● Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff: It's hard to believe, but Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's decades-long reign of terror might finally come to an end next month. According to a new poll from the Behavior Research Center, conducted on behalf of several local Arizona media outlets, Arpaio trails his Democratic challenger, former Phoenix police sergeant Paul Penzone, by an astounding 15-point margin, 46-31.
And it's not just this one poll. A week ago, a survey from a Republican pollster found Penzone beating Arpaio 51-41, while several prior polls have also had Penzone ahead. Only an old Arpaio internal from back in August took the opposite view, and Republicans haven't coughed up any new polling since then.
What's more, not only could Arpaio lose re-election, he might also soon lose his freedom: On Monday, federal prosecutors charged Arpaio with criminal contempt of court for violating an agreement to curtail racial profiling by his department. If he's found guilty, he could face six months in prison. In a searing new editorial, the New York Times sagely observes, "'Contempt' is a fitting word for this long-overdue prosecution—not just contempt for the court, but for the people, for civil order, for justice."
But Arpaio will go down swinging, and even after spending millions on his own campaign, he still had a huge cash advantage over Penzone, $1.2 million to just $290,000, at the end of the most recent reporting period. And Maricopa County is still a pretty conservative place that almost always votes Republican. It's looking more and more possible, though, that voters there could finally make a different choice this November.
● CA-Sen: A few months ago, President Barack Obama endorsed Attorney General Kamala Harris over Rep. Loretta Sanchez in the all-Democratic general election, and he's now out with a TV spot for her. Obama praises Harris for fighting big banks that took advantage of homeowners, for cracking down on gangs that exploited women and children, and for going up against scammy for-profit colleges. Obama and most of the state and national Democratic establishment are in Harris' corner. Harris also has consistently posted huge leads in the polls, while Sanchez has very little money left for the rest of the campaign.
● IL-Sen: Ouch. Politico reports that Republican Sen. Mark Kirk raised just $1.2 million from July to September, and has $1.4 million on-hand. Democrat Tammy Duckworth brought in $4.1 million during that time, and has $4.3 million in the bank. Outside groups from both sides have largely avoided this contest and unless Team Red springs into action quickly, Kirk is going to be very badly outspent in the final weeks of the campaign. But while there haven't been many polls here, even a recent Kirk internal showed him down 41-37. Republicans have a lot of seats to worry about, and they seem to have decided long ago to just leave Kirk to fend for himself while they send their money elsewhere.
● LA-Sen: This week Abhay Patel, a Republican businessman, dropped out of the race and endorsed Rep. Charles Boustany. Patel aired a least one ad but he barely registered in the polls, so his departure probably won't make much of an impact. Still, with polls showing a competitive race to reach the December runoff, even a very small boost for Boustany could matter.
● NH-Sen: The well-funded pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC Priorities USA recently announced that they would start airing ads in key Senate races that tie vulnerable Republicans to Donald Trump. They're now out with their first offering in New Hampshire against Sen. Kelly Ayotte, and it's everything Democrats could hope it would be.
The commercial shows several clips of Donald Trump on a television as the narrator begins, "For months and months of this." The viewer then sees Trump declare, "I'd like to punch him in the face," and, "There was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her… wherever." The narrator then reminds the audience that "Kelly Ayotte stood by him."
The spot then shows a clip of Ayotte's infamous debate moment from a few weeks ago. The moderator is seen asking Ayotte, "Would you tell a child to aspire to be like Donald Trump? Would you point to him as a roll model?" Ayotte responds by declaring, "Absolutely. I would do that." The narrator jumps back in and accuses Ayotte of running away now to save her political career, because she's "all politics, no principles." Priorities only says that the spot is airing as part of a "multi-million dollar" buy.
● CA-10: We have our second Democratic poll in a week of the race for California's 10th Congressional District, based in Modesto in the northern part of the state. On behalf of Democrat Michael Eggman, Anzalone Liszt Grove gives him a 47-42 lead over Republican Rep. Jeff Denham, very different than the 47-41 Denham lead their July poll showed. The memo did not include presidential numbers, but the campaign tells us that this sample favored Hillary Clinton by a huge 49-35 margin.
A few days ago, Eggman's allies at House Majority PAC dropped a poll that also showed him up, but by a much smaller 46-45 margin. They also found Clinton leading Donald Trump just 41-40 in a seat Obama carried 51-47. The two polls were conducted around the same time (HMP's was in the field Oct. 11-13, while Eggman's was conducted Oct. 12-16), so timing can't account for the wide differences. And even with Trump's problems nationally, it's tough to know how this seat will go in the presidential race. This district is home to a large Hispanic population, but it also has a much smaller proportion of college-educated residents than the nation as a whole.
And Republicans are at least acting like they think Clinton is a liability for Eggman. The Congressional Leadership Fund recently ran a spot bashing Eggman on national security and tying him to his party's presidential nominee. Either CLF thinks that Trump will do relatively well here, or they still think that even enough Clinton voters don't trust her on Iran and ISIS and are willing to take that out on Eggman. It's possible that Eggman's poll is right and Clinton is in fact doing well here, but both national parties are sending different signals.
● CA-25: The DCCC is out with a Tulchin Research poll giving Republican Rep. Steve Knight a 46-44 lead over Democrat Bryan Caforio, while Hillary Clinton leads in this northern Los Angeles County seat 46-41. Back in July, an in-house poll from the DCCC had Knight up 46-40 and Clinton leading by an identical 41-36 margin. Romney won this Antelope Valley seat 50-48, but it's the type of affluent suburban area where Donald Trump is unlikely to do well.
We'll see if Team Red releases contradictory numbers, though the DCCC's new survey does show that Knight still has a lead. Both parties held off on spending money here until a few weeks ago, but the D-Trip recently reserved $2.4 million here; the NRCC has made a smaller $418,000 reservation.
● IA-01: A new GBA Strategies poll for the DCCC gives Democrat Monica Vernon a 48-47 lead over Republican Rep. Rod Blum. This is the first time anyone has released a poll showing Vernon ahead, even if only slightly. Last week, House Majority PAC's poll had Blum up 45-44. The GBA sample gives Hillary Clinton a 46-39 lead in an eastern Iowa seat that Obama carried 56-43, which makes sense given Donald Trump's strength in the state. According to the memo, an unreleased mid-September poll gave Blum a 53-44 edge while Clinton led 43-37.
● NV-04: It seems that reports of Republican Rep. Cresent Hardy's upcoming political immolation were a bit exaggerated. Thanks to the 2014 GOP wave and horrific Democratic turnout, Hardy narrowly won a 54-44 Obama seat in North Las Vegas. Even before Donald Trump took the GOP nod, it looked like Hardy would have a very tough time winning re-election without everything going right for him the way it did in 2014. However, the DCCC is out with a GBA Strategies poll that, while still finding Hardy trailing, hardly shows him doomed.
The survey gives Democrat Ruben Kihuen a 40-38 lead, while Hillary Clinton takes this seat 47-38, and Democratic Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto leads 50-44. According to the memo, an unreleased poll from five weeks ago gave Hardy a 42-39 lead, while Clinton only had a 2-point edge and Cortez Masto trailed by 6. GBA is arguing that Kihuen's numbers are moving in the right direction and that the national climate favors him, which may very well be true. Still, it's more than a bit disappointing to see that even Team Blue's own poll finds Hardy barely down, especially at a horrible time for Republicans nationally.
Both parties are also spending like they think that this contest could go either way. The DCCC and House Majority PAC reserved a combined $4.5 million here, more than the $4 million they've committed to the open 3rd District. The NRCC has also reserved about $3.5 million, also about $500,000 more than they've sent to the 3rd so far. Hardy is definitely in real danger, but no one is acting like he's just the Redshirt of the GOP caucus—not by a longshot.
● NY-23: In dismaying news for Democrat John Plumb, Politico reports that House Majority PAC has cancelled its reservation in New York's 23rd Congressional District, which had totaled $255,000. No other outside groups on either side have booked any TV time here so far as we're aware, meaning that both Plumb and GOP Rep. Tom Reed are on their own. And that in turn means that both parties agree Reed looks pretty secure.
While never a major target, this district had looked like a potential pickup opportunity for Team Blue: Mitt Romney carried this seat by scarcely a single point in 2012, and that same year, Reed beat an unheralded opponent by an unexpectedly narrow 4 percent margin. But like many areas in upstate New York, it's very white, and it has both lower levels of educational attainment and a lower median income than the nation as a whole, despite the presence of the city of Ithaca, a major college town. That suggests that, even though we've never seen a poll here, the district as a whole is likely at least somewhat friendly to Trump.
Reed also has a large financial advantage on his challenger: As of Sept. 30, he had over $900,000 in his campaign account while Plumb had under $200,000. Given how late in the game we are, it's unlikely that Democrats will reverse themselves and jump back in, so barring an even more dramatic collapse by Trump than we've already seen, Reed is looking pretty secure for re-election.
● PA-09: In April, tea partier Art Halvorson came shockingly close to unseating Rep. Bill Shuster in the primary for this safely red Altoona seat. Halvorson won the uncontested Democratic primary that same day due to unsolicited write-in votes, and he decided to continue his bid against Halvorson in the general election. While Halvorson is officially Team Blue's nominee, he's made it clear that he'll caucus with the GOP if he wins. So how's his campaign going?
Well this week, Halvorson was charged with a misdemeanor for allegedly grabbing a Shuster campaign worker's wrist back in August, an incident that Halvorson denies ever happened. During his unsuccessful 2014 primary campaign against Shuster, Halvorson famously justified his bad fundraising by declaring, "We are out door-to-door and we are touching people and voters, and we are buying love with touches and Mr. Shuster's big money doesn't buy love." Well, it looks like Halvorson took his touching strategy a little too far this time.
● VA-05: Last week, the conservative Congressional Leadership Fund directed $400,000 to this 53-46 Romney seat. Republican Tom Garrett also went up with a negative ad against Democrat Jane Dittmar, another sign that Team Red was taking this contest seriously. However, both sides have now released polls giving Garrett a clear lead in this central Virginia district.
Garrett dropped his Meeting Street Research poll first, which gave him a 50-39 edge. The poll, which Meeting Street tells us was done Oct. 16-17, did not include presidential toplines. Garrett also posted a similar 47-46 lead in an unreleased September poll. Dittmar responded on Thursday by releasing an Anzalone Liszt Grove poll showing Garrett up 47-41, while Donald Trump leads 46-42. According to the memo, an unreleased July poll had her down 10, while Trump led by 9 then.
While this seat contains some liberal areas like Charlottesville, this district is a tough nut for Democrats to crack. In 2013, Democrat Ralph Northam defeated E.W. Jackson in the lieutenant governor's race by a 55-45 margin, which was one of the better statewide performances for a Virginia Democrat in recent memory. However, Jackson still took this seat 52-48. The Daily Kos Elections polling average gives Clinton a 46-36 lead in The Old Dominion, which is identical to Northam's winning margin. Maybe things will get even worse for Trump and he'll collapse enough for Clinton and Dittmar to win the 5th, but even Dittmar's poll says that's not happening yet.
● Honolulu, HI Mayor: On behalf of Civil Beat, Merriman River Group is out with a survey giving Democratic incumbent Kirk Caldwell a 48-41 lead over Charles Djou, a former Republican House member. The poll was conducted before President Obama endorsed Caldwell in this officially non-partisan race.
● Nassau County, NY Executive, Oyster Bay, NY Town Supervisor: On Thursday, Republican County Executive Ed Mangano, his wife Linda Mangano, and Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, another Long Island Republican, were indicted as part of a federal corruption probe. Prosecutors allege that Ed Mangano and Venditto schemed "to solicit bribes and kickbacks" from a restaurateur who received "lucrative" government contracts. They also argue that Linda Mangano was paid $450,000 from the restaurateur "for performing little or no work," and that she also made false statements.
Both Ed Mangano and Venditto are up for re-election next year. Mangano unseated Democratic incumbent Tom Suozzi by 386 votes in 2009 in an utter shocker. In 2011, the state seized control of Nassau's finances, and Suozzi soon kicked off a comeback bid. However, Mangano pulled off a 59-41 win in 2013. However, the two rivals fortunes have very much reversed this year. Suozzi is running for New York's 3rd Congressional District, and national Republicans recently axed almost all of their ad reservations after polls showed Suozzi easily defeating Republican Jack Martins. (In 2006, Suozzi also badly lost the gubernatorial primary to Eliot Spitzer, whose own career dramatically self-destructed soon after. It's almost like beating Tom Suozzi carries a horrible curse.)
Venditto has been Oyster Bay's town supervisor since early 1998. Despite his modest sounding-title, Oyster Bay is a large community of almost 300,000 people, and town supervisor is its top elected office. In 2015, Venditto only defeated his Democratic foe by 99 votes.
● FL-Sen: Democrat Patrick Murphy features the infamous clip of Trump's "You can do anything. Grab them by the [expletive deleted]" comments juxtaposed with one of Republican Sen. Marco Rubio telling a rally "We have to make sure that Donald wins this election." "No we don't," Murphy retorts as he skewers Rubio for continuing to stand by Trump, saying he will be an independent voice for Florida instead.
● LA-Sen: Republican John Kennedy thumps his chest over national security in an eyebrow-raising spot where he promises that if you join ISIS or Al Qaeda, America "will hit you back twice as hard … and your buddies …. and your goat." Seriously, that's in the ad.
● MO-Sen: End Citizens United is out with the second part of their $900,000 buy with a spot hammering Republican Sen. Roy Blunt for being a corrupt Washington insider. They note he snuck a pro-tobacco company provision into a homeland security bill while members of his family were lobbyists for big tobacco, and that Blunt took lavish trips paid for by special interests.
● PA-Sen: Senate Majority PAC continues a Democratic line of attack blasting Republican Sen. Pat Toomey for owning a bank that engaged in predatory foreclosure practices that are banned in most other states.
● MT-Gov: Republican Greg Gianforte continues to make puns bemoaning the negative attacks political insiders level against him, this time shoveling horse manure and saying the "stuff" they throw at him keeps piling up.
● NH-Gov: The DGA excoriates Republican Chris Sununu for cutting state budget funding for cancer screenings and previously reducing hours to avoid providing health insurance to his employees when he ran his business.
● VT-Gov: Planned Parenthood and the DGA lay down $132,000 to attack Republican Phil Scott over his not entirely pro-choice record on abortion rights. They note he has support from stridently anti-choice groups, while Democrat Sue Minter instead will always stand up for a woman's right to choose.
● CA-07: The NRCC praises Republican Scott Jones over his tenure as Sacramento County sheriff, promising he will be a strong leader in Congress. It's pretty rare to see positive ads from outside groups, especially this late in the campaign.
● CA-21: Republican Rep. David Valadao charges that Democrat Emilio Huerta corruptly used his influence with the United Farm Workers union to take land designated for a low-income housing project and sold it to developers for a $1 million profit. However, Valadao really is making much ado about nothing, because the real estate deal in question was all above board. The union had already abandoned the housing project idea and wanted to sell the property so it could finance other ventures. Huerta notes that he personally only made around $100,000 on the deal after splitting the gains with his partners, but of course, it will be up to him and Democrats to tell voters their version of events.
● CA-24: House Majority PAC links Republican Justin Fareed to Donald Trump on issues like attacking Planned Parenthood and hits him for having stood behind Trump despite the latter's long history of offensive statements.
CO-06: Democrat Morgan Carroll attacks Republican Rep. Mike Coffman for failing to stand up to Trump, noting how Coffman voted against raising the minimum wage, which Trump had called "too high."
● FL-13: President Obama speaks directly to the camera to endorse Democrat Charlie Crist, emphasizing how Crist will look out for veterans and protect, Planned Parenthood, Social Security, and Medicare.
FL-18: The NRCC once again skewers Democrat Randy Perkins for profiteering off of tragedy with his disaster-relief company.
● FL-26: Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo blames politicians on Both Sides™ and says he will stand up for the values of everyday citizens.
● IA-03: Democrat Jim Mowrer hammers Republican Rep. David Young for continuing to support Trump even after the latter bragged about sexual assault, noting both Republicans want to defund Planned Parenthood and criminalize abortion.
● MN-02: The DCCC plays a game of giving people offensive statements to read and asking them whether Donald Trump or Republican candidate Jason Lewis said them. What makes this effort to get voters to associate Lewis with Trump so effective is that Lewis really has made so many awful statements that sound just like something Trump would say, like calling women "ignorant," bragging about the foreclosure system, and not caring if he "traumatizes" people by being politically incorrect.
● NE-02: Republican Don Bacon promises he will protect Social Security and seniors. Democratic Rep. Brad Ashford blasts Bacon for being unable to name one thing he would be independent on in their recent debate. Ashford castigates Bacon for supporting Paul Ryan's plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program, but touts his own record of independence in Congress.
● NV-04: The NRCC accuses Democrat Ruben Kihuen of being a corrupt politician.
● NY-01: House Majority PAC ties Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin to the NRA, skewering him for repeatedly voting against banning armor-piercing ammunition and those on the terror watch list from buying guns.
● NY-19: National Horizon spends $140,000 to continue a Republican theme of attacking Democrat Zephyr Teachout for supposedly wanting to tax everything in sight.
● PA-08: Democrat Steve Santarsiero links Republican Brian Fitzpatrick to Donald Trump over how both support defunding Planned Parenthood, while Santarsiero promises he will protect a woman's right to chose and equal pay for equal work.
● TX-23: The Congressional Leadership Fund labels Democratic ex-Rep. Pete Gallego a typical political insider who sold out his influence as a lobbyist after his term in Congress. However, Gallego vigorously contests the use of that label, since he was never actually a registered lobbyist or working for so-called special interests, but instead consulted for the city of Austin.
● VA-05: Democrat Jane Dittmar attacks Republican Tom Garrett for being an extremist who refuses to compromise with moderates.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, and James Lambert.