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Leading Off:

NH-Gov: The politics of New Hampshire's infamous anti-tax "Pledge"—the pledge not to institute an income tax or a sales tax that politicians from both parties are continually browbeaten into accepting—may be unfamiliar to outsiders. That makes it easy for unsophisticated meddlers to really step in things, which is exactly what EMILY's List just did. You'll recall that about a week ago, Democrat Jackie Cilley courageously opposed the pledge at the state party convention, to much adulation; her rival for the nomination, Maggie Hassan, meekly went along with it. Hassan rather controversially also scored EMILY's endorsement in April, even though it was never clear why the group chose her over Cilley, whose pro-choice record is equally strong.

EMILY never even tried to offer a satisfying answer to this question, but the Concord Monitor gamely decided to ask again—and this is where the group went off the rails:

Emily's List president, Stephanie Schriock, was in the state Thursday to campaign with Hassan. We asked her how the organization made its choice.

"When we got to looking at the New Hampshire race and recognized there were two pro-choice women, we took an incredibly serious look," Schriock said. "We look at those who can make it happen. Those who have the fortitude, the organization, the communication, the resources to pull it together and win the election. And we felt Maggie Hassan was the best candidate to win this governorship."

And about that Pledge Hassan took and Cilley refused?

"We do look at the overall political situation of the state," Schriock said.

The only way to read this is that EMILY's List, at least in part, went with Hassan because of, not in spite of, the fact that she kowtowed to the pledge, which is a tool of conservative oligarchs who want to keep their own taxes low while starving the state of needed revenue for the less well-off. (If the pledge didn't matter at all, then Schriock could have just said so.) Given how excited Democratic activists were when Cilley rejected pledge politics, and considering how much blowback EMILY received by picking sides in a race where doing so wasn't warranted, this sounds like another serious blunder that could energize progressives against EMILY's pick even further.


HI-Sen: Well, here's a new one: Former Republican Gov. Linda Lingle isn't just purchasing a whole bunch of ads, or even a Ross Perot-style 30-minute infomercial. No, she's taking this one to 11 with the launch of her own friggin' cable channel. The station, known as "LL2012," will presumably be all-Lingle, all the time, and will be available to any Oceanic Time Warner subscribers who truly cannot find anything else to watch. (Or as Homer explained when Bart asked, "Who's up at 3:17 AM watching TV?": "Alcoholics, the unemployable, angry loners....")

Lingle's already got her first bit of programming at the ready: A minute-long spot which starts with a cheesy graphic of the earth showing just how far Hawaii is from Washington, DC (answer: far!), followed by a parade of people talking about how awesome Lingle is in pretty vague terms. It finishes with the narrator imploring people to tune into Lingle's cable channel to watch "a special video about her vision for Hawaii's future" next week. Weirdly, this program is airing at 10:30pm on a Monday night. I guess they couldn't bump "Home Videos from Linda's Trip to the Grand Canyon, 1998" from its primetime slot.

MA-Sen: Democrat Elizabeth Warren, in her newest ad, attacks Congress for giving "billions to oil companies, the most profitable corporations on earth, then try[ing] to slash students loans and Medicare."

Republican Sen. Scott Brown is also out with two new spots of his own. In the first one, Brown's wife says: "If the kids had a problem, they didn’t call me, they called Dad, because Dad was the one that was always there. And he still is." The second one also features Brown's wife and is deliberate pander to women: "Scott’s always been the one that encouraged me professionally, encouraged me to have my own life, to have my own identity." Wow, your own identity! Such progress! The last line is the real groaner, though: "He is by far the most understanding of women probably of any man I know."

MN-Sen: Paulist weirdo Kurt Bills appeared to lock down the GOP nomination last month by securing his party's endorsement at the state convention, which prompted all the other Republican no-names to drop out. But Bills' already-impossible task of defeating Dem Sen. Amy Klobuchar this year just got a bit more impossible, since Marine vet David Carlson says he'll challenge Bills in the August primary. Also amusing: In the linked article, Kurt Bills refers to himself as a "Kurt Bills Republican."

NV-Sen: Ordinarily, this kind of vague remark—Harry Reid telling reporters that a recent poll he took showed Democrat Shelley Berkley beating GOP Sen. Dean Heller by two points—is the sort of thing I'd never bother to mention. But Reid's polling warrants special attention since his pollster, Mark Mellman, was pretty much the only guy who called the 2010 Nevada Senate race correctly. I wish Reid would release some more details, though.

NY-Sen (PDF): With just a few weeks to go until New York's June 26 primary, the likely Republican nominee to get offered up for slaughter by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is... who knows? In Siena's newest poll, Rep. Bob Turner gets a whopping 16% of the vote, while conservative activist Wendy Long is at 11, Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos at just 3, and undecideds all the way at 70—which is actually a little higher than in their last survey! But don't worry: All three candidates get obliterated by Gillibrand in general election matchups.

P.S. Did you know that the last Republican to win statewide in New York was Gov. George Pataki in 2002? And the last Democratic incumbent to lose in a statewide election was Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1994?

OH-Sen: Props to Joe Hallett of the Columbus Dispatch for hounding Republican Josh Mandel over his "oft-made claim that legions of Democrats are supporting his candidacy"—and for showing how utterly phony that claim is:

Asked by The Dispatch for evidence of the backing Mandel says he is receiving from Democratic voters and groups, the Mandel campaign offered only the names of four registered Democrats willing to comment. But one of them actually is an independent who says she has supported candidates from both parties.
Hallett also rounds up a great selection of Mandel b.s., including gems like these:
"We have a lot of people who supported (former Democratic Gov.) Ted Strickland and (former Lt. Gov.) Lee Fisher in 2006 who are supporting us now instead of Sherrod Brown," Mandel told The Dispatch late last year.

In an interview on April 5, Mandel said, "Every week we get phone calls from union leaders and Democrats who are military veterans and Democrats who are entrepreneurs who say, 'I've been a Democrat for a long time, but I just can't pull the lever for Sherrod Brown.'  "

So where's the beef? There ain't none. From a Mandel spokesman:
"There are union leaders throughout the state that are supporting our campaign. Most of them are doing it in quiet, below the radar, but you will learn more about them as Election Day gets closer."

A Dispatch analysis of campaign-finance records found no union contributions to Mandel and, so far, he has received no union endorsements. Brown's campaign has received at least $332,500 from labor unions since he was elected in 2007 and he has received money from or been endorsed by most of the state's unions.

What a joke! Hallett also goes into detail about who actually is backing Mandel—in particular, employees of Forest City Enterprises, the mega-developer owned by his wife's family. The whole thing is worth a read.

Meanwhile, SEIU COPE is up on the air with a $260K media buy attacking Republican twerp Josh Mandel. The ad features a pair of concerned-looking seniors warning that Mandel's priorities are nothing but a load of whack: he favors "deep cuts in Social Security and Medicare" while protecting "tax cuts for millionaires." (David Nir & James L)

WI-Sen: Republican ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson stands in front of a stop sign in his latest ad as he promises to "stop" all the things conservatives hate about America, like "out-of-control deficits" and "job-killing over-regulation."


WA-Gov: There's a new union endorsement in Washington's gubernatorial race, and it's worth a mention because it's decidedly against-type: the Public School Employees union (which covers non-classroom employees like clerical and bus drivers) just gave their backing to Republican Rob McKenna. The boilerplate language in their endorsement announcement doesn't really make the reasons clear, but it may come down to a very parochial issue where they're at loggerheads with the teachers' unions. This issue, involving consolidation of all K-12 employees onto the state employees' health plan (something the PSE and McKenna support but the teachers' unions oppose), also led them to endorse Steve Hobbs, the most right-leaning candidate in the Dem field in WA-01.

Meanwhile, McKenna and Dem opponent Jay Inslee released their latest sets of fundraising numbers, reported monthly in Washington. They're at near-parity on cash-on-hand, with McKenna at $3.2 million and Inslee at $3.3 million. McKenna also released a list of Democratic endorsers on Monday, aimed at bolstering his superficial "moderate" profile. The list of a dozen names, however, consists of either the predictable aisle-crossers (retiring state Auditor Brian Sonntag, state Sen. Tim Sheldon) or the obscure. (David Jarman)


AZ-08: PPP's brand-new poll of Tuesday's special election defies the CW that this is a tight race and has Democrat Ron Barber up 53-41 over Republican Jesse Kelly. One thing I'd point out is that while this sample is 12 points more pro-Obama than actual 2008 voting results, the sample in PPP's NY-26 poll last year (which nailed Democrat Kathy Hochul's final margin) swung 11 points in Obama's direction.

FL-18: GOP freshman and tea party all-star Allen West is out with his first ad in support of his re-election bid, a minute-long spot featuring ersatz rousing music, his claim to be a living embodiment of the American dream, and several attacks on "taxes and regulations that are killing job growth" and the usual conservative complaints. West ends his narration with a dare of sorts, saying: "Some say I push too hard, that I ask too much—I'm just getting started." Can't wait to see what he's got for us next.

FL-22: In another inaugural TV ad in South Florida, Democrat Kristin Jacobs promises she knows "how to work with others," in a spot that looks like it was shot on Super 8.

MI-11: Former state Sen. Nancy Cassis, fresh off an effort by local GOP officials to anoint her as the consensus write-in candidate in the primary, now says she'll put $200K of her own money behind the effort. Meanwhile, another former state senator, Loren Bennett, said he'd abandon his own write-in bid and would support Cassis. There are still a couple of other potential write-in candidates, including Rocky Raczkowski and Paul Welday, whom we haven't affirmatively heard from yet, though.

MT-AL: Republican businessman Steve Daines, looking to succeed Rep. Denny Rehberg in the House, just reserved $495K in fall airtime for the November election, a seriously hefty sum in a small state like Montana. Daines faces state Sen. Kim Gillan, who just won last week's Democratic primary.

ND-AL: That Mason-Dixon poll of the North Dakota Senate race also contained a House portion, though it's not entirely complete. The survey only tested Democrat Pam Gulleson against one of two Republicans running, Kevin Cramer, and found Cramer ahead 49-35 (with 4% going to Libertarian Eric Olsen). The omission of a general election matchup with the other Republican, Brian Kalk, may not matter, though: There was also a separate GOP primary sample, which found Cramer demolishing his rival, 60-21. A Cramer victory would be something of an upset, since Republicans formally endorsed Kalk at the state party convention in April, but Cramer has the longer political resume and his decision to avoid the convention may have been a wise strategic choice. We'll know for sure tonight.

NY-06: EMILY's List is bolstering their support of Democratic state Assemblywoman Grace Meng with $33K's worth of new expenditures split almost evenly between direct mail and online advertisements. (James L)

NY-18: Democrat Sean Maloney just scored Bill Clinton's endorsement, though for once, it's more about the fact that Maloney was an aide in the Clinton White House in the late '90s, rather than anything to do with who endorsed whom in the 2008 presidential election.

OK-01: My sworn enemies at the American Academy of Ophthalmology are out with a $39K radio ad buy supporting GOP Rep. John Sullivan. Sullivan faces a primary from Naval Reserve officer and former Tulsa Air and Space Museum executive director Jim Bridenstine. This race has largely flown under the radar, but Bridenstine has raised six figures for his campaign. (James L)

TX-23: While most of the Texas runoff endorsements by primary also-rans have been barely worth a mention, here's one that is: Attorney John Bustamante, son of ex-Rep. Albert Bustamante, gave his backing to ex-Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, who faces state Rep. Pete Gallego in the second round after edging him 46 to 40 in the first. The Democratic establishment badly wants Gallego to prevail since he's viewed as by far the stronger candidate to take on GOP freshman Quico Canseco, so I have to wonder what Bustamante, who took 13% on primary night, is thinking here.

TX-25: Some of the minor-league players in the first round of the Republican primary have issued endorsements for the two guys who've advanced to the runoff, former Secretary of State Roger Williams and tea partier Wes Riddle. But two of the most prominent losers, Cleburne Mayor Justin Hewlett (who finished third) and former Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams (who placed fifth) both say they're still making up their minds.

Other Races:

San Diego Mayor: Here's yet another SurveyUSA poll of San Diego's mayoral race, but it's the first one post-primary and also the first one to show Democratic Rep. Bob Filner ahead. Filner leads Republican city councilor Carl DeMaio (in this ostensibly nonpartisan race) 46-43 when matched head-to-head. Interestingly, Filner seems to be getting the majority of votes that previously went to San Diego County's Republican DA, Bonnie Dumanis (53-28), while the votes for the theoretically post-partisan Nathan Fletcher are evenly split (41-40 for Filner). Filner puts up decent leads among both moderates and independents. (David Jarman)

Grab Bag:

Netroots Nation: Did you attend the just-concluded Netroots Nation conference in Providence, RI? Want to give feedback on your experience? Adam Bonin, the convention's chair, is soliciting your responses in the linked diary.

NRCC/DCCC: The NRCC just rolled out a new batch of its top-tier "Young Guns" candidates, none of which are particularly surprising except for WV-03's Rick Snuffer, who has barely raised any money (and has had trouble filing his FEC reports on time). Perhaps Republicans figure Dem Rep. Nick Rahall might be in jeopardy just because of West Virginia's ever-reddening hue. You can find the full list at the link.

Meanwhile, the DCCC just named Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, who edged out Republican-turned-independent Linda Parks in a tough top-two primary in CA-26 thanks to heavy outside spending, to their Red to Blue list. Also, the D-Trip is down to half-a-dozen finalists for its "Grassroots Champion" contest. You can vote for your favorite candidate at the link.

Redistricting Roundup:

KS Redistricting: The dysfunctional Kansas legislature couldn't get it done, so the task of redrawing Kansas's four congressional districts got left to a federal court, which produced new lines on Friday. In addition to ripping the lege over its failure to act, the court also provided some (relative) sanity, by eschewing a mashup between Kansas City (on the state's eastern border) and the rural western half of the state that we'd seen in some Republican maps. In the end, though, the GOP is favored to hold all four districts:

KS-01: Tim Huelskamp's 1st remains strongly GOP at 33% Obama. It's a tad bluer due to the inclusion of all of Manhattan (Kansas, not New York, of course) and the removal of several rural counties west of Wichita.

KS-02: Lynn Jenkins' 2nd becomes several points bluer as well, with the inclusion of the entirety of Douglas County (Lawrence), which previously had been split between the 2nd and 3rd. Democrat Nancy Boyda did represent the district for two years after 2006, but a retaking is a tall order.

KS-03: The 3rd still contains the entirety of Wyandotte and Johnson Counties, but the removal of Douglas County and subsequent replacement by exurban Miami County shift the seat several points rightward to the benefit of Kevin Yoder, transforming the seat into a narrow McCain district. This seat, the state's bluest, had been held by Democrat Dennis Moore for over a decade until his retirement last cycle, so the fact that it was made redder is a major disappointment for Democrats.

KS-04: The 4th remains strongly GOP, especially with the addition of rural counties west of Wichita. If Dems are to win here, the key remains the same as before—major idiocy from incumbent Mike Pompeo.

We've also put together our usual suite of redistricting resources: a Google Maps overlay, our patented redistribution analysis, and as always, a detailed breakdown of the Obama-McCain vote according to the new congressional district lines. So at long last, that means we finally have a full set of redistricting tools for all fifty states, which you can handily find all in one place.

PA Redistricting: Although we're officially done with U.S. House redistricting, there are still a number of state legislative odds-and-ends to sweep up. One of the big ones is Pennsylvania, which went back to the drawing board after a court decision invalidated the first set of lines because they divided too many counties. On Friday, the state's Legislative Redistricting Commission (nominally independent but functionally Republican) picked new maps, opting for the Republican-drawn legislative maps.

Probably the big change is that SD-40, the one just vacated by recently-convicted Republican state Sen. Jane Orie, got picked up from Pittsburgh's suburbs and moved across state to rapidly-growing Monroe County. Two House districts also found themselves trekking west to east across the state. It's important to note, though, that these changes won't take effect until the 2014 races, seeing as how Pennsylvania already had its primaries this year... and this isn't the final word, either. The players all have to go before the state Supreme Court again, which might once again take issue with how many county splits there are. (David Jarman)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Jun 12, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Take New Hampshire Forward! and Daily Kos.

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