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Leading Off:

MA-Sen: PPP's new Massachusetts Senate poll (commissioned by the League of Conservation Voters) shows Dem Rep. Ed Markey improving his position over Republican businessman Gabriel Gomez. There was some consternation a couple of weeks ago, when PPP's initial survey put Markey up just 44-40, but now he's legged out to a wider 48-41 lead—and, importantly, is a lot closer to 50 percent. Markey's favorability has improved a touch, from 44-41 to 48-40, and as PPP's polling memo notes, he's doing much better with self-identified Democrats (77-12 versus 68-21 initially). That suggests that slightly miffed Stephen Lynch supporters are coming home after the primary.

Gomez, meanwhile, has seen his favorables move down, from 41-27 to 42-34, probably as people learn that yeah, he really is a Republican. He's taken a nosedive with Democrats in particular, though independents seem to like him more now. But as long as Markey consolidates Democratic support and keeps Gomez from getting much in the way of crossover voters, then the math simply isn't there for Gomez.

Meanwhile, Gomez is going up with his first TV ad of the special election, for a buy of "at least $200,000," according to the National Journal. That's a pretty limp sum for a state that includes the expensive Boston media market, and the spot itself isn't exactly awesome. Gomez tries to emphasize both his family's immigrant roots (he himself was born in Los Angeles) by speaking a bit of Spanish, as well as his military background. In the second half, he insists that "if you come to America, you should commit to the idea of America"—and then awkwardly recites a portion of the Pledge of Allegiance.

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Senate:

MN-Sen: Republican state Sen. Julianne Ortman, who's been trying (unsuccessfully) to pin the whole IRS/tea party thing on Sen. Al Franken, wouldn't respond on Thursday when a reporter asked if she would run. So I guess that means you can add her to the list of GOP second- and third-stringers considering a bid for Senate in Minnesota.

Gubernatorial:

RI-Gov: As expected since late last month, former state Auditor Ernie Almonte has officially dropped out of the Democratic primary for governor and will instead run for Treasurer.

VA-Gov: Sorry, chicken littles, but Quinnipiac actually has good news for Democrat Terry McAuliffe. After that outlierish Washington Post poll last week showing Republican AG Ken Cuccinelli with a 10-point lead among likely voters set off a round of agonized worrying among certain establishment types, Quinnipiac now has T-Mac up 5. In fact, at 43-38, it's McAuliffe's largest edge since the school began polling the race last November. (Though notably, Quinnipiac surveyed registered voters; the WaPo only canvassed "absolutely certain" voters.)

The fact still remains, though, that there are still a ton of undecideds—far more, I think, than is typical for a race you'd expect to divide fairly evenly along partisan lines. But the paid TV portion of the campaign has just begun, and likely won't kick into high gear for a while, so both candidates have much lower name recognition than they ultimately will. Cuccinelli's favorables stand at 31-24 and McAuliffe's at 22-17, showing that tons of people still have no idea who either guy is, especially the latter. Regardless of who happens to be ahead in any given poll, it's still early, and it still feels very much like we're in tossup territory to me.

House:

GA-10: Businessman Mike Collins has become the latest to join the GOP field in Georgia's open 10th Congressional District. Collins runs a trucking company, but he's probably most notable thanks to his family name. His father is former Rep. Mac Collins, who represented the state's old 8th District before unsuccessfully running for Senate in 2004. The elder Collins was actually mentioned as a possible candidate earlier this year, but as awesome as another Francis Powers vs. Francis Powers-style matchup would be, somehow I doubt pops is going to run against his kid.

Other Races:

VA-LG, VA-AG: Don't forget: Virginia Republicans are hosting a convention to nominate candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general on Saturday, in lieu of a traditional primary. Party activists pressed for this change because it would favor AG Ken Cuccinelli, the firebrand movement conservative who is unopposed for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. (Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling dropped out of the race after the switch was made from primary to convention.) However, there are still hotly contested battles further down the ticket, with a pair of candidates running for AG and fully seven names in the mix for LG. Democrats will select their nominees in the June primary.

Grab Bag:

EMILY: EMILY's List has released its first half dozen "On the List" candidates, which is their bottom endorsement tier (and mostly an excuse to send out a press release, like the NRCC and DCCC regularly do). Four are in races where there's really only one notable Democrat running so far: IL-13 (Ann Callis), FL-13 (Jessica Ehrlich), FL-02 (Gwen Graham), and NY-23 (Martha Robertson). In CA-31, they're backing attorney Eloise Reyes, who is vying with Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar and ex-Rep. Joe Baca for the right to take on GOP Rep. Gary Miller. (That sets them against the DCCC, which has taken the unusual step of backing Aguilar.) And for the possible MA-05 special election, they're supporting state Sen. Katherine Clark, even though the field is still coming together and other women candidates, such as state Sen. Karen Spilka, may yet enter.

NRCC: This is a hilarious bit of fail. Not gonna summarize—funnier if you click through.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Fri May 17, 2013 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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