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Leading Off:

MA-Sen: Hel-lo! The DSCC rather unexpectedly sent out an email on Friday afternoon with a statement from Dem Sen. John Kerry, saying he "supports" Rep. Ed Markey's decision to run to succeed him... which essentially meant 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. But lest there be any confusion about where their sympathies lie, the DS followed up with its own formal endorsement email soon after.

In any event, Kerry's don't-call-it-an-endorsement would alone 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. And indeed, sandwiched between the initial Kerry email and the subsequent DSCC missive, Vicki Kennedy, the widow of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy who herself was mentioned as a possible candidate, said that she, too, would be getting behind Markey. You can practically hear the wagons rustling as they draw into circular formation.

But this all 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 these moves are 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).

And with a little luck, Scott Brown won't bother to run again. Hopefully these coordinated efforts are meant to give the appearance of strength and scare Brown off, rather than a reflection of any kind of worry that if Democrats don't unite immediatelyrightnow, we'd be in some sort of trouble. I'm choosing to be cautiously optimistic for the moment, and with a little more luck, Markey will succeed both in uniting all the various factions behind him and in running a strong campaign.

P.S. If Kerry is indeed confirmed as Secretary of State, and if Markey does secure the Democratic nomination and wins the ensuing special election, there would be another special election for his 5th District congressional seat. Interest and speculation in that race will also be high, no doubt, and as always, we'll be following both the Senate and House side of things closely.

P.P.S. No surprise: Dem Rep. Niki Tsongas also says she won't run in the special.

Senate:

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 has turned over its 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?

Gubernatorial:

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.

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.

House:

IL-02: Huh. That's a very quick fall from grace: On Saturday, state Sen. Donne Trotter dropped 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. Trotter's departure now makes an already crowded, unsettled contest even more wide open.

Other Races:

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, though there won't be a special election to fill 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.

Grab Bag:

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?

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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