• NH-Gov: Carpetbaggers are frequently tripped up by a very simple mistake: They swear up-and-down that they're really, truly a resident of the state they're running in, but often, they've accepted tax credits in their real home state that are only available to people who declare that state as their primary residence. Republican businessman Walt Havenstein, who's running for governor in New Hampshire, found himself in precisely these crosshairs earlier this year when Democrats challenged his eligibility to run in the Granite State on account of the tax breaks he'd accepted as a Maryland homeowner.
Election officials ultimately ruled that Havenstein could stay on the ballot, saying he did in fact qualify as a New Hampshirite. But that just inverted his problem, because now the state of Maryland wants Havenstein to repay the $9,000 in tax credits they gave him because, after all, he successfully argued that he was a resident of another state!
It's a particularly stupid blunder by Havenstein, because he should have seen this coming and just settled up his tax bill with Maryland before the media could make it an issue. It also gives his chief rival for the GOP nomination, conservative activist Andrew Hemingway, a nice way to hammer him just a few weeks ahead of the Sept. 9 primary. In fact, while Havenstein is the undisputed establishment choice to take on Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, Hemingway definitely has greater appeal to the base and could be a real threat, particularly with Havenstein's tax and residency issues once again coming to the fore.
Hemingway is almost penniless, though, with just $38,000 in the bank, according to newly filed fundraising reports. Havenstein, by contrast, has $1.3 million on hand, but that's only because he's loaned himself almost $1.5 million, compared to $515,000 he raised from actual people and organizations. Hassan, meanwhile, set a state record by raising $2.1 million to date, and she still has $1.2 million in the bank.
• AR-Sen, Gov: The Arkansas Democratic Party has leaked the results of a new poll from Opinion Research Associates that, as you'd expect, has Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor out in front. Pryor has a 46-41 lead on Republican Rep. Tom Cotton, but that's actually a decline from an earlier ORA poll back in April (for a different client) that had Pryor up 48-38. It's also more optimistic than most recent polling: PPP and Hendrix College both put Cotton up 2, while even the DSCC's own survey from Anzalone had Pryor ahead just 2.
The poll also had numbers on the gubernatorial race, finding a 44-44 tie between Democrat Mike Ross and Republican Asa Hutchinson. This is the first time a poll has not found Ross trailing since April, when none other than ORA had him up 45-39.
• AZ-Gov: One more poll, this time from Harper Polling for Republican consulting firm DC London, finds state Treasurer Doug Ducey on track to win next week's GOP primary. Ducey leads former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith 32-19, very similar to the advantage he's had in other surveys. Unless all the recent polling's wrong, Ducey should have this one. But then again, all the recent polling has exclusively come from Republican pollsters, so don't rule anything out!
Meanwhile, Democrat Fred DuVal, who's had his party's nomination to himself pretty much right from the start, is waiting in the wings—and he says that the RGA is ready to pounce with a $500,000 ad buy right after the primary's over. This hasn't been confirmed elsewhere yet, but there's no reason to disbelieve DuVal, and if the RGA does jump in, they'll likely go negative right away.
• OR-Gov: Aside from a couple of odd Republican polls back in April, Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber's held double-digit leads over his underfunded Republican challenger, state Rep. Dennis Richardson, in every single poll of Oregon's gubernatorial race. So that's good reason to be skeptical of an OnMessage survey the RGA touting that has Kitz up just 42-38.
Here's the biggest warning sign: The poll is from all the way back in June, which almost certainly means these are some rosy numbers that someone is dusting off to try to convince donors that Richardson has a shot. So even if this poll was on the mark back then, why would you trust it over more recent data? Also bear in mind that OnMessage's 2012 polls were all biased in the Republican direction, and two of their three late public polls missed by nearly 20 points apiece. Once again, beware of Republicans bearing polls.
• RI-Gov: Labor unions have generally been supportive of Providence Mayor Angel Taveras' bid for governor, since Treasurer Gina Raimondo is seen as cozy with Wall Street and attorney Clay Pell is mostly an unknown. But they haven't really come out big for him, and with Taveras sliding in the polls with just a couple of weeks to go before the Democratic primary, AFSCME's new $100,000 independent expenditure (likely on mailers) probably is not enough to turn the tide, unless there's more where that came from.
A group of unions, including the state's largest, is, however, pledging a mobilization effort on Taveras' behalf, and in a low-turnout primary, that could make a big difference. But some labor organizations have backed Raimondo (mostly the building trades, which lean conservative), and the local National Education Association has endorsed Pell, so Taveras does not have unanimous labor support locked up.
• AR-04: Blargh. A new internal poll for Republican Bruce Westerman finds him with a hefty 47-29 lead on Democrat James Lee Witt in Arkansas' open 4th District, a longshot seat Democrats were hoping would be competitive thanks to the quality of their candidate. It doesn't look like it's turning out that way, though. Westerman's survey is from OnMessage, a firm we've criticized before (including today, in our OR-Gov item above), but their numbers are very similar to those Hendrix College put out last month that had Westerman ahead 48-34.
• CA-52: Maybe it's true that the media is wrongly portraying Republican Carl DeMaio as a "moderate" because he's gay and says he's pro-choice, but it probably wasn't wise for Democratic Rep. Scott Peters to vent his frustrations on that topic at a recent meeting of a local Democratic club:
He's gotten stories in The Wall Street Journal, he's gotten stories in the National Journal, all puff pieces about how this great, new, moderate, gay Republican is coming out and running for office. And they're very psyched about it. And the Republicans in D.C., they love this.Now, maybe this was Peters' way of injecting a counter-meme into the narrative of the race, even if he takes a personal hit for it, sort of like how Mark Pryor got some brickbats for calling Tom Cotton "entitled" but ultimately may have made the charge stick. But if so, why bring Mia Love into this? It sounds more like Peters may have aired some private grievances publicly.
They think, 'Wow, this guy is gonna change our party' because all they need—they don't have any out, gay members of Congress, the Republicans don't. They also don't have any African Americans. They're gonna get one and Mia Love in Utah is just a real right-wing person.
• CO-06: Colorado's 6th Congressional District is home to one of the most hotly contested House battles in the country this year, and both sides also expected it to become a battleground over immigration. But as Politico's Jake Sherman explains, it just hasn't worked out that way. Republican Rep. Mike Coffman had been an anti-immigration zealot who's haltingly tried to reinvent himself after redistricting gave him a bluer seat, while Democrat Andrew Romanoff was potentially vulnerable to base-depressing attacks from the left over some tough immigration restrictions he passed in the legislature.
But while both candidates say that immigration is still important, internal polls show the issue is low on most voters' lists of priorities. Rather, jobs and economic issues seem to be dominant concerns, as they are in many other races—and so often are most of the time.
• IA-01: We have dueling internals in Iowa's open 1st Congressional District, but they do agree on one thing: Democrat Pat Murphy is in the lead. Murphy's own poll, from Myers Research, puts him up 51-40 on Republican Rod Blum, while Blum's survey, conducted by The Polling Company, had Murphy ahead by a narrower 40-35 margin.
Amusingly, Murphy actually released his poll first, which initially prompted the Blum campaign to respond by saying that "polls now are not a good indicator of November election results" (in the phrasing of the Des Moines Register). They'd probably like to take that one back now, though it's not as though their numbers are particularly optimistic, either.
• MA-06: Iraq vet Seth Moulton and his allies have been on the air for a few days, and it turns out they're spending quite a lot. Moulton, who is challenging Rep. John Tierney in the Sept. 9 Democratic primary, has put $450,000 behind a negative ad attacking Tierney, while VoteVets is shelling out another $400,000 on a positive spot. Moulton was also slated to be honored by the Red Sox at an event recognizing veterans on Thursday night, where he was to "be introduced to the Fenway Park crowd in the fourth inning while standing on the Sox dugout in full military uniform." Certainly some unusual timing, what with a major campaign underway and all.
• WV-02: A new internal poll from Public Opinion Strategies for Republican Alex Mooney and the NRCC finds Mooney leading Democrat Nick Casey 40-28 in West Virginia's open 2nd Congressional District, with left-leaning independent Ed Rabel taking 8 percent and Libertarian Davy Jones 5. Even though a lot of time has passed, those numbers are very similar to a Tarrance survey from May that had Mooney on top 43-31, with Rabel at 11 and Jones at 4.
Mooney has some deep flaws, not the least the fact that he recently carpetbagged into the state after quitting his job as the director of Maryland's Republican Party, and this is an ancestrally Democratic area. But Barack Obama is as unpopular as can be in this district, with a beyond-brutal 27-72 job approval rating according to POS, so Casey is very much swimming against the tide.
• AK Ballot: One very disappointing result from Tuesday night's primary in Alaska was the narrow defeat of Ballot Measure 1, which would have repealed legislation passed last year at the behest of Republican Gov. Sean Parnell that gave a big tax break to oil companies. But even though the energy industry fought against it fiercely, Measure 1 only failed by a 52-48 margin. (Some ballots remain outstanding, but not enough to affect the outcome.)
Unfortunately, the effort was probably undermined by the fact that the measure went before voters during a primary that only featured contested races on the GOP side, rather than a normal November election that would have had higher turnout. Nevertheless, for a red state that's ordinarily extremely friendly to extractive industries, the closeness of the contest seems like a positive sign for the future.
• NV-AG: Republican attorney general nominee Adam Laxalt is Team Red's standard bearer in what is (or at least was) expected to be a very expensive race. Republicans long hoped that Laxalt, the grandson of former Sen. Paul Laxalt, could put up a tough fight against Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller. Miller, who also comes from a prominent Nevada political family, is a likely candidate for governor in 2018, and Team Red hoped that Laxalt could stop this Democratic rising star early. Big Republican names like Dick Cheney and Newt Gingrich all supported Laxalt, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a $500,000 ad blitz against Miller in the spring with the promise of more to come, and the wealthy Sheldon Adelson bankrolled a "Stop Miller Now" campaign. There was just one problem with the Republican campaign: Laxalt himself.
On Wednesday Jon Ralston, the emperor of Nevada political reporting, released Laxalt's 2012 performance review from his law firm and words cannot do it justice. The entire document is just breathtaking in how scathing it is: Some quotes about Laxalt include, "He has horrible reviews," "He is a train wreck," and "He doesn't even have the basic skill set." As Ralston points out, four attorneys conducted this review, so it's very unlikely this was the work of one boss with an axe to grind. To make things even more embarrassing, Ralston has a copy of Laxalt's own self-evaluation and the candidate is completely clueless about his flaws.
Laxalt's camp is calling the performance review's authenticity into question but Ralston stands by it. Ralston is one of the best political journalists anywhere and if he's saying this is real, you better believe it's real. Laxalt had already been battling perceptions that he was unqualified for the job of attorney general and was only running on his last name: This is certainly not going to help things. Unless there's a massive surprise down the line, it looks like Team Red is going to need to wait until 2018 before they get to put up a real fight against Miller. (Jeff Singer)
• Fundraising: This is rare: The DNC actually outraised the RNC last month, something that seldom happens despite Democratic control of the White House. Democrats took in $9.3 million, compared to $8.4 million for Republicans, but the GOP has more cash-on-hand for the fall elections, $14 million versus $9.6 million.
Meanwhile, Nathan Gonzalez, moonlighting over at FiveThirtyEight, recently had a good piece emphasizing an important but under-appreciated point: It doesn't matter whether a challenger actually outraises an incumbent, but whether he or she can bring in enough money to be competitive. (Sean Trende previously made a similar argument with regard to House races.)
It turns out that over the last decade, the 17 candidates who successfully knocked off sitting senators raised an average of 79 percent of what their opponents did. This cycle, only two challengers have crossed that threshold (Alison Grimes in Kentucky and Bill Cassidy in Louisiana), but Tom Cotton in Arkansas and Dan Sullivan in Alaska are close, and Cory Gardner in Colorado entered the race late. Of course, 79 percent is no magic number—plenty of people have won raising less. But most of those victories took place in wave years, and at least so far, 2014 isn't shaping up that way.
• Polltopia: We're pleased to let you know that we've reconfigured and improved the interface of the Daily Kos Elections Poll Database, which you can check out right here. The default view still shows you every single poll for every single race dating back nearly a year—the only database we know of where you can see that much data all at once. But now you can use pull-down menus to drill down to specific races (here's AR-Sen), individual pollsters (everything from PPP, for instance), particular clients (how about American Crossroads?), or even methodologies (say, every Internet-only survey)—and much more. Go ahead, give it a whirl!
Ads & Independent Expenditures (Jeff Singer):
• AK-Sen: Both candidates are out with a new spot. Democratic Sen. Mark Begich takes advantage of the heated Republican primary that ended Tuesday, using clips of defeated candidates Mead Treadwell and Joe Miller attacking the eventual nominee Dan Sullivan. Treadwell and Miller hit Sullivan for not remembering fishing licenses or taxes, having weak roots in Alaska, and for being close to out-of-state interests. Treadwell has a particularity devastating line: "If you're gonna represent Alaska, it helps to know Alaska." Ouch.
Sullivan goes positive, promoting the Alaska spirit as he runs through some very picturesque outdoors. Crossroads GPS also chimes in, accusing Begich of not paying his female staffers as much as his male staffers.
• GA-Sen: EMILY's List is spending $1 million on a new spot for Democrat Michelle Nunn. The ad is not online yet, but it will focus on a gender discrimination lawsuit against Republican David Perdue when he was CEO of Dollar General. The DSCC also chips in another $298,000.
• LA-Sen: The DSCC spends a whooping $2.5 million accusing Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy voting against veteran's interests, while voting to cut taxes for the wealthy. Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu features an electrician criticizing Cassidy for raising the retirement age while voting to cut his own taxes.
• AR-Gov: Republican Asa Hutchinson responds to a recent Democrat spot accusing him of illegally taking out a tax break on his home. The narrator says Hutchinson made a mistake and reported it, and fuck Barack Obama (he may not have used those exact words).
• AZ-Gov: Better Leaders for Arizona, a PAC backing corporate attorney Christine Jones, accuses Republican primary rival Treasurer Doug Ducey of hiding his failures as the former head of Cold Stone Creamery. Jones also has another spot touting her business background, as really repetitive music plays.