● OH-Sen: Fighting for Ohio, the conservative super PAC backed by wealthy financiers that's aiding GOP Sen. Rob Portman's re-election campaign, is out with two new spots attacking Democratic ex-Gov. Ted Strickland. The first once again hits Strickland over job losses Ohio suffered while he was governor (conveniently, as always, omitting that whole Great Recession thing). It also ties Strickland to his "longtime friend Hillary Clinton," showing that infamous clip of Clinton saying, "We're gonna put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business." Despite the emotional tug of coal, though, the industry employs fewer than 3,000 workers in the entire state, which has a population of 11.6 million.
The second ad hits Strickland for earning "big bucks" working for a "liberal special interest group" (the Center for American Progress) "that claimed members of the military are paid too much." (That refers to a very sober report that concluded the rise in military personnel costs could harm our readiness—and were due to Congress pushing through pay raises that the Pentagon opposed.) It then features a scratchy, low-quality clip of Strickland saying, "I had a job last year that was a dream job. Paid me more money than I've ever made in my life." According to Politico, Fighting for Ohio is spending $1.5 million to run these ads statewide for two weeks.
● AZ-Sen: Republican Sen. John McCain goes positive in his new TV spot, highlighting his work advocating for a local Air Force base. Sadly, the ad never contains the words "Good news… from John McCain!"
● CO-Sen: On Tuesday, a judge threw out a lawsuit brought by a trio of plaintiffs seeking to knock former GOP state Rep. Jon Keyser off the ballot, saying the case had been filed long after the deadline for such challenges had passed. The plaintiffs, which interestingly included two Republicans, had wanted the judge to remove Keyser because his campaign had submitted signatures that have since been shown to be fraudulent. They have not yet said whether they will appeal.
Keyser, meanwhile, is forging ahead with his campaign and is airing his first TV ad of the primary. It's a garbage spot that features a very stiff Keyser claiming that Barack Obama "wants to give these guys"—Iran—"nuclear weapons, and Michael Bennet, he was all for it." It's reportedly backed by a mere $5,000 buy, which is joke-level for a statewide race. But given Keyser's legal travails, perhaps that's all he can afford.
● FL-Sen: Should Marco Rubio decide to reverse course and run for re-election, one question we'd wondered about is how the Club for Growth might react. The virulently anti-tax group endorsed Rep. Ron DeSantis long ago, but DeSantis offered some very non-committal remarks about whether he'd stay in were Rubio to join the GOP primary—and the Club likewise issued what appears to be a rather wishy-washy statement about DeSantis.
According to Alex Roarty, the Club said it would decline to start "speculating" about Rubio's future, but offered praise for both DeSantis and Rubio. While Roarty views the statement as positive for DeSantis since the Club specifically did not exhort Rubio to run, as other Republican groups have, it also didn't warn Rubio off in favor of DeSantis. And the Club might just be happy either way, since it backed Rubio in 2010 when he first ran for the Senate. If Rubio does seek another term, it wouldn't be surprising if the Club supported him again.
● IN-Gov: We're still in the phase of this race where both sides are just running positive spots. Republican Gov. Mike Pence's new commercial stars First Lady Karen Pence, who stresses the governor's commitment to education and noting that "he's been married to a teacher for 30 years." Democratic challenger John Gregg goes biographical and features ex-GOP state Rep. David Yount praising Gregg's bipartisanship.
● NC-Gov: The RGA is out with another 15-second TV spot against Democrat Roy Cooper. The narrator accuses Cooper of supporting higher taxes while cutting education programs. Cooper hasn't served in the legislature since 2001, but of course the commercial doesn't mention that.
● ND-Gov: GOP Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem is out with another spot in his quest to become the most frequently misspelled governor in America. Stenehjem's commercial crams as many talking points into 30 seconds as it can: Various people praise him for "fighting our out-of-control federal government" and protecting farmers, seniors, energy jobs, and children. The ad then notes that Stenehjem has the support of Sen. John Hoeven and Gov. Jack Dalrymple, as well as by the NRA and the North Dakota Republican Party. Stenehjem faces wealthy businessman Doug Burgum in the June 14 primary, and the winner should have little trouble prevailing in the fall.
● UT-Gov: Polls show that rich guy Jonathan Johnson is the very clear underdog in the June 28 GOP primary against Gov. Gary Herbert, but he's finally taking to the airwaves with a small $54,000 buy. Johnson's first spot accuses Herbert of raising taxes and pushing Common Core on Utah, while the second commercial argues that the incumbent is too chummy with lobbyists. Herbert has been outspending Johnson and so far, the challenger hasn't dumped much of his own money into his campaign.
● WV-Gov: The RGA is continuing their offensive against Democratic nominee Jim Justice with another spot. Once again, the narrator accuses Justice of getting rich off coal even though "his companies were sued for laying off employees without proper notice and failing to pay workers comp premiums." The narrator also goes after the safety record in Justice's mines.
● CA-24: The House Majority PAC has released a third ad in California's 24th Congressional District, slamming Republican Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian for his zero percent rating from Planned Parenthood and praising Democrat Salud Carbajal, a Santa Barbara County supervisor, for his record on reproductive choice. HMP says it's now spent "nearly $400,000" ahead of next week's top-two primary, reflecting Democratic fears that Republicans could win both slots and lock Team Blue out of the November general election.
Carbajal, meanwhile, is airing his zillionth TV spot, which mostly focuses on touting his environmental record but also tosses in some footage of retiring Rep. Lois Capps, who has endorsed Carbajal to succeed her.
● FL-04: It's time for another edition of our favorite game, Credible Candidate or Some Dude? This time, our contestant is Navy veteran Julia Fletcher, who recently kicked off a bid for this safely red Jacksonville seat. Fletcher's military credentials should be an asset in this area, but that's dependent on her having the resources and connections to get her name out in the late August primary.
Florida Politics does say that Fletcher has "been to D.C. in her capacity as a candidate, and we are told there will be endorsements to come, announced at a time of her campaign's choosing." Quarterly financial reports are due in mid-July, so we should know at least by then if Fletcher is a credible contender. Ex-Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford and attorney Hans Tanzler both look like they'll be well-funded, and state Rep. Lake Ray and St. Johns County Commissioner Bill McClure are also in the mix.
● FL-26: Businesswoman Annette Taddeo has the support of the DCCC in her bid to take down GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo, but there are signs her campaign is not faring well. Taddeo recently released an internal poll confirming that she trails her Democratic primary opponent, ex-Rep. Joe Garcia, by double digits, and now she's parted ways with three top staffers: her campaign manager, finance director, and communications director.
As we continually remind folks, stories about campaign staff turnover always need to be read in context: Campaigns are transient beasts, and some personnel shifts are inevitable, or might even constitute upgrades. But sometimes they can be harbingers of more serious problems, particularly when, as here, so many senior officials depart at once—and in the wake of dispiriting polling, no less. There's one positive sign, though, in that Taddeo's already found a replacement campaign manager, James Stretch, who came over from the campaign of actress/activist Melissa Gilbert, who just dropped her bid for Congress in Michigan.
● IA-03: With less than a week to go before the Democratic primary for this swing seat, veteran Jim Mowrer is airing a negative commercial against wealthy investor Mike Sherzan. The new TV spot isn't online yet, but Iowa Starting Line has transcribed it: The narrator argues that "while banker Mike Sherzan was fighting to weaken President Obama's Wall Street reform laws, Democrat Jim Mowrer was serving President Obama at the Pentagon."
Both candidates have spent a similar amount of cash so far, and no one has released any polls recently. However, if Mowrer is the only contender who ends up running negative ads in the next week, it's probably a sign that he doesn't feel that things are going well for him. Whoever emerges from Tuesday's primary will face freshman Republican Rep. David Young.
● IN-09: The general election in this open 57-41 Romney seat hasn't attracted much attention yet, but Democrat Shelli Yoder is hoping to change that. Yoder is out with a late May poll from Garin Hart Yang Research Group that shows her tied with Republican Trey Hollingsworth 41-41. Hollingsworth infamously moved from Tennessee to Southern Indiana just before he kicked off his campaign last year, which could be a liability in the fall.
Still, there's little doubt that the odds are very much against Yoder. Hollingsworth is a flawed candidate, but his carpetbagging doesn't exactly make him radioactive. And while Yoder had a credible $293,000 on-hand at the end of April, the wealthy Hollingsworth is more than capable of matching that. This seat is also stubbornly red. In 2012, GOP Senate nominee Richard Moudock lost to Democrat Joe Donnelly 50-44 statewide, but Mourdock still narrowly carried the 9th. If national Democrats start to show an interest in helping Yoder or if Hillary Clinton makes a serious effort to win Indiana's 11 electoral votes, then we'll want to take a serious look at this race. But for now, we rate this contest as Safe Republican.
● MD-06: Democratic Rep. John Delaney won a surprisingly narrow 50-48 victory during the 2014 GOP wave, but he shouldn't have much trouble in a presidential year in this 55-43 Obama seat. Still, Delaney is out with a late May poll from Garin Hart Yang Research Group that gives him a strong 59-31 lead over Republican Amie Hoeber, a former deputy undersecretary of the Army.
Hoeber is married to Qualcomm executive Mark Epstein, and he's funded a PAC called Maryland USA that spent $1.7 million for her in the primary. The group will almost certainly help Hoeber, who has also loaned her campaign $350,000, in the general. But Delaney is also wealthy, so he won't need to worry about being drowned out on the airwaves. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as Safe Democratic.
● MN-02: Filing closed Tuesday for Minnesota's Aug. 9 primary, and the state has a list of candidates available here.
Republican Rep. John Kline is retiring from a suburban Twin Cities seat where Obama edged Romney 49.1-49.0. The Democrats have consolidated behind Angie Craig, a wealthy former health care executive, but things are much more unstable on the GOP side. Former conservative radio host Jason Lewis won the state party's endorsement last month; while that's not the same thing as winning the Republican nomination, many voters and elected officials take the party endorsement very seriously. However, Lewis hasn't been a particularly strong fundraiser, and he has a long history of on-air racist and misogynistic remarks that he continues to stand behind, so he's not exactly the ideal Republican candidate for a swing district.
A few other Republicans are running in the primary. Businesswoman Darlene Miller, who has Kline's support, may be the GOP's best bet in a general election, though her opening fundraising quarter wasn't anything to write home about. Ex-state Sen. John Howe has been almost completely self-funding his campaign, but it's not clear how much more he's willing to throw down. Howe's recent electoral history also isn't incredible: In 2012, Howe lost his state Senate seat 52-47 even as Romney was carrying the district 50-48.
And on Tuesday, ex-Donald Trump state volunteer coordinator Matt Erickson launched a last-minute campaign by denouncing politicians as "stupid, lackluster cowards." Erickson doesn't look like a very serious candidate, but he could eat into Lewis' base in August. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as a Tossup, though Lewis in particular could damage the GOP here if he's their nominee.
● MN-03: Ever since he was first elected in 2008, Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen has been re-elected with ease in this swingy Twin Cities seat. However, Democrats are excited about their candidate, state Sen. Terri Bonoff. Bonoff has also won on competitive turf, and national Democrats have already made large fall ad reservations here and in the nearby 2nd District. However, Paulsen has a huge warchest and a reputation as a tough candidate. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as Lean Republican.
● MN-07: Republicans made a serious effort to oust Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson in this rural 54-44 Romney seat last cycle, but he pulled off a decisive 54-46 win even in the face of the GOP wave. This time, only two Some Dude Republicans are running, and Peterson should have no problem against either of them. Peterson is always flirting with retirement, and when he finally leaves, Team Red will have a great shot to flip this district at long last. However, Democrats don't have much to worry about this year, and Daily Kos Elections is moving this contest from Likely Democratic to Safe Democratic.
● MN-08: Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan defeated Republican businessman Stewart Mills 49-47 during the 2014 GOP wave, and Mills is back for another try. Mills has begun running ads, and he's capable of self-funding. However, even Mills seems to agree that Nolan starts with the edge. An April poll from Mills' campaign showed the Democrat up 49-46 even with Donald Trump defeating Hillary Clinton by an unlikely 43-30 margin. Obama won this Iron Range district 52-46, so that would be quite a collapse for Team Blue. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as Lean Democratic.
● NH-02: Former state Rep. Jim Lawrence, who'd been considering a bid since April, officially entered the GOP primary for New Hampshire's 2nd Congressional District this week. Lawrence ran a weak campaign in 2014, taking just 19 percent in that year's primary, but this year's Republican field looks remarkably feeble. The only candidate to even file an FEC report so far was former state House Majority Leader Jack Flanagan, and he raised just $5,000. Sophomore Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster is looking increasingly safe in this blue-leaning seat.
● NJ-01: Rep. Donald Norcross doesn't appear threatened by 25-year-old activist Alex Law in next week's Democratic primary, but it's still notable that Barack Obama just issued a rare endorsement on Norcross' behalf. Such endorsements are not necessarily a sign that an incumbent is in trouble; last fall, for instance, Obama gave his backing to Texas Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, who handily won her primary by a 69-24 margin back in March. Still, while there's probably nothing to see here, it'll be worth keeping one eye on New Jersey's 1st District come Tuesday.
● WI-01: Despite a white-hot burst of anger from nativists at House Speaker Paul Ryan for his failure to endorse Donald Trump, and a Sarah Palin endorsement of Ryan's primary challenger, it looks like there's nothing doing in Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District. A survey from Vox Populi on behalf of the Washington Free Beacon finds Ryan with an indomitable 80-7 lead on Some Dude Paul Nehlen, very similar to a poll from Remington Research, another Republican outfit, that put Ryan ahead 78-14 in early May. Gonna hit the snooze button on this one.
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.