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Leading Off:

KY-Sen: Say what you will about whether or not it improves the Democrats' chances in the Kentucky Senate race, but this does definitely make the contest less interesting: Ashley Judd has taken herself out of consideration for the Democratic nomination. A dramatic-sounding tweet Wednesday afternoon announcing "I have decided" was followed by a much more mundane one that declared: "I realize that my responsibilities & energy at this time need to be focused on my family."

A month or two ago, this decision might have been surprising, in the wake of lots of Judd buzz and a much-talked-about public address in Washington. In the past few weeks, though, her boomlet seemed to fade, with Bluegrass State Dem operatives openly worrying about the effect that the liberal Judd might have further downballot, and with Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes the subject of a good deal of renewed chatter.

Still, it's far from certain that Grimes will get in the race, but a source close to Judd told the Washington Post that Grimes's potential interest "made the decision not to run easier." And indeed, local station WHAS is reporting that Grimes now plans to set up an exploratory committee, perhaps "as early as next week." Stay tuned. (David Jarman & David Nir)

Senate:

GA-Sen, GA-11: Dr. Phil is finally in: GOP Rep. Phil Gingrey (who is, amazingly enough, an obstetrician) formally declared his candidacy for U.S. Senate on Wednesday, after a few fits and starts that had me wondering how well put-together his campaign is. Gingrey joins fellow Rep. Paul Broun, though others are quite likely to get in as well, particularly Rep. Jack Kingston.

The 11th District House seat Gingrey's vacating will also attract plenty of attention from Republicans, but open seat fans shouldn't get too excited: It went for Mitt Romney last November by a punishing 67-32 margin. But there might actually be quite a bit of fun on the GOP side, especially since ex-Rep. Bob Barr is set to jump into the field here on Thursday. Jim Galloway also mentions businesswoman Tricia Pridemore, state Sens. Barry Loudermilk and Judson Hill, and state House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey as possible contenders.

HI-Sen: A shot across the bow? The League of Conservation Voters just endorsed Sen. Brian Schatz, who will go before voters for the first time next year. Ordinarily, a left-leaning group endorsing a Democrat isn't news, but Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, whom Gov. Neil Abercrombie passed over in favor of Schatz when he had to fill the late Sen. Dan Inouye's seat last year, is contemplating a Senate bid herself. She's also looking at challenging Abercrombie in the gubernatorial primary, so this may be LCV's way of suggesting she choose that option (or simply seek re-election) rather than run against Schatz, whose environmental credentials they particularly admire.

NC-Sen: Uno mas: Kay Hagan joins the crowd of freshman Democratic senators up for re-election in red states next year who are nevertheless declaring their support for marriage equality. But Hagan's situation may well be considerably tougher than what, say, Mark Begich faces in semi-libertarian Alaska. North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman just last year, and by a 61-39 margin, no less. Now, mind you, that measure passed in May, when the state held its primaries, so that might not be reflective of a normal November electorate.

On the other hand, PPP's most recent poll (PDF) on the subject, from just last month, found respondents still opposed to same-sex marriage by a wide 54-38 margin. And Nate Silver sees North Carolina as the ninth slowest state to come around on the topic, with a majority unlikely to approve of marriage equality until very late in the decade. That said, PPP's poll offers one optimistic note for Hagan: Only 37 percent are opposed to any legal recognition of same-sex couples, while 33 percent favor marriage and 30 percent support civil unions.

That makes it pretty hard for anti-equality forces to run an all-out anti-gay effort, and indeed, even one of their ads last year featured a narrator saying, "Everyone, gay or straight, is free to live as they choose." What's more, Hagan was already on record opposing the amendment, but beyond that, the amendment passed. So can her opponents really accuse her of have any ability to overturn the law? I suppose they could try (Republicans love to pretend they are weak victims when they are, in fact, powerful oppressors), but I think it won't be easy.

On a different note entirely, Rep. Renee Ellmers has been included in several PPP polls as a potential GOP Senate candidate next year, but I don't think we'd heard straight from the horse's mouth that she was actually interested in a possible bid, until now. So parse this, if you can: "I'm praying on it. That's ultimately where I make those kind of decisions. They come to me. I don't make them myself." I'm guessing she's waiting to hear whether or not God tells her to run?

Gubernatorial:

MI-Gov: Seriously, now he wants to stage a comeback? After causing his own party so much grief over the Affordable Care Act, then retiring in a huff and allowing his House seat to slip into GOP hands, ex-Rep. Bart Stupak says he's "looking at" a possible gubernatorial bid. It's hard to gauge how serious he is, and you have to seriously wonder if he thinks he can win a Democratic primary statewide given his anti-choice views. I suspect the Michigan Democratic electorate is probably pretty similar to that in most other northern states (in other words, pro-choice), and Stupak isn't just in the minority on the issue but has in fact loudly made a name for himself over it.

What's more, while you can find anti-choice exceptions like, say, Sen. Bob Casey in Pennsylvania, it's different when you're aiming to be governor. Unlike a senator, a governor potentially has to contend with laws restricting a woman's right to choose winding up on his desk, and with the GOP in control of the legislature, that's a definite possibility. And I just don't see how Stupak could argue his way around that in a primary.

TX-Gov: While the Texas political world waits on Rick Perry to decide whether he'll seek a zillionth term as governor—and on AG Greg Abbott to finally make his very obvious intentions official—one guy isn't standing pat. Former state GOP chair Tom Pauken, who came to power in 1994 as Republicans began to swiftly turn Texas red, has filed paperwork for a gubernatorial bid. Pauken has actually served in a few posts that Perry has appointed him to, and he insists that he's not taking aim at his one-time benefactor, so perhaps he's hoping or expecting that Perry won't run again. But in that scenario, Abbott would be a prohibitive favorite for the Republican nomination thanks to his massive fundraising, so it's hard to see what Pauken's angle is exactly.

VA-Gov: It's Quinnipiac's first poll of the Virginia gubernatorial race since GOP Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling announced he would not run as an independent, but basically, nothing has changed. Republican state AG Ken Cuccinelli has a tiny 40-38 edge over former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe; last month, it was tied at 38. Both candidates are still largely unknown, and the race hasn't been engaged in a meaningful way yet. So I wouldn't be surprised if things stayed more or less this way until the paid media phase of the campaign begins.

House:

CO-03: The National Journal's Scott Bland reports on two potential Democratic candidates who might run against GOP Rep. Scott Tipton in Colorado's 3rd Congressional District, both of whom are apparently the target of recruitment efforts: state Sen. Gail Schwartz and Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia. Each has their own strengths: Schwartz serves as majority whip in the Senate and has a reputation as a "potentially strong fundraiser"; she also seems to be hooked in with EMILY's List and survived a difficult re-election bid in 2010.

Garcia, meanwhile, is described as a "motorcycle-riding" lieutenant governor and is also the state's first Hispanic LG. Garcia, as Bland points out, has never run for office on his own—he served as a college president for many years before he was tapped by John Hickenlooper as his running-mate in 2010. But CO-03, which narrowly went for Romney last year by a 52-46 margin, is about a quarter Hispanic, so Garcia's background might play especially well there.

IA-01: Businessman Rod Blum has made it official: He's running for the House seat left open by Bruce Braley, who is making a bid for Senate. Blum sought the seat last year, but he lost in the GOP primary to Ben Lange, who was in turn defeated by Braley in November.

Other Races:

Ohio: With Democrats coalescing around Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald as their likely gubernatorial nominee, the question now is who will fill out the rest of the statewide ticket. All six state-level posts are currently held by Republicans, but there are, in fact, Democrats interested in each: Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper for attorney general, State Sen. Nina Turner for secretary of state, State Rep. John Patrick Carney for auditor, and State Rep. Connie Pillich for treasurer. (The position of lieutenant governor is elected on the same ticket as the governor, so assuming he's the nominee, Fitz will tap someone further down the line.) While this roster could very well change, as the linked article explains, this fivesome recently all got together for a meet-and-greet with voters in Youngstown.

State Legislatures: This looks interesting: Democracy for America, the progressive activist group created to take up the mantle of Howard Dean's presidential campaign nearly a decade ago, is starting a new effort they call the "Purple to Blue Project," which aims to flip state legislatures from Republican to Democratic control. They're starting with the Virginia House of Delegates, the only chamber in GOP hands that's up for election this year, and they say they plan to spend $750,000 helping five candidates. Even if they're successful in all five races, though, the House will still have a Republican majority, as the party has a huge 68-32 edge. But still, you have to start somewhere.

Next year, DFA says they plan to add Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Michigan to their roster. Several chambers in these states are close, such as the Pennsylvania Senate (where the GOP has just a four-seat advantage) and the Iowa House (a six-seat Republican majority), but Democrats will have to play defense in the Iowa Senate, where they cling to just a 26-24 edge. The real trick will be getting activists invested in downballot races, which tend not to be as sexy as federal contests. But Republican-led legislatures have helped change that equation by legislating on topics of national significance, such as Michigan's implementation of anti-union "right-to-work" laws, so DFA has plenty of fuel with which to get people fired up.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (14+ / 0-)

    Get the Daily Kos Elections Digest in your inbox every weekday. Sign up here.

    by David Nir on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 05:00:10 AM PDT

  •  Aaaand let's repost. (6+ / 0-)

    I've been fooling around with R a little
    since that's the main skill in my field that I don't know yet that I should know.
    As a pet product, I took the new population estimates by the Census, projected them out to 2020, and then made a map of the impact that would have on elections assuming that the new people vote the same way as the old people. That's of course a silly assumption, looking at for instance the Atlanta suburbs and it'll probably in general produce Republican-biased estimates, but this is more for giving me an excuse to write some simple code than for serious analysis.

    The output looks like this. It adds up to 35,000 new estimated votes for Republicans in Alabama over the decade.

    Any interest in seeing more of this?

  •  Not surprised about Judd (4+ / 0-)

    I never really thought she was seriously looking at the race, but it scared the crap out of McConnel and got him to spend money attacking a woman who isn't even in the race.

  •  Grimes Would Be a Very Good Candidate. (12+ / 0-)

    I know she doesn't have name recognition outside of the state of Kentucky, but she is very popular here in KY and that's what matters most.

    She won statewide election for Secretary of State pretty easily two years ago and her ad campaign was very good.

    It will be very hard for McConnell to run a dirty campaign against her because she does not have any dirty laundry to snoop through and she is well-liked by Democratic and Republican voters alike.

    I hope she runs.

    Not easily outraged.

    by kefauver on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 06:22:13 AM PDT

  •  I'm praying on it. That's ultimately where I make (0+ / 0-)

    those kind of decisions. They come to me. I don't make them myself."

    Scary bunny man in my sleep tells me to invade run for election, invade a Country, do anything, people do interventions and offer medical assistance.

    Claim GOD tells you personally, Republicans applaud. They learnt this shit from their other closely related money grabbing kooks, the mega churches.  

    •  Kay Hagan prayed on it too ....... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sewaneepat, howarddream, askew, NCJan, jncca

      ... as you'll see if you read her statement in favor of gay marriage

      I think it's better in general to distinguish carefully between political hacks who thump the Bible for political purposes and people whose religious convictions are genuine.

      While you can always find some of the former, there are many more of the latter. I live in a rural area of NC and know many, many good people who are very conservative, and whose political beliefs are informed by their spiritual convictions.

      •  Knowing Snow Camp (4+ / 0-)

        You may know that in the Society of Friends, it is common (even among the non-Theist elements) to sit in silence, waiting for "that still small voice within" to give guidance.

        Call it prayer, call it meditation, call it "getting clear" about the right course of action.

        It's not such a bad thing.

        Just because the government keeps a record of real property transfers, it doesn't mean that the government wants to confiscate your home.

        by NCJan on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 08:17:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  A shame Judd got ran out of there... (0+ / 0-)

    ...by the Clintons. The DLC rides again.

    The Grand Bargain must be stopped at all costs to protect the 99%.

    by cybrestrike on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 06:28:03 AM PDT

    •  She did not get run out by the Clintons. (3+ / 0-)

      For one thing, she was never in Kentucky to get run out of it. Secondly, she really had a very slim chance of winning there.

      What I hope is that she will run in Tennessee (where she actually lives). It would be great if she could beat Marcia Blackburn, whose district she lives in, but that would also be a stretch. So a more likely scenario would be for her to move a county over and run in District 5 if Cooper ever retires or run in District 4 against Desjarlais.

      You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

      by sewaneepat on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 07:47:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Do You Have a Link for That? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kefauver

      I miss Speaker Pelosi :^(

      by howarddream on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 09:20:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Back in SC, it appears Sanford's opponent, Bostic (3+ / 0-)

    may have been lawyer of record for a shady adoption agency which has been described by some as being engaged in human trafficking.

    http://crooksandliars.com/...

    Christian World Adoption was an adoption agency dealing in international adoptions, particularly Ethiopian adoptions.
    At least one adoptee reports her parents understood she was coming the the US as an exchange student and expected for her to return home after a year.   Instead she found herself with a new country and a new family.
    http://www.fitsnews.com/...
    http://www.cbsnews.com/...

    Add to that his residency woes and Sanford appears to be the GOP nominee  http://www.fitsnews.com/...

  •  Just another reason to hate the south (2+ / 0-)

    We can't even run a real democrat in these states. Even if we win we get another Repocrat who votes against everything that the democratic party stands for.

    If you give the people a choice, you have a chance. If you give the people no choice, they won't show up. Why should they?

    ...the GOP seems perfectly willing to hold their breath until the whole country turns Blue.

    by tommy2tone on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 06:46:24 AM PDT

    •  Grimes is a real Democrat (8+ / 0-)

      Not sure why you would think otherwise. Her opposition to voter ID was a primary focus of her campaign.

      •  Yet a Kentucky Democrat (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Woody

        in the comments above is hoping she doesn't run, because:

        She will be wasted in the Senate.  She will be forced to take conservative positions that will seem ridiculous in a few years.
        You can't seem to win these races in these states while being a real Democrat.

        Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

        by fenway49 on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 07:12:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There's no point in complaining (6+ / 0-)

          Holding the Senate in 2014 is going to be plenty difficult, so we should be grateful if we get good candidates of any stripe to run in states that vote Republican at the federal level.

          I don't like how Kentucky Democrats seemed more afraid of a Judd run than of McConnell, though. Reflective of how ossified Appalachian Democrats in places like KY and WV have gotten...more worried about protecting whatever power they have left than in expanding the playing field.

          "The perfect is the enemy of the good." -Voltaire

          by PsiFighter37 on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 07:44:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's fine (0+ / 0-)

            It's just an observation that we have a lot of work to do, winning people over on the issues, if we're ever going to have a decent Congress in this country. Too many states where sensible Democratic positions are considered extreme left.

            That KY Dems are so skittish reflects this. They may have been protecting their fiefdom, they may have just thought a Hollywood star wouldn't fly in Kentucky. Discomfort with Hollywood stars returning "home" to run is not limited to the more conservative states. There were whispers Ben Affleck might look at our race here in MA and just about everyone I know thought that would inspire a backlash. Even though his take on the issues is not far out of line here, 15 years in Hollywood makes they guy seem "not one of us" to a lot of voters.

            Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

            by fenway49 on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 08:36:51 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I Found that Poster's Comment Odd. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NCJan, Gygaxian, JBraden

          I too am a Kentucky Democrat in Lexington and I am not sure why that poster believes Grimes will be a good governor, yet a poor Senator.

          Plus, the local KY progressive website that I follow, "Barefoot and Progressive," is very high on Grimes.

          Not easily outraged.

          by kefauver on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 09:32:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't know about Grimes (0+ / 0-)

            specifically, but in many states we've seen Democrats who feel the need to shift rightward in their positions to win federal office, perhaps because the national Democratic Party is perceived as left of the majority of Kentucky voters. In a race for Governor there may be less need to distinguish oneself from the national party by pandering to the right. I took the point not as a critique of Grimes but of this phenomenon.

            Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

            by fenway49 on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 01:20:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  What are her other positions? .. (0+ / 0-)

        is Grimes pro-choice?  Also .. I noticed even most KY Democrats voted to override the Governor's veto of that "religious freedom" bill

    •  Huh? (3+ / 0-)

      Clinton?  Carter?

      Down here in Chapel Hill, NC, where I come from, we have an openly gay mayor who is a member of Mayors Against Guns.

      He's a lot more progressive than most of the public officials were where I used to come from--in upstate New York.

      Let's not be prejudiced and paint all people living in the South with a broad brush.

      Just because the government keeps a record of real property transfers, it doesn't mean that the government wants to confiscate your home.

      by NCJan on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 08:19:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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