● FL-Sen: According to a new piece in Politico, Florida Rep. Alan Grayson's ex-wife filed multiple police reports against him over a two-decade period alleging that he had physically abused her. Lolita Grayson provided Politico with copies of those reports, which recount incidents ranging from 1994 through 2014 in both Virginia and Florida. Alan Grayson, who was never arrested or charged, denied the accusations, calling his former spouse "disturbed." The Graysons' eldest daughter, Skye, also issued a statement defending her father claiming her mother had "physically lashed out" at her family.
But despite his attempt at pushback, Grayson made things much worse on Tuesday when he showed up at Politico's lounge at the Democratic National Convention and blew up at reporter Edward-Isaac Dovere, who tried to question him about his ex-wife's charges. In an extremely tense encounter captured on video, Grayson bodily shoved Dovere out of his way while loudly claiming that Dovere had in fact pushed him. The video, however, indisputably shows that the much larger Grayson, who menacingly pressed himself against Dovere and pointed a finger in his face, is full of shit.
Grayson then declared that Dovere was "assaulting a member of Congress," said he'd turn over copy of the video to the capitol police, and as he walked into an elevator to leave, finished by saying, "I'm hoping somebody comes here and arrests you." To Dovere's tremendous credit, he continued to question Grayson throughout his outburst, asking him whether it was hypocritical for him to act so dismissively toward his ex-wife's accusations after having berated the media for supposedly ignoring similar allegations about his Republican opponent in 2012, attorney Todd Long.
Grayson, of course, did not answer, but at some point, he'll have to address the matter. Lolita Grayson's allegations would have been troubling enough on their own, but Grayson's explosion at Dovere only ensures that this story will get even more attention.
And whatever Grayson might say next, two progressive groups that had endorsed his bid for Senate have already heard enough. Both Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee withdrew their backing from the congressman, specifically citing Lolita Grayson's accusations of abuse, and they called on Grayson to donate contributions from DFA and PCCC members to a charity for victims of domestic violence. Revolution Messaging, a digital consulting firm that was responsible for the growth of Bernie Sanders' massive email list, also dropped Grayson as a client. Grayson faces Rep. Patrick Murphy, who has the backing of President Obama and other members of the Democratic leadership, in the Aug. 30 primary.
2Q Fundraising: Be sure to check out our second quarter Senate fundraising chart.
● GA-Sen: Johnny Isakson (R-inc): $800,000 raised, $5.7 million cash-on-hand; Jim Barksdale (D): $84,000 raised, $2 million self-funded, $1.6 million cash-on-hand
● FL-Sen: Rich guy Carlos Beruff is continuing to portray Sen. Marco Rubio, his GOP primary rival, as the anti-Donald Trump candidate. Beruff's new ad argues that "Donald Trump wants a temporary ban on immigrants from the Middle East, but Marco Rubio opposes Trump's ban and Marco refuses to secure our borders." A clip of Rubio saying that "[t]his is never gonna become the law of the country, what Donald Trump is proposing." The narrator then promotes Beruff as someone who backs Trump's ban.
● IN-Sen: It's been two weeks since Democrat Evan Bayh entered the race for his old Senate seat, and the first major conservative group has finally begun to air ads against him. Freedom Partners, a member of the Koch empire, is spending $1 million on a TV and digital buy that will last until Aug. 9. Their commercial attacks Bayh for voting for "[t]he Wall Street bailout," then argues that Bayh made almost $1 million after he took a job with a bank that took bailout money. The narrator then promotes Republican Todd Young as someone "who puts us ahead of special interests."
Meanwhile, Bayh is going up with his second TV spot. The narrator praises Bayh's time as governor and senator, summing him up as a "fiscal conservative with Hoosier values." Bayh then says he puts results over partisanship.
● OH-Sen: Despite a track record that's been hostile to organized labor, Republican Sen. Rob Portman earned two union endorsements this week, one from the Teamsters and another from Ohio's Fraternal Order of Police. While law enforcement unions often side with Republicans, the loss of the Teamsters is a stinging one for Democrat Ted Strickland, who had the group's backing during both of his runs for governor, in 2006 and 2010.
Strickland tried to fire back by announcing the support of the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters, but we've reached the point in the campaign where multiple Democratic operatives, some on the record and some off, are expressing their fears about Strickland's campaign to reporters. USA Today spoke with several who cited Portman's union support as a troubling sign for the Democrat and also pointed to Portman's huge fundraising gap as a serious worry. While polls have shown a tight race, Portman appears to be running a stronger campaign, and for this reason, we continue to rate this race as Lean Republican.
Portman has also launched a new minute-long TV ad featuring a woman who praises the senator for fighting human trafficking. Theresa Flores says, "I came from a good family, and it still got me. It led to two years of being a sex slave." Flores goes on to thank Portman for passing legislation to stiffen the penalties against such traffickers. The buy is reportedly for $1 million, a sizable sum.
● PA-Sen: The pro-Democratic group Majority Forward is going right at one of Republican Sen. Pat Toomey's soft spots, hitting him hard on reproductive freedoms in a new TV ad. The narrator slams Toomey for voting to defund Planned Parenthood seven times and supporting a shutdown of the federal government to accomplish the same goals. She then says Toomey supports "overturning Roe v. Wade, which would allow states to criminalize abortion"—unusually strong (but accurate) language for an ad on this topic. Roll Call reports that Majority Forward is spending $1.3 million to air the spot.
● WI-Sen: The League of Conservation Voters and the Environmental Defense Fund announced a $1 million TV and digital ad campaign against GOP Sen. Ron Johnson on Tuesday. In a move you don't see all that often, the television spot goes directly at Johnson for his pig-headed denial of climate change, but that's because Johnson makes it so easy. Smartly, the ad cites NASA and the Department of Defense (along with "97 percent of scientists") as third-party validators who agree that "climate change is real," then goes on to feature an embarrassing clip of the senator saying, "I absolutely do not believe that the science of man—man-caused climate change is proven."
The narrator goes on to say, "Oil companies gave Johnson over three hundred thousand in contributions," though as we've noted before in regard to other similar ads, this type of statistic includes donations from all energy industry employees.
● IN-Gov, IN-04, IN-05: On Tuesday, the Indiana Republican Party's 22-member central committee met and selected Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb as the GOP's new gubernatorial nominee. Holcomb had the support of Gov. Mike Pence, who dropped his re-election campaign in order to become Donald Trump's running mate, as well as Sen. Dan Coats and state Senate President David Long. Holcomb defeated Reps. Susan Brooks and Todd Rokita, as well as state Sen. Jim Tomes; according to Brian Howey, the first ballot was a close fight between Holcomb and Brooks, with Rokita taking very little support and Tomes none.
Holcomb's victory can be traced in large part to his pedigree: He was a state party chair and a top staffer for Coats, and his win on Tuesday demonstrates that he has a strong relationship with the GOP establishment. However, Holcomb ran for his old boss's Senate seat earlier this cycle and it went poorly. He entered the race early, but that did nothing to scare off Rep. Todd Young, who was competing for the same type of establishment voters and donors.
Holcomb wound up raising very little cash during his campaign and could gain no traction against Young; he eventually dropped out after Lt. Gov. Sue Ellsperman resigned and Pence offered him the job. Maybe Holcomb will have better luck now that he's the GOP nominee instead of just another primary candidate, but his forgettable Senate adventure does not demonstrate that he's a strong campaigner—at least, outside of races where 100 percent of the electorate knows him.
Holcomb will now face Democrat John Gregg, the former speaker of the Indiana state House. Gregg had been running against Pence for over a year, and he had $5.8 million in his campaign warchest at the end of June. Holcomb starts out the race with little money, but despite his past issues with fundraising, that may change soon. Holcomb has hinted that Pence will transfer his $7 million warchest to him. However, while it originally looked like Pence could send all $7 million to the fledgling Holcomb campaign, Politico's Kevin Robillard reports that governor may only be able to transfer some of that cash.
According to legal experts who spoke to Politico, Pence is subject to new FEC regulations now that he's a federal candidate. Robillard writes that "[f]ederal campaign finance laws impose limits on political giving by federal candidates and officeholders, and FEC opinions from 2003 and 2007 made clear to two state-turned-federal candidates that they could not make unlimited campaign contributions from their old state accounts, even though it was usually permitted under state law." It appears that Pence could send up to $2,700 per donor (the federal donation limit) to Holcomb, and the new GOP nominee likely can inherit the $1.5 million donation the Republican Governors Association gave Pence. (The RGA can also send even more money to Holcomb to help him hit the ground running.) However, much of Pence's campaign account may be out of reach for him.
Regardless of what happens with Pence's money, the general election outlook is unclear. Indiana is usually a reliably red state in presidential elections, and Hillary Clinton and her allies have made no moves to flip its 11 electoral votes. However, many Hoosiers have shown a willingness to split their ballots: Mitt Romney carried the state 54-44 in 2012, but Pence only beat Gregg 50-47 that same year. Indeed, an internal poll from Brooks showed Gregg beating Holcomb 42-34 even as Trump was carrying Indiana by a strong 50-36 margin. And while Gregg has been on the campaign trail all cycle long, the largely unknown Holcomb still has to introduce himself to the state.
While Pence's serious flaws made this race competitive, Holcomb's own weaknesses, while different, mean that the GOP has definitely not locked this race down. Daily Kos Elections is maintaining our rating of Lean Republican thanks to Indiana's traditional partisan tilt, but a Democratic victory is by all means possible.
P.S: Both Rokita and Brooks have pledged to seek re-election to the House now that they won't be running for governor. In both congressional races, new GOP nominees will be chosen by a caucus of local precinct chairs, and while some Republicans sounded interested in running if Rokita or Brooks had gotten bumped up to the gubernatorial race, no one sounds likely to challenge them now that they're turning around and seeking re-election. Both districts (the 4th and the 5th) are safely red.
● MO-Gov: On behalf of KSDK, SurveyUSA takes a look at next week's four-way GOP primary. They give retired Navy SEAL Eric Greitens a 25-21 edge against rich guy John Brunner; ex-U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder grab 18 percent each. A recent PPP survey gave Greitens a tiny 24-22 edge against Hanaway, while two weeks ago, Remington Research had Greitens leading Brunner 29-22. Brunner has attacked Greitens in his ads while ignoring Hanaway and Kinder, a good indication that he agrees that Greitens is his main adversary next week. The winner will face Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster.
● CA-17: Last week, ex-Commerce Department official Ro Khanna released a poll giving himself a 42-36 edge over Rep. Mike Honda in the all-Democratic November general election. Honda's team has fired back with a Lake Research Partners survey, conducted July 17-21, giving the incumbent a 41-35 edge, almost exactly the mirror image of Khanna's poll.
● FL-02: The Club for Growth backed attorney Mary Thomas in the Aug. 30 primary for this safely red north Florida seat a while ago, and they're now taking to the airwaves with their first ad. The commercial goes after physician Neal Dunn, Thomas' main rival, and attacks him on his past donations to Democrats. The narrator sums Dunn up as a "liberal lobbyist Obamacare loving Charlie Crist Republican." There is no word on the size of the buy.
● FL-07: Add EMILY's List to the growing group of believers in Stephanie Murphy, the former Defense Department official whom Democrats recruited at the last minute to run against veteran GOP Rep. John Mica. EMILY endorsed Murphy on Tuesday, joining the DCCC, which had previously added her to their "Red to Blue" program for top candidates and reserved $3 million worth of fall TV ads for her. The pro-Democratic House Majority PAC has also booked another $800,000 in airtime for this race.
● FL-09: Susannah Randolph, a former aide to departing Rep. Alan Grayson, is out with a spot ahead of the primary for this safely blue Orlando seat. Randolph tells the audience that "Florida can make history by sending Hillary to the White House." The ad then shows Randolph, her husband, and their daughter, whom the text identifies as "Hillary Randolph," coloring, as the candidate says, "But I'm running for Congress to make a better future for the Hillary in our house." The narrator then praises Randolph's record and pledges she'll vote to raise the minimum wage and protect Social Security.
● FL-18: Attorney Rick Kozell is running a charming new ad in which, taking a page from the delegates' favorite chant at last week's Republican National Convention, he declares, "Hillary Clinton should be in prison." Somewhat comically, after railing against the Democratic nominee in hysterical terms for the first 15 seconds, Kozell jarringly tries to transition to a (mostly) positive biographical message in the second half of the ad. Of the six Republicans running for this swingy open seat, Kozell raised the third-most cash in the second quarter with a fairly feeble $147,000, but he does have the second-largest war chest, at $360,000. But Kozell doesn't come into the race with any sort of pre-existing political base, so this feels like one of those "try to be outrageous to gin up some attention" ads that rarely work.
● KS-01: The expensive Aug. 2 GOP primary between tea partying Rep. Tim Huelskamp and physician Roger Marshall is almost here. A recent independent survey for Ft. Hays State University showed a tight race, but Huelskamp's team correctly noted that, due to its tiny sample size (as well as long 11-day field period), the poll is tough to trust. Huelskamp's campaign also says that, according to a July 12-13 poll conducted for them by WomanTrend, the incumbent has a 47-38 edge.
However, one prominent GOP establishment organization is betting that Huelskamp is beatable. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is going up with what they're calling an "aggressive six-figure" buy. Their spot argues that Huelskamp is "so ineffective, he's been kicked off the agriculture committee," and they portray Marshall as an effective replacement. Marshall and the group Ending Spending are also out with new spots hitting the incumbent. However, a group called Alliance for a Free Society is spending $105,000 on a TV and radio campaign for Huelskamp. This western Kansas seat is safely red.
● NY-21: Retired Army Col. Mike Derrick once again hits freshman Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik over the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Derrick's new TV ad argues that Stefanik "sided with her Wall Street donors and fast-tracked it," and notes that "[b]oth Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are trying to stop it." In Derrick's first ad, he got attention by saying that, while he doesn't back Trump, "he's right that we need to stop the job-killing TPP deal and take on both parties in Washington," but he didn't mention Sanders before. Derrick, who is the Democratic nominee, doesn't mention Hillary Clinton in either ad.
● NY-24: Freshman Republican Rep. John Katko is out with a new 60-second TV spot in this 57-41 Obama Syracuse seat. The commercial features a local couple telling the audience that their daughter was murdered by her ex-fiancé, who was addicted to pain killers. They then describe how their son was killed by a heroin overdose, before praising Katko for helping them and "doing whatever it takes to battle drug abuse, to battle domestic violence."
● TN-08: The Aug. 4 GOP primary for this safely red West Tennessee seat is almost here, and wealthy perennial candidate George Flinn may finally get lucky. Flinn, who most recently took just 5 percent in the 2014 U.S. Senate primary and badly lost a state Senate race to a Democrat later that year, has been constantly airing ads here, and he spent $554,000 from July 1 to the 15th.
That's quite a bit more than the $277,000 that ex-U.S. Attorney David Kustoff deployed during this time, or the $225,000 state Sen. Brian Kelsey spent. Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell probably started this contest with more name recognition than his many foes, which may help him pull off a win in this crowded field. Still, Luttrell deployed just $102,000, so he may have a tough time holding onto voters who don't have a strong opinion of him.
● WI-01: Speaker Paul Ryan faces a GOP primary challenge from Paul Nehlen on Aug. 9, and he's avoiding the mistakes that helped fell then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor two years ago. Ryan is out with a positive TV spot featuring a local resident praising Ryan as a man of integrity. The commercial does not mention Nehlen: In 2014, Cantor attacked his little-known primary foe, Dave Brat, in an ad that likely only increased Brat's name recognition.
Nehlen started this contest a complete Some Dude. However, he gained some attention after Sarah Palin, who was angry that Ryan delayed endorsing Donald Trump, threw her support behind him. Nehlen raised $489,000 during the last few months and loaned himself another $100,000, but he ended up burning through most of his haul: At the end of June, the speaker held a massive $9.75 million to $146,000 cash-on-hand edge. Nehlen recently touted a poll showing Ryan up "only" 43-32, though earlier surveys from other groups gave Ryan massive leads.
● WI-08: This week, retiring Rep. Reid Ribble endorsed retired Marine Mike Gallagher in the Aug. 9 GOP primary for this Green Bay-area swing seat. Gallagher, who served as Scott Walker's foreign policy advisor during the governor's presidential campaign, has a financial edge against state Sen. Frank Lasee in next month's contest. At the end of June, Gallagher led Lasee $545,000 to $238,000 in cash-on-hand. The winner will take on Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson.
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.