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Leading Off:

IN-Sen: I'm having a hard time deciding which last-minute vignette is most emblematic of Dick Lugar's failing bid for renomination. Either this one:

In the closing days of the campaign, Lugar has focused on what might happen if he's no longer in the Senate.

He said his signature program, the nuclear threat reduction program he co-sponsored with former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia, would fall by the wayside.

"I'm the only one that can convince people, regardless of administration, regardless of Congress, that it's still important that there are 5,000 nuclear warheads aimed at us, and I'm determined in my lifetime to try to remedy that," he said.

Or this one:
Sen. Dick Lugar is accusing tea party members of trespassing on his family farm and erecting 'Retire Lugar' signs on the eve of the Senate primary.

The six-term Republican incumbent said Monday he was alerted by his son that members of the Owen County tea party climbed over a fence at his Marion County farm to take down his campaign signs and put up their own.

"[They] had their pictures taken in front of a sign that said, 'Dick Lugar, tree farmer of the year, 2003,'" Lugar said during a stop at an assisted living facility, speaking from notes to recount the episode to reporters. "Then they had the audacity to put this on their Twitter accounts and Twitter it out… so that everybody would know that these people had trespassed our farm."

The first is a perfect distillation of how incapable Lugar has been of addressing the main concerns of Republican primary voters: the economy and sticking it to Barack Obama. Do you think they really want to hear about bi-partisan efforts to stem nuclear proliferation? Only Dick Lugar does.

Meanwhile, in the second, Lugar is almost literally reduced to crying out, "Hey you kids, get off my lawn!" (The tea partiers claim it wasn't their baseball that shattered Lugar's window they didn't trespass and merely "place[d] signs in the public easement.") Either example showcases just how disconnected and out-of-touch Lugar's entire campaign has been, and tonight, voters will render the final verdict.

Senate:

ME-Sen: Ex-Gov. Angus King (I-ME) says: "I will take note of how I am treated in this campaign." He also apparently released a poll—or at least leaked a lone detail to The New York Times—claiming he has a 70-16 favorability rating in his home state. I can't seem to find any further information about this survey, though.

MT-Sen: Here's yet another new ad from Dem Sen. Jon Tester, which features three different people speaking out on his behalf, including former Rep. Pat Williams, who represented the state 1979 to 1997. All praise Tester's commitment to open government and ethical integrity. The buy is for $60K, and you can watch the spot at the link.

NE-Sen: Cue sad trombone: "No one attended a town hall meeting scheduled in Grand Island on Friday featuring State Treasurer Don Stenberg, who is a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate." That's pretty remarkable—not a single soul! How do you screw up an event that badly?

Cue that sad trombone button a second time, though, because Republican-affiliated pollster We Ask America has a new survey of the Nebraska GOP Senate race, and poor Don only rates a third-place showing. Stenberg had at times looked like he was gaining on front-runner Jon Bruning, but though we don't have any trendlines, I don't think he's ever been behind Deb Fischer in a public poll. Anyhow, it's Bruning 42, Fischer 26, and Stenberg 23, with a bunch of Some Dudes rounding out the rest—and notably, WAA didn't allow respondents to say they were undecided, which I don't like. The primary is just a week away, though, so if this poll is accurate, it'll be exceedingly hard for anyone to catch Bruning.

NM-Sen: Dem Rep. Martin Heinrich is out with a new ad in which he portrays himself as a hasn't-gone-Washington type of pol, with the narrator saying that he "comes home almost every weekend" to connect with New Mexicans on issues they care about. You can watch it at the link or below:

WY-Sen, WY-AL: Politico trots out some speculation that Liz Cheney, the daughter of former VP Dick Cheney, could return to her dad's old home state and run for Senate or the House there. The younger Cheney lives in Virginia but spent some time in the Cowboy State during her childhood and has been hitting Republican events there of late, plus her pops of course represented Wyoming for six terms back in the '80s. The idea apparently is that Sen. Mike Enzi might retire in 2014, either giving Cheney a shot at his seat or that of Rep. Cynthia Lummis, if she tries for Enzi's post herself. Enzi will be 70 then, and when he was last up for re-election, he also flirted with retirement.

Gubernatorial:

IA-Gov: Republican Terry Branstad, who came out of retirement a couple of years ago to seek and win a fifth term as governor, says he hasn't decided whether he'll run again in 2014. (He's 65 years old.) But he adds that if he hangs up his spurs once more, he wants his lieutenant governor, Kim Reynolds, to succeed him. The linked article contains a good deal more background on Reynolds, if you're interested.

ME-Gov: Paul LePage, charming to the last. You'll love the raucous applause that begins even before he finishes his sentence:

If you can't watch the video:
LePage said the Legislature must summon the courage to pass structural changes to the state's welfare programs.

"Maine's welfare program is cannibalizing the rest of state government," he said. "To all you able-bodied people out there: Get off the couch and get yourself a job."

That last line earned a standing ovation.

(Hat-tip on the video: Bruce Bourgoine)

NC-Gov: PPP has a final poll out ahead of Tuesday's primaries, and they find the Democratic gubernatorial contest tightening. Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton's lead is now just 34-29 over ex-Rep. Bob Etheridge—it was 36-26 just a week ago. Tom Jensen still thinks a runoff (which only happens if no candidate gets to 40%) is unlikely, particularly because Dalton leads 44-31 among voters who have cast early ballots. Meanwhile, the anti-same-sex marriage/anti-civil unions Amendment 1 is prevailing by a big margin, as per usual: 55-39 are in favor.

And if you're wondering why Dalton has led Etheridge in all of the polling we've seen, here's one good reason: Dalton's had a huge fundraising edge, $1.4 million to judge $310K for Etheridge. For a view of the difference in both men's styles that goes beyond merely money, though, click through Rob Christensen's piece at The Charlotte Observer, where he explains that Dalton's run more of a Rose Garden campaign while Etheridge has been out there stumping, retail-style.

NH-Gov: Ex-state Sen. Jackie Cilley just picked up the endorsement of a local branch of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in her contest for the Democratic nomination with fellow ex-state Sen. Maggie Hassan.

WI-Gov: With the Democratic gubernatorial recall primary on Tuesday, it sounds like front-runner Tom Barrett is already pivoting a bit toward the one-month general election sprint. In his new ad, the narrator says that Barrett will "stop the fighting and end the chaos," and Barrett himself adds that it's time to "bring Wisconsin together"—a message that sounds aimed at GOP Gov. Scott Walker more than anything else. You can watch the spot at the link.

House:

CA-15: As the writeup says, "It seems Rep. Pete Stark can’t even make apologies without offending someone else." Stark conducted yet another newspaper editorial board meeting (for the Bay Area News Group papers) and finally, it appeared, apologized for his earlier claims that his primary opponent, Eric Swalwell, had accepted bribes from developers while serving on the Dublin city council. (A few weeks earlier, Stark put forth a bogus non-apology in which he just repeated the accusations.)

But just before doing so, Stark tried to further explain himself, arguing that a developer named Marc Crawford "was in trouble in Castro Valley for supposedly being in trouble with people he was involved with, somebody said ripped off." This infuriated Crawford, who sent an open letter to Stark (available at the link), demanding Stark either produce evidence to back up his statement, or issue an apology and a retraction. (This routine is starting to sound pretty familiar, huh?) No word yet on whether Stark has responded.

CO-05: I guess Doug Lamborn is feeling the heat: The Republican back-bencher is on the receiving end of a primary challenge from wealthy businessman Robert Blaha, and as we mentioned back in March, Blaha's been spending some legit sums to get his name out there on the airwaves—almost a quarter mil so far. Now Lamborn's out with two new negative ads attacking Blaha's business record, citing things like tax liens, failure to file required reports, and government fines. The ads are hosted on a site that apparently doesn't allow videos to be embedded elsewhere, but you can view them here.

IL-13: Illinois Republicans are certainly letting the process for finding a replacement for Rep. Tim Johnson drag out. They've now rounded down the eight-person field to four finalists, but they won't pick a nominee until May 19. (Johnson announced his surprise retirement a month ago.) So who made the cut? Former Johnson chief-of-staff Jerry Clarke, Rep. John Shimkus aide Rodney Davis, attorney and 2003 Miss America Erika Harold, and businesswoman Kathy Wassink. Interestingly, Johnson recently said he didn't think Clarke (or any former staffer) should succeed him, but evidently local GOP officials aren't heeding his advice.

MA-04: Republican Sean Bielat says he has an internal poll from Republican pollster OnMessage showing him "roughly 12 points behind" Joseph P. Kennedy III, but beyond that, details are sketch—like what the actual horserace numbers are. Supposedly the poll shows GOP Sen. Scott Brown 10 points ahead of Elizabeth Warren in the redrawn 4th as well, but if Bielat can't even be bothered to provide a proper polling memo, take this one with more than the usual helping of salt.

MI-07: Democrats have found a substitute for ex-Rep. Joe Schwarz, who declined to run late last week after a seemingly endless period of flirtation: Jackson County Democratic Party Chairman Ruben Marquez, who is also a former chair of the local UAW branch. Marquez only has until May 15 to collect the required 1,000 signatures to get on the ballot, though, so he'll have to hurry. Hopefully he'll be successful, because Democrats badly need an alternative to conspiracy theorist Kurt Haskell. The winner will take on GOP Rep. Tim Walberg.

MN-08: As expected, ex-Rep. Rick Nolan won the endorsement of Democratic activists at their district-wide convention this past weekend, scoring 76% on the first ballot. Nolan had swept all the preliminaries, so his victory was a foregone conclusion—but the nomination is not. The two other Democrats in the race, ex-state Sen. Tarryl Clark and Duluth city councilman Jeff Anderson, are both forging on to the August primary. I think Anderson has it exactly right when he says: "I think it’s a much more democratic process to let 70,000-some voters decide which candidate to support instead of a few party insiders."

NJ-10: Newark City Council President Donald Payne, Jr. has friends in high places: He was just endorsed by Dem Sen. Bob Menendez in the race to succeed Payne's recently-deceased father in Congress.

New York: The New York State Board of Elections ruled on a number of petition challenges late last week, and Capitol Tonight has a roundup of the key decisions:

NY-17: Rep. Nita Lowey (D) knocked off Independence Party line for falling 26 signatures short of the required 662. Rye Town Supervisor Joe Carvin (R) knocked off Conservative Party line for falling 10 signatures short of the required 271.

NY-21: Rep. Bill Owens (D) survives challenge to signatures submitted for Working Families Party line, with 11 more found valid than the required 60. However, a separate court case is still pending.

NY-22: Maurice Hinchey staffer Dan Lamb (D) knocked off Working Families Party line for paperwork error. Rep. Richard Hanna (R) blocked from receiving Conservative Party line for failure to obtain a Wilson Pakula (legally required authorization from party official to run on a line of a party a candidate is not a member of).

NY-23: Rep. Tom Reed (R) knocked off Independence Party line for falling 29 signatures short of the required 764.

NY-26: Rep. Brian Higgins (D) blocked from receiving Independence Party line for failure to obtain a Wilson Pakula.

NY-27: Iraq vet David Bellavia (R) barred from entering Conservative Party primary for failure to obtain a Wilson Pakula. Conservative nod will go to ex-Erie County Executive Chris Collins (R).

SC-07: Former Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer is out with his first ad of the race, a spot in which he claims to be a "proven conservative" and "blocked over $2 billion in tax increases," while soaring music plays and stock footage rolls. Roll Call's Joshua Miller says the buy is for $40K on broadcast and cable for two weeks.

WA-01: Suzan DelBene has seemed to get most of the key labor endorsements so far in the in the open 1st, perhaps most notably from the Machinists union, important in a Boeing-heavy district. That continued over the weekend with a couple more significant gets: On Friday, she picked up the backing of the state's largest public employees' union, the Washington Education Association. She then got the support of the Washington State Labor Council, which is the Washington federation of the AFL-CIO and also the state's largest labor organization. (David Jarman)

Other Races:

PA-AG: Former prosecutor Kathleen Kane, two weeks removed from her victory in the Democratic primary over ex-Rep. Patrick Murphy, is out with an internal poll of the general election, in which she'll face Cumberland County District Attorney Dave Freed. The survey, from Zata|3, shows Kane up 48-27, presumably at least partly an artifact of name recognition: Kane spent well in to the seven figures to win the Dem nod, while Freed was the only candidate who sought the GOP's nomination.

WI Recall: The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee is going up on the air with an ad attacking Republican state Sen. Terry Moulton, who is being challenged in the June recall by ex-state Rep. Kirsten Dexter. The spot hits some familiar themes from last summer's recalls, hitting Moulton for cutting education funding and supporting tax breaks for the wealthy. The buy is actually for a pretty hefty $100K, per the DLCC. You can watch here or below:

Grab Bag:

NV GOP: As expected, over the weekend Nevada got on the bridge back to the 19th century, with Ron Paul supporters making a huge showing at the state's convention. It's not as complete a party takeover as we saw recently in Alaska, where a Paulist actually became the state party chair; here, the state chair, Michael McDonald (elected a few weeks earlier), is a Mitt Romney backer, but Paulists grabbed the state's two RNC committeeperson slots on Saturday, and Paul wound up winning 22 of the 25 state's delegates up for grabs at the convention. (Similar Paulist shenanigans happened in several other states' conventions over the weekend, notably Maine.) This, of course, is barely a speed bump in Romney's path to the nomination, but Romney (and Dean Heller) can't be happy to see civil war going on in the state party in a swing state where on-the-ground mobilization will be his only hope of winning. (See atdnext's diary for more on the Nevada situation.) (David Jarman)

Redistricting: In case you missed it on Sunday, Daily Kos Elections' David Jarman put together a comprehensive analysis of congressional redistricting in every state of the nation, grouping them by how well each party advanced its political aims during the line-drawing process. In the end, it looks like there's a small net advantage to Democrats, in terms of the raw numbers of seats that are likely to change hands. But the big story is how well Republicans shored up their vulnerable incumbents in many states, which is likely to have a much greater impact on the 2012 elections. Click through to check out the full post.

Voter Registration: You may have seen an alarming-sounding Washington Post story last week about how voter registrations had declined, without any particular explanation, among Latinos and African-Americans, including a huge drop among Latinos in Florida. Rick Hasen did a little research, and found that using actual registration data in Florida, the kind mandated by the VRA, Latino registration in Florida was actually up 9% since 2008. The problem here? It seems the WaPo story was relying on self-reported Census data, which tends to not be as accurate as, y'know, actual registrations. The Obama campaign is also out with its own pushback talking points on the matter. (David Jarman)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue May 08, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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