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Leading Off:

MI-11: The race for ex-Rep. Thad McCotter's now-vacant House seat must be setting off Geiger counters, because it seems neither major party wants to touch the candidates they've nominated. I don't know what the D-Trip's beef with Syed Taj is, but he's notably been left off even their broadest lists (like "DCCC robocalls target 50 Republicans over Medicare" or what have you). Kerry Bentivolio, though, keeps turning even more toxic by the day:

On the first day of school last year, Kerry Bentivolio told students in his English class at Fowlerville High School that he had one goal: to make each one of them cry at least once.

Bentivolio, now the Republican candidate in Michigan's 11th Congressional District—which includes western Wayne and Oakland counties—also told the students that they were "just a paycheck to me," according to a description of incidents in his personnel file.

Much, much more at the link, including the fact that Bentivolio was reprimanded for "intimidating and threatening students by grabbing their desks and yelling in their faces or for slamming his fists on their desks" and then later claimed that the allegations were false and "politically motivated." The saga (which lasted throughout the school year) ended in June with Bentivolio's resignation under pressure. You'd think with a record like this, it'd be worth the Democrats' trouble to try to steal a win here, no? (h/t: RBH)

Senate:

CT-Sen: Rasmussen: Chris Murphy (D): 46, Linda McMahon (R): 49.

MT-Sen: The DSCC's second Montana ad uses a notorious clip of wealthy GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg saying his family's been "struggling like everyone else" as a hook to attacking him for voting to raise his own pay five times, and voting against a minimum wage increase 10 times. (According to his personal financial disclosure forms, Rehberg's net worth is likely into the eight figures.)

MT-Sen: Rasmussen: Jon Tester (D-inc): 43 (47), Denny Rehberg (R): 47 (49).

NV-, ND-Sen: The conservative American Future Fund's new Nevada ad hits Dem Rep. Shelley Berkley on a familiar theme, ethical issues regarding the kidney transplant center she saved. AFF also has another spot going after Heidi Heitkamp for supporting Obamacare. Politico sez the Nevada buy is for $472K, North Dakota for $163K.

WI-Sen: The first two polls of Wisconsin's Senate race after last week's primary both show Republican Tommy Thompson leading Democrat Tammy Baldwin. PPP has Thompson up by 5, while Marquette has Thompson up by 9—but it was actually PPP, not Marquette, which saw Mitt Romney doing better in the presidential race. Click through for all the numbers, as well as our full analysis, at Daily Kos Elections. (David Jarman)

WI-Sen: I like this new Tammy Baldwin ad a lot. The spot hammers Republican ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson over his refusal to release his tax returns, using recent footage of Thompson barking "N-O" at reporters who dared to ask for them. EMILY's List is also running a new ad that also features clips of Thompson—and remarkably, they're from one of Thompson's own commercials! You may remember that ridiculous spot Thompson ran during the primary featuring his own bad self riding a motorcycle—well, that's exactly what EMILY uses, in portraying Thompson as a pol who "left Wisconsin" (on his chopper, natch) and went Washington. EMILY's ad is backed by a hefty $652K buy.

Gubernatorial:

IN-Gov: LOVE this new ad from Democrat John Gregg ("the guy with two first names running for governor"), which features him down at "Carol's Clip 'n' Curl beauty shop" explaining that the women there "don't wanna hear anymore from Mike Pence." Hilariously, the customers are all having their hair dried under those giant, old-school blowers, so they can't hear a word Gregg says even when he yells at them, "Right, ladies?"—and then, later, "Right, MOM?" Gregg cites Pence's votes against equal pay for women and, interestingly, his vote to defund Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings, which is not necessarily the sort of message you'd expect to see in a state this red. Gregg stage whispers at the end, "They don't wanna hear about it again!" One of my favorite ads so far this cycle, no question.

MT-Gov: A DGA front group called Montana Jobs, Education and Technology PAC (JET PAC, har har) is out with a new ad slamming Republican ex-Rep. Rick Hill as a lobbyist, DC insider, and insurance industry exec—an encapsulation of all the reasons that make him "wrong for Montana." No word on the size of the buy, but the DGA recently seeded JET PAC's coffers with half a million bucks.

House:

AZ-02: Republican Martha McSally's new internal poll (from OnMessage) strikes me as nothing but awful news for her. If you just looked at the margin and saw that Dem Rep. Ron Barber leads her by five points, you might think she has a shot. The problem—and it's a serious one—is that Barber's at 50 and she's at 45. So even if this poll is accurate, how is she supposed to win with only 5% undecided and the incumbent already at 50? And if anything, these numbers are probably tilted toward here—there are no presidential toplines to offer a sanity check. The real tell will be whether the NRCC or other outside GOP groups spend here, but I suspect they can read a poll better than McSally can.

AZ-06: National Horizon really seems to enjoy tweaking GOP Rep. Ben Quayle in exactly the way you'd want to, too, if you had your own super PAC. Their latest ad mocks him as a "lightweight" for repeatedly mis-stating the size of the annual federal budget, then finishes with a flourish that any fans of Quayle's pops will surely enjoy. Quayle's buddies are also helping him out, though: Friends of the Majority is throwing in another $230K on ads attacking his primary opponent, Rep. David Schweikert. All told, the group has spent almost $600K on his behalf.

AZ-09: With the primary less than a week away, EMILY's List is coming in with a tiny, last-minute TV buy for Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. They actually spent more on production costs—$17K—than on broadcasting it (just $14K). Considering that the ad, a generic positive spot, uses nothing but still photos and title cards that look like they were generated in WordPad, I don't really understand why it cost so much, either.

In other primary news, Sinema—for the first time publicly, I believe—is accusing opponent Andrei Cherny of engaging in a whisper-type smear campaign regarding her sexuality. (Sinema is bisexual.) Sinema, however, didn't offer anything in the way of proof or corroboration, and Cherny denies the allegations. On a more meta level, I have to wonder why she'd bring something like this up so late in the game, especially given its potential to backfire. (Lots of Cherny supporters rushed to his defense over the charges.) Does it mean the race is tight?

FL-26: The "Lamar!" story just keeps getting crazier:

Fueled with $43,000 in secret money, Republican Rep. David Rivera helped run a shadow campaign that might have broken federal laws in last week's Democratic primary against his political nemesis Joe Garcia, according to campaign sources and finance records.

As part of the effort, a political unknown named Justin Lamar Sternad campaigned against Garcia by running a sophisticated mail campaign that Rivera helped orchestrate and fund, campaign vendors said.

Among the revelations: The mailers were often paid in envelopes stuffed with crisp hundred-dollar bills.

Rivera and Sternad have denied working together in his campaign, which ended Aug. 14. But Hugh Cochran, president of Campaign Data, told The Herald this week that Rivera contacted him in July and requested he create a list of voters who were ultimately targeted in the 11 mailers sent by Sternad's campaign.

"David hired me to run the data," said Cochran, who is a retired FBI agent.

Much, much more at the link—and props to the Miami Herald for staying on top of this. I suppose I shouldn't be amazed that Rivera would try something so manifestly corrupt, given what a scumbag he is. But given all the ethical scrutiny he's been under, you'd think he'd at least try to avoid any more shadiness for a little while. It's remarkable that he just can't stop himself.

GA-12: Tuesday night's Republican runoff in Georgia's 12th Congressional District was ultra-tight, with state Rep. Lee Anderson edging businessman Rick Allen 50.3% to 49.7%, or just 154 votes. However, the final tally is not yet certified, and a recount is possible if the margin remains under 1%. Allen's campaign says that "all options are open." Dem Rep. John Barrow is obviously hoping for a bitter, protracted recount. (Meanwhile, in the GA-09 GOP runoff, state Rep. Doug Collins defeated radio host Martha Zoller 55-45; he'll cruise in November.)

IA-03: The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (no, I have no idea why they go for the treasonous British spelling) is making their first foray into the independent expenditure world this cycle, with $50K worth of radio ads on behalf of GOP Rep. Tom Latham. Latham is locked in an incumbent-vs.-incumbent battle with Dem Rep. Leonard Boswell, and before entering politics he was a businessman, so it's not clear why a bunch of orthopedists are interested in him. Indeed, they didn't make any IEs at all last cycle, so it's hard to say what their proclivities are.

IA-04: GOP Rep. Steve King is feeling the heat. A day after claiming he'd never heard of young victims of statutory rape or incest becoming pregnant, he's lashing out, saying: "I never said, nor do I believe, a woman, including minors, cannot get pregnant from rape, statutory rape or incest. Suggesting otherwise is ridiculous, shameful, disgusting and nothing but an attempt to falsely define who I am."

But King being King, he's landed himself in some more hot water. The trackers at CREDO scored a nice bit of footage at a recent town hall King conducted. Here's a key excerpt:

King, who recently sponsored a bill to make English the national language, launched into an extended rant on the perils of multiculturalism—which was only reinforced by a visit to Iowa State University, where he says he encountered 59 different student groups rooted in the idea. Merlin's pants! As he put it, "It started with Asians and it ended with Zeitgeist. So from A to Z. And most of them were victims groups, victimology, people that feel sorry for themselves. And they're out there recruiting our young people to be part of the group that feels sorry for themselves."
IL-08: I hope there's more where this came from. I mean, who do you want defending you, even in backhanded fashion, more than Joe Walsh?
"What he said was offensive, insulting and wrong, but I'm bothered by this rush to pile on," Walsh said. "And I'm bothered by the silence of members of our own party to stand up for him."
But actually, I think I might like this quote from another Illinois Republican, Rep. Peter Roskam, even more:
"There's nobody who is saying Todd Akin is unworthy to serve," Roskam said. "There is no one saying he is immoral or incapable. He's not; he made a poor decision. The question is: Can he win in November? … This is an election about a generational change. If we squander this one opportunity we have, we will all look back and say: 'Oh, if only.' "
Roskam is flat-out admitting that the GOP doesn't care about Akin's beliefs, just whether he can win. Of course, we all knew this, but it's always revealing when the other side actually cops to pure expediency.

IL-12: The pro-Republican New Prosperity Foundation, which had spent money attacking pretty much every Democrat in a competitive House race in Illinois, has finally targeted the one guy they'd previously left untouched, retired Maj. Gen. Bill Enyart. They're hitting him with $61K in TV ads.

IN-02: In a new TV ad, A fellow soldier of Democrat Brendan Mullen, an Iraq vet, praises his courage and excoriates Republican Jackie Walorski for "smearing" Mullen, calling her "downright un-American." It's a response to this new, cheaply-produced Walorski spot which attacks Mullen as a "DC insider" who was recruited by "liberals." Interesting that Walorski, who should have all the advantages here, feels the need to go negative so early.

MI-01, NC-07: The DCCC just filed small re-ups of its first two ads, for $31K and $36K in MI-01 and NC-07, respectively. That roughly doubles their buy in each district.

MO-02: Just a thought: If Ann Wagner, the GOP nominee in Todd Akin's old 2nd District, were to swap places with Akin and let him run for his old seat while she took up the Senate mantle, Democrats would also have a shot at switching candidates in the 2nd, too. Right now, Some Dude Glenn Koenen looks to have the nomination (believe it or not, his Some Other Dude opponent is actually seeking a recount), but perhaps he could be persuaded to step aside for a stronger Democrat, like Rep. Russ Carnahan. Okay, I did say "stronger," so maybe former state Rep. Sam Page? This suburban/exurban district is quite conservative, though it got slightly less so in redistricting, becoming a 53-46 McCain seat (down from 55-44). Those 2008 Obama numbers are definitely a Democratic high-water mark, but with Akin running, anything would be possible.

NY-11: The AFL-CIO just issued endorsements in 24 of  New York's 27 congressional races, but one omission really stands out: They're refusing to get behind Democrat Mark Murphy because a number of their member unions are supporting GOP freshman Mike Grimm. (All of their other endorsements have gone to Dems.) I'm sort of amazed anyone would want to stand with Grimm when his career stands at the precipice; indeed, the Grimm campaign's persecution fantasies have reached hallucinatory new heights, with de facto spokesman Guy Molinari accusing Chuck Schumer of "calling up" Eric Holder and asking him to sic the FBI on Grimm. Is this a guy labor really wants to see remain in office?

NY-27: Some nice work by Dem Rep. Kathy Hochul: She responded to a new negative ad from Republican Chris Collins so quickly that Collins hadn't even blasted the spot out to his full press list yet. The ad is actually a compare-and-contrast, with Collins taking credit for creating jobs while deploying generic attacks against Hochul. But Hochul was able to slam Collins because, after buying a plate manufacturing plant in upstate New York back in 2004, he "cut the work force by a third, reduced wages and benefits and ousted the union," according to a news report at the time.

PA-12: The pro-Dem House Majority PAC's new ad targets "millionaire Wall Street lawyer Keith Rothfus" because he "represented a Wall Street bank that received a bailout from taxpayers." HMP doesn't appear to have filed an IE report yet, though.

RI-01: In his newest ad, Dem Rep. David Cicilline complains that we've spent "billions of dollars building roads, bridges, and more"—in Afghanistan and Iraq, instead of in the U.S., which is where he'd like to see us "start rebuilding."

Grab Bag:

AFP: The Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity says it's launching a round of ads in five different Senate races worth $2.7 million in total. Their spot attacking Democrat Tammy Baldwin is available at the link; the actors they found to read their boring "stop wasteful spending" script are comically stiff and inauthentic. Their ads against Tim Kaine and Shelley Berkley are very similar. The airwaves in Indiana and New Mexico are reportedly the next two lucky victims.

Maps: Here's a terrifying animated map of the growth of Walmart (and their kid cousin, Sam's Club), from 1970 to present. If you zoom in on the New York City area, you'll see that we are still Walmart-free, though the company has long been trying to break in here.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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