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• HI-Sen: Even though Alaska is reliably Republican and Hawaii is deep blue, the two states' congressional delegations have long been tight, in part because their sizable native populations share similar concerns. Democrat Sen. Dan Inouye had a famously close relationship with the late Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, and now it looks like GOP Rep. Don Young is forging a similar bond with Hawaii Rep. Mazie Hirono. In a rare cross-party move, Young just endorsed Hirono in her bid for the Senate and even created a pretty funny 90-second web video with her.
Meanwhile, the labor-backed Working Families for Hawaii is spending $34K on radio ads to attack Hirono's Democratic primary rival, Ed Case. (Earlier in the month, they spent a similar amount, also on radio.) But Case is somehow managing to attract outside help, in this case from the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, which is the school's faculty union. They're airing this almost content-free ad whose main theme seems to be that whoever fills this seat will be senator-for-life, so we should send Case back to Washington. The buy is small—only about $17K—which is actually less than the $24K they spent to produce it! (They're also sending out about $20K worth of mailers.)
• CT-Sen: Is Susan Bysiewicz subscribing to the "there's no such thing as bad press" school of thought? Even though she was stone-cold busted for screwing up Rep. Chris Murphy (her primary opponent) with ex-Rep. Scott Murphy (of New York) in her new attack ad, she's not only refusing to take it down, she won't even modify it. Bysiewicz herself even acknowledged that "the ad is incorrect." Maybe, speculates my Daily Kos Elections colleague Steve Singiser, she's crazy ... like a fox. Every article about this debacle gives her another chance to talk about how much "Wall Street money" Murphy's supposedly taken. It still won't work, though.
• FL-Sen: The DSCC is reserving $3.2 million in TV airtime for the final month of the campaign, to help Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson (if he winds up needing it).
• MI-Sen: Clark Durant has struggled to gain traction in the GOP primary against ex-Rep. Pete Hoekstra, and with election day just a few weeks away, he's running out of time. But he's getting a late boost from two different quarters. First as an endorsement from the conservative third-party group FreedomWorks, though it remains to be seen if they'll spend anything on his behalf. However, another group, the mysterious Prosperity for Michigan (perhaps related to Americans for Prosperity?), is jumping in with some legit coin for TV ads, $400K in total (see here and here). It's a compare and contrast spot: Hoekstra voted to raise the debt ceiling, etc., while Durant will "stop Obamacare."
Durant also has a new ad of his own, hitting almost identical themes (Hoekstra loves earmarks, voted for TARP). Hoekstra, meanwhile, is still pretending like he doesn't have a primary fight on his hands—sort of. In his latest TV commercial, he says he "fought the powerful Teamsters union when they tried to take advantage of Michigan workers," then goes on to attack Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow over her support for the Affordable Care Act. But while he superficially has his eye on the general election, these sound a lot more like the kind of themes you'd hit if you were trying to win a Republican nomination.
• MO-Sen: Businessman John Brunner is out with two new ads. One responds to Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill's attempts to meddle in the GOP primary, saying it's proof that "they know I'll defeat Claire McCaskill." A bridge too far, but he's definitely right that Democrats would prefer to face Todd Akin rather than himself. Speaking of Akin, he's the target of Brunner's second spot, which goes after him for being an all-too-eager earmarker. Brunner's attack is more specific than the usual Republican hollering about pork barrel spending, though: He cites reports that one earmark in particular that Akin secured could directly benefit him financially (it's for a road in an area where Akin owns property). Not a bad hit.
Brunner's taking some lumps of his own, though. Sarah Steelman takes a whack at her fellow Republican in a new ad, slamming him over a news report in which Brunner apparently couldn't name a single federal program he'd like to cut. The second half is positive, with Steelman saying that as state treasurer, she "took on Wall Street bankers who were investing Missouri tax dollars with terrorists"! That somewhat over-heated claim is a reference to this effort to get pension funds to divest from companies which do business with countries like Iran, not guys buying Osama bin Laden futures.
Meanwhile, Steelman's getting some outside help from the Tea Party Express (via their "Our Country Deserves Better" PAC), in the form of $45K worth of TV ads. (The spot is not on the organization's YouTube account.) TPX, which was a rambunctious if griftery force last cycle, has spend very little this time around. A good sign of the group's wane: OCDB's own website is kaput!
• ND-Sen: Majority PAC came out with three new ads on Tuesday; this one slams GOP Rep. Rick Berg for his votes in favor of the Ryan budget which would "essentially end Medicare." The spot also gets in a dig at Berg for hiding behind his mom as a defense to these charges (as he did in this ad). Also, the American College of Radiology is spending $45K on web ads supporting Berg, though I can't really say why he holds any special appeal for them.
• OH-Sen: Hah, I totally love this new ad from Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, perhaps because of his enthusiasm more than anything else. Like a particularly patriotic salesman in an auto show-room, Brown takes us on a tour of the Chevy Cruze four-door sedan, pointing out each city in Ohio where key components are made. That's his hook for explaining: "I'm proud to have led the fight to pass the auto rescue package, helping to protect more than 800,000 Ohio jobs."
• TX-Sen: Now we're cooking with gas. With a week left to go before the Texas Senate GOP runoff, various third-party groups have ramped up their spending. Sen. Jim DeMint's new super PAC, "Senate Conservatives Action," is reportedly shelling out $500K on this frenetically-edited ad on behalf of Ted Cruz which invokes Ronald Reagan and "freedom." The Club for Growth is spending a similar amount, some $575K, to re-up their existing ads. And finally, the Tea Party Express is coughing up a tiny $60K to air this spot hitting the usual right-wing nostrums ("proven conservative," "repeal Obamacare").
In the pro-David Dewhurst camp, the Texas Conservatives Fund is launching this new ad which packs quite the punch. It hits the same theme as their prior spot, Cruz's representation (in a civil matter regarding who should pay damages stemming from the scandal) of the guy who bribed Pennsylvania judges to send kids to his for-profit juvenile detention facilities. This time, though, the mom of one of the victims says Cruz "should be ashamed of himself" and says her son committed suicide after his wrongful incarceration. This ad is backed by a pretty decent $815K buy—but just always bear in mind how big Texas is.
• VA-Sen: In an over-the-top spot for Republican George Allen, a melodramatic announcer invokes the specter of $500 billion in automatic defense cuts which may happen as a result of last year's debt ceiling agreement. "A storm is coming," warns the narrator, which could decimate Virginia jobs ... so vote George Allen!
Meanwhile, Majority PAC has a new ad out hitting Allen and fluffing Tim Kaine, and as with their spot from May, once again, it almost sounds like they're painting Kaine as the stereotypical Republican (look at all the spending he cut!) and Allen as the dastardly Democrat (why, he supported earmarks for "Alaskan berry research"!). I personally find these "cherry-pick stupid-sounding earmarks" ads to be extremely groany and I really have to wonder whether they resonate. After all, they were John McCain's stock-in-trade, and they got him bupkes in 2008. But if Majority PAC's polling says that this kind of shtick will win votes, then I guess we'll just have to live with it.
• WI-Sen: I think I like this new Majority PAC ad, their third of three, the best. It attacks the two Republican co-frontrunners, Eric Hovde and Tommy Thompson. In going after Hovde, the text on street signs from around the state all morph into the words "Wall St."; the announcer attacks him as a "D.C. fund manager whose invested millions in bailout-funded banks involved in fraudulent loans" and says he'll "be representing just one street." The same visual trick is used in the second half to ding Thompson as a lobbyist who "raked in millions on K Street." I guess this means Democrats are hoping they can meddle sufficiently in the GOP primary to get Mark Neumann nominated?
• MO-Gov: Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon is out with his first ad of his reelection campaign, a slow-moving minute-long spot. The first half is mostly biographical in nature (small-town roots, yay), while in the second part, he rather predictably talks about all his efforts at bipartisanship. If you've followed Nixon's career at all, these are exactly the kind of messages you'd expect.
• WA-Gov: Here's an unexpected but welcome development in the Washington gubernatorial race: the first independent public poll in over a year with a lead for Democratic ex-Rep. Jay Inslee. And not just a dinky lead, but a seven-point one: 43-36 over GOP AG Rob McKenna, courtesy of Elway Research. Click through for our full analysis at Daily Kos Elections.
Inslee is also out with a new ad, just a day after McKenna released his first. Interestingly, even though Inslee is of course running for state-level office, he touts his congressional votes against the bailout and against the Iraq war. And in the category of "odd job I once held to put myself through college" (a common campaign trope), Inslee says he drove a bulldozer! That's a new one on me. (David Jarman & David Nir)
• AZ-06: That new super PAC National Horizon, which just deployed an ad designed to prop up GOPer Matt Salmon in AZ-05, apparently also has a spot ready to go in AZ-06. The ad consists of outright mockery of another Republican, Rep. Ben Quayle, with a narrator calling him a "squire who believed he was a prince" as pages from a fairytale-style book flip across the screen. It mentions his alleged carpetbagging and his work for the notorious website Dirty Scottsdale.
• FL-16: That didn't take long: Democrat Keith Fitzgerald's campaign hopped into the field with a poll of their own, the very same day that GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan released an internal showing him up 54-32. Needless to say, Fitz's survey, from PPP, shows a very different picture, with ol' Vern leading by a much smaller 44-36 margin. As you'd expect, Fitzgerald is largely unknown, but his favorables are positive (22-11), while Buchanan struggles at the line of mediocrity (40-37). The memo also notes that Romney leads Obama 49-44 in this sample, which is actually two points redder than the 2008 results.
• GA-09: The air wars in Georgia's brand-new (and very red) 9th District are starting late—the GOP primary is next week—but boy is state Rep. Doug Collins unloading hard on radio host Martha Zoller in the first TV ad of the race. It helps when your opponent hosts a talk radio show and has years of public comments to draw from; it helps even more when she's said things like "Ronald Reagan was the problem with America" and Barack Obama "is a great guy." Zoller has almost no cash-on-hand, so unless she made a previous reservation, she may not be able to get on the air in response. Sort of ironic, given her professional background.
P.S. A group called Georgia Freedom PAC is also spending $12K on radio ads on behalf of Collins.
• HI-02: EMILY's List is running an ad on behalf of Honolulu city councilor Tulsi Gabbard, which emphasizes her military service. The buy is for $129K. And VoteVets, a group which previously ran what appeared to be a successful spot for Gabbard, is tossing in $32K on mailers. The University of Hawaii faculty union is also getting involved in this race (see HI-Sen item above). They're spending $14K on radio ads for former Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann.
• IA-04: House Majority PAC is out with a new ad in Iowa's 4th Congressional District, where former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack is attempting to unseat GOP Rep. Steve King. The spot features a teacher who praises Vilsack for "working with Republicans and Democrats" to secure education funding.
• MN-08: In Tarryl Clark's fourth TV spot, one theme she hits is very common to a lot of Democratic advertising: corporations which "ship jobs overseas." (She's against it!)
• NY-01: Here's another new House poll, from Garin-Hart-Yang, courtesy the pro-Democratic House Majority PAC. They find Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop bashing Randy Altschuler (the man he ultra-narrowly defeated in 2010) by a 56-32 margin. (The survey also has Obama up 49-44 over Romney; according to our calculations, Obama won the slightly redrawn 1st CD 51-48.) These topline numbers are fairly similar to a Bishop internal released in April that had the incumbent in front 53-36. Altschuler never put out contradictory results.
• OH-16: You might remember the story from a few months ago about sketchy donations to Republican Rep. Jim Renacci (who's in one of the nation's tightest House races, in a redistricting-forced rumble with Democratic Rep. Betty Sutton); he's been under fire for not returning $100K in donations that had all the appearances of all originating from Canton-area direct-marketing businessman Benjamin Suarez yet seem to have been funneled through various of his employees, none of whom had any previous history of making max-out contributions.
Renacci had previously said that he would wait on the outcome of an FEC probe before returning the funds, but apparently the issue has started weighing on him, as he reversed course and gave up the money. True to form, Renacci tried to shift the blame for the damage done by the shady contributions to his Democratic opponent:
Toward the end of his seven-paragraph missive, which accused Sutton of "gutter politics," Renacci wrote that he gave back the money sooner than planned to "take that tool from your hands" and deprive her of a campaign issue.(David Jarman)
"Your time [has] run out, the excuses are all gone, and you owe it to the people of this district to finally run on your record and the issues facing our community," Renacci wrote in the letter, which his aides distributed as a news release.
• TN-06: I'm guessing tea partier Lou Ann Zelenik must have a fairy godmother: Just days after a mysterious super PAC spent $45K on TV ads going after her GOP primary opponent, Rep. Diane Black, another group—with the doofy name of "Citizens 4 Ethics in Government"—is also chipping in. C4EG is forking out about $140K (see here and here). This organization, by the way, is run by Zelenik's former fundraising chair, so Black's camp is predictably fuming about illegal coordination.
But Black isn't without some help of her own: The Radiologists are spending $50K on, well, radio ads on her behalf.
• TX-23: If the LCV is planning to make a big, last-minute splash, time is running out. The group just threw down another $18K (this time on robocalls dinging ex-Rep. Ciro Rodriguez), but the Democratic runoff is just a week away, and so far, the League has not spent nearly as much to help state Rep. Pete Gallego as it did before the primary.
• WA-01: Laura Ruderman's mom's Super PAC, Progress for Washington, keeps chugging away, with another $21K in mailers. This time, it appears as though they might be positive flyers touting Ruderman in the Democratic primary. Can you imagine? "My daughter would make the best member of Congress in the whole wide world!"
• WI-02: The negativity in the Democratic primary to succeed Rep. Tammy Baldwin has just spilled over on to the airwaves. Kelda Roys's new spot accuses fellow state Rep. Mark Pocan of having "caved in and voted with Scott Walker to throw millions of dollars in tax giveaways to big corporations." Roys explains the votes she's referring to here; Pocan, of course, has hotly disputed her characterizations. However, it remains to be seen whether he'll respond in kind on the airwaves. (Incidentally, he did release a second ad last week, touting his work to pass a bill called the Compassionate Care for Rape Victims Act.)
• VA-AG: We've got our first official Democratic contender in 2013's state attorney general race in Virginia (a position which can be an important stepping stone to governor there). It's state Sen. Mark Herring from Loudon County (though the recently-defeated former state House minority leader Wade Armstrong is also scoping out the race). One GOPer, Del. Robert Bell (whose name you might remember from the early shortlist of 2010 VA-05 contenders) is already in. (David Jarman)
• WI-St. Sen: This is a developing story that is a real "WTF?" moment in the tumultuous world of Wisconsin politics. State Sen. Tim Cullen, in his second tour of duty in the chamber, has bolted the Democratic caucus. Cullen's decision seems to have originated in his pique over not being offered a plum committee chairmanship (apparently, the small business and tourism committee wasn't good enough for him).
However, and this is important: Cullen also said he has not yet decided to quit the party altogether, and added that for purposes of assessing who is in the majority, he should still count as a Democrat. That second pronouncement, if it stands, means Cullen would not imperil Team Blue's newly won control over the chamber.
Cullen has a bit of past as it relates to his own caucus: He pooh-poohed partisanship when he elected not to run for governor in February, and penned a paean to post-partisanship in an op-ed piece just two weeks ago. Of course, as commenter Gpack3 notes: "Cullen is in a very blue district and is eligible for recall...." Just sayin'! (Steve Singiser & David Nir)
• Iowa: PPP's new batch of Iowa miscellany, like the rest of the poll, doesn't exactly contain great news for Democrats. Sen. Tom Harkin (who is up for re-election in 2014) has seen his approval has slip from 45-39 to 42-41. Of more immediate concern, Republicans have now taken the lead on the generic legislative ballot, 44-42; back in May, Democrats were on top 44-39.