Ohio Democratic Senate candidate Ted Strickland
• OH-Sen: Democrat Ted Strickland has unveiled his quarterly fundraising total, and his haul remains unimpressive. Strickland brought in just $971,000, far less than GOP Sen. Rob Portman's $2 million total during the same period. Portman holds an even scarier $11 million to $1.5 million cash on hand edge.
Portman has a well-earned reputation as a formidable fundraiser and he's had a four-year head start on Strickland, so there was never any real question that the former governor would be outspent. Still, Strickland just can't afford to be utterly buried on the airwaves next year if he wants to win. Recent polls from Quinnipiac and the Democratic group Harstad gave Strickland a 3-point lead, but he's going to have a hard time holding onto that if he doesn't have the resources to hit Portman or defend himself from the senator's attacks.
It doesn't help that Strickland is falling behind the benchmarks his own team set in late 2014 as he was mulling the race. Strickland hoped to raise a total of $4.5 million during the first six months of the year: He raised about $1,670,000 during that period, and this quarterly report demonstrates that he hasn't been making up for lost time.
It's unclear why Strickland is unable or unwilling to bring in more money, but it's a problem he needs to fix now. Outside groups will help Strickland, but it's up to him to do most of the heavy lifting. Ohio's 18 electoral votes are likely to be closely contested next year and even if Team Blue's presidential nominee narrowly carries the state, Portman's huge advertising edge only needs to buy him a few extra points for him to turn a narrow loss into a narrow win.
To make matter worse, Strickland faces a primary challenge from PG Sittenfeld. Sittenfeld has little name recognition and he doesn't have too much money, but he only needs to force Strickland to deplete some of his finite warchest to cause problems. Sittenfeld recently unveiled a TV spot that he reserved for Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate, and he aired two more during the festivities. Sittenfeld's first spot criticizes Strickland for refusing to debate him. Sittenfeld's second ad notes that Portman and Strickland have spent "nearly a combined four decades in Washington," while he portrays himself as a new leader who will tackle student loan debt.
• FL-Sen: Here's yet another issue with Alan Grayson's hedge funds: The congressman claims he hasn't received "one penny of compensation," even though documents he filed with the SEC say his funds receive "ongoing" management fees and incentive payments, according to a review by the Tampa Bay Times. So what's going on here? Grayson's campaign offered an incredible dodge, claiming that the fees "go to a corporate entity," not himself. Grayson himself added that "[a]n LLC is the fund manager."
This time, it looks like Mitt Romney was right: Limited liability corporations are people, my friend. The Times says that Grayson is listed as the LLC's sole officer, and other filings explain that "Alan Grayson and/or related family entities or persons are the sole members" of the LLC. Said an expert consulted by the paper, "Everything in these records suggests he's getting compensated."
That same expert did hold out the possibility that Grayson's funds didn't make any money, but as the Times notes in the same report, Grayson's investment vehicles operate on a classic "2-and-20" compensation structure. That means that the fund manager receives 2 percent of all funds under management each year, plus 20 percent of any profits over a certain threshold. These fees are a big part of the reason hedge funds are such a racket, because crappy managers still get paid even if they invest poorly and their investors lose money.
We have no idea how well Grayson's investments actually performed—that information is private unless he chooses to release it—but it's almost impossible for a fund manager not to make money under the 2-and-20 system. But more to the point, if Grayson isn't earning anything from these hedge funds, then why on earth is he running them in the first place?
P.S. In a move we've seen from other candidates (see our IL-Sen and OH-Sen bullets), Grayson also ran an ad during Tuesday night's Democratic presidential debate. Fitting his Florida-sized ego, Grayson takes credit for Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy's decision not to seek the House speakership. Is it just us, or does it look like MSNBC host Chris Hayes is chuckling in mild disbelief as Grayson explains himself?
• IL-Sen: Former Chicago Urban League head Andrea Zopp starts out as the underdog against Tammy Duckworth in the Democratic primary, and she used Tuesday's presidential debate to get her name out. Zopp aired three spots for the event that emphasizes her career as a prosecutor, businesswoman, and Chicago School Board member.
• IN-Sen: All three Republican candidates have released their quarterly totals. Rep. Todd Young continues to lead the pack, hauling in $720,000 and having $2.25 million in the bank. Fellow Rep. Marlin Stutzman raised $618,000 during this time, and he has $1.1 million on hand. Much of Stutzman's campaign team recently quit and while we don't know what happened behind-the-scenes, it doesn't look like fundraising was the reason for the shakeup.
Eric Holcomb, a former state party chair and senior aide to retiring Sen. Dan Coats, was originally hailed as a top-tier candidate who could raise the money he needs to get his name out. However, Holcomb brought in a mere $110,000, a figure that would be bad in a competitive House race. This total is actually worse than Holcomb's weak $200,000 haul last quarter.
Holcomb has many supporters in the state GOP and in the legislature, but they don't seem to be giving him much help. Holcomb has minuscule name recognition with primary voters and if he doesn't have the money to air ads, he's not going to change that. Holcomb's weaknesses are good news for Young, who also hails from the establishment wing of the party.
• NC-Sen: Democratic state Rep. Duane Hall has announced that he will not challenge Republican incumbent Richard Burr next year, and will run for re-election instead. Hall actually formed an exploratory committee in late July, but dithered on formally entering the race until now. Right now, Spring Lake Mayor Chris Rey is the only Democratic candidate; ex-Rep. Deborah Ross has signaled that she's getting in, while state Sen. Joel Ford is considering.
• KY-Gov: Democrat Jack Conway is out with another new spot attacking Republican Matt Bevin's for refusing to release his taxes. The ad goes positive in the second half, praising Conway for taking on Wall Street banks.
• LA-Gov: Early voting has started for the Oct. 24 jungle primary, and Triumph Campaigns takes another look at the field:
John Bel Edwards (D): 37 (35)
David Vitter (R): 27 (28)
Jay Dardenne (R): 15 (15)
Scott Angelle (R): 10 (10)
Triumph has found only incremental changes since their late September survey
. Triumph finds that Dardenne has eclipsed Angelle as Vitter's main Republican foe, but Dardenne has to make up a lot of ground in a very short time if he plans to deny Vitter a spot in the runoff. Other polls also give Vitter a double-digit lead
against both Republicans.
The pro-Vitter super PAC Fund for Louisiana's Future has alternated between attacking Dardenne and Angelle, and they're hitting both of them in four new spots. The anti-Angelle ad reminds viewers that he used to be a Democrat, and accuses him of supporting Obama in 2008. The narrator then says that Angelle used to be Gov. Bobby Jindal's "top lobbyist, helping pass Jindal's failures." Jindal is very unpopular in Louisiana, and attacking him isn't exactly a dangerous move even with Republican voters. The spot then accuses Angelle of not doing enough to stop a sinkhole. The Fund for Louisiana's Future also goes after Dardenne with three new ads (here, here, and here), assailing Dardenne as a liberal who wastes taxpayer money.
Vitter has his own commercial, starring his wife. Wendy Vitter praises the senator as someone who will stand up to the Baton Rouge politicians and highlights how he returned his congressional pension to the taxpayers. Vitter's 2007 prostitution scandal has been an unwelcome distraction for him during this race and while Wendy doesn't even hint at it, it's very unlikely that this commercial isn't meant as a response.
• CA-46: Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen filed with the FEC months ago, but he only announced that he would run for this open seat on Tuesday. Most of Nguyen's constituents live in the 47th District, so he probably won't start with much name recognition. But Nguyen works for AFSCME, so may be able to rally labor support.
Nguyen joins ex-state Sens. Lou Correa and Joe Dunn and Anaheim Councilman Jordan Brandman in the race for this safely blue seat. Correa seems to be emerging as the establishment favorite, though his second quarter fundraising total was weak; no one has unveiled their third quarter hauls yet.
• FL-09: On Tuesday, state Rep. Mike La Rosa announced that he would not run for this open seat. Obama carried the new version (pending final court approval) of this Orlando-area seat by 13 points, and La Rosa was probably the only Republican who could have put it into play in a presidential year. Kissimmee City Commissioner Wanda Rentas is running for Team Red, though she needs to prove that she can raise the type of money a Republican needs to raise to pull off an upset. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Darren Soto and Susannah Randolph, a former top aide to departing Rep. Alan Grayson, look like the frontrunners; self-described "biotechnology entrepreneur" Dena Minning (who is also Grayson's girlfriend) and ex-state Rep. Ricardo Rangel are also in the mix.
• MN-08: To no one's surprise, rich guy Stewart Mills has announced that he'll seek a rematch with Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan. Mills lost 49-47 during last year's GOP wave, but he insists that he was dragged down by Democratic victories in the gubernatorial and Senate contests. Obama carried this Iron Range seat 52-46: This isn't as strong as Sen. Al Franken's 54-42 win or Gov. Mark Dayton's 51-43 victory, but a better national climate could end up giving Nolan a boost.
• NJ-03: It's back to the drawing board for Democrats, as Assemblyman Troy Singleton has decided not to challenge freshman Republican Tom MacArthur. Obama won this South Jersey seat 52-47 but the area is ancestrally Republican, and MacArthur proved to be a formidable candidate last time around. However, this is exactly the kind of tough seat Democrats need to flip if they want any chance at retaking the House, and Team Blue can't allow MacArthur time to become entrenched.
• NY-01: Last quarter, Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst outraised venture capitalist and former prosecutor Dave Calone, but this time, it's Calone who's come out ahead. Calone took in $430,000 from July through September and has $820,000 cash-on-hand; Throne-Holst, meanwhile, raised $339,000 and has $783,000 banked. (It's not known yet if anyone self-funded.) Much of that money, however, will likely get spent on winning the Democratic nomination for the right to take on freshman GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin—though as Newsday notes, Throne-Holst, a registered member of the Independence Party, is not yet a Democrat.
• NY-19: Republican Bob Bishop, who owns a forage company, recently formed an exploratory committee as he mulls a run for this open swing seat. Bishop sounds decently well-connected in both the business and political worlds: Bishop used to lead the National Hay Association and the National Forage Testing Association, and he's served as a town councilor in Hamden and as a member of the Delaware County Republican Committee. If he gets in, Bishop will need to spend quite a bit to win his party's nod. Both ex-Assembly Minority Leader John Faso and businessman Andrew Heaney raised over $600,000 in the last three months, and Assemblyman Pete Lopez recently jumped into the primary.
• OH-08: On Tuesday, state Rep. Tim Derickson entered the race to succeed Speaker John Boehner in this safely red seat. Derickson will face state Sen. Bill Beagle and Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds in the primary, and several other Republicans are eyeing this seat. Like Reynolds, Derickson hails from Butler, which makes up half of the district: Beagle is counting on several Butler candidates splitting the area's vote while he does well in the northern part of the seat.
We also have another name to add to the list of prospective candidates. West Chester Twp. Trustee Lee Wong, who also lives in Butler County, says he's assembling a team ahead of a possible bid. If he gets in, Wong plans to emphasize undocumented immigration. Other Republicans who have expressed interest in running include fellow ex-Rep. Steve Austria; West Chester Twp. Trustee George Lang; state Rep. Ross McGregor; ex-state Rep. Seth Morgan; and state Sen. Chris Widener.
• TX-19: The race to succeed Rep. Randy Neugebauer in this safely red Panhandle seat is slowly coming into focus. On Tuesday, Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson confirmed that he will run. About a third of this district's residents live in Lubbock and 61 percent of the district is in the Lubbock media market, so Robertson will be a familiar face to many voters.
Robertson did mull challenging Neugebauer at the beginning of the year back when the congressman looked like he'd seek another term, so Neugebauer's allies may flock to another candidate. Robertson also has a habit of making his disputes in city politics public, which doesn't rub everyone the right way.
Robertson won't have the GOP primary to himself. Jodey Arrington, who was a senior advisor to George W. Bush during both his governorship and presidency, has also announced that he's in. Arrington, who has also served as a Texas Tech vice chancellor, ran for the state Senate last year, but lost to another Republican 54-30.
Greg Garrett, who runs a local bank and also owns a realty business, entered the race last month. It's often difficult to tell this early if candidates like Garrett are wealthy or connected enough to run a real campaign, or if they're just Some Dudes with fancy titles. Col. Michael Bob Starr, who is stationed at the local Dyess Air Force Base, says he's retiring from the military at the beginning of November and intends to run for this seat afterwards.
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.