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Leading Off:

MS-Sen: A last-minute poll of Tuesday's GOP primary, from unaligned Democratic pollster Chism Strategies, finds Sen. Thad Cochran with a narrow 46-44 lead over challenger Chris McDaniel, similar to what other recent surveys have shown. Cochran has the slimmest of edges in the HuffPo Pollster averages, too. Looks like this one is anybody's race, though we'll finally have some answers tonight.

Unless, of course, we head to a runoff, which would be held very quickly, on June 24. If you're wondering how such a short turnaround time is compatible with federal laws that mandate enough time for overseas voters to receive and return ballots, here's something fascinating: Mississippi, along with Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and South Carolina, will use ranked-choice voting for everyone casting votes from abroad. Rob Richie of FairVote explains the process clearly:

Voters are sent two ballots before the election. On the first ballot, they indicate a single choice. This ballot is counted in the first round. On the second ballot, they rank candidates in order of preference. In the event of a runoff, the second ballot is examined, and each ranked choice ballot is added to the totals of the top-ranked candidate who has advanced to the runoff.
Several states have actually been using the system for some time, and one big advantage is that runoff turnout is much higher among overseas voters. Indeed, everyone should be given the option of voting this way.

Meanwhile, the guy most keenly waiting on the results is Democratic ex-Rep. Travis Childers, who, if he's to have any chance at all, needs McDaniel to win. Politico's Alexander Burns catches up with Childers to see where he stands ideologically these days, and he hasn't changed much since losing his bid for re-election in 2010. Childers voted against the ACA but doesn't support trying to repeal it, however, and he does say he regrets opposing the auto bailout.

Though if you've been trying to mentally model the Mississippi primary election on Tuesday, it's hard to find a template: There hasn't been a closely-fought Republican statewide primary in many years, and the candidates don't have especially strong regional identities. McDaniel represents Jones County in the state's rural southern part, but it has only around 50,000 constituents, while Thad Cochran represented a Jackson-centered House district ... all the way back in the 1970s.

Fortunately, there are a couple of new articles that explain Cochran's particular strengths in the state's agricultural flatlands in the Delta region. And if he wins, it's going to be by running up the score here among the area's few Republicans (the Delta counties are majority African-American), while holding down his losses in the more populist-minded parts of the state.

Stu Rothenberg talks to some of Cochran's Delta-area supporters, who like his long track record as an appropriator, while Nate Cohn locates the story in its historical context, where the South has been characterized by centuries of political tension between the establishment politics of the lowland gentry and the rabble-rousing of the hill-dwellers.

To see the explanation for that difference expanded from one sentence out to over 900 pages, Albion's Seed by David Hackett Fischer is strongly recommended reading. Part of this historical tension is economic, based on the different needs of plantation owners versus small farmers, but much of it is due to cultural and temperamental differences going back to Cavaliers and Borderers many centuries ago in England. (David Nir & David Jarman)


IA-Sen: A final poll from Selzer gives state Sen. Joni Ernst a 34-18 lead over businessman Mark Jacobs in Tuesday's GOP primary, identical to the numbers PPP saw a couple of weeks ago and very similar to the overall polling average. As long as Ernst clears 35 percent, she can avoid having the nomination thrown to a convention and proceed immediately toward taking on Rep. Bruce Braley in the general election.

KS-Sen: State Sen. Dennis Pyle, who offered himself up as a more electable "true conservative" alternative to physician Milton Wolf, has decided not to challenge Sen. Pat Roberts in the Republican primary after all. That leaves Wolf in a one-on-one race against the incumbent, though he hasn't gotten much outside help and polls haven't offered much cause for hope.

MN-Sen, -Gov: Both major parties in Minnesota regularly short-circuit democracy by having a handful of activists decide nominations at conventions, and the GOP did just that over the weekend, tapping finance executive Mike McFadden as their Senate nominee. McFadden, who actually did not pledge to abide by the party's endorsement, beat out St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg after a lengthy floor fight. Both Dahlberg and state Sen. Julianne Ortman said they would not continue on to the primary, but state Rep. Jim Abeler says he might (though he has almost no money). So McFadden likely has a clear shot at Sen. Al Franken this fall.

Things did not, however, go quite so smoothly on the gubernatorial side. Former state Rep. Marty Seifert unsuccessfully tried to block delegates from endorsing Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson (the name you know) and so will try to stop Johnson in the Aug. 12 primary instead. So will two other candidates who didn't participate in the convention at all, businessman Scott Honour and former state House Speaker Kurt Zellers. The four are vying to take on Gov. Mark Dayton in November.

NH-Sen: This sure is sketchy:

An obscure company in West Palm Beach that markets itself as a firearms manufacturer made a splashy announcement last summer: It was appointing Scott Brown, the former Massachusetts senator, to its advisory board.

Not revealed at the time was what Brown received in exchange for lending his name to the venture. But a report the company made to the Securities and Exchange Commission last month, which has not been previously made public, shows that Brown received stock that was worth $1.3 million at the time. Its value has declined considerably since then, as the stock price has fallen by half.

Global Digital Solutions Inc. does not yet sell or make guns. It has no revenue, no patents, no trademarks, no manufacturing facilities, and no experience developing weapons, according to its most recent corporate filings.

It was founded as a beauty supply company in New Jersey — selling hair spray, conditioners, and shampoos, before reinventing itself as a wireless data firm from California and then again last year as a South Florida-based firearms maker and gun technology innovator.

It is the kind of company, with scant assets and a shifting business model, that some financial professionals warn investors to steer away from.

GDSI is a penny stock, and its value dropped another 20 percent on Monday, likely due to this report. The Globe's story has much, much more.


CA-Gov: Ultraconservative Assemblyman Tim Donnelly has led fellow Republican Neel Kashkari, a former Treasury Department official, in every single public poll of California's top-two gubernatorial primary—until now. A final survey for USC and the LA Times, jointly conducted by Democratic pollster GQR and Republican pollster American Viewpoint, finds Kashkari beating out Donnelly 18 to 13. (Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown is, as per usual, far out in front with 50 percent.) While neither has a prayer in the general election, the GOP establishment would much prefer Kashkari win on Tuesday, since he'd been less of an anvil downticket than the extremophile Donnelly.

CO-Gov: Former Rep. Tom Tancredo has an new ad out ahead of the June 24 GOP primary. He rides a motorcycle as the narrator lays out his right-wing credentials and makes the dubious claim that the ultra-conservative Tancredo's "the one guy who can win over independents to take back the governor's office."

After spending the whole spot portraying Tancredo as a tough guy (though the soft guitar music undercuts this a bit), the ad ends with the candidate placing a motorcycle helmet on a kid's head (presumably a family member). The narrator beams, "What you don't know is he ain't all that tough" but doesn't elaborate further. Maybe this is supposed to be cute, but it just comes off as odd to me. (Jeff Singer)

ME-Gov: GOP Gov. Paul LePage actually outraised Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud in the month-plus pre-primary fundraising period, $180,000 to $152,000, but Michaud still has an edge in cash-on-hand, $864,000 to $758,000. The brightest news, though, may be the fact that independent Eliot Cutler only managed to raise $33,000 and has just $40,000 left after spending $1.25 million to date, far more than either Michaud or LePage.

NY-Gov, -LG: Despite losing the Working Families Party endorsement to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, law professor Zephyr Teachout says she's still thinking about challenging Cuomo in the Democratic primary and will decide some time over the next week. However, activist and fundraiser Bill Samuels, who'd been considering a bid for lieutenant governor against Cuomo's hand-picked choice, ex-Rep. Kathy Hochul, has now apparently declined to run.

Samuels may have left himself some wiggle room, though. Saying he expected the WFP to nominate Teachout, he's now "decided that if there isn't a candidate against Cuomo for me to run with, I will not run for LG." It's not entirely clear why his candidacy should depend on anyone else's, but seeing as Zephyr may yet run, perhaps he's leaving the door open for himself.

PA-Gov: Rasmussen: Tom Wolf (D): 51, Tom Corbett (R-inc): 31.

RI-Gov: Cranston Mayor Allan Fung tries to portray Republican primary rival Ken Block as a liberal in his new ad. The spot features Block "supporters" saying how their man backed Obama and Obamacare, wants new spending, and advised outgoing Democratic Gov. Lincoln Chafee. Each of these Block supporters has a cube for a head. Because they support Block and are thus blockheads. I'll give you a minute to recover from the fit of uncontrollable laughter you must be experiencing right now. (Jeff Singer)


CA-31: The DCCC had already been hitting Republican Lesli Gooch with mailers, in the hopes of ensuring she doesn't sneak through Tuesday's top-two primary, but at the last minute, they upgraded to some mass media as well. According to an independent expenditure report, the D-Trip spent $26,000 on an unspecified "media buy," which may have been for radio rather than TV, given the small size. (The spot's not available online.) They also forked out another $22,000 or so on more mail pieces.

VA-08: Former Lt. Gov. Don Beyer swamped the field in pre-primary fundraising, taking in $447,000 between April 1 and May 21, as well as loaning himself $200,000 to wind up with $351,000 in the bank. His nearest Democratic primary opponent was state Sen. Adam Ebbin, with $113,000 and $88,000 cash-on-hand. Radio host Mark Levine also loaned himself $150,000 but raised little on top of that.

WV-02: A Tarrance Group poll for Republican Alex Mooney and the NRCC finds Mooney leading Democrat Nick Casey 39-29 among likely voters, with Libertarian Davy Jones taking 3 and left-leaning Mountain Party candidate Ed Rabel at a surprisingly high 10 percent of the vote. However, it's very unlikely that Rabel, a former CBS News correspondent who's running to Casey's left, will hold on to such a sizable chunk of the electorate. But if he keeps eating into Casey's flank, that'll make it much harder for Democrats to pick up this seat.

Other Races:

NY State Senate: With Gov. Andrew Cuomo's pledge to help New York Democrats retake the state Senate in exchange for winning the Working Families Party's nomination, progressives are talking up some new potential challengers to the other three members of the renegade Independent Democratic Conference, Sens. Diane Savino, David Carlucci, and David Valesky. The Daily News' Ken Lovett has a rundown on all the names.

A separate report from Sally Goldberg at Capital New York says that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was supposedly instrumental in brokering a truce between the WFP and Cuomo, is also helping to recruit IDC challengers. And according to Goldberg, one of the targets is ... Jeff Klein, despite the fact that he already has an opponent in former New York City Councilman Oliver Koppell. If this story is accurate, though, then this presumably means that de Blasio & co. believe that the alternatives mentioned (City Councilman Andy Cohen; former deputy city comptroller Ari Hoffnung; and Randi Martos, chief of staff to Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz) would be stronger options.

However, the WFP has already taken preliminary steps to endorse Koppell (as well as John Liu, who is running against IDCer Tony Avella), though a formal nomination at the local level is still pending, and several key unions plan to stick with Klein. Still, if Koppell locks down the WFP's backing, that makes it unlikely progressives would go another route.

Grab Bag:

Ads: In the immortal words of Homer Simpson: "The commercial's on! If we don't watch these, it's like we're stealing TV."

AK-Sen: Put Alaska First spends $193,000 hitting Republican former Attorney General Dan Sullivan over fishing.

HI-Sen: Both Democratic candidates have new positive spots. Sen. Brian Schatz highlights renewable energy, while Rep. Colleen Hanabusa emphasizes protecting social security and Medicare.

MN-Sen: Democratic Sen. Al Franken highlights his legislation to hire more mental health professionals for schools.

MT-Sen: Republican Rep. Steve Daines is the latest Republican to emphasize the problems at the VA in a spot.

OK-Sen: Oklahomans for a Conservative Future contrasts former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon and his Republican primary opponent Rep. James Lankford. It calls Shannon "the most conservative speaker in Oklahoma history" while attacking Lankford for raising the debt ceiling and "voting for the Obama budget."

AR-Gov: The DGA goes after former Republican Rep. Asa Hutchinson on education, with some jabs at his past as a Virginia-based lobbyist thrown in.

FL-Gov: Rick Scott goes after former Gov. Charlie Crist on tuition costs.

NJ-03: Democratic Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard airs an introductory ad.

NY-01: American Action Network calls Republican George Demos' conservative bona fides into question by portraying him as someone who gladly takes money from liberal donors. The spot is part of a $225,000 buy.

(Jeff Singer)

California: Tuesday brings us our second-ever statewide top-two primary in California, where all the candidates run on one ballot and the two with the most votes advance to November. The primary is very important in winnowing (sometimes extremely) crowded races down to two candidates. However, as we explain in a new piece, the top-two does a poor job in predicting how each party will perform in November.

In 2012, the primary badly underestimated Democratic performances almost across the board, with Team Blue improving by as much as 34 points between June and November. The top-two is still new, though, and hasn't yet been tested in a midterm election. However, if 2012 is any guide, the June results will probably show us the bare minimum of support Democrats can expect in the general. That's good news for any Democrats at or close to 50 percent, but doesn't tell us much beyond that.

And with the primaries upon us, it's as good a time as any to look at how the state's voter registration patterns are changing, since state officials offer a comprehensive look at their registration records, one they just updated two weeks prior to Election Day.

One thing to notice is the relative shifts in party registration over the past two years by comparing the 2014 numbers by congressional district to the 2012 figures. Some competitive districts are getting a little more blue, most notably, the north Los Angeles County-based 25th District, where a 4 percent GOP lead in 2012 has dropped to a single point. But some have moved a shade to the right: Democratic freshman Raul Ruiz has seen his 36th District go from almost precisely even between Democrats and Republicans to a GOP edge of nearly 5,000 voters.

Another interesting item: Looking at the historical midterm data for voter registration just underscores what a monstrous registration spike Democrats enjoyed courtesy of the Obama-McCain election of 2008, and how that spike diminished, relatively speaking, with Obama's re-election campaign. After modest growth in registration in the prior eight years, there was a 1.3 million-voter spike between 2006-10. In the newest numbers, the increase was around 745,000, far less than between 2006-10, but still higher than previous cycles. The impact has also been partisan: What was an 8.3 percent statewide Democratic registration edge before the 2006 primaries is now a 15 percent advantage. (Jeff Singer & Steve Singiser)

Primaries: Tuesday brings us our biggest primary night of the cycle, and our biggest set of elections until November. With races in Alabama, California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota, there's a lot to watch, and we have our traditional primary preview for all eight states. We'll be liveblogging the results at Daily Kos Elections Tuesday night beginning at 8 PM ET when polls start to close. (Jeff Singer)

Senate Majority PAC: These people do not mess around. Senate Majority PAC hits Republican candidates in Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan, New Hampshire, and North Carolina (twice) in new spots.

Unlike many multi-state TV blitzes, SMP hasn't just made minor alterations to the same ad to fit different candidates: All the ads are unique and tailored to each race. For instance, the Colorado ad hits Rep. Cory Gardner on abortion and his past support for fetal personhood, while the two North Carolina ads attack state House Speaker Thom Tillis on education and taxes. (Jeff Singer)

Votes: The House voted 219-189 last week to prohibit DEA raids on medical marijuana operations in states that have legalized such activities. Passed by a coalition of Democrats and the furthest-to-the-right Republicans, it was one of those rare votes where liberal-vs.-conservative status had less to do with the result than representatives' establishment or anti-establishment orientation—something that hardcore devotees of the DW-Nominate vote-aggregation system know can appear along the mysterious "second dimension." The Vote View blog breaks down the vote, which counted unsavory characters like Paul Broun and Dana Rohrabacher among its backers. (David Jarman)

VRA: The Supreme Court just announced that it will hear a case brought by Alabama Democrats that argues Republican lawmakers impermissibly packed black voters into too few districts when they drew new legislative maps, diminishing minority voting strength in adjoining seats. A three-judge panel previously ruled 2-1 that the maps were proper. A win here for Democrats would likely require that legislators maintain majority-minority districts, but at lower concentrations of minority voters than before. However, given that the SCOTUS recently dismantled a key plank of the Voting Rights Act, pessimism is warranted.

Wyoming: Filing closed Friday in Wyoming for the state's August 19 primary. The state has a complete list of candidates here.

Republican Gov. Matt Mead is running for a second term and faces a primary challenge from Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill and physician Taylor Haynes. Mead starts out the clear favorite, and we rate the general election as Safe Republican. Republicans also have contested primaries for the open positions of secretary of state and state treasurer.

Both Sen. Mike Enzi and fellow Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis are running again. Enzi has had a clear path to reelection since primary challenger Liz Cheney dropped out in January, and none of his assorted Republican foes look like anything other than Some Dudes. We rate both seats as Safe Republican. (Jeff Singer)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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