9:44 AM PT: HI-LG: After a moment of initial hesitancy, state Senate President Shan Tsutsui, a Democrat, has agreed to become Hawaii's new lieutenant governor. The position became open when the prior LG, Brian Schatz, was sworn in to the U.S. Senate on Thursday to replace the late Sen. Dan Inouye. The Senate will now have to pick a new president, and presumably a special election will also be held to fill Tsutsui's seat.
9:49 AM PT: IL-02: Huh. That's a very quick fall from grace. According to unnamed sources, NBC Chicago reports that state Sen. Donne Trotter will drop his bid for ex-Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s vacant House seat. Trotter began the race as something of a frontrunner—or at the very least, with a bunch of establishment support. But following an arrest at O'Hare airport for trying to carry a handgun and bullets through security, Trotter was unable to secure the formal endorsement of the Cook County Democratic Party, something that had looked like a sure bet before the gun incident. If he does indeed bail, that would make an already crowded, unsettled contest even more wide open.
11:07 AM PT: NJ-Gov: As I figured would be the case in the previous Digest, outgoing EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who just announced her resignation, says she won't run for governor in 2013. That's too bad, as she might have made a compelling candidate for Democrats, but seeing as she's only 50, perhaps she'll seek public office somewhere else down the line.
11:34 AM PT: TX-Sen: Serious insult to serious injury: Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who got pwned by Ted Cruz in his bid for Texas's Republican Senate nomination earlier this year, may have gotten robbed of anywhere from $600,000 to over $1 million by a longtime consultant, Kenneth "Buddy" Barfield. Dewhurst's campaign only discovered the missing money this month and have turned over their findings to the Travis County (Austin) District Attorney. Seeing as he lost the runoff 57-43 amid enormous outside spending, it's doubtful even another mil would have made any difference for Mountain Dew. But man, it sure seems like this kind of story is becoming really common: ex-Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut, Rep. Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey, and a ton of California Democrats who were victims of rogue treasurer Kindee Durkee have all seen their campaign warchests looted. Is it really so hard to put in safeguards?
11:41 AM PT: Sorry, I was wrong: There won't be a special election for Tsutsui's seat. Rather (see last graf here), it'll get filled in the same manner Inouye's Senate seat was filled: Local Democrats will send a list of three names to Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Given how much bad blood the last go-round engendered, I'm totally thinking, "oy vey!"—but hopefully this replacement process will involve less controversy.
11:46 AM PT: Counties: You've probably all seen those Sporcle quizzes before: How many U.S. senators can you name, how many nations of the world, and so forth. Well, here's one that might just crush your soul: How many counties in the United States can you come up with off the top of your head? Be warned: There are 3,143 counties (and county equivalents) in total! The only good news is that if you type in a name that covers more than one county (like, say, "Orange"), they'll all get filled in at once. That's still a ton to go through, though. Dare I ask people to post their scores in comments?
12:09 PM PT: MA-Sen: Hel-lo! The DSCC just sent out an email with a statement from Dem Sen. John Kerry, saying he's endorsing Rep. Ed Markey to succeed him... which essentially means the DSCC is doing the same thing. Kerry could have sent the press release to his own list (though perhaps he did that as well), and the DSCC doesn't typically act as a messenger for such announcement, so in this case, the medium really is the message. Anyhow, Kerry's endorsement alone would have been quite the coup in a Democratic primary, but the fact that the DSCC is also getting on board means they're hoping to avoided a protracted nomination battle and would like to see everyone rally around Markey.
That seems like good news to me: The DS must have positive polling data on Markey, a strong progressive, and it also means we're less likely to see someone awful like Rep. Stephen Lynch (who betrayed Democrats by voting against the Affordable Care Act) enter the race. Of course, if this move is seen as "interference" by D.C. Democrats, it could provoke a backlash. But we went through something very much like this not long ago, when national Dems and progressive groups successfully propelled Elizabeth Warren's candidacy forward, despite opposition from the local establishment (who had nothing and no one better to offer). With any luck, Markey will succeed in uniting all the various factions behind him, and in running a strong campaign.
12:27 PM PT: Yep, you can even hear the wagons rustling: Vicki Kennedy, the widow of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy who herself was mentioned as a possible candidate, is also endorsing Markey. Not gonna be easy for anyone else to get in after this.
12:48 PM PT: Hah, and now the DSCC is also formally endorsing Markey.
1:33 PM PT: AR-Gov: Here's another good example of a technique we've seen used successfully several times over the past few years. Say you're a grassroots activist who'd like to see a particular person run for office. You aren't a reporter, though, and don't really have any way of reaching out to that potential candidate to express your interest—and find out what they're thinking. So you use the web—these days, social media in particular, either Facebook or Twitter—to start a "draft" movement, you put a little effort into getting noticed, and sure enough, an actual reporter with the right contacts starts asking the right questions to the right people and gets some answers.
In this case, the answer obviously wasn't what the folks trying to draft University of Arkansas Chancellor David Gearhart were hoping to hear: He says he will not run for governor or any other office. Interestingly, Gearhart says he's neither a Republican nor a Democrat, and indeed, whoever's behind the "draft" Twitter account hasn't seemed to express a preference either way. Now they're hoping to convince Gearhart to change his mind, but even if they aren't successful in doing so, they at least got his attention.