- FL-19: Well, there he goes. Republican Rep. Trey Radel resigned from Congress on Monday, following his guilty plea to charges of cocaine possession late last year. Radel, a freshman, initially struck a defiant stance about his political future, despite calls from GOP leadership that he step down in the wake of his conviction. But after a stint in rehab, during which sharks began to gather in the primary and the House Ethics Committee said it would investigate his behavior, Radel wavered and wouldn’t say if he’d seek re-election. So it’s not surprising that now—perhaps with an ugly poll in his back pocket—he’s finally decided to bail.
Radel’s departure will trigger a special election that could happen relatively soon: The primary to replace the late Rep. Bill Young took place less than three months after his death. But unlike in the Young race, here the primary is all-important, as Florida’s 19th is a safely red seat. (Mitt Romney carried it 61-39.) As alluded above, Radel already had one declared GOP opponent, ex-state Rep. Paige Kreegel, whose allies had started duking it out with another likely entrant, state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto.
Naples Vice Mayor Gary Price also says he’s weighing a bid, and businessman Curt Clawson, who actually announced before Radel’s resignation, is in the mix, too. Another possibility is former Naples City Councilman Chauncey Goss Chauncey Goss, who, like Kreegel, ran in the primary in 2012. He’s also the son of ex-Rep. Porter Goss, who used to hold this seat.
Looming above all these names, though, is the man who served between Goss and Radel: ex-Rep. Connie Mack, who waged an unsuccessful campaign for Senate last cycle. Mack’s name recognition and connections would give him a big advantage if he were to seek his old post, but given his reputation as the “Charlie Sheen of Florida politics,” voters hoping for a clean break from Radel may look elsewhere.
- MT-Sen: Steve Daines (R) $: $1.04 million raised, $1.9 million cash-on-hand
- NE-Sen: Ben Sasse (R): $567,000 raised, $1 million cash-on-hand
- CA-36: Raul Ruiz (D-inc): $413,000 raised, $1.2 million cash-on-hand; Brian Nestande (R): $230,000 raised, $302,000 cash-on-hand
- TN-04: Jim Tracy (R): $150,000 raised, $840,000 cash-on-hand
- IA-Sen: Conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats, who has been considering a Senate bid for some time, now says he “hope[s] to reach a decision by Feb. 15.”
- KS-Sen: A Tarrance Group poll for Sen. Pat Roberts finds him obliterating his GOP primary rival, physician Milton Wolf, by a 69-15 margin.
- NC-Sen: Rasmussen: Kay Hagan (D-inc): 40, Thom Tillis (R): 47; Hagan: 39, Greg Brannon (R): 43.
- OK-Sen-B: Just a few days after saying he was considering a bid for Sen. Tom Coburn’s seat, former Gov. Frank Keating says he won’t run in the GOP primary.
- VA-Sen: Former RNC chief Ed Gillespie’s path to the GOP nomination is growing clearer. Del. Ben Cline has decided not to pursue a bid, and tea partier Howie Lind has pulled the plug on his own campaign. But one prominent Republican isn’t boarding the Gillespie Express: None other than ex-Sen. John Warner has endorsed the Democrat who succeeded him, Sen. Mark Warner. It’s another one of those “semi-moderate senior Republican unhappy with the GOP’s direction” situations (sort of like Dick Lugar supporting Michelle Nunn), but it’s all the more remarkable here because the younger Warner gave the elder a very stiff re-election fight in 1996.
- FL-Gov: Reporter Marc Caputo got his hands on a new internal poll from Democratic pollster Hamilton Strategies that shows ex-Gov. Charlie Crist leading Republican Gov. Rick Scott 49-44. We don’t know who paid for the survey (just that some unnamed “Tallahassee consultants” shared it with Caputo), but presumably it was leaked by Crist allies after a recent PPP poll found Crist’s edge over Scott shrinking to 43-41. One notable feature of the Hamilton poll is that the sample was 41 percent Republican to 40 Democrat; PPP’s was a much bluer 41 percent Democratic and 34 percent Republican, so that makes Hamilton’s numbers even more positive for Crist by comparison.
- MI-Gov: The DGA is reportedly getting an early start in Michigan, with reservations of more than $1 million in ad time starting this week, per Politico. The spots themselves are not yet available.
- PA-Gov: State Treasurer Rob McCord just announced that he’s received the endorsement of the Chocolate Workers in his bid for Democratic nomination. However, sources close to the Katie McGinty campaign insist that the Lollipop Guild and Oompa-Loompas are still very much in play.
- RI-Gov: Attorney Clay Pell, who had been considering a run for governor since last fall, will formally enter the Democratic primary on Tuesday. In addition to being a grandson of the late Sen. Claiborne Pell, Pell also has a famous wife, the Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan. However, two other heavyweights are already seeking the Democratic nomination—Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and state Treasurer Gina Raimondo—so Pell will have his work cut out for him.
- SD-Gov, -AL: Political consultant Steve Jarding, who managed several victorious Democratic campaigns over the years, including retiring Sen. Tim Johnson’s last win in 2008, says he won’t run for either governor or House in South Dakota this year.
- WI-Gov: Marquette Law’s new poll of the Wisconsin governor’s race sees Republican Gov. Scott Walker leading Democrat Mary Burke 47-41. Back in October, Marquette found a closer 47-45 Walker edge, but as you can see, the incumbent’s numbers haven’t changed, only his challenger’s have. Burke is still almost entirely unknown, and the campaign has scarcely begun, so I’d chalk up that shift to just the natural ebb and flow in polling. Walker, however, did see his job approval rise, from 49-47 last time to 51-42 now.
- CO-07: Former state GOP vice-chair Don Ytterberg filed a statement of candidacy with the FEC last fall, but it wasn’t clear if he was actually running seeing as his campaign account had all of $250 in it. But apparently he is going to take on Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter, and he’s kicking off his bid on Wednesday. Last cycle, Perlmutter fended off a heavily self-funded challenge from beer magnate Joe Coors, and at 56-41 Obama, his 7th District is solidly Democratic, so Ytterberg faces a very uphill battle.
- FL-13: Just as we imagined, Democrat Alex Sink is hammering Republican David Jolly in a new TV ad for lobbying “for a group committed to privatizing Social Security.” (We like to call this “the bad kind of SSP.”) There’s no word on the size of the buy.
- FL-18: Rep. Patrick Murphy continues to prove that he’s both lucky and good. The most prominent Republican who had still been weighing a challenge to the freshman Democrat, former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, ultimately decided against a bid. That leaves Murphy, who represents a tough district that Mitt Romney carried, with a remarkably weak slate of potential opponents, none of whom have raised bupkes. Murphy continues to haul in huge bucks, including another half-million in the fourth quarter, so it’ll be very interesting to see what the GOP field’s fundraising reports look like at the end of this week.
- KS-04: Here’s another Republican congressman who gave up his seat for an unsuccessful bid for Senate but is now considering a comeback. Rep. Todd Tiahrt, who lost a 2010 GOP primary to now-Sen. Jerry Moran, says he’s thinking about challenging sophomore Rep. Mike Pompeo. Tiahrt and Pompeo are both Republicans, but Pompeo is incredibly disliked. In fact, after his initial primary victory four years ago, most of the other Republicans who ran against Pompeo wouldn’t even endorse him.
But remarkably, Tiahrt’s framing his potential run by saying he’s more conservative than the already super-conservative Pompeo. In fact, according to DW-Nominate scores, Pompeo was the 63rd-most conservative Republican in the House last year while Tiahrt, surprisingly, moved more toward the center over the course of his career. A member of the Gingrich revolution’s class of ’94, Tiahrt was the 31st-most conservative Republican in his first term but “only” the 145th-most in his final term. That probably says more about how the Republican Party has shifted to the right over the years, but evidently, Tiahrt’s more than ready to play catch-up with the Overton Window.
- NY-01: Self-funding attorney George Demos is already running a TV ad whacking his GOP primary opponent, state Sen. Lee Zeldin, over Obamacare. Demos attacks Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop for “vot[ing] to make Obamacare national law” (ooh, national! scary!), then goes after Zeldin for allegedly “vot[ing] to fund Obamacare.” Zeldin is howling mad because he says that the bill Demos cites didn’t provide any state funding for the Affordable Care Act. But he doesn’t dispute that the bill did appropriate federal money for New York’s health insurance exchanges, so good luck to Zeldin explaining that nuance to voters.
- PA-06: It looks like Democrats are likely to wind up with businessman Mike Parrish as the party’s nominee in Pennsylvania’s open—and swingy—6th Congressional District. The DCCC says (on the record, which is unusual) that he’s the only candidate they’re talking to, and one top alternative, state Rep. Mark Rozzi, is pulling his name from contention. Rozzi went one further and endorsed Parrish, in part because he thinks Parrish is “a conservative Democrat.”
Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone also appears to have gotten the D-Trip’s message, since she’s bailing, too. Two other Democratic names are still in the mix, 2010 and 2012 nominee Manan Trivedi and state Sen. Andy Dinniman, but they may well follow Rozzi and Cozzone’s lead. Republicans, meanwhile, have also united around a single candidate, Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello.
- PA-16: Republican Rep. Joe Pitts occupies a seat that, at 52-46 Romney, would be difficult for a Democrat to win, particularly against an incumbent. But local Democrats have nevertheless done a good job recruiting former elected official, ex-state Rep. Tom Houghton, who announced that he’d run against Pitts on Monday. Houghton served only one term in the state House, though, before getting swamped out in the GOP wave of 2010.
- VA-08: This is definitely turning into an “everybody and his mother” election, at least as far as the Democratic primary is concerned. Del. Mark Sickles announced his entry into the contest for Virginia’s newly open 8th Congressional District on Monday, and Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille is also reportedly set to run. Three other Democrats are already in the race and a fourth, ex-Lt. Gov. Don Beyer, also looks poised to join the field.
- SD Mayor: SurveyUSA is back to its old whiplash-inducing ways. Their latest poll of next month’s mayoral runoff finds Republican Kevin Faulconer down to a 49-44 lead over Democrat David Alvarez, compared with a huge 53-37 advantage just two weeks ago. But if you trace SUSA’s results back to the beginning, they’ve really been all over the place:
Tight race… huge Republican lead… tight race… huge Republican lead… back to tight race again. It’s very unlikely that the contest has actually gyrated this much, though SUSA’s newest numbers may be closer to the mark, as the only other poll we’ve seen, a PPP internal for the California Democratic Party, gave Faulconer a mere 46-45 edge. But we may not really know where things stand until Election Day, which is Feb. 11.
- Special Elections: Three on Tuesday, and Jonny Longtorso, as always, has previews:
Alabama HD-104: This is an open Republican seat in the Mobile area. The candidates are Democrat Stephen Carr, a disaster response and recovery program manager, and Republican Margie Wilcox, a businesswoman. This is a heavily Republican seat, so it’s not likely to be close.
Pennsylvania HD-78: This is an open Republican seat consisting of Fulton County and parts of Bedford and Huntington Counties (directly southeast of Johnstown). The candidates here are Democrat Barbara Barron, a retired school principal, and Republican Jesse Topper, a Republican state committeeman. This is another heavily-Republican district, going 72-27 for John McCain in 2008 and approximately 77-22 Romney in 2012.
Texas HD-50: This is the runoff for an open Democratic seat that blooms out of Austin into northeastern Travis County . The candidates are Democrat Celia Israel, a realtor, and Republican Mike VanDeWalle, a chiropractor.
- VA State Senate: The recount in Virginia’s 6th Senate District began on Monday morning and was completed by the afternoon. Democrat Lynwood Lewis increased his lead from nine votes to a mighty 11-vote margin. Republican candidate Wayne Coleman proceeded to concede, meaning Democrats have held Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam’s Senate seat. And with that, they will seize control of the chamber: While the Senate will be equally divided, Northam can cast a tie-breaking vote. That E.W. Jackson nomination ended up being quite costly for the GOP. (Taniel)
- WI State Senate: Here’s some very welcome news for Wisconsin Democrats. GOP state Sen. Dale Schultz, who has long held down a light blue district thanks to his personal popularity and reputation as a moderate, will retire at the end of this term. Schultz was the rare Republican who occasionally dissented from Gov. Scott Walker’s agenda, earning him a primary challenge from the right in the form of conservative state Rep. Howard Marklein.
And Republicans, whether they nominate Marklein or someone else, will have a much tougher time holding this 57-42 Obama seat without Schultz. Indeed, the 17th District is by far the most Democratic seat held by Republican in the state Senate (Sen. Tammy Baldwin also carried it last cycle, 52-46), meaning Democrats have a real shot at a pickup here. Unfortunately, Democrat John Lehman is retiring in a comparably red seat, so battling back from the party’s current 18-15 deficit will still be very difficult.
- West Virginia: Filing closed Saturday in the Mountain State for the May 13 primary. Three candidates from each party are competing in the open race for the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Jay Rockefeller, but the nominees will almost certainly be Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.
Despite some Democratic hopes that Capito could lose her primary to a less-electable fire-breathing conservative, only two Some Dudes entered the ring to face her. Former Del. Pat McGeehan had spent months trying to define himself as the conservative alternative to Capito, but McGeehan ended up filing for his old job in the state House instead. Daily Kos Elections rates the November general election matchup between Capito and Tennant as Likely Republican.
It’s a crowded race to succeed Capito in the Charleston-area WV-02. Seven Republicans are in the hunt here, including former Sen. Steve Harrison, former U.S. Trade Commissioner Charlotte Lane, and former Maryland state Sen. Alex Mooney, with no obvious front-runner. On the Democratic side, former state party chair Nick Casey looks like the favorite over Del. Meshea Poore. We rate the general election as Lean Republican.
In WV-03, located in the southern portion of the state, incumbent Democrat Nick Rahall faces a primary from veteran Richard Ojeda. The winner will take on Republican state Sen. Evan Jenkins in a race we currently have at Lean Democratic. At the other side of the state in WV-01, Republican incumbent David McKinley and state Auditor Glen Gainer, his Democratic challenger, face no primary opposition. We rate this seat as Likely Republican.
For a look at upcoming filing deadlines and primary dates, check out our calendar here. (Jeff Singer)