● FL-Sen: Following the recent burst of chatter that Sen. Marco Rubio might seek re-election, one of the guys running to succeed him, GOP Rep. David Jolly, said in a new interview that he thinks "all signs are pointing to him [Rubio] running." Jolly might want to re-read those signs. Miami Herald reporter Patricia Mazzei just obtained a copy of an invitation for what looks like a major fundraiser near Miami for Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, headlined by none other than Rubio, who has described Lopez-Cantera as his "real good friend."
The kicker? The event is scheduled for June 24, which Rubio well knows is the filing deadline for the August primary. Rubio is well-known for dicking people over, but this would be an epic screw-you to CLC if Rubio were to change gears now. A bridge too far even for Marco? We'll just have to see.
And here's something that might budge him: Mason-Dixon has a new pollof both parties' nomination battles, and they also asked voters whether they think Rubio should seek a second term in the Senate. Fully 77 percent of Republicans agreed. The pollster did not, however, include Rubio in their test of the GOP primary, which has wealthy businessman Carlos Beruff in first with 17, while Jolly is in second with 13, Rep. Ron DeSantis at 10, and Lopez-Cantera at 9. Half of all respondents are undecided.
Among Democrats, meanwhile, Rep. Patrick Murphy has a 31-23 lead on Rep. Alan Grayson, a bit closer than the 33-19 advantage Murphy sported back in March. While usually it's Grayson who earns the bad headlines, Murphy's generated some unwanted stories recently through a series of unforced errors that all revolve around his professional background. The latest involves his claim to have worked "several years" as a certified public accountant; according to Politico, Murphy only held a CPA license for nine months of his tenure at Deloitte & Touche's Miami office.
Previously, Murphy had said he'd graduated with two bachelor's degrees; it turned out he'd only received one. He also said he'd spent "six months in the Gulf of Mexico leading cleanup efforts" as head of his environmental recovery company after the disastrous 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, but a timeline provided by his own campaign contradicted that claim as well.
Murphy's just 33, and he's been attacked by both Republicans and Grayson as an over-privileged party boy who owes his success to his wealthy father, so you can almost understand why he'd want to pad out his resume. But that's just something you cannot do in this day and age, because you'll get busted every time. And it's an especially bad move because no one is going to vote for Patrick Murphy because they think he has two college degrees. However, people might vote against him if his opponents can weave a negative narrative out of these needless mistakes.
Murphy needs the primary to be about Alan Grayson, and he needs the general election to be about Donald Trump. The one thing he does not want is for either race to be about him. Murphy and his campaign should be going over all of his public statements with a proverbial fine-tooth comb to make sure there's nothing else like this lurking out there.
● CA-Sen: Just talking out loud here, but maybe if you're running for statewide office, it's not a good idea to slam half of your, you know, state? Meh, you'd be wasting your breath if you tried to tell that to Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez:
After more questioning, one of the men concurred with Sanchez that the state doesn't need another Bay Area native in statewide office.
"They control everything. They control everything, so we're trying to beat them," Sanchez said. "So vote Sanchez. Please."
What's even more ridiculous about this is that Northern California by no means has a monopoly on power in the Golden State. The Democrats who head each body of the legislature are both from Southern California, and Gov. Jerry Brown's political career started in Los Angeles; only much later did he become mayor of Oakland. Of course, Sanchez is just trying to pit voters against her main Democratic rival, Bay Area native Kamala Harris, but this kind of invidiousness is not a winning strategy.
● CO-Sen: The tea party friendly group Senate Conservatives Fund recently endorsed El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn in the June 28 GOP primary, but they're not exactly saturating the airwaves for him so far. SCF's first ad, which is running for just $50,000, takes an excerpt of Glenn's well-received April state party convention speech, before the narrator characterizes him as a conservative outsider. Glenn only had $11,000 on-hand at the end of March.
Meanwhile, ex-Aurora Councilor Ryan Frazier is going up with his first TV spot, and it's certainly memorable. The spot features the "Washington elite" advancing from the U.S. Capitol looking like zombies, whom Frazier characterizes as "takers." The narrator then calls Frazier a "Naval intelligence veteran, business leader, outsider, zombie hunter," even though the ad doesn't actually show Frazier doing anything to face down the zombies. Frazier recently placed a $103,000 reservation from June 6 to June 17. Another GOP candidate, ex-Colorado State University Athletic Director Jack Graham, is also putting another $300,000 behind his unremarkable introductory ad; Graham originally spent $455,000 on it.
● IA-Sen: A last-minute poll of Iowa's Democratic Senate primary from Selzer & Co. confirms a survey from Republican pollster Remington Research last week that put ex-Lt. Gov. Patty Judge ahead of state Sen. Rob Hogg. Selzer gives Judge a 42-25 lead, not too different from the 41-32 advantage Remington found late last week. Judge and Hogg (pronounced "Hoag") are both hoping to take on GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley in the general election.
● Senate: One Nation, a dark money GOP group linked to Karl Rove and his Crossroads network, says it plans to run $16 million worth of TV ads in five key Senate races "in the coming weeks," per the Wall Street Journal. The purchases break down like so:
MO: $1.5 million
NH: $4.6 million
NV: $2.3 million
OH: $4.8 million
PA: $2.7 million
The New Hampshire buy is already getting underway, with a new ad that attacks Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan for not spending enough taxpayer dollars—rather strange messaging from a conservative group. The spot hits Hassan failing to tackle the state's heroin epidemic with sufficient vigor, claiming that "in New England, New Hampshire ranked dead last in spending on substance abuse programs in 2014." Whatever works, we suppose.
Meanwhile, Missouri's inclusion is very interesting, since Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander's campaign to unseat GOP Sen. Roy Blunt has always felt like long shot. But Kander was also recently included as part of a joint fundraising committee with the DSCC and other top-tier candidates, so perhaps private polling is showing something that we haven't yet seen publicly.
● IN-Gov: We have our first (but by no means our last) negative TV spot of this race, courtesy of the Republican Governors Association. The RGA's commercial accuses Democrat John Gregg of turning a surplus into a deficit while he was speaker of the state House, and says he supported a tax hike. The narrator also says that Gregg "did side work for scandal-ridden Enron" while he was being paid by taxpayers.
Gregg quickly went up with his own commercial defending himself. Gregg's narrator says that GOP incumbent Mike Pence "is wrong about John Gregg's record," arguing that Gregg worked to balance the budget and lower taxes. The commercial also features a former GOP state representative characterizing Gregg as "a fiscal conservative." Beyond the brief shot at Pence at the beginning, the ad is positive.
● MO-Gov: Two Republican candidates are taking to the airwaves for the first time. Retired Navy SEAL Eric Greitens' commercial starts with him holding a gun and ends with him firing it at an unseen target and causing it to explode, as the candidate takes "dead aim at politics as usual." In between, Greitens characterizes himself as a conservative outsider. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder's spot does not feature any gunfire or explosions, but it does feature him talking to the camera and bashing the Obama administration, which is almost as exciting. Kinder's ad is running statewide for $32,000, while there is no word on the size of Greitens' offering.
● NC-Gov: The Faith and Freedom Coalition is going on the air against Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper, and you can probably guess exactly what their commercial is about. The narrator lays out the religious right's argument for North Carolina's notorious anti-LGBT law HB2, arguing that girls simply didn't want boys using their bathroom, and says that Obama and national groups are just latching onto the controversy. At the very end, the narrator calls for Cooper to "defend North Carolina." A spot like this probably isn't going to persuade anyone who isn't already an ardent supporter of HB2, and very few of those people are backing Cooper anyway.
● CA-21: Republican Rep. David Valadao has easily won two terms in this Central Valley seat, even though Obama carried it 55-44. Democrats are hoping that 2016 will change things, though, particularly if Donald Trump fires up a serious backlash in this heavily Latino district. Two Democrats are competing to face Valadao in Tuesday's top-two primary, and Valadao is up with a TV spot designed to help one of them, Fowler Councilor Daniel Parra, advance.
Valadao's commercial "attacks" Parra for supporting Obamacare, favoring Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown's high-speed rail plan, and being "backed by labor unions and Democrat leaders like [congresswoman] Linda Sanchez." Of course, Valadao is actually hoping that these hits will make Parra more appealing to Democrats. It's not hard to see why Valadao's trying to help him: While attorney Emilio Huerta hasn't raised much money, he's absolutely flush with cash compared to Parra. Huerta is also the son of labor leader Dolores Huerta, so he may stand out more in the general election than the more anonymous Parra would.
● FL-19: On Friday, 2012 candidate Byron Donalds announced that he would continue his bid for the state House rather than join the GOP field for this safely red open seat. However, ex-Secret Service agent Dan Bongino has filed paperwork with the FEC, and confirms that he's "exploring options in the 19th."
Bongino was Team Red's 2012 Senate nominee in Maryland, and he ran an unremarkable race. However, Bongino lost to Maryland Democratic Rep. John Delaney by an unexpectedly tight 50-48 margin in 2014. Bongino mulled running against Delaney again, and he also initially didn't rule out a bid for Maryland's Senate seat. However, Bongino soon moved to Florida and before too long, he openly considered running for Florida's 18th District, which is located far away from the 19th District, and for the U.S. Senate. So for those keeping score, Bongino has considered running for five different offices in two states in one election cycle.
Bongino is a minor celebrity in conservative circles for his book bashing Obama, and he does have a fundraising network from his Maryland campaigns, but he'd probably need a lot to go right if he wants to win the late August primary. Wealthy ex-Ambassador Francis Rooney and
attorney former Paul Ryan aide Chauncey Goss, the son of former Rep. Porter Goss, are both in, while ex-state Rep. Paige Kreegel has formed a PAC in preparation for a likely bid.
● NC-02: GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers has been beset on all sides, from anti-taxers to anti-abortionites, but one Republican figure has ridden to her rescue: Donald Trump. Just ahead of Tuesday's primary, Trump issued his first congressional endorsement of the cycle and recorded a robocall for Ellmers, who in March became the first woman in Congress to back Trump.
Despite previously expressing a preference for John Kasich, Ellmers had sought to tie herself to Trump after he narrowly won North Carolina's presidential primary over Ted Cruz, so now Trump is repaying her obeisance. (Given the tardiness of Ellmers’ endorsement, though, Trump may have been more motivated by the fact that her chief antagonist, the Club for Growth, also despises him.) But it’s very unlikely that The Donald will be enough to save Ellmers from fellow GOP Rep. George Holding, whose bragging about favorable internal polls Ellmers has never sought to gainsay.
● NJ-01: Until recently, freshman Democratic Rep. Donald Norcross looked safe against 25-year-old activist Alex Law in this safely blue South Jersey seat. Law has raised very little money while Norcross is the brother of powerful South Jersey political boss George Norcross. However, Norcross' and his allies seem to be taking Law seriously. Norcross recently loaned his campaign $235,000 of his own money, a sign that this contest isn't as one-sided as it initially looked. The Democratic group Patriot Majority also spent $215,000 on mailers for the incumbent, while President Obama also endorsed him in the last week of the campaign. Even if they don't think Law can win, Norcross and his friends may be worried that a weak victory could encourage a stronger primary opponent in the future.
● NV-03: The June 14 GOP primary for this swing seat pits state Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, the favorite of the party establishment, against wealthy perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian. From April 1 to May 25, Tarkanian outspent Roberson $524,000 to $459,000. Tarkanian is also up with another spot for the final week. The narrator accuses Roberson of lying when he promised not to raise taxes, and says Roberson is now lying about Tarkanian "to hide his own disgraceful record for supporting amnesty" as well as citizenship and driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. A third candidate, Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, has largely been spending on direct mail fundraising. Fiore threatens to take some tea party friendly votes from Tarkanian, so Tarkanian (and Democrats) will be happy if she doesn't make much of an impact next week.
On the Democratic side, Jacky Rosen, who is backed by Sen. Harry Reid and the DCCC, shouldn't have much trouble next Tuesday. Rosen has the support of several influential labor groups, and she outspent attorney Jesse Sbaih $188,000 to $63,000 during the pre-primary period. While Sbaih loaned his campaign $500,000, he's barely used any of it. In fact, Sbaih only hired his campaign manager 12 days before Election Day. Sbaih did recently go up with two very cheap-looking 15-second spots (here and here). Early voting has been going on for a while, so this is almost certainly far too little, far too late.
● NV-04: The June 14 Democratic primary to face Republican Rep. Cresent Hardy has unsurprisingly become an expensive affair. Education activist Susie Lee has been partially self-funding her campaign, and she spent $557,000 from April 1 to May 25; Lee also loaned her campaign an additional $200,000 recently. Lee is out with another commercial, which emphasizes her background in education.
Ex-Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, who was Team Blue's nominee for lieutenant governor in 2014, struggled with fundraising until Bernie Sanders asked his massive list to donate to her. The difference has been earth-shattering: Flores brought in $610,000 in a little less than two months, much more than the $376,000 she'd raised during the previous 10 months. Flores spent a hefty $532,000 during this period.
State Sen. Ruben Kihuen dropped $475,000 during this time, and he's benefited from outside spending from labor groups. Kihuen has the support of Sen. Harry Reid, ex-President Bill Clinton, and Nevada's influential unions, endorsements he hasn't been shy about touting in his commercials. Unlike his would-be Democratic opponents, Hardy has had the chance to bulk up his warchest over the last year. Hardy had $682,000 on-hand at the end of May, but even if he had $2 million in the bank, he'd be facing a very tough re-election campaign in this 54-44 Obama seat.
● NY-13: Well, now we at least know who to root against. Democratic state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who is making his third bid for retiring Rep. Charlie Rangel's House seat, was just endorsed by fellow state Sen. Jeff Klein, one of the worst human beings in New York State. Despite claiming to be a progressive, Klein abandoned the Democratic Party several years ago to form a renegade faction called the Independent Democratic Conference, which handed control of the Senate to the GOP. Since then, Republicans have thwarted all manner of progressive priorities, abetted every step of the way by Klein and his fellow turncoats.
Espaillat never joined the IDC, but Klein is a prolific, well-connected fundraiser who can probably help steer cash Espaillat's way. Of course, few voters in the district will care about this rather arcane bit of inside baseball, but assiduous observers will immediately appreciate what Espaillat's alliance with Klein says about Espaillat's priorities. Several other Democratic are running in the primary in this dark blue seat, but the leading alternative appears to be Assemblyman Keith Wright, who has Rangel's blessing. Wright, a creature of Albany since 1993, may not be an exemplar of political independence, but at least he's not in bed with the likes of Klein.
● NY-19: Ex-Assembly Minority Leader John Faso and businessman Andrew Heaney are locked in an expensive and negative June 28 GOP primary, and Faso is out with a new poll arguing he has a clear edge. But McLaughlin and Associates has a horrific track record, so Faso shouldn't take much comfort in the 51-32 lead they give him. Still, while Heaney's team of course scoffed at the results, they haven't released any contradictory numbers yet. Obama won 52-46 here.
● SC-01: It looks like Republican primary voters won't be telling Rep. Mark Sanford to take another hike next week. While state Rep. Jenny Horne briefly captured national attention last year when she called for the Confederate flag to be removed from the South Carolina state House grounds, she's raised just $115,000 during her entire campaign against Sanford. The incumbent doesn't seem to be taking this contest seriously: Sanford actually let Horne outspent him $48,000 to $17,000 over the last two months, and he left his nearly $1 million warchest almost completely untouched. This seat is safely red.
● TN-04: Former Romney aide Grant Starrett is out with his first spot ahead of his August GOP primary with Rep. Scott DesJarlais. Starrett tells the audience that "our nation has been taken over by politically correct cowards." Starrett then accuses the Obama administration of "going easy on radical Muslims, financing abortionists, and paying people not to work." Starrett concludes by saying that "the time has come for us to fight for what we believe," with him throwing in an awkward fist pump for good measure. The ad doesn't mention DesJarlais, though the brief reference to abortion may not be a coincidence. That may be an allusion to DesJarlais' infamous scandal, where the congressman tried to convince one of his mistresses (whom he'd been treating as her physician) to terminate a pregnancy.
● VA-02: Court-ordered redistricting turned Republican Rep. Randy Forbes' old House seat safely blue, and he kicked off a bid for the open 2nd District after GOP incumbent Scott Rigell decided to retire. Forbes' hasn't represented any of this Hampton Roads seat since at least 2003, but he's arguing that his seniority will be an asset to an area where the military is a huge presence. Forbes' primary foe, state Del. Scott Taylor, is portraying Forbes as a carpetbagger, but the congressman is burying Taylor in spending. From April 1 to May 25, Forbes outspent Taylor $711,000 to $91,000; a third candidate, attorney Pat Cardwell, dropped just $32,000 during this time.
However, despite Forbes' massive financial edge, he appears to be taking Taylor seriously. Forbes' ads have been positive until now, but his new commercial argues that Taylor has the "wrong kind of judgment." That spot also features Rigell and Rep. Rob Wittman, who also represents a portion of the 2nd, praising Forbes. This seat only narrowly voted for Romney but the only Democrat in the contest, perennial candidate Shaun Brown, hasn't reported raising any cash at all.
● VA-04: Next week's primary for this safely blue Richmond seat looks like it will be a layup for state Sen. Don McEachin. McEachin has the backing of Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, while his opponent, Chesapeake City Councilor Ella Ward, doesn't have much internal support. This has been a very sleepy race, with McEachin outspending Ward $34,000 to $14,000. The GOP actually has a non-Some Dude candidate in Henrico County Sheriff Mike Wade. However, Wade has raised very little money and most of his constituents live in the 7th, so it doesn't look like he'll have much of a shot in this 61-39 Obama seat.
● NRCC: While both the DCCC and the pro-Democratic House Majority PAC have been publicly releasing details of their fall TV ad reservations in dozens of districts for months, Republicans hadn't shared any information about their plans until now. The NRCC is apparently starting small with just four reservations, totaling $7 million. Here's how they break down by district:
CA-07: $3 million
MI-01: $1 million
NY-24: $1.5 million
TX-23: $1.5 million
NY-24 and TX-23 are held by Republican Reps. John Katko and Will Hurd, respectively, while MI-01 is an open seat where GOP Rep. Dan Benishek is retiring. The only offensive opportunity on this short list is CA-07, where Democratic Rep. Ami Bera, whose father recently pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud, faces a challenge from Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones.
● International: What would it be like if Donald Trump became president? Well, the world's 12th-largest nation is about to find out. Last month, voters in the Philippines elected Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, a Trump-esque strongman and self-described "womanizer" who has suggested that murdered journalists did something to deserve their fate and has even been accused of sanctioning extra-judicial mass killings of alleged drug traffickers. You can get the full details on this troubling development in the June edition of the Daily Kos Elections International Digest, along with updates on "Brexit" in the UK, upcoming federal elections in Australia, and the formation of government in Ireland, plus much, much more from around the globe.
● Primaries: Tuesday brings us our biggest downballot primary night of the cycle, with competitive races in California, Iowa, New Jersey, and North Carolina. As always, Jeff Singer gives us our preview of what to watch. The first polls close at 7:30 PM ET in North Carolina, and we'll be live-blogging the results at Daily Kos Elections, as well as live-tweeting.
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.