Last Night Wichita-Mayor: As expected, two Republicans have made the mayoral runoff in Wichita with City Councilman Jeff Longwall getting 28% of the vote while retired advertising executive Sam Williams got 25 percent of the vote. They will face each other in the April 7 general election.
KY-SD-27: Steve West (R) defeated Kelly Caudill (D) in this R+14 conservaDem vote sink in the special election to replace now Rowan County Judge-Executive Walter Blevins (D). Our Democratic friend with an ear to southern Democratic politics, GradyDem, says this looks really bad for Democratic odds in November.
Tampa-Mayor: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn (D) easily won reelection last night against token Democratic opposition with 96 percent of the vote.
POTUS Walker: The Hill asks whether Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) is ready for the spotlight of a presidential campaign. Walker has not made any huge errors out of the gate, but there have been a few awkward moments. Walker has dealt with a lot in Wisconsin, but he has not had this level of media scrutiny.
Clinton: People are actually whining about the lack of transparency evident with the Clinton camp. While I am all for transparency, I think whining about the Clintons not being transparent is a waste of time. Everyone knows they are not transparent from the eight years of their co-presidency we already experienced.
GOP Nomination: Byron York looks at how the historical trend for Republicans to support the next in line is starting to break down and how that will be bad for Jeb Bush if it fully materializes.
Carson: In a further sign Ben Carson is serious about his presidential run, he has formed an exploratory committee. While Carson is a gifted doctor and deserves our respect for that, I am not sure why he is making this run this way.
Congress CA-Sen: Presumptive Democratic frontrunner California Attorney General Kamala Harris says she will be a voice for the voiceless and vulnerable if elected to the Senate. Harris made these remarks at a gala for EMILY'S List. No word of Harris promised to behave like retiring Senator Barbara Boxer.
MD-Sen: Former Governor Martin O'Malley (D) will not run for US Senate to replace retiring Senator Barbara Mikulski (D). O'Malley appears to be still focusing on his doomed for failure presidential campaign.
We have two mayoral elections, a city council election in LA, and one competitive legislative special today. No liveblogs this time but here is an open thread for discussion of the results.
You probably don't think of Wichita as a big city, but it is actually among the 50 largest, with a population just shy of 400K. The mayoral seat is currently held by a Dem, Carl Brewer, but he is termed out and the seat looks certain to be picked up by Republicans. But what kind of Republican will pick up the seat is very much in doubt. The race uses California Rules Top Two, and as such the field will be narrowed to two today for an April 7 general, regardless of whether anyone hits 50%. Ten candidates are running, but only three are serious. The race has been a low-budget affair, with total spending by all candidates so far only amounting to about $250K.
Retired ad agency executive Sam Williams (R), who seems to be a moderate, looks like the front-runner. Aided by self-funding, Williams has raised and spent the most of the field by far. Sam Williams has been endorsed by the Wichita Eagle and former mayor (not that) Robert Knight (R), but has also faced questions about his noncommital stance on tax increases and apparent false claims of having a CPA credential. Williams's main competition is City Councilman Jeff Longwell (R), who seems to be a mainstream Chamber-of-Commerce conservative. Longwell has a base in his council district, in the vote-rich western part of the city, and has fundraised reasonably well. The third serious candidate in the race is attorney and KSGOP official Sean Hatfield (R). Hatfield hasn't raised much, but is running to the right of the field. Unlike Williams and Longwell, Hatfield has emphasized his support for the staunch conservatism of Gov. Sam Brownback (R). Hatfield has also picked up support from pro-life groups, suggesting he may be able to make the runoff on grassroots support. Right now, a runoff between Sam Williams and Longwell looks like the most likely scenario, but Hatfield sneaking in would not be a huge shock. Two other candidates aren't running serious campaigns (neither has spent even a dollar) but could draw some support. These are councilwoman Lavonta Williams (D), the only significant D in the race, and Some Dude Jennifer Winn (R), who could benefit from residual name rec from her non-serious protest run against Gov. Brownback in the 2014 primary. It would be a true shock if either made it into one of the top two spots, but each could draw some significant vote shares, most likely from the center and left at the expense of Sam Williams.
This race isn't a contest at all; incumbent Bob Buckhorn (D) faces token opposition from a Some Dude Democrat and will coast to re-election.
Los Angeles City Council:
We also have a very odd off-year election in Los Angeles, where half the city council seats are up. The 7 even-numbered districts will be decided in what is sure to be an absurdly low-turnout affair. All candidates in the competitive races are Democrats. The council's lone Republican, Mitchell Englander of CD-12 in Chatsworth, will win unopposed today. Four of the seven districts are at least semi-competitive, and three of those four probably go to runoffs. CD-4 in Sherman Oaks has a 14-way field with no clear front-runner. CD-6 in Van Nuys is a rematch between ex-State Rep. Cindy Montanez and incumbent Nury Martinez, who beat Montanez in a major upset in 2013. CD-8 in South Central will likely go to a runoff between nonprofit exec Foreschee Hogan-Rowles and Marqueece Harris-Dawson, an aide to Rep. Karen Bass (D). Finally, CD-14 in El Sereno likely heads to a runoff between incumbent Jose Huizar and ex-LA County Supervisor Gloria Molina.
We also have a competitive special election today. The seat up for grabs is KY-SD-27, a rural district stretching from Paris in the exurbs of Lexington north and east to the Ohio River. The formerly D-held seat is R+14 at the presidential level, which is in the swingy range by Kentucky downballot standards. Attorney Steve West (R), who lost a State Rep. race in 2010, will face attorney Kelly Caudill (D). We can't see a clear favorite here; the seat was made more GOP-friendly in redistricting, but Kentucky Democrats are much better at the turnout game.
Hillary: Hillary Clinton will officially kick off her presidential campaign in April, according to aides who have spoken of the timetable in private meetings. This a quicker entry into the race than had been expected, as she had been expected to wait until the summer. The accelerated timetable is intended to reassure those with lingering uncertainties that she will actually get in the race, especially potential donors who have held off donating until she is actually running. The move has drawbacks too however, as it makes her an easier target for Republicans and forces her to begin articulating positions on tough issues.
IL-Sen: Ex-Gov. Pat Quinn (D) says he is not focusing on any future campaign, such as the 2016 US Senate race. He does not rule out a future run for office, however.
PA-Sen: Ex-Rep. Joe Sestak (D) will officially launch his bid for a rematch with Sen. Pat Toomey (R) tomorrow. Sestak is currently the only Democrat in the race, although some in the party have indicated a lack of excitement for the repeat bid and want others to get in. Other Democrats who have openly discussed running are Philadelphia DA Seth Williams. Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro, state Sen. Vincent Hughes, and former Rep. Chris Carney.
IA-3: Ex-state Sen. Staci Appel (D) is openly considering a rematch with Rep. David Young (R). Appel, who lost to Young by 11 points in 2014, says that she is hopeful that higher presidential election year turnout will make the seat more competitive in 2016.
MS-1: Itawamba County Prosecutor Chip Mills (R) is joining the race to replace the late Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R). He joins state Sen. Nancy Collins (R) of Tupelo, Lee County DA Trent Kelly (R) and Oxofrd businessman and former Jackson city councilman Quentin Whitwell (R) in the special election which will be held May 12.
NY-11: Staten Island DA Dan Donovan (R) has received the endorsement of the Independence Party and will appear on the ballot with their line for the May 5 special election. Although Donovan is already a heavy favorite, the Independence line could help draw moderate Democrats who don't want to vote on the Republican line. Donovan will appear on lines for the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties. He will face New York City Councilman Vincent Gentile (D) of Brooklyn.
IN-Gov: Gov. Mike Pence (R) appears to be focusing on a re-election bid, and not a run for President. A local columnist points out 5 signs that Pence will run for re-election including that he is not hiring campaign staff for a presidential run and would-be Pence supporters from Indiana are supporting other candidates-a contrast to the 2012 cycle when state Republicans waited on the decision of former Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) when he was considering the race.
LA-Gov: Speculation continues on whether New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) or another Democrat will join this race. Some say he will eventually get in(he has a habit of getting in races at the last minute) while others call it unfathomable. Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell's name has been floated as another Democrat that could get in the race, and he would fill a void as being the only candidate from the northern part of the state. Currently, the lone Democrat in the race, state Rep. John Bel Edwards has a good chance of making a runoff, but some Democrats fear that another Democrat in the race could lead to an all-Republican runoff.
UT-Gov: Overstock.com CEO Jonathan Johnson is apparently planning a primary challenge to Gov. Gary Herbert (R). Although he has not officially announced a bid, he said in a recent speech that his candidacy is the "worst kept secret in the state" and that he has "every intention of running".
WV-Gov/Sen: The West Virginia Senate has passed a bill that would require a special election in the event of a vacancy in the US Senate. Currently, a governor can appoint somebody to fill the seat if there are less than 28 months left in the term. The measure, passed on a party line vote in the Republican controlled chamber is seen as targeting the potential candidacy of Sen. Joe Manchin (D) for a return to the governor's office in 2016.
State & Local:
NE-Electoral vote: A bill to return Nebraska to the winner-take-all method for awarding electoral votes has received first round approval in the Legislature. A cloture motion passed with the bare minimum of 33 votes and the bill then passed 31-17. The bill must still clear two more rounds of debate before it is sent to Gov. Pete Ricketts (R), who will likely sign it.
Houston Mayor: Bill King, an attorney and businessman and former mayor of the small town of Kemah in Galveston County just over the border from Harris County, is running for Houston mayor. He joins former Rep. Chris Bell, attorney Ben Hall, state Rep. Sylvester Turner and Houston City Council members Stephen Costello and Oliver Pennington in the race.
After 30 years in the Senate and a generation as arguably Maryland's most influential political figure, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) is retiring.
The 4-foot-11 Baltimore native has scheduled the news conference for 11 a.m. at the Inn at Henderson's Wharf in Fells Point. Three people familiar with her plans -- a close friend in Maryland, a senior Democratic Party official and a Senate staffer – said she would announce at the event that she would step down at the end of 2016 and not seek another term.
Mikulski started out as something of a Conservative Democrat; she first came to national prominence in the 1970s on a platform that looks strangely like modern populist conservatism. Mikulski's early career was spent railing against both big business and big government, and defending traditional American values. As Maryland shifted from just a Democratic state to a liberal one, Mikuski shifted with it, and by the end of her tenure has been known as a generic liberal. Needless to say, in one of America's most inelastically blue states and a presidential year, it's only a question of what type of lliberal is going to replace her. But it's important to note that Maryland is not really a machine state and contested primaries are much more common here than in states further north. So this primary field is likely to be crowded.
One name that comes immediately to mind is ex-Gov. and quixotic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley (D), who is currently at asterisk level support in his hopeless White House run. O'Malley is quite unpopular with Marylanders at large; his string of tax hikes are more or less single-handedly responsible for last year's election of Gov. Larry Hogan (R). But he still retains real appeal with the Democratic base, which is probably enough to get him through the primary if he wants to swallow his pride and go for it. Beyond O'Malley, Maryland Democrats have a huge bench. Let's break it down by geography, as the 695 (Baltimore) and 495 (DC) universes are highly polarized.
Three Washington suburban Reps. have long been thought to have their eyes on bigger perches: Rep. Donna Edwards (D) has a strong base in PG County, while Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) similarly starts with a strong base in Montgomery County. However, Van Hollen may see a high opportunity cost with his rising stature in House leadership. Finally, Rep. John Delaney (D) is another possibility; Delaney could carve out a niche as the moderate Democrat in the field, which may be enough to get him to a plurality victory. Another candidate who could fill the moderate niche is Comptroller Peter Franchot (D), who was thought to have his eye on state office but would not need to give up his seat to make this race. Some other names from the DC suburbs include PG CE Rushern Baker (D) and US Labor Secretary Tom Perez (D), who previously served on the Montgomery County Council. Ex-State Rep. and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur (D) is getting some mentions and may have an opening as a far-left candidate. One final name we'd thought we'd seen the last of was ex-LG Anthony Brown (D), who epically blew the 2014 gubernatorial election; however, Brown is apparently now considering the race.
From the Baltimore area, Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger (D), John Sarbanes (D), and Elijah Cummings (D) are slight possibilities, but all three are considered less ambitious than their 495 colleagues. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) is another possibility, but would need to give up her perch to run. Additional Baltimore-area possibilities include Baltimore CE Kevin Kamenetz (D) and ex-Howard CE and 2014 LG nominee Ken Ulman (D).
On the GOP side, it's hard to see Republicans having any real chance at the seat barring a DGLB (other than maybe the slightest chance with an O'Malley nomination.) But we actually have a pretty strong bench here thanks to sweeping nearly all contested races in 2014. Possible candidates to take one for the team in hopes of raising their profile for 2022's Governor race (none would need to give up a current post to run) could include LG Boyd Rutherford (R), Howard CE Allan Kittleman (R), Anne Arundel CE Steve Schuh (R), 2012 nominee Dan Bongino (R), State Rep. Anthony O'Donnell (R), ex-Harford CE and 2014 gubernatorial candidate David Craig (R), and ex-State Rep. and Craig's running mate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio (R).
This is strangely a race where we might be wishing against having a prominent candidate; fresh blood will help build our bench. But more prominent names would start with ex-Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R) as a possibility. However, it's hard to see what Ehrlich (who is currently pursuing a quixotic presidential bid) would gain from such an uphill run at this stage in his career. The only way I can see him running is if O'Malley does and he runs to spite his archnemesis. From the "send in the clowns" file, ex-LG Michael Steele (R), ex-UN Ambassador John Bolton (R), and neurosurgeon Ben Carson (R) might all see this race as a path to national visibility, but all would almost certianly even underperform Generic R here and provide us little help in getting a candidate for a winnable race.
A final scenario worth considering is to pull an Orman and get Republicans to throw the race in favor of an Indie. A candidate who could potentially play that role is 2012 candidate Rob Sobhani (I), who took 15% of the vote with a six-week campaign in 2012 and held incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin (D) to an unimpressive 55% performance.
UPDATE: Carson is out, while unconfirmed twitter reports suggest that both O'Malley and ex-LG Anthony Brown (D), who managed to lose the 2014 gubernatorial race through sheer laziness, are considering.
UPDATE #2: From the horse's mouth, Delaney is considering.
UPDATE #3: Not straight from the source, but third-parties say that both Ruppersberger and Rawlings-Blake are considering.
CPAC: As expected, Rand Paul won the CPAC straw poll, with Scott Walker a close second.
CA-Sen: Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin (R), one of the few prominent Republicans to look seriously at this race, will not run for Senate. State Rep. Rocky Chavez (R) is starting to look like the GOP's consensus pick here, though a few other C-list Republicans are still considering.
FL-Sen: Sen. Marco Rubio (R) has not definitively said he will give up his Senate seat for a White House bid, but one GOPer is already laying the groundwork to replace him, State CFO Jeff Atwater (R). Atwater has met with the NRSC and Chamber of Commerce to lay the groundwork for a run. The news is mildly surprising, as just last year Atwater appeared ready to leave elective politics for a university presidency (which he was passed over for). As a statewide official and one of the few Republicans with strong appeal in South Florida (he's a Palm Beach native), Atwater is likely to be a front-runner for the seat. However, an open seat primary is likely to be crowded.
MO-Gov: Veteran and nonprofit executive Eric Greitens (R) made a very unfortunate decision to open up an exploratory commitee for this race last week, just hours before news of his entry was buried by Auditor Tom Schweich's suicide. Greitens will face State House Speaker Catherine Hanaway (R), and potentially now many others, in the GOP primary. AG Chris Koster (D) is the presumptive Dem nominee. However, expect this race to be frozen for at least a few weeks out of deference to Schweich and the sheer number (at least a half-dozen) of contenders who will need to recalibrate their decision-making process.
More MO-Gov: Here's a piece with more analysis of the race and the state of the MOGOP after Schwiech's death. Speculation is that newly-installed MOGOP chair John Hancock, whom Schweich had been feuding with over an alleged whispering campaign, may be a casualty. There is also speculation that Schweich's main primary rival, ex-State House Speaker Catherine Hanaway (R), may see some blowback from Republicans over the harsh tone her campaign took against Schweich in recent weeks.
CA-21: 2014 nominee Amanda Renteria (D) is taking a job as a top-level campaign manager for Hillary, taking her out of a possible rematch with David Valadao (R). Democrats are attempting to recruit ER physician Joaquin Arambula (D) as a candidate for this top-tier D target.
CA-36: Republicans may have scored a top recruit here. Indio Mayor Lupe Ramos-Watson (R) is likely to run against Rep. Raul Ruiz (D). Ruiz, who overperformed in 2014 even by the high standards of California Democrats, will still be a tough target.
CA-52: Another GOP recruit who may try to oust a Democratic incumbent is veteran Jacquie Atkinson (R), an aide to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R). Atkinson, who is openly lesbian, is considering a challenge to Rep. Scott Peters (D).
IL-18: The personal spending troubles just keep mounting for Rep. Aaron Schock (R). A new story alleges that he improperly failed to disclose expenses related to a 2011 trip to London and a 2012 fundraiser. Schock has also paid $40K from his personal funds to reimburse the government for the elaborate office decorations that sparked the slow-burn scandal weeks ago.
MS-1: We had some major movement in this race last week. Three candidates entered the race, and the only major candidate previously in the race exited after just two days. The 3 new candidates are State Sen. Nancy Collins (R-Tupelo), Lee County DA Trent Kelly (R), and ex-Jackson city councilman Quentin Whitwell (R), who now lives in Oxford. Meanwhile, State Rep. Chris Brown (R) said Tuesday that he would drop out after two days in the race, citing family business obligations.
NY-11: NYC Councilman and Dem nominee Vincent Gentile (D) is pushing his opponent, Staten Island DA Dan Donovan (R), to release the grand jury transcripts from the controversal non-indictment of a police officer in the death of Eric Garner. Gentile's decision to use the Garner case in his campaign is a questionable one politically, as polls have showed that a strong majority of this police-friendly district supports Donovan's handling of the incident.
PA-8: 2014 primary candidate Shaugnessy Naughton (D) is running again for the competitive open seat of outgoing Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R), joining State Rep. Steve Santarsiero (D) in the primary. On the GOP side, moderate State Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R) has been actively exploring a run.
State & Local:
MS-AG: Right at the filing deadline last Friday, Republicans finally got a credible candidate to run against AG Jim Hood (D), the last statewide Democrat in the Deep South. Mike Hurst (R), a deputy federal prosecutor and staffer for then-Rep. Chip Pickering (R), is now in the race. Hurst will have an uphill run against the popular Hood, but on paper looks like about the best candidate we could ask for. And with Democrats not seriously contesting any other statewide race, an upset is possible. There were no other significant filing deadline surprises in MS. All 8 statewide officers are running again and all look strongly favored for re-election, though Treasurer Lynn Fitch (R) and Auditor Stacey Pickering (R) do have semi-serious primary challenges.
MO-AG, etc: Jackson CE Mike Sanders (D) will not seek statewide office next year. Sanders had been considered a top-tier prospect for a downballot statewide office.
MT-Supt: Teacher Melissa Romano (D) has become the first candidate to enter this race. Incumbent Denise Juneau (D) is termed out.
NJ-LD-22: State Rep. Linda Stender (D-Fanwood), who lost a pair of runs for NJ-7 in 2006 and 2008, is not running for re-election. Stender was under fire after it was revealed her husband recieved Habitat for Humanity funds to rebuild their luxury beach house after Hurricane Sandy.
Chicago-Mayor: Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) has had a good working relationship with Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D), and Rauner is going to bat for Rahm. Rauner has apparently called third-place finisher Willie Wilson (D) twice and asked him to endorse Emanuel. Wilson previously said that he would be supporting Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia (D) in the runoff, but has since backtracked from that statement.
More Chicago-Mayor: We also have dueling banjos polls here. An indpendent poll from Ogden and Fry, who nailed the first round, puts Rahm up just 43-39 on Garcia, while a Rahm internal shows him up 50-40.
San Diego-Mayor: A SUSA poll shows Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R) ridiculously popular. Faulconer, who is up for re-election in 2016, sports a 61-17 approval rating... with adults. No potential challengers have yet indicated that they are exploring this race, and numbers like these may just keep all credible opponents away.
Jeb Bush: The junior Bush has taken a number of steps towards what looks like backing Gay Marriage, and would become the first major Republican presidential candidate to do so. On one hand I bet that the people currently supporting Jeb in the primary support SSM by a large margin, but on the other hand Bush has serious problems with the conservative base already. It’d be interesting to see what percentage of primary voters would even consider voting for him, as current polls of his approval rating have him at underwater or close to it with Republicans.
CA-44: LA City Councilman Joe Buscaino (D) has decided not to run for this open congressional seat covering South-Central Los Angeles County. This makes the election of State Senator Isadore Hall more or less a formality, and Black Democrats will reclaim the third Los Angeles Congressional seat they lost in 2012.
MO-Sen-16: Todd Akin thankfully isn’t going to try to primary Senator Roy Blunt this year. The toxic Republican candidate whose remarks on rape probably cost us 2 Senate seats in 2012 wouldn’t have gained traction anyway, but this at least saves us another distracting sideshow for a seat we’d prefer to put away early.
NY-11: State Island Democrats have officially nominated Brooklyn City Councilman Vincent Gentile for this special election. Gentile will have a ton of problems: being from Brooklyn in a Staten-Island dominated seat, being associated with the highly-unpopular (at least in this district) Mayor Bill DeBlasio and NYC Government, and running against the uber-popular Staten Island DA Daniel Donovan.
WATN: Kerry Bentivolio (R), the second most accidental congressman in recent history after Joseph Cao in 2008, has filed for bankruptcy with over $300,000 in debts. The former Reindeer farmer and beneficiary of Thad McCotter’s spectacular crash out of Congress in 2012 never really fit into the congressional life, and a lawsuit by his former chief of staff over improper firing cost him a large settlement.
LA-Gov: George H.W. Bush has endorsed David Vitter (R) for Governor of Louisiana. This is unusual, as the 41st President’s Establishment BizCon wing of the GOP is generally more aligned with Vitter’s challenger and fellow Republican Lt. Gov Jay Dardenne, but I guess Vitter is looking to shore up support with them ahead of Louisiana’s Jungle Primary later this year.
MS Lt. Gov: Chris McDaniel (R), aka the guy who barely lost the 2014 R Senate primary against Thad Cochran, is running for re-election. We’d probably be better off if he retired, as his primary loss resulted in months worth of conspiracy theorizing over ineligible voters from the already-controversial candidate, but this is better than his rumored primary against current Lt. Gov Tate Reeves.
VA-Gov/St Sen: Republican State Senator Jeff McWaters of Virginia Beach has announced he is retiring from the State Senate this year, but hasn’t ruled out a run for a statewide office in the future. His State Senate district covers the R+6ish eastern half of Virginia Beach, but we only need to lose one to flip control of the chamber back to the Democrats, so every open seat counts.
Tom Schweich, Missouri's State Auditor and the front-runner for the 2016 GOP gubernatorial nomination, has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The full circumstances surrounding his death remain unclear. Schwiech was just re-elected with no Democratic opposition last year, and had previously served as a high-ranking State Department official in Afghanistan under Bush 43.
Gov. Jay Nixon (D) will appoint a replacement to serve out his term. The news also deeply scrambles the gubernatorial race, where Schweich had been favored over ex-State House Speaker Catherine Hanaway (R) for the GOP nomination, with some lesser names considering the race. We may now see other Republicans, such as LG Peter Kinder or Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, reconsider their decisions to stay out of the race.
Veepstakes-Kaine: Here's a good piece on why Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine's decision to become the first non-moonbat D to skip Bibi's speech could make him a more attractive #2 for Hillary.
MO-Sen: Ex-Rep., 2012 nominee, and 2012 RRH Turkey of the Year Todd Akin (R) is considering a primary challenge to Sen. Roy Blunt (R). As Akin is pretty much persona non grata with the bulk of Republicans and Blunt has paid close attention to connecting with Tea Party groups, this challenge probably won't go too far.
OH-Sen: As expected, ex-Gov. Ted Strickland (D) kicked off his campaign for the seat of Sen. Rob Portman (R) yesterday. Strickland is favored in the primary over Cincinnati councilman PG Sittenfeld (D).
FL-26: Ex-Rep. Joe Garcia (D) won't run for this seat a fifth time after losing to now-Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R). Garcia has taken a job with an investment bank and says he is not running for anything this cycle.
KY-Gov: Ag Commissioner James Comer (R) has his first TV ad out, and leaves no doubt that he is making targeting rural and blue-collar voters a centerpiece of his campaign.
FL-Gov '18: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn (D) still has to win re-election next week over token opposition, but that's not stopping him from looking forward to a 2018 run for Governor.
State & Local:
Chicago-Mayor: Here's a cool interactive map of the Mayoral election results. Basically Rahm is headed to a runoff because he didn't do as well as expected among black voters and moderates on the far north and northwest sides.
Colorado Springs-Mayor: A new poll of the open mayoral race in Colorado Springs shows ex-AG John Suthers (R) in front with 30%. Ex-Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace (D) is second with 22%, and two other Republicans are in single-digits. The first round of this Louisiana-Rules Top Two race is on April 7.
VA-LD-86: State Rep. Tom Rust (R-Herndon) is retiring. This is a near-certain D pickup, as at D+9 it's the bluest seat held by an R. Rust, a popular, mooderate longtime incumbent, held on by just 50 votes in 2013.
CA-Sen: Former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has announced he will not run for Senate. His statement said he was still thinking "about how best to serve the people of this great state”, and went on to talk about important issues he thinks are facing the state, leading observers to think he is still considering a bid for governor in 2018. With Villaraigosa out of the race, Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) becomes a strong favorite for the seat.
CA-Sen: Former Rep. David Dreier (R) is being encouraged by others to run. A spokesman confirmed that “a wide variety of people (are) urging him to look seriously at a Senate run", but did not respond to a follow-up question about Dreier's level of interest in the race. Dreier is the best-known Republican to openly consider the race, but would still face a difficult road to win.
OH-Sen: Former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) is expected to announce officially today that he is running for Senate. Strickland's run has been rumored for several weeks and he should be the favorite for the Democratic nomination over Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, the only other announced candidate so far.
SD-Sen/SD-AL: Brendan Johnson, who recently resigned as US Attorney, is being mentioned as a possible candidate in 2016 either against Sen. John Thune (R) or Rep. Kristi Noem (R). Johnson, who is the son of former Sen. Tim Johnson (D) is joining a private law firm in Sioux Falls, and has not given any indication as of yet that he plans on running for office anytime soon. A race against either Thune or Noem would be very difficult for Johnson, who has never run for political office before. There is some speculation he could wait until 2018 and run for governor when he won't have to face an incumbent as Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) will be term-limited.
WI-Sen: Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) is sounding more and more like he is planning for a rematch with Sen. Ron Johnson (R), who defeated him in 2010. Feingold, in his last speech as an envoy to Africa for the State Department talked about his "once, current and I hope future Chief of Staff".
MS-1: A date has been set for the special election to replace the late Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R). The all-party primary will be held May 12, with a runoff if necessary to be held June 2. Candidates have until March 27 to file for the seat. Also, we have the first officially announced candidate for the race-state Rep. Chris Brown (R) of Aberdeen.
DE-Gov: State Sen. Greg Lavelle (R), has announced he will not run for governor. State Sen. Colin Bonini (R) has already announced a bid, and is so far the only Republican candidate for the open office.
LA-Gov: The head of the DGA recently touted New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) as a "strong candidate" for this race and said he is "carefully considering" to run. But experts say he still would face a lot of challenges, foremost the fact he is a Democrat in a Republican state, and he would also be well behind the other candidates in fundraising. Although he would be the strongest candidate the party could get, experts say he likely wouldn't be able to get more than 45% in a runoff.
ND-Gov: Speculation continues to swirl around Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) making a bid for governor. One columnist though is casting doubt on her making the race-pointing out that she would have to deal with an overwhelmingly Republican Legislature and that she will receive pressure from Senate Democrats to stay in the Senate, as they would find it difficult to hold her seat in a special election(assuming the Legislature goes through with its plan to require one) or in 2018 even if she could appoint a placeholder who would run then. Add to that she would not be a sure thing in a gubernatorial election and this columnist says the odds are against her making the race.
VA-Gov 2017: LG Ralph Northam (D) is already announcing he plans on running for Governor in 2017. This will likely set up a battle with AG Mark Herring (D) for the Democratic nomination. Such a battle has been expected ever since both were elected to their current positions in 2013, but the early announcement by the usually low-key Northam is intended to get out ahead of the more high-profile Herring and start raising money for what could be a bruising and expensive battle, one that some Democrats have expressed hope that they can avoid.
NE-Electoral vote splitting: The Nebraska Legislature is debating a bill to return the state to a winner take all formula for electoral votes. A proposal by Sen. Ernie Chambers though would take the state in the other direction. He proposes that instead of awarding 2 electoral votes to the winner of the statewide vote that the state should award all of the state's electoral votes on a district basis-dividing the state into 5 districts solely for the purpose of awarding electoral votes. The proposal, filed as an amendment to the original bill to return the state to winner take all, has not yet been voted on and is unlikely to become law as it is likely intended more as a poison pill amendment to the original bill.
The race for Chicago Mayor will go to a runoff, as Mayor Rahm Emanuel took 45%, well short of the 50% needed to avoid a runoff. He will face Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, who took 34%. In CT-SD-23, former state Sen. Edwin Gomes (WFP) won fairly easily with 1,309 votes to 767 for Richard DeJesus (D). Gomes is the first person elected to a state Legislature solely on the Working Families Party line. In CT-LD-107, Stephen Harding (R) defeated Howard Lasser (D) by more than 200 votes. In CT-LD-129, Steve Stafstrom (D) edged out Enrique Torres (R) 776 votes to 720.