Archive for the 'retirement' Category

Weekly update: As Coats’s baggage mounts, Dems land their first candidates in DE & ND

The 2010 cycle got its official launch this week as Illinois hosted the first primary of the year. State voters put an end to brutal intraparty battles, though the GOP’s gubernatorial primary has yet to produce a clear winner (more on Illinois soon.) The other states that monopolized our attention are Delaware, where New Castle County Executive Chris Coons entered the Senate race, and Indiana, where former Senator Dan Coats came out of nowhere to announce he was preparing to challenge the man who replaced him, Evan Bayh.

While Coats is obviously a major threat to Bayh’s re-election, his move in the race was followed by an avalanche of stories that he will struggle to overcome. The latest episode: A video filmed in 2008 in which he says he is planning to retire in North Carolina, footage that could haunt him the same way Tom Dashle’s “I’m a D.C. resident” damaged his 2004 campaign. This video will be all the more damaging that Coats changed his voter registration to Virginia as soon as he left office ten years ago. The continued drip of revelations about Coats’s lobbying clients is also sure to give Democrats major ammunition. Coats spent ten years paying no attention to how his actions and words might play in an electoral context, which is now making him an opposition researchers’ dream.

In North Dakota, Democrats got their first Senate candidate: first-term state Senator Tracy Potter announced this week he will take on Governor John Hoeven. (Former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp had been getting the most buzz, but she has yet to clarify her plans.) The Republican is obviously heavily favored to pick-up this seat and while Democrats now have a credible candidate in case Hoeven self-implodes due to some bizarre scandal, that’s probably all Potter can pull off.

Interestingly, Potter has a long political career that started with his activism on behalf of North Dakotan Eugene McCarthy in the 1972 presidential election. While the Democrat plans to tout himself as a centrist, the Grand Folk Herald notes that he was a prominent member of the Prairie Campaign for Economic Democracy, a group that sought to strengthen the state party’s progressive wing in the 1970s; in 1980, he walked out of the Democratic convention in protest over Jimmy Carter’s renomination. Another interesting fact: In 1984, he lost the Democratic primary to be insurance commissioner to Earl Pomeroy, who went on to win the general election and now serves in the House.

In Arkansas, Rep. John Boozman formally announced his challenge to Senator Blanche Lincoln. Since it was already all but certain he would do so 9 days ago, I already analyzed his move at length last week and I refer you to that post for why Boozman’s entry goes a long way towards sealing Lincoln’s fate and why the GOP is clearly favored to defend his open seat (AR-03).

In Maryland, it is looking increasingly likely former Governor Bob Ehrlich will seek a rematch against Marty O’Malley, who defeated him in 2006. The Washington Post reports Ehrlich has been lining up fundraising events; “I’m willing to serve,” he said to the Post. While he added he would not make up his mind until March, that alone signals he is leaning towards running: pulling out of the race so late would make it next to impossible for the GOP to find a back-up. Larry Hogan, who looked like the probable Republican nominee before the Ehrlich buzz increased, ended his exploratory committee this week. “I am convinced [Ehrlich] will run,” he explained.

In Connecticut, both parties have their front-runners but there is still movement. On the Democratic side, state Senator Gary D. LeBeau announced this week he was dropping out, which leaves four candidates in the primary. The Republican side got a new entry: Mark Boughton, who has served as the Mayor of Danbury since 2001. Danbury is a decent-sized city whose population hovers around 80,000, so expect Boughton to be a player in the Republican primary; Quinnipiac’s most recent poll found a wide open field with Tom Foley at 17%, Lieut. Gov. Michael Fedele at 8% and Boughton at 6%.

In California, Rep. Jackie Speier ruled out leaving her House seat this week, despite mounting rumors that she was preparing to run for California Attorney General. Her retirement would have created a fierce Democratic primary in her staunchly blue seat, but it would have been all but impossible to envision a competitive general election (Kerry and Obama both received more than 70% in CA-12). Another Democrat who confirmed his re-election plans this week is Tennessee’s Rep. Lincoln Davis. While he had already said he would run, the GOP still hoped it could push him towards the exit and have a shot at an open seat in a district that voted for McCain by 30%.

While I typically publish my weekly update on Sunday, I had left time to blog today so I am posting this post (which is prepared through the week) today and shall have time to do something else tomorrow.

As always, I list all the changes I have logged in during the week to the retirement and race-by-race pages. First, updates to Retirement Watch:

Will retire Rep. John Boozman (R, AR-03)
Will not retire Rep. Jackie Speier (D, CA-12)
Rep. Lincoln Davis (D, TN-04)
Added to retirement watch Rep. Bill Delahunt (D, MA-10)
Rep. Diane Watson (D, CA-33)

Second, updates to the Senate recruitment page:

AR-Sen, GOP Rep. John Boozman announced run
DE-Sen, Dem New Castle County Executive Chris Coons announced run
IL-Sen, Dem Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias won nomination
IL-Sen, GOP Rep. Mark Kirk won nomination
IN-Sen, GOP former Senator Dan Coats exploring run
Secretary of State Todd Rokita ruled out run
KY-Sen, Dem doctor Jack Buckmaster is running
Darlene Price is running
businessman Maurice Sweeney is running
KY-Sen, GOP former Ambassador Cathy Bailey will not run
Bill Johnson is running
Gurley Martin is running
Jon Scribner is running
ND-Sen, Dem state Senator Tracy Potter is running
NY-Sen-A, GOP CNBC anchor Larry Kudlow added
WA-Sen, GOP former gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi added

Third, updates to gubernatorial races:

CT-Gov, Dem state Senator Gary D. LeBeau dropped out
CT-Gov, GOP Danbury Mayor Mark D. Boughton is running
IL-Gov, Dem Governor Pat Quinn won primary
MD-Gov, GOP Lawrence J. Hogan dropped out
MN-Gov, GOPDFL former state Senator Steve Kelley dropped out

Weekly 2010 update: The Delaware blow

The series of nightmarish developments that recently befell Democrats prolonged itself through Monday, with Rep. Marion Berry retiring and Attorney General Beau Biden all but handing Delaware’s Senate seat to Republicans. The rest of the week gave Democrats some breathing room, from Rep. Mike Pence’s decision not to challenge Evan Bayh to a number of Democratic congressmen taking themselves off retirement watch.

Yet, the landscape could still get more brutal for Democrats in the coming weeks, as we shall soon know how successful the GOP will be in expanding the map not only at the House level but also in Senate races. All eyes are now on Wisconsin’s Tommy Thompson and Mark Neumann, Washington’s Dave Reichert and Indiana’s Todd Rokita. Meanwhile, Democratic congressmen who are still trying to figure out whether they want to run for re-election will be making up their minds soon, and their decisions will help determine just how rough a cycle Democrats are facing. One person to keep track of right now is Indiana Rep. Baron Hill: While he’s been considered unlikely to retire; the state’s filing deadline is looming in just 3 weeks so we shall soon know for sure.

In New York, reports that Andrew Cuomo is finalizing plans to announce a gubernatorial run in March should reassure Democrats and make it harder for the GOP to recruit a new candidate. Indeed, many Republicans seem unsold on Rick Lazio’s ability to make the race competitive and at least to hold down Cuomo’s coattails; one name who was mentioned, Erie County Executive Chris Collins, ruled out running this week.

Also in New York, but this time in the Senate race, Rep. Steve Israel for the second time ruled out challenging Kirsten Gillibrand. While he had already done so in May, Gillibrand’s continued vulnerability combined with Harold Ford’s apparent entry in the race had made him reconsider and reportedly even poll his viability. His repeat exit leaves Ford and Jonathan Tasini as Gillibrand’s only primary opponent.

In Michigan, Rep. JoeBart Stupak closed to door to his flirtations with the gubernatorial race. While he had already declared he was unlikely to run, the DCCC will be happy that his probable became a definite since an open seat in MI-1 would have been tough to defend. Also in Michigan: While Republicans have been increasingly confident about picking-up this Governor’s Mansion, they received somewhat worrisome news this week: former Republican Rep. Schwarz, who was ousted by a Club for Growth-backed candidate in 2006, said he might run as an independent. Depending on who wins the GOP nomination, Schwarz might be able to peel away some moderate Republican voters.

In Arizona, Democrats will be relieved that Attorney General Terry Goddard finally made his gubernatorial campaign official. While he was always expected to do so, the week did start with another Democratic Attorney General (this one in Delaware) bucking expectations. One reason Goddard waited so long to make his intentions clear is an Arizona law that forces state officials who want to seek another position to first resign from their position unless they are in the final year of their term. Had Goddard announced in 2009, he would have been out of a job in 2010 whereas he can now continue to serve as Attorney General until January 2011.

In Connecticut, former Rep. Chris Shays voiced interest in running for Governor, which comes as a surprise given that last year he had categorically ruled out running for Senate, explaining that he was not interested in seeking office so soon after the three very tough re-election campaigns he went through from 2004 to 2008. Shays’s moderate profile would probably make him a stronger general election contender than Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele, though voters might not be eager to elect a man who was so recently ousted by his district by more than 20%. Furthermore, the certainty of a tough primary could also dissuade Shays from entering.

In Alaska, Governor Sean Parnell got rid of one primary challenger as state Rep. John Harris, who served as state Speaker from 2005 to 2008, announced he was dropping out of the race. While another former Speaker (Ralph Samuels) is still challenging Parnell and now will not have to worry about another contender dividing the anti-incumbent vote, Parnell doesn’t have any obvious vulnerability among Republican voters so this primary is unlikely to yield many surprises.

In Alabama, Richard Shelby landed his first Democratic challenger, but attorney William Barnes is more than unlikely to make the senator tremble much. At the very least, it can’t hurt Democrats to have a complete ticket.

As always, I list all the changes I have logged in during the week to the retirement and race-by-race pages.

First, updates to Retirement Watch:

Will retire Rep. Marion Berry (D, AR-01)
Rep. Steve Buyer (R, IN-04)
Will not retire Rep. Bart Stupak (D, MI-01)
Rep. Tom Bishop (D, NY-01)
Rep. Rick Boucher (D, VA-09)
Added to retirement watch Rep. Jackie Speier (D, CA-12)

Second, updates to the Senate recruitment page:

AL-Sen, Dem attorney William Barnes announced run
AR-Sen, GOP former football player Jim Lindsey added
DE-Sen, Dem Attorney General Beau Biden will not run
former Lieut. Gov. John Carney will not run
Lieut. Gov. Denn will not run
IN-Sen, GOP Governor Mitch Daniels added
Rep. Mike Pence will not run
Secretary of State Todd Rokita added
KY-Sen, GOP Former Superintendent of Public Instruction John Stephenson announced run
NV-Sen, Ind/Dem Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman will not run
WI-Sen, GOP former Rep. Mark Neumann added

Third, updates to gubernatorial races:

AK-Gov, GOP state Rep. John Harris dropped out
AZ-Gov, Dem Attorney General Terry Goddard is running
CT-Gov, GOP former Rep. Chris Shays added
MI-Gov, Dem Joe Dumars ruled out run

Rep. Joe Stupak ruled out run

MI-Gov, Indie former GOP Rep. Schwarz added to list
MN-Gov, IP public-relations executive Tom Horner announced run
NV-Gov, Indie Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman will not run
NY-Gov, GOP Erie County Executive Chris Collins will not run

Weekly 2010 update: And so ends Democrats’ hellish week

What has probably been Democrats’ most hellish week since George W. Bush won re-election is coming to a close, but the party won’t be able to easily turn the page. Scott Brown’s upset in Massachusetts will make itself felt in every Senate roll call for the next 3 years; health-care reform, which just 7 days ago looked certain to pass is still tinkering on the verge of collapse with little sign that Democratic leaders are willing to do what it takes to revive it; and the Supreme Court dealt a near-fatal blow to decades of campaign finance reform.

Heading into Tuesday, national Democrats were worried that a Scott Brown victory might unleash Democratic retirements but the party has for now succeeded at convincing its incumbents not to jump ship. In fact, one Democrat who the NRCC was hoping would call it quits is no longer a potential retiree: As West Virginia’s filing deadline is fast approaching (January 30th), Rep. Allan Mollohan filed for re-election so WV-01 will not host an open seat race. That doesn’t mean Democrats can count on keeping the seat (the GOP has a number of strong recruits lined up against Mollohan), but it is obviously a big relief for the DCCC. (Another Democratic incumbent who ruled out retirement this week is Arkansas’s Mike Beebe, who is a rare governor likely to coast to re-election.)

Democrats’ other fear is that the Brown shocker impacts recruitment in other races, and in no state are the stakes more obvious than in Delaware: While conventional wisdom has long been that Beau Biden would run for his father’s seat, it’s been just as obvious that he’s been having cold feet and Coakley’s defeat must be weighing heavily on his mind. Today, Joe Biden confirmed that his son was not sure to run in an interview with The News Journal. An early version of the newspaper’s story mistakenly quoted the vice-president as saying he does not think Beau Biden will run, which unleashed a wave of panic among Democrats this afternoon; but the release of the interview’s transcript, backed up by an audio recording, leaves no doubt that Biden was talking about Senator Ted Kaufman when he said “I know he doesn’t want to [run]” rather than about Beau, as the paper initially claimed.

As such, the story is far less damning for Democrats than it at first looked, but the vice-president’s comments should still worry the party. “Talk Ted into running, if Beau doesn’t,” Biden said in the interview’s corrected version, acknowledging that the odds his son chooses not to run are high enough that he is actively trying to figure out a Plan B. That’s quite a turnaround from the days Beau Biden’s Senate ambitions were so transparent the governor appointed a placeholder to allow him to run in 2010. If Biden might not run, why is he taking this long to make up his mind, thus endangering the possibility another candidate will have time to emerge, raise money and introduce himself?

The week’s most important electoral story I did not get to cover is former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman’s announcement that he would not run for Governor, but I will keep that for a longer post so let us move on to New Mexico, where Republicans have a new candidate: Pete Domenici Jr., the son of former Senator Domenici, has never ran for office before but his last name (and the political connections that go with it) could make him a strong contender in the primary. While this could also help him in the general election, I have trouble seeing him as a step-up for the GOP: The two Republicans who are already running (state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones and DA Susana Martinez) are at least as credible as Domenici. This development does nothing to change the fact that Lieut. Gov. Diane Denish remains favored to win the governorship.

In Colorado, Andrew Romanoff announced this week that he would not switch to the Governor’s race, as he had been rumored to be considering after Bill Ritter’s retirement. This has two major consequences. First, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper becomes the heavy favorite to win the party’s nomination. Second, Romanoff is sticking to challenging Senator Michael Bennet in the Senate primary, which I don’t see as a problem for Democrats: Whether Bennet can be successful on the trail remains a question so it’s better he be tested in the primary than the general election - not to mention that given the electorate’s anti-incumbent mood, Democrats could be well-served dumping their weakest incumbents. Romanoff’s bid has not gained much traction for now, but the primary is in August, leaving the race plenty of time to heat up.

In Pennsylvania, Democrats’ underwhelming gubernatorial field shrank by one this week: Democratic businessman Tom Knox announced he was dropping out. Knox had the potential to make a mark: In his run for Philadelphia Mayor, he spent $12 million of his money and came in second to the eventual winner. Reports indicate that Knox left the race after an agreement with Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, who is trying to ensure that he is in a financially dominant position. On the other hand, Knox’s exit leaves Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel as the only candidate from the Philadelphia region (Onorato and Auditor Jack Wagner are both from the Pittsburgh area).

In Kansas, Democrats’ desperate efforts to find a statewide candidate is now focusing on a new name: state Senator Tom Holland, who is openly discussing the possibility he might run for Governor. “If I made a decision to run, it will definitely be to win,” Holland said, but he himself must know just how unlikely it is for him to beat Sam Brownback. At this point, Democrats’ priority isn’t to win the Governor’s or Senate race but simply to ensure the party is enough of a presence not to endanger down-ballot candidates.

As always, I list all the changes I have logged in during the week to the “retirement watch” and recruitment pages. First, updates to Retirement Watch:

Will retire No one
Will not retire Governor Mike Beebe (Arkansas)
Rep. Alan Mollohan (D, WV-01)
Added to retirement watch Rep. John Boozman (AR-03)
Rep. Mike Pence (IN-06)

Second, updates to the Senate recruitment page:

AR-Sen, GOP Rep. John Boozman added to list
AZ-Sen, GOP former Rep. Jay Hayworth will run
IN-Sen, GOP surgeon Tom Haney announced run
LA-Sen, GOP Secretary of State Jay Dardenne ruled out run
NY-Sen, GOP Port Authority Commissioner Bruce Blakeman announced run

Third, updates to gubernatorial races:

AZ-Gov, GOP Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker dropped out
CO-Gov, Dem former Speaker Andrew Romanoff will not run
KS-Gov, Dem state Sen. Tom Holland added
MI-Gov, Dem state Sen. Hansen Clarke dropped out
MD-Gov, GOP state Delegate Patrick McDonough dropped out
MN-Gov, GOP former Auditor Pat Anderson dropped out
former Senator Norm Coleman ruled out run
NM-Gov, GOP Pete Domenici Jr. announced run
PA-Gov, Dem businessmen Tom Knox dropped out

Weekly 2010 update: While Senate races are mostly set, still plenty of movement in Gov contests

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

Weeky update: 2010 starts with a bang

Could the first week of 2010 have been any more charged with electorally momentous developments? Byron Dorgan, Chris Dodd, Bill Ritter and Henry Brown’s retirements, Jim Gerlach’s unretirement, John Cherry’s withdrawal and Richard Blumenthal’s candidacy conspired to dramatically alter the year’s landscape in a matter of days. Combined with the sudden competitiveness of MA special election and the buzz surrounding Harold Ford’s potential Senate run (his latest flip-flop is so grotesque it can only mean he’s seriously considering it: he matter-of-factly professed support for same-sex marriage just 3 years after voting for the FMA and placing his opposition to gay rights at the center of his Tennessee campaign), all of these developments left little time to cover lower-profile news.

Let’s start with Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon’s entry in Utah’s Governor race, as the Democrat gives his party as much of a chance as they could hope to score an upset in what is arguably the country’s most conservative state. Coroon won a second term in 2008 with 66% of the vote, so he is a well established presence in the state’s population center: Salt Lake County has more than one million inhabitants, so Corroon represents about 1/3rd of the state’s population! Sure, whoever wins the Republican nod (whether Governor Gary Herbert or a rival) will be favored, but keep an eye on Harold Dean’s first cousin.

Also in Utah, Rep. Jason Chaffetz had been mulling a primary challenge to Bob Bennett but opted to stick to the House instead; that doesn’t mean Bennett is safe, however. This week alone, the Club for Growth announced defeating Bennett would be one of its top 2010 priorities (they did not endorse a candidate yet) while Mike Lee, the son of a former U.S. Solicitor General under Reagan and of a former president of BYU, announced his candidacy.

Besides Chaffetz, two other congressmen Democrats were worried about clarified they’ll run for re-election: Rep. Earl Pomeroy and Rep. Leonard Boswell. While Boswell should face a competitive race nonetheless, open races in IA-03 and ND-AL would have been tricky holds for Democrats so this further limits the number of open seat opportunities the GOP can hope for. (DeFazio, Kanjorski, Skelton and Berry are probably those to keep an eye on.)

Another important story occurred in Arkansas: Just when you thought the GOP’s Senate field couldn’t possibly get more crowded entered a ninth candidate. Former state Senator Jim Holt, who lost the 2004 Senate race to Blanche Lincoln and the 2006 Lieutenant Governor race to Brian Halter, announced his candidacy. The NRSC would be better off with Baker or Coleman than with this staunch social conservative with a poor statewide record, but Holt’s name recognition and strong base in Northwest Arkansas gives a strong shot at winning the nomination. (Note, Arkansas primaries are decided by runoffs, so whoever wins would have to top 50%, but a 9-way first round should be unpredictable.)

Democrats are struggling to find contenders in Governor’s races in two Western states. In Nebraska, former Omaha Mayor Mike Boyle’s name had popped up at the end of 2008 as a likely candidate, but Boyle disappointed Democrats just as quickly as he gave them hope they could at least make a showing: He won’t run, and Governor Heineman remains unlikely to have to break a sweat. In Kansas, seemingly every week brings with it a setback to Democrats’ desperate search for anyone willing to run at the top of the ticket. The latest Democrat to rule out a race is Board of Regents Chair Jill Docking, and the party has now switched its focus to state Senator Marci Francisco.

Finally, two Democratic governors got primary challengers this week. The first is New York’s David Paterson, and I’m not talking about Andrew Cuomo, who is still coy about his plans: Suffolk County executive Steve Levy is the first out of the gate, though he has only formed an exploratory committee for now. In Maryland, the GOP is still waiting to see whether former Governor Bob Ehrlich will run but former state Delegate George W. Owings (a conservative Democrat) announced he would run against Governor O’Malley.

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. Henry Brown (R, SC-01)
Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT)
Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND)
Rep. George Radanovich (R, CA-19)
Governor Bill Ritter (D-CO)
Will not retire Rep. Leonard Boswell (D, IA-01)
Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D, ND-AL)
Rep. Jim Gerlach (R, PA-06)
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R, UT-03)

Second, updates to the Senate recruitment page:

AR-Sen, GOP former state Sen. Jim Holt is running
CT-Sen, Dem Attorney General Richard Blumental announces run
incumbent  Chris Dodd retires
ND-Sen, Dem incumbent Byron Dorgan retires
former AG Heidi Heitkamp added to list
Rep. Earl Pomeroy won’t run
Ed Schultz added to list
NY-Sen, Dem former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. added to list
William Thompson ruled out run
NY-Sen, GOP former Rep. Susan Molinari added
UT-Sen, GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz ruled out run
Mike Lee announced run
WA-Sen, GOP former football player Clint Didier announces run

Third, updates to gubernatorial races:

CO-Gov, Dem Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper added
incumbent Bill Ritter retired
Speaker Andrew Romanoff added
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar ruled out run
CT-Gov, Dem former state Rep. Juan Figueroa added
Simsbury Selectwoman Mary Glassman announced run
CT-Gov, GOP Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton added to list
state Rep. Larry Cafero won’t run
Shelton Mayor Mark A. Lauretti added to list
KS-Gov, Dem Board of Regents Chair Jill Docking won’t run
state Sen. Marci Francisco added to list
MD-Gov, Dem state Delegate George W. Owings announced run
ME-Gov, Dem state Representative Dawn Hill won’t run
Dept of Conservation Commissioner Patrick K. McGowan added
MI-Gov, Dem Lieutenant Governor John Cherry drops out
state Senator Hansen Clarke added to list
state Speaker Dillon forms exploratory committee
MI-Gov, GOP Domino’s Pizza CEO Dave Brandon won’t run
NE-Gov, Dem former Omaha Mayor Mike Boyle won’t run
NY-Gov, Dem Suffolk Co. exec. Steve Levy formed exploratory
PA-Gov, GOP Rep. Jim Gerlach drops out
SD-Gov, GOP state Senator Gordon Howie announced run
UT-Gov, Dem Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon announced run

Weekly 2010 update: From open seats to party switchers

If Democrats spent the past 5 weeks worrying about new open seats, they suddenly found themselves answering questions about possible party-switchers after Rep. Parker Griffith announced he would join the Republican caucus. But DCCC officials managed to quickly leak commitments out of some of their most conservative members - Bobby Bright, Walt Minnick - that they would not bolt, just as they’ve succeeded at getting many legislators who were rumored as potential retirees to announce they are seeking re-election: This week, it was Rep. John Spratt’s turn to signal he won’t give Democrats open seat headaches.

So have Democrats stabilized the situation? We shall know much more in the weeks ahead: Many states have filing deadlines from January to March, so there isn’t that much time left for some of these politicians to make up their mind.

One state that has a late filing deadline is New York, which explains why there are still many question marks surrounding the state’s top races. Rudy Giuliani finally made his intentions clear this week but his exit only forces the GOP to confront their lack of prominent contenders: Will Rick Lazio have the gubernatorial field for himself, and who can the party nominate against Kirsten Gillibrand? In the aftermath of Giuliani’s statement, Rep. Peter King unexpectedly walked back his ruling out a Senate run; while he made it clear he was unlikely to jump in, his name is back in the mix. As for Democrats, David Paterson’s numbers are slightly improving, which does create some minimal suspense as to what Andrew Cuomo will do; and Bill Thompson is still floating his name as a potential Senate candidate.

More unexpected speculation concerning a Republican congressman mulling a Senate run arose in Indiana: In the heels of John Hostettler’s surprising decision to challenge Evan Bayh, the name of Rep. Mike Pence - a conservative darling who’s high up in the House GOP leadership - is now being floated by the likes of Bill Kristol. There’s no evidence that Pence himself is open to the possibility, but might Kristol’s column lead to a Draft Pence movement?

Finally, two weeks after getting themselves an unexpectedly competitive candidate in the Idaho Governor’s race, Democrats might pull of the same in Nebraska: Douglas County Commissioner Mike Boyle, who served 6 years as Omaha Mayor in the 1980s, said he is looking at challenging Governor Heineman. Boyle would obviously face an uphill climb, not only because Nebraska is a conservative state but also because his tenure as mayor ended up in his recall. (Interestingly, Boyle lost the Democratic gubernatorial primary in 1990 to Ben Nelson.) Yet, Boyle has manged to rebound and his entry would at least put the contest on the map; that would in itself be newsworthy because Nebraska is one of only 5 Governor’s race (out of 38) that are currently rated “safe” for the incumbent party.

Also, an important correction to the post I wrote earlier this week on health care reform: It is increasingly looking like the C-SPAN caller who claimed to have taken Coburn’s prayer call seriously was pulling a prank. (I had already updated my original post to reflect that there was controversy about his sincerity, but the evidence is even stronger now.)

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:

Switched parties Rep. Parker Griffith (D, AL-05)
Announced they would not switch parties Rep. Bobby Bright (D, AL-02)
Rep. Walt Minnick (D, ID-01)
Rep. Chris Carney (D, PA-10)
Opened the door to retiring Rep. Peter King (R, NY-03)
Will not retire Rep. Baron Hill (D, IN-09)
Rep. John Spratt (D, SC-05)

Second, updates to the Senate recruitment page:

IN-Sen, GOP Rep. Mike Pence added to list (but highly unlikely)
NY-Sen, GOP Rudy Giuliani will not run
Rep. Peter King walked back ruling our run

Third, updates to gubernatorial races:

IA-Gov, GOP state Senator Jerry Behn will not run
NE-Gov, Dem Douglas County Commissioner Mike Boyle added to list
NY-Gov, GOP Rudy Giuliani confirmed he would not run

Weekly 2010 update: Democratic retirements dominate the 2010 storyline

The retirement of a fourth Democratic congressman in as many week set the tone for the past week, with Republicans beaming with excitement at the prospect of contesting red-leaning open seats and the press piling on with panic-inducing stories. The DCCC countered by getting numerous incumbents to signal more or less directly that they’ll run for re-election - Chet Edwards, Collin Peterson, Ike Skelton. But the process revealed we should be keeping an eye on Rep. Spratt; we also learned late this week that Rep. Jack Murtha has been asking DCCC officials what he should do if he retires, so yet another veteran Democrat joins the retirement watch. In lower-profile stories:

In Delaware, Beau Biden has still not entered the Senate race - and Democrats finally seem to be getting the clue that he never actually committed to running. That’s sparking talk of what might happen if the Attorney General did the unthinkable and passed on the opportunity to run for his father’s seat, and whether Democrats would have a chance of beating Mike Castle. Two names that were circulated by CQ: New Castle County Exec Chris Coons and Senator Ted Kaufman, who could run for a full term.

In Kansas, Democrats have lost the one statewide candidate they had: Tom Wiggans, who enthused the state party last month by the mere fact that he was willing to jump in the Governor’s race, has now announced he is dropping out of the contest. It’s been a long time Democrats have lost any illusion they might defend the governorship or pick-up the Senate seat, but the extent of their weakness remains a remarkable story - as does Kathleen Sebelius’s failure at building a credible state party. Also, this could have major consequences down-ballot: The asymmetry between their lack of a statewide candidate and the Republican juggernauts who are running could be fatal to their chances in the state’s crucial House races (KS-03, and perhaps KS-02).

In New York, Kirsten Gillibrand rid herself of yet another opponent: Suffolk County legislator Jon Cooper, one of the earliest Democrats to float his name last spring, said he would not run for Senate. For all the recent talk of Gillibrand looking vulnerable, the only person from either party who has been willing to commit to challenging her is labor activist Jonathan Tasini. While Bill Thompson has yet to announce his intentions, the very long list of politicians who held back after looking on the brink of running speaks to how difficult a commitment it is to challenge a well-financed incumbent in this large and expensive a state.

In Oregon, former NBA player Chris Dudley made it official this week: He will seek the GOP’s gubernatorial nomination. Like all political novices, Dudley will have to prove himself on the trail but he at least starts with more of a network than most athletes-turned-candidates since others in his family have held prominent office. He’ll face a tough primary against entrepreneur Allen Alley, who has a lot of funds and the experience of running a statewide campaign. Either men would face an uphill climb in the general election; perhaps the celebrity factor is Republicans’ best bet, however?

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. Bart Gordon (D, TN-06)
Will not retire Rep. Chet Edwards (D, TX-17)
Rep. Collin Peterson (D, MN-07)
Added to retirement list Rep. Jack Murtha (D, PA-12)
Those who apparently will not retire Rep. Tim Holden (D, PA-17)
Rep. Ike Skelton (D, MO-04)
Rep. Lincoln Davis (D, TN-04)

Second, updates to the Senate recruitment page:

AR-Sen, GOP Stanley Reed dropped out
CA-Sen, GOP former Rep. Tom Campbell added
DE-Sen, Dem New Castle County Exec Chris Coons added
Senator Ted Kaufman added
NY-Sen, Dem Suffolk Co. Legislator Jon Cooper will not run

Third, updates to gubernatorial races:

KS-Gov, Dem Tom Wiggans dropped out
OR-Gov, GOP Former NBA player Chris Dudley announced run
state House minority leader Bruce Hanna won’t run
SD-Gov, GOP Ken Knuppe is running
TX-Gov, Dem Kinky Friedman dropped out

Weekly 2010 update: House Dems get themselves 2 unexpected headaches

Last night, city comptroller Annise Parker was elected Mayor of Houston on a 53% to 47% vote, making Houston the largest city to elect a gay mayor after a runoff election that was marked by explicitly homophobic campaigning. This vote added to gay rights activists’ ballot-box successes this year: Washington State passing RI-71, Chapel Hill’s mayoral race, a local referendum in Kalamazoo, Georgia electing its first gay African-American legislator. That track record has been understandably overshadowed by Maine’s vote on gay marriage, but Parker’s victory (combined with California preparing to elect its first gay Speaker) caps the year favorably.

In national politics, this week’s dominant story is that House Democrats got themselves two unexpected headaches. First is Brian Baird’s out-of-nowhere retirement announcement, which makes the swing WA-03 district a prime pick-up opportunity for the GOP; second, Neil Abercrombie’s resignation creates a tricky special election that gives a Republican a chance to capture HI-01 with a plurality of the vote. The other high-profile development came from MA, where Martha Coakley and Scott Brown won their party’s nominations to face off in the January Senate special election. In other news:

In Nevada, Harry Reid’s prospects might still take a turn for the worse. Lieutenant Governor Brian Krolicki, who was at the top of the NRSC’s list when the cycle started, was eliminated from contention when he was indicted on charges of misappropriation and falsification of accounts. This week, a court dismissed the charges as overly vague, potentially enabling Krolicki to mount a challenge to the Senate Majority Leader. While his spokesperson initially said he would not be running but reports now say he is considering jumping in. We would have to see how much lasting damage Krolicki’s image endured because of his indictment, but his entry should still be a step-up for the GOP.

In Rhode Island, Linc Chaffee’s prospects of winning the Governor’s Mansion improved this week as the sole Republican in the race (businessman Rory Smith) announced he was dropping out. If the GOP fails to file a credible contender, Chaffee would become the contest’s right-most option despite the fact that he will be running as an independent. Rhode Island is a staunchly blue state in Democrats have a strong bench, but a Lieberman-Lamont type scenario would help the former Senator’s political comeback.

In Alaska, Governor Sean Parnell (who was elevated to that position after Sarah Palin’s resignation) got himself a primary challenger:  former Speaker Ralph Samuels, who left the legislature in 2008 to work as a vice-president for Holland America Line. Samuels made it clear that the catalyst that pushed him towards a run was Parnell’s support for taxes on oil companies Palin pushed during her tenure. As such, it will be interesting to see how fiscal conservatives react considering Parnell has been a protege of the Club for Growth.

In South Dakota, Matt McGovern dropped out of the Senate race, depriving Democrats of the one challenger they had found to John Thune. The party would be well-advised to field a credible contender: While Thune will be the overwhelming favorite no matter who Democrats nominate, if he does not have to work for his re-election at all he would be free to travel around the country, building a network that would be useful for a future presidential campaign.

In Idaho, it’s still highly unlikely that Governor Butch Otter will have to sweat to win re-election; but from the sound of this article, the state’s political establishment was shocked to learn that former professor Keith Allred would challenge him as a Democrat. Allred had formed a citizens group that had acquired clout in Boise, and he had a nonpartisan profile that had won him many allies in both parties. Democrats now seem delighted at his unexpected gubernatorial candidacy, which could make the race worth watching - but the bottom line is that Idaho is ranked the 35th most vulnerable race (out of 37) in my latest gubernatorial ratings.

Finally, we are still waiting to find out whether to Southern senators will face primary challenges. This week, the buzz surrounding Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne and Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Brian Halter increased, as the former stated again that he was considering challenging David Vitter and the latter traveled to D.C. to meet with some union leaders and progressives about the possibility he might run against Blanche Lincoln.

As always, I list all the changes I have logged in during the week to the “retirement watch” and recruitment pages. First, updates to Retirement Watch:

Will retire Rep. Brian Baird (WA-04)
Will resign Rep. Brian Abercrombie (HI-01)
Will not resign Rep. Mike Capuano (MA-08)

Second, updates to the Senate recruitment page:

KY-Sen, Dem doctor James Buckmaster is running
retired customs officer Darlene Price is running
businessman Maurice Sweeney is running
KY-Sen, GOP businessman Bill Johnson is running
Gurley Martin is running
consultant Roger Thoney is running
MA-Sen, Dem Attorney General Martha Coakley won nomination
MA-Sen, GOP state Senator Scott Brown won nomination
NC-Sen, Dem former state Sen. Cal Cunningham announced run
Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy wlll not run
NV-Sen, GOP Lieutenant Governor Brian Krolicki added
SD-Sen, Dem Matt McGovern dropped out

Third, updates to gubernatorial races:

AK-Gov, GOP former state Rep. Ralph Samuels announced run
ID-Gov, Dem Keith Allred announced run
NH-Gov, GOP Karen Testerman announced run
OR-Gov, Dem Soloflex founder Jerry Wilson is running
RI-Gov, GOP businessman Rory Smith dropped out
TX-Gov, Dem teacher Felix Alvarado is running
Bill Dear is running
hair products magnate Farouk Shami is running

Weekly 2010 update: As TX Dems land their candidate, NY Republicans wish they were so lucky

On Friday, Houston Mayor Bill White pulled the trigger: He dropped out of Texas’s nonexistent Senate contest and jumped in the gubernatorial race, giving Democrats an unexpected shot at winning a rare statewide victory. I chose not to write about his announcement since I already explained why it made sense for White to make the switch last week, when we first learned such a development was likely. Furthermore, White’s prospects largely depend on just how bloody the Republican primary gets and whether Rick Perry can pull out a victory.

On a related note: For those interested in the coming Perry-Hutchison bloodbath, Robert Draper’s (long) investigation into the primary’s dynamics in today’s New York Times Magazine is a very interesting read.

In New York, with every passing week in which Rudy Giuliani is not announcing his decision, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that he’ll end up running for Senate. The Daily News is now reporting that Giuliani signed up as a long-term security consultant for the 2016 Olympics, which makes it hard to believe he is even considering challenging Gillibrand at this point. That’s making the GOP look elsewhere. Two weeks after Larchmont Mayor Lisa Feld floated her name, two new potential candidates emerged this week: Port Authority Commissioner Bruce Blakeman and former state Senator Mike Balboni, who could run as a moderate due to his participation in Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson’s administrations.

Another state whose political landscape was shook up this week is Tennessee. Not only did Rep. John Tanner announce his retirement, setting up a competitive open seat race, but the Democratic field in the Governor’s race narrow by two. First, state Senator Herron dropped out to seek Tanner’s House seat instead; second, businessman Ward Cammack pulled the plug on his campaign, citing his inability to raise enough funds. This leaves 3 candidates: state Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, former House Majority Leader Kim McMillan and Mike McWherter, the son of a former Governor. Whoever wins the August primary will have a shot in the general election, but it should be an uphill climb.

Finally, Tom Foley moved from Connecticut’s Senate race to the Governor’s race, which guarantees Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele will face a competitive primary. As the former Ambassador to Ireland and as one of the men who helped import the neo-liberal agenda to Iraq in the early years of the war (he was Director of Private Sector Development), Foley is clearly well-connected in the Republican establishment; that didn’t help him in the Senate race, but now he will not have to deal with Rob Simmons’s electability credentials and Linda McMahon’s vast fortune.

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. John Tanner (TN-08)
Will not retire No one

Second, updates to the Senate recruitment page:

CT-Sen, GOP former Ambassador Tom Foley dropped out
CT-Sen, Green Ralph Nader added to list
IN-Sen, GOP former Rep. John Hostettler announced run
NC-Sen, Dem former state Sen. Cal Cunningham is reportedly running
NY-Sen, GOP Port Authority Commissioner Bruce Blakeman added
former state Senator Mike Balboni added
VT-Sen, GOP businessman Len Britton announced run

Third, updates to gubernatorial races:

CT-Gov, GOP former Ambassador Tom Foley announced run
IA-Gov, GOP Christian Fong dropped out
MI-Gov, Dem Lansing mayor Virg Bernero added to list
NY-Gov, GOP former assistant Treasury Secretary Emil Henry Jr. added to list
TN-Gov, Dem businessman Ward Cammack dropped out
state senator Roy Herron dropped out
TX-Gov, Dem Henry “Hank” Gilbert dropped out
Houston Mayor Bill White announced run

Weekly 2010 update: New conservative candidates emerge in AR, OR and NH

Thanksgiving week was anything but quiet on the electoral front. Rep. Dennis Moore’s unexpected decision to retire created one of House Democrats’ biggest headache of the cycle; Houston Mayor Bill White gave Texas Democrats hope they might a shot at the Governor’s Mansion; two new politicians emerged as potential primary challengers to Kirsten Gillibrand; and Tom Tancredo opted out of the Governor’s race, choosing instead to help rally the party around Scott McInnis.

In Arkansas, the field of Republicans looking to take on on Blanche Lincoln has grown again: former state Senator Jim Holt, who lost to Lincoln by 12% in 2004 before failing in the 2006 open race for Lieutenant Governor, is reportedly preparing to jump in. Despite his relatively short tenure in the legislature, Holt is a force; known as a staunch conservative (he focused his prior statewide campaigns on gay marriage and immigration), he would be a top competitor for Republicans who’re already running. That’s sure to worry the NRSC: Arkansas might be conservative, but Holt would not be as much of a threat. Interestingly, his entry could be a test for Huckabee’s standing in the state: the former Governor is very close to Gilbert Baker and Curtis Coleman, while Holt is known as a critic.

Another candidate the GOP establishment could do without popped up in Oregon: Conservative activist Bill Sizemore announced he would run for Governor. Sizemore has been a fixture in state politics for more than a decade, as he has organized numerous anti-tax initiatives - many of them were successful. But he has been involved in numerous controversies - including racketeering allegations, investigations into his business dealings and even a jail sentence for contempt of court. Some of these were already around in 1998, when he lost the gubernatorial race 64% to 30%; if he ends up in the general election next year (which he might due to his conservative credentials, though Allen Alley has enough funds he remains favored) he would be hard pressed to be competitive.

Yet another conservative activist who’s looking at 2010 is Karen Testerman, who’s now exploring a run for Governor in New Hampshire. State Republicans have no candidate to field against John Lynch, so Testerman’s entry could be a good thing for the party: Having a gubernatorial nominee who can help turn out the party base would help the GOP over in the Senate race, especially if Kelly Ayotte wins the primary and continues to have problems with her right.

Finally, there are only four Republicans left in the Connecticut Senate race: state Senator Sam Caligiuri, the first candidate who jumped in the race, is also the first to drop out. While he was a promising contender back when Chris Dodd didn’t look as vulnerable as he does now, he did not have a big enough profile - nor a large enough bank account - to satisfy the GOP in what has become one of the party’s top priorities. (Caligiuri is running for the House instead, though he’ll have to get through another tough primary for the right to challenge Rep. Murphy in a district Obama won by 14%.) Former Ambassador Tom Foley is also considering dropping out, perhaps to run for Governor.

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. Dennis Moore (KS-03)
Will not retire Rep. Greg Walden (OR-02)

Second, updates to the Senate recruitment page:

AR-Sen, GOP former state Sen. Jim Holt added
CT-Sen, GOP state Senator Sam Caligiuri dropped out
NY-Sen, Dem former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. added to list
NY-Sen, GOP Larchmont Mayor Liz Feld added to list

Third, updates to gubernatorial races:

AZ-Gov, GOP Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio added
CO-Gov, GOP former Rep. Tom Tancredo ruled out run
CT-Gov, GOP former Ambassador Tom Foley added to list
NH-Gov, GOP conservative activist Karen Testerman “exploring” run
OR-Gov, GOP conservative activist Bill Sizemore announced run
former Rep. Greg Walden ruled out run
TX-Gov, Dem former Ambassador Tom Schieffer dropped out

Weekly 2010 update: Brace yourself, for someone is willing to run as a Dem in Kansas

Days after rumors erupted around Rudy Giuliani’s 2010 intentions, we have yet to receive any confirmation that the former New York City Mayor has indeed pulled the plug on the gubernatorial run and is preparing to challenge Kirsten Gillibrand; for all it’s worth, The Village Voice is now contradicting The Daily News and the AP to report that Giuliani will not run. Yet, that we are even talking about that possibility underscores the fact that the NRSC is still in a position to pull of formidable recruitment coups that would dramatically alter the Senate landscape: This past week also saw former Governor Tommy Thompson open the door to running in Wisconsin, as well as an increase in the buzz that North Dakota Governor John Hoeven might challenge Byron Dorgon.

In Kansas, Democrats finally have a candidate in the gubernatorial race: Tom Wiggans, a retired pharmaceutical executive. That the state party sounds very eager to embrace him speaks to how desperate they have gotten. Indeed, it looks unlikely that Wiggans (a political novice who spent his career in California before moving back to Kansas this January) can be much of a match for Senator Sam Brownback, the presumptive Republican nominee. While the fact that he has donated a lot of money to GOP candidates might not hurt him, what could is that he primarily looked interested in building connections with his donations: In 2008, he donated to the presidential campaigns of Obama, Giuliani, Romney and McCain.

On the other hand, Wiggans has two things going for him. First, he should be able to self-fund his campaign, which is all Democrats are looking for at this point. Second, Democrats are betting that, in the current anti-establishment context, the contrast between his business experience and Brownback’s service in the federal government will appeal to the state’s independent voters.

In Wyoming, Democratic Governor Dave Freudenthal has yet to announce whether he will challenge the state’s term-limit law, but the GOP is already getting organized. Two have already announced - former state Rep. Ron Micheli and House Speaker Colin Simpson - and a third just walked into the race: Matt Mead, who served as U.S. Attorney from 2001 to 2007, formed an exploratory committee. By my count, this makes him the fourth Republican U.S. attorney to seek political office this cycle (Chris Christie, Tim Griffin, Pat Meehan are the others), so keep an eye on the people Barack Obama is currently appointing: We might hear about them in the 2014 or 2016 cycles.

Finally, Maine looks to be competing with Minnesota for the title of most crowded gubernatorial race: former Speaker John Richardson announced this week that he would run for the Democratic nomination, joining a long list of credible contenders (former AG Rowe, state Senate President Elizabeth Mitchell, businesswoman Rosa Scarcelli and still others all have a credible path to the nomination). On the Republican side, no one new jumped in the race this week but I had missed state Senator Peter Mills’ candidacy announcement from a while ago; Mills, who got 35% in the GOP’s 2006 primary, joins two wealthy businessmen and still other candidates.

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 No one
Will not retire No one

Second, updates to the Senate recruitment page:

KY-Sen, GOP former Ambassador Cathy Bailey added to list
NC-Sen, Dem former LG Dennis Wicker will not run
NH-Sen, GOP businessman Sean Mahoney will not run
WI-Sen, GOP former Governor Tommy Thompson added to list

Third, updates to gubernatorial races:

KS-Gov, Dem retired businessman Tom Wiggans is running
ME-Gov, Dem former Mayor Donna Dion is running
State Conservation Commissioner Patrick McGowan added
former Speaker John Richardson announced run
Rosa Scarcelli is running
ME-Gov, GOP Waterville Mayor Paul LePage is running
state Senator Peter Mills is running
MN-Gov, GOP state Sen. Paul Koering dropped out (in August)
NY-Gov, GOP Rudy Giuliani reportedly will not run
OR-Gov, Dem former Hewlett-Packard VP Steve Shields dropped out
PA-Gov, GOP National Guardsman Robert Mansfield announced run
WI-Gov, Dem Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced run
WY-Gov, GOP former US Attorney Matt Mead: exploratory committee
former state Rep. Ron Micheli is runnin

Weekly 2010 update: Connecticut’s landscape is shuffled as North Carolina’s gets clearer

The past week brought us a radically altered landscape in Connecticut, where Jodi Rell’s abrupt retirement created yet another highly competitive gubernatorial race and triggered a flurry of questions - the most important of which (will Richard Blumenthal jump in?) has already been answered. The second state to be the focus of attention was North Carolina, where Bob Etheridge and Cal Cunningham’s announcements that they would not challenge Richard Burr finally brings some clarity to the Senate race: While there are still some Democrats who are considering jumping in and while attorney Kenneth Lewis is also in the race, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall can now position herself as the party’s front-runner.

In Vermont, the fate of the gubernatorial race continues to be in the hands of independent politicians. The surprise is that the first third-party entrant might not be a candidate for the Progressive Party but a former Republican state Senator: Michael Bernhardt is now saying he will decide what to do by the beginning of 2010, and that he is not impressed with the probable GOP nominee, Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie. Meanwhile, Progressive Party head Anthony Pollina, who came in front of the Democratic candidate in the 2008 race, is now considering seeking the Democratic nomination next year; that would sure be a major twist.

In Utah, Senator Bob Bennett continues to feel the heat from the right. A week after Attorney General Mark Shurtleff dropped out, 2 new challengers emerged: businessman Fred Lampropoulos, who had some limited success in a prior gubernatorial run, and Mike Lee, the son of Rex Lee (U.S. Solicitor General under Reagan and a former president of BYU). Remember that the large number of challengers does not necessarily help Bennett survive, quite the contrary it makes it likely that the senator will fail to clear 60% of delegates at the state convention, which would force him in a primary only against one opponent.

In New York, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s inability to build a solid approval rating is apparently making some Democrats nervous enough that talk of a possible primary challenge has not died down. Jonathan Tasini and Jon Cooper are the only declared candidates left, but two new names were brandied around this week: state Comptroller Bill DiNapoli and New York City Comptroller William Thompson, whose unexpectedly close loss to Michael Bloomberg is making him look like a far stronger politician than he was ever portrayed during the mayoral race. Neither DiNapoli nor Thompson have directly voiced any interest, however.

In Minnesota, we got yet another drop out: state Senator Michael Jungbauer is the second Republican this month who is leaving the gubernatorial race. After months of just about any ambitious politician jumping in, the time has come in which candidates assess their chances and strength. That said, I am surprised that it is the GOP field that’s getting smaller: While there are a number of prominent Democrats who are running, no Republican front-runner has emerged. With Jungbauer’s exit, there are 5 declared candidates left - 4 of them state legislators and the fifth a former state Auditor.

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 Governor Jodi Rell
Will not retire Rep. Danny Davis (IL-07)
Rep. Judy Biggert (IL-13)
Rep. Bob Etheridge (NC-02)

Second, updates to the Senate recruitment page:

IL-Sen, Dem Greenville city councilman Willie Boyd is running
businessman Corey Dabney is running
attorney Jacob Meister is running
Robert Marshall is running
IL-Sen, Green former alderman John Arrington is running
former judge Don Lowery is running
Thomas Kuna is running
Andy Martin is running
school board member Kathleen Thomas is running
former financial director Bob Zadek is running
IL-Sen, Green Jones LeAlan is running
NC-Sen, Dem former state Sen. Cal Cunningham rules out run
Rep. Bob Etheridge rules out run
NH-Sen, GOP Ovide Lamontagne announced run
NV-Sen, GOP former Board of Education member Greg Dagani announced run
NY-Sen, Dem state Comptroller Bill DiNapoli added to list
NYC Comptroller William Thompson added to list
UT-Sen, GOP businessman Fred Lampropoulos added to list
lawyer Mike Lee added to list

Third, updates to gubernatorial races: state

CO-Gov, GOP state Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry dropped out
CT-Gov, Dem Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will not run
CT-Gov, GOP Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele is running
former Rep. Rob Simmons will not run
IL-Gov, Dem attorney Ed Scanlan is running
community activist William Walls is running
IL-Gov, GOP Adam Andrzejewski is running
DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett will not run
businessman Ron Gidwitz will not run
former party chair Andy McKenna is running
Attorney General Jim Ryan is running
DuPage Co. Board chair Robert Schillerstrom is running
former Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka will not run
former Chamber of Commerce CEO Doug Whitley will not run
IL-Gov, Green Rich Whitney is running
MN-Gov, GOP state Senator Michael Jungbauer dropped out
TN-Gov, Dem state Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle is running
VT-Gov, Dem Anthony Pollina added to list
VT-Gov, Indie former state Rep. Michael Bernhardt added to list

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