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Leading Off:

NY-Gov: As expected, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has finally announced his campaign for governor of New York, making this one of the clearest instances ever of a candidate whose only goal is to "lose well." That's because 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. New York is simply a very blue state and is only getting bluer.

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. Losing a bruising statewide campaign for governor certainly isn't the easiest way to interview for a new job. But even after he loses, Astorino will still have three more years to serve as county executive, giving him plenty of time to plan his next steps, whatever they may be.


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—or a carrot, really—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. Indeed, our own back-of-the-envelope math based on what we know about Daily Kos' own email program suggests that a list like this could shrink by around 25 to 30 percent if left fallow for a year-and-a-half.

On an entirely separate Iowa Senate note, PPP's 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. And even if he ran again, Grassley doesn't look invulnerable.

More immediately, PPP shows Democrats with 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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

TX-Gov: Rasmussen: Wendy Davis (D): 41, Greg Abbott (R): 53.

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."


AZ-07: These days, when a politician comes out, it's not really major news from a campaign point of view—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 one bit the courage it takes to say so publicly, especially in Arizona, where Gallardo specifically identified the debate over a recently vetoed law that would have permitted business owners to discriminate against gays as a "game changer" for him.

But for the narrow purposes of the Digest, 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.

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."

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."

Grab Bag:

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.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (11+ / 0-)

    Get the Daily Kos Elections Digest in your inbox every weekday. Sign up here.

    by David Nir on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 05:00:15 AM PST

  •  Astorino (0+ / 0-)

    As long as he doesn't Paladino himself and destroy his image entirely, he could have a career in conservative NY media. I'm picturing a NY version of the Bob & Kendall Ehrlich radio show.

  •  TX-Dems (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MartyM, Stude Dude, Odysseus

    Why is it so hard for us to get decent candidates running for statewide office.  Obviously its an uphill climb, but we have to try.

    Why don't people like...

    Chet Edwards
    Nick Lampson
    Max Sandlin
    Chris Bell

    Run for Statewide offices?  I know Bell did once, but could't some of these guys put up a decent race so we don't have to worry about LaRouchies potentially winning our nominations?

    32/D/M/NY-01/SSP&RRH: Tekzilla

    by Socks The Cat on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 05:43:08 AM PST

  •  Alex Sink? (0+ / 0-)

    What are her chances of winning really?

    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 06:31:17 AM PST

  •  NYTimes had an interesting, if not entirely (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevenaxelrod, milkbone

    believable, story about Astorino and Cuomo on Feb 27th.

    Gist of the story is that Cuomo has been conniving to get somebody other than Astorino in the GOP to run for Governor because:
    1. He is just messing with the Republicans, or
    2. He fears Astorino more than he is letting on, or
    3. This one is the conspiracy theory:

    A third explanation, however, is full of palace intrigue: A number of people who have spoken to Mr. Cuomo say he also has expressed his desire to ensure that his eventual opponent is not far to the right on social issues. This, he has argued, could alienate moderate Republicans and other voters so much that Republican candidates for the State Senate could suffer too, potentially costing Republicans control of the chamber.
    Such concern for the Republican Party’s fortunes may seem counterintuitive for a heavyweight in the national Democratic Party who is often mentioned as a potential presidential candidate. But Mr. Cuomo actually has a friendly working relationship with many Senate Republicans. He and those senators have been at odds on social issues, but he has relied on their backing for his fiscal agenda, which has focused on issues of great importance to Republicans, like restraining government spending and cutting taxes.
    Cuomo does seem to prefer to work the GOP controlled senate (controlled because of Dem defectors) to working with more liberal and progressive Dems.

    So maybe Astorino is just messing with Cuomo.

  •  They Raise Money for a Living (0+ / 0-)

    Why wouldn't Astorino run for governor? Or for anything else that moves? Cronies will pay him to do it. He will be the hub of deals proposed for the next governor term, which his opponent could pick up if he's bribed to do them instead.

    The bribery makes the campaign.

    Nobody should be allowed to give an official or a candidate one cent. Any campaign donations should be given to a single account that all registered candidates can draw from equally. Every candidate and official should be audited every year. Instead we have bribery, corruption and carefully selected incompetence.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 08:52:26 AM PST

  •  As per "Astorino to try to land a media gig" (0+ / 0-)

    Teabagger runs for office. Teabagger is demolished in the general election. Teabagger becomes mouthpiece for GOP, hate radio, FOX News, etc.

    Happens every year. Sarah Palin, Joe the Plumber, Allen West, et al. It's a business plan.

    Why not? It's not like they have the least big of anything POSITIVE to add to our American life...they might as well get rich doing the easiest thing in the world--talking and lying, preferably fast Luntz-flavored double talk.

    "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

    by DaddyO on Thu Mar 06, 2014 at 09:07:52 AM PST

  •  astorino (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    As a New Yorker, you forgot another winner. He's big on fracking.All of us upstaters can't wait to have gas coming out of our faucets.

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