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9:01 AM PT (Darth Jeff): ME-Gov: Paul LePage has found an interesting way to handle bad press: blacklist entire newspapers. After enduring several negative stories about his environmental protection commissioner’s decision to help out old industry clients even at the expense of well… protecting the environment, LePage has had enough. Three local papers, the Portland Press Herald, the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel, will no longer have any comments from the LePage administration in their stories. This is a pretty drastic move: Republicans love to whine about the mainstream media but it’s pretty rare that they’ll ever go so far as LePage just did.  

Is this move just another instance of LePage being LePage, or could this actually do him some real additional harm?  Brad Phillips of the Mr. Media Training blog has an interesting take arguing that LePage could suffer for this. Phillips writes that by denying these three papers his side of the story, LePage will ensure that he will inevitably always be portrayed as the bad guy in any controversies; by contrast, his foes will be able to get their arguments in without the LePage administration there to defend itself. Of course, the outspoken LePage seems to have no problem attracting bad press no matter what: he recently said that a Democratic state Senator, “claims to be for the people but he's the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline." Ick.      

9:27 AM PT (Darth Jeff): MA-Sen: Hey, he’s down in every single poll including his own, but Gabriel Gomez’s campaign wants you to know he’s on a roll. Team Gomez announced they’ve received a surge of donations since Tuesday’s debate, allowing them to spend an extra $300,000 on an ad asking voters to let Gomez serve for the rest of John Kerry’s term: if at the end of this seventeen-month home trial voters still aren’t satisfied with their new Republican, they can exchange him for a Democrat absolutely free of charge!  

Doesn’t look like the Bay State plans to take them up on the offer though. The Emerson College Polling Society reports Democrat Ed Markey has a 51-41 lead. There’s good reason to be a bit skeptical of this group: back in May Steven Shepard of the National Journal profiled them and pointed out that unlike colleges with professional polling firms like Quinnipiac and Marist, this it really is just a student club made up of college kids doing a poll (albeit with the help of a Republican political consultant). But this result fits with most other polls showing Gomez stuck in the low 40s while Markey looks like he’s close to the magic 50% line if he hasn’t already passed it. Unless Gomez finds a way to register his new $300,000 donations to vote, it looks like the writing’s on the wall here.  

10:03 AM PT (Darth Jeff): Boston-Mayor: We finally have a poll of the wide-open mayoral race in Beantown, the first since 1983. David Bernstein of Boston Magazine got his hands on an internal poll for city Councilor John Connolly, a poll the Connolly camp apparently did not leak to Bernstein. It finds Connolly first at 16%, with fellow Councilor Felix Arroyo close behind at 10% and Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley at 8%. State Representative Marty Walsh, Councilor Charles Yancey, and former state legislator and senior YouthBuild USA official Charlotte Golar-Richie each have 6%; Councilors Rob Consalvo and Mike Ross are at 5%, community activist Bill Walczak has 3%, and former School Committee member John Barros has 1%. A plurality of 34% is undecided.

Golar-Richie did get some good news this week: she has the endorsement of EMILY’S LIST, no surprise since she’s the only woman running. If you’re looking for a good way to keep track of who’s-who in this very crowded field, Boston.com has a very useful page with information about all the candidates. I expect to be referring to it a lot, at least until the September 24th primary narrows the race down to two contenders.  

10:15 AM PT (Xenocrypt): NYC-Mayor: Yesterday, Bill Thompson was endorsed by the United Federation of Teachers, but as WNYC and others have noted, labor groups don't seem to be coalescing around a single candidate.  The 1199 SEIU (the city's largest) went for de Blasio, and DC 37 endorsed Liu.  All three have over 150,000 members.

Interesting side note: de Blasio and Quinn were also rivals in 2006 , in the "race" for City Council Speaker.  That article, like others,  credits Quinn's victory to her cultivation of County bosses, chiefly Queens then-boss Tom Manton (the mentor of Joseph Crowley), as well as de Blasio's failure to counteract with labor groups.

10:36 AM PT (Darth Jeff): ME-Gov, ME-02: Most Governors wouldn't openly contemplate running for the House but as we saw at the beginning of the day, Paul LePage ain't most governors. Facing a stiff challenge from Democratic Congressman Mike Michaud, Paul LePage may be thinking if you can’t beat em’, succeed em’: he has announced he may run for Michaud's second Congressional District, a move that seemed to come out of nowhere even to his own campaign staff, who have been gearing up for reelection.  

There's a lot of questions this move brings, starting with would LePage's chances be better in ME-02 or running for reelection? On the one hand, the second district is more conservative than the state as a whole: Obama won Maine 56%-41%, but only carried the district 53%-44%. On the other, LePage likely won’t be able to count on a strong third party candidate to save him. If he runs for reelection there’s a decent chance independent Eliot Cutler and the Democratic candidate will split the considerable anti-LePage vote, allowing the very controversial governor to slip by with a plurality. Back in January, PPP found LePage’s approval at a dire 39%-55%, but led Michaud and Cutler 34% to 30% and 26% respectively. Maine is particularly friendly to independent candidates so there’s a decent chance someone would emerge in ME-02 a take a considerable amount of votes.  However, without a particularly strong independent candidate like Cutler on the ballot (Cutler lost by only 2% to LePage in 2010, with the Democratic nominee Libby Mitchell in a distant third), the unpopular and controversial LePage may not fare incredibly well in the still Democratic-leaning district.  

There’s also the question of whether a different Republican nominee for Governor may be able to do better than LePage, especially with Cutler and Michaud both on the ballot.  This is a strange development from a very strange Governor and very worth keeping an eye on.  (H/T to JohnnyBoston in the comments for spotting this).  

10:53 AM PT (Stephen Wolf): GA-Sen: State Republican Party committee leaders are planning a vote this weekend on whether or not to study switching to the Virginia style nominating system. The GOP in that state determines each cycle whether or not to nominate their candidates by primary or convention and this year they chose a convention. The motivation behind this is from several party activists who feel like they're being slighted and drowned out by the "power of Big Money and Big Media" and by others who believe the current primary for 2014 senate to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss is a pointless race to the right.

However as we saw this year in Virginia, the convention was an utter disaster and essentially gifted the Lieutenant Governor's office to the Democrats when party activists nominated some dude grifter preacher E. W. Jackson who has an extensive and well documented history of making extreme and inflammatory comments such as claiming the welfare state has done more to oppress blacks than slavery (ironically Jackson is black).

So in Georgia, where Democrats are praying that the Michele Bachmann-esque Rep. Paul Broun wins the nomination, a convention is a double edged sword. It is possible that the establishment's preferred candidates, Rep. Jack Kingston or former SoS Karen Handel, could avoid getting bloodied up and having to race to the right in a primary which would almost certainly go to a runoff. But there's a strong possibility that party activists, many of whom are likely more conservative than the open primary electorate, decide to nominate a candidate like Broun and repeat the folly that the Virginia convention did.

Regardless, Sunday's vote won't actually implement the change but just rather to consider it. There are vocal detractors of the plan such as House Speaker David Ralston, but if this vote passes it would be a good indicator of a future plan to go ahead an implement the Virginia system.

11:55 AM PT (Stephen Wolf): WI-Gov National Journal is out with their take on Scott Walker's reelection prospects and 2016 Republican nomination prospects. I'm inclined to agree with them on both counts. Here's the short of it: the recall put Walker in a stronger position for reelection as voters rejected the notion of the recall itself despite his own tepid approval rating at the time and it allowed Walker to exercise his fundraising chops and improve his public image after outspending Barrett by a massive margin. It also has deterred stronger Democrats such as Ron Kind or Tom Nelson from running against him in 2014 and after three comfortable elections in a light blue state, but with many conservative legislative accomplishments to tout on both fiscal related issues endearing to the Koch's of the world, and social issues backed by the religious right, Walker's record and money will make him a strong candidate for the 2016 nomination. This is despite his current anonymity in public polling in 2016 primary match ups, but at this point in 2005 it looked like we'd see a Hillary-Giuliani showdown which obviously never happened.

11:56 AM PT (Darth Jeff): MA-Sen, Dark Money: For the most part, Republican leaning-third party groups have ceded the airways to Democratic aligned organizations with one exception. The oddly named Americans for Progressive Action has spent over $1.2 million to help out Gomez in his time of need. The Wall Street Journal profiles John Jordan, the California winery chief executive and Republican donor who’s bankrolled the effort.

Interestingly, Jordan claims he’s a centrist who’s grown disillusioned with the GOP’s far right stances on social issues. Jordan also claims to have never met Gomez and was motivated to help him after seeing the unanswered Democratic attacks. There’s some other interesting stuff on Jordan, who seems to have a difficult time working with competent pollsters. Jordan's close to conservative laughing stock Dick Morris, worked and financed a February poll of Latino immigrants that is said to have had some serious methodology problems, and his Super PAC hired McLaughlin, a firm we’ve torn into pretty hard here for being… terrible. It’s a good reminder that just because dark money groups like this are well funded, they're often run by people who don't really know what they're doing.    

12:05 PM PT (Stephen Wolf): NJ-Gov: Chris Christie Hypocrisy Alert! Christie last month vetoed a Democratic backed bill that would have provided for the state to hold in person early voting for two weeks prior to general elections and Dems recently failed to override it on a party line vote. Here's Christie when he vetoed it in May:

"Taxpayers should not have to foot a more than $25 million bill to pay for a hasty, counterproductive, and less reliable system, especially when New Jersey’s current early voting process is reliable and cost effective," Christie said in his May 9 veto message.
And here's Christie on the scheduling of the US Senate special election separate from the November general so that Democratic turnout would be lower in the latter:
"I don’t know what the cost is, and I quite frankly don’t care," Christie said
Guess what the estimated cost is for both the early voting and separately scheduled senate election? That's right, it's the same: $24 million.

12:21 PM PT (Stephen Wolf): UT-04/UT-Gov: Georgia isn't the only state where party leaders will debate nominating conventions, but in Utah this time it's Democrats who are considering altering or abolishing their convention system. In Utah, candidates who receive more than 60% of delegate votes at the nominating convention automatically go forward, while anything less than that triggers a primary. Tossing the convention could be a boon to incumbent conservative Democratic House Rep. Jim Matheson, who had a 2010 convention scare from a liberal challenger after voting against the Affordable Care Act as more liberal activists make up a larger share of convention goers than primary voters. Fortunately for Matheson and Democratic prospects of holding his deeply conservative district, he won the subsequent primary in a landslide that year and went on to hold the seat by just 5% while eking out a narrower win just last year due to gerrymandering and Romney's coattails. Should Matheson eventually run statewide as has been frequently talked up in the past, a primary would almost certainly be easier to win than a statewide convention due to his immense personal popularity among voters. The downside of course impacts state legislative candidates more, who of course would have to spend money on primaries that otherwise might have been avoided via the convention. Democratic delegates will decide on the measure on Saturday.

12:25 PM PT (Darth Jeff): MI-Gov: Following the GOP-led Michigan Senate’s decision to adjourn without a vote on Medicaid expansion, former Democratic Congressman and Gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer is hitting incumbent Republican Rick Snyder over it. Both Snyder and the Republican-controlled House support the expansion, but the Senate leadership’s refusal to pass the bill has stopped it dead for now. Schauer is calling on Snyder to stand up to the Senate and criticizing him for lack of leadership. It’s a good bet Medicaid expansion is quite popular in Michigan, and Schauer wants to make sure Snyder pays for its failure to pass. For his part the governor seems to recognize the political and policy pitfalls of failure, calling on voters to tell the Senate to return.  

Interestingly, Schauer is telling his opponent to be like Arizona Republican Jan Brewer, and veto "every new bill that comes to his desk starting today until the Senate passes this critical legislation." Seriously, a few months ago who would have ever thought a Democrat would ever call on someone to be like Jan Brewer?!  

12:48 PM PT (Darth Jeff): CA-Gov: Outgoing Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa plans to run for Governor… someday. Villaraigosa has never been subtle about his interest in the office but passed in 2010. The mayor might be out of elected office but he’s keeping his name in contention, stating pretty unequivocally, “I want to run for governor. In fact, I fully expect that I will." Unless Brown surprises everyone and calls it quits next year, Villaraigosa won’t have a shot until 2018 in what is very likely to be a crowded race.      

12:55 PM PT (Stephen Wolf): CT-Gov/CT-Leg: On Wednesday Governor Malloy signed a bill backed by Democrats in the legislature on a party line vote that made significant changes to campaign finance regulations in the state. This new law will enable state party committees to spend unlimited amounts on state legislative races and presumably the governors race where Malloy, hampered by the spending restrictions imposed by his use of the state's public financing system, was restricted in being able to respond to late spending by his opponent when he eked out a narrow win in 2010. The law also essentially allows coordination between candidates and Super PACs so long as those third party groups haven't publicly announced their support of the candidate. Additionally, the new law requires greater public disclosure of donors to third party groups. As a whole, the law was opposed by the state Republican party as well as good government groups such as the League of Women Voters and Common Cause.

1:25 PM PT (Darth Jeff): Detroit-Mayor: Stop me if you’ve heard this story before: a frontrunner for Mayor of one of the major Midwestern cities was thrown off the ballot after his residency was questioned. However, while Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel was able to convince a higher court to allow him back in the race and went on to win the whole thing, Detroit’s Mike Duggan isn’t so lucky. Duggan, the former Detroit Medical Center CEO whom polls showed as one of the two frontrunners, was found by the Wayne County Circuit Court to not have met the one-year residency requirement to run for Mayor. Duggan, who would have been the city’s first white mayor since the 1970s had he won, saw his appeal rejected by the Michigan State Court of Appeals and chose not to proceed to the state Supreme Court.    

This decision is a huge boon to Wayne County Sherriff Benny Napoleon, whom polls had shown in a tight race with Duggan. Napoleon doesn’t have the field to himself by a long shot: there are thirteen other candidates including former state Rep. Lisa Howze, state Rep. Fred Durhal Jr., and former city attorney Krystal Crittendon. Polls had shown all the candidates but Duggan and Napoleon as afterthoughts, but it’s unclear where Duggan’s support will go. The primary is August 6, with the top two vote getter advancing to the November 5th general, giving the other candidates time to establish themselves. Still, it’s hard to see Napoleon as anything other than the clear frontrunner to be the next mayor of the Motor City.  

2:36 PM PT (James Allen): US House: "Dems are poised to make net gains in the House!" is what you might believe if you take Democracy Corps' newest Congressional Battleground poll at face value, but we're skeptical. It is composed of 750 respondents in 49 Republican-held districts, and 500 respondents in 31 Dem-held districts, averaging only 15-16 respondents in each district. Its perhaps a bit more helpful than a national generic ballot test, but infinitely less useful than polls of each of those districts individually would be. It is obvious from the way Democracy Corps describes some of the overall results as being thrown off by a few districts where the results were very lopsided.

Still, its tempting to read for those of us obsessed with polling, which is nearly all of us. They say despite polling a universe of 2010 voters, Democrats are doing well and have room for growth, particularly among seniors. In the most competitive two dozen Republican districts, for example, they find the incumbents ahead only 43-42%, the Democratic Party more popular than the Republican Party, and more support for working with Obama to improve Obamacare than support for repealing it.

There's a lot of little data points in the memo, but no overall topline, so if you're interested take a look.

3:14 PM PT (Darth Jeff): Maps: Everyone excited about this Tuesday’s special election in Land at the Little Big Hills? Personally, I think Ed Markey will be fine as long as turnout in St. Heraldwolf’s Stone is decent and we do well in places like Winding River Fort.  

What am I talking about? I’m referring to this awesome literal meaning map of places in the United States. Cartographers Stephan Hormes and Silke Peust have gone through and identified the states, capitols, major cities, and other geographic features by their literal meanings. For instance, it’s pretty well known that Virginia is named for Queen Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen (translated to “Virgin’s Land”). But did you know California, means “Land of the Successor”, while San Jose (where Netroots Nation is taking place) turns out to mean St. Addgod? As a native of the St. Little Bay Area, I didn’t!  Also amusing: Springfield just means Springfield.

One potential caveat: Oregon native James Allen tells me there’s no consensus what his state’s name means, putting some doubt onto the map’s claim it is called Beautiful Land. Overall though this is an excellent resource, and something I plan to refer to a lot as I pass the long hot summer days down south here in The New Golden One, Land of the Famous Warrior.  


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