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Leading Off:

MI-Sen: After the twenty-point drubbing Pete Hoekstra took in his humiliating loss to Debbie Stabenow last month, it's hard to imagine the GOP putting up much of a fight against Michigan's senior senator, Democrat Carl Levin, in 2014. Now, Levin is 78, so retirement is definitely a possibility, but if he seeks re-election to a seventh (!) term, he starts off in good shape, according to PPP. While Levin's job approval ratings are decent—at 46-35, he's actually behind Stabenow's 55-36—his head-to-head performance against nominally top-tier Republican opposition is even better:

• 52-34 vs. Rep. Candice Miller

• 53-32 vs. Rep. Justin Amash

• 53-31 vs. state Sen. Roger Kahn

• 54-32 vs. state AG Bill Schuette

• 55-31 vs. Rep. Mike Rogers

Alright, well, I don't know that you can call Justin Amash top-tier anything (except for "top-tier most hated by the GOP establishment"), but I don't think any of these potential candidates have expressed even the slightest interest in taking on Levin, except for Kahn—and that was all the way back in June. The Hoekstra debacle might have him rethinking things now, but Kahn is term-limited and doesn't have many better options, so it'll probably be a schnook state legislator like him or some random rich guy. But even if Levin does decide to hang up his spurs, I like our chances.

Senate:

HI-Sen: Unsurprisingly, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa will submit an application to the state Democratic Party for consideration as a possible replacement for the late Sen. Dan Inouye. State law requires that the party to which a deceased senator belonged submit three names to the governor; Dem Gov. Neil Abercrombie will then select one to become Inouye's successor. Of course, Inouye's dying wish was to see Hanabusa follow in his footsteps, and it's hard to imagine Abercrombie not respecting Inouye's desires, so this is probably mostly a formality. I'll still be curious to see which other two names the Hawaii Dems put on their shortlist—or perhaps they're permitted to just leave slots two and three blank.

Gubernatorial:

FL-Gov: Quinnipiac has an approvals-only poll of Florida, and GOP Gov. Rick Scott isn't looking too hot. He remains mired in negative territory, at 36-45, which is better than his all-time low of 29-57 set last year—but his best-ever mark of 41-46 from this past May is hardly cause for celebration. That goes with along with a 31-43 personal favorability rating for Scott, and while we don't have head-to-heads, we also have favorables for a bunch of potential Democratic challengers:

Ex-Gov. Charlie Crist: 47-33
2010 nominee Alex Sink: 27-14
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer: 13-8
Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio: 17-6
Outgoing state Sen. Nan Rich: 6-4
Ft. Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler: 4-3

Obviously anyone on this list not named Crist (or Sink) has a serious name rec deficit to overcome, but it's unsurprising that mayors in a state as big as Florida wouldn't be particularly well-known. Ultimately, that's more of an issue in a potential primary, since whoever emerges as the Democratic nominee ought to have plenty of earned media and money propelling them forward.

One side-note is that Quinnipiac also checked Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam's favorables, too. He's also unknown, at 13-6, but he could run for governor some day... perhaps even against Scott—though I don't know that anyone but me is talking about that possibility. But check this out: Quinnipiac also asked "Do you think that some other Republican should run against Rick Scott for the Republican nomination?" Among Republican respondents, 53 percent say yes versus just 30 who disagree! That's an awful lot of discontent among potential GOP primary voters, and given how toxic Scott will be in a general election, the Republican establishment might start thinking about tossing him overboard.

RI-Gov: Did you know that Rhode Island hasn't elected a Democrat governor since the late Bruce Sundlun won a second term (back when terms lasted just two years) in 1992? Yep, 'tis true! While they've gotten obliterated on the federal level for quite some time, that statehouse streak may give Ocean State Republicans a bit of hope that they might recapture the governor's mansion, particularly since now-Gov. Lincoln Chafee's independent candidacy left them just over two points shy of victory in 2010. If Chafee doesn't switch parties (something he's publicly contemplated), and if Democrats recruit a stronger candidate this time, then perhaps the GOP might have an outside shot at a pickup.

However, their previous candidate, businessman John Robitaille, now says he won't run again, in a Facebook post that pretty much attacks Rhode Island voters for being too liberal. But other Republicans are weighing the race: Former state police chief Brendan Doherty, who lost a race for Congress against Rep. David Cicilline last month, says he's "absolutely" considering a gubernatorial bid and hopes to make a decision in four to five months. Meanwhile, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung says that he, too, is "very seriously looking" at entering the race, while Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian isn't ruling anything out but says it's "too soon" to talk about.

House:

IL-02: It looks like the field for the Jesse Jackson, Jr. special election is just about set: Jackson's brother, activist Jonathan Jackson, says he won't run in the Democratic primary to replace the former congressman. That follows a similar announcement last week from Jesse Jackson's wife, Sandi.

Other Races:

NY-St. Sen: As expected, the judge overseeing the ballot counting in the ultra-tight race in New York's 46th Senate District has certified the results, handing Republican George Amedore a 37-vote win. But Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk plans to appeal, saying that "hundreds" of unopened ballots were improperly tossed out. (Arguments likely won't be heard until early January.) Meanwhile, Republicans are claiming that an Amedore victory—which would give them outright majority control of the Senate without any need to rely on the five members of the "Independent Democratic Conference"—will not affect their power-sharing agreement with the IDC. We'll see about that, though.

NYC Mayor: Looks like Republicans are finally going to land a legitimate candidate for next year's mayoral race in the Big Apple: MTA chief Joe Lhota is reportedly resigning from his current post, a move that looks like a prelude to a run for office. Lhota earned a lot of praise as head of the transit authority for restoring service in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, but he's still utterly unknown as a public figure: A Quinnipiac poll last month had him trailing a generic Democrat by a comical 60 to 9! Still, given the history of mayoral contests in NYC over the past 20-plus years, I'm not ready to write off anyone or anything.

Grab Bag:

Ads: Here's a great collection of extremely old-school (print) political ads from the blog Vintage Ads. A random selection from the 19th century:

D. K. Burkholder for Prison Keeper, Lancaster, Pa., May 21, 1881
Prison keeper! Many more politically-themed ads here.

Pres-by-CD: One new state, and an update to a state we brought you in the previous Digest:

Kansas (statewide)

West Virginia (statewide)

After shaking Kansas' election results loose from the couch cushions, we can now get you presidential results from Kansas' 4 districts. Infuriatingly, the hold-up wasn't, say, precinct results from tiny Pawnee County, but rather, official county-level results from the Secretary of State! The results by CD themselves are not particularly noteworthy, other than the fact that Dems left GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder uncontested in a 44 percent Obama district is really quite appalling.

Secondly, they say the easiest things are also the easiest to screw up, and I botched this one rather badly. West Virginia's congressional map doesn't split any counties, which means no data collection or calculations at the precinct level were needed – how hard could it be? Well, as sharp-eyed reader zyangunc noted, our West Virginia vote totals were too high, almost twice the correct total.

The error resulted from my failure to notice that the official results file from the SoS also included one iteration of unofficial results in addition to the official results, which led to the almost-doubling of the number of votes from each county and district. We've corrected our numbers now, and there ended up being a slight difference between the correct (official-only) and double-counted (official + unofficial) results. The news still isn't great for Nick Rahall, the Dem Rep. in WV-03, as his district was actually 33 percent Obama, not 32. (jeffmd)

Polltopia: Meh. So Brock McCleary, the outgoing deputy director of the NRCC, is starting his own IVR polling company, supposedly to give the GOP an answer to PPP. But the problem on the right is not a lack of robopollsters—they've already got Rasmussen, We Ask America, Susquehanna and more—but a lack of quality, independence, and transparency. Given how deep the Republican Party shoved its fingers into its own ears and chanted "la-la-la I can't hear you!" to drown out bad polling news this cycle, the test for McLeary's Harper Polling will be whether it can produce reality-based results, or whether it, too, falls down the rabbit hole of epistemic closure.

WATN?: Longtime readers of the Swing State Project (the predecessor site to Daily Kos Elections) will never forget Greg Davis, the mayor of Southaven, MS who got his ass repeatedly kicked in 2008 by Democrat Travis Childers—first in a special election, then in a runoff, and then finally in the November general. Davis was a preternaturally awkward politician from the wrong part of the district, whose campaign was best summed up when a barnstorming Dick Cheney dubbed him the mayor of "South Memphis"—Memphis, of course, being in Tennessee and not, ya know, Mississippi.

Afterwards, we mostly forgot about Davis (except to chuckle once in a while about his uncanny resemblance to Nathan Lane during his "Producers" days), until his life took an extremely unexpected turn last year when he was busted for spending taxpayer dollars at "an adult store catering to gay men while on a recruitment trip to Canada." Uh, yeah.

So anyhow, Davis, who called himself a "very conservative" individual, announced that he was gay following these revelations, which ultimately led to his (now former) wife suing his alleged lover for $1 million for "alienation of affection." (Ah, you law school types: Ringing any bar exam bells?) But the story hardly stops there!

That's because Davis was just indicted on several counts of fraud stemming from his embezzlement of some $170,000 in state funds—include $67 spent at that Canadian sex shop which kicked this whole chain of events off in the first place. Remarkably, Davis continues to serve as mayor, since Mississippi law doesn't permit his removal unless he's convicted of a crime. Of course, that may just happen very soon. We'll keep you posted!

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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