• SC-Gov: The RGA "goes there" with my absolute least-favorite attack ad topic of all time: criticizing criminal defense attorneys for their work representing clients. In a new spot, the RGA lambastes Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen as "trial lawyer" who "made money off criminals" and "got a sex offender out of jail time."
I'm never one for Marquess of Queensberry rules, but these kinds of ads are a direct assault on the very notion of an adversarial system of justice, one of the foundations of our democracy. Making criminal defense seem like a scuzzy, dishonorable, fiendish line of work will just lead to fewer (and worse) criminal defense attorneys, which is the last thing we need.
The RGA obviously doesn't give a damn about that, though, and this kind of attack, sadly, may very well have been poll-tested as effective. Then again, this is the same gang that brought us the idiotic Schauer/shower ads in Michigan, so perhaps not. We can only hope.
"I think that is part of this sense of entitlement that he gives off. It's almost like, 'I served my country, let me into the Senate.' That's not how it works in Arkansas," said Pryor.The comments blew up in the conservative online world but hadn't really shown up on the campaign trail until now. In his spot, Cotton references Pryor's jab and introduces his former Army drill sergeant, who gently hectors Cotton in a manner that I'm sure was just like what he experienced during basic training. Cotton says that his sergeant taught him "how to be a soldier—accountability, humility, and putting the unit before yourself." It's a pretty light-hearted ad that does a decent job humanizing Cotton, though it almost feels like he's defending himself against Pryor's charge rather than attacking Pryor for making it in the first place.
• GA-Sen: The latest target of conservative ire in the GOP Senate primary is Rep. Jack Kingston, who finds himself on the received end of an ad from a mystery group called Citizens for a Working America, which originally mades its bones helping to unseat South Carolina Democrat John Spratt in 2010. CWA's spots attacks Kingston for voting in favor of earmarks, cash for clunkers, and raising the debt ceiling—which, as Daniel Malloy points out, is pretty similar to the recent hit on Rep. Phil Gingrey by Ending Spending.
• KY-Sen: With Kentucky's primary now just a month away, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is striking a more positive tone in his latest ad. The narrator insists that McConnell is "not a showhorse" but a "genuine Kentucky workhorse" who "stopped bureaucrats from shutting down fishing below Barkley Dam" and is "leading the fight against Obamacare." (Trivia: The dam is named after former Vice President Alben Barkley!)
• MI-Sen: Here's that new SEIU ad attacking Republican Terri Lynn Land that we were expecting. The spot features photos of the Koch brothers but doesn't mention their names, just referring to them as "billionaire special interests" who are "gang[ing] up" with Land. As a results of their efforts, "insurance companies could go back to charge women more" and "it would be harder for women to get equal pay." The union is reportedly spending $320,000.
• SD-Sen: So clever: In a new ad, GOP state Sen. Larry Rhoden stands at the back of a cattle truck and, pointing to the contents within, declares: "This is a load of bull—and so is Obamacare, and about everything else that's coming out of Washington."
• FL-Gov: Republican Gov. Rick Scott tries out some Spanish in his newest ad, though his Anglo accent sounds all the more painful when coupled with the narrator, a native speaker who quickly (mercifully) takes over. (Markos just said to me: "I can barely understand what he's 'saying.' I had to watch it six times to figure it out.") The spot is pretty similar to this earlier ad narrated by Scott himself—in English, thankfully.
• MD-Gov: Despite a spate of new ads from the two money leaders, St. Mary's College finds 54 percent of Democratic primary voters are undecided when it comes to selecting a gubernatorial nominee. Of those who do have an opinion, 27 percent prefer Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown while 11 percent support Attorney General Doug Gansler and 8 percent back Del. Heather Mizeur. The GOP side of things is even more formless, with 69 percent undecided.
P.S. What on earth is wrong with Gansler? It's like his foot is permanently fused inside his mouth:
"You know I'm running against somebody who has never managed anybody, never run anything. You know his ads are about how he was a lawyer in Iraq, and that's all fine and good, but this is a real job."That's a reference to Brown, a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. Only in Doug Gansler's world is military service not "a real job."
• NE-Gov: After a long lull, primary season is finally about to get back underway next month, and Nebraska will host two of the most hotly contested statewide affairs—one for Senate and one for governor. And as you'd expect, the ads are flying fast now, with two gubernatorial spots popping up on the Republican side.
One of them is from Attorney General Jon Bruning, who slams his top rival, wealthy businessman Pete Ricketts, as a "Wall Street executive who fired 900 people, then took a million-dollar bonus." The second half praises Bruning for voting to cut taxes. The other ad is from one of the many third wheels in the race, state Sen. Beau McCoy, who rails against Obamacare while flinging a Barack Obama bobblehead doll off the top of a fencepost.
• CA-33: The League of Conservation Voters has issued a dual endorsement of state Sen. Ted Lieu and former Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel in the race to replace retiring Rep. Henry Waxman. Since all of the leading candidates here are Democrats, though, it's unlikely the LCV will spend much if anything on the contest, as they've generally concentrated their firepower on Republicans in recent years.
But speaking of the GOP, attorney Elan Carr, the only Republican in the race to file a fundraising report, is going on the air with a TV ad touting his experience prosecuting violent criminals and saying "we need to keep kids out of gangs in the first place." Carr's only spending $49,000 to air the spot, all on cable, so it's just a drop in L.A.'s very big bucket. But given the jam-packed Democratic field and the huge sums of money likely to cancel one another out, there's a non-zero chance that Carr could slip into the November general election, though he'd just get crushed in the end.
• FL-19: It turns out there's one more poll ahead of Tuesday's special GOP primary in Florida's 19th District. It's from PPP, on behalf of the News-Press and WINK-TV, and like St. Pete Polls, it finds businessman Curt Clawson out in front. Clawson, who has spent at least $2 million of his own money promoting himself, is at 38, while state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto is at 19, consultant Michael Dreikorn at 18, and ex-state Rep. Paige Kreegel at 17, with just 7 undecided.
St. Pete, however, saw a much tighter races, with Clawson leading Benacquisto just 30-26. The News-Press notes that PPP also polled the regular GOP primary in 2012 and correctly pegged ex-Rep. Trey Radel as the winner. However, they over-estimated Kreegel's support (and under-estimated Chauncey Goss'), and of course, this was an ordinary election rather than a special. We'll find out soon enough.
• GA-11: A new poll of the open GOP primary to replace Rep. Phil Gingrey from Rosetta Stone and Landmark finds state Sen. Barry Loudermilk edging ex-Rep. Bob Barr 25-23, with businesswoman Tricia Pridemore at 11 and state Rep. Ed Lindsey at 8. The only other survey of the race was a March internal from Loudermilk that had him tied at 12 with Barr and the rest of the field in low single digits. The primary is May 20 and a runoff will take place on July 22 if no candidate clears 50 percent in the first round.
• NC-02: Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers, who may receive a stronger-than-expected challenge from singer and activist Clay Aiken, is already running her first ad of the campaign. In it, she says she's "already co-sponsored a bill to repeal and replace" Obamacare and claims she passed a "small business bill that's creating thousands of North Carolina jobs." (No citation for this is provided.) Ellmers nominally faces a primary challenge from radio host Frank Roche, but he's raised bupkes, and the spot's overall message is surprisingly soft in tone given how red this district is, so it seems like it's aimed more toward the general election.
• NY-01: For some reason, Republican state Sen. Lee Zeldin wasn't content to use an unseen narrator in his latest ad, instead featuring a woman who holds a fake TV screen that she jiggles as she talks, which has a very distracting effect. (Also, I swear that she is being dubbed over by another voice-over artist, though maybe it's just a syncing issue.) Anyway, she claims that Zeldin "led the fight against Obamacare" and that his opponent, attorney George Demos, "is funded by Nancy Pelosi's team." That's a bizarre charge also made by a recent super PAC ad attacking Demos.
• OH-14: Ohio's primary is in just a couple of weeks, so the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is running a boring ad on behalf of GOP Rep. Dave Joyce, about how he loves jobs and hates regulations or something like that. The buy is for $300,000. Joyce faces a primary challenge from state Rep. Matt Lynch, but Joyce has a ton of money and Lynch has raised very little.
• AK Ballot, AK-Sen: Because of delays by Alaska's state legislature, three ballot initiatives that were scheduled to go before voters at the August primary will instead likely get moved to the November general election, including one measure to increase the minimum wage and another to legalize recreational marijuana. That could conceivably boost Democratic Sen. Mark Begich's re-election effort, since the proposals might draw out more liberal-leaning voters. However, it would probably hurt a separate referendum to repeal a new tax cut for oil companies, which would remain on the August ballot.
• NH State Senate: Republican state Sen. Bob Odell, who is 70 years old and has served in the New Hampshire legislature for over a decade, has decided to retire. This is good news for Democrats, who only need to win two seats to recapture the Senate, because Odell's seat went for Obama 51-47 and in fact is the second-bluest district held by a Republican.
• California: With 53 House seats all up for re-election, there's a lot of action in the Golden State this year. In a detailed post that incorporates recent fundraising numbers, we take a close look at which California House races will be worth watching in 2014. (Jeff Singer)
• Maps: The folks behind the excellent electoral college mapping site 270towin have launched a cool new spinoff called Elections This Year, which offers one-stop shopping for race rating updates from a variety of prognosticators, polls, and headlines for Senate, House, and gubernatorial elections.
• Primaries: While every cycle plenty of incumbents face primary challenges, most end up winning without trouble. Even those who need to work to secure renomination usually succeed. However, there are always a few unfortunate incumbents who get tossed by their own party each election year.
In a new piece, we take a look at the 31 House members, seven senators, and six governors who were unseated by a challenger in a primary since 1994. Perhaps the number one lesson for elected officials worried about enraging their party is to avoid appearing ideologically out-of-sync. Sometimes just one apostasy on a key wedge issue (the Iraq War, taxes, free trade) is all that it takes to convince primary voters to part ways with an incumbent. (Jeff Singer)