Bonito, with pride but a little wistfulness, describes her husband's endless journeys to Alaska's far corners to meet with his constituents, just as his own father, Rep. Nick Begich, once did. There's some terrific vintage footage of the elder Begich from his own campaign days, before he perished in a plane crash with Louisiana Rep. Hale Boggs and two others in 1972, on his way to a fundraiser in Juneau. There are also some great clips from Begich family home movies, featuring a very young (and adorable) Mark.
Bonito goes on to say that her husband "is clearly his father's son" in his determination to keep traveling the state despite its perils, and she describes some of his achievements—"He forced Washington to open up the Arctic Ocean to oil drilling, strengthened our Coast Guard, stood with our fisherman to protect their jobs"—before linking Begich to his dad once more at the end. This ad is singular, but there's almost something a little reminiscent of Heidi Heitkamp's spots in North Dakota last cycle, in terms of the warm and personal feel it conveys. And Begich, who faces an incredibly tough fight for re-election, could certainly use a little of that magic.
• CO-Sen: State Sen. Randy Baumgardner insists that he's staying in the GOP primary for Senate, unlike his one-time rival, state Sen. Owen Hill, who recently departed the contest. But Hill, too, sounded defiant when Rep. Cory Gardner bigfooted his way into the race earlier this month, only to ultimately drop out and endorse Gardner anyway. Baumgardner, though, doesn't have to give up his seat to run, as senators serve four-year terms and he was last elected in 2012. Then again, so was Hill, so we'll see if Baumgardner really sticks to his 'stache.
David Perdue: 29PPP, you'll recall, had Broun out in front, with a 27-14 lead on Gingrey. Perdue, meanwhile, was back with the rest of the pack at 12. Perdue has been on the air a bit, but not sufficiently and not recently enough to make this kind of difference.
Jack Kingston: 19
Phil Gingrey: 12
Paul Broun: 11
Karen Handel: 10
Derrick Grayson: 4
Art Gardner: 1
Meanwhile, on the gubernatorial side, SUSA shows Gov. Nathan Deal with an enormous advantage in the GOP primary. Deal leads Dalton Mayor David Pennington 65-11, with state schools chief John Barge at just 7. And since we're talking about the race, here's a rarity: a Jimmy Carter Alert! Our 39th president isn't very active in Democratic circles these days, but he'll be headlining a fundraiser for his grandson, state Sen. Jason Carter, in New York City on Sunday.
• MI-Sen: Oh, real nice. In response to Democratic Rep. Gary Peters' opposition to Michigan's new law requiring women to purchase special insurance "riders" if they want abortion coverage, Right to Life of Michigan declared that Peters "wants to make sure abortion is accessible and cheap for his daughters." The group has endorsed Republican former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, who so far hasn't said anything about the law, or RTL's slur against Peters.
• NH-Sen: This is fun. If Upworthy were to get its hands on this story, the headline would read something like, "This GOP Senate candidate told a fellow Republican that Obamacare is a 'monstrosity.' You won't believe the response he got." Go, click—you'll enjoy it more than any summary I can offer.
• IL-Gov: So what do you do if your newly minted gubernatorial nominee has all the money in the world? You send him more, of course! The Republican Governors Association for some reason reportedly just shipped $750,000 to uber-rich venture capitalist Bruce Rauner, whose net worth is reportedly in the $1 billion region. And in case Rauner's still feeling a little pressed for cash, Americans for Prosperity is also jumping in with a $120,000 ad buy attacking Gov. Pat Quinn over a proposed new "progressive tax" (spat out with a sneer) that allegedly would raise taxes "on 85 percent of taxpayers."
AFP's coffers may be bottomless, but the RGA's are not—and it's not as though the Koch brothers don't bring their own negatives with them. So why risk getting in Rauner's way?
• MA-Gov: MassINC's latest poll of the Bay State's gubernatorial race for the first time offers a test of the Democratic primary, but there's still nothing new to see here. As every other poll has shown, Attorney General Martha Coakley has a big lead, in this case a 45-14 edge on state Treasurer Steve Grossman, with three other candidates in the low single digits. No one's started spending yet, though, and the primary's not until Sept. 9, so thing may yet change.
As for the general election, Coakley leads 2010 GOP nominee Charlie Baker 41-26, little changed from her 39-29 edge in January. The matchups with all the other Democrats, meanwhile, still yield a ton of undecideds; Grossman, for instance, trails Baker 32-24. That's an artifact we've seen in a lot of Massachusetts polling, but just given the state's demographics, most of those uncertain voters will ultimately come home to the Democrats.
• MD-Gov: Democratic Attorney General Doug Gansler's new ad is more compelling than his earlier efforts. A narrator begins, "When an 11-year-old girl was sexually molested, the judge attacked her in court, saying 'It takes two to tango.' " (Oh yes, this actually happened.) The ad goes on to explain that a Gansler "took that judge on, and created a separate court system" for domestic violence victims. Gansler's campaign says the buy is for six figures and will air on broadcast and cable in both D.C. and Baltimore.
• MI-Gov: A new poll from Benenson Strategy Group on behalf of the Michigan Democratic Party finds GOP Gov. Rick Snyder with a narrow 45-42 lead on Democratic ex-Rep. Mark Schauer. That's the same spread that Denno Research found recently, and it's also in line with the Pollster.com average. But the memo also mentions that Democrats have a monster 42-26 lead on the generic congressional ballot, which is twice as big as the 46-38 edge PPP found in December.
Meanwhile, a new survey from Republican pollster Public Opinion Strategies finds Snyder leading Schauer 45-36. The poll was conducted for Resch Strategies, a Republican consultancy that says they aren't working for Snyder but asked about the gubernatorial race as "part of statewide survey on energy issues" for someone else, presumably.
• CO-04: Cory Gardner and Ken Buck's protestations that there was no backroom deal behind their recent campaign trail switcheroo—Gardner decided to run for Senate at the last minute, and Buck dropped down from the Senate race to seek Gardner's suddenly open House seat—sound more feeble than ever. Despite what's emerging as a competitive GOP primary to replace him, Gardner has now endorsed Buck. Buck, of course, had already endorsed Gardner. It may have simply been the cost of doing business, but it certainly doesn't help Gardner to associate himself with Buck in any way.
• NJ-03: Despite one news report that said Republican leaders in Ocean and Burlington Counties might endorse different candidates for New Jersey's open 3rd Congressional District, the two party organizations have both gotten behind former Randolph Mayor Tom MacArthur. While Ocean and Burlington (which make up the entirety of the district) have often been at odds in the past, one unnamed Democrat suggested that the counties were driven together in an effort to stop former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan. And in the name of party unity, two other hopefuls who lost out to MacArthur also dropped out, retired Rear Admiral Mo Hill and Berkeley Town Council President James Byrnes.
• NY-13: Life just keeps getting tougher and tougher for Rep. Charlie Rangel. After recently lamenting that he couldn't get any love from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio or Barack Obama, Rangel now has to deal with the fact that prominent Hispanic leaders who'd backed him in the past are starting to switch sides in the Democratic primary. The latest reportedly will be Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who would follow City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in endorsing state Sen. Adriano Espaillat. Both had backed Rangel in 2012 when he barely held off Espaillat, and this shift in allegiances feels like an attempt to get behind the eventual winner while there's still time.
• TX-04: Now or Never PAC, the conservative group trying to aid former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe in his runoff against GOP Rep. Ralph Hall, decides to say the quiet part loud in their new ad. Usually campaigns try to be clever and subtle when questioning their opponents' fitness to serve because of their again, but NONPAC goes directly at it, saying: "Ralph Hall was first elected to Congress when Jimmy Carter was president!" (Two Jimmeh references in one Digest, whaddya know.) "Now he's 90—the oldest member in Congress ever." That's the kind of bludgeon that can easily backfire by generating sympathy for its target. It's also not true. Remember a guy named Strom Thurmond?
• Fundraising: In the month of February, the DSCC outraised the NRSC $6.8 million to $5.5 million and has $18.1 million in cash-on-hand versus $12.8 million for the Republicans. Similarly, the DCCC raised $6.4 million while the NRCC took in $5.1 million. House Democrats have $34.4 million in the bank compared to $24.8 million for their GOP counterparts.