• MO-Sen: Whoa. Have you seen this new Todd Akin ad yet? It's like he had a serious attack of aphasia. The transcript in case you can't watch (and honestly, your brain might melt if you do):
America was founded on the unique vision that our creator gave us life, the foundation of freedom, liberty, to speak as you choose and own what you earn, and the pursuit of happiness, the call to fully and courageously live the dream God puts in our hearts. Times of crisis, when the dream seemed lost, great patriots turned to God, gave their all and rekindled freedom's flame. This now is our duty and our time.You'll miss Akin's crazy melodramatic delivery (complete with weird emphases and strange cadences) if you don't click through, though. Easily an instant contender for craziest campaign ad of the year.
• AR-Sen: Super-popular Dem Gov. Mike Beebe will be term-limited out in 2014, but it looks like that will be the end of the line for him altogether. Beebe, who is 65 and has held political office for decades, says he does not intend to run again once he leaves the governor's mansion. Of course, never say never, but Democrats hoping that Beebe might run when freshman Sen. John Boozman wages his first re-election fight in 2016 are likely to wind up disappointed. (There have also been strange rumors that Dem Sen. Mark Pryor might not be interested in running again in 2014, so it's conceivable we may need a replacement candidate for that race as well.) By the way, speaking of Boozman, I feel like this is the first time I've mentioned his name since election night 2010. Pretty invisible, even for a first-termer, huh?
• AZ-Sen: So here's that new ad attacking businessman Wil Cardon from the super PAC Liberty for All, the one backed buy a $375K buy which we first mentioned last week. It certainly sounds like a spot dreamed up at a College Libertarian bull session. They've got some Big Brother-related paranoia: The narrator says Cardon "supports putting transponders in cars so drivers can be taxed for every mile they drive." And they're also convinced that everyone's already read their various manifestos on the issue: "Sound like the Obama administration plan to tax cars by the mile?" Uh, sounds like what now? You've lost me.
• MI-Sen: Is Dem Sen. Debbie Stabenow feeling pretty confident in her re-election campaign? It sure looks that way, because she just took time out to head all the way out to North Dakota to help fellow Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, who is running in one of the most competitive contests this cycle. As Charlie Mahtesian says, this isn't the kind of thing a candidate usually does if she's worried about her own race. As for what this signals for Heitkamp, well, I think it's pretty evident at this point that ND-Sen can no longer be considered a "sleeper"—it's very much for real.
• MO-Sen: Ahh! Ahh! Please take Sarah Palin out of my computer! Seriously, I watch a lot of ads so that you don't have to, but I just could not, NOT make it more than 12 seconds into this new spot Palin cut on behalf of a fellow Sarah (Steelman). I think I need a shot and a beer to settle my nerves.
While we're on the Steelman front (sigh), the super PAC backing her play (Now or Never PAC) is out with three new ads. One seriously frenetic spot attacks John Brunner for not paying his taxes and then calls him a "wimpy Yorkie for Obamacare"! The second also goes after Brunner and sounds like it could have been produced by Priorities USA, basically branding him a vulture capitalist. The final ad is a compare-and-contrast spot which features some good Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots footage standing in for Brunner and Todd Akin, while Steelman is of course praised as the lone "true conservative" in the race. All told, the group's spent almost $400K.
In other news, it's been a while since Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill has seen any good polling, and the latest from Mason-Dixon (on behalf of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is pretty darn rough. They show her trailing businessman Brunner 52-41, Steelman 49-41, and Akin 49-44. That last pairing, though, seems to serve as confirmation that Akin is definitely the opponent McCaskill would most like to face in November.
• NE-Sen: The Hill's Cameron Joseph reports that the new super PAC (called End the Gridlock) which unexpectedly showed up with a $300K ad buy to help Democrat Bob Kerrey is being backed in part by Majority PAC, though to what extent is not yet clear. Majority PAC is sort of the official-unofficial super PAC of the DSCC and has become probably the chief outside spender on behalf of Democrats in Senate races this year.
• NM-Sen: Politico reports that the DSCC is going up with a $150K ad buy on behalf of Dem Rep. Martin Heinrich in New Mexico, though the spot ("likely to drive up Republican Heather Wilson’s negatives") doesn't appear to be available yet.
• NV-Sen: Dem Rep. Shelley Berkley has three new ads hitting back the faux-scandal that commenter atdnext has dubbed "kidney-gate"; you can find them all at the link. Two of them feature kidney patients who praise Berkley's efforts to keep Nevada's only kidney transplant center open. The third tries to frame the attacks on Berkley as an attack on Medicare, which she then turns into an attack on GOP Sen. Dean Heller, who twice voted to end Medicare by supporting the Ryan budget.
• OH-Sen (PDF): A new survey from GOP pollster Magellan that was conducted about a week ago (for conservative think-tank Opportunity Ohio) and seems to have escaped widespread notice has Dem Sen. Sherrod Brown up 45-38 over Republican Josh Mandel. It's pretty remarkable how consistently Brown has remained on top since this race was in short pants, even though no Democratic senator anywhere in the country has borne the brunt of as many outside attack ads as he has.
• TX-Sen: PPP's final-weekend poll of the Texas GOP Senate runoff is once again good news for former state solicitor general Ted Cruz, who leads Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst 52-42, up from 49-44 two weeks ago. Dewhurst tried to pre-empt this news by releasing his own internal (from Baselice & Associates) a little earlier on Sunday night that had him up 48-43. But pro-Dewhurst polling from before the primary was overly optimistic, and PPP's pre-primary poll actually over-stated Dewhurst's support slightly and underestimated Cruz's. Of course, a mid-summer runoff is among the most difficult sort of elections to predict, but the late enthusiasm appears to be all on Cruz's side.
Meanwhile, the Club for Growth is taking a premature victory lap (or at least, positioning themselves for the lion's share of the credit) in the TX-Sen runoff as Cruz's biggest backers. However, I'm linking to their memo (PDF), self-serving as it is, because they've actually done an interesting job laying out exactly who spent what and where. For those of you who like to get into the real nitty-gritty of TV ad spending, be sure to scroll down to the charts at the end of the document.
While we're on the topic, one third-party group decided to make an absolute last-minute buy in Texas: The pro-Dewhurst Texas Conservatives Fund dropped in an additional $325K on advertising on Sunday. Seems like a bit late to help Mountain Dew, though.
• WI-Sen: Oh man. This is easily the most hilarious poll of the cycle from the Rasmussen Comedy Club. They now have Dem Tammy Baldwin leading Tommy Thompson by a 48-41 spread... after seeing Thompson absolutely obliterate her 52-36 just last month! The droll writer who pens these epic jokes deadpans: "Baldwin was in a much weaker position in mid-June." Hahahahahah! Good one!
In real Wisconsin Senate race news, Baldwin is out with an ad that hits a very similar theme to this Chris Murphy spot, Dem Rep. Tammy Baldwin talks about how she "led the fight to require the Coast Guard to buy their engines from us, not foreign companies."
• CA-24: Dem Rep. Lois Capps is out with two new ads (here and here), both pretty unmemorable. The first is a very cookie-cutterish spot about "trust." The second, about her commitment to women's reproductive rights and equal pay, features women who randomly turn to face the camera, almost as though they weren't expecting to be filmed.
• CA-52: Back when the DCCC first started rolling out big TV ad reservations, folks noticed that the San Diego area seemed to have gotten left off. The explanation, though, seemed simple: Democrat Scott Peters is very wealthy and can probably self-fund his challenge to GOP Rep. Brian Bilbray. But evidently the D-Trip is leaving nothing to chance, since they've now gone ahead and reserved $1.65 million in fall television time for this race.
• CT-05: What a strange development. If you've been following the CT-05 Democratic primary closely, you know that EMILY's List announced plans a little while back to send negative mailers attacking state House Speaker Chris Donovan as some kind of "tax raiser," in an effort to boost the candidacy of ex-state Rep. Elizabeth Esty. Because of Donovan's progressive reputation and record—one of his signature budgets raised taxes on millionaires, a move Esty opposed—EMILY's decision earned some furious pushback (including from me). So now, spokeswoman Jess McIntosh is making this odd claim:
"No mail has been sent, and no Republican talking points have been used, so it's unclear what this group is criticizing."Has the pressure been so fierce that EMILY simply decided to back down? I mean, they put out a freakin' press release saying they planned to send out these flyers. What's more, Jen Bluestein, their communications director, sent me the following via email last week:
I saw your piece in the round-up, and just wanted to check in about the mail in CT-05. It actually does not refer to the 2009 budget; it refers to the 2011 budget....So some kind of mailer must exist—at least in PDF form—since Bluestein was trying to issue some sort of clarification about what it contained. In response, of course, I asked to see a copy of the mailer, but Bluestein never wrote back. (And in any event, their argument was still garbage.) So what's going on here? It's a real mystery.
Meanwhile, p.r. exec Dan Roberti is out with a new ad that goes after Donovan for allegedly doing the bidding of big donors, as a man with a briefcase trailing smoke meant to be Donovan proceeds through a variety of scenes. ("House Speaker Chris Donovan took money from a fight promoter, then greenlighted Ultimate Fighting.") Roberti then tries to link this with the current scandal that led to the arrests of several Donovan staffers, in which authorities allege that the suspects tried to collect illegal donations to help kill a "roll-your-own" tobacco bill. (Donovan's denied any knowledge and no evidence has contradicted that.) In the last few seconds, Roberti also crams in a similar attack on Esty, saying she "took money from polluters her husband regulates."
• FL-09: Democrat Alan Grayson is trying to damage Osceola County Commissioner John Quinones in the Republican primary, running a radio ad (reportedly backed by a $30K buy) that accuses Quinones of favoring higher taxes. Quinones is definitely the GOP's favored candidate, and Grayson is already back to his typical controversial tactics: His ad is deliberately designed to sound like a news report, though you wouldn't know it unless you listened to the very end and heard his approval message. That bit itself is a bit odd, since Grayson takes the time to randomly say, "I teamed with Republican Ron Paul to audit the Fed."
• FL-22: Dem Lois Frankel's second ad is all about healthcare: protecting Medicare, requiring insurers to cover mammograms, and trying to make prescription drugs more affordable. I actually think Frankel has a great, authentic presence that's kind of rare on the campaign trail and talks to the camera very well, which she does only at the tail-end of this spot.
• FL-24: Another president's gotten involved in the FL-24 Democratic primary, though at least this time, it's the U.S. president, and also, it's on the incumbent's behalf. It's no surprise that Barack Obama is endorsing freshman Rep. Frederica Wilson, who faces a rematch from wealthy businessman Rudy Moise. What makes this amusing, though, is that back in the spring, Moise was endorsed by Michel Martelly, the president of Haiti. Needless to say, that sort of foreign meddling was not well-received in Miami Gardens.
• HI-02: If Tulsi Gabbard can pull this one off, it would easily be one of the biggest upsets of the cycle. In her new internal poll of the Democratic primary (from the Mellman Group), Gabbard is up 37-32 over former Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann, after trailing him 42-16 in previously unreleased April trendlines. This confirms some independent June polling from Merriman River, which also showed Gabbard surging into a neck-and-neck race with Hannemann. Given that Gabbard started off at 65-11 in Hannemann's polling a year ago, this is an amazing come-from-behind effort. The primary is on August 11 (that's a Saturday), so hang on to your hats—it could be a wild ride if Hannemann is spooked.
• IL-02: This makes the whole Jesse Jackson, Jr. story more, not less, confusing:
U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. has been admitted to the renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, to be evaluated for depression and gastrointestinal ailments, the congressman's office said on Friday in a statement released by the clinic.• IL-08: It should come as little surprise that Congress's #1 deadbeat is also a thief:
The statement came more than two weeks after the Illinois Democrat, son of civil rights leader and former presidential candidate, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, was said by his doctor to be undergoing treatment for a "mood disorder."
Rep. Tim Bishop thinks Rep. Joe Walsh’s bill to provide renovation grants for Veterans of Foreign Wars posts is a really good piece of legislation.One nameless GOP staffer called this move "pretty unheard of," but this is Joe Walsh we're talking about, after all.
Primarily because he wrote it.
In 2010, Bishop, a Democrat from New York, introduced the Renovate and Enhance Veterans’ Meeting Halls and Posts Act with a bipartisan group of co-sponsors. Then in May of this year, Walsh, a Republican from Illinois, unveiled a practically verbatim version of the bill on his own without consulting Bishop or asking him to be a co-sponsor.
• MI-13: A labor-backed PAC called Working for Us is trying to save veteran Rep. John Conyers' bacon in the Democratic primary, with a $93K independent expenditure for a bunch of canvassing ($62K worth—that's quite a bit), and some mail as well ($27K), plus another $9K on phone calls. The organization was previously involved in the member-vs.-member Dem primary in PA-12, in which Mark Critz, a major union ally, upset Jason Altmire. The man behind the group is labor guru Steve Rosenthal.
• MI-14: The Hotline takes a look at the weird racial dynamics that have long been an undercurrent to the 14th District Democratic primary but have lately burst out into the open. The entire saga, which revolves around Rep. Hansen Clarke, isn't suitable for summarizing but it's very interesting in its own strange way, so I'd encourage you to click through if you aren't familiar with the whole story.
• NC-07: Given how much redder they made the 7th in redistricting, it's a bit surprising to see the GOP release an internal poll showing their guy, state Sen. Dave Rouzer, trailing Dem Rep. Mike McIntyre. But so they have: A new Rouzer campaign poll from Public Opinion Strategies has the incumbent up 44-40. Presumably Republicans are excited to see McIntyre under 50%, but there's a flipside to that gerrymander: namely, that McIntyre is new to 35% of the district. Of course, that's mostly red turf, but he still has a chance to introduce himself to voters in the new portion of the seat who've never seen him on the ballot before.
• OH-14: Even though we're well past the normal timeframe for members of Congress to announce their retirements, Republican Rep. Steve LaTourette reportedly will not seek re-election this fall. (He has a press conference planned for Tuesday.) Apparently, LaTourette—who after a long career wound up on his party's left flank, despite being a member of the notorious class of `94—had grown fed up with GOP leadership and decided to belatedly call it quits. How a replacement gets selected will depend on when exactly LaTourette formally pulls the plug; we will of course monitor that process closely. And though this is a swing district (John McCain won it by just 0.3% in 2008), Democrats don't stand much of a chance unless their candidate, Dale Blanchard, also steps aside. (Blanchard's raised zero money and was twice crushed by LaTourette a decade ago.) Stay tuned.
• TN-03: Most of the air war in Thursday's GOP primary has involved raids and counter-strikes by Rep. Chuck Fleischman and ice cream kingpin Scottie Mayfield and their allies, but congressional progeny Weston Wamp is in the mix in the waning days, too. His closing spot is similar in feel to his first ad, a content-free paean to some sort of American virtue that makes me think he's daring me to participate in the X-Games, not vote in an election.
• TN-06: Politico's Alex Isenstadt dives deep into the GOP primary rematch between Rep. Diane Black and the woman she edged by just 283 votes in 2010, tea partier Lou Ann Zelenik. Though Black has a huge cash edge (thanks in part to her personal wealth), we've written about some of the third-party ads that have run on Zelenik's behalf, and Isenstadt now explains where they come from.
It turns out that Zelenik's sugar daddy is multimillionaire businessman Andrew Miller, who is animated almost entirely by rank Islamophobia. He's convinced that Black doesn't hate Muslims nearly enough; Zelenik, though, is a fellow traveler who, as she did last time, has made "her opposition to the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro" a "centerpiece" of her campaign. To date, though, the two super PACs linked to Miller have "only" spent about $217K, a sum dwarfed by Black's own spending. The primary is on Thursday.
• WA-01: We noted late last week that Suzan DelBene—trying to close out the Dem side of the primary in Washington's 1st—had self-funded another $900K. And while the ink is barely dry on that story, now she's self-funded another $400K on top of that. What's that going to pay for? Well, if you live in the Seattle market and are watching the Olympics, you're seeing her newest ad almost every hour, which has to get expensive really fast. The spot features a lot of loud repetition of her name from diverse groups of Washingtonians, though the fast-talking announcer rattles off some policy specifics too in between. (David Jarman)
• WA-01: One thing I'd like to know is why Progress for Washington, the already-infamous super PAC run by Democrat Laura Ruderman's mom, always spends exactly $21,328.38 almost every time they roll out a new batch of mailers—not a penny more, not a penny less. I feel like I'm going to uncover some sort of Mersenne prime if I continue to follow each new IE report.
• WI-02: I can't say I'm surprised to see this: Dem state Rep. Mark Pocan is out with a new internal from GQR that I think represents the first real polling we've seen on the Democratic primary, showing him up 50-21 over fellow state Rep. Kelda Roys. When Roys first started launching negative ads against Pocan last week (which caused several allies to either rescind their endorsements or issue statements of reproach), I figured she had to be behind in her own polling. And with the primary just two weeks away, she hasn't got a lot of time to change the dynamic of the race, which probably explains why Roys is out with yet another attack ad, this time accusing Pocan of being in the pocket of pay-day lenders while an incongruous jazzy soundtrack plays in the background.
• Fundraising: Primary season is once again heating up, with a whole bunch of contents coming in the month of August. First are up are elections in Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington. As per usual, we've compiled pre-primary FEC fundraising reports, all of which are available at the link.
• Voter Suppression: You've probably already seen the alarming (but alarmingly vague) figure that 750,000 registered Pennsylvania voters don't have adequate identification to vote under the state's new voter ID law. Well, we have slightly less vague numbers, thanks to the AFL-CIO's data team, which calculated how many of those voters fall in each of the state's congressional districts.
The result certainly supports the theory that the voter ID law has a disproportionate effect on non-white and/or poor voters; the districts with the highest numbers are Philadelphia's 2nd, 1st, and 13th, and Pittsburgh's 14th, while the lowest numbers are in the affluent suburban districts like the 6th, 7th, and 8th. Not to minimize the issue, but even this more detailed analysis still doesn't shed much light on the question of how many people who could and would vote will actually get thwarted by the new requirements—assuming the requirements even survive the current court challenge—considering that many of these numbers are just name-mismatches between voter and DOT records, or the names of people who've left the state and not bothered to notify elections officials. (David Jarman)
• WI-St. Sen: State Sen. Tim Cullen has ended his (mercifully brief) temper tantrum in which he said he was quitting the Democratic caucus, potentially jeopardizing Dems' newly-won majority in the chamber. Though redistricting changed the lines a bit, Cullen very likely still sits in one of the bluest Senate districts in Wisconsin. He also has a reputation for centrist wankery. He's not up for re-election until 2014, but I'm wondering if he might make a good primary target for progressives.