• AR-Sen: I've already written at length about the wisdom (or lack thereof) of Mike Bloomberg's plans to spend money targeting Dem Sen. Mark Pryor on guns here and here, so I won't rehash any of that. But now plans have become reality, as Bloomberg's group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has just gone up with a $350,000 ad buy hitting Pryor on background checks. The spot features a former Democratic Party staffer, Angela Branford-Barnes, who says she's "disappointed" in Pryor for his vote against expanding background checks, citing the murder of her one-time boss and friend, party chair Bill Gwatney, who was gunned down at party headquarters in 2008. (Notably, Bradford-Barnes is African American; Pryor has to do well among black voters in order to win another term next year.) Pryor responded by calling the ad "disgusting," saying it "politicizes" Gwatney's death.
• IA-Sen: It looks like Iowa Republicans may have a second Senate candidate. David Young, who is Sen. Chuck Grassley's chief of staff, began looking at the race late last month; now, he's reportedly submitted his resignation and plans to announce "very soon." Amusingly, he has one of the tiniest favorability scores I've ever seen. Quinnipiac has, for the first time, started polling Iowa, and while they don't have any head-to-heads, they did ask about various potential candidates' name recognition. Young clocks in with 3 percent favorable, 2 percent unfavorable!
Former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker, who has a formal announcement scheduled for next month, is also a total question mark, at 8-4. Democrat Bruce Braley is by far the best known of the bunch (all the rest were Republicans), with a 27-14 score, though that means he's still mostly unknown.
• MA-Sen: This is certainly a good way to reach out to middle-of-the-road voters. In an interview Thursday evening, Gabriel Gomez called his opponent, Democratic Rep. Ed Markey, "pond scum" because he "put me up next to Bin Laden." As David Bernstein observes, Markey has done no such thing. Meanwhile, here's something else Markey didn't do: violate the so-called People's Pledge to limit outside spending. Bernstein has a terrific takedown of an amazing NRSC press release claiming that Markey did just that... except, among other major problems, Gomez refused to sign the pledge, so there is no pledge to break! But that's not the NRSC's only party foul, so click through for a very enjoyable bit of demolition work.
• CO-Gov: Aw, shoot. The Steve Laffey cross-country "vote for me" tour has ended, and very abruptly. Laffey, the former mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island, who trekked out to Colorado a few years ago, and who, astoundingly, announced early last week that he'd run for governor there, is already dropping out. He cited ex-Rep. Tom Tancredo's subsequent entry into the GOP contest as his reason for doing so, saying he'd been in divisive primaries before and didn't want to do so again. (Of course, he left out the fact that he instigated one of those challenges, against then-Sen. Lincoln Chafee in 2006.)
But despite Laffey's praise for Tancredo and his decision to defer to him, there will almost certainly be a contested primary anyway. Secretary of State Scott Gessler just filed papers that would allow him to run for governor, though he added that he won't officially decide until some time this week. But given that Gessler went from "definitely not running" to "looking at a bid" in the span of a few months, it certainly seems that he's just about ready to commit.
• IA-Gov: As part of its new Iowa polling, Quinnipiac also took a quick look at GOP Gov. Terry Branstad, who sports a pretty solid 49-31 job approval rating. Despite those numbers, though, 43 percent of voters say Branstad does not deserve to be re-elected, versus 42 percent who say he does. Those figures are split almost identically along party lines, with independents 50-50 on the question. (There were no head-to-heads with potential Democratic opponents.)
• AL-01: In the wake of GOP Rep. Jo Bonner's surprise resignation announcement Thursday, the interest level in succeeding him has already rocketed to enormous proportions. Thankfully, local reporter George Talbot has done tremendous work in keeping track of who's in and who's out—and the list is very, very long. Remarkably, there's even one Democrat who has expressed interest, state Sen. Marc Keahey, but this district went for Mitt Romney 62-37 last year, so I don't know that the second coming of Bobby Bright would even have a shot here. Talbot adds that local Democrats would like to recruit U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin or Lucy Buffett, sister of Jimmy, so I guess hope springs eternal. As for the Republicans looking at the race, you'll have to click through.
• CA-31: Huh. I guess ex-Rep. Joe Baca does have some friends among his former colleagues. Baca just rolled out a list of 30 endorsements from members of Congress, ranging from the liberal (Steve Cohen, John Yarmuth) to the Blue Doggy (Kurt Schrader, Sanford Bishop). Jim Clyburn, the third highest-ranking Democrat in the House, leads the roster. However, I'm only seeing one Californian on there, Tony Cardenas (CA-29), and one woman, Terri Sewell of Alabama.
• NY-24: This is absurd. Sometimes, canny Democratic executives nominate Republicans who have shown a modicum of moderation and are threats to run for office to nice, safe government jobs that will keep them out of the political arena. A good recent example of this was Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy tapping state Sen. Andrew Roraback for a judgeship, thus ensuring he wouldn't make a second run for the state's 5th Congressional District. But this move by President Obama, to name ex-Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle as a commissioner for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, makes no sense.
For one, Buerkle is a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, as implacably right-wing as any tea partier who got swept into Congress in 2010. I wouldn't want her anywhere near any product safety decisions. And for another, while she's talked up the possibility of a rematch with Rep. Dan Maffei, the guy who turfed her out last year, she really doesn't constitute a danger to him. Maffei beat her by over 4 points, despite the presence of a Green Party candidate who took a huge 8 percent of the vote.
On top of that, Obama won this seat by a 57-41 margin in 2012, so this isn't exactly fertile territory for Republicans. Yes, Buerkle was Mitch McConnell's "recommendation," but Obama's not obligated to listen to Republican lectures about Senate traditions and niceties. So here's hoping her nomination gets scuttled.
• WATN?: Former GOP Rep. David Dreier, who served in the House for over three decades before getting squeezed out in redistricting last year, has landed at the Brookings Institution as a "distinguished fellow." It's not exactly clear what he'll be doing there, since Brookings says they "look forward to drawing on his expertise across a wide range of policy areas." Sounds like a pretty sweet gig, just "offering your expertise"!