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Swing State Project

Try your hand at gerrymandering California and Arizona (because their commissions might vanish soon) (March 5, 2015, 10:00 AM)

Interactive map of Arizona's current congressional districts
This past week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case brought by the Republican-controlled Arizona state legislature that could result in the invalidation of Arizona's and California's congressional district maps. This is because those maps were implemented by independent redistricting commissions established via ballot initiative; Republicans contend that the constitution specifies that because the "legislature" shall decide the time, place, and manner of how elections are conducted, that literally means the legislature itself, not merely those with the ability to pass laws, such as the people (at the ballot box).

In the event that these redistricting commissions are struck down, Republicans in Arizona will certainly pass a new congressional gerrymander aimed at winning more seats, and California Democrats could do the same. Here at Daily Kos Elections, community members including myself have a hobby of drawing our own congressional maps using the free Dave's Redistricting App, so we'd love to see the best gerrymanders you can draw for Arizona and California, whether realistic or pure fantasy. We've also created a display table template you can download that allows you to tidily present the demographic and election results that DRA spits out.

Arizona Republicans will probably aim for a map that will elect seven Republicans and just two Democrats, for a net gain of two seats. California, meanwhile, can be a very difficult state to redistrict for many users because of its size (it requires a fast processor and a lot of memory). You can mitigate this by bumping up DRA's quota to several hundred megabytes and loading the state without legislative districts, city lines, and the voting age population. Additionally, both states have multiple districts protected by the Voting Rights Act (so be careful if tinkering with them). To give you a benchmark, we've made a spreadsheet with the demographics and election statistics of the current districts for both states.

For some inspiration, Skaje has collected some relevant maps community members have posted in the past. So go ahead and show us what you can come up with now!


Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 3/5 (March 5, 2015, 09:00 AM)

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9:10 AM PT (Jeff Singer): IL-18: The last month has been nothing short of brutal for Republican Rep. Aaron Schock. A strange story describing how he decorated his office to look like a room on Downton Abbey led to a slow drip of revelations about his habit of allowing taxpayers to foot the bill for his various adventures (his racist ex-communications director didn't help things). But so far, no ambitious Republicans have made any noise about challenging Schock in the primary.

As the National Journal's Kimberly Railey explains, the Schock has been careful to cultivate support at home. The congressman's allied PACs have dolled out money to Republican candidates across the district for various offices, and no one who could be in a position to beat Schock has shown any appetite for a campaign. As long as Schock can avoid a credible primary challenger, he'll be safe in this 61-37 Romney seat.

For all his mistakes, Schock has managed to avoid the errors that ended up dooming then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor last year. While Cantor lost touch with his district and took his renomination for granted, Schock has stayed in contact with local elites at home. In a seat this red, that can make all the difference between an easy victory and a humiliating defeat.


Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Van Hollen steps off House treadmill, seeks promotion to Senate (March 5, 2015, 08:00 AM)

U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) speaks during a session called
Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen is the first candidate to enter the Maryland Senate race
Leading Off:

? MD-Sen: Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who'd steadily climbed the rungs of House leadership ever since he was first elected in 2002, has decided he prefers starting all over again: On Wednesday, he officially kicked off his campaign to succeed Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who is retiring next year.

Van Hollen, a prodigious fundraiser, already has $1.7 million in the bank and can hit the proverbial ground running. Indeed, his speedy entry might be aimed at dissuading other candidates from doing the same, much as Kamala Harris has managed to do in California. But Van Hollen doesn't have a statewide profile like Harris, and plenty of other strong contenders are still considering.

Fellow Maryland Democratic Reps. Donna Edwards and Elijah Cummings are both eyeing the Senate seat, but Van Hollen's departure from the House may encourage them to stay put. As the National Journal's Alex Brown points out, either member has a chance to take Van Hollen's spot on the ladder. We won't need to wait long to see what Edwards will do at least: Shortly before Van Hollen announced, Edwards said, "Give me a couple of days or so, and I'll figure it all out."

While we're at it, yet another name has surfaced that Maryland Democrats would probably rather not hear from again: Former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, whose 2002 campaign for governor set a modern record for disastrousness, says she's "thinking about" entering the race. Could you imagine if we wound up with a primary field that consisted of KKT, Anthony Brown, and Doug Gansler? The universe might just implode. For a quick rundown of who else is thinking about running, check out dreaminonempty's visual guide above.

? P.S. Van Hollen's move will also set off a busy Democratic primary in his 8th Congressional District, which stretches from the DC suburbs all the way to the Pennsylvania border. At 62-36 Obama, this seat won't attract much interest from Republicans.


Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 3/4 (March 4, 2015, 09:00 AM)

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Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Maryland prepares for a crowded race to replace Barbara Mikulski (March 4, 2015, 08:00 AM)

Rep. Donna Edwards is one of the many Democrats to acknowledge her interest in this open Senate seat
Leading Off:

? MD-Sen: It's going to be a while before the race to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski fully takes shape, but potential candidates are assessing their odds. On the Democratic side, former Gov. Martin O'Malley announced on Tuesday that he won't run, but plenty of other Democrats are ready to take his place.

Since Mikulski's announcement, six of Maryland's seven Democratic House members made their interest in this seat known (unsurprisingly, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer is staying put). Rep. Donna Edwards is one intriguing option, and she may have even accidentally given away her plans in a Freudian slip. Edwards has a good relationship with progressive groups that could help with fundraising, which is a potential weak spot for her. She also represents the most Democratic seat in the state, which could make all the difference in a crowded primary.

Head below the fold for more developments in this rapidly unfolding race.


The Daily Kos Great Mentioner analyzes the unpredictable contest to succeed Barbara Mikulski (March 3, 2015, 07:00 AM)

Senator Barbara Mikulski addresses the Maryland Space Business Roundtable (MSBR) Luncheon at Martins Crosswinds in Greenbelt, Maryland on Monday, April 11, 2011...The MSBR is an organization that encourages the growth and development of aerospace-related
Retiring Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski
Potential candidates are constantly getting "mentioned" for higher office, but who's doing all that work? Why, the Great Mentioner of course. In this new ongoing series, Daily Kos channels the Great Mentioner and catalogs all the notable candidates who might run in 2016's most important races.

On Monday, five-term Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski announced that she would not run for re-election in 2016, setting off a wild race to succeed her. Maryland is a dark blue state especially in presidential years, going to Obama by a 62-36 margin, and most of the action is likely to be in the Democratic primary. However, while Old Line State Republicans know this will be a very tough contest, they're emboldened by Larry Hogan's surprise 2014 gubernatorial win and they'll be seeing if they can put this in play.

Democrats have a deep bench in the state, and there are plenty of candidates who could jump in. Former Gov. Martin O'Malley is probably the only one who has a chance to clear the primary field, and he didn't rule anything out when asked. O'Malley has been pursuing a longshot presidential bid, and a Senate race could give him a good chance to stay in politics. However, after 15 years as mayor of Baltimore and as governor, O'Malley may decide that a legislative post isn't for him. O'Malley wasn't incredibly popular when he left office, and other Democrats may decide to take a chance against him in the primary.

Maryland has seven Democratic House members, and six of them are potential Senate candidates (it's very unlikely that the seventh, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, will be going anywhere). 2nd District Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger's office confirmed that he's looking at a run here. Ruppersberger used to serve as Baltimore County executive, and he should be able to count on good name recognition in the area. However, Ruppersberger spent months flirting with a 2014 gubernatorial bid before choosing to stay put, and he may not be willing to risk his seniority in the House.

6th District Rep. John Delaney has also acknowledged his interest. Delaney is very wealthy and he can self-fund a bid if he wants. Delaney also upset the establishment favorite in the 2012 primary for this seat, so he has more recent campaign experience than most of his opponents. However, Delaney nearly lost his seat in the 2014 general in a shocker, so his campaign skills may need some work. Delaney also has cast a few conservative votes, such as voting to weaken Wall Street reform. The congressman also represents the second-reddest district in the state, so there may not be enough local Democratic primary voters for him to rely on.

Maryland's other four Democratic House members have yet to say anything publicly one way or the other, but it's likely that they're all looking at the seat. John Sarbanes is the son of Paul Sarbanes, who served in the Senate until his 2006 retirement. Donna Edwards could benefit if she's the only African American in the race. Edwards has been a favorite of progressive groups since she unseated Al Wynn in the 2008 primary, but she'll need to prove that she can raise real money for a Senate race.

Rep. Elijah Cummings holds a very blue Baltimore City seat, and like Edwards has a base with black voters. Cummings has served in the House for two decades and would also need to sacrifice his seniority. Finally, Chris Van Hollen already has a warchest, and has experience raising money from his time as DCCC chair. Van Hollen is already very senior in the House, and he'd arguably be risking the most. However, Politico reports that he's taking a look here.

Another Democrat who has reportedly interested is former Lt. Gov. and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Anthony Brown. Brown was once a rising star in state politics, but things began to unravel after he presided over the state's bumpy Obamacare rollout. Brown was also criticized for running a weak gubernatorial campaign, contributing to his surprise defeat.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is an interesting possibility, and she is also reportedly considering. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Prince George?s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III could also run.

We might also see the return of former Del. Heather Mizeur (who lost the 2014 gubernatorial primary, but impressed a lot of people) and former Attorney General Doug Gansler (who lost the 2014 gubernatorial primary, but did not impress a lot of people). U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez is a former Montgomery County elected official and would be an interesting choice, though the Obama Administration wouldn't relish a confirmation fight to replace him. State Controller Peter Franchot has also been mentioned, but sources close to him tell Roll Call that he's unlikely to run. It's very possible that in the next few days, we'll see even more names come onto the radar, even as others decline.

The GOP bench isn't great here, but some Republicans are potential candidates. The most interesting option is former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, but he didn't sound incredibly interested. Ehrlich lost to O'Malley twice and seems intent to run for president rather than try again here. Former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino does sound likely to run though. Bongino came close to unseating Delaney in 2014 and his status as a minor conservative celebrity will help his raise money. But Bongino's last Senate bid went badly, with him losing to Ben Cardin 56-26 in 2012.

Rep. Andy Harris is the only Republican in the state's congressional delegation, but GOP sources tell Roll Call that he's unlikely to actually run, even if he does publicly flirt with a bid. Some other potential Republican candidates include former Maryland First Lady Kendel Ehrlich (the wife of Bob Ehrlich), Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh, and Del. Kathy Szeliga. But while physician Ben Carson hails from Maryland, he quickly announced that he'd focus on the presidential race instead.

There are a lot of twists and turns left in this race, and we have a long while till the Democratic primary, much less the general election. We'll be following all the action over at Daily Kos Elections.

For all of our posts in the Daily Kos Great Mentioner series, click here.


A new poll finds Rahm struggling?but he did just pick up a big Republican endorsement! (March 2, 2015, 01:33 PM)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel calls potential voters at a phone bank on election day in Chicago, Illinois, February 24, 2015. Emanuel is expected to easily take first place in Tuesday's municipal election, but polls show he may miss the 50 percent mark
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel leads only 43-39 in a new poll
Goal Thermometer

It hasn't been a kind week for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Despite massively outspending his rivals in the Feb. 24 non-partisan primary, Rahm only took 45 percent of the vote. To make things worse, the city of Chicago's bond rating was downgraded on Friday. Rahm did earn the backing of Republican Sen. Mark Kirk on Monday, but Chicago's small bloc of conservative voters were largely behind the incumbent anyway, and Kirk doesn't exactly help the mayor win over disaffected progressives.

Rahm has been trying to project strength ahead of the April 7 runoff with Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (who took 34 percent on Tuesday), and his allies released a poll on Friday giving him a 50-40 lead. But that survey seemed too good to be true for Team Rahm, and a new numbers from local pollster Ogden & Fry confirm that the mayor is in a bad place. Rahm holds a 43-39 lead over Garcia, with 19 percent undecided.

It's not a good place for an incumbent to be this far below 50 percent in a race against a far-less known opponent, and what's particularly troubling for Rahm is that he's doing worse in this new poll than he did in the first round of voting. However, Rahm is incredibly well-funded and will do everything he can to hit Garcia before his opponent can respond. It's our job to make sure that Garcia can hit back early and often. Garcia doesn't need to out-raise or outspend Rahm, but he needs to have the resources to get his message out.

Progressives will have to wait until next year to get rid of Kirk, Rahm's latest big-name Republican supporter, but we can eject Rahm now. Please chip in $3 into Garcia's campaign to help send the mayor packing.


Washington Post: Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski to retire (March 2, 2015, 09:31 AM)

U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) stands at the podium flanked by eight other Democratic female members of the U.S. Senate during the second session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina September 5, 2012.      REUTERS/Jim
According to nameless sources cited by the Washington Post, Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who has a press conference scheduled for 11 AM ET today, will announce her retirement. Mikulski, a Democrat, was first elected to the Senate in 1986; previously, she had served a decade in the House, making her the longest-tenured woman in congressional history.

Safely blue Maryland has not elected a Republican to the Senate since 1980, when Charles Matthias, the man Mikulski succeeded, won a final term. Interest in succeeding Mikulski will be high among Democrats, and potential candidates include (among others) Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards, as well as former Gov. Martin O'Malley. Undoubtedly more names will emerge soon as the jockeying begins in earnest.

As always, we'll be tracking all developments closely at Daily Kos Elections.

8:18 AM PT: Mikulski has confirmed her retirement, and in classic Mikulski style, she plans to go out with a bang. Said the senator: "Do I spend my time raising money or raising hell?" Door no. 2 it shall be.



Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 3/2 (March 2, 2015, 09:00 AM)

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8:08 AM PT: MD-Sen: According to nameless sources cited by the Washington Post, Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who has a press conference scheduled for 11 AM ET today, will announce her retirement. Mikulski, a Democrat, was first elected to the Senate in 1986; previously, she had served a decade in the House, making her the longest-tenured woman in congressional history.

Safely blue Maryland has not elected a Republican to the Senate since 1980, when Charles Matthias, the man Mikulski succeeded, won a final term. Interest in succeeding Mikulski will be high among Democrats, and potential candidates include (among others) Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards, as well as former Gov. Martin O'Malley. Undoubtedly more names will emerge soon as the jockeying begins in earnest.

As always, we'll be tracking all developments closely at Daily Kos Elections.

8:33 AM PT: Special Elections: Just one this week, per Johnny Longtorso:

Kentucky SD-27: This is an open Democratic seat located northeast of Lexington. The candidates, both lawyers, are Democrat Kelly Caudill and Republican Steve West. The district voted 61-37 for Mitt Romney in 2012 and 55-42 for Mitch McConnell in 2014.

8:45 AM PT (Jeff Singer): MD-Sen: There are a ton of ambitious Democrats who could run to succeed Mikulski. Here's a quick look:

? Rep. Elijah Cummings

? Rep. John Delaney

? Rep. Donna Edwards

? Controller Peter Franchot

? Former Attorney General Doug Gansler

? Rep. Chris Van Hollen

? Del. Heather Mizeur

? Former Gov. Martin O'Malley

? U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez

? Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

? Rep. John Sarbanes

The bench is a lot smaller on the GOP side, but we have:
? Former Gov. Robert Ehrlich

? Rep. Andy Harris

We can already cross Ben Carson off the list though.

9:01 AM PT (Jeff Singer): MD-Sen: If Chis Van Hollen did get in, he'd start out with about twice as much cash-on-hand as Elijah Cummings, his nearest competitor. But while fellow Rep. John Delaney doesn't have much in the bank, he can self-fund.


Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: A wounded Rahm tries to show he's not bleeding ahead of runoff (March 2, 2015, 08:00 AM)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel puts on his jacket as he steps out of a phone bank, on election day in Chicago, Illinois, February 24, 2015. Emanuel is expected to easily take first place in Tuesday's municipal election, but polls show he may miss the 50
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Leading Off:

? Chicago Mayor: If you're a mayor locked in a competitive battle for re-election, one of the last things you want to hear is that your city's bond ratings have been downgraded. But that's just what Mayor Rahm Emanuel found out on Friday. Rahm is vulnerable in large part due to the perception that the local economy is weak, and this certainly isn't going to help him in the April 7 runoff against Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

Nevertheless, Rahm's allies are trying to project strength going into April. Global Strategy Group, polling on behalf of the pro-Rahm super PAC Chicago Forward, gives the incumbent a 50-40 lead over Garcia. A few days ago, Rahm outpaced Garcia 45-34, and it seems a bit hard to believe that Rahm has picked up this much support so quickly. It's also worth noting that back in January, Rahm's campaign released a poll from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner showing him hitting 50 percent in the primary, something that obviously didn't happen. Still, if Garcia's team shows a tighter race, they should release those numbers to help convince outside groups that they have a path from 34 percent to victory.

And sure enough, one powerful group that remained on the sidelines during the primary is reassessing its strategy. The SEIU Local 1 has had its share of conflict with Rahm over the last four years, but the group has also praised the mayor's stance on the minimum wage. SEIU Local 1 stayed neutral during the primary but they're considering endorsing one of the two remaining contenders. The organization has plenty of money to spend and is very organized, and its support can make a big difference in April. We'll see what they do, and if other Rahm skeptics start to smell blood and decide to get involved.


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