• NE-Sen: With just days to go before the GOP primary in Nebraska, things are getting very interesting. As David Jarman observed earlier this week, the two frontrunners (or at least, their allies) are now worried that after bashing each other silly, third wheel Sid Dinsdale could slip through as an unsullied alternative. First it was the Madison Project, attacking Dinsdale as a "liberal" in a radio, and now it's the Club for Growth, with a "six-figure" TV ad making very similar claims (Dinsdale donates to Democrats and would hike the debt ceiling).
Both Madison and the Club are backing Midland University President Ben Sasse, who's been locked in deadly combat with former state Treasurer Shane Osborn. We haven't seen any recent polling, so it's hard to know exactly what things look like. But undoubtedly these outside groups have their own data, and they wouldn't be hammering Dinsdale (a wealthy banker who's pumped $1 million into his own campaign) if they didn't see him surging.
And here's further confirmation of burgeoning Dinsdalemania: The 60 Plus Association, which recently jumped into the fray with an ad assaulting Osborn, is now going after El Sid, too. This ad features a quote referenced by the Club, with Dinsdale saying on camera, "I would always vote to raise the debt limit." While the notion that we should actually pay our debt obligations is refreshingly sane, how was Dinsdale not aware that this kind of sanity has no place in a GOP primary?
Dinsdale, meanwhile, is firing back with an ad of his own. You can tell he's not a natural politician, given his stiff delivery, but the meat of the ad is delivered by a narrator, who declares: "Desperate Washington special interests are spending dark money falsely attacking Sid Dinsdale and his family, telling you who to vote for." I don't know if I've ever actually heard the phrase "dark money" referenced in a campaign idea, but it's a pretty evocative phrase when used this way! But in any event, keep an eye out for a possible upset on Tuesday.
• AR-Sen: We have a couple of new ads in Arkansas, and possibly more on the way. GOP Rep. Tom Cotton offers another light-hearted spot, this time featuring his father, who takes turns dispensing some bits of wisdom with his son. Meanwhile, the Government Integrity Fund's ad displays a bunch of photos of Cotton in military gear and praises him for his service to our country. The pro-Democratic Senate Majority PAC is also spending another $450,000 on the race, but it's not clear whether that's for new advertising or a re-up of existing material.
• GA-Sen: Former Secretary of State Karen Handel has released a new internal from Rosetta Stone Communications showing her neck-and-neck with businessman David Perdue in the fast-approaching GOP primary for Senate. Perdue leads with 23 percent while Handel takes 21. The three congressmen in the race all trail: Jack Kingston is at 15, and Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey bring up the rear with 9 apiece. Twenty percent are still undecided, which matches the HuffPo Pollster average, and with the primary in two weeks, it's still a wide-open affair.
And Gingrey, who has trailed for a long time, is still trying to claw his way back into contention. In a new TV ad, he reiterates an old pledge, promising to repeal Obamacare in his first term "or get out of the way."
• KY-Sen: Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is going on the air with her first ad of the campaign, backed by a reported "six-figure" buy. In the spot, Lynn Dickey, the mother of a veteran, explains, "I almost lost my son in Iraq, but what upset him most was his ballot being lost in battle." Dickey praises Grimes for her leadership as secretary of state in bringing "Democrats and Republicans together to pass a law ensuring every military vote would be counted." (The law in question allows overseas troops to receive ballots online.)
It seems like smart messaging all around, both because Grimes can actually take some credit for changing the law, and because it focuses on the kind of positive, non-partisan themes (voting and the military) she'll need to make the most of in a state like Kentucky.
• LA-Sen: A new poll for Southern Media Opinion Research brings bad news for Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu. In a jungle primary scenario, she takes 36 percent while her leading GOP opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy, is at 35. The problem is that Air Force vet Rob Maness and state Rep. Paul Hollis take 7 and 4 percent respectively, and both of them are Republicans, too. SMOR didn't test a runoff between Cassidy and Landrieu, but if you add up all the GOP votes, that get you to a 46-36 Republican lead.
Last November, Landrieu led Cassidy 41-34, with Maness at 10 (Hollis hadn't yet entered), for an overall 44-41 GOP edge—not great, but better. And unlike fellow Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor in neighboring Arkansas, who has seen his numbers rebound of late, Landrieu hasn't recovered since her post-Obamacare swoon. Not long ago, she seemed like a better bet to hang on that Pryor, but it's very possible their positions have flipped.
And though we're a long way out from the election, the tea partying Maness is trying to boost his profile with a new TV ad (his first). It's actually a decently memorable spot, with Maness explaining: "Here in Louisiana, ya learn to be tough. One moment of weakness, and the alligators can eat you alive." Not only is there plenty of gator footage, but at the end, Maness rolls out on to the bayou himself in a fanboat before taking one of the reptiles into his bare hands and wrapping up its jaws! (As a city boy, this impresses me.) Maness declares he'll "stand up to the career politicians—and the alligators."
• MT-Sen: In another new ad, GOP Rep. Steve Daines simply charges that Democratic Sen. John Walsh (and, interestingly, ex-Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger, who is also running in the primary) "support Obamacare."
• OR-Sen: It seems like physician Monica Wehby is already taking the GOP primary for granted. In her latest ad, she attacks Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley as a "career politician" who helped "create a $17 billion deficit," and "refuse[s] to admit Obamacare is a disaster." (Nevermind that Merkley has served in D.C. for less than a term.) As Republican primaries go, these are pretty mild messages that sound much more oriented toward the general election. But Wehby still has to get past state Rep. Jason Conger on May 20.
• AZ-Gov: State Treasurer Doug Ducey may have once imagined he was the frontrunner for the GOP nomination to replace outgoing Gov. Jan Brewer, but that has not turned out to be the case. The Arizona Republic managed to get a whole bunch of gubernatorial campaigns to share snippets of their internal polling data, which they were probably willing to do because it all shows Ducey at the back of a wide-open field. Indeed, Ducey doesn't deny this, and acknowledges that's why he recently went on the air with his first TV ad (featuring a dully delivered speech railing against Obama).
• NM-Gov: Businessman Alan Webber is now the second Democrat on the air in New Mexico, but unlike businessman Lawrence Rael, he's not playing nice. As a helicopter descends on a landing pad, Webber directly takes on GOP Gov. Susana Martinez, saying: "The Koch brothers choppered into New Mexico just like this. Out of state billionaires looking to spread their radical agenda here. Susana Martinez may take orders from them. I never will."
Martinez also has a new spot of her own, in which she says she sold the state's "luxury jet" and put the money toward buying "every first grader with a summer reading book of their very own."
• OH-Gov: The RGA is expanding into their fourth state of the cycle with a positive ad touting GOP Gov. John Kasich of Ohio. The spot rattles off a billion statistics to show how bad the state's economy was four years ago, and then a billion more to show what a great job Kasich has supposedly done fixing things. The RGA is refusing to disclose the size of the buy.
• OR-Gov: A new poll from DHM Research, a respected non-partisan firm based in the Pacific Northwest, finds Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber leading his likely Republican opponent, state Rep. Dennis Richardson, 48-36. That's a far cry from the 44-44 tie Mary Cheney's new outfit, Vox Populi, produced the other week, though DHM does say that Kitzhaber has only a 35-49 re-elect score. It's a testament both to Oregon's blueward trend as well as the GOP's unpopularity that Kitz retains a 12-point lead in spite of those re-elect numbers.
As for the Senate race, for some reason, DHM didn't test any horserace matchups. They do find Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley with a positive 42-20 job approval rating, though.
• ID-02: Defending Main Street, the super PAC run by ex-Rep. Steve LaTourette, is running an ad on behalf of GOP Rep. Mike Simpson, saying he wants "tax cuts that lower energy costs, and reduce our dependence on oil from hostile nations."
• MI-03: Politico offers a run-down of just how intensely the Republican establishment is trying to get rid of glibertarian Rep. Justin Amash in this summer's GOP primary, including a catalog of members of Congress who've decided to target one of their own. Retiring Rep. Mike Rogers, for instance, cut a $5,000 check to Amash's opponent, businessman Brian Ellis, a rather remarkable move for a fellow Michigan Republican. Other members of the state's delegation are staying neutral, but California Rep. Devin Nunes has gone one step further than Rogers: He not only donated to Ellis, he also called Amash "Al Qaeda's best friend in the Congress." Wow.
• NY-11: Almost from the moment I first learned of Mike Grimm's candidacy for Congress way back in 2009, I've wondered about one thing: Why on earth did he ever leave the FBI? Now, thanks to new revelations from veteran law enforcement reporter Murray Weiss, we know that the recently indicted congressman can't ever go back:
Federal security personnel at the FBI's headquarters in Lower Manhattan and a satellite office in Kew Gardens, Queens, posted Grimm's photo inside their glass-enclosed stations in the event he showed up, sources said.Wow! So what's the backstory here? Before he ran for the House, Grimm was a former FBI field agent and had done some serious undercover work, even penetrating the Gambino mafia family to gather evidence against Peter Gotti, brother of notorious mobster John Gotti. But then, in 2006, apparently at peak of health and only in his mid-30s, Grimm left. Who does such a thing?
They were under orders to stop him and to immediately notify higher authorities on what further action to take, according to the sources.
"He is not permitted in our space," one source told "On The Inside."
"He is not welcome," a former top FBI official said.
It's exceptionally difficult to become an FBI agent in the first place, and the sort of people who pursue that kind of career tend to be very dedicated to it and don't abandon it readily. What's more, it takes 20 years of service to earn a pension, but Grimm washed out less than halfway to that goal. The only public explanation he ever offered was that he was "tired of the long hours."
That never added up, though, and the persistent stories about Grimm's hot-headed and ethically questionable ways made you wonder what the rest of the story was. So what exactly did Grimm do to earn his spot on the bureau's wall of shame? Weiss offers some tantalizing details:
Sources said Grimm, 44, was under internal scrutiny before he quit over allegations that he told a woman he met during a probe that he worked undercover—a violation of FBI protocol.Filing questionable paperwork related to business expenses? Where have we heard that before? Oh yeah—Grimm's 20-count indictment for tax evasion and wire fraud. How fitting that this pattern should repeat itself. If Grimm gets convicted on these charges, though, there's at least one silver lining: The FBI will finally be able to take down his photo, because hey, it's not like he'll be able to pay them a visit any time soon.
The FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility was also questioning so-called "voucher" expenses he submitted in connection with his undercover roles.
The sources believe the pressure of the inquiry played a role in his decision to exit the FBI—an agency he often professed to love, his colleagues noted—without getting a pension because he didn't serve 20 years.
• NY-13: Here's a big get for state Sen. Adriano Espaillat: The United Federation of Teachers, one of the four largest and most powerful unions in New York City, has voted to endorse Espaillat in his bid to unseat Rep. Charlie Rangel in the Democratic primary next month. What makes this move especially noteworthy is that the UFT supported Rangel in 2012, when he only narrowly beat back a challenge by Espaillat. But this time, much of the political establishment has sided with Espaillat, making Rangel look more vulnerable than ever.
• PA-13: As the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania's open 13th District enters the homestretch, the negative ads keep piling up. State Sen. Daylin Leach has a new spot in which he's critical of all three of his opponents, though the spot isn't available online. According to Roll Call, though, Leach hits state Rep. Brendan Boyle for "oppos[ing] a woman's right to choose" and ex-Rep. Marjorie Margolies as someone who "would cut Social Security benefits"—both familiar lines of attack.
Regarding physician Valerie Arkoosh, though, Leach tries something new, saying she's "massively funded by groups that fought Obamacare." That's a reference to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, which has spent over $200,000 on radio ads on Arkoosh's behalf and did indeed oppose the Affordable Care Act. Of course, the ASA is supporting Arkoosh because she herself is an obstetric anesthesiologist, and probably not for anything having to do with her views on the ACA (she supports the law), but this is how politics works.
Meanwhile, EMILY's List and NARAL are teaming up to also go after Boyle, apparently the first time the two organizations have ever worked together, surprisingly enough. They say they're spending six figures on mailers and online ads slamming Boyle on reproductive health rights. In an unusual move, the groups have posted copies of both the lit and the ads online.
• WV-03: Don't look now, but here's another poll showing Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall with a pretty healthy lead. A survey from Democratic pollster DFM Research, on behalf of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers union (aka SMART) finds Rahall beating Republican state Sen. Evan Jenkins by a 48-39 spread. That's not too different from the 52-40 edge Rahall had in a recent Garin-Hart-Yang poll for the House Majority PAC.
And DFM's numbers definitely don't skew toward the Democrats. Barack Obama sports an extraordinarily abysmal 24-71 favorability score, perhaps the first time we've ever seen his negatives dip into the seventies. And in the Senate race, Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito beats Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant 46-36, which is certainly not good news for Tennant. But if Rahall can prevail despite these headwinds, that really says something.