• ME-Sen: It’s stuff like this which have me convinced that Olympia Snowe is definitely not out of the woods. Her fellow Maine senator, Susan Collins, said she won’t support Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare-killing budget plan, which seems to put the screws to Snowe. It’s a pretty classic problem: If she sides with Ryan, she damages her standing with normal people, and if she sides with Collins, she’ll enrage the teabaggers. It may not matter in the end, but it doesn’t help – and with Collins speaking out, that makes it a lot harder for Snowe to simply avoid the question.
• NV-Sen: Gov. Brian Sandoval says he’ll tap a replacement for John Ensign by the time Ensign resigns in early May, though apparently some Republicans would prefer he name someone other than Dean Heller. That would let the GOP avoid a potential gong-show in NV-02, but Jon Ralston says that a Heller appointment is already a “done deal.”
• OH-Sen: It sounds like Ken Blackwell wants to decide whether he’ll seek the GOP nomination some time in May, after his new book comes out.
• IN-Gov: Rep. Mike Pence, whom everyone seems convinced will run for governor, raised a pretty meh $283K in Q1. And yes, he can transfer that money over for a gubernatorial race, so it’s not unimportant. I can’t really imagine Pence declining this chance to seek the statehouse – he won’t have an open-seat opportunity again for quite some time.
However, he is in the top rung of GOP leadership in Congress, so maybe he’s just feeling ambivalent. UPDATE: Can’t believe I forgot this, but staypositive reminds me that Pence is no longer a member of the GOP leadership… which makes his sucky fundraising stand out all the more.
• LA-Gov: Uh, well, this certainly takes the cake for first quarter fundraising. Wealthy businessman John Georges wrote his campaign committee a ten million dollar check (in the form of a loan), to be used for an unspecified statewide office. I’m filing this under “LA-Gov” because he ran as an indie for that job in 2007. No word yet if he’ll run again, or if he’ll do so as a Dem, but if he does, at least his cash would give Bobby Jindal a little heartburn.
• NH-Gov: Dem state Rep. Jim Splaine, writing over at Blue Hampshire, takes a broad look at the playing field for next year’s gubernatorial race. He wants Gov. John Lynch to run again, but if he doesn’t, Splaine offers a ton of other possibilities. One name that stands out is former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand, who ran for NH-Sen in 2008 before stepping aside for Jeanne Shaheen. Marchand’s been talked about as a possible challenger to 1st CD Rep. Frank Guinta, but he’s talked with Splaine about his ambitions, and it sounds like he’s more interesting in a gubernatorial bid.
Also, if you want to keep your finger on the progressive pulse in the Granite State, BH has started running straw polls for next year’s key races. Marchand wasn’t included in their gov test, but Mark Connolly (whom we mentioned here the other day) led the way with 31% of the vote.
• AZ-08, AZ-Sen: The Arizona Republic has a lengthy profile on Gabrielle Giffords and her recovery and rehabilitation, which is worth reading in full. Also, her husband, astronaut Mark Kelley, said that Giffords has been cleared to attend the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour this Friday. Kelly will command this mission, Endeavour’s last.
• NY-13: According to the New York Observer, a new potential Dem name to take on Rep. Mike Grimm has emerged: Robert Diamond, a Navy veteran and investment banker. Diamond has roots on Staten Island, but Brooklyn-based blogger Colin Campbell dug up a donation to the DNC which shows that Diamond lived on the Upper East Side as recently as last year. Not sure how great a fit that is culturally… but in any case, Diamond didn’t return a call to the Observer seeking comment, so who knows how real this is.
• NY-22: Our thoughts go out to upstate Rep. Maurice Hinchey, who was just diagnosed with colon cancer. Fortunately, his doctors say that his cancer is curable and they expect a full recovery. Hinchey is 72.
• NY-26: Dem Kathy Hochul was just endorsed by EMILY’s List. The special election is just a month away, May 24th.
• OR-01: State Rep. Brad Witt has been upgraded from “rumor level” to “considering level.” Blue Oregon mentioned the other day that he was a possible contender to challenge Rep. David Wu in the Dem primary; now, according to Jeff Mapes in the Oregonian, some of his advisors are saying he’s definitely interested. He’d be the second Democrat (well, other than Wu himself) to get into the race – Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian is already running, setting up a battle of the Brads. There are also still several other people in the more nebulous stages of candidacy, so I hope that we don’t (as some have suggested in comments) wind up with David Wu turning into the Dem version of Dan Burton and winning the primary with a bare plurality.
• KY-St. House: It’s not the biggest news in the world, but it’s unusual enough to merit a quick note: Kentucky state Rep. Wade Hurt is switching parties… from Republican to Democrat. Hurt won office last year under unusual circumstances when his Democratic opponent was declared ineligible to run because he filed improper paperwork. (Believe it or not, Dem Jeffrey Donohue needed all of two signatures on his nominating petition, but managed to screw up one of them.) Dems were not permitted to replace Donohue, so Hurt won the ancestrally Democratic 37th district by default. Hurt claimed he wasn’t switching out of self-preservation and says he received no inducements, but the district is 62 D, 29 R by registration, and even in Dixiecrat territory, that still means something. (UPDATE: Johnny L-T reminds me that the district is in Louisville, so not really Dixiecrat territory – which makes these registration numbers all the more dangerous for a Republican.)
• WI Recall, WI-Gov: I’m usually not a big fan of polls from colleges with short track records, but YMMV with this St. Norbert poll testing recall numbers. They find Scott Walker at 48% “keep” and 47% “remove.” They also tested state Senate Republicans and Democrats, with Wisconsinites saying “keep” for the GOP by a 53-35 margin and “keep” for the Dems, 57-33. Mind you, this was a statewide poll, and it also had a super-long field date, April 5 through April 18.
• House Majority PAC: Greg Giroux breaks down the independent expenditure reports from the House Majority PAC’s Medicare-related attack on ten House Republicans. Turns out that unlike the DCCC’s “tuppence a bag” efforts, it’s a legit buy, ringing up at $116K. Click the link for the full breakdowns.
• Americans United: Speaking of which, the progressive group Americans United for Change is targeting four GOPers over the Ryan vote: Ryan himself, as well as Sean Duffy and Chip Cravaack (both also on the HMP’s list – see item just above), and, most interestingly, Steve King. TPM calls the buy “significant,” but also notes that it’s for five figures… so we could be taking anywhere from $10K to $99K here. Americans United is also doing robocalls in a bunch of districts.
• Colorado: It sounds like attempts to go back to the drawing board and produce a compromise map in Colorado have failed (why am I not surprised?). Democrats say they’ll introduce a new map of their own next week, but I can’t possibly imagine it will be appealing to Republicans (and vice-versa for anything the GOP might do). Unless the GOP decides it’s more scared of what a court might draw, then we’ll stay locked in a stalemate. And I say the GOP because they’re the ones who have the most to lose – Colorado is already pretty close to a Republican gerrymander by accident (the last map was court-drawn, too), which you can see because the new GOP proposals seek to change it only minimally. (Ironically, Republicans originally hated the map, and tried to pull off a mid-decade re-redistricting that got tossed by the courts.) In any event, the writeup at the link is quite detailed and worth a read if you’re interested in drilling down on this one some more.
• Missouri: Things have really fallen apart in Missouri, with the state House Speaker openly lambasting his counterparts in the Senate for a lack of “leadership.” The Senate adjourned on Friday without reaching any kind of agreement with the House, which means lawmakers have all but missed a deadline which would allow them to send a map to Gov. Jay Nixon before the end of the legislative session. Now, even if they do finish a map soon, if Nixon vetoes, any chance at an over-ride won’t take place until the fall.
• Mississippi: Oral arguments were heard in the lawsuit over Mississippi’s redistricting impasse, with Dem AG Jim Hood making the interesting argument that elections should be held this fall using maps that passed by each body of the state lege but weren’t voted on by the other (nor, of course, signed into law). Hood also argued against the judges drawing their own maps, and against the idea of holding elections this fall under the old lines and new ones next year with new maps (as happened in 1991/92). Republicans, predictably, took the opposite view.
• Timelines: Ballotpedia has a good list of timetables for each state to start and complete its redistricting process (though many are pretty flexible and some states have no specific deadlines).