• NC-Sen: Look out! The Senate Majority PAC is spending almost one meelyon dollars to air a new ad lacerating Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis over the fact that two of his aides resigned from his office because they were having affairs with lobbyists. One was his chief of staff, Charles Thomas; even though the two were roommates and Thomas reportedly brought his mistress back to their apartment, Tillis claimed he was unaware of the liaison. Tillis also paid the two over $19,000 in severance, something the ad mentions refers to as "taxpayer-paid bonuses."
This spot represents a very different direction for SMP compared to their earlier ads attacking Tillis, which mostly portrayed him as an insurance company shill doing the bidding of the Kochs. Those seemed targeted at more of a general election audience, but this newest ad, focusing on morality, could easily do double duty by undermining Tillis in the GOP primary, which is now just a few weeks away.
The goal here would be to force Tillis into a July runoff, which is very possible given his soft polling to date and the eight-candidate split field. That in turn would either force Tillis to spend more money earning the GOP nomination, or perhaps even allow one of the crazier alternatives, like Greg Brannon or Mark Harris, to win the party's nod. Either outcome would benefit Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan's re-election chances.
Alan Webber (D): $811,000 raised (incl. a $300,000 loan), $440,000 cash-on-hand
Lawrence Rael (D): $322,000 raised (incl. a $177,000 loan), $229,000 cash-on-hand
Gary King (D): $233,000 raised (incl. a $100,000 loan), $89,000 cash-on-hand
Howie Morales (D): $196,000 raised (incl. a $25,000 loan), $48,000 cash-on-hand
Linda Lopez (D): $28,000 raised, $20,000 cash-on-hand
• AR-Sen: A new Democratic super PAC ad attacks GOP Rep. Tom Cotton for supporting "a plan that would undermine Medicare's guarantee" (i.e., the Ryan budget) and for erasing his "insurance industry experience" from his website bio. (The spot is hosted on Senate Majority PAC's YouTube page but the disclaimer at the end says it was paid for by Patriot Majority USA; the two groups have worked together in the past.)
Meanwhile, Cotton has a related ad of his own that is completely devoted to denouncing a previous Senate Majority PAC ad painting him as a tool of insurance companies. The ad relies on this Washington Post critique that called the earlier SMP spot (which specifically referenced that supposed "insurance industry experience") "phony as a three-dollar bill."
• IA-Sen: I'm not familiar with Loras College (is it the School of Flowers?), but they have a new poll of Iowa's GOP Senate primary. Businessman Mark Jacobs and state Sen. Joni Ernst are neck-and-neck at 19 and 18 percent respectively, while everyone else is in single digits. However, 47 percent are undecided, so the race remains mostly shapeless, as other polling has shown. And if no candidate manages 35 percent, the nomination will get thrown to a party convention.
• LA-Sen: A new minute-long ad from Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu focuses entirely on how she's fought the Obama administration on energy policy, particularly with regard to the offshore drilling moratorium that was put in place after BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010. Segments of the spot feature re-enactments of a Senate hearing, because Senate video footage cannot be used in campaign ads. Some have called it "fake-looking" (and conservatives have howled, of course), but it doesn't look particularly out-of-place to me, and I doubt most viewers will notice.
• NE-Sen: In his newest ad, former state Treasurer Shane Osborn berates his chief Republican rival, Midland University President Ben Sasse, for spending "more time working in Washington than working in Nebraska—nearly a decade as a government bureaucrat."
• FL-Gov: SurveyUSA's first poll of the Florida governor's race, taken on behalf of WFLA-TV, finds Democrat Charlie Crist beating Republican Gov. Rick Scott 46-41. That margin is very similar to the HuffPo Pollster average, which had Crist up by 4 prior to this poll.
• IA-Gov: Republican Gov. Terry Branstad has, of late, had to deal with a variety of what the AP calls "mini-scandals" related to various government employee issues, none of which on their own look very dramatic but, taken together, seem to be causing him some problems:
In the last few weeks, Branstad has come forward grim-faced to face questions about why his administration pushed dozens of state officials out of their jobs and paid some to keep quiet about it; whether it kept a blacklist of banned former employees, contrary to a judge's opinion about the legality, and whether an appointee was mishandling unemployment cases.Click through for a full run-down.
The latest eruption came Tuesday, when he abruptly fired an administrator he had been defending for weeks.
• MA-Gov: Massachusetts gubernatorial polls have been nothing if not consistent all cycle long. UMass Amherst's latest, conducted online by YouGov, finds state Attorney General Martha Coakley with a big lead in the Democratic primary (39-9 over state Treasurer Steve Grossman), and a healthy edge on putative GOP nominee Charlie Baker (45-34).
• MI-Gov, -Sen: Here's a poll to watch out for. On behalf of the conservative Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Mitchell Research asked about Michigan's gubernatorial and Senate races only after posing several highly charged issue questions to respondents—and then redacted two of those questions from their PDF! The one question they didn't delete was about a "$350 million partial bailout of Detroit," which is just an absurd topic to bring up before the horserace portion ... and heaven only knows what the other questions concerned.
So it's not surprising to see Republicans post some of their best numbers ever: Gov. Rick Snyder leads Democratic ex-Rep. Mark Schauer 49-37 and former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land leads Democratic Rep. Gary Peters 44-38. But do I even have to say that you should be really, really skeptical of this entire poll?
• OH-Gov: Republican Gov. John Kasich's first ad is a minute-long biographical spot, referencing his modest upbringing (father a letter carrier, grandfather a coal miner) and the values he learned from it. Amusingly, Kasich, who once was a congressman, also takes credit for leading "a team that balanced the federal budget and ignited an era of job growth." A slightly more important member of that "team" was Bill Clinton, so I guess it's okay for conservatives to like him now. The size of the buy is reportedly $350,000 statewide.
• PA-Gov: Addressing an audience in her newest ad, Democratic Rep. Allyson Schwartz attacks the "old boys club in Harrisburg," the state capital, saying those in power only "look out for each other." But, insists Schwartz, "I know how to break through that boys club and get things done for Pennsylvania families." Democrat Katie McGinty also has two very short new ads out.
• TX-Gov, -Sen: Unsurprisingly, PPP's newest Texas poll shows exactly what its prior polling has shown, which is that Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis trails Republican state Attorney General Greg Abbott by double digits. Abbott's lead stands at 51-37, virtually unchanged from his 50-35 edge in November. What has changed, though, is Davis' favorability rating, which continues to slip. She's now at 33-47, compared to 36-42 last time and a positive 39-29 in July. Abbott, meanwhile, has improved from 35-32 to 40-27. No one's started advertising yet, so all of these shifts are happening "organically," as it were.
An interesting point of comparison, as Tom Jensen observes, is the Senate race, where unheralded Democrat David Alameel doesn't fare a whole lot worse than Davis, going by the margins. GOP Sen. John Cornyn beats Alameel 49-32, though that's at least partly due to Cornyn's unpopularity (his job approval score is just 31-40).
• WI-Gov: Here's yet another 60-second spot, this time from Republican Gov. Scott Walker. A narrator talks about how Wisconsin faced dark days four years ago, accompanied by grim-looking black-and-white footage. The spot then shifts to what looks like brightly lit stock video clips, as the narrator explains the state has "turned around" since then—"kids are going to college, families are planning vacations," etc. Also, he adds, "More are going to sleep knowing they have access to health care." Gee, I wonder what act providing affordable care might have allowed that to happen.
• FL-13: Democrat Alex Sink, who had been considering a rematch with Republican Rep. David Jolly after her narrow loss in last month's special election, says she won't try again this fall. That leaves Democrats just a couple of weeks to find an alternative ahead of the May 2 filing deadline, though few names have been circulating. One possibility is Rev. Manuel Sykes, the president of the St. Petersburg NAACP, who says he's considering a bid.
• IA-03: In his first ad, Republican Secretary of State Matt Schultz talks about how he cut his office's budget, fought for voter ID against "Democrats and the media," and will "stop Obama and Pelosi from bankrupting America."
• ID-02: Hey, lookit! It's Mitt Romney! Starring in an ad for Rep. Mike Simpson, on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce! Does anyone else think the office (or "office") it's filmed in looks a bit ... gubernatorial, maybe? I mean, how many people keep large American flags mounted on polls beside their desks? It's definitely the kind of space that guys who think they're in charge of some kind of government have to themselves.
• LA-05: "Kissing Congressman" Vance McAllister, who so far has insisted he'll seek re-election despite calls from his own party to resign, has just earned his first challenger. Attorney Ed Tarpley, a fellow Republican who served as Grant Parish district attorney back in the 1990s, has announced a bid for McAllister's seat, saying "we must elect men and women of strong moral character with a commitment to ethical behavior." Tarpley once ran for state attorney general in 1995 but took only 10 percent of the vote.
• MN-06: What were we saying the other day about former state Rep. Tom Emmer being the most likely Republican to follow in Michelle Bachmann's footsteps? Evidently Bachmann agrees, since she just endorsed him to succeed her. Emmer faces Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah and ex-state Rep. Phil Krinkie in the August primary.