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Leading Off:

KY-Gov: This is an absolutely spectacular catch that you simply must listen to. It's a recording of a genuine push poll, caught in the wild. "Push polls" are often poorly understood and many things which aren't actually push polls get identified as such. Put simply, a push poll is a series of negative messages about your opponent which are distributed via automated phone calls, masquerading as a real poll. They're almost always done shortly before election day (to maximize their effectiveness), and they target tens of thousands of people, like a normal robocall rather than a legitimate poll (which typically has a sample size of under a thousand). Anyhow, the good stuff gets started at about 38 seconds in. It's impressively colossal crap, with each "question" asking if a negative piece of information about Dem Gov. Steve Beshear makes you more or less likely to vote for him. Seriously, check it out.

Meanwhile, things have managed to go from impossibly bad to somehow worse for Republican state Senate President David Williams, who has been mired in the 20s (yes, the 20s!) in all recent public polls, for an election that is now just three weeks away. A local judge just barred Restoring America, a right-wing front group with far more money than sense, from running attack ads against Beshear because they violated state campaign finance laws. Hurrah for disclosure requirements with teeth!

The group, known as a 527 because of the section of the Internal Revenue Service code under which it is organized, must report the source of its contributions, according to state campaign finance laws. But the group’s finance report listed Restoring America Inc. as its only contributor. Both Restoring America and Restoring America Inc. were started on the same day and use the same mailing address. […]

“By hiding the contributors to the 527 from the public, respondents have immediately and irreparably harmed the petitioner and the public of their right to have a transparent campaign finance system whereby all contributors are disclosed publicly,” Wingate wrote.

Even better, Restoring America was set to launch four new ads today. What makes this so delightful is that if they want to get back on the air, they'll have to disclose their actual donors. Feel their agony! Though of course, if they were smart, they'd just save their money and let Williams get the beat-down he was gonna get anyway. But if they were smart, they wouldn't have started spending on him in the first place.

3Q Fundraising:

FL-Sen: Fundraising for the four main GOP candidates:

Plant City businessman Mike McCalister raised about $71,000 during the third quarter for his Republican U.S. Senate bid, his campaign said today. […]

Former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner raised $535,000 in the quarter. Former appointed Sen. George LeMieux collected $402,916 and former Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse CEO Craig Miller raised $226,000.

MO-Gov: Gov. Jay Nixon (D): $1.5 mil raised, $4.2 mil cash-on-hand; Peter Kinder (R): $456K raised, $1.6 mil cash-on-hand

PA-Sen: Sen. Bob Casey (D): $1 mil raised, $3.75 mil cash-on-hand

Senate:

CA-Sen: Just wow:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein's re-election campaign estimated on Friday that she is missing nearly $4.7 million because of unauthorized disbursements by her former campaign treasurer, Kinde Durkee.

The campaign filed its first report with the Federal Election Commission since Durkee's arrest last month, providing the first official glimpse of the potential financial toll on candidates who employed the longtime Democratic campaign treasurer.

Feinstein's campaign reported that it has nearly $6 million in the bank, but that's mostly due to a $5 million loan Feinstein injected into the account after the embezzlement case broke. The campaign believed it had nearly $5.2 million in an account with First California Bank going into July, but that account is now showing only $662,100.

MO-Sen, MO-02: Some interesting speculation from Dave Catanese. Republican Rep. Todd Akin raised a really miserable $285K for his Senate bid last quarter, while the main contender to replace him in the House, former state GOP chair Ann Wagner, pulled in an extremely impressive $532K. Wagner, you'll recall, had thought about a Senate bid earlier in the year but decided to run for the slightly re-drawn 2nd CD instead. But given this disparity in fundraising, perhaps Wagner now wants to reconsider this decision and aim for the upper chamber instead. Catanese doesn't cite any sources for this idea, so I don't know if this is something some Missouri player has suggested, but it's intriguing nonetheless.

UT-Sen: Forgive me for not viewing this as particularly good news, but I think this month-old DSCC poll from Anzalone Liszt showing Dem Rep. Jim Matheson losing to Sen. Orrin Hatch by a 48-42 margin isn't really a very positive sign. How is Matheson supposed to get to 50%+1 in a state as red as Utah? Getting to 42% is an accomplishment in and of itself, don't get me wrong (though of course this is a selectively-released partisan poll). But those undecideds are just not going to break our way barring something fairly miraculous. I also wonder why poll was released now. All the theories I'm coming up with are getting sliced up by a very sharp Occam's razor.

VA-Sen: A poll from Christopher Newport University and the Richmond Times-Dispatch shows exactly the same sort of race every pollster from chimpan-A to chimpanzee has seen: a dead heat. Tim Kaine leads George Allen 44-42. (But boo on CNU for reporting its results with tenths of a percent.)

Gubernatorial:

IL-Gov: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who served in the House for 7 terms as a Republican before becoming Barack Obama's transportation secretary, says he only plans to serve in his current post until the end of the president's first term—and that he won't run for office again after he steps down. (He'd been vaguely talked about as a possible gubernatorial candidate.)

House:

CA-52: As expected, Port of San Diego Commission Chairman Scott Peters announced that he would seek the Democratic nomination in the new 52nd District. For some background on this race, please check out the previous digest.

GA-09: I guess this is the sort of poll you release to impress easily-impressed donors, because it really doesn't say a whole lot. Conservative radio host Martha Zoller has a survey from Public Opinion Research which shows her leading the GOP primary over state Rep. Doug Collins by all of 32% to 20%. The sample size is just 300, and half the electorate is undecided, so unless there was a long (and unreleased) message-testing component to the poll, all this does for Zoller is allow her to tell people, "I'm the leading candidate in the race!"

Relatedly, Jim Galloway reports that Jackson County Commission chair Hunter Bicknell may also join the GOP field.

HI-02: My mistake. I had thought that Mufi Hannemann had received the first labor endorsement in the HI-02 Democratic primary. Turns out that Tulsi Gabbard had previously received the backing of several union locals: two IBEW locals and one apiece from the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers, the Plumbers and Fitters, the Boilermakers Union, and the Elevator Constructors Union.

NY-10: We'll have our 3Q fundraising chart up soon, but man, these numbers from Dem Rep. Ed Towns really bear a special look. He raised just $69K during the quarter and has just $10K cash-on-hand. Remarkably feeble numbers for a guy facing a serious primary challenge from Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries. Is Towns giving up? Or is he just not taking Jeffries seriously?

OH-02: Businessman David Krikorian, who's run against GOP Rep. Jean Schmidt twice (as an independent in 2008 and a Democrat in 2010) says he'll try a third time next year. Krikorian says he plans to run as a Democrat, but "if the party doesn’t support" him, he'll file as an independent instead.

WI-07: The House Majority PAC strikes again, this time with a spot going after Rep. Sean Duffy. (I feel like Duffy, along with fellow GOP freshman Chip Cravaack in neighboring Minnesota, has been hit with the brunt of these early ads. Anyone agree?) The ad mocks Duffy's infamous claim that he struggles to get by on his congressional salary ($174,000/yr), and hits him with the usual litany of tax-breaks-for-the-rich attacks. It also uses as a hook a silly bio on Duffy's website which says his favorite foods are "steak and sushi," trying to argue that those are expensive tastes. A little thin, but GOP whining about the ad has given Democrats cause to start recirculating a video of Duffy's wife saying she has sushi flown in to her home in Wisconsin. Probably not a super-common activity in the 7th CD, or really anywhere, wouldn't you say?

P.S. According to the Smart Media Group, the buy is for at least $120K, which is some pretty serious money this far out.

Other Races:

LA-LG, LA-SoS: All the statewide action in Louisiana is on the Republican side this year, which makes this Saturday's jungle primary the big deal, rather than the Nov. 19 general election. The numbers are about ten days old at this point, but WWL-TV also asked about downballot races in its poll from Clarus, where two incumbents are being challenged by members of their own party. Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, elected just last year, leads Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser 40-27, while Secretary of State Tom Schedler trails House Speaker Jim Tucker 25-20. The huge undecideds in that race stem from the fact that Schedler is a recent appointee to the job, ascending to the office after Dardenne won the LG race.

Special Elections: Johnny Longtorso tell us about tonight's last hurrah before Nov. 8:

Georgia HD-43 (runoff): Republicans John Carson and Robert Lamutt made it out of the first round in September, and with a third of voters having backed other candidates then, it's anyone's guess which one will win the runoff.

Massachusetts House, 3rd Berkshire: Now this one is interesting. This is a heavily-Democratic seat in Pittsfield; no Republican ran here in 2010, but the Green Party ran retired journalist Matt Miller, and he got 45% against the incumbent. Miller is running again, and has been raising quite a bit of money (relatively speaking), so it's possible that he could defeat Democratic nominee Tricia Farley-Bouvier, a former Pittsfield City Council member. Republicans do actually have a candidate in the race this time, realtor Mark Jester, but he's pretty much irrelevant. To make things even more scrambled, there's a fourth candidate: independent Pam Malumphy, who, like Farley-Bouvier, has served on the Pittsfield City Council. Whew. As I said, this is a safe, safe seat (Pittsfield gave Deval Patrick 73% of the vote last year), so there seems to be very little danger of vote-splitting electing the Republican.

Minnesota SD-46: An open Democratic seat in northern Hennepin County (Brooklyn Park/Brooklyn Center), the candidates are Democrat Chris Eaton, a registered nurse, Republican Cory Jensen, a consultant, and Independence Party nominee Tom Reynolds, a real estate broker. This seat went 66-32 for Obama, and the late incumbent was re-elected in 2010 by a 62-38 margin, so it shouldn't be in much danger.

Minnesota SD-61: Another open Democratic seat, this one is in the middle of Minneapolis. The candidates are Democrat Jeff Hayden, a nonprofit manager, Republican Bruce Lundeen, a contractor, Independence Party nominee Matt Brilhart, about whom I could find no information, and Green Party nominee Farheen Hakeem, a perennial candidate who has run for Mayor, state Rep, and Governor (though she did get 30% for state Rep). This is probably the safest state Senate seat in Minnesota; it gave Obama 88% of the vote.

Redistricting Roundup:

NV Redistricting: The special masters charged by the court hearing Nevada's redistricting lawsuit have released proposed congressional and legislative maps. You can download detailed maps here. Importantly, the masters decided that it was not necessary to create a majority-minority Latino district, explaining that "bloc voting by the white majority was not shown to usually defeat a minority’s preferred candidate." This is good news for Democrats, because it means that Dem-leaning Hispanic voters won't get packed into a single district.

But these maps are not final: they could still be altered by the judge before they are given the force of law. In the meantime, though, here's how the main players shake out:

Democrats have five major candidates announced for the three Southern Nevada seats, setting up potentially nasty primary battles. Those candidates are Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford; Speaker John Oceguera; Sen. John Lee and Sen. Ruben Kihuen; former Rep. Dina Titus.

Oceguera lives in the 3rd District. Horsford and Lee live in the 4th District. Titus and Kihuen live in the 1st District, according to a Democratic source.

OH Redistricting: Some great redistricting news: The state Supreme Court ruled late last week that a referendum can in fact be held on Ohio's new redistricting bill. As we've been telling you, Republicans had tried to prevent the bill from going before voters (backgroud here) by attaching an appropriation to the legislation, in this case a couple million bucks to help local election official implement the new district lines. Ordinarily, spending measures are immune from being challenged on the ballot so long as they constitute "appropriations for the current expenses of the state government and state institutions." But the high court unanimously sided with Democrats, who argued that the spending provision did not meet this criteria. Democrats are now asking that the normal 90-day window for gathering signatures to put this issue on the ballot be started afresh in light of this ruling.

WA Redistricting: So much for that. The redistricting commission has whittled down the number of legislative maps from four to two on Friday, but they didn't winnow the four congressional maps, which it seemed like they might do. What's more, they have no announced timetable for moving forward on that front.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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