• Virginia: In Tuesday's Democratic primary in Virginia, state Sen. Ralph Northam defeated former White House technology chief Aneesh Chopra by a 54-46 margin, earning him the right to take on the GOP's already infamous nominee for lieutenant governor, E.W. Jackson. And in the race for attorney general, state Sen. Mark Herring held off attorney Justin Fairfax 52-48; he'll face Republican state Sen. Mark Obenshain in November. With Terry McAuliffe unopposed for the gubernatorial nod, the Democratic ticket is now set, and Virginia will face a very competitive set of elections this fall.
Meanwhile, further down the ballot, Delegate Rosalyn Dance, who had made local Democrats unhappy thanks to her coziness with the GOP, narrowly turned back a challenge from first-time candidate Evandra Thompson, 53-47, in the 63rd District. In her concession, Thompson, who is just 30 years old, says she plans to run again in 2015.
But on the other side of the aisle, two veteran Republican incumbents lost renomination to conservative challengers incensed at their support for a new transportation funding law that included some tax increases. Delegates Beverly Sherwood and Joe May were both unseated, the former by a tight 51-49 spread, the latter by a humbling 57-35. Three other delegates prevailed, though: Bobby Orrock survived his scrape 57-43, while Todd Gilbert and House Speaker Bill Howell both won with over 90 percent of the vote.
• IA-Sen: Ordinarily, I'd be apt to dismiss a conservative radio host who wants to "get rid of the federal personal income tax and freeze federal spending" as more or less a Some Dude, especially for a statewide race. But given the poor shape of the Republican field that's come together for Iowa's open seat Senate race, I figure Sam Clovis merits a brief mention. Who knows? Maybe he has a big audience on the airwaves.
• MA-Sen: MassINC's new survey of the Massachusetts Senate race fits right in line with a large chunk of recent polling, putting Dem Rep. Ed Markey up 46-39 over Gabriel Gomez. That's also very similar to their poll from a month ago, which had Markey ahead 46-38. Assuming Markey does indeed have a 7- to 8-point lead, does Gomez really have a prayer of making up that gap in a blue state with just two weeks to go?
What's more, while Republicans have spent some $800,000 putting Gomez on the air, Democrats have more than responded in kind. The DSCC's initial TV buy, which reportedly was going to clock in at half a million bucks, wound up weighing in at $681,000, and apparently it's set to reach $750,000 all told, spread over the final fortnight. Even if the MA GOP coughs up some more scratch, Gomez would only be playing catch up. And when you're this far back with this little time left, that's not where you want to be.
• MI-Sen: GOP Rep. Mike Rogers says he'll announce his electoral plans for the coming cycle on Friday, though pretty much everything he's said and done so far indicates he will not seek Michigan's open Senate seat. And as Tim Alberta notes, if you're launching a campaign for statewide office, you don't typically do so at the very end of the week.
• MN-Sen: Republican state Sen. Julianne Ortman, who previously refused to answer questions about whether she was interested in running for Senate, now says she is "seriously considering" a bid against Sen. Al Franken. The only declared challenger to Franken so far is finance executive Mike McFadden.
• SD-Sen, -AL: Ah, bummer. Rep. Kristi Noem, who was almost certainly the most daunting potential opponent for ex-Gov. Mike Rounds in the GOP primary, will not run for Senate and will instead seek re-election. As they have in other states like West Virginia, conservatives have been casting about for someone who might prove to be a more suitable standard bearer for their causes; Rounds they despise as a "moderate." But with Noem saying no, the pickings get a lot slimmer.
Democrats would have benefited twice over had she made a go of it, since a nasty Republican primary might have improved our chances a bit in the general, and we'd also have had a shot at Noem's open House seat. Noem never sounded particularly eager to make any of that happen, though, and alas, it's not to be.
• IA-Gov: State Rep. Tyler Olson is stepping down as chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, a move that may be a prelude to a gubernatorial run, something Olson's reportedly been interested in for a while.
• IL-Gov: I guess Bill Daley really is moving ahead with his oft-talked about plans to run for governor, at least sort of. On Tuesday, Daley said he was creating an exploratory committee, though the description just beneath his welcome video says he's "announc[ing] his campaign," so I don't really understand what that whole "exploratory" distinction is supposed to mean. Polls have shown Daley, a former chief of staff to President Obama, in third place in a hypothetical Democratic primary with state AG Lisa Madigan and Gov. Pat Quinn.
Meanwhile, on the GOP, venture capitalist Bruce Rauner is making the most of his personal wealth, launching two new ads focused on taxes and unemployment. There's no word on the size of the buy, however.
• MA-Gov: UMass Amherst also included a number of different gubernatorial matchups with their new Senate poll, though most voters remain undecided, and several candidates they tested don't appear to be all that interested in running. Helpfully, though, they've compiled everything into a neat little table:
As far as the numbers go, I can't really say I understand why Brown does so much better against Grossman than Capuano, a finding not echoed by PPP last month. Ultimately, though, this is a very undefined race with only one declared candidate (unpolled Democrat Joseph Avellone), and it will likely be a while before the contest begins to take a clearer shape.
• PA-Gov: State Treasurer Rob McCord has gone ahead and created a gubernatorial campaign committee, a move that's somewhat unexpected since he said just last month he planned to make an official entry into this race this fall. Perhaps McCord regrets saying that "[s]omeone can afford to announce later if they're already taken seriously," given that Quinnipiac's new poll showed him in third place with just 4 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary.
• GA-01: State Rep. Jeff Chapman just joined the race for Georgia's open 1st Congressional District, making him the fifth Republican to do so. Chapman ran in the GOP primary for governor in 2010, taking a woeful 3 percent of the vote.
• MN-01: Republican state Sen. Jeremy Miller says he's considering a run against Rep. Tim Walz, and adds that he'll decide in the next two to three weeks. He did note, though, that he has a young child and is expecting twins this summer, so I'd have to imagine that augurs against making a bid. Archer Dem, though, offers some good insight on what a Miller candidacy might mean:
Miller, 30, first won his seat in the GOP wave of 2010, knocking off freshman DFL Senator Sharon Erickson-Ropes by about 400 votes. In 2012, he won by over 14 percent while Obama carried his district by over 10 points, Walz by almost 21 points, and [Sen. Amy] Klobuchar by 26 points. Miller is the son of the former mayor of Winona and is CFO of his family's scrap metal recycling company.I'd also add that Walz took a position as the director of the DCCC's Frontline program to help vulnerable incumbents. Presumably he feels pretty solid in his own seat, since you can't spend time protecting other districts if you haven't already protected your own.
[...] Miller is probably the strongest candidate the GOP could field but would still have a tough time beating Walz, who is becoming entrenched after hanging on by 5 points in 2010 against state Rep. Randy Demmer. This is a free shot for Miller, as his state Senate seat isn't up until 2016. He has got to realize how difficult this race will be and it could tarnish his rising star status if he were to lose badly.
• UT-04: In response to the NRCC's recent poll of UT-04, the DCCC has released its own in-house robopoll, finding Rep. Jim Matheson with a healthy 54-40 lead over Republican challenger Mia Love. The NRCC survey, from Harper Polling, had Matheson ahead just 44-41, but this detail from the Salt Lake Tribune just blew my mind:
That [topline] question came right after one where the pollster asked if respondents wanted "A Republican who will be a check and balance to President Obama or a Democratic candidate who will help President Obama to pass his agenda?"Wow! So not only is the NRCC uninterested in objective information but they're also trying to juice their own poll numbers and sell them as legitimate reads on the race to the media. I mean, it's one thing to use a junky, juiced poll like this for fundraising purposes. But to try to smear Matheson by tying him to Obama and then claim you're engaged in honest research is absolutely bogus. (Also hilarious: Matheson still held the lead!) Even more pathetic is Harper's willingness to get used in this manner. For a brand-new firm that set out with the ambitious goal of becoming the GOP's PPP, Harper sure has done an excellent job in failing at every turn.
Not surprisingly in conservative Utah, that 56 percent said they wanted a Republican check and balance and only 27 percent said a Democratic ally of the president.
• DCCC: Our very best wishes and sympathies go out to DCCC communications director Jesse Ferguson, who was just diagnosed with cancer at the age of 32. Ferguson is keeping people updated on his situation on his blog. Needless to say, here's hoping for a speedy recovery.
• Deaths: Former Republican Rep. Barbara Vucanovich, who was the first woman to represent Nevada in Congress, has died at the age of 91.
• TX Redistricting: When Gov. Rick Perry called a special session of the legislature late last month to work on redistricting, the general expectation was that he wanted lawmakers to ratify the interim maps a federal court in San Antonio authorized for last year's elections. From a GOP perspective, those maps were not perfect, but they were pretty good, and importantly, they carried a legal imprimatur. And in a recent op-ed, Perry did indeed confirm his desire to see those maps made permanent.
But as Texas Monthly's Paul Burka notes, there's a serious problem with Perry's argument. (Not really a surprise, though; this is Rick Perry we're talking about, after all.) In his op-ed, Perry claimed that the interim maps "corrected for every meaningful allegation of illegality," but the San Antonio court itself acknowledged that it was authorized "to order or to permit elections to be held pursuant to apportionment plans that do not in all respects measure up to the legal requirements, even constitutional requirements." In other words, it's not just plaintiffs who claim that the interim maps are flawed—even the judges themselves recognize their maps may not be up to snuff.
Burka then goes on to make a very astute observation:
If the Legislature attempts to proceed with ratification of the maps, I would think that minority groups and organizations would object. Further, they might pursue in court a claim that the attempt to re-ratify the maps could be regarded as additional evidence of intentional discrimination by the State—an effort to gain an advantage by making permanent the maps adopted by the Legislature, effectively legitimatizing fragmenting and other tactics used by the Legislature in the interim maps.Indeed, you have to wonder who is advising Perry. Publicly claiming that potentially infirm maps are in fact flawless does indeed see like further evidence of discrimination, as Burka suggests. That might be why there's now some talk that the legislature might tweak the lines to respond to some concerns that minority groups have, but as always, redistricting is a fast-moving target. What's more, Republicans are still in charge, and in a situation like this, they'll always try to do less than the law requires.