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Leading Off:

NV-Sen: I don't know how much to make of this, but Republican Sen. Dean Heller seems kind of stressed:

So far, Sen. Dean Heller has mostly left it up to his campaign to take shots at his Senate challenger, Rep. Shelley Berkley, over her pending ethics investigation.

But Berkley's latest ad appears to have pushed him past the point of caring about such political niceties.

"The most unethical, corrupt person I've ever met in my life is Shelley Berkley," Heller told reporters this afternoon in the Capitol.

Here's the ad in question. It's negative, sure, but pretty standard stuff (and all crap Heller's been hit with before in prior races), yet he's acting like a stuck pig.


CT-Sen: Following some ground-breaking reporting by The Day, the story of Republican Linda McMahon's million-dollar bankruptcy made Thursday's front page in just about every daily newspaper in Connecticut (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). The main question still is, which of McMahon's creditors got stiffed, and by how much? McMahon claims she paid off half her debts—but, with some remarkable chutzpah, won't provide any documentation to back that up. And the Connecticut Post managed to catch up with one person who hasn't forgotten what he's owed:

And at least one of those—a 96-year-old former ad man reached by Hearst Newspapers Wednesday—is still smarting over the $4,100 he was never paid for advertising and public relations work.

"It didn't end well," said Gerard Langeler, a former Woodbridge resident living in New Hampshire. "I did my best to forget it." [...]

The 96-year-old Langeler, a Republican, was not well-versed in the McMahons' net worth and said he gave up trying to collect from them long ago.

"That's how they got their hundreds of millions," he said.

Democrat Chris Murphy, unfortunately, also has a few more money-realted issues of his own—though the sums pale in comparison to what McMahon once owed. It turns out Murphy made some late car tax and property tax payments between 1998 and 2005, though he wound up always paying in full and with late fees. Regrettably, Murphy's campaign tried to blame the unpaid property taxes on the prior owner, but that turned out not to be the case, forcing Murphy to retract the claim.

FL-, OH-, VA-Sen: At the end of a long Wednesday filled with an enormous number of polls (almost all of them positive for Democrats) came a final trio of swing state surveys... that were, once again, all positive for Democrats... and oh, did I mention they were commissioned by Fox News? Fox actually relies on a pair of pollsters, one Dem (Anderson Robbins Research) and one GOP (Shaw & Company Research), but it's still Fox, of course, so the numbers stand out. On the Senate side, it's the first time Fox has ever polled these races, so we don't have trendlines, but the results are undeniably good:

FL: Sen. Bill Nelson (D) 49, Connie Mack (R) 36; Obama 49-44

OH: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) 47, Josh Mandel (R) 40; Obama 49-42

VA: Tim Kaine (D) 47, George Allen (R) 43; Obama 50-43

MA-Sen: What a shock that the Boston Herald (Beantown's equivalent of the New York Post) would come and rain on the Elizabeth Warren parade. After four new polls all showed improving trendlines for the Democrat (giving her leads of 2, 4, 5 & 6 points), the Herald (courtesy their partners at UMass Lowell) find Sen. Scott Brown leading 49-45. Weirdly, UMass hasn't polled this race since last December, when they found Warren up by seven, the largest edge any public outfit's ever shown her with.

MI-Sen: It's not like the GOP ever had a very good shot at picking up Sen. Debbie Stabenow's seat in Michigan, but are their already-slim chances about to evaporate permanently? A new Glengariff Group poll for the Detroit News shows Stabenow up a punishing 50-34 over Republican Pete Hoekstra, while back in August, she led by 48-40. I guess I'm having a hard time understanding how Hoekstra, who is already pretty unpopular, could somehow drop six points all the way to the mid-30s. I mean, as far as I know, he didn't start running his Super Bowl ad yet again, did he? Still, even if this poll is too gaudy for Stabenow, it's hard to see how Hoekstra isn't screwed.

ND-Sen: Huh. Get a load of this story:

The Department of Justice is looking at a TV ad in which a retired Deputy U.S. Marshal appears on behalf of U.S. Senate candidate Rick Berg.

Jake Werner is clearly identified as retired from the Marshal's service in the ad, which compares the positions of Berg and Democrat Heidi Heitkamp on the economy. Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Dan Orr in Fargo says the Office of General Counsel is reviewing the commercial to determine whether it gives the appearance that the federal law enforcement agency is supporting Berg.

Here's the ad, a spot for the NRSC. I'll be real curious to see what the Marshals say—and if it has any impact on what the NRSC does.

WI-Sen: Haw-haw!

August: Thompson Called The Marquette Poll The "Gold Standard." In an interview in August 2012, Thompson said: "I think the Marquette poll which is considered pretty much the golden rule or the gold standard, came out and says I was 8 points up. So, I feel very good about going in, and I sincerely believe the momentum is with me and I feel very comfortable about the election." [WKOW, Capital City Sunday, 8/12/2012]

September: Thompson dismissed the MU results. Thompson's spokeswoman, Lisa Boothe, attempted to discredit the Marquette poll. "We do not think it reflects the opinions of Wisconsin voters," Boothe said. But on Tuesday at a Milwaukee manufacturing plant, the former governor expressed confidence in the accuracy of Marquette's survey work. [Associated Press, Mount Pleasant Patch and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9/19/2012]


ND-Sen: GOP Rep. Rick Berg goes the PolitiFact route to try to label attacks on him over his support for the Ryan plan to end Medicare as "lies." (There's an amusingly weird moment at about 0:14 where the ad itself runs a short clip of someone watching a video on YouTube... which will seem strange, since you're going to watch this on YouTube.) In a second ad, Berg says he'll "fight to repeal Obamacare and stop over-regulating of the economy."

NM-Sen: In the first of three new ads, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shows it's not giving up on Republican Heather Wilson, with a negative ad about the "top five ways Martin Heinrich has gone Washington." It's an attempt to mock a warm and effective Heinrich ad from mid-summer about the top five ways Heinrich "hasn't gone Washington." This spot, however, blows.

VA-Sen: In the Chamber's second ad, an annoying circus barker tries to make the case that Democrat Tim Kaine is a "no" on "energy," whatever that means. (Actually, it means he may not be super gung-ho about pointless projects that would despoil the environment and wind up as huge tax give-aways to big oil companies.)

WI-Sen: The Chamber's final spot is a super-annoying ad attacking Dem Rep. Tammy Baldwin over Obamacare, featuring a Baldwin stand-in deleting a bunch of irritating voicemail messages left by "constituents" who sound like they listen to Rush Limbaugh all morning and Fox News all night. Interestingly—and this is the first time I've seen this mentioned this cycle—they specifically attack Baldwin for supporting "the wildly unpopular public option."

Meanwhile, Baldwin talks about her support for the Buffett rule—and Tommy Thompson's opposition to it. And Tommy (who's been busy blaming Mitt Romney for his own shitty poll numbers of late) tries to contrast his views with Baldwin's, saying Wisconsin voters have "a choice between expanding government or reforming it."


MN-Gov, -Sen: Hah, Tim Pawlenty couldn't even wait two months to watch Mitt Romney's campaign finish imploding: Instead, he quit as a Romney co-chair to take a job as the chief of something called the Financial Services Roundtable, a bank lobbying group. That presumably takes the former Minnesota governor out of the running for an attempted comeback at his old job in 2014, or a Senate bid when Al Franken's up for re-election that same year. See ya!

MO-Gov: With a pretty narrow range of competitive gubernatorial races this year, the RGA is going big in Missouri, which is kind of a long-shot for them against Dem incumbent Jay Nixon. The RGA just moved $1.1 million to GOP opponent Dave Spence's campaign. (No new DGA moves, but they've put $2.5 million into the race already.) (David Jarman)

WA-Gov: The torrent of outside money pouring into Washington's gubernatorial race isn't drying up, with huge new sums from both the DGA and RGA. The DGA just put $750K into the pro-Jay Inslee Our Washington PAC, bringing their total contributions up to $3 million (out of the total $5.4 million it's raised). In addition, the Washington Education Association (the statewide NEA affiliate) put in another $200K. The RGA also put $300K directly into the race (rather than funneling it through a PAC) and gave another $170K to the state GOP; they've put in a total of $5.5 million now. (David Jarman)


MO-Gov: Dem Gov. Jay Nixon isn't taking any chances, slamming Republican Dave Spence for taking $40 million in bailout funds for his family's bank—and then, rather notoriously, refusing to pay the money back.


CA-10: The DCCC's IVR shop has another one of their quickie one-night polls out, and this one shows Democrat Jose Hernandez taking the lead over GOP freshman Jeff Denham, 46-44. The memo makes the rookie error of trying to create a trendline based on the only prior survey of the race, a PPP poll for DFA that had Denham up 48-41, but these numbers are nevertheless good news for the challenger. Both candidates are now up on the air, and the memo notes that Hernandez has run over 1,300 gross ratings points over the past two weeks; there's no word on the size of Denham's buys, but it's worth pointing out that he's been advertising longer. Also of note: Hernandez's favorables stand at 43-14, compared to 39-20 for the incumbent. And while there are no presidential toplines, respondents say they favored Obama over McCain 47-46 in 2008, which if anything is a touch pessimistic seeing as Obama won 50-47.

FL-22: Man. Check out Adam Hasner. First he says Mitt Romney "botched" his remarks about how 47% of Americans are dependent on government and self-identify as victims. But then, Hasner—a Romney campaign co-chair for the state of Florida, by the way—says this:

"I think the fact is that 47 percent of wage earners don't pay taxes."
Nice try, jerkface. Every wage earner pays taxes—they're call payroll taxes. Some don't pay income taxes because they earn too little to do so, which is, of course, a feature, not a bug. And yes, while 47% of Americans don't earn enough to pay federal income taxes, that's because most of them are retired. So Hasner tries to chide Romney and comes out looking like an even bigger dumbass. Good going!

ME-01, -02: That MPRC poll from Wednesday which featured the Maine Senate race also polled the state's two House districts. As you'd expect, Dem Rep. Chellie Pingree is smooshing Republican Jon Courtney in the 1st, 60-32. That's basically unchanged from her 62-28 margin back in April. More important are the results in the somewhat redder ME-02, where Dem Rep. Mike Michaud is still manhandling GOPer Kevin Raye 56-38, a touch better than his prior 53-37 mark.

MI-01: A new PPP poll for the Michigan branch of the League of Conservation Voters has Democratic challenger Gary McDowell edging GOP Rep. Dan Benishek 44-42, a result the MLCV credits to their $330K advertising campaign against the incumbent. I would note that this is actually a bit tighter than a long-ago PPP survey for a different client that had McDowell up 46-41, but of course, Benishek and the NRCC have been spending heavily here, too. We've never seen any GOP polling out of this district, but if Benishek remains mired in the low 40s, he's in trouble.

NC-08, CA-36, OH-10: The D-Trip is shifting resources around, according to a new report by Kyle Trygstad in Roll Call. They're cancelling a week's worth of ad reservations in GOP Rep. Mike Turner's OH-10, a district that wasn't really on many people's radars anyhow. (Sharen Neuhardt is running there for Democrats.) More importantly, they're doing the same in NC-08, which either means Dem Rep. Larry Kissell is doomed in his race against Richard Hudson, or he's a lock... and somehow I'm doubting it's the latter. In unambiguously positive news, though, they're booking $126K worth of ad time in CA-36, where physician Raul Ruiz is challenging Rep. Mary Bono Mack. (Here's the ad, slamming Bono Mack as a pawn of special interests and supporter of the Ryan plan.)

NC-09: Every so often, you see some unexpectedly close polls in off-the-radar races, and here's one such creature: Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts just released an internal from Lake Research that has shows he trailing former state Sen. Robert Pittenger by just a single point, 38-37. There are no presidential toplines, though, and bear in mind that this is a very conservative district, which makes it hard to envision a path to 50%+1 for Roberts. What's more, Pittenger is extremely wealthy and didn't hesitate to throw down $2 million of his own money to nab the GOP nomination. I'm sure that if he feels threatened, he'll spend whatever it takes.

RI-01: Here's the third RI-01 poll in a week, this time from the campaign of Rep. David Cicilline (the prior two were both courtesy the DCCC). Cicilline survey, from the Feldman Group, shows him up 51-41 over Republican Brendan Doherty in a direct head-to-head, and leads 46-36 when independent David Vogel (who takes 7) is included. That's very similar to the numbers from Benenson that came out on Wednesday. And by the way, this is Doherty's latest response—seriously:

Campaign manager Ian Prior declined to release the head-to-head results but said Doherty's lead is within the survey's 4-point margin of error. [...]

"We are the underdog because we're going against the incumbent—and we like being the underdog," Prior told "Even when our lead was 15 points we still considered ourselves the underdogs."


CA-07: The Sierra Club is launching a new campaign targeting six Republican members of the House, and first up is Dan Lungren. I absolutely love the visuals in their TV ad: As the announcer says, "These are Dan Lungren's most enthusiastic supporters," the camera pans across tank trucks, oil rigs, gas stations, and oil tankers all emblazoned with the logo "Dan Lungren for Congress."

CA-21: I've asked this before, but how does Democrat John Hernandez have the money to run any ads? Sure, they're as cheaply-produced as they come, but this is now at least the third spot he's come up with.

CA-52: The DCCC slams GOP Rep. Brian Bilbray as a career politician and lobbyist, very similar to their spot from a couple of weeks ago. Meanwhile, Democrat Scott Peters defends himself against attacks from Bilbray over the city of San Diego's pension fund, then attacks Bilbray for voting for pay raises for himself and receiving two "taxpayer-funded pensions."

CO-06: GOP Rep. Mike Coffman appears with his mom, calling her his "number one advisor on Medicare." That's a classic Republican move, as astute observers know: hide behind an elderly parent to try to insulate yourself against attacks on Medicare.

FL-18: House Majority PAC is unloading a $1 million ad buy against GOP Rep. Allen West, slamming him on women's issues and hitting him with the same quote that Democrat Patrick Murphy just deployed in his own ad, the one about "all these women that have been neutering American men." Meanwhile, West claims that Murphy's family company "brought in immigrants from Mexico" to do work that otherwise would have gone to Floridians.

IA-01: The NRCC attacks Dem Rep. Bruce Braley for supporting Obamacare, saying "Think about the entrepreneur, the uncertainty of new taxes and regulations stopping them from creating jobs."

IA-04: The NRCC attacks Democrat Christie Vilsack for saying she wants to "move forward with the president's agenda."

IL-12: The NRCC attacks Democrat Bill Enyart for saying that the "job market is gradually getting better under President Obama." Of course, that just happens to be true.

IL-13: Republican Rodney Davis attacks David Gill, using clips of Gill saying he doesn't think Obamacare "went nearly far enough" and that "we shouldn't be allergic to raising revenues in this country."

IN-02: Democrat Brendan Mullen attacks Jackie Walorski for allegedly engaging in "pay to play" in the legislature regarding a toll road.

KY-06: Dem Rep. Ben Chandler shreds Andy Barr for an absurd ad in which Barr had a wealthy coal company VP from the other end of the state pretend to be a miner (complete with helmet) and criticize Chandler. What's most hilarious is that Chandler uses a couple of pics of the exec side-by-side with Mitt Romney, which must mean Mittens is polling beneath expectations in this decidedly red district.

MI-01: The NRCC attacks Democrat Gary McDowell by way of the usual "cutting Medicare" lies.

MN-06: Whoa. A group called the National Republican Trust PAC has decided they want to ride Michele Bachmann's special brand of crazy all the way down the rabbit hole. They're attacking Democrat Jim Graves for criticizing Bachmann's lunatic comments about alleged American support for the Muslim Brotherhood, saying—get this—that now that "there are dead Americans and more Americans under siege by the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East, Mr. Graves is the one who sounds ridiculous. Meanwhile, Bachmann herself is now finally on the air, and she evidently realizes there's no hope of boosting her own numbers, since she, too, is also going after Graves in her first ad. It's the usual trifecta: his supposed support for the stimulus, the bailout, and Obamacare.

MT-AL: Republican Steve Daines says Washington is "denying that dream" to Montanans because of "crushing debt" and "job-killing regulations," etc.

NC-07: In a spot almost identical to one he's already running, Dem Rep. Mike McIntyre features a couple (presumably constituents) who praise his conservative values. Hey, this district voted 58-42 for John McCain. What do you expect?

NH-01: Democrat Carol Shea-Porter touts her work on behalf of veterans and attacks GOP Rep. Frank Guinta for voting for "billions in cuts to veterans' programs."

NY-11: GOP Rep. Mike Grimm tries to brand Mark Murphy as quasi-carpetbagger "Hollywood Mark," and claims Murphy only came back to Staten Island after living in California for a number of years. "Some say," the narrator claims, "he moved back to run for Congress. Others say he left because the failed actor didn't pay his taxes." Who are these people? Grimm campaign staffers?

PA-15: Just because a guy in a safe seat attacks him Some Dude opponent doesn't mean he thinks he's at-risk. In fact, GOP Rep. Charlie Dent is probably just playing it smart. But it's still notable anyway that he's going negative on Lehigh County Democratic Party chair Rick Daugherty, who looks like he's raised less than $20,000. Hedging against a wave in this swingish district?

TX-23: In his first ad, Democrat Pete Gallego pays homage to his father's sacrifices that "made sure that my life would be better than his."

Other Races:

MT-AG: It's a little far down in the weeds, but wow: The Republican State Leadership Committee is spending $580K on TV and radio ads to prop up Tim Fox's campaign for attorney general—a sum that would be big in most AG races, but is positively mind-blowing in tiny Montana. The AG seat is open because Democrat Steve Bullock is running for governor, and Fox faces Pam Bucy in the general election, who's actually outraised him $270K to $232K. But the RSLC is showing no qualms about buying the election for Fox, and just to show how bought and paid-for he is, they even spent $100K on his behalf to make sure he won the primary. The linked article has a good run-down on where the RSLC's money is coming from, with their top donors consisting of insurers, tobacco companies, and, of course, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Bucy is trying to make an issue of all this outside interference, a message similar to the one Dem Sen. Jon Tester is using in his own race. Hopefully it'll work.

Portland Mayor: It's been a while since SurveyUSA has looked at the Portland mayoral race, but it's still a jump ball. City councilor Charlie Hales leads state Rep. Jefferson Smith 34-29 in the nonpartisan race (with 37% still undecided). They're both well left-of-center, but Smith is more the outsider in this situation, and SurveyUSA finds him performing better with younger, lower-income, and non-white voters... so if he can maximize turnout, Smith can pull ahead. (David Jarman)

Grab Bag:

Independent Expenditures: Here are some recent independent expenditures of note for TV ad buys (possibly including some radio as well). First are pro-Dem:

Center Forward (1, 2): IN-Sen: $250K; GA-12: $305K; UT-04: $342K

NEA: OH-Sen: $1 mil; IA-04: $94K

SEIU: MI-01: $151K; VA-02: $125K

And pro-GOP:

Chamber of Commerce: ME-Sen: $439K; MT-Sen: $445K; OH-Sen: $1.1 mil

Crossroads GPS: NV-Sen: $410K; WI-Sen: $1 mil

NFIB: IA-04: $295K; NY-25: $318K

Polltopia: Dreaminonempty's second post in his "Beyond the Margin of Error" series is now up; in it, he tackles Daily Kos/SEIU poll respondents who seem to weigh in with questionable answers on the tricky question of race.

Polltopia: PPP is looking for question ideas for its four upcoming state polls in Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, and Iowa. Click on over to PPP's site and post your suggestions there.

•  State Legislatures: There are two interesting new previews of two different state Senates in swing states that are currently GOP-controlled but could swing back to Dems (or at least could have swung back if it weren't for incumbent protection redistricting plans implemented by the new GOP majorities). One is of North Carolina's state Senate, currently GOP-controlled 31-19. Local station WRAL has a thorough look, complete with interactive map. The other preview is of New Hampshire's upper chamber, also GOP controlled, 19-5. Blue Hampshire's preview doesn't handicap the individual races but does offer new PVI data: There are 7 D+ districts, 13 R+ districts, and 4 that are dead even. (David Jarman)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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