• VA-AG: With a now-official lead of 164 votes following a Tuesday deadline for localities to canvass their results and submit them to the State Board of Elections, Democrat Mark Herring declared victory over Republican Mark Obenshain in the Virginia attorney general's race. (Obenshain, of course, did not concede.) The board now has until Nov. 25 to certify the results, after which the trailing candidate will have the opportunity to request a recount, assuming the margin remains within 1 percent (which it assuredly will).
As Rick Hasen says, Obenshain would be "crazy" not to pursue a recount should he remain behind, and he thinks that Republicans may be trying to lay the groundwork for an equal protection argument under Bush v. Gore regarding the uniformity of ballot counting. It could be a while before we get that far, though. In a similarly close AG race in 2005, the recount didn't begin until Dec. 20, though it only took three days to complete. (This year's could take longer, as a new law requires a more extensive manual review of ballots.)
That earlier recount, though, only altered the net margin by 37 votes (in favor of the eventual winner, Republican Bob McDonnell, who prevailed by 360 votes), so Obenshain would need a bigger shift than that to change the outcome. But such a shift could happen on Nov. 25, as Obenshain noted at a Wednesday press conference that the state board's review that year "resulted in a 123-vote net change." Add those two figures together and you get 160 votes—yow, that's tight.
• AR-Sen: Dem Sen. Mark Pryor is hoping to steer the conversation away from Obamacare with a new ad attacking GOP Rep. Tom Cotton for supporting cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Will it work, in this environment? Maybe if the exchanges start working soon and if Congress finds a way to deal with the cancellation of insurance plans. If not, though, I think Pryor will be hard-pressed to make the race about entitlements rather than Obamacare.
• NE-Sen: Aaron Blake has a good piece demonstrating that the chief exponent of conservative purity, the Club for Growth, doesn't always pick candidates who are especially pure. The latest example is Midland University President Ben Sasse, who just earned the Club's endorsement but was a major supporter of Medicare's Part D prescription drug coverage expansion a decade ago. The Club, as Blake points out, called the law "an abomination."
But now Sasse claims he opposes Part D, and the Club seems content that he'll be their paisan going forward. However, as we noted the other day, FreedomWorks just got behind former state Treasurer Shane Osborn, so perhaps Sasse's apostasies were too much for them.
• WY-Sen: Good times: Sen. Mike Enzi is trotting out an internal poll from the Wickers Group showing him with a soul-crushing 69-17 lead over Liz Cheney in the GOP primary—and that's apparently up from a 61-21 Enzi advantage in previously unreleased August survey. But Cheney's campaign was quick to point out that the same firm (then known as Dresner Wickers Barber Sanders) released an utterly off-base poll of the Texas Senate GOP primary in 2012 that showed David Dewhurst beating Ted Cruz 51-16; Dewhurst prevailed 45-34 in the first round, only to lose the runoff 57-43.
• GA-Gov: Last month, local analyst Jim Galloway reported that Democrats had conducted a poll to try to lure state Sen. Jason Carter into the race against Gov. Nathan Deal, a move that ultimately worked. Now someone has shared that poll, conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove for the DGA and the Georgia Democratic Party, with Politico, and it shows Deal with a relatively soft 44-36 edge on Carter. That's still a long road to 50 for the challenger, but as you know, 44 isn't a great place for an incumbent to be. PPP also found Deal in the same spot in a survey taken around the same time as ALG's, where he led 44-40.
• IL-Gov: We've already mentioned Paul Vallas, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn's bizarre replacement choice as his running-mate for lieutenant governor. Vallas is an education "reformer" whose selection has infuriated teachers unions and the black political establishment alike. But really, you should listen to Vallas in his own words. From an interview just four years ago:
VALLAS: "I would take a Republican primary ballot."And this guy actually ran for governor as a Democrat in 2002, believe it or not.
BERKOWITZ: "Do you think of yourself as a Republican?"
VALLAS: "I'm more of a Republican than a Democrat."
BERKOWITZ: "If you run again for office you'd be running as a Republican?"
VALLAS: "I would, yes, yes."
• FL-13: Safety Harbor Mayor Joe Ayoub has decided not to run in the special election to replace the late Rep. Bill Young, but he also made sure to diss the sole GOP candidate in the race, David Jolly, saying: "I don't think it makes sense to send a lobbyist to Washington to fix things." Ayoub instead wants state Rep. Kathleen Peters to run for the GOP and says he thinks she will, but she hasn't announced her plans yet.
• LA-05: In Saturday's special election runoff to replace ex-Rep. Rodney Alexander, you have two Republicans running: One is state Sen. Neil Riser, the overwhelming establishment choice; the other is Vance McAllister, who fits the mold of semi-anonymous self-funding businessman—and in a race like this, you'd expect him to be the outsider tea party type. But McAllister is actually running well to Riser's left on Obamacare, saying he favors Medicaid expansion and a ban on insurers denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
Of course, McAllister claims he still supports repealing the Affordable Care Act (just as Riser does), but there may actually be a method to this seeming madness. As Politico's Alex Isenstadt notes, members of all parties can vote in the runoff, so even though the 5th is a heavily Republican district, McAllister is probably hoping to reach out to Democrats with his softer stance on healthcare reform. It's definitely a longshot strategy, but it makes sense for McAllister to take a risk, since Riser won the first round of voting by a fairly wide 32-18 margin.
McAllister's also getting a little bit of help from "Duck Dynasty" star Willie Robertson, who cut a last-minute ad in which he exhorts voters to come out for McAllister. (Robertson, you may recall, was briefly courted to run here himself.)
• NJ State Assembly: Some positive developments for Democrats in the ongoing vote count in New Jersey. In the super-tight race in the 38th Assembly District, incumbent Dem Tim Eustace has taken the lead from Republican challenger Joseph Scarpa, just as Democrats predicted. At the moment, Eustace is up 49 votes, but Scarpa says he'll "most likely" seek a recount.
Meanwhile, in the 2nd Assembly District, Republican incumbent John Amodeo's lead over Democratic challenger Vincent Mazzeo was cut to just 74 votes, from 379 on election night. Mazzeo still has a shot at overtaking Amodeo because some heavily Democratic areas were yet to be recanvassed. (That was set for Wednesday.) If Democrats manage a victory here, that would offset the lone GOP pickup in the 1st District, where Assemblyman Nelson Albano (who had some serious personal issues) was narrowly defeated.
• PA State Senate: The Democratic climb to retake the Pennsylvania state Senate (currently GOP controlled, 27-23) just got a lot steeper, though in an expected way: Democratic state Sen. Jim Ferlo is retiring next year. That will likely lead to a GOP pickup, in a convoluted way, thanks to how the state's population mass has shifted east over the last decade.
The strongly liberal Ferlo, who previously represented the northern part of Pittsburgh, got mashed together in redistricting with Republican state Sen. Randy Vulakovich in a more suburban version of SD-38 that went for Mitt Romney by 6 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, a whole new seat centered in Monroe County in the state's rural northeast popped up, and is likely to go to GOP state Rep. Mario Scavello.
If you're wondering about the bigger picture in the Senate, PoliticsPA has a helpful overview. The loss of Ferlo might be counterbalanced by a possible pickup in a GOP-held seat in Dem-leaning Delaware County, opened up by Ted Erickson's retirement. Even if the party poaches Erickson's seat, though, it still means that Democrats would need two more pickups to take charge of the chamber (if they control the lieutenant governor's post, too, after 2014). There are three more possibilities in the SE PA suburbs, but also a tough defense for state Sen. Rich Kasunic in SW PA's Fayette County. (David Jarman)
• Tulsa Mayor: Tuesday's non-partisan general election in Oklahoma's second-largest city pitted Republican incumbent Dewy Bartlett against Democrat Kathy Taylor, Tulsa's previous mayor and the state's former Secretary of Commerce. The race between the two former friends turned bitter especially at the end. Ultimately the Republicans came out on top, with Bartlett winning reelection 55-45 percent. (Jeff Singer)
• North Carolina: Just to reinforce how tough that new PPP poll is for Dem Sen. Kay Hagan, here's an additional data point: The Democrats' lead on the generic legislative ballot has shrunk from 51-42 back in July to just 45-43 now.
• Site News: It's a small upgrade, but a useful one. If you ever peruse or share the Morning Digest on the web, you can now link directly to individual stories by clicking on the orange bullet before each item. So, for instance, if you wanted to point someone right to our recent entry on VA-Gov cartograms, now you can do so.