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Leading Off:

VA-Gov: I have to say, I didn't expect to start the new election cycle off quite so right—and by "starting off right," I mean, gorging on heaping helpings of delicious cat fud. (Not familiar with the term? See here.) Just a couple of days after departing the 2013 gubernatorial race (and threatening to run indie), GOP Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling said he won't endorse the man who squeezed him out, AG Ken Cuccinelli, in stark terms:

"I have no intentions to endorse a candidate in the campaign for governor. I have serious reservations about his ability to effectively and responsibly lead the state. And given those reservations, I could not in good conscience endorse his candidacy for governor."
And now the fud is getting flung in both directions, with state GOP chair Pat Mullins dinging Bolling for his actions and words:
"I am disappointed by Lt. Governor Bolling's remarks over the past 48 hours. Lt. Governor Bolling has a stellar record of public service, and has long been a strong voice for the conservative cause.  Nowhere in his statements does he mention a policy disagreement with the Attorney General.

The proper venue for challenging a fellow Republican is during a nomination contest. Lt. Governor Bolling chose to suspend his campaign. I hope he will take his own words to heart and work to bring our Party together."

If this is what they're saying publicly, imagine what Republicans are saying privately. But they have to choose their words carefully—note Mullins praising Bolling's "stellar record of public service"—to preserve any hopes of bringing their wayward lieutenant governor back into the fold. This oughta be fun!

Senate:

GA-Sen: Alas, the dream has died. Erick son of Erick, founder of the conservative blog RedState, says he won't challenge Sen. Saxby Chambliss in the GOP primary after all. Not that he was ever anything but full of shit about such a possibility, but it was fun to imagine. Oh well! Hey, anyone know what Dean Chambers is up to these days?

Actually, while we're on the topic, Aaron Blake has an interesting observation about why Chambliss seems so likely to be the next target of wingnut ire. Chambliss has an incredibly conservative voting record, but the problem is that he just doesn't sound like a frothing mouth-breather. Says a Chambliss consultant: "There are people that just want Saxby to blast the Democrats; that's not his style." That's a very serious problem in modern GOP politics, as I've written before:

It's important to remember that to remain a member in good standing of the conservative movement, it isn't enough just to vote a certain way. You have to evidence a very particular tribal belonging—you need to hate the right people, be ignorant of the right facts, be fearful of the right bogeymen, and be arrogant about the whole enterprise. If you somehow fail this tribal litmus test, it doesn't matter how right-wing you are.
Chambliss might soon discover what life looks like if his conservative pH score proves insufficient.

IL-Sen: PPP's new Illinois Senate poll is exactly the snoozer you'd expect: Dem Sen. Dick Durbin leads a generic Republican opponent 52-38, but Generic R actually does better than any actual, living, breathing potential GOP candidate. Durbin beats outgoing Reps. Bob Dold! and Joe Walsh 54-33 and 54-29 respectively, as well as failed 2010 Senate primary hopeful (and tea partier) Patrick Hughes. Mostly, I'm just glad that Tom's given us the opportunity mention Bob Dold! one last time. Bob Dold!

KY-Sen: I'd never imagined that Dem Rep. John Yarmuth would ever consider statewide office, but in case you had him on your watch list, no, he won't be running for Senate against Mitch McConnell in 2014.

NH-Sen, -01 -Gov: GOP Rep. Frank Guinta, who was just turfed in a rematch by Democrat Carol Shea-Porter, is already thinking about a possible comeback bid. According to Shira Toeplitz's sources, Guinta is most interested in a bid against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen next cycle, but Guinta himself says that bids for Senate or governor are possible, as well as a rubber match against CSP. I don't view Guinta as a particularly imposing force, though New Hampshire's small size and lack of statewide elected posts means both parties perennially have small benches, so I suppose the GOP could do worse. But Guinta also has some lingering ethical issues regarding alleged campaign finance improprieties, and he'd also potentially have to deal with ex-Sen. John Sununu, if Sununu tries for a rubber game of his own against Shaheen.

SD-Sen, -AL: On Thursday, when ex-Gov. Mike Rounds announced he'd run for the Senate, I cautioned that while his entry might appear to be a field-clearing move, the possibility of "true conservative" challenge couldn't be ruled out. And indeed, Rep. Kristi Noem, who just won re-election, is refusing to rule out the possibility of her own Senate bid, though she's saying it's too early to discuss and isn't offering any timetable about a possible decision. On paper, she'd appear to have a tough time against the better-known and more established Rounds, but if she could capture some of that movement conservative lightning in a bottle, an upset would be possible. Win or lose, though, Dem Sen. Tim Johnson has to hope for a nasty, hotly contested GOP primary.

Gubernatorial:

NJ-Gov: Another day, another set of gaudy poll numbers for GOP Gov. Chris Christie, whose 67-25 job approval rating makes him the most popular governor in PPP's polling. PPP also finds a similar picture to what Rutgers and Quinnipiac have found on the re-election front, though Cory Booker "only" trails by 14 (versus somewhat larger margins in those other polls). Everyone's still getting killed, though:

• 50-36 vs. Cory Booker

• 53-31 vs. Richard Codey

• 57-20 vs. Steve Sweeney

• 60-20 vs. Barbara Buono

• 61-25 vs. Bruce Springsteen

Sadly, Christie nets his highest score against The Boss, even though he has the highest favorability rating—54 favorable, 23 unfavorable—of any Democrat! I guess Bruce simply wasn't born to run.

House:

AR-Sen, AR-02: GOP Rep. Tim Griffin, who just won a second term in office and had been thinking about a run for Senate, says he won't take the plunge. Griffin just scored a spot on the coveted Ways and Means Committee and at just 44 years old, he has plenty of time to rise through the ranks in the House. (Had he run, his 2nd District seat would have offered a temping target for Democrats, since it's now the bluest in Arkansas, based on demographics alone. But it sure ain't blue, just based on presidential results: Obama lost 55-43.)

Other Races:

NM-St. House: This is just nuts. Every few years or so, you hear about some election for some obscure office somewhere where both candidates wind up with the exact same vote tally, but this surely is just about the highest-level tie in quite some time anywhere in the nation. In the race for New Mexico's 37th state House District, GOP Rep. Terry McMillan and Democratic challenger Joanne Ferrary both have exactly 6,247 votes. The race will now undergo a recount, of course, and if there's still a tie at that point, well, according to local news station KFOX14, "the winner will be decided in a game of chance." So you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky?

P.S. Wanna know something even crazier? In their respective primaries earlier this year, McMillan and Ferrary each received 1,007 votes. Absurd, right? Also worth noting is that the DLCC identified HD-37 as one if its 60 "Essential Races" earlier this year. Talk about every vote counting!

NY-St. Sen: The battle over the brand-new 46th Senate District between Republican Assemblyman George Amedore Democrat Mr. Mxyzptlk Cecilia Tkaczyk has, as expected, moved to the courts. Amedore currently holds a 110-vote lead, but of the 877 disputed (and as-yet unopened) ballots, roughly 680 were challenged by his attorneys. That's good news for Tkaczyk, since campaigns in tight situations like this often make spurious (or at least, extremely longshot) objections to ballots they suspect have been cast for their opponent. Now a judge will decide which ballots to count (a process expected to take at least a week), and odds are, Tkaczyk will prevail in the end.

And if she does, that would give Senate Democrats at least an outside shot at claiming control of the chamber, if they can persuade Jeff Klein and his gang of four obstructionists to actually, you know, support their own party instead of the GOP. Of course, Klein's gone on record as saying he prefer to work out a deal with Dean Skelos and the Republicans, so this may be a false hope. But I'd rather have more Democrats than fewer, if only to embarrass Klein further—and to set us up for more gains in the future so that Klein will hopefully become irrelevant.

Grab Bag:

WATN?: I guess we can count Jason Altmire out for any possible comebacks: The Democratic congressman, who lost in a primary against fellow Rep. Mark Critz earlier this year, is relocating to Jacksonville, Florida to become senior vice president for "public policy, government and community affairs" at Florida Blue, which is the Florida branch of the Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance giant. In addition to quitting Pennsylvania, Altmire's new title basically amounts to "lobbyist," which is not a very helpful resume-builder for a return to Congress.

In other similar Where Are They Now? news, soon-to-be-ex-Rep. Heath Shuler is also making a similar move, taking a job as "senior vice president of federal affairs" (again, "lobbyist") for Duke Energy. Shuler of course opted to retire rather than seek re-election, so a comeback bid never seemed in the cards for him. Duke, though, is based in North Carolina, so presumably Shuler will be staying close to home.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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