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8:53 AM PT: ND-AL: Well, that whack-ass North Dakota poll from the Fargo Forum (via Essman/Research) is proving itself to be even more whack-ass than first thought. If you're just now getting up to speed, uou'll want to check out our critique of the Senate numbers released on Thursday. Suffice it to say that all those criticisms apply to the House portion that just came out on Friday, but the numbers themselves are deeply weird.

The poll has Republican Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer beating Democratic ex-state Rep. Pam Gulleson by a monster 61-23, which is already eyebrow-raising—that kind of blowout seems too extreme. But here's where things really go off the rails: Cramer's GOP primary opponent, fellow PSC commish Brian Kalk, "only" leads Gulleson by a 48-31 margin. How is that even possible? It's not like either man has real name rec (though the poll didn't bother asking)—what normal voter is familiar with members of the PSC? Yet we're to believe that one PSC member has a 38-point lead and the other just 17? And that Cramer has such massive cross-over appeal he knocks Gulleson's share down nine points all on his own? Why would that be? I can't think of any plausible reason.

For what it's worth, Cramer is beating Kalk 38-25 in the GOP primary (with the rest undecided). If Cramer prevails, that would be a big upset, since Kalk is the official Republican nominee (so designated at the party's convention), whereas Cramer is an upstart who insisted on forcing a primary—something that's very uncommon in North Dakota politics. But all of these Essman numbers are suspect, so I wouldn't rely much on anything you see here.

9:10 AM PT: VA-Gov: Democratic state Sen. Chap Petersen, who had offered hints he might make a bid for governor next year for some time, has decided he won't run after all.

9:18 AM PT (James L): TX-23: When piecing together each Daily Digest, we go through a lot of cruft. Here's an example of something that can be filed under "Things we don't waste your time with": The League of Conservation Voters just dropped $12.61 on manhours to pound out a devastating press release tarring ex-Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D) as a friend of big polluters.

On a more serious note, on top of the nearly $100K direct mail campaign against Rodriguez that the LCV announced yesterday, they also filed a $28K expenditure paid to Anzalone-Liszt Research for a poll of the Democratic primary. I doubt its results will ever see the light of day, but know that somewhere, such a poll exists!

9:37 AM PT: SC-07: To go along with their survey of the Republican field, SCNOW.com has a poll of the Democratic primary as well (courtesy Francis Marion University). The state of play is very unsettled, though: They find state Rep. Ted Vick leading with just 15%... and absolute weirdo Gloria Tinubu at 9. Remember, Tunubu is the former Georgia state representative who resigned her post to run for this seat in South Carolina! Meanwhile, attorney Preston Brittain, who raised the most cash in the first quarter of the year, is back at 6, and two other candidates are at 3 apiece. A runoff (which would happen if no one receives 50%) definitely seems possible.

10:24 AM PT: Texas: Pre-primary reports were due at the FEC on Thursday night in Texas, covering all fundraising between April 1 and May 9 of this year. We've rounded them all up at the link, so if you don't see a particular candidate there, it means they screwed up their filing or failed to file at all (something that happens surprisingly often when it comes to pre-primary reports, we've found).

10:41 AM PT: FL-Sen: Pretty amazing: Ex-Rep. Dave Weldon has in fact decided to pursue the GOP nomination for Senate, a move he first publicly mooted just a week ago. Weldon has to be figuring that Republican discontent with frontrunner Connie Mack will translate into support for his bid, though he's in the rather bizarre position of trying to save the GOP from its one-time savior.

But man is he getting in awfully late. He has just three months until the primary, and then should he prevail, it's another three-month sprint to the general election, where he'll face a chortling Sen. Bill Nelson. I have to ask, though: Has anyone who got into a Senate race in May of an election year ever beaten an incumbent? Certainly it has to be a very rare feat at best.

11:24 AM PT: CA-15: Barack Obama's formally endorsed a few House incumbents this cycle, but I think you can say that this is the first race he's gotten involved in that has any controversy surrounding it. It's not too surprising that the POTUS is backing Rep. Pete Stark—after all, he is a sitting congressman—but Stark's unhinged behavior (including accusing his primary opponent, Dublin city councilor Eric Swallwell, of accepting bribes from developers) has upset a lot of local Democrats, who are ready for some fresh blood.

Of course, there's also a question of just how much Obama will do for Stark; so far, all we're talking about is a press release. And notably, the president specifically asks supporters to vote for Stark in the June top-two primary. But Stark and Swalwell will almost certainly face off again in November in what will be the real fight for this seat. So we'll see if Obama is willing to stick his neck out for Stark a second time when autumn comes around.

12:29 PM PT: WA-01: So much for attempts by local Democrats to keep candidates running for the full WA-01 term out of the same-day special election: Darcy Burner just announced that she'd also run in the special, even though it's only for the last two months of ex-Rep. Jay Inslee's unexpired term. It doesn't seem like much of a prize to me, and it also means additional work, since the special will be held under the old district lines, which are considerably different from the new ones, so I'm not sure what's motivating Burner here. I suppose the question now, though, is whether the other big players in the main election also jump over to the special, too.

By the way, here's a comparison of the old and new versions of WA-01. The scale is completely different: The old 1st was a compact district in suburban Seattle. The new edition (in purple, on the right side) is a behemoth that stretches from the Seattle outskirts to the Canadian border. Only about half of the constituents remain the same between the two.

Map comparing newly redistricted version of WA-01 to older version of WA-01
Old WA-01 on left, new WA-01 on right (in purple)

1:02 PM PT: OH-Gov: Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, who's name often comes up when the Great Mentioner wants to discuss potential statewide candidates in Ohio, says he's thinking about running against GOP Gov. John Kasich in 2014, but won't decide until next year. Other prominent Democrats who may get in include ex-Gov. Ted Strickland, ex-state AG Richard Cordray, and Rep. Tim Ryan.

1:08 PM PT (David Jarman): WA-01: This is interesting: if you take a look at the list of filings so far with the Washington Secretary of State, you'll notice that Suzan Del Bene and Laura Ruderman have also signed up for the special election for the one-month fill-in under the old lines. (They just didn't send out a press release about it like Burner.) Since Snohomish Co. Councilor Brian Sullivan (the party's preferred "elder statesman" who was supposed to be the one-month placeholder) is also listed as a candidate, well, we've got a confusing muddle here; maybe Sullivan will wind up withdrawing or just not campaigning much (since it's likely he'd have to give up his county council job for one month in the House, not much of a prize anyway).

On the plus side, though, John Koster hasn't put in his name for the special. (Though he has signed up for the general, and, taking a page from Dino Rossi, is running as "Prefers Gop Party.") And neither (yet) has King County Councilor Kathy Lambert, who was supposed to play the same fill-in role for the GOP that Sullivan was for the Dems. So, unless something happens in the next few hours (seeing as how May 18 is the filing deadline), it looks like the Republicans are just punting on the special election.

1:24 PM PT: NY-13: According to the New York Post, Bill Clinton won't endorse Rep. Charlie Rangel this time around, even though he was a big Rangel backer in 2010. Why? Because Clyde Williams, who is running against Rangel, was an aide in the Clinton administration and also used to work at the Clinton Foundation, so the Big Dog won't take sides this year.

2:03 PM PT: CA-10: This story is mostly a string of anecdotes and lacks any hard data, but the Modesto Bee managed to get a local poli sci prof and a Democratic consultant to both make the case that Chad Condit, son of disgraced former Rep. Gary Condit, could sneak into the November election with a second-place showing in the top-two primary. Unlike his father, who served as a Democrat, the younger Condit is running as an independent and reportedly has been hustling hard on the retail level, to make up for his negligible fundraising (just $17K in the first quarter).

Condit's hoping to face freshman GOPer Jeff Denham in the fall, but first he'd have to get past astronaut Jose Hernandez, a strong Democratic recruit who has raised well. I'm not exactly ready to buy the notion that Condit is capable of pulling this off, but the linked article does raise some red flags about Hernandez's campaign. In particular, Hernandez has reportedly skipped candidate forums, which is pretty remarkable given that challengers almost always want the chance to debate. He also apparently hasn't walked precincts. One Republican consultant, however, suggests that Hernandez would only be taking this approach and "conserving his nickels" if he had polling which showed Condit had no chance. Let's hope that's the case.

2:08 PM PT: FL-18: What a joke: Republican Bob Crowder put out a press release claiming he has an internal poll from Florida Opinion Research showing him beating Democrat Patrick Murphy "by 20 points" in the general election. No other details, not even proper toplines. Oh, and who the hell is Bob Crowder, by the way? He's the Martin County sheriff who is running against Rep. Allen West... from the left. So it's more than telling that he didn't bother providing any numbers from the primary. Like I said, ridiculous.

2:56 PM PT: Media Watch part one:

NC-Gov: The DGA unleashes its first attack ad of the gubernatorial race—a sign that they are most definitely not giving up here. The spot goes after Republican Pat McCrory for accepting $140K from a commercial lender to sit on their board while he was mayor of Charlotte—and then lobbied to give the company tax breaks. Size of the buy: $217K.

SD Mayor: An amusing new "independent" super PAC called "icPurple" is launching an ad on behalf of Republican-turned-indy Nathan Fletcher, featuring a bunch of kids mixing red and blue paint together and turning their treehouse purple. They also say they're endorsing several other independents, including Linda Parks (CA-26), Chad Condit (CA-10), and Angus King (ME-Sen). On their site, they also have identical versions of that ad with those annoying kids with these other candidates' names subbed in, but they apparently aren't on the air, since their independent expenditure report only lists "online video production costs." (Amazingly, it appears they spent almost $100K just to produce this spot!)

And who's behind the group? Like most super PACs, the founders are trying to hide in shadows—there's not a single name listed on the website. But Matt Potter at the San Diego Reader does some good digging and concludes that billionaire Ted Waitt, the founder of one-time computer giant Gateway, appears to be behind the organization.

VT-Gov: Republican State Sen. Randy Brock, facing a very uphill fight against first-term Dem Gov. Peter Shumlin, is out with his first ad, a positive intro spot (he had great parents, created lots of jobs, blah blah etc. etc.).

WI-Gov: The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters tries to break through the usual ad clutter with an exuberant dude in a tie dancing down an office corridor. You see, he's pumped up because he's a big corporate CEO who's psyched about everything Scott Walker's done to make his life so much better, like cut taxes on the wealthy.

AZ-08: It feels like it's 2010 again: Republican Jesse Kelly attacks Ron Barber for supporting cap-and-trade legislation, which of course would spell the end of the world, in the GOP worldview.

3:29 PM PT (James L): Media Watch, part two:

MO-Sen: Majority PAC, the super PAC of choice for Senate Democrats, is putting $228K behind a new ad buy boosting Claire McCaskill. The ad, which can be viewed here, defends McCaskill from the "corporate special interests" who want to "ship our jobs overseas".

MT-Sen: Patriot Majority USA, a Dem-aligned super PAC, is putting $185K behind a new broadcast buy against Republican Denny Rehberg. It doesn't look like Patriot Majority has made this ad available for viewing online yet.

NE-Sen: Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS is out with a new ad that roasts Bob Kerrey for supporting TARP while serving on the board of an insurance company which applied for bailout funds.

TX-Sen: The Texas Conservatives Fund is pumping in another $210K in ad buys against Republican Ted Cruz.

AZ-08: The NRCC has placed another $104K ad buy against Democrat Ron Barber, while the House Majority PAC has matched that amount with a $108K buy of their own. (That buy represents week two of their three week ad campaign which aims to expose Kelly as an anti-Social Security teabagger.)

CA-26: There's a whole lot of money flying around here in support of Democrat Julia Brownley. The House Majority PAC has placed another $54K in pro-Brownley ad buys, while sending out another $22K in direct mail hitting Independent Linda "Rocky Road" Parks. Meanwhile, the California League of Conservation Voters has sent out $92K in direct mail on Brownley's behalf. (The national LCV appears to have indirectly funded this effort with a $100K transfer to their state branch.)

CO-03: A group calling itself the "Clean Water Fund" is up with a $100K ad buy criticizing GOP Rep. Scott Tipton on his votes in favor of tax cuts for oil companies. You can watch the ad at the link. (Maybe it's just me, but I think that the ad takes a little too long to get to its point.)

KY-04: Liberty For All (21 year-old college Republican John Ramsey's super PAC of choice) is changing up its ad rotation, now going negative on Republicans Gary Moore and Alecia Webb-Edgington. The ad hits Moore for using taxpayer dollars to feed himself while in Hawaii, while criticizing Webb-Edgington for missing votes in the state House in order to attend fundraisers in DC. Moore's response made me chuckle:

“A misguided 21-year-old kid drives all the way from Texas and throws half a million dollars to attack Gary Moore for a couple breakfasts and lunch reimbursements. This is not Little Rascals with Alfalfa and Darla chasing around the gang, this is a congressional race,” said Jonathan Duke, Moore’s campaign manager.
Meanwhile, Liberty For All is putting $19K into radio ads boosting their candidate of choice, Thomas Massie, and a new group called the Citizens For a Working America PAC is putting in $53K in direct mail supporting Webb-Edgington.

TX-16: The Campaign For Primary Accountability has upped its ad buy against Dem Rep. Silvestre Reyes by $45K. So far, they've spent $95K on this race.

TX-25: CATPAC has placed another $19K media buy in support of Republican Michael Williams.

Sun May 20, 2012 at 10:10 AM PT (David Jarman): WA-01: One more update on Washington filings: most notably, John Koster did amend his filing so that he's running in the one-month-term special election as well. So, the Republicans aren't punting on it; he doesn't have much of a shot in the special, since it's under the older, much bluer district lines, but it does come with an advantage: now he can raise potentially twice as much money, tapping the same max-out donors twice. (Don't imagine that Burner, Del Bene, et al. didn't have the same thought.)

State Sen. Steve Hobbs is the lone major candidate running for the general who didn't sign up for the special; I don't know if he got caught flat-footed on the deadline or just didn't see enough upside, but either way, he's blasting the other candidates precisely along those campaign finance double-dipping lines. Meanwhile, Snohomish Co. Councilor Brian Sullivan, who originally was going to be the only person running for the special, is now saying he's considering withdrawing (and sent out a press release smacking Burner, who made the first move into the special, among the major candidates). Sullivan isn't half as pissed as King Co. Democratic chair Dwight Pelz, though, who was the one trying to arrange the ceasefire on the special.


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