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Leading Off:

North Carolina: Here's a depressing read about how wealthy conservative kingpin Art Pope, now Gov. Pat McCrory's top cabinet official, has waged a decade-plus fight against public financing for judicial elections in North Carolina—a fight he just won, with the imminent passage of a new budget that raids the campaign fund for other purposes and cuts off its sources of revenue. Republican state Rep. Jonathan Jordan had proposed an amendment that would save public financing, but Pope directly involved himself in the legislative process and brought about the final coup de grâce for the program:

Soon after Jordan's amendment was filed the next day, the multimillionaire GOP donor and budget director for Republican Gov. Pat McCrory made a rare visit to the General Assembly and took Jordan aside. When the impromptu meeting with Pope ended, Jordan made an abrupt U-turn and dropped the amendment.
Jordan, as it turns out, owed his office to Pope, who funded his first campaign in 2010 with over $100,000, so he probably should have expected to get this offer he couldn't refuse, whatever it may have been. A sad day indeed for North Carolina.

Senate:

MA-Sen: Final pre-election fundraising reports in Massachusetts show exactly what you'd expect: Dem Rep. Ed Markey blew Republican businessman Gabriel Gomez out of the water. Between April 11 and June 5, Markey raised $3.1 million and, thanks to the considerable war chest he had coming into the race, spent $5.5 million. Gomez, meanwhile, took in $2.1 million and spent just $1.6 million. (Note that the reporting period includes the run-up to the April 30 primary, which was contested on both sides.) For the stretch run, Markey also far outstrips his opponent, with $2.3 million left to spend, versus just under $1 million for Gomez.

Meanwhile, Americans for Progressive Action, the confusingly named super PAC that's backing Gomez, has released two television ads. One tries to claim Markey is dissembling about Gomez's views on Medicare, the other attacks him for allegedly voting to have "the IRS enforce" healthcare reform (i.e., Obamacare). The production values for both spots are unimpressive. Markey also has a new ad of his own, featuring nothing but footage of President Obama's full-throated endorsement at a recent campaign rally.

Meanwhile, ex-Sen. Scott Brown, no doubt terribly burdened by his twin jobs as a FOX analyst and a lobbyist, says he'll help out Gomez "[i]f my schedule allows it." Heh.

MI-Sen: Rep. Mike Rogers, who seemed quite content in the House as chair of the Intelligence Committee, has unsurprisingly decided not to run for Michigan's open Senate seat. That leaves ex-SoS Terri Lynn Land as the top (and so far only) Republican in the race, though Rep. Justin Amash has yet to make up his mind. On the Democratic side, Rep. Gary Peters has his party's nomination all but sewn up.

MT-Sen: I usually don't give a fig about prognostications politicians make about one another. After all, they aren't in the prognostication business—we are! But when a guy who actually owns a farm says "I'd bet the farm," then I feel like I'm almost obligated by the laws of agronomy to pay attention. Here's organic farmer and United States Sen. Jon Tester, on ex-Gov. Brian Schweitzer (whom he says he hasn't spoke to in six months):

I don't bet the farm on many things, but I'd bet the farm he's running.
Democrats everywhere surely hope Tester wins that bet.

NJ-Sen: A New Jersey appeals court has rejected a challenge to Gov. Christie's decision to set an October date for the Senate special election necessitated by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, but the case may not be over. Plaintiffs, who want the special to be consolidated with the regular November election, say they will appeal, and the court's ruling (PDF) actually gives them some grounds on which to do so.

In their decision, the judges largely deferred to Christie's statutory authority to schedule the special when he pleases, but on p. 10-12, they noted that there may be serious problems with regard to how quickly voting machines can be redeployed from one election to the next. (There are only three weeks between the two.) The panel declined to override Christie's choice on the matter, saying it lacked evidence to do so, but if you read between the lines, the judges seem to be inviting the plaintiffs to file some relevant affidavits and try again, perhaps at the state Supreme Court—and that apparently is exactly what they're going to do.

SD-Sen: With Rep. Kristi Noem deciding against a Senate bid, Republican state Sen. Larry Rhoden says he's now considering one himself and will "decide within the next few weeks," according to the Rapid City Journal. While movement conservatives would love to prevent ex-Gov. Mike Rounds from winning the GOP primary, Rhoden would need a lot of outside help from the likes of the Club for Growth to have a shot at the nomination.

Gubernatorial:

MA-Gov: Former health insurance company exec and state government official Charlie Baker, who was the GOP's unsuccessful nominee for governor in 2010, says he'll decide "this summer" on a second attempt, according to the Lowell Sun.

ND-Gov: Though she won an extraordinarily improbable victory by less than 1 percent, and though she's only served in office less than half a year, Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp did not rule out a run for North Dakota governor. Here's her non-answer to a question on that very topic in a new interview, which she greeted with a laugh:

I'm just trying to—trying to be good at what I'm doing right here. It's been—it's been an honor to represent people in North Dakota, but it's a little culture shock for me in Washington D.C. and it's, it's a little different for me being in a legislative role. But I, I just am so honored to be here, and so honored, and, and actually thrilled to pass a farm bill. You know, you know that was actually a big campaign pledge. I'm hoping we're actually going to get a farm bill long term.
I guess politicians are usually wiser not to close any doors, and the governorship is not open until 2016, so a lot can change between then and now. If you want to read tea leaves, though, I suppose Heitkamp's line about D.C. being a "culture shock" might indicate a desire to return home, but then again, that's the kind of thing any smart elected official is going to say. In any event, it's a long way off, but this is just something to bear in mind.

VA-Gov: Democrat Terry McAuliffe just earned the endorsement of former Gov. Linwood Holton, the first Republican to serve as governor of Virginia since Reconstruction. Holton (who is 89 and served from 1970 to '74) has a history of supporting Democrats, though, including ex-Gov. Tim Kaine (who happens to be his son-in-law) and Barack Obama.

House:

ME-02: With Dem Rep. Mike Michaud gearing up for a gubernatorial run, interest in his House seat is going to be high on both sides. Democrats will feel good about the fact that Barack Obama carried this district by a 53-44 margin in 2012, but that puts it just within reach for today's Republican Party. Rural Maine also tends to embrace somewhat more conservative politicians, such as the Blue Dog Michaud, who has a very mixed record on abortion rights, for instance. It's worth noting, though, that this seat, rather remarkably, flipped from Republicans to Democrats in 1994, one of just four seats to do so during that wave year. (John Baldacci picked it up when Olympia Snowe successfully ran for Senate.)

So who might make a go of it? Last year, when Snowe retired and it appeared that Michaud might seek her Senate seat, a number of names surfaced and several people even started circulating petitions. (Michaud rather quickly chose to seek re-election.) Among that group were state Sen. Emily Cain (then in the state House), ex-state Sen. Bruce Bryant, and Secretary of State Matt Dunlap (who at the time was a former SoS—an appointed position in Maine that he regained after Democrats retook the legislature last year) for the Democrats, plus ex-state Sen. Debra Plowman (who was still serving at the time before running unsuccessfully for Senate) on the GOP side.

Roll Call's Emily Cahn offers several more possibilities. For Dems, she mentions assistant state House Majority Whip Jeff McCabe, state AG Janet Mills, state Sen. Troy Jackson, and attorney Joe Baldacci, brother of John. For Republicans, she lists state Sen. Garrett Mason, state House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, assistant state House Minority Leader Alex Willette, ex-state Rep. Josh Tardy (a former minority leader), ex-state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, and 2012 nominee Kevin Raye. For what it's worth, Michaud defeated Raye 58-42.

MN-01: That was quick. Just days after saying he was considering a challenge to Rep. Tim Walz, Republican state Sen. Jeremy Miller has decided against it. Miller likely would have been the GOP's strongest contender, but now it's back to the drawing board—and Walz may once again find himself without a top-tier opponent, just as he did last year.

Grab Bag:

Ask Me Anything: You may have seen Daily Kos's new "Ask Me Anything" feature, where a different member of the staff here takes questions from the community each week. Last week, it was my turn, and I got a lot of great questions about the 2014 elections, babka, and my favorite whacky race of all time. (Click through to find out!) If you missed a chance to stop by, I'll have another go at some point in the next few months, though you have the opportunity to pester a different one of my Daily Kos colleagues every Friday at 3:30 PM ET.

Site News: Thanks to Daily Kos tech guru Jason Libsch, who graciously showed up in my "Ask Me Anything" thread, there's a solution to the new comment count problem that's vexed many DK Electioneers for some time. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can just skip this item.) If you navigate to www.dailykos.com/blog/elections instead of elections.dailykos.com, you'll get a proper count of how many total unread comments there are in each thread.

And in even better news, the tech team is currently working on a solution that will automatically redirect all users from the latter URL to the former, though you'll still be able to use the simpler URL to get to the site. Huzzah! (Note that this does not solve a related issue, the appearance of [new] flags on individual comments, which can be affected if you browse the site from multiple devices. A more intensive, longer-term fix for that problem is in the works.)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by North Carolina BLUE and Daily Kos.

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