Archive: April 18, 2014

Quote of the Day

"I wish we had an alternative. You know what's unfortunate? It's for the next six months, we're going to go into an election knowing that we're not going to do anything to address health care because we've gone so far for the last three years saying 'no,' that we don't have an alternative to say 'yes' to. And I think that the American public, when they go to vote, they're going to look at credibility before they look at substance."

-- Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL), quoted by Think Progress, on Republicans running against Obamacare in the midterm elections.

Roberts Would Crush Sebelius

A new Rasmussen poll in Kansas shows Sen. Pat Roberts (R) solidly ahead of potential challenger Kathleen Sebelius (D) in a U.S. Senate match up, 54% to 37%.

Abbott Way Ahead in Texas

Despite other polls showing a closer race, a new Texas Tech poll finds Greg Abbott (R) way ahead of Wendy Davis (D) in the race for governor, 54% to 25%.

Crist Loses Another Campaign Spokesman

Charlie Crist's (D) new campaign spokesman quit after less than a week on the job "to pursure other opportunities," the Miami Herald reports.

"This is a potential leading indicator of why some establishment Democrats, namely those who wanted Sen. Bill Nelson to run, were so nervous about Crist. Like a gifted athlete, Crist relies on his own talents. But he resists coaching. He doesn't always take good advice. He acts spur of the moment. His campaign is more of a cult of personality compared to Scott's campaign, which is more like a disciplined business start up."

House Democrats Put Up the Defenses

"House Democrats, battered by Koch brothers ads and facing a grim outlook for the midterms, are providing the clearest indication yet of how they plan to respond: By shoring up imperiled incumbents and only the most promising challengers, but most likely leaving some of the party's upstart hopefuls to fend for themselves," Politico reports.

"The aim of the strategy, detailed in nearly two dozen interviews with party officials and strategists, is a tacit acknowledgement of the ominous political environment Democrats are up against this year. The goal is to stop Republicans from padding their 17-seat edge and keep the party within striking distance of the majority in 2016, a presidential election year that could well be more favorable to Democrats."

Monkey Cage: How big could the GOP majority get?

Mitt Romney Returns to the Spotlight

Washington Post: "After retreating from public view following his crushing loss to President Obama in the 2012 election, Romney has returned to the political stage, emerging as one of the Republican Party's most coveted stars, especially on the fundraising circuit, in the run-up to November's midterm elections."

"He may not direct a high-powered political-action committee or hold a formal position, but with the two living former Republican presidents -- George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush -- shying away from campaign politics, Romney, 67, has begun to embrace the role of party elder, believing he can shape the national debate and help guide his fractured party to a governing majority."

Super PACs Try Positive Ads

"Outside political groups, long known for their negative advertisements featuring ominous music and foreboding narration, are trying something new this campaign season: a pivot to the positive," the New York Times reports.

"Some of the best-known 'super PACs' and outside groups... are making an effort to also cast their candidates in an appealing way instead of solely attacking opponents."

"The shift is the product of several factors -- the renewed hope that positive commercials can break through the advertising clutter; lessons of the 2012 presidential race, when Mitt Romney and outside Republican groups largely failed to offer an alternate message to an onslaught of negative spots; and the increasing prevalence of stock footage made public by campaigns that makes producing positive ads easier."

As Many As 14 Competitive Senate Races

Wall Street Journal: "Control of the Senate hangs in the balance with the November elections less than seven months away. Pollsters believe as many as 14 seats could be competitive, and Republicans need a net pickup of six seats to take control of the upper chamber. But each state has its own dynamics, tensions, and - ultimately - economies."

Sean Trende: "I'm not 100 percent confident that Republicans will gain seats. In fact, when I analyzed the Senate races in February, my simulation created a few scenarios where Republicans did, in fact, lose seats."

New Polls Show Many Close Senate Races

Here are some new polls from Harper Polling (R) on key U.S. Senate races:

Arkansas: Sen. Mark Pryor (D) 39%, Tom Cotton (R) 39%

Colorado: Sen. Mark Udall (D) 45%, Cory Gardner (R) 43%

Louisiana: Bill Cassidy (R) 47%, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) 43%

Michigan: Terri Lynn Land (R) 43%, Gary Peters (D) 40%

Montana: Steve Daines (R) 42%, Sen. John Walsh (D) 35%

Archive: April 17, 2014

Ohio Governor Up for Grabs

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Ohio finds Gov. John Kasich (R) in a dead heat with challenger Ed Fitzgerald (D), 44% to 44%.

Paul Won't Talk About McConnell Endorsement

The Glasgow Daily Times reports that a constituent asked Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) why he came out in support of the re-election of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

"Paul declined to answer the question publicly, saying he would speak with her in private and explain his reason for supporting the senior senator."

Haley Up By Double-Digits

A new Rasmussen poll in South Carolina finds Gov. Nikki Haley (R) way ahead of Vincent Sheheen (D) in her re-election race, 52% to 37%.

Could Sebelius Win a Political Trifecta?

A Smart Politics analysis finds that if Kathleen Sebelius (D) ran for and won Kansas' U.S. Senate seat in 2014, she would become the first woman ever to serve as governor, cabinet head, and U.S. Senator and just the ninth person to serve in all three offices during the last 100+ years.

Republicans Stay the Course on Bashing Obamacare

Wall Street Journal: "Republican leaders are telling the party's House members that persistent criticism of the federal health-care law is the best path to victory this fall regardless of how the law's implementation evolves ahead of the November elections."

Wonk Wire: Where's the Obamacare death spiral?

Coakley Leads Democratic Pack in Massachusetts

A new University of Massachusetts at Amherst poll in Massachusetts finds Martha Coakley (D) leading the Democratic race for governor with 39%, followed by Steve Grossman at 9%, Don Berwick at 3% and Juliette Kayyern at 3%.

LePage Leads in Three-Way Race

A new Pan Atlantic SMS poll in Maine shows Gov. Paul LePage (R) leading his re-election race with 39%, followed by Michael Michaud (D) at 37% and Eliot Cutler (I) at 20%.

Crist Running Ahead in Florida

A new Survey USA poll in Florida finds Charlie Crist (D) leading Gov. Rick Scott (R) in the race for governor, 46% to 41%.

Turnover Not High This Cycle

Geoffrey Skelley: "So far, 50 members of the 113th Congress have either left office or signaled their intentions to leave at the end of this cycle... Despite all that, the degree of turnover in the House this cycle is not unusually high. Over the last 40 years, an average of 70.4 members has exited the House for one reason or another each two-year cycle. That's about one-sixth of the total House membership every cycle. At 50 exits so far, this Congress still has a ways to go in order to produce even an average level of turnover."

Beauprez Barely Makes Ballot for Colorado Governor

Former Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-CO) "has made the GOP ballot for governor, but thousands of signatures he turned in were declared invalid by the secretary of state's office," the Denver Post reports.

"Considering the amount of money Beauprez spent collecting the signatures, failure to make the ballot likely would have resulted in plenty of embarrassment and a court challenge."

Archive: April 16, 2014

Could Sebelius Win in Kansas?

Harry Enten is doubtul that Kathleen Sebelius (D) could win the Senate race in Kansas she's reportedly weighing.

"The last time a Democrat was elected to the Senate from Kansas was 1932. That's not only the longest drought for the party, it's by far the longest winless streak. (The next longest drought for Democrats is in Wyoming, where they haven't won a Senate seat since 1970.) Democrats have lost 29 consecutive Senate races in Kansas, and they just don't win federal statewide races. Since 1940, Lyndon Johnson, in 1964, was the only Democratic presidential nominee to win in the Sunflower State."

Graham's Approval Rate Still Negative

A new Winthrop poll in South Carolina finds Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-SC) still upside down, 40% to 44%, despite months of television ads from his re-election campaign.

Law Firm Leading Internal Christie Probe Donated $10K

"Nine days before a team of its top lawyers made public a report clearing Governor Christie in the George Washington Bridge scandal, the law firm donated $10,000 to the Republican Governors Association, a group he heads," the Bergen Record reports.

Outside Spending on Record Pace

Morning Line: "Federal campaign finance reports were (in theory) due at midnight for the first quarter of 2014, and we're going to be looking at a few different angles on money in this election. First, what's available comprehensively is outside spending (because it's updated more regularly). So far, outside groups have spent $56 million, outpacing every other midterm election to this point and more than doubling 2010 spending (which was $23 million at this point), the previous record year for midterms, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In fact, outside spending has already outpaced every PRESIDENTIAL election except 2012."

Sebelius Weighs Senate Bid

Kathleen Sebelius (D) is considering running against Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), who called on her to resign after the bungled launch of Obamacare last fall, the New York Times reports.

"Several Democrats said this week that Ms. Sebelius had been mentioned with growing frequency as someone who could wage a serious challenge to Mr. Roberts, 77, who is running for a fourth term and is considered vulnerable. One person who spoke directly to Ms. Sebelius said that she was thinking about it, but added that it was too soon to say how seriously she was taking the idea."

Democrats Hold Edge in Generic Ballot

A new McClatchy-Marist poll finds Democrats have staked out a lead over Republicans in the generic Congressional ballot, 48% to 42%.

However, just 45% approve of President Obama's job performance, while 52% disapprove.

Will Personhood Become Issue in Key Senate Races?

Greg Sargent: "The issue isn't being discussed at all by Washington prognosticators these days. But you can bet that some of the most hard fought Senate races this fall will feature big fights over 'Personhood' measures, which have declared that full human rights begin at the moment of fertilization."

"A number of GOP Senate candidates are on record supporting Personhood in some form. Once primary season is over, and the Senate general elections get underway in earnest, you are likely to see Democrats attack Republicans over the issue -- broadening the battle for female voters beyond issues such as pay equity to include an emotionally fraught cultural argument that Dems have used to their advantage in the past."

Outside Groups Have Raised Nearly $1 Billion

"The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is sitting on one of the largest bank accounts in politics, both among party-linked campaign committees and outside groups. Among party-backed groups that have disclosed their fundraising, the closest rival is the Democrats' Senate committee, sitting on $22 million at the end of March... House Republicans' committee ended February with almost $24.8 million banked," the Miami Herald reports.

"But party-aligned committees are just one piece of the political money puzzle that is already approaching the $1 billion mark -- completely independent of candidates whose names are on the ballots."

The Fix has the Q1 fundraising winners and losers.

Archive: April 15, 2014

Landrieu Staged Hearing for New Ad

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) released a very effective ad using footage from local and cable news broadcasts.

However, the Weekly Standard notes at least one scene -- Landrieu speaking at a committee hearing -- was re-enacted for the ad.

"The reenactment fixes a verbal flub from Landrieu's original speech. Originally, she said 'Do you think there are a bunch of fairy godmothers out there that just wish a magic wand?' The line is cleaned up for the campaign ad."

Abbott Comfortably Ahead in Texas

A new Public Policy Polling (D) survey in Texas finds Greg Abbott (R) leading Wendy Davis (D) in the race for governor by double-digits, 51% to 37%.

Key findings: "Those numbers are largely unchanged from our last poll of the state in early November when Abbott had a 50/35 advantage. Davis had a 39/29 favorability rating right after her famous filibuster last June, but since then voters in the state have mostly moved toward having negative opinions about her and now she's at a 33/47 spread."

Sink Will Not Run for Congress Again

Alex Sink (D) has decided not to run for Congress again this year, meaning there will not be a rematch of the nationally watched and extraordinarily costly campaign that Sink lost a little over a month ago to Rep. David Jolly (R), the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Bonus Quote of the Day

"If you have a Boehner lasting more than 23 years, seek immediate medical attention."

-- A new ad from J.D. Winteregg (R), who is challenging Speaker John Boehner in next month's Ohio congressional primary.

Most Republicans Undecided in Iowa

A new Loras College Poll in Iowa finds Mark Jacobs (R) edging Joni Ernst (R) in the GOP Senate primary, 19% to 18%, with the other candidates were in single digits: Sam Clovis at 7%, Matt Whitaker at 4% and Scott Schaben at 4%.

Senate Republicans Seek Truce with Tea Party

"A lot of stars seem to be aligning for Republicans in this year's midterm elections, and here's a crucial one that hasn't gotten sufficient attention: Party leaders have used quiet diplomacy to reduce the chances the GOP's tea-party wing will crown primary candidates who can be easily portrayed as odd or extremist," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"This is no small thing in the pursuit of this year's grand prize, which is winning control of the Senate."

The Week: Will the GOP sideline social conservatives too?

Archive: April 14, 2014

Ernst Misrepresents National Guard Service

Iowa U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst (R) has cited her National Guard duty to rebuff criticism for missing more than half of the votes in the Iowa Senate this year.

But a review by The Gazette shows that few -- 10%, or 12 of the 117 missed votes -- came on days when she was on active duty.

Quote of the Day

"Scott's happiest days as a young man were in New Hampshire... So it's going to be great to have a senator that was born virtually in the state of New Hampshire. Jean Shaheen, by the way, was born in Missouri!"

-- Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu (R), quoted by Yahoo News, at a rally kicking off Scott Brown's Senate candidacy.

Pryor Ahead in Arkansas

A new Anzalone Lizst Grove Research (D) poll in Arkansas finds Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) leads Rep. Tom Cotton (R) in the U.S. Senate race among likely voters, 48% to 45%, with 7% of the electorate undecided.

More evidence Pryor is ahead: The AP reports that Cotton called for a series of five debates with Pryor.

Outside Money Floods Arkansas

Reid Wilson: "Of the $2.6 million spent on TV in Arkansas so far, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) has accounted for 7% of the total ads. Rep. Tom Cotton (R) has accounted for just 5%. The remaining 88% comes from outside groups."

Tierney in Dead Heat with Tisei

A new Emerson College poll in Massachusetts shows Rep. John Tierney (D) tied with Richard Tisei (R) in a rematch of their 2012 race, 44% to 44%.

McConnell Campaign Shows Rust

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) election campaigns "have had a reputation as tightly run and controlled," the Louisville Courier-Journal reports.

"But despite promises of a 'presidential-level campaign' this year, political observers say the McConnell operation has seemed prone to hitting potholes -- including, most recently, running an ad that first mistakenly featured Duke University basketball players celebrating a championship, instead of University of Kentucky players, and then replacing it with one that ran afoul of NCAA rules."

Archive: April 13, 2014

Ervin Launches Independent Bid in South Carolina

Tom Ervin (R) said that he has withdrawn from the Republican primary for South Carolina governor and will run as a petition candidate in the November election, the State reports.

"Ervin was a Democrat before switching to the Republican Party for a unsuccessful run in the 2005 special election to succeed House Speaker David Wilkins, who had been named the U.S. ambassador to Canada. Ervin has said he became a Republican because he's pro-life and a born-again Christian."

Archive: April 11, 2014

Petri Will Not Seek Re-Election

Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI) will announce he is not seeking re-election this year, Roll Call reports.

"The district is potentially competitive. Mitt Romney carried it with 53 percent in 2012, while President Barack Obama won it narrowly with 49 percent four years earlier."

Rangel Says Qualifications Don't Matter

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), "who is fighting what appears to be the toughest re-election battle of his life," told the New York Observer that "qualifications" aren't what matter in the race.

Said Rangel: "It's clear that now the legislative body, instead of just legislation, has to work out a strategy to support the president of the United States. It's also clear that one of the people that the president lauds for doing the work, whether it's the economic recovery bill, or the affordable health bill, it's me. And so, I don't think the question in the elections is-I don't really think- is who's the best qualified. As a matter of fact that's not the issue."

He added: "I don't think I have to share with you, or anybody else, as to what the issues are. All I'm saying is that it's not qualifications."

Republicans Have a Problem in Mississippi

The Wall Street Journal reports on a 10-minute clip from a radio show in late-2006 or early 2007 featuring Mississippi U.S. Senate candidate Chris McDaniel (R) in which he riffs on reparations for slavery, immigration and what it would be like to live in Mexico.

Listen to the clip and you'll instantly know why Democrats would love for him to beat Sen. Thad Cochran (R) in the GOP primary.

Shaheen Leads Brown in Two New Polls

A new Public Policy Polling survey in New Hampshire finds Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) leading Scott Brown (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 49% to 41%.

A new WMUR poll shows Shaheen leading 45% to 39%.

We did an excellent review of this race on the Political Wire podcast.

Don't Wage 'War on Fox News' on Fox News

Pro tip: If you're running for Congress and pledging a "war on Fox News" then it's probably best not to appear on Fox News.

Mike Dickinson (D), who is running against Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), was absolutely shredded last night by Greta van Susteren.

Tillis Leads GOP Pack in North Carolina

A new American Crossroads poll in North Carolina finds Thom Tillis (R) leads the crowded Republican field for the right to face Sen. Kay Hagan (D) in November with 27%, followed by Greg Brannon (R) at 16% and Mark Harris (R) at 10%.

A handful of other candidates received only single-digit support.

Archive: April 10, 2014

Raimondo Holds Edge in Rhode Island

A new Brown University poll in Rhode Island finds Gina Raimondo (D) leading the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination with 29%, followed by Angel Taveras (D) at 26%, Clay Pell (D) at 10% and 35% still undecided.

Pryor Has a Double-Digit Lead

A new Opinion Research Associates poll in Arkansas finds Sen. Mark Pryor (D) with a ten point lead over challenger Tom Cotton (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 48% to 38%.

Walker Holds Commanding Lead in Wisconsin

A new St. Norbert College/Wisconsin Public Radio poll in Wisconsin shows Gov. Scott Walker (R) leading challenger Mary Burke (D) in the race for governor by 16 points, 56% to 40%.

Quote of the Day

"I fully expect humiliation. I fully expect embarrassment. But here I am."

-- Spiritual author Marianne Williamson, quoted by Businessweek, on her congressional bid in California.

King Hints He May Switch Sides

Sen. Angus King (I-ME), who caucuses with the Democrats, told The Hill that he will decide after the midterm elections whether to switch sides and join the Republicans.

Said King: "I'll make my decision at the time based on what I think is best for Maine."

"King's remarks are a clear indication that congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle will have to woo the 70-year-old senator in order to recruit him to their side. That lobbying battle could be especially intense if King's decision determines which party will control the chamber in the next Congress."

Republicans See Health Care Stance as Very Important

A new USA Today/Pew Research poll finds 50% of Americans continue to disapprove of President Obama's health care law, while just 37% approve.

Key findings: "Six-in-ten (60%) voters who oppose the health care law say that a candidate's stance on the health care law will be very important to their vote, compared with about half (48%) of voters who support the law."

"64% of Republican registered voters say a candidate's stance on the health care law will be very important in their voting decision, compared with 52% of Democrats and 45% of independents."

Archive: April 09, 2014

Braley Leads All Possible Opponents in Iowa

A new Suffolk University poll in Iowa finds Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) leads all five potential Republican opponents by between 6 and 13 points.

In the GOP primary, Joni Ernst (R), who has been tagged the "castration candidate" due to her TV ad, is leading Mark Jacobs (R), 25% to 23%.

Brown Headed for a Landslide Win in California

A new Field poll in California shows Gov. Jerry Brown (D) with an all-time high approval rate of 59%.

In the June jungle primary -- with candidates from all parties competing together -- Brown leads with 57%, followed by Tim Donnelly (R) at 17% and all other candidates in the low single digits.

Senate Candidate Says Women Don't Want Pay Equity

A 2010 video of Michigan U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land (R) shows her telling an audience that women aren't actually interested in fighting for equal pay, the Huffington Post reports.

Said Land: "Well, we all like to be paid more and that's great, but the reality is that women have a different lifestyle. They have kids. They have to take them to get dentist appointments, doctors appointments, all those kinds of things. And they're more interested in flexibility in a job than pay."

Archive: April 08, 2014

Pryor Holds Small Lead Over Cotton

A new Talk Business/Hendrix College poll in Arkansas shows Sen. Mark Pryor (D) just ahead of Rep. Tom Cotton (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 46% to 43%.

Cochran Still Leads Primary Challenger

A new Harper Polling (R) survey finds Sen. Thad Cochran (R) continues to lead his GOP primary challenger Chris McDaniel (R) by a solid margin, 51% to 35%.

The Most Expensive House Race in History?

Politico takes a nice look at Andrew Romanoff's (D) challenge of Rep. Mike Coffman (R) in Colorado's 6th congressional district.

"The voters may barely be focusing seven months before Election Day, but the campaigning is already intense, personal and, at times, vitriolic. Already, both sides have trackers racing around the district, trailing the candidates with cameras as they hunt for gaffes... The contest is expected to be a magnet for outside money, and officials on both sides said the overall price tag for the entire campaign could exceed an extraordinary $25 million."

Warner Holds Solid Lead in Virginia

A new Public Policy Polling (D) survey in Virginia finds Sen. Mark Warner (D) comfortably ahead of challenger Ed Gillespie (R), 49% to 35%, with another 16% not sure.

Corbett's Re-Election in Big Trouble

A new Public Policy Polling (D) survey in Pennsylvania finds Gov. Tom Corbett (R) trailing a generic Democrat by a whopping 56% to 34%.

Walker Wants to Finish College

"More than two decades after leaving Marquette University without finishing up his degree," Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) "wants to earn his diploma," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

"A spokeswoman said the governor wants to finish his college degree through the University of Wisconsin-System's innovative online course offerings. For now, however, Walker is still waiting for the right degree program to be added to the lineup of the still fledgling program."

How 2014 Isn't Like 2010

Charlie Cook: "President Obama's job-approval rating--generally bouncing around between 43 percent and 45 percent--is about where it was going into the 2010 midterms, when Democrats suffered devastating losses of 63 seats in the House and six seats in the Senate."

"But many other current circumstances aren't quite like 2010. In 2006, Democrats picked up 31 House seats, and then another 21 in 2008, setting the party up for big House losses in 2010. Since those 2010 losses, Democrats picked up only eight House seats in 2012, so in 2014 they aren't carrying a huge number of seats in difficult districts. Putting aside the fact that 96 percent of Democratic House members are in districts that Obama carried in 2012, a basic axiom in politics is that you can't lose a seat that you've already lost. Having lost so many seats in 2010, Democrats can't lose them again."

Michaud Holds Lead in Maine

A new Public Policy Polling (D) survey in Maine finds Mike Michaud (D) leading Gov. Paul LePage (R), 44% to 37%, with independent Eliot Cutler (I) at 14%.

Candidate Finds $12K in Backpack

"Long-shot Republican U.S. Senate candidate Champ Edmunds hasn't raised much campaign cash so far -- but on Sunday, he found $12,000 cash in an abandoned backpack, outside his Missoula church," the Helena Independent Record reports.

Tight Race in Florida

A new Sunshine State News poll in Florida finds Gov. Rick Scott (R) edging Charlie Crist (D) in a race for governor, 45% to 44%.

However, a new Public Policy Polling (D) survey shows Crist leading 49% to 41%.

Archive: April 07, 2014

Rauner Holds Early Lead in Illinois

A new Gravis Marketing poll in Illinois finds Bruce Rauner (R) leads Gov. Pat Quinn (D) by eight points in the governor's race, 43% to 35, with 22% reporting still undecided.

Brown to Launch New Hampshire Bid

Former Sen. Scott Brown (R) will formally launch his bid for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire Thursday with a big rally, WMUR reports.

"The formal launch means that Brown will officially try to become the first person since the 1870s to serve as a senator from two different states. It also means that he will bear the burden of becoming an actual candidate, which comes with its own set of pressures from both his own supporters and opponents."

Washington Post: "Whoever filled out Brown's formal statement of organization for his campaign exploratory committee left blank the small gray box asking for the candidate's party affiliation."

5 Lawmakers Who Could Lose Their Primaries

"Primary season is upon the House, and the not-so-graceful losses in Congress could begin as early as next month," Roll Call reports.

"Starting then, a handful of incumbents will face tough intraparty races, thanks to a variety of reasons: the ongoing GOP civil war, dated and unsuspecting political operations, self-funding challengers and old political grudges coming back to haunt them. Last cycle, five House members lost races to non-member challengers from their own parties (eight more lost in member-vs.-member primaries -- a result of redistricting)."

Landrieu Leads GOP Challengers in Louisiana

A new Magellan Strategies (R) poll in Lousiana finds Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) leads the field but falls short of the majority she would need to avoid a December runoff.

Landrieu leads with 39%, followed by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) at 26% and Paul Hollis (R) and Rob Manness (R) "in the low single digits."

Byron York: "Even though a lot of reporting on the Louisiana Senate race -- including my own -- has focused on the head-to-head Landrieu-Cassidy matchup, there will be more GOP candidates than just Cassidy on the ballot this November. Their presence could affect the outcome of the race."

Rauner's Wife Claims to be a Democrat in New Ad

Chicago Tribune: "Pivoting from a primary campaign geared to his party's conservative base, Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner is now seeking to expand his appeal with a TV spot featuring playful banter with his wife, who proclaims herself to be a Democrat."

"But that on-screen declaration of political allegiance doesn't line up with Diana Rauner's history of campaign donations, which skews heavily Republican. Since 1995, 77 percent of the more than $500,000 she's given has gone to Republican candidates and causes, federal and state records show."

Archive: April 06, 2014

Democrats Talked Rahall Out of Retirement

Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) "was talked out of retiring by Democratic leadership who promised him more campaign funds," The Hill reports.

"Rahall, a longtime House Democrat, is a top Republican target in a state where Obama has been deeply unpopular."

Archive: April 05, 2014

Republicans Gain Ground in New Poll

A new Associated Press-GfK poll "holds bad news for President Obama, but as the November elections draw closer, there are ominous signs for congressional Democrats as well."

In the generic congressional ballot, Republicans now hold a one point lead, 37% to 36%. Democrats were ahead by seven points in January.

Also interesting: "In the new poll, registered voters who are most strongly interested in politics favored the Republicans by 14 percentage points, 51% to 37%. In January, this group was about evenly split, with 42% preferring Democrats and 45% the Republicans."

Bevin Attended Cockfighting Rally

U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin (R) took part in a rally planned to support the legalization of cockfighting in Kentucky, the Louisville Courier Journal reports.

Bevin's campaign, however, described the event as a "states' rights rally," and said that Bevin, who is challenging U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in the Republican primary in May, didn't know that it had any ties to cockfighting.

Archive: April 04, 2014

Democrats Target GOP Ties to Koch Brothers

"Democrats struggling to combat a flood of outside money pouring in to defeat their candidates have found at least a temporary solution: If you can't beat them, brand them," the Los Angeles Times reports.

"The latest strategy of Democratic messaging is tying Republican candidates and policies to the party's most prominent -- and at times vilified -- financial patrons, billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch."

Cochran Maintains Lead Over Primary Challenger

A NSON Opinion Strategies poll in Mississippi finds Sen. Thad Cochran (R) leading GOP primary challenger Chris McDaniel (R) by eight points, 45% to 37%.

Snyder Still Comfortably Ahead in Michigan

A Marketing Resource Group poll in Michigan finds Gov. Rick Snyder (R) solidly ahead of challenger Mark Schauer (D), 47% to 39%.

The U.S. Senate race is closer with Terro Lynn Land (R) edging Gary Peters (D), 40% to 38%.

Franken Holds Small Leads in Minnesota

A new Magellan Strategies (R) poll in Minnesota finds Sen. Al Franken (D) leading Julianne Ortman (R) in a U.S. Senate race, 44% to 41%, and topping Michael McFadden (R), 44% to 38%.

Archive: April 03, 2014

Nunn Goes On Air

Michelle Nunn (D) is on air with her first television commercial in the Georgia U.S. Senate race, the Atlanta Constitution reports.

"Nunn is the likely Democratic nominee, but the ad does not mention her party, instead promoting her centrist, problem-solver image with a photo of her with George H.W. Bush, the founder of the Points of Light Foundation. Nunn declares that she's running for Senate because she's 'optimistic about Georgia's future.'"

The Week: Can Georgia turn blue?

Wolf Continues to Lead Democratic Pack in Pennsylvania

A new Franklin & Marshall poll in Pennsylvania finds Tom Wolf (D) continuing to lead Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D) in the Democratic race for governor, 33% to 7%, with a whopping 46% still undecided and 10% for other candidates.

Hagan Trails All Possible GOP Challengers

A new SurveyUSA poll in North Carolina finds Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) trailing all five possible Republicans she might face in her re-election race this year.

Archive: April 02, 2014

Democrats Target Unmarried Women

The DCCC "is building a national computer model to predict voters' marital status, with hopes of targeting what may be the party's most important demographic group: unmarried women," the Washington Post reports.

"The DCCC project -- which has not previously been disclosed -- is just one example of the party's growing focus on single female voters, who lean heavily in favor of Democrats and could spell the difference between making gains in the House and losing control of the Senate in November."

Deal Barely Ahead in Georgia

A new Landmark/Rosetta Stone poll in Georgia finds Gov. Nathan Deal (R) with a small lead over challenger Jason Carter (D), 43% to 39%, with 18% undecided.

Americans Divided on Control of Congress

A new Quinnipiac poll finds Democrats with a slight edge in the generic congressional ballot, 40% to 38%. Independent voters would vote Republican 35% to 27%.

Meanwhile, Americans are split on whether Democrats or Republicans should control the Senate, 45% to 45%.

Bowser Upsets Gray in Primary

Muriel Bowser (D), "a low-key but politically canny District lawmaker, won the Democratic mayoral nomination Tuesday, emerging from a pack of challengers in a low-turnout primary to deny scandal-tarnished incumbent Vincent Gray a second term," the Washington Post reports.

"The 41-year-old D.C. Council member triumphed in the latest in a string of District elections to reveal a city unsettled over the shape of its future. Bowser's win heralds many more months of uncertainty as she faces a substantial general-election challenger while a lame-duck Gray is left to steer the city amid the threat of federal indictment."

Nunn Faces First Attack Ad

Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn (D) is facing her first attack ad, "a sign Republicans are increasingly nervous she has a real chance to win her race," The Hill reports.

"The Ending Spending Action Fund, a GOP-affiliated super-PAC, is launching an ad attacking her for her support of ObamaCare and accusing her of supporting higher taxes, calling her 'the last thing Georgia taxpayers need.'"

Archive: April 01, 2014

GOP Candidate Leads Bizarre Double Life

Florida congressional hopeful Jacob Rush (R) portrays himself as the ultimate "conservative straight shooter" in a video on his campaign website, St. Peters Blog reports.

The video "certainly hits all the right marks by featuring a series of heartwarming and inspiring images: Rush placing his hand on a Bible, as a father of a newborn, even initiating a group of enthusiastic schoolchildren on the values of the U.S. Constitution."

"What the slick video does not mention is that Rush - as 'Chazz Darling,' 'Staas van der Winst' and a host of other roles - was a long-time member of the Mind's Eye Society... Mind's Eye, or MES, is a nationwide community of gothic-punk role-players who come together to take on personas of vampires and other supernatural beings (known as Kindred), dealing with night-to-night struggles 'against their own bestial natures, hunters, and each other.'"

Control of Senate Could Flip Many Times

Charlie Cook: "By a quirk of fate, we may be in for some pretty turbulent Senate elections, not only this November but in 2016 and 2018 as well. Majority status could resemble a rubber band as much as anything else. It is entirely plausible that the Senate will tip back into GOP hands in 2014, return to Democrats in 2016, and then flip again to Republicans in 2018. It's all about how many--and which--seats on each side are up and exposed to losses, not to mention whether it is a presidential or midterm election."

Archive: March 31, 2014

Camp Will Not Run Again

Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), the chairman of the prestigious Ways and Means Committee, will not run for re-election in November, Politico reports.

Washington Post: "The battle to succeed Camp at Ways and Means is a two-way race between Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the clear front-runner, and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), who is more senior on the panel than Ryan."

Obama Will Endorse Schatz in Hawaii

President Obama is planning to endorse Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) over his challenger, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), in the state's competitive Senate Democratic primary, the Huffington Post reports.

"The president's endorsement will come later Monday, according to a source familiar with the plan who was not authorized to speak publicly before the announcement."

The Fix: "Rarely do endorsements move the needle in the campaigns. They are often overhyped and mean far less than the campaigns who tout them would lead you to believe. But this one matters. Big time."

Are Democrats Already Making Excuses for 2014?

The Week: "In a development that might not bode well for their electoral prospects, Democrats appear to be pushing news stories selectively framing their 2014 losses -- some seven months out from Election Day."

GOP Odds of Taking Senate Increase

The Monkey Cage: "As we have begun to incorporate candidate experience into the model, our initial sense is this: Republicans may have a far better chance of winning control of the Senate than we or other analysts previously thought. Here is a preliminary estimate: The GOP could have as much as a 4 in 5 chance of controlling the chamber."

The Week: 5 key insights in the GOP's political strategy

Candidate Secretly Recorded Potential Endorser

Former dairy executive Scottie Mayfield says congressional candidate Weston Wamp (R) secretly recorded a conversation they had when Wamp came to his home to talk him out of supporting Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) in the August Republican primary, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.

Less Early Voting in Washington, DC

"Despite predictions that more District residents would vote early for mayor, the opposite has turned out to be true -- a sign of potentially historic low turnout and a reason for new uncertainty in Tuesday's already fluid Democratic primary," the Washington Post reports.

Why the GOP Has a Built-In Midterm Edge

"Even if Democrats recruit great candidates, raise gobs of money and run smart campaigns, they face an uphill fight to retake control of the House in this year's congressional elections, regardless of the political climate in November," the AP reports.

"The reason? Republican strategists spent years developing a plan to take advantage of the 2010 census, first by winning state legislatures and then redrawing House districts to tilt the playing field in their favor. Their success was unprecedented."

"In states like Ohio, Michigan and North Carolina, Republicans were able to shape congressional maps to pack as many Democratic voters as possible into the fewest House districts. The practice is called gerrymandering, and it left fertile ground elsewhere in each state to spread Republican voters among more districts, increasing the GOP's chances of winning more seats."

Democrats Aim to Ramp Up Turnout

"Faced with a strong prospect of losing control of the Senate in November, Democrats have begun a high-stakes effort to try to overcome one of their party's big weaknesses: voters who don't show up for midterm elections," the Los Angeles Times reports.

"The party's Senate campaign committee plans to spend $60 million to boost turnout. That's nine times what it spent in the last midterm election, in 2010."

"The Democratic National Committee has begun to make the sophisticated data analysis tools developed to target voters in the 2012 presidential campaign available to all the party's candidates."

Archive: March 30, 2014

Grimm Uses Maher Campaign to Fundraise

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) is using comedian Bill Maher's Flip a District campaign as a fund-raising opportunity, the New York Observer reports.

"The Republican lawmaker's campaign fired off an email to supporters earlier this afternoon declaring that Staten Island and Brooklyn voters do not agree with Mr. Maher's 'anti-Catholic, leftist propaganda.'"

Archive: March 28, 2014

Can Jesse Benton Save the GOP?

The Daily Beast profiles Jesse Benton, who has been campaign manager for both Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R-KY).

"At 36, Benton is one of few Republican operatives to have lived in both the Tea Party and establishment camps of a party that has repeatedly self-destructed over infighting and purity tests in recent years. Despised by many on both sides of that divide, Benton might well be the future of the party--someone who knows both sides, is connected throughout, and, above all, wants to win."

Burke Backs Away from Self-Funding Expectations

Mary Burke (D) says she won't be able to self-fund her campaign for Wisconsin governor, Wisconsin Public Radio reports.

"When Burke first floated the idea of running for governor, her personal wealth made her an appealing candidate to some Democrats and made others think twice about entering the race. The former Trek executive, whose father founded the company, has not disclosed her net worth, though she did donate more than $400,000 to her campaign in just its first few months."

Rogers Will Not Seek Re-Election

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), "the powerful Republican chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, will not seek re-election to Congress after his term expires this year," the Daily Beast reports.

Roll Call: "Rogers' 8th District is currently rated Safe Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call. But without Rogers, it could be competitive. Mitt Romney carried the district by 3 points in 2012, and President Barack Obama won it by 6 points in 2008."

Archive: March 27, 2014

Braley Posts Photo of English Farm

Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA), who came under fire after criticizing Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) as a farmer who never went to law school, posted a farm photo on Facebook that appears to be from an English farm, BuzzFeed reports.

Perdue Still Leading GOP Pack in Georgia

A new Landmark/Rosetta Stone poll in Georgia finds David Perdue (R) leading the 21%, followed by Rep. Jack Kingston (R) and Rep. Paul Broun (R) at 15%, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R) at 13% and Karen Handel (R) at 10%.

Reliance on Young Voters Will Hurt Democrats in Midterms

Geoffrey Skelley: "Since the first national exit poll was taken for a midterm election in 1978, only once (in that first survey) has the 18-to-29 age group made up a larger portion of a midterm electorate than voters who were 60 or older. And not only have young people almost always been the smallest part of midterm electorates in this period, their participation has usually been much smaller compared to presidential years. With Democrats more reliant on young voters to win elections, drop-off among that group could make it harder for Democrats to find success in midterm cycles."

Brown Way Ahead in California

A new Public Policy Institute of California poll finds Gov. Jerry Brown (D) leading the race for governor with 47%, followed by Tim Donnelly (R) at 10% and Neel Kashkari (R) and Andrew Blount (R) at just 2%.

Have Republicans Overplayed Their Hand on Obamacare?

First Read: "Right now, Republicans' strategy for the midterm elections is simple: Obamacare, Obamacare, Obamacare. And the strategy makes sense given the law's overall unpopularity and the largely red-state playing field in the midterms. But is there a point at which the Obamacare-all-the-time playbook yields diminishing returns? According to a health-care tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 53% of all respondents -- including 51% of independents and even 47% of Republicans -- said they are tired about hearing the debate over the health-care law and think the country should focus on other issues."

"It will be interesting to track similar polling over the next few months. Still, the law remains pretty unpopular; the same poll shows 46% holding an unfavorable view of it, versus 38% with a favorable view (but that's an improvement from January, when it was 50% unfavorable, 34% favorable)."

Warner Solidly Ahead in Virginia

A new Quinnipiac poll in Virginia finds Sen. Mark Warner (D) leading Ed Gillespie (R) for U.S. Senate by double-digits, 46% to 31%, with Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis at 6%.

Archive: March 26, 2014

Walker Maintains Lead in Wisconsin

A new Marquette Law School Poll in Wisconsin finds Gov. Scott Walker (R) leading challenger Mary Burke (D) in the race for governor, 48% to 41%.

Key finding: 47% of respondents approve of the job Walker is doing as governor while an equal 47% disapprove.

Candidate Threatens to Castrate Lawmakers

In a new television ad with pigs squealing in the background, Iowa U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst (R) subtly threatened to castrate big spending lawmakers if she's elected.

Said Ernst: "I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm. So when I get to Washington, I'll know how to cut pork."

Bonus Quote of the Day

"Well, I think (laughs) ... I'm not sure, uh, uh. ... Let me just say it this way, when we were in the Legislature together we worked perfectly well together."

-- Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), quoted by Honolulu Civil Beat, when asked what he likes most about his opponent, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI).

Snyder Won't Disclose Donors

There were renewed calls for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) "to disclose the identities of corporate donors to his now dormant NERD Fund Tuesday after e-mails revealed a top aide who was paid from the fund intervened in the purchasing process on behalf of at least two companies, including one headed by Snyder's cousin," the Detroit Free Press reports.

Snyder dismissed the controversy "as election-year politics."

Will Republicans Self-Destruct in Georgia?

Benjy Sarlin: "The solid red state is shaping up as a key boost to Democratic hopes of retaining the Senate thanks to a GOP primary field both sides believe could produce a nominee too hobbled, too extreme, or too gaffe-prone to win in November."

"The candidate causing the biggest headache is Paul Broun, a four-term GOP congressman who opposes abortion without exception, thinks the Big Bang and evolution are 'lies straight from the pit of hell,' (gravity waves be damned), and likened President Obama to Hitler and Karl Marx before he was even inaugurated."

"Then there's fellow Rep. Phil Gingrey, a doctor who suggested last year that Todd Akin was 'partly right' about his theories on 'legitimate rape' (Gingrey later apologized)."

Another Colorado Lawmaker Flips on Personhood

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) "is no longer supporting personhood... making him the second Republican in the last five days to disavow the movement to ban abortion -- even in cases of rape or incest -- that he'd previously supported," KDVR reports.

"Coffman made his abrupt 180 on the issue public through his campaign just hours after his opponent, Democrat Andrew Romanoff, challenged Coffman to do so."

GOP Efforts to Recruit Women Fizzle

"After most women cast their ballots for President Obama in 2012, Republicans have worked overtime to boost their standing among female voters. They launched a major push to recruit female candidates for Congress, opened the first GOP political consulting firm exclusively aimed at winning over women voters, and established an organization that endorses women running for office," the Boston Globe reports.

"But measured by the number of GOP women running for Congress, the efforts are not yielding many results."

Democrats Schedule Votes on Pocketbook Issues

"The White House and congressional Democrats are preparing to step up attacks on Republicans over pocketbook issues like the minimum wage in the most aggressive and coordinated move yet to try to reverse the Republican momentum that threatens their control of the Senate in the final two years of the Obama presidency," the New York Times reports.

"The effort is set to begin within the next two weeks in the Senate when Democrats will call a vote on their proposal to increase the minimum wage to $10.10, and it will continue through spring and summer with additional legislation to eliminate the pay gap between men and women, lower interest rates on college loans and close tax loopholes that benefit corporations with business overseas."

Archive: March 25, 2014

Braley Apologizes for Criticizing Grassley as a Farmer

Rep. Bruce Braley (D), who is running for U.S. Senate, apologized after video was leaked that shows Braley mocking Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) as "a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school," the Des Moines Register reports.

"In an effort to embarrass Braley, Republican operatives today began to circulate the video of him warning some out-of-state lawyers that Grassley might become the next judiciary committee chairman if they didn't contribute money to help elect Braley."

McConnell Ad Used Duke Footage

"Days before the Kentucky Wildcats play the Louisville Cardinals in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA basketball tournament, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has released a new online video that shows brief footage of the Duke Blue Devils winning the national championship in 2010," the Lexington Herald Leader reports.

Said a campaign spokesperson: "Obviously we were horrified by the error and quickly changed it."

Udall Looks Safe in New Mexico

A new Public Policy Polling survey in New Mexico finds Sen. Tom Udall (D), who was elected by 22 points in 2008, starting out with leads in the 20-22 point range against both of his potential GOP opponents for this fall.

Udall leads Allen Weh (R), 53% to 33%, and tops David Clements (R), 55% to 33%.

Meanwhile, Gov. Susana Martinez (R) leads challenger Gary King (D) by five points, 47% to 42%.

Generic Ballot Deadlocked

A new George Washington University Battleground Poll finds the generic congressional ballot tied between Republicans and Democrats at 43% each.

Key finding: Among self-identified conservative Republicans 61% say they are not pleased with the direction of the party. Self-identified moderate or liberal Republicans have a 57% disapproval rating for their party's direction.

President Obama's approval rating is an upside down 44% to 53%.

Bowser Surges Ahead of Wounded Gray

A new Washington Post poll finds a "once-fractious primary battle" for Washington, DC mayor has narrowed into a two-person race with Muriel Bowser leading embattled Mayor Vincent Gray, 30% to 27%.

"The new polling indicates that, across a wide field of eight candidates, Bowser is now best positioned to capi­tal­ize on concerns about Gray's honesty. Bowser's surge offers more evidence that the electorate sees little connection between the city's chief executive and its economic boom; by a two-to-one margin, voters say the city is on the right track, according to the poll."

A new Marist Poll finds Bowser leading 28% to 26%.

Sessions Says Cruz is Working Against Him

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) accused Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) of trying to oust him from Congress during the recent primary, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Said Sessions: "I don't think there's any doubt that Senator Cruz did get involved and had ideas about who he would prefer to work with, and that's OK."

"Meanwhile, Sessions says he's not holding any grudges. But he wants Cruz to learn how to play inside the GOP sandbox."

Democrats Have a Problem with Independents

Stu Rothenberg looks at the recent polling and finds that attitudinally, independent voters "once again more closely resemble GOP voters than Democrats."

"Democrats can hope that this cycle's independents really are closet Republicans -- presidential candidate Mitt Romney won independents by 5 points in 2012, according to the exit poll -- but dismissing the president's problems with independent voters seems like a risky strategy that looks dangerously like denial."

Archive: March 24, 2014

Bonus Quote of the Day

"Do I have the best credentials? Probably not. 'Cause, you know, whatever. But I have long and strong ties to this state,"

-- Former Sen. Scott Brown (R), quoted by the AP, on his New Hampshire U.S. Senate race.

Quote of the Day

"This is not a presidential election. This is a bunch of elections in different states."

-- Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), quoted by Fortune, on why Republicans will not put forward a unified agenda for the midterm elections.

Kirk Won't Campaign for Durbin Challenger

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) ruled out campaigning for U.S. Senate nominee Jim Oberweis (R), saying he would rather "protect" his relationship with Sen. Dick Durbin D-Ill. and not launch a "partisan jihad," the Chicago Sun Times reports.

Said Kirk: "I'm going to be protecting my relationship with Dick and not launching into a partisan jihad that hurts our partnership to both pull together for Illinois."

The Anti-Politician Politician

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) "has reinvented himself again," the Los Angeles Times reports.

"He shuns most trappings of the office. There's no motorcade, no entourage. The governor showed up at the elections department with a lone campaign advisor and his wife, who snapped a photo using her smart phone."

"Brown fashions many of his own speeches, veto messages and even press releases. His staff in the governor's office is about half that of his Republican predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who employed as many as 230. He often goes months without a public appearance, sometimes holed up at his home in the Oakland hills, calling authors, experts and others he wrings for information."

Brown Floods New Hampshire with Ads

Scott Brown (R) and his allies are flooding New Hampshire with hard-hitting, 30-second political ads as he begins his U.S. Senate campaign, the Boston Globe reports.

"Shaheen's allies have fought back but, in a sign of potential trouble for the Democrat and her supporters, they have been overwhelmed by the opposition's barrage, outspent by a margin of more than 4-to-1. The gap is already becoming a grave concern among state Democrats who fear that national party leaders are not making the race a priority."

"The spending levels from out-of-state Republican groups have already surpassed what Mitt Romney's campaign spent on ads during the entire 2012 New Hampshire primary."

Maher Targets First Two Congressman

Comedian Bill Maher revealed that the two congressmen first nominated "by popular demand" for his 'Flip a District' campaign are Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) and Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Politico reports.

Osborn Memo Not Authentic

Nebraska U.S. Senate candidate Shane Osborn (R) distributed an official-looking Navy memo supporting his account of his 2001 decision to land a crippled Navy EP-3 reconnaissance plane in China that has dogged his campaign.

But the Omaha World-Herald "has learned that the unsigned memo was not authorized by the Navy, or vetted through normal channels, and was written as a favor to Osborn by a Navy buddy working at the Pentagon."

House GOP Sees Budget as Best Midterm Play

"House Republicans are planning to release a budget blueprint in coming weeks, making an election-year calculation that the benefits of focusing on the deficit outweigh the risks. In the Senate, by contrast, Democrats aren't writing a formal budget, opting to direct attention elsewhere," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"The two parties' approaches show how each side is looking to capitalize on the months until this fall's midterm elections, and set the stage for coming action in Congress."

Cuomo Leads by 35 Points

A new Siena poll in New York finds Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) way ahead of challenger Rob Astorino (R), 61% to 26%.

Archive: March 23, 2014

Republicans Now Favored to Take Control of Senate

Nate Silver: "We think the Republicans are now slight favorites to win at least six seats and capture the chamber... You'll find that our characterization of the 36 races in most cases is very close to that issued by such forecasters as the Cook Political Report and Rothenberg Political Report. We're looking at the same sort of information they are, and they have strong track records, so it's natural there should be similarities."

"One point of difference is that we're much more pessimistic about the Democrats' chances in West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana. These races have a lot in common, taking place in three red states where longtime Democratic incumbents have retired."

Meanwhile, Paul Krugman says the relaunch of Silver's FiveThirtyEight "looks like something between a disappointment and a disaster."

Archive: March 22, 2014

Scott Loses Top Fundraiser

"In a campaign shakeup, Florida Gov. Rick Scott's (R) top fundraiser -- billionaire healthcare CEO Mike Fernandez -- abruptly quit his post late after weeks of behind-the-scenes disagreements," the Miami Herald reports.

"Fernandez said he was quitting to spend more time with his family and businesses."

GOP Candidate for Governor is a Sex Offender

"One of four gubernatorial candidates introduced to California Republicans recently is a registered sex offender who spent more than a decade in state prison, convicted of crimes including voluntary manslaughter and assault with intent to commit rape," the Los Angeles Times reports.

"Glenn Champ, 48, addressed hundreds of GOP delegates and supporters Sunday at the site of the state party's semi-annual convention. Introduced by party chairman Jim Brulte and allotted 10 minutes, Champ spoke in between the main GOP candidates, former U.S. Treasury official Neel Kashkari and state Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of San Bernardino County."

Quote of the Day

"It's not a matter of a conscious omission. It's just a matter of moving on to what they are really asking about."

-- North Carolina U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis (R), explaining to the Raleigh News & Observer why he falsely represented where he went to college.

Archive: March 21, 2014

Gardner Flips On Personhood

Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), "who has been hammered for his position on social issues ever since he jumped into the U.S. Senate race, dropped a political bombshell Friday with his revelation that he was wrong to have supported previous personhood efforts," the Denver Post reports.

"He said after learning more about the measures, which would have had the impact of outlawing abortion, that he realized the proposals also could ban certain forms of contraception, a prohibition he does not support."

Said Gardner: "This was a bad idea driven by good intentions," he told The Denver Post. "I was not right. I can't support personhood now. I can't support personhood going forward. To do it again would be a mistake."

Data Fueled Absentee Ballot Surge in Florida

David Jolly (R) "took the special election for Florida's 13th district House seat last week by a tight margin, and the GOP thinks data had a lot to do with it," Ad Age reports.

"Getting out the absentee ballot vote was key to the GOP win, insiders say... The committee's data team evaluated all voters in the Florida district, whether or not they had already requested an absentee ballot. Based on vote-file information including party affiliation, age, voting history and previous methods of voting, they developed analytical models to determine which voters had a high probability of returning their absentee ballots."

Walker Ahead in Wisconsin

A new Gravis Marketing survey in Wisconsin finds Gov. Scott Walker (R) leading challenger Mary Burke (D) in the race for governor, 49% to 44%.

Obama Says Democrats 'Get Clobbered' in Midterms

President Obama complained at a fundraiser that Democrats "get clobbered" in midterm elections, The Hill reports, noting that that "young, female, black and Hispanic voters were more likely to vote in elections with a presidential contest."

Said Obama: "Suddenly a more representative cross section of America gets out there, and we do pretty well in presidential elections. But in midterms, we get clobbered, either because we don't think it's important or because we get so discouraged about what's happening in Washington that we think it's not worth our while. And the reason today is so important, and the reason that I'm so appreciative for all of you being here is because we're going to have to get over that. This is a top priority."

Archive: March 20, 2014

Perdue Leads GOP Pack in Georgia

A new SurveyUSA poll in Georgia finds David Perdue (R) leading the race for the Republican Senate nomination with 29%, followed by Rep. Jack Kingston (R) at 19%, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R) a 12%, Rep. Paul Broun (R) at 11% and Karen Handel (R) at 10%.

"Perdue and Kingston are viewed as more solid general election candidates than Gingrey and Broun by establishment Republicans, who would be relieved to see both make a primary runoff."

Daines Leads Walsh for Senate

A new Rasmussen poll in Montana finds Steve Daines (R) has a double-digit lead over Sen. John Walsh (D) in the race for U.S. Senate, 51% to 37%.

Hutchinson Walks Back Holder Endorsement

Arkansas gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson (R) told KATV that his endorsement of Attorney General Eric Holder in 2008 was "one of the biggest mistakes I've made."

Hutchinson added Holder has done an "atrocious job" of enforcing the law.

Tillis Inflated College Credentials

North Carolina U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis (R), who's running in the GOP primary to face Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), says he's a graduate of the University of Maryland but he actually went to the independent online school University of Maryland University College, TPM reports.

Quote of the Day

"There's no one, myself included, who could go to Washington for 20-30-40 years and not change. It's cathartic, good, refreshing for there to be turnover. You've gotta be careful of staying anywhere too long. It's best to retire with dignity. I'm offering Mitch McConnell the chance to do so."

-- Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin (R), quoted by Time.

Coakley Leads in Massachusetts

A new WBUR-FM/MassINC poll in Massachusetts finds Martha Coakley (D) leading Steve Grossman (D) in the Democratic primary for governor, 45% to 14%.

In a general election matchup, Coakley leads Charlie Baker (R) by double-digits, 41% to 26%.

Democrats Still Raising Big Money

First Read: "Despite a rough last few months for Democrats, they're still raising lots of money. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee today announced raising $6.8 million in February -- the best February in the committee's history. And it continues to have a big fundraising lead over its counterpart, the National Republican Senatorial Committee."

Why Pot Won't Help Democrats in 2014

National Journal: "Democrats are hoping that growing support for medical and recreational marijuana can spur party turnout in this year's midterms, especially in getting young voters to the polls. But despite early optimism that such efforts could be an easy fix to their turnout problems, upon closer review, there's only a loose connection between the two."

The (Mostly) Serious Senator

The Washington Post profiles Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) "spent four decades building a comedic franchise across the popular culture -- Saturday Night Live writer and actor; best-selling political satirist; partisan radio blowhard. He has spent the past five years shedding his clown costume, realizing, practically from Day One, that it was a liability for a senator. Since taking his seat in the summer of 2009, he has tamped down his scorn for Republicans, dialed back the irony and hyperbole, and strived to fit in with his fellow gentlemen and ladies in the august chamber."

Archive: March 19, 2014

GOP Says Database Was Behind Jolly's Win

National Journal: "To hear Republican strategists involved with David Jolly's campaign tell it, the newest Republican in Congress owes his victory to a 'Honeybadger.' That's what officials at National Republican Congressional Committee call the voter database they've spent a year tirelessly building from scratch, a system they argue was essential to Jolly's surprising win in last week's special election in Florida."

"Led by Honeybadger, a continually updating system that integrates real-time data with existing voter files, they say they were able to track voters they had to target, discover what messages would motivate them to go to the polls, and project exactly how much ground Jolly had to recover when early absentee voting didn't swing his way."

Rauner Will Face Quinn for Illinois Governor

Chicago Tribune: "The fall campaign for Illinois governor between Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner will feature dueling brands of populism, campaign bankrolls in the tens of millions of dollars and plenty of scorched-earth attacks from groups with a vested interest in the high-stakes race."

"Indeed, even before Rauner had eked out a tougher-than-expected primary victory Tuesday, Quinn was up on TV with an ad attacking the wealthy Winnetka venture capitalist for his shifting positions on raising Illinois' minimum wage."

The Chicago Sun Times notes Rauner beat Kirk Dillard (R) "by a mere 3 percentage points, after dominating the polls for months, thanks to a barrage of TV ads bankrolled by his personal fortune and prodigious fund-raising ability."

Strickland Not Running for Senate

Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D), often mentioned as a potential Senate candidate, will instead become president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a Democratic think tank, the Huffington Post reports.

Carville Hopes for Political Climate Change

James Carville: "if the election were held in the current climate, it wouldn't be hard to argue that the Democrats might have a bad, perhaps even awful, election ahead of them. However, the one thing we know is that it is not going to be held now -- it is going to be held in November. This is a case where we don't know if there is going to be a political climate change or not. Suffice to say, I am pulling for some political climate change."

Archive: March 18, 2014

More of the Same

Charlie Cook: "The bottom line is that if you have liked the last three years, you'll love the next three. If you haven't liked the last three years, you'll just have to suck it up; it isn't likely to change anytime soon."

Bonus Quote of the Day

"I think we're in for a tsunami election."

-- RNC Chairman Reince Preibus, quoted by TPM.

Udall Holds Small Lead in Colorado

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Colorado finds Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) starts out with a 2 point lead over Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) in the U.S. Senate race, 42% to 40%.

Key findings: "Gardner starts out the race with just under 50% name recognition, and voters with an opinion about him are pretty evenly divided. The close division mirrors how voters feel about Udall's job performance- 41% approve and 40% disapprove of him, almost identical to where we found him in December."

Crist Barely Ahead in Florida

A new University of North Florida poll reveals Charlie Crist (D) has a single point lead over Gov. Rick Scott (R) among registered voters, 34% to 33%.

Scott's approval rate is down slightly at 45%.

Nugent Auctions Assault Rifle for Tancredo

Colorado gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo (R) is raffling off an AR-15 rifle with the help of controversial poster boy Ted Nugent, the incendiary rocker who earlier this year called President Obama a "subhuman mongrel," ABC News reports.

Abbott Tops Davis in New Texas Poll

A new Texas Research Institute poll finds Greg Abbott (R) leading Wendy Davis (D) in the race for Texas governor by 7 points, 49% to 42%.

McConnell Campaigns on His Power

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) "is building his re-election campaign around a concept that hasn't been heard much recently: Vote for me--I'm powerful," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"The 72-year-old Mr. McConnell is a veteran tactician skilled in pulling the levers of power. And despite historic levels of disdain among American voters for Washington and the deal-making that is the senator's forte, he is running on his clout, in his campaign tactics and his pitch to voters."

Archive: March 17, 2014

Brown Won't Limit Outside Money

Scott Brown (R) on blasted Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's (D-NH) challenge to limit outside spending in the New Hampshire Senate race as "self-serving and hypocritical." The Hill reports.

Brown signed a similar pledge in his unsuccessful Massachusetts race against Elizabeth Warren (D) in 2012.

Gubernatorial Races Follow Presidential Results

Dan Hopkins: "In recent years, gubernatorial elections have become increasingly nationalized, to the point where voting patterns in these races bear a striking resemblance to those in presidential races. If we look at all sitting governors, just 15 of the 50 lead states that were won by the other party in the last presidential election. That means just 30 percent of states split their votes. As recently as 1995, the figure was 44 percent, as Republicans were still competitive throughout the northeast."

Rauner Maintains Lead Ahead of Illinois Primary

With a day to go before Illinois Republicans choose their gubernatorial nominee, a new We Ask America poll finds Bruce Rauner (R) in a commanding lead with 44%, followed by Kirk Dillard at 27%, Bill Brady at 19% and Dan Rutherford at 9%.

Shaheen Leads Brown by Double-Digits

A new American Research Group poll in New Hampshire finds Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) leading possible challenger Scott Brown (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 50% to 38%.

A new Rasmussen survey finds Shaheen leading by nine points, 50% to 41%.

Edwards to Announce Bid in Louisiana

Former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards (D) -- "known for his brazen, often shocking quotes" -- is running for Congress, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

"He will run in Louisiana's strongly Republican 6th District, which snakes its way from north Baton Rouge through Ascension and all the way down to the Houma-Thibodaux area. The field is already bloated, but doesn't yet feature a strong Democratic candidate."

Synder's Lead Shrinks in Michigan

A new Denno Research poll in Michigan finds Mark Schauer (D) has gained ground on Gov. Rick Snyder (R) in the gubernatorial race.

"Snyder still leads Schauer 42% to 39% -- a statistical dead heat -- but the governor's track record of increasing overall education funding by $1 billion during his three years in office isn't resonating with voters... Public perception that Snyder is spending less state money on education is consistent across party lines."

Are Democrats Resigned to Defeat in 2014?

E.J. Dionne: "Obama and his party are in danger of allowing the Republicans to set the terms of the 2014 elections, just as they did four years ago. The fog of nasty and depressing advertising threatens to reduce the electorate to a hard core of older, conservative voters eager to hand the president a blistering defeat."

"American politics has been shaken by two recent events that hurt first the Republicans and then the Democrats. Republicans have recovered from their blow. Democrats have not."

Robert Shrum: "In light of their loss in Florida's special election, Democrats need to adopt a new political approach and emphasize the popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act."

Marc Ambinder says Democrats are in "big, big trouble."

Peters Has Small Lead in Michigan

A new Denno Research poll in Michigan finds Rep Gary Peters (D-MI) edging Terri Lynn Land (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 40% to 37%.

"This poll comes as a reversal for Peters. The five recent polls have had Land up, according to Real Clear Politics. Several of the polls, however, were within the margin of error."

Archive: March 16, 2014

Gibbs Warns Democrats Could Lose Senate

Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the Senate is "definitely" in danger of flipping to Republican control, Politico reports.

Said Gibbs: "If we lose the Senate, turn out the lights. The party's over."

The Week: Will the GOP clean up in the midterms?

Archive: March 15, 2014

Democrats Worried About Obama Factor

"Democrats are becoming increasingly alarmed about their midterm election fortunes amid President Obama's sinking approval ratings, a loss in a special House election in Florida last week, and millions of dollars spent by Republican-aligned groups attacking the new health law," the New York Times reports.

"The combination has led to uncharacteristic criticism of Mr. Obama and bitter complaints that his vaunted political organization has done little to help the party's vulnerable congressional candidates."

David Plouffe told Bloomberg, "This is a screaming siren that the same problems that afflicted us" in 2010 when Democrats lost control of the House "could face us again."

Archive: March 14, 2014

Carter Holds Small Edge in Georgia

A new Insider Advantage poll in Georgia finds Jason Carter (D) edging Gov. Nathan Deal (R) in the race for governor, 41% to 38%.

Quinn Way Ahead of Primary Challenger in Illinois

A new Strive Strategies poll in Illinois finds Gov. Pat Quinn (D) leading primary challenger Tio Hardiman (D) by a large margin, 64% to 36%.

Political Fix: "In a news release, the polling firm calls that a 'solid lead' and presents it as good news for Quinn. It isn't. Hardiman has no political base, no money, and has received no serious media coverage. It's unlikely that one-third of Democratic Illinois voters even know who he is, let alone are supporting him."

Can Georgia Turn Blue?

Los Angeles Times: "Seen as Democrats' best hope to pick up a Senate seat in the midterm election, the daughter of former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn is counting on her Republican opponents to alienate voters with their far-right platforms, as has occurred elsewhere in recent races."

"But her campaign also hinges on whether she can take advantage of the Peach State's rapidly changing demographics. Once a Democratic stronghold, Georgia turned red over the last 20 years as white voters embraced Republican candidates. Fewer than 1 in 4 white Georgians voted for President Obama in 2008."

Primary Rival Calls Graham 'Ambiguously Gay'

South Carolina U.S. Senate candidate Dave Feliciano (R) said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is "ambiguously gay" at a candidate forum, according to The State.

Said Feliciano: "It's about time that South Carolina says hey, We're tired of the ambiguously gay senator from South Carolina. We're ready for a new leader to merge the Republican Party. We're done with this. This is what it's about, all of us coming together and saying, one way or the other, one of us is going to be on that ballot in November."

Sink Could Run Again

Alex Sink (D) told the Tampa Bay Times that she is "keeping an open mind" about running against David Jolly (R) again in November.

"Two days after her narrow loss to Jolly in the special election for Congressional District 13, Sink said she has no timetable for making a decision but is in no rush to decide."

Quote of the Day

"I'm just measuring the drapes."

-- Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), quoted by National Journal, while visiting the U.S. Senate.

Will 2014 Be Like 2010?

David Wasserman: "Are Democrats up against a political environment just as bad as 2010? Not quite, at least not yet. But, at this rate, it is quite possible that Republicans net eight seats or more, which would give them their largest seat share in the House since 1928. The reason? Republicans are fighting on more favorable turf than they did in 2010, thanks to redistricting in 2012."

"Bottom line: The results in FL-13 strongly suggest that even talented Democratic challengers may not be able to overcome turnout drop-off and Obamacare on GOP-leaning turf in 2014. And, faced with a president and signature healthcare law polling in the low 40s in most district, Democratic incumbents need to batten down the hatches sooner rather than later."

Brown Will Announce Exploratory Bid

Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) "will announce he is launching an exploratory committee for a run for the New Hampshire U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D), the New Hampshire Union Leader reports.

"A source close to Brown confirmed the announcement is at hand, and said it will be made in Nashua, where the state Republican Party will begin its two-day Northeast Republican Leadership Conference at the Crowne Plaza Hotel."

Archive: March 13, 2014

Brown Looking for Campaign Staff in New Hampshire

Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) has started looking for campaign staff and courting the political elite in New Hampshire in a possible campaign against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the AP reports.

"Brown is a longtime Massachusetts resident. But he recently relocated to his New Hampshire vacation home. He's begun calling top New Hampshire Republicans to gauge their support. And his camp has quietly started offering paid positions to Republican operatives for a prospective Senate campaign."

Rauner Holds Wide Lead in Illinois GOP Primary

A new We Ask America poll in Illinois shows Bruce Rauner's (R) largely self-funded gubernatorial campaign leading the GOP pack with 46%, followed by Kirk Dillard (R) at 26%, Bill Brady (R) at 19% and Dan Rutherford (R) at 9%.

The primary is next week.

Cassidy Edges Landrieu in New Poll

A Hickman Analytics (D) poll in Louisiana shows Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) leading Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) by four points in a U.S. Senate race, 46% to 42%.

Hagan Holds Small Lead for Re-Election

A new Hickman Analytics (D) poll in North Carolina shows Sen. Kay Hagan (D) leading Thom Tillis (R) by four points, 45% to 41% in a U.S. Senate match up.

A new Public Policy Polling survey shows Hagen leading by two points, 45% to 43%.

An Uphill Fight for Senate Democrats

Kyle Kondik: "To demonstrate just how Republican this year's Senate playing field is, consider this: Of the 36 Senate elections this year (33 regularly scheduled and three specials), the Crystal Ball sees 16 as at least potentially competitive at the moment. Of those races, 14 are currently held by Democrats, and just two are held by Republicans."

"In other words, nearly all the competitive seats this cycle are in places where Democrats are playing defense. That fact alone indicates the GOP is poised for a strong cycle, although we're not ready to say they will in fact win the six seats they need to take outright control of the Senate, even though they have a path to six -- or perhaps even several seats more than that."

Rove Warns Republicans Over Special Election Win

Karl Rove: "To Republicans, a word of caution over the special election in Florida's 13th congressional district: Don't uncork the champagne... special elections don't always dictate how midterms turn out."

The Week: Republicans have a huge advantage in 2014 -- but it's not Obamacare.

Who Says a Lobbyist Can't Win an Election?

David Jolly's (R) special election victory this week is "the latest sign that a D.C. lobbying or consultant background -- while far from helpful or positive -- isn't a deal-breaker at the ballot box," Politico reports.

"Jolly is the second prominent K Streeter to get a nod from voters in recent months. Lobbying shop founder and co-owner Terry McAuliffe won his Virginia gubernatorial race last fall after asking voters to look past a long history as a consummate party insider and political fixer. Two other prominent candidates with ties to lobbying firms or trade associations will face voters this year: Republican Ed Gillespie in Virginia and Democrat Debbie Dingell in Michigan."

Walker In Tough Race

A new Rasmussen Reports survey in Wisconsin finds Gov. Scott Walker (R) deadlocked in his re-election race with challenger Mary Burke (D), 45% to 45%.

Braley Leads Unknown GOP Field in Iowa

A new Quinnipiac poll in Iowa finds Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) holds double-digit leads over most likely Republican contenders for U.S. Senate.

However, Braley has a 35% to 18% favorability rating, while 46% of Iowa voters don't know enough about him to form an opinion. For the Republicans, 77% to 85% of voters don't know enough about the candidates to form an opinion.

McConnell Not As Vulnerable As He Seems

Nate Cohn: "Very few incumbent senators lose re-election in states as favorable as Kentucky, period. Since 1956, only one incumbent senator has lost re-election in a state more favorable than Kentucky under any circumstance. That senator was Ted Stevens, who was convicted on seven counts of corruption just one week before the 2008 election, in a tough year for Republicans. Despite all of that, he lost by only one percentage point. He is the exception that seems to prove the rule."

"Mr. McConnell, of course, is not a convicted felon. And unlike Mr. Stevens, Mr. McConnell comfortably won re-election in worst-case circumstances in 2008, just one month after shepherding TARP, the bank bailout package, to passage in the Senate. Since then, Mr. Obama has alienated eastern Kentucky's coal country, traditionally the most Democratic-leaning stretch of the state. Without those voters, it is unclear whether there's still a path to victory for Democrats seeking federal office."

Archive: March 12, 2014

Bonus Quote of Day

"Listen, I've stood here after losing some special elections. I've tried to put lipstick on a pig, and it's still a pig. You can bet they'll try to put lipstick on it today, but you all know what the facts are."

-- Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), quoted by The Hill, on Democrats trying to spin their defeat in Florida's special election last night.

Clinton is Best Hope for Democrats in 2014

National Journal says Bill Clinton "is an unparalleled weapon for Democrats running this year. According to the new poll, 37 percent of voters are more likely to vote for a candidate this year if he or she has Clinton's endorsement. Only 27 percent say the opposite. That 10 percent net positive means that the Bill Clinton Stamp of Approval has the same positive impact on voters as a candidate having a abortion-rights stance (+11), or placing a major emphasis on conservative social and religious views (+13)."

Brewer Will Not Run Again

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) announced "she will not seek another term in office, an effort that would have required a long-shot court challenge to the state's term limits," the Arizona Republic reports.

Said Brewer: "There does come a time to pass the torch of leadership. After completing this year in office, I will do just that."

Quote of the Day

"They needed a token non-wealthy person, so I was there. They called me in."

-- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), quoted by the New York Observer, before speaking at an Obama fundraiser.

Sign of a Republican Wave?

National Journal: "Tuesday night's special election in Florida should be a serious scare for Democrats who worry that Obamacare will be a major burden for their party in 2014. Despite recruiting favored candidate Alex Sink, outspending Republicans, and utilizing turnout tools to help motivate reliable voters, Democrats still lost to Republican lobbyist David Jolly--and it wasn't particularly close."

Republicans Ramp Up In Colorado

The Republican National Committee "is pouring resources into Colorado, adding more than a dozen staffers as a new Senate candidate and sagging poll numbers for Democrats raise GOP hopes of ending the party's decade-long drought on top-of-the-ticket wins in the state," the AP reports.

"The additions come after Republicans got a top-tier recruit to challenge Sen. Mark Udall and a prominent former Congressman entered the crowded primary to challenge Gov. John Hickenlooper."

GOP Set To Take Advantage of Obama Struggles

Despite one new poll showing President Obama's approval bouncing back, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds his approval rating has dropped to a low point of 41%.

Key findings: By a 33% to 24% margin, Americans say their midterm election vote will be to signal opposition to the president rather than to signal support, though 41% say their vote will have nothing to do about Obama. In addition, 48% of voters say they're less likely to vote for a candidate who's a solid supporter of the Obama administration, versus 26% who say they're more likely to vote for that candidate.

Meanwhile, Republicans hold a one-point edge over Democrats on which party registered voters prefer to control Congress, 44% to 43%,

Archive: March 11, 2014

Jolly Defeats Sink in Special Election

David Jolly (R) beat Alex Sink (D) in the "closely-watched, extremely expensive and relentlessly negative battle for Florida's 13th Congressional District, signaling trouble for Democrats as they head into the midterm elections and face the weight of Obamacare," the Tampa Bay Times reports.

"It was a deflating moment for Democrats, who were already facing a tough November and saw in Sink a buffer from the health care attacks. And it was a crushing blow to Sink, the former state CFO who narrowly lost her 2010 race for governor to political rookie millionaire Rick Scott."

Democrats Take Lead in Generic Ballot

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds Democrats have reclaimed the lead on the generic Congressional ballot, 43% to 40%, after trailing by two points in January. Democrats have poor approval ratings at 35% to 56%, but they're better than Republicans at 23% to 67%.

Also interesting: "One key difference is that Democrats are at least happy with their own party in Congress, giving it a 66/21 approval, while Republicans give their own a negative assessment at 43/48."

Do Candidates Matter?

First Read notes that tonight's special congressional election in Florida between Alex Sink (D) and David Jolly (R) can help us answer this question: "What's the more powerful force right now -- an individual campaign or the overall political environment?"

"Sink has a lot of the intangibles on her side. She has more money, a higher name ID (after running for governor in 2010), an opponent whose previous job was a lobbyist (about as despised of a political occupation as you can have), and a third-party candidate (Lucas Overby) who would probably take more votes away from the Republicans. So a Sink win would be a blueprint for survival for skittish Democrats: If you run a superior race, hold most of the intangibles, and take the health-care issue head on, you can survive."

"On the flip side, a Sink loss and Jolly win will rattle a lot of Democrats, because it would prove that the environment -- including a more GOP-leaning electorate -- trumps everything else. If a B-minus candidate running a C+ campaign who happens to be a lobbyist can beat someone who has more of the intangibles on her side, then that is going to scare the Mark Udalls, Jeanne Shaheens, and Jeff Merkleys running for re-election in blue/purple states in November."

Expensive Special Election Comes to an End

"All the attack ads and campaigning end today, as voters in Pinellas County's nationally watched political battle send a new representative to Congress," the Tampa Bay Times reports.

"An unprecedented $12 million has poured into the hotly contested race between Republican David Jolly and Democrat Alex Sink, with politicos split on who will claim victory, what it will mean for the political parties, what it will say about Obamacare and what it will signal for the nationwide congressional elections later this year."

Politico: What to watch for tonight

Special Elections Become Common Path to House

David Hawkings: "Whatever the outcome of Tuesday's tight congressional contest in Tampa Bay, this footnote is assured: The winner will become the 64th person in the current House first sent to the Capitol by a special election. That's an astonishing 15 percent of the membership."

Archive: March 10, 2014

Sink Holds Slight Edge

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Florida's 13th congressional district finds Alex Sink (D) leading David Jolly (R) by three points, 48% to 45%.

The special election is tomorrow.

Broun Leads GOP Pack for Senate Nod

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Georgia finds Rep. Paul Broun (R) leading the GOP Senate primary race with 27%, followed by Rep. Phil Gingrey (R) at 14%, Rep. Jack Kingston (R) at 13%, David Perdue (R) at 12% and Karen Handel (R) at 9%.

In head-to-head matchups, with Michelle Nunn (D) and Broun were tied at 38%, while Nunn with slight leads over Kingston, Handel and Gingrey.

McConnell Looks Safe in Primary

A new Public Opinion Strategies (R) poll in Kentucky finds Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) holds a massive lead over primary challenger Matt Bevin (R), 61% to 23%.

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

"Oh, I'm probably .01 percent."

-- Illinois gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner (R), quoted by the Chicago Sun Times, when asked if he was among the one percent of wealthiest Americans.

Brown Allies Signalling He'll Run

Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) and key allies "are suddenly sending signals he intends to jump into the 2014 Senate race in New Hampshire," CNN reports.

"Brown has been debating for months about whether to challenge Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen, torn, friends say, about whether he should instead run for president in 2016, or just forgo running for elective office again. Well a number of GOP sources in New Hampshire report receiving calls in recent days from Brown or his top allies, and there's word from GOP operatives that there are conversations about building a Senate campaign staff."

Branstad Still Ahead in Iowa

A new Des Moines Register poll in Iowa shows Gov. Terry Branstad (R) well head of challenger Jack Hatch (D) in the race for governor, 44% to 29%.

Florida is Testing Ground for Midterm Strategies

First Read: "While it's important never to overstate the importance of a single special congressional election, tomorrow's race in Florida will tell us a lot about the power of the Republican Party's health-care attacks on Democrats could have in 2014."

Washington Post: "The Tampa Bay peninsula will serve as the first real test of 2014 voter moods on Tuesday in a down-to-the-wire congressional race that each side is using to hone its messages for November. Republicans, returning to their 2010 and 2012 model, are trying to turn Democrat Alex Sink into a clone of President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), focusing heavily on Obama's health-care law. Democrats, for the first time since the law's bungled rollout last fall, are fighting back with a defense of the law that accuses Republican David Jolly of wanting to repeal the Affordable Care Act and 'take us back' to the era when preexisting conditions could lead to a denial of health insurance."

Archive: March 09, 2014

Top Republicans Move to Crush Tea Party

"As conservative activist groups stirred up trouble for establishment Republican Senate candidates in 2010 and 2012, party leaders in Washington first tried to ignore the insurgents, then tried to reason with them, and ultimately left it to primary voters to settle the matter," the New York Times reports.

"This election season, Republicans led by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky are taking a much harder line as they sense the majority within reach. Top congressional Republicans and their allies are challenging the advocacy groups head on in an aggressive effort to undermine their credibility. The goal is to deny them any Senate primary victories, cut into their fund-raising and diminish them as a future force in Republican politics."

Said McConnell: "I think we are going to crush them everywhere. I don't think they are going to have a single nominee anywhere in the country."

Archive: March 08, 2014

McConnell Won't Say If He Owns a Gun

"The normally sharp-shooting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell may have misfired on Thursday when he took to the stage at the Conservatives Political Action Conference brandishing a gun," the Louisville Courier-Journal reports.

"The gun was actually an award from the National Rifle Association for Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) who is retiring because of medical problems. But the image of McConnell walking out, waving the gun over his head, went viral."

"It shouldn't surprise anyone that he didn't look natural. A search of Courier-Journal archives and the Internet found no other photos of McConnell holding a gun... His campaign refused to say if McConnell hunts, shoots targets or even owns a gun..."

Rauner Still Leads in Tightening Illinois Race

A new Chicago Tribune/WGN poll in Illinois shows the Republican governor's race is tightening, with Bruce Rauner (R) leading with 36%, followed by Kirk Dillard (R) at 23%, Bill Brady (R) at 18% and Dan Rutherford (R) at 9%.

Legacy Candidates Multiply

The Wall Street Journal reports there are "a large group of House and Senate candidates this year whose family names are familiar to voters. As the sons and daughters of former politicians, they are banking that their famous names will boost their recognition among voters and, in many cases, reinforce the message that they are allied more with their home states than with their political parties."

Surge of Doctors Run for Office

New York Times: "A heightened political awareness, and a healthy self-regard that they could do a better job, are drawing a surprisingly large number to the power of elective office... With a few exceptions, these physician legislators and candidates -- there are three dozen of them -- are much alike: deeply conservative, mostly male, and practicing in the specialty fields in which costs and pay have soared in recent years."

Archive: March 07, 2014

Expanding Senate Map Gets Pricey

"Senate Republicans aren't just widening their path to the majority with each new seat added to the competitive map, they're also increasing the odds Democrats will have to spend money in states beyond the top battlegrounds," Roll Call reports.

"Faced with such a lopsided map this cycle, Senate Democrats were undoubtedly budgeting to spend in at least 10 states... But as Republicans continue to fill their candidate roster in potentially competitive races -- most recently adding Rep. Cory Gardner in Colorado -- it means more money Democrats may have to spend on seats not among their most vulnerable."

Wolf Running Away in Pennsylvania

A new Robert Morris University poll in Pennsylvania finds Tom Wolf (D) way head in the Democratic race for governor with 51%, followed by Allyson Schwartz (D) at 17%, Bob McCord (D) at 13% and Kathleen McGinty (D) at 9%.

Meanwhile, just 21% of likely voters suggest they plan to vote for Gov. Tom Corbett (R) while 40% suggested they would vote for the Democratic candidate. Another 12% would vote for another candidate and 27% are undecided.

New Hampshire Republicans Still Have No Candidate

Wall Street Journal: "Before New Hampshire voters begin relishing their role as early vetters of 2016 presidential candidates, they may be hosting a marquee Senate race in 2014. But for now, that political show is missing a leading man."

"No top-tier Republican candidate has yet stepped forward to run against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, and a new poll out Thursday shows her with a double-digit lead even over the man GOP leaders most want to run."

Archive: March 06, 2014

Addicted to Koch

The New York Times reports the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is starting a digital campaign that will use Internet ads and videos to tie Republican Senate candidates to the policies and actions of the Koch brothers."

Its slogan: "The GOP is addicted to Koch."

"Up first on the list is Alaska, where Democrats will try to link Dan Sullivan and Mead Treadwell, the Republican Senate candidates, to an oil refinery in the state owned by Koch Cos. Public Sector. The refinery is set to cease gasoline and jet fuel production, which would lead to the layoffs of roughly 80 refinery workers."

Abbott Leads by Double-Digits in Texas

A new Rasmussen Reports survey in Texas finds Greg Abbott (R) leading Wendy Davis (D) in the race for governor, 53% to 41%.

Bonus Quote of the Day

"If not, I'll go work at Wal-Mart. I've got to have a job."

-- 90-year old Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), quoted by Fox News, when asked if he'll win his runoff.

New Hampshire Voters Sour on Scott Brown

A new Boston Herald/Suffolk University poll in New Hampshire finds former Sen. Scott Brown's (R) prospects for a political comeback "have taken a sudden nosedive."

Brown is now trailing Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) by a 52% to 39% margin in a general election matchup.

Democrats Turn to Social Security

National Journal: "Increasingly anxious about the prospect of a difficult election year, Democratic candidates are already starting to take refuge in one of the party's most tried and true issues: Social Security."

"The attacks are the first glimpses of an issue the party will push to the forefront of the 2014 elections, according to Democratic strategists. With candidates battered by Obamacare's deepening unpopularity, Social Security represents one of their surest bets of putting Republicans on the defensive in a year where the GOP otherwise plans to play a lot of offense."

Cuomo Approval Tumbles But He's Still Way Ahead

A new NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist College poll in New York finds Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) job performance rating "has dropped to its lowest level since he took office in January 2011, tumbling by 10 percentage points since November."

However, in a re-election match up against Rob Astorino -- who formally announced his challenge this week -- Cuomo leads 68% to 25%.

Rauner Running Away With Illinois GOP Nomination

A new We Ask America poll in Illinois finds Bruce Rauner (R) way ahead in the race for the GOP gubernatorial nomination with 40%, followed by Kirk Dillard (R) at 14%, Bill Brady (R) at 12% and Dan Rutherford (R) at 8%.

Cuomo Toys With De Blasio

"In his first two months in office, Mayor Bill de Blasio has found himself repeatedly at odds with New York's governor, Andrew M. Cuomo. And at every turn, Governor Cuomo has not only stymied the mayor, but also seized the moment for his own gain," the New York Times reports.

"In each case, as he batted away some of the mayor's grandest plans, the governor, who is up for re-election this year, has used their divergent views to burnish his own political brand, as a moderate Democrat and tax cutter. And he has offered what amounts to a master class in political gamesmanship, turning the mayor's arguments upside down and boxing him out of the headlines."

Archive: March 05, 2014

Smith Kicks Off Comeback Attempt in New Hampshire

Former Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH) "is ready for a comeback, and he's using a familiar set of Republican ideas - shrink government, repeal Obamacare - to make his case. But, as a politician who's been out of government for a dozen years, he's also presenting himself as a political outsider who can take on Washington," the Concord Monitor reports.

Said Smith: "Washington is broken, out of control, and I'm prepared - that's why I'm here - to make whatever personal sacrifices it may take to wrest it from the insiders, from the establishment of both political parties, to put it back into the hands of the people."

"Smith left elected office in 2003 on rocky footing with many state Republicans. In 2000, he ran for president under three different banners and at one point denounced the Republican Party for its lack of principle on the Senate floor... He moved to Florida but kept his home in Tuftonboro. Down south, he filed to run for Senate in 2004 and 2010, but said yesterday that neither of those were serious runs. Smith endorsed Democrat John Kerry in the 2004 presidential race, a move he's since apologized for and called a mistake."

Warner Way Ahead in Virginia

A new Roanoke College poll in Virginia finds Sen. Mark Warner (D) way ahead of former RNC chair Ed Gillespie (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 56% to 29%.

Franken Holds Solid Leads

A new Survey USA poll in Minnesota finds Sen. Al Franken's (D-MN) lead over his two closest potential Republican challengers is eight points.

He leads Julianne Ortman (R) and Chris Dahlberg (R) by identical 49% to 41% margins, while Mike McFadden (R), the leading fundraiser among GOP candidates, trails Franken by 50% to 40%.

Texas GOP Beats Back Tea Party

Establishment Republican leaders on "defeated challenges from the right in a statewide primary election as conservatives inspired by Senator Ted Cruz largely failed to topple mainstream incumbents, and a race for lieutenant governor headed for a runoff," the New York Times reports.

"Two Republican leaders in Congress -- Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) -- and a number of other Republicans in the House overcame opponents backed by Tea Party activists. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst will face a conservative state senator, Dan Patrick, in a runoff on May 27, a sign that Mr. Dewhurst's loss to Mr. Cruz in the 2012 Senate primary runoff continued to hurt his popularity."

Race for Connecticut Governor in Dead Heat

A new Quinnipiac poll in Connecticut finds Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) locked in a tight re-election race with challenger Tom Foley (R), 43% to 42%.

Archive: March 04, 2014

Goodbye Steve Stockman

The Daily Beast says Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) -- who lost his GOP Senate primary in Texas -- "practically bilked his donors by running the most unserious campaign in recent American history."

"American politics has been rife with liars, crooks, and con artists ever since our country's founding. But they invariably put in at least some effort to convince voters of their virtue and donors to cut a check. Stockman is different. He has failed to give Texans even the modicum of respect required to actively scam them. Stockman just may be the lamest, laziest grifter in the history of the United States and his departure from public life can only improve the political discourse in our country."

Primary Day in Texas

Texas Tribune: "If you're an election nerd, you'll need to pace yourself: Tuesday's primary is the first of three elections that will select the state's next set of officeholders. Expect an unusually top-heavy Republican primary runoff in May, and a November general election that will answer a perennial question in Texas politics: Are there enough Democrats out there to elect anyone to high office?"

The Week: Tea Party faces Texas test.

First Read has six things to watch in today's voting.

Starting to Look Ugly for Democrats

Charlie Cook: "At this point, eight months before the Nov. 4 election, it's hard to see a lot of good news for congressional Democrats. No matter how you look at it, the House seems out of reach. Today, Republicans appear a bit more likely to gain than to lose seats; it would take a cataclysmic event for Democrats to score the net gain of the 17 seats they need to take the majority. What's changed is that Democrats' chances of holding onto their majority in the Senate is looking increasingly tenuous. There are now at least 10, and potentially as many as 13, Democratic-held seats in jeopardy. By contrast, only two GOP seats are in any meaningful danger, and that number hasn't changed in six months. Things are starting to look grisly for Senate Democrats."

Quote of the Day

"They keep running these negative ads and crushing my integrity and distorting my votes and the like -- almost antagonizing me, challenging me to get in. Had they left me alone, I may feel a bit different. But they didn't."

-- Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), quoted by Politico, saying Democratic attacks make him more likely to run for Senate in New Hampshire.

Poor Image Not Hurting GOP in Midterms

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds Republicans "in a stronger position than Democrats in the states with Senate races this fall and more than holding their own in the battle for control of the House. In the 34 states with Senate races, 50% of voters say they favor Republicans and 42% favor Democrats."

"That is the case despite the Republican Party's poor image nationally and its deficit on some important issues. About two in three Americans say the GOP is out of touch 'with the concerns of most people in the United States today.'"

The poll also shows "broad dissatisfaction with Washington politicians. Just 22% say they are inclined to reelect their representatives in Congress. Almost seven in 10 Americans (68%) say they are inclined to look around for someone new this fall."

Archive: March 03, 2014

Booker In Good Shape

A new Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll in New Jersey finds Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) with solid approval ratings while the field of potential Republican opponents is largely unknown.

Key findings: "Currently, 47% of New Jersey voters approve of the job Booker is doing as U.S. Senator compared to just 20% who disapprove. Another 32% have no opinion."

In a possible general match up, Booker leads Murray Sabrin (R), 58% to 25%.

Hall Explains His Wrinkles

Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), the country's oldest U.S. House member at 90 years old, put out an advertisement that describes the politicals battles that caused the wrinkles on his face.

He closes: "And by gosh, I've got room for a few more wrinkles."

Taylor Launches Comeback as a Republican

Former Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS) told the Biloxi Sun Herald that it was "the dysfunction of Washington that drove him to seek a return to the job he held for two decades. This time, though, he'll be running as a Republican."

Said Taylor: "Like everybody else in South Mississippi, I look 1,100 miles up toward Washington and wonder what in the heck are these guys doing? None of them are cooperating. We have serious needs. They have voted to make our flood insurance more expensive, they have voted to cut the military. They furloughed federal employees while they continued to get paid. This is a democratic republic, it's all about majorities, it's all about working together to find common goals."

Beauprez to Run for Colorado Governor

Former Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-CO) is expected to enter the race for Colorado governor early next week, the Denver Post reports.

Beauprez, who lost the 2006 governor's race to Bill Ritter (D), could not be reached for comment Friday. His personal website now reads "coming soon" and "2014."

Astorino Running for New York Governor

The New York Daily News reports that Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino (R) "this weekend informed those close to him that he will run for governor, sources said. He is expected to make a formal public announcement sometime this week."

Archive: February 28, 2014

Car Stolen After Candidate Leaves Keys Inside

"Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan's car was stolen after her husband, Rhode Island gubernatorial candidate Clay Pell (D), left the keys inside," the AP reports.

"Pell was running late for an event when he dropped the keys to the Toyota Prius between the seats of the car, which was parked in front of the couple's East Side Providence home. Pell could not easily reach the keys. He closed the car door and left with Kwan for the event."

Democrats Land Top Recruit In Mississippi

Former Rep. Travis Childers (D-MS) "will be announcing he's running for the Senate, according to two sources familiar with his decision, giving Democrats a chance to capitalize on the Republican division within the state," National Journal reports.

"Childers, a Blue Dog Democrat, held a solidly-Republican House seat from 2008 to 2010, proving his ability to win over conservative voters despite his Democratic affiliation. Democrats are hoping that conservative state senator Chris McDaniel topples longtime Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) in a June primary - a development they believe will make the race highly competitive."

Rounds Way Ahead in South Dakota

A new Rasmussen Reports survey in South Dakota finds former Gov. Mike Rounds (R) has a commanding lead over Rick Weiland (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 51% to 31%.

Archive: February 27, 2014

Brown Announces Re-Election Bid in California

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) announced that he has taken out the papers to run for re-election, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Said Brown: "If you had asked me 40 years ago--when I first ran for governor--what I would be doing in 2014, I could never have guessed. Nor could anyone else. Yet, by the grace of God and habits of perseverance instilled in me by my family, the Dominican nuns and the Jesuits, I am here and ready to go."

Rangel Foe Tries Again

Adriano Espaillat (D) kicked off his rematch campaign against Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) this afternoon, "vowing to unify the district as he attempts to defeat the state's longest-serving congressman once again," the New York Observer reports.

"Espaillat came just over a 1,000 votes of beating Rangel two years ago in a vicious primary battle that oftentimes seemed to devolve into a war between the black and Hispanic alliances in the quickly-changing 13th Congressional District, which spans from Harlem though Washington Heights to the Bronx."

Pastor Will Not Run Again

Rep. Ed Pastor (D-AZ) announced he will not seek a 12th term in Congress, Roll Call reports.

"Pastor's district, located in the heart of downtown Phoenix, is not likely to switch party control. President Obama carried the district by a 45-point margin in 2012, making it one of the most heavily Democratic districts in the country."

For the full retirement list, plus those running for other offices, see Roll Call's Casualty List.

Cruz Won't Promise to Stay Out of Primaries

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) didn't rule out involvement in GOP primaries this year against incumbent Republican senators, The Hill reports.

Said Cruz: "What I have said is that I'm likely going to stay out of incumbent Republican primaries. I haven't put that in concrete."

Bonus Quote of the Day

"It's not like we're talking about Arlen Specter here. Sen. McConnell has a longstanding conservative record and for an opponent to beat him, they'll have to prove somehow that he's not a conservative."

-- Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), quoted by the Washington Post.

Republicans Expand the Map

First Read notes that what Cory Gardner (R) running for Senate in Colorado does is put more seats in the 2014 playing field for Republicans.

"The GOP no longer has to run the table of red states (Arkansas, Alaska, Louisiana, North Carolina) and hope that Democrats aren't able to pull off an upset in Georgia or Kentucky. Now the GOP has more margin for error by trying to pick off a race in Michigan or Colorado. And everyone is waiting to see if former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) runs for the Senate in New Hampshire, creating another potential pick-up opportunity for GOP. Back in the 2012 presidential race, we constantly pointed out how many more different paths to 270 electoral votes Barack Obama had than Mitt Romney did, which is why we and others always called him the favorite. Well, Senate Republicans have a similar advantage right now -- they have more paths to netting six pickups than Democrats do in blocking that gain."

"Think about this math: The GOP can lose both Georgia and Kentucky and still find eight Dem-held seats to net the six they need to win the majority."

Gray Leads in Washington, DC

A new NBC-Marist Poll shows Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) "leading in the race for this spring's mayoral Democratic primary, and that a majority of D.C. residents think the city is headed in the right direction. But the poll also shows that the race remains volatile and that Gray, the incumbent, does not have an easy path to victory."

Gray grabs 28% of lilkely voters in the poll, followed by Muriel Bowser at 20%, Jack Evans at 13% and Tommy Wells at 12%.

Senate Control at Tipping Point

Alan Abramowitz updates his generic ballot and finds the battle for control of the Senate is a toss up.

"Because there is a Democrat in the White House and Democrats have 21 seats at stake compared with only 15 seats for Republicans, the GOP is almost guaranteed to make gains in the 2014 Senate elections. Based on the generic ballot forecasting model, Democrats will need a cushion of at least five points on the generic ballot question in early September in order to have a better than 50/50 chance of keeping control of the Senate. The good news for Democrats is that any Republican majority in the 114th Senate is almost certain to be very narrow, and the Senate seats that are up for grabs in 2016 would give them an excellent chance of regaining control of the Senate in that year."

Archive: February 26, 2014

Republicans Have Edge Despite Party Divisions

A new New York Times/CBS News poll finds Republicans "are in a stronger position than Democrats for this year's midterm elections, benefiting from the support of self-described independents, even though the party itself is deeply divided and most Americans agree more with Democratic policy positions."

The generic ballot shows Republicans with a 42% to 39% lead.

Key finding: "There is a sense of foreboding in the public as well, with 63 percent of Americans saying the country is on the wrong track, and 57 percent indicating that they disapprove of Mr. Obama's handling of the economy. In addition, eight in 10 Americans are dissatisfied or angry with the way things are going in Washington."

Buck Swaps Races With Gardner in Colorado

Ken Buck (R) said he will drop his bid for U.S. Senate and instead pursue the 4th Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Cory Gardner (R), who is now running for U.S. Senate, the Greely Tribune reports.

Said Buck: "I have talked with Cory Gardner and feel that he would be a strong candidate for the United States Senate to beat Mark Udall. I made the decision to step down and endorse Cory for that job. I was running against Mark Udall because I think this country needed to change directions, and I still think the country needs to change directions, and I think Cory gives us the best chance to get that done."

Planned Parenthood Will Step Up Midterm Push

"The political arm of Planned Parenthood is preparing to launch its largest campaign offensive ever, targeting more than a dozen states and some of the cycle's top Senate and gubernatorial races to raise the alarm about the stakes of the 2014 midterms elections for women's health care and abortion rights," Politico reports.
"The cost of the midterm campaign is expected to cross the $18 million mark, including $2.4 million the group spent in 2013 for Virginia's off-year governor's race... That investment would make the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Planned Parenthood Votes - the national federation's political entities - some of the heaviest outside spenders on the Democratic side, and certainly among the top independent expenditure campaigns focused on reaching women."

Gardner Will Challenge Udall

Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) is planning to drop his re-election bid and run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen, Mark Udall (D-CO), the Denver Post has learned.

"Gardner is expected to make an announcement in a few days, according to two Republicans who spoke on background."

"Gardner is considered a rising star nationally in the Republican Party, and his likely accession into top leadership positions in the GOP-controlled House is one reason he earlier turned down efforts to convince him to jump into the race."

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

"I think what people - not just Kentucky, but the nation - are seeing is that Mitch McConnell, kind of like heating a biscuit twice, never tastes good the second time, no matter how much jam or jelly you put on it."

-- Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate Allison Lundergran Grimes (D), quoted by the Washington Post.

Walker's Big Hurdle to 2016

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) "is being hyped as a leading Republican presidential contender, but there is a more pressing concern for the first-term governor. Walker's 2014 reelection is no guarantee, and faces a serious challenge from one of the Democrats' stronger gubernatorial recruits this year," National Journal reports.

"A Walker defeat wouldn't be the first time a presidential contender lost an election right before their big opportunity. Republican Sen. George Allen of Virginia spent 2005 and part of 2006 getting eyed as presidential material--before his "macaca" moment and a Democratic wave turfed him out of elected office. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist was on some GOP presidential short lists in 2009, but he chose to run for Senate instead of reelection and ended up getting chased out of the Republican Party by Marco Rubio."

Graham Way Ahead in South Carolina

A new Winthrop Poll in South Carolina finds Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) "holds a commanding lead in the GOP primary to keep his seat in June, though he fell short of capturing 50% support to avoid a runoff."

Graham received 45% of likely Republican primary voters, followed by Lee Bright (R) at just 9%.

Dingell to Announce House Bid

David Hawkings: "If Debbie Dingell (D) wins the campaign she's formally launching on Friday -- a solid if not quite certain bet -- she'll make history in more than the obvious way. She would be keeping one House seat in the same family well into a ninth decade, but would also become the first person to ever come to Congress as the successor to a living spouse."

Smart Politics: "Over the last 90+ years, nearly 50 women have won elections or been appointed to seats in the upper or lower legislative chambers that were once held by their husbands. The only women to immediately follow their husbands into office and take over their seats were widows -- either by winning election to the U.S. House or receiving an appointment to the U.S. Senate after vacancies were created by the death of their spouses."

Corbett Trails in Re-Election Bid

A new Quinnipiac poll in Pennsylvania finds that voters say by a 55% to 34% margin that Gov. Tom Corbett (R) doesn't deserve re-election.

In possible match ups, Tom Wolf (D) tops Corbett by 52% to 33%, while Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D) leads Corbett 44% to 38%.

Said pollster Tim Malloy: "Tom Wolf springs out of the pack to seize the lead from other Democrats snapping at the heels of Tom Corbett. We have eight months and change and we don't know what kind of damage Democrats will inflict on each other in a primary campaign, but Wolf is the man of the hour."

A new Franklin & Marshall College Poll shows Wolf topping Schwartz 36% to 9%.

Republicans Hope Businessmen Can Retake the Senate

"Republicans are banking on businessmen to help them retake the Senate in 2014," The Hill reports.

"A half-dozen top GOP candidates boast records as wealthy businessmen and entrepreneurs. If voters decide they're successful job creators on Election Day, Republicans could be on their way to the six seats they need to win the upper chamber."

"But if Democrats can successfully tar the candidates as out-of-touch millionaires, as they've done in a number of past campaigns, their profiles could cost the GOP dearly."

Archive: February 25, 2014

Bonus Quote of the Day

"I welcome President Clinton back to Kentucky. Every time he's come its been really good for me."

-- Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), quoted by Roll Call.

Taking Obamacare Out of Context

The Week: "It's no secret that Republicans are pinning their midterm election hopes on ObamaCare."

"So it should be no surprise that the GOP has tried to cast virtually all news about the health care law as proof that ObamaCare will kill jobs and send insurance costs soaring. The only problem with that strategy is that the underlying arguments are often disingenuous."

Obamacare Dogs Hagan As She Runs for Re-Election

Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), "who has been under fire from conservatives over the federal health care law, refused on Monday to answer questions about what she knew about the laws limits," the Raleigh News and Observer reports.

"Like President Obama, Hagan said the Affordable Care Act would allow North Carolinians to keep their existing insurance plans if they liked them. The pledge proved false - and earned Obama PolitiFact's Lie of the Year honors. But the details about what Hagan knew about the law's limits and when she learned it remains unclear. Asked about it again Monday at a press conference in Raleigh, after she made her re-election bid official at the State Board of Elections, Hagan avoided the question."

Pete Kaliner: "I have no idea how Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan's news conference could've been worse except had she lit a baby bunny on fire while stomping on the American flag."

Braley Continues as Frontrunner in Iowa

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Iowa finds Bruce Braley (D) leading all of his possible Republican opponents by an average of seven points.

Key finding: "At least part of Braley's leads at this point is a product of name recognition: 56% of voters know enough about him to have formed an opinion, where none of the Republican hopefuls have more than 25% familiarity."

Clinton Campaigns in Kentucky

Bill Clinton "plans to address some 1,200 people at a sold-out fundraiser in Kentucky today on behalf of Senate hopeful Alison Lundergan-Grimes, bringing his political clout to one of the most closely watched and contentious Senate contests of this election cycle," ABC News reports.

Associated Press: "Clinton is the last Democratic presidential candidate to carry a swath of Southern states crucial to the 2014 midterms, including his native Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky and Louisiana. The former president remains in heavy demand as a fundraiser and adviser as his wife plans an upcoming book tour and considers how she may help Democrats this year."

Schatz and Hanabusa in a Dead Heat

A new Honolulu Civil Beat Poll shows Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) deadlocked in their Democratic U.S. Senate primary at 40% to 40%, with another 20% not sure who they'll vote for.

Said pollster Matt Fitch: "They are in a holding pattern. I think for many people this may be one of the more high-profile Senate primaries, and it is unusual because there is not a massive ideological division between the two candidates. They are two popular choices."

Tea Party Faces Test in Primaries

"After a series of defeats on Capitol Hill, the Republican Party's tea-party wing has shifted its attention to congressional primaries, setting up a major test of how much the movement's clout has been weakened," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"Primary elections, which start March 4, will help determine the balance of power between the Republican Party's business-friendly, establishment wing and the tea-party activists who first roared onto the scene five years ago by opposing President Barack Obama's proposed health-care overhaul."

Abercrombie Vulnerable to Primary Challenge

A new Honolulu Civil Beat Poll suggests that David Ige (D) has a shot at unseating Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) with both men tied at 37% each among likely Democratic primary voters. Another 26% are still undecided.

Said pollster Matt Fitch: "What you are seeing is rather a public way of expressing discontent with the governor rather than a serious strength on Ige's part. There are a couple of reasons. One, Ige's support actually outstrips those people who say they have a favorable impression of him. People don't really know him."

Archive: February 24, 2014

Candidate Wants Right to Shoot 'Wetbacks'

Texas U.S. Senate candidate Chris Mapp (R) told the Dallas Morning News that ranchers should be allowed to shoot on sight anyone illegally crossing the border on to their land and referred to such people as "wetbacks."

Mapp later defended his remarks to the San Antonio Express-News saying that use of the racial slur is as "normal as breathing air in South Texas."

He also called President Obama a "socialist son of a bitch."

Stockman Skipped Every GOP Primary for 10 Years

The Dallas Morning News reports Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX), running in a GOP primary against Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), "hasn't voted in a Republican primary in Texas since 2004.... That would mean Stockman didn't even vote for himself in the 2012 primary. That's not something you see every day in politics."

Capito Leads in West Virginia

A new Rasmussen survey in West Virginia finds Shelley Moore Capito (R) way ahead of Natalie Tennant (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 49% to 35%.

The 2014 Campaign Begins

First Read: "Indeed, call this week the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Midterm Olympics! Consider: Texans are currently voting for next week's primaries in the Lone Star State; Floridians are already casting absentee ballots in the March 11 special congressional election there; Illinois holds its primary the week after that (March 18); and former President Bill Clinton campaigns tomorrow for Alison Grimes in Kentucky's competitive Senate race. Oh, and the shadow of the 2016 presidential race -- at least on the GOP side -- creeps into the picture with the upcoming CPAC political conference in DC area taking place March 6-8."

"Folks, campaign season is now in full gear. And that's with even a Congress that's back at work (after its Presidents Day recess) and a President Obama back in D.C. (after his brief trip to Mexico last week), because both entities also are essentially in campaign mode for the next eight months, as we wrote last week. Congressional Republicans and the White House are punting anything political tough for their own political bases (immigration and Social Security) in order to avoid problems in this campaign year."

Dingell Will Retire

Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) will announce that he will not seek re-election, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Said Dingell: "I'm not going to be carried out feet first."

Wolf Apologizes for Posting X-Rays of Dead People

Kansas U.S. Senate challenger Milton Wolf (R) "sought forgiveness Sunday from anyone offended by his posting to Facebook of gory medical images of dead and injured people, and attacked primary rival Republican Sen. Pat Roberts for allegedly engaging in character assassination," the Topeka Capital Journal reports.

First Read: "By the way, as anyone familiar with politics knows, these stories don't arise by accident. It's a reminder that establishment Republicans are starting to take Wolf seriously, especially in light of the embarrassing residency issue for Roberts."

Cornyn Crushing Stockman in Primary Race

A new University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll finds Sen. John Cornyn (R) way ahead in the race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate with 62%, followed by Rep. Steve Stockman (R) at 16% and six other candidates in single digits.

Abbott Holds Wide Lead in Texas

A new University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll finds Greg Abbott (R) has an 11-point advantage over Wendy Davis (D) in the race for governor, 47% to 36%.

Quote of the Day

"My guess is that he would say to Alison Grimes, 'You know, I'll be for you or against you, whichever will help you the most.'"

-- Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D), quoted by the Washington Post, on whether President Obama will campaign in Kentucky.

Archive: February 23, 2014

Brown Not Close to Deciding on Senate Run

Politico looks at former Sen. Scott Brown's (R-MA) flirtations with making a comeback in New Hampshire.

"Half a dozen people who have spoken with Brown recently about his future say he is genuinely conflicted about whether to run. Several of them said Brown thinks he has until April to make up his mind, or possibly even closer to the June 13 filing deadline. But another person familiar with his thinking cautioned an announcement might come as early as the first week of March."

Candidate Posted X-Rays of Dead People Online

Kansas U.S. Senate candidate Milton Wolf (R) "posted a collection of gruesome X-ray images of gunshot fatalities and medical injuries to his Facebook page and participated in online commentary layered with macabre jokes and descriptions of carnage," the Topeka Capital Journal reports.

Wolf said in an interview "the medical images were legally uploaded to public social media sites and other online venues for educational purposes. They also served, he said, to demonstrate evil lurking in the world. However, Wolf and others viewing these Facebook postings relentlessly poked fun at the dead or wounded."

Wolf declined "to clearly answer questions about whether he continued to place images of deceased people on the Internet. He asked to keep copies of the Facebook posts shown to him, but when denied, he walked away."

Archive: February 21, 2014

Shaheen Holds Solid Lead in New Hampshire

A new Public Policy Polling survey in New Hampshire finds Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) leading possible challenger Scott Brown (R) by nine points, 47% to 38%.

Brown Calling Top New Hampshire Republicans

John DiStaso has confirmed that former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) "has been making calls this week to prominent New Hampshire Republicans."

"The two top New Hampshire GOP legislative leaders... told us this afternoon they were called by Brown this week. Neither would disclose details their private conversation, but we understand from others who were called that they were essentially courtesy, due diligence types of calls from Brown. And the takeaway was that Brown is serious about a potential run, but there remains no definitive word on when he will make a final decision."

Don't Expect Anything to Get Done This Year

First Read: "Both Democrats and Republicans have cleared the decks of anything that could divide their parties before the 2014 midterms. Republicans have essentially taken immigration off the table, as well as the threat of default or a government shutdown. Meanwhile, the White House has now removed chained CPI from its budget and slowed its push for fast-track authority. So both sides are deploying a do-no-harm strategy -- all with less than nine months before Election Day 2014. It's just the latest reminder that Washington is not going to get anything major done this year. It's not even March 1, and both parties are waving the policy white flags."

Brownback Vulnerable in Kansas

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Kansas finds Gov. Sam Brownback (R) trailing challenger Paul Davis (D) in his re-election race by two points, 42% to 40%.

Key finding: "Only 33% of voters in the state approve of the job Brownback is doing, compared to 51% who disapprove."

Candidate Gets Lecture After Cursing

California gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari (R) dropped a four-letter word on radio and was scolded by the producer, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Kashkari described himself as "the guy you send in when, pardon me, the shit is hitting the fan."

Said producer Julie Kingsley: "We don't cuss on the air... I wouldn't expect it from a gubernatorial candidate. You should know better than that."

Obama Says Democrats Must Make Midterms Sexy

President Obama warned that Democrats often don;t do well in the midterm elections because state-level races aren't as "sexy" as national presidential elections, The Hill reports.

Said Obama: "We know how to win national elections. But all too often it's during these midterms where we end up getting ourselves into trouble because, I guess we don't think it's sexy enough."

Archive: February 20, 2014

No GOP Frontrunner in Georgia Senate Race

A Hicks Evaluation Group/Apache Political Communications poll in Georgia finds a very close Republican Senate primary race.

David Perdue (R) leads with 13%, followed by Rep. Jack Kingston (R) and Paul Broun (R) at 11%, while Rep. Phil Gingrey (R) and Karen Handel (R) are at 10%.

The Oldest Congressional Candidate

"The Constitution mandates that the minimum age to serve in the U.S. House is 25. That won't be a problem for Joe Newman," USA Today reports.

"Newman, 101, is seeking the House seat held by Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) as a write-in candidate."

Democrats Gear Up to Defend Senate Majority

Washington Post: "Across the Democratic firmament, a sense of urgency is taking hold. At the White House, top officials are stepping up their efforts to coordinate strategy with Senate leaders. Democrats are particularly alarmed that Americans for Prosperity, a super PAC funded by the industrialist Koch brothers, has been pummeling vulnerable Democrats with $30 million in attack ads, most of them regarding the health-care law."

"But for the GOP, there's also a cautionary tale: In 2010 and 2012, gaffe-prone candidates lost winnable Senate races by alienating mainstream voters. Again this year, hard-fought primaries could yield weak nominees in Alaska, Georgia, Iowa or North Carolina..."

Sean Trende: How likely are Democrats to lose the Senate?

Quote of the Day

"If he is good enough for Ted Nugent, he is good enough for me!"

-- Sarah Palin, in a Facebook post, endorsing Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott (R).

Cruz Didn't Want to Throw His Party 'Under the Bus'

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that he did not want "to throw any of his colleagues under the bus by forcing a 60-vote threshold on a bill to increase the debt ceiling earlier this month," The Hill reports.

Said Cruz: "I'll tell you my response. My response is I don't want to throw any Republicans under the bus. I would like to see all 45 Republicans stand together and actually do what we tell our constituents."

He blamed "trickery" taking place during negotiations for Congress's low approval rating: "And listen, that sort of show vote, that sort of trickery to the constituents is why Congress has a 13-percent approval rating."

The GOP Has a Huge Advantage in the Midterm Elections

"For all their internal divisions and long-term worries as a party, political scientists and historical trends give Republicans a clear edge in the upcoming 2014 congressional elections," TPM reports.

"Forget Obamacare, forget the government shutdown and forget the skirmish over the minimum wage. While these issues are atop the political conversation, mid-term elections are better understood by fundamentals like the economy and presidential popularity, voter turnout tendencies and the specific dynamics at play in the House and Senate."

"In short, the deck is stacked against Democrats on Nov. 4, barring a drastic shift in the political landscape between now and then."

Archive: February 19, 2014

Edwards Seeks Political Comeback in Louisiana

Former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards (D), who spent 8 years in federal prison for racketeering, is running for Congress to fill the seat being vacated by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R), Bloomberg reports.

Said Edwards: "I'm just figuring out all the legalities and how to set up a super PAC, and then I'm going."

He added: "I'm the only hope the Democrats have here."

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

"He has all the intellectual horsepower of yogurt. But I admire his political skills. If Rick Scott could work a room like Charlie Crist, he'd be up by 25 points."

-- GOP strategist Rick Wilson, quoted by the Washington Post, on former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (D).

Cotton Leads in Arkansas

A new Impact Measurement Group poll in Arkansas finds Rep. Tom Cotton (R) leading Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) in their U.S. Senate race, 46% to 42%.

This is a small shift for Cotton compared to an Oct. 24 poll that had Cotton leading 43% to 41%.

Bonus Quote of the Day

"You know, I haven't seen him since he filed for office. It does strike me as a unique strategy."

-- Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), quoted by Slate, on his Republican primary challenger, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX).

Attacking Bill Clinton is More About 2014

First Read: "It should come to no one's surprise that the Conservative Media Complex's intent here is to knock Hillary Clinton, as well as feed the Clinton-fatigue narrative, with the assumption that she runs in 2016. But this 'Kill Bill' effort could have a short-term effect in 2014, too: hurt the red-state Democrats who are begging Bill Clinton to campaign for them. After all, aided by that ex-president halo, Bill is the one Democrat who can go almost anywhere (think Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina) and be an asset. In fact, a top Democratic strategist tells us that Clinton's favorable numbers are above 60% in all of the states having Senate contests in 2014."

"So what does reviving Monica Lewinsky/Paula Jones/Kathleen Willey do? It reminds conservatives why they didn't like Clinton in the first place. Dredging up Bill Clinton's past has never hurt Hillary Clinton; if anything, it has galvanized support for her. But it doesn't help Bill. Remember who the swing vote is many of these Senate races: older white women."

Aiona Tops Abercrombie in Hawaii

A new Hawaii News Now/Star Advertiser poll finds Duke Aiona (R) leading Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) in a possible match up for governor, 48% to 40%.

Something to watch: "A wildcard is Mufi Hannemann. The poll asked if Hannemann runs for Governor as Independent, are you likely to consider voting for him? 39% answered yes, 57% said no. Hannemann sees the results as a viable indication he could win a three-way race."

Kasich Can't Break Away from Unknown Challenger

A new Quinnipiac poll in Ohio finds Gov. John Kasich (R) holds a narrow lead over Ed FitzGerald (D) in the race for governor, 43% to 38%.

Said pollster Peter Brown: "The race to become Ohio's next governor is a five-point game, little changed from the seven-point spread in Quinnipiac University's last survey in November. Also unchanged, however, is how relatively few Ohioans - less than three in ten - know enough about Democratic favorite Ed Fitzgerald to have an opinion about him. That is a double-edged sword for the challenger: It indicates he has not made much headway in the past three months, but it provides him an opportunity to make up ground among the vast number of voters who are unfamiliar with him."

Franken Approval Matches Previous High

A new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll finds Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) with a 55% to 34% approval rating, matching a high-water mark reached last summer.

Archive: February 18, 2014

Senate Candidate Misled Investors

A jury on found North Carolina U.S. Senate candidate Greg Brannon (R) "misled two investors in a startup tech company he helped launch," the Raleigh News & Observer reports.

"The verdict against him came after eight hours of deliberation in a case spanned two weeks and will likely pose political problems for the Republican contender."

Cochran Dismisses Tea Party

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) told WLOX he wasn't trying to embrace the Tea Party even though he has a primary challenger in Chris McDaniel (R) who associates himself with the movement.

Said Cochram: "The Tea Party is something I don't really know a lot about. It's a free country. We have open opportunities for people to participate in the election process."

McDaniel responded: "It's a shame because the Tea Party is a mass movement of people that really care about this country."

Durbin Says GOP Has Cash Advantage in Midterms

The New York Times notes that "with Republicans giving up on the debt issue, and conservative advocacy groups overwhelming some candidates with television ads in crucial states, Democrats are growing nervous about the conditions in which this year's elections will be fought."

Said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL): "We're faced with a grim reality that more money is being spent earlier in some of these hot races than we've ever seen. We're spending some, but we can't keep up with them."

Bonus Quote of the Day

"Look at what we wound up with: Some bimbo who decided not to run again."

-- Former Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA), quoted by The Hill, on the decision by Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-CA) not to run again after she ousted Baca in 2012.

Rutherford Pulls All TV Ads

Illinois GOP gubernatorial candidate Dan Rutherford (R) -- who is under fire for sexual harassment allegations -- has sent notice to television media outlets that he is pulling his campaign ads, CBS Chicago reports.

"The statewide cancellation is effective immediately. However, campaign officials will decide to resume advertising later in the month, sources said."

Negrete McLeod Will Not Run Again

Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-CA) is not running for re-election, the Highland News reports.

Holt Will Retire

Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) announced that he will not be seeking re-election, the Newark Star Ledger reports.

"Holt, who lost the U.S. Senate primary in the special election to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg last year, said he would not be stepping away entirely from public life, but made no mention of his future plans."

Turtle Soup

Texas U.S. Senate candidate Dwayne Stovall (R) has a new ad out criticizing Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) for siding with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Says Stovall: "And you certainly don't do all this to please some guy who looks and fights like a turtle."

Republicans Say No Big Legislation This Year

Washington Post: "After a tumultuous week of party infighting and leadership stumbles, congressional Republicans are focused on calming their divided ranks in the months ahead, mostly by touting proposals that have wide backing within the GOP and shelving any big-ticket legislation for the rest of the year."

"Comprehensive immigration reform, tax reform, tweaks to the federal health-care law -- bipartisan deals on each are probably dead in the water for the rest of this Congress."

Stockman Gains on Cornyn

A new Human Events/Gravis poll in Texas finds Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) leading primary challenger Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX), 43% to 28%, with 29% undecided.

Said pollster Doug Kaplan: "These are dangerous numbers for Cornyn, because they show that despite his power in the Senate and his familiarity with the voters, he has not yet made the sale."

Archive: February 17, 2014

South Carolina Poised to Make History

"A record seven African-American candidates are running for statewide office in 2014. Some could be eliminated in June's primary elections, but it appears at least three black candidates will make it to November's general election," The State reports.

"South Carolina also is assured to elect its first African-American candidate in a statewide race since Reconstruction in one U.S. Senate race, where all three of the announced candidates are black."

Buck Remakes Himself as Female-Friendly Candidate

Colorado U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck (R) "is fighting back against the 'war on women' narrative that helped doom his Senate campaign in 2010. And the opening salvo in the battle to reclaim his name is coming in the form of a two-minute video entitled, Stephanie's Story," the Daily Caller reports.

"Aside from displaying a kinder, gentler Ken Buck, the video speaks to his interest in making policy... Buck promises this video is merely be the first in a series of maybe ten, or so, he will release."

Democrats Run to Fix Obamacare

New York Times: "As Democrats approach the 2014 midterm elections, they are grappling with an awkward reality: Their president's health care law -- passed almost entirely by Democrats -- remains a political liability in many states, threatening their ability to hold on to seats in the Senate and the House."

"As a result, party leaders have decided on an aggressive new strategy to address the widespread unease with the health care law, urging Democratic candidates to talk openly about the law's problems while also offering their own prescriptions to fix them."

Archive: February 16, 2014

Hanabusa Builds Primary Lead Over Schatz

A new Hawaii poll finds Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) has pulled ahead of Sen. Brian Schatz (D) in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, 48% to 40%, with 11% undecided.

Brown Leads Democratic Pack in Maryland

A new Baltimore Sun poll in Maryland finds Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D) has staked out a sizable lead in the Democratic contest for governor over Douglas Gansler (D), 35% to 14%, with Heather Mizeur (D) at 10%.

Hopwever, the primary race is far from decided as 40% of likely Democratic voters have yet to pick a candidate.

In the Republican primary, Larry Hogan (R) leads a crowded field with 13%.

Dayton Approval Hits New High in Minnesota

A new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll finds Gov. Mark Dayton (D) heads into re-election with the highest job approval rating of his term: 58% of Minnesotans think Dayton is doing a good job as governor, with 29% saying they disapprove.

"Those numbers come after the governor orchestrated an income tax increase on the wealthy and after the troubled rollout of the state's health care exchange that opponents hoped would diminish his popularity."

Archive: February 15, 2014

Franken Does a Surprise Interview

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) gave a rare national interview with CNN, The Hill reports.

"Franken is one of a few lawmakers on Capitol Hill who evades reporters. The others include Sens. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and David Vitter (R-LA)."

On the Fake Campaign Trail

McKay Coppins goes on "the fake campaign trail" with Donald Trump.

"The notion that he is simply too big -- too presidential -- for a measly job in the Albany Statehouse has temporarily quelled his insecurity. But after this morning, Trump can no longer escape the fact that his political 'career' -- a long con that the blustery billionaire has perpetrated on the country for 25 years by repeatedly pretending to consider various runs for office, only to bail out after generating hundreds of headlines -- finally appears to be on the brink of collapse."

"The reason: Nobody seems to believe him anymore."

A Trump aide told The Wrap that the interview was "dishonest and unfair" and that Trump was "totally unfazed by this article."

Vander Platts Will Not Run for Senate

"After weeks of buzz that he'd be the firecracker to reconfigure the U.S. Senate race in Iowa, religious conservative Bob Vander Plaats has decided not to run, citing a focus on his message of national spiritual revival," the Des Moines Register reports.

"His decision -- sure to disappoint both the far right and far left -- has been awaited for months as Republicans try mightily to find a candidate with the best chances of taking away a powerful seat that has been in Democratic hands for nearly 30 years."

Archive: February 14, 2014

Why the Democrats are Unlikely to Win Back House

First Read: "There are 17 House Republicans who represent congressional seats Obama won in 2012 -- so Democrats would need to win ALL of them to win back control of Congress, or a mixture of them and seats that Mitt Romney narrowly carried. Yes, Dems have pick-up opportunities in some open seats (CA-31, FL-13, IA-3, VA-10). And there are Republican incumbents who will have to play defense (Michael Grimm in NY, Jeff Denham in CA, Scott Rigell in VA). But Democrats have almost no margin of error. And we haven't even mentioned the pick-up opportunities Republicans have, which exist thanks mostly to retirements in Utah and North Carolina."

Meanwhile, National Journal looks at how tough it is to be in minority in the House.

Another Poll Shows Tight Kentucky Race

A new Wenzel Strategies (R) poll in Kentucky finds Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) barely ahead of challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes (D), 43% to 42%.

In the GOP primary, McConnell crushes challenger Matt Bevin (R), 59% to 17%.

Republicans Lead in Michigan

A new EPIC-MRA poll in Michigan finds Gov. Rick Snyder (R) leading Mark Schauer (D) in the race for governor, 47% to 39%.

In the U.S. Senate race, Terri Lynn Land (R) edges Gary Peters (D), 41% to 38%.

Rutherford Won't Release Report Ordered to Clear Him

llinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford (R) "ordered a taxpayer-funded investigation, vowing it would clear him of sexual harassment charges. Now, in a monumental about-face, Rutherford won't release the results," the Chicago Sun Times reports.

"The office's decision could mean the issue will continue to dog Rutherford for the remainder of his bid for the GOP gubernatorial primary nod."

Davis Spends Big on Obama Campaign Veterans

"Now that President Barack Obama has run his last race, veterans of all levels of his political team have found new green pastures in Texas, working as strategists, fund-raisers, pollsters and data wizards for Wendy Davis and the long-term effort to make the state competitive," the Dallas Morning News reports.

"The Davis campaign for governor and Battleground Texas, a group of former Obama political organizers assisting her, have spent more than $1.5 million on operatives and vendors who were part of Obama's national re-election effort... More than half the expenditures listed on the Wendy Davis for Governor report alone have gone to members of the president's 2012 political team. The services include such areas as fundraising, Web advertising, legal services and campaign buttons."

Archive: February 13, 2014

McConnell Sought Funding for Project He Criticized

Two years ago, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) "took to the Senate floor to deride President Obama for a speech that called for developing biofuel from algae -- dismissing it as nothing more than a pipe dream," the Louisville Courier-Journal reports.

Said McConnell: "I think the American people realize that a president who's out there talking about algae when they're having to choose between whether to buy groceries or to fill up the tank is the one who's out of touch."

"But a few years earlier, McConnell himself worked to obtain a $30 million grant for a company that wanted to build a plant in Springfield, Ky., to turn algae, switchgrass, corn cobs and other such materials into ethanol -- a plant that ultimately was never built and a grant that was never spent."

Hastings Will Retire

Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, announced that he won't seek reelection in 2014, the Washington Post reports.

"Hastings joined Congress after winning in the GOP wave election in 1994... His seat is considered likely to remain in GOP hands. It went 60-38 for Mitt Romney in the 2012 election."

Hastings is the 18th member of Congress to announce retirement this term, according to Roll Call.

Conservatives Launch Blistering Attack on McConnell

The Senate Conservatives Fund, founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), has launched the harshest attack yet on its top target, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Washington Examiner reports.

No Wave Building in 2014

Alan Abramowitz: "Democrats would need a very substantial lead on the pre-election generic ballot surveys, something in the vicinity of 12 to 14 points, to have a good chance of gaining the 17 House seats needed to regain control of the chamber. At this point, that appears highly unlikely -- no nonpartisan poll in the past year has shown a double-digit Democratic lead on the generic ballot. Moreover, no party holding the White House has gained anywhere near 17 seats in a midterm election in the past century. It seems highly unlikely that 2014 will see such a result."

"On the other hand, it also appears highly unlikely that Republicans will be able to significantly increase the size of their House majority in November. Right now, the most likely outcome of the House elections would appear to be a near standoff."

Washington Post: "Despite the turmoil that has hamstrung the House Republican majority for much of the past three years, Democrats acknowledge that their chances of retaking control of the chamber this year are slim to nonexistent. In fact, their most viable plan at this point may be to root for continued unrest in the GOP."

Griffin to Run for Lt. Gov in Arkansas

Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR), who months ago said he would not seek re-election in Arkansas' 2nd District, announced he is running for Lt. Governor in Arkansas, Roll Call reports.

Sink Leads in Special House Election

A new Tampa Bay Times poll in Florida finds Alex Sink (D) leading David Jolly (R) in the FL-13 special congressional election, 42% to 35%.

Interesting: "The poll also reveals how the Affordable Care Act has become a virtual litmus test for voters. Of those who support Sink, 81 percent also support Obamacare. Of those who support Jolly, 84 percent also oppose Obamacare."

Trump Again Flirts with Bid for Governor

"Amid a buzz of anticipation, Donald Trump once again flirted with a run for governor on Wednesday night, but stopped short of committing his money, time and oversize personality to stopping the re-election hopes of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo," the New York Times reports.

"Instead, Mr. Trump said he would run only if the Republican Party unified behind him -- 'The last thing you need is a primary' -- and asked him to take the nomination."

Said Trump: "If that were the case I would run. And I believe I would win."

However, a new Quinnipiac poll shows Cuomo crushing Trump in a match up, 63% to 26%.

Midterms Will Blow Away Campaign Spending Records

The Week: "Federal elections are enormous money pits, with campaigns and outside groups spending millions of dollars to influence the outcome. This year will be no exception. In fact, it could obliterate the record for midterm election spending, with looser finance rules, close contests, and a Tea Party insurrection all driving up the total amount of money spent on winning congressional seats."

Did Ted Cruz Cost Republicans the Senate?

The Week notes that when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) forced a cloture vote on a bill to lift the debt ceiling, he forced two senators facing Tea Party primary challengers -- Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) -- into a tough vote.

"The snap reaction from many political journalists was that the vote could endanger both lawmakers' jobs."

Archive: February 12, 2014

Warner Leads Gillespie in Virginia

A new Harper Polling survey in Virginia finds Sen. Mark Warner (D) leading challenger Ed Gillespie (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 44% to 38%.

Miller Will Quit Congress

Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA) announced he will not seek re-election, Roll Call reports.

"Miller, first elected in 1998, entered this cycle as the most vulnerable Republican up for re-election. He represents a southern California district President Barack Obama carried with 57 percent of the vote in 2012."

"In perhaps the top pickup opportunity for Democrats this cycle, the candidates already seeking the seat include Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar, attorney Eloise Gomez Reyes and former Rep. Joe Baca."

Davis Says She Could Have Backed an Abortion Ban

Wendy Davis (D) told the Dallas Morning News that "she would have supported a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, if the law adequately deferred to a woman and her doctor."

Davis came to prominence filibustering an abortion ban "drawing nationwide attention as a special session ended with a raucous crowd disrupting the Senate's consideration of the bill. Eventually, lawmakers approved the law in another session."

Super PAC War Chest Grows

Political Moneyline finds that super PACs -- which may accept unlimited size donations -- already have $63 million in cash ready to spend in the 2014 midterm elections.

Rutherford Repeatedly Roomed with Staffer

Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford (R) "routinely roomed overnight in hotels and a Chicago apartment with a low-level treasurer's office employee whom he has given a 50 percent pay hike, raising questions about the workplace judgment of the Republican candidate for governor," the Chicago Tribune reports.

Said Rutherford: "We double-bunk in the campaign. We always double-bunk when we can. Totally as a cost-saving measure."

Alexander Claims Huge Primary Lead

Sen. Lamar Alexander's (R-TN) campaign put out a polling memo claiming a three-to-one edge over his closest opponent in the Republican primary, the Tennessean reports.

Alexander leads Joe Carr (R) 62% to 17% among likely Republican primary voters. Other GOP candidates trailed farther behind with Brenda Lenard drawing 2% and Danny Paige, 1 %. Eighteen percent were undecided.

Taveras Slightly Ahead in Rhode Island

A new WPRI 12/Providence Journal poll in Rhode Island finds Angel Taveras (D) and Gina Raimondo (D) locked in a tight battle for the Democratic nomination for governor, with Taveras holding a slight lead, 31% to 27%, and political newcomer Clay Pell (D) at 15%.

However, an even larger share of primary voters - 25% - haven't decided whom they'll support in the September 9 primary.

Begich Holds Double-Digit Lead in Alaska

A new Hays Research poll in Alaska finds Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) leading Dan Sullivan (R) for U.S. Senate, 45% to 33%, with Joe Miller (I) at just 10%.

Capitol Hill in Election Mode

"Democrats and Republicans are clearing the decks of dangerous political issues that could sink their chances in the midterm elections," The Hill reports.

"This unusually cautious approach comes nine months before Election Day and illustrates how both parties are reluctant to tackle anything that doesn't poll well. With the battle for control of the Senate projected to be extremely close, neither side wants to drift into a sudden political storm."

Archive: February 11, 2014

Stockman Denies Jail Time He Once Admitted

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) accused a group that supports Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) of lying about him, by asserting that he had been "jailed more than once" and was "charged with a felony," the Dallas Morning News reports.

"That is strange, because Stockman has admitted to these facts, several times."

The Texas Tribune broke the story and has Stockman's mugshot from 1977.

Landrieu Clings to Small Lead in Louisiana

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Louisiana finds that the U.S. Senate race has tightened with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) ahead of Bill Cassidy (R) by just one point, 45%t o 44%.

Rauner Takes Lead in Illinois

A new Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll in Illinois finds Bruce Rauner (R) has jumped out to a big lead in the Republican race for governor after spending millions of dollars on television ads to introduce himself to Illinois voters.

The survey showed Rauner at 40%, followed by Bill Brady (R) at 20%, Dan Rutherford (R) at 13% and Kirk Dillard (R) at 11%.

Quote of the Day

"Probably not. I mean, I try to be really candid and honest on this show. The President's numbers are not strong in my state or in Arkansas or Louisiana or North Carolina. He did not win those states when he ran for re-election in 2012."

-- Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), quoted by TPM, on whether she would campaign with President Obama if she were up for re-elections his year.

Archive: February 10, 2014

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

"Uhh, because he asked me. He asked me when there was nobody else in the race. And I said yes."

-- Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), in an interview with Glenn Beck, on why he endorsed Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for re-election.

Kwan Stumps for Husband at Olympics

"Michelle Kwan is fitting in some time for political campaigning while she covers the Sochi Games," the AP reports.

"The two-time Olympic figure skating medalist is asking notable names to pose for a photo holding a pin supporting her husband for governor of Rhode Island. Clay Pell, a Democrat, announced his candidacy Jan. 27."

GOP Sees Senate Takeover Increasingly Likely

Politico: "Emboldened by the president's weak poll numbers, the botched Obamacare rollout and a still-sputtering economy, GOP donors and operatives are increasingly bullish about their prospects in the midterm election -- most of all capturing the Senate. Seats that a year ago looked like sure bets for Democrats now have the makings of real races -- in states such as Michigan, Virginia, and, if former Republican Sen. Scott Brown runs, New Hampshire."

"Worries last fall that the party would pay a heavy price at the ballot box for forcing the government to shut down have faded as quickly as attention has shifted to frustration with the health care law."

New York Times: "The Republican Party establishment, chastened by the realization that a string of unpredictable and unseasoned candidates cost them seats in Congress two elections in a row, is trying to head off potential political hazards wherever it can this year."

But David Freedlander thinks the GOP punting on immigration reform may help keep the Senate in Democratic hands.

Senate Appointment Not Likely to Help Walsh

David Hawkings: "Although John Walsh will become the newest senator on Tuesday, the historical record and the political temperature in Montana suggest he'll have no better chance of winning this fall's Senate race than he did before."

"The conventional wisdom is that Gov. Steve Bullock has done his hand-picked lieutenant governor and fellow Democrat a phenomenal favor by sending him to Washington now. The post offers guaranteed visibility that will enhance his name recognition, the benefits of being on the inside that will boost his fundraising and the powers of the job that will allow him to deliver in ways that will prove the power of incumbency impossible to beat. In fact, that's hardly been the rule in the past, and it hardly looks to be reliably the case this year."

Will Scott Brown Run?

Karen Tumulty isn't convinced former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) is looking to make a comeback in New Hampshire.

"If you spend any time around Brown these days, you don't come away with a sense that he has much appetite for undertaking a third tough Senate race in four years -- or for returning to a polarized capital he describes as broken."

Said Brown: "I'm really, quite honestly, a little unorganized... To just jump in and say I'm going to run for the United States Senate against a popular incumbent, it takes a little bit more than just winging it."

Roll Call: "New Hampshire Republicans seem anxiety-ridden over whether Brown will run; most sources approached for this story tabbed the chances of that at 50-50. If the well-known and potentially well-financed Brown opts out, many Republicans believe their chance to capture Democrat Jeanne Shaheen's seat will drop significantly."

Archive: February 09, 2014

Close Race for San Diego Mayor

A new SurveyUSA poll in San Diego, with half or more of voters having already returned a ballot, finds the mayoral race a dead heat with Kevin Faulconer (R) at 47% and David Alvarez (D) at 46%.

Archive: February 08, 2014

Roberts Tries to Renew Ties to Kansas

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) "went to Congress in 1981 and became a fixture: a member of the elite Alfalfa Club and the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which made him a regular on the Sunday talk shows. His wife became a real estate broker in Alexandria, Va., the suburb where the couple live, boasting of her 'extensive knowledge' of the area," the New York Times reports.

"Mr. Roberts is now desperate to re-establish ties to Kansas and to adjust his politics to fit the rise of the right in the state. But his efforts underscore the awkward reality of Republicans who, after coming of age in an era of comity and esteem for long-term service, are trying to remake themselves to be warriors for a Tea Party age."

Archive: February 07, 2014

Walsh Appointed to Replace Baucus

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) appointed Lt. Gov. John Walsh (D) to be the next senator from Montana, Roll Call reports.

Walsh will replace Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), who is leaving the Senate early after being confirmed as ambassador to China.

"Walsh was already running for the seat, but he'll now run as the incumbent senator. That change could provide some inherent advantages in his quest to hold one of the party's most vulnerable seats."

Cheney Exaggerated Her Campaign Fundraising

National Journal: "Despite telling reporters that she raised $1 million in the fourth quarter of 2013, Liz Cheney's Wyoming Senate campaign actually pulled in far less than that total and spent more than she raised during that time. The daughter of former President Dick Cheney dropped out of the race just days after the end of the fundraising period."

"Cheney raised just under $720,000 in the fourth quarter of 2013, but her campaign spent more than $900,000, FEC reports show. That profilgate spending was more than any other non-incumbent Senate candidate spent in the fourth quarter, and it explains why she ended the quarter with $183,000 less in the bank that she began it."

Ponzi Schemer Alleges Quid Pro Quo with Crist

"A convicted Ponzi schemer's court claims that Charlie Crist engaged in a contributions-for-favors 'quid pro quo' has come at a damaging time for the former governor who wants his old job back," the Miami Herald reports.

"Crist's campaign and defenders vociferously denied Scott Rothstein's testimony Wednesday and Thursday as the desperate act of a fraudster seeking to shave time off a 50-year prison sentence for the $1.4 billion Ponzi scheme he masterminded. But Rothstein's veracity aside, the political damage is tolling on Crist, who's also in the midst of a national book tour."

Tweet of the Day

Archive: February 06, 2014

Grimes Leads McConnell in Kentucky

A new Herald-Leader/WKYT Bluegrass Poll in Kentucky finds Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) holds a slim 4-point advantage over Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), 46% to 42%.

McConnell's approval rating is an abysmal 32% to 60%.

In the GOP primary, McConnell leads businessman Matt Bevin (R) 55% to 29%.

Forecast Says GOP Slightly Favored to Take Senate

The Monkey Cage finds Republicans with a 54% chance of retaking control of the U.S. Senate in this year's midterm elections.

"Our initial Senate forecast for 2014 suggested that Republicans had a solid chance of taking back the Senate.  Now we want to show how they can do it.  Our model suggests, in fact, if Republicans win the Senate elections in only four states -- Alaska, Louisiana, Iowa, and Montana -- then they are very likely to take control of the chamber."

Democrats Seek Presidential Fervor for Midterms

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee "is preparing its largest and most data-driven ground game yet, relying on an aggressive combination of voter registration, get out of the vote, and persuasion efforts," the New York Times reports.

"They hope to make the 2014 midterm election more closely resemble a presidential election year, when more traditional Democratic constituencies -- single women, minorities and young voters -- turn out to vote in higher numbers, said Guy Cecil, the committee's executive director."

For more in this, listen to our discussion with Teddy Goff, the mastermind behind the Obama campaign's digital efforts.

Republican Runs for Congress in Four States

David Hawkings: "There have been a fair share of congressional carpetbaggers in history, but Allan Levene may be the first to assemble an entire set of matched luggage. And he's using it to run this year for no fewer than four open House seats in four different states."

Numbers That Scare Senate Democrats

Karl Rove: "Three sets of numbers have emerged in recent weeks that bode ill for Democratic hopes to keep the U.S. Senate. The first came from new Federal Election Commission filings and news reports on campaign fundraising for the fourth quarter of 2013, and cash-on-hand on Dec. 31."

"The second troubling number for Democrats is Gallup's presidential job-approval rating, which was 42% the week ending last Sunday... Then there is the nonpartisan Congressional Quarterly's summary of last year's legislative voting patterns."

Archive: February 05, 2014

Obama Not Offended If Asked to Stay Away

President Obama told senators that he would not be offended if they asked him to stay away from their re-election races this year, the Washington Post reports.

Said one senator: "The president said that he is thoroughly committed to helping Democrats in tough races. He said he knew he is not popular in some of the states so he would not be offended if he were not invited to visit them this year. But he said he could be helpful in some parts of some states."

Hickenlooper Leads All Challengers

A new Quinnipiac poll in Colorado finds Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) holds a comfortable lead over his Republican challengers and gets good marks for trust, leadership and understanding their needs.

Said pollster Tim Malloy: "Those are three really important issues. The governor's pretty popular."

Hickenlooper leads Tom Tancredo (R), 48% to 39%, tops Scott Gessler (R) 46% to 40%, beats Greg Brophy (R) 47% to 37% and is ahead of Mike Kopp (R) 47% to 38%.

The poll also shows 52% of Coloradans approve of the job Hickenlooper is doing.

Crist Holds Solid Lead in Florida

A new University of Florida poll finds Charlie Crist (D) leading Gov. Rick Scott (R) in the race for governor, 47% to 40%.

The poll also shows that 95% of likely voters had either "a great deal of interest"€ (66%) or "a fair amount of interest"€ (29%) in the race.

Bonus Quote of the Day

"Let the Dems have their fun. No biggie."

-- Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), quoted by WMUR, after being criticized for appearing shirtless on the front page of New Hampshire's largest newspaper.

Dayton Picks Top Aide as Running Mate

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) has selected his longtime chief of staff Tina Smith to be his running mate as he begins his campaign for a second term, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

"In selecting Smith, Dayton has chosen a powerful deal-maker who has led the administration through some of it is most complex, high profile and politically dicey development projects of this term."

Gingrey Leads GOP Pack in Georgia

A new survey from The Polling Company finds Rep. Phil Gingrey (R) leading the Republican race for U.S. Senate in Georgia with 19%, followed by Karen Handel (R) at 14%, Rep. Paul Broun (R) at 13%, Rep. Jack Kingston (R) at 11% and David Perdue (R) at 8%.

"The close poll shows a wide-open field -- and potential for concern for establishment Republicans. Both Broun and Gingrey have a history of gaffes and are considered seriously flawed general election candidates."

Fluke Decides Against Congressional Bid

Activist Sandra Fluke (D) has decided against running for retiring Rep. Henry Waxman's (D-CA) congressional seat, instead planning a bid for the state Senate, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Said Fluke: "While I strongly considered offering my candidacy for Congress, I feel there is a better way for me to advance the causes that are important to our community."

Begich Holds Small Leads Over Possible Challengers

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Alaska finds Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) "continues to lead his potential Republican opponents for reelection by small margins, and that third party candidates could play a spoiler role in helping him win this fall."

Crist Holds Small Edge in Florida

A new Gravis Marketing poll in Florida finds Charlie Crist (D) leading Gov. Rick Scott (R) by three points, 47% to 44%.

Archive: February 04, 2014

Vulnerable Democrats Usually Voted with Obama

Every vulnerable Senate Democrat up for re-election in 2014 voted with President Obama at least 90% of the time in 2013, according to Roll Call.

Griffith Back in the Fold as a Democrat

Multipe sources tell WHNT that former Rep. Parker Griffith "is on the verge of announcing his candidacy for governor of Alabama, and as a member of the party he famously abandoned just four years ago."

"The Alabama Democratic Party recently voted to reinstate Griffith, clearing the way for a gubernatorial run that we're told will likely be announced before Friday's qualifying deadline."

Archive: February 03, 2014

Republicans Defend Tricky Websites

"Republicans are defending a series of websites they established that appear to support Democratic candidates for Congress, but instead direct contributions to the GOP," NBC News reports.

"The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) said its websites were not confusing, and accused Democrats of crying foul because their candidates were struggling."

The Week: Republicans resort to trickery to outfox Democrats

Dead Heat in Kentucky

A new Rasmussen survey in Kentucky finds Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) deadlocked with Alison Lundergran Grimes (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 42% to 42%.

Quinn Trails All Challengers in Illinois

A new Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll in Illinois finds Gov. Pat Quinn (D) trailing all four of his potential Republican challengers.

Bill Brady (R) leads Quinn 48% to 39%, Kirk Dillard (R) and Dan Rutherford (R) are ahead 46% to 37% and Bruce Rauner (R) leads 47% to 39%.

Bonus Quote of the Day

"No way it happens. I just don't see it going anywhere. I think 2014 is a slam dunk to us otherwise and this would really piss off the base."

-- A House Republican aide, quoted by TPM, on the prospects for immigration refrorm.

Ellmers Notes Aiken Couldn't Even Win 'American Idol'

Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) apparently isn't worried about a potential challenge from American Idol runner up Clay Aiken, the Raleigh News & Observer reports.

Said Ellmers: "Apparently his performing career isn't going so well and he's bored... As we know he doesn't always fare all that well. He was runner up."

Headline of the Day

"GOP governor candidate denies unknown allegations"

-- Chicago Tribune, February 3, 2014

Wendy Davis Bungles Her Campaign

Dave Mann: "I'll concede here at the beginning that I've never worked on a political campaign. Nor do I have any experience in media relations, publicity, political communication or whatever else flacks do. I don't know the nuances of trying to defuse controversy with a speech. But I have covered many political campaigns in Texas the past decade, so I know what it looks like when a campaign handles the press well."

"And the Wendy Davis operation is about the worst at media relations that I've ever seen. Her team's mismanagement of the press is damaging her candidacy."

Brown Takes the Penquin Plunge

Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), who is mulling a Senate bid from New Hampshire, makes the front page of the New Hampshire Union Leader with a shirtless photo of him taking part in the "Penquin Plunge" to benefit the Special Olympics.

Will Push for Clinton Hurt Democrats in 2014?

"The formidable campaign apparatus that has sprung up to support a possible 2016 presidential bid by Hillary Clinton is rattling some Democrats, sparking concerns that it could suppress competition for the party nomination and siphon money from candidates running in the midterm elections this fall," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"With Democrats fighting to keep control of the Senate in the midterms, the emergence of the pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA could eat into donations that the party's candidates need to win in November, some Democrats warn. A number of Democratic groups are soliciting donors for money, including super PACS devoted to House and Senate races along with traditional party fundraising committees."

Watts, Lankford Lead for Coburn Seat

A new Harper Polling survey in Oklahoma finds a possible tight GOP Senate primary race to replace Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) with J.C. Watts (R) edging James Lankford (R), 40% to 37%, with James Weger (R) way back at 8%.

Democrats Hold Early Edge in Fundraising

"The top Democratic candidates in the 52 most competitive House races reported raising $42.3 million in 2013, topping the $34.8 million for the top GOP candidates in those races," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"Democratic candidates also begin the year with more money in the bank. Democrats in the most competitive races reported they had a total of $30.9 million to spend on their campaigns at the end of 2013. That was $6.3 million more than the top Republicans in those races."

Archive: January 31, 2014

Inside the Landrieu Family Business

New York Times: "Both Senator and Mayor Landrieu face re-election this year in campaigns that are complicated by the currents of race and history that run through this state, but also by national factors, chief among which is President Obama."

"The confluence of the campaigns has created an existential moment for a Democratic dynasty that has become the reigning political family in a state that has been home to the Longs, the Morials and the Boggses. There has been an infusion of money from the conservative Koch brothers, complaints of White House interference and accusations that national Republicans with an eye on winning control of the Senate are meddling in the mayor's race to tarnish the Landrieu name among the family's crucial power base of black voters."

Outside Money Pours Into Florida Special Election

More than $4 million in outside money has flooded Florida's special congressional election, the AP reports.

"The flurry of spending illustrates the outsized role outside groups are expected to play in the midterm elections. Disclosure of the new spending comes a day before federal candidates have to report how much money they raised and spent on their own last year in the run-up to November's elections. That's when voters will determine the balance of power in the House and Senate. Thirty-six governors' offices also are up for grabs."

Archive: January 30, 2014

Maher Will Try to Oust a Congressman

"Bill Maher makes little effort to hide his own contempt for many politicians, most of them Republicans. Now, he wants to take it to the next level: finding one he might be able to help oust from office," the New York Times reports.

"On his weekly HBO talk show, Real Time With Bill Maher, on Friday night, Mr. Maher and his staff plan to ask viewers to make a case for their individual representatives in the House to be selected as the worst in the country."

"After some culling and analysis, one member of Congress will be selected, and the show will follow up through November with examples of what it considers terrible work by that representative. Mr. Maher will make occasional visits to that member's district to perform stand-up and generally stir up hostile feelings toward the show's target."

Sandra Fluke Mulls House Bid

Attorney and women's rights activist Sandra Fluke, who came to prominence after Rush Limbaugh called her a slut, told KPCC that she's considering running for the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA).

Said Fluke: "I'm flattered that I'm being discussed as a potential candidate. A number of folks I respect very deeply have reached out today and encouraged me to run. I am strongly considering running."

Pelosi Will Run Again

Despite speculation she might retire, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced she would run for re-election, Roll Call reports.

Said Pelosi: "I'm running. I've already started the paperwork process. My work is not finished."

Waxman to Retire from Congress

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), "whose legislative record has made him one of the country's most influential liberal lawmakers for four decades, announced Thursday that he will retire from his Westside seat, the latest in a wave of departures that is remaking the state's long-stable congressional delegation," the Los Angeles Times reports.

Roll Call: "Waxman is now the 17th member of the House and 7th Democrat to announce retirement this cycle. He and fellow California Democratic Rep. George Miller, who is also retiring this year, were the last remaining of the Watergate class of 1974 serving their 20th terms in the House."

Crist Holds Solid Lead in Florida

A new Quinnipiac poll in Florida finds Charlie Crist (D) leading Gov. Rick Scott (R) by eight points in the governor's race, 46% to 38%.

Said pollster Peter Brown: "The best number in this poll for Crist -- and the biggest problem for Scott -- is that a majority of Florida voters say the current governor does not deserve a second term in Tallahassee. Voters also give Crist a higher job approval for when he ran the state than any approval rating Scott has received in his three years on the job."

Should Democrats Cede House to Save Senate?

Politico: "With Democrats' grasp on the Senate increasingly tenuous -- and the House all but beyond reach -- some top party donors and strategists are moving to do something in the midterm election as painful as it is coldblooded: Admit the House can't be won and go all in to save the Senate."

"The triage idea is taking hold in phone conversations among donors and in strategy sessions between party operatives. Even some of the people who have invested the most to get House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi back into the speaker's chair are moving in that direction."

Archive: January 29, 2014

Crist Gets a Campaign Manager

Tampa Bay Times: "This is not officially confirmed yet, but we hear that Charlie Crist is poised to hire veteran political operative Omar Khan as campaign manager for his Democratic campaign for Florida governor, Who?, some of you may ask."

"Khan is not an A-list campaign campaign manager that one might expect for a marquee race like Florida's gubernatorial campaign. Not sure he's ever run a campaign, for that matter."

Obama Approval is a Problem for Senate Democrats

National Journal: "Republicans need to capture six seats to win control of the Senate, and Democrats have to defend five deep-red states--Arkansas, Alaska, Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia--where Obama's approval rating was at or below 35 percent in 2013... In the past 10 years, just nine senators of the president's party have won elections in states where presidential approval slips below the national average, according to a review of exit polls and election results since 2004."

"Not a single Republican victory is assured in 2014, and Democrats have solid candidates defending most of their seats. But recent history underscores how difficult it will be to defend so many Senate seats that lean so strongly against the leader of their party."

Bonus Quote of the Day

"Are you better off than you were 29 years ago?"
-- Rep John Yarmuth (D-KY), quoted by Greg Sargent, making the case against Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Nunn Leads All Rivals in Georgia

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Georgia finds Michelle Nunn (D) leading all four potential GOP rivals for U.S. Senate.

Nunn edges Rep. Paul Broun (R), 42% to 41%, tops Rep. Jack Kingston (R), 44% to 42%, beats Karen Handel (R), 44% to 40%, and leads Rep. Phil Gingrey (R), 45% to 41%.

McConnell In Tight Race

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Kentucky finds Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) just head of challenger Alison Lundergran Grimes (D), 45% to 44%.

McConnell's approval rate is just 37%, with 51% of voters disapproving.

Trump Says He's Ready to Run for Governor

Donald Trump said he is "ready, willing and able" to run for New York governor but will not do so if anybody else -- such as Westchester Country executive Rob Astorino (R) -- enters the GOP race, the New York Daily News reports.

Said Trump: "I really want unity. I want to go in there right from the beginning and I want to go in swinging right from the beginning. I don't want to be knocking Rob or knocking anybody else to win a primary."

The GOP Dark Horse

Josh Kraushaar notes "there's one candidate who isn't generating much buzz and whose résumé compares favorably with any of the top-tier candidates. He's a battleground-state governor who's looking in strong position to win a second term. He defeated one of the more popular Democratic governors in the country, who happened to be a major Clinton ally. He's from the Midwest, likely to be the critical region in the 2016 presidential election. He entered office as a prominent fiscal conservative but compromised on Medicaid expansion. And most important, Republican officials familiar with his thinking say he's seriously considering a presidential campaign."

"Enter Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the swing-state executive who's currently polling at microscopic levels nationally but who could have an outsized impact on the 2016 race."

Archive: January 28, 2014

Pell Will Run for Rhode Island Governor

Clay Pell (D), the 32-year-old grandson of a six-term U.S. senator -- and husband of former Olympic figure-skater Michelle Kwan -- is running for governor of Rhode Island, the Providence Journal reports.

"A newcomer to Rhode Island politics, Pell faces two of the rising stars in the state Democratic Party in the September 2014 primary: Gen. Treas. Gina Raimondo, 42, and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, 43. Both have political resumes and million-dollar campaign funds."

New Poll Gives Democrats Slight Edge for Congress

A Fox News poll gave Republicans a two-point lead in the generic congressional ballot but a new NBC/WSJ poll has Democrats ahead by two points, 45% to 43%.

Warner Backs Warner in Virginia

Former Sen. John Warner (R-VA) endorsed his Democratic successor and onetime rival Mark Warner (D) in his race against Ed Gillespie (R), Politico reports.

Race for San Diego Mayor Tightens

A new SurveyUSA poll in San Diego finds Kevin Faulconer (R) leading David Alvarez (D) by just five points in the race for mayor, 49% to 44%.

"But among Independents and among moderates, Alvarez still trails. A Democrat rarely wins an election, even a bi-partisan election, without the support of moderates, and today Alvarez trails by 12 there. Among Independents, Alvarez has made no inroads against Faulconer."

Kingston Locks In Early Ad Buy

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) "showed he can raise money. Now he's showing how he will spend it, putting out a press release this afternoon advertising a $1.289 million television ad buy for the run-up to the May 20 primary," the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

"The Senate-seeking Congressman from Savannah is not going on the air right away, but is locking down rates well in advance -- before other campaigns and Super PACs drive up the prices."

Archive: January 27, 2014

Republicans Hold Edge in Generic Ballot

A new Fox News poll finds Republican candidates hold a slim two-percentage point advantage when voters are asked about their preference for Congress, 43% to 41%.

Walker Leads in Wisconsin

A new Marquette Law School Poll in Wisconsin finds Gov. Scott Walker (R) leading Democratic candidate Mary Burke (D), 47% to 41%. The poll also finds that most voters think the state is headed in the right direction and believe the state budget to be in better shape than a few years ago.

Democrats Unlikely to Take Back the House

New York Times: "With the 2014 political landscape becoming more defined, it is increasingly likely that the midterm elections in November will maintain divided government in the capital for the final two years of President Obama's second term, with the chief unknown being exactly how divided it will be."

"A review of competitive congressional contests suggests that, at the moment, Republicans will hold on to the House, though Democrats could defy midterm history and gain a few seats. Senate Democrats, at the same time, are defending unfavorable terrain and will almost certainly see their majority narrowed. They are at risk of losing it altogether, an outcome that would leave Capitol Hill entirely in Republican control for the conclusion of Mr. Obama's presidency."

Archive: January 25, 2014

Nunn Stakes Bid on Changing Georgia

With $3.3 million in the bank, Michelle Nunn (D) is her party's "best hope in an open race to replace Senator Saxby Chambliss, a Republican, who is retiring," the New York Times reports.

"Her campaign will test whether the rapidly changing demographics of Georgia -- where state elections data show that the white vote dropped to 61 percent of the total in 2012 from 75 percent in 2000 -- have shifted enough to return a Democrat to Washington. And it will reveal how much legacy still matters in politics."

Archive: January 24, 2014

10 House Rematches to Watch

The Fix sees 10 competitive rematches taking place for congressional seats this year.

"Several incumbents will be facing the person they unseated or a challenger who tried, but failed, in previous cycles to defeat them. In some instances, a displaced former lawmaker is vying again for their old seat, but in other situations the same challenger is showing up to challenge the incumbent."

The Nearly Invisible Crist Campaign

Adam Smith: "It may not be readily apparent if you follow the Florida media that constantly notes Charlie Crist's campaign for governor or the Washington pundits who describe Charlie Crist vs. Rick Scott as THE race to watch in 2014. But here's the reality: There is no real Crist campaign for governor."

"Sure, he announced a couple days ago that Barack Obama campaign manager Jim Messina is on board, and Obama's digital director, Teddy Goff, has signed on too. Obamaworld has opened up a bunch of Democratic fundraising doors from Hollywood and beyond."

"But it's been nearly three months since Crist officially announced his candidacy and at least 10 since everyone knew he was preparing to do just that. Where the rubber meets the road: there is for all purposes no Charlie Crist campaign except for a fundraising operation that so far appears fine but hardly daunting."

Aiken Prepping Congressional Bid

Pop singer Clay Aiken (D) is assembling a political team for a run at the Democratic nomination in North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District, sources told WRAL News.

Roll Call: "But his candidacy is being met with skepticism by some Tar Heel State Democrats, who are holding out hope of making it a race in this Republican-leaning district."

Archive: January 23, 2014

Warner Ahead by Double-Digits in Virginia

A new Christopher Newport University poll in Virginia shows Sen. Mark Warner (D) leading challenger Ed Gillespie (R) by 20 points, 50% to 30%.

The poll also gives Warner a 63% job approval rating.

Race for Senate Control is a Toss Up

Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball says Republicans have roughly a 50-50 shot to gain the six seats they need to win control of the U.S. Senate in this year's midterm elections.

"We now favor Republicans in four Democratic-held seats: Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia, as well as -- in a ratings change -- Arkansas, where Sen. Mark Pryor (D) appears to be at least a slight underdog to Rep. Tom Cotton (R) in a reddening state. Assuming Republicans can win those, they have roughly even odds to win in three other states where there are Democratic incumbents: Alaska, which we've long classified as a Toss-up, and Louisiana and North Carolina, which we're switching back to Toss-ups after having them in that category for much of last year. It's possible that the race for the Senate will come down to these three Toss-ups, with the party that wins at least two of the three controlling the Senate. And that doesn't even mention the lower-tier races in lighter shades of Red and Blue that adorn the map below, most of which are currently held by Democrats."

A Political Wire reader sends an interesting simulation based on Cook Political Report ratings that shows Republicans with a 47% chance to take control.

Archive: January 22, 2014

Coakley Holds Early Lead in Massachusetts

A new WBUR poll in Massachusetts finds Martha Coakley (D) has the early advantage in the governor's race and leads Charlie Baker (R) by double-digits, 39% to 29%.

Said pollster Steve Koczela: "She is doing very well among, particularly, women over the age of 50. They really are responding to what she has to say and have a very positive view of her so far."

However, Baker "leads among women -- and leads overall -- in head-to-head matchups with four other Democrats vying for the governor's chair."

GOP Candidate Says God is Punishing Us

Illinois congressional candidate Susanne Atanus (R) told the Chicago Daily Herald that she "believes God controls the weather and has put tornadoes and diseases such as autism and dementia on earth as punishment for gay rights and legalized abortions."

Said Atanus: "I am a conservative Republican and I believe in God first. God is angry. We are provoking him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions. Same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS. If it's in our military it will weaken our military. We need to respect God."

Where Is Steve Stockman?

Daily Beast: "The Tea Party Texas congressman challenging incumbent Republican Sen. John Cornyn in March's primary is the new invisible man of American politics. The Texas congressman hasn't shown up on Capitol Hill for a vote since January 9. Instead, he has made only sporadic public appearances, surfacing once in North Dallas on January 14 and then a few days later in Cairo. In between, Stockman missed key votes in Washington, including the omnibus budget. His spokeman, Donny Ferguson, has not responded to inquiries on the Congressman's whereabouts."

How Obamacare Can Help Democrats in 2014

"The GOP has made opposition to Obamacare a central pillar of its 2014 campaign strategy. And even though the health care law has begun to turn around, that may not be such a bad idea given lingering public skepticism over the law," The Week reports.

"However, there is one crucial piece of Obamacare that may well become a big winner for Democrats by the end of the year: The dramatic expansion of Medicaid. Unlike the overall law, the expansion of Medicaid is actually quite popular with voters of all political stripes."

Greg Sargent notes how red state Democrats are handling the law: "They are not embracing Obamcare. But they oppose repeal, and they are standing behind the general goal of expanding coverage to those who can't afford it."

Kashkari Enters Race for California Governor

Neel Kashkari (R), who led the bank bailout during the Bush administration, announced his bid to unseat California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), the Sacramento Bee reports.

"His platform could appeal to many moderate Republicans, but Kashkari's ability to raise sufficient money to broadcast it statewide is uncertain. Not only is Brown collecting millions of dollars from labor unions and other liberal allies, but his relatively moderate fiscal and environmental polices have endeared him to business interests on which GOP candidates could once rely. With the third-term governor heavily favored to win re-election, potential donors - many of them with business before the state - may not risk upsetting Brown by giving to any Republican in the race."

Crist Holds Small Lead in Florida

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Florida shows a tight gubernatorial race between Charlie Crist (D) and Gov. Rick Scott (R), 43% to 41%.

Podesta Sharpens White House Message

"John Podesta's fingerprints are all over the White House agenda just three weeks into his tenure," The Hill reports.

"The White House has focused on income inequality and executive action since President Obama's new adviser came on at the beginning of the year -- demonstrating a singlemindedness often missing during a rocky 2013."

"Both issues were championed by Podesta as effective ways to score victories over congressional Republicans and motivate the Democratic base ahead of the midterm elections, where the Democratic majority in the Senate is in peril."

Meanwhile, Politico notes the White House "is trying to dial down the partisan rhetoric on immigration -- and it's asking its allies to do the same."

Archive: January 21, 2014

Warner Holds Commanding Lead in Virginia

A new Roanoke College poll in Virginia finds Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) solidly ahead of challenger Ed Gillespie (R), 50% to 21%.

Said pollster Harry Wilson: "Given that 75% don't know enough about Gillespie to have an either favorable or unfavorable opinion of him, it is no surprise he trails Mark Warner so decisively. There is plenty of time for that to change as the state gets to know him. In politics, 10 months is an eternity."

Is Someone Impersonating a Michigan Candidate?

National Review: "Something funny seems to be going on in a Michigan congressional race. Either a Democratic candidate with national-party backing, challenging Republican incumbent Dan Benishek, has an impersonator with access to his cell phone, or his campaign is pressuring a local paper to edit his quotes."

Can Facebook Predict Control of the Senate?

Politico notes that in 2012 "eight out of nine toss-up Senate races were won by the candidate with the more engaged Facebook fan base. And in the 2012 House elections, 20 of the 33 most competitive races across the country were won by the candidate with a measurable Facebook fan engagement advantage."

"The correlation between growing fan base, higher fan engagement and victory on Election Day led us to ask this question: Are Facebook metrics a crystal ball that can be used to predict election outcomes?"

"So far, we have trained our forecasting model on four key Senate elections in North Carolina, Alaska, Kentucky and Michigan. In those races, our two-party contest Facebook model shows Republicans potentially picking up one seat."

Messina to Help Crist

Politico: "Obama's campaign manager is signing on to help former Republican Charlie Crist return to the Florida governor's office as a Democrat. Jim Messina is joining Crist's campaign as a senior strategic adviser, providing big-picture advice as the race gets under way."

Republicans See Expanded Map in 2014

President Obama's "sagging approval ratings and the rocky health-law rollout are expanding the map of competitive Senate races this year, giving Republicans new hope of capturing seats in states that the president carried in 2012," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"The GOP already had a strong opportunity to pick up a net six seats to win a Senate majority. Democrats have to defend many more seats than Republicans, including in seven states that Mr. Obama lost in 2012. Now, polls show tighter-than-expected races for Democratic-held seats in Colorado, Iowa and Michigan, while a formidable Republican is challenging the Democratic incumbent in Virginia and another is weighing a bid in New Hampshire. In 2012, Mr. Obama won all five of those states."

Davis Clarifies Her Life Story

Wendy Davis (D), "the Texas state senator who has shaped her campaign for governor largely around her story of rising from a teenage single mother to a Harvard law graduate, released a chronology of her life on Monday after a Dallas newspaper said that she had blurred some details about her past," the New York Times reports.

Washington Post: "The up-from-nowhere narrative, which emerged during an 11-hour filibuster she staged in June to oppose abortion restrictions, has been a central part of her candidacy and appeal, helping to boost her national profile and fundraising efforts. But the Dallas Morning News reveals a more complicated narrative."

Archive: January 20, 2014

6 Governors Races to Watch

The Week: "Thanks to the dysfunction in Washington, D.C., the state capitols are increasingly becoming the places to get things done. Furthermore, governors have tremendous power to set priorities and carry out federal mandates like health care reform. And for political watchers, there is this simple fact: The results of these races will be seen as a harbinger of what's to come in the next presidential election."

Quote of the Day

"Remember all politics is local. Talk about local issues, talk about your identification with the district, don't get tied to the Obama administration."

-- Former Rep. Martin Frost (D-TX), quoted by ABC News, giving advice to Democrats running in 2014.

Majority Would Re-Elect Cuomo

A new Siena poll in New York finds Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) remains popular, with two-thirds saying they viewed him favorably and a solid majority -- 57% -- said they were ready to re-elect him.

"Mr. Cuomo also had a much better reputation among voters than two of his possible Republican opponents. The poll found that Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive, is largely unknown by state voters and would be handily defeated in a head-to-head matchup with Mr. Cuomo. And Donald Trump, the real estate developer and reality television star, is very well known -- but largely disliked; the poll found 57% had an unfavorable impression of him. Mr. Cuomo would best Mr. Trump with 70% of the vote, the poll said."

Archive: January 19, 2014

Lankford Will Run for Coburn's Seat

Rep. James Lankford (R-OK) "has decided to run for the seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and may announce his intentions as early as Monday," the Oklahoman reports.

Holes Poked in Wendy Davis Bio

Dallas Morning News: "Wendy Davis has made her personal story of struggle and success a centerpiece of her campaign to become the first Democrat elected governor of Texas in almost a quarter-century. While her state Senate filibuster last year captured national attention, it is her biography -- a divorced teenage mother living in a trailer who earned her way to Harvard and political achievement -- that her team is using to attract voters and boost fundraising."

"The basic elements of the narrative are true, but the full story of Davis' life is more complicated, as often happens when public figures aim to define themselves. In the shorthand version that has developed, some facts have been blurred."

Archive: January 18, 2014

Brown in Unofficial Campaign Mode

"Ricocheting across the state in recent days, Gov. Jerry Brown laid out a case for his reelection in a tour that had all the hallmarks of a campaign rollout," the Los Angeles Times reports.

"He hit media markets home to the bulk of California's population, highlighted the state's improved finances and took hours of questions from reporters. He continued to be coy about his reelection intentions, saying politics did not interest him -- a man who has spent 29 years of his life as an elected official and ran for president three times."

Free-for-All to Replace Coburn

"News that Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn will retire at the end of 2014, triggering a special election for his deep-red Senate seat in November, creates an unexpected opportunity for the deep bench of Oklahoma GOP pols to seek a higher office," Politico reports.

"That means the Republican primary to replace Coburn could be a free-for-all."

The Oklahoman has local reaction to Coburn's decision.

Archive: January 17, 2014

Coburn Will Resign Early

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) will resign after the current session of Congress, foregoing the final two years of his term, The Oklahoman reports.

Roll Call: "Coburn had already pledged not to seek another term in the Senate come 2016, but his announcement Thursday will open the seat ahead of schedule. Coburn is waging a fourth battle with cancer, and people in the state have been aware that Coburn might give up the seat ahead of schedule. Oklahoma will need to hold a special election to fill the seat."

Archive: January 16, 2014

Jolly Grabs Early Lead Over Sink

A new St. Pete Polls survey finds David Jolly (R) leading Alex Sink (D) in the special election in Florida's 13 congressional district, 47% to 43%.

"Fueling Jolly's lead over Sink are his favorability numbers. Voters in this Pinellas seat hold a 46% to 35% favorable rating of Jolly, while Sink is a mixed bag at 48% to 43% favorable."

Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball changed its race rating to "Leans Democratic."

Archive: January 15, 2014

McConnell Ahead in Re-Election Race

A new Human Events-Gravis Marketing poll in Kentucky finds Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) leading challenger Allison Lundergran Grimes (D) by five points, 42% to 37%.

McConnell also leads GOP primary challenger Matt Bevin (R) by double-digits, 53% to 31%.

McKeon Will Not Run Again

Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) will retire and not seek re-election, The Hill reports.

"Democrats are hopeful they can compete for McKeon's slightly Republican-leaning now that he's retiring. McKeon's Southern California district leans slightly Republican, and President Obama won 48 percent of the vote there in 2012. Lee Rogers (D), who held McKeon to under 55 percent of the vote in 2012, is running again and had $180,000 in the bank as of the end of September."

Topic A: Defense: Retirement sets up battle for House Armed Services chairmanship.

Look Who Has a New Website

Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) has a new website and it sure looks like he's running for something.

A new Public Policy Polling survey shows Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) leading Brown in a U.S. Senate match up, 46% to 43%.

Candidate Said Spousal Rape Shouldn't be a Crime

Dick Black (R), running in the GOP primary to replace longtime Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), opposed making spousal rape a crime, Mother Jones reports.

He cited the impossibility of convicting a husband accused of raping his wife "when they're living together, sleeping in the same bed, she's in a nightie, and so forth."

Obama's Plan to Keep Senate Control

Politico says President Obama "has a plan to save the Senate's tenuous Democratic majority: Sell a populist message, try to make Obamacare work better and raise lots of cash."

"And unlike previous years when Senate Democrats were mostly left to fight on their own, the White House is wasting no time coordinating its political and policy agenda with congressional leaders and vulnerable lawmakers."

Moran Won't Seek Reelection

Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) will not seek another term in Congress, The Hill reports.

"The 12-term congressman represents the heavily Democratic Washington, D.C., suburbs of Arlington and Alexandria, and his seat is sure to remain in Democratic hands."

All About Obama for House Republicans

"It's just two weeks into 2014, but House Republicans are already convinced that the key to winning November's elections is to talk about President Obama as much as possible," Politico reports.

"In public and private discussions, Obama remains the single-minded obsession of all top House Republicans. They can't get through a sentence without mentioning Obama or Obamacare. When top Republican leaders gathered last weekend at a boutique inn outside Washington for their annual planning retreat, the bulk of the conversation centered on Obamacare and presenting alternatives to what they consider Democrats' failed economic policies."

Democrats Worry About Unanswered Ads

"Democrats are increasingly anxious about an onslaught of television ads hitting vulnerable Senate and House candidates for their support of the new health law, since many lack the resources to fight back in the early stages of the midterm campaign," the New York Times reports.

"The unusually aggressive early run of television ads, which has been supplemented by other conservative initiatives, has gone largely unanswered, and strategists in both parties agree it is taking a toll on its targets."

Hagan Avoids Obama Visit to North Carolina

Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) is skipping President Obama's visit to her home state, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"The notable absence at Obama's first trip outside the Beltway in this election year highlights a perennial quandary for embattled candidates and less-than-popular presidents. With a battle for control of the Senate looming and the president's approval rating deflated, Democrats and the White House will spend much of this year grappling with whether their most vulnerable candidates will be helped or harmed by a visit from Obama and how to keep those candidates some distance -- but not too far -- from the president."

Archive: January 14, 2014

Branstad to Seek 6th Term

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) "is expected to kick off a historic, juggernaut campaign for re-election that many political analysts suspect will be a cakewalk, even though a majority of Iowans think the Republican has been in office long enough," the Des Moines Register reports.

"Iowa Democrats' inability to produce a big-name challenger, and Branstad's high popularity and job approval ratings, mean the governor's in a strong position, strategists say."

Jolly vs. Sink in Florida Special Election

David Jolly (R) has defeated two GOP rivals to win his party's nomination in the race to replace the late Rep. C.W. Bill Young in Florida's 13th District, Roll Call reports.

"Jolly will face former state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink in the March 11 general election in this St. Petersburg-based district. This special election marks the first truly competitive special election of the cycle, and many political insiders view it as a bellwether for the cycle."

Democrat in South Carolina Has Troubled Past

Jay Stamper (D), the lone Democratic candidate in South Carolina's U.S. Senate race is a felon, the Columbia State reports.

"Grudging and reluctant support has come from some corners of Stampers' own party after revelations he pleaded guilty to three felony charges associated with the illegal sale of securities in 2006. Stamper was ordered to repay millions of dollars and said at Monday's meeting that $600,000 of that came from his own pocket. Stamper called the incident "a business mistake I made several years ago,' and said securities laws are very complicated, and he acted on advice from two teams of lawyers."

The Dangerous Dozen

Stu Rothenberg lists his "dangerous dozen," the open House seats most-likely to switch party control in this year's elections.

Archive: January 13, 2014

Miller Calls it Quits

Rep. George Miller (D-CA) is stepping down at the end of this year after four decades in Congress, Politico reports.

"Miller's decision is a personal loss for Pelosi and is sure to be seen as a blow to Democrats. But Miller said his retirement has everything to do with having reached the 40-year mark in Congress and is no reflection on his party's chances of regaining power in the House in November."

Roll Call: "California's 11th District is safe Democratic territory. President Barack Obama won here by a 38-point margin in 2012."

Who Does John McCain Admire?

The Washington Post compiles a list of people whom Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is a "great admirer."

Trump Says There's an Even Chance He'll Run for Governor

Donald Trump told Fox News there's a 50-50 chance he'll run for governor of New York.

Said Trump: "A group of people, a great group, a big group of people, over 50 just came in to my office and I was very honored by it. As you know, the state of New York is doing very, very poorly. Tremendous unemployment. Tremendous. And the highest taxes in the United States. So, they are talking to me. And I have given them certain ideas and certain parameters. And we will see what happens. But certainly it's something I'm considering and I will make a decision pretty much by the end of the month or early February."

Bonus Quote of the Day

"I'm not even sure if she still lives in the state."

-- Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK), in a Huffington Post interview, saying he has "no worry or fear" of Sarah Palin challenging him in the U.S. Senate race, adding, "I'm not sure she even knows what's going on."

Kingston Blasted for Free Lunches

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) "is facing heat back at home for using taxpayer dollars to pay for staff lunches while criticizing school-lunch programs for poor students," The Hill reports.

"Kingston, who's running for the Senate, stirred controversy in December for suggesting there 'should be no such thing as a free lunch' for poor children who receive federally-funded lunches at school, suggesting they 'sweep the floor in the cafeteria' in exchange for the food."

Now, WSAV has found that Kingston's staff "spent $4,200 of taxpayer money on free lunches in the last three years and $4,300 from outside groups, not counting expenses incurred on international trips."

Sink Favored to Win Florida Special Election

Politico: "It's been framed as the clearest barometer of the public's mood heading into this year's midterms: a special election battle for a 50-50 congressional district in the famously 50-50 state of Florida. But upon closer inspection, the race for Florida's 13th Congressional District, occupied by Republican Bill Young for more than four decades until his death in October, is not quite the bellwether it's being portrayed as."

"More than a dozen operatives and officials from both parties interviewed by Politico were almost unanimous that Democrat Alex Sink, her party's 2010 nominee for Florida governor, has emerged as the unambiguous favorite in the race. The primary, in which Sink has run unopposed as a group of Republicans have slugged it out, is on Tuesday. The general election is on March 11."

Archive: January 12, 2014

Republican Way Ahead for San Diego Mayor

A new U-T San Diego/10News poll in San Diego finds Kevin Faulconer (R) has opened a commanding lead over David Alvarez (D) in the mayor's race, 53% to 37%, with 10% still undecided.

Early voting begins Monday for the February 11 runoff.

Poll Shows Deal With Big Lead in Georgia

Although we had a poll yesterday showing a much tighter race for Georgia governor, a new Insider Advantage survey finds Gov. Nathan Deal (R) comfortably ahead of challenger Jason Carter (D), 44% to 22%.

Archive: January 11, 2014

Deal Leads for Georgia Governor

A new Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll in Georgia finds Gov. Nathan Deal (R) leading Jason Carter (D) in the race for governor by nine points, 47% to 38%.

Archive: January 10, 2014

Jolly Leading in Florida Special Election GOP Primary

Two new polls show David Jolly (R) leading his GOP rivals in Tuesday's primary to replace the late Rep. Bill Young (R).

A Gravis Marketing survey finds Jolly with a 6-point lead over Kathleen Peters (R), 34% to 28%.

A St. Pete Polls survey finds Jolly with an 11-point lead over Peters, 39% to 28%.

Illinois Republican Flip-Flop-Flips

Chicago Sun Times: "First, Bruce Rauner (R) seemed to say he favored cutting the state's $8.25-an-hour minimum wage. Then, he retreated from those 'flippant' remarks made in December and said this week he favors increasing pay for Illinois' poorest workers to as much as $10 an hour."

"On Thursday came yet another twist in the Republican gubernatorial candidate's confusing and evolving stance on a vital issue affecting 1.1 million Illinois workers: a September video in which Rauner said he 'adamantly, adamantly' opposes raising the minimum wage."

Archive: January 09, 2014

Gillespie Readies Virginia Senate Bid

Former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie (R) "has told senior members of his party that he will challenge Senator Mark R. Warner of Virginia and announce his candidacy as early as next week, giving Republicans a top-tier candidate in what has become one of the nation's most competitive swing states," the New York Times reports.

"The bid by Mr. Gillespie, a longtime party operative turned lobbyist with ties to both Republican grass-roots and establishment wings, also underlines the intent of more mainstream Virginia Republicans to take back control of the party after a Tea Party-backed candidate lost the governorship."

Why It Might be a Republican Year

Larry Sabato: "Another midterm election beckons, and over the next 10 months we'll see headlines about a thousand supposedly critical developments--the "game changers" and the "tipping points." But we all know there aren't a thousand powerful drivers of the vote. I'd argue that three factors are paramount: the president, the economy and the election playing field. And, at least preliminarily, those three factors seem to be pointing toward Republican gains in both houses in the 2014 midterms."

McConnell Slams Bevin for Being Unprepared

Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) campaign released a brutal video attack on primary challenger Matt Bevin (R).

No More Middle

First Read: "Congress is about to get more polarized in the Senate with all the retirements of moderates and look at the House, a place most would think couldn't get MORE ideologically divided. Just in the last month, on the Republican side, there have been the retirements of Virginia's Frank Wolf, Iowa's Tom Latham, and Pennsylvania's Jim Gerlach. On the Democratic side, out are North Carolina's Mike McIntyre (announced yesterday) and Utah's Jim Matheson. If you toss in Arkansas' Tim Griffin and New Jersey's Jon Runyan, and the pool of congressional members willing to vote with the other side is shrinking. Whatever's left of the middle or the pragmatic caucus is disappearing. And there wasn't much of a middle to begin with. Every one of these retiring members is going to be replaced by someone more partisan. It doesn't matter which party wins control overall, the two parties, ideologically, will be farther apart and that guarantees even more gridlock."

GOP Pushes New Effort to Tackle Poverty

"Prominent Republicans are working to recast the party's message about tackling poverty and boosting the middle class amid concerns that a relentless focus on the troubles of Obamacare will not be enough to guarantee electoral success," the Los Angeles Times reports.

"The move seeks to address widespread public anxiety about the uneven economic recovery, a topic that Democrats have largely had to themselves in recent months. But even as party strategists push for a higher-profile approach, conservative lawmakers face a difficult challenge in crafting a message that appeals to middle-income and working-class voters while maintaining support among the party base."

"It's the latest acknowledgment that Republicans' traditional emphasis on fiscal austerity and smaller government -- while popular among grass-roots conservatives and gospel to much of their House majority -- has been difficult to sell among the broader electorate."

Archive: January 08, 2014

Two More House Retirements

Roll Call: "Two longtime House Democrats -- Reps. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Carolyn McCarthy of New York -- will not seek re-election in 2014, according to a Democratic aides."

Chamber of Commerce vs. the Tea Party

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will step up its election-year efforts to challenge Tea Party candidates in Republican primaries and back candidates who favor trade, energy development and immigration reform, Bloomberg reports.

Many House Republicans Face Primaries

First Read reports that more than half of the National Republican Campaign Committee's "Young Gun" candidates "are locked in primaries... And about half of the most vulnerable House Democrats running for re-election in 2014 are facing Republican challengers locked in a GOP primary."

However, the Cook Political Report's David Wasserman believes that these Republican primaries could ultimately influence just a handful of general-election contests: "It will only be a problem for Republicans if problematic candidates emerge -- and so far there are only a few primaries brewing where there is a 'problem' on the horizon."

Drama Threatens GOP Seat in Florida

The Hill looks at the drama unfolding in Florida's 13th congressional district special election:

"The GOP race to replace the late Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.) has become a political soap opera that could jeopardize Republicans' hold on the seat. It has all the makings of a daytime drama: a widow disavowing her son due to opposing primary allegiances and a secret family kept hidden for decades only to surface a week before the contentious primary. And with an important swing district at stake, it's the messy, public family feud that's another added worry for the party ahead of Tuesday's Republican primary, for which GOP leaders, and the Young family, are far from unified."

Archive: January 07, 2014

Cheney's Miscalculation

The New York Times notes that while Liz Cheney cited "serious health issues" in her family as the reason for dropping her Senate race, her problems were much larger.

"She ran in a state that she had not lived in for decades rather than in her longtime home state, Virginia, she targeted a genial and well-liked incumbent with no glaring ideological vulnerabilities, and she carried the banner of a hawkish foreign policy at a moment when a more restrained approach to national security is ascendant in the Republican Party. Further, she prompted an ugly and public split with her lesbian sister, Mary, by declaring her opposition to same-sex marriage -- and was nevertheless attacked with television ads by a third-party conservative group over gay rights. Most of all, though, Ms. Cheney miscalculated the degree to which her father's popularity among conservatives was transferable to her own race."

Income Gap Highlighted Ahead of Midterm Elections

Washington Post: "On Tuesday morning, Senate Republicans are expected to block an emergency measure to extend unemployment insurance. Soon after, President Obama will stand before a handful of the 1.3 million Americans who have begun to lose their benefits and try to shame Republicans for failing to help the nation's neediest."

"A similar political dynamic is likely to play out in the weeks and months to come as both parties battle to address mounting concerns over economic fairness and the growing gap between the rich and the poor."

Archive: January 06, 2014

Bonus Quote of the Day

"We have tremendous respect for Liz's decision. She and her entire family are in our thoughts and prayers."

-- Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), quoted by the Casper Star Tribune, on Liz Cheney dropping her Senate primary challenge due to "serious health issues" in her family.

Gerlach Calls it Quits

Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA) announced he will not seek re-election in 2014, marking yet another moderate House Republican to leave Congress, Roll Call reports.

Gerlach's departure gives Democrats a decent opportunity to pick up the seat as Mitt Romney carried the district with just 51% in 2012.

PoliticsPA: "Gerlach was a Democratic target in 2012, but redistricting made his seat even safer for the Republican, but from the 2002 until the 2010 election, Gerlach's district was one of the nation's most competitive."

Cheney Proved Name is Not Enough

Rick Klein: "The end of Cheney-for-Senate marks an early stumble in a year that may be defined by political dynasties -- some with more than legacy-defining stakes on the line. Aside from the abandoned bid by this daughter of the former vice president, two grandsons of former presidents (H.W. Bush and Carter) are seeking their first statewide offices this year, and there's even a Clinton-in-law who wants her old House seat back. The candidates are using the famous names in different ways and to varied effect. But the Cheney campaign's failure to connect with Wyoming Republicans -- the family health issues she's citing aside -- stands as a lesson that no name is big enough to carry an election without an argument and strong rationale for a candidacy. It's also a reminder that national names aren't necessary bigger than those of obscure lawmakers, even in the state a family has called home."

Cheney Will Drop Out of Wyoming Senate Race

Liz Cheney (R) will drop her U.S. Senate primary challenge against Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), sources are telling news outlets including the Casper Star-Tribune.

Cheney made the decision after "a recent incident involving a close member of Cheney's immediate family prompted her to reconsider the race, among other factors," Politico reports.

Said Cheney: "Serious health issues have recently arisen in our family, and under the circumstances, I have decided to discontinue my campaign. My children and their futures were the motivation for our campaign and their health and well-being will always be my overriding priority."

Congress Looks Ahead to Pre-Election Battles

"Congress comes back to session this week with leaders of both parties planning a war of words in 2014 -- dueling agendas that promise little substantive legislation but lots of messages aimed at establishing clear contrasts for voters heading toward the midterm election," the Los Angeles Times reports.

"After they dispatch a few must-pass fiscal measures early in the year, legislators seem unlikely to put together major accomplishments. Rather, the Republican-led House and the Democratic-controlled Senate will essentially become something like sound stages for the advertising wars that will unfold in the handful of states and districts that could decide partisan control of the next Congress."

"The agendas reflect a basic reality of the modern Congress -- much of what lawmakers do does not include actually making laws."

Wall Street Journal: "Members of Congress returning to work this week are plunging immediately into policy battles that will shape their campaigns for the November elections."

House Republicans Weigh Ambition vs. Caution

"As House Republicans return to Washington for the new year, their leaders must decide how ambitious the party will be in the 10 months before their majority faces voters in November," The Hill reports.

"The smart money is on a cautious election-year strategy, favoring targeted, politically safe legislation over more contentious drives to reform the tax code, overhaul immigration policy and advance a long-awaited conservative alternative to the new healthcare law."

David Drucker: "Republican campaign strategists view the troubled Obamacare as unqualified electoral gold."

Democrats Look to Obama for Fundraising

Roll Call: "As Democrats look this cycle to hold their Senate majority and pick up seats in the House, the party is staring down an unpredictable political atmosphere with a president whose job approval starts 2014 underwater. But even as Republicans tether Democrats to Obama on policy, the president remains a vital fundraising asset for the party's effort to hold its ground in the midterm elections."

Players to Watch in 2014

"Billionaires, super PACs and nonprofits are gearing up for another round of intraparty fighting that will shape the direction of their respective parties for years to come," Politico reports.

"On the Republican side, the business wing of the GOP establishment has declared war on elements of the party's base -- convinced that the religious right's focus on social issues is costing swing votes and that tea partiers are playing a dangerous game of chicken with the U.S. economy. Those conservative activists, on the other hand, are determined to rid their party of the moderates and compromisers who they say are empowering President Barack Obama and standing in the way of meaningful conservative reform."

"Democrats -- less prone recently to pitched battles about the direction of the party in the age of Obama -- are also showing early signs of a growing split over the future of the party."

Archive: January 04, 2014

Seagal May Run for Arizona Governor

Actor Steven Seagal told KNXV-TV that he is considering a run for Arizona governor.

"According to Seagal, the number one problem facing the U.S. is its open borders. He also came to the defense of Sheriff Arpaio, as well the prospect of extending amnesty to undocumented immigrants living in the U.S."

The GOP Decision in 2014

National Review: "The question for Republicans in 2014 is whether they want to have a Duck Dynasty election or an Obamacare election."

An Insult Running for Senate

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) "might be the closest thing in this election year to a middle finger running for the U.S. Senate by itself," the Washington Post reports.

"This man is running for the Senate in a state with 26 million people. By conventional measures, he is not doing it well. One recent poll had him down by 44 points... But Stockman seems to be betting -- again -- on his talents for nation-scale insult comedy, for grabbing free publicity with over-the-top attacks on the hard right's enemies."

Archive: January 03, 2014

The Senate Will Only Get More Polarized

Ron Brownstein: "It's too early to confidently predict which party will hold the U.S. Senate after the November election. But it's a safe bet the next Senate will more closely reflect the nation's entrenched red-blue presidential divide. And that's a recipe for even more polarization and gridlock."

"This year's races will likely provide more evidence of voters' growing inclination to support Senate candidates from the same party as that of their presidential choice. This has made it much tougher than a generation ago for either party to elect senators from states that typically back the other side in presidential elections."

"The tightening correlation between presidential and Senate voting represents a back-to-the-future trend in national politics. Through the first half of the 20th century, party-line voting was common. After Franklin Roosevelt's first two victories in 1932 and 1936, for instance, Democrats held 89 percent of the Senate seats in the 40 states that supported him both times."

Archive: January 02, 2014

Edwards May Run for Congress

Former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards (D), who spent eight years in federal prison after being convicted of racketeering and extortion, is considering a bid for Congress in Louisiana's 6th district, the Hay Ride reports.

Edwards, 86, is mulling a bid for the seat being vacated by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) because he believes the field is weak.

Lawmaker Will Do Push Ups for Cash

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) told potential donors that he would do a push up for every dollar donated to his campaign in the last two days of 2013, the Denver Post reports.

Said Coffman: "This coming election is going to be the toughest of my career and I need your help to get fit for the fight."

Climate to be Policy Battleground in 2014

"Climate change and energy will be a major policy battleground in the 2014 midterms, advocates on both sides of the issue promise," The Hill reports.

"Energy and environmental issues are expected to take a front seat in dozens of races across the country, from coal country in West Virginia and Kentucky to the Gulf Coast, where Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) faces a tough reelection race just as she prepares to take up the chairmanship of the Senate Energy Committee."

New York Times: "Behind the scenes, Secretary of State John Kerry has initiated a push to focus on global warming."

Quote of the Day

"I think there's an increased level of people wanting an alternative to the Republican-Democrat thing."

-- Former Sen. Larry Pressler (R-SD), quoted by the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, announcing he'll run for Senate as an independent.

Why Voters May Keep-the-Bums-In

"After a highly contentious, hugely unproductive session, members of the most unpopular Congress in history will face voters this year and, very likely, win reelection in overwhelming numbers," notes the Los Angeles Times.

"It is a paradox of these discontented times... Public opinion surveys show contempt for Congress reaching unprecedented levels. But as much as they dislike their own representatives, Democrats and Republicans hold members of the opposite party in even lower regard."

"That selective outrage works against the sort of throw-the-bums-out election that would produce wholesale, across-the-board upheaval in the House."

Hawaii Primary Divides Democrats

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) "had a deathbed wish: that Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) would appoint his protegee, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D), to replace him in the Senate. But Abercrombie upended this island state's political order by tapping the younger Brian Schatz, then the lieutenant governor," the Washington Post reports.

"Now, a year after Inouye's death, the former senator's ghost lingers large over a bitter feud that is dividing Democrats along ethnic and generational lines here in President Obama's birthplace. With the outspoken support of Inouye's widow, Hanabusa is giving up her House seat to challenge Schatz in the 2014 primary."

Archive: December 31, 2013

Quote of the Day

"It's going to be a rough one, but, you know, it's like shooting crap. Either you win or you lose; you just can't stay even with the first shot."

-- Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), quoted by Politico, on his re-election bid in 2014.

Schweitzer Ignored Inspector General's Report

As Montana governor, Brian Schweitzer (D) said "he threw away the 2010 U.S. Army inspector general's report concluding that Adj. Gen. and now Lt. Gov. John Walsh had improperly used his position in the Montana National Guard for personal gain," the Helena Independent Record reports.

Said Schweitzer: "I treated it with the respect it deserved. I put it in the round file."

Walsh is one of three Democrats running for the U.S. Senate in 2014 and the disclosure of the investigative report is being used by his opponents.

Archive: December 30, 2013

Another Democrat Jumps Into Race for Ohio Governor

Todd Portune (D) told WCPO that he will challenge Ed Fitzgerald (D) in a Democratic party primary for governor of Ohio in May.

"Fitzgerald's campaign to challenge Republican incumbent John Kasich hit a rough spot late in 2013 when his running mate for lieutenant governor, State Senator Eric Kearney withdrew from the race under pressure surrounding poor vetting. Even with that bump in Fitzgerald's road, he has somewhat of a head start against Portune. Fitzgerald officially kicked off his campaign for the state office on Aug. 24."

Congressman Files for Re-Election in Wrong District

Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) "filed a statement of candidacy this week for his re-election campaign," the Sacramento Bee reports.

"But instead of listing the 39th congressional district he has represented since winning re-election in 2012, he listed the 40th congressional district, the number of the district he represented during the 2000's."

Quote of the Day

"As to how to stay involved, I'll be very blunt. I knew exactly what I needed to say after 2010 to rebuild a career in Democratic politics. I also knew exactly what I needed to say to become a Republican superstar in 2013. But in neither case was I willing to say and spout the things that would make smart party politics."

-- Former Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL), quoted by the Birmingham News, on why he hasn't yet launched a political comeback as a Republican.

Democrats Build 2014 Strategy Around Minimum Wage

"Democratic Party leaders, bruised by months of attacks on the new health care program, have found an issue they believe can lift their fortunes both locally and nationally in 2014: an increase in the minimum wage," the New York Times reports.

"The effort to take advantage of growing populism among voters in both parties is being coordinated by officials from the White House, labor unions and liberal advocacy groups."

"In a series of strategy meetings and conference calls among them in recent weeks, they have focused on two levels: an effort to raise the federal minimum wage, which will be pushed by President Obama and congressional leaders, and a campaign to place state-level minimum wage proposals on the ballot in states with hotly contested congressional races."

Wonk Wire: "The minimum wage will rise in 13 states this week, and as many as 11 states and Washington, D.C., are expected to consider increases in 2014."

GOP Path to Senate Majority Runs Through Tea Party

"Republicans count enough competitive races to challenge Democrats for control of the Senate in the 2014 elections, if only they can figure out what to do with the tea party," the AP reports.

"The looming question is whether Republicans undercut their solid shot with tea party-style candidates who fizzled out in Delaware, Colorado and Nevada in 2010 and Indiana and Missouri in 2012."

"Georgia is keeping some Republicans awake at night. Eight candidates, including three House members, are pursuing the open seat of retiring two-term Sen. Saxby Chambliss in a state that dramatically went Republican in 1994 and rarely has looked back. Georgia hasn't elected a non-incumbent Democrat since 1998. A loss of the GOP seat would complicate any Republican math for a majority."

Archive: December 29, 2013

West Virginia Democrats Face Uphill Fight

"Although Democrats have owned West Virginia's two Senate seats since the Eisenhower administration, Republicans are eyeing this state as one of their best bets as they seek to win a Senate majority next year," the New York Times reports.

"An accelerating rightward tilt here was reflected recently in an awkward two-step by the Democratic nominee for an open seat, Natalie Tennant, as she distanced herself from the White House after a fund-raising trip to New York."

Archive: December 27, 2013

Ted Cruz Wannabes

Patricia Murphy: "If Ted Cruz seems like a one-of-a-kind, give it time. A slew of young, hard-charging, Tea Party-endorsed Senate wannabes is looking to knock off the Republican establishment again in 2014. Some have better chances than others, but all have the unmistakable Cruzian commitment to refusing to toe the Republican Party line and make headlines while doing it. If you haven't heard of them yet, you will."

Archive: December 26, 2013

Republicans Grab Edge in Midterm Elections

A new CNN/ORC poll finds Democrats "have lost their advantange and Republicans now have a slight edge in the battle for control of Congress."

"Two months ago, Democrats held a 50%-42% advantage among registered voters in a generic ballot, which asked respondents to choose between a Democrat or Republican in their congressional district without identifying the candidates... But the Democratic lead evaporated, and a CNN poll a month ago indicated the GOP holding a 49%-47% lead. The new survey, conducted in mid-December, indicates Republicans with a 49%-44% edge over the Democrats."

Archive: December 24, 2013

Matheson Mulls Statewide Bid in Utah

Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT), "who said last week he won't run for his House seat next year and is eyeing a potential bid for Utah governor or the Senate in 2016, knows it would be the challenge of his career, but he's not afraid," the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Said Matheson: "I'm a competitive guy and I'm proud of my success in elections. I don't have a problem facing competition."

No Democrat has won statewide office in Utah in 17 years.

Cochran Way Ahead But Possibly Vulnerable

A new Harper Polling survey in Mississippi finds Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) with a 23 point lead over primary challenger Chris McDaniel (R), 54% to 31%.

"However, the survey also reveals peril for Cochran if the race becomes defined as a contest between the establishment Republican Party candidate and the tea party candidate."

Key findings: 59% of the electorate supports a tea party candidate to a non-tea party candidate and 66% approve of the Republican-led shutdown of the federal government in October.

Archive: December 23, 2013

Backlash Against Cutting Unemployment Benefits

New Public Policy Polling surveys in 4 key swing Congressional districts (CA-31, CO-6, IL-13 and MI-1), as well as Speaker John Boehner's home district, "find overwhelming bipartisan opposition to cutting off extended unemployment benefits at the end of this year. Voters say they would be inclined to punish their already vulnerable representatives at the polls next year if they vote to cut off benefits."

Key finding: "Anywhere from 63-68% of voters in the five districts support continuing unemployment benefits with only 28-34% OK with cutting them...This is a rare issue in this polarized political climate where we find agreement across party lines."

Baucus Exit Helps Landrieu

President Obama's decision to tap Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) as ambassador to China "is a political boon for Democrats trying to protect their vulnerable majority, but especially for Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)," Roll Call reports.

"In the game of gavel dominoes that would be set off by Baucus vacating his chairmanship of the Finance Committee, Landrieu would likely ascend to the top of the Energy Committee, which could serve as a valuable tool in her tough 2014 re-election bid."

Archive: December 22, 2013

Democrats Hope to Shift Georgia Politics

Washington Post: "The two major parties here don't agree on many things. One of them is that it is only a matter of time before Georgia goes from being a Republican stronghold to a state that is up for grabs. In next year's elections, Democrats will be looking to speed that process along with a couple of candidates who bring fresh faces and familiar names."

"They are Senate contender Michelle Nunn, an executive who is also the daughter of former senator Sam Nunn, and gubernatorial hopeful Jason Carter, a third-term state senator who is a grandson of former president Jimmy Carter."

Archive: December 20, 2013

Democrats Have Little Chance to Take the House

John Sides says his forecast shows Democrats have just a 1% chance to win control of the House of Representatives next year.

"This is a testament to the fact that current conditions in the country, and the presence of so many Republican incumbents, make it hard for the Democrats to pick up many seats. In order for that forecast to change measurably in the Democrats' favor, the economy needs to grow more rapidly or President Obama needs to become more popular, or both. A few more Republican retirements and strong Democratic challengers wouldn't hurt, either."

Sides discussed his forecast with us on the Political Wire podcast.

Messina Not Interested in Senate Appointment

Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina said that he is not considering an appointment in the U.S. Senate to replace departing Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), The Hill reports.

"The Montanan was said by sources to be influential in Obama's decision to nominate Baucus as envoy to China. Speculation on Gov. Steve Bullock's appointment centered on Lt. Gov. John Walsh, who is running to succeed Baucus."

Wall Street Journal: Do appointees often win Senate races?


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