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Leading Off:

NE-Sen: Whoa. Nebraska's open Senate race doesn't get a lot of attention, largely because it's a safely red seat where all the action is in the Republican primary, but this is definitely one of those "read the whole thing" links, stat. Here's the extraordinary, eye-popping lede to whet your appetite:

Dogged by questions about his 2001 decision to land a crippled Navy EP-3 reconnaissance plane in China, U.S. Senate candidate Shane Osborn has distributed an official-looking Navy memo supporting his account.

The memo, written Aug. 8, 2013, on Navy letterhead, is titled "Disposition of actions by EP-3E flight crew on April 1, 2001." It explains that Osborn's plane was authorized to land on China's Hainan island "due to the extreme circumstances and condition of this aircraft."

But The World-Herald has learned that the unsigned memo was not authorized by the Navy, or vetted through normal channels, and was written as a favor to Osborn by a Navy buddy working at the Pentagon.

"We cannot confirm the authenticity of this document," said Lt. Cmdr. Katie Cerezo, a Navy spokeswoman. "We couldn't discuss a memo that we can't authenticate."

Just wow. Osborn forged a memo to cover his ass, and the Navy is dismissing it on the record? That's not something you see often, to say the least. But the story gets even more incredible. The author remains anonymous because, according to the paper, "his career could be jeopardized" if he comes forward, and his actions "could potentially lead to a criminal charge of violating orders or dereliction of duty." Here's a thought: If you have to shield your identity while helping your buddy in order to avoid prosecution, then maybe you're not really "helping" him after all.

Faking up military documents is a pretty grave sin, and entire campaigns have gotten derailed for less. Osborn is locked in a competitive Republican primary against Midland University President Ben Sasse, and while he's had small leads in recent polling, these revelations could alter that state of affairs in a hurry. Indeed, Osborn's running heavily on the EP-3 incident and has even been airing ads touting his deeds (though some veterans question both his actions and the fact that he's "bragging" about them).

But again, go and read it all for yourself—"hard to believe" doesn't even begin to describe it.

Senate:

AK-Sen: Judging by the content of American Crossroads' new ad, it seems like Democratic hits on Dan Sullivan's residency status have drawn some blood. The spot is narrated by none other than Condoleezza Rice, who praises Sullivan for his "tireless" "defense of his country," as shown by "his service in the military" and "in the White House and the State Department," where he served as an assistant secretary when Rice was secretary of state. Rice then claims Sullivan "faces political attacks because he wanted his family by his side." "Remember," Rice urges, a bit patronizingly, "that serving our country required some time in our capital."

There's also a new poll of the race from Rasmussen. The numbers: Sen. Mark Begich (D): 43, Mead Treadwell (R): 47; Begich: 44, Dan Sullivan (R): 44; Begich: 49, Joe Miller (R): 38.

CO-Sen: Republican Rep. Cory Gardner is proving to be quite a piece of work:

Congressman Cory Gardner, who has been hammered for his position on social issues ever since he jumped into the U.S. Senate race, dropped a political bombshell Friday with his revelation that he was wrong to have supported previous personhood efforts.

He said that after learning more about the measures, which would have had the impact of outlawing abortion, he realized the proposals also could ban certain forms of contraception, a prohibition he does not support. [...] He did not say when he changed his mind on personhood, but said he began examining it more closely after voters rejected it by a 3-to-1 margin in 2010.

"The fact that it restricts contraception, it was not the right position," Gardner said.

Gardner's spin is pretty much an open and shut case of political bull. He bragged about supporting the personhood amendment on the campaign trail in 2010 while seeking the GOP nomination for his House seat, but now that he's running for the Senate, he's claiming that if he'd only understood what the proposal would actually do, he never would have supported it.

The thing is, it was obvious at the time that the personhood amendment was an idea only a conservative Neanderthal could embrace. That's why three quarters of Colorado voters rejected it at the ballot box, not once, but twice. Heck, even Mississippi voters shot the idea down.

But now, despite serving as an outspoken proponent of the losing side each time it came up for a vote, Gardner wants people to believe that if he had understood the implications of the personhood amendment, he never would have supported it? Come on. That'd be like someone saying they never would have backed the death penalty if they realized that the death penalty involved executing people. It just doesn't pass the smell test.

Oh, and if Gardner's lame and unconvincing spin sounds familiar to you, maybe it's because in 2010 he flirted with birtherism, ultimately deciding to announce—through his campaign manager—that he believed President Obama was "most likely" a U.S. citizen. (Jed Lewison)

NH-Sen: Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen keeps hoping to get further mileage out of Scott Brown's refusal to sign a "people's pledge" to keep third-party spending out of New Hampshire with a new radio ad that features a clip of Brown bragging about the pledge he signed in 2012 (back when he was seeking re-election in Massachusetts, of course). Brown's responses to date have consisted largely of misdirection and bluster, but as for that other looming issue in the race—you know, the whole carpetbagging thing—he's just throwing up his hands:

"Do I have the best credentials? Probably not. 'Cause, you know, whatever. But I have long and strong ties to this state," he told The Associated Press. "People know." Brown spent the first year and a half of his life living in New Hampshire before his family moved to Massachusetts.
No, no, dude! You mean "bqhatevwr"!

Gubernatorial:

MA-Gov: Charlie Baker, the 2010 Republican nominee for governor who's trying once again this year, appears to have won his party's nomination outright with a victory at the state GOP convention over the weekend. However, even though Baker took 83 percent of the delegates' votes, his little-known tea party rival, Mark Fisher, came just inches away from hitting the 15 percent mark he needed to earn a spot on the September primary ballot. Fisher, who only needed about six more votes out of over 2,500 cast, says he might sue to overturn the results; Baker, obviously, would like to have this all sewn up now.

NY-Gov: Siena: Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D): 61, Rob Astorino (R): 26. (Feb.: 64-22 Cuomo.)

PA-Gov: Wealthy businessman Tom Wolf is out with yet another ad, this time making the case that his company is "the largest distributor of kitchen cabinets in the nation" and produces "American-made products that are beating out Chinese imports." Wolf pivots to say that, as a result, he knows "that Pennsylvania can be a leader in manufacturing," but only if the state "invest[s] in education and a skilled workforce."

WI-Gov: Gravis Marketing: Mary Burke (D): 44, Gov. Scott Walker (R): 49.

House:

AZ-07: Phoenix City Councilman Michael Nowakowski, who had been considering a bid for retiring Rep. Ed Pastor's House seat, has decided to take a pass. Instead, he's endorsing state Rep. Ruben Gallego in the Democratic primary.

CO-03: After their first candidate, Pueblo County Commissioner Buffie McFadyen, abruptly entered and left the race in the space of a month, Democrats have found a replacement. Former state Lottery Director Abel Tapia, who also served for many years in both the state House and Senate, has decided to run against sophomore GOP Rep. Scott Tipton. Colorado's 3rd went for Romney 52-46, and Tapia's getting a late start, but he at least brings a legitimate political pedigree to the race.

NC-03: The Ending Spending Action Fund, a conservative group created by Nebraska billionaire Joe Ricketts, is running an ad targeting iconoclastic Republican Rep. Walter Jones, who faces a primary challenge from former George W. Bush aide Taylor Griffin. The spot, backed by a reported $78,000 buy, attacks Jones as a congressman who's "forgotten" the "North Carolina values" he once shared and is now "the most liberal Republican in Congress." Jones has survived many challenges from the right, but Griffin actually outraised him last quarter and seems to pose the most serious threat Jones has faced to date. The primary is May 6.

NY-04: New York's labor-backed Working Families Party is endorsing Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, who is running to succeed retiring Rep. Carolyn McCarthy. Rice has the support of the DCCC (and McCarthy herself), but she faces a Democratic primary with Nassau County Legislative Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams.

Other Races:

Special Elections: Johnny Longtorso covers Tuesday's upcoming action:

Alabama HD-53: This is an open Democratic seat in Birmingham. The candidates are Democrat Anthony "Alann" Johnson, a minister, and Republican Willie "W.A." Casey, a real estate broker. This district was eliminated in redistricting, so the winner here will have a short career in the House.

California SD-23: This is an open Republican seat located in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. The district has a Republican lean, voting 52-46 for Mitt Romney in 2012. There are five candidates running in this open primary, including Democrats Ameenah Fuller and Ron O'Donnell, Republicans Mike Morrell and Crystal Ruiz, and Libertarian Jeff Hewitt. Of the five, three hold elected office: Morrell is in the Assembly, Ruiz is the mayor of San Jacinto, and Hewitt is on the Calimesa City Council. Fuller ran for SD-25 in 2012, coming in third in the three-way open primary with 5 percent of the vote. O'Donnell is an educator and author.

Grab Bag:

Radio: Last week, the excellent Joe Sudbay invited me on to the Michelangelo Signorile Show on SiriusXM, which he was guest-hosting, to talk about the 2014 Senate picture. You can listen to our segment here, and a big thanks to Joe for having me on!

Senate: In response to the Koch brothers' manic spending spree, two major groups of Democratic allies are launching their own counter-attacks. The Senate Majority PAC is preparing to shell out $3 million to help Democrats in Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, and North Carolina, nearly as much as the $3.6 million the group had previously spent all cycle. Around $1 million is targeted for the Tarheel State; the rest will each get $500,000.

The only ad we have so far is from Colorado, where an earlier report indicated a much smaller buy. The spot lambastes the now-notorious Americans for Prosperity cookie-cutter commercial that's aired in over half a dozen races. A narrator invites viewers to "take a closer" look at those ads, explaining that the woman featured in them is "an actress," promoted by "insurance companies and out-of-state billionaires." These same people are supporting GOP Rep. Cory Gardner because he wans to "end Medicare's guarantee, giving billions in profits" to the insurance industry.

Meanwhile, a coalition of environmental groups that includes the Sierra Club and the Environmental Defense Fund is spending $5 million to oppose the Kochs, who after all made their fortune in the energy industry. Half will go to an 11-state field program while half will be spent on TV ads in four states: North Carolina, Iowa, Michigan, and Maine. Wait a minute, Maine? Yeah, annoyingly, the greens are trying to demonstrate some bipartisan cred by supporting Republican Sen. Susan Collins in addition to the three Democrats they're backing, but if they're going to waste their money like this, at least it's not on a competitive race.

In any event, you can view all the ads here, and unlike the Kochs', they aren't one-size-fits-all. Most are actually job-centric: Collins is praised for "confronting climate change that threatens our water" as footage of lobstermen rolls; Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley for "passing the bipartisan farm bill" and "boosting advanced bio-fuel and wind-power technologies"; and Michigan Rep. Gary Peters for fighting "for the auto rescue" and "investments in fuel efficiency." The spot on behalf of North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan is more explicitly environmental in focus, trashing attacks from "oil industry billionaires" and thanking Hagan for "holding corporate polluters accountable."

WATN?: Of course Blanche Lincoln is now lobbying for Sheldon Adelson. Of course.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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