• San Diego Mayor: You might remember a widely-circulated article from February about the California GOP's decline, as best seen in their utter lack of a statewide bench... though in that piece, moderate young Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher was heavily touted as their one possible rising star. So what does it say about your party when your most highly-regarded up-and-comer just up and leaves?
Indeed, that's exactly what just happened, with Fletcher bolting the GOP, becoming an independent and offering a bunch of Americans Elect-style nonsense about the failure of partisan politics. It got him the praise from the usual suspects you'd probably expect he was after (like David Brooks), but it may just be a canny play designed to help him in the San Diego mayoral race. This move lets Fletcher differentiate himself out of the clutter of other Republicans running (Carl DeMaio and Bonnie Dumanis), to hopefully win a spot in the top-two primary against Dem Bob Filner. (David Jarman)
• FL-09: Alan Grayson (D): $550K raised
• NY-06: Grace Meng (D): $300K raised (in 10 days)
• TN-03: Weston Wamp (R): $175K raised, $436K cash-on-hand
• VA-Sen: Tim Kaine (D): $2.2 mil raised, $4.4 mil cash-on-hand; George Allen (R): $1.4 mil raised, $2.7 mil cash-on-hand
• IN-Sen: Richard Mourdock is out with a new ad attacking his GOP primary rival, Sen. Dick Lugar, over his alleged support for raising gas taxes by a dollar a gallon. No word on the size of the buy, though you can watch the ad at the link.
• MT-Sen: While Rasmussen has been willing to go out on quite a limb on a few of their other Senate polls lately, they're playing things pretty safe on their newest poll of the Jon Tester/Denny Rehberg contest, finding it a 47 Rehberg-44 Tester race... exactly the same as they found in February. PPP had it at 47-45 for Republican Rehberg the last two times they polled, so we have a sort of awkward consensus here. (David Jarman)
• NE-Sen: Republican AG Jon Bruning's new ad is amusingly dickfaced—"If the founding fathers could see what Barack Obama is doing to our country and our constitution, they'd turn over in their graves," he says. (Actually, I think they'd say, "Let us out of these caskets, you assholes!") But the spot also contains a subtle flub, one which won't make Mitt Romney happy. Later in the ad, Bruning adds: "In the Senate, I'll fight Obama's unconstitutional power grabs." So he doesn't think a Republican will be in the White House come 2013? I'm with you, brother!
• NV-Sen: PPP is out with their new poll of the Nevada Senate contest, and they find a very similar picture to what they've always found: a tight race. GOP Sen. Dean Heller leads Dem Rep. Shelley Berkley 46-43, a small change from the 45-45 tie they saw back in October. But there are some warning signs for both candidates, which we explore in our full post at Daily Kos Elections.
• NC-Gov: Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton is reportedly going on the air later this month with a $315K ad buy, but it looks like he won't be alone, as his Democratic primary rivals are also apparently planning to run TV ads soon, too.
• CA-30: Dem Rep. Brad Sherman is out with a new internal from the Feldman Group, in which he leads the entire field in the top-two primary with 40%. Fellow Dem Rep. Howard Berman is second with 17%, and Republican businessman/actor Mark Reed is in third with 12%. In a direct one-on-one matchup between Sherman and Berman, Sherm leads 52-25, basically unchanged from his August poll where he was up 51-26. Let's see what these numbers look like after the paid media phase of the race becomes fully engaged, though.
• FL-09: Republicans landed the man who is likely their strongest possible candidate in Florida's new 9th Congressional District: Osceola County Commission Chairman John "Q" Quiñones, who said he was seriously considering the race just a couple of weeks ago. While this is a district that Obama won with 60% of the vote, Democrats look set to nominate ex-Rep. Alan Grayson, who was one of the worst under-performers among Democratic members of Congress who lost in 2010. Check out this chart to see what I mean: Grayson represented the old FL-08, which sticks out in the top-left corner. No one with a comparably blue district lost by nearly as much (18%), and only three incumbents lost by more, all of whom represented considerably redder seats. So Grayson could make this race a lot more interesting than you'd otherwise expect.
But I wonder how polished Quiñones actually is. He's already squirming about the Ryan plan 2.0, and he's refusing to answer tough questions. See below:
When asked whether he supported Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul Ryan’s controversial budget plan, he demurred.Not the hallmark of a skilled candidate.
“There’s going to be time to debate and to go into the details,” Quiñones said. “As we move forward, we’re going to put forward a comprehensive plan of issues that I’d like to bring forth when I become a Congressman.”
When asked whether he would have voted to raise the debt ceiling last summer, he declined to answer. “The over and out-of-control spending is something that I’m passionate about,” he said, noting he lowered taxes on the local level.
• FL-26: I really feel like this is all for the better: State Rep. Luis Garcia, who in recent months had proven himself to be the absolute worst Democratic House recruit we've seen in quite some time, finally pulled the plug on his campaign against GOP freshman David Rivera. Given his constant, open feuding with the DCCC (which he said stood for "double-crossers, connivers and cowards") and the fact that his top staffers all left, this comes as no surprise. Instead, he'll run for a seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission, something he said he might do just the other day.
But since this is Garcia, that ain't the end of it. On his way out of the congressional race, he also declared that he'd probably leave the Democratic Party, and he said that Dems would try to recruit replacements by "reviv[ing] a couple of political cadavers that have lost other elections." An interesting bit of projection, because if there's a dead man walking anywhere in South Florida politics, it's surely Garcia. So, yeah, we're back to square zero when it comes to having a candidate to take on Rivera, but at this point, Garcia would have been worse than nothing.
• MI-07: The Schwarz may still be with us—at least we'll find out soon. Ex-Rep. (and moderate ex-Republican) Joe Schwarz says that negotiations are still ongoing with the DCCC about him potentially running as a Dem against Tim Walberg, the GOPer who bounced him in the 2006 primary... and that he'll have a decision this week. Don't get your hopes too high, though; it seems like every cycle has a Hamlet act from Schwarz that ends up not going anywhere. (In 2010, it was the possibility of an independent run for Governor.) (David Jarman)
• MI-14: Dem Rep. Gary Peters scored a couple of notable endorsements in recent days, including one from the AFL-CIO. That's not a surprise, since Peters has cleaned up on the labor front, but it's still a big get. The other was perhaps not as significant but is quite interesting nonetheless: The Wayne County Democratic Black Caucus gave Peters their backing, which is noteworthy not only because of the cross-racial nature of the endorsement (Peters is white, and his chief rival for the Democratic nod, fellow Rep. Hansen Clarke, is black), but because Peters is from Oakland County, rather than Wayne.
• NC-07: What do Donald Rumsfeld and Ilario Pantano have in common? Well, for starters, they were both interested in taking the Iraq War into all sorts of new extra-legal directions. And now Rumsfeld is backing Pantano in the GOP primary in the 7th (against state Sen. David Rouzer, for the nod to face incumbent Dem Mike McIntyre). The ex-SecDef will be appearing at a Pantano fundraiser in Washington, D.C. on April 16. (David Jarman)
• NY-06: The Independence Party is reportedly bestowing its first endorsement on a Democratic hopeful running for the House, Assemblywoman Grace Meng. It's not like the GOP has a shot in this district (through Republican NYC councilman Dan Halloran surely would have liked their line), so you'd have to chalk this up to the IP simply wanting to stay on the side of the winners.
• PA-18: The inscrutables over at the Campaign for Primary Accountability, which claims it plans to spend $200K to defeat GOP Rep. Tim Murphy, is out with its first ad, recycling a spot they used to help defeat Ohio Rep. Jean Schmidt last month. The ad accuses Murphy of being corrupt, of hiking the debt ceiling, of being pro-earmarks, etc. It doesn't, however, mention Murphy's primary opponent, Evan Feinberg—it just asks voters to "retire Murphy." It's not clear how much the CPA is spending on this particular buy, but you can watch the ad at the link.
• TN-04: State Sen. Eric Stewart got some recent fundraising help from ex-Gov. Phil Bredesen in his bid to unseat freshman GOPer Scott DesJarlais. According to The Tennessean's Chas Sisk, Bredesen endorsements are actually quite rare, though it looks like the extent of his involvement was to send an email under his name (and it's not clear whether it was to his own list or to Stewart's).
• TN-05: At the end of a profile of undergrad Mary Cooper in The Daily Tar Heel (the student newspaper at UNC), her well-known father—that would be Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper—suggests she might run for his seat in Congress when he's ready to move. His remarks sound a bit tongue-in-cheek, but you won't be surprised to learn that the younger Cooper just finished a term as student body president. (Hat-tip: reader JD)
• WA-01: Gov. Chris Gregoire declared the special election for the replacement of recently resigned Rep. Jay Inslee will occur on the regularly scheduled election day in November. She's simply following state law requirements, so that's no surprise, but the one outstanding question mark did get answered, too: The special election will be under the old 1st district lines even as, at the same time, the general election will be under the new 1st district lines.
(That, of course, leads us down the rabbit hole of weird scenarios that I discussed when the Inslee resignation rumors first surfaced: namely, that, with a more liberal special election electorate, you could have a luckless Dem win the special and lose the general at the same time, leaving her to serve out the one-month lame duck session before making way for GOPer John Koster. Or, alternatively, since there will also be a special primary on the same day as the regular primary, considering how closely bunched the top Dems will be, you could have two different Dems win, one advancing to the special general and one advancing to the regular general!) (David Jarman)
• Budget Votes: Late last week, the House voted on four different budget resolutions, including version 2.0 of the notorious Ryan plan and the even more diabolical RSC budget. David Jarman has an interesting look at how all of these votes broke down, analyzing who the outliers were and why they may have acted as they did.
• FL Redistricting: What is Pam Bondi up to here? Florida's attorney general is required, under the state's new redistricting amendments, to forward new legislative maps to the state supreme court once the legislature passes them. (Interestingly, the governor doesn't have to—or even get to—sign off on legislative maps under the new regime.) The first time the lege passed such maps, Bondi sent them to the high court right away, but the newest Senate map—required because the court struck down the original set of lines—is still sitting on her desk. She has until April 11, but I'm just not sure how delaying at this point could possibly help the GOP.