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• NY-LG: Now this would be damn fun for progressives who have a beef with Gov. Andrew Cuomo—or in other words, pretty much everyone on the left. Activist and fundraiser Bill Samuels says he's "leaning toward" a run for lieutenant governor against Cuomo's new hand-picked choice for running mate, ex-Rep. Kathy Hochul. In New York, the lieutenant governor is nominated separately from the governor, but the two run together on a single ticket in the fall in a so-called "shotgun marriage" arrangement. And Samuels, who earlier this year said Cuomo should seek re-election as a Republican, would make a very awkward spouse for the incumbent.
While Cuomo would obviously go all-out for Hochul, Samuels would have much greater appeal to voters in a Democratic primary than the conservative Hochul, who's already been trying to walk back her anti-immigration views and still has giant flashing neon "A" rating from the NRA to deal with. What's more, Hochul's from Buffalo whereas Samuels is from New York City, where most primary votes are cast, so a Samuels victory would not be out of the question.
And if he were to win, it would create a terrible complication for Cuomo. The Independence Party, a mostly fake organization that typically sells its appealingly named ballot line to the highest bidder, has already nominated Cuomo and Hochul. But under New York's fusion voting system, ballots cast for a Cuomo/Samuels ticket on the Democratic line could not be consolidated with those case for Cuomo/Hochul on the Independence line, meaning Cuomo would have to spurn the IP (and Hochul) and encourage people to vote for him as a Democrat. That in turn could lead to the IP failing to get the 50,000 votes it would need to stay on the ballot for the next four years, a nifty bit of collateral damage.
More importantly, a Samuels victory would mean that Cuomo's second-in-command would be a fierce detractor of his. New York's lieutenant governorship is traditionally quite powerless, and Cuomo would do his best to marginalize Samuels. But Samuels would still have a pretty prominent perch from which to criticize Cuomo from the left, and the press would probably enjoy covering such a searing, ongoing schism. Indeed, Samuels could become the pole star to New York's progressive movement, which is badly in need of one. And Andrew Cuomo would have an unceasing problem on his hands for the next four years. What's not to like?
• AK-Sen: Whoops. In a previous ad, Republican former Attorney General Dan Sullivan took to the rooftops to criticize Democratic Sen. Mark Begich for not achieving results. Too bad that rooftop was the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center, which Begich helped usher into existence during his time as mayor of Anchorage.
Begich wastes little time milking Sullivan's poor choice of venue. In a new ad, Begich stands atop the very same civic center and touts his work in getting it built. Begich then goads Sullivan further, listing off "some more nice places Dan could use in his next ad"—places that Begich has all aided in one way or another.
Meanwhile, two conservative groups are taking to the air. The Club for Growth has another version of the parrot ad it recently used against Sen. Mark Pryor in Arkansas, with a parrot watching clips of Obama and Begich giving variations of the "You can keep it" health insurance promise and parroting them back. The ad is identical apart from replacing footage of Pryor with Begich. Expect to see this ad used against other Democrats in competitive races. (I guess that poor bird must have nothing to do but watch C-SPAN all the time.)
Crossroads GPS also hits Begich over the unfolding Veterans Affairs scandal. Their spot attacks Begich for allegedly doing nothing to solve the problem, and for the poor conditions in the Anchorage VA office. (Jeff Singer)
• AR-Sen: Republican Rep. Tom Cotton goes positive in a new ad where he touts his deep roots to his hometown of Dardanelle. Cotton promises to stay connected to his roots and put Arkansas first, a radical departure from all the politicians who promise to move to Northern Virginia the second they get elected.
Americans for Prosperity also has a pro-Cotton ad. It praises Cotton for standing up for Arkansas and conservative principles and embodying the state's values of "hard work and straight talk". Honestly, I wonder which states value laziness and bullshit. (Jeff Singer)
• GA-Sen: Former Secretary of State Karen Handel, the third-place finisher in last week's GOP Senate primary, has now endorsed Rep. Jack Kingston in the July 22 runoff. It's a pretty unsurprising move, considering that Kingston's runoff opponent David Perdue publicly insulted Handel as a mere "high school graduate" who was too unsophisticated to serve in the Senate. And to the extent any of Handel's supporters care about whom she gives her support to, it could help Kingston in the metro Atlanta area, a geographic base Handel shares with Perdue.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a new ad for Kingston starring former NFL star Herschel Walker, who was a running back for the University of Georgia in the early 1980s. Walker says some nice, if vague, things about Kingston and concludes with, "That's why I'm on his team, and I hope you will be too." (David Nir & Jeff Singer)
• IA-Sen: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce touts GOP frontrunner state Sen. Joni Ernst's biography in a new ad as the June 3 primary looms. Businessman Mark Jacobs, who looks like Ernst's main primary rival, also has a pair of new ads. In the first he touts his business experience and in the second spot he calls for a balanced budget amendment. (Jeff Singer)
• KY-Sen: Republican pollster Wenzel Strategies, apparently surveying on its own behalf, has found a 47-44 lead for Mitch McConnell over Alison Grimes, compared to a 43-42 McConnell edge back in February. That's a touch more positive for the incumbent than his recent averages, but don't forget that Wenzel has a truly awful track record and their 2012 polls leaned heavily to the right.
• MI-Sen, -Gov: We've got a pair of new polls out of Michigan, one from EPIC-MRA and one from the Glengariff Group, both on behalf of local media. In the Senate race, EPIC finds Democratic Rep. Gary Peters leading Republican former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land 44-38, a reversal from a 41-38 Land edge back in February. Glengariff's survey is their first, and they show Peters up by a similar margin, 40-35, albeit with more undecideds.
The picture in the governor's race is the reverse, with GOP Gov. Rick Snyder sporting sizable leads on Democratic ex-Rep. Mark Schauer. He's up 47-38 per EPIC, little changed from his 47-39 lead last time, while Glengariff similarly has Snyder on top 45-35. Both polls feature a 15-point net spread between the two Democrats, Peters and Schauer, which would imply a very high degree of crossover voting this fall if these numbers are accurate and if these trends hold. Snyder's tried hard to define himself as a "different kind of Republican," but this kind of spread won't be easy to sustain.
Certainly Snyder doesn't seem to be getting much help from Land, who really seems to struggle when she has to go off script. Check out this latest bit of hilarity:
Later, during a question and answer session, an attendee asked Land what she thought about "net neutrality" -- the idea that Internet service providers should treat all data the same without favoring media companies willing to pay for bandwidth access.
"I think the Internet should be free," Land said. "It is a great source of information. I'm on Twitter and a fan of Twitter. I think that's a very important part of this. It's a way to actually interact with the community."
Asked to clarify her position, Land later explained that she was not proposing free national broadband access. "I think it's important that the costs don't go up so people can have access to the Internet," she told reporters.
Oof. Land clearly had no idea what she was being asked about, and she's
going to need all the help she can get. Some additional support did just show up on Wednesday, with a pair of new ads from conservative outside groups. One, from Joe Ricketts' Ending Spending, attacks Peters
for opposing the Keystone pipeline and for voting "to benefit special interests like Tom Steyer, a billionaire who has, quote, 'made killing Keystone a non-negotiable demand.' " That's the second spot we've now seen trying to Koch-ify Steyer, after an earlier one from Land herself
Americans for Prosperity, meanwhile, sticks with its usual formula and tries to tar Peters on Obamacare. It's very similar to a recent ad they aired against Mary Landrieu, and even begins with virtually the same line: "Michigan women understand: It's tough to make ends meet."
• MN-Sen: State Sen. Julianne Ortman has a new spot where she ties in the fact that she's a runner with how she's running for office. The GOP primary isn't until Aug. 12, but the party's two-day state convention begins Friday. The convention could help winnow the Republican field in the race to take on Democratic Sen. Al Franken, and Ortman wants to go into the weekend with some momentum. (Jeff Singer)
• MS-Sen: This is just some very weird behavior by both Chris McDaniel and Thad Cochran. McDaniel couldn't or wouldn't tell CNN when he first learned of the break-in at the nursing home where Cochran's bedridden wife lives, and Cochran staffers pulled a bait-and-switch on reporter Dana Bash, sneaking their boss out a side-door after a Memorial Day event so that he could avoid the cameras. This is a seriously frick-and-frack campaign on both sides.
Meanwhile, the Club for Growth is airing a new ad contrasting Cochran with McDaniel. In short, Cochran has spent decades in Washington being insufficiently conservative while McDaniel is part of a new generation of conservative leaders. For some reason, something that sounds like xylophone music is playing in the background. (David Nir & Jeff Singer)
• NH-Sen: Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has a positive spot where New Hampshire citizens tout her various local accomplishments. (Jeff Singer)
• VA-Sen: Democratic Sen. Mark Warner has a minute long ad that heavily focuses on his accomplishments as governor and in the Senate. It emphasizes his business background and bipartisan style. (Jeff Singer)
• GA-Gov: The RGA must be taking all those polls showing a tight race between GOP Gov. Nathan Deal and Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter seriously, because they've started reserving ad time in Georgia. The full scope of their buy isn't known yet, but reporter Greg Bluestein has spotted some reports in the FCC's public inspection files (which all stations are now required to post online), and he expects more to come.
• RI-Gov: State Treasurer Gina Raimondo is the first candidate to air an ad in the Democratic primary, with a minute long piece talking about her father, who recently died. Raimondo recounts how he lost his industrial job when he was 56 but started all over. She describes how she drew courage from his bravery while she was dealing with states' pension problems, and she promises to rebuild Rhode Islands' manufacturing "because he taught me how important that is." (Jeff Singer)
• SC-Gov: Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen airs his first spot, starring Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, who attacks Republican Gov. Nikki Haley over failures by the state Department of Social Services to help child abuse victims. Lott promises that Sheheen will "clean up Nikki Haley's mess and protect our children." The ad is part of a statewide six-figure buy. (Jeff Singer)
• CA-07: House Majority PAC goes on the air attacking former Republican Rep. Doug Ose, depicting him as caring more about his own pay than combat veterans. Ose is seen as the strongest of Democratic Rep. Ami Bera's three Republican challengers, and House Majority PAC may be hoping if they damage him enough, the GOP will select former congressional aide Igor Birman on Tuesday instead. (Jeff Singer)
• CA-17: Ro Khanna has another new ad out ahead of California's June 3 top-two primary, and he wants you to know how he looks to the future while incumbent and fellow Democrat Mike Honda is stuck in the past. In other words, Khanna wants you to know that Mike Honda is old. (Jeff Singer)
• CO-06: Maybe Mitt Romney didn't like me ragging on him the other day for his habit of issuing press release-only endorsements, because he actually headlined a fundraiser for GOP Rep. Mike Coffman in Denver on Tuesday. The money better be worth it for Coffman, though, seeing as Romney actually lost the 6th District by 5 points.
• HI-01: A new Merriman River poll of the Democratic primary in Hawaii's 1st Congressional District finds that it's still mainly a two-way race between state Senate President Donna Mercado Kim and state Rep. Mark Takai. Kim leads Takai 30-24, with four other candidates all in single digits and 23 percent undecided; in February, she had a similar 25-20 edge. Kim and Takai have also led the field in fundraising.
• NJ-03: A Tarrance Group poll for the American Action Network finds Tom MacArthur beating Steve Lonegan 43-30 in next week's GOP primary, which is not too different from a recent Monmouth survey that put MacArthur up 46-35. Democrats have been trying to meddle in the primary to boost the crazier Lonegan, but if this poll is accurate, it'll be hard to change the outcome in what little time's left.
• NY-11: Politico's new interview with indicted GOP Rep. Mike Grimm offers plenty of grist, but here's the best part:
Asked if he is innocent of the criminal charges, Grimm paused for four seconds, then chuckled softly.
"You know, uh. It depends on what you're asking me of," he said.
"But I'll tell you this," he continued. "What I'm guilty of is trying the hardest and giving 100 percent of myself and putting my heart and soul into representing the people of Staten Island and Brooklyn. But I do believe when all is said and done, I will be exonerated and I think the people that supported me will be proud that they did."
"Your honor, the jury finds Michael Grimm guilty on one count of trying the hardest and one count of giving 100 percent" is not actually something that the congressman can look forward to hearing in federal court.
• Texas: Here's a quick recap of all the results from the Texas runoffs Tuesday night, with our race ratings appended at the end of each writeup:
• TX-04 (R)
: Rep. Ralph Hall became the first House incumbent to lose a renomination bid this cycle—and, remarkably, the first Republican in Texas history
to do so. Hall fell to former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe, who'd been endorsed by the Club for Growth, by a 53-47 margin. (Safe R)
• TX-23 (R): Former CIA agent Will Hurd easily beat ex-Rep. Quico Canseco, 59-41, a reverse of the 2010 runoff that Canseco won. Hurd will go on to face freshman Democratic Rep. Pete Gallego. National Republicans don't seem excited about Hurd's chances despite the fact that Mitt Romney carried this district. (Lean D)
• TX-36 (R): Dentist Brian Babin crushed self-funding businessman Ben Streusand, 58-42, in this open race for Rep. Steve Stockman's seat. (Safe R)
• TX-Sen (D): Fortunately for Democrats, wealthy dentist David Alameel demolished LaRouchie lunatic Kesha Rogers 72-28. Alameel doesn't have much chance against GOP Sen. John Cornyn in the fall, but at least he spared his party the embarrassment of nominating Rogers, who wants to impeach and apparently execute Barack Obama. (Safe R)
• TX-LG (R): Incumbent David Dewhurst, who lost the 2012 Senate runoff to Ted Cruz, again went down to a humiliating and very predictable defeat. State Sen. Dan Patrick defeated Mtn. Dew 65-35, likely ending his political career.