Here is an open thread for discussion of tonight’s GOP debate, which will be broadcast at 9ET on CBS. The lineup will feature Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Kasich, Bush, and Carson.
So this isn’t an electoral story, but there is no doubt that its electoral impact will be huge in a presidential election year with a divided Supreme Court and divided Senate/Pres balance. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the de facto head of the court’s conservative bloc, has died of natural causes. It’s hard to project what kind of effects this will have because there are a lot of moving parts still unsettled, but the fight to replace him is sure to be a major story.
Happy Presidents’/Valentines Day Weekend. We will have an open thread for the debate tomorrow at 9ET on CBS. Then stay tuned for a Policy Thread on Monday for Presidents’ Day; normal roundups will resume on Tuesday. Here are this week’s questions-
1. Do we as a country put too much emphasis/value on debates? If so, what would you put more emphasis on instead?
2. Who do you consider the most underrated and overrated president in US History? (note: not necessarily best/worst, rather, underrated/overrated by Conventional Wisdom as you see it)
And because it’s Presidents’ Day weekend, we give you a tribute to our lesser-known Presidents.
Finally, after New Hampshire, here’s another straw poll to check the site’s changing preferences. Our next poll will be in two weeks (due to SC being in the middle of next weekend) so be sure to get your vote in this time! We also should have fixed the glitch that made it possible to vote multiple times.
Last week’s poll result was: Rubio (56%); Cruz (13%); Trump (11%); Clinton (9%); Kasich (7%); Sanders (3%); Bush (1%); All Others (0%)
The previous poll gave us: Rubio (48%); Cruz (16%); Trump (10%); Clinton (9%); Kasich (6%);
Paul (3%); Bush (2%); Others 1% or less
Who do you currently support for President?
- Marco Rubio (53%, 39 Votes)
- Ted Cruz (15%, 11 Votes)
- Donald Trump (11%, 8 Votes)
- Hillary Clinton (11%, 8 Votes)
- John Kasich (7%, 5 Votes)
- Michael Bloomberg (3%, 2 Votes)
- Bernie Sanders (1%, 1 Votes)
- Ben Carson (0%, 0 Votes)
- Gary Johnson (0%, 0 Votes)
- Jeb Bush (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 74
South Carolina: The Weekly Standard obtained early topline results from a poll taken by an organization(not named, but not affiliated with a particular candidate) that indicate so far that the results from New Hampshire have not changed things much in South Carolina. The poll has Trump 32, Cruz 26, Rubio 20, Bush 10, Carson 7 and Kasich 2. Trump appears to have gotten no bounce and it is still a 3-man race between Trump, Cruz and Rubio. Bush is still going nowhere and Kasich is faring poorly just as one might expect.
Trump & Sanders: A good article in the National Review about the similarities in Trump’s and Sanders’s messages-it’s all about envy and the thought amongst their supporters that somebody else is trying to cheat them out of what is theirs.
Webb: After taking a look at a possible independent run, former Democratic presidential candidate and Sen. Jim Webb has decided not to mount a bid, saying that the money wasn’t there to run a successful campaign.
FL-Sen(D): Rep. Alan Grayson (D) has been living a double life as a Congressman and a Hedge Fund Manager. The dual role has led to an investigation by the Ethics Committee and the New York Times has obtained emails and marketing documents that indicate just how far the two roles have been intertwined.
FL-Sen(R): Carlos Beruff, a wealthy homebuilder, is considered likely to soon join the race for the GOP nomination for US Senate. Beruff plans to use key members of Gov. Rick Scott’s political team, although others say that shouldn’t be taken as an indication that Scott supports Beruff. Beruff would be joining a field that currently includes LG Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Reps. Ron De Santis and David Jolly and businessman Todd Wilcox.
MO-Sen: Secretary of State Jason Kander (D) is attempting to make an issue of student deferments that Sen. Roy Blunt (R) received during the Vietnam War. Although Kander served in Afghanistan and would be better positioned than some candidates to make an issue of such deferments, Vietnam War-era military service seems to have passed as a serious issue and doesn’t seem likely to hurt Blunt that much.
DCCC: The DCCC has named 16 candidates to its “Red to Blue” program. As an indication of the small playing field they are dealing with, 2 of the candidates on their list are actually “Blue to Blue” candidates running in districts currently held by Democrats-Salud Carbajal in CA-24 and Randall Perkins in FL-18. Also on the list is Val Demings in FL-10, which is considered a safe Democratic seat after redistricting.
LA-4: State Rep. Mike Johnson (R) of Bossier Parish has announced a run for Congress. Johnson is a nationally recognized constitutional law attorney and was elected to his first term in the state House just last year. Johnson has been tabbed as the early frontrunner for the open seat by local media due to high name recognition in the area along with lots of connections and supporters across the district.
NY-22: Businessman Steve Wells has filed to run for Congress. Wells runs American Food and Vending Corp., one of the nations fastest-growing food service companies. He joins state Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney and former 2008 and 2010 Republican nominee George Phillips in the Republican primary.
OR-5: Ben West, who successfully challenged Oregon’s ban on gay marriage, is running for the Republican nomination for Congress. West, along with candidates like Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu in AZ-1, Dan Innis in NH-1 and Jacquie Atkinson in CA-52 are trying to succeed where Richard Tisei and Carl DeMaio have failed recently as successful gay Republican candidates for Congress. West still has to face pro-life advocate Colm Willis and mental health worker Seth Allan in the Republican primary to take on Rep. Kurt Schrader (D).
WI-8: Mike Gallagher, a former policy aide to the presidential campaign of Gov. Scott Walker (R) is considering running for Congress. Gallagher, who currently works for a Green Bay-based energy company led foreign policy briefings for Walker’s campaign and holds a Ph.D in international relations from Georgetown University. A group of 26 business leaders in the Green Bay area released a statement on Tuesday supporting him and was intended to draft him into running, but he isn’t ready to announce a campaign yet.
NH-Gov: Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas (R) is seriously considering running for governor. Gatsas has previously considered running in the past, but says he is more serious this time. Currently, Executive Councilor Chris Sununu is the only Republican running, but state Rep. Frank Edelbut is considering, as is state Sen. Jeanie Forester and state Senate Majority Leader and former Congressman Jeb Bradley has been encouraged to run as well.
WA-LG: State Sen. Steve Hobbs (D) is looking at joining the race for LG. Although LG Brad Owen (D) has not announced his plans, he is expected to not run for re-election. Hobbs strongly inferred that he would have Owen’s support if Owen decides not to run. Also running on the Democratic side are state Sens. Cyrus Habib and Karen Fraser. Republicans running include former TV business news anchor Phillip Yin, University Place Mayor Javier Figuerola and realtor Marty McClendon.
Our next debate between Hillary and Bernie is tonight at 9p ET on PBS. Here is an open thread for anyone who is bored enough to watch it.
As the nightmare of an America where Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have realistic chances of being presidential nominees and some conservatives are hoping to be saved by a gun hating socially liberal pro-big business technocrat former Mayor of New York City continues to set in, here is today’s roundup:
Sanders: Senator Bernie Sanders (Socialist) has raised over $6 million since being declared winner of the Democratic primary in New Hampshire Tuesday evening. Sanders had previously outraised former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) in January by 25%. Bernie will now have the cash to Bern in his socialist crusade.
Trump: After obtaining more votes than his nearest two rivals combined on Tuesday, Donald Trump (Himself) has launched a series of attacks against various targets including Clinton, Sanders, and former Governor Jeb Bush, who continues to cling to political life despite the vast majority of Republicans wanting him, the dynasty he represents, and pretty much anything named Bush to just go away.
Christie: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has left the Republican race. Christie posted a disappointing 6th place finish in New Hampshire, but sat on Senator Rubio’s chances and partially crushed them on the way out.
Fiorina: Speaking of going away, Carly Fiorina is leaving the Republican presidential race. Fiorina never really gained any traction in the race except for brief moments of support after beating the crap out of everyone else in the underdog debates.
Carson: Another candidate who should leave the race, but appears to have voices telling him otherwise is Ben Carson. Carson claims to be receiving intense pressure from his millions of followers to continue his direct mail enterprise / book tour for awhile. I am not sure if these are actual supporters or a mixture of actors hired by those running the direct mail empire affiliated with him or his book publisher.
Kasich: After Governor John Kasich came in second in New Hampshire, many of us have been wondering how he could use this to advance further in the race. The Washington Post has as good of a guess as anyone.
Clinton – CBC: The establishment must be Feeling the Bern and does not like it. The Congressional Black Caucus is planning to endorse Clinton today at the DNC.
Rubio: Senator Marco Rubio (R) flew down to South Carolina after his disappointing 5th place finish in the New Hampshire Republican primary, but his bus broke down outside of Harrisburg on the way to South Carolina. The Rubio bus is on its way to South Carolina again.
AZ-1: Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu (R) has failed on two fronts when it comes to congressional paperwork. First, he did not file his paperwork timely with the Federal Election Commission. Second, he filed to run in the wrong district. Instead of filing to run in AZ-1, he filed to run in AZ-4.
NC Redistricting: With the Circuit Court of Appeals causing chaos by deciding to throw out the existing map with a month remaining until the primary, it is not clear if the primary will occur or if it will have to reoccur at a later date.
Freedom Caucus – Ryan: Speaker Paul Ryan (R) held a fundraiser for Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan (R) on Jordan’s birthday. This is the first Capitol Hill fundraiser Ryan has held since becoming Speaker of the House of Representatives.
PA-AG: The PA Senate failed in its attempt to use an obscure provision in the PA Constitution to hold a vote requiring a 2/3 supermajority to compel Governor Tom Wolf (D) to remove Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D) from office. The Republicans fell 4 votes short of obtaining the supermajority necessary to kick this disgrace up to Governor Wolf to make a decision. The vote was long party lines except one Democrat and one Republican broke ranks respectively.
More PA-AG: While the PA Senate could not muster the 2/3 supermajority to compel Wolf to remove Kane from office, the PA House is commencing with impeachment. The House has asked the House Judiciary Committee to commence drafting impeachment articles against Kane.
Voters on both sides of the aisles in New Hampshire have clearly lost their minds. You can scroll down to see our complete primary night coverage below. South Carolina is 10 days away. Hopefully voters there have more sense than to just pick a candidate because they got electrolytes.
MI-Gov: A petition to recall Governor Rick Snyder (R) from office will soon be circling the state. The Michigan Board Of Canvassers approved a petition Monday night to recall the Governor, but not over the Flint Water crisis– but rather for his decision in 2015 to move the state school reform office to a department under his control. The petition is valid for only 180 days. Organizers have sixty days within that window to collect 789,133 valid signatures. While it is highly unlikely that they will be able to collect enough valid signature if it does somehow happen, the recall could be on the August 2, 2016 ballot. If Snyder is voted out Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley (R) would take his place until the next Gubernatorial Election.
IL-Sen: In an interview with the Chicago Tribune editorial board Rep Tammy Duckworth (D) blamed the radicalization of young Muslims who support ISIS on “people like Mark Kirk who demonize Muslims and Islam“. Sen Mark Kirk (R) took to Twitter to respond. In a series of tweets Kirk called Duckworth a “naive fool” and slamming Duckworth for living in a “fantasy world” and exhibiting a “misunderstanding” that would “put innocent American lives at risk.”
IN-Sen: Rep. Todd Young (R) may not have submitted enough valid petition signatures to qualify for Indiana’s Republican Senate primary, putting his campaign in jeopardy. To win spots on the primary ballot in Indiana, Senate candidates must get at least 500 registered voters in each congressional district to sign nominating petitions. But multiple hand counts of Young’s petitions conducted by the Indiana Democratic Party found just 498 valid signatures from Indiana’s 1st District, and the party now plans to challenge Young’s eligibility for the ballot. If true this is an unbelievable stupid error on the part of Young’s campaign and could hand the GOP nomination to Rep Marlin Stutzman without the need to fight a divisive primary.
NC-Sen: A High Point University poll has Sen. Richard Burr (R) leading his primary challenger Greg Brannob 46% to 10%. On the Democrat side ex-state Rep. Deborah Ross leads businessman Kevin Griffin 19-6 with 66% of voters undecided.
MD-8: Businessman David Trone (D) is going all in in his last minute bid for Congress. He’s dropped $1 million into ad buys in his first week in the campaign for this open D+11 district. Trone faces a crowded Democrat primary that included MSNBC host Chris Matthews’ wife Kathleen Matthews and state Sen. Jamie B. Raskin.
NC-2: The Club For Growth is going up on the air with $400,000 in ad spending in support of Jim Duncan (R) ahead of the March 15 primary with Rep. Renee Ellmers (R) in this R+10 district. The ad (which you can see here) hits Ellmers, who has a 61% rating from the CfG, as being way too liberal for North Carolina. In addition to Duncan, Ellmers has three other primary opponents, Frank Roche, Kay Daly and Tim D’Annunzio. In North Carolina, the top two vote-getters in a primary only advance to a runoff if no one takes more than 40 percent.
NC-Redistricting: A Federal court has denied the request to stay a judge’s order to redrawn North Carolina’s congressional districts.
OH-8: The Club for Growth just launched an ad campaign on behalf of Warren Davidson (R) ahead of the primary for the special election for the R+15 seat of former House Speaker John Boehner. Davidson has revived the backing of conservative and tea party groups like the CfG in the crowded primary that includes state Sen. Bill Beagle and State Rep Tim Derickson.
State, Local & Other:
IN-Lt Gov: Governor Mike Pence (R) has made it official and announces that he will nominate Eric Holcomb (R) as Indiana’s next lieutenant governor following current Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann’s (R) announcement that she will resign to become president at Ivy Tech Community College. Holcomb dropped out of the race for Senate to become Lt Governor.
IL HD-5: The Democrat primary for this heavily Democrat state house seat in Chicago has turned into a proxy war between House Speaker Mike Madigan (D) and Gov. Bruce Rauner (R). The incumbent state Rep Ken Dunkin (D) has broken with Madigan on 2 key votes that prevented Democrats from overturning Rauner vetoes. As punishment Madigan and the Chicago Democrat machine is backing Juliana Stratton (D) in the the March 15 primary.
WI-State Supreme Court: In the final days before a three-way primary for state Supreme Court two of the leading candidates have launched new TV ads. Milwaukee County Judge Joe Donald and Appeals Court Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg debuted their ads in recent days as they challenge Bradley, who was appointed to the state Supreme Court by Republican Gov. Scott Walker in October. Bradley has not run her own TV ad, but is benefiting from about $1 million in spending by the conservative Wisconsin Alliance for Reform. The two who perform best in the Feb. 16 primary will advance to the April 5 general election.
MD-Felon Voting: Democrats who control the Maryland Senate have overridden a veto of a bill that would restore the voting rights of convicted felons once they physically leave prison, but before they complete their full sentence by serving their probation.
PA-AG: The top-ranking Republican in the state Senate has said that the Senate will vote today on whether to remove from office Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D) from office.
MN-SD-35, MN-LD-50B: Republicans went 2 for 2 last night in MN, as we easily held a state Senate seat with ex-State Rep. Jim Abeler (R) and picked up a state house seat with realtor Chad Anderson (R), son-in-law of a State Senator.
2:05 AM: I’m signing off for the night with a recap of the winners and losers (as far as we know at 88% reporting):
- Donald Trump: The Donald benefits from his crushing victory, managing to outperform the polls by a few point with over double the votes of second place in the Republican primary. Further, the pileup around third place keeps Jeb and Rubio squabbling over the establishment lane and leaving only Cruz to battle Trump in South Carolina.
- John Kasich: His 16% actually lagged Huntsman’s 2012 result, but it was good enough for 2nd place in a far more fractured field than the last presidential cycle. Of course, Kasich will have to trudge through tough turf in South Carolina and Nevada, so momentum will be his biggest problem moving forward. Further, his campaign burned most of its money on its New Hampshire stand, so he will have to rebuild the coffers in a compressed timeframe. Still, anything less than second would have immediately, rather than later, ended the campaign, so at least he can point to a high note and the small chance he over-performs expectations in one of the next few states.
- Ted Cruz: Cruz looks likely to hang onto third place, winning the “expectations game” as an arguably poor fit for independent- and eccentric-loving New Hampshire (see tonight’s winners). Further, Rubio’s fifth place finish prevents him from focusing fire on Cruz, now having to deal with an extra duel with Jeb. It’s worth noting this result easily could have been fourth or fifth, with only 1200 votes separating him and Jeb. Considering Paul managed 1.7% (1700 votes) without actually running, I wonder: did the Kentucky senator’s withdrawal pave the way for Cruz’s third place finish?
- Jeb Bush: Jeb fell just shy of third place, which isn’t great after millions burned in New Hampshire but is good enough to move on. He’s bringing in the big guns, George W and Sen. Lindsey Graham, to South Carolina and looking for a Hail Mary. Expect all the pent-up animosity between him and former protege Rubio to come bursting out. Jeb is still in a terrible position with massive unfavorable ratings and anemic poll numbers. But hey, so you’re saying there’s a chance!s
- Gilmentum: Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore has surged from 12 votes in Iowa to 125 in New Hampshire (with more than 10% out as of this writing)! In all seriousness, there is no campaign when you failed to make the ballot in most primary states, but his persistence is… well, fairly unexplainable.
- Bernie Sanders: Bernie managed to crack 60% and prove a reason to carry on. He will have a tough road with minority voters in Nevada, South Carolina and beyond, but with momentum and his overwhelming dominance with millenials he might just make something happen.
- Minnesota Republicans: Realtor and Hall family scion Chad Anderson (R) won an upset victory in today’s special Minnesota legislative election, flipping a D+7 seat and bringing the Republican majority in the chamber to +12 in the swingy chamber. While this seat will prove difficult to retain in November, it at least expands the playing field for embattled Republicans in the state.. This is the third surprise special election result in a couple months (with Ds winning in Oklahoma and Rs in Bexar County, Texas), which just goes to show how volatile and unpredictable races with less than ten or fifteen percent turnout can be.
- Polling: Iowa, Louisiana, Britain, Canada: throughout the last year polling as an industry has taken a lot of hits. That trend didn’t materialize in the Granite State tonight. Besides the late break-away from Rubio, the polls generally got New Hampshire right. Weirdly, the much maligned ARG had one of the best final polls.
- Amateur political reporting: Props to the team at the Decision Desk. Their returns lagged AP much of the night, but they have big plans and a solid volunteer team that went toe to toe with the rest of the media coverage of the Granite State primary (I recommend their newsletter). It makes one hopeful about volunteer reporting on elections more generally…
- Marco Rubio: The Florida senator is probably the biggest loser tonight. All he needed was second or third place (behind Cruz) to effectively bully at least some of the other establishment lane candidates out of the race. Then, three days before the primary, he managed to steal that easy jog from himself by engaging with Christie and walking straight into a trap by infamously repeating himself several times as he was criticized for canned statements. Rubio is certainly not out of the race; he has invested heavily in Nevada and South Carolina and still has stronger poll numbers than any other establishment lane candidate. Nevertheless, #Marcomentum is tarnished, and those numbers could change with a blunted result at fifth place behind Jeb! of all candidates.
- Chris Christie: Christie swung hard in the last debate, but he only managed to drag Rubio down with him. He finished in 6th with about 8%, which would lock him out of the next debate. Further, his campaign went all-in in New Hampshire and is basically penniless. Christie said tonight he was canceling events in South Carolina and headed home to New Jersey to consider his next move and await the full results. Expect a campaign suspension sometime Wednesday.
- Carly Fiorina: Fiorina finished with 4% and also won’t make the next debate. So far, her staff is talking up events in Nevada, but it’s hard to keep going when trailing the pack so hard.
- Ben Carson: Carson did not even appear at his New Hampshire campaign after-party tonight, so his 2% is an asterisk more than anything else. I’m sure he will perform higher in evangelical-friendly South Carolina, but does he really think he still has a path? Or are the consultants feasting on his direct mail riches whispering in his ear?
- Hillary Clinton: Really, her campaign and concession speech spun a 20% defeat as well as you can. While a victory would have effectively ended the Democratic primary, now the Clinton machine will have to pull out its biggest weapon: black and Hispanic voters. And while the Sanders insurgency appears manageable outside looking in, the Clinton camp probably doesn’t want to look too closely at the deja vu feeling of being the establishment frontrunner supplanted by an exciting grassroots candidate.
12:28 AM: Later night update. The AP is beating the Decision Desk in the returns rate, with 83% versus 78% reporting. We noted the remaining returns looked friendlier for Cruz, and sure enough he’s now leading Jeb by about 1200 votes. We’ll have a recap of the results coming later in the night.
11:01 PM: With 62% reporting, exactly 250 votes separate Cruz and Jeb for third place.
10:37 PM: Christie just spoke to his supporters. He canceled events tomorrow in South Carolina to return to New Jersey. While he said they will wait for all of the results to make a decision, this is basically code for Christie suspending his campaign as expected.
10:18 PM: With Jeb narrowly trailing 3rd place Cruz, he declared in his victory speech that, “this campaign is not dead. We’re going on to South Carolina.” If I had to guess, Christie and Fiorina will drop out after tonight’s 6th and 7th place finishes respectively. They better look out for Gilmore, who surged tonight from 12 votes in Iowa to 87 votes and climbing. #Gilmentum
10:12 PM: As Kasich takes a well-earned victory lap in his speech, it’s worth noting the John Weaver backed candidate is basically mimicking his predecessor’s 2012 performance in New Hampshire. Kasich has 16.7% right now to 16.9% for Jon Huntsman. Luckily for Kasich, that same performance was good for 2nd place instead of 3rd this time around.
1009 PM: Trump is giving his victory speech. “We are going to win so much, you’re going to be so happy, we’re going to make America so great again, maybe greater than ever before.” He also declared, “We’re gonna win in South Carolina! I love you all!”
1007 PM: Surman taking over for awhile. I’m happy to report Republicans picked up a seat in the Minnesota legislature tonight. Chad Anderson won the D+7 seat in Bloomington with 9% turnout, but props to him and his team for a hard-fought victory.
956 PM: Cruz spent less than a million on ads in New Hampshire. Bush spent $35 million.
941 PM: AP is now over 40% and has Trump leading Kaisch 34% to 17% with Cruz coming in third at 12%. Sanders continues to vaporize Hillary by over 20%.
925 PM: Clinton continues to drone on in a fashion that is causing votes already cast for her to potentially change after the fact to Sanders.
917 PM: The race for third in the Republican primary continues to bounce back and forth between Cruz and Bush, but it appears territory more friendly to Cruz remains out.
900 PM: In case you just returned from a cave on Mars, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have won their respective primaries. John Kaisch and Ted Cruz are rounding out the top three on the Republican side.
855 PM: New thread has opened.
838 PM: I am not ready to call second yet in the Republican primary, but I am getting closer.
820 PM: Decision Desk shows Cruz passing Bush into third place in the Republican primary. For all of us who want the Bush dynasty to disappear, this is not a bad thing,
805 PM: AP calls it for Sanders and Trump. Hillary concedes. The race for second and third on the Republican side is on with Kaisch, Bush and Cruz battling for the three seats. Rubio is in 5th.
800 PM: All polls are supposed to be closing in New Hampshire. Sanders is up by over 15% and Trump is hanging around 30% with Kaisch around 18%,
745 PM: Will Sanders clear 60% against Clinton? That would be a disaster for Hillary.
730 PM: With a little over 1% in, Sanders and Trump have jumped out to monster leads. Trump has decisively won Seabrook, where Mitt Romney won in 2012 with a majority. Sanders has also won it, which was one of Clinton’s best in 2008.
711 PM: If Decision Desk’s bellwether exit poll is correct, we might be back to a two man race on the Republican side in short order.
705 PM: While we wait, what is going to be the vote tally against Attorney General Kathleen Kane tomorrow in the PA Senate?
658 PM: Polls are about to close in large sections of New Hampshire. The midnight voters in three villages have given Senator Bernie Sanders a lead out of the gate in the Democratic primary while they have given a three way tie between Senator Ted Cruz, Governor John Kaisch, and Donald Trump on the Republican side.
Happy NH Primary Day! Go to the open thread below to give your predictions, and we will have a liveblog tonight starting at 7 ET.
FBI: The FBI confirms it is investigating Hillary’s server. The server could be looking at jail time if it is convicted.
Bloomberg: We have it from the horse’s mouth now: Ex-NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) is considering a third-party run for President this year. Bloomberg, who is willing to self-fund $1B, would probably be the only person with the name recognition and cash needed to built the 50-state infrastructure necessary for a credible third-party run.
CA-Sen: State Rep. Rocky Chavez (R) has dropped out of this primary and will run for re-election to his State House seat in the Oceanside area. Chavez had raised almost nothing for this race, ending his bid with an utterly comical $369 (no zeroes) CoH. Chavez’s decision leaves ex-CAGOP chairs Tom DelBecarro (R) and Duf Sundheim (R) as the two remaining little-known Republicans competing to get a chance to lose the general. If one of them gets traction, he may be able to beat out either Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D) or (less likely) AG Kamala Harris (D) for second place and turn a competitive D-on-D general into a one-sided rout for the remaining Democrat.
IN-Sen, IN-Gov, IN-LG: Scott Holcomb (R), a staffer to retiring Sen. Dan Coats (R), never got much traction or fundraising in his bid to take over Coats’s seat, and he has now dropped out of the race to be the new running mate for Gov. Mike Pence (R). Incumbent LG Sue Ellspermann (R) is stepping down to pursue a job as head of the state’s community college system. As an aside, it’s somewhat strange that Pence didn’t wait to see if Ellspermann actually got the job before replacing her, but c’est la vie. The selection of Holcomb, who had run as a social moderate, could signal that Pence feels the need to tack to the center in his rematch with 2012 opponent and ex-State House speaker John Gregg (D) after drawing a media firestorm over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act last year. The GOP Senate primary is now a one-on-one battle between establishment-oriented Rep. Todd Young (R) and the more antiestablishment-friendly Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R). The May primary winner will face Ex-Rep. Baron Hill (D) in the general.
ME-2: Bangor councilman Joe Baldacci (D), brother of ex-Gov. John (D), has dropped out of the race to take on Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R), citing low fundraising. Ex-State Sen. and 2014 nominee Emily Cain (D) now looks unlikely to face primary opposition.
MN-2: Retiring Rep. John Kline (R) is poo-poohing the GOP field in the race to replace him, saying that none of the five Republicans in the race have shown the ability to run a strong race. The field currently consists of talk show host Jason Lewis (R), ex-State Rep. Pam Myhra (R), ex-State Sen. John Howe (R), businesswoman Darlene Miller (R), and others. Democrats have cleared their field for self-funding healthcare exec Angie Craig (D) in the purple seat that is looking like one of their strongest pickup opportunities.
PA-2: State Rep. Dwight Evans (D) announced the endorsement of Philly Mayor Jim Kenney (D) last week. The endorsement was expected as Evans was one of the first high-profile backers of Kenney’s mayoral bid last year. However, it does add another tea leaf that the Democratic establishment is ready to throw indicted Rep. Chaka Fattah (D) under the bus in favor of Evans, the only other African-American seeking the majority-black seat.
VA-2, VA-4: Rep. Randy Forbes (R) announced yesterday that he would run for re-election in the open light-red VA-2 rather than the deep-blue new VA-4. Click to go to our full coverage of the move and the implications for the race.
Governor, State, & Local:
NY-Gov ’18: Retiring Rep. Chris Gibson (R) has officially opened up a campaign committee to fundraise for a gubernatorial bid in 2018. Gibson is one of several Republicans, including 2014 nominee and Westchester CE Rob Astorino (R), 2010 nominee and Buffalo school board member Carl Paladino (R), and 2010 Comptroller nominee Harry Wilson (R), taking a serious look at the race. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is expected to run again, but may face a serious primary and/or third party challenge from a more liberal Dem.
IN-AG: State Sen. Randy Head (R, and a member of the unfortunate names caucus) will run for AG this year. Incumbent Greg Zoeller (R) is stepping down to run for the House in IN-9. Head is the fourth Republican to seek the nod for the post at a June convention, joining ex-AG Steve Carter (R), Elkhart DA Curtis Hill (R), and state prosecutor Abby Kuzma (R). Former judge Lorenzo Arredondo (D) is thus far the only Dem seeking this seat.
MT-Aud: State Sen. Matt Rosendale (R) jumped into this race for Montana’s stupidly-named State Auditor post last week (the office doesn’t audit anything; it’s the state’s Insurance Commissioner). Rosendale, who is considered a strong recruit, replaces ex-State Rep. Champ Edmunds (R) in the race; Edmunds, who had raised almost nothing, bowed out yesterday and endorsed him. Rosendale is likely to face 2012 AG candidate Jesse Laslovich (D), a staffer for termed-out incumbent Monica Lindeen (D), in the general.
WA-LG: TV news anchor Phillip Yin’s (R) LG campaign is raising some eyebrows because of his prior employment with CCTV, a state-run Chinese news network. Yin, who was based in the network’s American office, has received favorable coverage in Chinese media for his campaign. Yin faces University Place councilman Javier Figueroa (R) and multiple Democrats in this top-two primary.
GA-DeKalb-CE: Appointed DeKalb CE Lee May (D) will not seek a full term. May was appointed after the prior incumbent, Burell Ellis (D), was convicted of corruption, but May has since become the center of corruption rumors himself. 2014 LG nominee and ex-State Sen. Connie Stokes (D) is running and ex-Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond (D) is considering a run for the top job in this large black-majority suburban county.
NYC-Mayor ’17: Councilman Eric Ulrich (R), one of three Republicans on the 51-member NYC Council, is rumored to be considering a bid for mayor in 2017 against (insert your adjective here) Mayor Bill DeBlasio (D). Ulrich, who has held down a diverse and heavily Democratic district in the Ozone Park and Rockaway areas of Queens, would be one of Republicans’ stronger possible candidates, but he would still face long odds in the 80% Democratic city.
NC-Redistrict: The state legislature is appealing a court ruling that would force them to redraw NC-1 and NC-12 to make them less ugly. As ballots have already been sent out for primaries under the old map it’s probably a safe bet that any ruling will be stayed until the 2018 cycle.
RIP: This obituary of Edgar Whitcomb, who served as Governor of Indiana as a Republican from 1968 to 72 and recently died at 98, is well worth your time. Whitcomb, a bona-fide war hero in the Pacific Theater of WWII, later sailed solo around the world and had a number of other interesting experiences that put most pols’ life stories to shame.
In addition to the NH primary, we have two special legislative elections in Minnesota today, and both should be holds for their incumbent parties. MN-SD-35 is an R+8 seat around Anoka. Ex-State Rep. Jim Abeler (R) is well-known and relatively moderate, and should be a clear favorite over retired professor Roger Johnson (D). MN-LD-50B is a D+6 seat covering roughly the southern half of Bloomington. Bloomington councilman Andrew Carlson (D) is favored over realtor Chad Anderson (R). Anderson is running a credible campaign though, and an upset is not out of the question.