• WV-Sen: You know what anti-smoking laws are like? They are JUST LIKE HITLER. So says John Raese, the Republican candidate for Senate in West Virginia:
I don't want government telling me what I can do and what I can't do because I'm an American. But in Monongalia County you can't smoke a cigarette, you can't smoke a cigar, you can't do anything. And I oppose that because I believe in everybody's individual freedoms and everybody's individual rights to do what they want to do and I'm a conservative and that's the way that goes.You know, I don't think Hitler did that to everybody, now that I think about it.
But in Monongalia County now, I have to put a huge sticker on my buildings to say this is a smoke free environment. This is brought to you by the government of Monongalia County. Okay?
Remember Hitler used to put Star of David on everybody's lapel, remember that? Same thing.
• AR-Sen: Dem Sen. Mark Pryor isn't up for re-election until 2014, and I hadn't even heard rumors that he might not be interested in running again. But apparently they existed, because the Arkansas Times got a hold of a letter Pryor sent to supporters in which he addresses them:
For some reason, there have been several rumors around the state that I will not seek re-election in 2014. I have heard I am running for Governor or that I will take a position with a university. I have even heard that I am going to seminary! Regardless of these rumors, I am planning on running for re-election in 2014."Planning on running" is quite a bit less ringing that "I'm definitely running" or even just "I am running." So while we have to take Pryor at his word for now, I'd pencil him in on the margin of your retirement watch list, even though he's only 49.
• AZ-Sen: Rep. Jeff Flake's been drawing some fire from his Republican Senate primary rival, self-funder Wil Cardon, for being a "Washington insider." National Journal has some in-depth context on that, though, looking at Flake's lobbying activities before he was in Congress, specifically a this-doesn't-sound-good gig working on behalf of a uranium mine in Namibia with ties to Iran. (David Jarman)
• FL-Sen: This is a level of lame almost on a par with getting Marilyn Quayle to lean on Jan Brewer over Arizona redistricting: Former Sen. Connie Mack III just wrote a very whiny, defensive-sounding letter to donors attacking "the left-wing media" and going on and on about how "proud" he is of the race being waged by his son, Rep. Connie Mack IV. My mom thinks I'm the most handsome boy there ever was, too.
• IN-Sen: Ugh. I really hope this winds up being a minor blip and doesn't turn into a goal line fumble by Richard Mourdock's campaign. The AP explains:
At issue is a March 14 email obtained by The Associated Press in which Mourdock campaign manager Jim Holden writes that Mourdock staffers should "start pillaging email addresses" from a voter database known as Salesforce, which is used by all Indiana Republicans.That's actually a pretty funny email, but Indiana Republican leaders aren't happy and say they're investigating the incident.
"We have a Salesforce login again. Can one of you guys login immediately and start pillaging email addresses like a Viking raider attacking a monestary full of unarmed monks?" Holden wrote. In the email, he also instructed them to take the information, "download into our house file" and remove duplicate entries.
• MO-Sen: Rasmussen: Claire McCaskill (D-inc): 42 (41), Sarah Steelman (R): 49 (41); Claire McCaskill (D-inc): 43 (43), Todd Akin (R): 48 (50); Claire McCaskill (D-inc): 45 (42), John Brunner (R): 45 (49)
• NE-Sen: There's a pretty clear establishment vs. tea party dynamic happening in Nebraska's Republican Senate primary, where state AG Jon Bruning is the fundraising and polling leader, but state Treasurer Don Stenberg has the backing of folks like the Club for Growth. Another heavy-hitting third party group took sides on Thursday, this one on the establishment side, though: the US Chamber of Commerce gave its backing to Bruning. (David Jarman)
• TX-Sen: You may recall that Gov. Rick Perry gave a weird semi-endorsement to his right-hand-man, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, in the Republican Texas Senate primary back in January (consistent with the rest of the incoherent things he did that month). Now Perry seems to be a little clearer of mind, though, and he gave a full-throated endorsement to Dewhurst on Wednesday, still seemingly the frontrunner but maybe sweating the challenge from the right from Ted Cruz a bit more lately. (David Jarman)
• UT-Sen: The Salt Lake Tribune is out with a new poll, courtesy Mason-Dixon, that tests a hypothetical (and actually impossible) GOP primary for Utah's Senate race. What's interesting is that Sen. Orrin Hatch's numbers among the broader Republican electorate are almost exactly the same as those we've seen from polls of state convention delegates, who are gathering this Saturday to vote on nominees. Hatch takes 62%, while ex-state Sen. Dan Liljenquist is at 20 and state Rep. Chris Herrod is at 7. The reason why this three-way can't happen, though, is because at most, two candidates are permitted to move on from the convention to the primary—and only if no one clears 60% in the delegate vote (something Hatch looks likely to do).
But even if for some reason Hatch falls short and winds up in a primary with Liljenquist, he looks extremely well-positioned to survive (if not kick ass). The only surprising thing is that Hatch is doing as well among delegates, who are generally regarded as being maximally movement-conservative types, as he is among Republicans in general. I think it's a testament to Hatch's strong political skills and hard work over the last year-plus that he finds himself in such a salubrious position. Dick Lugar could have learned a thing or two from ol' Orrin, that's for sure.
• WI-Sen: Eric Hovde, the fourth wheel in the Republican Senate primary in Wisconsin, may not be making any impression in the polls yet, but he's at least exciting local TV executives. Somewhat under the radar, he's been the biggest spender in this race (most of which comes from his own wallet, though he's raised $100K from others). He's out with a second ad in just six weeks of actively campaigning (which you can see at the link); the buy is $450K, on top of $400K for his previous ad.
Hovde (a never-before-elected rich guy) is getting some bad press in the local media, though, with stories popping up this week that despite his public opposition to TARP (and his promises that he's never owned a bank that benefited from TARP funds), his private equity firm just finished purchasing a bank (Carrollton Bank, in Maryland) that previously was a TARP recipient. In the bigger picture, though, if you're trying to appear relatable to regular people, does it help matters if you can say you "just bought a bank" a few weeks ago? (David Jarman)
• WI-Gov: Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett is out with an internal poll of the Democratic primary (from Garin-Hart-Yang), showing him with a 41-27 lead over his nearest rival, former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. (Doug La Follette and Kathleen Vinehout are in single digits). That's a pretty similar spread to the 38-24 margin PPP recently found.
• CA-02: In the dark blue CA-02, the race now seems to be all about who can come in second in June's top-two primary. Assemblyman Jared Huffman is the undisputed front-runner, and almost no matter what, the person he faces in November will be a fellow Democrat. The question is which one. At a recent candidate forum, two hopefuls—activist Norman Solomon and Marin County Supervisor Susan Adams, both directed their fire at businesswoman Stacey Lawson, which suggests that she might be the one to beat for that coveted second spot.
Solomon chastised Lawson for her very spotty voting record, which even included a failure to cast a ballot in Nov. 2008 (you know, when Obama won). Adams, meanwhile, accused Lawson of mismanagement of a company whose board she chaired, which Adams said "failed to pay investors and creditors millions of dollars before it went under and failed to pay payroll taxes for 15 quarters." (Lawson said the taxes were later paid but acknowledged that some creditors were stiffed when the company went out of business.)
Meanwhile, Lawson is up with an ad, making her the first candidate to do so (not surprising, since she led the fundraising pack in the first quarter of the year). In it, she mentions her humble upbringing but mostly focuses on jobs. You can watch it here or below:
• CA-52: This is starting to get a little weird. SurveyUSA is out with yet another poll (again favorables-only) of the congressional race in CA-52, on behalf of KGTV-TV. That makes it their fourth so far, but as you can see if you click through to the individual candidates' trendlines (here's GOP Rep. Brian Bilbray's, for instance), there's been very little change over time—unsurprising, given that this race really has yet to heat up.
• IA-03: Presumably in response to news that the DCCC has reserved air time totaling almost $2 million in Iowa's 3rd CD and the adjacent 4th, GOP Rep. Tom Latham is responding with a reservation of his own, for $1.5 million. Given that he's got $2 mil in the bank (versus just $644K for his Democratic opponent, Rep. Leonard Boswell), Latham can actually afford this (though remember that a reservation is not the same thing as an actual buy).
• IL-08: GOP Rep. Joe Walsh, notorious for owing his ex-wife six figures in unpaid child support, has finally settled his dispute. Weirdly, as Cameron Joseph points out, Walsh and his former spouse put out a statement that actually uses the phrase "deadbeat dad," saying:
Having resolved these issues together and cleared up these mistakes in private, we now agree that Joe is not and was not a "deadbeat dad" and does not owe child support.Not only is that a nice bit of revisionist history, but why would you trot out that term when you're trying to put this issue behind you? Very strange.
• IL-13: Democrat David Gill is out with an internal poll of the IL-13 general election, where the landscape abruptly changed not long when GOP Rep. Tim Johnson announced his unexpected retirement. Republicans are currently debating replacement candidates (they'll pick one in a few weeks), so Gill tested himself against two possible opponents: former Johnson chief-of-staff Jerry Clarke and Rodney Davis, an aide to GOP Rep. John Shimkus. Gill leads Clarke 40-33 and Davis 41-31, though I suspect Gill has broader name recognition given that he's been publicly campaigning for quite some time while Clarke and Davis are total unknowns. Regardless, it's a long way to 50% for both sides.
Also interesting is that Gill checked in on the presidential race and finds Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney by four points, though he doesn't provide the actual numbers. Obama won here by 11 in 2008, so that may be a cause for concern. Not that I'm worried about Obama losing Illinois, of course, but a rising tide lifts all ships—even if Gill wants to spin the presidential toplines as a positive sign that shows he "earned his lead on his own terms."
• NC-08: You'd be forgiven if you had assumed that Larry Kissell was already a Blue Dog: After all, he regularly votes like one. But despite representing Southern turf and having the 12th-worst lifetime Progressive Punch score on crucial votes among Democrats, Kissell was never a member—until now. Given that his seat became much redder in redistricting, this is a way for Kissell to signal his conservaDem bona fides and also, perhaps, to get help from his new fellow Blue Dogs, what few there are left.
Meanwhile, add one more Republican candidate in a red district to the birther heap: Richard Hudson, who's probably the frontrunner in the GOP pack. He recently told a tea party forum: "There’s no question President Obama is hiding something on his citizenship." What's more, he stood by his remarks when pushed by Roll Call, instead of trying to mumble about being misunderstood. Hudson didn't just fall off the turnip truck, either; he's a dread Washington insider!!1!, previously having been chief of staff to Texas Rep. Mike Conaway. (David Jarman)
• NY-06: When my colleague David Jarman sent me this link with the blurb "Plant gets out of race" my first thought was "Her?" But no, Jarman was referring to Jeffrey Gottlieb, the Board of Elections employee who was almost certainly recruited into the race by backers of Assemblywoman Grace Meng, in an effort to steal votes away from the other Jewish guy in the Democratic primary, Assemblyman Rory Lancman. But someone managed to dig up some good oppo on him, discovering that he'd been arrested and charged with arson for dousing his apartment with gasoline and setting the place ablaze in 1971. (He pleaded down to a lesser charge.)
These revelations prompted Gottlieb to bail on the race, but utilizing a quirk in New York election law, his campaign committee isn't going away. Rather, Gottlieb's designated another guy with a Jewish-sounding name, attorney Stephen Green, to run in his stead. Green better hope he doesn't have any skeletons in the closet, because I'd be very afraid of any opposition researchers capable of digging up 40-year-old arrests that had remained secret all this time.
• NY-27: Some big news: The Conservative Party has decided to back former Erie County Executive Chris Collins instead of Iraq vet David Bellavia. Bellavia seems to be the more doctrinaire of the two, but oddly for the Cons, who rarely seem to prize electability, party chief Mike Long says he believes Collins is the "strongest candidate to take on Kathy Hochul." He also added that there's some lingering unhappiness over the fact that Bellavia campaigned on behalf of crazy Jack Davis—and against Conservative (and Republican) Party nominee Jane Corwin—in the 2011 special election for this seat, won, of course, by Hochul.
• PA-17: This is an interesting turn of events in the final days of the Democratic primary in the 17th Congressional District. It sounds like Rep. Tim Holden, up against the ropes, begged for mercy, asking Matt Cartwright for a ceasefire on negative ads, even though he's dished out plenty himself—and Cartwright agreed. While Cartwright formally called on third-party groups supporting him to stand down, he's in the much better position, because his own campaign hasn't run any negative spots and he can't actually tell these outside organizations (like the Campaign for Primary Accountability and the League of Conservation Voters) what to do. If they stay on the airwaves with attack ads, oh well!
Holden, though, had been on his own—until Wednesday, when the Blue Dog PAC Center Forward stepped in with a $100K buy to attack Cartwright. The optics of that move don't seem good for Holden, though, given that he's been trying very hard to run away from his decades-long conservaDem record. (Of course, it's not like anyone will know who's airing the ads. That's just inside baseball.) In any event, I encourage you to check out Keegan Gibson's story on all these last-minute machinations, with links to all the various ads in question (including a dodgy final Holden hit on Cartwright that he just yanked off the air).
• PA-AG: Former prosecutor Kathleen Kane is touting an internal poll from Zata|3 showing her with a 42-33 lead over ex-Rep. Patrick Murphy in the Democratic primary, which takes place on Tuesday. Kane's also been airing an ad featuring Bill Clinton's endorsement in the campaign's closing days.
• TX-St. Sen: This is great, and it's the kind of thing I'd love to see more of in other states. Katherine Haenschen of the Burnt Orange Report has a complete guide to all of Texas's state Senate races this year, with ratings and background info on all 31 districts.
• 1Q Fundraising: In case you hadn't seen it yet, our complete House fundraising chart for the first quarter of 2012 is now available. We have numbers for over 500 candidates, and we've also added a new feature: columns which show how much candidates have loaned or donated to their own races. This lets you see how much every campaign is relying on self-funding.
• Netroots Nation: In case you missed it, Steve Singiser and I previewed the horserace Q&A panel we'll be conducting at Netroots Nation in June via webcast yesterday. (Full details on our panel here.) If you're interested, you can check out the link to watch an archived version. We kicked it off with a discussion of the key tossup Senate races, then took a number of good questions from the audience about topics like redistricting in North Carolina and the state of the Wisconsin recall Democratic primary. We may do another one of these before the conference, so we'll let you know if we do!
• Polltopia: Sweet! New Mexico prevailed, and PPP will be going in there this weekend (along with Texas). Tom Jensen is soliciting question ideas for his surveys in both states.