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• NV-St. Sen: Here's an interesting—and welcome—story out of Tuesday night's primaries in Nevada. Local progressives had long been unhappy with Democratic state Sen. John Lee over his conservative-leaning record and backed first-time candidate Patricia Spearman, a gay minister, in the primary. The AP summarizes some of his apostasies:
But he was targeted by environmentalists and conservationists upset over Lee's sponsorship of 2011 bill that paved the way for Nevada to withdraw from a partnership with California that governs development and environmental regulations at Lake Tahoe.
Lee, who has served in the Senate since 2004, also ran afoul of the more liberal members of the Democratic Party for opposing a 2009 domestic partnership law that extended rights to cohabitating gay and heterosexual couples. Lee also opposed a failed Democratic plan last year to raise taxes.
Progressive support didn't come with a lot of money, though: Spearman was outraised $200K to just $13K. Lee also had the backing of the Democratic establishment, including Sen. Harry Reid's endorsement, and outside groups spent on his behalf as well. Nevertheless, Spearman rode to a stunning upset in Senate District 1, crushing Lee by a 63-37 margin
. The best part is that this is a blue seat, and no Republican even filed to run here this year. (The only other candidate on the ballot is "Independent American" Gregory Hughes.) So Spearman should now be all but assured of victory in November, and her presence will help push the Nevada Democratic caucus in a more progressive direction.
• AZ-Sen: GOP Rep. Jeff Flake, who's been watching free-spending businessman Wil Cardon gain on him in the primary, is finally going up with his first ad, for a reported $373K buy. Flake tries to fluff his right-wing credentials, with the narrator intoning: "Many call him the most conservative Congressman in Washington." The ad also takes a small dig at Cardon, saying: "Fella running against Jeff tries to say otherwise, but we all know better."
• OH-Sen: Props to the Huffington Post's Matt Sledge for trying to get to the bottom of who's behind the non-profit group calling itself the "Government Integrity Fund," which has spent at least $238K airing ads to boost the candidacy of Republican Josh Mandel. Of course, Sledge ran into a brick wall, getting no further than the attorney listed on the organization's incorporation papers, who offered up no hints about the group's donors—even going so far as to claim their names were protected by attorney-client privilege! (Fat chance.) But at least stories like this shine a light on our bogus campaign finance disclosure rules.
Anyhow, you can watch the ad at the link, which focuses on Mandel's military service and features him delivering a 7th grade-level civics lecture. Since the Government Integrity Fund is a 501(c)4 non-profit, it can't run campaign ads and is limited to those phony "issue" ads you see so often. But their spot treads awfully close to the line, with Mandel actually referring to "this campaign" in one quote, and no pretense that there's any "issue" the ad is concerned about. Of course, our toothless enforcement system probably makes going after the appallingly-named Government Integrity Fund close to pointless, but this seems sketchy to me.
• NC-Gov: PPP's latest North Carolina poll has Republican Pat McCrory edging up to a 47-40 lead over Democrat Walter Dalton. Last month it was 46-40 McCrory. There are also some results for other competitive statewide races, including treasurer, auditor and agriculture commissioner.
• AZ-08/AZ-02: Democrat Ron Barber's six-point victory over Republican Jesse Kelly in Tuesday night's special election is even more impressive than it looks at first glance. Why? Thanks to redistricting, Barber (and possibly Kelly) will now run this November in a redrawn seat (renumbered AZ-02) that is bluer than the one the special was just held in. (The old AZ-08 went for McCain 52-46; the new AZ-02, just 50-49.) But there's more to it than that: In the parts of AZ-02 retained from old AZ-08, Obama lost 48-51, but Barber won 53-44—a considerably wider margin than his overall six-point edge on Tuesday.
On top of that, the brand-new section of AZ-02 went for Obama by a punishing 66-32, meaning that Barber's Republican opponent in the regular November election will encounter a bunch of hostile new turf. Indeed, if Barber faces off against Kelly again, it's hard to see how Kelly wouldn't fare even worse. There's also the possibility that former air force combat pilot Martha McSally could beat Kelly in the August primary, especially if the GOP is eager for a new face after two consecutive Kelly losses. (Ex-Rep. Gabby Giffords also beat him in 2010.) That would probably mean a tougher encore for Barber, but he'd still be favored. (For his part, Barber now faces a primary against state Rep. Matt Heinz, but I suspect there will be a lot of pressure on Heinz to drop out—and if he doesn't, I think he'll have a hard time raising much money.)
For all these reasons, Daily Kos Elections is changing its rating on AZ-02 from Tossup to Lean D.
• FL-07: This is another one of those "nothing especially newsy" stories, but Jim Stratton's writeup of a recent debate in the FL-07 GOP primary offers some interesting background on both candidates in this incumbent-versus-incumbent matchup. The race has, as is so often the case, turned nastier of late, with freshman Sandy Adams sniping at veteran John Mica—and Mica doing his best to be dismissive of her. Polling (even Adams' own) has shown Mica well out in front, though, so this race seems more likely to end with a whimper rather than a bang.
• FL-22: In her second ad, Democrat Kristin Jacobs reiterates a theme from her first, saying that "we keep sending the wrong kind of people" to Washington. Last time, I noted that her ad looked "like it was shot on Super 8"—as in, the classic film stock, not the motel chain. That was just my way of saying the footage looked deliberately aged, an effect I think is even more pronounced in this spot, which even features some artificial graininess. Is this an attempt by Jacobs to invoke some feelings of nostalgia among the older voters in the district by having her commercials invoke memories of old home movies?
• IL-12: As expected, Major Gen. William Enyart, who just resigned his post as commander of the Illinois National Guard, submitted an application to the committee of local Democrats who are selecting a replacement for Brad Harriman. (Harriman unexpectedly dropped out of the race a couple of weeks ago.) The panel is accepting applications until Friday and says it hopes to make a decision by the end of the month. (Capitol Fax said that nine others had also filed as of Tuesday.) Frankly, time's a-wastin', and I don't see why it should take that long. The county chairmen responsible for this decision should huddle all weekend and make an announcement on Monday.
• ME-01: It took a long time (the better part of a day!), but all of the votes in the ME-01 GOP primary have now apparently been counted, and state Senate Majority Leader Jon Courtney has emerged with a 265-vote lead over Some Dude Patrick Calder. Despite Courtney's razor-thin edge of just 0.92%, Calder conceded and endorsed his opponent. Calder, a marine engineer who works on a cruise ship, had only one previous race under his belt: an unsuccessful state House race in 2010, so it's pretty amazing that he did this well, given that he raised less than $8K for his campaign. At the same time, it's not like Courtney put a lot of muscle into his bid, either—he only raised $22,000! That doesn't augur well for his chances against Dem Rep. Chellie Pingree this fall. (David Nir & James L)
• NY-09: Rep. Yvette Clarke doesn't seem to face much of a threat from attorney Sylvia Kinard in the Democratic primary, but it's always notable when Barack Obama offers an endorsement to an incumbent lawmaker, which is exactly what he did on Wednesday. Perhaps what's more notable is that right next door in NY-13, where Rep. Charlie Rangel is in the reelection fight of his life, the POTUS is staying silent.
• OK-02: Plumbing company owner Markwayne Mullin, who seems to have mastered the art of Beltway outreach better than his rivals, just dropped an internal of the GOP primary, showing him leading the field with 30 percent. The survey, from Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates, has state Rep. George Faught is at 15 and former state Rep. Wayne Pettigrew trails with just 7, while 34 percent are undecided. Note that Oklahoma is a runoff state, so Mullin would have to do a fair bit better to avoid a second round.
It's also worth pointing out that Mullin didn't include general election matchups, which has to make you wonder whether Democratic chances of holding this deep-red open seat are perhaps better than you might otherwise imagine. (This is proverbial "ancestrally Democratic" turf, after all.) And speaking of the Democrats, former Assistant U.S. Attorney Rob Wallace was just endorsed by Julie Carson, the wife of ex-Rep. Brad Carson, who held this seat before Dan Boren, its current occupant. (Brad Carson can't get involved because he's working for the Army.) Wallace, who faces seed company owner Wayne Herriman in the primary, also has the backing of ex-Gov. Brad Henry.
• SC-07: If you were following Tuesday night's election liveblog, you know that a very, very strange thing happened in the South Carolina Democratic primary in the 7th Congressional District. At around 9:40 PM ET, the AP called a runoff between Gloria Tinubu, who at the time had just under 49 percent of the vote and was not going to be able to clear the 50% mark, and Preston Brittain, who was at about 36 percent. Even though Ted Vick had dropped out a few weeks earlier (after his arrest on drunken driving and weapons charges), he nevertheless received a not-immaterial 8 percent of the vote—enough to send Brittain and Tinubu to a runoff, at least.
Then, sometime after 11 o'clock, things got really weird. The South Carolina Election Commission declared that votes for Vick simply didn't count. It's not clear whether the elections board was tallying them to begin with, but the AP certainly was—and after the commission's instruction came down from on high, the AP literally just erased the line in their data feed that listed Vick's votes. As a consequence, Tinubu appeared to move about the 50 percent threshold for avoiding a runoff, since Vick's votes were no longer part of the denominator.
This was a pretty insane occurrence, and a hurried review of South Carolina election law didn't seem to offer any provision which allowed the elections board to make this move. If anything, it looked like they might be forbidden from doing so. South Carolina Democrats aren't happy about this turn of events, especially since most of the establishment players are backing Brittain. On Wednesday morning, they put out a statement:
The South Carolina Democratic Party cares about the voters in South Carolina and we care about their right to vote. Yesterday, in the 7th Congressional District, over 2,300 people voted for a candidate that canceled his campaign but still remained on the ballot. South Carolina code of law 7-17-610 states that "...there are more persons seeking nomination than there are offices, the majority shall be ascertained by dividing the total vote cast for all candidates by the number of positions to be filled, and by dividing the result by two."
Based on the names that appeared on the ballot, no candidate received 50% + 1 of the votes cast in the June 12 primary, thus a run-off is required. The Democratic Party does not want to disenfranchise any voter in South Carolina and by not counting the votes for Ted Vick, you are not counting the votes for over 2,300 people. This is something the Republican Party would condone but not the Democratic Party. Every vote counts.
State Democratic chair Dick Harpootlian, no stranger to litigation, told local media outfit SCNow.com that "the Democratic party had contacted the commission and if the mistake was not corrected the party would be prepared to take legal action." The commission now says it's consulting the state attorney general
and expects to have an answer Friday. However, the AG, Alan Wilson, is a Republican, and the GOP would prefer to face Tinubu, so we'll see how legit his advice is.
Meanwhile, Brittain is insisting a runoff will take place, while Tinubu predictably says that counting Vick's votes "is ridiculous." Time is short, though, as South Carolina's runoff is scheduled to proceed in just two weeks, on June 26. Needless to say, we'll keep you posted on any further developments here.
• TN-03: Republican freshman Chuck Fleischman, who faces a competitive primary, is up with a biographical spot in which he talks about his mother's death from cancer when he was a boy.
• Candidate Filings: We've been a bit preoccupied with all sorts of stuff here at Daily Kos Elections lately—primaries, recalls, race ratings, what have you—so it's been a while since we've rounded up official candidate filing lists. But here are links for all of the states where filing has closed since June 1:
Alaska | Connecticut | Florida | Hawaii (PDF) | Kansas | Minnesota | Wisconsin | Wyoming (PDF)
Unfortunately, Massachusetts (where filing has also closed) won't post a list for another couple of weeks. It's also worth pointing out that filing is still open in just five more states: Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Delaware and Louisiana. (And in VT and NH, filing closes this week.)
• Crossroads: Both of Karl Rove's Crossroads organizations—American Crossroads, which is a so-called "527" committee, and Crossroads GPS, their 501(c)(4) non-profit "social welfare" arm—are launching new ads attacking Democratic Senate candidates. There are six on total (three apiece for each group), with the buys reportedly adding up to $4.6 million. American Crossroads is up in Nebraska (going after Bob Kerrey), Virginia (Tim Kaine) and Nevada (Shelley Berkley), while Crossroads GPS is airing spots in North Dakota (Heidi Heitkamp), Ohio (Sherrod Brown) and Missouri (Claire McCaskill). (The latter batch are fake "issue" ads—you know, the kind which conclude with, "Call Sen. So-and-so and tell her to stop being such a stinky libruhl!" That's how GPS gets away with the "non-profit" dodge.) The Hill has helpfully compiled all of the ads here.
• House: Is Rep. Patrick McHenry hoping to fashion himself into the House counterpart of Sen. Jim DeMint? DeMint spends a lot of time trying to play wingnut kingmaker by meddling in various contested Republican primaries to help ensure only the craziest, most extreme candidates emerge with the GOP nomination, and his main tool is his Senate Conservatives Fund. McHenry, meanwhile, has his own "House Conservatives Fund," which has just issued its first round of endorsements. But McHenry's going about things rather differently, seeing as he's backing candidates who've already won or don't face primaries, so perhaps the only thing he has in common with DeMint is his organization's name. Anyhow, you can find the full list at the link.
• Nevada: As you may know, Nevada law has an unusual provision which specifies that on all statewide ballots, voters are given the option to vote for "none of these candidates" (also known as a "none of the above" or "NOTA" option). However, it's purely a protest vote: Even if NOTA wins a plurality or majority, those votes are simply discarded and the candidate with the next-highest total is declared the winner. Perhaps because of this, NOTA "victories" have been extremely rare, though it did achieve a plurality in a couple of Republican primaries in the late 1970s.
But a new lawsuit filed by some local Republicans is seeking to overturn the system anyway, arguing that throwing out the NOTA votes constitutes disenfranchisement. (Oddly, this has a bit of an echo with what's going on in the SC-07 Democratic primary.) Local reporter Jon Ralston isn't sure why the GOP is pushing this suit, but he speculates that perhaps they're worried that NOTA will hurt Mitt Romney and Dean Heller in the presidential and senate races more than it'll hurt Barack Obama and Shelley Berkley. In any event, you can read the complaint here (PDF).
• NRCC: The NRCC just became the last of the big four federal campaign committees to make a large fall airtime reservation, booking $18.2 million worth of airtime covering 27 congressional districts. Roll Call's Shira Toeplitz has a detailed breakdown of the reservations at the link.