● FL-23: Debbie Wasserman Schultz tripped into the jaws of hell over the weekend, and it doesn't look like she'll emerge from Hades any time soon. Following Wikileaks' release of a trove of unflattering emails stolen from the DNC (with Russia as the likely source behind the hack), Wasserman Schultz was forced to step down as committee chair. While some Bernie Sanders fans exploded in a cavalcade of rage because some of the emails showed DNC staffers trying to undermine Sanders' campaign, the most interesting facet of this whole debacle emerged in a Politico piece that reported that Hillary Clinton's own camp had tried to push Wasserman Schultz out as long ago as last year. The only reason she stayed on is because Barack Obama reportedly didn't want to expend the effort to oust her.
The timing couldn't have been worse for Wasserman Schultz, with the Democratic National Convention starting on Monday. She was replaced as DNC chair on an interim basis by Donna Brazile, who managed Al Gore's campaign in 2000, and as chair of the convention by Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge. Sanders supporters were not appeased, though, and they booed her continuously when she addressed her home-state delegation in Philadelphia on Monday morning. Wasserman Schultz defiantly promised, "You will see me every day between now and Nov. 8 on the campaign trail"—though Democrats didn't want her to gavel in the convention and ultimately succeeded in keeping her from the stage.
But it's probably not Philadelphia that should concern Wasserman Schultz: She still has a primary with law professor Tim Canova to worry about. Canova raised an insane $1.7 million in the second quarter, thanks in large part to Sanders backers eager to lash back at Wasserman Schultz, and spent $1.2 million. Wasserman Schultz, for all her many faults, is still an excellent fundraiser, and she took in $1.2 million herself. But she spent far less, just $546,000, so perhaps she's not all that concerned about her challenger.
However, those numbers all predate the email imbroglio, and it's hard to say how it'll play in Florida's 23th District. Wasserman Schultz still has a fundraiser on Aug. 5 with Joe Biden (it was originally scheduled for June but was postponed after the Pulse nightclub massacre), so that's a sign—contra her comparatively low spending—she's taking this race seriously. As we've noted before, Hillary Clinton prevailed here by a better than two-to-one margin in March's presidential primary, so that's a serious built-in obstacle to anyone trying to ride the Sanders movement to victory. But it's possible that disgust over these latest developments could jolt some Clinton supporters away from the incumbent, perhaps enough to make this contest truly competitive. We'll find out on Aug. 30.
2Q Fundraising: Be sure to check out our second quarter Senate fundraising chart, which we'll be updating as all the numbers come in.
● AR-Sen: Connor Eldridge (D): $290,000 raised, $315,000 cash-on-hand
● AZ-Sen: Kelli Ward (R): $312,000 raised, $205,000 cash-on-hand
● FL-Sen: Carlos Beruff (R): $190,000 raised, $4.1 million self-funded, $125,000 cash-on-hand
● IN-Sen: Evan Bayh (D): $9.5 million cash-on-hand
● KY-Sen: Rand Paul (R-inc): $1 million raised, $2.2 million cash-on-hand; Jim Gray (D): $1.1 million raised, $1.1 million cash-on-hand
● NC-Sen: Deborah Ross (D): $2 million raised, $1.9 million cash-on-hand
● PA-Sen: Pat Toomey (R-inc): $3.1 million raised, $7.7 million cash-on-hand; Katie McGinty (D): $2.8 million raised, $2.4 million cash-on-hand
● CA-Sen: Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez has a disturbingly long history of racially insensitive remarks, but her latest is really something. President Obama recently endorsed Sanchez's opponent in the November election, fellow Democrat Kamala Harris, and Sanchez did not react appropriately:
Sanchez was asked why the president had endorsed Harris in the unusual race between two Democrats this year. Speaking in Spanish, she noted that Obama and Harris are longtime friends, then added: "She is African American. He is, too."
Late last year, citing made-up statistics, Sanchez claimed that "between 5 and 20 percent" of Muslims "have a desire for a caliphate" and "are willing to use and they do use terrorism" to achieve those ends. Prior to that, Sanchez issued a mocking "war whoop" to describe an East Indian supporter whom she mistakenly thought was an American Indian. And in 2010, she complained that "the Vietnamese" were "trying to take" her House seat and give it to her Republican opponent that year, Van Tran, who is of Vietnamese ancestry.
These kinds of retrograde remarks are utterly embarrassing, particularly because Sanchez keeps making them. There are many reasons the Democratic establishment has rallied around Harris, and this is one of them. With any luck, she'll send Sanchez into early retirement this fall.
● CO-Sen: Darryl Glenn's fundraising has always been abysmal, but even as he was winning the Republican nomination last month, he was barely able to step up his financial operation. In the second quarter, Glenn raised just $299,000 (here and here), a weak number for a statewide contest, and finished with just $119,000 in the bank. By contrast, Glenn's Democratic opponent, Sen. Michael Bennet, took in $2.7 million during the same timeframe and has $6.1 million left over. That's incredibly lopsided.
But even though the NRSC still hasn't found a cure for Glenn's cooties, he has managed to earn some help from another outside organization called Restoration PAC, which is funded by a major GOP donor from Illinois named Richard Uihlein. The group is running a new TV ad that praises Glenn as an "underdog" and "outsider" and says nothing about his deeply conservative views—probably a smart move in swingy Colorado.
But that would be the first smart thing Restoration PAC's done in a while: Last year, it ran a mortifying ad in Wisconsin's Senate race that featured a photoshop of Barack Obama appearing to shake hands with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, even though the two had never met. The size of this latest buy is reportedly $800,000.
● IN-Sen: Less than two weeks after former Sen. Evan Bayh surprised the political world with his comeback bid, the DSCC is already out with an ad on his behalf. The spot attacks GOP Rep. Todd Young over Social Security, pointing to various comments in which he described the program as "welfare" and a "Ponzi scheme" and said it needed "deep cuts." Unfortunately, these phrases are all read by a narrator—if there's video or audio of Young saying this stuff (which is always more powerful), it wasn't included in this ad. According to Roll Call, it's a "six-figure" buy, though earlier (apparently incorrect) reports had said it was for seven figures.
● LA-Sen: Candidate filing closed in Louisiana on Friday, meaning that the deadline to run for Congress as a Republican or Democrat has passed in all 50 states. Louisiana has a list of candidates available here. All the candidates, regardless of party, will run together on one ballot on Nov. 8. In races where no one takes a majority, the two contenders with the most votes will face off in a Dec. 10.
After losing last year's gubernatorial contest, Republican Sen. David Vitter is retiring, and 24 candidates are running to succeed him. Polls show that Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy, who was Team Red's 2008 Senate nominee, is out in front, but he's nowhere close to taking a majority of the vote.
Republican Rep. Charles Boustany, who represents a Lafayette-area seat, is close to the House leadership, and he's a strong fundraiser. Fellow GOP Rep. John Fleming, who hails from north Louisiana, has the backing of more tea party-friendly groups like the Club for Growth, and Fleming has also done some self-funding. Former KKK leader David Duke decided to make a last-minute bid as a Republican, and it's possible he has enough support to at least make the runoff. Some minor GOP candidates include former investment banker Abhay Patel and ex-Rep. Joseph Cao.
On the Democratic side, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell has the support of Gov. John Bel Edwards. Campbell's main intra-party foe is attorney Caroline Fayard, who was Team Blue's 2010 lieutenant governor nominee. Businessman Josh Pellerin is also in, but he's raised very little money. Gary Landrieu, a cousin of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and ex-Sen. Mary Landrieu, also is running. Gary has a bad relationship with his famous relatives and a poor track record in New Orleans area-elections, but it's possible his well-known name could peel off some votes.
At this point, it's impossible to know if the December runoff will feature one Democrat facing one Republican, or if two Republicans will be competing. (It's also possible, but unlikely, that two Democrats will slip through the crowded field in this conservative state.) Daily Kos Elections rates the general as Safe Republican.
● NV-Sen: It's been a long time since we've seen a state poll from Rasmussen, but on behalf of KTNV-TV 13 Action News, they took a look at Nevada. The House of Ras gives Republican Joe Heck a 46-37 edge over Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, while that same sample has Donald Trump up 43-38. No other group has shown either Republican doing that well in Nevada this year, though polling here is limited.
As longtime readers know, Ras has a reputation for being very friendly to Team Red, though in 2014, their final polls usually overestimated the Democrats. This cycle, they've produced some very head-scratching numbers in their national polls, including a mid-July survey that gave Trump a 7-point edge, so it looks like they're back to their old ways.
● OH-Sen: PPP's new Ohio poll finds Republicans Sen. Rob Portman with a 43-38 lead on his Democratic opponent, ex-Gov. Ted Strickland. That's a bit worse than Portman's 40-39 edge back in June, but it may reflect something of a convention bounce for the GOP, which just held its quadrennial confab in Cleveland. Indeed, Donald Trump's standing has improved, from a 44-40 lead for Hillary Clinton last month to a 45-all tie now in a two-way race. (In a matchup with the Libertarian and Green Party candidates, Trump has a 42-39 advantage, but there are no trendlines for the four-way contest.)
More concerning, though, is Strickland's favorability rating, which clocks in at an atrocious 29-49. Portman's job approvals are also underwater, but at 31-37, they're not nearly as bad. PPP's last poll, which was taken for a client, didn't include Strickland's favorables, but if you go back to the poll before that, his favorability stood at 35-39, which is a bog-standard score for a PPP poll. So that's a rather terrifying drop since March, and it may reflect the harsh drumbeat of negative ads Republicans have directed Strickland's way. Democrats have also attacked Portman, but his approval rating has barely budged from March, when it was 35-38. Strickland really has to hope that this poll does in fact represent a post-convention bump for the opposition.
● VA-Sen: On Friday, Hillary Clinton picked Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate. If the Democratic ticket is successful in November, Terry McAuliffe, Virginia's Democratic governor and a close ally of the Clintons, would appoint Kaine's successor. A special election would be held on November 2017 for the final year of Kaine's term, which would coincide with Virginia's regularly-scheduled gubernatorial contest. The seat would then be up again in 2018 for a new six-year term. Virginia is a competitive state and if Kaine becomes vice president, voters can look forward to two expensive back-to-back Senate races.
● IN-Gov: On Tuesday, the central committee of the Indiana Republican Party will choose a replacement for Gov. Mike Pence on this fall's ballot, and the lobbying leading up to that decision has been intense. With time winding down one of the three leading contenders for the nomination, Rep. Susan Brooks, has released a poll from the Tarrance Group trying to argue, of course, that she's best-positioned to beat Democrat John Gregg in November. She doesn't make a very convincing case, though. Brooks' survey finds her trailing Gregg 41-36, the same as fellow Rep. Todd Rokita, and a little better than Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb's 42-34 deficit.
Those numbers are worse than those Rokita found in his own poll, which put him up 45-43, and they certainly don't look good for anyone—especially since Donald Trump has a wide 50-36 lead on Hillary Clinton. Brooks claims she has special appeal with women, but the evidence she puts forth is thin. And after positive messages were read to respondents, Tarrance says she took a "7-point lead" but doesn't even offer actual toplines, nor do they provide similar data for Brooks' competitors.
The bottom line is that it's very, very hard to show you're a more electable choice than your competitors without hard data, and neither Brooks nor Rokita has really put any forward, nor can they. There's a reason why all of these candidates perform so similarly against Gregg, and that's because they're little-known to Hoosiers. Ultimately, we'll never truly know how the central committee winds up making its decision, but if its members have any sense, they won't be swayed by any of these polls.
● CA-17: Former Commerce Department official Ro Khanna is out with his first TV ad in the all-Democratic general election for this Silicon Valley seat. The narrator argues that "[t]he Hillary Clinton White House will need a better Congress." The ad goes on to praise Khanna for not taking money from special interests, and pledges he'll "stand up to a corrupt Congress." Rep. Mike Honda is not mentioned.
● CA-52: Democratic Rep. Scott Peters won tight races in 2012 and 2014 in this competitive San Diego seat, but this cycle is looking a bit better for him. Peters faces Republican Denise Gitsham, a Karl Rove protégé, but neither party appears to be making this contest a major priority. Peters holds a huge $1.96 million to $307,000 cash-on-hand edge as of the end of June, and neither party seems to have made any fall TV reservations here. Obama won this seat 52-46 and if November goes well for Team Red, Gitsham could have a shot here. But right now, this looks like it's far from a top-tier contest, and Daily Kos Elections is changing our rating from Lean Democratic to Likely Democratic.
● DE-AL: Ex-state Labor Secretary Lisa Blunt Rochester, one of three Democrats competing in the Sept. 13 primary, is going up with what appears to be the first ad of the campaign. Rochester tells the audience that she visited a local Planned Parenthood clinic growing up, and notes that many women in the state benefit from the group's cancer screenings. She then denounces people who want to shut clinics like that down and "take us back to the 1950s."
Rochester faces veteran Sean Barney, a former aide to Gov. Jack Markell, and state Sen. Bryan Townsend in the race for this safely blue seat. At the end of June, Rochester led Barney $320,000 to $279,000 in cash-on-hand, while Townsend had $248,000 in the bank.
● IN-09: We've been pessimistic about Democrat Shelli Yoder's chances in this 57-41 Romney seat, a district that disastrous 2012 GOP Senate nominee Richard Mourdock still narrowly carried even as he was losing 50-44 statewide. However, Yoder released a poll last month showing her tied 41-41 with Trey Hollingsworth, a wealthy Republican who only moved to southern Indiana from Tennessee just before he kicked off his campaign. Hollingsworth's campaign never responded, but the DCCC recently added Yoder to their Red to Blue program for top-tier candidates, a sign that they think she has a real shot in November. Yoder also has a credible $504,000 warchest.
Yoder still faces tough odds in a seat this conservative. Hollingsworth is wealthy, and he's capable of running a fleet of ads if he feels threatened by Yoder. Hollingsworth's father also bankrolled a super PAC to help him in the primary, and the same thing could happen in the general. But Hollingsworth's weak ties to the area, plus Yoder's strengths as a candidate, give her an opening, especially if Democratic groups get involved. Daily Kos Elections is therefore changing our rating from Safe Republican to Likely Republican.
● LA-02: Rep. Cedric Richmond faces an intra-party challenge from East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden in this safely blue seat. It's very tough to see Richmond losing: Richmond doesn't appear to have done anything to alienate voters, and this district includes far more of Richmond's New Orleans-area base than the Baton Rouge area. Holden has done absolutely no fundraising during his first few months in the race, while Richmond has amassed a strong $702,000 warchest. Holden has also drawn plenty of criticism for his handling of aftermath of the death of Alton Sterling.
● LA-03: Twelve candidates are trying to succeed Senate candidate Charles Boustany in this safely red Acadiana seat, but Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle starts out as the clear frontrunner. Angelle already has plenty of name recognition from his 2015 gubernatorial run, where he did well in this area despite losing the jungle primary. Angelle also has more cash than all of his opponents combined. Some other notable Republicans include energy executive Greg Ellison; ex-state Rep. Brett Geymann; retired police officer Clay Higgins, who is a local celebrity from his "Crime Stoppers" videos; businessman Gus Rantz; and former Ambassador Grover Rees. Two minor Democrats are also in, and it's possible that one could take one of the two runoff spots.
● LA-04: Several Republicans are seeking to succeed Senate candidate John Fleming in this safely red Shreveport-area seat. Thanks to a mix of donors and self-funding, both physician Trey Baucum and Shreveport City Councilor Oliver Jenkins have about $474,000 on-hand each. State Rep. Mike Johnson, a favorite of religious conservatives, is far behind with $251,000, while the other Republican candidates, including ex-state Sen. Elbert Guillory, have very little cash between them. Just one minor Democrat is running, so it's very possible that only one of these Republicans will make it to the runoff.
● MI-01: Three Republicans are competing in the Aug. 2 primary for this competitive northern Michigan seat and somewhat surprisingly, retired Marine Lt. Gen. Jack Bergman has outspent his opponents in the final weeks of the campaign. From July 1 to the 13th, Bergman, who has self-funded most of his bid, spent $215,000. Ex-state Sen. Jason Allen dropped $45,000 during this time, while state Sen. Tom Casperson, who is backed by retiring Rep. Dan Benishek, spent $33,000.
Allen held a $190,000 to $113,000 cash-on-hand edge over Casperson, while Bergman only had $37,000 in the bank, though Bergman loaned his campaign an additional $20,000 after that. Defending Main Street, a group friendly to the GOP establishment, has recently also spent $100,000 on an ad against Allen, but it is not online yet; the group has also sent mailers out to help Casperson. The winner is likely to face ex-state Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson. While Romney carried this seat 54-45, Democrats are stronger downballot, and Johnson is a good fundraiser.
● MI-06: Republican Rep. Fred Upton has held this Kalamazoo-area seat since 1987, and he's always been re-elected by double-digits. During the 2014 GOP wave, professor Paul Clements, who benefited from spending from the group Mayday PAC, lost to Upton 56-40. Clements is trying again and thanks in part to Bernie Sanders' endorsement, he's raised a credible amount of money, though Upton's $1.4 million warchest still dwarf's Clements' $448,000 cash-on-hand. Romney only narrowly won this seat, and while Clements won't have an easy time unseating the entrenched congressman, he looks strong enough to put up a fight if Hillary Clinton does well here in November. Daily Kos Elections is adding this contest to the big board and changing our rating from Safe Republican to Likely Republican.
● MI-08: Romney won this seat just 51-48, and Democrats are hoping to give freshman Rep. Mike Bishop a strong challenge. The party's original candidate, actress Melissa Gilbert, dropped out in late May, and Team Blue landed Suzanna Shkreli, an assistant prosecutor in Macomb County, as a replacement. Shkreli filed to run on July 6 and raised about $100,000 in the ensuing week, a credible amount for such a short time frame.
Shkreli won't have an easy time against Bishop. None of Macomb County is in the 8th District, and Bishop has a strong $837,000 warchest. Still, Shkreli's haul shows she's a credible candidate, and she could have a shot if November goes well for Team Blue. As a result, Daily Kos Elections is moving this contest from Safe Republican to Likely Republican.
● MI-10: If money determines next week's primary for this safely red seat, businessman Paul Mitchell is in good shape. Mitchell, who has been self-funding his bid, spent $368,000 in just the first 13 days of July after dropping another $1.4 million during the previous three months. State Sen. Phil Pavlov deployed $34,000 from July 1 to the 13th after spending $135,000 in the previous three months, and he has only $83,000 on-hand; ex-state Sen. Alan Sanborn and state Rep. Tony Forlini have continued to spend very little.
However, as Mitchell found out in the 2014 GOP primary for Michigan's 4th District, money isn't everything. Back then, Mitchell outspent then-state Sen. John Moolenaar $645,000 to $215,000 in the leadup to the primary, but still lost 52-36. Mitchell also only just moved to suburban Detroit to run for the 10th, though his opponents may not have the resources to inform primary voters of that fact.
● NH-02: While both parties are planning to fight for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District, the contest for the 2nd is barely getting any attention. Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster survived the 2014 GOP wave 55-45, albeit against an opponent who spent the final weeks of the campaign defending herself from plagiarism charges. The Republicans aren't fielding very impressive candidates this time around either: Ex-state Rep. Jim Lawrence has just $20,000 in the bank, and he's the best-funded Republican. While New Hampshire is a volatile state, Obama's 54-45 win here gives Kuster plenty of room for error, and Daily Kos Elections is changing our rating from Likely to Safe Democratic.
● PA-06: While Romney only carried this suburban Philadelphia seat 51-48, freshman Republican Rep. Ryan Costello looks set to win a second term. Costello faces Mike Parrish, who has a tiny $45,000 on-hand and no real support from national Democrats. Even if there's a blue wave, Parrish just doesn't look strong enough to take advantage of it. Daily Kos Elections is changing our rating from Likely Republican to Safe Republican.
● PA-16: This open Lancaster County seat backed Romney 52-46, though Obama narrowly won it four years earlier. Democrat Christina Hartman recently released an early May poll showing Republican state Sen. Lloyd Smucker leading her by an unexpectedly small 48-43 margin, and Smucker never released contradictory numbers. Hartman and Smucker each have a little more than $200,000 on-hand, though Smucker did some self-funding during his primary.
The DCCC has added Hartman to their lower-tier Emerging Races list, though no one appears to have made any TV reservations for the fall. Republicans are strong downballot here, but Hartman looks strong enough that she could take advantage of a good Democratic year and pull off a surprise. Daily Kos Elections is adding this contest to the big board and moving it from Safe Republican to Likely Republican.
● VA-05: This central Virginia seat backed Romney 53-46, and it hasn't shown up on many Democratic target lists. However, Democrat Jane Dittmar, the chair of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, pulled in a surprisingly strong $300,000 over the last three months, and she has a $282,000 to $55,000 cash-on-hand edge over state Sen. Tom Garrett. The DCCC recently added Dittmar to their lower-tier Emerging Races program.
This seat won't be easy to flip, even under the best of circumstances. While Republican E.W. Jackson lost the 2013 lieutenant governor's race 55-45 statewide, he carried this seat 51-49. Still, Dittmar may be strong enough, and Garrett complacent enough, to put this district in play in a good environment for Democrats. Daily Kos Elections is changing our rating from Safe Republican to Likely Republican.
● WI-08: Democrats were excited when Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson kicked off his bid for this open 51-48 Romney seat, and he has not disappointed them. Nelson brought in a strong $530,000 during his opening quarter and unlike his two would-be GOP rivals, state Sen. Frank Lasee and former Scott Walker advisor Mike Gallagher, he doesn't need to use it in the Aug. 9 primary. Two Democratic groups, the DCCC and House Majority PAC, have reserved almost a total of $1 million here in fall advertising. Daily Kos Elections is moving this race from Lean Republican to Tossup.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir and Jeff Singer, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, and Stephen Wolf.