• MO-08: It's our second resignation of the 113th Congress—and the 113th Congress hasn't even begun yet. Veteran GOP Rep. Jo Ann Emerson says she will depart the House in February to take a job as head of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, a lobbying organization for rural utility companies. (NRECA also happens to be Emerson's biggest all-time campaign contributor.) Emerson's resignation will trigger a special election, of course, and in Missouri, nominations for specials are handled by a committee of party leaders—there's no primary. That'll give Emerson a chance to influence who her successor is, but who might that be?
The Great Mentioner has already kicked into high gear regarding possible replacements for Emerson: Analyst Jeff Smith thinks Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, former Treasurer and failed 2010 Senate candidate Sarah Steelman, outgoing state Sens. Jason Crowell and Kevin Engler, and state party executive director Lloyd Smith could all make a go of it. Nathan Gonzales offers the same list, adding state Rep. Todd Richardson but also saying that Kinder and Smith look to have the inside track. (Both have ties to the Emerson family: Smith was Emerson's former chief of staff, and Kinder worked for Emerson's late husband Bill, whom she succeeded in Congress.) Joshua Miller tosses on a couple more: state Reps. Jason Smith and state Sen.-elect Wayne Wallingford.
And if you were wondering, I wouldn't hold out much hope for an upset possibility: We haven't crunched the most recent election results yet, but the 8th District went 60-38 for John McCain in 2008, which means it's extremely red territory. Emerson did draw a well-funded challenge from Iraq vet Tommy Sowers in 2010, but despite spending $1.6 million, he took less than 29 percent of the vote. If anything, I'd guess the 2012 numbers were worse for Team Blue than 2008's, so this is really going to be a GOP-only affair.
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On a broader note, Democrats are trying to frame Emerson's departure as the loss of yet another "moderate" Republican lawmaker, but to call Emerson a "moderate" shows just how far to the right her party has lurched. She's departed from conservative orthodoxy on a few occasions but has otherwise been a reliable vote for the GOP. And yet, just given trends over the last couple of decades, we're likely to wind up with a replacement even further to the right.
And here's some empirical support for the point we're trying to make about Emerson's supposed moderation. Using Prof. Keith Poole's DW-Nominate scores, it's possible to evaluate where on the spectrum of the entire House of Representatives Emerson has fallen ideologically, Congress by Congress. The number represents Emerson's rank overall, with 1 being the most liberal member:
As you can see, Emerson was always to the right of the median member (which would be defined as no. 217.5), lurching even further to the right in the 110th and 111th Congresses (when many more Democrats were elected, giving them control of the House). In the 112th, she snapped back—all the way to dead center, as it happens, because of the opposite phenomenon: So many more Republicans, particularly hyper-conservative tea partiers, won in 2010. So if you still want to call Emerson a "moderate," it's only because of the wild shift right-ward her entire party's undergone.
• AK-Sen: GOP Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, whose name has already been mentioned as a possible candidate, says he's forming an exploratory committee to look at a potential challenge to Dem Sen. Mark Begich. Treadwell is a wealthy oilman who first sough (and won) office in 2010, largely self-funding his campaign. If he does take the plunge, he'll probably fill the "establishment candidate" role, which suggests there's plenty of room for "insurgent wingnut" to run as well.
• SD-Sen: If Dem Sen. Tim Johnson decides to retire rather than seek re-election, the bench of possible replacements is short, but here's one more name: U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, who is Tim's son. While it's not the sort of post that offers a lot of name rec, serving as a USA can offer a great springboard for public office, especially for a Democrat in a red state. You develop political connections, and you also get to craft a law-and-order record that is mostly free of partisan entanglements. (For instance, former U.S. Attorney Dave Freudenthal managed the unlikely feat of winning the Wyoming governorship as a Democrat in 2002.) So if Johnson bows out and ex-Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin isn't interested, Johnson may be the next best bet for Team Blue.
• SC-Sen, KS-Sen: Lindsey Graham is one of those Republican senators who, despite being very conservative, is occasionally a bit wobbly on things like taxes and thus is the kind of guy the tea party set would love to oust. The problem is that they don't have a whole lot of potential takers, though at least state Sen. Tom Davis is now publicly mulling a run. But Davis is vague about a potential timetable and says he's declined to meet with some DC-based groups that have been trying to recruit him, so nothing may come of this.
The same article also suggests, Great Mentioner-style, that ex-Rep. Todd Tiahrt could possibly primary Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts. That's not a name you usually hear on watch-lists, but Politico says Roberts' sin is that he's "remained silent on the issue of tax increases." So now it's not just taking the opposing side which earns you movement conservative ire—failing to be a sufficient loudmouth is also a crime.
• TN-Sen: Tennessee Democrats have absolutely no bench (witness this year's Mark Clayton disaster), so the one guy everyone always talks to for every race is 69-year-old ex-Gov. Phil Bredesen, the last Dem to win statewide. Unsurprisingly, though, Bredesen says he has pretty much no interest in taking on GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander in 2014. Bredesen cautions that he's "always careful to never say 'never, never, never, never,'" but, well, he's just being careful.
• KY-Gov: Former Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo, who narrowly lost two Senate races (in the general in 2004 and in the Democratic primary in 2010), says he's "looking at" a possible gubernatorial bid in 2015, when current Gov. Steve Beshear is term-limited out. He joins a huge crowd of other top-name Dems who are looking at the job, though... for a contest that is, after all, still three years off.
• WA-Gov: Here's the futile uphill slog that Washington state Republicans are facing, boiled down to one handy map. The Seattle Times has put out a precinct-level map of gubernatorial race data in King and Snohomish Counties, showing just how little traction Rob McKenna, the most electable candidate the GOP could have possibly scraped up, got in the state's most populous areas. (David Jarman)
• CA-51: This matters only from a housekeeping perspective: Dem Rep. Bob Filner, who won the San Diego mayoral race last month, resigned from the House on Monday so that he could be sworn in as mayor. That leaves his seat open for the remainder of the lame duck session, but it will be filled in January by Democrat Juan Vargas, the victor of the contest to succeed Filner in Congress.
• IL-02: Whoever prevails in the Democratic primary to replace ex-Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. is almost certainly going to win with a very small plurality. Cook County Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly just became the seventh candidate to announce her entry into the race, following state Sen. Donne Trotter late last week and five others before that. According to Shira Toeplitz, two potential candidates have pulled their names from consideration, though: Rev. Corey Brooks and Alderman Will Burns.
There's still plenty of time before the filing deadline, which is not until Jan. 7 (PDF). Democratic hopefuls have to submit 1,256 valid signatures to appear on the ballot. Also, Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation on Sunday that formally moves the date of the IL-02 special general election to April 9, to consolidate it with already-scheduled municipal elections that are taking place that day. The primary—which is the only meaningful race—will still take place on Feb. 26.
• LA-03: A new poll of the LA-03 runoff by PMI, Inc., on behalf of the conservative website Red Racing Horses, finds GOP Rep. Charles Boustany leading fellow GOP Rep. Jeff Landry 51-33 in Saturday's fast-approaching runoff. That's a little better for Landry than the 56-29 edge Boustany held in his own internal a few weeks ago, but it's hard to call those numbers particularly good news. Both candidates also filed pre-runoff fundraising reports with the FEC late last month, and Boustany cleaned up there as well: Between Oct. 18 and Nov. 18, he pulled in $887K and spent over a $1 million, while Landry amassed just $300K and spent $750K.
But that's somewhat balanced out by the fact that outside spending has, to date, tilted slightly in Landry's favor. According to Roll Call, third party groups have spent $800K on his behalf, versus $600K coming in for Boustany. The edge is definitely still Boustany's—Landry has disputed his opponent's polling but refuses to provide any of his own—and so we still have the race at "Lean Boustany." But Landry prevailed in his first race in 2010 by upsetting the establishment (in huge fashion), and his brand of movement conservatism seems more likely to drive hardcore supporters to the polls in a low turnout runoff, so a repeat performance is still possible.
• NY-01: A conservative group with the lulzy name of "Patriots for Freedom" is trying to dissuade Republican Randy Altschuler from a third run at Dem Rep. Tim Bishop by means of a post-election poll which, they say, shows that Altschuler is "simply unelectable" because of his "record of outsourcing American jobs to India, his failure to win a significant majority of Republican votes, and his lack of interparty appeal." I've never heard of this organization before, though, nor have I heard of their pollster ("In The Field Consulting"), but at least one of their findings looks seriously suspect. They claim (based on a one-day sample of just 300 respondents) that Altschuler only took 60% of the GOP vote, while Bishop took 30%. That level of crossover support is almost impossible to believe, so I'm skeptical of this whole thing.
• TN-04: Not going down without a fight, it seems: Disgraced GOP Rep. Scott DesJarlais says that he has "no intention of resigning his seat and will seek reelection in 2014," according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Helpfully, he also adds that God has "forgiven me." But if DesJarlais really does stick to his guns, he's gonna have a much tougher time: As a physician, DesJarlais received heavy support from medical PACs, which gave his campaign $71K in 2012. But half a dozen are now saying they plan to abandon him, and another six say they haven't decided—while none, of course, are affirmatively sticking with him, according to a canvass undertaken by the Times Free Press.
This particular exercise also offers a telling window into just how clueless some of these political shops can be, particularly those which reflexively support politicians based on things like profession rather than any other merits. Take these remarks from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons' NeurosurgeryPAC, which donated $2,000 to DesJarlais:
"Until this week, we had no knowledge of any of the allegations made against Rep. DesJarlais. ... I believe I can safely say that NeurosurgeryPAC will not be contributing to Rep. DesJarlais in the future."I'm pretty amazed that someone whose job it is to figure out which candidates to support and give money to somehow didn't hear about DesJarlais's unreal story until just now—and I'm also amazed they'd cop to it. This is probably as good an illustration as any of the difference between "smart money" and, well, dumb money.
• Ballot Measures: Governing's Louis Jacobson is out with an interesting list of below-the-radar ballot measures where the result went "against type," in other words, not what you'd expect out of the state. Maybe the best-known one is Oregon's marijuana legalization measure, which failed (unlike those in Washington and Colorado), primarily for lack of money. Jacobson also discusses the GMO food labeling in California and education reform in Idaho and South Dakota (which failed), and an indoor smoking ban in North Dakota and a land conservation measure in Alabama (which passed). (David Jarman)
• OH-Treas: Hey, maybe we can beat him again: Republican Josh Mandel, who ran one of the most disgusting, lie-filled campaigns of 2012 and lost despite an astounding $40 million spent to vilify his opponent, Dem Sen. Sherrod Brown, says his "plan" is to seek re-election as state treasurer in 2014. He certainly doesn't sound fully committed to the idea, though, so I wouldn't be surprised if he bailed for something that involved more money and (even) less work.
P.S. Mandel's already doing Democratic opposition researchers some favors by hiring back some of his old political cronies to the Treasurer's office. Mandel (rightly) got a lot of crap in the Senate race for all of the unqualified patronage hires he made, but I guess he just can't resist throwing his old bros some taxpayer coin.
• Governors: Univ. of Minnesota's Smart Politics skewers one enduring piece of conventional wisdom: that governors have a big impact on being able to shape who wins the presidential race in their state, thanks to deploying their political machine (or, if you're one of the conspiracy-minded types, machines). In 2012, the majority (11 of 16) of the states decided by single-digits in the presidential race went the other direction from the state's governor. And historically, of all the elections since 1968, states have voted for a presidential candidate from the other party than that of the state's reigning governor 50.2% of the time; you can't get much more random than that. (David Jarman)
• House GOP: Looks like there's been an interesting behind-the-scenes wipeout of some of the most notorious dystopian wreckers who've been a thorn in Speaker John Boehner's side. The GOP Steering Committee has removed Reps. David Schweikert (AZ-06) and Walter Jones (NC-03) from the Financial Services Committee, and Reps. Justin Amash (MI-03) and Tim Huelskamp (KS-01) from the Budget Committee—reportedly all for failing to support their own party with sufficient gusto.
Indeed, Roll Call says that committee members "reviewed a spreadsheet listing each GOP lawmaker and how often he or she had voted with leadership," so it's no surprise to see that this quartet failed to make the cut. Jones has been an occasional gadfly from the left (mostly on foreign policy), but the other three, especially Amash, practically live to give Boehner agita, as I've written about before. Amash has been the biggest offender when it comes to voting against Republican budgetary measures, and renegades like him brought Boehner close to the brink more than once last year.
And you'll also recall that Schweikert defeated fellow Rep. Ben Quayle in a redistricting-induced primary earlier this year. The well-connected Quayle was the favorite of House leaders, and John Boehner went out of his way to fluff him. That led the Club for Growth to threaten Boehner to stay out of the primary—which he did, but in the end, it seems like he'll get the last laugh: It's a pyrrhic victory for the Club if Schweikert gets neutered in terms of committee assignments.
But you have to wonder if this kind of payback will actually succeed in bringing the Club and other conservative meddlers to heel, or if it'll just inspire them to fight the establishment even harder. The Heritage Foundation's action arm is already furious, in particular calling Schweikert's removal "unthinkable," but will it still be worth winning all these primaries if Boehner reduces all their favorites to backbencher status?
I'm going to guess they won't give up, though—these organizations have no purpose except to drive the GOP as far rightward as possible. They are predisposed against ever going along to get along. And that'll just mean that the GOP's intra-party turf wars will continue on their current trend and grow ever nastier, damaging the Republican brand further and occasionally even handing seats over to the Democrats (as we saw in this year's Indiana Senate race). Hey, I'm not complaining.
• Pres-by-CD: Jeffmd's been busy down at the SSP Labs' Skunkworks, and we now have presidential election results for another 50 congressional districts:
• Illinois (11 of 18, IL-01 through IL-10, IL-12)
• Iowa (state)
• Kentucky (state)
• Michigan (10 of 14: MI-01, MI-02, MI-06 through MI-09, MI-11 through MI-14)
• Nevada (state)
• Utah (1 of 4: UT-01)
• Wisconsin (state)
Starting out west, Obama's numbers held up surprisingly well in California, with
Dan Lungren's Ami Bera's CA-07 going for the President at a comparable clip to 2008. The numbers also suggest that Gary Miller in CA-31 shouldn't rest too easy, as he's the Republican (likely) with the bluest district at 57 percent Obama (fractionally bluer than it was four years ago).
In Nevada, the difference between NV-03 and NV-04 at the congressional level also showed itself upballot: Obama's strong(er) performance in NV-04 undoubtedly helped Steven Horsford across the finish line where John Oceguera fell short (though of course the 3rd was not an open seat).
The 3rd and 4th districts in Iowa, though, show some differences between the Congressional races and the Presidential race: Vilsack-King in the IA-04 came in right around the presidential toplines, but Dem Rep. Leonard Boswell in IA-03 lagged Obama badly.
Moving next door to Wisconsin, we can see just how brutal the Republican gerrymander was, and potentially why Messrs. Zerban, Kreitlow, and Wall all finished at roughly the same place (11-12 points back of their respective Republican opponents). Remarkably, four districts (the 1st, 6th, 7th, and 8th) all flipped from Obama wins in 2008 to Romney wins in 2012.
In Illinois, the effect of the receding home-state tide was fairly obvious, with Obama losing a handful of points in almost every district. Perhaps the Democratic foil to Wisconsin, the congressional map kept Obama in the mid-to-high 50's in the suburban swing districts, which allowed them to fall nicely into the Democratic pickup column. Dem Bill Enyart also deserves credit for whomping Republican Jason Plummer by as much as he did in IL-12 (where Obama only narrowly squeezed out a win).
There wasn't a "home-state" effect in Michigan per se in 2008, but Obama also saw a drop here, partially owing to Mitt Romney's decision to contest the state (at least more than McCain did, anyway). Consequently, several narrowly-Obama districts are now Romney districts (perhaps again showing the power of the gerrymander, as in Wisconsin).
Finally, the Kentucky numbers show us that Ben Chandler had quite the tide to swim against, with Obama's numbers dropping considerably in KY-06. It's nowhere as bad as KY-05 next door, though, which swung more than 8 points against the President, giving him just 23 percent. It would take the title for reddest district calculated so far, but for UT-01, where Obama only narrowly crossed 20 percent.
Also, a few administrative notes: The various Google Docs holding the calculations might be offline periodically, as more updates are incorporated. Additionally, thanks to everyone who has been sending us various calculations—even if we aren't always able to response, it's definitely appreciated. As you can tell, this exercise is fairly data-intensive, and we want to make sure that everything is incorporated consistently and accurately. (jeffmd)