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Leading Off:

TX-25: I always love hearing tell of a cracklin' good conspiracy theory, but I feel like it's been a while since I've come across a new one. This gem, though, from Republican Wes Riddle, is golden:

Riddle, a retired Army officer from Gatesville, wants to impeach Obama for "giving away" seven Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea islands near Siberia to Russia.

(Yes, even though those islands were ceded in 1991 under President George H.W. Bush.)

Riddle isn't just some random teabagger—he's a random teabagger who forced his way into a runoff against former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams in the TX-25 runoff. This is an open (and very red) seat, so whoever wins the GOP nod has an automatic path to Congress. Williams is heavily favored, but Riddle sure is a hoot, ain't he?


AZ-Sen: The Club for Growth is certainly taking this Wil Cardon thing seriously. They've just reported spending another $268K on extending their pre-existing anti-Cardon TV buy, and $13K on radio ads in support of their horse in the Republican primary, Rep. Jeff Flake. (James L)

MA-Sen: Hah, WOW. It turns out that Scott Brown didn't just "misspeak" about his "secret meetings with kings and queens." He's been using that line for months! This video from the Massachusetts Democratic Party could have been better produced (it hides the goods until the the 38 second mark, and I don't know that we need the ABBA soundtrack), but I've queued it up to the right spot:

MT-Sen: A new ad in support of GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg is lighting up the political world—but not in the way Republicans would have hoped. The spot touts Rehberg's "independence" and says he "refuses to toe the party line," listing off a litany of legislation where Rehberg dissented from his fellow Republicans (and without a single dig at Obama or the Democrats). Most remarkable, though, is this line:
"Rehberg refused to support a Republican budget plan that could harm the Medicare plan that so many of Montana's seniors rely on."
That, of course, is the infamous Ryan plan they're referring to, a cornerstone of today's Republican belief system. If you have a good memory, you'll recall that Rehberg was one of just four members of the House GOP to vote against the Ryan budget, a move he made with a clear eye toward his Senate campaign.

But while his opposition to the Ryan plan might save his own bacon, it's not helping the rest of his party. Now Democrats are in the gleeful position of being able to say, "Even Republicans think the Ryan plan will harm Medicare!"—and they have an actual television spot to point to, complete with sonorous voice-over.

In addition to causing grief for his party, Rehberg's also brought some trouble down on his own head. The congressman cancelled on a debate scheduled for this past Sunday, claiming he hadn't received a formal invitation. Shah! The real answer: Rehberg had one fundraiser on Saturday in Wyoming and then another on Monday in St. Louis, so he's using Sunday as a travel day to hop between fundraising events rather than participate in the debate.

NM-Sen: The League of Conservation Voters, one of a broad spectrum of environmental groups targeting the New Mexico Senate race this year, is putting out two 15-second ads hitting Republican Heather Wilson on her votes for Bush's energy bills (which included provisions shielding MTBE-makers from lawsuits related to the contamination of drinking water, the theme of the ads). The LCV describes the buy as a "$150,000 television ad campaign," though their FEC filing only indicates that $124K was spent on producing and airing the ad. (It's entirely possible, though, that a supplemental filing is forthcoming.) (James L)

UT-Sen: Given all the polling we saw before the Republican convention (of convention delegates, no less), I'm surprised at the paucity of surveys for Tuesday's GOP Senate primary. But we finally have a last-minute poll from an outfit called Utah Data Points, which commissioned "survey and market research company" Key Research to conduct a poll of the race between Sen. Orrin Hatch and ex-state Sen. Dan Liljenquist. They offer a number of different "scenarios" based on different models of the electorate, but it's almost irrelevant which one you choose, since they all show Hatch crushing by about 30 points.

WI-Sen: Looks like Eric Hovde is an Allen West acolyte:

"I fundamentally disagree with Tammy on almost everything. She has a more liberal voting record than almost anybody in Congress," he told The Hill in a recent interview. "Her philosophy has its roots in Marxism, communism, socialism, extreme liberalism—she calls it progressivism—versus mine, which is rooted in free-market conservatism."
When he's not busy dredging out red-baiting rhetoric that was out-of-fashion 60 years ago, Hovde's singing his own praises—so much so that last Thursday, he experienced what Morning Score called a "Muskie Moment":
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde, faced with harsh criticism from some quarters for supposedly being callous toward the poor, hit back Thursday, telling a Madison audience he'd debate anyone, anywhere on who's done more to help the needy.

"I have done more for people that are economically disadvantaged than probably—and I've never talked about it publicly because I keep it very low-profile—than all but for a very few people in our society," he told a forum at the Madison Club sponsored by the news website [...]

Hovde began to choke up at Thursday's forum as he spoke of his foundation's efforts.

If some of you youngin's are not familiar with the presidential campaign of the late Ed Muskie, this is the reference. And if you aren't familiar with the remarks Hovde made that got him into such trouble in the first place, here's what he said:
"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."

MO-Gov: Uh, I don't think this is something you should say about the state you're running to be governor of:

"I'm really amazed at how nice people are and how beautiful Missouri is," Spence said. "Everybody says a St. Louis candidate can't win state wide. That's a bunch of bunk."
Imagine if a Democrat from St. Louis had said that, instead of a Republican like Dave Spence.

WA-Gov: If you needed more evidence that the Washington gubernatorial race is a) a tossup and b) one that a lot of voters haven't tuned into yet, here's one more poll, showing the race at 38-38 tie. (Oddly, the Puget Sound region is what's keeping Republican Rob McKenna afloat here; Jay Inslee leads by only four points in the Dems' inner sanctum.) The poll also finds Barack Obama leading by 15. The poll, best as we can tell, is non-/bi-partisan and isn't on anyone's behalf; it's a joint venture between two Northwest-based pollsters, Dem firm Gallatin Public Affairs and GOP firm GS Strategy Group. (David Jarman)

WV-Gov: Dem Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin continues to maintain a big cash edge over his Republican opponent, businessman Bill Maloney. In the most recent fundraising period (from April 23 to May 20), Tomblin took in $377K versus $133K for Maloney. Tomblin now has $1.2 million in the bank, while Maloney has just $375K.


MI-03: Activist Trevor Thomas is out with a poll of the Democratic primary (from the Mellman Group), and it actually shows ex-state Rep. Steve Pestka leading 21-16. As is typically the case with such surveys, though, Thomas is making a much bigger deal out of an informed ballot question, which of course shows him up. But the biographical statement he included about Pestka concluded with a very questionable negative line:

Pestka's opponents say he wants to make abortion illegal even in cases of rape and incest and Pestka admits that he could, quote, "easily be a Republican." Unquote.
Pestka's camp is furious about this statement, and I can understand why. Last month, in an interview with the Battle Creek Enquirer, Pestka said that while he considers himself "personally pro-life," he does not "believe in making abortion illegal." So "Pestka's opponents" may say he wants to "make abortion illegal even in cases of rape and incest," but Pestka himself says the opposite. That's really shady.

As for the "Republican" quote, Nate Reens at the Grand Rapids Press gives the full context:

Pestka actually said: "I'm somebody pretty unique in this community—I've been willing to do something really different. I could have easily become a Republican. It would have been much easier because you get a tremendous amount of support.

"But I would rather retain my independence, which is easier done as a Democrat. And I'm a Democrat because on core issues the Democratic position historically is better."

Those words take on a rather different meaning when you read Pestka's full statement, don't you think? Negative message-testing is an important part of the political process, but it has to be done right. Done like this, it's just bogus.

MI-14: Democratic Rep. Gary Peters is going up on the air, both radio and TV, which I believe makes him the first candidate to do so in the 13th District. The first spot start with a bit of biography, then segues to mention the legislation Peters authored to make executives at firms which took bailout money to pay back bonuses. (The bill passed the House by a huge margin but the cravens in the Senate removed it from a larger legislative package.) Peters also flashes a photograph with Barack Obama's arm around his shoulder, saying he's "proud to stand with" the President. That should give you a sense of what kind of district this is (i.e., heavily Democratic).

The second television ad talks about his work on behalf of women (opposing limits on contraceptive access, supporting "equal pay for equal work"). The radio spot features Detroit resident Wilma Ray Bledsoe praising Peters for standing up for Medicare and Social Security.

NV-04: Democratic state Sen. Steven Horsford just made a hefty $750K TV ad reservation for the month of October. He faces Republican Danny Tarkanian in this new, Dem-leaning seat.

NY-06: After recently filing another $15K expenditure with the FEC, EMILY's List has now spent over $100K on mailers supporting Assemblywoman Grace Meng in this open seat Democratic primary. (James L)

NY-07, NY-08, NY-13: Such a mensch: Dem Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a bunch of congressional endorsements on the Friday before the primary. I'm sure Charlie Rangel, Hakeem Jeffries, and Nydia Velazquez are really grateful.

NY-18: Sean Maloney certainly didn't get a warm welcome when he entered the Democratic primary here a few months back, and in its waning days, the contest for right to take on GOP freshman Nan Hayworth has only gotten nastier. The guy who is probably Maloney's chief rival for the nomination, physician Rich Becker, recently sent out a mailer touting his own endorsement from the New York Times on one side, and slamming Maloney as a carpetbagger on the other. You can check out the flyer at the link.

RI-01: Uh, say what now? Anthony Gemma, the self-described "conservative Democrat" who is trying to unseat freshman Rep. David Cicilline in the primary, said in a recent interview that he would not have supported... intervening to stop the Holocaust? Yikes!

Interviewer: So is there, uh, an example from American history of an intervention you would have supported?

Gemma: Um… (long pause)... uh, I'll get back to you on that.

Interviewer: OK.

Gemma: I'm not—I'm not for war. I mean, I'm just not for war.

Interviewer: So, just for instance, uh, World War II, there's—the Holocaust is going on, uh, would you have supported intervening earlier then Pearl Harbor at many—as many have suggested America should have.

Gemma: So, but, that answer I kind of answered already, cause we were attacked first, so, you know, I would say that that's an area that and Pearl Harbor in that situation, you know, we had to act.

Interviewer: So you wouldn't have supported intervening to stop the Holocaust before Pearl Harbor?

Gemma: (Pause, deep breath) I don't believe we have enough information on exactly what was happening there. I'm sorry, I—when that—when we get declassified information and I can read it, I'll give you an answer for it.

SC-07: On Friday, a local judge overturned the South Carolina Elections Commission, ruling that a runoff should indeed be held between Preston Brittain and Gloria Tinubu for the Democratic nomination in the new 7th Congressional District. This isn't too surprising, since the state attorney general had advised the commission to count votes for withdrawn candidate Ted Vick and proceed with the runoff—advice which the elections board ignored. The judge, however, sided with the AG (PDF) and ordered the commission to let the court know whether the runoff could take place as scheduled on Tuesday.

The commission responded saying it was indeed ready to go ahead with the runoff on the scheduled date. Tinubu initially made some noise about appealing the court's decision, but then she posted a statement on her website encouraging supporters to vote on Tuesday, so presumably she's forging ahead. And that that makes sense, since it's hard to see how Brittain—who's barely had any time to campaign—can overcome the 12-point edge Tinubu had on primary night. Given that she finished just 1.2% below the 50% threshold for avoiding runoffs, it seems likely she'll prevail tomorrow. But regardless, the court made the right decision, and it's up for the voters to choose their nominee, not the elections commission.

Grab Bag:

American Crossroads: I think we have to start treating Karl Rove's American Crossroads almost like its own campaign committee—they raised $4.6 million last month and have a monster $30 million cash-on-hand. And that doesn't even include sums that went to their bogus "social welfare" arm, Crossroads GPS, which, as a non-profit, doesn't have to reveal its donors or expenditures.

Blue Dogs: Center Forward, a 501(c)(4) that until late March was known as the Blue Dog Research Forum, is spending $1.25 million on a series of ads supporting five Democrats—and three Republicans. Reps. John Barrow (GA-12), Ben Chandler (KY-06), Joe Donnelly (IN-Sen), Jim Matheson (UT-04), and Mike McIntyre (NC-07) are all on the receiving end of an ad buy that praises their support of both Medicare and deficit reduction. Additionally, GOP Reps. Tim Huelskamp (KS-01), David McKinley (WV-01), and Todd Platts (the old PA-19) are all getting assistance from the group. What, did they run out of Blue Dog incumbents to support? Even crazier, McKinley and Huelskamp don't even face competitive elections, and Platts is retiring! The spots don't appear to be available online. (James L)

Polltopia: Nate Silver updates on the so-called "house effects" a dozen frequent pollsters are showing so far this cycle—and what exactly he means by the term.

SEIU: The SEIU's latest independent expenditure filing shows that they currently have paid staffers engaging in ground game efforts on behalf of a number of Democratic candidates: Shelley Berkley (NV-Sen), Sherrod Brown (OH-Sen), Tammy Baldwin (WI-Sen), Joe Miklosi (CO-06), Steven Horsford (NV-04), and Barack Obama (US-AL). (James L)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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