Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest banner
Want the scoop on hot races around the country? Get the digest emailed to you each weekday morning. Sign up here.
Leading Off:

NC-Sen: Despite some last-minute indicators that suggested he might fall short, state House Speaker Thom Tillis cleared the 40 percent mark necessary to avoid a runoff in Tuesday night's primary. Tillis took 46 percent of the vote to earn the Republican nomination, while tea partying physician Greg Brannon, his nearest opponent, managed just 27 percent in a crowded field.

Last year, Tillis became the establishment pick by default, after D.C. Republicans failed to recruit an alternative, and his stewardship of the unpopular state legislature may prove an albatross. But heavy outside spending and Obamacare-related woes have driven down the approval ratings of Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan. This will all make for a very competitive race, and we rate the November general election a Tossup.

Head below the fold for results from further downballot in North Carolina and Ohio.

NC-02: Singer and activist Clay Aiken's own campaign seemed gloomy about his primary prospects, but Aiken's celebrity appeared to narrowly beat back businessman Keith Crisco's money by a 41 to 39 margin with 99 percent of precincts reporting. Crisco, however, isn't conceding and says he'll review his options on Wednesday. If Aiken hangs on, he'll still be a serious underdog against GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers in this dark red district, though Ellmers won her own primary against a no-name challenger, Frank Roche, by an underwhelming 59-41 spread. We rate the contest Likely Republican.

NC-03: Iconoclastic Republican Rep. Walter Jones, who's often been at odds with his own party, particularly on foreign policy, fended off a challenge from former D.C. hand Taylor Griffin. Despite heavy outside spending on his behalf, Taylor lost 51-45.

NC-06: The race to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Howard Coble will head to a runoff, as Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger, Jr. fell just short of the cutoff with 37 percent of the vote. He'll square off against Baptist pastor Mark Walker, who finished second with 24, on July 15. The winner will be a heavy favorite against Democrat Laura Fjeld, a former UNC administrator.

NC-07: Former state Sen. David Rouzer, who lost the closest congressional race in the nation last cycle to Rep. Mike McIntyre, will have a glide path to the seat this time. He defeated New Hanover County Commissioner Woody White 54-40, and with McIntyre retiring, this heavily Republican seat is a guaranteed GOP pickup.

NC-12: State Rep. Alma Adams, who had the backing of EMILY's List and was the lone woman in the race, beat back a crowded field to win the Democratic nomination outright, with 41 of the vote. State Sen. Malcolm Graham was second with 26. Adams also won the special primary by a similar margin. The general elections for both races will take place in November, and since Adams is a lock in this dark blue district, she'll get to fill the final two months of ex-Rep. Mel Watt's term.

OH-14: Freshman GOP Rep. David Joyce turned back a challenge on his right flank from state Rep. Matt Lynch, albeit by an unimpressive 55-45 score. He'll face Democratic attorney Michael Wager in the fall in a race we rate as Likely Republican.


IA-Sen: Yet another previously-unknown super PAC is making its debut: American Heartland, and the only thing we know so far about them is that they don't care much for Mark Jacobs. They're out with a new ad that hits Jacobs, who's running in the GOP primary, for allegedly supporting cap-and-trade and for long-ago donations to Jon Corzine and Arlen Specter (post-party switch).

American Heartland also commissioned a poll through GOP pollster Harper Polling, which shows Jacobs trailing Joni Ernst in the primary. Ernst is at 33 (just short of the 35 necessary to avoid a nominating convention), Jacobs is at 23, and Sam Clovis is at 14. (David Jarman)

KY-Sen: With the GOP primary looking more and more like a mere speed bump, Mitch McConnell is already pivoting toward the general election, with a positive spot that focuses on all the Kentucky jobs he's saved—or else he's running damage control after his comments last month that it "not his job" to help one county with its employment problems. It's a $100,000 buy running statewide. (David Jarman)

MN-Sen: In Democratic Sen. Al Franken's first ad of his re-election campaign, the owner of a tool company praises him for "working to connect community colleges with manufacturers, to help businesses fill the high-skill jobs that are open right now."

Meanwhile, in a slightly disturbing spot, Republican businessman Mike McFadden goes the whole "have your kids tell everyone how cheap you are route." Here, though, McFadden goes a lot further than usual, with his son Conor recounting a time his father insisted on removing stitches Conor had received in a hockey injury himself, rather than letting a nurse do it for $100. (If he's so cheap, why are his kids playing hockey and not basketball?) And because he skimps on his children's medical care, McFadden says he's the perfect guy to take on Obamacare. Yipes.

NE-Sen: Three different hard-right third-party groups are out with ads in the fast-approaching Nebraska Senate Republican primary. One is from the Senate Conservatives Fund, which is a very generic-sounding positive ad for Ben Sasse, touting his anti-Obamacare outsider cred. Another group, the Freedom Pioneers Action Network (which seems to be a mad lib made up of pieces of the names of other existing PACs), is running a 15-second anti-Sasse ad, that hits him for having previously called Obamacare "an important first step."

The most interesting, though, is from the Madison Project, and it's actually a radio ad. We don't typically don't mention those, but here's an unusual red flag: It's the first ad that's paid attention to Sid Dinsdale, a banker who just self-funded nearly $1 million for the stretch run, hitting him as a "liberal Republican" and "counterfeit conservative." The spot's existence certainly suggests that the frontrunners (Sasse and Shane Osborn) have beaten each other to a pulp to the extent that the Madison Project, which has endorsed Sasse, is worried about a repeat of the 2012 primary. In that race, previously-unheralded third-wheel Deb Fischer sprinted across the scorched earth and over the finish line in the last weeks. (David Jarman)

OR-Sen: With Oregon's May 20 primary looming, the Taxpayer Association of Oregon has a new poll of the Republican contest for the right to take on Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley. The survey, conducted by Wenzel Strategies, gives physician Monica Wehby a 43-22 lead over state Rep. Jason Conger. The only other publicly released poll showed a tossup. We'll know soon enough if Wehby has actually taken the lead, or if we'll have another survey to add to Wenzel's long list of misses. (Jeff Singer)


CO-Gov: Colorado's Democratic governor, John Hickenlooper, widely outraised all of his GOP rivals in the first quarter of the year, and indeed, he actually took in more money than all four of his opponents combined. Hick raised $963,000, with his nearest opponent, ex-Rep. Tom Tancredo, pulling in just $279,000. Ex-Rep. Bob Beauprez raised $224,000, Secretary of State Scott Gessler $121,000, and state Sen. Mike Kopp $106,000. As you'd expect, Hickenlooper has a wide cash lead, too: $1.65 million, versus just $319,000 for all the Republicans put together. (Beauprez leads with just $118,000.)

FL-Gov: The Republican Party of Florida is out with an odd ad that seems to be an attempt to ratfuck the primary (or maybe to just get Dems to throw up their hands and stay home) by reminding voters of Charlie Crist's Republican past—or more specifically, how he encouraged Bill Clinton to resign in the wake of the Lewinsky affair, against the backdrop of the 1998 Senate race (which he lost badly to Bob Graham). I'm not sure how many voters with a pulse are still unaware that Crist used to be a Republican at this point, though.

Meanwhile, the Rick Scott campaign is out with its second Spanish-language TV ad, which is a translated version of an English-language spot that hit Crist for the bad economy during his administration. It's backed with a $500,000 buy in four markets. (David Jarman)

KY-Gov: On Tuesday, Attorney General Jack Conway, who'd long been interested in running for governor, became the first Democrat to formally launch a bid for the seat, which will be open next year because incumbent Gov. Steve Beshear is term-limited. (He has a welcome video here.) Conway, who tapped state Rep. Sannie Overly as his running mate, handily won re-election as attorney general in 2011 but badly lost a bid for Senate the previous year to Rand Paul.

Running for state office once again will offer more comfortable turf, but Conway will almost certainly face both a competitive Democratic primary and, should he earn his party's nomination, a hard-fought general election. Other potential heavyweight Democrats include state Auditor Adam Edelen, former Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo, and state House Speaker Greg Stumbo. On the GOP side, former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner is already in the race, while others, such as Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, are still considering.

MD-Gov: Attorney General Doug Gansler has a pair of new ads out as the June 24 Democratic primary approaches. In the first spot, Gansler talks up his actions to fight pollution and pledges to do more as governor. His second ad focuses on education, with Gansler promising emphasize "skill over seniority" when it comes to teachers. If you look closely at the end of the this spot, one of the kids is wearing a shirt that says "Homework? Ain't nobody got time for that." It's unclear whether that would also be a part of Gansler's education initiative. (Jeff Singer)

ME-Gov: A new poll from Critical Insights finds Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud edging GOP Gov. Paul LePage 37-36, with independent Eliot Cutler at 18. That represents a jump for both major-party candidates since September, when Michaud led 33-30, and a decline for Cutler, who stood at 24 percent at the time.


CA-07: A new DCCC robopoll finds Democratic Rep. Ami Bera taking 47 percent in next month's top-two primary, while his three GOP opponents combine for 46. As we noted recently when one of those Republican hopefuls, ex-Rep. Doug Ose, released an internal, that's very good news for Bera, who saw his vote share rise 11 points between June and November in 2012.

But the main thrust of the DCCC's memo is the primary, where Ose leads former congressional staffer Igor Birman by just a 22-17 margin, with activist Elizabeth Emken at 7. That's a lot tighter than the 24-8 edge Ose found for himself last month, and indeed, the D-Trip talks up Birman's chances, saying he only has 50 percent name recognition, versus three quarters for Ose, and that Birman's more popular with voters who know him compared to Ose (though exact numbers aren't provided).

Bera would undoubtedly prefer to face the ultra-conservative Birman instead of Ose, who has a more moderate reputation, so you can almost view this as the DCCC conducting an internal on behalf of Birman, in order to prop him up. But the fact that Democrats have had to do so isn't a positive sign for Birman, who trailed Ose six-to-one in cash-on-hand at the end of the first quarter. Tea-flavored enthusiasm may yet power Birman to victory, but he still trails Ose regardless and would have to stage a come-from-behind upset in order to win.

CA-21: Democrat Amanda Renteria, who was just the subject of a big New York Times profile this week, has released her first TV ads of the race. One is in English and one is in Spanish, but both are biographical spots featuring the candidate and her parents, with an emphasis on Renteria's ties to the district.

In the English spot, Renteria, a former congressional staffer, says she "came home to teach and coach at my old high school" and pledges her priorities will be "more water, more jobs, and great schools." (This is a heavily agricultural district.) The messaging is a little more pointed in the Spanish-language ad, with Renteria's dad saying, "We worked in the fields so our daughters could have a better life." Renteria has to get by fellow Democrat John Hernandez in next month's primary before she can take on GOP Rep. David Valadao, so she's looking to up her profile and avoid any problems with the otherwise pitiful Hernandez's residual name recognition.

CA-25: Democratic candidate and podiatrist Lee Rogers has his second ad out. The narrator hits both his prospective Republican opponents, state Sen. Steve Knight and former state Sen. Tony Strickland, as typical politicians who are too conservative for the district. The ad spends more time attacking Strickland, who looks like a better bet to advance to the general, than Knight. (Jeff Singer)

CA-33: Democrat and former Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel has a new ad up in the very crowded race to replace Henry Waxman. Greuel briefly introduces her husband and son and quickly pivots to saying "I want to fight for your family in Congress." She then lays out her support for a number of progressive policies. It's not a bad ad but feels a little disjointed, almost like Greuel is trying to cram too many positive ideas into one 30-second spot. (Jeff Singer)

GA-01: Well, okay then. This is physician Bob Johnson, one of the Republican hopefuls running for Georgia's 1st Congressional District, at a candidate forum in February:

"Now this is going to sound outrageous, I'd rather see another terrorist attack, truly I would, than to give up my liberty as an American citizen," he said, according to a video clip obtained by POLITICO. "Give me liberty or give me death. Isn't that what Patrick Henry said at the founding of our republic?"

He criticized the TSA for "indoctrinating generations of Americans to walk through a line and be prodded and probed by uniform personnel, agents of the government, like sheep."

Politico claims that Johnson apologized in a statement after these remarks came to light, but that doesn't appear to be the case. According to the excerpts provided by the Politico, all he offered was "I said something stupid and should have chosen my words more carefully."

MT-AL: Former state Senate Minority Leader Corey Stapleton is going on the air as the crowded June 3 Republican primary quickly approaches. His ad features Stapleton's wife, Terry, praising him for his military service and conservative values. The campaign says it's spending about $80,000 to run the ad for two weeks. (Jeff Singer)

NY-11: GOP Rep. Mike Grimm has always been delusional, considering that he views every law enforcement investigation of his shady activities as part of a grand partisan conspiracy to annihilate him. So it's not surprising that he told Geraldo (heh) that he thinks he's "one of the luckiest members of Congress," despite that 20-count indictment for tax evasion hanging over his head.

But Grimm did offer one revealing remark. When asked about his internal polling, Grimm evaded, saying: "Listen, I'm going to fight these charges all the way and I'm going to win my election. This is not the first time I've had a lot on my plate." Evidently he's not delusional enough to pretend like his numbers look good.

NY-22: Republican Rep. Richard Hanna faces a primary from the right in his swingy upstate district from Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, and while there hasn't been much indication yet that he's in real danger, he doesn't have a Democratic opponent in November, so he might as well spend his money now. Hanna's out with a TV ad that's oriented toward protecting his right flank, decrying the ACA and "bigger government" in general. (David Jarman)

PA-13: An apparently brand-new PAC, Building a Better PA, is running an ad in the Philadelphia market boosting state Rep. Brendan Boyle in the Dem primary in the 13th. The ad touts Boyle's working-class bona fides, but also mentions his support for Planned Parenthood, seemingly a rebuttal of the Daylin Leach ad last week that hit Boyle as anti-choice. The footage appears to have been provided by some McConnelling on the part of the Boyle campaign. (David Jarman)

Grab Bag:

Demographics: Over the weekend, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel released a long-form exploration of political polarization in the Milwaukee metropolitan area and how that contrasts with other metro areas (short answer: it's even starker than usual in Milwaukee). The lessons of the story—growing polarization between the cities and the exurbs—may not surprise any faithful Daily Kos Elections readers, especially those who are enthusiastic users of Dave's Redistricting App. But the article sets an impressively high bar for infographics, with a great array of precinct-level maps that put the current segregation in stark relief, along with charts showing polarization growing over time. (David Jarman)

President-by-LD: Stephen Wolf has been creating tons of awesome interactive maps visualizing the 2012 presidential results by state legislative chamber. Now, all 58 maps, covering 27 states, have been complied in one place. You'll definitely want to bookmark this, since we'll be adding new maps as we release results for new states. (Jeff Singer)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Wed May 07, 2014 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

Your Email has been sent.