• IN-Sen: Oh boy. Mega-problem time for Republican Senate nominee Richard Mourdock:
Of particular interest to the candidate is a mandate that requires an employer to pay for certain services they may be morally opposed to—such as birth control—which Mourdock said he opposes.Yep, you read that right. Mourdock thinks employers should be able to deny healthcare coverage for cancer treatment. And his campaign obviously doesn't know how to deal with this serious screwup. At first, they refused to respond altogether. Then Mourdock decided to dig in deeper—way deeper. Careful, though, and watch what he's trying to do:
But is that fair to the consumer, who may want their birth control covered?
Mourdock's example was an employer who decided to cover everything but cancer.
"Does that employer have the right to do it? I would say yes they do if they want to keep their health care costs down but it also means it's less likely you're going to want to work here. If that employer wants to get the best employees coming in the door he's going to offer the best insurance possible."
"Simply put, Richard was making the point that a company that discontinued insurance coverage of life-threatening ailments would immediately become an unattractive place to work," Conner told TPM. "In no way, shape or form does Richard support companies discontinuing such insurance coverage, and any attempt to say otherwise is a complete falsehood."The question isn't whether Mourdock would support a company which denied its employees from receiving insurance coverage for cancer treatment. The issue is whether he supports their right to do so—and he most certainly still does. He's also damn right that any company which did so would "become an unattractive place to work"—but guess what? Countless Americans hold down jobs at awful companies because they have no other choice. So while Mourdock fantasizes, Mitt Romney-style, that such awful companies would quickly drive their employees elsewhere, reality dictates that if employers start treating their workers like shit, workers pretty much just have to take it.
• CT-Sen: In a way, this is kind of amazing, but in a way, it's also not surprising in the least. After a debate late last week, ex-Rep. Chris Shays admitted that, at least as of right now, his campaign doesn't have money to air TV ads ahead of the Republican primary, which is just two months away. With rival Linda McMahon carpet-bombing the airwaves thanks to her bottomless personal wealth, I can see how Shays just doesn't have the resources needed to break through. But the remarkable part is that Shays said this out loud, because it's the kind of revelation that will make his remaining supporters very nervous, particularly given his deep hole in public polling.
Not long ago, I'd have called this good news for Democrats, since Shays had always appeared to be far more electable than McMahon. But McMahon's recent television efforts have paid off and put her in a better position not only in the primary but also in the general. And now it seems that Shays doesn't even have enough dough to lay some negative attacks on McMahon to soften her up for November, so I'm going to call this an unfortunate turn of events—and a lesson in "when you should shut up on the campaign trail."
• ME-Sen: The first post-primary poll of the Maine Senate race predictably shows independent ex-Gov. Angus King crushing the field, with a 27-point lead over his nearest rival, Republican SoS Charlie Summers (50-23). Click through for all the numbers and our analysis at Daily Kos Elections.
• MT-Sen: Ah, nothing like some good black helicopter fantasies out in Big Sky country.
It was a blood-boiler of a story, a menacing tale of government gone too far: The Environmental Protection Agency was spying on Midwestern farmers with the same aerial "drones" used to kill terrorists overseas.And GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg got caught repeating this latest lunatic bullshit:
This month, the idea has been repeated in TV segments, on multiple blogs and by at least four congressmen. The only trouble is, it isn't true.
It was never true. The EPA isn't using drone aircraft—in the Midwest or anywhere else.
"The Obama Administration has, once again, stepped way over the line," Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) said in a news release. He was sending a letter to the EPA, responding to "reports" about drone use. "First they wanted to expand their authority to regulate water, and now they want to use air drones to spy on American citizens."Meanwhile, the DSCC's latest ad buys seem to be following a new trend. Like they did last week in Indiana, the DSCC is sending money to the Montana Democratic Party for the purposes of airing an attack ad against Republican Denny Rehberg. In Indiana, this technique supposedly allowed the committee to take advantage of cheaper media prices that were only available to in-state buyers.
It's not clear whether the same can be said for their Montana buy, but note that the ad, which paints Rehberg as a pawn of Wall Street, curiously contains 501(c)-style language ("contact Dennis Rehberg and remind him: he's Montana's congressman—not Washington's or Wall Street's"). I'm not sure why the MDP would need to include that type of language in their ad, but perhaps rules exist in the state to give media buyers a better rate if the "public interest"/"issue advocacy" card is played. (David Nir & James L)
• ND-Sen: In a new ad where she talks directly to camera the entire time, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp tries to turn attacks on her support for the Affordable Care Act into a positive—and I think she does a good job of it. She references her fight with breast cancer 12 years ago (which in fact derailed her promising bid for governor) and says "there's good and bad in the healthcare law, and it needs to be fixed." But she then pivots and attacks GOP Rep. Rick Berg, who "voted to go back, to letting insurance companies deny coverage to kids, or for pre-existing conditions." Concludes Heitkamp: "I don't ever want to go back to those days."
• VA-Sen: The political mixicologists at Majority PAC are out with a new TV spot in Virginia that's one part negative to one part positive. The first half of the ad targets ex-Sen. George Allen's record in Congress, claiming that Allen "turned the largest budget surplus into a massive federal deficit," "voted to weaken Medicare," and "gave tax breaks to companies who shipped jobs overseas." These sour tones are topped with 15 seconds of praise for Tim Kaine's pro-business tenure as governor. (James L)
• WI-Sen: It seems like Monday was just chock-a-block with stories about Republican Senate candidates saying stupid things (see Richard Mourdock and Denny Rehberg above). Here's Wisconsin's Eric Hovde:
"I see a reporter here. I just pray that you start writing about these issues. I just pray. Stop always writing about, 'Oh, the person couldn't get, you know, their food stamps or this or that.' You know, I saw something the other day—it's like, another sob story, and I'm like, 'But what about what's happening to the country and the country as a whole?' That's going to devastate everybody."Gubernatorial:
• NH-Gov: Democrat Jackie Cilley just earned the endorsement of New Hampshire's State Employees Association, an SEIU affiliate that is the state's largest union, representing 12,000 government employees. The SEA's president specifically cited Cilley's stance against the corrosive, anti-tax "pledge" most state politicians swear fealty to as a key reason for supporting her.
Meanwhile, on the GOP side, Republican front-runner Ovide Lamontagne teased his fundraising numbers, even though initial reports are not due until (remarkably) Aug. 22nd. Lamontagne says he's raised $910K from over 1,500 donors. He also says he as "well over a half-million dollars" in cash-on-hand.
• AZ-08/AZ-02: Martha McSally was never going to be cheering loudest for Jesse Kelly, her fellow Republican, to win the special election against Ron Barber; after all, a Kelly victory would all but end her chances of running again in November. Now with Kelly out of the picture (he dropped out of the regular election after losing last week), McSally is the probable GOP nominee. But did she go so far as to try and help this situation come about? Barber's camp is claiming that she did—that an aide of hers, Sam Stone, tried to offer unsolicited advice to a Barber staffer about how to beat Kelly.
Stone of course denied doing so, but Barber's campaign showed Politico a business card Stone allegedly handed one of their folks, with some tips scrawled on the back. Amusingly, Stone claims to have seen Republican polling which showed Barber down 3% not long before election day—Barber won by six. (By the way, can anyone make out the final two words? Music man? WTF?) Just a very strange story... and what a ham-handed way for Stone to try to influence Barber's people.
• HI-02: This is pretty interesting. Honolulu Civil Beat conducted not one but two polls of the Democratic primary in the open 2nd District congressional race, and why? Because the first set of numbers they got were so surprising they had a hard time believing them, so they decided to go into the field a second time. But the results checked out, because the second poll came back with very similar data.
So, what did they learn? In the first survey, conducted June 5 to 7, Civil Beat's pollster, Merriman River, found Honolulu City Council member Tulsi Gabbard improbably beating former Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann by a 35-31 margin, with attorney Bob Marx at 11 and former state government official Esther Kiaaina at 10. If you've been following the polling in this race, you know why these numbers were so startling, but Civil Beat helpfully summarizes:
When he first announced his candidacy last August, Hannemann touted a 66-to-11 edge over Gabbard. In early February, he released new internal polling numbers showing a 57 percent to 15 percent lead. Both of his surveys were conducted by QMark Research.The second survey was in the field on June 13 and 14, and it tested a much larger sample (685 likely primary voters vs. 340 the first time). This time, Hannemann was at 34 and Gabbard at 33 (with Marx and Kiaaina both at 10)—very similar to the initial batch of results, and importantly, once again showing the race a tossup. It certainly looked like Hannemann was going to cruise here, but that's apparently no longer the case.
More importantly, an independent poll conducted by Ward Research for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawaii News Now in late January and early February found Hannemann with 65 percent support versus 20 percent for Gabbard.
Civil Beat's writeup goes deep into a variety of topical questions and geographic crosstabs trying to explain what's changed, but they leave out what might be the biggest factor: The veterans organization VoteVets has spent $120K on an ad touting Gabbard, a positive spot aimed at boosting her name recognition. Hannemann's been on the air, too, thought it's not clear how much he's spent. However, name rec was never his problem; as mayor, he represented more people than actually even live in this congressional district. Anyhow, I'll be curious to see if he responds with an internal of his own—or whether, in fact, we really have a race on our hands here.
• MN-08: Former state Sen. Tarryl Clark is out with her first TV ad of the race, two months ahead of the Democratic primary. (She'd previously been up on radio.) Clark attacks "giving tax breaks to companies who move Minnesota jobs overseas" and says she wants to protect Medicare and Social Security. When asked directly, Clark's campaign refused to detail the size of the buy.
• ND-AL: Democrat Pam Gulleson has a largely positive (and pretty bland) radio spot out, about her life on the farm, where "everybody pitches in to get it all done," unlike in Washington.
• SC-07: While the Democratic runoff remains in limbo, round two of the GOP contest to pick a nominee is very much underway. André Bauer's newest ad attacks rival Tom Rice as a "moderate" who failed to support Sen. Jim DeMint (a conservative beacon) and backs a gas tax hike. (There appear to be two somewhat different versions at the link.) Meanwhile, some of the also-rans have issued endorsements: Both fourth-place finisher Chad Prosser and sixth-place finisher Randal Wallace have gotten behind Rice. But the guy who landed in third, Jay Jordan, apparently hasn't made up his mind yet.