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Leading Off:

Chamber of Commerce: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce continues its broad-spectrum assault on Democratic Senate candidates, with huge new ad purchases targeting eight different races. Two non-Dems, actually, are swept up in the carnage: Missouri Republican Sarah Steelman—whom they compare to Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill; I presume the Chamber would prefer businessman John Brunner—and Maine independent Angus King. Below are links to each ad, many of which hit Obamacare-related themes, along with the approximate size of the buy where available (note that production costs are included). The grand total is just shy of $6 million:

FL-Sen (Bill Nelson, $1.7 million) | ME-Sen (Angus King, $400K)

MO-Sen (McCaskill/Steelman, $600K) | MT-Sen (Jon Tester, $257K)

NM-Sen (Martin Heinrich, $250K) | OH-Sen (Sherrod Brown, $914K)

VA-Sen (Tim Kaine, $1 million) | WI-Sen (Tammy Baldwin, $846K)


AZ-Sen: Republican robopollster Magellan finds Rep. Jeff Flake leading businessman Will Cardon 45-23 among likely GOP primary voters, with just a few weeks to go before judgment day. That doesn't sound so promising for Cardon, and if it's accurate, time has almost run out for him, but it's a lot better than what Magellan saw the last time they surveyed the race (all the way back in November), when they had Flake up 52-4.

CT-Sen: Hmmm... publicly saying that your campaign is dead in the water is usually a prelude to your donors ignoring you even more, but the exact opposite seems to have happened to Chris Shays. He claims that after he said a few weeks ago that he didn't have enough money to run TV spots, the money from supporters started flowing in, enough so that he's actually produced a 30-second ad and is paying to run it on Fox News for the weeks leading up to the GOP primary. (The ad itself is a remarkably unmemorable intro spot based around a testimonial from his wife.) (David Jarman)

HI-Sen (PDF): Apparently "Lingle On Demand" is a ratings disaster reminiscent of the immortal "Emily's Reasons Why Not." I'd say we have dueling polls, but rather than dueling, the new DSCC and Honolulu Star-Advertiser numbers are ebony and ivory in perfect harmony: both show Democratic Rep. Mazie Hirono crushing former Republican Gov. Linda Lingle by 19 points, 52-33. Indeed, the DS poll (conducted by the Mellman Group) has Lingle actually bleeding four points of support since their last survey. Perhaps most damning, Hirono performs better among Republicans than Lingle among Democrats.

Lest you contest the DS' partisan numbers, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser provides backup (via Ward Research). They show Hirono smashing Lingle 58-39, and also offer primary numbers; Hirono is far ahead of "Democrat" Ed Case as well, 55-37. Lest Case somehow emerge from the primary, the poll says he, too, would destroy Lingle, 56-38.

Late-night is not for everyone, Gov. Lingle.

P.S. Hirono just came out with a new ad touting her commitment to education, saying that when she first came to America, she "didn't read or write English." I think Hirono's personal story is so compelling that I wish it were the subject of the full ad. (Arjun Jaikumar & David Nir)

MA-Sen: Bloombo Alert! (Does His Bloominess merit "alert" status? Maybe a yellow alert or lime-green alert?) Anyway, Mike Bloomberg is, of course, endorsing Scott Brown, which has everyone all atwitter about the super-dreamy independent bipartisany significance of this move. I wonder if it isn't more damning that Scott Brown has a New York billionaire, whose computer system bearing his name is displayed on every desk on Wall Street, raising money for him. Seems to play right into Warren's wheelhouse. (Arjun Jaikumar)

MI-Sen, -Gov: A year ago, when Pete Hoekstra first got into the Senate race, the Josh Kraushaars of the world immediately got the vapors about how this was a BIG GET for the GOP. Here we are three months and change before election day, and the Incredible Hoek is still getting smashed. Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow leads Hoekstra 52-38 in PPP's latest, and she sports an even healthier lead over Republican Clark Durant, 51-34. This is not because Stabenow is particularly formidable—she has approvals of 44/41—but rather because Hoekstra, well, sucks, with underwater favorables of 28/37.

One group of people does appear to like Hoekstra: Republicans. In the primary, the Incredible One is cruising, 51-17 over Durant and a couple Some Dudes.

The news ain't all bad for the GOP: Republican Gov. Rick "Michigan" Snyder has rehabilitated himself to some degree, his approvals jumping to 42/44 from an abysmal 37/52 in May. Snyder also leads a generic Democrat in a hypothetical reelection bid, although it's doubtful his 42-40 edge over Generic D is going to scare any serious Non-Generic Ds out of the race. Still, Snyder's in OK shape now, where he looked like a dead duck a couple months back, and he's got two years before he faces the voters again. (Arjun Jaikumar)

MO-Sen: Now or Never, a super PAC which exists entirely for the purpose of helping Sarah Steelman win the GOP nomination, is spending $218K to attack John Brunner. They have a little-used Twitter account and a barren Facebook page, so I'm not seeing a copy of the actual TV ad anywhere.

ND-, NV-, NM-Sen: Crossroads GPS, the worst charity in the world™, is out with a trio of new negative ads going after Democratic Senate hopefuls. Forgive me, but I just watched eight Chamber of Commerce attack ads in a row, so I'm gonna prevail on you to click through to The Hotline's story and browse the links yourself. They also have details on the reported size of the buy in each case.

ND-, VA-, WI-Sen: On Tuesday, the Dem-aligned Majority PAC came out with three new Senate race ads, and now we know how big the buy was in each case. North Dakota: $67K; Virginia: $466K; and Wisconsin, $174K.

NJ-Sen (PDF): If you asked the horserace junkie hive-mind to design numbers for a hypothetical New Jersey poll, you'd probably come up with something like this. You'd have Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez up by a healthy, but not insurmountable margin. It being New Jersey, though, you'd want a high number of undecideds, giving the GOP false hope that they can steal one here even though everyone knows they really can't. So let's say 42-32 among registered voters.

You'd note that Menendez is still not that well-known statewide even six years into his Senate career—give him favorables of 36-20, say. Of course, no one knows his opponent, Republican state Sen. Joe Kyrillos. You'd figure Barack Obama is doing fine here, and that New Jersey voters don't like Mitt Romney any more than the rest of the nation does; you'd expect Obama to have a double-digit lead and be close to 50%, if not over. Say he's up 51-38.

In other words, everything in Monmouth University's latest poll is exactly what you'd expect, with the possible exception of particularly strong favorables (52-33) for GOP Gov. Chris Christie. Note that Monmouth also employed a likely-voter screen; its effect on the Senate race is minimal (Menendez would lead 44-35) but more pronounced in the Presidential (Obama's lead drops to 50-42). (Arjun Jaikumar)

NM-Sen: The NRDC is spending another $39K on anti-Heather Wilson mailers, doubling their outlay.

NV-Sen: The LCV is out with an "issue ad" attacking GOP Sen. Dean Heller for voting "nine times to give tax breaks to billion dollar oil companies" while supposedly accepting $200K in campaign contributions from the industry. The spot uses a pretty good visual, showing a pair of hands in the "Senate Washroom" under a tap; the water turns into oil as it runs over these mitts-without-a-face.

PA-Sen, -AG, -Gov: PPP's latest hodgepodge of polling information is out. Apparently Pennsylvania's ongoing Senate race is dull enough that it's relegated to PPP's weekly remainders pile rather than getting its own post.

Actually, Democratic Sen. Bob Casey's numbers aren't especially strong in this poll. He leads moneybags GOPer (and leading candidate for "Most Generic Name Ever") Tom Smith 46-36. That's pretty good, but it's down from a more commanding 49-33 advantage in PPP's last outing. Casey's approvals are middling, though that is largely due to mediocre support from his own party. He's still a strong favorite, but this one has the potential to be at least interesting given Smith's personal financial resources.

Meanwhile, Smith is out with his first general election ad, a mostly positive spot that starts with a dig at Casey over unemployment, then goes on to talk about Smith's record as a "job creator." The only really interesting note is that Smith describes himself as a one-time "union coal miner"—not too many Republican office-seekers have positive things to say about labor unions. (Smith later went on to found his own coal company.)

Casey's in terrific shape, however, compared to most Pennsylvania Republicans. His Senate seatmate Pat Toomey enjoys similarly mediocre approvals, and he's the lucky one. Democrats enjoy advantages in the generic Congressional ballot (47-44), as well as in this fall's races for AG (41-34), Treasurer (37-33) and Auditor General (36-34). Should Democrat Kathleen Kane indeed prevail over David Freed in her bid for attorney general, she shall be the first Democrat ever elected to the office. Finally, GOP Gov. Tom Corbett's numbers are in the toilet; his job approvals are 32/49, and he trails a generic Democratic opponent 45-39. Lucky for him, his reelection bid won't be until 2014, but Corbett has his work cut out for him. (Arjun Jaikumar)

TX-Sen: The Texas Conservatives Fund is spending another $500K (has to be on TV, for sums that large) to stop Ted Cruz in Tuesday's GOP runoff.


NC-Gov (PDF): I don't quite get why the North Carolina-based conservative think-tank Civitas keeps bouncing back and forth between two pollsters, the non-partisan SurveyUSA and the Republican firm National Research. I guess it's not too surprising that the GOP outfit keeps showing wider leads for Republican Pat McCrory: The latest Civitas/Nat'l Research poll once again has him up 10 over Walter Dalton, 47-37, unchanged from the 48-38 they had in May. But in between those two polls, SUSA conducted one for Civitas that put McCrory up just 46-44 over Dalton, and in an earlier May poll (for a different client), SUSA had it a five-point race. PPP's been splitting the difference, with McCrory up seven the last two times it went into the field.

NJ-Gov: With a little over a year to go until his first re-election campaign, some non-profit called the Committee for Our Children's Future is supposed spending $1.2 million on TV ads fluffing GOP Gov. Chris Christie as a "bipartisan reformer." The spot uses the word "bipartisan" so many times it's induced semantic satiation in me. Politico sez: "The new round of buys will bring the group's total ad spending to over $6 million in the last 11 months."


AZ-02: State Rep. Matt Heinz, who faces an uphill battle as he tries to unseat Rep. Ron Barber in the Democratic primary, is out with his first ad. The spot recounts Heinz's efforts to help a make sure a woman with breast cancer received proper treatment, and his work to pass a law to guarantee access to treatment for women with breast or cervical cancer. It's a good story, but the ad has weak production values, and the narrator sounds very much like Heinz himself, so it's a bit disconcerting when he refers to Heinz in the third person.

AZ-06: The freshman-on-freshman Republican primary in the 6th has turned into yet another establishment-vs.-institutional-tea-party battle, though, oddly enough, most aggregators place establishment pick Ben Quayle a smidge to the right of FreedomWorks' pony, David Schweikert. If you'd expect Schweikert (who's new to Congress, but a veteran of county-level government) to have an edge over Quayle, who barely won the AZ-03 primary in 2010 and doesn't seem to have much to offer but a famous name... well, you'd be right. The first poll we've seen of the race, a new internal from Schweikert's campaign by National Research, gives him a 49-33 lead over Quayle. (David Jarman)

CA-30: As the Berman-Sherman freight trains barrel toward each other, Dem Rep. Brad (Sherman) has a new internal poll out from the Feldman Group showing him leading fellow Dem Rep. Howard (Berman), 46-29. Oddly, 5% of respondents say "other"—even though there won't be any alternate options on the November ballot, thanks to California's new "top-two" primary—and 21% are undecided. If these numbers are right (and I'm inclined to more-or-less believe them), then I really have to wonder how Berman will make up the gap. Sherman has over six times the cash ($3 mil vs. less than $500K), and the super PAC that "helped" Berman before the primary has put out the most comically crummy ads ever. (Seriously: I guest-lectured about campaign ads for a college class earlier this month and played this spot; in disbelief, one student asked, "Is that really a real ad?")

CT-05: From Mark Pazniokas at the Connecticut Mirror:

The former manager of House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan's congressional campaign was among seven people charged in a federal indictment unsealed Thursday in connection with the continuing investigation of Donovan's campaign fundraising.

Joshua Nassi, the manager whom Donovan fired after the FBI investigation became public in May, was charged with federal crimes related to what federal authorities say was a conspiracy to hide the identity of donors who wanted Donovan to influence tobacco legislation.

Those also charged in the indictment include: a detective in the Waterbury Police Department with a financial interest in a smoke shop; two others connected smoke shops; a Watertown businessman; and a former president of an AFSCME local that represented correction officers. Also named as conspirator was Robert Braddock Jr., the former Donovan fundraiser who was previously indicted.

Obviously this isn't good news for Donovan. But it seems pretty predictable that other shoes would drop, if only because the original charges described a conspiracy, and you clearly can't have a conspiracy of just one dude. But it's important to keep this in mind:
The indictment leaves Donovan's status unchanged: Three weeks before the Democratic primary, he is neither accused of wrongdoing or of having knowledge of wrongdoing, nor has he been assured he is not a potential target of the investigation.
Some transcripts cited in the indictments involve arrestees mentioning Donovan in passing, but there's still no one who's said he had anything to do with the alleged scheme. Pazniokas has more details about what these indictments contain at the link above.

Meanwhile, Public relations exec Dan Roberti, the young third wheel in the Democratic primary, is getting some outside help from a new super PAC called New Directions for America. Roberti's father, Vincent Roberti, is a wealthy, well-connected lobbyist, and the Hartford Courant notes that some of the group's donors "have connections" to pops. The details are at the link, as is the ad, which starts off dinging Donovan over the campaign contribution investigation, but mostly goes after Elizabeth Esty because she "opposed the Democratic budget, supported cuts in education and healthcare, while protecting tax breaks for millionaires" during her time in the legislature. Size of the buy: $132K.

FL-06: GOP Rep. John Mica's decision to seek re-election in the neighboring 7th left a red open seat in the 6th and, consequently, induced a multi-way Republican primary. We haven't heard a whole lot of news out of this St. Augustine/Daytona Beach-area seat, but with the August 14 primary now just a few weeks away, we're starting to see a little motion. A new super PAC called Coastal Florida's Future is spending $32K on radio ads to help Jacksonville city councilman Richard Clark.

FL-07: One other redistricting-forced Republican member-vs.-member primary where the endorsements follow a pretty clear establishment/tea-party dynamic is the race in the 7th in Orlando's suburbs, between ancient veteran John Mica and freshman Sandy Adams. Adams had already been dubbed a Mama Grizzly by Sarah Palin, and now just also got the backing of fellow loudmouth Allen West, while Mica earned the support of Mike Huckabee. (David Jarman)

FL-13: So I guess the D-Trip does indeed have a bunch of autodialers whirring away in the basement, and they're working overtime. They've put out another "DCCC IVR" poll, this time showing cretaceous-era GOP Rep. Bill Young leading Democrat Jessica Ehrlich by "only" a 49-35 margin. (At least the sample size is a little bigger than their CA-47 survey, 308.) Obviously the point here is to show that Young is under 50%, for whatever that's worth. The big problem for Ehrlich, a former congressional staffer, is that she's raised very little: just $86K in the last quarter. That was actually more than Young, though, believe it or not, and he only has $325K cash-on-hand. But even in a swingy district like this one, it's going to take a lot more than that to beat an institution like Young.

IL-10: Well, the NEA and IEA deserve everything they get after making this move: The National Education Association and their state-level affiliate, the Illinois Education Association, just endorsed GOP freshman Bob Dold. If these two teachers unions want to con themselves into thinking that a Republican-run House is in their best interests, then I just have nothing to say.

MI-11, MI-Sen: Rand Paul offered up a two-fer in underdog endorsements in the Wolverine State on Thursday. He backed Kerry Bentivolio—who's pretty openly a Paulist—in the Republican primary in the 11th, and Clark Durant—who's not really linked with the Paul camp, but is probably the most tea-flavored member of the field—in the Republican Senate primary. (David Jarman)

MI-14: A new poll from Foster McCollum White and Baydoun Consulting for Fox 2 News Detroit gives Rep. Gary Peters a commanding lead 45-27 lead over Rep. Hansen Clarke in the Democratic primary, with Southfield mayor Brenda Lawrence at just 10. However, the polling memo breaks down numbers to the hundredths of a percent (a ridiculous attempt at false precision that's a pet peeve of mine), and there's also a lot of demographic weirdness. For one, two-thirds of the respondents were female. For another, only 15% were below the age of 50. So while I could easily believe the toplines (Peters has run a vigorous campaign while Clarke's been much more sedate), take the whole poll with an appropriate helping of salt.

And to see what I'm talking about with regard to Clarke's campaign, he's skipping all candidate forums (and has been doing so for a while)—a rather stunning decision for someone who from all appearances is an underdog in the race. Remarkably, he claimed that these events "are only set up to inflame racist rhetoric." Clarke, undoubtedly in response to the negative press he'd received, then made a surprise appearance at the site of a Thursday night debate, but was turned away by the moderators because he previously RSVP'd in the negative. Sounds like a pretty bush-league campaign operation to me.

ND-AL: This bit of loveliness comes courtesy of the local blog North Decoder, which recently busted GOP House nominee Kevin Cramer's communications director for RT'ing a racist tweet:

Kate Bommarito RT of tweet which reads 'I wonder if Einstein had Barack Obama in mind when he coined the term 'Black Hole?' (Assuming he coined it, I really have no idea)'
As you can see, Kate Bommarito passed along this tweet from conservative writer Joe Herring to her own Twitter feed... which now appears to be deleted in its entirety. Bommarito herself, however, still appears to be with Cramer's campaign.

TN-03: Citizens for a Working America, Inc.—a non-profit that's not to be confused with Citizens for a Working America PAC—is spending a sizable $165K on TV ads designed to kneecap dairy magnate Scottie Mayfield, one of two candidates trying to unseat Rep. Chuck Fleischman in the GOP primary. It's a lacerating spot which says that Mayfield is "good ice cream—mmhmm!" but as the on-screen cone melts, Mayfield gets blasted with his own words, admitting he "doesn't have any specifics" about what he'd like to accomplish. I'm not sure who's side they're on, but James Harrison at reminds us that the footage used here was originally posted to YouTube by the sister of Weston Wamp, the third wheel in this race. Of course, it was free for anyone to use....

Meanwhile, Mayfield is up with a negative ad of his own, making him the first candidate to go that route (and earning him some blowback, because he'd previously promised to stay positive). The spot hammers Fleischman for voting "one out of four times with Obama," according to a new CQ study, "the highest of any Tennessee Republican in the House." Also making an appearance is a bullshit (of course) use of Obama's "you didn't build that" line. A long campaign season just got a lot longer.

TX-23: When naming your new super PAC, you get to throw out all the usual rules of grammar and syntax, so say hello to the awkwardly-named Texas America 21st Century PAC. I don't know who they are (good luck Googling), but at least is on the side of the good guys. They're spending $27K on radio ads to help Pete Gallego in Tuesday's Democratic runoff against Ciro Rodriguez.

TX-36: Citizens United is spending $21K on radio ads for ex-Rep. Steve Stockman, who faces financial advisor Stephen Takach in next week's GOP runoff.

WA-01: Reporter Joel Connelly likes to call the super PAC Progress for Washington "MamaPAC," since of course it's run by Dem candidate Laura Ruderman's mother. And they keep spending and spending, this time with another $38K on mailers. All told (including a TV buy and production costs), MamaPAC has shelled out $277K on the race.

Other Races:

MI-Init: PPP also has numbers on several important ballot measures that may go before Michigan voters this November. Tom Jensen sums it up:

• Voters are nearly evenly divided on Snyder himself and they're also nearly evenly divided on one of his main goals at the moment, a second bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor. 41% of voters support it with 42% opposed. Independents support the bridge 44/34, Republicans are evenly divided on it at 42%, and Democrats oppose it 36/52. [...]

• Democrats will like the 44/34 support for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to collective bargaining, and the 50/30 support for an initiative mandating that 25% of Michigan's electricity come from renewable sources by 2025.

• Republicans will like the 40/33 support for an initiative requiring either a statewide vote or 2/3rds support in the legislature for any increase in state taxes and the 41/31 support for keeping the state's emergency managers law, which was initially very unpopular.

Democrats also still lead on the generic legislative ballot, 45-37, but that's down noticeably from an outsize 50-35 edge in May.

WI Recall: Is this the last word on the total cost of the Wisconsin recalls? It sure sounds like the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign has put together the most comprehensive analysis to date, gathering in data and estimates from just about every source out there. The final tab for all the recalls—governor, lieutenant governor, and state senate, in both 2011 and 2012—was $138 million, with about $85 mil spent by Republicans and $53 mil spent by Democrats. Far more detailed breakdowns are available at the link.

Grab Bag:

Dark Money: CPA is DOA? No, not quite, but close to it: The Campaign for Primary Accountability—the mysterious super PAC that targeted incumbents of both parties with little regard for ideology or policy, and that succeeded in claiming a few scalps (including Silvestre Reyes and Jean Schmidt)—admitted that they're basically done for the year. They told Politico that their contributions have dried up (down to $71K in June, compared with $640K in March), meaning that they don't have the resources to play in the last few primary races that they'd been interested in, like the ones involving John Conyers and John Mica.

At the other end of the dark money spectrum is Karl Rove's American Crossroads, which continues to rake in millions per month. Bloomberg came out on Thursday with a lengthy profile of the organization, which doesn't break any new news but provides a lot of interesting color. And if you still aren't familiar with the differences among the various flavors of dark money groups—527s vs. 501(c)(4)s, and what they can and can't do—it's a helpful starting point for that. (David Jarman)

Polltopia: It's that time of year where Public Policy Polling is about to switch over to a "likely voter" model, and transparent as they are, they take the time to explain what that'll mean. The change shouldn't be very abrupt: They'll still be drawing on the same lists of people who voted in 2006, 2008, or 2010, but changing the intro from "If you're not a registered voter, hang up now" to "If you don't plan to vote in the Presidential election, hang up now." They've also apparently hired a bunch more phone-dialing robots, as they're planning a stepped-up release schedule for the closing months. Click through for all the details. (David Jarman)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Fri Jul 27, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Hirono for Senate and Daily Kos.

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