- ND-Gov: Even though he probably could have easily won another term, Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple has decided not to run for re-election next year. Dalrymple had served as lieutenant governor until 2010, when then-Gov. John Hoeven won election to the Senate, but Dalrymple handily won a full term in his own right in 2012. However, he’d been cagey about his future plans all cycle, so his retirement is not a surprise. And given the dominant role Republicans play in North Dakota politics, there will be plenty of candidates looking to succeed Dalrymple. We took note of a few possibilities in our Great Mentioner series earlier this year, including Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, state Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk, and former Rep. Rick Berg, who lost a humiliating race for Senate three years ago to Heidi Heitkamp. And sure enough, Roll Call‘s Eli Yokley reports that both Wrigley and Stenehjem are interested, but they’re privately working out a deal where only one of them will run. Other names will surely pop up as well. Speaking of Heitkamp, she’s probably the one Democrat who could make the general election interesting. Almost from the moment she won her near-miraculous Senate campaign, she’s refused to rule out a bid for governor. It’s a post she came close to winning in 2000, the last time the seat was open. Heitkamp, who was the state’s attorney general at the time, actually led in the polls late in the race, but after she revealed she had breast cancer in October, she wound up losing to Hoeven 55-45. If she’s hungry for a second crack at the job, an open seat in a presidential year is going to be her best bet. But it would still be very difficult. It’s one thing to go from state office to Congress; it’s quite another to attempt the reverse. Republicans would tie Heitkamp to Barack Obama at every available opportunity, and while they certainly tried that in 2012, they’d now have an actual voting record to link her to. The intensely unlikeable Berg once griped, “Everyone’s pretty likable. The issue is not about a personality contest. This whole thing kind of boils down to, do you want someone who’s going to fight against President Obama.” That kind of attack fell just short before, but it should resonate more strongly now. There’s another issue at play here, too: Even if Heitkamp were to win, she wouldn’t be able to appoint a successor. That’s because the Republican-held legislature passed a law earlier this year that would require a special election in the event of a Senate vacancy, a move specifically designed to thwart Heitkamp and ensure her seat would return to Republican hands. (The GOP would be heavily favored to pick it up.) For that reason, national Democrats would certainly prefer that Heitkamp stay put. But on the flipside, Heitkamp’s alternative—seeking re-election in 2018—isn’t such an enticing prospect for her personally. After winning by just 1 percent in a presidential year, her prospects of victory in a midterm election, especially if a Democrat is in the White House, would be quite tough. Democrats will be on defense in many difficult seats that year (Montana, Indiana, and Missouri among them), and North Dakota would probably top that list. So even if a gubernatorial run would be a real challenge, Heitkamp might like her odds better in Bismarck than Washington.
- IL-Sen: While much of the national Democratic establishment has sided with Rep. Tammy Duckworth, several state-level Democrats are showing a lot more reluctance. Both the state and Cook County Democratic Parties recently voted to remain neutral in the primary, and state Sen. Kwame Raoul has endorsed former Chicago Urban League head Andrea Zopp. Raoul, who holds Barack Obama’s old legislative seat, has been growing in prominence over the last few years, so he may have some pull. State Senate President John Cullerton is also touting a non-Duckworth Democrat, but his preferred pick is state Sen. Napoleon Harris. Cullerton says that he’ll back Harris should he get in: Harris hasn’t committed to anything yet, but he sounds increasingly likely to enter the contest. Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin has also made noises about running and recently formed an exploratory committee, though there’s speculation he’s really just planning to run for the House if Rep. Danny Davis retires this cycle. The eventual nominee will face GOP Sen. Mark Kirk.
- KY-Sen, Gov: On Saturday, the Kentucky Republican Party granted Sen. Rand Paul his wish when they voted to switch from a May presidential primary to a March caucus, giving Paul the ability to both run for re-election and for president. (Kentucky law prohibits a candidate from seeking multiple offices on the same ballot.) However, the Lexington Herald-Leader‘s Sam Youngman tells us that the state central committee came extremely close to rejecting their junior senator. Committee members were not at all persuaded by Paul’s promise to transfer $250,000 to the party to pay for the caucus, especially since Paul initially said he’d already sent them the money. Paul has also never had a good relationship with his party’s establishment, and they just didn’t trust him to transfer the money as he guaranteed that he would. Had the GOP voted to maintain the primary, Youngman says that Paul planned to run for re-election in Kentucky and for president in the other 49 states. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saved Paul from humiliation at literally the eleventh hour. A top McConnell aide and former RNC Chair Mike Duncan successfully pitched a compromise to the committee: There would be a caucus, but only if Paul transferred the $250,000 by Sept. 18. While Paul has never been a loyal vote for McConnell in the Senate, the two are allies back home. Paul quickly got behind McConnell’s 2014 re-election campaign and helped McConnell reach out to angry conservatives who might have otherwise have voted for Matt Bevin in the primary. On Saturday, it was McConnell’s turn to come to his colleague’s aid during his time of need. But the Kentucky GOP isn’t still one big happy family. On Friday, Paul endorsed Bevin’s gubernatorial bid, but Bevin declined to back Paul’s presidential campaign in return. Bevin claims that it has nothing to do with Paul’s role in last year’s Senate primary, but it’s hard to believe he didn’t get at least a little bit of satisfaction from spurning Paul.
- NH-Gov: Executive Councilor Chris Sununu has made it no secret that he’s very interested in running for governor even if Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan runs for re-election, but another Republican is making some noises about jumping in. State Rep. Frank Edelblut recently formed an exploratory committee and put $250,000 of his own money behind it. Edelblut has a business background and if he has some more money to burn, he could make things interesting.
- CA-24: In the race to succeed retiring Rep. Lois Capps, Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi just endorsed Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, the consensus favorite. Carbajal’s chief rival on the Democratic side is Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, but she’s struggled to earn much establishment support. Indeed, she’s one of just a few notable women candidates in the country who hasn’t earned the backing of EMILY’s List.
- IL-13: The DCCC is talking to a new potential recruit to run against GOP Rep. Rodney Davis in Illinois’ swingy 13th District, assistant state Attorney General Tom Banning. He doesn’t have elective experience, but it sounds like he has an interesting background: He was raised by a single mother, then, he says, “worked [his] way out of poverty” by enlisting in the Marines. He served in Operation Just Cause (which terminated Manuel Noriega’s narco-kleptocracy in Panama in 1989), and then won a Bronze Star in Afghanistan with the Illinois National Guard. Another Democrat, Sangamon County Board member Tony DelGiorno, also says he’s interested, though it doesn’t sound like he’s been talking to the D-Trip. (In the words of the State Journal Register, “he plans to run as a progressive and thinks the DCCC is misguided if it wants a more conservative candidate.”) But he is pissed that perennial candidate David Gill, who’s unsuccessfully sought this seat four times as a Democrat, has decided to run again as an independent. DelGiornio rightly thinks that Gill can only act as a spoiler, and Gill doesn’t really disagree! Get a load of this delusional b.s.:
“The presence of a Democrat will serve as a spoiler. I would win hands down if it was just independent me against Republican Davis.”
This is insane, of course. Politics just doesn’t work this way, and Gill knows there will be a Democrat on the ballot. He could at least run for the party’s nomination again, but instead, he’s wants to be a purity troll and help keep Democrats in the minority in the House. What a schmuck.
- KY-06: Kentucky’s 6th was one of those seats that sort of unexpectedly slipped away at the last moment in 2012: Democrats had actually managed to shore the district up a bit in redistricting, and Rep. Ben Chandler has always been a good fit for the area and had a reputation has a strong campaigner. But in a way, Chandler’s loss to Republican Andy Barr was sort of an overhang from 2010, despite the very different nature of the electoral climate. There simply wasn’t room anymore for a Blue Dog Democrat to represent coal country, not when Mitt Romney carried the district by a 56-42 margin. But despite the tough odds, the DCCC is trying to take a shot at reclaiming the seat by recruiting Matt Jones, a very popular sports radio host in Kentucky. Jones has lately been branching out from athletics to politics, and he even served as the emcee of this year’s Fancy Farm picnic. Both Jones and the D-Trip confirm they’ve been talking to one another, but Jones says he doesn’t want to make a decision until discuss it with his radio listeners—which is probably a savvy way of saying, “Let me put out some feelers and build up some buzz before I take the leap.” It would be a very difficult race for Jones, but basketball is like a religion in the Bluegrass State, and if he can win over a few parishioners who think it matters more than you support the University of Kentucky than Barack Obama, maybe he can drain a lucky bank-shot from beyond the arc.
- Advertising: If you’re one of those people who pays close attention to the relative value of advertising dollars in different races (which doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a campaign pro; you might just be attempting to Moneyball your contributions), you’re probably well aware of the problem of “wasted eyeballs.” In short: Money gets spent on ads that mostly reach ineligible voters because they’re on the wrong side of state lines, or at the House level, of district lines. Google and digital firm Targeted Victory have put together an illustration that shows just how deep that problem goes: They calculate that nearly 75 percent of all spending on broadcast media on House races in 2014 (worth $240 million) was wasted. Bear in mind that these actors have an ulterior motive at work here by releasing this data: They’re trying to woo campaigns over to the more precise control that comes with digital media, instead of broadcast ads. Also keep in mind that broadcast ad buys tend to be targeted toward older voters who probably aren’t going to reached digitally anyway, since they aren’t spending much time, if any, online. But their interactive map is great fun to putter around on: you can check out the top 10 most wasteful House races of 2014 was IL-10, where there was a lot of money sloshing around and all the broadcast ads were in the Chicago market, where there are more than a dozen other districts covered, meaning 93 percent of all broadcast ad money was wasted. If you switch to the “find a district” mode, you can look at waste rates in the abstract in any district. The waste ranges between 0 percent in AK-AL and 6 percent in MT-AL, to races in the New York City and Los Angeles markets which are even worse than Chicago: In fact, NYC races feature 97 percent waste!