• SC-Gov: The Republican Governors Association is continuing its assault on democracy with yet another ad attacking Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen for daring to offer legal services to the accused:
The spot is very similar to their last one, a revolting effort to paint Sheheen (who is running against South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley) as some kind of dastardly fiend for, you know, helping criminal defendants exercise their constitutional rights. Here, the ad accuses Sheen of "reducing" the jail time of a "sex offender who abused a minor" from "10 years to 38 days."
Of course, this is also known as "how the system works," and Sheheen didn't "reduce" anything. He negotiated a plea deal with prosecutors, who had to sign off on this agreement. (And according to The State, it's likely that the alleged victim did so as well.) What's more, as Sheheen points out, Haley's been accused of multiple ethics violations during her time in office, yet of course she's never hesitated to seek legal representation.
Nor should she, because, again, this is how our adversarial system of justice is supposed to operate. And that's why so many in the legal world have reacted with extreme hostility to the RGA's despicable ads, even including Republicans. That includes attorney Robert Luskin, who is defending none other than Chris Christie—the chair of the RGA—in the Bridgegate scandal; the South Carolina Bar Association; the American Bar Association; and former state Attorney General Charlie Condon, who describes himself as a supporter of Haley's. But as Condon points out, was John Adams unfit to serve as president because he defended British soldiers accused of perpetrating the Boston Massacre?
The RGA probably thinks so. And even more sadly, the fact that they keep running ads on this theme suggests they believe these attacks are working with voters. But the good news is that the RGA is even running ads in deep red South Carolina in the first place. If they didn't fear that Sheheen might unseat Haley, they wouldn't bother. Make no mistake: This will be a very difficult race for Democrats to win. But there's a real chance that Sheheen, and those who stand on the side of justice, will earn the last laugh here.
• MN-Sen, -Gov: Suffolk has a new poll of Minnesota's races for Senate and governor, but the results are incredibly similar across the board. The state's two Democratic incumbents, Sen. Al Franken and Gov. Mark Dayton, lead all of their Republican opponents, in almost every case by roughly a 44-28 margin. The narrowest margin is Dayton's 43-32 edge on former state Rep. Marty Seifert. There are also some numbers for the GOP primaries, but undecideds are over 60 percent in both cases.
• NC-Sen: North Carolina's GOP Senate primary is in just a week, and it sure looks like state House Speaker Thom Tillis is peaking at the right moment. PPP finds Tillis surging out to a 46-20 lead on physician Greg Brannon, with pastor Mark Harris at 11. That's up from just an 18-15 edge earlier this month, so all that advertising on Tillis' behalf from Karl Rove has clearly paid off.
Unlike most other states with runoffs, North Carolina only requires primary winners to clear 40 percent of the vote, not 50, so Tillis should be home free. In the unlikely event that he were to face a second round, though, he'd start off with a 50-32 advantage on Brannon and an even wider 53-27 lead over Harris.
At least one pollster is offering a dissenting view of things: National Research, which conducted a poll on behalf of the conservative Civitas Institute. What's strange, though, is that Civitas also commissioned research from SurveyUSA, which found Tillis beating Brannon 39-20 last week. National Research, however, only gives Tillis a 27-16 lead on Harris, with Brannon at 13. Why the same group would pay for two different polls from two different pollsters is beyond me, and what's more, what's the point of a survey that still has 30 percent undecideds a week before Election Day, as National Research does?
Given that weirdness, it makes more sense to trust PPP and SUSA. And if they're correct, then it'll be Tillis vs. Kay Hagan this fall. But as Tom Jensen notes, Tillis had to "tack pretty far to the right" to prevail over his primary foes—and he has some numbers that show just how conservative the GOP electorate is. Making this move may have helped Tillis now, but it won't help in November.
• NE-Sen: Republican Ben Sasse's new ad just instantly gives me the creeps. It features his two young daughters, posed before an all-black background (when is that ever a good visual choice?) explaining how much their dad hates Obamacare. That's just bizarre. Usually when politicians have their kids speak on their behalf, it's to say warm and fuzzy things about their parents. But presenting them as some kind of policy experts?
Daughter no. 1: He does not like Obamacare. He's read it and he realizes how bad it is and he wants to find a way to, um, destroy it and rebuild something that's successful.Like, whoa. As if to acknowledge how heavy and weird this all is, daughter no. 2 reappears after Sasse's "I approve this message" line and asks, "Can I put in now that I want a horse, very badly?" Uh, okay, I guess you can? Sasse has gotten smacked around lately by his chief primary rival, Shane Osborn, over remarks he's made that have been less than implacably hostile to Obamacare, so of course he wants to push back. But is this really the best he can offer? Yikes.
Daughter no. 2: He despises it. When people say bad things about him, he tries to ignore it, and we always pray for the opposing candidates at breakfast.
Daughter no. 1: My dad wants to go there as the outsider and he wants to fix Washington.
• OR-Sen: A super PAC called NewRepublican.org, founded by GOP consultant and CNN talking head Alex Castellanos, is spending $76,000 to run a pair of new ads on behalf of physician Monica Wehby. The first features shots of women from the ankle down as a narrator explains that "[t]hese are the workbooks building the fastest-growing part of Oregon's economy—women are creating more new small business jobs than men." The spot then quickly flips to talking about Wehby's priorities: term limits, "repeal Obamacare to create jobs," lower taxes. The second ad is similar but calls Wehby an "independent conservative" and an "honored baby doctor."
• AR-Gov: Republican ex-Rep. Asa Hutchinson keeps veering around when it comes to the messages he wants to send in his advertising. First it was bipartisan, then it was conservative, and now, in his latest TV spot, it's largely non-partisan. Hutchinson says he wants to lower taxes, teach computer science in every high school, and protect "Arkansas' quality of life."
• GA-Gov, -Sen: A new SurveyUSA poll of Georgia finds the two heaviest-spending GOP candidates, businessman David Perdue and Rep. Jack Kingston, in the likeliest position to make the runoff. Perdue leads with 26 and Kingston is at 20, while former Secretary of State Karen Handel takes 15, Rep. Paul Broun 13, and Rep. Phil Gingrey just 6.
SUSA didn't test any of the Republicans against Democrat Michelle Nunn in general election matchups, but they did ask about the governor's race. There, GOP Gov. Nathan Deal leads Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter by a 41-37 spread, with Libertarian Andrew Hunt taking a sizable 9 percent. The Carter-Deal margin is similar to what we've seen in other recent polling, but this is the first time we've ever gotten numbers for a third-party candidate. Hunt is unlikely to retain his current level of support on Election Day, but while Libertarians are usually thought to hurt Republicans, in this case, Democrats are more likely to suffer.
That's because Hunt will make it much harder for Carter to win an outright majority in November. And if he fails to do so, Carter will then have to face Deal in a January runoff, a lower-turnout scenario that favors Republicans—even if Carter manages a plurality in the first round. Indeed, this quirk in Georgia law (it's the only state to require general election candidates to clear 50 percent) poses a serious obstacle to Carter, and potentially to Nunn as well.
• IL-Gov: Republican gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner has a trio of new ads (here, here, and here). One stars a man who says he was "captured by the streets" but was aided by a charity Rauner founded. Another features a man who says he was a "co-chair of Latinos for Obama" but is supporting Rauner now. The final spot is narrated by a teacher who says she's a Democrat but, likewise, backs Rauner. It's notable that all three ads feature minorities.
• MD-Gov: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown's latest ad is education-focused and probably crams in too many ideas all at once. Most notable is his desire to "expand pre-kindergarten to every child," an issue that figured prominently in another Democratic primary last year when Bill de Blasio championed the idea during his campaign for New York City mayor.
• AL-06: Republican state Rep. Paul DeMarco's second ad is mostly narrated by his wife, who says she doesn't like to call him a politician (I hate to tell ya...), then laughs awkwardly when she adds, "He's gonna tell you like it is, even if it's not what you wanna hear—trust me." The final third of the ad is all about how the couple is expecting a baby soon. DeMarco is one of many candidates hoping to succeed retiring Rep. Spencer Bachus in this dark red district.
• CA-07: Former Rep. Doug Ose has released an internal poll of the June 3 top-two primary and it contains good news for him—and the man he'd like to unseat, Democratic Rep. Ami Bera. The survey, from the Tarrance Group, finds Bera leading the pack with 43 percent, while Ose is far back at 24. However, Ose has a sizable edge on his two fellow Republicans, since former congressional staffer Igor Birman's at just 8 and nonprofit executive Elizabeth Emken trails with only 6 percent.
If you add all those numbers up, though, Bera still holds a combined 43-38 advantage against the GOP field. Given that Democratic performance increased between the primary and the general in every single congressional race in California in 2012, that's a good place for a freshman incumbent to start. Indeed, Bera himself jumped from 41 to 52 percent, so even if his bump is smaller this time, he'd still be favored. And Ose's position isn't assured, either, seeing as the ad wars have barely begun and there are still plenty of undecideds, so Bera could still wind up with an opponent who's flakier (Emken) or crazier (Birman).
• CA-25: Democrat Lee Rogers is running his first TV ad ahead of June's top-two primary, a cheaply produced spot in which a narrator touts Rogers' medical background (he's a podiatrist) and says that he wants to "clos[e] tax loopholes for Wall Street banks, rebuild our infrastructure, and protect Medicare and Social Security."
• IA-03: As mystery-evoking music plays in the background of his new ad, Republican David Young emerges from blackness to tear up an Obama bumper sticker as he claims the president "ripped apart our health care system, shredded our economy, and crumbled our national security." What does he do next? Why, he takes out a small magic wand (that looks more like a pen), taps the ball of paper scraps in his hand, and, voila, pulls out a rumpled but intact American flag. Seriously, what is this, David Copperfield for Congress?
• LA-05: With Rep. Vance McAllister's decision not to seek re-election this fall, the man he beat in last year's special election runoff, Republican state Sen. Neil Riser, is now saying he won't rule out another bid for Congress.
• MI-04: Businessman Paul Mitchell, who is (or at least was) the state GOP's finance chair, is airing his first ad in the race to succeed retiring Rep. Dave Camp. It's a platitude-filled spot that, for a Republican primary, is very light on red meat and just touts Mitchell as a job creator.
• NC-06: With little time left before next week's GOP primary, retired finance executive Bruce VonCannon is going negative on the frontrunner, Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger, Jr. VonCannon's ad accuses Berger of being a dynastic politician who's "funded by Democratic lobbyists" and who once offered "a plea bargain to a child rapist to only serve three years."
• Chamber: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is launching a broad-spectrum TV ad buy in a number of different races around the country. (You can find all of their spots here.) Chief among them is a belated attempt to boost Thom Tillis in North Carolina, though as you can see from our NC-Sen item above, he probably no longer needs the help. (The ad does also ding Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.) There are also positive ads touting several other GOP Senate hopefuls, including Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Jack Kingston (Georgia), Terri Lynn Land (Michigan), and Steve Daines (Montana).
The one exception to the senatorial theme is a spot attacking New Hanover County Commissioner Woody White as a "trial lawyer" (and even compares him to John Edwards!). White faces ex-state Sen. David Rouzer in the race for retiring Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre's 7th District seat in North Carolina. We don't presently know how much the Chamber is spending across all of these races.
• Senate: The gang at Roll Call, as per usual, has unleashed their quarterly Senate fundraising chart, an incredibly useful (and difficult-to-compile) set of data. And if you're looking for House numbers, be sure to check out our first quarter chart if you missed it the first time around.