• HI-Sen: Charles Djou reiterated that he'd wait until fellow GOPer Linda Lingle decides whether to run, which he expects by this summer. (So does that mean until Sept. 21st?)
• MA-Sen: This is some... creative spin from the DSCC. Dems, both named and un-named, are saying that the failure of a Democratic challenger to emerge against Scott Brown is all part of a plan, one that involves attacking Brown (by various proxies, it would seem) while giving the Republicans no Dem to attack in response. This plan is so super-genious, it ought to continue right up until November 6th, 2012.
• NV-Sen: The Lahontan Valley News, covering a Jeff-Jack dinner up north that Rep. Shelley Berkley just attended, says that the congresswoman " confirmed she wants to run" for Senate - but those are their words, not hers. Please hold the microphone closer to the horse's mouth!
• VA-Sen: President Obama showered some praise on Tim Kaine at a couple of fundraisers in NYC on Tuesday night. Is this part of a lengthy marketing campaign, or an attempted kick in the pants?
• CA-Gov: A lone unnamed source tells Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross of the SF Chronicle that newly-elected Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is planning to run for governor... in 2014. That would mean he either expects the Hon. Gov Jerry Brown, who will be 76 by then, to not run again, or he thinks it would be a good idea to challenge Brown in a primary. Given that it's Newsom we're talking about, I wouldn't be surprised if it's the latter.
• WV-Gov: Rick Thompson has another ad out. I'm told that several other Dems are on the air, but I checked all of their YouTube accounts and found no other ads.
• CA-36: The League of Conservation Voters just came out for Debra Bowen, while Rep. Linda Sanchez threw her support behind Janice Hahn.
• NY-26: Dem Kathy Hochul is out with her first ad (NWOTSOTB), in which she touts her accomplishments as a politician... all of which seem to have to do with cars, in one way or another.
• WI-07: Sean Duffy is just a total asshole, but my heart really goes out to the guy who questioned him at a town hall. Said the questioner:
I'm a builder. I haven't been building too many things in the last couple years with the economy down. My wife is a teacher. I'm fortunate enough to take a bus driving job. Love it. Just love it. But it's not very much money of course. It's working for us.
He drives a bus, and still considers himself lucky. Sean Duffy earns $174,000 a year as a member of Congress and complains that "I struggle to meet my bills." He also declared that the benefits the builder/bus driver's wife gets as a state employee are "gold-plated" and are better than those he gets as a federal employee. As Steve archly notes: "What, they don't have an Office of the Attending Physician in Marinette or Eau Claire?"
• Suffolk Co. Lege: It's some good news... for John McCain! It may also be further down into the weeds than we've ever gone at SSP. A Democrat, Sarah Anker, appears to have won a special election in a deeply Republican seat in the Suffolk County Legislature. Republicans are trying to claim that County Exec. Steve Levy's very high-profile troubles with the law (see SSP Amazing Digest #325) weighed them down in this race... but Levy's only been a Republican for less than a year!
• Farm Subsidies: An organization called the Environmental Working Group has a fascinating look at the 23 members of Congress (17 Republicans, 6 Democrats) who have received farm subsidies since 1995. Over the last fifteen years, this group of Republicans has pulled in over ten times as much ($5.3 million vs. $500K) than the Dems. Farm subsidies have been a campaign trail issue - they enrage teabaggers, who savaged the #1 recipient, TN-08 Rep. and agribusiness kingpin Stephen Fincher, in the GOP primary last year over the $3.4 million in federal largesse he's received over the years. The piece also notes that Dems tried to protect rural members by preserving the status quo back in 2008, but that of course has completely failed. With most of those big-age pols now washed out to the hog lagoon, maybe, just maybe, official Democratic policy toward these awful subsidies will change.
• Voter Suppression: The AP has a good roundup on the stepped-up Republican efforts to pass voter ID laws - despite the expense caused by these laws, and by the fact that pretty much no one nowhere has ever proven a single one of these overblown charges of "VOTER FRAUD!!!!!!!!111111111". States on the list include Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Fortunately, in Democratic-controlled Arkansas, the idea died in the Senate after it passed the House.
• Fundraising: Today is the first day of the rest of your life. It's also the last day of the first fundraising quarter of the year, so time to start thinking about donations to your favorite Democrats.
• DC: The District of Columbia doesn't often appear in the digest, but this fits our style: The site Greater Greater Washington has a Google Maps-based game of sorts where you can redistrict the city's wards.
• Florida: Republican legislative leaders have forwarded on Florida's redistricting ballot measures (passed last year) to the Dept. of Justice for pre-clearance - an application weirdo Gov. Rick Scott withdrew earlier this year. But Mike Haridopolos (oh, you know him) and Dean Cannon, his counterpart in the state House, drafted their request to the DoJ in a way deliberately designed to undermine the amendments. They claimed they would hurt minority voting rights, but I don't really see how that's possible, since the VRA would trump any state laws. Hopefully the DoJ will see through this charade and clear these amendments promptly.
• Iowa: Start hitting refresh! Iowa's first-draft federal map will come out this morning.
• Louisiana: The state House voted to accept a new map on Tuesday, by a 70-28 margin. Most of the votes against were from black Democrats and also from Republicans from Jefferson Parish, which apparently loses a seat to Orleans Parish under this plan.
• Maine: Maine state law says that redistricting must be done in 2013 - which of course would be after the next round of Congressional elections. Two Mainers have filed a lawsuit challenging this practice on "one person, one vote" grounds, pointing out that every other state (except Montana, where federal redistricting isn't an issue) redraws their maps as soon as they get new Census data in.
• New York: Republican state Sen. Majority Leader Dean Skelos declared last night that redistricting reform is dead. He said the Senate would not take up legislation that would create an independent commission.
• Pennsylvania: Everyone seems to expect that Dems Jason Altmire and Mark Critz will get thrown into a single district by Republicans. Politico examines what the contours of such a mashup might look like.
• Texas: The Texas Tribune did a National Review-style poll of "insiders," asking them what the state's four new congressional districts will look like. 54% said they'll be 3-1 Republican, while 37% said 2-2 Dem.
Governor: Bill Haslam R v. Mike McWherter (OPEN)
Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam is going to absolutely crush Jackson businessman Mike McWherter on November 2nd. The son of Ned Ray McWherter was mistakenly allowed a free pass in the Democratic Primary, after which he proved himself to be completely inept and unqualified to be running for Governor, with only his father's legacy and last name to recommend him. Haslam in contrast proved himself to an adept campaigner and by far the most qualified candidate in both the primary and general elections. While McWherter has run arguably the worst campaign of any credible candidate in Tennessee history, while Haslam has run perhaps the best organized and executed in the state's history. On Election Day the most qualified and deserving candidate will be elected Governor of Tennessee, and in this instance it will be a Republican.
Tennessee Congressional Delegation
TN-3: Chuck Fleischmann R v. John Wolfe (OPEN)
Fleischmann is going to easily win this Republican leaning district by a 2-1 margin over the under-funded Democrat, John Wolfe. No analysis needed.
TN-4: Scott DesJarlais R v. Lincoln Davis D (i)
A month ago I would have argued that Davis would be favored over a Republican who would be second-tier in most any other cycle, but recent polling in the district and prevailing national trends have moved this race into tossup territory. If I had to wager I would still bet on Davis as the incumbent, but DesJarlais has about made the odds 50/50 that he will be going to Washington.
TN-5: David Hall R v. Jim Cooper D (i)
Cooper is favored to win his district, despite Republican hopes to the contrary, by a less than comfortable margin over Republican David Hall. It probably won't be a win as large as Cooper is used to racking up, but he has done the minimal amount of work necessarily to probably avoid some fluke upset in even the largest of Republican waves. While Hall winning cannot be completely discounted, Cooper is clearly favored as a incumbent in a Democratic leaning district.
TN-6: Diane Black R v. Brett Carter D (OPEN)
Diane Black will likely win this district by a roughly 2-1 margin. No Democrat seriously had a shot at holding this seat this cycle except for Bart Gordon.
TN-8: Stephen Fincher R v. Roy Herron D (OPEN)
Roy Herron was never the best Democrat to run for this seat. He hails from a safe State Senate district where he had never faced serious challenges during his long political career (House or Senate), and his political abilities were severely overrated - as I have mentioned in previous posts. Fincher on the other hand won a hard fought campaign and proved his mettle in the most expensive primary in the nation. The 8th has become extremely hostile to the Democratic brand since the election of President Obama, and it would have taken an older ultra-conservative Democrat like former House Transportation Chairman Phillip Pinion (Union City) or a geographically advantaged and youthful conservative Democrat like Lowe Finney (Jackson) to beat the weakest and most generic of Republicans this cycle. So despite serious questions over Fincher's campaign finance disclosures and a questionable campaign loan from a local bank, Fincher has ridden out the General Election refusing to answer these serious questions or debate with little detrimental effect. A majority of the electorate is just not inclined this year to send another conservative Democrat to Washington, and Stephen Fincher as flawed and unqualified candidate as he is, appears almost certain to go to Washington as the 8th District's next Congressman.
Best Case Scenario: 6R-3D (-2 D)
Worst Case Scenario: 7R-2D (-3D)
TN-2: Tony Shipley R (i) v. Nathan Vaughn D
In this 2008 rematch Democrat Nathan Vaughn is trying to regain his House seat from Republican Tony Shipley. This district bucked the Republican inclination of East Tennessee in 2002 by not only electing a Democrat, but an conservative African-American Democrat. Shipley ran a really nasty campaign and upset Vaughn in a race that he took for granted. Shipley has to be favored in this environment, but Vaughn can't be wrote off out of hand as he is a known quantity and Shipley has a habit of making crazy statements.
TN-4: Jerome Cochran R v. Kent Williams I (i)- Speaker of the House Lean I
In a 3rd rematch of these two, former Representative Jerome Cochran attempts yet again to knockoff the man, Kent Williams, who beat him in the 2006 and 2008 in Republican Primaries, and went on to become Speaker of the House in league with the House Democrats in 2008. Since then Williams has had to become an Independent, and thus the rematch moves to the General Election setting. Williams is favored, but not out the woods.
TN- 10: Don Miller R v. Larry Mullins D (OPEN)
This seat was opened up after Democrat John Litz decided against running for re-election. This is a district in traditional Republican East Tennessee, based around Morristown/Hamblen County. This district leans Republican, but has some Democratic base to rely on as an old industrial town. In an open seat scenario the seat should lean Republican, but the Democrat is competent and has a fighting shot, so it's hard to rank it worse than a toss-up.
TN-11: Jeremy Faison R v. Eddie Yokley D (i)
Eddie Yokley has successfully held his seat through two tough re-election challenges since 2004, and in light of that fact he has to be slightly favored to win re-election in this naturally Republican leaning district due to his ability to have won and held the seat in any cycle.
TN-32: Julia Hurley R v. Dennis Ferguson D (i)
TN-33: John Ragan R v. Jim Hackworth D (i)
TN-36: Dennis Powers R v. Keith Clotfelter D (i) (OPEN)
This seat was opened up after Dennis Powers upset a first-term Republican incumbent, and now faces Democrat Keith Clotfelter. The district leans Republican, but some Democratic base exists to work with in the right cycle/environment. However, this district has been represented by a Republican for a long time, so it's hard to see it swinging to a Democrat due to any lingering divisions from the Republican Primary.
TN-38: Kelly Keisling R v. Leslie Winningham D (i)
TN-39: David Alexander R v. George Fraley D (i)
This traditionally Democratic rural Middle Tennessee district is an area where being a Republican was still an unfeasible political affiliation until recently. George Fraley is a poplar Democrat, problem is that he advancing in age and perhaps should have thought about retiring last cycle. Lingering doubts about Fraley open him up to defeat by his capable Republican opponent, David Alexander. This race will boil down to whether the electorate has faith in Fraley's ability to serve one more term.
TN-40: Terry Lynn Weaver R (i) v. James Hale D
This rural Middle Tennessee district that was traditionally Democratic until it was opened up by a retirement in 2008. During that cycle the Democrat who emerged from the primary ran an abysmal and lazy campaign where "this has always been Democratic district" mentality cost the Democrats a winnable seat. Weaver as an incumbent in this environment is favored, but the Democrat is capable and has an outside chance to win.
TN-41: Patrick McCurdy R v. John Mark Windle D (i)
TN-42: Ryan Williams R v. Henry Fincher D (i)
Fincher has held this district since 2006, but has never faced a Republican in a general election. So while he is favored, his lack of political testing has to be an area of concern.
TN-44: Matt Wynn R v. Mike McDonald D (i)
TN-46: Mark Pody R v. Stratton Bone D (i)
This district is based around Lebanon and eastern Wilson County, and is part of the Nashville metro that is seeing suburban/exurban growth and trending Republican. In this environment an entrenched Democrat like Stratton Bone could be upset due to changing demographics combined with an awful political environment finally flipping the seat.
TN-48: Joe Carr R (i) v. David B. LaRouche
A traditional Democratic seat in Murfreesboro/Rutherford County, aka metro Nashville, that was won by Republican Joe Carr in an open seat scenario in 2008. This type of district is trending away from its Democratic roots, so it's hard to see how the Republican can lose it this cycle.
TN-49: Mike Sparks R v. Kent Coleman D (i)
Another Murfreesboro/Rutherford County seat, but here an entrenched Democrat, Kent Coleman, faces a serious race where his votes in Judiciary Committee open him up to attack over all sorts of hot button issues. Rutherford County shifted Republican on the County level in August, and that does not bode well for Coleman.
TN-60: Jim Gotto R v. Sam Coleman D (OPEN)
A Metro Nashville/Davidson County seat long held by a conservative Democrat, Ben West, is the only open seat in friendly Democratic territory. This race is between two locally well known councilmen who know their way around politics and campaigns. This seat should lean D as Obama won the district; but Gotto is a strong candidate running a strong campaign in a Republican year, so he has a solid chance of beating the odds and picking up a Democratic leaning seat.
TN-64: Sheila Butt R v. Ty Cobb D (i)
Ty Cobb unseated a Republican incumbent in 2008 by a hefty margin to regain a traditionally Democratic seat, as one of the few highlights for Democrats on election night for that cycle. Now he faces a far weaker opponent on paper, but a much worse economic (GM's Spring Hill plant is in this district) and political environment, despite this Cobb should be capable of holding his seat.
Tn-65: Billy Spivey v. Eddie Bass (i)
TN-66: Josh Evans R (i) v. Billy Carneal D
Evans won this long-held Democratic seat in 2008 after a hard-fought race where the Democratic incumbent suffered a heart-attack and was taken out of action late in the campaign. Evans is not the strongest candidate Republicans could ask for, and faces a tough opponent in the Mayor of Springfield, Billy Carneal; but at the end of the day he has to be slightly favored as the incumbent.
TN-67: Neil Revlett R v. Joe Pitts D (i)
TN-69: Wayne White R v. David Shepard D (i)
TN-75: Tim Wirgau R v. Butch Borchert D (i)
Butch Borchert is in his 4th term serving this rural mainly West Tennessee based district. He faces an extremely strong and competent opponent in Republican Tim Wirgau, who nearly beat Borchert in 2008. Borchert is another aging Democrat who faces questions about his ability to serve another term. Wirgau has the geographic base (Henry Co.) to finish off Borchert this cycle due to the probably lower turn-out in his base counties (Benton, Stewart).
TN-76: Andrew Holt R v. Mark Maddox D (i)
Mark Maddox is noted only because he hails from Weakley County, the home county of Roy Herron and Ned McWherter. He faces a novice political neophyte in Andrew Holt, who in a normal cycle would be a token opponent; but in this cycle, where long-term incumbents are facing a backlash and the top of the ticket is a disaster, an upset here would be a huge deal. If Maddox was to be beaten, the Democrats statewide in the House will have likely lost upwards of 10 seats.
TN-77: Bill Sanderson R v. Judy Barker D (i)
Judy Barker won a hard-fought and extremely close race in an open seat against Bill Sanderson in 2008. Barker is arguably the hardest campaigner in Tennessee and won't go down without a fight. She has voted her district and has an extremely solid support throughout Republican and Democratic circles in the district. If the "say and do anything" to get elected Bill Sanderson was to win on election night, it will be due to the R next to his name swaying low information voters, not because the district's voters thought he was the better candidate.
TN-79: Curtis Halford R (i) v. Joe Shepard D
This traditionally Democratic district has been Republican since 2002, and was recently won in a close race by Republican Curtis Halford in 2008. Had Joe Shepard run in 2008 he would have certainly won, as he served as Gibson County Sheriff for 20 years and just finished as County Mayor in 2010. Gibson County accounts for roughly 4/5 of the district's population, so Shepard has a clear advantage. However, now he faces a moderate incumbent who is fairly acceptable to a voter of any stripe, but is a very weak campaigner on the ground. The southern portions of Gibson are booming with affluent suburbanites leaving Jackson for the public schools of the exurb of Medina, while the Carroll County part of the district has a fairly strong Republican inclination. These factors play well for Halford, but if Shepard can win a big enough margin outside of Medina and Carroll County he is the best chance for a Democratic pick-up of the cycle.
TN-80: Mark Johnstone R v. Johnny Shaw D (i)
This horribly drawn district was drawn to create a rural African-American majority district. It has been represented by Johnny Shaw since 2000, a conservative African American Democrat who represents a district encompassing most of the city of Jackson/half of Madison County, and portions of Hardeman County. This district has changed dramatically since 2002, as its northern Madison County portion has become suburbanized with white affluent professionals. Many of these voters are not keen on Democrats, and even less on African American Democrats after the election of President Obama. Johnny Shaw is conservative enough that he should win such a district one last time until redistricting, but if the AA vote doesn't turn out, then his "say anything to get elected" opponent, Mark Johnstone, has a solid shot of eking out the narrowest of wins.
TN-81: Jim Hardin R v. Jimmy Naifeh D (i) Former Democratic Speaker of the House Lean D
Speaker Naifeh has faced tough races in the past (2002, 2004), as half of his district (Tipton Co.) is trending Republican via suburban growth fueled by migration increases out of Memphis. However, in the past he has been able to leverage his possession of the Speakership and deep roots to Tipton County to blunt Republican challengers in his home county, while leveraging Haywood County's minority-majority base of Democratic voters as a reserve to bolster his election night results. Jim Hardin though is posed to upset the former Speaker, as Naifeh no longer has the Speakership, nor can he count on AA turnout in his district to bolster his numbers. While Naifeh remains slightly favored, his destiny is tied to his GOTV operations.
TN-82: Johnny Edwards R v. Craig Fitzhugh D (i)
Craig Fitzhugh represents one of the strongest Democratic districts in rural West Tennessee - in normal years. Unfortunately, half his district is Crockett County, home of TN-8 Republican nominee, Stephen Fincher, where traditional Democrats will overwhelmingly support Fincher. Fitzhugh has to win a large margin out of Lauderdale County (his home county), hope to win his portion of Dyer County, and then rest his hopes on Fincher not carrying Edwards to a huge victory in Crockett. Fitzhugh is favored as the incumbent, but an upset is very possible under the right conditions.
TN-93: Tim Cook R v. Mike Kernell D (i)
Kernell should never be in trouble in his Democratic leaning Memphis district, but he is always on the radar for the fluke upset. Why? The simple answer that while he is competent and a nice guy, he often comes across as "a weird dude in a suit who just emerged from a nap in a dumpster". In other words his appearance and communication skills are sometimes lacking. The right Republican in the right year could upset Kernell, and this looks like a year where the stars could finally align for just such an upset. With that said, Kernell will most likely win because of the lean of his district, but his "uniqueness" is a persistent marketing problem.
Best Case Scenario: 53R-45D-1I (-3D)
Worst Case: 63R-36D (-12D, -1I)
TN-7: Stacey Campfield R v. Randy Walker D
Stacey Campfield is extremely well known for his radical and far-right wing antics in the State House since winning office in 2004. He is a completely polarizing figure who has somehow managed to defeat repeated better funded Republican primary challengers due to his persistent ability to work the ground game. Now he is posed to move up to the Senate, but faces one last opponent in Democrat Randy Walker. Campfield is favored due to the strong Republican lean of this Knox County district, but the possibility that this larger electorate might prefer a one-term Democrat over the extremely controversial Campfield cannot be ruled out.
TN-13: Bill Ketron R (i) v. Debbie Mathews D
TN-15: Gary Steakley R v. Charlotte Burks D (i)
TN-17: Mae Beavers R (i) R v. George McDonald D
Mae Beavers is another polarizing figure in Republican politics, and has burned some bridges over local issues within her Senate District. Democrat George McDonald has raised significant funds and worked the ground game sufficiently to stand an outside chance of winning the race by exploiting voter discontent over Beaver's habit of putting ideological purity over the needs of the district. Beavers as the incumbent is favored, but this seat poses the best chance of a Democrat knocking an incumbent Senator.
TN-21: Steven Dickerson R v. Douglas Henry D (i)
One of the last Democratic warhorses of the State Senate faces a serious challenge in keeping his affluent Nashville Senate District. None the less, Henry has to be favored to win one last term despite his advanced age.
TN-25: Jim Summerville R v. Doug Jackson D (i)
TN-27: Don McCleary R v. Lowe Finney D (i)
In 2006, party-switching Republican Don McLeary lost this Jackson centered State Senate seat to Lowe Finney in an extremely close and hard fought race. Now in 2010, after be humiliating in a Republican Primary for County Mayor of Madison County (Jackson) in 2007, the severely "brand damaged" McLeary has re-emerged to attempt to retake his old seat. Lowe Finney though has strong ties to the Republican leaning professional class in the affluent sections of North Jackson, cutting into the natural Republican base McLeary has to lock up in order to overcome the more Democratic leaning counties of the district (Gibson and Carroll). Internal polling released by Finney on October 25 showed him winning 51-44, which syncs up the with the massive and almost exclusively negative media campaign McLeary has waged up until Election Day - a sure sign of a trailing campaign. Finney is favored as the well-liked incumbent, while McLeary's hopes hinge on the R next to his name carrying him across the line with low-information voters.
TN-29: Robert Hill R v. Ophelia Ford D (i)
Ophelia Ford apparently suffers from severe personal/health problems, which keeps her from showing up to vote in the Legislature very much over the last several years. These problems aren't stopping her from seeking re-election as the entitled member of the crumbling Ford family political machine that used to dominate much of the Memphis vote. She won a controversial special election and recount in 2005 to replace her brother John Ford after his conviction for bribery; an election in which she lost on Election Day, but won after enough votes were found via the recount to squeak out a win. Ford is favored, but she is facing an African-American Republican, Robert Hill, who has a solid argument that he would better serve the district by just showing up to work in Nashville on a regular basis.
Best Case Scenario: 18R-15D (+1D)
Worst Case Scenario: 20R-13D (-1D)
CO-Sen: In a debate on Meet the Press with Sen. Michael Bennet, GOPer Ken Buck said he thinks that being gay is a choice - and then followed up by saying, "I think that birth has an influence over it, like alcoholism and some other things, but I think that basically you have a choice."
NH-Sen: This is not so helpful: Paul Hodes's former pollster, Mountain West Research, just agreed to pay New Hampshire a $20K fine for failing to comply with state law regarding a negative message-testing poll they did on behalf of Hodes this past summer. The AP calls it "push polling," but it quite clearly wasn't, given the small number of respondents involved, and also the timing (push polling is something you do to mass numbers of people right before election day). It seems like Mountain West's sin was failing to identify the poll's sponsor (i.e., Hodes) on their calls.
PA-Sen: CQ says that the DSCC has spent $4.7 million in Pennsylvania to date (not include the $1.2 million they shelled out to help Arlen Specter), and Dems expect to spend $9 million before all is said and done, making it the biggest commitment in the nation. Thanks to independent groups, the NRSC has only spent about $600K here so far.
WV-Sen: This has already come up on the campaign trail (Joe Manchin's mentioned it in ads, for instance), but now it's official: John Raese's wife has been formally purged from the West Virginia voting rolls - because she's also registered to vote in Florida, where she lives. (Ooh! Voter fraud!) And while we're on the topic, Raese probably wishes that Rush Limbaugh would shut his big fat mouth. This is how Big Pharma described the senate candidate while endorsing him on his show:
"Full disclosure, I happen to know John Raese. He is a part-time resident here in Palm Beach and he has a locker right across the, right across the bench from me at a prominent local club. I've never played golf with him, but I've met him."
As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Daniel Malloy says, "The image of Raese rubbing elbows with Rush at a swank Palm Beach country club is not one that the Raese campaign must welcome right now."
AZ-07: I wonder what guys like Steve Driehaus have to think when they get told to walk the plank while veterans in much bluer districts who are victims only of their own self-inflicted wounds - oh, such as, I dunno, Raul Grijalva - get help airlifted in from above. Anyhow, the DCCC must clearly sense trouble in AZ's 7th CD, since they've gone up on the air here with an ad hitting Ruth McClung for supporting a 23% national sales tax.
FL-22: You may have seen the news that GOPer Allen West has a disturbingly close relationship with a notorious gang of violent criminals known as the Outlaws Motorcycle Club. The best part now, though, is West's denial that he has any affiliation with the group, in which he channels a sort of Bizarro Groucho Marx. The Outlaws, you see, "do not accept blacks, Jews or gays." Phew!
NC-11: Big Dog alert! Bill Clinton is doing a rally for Heath Shuler in Asheville on Thursday.
NY-22: It may not be quite Paul LePage levels, but Maurice Hinchey probably wishes he hadn't gotten so testy with a reporter who asked him questions about whether he had a financial interest in a local development project. On tape, you can see Hinchey tell William Kemble that he is "full of baloney" and to "shut up." After the cameras stopped rolling, though, Hinchey apparently "made a beeline for Kemble and got in his face." Crew for local station YNN said they "saw the congressman poke Kemble in the chest aggressively."
TN-08: Though Ron Johnson's received probably the most attention in recent months, I think Steve Fincher may be this cycle's granddaddy for bailouts-for-me-but-not-for-thee Republicanism. As an agribusiness kingpin, he's raked in millions in federal farm subsidies. Now it turns out that he also received a state grant just last year - and may have even violated the terms of that grant by selling the equipment it helped him buy too quickly.
TX-17: It looks like Bill Flores is going to win the Tommy Thompson Award for Crazy Beliefs Blamed on Bodily Functions. You may recall that Thompson (by far my favorite Republican candidate to run in the last GOP presidential primary) claimed that a full bladder caused him to say he favored allowing employers to fire gay employees during a debate in 2007. Now Flores wants backsies for telling an interviewer that he was not opposed to raising the Social Security retirement age... because he had a headache.
DCCC/NRCC: CQ says that so far, the NRCC has spent $31 million on independent expenditures this cycle, while the D-Trip has spent $22 mil.
Senate: Politico has a roundup of senate fundraising numbers.
PA-Sen: It's been a while, but at long last, we finally have another poop-themed ad, thanks to Joe Sestak
KY-Sen: I worship you, Aqua Buddha! (Apparently this ad has turned Rand Paul into a WATB)
GA-Gov: Roy Barnes hits Nathan Deal for once having tried to weaken the state's rape shield law; the RGA uses a clip of Roy Barnes dismissing the deaths of two children in state custody: "Out of 20,000 children, you're going to have children die every day."
NY-Gov: Andrew Cuomo whacks Carl Paladino on abortion rights
CA-03: Karl Rove's American Crossroads attacks Ami Bera for supporting "Obamacare"
CA-20: The DCCC says Republican Andy Vidak wants to cut federal funding for water projects (apparently a big issue in this district)
NY-04: Carolyn McCarthy's first spot of the cycle touts her focus on job creation
OH-02: Dem Surya Yalamanchili says his ad cost him only $20 to make
TX-27: In a much-less-good-than-it-could-have-been ad, Rep. Solomon Ortiz features that goofy photo of Blake Farenthold in his pajamas with a scantily clad woman
VA-01: Dem Krystal Ball introduces herself with her first ad
• AK-Sen: The story of how his employment with the city of Fairbanks ended is one of the key reasons why Joe Miller suddenly clammed up and said he wouldn't answer questions about his personal background anymore. Now the city's former mayor, Jim Whitaker, is offering his version of the story, saying Miller is "not truthful" about it. Whitaker says Miller's use of borough resources for political purposes (namely, for gaming an online vote for state party chair in a Sarah Palin-orchestrated party coup) was a violation of borough ethics policy and it would have been a cause for termination if they hadn't been so understaffed. Miller eventually resigned in 2009 anyway, partly because his request to go elk hunting got denied.
• FL-Sen: There are so many Kennedys I really can't keep track which one is allied with who, but any time one leaves the reservation it's interesting. Robert Kennedy Jr. announced that he's backing Charlie Crist for Senate, saying that Kendrick Meek can't win and the most important thing is blocking Marco Rubio. Meanwhile, with the current race not looking very interesting anymore, PPP has its eye on 2012 (which seems like it could be close, especially if Jeb Bush gets involved). They ran two other hypotheticals, one not very likely: Bill Nelson beats Rush Limbaugh 50-36 (if Limbaugh for whatever reason decided to take the huge pay cut). More plausibly, he also beats Rep. Connie Mack IV by 42-33.
• LA-Sen: Charlie Melancon is out with an internal poll from Anzalone-Liszt. Public pollsters have generally seen this as a double-digit race, but his poll, taken over Oct. 9-12, gives David Vitter a not-overwhelming 49-42 lead. The campaign says that's a major improvement (no specific numbers, though) over their September poll.
• FL-Gov: The Florida Education Association (obviously a Democratic-leaning organization) polled the gubernatorial race, and found numbers very close to PPP's results yesterday. The poll from Tom Eldon, taken Oct. 9-12, gives Alex Sink a 47-41 lead over Rick Scott. Scott's faves are down to 33/50.
• IL-Gov: This is quite the screwup: Green candidate Rich Whitney's name will appear as "Rich Whitey" on electronic voting machines in nearly two dozen wards in Chicago (half of which are predominantly African-American). And that leads inevitably to the question (to quote the Illinois Nazi Party): "Well, what are you going to do about it, Whitey?" Apparently, he can't do much, as there isn't adequate time left to reprogram and test the machines, although he's looking into various legal options.
• AZ-07: I don't know if there's any hard evidence other than a Magellan poll and a McClung internal to prove there's a real race here, but judging by efforts by some organizations on both sides, something's going on. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee had members make 21,000 phone calls to the district to shore up Raul Grijalva, while Americans for Tax Reform is going to spend $230K on advertising in the district, hitting Grijalva with an ad for encouraging a boycott of his state in the wake of SB 1070.
• CA-44: Like CA-03, this is one offense opportunity in California that still seems to be alive and kicking. The Bill Hedrick campaign, short on cash but facing an underwhelming opponent that he nearly knocked off last time, is out with a Zata|3 internal poll showing Hedrick trailing GOP incumbent Ken Calvert by only a 48-43 margin (improved a 49-38 showing in September).
• GA-08: He made it implicit with his most recent ad (distancing himself from Nancy Pelosi, even going so far as to show 60s-era San Francisco hippies), but Jim Marshall is now explicitly joining Bobby Bright in the camp of incumbents saying they won't support Pelosi for Speaker in the next Congress (if they're there for it).
• IA-03: I didn't think I'd be saying this a few months ago, but Leonard Boswell is starting to look like he's in healthy shape for the election, thanks in large part of a variety of damaging details about Brad Zaun that went public. Boswell leads Zaun 47-38 in an internal from his campaign, taken Oct. 3-5 by Anzalone-Liszt.
• IL-10: Bob Dold sure can rake in the fundraising dollars, even if Bob Dold can't seem to come up with a lead in the polls, in what's looking like one of the Dems' few pickups this cycle. Bob Dold raised $843K in the third quarter and is sitting on $979K CoH, enough to start running two broadcast ads this week, while Bob Dold's opponent Dan Seals has yet to release any numbers. Bob Dold!
• MD-01, VA-02, VA-05: Another testament to the unpredictability of elections: even a few months ago, who'd have thought, that at this point, the DCCC would have cut loose Debbie Halvorson and Steve Kagen, but would be keeping on pumping money into the races of Frank Kratovil and Tom Perriello? Those two, along with Glenn Nye, are among the survivors of the triage process and will receive continued ad buys.
• NH-02: This race is also turning out to be close, and this can't help Charlie Bass this close to the election: questions are emerging about a stock buy (in New England Wood Pellet, his nephew-in-law's company) that he made while in Congress the previous time. He then set up a meeting between company officials and Bush administration officials, which is a potential House ethics violation.
• OH-01: Credit Steve Driehaus for having some fire in the belly. After having gotten thrown onto the bring-out-your-dead cart by the DCCC, instead of just shrugging and starting to look for a lobbying job, he's doubling down on his fundraising efforts, using it as an incentive to ask for more from his supporters. In particular, he's pissed that the DCCC let him go even while giving money to various Reps. who voted "no" on health care reform.
• OR-04: Well, here's one more race to add to the watch list. Peter DeFazio hasn't faced credible opposition in... well, ever. And he's still not facing credible opposition this year (Art Robinson is kind of a clown; his main action item seems to be the elimination of public schooling, which would kind of help him out considerably, since his day job is selling curriculum supplies for home schoolers). Nevertheless, the mysterious group Concerned Taxpayers (who've also made a six-digit ad buy against DeFazio) is out with an internal poll from Oct. 4-5 from Wilson Research showing a single-digit race, with DeFazio leading Robinson 48-42. (MoE is a hefty 5.6%.)
• PA-10: Chris Carney is on the wrong end of a Critical Insights poll of his district (which will be in our Poll Roundup later), but he's already getting out in front of it with an internal poll. The Oct. 12-13 poll from Momentum Analysis has Carney leading Tom Marino 48-41. With both candidates able to point to leads not just in internal polls but public polls too, this is quite definitely a "Tossup."
• TN-08: Whew! One last internal. Not much surprise here... GOPer Stephen Fincher has an internal out giving him a double-digit lead in the open seat race against Roy Herron, very similar to yesterday's 47-37 Penn/Hill poll. The Tarrance Group poll from Oct. 11-12 gives Fincher a 47-36 lead (with 3 to indie Donn James).
• FL-AG: This is one of the higher-profile downballot races around, and it gets a fair amount of polling attention too. This time, it's Susquehanna's turn (on behalf of Sunshine State News), and they give a lead to Republican Hillsborough Co. Prosecutor Pam Bondi, who leads state Sen. Dan Gelber 50-42.
• Money: Zata|3 is out with more of their super-helpful charts on the behind-the-scenes money game, which is where the Republicans are really winning this cycle, even more so than the polls. Compared with 2008, spending on Senate races (from both sides) has nearly doubled, and it's up more than 50% on House races. And Republican groups are leading the way: the top 5, and 8 of the top 10, outside groups, spending-wise are GOP-leaning. That starts with the cash-flush RGA ($12 mil so far), followed by the Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads.
• Polltopia: You may have already seen the new Pew study on cellphone use, but it's a real eye-opener, one that should cast some measure of doubt on the accuracy of current polls or even the whole sense that polls can tell us anything. Pew, which in 2008 found a certain amount of pro-Republican bias in polls because of the exclusion of cellphone-only users, is out with a new round of polling showing that bias has only increased. At this point, nearly 25% of adults are "cell-only." Pew finds a 5-point Republican increase would have occurred in their most recent generic ballot test if they hadn't polled cellphones.
Also, on the polling front, Daily Kos is taking a page from PPP and asking where readers what gubernatorial and House race they'd like to see polled in the coming weeks.
• SSP TV:
• AK-Sen: This is actually kind of funny: Joe Miller spoofs Old Spice ads in an attempt to get voters to not write in Lisa Murkowski
• CO-Sen: Ken Buck's out with a base-rallying ad using speech footage of him getting teabaggers fired up about how they got ignored for the last two years and are now out for blood; the NRSC is also on the air, hitting Michael Bennet over his support for the stimulus
• MO-Sen: Robin Carnahan's new TV spot pushes back against various Roy Blunt negative ads, especially on the subject of an extended family member's wind farm
• PA-Sen: This may be an interesting tea leaf that those Dem internals yesterday may be showing some actual tightening: the NRSC, after letting surrogate orgs do all the work here, is finally having to step in with its own IE ad (a basic HCR/stimulus/cap-and-trade troika)
• WV-Sen: The DSCC goes after John Raese again over the minimum wage
• CA-Gov: What is this, the 80s? Meg Whitman's new ad hits Jerry Brown for being soft on crime
• TX-Gov: Bill White's newest ad goes after Rick Perry's seeming habit of steering state contracts to cronies
• AK-Sen: Scott McAdams (D) 27%, Joe Miller (R) 35%, Lisa Murkowski (WI-inc) 34%
• CA-Sen: Barbara Boxer (D-inc) 49%, Carly Fiorina (R) 46%
• IL-Gov: Pat Quinn (D-inc) 40%, Bill Brady (R) 46%, Scott Lee Cohen (I) 4%, Rich Whitney (G) 2%
• NC-Sen: Elaine Marshall (D) 38%, Richard Burr (R-inc) 52%
• PA-Sen: Joe Sestak (D) 39%, Pat Toomey (R) 49%
• WI-Gov: Tom Barrett (D) 42%, Scott Walker (R) 51%
AK-Sen: Scott McAdams reports raising $650K since the August primary, saying over half his donations came from Alaskans and some 90% were $200 or less. The DSCC also finally registered its first public interest in the race, sending McAdams a $42,000 contribution, the maximum allowable direct donation. McAdams described this as the DS's "first" check to him, suggesting more help might be on the way - but bear in mind that $42K was exactly what the NRSC gave Christine O'Donnell.
IN-Sen: Aaron Blake tweets that the DSCC appears to be up on the air with a "small ad buy... in the South Bend market." SSP hoosiers in that corner of the state, let us know if you see anything.
NV-Sen: Jon Ralston obtained a 38-minute tape of an apparently private meeting between Sharron Angle and Tea Party candidate Scott Ashjian, wherein Angle (among other things) pleads with Ashjian to drop out lest he cost her the election. Ralston has links to the full audio, and also posts some transcribed excerpts. The question remains: Why the hell did Angle tape this meeting - and how did it get released publicly?
AL-Gov: Robert Bentley, the GOP gubernatorial nominee, just told Mitt Romney to take a hike. Romney endorsed a bunch of Alabama Republicans (obviously as part of his pre-campaign ass-kissing), but Bentley declined the singular honor. Not surprised, given that you can find something about Willard Mitt which probably makes his backing unwelcome in every state in the union.
SC-Gov (PDF): So there's a poll out by a firm I've never heard of, Cranston & Associates, purporting to show Republican Nikki Haley up just 45-41 over Dem Vincent Sheheen. There are more than a few problem with this poll, though - click a link and check out the responses to their questions. It's apparently an RV poll, but 100% of respondents say they're going to vote. The male-female split is twice what it was in 2008, and the African American percentage is equal to 2008. In other words, this sample is waaay too friendly.
CA-03: I can't summarize this charming bit of hypocrisy better than Torey Van Oot of the Sacramento Bee, whose lede reads: "Rep. Dan Lungren likened the federal stimulus plan to a "spending spree which will add to a growing mountain of debt," but he helped secure $30 million from the program for a local company whose leaders later contributed to his campaign." Click the link for the full details.
CA-47: Clinton Alert! The Big Dog is coming to do a rally for Loretta Sanchez (a Hillary supporter, natch) on Oct. 15th. Recall that Joe Biden was in town last month to support Sanchez, who needs all the help she can get these days. After telling a radio host that "The Vietnamese and the Republicans are, with an intensity, (trying) to take this seat" and that her opponent Van Tran is "is very anti-immigrant and very anti-Hispanic," Sanchez came under intense fire and offered a bullshit "I'm sorry if you misunderstood me" non-apology. This one is not going well.
DE-AL: Republican Glen Urquhart is touting a Wilson Research Strategies poll (n=300) which supposedly has him just three points back of Dem John Carney, 45-42.
MA-04: Republican newcomer Sean Bielat, running against Rep. Barney Frank, says he raised $400K in September alone (and has the same amount on hand), after raising just $230K through August 25th. Frank has $1 million on hand. Even though Obama, Kerry, and Gore all won about 65% here, Scott Brown narrowly won this district, 50-49.
MN-06: Jebus - Michele Bachmann says she raised over $3.4 million in the third quarter alone. $3.4 million would be a lot for an entire cycle, let alone just one quarter. Put another way: That's probably 3 to 4 times what Lee Fisher raised last quarter.
PA-10: Given that things like "competence" and "judgment" were not on the list of criteria Karl Rove used when hiring US Attorneys, it's no surprise to hear that another legal impropriety has cropped up in connection with Tom Marino. During his days as Lycoming County D.A., Marino sought to get a friend's drug conviction expunged - and when one local judge refused to do so, he asked another, who granted the expungement, but then reversed himself upon learning what happened with the first judge. Pretty scuzzy - and why was Marino, who seems to have a history of wanting to do favors for unsavory characters, even seeking the expungement in the first place? The Luzerne County Citizens' Voice also tantalizes us with some other unexplored alleged Marino misbehavior "including claims he hired law enforcement colleagues to serve as an "entourage" and would go days at a time without going to the office."
Meanwhile, the Allentown Morning Call confirms what I've always assumed to be the case, that Marino resigned as US Attorney while he was under investigation in the Louis DeNaples matter (see PA-10 tags), which had the effect of halting the inquiry. Reminds me of Nathan Deal bailing on Congress to stop his ethics investigation.
TN-08: Uh-oh - time to get Steve Fincher on "Better Know a District." The Republican agribusiness kingpin didn't realize that the 8th CD includes parts of a small little town you might have heard of once... you know, Memphis, Tennessee. While declaring his ignorance, Fincher also informed the public that he wouldn't debate his opponent, Dem Roy Herron, nor would he release his tax returns (Herron has). Herron's also raised some questions about Fincher's personal financial disclosures, noting that they include zero liabilities - even though Fincher obtained a $250K bank loan that he in turn loaned to his campaign.
AL-02: Bobby Bright runs through a litany of numbers which he says define him - including voting with John Boehner 80% of the time
AZ-03: In his first ad, Dem John Hulburd strikes out at Ben Quayle for his fucked-up moral compass
IA-01: Republican Ben Lange has his first ad up, a biographical spot
LA-02: Cedric Richmond features President Obama speaking directly to the camera (and making lots of hand gestures that look like someone speaking very broken sign language)
NRCC: $5.3 million worth of NRCC spending on too many races to count
SC-05: "Citizens for a Working America" spends $250K against Dem Rep. John Spratt
• AK-Sen: Joe Miller finally fessed up to what we told you about last week (concerning farmland he owned in Alaska): he's a hypocrite on the farm subsidy issue, having gladly accepted them while railing against them. This time, it's about a different parcel of farmland in Kansas that he owned before moving to Alaska, receiving $7K in GOVERNMENT HANDOUTS FOR LAZY UNPRODUCTIVE PEOPLE WHO'VE MADE BAD LIFESTYLE CHOICES!!!1! between the years 1990 and 1997. And check out the excuse he offers: "This was back in the '90s, the situation the country was in was far different than now." (Uh huh... when some guy named Bill Clinton was running a surplus.)
• DE-Sen: Whoops. Prior to getting their establishment asses handed them to them on the end of a mob-wielded pitchfork, the Delaware state GOP filed a FEC complaint against Christine O'Donnell for illegal campaign coordination with and excessive contributions from the Tea Party Express. Now that they're saddled with her as the nominee, the FEC is telling them no-backsies, and that they can't withdraw the complaint... the complaint against their own nominee.
• NC-Sen: And now it's Richard Burr's turn in the hypocrisy dunk tank. An announcement of 240 new jobs and a $130 million expansion at Cree Inc. in Durham is drawing four major Democrats and Richard Burr to celebrate. Burr, unlike the Democrats, though, did not support the stimulus package that, y'know, was behind that expansion.
• NV-Sen: John Ensign may not even survive till the general election in 2012, if Jon Ralston's tweet is to be believed. John Chachas, the little-known self-funder who barely made a ripple in the overcrowded 2010 GOP Senate field but who seems likely to do better in a one-on-one, is saying he may run against Ensign in two years.
Michael Thurmond (D): 33
Johnny Isakson (R-inc): 52
While this isn't as nice as the InsiderAdvantage poll showing the race tied in the wake of disclosures about Nathan Deal's financial disarray, Mason-Dixon does show a close race. This appears to be their first poll of the Barnes/Deal matchup, so there's no sense of whether things have tightened.
• RI-Gov: Faced with the choice between a labor-friendly indie candidate and a Democrat whom they endorsed for state Treasurer four years ago, the AFL-CIO finally decided to punt, and endorse neither Lincoln Chafee nor Frank Caprio, remaining neutral. Recall that Chafee got SEIU and nurses' union backing yesterday.
• AZ-05: There's a new internal out in the rematch in Arizona's 5th that founds its way across someone's desk at the Hill. It's from Democratic pollster Harstad Strategic Research and is apparently on behalf of the Harry Mitchell campaign, giving Mitchell a narrow lead over David Schweikert, 45-44 with 6 to the Libertarian candidate. That's kind of pushing the limits on when it's a good idea to release an internal, but with Schweikert having claimed an 8-point lead in his own internal and the DCCC's ambiguous pull-out announcement about this district triggering some alarms, Mitchell seemed to need to show he's still right in the thick of things.
UPDATE: The Mitchell campaign writes in to clarify that this isn't their internal poll (which the Hill had originally reported, then apparently deleted), but rather is on behalf of Project New West. Mitchell's up 51-29 among independents, which helps him prevail even in a sample that's slightly GOP-skewed (46% GOP, 30% Dem) You can see the polling memo here.
• LA-02: Anzalone-Liszt for Cedric Richmond (9/12-15, likely voters, no trendlines):
Cedric Richmond (D): 45
Joe Cao (R): 35
Here's the antidote to that bizarre Joe Cao internal from a few months back, that gave him a 25-point lead over Cedric Richmond. Even this Richmond internal, which has him up by 10, indicates that this isn't going to be a total cakewalk for the Dems, though; with only 35%, Cao is still way overperforming the GOP baseline in this district that went for Barack Obama with 75% of the vote in 2008.
• MN-01: Tim Walz picked up an endorsement from an unexpected corner yesterday. He got the backing of former Republican Senator David Durenberger, who support Walz's stance on "uniting people" but also his support for health care reform. (Durenberger is also supporting IP candidate Tom Horner in the governor's race.)
• PA-15: Muhlenberg College for the Allentown Morning Call (9-11/16, likely voters, 4/19-27 in parentheses):
John Callahan (D): 38 (33)
Charlie Dent (R-inc): 49 (45)
Jake Towne (I): 3 (?)
Undecided: 10 (22)
John Callahan's one of the best Dem challengers to a GOP incumbent this cycle, but he's got a lot of work ahead of him to make up that last 12 points against Charlie Dent.
• NRSC: Here's an interesting Roll Call dispatch from the front lines in the war between the NRSC and the Army of One known as Jim DeMint. DeMint is apparently dissatisfied with current NRSC allocations, and is moving money from his own personal stash to bolster Sharron Angle in Nevada ($156K) and Ken Buck in Colorado ($250K). The NRSC has reserved $3.2 million for Buck in TV time, more than any other candidate, so his concerns about Colorado may be misplaced.
• SSP TV:
• IL-Sen: The DSCC hits Mark Kirk for voting against unemployment extensions and minimum wage raises
• MO-Sen: Roy Blunt disappears down the meta rabbithole, with an attack ad about Robin Carnahan's attack ads
• NV-Sen: Can we just have Harry Reid handle the advertising for all our candidates? He turns up the heat even higher on Sharron Angle, saying she wants to privatize the VA and "end our promise to our veterans"
• IA-Gov: Two separate ads for Chet Culver, one featuring endorsements from his immediate family members, the other making the case that "hey, Iowa's not that bad off compared to all those other states"
• NM-Gov: Susana Martinez's ad is a positive bio spot recounting her early prosecuting days
• SC-Gov: Vince Sheheen's TV ad features a litany of reasons to be suspicious of Nikki Haley, recited by various average folks
• OH-16: The DCCC's newest spot is a tax-time two-fer, hitting Jim Renacci on supporting the 23% "fair tax" and on his own pile of back taxes owed
• OR-05: Kurt Schrader's newest is a testimonial from a thankful veteran
• TN-08: Roy Herron's newest ad hits Stephen Fincher mostly on his various campaign finance discrepancies of misfilings and mysterious loans
• WI-07: Julie Lassa's newest ad features criticism from a Sean Duffy underling from the DA's office in Ashland County, focusing on his neglect of that stepping-stone job
• AK-Sen: Scott McAdams (D) 25%, Joe Miller (R) 42%, Lisa Murkowski (W-I-inc) 27%
• CA-Sen: Barbara Boxer (D-inc) 47%, Carly Fiorina (R) 43%
• NY-Sen-B: Kirsten Gillibrand (D-inc) 49%, Joe DioGuardi (R) 39%
• RI-Gov: Frank Caprio (D) 30%, John Robitaille (R) 23%, Lincoln Chafee (I) 33%
• Rasmussen (appearing as Fox/Pulse):
• CA-Gov: Jerry Brown (D) 45%, Meg Whitman (R) 45%
• CA-Sen: Barbara Boxer (D-inc) 47%, Carly Fiorina (R) 46%
• DE-Sen: Chris Coons (D) 54%, Christine O'Donnell (R) 39%
• NV-Sen: Harry Reid (D-inc) 45%, Sharron Angle (R) 46%
• OH-Gov: Ted Strickland (D-inc) 41%, John Kasich (R) 47%
• OH-Sen: Lee Fisher (D) 36%, Rob Portman (R) 49%
• PA-Gov: Dan Onorato (D) 39%, Tom Corbett (R) 49%
• PA-Sen: Joe Sestak (D) 40%, Pat Toomey (R) 48%
• LA-Sen: That ginned-up internal poll that Chet Traylor released a few days ago (showing him within 12 of David Vitter) seems to have served its intended purpose, for what its worth: the contributions have started coming in at a much greater pace over the last few days. He pulled in $30K in three days, almost doubling up on the $42K he raised over the previous duration of his campaign (and most of which he blew on his new anti-Vitter radio ad). And this can't please Vitter, either: a local paper is reporting to Vitter's troublesome ex-aide, Brent Furer, traveled back from DC to Louisiana several times on the public's dime, at points that just happened to coincide with his various trials on charges of drunk driving.
• NV-Sen: Sharron Angle seems to be wandering all over the map in search of a position on Social Security privatization, one that's extreme enough to satisfy her teabagging core supporters but not so extreme that it scares off, y'know, old people. She's removed the words "transitioned out" from her website (regarding Social Security) but, when pushed yesterday, said that she hasn't changed her view that that's how she feels about it (despite running ads claiming that she wants to "save" Social Security).
• PA-Sen: Joe Sestak, meet Raul Labrador? As you probably know, there's a common-sense rule of thumb that you don't release your internal polls unless they show you, y'know, ahead of your opponent. Nevertheless, somebody (unclear whether it was the DSCC or the Sestak camp) leaked NBC a Peter Yang internal of the race giving Pat Toomey a 2-point lead over Sestak, 46-44. Obviously, that's not designed to create a sense of Sestak's inevitable victory as most internals are designed to do, but it's pushback against this week's PPP poll, where the switch to LVs hurt Sestak's numbers, probably oriented toward letting contributors know that this race is still in play. The DSCC has also been nailing Toomey on the rather arcane issue of derivatives, which had a key role in inflating the asset bubble that popped and left all our faces covered in pink sticky goo in 2008. Somehow I doubt more than 1% of the nation can offer a cogent explanation of what derivatives (especially credit default swaps) do, but at any rate, they've tracked down three separate times when Toomey as Congressman, on the House floor, praised the use of derivatives, something he's lately tried to distance himself from.
• WA-Sen: We're up to 67% reporting in Washington, with the numbers not really having budged from Tuesday night (still 46 Patty Murray, 34 Dino Rossi, 12 Clint Didier), but more than three-quarters of the remaining precincts are in the Dem-friendly King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties, so look for some future budging. Meanwhile, here's a comparison that only true politics junkies will get... remember Fred Heineman? (The one-term Republican House member from NC-04 swept in in 1994, who then said that his $183,000 salary made him "lower-middle-class" and that the middle class extended up to $750K, and promptly got swept out in 1996.) Dino Rossi has apparently decided that he should be Washington's answer to Heineman, as he essentially said that one-third of Washingtonians make over $200K per year. More specifically, he said 2.5 million Washingtonians would benefit from keeping the Bush-era tax cuts for those making more than $200K/yr. (In reality, 105K households, or 1.6% of the state's population, fit that profile.)
• CA-Gov: Here's an iceberg in the way for the serene cruise of the Queen Meg: activists at a convention of state conservatives this weekend plan a rude welcome for her. They plan to lambaste her on her non-extreme positions on an Arizona-style immigration law in California, and her support for greenhouse gas-limiting Proposition 19 23. Also, here's some quantitative evidence for something that I've long suspected: Whitman has so oversaturated the airwaves with advertising that it went well past the point of having its desired effect and is now just getting people pissed off at her. A Jerry Brown staffer leaked that nugget from internal polling, finding that her own advertising has helped Whitman with 8% of voters and hurt her with 27% of voters.
• IA-03: Hot on the heels of the David Rivera story in FL-25, here's another uncomfortable blast from the past for another Republican House candidate: records reveal that Brad Zaun, the GOP's nominee against Leonard Boswell, had to be told by West Des Moines police to stay away from his ex-girlfriend after a late night visit to her house to pound on her windows and call her names.
• MO-03, MO-04: Odd little pollster We Ask America seems to be entering another period of being prolific, as now they're out with a couple House polls from the underserved state of Missouri. They find Russ Carnahan fairly comfortable against Republican challenger Ed Martin in the 3rd, leading 48-39, but find veteran Dem Ike Skelton in a tighter race in the 4th, leading Vicky Hartzler 45-42. Skelton still draws the support of 27% of Republicans and 37% of indies, crucial to surviving this dark-red district.
• CfG: The Club for Growth is starting to switch gears from primaries (where they seem to have had a more productive run this year than in previous cyles) to the general. They've endorsed four Republican challengers who all cleared the primary bar: Stephen Fincher in TN-08, Todd Young in IN-09, Mick Mulvaney in SC-05, and Tim Griffin in AR-02.
• Ads: The most attention-grabbing ad today seems to be from Indiana Dem Joe Donnelly, who already tried to distanced himself from "the Washington crowd" in his previous ad. Now he's basically thrown in the towel on trying to fight the messaging war and just start running with Republican memes, touting his opposition in his newest ad to "Nancy Pelosi's energy tax." Other ads worth checking out today include an RGA ad for Duke Aiona in HI-Gov, a Joyce Elliott ad in AR-02, a Michelle Rollins spot in DE-AL, and a Mike McIntyre ad in NC-07.
• AK-Sen: Joe Miller has two things going for him in the Alaska GOP Senate primary: the endorsements of Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee. On the other hand, Lisa Murkowski has the backing of about 1.9 million dead presidents behind her. That's her cash on hand, based on $300K raised in July and early August. Miller raised only $68K in that span and now has $84K CoH.
• KS-Sen, KS-Gov: SurveyUSA, no stranger to Republican-friendly samples lately, comes up with quite the GOP wipeout in Kansas. They find Republican Rep. Jerry Moran leading Lisa Johnston in the Senate race, 69-23, and find Sam Brownback leading state Sen. Tom Holland in the gubernatorial race, 67-25. They even find several Dem incumbents losing to GOP challengers in downballot races. It may be worth, noting, however, the disparity in self-described ideology between this sample and the 2008 exit polls: this poll is 49 conservative, 37 moderate, 9 liberal, compared with 2008's 45 moderate, 38 conservative, 16 liberal.
• NV-Sen: With her endorsement percentage starting to trend steeply downward (with last night's losses by Rita Meyer and Clint Didier), Sarah Palin's trying out a new angle, literally. She's backing Sharron Angle in Nevada, saying she'll "actively help" her and that Angle "is putting up with more crap than she deserves." Palin avoided getting involved in the primary, probably in large part because of other family members' support for Danny Tarkanian.
• NY-Sen-B, NY-Gov (pdf): Siena's out with another look at the big-ticket races in New York, finding the same-old same-old. Kirsten Gillibrand leads Bruce Blakeman 55-28, Joe DioGuardi 54-29, and David Malpass 55-27. DioGuardi is on track to win the GOP Senate primary, leading Blakeman and Malpass 19-8-5. And Andrew Cuomo is even more dominant, leading Rick Lazio 60-26 and Carl Paladino 60-27. Lazio leads Paladino 43-30 in the GOP primary, much closer than previous months. Further down the ballot, they find incumbent Dem comptroller Tom DiNapoli leading Harry Wilson 46-28, and Dems leading a generic ballot-type question about the state legislature, 33-27.
• CO-Gov: Dan Maes picked his running mate: former state Rep. and former Dept. of Regulatory Agencies head Tambor Williams. Williams seems to actually be something of a moderate by today's GOP standards, which is an interesting act of ticket-balancing by the wackadoodle Maes (although you have to wonder how "moderate" someone willing to be joined at the hip to Maes can be). Meanwhile, Tom Tancredo is focusing most of his fire on Maes, not on John Hickenlooper, attacking Maes', well, utter lack of qualifications. Tancredo seems to realize that the only path to viability in this election as an indie is reducing Maes to the Alan Schlesinger-style single-digits role. And guess who's throwing up their hands and walking away? The RGA, which according to several local Republicans, has confirmed it won't be spending money in Colorado.
• ID-Gov, ID-01: We've gotten an inkling that the Idaho gubernatorial race (where GOP incumbent Butch Otter was elected with lackluster numbers in 2006) was possibly a real race, and these poll numbers seem to confirm it. I don't know whether to call this a Republican poll (it's taken by a local pollster who usually works for Republicans, Greg Strimple, on behalf of the Idaho Hospital Association) or an independent one, but either way, it's not good news for the GOP. Otter leads Dem Keith Allred by only 47-36. Also good news: that Raul Labrador internal poll that had him losing by double digits was actually pretty optimistic, on his part. This sample sees Dem Walt Minnick beating Labrador by a startling 52-29 margin. Maybe all that chatter about the NRCC moving to write off this seat has some real roots.
• VT-Gov: Lone Republican Brian Dubie is the fundraising leader in the decidedly small-dollar gubernatorial race in Vermont. Dubie has raised the most over the course of the campaign (slightly more than $1 million). (Maybe if Meg Whitman can't win in California, she should consider moving to Vermont and buying the gubernatorial race here. In fact, maybe she should just consider buying the entire state of Vermont, which would still be cheaper than buying the gubernatorial race in California.) The Dems are all closely bunched, with Peter Shumlin and Deb Markowitz more or less tied for most raised. But all five major Dems are low on cash, each reporting less than $100K CoH (Matt Dunne has the most, at $83K). For some reason, the article doesn't tell us Dubie's CoH.
• GA-08: GOP state Rep. Austin Scott (following hot on the heels of fellow legislator and GA-02 candidate Mike Keown's internal poll release) is out with an internal showing a competitive race against Rep. Jim Marshall. Marshall leads Scott 44-39 in the poll conducted in late July by American Viewpoint.
• MI-01: This has the potential to mightily reshuffle things in the open seat race in the 1st... or it could turn out to be so much wind in sails, as promises of massive self-funding usually are. Random teabagger and indie candidate Glenn Wilson is promising to spend $2 million of his own money in order to defeat Gary McDowell and Dan Benishek, the Dem and GOP nominees. In this rural seat with dirt-cheap media markets, that could go a long way toward blanketing the airwaves... but without the organizational backing that the party apparatuses provide, that seems like it still might not translate into actual votes.
• TN-08: Humble farmer/gospel singer and, in his spare time, director of Fight Club, Stephen Fincher is out with an internal poll from the Tarrance Group that gives him a lead over Democratic state Sen. Roy Herron in this open seat race. He claims a 47-37 lead, with conservative indie Donn James at 5, in a poll taken immediately post-primary. Herron, who avoided much trouble in the primary and was able to bank a lot of money, is already hitting Fincher with TV ads, though.
• RGA: One nice thing about the post-Citizens United universe is that it lets us see everything in the open that we've only just suspected in the past. Case in point: Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (the Fox News and WSJ parent corporation) just gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association. Insert obvious snarky comment about "Fair and Balanced" here.
• KY-Sen: Jack Conway (D) 40%, Rand Paul (R) 49%
• NV-Sen: Harry Reid (D-inc) 47%, Sharron Angle (R) 47%
• OH-Gov: Ted Strickland (D-inc) 40%, John Kasich (R) 48%
• PA-Gov: Dan Onorato (D) 38%, Tom Corbett (R) 48%
The main event of last night was the Republican gubernatorial primary, which ended surprisingly quickly, with a convincing victory by Knoxville mayor Bill Haslam. Haslam, the ostensible 'moderate' in the race, benefited from not only his lots of his own money, but also from having the moderate side to himself and a conservative pile-up in opposition (and the fact that Tennessee has no runoffs). He defeated Rep. Zach Wamp and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey 47-29-22. (In one more parallel to the Michigan governor primary, Wamp, who said in his concession speech that "The best candidate doesn't always win," can now compete with Rep. Peter Hoekstra as to which one can be the douchiest loser.) Haslam is certainly favored against Dem Mike McWherter in November.
In the House races, there were extremely close GOP primaries in the TN-03 and TN-06 open seats In the 3rd, the somewhat less objectionable Chuck Fleischmann beat former state party chair Robin Smith 30-28. In the 6th, Diane Black won with 31, over fellow state Sen. Jim Tracy and crazed Islamophobe Lou Ann Zelenik (with both at 30). Black faces Dem Brett Carter, who won a similarly close race.
Two other GOP primaries were less close. In TN-08, for the right to face Roy Herron to succeed retiring John Tanner, Stephen Fincher won a surprisingly convincing victory over two self-funders, Ron Kirkland and George Flinn, 48-24-24. And in potential sleeper race TN-04, to face Lincoln Davis, Scott DesJarlais beat Jack Bailey 37-27.
The very last race card may have been played in TN-09. In the third straight slime-covered Dem primary here that was all about race, embarrassing former Memphis mayor Willie Herenton came up woefully short in his quest (predicated almost entirely on Herenton being black and Cohen being white, in a black-majority district) to unseat Rep. Steve Cohen, by a 79-21 margin. Somehow I don't think this'll be the last primary Cohen ever sees, but hopefully they'll be about something other than race in the future.
Finally, the 15 minutes of fame for Basil Marceaux -- whose flag has 49 stars because he'll be dead in the cold cold ground before he recognizes Missourah -- seem to be up, as the viral video hero got 0% in the Republican TN-Gov primary and 1% in the TN-03 primary.
• TN-Gov (R): Bill Haslam hopes to bulls-eye a Wamp rat tonight (and Ron Ramsey for good measure). The Knoxville mayor is generally regarded as the frontrunner in the Republican gubernatorial field, in both polling and fundraising (much of which came out of his own pocket). Rep. Zach Wamp and Ramsey (the Lt. Governor) are further back in the polls, and trying to out-conservative each other in their messaging. In fact, this is starting to look like a replay of the Michigan GOP primary earlier this week, with the self-funding 'moderate' (to the extent that Haslam apparently once signed off on a tax increase, and isn't as demagogic as the others) benefiting from a brawl between multiple conservatives.. and also in that while polling has shown Dem nominee Mike McWherter competitive against the conservative candidates, he matches up much less well against Haslam. There's also a wild card in the form of viral video star Basil Marceaux, whose late-surging candidacy may make some inroads among the anti-traffic-stop, pro-immuning crowd. (C)
• TN-03 (R): Like Peter Hoekstra in MI-02, the joy of watching one of the House's most execrable members (Zach Wamp, in this case) give up his seat for a gubernatorial primary faceplant is tempered somewhat by the knowledge that he'll be replaced by someone just as nasty. There are 11 GOPers in this primary, but it's really only a two-person race, between Club for Growth-backed former GOP state party chair Robin Smith and attorney, radio talk show host, and Mike Huckabee ally Chuck Fleischmann. (Smith, you might recall, was the GOP chair during the 2008 campaign, who released the infamous "Anti-Semites for Obama" press release that had him in African tribal garb. (C)
• TN-04 (R): We don't have much intel on the Republican primary here, where the main contestants are attorney Jack Bailey, and physician Scott DesJarlais, but it's worth keeping an eye on, as the victor will go on to face Rep. Lincoln Davis. Davis isn't high on anyone's target list, but in a big enough wave could get swept away just by virtue of his R+13 district. Bailey has a bit of a fundraising edge, probably thanks to connections from his former work as a Hill staffer. (C)
• TN-06 (R): Let the fur fly in this Middle Tennessee district currently held by outgoing Democrat Bart Gordon. The field counts eight Republicans, with three serious contenders in former Rutherford County GOP chair Lou Ann Zelenik, state Senator Jim Tracy from the southern part of the district, and state Senator Diane Black, who represents two northern counties in the district. The mad dash, of course, is for the right, whether its immigration or misuse of government resources. Black released an internal that had her leading at 41% and Zelenik and Tracy mired in the twenties at 22 and 20, respectively. Look for sharp geographic distinctions here tonight, with each candidate having a different base in this rural-exurban district. (JMD)
• TN-08 (R): For the open seat of outgoing Dem John Tanner, five Republicans have jumped into the fray. The three frontrunners -- agribusinessman Steve Fincher, Shelby County Commissioner George Flinn, and doctor Ron Kirkland -- have been busy bashing each other to bits. All sorts of accusations have been thrown around -- Flinn's been attacked for owning a hip-hop station in Memphis, while Fincher's caught flak for voting in the Democratic primary for local offices in May, and Kirkland's on the defensive for steering contributions to Democrats in the past. All three are have significant warchests to play with (Fincher $421k cash-on-hand, Flinn $275k with the ability to self-fund, Kirkland $223k). So who's going to emerge from this bare-knucle brawl? Fincher's the NRCC's preferred candidate, and a recent poll had him leading with 32 to Kirkland's 23 and Flinn's 21. This race is largely in the air (not that presumptive Dem. nominee Roy Herron's complaining), though unfortunately, we'll know the winner of this fight tonight, as Tennessee has no runoffs. (JMD)
• TN-09 (D): Two years ago, Nikki Tinker's campaign against incumbent Dem. Steve Cohen was infuriating; this time, former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton's campaign is just laughable. Whether it's claiming he'll beat Cohen 3:1, losing the CBC's endorsement to Cohen, or having less than 1/47th of Cohen's cash-on-hand, Herenton's campaign really makes you wonder. Let the mockery begin. (JMD)
UPDATE: Polls close at 8 pm ET/7 pm CT (the state is in both time zones, but apparently closing times are coordinated). As always, if you have predictions, let us know in the comments.