Today's news is in the regular roundup below, but we also have a major development and something of an unwelcome surprise for Alaska GOP Gov. Sean Parnell's re-election prospects. As rumored over the weekend, a flurry of last-minute negotiations has indeed led to two tickets in Alaska merging.
The Alaska Democratic Party broke with long tradition Monday when its central committee voted 89-2 to not field a gubernatorial ticket and instead put its weight behind the independent campaign of Bill Walker and Byron Mallott.
This is a complex maneuver, so let's break it down: Gov. Sean Parnell (R) was previously being challenged by two serious contenders: R-turned-I ex-Valdez Mayor and 2010 GOP primary candidate Bill Walker and ex-Juneau mayor and Alaska Permanent Fund (the state's oil-revenue fund) official Byron Mallott (D). Now both Walker and Mallott will boot their running mates (ex-State fish and wildlife commissioner Craig Fleener and State Sen. Hollis French respectively) to allow Mallott to run for LG on Walker's ticket. This means that Democrats will be leaving their ticket for Governor totally blank and instead backing Walker's independent bid. The legality of this move is still slightly up in the air, as it's unclear that Walker has the authority to replace Fleener as his running mate. There may be a protracted court case before the deal is finalized.
Polling had shown Walker and Mallott, whose main common issue is shared opposition to Parnell's oil tax restructuring, both running well behind the incumbent. But it looks like the two candidates' vote shares combined for more than 50% of the vote in the three-way race. Additionally, the latest poll showed Walker slightly ahead of Parnell one-on-one. Now that Walker is the race's de facto Dem, it remains to be seen if he will retain his GOP crossover support. Another wrinkle in this plan is that liberals may not be as enthusiastic about voting for a pro-life, anti-SSM quasi-Republican - which could even hurt the chances of Sen. Mark Begich (D) in the red-hot Senate race. But all in all this looks like a good move for Dems, as this race is a lot more competitive now than it was 48 hours ago.
KY-Sen: Mitch McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton is resigning his post after an Iowa state Senator pleaded guilty to charges he accepted a bribe from the 2012 Ron Paul campaign to switch his endorsement in the presidential race. Benton was the chairman for Paul's campaign then, and was brought onto McConnell's campaign in part to neutralize allies of Senator Rand Paul in the primary battle between McConnell and Matt Bevin. While it does not seem like the move will impact McConnell much (Benton quickly resigned and had already stepped aside from some of his pre-primary roles before the move), it may have an impact looking ahead to Rand Paul's campaign in 2016 (Benton happens to be married to one of Rand's nieces).
MS-Sen: Stopppp, please stop. After a judge dismissed state Senator Chris McDaniel's lawsuit against the primary election results, the former candidate for US Senate weighed an appeal and will announce his decision in a press conference today.
MO-Gov: A decent analysis of some of the reasons Senator Claire McCaskill may be looking ahead to a 2016 gubernatorial run. She has fundraised for local Democrats running for state assembly, pushed herself into the conversation on Ferguson, and of course ran for governor once before back in 2004. None of this means the senator plans to actually run, of course, just that it would not be the most shocking possibility to occur.
TX-Gov:Apparently after the 2010 elections the Attorney General's office raided the Houston offices of a Democratic voter registration operation (a local Tea Party group had attacked the group for allegedly encouraging false voter registrations). Charges were never filed, nor was the office equipment or records seized ever returned.
ME-Gov: Last week independent Eliot Cutler won a court case to take donations up to $3,000 instead of $1,500, where the law previously capped his campaign because independent face no primary (major party candidates can take up to $3,000 from an individual donor because they face both a primary and general election). FWIW, Michaud and Cutler can also take $3k donations from new donors in the wake of the judgment.
MA-6: The Boston Globe still wants Rep. John Tierney (D) gone. This cycle its editorial board is supporting primary challenger Seth Moulton; in 2012 the paper supported Republican challenger Richard Tisei.
VA-7: That didn't take long. Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R) is cashing out and joining a Wall Street investment firm, Moelis and Co. Cantor will help the group start a Washington office.
IL-8: Congratulations to Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D), who is pregnant and expecting her child in December.
CA-52: Two former Carl DeMaio staffers are suspected of breaking into the campaign's headquarters just ahead of the June 3rd primary.
FL-5/FL-10: Democrats and allies will appeal the recent court decision to uphold newly drawn congressional lines in Florida, which go into effect in 2016 and impact Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL-10) and Corrine Brown's (D-FL-5) districts.
KY-Sen: Alison Lundergan Grimes is facing more questions over her campaign bus. After it was revealed a couple of weeks ago that the campaign was paying a lower-than-market rate for the bus, owned by a company run by her father, it's now come to light that the company doesn't even have the proper permits to operate the bus as it is only certified to carry equipment and not people.
MI-Sen: Terri Lynn Land has come out with a proposal to cut federal gas taxes by over 75% over an unspecified period of years, which would eliminate most federal rules for road projects and she says, allow states to design their own funding mechanisms, which she says would allow moe money to be spent directly on roads and bridges.
MN-Sen: Sen. Al Franken (DFL) is running a very low-key re-election campaign, preferring to sit on his lead and his money and barely even acknowledging he has an opponent. So far, the strategy seems to be working as his race with Mike McFadden (R) is not high on the list of GOP takeover possibilities. It is considered a potential "sleeper" race though, and as this article suggests, does have some similarities to the 1990 Senate campaign where Sen. Rudy Boschwitz (R) was the favorite who ran a low-key campaign and Paul Wellstone was a longshot who played on the theme of Boschwitz's low-key campaign and pulled off an upset.
NV-Sen 2016: People have expected a titanic battle between Sen. Harry Reid (D) and Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) in 2016 for awhile. But some are suggesting that recent increases in gaffes by him and questions about his health mean that Reid may not run for re-election. One insider familiar with Nevada and DC politics says he doesn't think Reid will run. Reid associates though insist that he is planning on running.
NY-Gov/LG: The New York Times has endorsed Timothy Wu for Lieutenant Governor over Gov. Andrew Cuomo's handpicked choice of former Rep. Kathy Hochul. This is probably no surprise after their non-endorsement of Cuomo for governor over longshot candidate Zephyr Teachout.
More NY-Gov: Apparently the rent is still too high. Jimmy McMillan is back, filing petitions with the State Board of Elections to run on the "Rent is 2 Damn High" ticket.
WI-Gov: President Obama will be in Milwaukee on Labor Day. He will speak at Laborfest there, where Mary Burke will also be appearing. Yet it is unclear whether the two will appear together, suggesting that the president may be a liability even in a state he won relatively easily.
CA-21: The drought in California's Central Valley is helping Rep. David Valadao (R) as he makes it and water policies favored by Democrats as issues in the race. Even Democrats concede that he's done a good job getting himself established in the district and that he's helped himself with his work on the issue.
NH-2: Roll Call looks at the NH-2 Republican primary race with a focus on Marilinda Garcia, who they call a "young Latina with star potential".
WATN?: Former Indiana SOS Charlie White (R), who was removed from office in 2012 after his conviction on theft and voter fraud charges, is starting a politcal blog called the Indy Sentinel, which will target politicians in both parties, but with a keen interest in his former colleagues in the Republican Party. He says the website will be about "pols and media who are fair and those who live to serve the elites in both parties to the public's detriment".
AK-Sen: Dan Sullivan is having a lot of fun in his second ad of the general, shooting the bejeezus out of one of those old tube-style TV's as it runs a negative ad. Sullivan had previously proposed a truce with Mark Begich to keep outside money out of the race--and, as he's happy to remind us here, Begich flatly rejected him. Giving how irritating the constant beat of third-party ads can get after a couple days, I can see Sullivan scoring some points with this one.
More AK-Sen: Sullivan also caught a bit of a tough break yesterday as accidental Libertarian nominee Thom Walker dropped out, allowing the party to replace him with primary loser Mark Fish, who had been running a more credible and visible campaign. Fish may splice a few more votes off Sullivan's total than Walker would have, but then again, we're still talking about an unknown with no money who just lost a primary to a dude who didn't campaign.
IA-Sen: It's 10 PM, do you know where your nominee is? Well, if you're asking about Bruce Braley, last night he was raising money with a local trial lawyer (whose phone number, I kid you not, is 1-800-I-AM-HURT) who is most famous for defending a pedophile Catholic bishop.
ME-Sen: This has to be in the running for oddest third-party IE of the year. A group called Democracy for America (sounds non-controversial enough!) is dropping $300K, a huge sum in a cheap state, against the entirely non-vulnerable Susan Collins...and all they're getting for their money is a bunch of goofy actors reciting talking points in front of some very fake-looking footage that could have come from a Maine tourism ad.
AZ-01: Two days after the primary, we still don't know our nominee--and we won't know until tomorrow afternoon at the earliest. State House Speaker and NRCC pick Andy Tobin has a 469-vote lead on rancher Gary Kiehne with all precincts reporting, but as many as 3,000 early and provisional votes potentially uncounted. It will be nearly impossible for Kiehne to make up his deficit from 3,000 ballots alone (especially since third-place finisher Adam Kwasman should pull a significant number of those), but he could pull within 0.1% and trigger an automatic recount that would drag on through next week. Obviously, it's in the GOP's interests to resolve this as soon as possible.
CA-25: Steve Knight (R) was yesterday one of only two California Senators to vote against a bill banning Confederate flags from state property (and yes, apparently that's the biggest issue California is facing today). His November opponent, fellow R Tony Strickland, supports the ban and may use it as an issue to court Democrats and Independents.
CA-52: Rep. Scott Peters (D), who is well to the left of most swing-seat Dems on the environment, supports President Obama's proposal to enter into international treaties on his own in blatant violation of Article I "act outside of Congress to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
IL-13: After winning by just over 1,000 votes in 2012, Rep. Rodney Davis entered the year as one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the House, but local sources in both parties are now conceding that Davis is firmly in control here. His opponent, former judge Ann Callis, hasn't lived up to her early hype, and is spending more time these days avoiding Pat Quinn than actively campaigning.
AZ-Gov: With the primary in the books, the RGA sent an opening salvo at Dem nominee Fred DuVal, putting up an ad hitting him for voting to double tuition at Arizona's public universities while serving on the Board of Regents.
MA-Gov: Steve Grossman (D) is making one final push, spending $200K of his own money to winnow down the 12-point gap between him and Martha Coakley.
MD-Gov: We've seen a few signs in recent days that Larry Hogan (R) may put up more of a challenge to Anthony Brown (D) than initially expected: a GOP poll showing Hogan within 3, Brown's decision to quickly go negative on TV, and now fundraising reports that show that Hogan has over three times as much CoH ($2.4M to $760K). That latter nugget does come with a big caveat--Hogan took public financing and is barred from doing any additional fundraising of his own, while Brown is going the conventional route--but it should give Hogan ample time to define himself on-air.
ME-Gov: Bill Clinton is coming to Portland next week to stump for Mike Michaud, in one of Bubba's very rare appearances on behalf of a politician who did not endorse Hillary in 2008. And nope, Michaud didn't pick Obama either. Hard to believe that it was only 7 years ago that some people thought John Edwards would make a good President.
For those of you, myself included, who did not have the chance to stay up and watch the electoral trivialities unfold, here is what happened last night in the primaries.
Arizona AZ-1 is still too close to call between Tobin and Kienhe for the Republican nomination with Tobin holding a tiny lead, Ducey has won the Republican nomination for Governor, Rodgers has won AZ-9 Republican primary, Gallego has won AZ-7 D primary, Michelle Reagan has won SoS Republican nomination, Brnovich is up by 7 for AG-R but should hold on, Jeff Dewitt is won Treasurer-R, Diane Douglas has won superintendent, and Tom Forese and Doug Little have won the top spots for Corporation Commission. Anti-Brewer forces had a good night in the State Senate, winning most of the major contests. And in the State House, incumbents Seel (R, LD-20) and Munoz (D, LD-27) were ousted.
Florida Sheldon has won the Democratic nomination for Attorney General. Domino and Curbelo have won the Republican nominations for FL-18 and FL-26 respectively. One State House incumbent, Rangel in LD-43-D, was ousted.
Oklahoma Steve Russell won an upset in the OK-05 Republican primary runoff. Connie Johnson has spared the Democrats the embarrassment of running Jim Rogers, who looks like a homeless Santa, by winning the Democratic nomination for Senate. Local superintendent John Cox won the D nod for State Superintendent, and physician Ervin Yen beat controversial pastor Steve Kern in SD-40-R.
Vermont Milne has won the Republican nomination for Governor in Vermont over the libertarian favored candidate. Three State House incumbents, Nuovo in D-Addison-1, Laroque in R-Caledonia-1, and Brissonette in D-Chittenden-7, were ousted.
And now for the rest of the news...
Congress Democrats and Senate: Here is a sane analysis of how the Democrats could retain control of the Senate. Unlike the DK commentary boards reacting to DKE saying the Republicans are favored to take the Senate, this gives some good analysis even if I disagree with it.
OH-Sen: Senator Rob Portman says he will not run for two offices at the same time in 2016. Portman has been rumored to be considering a presidential run, but is also up for reelection to the Senate in 2016. I suspect Portman will be running for reelection to the Senate even though I think he would be a fine presidential nominee.
POTUS Paul: Senator Rand Paul claims he scares Democrats and they should be afraid of him, but should they really be afraid of him? The Washington Post tries to shed some light on this claim.
Clinton: What can doom former SoS and co-President Hillary Clinton in her bid to return the Clintons to the White House? Being the third term of Obama. The Clintons have a very difficult needle to thread here. Obviously they want Obama's base to show up, but they need the middle and many people who have not supported him from day one.
Other PA Political Corruption: Harrisburg Treasurer John Campbell has been charged with theft. Rest assured it appears Campbell did not steal from taxpayers, but from a non-profit where he was executive director. As Harrisburg is broke, I guess he had nothing to steal there we know of.
Switching Parties: When and how can you switch political parties if you are a politician? Sometimes it works. Sometimes it does not. Roll Call looks at when members of the political world change teams.
3:37 ET: One final update since my sleep has been delayed. AZ-1-R is currently 36-35-29 Tobin-Kiehne-Kwasman, but the only places still out are 1/6th of Navajo county (Tied) and 1/2 of Apache (Strongly Kiehne). Tobin is only up 228 votes, which less than what Kiehne should make up in Apache county assuming uniform precinct size. However, half of that county is the native reservation, where Republican voters are few and far between, and since the only other place still out is Navajo county (the other Navtive-heavy county), I'm betting the reservations are what's still left to count. Eitherway, we're heading to recount/provisionals here.
2:06 ET: Arizona's barely budged in the last hour, so I'm going to call it a night here. AZ-1 is still too close to call between Kienhe and Tobin, Ducey has won for Governor, Rodgers has won AZ-9-R, Michelle Reagan has won SoS-R, Brnovich is up by 7 for AG-R but should hold on, Jeff Dewitt is won Treasurer-R, Diane Douglas has won superintendent, and Tom Forese and Doug Little have won the top spots for Corporation Comissioner.
1:25 ET: Downballot little has changed since the last update. Brnovich's lead is down a bit, but that's about it.
1:15 ET: A little more is trickling in, and it does look like Kwansman isn't going to be able to make it. Also, Kiehne is probably favored, unless Navajo county comes in big for Tobin. The wild card is Pinal county, which is currently a 3-way tie with plenty of votes out.
12:46 ET: Arizona seems to be stuck counting, as after a decent dump once the reservations closed, there's been very little for the past hour. I'll be optimisitc and hope it all drops at the top of the hour.
12:30 ET: Naturally, the second I open my mouth the numbers get revised. Pima is 5/26 in for both sites now. Still completely up in the air
12:19 ET: Cross-checking a bit here, it looks like Pima county is in fact all in on the AP site but not the SOS site. I'm inclined to believe the AP site, since the # of votes seems more reasonable for the county. That would sink Kwasman's chances however, as that was the only part of the district he was leading in, and he's in third place now.
12:05 ET: AZ-1 update, its 35-35-30 Kiehne, Tobin, Kwasman.
11:53 ET: Moving to the legislature, Rosanna Gabaldon is up 58-42 for SD-2-D, Olivia Cajero Bedford is up 60-40 for SD-3-D, Jamescita Peshlakai is up 42-34 over incumbent Carlyle Begay in SD-7-D, Littleton is at 50% in SD-8-R, Steve Smith is blowing Scott Bartle out of the water 69-30 in SD-11-R, Don Shooter is up 2:1 in SD-13-R, Nancy Barto is up 62-38 in SD-15-R, David Christian Farnsworth is up 55-44 in SD-16-R, Jeff Dial is up 61-39 in SD-18-R, Lupe Chavira Contreras is up 52-47 in SD-19-D, John Kavangh is up 54-45 in SD-23-R, Bob Worsley is up 55-45 in SD-25-R, Catherine Miranda is up 55-45 in SD-27-D, and SD-29-D is tied 49-49 right now. Phew.
11: 39 ET: Moving downballot, AZ-7-D has Gallego up 48-36 on Mary Rose Wilcox, Wendy Rodger is up 58-42 in AZ-9-R, Michelle Reagan is up 44-34 for SOS-R, Brnovich is up 54-46 for AG-R, Jeff Dewitt is up 44-34 for Treasurere-R, Huppenthall is losing 42-58 to Douglas for Superintendent-R while David Garcia is up 54-45on Sharon Thomas. Corp Comissioner is a tie between Doug Little and Tom Forse.
11:34 ET: Tobin is currently up, but his best county (Coconino) is the only one mostly counted. Kwasman is in last, but he's getting big margins from the Pima Early vote (which is bigger than the precinct #s shot). Kiehne is up in the rural counties, which are mostly uncounted still.
11:27 ET: Still no idea where AZ-1 is going, as all 3 have led at one point tonight. Gun to my head says that Kwasman wins it, as he's getting close to 50% in Tuscon, where the election-day vote is still all out.
11:24 ET: AOSHQDD has given Ducey the Check, and I'm inclined to agree. He's up by 14 points with 74% in. AZ-1 is still basically a 3-way tie right now.
11:13 ET: Also, AZ-1 is close, with Tobin up 36-35-29 on Kiehne and Kwasman, though no indication of where the votes are from in the district (which is important).
11:10 ET: With over 225,000 votes (55%) in, Ducey is winning about 80,000 to Smith's 56,000
11:08 ET: Here we go, Ducey is up 35-25 on Smith in the first big vote drop.
11:01 ET: Polls have now closed in the Reservations (which are following DST, unlike the rest of Arizona), so hopefully we'll start seeing numbers soon.
10:28 ET: Still nothing from Arizona. Florida's spoiled us again.