Happy 6 days until Christmas! We'll be moving to a 2 day a week (Tuesday and Friday mornings) roundup schedule for the holidays due to the expected slow political news, with the regular roundups starting again January 5th. We'll also have some open threads for you guys over the next two weeks,
KY-Sen/Pres 2016: Alison Lundergan Grimes has made the claim that Rand Paul can’t run for both president and re-election at the same time. The defeated 2014 D nominee’s opinion actually matters since she’s Kentucky’s Secretary of State (and therefore in charge of Kentucky’s elections assuming she runs for and wins re-election next year), but this is more likely an attempt to keep herself in the news after her big loss to Mitch McConnell this year. She is considered a potential nominee for either re-election or some other statewide KY post in 2015, and for the 2016 Senate seat.
LA-Sen-2016: John Fleming (R-LA-4) is building up support for a Senate run in 2016 should David Vitter’s (R) seat become open due to him winning the 2015 LA Governor race. Fleming is probably hoping to follow in the footsteps of a number of 2014 R nominees who easily cleared their fields by announcing early from a position of strength. He is widely considered to be Vitter’s first choice for the seat, and will probably face more difficulty from fellow Republican contenders than the Democrats in the now reliably-red Louisiana.
TX-27: The Huffington post has revealed that Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-TX-27) made some less-than-polite remarks from an anonymous internet airline account before his initial election in 2010. The posts are lewd but relatively mild and probably wouldn’t be an issue in and of themselves if not for the current sexual harassment allegations against Farenthold from a former staffer. We’ll have to keep tabs on this for now, but even if the Congressman is forced to resign this is a Safe R district.
PA-Gov: Incoming Governor Tom Wolf (D) has reiterated his support for fracking following Andrew Cuomo’s (D) ban in neighboring New York. This makes sense, as Wolf has never been a progressive darling and ran close to the middle in the primary and general, but given his lack of political experience and Pennsylvania’s machine-dominated and R-controlled legislature, he probably needs all the political allies he can get.
PA-AG: PA D Attorney General Kathleen Kane is drawing increasing amounts of fire for her refusal to prosecute a corruption case involving a number of D state legislators as it continues to develop. The Philly Inquirer has made the argumetn that her reasons are nakedly false at best, and politically motivated at worst, and points out other examples of bad behavior by the sitting AG. At this point, Kane is looking less like the Democrat’s top statewide prospect and more like the most vulnerable 2016 candidate in the state.
Torture: Following the release of the CIA torture report, a Washington Post/ABC poll shows that Americans generally consider the government’s use of torture justified by a 2:1 margin. This cuts across most subgroups too, with even Democrats believing it was justified by a narrow margin. This is probably due to the relevant techniques being considerably less brutal than what most Americans consider to be torture, as waterboarding doesn’t generate the sort of gut feeling of uneasiness that something like scalding, cutting or beating does.
Congress AZ-2: Martha McSally (R) becomes the last member of Congress to officially win their race. Due to its tight margin, this race has been in recount limbo for weeks. After the initial recount showed little deviation from the election day results, McSally has been declared the winner over Representative Ron Barber (D).
View of Republican Party: Republican Party favorable ratings have surged to 47% from 33% before the midterm elections. In addition, the Republican unfavorable rating has fallen below 50% as well to 47%. This marks the first time in 6 years that Republicans have a favorable rating equal to or greater than its unfavorable rating. President Obama's approval rating has hit 41% with a disapproval of 54%.
FL-Sen/POTUS: Has President Obama's sort of normalization of relations with Cuba become a gift for Senator and potential presidential candidate Marco Rubio (R)? I think the numbers are muddied on whether Cuban-Americans support the move, but it surely will give Rubio attention as he will be chairing the subcommittee that would review the nomination of a new ambassador to Cuba.
States/Other PA-AG/PA-1: Embattled Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D) has been accused of being asleep at the wheel by Philadelphia Democratic Party Chairman/Congressman/RRH Favorite Bob Brady. Obviously this is not good for Kane, but readers should remember that Brady did not support her in the 2012 primary.
Vermont: Governor Peter Shumlin (D), who has not been reelected yet, has killed Vermont's experiment with single-payer healthcare due to costs getting out of control. One has to wonder if the inability of the Vermont Democrats to introduce such a plan in a state with its demographic stability will lead national progressives to give up on their dream.
Georgia: Peach Pundit has a great breakdown of the demographics of those who voted in Georgia this year.
Democratic Civil War: The Democrats are now feeling the heat for being too socially focused. I really don't think they can back off though. Unlike the Republicans whose cash is not as tied to its social issue stances, the Democrats are more heavily reliant on social issue driven voters for large amounts of cash.
Bush: Jeb Bush confirms speculation on his potential run, saying he is "actively exploring" a run and plans to start a leadership PAC in January. He would likely be a formidable candidate for the nomination and start as the establishment favorite able to draw on his brother and father's fundraising network, but his positions on immigration and Common Core are sure to draw fire from the right, plus it's unclear how much of a "Bush fatigue" factor might exist among voters.
Rubio: Sen. Marco Rubio (R) says fellow Floridian and political mentor Jeb Bush's decision to "actively explore" running for president will not affect his own plans. Rubio, through spokesman Alex Conant says Bush would be a "formidable candidate", but says he will make a decision on whether to run for president or run for re-election based on where he thinks "he can best achieve his agenda...not on who else is running."
Ames Republican Straw Poll: The event generally considered to be the start of the presidential campaign season is in limbo as Iowa Republican Party officials are discussing whether to modify it or possibly scrap it altogether. The event has been criticized as favoring hard-line conservatives and its effectiveness as a real read on the state of the race in the Iowa cacuses took a hit last time with Rep. Michele Bachmann winning the straw poll and then proceeding to fade as a legitimate contender. Gov. Terry Branstad (R) is among those wanting to make major changes to it-possibly retaining the event, but without the official straw poll.
NH-Sen: The name of Sen. Kelly Ayotte(R) is sometimes floated as a possible VP nominee for whomever gets the Republican presidential nomination. And unlike Sens. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, there would be nothing barring her from running for re-election to the Senate and be on a national ticket at the same time. But since her re-election bid is expected to be at least somewhat competitive, it may keep her off a ticket as Republicans may not want to risk her seat. The precedent of running for both offices is definitely there as Sens. Lloyd Bentsen (D) in 1988, Joe Lieberman (D) in 2000 and Joe Biden (D) in 2008 all ran for re-election to the Senate as well as running for VP, and Rep. Paul Ryan (R) ran for re-election to the House and VP in 2012, but all were in races in which they were heavy favorites.
UT-Sen: A poll taken for the Club for Growth shows that Sen. Mike Lee (R) should not be vulnerable to a primary challenge. The poll shows Lee with a 76% approval rating among likely Republican primary voters in the state.
MI-Gov: An interesting tidbit of information came out in an interview with ex-Rep. Mark Schauer (D) about his failed gubernatorial run this year. Schauer reveals that in the early evening on election night, he was told that exit polls were favoring him by 2 to 3 points and he thought for a few hours that he was going to win and described the scene as surreal among his inner circle when his hopes were dashed and the race was called for Gov. Rick Snyder (R). Schauer also left the door open slightly on a future run although he said "it's probably not in the cards."
LA-AG: State Treasurer John Kennedy (R) is considering a run for Attorney General, polling the race to judge how he might fare and the vulnerability of current AG Buddy Caldwell (R), who has not raised a huge amount of money thus far. Former Rep. Jeff Landry (R) is already running, setting up a potentially big battle for the office. No Democrat has thus far announced a bid and no formidable name has been mentioned in connection with the race.
Colorado Springs: Mayor Steve Bach is not running for re-election, a boost to the candidacy of outgoing AG John Suthers (R). A local political analyst predicts a runoff between Suthers and former Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace.
Indianapolis: State Sen. Jim Merritt (R) will not run for mayor, becoming the latest Republican to forego a bid. Former US Attorney and Secretary of State Joe Hogsett is running for the Democrats and is currently the only announced candidate.
Philadelphia: Nelson Diaz, who served on the Court of Common Pleas from 1981 to 1993, and served as City Solicitor from 2001 to 2004 under former Mayor John Street is running for mayor. Diaz joins state Sen. Anthony Williams, former DA Lynne Abraham, former City Solicitor Ken Trujillo and former Director of Federal Affairs Terry Gillen in the race.
Austin runoff results: Steve Adler won easily last night over Mike Martinez, winning with 70% of the vote.
Our 10 day break from elections is over tonight, with a race for Mayor of Austin to be settled. From Shamlet:
Preview: Austin Mayor
Today we have a runoff election for Mayor of Austin. America's 11th-most populous city is a speck of deep blue in red Texas, and both of the contenders are relatively standard liberals. However, there are some faultlines. The front runner is attorney Steve Adler (D), who took 37% in the first round and has the endorsement of relatively moderate (at least by Austin standards) outgoing mayor Lee Leffingwell (D). Adler's signature issue is a homestead tax credit to reduce property taxes. Adler's opponent is city councilman Mike Martinez (D), who took 30% in the first round and has the support of various minority communities and much of the University community that forms a substantial part of Austin's population. Martinez is running to Adler's left, emphasizing renters' rights and public transportation. With Adler's base likely to be much higher-turnout, he looks like a pretty strong favorite today, but if committed liberals turn out for Martinez he could pull the upset.
Bush: Jeb Bush continued stoking speculation about a 2016 run yesterday, delivery the commencement address at the University of South Carolina. He also met with Gov. Nikki Haley and many former Bush backers in SC began to discuss the important of South Carolina to a Jeb Bush campaign.
Cruz: Ted Cruz's 2016 strategy apparently banks on votes from Jews, Hispanics, and Millennials, you know, all constituencies with a great fondness for an obstructionist, Social Conservative, immigration hardliner from Texas.
Polling: A new McClatchy Marist poll shows several establishment figures leading the Republican field, with Romney at 19, Bush 14, Christie and Huckabee 9, Carson 8, Ryan 7, and tea party favorites Rand Paul and Ted Cruz way back a 6 and 5 respectively. Cruz is so far back he ties with his home state competitor, Rick Perry.
On the Democratic side, Clinton obviously leads big with 62%, Biden 11%, Warren 9%. Clinton also holds leads between 12-14 over the Republican field.
Wisconsin: Rep. Gwen Moore refused to say if she would consider a 2016 Senate bid, only saying she expects former Sen. Russ Feingold to enter and clear the field.
Illinois: In the Democrats' second best opportunity after Wisconsin, Rep. Bill Foster says he will consider a run, but he isn't focusing on it yet. Foster would bring to the race self funding ability and an existing $1.1 million warchest.
California: Rep. Loretta Sanchez is throwing her name into the chorus of voices looking at a run for this seat, should Senator Barbara Boxer retire. She could have a path as a southern CA, Hispanic candidate, especially if Newsom and Harris both run and split the north CA vote.
PA-08: Outgoing Lt. Gov Jim Cawley (R) is refusing to rule out a run for the seat of retiring Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick. Cawley, like Fitzpatrick, is a former member of the Bucks County Commission, and would seem to be a very good candidate for the seat.
WATN: Outgoing Democratic Lt. Gov Yvonne Prettner Solon is considering a run for Mayor of Duluth. Prettner Solon retired after feeling isolated in Gov. Mark Dayton's admin.
IL Comptroller: Following the death of Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka (R), AG Lisa Madigan has released an opinion saying that Gov. Pat Quinn can appoint a replacement for the rest of the current term and that the office will again be vacant upon the beginning of the new term Baar Topinka was elected to last month, allowing Gov-Elect Bruce Rauner to appoint a replacement for the full 4 year term. Madigan however urged Rauner and the legislature to pass a bill allowing for a 2016 special. Rauner has said he would like to appoint Barr Topinka's chief of staff, Nancy Kimmee, to the office.
I hope everyone enjoyed the weekend. Here is some news to start your week.
Bush 2016: Jeb Bush has hired oppo researchers to dig dirt on ... himself. He also plans to release what he estimates are 250,000 emails from his official days as Florida Governor. Just, you know, run of the mill stuff for someone whose mind couldn't be further from running for the presidency.
Warren: Warren can't help but build momentum even she's not really trying to. Or is she?
Kasich: Kasich is testing the waters informally, going to western states and developing ties with political operatives and donors. It looks like he met Sarah Nelson, who ran the Romney operation in several western states. And Greg Wendt, who was a big donor to Restore Our Future--the Romney 2012 PAC--but also a major Pawlenty supporter before that. Would Kasich really skip Iowa and New Hampshire though?
Obama-Appointments: A political misstep by Ted Cruz and Mike Lee appears to have given at least an opening to Harry Reid to confirm more Obama nominees to a variety of non-judicial appointments, including an ICE official.
LA-Gov: It doesn't look like Landrieu will be back to run for office in Lousiana any time soon. She's also quickly walked back some of her statements that involved Senator Cantwell.
AZ-Sen: Senator McCain's condemnation of the CIA's enhanced interrogation tactics earned him some love from the Daily Show last week. It's been a while since McCain called the press his base, but obviously this is one area where McCain is something of a maverick within the GOP.
More AZ-Sen: Outgoing Governor Jan Brewer has over 300k left in a SuperPAC. It's anyone's guess what she'll do with it, but if she wanted to run for Senate that money could come in handy.
CO-Sen: Senator Bennet cried during his own farewell speech to his colleague Mark Udall. Watch the video. It's pretty weak stuff to get teary over. Really Senator? You can't hold it together for short floor speech?
CT-Sen: Senator Blumenthal is losing some substantial clout because the Dems will be in the minority next term. Worse, the clout involves issues important to Connecticut.
MN-06: Bachmann used her last forseeable opportunity to talk to Obama to encourage him to bomb Iran. Give her credit for being persistent at least.
AZ-02: Yes, somehow this race is still not quite over. We will have a limited hand recount today, and then hopefully get a final tally certified on Tuesday. The machine recount last week didn't change a thing, and GOP candidate Martha McSally continues to narrowly lead Democratic incumbent Ron Barber by 161 votes.
NH-01: Carol Shea Porter isn't ruling out yet another rematch against Frank Guinta, and in fact is talking like she might pull the trigger at any moment.
IN-03: In a weird statement, Congressman Marlin Stutzman claims he only voted for the Crombibus bill in the House because the leadership told him they were going to pull the bill anyway. Hmm. I guess I don't follow. You voted for something you opposed as a favor to someone for something you thought would never matter? Strange.
FL-18: The politics of the Cromnibus bill in the House are somewhat odd, with Democrats split between leadership and President Obama. This meant that Debbie Wasserman Schultz voted for the bill while Nancy Pelosi was whipping votes against it. Patrick Murphy voted for it, though that seems to open up space to both his left and his right. It'll be interesting to see if anyone can make a race out of this seat this cycle.
WATN: Former GOP Indiana SOS Charlie White is appealing his voter fraud conviction.
2015: A strong plurality of you think that 2015 will have a slight GOP lean, though a significant minority (over 30%) think the GOP wave that swept the party into power in 2014 will continue in 2015.
Perry: Rick Perry is not making me feel better about his electability as a candidate. He answered a question about his intelligence by refuting the premise of the question (good), but he gave hostile media a great clip when he claimed that running for president “Isn’t an IQ test”. Considering his 2012 campaign was plagued by missteps and gaffes, he isn’t doing a good job of shaking the label of being the “dumb” candidate.
Romney: Is Mitt Romney actually considering a comeback run for President? Losing Presidential candidates usually get some speculation about a subsequent bid, but Romney has gotten a lot more than most have and people are beginning to wonder if he is seriously considering jumping into the 2016 field.
AZ-2: In the last uncalled house race, it looks like Republican Martha McSally has kept her lead after the machine recount of last month’s razor-thin election. Now comes the hand count, but it’s looking very likely that she’ll be seated in January.
NH-1: Carol Shea-Porter (D), who is now 3-2 in bids for this seat over the last decade, has not ruled out a 6th attempt. You would think NH-1 Democrats would find someone slightly fresher to run.
PA-Sen-2016: Democrats aren’t exactly lining up to run against Republican Pat Toomey. Aside from the losing 2010 candidate Joe Sestak (who isn’t particularly well liked by people in the PA Democratic party), most of the potential high-profile candidates are passing on the race. That is a big change from this year, where everyone and their mother ran for the right to beat Tom Corbett, and it does say a lot about Toomey’s perceived electoral strength that Democrats aren’t eager to run against him even in a presidential year.
AR-Gov/Sen: Just in case it wasn’t clear from outgoing Governor Mike Beebe’s (D) pardoning of his son earlier, he has no plans for future runs for office. This denies Democrats one of their few remaining viable statewide candidates, as they are facing down a GOP trifecta & 100% R Congressional delegation after a string of defeats in 2010, 2012, and 2014.
IL-Comptroller: Incoming Governor Bruce Rauner (R) has made it known that he wants Judy Baar Topinka’s (R) chief of staff Nancy Kimme to take her spot as Illinois’s Comptroller until a new election can be called. Topinka’s sudden death earlier this week has caused a legal argument over who gets to appoint a replacement for the office she was re-elected to this year.
LA-Gov: Here’s an unexpected development—Burt Cain, the longtime warden of Louisiana State Penitentiary, the nation’s largest prison complex, is making noise about running for Governor next year as a Republican. Cain is a complete wildcard here, but given the reports that he was talked into running by someone on social media, he might be just blowing smoke.
LA-Lt-Gov: East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden has announced he is running for the open Lt. Gov spot next year. Holden, who is Black, is the only announced Democrat in the race, though he is apparently trying to run as a salesman and promoter of the state, touting his record from his 10-year stint as Baton Rouge’s “mayor”.
MT-AG/Gov: Republican Attorney General Tim Fox has filed for re-election. Fox is considered the top Republican candidate for Governor in 2016 against Democrat Steve Bullock, but this filing does not actually prevent him from running for that office. It does allow him to start raising money that can be used for either office however.
Nevada Assembly: The Republican Nevada Assembly Caucus remains in turmoil after its unexpected 2014 victory. There seems to be open conflict between the various factions of the party, including a recent spat where the expected incoming chairwoman of the Taxation committee was removed from the committee, along with her vice chair. There is also speculation that a scheduled meeting between a number of moderate Republicans and the Assembly Democrats could lead to some kind of deal over control of the chamber.
Philly-Mayor: Frank Rizzo Jr. has announced that he doesn’t plan to run for Mayor of Philadelphia. This is surprising, as most people saw his D-to-R party switch last year as setting himself up for a run in the overwhelmingly D city. He instead plans on running for a seat on the city council, which he lost in 2011 when he was defeated in a GOP primary.
San-Diego City Council: The council’s 4 Republicans have voted with La Jolla Democrat Sherri Lightner to make her the council president in a 5-4 vote over sitting President Todd Gloria (D). This allows the generally more moderate Lightner to replace Gloria, who was pushing for more Liberal causes like raising the minimum wage and climate legislation. This move will likely give Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer more leverage in running the city.
UT-Election Law: A recent Utah bill to change the state’s convention primary system (where getting 60% of the delegates earns you the nomination without a primary) to something more closely resembling primaries in the rest of the country is facing a legal challenge from the Utah GOP. It is also speculated to be targeted at Conservative Senator Mike Lee, who would easily coast to renomination at a convention. This utterly baffles me, as Lee has a 70% approval rating with Utah Republicans, and I can’t imagine someone successfully challenging a sitting Republican senator from the left in a state like Utah, especially without an obvious candidate.
It is a snowy morning here in eastern Pennsylvania with 5 days until Hanukkah and 14 until Christmas. Now for politics...
Congress/POTUS AZ-2: As Arizona continues to count ballots in its state of insanity, Representative-Elect (pending recount) Martha McSally (R) has received her committee assignments. If for some reason Representative Rob Barber (D) retakes the lead in this race, he would have the same assignments.
Warren: Bold Progressive champion Senator Elizabeth Warren (D) is leading the opposition to the $1 billion + compromise reached between congressional leadership and the Obama administration.
Trump: Donald Trump needs more attention for his personal brand and is now fanning the flames of running for President again. Of course that means he is visiting Iowa. Why else would anyone visit Iowa in the dead of winter?
IL-Comp/RIP: Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka (R) passed away Tuesday following a stroke. Topinka, who served three terms as State Treasurer before losing the 2006 gubernatorial election to Blago, was known for her no-nonsense everywoman style. The law is extremely ambiguous over how the seat to which she was just re-elected will be filled.
Liberal version of Tea Party: Could disaffected progressives create something resembling the tea party? I am not sure they have a true catalyst to cause such an insurgency in their ranks. The tea party movement was initially a reaction to the largess of the Bush and Obama administrations. Barring Obama completely caving to Republicans, I just don't see it happening.
Working Class Whites: Why have the Democrats lost working class whites? Thomas Edsall of the New York Times look at two recent studies of working class whites to show the problems facing the Democrats are far deeper than policy issues, but a fundamental misunderstanding of cultural issues facing working class whites over the last half century.
KY-Gov: Kentucky Democrats cannot decide which statewide row officer who has lost a Senate race in the last four years to run for Governor in 2015. I want Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes so we can continue to spell her full name in roundups on a somewhat frequent basis. Attorney General Jack Conway is already in the race, but some issues including being from Louisville and refusing to defend the state's ban on gay marriage are viewed as negatives.
National: Republicans are boasting about their improved ground game this time around-erasing the advantage Democrats used to have and some expected them to have this time around that was going to carry them to victory in hotly contested races. This is the result of a concerted effort to improve things in that area after the 2012 elections in which the party was at a great disadvantage.
KS-Sen 2014: This comes as little surprise, but now we know for sure that "independent" candidate Greg Orman was a tool of Democrats in the race against Sen. Pat Roberts (R). Sen. Harry Reid's Senate Majority PAC funneled over $1.3 million to Orman's campaign after Oct. 15, which meant that it wasn't disclosed in campaign finance reports until after the election-a period when Orman continued to proclaim his independence and denied that he was being supported by Reid.
LA-Sen: Stu Rothenberg says that Sen. Mary Landrieu's loss is more evidence of how our elections have become more like parliamentary elections, where people vote for parties with starkly different idelogicial agendas rather than ticket-splitting and voting for candidates regardless of their party affiliation. Landrieu used to have her own brand apart from her party which carried her to victory in previous elections, but that mattered little this time around, and the trend seems likely to continue as the parties become more polarized.
KS-1: Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R), who won a closer-than-expected primary race by 10 points this year may have stronger primary competition in 2016. Among the candidates considering a primary challenge to Huelskamp in 2016 is state Sen. Garrett Love, who took over Huelskamp's state Senate seat after he was elected to Congress in 2010. The 26 year old Love is considered a rising star in the party as he defeated former House Speaker and 12-term incumbent Marvin Neufeld in the Republican primary for a state House seat in 2010 and then was chosen over Neufeld and another candidate by precinct committeman to replace Huelskamp in the state Senate.
State & Local:
LA-Gov: Sen. David Vitter (R) emerges as a big winner of Sen-elect Bill Cassidy(R)'s win. Vitter worked to essentially clear the field of legitimate contenders to Cassidy on the Republican side and one of his top aides served as camapign manager to Cassidy. All of this should help Vitter in his gubernatorial bid next year, which could end in an all-Republican runoff as all of the strong contenders so far are on the Republican side. Only one Democrat, state Rep. John Bel Edwards has announced a bid.
More LA-Gov: Democrats' abandonment of Sen. Mary Landrieu may pose some long-term consequences for the party going forward as it will be hard to convince promising candidates to run difficult races in the state in the future. No strong contenders have emerged for the governor's race, and it may be difficult to convince anybody to do so if they feel they will be abandoned by the national party like Landrieu was.
Philadelphia Mayor: State Rep. Dwight Evans (D) has announced he will not run for mayor. Evans lost bids for mayor in 1999 and 2007 and was considering making a 3rd campaign for the job.
San Francisco Mayor: Incumbent Mayor Ed Lee may run unopposed for re-election next year as all the most likely candidates have said no to bids, the most recent being state Sen. Mark Leno. Lee was appointed inetrim mayor in January 2011 after ex-Mayor Gavin Newsom became Lieutenant Governor and then won the job in November for a regular 4-year term.
Special Election results:
As expected, both favored candidates won in their respective races- Isadore Hall (D) in CA-SD-35 and Todd Pillion (R) in VA-LD-4.