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• NY-Gov: At an incredibly intense gathering on Saturday night, the Working Families Party voted to endorse Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo for re-election, handing him their ballot line by a 59-41 margin over law professor Zephyr Teachout. While most of the delegates rapturously embraced Teachout and lustily booed Cuomo (who only appeared at the convention by video and speaker phone), many of the WFP's constituent unions preferred to stick with the incumbent, who offered a number of concessions to win the party over.
Chief among them was Cuomo's promise to help return the state Senate to Democratic control, even though he's long preferred the GOP remain in charge. According to multiple reports, Cuomo will supposedly help create a $10 million fund for winning back the Senate, though of course, there are no enforcement mechanisms to ensure the governor actually follows through on this.
And the same is true for the various legislative priorities Cuomo also pledged to support, which include increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 and indexing it for inflation; passing the state-level DREAM Act to provide tuition for the children of undocumented immigrants; enacting the Women's Equality Act, which enhances protections for reproductive freedoms and helps ensure pay equity; and campaign finance reform, with public financing of elections.
Seeing as Cuomo has now publicly targeted Senate leadership—insisting as well that the renegade Democrats of the IDC return to the fold or face consequences—there's virtually no chance that any of this legislation can pass this year. So this is all a giant bet on 2015, and the only things holding this deal together are the reputations of Cuomo and the leaders of the big unions who wanted to back him.
But in 2010, Cuomo also claimed he wanted a Democratic majority in the Senate, and he's already getting squirrely on the minimum wage. He's even acting squishy about which Democratic Senate candidates he'll support, saying:
This is about electing people who support an agenda. I also will oppose Democrats who will oppose the things we try to pass. [...] It's not as easy as all Democrats are good, all Republicans are bad, or vice versa.
So the Working Families Party has decided to trust a guy who's proven himself inherently untrustworthy, but even so, that choice may have been better than the alternatives. If Cuomo actually lives up to his word, progressives will score some major victories and New York politics will change dramatically, and perhaps permanently. But right now, that's the biggest "if" in American politics.
• GA-Sen: Is Georgia's political establishment rallying around Rep. Jack Kingston in the runoff? Just a few days after Karen Handel, who finished third in the GOP primary, endorsed Kingston, Rep. Tom Price is also joining the Kingston bandwagon. Price, the vice chair of the powerful House Budget Committee, is an influential figure, and he was also much-discussed as a potential Senate candidate himself long ago, so his decision may serve as a signal to others.
• IA-Sen: At a GOP debate Thursday night, Joni Ernst was asked about the appropriateness of her campaign ad in which she repeatedly fires a pistol while a narrator describes her as "unloading" on Obamacare, in light of the recent mass shooting at UC Santa Barbara. Ernst's response was just wow:
"I would not—no. This unfortunate accident happened after the ad, but it does highlight that I want to get rid of, repeal, and replace Bruce Braley's Obamacare," Ernst replied, referring to a Democratic Senate candidate. "And it also shows that I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. That is a fundamental right."
Ernst didn't seem to do herself too many favors in general
The state senator said she would have voted against the farm bill, named the Clean Water Act as one of the most damaging laws for business and embraced private accounts for young workers paying into Social Security.
It's not just that she expressed support for Social Security privatization, which is damaging enough. It's that none of her staffers and consultants had the sense to steer her away from this dangerous landmine—or maybe they thought she had to drive right over it in a GOP debate. That's not to mention her opposition to the farm bill, which even Steve King supports. Either way, she owns 'em now.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce continues to go all-in for Ernst ahead of Tuesday's primary. Mitt Romney stars in a new ad saying what essentially every single other pro-Ernst ad has said: She's a mother, soldier, and conservative. (David Nir & Jeff Singer)
• KY-Sen: Rasmussen: Mitch McConnell (R-inc): 48, Alison Grimes (D): 41 (Jan.: 42-42).
• MS-Sen: A last-minute survey of Tuesday's GOP primary from Republican pollster Harper Polling finds Sen. Thad Cochran with a 45-40 edge on state Sen. Chris McDaniel, a big change from early April when Cochran was up 52-35. At the same time, a poll from conservative website Red Racing Horses gives Cochran an even narrower 42-41 edge.
A couple of recent polls from groups that have endorsed McDaniel have given him small leads, so it's hard to say where this race really stands with just a day to go. If no candidate takes 50 percent (which could happen if Some Dude Thomas Carey peels off just enough of votes), the race will proceed to a June 24 runoff.
And in one last blast, Citizens United shelled out about $100,000 for an ad starring Rick Santorum, who praises McDaniel. Santorum did well in the state's 2012 presidential primary so maybe his endorsement carries some weight here.
• NC-Sen: Conservative think tank Civitas has a new poll of the North Carolina Senate race from National Research, but as Stephen Wolf notes, the survey included a terribly leading question just before the horserace matchup:
And if the election for U.S. Senate and Congress were being held today, would you rather…
Elect a Republican who will be a check and balance to President Obama's policies and programs [or]
Elect a Democrat who will support President Obama's programs and policies.
Come on. Thom Tillis and the Kochs are obviously trying to tie Sen. Kay Hagan to Obama at every opportunity, but she, of course, is seeking to carve out her own independent identity. This branding struggle will be key to the outcome of this race, but Civitas clomps a fist down on the scale in favor of the GOP by framing the battle as already lost by Hagan.
Even so, Tillis only manages a 39-36 lead on Hagan, with Libertarian Sean Haugh pulling 8 percent of the vote and 15 percent saying they're undecided; in a two-way race, Tillis is up 46-41. By contrast, though, PPP had Hagan on top 38-36, with 11 percent for Haugh, and a 41-all tie between just Hagan and Tillis. But there really is just no good reason for Civitas to ask such an axe-grindy, tilted question, and as long they insist on doing so, it'll be hard to take their polling seriously.
And here's another big reservation from the DSCC, for $5.5 million in TV ad time from Sept. 16 through the election in North Carolina. We're going to try to keep track of ad reservations in this new spreadsheet (there are separate tabs for House and Senate), so if you learn of any that we're missing, please let us know.
• AR-Gov: Rasmussen: Asa Hutchinson (R): 48, Mike Ross (D): 41 (Feb.: 44-41 Ross).
• AZ-Gov: A group called Veterans for a Strong America is going after Republican candidate Christine Jones in a pretty odd ad. Their spot spends most of the time rehashing the conservative narrative about Benghazi and hitting Hillary Clinton, then ties Jones in at the end because she once said some nice things about Clinton. It's like a weird game of six degrees of Kevin Bacon: Benghazi Edition. The group is connected to an ally of Treasurer Doug Ducey, who is also running in this crowded primary. (Jeff Singer)
• MD-Gov: Maryland's June 24 primary is drawing ever closer and each of the three credible Democratic candidates has a new ad out. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, the primary frontrunner, attacks Attorney General Doug Gansler for saying that pre-kindergarten education can't be expanded to every child and for calling for reducing corporate taxes.
Gansler's spot hits Brown for skipping a recent debate. As ominous music sounds and images of the debate play out, the text of the ad (there is no narration) criticizes Brown and asks, "If Anthony Brown won't even show up in Baltimore to debate, how can we trust him to stand up for us as governor?" Attacking your opponent for ducking debates is a time-honored tradition, but it's often pretty hard to get voters to care about this kind of thing. As the Washington Post points out, this is the first time either Brown or Gansler have directly attacked one another in their ads.
Del. Heather Mizeur has largely been an afterthought in this contest, but she's hoping to change that with her first ad. It starts with Mizeur telling the viewer, "Standing up for what you believe in takes courage. Walking a picket line with my dad when I was 9 years old, I learned the importance of fighting for what's right." The narrator goes on to tout her accomplishments in the legislature before going back to Mizeur at the end. With the Brown-Gansler fight getting nasty, Mizeur seems to be hoping she can present herself as a fresh alternative in the last month of the race.
One other interesting detail about Mizeur's ad: The narrator notes that her plan for jobs and schools will be "paid for with revenue from the responsible regulation of marijuana." That's not a pledge you see very often in ads, even Democratic ones. (Jeff Singer)
• PA-Gov: Republican Gov. Tom Corbett actually managed to secure a union endorsement, from the 15,000-strong Laborers' District Council of Western Pennsylvania. However, construction and building trades unions have, for a variety of reasons, traditionally aligned with the GOP, so this isn't too surprising. An AFSCME official, meanwhile, says he expects his union to support Democrat Tom Wolf, so the world hasn't gone crazy.
• CA-17: The only recent poll we've seen of California's 17th District indicated that Republican physician Vanila Singh was too far behind Ro Khanna to have a shot at squeezing into second place in Tuesday's top-two primary, but hey, that was just one poll. It's possible the race is closer, which would explain why the labor-backed Working for Us PAC is meddling on Singh's behalf, with $67,000 in mailers explaining that Singh is "the right choice for Republicans."
• PA-06: A Tarrance Group internal for Republican Ryan Costello, chair of the Chester County Board of Commissioners, finds him leading Democratic physician Manan Trivedi 49-36. There are few other details available, beyond the fact that Barack Obama has a 54 percent disapproval rating among likely voters in the district.
• TN Ballot: Rather remarkably, in a 2000 decision, Tennessee's Supreme Court ruled that a "woman's right to terminate her pregnancy is a vital part of the right to privacy guaranteed by the Tennessee Constitution," finding a right to an abortion even stronger than what the U.S. Supreme Court described in Roe v. Wade. This ruling his since blocked most attempts by state lawmakers to restrict reproductive freedoms, but now anti-choice activists are seeking to override it by amending the state constitution.
The amendment will appear on the ballot this fall, but its fate is unclear. New polling from Vanderbilt University offers a very stark demonstration in how question framing can radically affect outcomes. When asked if they support "giving the state Legislature the constitutional authority to regulate abortions," only 23 percent of respondents said yes while 71 percent said no. But when asked if they're "pro-choice" or "pro-life," 50 percent identified as the former and 47 percent as the latter.
Ballot measures are often hard to poll, but this one will likely be more difficult than most. However, the pro-amendment forces are better-funded, and in conservative Tennessee, it's hard to be optimistic. (Hat-tip: Carolyn Fiddler.)
• Senate: The Concerned Veterans for America, a member of the Koch political empire, is going on the air with a six-state, six-figure ad campaign focusing on the troubles at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Washington Post has a copy of the Arkansas version of the spot: It describes the problems at the VA and accuses Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor of putting his loyalty to Obama ahead of veterans. The ads are also going up in Louisiana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Virginia, and, weirdly, Nevada (perhaps so they can argue that they're trying to pressure Harry Reid to enact change rather than just trying to help the Republicans). (Jeff Singer)