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Leading Off:

MN-08: The establishment is certainly rallying around ex-Rep. Rick Nolan, as he seeks an unlikely comeback to the House after retiring thirty (!) years ago. All six Democratic members of the state's congressional delegation—Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, and Reps. Collin Peterson, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison and Tim Walz—were set to appear at a DC fundraiser for Nolan on Wednesday. So was ex-Rep. Jim Oberstar, the man who held this seat until he was shockingly upset in 2010 by Republican Chip Cravaack. Two other notable names also helped to host the event: Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin and California Rep. George Miller who, like Nolan, were originally elected to the House in 1974, the year of the Watergate scandal. Trivia question: Who else first won office that year and is still serving in Congress?


FL-Sen: Senate hopeful Connie Mack just got a fist-bump from presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, which is interesting, because I can't think of a whole lot of Republicans facing potentially competitive primaries who would actually want Romney's endorsement. (Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch was a rare exception.) But Mack's primary is pretty strange, since his main opponent, ex-Sen. George LeMieux, can't really attack him from the right and has mostly focused on Mack's (rather glaring) character flaws. So I guess Romney's support doesn't come with a price it otherwise might were Mack facing a challenge from a more conservative opponent.

MT-Sen: As per usual, PPP finds outgoing Gov. Brian Schweitzer beating Sen. Max Baucus in a hypothetical Democratic Senate primary in 2014, 48-37. That's down from 51-35 last November, which is partly explained by Baucus's improving job approval numbers, now standing at 42-46 (up from 37-51). PPP also asked about same-sex marriage, finding more support for the idea than last time.

By the way, due to Montana's unusual term-limits laws, Schweitzer would be eligible to run for governor again... in 2020. (You can only serve eight years in any given 16.) He'd only be 65 then, so it wouldn't be out of the question. It wouldn't even be unprecedented: Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad took twelve years off before coming back to win in 2010.

NE-Sen: As you undoubtedly saw, state Sen. Deb Fischer won a big upset in the Nebraska GOP Senate primary on Tuesday night, dispatching AG Jon Bruning by a 41-36 margin, with Treasurer Don Stenberg far behind at 19—pretty much exactly as the last-minute polling had it figured. The consensus seems to be (as folks like Tom Jensen and myself suggested before the votes were tallied) that while Bruning and Stenberg (and their allies) whaled on each other, Fischer became the late beneficiary, turning into the most appealing alternative to two candidates who'd driven each other's negatives upward during the race. It's a phenomenon we've seen a number of times before, but it's always a bit surprising to watch it actually unfold before your eyes.

It's also interesting to see far-right groups like the Club for Growth, which supported Stenberg, try to spin Fischer's victory as their own, merely because Bruning (their main target) lost. But as Reid Wilson points out, Fischer amassed a very moderate record during her time in the legislature, and suggests the CfG et al. may well return to Nebraska in six years' time in an effort to unseat her, something I could easily see happening.

In the meantime, though, Cornhusker Republicans probably wound up with their strongest candidate to hold off Dem ex-Sen. Bob Kerrey. Even though Fischer was a very weak fundraiser, as the nominee, all sorts of new money will now become available to her. And it's not like Karl Rove was going to let her do without. Our outlook on this race remains unchanged: Unless Kerrey and the Democrats can land some unusually strong hits on her, we still rate the contest a Likely Republican pickup.

NJ-Sen: Another day, another boring poll of the New Jersey Senate race. This time, it's from Quinnipiac (not that it's their fault this race is so snoozy), which has Dem Sen. Bob Menendez up 45-35 over Republican state Sen. Joe Kyrillos. Last month, it was 44-35. Feel the Bob-mentum!


NH-Gov: PPP's first poll of the New Hampshire gubernatorial race since John Lynch's retirement shows a nearly-tied race and a whole lot of undecideds (though the good news is that more Dems and indies are undecided than Republicans). In the likeliest matchups GOPer Ovide Lamontagne leads Maggie Hassan 40-39 and ties Jackie Cilley at 38 apiece. Click through for our full analysis. (David Jarman)

WI-Gov, WI-LG: Marquette Law School's latest poll paints almost exactly the same picture of the recall election as the new Daily Kos/PPP survey released a day earlier: GOP Gov. Scott Walker leads Democrat Tom Barrett by a 50-44 margin. Unlike PPP, though, which showed the race steady, Marquette saw things much closer late last month, with Walker up just 48-47. Marquette also has a wider spread in the LG race, with Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch leading Mahlon Mitchell 47-41 (vs. 46-43 in PPP's poll).


CA-01, KY-04, ND-AL: We'll see if they put their money where their mouths are, but conservative activist group FreedomWorks is endorsing three outsider Republicans in three open seat House races: Sam Aanestad in CA-01, Thomas Massie in KY-04, and Kevin Cramer in ND-AL. Roll Call's Shira Toeplitz does a good job explaining the posture of all three of these primaries and how FreedomWorks' picks line up against the establishment's choices.

FL-19: Ex-Gov. Jeb Bush just endorsed Chauncey Goss, who is hoping to reclaim his dad's old House seat, which is being vacated by Connie Mack as he makes his bid for Senate. Aaron Blake points out that if Chaney wins, the line of succession in this district would go from "Mack III to P. Goss to Mack IV to C. Goss."

MI-01: File this under "Looks like we missed this when it happened." Late last month, tribal leader Derek Bailey dropped out of the Democratic primary in Michigan's 1st Congressional District, opting instead to run against a Republican incumbent in the state House. That leaves former state Rep. Gary McDowell, who had been the frontrunner for the Dem nomination, free to focus all his energies on unseating GOP freshman Dan Benishek, the man who beat him in 2010 when this seat became open after Rep. Bart Stupak retired.

NE-02: In the other important Nebraska primary on Tuesday, Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing handily beat state Sen. Gwen Howard by a 62-38 margin, after which Howard immediately endorsed Ewing. He'll take on GOP Rep. Lee Terry, who beat a fractured field of Some Dudes in his own primary with an uninspiring 59.5% of the vote.

NJ-10: Another union has endorsed in the open-seat 10th CD Democratic primary: This time a local branch of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union is coming out for New City Council President Donald Payne, Jr. But they're a relatively small outfit, representing some 5,000 workers—much smaller than the 70,000-strong CWA, which (as we mentioned) endorsed Newark city councilor Ron Rice a day earlier.

NM-01: A while back, Bill Clinton endorsed former Albuquerque mayor Marty Chavez in the Democratic primary; now he's recording robocalls for him, ahead of the June 5 primary.

WA-01: You won't have Dennis Kucinich to kick around anymore. (At least not until some future cycle in some location to be determined.) Special K's confirmed that he isn't going to run anywhere else in the 2012 election, having already lost once in the OH-09 primary, saying "I will complete my service in the House on January 2, 2013." The timing of the announcement seems to be related to Washington state's filing deadline, which is on Friday, May 18, and where he's been linked with various possible open House seats (most notably the 1st, although the Olympia-based 10th would actually have given him a better toehold). (David Jarman)

Other Races:

Idaho Legislature: It doesn't get nearly the press that the internecine warfare in Kansas does, but the Republican Party in Idaho had a mini-civil war of its own as the highlight of Tuesday night's primaries. Several business-backed (and "moderate," at least by Idaho's tilted standards) incumbents were facing fierce challenges from the right, or from the Paul-esque quasi-Libertarian fringe. Only two incumbents, however, wound up getting defeated. One was veteran state Rep. Jim Marriott, who fell to fellow GOPer Julie Van Orden by a substantial margin in HD-31B. As with most other districts in the Gem State, winning the GOP primary is tantamount to election in the 31st district.

The other was state Rep. Phil Hart, a man who has frequently been described in media accounts as a "tax scofflaw and timber thief" (seriously) and who lost to challenger Ed Morse. This race was notable for another reason: ex-Rep. Bill "Brain Fade" Sali was one of Hart's staunchest supporters on the stump. Of course, given Hart's serious troubles, it's hard to view this as an ideological win. (Steve Singiser & James L)

MI-St. House: Meet your newest, least-favorite former Democrat: state Rep. Roy Schmidt. At Tuesday's filing deadline, Schmidt cravenly switched to the Republican Party, rather than seek re-election as a Dem in a seat which had been made tougher in redistricting. In exchange, the GOP agreed not to run anyone against him in the primary—and of course, by changing parties at the last minute, Democrats couldn't find a replacement for Schmidt on the ballot. Apparently an unknown fellow named Matt Mojzak did file as a Dem, but it's not clear whether he's a viable candidate.

Oregon: The race wasn't called Tuesday night, but on Wednesday it became clear that city councilor Charlie Hales and state Rep. Jefferson Smith are the ones advancing to the general election for Portland's mayor (leaving out businesswoman Eileen Brady, considered the frontrunner for much of the race). One other noteworthy race was the Democratic primary (and, sans any Republicans running, the de facto general) for Attorney General, won by Ellen Rosenblum over Dwight Holton in a race that turned largely on medical marijuana (Rosenblum is in favor).

The biggest result as far as the netroots is concerned, though, may have come in the Democratic primary for HD-48, where progressive Jeff Reardon, with netroots (MoveOn), labor (Working Families Party), and environmental (LCV) support, beat the occasionally Republican-voting (and Koch brothers-funded) incumbent Mike Schaufler. And it wasn't even close in the end; Reardon won 66-34. (David Jarman)

Grab Bag:

Michigan: Tuesday was the candidate filing deadline in Michigan, and you can see a full list of filers at the link. There aren't any surprises, except perhaps for one: House hopefuls must file at least 1,000 signatures (and no more than 2,000) in order to get on the ballot. But for no explicable reason, super-veteran Rep. John Conyers (who has served since 1965 and is seeking re-election in MI-13) only submitted 1,051 sigs—barely over the minimum. That puts him in a very precarious position, since it would only take a challenge to 52 of those signatures to knock him off the ballot. A large field, including three sitting legislators, is running against Conyers in the Democratic primary, so the odds are good that someone will try to ding his petitions. That would be an ignominious way to end a nearly 50-year career in Congress.

Passings: Former South Dakota Sen. Jim Abdnor, who unseated George McGovern in 1980 but only lasted in office a single term, has died at the age of 89. There's some really excellent electoral history in the linked obituary—it's a great read. By the way, the man who ended Abdnor's career? Former Sen. Tom Daschle.

Media Watch:

MA-Sen: A bunch of regular folks (some with some pretty serious Bahston accents) declare that Democrat Elizabeth Warren is a fighter—and one of them.

ND-Sen: A new PAC called the Veterans for a Strong America Action Group tries to paint GOP Rep. Rick Berg as a hypocrite for attacking government spending and debt but voting to increase both. I've long believed that Berg could be vulnerable in the Republican primary, even if his more-conservative opponent, Duane Sand, doesn't have a lot of chops—as long as Sand got some outside help. He'll probably need more than this, though, and if I were the DSCC, I'd be thinking hard about rat-fucking here. Size of the buy: $40K.

NM-Sen: Democrat Hector Balderas refers to (it seems) all of New Mexico's children as "underdogs" when it comes to education, and says he'll invest in them (and resist attempts by "Heather Wilson and the Republicans" to cut funding) because he knows "what it's like to be an underdog."

AZ-08: Republican Jesse Kelly once again trots out his grandfather to claim he won't cut Social Security. He did so once before in an even groanier ad, where gramps puts his hand on young Jesse's arm and implores: "Don't let Ron Barber cut my benefits, Jesse!"

CA-30: Former Olympian Rafer Johnson, who won a gold medal in the decathlon in the 1960 games in Rome, endorses Dem Rep. Howard Berman. In a slightly older spot, Don Knabe, a Republican member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, does the same. Seems like Berman is definitely trolling for GOP votes to avoid getting punked in the June top-two primary.

Meanwhile, Berman's Comic Sans-loving friends at the Committee to Elect an Effective Valley Congressman have re-upped their ad buy on his behalf. This latest $96K installment brings their total expenditures in this race to $285K. (James L)

CA-31: The National Association of Realtors is dropping another $110K on mailers in support of GOP Rep. Gary Miller. (James L)

HI-01: Democrat Tulsi Gabbard's fellow soldiers praise her hard work in this new spot from VoteVets. Size of the buy: $70K.

KY-04: Citizens For A Working America PAC is dropping $50K on a TV buy hitting Lewis County Judge Executive Thomas Massie (R), while their sworn enemies at the Americans For Growth, Opportunity and Prosperity have spent another $31K on direct mail in support of Massie. (James L)

NV-03: Joe Heck opened the pot, and now John Oceguera has raised. A day after the Republican incumbent reserved some $655K in fall television airtime, his Democratic challenger did the same, to the tune of $760K.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu May 17, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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