8:10 AM PT: TX-33: On Friday, with just days to go before Texas' primaries, President Obama endorsed freshman Rep. Marc Veasey in his first bid for re-election. Veasey is favored in the Democratic primary, but he faces self-funding attorney Tom Sanchez, who has poured almost a million bucks of his own money into the race. The fact that Veasey's team requested a last-minute endorsement from the big guy is probably just a final measure of insurance, though it's possible they're a little bit nervous.
8:47 AM PT (Darth Jeff): Mississippi: Filing closed Saturday for the Magnolia state's June 3 primary. In races where no one wins more that 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held June 24 between the top two candidates. The Mississippi Press provides a good list of who is running.
Longtime Republican Sen. Thad Cochran looks like he has a tough primary battle against tea partying state Sen. Chris McDaniel. A third candidate, Some Dude Thomas Carey, is also in the race. Carey won't win, but if things are close he could force a runoff by preventing either Cochran or McDaniel from winning 50 percent. On the Democratic side, former Rep. Travis Childers faces little primary opposition. If Cochran wins renomination for one more term then it's very difficult to see him losing in November; McDaniel could make a general election more interesting, but would still start out as the favorite in this very conservative state. Daily Kos Elections currently rates the general election as a Race to Watch, but we will reevaluate our rating after the Republican primary.
All four of Mississippi's House members (three Republicans and a Democrat) are running for reelection, and each seat is rated as safe for the party that currently holds it.
One Rep. may have to watch his back in the primary. Sophomore Republican Steve Palazzo of MS-04 faces an unusual rematch with former Rep. Gene Taylor, who represented this district for over twenty years as a Democrat. The very conservative Taylor was very popular in this Gulf Coast district but even he couldn't survive the 2010 red wave, losing to Palazzo 52-47. Taylor has since switched parties and is hoping to use the Republican primary to avenge his defeat. Three other minor candidates are running in the primary, so a close race could be thrown into a runoff. One thing the GOP won't need to worry about is holding this seat in November: Romney won this district 68-31, and Taylor was probably the only Democrat who could win it.
8:49 AM PT: DCCC: The DCCC has launched the first round of its Red to Blue program for the 2014 election cycle, highlighting 35 different House contests for special attention. The D-Trip has two broad categories: "Red to Blue" itself, which represents the most competitive races; and "Emerging Races," which is more of a watch list. And some races involve endorsements of specific candidates while in others, the committee isn't choosing sides (yet).
But the listings can be further broken down into a few different buckets. Most of the R2B districts don't involve contested primaries, but a few do: CA-21, where the DCCC is supporting Amanda Renteria over John Hernandez; IL-13, Ann Callis over George Gollin; and NM-02, Rocky Lara over Leslie Endean-Singh. Interestingly, it looks like the D-Trip has backed off its early endorsement of Pete Aguilar in CA-31, since it now includes that district without picking a specific candidate. (Eloise Reyes and Joe Baca are also running there.)
A few candidates on the Emerging Races list have also been hit with similar downgrades. In PA-08, the committee is no longer singling out Kevin Strouse over Shaughnessy Norton, even though Strouse, like Aguilar, had made the DCCC's earlier Jumpstart program. Similarly, in PA-06, Mike Parrish doesn't get any special attention over Manan Trivedi, despite earlier statements of support for Parrish from the DCCC. (Parrish never made Jumpstart, though.) And in MI-11, Bobby McKenzie, another Jumpstarter, fell off the radar for some reason, even though no other notable Democrats appear to be in the race. Perhaps the D-Trip is still holding out hope someone stronger gets in?
And while the division of contests between the R2B and Emerging lists largely tracks with what you'd expect, there are a couple of races that are a bit surprising to see slotted into the second-tier. One is NY-19, where wealthy investor Sean Eldridge has both been raising money at a good clip and self-funding a bunch. The other is NY-21, the open seat in New York's North Country where local Dems have rallied around unknown filmmaker Aaron Woolf. Woolf's low ranking makes it seem that the DCCC is not optimistic about holding this district. (And oddly, NC-02 is on the list, but Clay Aiken didn't earn an endorsement.)
As for outright omissions, Daily Kos Elections has four GOP-held seats listed as Likely Republican that didn't make the cut at all. They are: IN-02 (Democrat Joe Bock challenging Rep. Jackie Walorski); MN-02 (Mike Obermueller vs. John Kline); NE-02 (Brad Ashford vs. Lee Terry); and WV-01 (Glen Gainer vs. David McKinley). They could always be included later, though. Obermueller, for instance, made R2B last cycle, as did IN-02 (though with a different Democratic challenger).
11:13 AM PT: MI-12: A lot of progressive activists wish the DCCC wouldn't take sides in Democratic primaries, and while it's not an especially common occurrence, it certainly does happen. (See our item on the D-Trip's newly launched Red to Blue program for some examples.) In most cases, though, you can understand the committee's motivations, even if you disagree with them; usually, they center around perceived electability in the general election.
But the latest example is a serious head-scratcher. On Friday, local tip sheet Inside Michigan Politics released a poll showing Debbie Dingell, the wife of retiring Rep. John Dingell, crushing all comers in a hypothetical Democratic primary—all well and good. However, later that same day, the DCCC's press shop sent out an "in case you missed it email," to call attention to the strong numbers for Dingell.
Why do this, though? The 12th is a safely Democratic seat, so there's no need for the DCCC to play favorites here. And it's not as though state Sen. Rebekah Warren, the most likely challenger to Dingell, isn't already aware of these poll numbers herself. So was this email meant to send a message that other would-be contenders should step aside? If not, why send out this poll? The D-Trip certainly didn't issue a press release when Brenda Lawrence released an internal of the Democratic primary in the nearby 13th District (another open seat). What gives?
11:45 AM PT: NY-06, -07: Former New York City Comptroller John Liu has finally laid to rest the notion that he might challenge freshman Rep. Grace Meng in the Democratic primary by endorsing her on Monday. However, he still hasn't ruled out a run against another Democratic congresswoman, Nydia Velazquez, in the 7th District, even though his political base really lies in Meng's 6th. But here's a much better idea: Liu could primary turncoat state Sen. Tony Avella, who just joined the GOP-enabling Independent Democratic Conference in the Senate. It's not an ideal seat for him, but Liu, who's been critical of Avella's move, does live there, and he'd be a hero just for trying.
11:53 AM PT: KY-Gov: A new poll from Public Opinion Strategies of the 2015 GOP primary for governor finds state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer leading Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner by a 42-14 spread. (POS says the survey was not conducted on behalf of any candidate.) Neither Comer nor Heiner has formally said they'll run next year, when Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear will be term-limited, but the Lexington Herald-Leader says both are "likely" to do so.
12:13 PM PT: MN-Gov: A new SurveyUSA poll of the rarely-tested Minnesota governor's race finds Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton in solid shape for re-election, leading all of his potential Republican challengers:
• 51-34 vs. former state Rep. Marty SeifertThe remarkable consistency across all of these numbers shows that the GOP field is largely unknown. That's very similar to what PPP found in an October poll, though there, Dayton's leads were all around 10 percent; here, they're double that. Demographic crosstabs are not yet available, but KSTP, the TV station that commissioner this poll, says it will release them on Tuesday night. They're also promising numbers on the Senate race, where Democrat Al Franken is seeking re-election to a second term.
• 53-33 vs. investment banker Scott Honour
• 53-32 vs. state Sen. Dave Thompson
• 52-34 vs. Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson
• 52-31 vs. state Rep. Kurt Zellers
• 52-31 vs. Some Dude Rob Farnsworth
12:29 PM PT: OK-Sen-B: As expected, former state Sen. Randy Brogdon has switched from the governor's race, where he was attempting to primary incumbent Mary Fallin, to Oklahoma's open Senate contest, where he'll face a couple of heavyweights in the Republican primary (Rep. James Lankford and former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon). Despite a decent performance in the 2010 gubernatorial primary, it's not clear how serious Brogdon is, since he stonewalled radio station KRMG's repeated attempts to contact him about his intentions until he sent out a mass email on Monday. KRMG tried to follow up, only to discover that Brogdon's campaign office is "a mailbox at a UPS store."
12:45 PM PT: AZ-Gov: Democrat Fred DuVal has released a new internal from Garin-Hart-Yang showing Arizona's race for governor as competitive, though there are a lot of undecideds—similar to the limited polling we've seen so far. DuVal, a former chair of the Arizona Board of Regents, is tied at 32 apiece with state Treasurer Doug Ducey and trails Secretary of State Ken Bennett by a narrow 35-32 spread. On a generic ballot, voters also give a small edge to a hypothetical Republican candidate, 43-39. As you can see, leaners evidently were not pushed, but given how early it still is, it makes sense that this race has not yet taken more shape.
1:26 PM PT: AZ-07, -09: So is Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema really serious about switching from the swingy 9th District to the open, but much more liberal, 7th? What began life late last week as a mere rumor has become a much realer possibility now, seeing as Sinema's refusing to comment and a top advisor refused to rule out the idea. But as we've noted, such a move would not be easy, and one of the candidates already running in the 7th, state Sen. Ruben Gallego, paid Sinema a biting left-handed compliment that explains precisely why:
"I'm a big supporter of Kyrsten Sinema. I got to work for her, work with her. I've donated to her campaign the first time around, the second time around, and I hope she stays in District 9 because she is the right moderate, business-oriented voice for that district."Those are the exact same kinds of sentiments that would be turned into attacks against Sinema if she did decide to seek re-election in the 7th.
Meanwhile, there are a few more updates on would-be contenders (all Democrats). Former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon announced that he's out, as, apparently, did current Mayor Greg Stanton, who said he hopes to "continue serving" in his current role "for the next six years." The Arizona Republic also mentions one more new potential name, state Senate Minority Leader Anna Tovar. And the Washington Examiner says that former White House staffer Ronnie Cho is considering a bid, but that's just according to unnamed sources.
1:36 PM PT: NY-24: In an attempt to avoid a split, the Republican and Conservative Parties are trying to unite around former federal prosecutor John Katko, who recently received the blessing of local leaders from both parties. However, seven other hopefuls also met with the GOP, and at least one of Katko's rivals, Army vet John Lemondes, hasn't ruled out a primary bid of his own. Republicans are hoping to knock off red-shirt freshman Rep. Dan Maffei, though they won't have an easy time of it in this 57-41 Obama district.
1:42 PM PT: CO-Gov: Former GOP Rep. Bob Beauprez was set to announce his campaign on Monday, but it turns out he's merely filing paperwork and won't formally kick things off until Tuesday. Why? Because he's in D.C., making a pitch to the RNC in support of Denver's bid to host the GOP convention in 2016. As ColoradoPols observes, you never want to announce your bid for governor of Colorado from Washington. (Alternately, you don't want to announce your bid for New Jersey senator from Colorado.) A pointless, unforced error indeed.
1:51 PM PT: IL-Gov: A new survey from Southern Illinois University finds the same thing that every other poll has: Wealthy venture capitalist Bruce Rauner leads the GOP primary field. Rauner takes 33 while state Sen. Bill Brady's at 12, state Sen. Kirk Dillard's at 11, and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford is at 10. SIU also included general election matchups, and again, as we've seen elsewhere, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn is in dire shape. Here's how he fares:
• 38-40 vs. RaunerIt goes without saying, but the high 30s is an ugly place for an incumbent to find himself.
• 37-40 vs. Brady
• 37-40 vs. Dillard
• 38-38 vs. Rutherford
2:04 PM PT: FL-19: Things are heating up a bit in the all-important GOP primary in Florida's other special election, down in the 19th District. An anonymous new super PAC called the Liberty and Leadership Fund is running an ad attacking businessman Curt Clawson, who himself has already been on the air with a spot that referenced his college basketball days. Picking up on that theme, this ad features a guy dribbling a ball up and down the court, as the narrator accuses Clawson of "playing games" because "after he made millions," he "cut health insurance to 2,000 families." She also says he "talks bad about government," which is not English. Maybe he'll break bad, too?
Clawson responded with a spot of his own, featuring two workers at a company he once ran, car parts maker Hayes Lemmerz International, thanking him for saving their jobs. The super PAC buy is for $46,000, but there's no word on the size of Clawson's.
2:16 PM PT: TX-04: Nonagenarian Rep. Ralph Hall is going folksy to close out the primary campaign, running a TV ad in which he points to the various wrinkles on his face and explains how he acquired them—this one by "taking on the liberals when they attacked our Second Amendment rights," that one "when we fought 'em on Obamacare." Hall, who faces a credible challenge in the GOP primary from former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe, insists he's still "got room for a few more wrinkles."
2:27 PM PT: AR-Gov: GOP ex-Rep. Asa Hutchinson's first ad extensively features his wife, Susan, who explains that "Asa" proposed to her... 11 months after their first date. Asa tries to interject that "that's Arkansas for you," but a year-long courtship strikes me as entirely unremarkable. What is remarkable about the spot is the second half, where Susan says that her husband is "not afraid to listen to the other side—in fact, he wants to hear the other side, so we can pull together to get the greater good done." Democrats running in red states constantly tout their bipartisan bona fides, but it's very rare to see a Republican do the same. The Hutchinson campaign says it's spending $55,000 to air the ad.
2:43 PM PT: SC-Gov, WI-Gov: Two new RGA ads are now available, one in Wisconsin, where they've been going at Democrat Mary Burke for a little while, and one in South Carolina, where they're newly attacking Democrat Vincent Sheheen. In the Palmetto State, the governors association slams Sheheen for backing Obamacare, and in particular his support for expanding Medicaid. Sheheen had a pretty clever response, though, pointing out that RGA chair Chris Christie expanded Medicaid in New Jersey, calling it "the smart thing to do."
The Wisconsin spot, meanwhile, accuses Burke of presiding over "debt, mismanagement, [and] waste" when she ran the state's Department of Commerce under ex-Gov. Jim Doyle. Doyle must still poll poorly, as the ad references him twice, referring to the "Doyle-Burke Wisconsin" that yielded "130,000 fewer jobs." That number's accurate, but the claim is specious, since Doyle left office in 2010, at a point when the Great Recession's severe damage to employment numbers nationwide was barely starting to ebb.
3:56 PM PT: FL-13: With a week to go before the special election, conservative blog Red Racing Horses has released a new poll from PMI that has Republican David Jolly leading Democrat Alex Sink 46-44, while "another candidate on the ballot" takes 5 percent. RRH says they asked the question this way rather than by naming Libertarian Lucas Overby because they think it will "reduce the tendency of poll participants to declare their support for a third-party candidate for whom they will not actually vote." This phrasing invites the opposite, though, because low-information voters can mentally fill in the blank with whatever idealized candidate they like, rather than having to say, "Oh, yeah, I'll vote for the Libertarian."
PMI doesn't have much of a track record, though they've conducted a couple of polls for RRH in the past. A Nov. 2012 survey of the LA-03 GOP runoff did pretty well, calling an 18-point win for Rep. Charles Boustany; he prevailed by 22 over Rep. Jeff Landry. But a poll conducted just ahead of last May's special election in SC-01 found Republican Mark Sanford tied at 46 with Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch; Sanford won by 9 points.