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Leading Off:

WI-Gov: Is this the kind of ad a campaign certain of victory puts out? Most definitely not. Take a look at this vile new spot from GOP Gov. Scott Walker, which accuses Milwaukee mayor "Tom Barrett's police department" of not treating a serious child abuse case as a violent crime—and tries to personally blame him for mis-reported crime statistics:

According to the same newspaper report Walker's campaign relies on for this ad, the perpetrator of the crime in question was "convicted of felony child abuse" earlier this year. And Barrett isn't even mentioned in the article except for a single throw-away quote. Along with the fact that Republicans have released absolutely zero polling on this race, this desperate-sounding ad makes me wonder if they really might be nervous.

Senate:

IN-Sen: Is the healing beginning? If so, I can hardly feel it. Sen. Richard Lugar, on the man who defeated him in the GOP primary, Richard Mourdock:

"Well, I've indicated that I hope that Republicans in Indiana will support him because I support my leader Mitch McConnell in getting a Republican majority. I would say that I've offered advice to my former opponent—candidate—as to the kind of way he might be a constructive senator—how he can make any difference whatsoever. I hope that he will in fact begin to adopt some of those ideas. But for the time being, I don't plan an active campaign."
MA-Sen: GOP Sen. Scott Brown touts his bipartisanship while sitting in a diner, prompting a waitress to rather oddly exclaim that he "deserve[s] another cup" of coffee. Is that supposed to be code for "a second term"?

ME-Sen: The filing deadline for independents in Maine comes two-and-a-half months after the deadline for major-party candidates, which is why ex-Gov. Angus King is only now submitting signatures to appear on the ballot this fall. King also continued his habit of making grandiose statements about his own importance, this time suggesting that a small cabal of like-minded senators could hold the majority hostage:

"All it would take is four or five—a centrist coalition, if you will—who can have a great deal of influence on the course of modern American history."
As if the roadblocks to getting anything done in the Senate aren't already egregiously anti-democratic enough.

MO-Sen: Public Policy Polling. 5/24-27. Missouri voters. MoE: ±4.0% (1/27-29 results):

Claire McCaskill (D-inc): 44 (43)
Todd Akin (R): 45 (43)
Undecided: 11 (14)

Claire McCaskill (D-inc): 44 (43)
Sarah Steelman (R): 44 (43)
Undecided: 12 (13)

Claire McCaskill (D-inc): 46 (43)
John Brunner (R): 44 (43)
Undecided: 11 (13)

Republican primary (MoE: ±4.7%):
Sarah Steelman (R): 28 (32)
John Brunner (R): 25 (18)
Todd Akin (R): 23 (23)
Other: 4 (--)
Undecided: 20 (28)
In the GOP contest, Brunner's used his considerable personal wealth to hit the airwaves pretty hard, which explains why he's eaten into Steelman's lead. As Tom Jensen points out, he's also the most popular candidate with "very conservative" voters, suggesting he's capturing some tea partyish fervor. And as for Akin, he was initially touted as a savior candidate for Republicans, but he's proven to be anything but.

Yet it may not matter. McCaskill's looking to be in very precarious shape, well below 50% and with only a 40% job approval rating vs. 50% who disapprove. Tom also notes that most of the undecideds lean Republican, so how she's supposed to win over those voters, I really don't know.

In separate news, the ultra-far-right Seventeenther movement has long amused me, but I find it even funnier when actual candidates for the Senate are among those who support repealing the amendment to the constitution that provides for direct election of senators. Joining the club now is GOP Rep. Todd Akin, who says he is "leaning" in favor of doing away with the 17th amendment. His two primary opponents, Sarah Steelman and John Brunner, are both opposed to the idea.

NM-Sen: The Albuquerque Journal has surveys out for both the Republican and Democratic Senate primaries (from pollster Research & Polling), and the results are pretty much what you'd expect. On the GOP side, ex-Rep. Heather Wilson is beating tea partying businessman Greg Sowards by a healthy 66-20 margin, while in the Dem contest, Rep. Martin Heinrich leads Auditor Hector Balderas 51-26.

Heinrich also has a new radio ad that's targeted toward Navajo Indians and is, in fact, in Navajo. A full transcript isn't available, but according to Heinrich's press release, it begins: "Our health. Our sovereignty. Our families' security. One person has listened to our concerns, and worked with us: Martin Heinrich."

Gubernatorial:

FL-Gov: Should Republican-turned-independent ex-Gov. Charlie Crist make the complete metamorphosis to Democrat and run for his old job once again in 2014, a new poll shows him beating GOP Gov. Rick Scott 48-34. Note that the survey was taken by Florida Opinion Research, which I believe is a Republican outfit (they were last seen conducting a poll for Bob Crowder, who is challenging Allen West in the FL-18 GOP primary).

MI-Gov: GOP Gov. Rick Snyder's job approvals have taken a turn for the worse, dropping from 40-47 in February to 37-52 in PPP's new Michigan poll. More importantly, Mitt Romney is finding very soft support for his claim that trees in the Wolverine State are "the right height": Only 38% agree, while 8% disagree and 55% say "WTF?"

NC-Gov (PDF): The conservative Civitas Institute is out with their first post-primary poll of the gubernatorial race, from Republican pollster National Research. Unlike two other surveys (one from PPP, the other from SurveyUSA) which found the contest in the mid-single digits, Civitas has GOP nominee Pat McCrory up 48-38 over Democrat Walter Dalton. It's still a tightening: In March, McCrory led 48-32.

House:

AZ-08: Perhaps my favorite breed of the species Hypocriticus Republicanus are those GOPers who howl about the stimulus but turn out to have benefitted handsomely from it. Now, it's Jesse Kelly's turn:

But the family construction company where Kelly has worked for about eight years, Don Kelly Construction Inc., has benefited from at least three contracts financed by millions in stimulus dollars and has relied almost exclusively on government-funded pipeline projects for its business. [...]

The Arizona Republic has found that since 2010, additional stimulus and government-funded projects, totaling at least $60.8 million, have gone to the company.

Don Kelly is Jesse's father, and Jesse ultimately wound up as a project manager at his dad's firm. There's much more at the link, including details on each of the stimulus-funded projects Don Kelly Construction worked on.

Meanwhile, both Kelly and his Democratic opponent, Ron Barber, are getting squishy when it comes to demonstrating party loyalty. Barber, fresh off a debate last week where he wouldn't declare whether he'd vote for Barack Obama this fall, is now refusing to say whether he'd vote for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. But Kelly won't be able to make an issue of this, because he, too, won't tell the world whether he'll support John Boehner. Amusingly, Kelly's general consultant must not have realized that his candidate was also going to join the Wobbler Caucus, because a day earlier, he criticized Barber over Twitter regarding his Pelosi response. Oops!

Finally, Barber has a new positive spot out, mostly touting newspaper endorsements which praise him for being bipartisan.

CO-07: Wealthy Republican Joe Coors has reportedly bought a hefty $400K in ad time to air an introductory spot in which he says (swear to god) "I'm not a beer," snaps his fingers, and makes a glass of suds disappear. Message: JOE COORS WANTS TO TAKE AWAY MY BEER!

IL-10: The first public poll of the general election in Illinois's 10th Congressional District comes from Democrat Brad Schneider, whose survey (courtesy Normington Petts) shows him tied with GOP Rep. Bob Dold at 39 apiece. That's a very low figure for an incumbent, though remember that thanks to redistricting, Dold only represents 61% of the new 10th. Despite that, Dold doesn't have that much room to grow: He has 79% name recognition, versus just 35% for Schneider, and Dold's favorables are a fairly mediocre 35-31. Meanwhile, Barack Obama beats Mitt Romney 55-41; Obama beat John McCain here 63-36, so you can't call this an overly favorable sample for Schneider.

IL-12: Surprising news: Brad Harriman, the Democratic nominee to succeed retiring Rep. Jerry Costello, released a statement Tuesday announcing that he is dropping out of the race "following consultation with his doctor regarding the need to address a non-life threatening neurological condition." The task will now fall to the local county Democratic party chairs to select a replacement candidate to run against Republican Jason Plummer. We wish Harriman a successful surgery and a speedy recovery.

As for potential candidates, Costello says he won't reconsider his decision to retire at the end of this term. However, one alternate possibility is state Rep. Jerry Costello, Jr., the congressman's son. His name surfaced last fall after his dad's retirement announcement but he declined to run. Now, though, the younger Costello's feelings may have changed.

In the meantime, as a result of this unexpected development, Daily Kos Elections is changing our rating on the race from Lean D to Tossup. Democrats will need to move quickly to find a replacement, but whomever they decide on will have to play a lot of catch-up. (James L & David Nir)

LA-02: Citing "multiple" unnamed sources, the Daily Kingfish's Lamar Parmentel says that former New Orleans mayor Marc Morial may be considering a challenge to freshman Rep. Cedric Richmond. (Both are Democrats.) Louisiana doesn't have proper primaries, but the top two vote-getters in the November general election move on to a December runoff if no one gets 50%. So even though it would ordinarily be quite late for Morial to enter the race, he'd still have five months to wage a fight. And by waiting, he might also be catching Richmond somewhat off-guard, seeing as the incumbent only has some $250K in the bank.

MI-11: Amazing: Five-term GOP Rep. Thad McCotter has now confirmed that he didn't submit a sufficient number of valid signatures to appear on the ballot this fall and will instead run a write-in campaign for the Republican nomination. If you're just catching up to this story now, click here for some vital background. But the scope of McCotter's fail is quite something to behold:

McCotter turned in 2,000 petition signatures to get on August primary ballot, but all except 244 have been deemed invalid because of rampant duplicated copies, the Michigan Secretary of State found.

A review by The Detroit News of the petition signatures found full copies of a sheet of signatures that were photocopied once and in some cases two times and mixed in with the 136-page stack of signatures. In some cases, a different petition circulator's name was signed to the duplicate copy.

The overt copying is "frankly unheard of," said Chris Thomas, Michigan's director of elections, as he thumbed through the stack of petitions. "It's amazing when you sit and look, and it starts to dwell on you what they've done."

So what happens next? This PDF summarizing how write-in campaigns work in Michigan is a good place to start. First, McCotter has to file a "Declaration of Intent" with election officials by July 27. But when voters mark their ballots, they can't simply write "Thad McCotter" (misspellings are okay, as long as the intent "is not doubtful")—they have to also "indicate" McCotter's party affiliation. That is, unless you write "Thad McCotter – Republican" (or something close to it), your vote won't count.

But that's not all. McCotter can then only win if he meets a legal threshold for a minimum number of votes. He has to get at least 5% as many votes as cast in the 11th District in the race which receives the most total votes in the district. That's almost certainly going to be the GOP Senate primary between Pete Hoekstra and Clark Durant. It's a little hard to ballpark how many that might be, since Republicans haven't staged a contested primary during a presidential year in a very long time, but McCotter's final minimum would be at least a few thousand votes, something he can probably hack.

Still, he also has to beat anyone else who runs, and right now, there's one person who will in fact appear on the ballot: teacher Kerry Bentivolio. Bentivolio, a tea partier, is a relative newcomer; he ran an unsuccessful race for state Senate last cycle and has raised little this year. But simply having to face an actual name is a big obstacle for any write-in hopeful.

And it's also possible McCotter won't be the only Republican who tries to go that route: State Sen. Mike Kowall, who actually briefly ran against McCotter earlier this cycle but ultimately bailed, is had considered holding the door open to a return to the race via a write-in bid of his own. (However, two other Republicans say they won't run: former MI-09 candidate Rocky Raczkowski and wealthy local attorney David Trott.) A more prominent Democrat could also try to jump in as a write-in, but so far, the Great Mentioner has remained silent. That means physician Syed Taj will likely be Team Blue's guy, though he'll have to beat a LaRouchie nutcase in the primary.

We should also point out that McCotter doesn't have a lot of money in the bank, just $193K. He also has over $100K in debt from his pathetically disastrous presidential bid last year (yeah, remember that?). While he can probably let some of those bills slide for a while longer, his largest obligation, $35,000, is to his consulting firm. Are those guys gonna force him to pay up before they do any more work for him? Given his weak finances and inept campaign team, either the NRCC is going to have to save McCotter's ass here—or find another, better candidate to support in a write-in bid.

Also, the state attorney general's office is now investigating McCotter's campaign for possible election fraud with regard to his disastrous signature-gathering efforts. That's going to leave an ugly cloud hanging over McCotter's head as he proceeds with this rather difficult endeavor.

As a result of these stunning, hard-to-believe developments, Daily Kos Elections is changing its rating on this race from Safe R to Likely R. While any number of different scenarios are possible, for the moment, we're operating under the assumption that McCotter will prevail in his primary, but that he'll emerge weaker for his troubles. In the meantime, Taj should be able to capitalize on his unthinkable good fortune and set himself up for a possible upset in the fall. Of course, if McCotter fails and Bentivolio is the nominee, then everything changes.

MI-13: Remarkably, while Thad McCotter just got booted from the ballot for filing an insufficient number of signatures, another Michigan congressman is going to skate: Rep. John Conyers submitted just 51 more signatures than the legal minimum, but none of his primary opponents are challenging his petitions. But five other candidates are under scrutiny, and one has already gotten dinged.

NM-01: We went from having no recent polling at all to having no fewer than five surveys of the Democratic primary in New Mexico's 1st Congressional District in the space of a week. The latest is from the firm Research & Polling, on behalf of the Albuquerque Journal and KOAT-TV, and the numbers are similar to what we've seen before: State Sen. Eric Griego and Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham are tied at 33 apiece, while former Albuquerque mayor Marty Chavez is way back at 20. Election day is just a week away, and it looks like it could be a long night as between Griego and Lujan Grisham, but the good news is that the conservaDem Chavez apparently just isn't in the mix.

NY-06: Retiring Rep. Gary Ackerman has sided with the Queens Democratic establishment and endorsed their preferred candidate, Assemblywoman Grace Meng, to succeed him in the House. But note that Ackerman only represents 38% of the redrawn 6th, so his name won't be known to a lot of voters in the district.

SC-07: In case you missed it, after dropping out of the 7th District congressional race in the wake of an arrest on drunken driving and weapons possession charges, Democratic state Rep. Ted Vick nevertheless said he plans to "humbly seek re-election" to the state House this fall. (He'd actually been running in both races simultaneously.)

With Vick now gone, the Dem establishment is rallying around attorney Preston Brittain instead: The state's lone Democratic member of Congress, James Clyburn, is endorsing Brittain, as is ex-Rep. John Spratt, ex-Gov. Jim Hodges, and 2010 gubernatorial nominee Vincent Sheheen. (Spratt and Sheheen had both previously endorsed Vick.) Brittain still faces a primary against former Georgia state Rep. Gloria Tinubu.

Redistricting Roundup:

MO Redistricting: It was a long time in coming, but the Missouri Supreme Court finally turned back a challenge to the state's new congressional map by supporters of Rep. Russ Carnahan. In an earlier ruling, the court had temporarily sided with Carnahan's camp, ordering a lower court to conduct a trial on his claims that the new lines were insufficiently "compact" under the state constitution. But the trial court ruled against the plaintiffs, and their appeal has now failed, too. (You can read a PDF of the full decision here.) In the interim, Carnahan announced that he'd run against fellow Rep. Lacy Clay in the Democratic primary in MO-01, but he wasted a lot of time and focus on what always seemed like a pretty hopeless lawsuit.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Wed May 30, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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