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Leading Off:

NH-Gov: So we've got yet another "Bill Clinton endorses candidate who endorsed his wife in 2008" story, though this one has some contours that are worth exploring a little further. The recipient of Clinton's largesse this time is ex-state Sen. Maggie Hassan; her primary opponent, ex-state Sen. Jackie Cilley, wasn't just a run-of-the-mill Obama backer but actually endorsed him very early on, in July of 2007. That would be notable anywhere, but especially in New Hampshire, where most politicos are in the habit of being courted heavily and wait until the last minute to come off the fence. Cilley, though, stuck her neck out and took a real risk in supporting the insurgent Obama almost half a year before the primary.

Meanwhile, Hassan's actions during that campaign should not be swept under the rug— after all, Bill Clinton is returning the favor for a very specific reason. Two days before the primary, Hassan co-signed an email (along with two dozen other women prominent in New Hampshire politics) attacking Barack Obama as weak on abortion rights. The missive read in part:

"The difference between Hillary's repeatedly standing up strong on choice and Obama's unwillingness to vote 'yes' or 'no' is a clear contrast, and we believe the voters in New Hampshire deserve to know this difference. We support Hillary Clinton because she never ducked when choice was at stake."
The Clinton campaign also sent out a related mailer hitting the same message, relying on a series of votes Obama took while in the Illinois legislature where he voted "present" rather than "aye" or "nay" on bills related to reproductive rights. These attacks rightly infuriated the Obama campaign, seeing as an Illinois Planned Parenthood official had explained that the "present" votes "were part of a deliberate strategy to protect other pro-choice legislators, other than Obama, in vulnerable districts."

Not long after the primary, Hassan and two other signatories tried to heal the wounds caused by their email, concerned about lingering hard feelings. Hassan claimed she was unaware of the Illinois Planned Parenthood defense of Obama and, in reporter Alec MacGillis's phrasing, said "it was wrong for anyone to suggest that Obama was not pro-choice." Yet she nevertheless stuck to her guns:

But Hassan stood by what she said was the main point of the initial e-mail, that Clinton was the most staunchly pro-choice Democrat. "All of the leading Democratic candidates are strongly pro-choice but I think Hillary's record is unparalleled. I stand by what I signed before the election and don't think it's inconsistent with" the new e-mail stating that Obama is strongly pro-choice, Hassan said. "Everybody's going to interpret these letters and e-mails as they want to."
As Paul Harvey would say: "And now you know the rest of the story."

Senate:

AZ-Sen: Damn, that's a lot of mailers. The Club for Growth is spending $416K on flyers attacking Wil Cardon and boosting his GOP primary rival, Jeff Flake. A sum this large must mean they're doing a statewide mailing.

CA-Sen: Most polls of the California Senate race that we've seen have shown Dianne Feinstein looking less indomitable than usual, only hovering around the 50% mark... but still sporting huge leads over little-known Republican rival Elizabeth Emken. And the latest poll of the race—an online survey taken by M4 Strategies for a coalition of Pepperdine University School of Public Policy and the California Business Roundtable—shows just that, with Feinstein leading 49-30. The poll also has numbers on the many propositions that California voters will face in November; click through for those. (It also has Barack Obama leading 52-33.) (David Jarman)

CT-Sen: I wish I could say I thought it would matter, but I think we've reached the point where no one really cares what Chris Shays thinks. Still, the former congressman offered up a pretty delicious serving of cat fud in a recent interview with the New Haven Register editorial board, in which he utterly lambasted GOP primary rival Linda McMahon and said he wouldn't support her if she wins the nomination. Some gems:

• "I have never run against an opponent that I have respected less—ever—and there are a lot of candidates that I've run against."

• "I thought she was embarrassingly clueless."

• "You have a candidate who is basically giving the finger to all the editorial boards."

• "I think she is a terrible candidate and I think she would make a terrible senator."

Yowza! Shays says he won't vote for Democrat Chris Murphy in the general election, but with feelings like this, perhaps he's persuadable. Anyhow, there's more at the link, including some video. Amazing stuff, really.

FL-Sen: There haven't been a lot of polls showing GOP Rep. Connie Mack beating Dem Sen. Bill Nelson—in fact, if you dial out the spazzy Rasmussen, you're left with a single Quinnipiac poll that put Mack up a single point back in May. All other surveys have had Nelson leading, until this strange new set of numbers from SurveyUSA (for WFLA-TV in Tampa), their first poll of Florida all cycle. Here, Mack is on top by an implausible 48-42 spread, and I'm not saying it's implausible simply because he's ahead. I say that because the same survey shows Obama beating Romney by a pretty fat 48-43 margin. I just find it hard to believe that Nelson could be underperforming Obama at all, let alone so badly.

MN-Sen: There hasn't been much polling of the Minnesota Senate race, on account of its snooziness, and the latest poll from SurveyUSA (taken for KSTP-TV) fit the pattern. Dem Sen. Amy Klobuchar leads state Rep. Kurt Bills by a 55-31 margin, almost identical to the 55-29 spread PPP saw in early June. However, Obama's edge over Romney has been cut down to 46-40, vs. 52-38 when SUSA last tested this contest in May. Several commenters have pointed out that SUSA is now using a likely voter model (even though it's awfully early to be doing so). That represents a switch from using registered voters in their prior poll, which probably explains Obama's drop.

MT-Sen: Remember that ad last month which touted GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg's vote against the infamous Paul Ryan budget? The spot, which led to some very uncomfortable headlines for Republicans, was ostensibly produced by the Montana GOP... but now, as Politico's Emily Schultheis points out, the situation has gotten even more awkward. That's because the $200K buy was the direct result of a half-million dollar infusion from the NRSC to the state party in the month of June. It's one thing for some random state party to make a calculated show of going rogue and attacking the Ryan plan; it's a bit more difficult to explain when the national Republican Party funds ads that rip into a seminal plank of the modern GOP.

On a related note, a new AP article shows that Rehberg failed to provide the occupation for one in seven donors in his newest fundraising report, as required by federal law. (By contrast, only 1% of Dem Sen. Jon Tester's contributors lacked employment information.) A previous AP investigation from earlier in the year "found Rehberg received about $20,000 in donations last year from three dozen lobbyists who did not disclose their occupations when they made the contributions." In response to that earlier report, Rehberg's campaign said they'd step up their compliance efforts, but obviously that hasn't been the case.

ND-Sen: Majority PAC tosses yet another $50K in against GOPer Rick Berg. I figure they're re-upping the buy on this spot a second time, which would bring them to about $184K so far.

NM-Sen: Environmental organizations have made GOP ex-Rep. Heather Wilson their number one target this year, and they just keep pouring it on. The Sierra Club is spending $19K more on mailers, while a group called Environment America, Inc. forked out $13K for canvassing on behalf of Dem Rep. Martin Heinrich.

PA-Sen: Rasmussen: Bob Casey (D-inc): 49 (48), Tom Smith (R): 38 (41).

WI-Sen: Tommy Thompson is out with a new ad hitting his chief primary rival, Eric Hovde, with a pretty decent visual gimmick. A game piece with Hovde's photo on top circles a board as the announcer explains all the dastardly things he's done to get ahead playing "the Washington game." The spot could almost have come out of a Democratic campaign, since it says the uber-wealthy Hovde "gamed the system and bet against American companies and home-owners." Whatever happened to the party of Gordon Gekko and creative destruction?

Meanwhile, Hovde's on the defensive for doing what so many rich guys who belatedly decide to turn political have done—or rather, haven't done: vote regularly. Hovde only cast a ballot twice in the last 11 elections he was registered for... in Washington, D.C., not Wisconsin. (His recent return to the Badger State is something else that his opponents are eagerly making hay of). Hovde's excuse for his shoddy record of civic participation is hilariously clueless in that 1%-er way: "I'm a person that's spent 75% of my life in an airplane, flying around the U.S., flying around the globe."

Finally, did Thompson fail to get the memo on Ted Nugent? The Nuge, who's made a lot of unwanted headlines recently, is leading a rally for Thompson this Thursday. I wonder if any reporters will ask Thompson if he agrees with Nugent that the Obama administration is "evil" and "America-hating."

Gubernatorial:

WA-Gov: It's been at least a year since you've been able to access the internet in Washington without getting pummeled with Rob McKenna banner ads, but now he's finally moving over to the big-bucks world of TV advertising. The Republican gubernatorial candidate released his first ad over the weekend, managing to shoehorn introducing his family and rolling out policy proposals into a deliberately frenetic 30 seconds. (Democratic rival Jay Inslee has been airing a more leisurely 60-second ad for a few weeks now.)

The ad deluge should only intensify in the future, too, as the DGA and RGA just made big advertising moves here. The DGA reserved $1.25 million and is moving another $1 million to the labor-backed Our Washington PAC, which has already made large reservations of it own. Similarly, the RGA is going with a $1.9 million reservation for the months leading up to the election. (David Jarman)

House:

AZ-04: The Club for Growth is shelling out $58K for mailers attacking GOP Rep. Paul Gosar. They'd previously endorsed state Sen. Ron Gould in the primary.

AZ-05: National Horizon, a new Republican super PAC, is spending $20K on a TV ad that contrasts Kirk Adams, who purportedly broke an anti-tax pledge, with his chief primary rival, ex-Rep. Matt Salmon, who followed through on an earlier term-limits pledge and didn't seek re-election after three terms in Congress.

AZ-06: Retiring Sen. Jon Kyl has cut an ad for Rep. Ben Quayle, who faces an incumbent-vs.-incumbent battle with fellow Rep. David Schweikert. The spot is mostly positive, but Kyl starts off with a dig at Schweikert, saying he's served with both men, but "David's been in politics almost as long as I have" and he thinks it's "time to turn things over to a new generation." But I think whoever wrote this script didn't realize they included a back-handed dissing of Quayle, since Kyl calls him "tougher than he looks." So he looks like a wimp? Or just like Brock Landers?

CA-47 (PDF): The DCCC is trying to push back against an internal poll from Republican Gary DeLong with one of their own. It's not clear who the pollster is—the memo just refers to "DCCC IVR Results." IVR stands for "interactive voice response," which is the fancy term for robopolling, so perhaps the D-Trip keeps a few autodialers down in the basement. Anyhow, they find Democrat Alan Lowenthal up 47-36 over DeLong, in contrast with the DeLong survey which had Lowenthal on top just 44-41. But note that this poll was in the field for just a single day and only had 259 respondents, which is super-tiny and yields a margin of error of more than ±6%.

CT-05: Democrat Chris Donovan is out with his first ad, in which he begins: "These days, some people are afraid to be called liberal or progressive"—with the message being that he clearly is not. Donovan says "I'm proud of my record" (such as "leading the fight to clean up elections" and "making millionaires pay their fair share")  and cites endorsements from the likes of SEIU and MoveOn.

But guess who is all to happy to attack Donovan for his progressive resume? That would be none other than EMILY's List, which is backing Elizabeth Esty in the primary and plans to "educate women voters" using right-wing frames. Get a load of this:

"Chris Donovan's 20 year record for Connecticut speaks for itself: exorbitant pay raises and the biggest tax hike in Connecticut history. Middle class families are paying the price."
What's particularly galling about this is that EMILY is almost certainly referring to the same thing Donovan is: the passage of a 2009 law which increased taxes on couples earning over $1 million a year. That's a massive progressive accomplishment! To go after Donovan on those grounds is just appalling.

Meanwhile, Esty is now airing her second ad, in which she takes on the issue of offshoring. Among other things, she wants to "clos[e] tax loopholes for corporations that ship jobs overseas."

MA-06: In a lengthy new piece, the Boston Globe tries to argue that Dem Rep. John Tierney "shoulda known" about the illegal gambling ring run by his brothers-in-law and abetted by his wife, but I read the whole article and I'm not seeing anything new here. There certainly isn't any evidence that Tierney did know anything about the operation, but the Globe wants to hammer him anyway, repeatedly saying things like he "had ample reason to be wary," he "had reason to be suspicious," that there's "ample reason for his critics to wonder how he could not have caught wind of it," and so forth.

It feels like the reporters are frustrated that they can't pin this on Tierney but they want him to shoulder some culpability regardless. Indeed, check out this graf buried at the end of the piece, referring to one of Tierney's brothers-in-law:

Eremian said he could prove that Tierney knew he was running a massive, illegal gambling ring and agreed to meet with a Globe reporter to review "materials" in his possession that would make the point. But he subsequently backed off on the offer. When a Globe reporter arrived at his Antigua home unannounced—greeting him at the table where he had had dinner with John Tierney and his wife on two previous occasions—Eremian refused to answer questions.
Don't get me wrong: I think the entire saga sucks for Tierney and it certainly doesn't make him look good. Indeed, I think he's in very vulnerable shape for re-election, in large part because of the constant insinuations stemming from this story. But people have been trying to nail him for having some role in his wife's sordid affairs for quite some time, and no one's managed to make the case, this piece included.

P.S. Seth Moulton, a left-leaning independent who rather implausibly claimed he was ready to swoop into the race and save the seat for Democrats now says he won't run after all. It was hard to see how Moulton would have done anything other than siphon off votes from Tierney, so I think Dems would have to consider this good news.

MI-11: Here's that Freedom's Defense Fund ad on behalf of Kerry Bentivolio we mentioned the other day. (We'd seen the size of the buy—just $20K worth of cable—but not the spot itself.) It's pretty weak stuff, arguing that Bentivolio's GOP primary rival, write-in hopeful Nancy Cassis, "bid $200,000" for a seat in Congress. That's a reference to the $200K Cassis loaned her campaign in June.

OR-04: This independent expenditure first caught our eye because it's simply from "Republican Super PAC, Inc." That's amusing enough on its own (hilariously generic-sounding, like those off-brand canned goods in the supermarket with the black and white labels). It gets more interesting in the fine print, though: the signatory on their IE report is James Bopp, one of the GOP's top election lawyers and dark money wizards. Bopp created the generically-named PAC back in May—apparently with the partial intent of probing the law's limits on unlimited individual PAC contributions—and this looks to be their first-ever expenditure.

So what's their interest in the 4th—a race that most handicappers don't regard as competitive—where longtime Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio faces a rematch against Art Robinson, someone who might be politely described as a "character?" (He's a fringey scientist and grifterish peddler of homeschooling supplies.) The closest we could come to finding a hook that might explain the questionable decision to spend the $9,240 on radio ads for Robinson may have to do with one of the co-founders of Republican Super PAC, Inc.: RNC committeeman and fellow Oregonian Solomon Yue. Yue isn't from the 4th (he's from Polk Co.), but if he wanted to spend money in his home state, this is as close as you're going to come to finding a competitive Congressional race in Oregon this year. (David Jarman)

TX-23: The League of Conservation Voters spent big before the TX-23 Democrat primary, blasting ex-Rep. Ciro Rodriguez with over a quarter mil on mailers and TV ads. Now they're getting back in the game with the runoff just a week away, throwing down another $63K on more flyers, all in an effort to boost state Rep. Pete Gallego.

TX-33: In addition to the $150K we previously mentioned they were spending on a TV spot for Democrat Marc Veasey, the Realtors are adding in $86K on mailers, too.

Other Races:

KS-St. Sen: Conservative Republicans—including Gov. Sam Brownback, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, and the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity—are going all-out to eliminate as many moderate Republicans in the state Senate as they can in the August 7 primary. As you may know, in Kansas politics, there's an open divide between these two wings of the GOP, and though there are more conservatives in the Senate, the moderates have long forged an alliance with minority Democrats to keep control of the chamber. Among other things, this led to an extremely bitter impasse over redistricting this year, required a federal panel to draw new lines for the state. The cons are now looking to make sure this never happens again, and they only need a few wins to do so. The linked article lists a few targeted races; keep those in mind on primary night.

Grab Bag:

California: This New York Times story on the decline and fall of the California GOP is getting a lot of play, mostly because it's on page A1 of the NYT. But if you've been reading Daily Kos Elections faithfully, you've already seen this story before: We called your attention to this Sacramento Bee article on the exact same topic back in February.

Crossroads: Karl Rove's American Crossroads super PAC files fundraising reports monthly, and given its heft, it's practically a campaign committee unto itself. The group raised $5.7 million in June and has a monster $31.5 mil cash-on-hand, despite spending $3.7 mil in that timeframe. This doesn't include money raised or spent by Crossroads GPS, the organization's "charity" arm.

Dark Money: I know nothing gets you more excited than proposed rulemaking from the IRS, but if they actually follow through on this instead of it turning into one more nothingburger, this could be a real game-changer on the campaign finance front. The IRS has confirmed that it will "consider proposed changes" to the rules on what groups organized under section 501(c)(4) can do. 501(c)(4), of course, is the bit of tax code that right-wing dark money organizations like Crossroads GPS and American Action Network are set up as, allowing them to collect undisclosed dollars (because they're "social welfare" organizations) and use them for political purposes. A more stringent prohibition on electioneering would limit the damage 501(c)(4)s can do, though the prohibition would need to limit not only actually running ads but also using 501(c)(4)s as simple conduits that pass money to Super PACs that don't have electioneering restrictions. A great example is the relationship between Crossroads GPS, where the money goes in, and American Crossroads, where the ads come out. (David Jarman)

DCCC: It's a biannual ritual: The DCCC gets antsy about members of Congress who haven't yet paid their dues for the cycle (they start at $150K and go up from there), so they leak some information to a Beltway publication in the hopes of shaming House Democrats into giving what they owe. The far more effective way would be to just give the list to us: Those of you with long memories will recall the highly successful "Use It Or Lose It" campaign from 2006, in which netroots activists directly contacted their members of Congress to ask that they meet their obligations to the D-Trip. It got a lot of positive press (click here to see some good quotes) and more importantly, it helped fill the DCCC's coffers at a time when they needed the money most. We'd be thrilled to do so again.

On a related note, here's one guy who's already stepping up even though he doesn't have to: Democrat Jared Huffman, who transferred $50K to the D-Trip at the end of June. (Credit to Greg Giroux for the catch, natch.) Huffman isn't even a member of Congress yet, but he faces a badly under-funded Republican opponent in the dark blue CA-02 and is as close to a lock as you can get. So kudos to him—and if Huffman can make a contribution like this, then certainly Dem incumbents in safe seats can pay off their dues in full.

Georgia/Texas: A week from Tuesday, Georgia will hold its primaries and Texas will conduct runoffs stemming from its long-ago primaries. That means there's a new batch of pre-election FEC reports for both states, which we've compiled at the link. However, since quarterly filings up through June 30 were recently due, these new reports only cover the period of July 1 through July 11, which means there isn't a whole lot to see here. The most notable entry belongs to businessman Rick Allen, one of the Republicans hoping to take on Dem Rep. John Barrow in the fall; he loaned his campaign $150,000.

NRSC: Check out the time-stamp on Cameron Joseph's piece about the NRSC's June fundraising: 5:16pm on Friday night. I'd call it a late Friday news dump, but the NRSC didn't even do that much. Rather, monthly fundraising reports were due at the FEC that day, and enterprising souls in the DC area can snag hard copies from the Secretary of the Senate before filings get posted online. So this was more like a late Friday news burial, since Senate Republicans only took in $4.4 mill last month, compared to $8 mil for Dems. And the DSCC has $31 mil in the bank vs. $24 mil for the GOP.

Polltopia: If you're a regular Daily Kos Elections reader, you're probably also a regular Nate Silver reader, but this weekend's piece on the "incumbent rule" is worth a read if you haven't already seen it. It's probably his most thorough piece yet on the oft-cited-yet-basically-wrong premise that an incumbent needs to poll over 50% because undecideds break toward the challenger (tell President Kerry that). Nate finds that the evidence against the "incumbent rule" may not be as strong at the presidential level as with downballot races (maybe because of the small sample size and a lot of other intervening variables), but that reversion toward the mean as the election closes is a much more pronounced trend. (Also, he confirms a trend that we definitely saw this year: that the challenger totally flails in the polls when primary season is at its most heated, and returns to form by April or so once then nomination is settled.) (David Jarman)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Jul 24, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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