The NRCC Rethinks Its Polling; Durbin Will Seek Reelection; It's All-In for Carl Levin's Seat

We'd like to welcome our new readers to Wake-Up Call!, the Hotline's morning rundown of essential campaign news from across the country and the latest in Washington, with generous sides of analysis, gossip and humor. To our longtime readers: We hope you like the new look.


  • Pres. Obama "plans to nominate" Asst. AG Thomas Perez as Labor sec. (Washington Post). On Wednesday, Obama will speak to donors and "grassroots supporters" at an Organizing for America summit in DC, to help motivate them "ahead of tough congressional fights on gun legislation and immigration reform" (Politico).
  • The NRCC "is moving to reboot its polling operation after a messy 2012 cycle, the first concrete remedy ... since candidates and outside groups were left stunned on Election Day by results that their internal data never came close to predicting" (Politico).
  • MA SEN Special: Boston Mayor Tom Menino (D) and "at least one major union are rebuffing pleas" by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D) to get involved in the Dem primary, "dealing a potentially lethal blow" to his campaign against Rep. Ed Markey (D) (Boston Herald).
  • NYC Mayor '13: City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D), the early frontrunner, officially declared her candidacy for mayor early Sunday, releasing a slick, five-minute biographical video through her campaign's social media accounts (On Call).
  • IL SEN: Senate Maj. Whip Dick Durbin (D) is telling "top" Dems that he will run for reelection (Chicago Tribune).
  • KY SEN: Actress Ashley Judd (D) "has told key advisers and political figures" that she will announce her candidacy in Louisville "around Derby," in early May (Huffington Post).
  • MI SEN: Rep. Mike Rogers (R) said he is giving the race "serious consideration" (On Call). Rep. Gary Peters (D) said he is "very interested" in running as well (On Call). Ex-state GOP chair Saul Anuzis (R) said he is "mulling a run" (Roll Call). Mitt Romney brother Scott Romney (R) is "looking at running" (Roll Call).
  • MT SEN: Sen. Jon Tester (D) and ex-Obama mgr. Jim Messina headlined a fundraiser for Sen. Max Baucus (D), where Dems made clear that his reelection is their top priority (Great Falls Tribune).
  • SC SEN: FITSNews co-owner Nancy Mace (R), "the first woman to ever graduate from the Citadel," is "weighing a primary" against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R), according to two GOP sources (BuzzFeed).
  • IA-01: State Sen. Steve Sodders (D) formed an exploratory cmte for the seat, becoming the second Dem to announce his intention to replace Rep. Bruce Braley (D) (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier).
  • AZ GOV: Mesa Mayor Scott Smith (R) said "he is taking a 'very, very close look'" at running (Politico).


  • According to a new Siena College poll of NY RVs, conducted 3/7-3, 54% would vote to reelect Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), while 37% would prefer "someone else." In the previous poll, conducted 1/27-31, 56% said they would vote to reelect Cuomo, and 36% preferred someone else (release).


Hotline editors weigh in on the stories that drive the day

• With Rep. Gary Peters showing interest in the Senate race, Michigan Democrats' House delegation could be on the verge of a near-complete shakeup. Reps. Dingell, Conyers and Levin are all nearing retirement age -- though Levin has said he'll run for reelection in 2014 -- and it might not be long before freshman Rep. Dan Kildee is the last man standing.

• Several GOP governors running for reelection in 2010 are feuding with their state legislatures and other statewide officeholders who are pressuring them to move to the right. Only time will tell if voters will reward these governors for charting a more moderate course or punish them if the infighting rises to the level of dysfunction.

• The small-dollar revolution is in progress: In 2012, small donors gave $1 to federal candidates for every $2.50 campaigns got from itemized donations. That's a huge drop from 2008, when big donations comprised almost 90% of the personal contributions candidates received. But the influence of super PACs -- and the handful of millionaires who provided most of their financing -- is a major catch for small donor influence.

• After two public polls last week showed him well behind Ed Markey in the race to replace John Kerry, Stephen Lynch reportedlywon't receive the endorsement of Tom Menino. With labor unions also failing to coalesce around him, Lynch's campaign increasingly appears headed in the wrong direction.

• In officially entering the Big Apple mayor's race Sunday, Quinn struck a decidedly middle-class theme, visiting all five boroughs on her "Walk-and-Talk" tour. She continues to straddle the line between Manhattan progressive and middle-class warrior, lamenting the state of the city for working families without directly criticizing Mike Bloomberg, for example. With polls showing her nearing the magical 40% mark in the 4-way Dem primary, it's a strategy that positions her well for the general election.



  • "Well, we believe it should, that's the point. That's what budgeting is all about. ... We believe that Obamacare is a program that will not work" -- Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), asked on "Fox News Sunday" about including a repeal of Obamacare in his budget, despite the unlikelihood that it will be repealed (CNN).
  • Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) staffers "have been bullying other senators' aides" to protect his space in the Russell Senate Office Building ahead of the biennial office lottery. Heller's has a "larger-than-average member office" and his CoS offered $10K in campaign contributions to Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) not to take the office, before the Georgia senator announced his decision to retire (Roll Call).
  • "Man, you guys are crack addicts. You really are obsessed with all this politics" -- ex-FL Gov. Jeb Bush (R), asked on "Meet the Press" whether he or Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is more likely to run in WH '16 (Wake-Up Call! reporting).
  • "As of 11 am EST on Sunday," the debt clocks running 56 congressional GOPers' websites "revealed 16 different national debt tallies. The debt clocks ranged from a low" of $16.548T, on Sen. Kelly Ayotte's (R-NH) site, to a high of $17.306T on Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-OK) (Smart Politics).
  • "With all these new faces, it's hard to keep track of who is in, who is out. And I know it's difficult for you guys as reporters. But I can offer you an easy way of remembering the new team. If Ted Cruz calls somebody a communist, then you know they're in my cabinet" -- Obama, at the Gridiron Dinner (Dallas Morning News).
  • Rep. Peter King (R-NY) "squared off Saturday night" against ex-kickboxing champ "Irish" Josh Foley "and made it out of the ring unscathed." Neither was "declared the winner, although King" -- who is taller and about 50 pounds heavier -- "appeared to have Foley against the ropes several times" (Newsday).
  • "So far, Mark hasn't provided his readers much context by evaluating exactly how other specific pollsters handle such issues as cellphone sampling, weighting, and likely voter procedures." -- Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport, responding to Huffington Post's Mark Blumenthal, who was critical of Gallup's 2012 polling in a story published last week ("Polling Matters")
  • Clad in a red, Galway Gaelic football jersey, MD Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) joined Irish rock band "The Saw Doctors" for their encore last p.m. at the Fillmore in Silver Spring (Wake-Up Call! sources).
  • "I'm still far removed from the modern lexicon of people who are actually cool. So, I'm very careful not to try to use lingo that's above my coolness pay grade" -- Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), on trying to be hip on Twitter as the Senate's youngest member (BuzzFeed).


  • Welcome to the Swizzle Challenge. Each day we'll post a trivia question from a Wake-Up Call! reader here and you'll have the chance to answer it via email. The next we'll announce the answer, the winner and his or her follow-up question.
  • Friday's answer: The shortest intercontinental commercial flight in the world is from Gibraltar in Europe to Tangier in Africa at a distance of 34 miles and a flight time of 20 minutes.
  • That last one stumped the Wake-Up Call! community, so here's a toss-up: "According to John F. Kennedy, how many Catholics died at the Alamo?" The 3rd correct e-mailer gets to submit the next question.



"Whenever I talk about Biden, my 4-year-old son still says, 'Oh, that funny vice president!'" -- Murphy (BuzzFeed).


"John's last-minute economic plan does nothing to tackle the number-one job facing the middle class, and it happens to be, as Barack says, a three letter word: Jobs. J-O-B-S" -- Biden (Youtube).

Sarah Mimms, Editor