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Leading Off:

Ads: It feels like we got hit with a ton of new TV and radio campaign ads over the last day, so here they all are at once (you can find a copy of each ad at their respective links):

IL-08: Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi is the first candidate on the air in his heavyweight primary with Tammy Duckworth with two almost identical ads touting his job creation credentials and his jobs plan. (You can see the second spot here.)

IN-Sen: Richard Mourdock attacks GOP primary opponent Dick Lugar on spending, and brings up the "Obama's favorite Republican" line often repeated about Lugar, saying "I will never be Barack Obama's favorite Republican."

MA-Sen: Democrat Elizabeth Warren goes on the offensive in a minute-long radio ad, blasting the "Blunt amendment" which would allow employers to deny healthcare coverage to their employees on the basis of any alleged "religious belief or moral conviction."

MO-Sen: Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill is out with a spot decrying third-party attack ads, but rather than going for some lame "set the record straight" rejoinder, she pivots into her own attack on special interests, hitting some good themes—ending Medicare, tax breaks for the wealthy, and unfair trade deals. I think it's well done, and it's also apparently backed by a $200K statewide buy, which is significant.

ND-Sen: Freshman GOP Rep. Rick Berg, who is already seeking a promotion to the Senate, is up with his first TV ad, a biographical spot that mostly features his mom talking about what a good little kid young Rick was.

NV-Sen: The DSCC has a Spanish-language radio ad trying to tie GOP Sen. Dean Heller to good ol' Sharron Angle, attacking him for opposing the DREAM Act and immigration reform. There's a translation at the link, and you can listen to the actual ad here, which Daily Kos head honcho Markos Moulitsas (a native Spanish speaker) says has a tone and pacing "very similar to the telenovelas" that are popular among Latinos. (Note the ad also carries an "I approve this message" disclaimer from Dem Rep. Shelley Berkley, which means this must be a coordinated expenditure with the DSCC.)


MO-Sen: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's "HuckPAC" is another one of those right-wing organizations that's all talk and no action. Have a look at OpenSecrets to see what I mean. In 2010, they donated less than $150K to Republican candidates, but that's not really a big deal—PACs face relatively low limits on direct contributions. Where PACs can have a real impact is through independent expenditures, and on that front, HuckPAC shelled out a whopping $1,155 (on behalf of failed New York House candidate Jim Tedisco, of all people). So the fact that Huckabee is endorsing Rep. Todd Akin in the GOP primary here really doesn't impress me. I mean, Akin gets a small media hit from it, and I guess Huck's backing sends a signal to evangelicals that Akin's an alright guy, but where it really counts—putting up cold, hard cash—I doubt Huck is going to lift a finger.

RI-Sen: Biden Alert! The VPOTUS is doing a fundraiser in Providence on Thursday for freshman Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, who is running for his second term. Republicans came up pretty short on the recruitment front: Their only announced candidate is businessman Barry Hinckley, who doesn't appear to be of the self-funding variety. Whitehouse has about 17 times as much cash-on-hand as his opponent, and that multiple should only grow after the Biden event.

WI-Sen, WI-Gov: A new Marquette Law School poll has ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson leading Dem Rep. Tammy Baldwin by a 48-42 margin, but Baldwin leads the other two main Republican contenders, ex-Rep. Mark Neumann (44-40) and state Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (45-37). The poll also has some favorability numbers for actual and potential candidates in a potential gubernatorial recall election, but no head-to-heads.

Relatedly, Secretary of State Doug LaFollette filed papers to run in the recall, which would make him the third Democrat in the race. LaFollette has been in office forever (since 1974!), but though he's repeatedly tried to run for other positions (including lieutenant governor, Senate, and House), he's never been successful. What's more, he's always eschewed traditional fundraising, generally taking in very little money in each campaign. That's pretty much exactly the opposite of what we need in this race, where GOP Gov. Scott Walker has millions at his disposal.

WI-Sen: When one of the chief knocks against you is that you're old and out-of-touch, this probably is the exact message you should be striving to avoid:

Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Tommy Thompson says he didn't expect any Republican challengers and those who are taking him on because they believe his time has passed should "get the hell out of my way."

OH-Gov: Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is one of my favorite Democrats alive today, and his loss last cycle was among the bitterest in a very bitter year. (For a good distillation of the kind of politics Strickland practices, this post-mortem by Noam Scheiber hits the mark.) Though he was never one to shy away from a fight, I figured that after 2010, Teddy Ballgame wasn't especially likely to make a comeback bid, given that he's now 70 years old. But even though he just closed his campaign fund, he says he hasn't ruled out another run for governor. And if did run against that d-bag John Kasich again in 2014... oh man. Let's just say I would be super-excited. Do it, Governor!


AK-AL: Veteran GOP Rep. Don Young has been on retirement watchlists for a long time, given his age, the various ethical issues that always seem to be bubbling up around him, and the ever-looming threat of a primary challenge. (He was almost unseated by one in 2008.) But the twenty-term Republican has indeed filed for re-election, so we may not be rid of him just yet. However, a very thin piece from KTUU reports that unnamed "Alaska Democrats say two people with significant name recognition are considering a run against Young," and that an announcement may come by mid-March. There aren't a whole lot of Dems with much name rec in Alaska, so I wonder who they could mean. Former Sitka mayor and 2010 Senate candidate Scott McAdams, perhaps? (Love that guy!) The singer Jewel? (Her grandfather was a Democratic state senator in the `60s!)

AZ-04: Well, that sure is some timing. Ex-Rep. Jim Kolbe, who used to represent Arizona's 8th CD, just endorsed fellow Republican Paul Babeu in the new 4th, in spite of all the messy allegations hurled Babeu's way by a former lover just a week ago.

AZ-06: This is some remarkable stuff: Retiring Sen. Jon Kyl is not only endorsing Ben Quayle in his freshman-on-freshman, incumbent-vs.-incumbent, Republican-against-Republican primary with David Schweikert, but he's praising his character, too! Kyl says Quayle is "quiet," "he doesn’t go out and toot his own horn," "he is solid in his judgment," and "he’s approached the issues in a very thoughtful way." Surely you must be joking, Mr. Kyl!

TX-27: With litigation still very much unsettled, Texas's congressional maps are about as clear as the Voynich Manuscript, but that isn't stopping new candidates from jumping in to where they think races are gonna be. The latest is Democratic attorney Filemon Vela of Brownsville, which is currently located in the 27th District. Vela seems well-connected: His mother is former Brownsville Mayor Blanca Sanchez Vela, and his late father (of the same name) was a federal judge, while his wife Rose is a state judge.

Grab Bag:

WATN?: Former Rep. Chet Edwards, a hero to many here at Daily Kos Elections for amassing a surprisingly progressive voting record despite serving an implacably red district for many years, is now teaching part-time at Baylor University in Waco, TX. He recently sat down for an interview with the school's newspaper, the Lariat, but if you were hoping for a comeback, it doesn't sound likely: Edwards specifically says that he's "finished my congressional career."

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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