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Leading Off:

SC-01: The conventional wisdom—and the polling—turned out to be right: Ex-Gov. Mark Sanford handily beat former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic on Tuesday night in the GOP runoff for the SC-01 special election to replace Tim Scott. Sanford had far greater name recognition and a lot more money, leading him to dominate the first round of voting two weeks ago, 37 to 13. That left Bostic little time to turn things around, and Sanford secured the Republican nomination by a 57-43 margin.

(Kudos, by the way, to Public Policy Polling, the only firm willing to offer public numbers for a difficult-to-poll runoff. They put Sanford up 53-40, a 13-point margin; he won by 14. It's hard to do much better than that.)

Now Sanford will face Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, sister of comedian Stephen Colbert. (She pronounces it "cole-bert," unlike her brother.) Despite this district's very red hue—Mitt Romney carried it 58-40 last November—Colbert Busch had a narrow 47-45 lead over Sanford in PPP's survey, and a similar 47-44 edge in an internal poll she released earlier this week. While Sanford retains a measure of popularity with some Republicans, overall, his reputation is poor, thanks in large part to his infamous hike on the Appalachian Trail as governor several years ago.

Colbert Busch's favorability ratings, on the other hand, have been strong, but that comes with a big caveat: She didn't face a competitive primary and hasn't been the subject of a single negative attack yet. That's about to change. Of course, Republicans shouldn't have to break a sweat holding a seat like this, so the fact that they're almost sure to go negative on Colbert Busch is a testament to Sanford's... special qualities, and perhaps the weakness of the GOP brand in general. I wouldn't rule out the chance of an upset, especially if Colbert Busch gets serious outside help and can make the race all about Sanford. (Indeed, her famous brother is going all-out and raising lots of money for her, and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is aiding her cause, too.)

Colbert Busch has her own vulnerabilities, though they are mostly ideological, simply because she's a Democrat running in such a red district. In one tweet, for instance, she declared she was "both pro-choice and in favor of marriage equality," stances that put her to the left of the median voter in SC-01—and tellingly, her campaign just wiped her entire Twitter account clean. But as one local Republican operative quoted by Politico notes, it may be tricky for Sanford himself to go on the offensive, seeing as he's still busy apologizing for his indiscretions and many women voters still have a serious problem with him. And the fact that his opponent is a woman doesn't make it any easier.

That likely means that outside groups—principally the NRCC—will have to do Sanford's proverbial "dirty work" for him. And if national Republicans wind up having to spend real money here, that alone is a victory for Democrats. But with the GOP saddled with a candidate as flawed as Sanford, an outright victory for Team Blue is not impossible. So, as always, keep an eye on fundraising, attack ads, outside spending, and, of course, polling, because we might just see a surprise here.


GA-Sen: There's a new one-day robopoll out of a kitchen sink-style GOP primary, from the firm Landmark/Rosetta Stone, taken on behalf of a local TV news station. Rep. Phil Gingrey leads with 22 percent, while the only other declared candidate, fellow Rep. Paul Broun. is at 16. The "still considering" gang brings up the rear, with former SoS Karen Handel at 14, Rep. Jack Kingston at 8, and David Perdue at 1. If that last name seems vaguely familiar, that's because David Perdue is a first cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue. Jim Galloway reports that Perdue will soon quit the board of the Georgia Ports Authority in order to run for governor, though obviously he has some work to do on the name recognition front, despite his lineage.

MI-Sen: Unless Zeppo Romney emerges from hiding, there won't be any members of the esteemed Romney clan running for Senate in Michigan this cycle. Ronna Romney McDaniel, a niece of Mitt who describes herself as a stay-at-home mom, says she will not seek the state's open Senate seat next year. Previously, her father, Scott Romney (Mitt's brother), declined himself but encouraged her to get into the race. However, Romney McDaniel's mother and grandmother both made losing bids for Senate of their own, and she said she did not want "to put my kids through" the agony of dealing with a parent on the campaign trail.


AR-Gov: We have fundraising numbers for three gubernatorial candidates in today's Digest, starting with Arkansas Democrat Bill Halter. Halter, a former lieutenant governor and 2010 Senate candidate, says he's raised $360,000 and loaned his campaign another $640,000 on top of that, to take himself to $1 million in total receipts. I'm not sure when he began fundraising, but Halter only entered the race at the end of January, so these numbers may reflect only two months of activity. For now, Halter is the only Democratic candidate in the race, but ex-Rep. Mike Ross seems poised to enter the primary as well.

FL-Gov: While limitlessly wealthy GOP Gov. Rick Scott raised "only" $6.5 million from outside sources in 2010 and spent $75 million of his own money, this time, he's relying much more heavily on donors. To date, he's taken in $9.8 million from outsider givers, including $4.6 million in the first quarter of the year. Scott's been able to do so by creating an "electioneering communications organization" that can accept unlimited donations, as long as it doesn't "expressly advocate" for Scott's re-election, though we all know how easy those rules are to get around.

And the payoff is enormous: Instead of the puny $500 contribution limit that gubernatorial candidates normally face, Scott's taking in six-figure checks, including $500,000 from "Pinellas County moneyman" Bill Edwards and $250,000 from Waste Management, Inc. founder Wayne Huizenga. The sky is truly the limit here.

IL-Gov: Ultra-wealthy venture capitalist Bruce Rauner, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, just announced that he raised $1.3 million in his first month kinda-sorta on the campaign trail. That includes $249,000 of his own money, which the Chicago Tribune explains is "$1,000 shy of the amount that would free other GOP primary candidates from the campaign donation limits that were imposed as a result of impeached and imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's corruption scandal." Rauner still has not formally declared his candidacy, though.

ME-Gov: Pan Atlantic SMS, a local research firm that releases regular polls on the Maine electorate, has a new survey testing various possible gubernatorial permutations involving GOP Gov. Paul LePage, independent attorney Eliot Cutler, and ex-Gov. John Baldacci and Rep. Mike Michaud as Democratic options. Thanks to Cutler splitting the left-leaning vote, LePage prevails in both three-way matchups:

LePage (R): 37
Cutler (I): 27
Baldacci (D): 21

LePage (R): 34
Cutler (I): 26
Michaud (D): 23

And there's no better confirmation that Cutler is indeed set to play the spoiler role, given that in a direct head-to-head with LePage, he leads 42-35. This isn't news, though, as earlier polls—such as this more comprehensive survey from PPP back in January—showed a similar story, with LePage prevailing in every scenario.

However, PPP also had Michaud doing much better, knocking Cutler into third place and trailing LePage by only 4 points. That explains why the Maine Democratic Party is also now touting a March internal from Normington Petts showing LePage holding a narrow 36-33 edge over Michaud, with Cutler bringing up the rear at 20. The move is also probably an attempt to lure Michaud, who is only at the "considering stage," into formally entering the race.

Should he not run, though, and should Baldacci and Rep. Chellie Pingree also decline, Pan Atlantic also tested a kitchen sink Democratic primary minus these top three names. State Sen. Bill Diamond leads the way with 16 percent, with a whole host of other candidates. However, this scenario seems unlikely as Baldacci has said he'd probably run if neither Michaud nor Pingree get in. But no matter who the Democratic standard bearer is, Cutler still poses a serious problem and if he isn't pushed out of the race or demolished with negative ads, he'll once again serve as LePage's top enabler, just as he did in 2010.

VA-Gov: Ah, perfect. Ken Cuccinelli has decided to forge ahead with his plans to remake himself as a moderate by—get this—asking a federal appellate court to reconsider its decision invalidating Virginia's law against sodomy. I'm sure just about every politically aware person is familiar with the Supreme Court's landmark decision, Lawrence v. Texas, which ruled such statutes unconstitutional a decade ago... well, everyone except Ken Cuccinelli, that is. Now, there is a narrow legal angle here, because the case in question "involved a man charged with soliciting oral sex from a 17-year-old woman," so Cuccinelli argued that the anti-sodomy law still applied to minors. (No sex actually took place.) But unconstitutional means unconstitutional, so this is a matter for the legislature to rectify, not the courts. But that obviously isn't stopping the Kooch.


NM-02: Here's an off-the-radar race: Former state Rep. Joe Campos, who also served as Democrats' lieutenant governor nominee in 2010, says he's considering a run against GOP Rep. Steve Pearce. New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District is a difficult one for Democrats, though. It's the state's only Republican-leaning seat, having gone for Mitt Romney by a 52-45 margin last November. Democrat Harry Teague was able to capture it in the wave year of 2008, but Pearce ran for Senate that year, leaving the seat open.

But after failing in his attempt for a promotion, Pearce returned to his old turf and beat Teague by 10 points in the even bigger wave of 2010. Campos would need a lot of things to go right in order to pull off an upset, but aside from the governor's mansion, this is the only major office in New Mexico held by a Republican, so it's certainly worth a shot.

Other Races:

Special Elections: Time to call out the chicken little brigades! Democrats lost a seat in a special election in Massachusetts! But Johnny Longtorso is here to dispense some political Prozac:

You'd think this were 1913, not 2013, for how hard it is to get news on election results out of Massachusetts....

Massachusetts HD-12th Essex: Split opposition resulted in a Republican pickup; Leah Cole's 35 percent of the vote was enough to defeat Democrat Beverley Griffin Dunne and Independent David Gravel, who got 34 percent and 31 percent, respectively.

Massachusetts HD-28th Middlesex: Democratic hold; Wayne Matewsky won this seat, also with 35 percent of the vote. Coming in second was a write-in candidate, former Everett mayor John Hanlon, with 33 percent. Independent Rosa DiFlorio was third with 20 percent, and independent Dennis Gianatassio was last with 11 percent.

Missouri HD-157: Republican hold; Mike Moon defeated Democrat Charles Dake 59-41.

Grab Bag:

House: Whaddya know. Quinnipiac has Democrats up 8 points on their new generic House ballot, 43-35. That's by the far the biggest Dem edge they've found in quite some time; they've mostly seen 1- to 4-point leads for the boys in blue over the last year. Outlier, or the start of something new? Stay tuned.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (11+ / 0-)

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

    by David Nir on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 05:00:10 AM PDT

  •  Iraq/Afghanistan Vet to Challenge Fitzpatrick. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vatexia, Gygaxian

    Much to my surprise an intriguing candidate had already decided to challenge Mike Fitzpatrick in Pennsylvania's mercurial 8th district: Kevin Strouse from Bensalem.

    Only 33-years old. A little disappointed in the usual announcement boilerplate he offered (not as bad as Ro Khanna's though).

    I don't really understand why the Pennsylvania suburbs draw so many military veteran Democratic congressional candidates (Sestak, Murphy, Lentz, Trivedi), since it's not an especially military-heavy area. Students for a New American Politics!

    by redrelic17 on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 05:25:16 AM PDT

  •  Freepers are saying (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vatexia, Gygaxian

    it was the dirty Demoncrats who crossed over to vote for Sanford.

    Hopefully ...... soon, Mom. My political compass: - 8.38,-6.97

    by pucklady on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 05:43:48 AM PDT

  •  I'm confused (4+ / 0-)

    Cuccinelli wants to re-evaluate the sodomy laws because of a case involving solicitation for oral sex. Maybe I'm not the only one who's confused?

    Hopefully ...... soon, Mom. My political compass: - 8.38,-6.97

    by pucklady on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 05:50:20 AM PDT

  •  Re Mark Sanford (7+ / 0-)

    Mark Sanford never got a fair deal. Give the man a break. He was accused of lying to his office and constituents about his whereabouts, but he never lied--- it was all a big misunderstanding due to a bad telephone connection. When he called in to his office and the aide thought he said "I am hiking the Appalachian Trail", what he really said was "I am liking Argentinean tail".

  •  My first ad of this very special season: (0+ / 0-)

    Republicans represent both sides: the insanely rich and vice versa.

    by Crashing Vor on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 06:30:07 AM PDT

  •  As far as SC-01 is concerned, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kleinburger, pierre9045, Aquarius40

    I'd be fairly surprised if Team Blue devoted serious resources to taking it. It's very unfriendly territory, and those resources are better spent on more takeable seats.

    More importantly, those resources are better spent on more holdable seats: SC-01 is so Republican (PVI R+11) that I can't see Colbert-Busch holding on past next year's general election, no matter what.

    To put it in context: Colbert-Busch, if she wins, will be representing the equal-second most Republican-friendly district held by Democrats - the other two being UT-04 and NC-07, both held by Blue Dogs. Either she'll vote Blue Dog too, or she'll get turfed out no matter how much money the DCCC spends on her.

    This opinion probably won't be terribly popular, but on a strategic level, the Democratic Party's nationwide apparatuses - and even its statewide SC apparatuses - have better things to do with their time & money than back Colbert-Busch to the hilt.

    The DCCC has several dozen more reachable Republican-held seats it needs to find recruits and resources for, and the SC Democratic Party would do better recruiting Vince Sheheen and trying to knock off Nikki Haley next November.

    "Violence never requires translation, but it often causes deafness." - Bareesh the Hutt.

    by Australian2 on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 06:33:12 AM PDT

    •  Agree to disagree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Janet 707

      You make a lot of good points that I mostly agree with and makes entire rational sense.

      However, I'm going to make the case that, strategically, making a strong push in this District-if not a win for Colbert-Busch, at least keeping it close-would be worth the time and effort.

      Sanford is far from a strong candidate. Based on his record, he'll be fighting an uphill battle the whole way.

      Meanwhile, Colbert-Busch comes in with the underdog title, so any trend in her favor will be seen as momentum.

      Add in the national name-recognition of both candidates, and the election has the making to gain widespread media coverage, which may or may not be a tactical advantage in the election itself, per se, but holds value for the larger national Democrat vs. Republican debate. This election gives Democrats the opportunity to further strengthen the connection between the Republican Party and shady, untrustworthy politicians, and the connection between the Democratic Party and down-to-earth, voice-of-the-people, non-career politicians.

      •  I don't disagree that Colbert Busch (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        has a chance of taking SC-01 in the special election, especially against a damaged candidate like Sanford. I'll even admit to rather liking her, and wishing that she could run in a less-Republican friendly district. I just don't think she's likely to hold it in future elections (especially since she won't be facing Sanford in 2014) - and that there are better, more rewarding ways that both national and state-level Democratic organisations can invest their limited resources.

        The simple reality is that (especially in a red state like SC) the Democratic Party has limited resources in terms of people to put on the ground or in the phonebanks, and it has limited resources in terms of finance as well. That being the case, those resources should be spent carefully as a strategic truism.

        There is an argument that a Democratic victory here would shock the Republican Party (and therefore be a worthwhile victory in and of itself). I reject that argument on two grounds - first, that the GOP and the onlookers will simply blame it (correctly) on Sanford rather than the GOP generally (the GOP's in pretty poor shape, but not poor enough to generally be losing R+11 districts), and second that if the GOP does get spooked, they've got over a year to get un-spooked before the next elections.

        If the shock value of a victory is what the DCCC are looking for, they should be pouring resources into VA-Gov later this year: if McAuliffe wins, it will be the first time since 1965 that the party holding the White House would also be holding the Executive Mansion in Richmond.

        Not to mention that VA is increasingly purple, and Kookinelli is looking like the kind of Republican who'll sweep the primary and hamstring himself in the general election - it'll probably be easier, if anything.

        "Violence never requires translation, but it often causes deafness." - Bareesh the Hutt.

        by Australian2 on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 12:09:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You lose every battle that you don't fight... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pierre9045, JBraden

          I have to respectfully but strongly disagree with your positions on this race.

          I am an SC native and life-long  (49 years) resident.  I have lived in what is now SC-7, SC-6 and currently in SC-4.  I have never lived in SC-1 but know it well.

          Regarding Vincent Sheheen, there is NOTHING that would help him get elected MORE, than ECB winning in SC-1.  This is a district he himself will have to win in order to beat Nikki Haley.  It is also an area that she is particularly unpopular in.  It was also the 'swing' area that put the last Democrat Governor in office (Hodges in '98).  

          A win by ECB would embolden not only Sheheen himself (who has not yet committed to the race) but also his potential contributors and volunteers.

          The entire state (a small state land-wise) is following this race closely, and an upset of this magnitude would boost Democrats statewide at all levels.  We have not had a major D upset since 1998. This is the best shot since then to end that drought.

          SC Democrats need a WIN more than anything to get back on track.  If you EVER want to see a D Governor or Senator or more than one House member from this state, it is imperative that we win this race.

          As far as being a waste of resources, if DCCC invests in this race, the RCCC with HAVE to respond in kind.  So at worst it would be a wash.

          As far as losing the seat in 2014, don't forget that the GOP field will be crowded then too, with lots of time to reinforce divisions within the party.  There is a big split between the 'establishment' and the tea party already, and there is already talk of switching to convention nominations rather than primarys.  A Democratic win in SC-1 would open up a new round of circular firing on their side.  

          I grew up watching the SC GOP go from being a small minority party (5 of 46 state senators, for example) to the overwhelmingly dominant party. I can say emphatically that the SC GOP of the '70's and '80's would NOT let an opportunity like this go by.  They would pull out all the stops for an upset of this magnitude, and the national party would have supported them.  


          •  You bring up an interesting point (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            As far as being a waste of resources, if DCCC invests in this race, the RCCC with HAVE to respond in kind.  So at worst it would be a wash.
            In the wake of Akin's ridiculous rape comments, the GOP initially spent a good deal of time distancing itself from Akin and vowed not to send any financial support. Eventually though, the threat of losing the seat forced their hand, and they silently, under-the-radar, began funneling money to Akin after all. We all know how that ended.

            I see the GOP facing a similar dilemma with Sanford, should Colbert-Busch prove to make the election close. The GOP would either be forced to invest heavily in a Sanford campaign, taking a larger reputation-hit for having to side with a politician as unsavory as Sanford, or risk losing , neither of which is good from a GOP-establishment standpoint.

  •  Far Right Candidates from Both (0+ / 0-)

    Given her famous name, his famous antics, and the national attention, who knows? I'd say it's way too early to assume Sanford won't embarrass the fine people of that District and we should give them the opportunity to go with Colbert-Busch and avoid future shame.

    While not exactly on topic, I wanted to also share this post analyzing the situation in the South Dakota Senate race, and recommend everyone read it before making any assumptions there.

    "Far Right Democrat Stephanie Herseth Sandlin Is Lusting For A DC Comeback"

    •  Far right Democrat? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aquarius40, LordMike

      A contradiction in terms these days.

      In any event, demanding progressive purity is not likely to win us a Senate seat in South Dakota.  And before anyone starts citing George McGovern as a counterexample, it should be remembered that when he was first elected Senator in 1962 he did not have the same sort of image as he would as a national candidate a decade later, but rather was seen as a populist focused on agriculture and veterans issues, not as a antiwar cultural liberal.  And he was always on somewhat shaky political ground in the state; he lost it when running for President and eventually lost his Senate seat.

      37, MD-8 (MD-6 after 2012) resident, NOVA raised, Euro/Anglophile Democrat

      by Mike in MD on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 08:09:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Polling seems to show (0+ / 0-)

      That Herseth Sandlin does much better against potential Republican candidates Rounds and Noem than Brendan Johnson. Maybe simply a function of name recognition, but I see it as a sign of strength.

      I know you will continue to argue ideological purity despite my comment, so I'm just throwing it out there for someone who wants to read.

  •  Dems should consider backing Cutler (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike, The Caped Composer, jncca

    If he's going to be in there, and given that he ran second last time, it might behoove them to put up a token candidate.  Especially given Maine's tradition of electing independents/

    by Paleo on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 07:46:34 AM PDT

  •  NM-02 (0+ / 0-)

    Joe Campos was not the Lt. Gov. nominee, he ran in the primary though.  The Lt. Gov. nominee was Brian Colon.

  •  Silver Bullet FOR Colbert-Busch (0+ / 0-)

    "Forgiveness comes from the LORD, not one's own mouth."

    Sanford's continuous blathering about being the recipient of "forgiveness" has got to be offense to people who really care.

    What separates us, divides us, and diminishes the human spirit.

    by equern on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 09:42:16 AM PDT

  •  In that case... (0+ / 0-)

    Let's make sure we fight like hell to occupy the South Carolina 1st Congressional District so we can begin to turn the state blue!

    Colbert Busch for Congress:


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