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Leading Off:

MO-Gov: Republican businessman Dave Spence has long had a serious problem on his resume: He served on the board of directors of a local bank which accepted $40 million in federal bailout money, and I'm not sure there's any worse sin in GOP politics these days that being on the wrong side of TARP. Indeed, the story was actually a good bit worse, because that same bank also refused to pay back the money it owed to the government—though Spence claimed he had nothing to do with that decision:

Spence resigned from the holding company and the board last March and says he did so, in part, because he objected to Reliance's decision not to make the $2.2 million payment to TARP. [...]

"What I wanted to do, and what the board wanted to do, are two different things," Spence said.

Now that problem has gotten much, much worse. From a new AP report:
Spence said he voted with the rest of the bank board in early 2011 to forgo payments to the U.S. Treasury" and that he now says he resigned because "the bank board was taking too much of his time."
I believe there's a word for a guy like Spence: liar.

1Q Fundraising:

The first trickle of first quarter fundraising numbers is coming in. Remember, reports aren't due at the FEC until April 15, except in Pennsylvania, where they're due April 12.

CT-05: Elizabeth Esty (D): $360K raised, $800K cash-on-hand

NY-06: Liz Crowley (D): $100K raised (in ten days); Rory Lancman (D): $200K cash-on-hand


IN-Sen: Dick Lugar's campaign team seems to be the gang that couldn't shoot straight. After initially cutting a check to the government for $4,500 after Politico busted him for improperly billing taxpayers for hotel visits on trips "home" to Indiana, Lugar has admitted that his repayment wasn't large enough. (Senators aren't allowed to recover expenses for overnight stays in the area they're allegedly from when the chamber is not in session.) So now he's copping to a bill that, at nearly $15,000, is three times as large... but do you really think this is the last we've heard of this?

MA-Sen: The Boston Globe (via the University of New Hampshire) is out with their first poll of the Massachusetts Senate race, but at least a couple of odd things stand out right away. First off, they screened for likely voters, even though the election is still seven months off. Secondly, the number of undecideds is pretty huge—certainly much higher than we've seen in most polling of this contest. GOP Sen. Scott Brown leads Democrat Elizabeth Warren 37-35, with 26% saying they haven't yet made up their minds. Wouldn't you expect "likely" voters to contain a smaller, rather than larger, share of undecideds? Go figure.

MT-Sen: I guess this is Dem Sen. Max Baucus's underscoring that, despite being 70 years old and pretty unpopular at home in the wake of all the negative attention he received during the healthcare reform debate, he's planning to seek re-election in 2014: He's airing $25,000 worth of radio ads touting his record, even though Montana's junior senator, Democrat Jon Tester, is in the midst of the fight for his political life this year.

ND-Sen: The production values suck and I'm sure the buy is tiny, but I'm heartened to see perennial candidate Duane Sand actually taking to the airwaves to ding the GOP primary frontrunner, Rick Berg, over his vote to raise the debt ceiling. If Sand had some real money (or, say, an anonymous third-party sugar daddy), I think he could probably score some pretty good hits against Berg relying on this theme. These kinds of votes drive conservatives nuts, and there have been many other roll calls that also relate to spending, such as budget resolutions, where rank-and-file Republicans have let the teabaggers down. With enough cash, I'm convinced Sand could make Berg sweat it out for the nomination.

PA-Sen: In the past, former coal company owner Tom Smith has written off his dalliance in Democratic politics as a sort of one-man Operation Hilarity, but now he has a much bigger problem on his hands. Thanks to some good sleuthing, PoliticsPA has discovered that Smith has voted in Democratic primaries 19 times since registering to vote in 1969 and switching to the GOP in 2011. Smith is claiming that he doesn't remember whether he voted for now-Sen. Bob Casey (the man he's trying to unseat) in the 2006 Senate primary, or whether he supported Sen. Arlen Specter or Rep. Joe Sestak in the 2010 Senate primary. Needless to say, that's more than hard to believe, but lucky for Smith, his main rival for the Republican nomination this year, Steve Welch, also recently dabbled on the Dem side of the aisle. So this issue may, oddly enough, wind up getting totally neutralized.

UT-Sen: This can't have been easy to conduct, but somehow pollster Dan Jones & Associates managed to take a survey of Republican convention delegates (there are some 4,000 of them) on behalf of Sen. Orrin Hatch, and the news is quite good for the incumbent. Hatch leads ex-state Sen. Dan Liljenquist by a 62-16 margin, and if he clears 60% at this month's convention, he can avoid the June primary altogether. Liljenquist, who is running to Hatch's right, is now saying his goal is merely to force a primary, but I can't imagine him doing better among the broader GOP electorate than among delegates.


MO-Gov: The DGA, through a cut-out called America Works USA (love that they get "America" in there twice) is throwing down a pretty meaty $640K or so for a TV buy on behalf of Dem Gov. Jay Nixon, plus they're donating half a mil directly to his campaign. Is Nixon looking more vulnerable than the last polls (which came a while ago) showed—as Republicans are arguing—or is this just a wise insurance policy aimed at shoring him up early, and convincing the GOP to play elsewhere? We'll see.

ND-Gov: Well, one of the three North Dakota Republicans seeking prominent statewide office this year has managed to avoid a primary: Tea-partying businessman Paul Sorum has dropped his challenge to Gov. Jack Dalrymple after losing the nomination at the GOP convention this past weekend. Dalrymple's 71% take among delegates strikes me as pretty soft, though (Sorum was not particularly formidable); you'll recall that Dalrymple was never elected to his current post but rather was Lt. Gov. and assumed the job after John Hoeven was elected to the Senate in 2010, so that might partly explain his weakness. Dalrymple will face state Sen. Minority Leader Ryan Taylor in November.

WI-Gov: A few recall-related items. First up, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca says he won't run in the gubernatorial recall—no surprise, since Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett announced he'd do so on Friday, giving the Dems a pretty full primary field. On that note, former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk seems to be pushing back at the notion that Barrett is the most electable: A new poll from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner has Barrett up 48-47 over Walker, but Falk just two points off the pace, down 48-47. It's not clear to me who exactly paid for the poll, though, since the memo (PDF) doesn't say. (Falk's campaign says it's not theirs.)

Finally, on the state Senate recall front, Republicans are once again pledging to run fake Democrats in the Democratic primaries. They're doing this because otherwise, the general elections for the Senate races would take place on the same day as the Democratic primary for the gubernatorial recall, meaning Dem turnout would be way, way up. I think it's important, though, that Dems fight fire with fire and run fake Republicans in all the GOP primaries, including governor, lt. gov., and Senate. One of our legit recall candidates last summer, Shelly Moore, came way too close to losing to a totally phony GOP plant who barely ran any campaign at all, winning her primary just 55-45. We can't risk that sort of thing actually working, and we should diminish Republican incentives to engage in dirty tricks in our primaries. And I'm sure we can find some willing Dems to play ball—we only need half a dozen.

Oh, pace Columbo, one more thing. It's just a generic recall question, but I'm sure it must have pained Scottie Rasmussen something fierce to release it anyway: By a 52-47 margin, likely voters in Wisconsin say they want to recall GOP Gov. Scott Walker.

WA-Gov: SEIU has another poll from Grove Insight, this time showing Dem ex-Rep. Jay Inslee up 38-34 over Republican AG Rob McKenna. Their prior poll (from February) had the race tied at 38 apiece.


AZ-06: The conservative group Citizens United is endorsing Rep. David Schweikert and donating $10,000 to his campaign, though it remains to be seen whether they'll put real money behind him. Schweikert of course faces fellow GOP Rep. Ben Quayle in what is already a rather nasty primary.

FL-26: Democratic state Rep. Luis Garcia, whose congressional campaign has utterly imploded (he has no campaign manager anymore and seems to spend most of his time openly berating the DCCC), is contemplating an escape hatch. Wealthy businessman and activist Norman Braman is trying to recruit Garcia to run for Miami-Dade County Commissioner, and Garcia confirms he's considering it and says he'll decide this week. That would leave Dems without a candidate against GOP freshman David Rivera in the 26th unless former Miami-Dade mayor Alex Penelas gets in, but in the Miami Herald's words, he's "leaning against running."

NC-09: Former state Sen. Robert Pittenger is reportedly going up with an ad attacking one of his GOP primary rivals, Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Pendergraph, calling him a "lifelong Democrat" and accusing him of taking a "secret, taxpayer-funded bonus" when he served as sheriff. Unfortunately, the ad isn't available on Pittenger's YouTube account, but he's apparently the only candidate in this zillion-way contest to succeed retiring Rep. Sue Myrick who's up on the air. (An earlier ad he ran touting his conservative credentials is here.)

ND-AL: At the North Dakota Republican convention over the weekend, delegates gave their party's endorsement to Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk after three rounds of balloting. That led all the other candidates participating in the endorsement process to drop out, including the second-place finisher, Shane Goettle, as well as three also-rans: Bette Grande, DuWayne Hendrickson, and Kim Koppelman. But Kalk doesn't have the nomination in the bag just yet. His fellow PSC member, Kevin Cramer, is sticking with his plans to forge on until June's primary, and it could be a real fight. In the fourth quarter of last year, Cramer outraised Kalk by a big margin, $211K to $40K, so I'll be very curious to see their new reports in two weeks' time.

NY-06: A major score for Assemblyman Rory Lancman, who just picked up the backing of the Working Families Party. (Given his recent spate of union endorsements, this wasn't a big surprise, but it's still a very good get.) The question now is just how much of an effort the WFP will put into helping Lancman win the Democratic nomination. (Also, in the "news I care about much less" dept., Lancman was also endorsed by ex-NYC mayor Ed Koch.)

NY-13: Some pretty big news up in Harlem, where state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who had been weighing a bid for some time, has finally decided to make his challenge to Rep. Charlie Rangel official. Several different folks are already running in the Democratic primary, but Espaillat is the most prominent—and importantly, he's the only Latino in the race. All of the other notable announced candidates are, like Rangel, black: Vince Morgan, Joyce Johnson, and Clyde Williams.

And while Harlem will forever be known as a seminal nexus of African-American culture, it has changed a lot over the years. The new 13th District is now 55% Hispanic and just 27% black; the old 15th (the predecessor to the 13th) was 46-27 Hispanic-black. Espaillat doesn't have a lot of time—the primary is June 26—but if he can raise enough money, he could pose a serious threat to Rangel.

NY-18: If I were writing up this story, I'd headline it "Sean Maloney Attends DCCC 'Issues Conference.'" But Capital Tonight's Liz Benjamin has gone with the much more attention-grabbing—and much less supportable—"DCCC Backs Maloney In NY-18." Read the writeup, though, because you'll see exactly how it doesn't deliver. The DCCC didn't endorse Maloney, nor did any of its high officials. No major names donated money to Maloney, the organization isn't spending anything on his behalf, and the event he attended wasn't even a fundraiser.

Now, I'm not naïve: I'm very prepared to believe that the D-Trip would prefer Maloney over the rest of the field, for the reason Benjamin identifies—namely, they think he'd be a strong fundraiser. But "vague hints that DCCC likes Maloney" does not equal "DCCC backing Maloney."

TX-16: A couple of interesting, in-depth pieces on the state of play in the 16th Congressional District Democratic primary, where veteran Rep. Silvestre Reyes faces a challenge from former El Paso city councilman Beto O'Rourke, generally viewed as a progressive reformer. The first article, from El Paso Inc., offers one startling detail about O'Rourke's campaign, given that he's raised money at a pretty good clip: He's "running his own campaign and has no paid staff," something one consultant calls a "good way for a first-time congressional candidate to lose." Wow.

The other story, from the El Paso Times, goes into great detail about Reyes' life story and his work in Congress, but also makes the argument that O'Rourke has thrown Reyes off his stride with his constant harping on Reyes' long, 16-year tenure and attacks that Reyes is consequently out of touch.

WI-02: Kelda Roys, one of three Democrats seeking to replace Rep. Tammy Baldwin in the House, is out with her first TV ad, a minute-long spot decrying the GOP's war on women and promising to fight back against it. You can watch the ad here.

Other Races:

NY-SD-27: For those of you following the far-too-close-to-call New York state Senate special, it looks like Wednesday will be a key day. A judge will review the parties' various ballot challenges then, and conceivably the balance could tilt far enough one way or the other—either toward Democrat Lew Fidler or Republican David Storobin—that someone decides to throw in the towel. But I wouldn't count on it, since the absurdly close margin (allegedly Storobin is up by a single vote) certainly makes it seem like no one would want to give up before a recount can take place.

Special Elections: Johnny Longtorso is back in action:

Two for Tuesday, both in Oklahoma, both being held under the new district lines:

SD-20: Open Republican seat, the previous senator passed away. The new district is a swath of territory north of Oklahoma City and west of Tulsa. It's about 72-28 McCain (and has a 57.4 - 42.6 Republican average in DRA). Candidates are Democrat Magnus Scott, Sr., a minister, and Republican Ann Griffin, a nonprofit administrator.

HD-71: Open Republican seat, the previous Representative left to become CEO of the Grand River Dam Authority. The new district is in western Tulsa and is 54.6 - 45.4 McCain (and has a 51.6 - 48.4 Democratic average in DRA). Candidates are Democrat Dan Arthrell, a nonprofit manager (popular job in Oklahoma, apparently), and Republican Katie Henke, a teacher.

And a quick update from New York: Didi Barrett did end up picking up AD-103 for the Democrats; her Republican opponent conceded the election.

Grab Bag:

AZ-??: A New York Times report suggests that Dem ex-Rep. Gabby Giffords is holding on to her campaign warchest ($879K at last count), perhaps with the possibility of a comeback in mind, though we'll see if she spent anything this past quarter in just a couple of weeks when fundraising reports are due. (This would be Giffords' first since stepping down from Congress.) Of course, she could also make sizable donations later in the cycle, so I wouldn't read too much into her next report either way.

Dark Money: A few weeks ago I added some thoughts to election law expert Rick Hasen's arguments that the explosion in spending by Super PACs necessarily follows from the recent Citizens United decision. My two cents were that the super-wealthy, however, have always had a vehicle for spending as much money as they want on political advertising, provided they aren't bashful about having their name in the fine print at the bottom of the ad: they can simply pay for their own uncoordinated independent expenditures (IEs), no different from, say, the DCCC. And one of the cycle's biggest donors, who's so far had no fears about stepping into the limelight, is going ahead and doing just that. Rick Santorum mega-backer Foster Friess has abandoned his Super PAC and is taking the IE route to back Santorum instead now. (David Jarman)

DCCC: The latest D-Trip round of radio ads in eight GOP-held districts totals an unbelievably pathetic $1000, according to Politico's Alexander Burns, but of course, we're more than used to garbage like this by now. Props to Burns, though, for calling out the D-Trip—and the NRCC, which recently did something similar on TV.

Polltopia: I promised you last week that we'd bow to popular demand and push a vote for Nevada in PPP's last "where should we poll?" poll. Well, the good is that Nevada won, so now it's your turn to do us a solid: Please vote for New Mexico this week. Thanks!

South Carolina: The candidate filing deadline closed on March 30 in the Palmetto State, but an official list won't be published until April 9. Once it is, though, you'll find it at this link.

WATN?: Yow. It's bad enough when you burn all your bridges, abandon your former party, and then wage an independent campaign for governor only to come in third, thus destroying any future political career you might have had. But to do all that, and then get indicted on charges of public corruption stemming from that same campaign? That ought to induce epic levels of buyer's remorse on the part of former Massachusetts state treasurer—and former Democrat—Tim Cahill, but it couldn't happen to a nicer guy. (Click the link for details on what he's being accused of.)

Redistricting Roundup:

KS Redistricting: Could Kansas wind up being the last state in the nation with a new congressional map? It's starting to look like it. While a new plan is moving through the legislature in New Hampshire (the only other state without new lines), Kansas lawmakers just adjourned until the end of the month without sending any redistricting legislation to the governor. This all comes down to the hot-burning feud between the "moderates" (who control the Senate) and the conservatives (who control the House) in the state GOP, but it goes beyond just the congressional map. There's war over the Senate lines as well: The moderates have tried to draw several conservative challengers to incumbent state senators out of their respective districts, and obviously the conservatives are furious. It certainly feels like it'll all end up in court.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Apr 03, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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