• TX-04: Remember Now or Never PAC? They're the geniuses who spent millions propping up certified nutter Joe Walsh last cycle, in a hopeless race he predictably lost by 10 points. Now they're back, and they're trying to help former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe defeat nonagenarian Rep. Ralph Hall in the Republican runoff for Texas' dark red 4th Congressional District. NONPAC (as they style themselves) is running a new ad that's all about how very old Hall is—and that he's a filthy earmarker, too.
Only one of the earmarks they rail against... well... let's just say it's rather unusual to find conservatives upset with funding for abstinence-only education:
But seriously, if you take a closer look at the full list of Hall's purported sins, there are a few other items there are odd for a conservative group to critique. There's $90 million to upgrade the M1A1 Abrams to the M1A2 SEP variant—in other words, a program to give Reagan-era tanks modern armor and communications systems—and also $45 million for a "high-intensity drug trafficking areas program." So, unless these guys at NONPAC are Paulist fanatics who think we should give drug lords and Russkies free rein and let the invisible hand sort it out, it seems like they're just lazily tossing out whatever random expensive-sounding crap they could find without thinking about what it might be used for.
More broadly, this is the kind of thing that can happen when a clueless outside group barges into a race it knows little about and just starts spouting off its catechism. You always need to know the battlefield you're entering, especially when tanks are involved.
(Credit to K. Travis Ballie for the exceptional catch.) (David Nir & David Jarman)
• AK-Sen: We always encourage caution when interpreting stories about campaign staff turnover, since it's always very hard to get an accurate read on what's truly happening. Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell's shakeup, though, doesn't sound like it sprung from a happy place. He just sacked both his campaign manager and communications director and acknowledged it was "one of the toughest decisions" he's had to make.
Treadwell got badly outraised by former state Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan in the last quarter, $1.25 million to $228,000, and the establishment has made its preference for Sullivan clear, so the staffing moves seem like the sort of thing you'd expect from a campaign struggling to stay aloft. If Treadwell crashes and burns, though, then that will probably make life harder for tea partier Joe Miller, who's trailed in the polls but perhaps had a prayer if Sullivan and Treadwell ate into one another's bases.
• CO-Sen: Democrats are reportedly preparing to strike back against the Kochs in Colorado. The Colorado Independent says that the Senate Majority PAC has bought at least $112,000 worth of airtime in Denver, though no spots are available as yet.
Thom Tillis: 28This is SUSA's first poll of the race, and they give Tillis, the state House speaker, the largest lead he's ever seen. But, as we saw with the Senate primary in Georgia the other day, SurveyUSA once again has a different take from PPP, which actually found Tillis dropping into a 14-all tie with Brannon, a physician and tea party supporter.
Greg Brannon: 15
Heather Grant: 11
Ted Alexander: 7
Mark Harris: 6
Alex Bradshaw: 4
Jim Snyder: 4
Edward Kryn: 3
There are no general election matchups, but Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan sports a pretty dire 34-54 job approval rating. Then again, everyone else is under water, too, regardless of party: Barack Obama's at 39-54, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's at 34-51, and Republican Sen. Richard Burr's at 34-41, the least sorry of the lot. But only Hagan, of course, is up for re-election this year.
• AR-Gov: There are many things campaigns have to consider when publishing internal polls for public consumption, but because of the inherent skepticism that greets the selective release of private data, one of the most important concerns is whether your numbers pass the basic smell test. And Republican ex-Rep. Asa Hutchinson is definitely pushing it with this new survey from OnMessage, which finds him up 44-36 over his Democratic opponent, ex-Rep. Mike Ross.
OnMessage claims that Hutchinson has "maintained" an 8-point lead since last July, but only one long-ago poll showed him with an advantage that big (from Republican pollster Harper Polling), and Ross actually had a 2-point edge in the Pollster.com average before this latest addition. What's more, OnMessage's handful of late polls in 2012 were all biased in the GOP direction—a couple of them heavily so:
• PA-Gov: The ad wars are heating up in Pennsylvania's race for governor. State Treasurer Rob McCord is the latest Democrat to hit the airwaves, with a reported $544,000 buy backing two separate, minute-long ads. In the first, McCord, speaking to the camera, explains that he was raised by a single mom, then after offering some more biographical information, ultimately pivots to discussing his opposition to Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's cuts to education funding. The second is similar but goes into more detail about his modest upbringing and offers some harder slams on Corbett.
Another Democrat, Katie McGinty, is also out with her second ad in a week. McGinty says she wants to reverse those cuts to schools by taxing energy companies as well as raise the minimum wage. Smart Media Group reports that McGinty is spending at least $140,000. And Corbett, the universal punching bag in all these ads, is shelling out some dough, too. He's tossing another $280,000 on to TV, though his spots are not available yet.
• AR-02: Big Dog Alert! We already knew Bill Clinton was returning to his old stomping grounds early next month to help raise money for his former FEMA director, James Lee Witt, in the open 4th Congressional District. Now he's expanded his schedule to include an event for former North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays, who's running in another open-seat race in the 2nd.
• FL-19: Republican Curt Clawson is ripping into his two primary opponents in a new minute-long ad, and while junkies will appreciate the inside baseball that fuels his attacks, it'll be interesting to see whether this kind of stuff can gain traction with voters—if it's even accurate to begin with. A narrator begins by introducing a "strange voicemail" ex-state Rep. Paige Kreegel left for Clawson on March 14, in which Kreegel says he "read or heard" that "the PAC reported" they are "going to spend so much negative on her and so much negative on you."
"The PAC" in this is a pro-Kreegel super PAC called "Values Are Vital," and "her" refers to state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, the third candidate in the race. Clawson's ad then tries to explain how coordination between super PACs and campaigns is impermissible and all but accuses Kreegel of having access to improper information about what Value Are Vital had planned, claiming he could face criminal charges!
But Kreegel told the Tampa Bay Times that he learned of the group's expenditures thanks to an FEC report they filed—the very same day he left that message for Clawson. (There's also a throw-in slam against Benacquisto at the end of Clawson's ad, claiming she violated election law "105 times.")
Kreegel certainly wasn't wrong: Value Are Vital did go up with an ad attacking both Clawson and Benacquisto as liberal squishes (the former for donating to Democrats, the latter for once having been a Democrat), while praising Kreegel as "the conservative choice." But while Clawson may have been weirded out by Kreegel's voicemail and fantasized he'd struck electoral gold, unless he has timestamps to prove otherwise, it's hard to see how Clawson can substantiate his claim that Kreegel found out about the super PAC ad buy via some kind of inside tip-off, rather than from the FEC website.
• GA-01: Rep. Jack Kingston talks all about his thriftiness in his second ad, which mostly features an ugly-ass 20-year-old woodie station wagon that he says he keeps "because it still runs." (Reasonable; I won't argue it.) Kingston uses that as a hook to talk about how he reduced his own office's budget and "cut Obama's budget over $3 billion." There's no citation for that last claim, though fans of psychedelic retro typefaces will be pleased to see that Kingston is once again using his homebrew version of Cooper Black for his campaign logo.
• LA-06: An automated poll from the Glascock Group (never heard of 'em) finds Democratic ex-Gov. Edwin Edwards leading the GOP field in Louisiana's 6th District, but there are a few caveats here. First, the numbers: In a jungle primary scenario, Edwards takes 43 percent while state Sen. Dan Claitor gets 20 and businessman Paul Dietzel 19, with a bunch of minor contenders in the low single digits. However, both Dietzel and Garrett Graves, a former official under Gov. Bobby Jindal, beat Edwards 52-47 in hypothetical runoffs. (Graves only takes 4 percent in the primary, and Dietzel wasn't tested against Edwards.)
This is actually quite a good showing for the Democrat, given the deep red nature of this district, but as we say, there are a few things to be aware of with this poll. For one, Glascock didn't allow respondents to say they were undecided, a serious no-no. For another, all the candidates were described with brief identifiers, like "Republican state senator and tax attorney" (Claitor) or "Republican Baton Rouge businessman" (Dietzel), which can be an acceptable practice but isn't typical.
LaPolitics also unearthed a Dietzel internal from last month conducted by JMC Analytics that had him edging Claitor 18-17 in a runoff (not a typo! that's just how unknown all of these candidates are). But when paired with Edwards, Dietzel leads 43-34.
• MN-07: Now that Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson has decided to seek re-election, the NRCC is making sure he feels nice and welcome. In a new ad, a man who says he owns a small company complains that Peterson's support of Obamacare "threatens the future of my business" but doesn't offer any further detail. The size of the buy is a reported $50,000.
• NY-01: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who recently endorsed self-funding attorney George Demos, has now cut a television ad on Demos' behalf. Rudy says that Demos, a fellow former prosecutor like himself, wants to "fix the mess" in Washington, just like he once ran to "fix the mess" in NYC.
Demos faces state Sen. Lee Zeldin in the June GOP primary, and while most Empire State Republicans seem to despise Demos (one called him "the genital herpes of Long Island politics"), there's an interesting sign that the establishment is taking him seriously. Demos has been attacking Zeldin as an Obamacare supporter because he once voted for a bill that appropriated money for the state's new insurance exchanges. The charge has made Zeldin hopping mad, but he's still searching for an effective way to fight back.
So as a possible favor to Zeldin, state Senate Republicans (and their Democratic abettors in the IDC) recently passed a new budget resolution that called for defunding the exchanges. And Zeldin is now running a radio ad in which he claims he "led the fight against Obamacare in the state Senate." An extremely thin claim, but this vote does give him a thread to grasp.
• PA-09: Rep. Bill Shuster is keeping up the pressure on his minor league tea party challenger, Art Halvorson, with a new, mostly animated ad that slams Halvorson as a hypocrite on government subsidies. After playing an audio clip of Halvorson saying "All subsidies are bad" (matched to a bobble-headed farmer caricature), the narrator alleges that Halvorson applied for and accepted half a million in subsidies for a farm he owns in Iowa. Not the most brilliant spot, but the quirky visuals might help it cut through the clutter.
• WI-06: Veteran GOP Rep. Tom Petri, who's been in office since 1979, may become the next establishment-type Republican to find himself with a primary challenge on his hands. State Rep. Duey Stroebel, who seems to have a reliably conservative record, says he's considering a run against Petri. Stroebel doesn't have a ton of time, but Wisconsin's primary isn't until Aug. 12.
• DC Mayor: With less than two weeks to go before the April 1 Democratic primary, PPP has a new poll out on behalf of some local media outlets. It finds embattled Mayor Vincent Gray deadlocked with City Councilor Muriel Bowser 27-27.
Gray's re-election prospects have always been dicey due to allegations of campaign finance violations during his 2010 run for mayor. A Gray win, as we've noted, depends on his multitude of foes splitting the vote and allowing him to slip though with a plurality. However, these latest numbers indicate that Bowser is emerging as the consensus anti-Gray candidate; fellow Councilor Jack Evans is all the way back in third place with 13 percent, and a plurality of respondents (39 percent) rank Bowser as their second choice.
It's worth noting that this poll only called landlines. It's unclear how that may effect the results: Mark Blumenthal examined the cross-tabs of a previous Marist poll and found cell-phone respondents were slightly more pro-Gray than the rest of the sample. In any case, as the primary approaches, we'' hopefully see more polling to either confirm or contradict PPP.
P.S. Check out this piece about Gray campaigning with the controversial former Mayor Marion Berry for a truly excellent Freudian slip. (Jeff Singer)
• Center Forward: I guess someone has to carry the sad torch of post-partisan centrist moderate bipartisanship, and the privilege goes to a group called Center Forward. The say they're spending $755,000 to air ads on behalf of seven member of Congress who roll like they do, middle-of-the-road-style: Democratic Reps. Ron Barber (AZ-02), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09), Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Pete Gallego (TX-23), and John Carney (DE-AL), and Republican Reps. Charlie Dent (PA-15), and Richard Hanna (NY-22).
All the Democrats save Carney are Blue Dogs who face tough races. The two Republicans, meanwhile, have no serious opposition in the general election, though Hanna may have to contend with a primary challenge, so I'm not sure how much he'll appreciate Center Forward's help. One of their spots is available; it praises Barber for voting against congressional pay raises and donating his salary to charity during the shutdown. Exciting stuff!
• Utah: Candidate filing closed in Utah on Thursday, a state that chiefly relies on an unusual system of nominating conventions for both parties. Candidates who win at least 60 percent of the delegate vote at the April 26 conventions win their party's nomination outright; if no one clears that threshold, the top two candidates advance to the June 24 primary. The state has a list of candidates here.
The attorney general race's is the only statewide contest on the ballot, thanks to a special election necessitated by the resignation of former incumbent John Swallow, who left office last year amidst never-ending allegations of ethical violations. Appointed Republican Attorney General Sean Reyes faces no intra-party opposition. The Democrats are fielding attorney Charles Stormont.
Three of the state's four House members are running again. All three Republicans face no serious opposition for renomination and all represent seats Daily Kos Elections rates as Safe Republican. Democrats have an interesting candidate in the 2nd, with state Sen. Luz Robles running against freshman Rep. Chris Stewart. However, the district backed Romney 68-29, so Robles has the toughest of tasks ahead of her.
The delegation's lone Democrat, 4th District Rep. Jim Matheson, is retiring. Three Republicans are running to replace him: Saratoga Springs Mayor and 2012 nominee Mia Love; State Board of Education member Jennifer Johnson; and 2012 candidate Bob Fuehr. Love won the nomination outright at the 2012 convention and should be the heavy favorite going in. The Democratic nominee is likely to be attorney Doug Owens, whose father was former Rep. Wayne Owens. We rate this seat as Safe Republican: Romney won this district 67-30, and despite Owens' pedigree, Matheson was almost certainly the only Democrat who could hold it. (Jeff Singer)