• AZ-02: It looks like the third time won't be a charm for Jesse Kelly: After losing Tuesday's special election to Democrat Ron Barber, Kelly's decided not to run again in the regular election in November. (You'll recall that Kelly also lost to then-Rep. Gabby Giffords in 2010.) That leaves retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally as the most likely Republican to take on Barber in the fall, though Some Dude Mark Koskiniemi is also in the race.
Meanwhile, state Rep. Matt Heinz, the only other Democrat to file for the primary in Arizona's redrawn 2nd CD, says he still plans to seek the seat, despite Barber's win in the AZ-08 special. Adds Heinz: "I don't think people are going to consider Ron a real incumbent." I consider him a real incumbent!
• FL-Sen: Ex-Rep. Dave Weldon got into the GOP Senate primary very, very late in the game, but he's already threatening to derail Rep. Connie Mack's efforts to consolidate the conservative movement around him. Citizens United just endorsed Weldon and contributed $10K to him, which has to make you wonder whether other right-wing groups will follow suit. Meanwhile, Mack once again is trying to act like the undisputed front-runner, rejecting a Republican debate for a second time by saying he's only willing to debate Dem Sen. Bill Nelson. If Weldon and others continue to chip away at his candidacy, though, this kind of posturing will start looking weaker and weaker.
• IN-Sen: Dem Rep. Joe Donnelly is rolling out his first general election ad, a compare-and-contrast spot which hammers his GOP opponent, Richard Mourdock, with a quote that I'll bet Mourdock wishes he could un-say. In an MSNBC interview not long after his primary victory, Mourdock told Chris Matthews: "To me, the highlight of politics, frankly, is to inflict my opinion on someone else." Donnelly cites his own record of bipartisanship in response.
What's also interesting here is the roundabout way in which the ad's been financed. The buy is for a reported $250K, and the disclaimer at the very end of the spot says it was "Paid for by the Indiana Democratic Congressional Victory Committee." That's a fund operated by the state Democratic Party—but the money didn't come from them directly, either. Rather, the DSCC transferred a quarter mil into the committee's coffers so that they could air this spot. Why does all this matter? Politico's Alexander Burns explains:
A Democratic strategist claimed the Indiana Dems will be able to counter the heavy [$600K] Crossroads investment because they can buy airtime at a cheaper rate than an outside-spending group. The ads are "competitive with Crossroads GPS statewide and will actually be in heavier rotation in Indianapolis," the strategist said.I really don't know how that's supposed to work, but I certainly hope that's true.
• ME-Sen: Even though Democrats now have a nominee in the Maine Senate race, state Sen. Cynthia Dill, it's pretty unsurprising that the DSCC is doing its best to pretend like Dill doesn't exist. Politico tried to pin down DSCC chair Patty Murray, who would only say: "We are talking to a lot of people up in Maine and are making a determination on what we’re going to do. It's going to be a great state."
• MT-Sen: GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg takes a different tack in his latest ad (his last couple of spots have mostly attacked Dem Sen. Jon Tester), trying to play up his bipartisan credentials. I gotta figure that when a Republican in a red state starts talking about how he "voted to protect the children's health insurance program from George Bush's cuts," he's starting to worry that he's not getting the kind of traction he'd hoped for.
Rehberg also blatantly apes a much funnier Tester spot where Tester tried to show he takes his Montana values to DC by lugging a suitcase full of home-grown beef back to Washington. Instead, Rehberg drives around the Capitol in a jeep with a vanity plate that reads "RNCHR MT." Is he trying to tell us that he wants a raunchier Montana? Because he's certainly not a rancher anymore, regardless of what his license plates might try to claim: He hasn't raised animals since 2009.
• WI-Sen: Rasmussen Reports:
Tammy Baldwin (D): 36 (38), Tommy Thompson (R): 52 (50)Gubernatorial:
Tammy Baldwin (D): 43 (42), Mark Neumann (R): 45 (44)
Tammy Baldwin (D): 44 (45), Jeff Fitzgerald (R): 43 (41)
Tammy Baldwin (D): 42, Eric Hovde (R): 44
• AR-Gov: Even though Arkansas's next gubernatorial election isn't until 2014, state AG Dustin McDaniel just formally filed to run for the seat, which will be open because Gov. Mike Beebe is term-limited. Another potential candidate, ex-LG Bill Halter (who also ran for Senate in 2010), criticized McDaniel, saying that launching a campaign for next cycle now "undermines candidates on the ballot this November." The linked article also mentions state Highway Commissioner John Burkhalter as another potential Democratic candidate; Lt. Gov. Mark Darr and Reps. Tim Griffin and Steve Womack are possibles on the GOP side.
• AR-04: If you had hoped that perhaps state Sen. Gene Jeffress would update his 1870s-style campaign for something more 21st century (or even 20th) after winning the Democratic nomination, well, have I got a website to show you. An Arkansas News article reports that Jeffress and his AR-01 counterpart, prosecutor Scott Ellington, "both said they will need to raise more money for their campaigns and said they plan to spend money on television advertising, something they did not do in the primary." But will Jeffress actually do anything to make this happen?
Jeffress said today he has already begun talk to people about hosting some fundraisers, but he didn't think his campaign style would change significantly for the general election. He said meeting people and shaking their hand is the best way to win their vote.And I guarantee you that you cannot win a modern race with this approach. Sheesh, the same piece says that Jeffress doesn't even have any paid staff! What a joke.
"I guarantee you people want to see you out there, and we're going to run that same race all through until November," he said.
• CA-52: It's going to be really frustrating if, every two years, we have to wait over a week for California to finish counting its primary ballots... but at least it looks like we're finally all but done in one race, the 52nd Congressional District. With only about 13,500 votes remaining to be tallied, Scott Peters' lead over fellow Democrat Lori Saldaña grew from 645 on election night to 737 on Wednesday. In the face of that development, Saldaña more or less appeared to concede, but she didn't endorse Peters, who spent more than a million of his own money to earn the right to take on GOP Rep. Brian Bilbray this November.
• TN-03: This ad from 25-year-old Republican Weston Wamp (notable only because his father, Zach Wamp, held this seat until a cycle ago) is just deeply... weird. I can't summarize it at all—it's a series of different images (John Wayne! moonshot! Bill Gates!) accompanied by a strange meditation on the meaning of freedom. I will say, though, that I was sure Wamp had hired some ridiculously deep-voiced announcer to narrate the ad. Instead, it turns out that the ridiculous deep voice is Wamp's own. (He doesn't sound that way when he's not trying.) Overcompensating much? The buy is reportedly for about $46K.
• Dark Money: If you've never been to clear on the different varieties of dark-money groups—knowing your more run-of-the-mill Super PACs from the truly dark 501(c)(4) "social welfare" groups (who can operate without disclosing donors)—here's a primer from Mother Jones, including summaries of some of the biggest names.
More newsworthy, though, is a Los Angeles Times article detailing how these guys shuffle money around between each other to best spend it on political activity without triggering more onerous disclosure requirements. Case in point: A recent $500K transfer from Norm Coleman's 501(c)(4) American Action Network to Karl Rove's American Crossroads, a PAC which can spend more openly on political activity. (Remember that American Crossroads is different from its sibling Crossroads GPS, which, like AAN, is a 501(c)(4) that can cloak its contributors.) AAN spent tons of money on political advertising in the '10 cycle, but maybe they felt they were flying too close to the sun this time and are preferring to work more as a conduit now. (David Jarman)
• Democracy Corps: At Daily Kos Elections we tend to focus on the quantitative aspects of political research... not because it's easier to summarize but usually because that's all that ever gets released. Here's a memo from Democracy Corps, though, that's worth reading the whole thing, because it goes into some remarkable detail about some of the qualitative research they've done recently through focus groups.
It's a few days old, and most of the attention it got when released was because of its "Dems are dooomed!" first few paragraphs that fits nicely into this week's overall Beltway media narrative, but it actually turns into an interesting read once you get past that. That's partly because it puts a human face on what poll respondents are actually feeling, and then at the end it offers a way forward, in terms of messaging that people are actually responding well to (which is the kind of messaging that a lot of netroots types probably would have been suggesting in the first place). Again, read the whole thing. (David Jarman)
• Demographics: We've posted a few times on changes in the Jewish population in Brooklyn, and how that—counter-intuitively, since Jews have tended to be a strongly Democratic constituency—has made parts of the borough more conservative over the last decade, since most of the growth has been among ultra-Orthodox and/or Russian-speaking Jews. Well, now there's some actual polling research done on the subject by UJA-Federation (and independent polling is needed, since the Census Bureau doesn't poll on religion, leaving us mostly making assumptions about what's happening).
Indeed, they find New York City's Jewish population is growing again after years of decline, up to 1.1 million. They see increased secularization among non-Orthodox Jews but also that most of the population growth is coming among the Orthodox. 490K of that 1.1 million are now Orthodox, and 220K are Russian immigrants or their descendants (with much overlap between those two groups). The study finds large numbers of members of these groups living in poverty, and also that they're much likelier to adopt conservative positions—something that really only leapt onto the national stage with last year's NY-09 special election. (David Jarman)