Cruz: Even Ted Cruz is sounding like he’s going to take a softer line on immigration than people first thought. The Texas Senator says he’s not ruling out a pathway to legal status for illegal immigrants, though he has opposed similar measures in Congress previously. This is quite a shift from Romney’s “Self-deportation” policies in 2012, and the fact that even the candidate running hard right is softening up suggests that Republicans are taking that particular aspect of the 2012 post-mortem to heart.
Rubio: It seems like the junior Senator from Florida is planning on announcing a run for president after all. Rumors are that he plans to announce April 13th.
Banks $: A Number of Wallstreet banks are considering withholding symbolic funding for the Democrat Congressional Committees over Elizabeth Warren’s repeated calls for them to be forcibly broken up. This might be the most tone-deaf effort ever, as it’s doing nothing but giving Warren more credibility with the progressive left that the banks are trying to stifle, most of whom probably didn’t know that the banks were donating to the Democrats to start with.
NV-Sen: Governor Brian Sandoval (R) remains elusive as to whether or not he plans to run for the now-open Nevada Senate Seat. The Governor is massively popular, especially for a swing state, but the unexpected state Republican majorities swept in by the 2014 elections might convince him to stay in Carson City.
IL-18: Bobby Schilling, the former Republican Congressman from IL-17, has announced he isn’t going to move to the now-open IL-18. Instead, he endorsed State Senator Darin Lahood, son of the former representative here. LaHood is quickly becoming the consensus candidate for this seat, though his father’s famously moderate record will probably unnerve Conservatives who have no need to settle in this staunchly Republican downstate district.
KY-1: Ed Whitfield (R) is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee over whether or not he improperly used his position to aid in his wife’s lobbying efforts. This has been a long time coming, and relates to a horse-welfare bill backed by the American Humane Legislative Fund, which employs his wife.
MS-1: The filing for this Northern Mississippi district is now closed, and 12 Republicans and 1 Democrat are running. The election is officially non-partisan, and there will be a June runoff in the event that no one gets a majority (which seems very likely).
NY-11: This is a full profile on Green Party candidate James Lane, who’s running on his party's traditional climate-change-and-social-justice platform. He’s also running for the rights of the adoptee, interestingly, though he lives well outside of the district and will only serve as a mild annoyance for the Democrat’s all-but-nonexistent hopes at winning the special election here on May 5th.
TX-27: Solomon Ortiz Jr., the son of the longtime representative of this South-Texas district who lost in a 2010 shocker, is considering running against the man who beat his father. Considering the district has moved northwards and got about 10 points more Republican since his father represented it, this is unlikely to turn into a serious race, even with the accusations of sexual harassment against Representative Blake Farenthold.
States & Local:
LA-Legislative: Republican Darrell Ourso has narrowly beaten fellow Republican Buddy Amoroso in the LD-66 special runoff, 51-49.
NY-Mayor: Eva Moskowitz, the leader of the NYC Charter School group Success Academies, continues to get touted as a possible 2017 Mayor candidate. Moskowitz is defending the (impressive) record of her schools, which has made her a sworn enemy of the Teacher’s Union and by extension NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio, who’s sporting a mediocre approval rating in the deep-blue city. Moskowitz might be our best shot at unseating DeBlasio in the increasingly diverse New York City electorate, as Chater Schools (and education reform in general) are one of the few issues were we can get a lot of support in otherwise monolithically-D minority communities.
WV-Voting: Straight-ticket voting in West Virginia is now officially gone. The Mountain State joins a number of others in dropping the ballot option in recent years.
Statewide executive officers, or Row Officers, often get short shrift in the media, but they're often quite powerful and influential positions in their own right, as well as key stepping stones to higher office. Today we're taking a look at the 18 statewide downballot officers up for election in 2015. Three states have a variety of downballot executive officers up for re-election this year, and the races run the gamut from sleepy to hotly-contested.
Flip over the fold for our full ratings of these key contests...
We will have a 2015 Row Officer Ratings post tomorrow at noon. Here are this week's questions -
1. How will the Senate change (if at all) when Chuck Schumer replaces Reid as Democratic leader?
2. Other than obviously non-serious candidates, which GOP candidate would perform the worst against Hillary in the general election?
We have one legislative special this weekend, for LA-LD-66 in Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge Councilman Buddy Amoroso (R) and ex-Baton Rouge Councilman Darrell Ourso (R) are squaring off; there are few differences between the two but Amoroso seems to be marginally more conservative. Amoroso edged out Ourso in the first round by 35 votes of 4000+ cast, so there's no clear front-runner for tomorrow. UPDATE: Ourso won by 72 votes, or 2%.
Perhaps the biggest week of political news, at least on the Senate front, we've had so far this year ends with a bang:
Rep. Tammy Duckworth D-Ill., will announce a 2016 Senate bid on Monday, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned. She is aiming to win the Democratic nomination to run against Sen. Mark Kirk R-Ill.
As an injured veteran, Duckworth is likely to be a formidable challenger to Kirk and may neutralize his advantages in the fields of military service and overcoming challenges (in Kirk's case, a major stroke). However, she inexplicably underperformed expectations against a weak opponent in 2012. With any Dem emerging from the primary likely to start out as at least a slight favorite in the general election, Duckworth may not get a clear primary field. No less than three of her House colleagues are considering jumping into the race as well in Reps. Robin Kelly (D), Bill Foster (D), and Cheri Bustos (D).
As for Duckworth's open IL-8, Democrats will be highly favored to hold it, but it won't be a sure thing as the D+7 seat has some voters who are willing to split tickets for moderate Rs. 2012 candidate and former deputy State Treasurer Raja Krishnamoorthi, and State Sens. Michael Noland and Tom Cullerton (brother of Senate President John) are considered strong possibilities to run. State Reps. Anna Moeller, Fred Crespo, Deb Conroy, Marty Moylan, and Kathleen Willis also live in the district.
Perhaps the GOP's best hope - indeed, the only candidate who might be more than the longest of long-shots - might be ex-State Sen. and 2-time gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard, a conspicuous moderate who almost beat now-Gov. Bruce Rauner in last year's primary on union support. Other possible contenders to Great-Mention are State Sen. Matt Murphy, State Reps. Peter Breen, Christine Winger, and Tom Morrison, and Cook County Commissioner Tim Schneider.
“I want to be able to go out at the top of my game,” said Mr. Reid, who used a sports metaphor about athletes who try to hang on too long. “I don’t want to be a 42-year-old trying to become a designated hitter.”
However, this move was long-expected in spite of superficial moves Reid had made towards running for re-election; his declining health and the loss of his majority made the move all but inevitable.
The first issue will be the Dem leadership fight. New York Sen. Chuck Schumer is considered the front-runner, but may face a tough fight with Reid's #2, Illinois's Dick Durbin, who has generally cut a less liberal but more partisan path than Schumer. Washington's Patty Murray has been mentioned as a surprise pick as well.
As for Reid's open seat, this race was already going to be the tougest seat for Democrats to hold, but now gets a fresh injection of uncertainty. This, paradoxically, probably improves Democrats' chances of holding the seat slightly, as it reduces the urgency for Republicans to recruit uber-popular but supposedly reluctant-to-run Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) into the race. If Sandoval does in fact run, it's hard to imagine anyone posing a serious threat to him taking the seat.
Other possible names on the GOP side who have already been mentioned as considering the race include ex-LG Brian Krolicki, State Sen. Michael Roberson, and LG Mark Hutchinson. But with Reid out, the field may get much more crowded. Rep. Joe Heck is probably the Republicans' second-best candidate after Sandoval and may reconsider his decision to stay out. Other, somewhat less likely, possibilities include Reps. Mark Amodei and Cresent Hardy, SoS Barbara Cegavske, and AG Adam Laxalt.
Democrats' bench was all but wiped out by Sandoval's massive coattails in the 2014 wave. Ex-AG Catherine Cortez-Masto, who wisely sat out 2014, is probably the front-runner for the D nomination. Other options for Dems could include ex-SoS Ross Miller, ex-Treasurer Kate Marshall, and Rep. Dina Titus.
IL-Sen: Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D) sent a fundraising letter asking for support for a Senate bid, although she says she'll return the money if she decides not to run. It sounds like Duckworth is waiting to see Q1 reports--and how her numbers compare to possible primary rivals Bill Foster and Cheri Bustos--before making a final call on a bid.
MD-Sen: Someone check Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's vital signs, because I can't understand for the life of me why someone would want to stay in Baltimore if they had the opportunity to go someone else (Shamlet will hate me for this). Rawlings-Blake is passing on the Senate race, leaving the door wide open for any Baltimore Democrat who wants to exploit the likely split of the suburban DC vote between Reps. Chris Van Hollen (Montgomery) and Donna Edwards (Prince Georges).
More MD-Sen: That Baltimore Democrat may be Rep. Elijah Cummings (D), who is still considering the race and would put a double-squeeze on Edwards by splitting the black vote. If Cummings passes former NAACP president Ben Jealous (D) may run; Jealous lives in the DC area but has family roots in Baltimore.
PA-Sen: Buried deep in a typically unhelpful Franklin & Marshall poll is a typically unhelpful finding on the Senate race, with Toomey up 34-29 on Sestak. F&M retains its complete inability to push leaners.
FL-18: Democrats' attempts to hold onto one of their reddest seats are off to a miserable start. The local bench--State Sen. Jeff Clemens, State Rep. Dave Kerner, and PB County Commissioner Melissa McKinley--was trying to ensure one of their own would have a clear field. But yesterday, PB County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor jumped in out of the blue, and her fellow Democrats roundly blasted her. Taylor, a standard black urban liberal who doesn't live in the district, is probably the worst candidate Dems could run, which means EMILY will endorse her in 3, 2...
More FL-18: Amidst all that, Palm Beach County DA Dave Aronberg (D) is out, opting instead to run for re-election to his current gig.
Governor, State, & Local:
KY-Gov: Louisville Councilman Hal Heiner (R) leads Ag Commish James Comer (R) 33-19 in a Triumph Campaigns poll that Comer's campaign is insisting is a Heiner push poll. Either way, Heiner's lead is based on huge margins in greater Louisville and Lexington; Comer holds small leads with many undecided in rural Kentucky.
Jacksonville-Mayor: In the first poll of May's runoff, from St. Pete Polls, incumbent Alvin Brown (D) leads Lenny Curry (R) 49-46. That's a surprise, as Brown was held to 43% in the first round Tuesday night while GOP candidates combined for 55%. You may remember St. Pete Polls as one of the many firms that RRH Polling outperformed in last year's FL-13 special.
Philly-Mayor: Ex-DA Lynne Abraham (D) put out an internal showing her up 30-14-14 on City Councilor Jim Kenney and State Sen. Anthony Williams. Notably, Abraham, a mainstream Philly machine Dem who is white, leads among black voters despite Williams, a noted DINO, being the lone major black candidate in the field.
PA-HD-170: We missed this delicious quote from Rep. Brendan Boyle (D), after Martina White (R) flipped his old State House seat in NE Philly Tuesday night: "[White] was the harder working candidate. This could have remained a Democratic district." That's a swipe at LG Mike Stack, who muscled Boyle's crony out of the way to steer the Dem nomination to his own crony, prompting Boyle to deliver union support to White and the seat to Team Red. Never change, Philly Dems!
Congress IN-Sen: Former Indiana Republican Party Chairman and State Director for retiring Senator Dan Coats, Eric Holcomb, will announce his bid for the Republican nomination to replace Coats today. Holcomb seems to have a strong list of connections running through Coats and former Governor Mitch Daniels.
OR-Sen: Senator Ron Wyden (D), one of my favorite Democrats, has really angered liberal groups over his staunch advocacy of free trade and now are threatening a primary challenger. I will believe it when I see it as the Democrats are far better at blocking such challengers.
DC-Delegate: Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) has been caught on tape having parking issues including bumping a car without leaving a note. The hilarity of the situation is that it is not even a parallel spot she is having such a hard time parking her Ford Focus in.
POTUS/States Bush: The parallels are being drawn between former Governor Jeb Bush's campaign and failed Republican campaigns of the past including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's disastrous 2008 campaign. I just don't see the energy for a fourth Bush term.
Kaisch: 16 years after scuttling a presidential run, Ohio Governor John Kaisch (R) is returning to New Hampshire to flirt with the idea again. As much as I like Kaisch, I am not sure where he fits in the mix as he really seems like a good safety candidate for supporters of Bush and Walker if they respectively implode, but he is not a sure bet for either camp if that happens.
PA-Mandatory Voting: State Senator and mayoral frontrunner Anthony Williams (DINO-Philadelphia) has introduced a bill to make voting mandatory in Pennsylvania. This is unusual for Williams to champion anything resembling a progressive cause, which leads me to believe he is just trying to capitalize on President Obama's remarks on the subject to distract everyone from him being a complete DINO sleeping with a fracking lobbyist and taking large sums of cash from suburban whites charter school lovers.
DelCo-Dems: The day after Congressman Brendan Boyle (D) was complicit in handing the Republicans his former state House of Representatives seat, the Delaware County Democrats handed the county Republicans a massive favor after a court has thrown their three county council candidates off the ballot for failing to properly file forms. The DelCo Dems are appealing, but the real funny part of this is that the Republicans are now poised to potentially win the Democratic primary through the write-in process and run uncontested in the general election in a D+9 county. The Republicans currently hold every countywide office in Delaware County.
Chicago-Mayor: Congressman Luis Gutiérrez (D) has buried the hatchet with Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) and endorsed his reelection against Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (D). Gutiérrez and Emanuel have clashed over the years because Emanuel has not been a big pusher of amnesty as a make or break issue especially during his days as President Obama's Chief of Staff.
Running for president: National Journal has an interesting piece pointing out that Sen. Ted Cruz is actually the 195th person to run for president in 2016. The fact highlights just how actually easy it is to run for president-all you need to do is file a statement with the FEC listing your name, address and the office you are seeking. Of course, a lot of the ease of just declaring a run for president has to do with the fact that ballot access(which is much more difficult) is a state matter and the vast majority of candidates who declare intentions to run will only appear on the ballot in a small number of states.
Jindal: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) will wait until June to announce whether he will run for president, according to an advisor. This will allow him to focus on the state's legislative session, which begins in April and ends on June 11.
CT-Sen: Former US Comptroller General David Walker will not run for US Senate against Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D). Walker lost a bid for the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor last year, but would have been at least a credible candidate in a very difficult race for the GOP. Walker has taken a job with accounting firm PriceWaterhouse in Virginia and is selling his Connecticut home.
IN-Sen: With many considering a run for the seat of Sen. Dan Coats (R), it's easier to look at who isn't running. Reps. Luke Messer and Larry Buscshon are the only 2 of the state's 7 Republican congressmen not interested. Neither of the state's 2 Democratic congressmen, Reps. Peter Visclosky or Andre Carson are interested. Former Sen. Evan Bayh (D) says he is not a candidate, although he used the present tense, which could indicate getting in the race later, although he likely will stay out.
NH-Sen: A new Gravis Marketing poll has Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) ahead of Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) 47-45 in a potential matchup. Although the writeup characterizes the poll as bad news for Ayotte, she has actually trailed in other recent polls, so any lead at this point is some good news.
NY-Sen./Gov 2018: Warren County Republican Chairman Michael Grasso is expressing his hope that Rep. Chris Gibson (R) runs for Senate in 2018 instead of governor. Gibson is not running for re-election in 2016, but is considering running for another office in 2018. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino (R) is considering another run for governor, and Grasso hopes to not have a primary between the two, which he both considers excellent candidates.
MI-1: Rep. Dan Benishek (R), is running for re-election, despite making a 3-term limit pledge in 2010. Democrats(and possibly Republican primary challengers) are sure to make breaking the pledge a point in their 2016 campaigns against him. Benishek says he is breaking the pledge because the fight to hold bureaucrats in Washington accountable will take a long time to undo, and also cites his work as the only Michigan member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
NE-2: Retired Brigadier General Don Bacon has become the first Republican to announce a run against Rep. Brad Ashford (D). Bacon, who has never run for political office before is branding himself a "conservative outsider".
Dem leadership: With Nancy Pelosi ally Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) running for Senate, the jockeying has begun behind the scenes for others to move up in leadership. Van Hollen had been set up by Pelosi as a possible successor to her for Democratic leader when she steps down(Minority Whip Steny Hoyer is certain to be challenged by others). Among those looking to move up are Rep. Joe Crowley, who has tried recently to burnish his liberal credentials after being seen by some as being too moderate earlier in his career, and Reps. Kyrsten Sinema and Terri Sewell. Rep. Elijah Cummings could have a chance to move up too, assuming he doesn't run for Senate like Van Hollen.
CA-Gov. 2018: Here's a Great Mentioner piece on who is likely to run for governor in 2018. At the top of the list is LG Gavin Newsom (D), who has made clear his intention to run, and is already raising money. Former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) turned down a run for Senate, a move seen as making him more likely to run for governor. Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) is also considered a possible candidate. Another possible name is somebody who is currently unknown but would hold an important position-the successor to AG Kamala Harris (D) assuming she wins the Senate race next year. On the Republican side, two mayors-Ashley Swearengin of Fresno and Kevin Faulconer of San Diego are the most often mentioned. Faulconer is saying he is he's happy what he is doing, but he is sounding similar themes to another San Diego mayor, Pete Wilson before he ran statewide, first for the US Senate and then governor.
For JacksonvilleMayor, incumbent Alvin Brown (D) and ex-FLGOP chairman Lenny Curry advance to the general election. Brown led the primary vote with 43%, but only 5 points ahead of Curry's 38%, and with Republican candidiates taking 55% of the vote, Curry should be the favorite for the general. In PA-LD-170, Republican Martina White won 57-43, picking up this seat from the Democrats. Republicans now have a 120-83 majority in the PA House.
Today is the primary election for the mayor of America's 13th-biggest city. It's a three-way race, but this Louisiana-rules Top Two contest looks near certain to head to a May 19 runoff. Polls close at 7p Eastern.
Incumbent Alvin Brown (D) won a surprise victory in the conservative city in 2011 over a flawed opponent. However, Jacksonville, which is purple presidentially at R+3 but deep red in off-years, looks likely to return to form this year. Owing to the difficulty of needing both high turnout and crossover support to replicate his 2011 victory, Brown has attempted to appease both his liberal African-American base and the conservative broader electorate - and wound up satisfying neither. While the incumbent leads in the polls of this three-way race, he is well below 50% (polling in the high 30s) and seems all but certain to face a tough May runoff.
Brown's likely runoff opponent, and the overall front-runner to be the next mayor, is ex-FLGOP chair Lenny Curry (R). Owing to his party connections, Curry has unsurprisingly garnered most of the GOP establishment support. As you might expect, he is a typical establishment Republican and mainstream conservative. Curry has been polling in the mid-to-high 20s in recent surveys, putting him solidly in second place. He has also used his business connections to run a very well-funded and professional campaign, blanketing the city with TV spots. It will be hard for Curry to overcome Brown's united Democratic base to take first today, but it won't matter much; Curry is near-certain to make the runoff and will likely be heavily favored in round two.
The third wheel in today's race is city councilman Bill Bishop (R), who is running as a fiscally conservative outsider. While Bishop strikes some antiestablishment notes (he was a high-level backer of Herman Cain's presidential bid in 2012) he also has some more moderate support, including the endorsement of the city's main newspaper, the Times Union. However, Bishop has been polling in the mid-teens and seems very unlikely to beat out Curry and his strong establishment connections for the right to take on Brown. Finally, a fourth candidate in the race, Some Dude Omega Allen, is non-serious.
We have one legislative special worth noting today, in PA-LD-170. The D+5 seat around Somerton at the far northeast tip of Philadelphia was vacated by now-Rep. Brendan Boyle (D). It looks like a pretty strong GOP pickup possibility. In PA special elections, nominees are determined by a cabal of insiders. Republicans uneventfully nominated Martina White (R), a young financial planner. But the Dem nomination has been a circus. Northeast Philly's two big power brokers, Boyle and LG Mike Stack (D), have seen this as an opportunity to go into an all-out feud for control of the seat. Stack won the struggle this time, and Sarah Del Ricci (D), wife of a local party hack in his faction, got the nomination. However, Boyle's machine remains unhappy and is sitting on its hands in hopes that their spurned candidate, Boyle aide Seth Kaplan, will get a chance in 2016. With the ridiculously weird timing, the area's R heritage (it's basically in the one part of Philly with a functioning GOP), and the infighting among Dems, this one seems more likely than not to be a GOP pickup.
Indiana Senator Dan Coats (R) has announced his retirement for a second time. Coats served from 1989 to 1999 before winning his seat back in 2010. We had expected this due to his prior lukewarm statements and the fact that he made it back to the Senate almost by accident; what started as almost a sacrificial lamb run turned into an easy win after the surprise retirement of then-Sen. Evan Bayh (D).
The list of possible Republican contenders for Coats’ seat is ridiculously long and starts with the entire GOP congressional delegation. Particularly likely to consider is Rep. Marlin Stutzman, an antiestablishment favorite who, prior to his election to the House, ran for this Senate seat in 2010 against Coats. More establishment-oriented Reps. Susan Brooks, Todd Young, and Todd Rokita are all likely to take a look as well. And don't totally count out the other three Republican House members, Jackie Walorski, Luke Messer, or Larry Bucshon, either, though they generally have lower profiles than the first four mentioned. Stateside options include termed-out AG Greg Zoeller, LG Sue Elspermann and ex-LG Becky Skillman, State House Speaker Brian Bosma, State Sens. Mike Delph and Jim Merritt, and outgoing Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. Also named as a possible contender is Coats’ Indiana Chief of Staff, Eric Holcomb. The Club for Growth could also be active here since The Club's current president is former Indiana Congressman David McIntosh and its former president was former IN Congressman Chris Chocola; both are slight but unlikely possibilities to run. Former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and current Governor Mike Pence would be dream NRSC recruits but both are probably unlikely to run.
Democrats will likely seriously contest this seat but face an uphill battle. The DSCC's dream recruit would be Bayh, who closed the door on a Governor run late last year but hasn't officially ruled out going back to the Senate. However, it is more likely that he is happy cashing out. The most realistic "A" list candidate for Democrats is State Superintendent Glenda Ritz, who won an upset in 2012 on strong union support and had been exploring a bid for Governor. Beyond Ritz, other options include several candidates speculated as interested in taking on Pence, ex-Rep. Baron Hill, Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, and ex-State House Speaker and 2012 gubernatorial nominee John Gregg. All may now see the Senate as an easier target.