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Leading Off:

PA-Gov: We finally have it from the horse's mouth! In a new interview with Philadelphia Daily News columnist John Baer, Dem Rep. Allyson Schwartz says "[i]t is my intention" to challenge Gov. Tom Corbett next year. Baer ads that Schwartz does not have a "timeline for a formal announcement," but high-profile politicians generally don't make statements like that unless they're really planning to run. Schwartz is probably the strongest candidate Democrats can offer (a somewhat opaque DGA poll had her starting off with a 50-42 lead), and she may well clear the primary if she gets in. Here's hoping she does so soon.

Senate:

WV-Sen: What the...? GOP Rep. David McKinley has been the main focus of conservative Republicans who aren't happy that Rep. Shelley Moore Capito seems set to walk away with their party's Senate nomination in West Virginia. But McKinley dashed hopes last month after talking to the National Journal's Amy Harder, who tweeted:

After privately eyeing his own run, Rep. McKinley, R-W.Va., tells me he plans to support Capito's bid for Rockefeller's WV Senate seat.@Amy_NJ via TweetDeck
Sounded pretty conclusive, right? So what's this all about, then?
McKinley spokesman Jim Forbes initially said that McKinley would not run, then said that McKinley "has not officially" said he would not run, but that he "probably wouldn't."
Sheesh. That was Friday. That same day, though, it got even nuttier:
"We were tempted by the devil," McKinley said. "I finally said no, this is Shelley. I went to Shelley and said 'Have I been tempted? Yeah. But I'm going to back you.'"
That seems to be McKinley's last (and final) statement on the matter, but who knows what black magick el diablo might wreak on him come next week.

Gubernatorial:

AR-Gov: Local news outlet Talk Business has partnered with their usual buddies at Hendrix College to survey the nascent Arkansas gubernatorial race. Though it's early, the GOP establishment has coalesced around ex-Rep. Asa Hutchinson, who apparently won't face a serious primary challenge. Meanwhile, ex-LG Bill Halter is the only announced Democrat, though ex-Rep. Mike Ross is reportedly reconsidering his plans, even though he's twice said he doesn't want to run. Talk Business tested both Dems against Hutchinson, who comes out ahead in both matchups, but with instructive differences:

• 47-31 vs. Halter

• 43-38 vs. Ross

It's pretty tempting to conclude that the conservative Ross has greater crossover appeal than Halter, whose unsuccessful 2010 Senate campaign was backed heavily by labor unions and progressive groups. Indeed, this seems to play out among independents, who favor Hutchinson over Ross 49-32 but prefer Hutchinson instead of Halter "by more than two-to-one." (Talk Business hasn't released complete crosstabs.)

But geography is also at play here: Ross represented the state's 4th Congressional District for six terms and leads Hutchinson there 44-41. Halter, who served a single term as lieutenant governor, appears to lack such a base and trails 45-31 in the 4th. But as Talk Business editor Roby Brock points out, "no serious money or campaigning has taken place so far," and it'll be a while before any does. So I would consider this just an initial snapshot, though Hutchinson—who has been out of office for over a decade—has to like the fact that he starts off at 47 percent against Halter.

CA-Gov: Well, at least I'll award some points for honesty. California Republicans have no bench, no money, and about as much hope of winning statewide, but Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach is nevertheless considering a bid for governor. However, he's going into it eyes wide open:

Moorlach describes himself as "very realistic" about the chances of any Republican candidate in a state where Democrats hold a big advantage in voter registrations.

"We all know if (Gov.) Jerry Brown re-runs it's going to be a very difficult thing to do," he said. "But it seems Jerry would be fun to debate in that case in the fall of 2014."

I'm willing to accept "fun" as a reason for running for office.

VA-Gov: Ooh. This sounds juicy:

Two prominent northern Virginia business leaders got into a heated exchange with Virginia Republican gubernatorial hopeful Ken Cuccinelli in front of a few hundred top GOP donors at a closed-door meeting Friday, multiple sources told POLITICO.
What did they berate Cuccinelli over? Exactly what you'd expect:
Bobbie Kilberg, a longtime Republican donor and CEO of Northern Virginia Technology Council, and Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Arlington-based Consumer Electronics Association, stood up separately to confront Cuccinelli about what is on the minds of many Virginia and national Republicans: whether the Tea Party-backed attorney general can, or wants to, run a pragmatic campaign in the increasingly moderate Old Dominion.
The best part is that it sounds like Cuccinelli has no intention of backing down or softening his approach:
Cuccinelli fiercely defended himself, noting his accomplishments and election as a state senator from Fairfax County and as attorney general in 2009.

"He was angry and hostile," said an attendee. Another Republican in the room said Cuccinelli "handled it ok" and pointed out that the attorney general also got some more favorable questions during the session.

This wasn't the only instance of Cuccinelli damaging himself with the GOP establishment over the weekend. A massive bill that overhauled Virginia's transportation funding cleared the legislature on Saturday, but not before Cuccinelli issued a legal opinion sua sponte that declared the legislation unconstitutional.

The reforms were spearheaded by Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell and passed—on the last day of the legislative session—only on the strength of Democratic votes (the GOP "broke the Hastert Rule" in getting the bill through the Senate and nearly did so in the House), so Cuccinelli was obviously doing his best to derail a delicate arrangement. McDonnell refused to criticize the Kooch ("It's a diverse party," he said—hilarious), but surely he must have been pissed.

So I gotta ask: Aside from having the good fortune to run for attorney general in 2009, does Ken Cuccinelli have any genuine political skills? Or does he just want to be the Mitt Romney of the Old Dominion?

Grab Bag:

Election Results: The Washington Post's Aaron Blake gives some great recognition to our own Xenocrypt for his scatterplots comparing the results of the 2008 & 2012 elections versus the 1952/56 elections, by congressional district. If you haven't checked them out yet, you should; it's really remarkable how predictable last November was compared to four years prior, and how that differs from the situation 60 years ago.

Pres-by-CD: Take your protein pills E-ZPass and put your helmet on it on your dash, folks—we're going back to Jersey. SSP Labs got a nice book this weekend from Essex County, and by that, we really do mean book. (At 345 hand-numbered pages, the postage on it alone could have gotten you from the Delaware Memorial Bridge to Newark Liberty.) But, the good news is, it also allows us to complete three more districts: NJ-08, NJ-10, and NJ-11.

There's nothing too surprising about NJ-08 and NJ-10, which were drawn to be minority-heavy Democratic districts (now represented by Dem Reps. Albio Sires and Donald Payne, Jr., respectively). As has been the trend both in New Jersey and in heavily minority districts generally, Obama saw quite a boost here: Obama did 5 points better in NJ-08 than he did in 2008 (78.3 percent) and 3 points better in NJ-10 (87.9 percent). NJ-08 has the third-largest swing towards Obama so far. AZ-07 and CA-34, both also heavily Hispanic, swung the most towards the President.

Indeed, almost all of the 30 districts that swung towards Obama by more than 2.5 points feature some combination of being in New Jersey/New York or being heavily Hispanic (or Asian, another demographic group that supported Obama in greater numbers in 2012): the only outliers in this group are Alaska's Don Young, PA-01's Bob Brady, and LA-02's Cedric Richmond.

In contrast, NJ-11 breaks the Jersey trend that we've been seeing: Obama's performance dropped half a point, to 46.6 percent, here in 2012 from 2008. (I'll note that no part of the Turnpike runs through NJ-11. The turnpike also doesn't run through NJ-05 or NJ-07, either, and Obama's about 1 point back from his 2008 pace in each of those districts so far, too. Correlation ain't causation, but I'm just saying....)

One note: After some more digging, it's become clear that there's a lot about New Jersey that we don't yet fully understand (e.g., what the heck is a "Snooki" and how does it feel about the situation?). There's also a lot about the results that we don't understand (e.g., what's an Essex County "Federal Fax/Email Absentee" or a Morris County "Out of County" vote, and has it been counted elsewhere?), so we'll need some time to figure it all out. Accordingly, we're going back and designating everything from NJ as provisional for now. Clearly, the "official" state totals—which have already changed once (and may change again?)—aren't the end-all here as it is in other states.

Finally, speaking of states changing their results, we've also updated Ohio totals to match the amended state totals. No districts changed substantially; indeed, no more than 30 votes were added or subtracted from any district. (jeffmd)

Race Ratings: In case you missed it over the weekend, David Jarman offered a comprehensive analysis of how Daily Kos Elections' race ratings for House, Senate, and gubernatorial contests fared last November. It's not just a look backward, though, it's a look forward as well, because as Jarman explains, it helps us spot incumbents "who everyone assumed was safe or near-safe last time but who turned out to have something of a glass jaw and barely squeaked by." Those are the people who will be on the firing line next time, and in the case of the House, that's just over a year and a half away.

WATN?: It's an unusual move, but then again, ex-Rep. Todd Platts is an unusual guy. Platts represented Pennsylvania's old 19th Congressional District (now, by and large, the 4th CD) before retiring last year. A couple of years prior to that, Platts sought a very atypical escape hatch for a Republican: He put his name forward as a possible pick to head up the Government Accountability Office, but not so surprisingly, he was passed over, seeing as the Obama Administration understandably preferred to tap a career GAO employee (Gene Dodaro) instead. Now he's running for, of all things, a county-level judgeship, even though he never really practiced law. Voters will have their say in a May 21 primary.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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