• WY-Sen: After making noise about a possible bid for Senate for over a year, FOX News commentator Liz Cheney has decided to forge ahead with a challenge to Sen. Mike Enzi in next year's GOP primary—just hours after Enzi himself finally said he'd seek re-election. Aside from the fact that Enzi's not a fire-breathing hater, there's been no explanation as to why Cheney's so unhappy with his record that she thinks he's worth unseating, and indeed, her ambition has apparently already cheesed off a few members of Wyoming's political establishment.
Of course, Democrats have no hope here regardless of what transpires in the primary, but more broadly speaking, this is still good news for Team Blue. Thanks to her (in)famous father, Cheney will hoover up a great deal of media attention, making it just a bit harder for lesser Republican lights to get any oxygen. More importantly, she'll be able to raise lots of money, and she'll force Enzi to do the same—funds that now won't be spent elsewhere, defeating Democrats.
Enzi could, however, still retire; in his "announcement" on Tuesday, he said that he'd only formally launch his campaign at a vague "later date," in the AP's phrasing. But even if he hangs it up, Cheney probably won't have a free shot, as Rep. Cynthia Lummis has said she'll run if Enzi does not. That means it's cat fud all the way down.
• AR-Sen: Rep. Tom Cotton (R): $611K raised, $1 mil cash-on-hand (Cotton is still weighing the race)
• IA-Sen: State Sen. Joni Ernst will formally kick off her Senate campaign on Wednesday, joining a crowded Republican field for Iowa's open seat. Already in the race are former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker, former Chuck Grassley chief of staff David Young, and radio host Sam Clovis, with former energy industry executive Mark Jacobs also still weighing the race. Rep. Bruce Braley is the only Democrat running.
• ME-Sen: Republican Sen. Susan Collins has now indicated that she doesn't have her sights set on the Department of Homeland Security, which is in need of a new chief with Janet Napolitano stepping down. But Collins is definitely leaving some wiggle room, so you should judge her words for yourself:
The White House has not contacted me, I do not expect to be contacted by the White House and I am very happy being senator from Maine and I'm fully committed to seeking reelection.And she followed that up by saying: "I'm not in the practice of turning down jobs that nobody has offered," so I wouldn't rule anything out just yet.
• MT-Sen: Another top Democrat is saying no to a Senate bid in Montana. Following on the heels of ex-Gov. Brian Schweitzer's decision to sit the race out, state Auditor Monica Lindeen just announced that she won't run for the seat being left open by Max Baucus's retirement.
• NJ-Sen: Meh. Another boring poll of the Democratic primary, this one from Monmouth (PDF). As per usual, Newark Mayor Cory Booker is right around the 50 percent mark (in this case, 49), while his nearest competitor barely makes it into the double digits.
• KY-Gov: Third-term GOP Rep. Brett Guthrie says he won't run for statewide office in 2015, including governor, and will instead focus on his re-election next year. While Guthrie's 2nd District is safely red at 63-35 Romney, he did just earn a challenge from retired Army Major Ron Leach, so he will actually have to run a campaign this cycle.
• ME-Gov: Republican Gov. Paul LePage has finally released his fundraising numbers, and man do they suck. In the first six months of the year, LePage reported taking in just $123,000, compared to $430,000 in five months for independent Eliot Cutler, and $314,000 for Dem Rep. Mike Michaud in under three weeks. Ugly.
• NC-Gov: That didn't take long. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who was first elected in November, has seen his job approval rating head underwater for the first time in PPP's polling. He's now at an ugly 40-49, a sharp drop from his 45-39 rating just a month ago. Tom Jensen ascribes this drop to the radical agenda being advanced by the legislature (which also has poor ratings), and which McCrory's been signing on to. This includes legislation restricting abortion access and curtailing unemployment benefits, among other things.
And here's a remarkable statistic: Democrats have a 51-42 lead on the generic legislative ballot, which is the largest edge PPP has found for the party, ever. Unfortunately, given the GOP's devlish gerrymander, even a whomping like that might not be enough to put the legislature back in Democratic hands. But numbers like these can only boost Sen. Kay Hagan's chances of re-election next year.
• NE-Gov: State Sen. Tom Carlson has entered the Nebraska's open-seat contest for governor, joining fellow state Sen. Charlie Janssen in the GOP primary. Former University of Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook is in the race for Democrats, though other candidates are likely to jump in.
• VA-Gov: Hmm. PPP said on Monday that GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell's severe ethics woes had "become a liability for Republican candidates" and that their new horserace poll numbers would "confirm" McDonnell's albatross effect. I'm not seeing it, though. Democrat Terry McAuliffe leads Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the governor's race by a 41-37 margin, which is all but unchanged compared to his 42-37 lead in May. (Libertarian Robert Sarvis, test for the first time, takes an improbably high 7 percent, but he's drawing from the considerable pool of undecideds.)
Further downballot, Democrat Ralph Northam has a decent 42-35 lead over Republican E.W. Jackson for lieutenant governor, but you have to chalk that up to Jackson's notorious mouth and early negative favorability rating (15-28). Margin-wise, though, that's no different from Northam's 35-29 advantage last time. And in the attorney general's race, Democrat Mark Herring has just a 38-36 edge over Republican Mark Obenshain. Since the two candidates have similar levels of name recognition, it's hard to see McDonnell's negatives at work here, and again, Herring's spread has barely budged since his 33-32 lead in May.
PPP also asked about the generic legislative ballot, where they find Dems ahead 46-42, perhaps presaging a few pickups in the state House this fall. I don't think PPP included the generic ballot in May, but back in January, Democrats were on top 45-41, so again, no real change. McDonnell's travails could very well wind up hurting his own party, but it doesn't seem like we have much evidence of that yet.
But let's not forget that Cuccinelli has his own lengthy set of issues with Star Scientific, the company whose largesse has brought McDonnell so low. The New York Times gives Cuccinelli's relationship with Star and its CEO, Jonnie Williams, heavy-duty treatment in a new piece that focuses on profits Cuccinelli made from trading Star's stock. The paper notes that on at least two occasions, Cuccinelli's "buying and selling was closely timed to vacations he and his family enjoyed as guests of Mr. Williams." (Cuccinelli of course denies ever talking to Williams about the trades.)
Cuccinelli's also the subject of a new attack ad from the Virginia Democratic Party. The spot features a senior citizen who describes her reliance on Social Security and Medicare, then attacks Cuccinelli over a book he wrote in which he "questions" whether the programs should exist. Presumably this is airing as part of the VA Dems' recent $275,000 buy, which was actually funded by a McAuliffe cash infusion.
• CA-15: I've been more than a little perplexed by state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett. Last cycle, it seemed like she was interested in running for California's 15th District, but only if fellow Democratic Rep. Pete Stark retired. (Ro Khanna seemed to be in the same boat.) Of course, that didn't happen, and instead Stark was turned out by another Democrat, Eric Swalwell. Unlike Khanna, Corbett has apparently kept her sights on the 15th, and the San Francisco Chronicle's Carla Marinucci says that Corbett's "declared herself a candidate."
But it's not quite clear to me that she truly has. Corbett's website is just a splash screen (with an odd footer that reads "Computer Generated / Labor Donated"), and her fundraising can't even charitably be called anemic. She took in just $12,000 in the second quarter and has $115,000 on hand, compared to $238,000 for Swalwell, who has $405,000 in the bank and has also sewn up establishment backing from the likes of Nancy Pelosi. If Corbett really wants to try knocking off Swalwell, what is she waiting for?
• CA-31: Fundraising in California's 31st, home to a wide-open Democratic nominating battle and an extremely vulnerable Republican incumbent, is turning out to be surprisingly weak, with one exception. Ex-Rep. Joe Baca, whose campaign has been filled with stumbles, took in a joke-level $38,000 and has a paltry $27,000 on hand. Meanwhile, attorney Eloise Reyes, who previously claimed to have raised $200,000, only raised half that amount; the rest was from a personal loan, leaving her with $194,000 in the bank. Among Democrats, only 2012 candidate Pete Aguilar raised a decent sum, $302,000, and he leads with $290,000 in cash. Republican Rep. Gary Miller, meanwhile, trailed with just $232,000 in receipts, though he has the largest war chest, at $575,000.
• CA-52: Assuming former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio doesn't find himself unexpectedly running for mayor again soon, he may have a bit of a challenge on his right flank in next year's congressional primary. Former Marine Corps intelligence officer Kirk Jorgensen announced his entry into the race earlier this month, and in the final two weeks of the quarter, he pulled in a very impressive $119,000. For the most part, Jorgensen has been quiet about his views, though he did describe himself as a "fiscal conservative," which is a bit more traditional than DeMaio's focus-grouped "new generation Republican" label.
DeMaio did tremendously well on the fundraising front himself, taking in a huge $484,000. But true believers usually have the edge when squaring off against "moderates" in GOP nomination battles, so DeMaio will need to maintain that cash advantage if Jorgensen does indeed run to his right. Either way, Dem Rep. Scott Peters certainly wouldn't complain if Jorgensen and DeMaio drained one another's coffers.
• OH-07/16: Democratic ex-Rep. John Boccieri, who had been vaguely mooting a comeback bid in either Ohio's 7th or 16th Congressional District but sounded unenthused about running for office again in general, has apparently shut the door on the idea altogether. At the end of June, he filed a termination report with the FEC, permanently shutting down his campaign account. Of course, Boccieri could very easily re-open a new one at any time, but this isn't the kind of thing you do if you're raring to get back in the game.
• NYC Comptroller: Even though Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has said he wouldn't seek to invalidate ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer's petitions, it looks like a challenge is coming anyway. Republican operative E. O'Brien Murray, who managed Bob Turner's successful special election bid for Anthony Weiner's old seat, filed an objection to Spitzer's signatures ahead of Monday night's deadline. Murray now has to file more detailed claims by next week, at which point the Board of Elections may initiate a more thorough review.
• SD Mayor: Man. I can't say "this is really getting bad" for San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, because it already was bad. So I guess... it's getting even worse.
• Fundraising: Feast your eyes: It's time for the Daily Kos Elections second quarter House fundraising reports roundup. We've collected FEC data for the April 1 through June 30 reporting period for 221 candidates in 129 different districts, featuring every competitive race (whether in the general or primary) and all open seats. Of course, it's still very early. Many more candidates will get in, and plenty of these contests won't pan out. But for now, these numbers offer us a good read on who is serious about running for the House—or staying in it.