● NY-24: Freshman Rep. John Katko, one of this cycle's most vulnerable House Republicans, has released his first TV ad of the race—and it contains a bit of a doozy. Katko employs the now-standard "narrating while driving around the district" technique, mostly offering platitudes and a mention of his prior career as a prosecutor. But when Katko says he's been "working across the aisle, to get things done right" as a chyron on the screen reads "BIPARTISAN," we see footage of the congressman walking through downtown Syracuse with Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney … a fellow Republican. That's certainly an interesting definition of bipartisanship.
Katko claims the ad is backed by a "significant" buy, but an unnamed "Democratic source" tells the Auburn Citizen that only $7,000 is being spent to air it over the next two weeks. Even in a cheap media market, that's little more than a video press release. Katko's opponent in November is Democrat Colleen Deacon, a former aide to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
● CA-Sen: On Tuesday, both President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden endorsed state Attorney General Kamala Harris in California's all-Democratic Senate race. Several other influential state and national Democrats, including Gov. Jerry Brown and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have sided with Harris over Rep. Loretta Sanchez, but there's no more prominent backer than the president, of course.
Harris was already looking like the favorite against Sanchez before Tuesday. She's consistently outraised her opponent, and at the end of June, she held a strong $2.75 million to $918,000 cash-on-hand edge, plus polls have given her double-digit leads. Sanchez is the more conservative of the two, and her only real chance to win is to consolidate Republican voters while still winning enough Democrats to still be competitive in this solidly blue state. But that's much easier said than done, especially since a significant number of Republicans have told pollsters they'll just skip this race. Obama's decision to back Harris may motivate conservatives to flock to Sanchez, but that won't matter much if he helps Harris win over even more Democrats.
● FL-Sen: The Senate Majority PAC recently announced that it would soon kick off a $1 million ad buy on behalf of Rep. Patrick Murphy ahead his primary next month with fellow Rep. Alan Grayson, and now we have a copy of their ad. The message is simple: Barack Obama and Joe Biden have endorsed Murphy.
● OH-Sen: Republican Sen. Rob Portman has released a new TV ad in which he takes credit for the authorship and passage of a bill to combat opioid addiction, though Democrats have criticized it because it lacks funding to pay for the programs it authorizes. (They nevertheless voted for it, however, and President Obama said he'd sign it, despite his displeasure over the failure to fund it.) Portman's campaign says it's running a "six-figure buy," which is usually code for "somewhere just north of $100,000."
● IN-Gov: While Donald Trump's selection of Gov. Mike Pence as his running-mate scrambled Indiana's gubernatorial race, the Democratic Governors Association just provided an unambiguous sign that it still believes in its nominee, former state House Speaker John Gregg, in the form of a $500,000 donation to his campaign. It remains to be seen whether Republicans will pick a replacement who is stronger, weaker, or immaterially different from Pence, but this at least demonstrates that Democrats plan to compete here come what may.
And as the GOP's state central committee prepares to gather on July 26 to choose a substitute candidate, a fourth Republican has submitted his name for consideration, state Sen. Jim Tomes. But Tomes seems like a serious long shot, by his own admission: He said the odds against him getting selected as "staggering." What's more, the three main contenders, Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb and Reps. Susan Brooks and Todd Rokita, are all in Cleveland, wooing members of the central committee, who are attending the Republican National Convention. It doesn't appear that Tomes made the trip.
● MO-Gov: What does a competitive four-way primary look like in a state with no donation limits? With two weeks to go before the Aug. 2 gubernatorial contest, Missouri Republicans are learning. From April 1 to June 30, retired Navy SEAL Eric Greitens, who has led in two released polls, narrowly outspent rich guy John Brunner $2.85 million to $2.6 million. Former U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway, who has been funded mainly by conservative zillionare Rex Sinquefield and his allies, spent plenty as well, almost $2 million. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, however, has trailed his rivals in fundraising, and he only shelled out $610,000 during the period.
However, all of the candidates, even Kinder, will have more than enough money for the final two weeks. Three of the contenders have taken in considerable sums of cash since July began, while Brunner just donated another $1 million to himself. In recent days, a group called SEALs for Truth donated $2 million to Greitens, while two Sinquefield groups sent at least another $850,000 to Hanaway. Meanwhile, two wealthy siblings, David Humphreys and Sarah Atkins, have donated a combined $1 million to Kinder's campaign.
All this money being thrown around means that Missourians should get used to seeing a lot of ads in the near future. Brunner recently went up with a new spot bemoaning "chaos in Ferguson" and "Syrian refugees in Missouri," blaming President Obama and termed-out Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon. The narrator then promotes Brunner as a "tough Marine" and a successful businessman. While Brunner's past ads have targeted Greitens, he doesn't mention any of his primary rivals this time. The GOP nominee will face Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster.
● VA-Gov: Three Republicans have made it clear that they'll run for governor next year, but only one of them is raising a credible amount of cash. Ex-RNC head Ed Gillespie, who was Team Red's Senate nominee in 2014, brought in $852,000 during the first six months of the year, and he has about $1 million in the bank.
Rep. Rob Wittman only started raising money in April, but his $57,000 haul pales in comparison. Wittman is running for re-election to the House this year, but he has little to distract him in his safely red seat. Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, who is currently serving as Donald Trump's state campaign chair, brought in nothing and says he won't raise money until he officially kicks of his candidacy in October. Of note: The GOP nominee will be decided at a party convention next spring instead of through a primary. The winner will almost certainly face Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, who has the support of Virginia's influential Democratic leaders and no intra-party foe in sight. Northam brought in $1 million during the first half of 2016, and he has $1.4 million on-hand.
● VT-Gov: Both parties hold their primaries on Aug. 9, and with very little polling on the Democratic side, there's no telling what will happen. So far, ex-state Sen. Matt Dunne narrowly outspent former state Transportation Secretary Sue Minter $611,000 to $596,000 over the last four months. Ex-state Sen. Peter Galbraith got into the race months after his two rivals, and the Burlington Free Press says he's only spent "a couple of hundred thousand dollars on television ads," though he's done some self-funding. Galbraith is also out with a new commercial, where he decries corporations that took Vermont taxpayer money and never paid it back, or even moved jobs out of the state. Galbraith then brags that in the legislature, he "opposed every corporate giveaway."
On the GOP side, the establishment-backed Lt. Gov. Phil Scott looks like the clear favorite against former Wall Street investor Bruce Lisman, but Lisman's hoping that he can change that with heavy spending. Lisman has spent $1.7 million over the last few months (most of that money came from his own pocket), much more than the $467,000 that Scott has deployed.
But Scott is out with his first TV spot, and he tells the audience that "[w]hat passes for business as usual on Wall Street has never been in line with Vermont values. So although my opponent's misleading ads are disappointing, Vermonters know the truth." Scott then highlights his humble origins, and says that "[i]f you want to make Vermont more affordable, the economy stronger, and political campaigns an example for our children, join us." Scott may be worried about Lisman, but it's also possible that he's attacking Wall Street to better position himself for the general election in this blue state.
● Fundraising: Daily Kos Elections' massive second quarter fundraising chart is now available. We have listings for over 240 candidates ranging from long shots to top-tier contenders, with plenty of hotly contested primaries thrown in as well. You won't find a more comprehensive—and more succinct—roundup anywhere else.
● FL-13: Rather unexpectedly, Democrat Charlie Crist has released an internal poll from Anzalone Liszt Grove showing him with a very healthy 50-38 lead on GOP Rep. David Jolly. The numbers are a surprise, though, because it was just a month ago that Crist had leaked a different private survey from PPP that found him ahead by just a 46-43 margin. So what should we conclude when one candidate's own polls don't even agree with one another?
It's hard to know, of course, where things truly stand in such an unusual situation, but it's important to note that Crist shared the PPP results in response to a Jolly internal (from the execrable McLaughlin & Associates) that put the Republican up 50-38 shortly after he decided to abandon Florida's Senate race and seek re-election. As epically terrible as McLaughlin is, few media accounts are going to delve into the firm's disastrous track record. Far easier to rebut your opponent's poll with a poll of your own, and PPP offers a cheap and quick way to get some data out there.
But even if this version of how things went down is correct, at most it explains why Crist has used two different pollsters in a short span of time. It doesn't tell us which one—if any—is right. Ordinarily, we'd say to wait for more polling, or to see if an opposing campaign responds, but we've already heard from all sides (not to mention a fourth shop, the independent St. Pete Polls, which found a 44-all tie in early June).
However, Anzalone did offer one additional piece of information that gives their results credibility: The firm found Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by a 45-42 margin, a much narrower spread than Barack Obama's 55-44 win in 2012 (according to the redrawn district's new lines). Since statewide Florida polls show Clinton doing better than Obama, it's unlikely that Anzalone's sample was too favorable for Crist. If anything, it's a bit bearish.
At this point, though, the biggest tell will be whether the NRCC, which despises Jolly, decides to match the big Democratic ad reservations in this district, or if they instead just write it off. In other words, outlook hazy—try again later.
● FL-26: Businesswoman Annette Taddeo is up with her first TV ad ahead of the Aug. 30 Democratic primary. Taddeo goes biographical and ignores both ex-Rep. Joe Garcia, her primary foe, and GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo. The commercial starts with her daughter exclaiming, "'I'm Annette Taddeo, and I'm running for Congress!' Like that, mom." Taddeo then jumps in and says that she's actually the one running, and her daughter is the reason why. Taddeo describes how she came to the US and started a business after putting herself through college. Taddeo then lays out her platform, which includes "no to Donald Trump." There's a brief shot of Taddeo with Charlie Crist, who chose her as his running mate during the 2014 gubernatorial race.
Taddeo recently replaced much of her campaign staff, a move that came after her own poll showed her badly losing to Garcia. The shakeup doesn't appear to have harmed Taddeo's fundraising, though: She outraised Garcia $294,000 to $194,000 over the last three months, and she maintains a $622,000 to $412,000 cash-on-hand edge. Curbelo, meanwhile, has a tough task ahead of him if he wants to win re-election in a redrawn seat that backed Obama 55-44, but money won't be an issue for him. The congressman has a massive $2.1 million warchest, and he doesn't need to use any of it in a primary. The good news for his eventual opponent is that Democratic outside groups have reserved a combined $5 million for the fall, so Curbelo most certainly won't have the airwaves to himself.
● IL-10: In a new ad, Republican Rep. Bob Dold! uses footage of Hillary Clinton lambasting Donald Trump over his tax returns to attack his own opponent, Democrat Brad Schneider. A clip of Clinton shows her saying, "If you've got someone who's afraid to release his tax returns, I think that's a big problem," followed by a narrator saying, "Schneider refuses to release his household tax returns to the public." That word "household" is key here: Schneider says he has released his returns, but they only go back to 2013, and only cover his own income as a solo filer.
Prior to that, Schneider and his wife, Julie, filed jointly, and Schneider insists he won't share any of those returns in order to protect his spouse's "privacy." Julie Schneider is a managing director at Mesirow Financial, a major financial services firm based in Chicago, so evidently the Schneiders don't want to disclose her tax status. Schneider's trying to frame Dold's ad as an attack on his family, but given how rare it is for politicians to refuse to share their tax returns, this kind of hair-splitting makes for a poor defense.
● LA-03: With several months to go before the November jungle primary for this safely red seat, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle is going up with his first ad. Angelle tells the audience that he was raised to say "[y]es sir, and yes ma'am" to police officers. He then says that attacks on the police have to stop, arguing that "[i]t's time for everyone, Republican, Democrat, black, white, to take a stand. We need more people backing the badge, and fewer people attacking the badge." Angelle has more cash than the other five Republican candidates put together, and he has plenty of name-recognition from his unsuccessful 2015 gubernatorial bid, so he won't be easy to beat.
● WI-08: Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, who doesn't face any opposition in the Aug. 16 Democratic primary, is one of the first House candidates anywhere to air a general election TV ad. Nelson goes biographical, showing some pictures of the church his father founded, the mill he worked at to help pay for his education, his home, and the county office building where he works. He then says he's "doing what government is supposed to do: work together, protect seniors, balance our budget." Nelson concludes by arguing he has the experience to bring people together and "governing with Wisconsin common sense."
Romney narrowly carried this open seat 51-48, and national Democrats are excited about Nelson. The DCCC and House Majority PAC have reserved almost a combined $1 million in fall TV time here, and Nelson raised a strong $530,000 during his opening fundraising quarter. Nelson will need to wait a few weeks to learn the identity of his Republican opponent: While state Sen. Frank Lasee entered the contest with more name recognition, former Marine Mike Gallagher is badly outraising and outspending him.