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Leading Off:

TX-04: The Campaign for Primary Accountability is now committing a non-trivial amount of money to defeat turncoat GOP Rep. Ralph Hall in his primary. Over the weekend, they filed a $100K IE report with the FEC for mail, TV and radio buys against the incumbent, who switched parties in 2004 at the filing deadline. The TV spot hits Hall on a litany of tea party sins (voting to increase the debt, supporting earmarks, voting for the "wasteful" Cash for Clunkers program, etc.), and also makes a quick dig about his age. Hall faces two challengers in his primary: Steve Clark, a wealthy former telecom executive whom Hall beat by a 57-30 margin in 2010 (and who only very recently revved up his campaign) and auto racing parts company owner Lou Gigliotti. (James L)

Intro

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Senate:

CT-Sen: As expected, zillionaire pro-wrestling mogul Linda McMahon handily beat ex-Rep. Chris Shays at the statewide GOP convention this past weekend, earning 60% of the delegate vote to his 32%. While this means McMahon's earned the party's official endorsement, it also means that Shays won't have to petition his way on to the primary ballot, because he cleared the 15% threshold to earn an automatic berth.

Meanwhile, the likely Democratic nominee, Rep. Chris Murphy, announced a big endorsement of his own on Monday: Sen. Richard Blumenthal (the guy who beat McMahon in 2010) just gave Murphy his backing. Blumenthal joins Murphy's considerable stable of big-name supporters, including just about every statewide elected official in Connecticut, the entire House delegation, and dozens of state legislators.

IN-Sen: Even though GOP Sen. Jim DeMint promised his caucus that his Senate Conservatives Fund wouldn't target any incumbents this cycle, Politico's Rob Bravender points out that DeMint's group gave $700K to the Club for Growth—which spent a total of $1.5 million to help Richard Mourdock oust Sen. Dick Lugar earlier this month. It's reminiscent of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's donation to the Campaign for Primary Accountability, which then went and targeted Illinois Rep. Don Manzullo, earning Cantor a world of pain. But DeMint is a lone wolf who probably doesn't really care about colleagues' opprobrium—though if Dem Rep. Joe Donnelly beats Mourdock this November and control of the Senate hinges on the outcome, that might change.

ME-Sen: The Maine GOP Senate primary has been slow to take shape, with perhaps the most notable development being retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe's sub rosa support for state AG Bill Schneider. Now we've got something new: Dick Armey's FreedomWorks is backing state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin. Does this mean Poliquin will earn the tea party seal of approval? I guess we'll have to wait and see whether other groups, like the Club for Growth or Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund, follow suit.

MN-Sen: Add one more state to the list where Paulists successfully hijacked the state's nominating convention (Nevada and Maine were prime examples of the last few weeks). Minnesota just gave most of its presidential delegates to Ron Paul: 12 of the 13 available at the convention, and 32 of the 40 overall. I'm not sure where the endgame leads the Paulists, but they're gaining a weird sort of below-the-radar momentum.

Also of note, this coup had a spillover effect into the Senate race. Paulist state Rep. Kurt Bills (who, alarmingly, is a high school economics teacher as his day job!) won the state party's nomination, besting his slightly higher-profile rivals, former state Rep. Dan Severson and Fox talking head Pete Hegseth. It sounds like Severson and Hegseth are abiding by the endorsement and won't fight on to the primary. (David Jarman)

OH-Sen, OH-16: Buried deep in this new piece from The New Republic's Alec MacGillis is a potentially major detail about donations to two Republican candidates for federal office. MacGillis takes a close look at Ohio as it resumes its quadrennial role as a key presidential battleground state, and among other things, he revisits this Toledo Blade story from last year about workers at Canton-based Suarez Corp. who maxed out to Senate hopeful Josh Mandel and Rep. Jim Renacci. Many of these donors had never made political contributions before, and many also appeared to be of modest means, raising questions as to whether their employer, wealthy Republican donor Benjamin Suarez, had pushed them to donate and then reimbursed them—something which would be illegal.

MacGillis recanvassed the 17 employees on The Blade's list and this time, he found out something completely new: The wife of a Saurez copywriter who, together with her husband, gave $20,000 to Renacci and Mandel, said that the FBI had asked them questions about their donations. Another Suarez employee also said there was "an investigation," and even Renacci's chief-of-staff confirmed that the FBI asked them for their campaign finance records. Of course, the FBI isn't saying anything, and even if there is any wrongdoing here, it would be on Suarez's part, barring a new revelation. Still, it's not a the kind of thing either Mandel or Renacci wants to have to deal with this year.

TX-Sen (PDF): We finally have some new Texas GOP Senate primary polling, and I'm not at all surprised that the numbers contradict a couple of internal polls put out by groups supporting Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, which showed him with dominant leads and made him look likely to escape without a runoff. The first is from the University of Texas & the Texas Tribune, which actually shows a rather tight contest between Dewhurst and his closest assailant, Ted Cruz: Dewhurst is up just 40 to 31 among a very teeny, 274-respondent sample of likely voters.

The Burnt Orange Report also has a new survey out (conducted by the firm People Calling People), and they find similar results, with Dewhurst leading 43-30, also among LVs. (BOR's poll, though, has a much more respectable sample size of 557.) The key here for Cruz, as I alluded, is simply holding Dewhurst under 50%. If he does that, then he'll have to consolidate conservative support and find a way to beat Dewhurst outright in the runoff. I don't think we've seen any direct head-to-head polling of a two-way matchup, but clearly Dewhurst's camp would rather not face this possibility.

Gubernatorial:

AZ-Gov: Republican Gov. Jan Brewer is looking at the possibility of running for a third term in 2014—even though Arizona's state constitution limits governors to just two. Brewer nevertheless thinks there's some ambiguity in the law that could be exploited via a court challenge, centered around the fact that she was first elevated to her current post in 2009 when then-Gov. Janet Napolitano left to become head of the Department of Homeland Security and has only been elected governor once. But the law seems pretty airtight, leading one Republican to suggest Brewer's only floating this notion in a bid to stay relevant in the final two years of her current term.

TX-Gov: That Burnt Orange Report poll (see TX-Sen item above) also had a gubernatorial portion, showing Gov. Rick Perry barely edging state AG Greg Abbott in a hypothetical Republican primary in 2014, 42-35. PPP polled this matchup in April as well, though they never released the results, but Tom Jensen informs me they found Perry in somewhat better shape, 50-34 over Abbott. Still, I wouldn't like either set of numbers very much if I were the incumbent.

House:

CA-02: Democratic Assemblyman Jared Huffman, the frontrunner in June's top-two primary, just won the endorsement of the National Association of Realtors. Perhaps a little surprisingly, the Realtors actually tend to support Democrats as well as Republicans, and have even spent heavily in a few cases to help some incumbent Dems win re-election in recent years (like ex-Rep. Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania, who barely survived in 2008).

CA-31: Hahah! This is pretty funny—and some consultant is going to get fired over this. The media firm producing ads for GOP Rep. Gary Miller managed to post a series of fumbling out-takes from their most recent shoot on YouTube, and the campaign of Redlands mayor Pete Aguilar, the leading Democrat in the race, somehow discovered these and preserved them in a YouTube video of their own. I love getting a glimpse behind the curtain like this:

FL-06: FreedomWorks has been busy lately, handing out endorsements... well, you can't say "left and right." So just "right and right." The latest goes to attorney Ron DeSantis, who is seeking the GOP nomination in a very crowded field in Florida's open 6th CD.

GA-10: Ex-Rep. Mac Collins, out of office since 2004, had been weighing a comeback bid for quite some time—since early last fall, in fact. But his path back to Congress would have involved a challenge to Rep. Paul Broun in the GOP primary, something the Club for Growth warned him against doing in very clear terms earlier this spring. So with Georgia's filing deadline just days away, Collins finally (and very quietly) decided to abandon the idea, though he did not endorse Broun.

IL-13: At long last, Republicans officials in Illinois's 13th Congressional District have finally tapped a replacement for Rep. Tim Johnson, a month-and-a-half after he unexpectedly announced his retirement. Out of four finalists, they decided on Rodney Davis, a longtime staffer to Rep. John Shimkus, who represents an adjacent district. Davis will face physician David Gill, who won a very close fight for Democratic nomination that took a month to resolve.

NJ-09: NARAL just endorsed Rep. Steve Rothman, who of course is squaring off against fellow Rep. Bill Pascrell in New Jersey's fast-approaching June 5 primary. In their press release, NARAL says that Rothman "has a perfect pro-choice record" while Pascrell "has cast 21 anti-choice votes during his time in Congress." It's not clear whether this endorsement will be backed by any spending on Rothman's behalf, though.

Grab Bag:

Swing Voters & States: Nate Silver's out with an interesting new piece that you're likely to see a lot of reference back to as the campaign unfolds. It adds a new dimension to the discussion of swing states, which he calls "elasticity." A swing state is a swing state by virtue of its position near the middle of the left/right spectrum of states, but some swing states have a lot of persuadable independents, while other have large bases and few true swing voters. That would explain why New Hampshire (as I was mentioning last week), with its large core of indies, has such large swings in its pendulum, while North Carolina (which has large evangelical and black populations as bookends) doesn't. (If you get in the wayback machine, you can see how Nate's fleshing out the ideas from this prototype post from last year.) The whole thing's worth a read, but here's the article's nut, in table form:

Tables of state-level partisanship vs. voter elasticity
(Source: FiveThirtyEight)
(David Jarman)

Washington: The state of Washington's filing deadline was on Friday. You can get a full list of candidates at the link.

WA Lege: There's been a fair amount of commentary in local media about how there's an unusually high number of open seats in the Washington state legislature, so I cracked open the filings to see if that's the case. I don't have historical data (and no one else seems to either) so I don't know if it's "unprecedented," but there sure are a lot: In the state Senate, of 26 seats that are up, 7 are open (with 2 senators running statewide and 5 retirements). In the state House, all 98 seats are up, and 21 are open (with 8 reps running for Senate, 3 running statewide, and 10 retirements).

In the state Senate (where the Dems hold a 27-22 edge), only one of those open seats is competitive, though: LD-25 in suburban Pierce Co. (Puyallup and South Hill).  The district (which went 46.2% for Patty Murray; add about 6 for a rough Obama percentage) is being vacated by centrist Dem Jim Kastama, who's running for SoS, and Republican state Rep. Bruce Dammeier is a strong candidate. There's one other Tossup, the much bluer LD-41 (54.9% Murray) in Bellevue and Mercer Island, where moderate GOPer Steve Litzow barely squeaked in in a special election as part of the 2010 wave.

I'd call two other districts, Whidbey Island's LD-10 and suburban Vancouver's LD-17, Lean D and Lean R respectively; Dem Mary Margaret Haugen and GOPer Don Benton are in swingy districts and being challenged by state Reps. from the opposite parties. The open 39th, where GOPer Val Stevens is finally retiring, isn't much of a pickup opportunity; it's 45.1% Murray and hasn't been fruitful for legislative Dems in the past.

The state House (where Dems hold a 56-42 edge) is also looking close to a wash, with seven swing-district open seats I'd call Tossup-ish, 3 of which are GOP-held (LD-05, LD-10, and LD-25) and 4 of which are Dem-held (LD-17, LD-28, LD-30, and LD-35). (David Jarman)

Redistricting Roundup:

KS Redistricting: I'm completely unsurprised: The Kansas legislature finished its session on Sunday and adjourned without reaching any agreement on any new maps, either congressional or legislative. If you've been following along with this whole process, then you know that there's an extraordinarily bitter split between two very distinct factions of the Kansas Republican Party: The "conservatives," who rule the roost in the House, and the so-called "moderates," who are making a last stand in the Senate.

The crux of the controversy are the Senate lines: The moderates want a map which keeps several conservative primary challengers out of the districts of several targeted mod senators; the conservatives obviously want very much the opposite. The recriminations have been exceptionally nasty, with the Senate redistricting chair, a moderate, even storming out of a caucus meeting after receiving abuse at the hands of conservatives. (Minority Democrats, meanwhile, are siding with the moderates and are only too happy to take pot-shots at House Republicans.) The firestorm over the Senate map has held up everything else, meaning there are no new congressional lines, either.

So what now? There's already a pending federal lawsuit (filed earlier this month) that's asking judges to draw new maps themselves—something they now almost certainly have to do, since no one is even hinting at the possibility of a special session of the legislature or any kind of compromise. Several key players are trying to intervene in the suit now that the legislative process has ground to a halt, but whether or not they do, the court will have to move fast: Kansas's primary is Aug. 7. I suspect it may have to get delayed, but there's only so far it can move, since a federal law requiring ample time for general election ballots to get sent to overseas voters means that early September is the latest you can conduct a primary.

Media Watch:

IN-Sen: The Indiana Democratic Congressional Victory Committee, a fund under the umbrella of the state party, is out for a 60-second statewide radio buy that aptly compares state Treasurer Richard Mourdock to a schoolyard bully. Size of the buy? Pretty small, at $21K. (James L)

MT-Sen: The parents of a Marine who was grievously wounded in Afghanistan, losing both legs and most of his left hand, thank Dem Sen. Jon Tester for reaching out with visits and phone calls, to help motivate their son and make sure he got proper care. Size of the buy: $60K.

OH-Sen: Majority PAC has re-upped their existing ad buy against state Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) for another week at a cost of $300K. (James L)

TX-Sen: Gov. Rick Perry, who already cut a radio ad for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, now praises Dewhurst as "the one candidate best prepared to make conservative change happen in Washington." Also, his tie looks like a barber shop pole.

TX-Sen: When it comes to IE spending (and the polls), ex-NFLer Craig James is something of an afterthought in the Republican Senate primary. But a new organization has emerged to spend a bit of scrilla on his behalf. Real Street Conservatives are out with a $120K pro-James radio buy. The ad does not seem to be available online yet. (James L)

UT-Sen: FreedomWorks is still trickling out cash in the Utah Senate primary. Of particular note is a $37K expense they just paid to a polling firm (a cleverly-named outfit called "The Polling Company") for a survey of Hatch's primary against state Sen. Dan Liljenquist. Wonder if that thing will ever see daylight. (James L)

WI-Sen: Republican Eric Hovde hitches is wagon to Gov. Scott Walker's star, praising Walker's financial stewardship of the state and exhorting the "silent majority" to come out for him in next month's recall election.

NC-Gov: I knew Republican Pat McCrory's people would instantly go nuts over the new DGA-sponsored ad that went up late last week attacking him on ethics issues, and indeed, they have. McCrory's campaign immediately sent letters to TV stations demanding they drop the ad on the grounds that it contained false information, but doesn't seem to have had much luck so far. They've issued press releases saying one unnamed cable system and one broadcast station, WXII, pulled the spots, but WXII refused to confirm. On Monday, in a truly desperate effort, McCrory filed a complaint with the FCC, something I've never seen go anywhere in a political campaign.

WI-Gov: Democrat Tom Barrett hammers Scott Walker over the "John Doe" investigation into allegations that his government staff improperly conducted political activities on the taxpayer dime.

AZ-05: A ponderous narrator praises Republican ex-Rep. Matt Salmon's efforts during his first go-round in the late `90s, then explains he honored a term-limits pledge "and came home"—but now has go back into battle once more to stop the dangerous Obama agenda. Amusingly, Salmon tries to take credit for "balancing the budget" back in the day, something that was only possible because of the Clinton tax hikes. Size of the buy: "five figures."

AZ-08: The NRCC's latest spot hits Ron Barber (D) on Obamacare. (This one is part of a $265K ad buy that the committee filed last week.) Meanwhile, the American Action Network is spending $20K on a phonebank campaign in support of Jesse Kelly (R). (James L)

CA-08: Spirit of Democracy America, just one of what feels like a gazillion anonymous small-ball PACs throwing their spare change around in primaries across the nation, is dropping $17K on mailers in support of state Assemblyman Paul Cook (R) in the open seat race to replace retiring GOP Rep. Jerry Lewis. (James L)

CA-26: We wrote about $92K direct mail campaign that the California League of Conservation Voters initiated on Democrat Julia Brownley's behalf last week, but if you're interested in seeing copies of the mailers themselves, click the link. (James L)

CA-31: Now here's something I'd like to know more about. A group with the name of "Restoring Our Community" just filed $95K in ground and phone canvassing expenditures on behalf of Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (D). Information about the group is pretty limited online, though one of their campaign workers (as identified in the filing) is named Cynthia Aguilar. Any relation? (James L)

TX-16: The Campaign for Primary Accountability has unleashed another $100K in TV and radio buys against Dem Rep. Silvestre Reyes. (James L)

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue May 22, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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