• MO-Sen: In something of a late-breaking upset, badly-underfunded Rep. Todd Akin stormed to victory in the Missouri Republican Senate primary on Tuesday night. At press time, he held a 36-30 lead over wealthy businessman John Brunner, who poured over $7 million of his own money into this race (and down the drain). Ex-Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who also self-funded for almost a million bucks, was at 29. This is good news for Democrats, who have long felt Akin was the weakest potential GOP nominee and went so far as to run ads designed to boost his standing among Republican primary voters. He'll face Sen. Claire McCaskill in November.
• AZ-Sen: Is Wil Cardon giving up? The wealthy businessman, who has spent some $7.5 million of his own money to get his name out there, is reportedly going dark with just weeks to go before the GOP primary. Cardon's campaign denies that he's "slowing down" and insists that they're just keeping a tight lid on their strategy, but obviously, there's good reason to be skeptical.
• MT-Sen: A couple of new Montana ads. The first, from Dem Sen. Jon Tester, involves the narrator reciting a long list of issues where Tester went against his party to prove his centrist bonafides (voting against the auto bailout, voting for a GOP-backed balanced budget amendment). The buy is reportedly for $90K. Meanwhile, a new DSCC spot attacks Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg, using a clip of him saying he'll "never support or take a pay raise"—then claiming that he voted to increase his own pay five times, but opposed hiking the minimum wage 10 times.
• NM-Sen: The NRDC is spending about $95K on two new TV ads attacking Republican Heather Wilson. Both are 15-second spots, and as you'd expect, both hit Wilson on environmental issues. The group is also tossing in $35K for online ads. In addition, Environment America reports spending $41K on calls to help Dem Rep. Martin Heinrich.
• OH-Sen: Weird: Is Josh Mandel's polling really telling the baby-faced Republican that running on his age (he's only 34) is actually an advantage? I guess it must, because his newest TV ad refers to him as a "young Marine" and specifically mentions his age in the context of his work as state Treasurer. It also throws in a lame, boring slam at Dem Sen. Sherrod Brown at the end. I'm unimpressed.
• OR-Sen, OR-Gov: It looks like we can rule out a rematch in Oregon's 2014 Senate race, or a gubernatorial run, from the state's most prominent Republican: ex-Sen. Gordon Smith, who was beaten by Jeff Merkley in 2008, seemed to close the door on a return to office. (He says he may run for office "someday," but doesn't "know when I'll hear that call.") With Smith out and Rep. Greg Walden prepping to become the next NRCC chair (and no Republicans currently holding statewide office), Oregon Republicans are going to have to start looking a lot further down the bench for their 2014 candidates. (David Jarman)
• WI-Sen: Wealthy businessman Eric Hovde, hopping mad over accusatory ads that companies he's connected to accepted stimulus funds, is now pushing back on the airwaves. In Hovde's new spot, the announcer says that the spot in question (run by third-party group Americans for Job Security) has been pulled by TV stations because it's "false." AJS denies that claim, saying they've tweaked their ad slightly (here's the new version), but only with regard to a separate claim about property taxes—they're standing by the stimulus charge.
Meanwhile, Senate Conservatives Action (the new super PAC that's connected to Sen. Jim DeMint) is also running a new ad praising Mark Neumann, reportedly for a $100K buy. The Tea Party Express is getting into the action as well, with $81K in expenditures on Neumann's behalf (for radio and TV), but that number shows you just what kind of a piker TPX really is. (AJS and the Club for Growth have spent $650K and $440K respectively.)
• RI-Gov: If you want a very early look at a bunch of names who might run for governor of Rhode Island in 2014, Ted Nesi's got you covered.
• AZ-06: LOL! This is one of those "trust me, it's hilarious—just click" links.
• CT-05: EMILY's List has upgraded from mailers to television: With a week to go until the Democratic primary, they're spending $257K to air this ad, a positive spot touting a couple of newspaper endorsements for Elizabeth Esty. (Hat-tip to My Left Nutmeg for locating it.) For good measure, EMILY is throwing in another $19K on mailers.
Meanwhile, Dan Roberti, who not very long ago looked like a third wheel in this race, is now fully in the mix. Just the other day, Esty fired off an attack ad accusing Roberti of being a lobbyist; in a new spot, Roberti responds directly, insisting that Esty has him mixed up with his father, Vince, a very powerful and well-connected lobbyist. Frankly, I don't think the younger Roberti acquits himself very well in this ad (certainly not compared to Chris Donovan, who managed to go right at Esty in his own commercial while still coming off as pleasant-natured). And speaking of pops, the super PAC linked to Roberti's dad, New Directions for America, just dropped in another $140K on television ads for junior.
• FL-09: This is an odd development. As we've mentioned a few times, the House Majority PAC has been spending money on mailers designed to disrupt the GOP primary and convince Republicans not to tap Osceola County Commissioner John "Q" Quiñones as their nominee. That makes sense, since the GOP field includes some much weaker candidates, including attorney Todd Long, who ran in the old 8th CD both in 2008 and 2010. But in addition to throwing another $13K down on anti-Q mailers, HMP is now also placing Long in their targeting reticle. It's a small sum to start with—just $8K—but I'm pretty surprised. Unless this is some kind of head-fake, it seems awfully greedy to try to knock out both Long and Quiñones in favor of an even lesser alternative, especially with so little time left.
• HI-02: VoteVets is tossing in another $42K on mailers to help Tulsi Gabbard in the Democratic primary. Interestingly, these flyers also contain negative hits on Mufi Hannemann.
• IN-02: I was a little surprised when Republican Jackie Walorski's first TV ad stressed her desire to be bipartisan: After all, this is a rather red district and she didn't earn the name "Wacky Jackie" for nothing. But she's running with the theme, because it features prominently in her new ad, about her efforts to thwart identity theft. I guess she's being smart to introduce herself and occupy the center before Democrat Brendan Mullen has the chance to do so.
• MN-08: EMILY's List is now up with a $76K television buy on behalf of Democrat Tarryl Clark. The ad is a very generic positive spot that, strangely, features five seconds of nothing but music playing at the end. Given how hard script-writers work to try to cram down a message into 30 seconds, voluntarily wasting a sixth of that precious time seems really weird to me.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Democratic Party (aka the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, or DFL) is jumping in with a hefty $120K to run TV ads for Rick Nolan, who was given the party's official endorsement by convention-goers earlier this year. They seem to have two spots up: one very generic positive ad, and another which stresses Nolan's local roots and his prior service in Congress. (Clark is not from the district and, you'll recall, ran in MN-06 last cycle.) I do find it strange, though, that the Democratic Party would want to spend money trying to help a favored candidate win the primary rather than saving its resources to attack Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack in the fall.
• NV-03: State Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, who is challenging GOP freshman Joe Heck, is out with his first TV ad of the election campaign. It's a standard introductory bio spot, though it does linger on one pretty awesome detail: Oceguera is a former firefighter who worked his way up to assistant fire chief.
• OK-02: Former prosecutor Rob Wallace, looking to succeed Dem Rep. Dan Boren and facing a runoff against seed company owner Wayne Herriman, just got the endorsement of another Boren: David, Dan's dad, a former governor and senator. The runoff is Aug. 28.
• AL-Sup. Ct.: We wrote not long ago about how trial lawyers, one of the last bastions of Democratic support in Alabama, have started to back Republicans in judicial races because at this point, Democrats basically can't get elected statewide. Now, the AFL-CIO is doing the same, backing, of all people, the infamous Roy Moore, who looks set to make a comeback to the state supreme court this year. Berserk though he is, Moore is definitely not your typical mainstream business conservative, leading the state AFL-CIO president to say, "He's not controlled by corporate interests." Strange bedfellows indeed.
• AZ-Init: It looks like Arizona won't be following Washington and California down the top-two rabbit hole just yet. An effort to put a measure on the ballot that would move Arizona to a top-two primary system was just derailed in the courts by a judge who ruled that the initiative failed to focus on a single issue (it also included language restricting public funding for political party activities). It sounds like supporters are planning to appeal, though.
• Crossroads: Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS says it's going to start airing a new batch of ads in five Senate races (in MO, MT, ND, NV & VA), worth $4.2 million. The spots don't seem to be available online yet, though.
• Demographics: Although we don't usually report on presidential polling in the Digest, Tuesday's PPP poll of North Carolina is worth some special attention because it shows just how remarkably in-migration has changed the political landscape in the Tar Heel State. While Mitt Romney leads 54-41 among voters who've lived in North Carolina for more than 30 years, Barack Obama leads 58-37 among those who's lived there less than 30 years, and 66-27 among those who've lived there less than 10 years.
While this shows why North Carolina has moved into swing state status at the presidential level, it also explains smaller more localized shifts too. For instance, the Raleigh/Durham and Charlotte areas, where most of the migration seems to be targeted, have quickly moved from swingy areas to blue strongholds, more than compensating for the reddening of traditionally Democratic rural areas. (David Jarman)
• OH Redistricting: Great news! Ohio's Secretary of State has ruled that a measure to create a new independent redistricting commission will indeed appear on the ballot. After initially getting rejected, organizers were able to submit a second batch of signatures which put them over the top. Important: If the measure passes, then the commission will go into effect immediately! No waiting until 2022. Rather, new sets of lines for both Congress and the state legislature will get drawn for the 2014 elections. This will un-do the GOP gerrymander that may very well lead to a 12 Republican, four Democrat congressional map, even though Ohio is an evenly-divided swing state. In terms of retaking and keeping the House, it may actually be the most important issue on the ballot anywhere in the country this year.