• IL-02: Two more candidates have jumped into the Democratic primary to fill ex-Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s vacant seat: Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale and former Northwestern University football star Napoleon Harris, who was just elected to the state Senate earlier this month. They join ex-Rep. Debbie Halvorson, who announced on Monday. Shira Toeplitz also mentions yet another new name as a possibility that we hadn't seen before, Rev. Corey Brooks, an activist pastor.
And if you're wondering when this cavalcade of potential candidates will have to come to a halt, well, right now, the answer is Christmas eve. That's the current filing deadline, but officials are hoping to move it to a more convenient time (just as they are with the general election), perhaps to early January.
One other thing worth checking out is this cool mapping tool developed by local Democratic operative Scott Kennedy, which allows you to layer different jurisdictions and district lines on top of the borders of IL-02. It lets you see, for instance, how Calumet Township or Chicago's Ward 8 compares to the 2nd District (or any other relevant set of local boundaries you're interested in).
(Continue reading below the fold.)
• GA-Sen: If you've been following the news about congressional budget negotiations lately, you probably saw that a few Republicans offered some tentative critiques of conservative activist Grover Norquist and the anti-tax pledge he demands GOP office-seekers take. One such critic was Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who barked that Norquist "has no credibility, so I don't respond to him. He doesn't deserve being responded to."
But Norquist patiently answered back: "I'm sure he's a swell guy, and he'll keep his pledge at the end of the day." And indeed, Norquist turned out to be right. On Monday, Chambliss meekly tweeted that he's "not in favor of tax increases." Given the decent likelihood that Chambliss will face a serious primary challenge, it's a bit of a head-scratcher as to why he wanted to scrap with Norquist in the first place. Mindful of his standing with movement conservative, though, it's no surprise that Chambliss backed down, but now he just looks like a weakling.
• WV-Sen, WV-02: GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito's entry into West Virginia's Senate race on Monday has, predictably, set off three streams of speculation: One, will Dem Sen. Jay Rockefeller seek reelection, and if not, who might run in his stead? Two, will any other (more conservative) Republicans jump in to challenge her in the primary? And three, who might run (on both sides) for her now-open House seat in the 2nd District? We'll talk about all of these in this update.
Rocky is still being cagey about his plans, only saying, "I'll make that decision in time," and according to The Hill, offering "no timeline for the decision when pressed." Roll Call nevertheless adds a new possible name for a replacement candidate, in addition to those we've already taken note of: Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis. We also mentioned former prosecutor and Dept. of Environmental Protection chief Mike Callaghan as a potential WV-02 candidate; he now confirms he's interested in that race if Rockefeller runs again or the Senate seat if he quits.
Interestingly, that Roll Call article also quotes 1st District GOP Rep. David McKinley, who just won reelection to a second term, as refusing to rule out a Senate bid himself. He even mildly dinged Capito for her super-early announcement and could pose a potent challenge to her from the right were he to get in, especially if the Club for Growth backed his play. (And of course, a McKinley run would trigger a ton of interest in WV-01 as well.) Meanwhile, new NRSC chief Jerry Moran says his committee hasn't decided if it'll formally back Capito, probably mindful of the disastrous blowback Senate Republicans earned after endorsing Charlie Crist in 2010.
Returning to the 2nd District, The Hotline's Julie Sobel has lengthy roundup of potential candidates for both parties. Apart from names we've already mentioned, House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, state Dels. Eric Nelson and Patrick Lane, and former state party chair Mike Stuart have all expressed interest publicly for the Republicans. Other names includes state Sen. Mike Hall, Del. Jonathan Miller, current GOP chair Conrad Lucas, former state Sen. Steve Harrison, and attorney Charles Trump.
For Democrats, in addition to Callaghan, state Sens. Erik Wells and Herb Snyder, and former state party chair Nick Casey are all considering bids. One other possibility is 2008 nominee Anne Barth, who was a late replacement for state Senate Majority Leader John Unger after he unexpectedly dropped out that year. The primaries, of course, are a very long way off, but I wouldn't be surprised if we saw contested battles for both nominations.
• NJ-Gov: In a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll, GOP Gov. Chris Christie demolishes all comers, what with his sky-high post-Sandy approval ratings. Here's a rundown of his numbers against a broad array of potential Democratic contenders:
• 56-31 vs. state Sen. Richard Codey
• 58-22 vs. former Dem state chair Tom Byrne
• 60-22 vs. state Sen. Barbara Buono
• 60-21 vs. Assemblyman Lou Greenwald
Quinnipiac is also coming out with horserace numbers on Wednesday; in the meantime, they're teasing us with new job approval numbers for Christie that have him at 72-21! (That's up from 56-38 in October, in case you care.) Looks like recruitment is going to be pretty damn challenging for Team Blue.
• FL-18: Most people who lose re-election bids in their early 50s are unlikely to immediately rule out any possibility of a comeback, so I don't keep track of every vague pronouncement from recently turfed-out members of Congress. But Allen West is a special kind of nutter, so he gets special attention. In a new interview, West says of his possible future plans:
"That's not for now. Now is to show appreciation for all these folks that did so much. That's between my wife and I and God as far as where we're going to go. Folks have to understand that God orders your steps, not man, and better doors are going to open."Though it would be a bruising race, considering West ran about 4.5 percent behind Mitt Romney, he might not be the worst candidate for Rep.-elect Patrick Murphy to face in 2014, especially if it also meant a nasty GOP primary.
• KY-06: Several more Democrats are publicly saying they're open to a possible run in Kentucky's 6th District, where Dem Rep. Ben Chandler just lost to Republican attorney Andy Barr earlier this month. State Sen. R.J. Palmer, state Rep. Sannie Overly, and Young Democrats of American executive VP Colmon Elridge are all now putting themselves in the mix, joining former Lexington Mayor Teresa Isaac, who expressed interest almost immediately after election day. Count one guy out, though: current Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who just announced he'd seek reelection in 2014.
• LA-03: We missed this internal poll from GOP Rep. Charles Boustany when he first made it public a week ago, but the numbers are worth sharing nevertheless. Public Opinion Strategies went into the field on Nov. 11-12, right after the general election, and found Boustany pounding fellow GOP Rep. Jeff Landry 56-29 in the Dec. 8 runoff. Landry sniped at the numbers, noting that Boustany released a POS survey in early August that had him up over 35 points (you may remember that bizarro "Fred Green" poll) and well clear of runoff territory—but on election day, Boustany's actual lead was only 45 to 30. Landry's campaign claims their internals paint a different picture but is refusing to release them.
• NE-02: Democratic state Sen. Steve Lathrop has previously gone on record as considering a run for governor, and he was also a possible contender for Nebraska's open Senate seat this year (but wisely demurred). Now he's suggesting a new possibility: a bid for the House against GOP Rep. Lee Terry. We've taken special note of Terry's narrow escape this year—he defeated underfunded Democrat John Ewing by just two percent. But Ewing was aided by presidential-year turnout, something Lathrop would have to do without were he to run in 2014.
• Demographics: You're probably familiar with the claim that "demographics is destiny," but what if it's really "density is destiny?" (Cue George McFly.) Atlantic Cities displays a couple remarkable charts showing that counties with a density of below 800 persons per square mile voted heavily for Mitt Romney; those with a density above 800 persons per square mile voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama. (David Jarman)