• Election Day: Junkies rejoice! It’s election day! Click the link for our handy pocket guide to the key races taking place today. Also, be sure to join us Tuesday evening for complete liveblog coverage of all the major contests. And if there’s an election in your area today, remember to vote!
• AZ-Sen: While the world waits on former Surgeon General Richard Carmona to conclude his Hamlet act, ex-state party chair Don Bivens has been busy racking up endorsements from all sorts of players as he seeks the Democratic nomination for Senate. The latest comes from ex-Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who herself is running for office in the 1st Congressional District (which she represented for a single term until losing last November). Ex-Rep. Harry Mitchell and Jim Pederson, another former party chair, have also gotten on board.
• CA-Sen, CA-22: This sure is unexpected—and odd. Republican Rep. Devin Nunes has been on the attack against Dem Sen. Dianne Feinstein lately, even going so far as to run television ads in his district calling her out by name on a series environmental issues… and now he’s refusing to rule out a run against her next year. Nunes is very conservative, though, so he’d be giving up his House career for an extremely longshot run. That makes me skeptical that this represents anything other than a bid to raise his profile. In fact, if you watch the spot he’s airing, you’ll see that it looks geared to get people to sign up for some kind of spam list, so perhaps this whole exercise is just an expensive form of list-building.
• NV-Sen: Clinton Alert! (Been a while since we had one of those.) The Big Dog will be the featured guest at a January fundraiser in Las Vegas for Rep. Shelley Berkley, who is running against GOP Sen. Dean Heller.
• NY-Sen: It’s the New York Post’s Fred Dicker, so the usual does of sodium chloride applies, but they’re saying that 2010 GOP comptroller candidate Harry Wilson might make a go of it against Dem Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand next year. Wilson lost his race in 2010 to incumbent Tom DiNapoli by about four points, but if he couldn’t beat a largely unknown Democrat with such a strong Republican tailwind, I have no idea how he’d hope to do better against a fundraising juggernaut like Gillibrand with Barack Obama at the top of the ticket.
• OH-Sen: At long, long, long, LONG last, Republican Treasurer Josh Mandel released his personal financial disclosure statement, a form all candidates for House and Senate are required to file when running for office. Mandel’s report was due back in May, and he’s been hammered mercilessly (and rightly) for refusing to comply with the law until now. Of course, he put out his disclosure late on a Friday evening, right before a major election in Ohio, and only made it available to the press. Anyhow, as the Ohio Daily Blog smirks, the report shows that Mandel is rich (perhaps worth as much as $ 7 million)—big deal. That was already well-known, given that his wife hails from a family of uber-wealthy developers. The real point is that Mandel thumbed his nose at mandatory campaign finance regulations for almost half a year, which says a lot about his respect for the rule of law.
• TX-Sen: I’d completely forgotten that Elizabeth Ames Jones was running for the GOP Senate nomination… and now she’s not. Like several others before her, Jones (currently chair of the state’s Railroad Commission) has decided to drop down to a more manageable race, in this case state Senate.
• MO-Gov: Plastics magnate Dave Spence is now saying that he might seek the GOP gubernatorial nomination regardless of what Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder does. When his name first surfaced last month, Spence initially said he’d defer to Kinder, whom he called a “friend.” Now he sounds like he’s getting antsy, and also adds that he’s “willing to self-fund part of” his campaign.
• MS-Gov: PPP polled the Mississippi governor’s race over the weekend, as well as the state’s notorious “personhood” amendment, on the ballot as Initiative 26. As expected, the former looks like a Republican blowout, but the latter is a tossup. Click the link for the full numbers at Daily Kos Elections.
• CA-44: According to Morning Score, Democrat Janice Hahn will pick up the endorsement of the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
• MI-05: A huge get for former Genesee County Treasurer Dan Kildee, looking to replace his uncle Dale Kildee in the House: The United Auto Workers just gave him their endorsement. This district may have more UAW members than any other in the nation (or if not, it’s close to Sandy Levin’s), so this should secure Kildee’s position as front-runner in the Democratic primary.
Relatedly, former Dem Rep. Jim Barcia firmed up his timetable last week, saying that he’d decide whether to make the contest later this month. Barcia served in the House in the 1990s, amassing a conservative voting record, but was a redistricting victim in 2002. He returned to the state legislature (where he’d spent his pre-Congressional career, dating back to 1977) in 2003, but was term-limited out of the Senate earlier this year. Barcia’s only 59, though, and his name emerged as a possible contender almost as soon as the elder Kildee said he’d retire.
• AZ Recall: Joshua Spivak has another comprehensive analysis of Tuesday’s other big recall election (Michigan’s being the first), the battle to oust Arizona Republican state Senate President Russell Pearce. (Plus it features a great Simpsons reference.) Joshua also has a detailed roundup of all the other recall elections taking place around the country today, from the Jasper (TX) city council to the Ellicot (CO) school board. While it’s difficult to isolate historical trends, it’s pretty amazing to see how popular recalls seem to be these days.
• Erie Co., NY Exec: It’s way down in the weeds, but it’s one of the biggest local races taking place today. Voters in Erie County, New York (home of Buffalo and almost a million citizens) will elect a new county executive. Republican Chris Collins, who currently holds the post and first won election in 2007 in a landslide, is facing a very stiff challenge from Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz, a Democrat. A new Siena poll shows the race tied at 48 apiece, while a poll in early October by the Buffalo News and Channel 2 had Collins up just 49-46. Democrats have been putting their backs into this fight, with Sen. Chuck Schumer and Gov. Andrew Cuomo making recent appearances on behalf of Poloncarz, while Collins’s campaign is deploying classic loser-speak: “The only poll that counts is the one taken on Election Day.” (Yes, that’s an actual quote.) This should be one of the most interesting under-the-radar races on Tuesday.
• IA-St. Sen.: PPP also tested Iowa’s crucial 18th state Senate district special election, which takes place on Tuesday. Democrat Liz Mathis leads Republican Cindy Golding by a 52-46, in a race which will determine control of the chamber. Some thoughts from Tom Jensen:
The numbers suggest that Mathis is just a stronger candidate than Golding. Voters in the district are split right down the middle, 44/44, on whether they’d rather Democrats or Republicans had control of the State Senate. But Mathis is outrunning those numbers when it comes to how people are planning to vote on Tuesday. The big key for her is that she’s taking 16% of the GOP vote from Golding, while losing only 9% of the Democratic vote. That helps her make up for a 50-45 deficit with independents.
This election has been framed to some extent as a battle over gay marriage, but our poll suggests voters aren’t seeing it that way. They’re planning to vote for Mathis even as 46% of them say gay marriage should be illegal, compared to just 42% who think it should be legal. Although voters in the district may oppose gay marriage, only 11% say that issue is the most important factor guiding their vote compared to 86% who say it’s something else. It’s also worth noting that 66% of voters do support either gay marriage or civil unions with only 30% opposed to all legal recognition for same sex couples.
If this election’s not hinging on gay marriage, then what is making the difference here? Voters may be sending a message to Governor Terry Branstad. His approval rating in the district is only 39% with 42% disapproving of him. This special election is seen in some quarters as the product of a power grab by Branstad and if Mathis wins it could be indicative of an electorate that doesn’t want to enhance his power.
One other interesting thing to note here is that Barack Obama’s approval rating in the district is only 37% with 51% of voters disapproving of him, despite the fact that he won the district by a wide margin in 2008. On the one hand that obviously shows how far the President’s popularity has fallen over the last three years. On the other hand it shows that Democrats can still win even in territory where Obama’s numbers are bad enough to suggest he might be a problem for down ballot Dems.
• NY-St. Sen.: Kenneth Lovett at the New York Daily News is reporting that Republicans have entered into a non-aggression pact with four Democratic state senators who created their own “independent” caucus earlier this year. This quartet has pledged not to support current Democratic leadership if Dems nominally win back the chamber in 2012, which Republicans currently control by a 32-30 margin. In return, the GOP allegedly won’t support challenges to this rogue gang. (A Republican spokesman refused to confirm or deny the deal, so you know what that means.) Therefore, Democrats either need to win an extremely unlikely six seats next year to render the “independent Democrats” irrelevant, or they need to put someone forth as party leader who would be acceptable to them (if such a person even exists). Or just bribe the so-called IDC into falling in line.
• OH SB5: The elves at Public Policy Polling were very busy this weekend, seeing as they produced a third poll, this one of Ohio. Some good news: Voters still oppose Issue 2 by a wide margin, 59-36, making it look like GOP Gov. John Kasich’s signature piece of union-busting legislation is headed for a stark defeat. (Kasich, by the way, is at a 33-57 approval rating, almost the exact inverse of where Issue 2 is polling.) Incidentally, this time, PPP used both the exact wording of the ballot measure and the synopsis they’d previously used during the course of the year, in response to criticism that only asking the latter was yielding misleading numbers. But the results were almost identical, with respondents opposing the summary version 59-33.
Ohio has two other ballot measures up on Tuesday: Issue 3, a constitutional amendment which purports to bar implementation of the healthcare reform bill’s insurance mandate in Ohio, is up 49-35. That’s a tightening from 55-24 previously, though Tom Jensen thinks there is a good deal of voter confusion about this one. And Issue 1, which makes changes to the state’s judiciary that are favored by Republicans, is down 48-27, though again, a lot of voters don’t seem to understand it, and support or opposition doesn’t break down along partisan lines.
• SF Mayor: One interesting detail regarding Tuesday’s mayoral race in San Francisco: The election will be decided by instant runoff voting, which has actually been in place since 2004. It’s notable this year, though, because of the huge number of candidates on the ballot—16. Voters get to mark their top three choices.
• Special Elections: Because of the huge number of state legislative special elections this week, Johnny Longtorso has rounded them all up in his own post. Click through for all the goodness.
• AZ Redistricting: Arizona’s Supreme Court has expedited redistricting commissioner Colleen Mathis’s challenge to her ouster at the hands of the state Senate and GOP Gov. Jan Brewer last week, with a hearing scheduled for Nov. 17. The AP also reports that the court is likely to rule on Tuesday whether Mathis’s removal should be stayed while her case is pending. I think the fact that her suit wasn’t immediately dismissed as a political question unsuitable for judicial involvement is a positive sign, though of course the court could still rule that way later.
• MA redistricting: The Congressional maps in Massachusetts came out yesterday. There’s less drama associated with this than there would have been a few weeks ago, what with Rep. John Olver recently deciding to retire and making it easy for the legislature to cut the delegation down to 9 Dems instead of 10. You can find detailed versions of the maps here.
Maybe the most interesting change is Barney Frank’s 4th district, which may now be the state’s least-blue (relatively speaking, of course) district, thanks to losing blue-collar New Bedford and most of Fall River, picking up I-495 suburbs instead. Mike Capuano’s 7th (formerly the 8th) has also undergone some striking changes, apparently losing much of Cambridge; it looks like the goal was to turn it into a 50%+ minority-majority district (though no one minority in particular), reaching north to get majority-Hispanic towns like Chelsea as well as Randolph to Boston’s south (which has a large African-American population). Frosh Bill Keating is technically drawn into Stephen Lynch’s district (now the 8th), but assumedly will continue to run in the Cape Cod/South Shore district (now the 9th), which is made much safer by gaining New Bedford.
The old 1st, as expected, is the district that basically got vaporized; the Berkshires part of it ends up in Richard Neal’s new 1st (old 2nd), while the whole Pioneer Valley is now the western anchor of Jim McGovern’s new 2nd (old 3rd). (And the strange split of Northampton from Amherst is no longer… they’re both in the 2nd now.) Niki Tsongas’s 3rd (now the 5th) and John Tierney’s 6th retained their basic outlines.
• NC Redistricting: A second lawsuit has been filed against North Carolina’s new redistricting maps, this time by the NAACP and other civil rights groups. Like the case launched last week by Democratic elected officials, the plaintiffs here are alleging the new plans abrogate minority voting rights, which makes me think these two suits are ripe for consolidation.