All eyes are - and should be - on Massachussetts, but there were a number of other important midterm stories this week - starting with Rep. Vic Snyder’s retirement, which is almost as good an illustration of how brutal the landscape has become for Democrats. Also, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper became the first Democrat to step forward to fill the void left by Governor Bill Ritter (though he might not be the last) and Rep. John Shadegg announced he wouldn’t seek re-election, creating an open seat that favors Republicans but which Democrats do have a chance of contesting. In lower-profile news:
In California, former Rep. Tom Campbell announced he was switching from the Governor’s race to the Senate race. This story is important, and I would have covered it at length if I hadn’t already addressed the possibility he might pull such a jump with a full post mid-December. The short take: Campbell is arguably the GOP’s best bet to win a statewide race next fall, and he should have an easier time surviving the Senate primary since he will be less swamped financially against DeVore and Fiorina than he was against Whitman and Poizner, who are both pouring in staggering amounts of their personal fortune The move could advantage DeVore, however, as the state Senator is now the only candidate in the primary with a strongly conservative reputation.
In other Senate news, this time from Pennsylvania, Democratic state Rep. Bill Kortz announced he was dropping out his Senate campaign, which leaves a two-way race between Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak; since Kortz was running from the left, this could help Sestak to the extent that he won’t have to worry about a divided liberal vote or even a divided anti-incumbent vote. This is also a reminder that the Pennsylvania primary is less than 3 months away, and while we haven’t heard much from Sestak-Specter lately it will soon be time to turn our attention towards the year’s highest-profile Democratic primary.
Meanwhile, the field is taking shape in many important gubernatorial races - and we have to start with Maine. Did you think Minnesota’s contest was crowded? Well, The Bangor Daily News notes that there are now 23 people running for Governor in Maine - 8 Democrats, 7 Republicans, 7 independents and 1 Green. The latest two get in are two Republicans: Susan Collins’s former chief of staff Steve Abbott and former University President William Beardsley. Democrats are favored to hold on to the open seat, but Maine has been open to voting GOP.
In Connecticut, Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz’s decision to drop out shook up the race, since she was perceived to be a slight front-runner; Ned Lamont is now in command of the primary, though he is certainly not a sure bet to win it. On the Republican side, Michael Fedele and Tom Foley go the company of Larry DeNardis, a 71-year who served one term in the House in the early 80s; both of the state’s GOP legislative leaders (Lawrence Cafero in the House, John McKinney in the Senate) announced they wouldn’t run.
In Michigan, many Democrats are still considering their option in the wake of Lieut. Gov. John Cherry’s unexpected withdrawal 12 days ago. While Speaker Andrew Dillon wasted no time before making his move, many in the party have been searching for alternatives to Dillon, both because of his frosty relationship with labor and because it’s unclear how receptive voters would be to someone who occupies that prominent a position in state government. As two Democratic legislators ended their campaign this week, new names have popped up, including former Treasurer John Browman and Rep. Bart Stupak; the latter signaled he was unlikely to run yesterday, but he hasn’t entirely ruled it out. One person who’s kept us guessing for months is Lansing Mayor Vig Bernero, who hasn’t made much noise since Cherry’s withdrawal even though he formed an exploratory committee months ago; state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith is also in the race.
Two statewide officials who were rumored to be considering primary challenges to Governors of their own party took opposite decisions this week. In Arizona, Treasurer Dean Martin announced he’d run against Governor Jan Brewer, but he’ll have to do with two other primary contenders; there’s no doubt that Brewer is highly vulnerable, but with so many Republicans clamoring for voters’ attention she could very well hold on. In Massachussetts, Secretary of State William Galvin ruled out going against Deval Patrick; he was never expected to do, but the possibility had seemed high enough that he was tested in a recent poll.
In Rhode Island, Cranston’s former conservative mayor Stephen Laffey had made it clear he was reconsidering his decision not to run for Governor - but he ruled out the possibility yet again. And yet, state Republicans finally managed to find a candidate: Governor Carcieri’s communication director John Robitaille, who has very limited electoral experience, will run. Why this matters? If the GOP fails to field a candidate, Linc Chaffee should have an easier time than if he has to worry about the right’s votes going to a Republican - in the same way as Lieberman wouldn’t have survived the 2006 cycle if the GOP had had a strong candidate in the race.) Finally, in South Carolina, state Senator Larry Grooms dropped out of the 6-way GOP primary; the Charleston City Paper notes he was the “Tea Party” candidate, so his withdrawal could help Huckabee-endorsee Andre Bauer or Sanford-ally Nikki Haley.
As always, I list all the changes I have logged in during the week to the “retirement watch” and recruitment pages. Written in red are those politicians who announced their definite plans rather than simply expressed interest or stroke speculation. First, updates to Retirement Watch:
|Will retire||Rep. Vic Snyder (D, AR-02)
Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ-03)
|Will not retire||Rep. Gary Peters (D, MI-09): won’t run for Governor|
Second, updates to the Senate recruitment page:
|CA-Sen, GOP||former Rep. Tom Campbell announced run|
|NY-Sen, GOP||Larchmont Mayor Liz Feld will not run|
|NY-Sen, GOP||former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. added|
|PA-Sen, Dem||state Rep. Bill Kortz dropped out|
Third, updates to gubernatorial races:
|AZ-Gov, GOP||state Treasurer Dean Martin announced run|
|CA-Gov, GOP||former Rep. Tom Campbell dropped out|
|CO-Gov, Dem||Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper announced run|
|CT-Gov, Dem||Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz dropped out|
|CT-Gov, GOP||state Rep. Lawrence Cafero won’t runformer Rep. Larry DeNardis announced run
state Senator John McKinney won’t run
|MA-Gov, Dem||Secretary of State William Galvin won’t run|
|ME-Gov, GOP||Collins’s former CoS Steve Abbott announced run
former University President William Beardsley announced run
|MI-Gov, Dem||former Treasurer John Browman added
state Senator Hansen Clarke dropped out
former state Rep. John Freeman dropped out
former County Treasurer Dan Kildee added
Rep. Gary Peters won’t run
Rep. Stupak added to list (but admits it is unlikely)
|RI-Gov, GOP||former Cranston Stephen Laffey won’t run
staffer John Robitaille announced run
|SC-Gov, GOP||state Senator Larry Grooms dropped out|
|WY-Gov, GOP||Auditor Rita Meyer announced run|