• NC-Sen: A new SurveyUSA poll for the conservative Civitas Institute finds state House Speaker Thom Tillis with his best poll numbers in the GOP primary to date, thanks to a wave of heavy advertising on his behalf. Tillis is at 39 percent, just shy of the 40 percent (plus one) mark he needs to avoid a runoff, with physician Greg Brannon in second at 20 and Baptist pastor Mark Harris at 15. A month ago, Tillis had just a 23-15 edge on Brannon and had actually been trending downward.
With no deep-pocketed interests out there helping Brannon or Harris, it seems like Tillis is peaking at the right time: The primary is on May 6. Of course, this is just one poll, but the prospect of a runoff, which at one point had loomed large, seems to be fading.
• AR-Sen: Yet another shadowy Republican outside group—this one called the Government Integrity Fund Action Network—is pouring money into the Arkansas Senate race, and they're putting $1.5 million into a six-week buy. That's more than half of what they spent the entire 2012 cycle, where their primary target was the Senate race in their home state of Ohio.
The vague name might lead you to think they're one more arm of the Kochtopus, but they actually seem to be a personal project for Columbus-area lawyer and ex-Bushie William Todd. The ad itself is a pretty bland intro piece, mostly focused on GOP Rep. Tom Cotton's military credentials. (David Jarman)
• CO-Sen: As expected, Quinnipiac has now released their Colorado Senate numbers, and as expected, they're close. Democratic Sen. Mark Udall has just a 45-44 lead on GOP Rep. Cory Gardner, which is just about exactly where every other pollster places the race.
• FL-Gov: I guess Nelson's gonna Nels. According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Sen. Bill Nelson—even at this remarkably late date—said he was still "tempted" to run for governor, despite the fact that ex-Gov. Charlie Crist has been out there busting his ass for the Democrats for half a year. I've already made my extreme displeasure at Nelson's game-playing well-known, but at this point, the whole thing is just comical. Nelson hasn't been raising money, but even if he entered the race tomorrow, he'd have just a few months play catch-up with Crist, leading to the eventual winner emerging from the primary bruised and with drained coffers—a GOP dream scenario.
As I've said before, if Nelson were serious about running, then he should just run. All this chatter only serves to undermine Crist. And if Nelson doesn't get in, then it'll be clear that all this shtick was about his personal ego. Unfortunately, the gubernatorial filing deadline isn't until June 20, so we probably have at least two months more of this garbage. And after that, we'll probably be treated to endless "Why hasn't Bill Nelson endorsed Charlie Crist yet?" stories. Not looking forward to those either.
Meanwhile, there's a new poll from Rasmussen: Charlie Crist (D): 45, Rick Scott (R-inc) 39.
• KY-Gov: With so many prominent Kentucky Democrats eyeing the 2015 governor's race, when incumbent Steve Beshear will be term-limited out, this is some very big news that will send ripples through the field: Former state Auditor Crit Luallen says she won't run. The person who is probably most pleased with this decision is Attorney General Jack Conway. He's often described as a Luallen "ally," so it presumably would have been awkward for the two to run against one another, though Conway hasn't made up his mind yet. Other possible Democratic candidates include current Auditor Adam Edelen (Luallen's successor), former Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo, and state House Speaker Greg Stumbo.
• MD-Gov: Attorney General Doug Gansler narrates a new ad where he highlights his work fighting health insurance companies. Gansler also hits on Maryland's problems with the roll out of the Affordable Care Act. While he doesn't mention any of his opponents, this looks like a not-so-subtle dig at Democratic primary rival Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who played a prominent role in implementing the law. (Jeff Singer)
• AZ-02: An internal poll from OnMessage for Republican Martha McSally finds her leading Democratic Rep. Ron Barber 45-42 in their anticipated rematch this fall. That's very similar to the firm's survey from last June (conducted for the NRCC), which had Barber up 46-45—and note that OnMessage accurately forecast an incredibly tight race in 2012.
If there's a silver lining here for Barber, it's that he hasn't slipped too much despite lots of Koch money spent attacking him. But McSally's also been hammered by the House Majority PAC, so it may all be a wash. And there's still no doubt that this will be one of the hardest seats for Democrats to hold this year anywhere in the country. Daily Kos Elections currently rates this race a Tossup.
• GA-10: Trucking company owner Mike Collins (who is also the son of former Rep. Mac Collins) is on the air as he competes in the crowded Republican primary. The ad's narrator praises him for said trucking business as heroic music plays and ties it into the usual Republican themes with the line, "Mike believes Washington needs an overhaul." This race hasn't really taken shape yet: As Roll Call's Emily Cahn notes, none of the candidates, including Collins, have raised much money. (Jeff Singer)
• MN-06: If ex-state Rep. Tom Emmer's new internal poll from Public Opinion Strategies is at all correct, his two GOP primary opponents may want to reconsider. Accord to POS, Emmer, who was the Republican nominee for governor in 2010, takes a monster 73 percent of the vote, while Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah is at just 5 and ex-state Rep. Phil Krinkie's at 4.
• PA-13: Last week, we discussed the issue of campaign funds raised for the primary versus those raised for the general, in the context of the race to succeed retiring Rep. Henry Waxman in California's 33rd Congressional District. That same topic has now come up in another open blue seat—Pennsylvania's 13th—but in a much more pointed manner: State Sen. Daylin Leach has accused one of his Democratic primary rivals, ex-Rep. Marjorie Margolies, of impermissibly dipping into cash reserves that can only be used for the general election.
Leach has filed a complaint with the FEC, and, well, anyone can file a complaint, so we don't typically take much notice of stories like these. But Leach's campaign has carefully assembled some pretty damning evidence by combing through Margolies' fundraising reports and toting up her daily cash balance. As you can see from the linked chart, Margolies sank over $60,000 into the red during the first quarter of the year. The only response from the Margolies campaign so far has been to issue a flat denial of wrongdoing and call Leach "desperate"—and to hire a lawyer.
Of course, the sclerotic and defanged FEC won't ever do anything about this alleged violation (or if they do, it'll be long after this campaign is over), so Leach's chief aim here is obviously to score political points and put Margolies on the defensive. She can now either provide some kind of alternative explanation, or just hope the issue will be too abstract to resonate and try to ride this out until the primary, which is now just a month away. It'll be interesting to see where this one goes.
• TX-04: The Hill's Cameron Joseph has a good overview of all the help that outside conservative groups have been providing to former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe in his quest to unseat Rep. Ralph Hall in next month's GOP primary runoff. The best bit, though, is this quote from Ratcliffe, who says: "The fact that Congressman Hall has been in there 34 years is anathema to the Constitution, and that's a really big issue for people." Really? Which part?
• VA-08: Don Beyer starts out with probably the most name rec of the zillions of Democratic candidates in the VA-08 primary field, and not just because of his stint as lieutenant governor in the 1990s but also because of his frequent ads for his Volvo dealership. Interestingly, that dealership plays a role in his first campaign spot, which focuses primarily on women's issues, one of which touting is how well female employees are compensated at his company. The ad is backed by a "six-figure buy." (David Jarman)
• WI-06: In the wake of Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris' decision to seek Rep. Tom Petri's open seat, Manitowoc Mayor Justin Nickels, a fellow Democrat, has decided not to run himself. Nickels didn't exactly endorse Harris, though, saying only "I wish the best" to him.
• WV-03: The House Majority PAC may not have included West Virginia on its recently published list of fall ad reservations, but they evidently have not given up on Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall. The group is running yet another new ad, one that's mostly about "the New York millionaire Koch brothers" (Pace Picante alert!), who are spending "over $1 million and counting" to help elect Republican Evan Jenkins. Then the spot gets closer to home, accusing the Kochs of laying off "100 West Virginians, after outsourcing their jobs to Canada." HMP says they're spending $70,000 on this buy.
The general elections for governor and Senate will be hard-fought in November, but not in the primary. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and his Democratic challenger, former Rep. Mark Schauer, are each unopposed in August; we rate the general election as a Tossup.
Meanwhile, in the open-seat race to succeed retiring Sen. Carl Levin, Democratic Rep. Gary Peters will face former Republican Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land in November. We rate this contest as Lean Democratic. There are also races for secretary of state and attorney general, though those nominations will be decided at upcoming conventions.
There's a lot more primary action in the House, where four of the state's 14 seats are open. In the 4th District, three Republicans are running to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Dave Camp: businessman Peter Konetchy, who ran for the Senate in 2012 but failed to make the ballot; businessman and state party finance chair Paul Mitchell; and state Sen. John Moolenaar, who is the likely frontrunner. The Democratic candidate is physician Jeff Holmes. We rate the general as Safe Republican.
In the 8th District race to succeed Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, three Republicans are also running. They are Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett; former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop; and state Rep. Tom McMillin. Three Democrats are also running, with the most prominent looking like Ingham County Treasurer Eric Schertzing. We rate the general as Lean Republican.
Two Democrats are also vacating their seats. In the 12th District, party activist Debbie Dingell, the wife of retiring Rep. John Dingell, looks like the overwhelming favorite against lawyer Ray Mullins in the primary. In the 14th District, four Democrats are running to replace Gary Peters: former Rep. Hansen Clarke; teacher Burgess Foster; state Rep. Rudy Hobbs; and Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence. We rate both seats as Safe Democratic.
A few incumbent House members also face credible challenges for re-election. In the 3rd District, Republican Rep. Justin Amash faces a primary with businessman Brian Ellis in a seat we rate as Safe Republican. In the 11th District, accidental GOP Rep. Kerry Bentivolio faces foreclosure lawyer Dave Trott in the primary. Four Democrats are running, with the frontrunners looking like physician Anil Kumar and former State Department official Bobby McKenzie. We rate the general as Likely Republican.
Two other Republican incumbents also have serious Democratic opponents. In the 1st District, Rep. Dan Benishek faces former Kalkaska County Sheriff Jerry Cannon, and in the 7th District, Rep. Tim Walberg is being challenged by former state Rep. Pam Byrnes. We rate both as Likely Republican. (Jeff Singer)
• New York: Now that filing has closed for federal races in the Empire State, we have our roundup of New York's House races to watch. A few will be decided in the June 24 primary, but several will be fiercely contested all the way until November. (Jeff Singer)
• President-by-LD: Stephen Wolf brings us another set of interactive maps visualizing the results of the 2012 presidential election by state legislative district. This time we have Washington state, New Jersey, and New Mexico. All three are blue states that have a number of Republicans representing seats Barack Obama won. Democrats have majorities in each, though the Washington Senate is led by an infamous coalition of Republicans and two rouge Democrats (one of whom is fortunately retiring). For previous editions in this series, see our first, second, third, and fourth installments. (Jeff Singer)