Fourth-term Rep. Blake Farenthold (R) will not seek re-election after being caught up in the #pervnado. Farenthold admitted he had settled a lawsuit from a former staffer, Lauren Greene, alleging sexual harassment, for $85K three years ago. A second accusation of innapropriate behavior this week made his position increasingly untenable. Making the situation a bit complicated is that Farenthold had already filed for re-election before the filing deadline closed this week. However, he had drawn two serious primary challengers for his R+13 TX-27 stretching from Corpus Christi north to Victoria and on to rural areas on the southern outskirts of Austin, and those will now be the major candidates for the open seat. Water board member Bech Bruun (R) seems to be the front-runner, but Victoria County GOP chair Michael Cloud (R) is also running a serious campaign and has Ron Paul’s endorsement (who represented most of this seat in the 2000s). Democrats did not put up a serious candidate for this seat as best I can tell, and without Farenthold their long odds probably go down to a negligible level.
As the weather this early morning in Pittsburgh resembles the electoral chances of Republicans in 2018, it is time for today’s roundup:
Congress / National
Republican Fear: The New York Times has a great article articulating the rampant fear running through the Republican ranks and those who really just want out of town because the place has become such a freak show in the Era of the Donald:
- PA-15: Representative Charlie Dent (R) might resign early to take a TV gig giving the Democrats a special election pickup opportunity.
- AZ-Sen: Republicans are scared that Senator John McCain (R-War Hero) might resign or die soon and the strongest candidate to replace retiring Senator Jeff Flake (R), Representative Martha McSally (R-McCain’s Political Heir) might be appointed to replace McCain instead of nominated to replace Flake. Such a switch might leave Chemtrails Kelli Ward (R-Crazytown) as the Republican nominee to replace Flake since former Representative Trent Franks (R-Creep) resigned due to his efforts to impregnate staffers.
- NV-Sen: National Republicans plan to aggressively attack Ward along with perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian (R-Used to be sane) who’s trying to primary Senator Dean Heller (R) for not being conservative enough and not being a Trump sycophant.
- MS-Sen: Speaking of nuts, Chris McDaniel (Confederacy) is still leaning towards a primary run against Senator Roger Wicker (R). Dirty Roy’s loss is not scaring this Bannon sycophant away. Here is more on McDaniel as well.
- UT-Sen: Salt Lake County Council member Jenny Wilson (D) is running against Senator Orrin Hatch (R), who might or might not run depending on how much Hatch is pushed by President Trump to prevent former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Adult in Room) from being anointed Senator-For-Life.
Iowa: President Trump is wildly unpopular in Iowa. Trump has a 35% approval rating in a state he won by 10% a year ago. In addition, similar numbers find the country heading in the wrong direction. Iowans give their state good numbers though with 47% to 40% saying the state is heading in the right direction. Not surprising seeing the Republicans won a state Senate seat in Iowa on Tuesday by 8% when Trump won it by 40% in 2016.
AZ-Sen: Speaking of McCain, his health is taking a turn for the worse. He is in our thoughts.
Infrastructure: Seeing that the Donald is mortally wounded, Democrats are not going to put any effort into reaching a bipartisan deal on infrastructure.
Obamacare: Repeal of Obamacare is now dead with the Democrats winning AL-Sen.
Trump/AL-Sen: President Trump was relatively well behaved after Dirty Roy Moore’s loss on Tuesday. Politico says advisers attribute it to Trump being prepared for the loss beforehand and not really liking Dirty Roy in the first place.
The Perverts and Enablers
AL-Sen: Dirty Roy Moore (R-Jesus Sometimes) refuses to concede defeat. His steadfast hypocrisy makes you wonder if he is a distant relative of former PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D-Persisted Too Much).
NV-4: A second accusation of sexual misconduct has been made against Representative Ruben Kihuen (D). Kihuen just had to behave himself and he could have had a relatively comfortable career in Congress representing a district that will only get safer for him.
OH-9: Representative Marcy Kaptur (D) is in water hotter than Lake Erie has ever been over comments she reportedly made that have been interpreted as “slut-shaming”. I suspect such statements will enrage some in her district, but will likely not enrage that many considering the demographics of the seat.
MN-Lt. Gov/MN-State Senate: The appointment of Lt. Governor Tina Smith (DFL) to the US Senate will elevate State Senate President Michelle Fischbach to Lt. Governor while she remain President of the Senate. This is consequential to the extent that Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) is battling cancer.
Gov. Mark Dayton (D) has appointed his closest confidante, LG Tina Smith (D), to the Senate seat of Al Franken (D) – who has still not yet resigned. Contrary to the initial reports, Smith will run in the 2018 special election to fill the seat, and will probably start the race as the clear front-runner in both the Dem primary and the general election; however, Smith is probably not imposing enough to avoid some serious opposition in the primary or general; in particular, Rep. Keith Ellison (D) seems like the type who could buck the establishment and pose a serious threat. For the general, Republicans’ top candidate at the moment is probably ex-Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), who is considering the race and probably won’t be scared by Smith, who has never won an election on her own, as he might have been by, say, popular AG Lori Swanson (D).
The other wrinkle in this is what might happen to the LG seat; Senate President Michelle Fischbach (R) is set to become the state’s #2, but that may be a bad deal for her as she would give up 3 years as Senate president for 1 as LG. (Update: Or maybe not – in 1898 it appears that the MN Supremes decided that a State Senator can be LG and remain in the Senate however there was a constitutional amendment 80 years ago that may or may not override that 1898 precedent. This could be decided in court). See our Great Mentioner here for more detailed speculation as to who may run in the special election.
Bless your heart, Steve Bannon. In other news from last night, Jim Carlin (R) held IA-SD-3 by a narrower-than-expected 8-point margin.
Please, no Moore: Unsurprisingly,The Economist nailed the dynamics of yesterday’s special senatorial election in Alabama. It also correctly pointed out the needle Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) would need to thread to win.
Heritage, Not Hate: Those that fail to learn from their history are doomed to repeat it. Inspired by the Donald’s blaming of “both sides” during a standoff between white supremacists and their opponents, The Economist was inspired to look into the nationalist/populist infatuation with the Confederate battle flag. What did it find? The brand of anti-elitism preached by Steve Bannon (“R”-His Delusions) and his ilk was once shared by two important groups: 1) those fighting for the Confederacy, and 2) many northerners who saw the abolitionist movement as an elite conspiracy to free up a source of cheap labor.
Whataboutism: Politico looks at the evolution of Trump enthusiasts’ defense of their hero’s alleged sexual assaults since the October 2016 Access Hollywood tape leak.
Steve Bannon, Great Populist: ICYMI, defender of the common man Steve Bannon (“R”-Hidden) attacked Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough (I-New Canaan) on an Alabama stage days before the state’s special senatorial election. For what? Bannon, a Georgetown and Harvard alum, exclaimed that he went to better schools than did Scarborough. Where, exactly, is Scarborough’s alma mater? …the University of Alabama. Please tell me more about Bannon’s political savvy.
Taxes: Many billionaires (read: donors) are saying that they don’t find the current tax bills tremendous. Sad!
Only the Best (No, Really): Arguing that the parties are more divided than they’ve been since the Civil War, Mort Kondracke calls for a moderate revolution composed of “the best.” Who? Those that would set aside their differences to work toward civility and common-sense solutions.
Party ID: Since the 2016 election, the GOP has seen a marked drop in partisan identification.
Democrats: Citing inadequate responses to the #pervnado, younger congressional Democrats are calling for a passing of the leadership torch on Capitol Hill.
Bipartisan Friendships: Who said bipartisan friendships on Capitol Hill are dead? Read this article to find out which New York Democrats(!) are legitimate friends of Ted Cruz(!!) and Louie Gohmert(!!!).
MN-Sen: Governor Mark Dayton (D-Target) plans to name a replacement at 10:00 AM today for latest pervnado casualty,
Stuart Smalley Al Franken (D-SNL).
TX-27: Duck, duck, goo… The Houston Chronicle breaks down the candidates aiming to take out the four-term ducky pajama wearer Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi).
AL-Sen: Last night, Doug Jones accomplished an unprecedented historical feat: he subdued Donald Trump.
IL-Gov/C[r]ook County Assessor: A recent investigation by the Chicago Tribune revealed C[r]ook County Assessor Joe Berrios (D-Chicago)’ corrupt handling of property tax appeals. To wit, wealthy donors were able to get their property taxes reduced; many got reductions significantly below market value. Accordingly, on Monday, Governor Bruce Rauner (R-Winnetka) demanded that Berrios resign. One of Rauner’s potential Democratic opponents, Heir Extraordinaire J.B. Pritzker (D-Chicago), attacked Rauner. Apparently, the governor and the paper were on a “witch hunt.”
MA-Gov/Zoning: Massachusetts Gubnah Chahlie Baykah (R-Swampscott) has latched onto a popular issue: building more housing in Massachusetts. More residential development which would keep housing affordable and boost the economy. His solution? Eliminating the biggest stumbling block: the state’s supermajority requirement for zoning changes.
#StandWithWendy: The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has graced the hoi polloi with an update on the plans of Wendy Davis (D-Austin) and her pink sneakers. Davis, who ruled out a 2018 gubernatorial bid, is apparently not (yet) ruling out a 2022 gubernatorial bid. Surely, Texas will be dark blue by then.
1036 ET – We are going to call it a night.
1032 ET – AP called it for Jones joining RRHElections.
1026 ET – People are going to dismiss this as just because of Moore, but there is clearly an anti-Trump undercurrent in formerly heavily Republican suburban areas.
1020 ET – Jones has taken the lead finally. Only downhill from here for Moore.
1016 ET – Barring some sort of freakish counting in Jefferson County, Jones appears to be on track to a 2% win. We now live in the Dictatorship of Senator Collins and Justice Kennedy.
1012 ET – It appears that suburban voters even in Alabama are not buying the Trump/Moore version of the Republican Party.
1005 ET – Moore’s lead has been cut down to less than 1% with Jefferson County making another large vote dump.
1000 ET – At this time, I don’t see how Moore wins this barring turnout going over a cliff in Birmingham.
955 ET – The NY Times prediction model continues to have Jones leading, but it seems to be getting less certain of that as more results come in.
951 ET – Crazy one from tonight’s exit poll… Roy Moore is winning college educated white women by 11%. Romney won them by 55%.
942 ET – More votes are coming in, but Moore’s margin is not falling. At 65% and Moore is up 6%.
933 ET – The New York Times predictor dial is going crazy. Not as crazy as 2016 POTUS though.
930 ET – We have reached 50% of precincts counted – Moore is up by 4%.
922 ET – I am going to open a new thread due to technical issues with the initial thread. With 41% in, Roy Moore leads Doug Jones by 5 points. The NY Times predictor is calling for a Jones victory of about 4%.
9:54 ET: More votes are coming in at 68% and Moore is up 50.6% to 48%. Moore has 24K vote lead.
9:30 ET: Total precincts reporting 958/2220 Jones 211,850 votes 46% Moore 237,653 votes 52% Write-in 6,337 1%
902 ET: With one hour since the polls closing in the books, Roy Moore has a 12 point lead over Doug Jones with 12% in.
850 ET: Dirty Roy has taken the lead with 5% in. He is up 51 to 48, but I think it will definitely swing back the other way a few times even if Moore ends up winning.
845 ET: It appears Moore is running a few points behind his 2012 numbers with 3% in.
840 ET: With 1 percent in, Jones leads Moore by a 20% margin.
825 ET: The results we are getting are on the county level so who knows where they are coming from.
816 ET: A few results are starting to trickle in, but nothing of consequence. We are probably a half hour away from a better picture.
809 ET: We are experiencing intermittent technical issues, but our Twitter feed is going strong.
800 ET: Polls have closed in Alabama.
750 ET: Ten minutes until polls close in Alabama to see if a pro-choice liberal can beat a child molester in Alabama.
645 ET: We still have over an hour until the polls close in Alabama, but I am going to open up the thread for discussion of the exit polling, which appears to be bad for Roy Moore.
Today is the Alabama Senate special election. We will have a results liveblog up later tonight when polls close.
CT-Gov, CT-AG: As expected, prosecutor Chris Mattei (D) is dropping out of the face for Governor to run for Attorney General. He will join State Rep. William Tong (D) in the primary for AG.
MI-Gov: Wealthy progressive “scientist” Shri Thanedar (D) is on the air early with a new commercial in which he wears a lab coat, looks stupidly at a beaker, proclaims “science” and attacks Donald Trump and Gov. Rick Snyder. The Michigan gubernatorial primaries are in August.
OH-Gov, OH-LG: Rep. Jim Renacci (R) has tapped Cincinnati councilwoman Amy Murray (R) as running mate.
RI-Gov: Former state Rep. Joe Trillo (R) is leaving the GOP to run as a right-wing independent spoiler for Governor. Internal polls for Cranston Mayor Allan Fung showed Fung crushing Trillo in the GOP primary and showed Fung leading incumbent Gov. Gina Raimondo by a 46% to 41% margin. Having Trillo siphon off votes from his right in the general election will only hurt Fung’s chances of winning next November.
AL-Sen: Polls have been all over the place and this election will really come down to turnout today. With that in mind President Donald Trump has made robocalls on behalf of Roy Moore (R). It is important to give credit where credit is due. One of the fears of #NeverTrump conservatives was that as President Donald Trump would hang congressional Republicans out to dry and wouldn’t lift a finger to help them get re-elected. Now that we see the efforts Trump has made for an accused child molester just to give Senate Republicans an extra vote I think it is safe to say the #NeverTrump folks were wrong. In fact most #NeverTrump folks are probably horrified at the length President Trump is willing to go to to ensure a GOP Senate!
IN-Sen: State Rep. Mike Braun (R), the self-funding third wheel in the Rokita/Messer primary fight, voted in Democrat primaries for over 20 years until 2012.
MN-Sen: Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) is considering running in the special election to fill the remainder of Democrat Sen. Al Franken’s term if Franken follows up on his promise to resign in disgrace and go away.
WY-Sen: Here’s a blast from the bast! 2006/08 House nominee Gary Trauner (D), who was a SwingStateProject favorite and came closer than expected in both of his runs during Democrat wave years will run for Senate vs incumbent Sen. John Barrasso (R). Barrasso was re-elected in 2012 with 76% of the vote.
VA-Sen: We are not sure if the Virginia GOP US Senate primary is reality or an elaborate Onion parody. Three days after Republican Senate candidate Corey Stewart tweeted “@TheDemocrats got cocky forging @BarackObamabirth certificate. Thought they could slip phony #AllredYearbookFraud by on @MooreSenate. Sad!!” EW Jackson (R) kicked off his Senate campaign by accusing Corey Stewart of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood! Luckily for sane Republicans there is talk of Jim Gilmore (of all people) entering the GOP primary because that’s how batsh**t crazy things have gotten for the Virginia GOP that JAMES STUART GILMORE III is now thought of as a potential savior! Of course Del. Nick Freitas (R) is running as well but why would the Virginia GOP want to back a former Green Beret who served two tours in Iraq, who has a solid conservatarian record and is not completely insane.
AZ-8: Gov. Doug Ducey (R) has set February 27th as date of the special primary and April 24th as the special general election to fill the vacant R+13 seat formerly held by Rep. Trent Franks (R- Republic of Gilead). Former Public Service Commissioner Bob Stump (R) and state Sen. Steve Montenegro have become he first candidates to throw his hat in the ring for the special election. Former state Rep. Phil Lovas (R) resigned his post at the national Small Business Association in anticipation of a run for this congressional seat. State Rep. Darrin Mitchel (R) is also interested in running.
CA-48: LOL! Former Google executive Rachel Payne is the 8th Democrat to enter the jungle primary for this R+4 seat held by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R). The unbelievably large field of Democrats increases the odds that Republican Stelian Onufrei could make the top two runoff with Rohrabacher.
MI-11: Businessman Suneel Gupta (D), brother of CNN TV Doctor Sanjay Gupta becomes the 5th Democrat to enter the primary for the open R+4 seat Rep. Dave Trott (R) is retiring from.
NC-13: Rich lady Kathy Manning (D) will run for the Democrat nomination to challenge Rep. Ted Bud in this R+6 seat. Manning can self fund her campaign.
KY-6: After Democrat activist sunk over $800,000 into Amy McGrath’s viral campaign for this R+9 seat held by Rep. Andy Barr (R), Lexington Mayor Jim Gray decided to tell her she can’t be a Congressman. Now jockeying has opened up for Lexington mayoral office which Gray will vacate to run for Congress instead.
Yesterday was the filing deadline in Texas so we have a lot of Texas news today
TX-21: Former Ted Cruz Chief of Staff Chip Roy (R) will run for this R+10 seat currently held by retiring Rep. Lamar Smith (R). Roy’s campaign is being staffed by a number of Cruz campaign veterans.
TX-27: Bech Bruun (R), who serves on a state water board, has filed to run against Rep. Blake Farenthold (R) who is one of the many Congressmen caught up in the pervnado. Bruun joins Victoria County GOP chair John Cloud (R) in the GOP primary against Farenhold in the R+13 seat.
TX-29: Former Harris County Sheriff and unsuccessful 2015 Houston Mayoral candidate Adrian Garcia (D) will not run for Congress in this open D+19 seat of retiring Rep. Gene Greene. Garcia will instead run for a purple R-held Harris County commission seat.
TX-32: Television reporter Brett Shipp (D) filed to run in the Democrat primary to challenge Rep. Pete Sessions in this R+5 district. Shipp joins a very crowded field for the Democrat nomination which include former Hillary Clinton senior adviser Ed Meier, former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development special assistant Colin Allred, former deputy undersecretary for rural development Lilian Salerno and Dallas lawyer George Rodriguez.
State, Local & Other:
AR-Lands Comm: Democrats seem to have landed a semi-credible candidate for Land Commissioner in ex-Garland CE Larry Williams (D). Finding credible candidates to run for office has become increasingly difficult for the Arkansas Democrat Party.
SC-AG: State Rep. Todd Atwater (R) is in and will launch a primary challenge to incumbent Alan Wilson (R).
TX-Lands Comm: Ex-Lands Commissioner Jerry Patterson (R), who lost the GOP primary for Lt Governor last year, will primary incumbent George P. Bush.
KY HD-49: Kentucky state Rep. Dan Johnson (R), who was blasted for sharing racist facebook posts last year but won anyway, is accused of molesting a 17-year old.
Tomorrow is, of course, the closely-watched special election for US Senate in Alabama. Polls close at 8p ET and we will of course be liveblogging. If you’ve been reading this blog (or even following political news) regularly, you probably don’t need me to recap the gory details, but just in case, we shall revisit the circus. Scroll down to participate in a poll of our site readership…
Ex-State Supreme Court Justice (and RRH 2017 Turkey of the Year Award Winner) Roy Moore (R) is the GOP nominee. Moore’s first stint on the state Supreme Court ended with his removal after he refused to take down a statue of the Ten Commandments in front of the courthouse. After being re-elected to the court in 2012 (by a single-digit margin), Moore was removed again over ordering state officials to disregard SCOTUS’s Obergefell decision. Moore has had a dedicated base of social conservatives, but is something of a one-note character on religious issues. Indeed, Moore made a notable gaffe in the primary campaign when he appeared to have no idea what the DACA program was. That single-minded focus on religious social conservatism always made Moore a tough sell to less-devout Republicans. But Alabama is still among the most religious states in the nation, and his evangelical base, along with Trumpist vitriol against the establishment and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), was enough to carry him to a primary win – and looked likely to carry him to a solid, if unimpressive, general election win in the deep-red state. But then of course November happened, and an explosive story from the Washington Post that Moore was, in the words of our Turkey of the Year nomination, proving that “mall-walking is a great way for our senior citizens to stay young.” Several women have accused him, in well-corroborated accounts, of habitually and aggressively hitting on teenage girls while a 30-something prosecutor in the late 70s and early 80s, including incidents that might have been prosecutable as statutory rape had they come to light within the statute of limitations. Moore’s crisis management of the situation was beyond terrible, giving several awkward interviews in which he didn’t deny the stories. The situation caused many national Republicans to disown Moore, and some, including Sen. Cory Gardner (R), have called for his outright expulsion from the chamber should he win.
The beneficiary of this circus looked set to be Moore’s rival, ex-US Attorney Doug Jones (D). Jones was a well-regarded prosecutor in the Clinton administration, but mostly stepped up to run here when no other Democrat wanted to. Indeed, he even had something of a tough time beating a random Some Dude in the Democratic primary, and before the allegations he was thought likely to turn in a relatively typical double-digit loss, like most other Alabama statewide Dems in the deep-red and inelastic state. But once the Moore story broke, Jones became the focus of a torrent of Dem enthusiasm, which led to massive fundraising… but also much closer scrutiny of his positions. And Jones did himself no favors as that phase of the race intensified; with his poll numbers surging amid Moore disgust, he felt no need to even feint to the center and hide his staunchly liberal views. In particular, Jones’s pro-choice stance, including support for late-term abortion, is an anathema to the median Alabama voter. That position, combined with an environment ripe for whataboutism as Democrats (at least temporarily) rallied around Moore’s fellow perverts Sen. Al Franken (D) and Rep. John Conyers (D), has led to a sense Republicans slowly have been flowing back to Moore as a tolerable evil.
For a time, there was a frantic scramble among Republicans for a write-in candidate. After no truly credible write-in emerged, retired marine Lee Busby (R) entered the race two weeks ago. Busby is essentially a Some Dude and has no name recognition, though he does have a borderline credible resume from serving as vice-COS to James Mattis when the latter was a general. Busby might get a point or two from anti-Moore Republicans disgusted with both options, but it seems unlikely he will take enough to materially impact the race.
Polls in this race have seesawed wildly, going from a Moore lead to a significant Jones lead after the allegations broke and back to a moderate Moore lead in the last two weeks (though a minority have Jones in the lead) Overall the race is almost impossible to peg, but there is a general sense that Alabama’s conservatism and the inability of Jones and national Dems to capitalize on the situation have swung the race back Moore’s way. However, an upset is still possible and outcomes ranging between double-digit wins *for either candidate* would not entirely shock me depending on how turnout shakes out. For more info, I recommend this article from Geoffrey Skelley at UVA/Crystal Ball, which has county baselines. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Lean R.
There are also four legislative specials tomorrow in three states. The lone general is in Iowa. IA-SD-3 is an R+21 seat wrapping around (but not including) Sioux City, including some outer suburbs, as well as rural areas near Le Mars. State Rep. Jim Carlin (R) is the clear favorite to move to the upper chamber over local superintendent Todd Wendt (D) unless we have some sort of Oklahoma situation. There are also three primaries, two in Alabama and one in Oklahoma. AL-SD-26 is a ~D+30 seat covering essentially all of Montgomery’s black-majority neighborhoods. Five Democrats are facing off, three of them quite prominent. State Rep. John Knight (D) is the front-runner as he has backing from the powerful teachers’ union, but he could face a runoff with one of two Montgomery councilmen, David Burkette (D) and Fred Bell (D). Two other Dems, teacher Tony Cobb (D) and a Some Dude, look like long-shots to make a runoff. The winner will be a prohibitive favorite over a GOP Some Dude in the general. AL-LD-4 is a ~R+22 seat covering eastern Decatur, extreme southwestern Huntsville, and nearby suburban areas around where I-65 crosses the Tennessee River. Businessman and Trump campaign operative Tom Fredericks (R) looks like the clear front-runner, but may be held to a runoff with either marketing manager and hospital board member Parker Moore (R) or dentist Tom Willis (R). The primary winner will be favored over a Democratic Some Dude in the general. Finally, OK-SD-27 is an R+37 seat covering the Panhandle and rural areas at the northwest corner of the state near Woodward. Six Republicans are facing off in the crowded primary. State Rep. Casey Murdock (R) and RNC member Carolyn McClarty (R) look like the front-runners, but teacher Travis Templin (R) and businessman and veteran Jeff Hall (R) also seem serious enough to pull an upset. Two others, 2012/16 candidate Tommy Nicholson (R) and a Some Dude, seem like long-shots. The winner will face local Dem official Amber Jensen (D) in a February general.
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