● MD-Sen: We're now just over three weeks away from Maryland's Democratic primary, and we have new confirmation that the Senate contest remains close from an unexpected source: Rep. Chris Van Hollen himself. On Friday, Van Hollen released a poll conducted by Garin-Hart-Yang that puts him up just 45-40 on fellow Rep. Donna Edwards. The most recent prior poll, published a couple of weeks ago, had Edwards up 34-28, but that was an independent survey taken for the Baltimore Sun; Van Hollen's new data, by contrast, is from his own internal poll, which means these are pretty much the best numbers his campaign can come up with.
That's not a strong sign for Van Hollen, especially considering the wide fundraising advantage that had allowed him to spend far more than Edwards on the airwaves. While Edwards has received a seven-figure boost from EMILY's List, Van Hollen recently got a $550,000 assist from the National Association of Realtors. Now he's expanding the air war further, with his first foray on to TV in the expensive D.C. media market. Judging by the most recent upload on his YouTube account, he's airing this spot, which tries to cram in a million different issues: the environment, education, the NRA, Planned Parenthood, Social Security, Wall Street. That sort of kitchen-sink approach tempts lots of candidates but risks a muddled message when you're introducing yourself to voters.
● FL-Sen: While the last several polls of Florida's Democratic primary for Senate have shown Rep. Patrick Murphy beating Rep. Alan Grayson, DFA and the PCCC are touting a new survey they commissioned from PPP that finds Grayson—whom both groups recently endorsed—ahead. However, Grayson's lead is a mere one point, 33 to 32. What's more, in PPP's last poll, taken at the end of February, Grayson was up 33 to 22. That's not exactly the kind of trendline you want to be trumpeting.
● WV-Gov: Fundraising reports covering the year leading up to March 25 have just been filed in West Virginia, and unsurprisingly, billionaire Jim Justice leads the way on the Democratic side. Justice raised $582,000 and also loaned himself $1.9 million. He spent $1.3 million of that, leaving him with $1.2 million in his campaign account, though obviously he can supplement that at any time. Former U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, who entered the race less than three months ago, took in $286,000, spent $131,000, and finished with $151,000 in the bank. The third Democrat in the race, state Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler, trailed with just $153,000 raised. He spent $140,000 and has $73,000 on hand.
Meanwhile, the only Republican running, state Senate President Bill Cole, has done very well for himself, raising a hefty $1.1 million. However, he did spend a considerable $467,000 (leaving him with $549,000), and it's not entirely clear why he's spent that much. After payroll ($144,000), his biggest expense was $74,000 to the Pittsburgh-based consulting firm of BrabenderCox, whose founder, John Brabender, has been described as Rick Santorum's "political guru." While not excessive, that's still a fair bit to shell out for a guy who doesn't have any opponents in the May 10 primary.
● CA-46: A recent report from the State Bar of California painted former state Sen. Joe Dunn, who served as the organization's executive director until he was let go in 2014, in an unflattering light, but it hasn't deterred several unions from endorsing him. In the last week, the Orange County Labor Federation and the local branch of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union both gave their backing to Dunn; previously, the United Farm Workers and a local chapter of UNITE HERE did as well.
While another Democrat, former state Sen. Lou Correa, has looked like the frontrunner for this solidly blue open seat, there are four minor Republicans running here, and they could split the GOP vote such that two Democrats win June's top-two primary. If that happens, a November matchup between Correa and Dunn seems the most likely. However, there's also one other somewhat notable Democrat on the ballot, Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen. He hasn't raised much, and most of his constituency is located outside of the district, so he's not well-positioned. But if he sucks up enough votes, we could wind up with a traditional D-vs.-R race in the fall after all.
● MD-04: In a new ad for former prosecutor Glenn Ivey, Yvette Cade, a prominent domestic violence victim who went on to become a spokeswoman on the issue, narrates her harrowing story and thanks Ivey for showing compassion to her. Cade's husband tried to burn her alive; in the ad, she's shown wearing a sleeveless dress, with her badly scarred arms visible. Ivey secured a life sentence for her attacker, while Cade has undergone dozens of painful skin grafts to restore a measure of normalcy to her life. Ivey faces state Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk and former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown in the Democratic primary for this safely blue open seat.
● VA-02: As we've written before, if there's one seat that's emblematic of just how distant a dream recapturing the House is for Democrats regardless what happens at the top of the GOP ticket, it's Virginia's 2nd Congressional District. Now the debacle appears to be complete: With the March 31 filing deadline having passed, the only Democrat to emerge is activist Shaun Brown, a perennial candidate who has unsuccessfully run for city council in Newport News four times. (In 2010, she finished fourth in a four-way race, taking just 15 percent.)
Political parties in Virginia sometimes conduct conventions instead of primaries; Democrats in the 2nd have opted for the latter, but it may be possible for them to switch to the former, thus allowing some more time for other options to emerge. (That can only happen, though, if Brown fails to file enough signatures or drops out.) But there isn't even a single other name floating out there—not even a Random Rich Guy—so there simply isn't much hope. Considering Mitt Romney carried this open seat by only 2 points, this is just a travesty.
Republicans, meanwhile, are duking it out between Rep. Randy Forbes and state Del. Scott Taylor. Forbes currently represents the 4th District, but he's seeking re-election here because court-ordered redistricting made his present seat far too blue for him to ever win. Now, though, it looks like whichever Republican emerges as the nominee will win the 2nd almost by default.
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.