Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest…5/31/11…

Reposted from Daily Kos Elections by David Nir
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• MA-Sen: Poor Setti Warren. He just can’t catch a break. From DSCC Chair Patty Murray, at a briefing for reporters last week:

“We believe that Massachusetts is one that we will win,” Murray said, adding that they expect to announce “a good, strong candidate” within the next few weeks.

I’m all for more candidates getting into the race. I’m all for better candidates getting into the race. But it’s also possible that no one else will. As Al Swearengen says, announcing your plans is a good way to hear god laugh. Well, I’d rather not hear the almighty chortling (remember what Murray said about Herb Kohl?), and Setti Warren may well wind up being our best hope. Unsurprisingly, local Dems aren’t happy about Murray’s remarks, and Scott Brown’s camp is predictably crowing. I know as well as anyone that politics ain’t beanbag, but let’s not say the quiet parts loud, okay?

• RI-Sen: Republican rich guy Barry Hinckley sure seems to want to make life easy for Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. Hinckley says he’d have voted in favor of the Ryan budget, and is trying to attack Whitehouse for voting against it. Gooood luck.

• TX-Sen: I don’t know how much impact he can possibly have in a crowded, well-funded field that already features some big names, but state Sen. Dan Patrick (not to be confused with the former ESPN anchor) says he’s exploring a bid for the GOP Senate nomination. Apparently, his raison d’être is “a bill that would criminalize groping by airport-security personnel,” which state Senate President David Dewhurst — another possible candidate — refused to bring to the chamber’s floor. Patrick is now on the warpath against Dewhurst, who also serves as the state’s Lt. Gov.

• VA-Sen: The Washington Post has a profile of rich guy Tim Donner, who runs an outfit that produces conservative “educational” videos, though it seems that most of his wealth is due to family money. Donner is hoping to knock off George Allen in the GOP primary, but says he won’t spend more than a million of his own funds, which I really don’t think will get the job done.

Speaking of Allen, he refused to take a position on the Ryan budget (Donner unsurprisingly is in favor), so I wonder if that might offer an opening. Even if Donner can’t get sufficient traction, he might still be able to force Allen to go on the record, which would of course be a boon to Tim Kaine.

• WI-Sen: PPP released polling on both the Dem and GOP primary fields, whilePresident Obama looks good in the Badger State. (Full posts at Daily Kos Elections.)


• KY-Gov: The Republican gubernatorial ticket has been plagued by all kinds of problems (chief among them: sucking), but it’s all the more poignant that Lt. Gov. candidate Richie Farmer, who brings some warm fuzzies but nothing else, is dragging it down further. Farmer, currently the state’s Ag. Commish but best-known as the shooting guard on the University of Kentucky’s much-beloved `91-`92 team, has been embroiled in a few issues this campaign season. The latest: driving his official vehicle for personal use — while telling the state he was doing no such thing. Not major, sure, but it ain’t helping.


• CA-36: Fourth-place finisher Marcy Winograd endorsed Janice Hahn in her runoff against free-spending Republican Craig Huey. SoS Debra Bowen, who placed third, is refusing to endorse, citing her role as the state’s chief elections officer. I’m not sure I get this: Why is it okay for Bowen to engage in partisan activity on her own behalf (i.e., running for the House in the first place), but not on behalf of others? In any event, Hahn also picked up the backing of Howard Dean, EMILY’s List, Nancy Pelosi, Jerry Brown, and pretty much any other Democrat you care to name.

• CO-03: It’s not clear what might come of this, but it certainly doesn’t look good: Elizabeth Tipton, daughter of GOP frosh Rep. Scott Tipton, “has been contacting congressional offices and introducing herself as the congressman’s daughter, to arrange appointments for Broadnet,” her employer, which is a company that provide electronic town hall services. Tipton felt the need to address this issue in a letter to the Ethics Committee, acknowledging that this use of his name was “improper.”

• CO-04: I’m not sure Dave Catanese is reading this right — but I don’t think the Denver Post is being particularly helpful here, either. Last week, Steny Hoyer spoke to the Post editorial board and discussed the prospects of state Senate President Brandon Shaffer running against first-year Republican Rep. Cory Gardner. Though Chuck Plunkett didn’t quote him directly, the Post’s headlineclaimed that Hoyer said Shaffer was “committed” to a run. It’s possible Hoyer cracked a bit of turn, because Shaffer later said he wouldn’t decide until after mid-June.

But it’s also possible that the Post isn’t reporting Hoyer’s statements accurately. Catanese suggests that Shaffer is saying one thing publicly (he’s undecided) and a different thing privately (he’s in), but the Post is eliding far too much in itsmost recent blog post. Allison Sherry now says:

Democrat state Senate President Brandon Shaffer told U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer last week that he was “committed” to beating Republican Rep. Cory Gardner in 2012 in the 4th Congressional District.

But that’s not right. At best, Sherry can say that Hoyer says this is what Shaffer told him — neither she nor anyone else has Shaffer on record saying this. And given the dispute here, it’s inappropriate to characterize Hoyer’s statements as anything more than an assertion. What makes this even more questionable is, as I say, Plunkett didn’t actually offer any quotations from Hoyer using the word “committed.” It’s possible he said that exact word, but that’s far from clear. Indeed, a different version of Plunkett’s piece used a different headline altogether, substitution the phrase “likely to try” for “committed to.” So I’m just not buying this idea that Shaffer is somehow being two-faced about this. This is turning into a game of telephone, and the Denver Post’s signal is definitely not at a full five bars.

• FL-11: I’m really unclear what state Sen. Mike Bennett is hoping for here. The term-limited Republican says he wants to run against Rep. Kathy Castor in the 11th CD, but it’s a very blue seat (66% Obama, 58% Kerry) which probably can’t really get redder even after redistricting. (I mean, you gotta put those Democratic voters somewhere, right?) Bennett is best-known for surfing some softcore porn on his laptop on the floor of the state Senate during a debate on an abortion bill.

• IA-02: We noted John Archer as a potential challenger to Dem Rep. Dave Loebsack the other day. Now the 39-year-old Archer, who is described as “a senior legal counsel” at John Deere, says he won’t decide until early July.

• IL-11: Ex-Rep. Bill Foster (D) said he’d run in the new 11th CD (see Illinois redistricting bullet below), while current IL-11 Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R) said he’d consider running in the new 16th. (Full post at Daily Kos Elections.)

• MT-AL: Politics1 reports that John Abarr, best known as a KKK organizer, will run for Montana’s open House seat as a Republican. Here’s some background on Abarr, who previously ran for the legislature in 2002.

• NV-02: It doesn’t matter quite so much now that a party committee will tap a nominee, but Jill Derby has bowed out of the special election, leaving fellow Democrat Kate Marshall, the state treasurer, as the certain choice. There could still be complications if the Secretary of State’s ruling in favor of a “ballot royale” gets reinstated by an appeals court, but Derby would have to un-drop-out, which doesn’t seem like a winning move.

• NY-25: It sure as hell sounds like Dan Maffei wants to get back in the game. At the end of March, he said he was “strongly considering” a rematch against the Republican who unseated him last year, Ann Marie Buerkle. He also said he’d likely decide in the next two months… and those two months are up. Now he has a new email out to supporters, specifically hammering Buerkle for her vote in favor of the Ryan budget, and citing Kathy Hochul’s inspiring win one district over. Maffei now promises he’ll make up his mind “soon” (he uses that word twice), but unless redistricting seriously mixes thing up, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t make a go of it.

• RI-01: Talk about getting the band back together. I’ve been suggesting since March that freshman Rep. David Cicilline could be vulnerable in a Democratic primary thanks to his mismanagement of Providence’s finances, and it looks like his 2010 opponents are starting to agree — every last one of them. Businessman Anthony Gemma, former state Rep. David Segal, and former Dem state party chair Bill Lynch all said they’re interested in possible rematches. Of course, this could lead to a Dan Burton situation, something I think we’d like to avoid since Cicilline has already drawn a very credible Republican challenger in the form of Brendan Doherty, the former head of the state police. (H/T: xcave)

• TX-23: Huh. So ex-Rep. Ciro Rodriguez just filed paperwork for his third attempt at a Congressional comeback. Ciro, you may recall, very narrowly lost the Democratic primary to Rep. Henry Cuellar in 2004, after the DeLaymander moved Cuellar’s home base into Rodriguez’s 28th CD. Ciro tried to repay the favor in 2006, but fell short by double digits. But Ciro’s fortunes turned around later that same year. The Supreme Court ruled that GOP Rep. Henry Bonilla’s 23rd CD violated the Voting Rights Act, which prompted the drawing of new, much friendlier district lines. Rodriguez beat Bonilla in a runoff, but after surviving a challenge in 2008, he fell to Republican Quico Canseco by a 49-44 margin last year.

Now Ciro’s looking for a rematch against Quico — something we knew he was thinking about, but I had no idea how serious his intentions were. Rodriguez doesn’t have a reputation as a strong campaigner, though, and several other Democratic names have been mentioned as possibilities, including state Rep. Joaquin Castro and Pete Gallego, and state Sen. Carlos Uresti. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see a contested primary here. (H/T: Derek Willis)

• WA-01: Douchey ex-Rep. Brian Baird, who retired last year but sat on nearly half a million in campaign cash rather than help his “fellow” Democrats, says the chances of him returning to Congress are “very low.” In addition to his bank account, Baird had moved from Vancouver (in his old 3rd CD) to Edmonds, which is in Rep. Jay Inslee’s first district. (Inslee, as you probably know, is expected to run for governor.) So no Baird vs. Kucinich matchup, I guess.

• WA-02: Air Force vet Greg Anders says he’ll run against Dem Rep. John Larsen, who narrowly survived a challenge last year from Snohomish County Councilman John Koster. Koster, though, has already announced he’ll seek a rematch, so Anders won’t have the GOP primary field to himself.

• WI-02: Local Dems must be feeling pretty confident that Rep. Tammy Baldwin will seek the open Senate seat, because several of them are already expressing interest in succeeding her in the House. Among them are state Rep. Kelda Roys (who leads the House Democratic Caucus), who says she’s giving the race “serious consideration.” Steve Peoples of Roll Call also says that state Sen. Jon Erpenbach and state Rep. Mark Pocan are “names to watch” in this heavily Democratic seat that’s unlikely to get perturbed during redistricting.

Other Races:

• AL-St. House: This doesn’t happen every day (though it did happen once earlier this year), so we always like hearing when a Southern Republican switches to the Democratic Party. That’s exactly what state Rep. Daniel Boman did late last week. Don’t expect it to be part of a trend, though, explains SSP alum Trent Thompson:

Boman pretty much got elected as a fluke (the benefits of challenging every seat). Overall, the district is pretty Democratic. However, it dips down into rural Tuscaloosa County, near Gov. Bentley’s home. It was largely Bentley’s coattails that got the guy elected, as that part of the district had triple the number of votes it usually does.So, the real story is that this guy got lucky and has now realized that it would take another 2010 landslide year for him to win re-election as a Republican. He’s guaranteed to be primaried.

• KY-SoS: After a recanvass predictably failed to move the needle, Hilda Legg conceded the GOP primary to teabaggy businessman Bill Johnson, losing by over a thousand voted. Johnson will face off against Democratic rising star (and fast favorite here at Elections) Alison Lundergan Grimes.

• MN Ballot: This new poll from SurveyUSA shows you what a difference wording makes. SUSA asked:

If an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution were on the ballot, that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, would you vote FOR the amendment? Against the amendment? Or not vote on the measure?

By contrast, a recent Star Tribune poll asked:

Please tell me if you would favor or oppose amending the Minnesota constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

The first question found a 51-40 majority in favor of banning gay marriage; the second one found a 55-39 majority opposed.

• VA-St. Sen.: 84-year-old state Senate President Chuck Colgan says that, contrary to recent rumors saying he’d retire, he hasn’t made up his mind yet. Colgan battled cancer last year, but his health has since improved, and his fellow Democrats want him to run again to help protect their 22-18 majority. Colgan’s district would be tough even for him to win again, and Johnny Longtorsoreminds us that Colgan contemplated bailing both in 2003 and 2007, so we’re far from out of the woods here.

• WI Recall: Some very good news for Democrats: Wisconsin’s elections board says that “numerous factual and legal issues” pertaining to the Republican petitions submitted against three Dem state senators require more thorough examination at a later date (no earlier than the week of June 6). Dems have charged that the GOP engaged in serious shenanigans in its signature collection process, and the whole thing is likely to wind up in court. I would not be at all surprised if at least one (and possibly all) recall is tossed. Meanwhile, the board will also meet next week to consider the petitions submitted against the remaining three Republicans (three recalls have already largely passed muster).

Grab Bag:

• Dark Money: Dan Froomkin has a good backgrounder on what increased IRS scrutiny of the non-profit status of Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS could mean for the group and/or its donors. Elsewhere in the dark money world, the Washington Post reports that the American Action Network (the front group for Nixon Jew-counter-in-chief Fred Malek) received just 11 checks (totaling $2.75 million) between July 2009 and June 2010. The group took in a further $24 million before election day last year, but refused to say how many donors were responsible for those sums.

Finally, Adam Bonin offers a detailed explanation of the Virginia district court ruling you may have heard about that purports to strike down the ban against direct corporate contributions to candidates. Adam says that despite the reliance on Citizens United in this new case (United States v. Danielczyk), there’s direct Supreme Court precedent to the contrary… but that state of affairs may not last forever.

• Demographics: The Census Bureau just released a bunch of Hispanic-related data last week. The top-line tidbit: “[T]he Hispanic population increased by 15.2 million between 2000 and 2010 and accounted for more than half of the total U.S. population increase of 27.3 million. Between 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic population grew by 43 percent, or four times the nation’s 9.7 percent growth rate.”

• Voter Suppression: Three professors affiliated with the Hispanic politics website Latino Decisions analyze the results of a large telephone survey from 2008 which asked respondents whether they currently had a valid driver’s license or state ID. The answers, which you can see laid out in graphical form, show that members of minority groups are less likely to have ID, and thus more likely to be affected by voter ID laws.

• Ryan’s Curse: With the actual vote over, the really interesting whip count on the Ryan budget begins. Republican candidates for Senate are being tormented into staking out positions on the Ryan plan, with a few openly embracing it while many others are wiggling, wriggling, and just plain jiggling their way out of the line of fire. The Fix has one such roundup, the Hotline another. Click through to each for the full details, because this is going to require an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of.

• WATN?: Remember when this guy almost became Commerce Secretary? Yeah, well, ex-Sen. Judd Gregg is getting involved in commerce, but a type that suits him much more: He’ll be joining his fellow vampire squids at none other than Goldman Sachs.

Redistricting Roundup:

• Illinois Redistricting: Merry Redistmas! The state legislature finally released its new congressional map, and we crunched the numbers on how each old district’s population gets split among the new districts.

• Michigan: The Detroit News has obtained what it says is a draft Republican map to redraw the state’s congressional lines. (Click here for a full-size version.) Among other things, it would place Dem Rep. Sandy Levin and Gary Peters into the same district.

• Texas: First Rick Perry pretty much declared he wouldn’t call a special legislative session on redistricting if lawmakers couldn’t get a congressional map finished before the end of the session, which concluded yesterday. Later, he pirouetted a bit and refused to rule one out. Then, as the consequences of letting a court draw the new map loomed larger, Perry changed his mind and said he would in fact call a special session, but only if the legislature worked a map out in advance and could ensure a “very quick two-or-three-day session.”

Now a special session is all but guaranteed, because a Democratic state senatorsuccessfully filibustered a “must-pass” budget bill on Sunday night as the clock struck down to sine die. The session is expected to start today and could last up to 30 days (which is the constitutional limit). Even if the budget is dealt with very quickly and redistricting isn’t added to the agenda by the governor, a separate special session was already expected some time later this summer, to deal with an overhaul of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. So there are at least one and possibly two more opportunities already in the works for redistricting to get done.

Finally, for those of you who (like me) are wondering why in the hell Rick Perry has seemed so lackadaisical about the whole process, Charles Kuffner points us to this Roll Call excerpt:

If state lawmakers pass a map during special session, Perry will ultimately have control over it — and it’s likely the delegation won’t love the result. There’s still bad blood between Perry and the Texas delegation, which largely supported Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s (R) bid against the governor in 2010.“If Perry takes control of the process, then at least you know that it will be a Republican-friendly map. It may not be a delegation-friendly map,” said one Texas GOP source close to the redistricting process. “He’s essentially let the Texas delegation know, ‘Don’t come to me with any favors.’ Read between the lines: The Congressional delegation, at least two-thirds of them, endorsed KBH in the primary.”

As Charles says: “Never underestimate the power of spite, especially where Rick Perry is concerned.”