A heaping helping of offerings from the campaign trail greet the political junkies of America in a fitting kickoff to the penultimate week before Netroots Nation.
(Brief plug: You really should go. It is going to be incredible)
As Monday evening moseys along, we see new data from one of the most vulnerable GOP districts in the nation (color me skeptical about it), as well as dueling endorsements lighting up the Democratic primary in the state of Michigan. Two top-flight northeastern GOP contenders for Governor step in it to various degrees, while the Democrats may do something on the gubernatorial front that they haven't done in almost a century (and it's not a good thing).
All this (and more!) on the Monday edition of the Wrap....
AK-Sen: Murkowski to debate Senate primary rival
Here is a curious move for an incumbent to make, especially in a primary election--Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski is agreeing to debate her teabagging primary opponent, Joe Miller. The incumbent, seeking her second full term after her 2003 appointment, agreed to a trio of debates with the Palin-endorsed Miller. The debates will take place in an eight-day whirlwind, beginning exactly two weeks prior to their late August primary.
CA-Sen: Fiorina into a narrow lead, according to late SUSA poll
A late breaking poll this evening from SurveyUSA becomes among the first polls in the cycle to suggest that Republican nominee Carly Fiorina has taken a narrow lead over incumbent Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer. The poll has Fiorina at 47% of the vote, with Boxer at 45%. The poll was conducted on behalf of a CBS affiliate in the Bay Area.
FL-Sen: LeMieux bucks the man who appointed him, backs Rubio
This has been expected since Charlie Crist ditched the Republican Party a few months back, but the former right-hand man for the Governor has made it clear who he is backing in November, and it isn't the nouveau Independent who once employed him. Senator George LeMieux, appointed to the seat as a placeholder in the wake of the resignation of Mel Martinez, not only endorsed Rubio, but expressed his disappointment with Crist for leaving the primary. He has also apparently contributed to Rubio from his PAC, and has offered other campaign assistance, as well.
SC-Sen: Greene to make first formal speech as nominee
Accidental Senate nominee Alvin Greene has not exactly been hiding under the bed as of late. For example, he announced to the world that he wants Denzel Washington to play him in the movie about his life (which is not in the planning stages, by the way). He has also suggested bridging the economic gap in South Carolina by selling Alvin Greene action figures. But now, he is apparently moving into candidate mode, with his first official appearance as the Democratic nominee. He will be appearing as a featured speaker before his local chapter of the NAACP this coming Sunday.
SD-Sen: Thune in national figure mode with re-election assured
It is usually not a great sign for the challenging party when an incumbent facing re-election can shutter his campaign apparatus a full four months prior to Election Day. Yet that is exactly what is happening in South Dakota, where freshman Senator John Thune has managed to avoid any opposition for November, Democrat or otherwise. This opens up Thune to fundraise in other states, to part with some of his re-election funds to other needy candidates, and to be a rainmaker for local candidates. DavidNYC at SSP offered a great counterargument, though--the Democrats might be better served in South Dakota by not having the locally uber-popular Thune gracing the top of the ballot.
WV-Sen: Capito still on fence, with decision pending this weekend?
With the AP now saying that Governor Joe Manchin will appoint the interim replacement for the late Robert Byrd this Sunday, speculation now turns to who will run in the special election that is likely to kick off this Fall. The oft-mentioned name at the top of the GOP wishlist--Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito--is still on the fence. She claims to be unconcerned about the prospect of defeat (which even the GOP polling clearinghouse known as Rasmussen said was likely), but is only making sure she is not giving up any "momentum" for the state by switching races.
AZ-03: Is Hulburd making this GOP open seat a pickup opportunity?
In a solidly Republican open seat in the suburbs of Phoenix, local media are starting to take a very serious look at the lone Democrat in the field, attorney Jon Hulburd. Hulburd has raised monster cash thus far, including another quarter-million in the second quarter, according to the campaign. The analysis by the local Arizona Capitol Times points out, accurately, that the GOP field, numbering at an almost absurd ten candidates, could result in one of the fringier candidates making the cut with 15-20% of the vote. In short: Democratic pickup opportunities are few and far between this cycle, but keep an eye on this race.
LA-02: Field is set, and GOP incumbent is claiming a huge lead
The filing deadline in the Pelican State is closed, and a potential Democratic player in the competitive New Orleans-area seat occupied by Joseph Cao decided to remain on the sidelines. Karen Carter Peterson, who made it into a runoff election with embattled former Democratic Rep. Bill Jefferson a few cycles ago, declined a bid. Cao is far from secure, however, as he has a pair of Democratic state legislators (Cedric Richmond and Juan LaFonta) facing him in the Fall.
For his part, however, Cao is claiming relative security in the race, by releasing a fairly dusty internal poll (late May/Early June) claiming a 51-26 lead over Richmond. Why Team Cao felt the need to hold onto this poll for six weeks is unclear, although it might have been to give the false impression that this was a recent poll. Richmond's campaign was not rolling in earnest back then, though he is actively on the trail now.
AL-Gov: Byrne gets major late (too late?) endorsement
In the final days before his primary runoff election with state legislator Robert Bentley, businessman and former college head Bradley Byrne got a late endorsement from a very big name--the outgoing Governor of the state, Bob Riley. His campaign also claimed the endorsements of Congressmen Jo Bonner and Mike Rogers in the final days of the runoff. As a final gambit to define the election, Byrne has been hammering the Alabama Education Association, arguing that the union was behind recent television ads attacking Byrne and implying that Bentley is a stealth union candidate (Byrne ally Jo Bonner referred to Bentley as a union "trojan horse" on Friday).
AZ-Gov: Brewer continues to consolidate Arizona GOP support
Any doubt that Jan Brewer has managed to completely resurrect her standing with Arizona Republicans has likely been erased today, with the news that she had earned the endorsements of both Senator John McCain and Senator Jon Kyl. Brewer's nomination likely became a given this weekend, with the news that state treasurer Dean Martin was suspending his campaign. Brewer had already endorsed McCain's Senate bid.
CA-Gov: Whitman attacks Brown for union ties
This was entirely predictable: with the campaign of Jerry Brown still sitting on the sidelines conserving resources in the face of free-spending GOP Meg Whitman, affiliated groups like "Working Families for Jerry Brown" have been bridging the gap. This has led Meggy Warbucks to launch her 838th ad of the cycle, which attacks Brown for being the "union" candidate.
In other California news, a late-breaking poll from SurveyUSA is the first to show a significant lead for Whitman over Brown in the race. The poll, taken for CBS5 in the Bay Area, has Whitman holding down 46% of the vote, with Brown sitting on 39% of the vote.
CT-Gov: Foley latest GOPer caught in a "war zone" kerfluffle
It is starting to become somewhat obvious that the whole Richard Blumenthal/Vietnam fracas has been more of a minefield for Republicans than it has been for the Democrats. The latest GOP candidate caught up in the newfound interest in biographical veracity is fellow Nutmegger Tom Foley, the GOP frontrunner for Governor. Foley's biography highlighted both his role in resurrecting the Iraqi economy while part of the Coalition Provisional Authority in 2003, and the dangers he faced while there. The only problem: other accounts of Foley's role in the CPA contradict the details offered in his biography.
FL-Gov: McCollum finances circling drain, under one mil in CoH
One now gets a better understanding of why Rick Scott is so eager to see the Millionaire's Amendment overturned in court in Florida. A court filing related to the case revealed that the former gubernatorial frontrunner, state Attorney General Bill McCollum, has just $800,000 on hand for the balance of the campaign cycle. McCollum is not completely destitute--if the law is upheld, he is eligible for an untold amount of cash courtesy of Scott's lavish self-financing. Even without that, however, McCollum would have access to up to $2 million, the result of a state law which grants money to candidates who raise money within the state, rather than cashing in on wealthy out-of-state donors.
GA-Gov: Barnes leads Dem primary; endorsements shake up both races
Aside from the Alabama runoffs (and a curious special election in Ohio, but more on that tomorrow), the only electoral game in town this month is in the state of Georgia, and there is a ton of news out of the Peach State today. New polling from Insider Advantage puts Roy Barnes is fairly safe territory for avoiding an August runoff with state Attorney General Thurbert Baker. The poll has Barnes sitting at 59% of the vote, with Baker far behind at 15%. DuBose Porter and David Poythress languish at 2%, and are increasingly unlikely to be a factor. Baker could be, however, as he unloaded a huge endorsement today in the form of former President Bill Clinton. Republican co-front runner Karen Handel can claim an endorsement of her own today, from none other than Sarah Palin. Meanwhile, Congressman Nathan Deal is apparently bent out of shape for not being deemed a Papa Grizzly, because he did not take long to savage the recipient, asking why Palin would endorse the "most liberal" Republican in the field. He also made the somewhat bizarre accusation that Handel was facilitating "gay outreach" to kids.
MI-Gov: It's endorsement-fest in the Dem primary!
The Democratic primary in the battle to be Michigan's next Governor is reaching a heated stage, with both candidates notching major-league endorsements to kick off the week. After getting basically smoked in the endorsement derby, state House speaker Andy Dillon announced a big one this morning, as former Mayor Dennis Archer gave his support to Dillon. This came on the heels of Dillon's primary rival, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, earning the endorsement of a pair of influential African-American members of Congress (John Conyers and Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick) over the weekend. Then, right on the heels of the Dillon-Archer announcement, Bernero added another big endorsement to his roster, as state legislator and former gubernatorial candidate Alma Wheeler Smith's endorsement this afternoon.
MN-Gov: Emmer tips flap continues unabated
Last week, your curator of the Wrap reported on the "man of the people" tactics of GOP gubernatorial nominee Tom Emmer, who was proposing that tips from service employees be counted against their wages, so that the minimum wage for such employees could be dropped below the state minimum. Emmer is trying to fight back by claiming he is being taken out of context on that stand, and another outlandish claim that tips put service workers above the six-figure annual income. The only problem--of course!--is that there is video. Emmer might not only be hurting his gubernatorial candidacy, but he is seriously risking getting timely service in any restaurant or bar in Minnesota at this point.
NE-Gov: Democrats flirting with leaving guv ballot line blank
It hasn't happened in nearly a century, but it may well happen in 2010. On the heels of former nominee Mark Lakers' abandonment of his gubernatorial campaign, it is looking increasingly likely that Democrats will not find a replacement to run on the Democratic line. Such a move would, in fairness, be something of a suicide mission--Republican Governor Dave Heineman is sitting on over $1.5 million, and the state has a fairly large generic GOP lean in even the best of circumstances.
PA-Gov: Corbett--unemployed are unemployed by choice?
This could, in the long run, qualify as something of a game-changer in an open seat gubernatorial race that seemed to favor the GOP. Republican nominee Tom Corbett, while speaking in a radio interview yesterday, made a comment about how "the jobs are there", but that some people would prefer to collect unemployment. It did not take long, of course, for his Democratic rival, Dan Onorato to seize on the comment, pointing out that nearly 600,000 people in Pennsylvania are presently out of work.
The House of Ras hits just two races to open the week, hitting a high-profile gubernatorial race on the Eastern Seaboard, and a vulnerable open-seat contest for the U.S. Senate in the Midwest. Republicans lead in both, according to the House of Ras. Feel free to make your surprised face...now!
IN-Sen: Dan Coats (R) 51%, Brad Ellsworth (D) 30%
MD-Gov: Robert Ehrlich (R) 47%, Martin O'Malley (D) 46%