he says the posting wasn’t on his behalf.

ME-Sen: The Hotline already did this for Dick Lugar, so now they do it for Olympia Snowe – that is, they take a look at what it would take for her to run as an independent. The answer:

If Snowe wishes to run as an independent, she must file a withdrawal from the Republican Party by March 1, 2012-more than 3 months before the June 10 primary. If she did withdraw, she would need between 4,000 and 6,000 petitions from registered voters by June 1 to get on the ballot as an independent candidate.

A Snowe spokesperson insists, though, that his boss is running as a Republican. In other Maine news, PPP has one of its scorecards out (PDF), finding Gov. Paul LePage already underwater with approvals of 43-48. A narrow 47-45 plurality supports gay marriage (which was narrowly rejected by voters in 2009).

MT-Sen: All politics definitely is not local anymore (if it ever was), but sometimes it still is. A looming issue in the Montana Senate race? The status of the gray wolf, which is on the Endangered Species List but which Montanans want to start hunting. (Farmers complain the wolves kill livestock, while hunters complain the wolves kill elk – which they want to kill themselves.) Roll Call explains the fault line between Republican Denny Rehberg and Dem Jon Tester:

Rehberg’s proposal would eliminate wolves from the list forever, and not just in the Big Sky State but nationwide. Tester prefers allowing wolves to be hunted in Montana and Idaho, while placing hunting control in the hands of state officials with federal oversight.

NV-Sen: The Fix’s Rachel Weiner says that that unnamed (and unquoted!) “Democratic strategists” are saying they might actually prefer someone like Ross Miller to Rep. Shelley Berkley, who has already been elected statewide and doesn’t have “strong ties” to Las Vegas, which I guess is a potential liability.

VA-Sen: God, could the Tim Kaine watch get any more tedious? I can’t even bear to go into the details of yesterday’s silliness, but now a DNC spokesman is saying that Kaine is “increasingly likely” to run. Whatever. Kaine did say last weekend at that Rick Boucher dinner that “I think we’ll make the decision this week,” but “when we’ll announce it I’m not quite sure.” Groan. I have no problem with politicians taking their time, but this endless media shtick is really tiresome. My personal feeling is that the beltway bloviators are unsually interested in this bit of kremlinology because Kaine is “of” their world in a way that few potential candidates ever are.

WI-Sen: Is this the best we can do? Really? An unnamed “Senate Democratic leadership aide” said of Herb Kohl’s re-election intentions: “We’re pretty confident he’s going to do it.” As I’ve said before, I think you either get the answer locked down early, before reporters start asking (and hell, it’s an obvious question, given Kohl’s extremely… shall we say understated approach to governance and his age) – or you go out and say, “We know Herb will make a decision when he’s ready.” Playing the guessing game makes you look like a chump.

LA-Gov: Progressive blog Daily Kingfish is reporting, based on their own sources, that Democrat Caroline Fayard, contrary to other reports, is “seriously contemplating” (their words) a gubernatorial run. Fayard, who lost last year’s Lt. Gov. race, is also said to be considering a run for Secretary of State. Note that Fayard did link to the Kingfish story on her own website.

OH-Gov: Ah, it warms my heart: The University of Cincinnati finds that Republican Gov. John Kasich’s job approval is just 40-47, with independents giving him an ugly 30-52 rating. Loves it.

WA-Gov: The basic rule of thumb about Republicanism in Washington is that you can get elected statewide if and only if you’re moderate and technocratic enough that the “R” next to your name can get overlooked; that’s how Rob McKenna got elected AG twice. So McKenna’s decision to throw his lot in with the multi-state anti-HCR suit spearheaded by Ken Cuccinelli always seemed a baffling act of pulling the curtain away on his, well, Republicanism… and now he’s in full backpedal mode, with an explanation so contorted (something about how he actually likes everything in the bill except the individual mandate, and it’s all the Dems fault for forgetting to include the severability clause that led to the Vinson ruling) that it’s not going to win over any Dems and only going to make him look weaker to the local teabaggery.

The Seattle PI also points out how little room for error McKenna has with his needle-threading, in a state where the Republican base, as a percentage of the state’s population, is the smallest of any state not in the Northeast. The numbers are 41% Dem base, 31% swing voters, and 29% GOP base. In case you’re wondering, those numbers are from a Nate Silver post from last week, using Annenberg Election Survey data for every state; if you didn’t see the piece, please go back and take a look, as it’s remarkable even by Nate’s usual high standards. (Crisitunity)

CA-36: Finally da herb come around: Gov. Jerry Brown announced that the special all-candidate top-two “primary” to fill Jane Harman’s seat will be held on May 17th. If no one can get 50%+1 that day, then the race goes to a run-off between the top two vote-getters-which seems very likely-regardless of party. (So yes, we could have a D vs. D second round.)

FL-22: Looks like Ron Klein won’t be seeking a rematch against Allen West in 2012: Reid Wilson twitterizes that the former Dem congressman is taking a job with a Florida lobbying firm.

MO-03: Is there a more talked-about likely redistricting victim than Russ Carnahan? I guess he has a somewhat odd combination of a famous name + junior status, so maybe that explains it. Anyhow, Carnahan says he’s “100% focused” on seeking re-election, regardless of what happens with redistricting, and that he isn’t thinking about a Lt. Gov. run (an idea which came up in the media recently).

NY-13: We mentioned a very similar story a little while back, but here’s more confirmation that freshman Republican Mike Grimm actually wants to win re-election: He’s calling on his fellows GOPers to support another short-term government funding bill, though he manages to sneak some Pelosi-bashing in there as well. The wingnuts don’t want to play ball because (sayeth The Hill) the continuing resolution “does not contain riders defunding Planned Parenthood and the healthcare reform law.” Gooood luck with that. Anyhow, while I never want to rule anything out, I feel like teabaggers would have a hard time taking Grimm down. Hopefully I’m wrong!

Wisconsin Recall: Greg Sargent says that the Wisconsin Democratic Party is telling him they’ve collected 45% of the signatures “necessary to hold recall elections.” Greg also notes that only a quarter of the time period for gathering petitions has elapsed. However, I put the exact phrase in quotes because it’s not clear from the piece whether Dems are benchmarking off the legal minimum, or whether they are using a higher target – which you need, because some signatures are invariably going to be found invalid. Still, this sounds like a pretty good pace to me.

Also today, look for full polling results a little later today from Daily Kos in each of the eight GOP-held recall targets.

Special elections: Johnny Longtorso (who else?):

Just one seat is up today (the last special election for the month of March): Pennsylvania’s Reading-based SD-11, where the long-time incumbent recently passed away. The Democrat running is Judy Schwank, a former Berks County Commissioner, while the Republicans have Larry Medaglia, the Berks County Register of Wills. Trivia note: Register of Wills is an elected office in only three states, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware. It’s a pretty Democratic district-it went about 60-40 for Obama-but of course these low-turnout elections can produce weird results.

It sounds like Republicans have given up, though: Medaglia’s paid media campaign has gone dark.

WATN?: Blarggh….

Redistricting Roundup

Arizona: This overview piece of Arizona’s redistricting situation is mostly speculation, but it does go into a discussion of where recent growth has been, per the newest census numbers.

California: Crisitunity already said as much, but at least one expert agrees with us that the Bay Area is pretty much going to have to lose a seat: Tony Quinn, an editor of the California Target Book, a well-known Golden State political publication.

Iowa: The Des Moines Register has a fun little Iowa redistricting tool you can play around with. Of course, the process is a lot easier in the Hawkeye State because state law requires that whole counties be kept intact. (Hat tip: Dave Wasserman)

Mississippi: A big black eye for Lt. Gov., state Senate President, and gubernatorial hopeful Phil Bryant: The Republican-controlled Senate voted down his proposed map for that body and instead voted in favor of the the map that senators themselves originally drew. A key point of contention is the Hattiesburg area, which would get turned into a majority-minority district under the Senate plan but would remain cracked under Bryant’s.

Nevada: Some Democrats are rooting for a Shelley Berkley Senate run for reasons other than what you might expect: If her 1st CD seat opens up, that makes redistricting a lot easier for Dems in the state legislature eager to carve her seat up. The piece also mentions two names who might succeed Berkley in the House if she makes the jump: Assembly Speaker John Oceguera and Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford.