Leading Off:• WV-03: Democrats finally lost this conservative southern West Virginia seat last year, with Republican Evan Jenkins unseating longtime Democratic incumbent Nick Rahall 55-45. Romney won this seat 65-33 and it’s hard to see Team Blue recapturing this ancestrally Democratic seat anytime soon, but the party is reaching out to one of the few politicians who might have a shot here. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who is termed-out next year, confirms that he’s been approached, and that he hasn’t made “any final decisions on anything yet.”
It’s rare for someone to go from the governor’s mansion to the House, but it’s not unheard of. Mike Castle of Delaware and Bill Janklow of South Dakota successfully ran for their state’s lone House seats as they were being termed-out. Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford also returned to Congress about two years after leaving Columbia, though few politicians are going to try emulating his career path. Still, it’s often hard enough to convince former or soon-to-be-former governors to run for the Senate, where they’re forced to go from being their state’s top dog to becoming just one member of a 100-person chamber: Becoming a freshman House member is an even less appealing prospect.
Still, if the DCCC can land Tomblin, he’d be a good get. Tomblin carried the 3rd 54-42 during his 2012 re-election campaign, quite a bit better than his 50-46 statewide win. Tomblin will be 65 on Election Day, so he’d have some time to amass seniority if he sticks around. There are still several Democratic legislators in coal country so the DCCC has some backup options if Tomblin says no. But it won’t be easy for anyone to beat the well-funded Jenkins, and there’s little doubt that Tomblin would be the best candidate they can get….
• UT-Sen: Just days after former Romney aide Alex Dunn began talking about challenging Republican Sen. Mike Lee for renomination, Dunn has ruled out a campaign. Lee’s enemies in the GOP will probably continue to search for someone to face him, but it’s unclear who else might be interested. While the tea partying Lee may be vulnerable if a well-funded opponent jumps in, he’s been working hard to make nice with his former detractors, and there’s little sign that GOP primary voters are actually want to dump him.
• KY-Gov: As the May 19 GOP primary draws near, it’s no surprise that the ads are really beginning to fly. Kentuckians for Growth, Opportunity and Prosperity has a new spot for state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, where they tout him as the only candidate who has successfully stood up to Obama. While there’s no word of the size of the buy, the group has spent $620,000 in the last month.
Former Louisville Councilor Hal Heiner, who is the frontrunner according to some stale polling, also gets some air support. Citizens for a Sound Government goes after Comer, accusing him on voting to increase his own pension. The ad features a clip of Comer spending several seconds stammering when asked to explain his 2005 vote, before finally responding “that was a… clearly a bad vote.” We also have a copy of a commercial for tea partying businessman Matt Bevin that was briefly pulled from YouTube, but I can’t promise that it’s worth the wait…