AK-Sen: Hello! McFly! You ever heard of the Commerce Clause? Joe Miller evidently got quite a fine education at Yale Law, since he somehow believes that the minimum wage is "not within the scope of the powers that are given to the federal government." Oh, yeah, "merit scholarship." Now make like a tree and beat it!
P.S. Miller's personal financial disclosures - which he promised to file last week, after ignoring the law since April - are still "going to take a little while." Anybody home, McFly?!
DE-Sen: By now, you've probably all seen Christine O'Donnell's new ad. If not, drop everything and watch it. It might just blow your mind. But I don't want this other crucial item to get lost in the shuffle: In a 2006 debate, O'Donnell said that "China was plotting to take over America and claimed to have classified information about the country that she couldn't divulge." Reminds me of one of my all-time fave Michele Bachmann quotes.
KY-Sen: Rand Paul is no slouch when it comes to slagging the social safety net. At a debate this weekend, he announced that he wanted to cut Social Security benefits by raising the retirement age. And at a meeting with (who else?) the state Chamber of Commerce, he also declared that Medicaid - a program which benefits some 800,000 Kentuckians - has created "intergenerational welfare."
GA-02: Those federal indictments in Alabama regarding bribery-for-bingo charges are having effects across state lines. Jay Walker was "chief strategist" for Republican Scott McKeown, who has been making some serious headway against Rep. Sanford Bishop of late. Walker, unsurprisingly, has resigned his post.
MN-08: Republican Chip Cravaack (yep, that's how you spell it) is touting an internal poll from Public Opinion Strategies (n=300) showing him nipping at longtime Rep. Jim Oberstar's heels, 45-42. Oberstar's campaign claims that the survey was a "push poll," but Cravaack's campaign denies it (though they won't release the questionnaire). I'd be surprised if a firm like POS did anything outright shady, though. Anyhow, Cravaack had just $42K on hand as of July 21 and had only raised $100K overall. Oberstar has $1.1 million in the bank.
WA-03: This is weird - the Lower Columbia Daily News asked GOPer Jaime Herrera for a list of campaign events she's done since the August primary, but she refused to provide one, claiming it might be used to attack her. Denny Heck's campaign, for their part, says they think Herrera's all but disappeared from the campaign trail. An unofficial list shows that she supposedly did about a dozen events in this timeframe, to some 30-odd by Heck.
NY-State Sen: Did you know that Iona College was in the polling biz? I had no idea. Anyhow, it looks like they've released a couple of state Senate polls in the last few weeks (but no telling exactly how many, since I can't seem to find a central hub for them anywhere). I've come across two surveys, though: In SD-35 (PDF), Dem Andrea Stewart-Cousins leads Republican Liam McLaughlin 44-37. Meanwhile, in SD-40, GOPer Greg Ball leads Dem Mike Kaplowitz 45-35. (A Siena poll yesterday of the same race had Ball up just 45-44.) The sponsor of these polls is a right-wing business group called the Westchester County Association, which also promises to poll SD-37 and NY-19.
ID-01, OH-15: The Hotline has numbers for Walt Minnick and Mary Jo Kilroy
Ophthalmologists: Those rogues are backing a rare Dem, Glenn Nye (VA-02), and a guy whose name hasn't come up in well over a year, Erik Paulsen (MN-03), to the tune of about $65K each
CT-Sen: The DSCC is spending half a mil on TV for Richard Blumenthal
CA-Sen: Uh, is it just me, or does this ad seem like a parody of itself?
ND-AL: I like seeing this a lot. It's not the greatest ad of the cycle, but here Earl Pomeroy proudly touts his support of healthcare reform (I think he was the Dem in the reddest district to vote in favor), while attacking Rick Berg for supporting the never-popular insurance companies. If you know they're going to attack you anyway, you need to just go strong
AK-Sen: Word is out about two forthcoming ad buys in Alaska: Lisa Murkowski is going up on radio and TV (NWOTSOTB), while Scott McAdams just threw down what Smart Media Group is calling "a partial buy of $48K in broadcast."
Meanwhile, I don't really give a fuck what John Kyl thinks, but it's nice to see that he's sweating the possibility that a Murkowski write-in campaign makes it less likely the GOP will hold on to the seat. (As an aside, don't you wish Dems had handled Lieberman like this? Indeed, Republicans are supposedly weighing whether to strip Murkowski of her committee assignments.) But maybe Kyl is just being the idiot he always is, because a Republican source tells The Hill that internal polling "indicates Murkowski's write-in bid takes an equal amount of support from Democrat Scott McAdams as it does Miller." For once in my life, I hope Kyl is right!
MO-Sen: Global Strategy Group for the Missouri Democratic Party (9-14/18, likely voters, no trendlines, includes leaners):
Robin Carnahan (D): 39
Roy Blunt (R): 43
Jerry Beck (C): 3
Jonathan Dine (L): 3
AK-Gov: NEA-Alaska, the biggest union in the state, just endorsed Dem Ethan Berkowitz for governor. And Bill Walker, the Republican primary loser who is still considering a write-in bid, is holding out the possibility of a Berko endorsement as well.
FL-22: The ghost of Casey Stengel is smacking his forehead and asking, once more, "Can't anybody here play this game?" The Florida Democratic Party sent out a mailer hitting Allen West over his tax liens... but the managed to include his full Social Security number. Oy.
IN-09: Reid Wilson claims there's a dispute between the IE arm of the DCCC and main HQ... but there isn't a single quote in the piece, not even an anonymous one. Though the IE wing has cancelled ad buys on behalf of Baron Hill in mid-October, supposedly the "coordinated" arm "believes Hill is still deserving of spending." I have no reason to doubt Reid, but if his source at main D-Trip wanted to get this message out there, this is a damn oblique way to do it - but maybe he or she was scared of accusations of "coordination via the media." Anyhow, it all just shows how dumb these rules against coordination are.
KY-06: The Mellman Group for Ben Chandler (9/13-14, likely voters):
Ben Chandler (D-inc): 53
Andy Barr (R): 33
This is the first poll that Chandler has released, though his campaign teased earlier in the summer that their internal from June gave Chandler a "strong double-digit lead".
MI-03: This open-seat race hasn't gotten a lot of attention, but Dem Patrick Miles just rolled out an impressive list of Republican endorsements, including a couple of former county GOP chairs... and two daughters of retiring Rep. Vern Ehlers! Based on the comments in the article, I get the distinct feeling that Republican Justin Amash must be a seriously unlikable dude for this many of his fellow party members to want to diss him so thoroughly. By the way, Amash's fundraising has been unimpressive (just $380K), and he has less than half the cash of Miles ($227K to $112K).
NE-02: Biden Alert! The VPOTUS is coming to Omaha on Sept. 30th to headline a fundraiser for Dem Tom White. I'm gonna guess that Republican Rep. Lee Terry might have a harder time than most in tying White to the Obama administration, though, given that Terry put out flyers in the 2008 cycle touting his support from mythical "Obama-Terry voters."
NY-18: Wow, the NY GOP sure is good at producing pariah leper candidates these days, huh? Republican Jim Russell, running against Nita Lowey, penned an essay for the racist Occidental Quarterly in support of ethnic and religious segregation a few years ago - but that description is way too anodyne to do his piece justice. For instance, he approvingly quotes T.S. Eliot, who said, among other things: "What is still more important is unity of religious background; and reasons of race and culture combine to make any large number of free-thinking Jews undesirable." Click through to Maggie Haberman's piece for a much larger selection of choice quotes. Also note that the Westchester County GOP endorsed Russell in July, after another candidate dropped out.
TX-23: What a fucking idiot: Republican Quico Canseco blanketed San Antonio with door-hangers that claimed Rep. Ciro Rodriguez voted in favor of TARP. But, uh, he didn't. In fact, he voted against the bailout twice. Seriously, how fucking hard is it to Google this shit?
WA-03: Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Denny Heck (9/7-9, likely voters, no trendlines):
We say "no trendlines" because we don't know the precise top lines from GQR's previously poll for Heck (conducted in June), though we do know from Roll Call's write up that Heck trailed Herrera by 7 points in that one.
FL-Gov: Alex Sink's latest ad uses the words of local newspaper editorials against scumbag Republican Rick Scott's campaign platform, while also touting her economic ideas. And, hey, some WOTSOTB: She's spending $800K on the ad.
AZ-05: One Harry Mitchell spot touts his fight against Congressional pay raises; another touts his support from three apparently reg'lar Republicans (but oddly leaves off the "I approve" message - is this not a broadcast ad?)
AZ-08: Gabby Giffords hangs Jesse Kelly on the "flat tax" with his own words in support of a 23% national sales tax. I personally love going after Republicans on this issue because the dumb fucks who support this have to sputter that no, but, really, actually, what we mean is... ah, who gives a fuck what they mean.
KS-03: An anodyne spot from Republican Kevin Yoder (people shouting "We're Yoder Voters!"); and another pretty blah ad about small businesses (featuring a black-and-white photo of Pelosi without even mentioning her by name - odd)
KY-03: John Yarmuth updates an effective ad from his 2008 campaign, featuring a disabled Navy veteran narrating about Yarmuth's support for vets (ad is "expected to run for a week on all the networks in Louisville")
MD-01: Frank Kratovil also has a good ad hitting Andy Harris on the national 23% sales tax (see AZ-08 above)
NY-20: A pretty clever ad from Scott Murphy, responding to attacks on his vote in favor of healthcare reform by pointing out some of the most popular parts of the bill, like closing the Medicare "donut hole"
SurveyUSA takes its second look at the open seat race in WA-03 to replace retiring Dem Brian Baird, and they find that Denny Heck has narrowed the gap slightly, though Herrera's already over 50%. This could be via better name rec for Heck via continued presence on the airwaves, or just float within the narrow band established by their last poll (and the cumulative Dem/GOP results (54 GOP-42 Dem) of the Top 2 primary).
This being SurveyUSA (and this being Washington, where their age skew always seems especially pronounced), you're probably wondering how those young people feel about this race. Well, it seems like they're really eager to take Herrera out for a malted and then to the sock hop, because she leads Heck 56-38 among the 18-34 crowd. Oldsters want Herrera to turn down that racket, though: Heck actually leads 48-46 among the 65+ crowd.
If there was ever a good indication that the Washington Top 2 primary is a good indicator of future performance, take a look at this SurveyUSA poll of WA-03. In last week's primary, the Democratic candidates (Denny Heck + Cheryl Crist) got 42% and the Republican candidates got 54%. Those votes seem to have flowed unimpeded to the nominees, Heck and Jaime Herrera, with Herrera leading Heck 54-41.
Looking at the crosstabs, the sample is very top-heavy with oldsters (62% are 50+, and 68% report incomes of $50K or more). Not that it matters: the support for Herrera is pretty consistent across all age groups (54% or 55% in all four groups), though. With Herrera already over 50%, Heck is either going to have to change some minds quickly, or else hope (like a lot of other Dems) that the universe of likely voters gets bigger (and younger) than it is now.
AK-Sen: Just an FYI: The Tea Party Express has now spent $550K on behalf of Joe Miller - quite a sum in a super-cheap state like Alaska. (That means they've poured in about $200K in just the last week.) Remember, the TPX is the organization that helped power Sharron Angle to victory. Knocking off an incumbent senator is a much bigger task than beating Chicken Lady, of course, but the teabaggers are determined to keep this one interesting. (Also, any day I get to write about Chicken Lady is a good day.)
KY-Sen: Rand Paul, subjecting himself to a rare press conference, announced his preferred way of combating drug abuse in Eastern Kentucky. Instead of using federal dollars, he prefers church-based options: "I like the fact that faith is involved, that religion - Christianity - is involved, and I'm not embarrassed to say so. You have to have innovative local solutions to problems." Paul still called for the end of earmarks to fund Operation UNITE, an anti-drug program, which caused some awkwardness for his host, Hopkins County Attorney Todd P'Pool, who has made use of UNITE himself. (And yes, that awesome name is NOT a typo.)
NH-Sen: Paul Hodes has a new ad up, featuring music he wrote himself, which continues a theme we've seen elsewhere - namely, referring to Congress as some kind of daycare center for overgrown children. I'm not really sure how effective this characterization really is, given that it's been incumbents who keep deploying it. Anyhow, NWOTSOTB, though the Hodes campaign tells us it's "a significant buy in both the Manchester and Boston media markets" that's going up on both broadcast and cable today.
OR-Gov: Good news for Dem John Kitzhaber: The Oregon Progressive Party declined to nominate a candidate for governor, meaning that there won't be anyone on the ballot running to Kitz's left. Jerry Wilson, creator of the Soloflex, had been hoping for the Prog nod, and says he may run a write-in campaign instead.
AZ-03: Just a day before the primary, Dan Quayle emerged from his undisclosed potatoe to pen an email on behalf of his embattled, pathetic spawn, Ben. At this point, though, nothing can undo the Shame of the Super-Son.
CA-52: Democrat Ray Lutz has ended his 11-day hunger strike, which he launched in an attempt to get Rep. Duncan Hunter to meet him for a series of debates. Hunter actually did say he'd meet for an Oct. 15th debate, though he claims he was planning to accept that date even before Lutz went on his strike. Lutz, of course, is claiming victory - and if this tactic really did have its intended effect, I wonder if we'll ever see anyone else try it again.
IA-03: Rep. Leonard Boswell's been hitting Republican Brad Zaun on his flip-floppery over agricultural subsidies, and it seems like he's landed a solid blow. In Iowa, anything less than maximal statism in support of the ethanol industry is usually a political sin, but Zaun couldn't help himself at a teabagger debate earlier this spring. Zaun related a conversation with a farmer, who asked him "What are you going to do for me and the biofuels industry?" Zaun's description of his own response: "Nothing." Boswell's put out his first radio ad of the cycle (NWOTSOTB) featuring this very quote.
IL-11: Debbie Halvorson is getting a new campaign manager. Julie Merz, who has previously worked for Dennis Moore and Jim Matheson, is taking over for Travis Worl. It's always hard to say whether moves like this reflect campaign turmoil, a sign that the team is upgrading, or just natural turnover. The only tea leaf we have here is that Worl's departure was announced before Merz's hiring was.
LA-02: A good get for Cedric Richmond: New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu just gave the state legislator his endorsement yesterday. Richmond faces fellow state Rep. Juan LaFonta in the primary, which is this Saturday (note the unusual date).
NV-03: Republican media buying company Smart Media Group says that AFSCME has put down $240K for ads against GOPer Denny Joe Heck. The union hasn't filed an independent expenditure report yet, though.
NY-01: Republican George Demos is up with his first TV ad, attempting to out-conservative opponents Randy Altschuler and Ed Cox - and doing his best to make himself unelectable in the general election by painting himself as "pro-life." NWOTSOTB. Meanwhile, Altschuler succeeded in knocking Cox out of the Conservative Party primary, though Cox has vowed to appeal the judge's ruling.
NY-25: Republican (and Mama Grizzly) Ann Marie Buerkle says she won't rule out SSP - the bad kind of SSP, of course:
"There's so many options when it comes to privatization. I would have to look at each plan that's being proposed... but I would certainly consider looking at it."
The Washington Senate primary was the main event last night, even though it the results were entirely predictable (as seen by PPP's pre-primary poll, which got it almost exactly right). Patty Murray is currently at 46, with Dino Rossi at 34; Clint Didier doesn't advance, at 12. Both sides, naturally, are foreseeing doom for their opposition based on the results. It's a little premature to foresee anything, though, since, as if often the case in Washington, only about half of all precincts have reported, and the ones that haven't reported are disproportionately in Seattle. (50% of King County is in, while 67% of precincts outside of King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties are in.) For what it's worth, right now there are a few thousand more total GOP votes than there are total Dem votes in the Senate race (taking into account all 15 participants), though that will change once Seattle reports more. And there's also the problem of getting teabagger votes to switch over from Didier to Rossi; Didier is currently withholding his endorsement, wanting to see "more conviction" and patronizingly insisting on giving Rossi "some coaching" first on how to reach his supporters.
One place where the results don't bode well for Dems is WA-03, where Denny Heck is currently in first but with only 32%, against a fractured GOP field. He'll face state Rep. Jaime Herrera, who hit 27%, followed by teabaggers David Hedrick and David Castillo at 13 and 12 (repeating the oft-seen pattern where the Tea Party could have been relevant if only they'd galvanized behind one candidate), and by Dem activist Cheryl Crist, who pulled in a surprisingly large 12, all of it seeming to come from Heck's left flank. The total GOP vote topped 50%, and as Greg Giroux demonstrates with a terrific spreadsheet comparing the '08 primaries and generals, there's not much variation from the Dem and GOP totals in the primary to the November numbers. Americans for Prosperity isn't wasting any time; they're already jumping into the district with a $180K ad buy with a negative ad against Heck.
Real Clear Politics sees trouble ahead for Rick Larsen in WA-02, who's currently ahead of GOPer John Koster 43-41; however, if you do the Giroux-style math, you'll notice that two other random Dems vacuumed up 10% of the vote, which would project out to a 53-47 advantage for Larsen in a head-to-head. (The good part of the RCP article is about how Washington's top 2 primary has taken the bellwether position once occupied by Maine's weird early general election, from which we get the saying "As goes Maine, so goes the nation.") They also took notice of Rep. Adam Smith finishing in the mid-50s in WA-09; he'll probably face Pierce Co. Commissioner Dick Muri, although that primary hasn't been called yet. And in the one seat where Dems are on offense, in WA-08, it's Dave Reichert vs. Suzan DelBene, who got 48 and 26 respectively (with totals of 59 GOP-41 Dems).
Wyoming's gubernatorial race came down to the wire on the Republican side. Former US Attorney Matt Mead is the victor, beating state Auditor Rita Meyer 29-28, with Ron Micheli at 26 and Colin Simpson at 16. Mead's 714 vote lead was within the margin for a recount, but Meyer conceded and won't seek a recount. Mead will face Democratic former state party chair Leslie Petersen, who won her own primary over Pete Gosar 48-37.
Finally, in California's 15th Senate district, Republican Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee defeated Dem John Laird in a near-identical replay of their first (but inconclusive) special election. Blakeslee won by a 49-44 margin, only slightly different from the original 49-42 result. As a pointless aside, there were more votes cast in this election (with the district's more than 800K residents) than there were in the Wyoming gubernatorial race.
• WA-Sen (Top 2): The billed main event tonight is the Senate primary in Washington, but really, there's not much to see here, other than for Californians to get a good look at what they just signed themselves up for, with the weirdness that is the Top 2 primary. Pollinghas indicated that a Patty Murray/Dino Rossi is all but inevitable, with teabaggers Clint Didier and Paul Akers having gotten little traction (although they have successfully forced Rossi to the right, rhetorically). The real question for pollwatchers is what percentage Murray and Rossi get, as some sort of tea leaf for November. Polling would seem to project Murray in the mid-40s and Rossi in the mid-30s, with Didier in the low teens, but there is so much expectations management going on that that any result will be immediately spun as imminent doom/triumph. At any rate, the primary has always been a mediocre predictor of the general (just ask Darcy Burner, who beat Dave Reichert in the 2008 WA-08 primary), and that may be compounded today by mischievous Dems crossing over to try to help the unelectable Didier past Rossi (or else sitting out, as there's no Dem-on-Dem drama anywhere above the state legislative level).
• WA-03 (Top 2): When a number of solid Dems jumped into this open seat race in the wake of Brian Baird's retirement announcement, this looked like it had the potential for a true rumble in the jungle (primary). But instead it coalesced into something pretty similar to the Senate race, where we were left with one establishment Democrat left standing, Denny Heck (a former state Rep. from long ago, now a wealthy businessman), and on the other side, one underwhelming establishment Republican (state Rep. Jaime Herrera) and a couple feistier Tea Party types (former Bush-era deputy assistant VA Sec. David Castillo, and David Hedrick, whose main claim to fame is shouting down Baird at a town hall). Which GOPer faces Heck is hard to gauge, without any polling evidence; Herrera has the financial advantage (enough to run ads on cable, unlike Castillo), but Castillo has more local endorsements and seemingly more ground-level enthusiasm. If this turns out close, it may be days before we know which GOPer advances, as Washington results are compiled notoriously slowly -- ballots postmarked through today can be counted.
• WY-Gov (D): Dave Freudenthal could have opted to challenge term limits in court but decided not to, leaving the Blue Team struggling to field a candidate here. State Democratic Party chair Leslie Petersen jumped in, as did former University of Wyoming quarterback Pete Gosar. and three Some Dudes. No one's really paid much attention to this primary, given that whoever wins will be considered quite the long shot against whoever the Republican nominee turns out to be. The last (and only?) poll of this race had Petersen leading Gosar 30-22, with undecideds through the roof. Can you really blame the undecided 48% of Wyoming Dems though? (JMD)
• WY-Gov (R): Seven GOPers have jumped into the race, perhaps sensing an opportunity. Four of them exceed the "Some Dude" threshold, namely state Auditor Rita Meyer, former US Attorney Matt Mead, state House speaker (and son of former US Senator Alan) Colin Simpson, and state Agriculture Director Ron Micheli. Sarah Palin's gotten her grubby Grizzly paws in this race, endorsing Meyer; George H.W. Bush countered with an endorsement of Simpson. The same Mason-Dixon poll had Meyer leading Mead 27-24, with Simpson at 17 and Micheli at 12. No runoffs here, so whoever pulls the plurality tonight will be the nominee. (JMD)
• CA-SD15 (special general): Abel Maldonado vacated this Central Coast state Senate seat months ago after he was confirmed as Lieutenant Governor, but no one got 50% in the special primary, so we're doing it again! Republican state Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee of San Luis Obispo fell just a tad short of clearing the 50%+1 barrier last time, scoring 49.4% to Democratic teacher John Laird's 41.8%, with two independents of different parties getting the rest. The frustrating (or humorous) part in all of this is that we get to do this four person dance all over again, since the top finisher of each party moves on from the primary to the general! Given that Blakeslee came so close last time, it's hard to imagine what's shifted in the last eight weeks that Laird can pull this out and put the CA Senate Dems one closer to the magic 2/3rds mark. The wildcard, as always in special elections, is low turnout, but given how the enthusiasm gap has been, we can probably get around to anticipating what arcana the special election for Blakeslee's Assembly seat will bring. (JMD)
Polls close at 9 pm ET (7 pm MT) in Wyoming, and 11 pm ET (8 pm PT) in Washington.
If you have predictions, please feel free to share them in the comments.
• WA-Sen: I'm not sure how this will work, practically speaking, but the two Tea Partiers in the race, rancher Clint Didier and fastener mogul Paul Akers, are "joining forces." They'll be doing joint ads and joint online forums for the remaining few weeks. They can't, of course, be jointly voted-for, so I don't know what the endgame is, but it probably doesn't matter, as both have been polling in the single digits in polls of the jungle primary. Apparently, it does give them a better venue for airing their grievances with the GOP establishment's selection of Dino Rossi as standard-bearer; maybe this way, Akers can distract the ref while Didier puts Rossi in a sleeper hold.
Also on the weird timing front, Washington's Republican SoS, Sam Reed, is just out with a new book on the 2004 gubernatorial election and the protracted recount and court challenges he oversaw. Relations between Reed and the rest of the state Republicans were severely tested during the recount, seeing as how the scrupulous Reed wanted to, y'know, follow the rules. While the book doesn't seem to paint Rossi in a terribly unfavorable light, it can't help but remind everyone of his "perennial candidate" status.
• AZ-Gov: You might recall that NRA board member Owen Buz Mills recently ended his GOP primary campaign against the once-endangered, now-all-powerful Jan Brewer several weeks ago. Well, he's not quite done, his spokesperson is now saying: he's going to enter a Rob Simmons-style state of electoral limbo. Mills won't be spending any more money on the race, but he will leave his name on the ballot. (Other dropouts Dean Martin and John Munger have filed papers of formal withdrawal from the race.)
• OR-Gov, OR-05: Now that Oregon has opted to join New York in the weird world of fusion voting, now it even has its own Independent Party trying to quirkily play it down the middle. Based on its online straw poll of members (with a vote total of a whopping 2,290), the IP gave its backing to Democrat John Kitzhaber in the gubernatorial race, but to Republican state Rep. Scott Bruun in OR-05 (instead of incumbent Dem Kurt Schrader).
• TX-Gov: A number of prominent Dallas business leaders have signed on to a letter announcing their support for Bill White in the gubernatorial race. About half of the signatories, a mix of moderate Republicans and independents, are, in fact, former Kay Bailey Hutchison supporters.
• WY-Gov: I think this trumps her earlier Wilford Brimley endorsement. State auditor Rita Meyer (the only woman in the four-way GOP primary field) got added to Sarah Palin's stable of Mama Grizzlies late last week.
• AL-02, AL-05: The "generally conservative" Alabama Farmer's Federation handed out helpful endorsements to two Dems today: not just to Rep. Bobby Bright (who seems to fit their profile well) but also to Steve Raby, running in the 5th. Raby seems well connected with the agriculture world through his former work for ex-Sen. Howell Heflin.
• MI-02, MI-03: A poll for the Grand Rapids Press, taken by Practical Political Consulting, looks at the GOP primaries in the two western Michigan open seats. In the 2nd (Peter Hoekstra's seat), former NFL player and Family Research Council executive Jay Riemersma has a small lead at 22, followed by former state Rep. Bill Huizenga and teabagging businessman Bill Cooper, both at 15, and state Sen. Wayne Kuipers at 13. In the 3rd (Vern Ehlers' seat), state Rep. Justin Amash (anointed as chosen one by the DeVos family) leads at 28, followed by African-American state Sen. Bill Hardiman at 23 and ex-Kent Co. Commissioner Steve Heacock (the moderate in the field, and Ehlers' endorsee) at 17.
• FL-12: We keep mentally writing this race off due to Lori Edwards' paltry fundraising, and then polling evidence to the contrary shows up. For the second time, the Edwards camp has released an internal poll giving them a lead in this R+6 open seat. Edwards leads GOP ex-state Rep. Dennis Ross 35-32 in a poll taken by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. The catch here is one of the most legitimate Tea Party candidates anywhere is here: Randy Wilkinson, a Polk Co. Commissioner who briefly sought the GOP nomination before deciding to go the third-party route. Wilkinson polls at 20%, although we'll have to see if the near-broke Wilkinson can keep those numbers up through November.
• TN-03: Newt Gingrich handed out a last-minute seal of approval in the GOP primary in the 3rd. He's backing the more-or-less establishment candidate, former state GOP chair Robin Smith. Smith's main opponent is Chuck Fleischmann, a partly-self-funding attorney who seems tighter with the Mike Huckabee crowd than the teabaggers.
• WA-03: The Beltway media seems to take it as an article of faith that GOP state Rep. Jaime Herrera is going to be Denny Heck's opponent in November, but David Castillo shouldn't be counted out. Not being on the ground, they wouldn't pick up on the general sense of underwhelmingness that seems to surround Herrera, but it seems like they would, at some point, have noticed that nearly all the endorsements of consequence in the district have gone to Castillo. He got endorsements from the newspapers in Vancouver, Longview, and Centralia, as well as the out-of-district Seattle Times. AG Rob McKenna, probably the state's best-liked Republican, had endorsed Castillo before Rep. Brian Baird's retirement and Herrera's entry, but he's been pointedly sticking by his endorsement, hosting a Castillo fundraiser last week.
• House: Nate Silver's out with a new toy that SSPers will certainly be interested in: having found that Democratic House candidates tend to overperform vis-à-vis presidential numbers in districts with lower median household income, he's created a new index that's a mashup of prez numbers and income, called the Partisan Propensity Index. (He looked at only results in open seat races, which eliminates the main problem with trying to fit House numbers on top of prez numbers, which is the overwhelming staying power of incumbents.) At the end of the day, it's still not too different from PVI, inasmuch as Chet Edwards has the worst district of any Dem and Joe Cao has the worst district of any GOPer, but it does reflect the reality that suburban Sun Belt districts that are truly swingy at the presidential level are a harder nut for Dems to crack at the House level than rural Appalachian districts that are red at the presidential level.
• NV-Gov: Rory Reid (D) 40%, Brian Sandoval (R) 50%
• OK-Gov: Jari Askins (D) 36%, Mary Fallin (R) 57%
• PA-Gov: Dan Onorato (D) 39%, Tom Corbett (R) 50%
• PA-Sen: Joe Sestak (D) 39%, Pat Toomey (R) 45%
• SC-Gov: Vincent Sheheen (D) 35%, Nikki Haley (R) 49%
• WA-Sen: Patty Murray (D-inc) 49%, Dino Rossi (R) 47%
• WA-Sen: Patty Murray (D-inc) 48%, Clint Didier (R) 45%
• WA-Sen: Patty Murray (D-inc) 48%, Paul Akers (R) 42%
• WI-Gov: Tom Barrett (D) 45%, Mark Neumann (R) 44%
• WI-Gov: Tom Barrett (D) 43%, Scott Walker (R) 50%
CT-Sen: I thought it was pretty weird that alleged non-candidate Rob Simmons was going to participate in a GOP debate last night. Well, he un-weirded things (I guess) by declaring at this debate that he is "running for the United States Senate." We'll see if it sticks. The primary, by the way, is August 10th.
KS-Sen: Not something you see every day: Rep. Jerry Moran's former campaign manager, who claims he was pushed out in April, has endorsed rival Rep. Todd Tiahrt. Paul Moore said he thinks Moran, who has led in every single public poll, is not "instinctively conservative."
NC-Sen: A new Civitas poll has Richard Burr leading Elaine Marshall 44-37. It's been a really long time since Civitas looked at this race; in December of last year, they found Burr up 40-32.
WA-Sen: Obama alert! The POTUS will headline a fundraiser for Sen. Patty Murray on August 17th in Seattle.
FL-Gov: McLaughlin & Associates supposedly has yet another poll out, but not for their client Bill McCollum. Apparently, they did double duty for the Florida Medical Association, and - surprise - found Rick Scott leading McCollum 37-33. This seems like a pretty colossal waste of money, since McCollum's internal - released just the other day - had him down 37-31.
Meanwhile, McCollum had to deal with a small brush fire: former Florida House Speaker Alan Bense held a private meeting with Rick Scott over the weekend. The problem is that Bense is supposed to be a McCollum supporter - something he re-iterated after his soiree, saying he only got together with Scott to be polite. Bense is also the chairman-elect of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and his group is expected to get behind Billy Mac. And in case anyone still cares what unlovable loser Gary Bauer thinks, he endorsed McCollum.
KS-Gov: Dem state Sen. Tom Holland raised $283K from Jan. 1 to July 22nd and has $103K on hand. His Republican opponent, Sen. Sam Brownback, took in $519K and has $1.2 million in the bank. Note, though, that Holland's fundraising mostly took place after the legislative session ended in June (there are strict regulations on fundraising while the lege is in operation), while Brownback was free to raise from all sources throughout the reporting period. Brownback's been spending his time well, mind you: He just introduced legislation which would ban the creation of "part-human, part-animal creatures." Sadly, this would mean no manticores, minotaurs, or mermaids. And I was really looking forward to embracing our brave new Greek mythology future.
MN-Gov: Glad to see that Citizens United is proving to be a two-edged sword. Target has donated $150,000 to a right-wing group called MN Forward, which is running TV ads on behalf of extremist Republican nominee Tom Emmer. Gay groups in particular are incensed, since Target had been known as a gay-friendly employer, even going so far as to support the Twin Cities Gay Pride Festival. And speaking for myself, Target can get fucked - as can Best Buy and any other corporation which uses corporate money to help elect Republicans. Not shopping at either location anymore, that's for sure.
NY-Gov: Andrew Cuomo is launching his first TV ad of the cycle, a spot about property taxes. Of course, NWOTSOTB, or whether it's cable or broadcast, or even where it's airing. Sigh.
OH-Gov: Obama alert 2! The day after the POTUS appears in WA (see bullet above), he'll be doing a fundraiser for Ted Strickland in Columbus.
OR-Gov: We haven't done writeups of our most recent batch of race ratings yet, but Carla Axtman of Blue Oregon has a nice writeup of an interview she did with Crisitunity at Netroots Nation, where he explains our decision to move OR-Gov from Likely D to Tossup.
RI-Gov: Linc Chafee is doing his best to out-do Martha Coakley when it comes to alienating Red Sox Nation (a broad constituency throughout New England). While criticizing state loan guarantees to a video game company owned by Schilling, he also decided to question whether Schilling's famous "bloody sock" game was legit. Already Chafee's tried to walk back the remark - but there are no do-overs in baseball. Or politics.
GA-02: Dem Rep. Sanford Bishop, in a competitive race with Republican Mike Keown (who oh-so-narrowly outraised the incumbent last quarter), formally kicked off his campaign yesterday with a newly-famous Georgian at his side: Shirley Sherrod, with whom you are most certainly familiar by now. Even though this district is almost 48% black, it's also extremely competitive politically, going 54% for Obama and 50% for Kerry.
KS-01: SurveyUSA has one final look at the open-seat GOP primary in KS-01, finding a three-way tie between state Sen. Jim Barnett, realtor Tracey Mann, and state Sen. Tim Huelskamp. All pull 24%. Last time, it was 23-20-18.
MA-09: Bubba alert! Bill Clinton is doing a fundraiser and rally this Thursday for conservadem and anti-healthcare reform asshole Stephen Lynch. Lynch faces a primary from Mac D'Alessandro and has a monster cash advantage ($1.3 million to just $72K), so this surely seems like overkill to me - but of course, the Big Dog loves to pay back favors, and Lynch was (you guessed it) a Hillary supporter in 2008.
NY-13: Rep. Mike McMahon, seeking to avoid a primary on the Independence Party line, is challenging the petitions of third-party irritant John Tabacco. Tabacco needs only 497 valid signatures, but New York has absurdly stringent rules which make it very easy to knock "bad" sigs out. Therefore, the common rule of thumb is that you need to submit at least twice as many petitions as the law requires, and Tabacco only provided 678. Therefore, I'm going to guess that McMahon - who is highly motivated here - will succeed in his challenges. Tabacco has some more problems to worry about, though - after giving a loan to the wife of the chair of the state Independence Party last year, he suddenly got their ballot line in a city council race (funnily enough, for the seat vacated by McMahon).
NY-15: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is dipping a toe into new waters, suggesting that resignation is an option for Charlie Rangel. So is fighting the charges, Hoyer says, but a ringing endorsement of the embattled former Ways and Means chair this is not. Meanwhile, Walt Minnick isn't playing footsie, becoming the second Dem (after OH-13's Betty Sutton) to call on Rangel to quit the House.
Rangel is still in talks with the ethics committee to try to reach some sort of plea bargain, but it seems that he's unwilling to cop to a sufficiently broad array of violations to satisfy the committee members. If Rangel can't come to terms, he'd face a "public hearing" (essentially a trial). As the New York Times points out, the last time this happened was in 2002, when Jim Traficant was expelled from the House.
PA-07: Teabagger Jim Schneller, hoping to appear on the ballot as an independent, says he's gathered 5,200 signatures so far - a thousand more than the 4,200 he needs to submit by August 2nd. It remains to be seen if Republican Pat Meehan will try to challenge Schneller's bid.
TN-03: Politico has a piece documenting the wingnut-on-wingnut violence stemming from the fight to replace outgoing Rep. Zach Wamp in this dark-red seat. The battle is between attorney Chuck Fleischmann and former state GOP chair Robin Smith.
Fundraising: A rare day: two Steny Hoyer mentions in one digest. The House Majority Leader is parachuting into a whole host of districts, doing events for Dems such as Mark Critz, Chris Carney, Tim Bishop, Denny Heck, and the undeserving Larry Kissell. Hoyer, like Nancy Pelosi, got where he is because lots and lots of people owe him - and will continue to owe him. Let this be a lesson to aspiring progressive leaders in Congress.