8:37 AM PT: TX-Sen: Fortunately for Democrats, that University of Texas poll turned out to be way wrong, and wealthy dentist David Alameel wound up in first place by a wide margin in Tuesday's night's primary. Unfortunately, he took 47 percent of the vote—just short of the 50 percent mark needed to avoid a runoff. That means he will indeed have to vanquish LaRouchie maniac Kesha Rogers, who finished with 22, in a second round on May 27. (Attorney Maxey Scherr wound up in third place with 18.) However, given how close Alameel came in the initial voting, he should be able to do Rogers in without too much difficulty.
8:49 AM PT: KY-Gov: Former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner, a Republican, just became the first candidate from either party to declare for next year's open seat governor's race in Kentucky. Heiner ran for mayor of Louisville in 2010 but lost by a narrow 51-48 margin to Democrat Greg Fischer. One news report described Heiner as a "millionaire businessman," so he may be able to self-fund, but a poll just the other day showed him starting off well behind another likely Republican contender, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, trailing 42-14 in a hypothetical GOP primary.
9:17 AM PT: IA-Sen: As they do from time to time, PPP looked ahead to 2016 and tested a possible matchup between veteran GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley and Democratic ex-Gov. Tom Vilsack. Grassley remains quite popular, which explains his 48-41 edge over Vilsack and his 51-32 job approval rating. But Vilsack's favorables are decent, at 45-35, and if Grassley were to retire (he'd be 83 on Election Day in '16), Democrats would have a strong pickup shot here.
More immediately, Democrats have the slightest of leads on the generic legislative ballot this year, 41-40. Dems are trying to hang on to their narrow 26-24 majority in the state Senate this year, which won't be an easy chamber to hold. The Republicans, meanwhile, only control the state House 53-47, but their grip on that body is more secure.
10:29 AM PT: MI-Sen: Americans for Prosperity is at it again, with a new ad from Michigan resident Julie Boonstra, a cancer patient whose first spot for the Koch brothers failed to withstand mountains of scrutiny. Now Boonstra and AFP have decided to change strategies and instead simply pound the table:
My name is Julie Boonstra, and I have leukemia. Being diagnosed with the cancer—that was the scariest thing I have ever faced. Because of Obamacare, I am now stuck with a plan that doesn't work for me. My choice was taken away from me. All I want is to be listened to. There are thousands of people out there who are hurting because of Obamacare. When I heard that that Congressman Peters was going after my credibility, it was devastating. I just want Congressman Peters to help me, to listen to me. Instead, he is trying to silence me. Cancer is hard enough. I just want to be happy with my plan, and I want it for everybody else out there that's being hurt by this. I'm trying to speak out for you, and I'm trying to get Washington to listen to us."Boonstra initially made it sound like her new plan was simply unaffordable, but that didn't hold up. At most, according to Boonstra, her old insurance plan didn't require her to pay much in the way of out-of-pocket expenses. But her premiums were quite high, and as many fact-checkers have noted, the ACA caps out-of-pocket costs annually, so Boonstra's total healthcare expenses haven't changed because her premiums are now much lower.
AFP then started arguing that it's the unpredictability of monthly expenses that's the problem, but Boonstra admitted she doesn't have any numbers to back up this claim because she hasn't been on her new plan long enough. So instead Boonstra is now saying that Democratic Senate candidate Gary Peters is trying to "silence" her, when all his campaign did was request that TV stations obtain documentation from AFP backing up their original ad. (The support AFP did eventually cough up was laughable.)
And of course, AFP is spending $300,000 to air this ad alone and has already shelled out $2 million in Michigan, so Boonstra is far from being silenced. But with her actual claims about Obamacare's failings in tatters, she's fallen back on a purely emotional appeal. Jonathan Chait offered this assessment: "So the new rule in conservative media is that, if you have a terrible enough disease, your claims can be used in attack ads and any reporter who tries to verify them is insensitive to their illness." And any campaign that questions them is engaged in an effort to "silence" the speaker. The sad thing is, this tactic may actually work.
10:45 AM PT: AZ-07: These days, when a politician comes out, it's not really major news—and that's a good thing, needless to say. So ordinarily, I'd pass over the fact that state Sen. Steve Gallardo, who recently declared for the Democratic primary in Arizona's open 7th District, just announced that he's gay (though I don't discount the courage it takes to say so publicly one bit). But there is a potential electoral angle here that's worth a mention. As you know, 9th District Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is thinking about switching to the 7th, and while she'd face serious obstacles, one asset she'd bring to the race is that she's bisexual, and Phoenix actually has a sizable LGBT population.
Sinema's already been endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory fund for re-election—in the 9th. But would they stick with her in the 7th? It's possible they might not, particularly if Gallardo—who, like the majority of the population in the district, is Hispanic—looks more appealing.
11:14 AM PT: NY-Gov: As expected, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has finally announced his campaign for governor, making this one of the clearest instances ever of a candidate whose only goal is to "lose well." Astorino, a Republican who just won re-election last fall, is sure to get smashed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Despite representing a swingy suburban county, Astorino is very conservative (anti-choice, anti-marriage equality) while Cuomo remains broadly popular despite infuriating progressives, and his war chest is beyond enormous. Indeed, early polling shows Cuomo defeating Astorino by an average margin of 62-23.
So what's Astorino's parlay play here? Even if he can somehow hold Cuomo to a "respectable" margin, he wouldn't have a much better shot at another statewide office somewhere else down the line, barring a wave year or a massive Democratic screw-up. As for the House, Astorino's home of Mount Pleasant is in the blue-leaning 17th District; if Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey were to retire (she's 76), he'd make a compelling candidate there, but it's still not a good seat for Republicans. Astorino could also conceivably carpetbag elsewhere in the Hudson Valley, but there's no looming open seat that's really begging for him.
Another, very different alternative would be for Astorino to try to land a media gig—before entering politics, he was a radio host and producer and still keeps a foot in that world. But even after he loses, Astorino will still have three more years to serve as county executive, which would give him plenty of time to plan his next steps, whatever they may be.
11:50 AM PT: Texas: There were only a handful of polls taken before Tuesday night's Texas primaries, and, in fairness, low-turnout affairs such as these are hard to survey. But what little data we had didn't turn out to be particularly accurate, as Steve Singiser details in his new polling post-mortem.
12:10 PM PT: VA-Sen: Roanoke College's new poll finds Democratic Sen. Mark Warner defeating former RNC chief Ed Gillespie 56-29; in mid-January, they had Warner ahead 50-21. But Roanoke has a truly awful track record, so you can't pay them much attention.
12:50 PM PT: IL-13: With under two weeks to go before Illinois' March 18 primary, Democrat Ann Callis is releasing a second TV ad, touting her efforts as a judge to "crack down on violent criminals" and "stop the big banks when they tried to kick families out of their homes." According to Roll Call's sources, Callis' total ad spending is up to $47,000, while her primary rival, physics professor George Gollin, has spent $58,000. Gollin was reportedly set to release a second ad himself, but if he has, it hasn't shown up on his YouTube account yet.
Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Rodney Davis is also on the airwaves, even though former Miss America Erika Harold failed to ever materialize as a real threat. Reflecting that fact, his spot is more geared toward a general election message of wanting to "cut waste, create jobs, and repeal and replace Obamacare."
1:01 PM PT: IL-Gov: We Ask America seems determined to poll the March 18 GOP gubernatorial primary to death, but their latest results tell the same story they have for a long while now: Ultra-wealthy investor Bruce Rauner is running away with the nomination. He now leads with 40 percent, his highest score ever, while his nearest opponent, state Sen. Kirk Dillard, has dropped back to 14. More instructive is this chart that WAA put together of their own polling. That sharp uptick in the green line dating back to last November shows when Rauner first started spending like mad, and he simply never stopped.
Indeed, Rauner's acting like he already has this one in the bag, since he's now running a general election ad aimed at Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. The spot tries to cram in far too many messages at once, accusing Quinn of responsibility for "90,000 jobs lost, massive tax hikes, thousands of children in failing schools, and the worst pension debt and credit rating in America." But the ad's just getting started! The second half features an equally lengthy list of "Rauner's four goals," which are "more jobs, less spending, better schools, and real term limits." This extensive catalog makes the ad feel like a Passover haggadah—and there's a reason why seders aren't 30 seconds long.
1:21 PM PT: IA-Sen: Maybe I'm wrong to view things this way, but I sort of feel like an endorsement from Mitt Romney in a GOP primary would be pretty much equivalent to an endorsement from Joe Lieberman in a Democratic primary, i.e., something nobody wants. I guess I must be wrong, though, because Romney just gave his backing to state Sen. Joni Ernst, who is seeking the Republican nomination for Senate in Iowa. There's a caveat, however, which is that Romney actually sent a fundraising email on Ernst's behalf, apparently to his own list. It's apparently his first such email this cycle, though, which makes you wonder just how active that list still is, since these kinds of lists decay without proper cultivation.
1:37 PM PT: WI-Gov: After getting hammered by the RGA for a few weeks, Democrat Mary Burke is going on the air with her first ad of the campaign. First, the narrator mentions that 930 people work at Trek, the family-owned bicycle company Burke "helped build." Then, he points out that Wisconsin had "72,000 more jobs" when Burke was the state's commerce secretary than today—direct pushback against the RGA's specious (and bogus) claim about the state losing jobs in the "Doyle-Burke Wisconsin." The ad concludes with an attack on GOP Gov. Scott Walker, saying that "unemployment's up" under his tenure and "job prospects are down to 45th in the nation."
1:53 PM PT: FL-13: Democrat Alex Sink has launched what's likely her final ad ahead of next week's special election. She talks directly to the camera (with shots of interaction with reg'lar folks mixed in), mostly about her desire for bipartisanship. The only really specific policy issue she mentions is to "cap flood insurance."