• KS-Sen: After the tremendous hubbub generated Wednesday night when Democrat Chad Taylor unexpectedly dropped out of the Kansas Senate race, a bit of reality has begun to seep in on both sides. Most importantly, Secretary of State Kris Kobach did a solid for his fellow Republicans and decreed that Taylor had not properly removed himself from the ballot because his letter of withdrawal failed to specify that he's "incapable" of serving if elected.
Kobach, a notorious xenophobe and birther, claims that Taylor had to cite that exact language, per a Kansas statute. Taylor instead referenced the statute and says that Kobach's office told him in advance that his wording was acceptable. Democrats are incensed, and while the state party hasn't announced a response yet, litigation seems likely.
Kobach actually has a competitive re-election fight of his own (the most recent poll had him tied with his Democratic opponent, Jean Schodorf), so he probably wouldn't enjoy an ugly, protracted fight. Schodorf's already bashing Kobach for being a partisan stooge, but Kobach's a true believe and likely to sail this ship to his doom if need be.
Yet even if Taylor can be pried off the ballot, it's possible Democrats might still be forced to select a replacement. In that case, the solution is obvious: Find a guy named Pat Roberts. But speaking of Pat Roberts (the Republican senator), things aren't looking pretty for him at all. The perspicacious Nathan Gonzales unearthed a brutal quote from Roberts' campaign manager following his boss's (rather weak) win in last month's Republican primary that just underscores exactly what Kansas voters are eager to punish him for:
"He went back home for two days or three to rest. I think he's going to come back here the first of next week.""Back home," in this case, meant Northern Virginia, an amazing error for a candidate who just spent the better part of a year getting beaten up for his disappearance from his home state. Even more amazingly, Roberts has vanished: Despite his manager's claim that he'd "spend every moment between now and the election in Kansas," Gonzales reports that Roberts "has not been actively campaigning for about a month now." Head over the fold to find out what Roberts' party is doing to bail out his sorry ass.
The NRSC has decided they need to come in and rescue Roberts' flailing operation, detailing fixer Chris LaCivita (who will only work part-time, out of D.C.!) and hiring local legal help to deal with Taylor's ballot status. But beefing up Roberts' staff won't be easy, as Alexandra Jaffe points out, because nearly all quality GOP operatives in the state have long since been absorbed by Gov. Sam Brownback's desperate campaign, which needs all the help it can get.
So can Republicans save both incumbents? Well, if Taylor stays on the ballot, that could help Roberts a bit. But Taylor's dropped out and won't actually campaign, so he probably wouldn't pick up more than a tiny share of the vote, and independent Greg Orman could still overcome that leakage. The one two-way poll of an Orman-Roberts matchup gave Orman a 10-point lead, and what's more, Taylor's departure sharply increased the odds that Democrats retain the Senate, increasing their chances from 46 percent to 56 percent, according to the Daily Kos Elections Poll Explorer.
But even if the race is actually tied, Roberts is still in trouble. So is Brownback, whom our polling-based model currently rates as having just a 25 percent chance at re-election. No matter what ultimately happens in either contest, though, the fact that Kansas Republicans are in such dire straits is a remarkable turn of events, and it may turn out to be the story of the year.
• AK-Sen: From the Sauce for the Goose Dept.: Vic Kohring, the nominee of the ultra-conservative Alaska Independence Party, has dropped out of the Senate race and urged supporters to back Republican Dan Sullivan instead. Democrats would have liked it had Kohring been able to peel away a few voters from Sullivan's right flank, but seeing as Kohring pled guilty just a few years ago for conspiracy to commit bribery, his appeal was probably quite limited.
• NH-Sen: On Wednesday, former Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown caught some flack for declaring at a town hall, "Here's the thing, people say, 'what are you going to do to create jobs?' I am not going to create one job, it is not my job to create jobs. It's yours."
Via James Pindell, it turns out that Brown used to view his job description a lot differently. As a Massachusetts U.S. senator, Brown declared, "I've been working each and every day to try to create jobs in Massachusetts." To be fair, maybe Brown sees his campaign to unseat Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen as a way to create another job for Massachusetts. (Jeff Singer)
• AZ-Gov: Doug Ducey won the Aug. 26 Republican primary decisively, but his vanquished rivals decided to exert some influence one last time by holding off on endorsing him. In the end though, party loyalty trumped all. On Thursday, Scott Smith, Christine Jones, and Ken Bennett issued a joint endorsement for Ducey. According to a PPP poll for a Democratic group, the nasty primary left Ducey with an upside-down 26-41 favorable rating: We'll see if things improve for him now that the primary is history. (Jeff Singer)
• KS-Gov: Ugh. What a sucky unforced error. On Wednesday, Democrat Paul Davis released his first TV ad, and it was actually pretty cute spot. In an attempt to humorously push back against over-the-top Republican attacks, Davis stands alongside a voiceover actor affecting a stereotypical movie trailer "in a world" voice who repeats some of these phrases, like "TAX AND SPEND LIBERAL." Ultimately, the actor grows fed up and tosses away his script, declaring he can't utter such falsehoods because Davis is an upstanding guy. Davis cutely tries to wrap up the spot by telling the actor, "You're not so bad yourself."
Except it turns out the actor, Jeff Montague, had once been arrested for solicitation of sodomy in a public park, a fact the Kansas GOP was only too happy to publicize. Davis immediately pulled the ad and apologized—and is fervently hoping this will all go away quickly. Lucky for Davis, a little something called Chad Taylor happened the very same day, so at least he had the good sense to time this flub well.
• PA-Gov: On the heels of a couple of brutal polls for his side, the campaign of embattled GOP Gov. Tom Corbett is hailing a new poll, released by the GOP outfit Harper Polling, showing him losing by "only" 11 points. The poll, released Tuesday, showed Democrat Tom Wolf at 52 percent of the vote, with Corbett at 41 percent.
Whether you put much stock into the poll or not, the analysis of the poll in the Morning Call is an object lesson in how not to write about a poll. In the headline, it talks about a "big cut" into Wolf's lead. The problem is that Harper has never polled the race, so any comparison is weak, at best. The article also fails to point out anywhere that Harper was a firm that did client work for GOP clients, which might explain the disparity between them and the pair of universities which showed Wolf with outsized leads in the past two weeks.
The reporter also quoted Corbett's campaign manager saying two other recent polls showed a single digit race. Well, Corbett hasn't been within 10 points of Wolf since January, but perhaps we define "recent" differently. Perhaps Team Corbett was referencing this odd attempt at unskewing the polls by his crew last month, but that ain't a poll, either.
Aside from those odd omissions and errors, there is a more basic point. The article adopts the theme that we are in the midst of some kind of Corbett resurgence, but his opponent, even in this very friendly poll, still is at 52 percent of the vote! Even if he somehow swept up all of the undecideds, he still isn't getting re-elected, unless someone has changed the rules of ... well ... math. So before anyone with legitimacy buys the "Corbett comeback", he is going to need to be a lot closer than 11 points behind, and he is going to need Tom Wolf to dip under 50 percent. (Steve Singiser)
• TX-Gov: Republican Greg Abbott says he has a poll from WPA Opinion Research showing him with a 53-35 lead on Democrat Wendy Davis, but Abbott didn't bother to disclose the sample size, field dates, voter screen, methodology, or anything else about the poll.
• LA-05: On behalf of several unnamed state lobbyists and Washington bloggers, The Glascock Group takes another look at the jungle primary here and if their new survey is to be believed, Republican Rep. Vance McAllister is in real trouble. They find fellow Republican and physician Ralph Abraham leading the scandal-tarred McAllister 22-20, with Democrat Jamie Mayo at 15. In the likely event that no one clears 50 percent the top-two candidates will advance to a December runoff. If McAllister faces Mayo in this heavily Republican district he's in good shape, but Abraham or another Republican could make life much harder for him.
Of course, that's a big if. Glascock does not have much of a track record and they still refuse to allow respondents to say that they're undecided. It's also hard to see Mayo, the only Democrat, taking only 15 percent. Obama won 38 percent here and Mayo should be able to consolidate a good deal of that support without much trouble. In a race as crowded as this anything could happen, but these results seem hard to believe without confirmation. (Jeff Singer)
• ME-02: Republican Bruce Poliquin is touting a new internal poll from Public Opinion Strategies that has him just 4 points back of Democrat Emily Cain, 37-33, with Republican-turned-independent Blaine Richardson taking 6 percent of the vote. It's not a good sign for Poliquin, though, because a POS poll from last November (conducted for his vanquished primary rival, Kevin Raye) had Cain leading 37-34. Richardson wasn't tested at the time, but his presence is only hurting Poliquin, who called on him to drop out last week.
Richardson told Poliquin to get lost, but even if 100 percent of his supporters returned to the Republican fold, Cain would still have the edge in this blue-leaning open district. Like all Democrats, she'll face some classic midterm turnout difficulties, but the undecideds should be much more favorable to her than to Poliquin.
• AR Ballot: In what will hopefully be a boon for Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, Arkansas officials have determined that a measure to increase the state's minimum wage will appear on the ballot this fall. Pryor supports the proposal and regularly mentions it on the campaign trail; Republican Tom Cotton says he's still "studying" it. The test is in two months, buddy.
• EMILY: I agree with just about everything in this very good piece from David Freedlander laying out the progressive critique of EMILY's List. As longtime observers know, EMILY backs pro-choice Democratic women, but that often leads them to choose less-progressive options, whether it's Christine Quinn in last year's race for New York City mayor, Colleen Hanabusa in Hawaii's recently concluded Senate primary, or the worst of all time, Nikki Tinker. Such targeting decisions are often counter-productive when there are plenty of Republicans who are much more deserving of EMILY's ire.
• WATN?: On Thursday, a jury convicted former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on 11 charges of public corruption while his wife, Maureen, was found guilty on eight counts. McDonnell, a Republican, was accused of performing official acts on behalf Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams, who was hoping to promote his company's sketchy dietary supplement Anatabloc, in exchange for lavish gifts like Rolex watches, golf trips and low-interest loans. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years. There's no word on whether the McDonnells will appeal, but presumably they will.
Ads & Independent Expenditures (Jeff Singer):
• AK-Sen: The DSCC hits Republican Dan Sullivan on Medicare, with the wife of a man suffering from Alzheimer accusing Sullivan of trying to make their lives tougher. Sullivan's spot features a teacher praising his accomplishment as state attorney general in getting the state its money back during the Great Recession.
• AR-Sen: Republican Rep. Tom Cotton has two new spots (here and here). The first is positive, featuring his mom and touting his support for protecting Social Security and Medicare. The second accuses Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor of voting to allow undocumented immigrants to get Social Security benefits. Crossroads GPS also spends another $184,000 against Pryor.
On the Democratic side, Pryor touts his work in protecting Medicare, pushing back on Republican attacks that he cut it.
• IA-Sen: Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley must have eaten a lot of Wheaties this week, since he has another spot portraying Republican Joni Ernst as batshit insane. This ad accuses Ernst of working to outlaw all abortion and trying to ban many forms of birth control. On the GOP side, the NRSC also invokes Obamacare to accuse Braley of voting to cut Medicare. Freedom Partners also hits Braley for skipping Veteran's Affairs Committee meetings while praising Ernst's military service.
• NH-Sen: The DSCC hits Republican Scott Brown on Social Security. Mayday PAC also spends yet another $216,000 for former state Sen. Jim Rubens, who is considered a serious long shot in the Sept. 9 Republican primary against Brown. Either they're seeing some real movement here, or Mayday founder Lawrence Lessig is allergic to money.
• SD-Sen: Democrat Rick Weiland paints Republican former Gov. Mike Rounds as corrupt, accusing him of selling permanent residency cards to the highest bidders. This EB-5 scandal has been lurking in the background for almost a year, but so far not enough details have come to light to do any real damage to Rounds.
• CO-Gov: The RGA continues to portray Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper as a likable guy who's in way over his head as governor. On the Democratic side, a group called "Making Colorado Great" is spending six figures accusing Republican Bob Beauprez of making it easier for banks to hurt people.
• KS-Gov: Democrat Paul Davis uses a car driven by a professional driver as a metaphor for the direction Republican Gov. Sam Brownback wants to take the state. Hopefully, the campaign vetted Davis' co-star this time.
• NE-Gov: Both major party candidates are on the air here. Republican Pete Ricketts goes positive, talking up his business career at TD Ameritrade. Democrat Chuck Hassebrook accuses Ricketts of favoring the rich at the expense of the middle class.
• NM-Gov: Republican Gov. Susana Martinez breaks from her long string of ads bashing Democratic rival Gary King and goes positive. She touts her work on providing breakfast for school children while ensuring that adults don't abuse the welfare system.
• IA-03: Republican David Young is out with his first spot in this swing district and it's a little weird. Young spends most of the ad decrying how much Washington sucks (never-mind that he spend 17 years working in the Senate).
But Young seems to have been really hungry when he filmed the ad. He talks about Iowans wanting a good meal at three different points, and has a shot of someone eating chicken as well as kids finishing up their meal. As Young talks, there's a basket of food next to him. If you watch the commercial with the sound off, you can be forgiven for thinking that Young is promoting a diner rather than a campaign.
The CA-26 spot against Republican Jeff Gorrell is pretty typical, but the other two are interesting. CA-31 has long been viewed as a likely Democratic pickup, and it's interesting that the DCCC feels the need to run a spot against Republican Paul Chabot. They could just be trying to finish Chabot off early before moving on to bigger and better things, but it's worth keeping an eye out to see if anyone else gets involved in this 57 percent Obama seat.
In IL-12, we all knew that sooner or later footage of Republican Mike Bost's epic meltdown would make it on the air. The DCCC has evidently decided to go with sooner, running an entire spot behind it.
We also have the DCCC's independent expenditures for various races.
• Chamber: The deep-pocketed U.S. Chamber of Commerce is running compare and contrast spots in favor of the Republicans in four House contests: CA-07, MI-01, MN-08, and WV-03. All but MI-01 are Democratic-held.