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:
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.
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.
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.
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.