• TX-Sen: Republican Sen. Jim DeMint continues to pick up the pace in the new year. His Senate Conservatives Fund just rolled out a half-million buy on behalf of former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz, whom they endorsed all the way back in July. (You can watch the ad here.) A couple of weeks ago, DeMint threw down $210K in support of Treasurer Don Stenberg's Senate bid in Nebraska, so he's finally putting his money where his mouth is.
And speaking of Cruz, PPP has a new batch of primary numbers which show some good news for him:
Things are getting a little bit more interesting in the Republican primary for Senate. David Dewhurst still holds a large lead over Ted Cruz, but it's down from 29 points in September to now just 18. Dewhurst is at 36% to 18% for Cruz, 7% for Tom Leppert, 4% for Craig James, 2% for Joe Agris, 1% each for Glenn Addison and Lela Pittenger, and 0% for Charles Holcomb.
Since our previous poll Dewhurst's support has declined from 41% to 36%, while Cruz's has increased from 12% to 18%. Dewhurst continues to have far superior name recognition, with 60% of voters familiar with him to only 29% who have an opinion about Cruz. Here's a finding that signals the potential of this race to get very interesting though: among those 29% familiar with Cruz, whether they like him or not, he leads Dewhurst 34-31. That speaks well to his ability to make things competitive once he becomes better known and really starts spending money.
• CO-04 (?): Brandon Shaffer (D): $112K raised
• CO-06: Perry Haney (D): $352K cash-on-hand (no word on $ raised, so may include self-money)
• KY-Sen: Sen. Mitch McConnell (R): $1 mil raised, $4.25 mil cash-on-hand (not up until 2014)
• MI-Sen: Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D): $1.2 mil raised, $5.9 mil cash-on-hand
• MO-Gov: Dave Spence (R): $375K raised (since Nov. 23, plus $2 mil self-money), $2.3 mil cash-on-hand
• NY-19: Rep. Nan Hayworth (R): $350K raised, $1.1 mil cash-on-hand
• TX-Sen: David Dewhurst (R): $1.5 mil raised
• TX-AG (last six months of 2011): Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott (R): $2.1 mil raised, $12 mil cash-on-hand (presaging a 2014 gubernatorial run?)
• AZ-Sen: There's a little color here in this AP piece on Richard Carmona's views on several issues of the day, which is kind of helpful since he really didn't have to address topics like these in his prior stint in public life as U.S. surgeon general from 2002 to 2006. There's also a preview of the kind of campaign former state party chair Don Bivens plans to wage in the Democratic primary: A new video of his says voters can choose between Bivens, "who stood with us in opposing the Bush administration," or Carmona "the guy who worked for the Bush administration."
• ND-Sen: Well, those were some weird rumors. A spokesman for retiring Dem Sen. Kent Conrad says he's "made a commitment" to "serving out his term," and Conrad himself denied speculation that he would be tapped to serve as President Obama's director of the Office of Management and Budget. More importantly, Obama has already selected Jeff Zients, a deputy director of the OMB, to fill the top spot (at least on an interim basis).
• MO-Gov: I hope this is true. In a super-lengthy post-mortem on Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder's disastrous non-campaign for governor, Rebecca Berg offers this tidbit:
Those close to Kinder say they haven't ruled out a go at the governor's mansion in 2016—if Kinder is elected to a third term as lieutenant governor. But they admit that it's tough to look forward when the ink on this campaign's eulogy isn't yet dry.
• NC-Gov: Another month, another set of disappointing polling numbers for Bev Perdue from Public Policy Polling. The election is now less than 10 months away. Does anyone think she can turn it around?
• WA-Gov: SurveyUSA is out with its bi-monthly poll of the Washington gubernatorial race, and they find the best numbers Democrat Jay Inslee has seen since June of last year. Click the link for our full post at Daily Kos Elections.
• WI-Gov: Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, one of several people who'd been publicly mulling a run in a gubernatorial recall, just became the second Democrat to join the race on Wednesday. That means (for now) we can expect a recall primary, because state Sen. Tim Cullen declared his interest back in December. It'll be interesting to see if further candidates get in (such as Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett or ex-Rep. Dave Obey), and/or if there are any attempts to reach a consensus and avoid a primary.
• CA-26: As expected, state Sen. Tony Strickland officially entered the race for the open 26th CD on Tuesday, joining Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks in the GOP primary.
• CA-31: Awesome! Republican state Sen. Bob Dutton seemed very interested in running in the 31st, particularly because it looked like the seat would become open with Rep. Jerry Lewis's retirement. But when another Republican congressman, Gary Miller, decided to seek re-election here after Lewis hung up his spurs, Dutton did not sound deterred in the least—and now he's followed word with deed, formally announcing his candidacy on Wednesday.
Miller, as we've noted, is carpetbagging into the district and doesn't currently represent any of its constituents. Dutton's state Senate seat, on the other hand, has significant overlap with the new 31st: Indeed, he already represents 53% of the district's constituents. If Dutton can raise the money he needs, this should be one hell of a matchup—and a prime generator of cat fud for the next several months. And the more these two whale on each other, the better chance Democrats will have of picking this seat up in November.
• CT-04: Former state Sen. Dan Debicella, who came up short against Dem Rep. Jim Himes in 2010, says he won't seek a rematch. Debicella had been mentioned as a possible GOP candidate by state party chair Jerry Labriola back in October, but he never said anything that made him sound interested in a second run. That leaves Republicans still searching for a standard-bearer who satisfies them, since the power brokers don't seem too thrilled with the current field.
• FL-22, TX-20, WA-01: So a new super PAC called "American Sunrise" says, according to Politico, that it "plans to raise between $1.5 million and $2 million to support several young, pro-business congressional candidates who are also 'socially progressive.'" On their initial list are three Democrats: FL-22's Patrick Murphy, TX-20's Joaquin Castro, and WA-01's Andrew Hughes. Except there's one rather big problem here: Hughes dropped out of the race on Tuesday, the day before this story appeared. You'd think American Sunrise would have realized that before they emailed Politico, no?
• NC-11: Businessman and 2010 GOP nominee Jeff Miller, who said last summer that he was unlikely to run again, has indeed decided against a rematch and will instead endorse real-estate investor Mark Meadows in the crowded Republican primary. Miller lost to Dem Heath Shuler by a 54-45 margin last cycle, though the 11th District was made considerably redder in redistricting, so Shuler will almost certainly face an even tougher fight this year.
• NH-01: Just a little detail to keep in your back pocket if you ever see any surveys from Virginia-based Republican polling firm OnMessage in the future: The company just agreed to pay the state of New Hampshire $15,000 for violating state laws that require pollsters to announce whom they're calling on behalf of. In this particular case, OnMessage failed to tell people that they were conducting research on behalf of Republican Frank Guinta in Sept. 2010, and indeed, adds the AP: "The script used during the poll specifically instructed the pollsters to disclose Guinta's name only if asked directly by the call recipient."
• NY-22: Dem Rep. Maurice Hinchey will announce his retirement on Thursday, an unsurprising move given his age (73) and the fact that he's been treated for colon cancer over the past year. (Fortunately, Hinchey says he's cancer-free.) Usually in such situations, speculation centers around possible replacement candidates, but in this case, chatter immediately turned to redistricting. With New York slated to lose two seats this year, the newly-open 22nd is now on the chopping block. Click the link for our full post on this story at Daily Kos Elections.
• MD-06: Democrat John Delaney is out with a pair of new minute-long radio ads touting his candidacy which you can listen to here and here. If you actually listen into the second half of each of them, I think he does a pretty decent job reframing his own business background as "guy who helped make loans to small businesses" instead of just "wealthy financier." Delaney's main opponent in the primary is State Sen. Rob Garagiola.
• PA-04: Some more names are emerging on the GOP side in the newly-open 4th CD, where Republican Rep. Todd Platts just announced his retirement. Shira Toeplitz mentions that NRCC deputy political director Brock McCleary is interested (way to cut out the middle-man), while Keegan Gibson says York County Commissioner Chris Reilly is is likely to run. The York Dispatch adds that that another county commissioner, Steve Chronister, is also looking at the race. So is businessman Mike Smeltzer, who took 30% in the GOP primary against Platts in 2010. Police sergeant Ted Waga, who had hoped to do this year what Smeltzer could not a cycle ago, says he's staying in the contest even with Platts out.
And even though this is a very red seat, York County Democratic chair Bob Kefauver says he expects an unnamed Dem candidate to announce on Saturday. Platts' last opponent in the general election, Ryan Sanders, also adds that he's considering another attempt. (Sanders scored just 23% in 2010.)
• VA-02: We hadn't really heard much about wealthy investor Paul Hirschbiel since he announced plans to take on GOP freshman Scott Rigell last July, but he's planning to formally kick off his campaign on Monday—and Sen. Mark Warner, whom Hirschbiel's worked with before, will be on hand to offer his endorsement. This will be a challenging district for any Democrat to win, but at least Hirschbiel is unlikely to lack for resources.
• Honolulu Mayor: Huh. Democrat Ben Cayetano, who served as Hawaii's governor for two terms from 1994 to 2002 (right before Linda Lingle), says he plans to run for Mayor of Honolulu this year. Cayetano is 72 years old, and has been out of office for a decade, but perhaps he's taking inspiration from Neil Abercrombie, who reclaimed the governor's mansion for Team Blue in 2010 at the same age.
• WI Recall: Now that petitions have been filed to force the recalls of several Republican state Senators, chatter about potential Democratic candidates is getting underway. Former state Sen. John Lehman says he's "seriously considering" a run in the 21st District against Van Wanggaard, who defeated Lehman in 2010 by five points. In the 23rd, former state Rep. Kristin Dexter called a campaign against Terry Moulton an "interesting option." (Dexter very narrowly lost her re-election bid last cycle by less than half-a-percent in a recount against Republican Kathy Bernier.) And finally, state Rep. Donna Seidel isn't ruling out a bid against Pam Galloway in the 29th.
• DCCC: The D-Trip, as planned, announced its first round of Red to Blue candidates for the 2012 elections on Wednesday, though their approach this time is a little different in years past. The top category (known, of course, as "Red to Blue") is divided into two groups: Actual candidates the DCCC is backing, and then districts where the primary is still unsettled and the D-Trip is candidate-agnostic but expects or hopes will be competitive regardless of who the nominee is. They've also divided their second-tier group, "Emerging Races," in the same fashion. And there's a separate third category, called "Majority Makers," which highlights Democratic candidates running in open blue seats. We'll bring you a more detailed look at the new list soon.
• Election Law: This must-read piece by Rick Hasen clarifies how Citizens United gave birth to super PACs, and how they changed the landscape compared to what came before.
• OFA: Mazal tov to longtime friend of Daily Kos Elections/Swing State Project Lis Smith, who, after a very successful run as communications director for the Democratic Governors Association, is taking a new job as director of rapid response for the Obama campaign. Mitt Romney, be very afraid: Lis will wreck you.
• Pres-by-CD: We've updated our chart of presidential results for the new congressional districts to include incumbent names and party control information. With redistricting still incomplete and re-election plans unsettled in many cases, some of this data represents judgment calls and best guesses, but we think we've come about as close as you can possibly get. (There is one guy not on the list at all: California Republican David Dreier, who's all but impossible to shoehorn into the chart.)
• AZ Redistricting: Arizona's redistricting commission has posted maps and related data files for the final plans that it just passed on Tuesday.
• CA Redistricting: It's easy to forget that California is subject to preclearance under the VRA, at least as far as changes to statewide voting procedures are concerned. But indeed, four counties are so-called "covered jurisdictions": Kings, Merced, and Monterey in the middle-ish part of the state and Yuba toward the north. So anything that would affect voting in these counties—such as new redistricting plans—has to get Dept. of Justice approval. But no biggie: The DoJ just gave the thumbs-up to the state's new legislative and congressional maps. There are, however, still legal challenges and a possible referendum pending.
• FL Redistricting: Florida's state Senate passed its new congressional proposal on Tuesday, with a majority of Democrats shamefully joining the GOP in favor of the map. That kind of "bi-partisan" cover is probably exactly what Republicans were looking for, especially when it comes time to defend the final map in court. (How much you wanna bet the Democratic votes in support get raised then?) The real question now is what the state House does: They've been working on their own congressional plans, so will they now just decide to go along with the Senate's? Or will each chamber pass separate maps and then have to reconcile them?
• ID Redistricting: Add Idaho to the growing list of states that have had legislative redistricting plans struck down by the courts. (Off the top of my head, Colorado, Hawaii and Missouri belong on the list, and other states like Alaska, Texas and Wisconsin are in jeopardy of joining.) In any event, the Idaho Supreme Court just found that the state's new legislative map impermissibly split counties in violation of the state constitution, so now the redistricting commission has to start all over again.
• NY Redistricting: The powers that be have teased us since forever when it comes to redistricting in New York, and I trust state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos about as much as I trust any Republican. But for whatever it's worth, he's claiming that "next week we will be able to release the maps." Believe it when I see it.
• OH Redistricting: There aren't any good guys here, and who even knows who's telling the truth, but state Rep. Sandra Williams, the head of the Legislative Black Caucus who was all too willing to parlay with Republicans during redistricting time, claims that Dennis Kucinich threatened to run against Rep. Marcia Fudge (Ohio's lone black member of Congress) in the 11th District Democratic primary if lines weren't drawn to his liking. Kucinich allegedly wanted Williams to convince the legislature to revert back to an earlier map which put Kucinich on fairer footing in the 9th CD against another fellow Dem, Rep. Marcy Kaptur. (Kucinich had even paid for robocalls exhorting legislators to support that plan.) In the end, of course, Kucinich stuck with his plans to seek re-election in the 9th.
Kucinich, of course, denies all of this, though back in December, rumors did surface that he was looking at the 11th. And it's also worth pointing out that the original map which Kucinich robocalled for was supported by none other than Williams herself, who crossed the aisle to vote in favor of it. So like I said, no good guys in this story, whatever the story may be.
• TN Redistricting: Oh, this is just priceless!
State lawmakers are going to have to hold a re-vote on the redistricting bill for the Senate after the version approved last week left out a major portion of Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris’ district.
The text of the final district map approved by the legislature left West Tennessee’s Tipton County (population 61,081) off the list of precincts in Norris’ 32nd Senate District. Earlier versions of the bill did include Tipton, but staffers apparently forgot to name the county when they moved about 10 precincts in and out of the 32nd in a shuffle of neighboring Shelby County.
The majority leader, no less! Believe it or not, this kind of thing is not a particularly rare occurrence. Lawmakers in West Virginia and North Carolina also had to re-pass plans that suffered from alleged "technical" errors, and even worse, Wisconsin Republicans forced through maps so flawed that in many cases, they literally cannot be complied with. At least the Tennessee situation is readily fixable. Wisconsin's mess is much worse.
• TX Redistricting: There's nothing particularly newsy here as yet, but just wanted to let you know that the long-awaited preclearance trial over Texas's new maps has finally begun in Washington, DC. As always, you'll want to keep up with Michael Li for the latest developments.
• VA Redistricting: Unsurprisingly, Virginia's new Republican-drawn congressional map passed through committee in the state Senate (which is newly back in GOP hands) and will likely pass the full chamber soon. The state House already passed the same map, so the redistricting process, which was stalled for all of 2011, is close to finished in the Old Dominion.
• WV Redistricting: While the legislature attempts to come up with a new congressional redistricting plan that passes constitutional muster, the parties fighting over the map that was recently overturned by a district court are currently hashing it out in front of the U.S. Supreme Court over an emergency motion to stay the lower court's ruling. The map's challengers oppose such a stay, of course, saying that it's unnecessary given how quickly the legislature is moving to draft a new one. All briefing has been submitted, so the SCOTUS should decide relatively quickly—though it took a lot longer than expected when the Texas redistricting defendants asked for a similar stay.