Want the scoop on hot races around the country? Get the digest emailed to you each weekday morning. Sign up here
• CA-31: With just a week to go before California's top-two primary, the clusterfuck in the state's 31st District has only grown more clustery. Last week, we learned that EMILY's List, which is supporting Eloise Reyes, launched some mailers attacking Pete Aguilar, another Democrat. Now the DCCC itself is getting involved, and they're dropping $12,000 worth of mail against Leslie Gooch, who's actually the second-string Republican in the race, according to the D-Trip's own internal polling. This would lend credence to the committee's claim when it released that poll that it feared Gooch could sneak into the general election along with fellow Republican Paul Chabot.
To make matters even crazier, the League of Conservation Voters is also getting into the act, and they're doing exactly what the DCCC hoped: attacking Democratic ex-Rep. Joe Baca. The LCV hasn't said how much they'll spend, but you can see their mailers, accusing Baca of voting to gut the Clean Water Act, at the link. And EMILY, too, is following suit, with another round of mailers worth $44,000 that keeps up the drumbeat against Aguilar but also ropes in Baca, too. It'll be very interesting to see how this one turns out.
• AK-Sen: Republican candidate Dan Sullivan narrates a positive ad where he talks about turning a basin into a source of jobs and energy. (Jeff Singer)
• AR-Sen: The Club for Growth has an extremely unsubtle ad featuring a parrot watching one of Obama's "If you like your healthcare plan you can keep it" speeches, and repeating key phrases. It then flashes to Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor saying something similar, then back to Obama. Just in case you didn't get the "Obamacare sux" message, the parrot takes a dump on a copy of the New York Times where the headline reads "Healthcare Overhaul Becomes the Law of the Land." Does the Club for Growth dislike Obamacare or something? (Jeff Singer)
• HI-Sen: Rep. Colleen Hanabusa unveils her first TV ad in the Democratic primary. It's a positive spot where she emphasizes her local roots and Hawaii's values. Spoiler alert: they are also her values.
And though Hanabusa has now joined Sen. Brian Schatz on the TV airwaves, Schatz's two-month head start has now given him an edge in polling. A new Merriman River survey for Honolulu Civil Beat finds Schatz taking a small 44-39 lead, up from a 40-all tie February. That's nowhere near as gaudy as the 49-34 advantage a recent PPP poll for DFA gave Schatz, but Merriman's trendlines are moving in the right direction for him. (Jeff Singer & David Nir)
• IA-Sen: Iowa's June 3 primary is almost upon us, and that means two things: campaign finance reports and ads! In the latter category, Citizens United has a $50,000 buy for Sam Clovis. The ad features Rick Santorum praising Clovis for being a conservative and stuff.
Two groups are also taking to the air to support Joni Ernst, who appears to be the frontrunner for her party's nomination. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's Reclaim America PAC has a $121,000 buy talking up Ernst's biography. The Senate Conservatives Fund also has a commercial out, where they really want you to know Ernst is a conservative. Ernst herself also has a new spot up touting her local ties. Ernst does not shoot or castrate anything in this ad, which is a little unusual for her commercials.
Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley is unopposed in his primary but he has a positive spot titled "Equal Justice". Braley also does not shoot or castrate anything in this ad. (Jeff Singer)
• MI-Sen: The National Association of Realtors, one of the few large outside spending groups that regularly supports members of both parties, has endorsed Democratic Rep. Gary Peters in his bid for Senate. The Realtors' PAC is actually capable of putting serious money into a race, so if they decide to help Peters in deed and not just word, that could really mean something.
• MS-Sen: Republican Sen. Thad Cochran hits primary opponent state Sen. Chris McDaniel in a new ad over a McDaniel supporter illegally recording Cochran's wife at her nursing home. It quickly transitions into a positive "Thad Cochran is awesome" segment, with a different narrator and everything. McDaniel has an ad of his own where he complains about Cochran's ads, before he transitions into the "I'm awesome" part of the commercial. (Jeff Singer)
• OR-Sen: Rasmussen: Jeff Merkley (D-inc): 47, Monica Wehby (R): 37.
• SC-Sen-A: A sketchily-reported poll from TargetPoint for the Republican group Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions finds Sen. Lindsey Graham at 56 percent in the June 10 GOP primary, above the runoff threshold. His closest challenger, businessman Richard Cash, takes just 7. However, it's not clear when this survey was in the field, or how large a sample there was, as the full results appear to be locked behind the paywall at Politico Pro.
• WV-Sen: A new survey from local pollster R.L. Repass puts GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito up 49-38 over Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant in West Virginia's Senate race. That's very close to the HuffPo Pollster average, and it represents an improvement for Capito, who led 45-40 last August.
• CT-Gov: Former Democratic state Rep. Jonathan Pelto, who says he's unhappy with what he claims is Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy's embrace of "the corporatization of school reform," says he's going to try to petition his way on to the ballot and raise enough money to qualify for matching funds. That's no easy task, but if Pelto succeeds, he could definitely complicate matters for Malloy, who only narrowly beat Republican Tom Foley in 2010 and is likely to face him again.
However, Pelto insists that "he will only run a third-party challenge if he has a chance to win, and not as a spoiler who allows Foley to become governor." There's an easy answer to that question, though, and Pelto ought to know it without launching a campaign of his own.
• FL-Gov: SurveyUSA is now the first non-ridiculous and/or non-Republican pollster to show GOP Gov. Rick Scott with a lead. SUSA puts Scott up 42-40 on Democrat Charlie Crist, who just a few weeks ago led 44-41 and a month before that was up 46-41. It's certainly possible that SUSA is accurate, given that Scott has already spent an amazing $10 million on TV ads, many hammering Crist. The good news, such as it is, for Democrats is that Scott has only succeeded in yanking down Crist's standing, rather than boosting his own. What's more, Crist hasn't aired a single television spot yet, so the story of this race has yet to be written.
• GA-Gov: Rasmussen: Jason Carter (D): 48, Nathan Deal (R-inc): 41. No, there's no reason to believe these numbers, which are an extreme outlier. They also cast doubt on those rosy results for Democrat Michelle Nunn in the Senate race. But then again, this is Rasmussen, so you shouldn't be relying on them anyway.
• NM-Gov: New Mexico's Democratic primary for governor is just a week away, but the race has been very slow to take shape, and a new survey from Research & Polling for the Albuquerque Journal confirms just how wide-open things still are. State Attorney General Gary King holds the lead, but he takes just 22 percent. Businessmen Lawrence Rael and Alan Webber are both at 16, while state Sen. Howie Morales is at 12 and state Sen. Linda Lopez brings up the rear with 5. A hefty 29 percent are still undecided.
The only other poll of the race came from PPP a couple of months ago, finding King with a 34-15 lead on Morales. But since then, both Rael and Webber have gone on the air, and King only joined them a few days ago. His new ad features several different people stiffly singing his praises and, like many candidates who run out of time before Election Day, King tries to cram in too many issues that he's worked on: online predators, school safety, clean water, con artists scamming seniors, and predatory lenders. In a 30-second spot, less is often more.
• RI-Gov: Republican Allan Fung has a new ad out where the narrator touts his tenure as mayor of Cranston in nice non-partisan terms. Fung faces businessman Ken Block in the September 9 primary. (Jeff Singer)
• WI-Gov: Americans for Prosperity goes big with a $886,000 statewide buy on behalf of Republican Gov. Scott Walker. The spot features three people praising Walker's "real budget reform," without mentioning him by name and talking in a way I've never head any normal person talk. (Jeff Singer)
• AZ-07: State Rep. Ruben Gallego has released an internal poll from Lake Research of the Democratic primary to succeed Rep. Ed Pastor, which is now a two-way race between himself and Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox. Gallego has a 38-32 lead, but 29 percent are undecided, so it's still anyone's race. Wilcox is better-known but has higher negatives: She sports a 48-27 favorability rating while Gallego stands at 43-6.
• CA-15: This is a filthy mailer from state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, who accuses Rep. Eric Swalwell, a fellow Democrat, of outright supporting Paul Ryan's budget. That's an absolute lie, seeing as every Democrat in Congress voted against it. Corbett's claim is based on the fact that Swalwell voted against a Congressional Progressive Caucus budget that was offered as a replacement for Ryan's plan, which doesn't even rise to the level of "specious." Nancy Pelosi voted against the CPC budget, too! This reminds me of Jason Altmire's dirty attack on Mark Critz for voting "present" on the lunatic Republican Study Committee budget—an attack that did not go over well.
• IA-01, -02: In addition to the 3rd District poll they released last week, Loras College also put out some polling data on two other Iowa House races. In the 1st District, they find state Rep. Pat Murphy leading the Democratic pack with 35 percent of the vote, while Cedar Rapids Councilwoman Monica Vernon and state Sen. Swati Dandekar are both at 11 and state Rep. Anesa Kajtazovic takes 9. That's little changed from last month, when Murphy was on top with 30 and Kajtazovic stood at 11. Meanwhile, businessman Rod Blum leads businessman Steve Rathje 31-16, up from 17-12 in April.
And over in the 2nd District, physician Marianette Miller-Meeks has ridden her name recognition from two prior attempts at this seat out to a 36-12 lead on state Rep. Mark Lofgren; a month ago, she was up just 17-11. The winner will take on Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack in November.
• LA-06: Louisiana politics often seems to run in super slo-mo—I guess it's just too darn hot down on the bayou to operate at any other speed—and here's a great example. It's already May of an election year, but Republican state Rep. Lenar! Whitney only recently emerged as a potential candidate for Rep. Bill Cassidy's open House seat. Whitney apparently still hasn't said anything, though her name came up again in a new report this week. The GOP field so far has been pretty unimpressive, with businessman Paul Dietzel and former Bobby Jindal official Garret Graves leading the way with around $300,000 raised apiece. The most interesting candidate, though, is former Democratic Gov. Edwin Edwards, though despite his larger-than-life profile, he remains a long shot in this red district.
• MI-04: Businessman Paul Mitchell is on the air in the GOP primary to succeed Dave Camp. Mitchell heavily emphasizes his business career but demonstrates that's not all there is to him: He can shoot a cross bow and play the accordion. But before people think they're voting for Superman, he tells us he can't do both at the same time. He ends the ad by saying, "I approve this message because we need more job-creating, crossbow-shooting, accordion-playing outsiders in Congress." I smell a new caucus coming. (Jeff Singer)
• MI-11: Most of the details are behind a paywall, but a new poll for MIRS for the GOP primary in Michigan's 11 District finds accidental Rep. Kerry Bentivolio up 33-21 on foreclosure attorney Dave Trott, which of course means there's a metric buttload of undecideds—46 percent.
• NJ-03: The pro-Democratic super PAC Patriot Majority USA is up to something in New Jersey's 3rd Congressional District, and it certainly smells like a ratfuck. They're spending $110,000 on a combination of mail and TV attacking both candidates in Tuesday's GOP primary, Steve Lonegan and Tom MacArthur. However, Democrat Aimee Belgard would much rather face the former rather than the latter in the general election for this swingy open seat, given Lonegan's reputation as a mega-crazy nutter. (If you're unlucky, you might remember him from his race against Cory Booker last year.) So what's going on?
The key is the different messaging aimed at each Republican. In a mailer obtained by the Newark Star-Ledger, PMUSA slams MacArthur as a politician who "raised taxes and increased spending EVERY SINGLE YEAR" he served on the Randolph Township Council—the sort of hit Republicans frequently use against one another in primaries.
The argument against Lonegan, on the other hand, is very reminiscent of the tactics Claire McCaskill used to boost Todd Akin. Indeed, the very same flyer also complains that "conservative Steve Lonegan is just too extreme for New Jersey" and accuses him of wanting to eliminate the Department of Education and defund Planned Parenthood. These, of course, are the kinds of things that GOP primary voters actually like!
Unfortunately, we don't have copies of the TV ads, but the folks at PolitickerNJ have seen them, and they're structured along similar lines, with MacArthur again getting attack as a tax-hiker. The Lonegan spot, though, goes even further, criticizing him for opposing federal disaster aid and saying that New Jerseyans should "suck it up" after Hurricane Sandy. While ultra-conservatives often loathe disaster relief when it goes to folks other than themselves, is Lonegan really a hero to the base for dumping on his own state after a major tragedy?
In any event, PMUSA definitely isn't copping to a ratfuck—no one ever does, publicly. That's always both the smart and necessary move, since you never want to give folks on the other side even more ammunition to accuse you of meddling. Of course, MacArthur's campaign is already doing just that, claiming "Republican primary voters are going to see through it," but we'll know next week whether or not this worked.
• NY-11: Indicted GOP Rep. Mike Grimm's campaign manager, Bill Cortese, has quit after just two months on the job, and according to a nameless source who spoke with the Daily News, the departure came because Grimm could no longer afford to pay him. This same source claims that Grimm is confronting a campaign that will have to be run "with the D.C. money shut off, the Wall Street money shut off" and with "no PAC money."
• NY-21: Here's the thing with Mitt Romney endorsements: They're almost always just press releases. Yes, Romney cut an ad for Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson, and he's occasionally sent fundraising appeals to his email list, but he's not exactly out there busting his hump. So while it might be a nice little check-box for Republican Elise Stefanik, earning Mittens' endorsement probably isn't going to mean much for her in practical terms.
• San Jose Mayor: San Jose is the largest city that will hold a mayoral election in 2014, and with the June 3 non-partisan primary rapidly approaching, we have our first poll of this open seat race in a long while. SurveyUSA tells us that Santa Clara County Supervisor and 2006 candidate Dave Cortese is favored to advance to the November general election, taking first with 26 percent. It isn't much of a surprise that Cortese stands out from the rest of the pack in this crowded race: He has extensive labor support and is the only serious contender who isn't an ally of outgoing Mayor Chuck Reed.
There's a lot more uncertainty about who will likely join Cortese in the general. SurveyUSA has City Councilor Sam Liccardo far ahead of Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen, leading her 20-11. However, SUSA only conducted the poll in English, which introduces a big potential complication. A large part of Nguyen's base is Vietnamese and many of her supporters may not speak English. We'll know soon enough if this is enough to make a difference. (Jeff Singer)
• Ads: Here's an interesting New York Times profile of Mark Putnam, the Democratic strategist behind Alaska Sen. Mark Begich's excellent ads this year and North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp's in 2012.
• Deaths: Former Democratic Rep. Bill Roy, who very nearly defeated Kansas Sen. Bob Dole in 1974 thanks to the shadow of Watergate, has died at the age of 88. Had Dole not escaped in a 51-49 squeaker, he'd have been the only Sunflower State Republican to lose a Senate race since the New Deal era, and he likely would never have been named as Gerald Ford's running mate two years later.