Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: 8/15

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CT-Sen: Why was anyone even asking this question? Dem Rep. Jim Himes confirmed he isn’t going to run for Senate — months after saying he wouldn’t run and after he already endorsed his House colleague Chris Murphy for the job. This isn’t some FL-Sen GOP primary-type situation, where people are desperate for a new candidate to enter the race — quite the contrary: Murphy is widely considered a very strong candidate. So this is just odd.

Meanwhile, Connecticut reporter Brian Lockhart catches up with state Sen. Scott Frantz, who was vaguely considering a Senate run a while back. Frantz (best known for racing his million dollar yacht down to Bermuda, an island whose virtues he also extolls as a tax shelter) says he’s keeping his options open but likely won’t get in if either Chris Shays or Linda McMahon does.

FL-Sen: Oh please, oh please:

When asked if he would run for the U.S. Senate, [Rep. Allen] West said he can’t be talked into it right now, but the door is “cracked very slightly” to the option of running.

As SSP Labs behind-the-scenes greasemonkey Brian Valco says: “‘Slightly cracked’ is a term I’m sure that’s been applied to Rep. West more than once.”

MI-Sen: Anyone want to make book on the Michigan GOP Senate primary? Because if you’re offering reasonable odds, I will definitely bet against Pete Hoekstra to win the nomination. The latest reason for my “optimism” (if you want to call it that) is news that a trio of Michigan GOP heavyweights are all backing private school entrepreneur Clark Durant over Hoekstra, even though Durant hasn’t even officially entered the race yet. And these are genuine bigwigs: former party chairs Saul Anuzis and Betsy DeVos, and former Sen. Spencer Abraham.

As Dana Houle points out, DeVos is particularly interesting. Not only is she the wife of Amway heir (and conservative dark lord) Dick DeVos, her maiden name is Prince — as in, she’s the sister of Blackwater founder Erik Prince. Click the link to read Dana’s thoughts on why this is especially noteworthy, given Hoekstra’s background.

NM-Sen: Nothing like a Democratic primary to push candidates into taking more progressive stands. A couple of weeks ago, Auditor Hector Balderas tried to carve out some room to Rep. Martin Heinrich’s left, saying he supported gay marriage while Heinrich was most recently on record saying he did not (as of 2008). Joe Monahan talked to Heinrich’s campaign, though, and they said:

Martin has supported gay marriage for some time. I just don’t think he was asked about it. Thanks for asking!

Of course, Heinrich didn’t put out a press release saying so immediately after Balderas tried to out-flank him, though you could game this out a million different ways. For now, I’m just glad to see one more Democrat on board, even if the U.S. Senate won’t have much say on this issue any time soon.

PA-Sen: Businessman Tim Burns, who lost twice last year to Mark Critz (once in the PA-12 special election, then again in the fall), is the latest Republican to consider a run against Sen. Bob Casey and has met with the NRSC.

VA-Sen: I’m really not sure how the debt limit deal will play on the campaign trail, so I’m curious to hear your thoughts, but my guess is that opponents will have the rhetorical upper hand. Anyhow, I bring this up because George Allen says he would have opposed the bill, even though of course he repeatedly voted for debt ceiling hikes while he was in the Senate.


MT-Gov: Montana state Transportation Director Jim Lynch just resigned his post and says he’ll consider entering the Democratic gubernatorial primary. The field mostly consists of small-time candidates so far, but one heavyweight — AG Steve Bullock — is still making up his mind. The linked article has some more background on Lynch if you’re interested.


CA-52: Former Dem Assemblywoman Lori Saldana has filed to run against GOPer Brian Bilbray in the new 52nd. Bilbray, currently representing the 50th, said he’ll seek re-election here, though the new district looks a good bit bluer than his old one, so this should be a competitive race. Former San Diego City Councilman Scott Peters is another possible Democratic contender.

NY-09: How not ready for prime time is Bob Turner?

Candidate Bob Turner, a former television exec, made the admission when asked about an op-ed in the conservative National Review that called for an “end to government dependencies” and to “dramatically cut the budget by 30 to 35%.”

“I mean, it is blatant pandering,” said the GOP contender for the 9th Congressional district straddling Brooklyn and Queens.

And check out these seriously half-baked responses he offered to some Sean Hannity questionnaire (also mentioned in the first link). It’s all wingnut talking points, if a wingnut had a mouth full of marbles and a belly full of bourbon. Example:

Social Security and Medicare need to return to their original purpose all extremities need be eliminated and place in non-guaranteed social programs.

Good luck with trying to get rid of Social Security in the 9th CD.

OR-01: I guess this tells you everything you need to know about how serious Republican Rob Cornilles’s supporters are:

Sponsors of poll supposedly showing Rob Cornilles with high name recognition in 1st CD decline to release details or link to data.

That’s just joke-level. In related news, it looks like Cornilles won’t have the GOP field to himself. Jim Greenfield, who ran against David Wu in 2002, says he’s joining the race, too. Greenfield got crushed by Wu, 63-34, and it’s not even clear to me that he filed a single FEC report during that campaign.

PA-07: A third-party group called Accountability PA is hitting freshman GOPer Pat Meehan with a new TV ad that goes after his vote in favor of the Ryan plan. No word on the size of the buy, though. You can watch the ad at the link.

WA-03: Andrea Damewood catches up with Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt, who mysteriously posted a three-word tweet last week: “Leavitt for Congress?” Indeed, Leavitt is thinking about a run against GOP freshman Jaime Herrera Beutler, and says that people have been approaching him recently asking him to consider the race — though he didn’t offer any sort of timetable. He also said he’s been in communication with Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart, whose interest in the race we mentioned just the other day.

One thing no one’s quite sure of is whether Leavitt is actually a Democrat. I identified him as such last week, but that may not be correct, since his current office is non-partisan and he supported Dino Rossi last year (and vice-versa). But there wouldn’t really be much hope for a primary challenger here, thanks to Washington’s top-two system, so anything other than a bid for the Democratic nod wouldn’t make such sense. Damewood also described Stuart, who is definitely a Democrat, as an “ally” of Leavitt’s.

Other Races:

Special Elections: An early report on tomorrow’s lone special (apart from the two remaining WI recalls), from (who else?) Johnny Longtorso:

Maine HD-121: Way back in May, Rep. Cynthia Dill was elevated to the State Senate in a special election. Now it’s her old seat to be filled, located in Cape Elizabeth. Democrats have tapped Cape Elizabeth School Board member Kim Monaghan-Derrig, while insurance agent Nancy Thompson is the Republican nominee. Dill was re-elected by a 58-42 margin in 2010, so there should be little trouble for Monaghan-Derrig.

Grab Bag:

Democratic Super PAC: Via the Friday edition of Politico’s Morning Score:

The Democratic Super PAC, created to help recapture control of the House, goes back on the air today with its first slate of ads since spending about $ 400,000 in the NY-26 special. The six-figure ad buy is targeting Republican Reps. Scott Tipton of Colorado, Tim Griffin of Arkansas and Chip Cravaack of Minnesota.

You can watch the Tipton ad here, or below:

EMILY’s List: Some upgrades to “full recommended” status for five EMILY’s List candidates: Tammy Duckworth (IL-08), Lois Frankel (FL-22), Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01), and Christie Vilsack (IA-04).

Redistricting Roundup:

GA Redistricting: Stacey Abrams is my kind of Democrat. Abrams, the state House Minority Leader, bluntly threatened to support primary challengers against any Democrat who votes in favor of a Republican redistricting plan. Damn! If only we had 50 or a 100 more leaders just like that. Abrams’s statements originally surfaced in an email, but she didn’t back away from them when confronted publicly, saying: “I can see no justification for any member to put his or her personal interests above our constituents and vote for a map that decimates the Democratic caucus and creates a Republican super-majority.” Unfortunately, Democrats have no ability to stop the GOP from pushing through brutal maps, but rule no. 1 of redistricting is: “Never vote for the other side’s gerrymander.” I’m glad to see Abrams taking it deadly seriously.

WV Redistricting: So it’s looking like the legislature may go back to square one when Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoes the state House map. Originally Tomblin planned to veto it because it contained technical errors, but now his veto message “will be broadly worded to encourage the House to revisit the entire process.” It looks like this only applies to the House plan, though, not the federal or Senate maps.

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