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Leading Off:

MT-Sen: Just as things started to look better for appointed Democratic Sen. John Walsh, he got some very bad news on Wednesday. The New York Times reported that Walsh plagiarized at least one-fourth of his final paper to graduate from war college in 2007. The Times even has sections of Walsh's paper along with the original sources he allegedly copied from without citing or quoting. Walsh is denying that he did anything wrong intentionally, and was being treated for combat-related post traumatic stress disorder when he did the paper.

Plagiarism charges have sunk more than one campaign. A recent example is the 2010 Colorado gubernatorial election, where presumed Republican nominee and former Rep. Scott McInnis never recovered from a series of accusations that he had been paid for work he had plagiarized. McInnis ended up narrowly losing the primary to Some Dude Dan Maes. We'll see what happens with Walsh, who is already facing an uphill climb to keep his seat against Republican Rep. Steve Daines.

This story comes at a very bad time for Walsh, as a few recent polls showed him gaining ground. Just before the news hit, Gravis Marketing released a (probably now obsolete) survey showing Walsh down only 45-41, the closest result any publicly released poll has ever found here. But with the alleged plagiarism story dominating the news, Walsh is going to have a tough time keeping whatever gains he's made in the last few months, much less overtaking Daines. Skilled politicians and talented campaigns have come back from worse things, and we'll see soon if Walsh and his team have what it takes to recover and move on.


GA-Sen: On Tuesday night we got another Republican primary surprise, as wealthy businessman David Perdue defeated Rep. Jack Kingston in the Senate runoff by a tight 51-49 margin. Kingston had led in almost every runoff poll but in the end Perdue's strength in the Atlanta area was a little too much for the South Georgia-based Kingston to overcome.

Perdue will now take on Democrat Michelle Nunn, one of Team Blue's top recruits. Nunn has run a very good race and is doing well in the polls. However, Nunn will need to win a majority in November if she wants to avoid a dangerous January runoff with Perdue. As Taniel argued back in May, Nunn would need to run ahead of Perdue by anywhere from two to four points in order to avoid a runoff where Democratic turnout is expected to disproportionately drop. Both parties are expected to get involved big time here, and this should be a competitive fight.

And of course the best things to come after a big primary are usually cool results maps. Matthew Isbell gives us a lot of great stuff, with a look at turnout changes and areas where Kingston improved the most from the May primary. Kingston didn't show that much of an improvement in his South Georgia base, probably because he was already close to maxed out there. Kingston improved by at least 25 percent in many big Atlanta area counties, just a little less than what he needed in the end. As Isbell notes, Perdue also made gains on the south and eastern coasts, which probably also contributed to his upset.

Philip Bump of The Washington Post also has a lot of great interactive maps looking at both candidates' performance and turnout. In a tight race like this there are usually a lot of reasons why ended up as they did, and both Isbell and Bump's maps help us better understand how Perdue was able to pull it off.

KS-Sen: We've known for months about tea partying physician Milton Wolf's tendency to post pictures of dead and injured people on Facebook with inappropriate commentary. However, the Kansas Board of Healing Arts has finally gotten around to investigating the matter.

The announcement comes at an inopportune time for Wolf: His August 5 Republican primary against Sen. Pat Roberts is rapidly approaching, and this is probably the last thing he wants to talk about. I'll bet Wolf's supporters wish he just used Facebook like a normal person, and instead posted an endless number of quizzes (seriously, I don't care what West Wing extra you are), pictures of his lunch, and articles he didn't actually bother to read.

NC-Sen: Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis has been a pretty lackluster fundraiser so far, but he'll be getting some much needed air support soon. The Koch-backed Freedom Partners has reserved $3.4 million for August 6 to September 2. Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, whom Tillis is hoping to unseat, has made a hefty reservation of her own to the tune of $4.4 million for the final weeks of the race.

NH-Sen: Anyone who wondered if the GOP was ever going to push back on the growing narrative that Scott Brown is nowhere in his Senate bid in far northern Massachusetts New Hampshire, can wonder no more. A group called "Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire" (oy...) contracted with Magellan, and ... lo and behold! ... they find the best numbers for Scott Brown in a long while. They have Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen staked to a five-point lead (46-41). They also claim that the undecided voters are strongly anti-Obama. Of course, there is no shortage of contradictory evidence here, so this single poll is unlikely to change many minds. (Steve Singiser)

VA-Sen: If the new poll out this week from Roanoke is on the mark (and their track record makes that a legitimate "if"), Ed Gillespie may be the 2014 award winner for the most over-hyped candidate of the cycle. The former RNC bigwig jumped in the race at the start of the year and was greeted with immediate media attention, if not adulation. But he has shown no traction in the polls, and the Roanoke poll is the most extreme example of that to date. Roanoke has incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Warner leading by 25 points (47-22), with Libertarian Robert Sarvis snagging 5 percent of the vote. The one ray of hope for Gillespie believers is that staggering number of undecideds, but there hasn't been a poll in five months showing Gillespie within single digits. (Steve Singiser)

Senate ads:

AK-Sen: A new PAC called Alaska's Energy, America's Values goes on the air for former state Attorney General Dan Sullivan ahead of the August 19 Republican primary, portraying Sullivan as the best and most electable choice.

AR-Sen: Americans for Prosperity once again portrays Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor as an Obama loving big government supporter. Pryor is out with a positive ad featuring a military widow thanking him for getting her family back the military benefits they were owed after they were taken away, and changing the law to prevent similar things from happening again. Patriot Majority also goes after Republican Rep. Tom Cotton on Medicare.

KY-Sen: Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell's spot has a local business owner praising the senator for saving jobs.

LA-Sen: Patriot Majority goes after Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy's past support for an Obamacare-like plan in Louisiana, portraying him as untrustworthy for opposing it now. Cassidy has his own ad tying Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu to Obama and Obamacare.

NC-Sen: Patriot Majority attacks Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis for prioritizing the Koch brother's needs over those of children and seniors.

NM-Sen: Democratic Sen. Tom Udall is not seen as vulnerable, but he has two good ads out anyway. They both highlight his work on helping soldiers suffering from breathing in the toxic air caused by burn pits, piles of trash that are covered with jet fuel and ignited.

TN-Sen: Former Sen. Fred Thompson vouches for his successor, Republican Lamar Alexander. This may be the first ad featuring Thompson in years that doesn't involve him trying to sell anyone on a reverse mortgage.


FL-Gov: Just after SurveyUSA reversed course and gave Democrat Charlie Crist his first lead in several weeks, they got a little bit of corroborating evidence from Quinnipiac. The new Q poll puts Crist ahead of Republican Gov. Rick Scott 45-40, almost identical to the 46-40 spread SUSA found yesterday.

But ... there is a pretty big caveat. They also tested a three-way tabulation with Libertarian Adrian Wyllie. When the third-party candidate is added to the mix, Crist's lead is cut by more than half (39-37-9). It's fair to draw two conclusions here: (1) voters are growing a bit disenchanted with both major-party contenders, and (2) Wylie and Crist are splitting, to some extent, the anti-incumbent vote.

Scott's team wasted little time in rushing out a poll of their own, taken on behalf of "Let's Get To Work" (Scott's pet PAC). The poll, conducted by Fabrizio, Lee, and Associates, gives Scott a 50-45 lead in a two-way tabulation, and a 45-41 edge when Wyllie is tossed into the mix. Some of the numbers seem a tad lofty (Scott with a 51 percent approval rating?!), to be sure. But Scott clearly did not want the news cycle to be all about Quinnipiac and SUSA, thus the rush to dump some contradictory numbers. (Steve Singiser)

HI-Gov: Normally we don't pay too much attention to radio ads, but this one for Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie stars none other than Barack Obama. We'll see if the president produces a TV spot for Abercrombie before the August 9 primary.

ME-Gov: All candidates' fundraising (May 28-July 15).

SC-Gov: Much like with Florida, new data out from the Palmetto State hints that third-party candidates could have a giant impact on a competitive gubernatorial matchup. In a new Palmetto Politics poll, incumbent Republican Gov. Nikki Haley has a sizable lead (53-40) over Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen in a two-way battle. But when independent candidate Tom Ervin (a former GOP state legislator) and Libertarian Steve French get added to the survey, Haley's lead plummets to just four points (46-42-5).

If the idea that Sheheen gains points despite the inclusion of two other candidates seems odd, it should. Though it is not readily apparent, it looks like the pollsters here used one sample for the two-way tab, and either a subset or another sample for the four-way tab (look at the different sample sizes). (Steve Singiser)

WI-Gov: A new poll from Marquette Law School's respected polling operation shows that the race between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democrat Mary Burke remains a coin flip. Walker took 46 percent of the vote to Burke's 45 percent in the poll. Walker's job approval and his personal favorability ratings are both slightly underwater, with both mired in the mid-40s. Interestingly, Obama has better favorability ratings than Walker (and not by a tiny amount), implying that the race here is more likely to be a referendum on Walker than it is on the president. Also, there is one unusual note, which was highlighted by a tweet from the MU Law School twitter account: Burke actually takes the fractional lead among "likely voters" (47-46).

Interestingly, one potential Burke point of attack, the "John Doe" scandal, doesn't seem to be a huge albatross for Walker ... yet. Only 42 percent think it is a sign of something "serious," whereas 54 percent say it is "just more politics." (Steve Singiser)

Gubernatorial ads:

FL-Gov: The Republican Party of Florida once again hits Democrat Charlie Crist on education. Crist in turn attacks Republican Gov. Rick Scott on education cuts.

IL-Gov: Republican rich guy Bruce Rauner's spot features a series of negative headlines about Quinn on the economy and ethics, then presents himself as a fresh face.

NM-Gov: Republican Gov. Susana Martinez emphasizes her record on education.

RI-Gov: Former Obama administration official Clay Pell talks about introducing more computer programing to high schools, to better prepare students for advanced jobs. Fellow Democratic contender and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras portrays himself as helping revitalize Providence after taking over during a tough economy, and criticizes primary rival Treasurer Gina Raimondo for making it sound like he caused the problem in the first place.


GA-01: Republicans also held runoffs in three safely red Georgia seats. In the coastal First District, state Sen. Buddy Carter defeated physician Bob Johnson. The Club for Growth spent big here against Carter, attempting to paint him as a liberal, but this time it wasn't enough. The Republican Senate primary probably boosted turnout here enough to keep the more establishment flavored Carter in the game, allowing him to avoid the fate of establishment candidates in other recent Southern runoffs.

GA-10: In this central-east Georgia seat, which includes parts of Augusta and Athens, pastor Jody Hice beat trucking company executive Michael Collins 54-46. Collins, the son of former Rep. Mac Collins, had spent most of the race as the frontrunner. However, Hice's ties to religious conservatives probably played a big part in his victory. Hice has a long history of demeaning gays and Muslims among other groups, and he is likely to make news on Capitol Hill for all the wrong reasons.

GA-11: In this exurban Atlanta district, state Sen. Barry Loudermilk crushed former Rep. Bob Barr 66-34. Barr, who left the Republican party for a while and was the 2008 Libertarian Party's presidential nominee, was hoping he could return to the House under the flag of his old party. However, it seems that voters weren't ready to forgive Barr's apostasies.

HI-01: We highlighted a VoteVets ad for state Rep. Mark Takai ahead of the August 9 Democratic primary, and now we know that the spot will be worth $100,000- not a measly sum in Hawaii.

MI-08: The August 5 primary for this Lansing-area seat is rapidly approaching, and EPIC-MRA surveys the Republican match-up. They give former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop a 45-33 lead over state Rep. Tom McMillin. If these numbers are right (though with many of these Michigan pollsters you can never be sure) McMillin will have a tough time breaking out in the next two weeks: Bishop has outspent him so far and has much more money at his disposal for the homestretch

MT-AL: On behalf of Human Events, Gravis takes a look at the open seat race for Montana's lone House district, but the numbers aren't too good for Team Blue. They find Republican former state Sen. Ryan Zinke leading former Congressional aide John Lewis (or John Lewis 2.0 if you will) 47-35. We have many caveats about Gravis, but these aren't implausible numbers at all: Now-Republican Rep. Steve Daines won this seat 53-43 in 2012.

PA-06: Physician and Democratic nominee Manan Trivedi has a new internal poll out from Lake Research Partners, but it doesn't look incredibly promising. Trivedi trails Republican Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello 35-30; In January Trivedi was down 36-34. The race predictably shifts in Trivedi's favor when voters are read messages about both candidates, but it's rarely a good sign if the best poll you can come up with shows you losing ground and still trailing.

House ads:

FL-02: Democrat Gwen Graham has two new spots. In both spots, she uses local businesses as a metaphor for how Congress should operate.

MI-03: Republican Rep. Justin Amash's positive spot portrays him as a no-vote misser, liberty defender, Constitution lover. I love how at the beginning the narrator works to install pride in the viewer by declaring, "In West Michigan, we believe in a hard days work, integrity, and doing what's right." Just once, I'd love to hear about a community that proudly believes in coasting, lies, and doing what's wrong.

Other races:

Lieutenant Governors: Elections for state lieutenant governorships are often overlooked, as are the offices themselves. However, even when they do not have many formal powers, the job is very important to pay attention to. Lieutenant governors are often prime recruits for governor or Senate. And every so often, a lieutenant governor (or in states without one, a secretary of state or legislative leader), is called on to take over the reins of the state government if the governor dies, resigns, or is removed from office. Eight current governors ascended to the office after the previous incumbent left early.

Stephen Wolf takes a look at 2014's lieutenant governor elections, analyzing races where the lieutenant governor is elected separately from the governor. He also looks at states without lieutenant governors and sees who is next in line for the governorship. It's a great read for an unappreciated office. For another take on this year's lieutenant governors elections, see Louis Jacobson's piece at Governing.

PA Senate: Democrats have not held a majority in the Pennsylvania state Senate in a very long time, but the party is hoping that 2014 will finally be their year. James O'Toole of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gives a good lay of the land for this year's contests. Republicans have only a small 27 to 23 edge and if Democrats take two seats plus the governorship, the Democratic lieutenant governor would be able to break the tie in favor of Team Blue.

However, this won't be easy. The map favors Republicans: Our preliminary numbers say that the median Senate seat went for Romney 51-48, about eight points to the right of the state. Democrats are also left defending some very red turf. However, Democrats do have some other pickup opportunities, and Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's considerable unpopularity should give Team Blue a boost. A lot will need to go right for Democrats to take the majority, but it looks like they have a real shot this time.

San Antonio Mayor: Following Democratic Mayor Julián Castro's confirmation as the new Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the San Antonio City Council was required by law to choose one of its ten members to serve out the rest of Castro's two-year term. On Tuesday, the Council selected Ivy Taylor, who will become the first African American woman to hold the post. Taylor has pledged not to run for a full two-year term in May of 2015, giving us an open seat race in the country's seventh largest city.

Special elections: There was not much to see in Tuesday's special election for Connecticut's 122nd state House district. Republican realtor Ben McGorty blew past Democratic Shelton School Board member Arlene Liscinsky, winning 75-25. Romney won this seat 55-44.

Grab bag:

2Q Fundraising: The Roll Call team once again does invaluable work by collecting the second quarter fundraising reports for Senate campaigns, and putting it all together in one handy chart. While House fundraising reports are all digital and collected on the FEC's site, the Senate reports are often much harder to come by. You can check out our companion House fundraising chart here.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Jul 24, 2014 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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