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Leading Off:

CO-06: Sometimes it's just amazing when Republicans reveal what lies truly deep in their hearts—amazing not because of the crazy shit they believe, but because they simply cannot censor themselves. Sophomore GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, at a fundraiser last weekend, completely unprompted:

"I don't know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don't know that. But I do know this, that in his heart, he's not an American. He's just not an American."
He not only goes birther, but he also questions the president's patriotism in one fell swoop. Coffman immediately knew he'd said the quiet part loud as soon as he was called on it by local TV station 9News, because he claimed he "misspoke" and said he apologizes—but then tried to rationalize his way out of this mess by adding, "I don't believe the president shares my belief in American Exceptionalism." Mmhm.

As you may know, Colorado's 6th Congressional District was made significantly bluer in redistricting, going from a seat John McCain won by a 53-46 margin to one Barack Obama won, 54-45. That's made Coffman extremely vulnerable this year, yet he's still acting as though he's running in the district that repeatedly elected Tom Tancredo to Congress. And it means this screw-up is a huge gift to Democrats, who I'm sure will make great use of it on behalf of Coffman's opponent, state Rep. Joe Miklosi. I love it when Republicans tell us what they really believe.


ND-Sen: I feel like today is one of those days filled with a bunch of problematic polls that require extensive writeups to explain what exactly they got wrong. (See my separate RI-01 item below. And I'm obviously not even going to bother with Rasmussen.) Case in point is the new survey from the Fargo Forum, courtesy Essman/Research, the first independent poll of the North Dakota Senate race. (As you may know, the state doesn't allow robocalls, so polls are rare.) Contrary to two unanswered Democratic polls which both showed former state AG Heidi Heitkamp up five points over GOP Rep. Rick Berg, Essman has Berg on top 51-44. They also have Heitkamp beating second-stringer Duane Sand 48-45, but Berg is burying Sand in the GOP primary, 65-21.

But one very big problem stands out: This is a poll of likely voters in the June primary, and that definitely skews things because that electorate is different from what we can expect in November. As I just noted, there's a contested Republican primary for Senate, but also for the House as well. There are also a number of extremely wingnutty ballot measures that are up for a vote in June as well, including one that would eliminate all property taxes, and another on the extremely controversial issue of whether the University of North Dakota should be required to use the "Fighting Sioux" nickname.

But here's the weirdest thing of all. Forum's new poll tested both of these measures (see here and here), yet they did not permit respondents to say they were undecided! So that means that if you didn't care about these freakazoid topics, your answers were thrown out. I can't possibly see how that's a methodologically sound approach. It's bound to yield some kind of hyper-involved sample that doesn't look at all like the electorate would in the general election, and may not even properly reflect the primary electorate either. Why can't we have better polling?

NE-Sen: Rasmussen: Bob Kerrey (D): 38 (34), Deb Fischer (R): 56 (46)


NH-Gov: It would have been awfully late in the cycle to jump into a statewide race, but I guess businessman Bill Binnie was having a hard time making up his mind. Anyhow, he's finally decided that he won't run for governor after all, leaving the Republican primary field to Ovide Lamontagne and Kevin Smith.


AZ-04, AZ-06: FreedomWorks has been busy with the endorsements lately, but like I always say, press releases are cheap. So we'll see if they intend to put any money behind Rep. David Schweikert in AZ-06 (where he faces a primary against fellow Republican Rep. Ben Quayle), and state Sen. Ron Gould, who is trying to deny Rep. Paul Gosar the GOP nomination in AZ-04.

CA-26: Direct mail is really the dark underbelly of politics—unlike TV ads, we rarely get to see copies of mailers posted online. Direct mail also has the advantage of lending itself to carefully considered microtargeting strategies in ways that broadcast buys cannot accommodate. One such example, caught in the comments by DrPhillips, is a recent flyer sent out by Republican state Sen. Tony Strickland to "no-party-preference" voters in advance of the district's top-two primary. Based on the mailer alone, one might be left with the impression that the conservative Strickland is an independent! Not only does it feature an endorsement from Republican-turned-independent state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (who's currently running for San Diego mayor), it ends with this slogan under Strickland's mug: "Thoughtful. Independent. For Congress." Yeah, right!

Incidentally, if I were Rep. Bob Filner (the lone Democrat running in the San Diego mayoral race), I might consider using this episode to ding Fletcher for being a faux indy. After all, there already is an actual independent option in the CA-26 contest that Fletcher could have embraced: Ventura County Supervisor Linda "Rocky Road" Parks! (James L)

CT-05: With the Republican 5th District convention coming up this weekend, the field is getting slimmer. Farmington Town Council President Mike Clark is dropping out of the race and endorsing state Sen. Andrew Roraback. Three other candidates also remain: Mark Greenberg, Justin Bernier, and Lisa Wilson-Foley.

MI-14: A ton of Detroit-area leaders just announced their endorsements for Dem Rep. Gary Peters, who is facing fellow Rep. Hansen Clarke in the August primary. Foremost among them is Detroit mayor Dave Bing; the full list is at the link.

ND-AL: It looks like the usual conservative meddlers are not at all happy with the North Dakota Republican Party's attempt to coronate Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk as the GOP nominee for the state's open House seat. The Club for Growth (which is usually pretty good about putting its money where its mouth is) is endorsing Kalk's fellow PSC member, Kevin Cramer, following the same move by FreedomWorks a day earlier. The primary is June 12.

NH-01, NH-02: PPP's new look at the two House races in New Hampshire shows both races are tossups, with both Democratic candidates potentially able to reverse their 2010 defeats. Ex-Rep. Carol Shea-Porter leads Frank Guinta by 4 in the 1st, while Ann McLane Kuster is tied with Charlie Bass in the 2nd. Based on Shea-Porter's unexpected strength, Daily Kos Election is moving NH-01 from "Lean R" to "Tossup." Click through for our full analysis.

RI-01: Local news station WPRI is out with the first public poll of the Democratic primary (courtesy Fleming & Associates), and, well, let's just say there are some issues with it. The survey finds embattled Dem Rep. David Cicilline just four points head of his challenger, self-described "conservative Democrat" Anthony Gemma, 40-36.

But weirdly, the poll tested likely voters, even though the election is four months away—usually you don't switch to an LV screen until you're a lot closer. And the sample size is about as tiny as can be—just 302. There's also a lot of information we're lacking about the poll's methodology and composition, like the breakdown between Democrats, Republicans, and independents (Rhode Island has an open primary). What's more, the pollster also asked about Cicilline's job approval using the "excellent/good/fair/poor" breakdown, which is inherently problematic. Is "fair" bad? Good? Who knows?

Meanwhile, Gemma's doing his very best to poison the well, saying that he won't support Cicilline if the incumbent wins the primary. That's rather at odds with a statement he made in the same interview, claiming "My number one objective is to keep the seat Democratic." What a joker.

SC-07: A new poll of the GOP primary in the new 7th Congressional District from Francis Marion University and finds former Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer leading with 22% while Horry County Council Chair Tom Rice is just behind at 21 and former Horry Council Chair Chad Prosser is back at 8. The rest of the nine-candidate field is all at 5% or lower. The primary is June 12.

TX-33: With primary day less than two weeks away, the Democratic contest in Texas's brand-new 33rd Congressional District is getting pretty ugly. In a recent debate, ex-state Rep. Domingo Garcia attacked local companies like GM, American Airlines, and Lockheed Martin on a variety of different grounds, leading state Rep. Mark Veasey to hold a press conference (with ex-Rep. Martin Frost) showing his support for these businesses. Garcia responded with a nasty letter calling Veasey an "errand boy" for "big corporations and Wall Street," prompting an angry reaction from Veasey's supporters, as well as one un-aligned legislator who said: "Calling a black man 'boy' is the stuff of Jim Crow and has no place in modern day political discourse."

Grab Bag:

Campaign for Primary Accountability: Roll Call's Janie Lorber takes a close, detailed look at where the Campaign for Primary Accountability is getting its funding. Even though the group targets both Republican and Democratic incumbents, seemingly without much regard for ideology, almost all of the CPA's donors are supporters of the GOP. On top of that, the CPA recently hired tea party activist Mark Meckler as an adviser, and though Lorber doesn't mention it, the organization's founders were big players in the bygone term limits movement, which was decidedly right-wing in its orientation. So is the CPA really just some kind of conservative front group? If so, it's the weirdest one ever, since they've spent money to help liberal candidates unseat more centrist Democrats, like Matt Cartwright, who beat Blue Dog Rep. Tim Holden in the PA-17 primary.

North Carolina: In PPP's latest batch of North Carolina miscellany, Tom Jensen sees some potentially interesting movement among African American voters in favor of legal recognition of same-sex couples (both in terms of civil unions and gay marriage), in the wake of President Obama's decision to come out in favor of marriage equality. But note that the sample is pretty small, about 150 respondents.

Redistricting Roundup:

KS Redistricting: With Kansas's entire redistricting process utterly off the rails at this point, Secretary of State Kris Kobach is now asking a federal court to step in and draw new district lines. (Kobach's request was filed in a lawsuit brought by a Republican Party precinct committee member.) Because of the impasse, the state's filing deadline has been moved, from June 1 to June 11, but even that delay is starting to look insufficient, given that we're already past the halfway point in May. Given the extreme acrimony between the "moderates" and "conservatives" in the GOP, I'd be shocked if a legislative compromise could be reached, so I very much think redistricting will, as Kobach asks, wind up in the court's hands.

NY Redistricting: The federal court hearing the key lawsuit against New York's new state legislative maps has denied plaintiffs' request for an injunction, in large part because time has essentially run out, meaning that this year's elections will go ahead using the new lines. But the case is far from over: The entire matter will still proceed to adjudication of the merits of the plaintiffs' various legal claims regarding the maps' alleged flaws, which means that we could see different district lines for 2014. The court's ruling is here (PDF).

Media Watch:

AZ-Sen: Republican self-funder Wil Cardon goes negative on his primary opponent, Rep. Jeff Flake, attacking him for supporting an "energy tax" that will cost families "$1,000 more a year for utilities and gas." Size of the buy: $301K.

MT-Sen: In an ad from GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg with weak production values and stiff acting, reg'lar folks respond to Dem Sen. Jon Tester's funny spot about bringing home-grown beef to Washington by saying he's brought back "Washington baloney" to Montana.

NM-Sen: Republican Heather Wilson pledges to be a fiscal conservative, but then tries to have it both ways by throwing in a line attacking "both parties" for "driving us off a cliff." Meanwhile, Democrat Martin Heinrich reiterates his support for protecting Medicare and Social Security, and also mentions his work in saving local jobs at a military base.

TX-Sen: The Club for Growth isn't being shy about their hate for David Dewhurst, pumping in another $927K against him. That amount is mostly going towards an extension of their existing TV ad buy, but also for a significant internet advertising effort. In a press release touting their efforts, the Club says that they've spent nearly $2 million roughing Dewhurst up. Meanwhile, the Texas Conservatives Fund has placed another $200K in ad buys against Dewhurst's chief competitor, Ted Cruz.

Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Perry defends Dewhurst's conservative bona fides in a new radio ad. (James L & David Nir)

WI-Gov: Democrat Tom Barrett's new ad tries to paint Gov. Scott Walker as a "rock star" who's on tour raising money out-of-state while Wisconsin continues to suffer job losses.

CA-24: We mentioned Republican Abel Maldonado's first ad (a positive bio spot) a few days ago. Now we know the size of the buy: $200K. I guess he's trying to avoid getting punked in the top-two primary.

CA-26, NM-01: Women Vote!, a voter mobilization fund of EMILY's List, is spending $26K on mailers supporting Democrat Julia Brownley (CA-26) and $13K in support of Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01). (James L)

CA-30: Check out these bizarrely photoshopped mailers from Dem Rep. Brad Sherman: In some (but not all) of them, he's removed his own mother from a family portrait. Allegedly the one with mom went to Jewish households, but the evidence for that is rather thin (though the inside does feature a pic of Sherman and Bibi Netanyahu).

NM-01: Let me make something clear: I despise Marty Chavez and I want him to lose the Democratic primary. (See here and here for some background as to why—and that's just for starters.) But I can't deny that he's capable of making some pretty good ads, ones which even manage to make him seem likeable. In his latest, he has a sparring repeatedly partner pummel his gut for 25 seconds to prove that he can "take a punch"—then lays the poor sap on the floor with a right hook to show that he knows how to throw one, too.

TX-23: Huh, the League of Conservation Voters is throwing down some significant cash—$100K—to block ex-Rep. Ciro Rodriguez's poorly-funded comeback attempt against GOP Rep. Quico Canseco. The LCV is sending out a series of mailers to 42,000 households, hitting Rodriguez for votes on a number of energy and environmental bills. (Copies of the mailers are available here, here, and here.) Ciro faces a primary with state Rep. Pete Gallego. (James L)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Fri May 18, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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