• Redistricting: Since the election, lots of Democrats have pointed to the discrepancy between the nationwide House popular vote (won by Dems) and the GOP's continued control of the House majority, to which the GOP response has been mostly "Hmmrmrmf ... hey, look over there!" But in the last few weeks, something seems to have changed: namely, Republicans now seem to be loudly embracing the fact that, yes, gerrymandering saved their majority in 2012—and they're proud of it. Part of this trend stems from a recent memo from the Republican State Leadership Committee (their counterpart to the DLCC) and its REDMAP program, emphasizing the role of their 2010 legislative victories in preserving their House majority in 2012.
And on Thursday, at the House GOP's annual retreat, NRCC chair Greg Walden adopted that same line, saying "Redistricting was a blessing for us." That's also reflected in a new NRCC memo that claims that the number of competitive seats is smaller under the new round of districting, and that there are now 190 "strong Republican seats." (There's no cited discussion what constitutes a "strong Republican seat," though my back-of-the-envelope math suggests it might be districts that are around 45 percent Obama or less.)
That NRCC memo is the same one that we briefly mentioned in the previous Digest, which listed what Republicans view as the seven most vulnerable Democrats, but it turns out it also they have a second tier of 38 additional Dem targets, which it's probably worth your while to glance at. The list is dominated by freshmen who won competitive races last year, though there are a few wishful-thinking picks thrown in there (Bill Keating? Peter DeFazio?). (Also, h/t to commenter KingTag, who points out a similar DCCC "staying on the offensive" list from early 2009, if you want to step in the wayback machine and see how that all panned out. Spoiler alert: Democrats defeated precisely one of those targets in 2010.) (David Jarman)
• KY-Sen: Tea partiers upset with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are running out of options when it comes to finding a primary challenger. Paulist freshman Rep. Thomas Massie, who went so far as to vote against John Boehner as speaker and has been doing his best Justin Amash impersonation on the House floor, says he won't run against McConnell. In fact, he says he "absolutely, positively" will not. But Massie is only 42 and is troublemaker by nature, so I wouldn't be surprised if he has ambitions to muck things up somewhere down the line.
• WV-Sen: Ralph Baxter, the head of national law firm Orrick, was listed as a possible Senate candidate earlier this week in a piece in the Charleston Gazette, and now he's confirming his interest. Baxter's family hails from West Virginia, and he set up a sort of legal back office for the firm in Wheeling a decade ago. Orrick, however, is based in San Francisco, where Baxter was born and currently lives, though he said he considers Wheeling his home and plans to move back there after he steps down from his current post at the end of the year. That's somewhat problematic, though: If he waits to run until 2014, he'd be giving GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito a huge head start. Baxter might be able to partly make up for it with some personal wealth, but he'd have a lot of work to do introducing himself to voters, so a year-long wait until he starts campaigning would be a major self-imposed setback.
• FL-Gov: Hah, Rick Scott seriously thinks this is going to help his image? After signing into law a bill in 2011 that reduced the number of early voting days in Florida, Scott infamously disavowed the legislation earlier this week—and then on Thursday offered this amazing turnabout: "We need more early voting days, which should include an option of the Sunday before Election Day. And, we need more early voting locations." Well, awesome! It's the right thing, and it'll help us turn Scott out of office in 2014. Sometimes chutzpah cuts both ways.
• IL-13: This story is from December but it's still relevant for horserace watchers. Illinois' 13th Congressional District was home to one of the tightest races in the country last year—just a thousand votes separated the winner from the loser—so it's no surprise that GOP freshman Rodney Davis is already at the top of Democratic target lists for 2014. However, Barack Obama saw his performance in the district drop considerably: It went from a seat he carried by 11 points over John McCain to one he narrowly lost to Mitt Romney. That might help explain why several Democrats have already said no to a race against Davis, including state Sen. Mike Frerichs, Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz, Champaign City Council member Paul Faraci, and Normal Mayor Chris Koos.
But the cupboard's not entirely bare. Former Champaign County Board member Brendan McGinty isn't ruling out a run, nor is Champaign Mayor Don Gerard. McGinty sounds more interest (he called the idea "intriguing"), while Gerard seems more reluctant, saying that it's "never been my dream to be a congressman." Also a possibility is the man Davis beat, physician David Gill, who is still thinking about another run. However, it would be his fifth bid for Congress, and one local Dem official said he thinks Gill should "take some time and think it over," which is obviously not the most enthusiastic stance one might take.
• TN-05: As a follow up to my piece on Rep. Jim Cooper's shameful vote against badly-needed federal disaster funds for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, my colleague Steve Singiser takes a look at the local political scene in Nashville to see if there's anyone who might step up to take on Cooper in the Democratic primary. Nashville's a pretty blue town, so there are in fact quite a few Dem elected officials, but finding someone willing to challenge Cooper won't be easy. Click through to see the list Steve worked up, and if you have any ideas of your own, please add them in comments!
Relatedly, I went on David Waldman's "Kagro in the Morning" show on Daily Kos Radio on Thursday to discuss Cooper's vote, his history of sticking a thumb in his party's eye, and the prospects of a primary. You can listen to the podcast here (my segment begins at the 1 hr 34 min mark).
• Seattle Mayor: Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn was, to some extent, elected without a particular constituency in 2009, when the former director of the local Sierra Club won by being the least-bad option left after incumbent Greg Nickels' strange implosion in the primary. That lack of a natural base is coming back to hurt him as he runs for re-election in 2013, as a huge array of the city's heavy hitters are all pouring into the race, sensing easy pickings.
McGinn's basic constituency (if he has one) can be thought of as environmentalists/neighborhood activists + poorer non-white areas, but his environmental flank got demolished by the recent entry of former city councilor (and urban planning wonk) Peter Steinbrueck, and now last week's entry by city councilor Bruce Harrell probably wipes him out among people of color, too. (Harrell's name might be familiar because he briefly considered running last year from the left against Adam Smith in the redesigned WA-09; he's the lone non-white city councilor currently, and has strong roots in the city's diverse South End.)
Throw in state Sen. Ed Murray (who has the LGBT vote locked down) and city councilor Tim Burgess (who occupies the law-and-order turf), and I'd be surprised if McGinn even finishes third in the primary, let alone gets in the top-two and advances to November. (David Jarman)
• Congress: BusinessWeek has an awesome color-coded graph of the composition of the 113th Congress (House and Senate combined), with a different color for each type of profession (45 lawyers, seven accountants, and so forth). There's also a little summary table at the bottom which brings some distressing news: The 'Stache Caucus in the House has shrunk by two members, down to just 23! However, the Senate 'Stachers doubled their ranks, all the way up to two members now. The infographic helpfully notes: "Does not count mustaches worn as part of a beard." Damn straight!
• Florida: PPP's new batch of Florida miscellany mostly focuses on hypothetical 2016 presidential matchups (in both Dem and GOP primaries as well as the general election), but there are also some Senate approval numbers. Democrat Bill Nelson, fresh off re-election to a third term, is just above water at 43-40, while freshman Republican Marco Rubio is still the most popular statewide pol in Florida at 49-36. Obama's approvals stand at 50-48, very close to last November's election results in the state.
• WATN?: Hahahah, of COURSE! Dennis Kucinich loved to troll the Democratic Party throughout his career, and now that he's out of Congress, he'll get paid to do so ... as an "analyst" on FOX News, naturally! I can't imagine a better fit. FOX and Special K: Truly, a match made in heaven.