• ND-Sen: After mashing a few eggs into their own face, then receiving a firm kick in the shins from their intended victim, Crossroads GPS is back up with a new (and entirely different) ad attacking Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, seeing as their last one got pulled off the air for blatant falsehoods. I'm thinking this one won't fare any better. Crossroads now tries to accuse Heitkamp of engaging in "pay-to-play" while she was state AG, claiming she received campaign contributions from a Rhode Island attorney, Jack McConnell, who performed work for the state in a large, multi-state tobacco lawsuit.
There's a big problem, though: McConnell didn't receive a penny in compensation from North Dakota. (He represented other states in the matter on contingency, but evidently he included the Peace Garden State pro bono.) What's more, all this nonsense came up last year, too, when McConnell was nominated by President Obama to serve as a federal court judge. He was confirmed, too—and do you really think Senate Republicans, who never have any problem blocking judicial nominees on the barest pretext—would have let McConnell's appointment go through if this "pay to play" bullshit were real? I know this will sound crazy, but it's almost like Karl Rove is a compulsive liar or something.
• AZ-Sen: Check it out: GOP Rep. Jeff Flake is going all Newt '94: "Department of Education?" ponders Flake in a recent news clip. "If we could eliminate that completely, I would do so."
• FL-Sen, VA-Sen: The US Chamber of Commerce is out with two new very similar ads attacking a pair of Democrats, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson and Virginia Senate hopeful Tim Kaine, accusing them of being the pawns of "union bosses." The Kaine ad is backed by a $257K buy, Nelson $162K.
• HI-Sen: This new ad from Linda Lingle annoyed me from the get-go. "Do the math," demands the announcer. Hell no! You cannot make me do any math! Get bent, teach!
• IN-Sen: Though it doesn't get polled quite so often, Indiana's Senate race is starting to look a lot like Virginia's: the numbers are very tight, and fall within the same general range, every time. And that's certainly the story with two new polls that were just released on Thursday. The first one, from the Dem-aligned Majority PAC and Center Forward, courtesy Garin-Hart-Yang, shows Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly leading Republican Treasurer Richard Mourdock 45-43. The second is from the other side of the aisle, conducted by Market Research Insight for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, but paints almost the same picture, with Mourdock up 41-39. I really do wish both of these survey releases included presidential toplines, though.
• NV-Sen: Patriot Majority USA is reupping the buy for their most recent ad (launched about a week ago) targeting GOP Sen. Dean Heller on Medicare and taxes, to the tune of $239K. That roughly doubles their total spend to air the spot.
• OH-Sen: I know that micro-targeting, and adapting your message (and medium) to fit your niche audience, is all the rage these days, but Republican candidate Josh Mandel may have taken this to a new level, reportedly adopting a previously-unheard Southern accent while stumping with Mitt Romney in Beallsville, located near the West Virginia border in the state's Appalachian southeast. Mandel is from the Cleveland area; New York magazine helpfully has compare-and-contrast videos of the Beallsville appearance and a speech in the different part of the state. (A commenter there gets in the best zinger: "Maybe his voice was changing because he's finally going through puberty.") (David Jarman)
• PA-Sen: Many pollsters seem to have their own little quirks, and Franklin & Marshall has one of the most distinctive ones: credible-looking margins but huge, huge numbers of undecideds. Their topline in the Pennsylvania Senate race is a freakishly low 35-23 advantage for Dem Sen. Bob Casey over Tom Smith (the race was 42-21 in June). Their screening question (their emphasis) is "Are you absolutely CERTAIN you will vote FOR [candidate] in the election, or are you still making up your mind?" Maybe the heavy emphasis their callers put on the capitalized words serves to stir more doubts in respondents than with other pollsters? However, even when they allocate the non-CERTAIN! respondents, that moves up to only 43-28 for Casey, which is still pretty, um, uncertain. Presidential toplines are 44-38 in Barack Obama's favor, and they also find continued unpopularity for GOP Gov. Tom Corbett, who's at 32/42 favorables.
Meanwhile, Smith is out with a new ad; it's a boilerplate negative piece against Casey that's unlikely to stand out from the clutter, although one line does stand out, that the "failed stimulus" paid for "jobs in China." (Of course, that claim is bogus.) (David Jarman)
• VA-Sen: Majority PAC and the League of Conservation Voters are teaming up on what they're calling a $1.6 million ad campaign to go after Republican George Allen and fight back against Karl Rove and the Chamber of Commerce. There are two spots (both available at the link) that are very similar: One attacks Allen for voting for "special tax breaks for oil and gas companies"; the other says he voted for "billions in special tax breaks for companies that move our jobs overseas."
• WI-Sen: I've long maintained Tommy Thompson is rusty and carries baggage, and just days after winning the GOP nomination, he's already given us proof of both. From a press conference held at a campaign event:
"When I was governor and I was employed [by] the people of the State of Wisconsin, I released my tax returns, but I've been in the business world, and the question is, 'Am I going to release my tax returns?’ The answer is 'no'. No. The answer is 'N-O.' What part don’t you understand?"He sounds both crotchety and like he has something to hide—just the way I like 'em.
• AZ-06: Super PAC National Horizon keeps going after Rep. Ben Quayle, shelling out another $63K on TV ads—I'm guessing it's still their "Prince Ben" spot—to keep him from winning the GOP primary. (Quayle seems pretty doomed anyway.) All told, the group's now spent over $172K on this effort.
• FL-26: If the campaign of bogus "Democrat" Justin Lamar Sternad does indeed get tied back to GOP Rep. David Rivera, then the already ethically-embattled incumbent could be in for even more trouble. The Miami Herald spoke with the owner of a print shop—which just coincidentally also does work for Rivera—who says that Sternad spent up to $30,000 on mailers before Tuesday's primary... but the big honking problem here is that Sternad didn't disclose any of this on his FEC reports. (Indeed, the mailhouse operator said Sternad paid in cash.)
Also, I've mentioned this before, but Sternad claims his campaign manager is one Ana Alliegro, who just so happens to be Rivera's on-again/off-again girlfriend, and describes herself on her Twitter account as "Republican Political Guru and Conservative Bad Girl!". Alliegro hasn't been returning phone calls from the press, and even told reporter Marc Caputo on Twitter to "kiss mine, too." Hinky doesn't begin to describe. Fortunately, Sternad's attempts to damage Joe Garcia (his only reason for being in the race) were for naught, since Garcia handily won the primary with 53%.
• IL-08: The CREDO super PAC has a new poll out from PPP showing tea party freshman Joe Walsh about exactly where you'd expect him to be: Democrat Tammy Duckworth is beating him 50-41. Walsh's favorables are a little higher than I'd have thought, though, at 39-44. Unfortunately, the release doesn't seem to include presidential toplines.
• IL-10: Here's a second Illinois House poll, this time from GQR on behalf of the House Majority PAC and SEIU. GOP freshman Bob Dold! is tied with Democrat Brad Schneider at 46 apiece, though the polling memo is slim and doesn't offer any other details except for the results of an informed ballot test.
• MI-01: With all the political ads we've already seen, it's easy to forget that the House committees haven't been playing at all, until this week. Well, that changed Thursday, with the DCCC's first independent-expenditure ad, and befitting the close polling that we've seen in that race, they're starting in Michigan's 1st, where GOP frosh Dan Benishek faces a rematch against Dem Gary McDowell. They hit Benishek on—what else, given what's been in the news this week?—Medicare, but without mentioning Paul Ryan by name (though they do say "he voted to essentially end Medicare" and citing the oft-mentioned "$6,400 more" figure). Luckily for them, Benishek has supplied enough on-the-record ammunition on Medicare that they can let him do the talking for himself, instead of trying to tie him to Ryan. (David Jarman)
• MI-11: The most natural reaction to finding out about Republican ex-Rep. Thad McCotter's loosey-goosey attitude toward signature-gathering in 2012 (especially in the context of finding out that he was spending most of his time writing a bad sitcom pilot) was that it was evidence of his having lost interest in serving in the House. New evidence, though, suggests that this has been a pattern and practice for McCotter over the previous few cycles.
A look back at 2008 and 2010 petitions found many of the same techniques that got McCotter's staffers in trouble this time; in 2008, for instance, it turns out that 67 of the 177 pages of petitions were either flat-out photocopies or else doctored by cutting and pasting new dates onto 2006 petitions. (While the state's SoS office found the 2012 problems, somehow this escaped their attention the previous cycles.) And here's an interesting bit of trivia: the person who noticed the problems with the previous-years' petitions was local political consultant Mark Grebner, the same eagle-eyed spotter who was the first to blow the whistle on pollster Research 2000. (David Jarman)
• NH-01, -02 (PDF): New Hampshire's two congressional races have probably been some of the most poll House contests this cycle, by virtue of the fact that both PPP and UNH like to test them both whenever they conduct a statewide survey. Earlier this week, we saw some numbers from PPP which had both Democrats leading by four points; now we have some UNH results which differ slightly—though the samples are very tiny in both cases (under 300, which is really unacceptably small). In NH-01, UNH has Carol Shea-Porter up 45-43 over GOP Rep. Frank Guinta, while in NH-02, GOP Rep. Charlie Bass leads Annie Kuster 42-37. Still, this polling also points toward "Tossup" status for both races.
• NY-18: The Independence Party line is probably the most coveted of the various third-party ballot lines in New York's fusion-voting framework—at least in upstate swing districts—though it's pretty rare for getting or losing the IP line to actually make or break a candidate. Still, Republican freshman Nan Hayworth is probably in for a close race against Sean Patrick Maloney, so it's worth noting that she's not getting the IP line in 2012 (where she got more than 5,000 votes in 2010). An appellate court just affirmed a lower court decision that a signature-gathering screwup invalidated Hayworth's efforts to get on the IP line. (David Jarman)
• RI-01: This Dave Weigel piece makes the case that if there's a contest where the Paul Ryan VP pick may save a Dem it's here, where nationalizing the race takes the focus off Dem Rep. David Cicilline's baggage left over from his time as Providence mayor. The main reason to read the piece, though, is running commentary Weigel gets about the race from the always-quotable Buddy Cianci, including:
People like to talk about dishonesty. Whether it’s right or wrong, they blame Cicilline for the budget, and he’s polling lower than whale shit.(David Jarman)