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MN-Gov: Rep. Tim Walz (D) is in

Sixth-term MN-1 Rep. Tim Walz (D) confirmed today that he will make a run for Governor. Walz enters what is likely to be an extremely crowded DFL convention: Auditor Rebecca Otto (D), St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman (D), and State Rep. Erin Murphy (D) are already in the race, while a number of others, most notably AG Lori Swanson (D) and Rep. Rick Nolan (D), are also thought to be interested. Walz’s outstate roots may be something of a double-edged sword; while a majority of Dems are from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro, Walz might be able to harness the Outstate base to win. Republicans’ field is much more unsettled, with 2014 nominee Jeff Johnson (R) and State House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R) among the most-talked-about potential candidates.

Assuming he doesn’t lose at the convention and immediately drop back down, Walz’s open MN-1 will be one of the fiercest battlegrounds of the 2018 House map. The seat swung hard-right this past cycle, and now has a single-election PVI of about R+8 after being quite purple for many years. Indeed, Walz almost lost his seat this last cycle to an unheralded Some Dude. Said Some Dude, Jim Hagedorn (R), is back for another try but seems unlikely to clear the field by any stretch. For Republicans, State Sens. Rich Draheim (R), Bill Weber (R), Julie Rosen (R), John Jasinski (R), Carla Nelson (R), and Jeremy Miller (R) all live in the district, as does DFL State Sens. Nick Frentz (D) and Dan Sparks (D). State Sen. Dave Senjem (R) also lives here but at 75 is likely too old to want to run. None of the State Senators would need to give up their seats to run, and Rosen in particular seems to be ambitious. The 18 State Reps. from those districts (11 GOP, 7 DFL) could also be options. Other possible GOP contenders could include ex-State Rep. and 2012 nominee Allen Quist (R) and ex-State Rep. and 2014 LG nominee Bill Kuisle (R), and of course many local officials too numerous to name. However, the most prominent local official in the district, Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede (D), is probably not an option at age 77. Without Walz in this seat, this is probably the GOP’s single best House pickup opportunity so far.

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Political Roundup for March 27th, 2017

President:

AHCA: As you’ve no doubt heard by now, it got pulled at the last minute as Ryan was pretty convinced it didn’t have the necessary votes. We’ll have to see what eventually comes out of this failure, but in the meantime, expect the focus to shift more to Tax Reform for now.

Trump & Ryan: It’s a complicated relationship.

Trump & Supporters: Some scattershot polling suggests that Trump has yet to lose any significant ground among his base. Most notable in this poll is that Trump’s JA is lagging the Republican margin on the Generic Ballot, which is a good sign for Congressional Republicans given that the counties included in it are basically places where Trump over-performed the GOP baseline last year.

Travel Ban: A federal Judge in Virginia ruled in favor of Trump’s Travel Ban on Friday. The judge basically said that Trump’s previous campaign statements cannot be considered a legal argument that the ban is secretly designed to discriminate against Muslims. The fact that we needed to go through 2 federal judges before finding one that agrees that you cannot invalidate an EO on the grounds of “The President once said something mean about people affected by this order” is a pretty good demonstration of why people think the American government is broken.

China-Ambassador: Terry Branstad is sort of enjoying his status as ambassador-in-waiting as the Senate continues to languish in approving Trump appointee picks. Meanwhile, he’s continuing to add days to his rather impressive tenure as the longest-serving Governor in American history, serving 4 terms between 1983-1999, and then another 2 terms between 2011-present. We’ve held the IA Governor’s office for all but 12 years between 1969 and the present day, and that consists of exactly 2 Republican Governors!

Congress:

GA-6: Opinionsavy has polled this special election, and found that Ossoff (D) has consolidated a pretty solid 40% and easy win in the first round, but is running neck-and-neck with any Republican he’s paired with in the runoff. There’s reason to think that Ossoff might have found his floor and ceiling already however, as this poll also gives Trump a 53-46 approval rating in the seat, and has the AHCA at 47-50. Those numbers don’t give Ossoff a lot of space to move past 40% to the 50+1% he needs to secure the seat. Still, these are pretty impressive numbers for a political newbie in a seat considered almost untouchably safe for the GOP half a year ago. Expect the final stretch here to be expensive for both sides.

Nuclear Option: It seems that Chuck Schumer is going to force McConnell to go Nuclear in order to confirm Gorsuch. Honestly I’m not even sure this is a bad move for Schumer, who is probably well aware of how futile this is likely to be in terms of actually stopping Gorsuch, especially after the latter’s excellent performance in the hearings. He needs to ensure that the D base stays energized and opposed to the GOP as opposed to turning its ire at members of his caucus who would be providing the filibuster-breaking votes.

ND-Sen: Speaking of which, Heidi Heitkamp, widely considered one of if not the most vulnerable Democrat up next year, has been talking nice about Trump lately. Most of this is just standard “I’m not like those National Democrats” talk that cross-state Senators always go to when it’s time for re-election, but this seems oddly interested in resurrecting the sort of Populist-Agri-Democrat profile that has been pretty much wiped out Nationally since 2010. Heitkamp is going to need everything she can to help her survive in a state that she barely won in 2012 and that has galloped hard right since.

CA-34: In the latest “California cannot run an election competently to save its life” story, a number of the sample Korean-language ballots for this upcoming special election were printed with the candidates in the wrong order. Koreans are a notable part of this (otherwise Hispanic-majority) seat in central Los Angeles, and while it’s unclear how many ballots are actually affected, this is an embarrassing failure for a state that is only saved from being the worst in the country by the fact that no one is quite sure whether or not New York has found all of its 2016 ballots yet.

State & Local:

CT-Gov: Ted Kennedy Jr., son of the late Massachusetts Senator and currently a Connecticut State Senator, is apparently interested in running for Governor. The nephew of the former president has been rather low-profile in his political career compared to some of the rest of his family, and is apparently trying to avoid simply basking in his family name. CT-GOV is one of the GOP’s best Gubernatorial pickup opportunities next year, so this would be an interesting development.

VA-Poll: Gravis has polled most of the upcoming Virginia races, finding a close Governor race for either Democratic candidate, Kaine up comfortably but not invincibly, and Trump sporting a -12 approval rating in the state. Nothing here is out of line with the common wisdom.

Other:

Bulgaria: The Center-right GERB party managed to win over their main rivals in the elections over the weekend. GERB took 32.5% of the votes to the Socialist’s 26.8%, with a more Nationalistic-tinged United Patriots party taking 9.2% and the Turkish-ethnic MRF party at 8.9%.

Census Numbers: Some more Census numbers are in, mostly looking at counties this time. Cook County continues its drawn-out evacuation, Wayne and Baltimore City are still bleeding people, and the Booming Sunbelt is still booming. Movement to the North Dakota Shale Fields has slowed to a trickle, and Puerto Rico continues to lose an almost staggeringly large amount of its population, dropping 300,000 (Close to 10% of the Island) since 2010.

“Trump as Hitler”: I don’t normally like quoting cartoonists in these roundups, but Scott Adams has been remarkably insightful about how Trump works, and I think he’s onto something here. The Failure of the Healthcare bill has shifted the media narrative about how Trump is literally Hitler and going to form camps (any day now, I swear!) to “Trump is completely incompetent at governing”. This is an interesting step up in terms of media image, but it also gives Trump some room to maneuver, given that unlike the previous meme, “Trump is incapable of governing” is possible to disprove.

UKIP: Douglas Carswell, the UKIP’s only MP in parliament, has left the party. Carswell left the Tories to join the UKIP in 2014, but has had a clear falling out with UKIP officials since, most notably Nigel Farange. Carswell’s move is another blow to a party that is still struggling to find a reason to exist in a world where Brexit is basically a certainty and the incumbent Conservative PM is talking about One-Nation Conservatism.

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Weekend Open Thread for March 24-26, 2017

Sunday Update: Stefanski and Stagni won outright in LA-LD-42 and LA-LD-92 respectively. LA-LD-8 will head to a runoff between mainstream conservative Raymond Crews (R) and RINO Robbie Gatti. Crews led Gatti 41-37 with most of the rest going to an antiestablishment conservative, so the former should be favored in a runoff on April 29.

The questions are below, but first off, some previews:

There are three special elections for the State House in Louisiana on Saturday. LA-LD-8 is an R+27 (2012) seat covering central and northern Bossier City. Four Republicans are facing off. The two runoff spots likely go to pilot and businessman Raymond Crews (R), a relatively mainstream conservative, and 2011 candidate Duke Lowrie (R), an antiestablishment conservative. A third candidate is Robbie Gatti (R), the brother of this area’s RINO State Senator, who has backing from Edwards’s allies. Gatti attracted national news for the wrong reasons when a photo of him in blackface surfaced a few weeks ago; however, there is still a chance he could box out one of the two front-runners. A fourth candidate, attorney Pat Harrington (R), looks like a long shot. LA-LD-42 is a formerly D-held R+22 (2012) seat around Crowley and the western Lafayette suburbs. The race is a guaranteed R pickup, at least nominally. But thanks to Louisiana’s jungle primary system the race is still a major battleground between mainstream conservative Republicans and Edwards-friendly RINOs. Attorneys John Stefanski (R) and Jay Suire (R) are facing off; Stefanski is backed by conservatives and business interests while Suire has close ties to Edwards allies and the endorsement of the outgoing Dem incumbent. There is no clear favorite between the two. LA-LD-92 is an R+1 (2012) seat around New Orleans Airport in southwestern Kenner. Two Republicans and a Democrat are in the race. The front-runner is probably ex-Kenner councilman Joe Stagni (R), who had a minor sexting scandal six years ago but seems to still be well-regarded by conservative groups. However, businesswoman Gisela Chevalier (R), who has an interesting story of fleeing the Castro regime as a young adult, is also running a serious campaign and could outpace Stagni. Chuck Toney (D), who serves on a Kenner municipal advisory board, is also running and could poll well by virtue of being the only Dem in the race. It looks like there will probably be a runoff and any two could advance.

There is also a general election Sunday in Bulgaria. Bulgaria is a Pennsylvania-sized nation of 7M at the southeast corner of Europe. Bulgaria is an EU member but still relatively poor. The National Assembly has 240 members elected by proportional representation in multi-seat constituencies with a 4% national threshold to enter parliament. This election was triggered by the prior PM resigning after his party lost the Presidential election last year. Bulgaria has two major parties, two minor parties, and two parties that may or may not enter parliament. The incumbent government is headed by GERB, a mainstream center-right party that is very pro-EU. The main opposition party is the Socialists, a mainstream center-left social-democratic party with some mild nationalist influences. Two minor parties that will enter parliament are DPS, a transactional centrist party mainly concerned with the interests of ethnic Turks and Roma (gypsies), and the ultra-nationalist (borderline neo-fascist) Attack party. Finally, two parties flirting with the threshold for seats are the heterogeneous centrist to center-right Reformist Bloc, and Volya, a centrist vanity-party bankrolled by a pharmaceutical oligarch. Polling shows GERB and the Socialists neck-and-neck at around 30, with DPS and Attack at about 10 each. It seems likely that either the center-right or center-left could form a government, but either will need support form at least one minor party.

Now this week’s questions –

1. Is electing judges a good or bad thing? Should the elections be partisan?

2. In what circumstances would mainstream European politicians benefit from adopting populist/nationalist right ideals?

And because it’s the weekend, let’s take a 3-minute break from politics to get reacquainted with the soul music stylings of a machine hack Cook County Commissioner HERE.

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Political Roundup for March 24, 2017

Senate:

IN-Sen: Both Reps. Luke Messer (R) and Todd Rokita (R) appear to be gearing up for a run for the Republican nomination for US Senate. The two congressmen running against each other would make for an interesting race because not only are the two congressmen said to have a close working relationship, but they graduated only one year apart at the small, all-male Wabash College. Ideologically, the two are similar-the biggest difference between the two is in style. Rokita is said to be more verbally aggressive and outspoken while Messer is more polished. There may be others in the Republican primary-lawyer Mark Hurt was the first person to announce a candidacy, while state Sen. Mike Delph (R) is said to be interested as well. Rep. Jim Banks (R) took himself out of the running this week.

RI-Sen: State Rep. Robert Nardolillo (R) plans to announce May 15 that he will run for the US Senate next year. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D) is running for his third term and should be a heavy favorite over Nardolillo or any other Republican.

TN-Sen 2020: Peyton Manning is denying rumors he is interested in running for US Senate in 2020 after Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) is expected to retire. Manning says he doesn’t know where the rumors came from and also says “I have no interest in the political world”.

House:

CA-50: Rep. Duncan Hunter (R) is under investigation by the Justice Department for campaign finance violations. He is under investigation for converting campaign funds for personal use. The House Ethics Committee had been investigating the same charges, but stopped its investigation yesterday at the request of the Justice Department.

FL-7: State Rep. Bob Cortes (R) has decided against a run for Congress next year. He was courted by the NRCC to run and met with them last month in Washington. Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D), who defeated Rep. John Mica (R) last year is a top target for Republicans. State Sen. David Simmons (R) has expressed interest in running, although he is also considering running for Attorney General.

IA-3: The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) has said it will not do anything to help Rep. David Young (R) with his re-election after Young came out against the Republican healthcare bill. The Super PAC spent nearly $2 million in favor of Young in 2016.

Governor:

CO-Gov: Ken Salazar (D) has taken himself out of the running for governor next year. The former attorney general, US Senator and Secretary of the Interior would have been a high profile candidate and proven statewide votegetter for Democrats. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) is term limited next year.

More CO-Gov: In light of Ken Salazar’s decision not to run for governor, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D) is expected to announce a bid soon, possibly as early as next week. Perlmutter was said to be waiting on Salazar’s decision and speculation is that Salazar will endorse Perlmutter. Former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy (D) also says she is seriously considering running and will make a decision next month.

IA-Gov: State Rep. Todd Prichard (D) says he is considering running for governor next year. Prichard says he thinks he has until next year to make a decision. He is likely not to be the only Democrat to get in the race-Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann says he expects lots of Democrats to explore the race with Gov. Terry Branstad (R) out and likely to be confirmed as ambassador to China.

MI-Gov: State Rep. Larry Inman (R) says people have encouraged him to run for governor next year. The 2nd term representative from Grand Traverse County is a moderate, and he says people tell him they are worried about a more conservative governor causing more gridlock. Inman’s biggest problem, as he seems to recognize is whether he could get enough support to run statewide. More well-known candidates such as AG Bill Schuette and LG Brian Calley (R) are expected to run.

NJ-Gov: LG Kim Guadagno (R) has won the ballot line in Bergen County, the state’s most populous county. So far, Guadagno has secured the ballot line in Bergen, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Hudson, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem and Warren counties while Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R) has won the ballot line in Burlington, Mercer, Middlesex and Union counties.

State & Local:

CA-Ins. Comm.-State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D) announced this week he is running for Insurance Commissioner in 2018. Current Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (D) is running for Attorney General. Former State Assembly members Susan Bonilla (D) and Henry Perea (D) have also filed papers to run for Insurance Commissioner as well as radiation oncologist and progressive activist Paul Song (D).

NH-SD-16: State Sen. Scott McGilvray (D) has died at the age of 51 of an undisclosed illness. McGilvray was elected to his first term in the state Senate last year, winning a Republican-held open seat-the only Senate seat Democrats flipped in last year’s election. Gov. Chris Sununu (R) and the Executive Council will set a date for a special election, which should be competitive.

NC-judge elections: North Carolina will elect its judges on a partisan basis again after the Legislature overrode the veto of Gov. Roy Cooper (D). North Carolina used to elect its judges with partisan labels until the 1990s, when the law was changed to have them run on a nonpartisan basis.

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Political Roundup for March 23, 2017

President:
AHCA: Here’s a list of all the House Republicans presently opposing the AHCA.

AHCA-2: Rumors are swirling about last-minute changes to the Obamacare repeal, most of which vary wildly in which direction the changes will be in.

Gorsuch: Vote is scheduled for Monday at Noon.

Regret?: In a move that will come as a shock to . . .basically the sort of the people who read the Washington Post, it turns out very few Trump voters regret their choice in President. After the election (and after Brexit last year), it was common to see stories of voters expressing immediate regret over the decision, despite very little polling suggesting this was true. Hopefully this will finally put an end to that meme.

Surveillance: So House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes has reported that the Obama administration did not apparently wiretap Trump directly, but rather were wiretapping so many people close to him that they wound up effectively wiretapping him anyway. More concerning is that Nunes also claimed that such information was “Widely disseminated inside intelligence community reports”. Honestly, this makes more sense than the most common explanations I’ve seen of Trump’s Russia ties—That Trump is either a secret Russian Spy taking orders from Putin that the FBI is this close to busting or the target of one of the most grotesque abuses of political power in history, though it does make me wonder who they were tapping that claimed Trump golden-showered a bed in a Russian hotel.

Congress:
FL-Sen: A St. Leo poll has Rick Scott, long bemused by people outside of Florida as an awful governor and a drag on the ticket, with positive approval ratings and only trailing long-time Senator Bill Nelson 39-34%. Scott is considered the overwhelming favorite for the GOP nod if he runs, with substantial personal wealth and massive name-ID, and is currently our best candidate for giving the popular and inoffensive Nelson a solid challenge. The Florida Chamber of Commerce released a poll with a similar 48-42 margin.

GA-6: The Club for Growth has endorsed Bob Gray (R) for this open seat north of Atlanta. I think we can assume that this means Gray will be a “No” vote on any form of the AHCA.

GA-Sen: Johnny Isakson (R-GA) is recovering from back surgery, which means that he might miss key votes, most notably for AHCA. Given that we’re already running tight on Senate votes, this is not a good development for us.

State & Local:
FL-Gov: The same St. Leo poll also asked about the Governor’s race, and has Mike Huckabee (yes, for real) leading the GOP primary field on pure name recognition, and Patrick Murphy (yes, for real) leading the D one for probably similar reasons.

MD-Gov: A new UMD poll of Maryland shows similar results to what we’ve previously seen—that Hogan is one of the most popular governors in the country—but also that he’s not nearly as solid for re-election as his +47 approval rating would suggest. He’s only up 41-37 to Generic Democrat, and after all the polls showing how much Generic Democrat would have beaten Trump if he ran last year, we can expect Mr. Democrat to face a lot of pressure to jump into the race. More seriously, Hogan was always going to have a tough hill to climb for re-election in what is probably the strongest downballot-D state in the country, and unless the Democrats nominate a spectacularly bad candidate, he probably has a ceiling of around 55% of the vote simply because a lot of the people who like him will like whoever the Democrats decide to run too.

SA-Mayor: A pair of polls has shown the 1st round of this May election to be competitive, with incumbent and DINO Ivy Taylor (who might be the only Black Female DINO of note in the entire country) at close to 50% of the vote, which in Texas would allow her to avoid a runoff entirely. Her main opponent is fellow “Non-Partisan” candidate Ron Nirenberg, with Bexar County D Chairman Manuel Medina languishing in 3rd place. Taylor’s weird coalition of Republicans and Black Democrats is one of the oddest in the country, but seems to be holding up decently enough for her in the admittedly fairly powerless position.

VA-Gov: It looks like more people from Obamaworld are jumping in to back Perriello, whose main opponent is getting much of the local VADem backing. Perriello’s running on a Sanders-esque “I’m a Progressive and proud of it”, and is even trying to turn his 2010 loss into a positive, claiming that it was proof that he wasn’t going to run away from defending progressive values just because it was politically expedient.

WI-Gov: Walker maintains his “Just popular enough to keep winning” level of support in the latest MULaw poll. I’m more concerned about this race than most, simply because I think Walker’s running the danger of overstaying his welcome and I’m not sure he’s even the GOP’s strongest candidate to hold onto this seat with Trump in the White House.

Other:
Census-data: The 2015->2016 numbers are out. No real surprises, but still lots of interesting tidbits to pour over.

The Family that would not leave: Chelsea Clinton continues to be heavily promoted for future political office, because let’s be honest—there was no chance that America’s most connected political family would ever let something like “Losing to Trump” get in the way of their long-term plans to run America. Though at the very least I expect Chelsea to bide her time for her last name to become less horrifyingly toxic in a D primary before running for president.

UK-London: The chaotic and deadly Westminster attack yesterday is still being investigated, but multiple arrests have been made, including a number in Birmingham. Given the nature of the attack, odds are very good that it was some sort of ISIS-based Muslim extremist, but the police aren’t releasing any specific information just yet.

UK-Manchester: George Galloway is running in the by-election for Manchester Gorton, a super-safe Labor seat that opened up following the death of oldest sitting parliamentarian Gerald Kaufman last month. Galloway has already gone, well, full Galloway (which is what we used to call going full Corbyn before Corbyn became a thing) in the seat by accusing the Labor party of trying to stack their shortlists with South-Asian candidates in this South-Asian heavy seat, possibly to discourage Galloway from running. This will be the 4th city Galloway has represented in parliament should he win, which has to be some kind of record.

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Political Roundup for March 22, 2017

Special Election Result:  The 197th Pennsylvania House of Representative seat (D+45) in north/lower northeast Philadelphia ended up going for the write-ins.

Presidential / National

Trumpcare:  President Trump (R) visited Capitol Hill yesterday to push the AHCA (aka Trumpcare).  Trump made it clear that those who oppose will end up on his bad side and will be considered political bad hombres who will lose their seats.

Manafort: Former Trump campaign chairman / international political consultant Paul Manafort (United Russia) is wanted for questioning in the Ukraine and United States over his electoral efforts on behalf of the Russian Federation.

RNC:  The RNC is lighting money on fire with ads supporting AHCA and Supreme Court.  The digital ad buy of over $100,000 will run during the current battles over health care and the Supreme Court.

Congress

NV-2:  Sharron Angle (Crazytown) plans to run against Representative Mark Amodei (R) for Nevada’s Second District.  Angle is infamous for perennial runs for office including the 2010 US Senate debacle that meant we had to deal with Harry Reid for 6 more years.

States

MN-Gov/MN-1:  Representative Tim Walz (DFL) will soon make a decision regarding running for Governor or running for reelection to Congress.  If Walz runs for Governor, MN-1 will be a top target for Republicans in 2018.

NJ-Gov: Comedian Joe Piscopo is considering an independent run for Governor.  Politico looks at the hurdles to running as an independent in New Jersey.   Expensive media markets, and arcane ballot position and access rules mean that Piscopo is not likely to be very successful.

Philly-DA:  District Attorney Seth Williams (D) went full circle in his political evolution on Tuesday as he was indicted for corruption.  Williams went from a Bold Progressive darling to a Republican loving DINO to a generic corrupt Philly Democrat.

International

UK-Labour:  The hard left takeover of the Labour Party continues as we are nearing open conflict between the Leader of Her Majesty’s Trotskyist Most Loyal Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.

Philippines:   The New York Times has an interesting piece on Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (Man of the People) and his remarkable rise to power.

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Political Roundup for March 21, 2017

First off, today’s lone election is one of the craziest we’ve seen in a long time. At stake is PA-LD-197, a D+45 (2012), 51% Hispanic/40% Black seat around Hunting Park and Temple Hospital in the heart of the ghettos of North Philly. In spite of these lopsided numbers, the special election is highly competitive, because the only candidate on the ballot is a Republican, medical office manager Lucinda Little (R). The prior machine stooge Democratic nominee was thrown off the ballot for residency violations (he actually lives in Bucks County and water bills showed he used less than one flush a month at his North Philly “home”) and the Dems were unable to replace him. So there is a decent chance this seat, where Democrats have a 17:1 registration advantage, could flip. Democrats are running a write-in campaign, for civil servant Emilio Vasquez (D), a typical machine hack. With ultra-low turnout essentially certain (I would be surprised if more than 2500 total votes were cast in this election), there is a good chance machine backing could get him over the line. But there are other write-ins, most notably 2012 Green Party VP nominee Cheri Honkala (G), a longtime local left-wing activist/publicity-seeker who is actually running the most serious campaign of all candidates (raising over $30K) and could actually have a chance to win given her high name recognition. There are also about half a dozen other Democrats running write-in campaigns that could splinter the vote. So this vote could go any way; right now I’d peg it as a three-way tossup between Little, Honkala, and Vasquez, but given that 1000 votes will likely be enough to win, there’s even a possibility of someone coming out of nowhere. Indeed, we may not know the winner for a while as there is likely to be protracted legal action over write-in ballots. And for those of you who take Trump seriously and literally, this is one to watch: the odds of at least some fraud in this race are huge IMO, given the miniscule number of votes, the question of how to write-in candidates, a large non-English-speaking electorate, and the beyond-shaky history of Philadelphia elections. If you’re interested in more detail on this race, the local blog Philadelinquency has a good comprehensive rundown of this crazy sideshow.

Now the rest of the day’s news:

Senate:

AL-Sen: A hearing has been set for April 12 in Auditor Jim Ziegler’s (R) lawsuit to force Gov. Robert Bentley (R) to hold the special election for the US Senate immediately rather than in November 2018. The spirit of the law seems to suggest a special election should be held immediately, but Bentley’s office argued that the Governor had discretion to delay the contest. Appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R) is considered the strong favorite to finish the term.

IN-Sen: Add Rep. Jim Banks (R) to the list of candidates considering a run against Sen. Joe Donnelly (D). Banks, a somewhat antiestablishment-leaning first-term Rep. from the Fort Wayne area, joins fellow house members Luke Messer (R) and Todd Rokita (R) in considering runs. While the other two appear to be actively laying groundwork, Banks seems to be just in the “not ruling it out” stage, but Banks’s antiestablishment profile could give him a relatively clear lane against the more establishment-flavored Messer and Rokita.

NJ-Sen: SCOTUS has rejected Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D) request to hear his appeal of his indictment on corruption charges, meaning that the Senator will head to trial in September. Menendez is still pledging to seek re-election in 2018, but a conviction would obviously change those plans. Though then again, this is New Jersey…

TN-Sen ’20: It’s often hard to tell what “Celebrity X is thinking about running for office!” stories are for real and which are just clickbait, so salt to taste, but there are rumors flying that Peyton Manning (R) is considering a run to succeed Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) should the latter retire in 2020 as expected.

Governor:

IL-Gov: State Sen. Daniel Biss (D) is the newest candidate into the race to take on Gov. Bruce Rauner (R). Biss is an upscale liberal from Evanston who ran an abortive bid for Comptroller last year but deferred to now-Comptroller and Madigan attack dog Susana Mendoza (D). He joins wealthy businessmen JB Pritzker (D) and Chris Kennedy (D), Chicago councilman Ameya Pawar (D), and downstate local superintendent Bob Daiber (D) in the crowded primary. Regardless of the Dem nominee, the race will likely be decided by the unstoppable force/immovable object clash of personalities between the uber-wealthy Rauner and State House Dictator Speaker Mike Madigan (D).

NY-Gov: 2010 Comptroller nominee Harry Wilson (R) is considering a bid for Governor in 2018. Wilson, a suburban moderate with Upstate roots who narrowly lost the 2010 race despite the deadweight of the polarizing Carl Paladino (R) atop the statewide ticket, could be a formidable contender. At least five other Republicans, Westchester CE and 2014 nominee Rob Astorino (R), ex-Rep. Richard Hanna (R), State Senate President John Flanagan (R), Dutchess CE Marc Molinaro (R), and Paladino, are also thought to be considering the race. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is seeking a third term but may face primary opposition.

TN-Gov: State Sen. Mae Beavers (R) is officially exploring a bid for Governor; the suburban Nashville lawmaker is known as a staunch conservative and could split the anti-establishment vote with fellow State Sen. Mark Green (R), a declared candidate but also a rumored possibility for Trump’s Army Secretary. Gov. Haslam administration official Randy Boyd (R) is the other Republican in the race, but many others, including State House Speaker Beth Harwell (R), are considering. Ex-Nashville Mayor Karl Dean (D) is in on the Dem side, while State Rep. Craig Fitzhugh (D) is considering.

House:

CA-34: Well, it looks like we have a rival to Brianna Wu for the congressional candidate living embodiment of just about everything sane people can hate about SJWism. Obama White House staffer Alejandra Campoverdi (D) is one of the multitude of also-rans in this race seeking to advance to a runoff with the heavily-favored State Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D). Campoverdi thus far hasn’t been getting a whole lot of traction, and thus anyone watching the race had no reason to know or care that she once posed for the pornographic magazine Maxim. But she now has published an essay in Cosmo saying she wants people to get over it, which will of course get her plenty of additional SJW victim cred in her very-left wing downtown LA seat. I tend to be of the philosophy that I could care less what you do with your life as long as I don’t have to hear about it, and I wish more people would take that to heart.

GA-6: Clout Research (Wenzel) has a new poll out, showing former congressional staffer Jon Osoff (D) jumping out to a lead with 41 as the only serious Dem in the field. Ex-SoS Karen Handel (R) and Johns Creek councilman Bob Gray (R) are tied for the second runoff spot with 16% each. Republicans combine to lead the combined Democratic total 48-44, a narrower-than-expected margin in this historically-Republican district. Democrats appear to be stacking all their chips on Osoff for a win in the next few months, bypassing other specials in Montana, KS-4, and SC-5.

WATN: Ex-Rep. Steve Stockman (R), who represented southeast suburban Houston from 1994 to 96 and then again represented the current TX-36 from 2012 to 2014, was indicted last week on charges of running a phony charity for his personal use.

State & Local:

CA-Supt: 2014 candidate and charter-school executive Marshall Tuck (D) is mounting a second bid for the office he lost narrowly three years ago to incumbent Tom Torlakson (D). Tuck, a moderate, faced strong opposition from teachers’ unions in his first bid, and will likely be a target of their fire again for the open seat; however, his name recognition from 2014 could prove quite valuable in standing out from the field without an incumbent to take on.

CO-AG: Boulder DA Stan Garnett (D) is mounting a second bid for the office of AG, which he lost as the 2010 nominee. Garnett, a staunch liberal, will face State Rep. Joe Salazar (D), who is also very liberal, in the primary to take on first-term incumbent Cynthia Coffman (R).

GA-SoS: SoS Brian Kemp (R) has not officially kicked off his expected run for Governor, but a candidate is already lining up to succeed him. State Rep. Buzz Brockway (R) of Gwinnett County has become the first candidate to declare interest in the seat, but says he will only run if Kemp follows through on his bid for Governor. Brockway seems likely to be a strong contender for the post.

IA-SoS: Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert (D) is considering a run against SoS Paul Pate (R). Weipert is the first Democrat to publicly consider a run against Pate, who is likely to seek a third term (second consecutive) in the post after a term in the 90s.

NE-SoS: Nebraska SoS John Gale (R) will retire and not seek a fifth full term in 2018. State Sen. John Murante (R) and former elected state school board member Bob Evnen (R) have been mentioned as possible candidates for the open seat.

NM-Lands Comm: Ex-Lands Commissioner Ray Powell (D) is mounting a rematch against the man who defeated him by 704 votes in 2014, incumbent Aubrey Dunn Jr. (R). Powell’s career has had more than its share of ups and downs: he lost the 1986 gubernatorial election as his first entry into politics, was appointed Lands Commissioner and elected for two terms from 1993 to 2002, lost a primary for his old job in 2006 before winning a third term in 2010, and then losing in a shock upset three years ago as non-incumbent Democrats were carrying three of the five row offices. As a result, it’s hard to peg how strong a candidate he will be.

SD-AG: Lawrence County (pop.25K) DA John Fitzgerald (R) has become the second candidate into this open seat race, joining 2014 Senate candidate Jason Ravnsborg (R). Incumbent Marty Jackley (R) is running for Governor.

WI-AG: Former federal prosecutor Josh Kaul (D), son of 2000s-era ex-AG Peg Lautenschlager (D), is considering a run for his mom’s old job against incumbent Brad Schimel (R). Lautenschlager’s legacy was tarnished by a DUI conviction while the sitting AG, which caused her to lose a primary for a second term in 2006.

WI-Supt: Incumbent Superintendent Tony Evers (D) has released his first ad ahead of the election in two weeks. Evers’s spot attacks his opponent, local superintendent Lowell Holtz (R), for a harebrained scheme Holtz apparently hatched to give his primary opponent a high-paying job in the Superintendent’s office in exchange for dropping out of the race. Holtz, who has raised little, is probably unlikely to air ads of his own.

NYC-Mayor: Councilman Eric Ulrich (R), who represents a deep-blue district in Ozone Park, Queens, won’t run for Mayor this year, and will seek re-election. Ulrich’s decision leaves well-funded developer Paul Massey (R) as the most likely GOP nominee. Mayor Bill DeBlasio (D) is likely to be renominated for a second term but may face primary opposition.

NV-Municipal: Here’s a good rundown of the key municipal elections going on in Las Vegas and its suburbs two weeks from today. The most exciting race at stake appears to be one of three city council races in Las Vegas, district 6. There, ex-State Rep. and 2016 NV-3 candidate Michelle Fiore (R), a polarizing libertarian-conservative known for her at times over-the-top support for anti-government causes, is facing off with the wife of the outgoing Democratic incumbent for a swingy council seat. The piece also has information about the two other council races in Las Vegas and Mayoral races in the suburbs of North Las Vegas and Henderson.

Miscellany:

Blogosphere: Sad news that Jon Richards, editor of the excellent blog Georgiapol.com, has been moved to hospice care for Stage 4 cancer. Our thoughts are with him and his family.

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OH-Gov: Rep. Jim Renacci (R) is in

As has been expected for some time, four-term Rep. Jim Renacci (R) announced today that he will enter the crowded GOP primary for Ohio Governor. The open Ohio Governor’s race seems likely to be the cycle’s most chaotic primary contest, on both sides. Renacci joins a titanic four-way collision with AG Mike DeWine (R), LG Mary Taylor (R), and SoS Jon Husted (R). He has a base in his suburban Akron and Cleveland based district, and independent wealth that will allow him to go toe-to-toe with his three statewide-elected rivals. Ideologically, Renacci seems to be trying to stake out a niche as the most populist/Trump-friendly candidate. Democrats are likely to see a crowded primary as well, with ex-Rep. Betty Sutton (D), State Sen. Joe Schiavoni (D), and ex-State Rep. Connie Pillich (D) already in the race and many others considering.

As for Renacci’s OH-16, the formerly light-red seat has been trending right in recent years and had a PVI of R+9 in 2016. The mostly-suburban and exurban seat stretches from the southwest suburbs of Cleveland around the south and west sides of Akron, with small pieces of the Canton area and some rural areas west of Canton as well.

The most obvious potential candidate is one of Renacci’s gubernatorial rivals, LG Mary Taylor (R), who could easily drop down to this race and be the clear front-runner if she decides she doesn’t like the way her polling for Gov is looking. State Sen. Frank LaRose (R), who has been looking at an SoS run, could also find this race a greener pasture. Beyond them, State Rep. Tom Patton (R), a former State Senate GOP leader, could have strong institutional support if he runs, but an incident last year in which he said his opponent couldn’t be an effective legislator because she was a mother could come back to bite him. State Senate President Larry Obhof (R) and young State Rep. Christina Hagan (R) also look like potentially strong candidates. Cuyhaoga County GOP chair Ron Frost (R), State Reps. Scott Wiggam (R) and Kristina Roegner (R), and Wayne county commissioner Ron Amstutz (R) have all been great-mentioned.

Democrats will have a tough time flipping this seat but may make a play for it if they are serious about putting the House in play. Ex-Parma Mayor Dean DePiero (D) looks like the most serious potential Dem candidate, and he has already said that he will consider a run for the open seat. There is also a possibility that Sutton, who lost to Renacci in 2012 after her seat was subsumed into this one by redistricting, could drop down from the Gov race. But overall any GOP nominee will be a relatively strong favorite to hold the seat.

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Political Roundup for March 20th, 2017

As you pick yourself up off of the floor and kick aside a mug with a little green beer still at the bottom, here’s a warm serving of electoral news to help with the hangover.

Big Picture

Turnout: It looks like turnout in 2016 was about halfway between 2008 (62.2%) and 2012 (58.8%) at 60.2% of eligible voters. Then again, how would we know? New York City is still counting.

Congress

PA-Sen: Ah, crap. The Libertarians found a Senate candidate for 2018 in Pennsylvania. It’s not like Republicans had anything more than an outside chance at beating Sen. Bob Casey (D) anyway, but now it’ll be even harder.

UT-Sen/UT-03: Former Presidential candidate Egg McMuffin, err, Evan McMullin (I?) is thinking about primarying either Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) or Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) in 2018. He’d likely go down in flames to either incumbent, but he’s free to pick his own poison.

MT-AL: Roll Call points out that GA-06 is the only special House race where the Democrats are playing, and in so doing confirms that national Democrats are doing jack squat in Montana. Musician Rob Quist (D), their nominee there by convention, appears to be on his own.

Governor

MN-Gov: Lt. Gov. Tina Smith (D) has canned her long-expected gubernatorial bid. She was a big fish in a fairly crowded pond as far as Democratic hopefuls for Governor were concerned. The announcement should have some fallout both in front of and behind the scenes as allegiances shift.

MN-Gov Continued: …aaaannndd here it is! In the wake of Smith’s exit, Rep. Tim Walz (D)  has now privately confirmed that he’s running for Governor. Word on Twitter is that he’s also secured the backing of Rep. Collin Peterson (D). If true, that would be significant. Only Rep. Rick Nolan (D), who is also a rumored gubernatorial candidate, would stand in Walz’s way as far as uniting outstate Democrats is concerned. Remember folks, this contest will likely be decided at a convention, so the dynamics are a bit different than nominating contests in other states.

NJ-Gov:  SNL alum and radio host Joe Piscopo has quashed rumors that he’ll be running for Governor of New Jersey as a Republican. However, he still hasn’t ruled out a run as an Independent.

NJ-Gov Continued: In that same Republican primary, Lt. Gov Kim Guadagno and Assmb. Jack Ciattarelli are currently battling to get top placement on primary ballots in various counties. Ciattarelli got the top spot in Mercer County the other day. Guadagno countered by winning in Bergen. The fight continues, though Guadagno is favored.

VA-Gov: The Post got a bit dramatic with their headline on this one, but yes, the Virginia Governor’s race is important. In fact, it’s heating up, at least for the Democrats. Early on, it looked like Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) had the nomination locked up. Now the landscape looks different, with former Rep. Tom Perriello (D) gaining ground. In fact, Perriello was just endorsed by John Podesta. This is his second Clintonista endorsement, which is impressive for someone so long associated with Team Obama.

VA-Gov Continued: In other news about the race that always gets covered more than New Jersey’s because it’s across the river from DC, distillery owner Denver Riggleman (R) has dropped out of the Republican primary. Riggleman had sought to form an antiestablishment coalition of primary voters, but soon found that very few Republicans in Virginia are anti-Ed Gillespie. At least he’s smarter than Prince William County Executive Corey Stewart (R), who has yet to discover this and is therefore still running for the nomination.

State/Local

OK-SD-44: Even Edwin Edwards admits that he couldn’t get out of this one. Oklahoma State Sen. Ralph Shortey (R) was literally found with a live boy in a motel room. Shortey had paid the 17-year-old for sex. Needless to say, a special election for this OKC district will be forthcoming.

PA-HD-197: In this latest chapter of our saga about residency requirements and adorably racist party bosses, yet another improbable thing has happened; a historically black newspaper wrote a puff piece about a Republican candidate. No, really. Click the link, I swear. The Philadelphia Tribune wrote a profile of special election candidate Lucinda Little (R), and it’s downright favorable. I still think she’ll lose to a write-in, but the way things are going, the stars are aligning for the unthinkable.

VA-HD-72: Del. Jimmie Massey (R) is retiring at the last minute. This is significant because his Henrico County district narrowly went for Clinton. It’s more Republican downballot, but could be competitive.

WATN: Former State Sen. Morgan Carroll (D), last seen losing a race for CO-06 to Rep. Mike Coffman (R), has been elected Chairwoman of the Colorado Democratic Party. That’s normal. What’s weird is that both her rhetoric and the article suggest that the state party is in a shambles. I’m not saying it’s breaking records for dominance, but I wouldn’t call a party that holds the governorship, half the legislature, 3/7 House seats, and a Senate seat one that needs rebuilding, either. That’s especially true when you consider the fact that the state has now voted Democratic in the last three presidential elections. What are they smoking? Oh, wait…

International

UK-LibDems: Liberal Democratic Leader Tim Farron is calling on all Tories who have Remain-voting constituencies to defect to his party or resign. He’s threatening to beat at the polls all who don’t stand aside or switch. Given that the Tories just had a poll come out putting them on 43% with a 17-point lead at a snap election, I don’t think he’ll have many takers. Then again, with only nine seats to his party’s name, he doesn’t have much to lose by swinging for the fences.

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Weekend Open Thread for March 17-20, 2017

Welcome to the weekend! Here are some questions to keep ponder after St Paddy’s Day:

  1. Who will finish in the top two in GA-6?
  2. Who will be the next major retirement announcement?
  3. What will be the biggest upset in 2017?

And because it it the weekend we give you the greatest thing you will ever see HERE