• NY State Senate: Former New York City Councilman Oliver Koppell, who had been considering a primary challenge to turncoat Democratic state Sen. Jeff Klein for some time, made his bid official on Monday. Klein is the leader of a pack of renegade Democrats, known as the Independent Democratic Conference, that caucuses with the GOP, giving Republicans control of the state Senate even though they're in the minority. Klein's naked power-grab has thwarted a whole host of progressive legislation, such as the state-level DREAM Act, motivating the 73-year-old Koppell to ride out one final time on behalf of his party.
Koppell has a very tough race ahead of him, since Klein is a tremendous fundraiser and already has over $1.5 million in the bank. But Koppell can certainly win the September primary, and what's more, he'll pin down Klein, who is sure to prioritize saving his own neck ahead of the rest of the IDC. That'll make it easier for mainstream Democrats to go after other members of the IDC, such as state Sen. Tony Avella, who could receive a challenge from former New York City Comptroller John Liu. But no matter what else unfolds, the fight for the soul of the New York Democratic Party is officially on.
• AK-Sen: Former Alaska natural resources commissioner Dan Sullivan has released an internal poll from Moore Information showing him with a 38-22 lead on Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell in the GOP primary, with tea partier Joe Miller well behind at 12. Sullivan says that earlier this year, Treadwell actually had a 29-27 edge, with Miller at 17, so presumably he's sharing these numbers in an attempt to show that Democratic attack ads haven't held him back. The poll also finds Sullivan narrowly trailing Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, 44-42, though if I'm Begich, I'd be pretty happy to be up 2 in a GOP survey.
• GA-Sen: In her newest ad, Democrat Michelle Nunn reminisces about her grandmother, whom she calls "Mama," with the accent on the second syllable. Nunn recalls going to church every Sunday with her grandmother, calling her a "person of great love" who "made me a better person." I feel exactly the same way about my grandmother (and we, too, went to services together every Saturday).
• IA-Sen: There's no nut-cutting this time in GOP state Sen. Joni Ernst's latest ad, but she does roll up on a hog, albeit of the motor vehicle variety. As an announcer explains that Ernst's "not your typical candidate," Ernst heads into a shooting range where she repeatedly fires a pistol at a bullseye that's supposed to stand in for Obamacare. Considering other Republicans have shredded actual copies of the Affordable Care Act with much more powerful weaponry, this is weak, derivative stuff—or maybe this is what passes for "moderate" in the GOP these days.
• NC-Sen: Is it possible that tea partying physician Greg Brannon has squeezed out a final surge at just the right moment? PPP's final-weekend poll of Tuesday's GOP primary in North Carolina finds state House Speaker Thom Tillis leading Brannon 40-28, putting Tillis just at the 40 percent mark he needs to avoid a runoff. But just a week ago, Tillis was up 46-20, suggesting he's slid backward while Brannon has moved upward.
It's almost as if Tillis expected this, because despite some strong recent poll numbers, he moved even further to the right and went on the attack. Yet it may not have been enough. And if Brannon can somehow keep Tillis on the short side of 40, then the second round could be bonkers. Tillis would begin a two-man race with just a 46-40 edge, whereas last week, he held a much healthier 50-32 advantage. It could, of course, all be too little, too late. But you know Kay Hagan and North Carolina Democrats will be glued to the returns as they come in on Tuesday night—as will we, of course.
And Hagan herself may be partly responsible for Tillis' apparent late slide. Her campaign kept its ratfucking under the radar, sending out mailers featuring a quote from Tillis saying Obamacare is "a great idea." Tillis complained that his remarks were taken out of context, but his full statement was that the Affordable Care Act is "great idea that can't be paid for," which, in the context of the GOP primary, is hardly better.
• NE-Sen: We'd always known that banker Sid Dinsdale was extremely wealthy (worth hundreds of millions, in fact), but he'd been curiously reluctant to spend any of that money on the GOP primary, until now. Dinsdale just dropped $925,000 into his own coffers, but he has just one week until Election Day, and he's generally trailed the frontrunners, Shane Osborn and Ben Sasse, by wide margins. However, Sasse and Osborn have been beating each other to a pulp lately, so perhaps Dinsdale is hoping he can emerge as an unscathed, last-minute alternative.
• IA-Gov: After a spate of surprisingly weak polling for GOP Gov. Terry Branstad, Republicans now have some more optimistic numbers from Victory Enterprises showing the incumbent up 48-33 on Democratic state Sen. Jack Hatch. The survey was conducted in-house by Victory (that is, not for any client), though they're a Republican firm and their CEO is a former state GOP chair.
• ME-Gov: A PAC supporting independent Eliot Cutler called the Campaign for Maine will be going on the air with the first ad of the race, a biographical spot that's not available yet. The buy is for $125,000 and is designed to lift Cutler out of his third-place doldrums, where he lags far behind Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud and GOP Gov. Paul LePage.
• NE-Gov: In a confusing ad, Republican Attorney General Jon Bruning chastises businessman Pete Ricketts for wanting "to put violent criminals back on the street." The narrator cites the case of an "actual inmate serving time for drug possession" and claims Ricketts says the man "shouldn't be in prison for non-violent crimes." But here's the "gotcha": This prisoner supposedly has earlier convictions for violent acts. I'm gonna guess, though, that Ricketts would say someone with a rap sheet like this should not receive clemency, so this is a very dumb hypothetical.
• NM-Gov: A strange move. Just a few weeks after PPP released polling showing GOP Gov. Susana Martinez up just 47-42 on her closest opponent, Martinez responded with her own internal ... that doesn't even include any head-to-heads! Public Opinion Strategies purports to have her at a gaudy 62 job approval rating, considerably better than PPP's 52-40 score, which makes the absence of actual horserace numbers even more striking. Could Martinez wind up joining the ranks of weak GOP governors who face unexpectedly strong challenges this year?
• PA-Gov: I'm not sure how Democrat Katie McGinty still has any money left to produce any new ads, but here's one more, which tries to cram in every single possible biographical detail and political priority into 30 seconds.
• WV-Gov, -Sen: Democrat Joe Manchin, who used to serve as West Virginia's governor before he was elected to the Senate in 2010, says he might consider seeking his old job in 2016, when his successor, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, is term-limited. Manchin would have a strong shot at reclaiming the governorship, but it would be hard for Democrats to retain his Senate seat in 2018. However, if Manchin became governor again, he or Tomblin (also a Democrat) would have the chance to appoint a replacement, who might then have a bit of a leg up two years later.
• AR-02, -04: Talk Business and Hendrix College have GOP primary polls for Arkansas' open 2nd and 4th Congressional Districts, where Election Day is just a couple of weeks off. Both races, though, look like washouts. In the 2nd, well-funded banker French Hill leads Iraq vet Conrad Reynolds 59-14, with state Rep. Ann Clemmer at 7; the winner will take on former North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays. In the 4th, meanwhile, state House Majority Leader Bruce Westerman is far ahead of attorney Tommy Moll, 47-10, and would face former Clinton-era FEMA director James Lee Witt if successful.
• CA-31: Democrat Pete Aguilar is running his second ad, this time featuring endorsements from various union officials and teachers, as well as a mention of Sen. Dianne Feinstein's endorsement, too. (She doesn't appear on camera, though.)
• GA-12: Heh. Republican state Rep. Delvis Dutton got a small chuckle out of me in this new 15-second spot, in which he says: "The other guys are running for Congress. But me? I'm running against Congress." A wry announcer repeats this as a tag-line at the end: "Delvis Dutton. Against Congress."
• NY-11: Another potential domino in the Mike Grimm case: On Monday, prosecutors indicted Diana Durand, the Republican congressman's ex-girlfriend, charging her with violating federal campaign finance laws for allegedly reimbursing three straw donors who gave money to Grimm. Durand's attorney offered an interesting defense, saying: "My client is not a sophisticated woman."
• OH-14: Democratic attorney Michael Wager is following the Claire McCaskill playbook to a T, running a TV ad "attacking" GOP state Rep. Matt Lynch as "one of the most conservative members of the entire Ohio legislature" who is "too extreme for Ohio." In theory, convincing GOP primary voters that libruhls are out to get Lynch is savvy move, since he's challenging freshman Rep. Dave Joyce and would prove a much easier opponent in November. But the primary is Tuesday, and Wager isn't commenting on the size of the buy, so it's hard to see this move working. Still, he gets credit for trying, since all too often, campaigns are reluctant to ratfuck.
• PA-08: Businesswoman Shaughnessy Naughton is now on the air, joining her Democratic primary opponent, Iraq vet Kevin Strouse. Naughton says she's "born and raised in Bucks County" and says that when her family's business (a small publishing company) was "in trouble," she "put [her] career as a scientist on hold and stepped in to turn things around," even though it's "at times required a sacrifice."
• PA-13: It looks like we have the first Clinton Alert of the cycle—Hillary Clinton, that is. The former first lady, senator, and secretary of state will reportedly headline a fundraiser on May 15 for the machatunim. That's Yiddish for a word we don't have in English: the parents of your kid's spouse, or in this case, ex-Rep. Marjorie Margolies, whose son Marc is married to Chelsea Clinton. Amusingly, the event is being hosted by crazynuts uber-PUMA Lynn Forester de Rothschild.
• WV-03: Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall has another ad, pushing back against the "out-of-state billionaires" who "spend millions to lie about my record," (i.e., the Koch brothers). Rahall says he "voted against the cap-and-trade bill" and "took on the EPA to save West Virginia jobs."
• Deaths: Former Minnesota Democratic Rep. Jim Oberstar died on Friday at the age of 79. Oberstar was a "Watergate baby" who first won his seat in 1974. He handily prevailed in every election he subsequently ran in, until his shocking defeat in the GOP wave of 2010, when he lost to Republican Chip Cravaack.
All of Florida's House members are seeking another term and none of them have anything more than token primary opposition. This includes FL-19's Curt Clawson, who recently won the GOP nomination in a special election. Clawson is heavily favored to take this seat in the June 24 general, and he faces no primary opposition as he bids for a full term.
There are a few primaries worth watching. In the 18th District, six Republicans are competing to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy. The district backed Romney 52-48 and Murphy only won his first term narrowly, but it looks like national Republicans failed to recruit anyone formidable. All the Republicans have raised very little money. Only former state Rep. Carl Domino has any real funds at his disposal. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as Lean Democratic.
In the 26th District, five Republicans are running against freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia. The most well-known candidate is former Rep. David Rivera, whom Garcia beat 54-43 in 2012. Rivera is currently under federal investigation and Garcia would doubtlessly love to face him again. Unfortunately, Team Red has a better candidate to choose from in the form of Miami-Dade School Board Member Carlos Curbelo. Also in the race are Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall; former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Joe Martinez; and lawyer Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck (apparently the NRCC was unable to recruit Boomer or Apollo). We rate the general as a Tossup.
Most of the state's other House members have little to worry about in November. One exception is 2nd District GOP Rep. Steve Southerland, who faces a well-funded challenge from Democrat Gwen Graham. We rate this as Lean Republican. In the 13th District, Republican Rep. David Jolly faces veteran Ed Jany. National Democrats are backing Jany, a former Republican. However, because state law prohibits recent party switchers from running on their new party's ballot line for a year, Jany is seeking the seat as an independent. We currently have this race as Lean Republican, but we're reviewing the rating. (Jeff Singer)
• Primaries: Tuesday marks the beginning of six straight weeks of primary elections with voters in Indiana, North Carolina, and Ohio all going to the polls. We have our preview of what to watch as results come in Tuesday night. For a look at which states are on the horizon, please check out our calendar here. (Jeff Singer)