• WI-Sen: PPP's new poll of the Wisconsin GOP primary confirms what We Ask America saw earlier this week: a surge for ex-Rep. Mark Neumann. Businessman Eric Hovde remains in the lead at 28, while Neumann is tied with ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson at 25. That's a remarkable turnaround for Neumann, who was at just 15 in PPP's early July poll, which represented a 10-point drop for him after Hovde got into the race. But now Hovde, who was at 31 last time, is slipping, despite his lavish spending. So is Thompson, who stood at 29 in PPP's prior survey but is now badly suffering among self-described conservatives. There are still two weeks left and this race is still anybody's game. Democrats just have to hope that Neumann, the candidate we'd most like to face, still has enough momentum left to carry him over the finish line.
And if Neumann can pull off the unlikely upset, he may wind up having the Club for Growth to thank. Fresh off their impressive effort powering Ted Cruz to victory in the Texas Senate GOP runoff, the Club is now airing a new ad that squeezes in attacks on Eric Hovde and Tommy Thompson, then praises Neumann as "Wisconsin's most conservative congressman in decades." There's no word on the size of the buy yet, but the CfG will have to file an IE report soon, and I wouldn't be surprised if they go big.
• FL-Sen: How do you like them beignets? Former Gov.—and former Republican—Charlie Crist is coming out for Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in his race against GOP Rep. Connie Mack. Not only does Crist plan to donate to Nelson, but he said he'd also appear at a Wednesday fundraiser for the incumbent, headlined by none other than Bill Clinton. Pretty remarkable stuff, considering that Crist himself ran for the Senate as a Republican (before becoming an independent) just a cycle ago. Could this be a prelude to a long-awaited (and hoped-for-by-many) full-blown party switch? We'll have to see!
Meanwhile, Nelson is out with his first ad of his re-election campaign, a cookie-cutterish spot in which the announcer crams in both some basic bio information (he's been married for 40 years) and some of Nelson's priorities and accomplishments ("he exposed the lies of BP and stood up to the insurance companies and Wall Street banks"). The only notable bit is that the list of things the narrator says Nelson's "fought for" includes "faith."
• FL-, OH-, PA-Sen: Quinnipiac included Senate head-to-heads with its trio of new swing state polls released on Wednesday, and PPP also published its new Florida Senate numbers as well. PPP shows a much tighter race: They have Dem Sen. Bill Nelson up 45-43 over Connie Mack, while Q gives Nelson a more comfortable 47-40 lead. Quinnipiac continues to show Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown leading Republican Josh Mandel (at 51-39, though that's tightened up since June), while Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey has widened his edge over Republican Tom Smith (to 55-37). Click through for all the numbers, including trendlines and Florida primary results, as well as our analysis, at Daily Kos Elections.
• HI-Sen: The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (aka the faculty union) is spending another $22K on TV for Democrat Ed Case.
• IN-Sen: Okay, this shit's hilarious. Well, except for the part about the judge feeling threatened—that's not cool at all. But the moran Republican tracker? Yes, very funny.
• MI-Sen: The past few days have brought a pair of new polls out of the state of Michigan, which paint slightly different pictures of the state of play in the GOP primary to challenge Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow. EPIC-MRA has longtime frontrunner Pete Hoesktra with a solid 51-27 lead over charter schools head Clark Durant, with a couple of Some Dudes languishing in the low single digits. The local firm didn't even bother with polling Durant in the general election, but they found Stabenow thumping Hoesktra pretty well, with a 49-35 lead.
Meanwhile, another set of numbers from the consortium of Foster McCollum White and Baydoun Consulting on the Senate primary paint a picture of a less certain electorate. They give Hoesktra the lead as well, but only by a 40-24 margin. That's actually more consistent with EPIC-MRA than on first blush: Before EPIC pressed undecideds, their numbers had it Hoekstra 40, Durant 22. This would hint at a reservoir of soft support for Hoesktra when all is said and done.
FMW/Baydoun also checked out the general election, and they found that Durant actually matches up better with Stabenow than does Hoesktra. Both trail, but Durant loses by eight points (51-43), while Hoesktra would fall by ten (53-43). This is the first poll in recent memory to make the case that Durant is "more electable" than the better-known Hoekstra.
On the paid media front, Saul "Jackal God of the Afterlife Anubis" Anuzis keeps pouring in money to help Clark Durant win the GOP primary. His super PAC, Prosperity for Michigan, has added another $140K (see here and here) to keep airing ads on Durant's behalf. (Steve Singiser & David Nir)
• MO-Sen: Hmm. Dave Catanese says he's seen some mystery poll of the Missouri GOP Senate primary which shows a very bunched up race, with John Brunner at 29, Todd Akin at 27, and Sarah Steelman at 25. No further details are available (except that this survey wasn't taken for any of the three Republican campaigns), but PPP will be polling here soon.
• NM-, VA-, WI-Sen: Politico's Maggie Haberman (who does a good job keeping track of this sort of stuff) reports that the DSCC has made new reservations for fall TV time in three states: $2.9 mil in Wisconsin, $1.3 mil in New Mexico, and $1 mil in Virginia. The latter two add on to existing reservations.
• AZ-01: Here's a little hint, because we just saw this a day ago: If you conduct an internal poll for a House race but come back with totally implausible presidential election numbers, either keep those out of your memo (shady but smart) or just don't release the poll at all (honest). If you insist on providing absurd Obama-Romney head-to-heads, though, then any right-thinking analyst is just going to dismiss your poll entirely, which is what happened with that joke poll from GOPer Randy Altschuler in NY-01 on Tuesday.
Arizona Republican Jonathan Paton doesn't seem to understand this lesson, though. His new survey, from North Star Opinion Research, has Mitt Romney beating Barack Obama by an absolutely insane 58-35 margin in the 1st District. John McCain won here in 2008 by a 51-48 spread. So we're meant to believe that a +3 McCain district has now turned into a +23 Romney district? That's just not possible, and it deals a serious blow to any credibility the House toplines—which still manage to show Dem ex-Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick beating Paton 46-43—might have.
• AZ-02: Democrat Ron Barber, the newest member of the House of Representatives, just won a big special election last month but nevertheless has to go before voters once again this November. Fortunately for him, the new AZ-02 is bluer than the old AZ-08 where he first ran. On top of that, his new internal poll (from GQR) shows him up a healthy 53-40 over Republican Martha McSally. And despite the barrage of attacks against him during the special, Barber's favorables stand at 47-28. McSally is predictably little-known, with just 42% name rec.
GQR also included a very teeny (n=200) test of the Democratic primary, where state Rep. Matt Heinz is trying to unseat Barber despite his very short tenure. The margin of error is huge, but it doesn't really matter: Barber's up by a 77-13 spread, well outside of the MoE. He also has 81% favorables among Dems.
• AZ-09: If you've felt that the Democratic primary in Arizona's new 9th District has been a busy contest between welterweights, while the GOP side has remained a surprisingly somnolent bantamweight affair, you're not alone. Roll Call's Abby Livingston profiles the race and finds that local Democrats are experiencing a bit of an "embarrassment of riches" (well, not counting Andrei Cherny), while Republicans "admit they do not have a good handle on the race." GOP operatives do seem to expect that former Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker will be their nominee, though, while the Dem field is much more wide open.
• CA-09: With the flurry of California polls that have recently been released, perhaps Dem Rep. Jerry McNerney wanted to pre-empt anything his Republican opponent might have in the works—after all, in the battle of dueling internals, it's always better to be first. In any event, McNerney's new survey, from Lake Research, has him up 49-33 over law student Ricky Gill. What's more, the presidential head-to-heads make sense: Obama leads Romney 53-38 (he beat McCain 56-41).
• CA-10: Republican Rep. Jeff Denham is out with what I believe are his first TV ads of the cycle, both of which feature really, really poor production values—almost comically anachronistic. In case you care, one ad is a bio spot that mentions his military service and the fact that he grows almonds (pronounced like "ammonds" by the narrator). The second ad builds on that second point, as he talks about the importance of making water available to farmers.
• CA-44: If you've been following this story, you won't be surprised in the least:
The House Ethics Committee called for the full chamber to reprimand Rep. Laura Richardson on Wednesday, accusing the California Democrat of breaking federal law, violating House rules and obstructing the committee's investigation.Richardson faces fellow Democratic Rep. Janice Hahn in November, a repeat of their June matchup in California's top-two primary. Hahn took 60% of the vote in the primary to just 40% for Richardson, but because the top two vote-getters regardless of party advance to the general election, they have to face off again. Needless to say, this latest news dims Richardson's already-slim chances further.
In an unusually harsh report [PDF], the panel found that Richardson flouted the law by "improperly using House resources for campaign, personal, and nonofficial purposes; by requiring or compelling her official staff to perform campaign work; and by obstructing the investigation of the Committee ... through the alteration or destruction of evidence, the deliberate failure to produce documents responsive to requests for information and a subpoena, and attempting to influence the testimony of witnesses."
• CT-05: Democrat Elizabeth Esty emphasizes the endorsement she just received from the Register Citizen of Litchfield County. (A 2010 NYT article said the paper's print circulation is just 8,000.) Meanwhile, the super PAC that's backing Dem Dan Roberti, New Directions for America, is throwing down $142K more on TV advertising, on top of the $132K they've already put in.
• FL-09: Looks like the House Majority PAC is joining in with ex-Rep. Alan Grayson's efforts to ratfuck John Quinones in the GOP primary. They're spending $13K on mailers attacking him (and Grayson's been running radio ads doing the same); I'm sure Democrats would prefer to face weirdo attorney Todd Long.
• FL-18: GOP freshman Allen West, in his latest TV ad, insists that we must "keep our promises to America's seniors" but that "everything else is on the table" when it comes to cutting spending. A Patrick Murphy press release explains why this is so comical:
The claim stands in direct opposition to the Congressman's own words, having recently called Social Security Disability "a form of modern-day slavery" and vocally supporting the Ryan Budget Plan that turns Medicare into a voucher system.And while we mentioned West's previous ad as well, I was unaware of this detail:
In his July ad "Opportunity," West touted his experience as a high school teacher, despite the fact that he left after only nine months following an alleged altercation with a student; he later said that leaving to become a defense contractor in Afghanistan was a more "enjoyable experience."• HI-02: Democrat Tulsi Gabbard has a new ad that's pretty generic, mostly, except for her call to end the war in Afghanistan. I don't think I've seen a lot of Dems take that issue on, but seeing as she served in Iraq as a member of the Army National Guard, she has a little extra cred on this issue.
• IA-04: Nope, AFSCME didn't pull a Marlo Stanfield and insist on going solo: They re-joined
Proposition Joe and Stringer Bell the House Majority PAC and SEIU to re-up their buy of that pro-Christie Vilsack ad. AFSCME's chipping in another $25K, which means that all told, a hefty $189K has gone into putting this spot on the air.
• MI-03: Things are heating up in the MI-03 Democratic primary. Activist Trevor Thomas is out with his first ad, narrated by his mother (who has a notable accent) talking about his various legislative priorities. The spot also goes negative against Democrat Steve Pestka, claiming he "voted against stem cell research and opposed a women's right to choose, even in the case of rape and incest." Thomas's willingness to distort is once again on display, as he also flashes a deliberately truncated quote from Pestka on screen which says (note the ellipsis): "I could have easily become a Republican..." We've mentioned Peskta's full quote before:
"I'm somebody pretty unique in this community—I've been willing to do something really different. I could have easily become a Republican. It would have been much easier because you get a tremendous amount of support. But I would rather retain my independence, which is easier done as a Democrat. And I'm a Democrat because on core issues the Democratic position historically is better."
Meanwhile, Pestka is firing back with a new ad of his own, in which a variety of women praise his commitment to "fight for women's rights." (At the very end, one woman says Thomas "is distorting the truth about Steve.") Also of note, VoteVets is increasing their spend on mail for Thomas, adding $49K to the $36K they previously shelled out.
• MN-08: Democrat Rick Nolan is out with his first ad, and while he delivers the usual nostrums about protecting Medicare and Social Security and creating American jobs, at least this spot stands out from the pack. That's because of Nolan's energy—the ad uses clips from what must have been a rousing speech before a very friendly audience. Meanwhile, EMILY's List continues to add money to its mail efforts on behalf of Tarryl Clark, their preferred Democrat. Their latest IE report is for $16K worth of lit, and interestingly, it includes some negative stuff about GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack.
• MI-11: Liberty for All, the libertarian super PAC that's been backing Kerry Bentivolio in the GOP primary, is attacking Nancy Cassis as a tax hiker in a new TV ad. They're also spending $23K more on mailers and phones, while Freedom's Defense Fund is chipping in $20K on TV.
• NY-06: While I don't think any prognosticators view New York's open 6th Congressional District as anything other than a lock for Democrat Grace Meng to hold, you certainly have to consider Republican candidate Dan Halloran one of the most, uh, colorful guys running for Congress this cycle. He's also probably the best get the GOP could hope for, seeing as he's an actual elected official, a very rare thing for Republicans in NYC. (He serves on the city council.) Halloran's also a lying asshole, though, and was responsible for slurring unionized city sanitation workers by falsely claiming they initiated a work slowdown during the infamous Christmas 2010 blizzard. (Of course he had no proof, but the local media breathlessly covered this and I'm sure for many New Yorkers, it's now "fact.") In any event, Politicker's Colin Campbell offers a lengthy profile of Halloran, though I'll certainly be glad to see him lose in November.
• OH-14: Roll Call mentions a couple more potential GOPers who could replace retiring Rep. Steve LaTourette on the ballot: Lake County Judge Vince Culotta and ex-state Sen. Kevin Coughlin, whom you may recall ran for the Senate for a while last year before bowing out in favor of Josh Mandel. The article also says that Democrats are still trying to get Some Dude Dale Blanchard to drop out so that they can replace him with someone stronger, but given his obstinacy, I wonder what pressure they can bring to bear.
• OH-16: Yet another internal House race poll, this time from Dem Rep. Betty Sutton, who faces a member-vs.-member primary with GOP Rep. Jim Renacci this fall. Her survey, from GBA Strategies, has her up 42-40, with Libertarian Jeffrey Blevins pulling a sizable 12% of the vote. That spread is almost unchanged from last October, when GBA had the race tied at 45 apiece (sans Blevins). The numbers are also very similar to a June poll from Normington Petts which had Sutton leading Renacci 41-38 (Blevins was at a much tinier 4%). So that's now three unanswered Democratic polls in a row.
• RI-01: Freshman Rep. David Cicilline, who faces a primary challenge from self-described "conservative Democrat" Anthony Gemma, is out with his first TV ad. He hits the "constituent service" theme hard, with different Rhode Islanders describing how Cicilline has individually helped them. (One veteran says he "finally got my Bronze Star" after 70 years, thanks to Cicilline's efforts.)
• TX-36: If you went to bed at a normal hour on Tuesday night, there was still one Texas runoff uncalled with about 74% of the vote counted, the GOP contest in the new 36th District. Well, there's finally a checkmark, and it's next to ex-Rep. Steve Stockman's name, though the final tally barely shifted as the remaining votes were counted—he beat financial advisor Stephen Takach 55-45. It's a remarkable comeback for Stockman, one of the looniest members of the class of `94... and you know that's saying something. He served only a single term before getting ousted by Democrat Nick Lampson (who himself is attempting a comeback bid this year). Unlike Lampson, though, who faces an uphill fight in the 14th, Stockman is set to cruise to victory in November in this very red district. At least you can look forward to him causing a lot of headaches for his fellow Republicans—and I wouldn't be surprised if he drew a primary challenge next cycle, either.
• WA-01: Another day, another $21,328.38 on mailers from Progress for Washington to benefit Democrat Laura Ruderman.
• NYC Mayor: How screwed up are Democrats in the New York state Senate? This screwed up: Former Democratic Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (who still serves in the chamber) is reportedly considering a run for mayor of New York City... as a Republican. I have no words.
• Maps: Here's an interesting study for our map and data heads: The climate change debate has become so polarizing that how you feel about the issue may dictate how hot you actually feel. (Ben Schaffer)
• NRSC: It looks like the DCCC isn't the only campaign committee that's having a hard time collecting its member dues. Twelve of the DSCC's 22 largest donors are Democratic senators, while not a single one of the NRSC's 20 biggest givers are Republican senators. This fact has NRSC chair John Cornyn hounding his caucus, but who knows if it'll have any impact.
• SEIU: The Service Employees International Union (you know `em best as just SEIU) has been paying salaries for a lot of folks in the ground to help Democrats in various races. Their latest report covers $1.36 million in payroll across a number of contests: MA-, NV- and WI-Sen, as well as CO-03, CO-06, NV-04, and VA-02. I believe it's the first time we've seen them deploy their troops in Colorado's 3rd and Virginia's 2nd.