• Polls: Today's digest seems to be filled with polls. Scroll down to see numbers for a ton of races, including (deep breath): AZ-Sen, CT-Sen, MO-Sen, WI-Sen, CA-03, CA-52, MD-06, NC-07, NY-01, NY-19 (x2), UT-04, and, for good measure, the San Diego mayor's race. Phew! Have at it!
• AZ-Sen: PPP's new poll on behalf of the League of Conservation Voters has the most positive results to date for Democrat Richard Carmona, who ties with GOP Rep. Jeff Flake at 38 apiece. That's not too different from an early June PPP poll for a different client (Project New America) which had Flake leading 43-41, though prior PPP surveys showed a much wider margin for the Republican. The proportion of undecideds (25%) certainly raises an eyebrow, though, but the presidential toplines make sense (Romney's up 52-41). PPP either didn't ask about Flake's primary rival, Wil Cardon, or those numbers simply weren't released.
Meanwhile, Flake tries to push back in this new ad against attacks from Cardon that he's not really a conservative by saying that he's really a conservative. Really.
• CT-Sen: PPP's new Connecticut poll is out, and they find Dem Rep. Chris Murphy leading GOP businesswoman Linda McMahon 50-42, a darn sight better than that early June poll from Quinnipiac which had Murphy up just three. Click through for our full analysis and all the numbers (including primary results).
• IN-Sen: While Democrats everywhere were hoping that Sen. Dick Lugar would bury the hatchet deep in Richard Mourdock's neck, alas, he's chosen the more traditional location. Lugar's had nothing but unkind remarks for the man who beat him in the GOP primary for months (dating back before his defeat); he even unloaded on him in prepared remarks after his loss. But I guess Lugar's somehow gotten over it, because he went out of his way to introduce Mourdock to his fellow Republican Senators at a lunch gathering on Tuesday. I will say that the gag-inducing quotes the two men offered on each other's behalf are a wonderful attempt at re-writing recent history.
• MO-Sen: I managed to miss that there was a GOP primary portion to that new Mason-Dixon poll of the Missouri Senate race which dropped over the weekend. They see a two-race race between John Brunner, who's at 33, and Sarah Steelman, not far off the pace at 27. Todd Akin is far back at 17. According to RCP, this is the first public survey of the Republican contest conducted by anyone other than PPP, and it's also the first time Brunner's ever led. Given his huge spending, that's not so surprising, but apparently the attacks designed to take him down (and bolster Akin, Dems' preferred opponent) haven't quite worked.
On a different track entirely, here's a story very much worth reading: Roll Call's Janie Lorber takes a close look at the personal financial disclosure forms filed by Brunner, who may have a net worth of as much as $87 million and who owns, among other things, "a private aircraft and bank accounts based in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands." Lorber doesn't directly make the comparison, but it feels like Brunner may suffer from a bit of a Mitt Romney problem, seeing as among his assets are things like a recently dissolved investment account with a Bermuda firm valued at up to $5 million. As one tax law professor quoted in the piece asks, "Why does a candidate for Congress want his or her money not in the U.S.?"
And finally, in an ad that's a lot less crazy than the weird wingnut word salad he served up a day earlier, GOP Rep. Todd Akin features a supporter thanking him for helping to improve the armor on military vehicles, which she says saved her husband's life.
• NM-Sen: Here's that new DSCC ad we mentioned in the previous Digest, which is reportedly backed by a $150K buy. Most third-party attacks on GOPer Heather Wilson so far have focused on her environmental record; this spot goes after Wilson for voting "to protect special tax breaks" for companies which ship jobs overseas.
• NV-Sen: GOP Sen. Dean Heller tries to accuse Dem Rep. Shelley Berkley of taking credit "for legislation she didn't even write" in his newest ad. The announcer also invokes PolitiFact, calling Berkley's repeated attacks on Heller's vote to end Medicare the "lie of the year." Expect to see a lot of that this cycle.
• WI-Sen: We Ask America, the polling arm of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, has some numbers out on the Wisconsin Senate GOP primary. (In their maddening style, they still insist on going down to hundredths of a percent. Guys, this isn't a joke.) They see Eric Hovde and Tommy Thompson tied at 23, with Mark Neumann at a not-implausible-for-him-to-win 17 and Jeff Fitzgerald at 12. The primary is fast approaching on August 14.
• CA-Gov: Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is sort of a west coast Cory Booker: He's been talked about for higher office since forever, so I'm not even sure whether this quote from him really qualifies as news or not. But to no surprises, Villaraigosa, a Democrat, says: "The job I've said to people I would like is I would like to be governor of the state of California." Thing is, he's not that young: At 59, you have to wonder whether he'd think about trying to take Gov. Jerry Brown out in a primary in 2014, or if he has the patience to wait until Brown is term-limited in 2018.
• CA-03: Here's another DCCC IVR poll, this time showing Dem Rep. John Garamendi with a sizable 52-37 lead over Colusa County Supervisor Kim Dolbow Vann. Don't feel too bad for those poor, overworked D-Trip autodialers, though: Like all of their other recent robo-surveys, this one was only in the field for a single day. That's a practice I can't really condone (for reasons Nate Silver capably explained here); the most prominent firm that relies on one-day samples is, after all, Rasmussen.
• CA-52: We at Daily Kos Elections got a lot more optimistic about the race in this swingy San Diego-area seat when we saw the results from California's top 2 primary, where the Dem vote totals were on a par with the GOP vote totals despite the primary's Republican-leaning electorate when compared with November. And now a poll from the Dem to emerge from that primary, San Diego port commissioner Scott Peters, shows similarly competitive results; he's tied 40-40 with Republican incumbent Rep. Brian Bilbray. According to the pollster, Grove Insight, Bilbray also has a 41-30 favorability rating but a negative 40-44 job approval score. Peters, presumably, is still largely unknown, though that will change once the air wars heat up. (David Jarman)
• CT-05: Well, here we go. EMILY's List finally filed an independent expenditure report for those mailers attacking Democrat Chris Donovan. To all Connecticut readers, if you live in the district and happen to get your hands on a copy, please scan it in or photograph it so that we can see exactly what EMILY is up to. Remember, just days ago, their spokeswoman said:
"No mail has been sent, and no Republican talking points have been used...."Claim #1 is now proven bullshit. Let's see if they had the guts to stick with their plans to go after Donovan as a "tax hiker"... or if claim #2 winds up being bullshit as well.
• FL-16: Ethically troubled GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan was supposed to testify under oath at a deposition on Monday in a lawsuit involving his former business partner regarding alleged illegal campaign contributions... but he was a no-show, even though he was ordered to attend by the judge hearing the case. Pathetically, ol' Vern claims that his attorney got ill, but no one as giga-wealthy as Buchanan (worth nine figures!) has only one lawyer. Democratic state Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, who is challenging the incumbent, seems pretty convinced that Buchanan skipped out to attend a fundraiser in another part of the state. Buchanan's ex-partner is also fuming, and though this will never happen, it's hilarious to imagine: he wants to "seek criminal sanctions against Buchanan and ask a judge to put him in jail for contempt for not showing up." We can dream!
• FL-26: EMILY's List has given its full endorsement to businesswoman Gloria Romero Roses, who faces 2010 nominee Joe Garcia in the Democratic primary. There isn't a lot of time left to make a difference, though: Election day is August 14.
• IA-04: Looks like the House Majority PAC and its union allies are extending their TV ad buy on behalf of Democrat Christie Vilsack: SEIU COPE is tossing in another $46K is contributing another $29K. No word yet on whether AFSCME will stick with this co-op for the new re-up.
• KY-04: Weird: Republican Rep. Geoff Davis, who surprisingly decided to retire earlier this year, just decided to up and quit altogether, announcing his resignation from Congress on Tuesday, effective immediately. Davis's likely successor in this very red district was already chosen in a primary earlier this year (former Lewis County Judge-Executive Thomas Massie)—much to the chagrin of the local GOP establishment which didn't care for his libertarian leanings nor the outside groups which helped power him to victory. It seems likely that any special election would be consolidated with the regular November election, but of course, we'll stay on top of this story and bring you any developments.
• MD-06: Hmm. I don't think I would have released this poll were I the House Majority PAC. Their new survey of Maryland's redrawn 6th Congressional District (courtesy GQR) features Democrat John Delaney up just 44-42 over GOP Rep. Roscoe Bartlett. Given how blue the revised seat is, though, and given most prognosticators' expectations that Delaney should win here, those numbers, while not good for the incumbent, aren't exactly imposing for the challenger. It also stands in contrast to an April poll from GHY released by Delaney's own campaign that had him beating Bartlett 48-39.
• MN-08: Even though Rick Nolan left Congress in 1981, for local Democrats, it seems like he was merely waiting in stasis all these years. After cleaning up among party activists at local nominating contests and then the district-wide convention, Nolan's now cemented his position as the establishment choice with an endorsement from Gov. Mark Dayton. That hasn't translated into much fundraising success, though, and Nolan still faces a better-funded opponent in ex-state Sen. Tarryl Clark in the August primary. (Duluth City Council President Jeff Anderson is also in the mix.)
Speaking of Clark, EMILY's List is determined to get her over the line, with a new expenditure of about $12K on mailers. Note that EMILY's lit includes some negative attacks on Nolan, but we haven't seen a copy of the mailer, so it's not clear what exactly they're going after him on.
• MI-11: The Republican primary to replace ex-Rep. Thad McCotter—which Dana Houle rightly called "unhandicappable"—resembles what I imagine a jello wrestling match between Helmut Kohl and Yahoo Serious would look like: plug-ugly and really pathetic. And it just got plug-uglier: Ex-state Sen. Nancy Cassis, who is waging a write-in bid, says she won't support teacher Kerry Bentivolio (the only guy actually on the ballot) if he wins the GOP nomination next week. Cassis is a dull, albeit mainstream, Republican; Bentivolio is a Paulist outsider who has done a good job offending establishment sensibilities. I look forward to watching this race reach its denouement.
• NC-07: Tactical question of the day: When your opponent commits the unforced error of putting out an internal poll that still shows him behind, do you let that speak for itself or do you respond? It probably depends on what your own latest poll says, and I suppose Democrats figured, if you've got it, flaunt it. A day after Republican opponent David Rouzer put out a poll showing McIntyre winning by only 4 points, the DCCC rolled out a poll taken on their behalf by Grove Insight that shows McIntyre leading by a gaudy 53-34. That seems a little optimistic to me, but at the same time, that ought to leave a few prognosticators wondering what they're doing with this race (recast by a GOP gerrymander) in the "Lean R" column. (David Jarman)
• NY-01: Here's a nice sketchball poll you shouldn't believe. First off, it's from Pulse Opinion Research. Commit that name to memory if you haven't already done so because that's Rasmussen's for-hire arm—any bozo can plunk down some cash and have access to Raz's award-winning polling infrastructure. Second (and probably on account of this), it has Mitt Romney beating Barack Obama by a comical 54-40 margin in New York's 1st Congressional District, a seat that went 51-48 for the president in 2008.
So bear all that in mind when you see the topline results, which feature the poll's sponsor, Republican Randy Altschuler, leading Dem Rep. Tim Bishop 47-43. Obviously this is pushback against a recent House Majority PAC survey which showed Bishop up by a hefty 56-32 spread. While I wouldn't expect Bishop to win by 24 points, I could believe that he's in the mid-50s. I definitely don't believe he's in the mid-40s.
• NY-19: The season of dueling internals is upon us. Early on Tuesday, freshman GOP Rep. Chris Gibson blasted around a poll from Public Opinion Strategies that showed him up 53-36 over Democrat Julian Schreibman. Later in the day, Schreibman responded with his own survey from the Global Strategy Group that had the race a much closer 42-32 in Gibson's favor. Schreibman's memo also points out that many voters don't even know the putative incumbent, given that Gibson currently represents less than half of the redrawn district's constituents.
• NY-22: GOP freshman Richard Hanna continues to go far, far off-message, but with November's election looming, it's probably the smart call. Check out some of his quotes from this new interview:
"I have to say that I'm frustrated by how much we—I mean the Republican Party—are willing to give deferential treatment to our extremes in this moment in history," he told The Post-Standard editorial board. [...]I really do get the sense that Hanna would be more comfortable as a Democrat, in light of both these statements and some remarks he made back in March, sincerely encouraging women to donate to Dems because "[s]o many of your rights are under assault." Switching parties would also insulate him from any worries about getting teabagged to death some day in a GOP primary.
While he blamed the dysfunction on both sides, he said he feels more bitterness coming from the Republican caucus than from the Democrats.
"I would say that the friends I have in the Democratic Party I find ... much more congenial—a little less anger," he said.
• OH-14: On Tuesday, GOP Rep. Steve LaTourette confirmed the previous day's surprise news that he would not seek re-election this November. LaTourette insisted that a spat with leadership over committee assignments did not precipitate his departure, but rather that he'd grown weary of partisan acrimony. Given that LaTourette, an original member of the class of `94, managed to work his way over to the Republican Party's left flank, I think I actually believe him. (LaTourette said he felt that in order to move up in the ranks, "you've got to give [party leaders] your wallet and your voting card.")
As for the selection of a replacement, LaTourette plans to wait until Aug. 8 to formally declare his retirement. By delaying, he'll allow local GOP officials to hand-pick a replacement rather than conduct a special primary. The Great Mentioner is already hard at work: Some potential Republican names include Geauga County Prosecutor David Joyce, state Rep. Ron Young, ex-state Rep. Matt Dolan, and Geauga County Judge Tim Grendell, as well as state Sen. Frank LaRose, U.S. Marshall Pete Elliott, and ex-state Rep. Jamie Callendar.
State Democratic Party chair Chris Redfern, meanwhile, would like to replace Some Dude Dale Blanchard on the ballot with a stronger candidate, but Blanchard would also have to drop out. Unfortunately, Blanchard is definitely not quitting:
"If they ever ask me [to drop out] I'll become a Republican, I'll be that angry. I've always been a Democrat, and I don't understand why they'd ask me to do that," he said. "A big N-O to that. There's no way I'm dropping out. If there was a better candidate they should've run, don't you think? Where were they? I would not surrender the position I have if asked."I guess the kind of spirit which motivates someone to wage a hopeless run for office in the first place when no one else was willing to step up also brings with it the kind of spirit that makes you definitely not want to quit just because circumstances have changed.
In a different vein, here's something quantitative to back up a point we made when news of LaTourette's retirement first broke: that he had evolved from standard-issue Republican to "moderate" since joining the House in 1994, not by virtue of changing the way he voted so much as the caucus evolved around him, with northeastern moderates to his left slowly vanishing and southern right-wingers joining the party.
The first column in the table in the Congressional cycle (i.e. the 111th was the 2009-2010 session); the second column is his DW/Nominate score for that two-year period (a higher score is more conservative); and the third column is his ranking relative to the rest of the Republican caucus (in the 111th, he was the 11th least-conservative Republican, out of 182 GOP members for whom there was a DW/N score). Check out the near-straight-line evolution, from 39th least-conservative in his freshman year to 11th in 2010, all while his actual votes got, in fact, more conservative over the years.
|111th||0.394||11 (of 182)|
|110th||0.377||13 (of 205)|
|109th||0.334||17 (of 235)|
|108th||0.344||20 (of 232)|
|107th||0.327||24 (of 225)|
|106th||0.310||25 (of 223)|
|105th||0.293||28 (of 229)|
|104th||0.276||39 (of 235)|
(David Nir & David Jarman)
• UT-04: The House Majority PAC has another new poll out (this time from GSG instead of GQR) that shows Dem Rep. Jim Matheson edging Saratoga Springs mayor Mia Love by a 51-33 spread. That's probably the rosiest polling to date for Matheson, who faces an exceptionally tough re-election battle, though obviously Love's low score is due to her weaker name recognition. (Though it's not that small: She already has a 31-14 favorability rating, despite having done no TV advertising.) If Matheson does manage to win, it'll probably be with something like that 51% he's currently enjoying in this poll.
• San Diego Mayor: The San Diego mayoral race continues to go Bob Filner's way, according to a new poll from Dem firm FM3 (taken on behalf of San Diegans for Bob Filner). The poll has the Democrat, retiring from the U.S. House after 20 years, leading Republican city councilor Carl DeMaio 40-32. (Worth noting, though, the poll is a few weeks old, and for some reason only tested the San Diego Unified School District, which doesn't cover the entire boundaries of the city.) (David Jarman)
• Trivia: During a chat with David, I discovered that back in 2000, Connecticut Gov. John Rowland pre-announced his selection of Rep. Nancy Johnson for Joe Lieberman's Senate seat, were he to win the vice presidency. That's surprising not only because most politicians drag out such announcements to keep themselves in the headlines, but also because party loyalty dictates Rowland ought never to have conceived of a Gore/Lieberman win.
So our trivia question: Have there been any other examples of a governor pre-naming someone to a Senate seat that was yet to be vacant? Your answers in the comments below. Although I am thinking it might be "never." (Ben Schaffer)
• Ordinarily, this NYT article isn't the kind of story I'd include in the Digest—it certainly doesn't fit into any of our normal categories. But it's so crazy—so, SO crazy—that I have to link you to it. Take this one on trust, click through, and read the whole thing, because I've never seen anything quite like this, and I doubt you have, either.
• OH Redistricting: Good news out of Ohio: The group attempting to put a measure on the ballot that would create an independent redistricting commission for the Buckeye State says they've submitted an additional 300,000 signatures in furtherance of their efforts. Organizers fell 130,000 short in their initial attempt, so as long as some 43% of the newest batch are valid, then the measure should go before voters this fall.