• IL-Gov: It's something only a fabulous one-percenter could say: At a candidate forum last month, zillionaire venture capitalist Bruce Rauner announced that he favored "moving the Illinois minimum wage back to the national minimum wage." In other words, he supported lowering the state's minimum wage a dollar, from $8.25 an hour to $7.25, the federal standard. But this week, Rauner received a ton of heat for those clueless remarks after they were newly publicized, and now hew claims he wants to increase the federal minimum wage, even though just a couple of days ago his campaign confirmed that his earlier statements were "accurate." Of course, the Illinois governor has zero input into federal wage laws, so this is just pure CYA.
Indeed, the trackers extraordinaire at American Bridge released some footage to show just how full of it Rauner is:
"I am adamantly, adamantly against raising the minimum wage. My view is we already have the second highest unemployment in America. We already have an outrageously high unemployment rate among low-income, poor minority kids in Chicago, in Rockford, in Peoria and East St. Louis. And raising the minimum wage is just going to blow them out and take away their jobs. We cannot do this."That's from an August "meet-n-greet breakfast" with the Ford County GOP, held—where else?—at a golf course.
• PA-09: Art Halvorson: $8,700 raised (not a typo), $72,000 cash-on-hand. Check out his great explanation: "We are out door-to-door and we are touching people and voters, and we are buying love with touches and Mr. Shuster's big money doesn't buy love."
• NM-Sen: Republican businessman Allen Weh, a former state party chair who finished a distant second in the 2010 primary for governor, has announced that he'll challenge Sen. Tom Udall this fall. Weh can self-fund—as The Hill's Cameron Joseph notes, he spent $1.6 million on his failed gubernatorial bid—but unseating Udall will be a daunting task. Daily Kos Elections currently rates this race Safe Democrat.
• AZ-Gov: Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, who'd been considering a bid for governor for almost a year, has finally decided to join the GOP field, and he's resigning his current job in order to do so (in accordance with Arizona's "resign to run" laws). Two heavyweight Republicans, Secretary of State Ken Bennett and Treasurer Doug Ducey, are already running, as are several other candidates, though Smith might try to thread a very difficult needle by presenting himself as slightly more moderate on immigration and guns. (He'd need a serious conservative split to have any chance of that.) The winner of the GOP primary will most likely face former Board of Regents chair Fred DuVal in the general election.
• CO-Gov: A private poll from Hill Research shows Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper with a surprisingly chipper 54-35 job approval rating, though no horserace head-to-heads are provided. PPP's last poll, from early December, pegged Hick at 45-48, while Quinnipiac had a similar 48-46 in November. Of course, we don't have proper trendlines, so it may just come down to a difference in methodology. But while Hill Research won't say who paid for the poll, it's worth noting that they typically work for Republicans.
• CT-Gov: Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, who formed an exploratory committee last August, has finally made his bid for governor official. Senate Minority Leader John McKinney of Fairfield and Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti are already in the race, while 2010 nominee Tom Foley and state Sen. Toni Boucher are both still in the exploratory phase. Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy has not yet said whether he'll seek a second term, though it would be very surprising if he did not.
• GA-Gov: A strange poll from Insider Advantage has GOP Gov. Nathan Deal leading his likely Democratic opponent, state Sen. Jason Carter, by a 44-22 margin, which obviously leaves a huge number of people undecided. But while Carter's ridiculously small share is probably in large part due to his low name recognition, Deal's 44 is actually identical to what PPP found in their last poll, taken in October for Better Georgia.
• IA-03: Former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack, who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Steve King last cycle, says she won't run for Congress again this year in the state's 3rd District. Rather, she says she's supporting fellow Democrat Staci Appel, a former state senator who had been running since before Rep. Tom Latham announced his retirement and is still the only declared Democrat in the race.
Meanwhile, on the GOP side, Secretary of State Matt Schultz has entered the race, as expected. He joins former Chuck Grassley chief of staff David Young, though many other Republicans are still looking at the race. And note that if no candidate clears 35 percent in the primary, the nomination will get thrown to a convention, something that Iowa Republicans have previously expressed worries about with regard to the Senate race.
• MA-09: Republican businessman Gabriel Gomez, who lost last year's special Senate election to Ed Markey, had been talked up as a potential candidate for a variety of races this fall. One of the more plausible ideas was a bid for the House against Democratic Rep. Bill Keating in MA-09, since Gomez actually carried the 9th in his Senate effort. But it's not to be: Gomez says he won't run for any office this year and will instead return to the private sector.
• MT-AL: It sounds like state Rep. Elsie Arntzen may join the crowded GOP field hoping to succeed Rep. Steve Daines, who is running for Senate. But a spokesman wouldn't confirm her plans, citing the impending birth of a grandchild this week.
• NY-04: The Long Island-centric daily Newsday runs through some possible successors to Democratic Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, who just announced her retirement on Wednesday. For Democrats, the paper says that Nassau County Legislature Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams and Nassau County Legislator Dave Denenberg "have already expressed interest," though there are no quotes from either on the record. Meanwhile, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said through a spokesman that now "isn't the time for political decision-making," which means she's not ruling out a bid.
For Republicans, new names include Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, who is striking a pose similar to Rice's, and Nassau County Legislator Francis Becker, who lost to McCarthy in both 2010 and 2012 but says he's "definitely interested" in a third try. So is attorney Frank Scaturro, who lost last cycle's GOP primary to Becker by 10 points. Undoubtedly we'll hear more from potential candidates in the coming days and weeks.
• VA-10: State Sen. Dick Black, who you can think of as the Paul Broun of Northern Virginia, is making it official. As expected, Black has entered the race for retiring Rep. Frank Wolf's House seat, joining Del. Barbara Comstock in the GOP primary. Other Republicans are still considering the race.
• AR-LG: The GOP-held Arkansas legislature is moving forward to impeach Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Darr over campaign finance and government spending violations. It seems that pretty much everyone in Arkansas politics, Republicans and Democrats alike, is calling on Darr to resign, but he's refusing to go, so the machinery for forcibly removing him from office—which hasn't been used in 140 years—is cranking into gear. A number of procedural questions need to be worked out, but invariably, they will be, so it's only a matter of time for Darr.