On this day 175 years ago, Chief Justice John Marshall died at the age of 79. It is said that the crack of the Liberty Bell was reopened when it was tolled in honor of his passing.
Now that we have enjoyed a little dose of political trivia (it is also George W. Bush's 64th birthday, for what it is worth), on with the seriously super-sized Tuesday version of the Wrap...
IN-Sen: Ellsworth to the air to define himself to voters
Smart strategy from the campaign of Democratic Senate nominee Brad Ellsworth. The congressman from southern Indiana has decided to take to the airwaves early, in an effort to define himself before Dan Coats and the NRSC can define him. His introductory ad, set in what appears to be an abandoned factory, strikes an outsider's sentiment that is much more likely to stick with the relatively junior Congressman, especially when compared to his longtime senator/lobbyist opponent. Ellsworth has trailed in most early polling in the race, but most rate the race close to a toss-up because Ellsworth has considerably more upside than the almost universally-known Coats.
KY-Sen: Is Paul killing his "outsider" street cred?
This has been a not-so-good news day for Rand Paul. Not only did new data out from PPP suggest that Democrat Jack Conway has moved into a tie with him, but he might have cost himself a lot of credibility with the Tea Party crowd that ushered him to national prominence. At issue was the big-dollar fundraiser for Paul that he attended, accompanied by Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell. Paul had gained a lot of yardage with the teabagger crowd for his incredibly fierce criticism of bailouts, going as far as to suggest that he would not accept contributions from any bailout-supporting Senators. The June 24th fundraiser, of course, was filled with such folks.
NV-Sen: Anti-Reid group continues drilling the incumbent
The right-wing 527 group American Crossroads has decided to extend their independent expenditure ad cracking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid into its fourth week. The group, which is claiming it will drop eight figures worth of support into GOP Senate challenges, seems to be gunning for Reid, whose electoral fortunes have been buoyed in recent weeks due to the absolute train wreck that is the candidacy of GOP nominee Sharron Angle.
NC-Sen: GOP incumbent still endangered, according to PPP poll
Local boys PPP are back at it in the Tar Heel State, and they see Republican incumbent Richard Burr in no small amount of peril heading into the summer. Burr still leads Democratic nominee Elaine Marshall, but that lead is just five points, and Burr is well below 50% of the vote (38-33). Libertarian Michael Beitler does quite well as a third-party option, scoring 10% of the vote. Beitler also scored at 6% of the vote in a recent SurveyUSA poll.
OH-Sen: Portman takes a hit for flip-flop two decades in the making
The danger of being a longtime officeholder running in this cycle is that there is a long trail of votes and statements to mine. That has apparently tripped up Ohio Republican Rob Portman, who is fending off charges of hypocrisy in the wake of a new TV ad released by his campaign. The ad, ripping a page out of the GOP generic playbook, rips the "job killing" cap-and-trade bill. Only one small problem: the campaign for Portman's Democratic rival, Lee Fisher, point out that Congressman Portman was much more amenable to the concept, even authoring a 1996 column in which he extolled cap-and-trade as a market-based incentive to fix the environment.
WV-Sen: GOP threatens lawsuit, but might not need to file it
As might have been expected, the Republican Party in West Virginia is now threatening legal action to force the state to move the special election to replace the late Democratic Senator Robert Byrd. It is a dicey legal challenge, seeing how there was state court precedent for Sec. of State Natalie Tennant's determination last week that the election needed to wait until 2012. It might be a moot point, however, as there is now a growing consensus among Democratic political forces (namely in the state party and organized labor) to move the election to 2010. They also are pushing for Manchin to go ahead and appoint himself, even though electoral history shows that to be a move of limited success in the long term (only one Governor has successfully defended his own appointment at the ballot box in the last 80 years).
WI-Sen: Millionaire GOP frontrunner walks delicate GOP-Teabagger line
An interesting profile in Politico today underscores the delicate dance for GOP candidates this year, as they try to claim the mantle of their party while at the same time maintaining the outsider cred necessary to earn the love (and, more importantly, campaign energy) of the teabagger set. Millionaire GOP frontrunner Ron Johnson is profiled, and his discomfort at trying to embrace the tea party movement while not being labelled as the "tea party candidate" is pretty palpable. The palpable discomfort is mutual, however. Local teabagger leaders are interviewed, and they feel compelled to sing the praises of longshot candidate Dave Westlake, a sign that they are uncomfortable about being associated with the clear-cut frontrunner for the "establishment".
FL-24: GOP internal poll shows undecided the big leader
Who is going to emerge as the Republican alternative to Democratic incumbent Suzanne Kosmas? According to an internal poll for GOP businessman Craig Miller, the identity of the frontrunner is far from clear. Miller's own poll, unsurprisingly, gives him the lead, but with just 17% of the vote. State legislator Sandy Adams trails with 11% of the vote, while local city commissioner Karen Diebel is back at 3%. Two-thirds of voters, meanwhile, are undecided, meaning that there is a load of fluidity left in a race that has seven weeks to go.
NY-01: Is Cox on the ropes?
When Nixon grandson Chris Cox (also the son of NY-GOP chairman) announced his candidacy, amid a pair of already legitimate GOP contenders, it raised a few eyebrows. Now, he is raising eyebrows again, but for all the wrong reasons. The bulk of his advisory corps, which read like a "Who's Who" of the McCain '08 staff, has walked over the last week. Cox is in the midst of trying to gather signatures to appear on the ballot, and probably could have lived without this high-profile exodus from his campaign.
OH-17: Traficant blocked from ballot. A nation weeps
Sheesh...couldn't the petition verification process in Ohio taken into account the need of political journalists everywhere to enjoy a little entertainment?! Tragically, it looks like we will not have former Congressman/prison inmate Jim Traficant to kick around during the election. His petitions to appear on the ballot in the eastern Ohio-based 17th district as an Independent, were denied, as he apparently came just 107 valid signatures shy of making the cut. He submitted more than 3000 signatures (needing 2099), but over one-third of his signatures were invalid, leaving him out in the cold. Traficant, of course, is appealing the decision.
TN-08: Strong Dem contender has monster funding quarter
On paper, the open-seat Tennessee 8th district being abandoned by Democrat John Tanner ought to be an easy flip for the GOP. Democrats remain cautiously optimistic here, however. Part of that optimism is due to the candidacy of Roy Herron, who hasn't put a wheel wrong in the first several months of the campaign. One aspect of his candidacy getting a lot of positive attention is his fundraising prowess. Herron announced a haul of more than $350K for the second quarter, and also announced that he has kept more than $1.2 million on hand. This is especially important, because the expensive and brutal GOP primary is liable to leave a wounded standard-bearer for the other side after the early August primary season concludes in the Volunteer State.
CO-Gov: Insurgent GOP candidate in very hot water, faces fines
Dan Maes, the insurgent Republican candidate who is trying to teabag establishment GOP frontrunner Scott McInnis, is facing a record fine for misuse of campaign funds, after admitting to several charges made by the Colorado Secretary of State's office. According to the complaint, Maes was reimbursing himself in the five-figure range for things like mileage. He also had a couple of other finance snafus, which also added to the fine, which totalled over twenty-five grand.
GA-Gov: Race tightens for the GOP in Peach State showdown
If a new poll conducted late last week by Insider Advantage is to be believed, the Republican gubernatorial primary in Georgia is now a true toss-up. Longtime frontrunner John Oxendine, the state's Insurance Commissioner, is now dead even with Secretary of State Karen Handel, both of whom register 18% of the vote. Conservative Congressman Nathan Deal hangs back by a few points, sitting at 12% of the vote.
MD-Gov: Insurgent GOP candidate goes for a theme with his LG pick
Businessman Brian Murphy, in the midst of what is assuredly a longshot candidacy against former GOP Governor Robert Ehrlich, has decided to go with an anti-corruption theme via his selection of a running mate. Murphy gave the nod to former FBI anti-corruption officer Mike Ryman. Murphy and Ehrlich will square off in an August primary to take on Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley.
MA-Gov: Democratic L.G. recovering from campaign-related incident
Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Massachusetts' Democratic Lt. Governor Timothy Murray, who is convalescing from heat-related illness suffered through a weekend of parade appearances in the Bay State. Murray is the running mate of Governor Deval Patrick, who faces challenges from both Republican Charlie Baker and Dem-turned-Indie candidate Tim Cahill in November.
MN-Gov: Independent group going after Emmer in summer ad campaign
The Democratic primary to determine a challenger for GOP nominee Tom Emmer in the state of Minnesota is still weeks away, but a left-of-center interest group is not waiting. They want to soften up Emmer before the nominee gets named. That is why the group, known as the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, has taken to the air with a half-million dollar ad buy aimed at criticizing Emmer for his close ties to Governor Tim Pawlenty. Three Democrats (former Senator Mark Dayton,
former state House speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, and former state legislator Matt Entenza) will compete for the party nomination in a primary scheduled for August 10th.
Pretty quiet day in the House of Ras, in contrast to the filled-to-the-brim nature of the Wrap today. Only a pair of news polls get released, probably owing to the Ras-sies not polling on the holiday weekend. Furthermore, the RR gang polls two races on no one's target lists (Oklahoma Senate, Kansas Governor).
KS-Gov: Sam Brownback (R) 59%, Tom Holland (D) 31%
OK-Sen: Sen. Tom Coburn (R) 62%, Mark Myles (D) 27%
OK-Sen: Sen. Tom Coburn (R) 65%, Jim Rogers (D) 26%