• WV-03: Here's an interesting angle to the debate over the Affordable Care Act that's playing out with particular salience in West Virginia—a state you might expect to be particularly hostile to Obamacare because, well, Obama. However, as the law's supporters point out, thanks to the efforts of the late Sen. Robert Byrd, the ACA contains a provision that makes it much easier for miners who contract black lung disease (or their widows) to win federal benefits. That means calling for Obamacare's total repeal, like Republican congressional candidate Evan Jenkins has, is much riskier position than you might expect.
Indeed, a recent House Majority PAC ad raised this very issue, leading Jenkins to demand the spot be taken off the air, because he insists he supports black lung benefits. However, as the West Virginia Gazette reports, Jenkins "has not explained what he would do to protect those benefits if the ACA were repealed." And despite the Jenkins campaign's claims that some stations had stopped airing the ad, station managers contacted by the Gazette say it's still on TV.
• GA-Sen: A second consecutive poll finds businessman David Perdue leading Georgia's GOP Senate primary, albeit by a much closer margin than the last. The survey, from Landmark Communications and Rosetta Stone Communications on behalf of Channel 2 Action News, has Perdue at 21, with Reps. Jack Kingston and Paul Broun tied at 15, Rep. Phil Gingrey at 13, and Rep. Karen Handel at 10. A SurveyUSA poll earlier this month had Perdue up 29-19 on Kingston. Either way, this nomination is very much up for grabs, and a runoff is likely.
• IA-Sen: As soon as we heard about Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley's remarks slighting GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley as "a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school," we wondered if they'd get used in an attack ad. Two days later, the answer is "yes." A conservative group founded by a couple of former Mitt Romney staffers called Priorities for Iowa says they're spending $250,000 to air an ad featuring Braley's comments.
The heart of the spot, though, isn't particularly well-executed. The ad bounces back and forth between a narrator trying to provide context and fragments of Braley speaking, with some kind of night-vision filter layered on to make the video footage look like it captured a super-secret event.
Narrator: Bruce Braley is putting Iowa's Senate seat up for sale.Republicans are lucky they captured Braley on tape, but they diminish the impact of his own words by splicing it with all this chatter. Braley, though, isn't helping his own case, sending out a press release touting his agriculture cred that was filled with misspellings of common farming terms. It's such a minor thing, but when you're back on your heels like this, you don't want to wind up looking like Harold Ford in a hunting cap.
Braley: If you help me win this race...
Narrator: Caught at a closed-door fundraiser with trial lawyers in Texas, Braley says if they don't help him, Chuck Grassley...
Braley: A farmer from Iowa, who never went to law school...
Narrator: Might be the next Senate Judiciary Committee chairman.
Meanwhile, there's also a new Rasmussen poll, half of which was conducted after Braley's "farmer" jab hit the news: Braley: 41, Mark Jacobs (R): 38; Braley 40, Joni Ernst (R): 37; Braley: 40, Matt Whitaker (R): 36; Braley 44, Sam Clovis (R): 31.
• LA-Sen: Speaking about a health care proposal of his own at a recent meeting of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy claimed his plan "actually reflects the reality of who the uninsured are: relatively less sophisticated, less comfortable with forms, less educated." But as Sy Mukherjee points out, most people who applied for Medicaid prior to Obamacare were rejected because they didn't meet the program's strict income eligibility requirements, and many others found the individual insurance market unaffordable.
Called out for his statements, Cassidy tried to change his tune, saying "the uninsured come from all segments of society. This includes the more and the less educated." Of course, that's pretty much exactly the opposite of what he originally said.
• MI-Sen: Democratic Rep. Gary Peters, who's already faced a barrage of negative TV ads from the Koch brothers, is going on the air for the first time with two ads of his own. One is a minute-long biographical spot that stresses Peters' middle-class roots and mentions his own military service, including the fact that he volunteered to serve again after 9/11. It's light on policy specifics, but one line that stands out is the narrator's claim that Peters broke "with his party to oppose billions in wasteful spending." The second ad is 30 seconds but is very similar thematically.
As for the size of the buy, MLive says "it will be more than $1 million," which is quite a lot if accurate.
• NC-Sen: This is kind of funny. State House Speaker Thom Tillis recently sent a personal email to one of his GOP primary rivals, clergyman Mark Harris, to complain about Harris' allegedly "going negative" on him—but seriously, if you're upset at one of your opponents, do you really think whining to him is going to bring you satisfaction?
So of course, Harris proved how bad Tillis' idea was by sending a lengthy email of his own to his supporters that included his direct reply to Tillis, declaring that "discussing the facts of one's record is not 'going negative.' " Harris didn't publicize Tillis' original email, but Harris' response makes it clear what the general thrust was. No one should have to say this, but if you're having a bad day on the campaign trail, find someone you trust to bitch to, not the guy you're running against.
• OK-Sen-B: The Senate Conservatives Fund just endorsed former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon in his bid for the Senate, becoming the first major (or at least mid-major) conservative group to pick sides in the race. They haven't announced any spending plans as yet, but they say they're trying to directly raise money for Shannon's campaign, with a $50,000 goal. Rep. James Lankford is also running for the GOP nomination.
• SD-Sen: Two Republicans are out with their first ads in South Dakota's open seat Senate race: ex-Gov. Mike Rounds and physician Annette Bosworth. Rounds' is a minute-long spot in which he vaguely sums up his record as governor: "Over the years, we built one of the country's strongest economies. A nationally recognized quality of life. We've balanced our budgets, lived within our means, and created a place where young people are proud to make a living and raise their families." These are general election themes—there's no red meat for the base whatsoever, which suggests Rounds isn't taking his primary very seriously.
What little polling there's been shows he doesn't have to, but that isn't stopping Bosworth from taking to the air, too. Her spot, though, is even more anodyne. A narrator declares that Bosworth (shown in her white lab coat) "has brought her caring, healing touch to thousands in need. Now she wants to care for you in the United States Senate." Usually these conservative doctors at least rail against Obamacare or something. If Bosworth wants to have even a remote prayer, she has to out-crazy Rounds big-time. All she's doing here, though, is out-nurturing him.
But Rounds is certainly out-spending Bosworth. He's already shelled out at least $370,000, while Bosworth has only spent $35,000, though she claims her total buy will run to $100,000. And if you want some incredibly granular details on the full advertising picture, the Argus Leader's David Montgomery has gone above and beyond the call with this summary, breaking down spending by race and TV station for all of South Dakota's major campaigns.
• VA-Sen: Quinnipiac's new poll, their first of the race, finds Democratic Sen. Mark Warner leading former RNC chief Ed Gillespie 46-31. Warner sports a strong 55-33 job approval rating, so this is yet another strange Quinnipiac survey that features a wide gap between those who approve of an incumbent and the smaller contingent that says it'll actually vote for him.
• AR-Gov: I definitely didn't expect Bill Clinton's impeachment to come up on the campaign trail this year, but gotta admit, this bit from Democratic Mike Ross dissing Asa Hutchinson, his likely GOP opponent, gave me a chuckle:
Hutchinson was one of the House managers who argued before senators—a group that included his brother, former Sen. Tim Hutchinson—for Clinton's removal over lies he told about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The Senate voted to acquit the 42nd president of charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in 1999.Tim Hutchinson, by the way, was the dude that Sen. Mark Pryor, who of course is up for re-election this fall, originally beat in 2002 to win a Senate seat in the first place.
"There's 435 members of Congress and less than a handful actually conducted the trial in the U.S. Senate," Ross told The Associated Press. "For an Arkansan to say 'Send me to remove Arkansas' only president from office' shows how partisan he is."
Ross also dinged Hutchinson's legal expertise, quipping: "He may be the only lawyer in America who has conducted a trial with his brother on the jury and lost."
• CA-Gov: PPIC's new poll of the California governor's race finds Democratic incumbent Jerry Brown beating Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly 47-10 in the June top-two primary, with former Treasury official Neel Kashkari and Laguna Hills Mayor Andrew Blount both at just 2 percent. That's little changed from November, when Brown led Donnelly 46-16 (Kashkari and Blount were not included). Donnelly, however, has almost no money, and his campaign manager departed under cloudy circumstances earlier this month. Kashkari has done better on the fundraising front, but his pace has dropped off considerably after a fast start.
• PA-Gov: The narrator in Rob McCord's new ad says that McCord is the only Democrat running for governor "who has actually battled Tom Corbett in Harrisburg—and won." What was the fight? "When Corbett tried to hand the state lottery to a foreign firm, McCord said no, protecting Pennsylvania's seniors." The rest of the spot also tries to distinguish McCord, saying he's the only Democrat who supports a minimum wage of $10.70 an hour. Everyone else wants $10.10 apparently, so this is a welcome race to the top, for once.
• AZ-07: Phoenix City Councilman Daniel Valenzuela says he won't seek Rep. Ed Pastor's House seat, but he declined to endorse any other candidates in the Democratic primary for now. The nomination in this dark blue district seems like it's coming down to three main contenders: former state Rep. Ruben Gallego (who recently resigned to run), Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, and state Rep. Steve Gallardo.
• CA-17: Following a lawsuit brought by a local GOP official, a judge just booted Google attorney Vinesh Singh Rathore, who had filed as a Republican, off the ballot in California's 17th District due to a lack of signatures. (In fact, some appeared to be faked.) But why should you care about some obscure candidate no one's ever heard of? Because Democratic Rep. Mike Honda would very much like the one legitimate Republican running, physician Vanila Singh, to beat out fellow Democrat Ro Khanna in the June top-two primary—a fate Khanna badly wants to avoid—since it would be much easier to defeat Singh in the general election in this dark blue district.
But if there were multiple Republicans on the ballot—especially two Indian-Americans with somewhat similar names—that would have made it harder for Singh to squeeze past Khanna, so this development counts as a boon to Honda. Khanna's denied any involvement in helping Some Dudes qualify for the race to help his cause, but at least one supporter who circulated petitions for Khanna also did so for another minor candidate, independent Joel Vanlandingham. However, California law apparently does not prohibit this, so the judge refused to nuke Vanlandingham's candidacy.
• ID-02: GOP Rep. Mike Simpson's new ad starts off with three different clips of his tea party primary opponent, Bryan Smith, declaring "I love my job." What is Smith's job, asks the narrator? "He's a personal injury lawyer, who's enriched himself by filing over 10,000 lawsuits" and "opposed conservatives' efforts to limit frivolous lawsuits and outrageous payouts." That's a pretty scalding line of attack in a Republican nominating contest, and the footage of Smith repeatedly declaring how much he likes what he does makes it much more effective.
• IL-10: It's usually not news when Planned Parenthood backs a Democrat, but their newly announced endorsement of freshman Rep. Brad Schneider is a little bit noteworthy because the group declined to take sides in 2012, when Schneider unseated GOP Rep. Bob Dold!. Dold is seeking a rematch, but he only earned a 50 percent rating from Planned Parenthood in 2012, while Schneider has scored a perfect 100. The idea that a Democrat would have a better record on reproductive choice barely even reaches "no duh" level, though. Why PP didn't appreciate that last cycle is beyond me.
• Charlotte Mayor: Following now-former Mayor Patrick Cannon's arrest and resignation on Wednesday, the Charlotte City Council announced that it will choose an interim mayor on Monday. The interim mayor will serve until the end of Cannon's term in December 2015, so there will be no special election. (Jeff Singer)
• NY State Senate: Businessman Adam Haber, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for Nassau County Executive last year against Tom Suozzi, announced on Thursday that he'll run against sophomore GOP state Sen. Jack Martins in the 7th District. Haber represents another good get for Long Island Democrats, who are challenging a number of different Republicans. Like most of the seats in the area, the Martins' went for Obama, by a 54-45 margin. What's more, Martins squeezed by with a narrow 52-48 win against an unheralded opponent in 2012, and Haber can self-fund.
• Census: The Census Bureau came out with a new slew of metro-area and county-level population data on Thursday; not surprisingly, the nation has hit another new high in terms of the percentage of people living in metropolitan areas rather than rural areas (up to 85.4 percent of the population, in 2013), with 1 in 3 Americans living in one of the nation's 10 largest metros. In 2013, the nation's metro regions gained 2.3 million people, while the rest of the country actually lost a net 27,000. That's good news on the long-term political front for Democrats, with urban living increasingly correlated with voting for the blue team.
Also of note, the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, became the first to ever clear the 10 million mark in 2013. Only two of the nation's 50 most populous counties lost population during 2013: Wayne County, Michigan, and Cuyahoga County, Ohio (Detroit and Cleveland, in other words). And Bloomberg's Greg Giroux has a great observation about this, pointing to what some would say is the fundamentally undemocratic nature of the Senate, and how that's especially on display when the Class II seats are up, as they are this year:
Putting it another way, Los Angeles County's population also is greater than the combined populations of six states holding consequential Senate elections in November.(David Jarman)
The total population of South Dakota and West Virginia, where retiring Democrats probably will be replaced by Republicans, along with Alaska, Arkansas, Montana, and New Hampshire, where Democratic senators face serious Republican challengers, is about 8.7 million.