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Leading Off:

IA-Gov: This is rather unexpected: Third-term Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley (who represents IA-01) is apparently floating his name for the gubernatorial race in 2014. He's reportedly "seriously considering" a challenge to Terry Branstad, though note that Braley himself wasn't interviewed for the article. (However, several other party insiders say as much.) That's the first I've heard of Braley in connection with the governor's race, as he's been seen as an up-and-comer with a potential future in House leadership (though he doesn't have an entirely safe district and barely hung on in 2010), and, if he were to go for a promotion, has usually been linked with the Senate instead. (On the plus side, this may be a clue that Tom Harkin is indeed planning to run for re-election, and governor is Braley's only shot to move up this cycle.)

This poses the question, though, of Braley's odds and his motivation. Why give up on the House for a race against Branstad that, at least for now, seems like a long shot? Branstad's popularity hasn't taken anywhere near as much of a hit as other Midwestern Republican governors elected in 2010, and clearly Iowans have no problem returning Branstad year after year to the state house (this would be his sixth term, if he runs and wins again). Braley may be hoping to be standing at the front of the line if Branstad retires, but Branstad is still in his 60s and doesn't seem to be signaling retirement. Maybe, though, declining quality of life in the House and the prospect of many more years in the minority is enough to motivate him to roll the dice now.

Senate:

KY-Sen: Two Kentucky pols are saying no to a Senate bid, one from each side of the aisle. Democratic state Sen. Dennis Parrett says he may seek higher office some day, but he has no interest in running against Mitch McConnell. And Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY-02) also says he "strongly supports" McConnell, a fellow Republican, and has no intention of issuing a primary challenge. (David Nir)

NJ-Sen: In case you missed it over the weekend, there was a brief freakout over whether Frank Lautenberg's retirement was imminent. WNYC reported yes, based on "sources familiar with Lautenberg's thinking," then shortly thereafter Politico reported no, based on an actual statement from a Lautenberg flack. The story seems to have died back down, so, uh... we basically know as little as we did before any of this happened. Carry on.

And while everyone's gaming out a Cory Booker/Frank Lautenberg primary for 2014's New Jersey Senate race... but it's easy to forget that there are various other ambitious Dem pols in the state, and with the 2013 gubernatorial race looking unappetizing, there could actually be a crowded field. Rep. Frank Pallone's name has gotten bounced around a bit (especially if Lautenberg retires), but now there's yet another name on the horizon: state Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver.

Oliver didn't directly say she's interested, but she said she has "not ruled anything out" at the same time as she said that "the lack of a woman in Congress from New Jersey is an embarrassment that must be remedied and taken into consideration." Without a more extensive knowledge of who's allied with which county's local Democratic machines, I wouldn't even begin to try to game out how a four-way primary might go down. (As with both Newark Mayor Booker and Montclair-resident Lautenberg, Oliver is from Essex County—East Orange, to be precise.)

P.S. The excellent Steve Kornacki has a terrific retrospective on Lautenberg's career, dating to his first run for office in 1982. It's filled with both the color and perspective that Kornacki so often excels at providing. A recommended read. (David Jarman & David Nir)

Gubernatorial:

AZ-Gov: Here's a new name in the mix for the 2014 Arizona governor's race: Former Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman, who was first elected in 2004 and served until last year, says he's considering a run in the GOP primary. Phoenix Business Journal reporter Mike Sunnucks also offers a helpful list of possible candidates:

The 2014 governor's race could be a crowded field with Hallman, Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey and Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett possible candidates on the Republican side. Former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, former Arizona Board of Regents chairman Fred DuVal and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton may possibly run on the Democrat side.
(David Nir)

HI-Gov, -Sen: After lots of speculation about her future plans in the wake of getting passed over for the late Sen. Dan Inouye's Senate seat, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa has spoken out and says that all options will "be on the table." What are those options? One would be a primary challenge to the guy who snubbed her, Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Another would be a primary challenge to the guy picked instead of her, Sen. Brian Schatz. And the third possibility would be to simply run for re-election to the House. Hanabusa didn't offer any kind of timetable for making a decision, but she did explicitly invoke the fact that Inouye requested she replace him, saying, "Underlying all of that is the fact that he felt that I would do right by Hawaii." Conceivably that could point more toward a Senate bid, but I wouldn't want to hazard a guess. (David Nir)

ID-Gov: Sophomore Rep. Raul Labrador, from Idaho's 1st district, is already looking for a promotion... though it's not clear yet if the road is open for him to do so. He's now saying he's interested in running for governor (which may make sense, since, having not voted for John Boehner for speaker in the ill-considered coup-type thing a couple weeks ago, he's not likely to rise through the ranks in the House). Labrador says his decision hinges on what happens with immigration reform in the House, but, really, his decision probably hinges on what GOP incumbent Gov. Bruce Otter does. The conventional wisdom is that Otter runs for a third term (which is legal under Idaho law, though pretty unusual), but Otter will be 72 and the article points out that his campaign website is "on hiatus." (It's not clear from the article if Labrador would run even if Otter ran again anyway.) Lt. Gov. Brad Little is also cited as a potential candidate if Otter decides to retire.

KY-Gov: Democratic AG Jack Conway seems to be gearing up for a gubernatorial run in 2015, when two-term incumbent Steve Beshear in termed out; he let the AP know that he's taking a "very, very serious look" at the race. CW seemed to dictate that Conway took on some serious damage from his 2010 Senate run, where his loss to Rand Paul had an exclamation point put on it by the failed Hail Mary pass of the "Aqua Buddha" ad... but then he was overwhelmingly re-elected as AG in 2011, so those fears may have been overstated, and by 2015, that incident should be deep down the memory hole.

This pre-announcement gives us some other helpful pieces of intel: 1) It makes it less likely that Conway will try another Senate run, against Mitch McConnell in 2014, and 2) it sounds like ex-Auditor Crit Luallen won't be running for governor in 2015, as she's allies with Conway and sounds like she'll stay out of the way. The article also does some Great Mentioning of other candidates, most of whom on the Dem side you can already guess (with Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson mentioned first), but with unexpected options on the GOP side (including KY-02 Rep. Brett Guthrie). If nothing else, it's nice to see a red state where the Dem bench far overshadows the GOP bench.

MI-Gov: Democratic ex-Rep. Mark Schauer, who got bounced out the House after one term in 2010, is usually on the vague list of Democratic gubernatorial potential candidates. Not much to go on here, but it's at least something out of the horse's mouth: He is indeed "mulling over" a run, pushed along by Rick Snyder's signing of right-to-work legislation.

NE-Gov: Two more Republicans are saying "no dice" to a possible gubernatorial bid: University of Nebraska Regent Tim Clare and state Attorney General Jon Bruning. Bruning, you'll recall, was humiliated in last year's GOP Senate primary, losing to now-Sen. Deb Fischer in an upset. He has not yet said whether he'll seek re-election as AG. (David Nir)

PA-Gov: Not a surprise, since he hasn't even been sworn in yet, but the state's newly elected Dem state Auditor Eugene DePasquale says he won't be a gubernatorial candidate in 2014 (much as newly elected AG Kathleen Kane confirmed last week as well). No matter, as the Dems seem to have a long list of potential challengers for the increasingly unpopular GOP Gov. Tom Corbett.

VA-Gov: Marginalized Republican malcontent to run as independent candidate instead of in the GOP primary! Before you get your hopes up that it's launch time for the Bill Bolling gubernatorial campaign, though, it's not about him... instead, it's Tareq Salahi, who's something of the political equivalent of a celebreality contestant, famous for being famous for being photographed with famous people. Since I'm not sure where any of his actual votes might come from, I'm not sure this will tip the VA-Gov balance between Dem Terry McAuliffe and GOPer Ken Cuccinelli in any meaningful way, the way a Bolling run might.

House:

CO-03: Not sure if this is the end of the line for Sal Pace's hopes of moving up to Congress (he's the Democratic former state legislator who lost the CO-03 race to GOP frosh Sal Tipton last year), or if this is his way of keeping his name front and center for a few years. Either way, he just got appointed to a vacant spot on the Pueblo County Commission. (Pueblo, along with Grand Junction, is one of the few decently sized cities in this mostly rural district that covers half the state.)

SC-01: Sorry, folks, but it looks like we won't have a sitcom-style Sanford vs. Sanford race in the special election to fill Tim Scott's seat. Jenny Sanford, the ex-wife of ex-Gov. Mark Sanford, has said she won't run (after having previously said she'd consider it). Mark Sanford, on the other hand, seems poised to run (according to leaks to the right-wing blogosphere), though he hasn't made that official. (I just checked, and it looks like none of their kids are old enough to make the race, since they were married in 1989. So we can't have "Sanford vs. Son" either.)

And in case you were wondering what Jenny Sanford's motivation in not running for the House was, she says:

"The idea of killing myself to run for a seat for the privilege of serving in a dysfunctional body under John Boehner when I have an eighth-grader at home just really doesn't make sense to me."
Other Races:

Special Elections: Via Johnny, for Tuesday:

Mississippi SD-16: Open Democratic seat centered in the booming metropolis that is West Point; the previous incumbent, Bennie Turner, passed away in November. Two candidates are running, attorney Angela Turner Lairy, who is also Turner's daughter, and a local businessman, Kenny Fowler. Though the election is nonpartisan, Lairy is a Democrat and Fowler is an independent.
(David Nir)

Grab Bag:

Demographics: National Journal has a thoughtful piece on how increasing racial polarization of our congressional districts—and the decline in ticket-splitting that goes with it—is amping up the partisanship in the House and also making it harder for the Dems to take back the majority any time soon. This is one of those pieces, though, where the graph says way more than the words: It breaks down all the districts into deciles according to non-white share of the VAP, and then breaks down the Dem or GOP numbers within each of those categories. There's a tipping point around 40 percent nonwhite; anything whiter, and it's highly likely to be a Republican district, and anything less white, and it's even more likely to be a Democratic district.

Maps: If you like to watch things turn from blue to red, this story about the politics of coal has a cool interactive map, that lets you switch back and forth between county-by-county presidential results across Appalachia for the years 1976, 1988, 2000, and 2012.

Pres-by-CD: Adding another two districts today, OH-05 and OH-09. Nothing particularly surprising to see here, as GOP Rep. Bob Latta's OH-05 was drawn to be safely Republican (54-44 Romney) and Dem Rep. Marcy Kaptur's OH-09 was drawn to be safely Democratic (68-31 Obama). (jeffmd)

Redistricting: This is a couple of weeks old, but Princeton Professor Sam Wang's entry into the debate over what's more responsible for the structural problems Democrats face in retaking the House—aggressive GOP gerrymandering or the natural tendency of Dem-leaning voters to cluster together in dense urban areas—is worth a read. Wang comes down heavily on the side of the former, but I can't do his argument justice by summarizing, so I'd encourage you to click through and read the full piece if you are interested in this topic. (David Nir)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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