• NY-11: Republican Rep. Mike Grimm surrendered to the FBI on Monday—a bit ironic, since he was once a bureau agent himself—and the charges against him were unsealed. Even though Grimm had long been suspected of campaign finance violations, it turns out that the U.S. Attorney has accused Grimm of underreporting wages at a restaurant he ran in Manhattan before he was elected to Congress. You can read the complete, 20-count indictment here, which also includes charges that Grimm lied to investigators to conceal his alleged misdeeds. Those perjury and obstruction allegations can often be what really sinks a suspect.
Of course, none of this means that the campaign finance inquiry is over. Quite the contrary: It may well be that prosecutors figure they have Grimm dead to rights on the restaurant business and are hoping to package everything up into one tidy plea deal. Grimm, though, is showing no signs of caving, saying he won't resign and will seek re-election—but that's what you'd expect him to say. He can always roll over later.
• AK-Sen: We don't usually mention radio ads in the Digest (there are just too many of them), but here's an unusual spot from Democratic Sen. Mark Begich that explicitly calls out his GOP opponents for opposing "a woman's right to choose," as well as "equal pay for women."
• AR-Sen: In his latest ad, Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor explains that he's written legislation to make it harder to raise eligibility age for Medicare, and accuses his GOP opponent, Rep. Tom Cotton, of wanting to hike it to 70.
• CO-Sen: In a new ad, the League of Conservation Voters accuses the "out-of-state oil billionaire Koch brothers" of running a "smear campaign" because GOP Rep. Cory Gardner "voted to keep giving billions in special taxpayer-funded subsidies to oil companies."
• GA-Sen: Democrat Michelle Nunn features her father, ex-Sen. Sam Nunn, in her newest ad and says she tried to follow in her dad's footsteps—playing basketball, not in politics. (Pops once led his high school team to a state championship.) Nunn goes on to talk about her charitable work running "President Bush's Points of Light Foundation."
Former Secretary of State Karen Handel also has a new TV spot, taking aim at her GOP primary opponents as "career congressmen" or, in the case of David Perdue, an "out-of-touch millionaire elitist." Handel then mentions she "left a troubled home at 17" but "beat the odds" and eventually went on to implement "Georgia's tough voter I.D. law."
• LA-Sen: Patriot Majority, one of the big pro-Democratic super PACs, is running a new ad hammering GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy for supporting cuts to school funding and Pell grants, with a quick mention of the Kochs thrown in at the end. Sen. Mary Landrieu also has a new positive spot, featuring a local businessman Boysie Bollinger, who explains: "I don't usually make TV ads—I make boats! Big ones!" Bollinger goes on to say that he's a Republican but supports Landrieu because of what she's done (and can do) for the state, including the fact that she's now chair of the Energy Committee, "the most powerful position a person can have for Louisiana."
• MT-Sen: Democratic Sen. John Walsh launched two new ads on Monday. In the first, Walsh, a former commander of the Montana National Guard, touts his sponsorship of the Suicide Prevention for America's Veterans Act as he rides his motorcycle through the countryside with some fellow enthusiasts. The second extensively discusses Walsh's military service (this time featuring him on a bicycle), including leading combat troops in Iraq.
• NC-Sen: Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis has taken a sharp right turn in his latest ad, with just a week to go before the GOP primary. In the spot, he talks about how the legislature, under his leadership, placed a measure to ban same-sex marriage on the ballot (which passed in 2012). He also touts new abortion restrictions he shepherded into law.
• NE-Sen: In a new ad, former state Treasurer Shane Osborn hits his chief rival, Midland University president Ben Sasse, on an unusual topic for a GOP primary: Obamacare. Osborn says he opposed the law "from the start" but accuses Sasse of "bragging on Obamacare." I can't say I'm familiar with the construction "bragging on," but apparently it means, "express some support for," and Osborn cites various writings by Sasse to argue he's been insufficiently hostile to the ACA.
"I've always felt that people should either get some type of health care options, or pay for it with a nice competitive fee. That's all great. I believe it in my heart. In terms of pre-existing conditions, catastrophic coverage, covering kids—whatever we want to do, we can do it. As a matter of fact, in New Hampshire, I would encourage everybody to do a New Hampshire plan that works for New Hampshire, that deals with individual freedoms, and doesn't have mandates put on by bureaucrats in Washington ... a plan that is good for New Hampshire ... can include the Medicaid expansion folks who need that care and coverage."Meanwhile, the Senate Majority PAC takes a double whack at Brown in their newest ad, accusing him of being a shill for big oil and shopping around for a new Senate seat while toting his "Big Oil baggage."
• NY-Sen: Here's an interesting piece from Capital New York that delves into the backstory behind then-Gov. David Paterson's decision to tap Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate, after Clinton was confirmed as secretary of state in 2009. The article was occasioned by Paterson's release of 56 boxes of papers from his administration, which include materials on the appointment process.
At the time, Paterson handled the affair poorly, making a series of contradictory public remarks before finally settling on Gillibrand. Now, though, he's offering some candid commentary to go along with this document dump, including the fact that he handicapped every scenario with Andrew Cuomo—even though Cuomo was among those under consideration. But Cuomo, Paterson says, didn't "push" for the job, and he understood Paterson's desire to name a woman to the post.
• IA-Gov, -Sen: Whaddya know. We've got another poll showing GOP Gov. Terry Branstad in surprisingly weak shape against his unheralded Democratic challenger, state Sen. Jack Hatch, and this time it's from a Republican outfit. In fact, the survey in question was conducted by Vox Populi, Mary Cheney's new firm, on behalf of the conservative Daily Caller, and it finds Branstad with a small 45-43 edge on Hatch, by far the narrowest lead he's ever held. However, a recent PPP poll put Branstad up just 43-38, and five straight polls now have put him in the mid-to-low 40s.
As for the Senate race, the Daily Caller went cheap and didn't test Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley against the field. Rather, they paired him with the generic "Republican candidate" and find him up 42-41. Meanwhile, Senate hopeful Mark Jacobs, has decided to join the Steve Southerland/Phil Gingrey Brotherhood of Underpaid Congressmen:
Here's GOP Senate candidate Mark Jacobs on whether he would forgo his Senate salary if he wins the office: "I don't think U.S. senators make that much money, but again, you know, I'm willing to make significant investment of my time and energy here to help solve the problems we have in this country. (Jacobs' campaign later clarified: "He's never really looked into how much U.S. senators make. The point he was trying to make is that no matter what U.S. senators make, he's not doing it for the money.")Jacobs, a wealthy businessman who has given his own campaign over $1.6 million, is one of two frontrunners for the Republican nod. We'll see if his chief rival, state Sen. Joni Ernst, tries to make hay out of this blunder.
• MA-Gov: The super PAC of the National Association of Government Employees is running a new ad attacking Republican Charlie Baker for increasing premiums and dropping coverage while he was CEO of a health insurance company, while at the same time increasing his pay.
• NY-Gov: The New York State Democratic Party is running a pair of new ads slamming Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino as an ultra-conservative who violated anti-discrimination laws, stemming from a long-running battle with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The spots cite a New York Times editorial that helps explain the background.
• WI-Gov: A Republican media buying firm that bought air time in Wisconsin for the RGA earlier this year has now made a $1.9 million TV reservation for the final two months of the campaign. It's not known whether Target Enterprises' client is once again the RGA, but with GOP Gov. Scott Walker only riding a narrow lead in the polls, it's a pretty reasonable bet.
• CA-31: California's top-two primary is now just five weeks away, and the two leading Democrats in the race have both just launched their first TV ads. Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar's spot features his two grandmothers who pepper him with questions, like "You're going to protect Medicare and Social Security?" and "You'll still answer me when I call you 'Petey Pie'?"
Attorney Eloise Gomez Reyes, meanwhile, goes the biographical route, describing how she moved up from farming onions during summers as a teenager to becoming "the first Latina to ever open a law firm in San Bernardino County." Says Reyes: "I made the journey, but for people these days, that journey has become so much harder."
• FL-13: Attorney Jessica Ehrlich, who ran a creditable campaign against the late Rep. Bill Young in 2012 but was shunted aside by the Democratic establishment in favor of Alex Sink in the special election earlier this year, has decided against seeking this seat once more this fall. There's a new possible name on the horizon, though: wealthy developer Joel Cantor, who is apparently considering a bid against GOP Rep. David Jolly, according to the DCCC.
• LA-05: Republican Rep. Vance McAllister, forever immortalized on security camera footage as the "kissing congressman," has decided not to seek re-election, according to the Monroe News-Star. He does, however, say he won't resign and plans to finish out his term.
Last year, McAllister, a wealthy businessman who owns an oil company and several restaurant franchises, won a major upset in a special election to replace ex-Rep. Rodney Alexander. McAllister defeated a fellow Republican, state Sen. Neil Riser, who had the backing of the entire GOP establishment. But in part by campaigning in favor of accepting federal Medicaid expansion funds, McAllister prevailed in the runoff, which was open to voters of all parties. (McAllister was also endorsed by Willie Robertson, star of the popular reality show Duck Dynasty, which is based in the district.)
In his very brief tenure, McAllister's most notable pre-scandal moment came in January, when he declared that his new job as a congressman "sucks" and "ain't no fun." Perhaps a bit presciently, though, he also added, "But the day I start enjoying it in Washington, D.C., is the day that I should come home."
And now, indeed, he'll be coming home for good. Earlier this month, an unknown someone with an axe to grind leaked a video of McAllister making out with a staffer at his district office in Monroe. Both McAllister and the aide are married (to other people, natch). Even in notoriously forgiving Louisiana, the fact that the indiscretion was actually caught on tape was just too much, particularly since McAllister ran as a family values Christian conservative, and high-level Republicans quickly called for his resignation.
McAllister, though, initially struck a defiant tone and insisted he'd stay in office and even run for another term. But sharks started to gather and one Republican candidate had already launched a campaign to unseat the incumbent, with many others still considering. (In this dark red district, a Republican is all but certain to succeed McAllister.) Evidently, McAllister finally succumbed to reality, realizing his chances at winning another term were remote at best. The scrutiny probably wasn't much fun, either. And now it's time we all blow him a kiss goodbye.
• MT-AL: Former state Sen. Ryan Zinke spends most of his new ad talking about his grandmother, who was a "frontier schoolhouse teacher" in Montana. He also throws in a reference to his service as a Navy SEAL.
• NC-06: A Public Opinion Strategies internal poll for Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger, Jr. finds him with a 36-14 lead on Baptist pastor Mark Walker with just a week to go before the GOP primary. Two other candidates were at 6 percent apiece, though there are nine total Republicans running in this race to succeed retiring Rep. Howard Coble. That makes it trickier for Berger to avoid a runoff, but he only needs 40 percent to do so, and if his own numbers are accurate, he's very close.
• OH-14: While Rep. Dave Joyce is likely to cruise to renomination against state Rep. Matt Lynch in next week's GOP primary, the American Hospital Association is nevertheless helping him out with a $115,000 flight of television ads. The spots do not appear to be available online.
• PA-13: We now have TV ads from all four Democratic candidates in next month's primary, with new spots from ex-Rep. Marjorie Margolies and physician Valerie Arkoosh. Margolies, in a soft callback to her famous vote in favor of Bill Clinton's 1993 budget, declares that "sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same," and then features footage of ex-Gov. Ed Rendell referencing the same event, along with a still of Clinton endorsing her.
Arkoosh, meanwhile, says her daughter is "excited about my campaign for Congress," as the youngster repeatedly "interrupts" filming to interject her own ideas. I've watched the spot a few times and don't really get the ad's whole shtick. In the middle, Arkoosh says she's "spent her career solving problems," from "the delivery room to helping the president pass health care reform," which gets kind of lost in the noise. Then her daughter's back at the end, insisting they record the whole thing again, only this time, with "more energy." Why would you talk your own ad down like this?
There's also an interesting backgrounder from the Philadelphia Inquirer arguing that the primary, which once looked like Margolies' to lose, is now a truly open four-way affair. There hasn't been any recent polling, but one consultant says: "I can give you a winning scenario for every one of those candidates." That could very well be the case.
• UT-04: Despite bungling what looked like a sure win last cycle, and despite the fact that Utah's 4th Congressional District unexpectedly opened up late last year when Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson announced his retirement, Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love easily earned the GOP nomination once again at her party's convention over the weekend. Love took 78 percent of the delegates' vote, compared to just 22 percent for businessman Bob Fuehr, meaning she cleared the 60 percent threshold necessary to avoid a primary.
Love will face attorney Doug Owens, son of ex-Rep. Wayne Owens, in November. But with Matheson gone, Democrats' chances of holding this 67 percent Romney seat are nil, and Daily Kos Elections rates the race as Safe Republican, giving the GOP an automatic pickup.
Several Republicans are competing to take on Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper. They are former Rep. (and 2006 gubernatorial nominee) Bob Beauprez; Secretary of State Scott Gessler; former state Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp; and former Rep. (and 2010 third-party gubernatorial nominee) Tom Tancredo. Daily Kos Elections rates the general election as Lean Democratic.
Colorado will also conduct elections for other statewide offices. Each party has one candidate for secretary of state and treasurer (with former Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey running for the latter). The Republicans have a primary for attorney general, with state House Minority Leader Mark Waller taking on Deputy Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. The winner will face Democrat and former Adams County District Attorney Don Quick.
Turning to federal races, Democratic Sen. Mark Udall will face a challenge from sophomore Republican Rep. Cory Gardner. Both Udall and Gardner are unopposed in the primary, and we currently rate the general as Lean Democratic, though Udall's edge is looking increasingly narrow.
Four Republicans are running to succeed Gardner in the 4th District. They are 2010 Senate nominee Ken Buck; Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer; Steve Laffey, a former Rhode Island mayor; and state Sen. Scott Renfroe. Romney won 59-39 here, and we rate the general as Safe Republican.
The rest of the state's delegation is running, and two Republicans have to fight to keep their seats. In the 3rd District, Rep. Scott Tipton will face former Democratic state Sen. Abel Tapia in a contest we rate as Likely Republican. In the swingy 6th District, Rep. Mike Coffman (the husband of the aforementioned Cynthia Coffman) is being challenged by former Democratic House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. This is going to be one of the most expensive contests in the nation, and we rate it as a Tossup. (Jeff Singer)
• Demographics: No doubt you're by now familiar with the idea that Democrats suffer from the lower turnout associated with off-year elections, largely because members of the "ascendant electorate" (young, single female, and/or non-white voters) are disproportionately likely to vote for Democratic presidential candidates but also less likely to show up for midterms. A sidebar accompanying Sasha Issenberg's new long-form piece for the New Republic presents data that puts this disparity between "reflex voters" (who vote every two years) and "unreliable voters" in very sharp relief. For example:
• 53 percent of reflex voters are female, while 56 percent of unreliable voters are female;
• 77 percent of reflex voters are white, while 68 percent of unreliable voters are white;
• 52 percent of reflex voters say they're likely to vote Republican, while 38 percent of unreliable voters say they're likely to vote Republican; and
• 51 percent of reflex voters identify as conservative, while 34 percent of unreliable voters identify as conservative.
It's well worth reading the entire piece, especially if you haven't read Issenberg's 2013 book The Victory Lab, which is about the increasing scientification of predicting and driving turnout; the article, for the most part, is a distillation of the book and a helpful primer.
The good news is that this is an area of inquiry where the Democrats have really been leading the way, and the 2014 election is the first midterm where they're beginning to put large amounts of money into face-to-face voter contacts, targeted mailings, and the like, instead of just throwing more money at TV ads. The bad news, of course, is the numbers shown above, and just how steep the dropoff between on- and off-year electorates is. (David Jarman)
• Polls: A conservative group called the Liberty Foundation just dumped a huge batch of polls conducted mid-month by Republican pollster Magellan Strategies, with PDFs that seem designed to mimic PPP's very closely. However, no crosstabs are provided, and they only tested one matchup for every race, even in contests where there are unsettled primaries. But in any event, here are all the numbers:
AK-Sen: Mark Begich (D-inc): 41, Dan Sullivan (R): 46Most of these numbers make rough sense, though some seem a bit too bearish for Democrats (like IA-Sen) and some look very optimistic (such as WI-Gov, the first non-Rasmussen poll to find a tie). There's also the eyebrow-raising FL-Gov results, which give Scott the largest lead he's ever seen; in fact, this is only the second poll ever to show him ahead. And in Colorado, the huge spread between Udall and Hickenlooper is a bit hard to figure. Will there really be a lot of Gardner-Hickenlooper voters this fall? Still, plenty to chew over here.
AR-Sen: Mark Pryor (D-inc): 43, Tom Cotton (R): 46
CO-Sen: Mark Udall (D-inc): 45, Cory Gardner (R): 42
CO-Gov: John Hickenlooper (D-inc): 50, Bob Beauprez (R): 35
FL-Gov: Charlie Crist (D): 43 (D), Rick Scott (R-inc): 45
IA-Sen: Bruce Braley (D): 40, Mark Jacobs (R): 41
LA-Sen: Mary Landrieu (D-inc): 42, Bill Cassidy (R): 44
MI-Sen: Gary Peters (D): 46, Terri Lynn Land (R): 41
MI-Gov: Mark Schauer (D): 42, Rick Snyder (R): 45
NC-Sen: Kay Hagan (D-inc): 43, Thom Tillis (R): 43
OH-Gov: Ed FitzGerald (D): 41, John Kasich (R-inc): 47
WI-Gov: Mary Burke (D): 47, Scott Walker (D-inc): 47
• Primaries: Despite Congress' considerable unpopularity, most House members have little to no opposition for renomination. However, every cycle at least a few unfortunate representatives find themselves tossed out of office in a primary. We take a look at the congressmen (there are no women on the list) who will have to fight to earn another shot from their own party. (Jeff Singer)