AK-Sen: As of Friday, Lisa Murkowski was saying that she still hasn't made a decision about whether to pursue a write-in bid. At least one major Republican is opposed to the idea: Sen. John Cornyn says that Murkowski would have to quit her job as vice chair of the NRSC if she goes the third-party route. I also wonder if her Senate committee spots might be in jeopardy, too. Anyhow, Eric Ostermeier of the University of Minnesota's excellent Smart Politics blog has a good post on the history of write-in campaigns in the Land of the Midnight Sun. In eight statewide contests, the best-ever score in a senate race was 17%, and 26% in a gubernatorial race. I actually think those numbers aren't bad at all!
DE-Sen: While everyone's still abuzz about last night's poll numbers, there's some other DE-Sen news worth reporting. For one, the NRA endorsed Christine O'Donnell. For another, so did Sen. Jim DeMint, Kingmaker of Loons. For yet another, Sarah Palin recorded a robocall for O'Donnell, playing up their shared sense of victimhood.
Meanwhile, The Hill says that the Tea Party Express has spent some $300K on radio and TV ads on O'Donnell's behalf, but it's a little hard to double-check that since TPX's FEC filings seem to use, shall we say, "new math." Finally, a reporter asked Mike Castle if he'd pursue an independent bid if he lost the primary. (DE's laws are apparently similar to Alaska's in this regard.) Castle was surprisingly non-committal, saying he'd "have to give it thought."
GA-Sen: Big Dog Alert (retroactive)! Bill Clinton was in Atlanta late last week to do a fundraiser for Labor Comm'r Michael Thurmond, the Dem senate nominee challenging GOPer Johnny Isakson. Thurmond, as you'd expect, was a big-time Hillary Clinton supporter.
IA-Sen: Chuck Grassley, making a play for the dirty old man vote, had this to say when asked why he didn't once look at opponent Roxanne Conlin during a recent debate:
"I wish you had told me because I would have been very happy to look at her. She's a very nice looking woman."
NH-Sen: The New Hampshire Union Leader has been combing through a batch of emails released by the NH attorney general's office pursuant to a freedom of information request, and they've turned up a doozy: Then-AG Kelly Ayotte used her official email account to discuss campaign strategy with a guy who later became one of her consultants. In better news for Ayotte, Sarah Palin recorded a robocall for her, too (see DE-Sen item above), but man is this imagery getting crazy: She calls Ayotte a "Granite Grizzly." Zuh? Anyhow, Jim DeMint's also decided to get involved here (again, see DE-Sen), endorsing surging wingnut Ovide Lamontagne.
NV-Sen: Jon Ralston has the complete tick-tock on how he got Harry Reid and Sharron Angle to agree to a debate on his show - only to have Angle, in a spasm of campaign dysfunction, pull out, despite being the one to throw down the challenge to Reid in the first place.
AK-Gov: Anchorage attorney Bill Walker, who drew about 30% in his primary against Gov. Sean Parnell (thanks to $300K in self-funding), says he's still waiting to see if either the Alaskan Independence Party or Libertarian Party candidates withdraw from the race. If there's a drop-out by Wednesday, Walker could take that spot for the general election.
HI-Gov: A new robopoll by Aloha Vote (taken for online news service Civil Beat) shows ex-Rep. Neil Abercrombie beating Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann by 48-31 in the Democratic primary. That's a pretty different picture from a Ward Research survey a few weeks ago which had Abercrombie leading just 49-44.
NY-Gov: It's been a long time since anyone has come out with any interesting statewide poll numbers in New York, but with just days to go before the primary, Siena has finally managed to surprise us (well, sorta): They show scuzzbucket businessman Carl Paladino in a dead heat with ex-Rep. Rick Lazio, trailing just 43-42. In mid-August, Lazio had a 43-30 lead, so this is all Paladino surge. The rest of the numbers (which test the senate races) are all meh - click the link if you want `em.
In other NY-Gov news, the Working Families Party decided to endorse Andrew Cuomo, and Cuomo - who had kept the WFP at arms' length for a long time - accepted. A federal investigation of the WFP was recently dropped, which seemingly helped smooth things. The party was in a very tough spot, though, as without Cuomo on their ballot spot, there was no real path for them to get the 50,000 votes they needed to avoid losing their ballot line. So I'm guessing there may be more to this story.
"John Salazar, it's time to come home," Tipton said as he opened the debate. "It's 9/11. Let's roll."
FL-25: Another mystery teabagger has (not really) come out of the woodwork. Roly Arrojo is running on the Florida Tea Party line, and it seems no one knows a thing about him, except for the fact that he hasn't filed any FEC reports - except for a Statement of Candidacy in which he identified himself as a Democrat. Republicans are suggesting this is a Dem put-up job, but Joe Garcia's camp is of course denying any knowledge of this guy. Interestingly, so is the head of the FL Tea Party!
ND-AL: I know, it sounds like parody, but Republican Rick Berg has a great idea: Drill for oil in North Dakota's Theodore Roosevelt National Park! Not only is it, of course, illegal to do so, but it's also a fucking national park!
NY-13: Republican Michael Allegretti just got bounced from the new teabaggish Taxpayers Party line, thanks to a lack of sufficient signatures. Rival Mike Grimm already has the Conservative line, come hell or high water.
NY-15: Of all people, Mayor Mike Bloomberg wound up recording a robocall for Rep. Charlie Rangel.
PA-08 (PDF): Yikes. Sophomore Dem Patrick Murphy just put out an internal from the Global Strategy Group showing him up by a mere 47-43 margin over the man he beat in 2006, Republican Mike Fitzpatrick. This is scary.
VA-05: The Weiner Watch continues: Republican Rob Hurt has already skipped two debates, and now he's announced he's skipping a third. Weiner!
Chicago-Mayor: Outgoing Chicago Mayor Richard Daley says he won't make an endorsement in the race to succeed him.
NY-AG (PDF): Siena also released some final attorney general numbers, finding Eric Schneiderman narrowly in the lead at 25, with Kathleen Rice nipping his heels at 23. Sean Coffey is at 13, Richard Brodsky at 7, and Eric Dinallo at 4. The race has continued to get nasty in its final days, with Rice putting out a TV ad trying to link Schneiderman to scumbag state Sen. Pedro Espada, while a Schneiderman spot hits Rice for only becoming a Democrat in 2005.
DCCC: Blah blah blah, Dems not paying their DCCC dues. It's old news, and I'm beyond sick of these stories, but not (only) for the reason you might expect. Oh yeah, I'm pissed at the schmucks who are holding out on their party for no discernible reason, but I'm also frustrated with the DCCC. We've repeatedly told them we want to help them raise money from their members - the netroots is not all-powerful, but we can bring some pressure on stingy Dems. But the DCCC steadfastly refuses to share their dues spreadsheet with us - even though they have no problem sharing it with the likes of Politico, and even though they actually promised to give us a copy at Netroots Nation. Not just obnoxious, but weirdly self-defeating.
KY-06: NRCC ($96K on anti-Ben Chandler ads and polls from two different firms)
More generally, the NRCC's IE arm said that it would go up with anti-Dem ads in eight districts (though no IE reports have yet been filed): AZ-01, AL-02, FL-02, MS-01, TN-08, TX-17, VA-05 & WI-07. A representative ad is available at the link.
Roxanne Conlin, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, begins television advertising across Iowa this week. I'm not able to embed the commercial, but click here to watch. The Conlin campaign released this transcript:
“I’m Roxanne Conlin. Taking on the special interests has been the cause of my life. Like taking on the big banks to help family farms at risk of foreclosure. I took on corrupt politicians and corporations who violated the public trust. I’m running for U.S. Senate to take this fight to Washington. Fight for relief on Main Street, not more bailouts for Wall Street. Because the special interests have had their turn. Now, it’s our turn. I’m Roxanne Conlin and I approved this message."
These are nice numbers for Roxanne Conlin, who is still unknown to 20% of likely vteros. However, R2K's polling (including their first poll of this race for Daily Kos) has really bounced around a lot. In October of last year, it was Grassley +12, then Grassley +21 in February, and now Grassley +9. I'm not really sure there's an explanation for this gyration. (And as far as I understand, R2K used the same methodology for both clients - and you can see that the question wording is the same, too.)
Chet Culver (D-inc): 41 (38)
Terry Branstad (R): 48 (54)
Undecided: 11 (8)
Chet Culver (D-inc): 44 (41)
Bob van der Plaats (R): 40 (38)
Undecided: 16 (21)
Chet Culver (D-inc): 46 (48)
Rod Roberts (R): 36 (26)
Undecided: 18 (26)
Again, a lot of bouncing in the toplines: Branstad +5 to Branstad +16 to Brandstad +7. The latest survey is good news for Culver, sure, but that's a bit like saying Dukakis did better than Mondale - the numbers still suck.
New polling by Research 2000 finds that Republican Chuck Grassley is far more vulnerable than the conventional wisdom gives him (dis)credit for.
When asked if Grassley should be re-elected, only 42% said re-elect, while 31% said it was time for someone new, and 27% were not sure. (Remember, being unsure about an incumbent of twenty-nine years bodes poorly for the incumbent.) Among independents, only 39% said re-elect. Not too hot.
The money question of the poll was:
When Senator Chuck Grassley says President Obama and Democrats would QUOTE "pull the plug on grandma" UNQUOTE do you think that does Iowa proud in Congress or embarrasses Iowa?
By more than a 2-to-1 margin (53% to 26%), Iowans responded that Grassley's comments embarrassed them rather than made them proud. Among independents, the embarrass-proud ratio was an overwhelming 61-21. Research 2000 broke down the responses by Congressional district. Outside of right-wing radical Steve King's 5th Congressional district (which saw a 30-51 embarrass-proud ratio), every other district was overwhelmingly embarrassed by Grassley's remarks. The other four Congressional districts ranged from 53-64% embarrassed while only 19-24% proud.
Very interestingly, while only 35% of respondents favored the Senate version of the health care reform bill, while 56% opposed it, 62% of respondents favored a public option (a 2-to-1 margin over the 31% of respondents that opposed a public option); and, moreover, by more than a 3-to-1 margin, Iowans want Democratic Senator Tom Harkin to fight harder for a public option and would respect him more if he did.
The message from these numbers is clear: Iowans are open to voting for an alternative to Republican Chuck Grassley, would support a public option (and many who opposed health care reform in Iowa simply feel that it didn't go far enough), and were embarrassed by Grassley's dishonest kowtowing to the teabaggers with his "pull the plug on grandma" routine.
Grassley's own numbers must be telling him that his lies could constitute a politically fatal flub given how freaked out he got over the discussion of his comments and how he tripped over himself backpedaling:
By the end of the year, though, Grassley was blaming media reports for his association with the death panels meme. In a letter to a constituent forwarded to The Iowa Independent, Grassley said some "commentators" took his comments and twisted them as saying that health care reform would establish death panels.
"I said no such thing," Grassley said. "As I said then, putting end-of-life consultations alongside cost containment and government-run health care causes legitimate concern."
Who was that Democrat who cited Grassley's comments as a reason for entering the race? Attorney and Democratic former gubernatorial nominee Roxanne Conlin. She got into the race in late 2009, so this past quarter's fundraising report will be the first test of her campaign's financial viability. Word is, she's a fairly prodigious fundraiser.
On top of that, Grassley has handed her the issue and according message frames on which to run. Notably to me, Conlin has five grandchildren. In other words, she is a grandma. I think it would be powerfully resonant for Conlin to put out an ad highlighting Grassley's "pull the plug on grandma" comments that embarrassed a majority of Iowans and to close the ad (while talking to the camera, surrounded by her five grandchildren) with the line, "I'm Roxanne Conlin, and I approved this message because I'm a grandma and I'm embarrassed that Chuck Grassley is talking about pulling the plug on me."
Keep a close eye on IA-Sen; I'm expecting a competitive race that will surprise the traditional media.
• FL-Sen: Marco Rubio seemed to beat Charlie Crist to the punch on calling for repeal of the health care reform bill passed over the weekend, but now the allegedly-moderate Crist is getting in on the act too, saying he opposes the entire bill and supports the lawsuit by Republican AGs (including Florida's Bill McCollum) against the package.
• KY-Sen: I really can't decide who I'd rather have in my corner. Rand Paul has the backing of lots of crackpots with computers and open wallets, as he had another online moneybomb yesterday to the tune of $262K. Trey Grayson, on the other hand, has the backing of establishment favorite... Dick Cheney?
• NY-Sen, NY-Sen-B: Earlier in the day, there were rumors that the state GOP in New York was desperately trying to get someone from the GOP field against Kirsten Gillibrand (which doesn't have any top-tier talent, but at least has a bunch of warm bodies) to switch over to the even more unenviable task of facing off against Chuck Schumer, where they've got nobody. Their favored candidate for that job seemed to be former Bush spokesperson Dan Senor. Maybe that rubbed Senor the wrong way, or maybe there's more to the story, but either way, that changed by mid-day today, as Senor suddenly said he not only wasn't running against Schumer but not running for anything, period, saying the timing wasn't right for him. (Well, maybe they'll have better luck getting David Malpass to switch over.)
• PA-Sen, PA-Gov (pdf): More up-and-down numbers from Franklin & Marshall this month, as their latest look at the Senate race finds Pat Toomey beating Arlen Specter 33-29 among RVs. Last month, Specter (currently at a terrible 30/45 favorable) led by the same 33-29 margin. (Recall that for the last couple months, F&M was releasing separate numbers for RVs and LVs. They seem to have dropped that unwieldy formulation in favor of RVs only, for now.) They find Toomey beating Joe Sestak 27-19 in the general, Specter beating Sestak 32-12, and in the forgotten GOP primary, Toomey defeating pro-life activist Peg Luksik 30-4. They do only the primaries in the slow-to-take-shape Governor's race, finding Dan Onorato leading among Dems at 11, followed by Jack Wagner at 7, Joe Hoeffel at 5, and Anthony Williams at 4. Tom Corbett leads state Rep. Sam Rohrer 28-4 on the GOP side.
• UT-Sen: Last night was caucus night in Utah, where precincts chose delegates to the state convention which may or may not be Bob Bennett's Waterloo. It's hard to gauge, at this point, how things turned out for Bennett last night; the convention, which will determine whether he can avoid (or even make it to) a primary will be real proof. With filings closed in Utah, Democrats left a lot of seats unchallenged in the dark-red legislature, leaving 15 of 75 House seats and 2 of 15 Senate seats without Ds.
• WA-Sen: Dino Rossi was spotted in DC yesterday to meet with Michael Steele about a possible Senate run. He isn't expected to make a decision until close to the June 11 primary, though (which seems odd, since he'd be basically starting from scratch at that point to go against Patty Murray's mammoth war chest).
• IL-10: Bob Dold doesn't need this. Turns out that Dold, who cozied up to the teabaggers in his primary run and touted his opposition to abortion (in order to squeak past moderate state Rep. Beth Coulson), has turned on a dime and is now calling himself "pro-choice" and "a fiscal conservative and social moderate" in order to run against Dan Seals in the general in this D+6 district.
• MA-10: Republican flavor-of-the-month Scott Brown has weighed in on the GOP primary in the open seat in the 10th, not coincidentally the district where he fared the best in the special election. And he chose new over old, opting for state Rep. Jeff Perry instead of long-ago state Treasurer Joe Malone.
• MI-01: Connie Saltonstall's primary challenge to Bart Stupak may have lost some of its raison d'etre over the weekend, but it's still proceeding full speed ahead with some new supporters that may be able to make it rain money for her: Planned Parenthood and NARAL's PACs. NOW had previously endorsed Saltonstall as well.
• NJ-12: Scott Sipperelle, the random businessman running against Rush Holt in the D+5 12th, apparently has money to burn as he's already hitting the TV airwaves, with an ad blasting Holt for his health care vote. It's a cable buy, though (in case you were having visions of him blanketing the NYC and Philly markets), so it could be a tiny expenditure aimed at getting free media for all we know.
• SD-AL: Even with Scott Hildebrand having folded his hand quickly on a threatened Stephanie Herseth Sandlin primary challenge, it sounds like another less-known Dem is getting in on it. Rapid City doctor Kevin Weiland is sounding out a run.
• VA-05: "We've given the word 'mob' a bad name." The gas line at the Perriello household was mysteriously cut, after Rep. Tom Perriello's gutsy HCR vote. Um, oooops... that was the Bo Perriello household, as several local teabaggers mistakenly posted the Congressman's brother's address on their websites and urged protesters to stop by for a friendly visit. The guy who posted the address (and refused to take it down after finding out it was the wrong Perriello) is now publicly "shocked" that one of his ilk would resort to violence. Oh, and the FBI is investigating. Tom Perriello, on the other hand, displayed only sangfroid, saying "If the worst thing that happens is that special-interest groups spend millions of dollars against me and my most ardent opponents organize against me, it's hardly a 'cry me a river' moment - as long as people act civil and within the law."
• WV-01: In the choice between conservadem and even-more-conservadem in the Democratic primary in the 1st, it's becoming pretty clear which one is which: state GOP chair Douglas McKinney praised Alan Mollohan's opponent state Sen. Mike Oliverio, saying he "has always been a conservative guy. He votes with the Republican on committees. We've joked for years he needs to come over to the party who thinks like he does."
• HCR: Are some of the saner GOP members of Congress starting to come to their senses as the fog of war starts to dissipate? (Or are they just seeing the shift in the polls and engaging in some pre-emptive ass-covering?) The oft-blustery Rep. Pete King is urging his fellow GOPers to "get constructive" and "stop demonizing" health care reform and the Dems. And Chuck Grassley, almost single-handedly responsible for bogging the bill down and giving legs to the "Death Panel" lie in the August of Dems' discontent, is now happily talking up his own positive contributions to the bill, regarding tax-exempt hospitals.
• DNC: The DNC is wheeling out a seven-figure budget for running ads in the wake of health care's passage. It's two-pronged, with attack ads against vulnerable Republicans who voted "no" (I guess the "voted no" part is redundant): Mark Kirk, Jim Gerlach, Dave Reichert, Mike Castle, and Joe Cao. And "thank you" ads are planned for vulnerable Dems, tentatively including John Boccieri, Dennis Cardoza, Brad Ellsworth, Paul Hodes, Tim Walz, Bob Etheridge, Tom Perriello, Leonard Boswell, Betsy Markey, and Gerry Connolly.
• SARAH's List: Shortly after tweeting for her supporters not to retreat, but RELOAD, Sarah Palin's website posted a map with gunsights targeting 20 Representatives for her supporters to shoot. Or to work to defeat for re-election, I suppose. It's pretty much all the districts that went for McCain in 2008 and where there was a "yes" on HCR, without much regard for the race's actual vulnerability or whether it's an open seat: AR-02, AZ-01, AZ-05, AZ-08, CO-03, CO-04, FL-02, FL-24, IN-08, IN-09, ND-AL, OH-06, OH-16, PA-03, PA-10, SC-05, TN-06, VA-05, WV-01, and WV-03.
• Teabaggers: Quinnipiac released another poll showing the peril and promise of the teabagger movement for the GOP, as seen in the contrast between the basic generic ballot (44 R, 39 D) and one with a third-party element thrown in (36 D, 25 R, 15 T). Various commenters, like Ed Kilgore and TPM's Zachary Roth are paying close attention to the poll, wondering, as they've done in the past, if there really even is a new-and-different "Tea Party" movement or if it's just a new name for the most-extreme, riled-up part of the Republican Party that's always been there (through the militia movements of the 90s and the Birchers of the 60s).
• NRCC: The NRCC claims to have pulled in $7 million last night at their annual fundraising dinner. That's a lot of scratch, but bear in mind much of that's in "pledges," mostly from House members, some of whom haven't had a good track record of helping the NRCC in the past.
• Census: Two neat Census-related maps worth checking out. One is a constantly-updated real-time map at the Census website which shows the response rates by state and municipality so far. (While the national return rate so far is 16%, the best municipality return rate so far is the civic minded folks of Westside, Iowa at 74%. And despite the popular image of it being full of paranoid militia types living in the hills who would rather use fiat money than fill out a Census form, Montana has the best return rate of any state, at 33%.) The other map is much sadder, courtesy of the Prison Policy Initiative: it shows state-by-state how much distortion of districts occurs through the counting of prisoners where they're incarcerated rather than where they're actually from.
Like the other pollsters, Rasmussen found Governor Chet Culver well behind Republican front-runner Terry Branstad. Like Research 2000, Rasmussen found Senator Chuck Grassley above 50 percent against Democratic challengers, but well below Grassley's usual re-election numbers and even below the numbers Rasmussen found for Grassley in late January.
Research 2000 conducted an Iowa poll of 600 "likely voters who vote regularly in state elections" for KCCI-TV, the CBS affiliate in Des Moines. The poll was in the field from February 15 to 17, and KCCI published the results on its website yesterday.
It's not a good poll for Governor Chet Culver, but it's less bad than the Des Moines Register's latest Iowa poll. Chuck Grassley has a comfortable lead in the Senate race, but not the kind of margin he has enjoyed against previous Democratic opponents.