• CO-, IA-Sen: Freedom Partners, the shadowy conservative puppet-master Politico unmasked last year as "the Koch brothers' secret bank," is typically accustomed to quietly doling out money to other right-wing organizations. (In 2012, they laid out an extraordinary $236,000,000.) Now, though, they're emerging from the darkness to start running ads themselves, attacking Democrats in two Senate races.
In Iowa, they're going after Rep. Bruce Braley with a dizzying charge that he supported Obamacare because he's a shill for the insurance industry—and "health insurance companies stand to make billions" off the law.
That's some chutzpah! This argument comes straight from the populist left. Would Freedom Partners prefer single payer? The spot targeting Colorado Sen. Mark Udall is very similar, and the combined buy is reportedly $1.1 million.
Tom Wolf (D): $611,000 raised, $7 million cash-on-hand
Allyson Schwartz (D): $1.5 million raised, $5.1 million cash-on-hand
Rob McCord (D): $568,000 raised, $3.6 million cash-on-hand
Katie McGinty (D): $1.1 million raised, $3.5 million cash-on-hand
• House Majority PAC (D): $5.2 million raised
• AR-Sen: The new Talk Business-Hendrix College poll also has some numbers on Arkansas' Senate race, and they're the best that Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor's seen in a while. Pryor has a 45.5 to 42.5 edge on GOP Rep. Tom Cotton, and while I don't typically like to report numbers to the tenths place, it seems like Hendrix is only incrementing by half a point, given that all of their other percentages are in whole numbers (including the 2 percent apiece for the Libertarian and Green, and the 8 percent undecided). That seems reasonable, since you could wind up calling this a 2- or 4-point race if you round.
No matter what, though, it's close—but it's also a slight improvement from October, when Pryor was ahead just 42-41. And what's more, it's the first independent poll we've seen in a very long time. Almost all the data we've gotten on this race to date has come from partisan internal polls, mostly from Republicans. None of this is to say that Pryor doesn't face an incredibly difficult re-election campaign—of course he does. But this is just something to be aware of.
• MI-Sen, -Gov: Finally, a Michigan poll from a decent pollster. PPP's new survey finds Democratic Rep. Gary Peters retaking the lead from Republican former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land: He's now up 41-36, after trailing 42-40 in December. Remarkably, despite all that heavy ad spending by Americans for Prosperity, Peters' favorables have barely budged, from 21-22 late last year to 26-27 now. Ironically, it's Land, whose faced far fewer negative ads, whose seen her favorability plummet, from 34-23 to 28-31. Good job, Koch boys!
The governor's race, meanwhile, is all but unchanged. GOP Gov. Rick Snyder leads Democratic ex-Rep. Mark Schauer 43-39, compared to 44-40 in December. Snyder's job approval score remains underwater at 40-48, little different from last time, and Schauer, like Peters, is barely known, with favorables of 22-23. As we always say, no incumbent ever wants to find himself in the low 40s, and all that money Snyder's spent on weird ads trying to boost his image evidently hasn't had much of an impact.
Finally, PPP's generic legislative ballot question shows Democrats with a healthy 46-36 lead on Republicans. Since the median seat in both the state House and Senate is about 10 points to the right of the state as a whole (thanks to GOP gerrymandering), an edge like this could be enough for Democrats to take back either chamber.
But getting back to Land for a second—whoa. Get a load of this:
"Well we all like to be paid more and that's great but the reality is that women have a different lifestyle," Land said in the speech. "They have kids, they have to take them to get dentist appointments, doctors appointments all those kinds of things and they're more interested in flexibility in a job than pay."I'm not even going to count the ways this is absurd, wrong, and offensive. There's video of Land's remarks (originally delivered in 2010), so we'll see if this footage makes it into any campaign ads.
• GA-Sen: In the previous Digest, we took note of an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report that said Ending Spending, the conservative PAC founded by billionaire Pete Ricketts, had actually spent nine times as much on Georgia's Senate race as previously thought. It turns out that the group isn't just attacking Democrat Michelle Nunn—they're also going after GOP Rep. Phil Gingrey on TV, too. The Gingrey spot hits him for requesting earmarks and also lambastes him for an infamous remark last year when he whined, "I'm stuck here making $172,000 a year." (It wasn't caught on tape, though.)
It's not clear how Ending Spending is dividing up its $1.3 million buy between Nunn and Gingrey. It's also not clear why Gingrey is the target of their ire. Whom are they hoping to help in the GOP primary? Could they be crazy enough to prefer Paul Broun? Hopefully we'll find out soon.
• MS-Sen: With the GOP primary two months away, a new poll from Republican outfit Harper Polling finds state Sen. Chris McDaniel narrowing the gap a bit with Sen. Thad Cochran. Cochran still has a 52-35 lead, but that's down from a 54-31 advantage in December. Several other pollsters have found a much closer race.
• NC-Sen: As per usual, there's not much change in PPP's latest North Carolina poll for Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, who trails most of her GOP opponents by anywhere from 1 to 4 points. She does have a small 43-41 edge on state House Speaker Thom Tillis, who's recaptured a very narrow lead in the GOP primary. Tillis now takes 18 percent while physician Greg Brannon is at 15 and pastor Mark Harris 11; a month ago, Tillis and Brannon were tied at 14.
It's sort of a remarkable place for Tillis to be, given that he has twice the name recognition of any of his rivals. The primary is now just four weeks away, though, so expect ad spending to seriously ramp up. But even if Tillis goes all out, there's still a very good chance he'll fail to clear 40 percent and thus have to deal with a July 15 runoff.
• NH-Sen: So the RGA is claiming they've got a poll showing Scott Brown leading Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen 49-44, which would contradict every other poll ever. Amusingly, they aren't even sharing the pollster's name (someone's embarrassed?), and what's more, note that this is coming from the Republican Governors Association, not the NRSC. Yet somehow, the RGA isn't bothering to release an numbers on New Hampshire's gubernatorial race. Funny, that.
• MD-Gov: Big Dog Alert! Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown says that Bill Clinton is coming to Maryland next month to do an event in support of Brown's campaign for governor. Brown faces Attorney General Doug Gansler and state Del. Heather Mizeur in the Democratic primary.
• PA-Gov: PoliticsPA got its hands on an internal paid for by businessman Tom Wolf, but, writes Brittany Foster, the poll "was not released by the campaign, nor did they intend to make it public." It's hard to see why they'd want to keep it a secret, though. The survey, from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, finds Wolf with a huge 52-14 advantage over state Treasurer Rob McCord, with Rep. Allyson Schwartz at 12 and former state environmental chief Katie McGinty at 5. As Foster alludes, it's the first time since Wolf surged into the lead earlier this year that McCord's outpaced Schwartz, but there are no prizes for second place here.
In the hopes of catching up, McCord's released another new ad, this one focused on his plan to "put a 10 percent tax on drilling in Pennsylvania" and devote the money to education and environmental protection.
• FL-19: Another mystery super PAC is showing up in Florida's 19th to help ex-state Rep. Paige Kreegel in the GOP primary, but they're keeping a low profile and don't seem to have put their ad online. (The group is called "A Bright Future"—good luck Googling.) It's the third such organization in the race. Another PAC called Values Are Vital has already spent heavily on Kreegel's behalf, while the Liberty and Leadership Fund has been boosting state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, mostly by slamming businessman Curt Clawson. (Here's an incendiary example.) The special primary is on April 22.
• ID-02: Attorney Bryan Smith is up with his first ad, featuring a video clip of his GOP primary opponent, Rep. Mike Simpson, saying he's "always been a supporter of earmarks." The deep-voiced narrator then chimes in: "Yeah, Mike, we know. You've supported billions in wasteful spending," as one of those lists of supposedly awful pork barrel projects scrolls by. Most are of the goofy, McCain-esque variety (GRAPE GENETICS RESEARCH ZOMG), but does Smith really want to say that $39 million for the National Drug Intelligence Center counts as "wasteful"? The size of the buy is just $25,000.
• LA-05: So to recap the last day or so in Vance McAllister's life:
• The married Republican congressman was caught on video making out with an aide in his officeEven if McAllister is serious about seeking another term, though, there are plenty of other Republicans who might challenge him. Indeed, the man McAllister upset in last year's special election runoff, state Sen. Neil Riser, would only say that now's not the time to talk about a potential bid—which just means there will be plenty more to discuss later.
• MI-08: Bad news for Democrats: The party's top option for Michigan's open 8th Congressional District, Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum, has decided not to run, despite an aggressive courtship by the DCCC and EMILY's List. One alternative is Ingham County Treasurer Eric Schertzing, who had previously said he'd consider the race if Byrum took a pass.
• NC-07: In his latest ad, New Hanover County Commissioner Woody White attacks the "out of control" federal government for "trampling our constitutional right" and promises to repeal Obamacare and oppose amnesty.
• NJ-03: Steve Lonegan is never going to take the subtle approach, that's for sure. In a new TV ad, Lonegan sandblasts his GOP primary rival, fellow carpetbagger Tom MacArthur, as a "liberal" who "raised property taxes every year" when he served as mayor of Randolph. Pretty standard fare, but then the code words come on strong: MacArthur "even raised taxes to build low-income housing"—and we all know what that means! It gets worse: "Like Barack Obama, he did it to promote 'diversity' and 'social engineering.' "
Both of those phrases are slurs, of course, in conservative politics, yet they appear in quotation marks on screen. So when did MacArthur say any of this? Lonegan actually provides a citation to a speech MacArthur gave as mayor last year. MacArthur did indeed speak about strengthening his community's diversity through affordable housing, particularly for seniors. However, the only appearance of the word "engineering" involves actual engineering-engineering—you know, levels, blueprints, that sort of thing. "Social" doesn't show up at all. But it's no surprise Lonegan's confused.
• NY-13: Rep. Charlie Rangel has mostly gotten the cold shoulder from the Democratic establishment, but he did manage to earn Sen. Chuck Schumer's endorsement for re-election. But is Schumer actually going to expend any effort raising money for Rangel (especially with his Senate majority on the line), or is his support going to be confined to this press release? The latter seems more likely.
• PA-13: Physician Valerie Arkoosh is getting some big-time outside help in the Democratic primary: The American Society of Anesthesiologists is spending $187,000 on radio ads to boost her in the Democratic primary. And what kind of doctor is Arkoosh? An obstetric anesthesiologist, of course. The spots don't appear to be available online, though.
• WV-03: House Majority PAC slams Republican Evan Jenkins in yet another new ad, this time tying him to the infamous Elk River chemical spill earlier this year. The narrator attacks Jenkins of trying "to delay a water safety bill to prevent another spill at Freedom Industries—a corporate partner of the Koch brothers" (whose faces appear on screen). The ad goes on to accuse the Kochs of trying to buy Jenkins with their "dirty money."
• Charlotte Mayor: On Monday, the Charlotte City Council selected state Sen. Dan Clodfelter to replace disgraced former Mayor Patrick Cannon. Clodfelter, who like Cannon is a Democrat, will serve as mayor until the term expires in December of next year. As to whether he runs in 2015 for a full two-year term, Clodfelter said, "I don't have long-term plans to do this," so not exactly a no. As for the Senate seat Clodfelter leaves behind, SD-37 is safely Democratic at 66-33 Obama. (Jeff Singer)
• NY State Senate: Jon Lentz at City & State has put together an initial set of race ratings for the rather complicated New York state Senate, using a twist on the familiar tossup/lean/likely rubric. As you know, Republicans hold a minority of seats but currently control the chamber thanks to a band of renegade Democrats known as the IDC. Because of this, Lentz describes each competitive seat as either favoring the mainstream Democrats or the GOP/IDC, which means that some of the districts he talks about are safely blue but may see fights between the Dems and the IDC in the primary. Click through to see his assessments.
• MoveOn: The progressive activist group MoveOn just released seven new polls, all conducted by PPP, of competitive Senate and gubernatorial races. The main thrust of the surveys is a trio of questions about Medicaid expansion (it's popular across the board), but all of them lead off with horserace questions. Here's how they break down, with trendlines where available in parentheses:
The primary will be on June 10, but there's not much to see. Republican incumbents are running without opposition for each statewide office, and there are no primaries on the Democratic side. In the race for the state's lone House seat, freshman Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer will face Democratic state Sen. George Sinner, the son of a former governor with the same name. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as Safe Republican, but we'll be keeping an eye on this race to see if Sinner gains any traction. (Jeff Singer)