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Leading Off:

AK-Sen: The excellent ads supporting Democratic Sen. Mark Begich's re-election bid keep coming, though the latest is not from Begich himself but rather Put Alaska First, a super PAC supporting him. (PAF, by the way, is chiefly funded by the Senate Majority PAC.) Simply put, this is how Democrats in red states—or really, Democrats anywhere—should be running on Obamacare:

In the ad, born-and-raised Alaskan Lisa Keller—"a mother, a runner, a breast cancer survivor"—jogs through a snowbound Anchorage, explaining she was "lucky" because she "beat cancer." "But," she continues, "the insurance companies still denied me health insurance, just because of a pre-existing condition." However, she adds, "I now have health insurance again, because of Mark Begich. Because he fought the insurance companies so that we no longer have to."

You can't offer a message simpler and more heartening than that. This is precisely the kind of sympathetic story that Americans for Prosperity wished it could tell, except this one happens to be completely true and gets to the very core of what's best about the Affordable Care Act. You want to run on repealing Obamacare? You're literally running on repealing Lisa Keller's health insurance. The stakes couldn't be clearer.

1Q Fundraising:

IA-Sen: Bruce Braley (D): $1.25 million raised, $3.1 million cash-on-hand

MN-Sen: Al Franken (D-inc): $2.72 million raised, $5.9 million cash-on-hand

MT-Sen: Steve Daines (R): $1.2 million raised, $2.2 million cash-on-hand

FL-Gov (March): Rick Scott (R-inc): $1.56 million raised;
     Charlie Crist (D): $1.53 million raised

SC-Gov: Nikki Haley (R-inc): $863,000 raised, $4.27 million cash-on-hand;
     Vincent Sheheen (D): $563,000 raised, $1.72 million cash-on-hand

AL-06: Paul DeMarco (R): $480,000 raised, $650,000 cash-on-hand

AZ-01: Ann Kirkpatrick (D-inc): "Nearly" $325,000 raised, "more than" $1 million cash-on-hand

FL-02: Gwen Graham (D): $485,000 raised, $1.4 million cash-on-hand

IL-17: Cheri Bustos (D-inc): $403,000 raised, $1.1 million cash-on-hand

WA-10: Denny Heck (D-inc): $257,000 raised, $822,000 raised

Senate Majority PAC (D): $11 million raised, $8.5 million cash-on-hand


GA-Sen: After defending his remarks for a week, wealthy businessman David Perdue finally apologized to former Secretary of State Karen Handel for sneering that she was a mere "high school graduate" who didn't belong in the GOP primary for Senate. Handel formally accepted the apology, but she's most definitely not letting go.

Instead, she's running a good-humored a radio ad dinging Perdue for his comments, and in a statement, she says that "the apology is not owed to me—it is owed to the many other Georgians he demeaned." In an amusingly candid response, Perdue's campaign acknowledged the apology won't do much, saying: "There is certainly no expectation for her to change campaign tactics."

Handel's also up with her first TV ad, which features clips of Sarah Palin praising her in a speech at a recent campaign stop.

HI-Sen: Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz's talks about his support for equal pay for women in his newest ad.

NC-Sen: Baptist pastor Mark Harris, who is seeking the GOP nomination for Senate, is up with his first ad of the race. It's a positive spot in which he recites various conservative nostrums (government too big, taxes too high, Obamacare too actual) and is backed by a reported $300,000 buy.

Also, American Crossroads is touting a poll from Voter/Consumer Research that has state House Speaker Thom Tillis in the lead with 27, while physician Greg Brannon takes 16 and Harris 10. Those numbers sound plausible, but field dates and sample size were not provided.

NH-Sen: A new UNH poll finds Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen leading Scott Brown 45-39, a couple of points closer than the 8-point edge PPP just saw for her. What's odd, though, is that while PPP has Shaheen holding steady (and Brown's favorables trickling steadily downward), UNH's prior survey in January had Brown trailing by 10 points, 47-37, even though neither candidate's popularity ratings have budged since then. UNH often features hard-to-explain gyrations, though.

Meanwhile, Brown is out with his first TV ad of the race. The narrator explains that Brown "has almost 300,000 miles on his truck"—but how many of those were added in Massachusetts? Almost admitting how recent a transplant he is, the narrator continues: "Over the last few weeks, it's taken him all across New Hampshire, listening and learning." Did Brown really have to schlep all around the state to learn that people want "more good jobs"?


AZ-Gov: A mystery 501(c)(4) out of Iowa called the Legacy Foundation Action Fund is trying to give Mesa Mayor Scott Smith a political purple nurple with a flight of TV and radio ads linking him to Barack Obama. Smith, a Republican with something of a moderate/iconoclastic streak, is seeking the GOP nomination for governor. He's also president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, a group whose various alleged positions are slammed in the advertisements, including support for Obamacare, cap-and-trade, and gun safety laws.

Smith, of course, is unhappy about the ads, and he's accusing state Treasurer Doug Ducey, a gubernatorial rival, of being behind them. The evidence is thin, though, not least because the Legacy Foundation does not have to disclose its donors, and Ducey denies the charge. But Fred DuVal, the likely Democratic nominee, has to like this development, as polling has shown Smith would be his toughest opponent—plus a messy GOP primary can only help.

MD-Gov: The Democratic primary for governor in Maryland has just taken a slightly negative turn, at least in terms of paid media. State Attorney General Doug Gansler, who trails Lt. Gov Anthony Brown in all the polls, has decided to jab the frontrunner with radio and TV ads about the state's botched health insurance exchange rollout. The TV spot is very mild while the one for radio is sharper, but neither mention Brown by name. However, he was responsible for overseeing implementation of the Affordable Care Act, so these criticisms are aimed at him. Gansler will probably start making that connection more explicitly in future ads.


MA-06: The bad news for Rep. John Tierney is that the Emerson College Polling Society finds him tied at 44 with Republican challenger Richard Tisei. The good news is that he's at least on track to earn a shot at a rematch: Tierney swamps his two Democratic primary rivals, taking 64 percent while Iraq vet Seth Moulton and attorney Marisa DeFranco each earn 10. That's very similar to a recent DCCC poll that had Tierney beating Moulton 64-17 (DeFranco wasn't tested).

NC-06: A new poll of the GOP primary for North Carolina's open 6th Congressional District, taken by Tel Opinion Research on behalf of a group called Keep Conservatives United, finds Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger, Jr. leading the pack with 29 percent, while his nearest opponents take just 4. However, 54 percent remain undecided.

NY-04: Normally, as you know, we aggregate fundraising numbers in a separate section at the top of the Digest, unless we encounter something truly remarkable. I think this counts: Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, who is hoping to succeed Rep. Carolyn McCarthy in Congress, somehow raised $1.47 million in the first quarter and has $1.3 million in cash-on-hand. Wow. Rice faces Nassau County Legislator Kevan Abrahams in the Democratic primary, but he may want to seriously consider an exit strategy at this point. (A run for state Senate might not be a bad idea.) And if Republicans have ever seriously thought about contesting this seat, they probably want to think again.

NY-21: Former George W. Bush White House aide Elise Stefanik just secured the Conservative Party's ballot line for the November general election, giving her a potential boost if she's the GOP nominee. But her rival for the Republican nod, businessman Matt Doheny, has already locked up the Independence Party's support. This means that no matter what happens in the June primary, Doheny and Stefanik will both appear on the ballot in the fall, as there's no practical way for whoever loses the GOP nomination to have his or her name removed from any minor party lines. Democrats, meanwhile, have united around filmmaker Aaron Woolf to hold this swingy open seat.

TX-04: The Senate Conservatives Fund, which has been endorsing quite a few House candidates lately, has jumped on board the John Ratcliffe bandwagon. Ratcliffe already has the support of the Club for Growth (and the ne'er-do-wells at Now or Never PAC) in his bid to unseat Rep. Ralph Hall in next month's GOP runoff.

WI-06: When ultra-conservative state Sen. Glenn Grothman announced a primary challenge to Rep. Tom Petri a week ago, we opined that an upset was definitely possible. That's no longer the case, though ... because Petri, a 35-year veteran, will retire at the end of this term—perhaps because he was worried about getting out-hustled on his right flank, or perhaps because he just didn't feel like fighting.

But whether or not Grothman helped cause Petri's departure, he almost certainly won't have the field to himself, especially since at least a couple of other Republicans (state Rep. Duey Stroebel and former Scott Walker campaign treasurer John Hiller) were reportedly considering bids even before this latest development. And state Sen. Joe Leibham immediately said he'd think about the race, too.

Unfortunately for Democrats, this opening probably doesn't present a pickup opportunity, as Wisconsin's 6th went for Mitt Romney by a 53-46 margin in 2012. However, the party does actually have a bit of a bench here, and Grothman is just crazy enough—he recently proposed legislation to eliminate weekends—that if he's the GOP nominee, things could get a little bit interesting.

Other Races:

WI State Senate: Whoa. Republican Mike Ellis, the president Wisconsin's state Senate, has dropped his bid for re-election after James O'Keefe (!) published a secretly recorded video of Ellis talking about illegally funding a PAC to attack his Democratic challenger. It's a remarkable fall from grace for the 73-year-old incumbent, and Republicans will now have to scramble to find a replacement.

That's because the Democratic opponent that Ellis was looking to hobble is a strong recruit, state Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber. Barack Obama carried the 19th District—albeit by one hundredth of a percentage point—and Democrats had regarded it as a top pickup prospect even before Ellis decided to call it quits. Now this race will become an even bigger priority for Team Blue.

And yes, it's super strange that O'Keefe decided to target a Republican for once. Also, though I truly hesitate to say this, this may be the first time he's put together a video that wasn't total bollocks, at least judging by Ellis' response. The world is a very weird place.

Grab Bag:

WATN?: John Rowland already spent 10 months in prison serving out a federal corruption conviction, so what's another 50—years, that is? That's how long Rowland, a former Republican governor of Connecticut, could find himself in the clink on new charges that he conspired to hide his involvement in two different congressional campaigns over the past two of election cycles.

One of those candidates, Lisa Wilson-Foley (who unsuccessfully ran in the GOP primary for Connecticut's 5th Congressional District in 2012) already pleaded guilty to the scheme last month, along with her husband Brian. The two admitted to funneling cash to Rowland through Brian Foley's nursing home chain and could face a year in behind bars under their plea agreement.

Rowland is also accused of trying to set up a similar arrangement with 2010 candidate Mark Greenberg, creating a comically named sham entity called "The Animal Center." Greenberg, who sought the same seat Wilson-Foley later did, rebuffed Rowland, and when you get a look at the kinds of entreaties Rowland was sending him, it's not hard to understand why:

In May 2010, according to the indictment, Rowland stepped up pressure on Greenberg to hire him, sending an email: "I'm not as unpopular as your campaign manager would lead you to believe !! especiaily , [sic] in the 5tr district. I can get you elected .... Ifyou are interested[.]"
Amazing that the Foleys were so much dumber.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  How in the freaking hell is that ad truly "running (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    on Obamacare" when it doesn't include a single, solitary specific reference to "Obamacare" or the "ACA?" All it includes is a general statement that Begich "...fought the insurance companies..."

    Given the fact that a large percentage of Americans—especially Republicans and independents—claim to hate "Obamacare" but at the same time love many of the provisions that Obamacare/ACA has put into place, there's a high probability that many of the Alaskans who view this ad have no clue that it's actually about the latter. All these people will get from the ad is a vague assertion that Mark Begich did something that the insurance companies didn't like.

    Don't get me wrong—it's a very good ad as far as it goes, but "running on Obamacare" it ain't.

    •  How many people won't make the connection? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      itskevin, Cadillac64

      Everybody's heard of ACA, hates it, loves it, whatever.

      The "whatevers" are actually a pretty big group -- people who don't like, but don't want it repealed, who think it's probably better to have it than not to have it.

      Not bad to remember just exactly WHY it is better to have it.

      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

      by dinotrac on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 06:42:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am writing diaries about senate races (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541, abgin, Cadillac64, Odysseus
  •  Pre-existing condition exclusions (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    abgin, Cadillac64, Odysseus, Simplify

    are gold-plated proof ins cos want to suck up your money in house-payment-sized monthly chunks while providing absolutley nothing in terms of actual "service".

    My wife is STILL receiving billing requests from doctors we saw and thought we paid for last year, with our shitty BC/BS insurance that cost us $500/month and still required we pay for everything.

    Insurance is a scam.

    With ACA my wife and I are now paying just half for our insurance scam compared to what we used to.

    If I am forced to throw money away, throwing away only HALF what I was throwing away is a huge improvement.

    Definitely an improvement....but we aren't out of the woods just yet.

    Healthcare does NOT have to be remotely this complicated.

    Legal means "good".
    [41984 | Feb 4, 2005]

    by xxdr zombiexx on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 06:31:40 AM PDT

    •  agreed in general (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but if I were in your shoes, I would take the billing notices you're getting, and march into the provider's office and ask what the _ is going on.

      My experience is that there is sometimes a communications gap between the insurance company and the providers -- someone typed in a misspelling of your middle initial or date of birth -- so they've actually gotten the money but managed not to match it to the outstanding bill.

      Or there was such a long delay before the company paid that in the meantime they sold your account to a debt collector, and never bothered to notify them that the bill got paid.

      And Medicare has the same problems, even though it's single-payer. I used to keep a spreadsheet for my MIL, to track her medical visits, the bills, the Medicare payment notices, etc. etc.  

  •  So glad to have Begich as my Senator. (8+ / 0-)

    I hope to hell he wins. I think he has an excellent chance. He understands Alaskans and the Alaskan mindset.

  •  The Democratic candidates (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cadillac64, equern

    need to run on the ACA or Obamacare.  If they run against it they will lose.  

    The Democratic candidates need to run against the Koch brothers.

    I would run ads saying that GOP candidate XXX is addicted to Koch.  Call them Koch heads and show them snorting Koch $$ through $1000.00 dollar bills.

    I would run add against the Supreme Court also.  Show Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalia (RATS) swimming in a pool of money with Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers.

  •  That is the right approach. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deh, Cadillac64, Odysseus

    There's plenty wrong with ACA.

    But there was plenty wrong before ACA.
    What matters is that it does enough that is important right to be be better than what we had before.

    I rail rather freely against the pain it has caused me and my family -- especially the continuing inability to put my daughter on our plan as the law says we should be able to do.

    But, much as that stuff matters, the rubber hits the road when you are talking matters of life and death.

    Get there, and "I can get treated" vs "I can't get treated" trumps pretty much everything.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 06:40:40 AM PDT

    •  Every time I hear something about how screwed up (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aquarius40, Cadillac64, Odysseus

      the ACA rollout was I say "Medicare Part D".

      Legal means "good".
      [41984 | Feb 4, 2005]

      by xxdr zombiexx on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 06:59:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why? One screw-up deserves another? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cadillac64, Odysseus

        The government is full of idiots so we can never expect them to do something well?

        Personally, I'd like to think we can do things better and that we should never accept incompetence.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 07:04:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Have to remember that it was private sector (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Aquarius40, Cadillac64

          tech contractors who couldn't make it work (or perhaps wouldn't).  Sibelius, like most department heads and CEO's, wasn't tech savvy enough to apprehend what was happening because these things are the bailiwick of the nerds.
          Incompetence abounds.  Ask anyone who has been in our much lauded military, surgical theaters, crime scenes or household kitchens.

          Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

          by judyms9 on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 07:41:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, incompetence at the top. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            If I recall, it was a no-bid contract, so really bad looking incompetence at the top.

            "bailiwick of the nerds", eh?

            Sounds like you have no experience with competent management of technical programs.

            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

            by dinotrac on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 07:48:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I keep pointing that out re CoverOregon (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Which is still not online. Yeah, the state didn't structure the contract well. But Orion completely screwed up the program, and the state will apparently have to either start from scratch or go to the federal program. All the blame is going to the governor,  very little to the contractor.  I'd like to see the contractor brought up on fraud charges.

            Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Gabby Giffords.

            by Leftleaner on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 11:33:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  ACA's shortcomings were incidental (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cadillac64, Odysseus

          Medicare Part D was the result of GOP savagery: created to be a clusterfuck on purpose.

          And it is still a clusterfuck.

          Legal means "good".
          [41984 | Feb 4, 2005]

          by xxdr zombiexx on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 07:55:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  In a insurance private system of Health Care (0+ / 0-)

    In a private insurance system of Healt Care one one side has a benefit:

    the insurance companies

    They live for benefit. And the people pay their benefit. In a private insurance system of Health Care the people pay everything that they receive.

    In a public system the weakest people receive benefits:
    - The people with illness with expensive treatments.
    - The people with lower economic resources.

    And every person has so close someone of the first group.

  •  Yes, the wheel IS a good idea (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cadillac64, Odysseus, Simplify, equern

    "You're literally running on repealing Lisa Keller's health insurance. The stakes couldn't be clearer.'

    I don't at all disagree with the idea that Ds should run campaigns like this, campaigns that stake out a public policy position as what the Ds stand for and defend.  Our public policy positions literally are life and death for clear majorities of the electorate.

    What I disagree with is the habit of Ds to fail to do this obvious thing every campaign, everywhere in the country.  

    We failed to nationalize the 2010 and 2012 elections around the idea that health care for all is important, that jobs not deficits are important, and so lost the House and then failed to regain it.  In 2010 it was each man for himself.  In 2012 it was Obama running to defeat Romney, not stake out the kind of national agenda that might have got us back the House

    We fail, with almost unerring consistency, to run candidates in the red districts and states -- like Alaska -- where the appeal to life and death issues is actually strongest and resonates best with the electorate, who do anything but run away from issues they could win on.  Instead we run people who adopt the strategy of going R lite, of trying to hew as close to the R line as possible, maybe even out-R the Rs.  Not that this strategy is obviously and categorically always a failure, but even if it works, it results in Ds who won't or can't vote D in Congress.  And mostly it doesn't work, because if you're inclined to vote R, why not vote for an actual R, as opposed to some D running as a fake R?

    So, yes, it's great that Begich dares to run as a D in a red state.  And yes, that's not just the courageous thing to do, it's almost certainly the smart thing to do.  But why does that insight have to be like reinventing the wheel for the nth time?  Of course it's precisely the reddest districts where the furthest left public policy positions resonate.

    The states must be abolished.

    by gtomkins on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 07:24:39 AM PDT

    •  All Politics is Global (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Couldn't agree more. Tip O'Neal's dictum that "all politics is local" is about as relevant as the ice truck.

      Reverence for Tip O'Neal is the only plausible reasonable explanation I have that Democrats dogmatically REFUSE to run a national campaign.

      We won in 2006 and 2008 because the country was revolted by the mess that Bush and the Rs made.

      We lost in 2010 because we thought it was a good time to change the party's mascot to the ostrich.

      We lost in 2012 because we were scared we'd lose Obama and put all our eggs into that basket.

      There's NO EXCUSE in 2014 for not fighting a pitched NATIONAL battle for the future priorities of this country.

      True, we have a lot of history against us, but if we don't put everything we have into winning everything possible, we're going to be the victim of our own fault.

      What separates us, divides us, and diminishes the human spirit.

      by equern on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 12:49:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Imagine what great health care could be (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    provided if all the money spent opposing it had been invested in facilities, staff expansion, and R and D.  Dems should collectively point at that pile of money to show what real waste looks like.

    Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

    by judyms9 on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 07:45:24 AM PDT

  •  Senate Majority Pac (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    has been airing ads in many states to counter some of the Koch bros type attacks.

    Link to their page with their ads state by state.

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