Welcome back from the Presidents' Day weekend. Oodles and oodles of news to get to...
NE-Sen: Gov. Dave Heineman (R) and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R) have both indicated they will explore a run for Johanns's seat. Heinemann sounds somewhat reluctant in his statement, while Fortenberry takes the usual ambiguous middle-ground. Other possibilities on the R side are AG Jon Bruning, Treasurer Don Stenberg, Reps. Adrian Smith and Lee Terry, and businessman Pete Ricketts.
NJ-Sen: Rep. Rush Holt Jr. (D) is considering trying to follow in his father's footsteps by running for the Senate. Holt becomes the second Dem congressman looking at the race, after Rep. Frank Pallone.
More NJ-Sen: Rep. Rob Andrews (D), who lost to Lautenberg in a 2008 primary and then reclaimed his House seat by using his wife as a placeholder, will not run. Andrews is saying he hopes to move up in House leadership. Given his recent, and continuing, ethics issues, staying in Congress and out of Prison may be the more realistic goals.
GA-Sen: Rep. Jack Kingston (R) pseudo-declared his candidacy this weekend, with a non-announcement announcement to the Forsyth County GOP. Expect an official announcement sometime in the next few weeks at most.
KY-Sen: It looks like McConnell might get a primary challenge after all. Connecticut businessman Matt Bevin, who owns the only manufacturer of bells in the US, has been talking with Tea Party groups about a run. It is unclear how Bevin divides his time between CT and KY, or how serious a threat he would be to McConnell. Across the aisle, Ashley Judd (D-TN) is "leaning toward" a bid against McConnell and has set a timetable of early May for her decision.
IA-Sen: Ex-Gov. and current US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (D) will not run, essentially clearing the D field for Rep. Bruce Braley.
MN-Sen: Rep. John Kline, one of Republicans' top two prospects here along with fellow Rep. Erik Paulsen, is not ruling out a run against Franken.
MA-Sen: WBUR looks at the D primary and finds Markey leading Lynch by a score of just 38-31. A good result for Lynch, who was losing to Markey by a huge margin in a recent PPP(D) poll.
LA-Sen: Rep. John Fleming (R) acknowledged he is taking a look at a bid against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) after blasting her on tax issues.
NE-Gov: State Sen. Charlie Janssen (R-Fremont) becomes the third candidate to run for Governor, and is currently the only candidate in the race after LG Sheehy and State Sen. Flood dropped out. In other NE-Gov news, university regent Tim Clare (R) won't run.
ME-Gov: Ex-Gov. John Baldacci (D) reveals that he is attempting to recruit either Rep. Chellie Pingree or Rep. Mike Michaud into the race - even while he considers his own bid. As for his own bid, the key quote from the article is this:
"Baldacci is banking on the idea that LePage's rhetoric and record in office will make him look better by comparison."
Not exactly a great strategy when you're also dealing with a credible third choice in 2010 candidate Eliot Cutler (I). Outgoing SBA Admin Karen Mills is being mentioned as another possible D alternative to Baldacci, but is so far noncomittal.
PA-Gov: Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D) is now seen as near-certain to run for Governor. Treasurer Rob McCord (D) is also considering a run.
MO-Gov '16, MO-AG '16: Ex-State House Speaker and US Attorney Catherine Hanaway (R) is already actively exploring a run for either of these seats. Both posts are likely to be open with AG Koster seen as near-certain to run for the Governorship; Hanaway could be a strong candidate in either race.
IL-2: State Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) dropped out of the D primary Sunday, clearing the way for 2010 Treasurer nominee Robin Kelly to glide to Congress over ex-Rep. Debbie Halvorson. Kelly is now the overwhelming favorite to win the D primary in this dark blue seat.
MO-8: Missouri Dems nominated Steve Hodges, a state Rep. from East Prairie representing a heavily R seat, as their candidate in the special. Hodges has a dramatically uphill fight in the deep red seat against State Rep. Jason Smith (R-Salem).
NY-11: City Councilman Dominic Recchia (D-Gravesend, Brooklyn) is running against Rep. Michael Grimm. Grimm is vulnerable because of ongoing ethics issues with his fundraising team, but a Brooklyn Democrat may not be the best choice for them to flip this Staten Island based seat.
FL-26: Ex-Dade County Commissioner Joe Martinez (R) will run against Joe Garcia. Martinez lost a bid for County Executive in a non-partisan 2012 race to fellow Republican Carlos Giminez.
SC-1: Mark Sanford's first ad takes the apology tour route. Politico also profiles the two other famous names in the race, Teddy Turner (R), and Elzabeth Colbert-Busch (D). The article on Colbert-Busch is more than a little on the optimistic side about her chances.
GA-11: Ex-Rep. Bob Barr, the 2008 Libertarian presidential nominee, is apparently looking for a congressional comeback after returning to his former Republican allegiance. The seat that would make the most sense is the 11th, which roughly corresponds to Barr's 1990s-era seat and is likely to be open with Rep. Phil Gingrey almost certainly running for Senate. Other less likely possibilities are Paul Broun's 10th and Tom Price's 6th.
NV-2: Dems are trying to recruit Washoe Sheriff Mike Haley to make a bid against Rep. Mark Amodei (R). Given Amodei's strong performance in his last two elections, it's hard to see him losing in 2014.
AL-6, NY-13: The Campaign for Primary Accountability is back, and they're targeting two incumbents they went after in 2012 - Alabama Republican Spencer Bachus and NY Dem Charlie Rangel. Seeing as one of the CPA's biggest issues was its lack of focus last cycle, this is a positive step for them. That said, I'm not sure these two are the wisest targets - Rangel may step down before 2014 to keep State Sen. Adriano Espaillat (D) out of his seat, and Bachus has a huge warchest (and ample time to use his finance connections to raise more).
WATN: Ex-IL-2 Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was charged with stealing $750K of campaign contributions for his personal use. He is likely to recieve approximately 4 years in prison; his wife, ex-Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson, is likely headed to the Big House as well as his co-conspirator.
State & Local:
DC-AG: DC is likely to elect its AG for the first time in 2014. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) introduced the bill last week, but as the idea has been discussed for a while, expect it to sail through easily. Though council seats are already elected citywide, the AG will be the only citywide elected executive besides the mayor.
MD-AA-CE: 16 people have applied for selection by the county council as AA County executive, to replace John Leopold (R), who was recently convicted of corruption charges. The big names are current acting CE John Hammond, State Del. and 2014 CE race front-runner Steve Schuh, ex-CE John Gary, and ex-First Lady Kendel Ehrlich. All are Republicans; the selection will occur Thursday.