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Leading Off:

NV-04: Danny Tarkanian has really stepped in it. Last week, the Republican congressional hopeful and borderline perennial candidate told the Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial board that he thought he could connect to the African-American community in the district because of a basketball academy runs; a number of local Democrats didn't like those remarks because they felt Tark was relying on stereotypes about blacks. So in his "defense," Tarkanian told a group of Republicans:

"Should we not work within the black community? We could be like Steven Horsford who's not doing anything with that community and, you know, pretend we're black and maybe try to get some votes if that's where it is."
So Tarkanian accused his Democratic opponent, who is African-American, of "pretending to be black"... and he's not apologizing, either. Somehow I don't think this is going to end well for Li'l Tark. And indeed, Tuesday wound up being a whole lot more painful. As you may know, Tarkanian and his family were hit with a $17 million judgment back in May over a failed loan that they'd guaranteed. At the time, it was clear Tark would never have the means to pay, and I speculated that he'd have to file for bankruptcy if the judgment stood.

Well, no surprise: Tarkanian's now begging the judge to issue a stay of his ruling while he appeals, admitting that he'd be driven "to financial insolvency" and would be "possibly forced into bankruptcy" if the judgment is executed as-is. If Tark does have to file for Chapter 11 in the middle of a campaign, especially over a sum so large, how could he possibly hope to win?

Senate:

HI-Sen: Hah, seriously? I guess Republican ex-Gov. Linda Lingle has no choice but to go dumpster-diving for those elusive Obama-Lingle voters, but posting a pic of her with the POTUS on her Facebook page is so comically transparent.

MO-Sen: Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill is keeping up the pressure on Todd Akin, launching her third negative ad since he won the GOP primary. This spot centers around a Akin clip that featured in one of her earlier ads, where he compared student loans to "stage three cancer." (Full quote: "America has got the equivalent of stage three cancer of socialism.) Akin's finally firing back with a hit of his own, a kitchen sink affair that furiously tries to cram in every possible attack on McCaskill: "deciding vote" on Obamacare, the "cut Medicare" lie, and also the airplane taxes issue.

P.S. Here's the IE report from the DSCC for their new anti-Akin ad. The buy was for a reported $1 million or so, while the report reflects an expenditure of $488K. It's quite common for large airtime purchases to get spread over multiple reports, though.

MT-Sen: The Montana Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association (yes, that's a thing) has a new "issue" ad out attacking Dem Sen. Jon Tester for allegedly supporting higher debit card swipe fees. Meanwhile, in another new spot, GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg ignores Tester entirely and attacks President Obama over his notorious "the private sector is doing fine" line.

NH-Sen: PPP also tested freshman Dem Sen. Jeanne Shaheen against a generic Republican opponent in 2014 in their new New Hampshire poll. She's doing pretty well, up 51-42, very close to her 50-40 job approval rating, though of course those numbers rely on a 2012 likely voter universe.

NM-Sen: The coalition of environmental groups backing Dem Rep. Martin Heinrich's candidacy is out with an internal poll from FM3 showing Heinrich with a sizable 50-41 lead over Republican Heather Wilson. That's up from a 48-45 edge in May from the same pollster (though I think those numbers were previously unreleased). The polling memo is a little more detailed that unusual and even includes results for some message testing-type questions, so click through if you'd like more.

NV-Sen: Dem Rep. Shelley Berkley's trying to turn the tables on ethical attacks against her, accusing GOP Sen. Dean Heller of letting a Nevada diamond company get away with some penny-stock scam. I don't think the ad is very effective or clear, and as this local news report explains, it rests on a very questionable assertion, namely, that Heller had any kind of investigative authority over the company when he served as Secretary of State. (The answer is basically no.)

OH-Sen: Despite the enormous sums of money that conservative third-party groups have thrown into ads attacking Dem Sen. Sherrod Brown (we're closing in on $12 million now), his lead over Josh Mandel in PPP's latest poll has only increased. The incumbent now tops his challenger 47-37, up from 46-39 back in late June. Mandel's favorables really suck: He's mired at 26% positive and 42% negative. As Tom Jensen says, "You'd be hard pressed to find a serious Senate candidate in the country this year with worse favorability numbers than those." Also of note, Obama retains his three-point edge over Romney, 48-45 (it was 47-44 last time). And this is despite PPP switching from a registered voter model to a likely voter model, a switch many feared would start yielding more pro-GOP results.

Gubernatorial:

IN-Gov: Democrat John Gregg is out with his first ad, in which he decries political ads in general, then talks about some friends of his who like to hang out together. He also refers to himself as "the guy with two first names running for governor." Take that, one-first-name Mike Pence!

House:

AZ-04: The dentists are coming! The dentists are coming! Seldom shy about helping one of their fellow tooth-yankers, the American Dental Association is trying to prevent dentist/congressman Paul Gosar from getting root-canaled in the GOP primary with $24K in direct mail.

CA-18: It's another congressional resignation by a dude who long ago said he wouldn't seek re-election: Dem Rep. Dennis Cardoza is pulling the plug, effective midnight Wednesday. Cardoza explained:

"In light of the fact that nothing is going to happen for the rest of the year, and in light of the fact that (my wife) and I are facing increasing parenting challenges, this seemed the right time to make this move."
The Sacramento Bee says that no special election will be held due to the late timing of Cardoza's announcement. And Cardoza already has a new job, joining lobbying firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips as a managing director. I guess that's what he meant when he said: "I'm not leaving my service to the Valley. I'll just be doing it from a different venue."

FL-18: GOP Rep. Allen West slams Democrat Patrick Murphy in his new ad, attacking Murphy over another ad being aired by a super PAC funded mostly by Murphy's father. Conservatives have exploded in fury, charging that the ad is racist.

KY-06: Both sides are out with their first ads in the KY-06 rematch. First up is Republican Andy Barr, whose wife narrates a positive spot about the birth of their daughter—no special story here, just the fact that they had a kid last year. Meanwhile, Dem Rep. Ben Chandler goes the anti-spending route, saying "I’ve always been of the belief if you spend more than you take in, you're going to go broke" and touting his vote in favor of a balanced budget amendment. We have the size of the buy for both candidates: Chandler is spending $50K while Barr is spending $82K on TV and $20K on radio and online.

MA-Sen: The League of Conservation Voters had spent a little over $10K on various miscellaneous expenses in the Massachusetts Senate race, but this is the first time they've ever shelled out real money, with $63K on "field campaign consulting" targeting GOP Sen. Scott Brown. That's still not a ton, but the agreement between Brown and Elizabeth Warren that effectively blocks third parties from running ads here means that outside groups are mostly limited to field work.

MI-11: Former state Sen. Nancy Cassis got smoked in her bid to win the GOP nomination via write-in last week but she's still forging ahead with plans to run in the special election for the final two months of ex-Rep. Thad McCotter's term. It doesn't really sound like her heart is in it (most telling: she "pointed to previous campaign efforts when asked about ongoing attempts to raise her profile"), and in any event, there's a special primary on Sept. 5 she'd have to win first. I suppose that whoever fills out this stub term might have a leg up in terms of challenging the winner of the full term in 2014, but Cassis would be 70 by then.

ND-AL: Democratic ex-state Rep. Pam Gulleson, who faces Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer for this open seat, is out with her first ad. It's a positive introductory spot that focuses on her agricultural roots (she still runs a family farm today).

NH-01, NH-02: Looks like we'll have a lot of New Hampshire polling from PPP this week. In addition to their own in-house survey, they conducted a poll of the Granite State for DFA as well, and the House numbers continue to look good for Democrats. In the 1st, Carol Shea-Porter leads GOP Rep. Frank Guinta 48-44, basically unchanged from PPP's May poll when she was up 47-44. And in the 2nd, Annie Kuster has also legged out to four-point edge over Rep. Charlie Bass, 47-43; last time, they were tied at 42 apiece. The poll also has Obama up 50-44 over Romney statewide.

There's a second new NH-01 poll out as well, from the DCCC by way of Grove Insight. The spread is quite similar to PPP's, with CSP beating Guinta 45-39. I can't think of a lot of incumbents who would like to be at 39% in any poll, nor saddled with a 35-57 job approval rating, as Guinta is. If he has any internal polling of his own that tells a different story, it's well past time to cough it up.

Meanwhile, Kuster is out with her first ad of the cycle. It's a positive introductory spot in which she says she learned about "frugal Yankee values" from her parents, who "were Republican when we were growing up." Based on that theme, she sets herself up as someone willing to be bipartisan, which I expect will serve as a hook to later messages that try to paint Bass as a GOP hack.

NY-25: I think this falls into the category of "shit you're not supposed to actually say out loud." NY GOP chair Ed Cox on Dem Rep. Louise Slaughter:

COX: "Louise Slaughter, she's going to have a hard time carrying on a campaign.... Because of age and infirmities. She's just has a hard time."

LIZ: "So you think she's too old to be in Congress?"

COX: "I think there comes a time for members of Congress when they, the public senses they're no longer effectively representing them for a variety of reasons."

LIZ: "How old was (the late former Senator) Strom Thurmond? How old is too old?"

COX: "It's a question of being effective. It's a question of being infirm, frankly, and being able to carry out your duties."

Slaughter just turned 83 and suffered a bad fall which required extensive rehab earlier this year. But no one's questioned her mental sharpness, and I think Cox is going to regret calling her "infirm."

Grab Bag:

17: What's with that lead-in tag? Am I missing a state in front of it? Nope: It's a reference to the seventeenth amendment to the United States Constitution—one which a surprisingly large number of Republican Senate candidates seem intent on repealing. Not that it'll ever happen, but it's comically amusing because these guys want to eliminate direct elections for the very posts they're running for! It's also, of course, an extremely non-mainstream view, and Roll Call's Niels Lesniewski does a nice job cataloging exactly which GOPers are hewing to it this cycle, thus showing their true colors. In the previous Digest, we mentioned that Jeff Flake in Arizona is an adherent, but Pete Hoekstra (Michigan), Richard Mourdock (Indiana), and Todd Akin (Missouri) are all at least seventeenther-curious if not fully on board. Lesniewski also helpfully provides some background on the amendment, which was ratified in 1913 at the heyday of the original progressive movement, in an effort to root out corruption.

DCCC: Attack of the killer (or at least dinner-interrupting) robots! The DCCC has launched a wave of robocalls in 50 different districts. I can't say the overall list of districts (or the call's contents—the Ryan plan, in case you didn't guess) are terribly interesting, but sometimes it's worth taking a deep dive into these mega-lists to see if there are any districts that stand out. And this time, there are: On the one hand, fewer than 10 of the 50 are races where Dems are playing defense, which is good news in itself. But while most of the defensive seats are no surprise (NC-07, PA-12, etc.), one stands out: it's IA-02 (Dave Loebsack), a Dem-leaning seat that nobody has really thought of as being in much peril (we have it at Likely Dem). Did the DCCC get an internal they didn't like there? On the flip side, though, there's a handful of offense races that you wouldn't expect to see either (that we have rated as Safe Republican): FL-13 (Bill Young), OH-10 (Mike Turner), and PA-07 (Pat Meehan). (David Jarman)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Wed Aug 15, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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