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Political Roundup for December 7th, 2017

Deviants

MN-Sen: After allegations #7 and #8 of unwanted groping dropped yesterday, Sen. Al Franken announced that he will have a press conference today where he is expected to resign (although his office was waffling on Twitter last night). This Star Tribune article cites some unnamed sources pointing to Lt. Gov. Tina Flint Smith as a caretaker appointment until the November 2018 special election. Read our full write-up from last night in the link. Also, our friend Miles Coleman has some neat Minnesota maps in honor of the likely resignation, including a precinct map of Frankenś first 2008 Minnesota Senate race, a map of AG Lori Swansonś strong reelection win in 2014, and a comparison of same-sex marriage vote in 2012 with Trumpś 2016 statewide performance.

AL-Sen: More evidence of Republican US Senate nominee Roy Moore dating way-too-younger women. He also may have dated his wife while she was still married, which is not a huge deal (she had just separated with her husband) but does point to plenty of hypocrisy from the holier-than-thou Moore. At this point it is hard to see how new allegations hurt Moore particularly without a new wave of media coverage, as voters know the basic story and have to decide if they deny the evidence or accept it and vote accordingly.

MI-13: The elder Rep. Conyers endorsed his son, John Conyers III, for his seat as he resigned. However, the New York Times yesterday revealed that the younger Conyers was arrested just this last February for stabbing his girlfriend. With this, the elder Conyers’ sexual harassment (see this latest creepy bit), and Monica Conyers´ ethics problems, this family has had a rough track record the last few years.

TX-27: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know Farenthold said he will repay the settlement money taxpayers had to foot to settle his sexual harassment lawsuit. But this article on the victim, his former communications director, and her resulting blacklisting after going public with Farentholdś behavior is pretty brutal. How does Barton get forced out by local Republicans but Farenthold gets to keep his seat?

NV-4: More details of unwanted advances on a campaign staffer from freshman Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D).

MA-Leg: State Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D) is taking a leave of absence from his leadership position after a Boston Globe investigation turned up four instances of sexual assault or harassment involving his husband. Three different senators have openly declared their interest in Rosenbergś job, ¨should it become open.¨ These leadership races normally develop behind closed doors, but then again, so do sexual harassment scandals. Normal procedure has been kind of thrown out the window on Beacon Hill.

Normal Senate

TN-Sen: A big get for Democrats looking to recruit for a likely wave election. Former Governor Phil Bredesen began calling donors yesterday to tell them he will in fact run in the open US Senate race. Bredesen crushed his last gubernatorial race, which incidentally is the last time Tennessee has had a competitive US Senate race. Can a strong, relatively moderate candidate separate himself in a state like Tennessee nowadays? Weĺl find out.

Normal Governor

KS-Gov: 2014 US Senate candidate Greg Orman (I) has set up an exploratory bid for Governor, making the road harder for whatever Democrat emerges out of their own primary of B-listers (when Orman ran in 2014, it was as the de facto Democratic nominee; he came up short with 43% of the vote).

TX-Gov: Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez (D) announced a gubernatorial campaign yesterday. This sets up an ideological primary between her (a progressive, lesbian, and Hispanic sheriff in a county that has turned blue) and Mark White, the son of former Gov. Andrew White who is fine with being called a moderate Republican or a conservative Democrat. This announcement also opens her seat up.

Normal House

MI-9: Two Democratic candidates announced yesterday for this open seat. The first was Andy Levin, who works in the energy industry but whose main claim for office is being a member of the heir force as the son of outgoing incumbent Rep. Sander Levin (D). The second candidate is State Sen. Steve Bieda.

RIP: Former Rep. John Anderson (R-IL), who ran as a liberal independent for President against Reagan and Carter in 1980, died Sunday at 95. He took almost 7% of the vote in that bid after polling much higher earlier in the campaign.

Political Roundup for December 4th, 2017

Big Picture

Professions: Here’s a cool breakdown of professions by party. It’s from FEC data, so the numbers will be fairly skewed in several ways. Still, it’s interesting to see the differences, especially between similar professions and among ones in the same industry.

Congress

AL-Sen: CBS commissioned a poll of the upcoming special Senate election in Alabama from YouGov and found Creepy Roy (R, unfortunately) ahead of former US Attorney Doug Jones (D) 49-43. Most polls recently have found Moore ahead by single digits, but turnout patterns will be crucial, as they are in any special election (and really, every election).

AR-Sen: It’s not official, but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may be on the way out. If that happens, CIA Director Mike Pompeo would be his likely successor. Pompeo’s likely successor is rumored to be Sen. Tom Cotton (R). Finally, we get to the point of all this, which is that if those dominoes fall that way, Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin (R) may want to return to DC, this time in the upper chamber.

FL-Sen: In a contrast to much of his tenure in office, Gov. Rick Scott (R) seems to be pretty popular at the moment, or so says this poll by Saint Leo Uiversity. Scott’s favorables are over 60%, and the poll also finds him leading incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D) by 10 (!) points. The undecided number in the poll is high, and we still have eleven months until the 2018 general election, but this has to be putting a smile on Scott’s face.

UT-Sen: I’m not quite sure why, but the country’s clumsiest political puppetmaster is contemplating backing Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) for another term against a nascent bid by former Presidential nominee and business wizard Mitt Romney (R). This might make sense, since Hatch has been instrumental in shepherding the tax reform package, except that he was looking to retire. I have to assume that Bannon is just trying to block Romney, but that seems somewhat risky in Romney-loving, Trump-disliking Utah. It seems risky for Hatch’s legacy as well. We’ll have to see how this one plays out over the next few months to get a clearer picture.

Trump Districts: Politico runs down the Democrats in Trump districts who are therefore vulnerable next year, and it’s a decent summation. I’ll just add that if there’s a Democratic wave, most of them should survive to be absolutely slaughtered a few cycles from now. The only district that I’m fairly sure will fall is the open MN-01.

MI-09: With the retirement of long-serving Rep. Sander Levin (D) over the weekend, speculation now turns to who will run to succeed him. Sander’s son Andy (D) is thought to be mulling a run, as is State Sen. Steve Bieda (D). On the Republican side of things, no major candidates are getting serious mentions yet. The district, based in the inner northern suburbs of Detroit, moved into theoretically competitive territory in 2016. However, Demorats are likely to hold onto it in 2018 and it may get eliminated in a few cycles due to reapportionment.

NV-04: One of Rep. Ruben Kihuen’s (D) former campaign workers has accused him of sexual harassment. The way things are going with allegations lately, this could see his northern Clark County-based district open up in 2018. Kihuen beat former Rep. Cresent Hardy (R) last year by four points. Hardy was once thought to be a probable one-term wonder wave baby, but the district actually moved two points rightward in 2018. A return to Congress for the Man from Mesquite no longer looks impossible, though the Democratic nominee should be favored.

TX-27: Rep. Blake Farenthold (R), he of the infamous footy pajamas photo, has been unmasked as the subject of a sexual harassment claim by a staffer that ended in an $84k settlement. This may boost the campaign of his primary challenger Michael Cloud (R), or it may attract more challengers.

Governor

AR-Gov: Well, Arkansas Democrats, once dominant in the Natural State, just can’t seem to catch a break. Not only have they lost both Senate seats, all four House seats, all statewide offices, and both chambers of the legislature, but now they’re even struggling to field a candidate for Governor. It had looked for a few days like they’d found one, but former State Rep. Jay Martin (D) has now taken his name out of consideration. I’m sure that someone will eventually file for the race, but it has to be embarrassing to put a name out publicly and then have that person publicly decline. Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) will likely cruise to reelection with little opposition.

FL-Gov: The battle lines in the Sunshine State’s Democratic gubernatorial primary are finally starting to take shape. Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine (D) seems to have decided to take the corporate Democratic approach to raising the minimum wage, calling for regional differences in how much the wage is increased. Stay tuned for more differences appearing among the candidates as they jockey for different factions of the primary electorate.

State/Local

Aurora City Council: After a recount for a hotly-contested at-large seat on the Aurora, CO (pop. 325,000) city council, it appears that the more conservative candidate has won by 45 votes. However, it’s worth noting that progressives captured several seats on the once-red-but-now-blue city’s nonpartisan city council.

MI-9: Rep. Sander Levin (D) will not Seek Re-election

Rep. Sander Levin (D) has joined the (seemingly unusual) exodus of very long-time Reps. leaving this year. Levin has had a marathon political career, beginning in the State Leigslature in the 60s, through two failed Gov runs in the 70s, before eighteen terms in the House representing a seat that started in Detroit and moved into the northern suburbs. Levin’s decision opens up MI-9, a D+4 district based in the working-class-white southern half of Macomb County and also including some upscale suburbs in Oakland County to the west. The Macomb portion of the district is home to a lot of Democrats who swung toward Trump, but the union tradition and upscale liberals here were enough to keep this seat in the Clinton column with a solid 8-point win.

For Democrats, the Great Mentioner needs to start with Levin’s son Andy (D), who lost a state Senate race in 2006 and later held a low-level post in the Gov. Granholm administration. However, Andy’s only asset is his name and he may have a tough time. From the Macomb side of the district, Macomb CE Mark Hackel (D) would likely be a very strong favorite for the seat if he wanted it. Macomb DA Eric Smith (D) also could be a strong candidate. State Sen. Steven Bieda (D) and State Reps. Patrick Sowerby (D), Patrick Green (D), Henry Yanez (D), John Chirkun (D), and Kevin Hertel (D) all live in or near the seat, as do ex-State Reps. Derek Miller (D), Fred Miller (D), Sarah Roberts (D), and Marilyn Lane (D). From the Oakland side of the seat, State Reps. Robert Wittenberg (D), Jim Ellison (D), and ex-State Rep. Jim Townsend (D) live in or near the seat. Local officials worth watching from the Oakland County part of the seat could include County Treasurer Andy Meisner (D) and DA Jessica Cooper (D). Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown (D) lives outside the seat but could carpetbag.

The seat seems enticing enough for the GOP to at least make a play for it in a year with few offensive targets, though it will be an uphill race for any Republican. Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard (R) might be the strongest candidate, but he has turned down other opportunities to run for more GOP-friendly House seats so that seems unlikely. More realistic prospects might be a couple of candidates who lost primary runs for the redder MI-10 in 2016, ex-State Sen. Alan Sanborn (R) and ex-State Rep. Anthony Forlini (R). Republicans have some legislators in or near the seat, State Sens. Jack Brandenburg (R), Tory Rocca (R), and Marty Knollenberg (R), and State Reps. Diana Farrington (R) (and her husband, ex-State Rep. Jeff (R)), and State Reps. Mike McCready (R), Marilyn Howrylak (R), and Steve Marlino (R). Possibilities from local office could include a pair of Macomb county officers who won in something of upsets in 2016, county Treasurer Larry Roca (R) and county Clerk Karen Spranger (R).

Political Roundup for October 17, 2017

First, there is a single legislative special today. MA-SD-Bristol & Norfolk is a D+5 (2016) seat stretching from Seekonk in suburban Providence to Medfield in Boston’s southwest suburbs. Foxborough councilman and Sanders campaign staffer Paul Feeney (D) is facing off with legislative staffer Jacob Ventura (R) and retired investigative reporter Joe Shortsleeve (I), a former DINO who has high name recognition. Due to the lean of the seat and the energized D base, Feeney looks like a moderate favorite, but with three credible candidates this race could theoretically go any way.

Now, onto the news!

National:

Tax-returns: Governor Jerry Brown (Sane D-CA) has vetoed a bit of legislation that would force Presidential candidates to submit their tax returns to the public to appear on the ballot in the state. Brown rightly pointed out that this could easily set precedence for states requiring far more revealing things to be made public, and that individual states should not be able to regulate federal elections in this way. Expect the next CA Governor to not be as reasonable when it comes to finding petty ways to snipe at Trump.

Trump-Approval: An Emerson poll has Trump doing . . . pretty well for Trump, sitting at a 44/50 approval rating. They also polled 2020 match-ups, and found Biden ahead of Trump by around 10 points, but Warren effectively tied with him.

2020: Tulsi Gabbard has been spotted making the rounds in Iowa. At a recent Iowa Democrats campaign event, both Gabbard and Rep. John Delaney (who has already announced a run) talked in vaguely positive platitudes about coming together as a country, in what is probably a dry run for a possible 2020 campaign message. Honestly, both are probably far too centrist to actually win a national D primary these days, but Gabbard has such an astoundingly odd political profile that I kind of want her to run regardless, just to see what happens.

Congress:

AR-Sen: There are rumors flying that Senator Tom Cotton (R) might be tapped as the next director of the CIA. This is a curious prospect, as Cotton is widely expected to have his sights set firmly on the presidency, and a job in the Trump Administration seems like a less useful stepping stone towards that than just staying on as a 2+ term Senator in uber-safe Arkansas. We’ll have to see, though with some of the other stories coming out today the NRSC might not want to defend even more unexpectedly open seats in 2018.

CA-36: The GOP has another candidate running for the chance to take on 3-term Democrat Raul Ruiz in this Eastern-Riverside-County seat. Republican Dan Ball, a local news anchor, announced his run yesterday. He joins Actress Kimberlain Brown in the race for the second slot to Ruiz in California’s top-2 system, but Ruiz has beaten tougher opponents than both of them in worse years than 2018 is shaping out to be, so he’s probably still secure.

FL-27: Well this is . . . unexpected. Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera (R), one of the GOP candidates running to succeed retiring Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) in this Cuban seat covering most of Miami, has stated that she believes she was abducted by aliens when she was 7. Needless to say, this does not bode well for her chances in what is easily the Democrat’s best 2018 flip target, even assuming she makes it out of the Cuban Machine primary.

MI-9: Sandy Levin (D) is still apparently undecided on whether or not he wants to run for re-election to his Suburban Detroit seat. While Levin is probably safe if he runs again in this rapidly diversifying seat covering Upscale-Yuppie Liberals in Southeastern Oakland County and Union Dems in Southern Macomb County, the GOP could realistically make a play for an open seat that moved quite a bit towards Trump last year.

MI-11: Kerry Bentivolio, a man who is either the most or second-most accidental Congressman ever depending on where you put Joseph Cao on the list, is running for this seat again as a Republican. Bentivolio has been a perennial candidate even before accidentally being the only guy left on the ticket in 2012 after the McCotter fiasco, and is probably not going to be a serious threat to win this seat again as several other Republicans are running and more may get in the race. Rep. David Trott (R) is retiring.

MS-Sen: Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), no stranger to health scares, will apparently be unable to make back to Washington due to health concerns. This robs the Senate GOP of a crucial vote needed to pass their tax reform plan (not to mention the chair of the Senate Appropriations committee), and also raises the increasingly likely possibility that Cochran will be unable to serve out the remainder of his term, opening up another GOP seat that the party will have to play defense in. Expect Cochran’s 2014 primary opponent Chris McDaniels—who is already making noise about primarying Mississippi’s other Republican Senator—to jump at the easier chance to make it into the Senate after losing a nail bitter back in 2014.

NJ-Sen: Despite a brief indication to the contrary, all of the corruption and bribery charges against Senator Menendez (D-NJ) are going to trial. Given that its more or less an open secret that he is guilty, this means that it is possible that Lame-duck GOP Governor Chris Christie will get to appoint his successor, if only for a few months. Given that Christie is in full-on IDGAF mode after being spurned by Trump, no one has any idea who he would appoint or why.

TN-Sen: Former Governor Phil Bredesen (D), last seen winning a landslide re-election in normally blood-red Tennessee in 2006, is considering running for the now-open Senate seat. Bresden is pretty much the only Democrat who could make a race in what is arguably the most reliably Republican state East of the Mississippi, but is probably going to suffer the same fate that Bill Weld did in Massachusetts when he tried to transform “Popular Moderate opposite-party Governor” into a Senate career—Federal Politics give individuals much less room to maneuver personally than state-level ones. Given that Tennessee has only gotten redder since Bresden retired in 2010, this race is probably Likely R at worst for the GOP, even if he does run.

Other:

Calgary-Mayor: Incumbent Naheed Nenshi, who made waves in 2010 as the first Muslim to win mayorship of a major Western city, has won re-election narrowly over former Progressive-Conservative party leader Bill Smith. Nenshi is famous for coming out of nowhere with his oddly post-partisan and social-media-based “Purple Campaign” in 2010, and has governed as an eccentric centrist since then. He coasted to re-election with 73% of the vote in 2013 (the mayoral terms were extended from 3 years to 4 during his tenure), but faced a stiff challenge this year from Smith, who was benefiting from a change-focused campaign in a city hit hard by falling oil prices. If you ever wanted to know what a Muslim, Centrist Obama would look like, Nenshi is probably your guy.

Immigration: The Census Bureau has released updated and detailed numbers about America’s Immigrants. We’re well on our way to passing the previous-high of 14.7% of Americans having been born in a foreign country, and are expected to hit that number sometime in the early 2020s. Of note is that America’s Immigrants are diversifying rapidly, with immigration from Mexico slowing, but being more than made up for by surges from medium and smaller-sized countries like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Burma, Nigeria, Egypt, and Kenya. We’ve gotten almost an entire Congressional district’s worth of new Immigration from China and India each since 2010, and we’re on track to have gotten one from non-Mexican Latin America, the Middle East, and Sub-Saharan Africa by 2020 as well.

Quebec: Quebec’s government has revived an effort to require women’s faces to be uncovered to use public services, such as riding a bus. The move is stated to be a part of Quebec PM’s Couillard’s effort to enforce the “neutrality of the state” in religious affairs, but is being widely panned as a naked pandering to Quebecois’ anti-Muslim tendencies.

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