• NRCC: Underscoring that upstate New York will be a key area in deciding control of the House this year, the NRCC announced big ad reservations in four races, totaling $3.5 million. That includes $1.03 million backing super-vulnerable Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle in the 24th and $1.3 million boosting somewhat less vulnerable Chris Gibson in the 19th, as well as $757K and $574K going after Dems Bill Owens and Kathy Hochul in the 21st and 27th, respectively. That's not all, though: The NRCC made another eight reservations, in addition to the four in New York. They're doing $902K in the open AZ-01, $357K against Dem Bruce Braley in IA-01, $719K against David Loebsack in IA-02, $392K for Steve King in IA-04, $734K for Bobby Schilling in IL-17, $831K against Mike McIntyre in NC-07, $1.14 mil for Charlie Bass in NH-02, and $1.13 mil for Quico Canseco in TX-23.
And on a related note, I know you've been eagerly anticipating the links to the actual ads for the NRCC's first four independent expenditure (IE) buys in GA-12, NC-07, KY-06, and PA-12... so here they are.
• AZ-Sen: Here's a bit of good news out of Arizona, where the primary is coming up, meaning that pre-primary reports were due with the FEC on Aug. 8. Dem Richard Carmona actually has a smidge more cash on hand than his likely GOP opponent, Jeff Flake, ahead $1.75 million to $1.71 million. Flake raised more during the period, but he's also having to spend more since he still has a competitive primary against Wil Cardon (though the likely-to-lose Cardon seems to be wrapping it up early).
• FL-Sen: Rasmussen seems to figure that zigging when everybody else is zagging is the best way to fight off those pesky claims of bias. Their new poll of the Florida Senate race finds Democrat Bill Nelson leading Republican Connie Mack IV 47-40, one of Nelson's best margins in months. That comes after last month's poll put Mack ahead 46-37... a 16-point reversal of fortune.
• MA-Sen: Elizabeth Warren's latest TV ad is a feel-good compendium of news clips and man-on-the-street testimonials all touting her 'fighting for the middle class' bona fides.
• ND-Sen: I'm not sure which Republican media team is having a worse time in North Dakota, in terms of getting called out for crossing the blatant BS line... the crack team at Crossroads, or Rick Berg's own campaign. Berg has had to ask three local TV stations to stop running an ad featuring a testimonial from a YWCA board member, which the YWCA demanded get taken down because it looked like an endorsement from them. Berg's response was merely to issue the same ad except with a fine-print disclaimer saying it was merely a personal endorsement, which on Wednesday the state's largest paper called "unethical" in an editorial (which in turn probably caused Berg to back down and pull it altogether). At any rate, Berg's team is claiming it was time for that ad to disappear anyway, as they're starting to roll out another regularly-scheduled new ad, this one touting his work on behalf of a veteran.
• NV-Sen (PDF): Here's something we haven't seen in a while (since December 2011, to be precise): a poll with Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley in the lead in the Nevada Senate race, with a 44-42 edge over GOP incumbent Dean Heller. One caveat: it's an internal on behalf of the DSCC, from Garin-Hart-Yang. But, things look copacetic in the fine print: Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney 49-44 in the presidential race, and the D/R breakdown in the poll is 42/38, consistent with the 41/37 spread in the latest SoS's report.
• OH-Sen: Sherrod Brown's campaign's newest ad is a hit on Josh Mandel, but at least it's kind of bright and peppy instead of the usual dark colors and voice-of-doom narration like the usual negative ad. That's partly thanks to the subject matter, though: Mandel's little junket down to the Bahamas on behalf of the payday lending industry.
• VA-Sen: Democrat Tim Kaine has lots of cash and is leaving nothing to chance, so he's shelling out another $1 million in early reservations for fall advertising time (bringing his total reservations to $4.5 mil). Interestingly $250K of that new reservation is for Spanish-language media; you might not initially think of Virginia as being a state with a large Latino population, but it's up to 8% Hispanic in the most recent Census, nearly doubled over the last decade, with much of that population inside the Beltway.
• WI-Sen: Rasmussen seems to figure that zigging when everybody else is zagging is the best way to fight off those pesky claims of bias. Their new poll of the Wisconsin Senate race finds Republican Tommy Thompson leading Democrat Tammy Baldwin 54-43, one of Thompson's best margins in months. That comes after last month's poll put Baldwin ahead 48-41... an 18-point reversal of fortune.
Meanwhile, we have two new ads from Team Blue in Wisconsin. Tammy Baldwin's campaign is out with one of those awkward mix & match ads that's half talking about her accomplishments, then after an abrupt gearshift in the music and narration, half hitting Tommy Thompson for wanting to raise taxes. Wisconsin Women Vote! (the IE arm for EMILY's List) meanwhile offers a pure negative spot detailing what Thompson has been up to in his years since being Governor (working as a corporate lobbyist, in other words).
• FL-Gov (?): This is certainly an odd ad, one that may say more about Charlie Crist's potential future running for Governor again than about his current job (lawyer/commercial pitchman for a local plaintiff-side law firm). It's a 30-second ad for his firm, Morgan & Morgan; there are no questions about "have you been injured?" but only requests you "thank a teacher today."
• NH-Gov: Here's a way to break through the clutter: fill your ad with zombies stumbling around, instead of the usual stock footage and newspaper headlines. It's the distinctive and humorous opening ad from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jackie Cilley, and the zombies are "pledge zombies," in other words, candidates who are abiding by the "no-tax pledge" that has a hold on both parties in New Hampshire. The "pledge" is a long-time standard in NH politics, one that not just the Republican candidates in the race but also Cilley's Democratic opponent, Maggie Hassan, are honoring. While Cilley hasn't specifically called for creating an income tax, in the ad (once she's beaten back the zombies) she reiterates her case for having an "adult conversation" on the issue instead of just reflexively rejecting it.
• CA-26, NY-18: The Dem-backing House Majority PAC is wading right into the nation's two most expensive media markets, although they must think they have a good shot in both districts to make that kind of investment. They're reserving $1 million in the LA market on behalf of Julia Brownley in the 26th, and $1.2 million in the NYC market on behalf of Sean Patrick Maloney. These are just reservations, so no link to the ads yet.
• NC-07: On Thursday we saw the first independent expenditure ad from one of the House committees (the DCCC), with the expectation that their counterparts at the NRCC would be joining the battle momentarily. And here they are, rolling out IE ads in four of the reddest districts with Dem incumbents. The Raleigh News & Observer, however, points out that the NC-07 buy is very small, $27,600... a little better than pure "video press release" but not much better.
The Wilmington-based 7th is clearly going to be one of the epicenters of the House ad wars, as it's the scene of the DCCC's second IE ad, shoring up incumbent Mike McIntyre. Like their MI-01 ad from last week, it takes full advantage of the new focus on Paul Ryan's budget to hit Republican David Rouzer on Medicare (again invoking "essentially ending Medicare" and "more than $6,000" without actually mentioning Ryan by name). And on top of that, McIntyre's out with his campaign's first ad, a 60-second spot that he narrates himself, re-introducing himself and talking vaguely about values.
• NY-17: The race in the Dem-leaning 17th is pretty low on most observer's watch lists, with the caveat that Republican candidate Joe Carvin is a hedge fund manager in his spare time and has self-funded to the tune of at least $1 million. Using that advantage, he's hitting the airwaves with the race's first ad. It's a fairly generic ad with 15 seconds of hitting Dem incumbent Nita Lowey (using the most unflattering picture they could possibly find) and 15 seconds of reference to his own tax-cutting skills as Rye Town Supervisor.
• PA-12: Keith Rothfus is out with a new ad that (at least I think) is trying to be humorous about the usual "regular guy" cliches that lame introductory bio ads traffic in, playing mock-heroic music and using oversized text onscreen to highlight the regular-guy things that he does. (He does throw in a dig at Obamacare toward the end, just to let you know he's a Republican regular guy.)
• House: In case you like looking at long lists of House districts (where the latest round of robocalls is going out) just as much as I do, they've got a good one at Politico's Morning Score. It's the 42 districts where Republican establishment groups Congressional Leadership Fund and YG Action Fund that tries to hit Dems on Medicare (interestingly, trying to muddy the waters even more by using the Dem talking point of "ending Medicare as we know it" in reference to the $700 billion in Medicare "cuts" that they usually harp on). Most of the districts are no surprise, but just as with the DCCC robocalls last week, the list includes the previously unheralded OH-10 and PA-07, so maybe there is indeed something going on in those two races.
• Media: Congratulations to Jon Ralston, one of our favorite state-level political reporters; after more than a decade with the Las Vegas Sun, he's leaving that paper and setting up shop at his own website.
• RNC: The Republican National Committee is the first of the big 6 committees to report its July numbers: they raised $37.7 million in July, leaving them with $88.7 million cash on hand.
• Voter Suppression: You're probably aware that Ohio's Republican SoS just moved to cut down on early voting hourse... but a similar move in Florida just got struck down by a federal court. What does Florida have that Ohio doesn't? Section 5 of the VRA, that's what. The cut, by the Republican-controlled state legislature from 12 early voting days to 8, can't apply in Florida's five preclearance counties, because it has a disparate impact on black voters (who use early voting more than white voters).
• Maryland Redistricting: The Maryland Democrats' court challenge to a proposed referendum on the state's redistricting map seemed a bit of longshot, and, indeed, on Friday the state supreme court rejected the challenge. That means that the referendum, which seeks to roll back the map developed by the Dem-controlled state legislature, will appear on the November ballot. (Even if it gets struck down by referendum, that won't stop the current map from applying to this year's election, and it also gives the state Dems a chance to draw a map with the same 7-1 effect but cleaner-looking lines.) The Dems' challenge focused on the fact that signatures were solicited online, allegedly an invitation to fraud, although the procedure involved printing out a form and mailing it in.