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Leading Off:

HI-Sen, HI-02: As expected, Rep. Mazie Hirono handily beat ex-Rep. Ed Case in the Democratic primary to succeed retiring Sen. Dana Akaka, crushing him by a hefty 58-41 margin. (Props to Hirono's pollster, the Benenson Strategy Group, whose final poll exactly predicted this 17-point margin.) Hirono will face ex-Gov. Linda Lingle in November.

Meanwhile, in Hirono's open House seat, Honolulu City Council Tulsi Gabbard pulled off a huge upset over former Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann, winning by an even more punishing 55-34 spread. Hannemann came into the race a clear favorite thanks to superior name recognition, but a vigorous campaign, aided by third-party group VoteVets, put Gabbard over the top. Thanks to this district's strong blue hue, Gabbard is a lock to win election to the 113th Congress this fall.


AZ-Sen: Most of the story is paywalled, but the first two grafs pretty much tell you everything you need to know: Despite claiming that his campaign was not, contrary to reports, going off the airwaves, Republican businessman Wil Cardon still hasn't bought any new TV time since the end of last month. The primary is Aug. 28, so it certainly sounds like Cardon is giving up.

MO-Sen: Fresh off her preferred opponent's victory in the GOP primary, Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill is wasting little time taking a blowtorch to Todd Akin's hopes with two new ads. Each spot is a minute long, and I suspect they're heavily geared toward establishing a narrative about Akin's extremism in reporters' minds as they cover the race going forward. They both begin with the announcer asking, "On the mainstream priorities that matter to Missouri, how does Akin measure up?" Then, Akin's record is laid out in detail, punctuated by clips of various outrageous things he's said. The hits—on Medicare, Social Security, student loans, and the minimum wage— are all quite good, and I'd imagine they'll feature in more traditional 30-second spots as the campaign progresses.

ND-Sen: Is there anyone who's had a worse media team all cycle than GOP Rep. Rick Berg? First there was the ad that he basically cut-and-pasted from a Democratic state legislator in Virginia. Then, just the other week, Berg got absolutely lacerated for his "Mean Golden Girls" spot that just made my teeth ache—and those of everyone else who watched it.

Now here's his latest screwup: Berg's had to take down and modify a new spot which features a former YWCA president praising him, because the Y—a non-profit organization which cannot participate in partisan politics—sent a letter of complaint saying it looked as though Berg was touting an endorsement from them. Yeah, "oops is right. And by the way, this series of debacles doesn't even include the Crossroads GPS spot that got yanked off the air for lying about Democrat Heidi Heitkamp just a day earlier. When it comes to the airwaves in North Dakota, the GOP just can't get it right.

NM-Sen: Is Republican Heather Wilson getting desperate? Her latest spot features a movie trailer-style announcer and overly-the-top action flick musical accompaniment as the narrator accuses Dem Rep. Martin Heinrich of being an "extremist" because he opposes the Keystone XL pipeline. The whole thing just seems so melodramatic to me. What's even weirder is that the ad starts with the voiceover artist saying, "That's what the Albuquerque Journal said..." while flashing some text on the screen... without bothering to read the text itself out loud. I just never think it's a good idea for an ad to require that viewers read stuff and grok it in order for the spot to work.

Meanwhile, the conservative American Future Fund also has an "issue" ad hitting Heinrich, complaining about "wasteful spending" and the stimulus. Pretty dull stuff.

PA-Sen: Bob Casey seems to be following fellow Dem Sen. Bill Nelson's lead: make your initial ad of the cycle a positive spot, followed quickly by an attack ad, so that the press can't say your very first foray on to the airwaves was negative. In any event, Casey's new ad goes after Republican Tom Smith on an issue that I'm sure will play well in much of Pennsylvania: so-called "free" trade deals, which Smith supports but Casey opposes.

WI-Sen: PPP decided to conduct its final poll of the Wisconsin GOP primary (coming up on Tuesday) last week rather than wait for the weekend, as they usually do. There's little change from their prior set of numbers, though. It's still super-tight at the top: Eric Hovde's at 27, Tommy Thompson 25, and Mark Neumann 24, with Jeff Fitzgerald at 15. Ten days ago, it was Hovde 28, Thompson and Neumann 25, and Fitzgerald 13. Somewhat surprising (to me, at least) is that Hovde actually leads among voters who say they are "very excited" to cast their ballots. As Tom Jensen points out, Ted Cruz and Todd Akin both led with that sub-group, which helped power them to victories over establishment players.


FL-Gov: PPP has a big batch of Florida miscellany that includes improving job approval numbers for GOP Gov. Rick Scott. At 39-51, his rating certainly isn't good, but it's actually the best PPP's ever found for him. It also helps explain why Scott is just three points back of ex-Gov. Charlie Crist in a hypothetical 2014 matchup, 44-41. Still, those are hardly awesome numbers, though any time you talk about horserace polling this far in advance of an actual election, you're obligated to say, "that's a long time from now, so of course things could change." Also of note, the generic congressional ballot is unchanged, with Democrats up 45-44, vs. their 46-44 edge in June.


CT-05: With just days to go before the GOP primary, businesswoman Lisa Wilson-Foley came out with a positive, introductory-type ad in which she tries to brand herself a conservative. And it also underscores why Democrats would like anyone but state Sen. Andrew Roraback, the most candidate "moderate" in the Republican field, to win the nomination. Wilson-Foley specifically says she wants to "repeal Obamacare," which I don't think is going to be a winning message in a district like this. The other contenders for the nod are businessman Mark Greenberg (the fundraising leader on account of his own wallet) and Afghanistan vet Justin Bernier, both of whom ran here last time.

FL-06: With barely any time left before Tuesday's GOP primary, the American Dental Association is tossing in $41K on direct mail for one of their own, dentist Fred Costello, who also moonlights as a state legislator.

FL-09: I should have figured this one out myself, but hey, the Orlando Sentinel actually saw a copy of the mailer, so it's only fair they beat me to it. Oh, what am I talking about? Well, I've been scratching my head over IE reports for mailers from the House Majority PAC which indicate they've been attacking two Republicans in the FL-09 primary: John Quinones and Todd Long. The hits on Quinones made perfect sense, since he's the GOP establishment's preferred choice and Democrat Alan Grayson would rather not face him in November. But Long? He's the kind of weird, outsider candidate you dream of facing, so why go after him? Well, here's my "duh" moment:

In one mailer, there's a picture of Long, in front of the yellow "Don't Tread on Me" flag, with the headline: "Todd Long and his Tea Party allies will never compromise with President Obama for us."
Of course he won't! Todd Long is just too conservative—just like Todd Akin! Anyhow, point is, just because you see "Opposes Candidate: William T. Long" on an independent expenditure report, that doesn't mean the filer isn't rooting for that guy to actually win! P.S. Peter Schorsch of SaintPetersBlog has a copy of one of those HMP mailers going after Long. It may not be the exact same one the Sentinel is referring to (I don't see a Gadsden flag), but the message is similar.

FL-18: The super PAC American Sunrise is out with a second ad in the 18th District, this time a negative hit against GOP freshman Allen West. A caricature of the congressman wearing boxing gloves whales on various aggrieved constituencies (including an old lady) in cartoonish fashion—West "socked it to seniors" by voting to end Medicare. West of course is acting pissed off himself (claiming the ad is "reprehensible" and "plays on stereotypes"), which is a remarkable bit of chutzpah for someone who has never had a problem using violent, eliminationist rhetoric toward his own opponents. (And if you're curious about American Sunrise, their chief donor is Thomas Murphy, father of West's challenger, Democrat Patrick Murphy.)

GA-09: The Georgia runoffs are also close at hand, coming up on Aug. 21. Radio host Martha Zoller has a compare-and-contrast spot in the open 9th CD GOP primary, attacking state Rep. Doug Collins as a tax hiker (and for supporting something with the euphonious abbreviation of "T-SPLOST"), while referring to herself as a "conservative firebrand." Collins and Zoller finished neck-and-neck on primary night, with 42 and 41 percent of the vote respectively. Third-place finisher Roger Fitzpatrick, who took 17%, has said he won't endorse in the runoff.

GA-12: Here's another Georgia Republican runoff ad. State Rep. Lee Anderson (the guy whose campaign logo is a tractor) accuses his opponent, construction company owner Rick Allen, of bringing out "the manure spreader"—then goes ahead and attacks Allen for allegedly supporting various Democrats, including the guy they're both trying to beat in the fall, Rep. John Barrow. Allen also actually just survived a recount against the third-place finisher, Wright McLeod, even though the margin seemed to be in little doubt. Previously, Anderson scored the endorsement of Maria Sheffield, who brought up the rear on primary night in fourth place.

IL-08: At some point, there will come a day when we can all tune out Joe Walsh. But that day is not today. The Republican freshman, talking about Barack Obama at a recent barbecue:

"There's something different on the ground, and I think it's going to overtake us all again, think it's going to overtake the political class. I think it's going to respectfully pick this president up and pat him on the head and say, son, son, son, Mr. President, you were never ready to be president, now go home and work for somebody and find out how the real world works."
MN-08: The Minnesota Democratic Party, which is already spending $120K on TV ads to support ex-Rep. Rick Nolan in the primary, is throwing in another $20K on radio as well.

OH-14: Local Republican leaders have picked Geauga County Prosecutor David Joyce as their replacement for Rep. Steve LaTourette, who unexpectedly decided to retire at the end of last month. Unfortunately for Democrats, perennial candidate Dale Blanchard shows no sign of wanting to step aside so that Team Blue can field someone stronger. That would be a major disappointment in this evenly-split district that John McCain and Barack Obama both got 49% in.

PA-12: The DCCC is out with a poll of the race in PA-12, and interestingly, they're relying on Anzalone Liszt, who worked for Rep. Mark Critz's opponent in the Democratic primary, Rep. Jason Altmire. The results, though, are quite similar to Critz's own internals: This new poll shows him up 50-40 over Republican Keith Rothfus, while Critz's earlier June survey (from Global Strategy Group) also had him leading by 10, 46-36. The presidential toplines seem pretty reasonable, with Obama trailing Romney 51-42. (John McCain won by the same margin, 54-45.) Meanwhile, Sen. Bob Casey over Republican Tom Smith by a 51-43 spread. That's very similar to Critz's margin, and shows that Democrats are still able to outpace the president at the top of the ballot. It's also a sign that Smith will have an extremely hard time finding a way to beat Casey.

PA-18: This is a great voter suppression story:

A congressional candidate in Pennsylvania may not be able to vote for himself in the November elections, thanks to one of the country's most stringent voter ID laws.

Washington County Commission Chairman Larry Maggi's driver's license lists his full name as "Lawrence Owen Maggi," but his voter registration reads "Larry Maggi"—a small but significant discrepancy under Pennsylvania's new voter ID regulations. They require the name on the voter registration to "substantially conform" to the name on the driver's license.

The disparity in Maggi's names caught the attention of Pennsylvania's Department of State, which notified Maggi in an advisory letter, according to the Observer-Reporter.

RI-01: Moran of the day award: An intern working for Republican Brendan Doherty's campaign tried to punk Dem Rep. David Cicilline's campaign in some unspecified manner, calling them up and asking for "campaign stuff," then showing up in person to—who knows what? help himself to a giant stack of yard signs, then pitch them into Narragansett Bay? Well, this young doofball certainly earned his stripes, because when he phoned Cicilline's office, he was calling from Doherty HQ—and of course the number came up on called ID. That gave Cicilline's people time to set up a video camera to bust this kid when he walked in the door. Ah, love it when the punker becomes the punkee.

Grab Bag:

YG Action Fund (PDF): The YG Action Fund, a conservative outside-spending group tied to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, has made $5.5 million in TV ad reservations for the fall, in a dozen different House races. They provided a breakdown by market to Politico, which you can view at the link.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Hirono for Senate and Daily Kos.

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