• CT-Gov: One out and one in: State Sen. Toni Boucher is quitting the GOP primary for governor, but attorney Martha Dean just took her place. Dean would definitely be an exciting candidate—for Democrats. She's a tea partying gun advocate who last year took a dip in the fetid swamp of the Newtown truthers (!), a group of bottom-feeders so rank that I didn't even know they existed (but probably should have assumed did).
And while Dean's getting a late start against some moneyed candidates (particularly wealthy frontrunner Tom Foley), she did manage to secure the Republican nomination for attorney general in 2010, before getting pasted in the general. So you can't count her out, especially as the only woman in a split field that really lacks a loud-and-proud conservative true believer.
• AR-Sen: The Koch brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity plays it safe—by going vague—with its newest anti-Obamacare ad, this one targeting Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor with a reported $700,000 buy. A woman named "Wanda" (no easily Google-able names like "Julie Boonstra" this time) says she received a letter from Blue Cross Blue Shield saying her insurance coverage would end "as of December of 2014." Wanda doesn't say so herself, but a title card then reads: "Due to Obamacare her plan was cancelled."
While that card flashes on-screen, Wanda complains about how "If you like it, you can keep it" turned out to be bogus, but of course, insurers cancel plans all the time, and we have no way of knowing whether the ACA was actually the cause here. Wanda then calls herself "unlucky," but it sounds like she has over nine months left under her current plan—more than enough time to find a replacement on the exchanges. But should anyone dare point that out, AFP will undoubtedly claim that Democrats are trying to "silence" Wanda.
• IA-Sen: Hrm. Quinnipiac's latest poll of the Iowa Senate race shows Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley mostly holding steady in the low 40s, but all of his Republican opponents have dropped sharply, by as much as 10 points since December. It's quite hard to figure, but here's how Braley performs against the entire field (with trendlines in parentheses):
• 42-30 vs. former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker (43-40)No, there's no real explanation for this. I mean, you could come up with some story about how anti-Obamacare anger was especially high in December, leading to a knee-jerk pro-GOP reaction among some voters that has since faded, but it would be just that—a story. Sometimes, you just have to shrug your shoulders and move on, though for what it's worth, a PPP poll last month more or less split the difference, finding similar scores for Braley but seeing the Republicans in the mid-30s.
• 42-29 vs. state Sen. Joni Ernst (44-38)
• 40-31 vs. businessman Mark Jacobs (46-37)
• 42-27 vs. radio host Sam Clovis (45-34)
• LA-Sen: Here's that Senate Majority PAC ad we mentioned would get a $94,000 run in the previous Digest. It slams "out of state billionaires spending millions to rig the system and elect Bill Cassidy," the Republican front-runner, and though the narrator doesn't identify them by name, the spot features photos of the Koch brothers, captioned as such. Their agenda? "Protect tax cuts for companies that ship our jobs overseas. Cut Social Security and end Medicare as we know it. They even tried to kill relief for hurricane victims." That last bit is a good local twist.
• NE-Sen: Another one of those pop-up conservative groups, this one called Legacy Action, is running a bland new spot touting university president Ben Sasse as a conservative who can "stop Obamacare and wasteful Washington spending." The size of the buy is reportedly $300,000.
• GA-Gov: A new poll from Insider Advantage finds GOP Gov. Nathan Deal actually trailing his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Jason Carter, by a 41-38 margin; just two months ago, they had Deal up 44-22. IA does not have a great reputation, though—in fact, they ranked near the very bottom of Nate Silver's old pollster ratings (sadly offline now)—so don't get too excited. But polling overall has shown some rather soft numbers for Deal, so he's definitely not in great shape.
• IL-Gov: One good thing about the Illinois primary finally taking place Tuesday is that it'll put an end to these incessant polls of the fight for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, whose outcome has been pretty clear for a while. But whatever, here's one more from (who else?) We Ask America, which has businessman Bruce Rauner with a 46-26 lead on state Sen. Kirk Dillard. That compares to a 40-14 Rauner edge a week ago ... so Dillard's shot up, but so has Rauner, and it's just way too late to make much of a difference.
• PA-Gov: John Hanger, one of two former heads of Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection running for governor, is dropping out of the Democratic primary. Hanger entered the race very early but he never caught traction in the polls, and he was forthright in saying that a path to victory had "simply slipped beyond our reach." Five prominent Democrats are still looking to take on GOP Gov. Tom Corbett. The primary is May 20.
• CA-31: Blergh. San Bernardino City Councilman John Valdivia has dropped out of the running for Rep. Gary Miller's open seat, leaving just two Republicans in the race—and four Democrats. That's the exact same configuration, at least by the numbers, that allowed Miller and another Republican to improbably sneak into the November general election via California's top-two primary last cycle. That particular sort of lightning's unlikely to strike again, but Democrats still shouldn't hang out under any trees when the rain starts to come down.
• FL-13: So Alex Sink says she's "keeping an open mind" about running against GOP Rep. David Jolly again in November. If Jolly were to lose, it certainly wouldn't be the first time that the winner of a special election didn't survive his first regular turn before voters.
• FL-19: If you're an executive running for office and you want to tout your record as a "job creator," it probably helps if you've actually created jobs. Republican businessman Curt Clawson, who's running in the special election to replace ex-Rep. Trey Radel, has been running ads arguing that he "saved" jobs, but as a new exposé in the Naples Daily News details, Clawson laid off over 1,300 works and closed seven plants when he served as CEO of an auto-parts company called Hayes Lemmerz over the last decade.
Meanwhile, of course, Clawson was earning seven figures—as much as $12.3 million one year—only to dump hundreds of millions in pension and health care obligations on the U.S. government before the firm was sold to a Brazilian outfit in 2011. Hayes also twice declared bankruptcy on his watch, most recently in 2009. And after a deadly blast killed a worker in Indiana ten years ago, the victim's sister said Clawson offered his assistance, but when she later sought him out, she never heard back. As business records go, this sounds like one you want to run away from, not on.
• ID-02: GOP Rep. Mike Simpson is running his first ad of the primary, backed by a reported $27,000 buy on cable. A narrator repeatedly refers to Simpson's opponent as "personal injury lawyer Bryan Smith" and touts Simpson's conservative bona fides, saying he "forty-nine times to repeal and defund Obamacare" and "voted to repeal the Wall Street bailout and repay taxpayers."
• VA-08: The extremely crowded Democratic primary to replace retiring Rep. Jim Moran has claimed its first victim. State Del. Mark Sickles quit the race on Wednesday, saying his polling did not show him with a path to victory. He didn't endorse anyone else but merely said there are "many talented candidates" running.
• IA State Senate: In a potentially tough development for Iowa Democrats, longtime state Sen. Dennis Black has decided to retire rather than seek re-election this year. Black's district, the 15th, only went for Obama by a 52-47 margin in 2012, so on paper, it's a definite pickup opportunity for the GOP. However, the filing deadline is Friday and it looks like Democrats will field a stronger candidate in former Newton Mayor Chaz Allen. Republicans will have to decide between Mitchellville Mayor Jeremy Filbert and Crystal Bruntz, a human resources executive for a convenience store chain.
• San Jose Mayor: Filing closed Friday in the open seat race for mayor of San Jose, the country's 10th largest city. In fact, San Jose is the biggest city that will conducting mayoral election for the rest of 2014. The primary will be held on June 3, the same day as California's statewide primary. In the almost-certain event that no one clears 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates will advance to the Nov. 4 general election. The San Jose Mercury News has a complete list of candidates.
Ten people are running to succeed term-limited Mayor Chuck Reed: Santa Clara County Supervisor and 2006 candidate Dave Cortese; City Councilmembers Rose Herrera, Sam Liccardo, Madison Nguyen (who is also the city's vice mayor), and Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio; and five Some Dudes. All five serious candidates are Democrats, but there are real ideological differences between them. Cortese is an ally of the city's unions while the four councilmembers are closer to Reed. The outgoing mayor has feuded with labor over pension reform, and those divisions are likely to play a big part in this year's race. (Jeff Singer)
• TX-LG: Ever since he came in second in the GOP primary to state Sen. Dan Patrick by a hefty 41-28 margin, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has looked pretty doomed for the May 27 runoff. After all, as the incumbent, he's not likely to pick up much support among the folks who voted for the other two candidates who didn't make it to the second round (though neither of them have endorsed Patrick). And back in 2012, of course, he famously lost a Senate runoff to Ted Cruz after leading in the initial vote, so his track record isn't good. But Dewhurst says he won't drop out, and indeed, the deadline for him to withdraw has already passed.
But a new poll from Baselice & Associates, taken for a group called Conservative Republicans of Texas that's endorsed Patrick, finds an especially dire picture for Dewhurst. He trails Patrick 55-34, and the matchups only get worse from there among more committed sets of voters (for instance, it's 60-31 with respondents who participated in the primary). There's almost no way this ends well for Mountain Dew.
Amusingly, Baselice polled for Dewhurst in his runoff against Cruz—and blew the race badly. This time, though, they're probably closer to the mark.
• California: Filing closed Wednesday for California's June 3 primary. Unfortunately, the Secretary of State's office will not release an official candidate list until late March. The Nooner has been doing an excellent job keeping track of who has filed and has a list here. We'll be doing a full round-up of who's in once the state makes everything final. (Jeff Singer)
• Deaths: Reubin Askew, who served as the Democratic governor of Florida from 1970 to 1978, died on Thursday at the age of 85. You may remember him as the guy with the weird name who finished more-or-less last in the woeful lot that was the 1984 presidential primary, but before that, he was probably the most progressive Governor that Florida has ever had (part of the "New South" gubernatorial class that also included Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton). There was a lot of progress on civil rights in Florida during his terms, as well as institution of a corporate income tax and new disclosure laws about money in politics. (David Jarman)