David Vitter attack ad against fellow Republican Jay Dardenne
• LA-Gov: Well, maybe GOP Sen. David Vitter really is worried that he won't take one of the top two spots in the Oct. 24 jungle primary. Vitter's super PAC has been airing a few negative spots against his intra-party rivals, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, but Vitter and his allies turned the dial up to 11 over the weekend.
Vitter's campaign is out with two new negative ads. Vitter portrays Dardenne as a liberal, arguing he voted for abortion and to raise taxes. The spot also accuses Dardenne of voting against preventing undocumented immigrants from coming into Louisiana. Vitter's anti-Angelle spot links the public service commissioner to Obama: The narrator points out that Angelle used to be a Democrat (he formally switched parties in late 2010), and argues that he raised taxes and voted "to expand the Obamaphone program, to give people on welfare free cell phones and free internet that you paid for."
Vitter's super PAC, Louisiana Future Fund, is also out with another negative commercial. Unlike past ads that targeted both Dardenne and Angelle at once, this one just focuses on Angelle and blames him for not doing enough to stop a sinkhole that ended up displacing 100 families. Vitter does have one new commercial that doesn't go after his foes, where he calls for changes in Louisiana's welfare programs. None of these ads mention state Rep. John Bel Edwards, who is positioned to consolidate the Democratic vote in October and advance to the November runoff.
Vitter and his super PAC have far more money than any of his rivals, but the senator doesn't have the airwaves to himself. Angelle's ad praises him for opposing the Obama administration's drilling moratorium after the 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill. Some recent polls show Angelle threatening Vitter's spot in the runoff. While other polls show both Angelle and Dardenne very far behind Vitter and Edwards, Vitter's new wave of negative spots suggests that he's worried about both Republicans.
• CO-Sen: While it sounds like the NRSC is about to get their preferred candidate, Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, another prospective Republican contender isn't deterred so far. State Sen. Tim Neville says he'll make his decision by mid-October.
Neville, who won a tight race in a swing seat last year, has a very conservative record in the legislature. A third Republican, rich guy Robert Blaha, also sounds likely to get in, and he could split whatever anti-establishment vote there is with Neville enough to secure the GOP nomination for Brauchler. The Colorado Independent also says that state Senate President Bill Cadman and state Senate Majority Leader Mark Scheffel are prospective candidates, but we haven't heard anything else about their Senate ambitions. The GOP nominee will face Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet in one of Team Red's few Senate pickup opportunities.
• FL-Sen: Among the many issues that Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson faces over the multiple hedge funds he owns and manages, chief among them is that he shouldn't even have 'em in the first place—at least, according to every expert who, citing House ethics rules, has weighed in on the subject. Grayson's steadfastly refused to divest himself of his funds, though, insisting he's done no wrong. But he did just cave on one issue: He's changed the name of his investment company, the Grayson Fund Management Company, to Sibylline Fund Management.
That's because the House rules also forbid members from using their names in connection with such businesses. Of course, a Grayson spokesman claimed once again that his boss did "nothing wrong," but says that "it's easier to change the name than to argue about it." This is sort of the political equivalent of pointing and shouting, "Hey, look over there!" while running off in the other direction. But if the House Ethics Committee decides to investigate either of the two complaints filed over Grayson's funds, this stunt is, safe to say, not likely to work.
P.S. "Sibylline" is either a reference to an ancient Greek collection of oracular utterances known as the Sibylline Books, or a later work called the Sibylline Oracles, "a miscellaneous collection of Jewish and Christian portents of future disasters."
• NC-Sen: On Monday, Spring Lake Mayor Chris Rey became the first Democrat to enter the race against Republican Sen. Richard Burr. Spring Lake is a small community and Rey starts out with minimal name recognition. But Rey, a veteran who earned a Bronze Star, has a good profile, and he may have the connections he needs to raise serious money. Several other Tar Heel State Democrats are considering getting in.
• PA-Sen: Republican pollster Harper Polling's new Pennsylvania survey shows a massive collapse for GOP Sen. Pat Toomey ... is what we'd write if we were mendacious fools. But it is true that Harper's gaudy May numbers for the incumbent are no more: In a matchup with Democratic ex-Rep. Joe Sestak, Toomey now leads 47-37; four months ago, he was up 53-32. That brings Harper much closer to where Quinnipiac has seen the race, though we've been wondering whether Quinnipiac is finding a much more Republican electorate than is plausible.
Harper also says that former state environmental secretary Katie McGinty trails Toomey by a wide margin, too, 48-34. Establishment Democrats seem to think she's more electable than Sestak, but given her limited name recognition, such a finding has yet to show up in the polls. The survey did not test Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, who recently entered the Democratic primary.
In the primary, Harper puts Sestak up 40-30 on McGinty, with the remainder undecided. Again, no Fetterman.
• DE-Gov: Democratic Rep. John Carney announced his gubernatorial bid last week, and it didn't take long for both of Delaware's U.S. senators, Tom Carper and Chris Coons, to get behind him. Termed-out Gov. Jack Markell, who narrowly beat Carney in the 2008 primary, has also made it clear that he wants his old rival to succeed him. New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon has made noises about getting in but he's been quiet since Carney kicked off his bid, and he might decide it's better not to take on the Delaware Democratic establishment.
• IN-Gov: Tom Sugar, a longtime top aide to ex-Sen. Evan Bayh, announced on Monday that he would not challenge GOP incumbent Mike Pence next year. Sugar's move comes as a surprise: About a week ago, he strongly hinted that he was about to jump in. Sugar's statement doesn't leave much ambiguity about why he's not going for it though:
At the same time, the Indiana Democratic Party and many of its key financial supporters did all they could to discourage my campaign, fearing a primary challenge to John Gregg. I believe this is wrongheaded and hope to live long enough to see the day when Hoosier Democrats begin to behave like winners, confident enough to welcome new leaders, new energy and new ideas. Sadly, it doesn't appear this will be the case in 2016.
Sugar was the last notable Democrat who was making any noises about challenging 2012 nominee John Gregg in the primary. Gregg has been consolidating support and raising money over the last few months, and he should now have little trouble winning his party's nomination again.
• KY-Gov: Democrat Jack Conway is out with a new spot that pushes back on the GOP's attempts to tie him to the Obama administration. Conway's narrator praises the candidate for standing up to the EPA to protect Kentucky coal jobs. The ad concludes with Conway saying how important coal is to Kentucky, and with a promise that he'll "stand up to anybody to keep people working here."
• OR-Gov: Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who was elevated to the post earlier this year after Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned in disgrace, confirmed on Friday through a consultant that she'll run for the final two years of the current term in next year's special election. Brown had been raising money and setting up a campaign for some time, so the announcement pretty much just checks a box. A few prominent Democrats who'd had designs on a bid in 2018 (when Kitzhaber would have been term-limited) had thought about challenging Brown in the Democratic primary, but just about every notable contender has demurred. Meanwhile, Republicans have been hard-pressed to come up with a legitimate option; so far, only little-known physician Bud Pierce is running.
• VT-Gov: Former Lt. Gov. Doug Racine never seemed very enthusiastic about a third run for governor, so it comes as no surprise that he's instead endorsing ex-state Secretary of Transportation Sue Minter. Minter faces state House Speaker Shap Smith and ex-state Sen. Matt Dunne in the Democratic primary, but there may be room for one more contender. Back in June, well-known diplomat and former state Sen. Peter Galbraith expressed interest in getting in. While Galbraith has said little about his 2016 plans since then, the Rutland Herald reports that he's still considering it.
On the GOP side, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott is the establishment favorite against former Wall Street executive Bruce Lisman, and it doesn't sound like any other notable contenders will jump in. 2012 nominee Randy Brock and 2014 nominee Scott Milne both initially expressed interest in running, but they've now both talking about campaigning for Scott's open seat instead.
We don't have any horserace polls here, but the Castleton Polling Institute gives us a look at the candidates' favorability scores. Scott posts an insane 70-9 percent favorable rating, which explains why the GOP wanted him to run so badly. Smith has a solid 52-27 score, while Minter and Dunne are more anonymous at 39-13 and 39-19 respectively. Lisman clocks in at 36-23, though he may have the money to boost his image.
• WA-Gov: Port of Seattle Commissioner Bill Bryant may not be exciting, but influential Republicans are consolidating behind him. Ex-Sen. Slade Gorton joins ex-Gov. Dan Evans in Bryant's corner. Rep. Dave Reichert hasn't ruled out a bid against Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, but Gorton and Evans moves indicate that they expect him to stay out.
• AK-AL: Back in May, state Rep. Lance Pruitt talked about challenging longtime Rep. Don Young in the GOP primary, but he didn't sound like he was chomping at the bit to go for it. And sure enough, the Alaska Dispatch News reports that Pruitt has quietly filed to run for re-election instead. So far, Young doesn't have any credible primary foes: While 2010 Senate nominee Joe Miller and ex-Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell have been mentioned as possible contenders, they haven't made any obvious moves towards running.
• FL-23: It's hard to see Rep. and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz losing renomination over her support for the Obama administration's Iran deal, but Miami-Dade County School Board member Martin Karp is continuing to make noises about running. Karp tells the Sun-Sentinel that he expects to decide by Oct. 1 if he'll challenge Wasserman Schultz in the primary for this safely blue South Florida seat. Karp is worth about $3.8 million and he says he's willing to do some self-funding. Still, Wasserman Schultz is a very good fundraiser, and she won't struggle for money if she needs to fend off Karp.
• MN-02: On Sunday, Democratic state Rep. Rick Hansen announced that he would not run for this open swing seat. Two wealthy Democrats, health care executive Angie Craig and physician Mary Lawrence, are in, and state Rep. Joe Atkins is still considering.
On the GOP side, state Rep. Steve Drazkowski has also ruled out running. Local Republicans recently told Roll Call that they were afraid that Drazkowski was too conservative to win in a presidential year, so Team Red probably won't be sorry to lose him. The GOP doesn't have a viable candidate here yet, but other Minnesota Republicans are considering.
• MN-08: Rich guy Stewart Mills narrowly failed to unseat Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan last year, but he's made it no secret that he's looking to try again. Mills recently announced that he has formed an exploratory committee "with an eye to a possible mid-October announcement if everything comes together." Mills previously argued that Nolan only won because Sen. Al Franken was also carrying this Iron Range seat and that Nolan won't benefit from having a popular Minnesota Democrat at the top of the ticket in 2016. Of course, Obama won this district 52-46, and Mills can't count on a GOP wave boosting him again.
• NC-03: Anthony Tata didn't rule out a primary run against Republican Rep. Walter Jones when he resigned as North Carolina secretary of transportation in July, but he recently told The News & Observer that he's "not running for Congress this cycle and probably won't ever." Tata's probably never going to Congress no matter what anyway: The News & Observer reports that Tata may have forged a court order in 2007 to get out of supporting his daughter. Tata's decision to stay out of the contest is good news for former George W. Bush aide Taylor Griffin, who is hoping to unseat the unpredictable Jones next year.
• NH-01: To no one's shock, ex-Rep. Carol Shea-Porter has announced that she will once again challenge Republican incumbent Frank Guinta for this swing seat. This would be the fourth Guinta-Shea-Porter match: Guinta unseated her in 2010 and 2014, and she beat him in 2012. However, Guinta has more immediate worries. 2014 primary foe Dan Innis is preparing to face Guinta again, and the GOP establishment is convinced that a long-running campaign finance scandal has turned the congressman into damaged goods. Shea-Porter also doesn't have a clear path to the Democratic nomination. Businessman Shawn O'Connor has been running here for a while, and he hasn't been shy about self-funding his bid.
• TX-19: State Rep. Dustin Burrows has announced that he'll be staying out of the emerging contest for this safely red open Panhandle seat. So far, three notable Republicans have expressed interest in running to succeed retiring Rep. Randy Neugebauer, and plenty of others have been mentioned. Texas has an early Dec. 14 filing deadline, so things shouldn't take too long to take shape.
• MS-AG: Attorney General Jim Hood is the last statewide Democrat in the Deep South, and there's no guarantee that he'll defeat former assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst this fall. The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender takes a look at this contest and tells us that Hood launched his first negative ad last week, a sign that he's at least somewhat worried.
However, Hood has some big advantages. The state GOP doesn't appear to be doing much to help Hurst. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and state House Speaker Philip Gunn are devoting most of their attention towards legislative races and to defeating Initiative 42, a measure that would amend the state constitution to require public schools be fully funded. Gov. Phil Bryant has also only directed a paltry amount of his war chest towards aiding Hurst: There's speculation that Bryant is hoarding his campaign money so he can later convert it into his personal retirement fund.
Hood needs Democrats to turn out and he got some bad news when Some Dude Robert Gray won the gubernatorial nomination last month. But Initiative 42 could give Democrats something to get excited about, and help offset apathy towards Gray. Hood can't take anything for granted in a state this red, but it sounds like he still has the edge here in November.
• PA-AG: By all rights, it should be over for Democratic incumbent Kathleen Kane now: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in response to Kane's indictment on perjury charges, just suspended her license to practice law. According to the state's constitution, that ought to preclude her from serving as attorney general; it reads, in relevant part: "No person shall be eligible to the office of Attorney General except a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania."
However, the court was careful to note that its order "should not be construed as removing [Kane] from elected office." And technically speaking, she still is a member of the bar, albeit not one in good standing since her license was just pulled. That's probably not the kind of loophole that the authors of the Pennsylvania constitution were hoping to create.
Kane, as ever, is refusing to budge. She says she's reviewing the court's ruling and her attorney insists that there's "another side to this story that the public has never heard." But if that's the case, why haven't we heard it yet? Just post something on Facebook already. Anyhow, Kane still faces potential impeachment and removal by the legislature, no matter how many "likes" she gets.
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 Stephen Wolf.