● FL-Sen: Over the holiday weekend, Marco Rubio upgraded his odds of seeking re-election from "unlikely" to "maybe"—at least, if his "real good friend," Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, weren't already running for the GOP nod. Said Rubio of CLC, "I think he's put in time and energy to it and he deserves the chance to see where he can take it," and perhaps he means it: Rubio held a previously scheduled conference call with Lopez-Cantera donors on Friday rather than beg off, which you might have expected him to do if he were really interested in perpetuating his Senate career.
Lopez-Cantera is also making a show of staying put, though his campaign's comments weren't exactly emphatic. Said a spokesperson, "Sen. Rubio has been supportive of Lopez-Cantera's candidacy. I'll let that speak for itself." But it's really not CLC Rubio would have to worry about. There are four other Republicans in the race, and at least two of them sound a lot more determined to hang tough.
In response to this latest round of chatter about Rubio, wealthy businessman Carlos Beruff offered what has to be regarded as a reverse Shermanesque statement, insisting through a spokesman that he's "staying in this race no matter what." Beruff followed that up by releasing an internal poll from OnMessage showing him with a 17-16 edge on Rep. David Jolly, who'd led in pretty much every other poll of the GOP primary to date.
Beruff's survey didn't directly mention You Know Who, but OnMessage did reference Rubio in a memo. The pollsters declared that the results of Florida's March presidential primary, when Donald Trump stomped "Little Marco" by a 46-27 margin, were "no fluke" and showed that voters are "demanding new leaders from outside of the political ranks." Hey, that sure sounds like Carlos Beruff, don't it?
Or maybe that sounds like Todd Wilcox, another self-funding businessman with no political experience, who offered even sharper comments. Said Wilcox, "I have no intention of leaving this race just because another career politician gets in, especially one who fought for amnesty for illegals…." However, Wilcox has barely registered in the polls (he was at just 5 percent in Beruff's), precisely because he is an unknown outsider, and unlike Beruff, he hasn't spent millions on the airwaves (at least, not yet).
That leaves two others. Jolly, the one-time frontrunner for the Republican nomination, quickly made it clear that he would defer to the Sunshine State's junior senator, saying that if Rubio were to run for a second term, he "would withdraw from the Senate race and support Rubio for re-election." Jolly, at least, could also run for re-election himself in that scenario, since no legitimate GOP contenders have stepped up in the 13th Congressional District (and he's the only one who could keep the race close with Democrat Charlie Crist in this newly redistricted seat).
But it wouldn't be quite so easy for the final candidate, Rep. Ron DeSantis, to drop down, because at least four plausible Republicans are running to replace him in the 6th District. What's more, two of those candidates are state representatives, so they would have to try to bump out whichever peeps are already running for their legislative seats—a really messy game of political dominoes, in other words.
Yet despite these obstacles, DeSantis offered remarks that sounded a lot more like Lopez-Cantera's, with his campaign manager meekly saying, "We're focused on continuing to run the strongest campaign of any candidate in Florida." DeSantis, though, has the support of the Club for Growth, and there's no real obvious alternative for them if he bails, though Beruff does have a reputation as an anti-tax crusader. However, Beruff's also a Trumpian nativist even though both of his parents were born in Cuba, so that would definitely not appeal to the Club. (For what it's worth, DeSantis clocked in at 9 percent in Beruff's poll, while CLC took a pitiful 3.)
And it's not just the possibility of a contested primary, which would be embarrassing in its own right for a sitting senator, that could keep Rubio out. Rubio himself would bring considerable weaknesses to the race, such as his well-publicized flip-flop on immigration reform and the fact that he spoke so disdainfully of his Senate service during his presidential run. And as Rubio's devastating loss to Trump demonstrated, Rubio has a lot of enemies in Florida GOP politics. Rubio has a habit of discarding people after he's decided that he doesn't need them anymore; if he makes an about-face, he's suddenly going to need some of those former allies once more.
Yet despite Rubio's manifest flaws, national Republicans are convinced that he'd have to be better than the current crop of alternatives. And with Mitch McConnell's fragile Senate majority on the line, he's begging Rubio to change course, saying, "We're doing everything we can to encourage him to run." The Senate Leadership Fund, a well-funded PAC allied with McConnell, is being even less subtle. The group's head said that they'd back Rubio if he got in, but warned that "right now, it's hard to imagine making that same investment without him as our candidate." In other words, McConnell's allies want Rubio to know that they think he's the only guy who can keep this critical seat red. Amusingly, Donald Trump is making a similar argument, though we're guessing that the support of the guy who eviscerated Rubio in his home state isn't exactly going to provide much inspiration.
But here's one final reason why Rubio might ignore these pleas: He could very well lose. While he'd probably be the favorite in the GOP primary, a general election battle with Rep. Patrick Murphy, the leading Democrat, would be a tossup, especially with Trump firing up Latino voters as never before. And if Murphy were to beat Rubio, he'd simply have to dispel with any hopes that he might run for president again someday.
● CA-Sen: A new poll from YouGov, conducted on behalf of the conservative Hoover Institution, finds state Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez taking the top two spots in next week's primary, as per usual. Harris leads the way at 26, with Sanchez, a fellow Democrat, at 13 and a trio of Republicans at 6 apiece. Harris is also trying to solidify her standing as the frontrunner with a new ad featuring Gov. Jerry Brown, who recently endorsed her.
● IA-Sen: Ex-Lt. Gov. Patty Judge is out with her second spot ahead of next week's Democratic primary. Judge pledges to stand up to special interests, declaring that they need to pay their fair share rather than take more tax breaks. Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley is spending a tiny $16,000 on a spot highlighting his role as Senate Judiciary Committee chair.
● IN-Sen: Republican nominee Todd Young is out with his first general election spot, highlighting how he helped get a local soldier's name inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
● NC-Sen: The eagle-eyed Greg Giroux has spotted a new joint fundraising committee created by Democrats that will split funds between the DSCC and seven top Senate candidates: Patrick Murphy in Florida; Tammy Duckworth in Illinois; Jason Kander in Missouri; Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada; Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire; Ted Strickland in Ohio; and Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania. But notably absent is former state Rep. Deborah Ross, who is hoping to unseat GOP Sen. Richard Burr in North Carolina.
Ross's omission is surprising given that the last several public polls have all shown a close contest, and Ross actually outraised Burr in the first quarter of the year. What's more, North Carolina is a swing state that Hillary Clinton will almost certainly try hard to win. By contrast, Missouri is much less likely to come into play in the presidential race, so on paper, Ross feels like a better bet than Kander.
However, as we noted recently, the DSCC didn't make its first ad reservations in 2008 until July of that year. That contest parallels this one in a number of ways, including the fact that both feature an underwhelming Republican incumbent facing off against an unheralded but energetic Democratic challenger in the midst of a hotly contested presidential election, so we may yet see Ross break into the top tier.
● NH-Sen, Gov: A new poll from Franklin Pierce University finds GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte edging Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan by just a 48-47 margin, which is in line with all the other polling we've seen here. In related news, the pro-Democratic Senate Majority PAC is launching a $1 million ad buy attacking Ayotte starting on Wednesday. SMP's spot focuses on Medicare, with the narrator accusing Ayotte of having "supported a plan to raise the eligibility age for Medicare and turning it into a voucher program." The commercial will air on broadcast and cable television in the Boston market.
FPU also tested New Hampshire's gubernatorial primaries (but not the general election), though it's still far too early to say much about either race. For the GOP, Executive Councilor Chris Sununu has a 44-10 lead on Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, with state Sen. Jeannie Forrester at 7 and state Rep. Frank Edelbut earning a donut. Sununu's advantage right now, however, is almost certainly attributable to name recognition, since his father was governor and his brother was a U.S. senator.
The Democratic numbers are even more useless, with 74 percent of respondents still undecided. For what little it's worth, Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern leads former state securities regulator Mark Connolly 12-5, with former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand at just 2. The primary is not until September.
● NV-Sen: Oh Sharron Angle, never change. The GOP's disastrous 2010 nominee faces long odds against national party favorite Joe Heck in the June 14 primary, and she's out with a pair of cheap but awesome ads (here and here) challenging Heck's conservative credentials. We wouldn't dare ruin them by trying to summarize them, but there's a moment where Nancy Pelosi shoots lightning from her fingers like she's Emperor Palpatine. Jon Ralston says this is a tiny buy.
● OH-Sen: While conservative outside groups have been spending millions hammering Democrat Ted Strickland, GOP incumbent Rob Portman is going positive in his opening trio of ads that all focus on his work fighting prescription drug addiction. The spots are part of the $14 million in TV time that Portman reserved from June to Election Day, though his campaign didn't say how much cash he's putting behind these commercials.
● PA-Sen: The Koch-backed Freedom Partners is spending a hefty $3 million on a new ad campaign aimed at Democrat Katie McGinty. Like several GOP commercials that have already run here, Freedom Partners' commercial accuses McGinty of being a corrupt bureaucrat. The narrator claims McGinty steered taxpayer money to companies that ended up shutting down local factories, but one of those companies ended up hiring her. Republican incumbent Pat Toomey is also out with another ad that accuses McGinty of funneling millions in state funds "to a group that employed her husband." The narrator then goes positive and quotes Democratic ex-Gov. Ed Rendell, a McGinty campaign co-chair, calling Toomey "a man of uncommon decency."
● VT-Sen: In 2014, Republican businessman Scott Milne came shockingly close to dispatching Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin in 2014 in a race that was on almost no one's radar: Shumlin only won 46-45, necessitating a legislative vote because he failed to reach a majority. Milne is taking aim at an even bigger Vermont Democrat this cycle: Over the Memorial Day weekend, Milne announced that he would challenge Sen. Patrick Leahy.
But even though Milne came incredibly close to beating one "safe" Democratic incumbent, this doesn't exactly feel like big news. For one thing, Milne announced his bid at the outset of a holiday weekend, which seems a bit ill-conceived. For another, he broached the idea of a Senate bid way back in September, and didn't pull the trigger on a bid until now. And while Shumlin turned out to be pretty unpopular in 2014, there's no sign that voters are tired of Leahy, who easily won during the 2010 GOP wave. Absent national party involvement or some polling showing a real race here, it's hard to envision Leahy being in much peril in this dark blue state.
● VT-Gov: Filing closed last week for Vermont's Aug. 9 primary, and the state has a list of candidates available here.
There weren't any last minute surprises on either side. The Democratic contest is a three-way race between ex-state Sen. Matt Dunne, who took a close fourth place in the 2010 primary; Sue Minter, the state's former secretary of transportation; and ex-state Sen. Peter Galbraith, a former high-level diplomat. The GOP primary pits establishment favorite Lt. Gov. Phil Scott against wealthy ex-Wall Street executive Bruce Lisman.
The left-wing Progressive Party initially flirted with running their own candidate in the general election, but no one ended up filing. While the party can theoretically field a candidate up to six days after the primary, the Progressives sound much more likely to back the eventual Democratic nominee. However, there will be one notable third-party candidate. Former major league baseball player Bill "Spaceman" Lee will run as a member of the left-wing Liberty Union Party. (Lee ran a satirical presidential campaign in 1988, but he insists this is the real deal.)
Vermont is usually a very Democratic state, but Republicans came close to winning here in 2010 and 2014, and Team Red has a strong candidate in Scott. Outgoing Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin is also not particularly popular. Daily Kos Elections rates the general election as a Tossup.
● CA-17: There isn't much doubt that Rep. Mike Honda and ex-Obama administration official Ro Khanna will once again both take the top spots in the June top-two primary and set off another all-Democratic general election. And sure enough, a new SurveyUSA poll finds Honda taking 31 percent and Khanna grabbing 25, with Some Dude Republican Ron Cohen only winning 7 percent of the vote. The general election for this Silicon Valley seat will be another expensive affair: As of May 18, Khanna held a $1.58 million to $766,000 cash-on-hand edge.
● CA-24: The June 7 top-two primary for this open 54-43 Obama seat has become an expensive and complicated affair. Two major candidates from each party are running, and both national parties seem to believe there's a chance that two Republicans, Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian and businessman Justin Fareed, will advance to November and give Team Red an automatic pickup.
National Democrats have been spending big to boost their preferred candidate, Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal. One of those groups, House Majority PAC, also attacked Achadjian at the same time, likely believing that the Republican assemblyman is vacuuming up some moderate voters that Carbajal needs to make it past June. The NRCC recently launched a $220,000 buy that hit Carbajal while subtly boosting Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider. And to make things even weirder, the California Republican party has been sending mailers meant to help a third Democratic candidate, Some Dude Bill Ostrander. Now another group, the ironically named Citizen Super PAC, is spending $115,000 on a TV ad for Fareed.
The candidates themselves have been dropping plenty of cash down to make sure that they advance to November. Carbajal spent a hefty $543,000 from April 1 to May 18, and he had about $650,000 left. Schneider spent about $190,000 during this time, and she had just $106,000 left. On the GOP side, Fareed outspent Achadjian just $354,000 to $348,000, though Fareed had a large $448,000 to $173,000 cash-on-hand edge. A third Republican, tea partier Matt Kokkonen, loaned himself $210,000 a few months ago, but he spent just $25,000.
● CA-25: National Democrats have consolidated behind attorney Bryan Caforio in this light red Antelope Valley seat, but he needs to get past former LAPD officer Lou Vince on June 7. Caforio outspent Vince by a convincing $195,000 to $17,000 from April 1 to May 18; however, Vince does have the endorsement of the state Democratic Party, which could give him a boost. The winner will quickly need to switch gears and face Republican freshman Rep. Steve Knight. The incumbent has a reputation as a weak fundraiser, and his $436,000 warchest is hardly impressive. Still, it's a lot larger than the $94,000 Caforio has at his disposal; Vince has less than $5,000 in the bank.
● FL-09: Businesswoman Dena Minning was one of three main Democratic candidates seeking Florida's 9th Congressional District, which Rep. Alan Grayson has left open to run for Senate. Minning also happened to be Grayson's girlfriend, but as of this past weekend, she's now the congressman's wife—and she's also changed her name to Dena Grayson, which could give her a recognition boost in the August primary. If Grayson is successful in her congressional bid, she'd be just the second wife to succeed a living husband to the House, following Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell, whose husband is legendary Twitter virtuoso John Dingell.
Since Alan Grayson could lose his Senate primary while Dena Grayson wins the Democratic nod for his House seat, we wondered if it was legally possible for Dena to drop out and allow Alan to run for the House seat again in 2016. This type of maneuver happened in New Jersey in 2008: Rep. Rob Andrews unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Frank Lautenberg in the Senate primary the same day that his wife Camille Andrews won the Democratic nomination for his open House seat, only for Camille to resign the nomination and give it to Rob a little while later.
However, Florida is not New Jersey. As community member Tyler Yeargain points out, Sunshine State law prohibits a candidate who runs for any office "from qualifying as a candidate to fill a vacancy in nomination for any other office to be filled at that general election, even if such person has withdrawn or been eliminated as a candidate for the original office sought." In other words, if Alan Grayson loses his Senate primary, he's off the ballot for the rest of 2016.
● FL-23: Law professor Tim Canova has been running as the true progressive, Bernie Sanders-endorsed alternative to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, but it seems that Canova's liberalism only goes so far. Canova, it turns out, is running to Wasserman Schultz's right on the Iran nuclear deal—far, far to the right:
Much of Canova's campaign literature emphasizes his opposition to the nuclear agreement with Iran, a position shared by many in the district's large and active Jewish population. Wasserman Schultz backed the deal.
"She's Jewish; I'm not. But I've had a Jewish stepdad for 40 years, and I was a volunteer on a kibbutz. … And she voted for the Iran agreement," he said. "Either she got duped by [Obama deputy national security adviser] Ben Rhodes or she was in on it."
It's one thing to oppose the agreement after reasoned consideration; it's quite another to adopt conservative talking points and accuse supporters of having been "duped." And Canova's attempt to somehow prove his Jewish bona fides exceed Wasserman Schultz's just rankles. Is he simply expressing his hostility toward the deal and its backers to win over the same hawkish Jewish voters who tried to press Wasserman Schultz to vote against it? It sure feels that way.
Meanwhile, a liberal group called Allied Progress is once again attacking Wasserman Schultz over her support for payday lending, calling the congresswoman "Debt Trap Debbie." The organization is reportedly spending $100,000 on a new TV ad airing in Miami; back in March, it spent a similar amount for a spot on the same topic.
● HI-01: While ex-Rep. Colleen Hanabusa has not yet publicly confirmed whether she'll seek her old seat in the House, she's already won the support of the man who succeeded her, Rep. Mark Takai, who is retiring after just one term in office to concentrate on his treatment for pancreatic cancer. While Hanabusa would be the heavy favorite in the Democratic primary, some other potential candidates are weighing bids, including awesomely named state Sen. Brickwood Galuteria and ex-state Rep. Lei Ahu Isa, both of whom have reportedly pulled nomination papers.
● IA-01: Ex-Cedar Rapids Councilor and national party favorite Monica Vernon dramatically outspent 2014 nominee Pat Murphy $466,000 to $78,000 from April 1 to May 18, and she's out with yet another ad ahead of the June 7 Democratic primary. Vernon speaks to the camera and decries tax breaks for corporations that "offshore jobs, offshore their taxes, really don't care much about us here at home." The Democratic nominee will face freshman Republican Rep. Rod Blum in this 56-43 Obama seat. Blum won't have an easy time winning here, but he does start with a big financial edge: Blum has $1.28 million in the bank to Vernon's $421,000, with Murphy lagging far behind at $46,000.
● IA-03: Freshman Republican Rep. David Young will be a top Democratic target in this 51-47 Obama seat, but Team Blue has an expensive June 7 primary to get through first. From April 1 to May 18, wealthy investor Mike Sherzan narrowly outspent veteran Jim Mowrer $467,000 to $458,000. While Sherzan and Mowrer each had only about $90,000 left in the bank, Sherzan has since contributed another $100,000 to his campaign. Young has just over $1 million on-hand.
● IA-04: State Sen. Rick Bertrand's primary campaign against GOP Rep. Steve King always looked like a long-shot, and that was before we saw Bertrand's campaign finance report. Bertrand has spent just $18,000 during this entire race, and he has only $35,000 in the bank; outside groups also haven't spent much to boost him. King has strong ties to western Iowa's numerous social conservatives, and he doesn't seem to have done anything to alienate his base. Some ethanol businessmen are pissed with King for endorsing Ted Cruz, who has a spotty record on ethanol, in the presidential caucus, but they clearly don't care enough to invest in Bertrand. Democrats aren't targeting King either.
● NC-03: Former Treasury aide Taylor Griffin lost to Rep. Walter Jones by a close 51-45 margin in the 2014 GOP primary, but Jones' many enemies in the party establishment aren't very motivated to help Griffin finish the job next week. This time around, the groups that ran TV ads against Jones in 2014 have stayed away and left Griffin to fend for himself. Griffin did outspent Jones $93,000 to $86,000 from April 1 to May 18; two years ago, Jones outspent him $132,000 to $95,000 during this period, so at least one thing is going better for Griffin. But the challenger has very little money left, and his lack of outside support is not a good omen for him.
● NC-09: While Rep. Robert Pittenger and minister Mark Harris have been running negative ads against one another ahead of next week's GOP primary, this really has not been a very expensive race. Pittenger is wealthy but he's done no self-funding. Pittenger outspent Harris $151,000 to $80,000; a third candidate, ex-Union County Commissioner Todd Johnson, has not filed a pre-primary report. This seat is safely red.
● NC-12: Court-ordered redistricting threw freshman Rep. Alma Adams' Greensboro base into a conservative seat, so she decided to run in the 12th District, a safely blue Charlotte seat that contains about half of her current constituents. However, while Adams registered to vote at a home in Charlotte in April, it seems she's still living out of her old home.
WBTV investigated a tip that said that Adams spent Memorial Day weekend at her old Greensboro place, and her campaign declined to comment. When the station visited her new Charlotte town house multiple times Monday during the congressional recess, they found no one there. However, they recorded Adams driving up to her Greensboro residence that day, then immediately driving away once reporter Nick Ochsner started asking questions; Adams sat in her car parked outside her neighborhood and drove away again once a reporter saw her and started asking questions again. Adams' campaign only said that the congresswoman was visiting her mother's grave in Greensboro, but didn't give any more information.
Adams sat down for questions on Tuesday, but she still didn't say much. When asked why she spent the weekend in Greensboro, Adams responded, "I think it's a holiday weekend and there were probably other candidates who were at other places as well. I don't think the voters are confused about where I'm living here in Charlotte, I'm spending my time here in Charlotte, I'm working for Charlotte but I'm also, unlike the other candidates in this race, I am the current congresswoman and I represent a district that spans these six counties and, so, I'm trying to do my work and do my work efficiently and effectively." That's not exactly a straight answer. And despite initially acknowledging that she had scrubbed references to Greensboro from her campaign biography, Adams backtracked and said she hadn't changed it, and she soon walked away from the interview.
Still, it's unclear if any of Adams' three primary foes are strong enough to take advantage of these bad headlines. Adams has spent $255,000 during her campaign, far more than the $72,000 state Rep. Tricia Cotham dropped. Ex-state Sen. Malcolm Graham, who ran in 2014 for the old version of the 12th, spent just $31,000; state Rep. Carla Cunningham has not filed a pre-primary report, though she had little money at the end of March.
● NC-13: Seventeen Republicans are facing off in next week's primary, and no one has any idea what will happen here. The $58,000 that gun range owner Ted Budd spent from April 1 to May 18 would be chump change in most other races, but he's actually the top spender here! The Club for Growth has dropped about $400,000 on a pair of ads for Budd, while the National Association of Realtors has spent $258,000 on a spot for state Rep. Julia Howard.
Romney won this seat by 7 points, and it doesn't look like any of the Democrats are strong enough to take it. We initially wondered if Bob Isner, a Greensboro developer, had the wealth or connections to make this interesting. The answer unfortunately appears to be no: Isner has not filed a campaign finance report, so he's not bringing in much cash. The other Democratic contenders are also underfunded.
● NJ-01: It's déjà vu all over again in New Jersey's 1st Congressional District. Freshman Democratic Rep. Donald Norcross is the overwhelming favorite in next week's June 7 primary against former IBM consultant Alex Law. Norcross is the brother of powerful South Jersey political boss George Norcross, while Law has little money or internal support. Still, the group Patriot Majority, which usually focuses on Senate races, has dropped $150,000 on mailers to help Norcross. This isn't the first time major Democratic groups have prioritized Norcross over other races. In 2014, House Majority PAC moved resources out of the swingy 3rd District to help Norcross in the general election.
The 1st backed Obama 65-33 and Norcross ended up winning 57-39, so he wasn't in any danger of actually losing back then. But the decision probably wasn't made by Democratic higher-ups in DC: Because money given to HMP could be earmarked for certain races, when Garden State Democratic donors told the group to change direction and focus on the 1st instead of the 3rd, that's just what HMP did. The South Jersey political machine wanted to ensure that Norcross won easily so he'd avoid a strong challenger, and it's likely that those same people want Norcross to blow Law out of the water now to make sure that he doesn't get a stronger primary foe down the line.
● NY-01: Ex-Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst has had the airwaves to herself for most of the last month, but now venture capitalist Dave Calone, her rival in the June 28 Democratic primary, is taking to the airwaves. Calone's unmemorable opening spot is one of those ads that just throws a lot of ideas at the audience and hopes something sticks. The narrator mentions that Calone prosecuted corporate corruption as a federal prosecutor and notes that he's been endorsed by Democrats "in every part of Suffolk County," before pledging that Calone will "fight for clean water, a higher minimum wage, less money in politics." The primary winner will face Republican freshman Rep. Lee Zeldin in this swing seat.
● NY-22: Wealthy independent Martin Babinec is out with his first TV spot, where he promotes his humble origins and local roots. This open upstate seat is very competitive, and it's not clear which side Babinec will draw more votes from, and his generic spot doesn't give us any real clues about the type of campaign he'll run.
● WY-AL: Filing closed last week for Wyoming's Aug. 15 primary, and the state has a list of candidates here. All the action will be in the GOP primary to succeed retiring Rep. Cynthia Lummis in this safely red seat. Liz Cheney, the daughter of ex-Vice President Dick Cheney (who once represented this seat in the House) looks like the one to beat. The well-connected Cheney has dramatically outraised state Sen. Leland Christensen and state Rep. Tim Stubson. And while state GOP elites reacted with anger in 2013 when Cheney launched her brief primary campaign against Sen. Mike Enzi, few of them seem to have much of a problem with her running now.
● House: Less than two weeks ago, House Republicans belatedly coerced seven of their number to switch their votes from "aye" to "nay" on an amendment to a defense spending bill that would have prohibited federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation of gender identity, sending the proposal down to a narrow defeat after it had appeared to pass. The maneuver, which involved holding a two-minute vote open for almost eight minutes as seven GOP members changed their votes "quietly from the back benches," was utterly shameful.
It was also pointless. After Republicans endured days of withering criticism, Democrats brought the amendment up for another vote last Wednesday, and this time it passed—for real. One-hundred eighty Democrats were joined in supporting the measure by 43 Republicans, including all seven who had previously let themselves get goaded into flip-flopping by their party's top brass.
Despite this reversal in fortune, though, the story doesn't have a happy ending. The appropriations bill that the amendment was attached to (this time for energy and water projects) went down to a massive defeat on Thursday, after conservatives rebelled against GOP leaders and voted to reject the legislation. (At a conference shortly before the vote, Georgia Rep. Rick Allen read aloud New Testament verses that decree those who engage in homosexual acts to be "worthy of death.")
Republicans had also added poison pills to the energy bill, including one that would have barred the Obama administration from withholding federal funds from North Carolina in response to the state's new anti-LGBT law. That led nearly all Democrats to vote "no," too, including the sponsor of the pro-LGBT amendment, New York Rep. Sean Maloney. And it was a humiliating failure for Republican honchos, since the rejection of an appropriations bill is, as Roll Call's Lindsey McPherson puts it, a "rare occurrence," because House leadership will generally just yank its own dying bill from considering rather than watch it get executed at gunpoint on the floor.
And thanks to all this chaos, those flip-floppers are only worse off, too. They've even managed to one-up John Kerry, voting for the amendment before voting against it before voting for it—and after all that, they don't even get to say that the measure finally passed into law. The four members who face potentially competitive re-election fights this fall—Reps. Jeff Denham and David Valadao of California, David Young of Iowa, and Bruce Poliquin of Maine—can only wish they'd never gotten involved in this mess. But they only have themselves, and their party's leaders, to blame for it.
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.