by David Nir
Leading Off:• IL-14: Rep. Joe Walsh doesn’t just beat his opponents at the ballot box. He will PUNCH YOU IN THE FACE. Yes, that’s an actual quote, though the embattled GOP freshman kinda, well, pulled his punches. Speaking of a (totally standard) message-testing poll that his Republican primary opponent Rep. Randy Hultgren recently had in the field, Walsh said:
“If he raises his voice and calls into question who I am as a father, I’ll punch him in the face, figuratively speaking.”
Amazingly enough, the conservative Family Research Council just gave Walsh an awardfor his “unwavering support of the family,” even though he owes his wife six figures in unpaid child support. (That was one of the topics addressed by Hultgren’s poll, which aroused Walsh’s pugilistic ire.)
• FL-Sen: While some national commentators have been skeptical of the notion that GOP Gov. Rick Scott’s woes could have any impact on the 2012 election (Scott’s not up again until ’14), Sen. Bill Nelson definitely doesn’t agree. As Dave Catanese’s interesting new piece in Politico shows, Nelson has largely ignored the halflings who constitute the Republican Senate primary field and has spent a lot of time setting himself up in opposition to his home state’s governor instead. A few examples:
Their most recent clash came last week, when Nelson called on Scott to repeal a new law that limits how various groups can go about registering voters. The plight of a high school civics teacher who faces a possible fine after organizing a voter registration drive without state clearance prompted a furious response from Nelson. […]0In February, Nelson sparred with the governor over federal funding to construct a high-speed rail system between Tampa and Orlando.
Scott’s controversial decision to reject the funds spurred Nelson to make an end around, appealing to Amtrak to partner with localities to cobble together a last-minute bid. But time ran out, and Nelson lambasted Scott for making a “huge mistake” that would cost Floridians “24,000 jobs in the immediate future.”
When Scott appeared to endorse an expansion of drilling in the Everglades in early September, Nelson brushed him back, with his spokesman telling The Associated Press it was a “wacky” idea. A spokesman for Scott later walked back the governor’s statement.
• MD-Sen: Republican Eric Wargotz, who pulled in just 36% against Dem Sen. Barbara Mikulski last year, says he won’t challenge Sen. Ben Cardin this cycle. Cardin hasn’t yet drawn any serious opposition and is unlikely to do so.
• PA-Sen: Former state Rep. Sam Rohrer, who has been toying with the Senate race all year, just said he’d resign his post director of the Pennsylvania chapter of Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers’ front-group. It sounds like a presage to an actual run in the GOP primary, but Rohrer, like the rest of the field, isn’t exactly an intimidating presence. (Though hey! Post it on Craig’s List! A plum gig in the Wingnut Welfare Program has just opened up!)
• TX-Sen: Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is out with an internal poll from Baselice & Associates showing him in a dominant position in the GOP primary. Dewhurst takes an impressive 50% while former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert is at 9 and former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz scores just 6. Leppert is positioning himself as the non-career-politician businessman, while Cruz is trying to wear the mantle of the True Conservative, but with the primary just four months away, the prominent title of “Lieutenant Governor” might simply trump everything else.
• NC-Gov: PPP’s usual monthly poll of their home state finds Republican Pat McCrory with his largest lead since April, nine points. Gov. Bev Perdue’s approvals haven’t declined, though, so it’s not clear whether this is a blip or McCrory gaining genuine strength.
• AZ-08, AZ-Sen: It’s not quite an official announcement, but in a new book written with (and mostly by) her husband, Rep. Gabby Giffords says “I will return,” and in the AP’s words, “her goal is to get back to Congress.”
• CA-44: The House Ethics Committee voted to launch a full investigation of Dem Rep. Laura Richardson’s alleged ethical malfeasance, after conducting a preliminary inquiry over the course of the past year. Final results might not come for months, though. (For more background on this ongoing story, click here.)
• IL-12: Former St. Clair County Regional Superintendent of Schools Brad Harriman (thank god for copy-and-paste) looks like he’s locking up the support of local Democrats as he makes a bid for retiring Rep. Jerry Costello’s seat. He’d already gotten the backing of the local party organization in his home county (St. Clair), and now he’s set to get the endorsement of the Madison County Dems, too. (That group was ready to back Judge Ann Callis, but she unexpectedly declined to run.) The chair of the Madison Democrats adds that he isn’t closing the door on any other candidates, but says he isn’t aware of anyone else who might get in.
• MI-11: Canton Township Trustee Syed Taj, who is also chief of medicine at a hospital in Dearborn, just launched a bid to unseat GOP Rep. Thad McCotter. McCotter himself has to deal with a primary challenge from state Sen. Mike Kowall, so Taj could wind up very well-placed if McCotter isn’t the Republican nominee.
• ND-AL: Yet another GOPer is thinking about getting into the open seat North Dakota House race. State Rep. Kim Koppelman says he’s creating an exploratory committee, and if he gets in, he’d be the fourth Republican to do so.
• AZ Recall: Republican state Senate President Russell Pearce, the author of Arizona’s extremely controversial and restrictive immigration law know as SB 1070, faces a recall on Tuesday against a fellow GOPer, charter schools exec Jerry Lewis. Though a lot of money has recently poured in on Pearce’s behalf, a new poll of the race taken on behalf of the Arizona Capitol Times and ABC15 News shows Lewis leading 46-43. Of course, even if Lewis wins, we’ve only replaced one Republican with another, but at least Lewis isn’t the rabid xenophobe that Pearce is.
• VA St. Sen.: Oh man, too funny. A Republican state Senate candidate in Loudon County sent out a mailer saying of the incumbent Democrat: “Always thank a veteran — because Mark Herring won’t!” The flyer is amazing because it prominently features a highly-decorated officer… in the SOVIET military! Seriously, click through for the high-larity. (Here’s the original.)
While we’re on the subject, The Hotline has its own roundup of the key races in the Virginia state Senate, where all seats are up on Tuesday and where Democrats have a narrow 22-18 edge. One loss is the most Team Blue can afford, because Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling would break ties in an evenly-divided chamber. The piece is pretty comprehensive, but I don’t think it quite delivers on its claim that the GOP is “likely” to win back the Senate.
• DCCC: In a briefing for reporters on Friday, DCCC chair Steve Israel touched on a variety of different subjects that fall under his purview. I’d encourage you to read Jessica Taylor’s piece—if I tried to summarize it, I’d just wind up paraphrasing her whole article. I will share one item of note though: Israel said that the DCCC would soon talk to the Ohio Democratic Party to see how the D-Trip can support a referendum on the new Republican redistricting map. Oh, and when asked if Dennis Kucinich would face retribution for supporting the Republican plan, Israel “paused” and then said “Dennis is Dennis.” So that sounds like a no… but Israel probably figures he’ll be rid of Kucinich for good in a year’s time.
On the same day, the D-Trip rolled out another set of radio ads targeting 25 Republican incumbents (part of their “Drive for 25” seats), hitting each of them for various specific things from their individual records, especially ethical lapses. As I suspected, though, this was another farcically tiny buy: just $9K, according to the Smart Media Group. (Last time they did something similar, they spent a mere $6K). I used to get all annoyed about this kind of thing; now I’m just impressed that campaign committees can garner media attention for such feeble outlays. I guess if it works, it works. Anyhow, you can see the complete list here (PDF). One surprising omission: FL-22’s Allen West.
• NC Redistricting: A group of prominent Democrats, including members of the state legislature and ex-Rep. Bob Etheridge, has filed the first suit against North Carolina’s new congressional and legislative maps. The Department of Justice recently granted preclearance to the plans (effectively saying they did not diminish minority voting rights), but this ruling is by no means final and can be challenged in other avenues. If you are interested, you can read the (very lengthy and detailed) complaint here (PDF).
• OH Redistricting: I believe this writeup is referring to the revised congressional map the GOP rolled out on Thursday, rather than anything new, but the Cleveland Plain Dealer has a very helpful Google Maps version that’s much better than the grainy PDF we previously saw. The most salient—and delightful—observation regarding the newest plan is that it would add 90,000 voters in Lucas County to the new 9th CD, which would screw Dennis Kucinich hard. Lucas is home to Toledo, which is Rep. Marcy Kaptur’s base; Kaptur and Kucinich are, of course, facing off in the Democratic primary here. As you well know, Kucinich had been treasonously agitating in support of the original GOP map; if a deal is struck on a new map, that would be horrendous, but this would at least be nice to see Special K hoist on his own silver-lined petard.
• Middle Earth: The craziest, strangest, and most awesome Daily Kos Elections thread of all time? I think this comment discussion on redistricting J.R.R. Tolkein’s Middle Earth (the setting for the Lord of the Rings) probably takes the cake. Up next, clearly, fans of A Game of Thrones have to tackle Westeros. King of the North!