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Leading Off:

LA-03: In case you missed it, GOP freshman Jeff Landry, the last member of the House who hadn't yet announced re-election plans, finally announced that he will—as long expected—run against fellow Republican Rep. Charles Boustany. Louisiana was actually the first state (along with Arkansas) to complete the congressional redistricting process last year, so Landry's been inexplicably dragging his heels for over a year. There'd been many tells, though, that he had no intention of hanging up his spurs after just a single term, and now it's officially game on.

On paper, the new 3rd District heavily favors Boustany, who's in his fourth term and already represents 76% of the district's constituents. Indeed, Louisiana's Republican establishment quite deliberately intended to force Landry over the edge of the iceberg when they drew their new map—someone had to go, since the state was dropping from seven seats to six. But Landry has tea party enthusiasm on his side and his credentials as a movement conservative are impeccable, whereas Boustany is decidedly an insider. And last cycle, Landry not only beat but obliterated the establishment pick in the GOP primary, former state House Speaker Hunt Downer, so I most certainly would not discount his chances.


IN-Sen: Don't expect the "great healing" between Richard Mourdock and Dick Lugar to begin anytime soon. When asked by Politico's Manu Raju if he would lend his support on the campaign trail or raise money for Mourdock, Lugar's reply was simply: "Once again, no comment." (James L)

FL-Sen: My Daily Kos Elections colleague David Jarman sent this link to me with the following blurb and nothing more: "Investigative reporters look into Connie Mack's toilet usage." That's funny enough that I'll let you click through to find out what the hell this is all about yourselves.


NC-Gov: PPP's newest look at the North Carolina gubernatorial race finds Democratic nominee Walter Dalton getting a post-primary bump, now trailing the GOP's Pat McCrory by 6 (instead of 11, as seen in March). Plus, Dems are in decent shape in the downballot races. Click through for our full analysis. (David Jarman)

RI-Gov: Former Rhode Island Auditor General Ernest Almonte officially filed paperwork to run for governor in 2014 on Monday. In March, he said he was "seriously considering" a bid, but at the time, it wasn't clear what party banner he'd run under, though he appeared to be, shall we say, "Lean D." Now it's confirmed, though, that he will in fact proceed as a Democrat. Note that auditor general is not an elected position in the Ocean State, and in fact Almonte has never run for office before.


AR-04: With the Arkansas primaries just a week away, Talk Business & Hendrix College have new polling out on both the Republican and Democratic primaries in the 4th Congressional District. On the GOP side, Iraq vet Tom Cotton leads 2010 nominee Beth Anne Rankin 51-33—a month ago, they were tied at 39 apiece. Since then, both Cotton and Rankin have gone up on TV.

Meanwhile, the Democratic field is quite unsettled, with attorney Q. Byrum Hurst leading state Sen. Gene Jeffress 23-22, while 2010 Senate candidate D.C. Morrison is at 11. Hurst has actually been on the air while Jeffress has run an invisible campaign—he hasn't even filed a single fundraising report—so if Hurst can stay on the air, he should have the edge. But if no one gets 50%, a runoff will be held on June 12.

CA-03: The NRCC is diving into California's redrawn 3rd District to help ensure that Colusa County Supervisor Kim Dolbow Vann earns a spot in the June top-two primary so that she can take on Dem Rep. John Garamendi in the fall. Vann is by far the most prominent Republican in the race and is the only challenger who has raised respectably, but I guess the NRCC just wants to ensure that no one else sneaks past her, which is why chair Pete Sessions is holding two fundraisers for Vann next week.

CT-02: Even though he was only in his second term, Dem Rep. Joe Courtney escape a serious challenge in 2010, and it looks like the GOP has just given up on this seat in general—all the more remarkable seeing as Republican Rob Simmons held the seat for three terms until getting swept out by Courtney in the Democratic wave of 2006. They had managed to land a bonafide legislator, state Rep. Chris Coutu, to give it the old college try this year, but he recently bailed to run for state Senate instead, which was probably the wise move. Now the GOP is down to a handful of nobodies, perhaps the most prominent of whom is East Lyme (pop. 18K) First Selectman Paul Formica, who just got into the race.

CT-05: State House Speaker Chris Donovan solidified his position as the frontrunner in the primary on Monday with a big win at the 5th District Democratic Convention. Donovan scored 64%, making him the party's official endorsee. (That gets him the first spot on the ballot in the Aug. 14 primary.) His two main rivals, Elizabeth Esty and Dan Roberti, were far off the pace: Esty took 19% and Roberti 16%. That does mean that both of them will get to appear on the primary ballot without having to petition their way on (the threshold for that is 15% of the delegate vote), but Donovan is definitely in the driver's seat.

P.S. Donovan also just secured the endorsement of the Connecticut State Police Union.

MA-06: The Sixth District congressional race in Massachusetts makes me quite nervous: It's a seat any bog-standard Democrat should be able to hold with aplomb, but one which Rep. John Tierney, dogged—fairly or not—by his wife's tax fraud conviction—could very well lose. He's facing ex-state Sen. Richard Tisei, who has done a good job of crafting a "moderate" image for himself (it helps that he's gay and pro-gay marriage) and who managed to outraise the incumbent last quarter.

Now Tisei's out with an internal poll from McLaughlin & Associates, showing him up 40-33 over Tierney. Thirty-three percent is a remarkable number for an incumbent, especially a Democrat in a 57% Obama seat. Indeed, that figure is so low that I'm having a difficult time believing it—I think Tisei may have tried to gild the lily here. Tierney's campaign responded with January numbers from the Global Strategy Group showing him up 46-31, which sound a lot more plausible, but even these figures concern me. I'd love to see an independent poll here.

NJ-09: Is Obama strategist David Axelrod turning into the anti-Clinton? Obviously the president himself can't take sides in the member-vs.-member primary between Reps. Bill Pascrell and Steve Rothman, but Axelrod—as close to a stand-in for the president as you can realistically get on the political side of things—is reportedly stepping in on Rothman's behalf. As The Washington Post's Aaron Blake points out, Axe made a recent campaign stop for another Democrat whose primary opponent was endorsed by Bill Clinton, ex-Rep. Patrick Murphy in the Pennsylvania AG's race. Pascrell also recently received the Big Dog's backing, so Axelrod's intervention may be a rejoinder.

PA-16: Funny.

SD-AL: When freshman GOP Rep. Kristi Noem was first elected to Congress, she originally wasn't assigned to the House Agriculture Committee—the first time in three decades that South Dakota wasn't represented on the panel. Noem eventually managed to cadge her way on, but now Democrats are pointing out that her attendance record at committee meetings has been extremely poor. Since her appointment, she's only participated in four of 20 sessions, and even managed to miss her very first meeting, where the chair rather embarrassingly sought to introduce her to her new colleagues. Congressional scholars point out that taking attendance at committee meetings is often a messy business (there are no official records, and it's easy to juke the stats by showing up for 30 seconds), but Noem's refusing to comment, which certainly makes her look guilty.

WA-01: Unsurprisingly, Republican John Koster says he's "not inclined" to run in the special election for the final months of ex-Rep. Jay Inslee's unexpired term, preferring instead to focus on the election for the full term that's taking place the same day. Republicans may try to recruit King County Councilwoman Kathy Lambert as a placeholder instead. (We wrote up the Democratic picture in the previous digest.)

WA-08: Even though Democrat Karen Porterfield has raised all of $14K (and just $190.00 last quarter), she somehow found a way to spend $25K on an internal poll of the race from McGuire Research. The details are sketchy, and there are no head-to-heads with GOP Rep. Dave Reichert, but Porterfield says his re-elects are 34-44. Still, it'll take a miracle to unseat Reichert, especially given the redder contours of the re-drawn 8th.

Grab Bag:

Club for Growth: The dystopians at the Club for Growth have released a report card on the voting records of the 87 freshmen members of the Republican class—and they don't sound too happy about it. Here are a few excerpts from their press release:

• In 2011, freshmen Republicans received an average score of 71% on the Club for Growth's Congressional Scorecard. The average veteran received a 69%. This means the freshmen Republicans voted, on average, about the same as the Republicans who were already in Congress.

• "Tea Party star" Rep. Allen West received an anemic 64% for voting to raise the debt ceiling and by repeatedly voting against spending cuts.

• Charlie Bass ran for the seat he lost in 2006 by declaring that the agenda of the tea party "is exactly the same as mine." He received a pathetic 48% in 2011.

The full freshman scorecard is available here, and an expanded PDF for all members of the House which details exactly how members voted on roll calls the CfG considers important is here. There's also a Senate version.

Fundraising: Late last week, candidates were due to file pre-primary FEC reports in Arkansas and Kentucky. A little before that, pre-convention filings were due in Connecticut and some Virginia House races. We've gathered up all the numbers at the link.

Polltopia: Mark Blumenthal points out a new problem for pollsters, maybe an unintended side effect of the fact that there are a lot more polls out there than there used to be. Potential respondents are increasingly tuning them out, calling into question the usefulness of polling data when there's more and more self-selection bias as to who bothers to participate. That group increasingly looks to be skewed toward high-information voters.

Pew Research finds that, between 1997 and 2012, contact rates (getting somebody to pick up the phone in the first place) have fallen from 90% to 62%. You might blame cellphones and/or caller ID screening, but landline contact rates have fallen just as much. In addition, response rates (getting a completed interview out of a call) over that same period are down from 36% to 9%. (David Jarman)

PPP: We've decided to focus our efforts on Michigan in this week's "where should we poll?" poll from PPP.

Same-sex Marriage: The Monkey Cage has several interesting charts showing just how predictable support for same-sex marriage is from state to state: It's pretty strongly correlated with ideology on the blue-to-red spectrum we're all familiar with, although religiosity shifts a few states significantly on the spectrum (non-religious states like Colorado and Alaska in one direction, strongly religious states like North Carolina and New Mexico in the other).

They also debunk the question of "if same-sex marriage is so popular, why have bans been passed in most states?" with an easy answer: Most of those bans happened a decade ago, when marriage equality was much less popular. Based on how opinions have changed since then, they name a number of states where bans would probably fail if up for a vote today. (David Jarman)

Media Watch:

• We're consolidating our daily "Ad Watch" and "Independent Expenditure" roundups into one general "Media Watch" section, since we found we were duplicating our own work in many instances. So here you'll find new campaign ads, media buys, and other related information (including the occasional poll that winds up on an IE report).

FL-Sen: GOP Rep. Connie Mack puts out an ad he calls "TV-ready"—what, he was too cheap to pay the $9K for a fake media buy like he did last time? The spot attacks ex-Sen. George LeMieux for voting to end the filibuster on a $30 billion bill to boost lending to small businesses pushed by President Obama.

MA-Sen: Democrat Elizabeth Warren's new radio ad uses J.P. Morgan's recent $2 billion trading loss as a hook to talk about oversight of Wall Street.

MO-Sen: Politico reports that the DSCC's original $3.5 million reservation of ad time on behalf of Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill (first reported a week ago) has been bumped up to $4.9 mil.

TX-Sen: The Texas Conservatives Fund, a David Dewhurst-aligned shell org, is expanding their $1 million ad buy against former Solicitor General Ted Cruz by another $250K. (Their ad, which we featured in yesterday's digest, can be viewed here.) (James L)

UT-Sen: GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch is going up with his first post-convention ads (he still faces a primary from ex-state Sen. Dan Liljenquist). Oddly, we have the size of the buy ($133K) but not the ads themselves, which Hatch's campaign says are "positive."

IN-Gov: Rep. Mike Pence is up with his first ad, a minute-long positive bio spot narrated by his wife.

NC-Gov: The RGA tries to tie Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton to unpopular Gov. Bev Perdue and the economic downturn that's taken place in North Carolina while she's served in the statehouse. Size of the buy: $865,000. Gross ratings points: 820 in Greensboro/Winston-Salem, 750 in Raleigh and 490 in Greenville.

AZ-08: Citizens United repeats the all-time classic lie that "$500 billion was taken from Medicare" to pass the Affordable Care Act, and attacks Ron Barber for refusing to support repealing the bill. Size of the buy: $100K.

CA-24: Republican Abel Maldonado touts his family turning "a few acres into a thriving family-run small business"—over a backdrop of what looks like an enormous farm. He also insists that "bank bailouts" and "costly regulations" "make things worse."

CA-30: The Committee to Elect an Effective Valley Congressman is out with two more jaw-droppingly amateur-hour ads in support of Dem Rep. Howard Berman. (The first embedded video at the link is one we've already shown you.) The phony man-on-the-street interview with a "construction worker" must be seen to be believed. This whole thing almost feels like a grand joke.

KY-04: Susan B. Anthony List is dishing out $10K for radio ads in support of Republican Alecia Webb-Edgington. Stacked up against the huge sums that 21 year-old college Republican John Ramsey is pumping into the race on behalf of Lewis County judge-executive Tom Massie, this is really like showing up to a gun fight armed with spitballs.

MT-AL: Dem state Sen. Kim Gillan's first ad features a man in a suit literally kicking a literal can down a literal road—"how Washington deals with problems"—something she promises she won't do.

NM-01: Dayumn! Dem state Sen. Eric Griego promises that he "won't stop until Wall Street bankers who broke the law go to jail." Yes!

NV-03: GOP freshman Joe Heck reserves a hefty $700K in air time for October and November—presumably trying to get ahead of the big rush of presidential campaign spending that will soon flood Nevada. No ads yet, though.

TX-16: The Campaign for Primary Accountability finally gets off its butts and attacks Dem Rep. Silvestre Reyes as a self-dealer. (It sounds to me like the narrator has just the slightest of Hispanic inflections to her voice.) Size of the buy: $50K.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Wed May 16, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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