• AZ-Sen: As Dems cast about for a candidate in this newly open race, the last guy who ran for this seat is saying he won’t seek it a second time. Former state party chair (and rich guy) Jim Pederson is doing the upstanding thing by flatly declaring he’s out: "I don't want to play a cat-and-mouse game with this U.S. Senate race." In an age where would-be candidates drag out the "exploratory" phase with leaks of rumors of hints of tea leafs for months, Pederson’s stance is refreshing, even if it does mean a potentially strong contender won’t run. (Of lesser note, Rep. Raul Grijalva also says he's not interested.)
Meanwhile, the Club for Growth says it’s already raised $100K for the only dude in the race so far, Rep. Jeff Flake, who just announced a few days ago.
• CT-Sen: In a move that will surely disappoint Beltway hacks endlessly thirsting to write more stories about Camelot, Ted Kennedy, Jr. says he won’t seek Joe Lieberman’s open senate seat. He did note that he might consider politics in the future (he’s 50).
• FL-Sen: Not really a surprise, but Rep. Connie Mack (R) is amping up his fundraising, hiring a veteran NRSC fundraiser who has also worked for Bill McCollum and Mel Martinez, Anne Ekern. Mack is also having a "major" event this Friday, which will supposedly feature "cigars." I assume it will also feature top hats and lighting said stogies with $50 bills.
• MA-Sen: By now you've probably caught wind of the Daily Kos effort to draft Elizabeth Warren, the interim director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Note also that David Kravitz of Blue Mass Group, the top progressive blog in the Bay State, recently said he also supports a Warren run.
• VA-Sen: It seems that everyone is trying hard to get DNC chair Tim Kaine to run for the senate seat being vacated by Jim Webb, including Barack Obama himself, who apparently talked on the phone with Kaine yesterday. (But don’t these guys talk regularly, anyhow?) Webb also said he wants Kaine to replace him. Meanwhile, ex-Rep. Tom Perriello told the Washington Post he’d consider getting in, but only if Kaine – whom Perriello said he wants to see run – doesn’t make the race.
• LA-Gov: Opulence – I has it. So says Bobby Jindal, who is sitting on a $9.2 million stack of doubloons, after hauling in $3.4 million in 2010. Seeing this, Dem state Sen. President Joel Chaisson is too smart to kiss the mini-giraffe. Though he pulled in a decent-ish $180K and checked the "statewide" box on his campaign finance disclosures, Chaisson says he’s just hedging his bets in case Jindal decides to run for president instead.
• OH-Gov: The douche is strong in this one: John Kasich was easily one of the schmuckiest candidates of the 2010 cycle, and one of the most obnoxious Republicans alive – which is saying a hell of a lot. Of course, he hasn’t changed one bit since his inauguration. Just check out this video of him calling a police officer who had the temerity to ticket him "an idiot" three times in sixty seconds. Listen in particular to his tone of voice at 1:07. What an asshole.
• AZ-06: Here's another Republican name in the mix to succeed the running-for-senate Jeff Flake: First-term Mesa Mayor Scott Smith.
• CA-36: The endorsements just keep rolling in for Janice Hahn, who has now secured the backing of local Dem Reps. Karen Bass, Lucille Roybal-Allard, and Xavier Becerra, the last of whom is a big cheese in House leadership. So far I haven’t seen word of any big names coming out for Debra Bowen (but correct me if I’m wrong). Relatedly, for a good look at which sides the various power players might line up on, check out this piece by LA Weekly’s Gene Maddaus.
By the way, Jane Harman has now said she’ll delay her resignation until Feb. 28th at the request of Gov. Jerry Brown. That gives Brown a better chance to consolidate the CA-36 race with a budget-related special election that’s likely to be held in June - but even that date is still up in the air. In any event, if round one goes forward in June, then round two (if needed) would take place in August.
• MI-05: The exact words of 81-year-old Rep. Dale Kildee (D), when asked if he’s quitting: "They'll have to carry me out of here." Despite having just $12K in the bank, the veteran lawmaker says he’s definitely going for another term, and that you can ignore his warchest: "I usually don't start raising money until March, so that doesn't mean anything."
• NY-26: Erie County Republican Chair Nick Langworthy says that he and his fellow party leaders for the seven counties which comprise the 26th CD are interviewing candidates this weekend to fill ex-Rep. Chris Lee’s seat. Since this is the fourth special election in New York in less than two years, you probably recall that nominees are selected by local party chairs, rather than in a primary. Anyhow, the GOP shortlist:
Amherst Town Supervisor Barry Weinstein; Jack Davis, a Democrat turned Republican who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Tom Reynolds for the same seat; Chris Jacobs, member of the Buffalo school board; the front-runner, Assemblywoman Jane Corwin; Dan Humiston, a businessman and owner of Tanning Bed; and Erie County lawmaker Ed Rath.
You better believe emphasis added! Oh please oh please pick Jack Davis! Anyhow, on the Dem side, it definitely looks like one speculative candidate is out: departing White House deputy press sec’y Bill Burton is starting a consulting firm, according to Politico, which you’d think would rule out a run.
• SD-AL: South Dakota’s single at-large CD is one seat where we definitely won’t have to worry about redistricting, so it makes sense that Steve Israel’s reached out ex-Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin about a potential rematch against GOPer Kristi Noem. Herseth Sandlin says they've "traded some emails" and that she's considering the idea - but obviously she hasn't taken the plunge yet, since that would probably have been front-page news here.
At the same press briefing, Israel also made a good point: Dems are holding off on announcing House recruits not just because they don’t necessarily know where the lines will be drawn, but because they don’t want to give Republicans a chance to redistrict strong candidates into oblivion. RCP does report, though, that "Democratic congressmen on the recruitment team have visited 15 states on recruitment trips and made recruitment calls to candidates in another 15 states."
• State Leges: We had a few special elections the other night. In the Los Angeles area, GOPer Sharron Runner took over her husband’s seat in SD-17 in a landslide. In SD-28, Dem Ted Lieu avoided a runoff as well. Both were holds. Over in Minnesota’s Iron Range, 25-year-old Carly Melin also held a seat for Team Blue. But in a special election primary in South Carolina’s HD-64, Alvin Greene (yes, that Alvin Greene) pull just 37 votes out of 3,960 cast. Wonder if he remembered to vote for himself.
And finally, talk about overtime: The last uncalled race of 2010 was decided in court yesterday, with an appeals panel declaring Republican Thomas Kirwan the victor in New York’s 100th Assembly District. Interestingly, Kirwan is framing this as a boon to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, pointing out that Republicans now have enough votes to prevent Speaker Shelly Silver from over-riding any Cuomo vetoes.
• WATN?: Ah, Tom Emmer, man of principle. Two years ago, the former GOP gubernatorial candidate was vigorously fighting Minnesota’s ban on expensive satellite radiation clinics, demanding that "market forces" be allowed to work. Now he’s a registered lobbyist with only one client… and that client has instructed him to advocated in favor of extending the very same ban. Market forces at work, indeed.
In better news, it's always nice to see one of our guys land on her feet. Dem ex-Rep. Betsy Markey (CO-04) has landed a job with the Dept. of Homeland Security. She’ll be the "assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs."