• SC-01: Whoa! Absolutely nuclear! Politico reports that the NRCC is cutting Sanford loose in the wake of this whole trespassing debacle, and this isn't some half-heard rumor—it's an on-the-record quote, and a pretty lulzy one at that: "Mark Sanford has proven he knows what it takes to win elections. At this time, the NRCC will not be engaged in this special election." Hahah, maybe they're saying this because they know Sanford will wreck shop and the timing is all just a big coincidence? Sorry, I'm simply amusing myself here, because it's all too enjoyable.
The fact that Sanford would even need the NRCC's help in such a red district in the first place already speaks volumes; the fact that he's too radioactive even for the Republican Party is Akin-level extraordinary. But the best part may be how Sanford tried to keep this to himself, because that surely has infuriated Republicans to a white hot intensity.
Remember, this whole thing happened on Super Bowl Sunday, over two months ago, and Jenny Sanford filed her complaint with the court the very next day. The order for Sanford to appear in court was issued last month, so he's been sitting on this disaster for weeks. Now, of course, it's blown up in his face, and perhaps has destroyed his campaign, too. On the other hand, it's not like Sanford really had any good options for defusing this mess in advance—well, except perhaps he'd have been wise to, you know, not trespass in the first place.
But oh, sweet Jesus. It gets so much worse—or so much better, depending on your point of view. Keep reading below the fold to find out!
Meanwhile, the Washington Post has learned that tensions within the family flared up as recently as April 2, at the celebration of Sanford's runoff election victory when the former governor thrust two of his sons on-stage with the Argentine woman who was at the center of the spectacular sex scandal that broke up his marriage.Despite saying at one point on Wednesday that "I am doing my best not to get in the way of his race," Jenny Sanford sure has seemed willing to make herself accessible to the press all day—and to throw her floundering ex a whole bunch of anvils. Mark Sanford, though, was more than happy to chain a few around his neck on his own. Earlier in the day, he released a statement in response to Jenny's trespassing allegations, and he didn't deny anything:
For Sanford's teenage son Bolton, that very public moment marked the first time he had ever been in the presence of Maria Belen Chapur.
Sanford's former wife Jenny confirmed in a text message: "That was indeed Bolton's first intro and both boys were quite upset and visibly so."
"It's an unfortunate reality that divorced couples sometimes have disagreements that spill over into family court. I did indeed watch the second half of the Super Bowl at the beach house with our 14 year old son because as a father I didn't think he should watch it alone. Given she was out of town I tried to reach her beforehand to tell her of the situation that had arisen, and met her at the back steps under the light of my cell phone when she returned and told her what had happened."Man. Where to even begin with this? Well, I'll try:
"There is always another side to every story, and while I am particularly curious how records that were sealed to avoid the boys dealing with embarrassment are now somehow exposed less than three weeks before this election, I agree with Jenny that the media is no place to debate what is ultimately a family court matter, and out of respect for Jenny and the boys, I'm not going to have any further comment at this time."
• "The beach house." Oh no. This was not the right thing to say. It's indisputably Jenny Sanford's beach house, and for Mark to refer to it with the article "the" (as opposed to saying "her") demonstrates he hasn't internalized the fact that it's not his freakin' house anymore. If I were Jenny, I'd be extra-pissed at that.
• "The situation that had arisen." You mean the terrifying "14-year-old boy might watch the Super Bowl alone" situation? Dear God, man, you saved your son from his terrible mother! He might have grown up to be a stone-cold killer without this needed parental intervention. Or a chronic trail hiker.
• Why the hell didn't you invite your son to your own house, dumbass?
• So Mark called Jenny ("tried to reach her beforehand") to let her know he wanted to come over to watch some football with his boy ("the situation that had arisen"), meaning he knew he needed permission to visit. Yet despite seeking and failing to obtain that permission, he went over anyway. Definitely some serious mens rea going on here.
• Wait a second! If Jenny was "out of town," was it just Mark's very bad luck that she happened to show up just as he was leaving? If so, busted! If not, and she was just down the street visiting a friend, say, then Mark looks like an even bigger liar.
• "Under the light of my cell phone." Now that is some seriously chutzpahdik shit right there—almost poetic, even. What's hilarious is that this confirms, down to the very last detail, that everything in Jenny Sanford's complaint was cold, hard fact. Mark was trying to sneak out without turning on any house lights, meaning he knew Jenny could return at any moment. But she saw the flickering of his illuminated cell phone and was undoubtedly suspicious. Mark is lucky Jenny didn't figure him for an intruder and, oh, I dunno, shoot him?
As for that second graf—that whole "another side to every story" bit—well, it's quite clear that there is no other side to this tale. Sanford admits to visiting his ex-wife's home without securing her permission (aka "trespassing"), and acknowledges that he tried to slip out the back door using only his cell phone to light the way. The only "detail" he adds that we didn't know on Tuesday night is his alleged reason for showing up at Jenny Sanford's home, which is not only comically bogus but I'm also sure does not constitute an acceptable excuse for violating the couple's divorce agreement. (I'm assuming there's no "NFL exemption" tucked away in there somewhere.)
Unsurprisingly, it also turns out that Jenny Sanford has made several complaints in the past about Mark Sanford's alleged violations of their divorce terms. One utterly bizarre provision specifies that "no airplanes will be flown at the children" when they visit Coosaw Plantation, owned by Mark's family. Wait, what? No planes flown at the children? What the hell does that even mean? Does Mark Sanford pretend to be Snoopy dogfighting the Red Baron, with his kids as hapless members of the Luftstreitkräfte? Never say this story can't get weirder.
Anyhow, it's still possible other outside Republican groups will still try to ride to Sanford's aid. Indeed, the South Carolina Republican Party even chipped in on Sanford's first general election ad. The spot, which just went up, mostly attacks Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch for accepting the support of labor unions, "even from the union who tried to shut down Boeing and ship a thousand jobs out of South Carolina." The run is reportedly for about $100,000, but will the SCGOP want to keep funding Sanford after this? (The Club for Growth has already said they don't "expect" to get involved.)
Meanwhile, the Democratic-aligned House Majority PAC is up with their first commercial too, after delaying their television run on account of the Boston bombings. (The Washington Post reports that HMP's buy is for $400,000 to $600,000, not a small sum.) The ad is a solid spot that goes after Sanford's use of taxpayer funds for personal air travel, with an obligatory mention of Argentina that features a pair of intimately clasped hands on-screen. It's the perfect sort of non-partisan, hard-to-defend-against attack Democrats need to run in a district like this. Of course, Mark Sanford excels like no one else at offering those up to his opponents.
• NC-Sen: Last month, PPP found Dem Sen. Kay Hagan just barely hitting 50 percent for the first time, but this month, unsurprisingly, they see a small retreat. Hagan still leads all comers (there are zero announced challengers so far), with Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry coming closest but still trailing by a 41-46 margin. (Berry also leads a hypothetical GOP primary, but with just 18 percent.) Against other opponents, Hagan scores anywhere from 47 to 49 percent, though they all lag by anywhere from 8 to 13 points.
Perhaps more importantly, Hagan's job approval rating hasn't budged since she announced her support for same-sex marriage. And a majority of North Carolinians (54-38) support "Congress passing stricter gun laws," which undermines the notion that Hagan might suffer for backing the (now dead) Manchin-Toomey legislation that would have expanded background checks for gun buyers. Indeed, separate polling (PDF) from Project New America conducted by Anzalone Liszt shows that 79 percent of North Carolina voters are in favor of enhanced background checking. With numbers like that, you'd think that politicians who oppose expanded background checks ought to be the vulnerable ones.
• AR-Gov: As expected, ex-Rep. Mike Ross made his entrance into the Arkansas governor's race official on Wednesday. He'll face off against former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter for the Democratic nomination.
• OR-Gov: This is one of those "can't quite tell" situations, as in, I can't quite tell whether Jon Justesen is basically a Some Dude or if he fits into the "random rich guy" mold. Either way, he's the first Republican to declare his candidacy against Gov. John Kitzhaber, though he definitely holds, as Jeff Maps puts it, some "unorthodox views" for a member of the GOP. (Pro-choice, pro-immigration, and pro-sales tax!) Mapes calls him a "big investor and board member of Vancouver-based Barrett Business Services," so maybe that means he has money, but on the flipside, he's also described a bit more humbly as a "rancher" who lost a commissioner's race last year in a county with just 1,800 people. Well, it's not like Oregon Republicans have a whole lot of people clamoring to enter this race.
• SC-Gov: Gov. Nikki Haley is probably glad that another, much less popular South Carolina Republican is making news this week, because her job approval ratings continue to be mediocre, according to Winthrop University's new poll. She now stands at 44-37, little changed from February's 44-39 mark. Unfortunately, Winthrop doesn't appear to have tested Haley against her newly announced Democratic opponent, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, who performed very well against her in their first matchup three years ago. (And I'd also add a note of caution that Winthrop consistently finds too-good-to-be true ratings for Obama, such as this month's 43-47 score, in a state the president lost by over 10 points.)
• MN-06: The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that, based on interviews with two former staffers, it appears that Michele Bachmann's congressional ethics probe "has widened beyond initial allegations that Bachmann improperly mixed funds between her campaign and her independent political organization, MichelePAC." The new questions investigators are asking pertain to whether Bachmann used campaign staff and resources to aid her 2011 book tour to promote a memoir she wrote—something that violates federal election regulations and House ethics rules. Bachmann, of course, denies any wrongdoing, but the paper obtained emails that show her campaign staff closely involved in the book tour. The best part? The book only sold 3,000 copies and in her last set of personal financial disclosures to Congress, Bachmann "reported no income" from it.
• OH-14: Because it's so early in the cycle, there simply aren't very many challengers running in House races yet. And of the few who've engaged, only a handful raised six figures in the first quarter. If you're a Digest obsessive, then you should probably recognize all the names on Xenocrypt's list, but there was one I admit I hadn't heard of before, Michael Wager, who is running in OH-14. You'll recall that very late last cycle, GOP Rep. Steve LaTourette announced his retirement, saddling Democrats with a fringe perennial candidate, while Republicans were able to run local prosecutor David Joyce as their preferred substitute.
That was most unfortunate, since the swingy 14th only wound up going for Romney by a 51-48 margin, and Joyce managed just 54 percent of the vote. But that makes this seat a prime target for 2014, and in fact, Wager's been working at it for a while, seeing as he jumped into the race back in December. His fundraising ($131,000) wasn't exactly at "blow you away" levels, but it seems like Wager might have some good connections. He served as a campaign finance chair for Sen. Sherrod Brown's 2012 re-election campaign and says he has the support of Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Tim Ryan. One downside is that Wager doesn't actually live in the district but says he plans to move there this summer.
• NYC Mayor: Well, we have one possible answer to the question "What would happen if Anthony Weiner actually did go through with it and enter the New York City mayor's race?", and that answer comes from Marist's new poll. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn remains in first place in the Democratic primary, but with a much-reduced 26 percent of the vote. Weiner starts off in second at 15, while City Comptroller John Liu is at 12, and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former City Comptroller Bill Thompson are both at 11.
Marist also wisely tested the field without Weiner, and it shakes out with Quinn at 30, de Blasio 15, Thompson 14, and Liu 11, suggesting that Liu, actually, is the only candidate Weiner doesn't hurt. If anything, Weiner helps him, because Liu inches ahead of both de Blasio and Thompson with Weiner in the picture. The biggest loser for sure, though, is Quinn. Two months ago, she stood at 37 percent, just shy of the 40 percent mark needed to avoid a runoff. But now she's fallen 7 points, a drop that mirrors the recent 5-point decline that Quinnipiac found for her.
So could Quinn be one of those politicians who grows less popular the better known she becomes? I could believe it, given her legendary abusive behavior and transparent pandering to powerful interests. If anything, Quinn reminds me of Rudy Giuliani, though Rudy at least served several years in Gracie Mansion before wearing out his welcome. (Yep, he'd actually become quite disliked before 9/11.) Quinn might just accelerate that timetable.