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Leading Off:

WI-Sen: The Club for Growth had long been threatening to get involved with ads in the Wisconsin Senate race, where their preferred candidate, ex-Rep. Mark Neumann, is stagnating in the GOP primary thanks to the ascendance of free-spending Eric Hovde. On Friday, they finally hit "play," with a rather sizable $700K buy. Their ad is a two-fer, hitting both co-frontrunners Tommy Thompson and Hovde... rather awkwardly in fact, shifting from one to the other at the 15-second mark with a grinding-clutch noise. They point out 9 examples of Thompson raising taxes, and then say Hovde is like Thompson on taxes: ONLY WORSE!

The other problem for the Club is that there isn't any agreement between the various Beltway/astroturfy tea party groups on which non-Thompson figure to support. FreedomWorks just stepped on CfG's ad blitz Friday morning by announcing that they're backing Hovde. It's not clear whether FreedomWorks, who've tended to be more bark and less bite than the CfG, plan to spend any money on Hovde, though (not that he seems to need any financial help). (David Jarman)

2Q Fundraising:

CT-Sen: Chris Shays (R): $531K raised

HI-Sen: Rep. Mazie Hirono (D): $941K raised, $2 mil cash-on-hand; Linda Lingle (R): $1.1 mil raised

IN-Sen: Richard Mourdock (R): $889K cash-on-hand ($1.8 mil fundraising total previously released; note that Mourdock's CoH is less than Joe Donnelly's $1.3 mil)

KY-Sen (2014): Sen. Mitch McConnell (R): $1 mil raised, $6 mil cash-on-hand

MO-Sen: Rep. Todd Akin (R): $280K raised, $1.4 mil cash-on-hand

MT-Sen: Rep. Denny Rehberg (R): $1.1 mil raised (reminder: Jon Tester raised $1.9 mil)

ND-Sen: Rep. Rick Berg (R): $1.2 mil raised

NJ-Sen: Sen. Bob Menendez (D): $1.7 mil raised, $10.3 mil cash-on-hand

NM-Sen: Heather Wilson (R): $1.6 mil raised, $1.6 mil cash-on-hand

PA-Sen: Sen. Bob Casey (D): $1.9 mil raised, $6.2 mil cash-on-hand; Tom Smith (R): $702K raised (plus $1.5 mil self-funding), $2.3 mil cash-on-hand

American Bridge: $2.8 mil raised, $2.4 mil cash-on-hand

Senate:

AZ-Sen: This may not qualify as a surprise, but it may well be a sign that the GOP establishment is starting to grow a bit concerned about a messy primary. Arizona Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl held a news conference on Friday with Rep. Jeff Flake to offer him their endorsement. Flake, who once looked like a sure thing, is locked in an increasingly competitive contest with businessman Wil Cardon. (Steve Singiser)

FL-Sen: Fresh data out of the Sunshine State on Friday gives incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson a modest lead over GOP frontrunner Connie Mack IV. The poll, from Mason-Dixon on behalf of several local media outlets, gives Nelson a 47-42 lead over Mack. The previous M-D poll in the state gave Nelson a three-point lead, meaning that the state of play is little changed since January, which was the last time Mason Dixon polled the race. (Steve Singiser)

MA-Sen: More easily-rebutted delusions of grandeur from Scott Brown. Last month, of course, was the claim that he regularly consults with "kings and queens" on policy matters. Now, by way of touting his bipartisan bona fides, he just told CNN: "And the president had called me, and vice president calls me, and Secretary Clinton calls asking for my vote all the time." The Boston Globe, reports, however, that he's talked on the phone with Barack Obama all of once and with Hillary Clinton twice. (David Jarman)

MT-Sen: I'll never get tired of posting pics of endorsements by the International Association of Fire Fighters. There's no mistaking those colors:

Fire Fighters endorse Jon Tester
ND-Sen: That size of the buy for that new Majority PAC ad hitting GOP Rep. Rick Berg on Medicare: $67K, a decent run for tiny North Dakota. Also worth noting: The production costs were a tidy $9K (not included in the figure for the buy). Given that the spot's production values were pretty good, I think it's a good example of how many campaigns and organizations overpay. Given modern technology, I think you can get a pretty decent ad for around $10K. You certainly don't need to spend $40K, like on that dumb onion ad in North Carolina.

NM-Sen: In addition to that new ad they're running attacking Republican Heather Wilson for being a friend of big polluters, the Sierra Club is also dropping some $39K on mailers hitting her, too.

OH-Sen: Majority PAC is also spending a hefty $454K on that new anti-Josh Mandel ad they recently launched.

TX-Sen: The Club for Growth said it would spend $1.5 million on Ted Cruz in the GOP runoff, and it looks like they're true to their word. In their first report, they detail about $448K in outlays, mostly on radio ads. Their second report is the big kahuna, with $1.1 million in spending on TV ads. Still, that kind of money doesn't go as far as you might think—when you're talking about giant-sized Texas.

WV-Sen: It looks like the United Mine Workers are making their first serious independent expenditure of the cycle, with a $77K buy of TV and radio spots attacking Republican John Raese, who is (for the second time in a row) seeking West Virginia's Class 1 Senate seat, currently held by Joe Manchin. The ads don't appear to be online as yet.

Gubernatorial:

ME-Gov: About damned time, dumbass:

"The acts of the Holocaust were nothing short of horrific. Millions of innocent people were murdered and I apologize for my insensitivity to the word and the offense some took to my comparison of the IRS and the Gestapo," [Gov. Paul LePage] said in his radio address.
That apology would feel more sincere, except for the fact that LePage was given an opportunity to extricate himself from this Godwin morass, and only succeeded in grabbing a shovel and digging deeper. Think any state is experiencing a deeper sense of buyer's remorse than the state of Maine over this dude? (Steve Singiser)

House:

AZ-06: And while he's in the endorsing mood, John McCain decided to also throw his support to Rep. Ben Quayle in his primary against fellow Rep. David Schweikert.

CA-15: Ex-Rep. Ellen Tauscher just became the highest-profile Dem to break with Rep. Pete Stark in his challenge from fellow Dem and Dublin city councilor Eric Swalwell (which, as they both survived the top 2 primary, will get decided in November). Not a surprise, since Tauscher used to be the most conservative Dem in the Bay Area delegation and Stark is one of its most outspoken, but also not highly relevant, since there's little overlap (only 109K residents) between her old 10th and new 15th. But Tauscher says she's motivated by Stark's antipathy toward local research powerhouse Lawrence Livermore Labs, which falls under her purview at the Dept. of State, so Tauscher's endorsement of Swalwell may move a few votes among those connected to the labs. (David Jarman)

FL-18: One congressman whose fundraising numbers must always be viewed with a gimlet eye is GOP freshman Allen West. The headline haul is always eye-popping—in this case, $2.2 million raised in the second quarter. And his cash-on-hand is nothing to sneeze at: $3.7 mil. But as Scott Bland of The Hotline notes, West had $3.3 mil in the bank at the end of the first quarter. That means his cash grew just $400K, which in turn means he must have spent at least $1.8 million of his $2.2 mil haul—an astounding burn rate of over 80%. That's nothing new for West, who relies heavily on super-expensive direct-mail fundraising, a dodgy art form practiced most notably by the conservative outfit BaseConnect (formerly known as BMW Direct).

MI-03: Steve Pestka is already going negative in his second ad, attacking his Democratic primary opponent, Trevor Thomas, for wanting to raise the Social Security retirement age. Thomas is howling, but his own website says: "Social Security can be put on stronger footing if folks under 40 years old are prepared to receive benefits at a later age than our parents have." I think this is an interesting development, though, because it suggests Pestka's team thinks they have to tear down Thomas before Thomas can do the same to them.

NC-08: A Republican ad that's actually funny and memorable instead of just boilerplate fearmongering and/or flag-waving? Yeah, I suppose so: It's an ad from the Faith Family Freedom Fund—a super PAC I don't think we've heard from before—on behalf of Mark Meadows in the GOP runoff in the 8th. The only drawback may be that the ad—which takes the idea of "government on your back" to extremes—doesn't feature Meadows or even have anything to do with him, other than a brief mention of "Mark Meadows for Congress" in the last few seconds. (David Jarman)

NY-18: GOP freshman Nan Hayworth is up with her first ad of the cycle, a not-at-all partisan biographical spot in which the announcer emphasizes the word "here" (as in, "raised her family here") three straight times. As Capital New York's Reid Pillifant explains, "It's a not-so-subtle contrast with her Democratic challenger, Sean Patrick Maloney, who has long owned a second home in the area, but was a Manhattan resident until recently."

TX-20: State Rep. (and designated "rising star") Joaquin Castro is getting a remarkably easy trip to Congress. You'd think another prominent Dem, of which there are many in San Antonio, would have jumped at the chance to succeed the retiring Charlie Gonzalez, but no one did. And at 58% Obama in the wake of redistricting, TX-20 is not exactly a slam dunk, so you might even have seen a credible Republican get in—but that didn't happen either. However, that frees up Castro's resources, and he's been a tremendous team player about it, giving $45K to the DCCC, $10K to various "Red to Blue" candidates, and doing additional fundraising worth at least $17K on the DCCC's behalf. (David Jarman)

Other Races:

NY-St. Sen: Though the herd has gotten thinned out in recent years, there are still a few Rockefeller Republican dinosaurs who've been wallowing around the New York State Senate since the start of recorded time, and Owen Johnson may be the most jurassic (heck, maybe even triassic) of all of them: He's been there since 1972. The Johnsonsaurus, however, is finally announcing his retirement, and that opens up SD-04 for a potential Dem pickup. That's key if the Dems are going to go back on the offensive and retake the state Senate, currently 33-29 in the GOP's favor. The old 4th (based around Babylon and Islip on Long Island's southern coast) went 53-46 for Obama in 2008 and its boundaries changed very little with redistricting, though this is one of those areas that tends to be more Republican downballot than at the presidential level. (David Jarman)

Grab Bag:

House: The Hotline's Scott Bland recaps television ad spending over the last few months by a pair of third-party organizations that you wouldn't think would have a lot in common: Center Forward, the rebranded Blue Dog vehicle, and Patriot Majority USA, a group that's linked to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Yet they've both shelled out some decent coin to prop up the sort of wayward, red-district Dems who make up the Blue Dog Coalition—the kind of guys you have to figure that Harry Reid fanboys aren't particularly in love with.

What's more, Center Forward made the head-scratching decision to prop up WV-01 Rep. David McKinley, who not only doesn't need the help but also happens to be a Republican. Okay, whatever, post-partisanism, hooray. But what's really weird is that Patriot Majority also got on the McKinley bandwagon. I'd think those folks would have a harder time explaining that kind of move to their donors. In any event, Bland has some more details on how the two groups have been spending their money—a total of $750K on John Barrow (GA-12), Ben Chandler (KY-06), Jim Matheson (UT-04), and Mike McIntyre (NC-07) in just the last month.

Virginia: PPP clears out the deck on its Virginia miscellany. Most notably, they find an edge for the Dems on the generic House ballot, 45-41. With an incumbent protection map in effect, though, it's hard to imagine anywhere other than VA-02 and maybe VA-05 where that might aid the Dems with a pickup. They also find outgoing Sen. Jim Webb's approvals getting pretty lukewarm, down to 38/34, thanks mostly to declines among Democrats. (David Jarman)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Jul 16, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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