● MD-08: We knew wealthy businessman David Trone was spending big to try and win the April 26 primary for this safely blue seat, but this is just stunning. The Washington Post's Bill Turque reports that from Jan. 1 to early April, Trone spent $9.1 million of his own money here. Even adjusting for inflation, Trone is already one of the top self-funders in a House race ever and with two weeks left, he'll probably make history. (Turque writes that West Virginia Democrat James Humphreys loaned his campaign about $10 million in 2016 dollars for his House race against now-Sen. Shelley Moore Capito; Humphreys lost 60-40.)
Of course, Trone's spending spree doesn't guarantee him the win: At some point you get diminishing returns as people keep seeing your ads over and over and over and over. It's also possible that some candidates, like Meg Whitman in California and Linda McMahon in Connecticut, spent so much that after a while, their ads actually annoyed people so much that they lost votes. The DC media market is very expensive, but Trone's $9 million may be so huge that he's hit the point where his spots are doing his campaign more harm than good.
Two of Trone's rivals, state Sen. Jamie Raskin and ex-hotel executive Kathleen Matthews, have spent a credible amount of money; while they can't hope to match Trone, they may not need to worry about being drowned out as long as enough people are still seeing their ads. Indeed, Trone's own poll from mid-March, taken after he'd already spent a few million, showed Raskin leading him 30-25, with Matthews not far behind at 21. (A Matthews poll from around the same time gave Raskin a 31-28 lead over her, with Trone all the way back at 13.) We don't have any fresh data, but it doesn't look like Trone has built up an unbeatable lead two weeks from Election Day.
And surprise! Trone is also out with yet another new ad. Trone's latest spot has the narrator describing how the candidate grew up on a "struggling family farm lost to the bank," before talking about how Trone started his wine store empire with just one location. The narrator then talks about how Trone has helped his thousands of employees by creating jobs, offering free GEDs and "domestic partner benefits when no one else would," and pledges he will help others in Congress. Unlike some of his past commercials (his cute but substance-free dog ad for instance), this one is pretty good, though things become a bit unfocused at the end as the narrator lays out Trone's long list of priorities.
Former Obama administration official Will Jawando has barely registered in the polls that have been released, but he's hoping to break through with a second TV ad. Jawando focuses on gun violence, arguing that politicians only listen to the NRA. Jawando then says that they "discount gun violence, like when my friend was shot and killed when I was growing up." Jawando also says he's beaten other DC special interests while he was working for Nancy Pelosi and Obama.
1Q Fundraising: Be sure to check out our first quarter Senate fundraising chart, which we'll be updating as new numbers come in.
● FL-Sen: Alan Grayson (D): $422,000 cash-on-hand
● NC-Sen: Deborah Ross (D): $1.29 million raised
● NH-Sen: Kelly Ayotte (R-inc): $2.25 million raised, $6.9 million cash-on-hand; Maggie Hassan (D): $2.25 million raised, $2.9 million cash-on-hand
● PA-Sen: Katie McGinty (D): $1.8 million raised
● WI-Sen: Ron Johnson (R-inc): $2.1 million raised
● AZ-02: Martha McSally (R-inc): $851,000 raised, $2.2 million cash-on-hand
● AZ-09: Kyrsten Sinema (D-inc): $580,000 raised, $2.1 million cash-on-hand
● CA-31: Sean Flynn (R): $112,000 raised, $350,000 self-funded, $390,000 cash-on-hand
● CA-44: Nanette Barragan (D): $235,000 raised
● CA-52: Scott Peters (D-inc): $428,000 raised, $1.6 million cash-on-hand
● GA-11: Daniel Cowan (R): $373,000 raised (in three weeks), $350,000 cash-on-hand
● ME-02: Emily Cain (D): $385,000 raised, $785,000 cash-on-hand
● MN-07: Collin Peterson (D-inc): $154,000 raised, $640,000 cash-on-hand
● NY-19: Will Yandik (D): $256,000 raised
● NY-21: Elise Stefanik (R-inc): $330,000 raised, $1.1 million cash-on-hand; Mike Derrick (D): $145,000 raised
● PA-02: Dwight Evans (D): $517,000 raised, $323,000 cash-on-hand
● UT-04: Mia Love (R-inc): $612,000 raised, $1.09 million cash-on-hand; Doug Owens (D): $395,000 raised, $766,000 cash-on-hand
● IL-Sen: Republican Sen. Mark Kirk always faced a tough task winning a second term in blue Illinois against Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth, and he can add another problem to his list. Duckworth not only outraised Kirk $2.1 million to $1.2 million during the first quarter of 2016, she also holds a $4 million to $3.3 million cash-on-hand edge.
While Duckworth needed to spend some cash to win her March primary, Kirk also shelled out $800,000 on an ad that aimed to stoke fears about terrorism. (The Democratic-aligned group VoteVets came to Duckworth's aid with their own commercial.) Polling has been scant here, so there's no way to tell how effective Kirk's spot was, but a recent poll from Kirk himself indicates that it didn't move the needle enough. Kirk's survey showed him trailing 43-40; while he argued that he was only down 3 points, it's simply awful for a Republican incumbent to be taking just 40 percent in a state where most of the undecideds are likely to be Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents.
● PA-Sen: Last week, we learned that the DSCC had reserved $1.1 million in ad time to help Katie McGinty defeat ex-Rep. Joe Sestak in the April 26 primary, and they're out with their first spot. The commercial stars a Pennsylvania woman describing how tough it is to make ends meet, and praising McGinty as someone who understands her concerns. The spot also notes that President Obama and Vice President Biden are supporting McGinty. Neither Sestak nor GOP Sen. Pat Toomey are mentioned.
● MT-Gov: Wealthy Republican Greg Gianforte is out with his first ad and unsurprisingly, it goes positive. Gianforte tells the audience that he knows too many people who needed to leave the state because they couldn't find a job, and he talks up his business background. Like basically every rich first-time politician, Gianforte promotes himself as "a job creator, not a politician who thinks government has all the answers." The ad does not mention Democratic incumbent Steve Bullock, whom Gianforte is hoping to unseat in November. Gianforte's camp did not announce the size of the buy, but the Democratic Governor's Association says they've calculated it to be $227,000. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as Lean Democratic.
● WV-Gov: Coal billionaire Jim Justice is continuing his ad barrage ahead of the May 10 Democratic primary. Justice's new spot stars Cecil Roberts, the head of the United Mine Workers. Roberts praises Justice for paying his employees a good wage and having an excellent safety record, and says that ads attacking the candidate are from special interests that know they can't control him.
Justice has been fined millions for mine safety violations, but his rivals haven't really gone after him over this yet. A group called Americans for Integrity in Government Officials recently went up with a commercial asking if Justice really protects his workers, but they didn't hammer the point home. Justice's UMW ad is likely an attempt to neutralize the issue before ex-U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, Justice's main primary foe, can seize on it; Republican state Senate President Bill Cole is also likely to hit Justice on mine safety if Justice makes it to the general.
● FL-13: On Tuesday, ex-St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker announced that he would not seek this open seat. Baker decisively won two terms in a blue city (albeit in a non-partisan election), and he was probably the only Republican who could have held what is now a 55-44 Obama seat. Still, in a presidential cycle, this may have been a bridge too far even for him. Baker did hint that we haven't seen the last of him though, saying that he's decided he's "a better fit for an executive leadership position than a position in congress."
The filing deadline isn't until June 24, so Republicans have a little while to find someone, but it's hard to see this seat becoming a major priority for the GOP. Ex-Gov. Charlie Crist is the favorite in the late August Democratic primary, though former Department of Defense official Eric Lynn is putting up a fight. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as Likely Democratic.
● IA-01: Cedar Rapids Councilor Monica Vernon, the national Democratic establishment's favored candidate, is out with her first spot ahead of the June primary. The ad features a local family of small business owners, whom Vernon says just want "a fair shot." Vernon then pledges to protect the middle class instead of business interests. Vernon is competing with 2014 nominee Pat Murphy for the right to face freshman Republican Rod Blum in this 56-43 Obama seat.
● KS-01: At this point, tea partying Rep. Tim Huelskamp may just be daring the GOP establishment to take up arms against him in his August primary. Huelskamp only defeated little-known foe Alan LaPolice 55-45 last cycle in this safely red western Kansas seat after local agricultural interests, angry about Huelskamp's opposition to biofuel subsidies, funded a super PAC that aired ads against him. The House leadership has always had a bad relationship with the congressman but while there have been reports that the deep-pocked U.S. Chamber of Commerce considers him a top target, no one has made any obvious moves against him yet.
However, Huelskamp seems to be on a quest to make himself the number one enemy of his party's leadership. The conservative organization The Blaze has produced a documentary called "District of Corruption" focused on how leaders like ex-Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn't keep their promises to the party rank-and-file, and Huelskamp plays a prominent role in the production. Huelskamp himself tweeted a trailer where, among other things, he hits his party's leadership for repeatedly ignoring the Pledge to America, a 2010 campaign document that promised that the new GOP majority would repeal Obamacare and roll back spending. Huelskamp tells the audience, "Go back and look at what we said we'd do. And for five years we've done nothing that was in the Pledge to America."
As Donald Trump and Ted Cruz's presidential campaigns have demonstrated, attacking the GOP establishment is far from political Kryptonite. However, Huelskamp's comments could just motivate groups like the Chamber to flood the airwaves with ads against him. While Huelskamp's enemies are unlikely to draw much blood by telling voters that the congressman should be ejected because he was mean to Boehner, Huelskamp's position on agriculture subsidies could alienate conservative voters in this rural seat.
Huelskamp faces physician Roger Marshall in August, and Marshall has raised a credible amount of money. However, LaPolice is running again and while he's once again brought in very little cash, he could split the anti-Huelskamp vote enough to secure the incumbent renomination.
● PA-09: House Transportation Committee Chair Bill Shuster has been running ads emphasizing what an awesome conservative he is ahead of the April 26 primary for this safely red seat, and intra-party foe Art Halvorson is fighting back. Halvorson's first TV spot accuses Republican leaders of selling out conservative voters, and the narrator says that lobbyists "gave Shuster millions, and he gave them our tax dollars. For Obamacare. For amnesty. And even Planned Parenthood." The narrator doesn't mention that Shuster helped pass a bill favorable to the airline industry while he was dating an airline lobbyist, though an editorial criticizing Shuster over the matter appears on screen. It's unclear how much Halvorson's putting behind this spot: At the end of 2015, he had just $40,000 in the bank.
● TX-19: On Monday, ex-Gov. Rick Perry endorsed former Bush administration official Jodey Arrington for this safely red Panhandle seat. Arrington faces wealthy Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson in the May 24 primary runoff; Robertson narrowly outpaced Arrington 27-26 in March. Arrington, who also hails from the Lubbock area, also got a potentially useful endorsement from Abilene Mayor Norm Archibald; Abilene is the second-largest community in the 19th.
● Baltimore, MD Mayor: On Tuesday, state Sen. Catherine Pugh received an endorsement from Rep. Elijah Cummings. Cummings represents about 60 percent of Baltimore in the House and he earned a good deal of respect for his performance in the aftermath of last year's riots, so he should be an asset to her. An OpinionWorks poll released last week gave Pugh a 31-25 lead over ex-Mayor Shelia Dixon in the April 26 Democratic primary, with none of the other many contenders far behind; no other pollsters have released numbers in months. It only takes a plurality to win the nomination, which is tantamount to election in this heavily blue city.
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.