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We're making five moves this week: one Senate race and four House races. One move is in favor of the Democrats—Tennessee's 4th Congressional District—while four are in favor of the GOP.
• PA-Sen (Likely D to Lean D): Barack Obama's swooning fortunes have, in most cases, actually not involved concomitant drops for Democratic Senate candidates, but Pennsylvania seems to be an exception. Though a lot of the polling is from sketchy, unreliable firms, some better pollsters (like Quinnipiac) also agree that Dem Sen. Bob Casey's seen his race with Tom Smith tighten considerably. Casey also faces a problem beyond just top-of-the-ticket woes: Smith loaned his campaign a massive $10 million in the last quarter, and he seems intent on spending all of it. Casey still has the edge—he's got money, his family name, and PA's blue tilt. But it won't be as easy as it looked all cycle.
• MA-06 (Tossup to Lean R): Fairly or not (and I don't think it's fair, but that doesn't matter), Dem Rep. John Tierney's been tarred by an ugly scandal related to illegal gambling and tax evasion that's ensnared his brothers-in-law and sent his wife (briefly) to jail. That's been a game-changer in this otherwise blue-leaning seat, though Democrats in the Massachusetts legislature didn't help Tierney any by redistricting him into the reddest seat in the state. Tierney also drew top-shelf opposition in the former of ex-state Sen. Richard Tisei, who is gay and has long cultivated a "moderate" image, making him the kind of Republican whom LGBT groups are excited about supporting. Tierney and the DCCC have been drawing down their ad efforts and no one bothered responding to a Tisei poll that had him up by a punishing 17 points.
• NY-11 (Lean R to Likely R): Democratic recruitment fell short in this district, with a ton of local elected officials (as well as ex-Rep. Mike McMahon) declining to run. That left Team Blue with Mark Murphy, son of a former congressman but lacking in a lot of political skills. The hope here, though, had long been that GOP Rep. Mike Grimm's various scandals (mostly related to campaign finance) would come home to roost and would open up an opportunity in this Republican-leaning seat. While serious investigations are still pending, it doesn't sound like any shoes are going to drop before election day. Outside groups haven't shown any interest in helping out in this, the most expensive media market in the nation, and it's hard to imagine Murphy having a shot, but the slim possibility of an indictment has us keeping the race on the big board, just to be safe.
• PA-18 (Likely R to Safe R): Larry Maggi, a local official with a background in law enforcement, looked like a solid, against-type recruit for Democrats. But this race, against veteran Rep. Tim Murphy, was always going to be a stretch, especially given how conservative the district is. The DCCC recently cancelled all of its ad reservations here, an acknowledgement that they're giving up.
• TN-04 (Safe R to Likely R): Though we were lonely in doing so, we kept TN-04 at Likely R for a long time. A few weeks ago, however, we concluded that there just weren't any signs that Democrat Eric Stewart, decent recruit though he was, could pull off an upset, so we moved it to the Safe column. Well, a funny thing happened, as you undoubtedly know: The transcript of a phone call made by GOP Rep. Scott DesJarlais to his mistress—who also happened to be a patient of his—was made public, in which he (a supposedly "pro-life" Republican) pressured her to have an abortion. Needless to say, that's the kind of unexpected bombshell that can change the calculus, even in a dark-red district like this.
That alone wouldn't have been enough for us, though, but now we have additional evidence of movement here: A Stewart poll putting him back just 5 points, the DCCC adding him to Red to Blue, and a brand-new $100K ad buy from House Majority PAC (see the TN-04 item below in our "House" section). Given how conservative this seat is (McCain won 63-36), a Stewart win is still an incredible longshot, but this is why they play the games.
• AZ-Sen: As a general rule of thumb, if you've been hit with accusations that you've had problems with women in positions of authority—even if you've apparently successfully rebutted that with an ad featuring an endorsement from a female ex-supervisor—it's usually best not to top off a public appearance with a sexist joke. Nevertheless, Democratic candidate Rich Carmona complimented the moderator of the latest Arizona Senate debate, Brahm Resnik, by telling him that "you're prettier than" presidential debate moderator Candy Crowley. Carmona apologized afterwards, and it may not be the kind of thing that moves many votes, but it's a remarkably poorly-timed gaffe. (David Jarman)
• CT-Sen: Pennsylvania's Tom Smith (who's put $17 million of his own money into the PA-Sen race) is just a piker when compared with Linda McMahon: she's up to $27 million in self-funding now, after self-loaning $14 million for the third quarter. That's on top of the $50 million she spent on her unsuccessful 2010 run, which probably did help seed the ground for the re-run, though. Presumably she'll write herself more checks for the closing weeks as well. (Of course, they're both pikers compared with California's Meg Whitman, the likes of which we may never see again.)
But while we're on the subject, here's something that's totally nuts: The Chamber of Commerce is spending $700K on McMahon! That's like making a charitable donation to the Bellagio. So either the Chamber's political arm is wildly clueless, or it's a sign they don't trust McMahon, because money is the one thing she emphatically does not need. (David Jarman & David Nir)
• HI-Sen: Linda Lingle's gonna have to do better than that: Just a couple of days after she released a sketchball poll showing that she was "only" four points back of Democrat Mazie Hirono, Hirono's firing back with another internal from Benenson that has her up 54-37. Sound familiar? Yep, that's because Hirono was also up 54-37 in her prior poll as well.
• MA-Sen: Wow. Listen to Scott Brown whine about getting (deservedly) beaten up for insinuating that family members of asbestos victims were "actors":
"She's been the one who's been representing those large corporations against those victims. It's unfair. I should have verified it. I said I was sorry and I want to reiterate that," he said.
It's unfair! Wow. Evidently, it's unfair that despite Brown believing conservative delusions about Elizabeth Warren's life work, there are some little guys who actually know that Warren's on their side. And it's accordingly unfair that Brown got tripped up, because (since he knows Warren obviously is not
out to help ordinary folks) he had every reason to believe those folks who appeared in here ad were
actors. Man. There's no crying in baseball, and there's no whining in politics. Good thing Scott Brown doesn't realize that.
• MO-Sen (Rasmussen): Claire McCaskill (D-inc): 51 (51), Todd Akin (R): 43 (45).
• PA-Sen: Two internal polls have the Pennsylvania Senate race going in completely opposite directions, maybe even more so than internal polls usually do. One is from local R-friendly pollsters Susquehanna on behalf of the state Republican party, the first poll of the race to ever show Republican Tom Smith (who's clawed his way into contention through $17 million worth of self-funding) leading; he's up 48-46. The other is an internal from Bob Casey, obviously intended to counter the PA GOP poll (as well as friendly fire from Ed Rendell attacking Casey's allegedly lackadaisical campaign). Garin-Hart-Yang's survey gives Casey a 52-39 edge over Smith, which, the memo points out, is right in line with the recent PPP and Inquirer polls. (David Jarman)
• SD-Sen: This isn't a big surprise since he'd already publicly stated that he was interested in exploring the South Dakota Senate race in 2014. But now Republican ex-Gov. Mike Rounds has made it official: He's filed committee paperwork with the FEC, meaning the 2014 cycle is now formally underway. This puts Rounds on a collision course with Dem incumbent Tim Johnson—unless Johnson, who's in his 60s but has had some health problems, decides to retire (and Rounds's early start might be designed to hasten Johnson's retirement decision). (David Jarman)
• WI-Sen (Marist): Tammy Baldwin (D): 49 (48), Tommy Thompson (R): 45 (46); Obama 51-45 (50-45). Anyone else feel that these Obama numbers are a bit optimistic?
• WI-Sen: Somehow I don't think Tommy Thompson was counting on having to break out his own checkbook when he got recruited to be the GOP's savior in the Wisconsin Senate contest. But now it's come out that he's had to put $832K of his own money into the race (maybe not that big a hardship for a man who can't remember how many houses he owns, but still...). Much of that came before the primary, though, when he had to fend off a late surge by self-funder Eric Hovde.
But Thompson still seems to be scrambling for money—as we saw when he went dark for the weeks following the primary, which allowed Tammy Baldwin to shoot into the lead. Remarkably, he also still hasn't made his ad reservations for the race's closing two weeks—so it's possible another deep dive into his wallet could be imminent. (David Jarman)
• NH-Gov: The presidential toplines in PPP's latest New Hampshire poll aren't very appealing (they have Mitt Romney up 1), but they still have Democrat Maggie Hassan with a narrow edge in the gubernatorial race. She leads GOPer Ovide Lamontagne 45-43, thanks in part to strong support among independents (45-37 among indies). (The trendline is from either Hassan +2 or Hassan +7, depending on whether you want to use PPP's last on-their-own-behalf poll or a PCCC internal.) Looking ahead to 2014, they also find Dem incumbent Jeanne Shaheen leading a Generic R 48-42 in the Senate race. (David Jarman)
Meanwhile, both gubernatorial candidates just filed reports detailing their fundraising since the Sept. 12 primary. Hassan outraised Lamontagne, $470K to $302, but Lamontagne has more cash on hand, $286K to $134K.
• AZ-02: Oh, this was unwise. The conservative 60 Plus Association (the evil twin cousin of the AARP) is running an ad targeting Dem Rep. Ron Barber... using a photo of him taken at the one-year memorial of the Tucson shooting which left him badly injured (among many wounded and dead). They really didn't have any other pictures they could use? Meanwhile, the group is also unveiling a $340K buy targeting Democrats Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09) and Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01) in the same spot. Though the two districts don't have a lot in common, they're both covered by the sprawling Phoenix media market.
• CA-15: More lunacy from Dem Rep. Pete Stark. What is with him and his crazy accusations about "developers"? (They must be the equivalent of Jim Bunning's "little green doctors.") The latest:
This week, Castro Valley real estate broker Otto Catrina said Stark made a false charge about him. Catrina contacted a lawyer.
Catrina said he was shocked when his phone started "ringing off the hook" this week after he was named in an attack mailer from Stark that claimed he was one of the "shady," big-money "developers" who have donated to Swalwell, a Dublin city councilman.
"I've never developed anything in my life," said Catrina, who is on the board of directors of the California Association of Realtors.
His attorney, Jim Wagstaffe of San Francisco, said the Stark attack mailer, which alleges pay-to-play politics, is "defamation by juxtaposition" because it is "clearly designed not to make (Catrina) look good."
Wagstaffe said he will ask Stark to "correct the false statements made in the public arena." Swalwell called the new accusations from Stark "flat out lies."
: Well, this is pretty damn disastrous:
Officials with Rep. Mary Bono Mack's campaign, at a press conference Thursday, released an audiotape in which her Democratic opponent, Raul Ruiz, can be heard reading a letter of support for Leonard Peltier, a Native American convicted in 1977 of murdering two FBI agents on an Indian reservation in South Dakota.
The tape is purportedly from an anti-Thanksgiving rally in 1999, two years after a similar rally highlighted last week by Bono Mack's campaign at which Ruiz, then a Harvard University medical student, was arrested. Ruiz pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and tumultuous behavior in the 1997 incident, and the charges were later dropped. [...]
In the audio, Ruiz can be heard reading a letter to Peltier written by "Subcomandante Marcos," a Marxist leader of the Zapatista liberation movement for indigenous people centered in the rural Mexican state of Chiapas. Ruiz spent eight months there as part of a medical research project while attending Harvard medical school, during a period of armed conflict between the Zapatista rebels and Mexican government.
This is an amazing blast from the radical past, which Ruiz doesn't deny
—though he did say he "regrets
" reading the letter, which also expressed support for Mumia Abu-Jamal. Here's the full audio and a transcript
. I just don't see how this isn't incredibly damaging to Ruiz's hopes:
"Leonard Peltier's most serious crime is that he seeks to rescue in the past, and in his culture, in his roots, the history of his people, the Lakota," Ruiz's voice on the tape states. "And for the powerful, this is a crime, because knowing oneself with history impedes from being tossed around by this absurd machine that is in the system.
"If Leonard Peltier is guilty, then we are all guilty, because we seek out history. On his shoulders, we fight for a better place in the world, a place of dignity and respect."
It's a remarkable turn-around for Bono Mack, who came under a lot of fire
for attacking Ruiz as anti-Thanksgiving and anti-American
over his involvement in Plymouth Rock protests in the late 90s and early 00s. Ruiz was arrested at one protest, but released an ad
saying he was protecting an older person from being beaten, and that all charges were dropped.
I don't really see how any of that pushback matters now, though, not when you're facing headlines like this. Damn.
• FL-18: Well, now we're officially in bizarro world: We've got a poll from a Democratic pollster showing the Republican doing well, and a poll from a Republican pollster showing a tie game—though neither are internals (both were commissioned by media companies). PPP conducted a second South Florida survey for some local Scripps outfits (they did an FL-22 poll a few days before), finding GOP Rep. Allen West up 51-42 over Patrick Murphy. The presidential toplines, though, seem somewhat favorable to Romney, who's up 50-45 in a district Obama won 51-48.
But Voter Survey Service (aka the Republican-affiliated Susquehanna) has West ahead just 49-48. VSS also sees Romney out in front, but by a slightly smaller 50-47 margin. I guess we'll just have to wait and see if other polling emerges—though I suspect that if West had an internal were he was up 9, he'd have dropped in by now.
• FL-22: I caught wind of this ad from Republican Adam Hasner on Thursday, and since then, it seems to have picked up a fair amount of attention. I gotta admit, it's both pretty funny and effective: A young woman complains about a series of perks Lois Frankel allegedly secured for herself at taxpayer expense—including $13,000 for "a marble shower, in a private bathroom, with her own toilet." The camera then pans back to reveal—rather unexpectedly—the woman sitting on a toilet herself, which she then flushes, adding: "When you gotta go, you gotta go."
• IL-08: Could Joe Walsh's big mouth be the thing that saves Democrat Tammy Duckworth? It wouldn't exactly be unforeseeable:
Asked by reporters after the debate if he was saying that it's never medically necessary to conduct an abortion to save the life of a mother, Walsh responded, "Absolutely."
"With modern technology and science, you can't find one instance," he said. "... There is no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing."
There's also some new polling evidence that Duckworth may not be in as much trouble as the outside spending (or that stray We Ask America poll) in IL-08 would indicate. The League of Conservation Voters
has commissioned a survey of the race (using live-callers Anzalone Liszt instead of Public Policy Polling this time) and finds Duckworth leading 54-39. Duckworth's faves are at 49/36, while Walsh's approval is 39/49; Barack Obama leads 53-41 at the top of the ticket. The field dates were Oct. 16-18, before Walsh's Thursday-night foot-in-mouth insertion. (David Jarman)
• IL-11: Several TV stations are refusing to run a new NRCC ad that's just absolutely scurrilous. The spot claims that Democrat Bill Foster "used insider information from a closed-door meeting with congressional leaders to cash-in before the 2008 housing crash." Some stations are still airing the ad (or possibly a re-worked version of it) "after the NRCC provided more information." I sure would like to see that "information." This attack sounds totally like some post hoc, ergo propter hoc b.s.
• MN-08: The conservative American Action Network is dumping another $500K into Minnesota's 8th Congressional District to help save GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack from Rick Nolan. AAN is scheduled to spend $1 million from now through election day on this seat alone, on top of the $700K they've previously dished out here.
• NY-18 (Siena): Sean Maloney (D): 42 (33), Nan Hayworth (R-inc): 49 (46). Maloney's upward movement is obviously positive, but then again, it's expected—no well-funded Democrat is going to take 33% on election day in a district like this. More concerning is Hayworth getting so close to 50%. The presidential toplines have barely budged: Romney's up 49-46, vs. 49-45 a month ago.
• TN-04: I have to admit, I was seriously skeptical as to whether revelations about GOP Rep. Scott DesJarlais pressuring his mistress/patient to have an abortion could be a sufficient game changer to make the House race in this implacably red district competitive. But the House Majority PAC is apparently willing to take a chance: They're throwing down $100K on a new ad, and you can obviously guess at its contents. This follows the DCCC adding Democrat Eric Stewart to their Red to Blue list (though oddly, they don't seem to have issued a press release). Crazier things have happened....
• TX-23: You know you've gone too far when members of your own party, less than three weeks before election day, criticize you for your mailers—especially when you're a Republican. Three GOP state legislators (colleagues of Democrat Pete Gallego) are chastising Rep. Quico Canseco for a flyer which "uses both the face of Jesus and two men kissing each other to criticize the Democrat's stand on social issues." You can see a copy of this ridiculousness here.
• CA Ballot: Yes, Reason is one of the brain-trusts of the libertarian movement, but they do use Princeton Survey Research, a reputable pollster, for their polling efforts. Their California state poll's toplines are a snooze (with leaners pushed, Dianne Feinstein is leading Elizabeth Emken 60-34, and Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney 53-38). The state's various ballot measures are all very close, though. Prop 30, which would increase income taxes on the wealthy for better K-12 funding, is passing 50-46. Prop 38, which has also increases K-12 funding but casts a broader income tax net, is failing 42-52. And Prop 32, which would prohibit deducting money from workers' paychecks to use for political purposes (effectively de-funding unions), is failing 45-48. (David Jarman)
• Judges: I'm a big opponent of judicial elections—I think all judges should be appointed. But my feelings aside, the fact is that a whole lot of members of the bench are indeed picked by voters, including those who serve on a number of state supreme courts. And these elections can have profound importance on all manner of cases that affect ordinary folks (which is why conservative interests have spent many years and much cash trying to influence them). So if you're interested in following the key judicial races across the country, Judgepedia has a terrific roundup at the link.
• OR Ballot: SurveyUSA is out with a poll of the Beaver State despite an overall lack of competitive statewide races there. The topline finds Barack Obama leading the presidential race by a solid-yet-diminished 49-42 (it was 50-41 in September). They also find the state's marijuana legalization measure failing, down 36-43. That contrasts sharply with polling of similar measures in Washington and Colorado, though that's because Oregon's measure has no money behind it. Washington's measure has had nearly $4 million behind it, while Oregon's measure, all of $1,800!. An initiative to move corporate income tax "kicker" refunds into K-12 education is also passing, but only after the pollster laboriously explains it to the respondents. (David Jarman)
• DSCC, NRSC: The DSCC outraised the NRSC in September, $15.6 mil to $12.9 mil. They also have more cash-on-hand for the stretch run: $27 mil to $23.1 mil. Meanwhile, the Dem-aligned Majority PAC (sort of the official unofficial super PAC arm of the DSCC) also did well, taking in $20 million between Sept. 1 and Oct. 17 (which includes $10.4 mil in September alone and the balance in the first half of October). And speaking of Majority PAC, here's there latest round of ad buys, covering Senate races in six states.
• Site News: Hey, guess what? Friday was the ninth anniversary of the founding of the Swing State Project, the predecessor to Daily Kos Elections. Thanks to all of you who have been with us throughout these many years, and to many more to come!