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Leading Off:

RI-Gov: Lincoln Chafee, the only independent governor in the nation, is once again saying he may seek re-election as a Democrat. This isn't the first time he's discussed the possibility—indeed, he began publicly talking about it just months after taking office in 2010. But now Chafee, who endorsed Obama in 2008 and 2012, and spoke at this year's Democratic convention, is getting closer to the point where he'll have to make a decision. Notes Chafee: "There is no independent governors association throwing money around ... but there is a Democratic Governors Association." And indeed, outgoing DGA chair Martin O'Malley has previously made overtures to Chafee about a switch.

But while DGA money could help in a general election if Republicans manage to be competitive, running the gauntlet of a Democratic primary could bring its own host of problems for Chafee. Some Dems will undoubtedly be open to him joining the party, but others won't be, perhaps in part because he served in the U.S. Senate as a Republican as recently as six years ago. That said, Chafee has certainly marched far leftward (he even said, in the AP's words, that he "felt welcome" at the DNC), but putting aside ideology, one or more ambitious Democrats might still look to dethrone him in the primary. And I'd be surprised if the DGA would want to prop him up for the nomination, though perhaps that could be part of a party-switching deal.


Senate: Congressional Democrats and Republicans are in the process of handing out committee assignments to new members (as well as reshuffling the deck in certain cases and also picking committee leadership). It looks like Senate Dems are the first to announce a full slate of appointments; if you're interested to see where various freshmen have landed, look for the names in italics, which denote new assignments (for newcomers and veterans alike).


AR-Gov: State Attorney General Dustin McDaniel was the first candidate to announce for Arkansas' open governor's race (all the way back in June), and now he's the first with an internal poll, courtesy Anzalone Liszt. In a hypothetical Democratic primary, McDaniel is way out in front, taking 54 percent to just 14 for former LG (and 2010 Senate hopeful) Bill Halter and only 1 percent for state highway commissioner John Burkhalter.

McDaniel also included general election numbers, but quite unusually, he's actually trailing in one of the matchups. He leads current Lt. Gov. Mark Darr 46-34 but loses to former Rep. Asa Hutchinson 44-41. That's not something you typically see in an internal poll, and McDaniel tries to explain it away by claiming Hutchinson has a "slight advantage" in name recognition—even though he hasn't held office since 2001. And McDaniel says he has a 57-13 job approval score—so Hutchinson's more well-known than that?

If it were just name rec, though, then why does McDaniel score five points worse against Hutchinson than Darr? Hmm. And if these are the kinds of numbers we're seeing now in a private Democratic poll, then it just confirms that this is going to be exactly the kind of very difficult hold you'd expect, in a state Mitt Romney carried by 24 points.

NE-Gov: There's a new potential entrant into the Nebraska Republican gubernatorial primary, which abruptly became a one-man race after state House Speaker Mike Flood unexpectedly dropped out the other week: State Sen. Charlie Janssen, who was first elected to the legislature in 2008, says he's looking at the contest as well. Janssen claims that Flood's departure isn't a factor, saying he'd even discussed a possible bid with Flood a couple of months ago. If Janssen gets in, he'd square off against Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy for the nod.


House: The other day, we mentioned that 2012 was only the second time in the last 40 years when one party had won a majority of the national House vote but not a majority of seats in Congress. Cook's Dave Wasserman goes further and says that this was in fact only the second time in the last 70 years (1996 being the other). What's more, says Wasserman: "Republicans won a 4.29 percent greater share of seats than votes—the largest GOP overperformance since the House Clerk's office began providing complete data in 1942." Unfortunately, the piece is paywalled, but if you're a subscriber, Wasserman has a couple of helpful interactives which track vote share vs. seats over time. The truly bad news is that the split has grown considerably worse for Dems over the last couple of decades and we might need a serious wave year to ever take the House back.

Other Races:

NYC Mayor: Pretty sure supermarket magnate John Catsimatidis—who likes to make noises but has never sounded super-excited about a mayoral bid—just took himself out of the running with this:

"Taxes are going to go up regardless. What I'm afraid of is, we shouldn't punish any one group. Whether we're punishing people who are wealthy," he said. "New York is for everybody; it's for the poor, it's for the middle-class, it's for the wealthy. We can't punish any one group and chase them away. We—I mean, Hitler punished the Jews. We can't have punishing the '2% group' right now."
Republicans don't really have anyone of stature who might run next year apart from police chief Ray Kelly (who seems unlikely), but at least Catsimatidis has money. But all the money in the world can't help you if you insist on going Godwin right from the start.

Grab Bag:

Dark Money: ProPublica has gotten its hands on something never before seen: the application that Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS filed with the IRS in September 2010 seeking tax-exempt status. Crossroads' application is apparently still pending, though if it's denied, the group could be forced to reveal its donors. And it's possible that it will get denied, since non-profits cannot primarily spend money on elections—and Crossroads promised that "any such activity will be limited in amount, and will not constitute the organization's primary purpose." Of course, if you believe that, then there are a number of spans crossing the East River readily available for your purchase. Follow the link for much more on how Crossroads almost certainly isn't living up to its pledge to serve as a "social welfare" organization.

Pres-by-CD: After a one-day hiatus, we're back with more congressional district presidential results. We're adding 10 new seats, bringing us to 294 districts overall (and as always, you can find our complete list here):

Tennessee (statewide)

Texas (TX-12)

It's hard to believe that as recently as 10 years ago, a majority of Tennessee's congressional districts voted Democratic for president: Al Gore carried three of nine districts outright and two others were virtual ties, and Democrats held those five seats through 2010. Looking now tells a much different story: Obama only carried two districts (Memphis-based TN-09 and Nashville-based TN-05), the latter with only 56 percent. We also see the headwind Democratic nominee Eric Stewart had in his race against scumbag doctor (and Republican Congressman...) Scott DesJarlais in TN-04, as Obama got less than one-third of the vote here.

The other update is TX-12, an unremarkable exurban Fort Worth-based district. The prior iteration of the district was slightly more Democratic (as it cracked part of the Democratic and minority-heavy parts of the city of Fort Worth); now that those areas are in Dem Rep.-elect Mark Veasey's TX-33, the 12th has become even more staunchly Republican, at just 32 percent Obama. (jeffmd)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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