• AR-Sen: The Gang of Five is back! A group called Conservative War Chest has a crazy two-minute spot tying Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor to this secret cabal. Among many other things, the narrator accuses Pryor of allowing the Gang of Five to persecute "scriptural Christians," "Catholic hospitals," and "Little Sisters of the Poor." It's basically every paranoid conservative theory about the Obama Administration this side of the birthers. And yes, it is airing on TV.
If the Gang of Five sounds familiar, a similar ad aired in the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial contest. The group may be hoping that this kind of spot will work better in a dark red state like Arkansas than a purple state like Virginia. Still, anyone who this kind of ad would appeal to is probably already going to vote for Republican Tom Cotton.
• AK-Sen: The contest between Democratic Sen. Mark Begich and Republican Dan Sullivan has always been negative, but on Friday things really got nasty. Begich aired a spot featuring retired Anchorage police officer Bob Glen: Glen accuses then state-Attorney General Sullivan of allowing a sex offender to be released from prison early after the state failed to identify a prior felony conviction. That criminal later allegedly murdered a couple and sexually abused the couple's infant granddaughter and her great-grandmother. While the criminal in question isn't named in the spot, Glen is referring to Jerry Active, who is currently awaiting trial. Glen also accuses Sullivan of allowing, "a lot of sex offenders get off with light sentences."
Sullivan's camp was almost certainly ready for this, since they immediately released their own spot where Sullivan accuses Begich of lying. Both campaigns released timelines to the media to back up their side of the story. Both acknowledge that the mistake that allowed Active to be released early happened before Sullivan took office. However, Begich argues that Sullivan's office made the ultimate plea agreement with Active: Begich's camp also includes a photo with Sullivan's name on that plea agreement.
The Bryon Collins, the attorney for the murdered couple has asked both campaigns to take down their spots, arguing that it could influence the jury. Sullivan has agreed to pull his ad, while Begich has altered his commercial to remove direct references to the case. Collins, is not satisfied with Begich's decision to edit the spot to remove all direct references to the case. In a letter to Begich, Collins called for the "removal of ALL ads and references to anything to do with the case." He also criticized Begich for running the original spot, writing, "You are tearing this family apart to the point that your ad was so shocking to them they now want to permanently leave the state as quickly as possible. Again, to be perfectly clear, it was your ad that shocked them."
Needless to say this is a very delicate situation and it's unclear how voters will perceive both campaigns' actions. If Begich can convincingly argue that Sullivan made a mistake that led to two deaths, it will be hard for the Republican to recover from this. However, the last thing Begich needs is for it to look like he's exploiting a terrible crime, and Collins letter isn't going to help him there.
Four years ago, Gardner was campaigning to make personhood—the radical view that fertilized eggs should be treated as persons from a legal perspective—the law of the land in his home state. Last summer, he co-sponsored a federal law to make it the law of the land in the entire country.
But as soon as Gardner launched his U.S. Senate campaign, he flip-flopped, saying he had changed his mind on personhood legislation because it could threaten the legality of some forms of contraception. It was an obvious election-year conversion, and not a convincing one—it wasn't the facts that caused Gardner to change his mind, it was his ambitions.
And just in case you needed any more evidence that Gardner is worried that his support for personhood is still a problem, check out his newest gambit: Running a television ad supporting over-the-counter availability for birth control.
"What's the difference between me and Mark Udall on contraception? I believe the pill ought to be available over the counter, round the clock, without a prescription — cheaper and easier, for you," Gardner said in the ad, which showed a number of women nodding their heads as Gardner talked.Forget the policy question about whether or not that's the right position—although I'm sure Gardner likes the idea of the pill not being something covered by insurance—the point is that coming from Gardner, it's complete baloney. This is a guy who says he's against personhood, yet is still a co-sponsor of federal legislation supporting it. This is a guy who would never dream of making Plan B available without a prescription—unless he thought it would help him win an election.
If Gardner wins, he'll have six years to do whatever he wants before facing re-election. The odds of him maintaining his newfound openness to contraception are precisely zero. Moreover, no matter what his views end up being on contraception, as even he would admit, he's still a committed anti-abortion hardliner. Hopefully, Udall points that out in his response, because even if Corey Gardner actually were the world's greatest proponent of oral contraception, that can't change the fact that he remains fundamentally opposed to a woman's right to choose. (Jed Lewison & Jeff Singer)
• KY-Sen: Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell has two new spots against Democratic rival Alison Lundergan Grimes (here and here). On the other side of the aisle, VoteVets accuses McConnell of not doing enough to help veterans. We also have the size of the buy for a recent Senate Majority PAC ad against McConnell: $429,000.
• LA-Sen: Concerned Vets hits Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu on the VA scandal, arguing that if the government can't take care of veteran's healthcare Obamacare will utterly fail as well. Senate Majority PAC also shells out $108,000 more against Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy.
• NH-Sen: Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen hits Republican Scott Brown while pushing back on a recent Ending Spending ad that was pulled for factual problems. Freedom's Defense Fund also has a very cheap looking spot for Bob Smith, Brown's longshot primary rival.
• MA-Gov: It appears reports of Mass Forward's death have been greatly exaggerated. The SuperPAC, which was formed to support Democratic Treasurer Steve Grossman in the Sept. 9 Democratic primary, is back on the air. The new spot features Grossman's mother (who has been a major contributor to the PAC) praising the candidate. She also asks viewers to "tell him to call his mother," basically setting up a million Jewish mother jokes.
• ME-Gov: The RGA continues to spend on behalf of the very vulnerable Gov. Paul LePage. This time they go after Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud, accusing him of trying to make Maine a haven for undocumented immigrants.
• AZ-09: Freshman Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema has a minute-long spot describing how a local veteran committed suicide, with the veteran's family praising Sinema for working to make changes to the VA.
• CA-36: Freshman Democratic Rep. Raul Ruiz has two new positive spots (here and here). The first features a local veteran thanking Ruiz for intervening on his behalf. The second is a Spanish-language ad narrated by Ruiz's mother.
• IL-10: Freshman Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider lays out a very progressive agenda. It's a bit surprising to see a vulnerable Democrat embracing liberal ideals in a year where many Democrats are running away from the national party.
However, the race in this suburban Chicago seat is a bit different: Obama won 58 percent here, but it remains friendly to moderate Republicans. Schneider faces a tough rematch with former Republican Rep. Bob Dold, who is running on his reputation as a moderate. Schneider seems to be calculating that this is a race where he can win by reminding voters he's the true liberal here. Also: Bob Dold!
• IN-02: Well this is interesting. Freshman Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski has not been seen as particularly vulnerable in this 56 percent Romney seat, and until now she's ignored Democratic rival Joe Bock. But now that Bock is running ads, Walorski is going after him for the first time. The spot highlights Bock's career in the Missouri legislature and portrays him as a liberal. It's unclear if Walorski thinks Bock is a threat or she's just playing it safe: However, given her narrow win in 2012, you can't blame her for being cautious.
• MN-08: Republican Stewart Mills decries negative ads, citing how a recent Democratic spot attacking him was pulled from the air for being untrue. Mills claims he could easily take Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan's words out of context: Mills then shows a series of clips clearly edited together to make Nolan spout nonsense, which is pretty funny.
• NY-11: It looks like indicted Republican Rep. Michael Grimm is in for an interesting few months. On Monday, Grimm's trial for fraud and tax charges was set for Dec. 1, just after the election. Grimm's lawyers unsuccessfully attempted to get it pushed back another month.
Since Grimm was indicted in late April, his fundraising has basically been non-existent. However, national Democrats don't seem to think that this race is in the bag. The DCCC just aired their second spot against Grimm, focusing entirely on his alleged crimes. It remains to be seen if the DCCC just wants to finish Grimm off early or if they really think he can still beat Democratic nominee Domenic Recchia in this swingy district. In any case, Grimm has the unenviable task of trying to win a tough re-election campaign while preparing for his trial at the same time.
• NRCC: The Republican's House campaign committee fires off spots in AZ-01, AZ-02, GA-12, IA-03, and WV-03. The spots tie the Democratic candidates to Obama or hit them on wasteful spending. The WV-03 spot is notable, with a coal miner tying Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall to Obama and his coal policies.