• MI-11: Goodbye, Thaddeus McCotter. The Republican congressman called it quits in a late Friday news dump:
Today I have resigned from the office of United States Representative for Michigan's 11th Congressional District.McCotter also assailed recent "calumnies, indignities, and deceits" in his statement, suggesting that he is planning to exit as Thad the Victim.
After nearly 26 years in elected office, this past nightmarish month and a half have, for the first time, severed the necessary harmony between the needs of my constituency and of my family. As this harmony is required to serve, its absence requires I leave.
For those unaware of those recent events, McCotter's downfall began with a bizarre and quixotic bid for the White House, which was essentially over before it began.
Then, in a shocking and humiliating turn of events, his attempt to land softly back in his freshly gerrymandered House seat fell apart when he failed to secure enough valid signatures to qualify for the August primary ballot. What was an embarrassment became a matter for the courts when allegations of fraud popped up in his ballot petitions. McCotter briefly pondered a write-in bid for his seat, before deciding early last month to abandon that effort.
Then came the almost comical revelation just a day earlier that McCotter had, with his presidential campaign in tatters, turned his attention not to his work as a U.S. Representative, but rather to penning a script for an TV sitcom/variety show starring himself and featuring offensive fratboy "humor." This last revelation, apparently, was the final straw.
McCotter's 11th district, made redder thanks to Republican efforts during redistricting, was already an open seat due to McCotter's failure to qualify for the ballot and subsequent decision to drop his write-in effort. It's unclear if a special election will be necessitated by McCotter's resignation, given that we are now just four months away from the general election. It's possible that a special could be consolidated with the November general election, which would mean the winner would serve only the final two months of McCotter's term.
Meanwhile, the regularly-scheduled primary is fast approaching next month. The local GOP establishment has rallied around the write-in candidacy of former state Sen. Nancy Cassis, since tea party devotee Kerry Bentivolio is the only Republican actually on the ballot and no one seems to think very highly of him. Physician Syed Taj is considered the frontrunner on the Democratic side. McCotter's abrupt resignation doesn't directly impact this race, but it certainly doesn't make Republicans look any better. But at this point, they're probably happy to have him gone—and it's not like Democrats are going to miss him, either. (Steve Singiser, with David Nir)
• CT-Sen: Dem Rep. Chris Murphy is up with his first ad of the election cycle, a cute positive spot in which he and his wife keep getting interrupted on a trip to the supermarket by constituents who want to talk about issues important to them—and finishes with Murphy promising that he'll "never get tired of listening."
• FL-, NM-, NV-, WI-Sen: American Commitment, a new Republican "charity" (you know, a non-profit 501(c)(4) that doesn't have to disclose either its donors or spending), is launching ads attacking four Democratic Senate candidates over their support for the Affordable Care Act. The Wisconsin spot is reportedly backed by a $500K buy; figures for the others are not available. All but the Nevada ad are available at the link.
• IL-Sen: Edward McCelland at NBC 5 Chicago takes an early look at possible candidates who could replace veteran Dem Sen. Dick Durbin if he retires in 2014—he'd turn 70 not long after election day. McClelland gives quick capsule run-downs on seven Democrats and four Republicans who might potentially run. Click through for all the names.
• TX-Sen: Former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz is out with what I believe is the first poll of the GOP Senate runoff, an internal from WPA Opinion Research that shows him up 49-40 over Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. As Roll Call's Abby Livingston points out, however, polling a runoff taking place in the Texas mid-summer heat is a tricky business, especially since Lone Star runoffs traditionally have taken place in the spring. But, as ever, the key thing to watch here is whether Dewhurst releases competing numbers... though pro-Dewhurst groups put out several polls before the primary that suggested he'd score over 50%, something which most emphatically did not happen.
I also expect another massive barrage of third-party spending on Dewhurst's behalf, which could change the calculus—though Cruz's allies may be ready to return fire. So far, though, it's mostly been penny-ante stuff. And Dewhurst has run a couple of ads, but Cruz hasn't gone back on the air yet. That, too, should change soon.
• WI-Sen: The Hotline's Sean Sullivan reports that ultra-wealthy businessman Eric Hovde (whose net worth may be as much as $240 million) is throwing down another $1.5 million for a five-week broadcast TV buy that would take him all the way to the August 14 GOP primary. That's on top of the several mil he's already spent. No word yet on whether any new ads will be thrown into the mix, though I'd guess some will be.
• NH-Gov: As I imagined it would, the issue of Medicaid expansion as part of the Affordable Care Act has indeed made its way on to the campaign trail. As you know, the Supreme Court's ruling made this expansion, which is intended to provide insurance to low-income individuals, optional rather than mandatory. That makes it an issue for both governors (Republicans have almost universally said they plan to reject this federal aid, Democrats the opposite) and gubernatorial candidates. One state where this is playing out is New Hampshire: The GOP field has predictably lined up against it, but where the two Democrats appear to be reacting differently. (Outgoing Dem Gov. John Lynch hasn't made up his mind yet.)
Democratic candidate Maggie Hassan, of Exeter, took the Lynch position of not committing to either side.Hassan's opponent, meanwhile, seems like she's in favor of the expansion:
"There has long been a bipartisan interest in New Hampshire in helping ensure that working families can afford health insurance because it is right for families and because businesses are paying higher insurance premiums because of the shifting of the costs of the uninsured," Hassan said.
Democratic candidate Jackie Cilley, of Barrington, said that while she would continue to review the details, she expects she would move forward with expanding Medicaid.In a later statement, Hassan sounded a bit more open, with a spokesman saying she "would work with the Legislature and businesses to determine how best to use the federal dollars available to extend affordable health insurance to more of our hard-working citizens." I'm not certain whether "federal dollars" means "Medicaid expansion," though.
"As governor, I'm confident that I'll be able to work with the Legislature and our representatives in D.C. to make sure that all the ACA reforms, including Medicaid expansion, serve the citizens of New Hampshire," Cilley said in a statement.
• NC-08: The other day, we talked about Dem Rep. Larry Kissell's intent to flip-flop on repealing the Affordable Care Act. (First he was against repeal; now he's for it—not the easiest thing to spin.) But did he also potentially hurt himself with another recent high-profile, controversial vote? A group called the North Carolina 8th Congressional District Black Leadership Caucus just announced it would withhold its endorsement from Kissell, with both his planned ACA vote and his vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder (the nation's first African-American AG) in contempt of Congress apparently at issue.
And as The Hotline notes, a March polling memo for Kissell specifically suggested that improving his standing among minorities was a key to victory. While dinging Holder might help Kissell distance himself from national Democrats, if it comes at the cost of alienating black voters, that could prove very counter-productive.
• NY-13: Whoa. I'm a pretty jaded guy when it comes to campaign chicanery, but these new revelations about the NY-13 Democratic primary brought to light by the Daily News are shocking even to me. This is some seriously banana republic bullshit:
Vote counting in the fierce congressional battle between incumbent Charlie Rangel and his insurgent challenger Adriano Espaillat is no longer a matter of the usual incompetence of the Board of Elections.So what is the News talking about?
Troubling signs have now emerged that some officials at the board crossed the line in an all-out effort by the Democratic Party establishment to ensure a Rangel victory, and that the board's staff wrongly disqualified hundreds of paper ballots.
"We've found 192 people in Manhattan whose affidavit ballots were disqualified but who show up as Democratic voters on the rolls," said Aneiry Batista, coordinator of the recount operation for the Espaillat campaign. "And we're not even halfway through those that were disqualified."That's only the half of it. This is just as stunning:
Batista, and the whole of Espaillat's camp, was even more astonished by what they found in the Bronx—170 disqualified ballots on which poll workers failed to write down the Election and Assembly District in which the vote was cast.
That's something state law requires poll workers to do, board spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez confirmed.
The News has learned that on Saturday morning, June 23, Timothy Gay, the deputy chief clerk for Manhattan's Board of Elections—and the person currently supervising the count of the votes in the Manhattan part of the 13th Congressional District—held a meeting in Harlem with key Rangel campaign operatives, and with district leaders supporting Rangel. [...]Gay doesn't deny participating, though he claims no Rangel operatives were in attendance—but he also added that he showed up "on [his] own free time," which means he knows it was unseemly at best and extremely wrong at worst for a Board of Elections official to appear at an event like this. And if the board truly was in the tank for Rangel—as it really appears it was—then I'm just beyond disgusted. For the supposed guardians of the democratic process to allow themselves to be corrupted and take sides is an extreme and appalling low.
Traditionally, district leaders are the ones who get to name the poll workers that the board will hire for their districts on Election Day.
Yet a half-dozen district leaders who supported Espaillat told me this week that the Board of Elections rejected virtually all the people they recommended as poll workers.
Over the weekend, though, the count of paper ballots concluded, leaving Rangel with a 990-vote lead. That probably means Espaillat won't bother forging ahead, especially since if he wants to run for re-election as state senator, he has to file by this Thursday. We'll know more at the next hearing before the judge now overseeing the count, which is Wednesday. But it would be sad indeed if all of this wound up getting swept under the rug.
• Maps: Here's a map of the blue states and red states that looks pretty much as expected... except it's not a map of any sort of political activity. Instead, the blue counties are the ones where people tweet more about "beer" than about "church," and the red counties are ones where people tweet about "church" rather than "beer." In the complicated dance of psychographics and microtargeting, it couldn't actually be this simple... could it? (David Jarman)
• Polltopia: This Slate article by Sasha Issenberg is interesting in a couple ways... one, it describes the challenges and hazards of polling in Mexico (where pollsters actually did a reasonably good job of predicting last weekend's presidential election). And two, it wonders aloud about whether what's happening in Mexico—an increased reliance on face-to-face polling as a response to the increasing difficulty in finding willing poll participants by phone—might find its way into America as well, where the same polling method problems are mounting. (Issenberg's answer: no, probably not, given the expense involved... except for those willing to pay a premium for accuracy.) (David Jarman)
• Texas: Dreaminonempty has his first post up as our new Featured Writer here at Daily Kos Elections. He's aggregated a few months' worth of DailyKos/SEIU national polling data and plucked out all the Texas voters... and reached a very surprising conclusion: Obama and Romney are tied in the Lone Star State! That's not at all likely to hold for election day, as dreamin explains, but click through for a deep dive into the data.
• Third Parties Using some slightly dusty data (about a month old), Gallup looked at the potential third-party prospects for the presidential election, and found none of them performing rather well: Libertarian Gary Johnson scored best at just 3 percent. They also found that their presence helped Barack Obama (he led by 7 points over Mitt Romney).
But, in the same piece, they also offered some evidence to something we here at Daily Kos Elections have long posited: Third-party candidates tend to poll far better than they actually perform on election day. Gallup looked back to some luminaries like Ross Perot, Ralph Nader, and John Anderson, and found that they wound up getting nowhere near the numbers they polled even in the days leading up to the election, to say nothing of where they were the summer before the election. For those fond of nostalgia, remember that Perot led at one point in presidential polling in 1992, and Anderson was north of 20 percent!
This finding, of course, has implications well beyond the top of the ticket. We saw the impact a third-party candidate being included in polling can have just the other day when SurveyUSA's poll of the North Carolina gubernatorial election showed a two-point race, but also showed the Libertarian (Barbara Howe) getting 7 percent of the vote. This study would seem to strongly suggest that Howe will not garner anywhere close to that 7 percent come November. (Steve Singiser)