• MI-13: We now have some numbers on the John Conyers situation, courtesy the Detroit News. The veteran Democrat submitted the legal maximum 2,000 signatures this time, unlike last cycle, when he filed barely more than the 1,000 minimum. However, after local election officials reviewed the signatures, only 1,193 turned out to be valid. This means that if another 194 get dinged, Conyers will either have to run as a write-in in the primary or retire against his will.
At issue now is whether two petition gatherers who collected 314 signatures were themselves registered voters, which is required under Michigan law. According to the News' unnamed sources, the two collectors were not listed in a state registration file, though they do appear in the database maintained by the Wayne County Clerk's Office, which handles elections in Detroit. However, Conyers' primary opponent, Rev. Horace Sheffield, is arguing that these registrations were only received this week and were improperly backdated by the clerk's office. The clerk has until early June to rule on Sheffield's challenge, and appeals are possible. The primary is Aug. 5.
• AR-, AK-Sen: Politico's Elizabeth Titus got ahold of those American Hospital Association ads in Alaska and Arkansas. Both are similar and praise Democratic Sens. Mark Begich and Mark Pryor for expanding access to healthcare, especially in rural communities, though the Pryor spot specifically refers to him as a cancer survivor. (Pryor was diagnosed with a rare cancer in his leg in the mid 1990s that almost required an amputation.)
• GA-Sen: For the first time in many months, a poll shows former Secretary of State Karen Handel in one of the top two slots in Georgia's GOP Senate primary. The survey, from InsiderAdvantage, puts businessman David Perdue at 22 with Handel just behind at 21, and Rep. Jack Kingston at 17; in mid-April, Perdue led Kingston 19-15, with Handel at 13. And as we've seen in other recent polling, the two most fervent true believers bring up the rear, with Rep. Paul Broun at 14 and Rep. Phil Gingrey at 12.
Kingston responded with his own internal poll showing him leading Perdue 20-17, with Handel back at 14 (and Gingrey and Broun again in the caboose, at 13 and 8 respectively). However, the survey was conducted by McLaughlin and Associates, which had one of the very worst track records in 2012 general election polling.
Regardless of which poll you believe, though, every candidate's individual vote share is still very low, and even though there aren't many undecideds left, the race is fluid and a lot could still change before the state's May 20 primary. A July 22 runoff, however, is all but certain.
• NC-Sen: The Senate Majority PAC is re-upping their buy behind their ad attacking Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis over affairs his staffers carried on with lobbyists, to the tune of $272,000.
• NE-Sen: The Nebraska Farm Bureau doesn't typically take sides in primaries, but it's endorsed Midland University president Ben Sasse for the GOP nomination. However, according to Open Secrets, the group does not have a history of spending a whole lot to support its preferred candidates.
• OK-Sen-B: GOP Rep. James Lankford sits at a table in a diner and delivers a lecture about the Affordable Care Act in one of two new ads. He repeatedly invokes the word "freedom," saying. "The biggest issue with Obamacare is you lose freedom." In his second spot, Lankford takes on a topic that's of ceaseless interest to conservatives but seldom makes it into advertisements: Benghazi. In a weirdly delivered (or edited) line, Lankford says, "Unfortunately, it appears that the president and the administration. How can we cover this up right before the election?"
• OR-Sen: Oregon Senate hopeful Monica Wehby has gotten some attention lately, in large part because she presents a more appealing profile than your typical Republican candidate: female, a pediatric neurosurgeon, not an ultra-conservative. She also recently put out a strong ad that makes the most of her medical background.
But with greater scrutiny have come some stumbles, of a kind you often see with first-time candidates. Wehby utterly botched her interview with Willamette Week's editorial board, leading the paper to say she "fumble[d] her way through" the sit-down, "waffled endlessly" on Obamacare, and offered "befuddling answers" that were "at times disingenuous"—before they endorsed her primary opponent, state Rep. Jason Conger.
Following this debacle, Wehby decided not to participate in the only televised GOP debate of the year. It's a strange choice for a candidate without much name recognition or money, and if she can't handle Conger, how is she supposed to take on Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley, who is far more accomplished?
• NM-Gov: A group called Better New Mexico is airing a TV ad attacking GOP Gov. Susana Martinez over offensive remarks she and her staffers made in audio recordings recently obtained by Mother Jones. Says the narrator, attorney Oriana Sandoval: "Behind closed doors, Susana Martinez played along when her staff laughed and shamed Spanish speaking families, like mine." In a nifty bit of chutzpah, Martinez's campaign tried to get the ad taken down before they'd even seen it. (They were rejected.)
Meanwhile, businessman Lawrence Rael just became the first Democrat to get up on TV. His ad is a positive spot filled with platitudes about "a New Mexico that can thrive" with "no shortage of good jobs and opportunities."
• PA-Gov: Even though the rest of the field has started advertising in earnest, businessman Tom Wolf still has a big lead in the May 20 Democratic primary for governor, according to Muhlenberg College. Wolf takes 38 percent, versus just 13 for Rep. Allyson Schwartz, 11 for state Treasurer Rob McCord, and a pitiful 2 percent for former state environmental secretary Katie McGinty. This is actually Muhlenberg's first poll of the race, but their numbers are very similar to recent surveys from Franklin & Marshall and Harper. Time's running out for everyone else to make a move.
And indeed, it looks like GOP Gov. Tom Corbett is already anticipating a Wolf victory. He just released a new attack ad claiming that when Wolf "served in Harrisburg as the state's top tax collector, our taxes went through the roof," leading to "152,000 PA workers losing their jobs." Wolf did indeed once head the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, but this sounds a bit like blaming the commissioner of the IRS for the size of your tax bill. Will this kind of deliberate obscurantism really work with voters?
• FL-13: In a sign that Democrats may be close to luring wealthy developer Joel Cantor into the race, Baptist pastor Manuel Sykes has decided not to run against GOP Rep. David Jolly. But he only did so after Pinellas County Democratic chair Mark Hanisee left an incredibly hostile voicemail for him, telling Sykes he'd be "persona non grata" if he didn't drop out. Hanisee went further in public comments, claiming that his views had "nothing to do with whether he is white or black" (Sykes is black)—but then in the very next moment saying, "If you check the demographics, it's like a 2 percent, 3 percent African-American district."
This kind of excessive hardball is just uncalled for. An appeal to reason ("Hey, the establishment is going to support someone else, so you're better off running for another office") would have been more than adequate here. And telling a black candidate he shouldn't run in a heavily white district is just crappy, especially when Barack Obama won here. Oh, and Florida's 13th is 6 percent black, so not only is Hanisee a jerk, he's also wrong.
• LA-06: Here's another great interview with Democratic ex-Gov. Edwin Edwards, who is attempting an incredibly improbable comeback at the age of 86. He's just always ready with great lines and is perhaps the most candid politician in America—which may be why Louisianans have long seemed to like him despite the fact that he was a crook. But even though he's a relic from another age (Edwards says he still needs to "staff the office with secretaries to do the typing and letter-writing"), he's also changed with the times, too, and says he supports same-sex marriage.
• NC-02: It sounds like even Clay Aiken's campaign is preparing for the possibility that the famous singer and activist might lose Tuesday's Democratic primary to businessman Keith Crisco, who has outspent Aiken on TV four-to-one, according to Roll Call. One Aiken advisor acknowledged on the record that he "wouldn't be surprised either way," and an unnamed North Carolina operative was harshly critical, accusing Aiken of running "a quintessential celebrity campaign that is way too top heavy and way too focused on everybody getting paid and not talking to voters."
Crisco has self-funded heavily, pouring in over half a million dollars in his own money. But Aiken's fundraising has been weak, almost startlingly so for someone as prominent as he is. He also hasn't responded adroitly to Crisco's attacks over his failure to attend meetings of a blue-ribbon presidential panel on intellectual disabilities that George Bush appointed him to. This is good vetting for Aiken, though, since if he can't get past Crisco, then he wouldn't fare much better against GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers in this dark red district. Then again, Crisco's chances of beating Ellmers aren't much better.
• NY-21: Former George W. Bush aide Elise Stefanik is airing her first ad of the GOP primary, a very didactic spot in which she demands a show of hands in front of a room full of people, asking if the crowd thinks "Washington is broken." Stefanik hold her own arm up and declares, "Unanimous," though at most you can see half a hand belonging to anyone else. Stefanik goes on to tout her small business background, then says, "I think Congress should pass no law that they don't live by themselves." I really don't understand what that means, though I suspect it's a conservative dog whistle related to Obamacare.
Stefanik concludes with an awkward attempt to address the issue of her youth (she's 29 and looks young), dumping on her fellow Millenials: "My generation can't just complain about the problems, we have to help solve them as well." Sadly, that kind of self-hating jab probably appeals to cranky older voters who think the economy sucks because coddled 20-somethings just won't get off their lazy behinds to look for work—in other words, Republican primary voters.
• PA-13: State Sen. Daylin Leach is running a second ad, and while the messaging is good, the production values are poor. The spot features a series of women taking state Rep. Brendan Boyle to task for his anti-choice views, including the fact that he once won an award as a "Pro-Life All-Star." In a blue suburban district like this one, it's the kind of attack that can leave a mark. But the constant jump-cuts from speaker to speaker (everyone only speaks part of a sentence at a time) are jarring, and the whole thing just feels cheaply produced.
What's most interesting, though, is the fact that Leach is aiming his fire at Boyle, as opposed to someone else. There's been zero recent polling, but if Boyle is Leach's main concern, perhaps that means ex-Rep. Marjorie Margolies really has faded badly. Of course, it may also mean that no one is really sure who their biggest rivals are, which is very possible in a seemingly wide-open, low turnout race like this one.
• TX-LG: Oof, what a screwup. Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is probably going to crash and burn in the May 27 runoff, put together an ad featuring a half-shirtless photo of the man who's about to do him in, state Sen. Dan Patrick. So what kind of debauchery was Patrick engaged in when he tore off his own togs? A fundraiser for children with disabilities, during which Patrick literally auctioned off "the shirt off his back." Nicely done, Mountain Dew.
• Demographics: One of the maddening things about messaging based on economic policy is that there's no clear correlation between income and American voting patterns. You can see that when looking at how different districts or counties vote: For every Republican exurb there's an affluent creative-class suburb that's Democratic, and for every barrio there's a town in Appalachia. Now Alan Abramowitz has fleshed out the lack of a relationship between income and party preference a little more, using American National Election Study data (and its giant sample size).
What might be most interesting about his findings, though, is that while there's no correlation between income and voting among whites and blacks—the white vote for Mitt Romney hovered in the 50-60 percent range regardless of income bracket, while the black vote for Romney was in the single digits across the income spectrum—there is a definite correspondence between income and votes among Hispanics. In the lowest income bracket, Romney barely cleared 10 percent, while he hit the 40 percent mark among the wealthiest Hispanics. (The same pattern shows up in questions about economic policy, too.)
Instead, what seems to matter more than income is religiosity. Abramowitz's final chart shows huge disparities in the Romney vote between observant and non-observant whites, even while there's no variation between, say, the poor observant and the rich observant. (David Jarman)
• 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 week we have Nevada, North Dakota, and Virginia. There's a lot of interesting stuff here. For instance, in the Nevada Senate, Democrats are clinging to a one seat majority, and a single Democratic-leaning seat in the Las Vegas suburbs with a vulnerable incumbent looks very likely to determine control of the chamber. (Jeff Singer)