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Leading Off:

VA-Gov: For several weeks now, we've been watching Ken Cuccinelli slowly falling, Wile E. Coyote-style, into the box canyon while the slide-whistle plays, and it looks like Monday was the day the little puff of smoke finally appeared at the bottom. For starters, the Washington Post, via SRBI, issued what may be its final poll of the race, and they find Democrat Terry McAuliffe opening up a double-digit lead on Republican Ken Cuccinelli: 51-39, with Libertarian Robert Sarvis still clocking in at 8. (One month ago, WaPo found T-Mac 47, Cuccinelli 39, Sarvis 10.) Cuccinelli's favorables are now an unsalvageable 41/58, but he's still faring better than the national GOP, who rack up 32/65 favorables.

The attacks on Cuccinelli's social conservatism must be working, because the gender gap is just staggering: Cuccinelli is winning 45-44 among men, but McAuliffe leads 58-34 among women. Downballot, it's looking like a clean sweep for the Dems, with Ralph Northam leading E.W. Jackson 52-39 for Lt. Governor, and Mark Herring leading Mark Obenshain 49-46 for Attorney General.

The other data point from Monday showing the direness of Cuccinelli's situation is fundraising data released by VPAP for the month of October. During the Oct. 1-Oct. 23 period, McAuliffe raised $8.1 million and ends with $1.6 million cash on hand. Cuccinelli, who was essentially triaged by national Republicans weeks ago, raised $2.9 million and has $604K CoH.

Week-by-week VA-Gov spending
Week-by-week VA-Gov spending
When I saw a WaPo article titled "Why Terry McAuliffe is beating Ken Cuccinelli in 5 charts" I assumed it'd just be rehash of poll data about their favorables and Cuccinelli's extreme positions ... but no, it's chock full of great new data about campaign spending, both overall (T-Mac and allies have outspent Cooch and allies $22 mil to $14 mil total) and specifically on TV. In particular, T-Mac's campaign alone has spent more than Cuccinelli, the RGA, and all other GOP groups combined, without even factoring in the VA Dems, Next Gen, Planned Parenthood, and so on.

There are also handy breakdowns of TV spending by week and by TV market (while the GOP has avoided getting blown out in the downstate markets, they've been doubled-up on in the expensive DC market, which is, y'know, where most of the voters live). The most telling graphs are the week-by-week ones (one of which you can see above), where in the last few weeks the Dems are peaking just as the GOP is pointing almost straight down. There's some chicken-and-egg in how the Democrats' financial edge got built up (i.e. GOP donors shut their wallets after Cuccinelli started tanking in the polls, leading to the ad drawdown and further tanking in the polls), but at this point, there really seems no doubt how the last week is going to play out.


LA-Sen: Congressman Bill Cassidy is not having a good month. His only announced Republican rival in the race to take on Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, former Colonel Rob Maness, just scored a big endorsement from the Senate Conservatives Fund. Maness has struggled with fundraising but if the group can open some doors for him or pony up some cash, he could emerge as a real threat to Cassidy’s right flank.

Another Republican state legislator is also refusing to rule out jumping into the race. State Sen. Elbert Guillory, who became the first African American to serve in the Louisiana legislative Republican caucus after he switched parties in May, is the latest Anybody But Cassidy name. State Reps. Paul Hollis and Alan Seabaugh are also sniffing out the race.

A crowded Republican field would probably help Cassidy slip through the jungle primary and emerge as Landrieu’s December runoff opponent next year if Landrieu fails to win outright with over 50 percent of the vote. However, it’s quite possible Republican infighting will prevent the party from focusing on Landrieu and allow her to win outright or at least damage the eventual nominee too much for him to win in December. Landrieu is still quite vulnerable in this conservative state but Republicans are not making life easier for themselves. (Darth Jeff)

MS-Sen: State Sen. Chris McDaniel has just scored FreedomWork's endorsement in his primary campaign against Republican incumbent Thad Cochran (who has still not announced if he will run again). McDaniel already has the backing of the Club for Growth, the Senate Conservatives Fund, and the Madison Project. McDaniel, like virtually every tea party candidate, has a long career of rejecting taxes and spending that contrasts well to Cochran’s long history of funding pork barrel projects.

Except, of course, for the times McDaniel voted for more taxes and spending. Clarion Ledger columnist Geoff Pender lists some of McDaniel's greatest hits: a vote for a  $90 million hospital tax, support for a $17 million bailout for sweet potato farmers, a vote for a bill funding a number of museums, and my personal favorite:

But in 2011, he signed on as co-author to a bill that would have created a state health insurance exchange and allowed the exchange to charge "assessments or user fees to health carriers."
Ladies and gentlemen of the far right, your conservative champion. (Darth Jeff)

NH-Sen: We haven't heard much from Scott Brown one way or the other lately, but here's a clue he's still trying to stay politically viable: he re-formed The People's Seat PAC (which was the name of his old Senate PAC)... as a New Hampshire political committee. At first glance, that would suggest that he's forging ahead with a possible, if improbable, run against Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire. However, the PAC isn't connected with any specific candidate, and Brown lists the purpose merely as backing "strong, dedicated candidates." So, maybe it's a way to start buttering up lower-level Granite State GOP electeds as a prelude to a vanity presidential run in 2016 ... or just a way to keep his foot in the door while he mulls his options.


FL-Gov: Nov. 4, the day before Election Day this year, is the big day for Charlie Crist. He says he'll be in St. Petersburg announcing ... something; he hasn't said what yet, and he says whatever it is, he isn't even fully decided yet. Given the timing (Nov. 1 is a change in a state law allowing a rise in caps on individual campaign contributions), his recent appearance working the crowd at the Democratic state party over the weekend, and the launch of a new candidate-ish website late last week, though, virtually all observers expect Crist to announce his gubernatorial candidacy at that point. (Now just watch as he announces he's running in the FL-13 special election...)

MD-Gov: As if Doug Gansler's drowning-in-a-sea-of-Kool-Aid gubernatorial bid didn't need one more piece of bad news, his principal Democratic primary rival, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, just got a top-tier union endorsement. The Maryland-DC council of the AFL-CIO gave its backing to Brown over the weekend; the council represents 296,000 workers in Maryland.

NE-Gov: Here's a decidedly new wrinkle in the open seat Nebraska gubernatorial race. You might remember that Republican AG Jon Bruning rather surprisingly lost the 2012 GOP Senate nomination, and earlier this year he turned down a shot at yet another Senate open seat in Nebraska. Well, now, his name has suddenly bubbled up for the gubernatorial race instead; he's been polling the race, apparently thinking that his name rec might help him prevail in a primary against five lesser-known Republicans.

This may be a shot across Bruning's bow, or just a coincidence, but two of Nebraska's GOP elder statespeople gave their backing on Monday to a different contender, businessman Pete Ricketts. The emphasis should be on "elder," though; it's not clear how many people will remember ex-Govs. Kay Orr (1987-1991) and Charles Thone (1979-1983).

NJ-Gov: He's large, he's charismatic, and he's created an effective public persona by walking the line between being bullying and being aw-shucks lovable ... no, I'm not talking about Chris Christie, I'm talking about former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal. It's not exactly clear how (or if) they know each other, but the new ad from the Christie camp features an endorsement from a sweater-and-tie-clad Shaq. O'Neal has previously been complimentary of Barack Obama and helped push Michelle Obama's child fitness plans, so it's also unclear whether he's actively dabbling in Republicanism now or just doing a personal favor.

NM-Gov: A prominent name is suddenly jumping without any of the usual prolonged name-floating into the New Mexico gubernatorial race's Democratic primary, where AG Gary King is the presumed frontrunner but hasn't made much headway on fundraising or generally revving people up, yet. It's not a prominent name from politics (though he does have a stint as a Michael Dukakis speechwriter in 1988 on his resume), but rather from business: it's Alan Webber, probably best known as creator of business magazine Fast Company. The question, for now, about Webber is whether he can and will self-fund.

RI-Gov: Some big developments out of this small state. Providence Mayor Angel Taveras made his long-expected bid for Governor official on Monday and he was greeted with an endorsement from the Rhode Island Association of Firefighters.

Taveras' likely rival for the Democratic nomination, state Treasurer Gina Raimondo, also made news when she directly addressed rumors she may run as an independent. Raimondo seemed to rule out a party switch pretty conclusively, agreeing with a reporter that if she runs she is one hundred percent certain to do it as a Democrat. It's also looking increasingly likely that the long awaited Taveras-Raimondo primary duel will turn into a three-way race. Former Obama administration official Clay Pell recently resigned from his job at the Department of Education and is meeting with Democratic groups.

On the Republican side, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung is expected to announce his candidacy Nov. 4. However, Fung won't have a clear path to the Republican nomination. Businessman and 2010 Moderate Party Gubernatorial nominee Ken Block has joined the Republican Party and announced he will run for Governor. Block spent $468,000 of his own money in 2010 to get 6.5 percent of the vote, and he is planning to self-fund again. (Darth Jeff)


AL-06: The field to replace retiring Rep. Spencer Bachus in the 6th, one of the reddest districts in the country at 25% Obama, has been slow to take shape after a few likely frontrunners decided against it, but it finally has its first prominent candidate, Republican state Rep. Paul DeMarco, chair of Alabama's House Judiciary Committee. AL-01's upcoming establishment-vs.-nut runoff may be instructive in how well DeMarco is likely to fare against a more tea-flavored rival, in this case, surgeon Chad Mathis, who's also already in the race in the 6th.

MA-06, MA-Gov: There hadn't been much doubt this was happening, but now it's more-or-less official: Republican ex-state Sen. Richard Tisei, who narrowly lost a 2012 challenge to Rep. John Tierney, has filed an exploratory committee toward trying again in 2014. Tisei also issued a statement decrying "the hyper-partisanship exhibited by both parties on a daily basis." It's also worth noting that Tisei's decision brings some clarity to the gubernatorial race, as he'd been the last noteworthy GOPer who hadn't ruled out a bid there ... which likely means 2010 loser Charlie Baker will have an unimpeded path to the nomination for another try.

MN-06: A Roll Call article on self-funding candidates running for Congress points to some intel we missed somewhere in the last few months: former state Rep. Phil Krinkie not only threw his hat into the ring, but also put in $300K of his own money. Tom Emmer is widely considered to be the GOP frontrunner to replace the retiring Michele Bachmann, but Krinkie's money could help him standout as the non-Emmer in a crowded field. (The article also adds a new wrinkle to the candidacy of Republican Carl Domino in FL-18; although he's only put $125K of his own money into the race so far, he's self-funded much more than that in previous legislative races.)

NV-03: Somewhat out of the blue comes a primary challenge to Democrat Erin Bilbray, who already seems to have locked down establishment support for the nod to take on GOPer Joe Heck in this nearly 50-50 suburban district. She'll be facing Frank Kassela, who's never run for office before (and who doesn't seem to have even taken any positions on anything political before, having registered as a Democrat only last week), but who is well-known in the professional poker community and may have in fact earned so much money playing poker to self-fund. Kassela doesn't seem to have learned how to play the media game either, yet, seeing as how he simply filed unannounced on Monday and wasn't around to answer press follow-ups.

NV-04: A brief Ralston tweet is all we have to go on so far, but it sounds like Republican state Asm. Cresent Hardy has filed to run against freshman Dem Steve Horsford in the 54% Obama 4th. Hardy (whose name only popped up in connection with the race last week) represents a 45% Obama district in the Assembly, so he'll need to recalibrate quite a bit to run in this Dem-leaning suburban district.

WA-03: There's still no Democratic opponent in Washington's potentially-swingy 3rd district, but Jaime Herrera Beutler has a primary opponent now from the right, Michael Delavar. If Delavar's name sounds vaguely familiar, he's the commercial pilot who was the GOP's candidate in this district in 2008, getting flattened 64-36 by Brian Baird; the previous candidacy, though, is the only thing that particularly elevates him out of Some Paulist Dude territory.

Other races:

Boston Mayor: Well here’s something you don’t see everyday: a politician leaking unfavorable internal poll numbers. But that’s exactly what City Councilor John Connolly did in a presentation to his finance committee. He revealed that his latest three-day tracking poll shows him tied 43-43 with his rival state Rep. Marty Walsh. By contrast, a Connolly poll from early October showed him beating Walsh 44 to 32. No memo has been released for this latest survey.

Is Connolly trying to warn his team against complacency or has the race really settled into a dead heat? Unfortunately, independent polls aren’t answering that question yet. A recent MassINC survey showed Connolly up only 41 to 39, while a University of New Hampshire poll from the same period has Connolly leading 47-38. Only time will tell what the state of the race really is. (Darth Jeff)

Novoyork autonomous okrug administrator: Comrades! Even the hegemonic organ of the haute bourgeoisie, the New York Times, must now acknowledge the imminent triumph of the vanguard of the revolutionary masses, led by the father of the great family, Bill de Blasiovich! Research by Marist University demonstrates even greater productivity from laborers on the de Blasiovich campaign, crushing the reactionary Lhotaite saboteurs, 68-23; favorables for the running dog Joe Lhota have been driven even further downward, to 25/27.

Footage of most recent de Blasiovich/Lhota debate
Footage of most recent de Blasiovich/Lhota debate
Special Elections: South Carolina's 93rd state House District is a vacant Democratic seat centered in Calhoun County where a special election will be held Tuesday. The candidates are Democrat Russell Ott, the son of the previous incumbent, and Republican Charles Stoudemire, who ran for this seat in 2010 and received a third of the vote. (Johnny Longtorso)

VA-AG: With the bell tolling prematurely for Ken Cuccinelli, the marquee event in Virginia has drifted down to the Attorney General's race, one of only three statewide offices in Virginia and the one that's the usual stepping stone to the gubernatorial mansion. The Republicans seem to know this is their only shot at preserving one of those three offices, and the Republican State Leadership Committee (the GOP equivalent to the DLCC, focused on legislative and downballot races) has just pumped another $660,000 into the campaign of the GOP candidate, state Sen. Mark Obenshain (to whom they've already given over $2 million). In a contrast with the gubernatorial race, the GOP actually leads in ad spending in the AG race: Obenshain has spent $1.6 million on ads, compared with $1 million for Dem rival state Sen. Mark Herring.

All that may still be for naught, though: the Virginia Democratic Party just released an internal poll, taken by Garin Hart Yang, putting Herring ahead of Obenshain 45-42. (See also the similar numbers in the WaPo poll, mentioned above.) The VA Dems are also out with a new ad that doesn't explicitly equate Obenshain to Cuccinelli's social conservatism, but that is entirely centered around Obenshain's support for Virginia's controversial transvaginal ultrasound law.

VA State House: In case there was any doubt that the Democrats are poised to do some damage to the Republicans' large edge in the Virginia House of Delegates, here's a leaked internal poll in a fourth race showing a neck-and-neck contest. It isn't even in one of the NoVa seats that have been highest on people's radars: it's in HD-94, a 52% Obama seat in Newport News held by GOP freshman David Yancey. A new Myers Research poll for his Democratic opponent, firefighter Rob Farinholt, puts Yancey ahead only 48-47 on the named ballot (and Generic D ahead of Generic R 48-41). Atop the ticket, Terry McAuliffe leads 50-40 in the district.

Grab bag:

Previews: In case you missed them over the weekend, Daily Kos Elections is out with multiple previews of next week's general elections. Steve Singiser looks at the races in New Jersey and Virginia, where the focus has started to drift down from the gubernatorial races to the legislatures and the Virginia AG race, while David Jarman looks at two very small races (a $15 minimum wage measure in SeaTac, Washington, and a county council fight over a coal terminal in Whatcom County, Washington) that have very big implications.

And if you're wondering what big city mayor's races are worth watching on Election Night, check out Darth Jeff's preview of November's most competitive mayoral elections. Some we've mentioned in the digest before, while others are new but offer exciting and unpredictable match-ups.

Site Features: Daily Kos Elections is proud to unveil our new elections calendar. For the first time anywhere, data on every state legislative special election, gubernatorial race, and notable mayoral race, county executive election, and ballot initiative is in one place complete with candidate lists and poll closing times. The calendar currently includes 2013's remaining races and we will be keeping it going for 2014 and beyond. (Darth Jeff)

WATN?: Ex-Rep. Rick Renzi was one of the names that always got tossed around like Bob Ney and Duke Cunningham when it came to delivering the litany of corrupt House GOPers in orbit around Tom DeLay during the Republican Party's mid-00s glory days. Justice seems kind of delayed here (seeing as how DeLay, Ney, and Cunningham are already out of prison), but Renzi finally got his comeuppance too; he was sentenced to 3 years on Monday after being convicted on 17 counts including extortion and racketeering.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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