• California: Check it out: Daily Kos Elections has put together an indispensible California congressional cheat sheet. It's been hard to keep track of who is running where, and which seats are actually competitive, in the wake of the state's radical new redistricting plan—which also rather unhelpfully deployed a new (and confusing) numbering scheme. But keep our cheat sheet bookmarked and you'll always be in the know.
• ND-AL: Kevin Cramer (R): $215K raised, $197K cash-on-hand
• IN-Sen: Sen. Dick Lugar is returning to the airwaves with an ad about how he's constantly opposed Obama (sure), but weirdly, his campaign hasn't even posted it online yet, though you can see snippets in this news report. Don't you get the maximum impact when you can actually show people your television spots?
Meanwhile, Lugar's Republican primary opponent, Treasurer Richard Mourdock, is also going up with TV ads—his first—but the buy is for an embarrassingly puny $4,000. (Why they admitted that is beyond me.) You can watch the spot, which predictably goes after Lugar for his many apostasies, here. I've said all along that Mourdock will need some serious outside assistance to unseat Lugar, but so far, the usual suspects (like the Club for Growth) have been AWOL… and Mourdock really could use some help at this point.
• NE-Sen: Republican pollster Magellan took a look at a possible Bob Kerrey comeback bid and finds him with a dead-even 43-43 favorability rating and losing to two Republican contenders they tested: AG Jon Bruning is ahead 51-40 and Treasurer Don Stenberg leads 47-39. Magellan also asked about two other potential Democratic candidates: state Sen. Steve Lathrop and former Lt. Gov. Kim Robak, both of whom trail by even wider margins—but that's because of their much lower name recognition. Indeed, neither Republican gets more than 52% in any matchup. Several folks have also noted that the sample composition seems to be a bit red, at 55R, 34D and 11I.
Bob Menendez (D-inc): 43 (49)
Joe Kyrillos (R): 31 (28)
Undecided: 26 (22)
Bob Menendez (D-inc): 43
Anna Little (R): 31
• NY-Sen: LOL. These new Siena poll numbers for Dem Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand are pretty funny: 63-22 over Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos and 62-23 over 2010 state comptroller candidate Harry Wilson. Siena didn't test TheLadders.com founder Marc Cenedella, not that it would have made a difference.
• PA-Sen: Tea Partier Laureen Cummings probably rates just high enough to be worthy of a mention here: She dropped out of the Senate race and endorse businessman Tim Burns instead. Not exactly a move that's going to have a major impact, though, since her campaign was going nowhere.
• AL-02: No comeback bid for ex-Rep. Bobby Bright, who served a single term before losing a very tight race in an extremely tough district in 2010 to Republican Martha Roby. There had only been the vaguest of hints that Bright was thinking about a rematch, so this development isn't exactly surprising, but one interesting note is that, much like had had before his initial run in 2008, Bright was considering a run either as a Democrat or a Republican. (Bright's previous job, serving as mayor of Montgomery, was technically non-partisan.) Unlike that fool Parker Griffith in the 5th CD at the other end of the state, Bright probably realized he was screwed either way and wisely decided to stay away.
• AL-04: Alabama was one of two states whose congressional filing deadline was Friday. (The other was neighboring Mississippi.) Democrats managed to field candidates in five of the state's six GOP-held seats, but since all are safely red, it's hard to imagine anything interesting happening, especially since these guys are all pretty much Some Dudes.
One unusual exception, first noted in comments late last week is state Rep. Daniel Boman, running in Bob Aderholt's AL-04, one of the reddest seats in the nation. If Boman's name sounds at all familiar, it's because he's the fellow who made the incredibly unusual move of switching from the Republicans to the Democrats last year, after winning a fluke race in a heavily Dem district in 2010. Alabama state House terms last four years, so this is a free shot for Boman, and may constitute an attempt to prove his Democrat bona fides to help him survive an almost inevitable primary challenge in 2014.
• AR-04: It looks like D.C. Morrison, the conservative Some Dude who helped force a run-off in last cycle's Democratic Senate primary between incumbent Blanche Lincoln and Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, is running for office again, this time in the open 4th CD. Democrats have a legit recruit here in the form of state Sen. Gene Jeffress, so hopefully Morrison won't crumb the play.
• CA-21: Democrats have gotten a little bit desperate ever since state Sen. Michael Rubio unexpectedly dropped out of the race for the open 21st CD late last month. Republican Assemblyman David Valadao has been running a vigorous campaign for this swingish seat (which, by my math, really represents a place where Democrats are playing defense), but Team Blue presently doesn't have a candidate. Everyone is still waiting on former state Sen. Dean Florez to make up his mind, but in the meantime, Dems are trying to recruit Fresno City Councilmember Blong Xiong. There's just one difficulty with this idea: Fresno is in the neighboring 16th CD, not the 21st.
• CA-26: Wonder if this had anything to do with GOP Rep. Elton Gallegly's decision to retire….
• CA-30: Hoo boy, this is a big one. The California SEIU, which has 700,000 members, just endorsement Rep. Howard Berman, who of course is running against fellow Rep. Brad Sherman in the Democratic primary in the 30th. While Sherman represents a much larger portion of the new 30th than Berman does (58% vs. 20%), it's Berman who's been locking up most of the major endorsements. I'm starting to feel like Sherman might really get burned here.
• CA-31: This is probably the clearest sign so far that Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar, who jumped into the Democratic primary just last week, is legit: Businessman Russ Warner, who unsuccessfully ran twice in a predecessor to this district and was hoping the third time would be the charm, is dropping out of the race. Instead, Warner will run for the state Assembly's 40th District against GOP Assemblyman Mike Morrell.
• MS-04, MS-01, MS-02: Rounding up the filings in Mississippi, it doesn't look like we'll see much action here, either. In MS-04, longtime Dem Rep. Gene Taylor unsurprisingly decided against a comeback, though he held the door open (very slightly) to a possible run in the future. On the Republican side, Rep. Steven Palazzo (the guy who beat Taylor last cycle) managed to avoid a serious primary challenge, with the two biggest names that had been mentioned—state Sen. Michael Watson and attorney Brian Sanderson—both taking a pass. This development is fairly surprising, since Palazzo started looking like a fuckup very quickly into his brief tenure, and as a freshman, he's at his most vulnerable. Too bad.
Meanwhile, in MS-01, won by Democrat Travis Childers in a major upset victory in 2008 but lost, of course, in 2010, Childers' former chief-of-staff Brad Morris decided to run. (I don't think there'd ever been any suggestion that Childers himself might try again.) And in the state's only Dem-held seat, Bennie Thompson's MS-02, former Greenville Mayor Heather McTeer did indeed file to run in the Democratic primary, though her campaign has raised very little to date.
• OR-01: Hmm. What are we to make of this? Republican Rob Cornilles is touting an internal poll from Moore Information showing him down just four points to Suzanne Bonamici, 46-42. The two public polls of this race, a recent one from SurveyUSA and an older one from PPP, both had Bonamici up 11. I'm tempted to say that the NRCC's lack of spending here matters more than Cornilles' internal, but NY-09 also saw an absence of national Republican money until the very last second, and we all know how that turned out. Of course, these two districts are rather different in most respects, but it's hard not to feel a little antsy after Bob Turner's September upset. Still, one major problem the GOP would face even if they did try to parachute in here at the last minute is that ballots have already been mailed and every day Republicans wait, Bonamici's lead gets locked in even further.
• PA-03: Attorney Ron DiNicola, who almost knocked off GOP Rep. Phil English in this district back in 1996 (losing by just 1.4%), will not run against Republican freshman Mike Kelly. DiNicola also won't seek retiring GOP state Sen. Jane Earll's seat, a top Democratic pickup opportunity we've mentioned previously, thanks to its blue lean.
• PA-07: Keegan Gibson at PoliticsPA writes that Democrats are growing increasingly antsy as they wait for ex-Rep. Joe Sestak to make a decision about a possible comeback bid for his old seat, particularly since campaigns have just three weeks to gather signatures to get on the ballot, starting Jan. 24. Real estate investor Arlin Green is getting talked up as a possible alternative to take on freshman GOPer Pat Meehan, but Green himself isn't commenting. Gibson also mentions in passing that newspaperman Doug Pike, who heavily self-funded an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination in PA-06 last cycle, won't run here. This is the first time I'd seen Pike's name come up in connection with the 7th, though Pike suggested last summer that he might seek a rematch in the 6th.
• WA-01: Here's some evidence that the GOP isn't exactly comfortable with having Snohomish County Councilor (and narrow '10 WA-02 loser) John Koster as their standard-bearer in the newly swingy 1st. PubliCola hears that the GOP has been trying to recruit state Sen. Andy Hill, from the upscale suburban part of the district, into the race, but that he's said no. While I haven't mentioned Hill in the digest before, I've said in comments that he's the Republican in the district who'd scare me most—much more so than Koster, whose borderline-Paulism is a great fit for the rural parts of the district but a terrible fit for the Microsoft suburbs. On the one hand, Hill is only a freshman, having knocked off flaky Dem incumbent Eric Oemig in the Dem-leaning, Redmond-based LD-45 in 2010, but on the other hand, he's an old-school moderate suburban Republican, and one with that "up-and-comer" sheen to him. (David Jarman)
• WV-02: Attorney Thornton Cooper, who is in charge of candidate recruitment for the Kanawha County Democratic Executive Committee and is also one of the litigants who successfully sought to overturn the legislature's congressional map, says he will run against Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito if no one else can be found.
• NY-St. Sen: Democratic NYC Councilman Lew Fidler formally kicked off his campaign for Karl Kruger's vacant state Senate seat on Monday, and also secured the backing of the Independence Party. Meanwhile, GOP candidate David Storobin says he's already raised $70K and has chipped in $50K of his own money in the form of a loan. Fidler, for his part, says he has "at least" $400K on hand, which is a good number, but also shows that his fundraising really slowed down in the second half of the year. (He reported $330K in the bank at the mid-point of 2011.)
• PA-AG: As expected, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party did not endorse anyone for attorney general at its state committee meeting this past weekend. The hurdle was quite high: Candidates needed to clear a two-thirds majority to secure the party's official backing. Former PA-08 Rep. Patrick Murphy came close, getting 191 votes on the second ballot (just over 60%) to 125 for former Philadelphia prosecutor Dan McCaffery. Both men, along with former Lackawanna prosecutor Kathleen Kane, say they will continue to seek the Democratic nomination.
• Census: If you spend a lot of time looking at Census data, you've probably noticed that "Hispanic" gets listed separately as an ethnicity, not as a race, leaving Hispanics, when filling out the "race" portion of the Census, to choose between being white, black, Native American, or "some other race." (The split between "white" and "some other" seems to break down about half-and-half, though this seems to vary from place to place, and from nationality to nationality, such as Mexican-Americans vs. Cuban-Americans.) The New York Times has an interesting new look at this problem, how the Census Bureau is struggling to make sense of it, and how individual Latinos weigh the factors in the decision on which box to check. (David Jarman)
• Passings: Former West Virginia Gov. Hulett Smith died on Sunday at the age of 93. Smith, a Democrat, served from 1965 to 1969, back when West Virginia limited its governors to a single term.
• WATN?: Former Dem Rep. Marion Berry of Arkansas, who cited health concerns when he retired in 2010, is currently undergoing treatment for cancer. Berry had surgery on a brain tumor last year and was later diagnosed with lymphoma. Needless to say, we wish him the best.
• AZ Redistricting: Arizona's independent redistricting commission will soon breathe a huge sigh of relief: On Tuesday, they'll vote to adopt final maps for the state, now that all necessary internal reviews have been complete. The only changes deal with correcting a few split precincts. Then it's off to the Justice Department for preclearance, but I haven't seen any suggestion that there might be any Voting Rights Act-related issues lurking here. Major props to independent commissioner Colleen Mathis, for keeping her cool under unprecedented fire (including, of course, Gov. Jan Brewer's failed impeachment attempt) and for a job well done.
• CT Redistricting: Sounds like Republicans are about ready to give up the ghost: State House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero says the GOP will likely ask the state supreme court to reconsider the special master's new congressional map, but even Cafero acknowledges such a request probably won't go anywhere. Cafero, incidentally, has been one of the whiniest whiners about redistricting in the entire nation. Check this out:
In effect, said Cafero, the court engaged in a "charade" by bringing in the high-priced legal expert to recommend an overly simplified solution to the redistricting impasse with which Republicans and Democrats on the bipartisan Redistricting Commission ended 2011. The same report could have been done "by a clerk with a calculator," he said.
Cafero sounds like a patient who visits a Park Avenue oncologist and then is pissed to find out that the growth is benign and invasive surgery won't be necessary. There's a good reason why the court mandated the master follow a "least change" approach: The 2001 map passed by the legislature is the only expression of the people's will that is available to guide the court, since Connecticut's redistricting panel was unable to reach agreement this time around. Engaging in radical changes to the prior map would involve substituting the court's judgment for the legislature's—a bad idea when the only legal violation asserted (population inequality) can be remedied with minor changes. What petulant Republicans wanted was, indeed, judicial activism. Glad to see them get smacked down.
• TN Redistricting: That was quick: Tennessee's legislature approved new congressional and legislative maps on Friday, just a week after the plans were first publicly introduced. Now they go to GOP Gov. Bill Haslam, who is expected to sign them.
• TX Redistricting: We previously mentioned that if Texas's primaries are delayed yet again, they could jeopardize both parties' state conventions, which are scheduled for June and for which hefty deposits have already been paid. But what struck me most is how little money the Texas Republicans have in the bank:
With contractual obligations to host as many as 18,000 people June 7-9 at the Fort Worth Convention Center, the Republican Party of Texas could be on the hook for "hundreds of thousands of dollars," Elam said, if the convention doesn't go on as planned.
And with about $640,000 cash on hand, Elam said, a hit that big would be significant, especially for a party that was $500,000 in the red in 2010.
Democrats aren't exactly well off, with only $141K in their coffers, though it's been a long time since Texas Dems were flush. But for the biggest political party in the second-biggest state in the nation, I'm surprised to see the GOP living hand-to-mouth like this.
• VA Redistricting: The GOP-drawn incumbent-protection map that has been kicking around since early last year cleared Virginia's full state House on Friday and now moves on to the state Senate, where passage is also expected.
• WI Redistricting: This was all so bloody predictable. You'll recall that last year, Wisconsin Republicans forced through a new set of redistricting plans before local municipalities could redraw their wards, as state law (and tradition) had always called for. Instead, to draft their maps, the legislature relied on data from the Census Bureau, which is riddled with inaccuracies (and indeed had caused problems a decade earlier as well). The problem is so grave that the state's Government Accountability Board said that in some cases, they literally cannot comply with the laws describing the new district lines. An example:
For example, lawmakers used census maps that were off by 0.1 mile in part of Rock County, making it appear that nine houses in Janesville were instead in the Town of Harmony. Likewise, a Town of Harmony house incorrectly appeared to be in Janesville in the data the Legislature used.
That creates a problem because Janesville residents cannot be given a Town of Harmony ballot, the memo noted.
The GAB has identified numerous errors just like this one, affecting thousands of voters. And time is running short to fix them all, because Wisconsin's so-called "spring primary" for local offices is coming up on Feb. 21. And note that "fixing" these issues actually means violating the law as written. What a mess, and a completely avoidable one, too.
• WV Redistricting: Senate Majority Leader John Unger, one of the main forces behind the lawsuit which found West Virginia's congressional map unconstitutional due to population inequality issues, says he's working on gathering support in the legislature for an alternative plan. I haven't seen a map yet, but Phil Kabler of the Charleston Gazette describes it as follows:
Unlike the "perfect population plan" he proposed during the special session on redistricting, the new plan has several revisions to make it more palatable to legislators, particularly in that it does not split Kanawha or Harrison counties, nor does it put Republican incumbents Shelley Moore Capito and David McKinley in the same district.
It links the fast-growing Eastern Panhandle with fast-growing north central West Virginia in the 1st District -- or at least Monongalia and Marion counties; Harrison would go into the 2nd. The proposed 1st would also include the Northern Panhandle, which critics might say could make McKinley vulnerable to a candidate from the Eastern Panhandle.
It also creates a relatively compact 2nd District, with Kanawha as the southernmost county.