• CA-15: Long-time Dem Rep. Pete Stark has a reputation for saying irascible, even downright offensive things, but seeing as he's served for forty years without interruption in a safely blue district, he's never paid a political price. That, however, might change. At a candidate forum earlier in the week, Stark leveled some wild, apparently baseless charges at his Democratic opponent, Dublin Councilman Eric Swalwell, accusing him of taking "hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes" from a developer—prompting the moderator to admonish him a second time for making personal attacks. (Stark earlier called Swalwell a "pipsqueak" and a "junior leaguer" and referred to one of his statements as "bullshit.") Stark also accused Swalwell of failing to vote in recent local elections, which turned out to be a total fabrication.
But it didn't stop there: As the two men went to shake hands after the event, Swalwell says Stark called him a "fucking crook" and a "slimeball" and said, "you're going to jail." Swalwell's campaign has since demanded proof from Stark about the bribery allegations, though of course Stark has refused to respond. I guess he's just never cared about looking like a crazy, out-of-touch old man who just makes shit up. But he's also never really had a serious opponent before, and like I say, his nonsense may finally cost him.
• Since 1Q fundraising reports are due on Sunday at midnight Eastern, tons and tons of campaigns flooded inboxes with press releases on Friday. But because we'll publish our full House fundraising roundup shortly, we're skipping those races and are only including Senate numbers (with one exception, and you'll understand why when you get to it):
FL-Sen: George LeMieux (R): $305K raised, $1.2 mil cash-on-handSenate:
IN-Sen: Sen. Richard Lugar (R): $820K raised, $2.5 mil cash-on-hand
MA-04: Joseph P. Kennedy III (D): $1.3 mil raised; Sean Bielat (R): $175K raised
MN-Sen: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D): $1 mil raised, $5.2 mil cash-on-hand
ND-Sen: Heidi Heitkamp (D): $710K raised, $850K cash-on-hand
NE-Sen: Bob Kerrey (D): $900K raised, $556K cash-on-hand; Deb Fischer (R): $62K raised, $186K cash-on-hand; Don Stenberg (R): $244K raised, $269K cash-on-hand
OH-Sen: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D): $2.4 mil raised, $6.3 mil cash-on-hand
WI-Sen: Tommy Thompson (R): $660K raised
• CA-Sen: A number of California politicians had money stolen from their accounts by rogue treasurer Kinde Durkee, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein may have been the biggest loser, at least in the raw numbers: Durkee embezzled nearly $4.5 million from her. That's more inconvenience than anything to Feinstein, who faces token Republican opposition in the Senate race this year and temporarily covered that amount with a loan from her sizable personal coffers. But now she's asking the FEC for an exception to allow her to re-solicit donors who'd previously already maxed out to her this cycle, arguing that it wouldn't be "double dipping" when the original dip already vaporized due to circumstances beyond her control. (David Jarman)
• IN-Sen: The American Action Network, which is run by former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, is sort of the opposite number to the Club for Growth in that it exists at least in part to prop up beleaguered Republican incumbents who are under attack for being apostates to the conservative cause. They've previously supported at least two such candidates this cycle, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and Michigan Rep. Fred Upton, and now they're reported dropping $600K on behalf of the guy who might be the most endangered of them all, Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar. It's a negative attack on Lugar's primary opponent, Richard Mourdock, accusing him of doing a crappy job as state Treasurer. You can watch it here.
• ME-Sen: Here's another sign that state AG Bill Schneider is retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe's preferred choice to succeed her—even if she insists she's not endorsing anyone publicly. Last month, she rented her email list to Schneider, and now her campaign manager—the very guy who said the list rental was meaningless—has gone to work for him. As Eric Russell of the Bangor Daily News points out, this is "interesting given that Secretary of State Charlie Summers, the front-runner in the six-way GOP primary, worked for Snowe for more than a decade."
• NE-Sen: Democrat Bob Kerrey has a new ad out saying Democrats are right about some things, Republicans right about others, and that he's "not afraid to do what’s right." You can watch it at the link.
• NJ-Sen: When I state GOP state Sen. Joe Kyrillos's first-quarter fundraising numbers on Thursday, I thought, "Hey, those look surprisingly good!" But it turns out that $1.75 million figure was bogus because it included everything Kyrillos took in since forming a so-called "exploratory" committee last June. It turns out that Kyrillos only raised $917K in the first three months of the year, but don't let that number fool you, either. Fully $600K came from a single event headlined by Gov. Chris Christie, which is something Kyrillos can't exactly rely on to carry him through the next seven months. So that means he raised about $300K without special outside help—weak. (Props to Julie Sobel at The Hotline for exposing this charade.)
• TX-Sen: You'd think Ted Cruz—who is, after all, the former solicitor general of the state of Texas—would know better than to put something like this in writing, but there it is: He texted Craig James, one of his Republican rivals for the GOP Senate nomination, to see if he'd be willing to go after the frontrunner, David Dewhurst, with a negative question in an upcoming debate. (The candidates are all allowed to ask one question of one other candidate, and James randomly pulled Dewhurst's name of a hat.) James, though, probably realizing he'd get more mileage from dropping a dime on Cruz's attempt to set up Dewhurst, went public with the text message and accused Cruz of "trying to rig the system." Now Dewhurst, of course, is piling on Cruz, too. I'm sure he now wishes he'd never hit "send." (And seriously, Craig James is a notorious narc. Who the hell in their right mind would ever trust him?)
• IN-Gov: Interesting: Are Indiana Republicans a little nervous about the state of the open-seat gubernatorial contest? A recent independent poll (the first of the race) showed Republican Mike Pence leading Democrat John Gregg by a not-entirely-intimidating 44-31 spread—and now they're deigning to train their attacks on Gregg, something they hadn't really done until now. Quite shabbily, they're trying to blame Gregg for a snafu involving state tax collection that began before he ever served in office (as state rep.) and was only discovered after he retired. They're also complaining about his attempts to use some accounting sleight-of-hand to balance the state's budget when he was House Speaker, but it doesn't seem like a particularly hard-hitting attack. But the fact that Republicans are even taking notice of Gregg seems like a positive sign.
• VT-Gov: The Vermont governorship almost became an unexpected open seat because Dem Gov. Peter Shumlin tried to chase four bears out of his back yard! Needless to say, Shumlin was very unsuccessful and only narrowly avoided getting turned into dinner himself. Who does he think he is? Cory Booker?
• WI-Gov: This is a welcome sign: Even though some unions (such as AFSCME) have made their opposition to Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett quite clear, Barrett just picked up his first labor endorsements, from the Amalgamated Transit Union, Operating Engineers Local 317, and the Iron Workers District Council of North Central States. Combined, they represent about 5,000 active and retired workers in Wisconsin. (Note that's quite a bit smaller than the 66,000 members AFSCME has in the state.)
Barrett has also released a new ad, in which Democratic state Sen. Jon Erpenbach, a key leader of the protest movement against Gov. Scott Walker in 2011, lends his support. You can watch it at the link.
And while we're discussing the airwaves, Secretary of State Doug La Follette, who has trailed badly in Democratic primary polling, is also out with an ad (his first), a sort of quirky spot in which he likens Wisconsin's government to a small wind-up toy cow that's ceased moving... and says his "steady hand" is the thing to get it started up again. Interestingly, La Follette finishes his ad with the "... and I approve this message" disclaimer, but so far as I know, that's only a requirement of federal, not Wisconsin, law. Anyhow, you watch the ad here or below:
• FL-18: I don't know if anyone's ever succeeded in knocking off a Republican incumbent by running to the left in the primary, but Martin County Sheriff Robert Crowder sure is trying. He's challenging Rep. Allen West, in response to West's lunatic throwback comments that "78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party" in Congress are also "members of the Communist Party," Crowder says the remarks are "bizarre" and "reckless." He also says that West "caters" to "the ultra-right wing of the Republican Party," which is certainly correct—and which will make it rather difficult for Crowder to win by trying to act somewhat sensible.
• MN-06: Tim Murphy of Mother Jones has an in-depth profile of wealthy hotelier Jim Graves, who just announced he'd run against GOP crazy-lady-in-chief Michele Bachmann. It's a very helpful piece because we're often lack sufficient detail about the beliefs and background of first-time candidates, so I'd encourage you to read it. Graves is going to have to come up with some better, more direct answers to some of the questions Murphy asks, though, when he hits the trail in earnest. Also of note, Graves has kicked off his campaign with a $100K loan, and according to Murphy, there will be more where that came from.
• NJ-09: Dem Rep. Steve Rothman is out with his first ad, touting his "progressive values," such as his support for marriage equality. The narrator also calls him "the only candidate who fully supports a woman's right to choose"—a claim that I'm sure will rankle his primary opponent, Rep. Bill Pascrell. You can watch at the link or below:
• NY-08: After all that nonsense, it appears that Dem Rep. Ed Towns will not seek re-election, at least according to multiple reports that started circulating on Sunday night. Towns had run a weirdly invisible campaign for quite some time, so this development is hardly a surprise. It's also good news for progressives, because it puts Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (who had been challenging Towns in the primary and has a reputation as a reformer) in the driver's seat. He'll have to stare down NYC councilman Charles Barron first, but Jeffries should get all the support he needs to prevail. (No one wants to let Barron, who has a legendary reputation for saying absolutely insane shit—like calling Muammar Gaddafi "my hero, an African freedom fighter"—win this thing.) And in this heavily Democratic seat, the winner of the June 26 primary is guaranteed to win the general as well.
• PA-12: Rep. Jason Altmire has a harshly negative ad featuring man-on-the-street types saying that Rep. Mark Critz "doesn't represent western Pennsylvania." Notably, the spot repeats an utterly bogus and debunked line of attack by Altmire that Critz "failed to stand up to the tea party" when Democrats tried to outfox the GOP on a budget vote by deliberately abstaining. (Critz went along with the plan, while Altmire wildcatted; the full background is here.) Altmire got a lot of heat from senior Democratic leaders (including Steny Hoyer) when he tried this the firs time, so it bears watching whether he'll face serious pushback again. You can watch the ad at the link or below:
For what it's worth, the CPA now says the Cantor money has already been spent, and in fact, they're saying it was spent on the Don Manzullo-Adam Kinzinger GOP primary in Illinois, just as Cantor claims he requested. But the CPA previously denied they earmarked the money, and in fact still deny it, so if they didn't silo the money, I don't really know how they can argue that Cantor's specific $25K has already been spent if it was just dumped into their general treasury. Perhaps they're sick of this story, too, and want to get people off their backs? (David Jarman and David Nir)
• UT-04: The Salt Lake Tribune commissioned Mason-Dixon to conduct a poll of the race in Utah's 4th Congressional District, site of the state's only competitive congressional contest (in the general election). Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson, whose legendary political skill and family name are the only reasons this affair is even competitive in the first place, leads all three Republican hopefuls by the narrowest of margins, but he'll have a devil of a time getting over that 50% hump if this survey is accurate. Matheson is up 45-42 over Saratoga Springs mayor Mia Love, 46-45 over ex-state Rep. Carl Wimmer, and 47-41 over ex-state Rep. Stephen Sandstrom.
As you may know, even though Matheson has long represented extremely red turf, the legislature completely chopped up his old district, meaning he represents just 33% of the new 4th. Going strictly by presidential numbers, it's actually a touch bluer than the old 2nd (56-41 McCain rather than 57-39), but Republicans included the fast-growing (and scarlet-red) parts of Utah County west of Utah Lake in the 4th. So even if Matheson somehow hangs on, all else being equal, this seat is actually likely to become more Republican over time. But that's a worry for another day: In the here and now, Matheson will also have to contend with favorite son Mitt Romney (words you don't usually hear) at the top of the ballot. It's going to be a rough ride.
P.S. The poll also tested a hypothetical Republican primary, though the GOP candidates all have to go before delegates at the April 21 party convention first. If someone gets 60% of the delegate vote, there's no primary. Otherwise, the top two finishers advance, so a three-way primary isn't possible. But in any event, M-D pitted all three contenders against one another, finding Wimmer on top with 35%, Love at 23, and Sandstrom at 14. (Relatedly, see our UT Fundraising item in the Grab Bag below.)
• San Diego Mayor: You may recall that not long ago, I pish-poshed GOP state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher's seemingly bold decision to cast off his status as "moderate Republican rising star" and instead become a full-fledged independent. Rather, it looked like a merely expedient play in the San Diego mayor's race, because Fletcher was languishing in the polls and needed something to differentiate himself from the two other Republicans and claw his way into the Top 2.
Well, expedient it may have been, but if the new SurveyUSA poll of the field is any indication, it worked: Fletcher has doubled his support since their previous poll last September and is now in second. Carl DeMaio is in first at 28 (up from 25), with Fletcher second at 26 (up from 13), Bob Filner at 20 (down from 24), and Bonnie Dumanis is at 13 (down from 14). Unfortunately, that's bad news for Dems: DeMaio is one of the Republicans, and Fletcher's surge seems to have come mostly at the expense of retiring Rep. Bob Filner, the only Democrat in the race. (David Jarman)
• Ohio: Republicans in Ohio gerrymandered the Buckeye State to within an inch of its life, which made calculating presidential results according to the new congressional district lines a brutal endeavor. But jeffmd is no slouch, and he's cranked out the numbers for your enjoyment. And by "enjoyment" I mean, "so that you can get angry all over again at the fact that Ohio Democrats agreed to this outrage of a map."
• PA Fundraising: Pre-primary FEC reports were due in Pennsylvania on Thursday night, covering the period from Jan. 1 to April 4 (so basically, the first quarter plus a few extra days). Bizarrely, PA-04 hopeful Chris Reilly submitted a report only covering April 1 to April 4, which is why he was initially shown as having raised $0. What a moran. Reilly later filed an amended report that presumably covers the right dates, though who knows, because it still reads "Covering Period 04/01/2012 Through 04/04/2012." In any event, at the link you'll find numbers for all 41 Keystone State candidates who filed reports, whether in competitive races or not.
• PPP: Two batches of the usual miscellany from everybody's favorite pollster, Public Policy Polling: one for North Carolina and one for Colorado. Two interesting tidbits from the latter: One, Democrats lead the generic legislative ballot 47-40. And two is this:
There are two things in the crosstabs on gay marriage that really stand out. Voters under 30 think gay marriage should be legal by a 77/23 margin, and independents support it by a 61/32 spread as well. That should be a real warning sign to the GOP that continuing to tack right on this issue is going to significantly hurt its ability to appeal both to the next generation of voters and to swing voters who are somewhere between moderate and liberal on social issues.• Swing Voters: Ruy Teixeira has an interesting article in the New Republic which, at its core, seems to debunk the whole idea of swing voters, or at least the notion that swing voters are somehow clustered at the very middle of the political spectrum or that they correlate most strongly with one particular psychographic sub-segment (soccer moms!! NASCAR dads!! Walmart moms!! Crate and Barrel cousins!!). Instead, swing voters exist throughout the spectrum, and what varies with their placement on the spectrum is their level of persuadability... and the key to winning is to try and pry a certain level of support out of each and every constituency, enough to cobble together a majority. The whole thing's worth a read, but here's the key graf:
Since swing voters are everywhere, a campaign might be concerned with reaching swing voters among both Hispanics and the white working class. But it seems unlikely that the same message, especially of some ill-defined centrist variety, will appeal strongly to swingers in both groups. Boringly, it may come down to the mundane task of setting support rate targets among these and other demographics and figuring out how to hit each of the targets. But however boring it may seem, that’s how you win elections.(David Jarman)
• UT Fundraising: Utah's Republican and Democratic conventions are coming up on April 21, so all federal candidates were required to file pre-convention fundraising reports with the FEC on April 9. The reports cover the period from Jan. 1 through April 1. You can find numbers for everyone who actually filed a report at the link. Also note that we've started to provide columns for money candidates donate or loan to their own campaigns. This gives you a clearer picture of who's self-funding and how much. A few highlights:
UT-02: In this open-seat race for what should be regarded as the new (and extremely red) seat Utah won in reapportionment, eight Republicans submitted reports to the FEC, but only two raised money in the six figures: former state House Speaker David Clark ($135K) and conservative activist Cherilyn Eagar ($117K). However, businessman Bob Fuehr loaned his campaign $148K, though he only raised $7K from individuals. Author/Air Force vet Chris Stewart leads the pack in cash-on-hand with $113K (he'd loaned himself $65K the prior quarter).Redistricting Roundup:
UT-04: Dem Rep. Jim Matheson, who chose to seek re-election in this district (he currently represents the old 2nd), far outpaced the field, pulling in $339K (and he has almost $1 mil in the bank). Saratoga Springs mayor Mia Love and ex-state Rep. Carl Wimmer both raised about $80K, while ex-state Rep. Stephen Sandstrom largely eschewed traditional fundraising (just $9K) and instead loaned his campaign $127K. He has $131K left and Wimmer $114K; Love trails with just $39K.
• NY Redistricting: Well this is just terrible. A state court judge has ruled that the mathematical legerdemain which allowed Republicans to add a 63rd seat to New York's state Senate map is not unconstitutional. You can read the written opinion at the link (the details are tricky to summarize), but it's at least notable that the judge called the GOP's chicanery "disturbing." Fortunately, Democrats immediately vowed to appeal.
• PA Redistricting: It looks like Pennsylvania is finally getting close to nailing down a new set of legislative maps (after the previous batch got wiped out in litigation for splitting too many municipalities, meaning the new lines won't take effect until 2014). Each chamber's map sees one seat gravitating from the state's depopulating southwest to its growing southeast, and in each case, a convenient departure made the choice of which seat to wipe out easier. In the House, it's the seat of Democrat Chelsa Wagner, recently elected Allegheny Co. Controller, and in the Senate, it's the seat of Republican Jane Orie, just convicted of multiple felonies. (If you're wondering why the GOP, despite controlling the trifecta, would consent to such a thing, it's because they didn't; while Congressional redistricting is controlled by the legislature, legislative redistricting is controlled by bipartisan commission.) (David Jarman)