- MO-01: Rep. Lacy Clay has never had much of a problem securing renomination in his safely blue St. Louis-area seat, with him easily defeating Russ Carnahan after the two congressmen were drawn into the same district in 2012. But in mid-August, state Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal refused to rule out challenging Clay in the Democratic primary. Chappelle-Nadal specifically cited Clay’s response to the death of Michael Brown and the ensuring protests in Ferguson as the reason she may take on Clay. Chappelle-Nadal, who like Clay represents Ferguson, accused Clay of being invisible during last fall’s unrest, arguing that “[e]verybody says, ‘Where has he been?’ Every constituent that I have encountered, when his name comes up unprovoked, that is what they say.” By contrast, Chappelle-Nadal was hit with tear gas while taking part in a protest. Most of Chappelle-Nadal’s seat is in MO-01, so she’d start out with a base of support. And while a white candidate like Carnahan had a tough time appealing to the heavily black primary electorate, an African American like Chappelle-Nadal would not have that issue. Clay also has only $334,000 on hand, not a big head start. But Clay is well-connected, and he won’t be easy for Chappelle-Nadal or anyone else to beat.
- NC-Sen: The DSCC is still looking for a candidate to face GOP Sen. Richard Burr, and Roll Call‘s Simone Pathé adds another name to the list. State Sen. Joel Ford, who used to chair the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party, says that the DSCC has been working to recruit him, but while he’s “entertaining” the idea, he’s still in “fact-gathering mode.” In any case, Ford, a self-described moderate, is already contrasting himself with potential primary rival ex-state Rep. Deborah Ross, arguing that his more centrist and business-friendly positions will make him more electable in what’s going to be a tough race against Burr. A few other Democrats have been mulling this contest, and could have our first candidate before too long. State Rep. Duane Hall formed an exploratory committee a little while ago, and says that he’s given himself a Labor Day deadline to decide on whether or not to go for it. Spring Lake Mayor Chris Rey is also reportedly meeting with the DSCC, and one of his consultants says that Rey will likely decide in the next two weeks. And in case there’s any doubt which way Rey’s leaning, his website now promotes him as someone who is “[w]orking hard to make the quality of life better for all North Carolina citizens.” Ross also says she’s close to deciding, though she didn’t offer a timeline. However, it sounds like ex-Rep. Heath Shuler isn’t incredibly interested. Shuler has been evasive about his 2016 plans publicly, and Democratic operatives say he hasn’t done anything to prepare for a run.
- AR-02: Ex-Little Rock School Board member Dianne Curry passed on a bid for this seat in 2014, but she recently announced that she’ll take on freshman Republican French Hill this cycle. Romney won this central Arkansas seat 55-43, so it might be winnable for Team Blue again under the right set of circumstances. Hill is wealthy and well-connected and won’t be easy to unseat though, and Curry is going to need to prove she can raise real money if she wants national Democrats to get involved here.
- AZ-01: Arizona Residential Utility Consumer Office Director David Tenney was mentioned as a possible GOP candidate for this open swing seat, but he’s announced that he won’t go for it. The GOP primary remains a duel between wealthy rancher Gary Kiehne and ex-state Secretary of State Ken Bennett, but Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu and state House Speaker David Gowan have both made noises about getting in.
- CA-24: It’s one establishment pick coming out for another: State Attorney General Kamala Harris, the Democratic Party’s consensus choice in the race for retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer’s Senate seat, just endorsed Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, the frontrunner to succeed Rep. Lois Capps.
- FL-06: No one’s sure what this open North Florida seat is going to look like after redistricting is finished, but another Republican is reportedly eyeing a bid here. Marc Caputo reports that veteran Brandon Patty is talking to a top GOP consultant: While Patty has little name recognition with voters, he has plenty of political connections: Among other things, the 31-year old has worked for Jeb Bush and advised Ed Gillespie’s Senate campaign in Virginia last year. Patty hasn’t said anything publicly but if he runs, he’ll join ex-Rep. Sandy Adams and former New Smyrna Beach Mayor Adam Barringer in the GOP primary, with former Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford likely to get in as well (though redistricting could complicate everyone’s plans).
- FL-10: Now that redistricting is likely to transform this Orlando-area seat into a safely blue constituency, more Democrats are coming out of the woodwork. Former Orlando Police Chief and 2012 nominee Val Demings and state Sen. Geraldine Thompson have both announced that they’re in, and Marc Caputo tells us that ex-state Sen. Gary Siplin is also looking at a bid. Siplin, who has not said anything publicly, has a very long rivalry with Thompson. Thompson failed to unseat him in a 2004 primary, but she beat his wife for this seat eight years later. Siplin and Thompson faced off again last year, but she won their rematch 64-35. Siplin was convicted of grand theft for allegedly having a state employee do campaign work for his 2004 re-election bid, but the conviction was overturned in 2007. If Siplin gets in, he could end up helping another potential candidate. Caputo reports that former state Democratic Party Chair Bob Poe, who served as Charlie Crist’s campaign treasurer in last year’s gubernatorial contest, is also looking at running here. The new FL-10 is likely to be a minority-access seat but while Demings, Thompson, and Siplin are black, Poe is white. Poe has also yet to comment, but he sounds like he has the connections he’d need to do well here.
- Toledo, OH Mayor: Ex-Democratic Mayor Carty Finkbeiner has been flirting with a run for months, and he’s unsurprisingly announced that he’s joining this crowded contest. Finkbeiner voluntarily left office in 2009 and love him or hate him, he’s not a boring guy. The filing deadline for this fall’s special election is Sept. 4, so the field will be set soon.
- Demographics: Two years ago, Pew released a detailed study that probed the demographics of American Jewry in depth. Now they’ve returned to the topic (relying on the same data they collected in 2013) with a fascinating analysis of the distinctions between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews. The Orthodox, who are more religiously observant, make up about 10 percent of the nation’s roughly 5.3 million Jews, and politically, they’re well to the right of their brethren: 57 percent identify with or lean toward the GOP, compared to just 18 percent of non-Orthodox Jews, and they consequently tend to take more conservative stands on other political issues, like the size of government. But just as Jews as a whole are not a monolithic group, there are differences within Orthodoxy, too. Some 31 percent of Orthodox Jews identify as Modern Orthodox, while 62 percent fall into the stricter Haredi tradition, which includes Hasidic Jews and is sometimes called “ultra-Orthodox” (though never by adherents). Haredim are more even more observant than Modern Orthodox by almost every measure, such as keeping kosher or fasting on Yom Kippur. However, Modern Orthodox tend to identify with Israel much more strongly. (There is a strong anti-Zionist tradition among many Hasidic groups, which oppose the creation of a state of Israel by human rather than divine hands.) Haredim are also much more hostile to gays: Fully 70 percent say that society should discourage homosexuality, while only 38 percent of Modern Orthodox (and just 8 percent of non-Orthodox) agree. Pew also notes that the Orthodox have far more children: Respondents age 40-59 have an average of 4.1 kids, versus just 1.7 for non-Orthodox, with Haredim the most fecund of all (27 percent say they have at least four children at home). You might think these numbers would mean that the Orthodox share of American Jewry should grow quickly, but as Pew observed previously, 52 percent of Jews who were raised as Orthodox no longer identify that way, a trend exemplified by the “Off the Derech” movement. One new piece of data is that conversely, 70 percent of those who currently identify as Orthodox were brought up in the tradition, a much higher figure than that for non-Orthodox Conservative or Reform Jews (57 and 55 percent, respectively). That means that out-migration for Orthodox is relatively high, while in-migration is relatively low. Together, these two trends are holding back Orthodox Jewry from more rapid growth, meaning that the general portrait of American Jews as secular, liberal, and broadly supportive of the Democratic Party is likely to persist.
- WATN?: Republican Sean Parnell was narrowly unseated as governor of Alaska last year, and he’s found an unusual new consulting job. Since at least March, Parnell has worked for the House GOP in a role that’s described as helping to “improve coordination, collaboration, and communication between Republican state elected officials and House Republicans.” As Politico points out, it’s very rare for a former statewide official to become a House adviser. And ironically, Parnell himself ran for the House in 2008, and he only lost the primary to Rep. Don Young by 305 votes. Parnell is only working under a short-term contract, so he won’t have too long to sit in D.C. and ponder what might have been.