• OK-01: If you were following along with Tuesday night's election results, one thing you saw was the absolutely shocking, out-of-nowhere upset victory by Jim Bridenstine over Rep. John Sullivan in the OK-01 Republican primary. Bridenstine beat Sullivan 54-46 in a race that was on almost no one's radar, and in this dark red district, he'll be the heavy favorite in November.
So just who is Jim Bridenstine, anyway? We first flagged his candidacy a couple of weeks ago, when the American Academy of Ophthalmology placed a $39K radio ad buy in support of incumbent Sullivan. That was the first sign that something may have been brewing in this little-noticed primary, and it sure does appear that Bridenstine utterly blindsided Sullivan. Then again, those strange medical professional PACs often spend money in weird, uncompetitive races (see the dentists in ID-02, for instance), so there wasn't much reason to read too much into this at the time.
Bridenstine, a Naval Reserve officer, combat pilot, and former executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum, describes himself as a "Republican Patriot for U.S. Congress" on his own website. On the campaign trail, he criticized Sullivan for being something of a "do-nothing" congressman with a history of missed votes. (Recall that Sullivan spent some time in rehab to treat his alcohol addiction.) On top of that, Bridenstine also piled on the usual tea party themes of reigning in government spending—something that now seems to be a compulsory exercise to win any Republican primary.
One thing we did miss was a Bridenstine internal poll from May which showed the race tied in the low thirties; evidently, Sullivan missed that, too. Bridenstine also went on the air with a number of different ads, as did Sullivan. Bridenstine seemed to eschew the opportunity to put his television spots in front of a national audience (say, via Politico's Morning Score), which may have been a wise move that allowed him to sneak up on the incumbent.
In the end, Bridenstine raised almost $250K to Sullivan's $1 million. Sullivan was also boosted by a number of PAC independent expenditures—notably from the aforementioned Ophthalmologists, but also the American Society of Anesthesiologists. In total, the anesthesiologists spent $44K and the ophthalmologists $57K on mailers and radio ads in a last-minute attempt to shore up Sullivan... but it was too little, too late. And Sullivan seemed to know it, too, offering this remarkable quote just days before the primary:
"I never had a race like this in all my life," Sullivan told The Associated Press from Washington, as he prepared to jump on a flight back to Oklahoma for a last-minute campaign push ahead of Tuesday's primary to decide who will be the Republican nominee representing Oklahoma's 1st congressional district. "The only mistake I made was I ignored it for too long."P.S. Major props to Xenocrypt in the comments for exposing what was actually an under-the-radar proxy fight between ophthalmologists and optometrists in this race. It turns out that Sullivan co-sponsored a bill in 2011 (the "Healthcare Truth and Transparency Act") that rankled the interests of optometrists (who do not have medical degrees), while favoring ophthalmologists (who are M.D.s). Sullivan's primary race became something of an inter-professional turf war, with some 66 optometrists cutting checks to Bridenstine's campaign, totaling $30K, with an additional $5K thrown in by the American Optometric Association itself. And as we outlined above, the American Academy of Ophthalmologists responded with mid-five figures in spending on Sullivan's behalf. Click the link for more details. (David Nir & James L)
• AZ-Sen: Holy smokes:
Republican Rep. Jeff Flake, who is running for Senate in Arizona, denied this weekend that he had ever supported the Apartheid government in South Africa while a lobbyist for a Namibian uranium mine, but new audio reveals that his denial may not hold water.Here's the full transcript. Check out this part in particular:
In 1987, Flake testified before the Utah State Senate in support of a resolution expressing support for the government of South Africa while racial segregation laws were enforced—largely to support U.S. mining interests in the region. In testimony flagged by a Democratic source, Flake opposed sanctions on the regime, arguing they only worsened the living conditions for black South Africans.
South Africa's a major source to the free world of vital minerals such as manganese, cobalt, platinum, gold, etc. South Africa has over 70 percent of some of these minerals, the rest… provides the free world with over 70 percent. The only other supplier in many cases is the Soviet Union.I'm not sure how to read that bolded sentence other than that Jeff Flake testified that Apartheid "coincides with our moral standards." (By the way, this is some amazing opposition research. My hat is off to whomever dug this up.)
Without a dependable and economic source of these minerals, many industries in the United States and the free world would be severely impacted and the cost of these manufactured items would greatly increase. I think that's—that's pretty well known. As far as going against moral standards, I think it coincides with our moral standards.
If the government of South Africa falls, it depends on how it falls if it did fall. If it fell to radical elements to the left, then this could happen, and that is a fear of many people. We would be deprived of an ensured economic source of these vital minerals.
P.S. Flake is clearly worried about his primary: He's reportedly bought $1.4 million worth of airtime from July 9 through August 28, which is primary day. Self-funding businessman Wil Cardon has been nipping at Flake's heels.
• FL-Sen, OH-Sen, PA-Sen: In all three of Quinnipiac's new swing state polls, Barack Obama and the incumbent Democratic senators are leading. Those margins range from a whopping 16-points for Sherrod Brown, though, to a troublesome 1-point lead for Bill Nelson over Connie Mack. PPP is also out with an Ohio Senate sample, finding Brown up a less-gaudy seven points over Josh Mandel. PPP also has another look forward to the 2014 OH-Gov race. We've packaged all of these polls up in one place, so click through for all the numbers and our complete analysis. (David Jarman)
• MI-Sen: Kaaaaaaaaaaahn!!! Republican state Sen. Roger Kahn says he's considering a challenge to Dem Sen. Carl Levin, who isn't up for re-election until 2014. Levin turns 78 on Thursday and has served in the Senate since 1979. He hasn't yet said whether or not he'll seek a seventh term. Kahn, meanwhile, is term-limited, so he's looking for other options.
• MO-Sen: Majority PAC, what you might call the "official unofficial" super PAC of the Senate Democrats, has purchased another $44K media buy on behalf of Claire McCaskill. (The buy might be to extend the rotation of this spot released back in May, or possibly for a new spot we haven't seen yet.) (James L)
• MT-Sen: VoteVets is out with a tough new ad hitting GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg. The ad, narrated by Iraq War veteran Jim Kearns, lambastes Rehberg as a "millionaire" who continually votes to raise his own pay while voting against research to build better prosthetics for wounded veterans. Morning Score says the buy is for $100K, a considerable chunk of change in Montana. (James L)
• ND-Sen: James Hohmann at Politico reports that the American Crossroads super PAC's "non-profit" affiliate (that would be Crossroads GPS) is up with a $180K buy hitting Democrat Heidi Heitkamp on the usual Obamacare distortions. The spot is in response to a recent Heitkamp ad in which she pushed back at the "lie of the year" about the Affordable Care Act; Crossroads simply just says, "Nyah nyah, it does so take away seniors' healthcare!" (James L & David Nir)
• NM-Sen: The ad war in this race is really starting to heat up. American Crossroads is out with a new ad backing Republican ex-Rep. Heather Wilson, citing the usual purple state messaging claptrap (she's apparently an "independent voice for change" who "stood up to both parties to cut wasteful Washington spending and supported lower taxes to let New Mexicans keep more of their hard-earned money"). Size of the buy: $170K.
Meanwhile, the League of Conservation Voters is out with a new ad of their own, titled "Emma," which features a young blonde girl drinking water that Heather Wilson voted to poison with MTBE. (Well, not really, but she did vote for legislation that included provisions to shield polluters from MTBE-related lawsuits.) Politico's Morning Score reports that this is a $150K buy, but the LCV only filed a $90K expenditure report with the FEC. (They've also reported spending about $114K on a series of mail pieces against Wilson.) (James L)
• OR-Sen, OR-Gov (PDF): The presidential race is the only game in town this year in Oregon, so to round out its sample of the Beaver State, PPP tested some preliminary matchups for 2014, when Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber and Sen. Jeff Merkley will be up to re-election. They find things a little closer than you might expect, especially if Republican Rep. Greg Walden gets involved in either race. He probably won't, though, as he's climbing the House leadership ladder and would most likely prefer to keep his perpetually safe seat in OR-02 rather than roll the dice on a statewide run... but keep a wary eye on him. Walden, who has statewide favorables of 27/16, comes within 1 of Kitzhaber (42-41) and actually leads Merkley by 2 (42-40).
Once you get past Walden, though, there isn't much left on the GOP's bench; the other options they tested don't come that close. But that's mostly thanks to lack of name rec, and neither Kitzhaber nor Merkley crests the 50% mark. GOP state party chair (and 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary loser) Allen Alley trails 46-36 against Kitzhaber and 43-37 against Merkley; state House co-speaker Bruce Hanna trails 46-33 versus Kitz and 43-35 against Merkley; and state Senator (and 2006 GOP gubernatorial primary loser) Jason Atkinson trails 45-30 against the governor and 43-34 against Merkley. (David Jarman)
• TX-Sen: It looks like the two-month-long Texas GOP Senate runoff is finally heating up. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has his first ad up of the second round, in which he accuses President Obama of supporting "amnesty" (presumably for illegal immigrants). More amusingly, Dewhurst claims that ranchers along the border are being "overrun by human traffic—now it's international gangs and people from the Middle East and China." Crossing that Sino-Amero-Arabian-Mexican border? Also, at about 10 seconds in, one rancher is wearing fit-over sunglasses that make him look like the Lone Ranger. The runoff is July 31.
• MT-Gov: Montana, like Washington, seems to be one of those "frequent disclosure" states, with fundraising reports due almost every month lately. It's the same old story, thought: In the most recent reporting period, from May 27 through June 20, Dem AG Steve Bullock took in $191K while ex-Rep. Rick Hill raised just $55K. And because Hill had to spend most of his resources in order to win the GOP primary earlier this month, he has just $118K on-hand versus $777K for Bullock.
• HI-02: VoteVets is putting a fresh $98K injection into this race on behalf of Democrat Tulsi Gabbard, putting an ad that they first released in May back on the air for a two-week rotation. (James L)
• MI-03: Ex-state Rep. Steve Pestka has responded with his own poll of the Democratic primary (from GQR), showing him up 39-15 over activist Trevor Thomas. Pestka has a 24-11 favorability rating while Thomas is at 9-6. Thomas published a poll last week that had Pestka up by a smaller 21-16 margin. The primary is August 7.
• NC-08: Boom goes the dynamite. The Club for Growth just placed some big buys on behalf of Republican Scott Keadle for his runoff against Richard Hudson. The breakdown is as follows: $310K on TV, $50K on radio, and $40K on mail. The ads aren't available online as yet. (James L)
• NY-08: This is amusing: Even though Hakeem Jeffries smashed him in the Democratic primary by a score of 72-28 (dayumn!), Charles Barron "called for a recount and said he would not be calling Jeffries to congratulate him on the win." Fortunately, I can tell Barron right now what the results of a recount will show.
Anyhow, while Barron dominated coverage of this race for the last couple of months, one important thing not to lose sight of is the fact that Jeffries will be replacing Ed Towns, a useless back-bencher with no discernable ideology beyond pure self-interest. And it was the strength of Jeffries' campaign, bolstered in large part by early support from key labor unions and the Working Families Party, that pushed Towns to the exits. As far as progressive values are concerned, this a huge, huge upgrade, and Jeffries will make the Democratic caucus in the House better.
• Census: Just an FYI: According to the Census Bureau's own calendar, census data will not be made available for newly redistricted congressional districts until January of next year.
• MD Redistricting: One small detail worth noting about the Supreme Court's summary affirmance of the lower court ruling that rejected a challenge to Maryland's new congressional map is that one claim alleged that Maryland's new law that counts prisoners (for the purposes of redistricting) where they are from, rather than where they're incarcerated, was unconstitutional. The three-judge panel which first heard the case didn't buy that argument, and because the Supreme Court has now affirmed that decision (albeit without a written opinion of their own), that means such laws are, indeed, constitutional. Only a handful of other states have such laws, most notably Delaware and New York, but hopefully this will help pave the way for more such legislation in the future.