• CA-15: The drumbeat against Rep. Pete Stark keeps getting louder. Now the San Francisco Chronicle gets into the act, with a piece recapping all of Stark's recent madness, including news about the latest development. In response to Stark's utterly unsubstantiated charge that his Democratic primary opponent, Dublin city councilor Eric Swalwell, took bribes from developers, the Tri-Valley Democratic Club passed a resolution demanding that Stark either produce evidence to support his outrageous claims or retract them entirely. (Swalwell's campaign says the club is the largest in the district.)
Well, after going utterly silent for days, on Wednesday afternoon, Stark finally offered a bullshit apology, claiming he "misspoke." In fact, all Stark really did was repeat his smears. Get a load of the rest of his statement:
"Eric Swalwell has been a consistent vote on the Dublin City Council and on the Planning Commission supporting projects by developers who have been raided by the FBI, have pleaded guilty to destroying natural habitats, and has taken numerous contributions to fund his campaign which he consistently utilizes with negative attacks."What an asshole. Swalwell for his part isn't buying it, saying he's hire an attorney to look into a defamation case against Stark. It's funny: Stark says he still has "concerns about my opponent's behavior." More like every Democrat in the district or watching this race has concerns about Stark's behavior. I have a feeling it's going to get a lot worse for the incumbent before it gets better—if it ever does.
• FL-Sen: PPP's new poll of the Florida Senate race once again finds Dem Sen. Bill Nelson leading GOP Rep. Connie Mack by double digits, with Nelson's 47-37 edge little changed from his 46-35 advantage last November. These numbers, combined with other recent developments—Mack's desultory campaigning, his less-than-stellar fundraising, and Republican unhappiness sufficient to prompt state CFO Jeff Atwater into contemplating a last-minute entry—suggest that Nelson has a clear enough edge to prompt us to change our rating on this race from Tossup to Lean Democratic. You can also click through the first link for the full details on PPP's new survey, plus our analysis.
• HI-Sen: The trickle of 1Q fundraising numbers has all but stopped, but here's one last straggler: ex-Rep. Ed Case, who took in a seriously meager $138K, compared to over $1 mil for his Democratic primary opponent, Rep. Mazie Hirono. Some of you were asking the other day whether anyone had ever hit the entire loser-speak trifecta in a single press release. I don't know if that's ever happened, but Case did an impressive job in this text message to the Honolulu Star Advertiser, scoring two out of three:
"We were never going to win the money race because we're not hooked into the D.C. special interest money. This election isn't about who can raise the most money; that's the problem to start with. It's about who can fix D.C. and provide leadership to overcome our challenges."He complains about DC insiders and says the race isn't about how much money he can raise, all in the span of couple of tweets worth of characters. If only a survey were involved, he could have also said the only poll that matters is the one on election day. But I'm sure he's at least thinking it.
• IN-Sen (PDF): Well, at long last, here it is: After coming tantalizingly close on many occasions, Treasurer Richard Mourdock finally leads Sen. Dick Lugar in a poll of the Republican primary. Okay, it's a Mourdock internal (from McLaughlin & Associates), and it's by just one point, 42-41. But that's a big improvement from Mourdock's January survey, where he trailed 48-36. The poll also says that Mourdock's favorables went from 35-10 to 46-22 in that time, while Lugar's dropped from 57-34 to 47-39. Mourdock now has to find a way to hang on until the primary, which is May 8.
While we're on the topic, The Hotline's Kevin Brennan makes a very good point about why Lugar looks like he's in so much trouble, citing yet another new wound the flailing senator has inflicted on himself. With the GOP primary so clearly on the line, what's Lugar up to? Why, just penning an op-ed in the Washington Times "criticizing the Obama administration's handling of the sale of weapons to friendly foreign governments." As Brennan says, both the topic (irrelevant to the election) and the publication (situated rather far from Indiana) are "downright odd" indeed.
So you can understand why they're now in desperation mode over at the Home for Indiana Establishment Republicans. Politico reports that Gov. Mitch Daniels and Arizona Sen. John McCain have cut ads on behalf of Dick Lugar which are "likely to air in the closing weeks." (The ads themselves are not yet publicly availble.) When your biggest problem is shoring up your right flank, though, is John McCain really the guy you want? He may have survived a primary challenge from the right last cycle (thanks to facing a truly moronic opponent), but generally speaking, he's the sort of guy movement conservatives love to mistrust. Is Lugar trying to chivvy the last few country club Republicans into turning out on his behalf? Good luck.
• ME-Sen: Cynthia Dill (D): $25K raised in first quarter.
• OH-Sen: Republican Treasurer Josh Mandel is launching his first TV ad, a two-week buy for a hefty $580K. The ad tries to emphasize Mandel's military service and features... well, it features his boots. You can watch it at the link or below:
• PA-Sen: Ex-Plumcreek Twp. Supervisor (and rich guy) Tom Smith seems to be well on track to win the GOP primary, if the nonstop drumbeat of internal polls from his camp is any indication. In his newest survey from McLaughlin & Associates, he's at 35, with 16 for Sam Rohrer, and 10 for establishment fave Steve Welch. We have trendlines from his previous poll, released just a week ago, showing Smith gaining: He led Rohrer 29-14 in the prior sample.
There are also two new TV spots out in the primary, one of which is from Smith's campaign, hitting back at Steve Welch's ad that made hay of Smith's previous Democratic past. Smith's claim seems to be that, by voting for Barack Obama in the 2008 Dem primary, Welch was technically an even bigger Democrat than Smith. The other is an anti-Smith ad, still working the used-to-be-a-Dem meme; it's from a heretofore unknown super PAC with the Colbertesque name of Freedom Fund for America's Future, although observers think the PAC is linked to Welch's media consultants. (David Jarman)
• UT-Sen, UT-Gov: Two more polls came out Wednesday, attempting to poll the very small slice of the Utah population who will be participating as Republican convention delegates this Saturday. (I think we're getting to the point where nearly everyone who'll be a delegate must have been called for one of the four polls that have been released.) Both polls are consistent with the ones that came before them, though, in showing that Orrin Hatch is—far from getting Bob Bennett-ized—right on the cusp of clenching the nomination outright at convention. Failing that, he should still easily make the primary, which he'd be likely to survive given that the convention represents the hardest-core of the right.
One is from local pollster Dan Jones & Associates, on behalf of the Utah Foundation. They find Hatch at 61% (over the 60% threshold to clinch the nod), with state Sen. Dan Liljenquist at 20%. (They also find the Dem Senate field likely to go to primary, with Pete Ashdown at 39% and Scott Howell at 31%.) We actually have trendlines on that, as Jones did a previous internal poll for the Hatch campaign several weeks ago, which put Hatch at 62% and Liljenquist at 16%.
The Jones poll also looks at the gubernatorial and congressional conventions; most notably, they find incumbent Gov. Gary Herbert, also facing a challenge from several even more conservative opponents, right on the cusp of re-nomination as well. Herbert's at 61%, with his nearest competitor, ex-state Rep. Morgan Philpot, at 12%. On the House front, incumbents Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz will easily avoid primaries; in UT-02, the GOPers likeliest to end up in a primary are Chris Stewart (34%) and David Clark (21%). In UT-04, Saratoga Springs mayor Mia Love and state Rep. Carl Wimmer are out front, at 38% and 25% respectively—though, encouragingly, Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson gets the general election support of 23% of the poll's Republican participants.
Finally, there's also a poll from Republican pollster Wilson Research, on behalf of the Hatch campaign (odd, since the other Hatch internal was taken by Jones). Very similarly, they find Hatch at 63%, with Liljenquist at 21%. (David Jarman)
• FL-Gov: Democrats have their first official candidate looking to unseat first-term Gov. Rick Scott in 2014: state Sen. Nan Rich. Rich first made her interest publicly known last September, and she's definitely getting an early start. One reason for her to jump in so soon: She's term-limited and therefore can't seek re-election to the state Senate this year.
• TX-Gov: It's no surprise, given the insane level of fundraising he's been doing ($12 mil in the bank at last count), but state AG Greg Abbott has finally confirmed he's looking at a possible gubernatorial bid in 2014. The real question is whether Gov. Rick Perry will run for a fourth full term—something he's said he's considering—and if so, whether Abbott will seek to challenge him in the Republican primary regardless. Perry handily survived what was expected to be a serious effort to deny him renomination in 2010, but in the wake of his disastrous presidential bid, he could be a lot more vulnerable this time.
• WI-Gov: Politico reports that former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk is outgunning Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett on the airwaves, with some $758K spent on her behalf vs. $313K for her Democratic primary opponent. But the lion's share of the pro-Falk money—some $534K—has come from a third-party organization sponsored by labor unions called Wisconsin for Falk. I wonder if Barrett's hoping to win the primary by spending as little as possible, husbanding his resources for the one-month sprint against Gov. Scott Walker that will follow.
• AZ-08: On Tuesday night, as expected, 2010 nominee Jesse Kelly won the Republican nod once more, with a 36-25 victory over former Air Force combat pilot Martha McSally. State Sen. Frank Antenori took 22% and sports broadcaster Dave Sitton brought up the caboose with 17%. Kelly will now take on former Gabby Giffords staffer Ron Barber in the special election to fill Giffords' seat on June 12.
There will also be a regular election later this year, held in the renumbered (and slightly bluer) AZ-02. The filing deadline for that contest is May 30, so candidates hoping for a second bite at the apple can't wait on the outcome of the special to decide. That's why McSally has already declared she'll run in the November election, though of course there will be another primary first, on Aug. 28. If Kelly wins the special, McSally might well back down, but if he loses, then I think there's a good chance the GOP establishment will turn to her as an alternative for the fall, rather than risk a third shot with Kelly. (Antenori, meanwhile, sounds unlikely to run again, while no word as yet from Sitton.)
Meanwhile, Barber is out with his first ad for the June special election, mostly focusing on jobs and the need to "rebuild the middle class." He also hits a couple of right-wing notes, talking about "how government can get in the way" of job creation and that it's important "to secure the border." Annoying, but pretty predictable for a race in a red-tilting seat like this. The Hill reports that the buy is for only $40K, though. You can watch at the link or below:
• FL-26: So it looks like ethically embattled GOP freshman David Rivera will skate, at least regarding the state of Florida's investigation into his shady dealings:
U.S. Rep. David Rivera will not face criminal charges following an 18-month investigation of his personal and campaign finances by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, according to sources close to the probe.However, the Miami Herald notes that Rivera "still remains under investigation by the FBI and the IRS over a $510,000 payment from a dog track to a company managed by Rivera's mother and godmother."
Although records released late Monday show FDLE last year suspected Rivera of "possible criminal and ethical violations," ranging from campaign fraud to falsifying financial disclosure forms, prosecutors have concluded that they cannot charge the Miami congressman with any crimes because of ambiguities in the state's campaign finance laws and a shortened statute of limitations that barred prosecution for expenses more than two years old.
• IL-13: If you'd like to see a list of Republicans who've expressed interesting in replacing GOP Rep. Tim Johnson on the November ballot, I encourage you to click through the link. Since a candidate will get tapped by local officials rather than via a primary, though, I'm not going to run through all the names here.
• NY-25: As you may know, veteran Dem Rep. Louise Slaughter fell and broke her leg earlier this month. The injury was described as a "very severe fracture of the femur" which required the bone to be set with plates and screws. Needless to say, at age 82, this can be a very debilitating injury, though Slaughter said at a recent press conference that she expects to be back in DC by early May. (A full recovery will take three months.) She also dismissed any retirement rumors, saying that her health is otherwise "fine."
• PA-12: Has Mark Critz closed the gap? We don't have proper trendlines, but a last-minute poll from Susquehanna Polling & Research for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and WPXI-TV shows the race closer than any prior survey has. They find Jason Altmire leading Critz 43-39 in the Democratic primary, which is less than a week away. Altmire's last internal poll had him up 55-31, but that was from a month ago, before the paid media war began in earnest.
Meanwhile, Altmire has a new ad out in which he directly responds to charges by Critz, speaking directly to camera. (Interestingly, he hasn't uploaded it to his own YouTube page.) In a recent spot of his own, Critz accused Altmire of putting "Medicare at risk" by voting for "the Republican balanced budget amendment." Altmire is reduced to saying, "nuh uh, I did it to protect Medicare." Once again, though, Altmire is placing himself in opposition to the vast majority Democrats, who voted overwhelmingly against the BBA, so there's a bit of a credibility problem with this kind of defense. You can watch at the link or below:
• Dark Money: Crossroads GPS, the non-profit arm of the superest of all the Super PACs, American Crossroads, publicly released their tax filings for the years 2010 and 2011, and that provides some interesting insight into what it is they do. Maybe most significantly, they're truly behaving like a crossroads, refunneling much of their money ($17 million worth) back to various other conservative groups that spend money on elections, like the 60+ Association (the bizarro-world AARP), Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, and the National Federation of Independent Business. That kind of re-gifting may be part of an overall legal strategy, though; they're a 501(c)(4) and thus can't have political spending as their primary purpose. So, by giving away much of their money, they can claim they only spend less than one-quarter of their money on "political campaign and lobbying activities," helping them keep from running afoul of the IRS.
And if you're wondering where their money comes from, well, keep wondering. Because of 501(c)(4) status, their donors remain anonymous; what's remarkable is how few of them there are. In their first 19 months of operations, they raised $77 million from fewer than 100 donations. Two dozen donors contributed $1 million, while two donors contributed $10 million apiece. (David Jarman)
• DCCC: In case you hadn't seen it yet, Politico is reporting that the DCCC has reserved $32 million in ad time for this November's elections. (Confusingly, the piece repeatedly refers to it as a "buy," but it sounds like it is indeed just a reservation, much as we saw when the NRSC did the same thing for $25 mil last week.) The full list of specific reservations—which potentially covers as many as 36 House districts, most of them Republican-held—can be seen here.
• House: Democracy Corps (via Greenberg Quinlan Rosner) regularly polls the most competitive "battleground" House districts, and while they can't give significant results for each and every district, what they find cumulatively looks fairly good. (You can find a list of the 56 districts at the link, which for downballot race junkies is worth checking out even if you can't put much stock in the individual race results due to small sample sizes.) They find Democratic incumbents, taken together, hitting 50% in generic-opponent head-to-heads; Republican incumbents lead generic D opponents 49-43 (which is down from a 14-point margin in September). They also find that messaging that clearly explains the Ryan budget is a potent weapon for Dems, leading to a 9-point swing in the Dem direction on the "informed ballot" (i.e. after hearing both side's messaging about it). (David Jarman)
• New York: I've now managed to get an official copy of all federal campaign filings for congressional seats contained wholly within New York City, for those of you who are interested.
• Polltopia: Please vote for New Mexico in PPP's "where should we poll" poll.