10:14 AM PT: Special Elections: Johnny Longtorso sums up Tuesday night's happenings:
Kentucky HD-52: Republican hold; Ken Upchurch will be going back to the legislature, though Democrat Harvey Shearer put up a good fight in this red district. The result was 59-41 Upchurch.There was some talk of Minnesota Democrats flipping 14A (and a little chatter about the GOP perhaps flipping 19A), but in the end, neither changed hands. While Republicans may be eager to crow about 14A, the fact is that it's a seat they held in 2006 and 2008. If the Minnesota GOP is at the level they were in 2006, well, Democrats would have to be pretty happy about that.
Minnesota HD-14A: Republican hold; Tama Theis defeated DFL candidate Joanne Dorsher by a 54-43 margin, while the Independence Party's Todd McKee got 3 percent.
Minnesota HD-19A: Democratic hold; DFLer Clark Johnson defeated Republican Allen Quist by a 54-36 margin, with Independence Party candidate Tim Gieske pulling in 10 percent.
11:07 AM PT: LA-Sen: PPP's making their way through all the tough Senate seats Democrats have to hold next year, and now they're up to Louisiana, where Mary Landrieu is seeking a fourth term. Guess what? The news is remarkably good, much like it was in Alaska, another top GOP target. Indeed, Landrieu's job approval rating now stands at 47-45, which seems fairly remarkable given the sharp red turn her state has taken. And that's also a healthy recovery from August of 2010, when she had a lousy 41-53 score as Democrats were on their way to an absolute drubbing at the polls.
So speaking of the polls, how does Landrieu actually fare against some hypothetical candidates? (No Republicans have declared yet.) Turns out, she leads all of them, and pretty healthily, too. Note that the numbers in parentheses represent each potential opponent's favorability rating (or in the case of Jindal, job approval):
• 48-42 vs. Rep. Charles Boustany (22-25)
• 49-41 vs. Gov. Bobby Jindal (37-57)
• 48-39 vs. ex-Rep. Jeff Landry (29-27)
• 48-38 vs. Rep. Steve Scalise (21-24)
• 50-40 vs. Rep. Bill Cassidy (19-24)
• 50-38 vs. Rep. John Fleming (20-21)
There are a few themes and observations worth pointing out here. First and most important is that Landrieu is very close to or just at 50 percent against all but one potential candidate, something that has to make her feel good. It'll be a dogfight to make sure she does in fact claw her way to 50%+1, no doubt about it, but I'll take these numbers.
Related to this, all the various current and former congressmen are mostly unknown. That means they have upside potential, but they may first have to contend with an ugly fight to be their party's standard-bearer, particularly if the notorious teabagger Landry decides to go kamikaze on their asses. I shouldn't use that phrasing, though, because Landry could very well win—and amusingly, he's doing a touch better than establishment fave Bill Cassidy, who sits at the bottom of the pile.
Speaking of the bottom of the pile, man do Bobby Jindal's numbers suck. Gov. Kenneth the Page has seen his approval rating absolutely plummet. Tom Jensen points out that when that old 2010 poll referenced above was conducted, Jindal owned a gaudy 58-34 approval score, one of the best in the country among governors. Now his 37-57 is among the very worst. It doesn't matter either way, though, since Jindal's already said he won't run.
By contrast, though, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne looks quite good against Landrieu, but I have to wonder if the huge crossover support he currently earns from Democrats could possibly survive a heated partisan campaign. Yes, party ID in Louisiana, where party switching is common, tends to be much more fluid than anywhere else in the country. But right now, Dardenne has almost identical favorability scores from Republicans (42-25) and Democrats (43-22). I don't think that's sustainable, but what's more, Dardenne hasn't even been mentioned as a possible candidate—and he didn't run in 2008, either, when his name also came up.
As I said above, Landrieu will have a hell of a race on her hands no matter what happens, but these are the kind of initial numbers you can only hope for. And while you're at it, hope for a brutal fight between Republicans, too. Louisiana doesn't conduct a traditional primary, but rather all candidates from all parties appear on the November ballot, with a December runoff between the top two vote-getters if no one scores more than 50 percent. Landrieu, as the only Dem in the field, is all but guaranteed a spot in the runoff; a GOP meltdown over who gets to oppose her in that one-month sprint would only help our chances, which already appear better than expected.
I was the first Member of Congress to call him a socialist who embraces Marxist-Leninist policies like government control of health care and redistribution of wealth....Awesome! You know, while the likes of Tom Price and other establishment Republicans sit on their asses waiting to decide whether to run for Georgia's open Senate seat, Broun is out there, telling primary voters what they want to hear—and, more importantly, validating their feelings. Maybe he has no chance, but as a Democrat rooting for maximum cat fud, I like his game.
12:06 PM PT: IA-01: We have our first official candidate in the race to succeed Rep. Bruce Braley, who is running for Senate: longtime state Rep. Pat Murphy, who for a time served as Speaker of the House when Democrats held the majority. Des Moines Dem at Bleeding Heartland praises Murphy for immediately embracing the Iowa Supreme Court's ruling that legalized same-sex marriage but also expresses some lament at the fact that Democrats didn't seek greater tax fairness when they held the trifecta prior to 2010 (when Murphy was Speaker). In any event, Murphy almost certainly won't have the field to himself, but hopefully this will be a good, clean race on the Democratic side no matter who joins.
12:25 PM PT: IL-02: A third member of Congress has endorsed in the IL-02 Democratic primary, and once again, the beneficiary is ex-state Rep. Robin Kelly: Chicago-area Rep. Jan Schakowsky is giving Kelly her backing. Roll Call's Abby Livingston caught up with Schakowsky at the State of the Union address on Tuesday night (where Kelly was also in attendance); Schakowsky specifically said that "one of the reasons" for her involvement "is the gun issue," and noted that Toi Hutchinson and Debbie Halvorson both "have A ratings from the National Rifle Association."
Meanwhile, Nick Daggers, a campaign finance consultant working for Kelly, has put together a helpful Google Doc tracking all fundraising in the race. One frustrating thing is that when a race is in its final stages and campaigns are filing so-called "48-hour reports" detailing all donations of $1,000 or more, there's no easy way to keep track of it all. But Daggers is compiling it all manually, which is a great service. One thing to note: Since February 6, Kelly has filed three 48-hour reports totaling $13,1000. Her opponents have filed none.
1:34 PM PT: The SEIU is also getting into the game, with a radio ad, playing on "urban stations," that attacks Halvorson for voting with Republicans "88 times." (That number will remind political junkies of a hilarious spot ex-Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. ran last year that featured the same statistic, albeit with far greater dudgeon.) SEIU hasn't filed an independent expenditure report yet, so there's no word on the size of the buy, but Independence USA keeps pouring it on, with additional mailers, as well as some online advertising, all aimed at Halvorson. And it also looks like CREDO, so far, has spent about $40K on their anti-Halvorson/anti-Hutchinson canvassing program.
1:56 PM PT: MA-Sen: Rep. Ed Markey just earned a couple of big union endorsements on Wednesday—big for two reasons. For starters, the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the National Education Association are both important labor organizations in the statement, and the MTA is in fact the biggest union in Massachusetts. But beyond that, these gets help push back against the notion that Markey's primary rival, fellow Rep. Stephen Lynch, has union support locked up. Lynch, a former ironworker, is depending on broad labor backing to come from behind against Markey, so it's good to see the much more progressive Markey secure some union endorsements for himself.
2:04 PM PT: NE-LG: On Wednesday, Republican Gov. Dave Heineman announced a replacement for former Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy, and boy are things going to be confusing: The new LG is former state Sen. Lavon Heidemann, a name that almost guaranteed typos, mixups, and missed appointments. I guess it's not as bad as the time Mark Warner ran against John Warner for Senate in Virginia, but this would be like having a Vice President Obana. The problem won't last for too long, though, since Heineman is term-limited and can't run for re-election next year. Though would Hei
ndemann run in his place? Who knows!
2:13 PM PT: VAWA: Tuesday's Senate vote on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (originally drafted by none other than Joe Biden 20 years ago) is great for showing you who the real degenerates are in the GOP. The bill passed by a 78-22 margin, and every single "nay," of course, belonged to a Republican. Among the most notable: South Carolina's Lindsey Graham, who may still fear a primary challenge next year; Kentucky's Mitch McConnell, who is in the same boat but could also conceivably get a legitimate general election opponent, too; and Florida's Marco Rubio, who between this and his water gulping embarrassment later the same night probably has hurt his presidential hopes in 2016.
Also on the list is NRSC chair John Cornyn—if he comes to your state to stump or fundraise for a Republican Senate candidate, be sure to throw this in both their faces. So are two swing state senators up for re-election in 2016, Iowa's Chuck Grassley and Wisconsin's Ron Johnson. I'd love to see them both get hurt over this, and I have no intention of forgetting about it.
2:28 PM PT: Nassau County, NY: It's always tempting to over-read the results of the handful of elections that take place in odd-numbered years, but I have to admit I got a sick feeling in my stomach when former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi lost his race in a startling upset in November of 2009. It's not because I was some big Suozzi partisan, but rather, I felt like it was an early warning signal about what would happen in 2010; I don't know if I was right, but I know that at least I wasn't wrong about the debacle that was to come. Thankfully, that feels like a long time ago, and not just to me: Suozzi has decided to make a comeback bid for his old job this fall.
He should be in a good position to do so: The guy who beat him, Ed Mangano, has run Nassau into the ground, forcing the state to seize control of the county's finances in 2011. Particularly seeing as how wealthy Nassau is (it's also the 27th-largest county in the country), I don't know how Mangano is going to run on his "record." What's more, Suozzi is sitting on $1 million in his campaign account, which is a sign of just how un-seriously he took Mangano four years ago. I'm sure he won't make the same mistake twice.
2:31 PM PT: NJ-Sen: Ordinarily I don't pay a lot of attention to campaign staff turnover—it happens—but this seems pretty bad for Democrat Cory Booker: His second finance director has departed in as many months, following on the heels of his treasurer as well. Inauspicious.
2:47 PM PT: MT Redistricting: Montana conducts its legislative redistricting on a more leisurely schedule than most states, preferring to implement new lines in 2014 rather than 2012. The work is handled by a commission made up of two Democrats, two Republicans, and one tiebreaker appointed by the Supreme Court, and the panel just completed its mission. The maps (which you can view here) now become law automatically. Republicans are pissed off, seeing as the tiebreaker sided with Democrats, so that has to count as good news.
3:09 PM PT: NYC Mayor: Sigh. So Republicans in Albany won't move New York City's primary to June, somehow claiming it would interfere with the legislative session (whatever). Instead, they want it in August, which Democrats don't want because far fewer people will be around to vote in the dead of summer. That means we're stuck with September, which doesn't give the Board of Elections sufficient time to prepare for a runoff and the general election—which in turn is why the BoE had talked about implementing instant runoff voting instead. But now that's dead, too. Sigh.
3:21 PM PT: MI-Gov: Holy ouch, Batman! Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's job approval rating has taken a brutal turn southward in EPIC-MRA's new poll, plummeting to 36-61 (!), all the way from 51-48 in November. That confirms other polling taken after Snyder pushed through anti-union "right-to-work" legislation in December, and it makes him an extremely tempting target for Democrats next year.