Republican Sen. John McCain
• AZ-Sen: PPP surveys both the GOP primary and general elections in Arizona, and let's just say they don't exactly bring good news for John McCain.
McCain, who is seeking a sixth term, has never had a great relationship with his party's base, and he posts a terrible 41-50 approval rating with GOP primary voters. So far McCain doesn't have a credible intra-party challenge, but PPP takes a look at a few hypothetical matchups. While McCain's ahead in all of them, his leads are not robust:
• 40-39 vs. Rep. David Schweikert
• 42-40 vs. Rep. Matt Salmon
• 44-31 vs. state Sen. Kelli Ward
• 48-27 vs. 2014 gubernatorial candidate Christine Jones
It's never a good sign for an incumbent to be far from 50 percent against lesser-known primary opponents, especially when a majority of your own party's voters already say they don't like you.
Still, there are a few problems for anti-McCain Republicans. Arizona doesn't have a runoff, so if two or more notable candidates go up against the incumbent, they could split the vote enough to secure him renomination with just a plurality. Ward hasn't committed to anything but she has formed an exploratory committee, and she might not be willing to get out of the way if a stronger contender gets in.
What's more, she's also barely known (she has a 12-15 statewide favorable rating) and she hasn't exactly impressed well-funded conservative groups who'd like to unseat McCain. (Last year, Ward held a hearing focusing on whether non-existent "chemtrails" are poisoning the air, an idea that's only embraced by conspiracy theorists.) Ward simply might not be strong enough to beat even a weak McCain, who is still a formidable campaigner.
In a perfect world for anti-McCain forces, Ward would stay out and Salmon would get in. After spending months showing little interest in taking on the incumbent, Salmon has started to change his tune a bit, recently telling The Hill "I'm not saying that I'm in. I'm not saying that I'm not in." Salmon, who served as the GOP's unsuccessful 2002 gubernatorial nominee, already has a healthy 40-12 favorability score with primary voters, but who knows if he'll actually run.
If Salmon sits it out, don't expect his friend and fellow congressman, David Schweikert, to take his place. Schweikert hasn't officially said no, but he sounds extremely unlikely to pull the trigger. Schweikert recently said that his wife is against a Senate bid, and he "would like to keep her around." Christine Jones also seems more interested in running for the House, which is just as well for her given how poorly she polls here.
So far, no credible Democrats have shown much interest in running in conservative Arizona, but PPP finds that Team Blue would have a good chance to put this Senate seat in play whether or not McCain advances to November. Head below the fold for more.
McCain is even more unpopular with the general electorate than he is with his own party, sporting an ugly 36-51 statewide approval score. PPP tested him against 2012 Senate nominee Richard Carmona, 2014 gubernatorial nominee Fred DuVal, and Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick and Kyrsten Sinema.
• McCain 40, Carmona 34
• McCain 40, DuVal 36
• McCain 42, Kirkpatrick 36
• McCain 42, Sinema 36
They also tested McCain's potential primary foes against just Carmona:
• Jones 36, Carmona 42
• Salmon 43, Carmona 35
• Schweikert 39, Carmona 39
• Ward 36, Carmona 39
While McCain leads all comers by 4-6 points, he's stuck at around 40 percent. Democrats haven't won a Senate seat in the Grand Canyon State since Dennis DeConcini was re-elected in 1988, but Carmona only lost 49-46 in 2012 while Mitt Romney was carrying Arizona 53-44. A combination of an unpopular incumbent and a better Democratic performance at the top of the ticket could give Democrats the chance to score an upset here. However, as PPP points out, the undecideds in these matchups strongly lean Republican, so the eventual GOP nominee should be able to make up some ground.
Right now, it's far from clear who Democrats will be able to land. Carmona hasn't announced anything publicly one way or another about his 2016 plans. DuVal recently said he wanted to run statewide, but he didn't say what office or what cycle he was thinking about. (Businesswoman Nan Walden, who was not tested in this poll, has also been name-dropped, but she's also been silent about her intentions.)
As for Reps. Kirkpatrick and Sinema, they've been quiet about their Senate aspirations, but their allies say they're waiting on the outcome of a key U.S. Supreme Court decision this summer that could invalidate the state's independent redistricting commission. If the court allows the GOP legislature to redraw the congressional lines, either or both members are likely to wind up in redder seats, and a Senate campaign would look a lot more appealing.
We haven't seen any other recent polling of either the GOP primary or general, so we can't make any definitive conclusions about McCain's strength. If PPP is right, McCain is in real danger of being denied renomination, and Team Red could very well lose this seat in November with or without him. However, McCain proved in his dominant 2010 primary victory that he's more than capable of exploiting his opponent's weakness, and we can never count him out. Arizona is also still a red state, and Democrats have had trouble making inroads here for the last several cycles. But if the right candidates show up, it looks like we're in for an intense contest next year.
• FL-Sen, 06: The Associated Press reports that Rep. Ron DeSantis will kick off his campaign on Wednesday, which will make him the first credible Republican in the race. DeSantis is close to well-funded anti-establishment groups like the Club For Growth, so he should have the financial firepower to get through the primary. DeSantis is very unlikely to have the field to himself though, with several other Republicans mulling bids. DeSantis' departure from the House could set off a crowded GOP primary in his coastal seat, which includes St. Augustine and Daytona Beach, but it should stay red at Romney 58-41.
• IL-Sen: Though much of Illinois' Democratic establishment has expressed support for Rep. Tammy Duckworth's Senate bid, the National Journal's Andrea Drusch reports that some African-American leaders (and former Obama chief of staff Bill Daley) are trying to recruit a black candidate into the race. Interestingly, they're focused on Chicago Urban League CEO Andrea Zopp, whose name has surfaced only recently, rather than Rep. Robin Kelly, who's been weighing a bid for months.
Zopp sounds quite eager, saying she's currently polling the contest and "if that poll comes out positive, then I have every strong expectation that I am going to get into the race." But she's a political unknown and would start off with a deficit against Duckworth in both name recognition and money. It's also not clear just how much enthusiasm there is for a primary fight. The only Zopp supporter Drusch even cites by name is Daley, who thinks Democrats would be "idiots" not to nominate an African American lest turnout among black voters suffer—concerns that Zopp herself waved off. If she has other backers, though, they apparently aren't speaking up yet.
• KY-Gov: The May 19 Kentucky GOP gubernatorial primary may be one for the books. Last week, we learned that a blogger named Michael Adams was accusing state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer of violent abusing his girlfriend in college, but he did not provide any evidence. Comer denied the allegations and threatened legal action after it was revealed that Adams had been in communication with primary rival Hal Heiner's campaign. It looked like Heiner was part of a smear campaign that was about to backfire... until Monday night. Marilyn Thomas, who says she dated Comer in college in the early 1990s, wrote a letter to the Courier-Journal claiming that Comer physically and mentally abused her, and took her to get an abortion.
Thomas says that a paper proving the abortion took place is in a bank lock box that she doesn't have immediate access to, but Thomas' college roommate is backing up her story. The roommate recalls that Thomas would frequently return home with bruises, and that Thomas would always claim they were from accidents. Thomas' mother also says that Comer once called her home one morning and "he said something about your daughter's going to be killed. ... It was something like that." However, Comer's old college roommate says that he never saw any abusive behavior from the candidate at all.
Comer's camp is denying everything, and his lawyer is promising a "devastating lawsuit" against the Courier-Journal. In a Tuesday press conference, Comer denied all of Thomas' allegations and said that "[a]ll legal options are on the table." Needless to say, this is an ugly situation and there's no way to know what will happen next. But it's safe to say that one way or another, this story will define the final two weeks of the race between Comer, Heiner, and tea partying businessman Matt Bevin.
• FL-09: With Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson continuing to flirt with a Senate bid, potential candidates are laying the groundwork to succeed him in the House. Obama won this Orlando-area seat 62-37, and most of the action is expected to be on the blue side.
State Sen. Darren Soto has already said that he'll run for this seat if Grayson leaves, and Susannah Randolph, the congressman's district director, is also eyeing the contest. Randolph told Politico that "I wouldn't say I'm interested. Yeah, I'd consider it for sure." However, Dena Minning, who runs MedExpert Consulting and is also Grayson's girlfriend, is also reportedly mulling a bid behind-the-scenes. Minning has yet to say anything publicly and both Soto and Randolph indicated that they had no idea she was considering until Politico asked them. On Monday, Grayson said he'd decide on his Senate plans "in the next 30 days," so we shouldn't need to wait too long to find out if we'll have a primary fight here.
• FL-18: On Tuesday, former state Rep. and 2014 GOP nominee Carl Domino announced he would once again run for this light red seat. Domino lost to Democratic incumbent Patrick Murphy (who is vacating this seat to run for Senate) by a brutal 60-40 margin despite having a wave at his back, so the NRCC isn't exactly going to be jumping for joy. But in fairness to Domino, Murphy's strong campaign seems to have done more to defeat the Republican than any actual mistakes he made. In fact, Domino did run a pretty good ad, so maybe he can do better with national party support and no Murphy to worry about.
Domino says he's willing to spend another $1 million of his own money this cycle, so it could help him in a primary. Right now, Domino will only face Martin County School Board Member Rebecca Negron, though state Rep. Pat Rooney is expected to announce his plans soon, and other Republicans are mulling the contest.
• IL-18: State Sen. Darin LaHood looks like he'll have an easy time in the July 7 primary against political consultant and Breitbart News editor Mike Flynn, but he's taking no chances. LaHood tells Roll Call that he's raised $500,000 since getting into the race in mid-March, a very solid sum. This seat is heavily Republican, and LaHood should have little trouble holding it for Team Red in the Sept. 10 special.
But the eventual winner should probably hold off on inviting ex-Rep. Aaron Schock to his swearing in. Schock resigned from this seat in disgrace after the world found out about his habit of billing taxpayers for his luxurious life, and possibly charging the government thousands of dollars for phony millage reimbursements. As Politico reminds us, Schock is legally required to fill out a financial disclosure statement within 50 days of leaving office... which he hasn't done. A grand jury is looking into his practices in office, and campaign donors are accusing him of misusing their money.
But if you're hoping to ask Schock for his side of the story, good luck: An attorney for one of the donors has filed court documents saying he can't find the ex-congressman. Schock quickly let off a snarky tweet geotaged from Illinois, so whatever he's doing, at least he's not hiking the Appalachian Trail.
• NJ-02: This South Jersey seat has frustrated Democrats for a long time. Obama carried this district 54-45, but GOP incumbent Frank LoBiondo has always won with ease. Democrats ran a credible candidate last cycle, but LoBiondo still dominated 62-37. Local and national Democrats believe that state Sen. Jeff Van Drew can put this district on the map, and PolitickerNJ reports that the DCCC is "actively recruiting" him. Van Drew confirms he's met with DCCC staffers, but all he would say about his plans is that he's "honored they would consider me," but that he's focusing on this year's local Assembly race.
Landing Van Drew would be a huge recruiting coup for the DCCC, but we shouldn't hold our breath. Van Drew has said no to House bids in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014. Van Drew may be waiting for LoBiondo, who is about to turn 69, to retire. But while LoBiondo's fundraising has been weak this year, there's no indication that he's ready to call it quits. We'll see what happens, but it may be too much to hope that Van Drew makes the jump this time after staying put for the last five cycles.
• Philadelphia Mayor: State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams is out with another ad, this time going negative against ex-Councilor Jim Kenney, hitting Kenney over a quote he gave in 1997 complaining about restrictions on what the police can do. It's a little surprising that Williams is releasing a negative ad from his own campaign (instead of staying positive and relying on his Super PAC friends to smack Kenney), but the subject matter is consistent with his campaign's previous ad, where one of his selling points was his stance against police brutality. It's a potentially effective ad, but the size of the buy is only $40,000, so it won't be seen much.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir and Jeff Singer, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, and Taniel.