● FL-18: Well, folks, we've got a live one here. Physician Mark Freeman, by far the best-financed Republican in the race for Florida's swingy open 18th Congressional District, was asked at a candidate forum late last week what he would "recommend to heal" the "divisions" caused in this country by "racial unrest." His answer was utterly jaw-dropping:
"This is deep-seated. Obama has made a bold-faced effort to drive a wedge between the races. He paints a picture of envy to our black citizens and the envy drives hatred. And then he says to them: 'You've got it coming for free. These rich people owe you.' And on top of that, he gives them free stuff, too. And that just is anti-American and it complicates our relations between the races. And really we need to have compassion for these people. And we need to allow them the education they need so that they can have self-worth and dignity and become productive citizens."
Seriously, we're back to "Obama phones" and "gifts" to black people? It's as though Republicans read their infamous post-2012 "autopsy" and decided that all the things it said they shouldn't do—belittle rape, insult minorities, hate on immigrants—were actually things they should do more of. How else to explain Donald Trump, or Mark Freeman?
1Q Fundraising: Be sure to check out our first quarter Senate fundraising chart, which we'll be updating as new numbers come in.
● FL-Sen: Carlos Beruff (R): $112,000 raised, $100,000 self-funded, $79,000 cash-on-hand; David Jolly (R): $563,000 cash-on-hand; Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R): $251,000 raised, $389,000 cash-on-hand; Todd Wilcox (R): $108,000 raised, $250,000 self-funded, $1 million cash-on-hand
● NV-Sen: Sharron Angle (R): $40,000 raised, $16,000 cash-on-hand
● CO-Sen: Oof-da! Former state Rep. Jon Keyser, who had (with a fair bit of pushback) tried to sell himself as the NRSC's preferred candidate to take on Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, might instead turn out to be nobody's preferred candidate. On Monday, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams (a Republican, incidentally) ruled that Keyser had failed to turn in a sufficient number of valid signatures, meaning that, barring some sort of appeal, he won't appear on the June 28 primary ballot. Keyser was obligated to submit 10,500 signatures, with a minimum of 1,500 in each of the state's seven congressional districts. In total, 11,436 of his petitions were kosher, but he fell 86 short in the 3rd District.
Keyser, of course, immediately promised "legal action," but who can say what his prospects are? There are also two other Republicans waiting in the dock to learn their fate, former Aurora City Councilor Ryan Frazier and wealthy businessman Robert Blaha. Former Colorado State University athletic director Jack Graham already survived the petition gauntlet, and a fifth candidate, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, secured a spot on the ballot at the state GOP convention earlier this month. No matter what, fun times ahead—especially for the consulting firm, Clear Creek Strategies, that Keyser paid $140,000 to for signature-gathering. Do you think they offer refunds?
● IN-Sen: On behalf of Howey Politics and WTHR, the GOP group Public Opinion Strategies gives us our very first (and perhaps only) poll of next week's GOP Senate primary in Indiana, and they have Todd Young beating fellow Rep. Marlin Stutzman 43-31.
As we always say, you should never let one poll determine your view of a race (even if there is literally one poll), but even before this survey was released, there were plenty of reasons to think that Young had a clear edge. Perhaps most tellingly, while Young's establishment allies have spent about $2 million on his behalf, the Indianapolis Star's Maureen Groppe reports that outside groups have dropped just $150,000 for the tea partying Stutzman.
The Club for Growth endorsed Stutzman a long time ago, and the well-funded group certainly has the funds to help him if they want to. However, the Club seems to have no interest in coming to his aid, even though they're spending money in the primary for Stutzman's old House seat. Last year, Stutzman replaced most of his senior campaign staff, which was not a sign that things were going his way. While Stutzman is the Club's type of Republican, the group has evidently decided that there's no point flushing cash down the toilet to help him.
While Young has raised plenty of cash, Stutzman's fundraising took a serious plunge amid his campaign's chaos. Young has outspent Stutzman and he had about $1.1 million left on April 13, which is far more than the $491,000 Stutzman had in the bank. Unless this poll is completely wrong and big-monied groups on both sides are badly misreading the contest, Young is very much the man to beat next week. And to make matters even worse for Stutzman, a story broke last week detailing how he spent campaign funds for a family vacation to Southern California. Stutzman says he's reimbursed his campaign, but this is exactly the wrong type of press he wants so close to Election Day.
The NRSC will be breathing a huge sigh of relief because according to this poll, Stutzman is very much the weaker general election candidate against ex-Rep. Baron Hill. POS gives Stutzman just a 39-36 edge against Hill, while Young demolishes him 48-30; Young unseated Hill in 2010. Hill has had problems raising cash and unless Stutzman defies the odds and wins next week, Democratic donors will probably continue to focus on other races.
● KS-Sen: After setting in motion the requisite quantity of sturm and drang, Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo has elected not to challenge Sen. Jerry Moran in this year's GOP primary. A few weeks ago, Moran's quickly walked-back suggestion that Senate Republicans should actually hold hearings on whether to confirm Merrick Garland, Barack Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court, had stoked conservative ire and led Pompeo to float the idea of running against the incumbent.
But on Monday, Pompeo backed off—though he remains quite hostile toward Moran. In a lengthy statement, Pompeo claimed the only thing keeping him out of the race was the short timeframe before Kansas' August primary, and he also delivered several attacks on Moran, though he never mentioned him by name. He again accused Moran of "waffling" on the Supreme Court, and berated a "tired Republican party [sic]" for practicing "politics as usual."
What were those "politics as usual," you might wonder? Why, that "former federal sleuths were hired to investigate me and my family," of course! If Pompeo truly got frightened off by the prospect of a little opposition research, then he's as timid as the politicians he's busy berating. It's just as likely that he thought he'd lose—or that really, in the end, this was all about fluffing up his own reputation ahead of a bid for governor or Senate further down the line. And that would definitely be politics as usual.
● MD-Sen: Too little, too late—too lame? Just a day ahead of Maryland's Democratic primary, former Gov. Martin O'Malley decided to take sides in the Senate race, sending out an email endorsing Rep. Chris Van Hollen over Rep. Donna Edwards. It's impossible to imagine O'Malley's move as influencing any voters at this late date, but beyond the bizarre timing, O'Malley hasn't been popular in his home state for quite some time. O'Malley didn't acquit himself well in his quixotic campaign for president, and a recent PPP poll found him with just a 36-49 favorability rating. Even Democrats only like him by a 53-33 margin, so maybe that explains why Van Hollen didn't trumpet this announcement earlier.
● PA-Sen: In the final public poll ahead of Tuesday's Democratic Senate primary, Republican pollster Harper Polling finds Katie McGinty moving out to a 39-33 lead on Joe Sestak, reversing Sestak's 41-31 advantage in early April. Harper is, in fact, the only outfit to show McGinty ahead, and if they're right, that would confirm that the massive outside effort to boost her has had its intended effect. (McGinty and her allies have spent at least $6.1 million on TV ads; Sestak's side, $3.7 million.)
But Harper's also sticking its neck out a bit with its numbers for the presidential primary. There, the firm has Hillary Clinton up 61-33 on Bernie Sanders, the widest margin she's had all year—except for a March poll from Harper than put her on top by 30. The HuffPo average has Clinton in front by 16 points, and a new PPP survey found her with just a 51-41 lead, so someone has to be wrong.
If it's Harper that's off, though, will it affect their Senate numbers? It's possible. Harper provided some useful crosstabs showing how the supporters of the two presidential candidates break down between the Senate contenders. McGinty holds a 48-35 lead among Clinton backers, while Sestak has a 33-24 advantage with Sanders voters. So if Harper's estimation of Clinton's strength is too optimistic, that would be bad news for McGinty—but that assumes, of course, that Harper's crosstabs are correct in the first place. Fortunately, we'll know the right answer very shortly.
● NC-Gov: A new poll from PPP finds Republican Gov. Pat McCrory trailing his Democratic challenger, state Attorney General Roy Cooper, by a 43-42 margin—the first time McCrory has been behind since January. Last month, McCrory had a 42-40 edge, so his slippage is small, but Tom Jensen suggests that the fallout over HB2, the notorious anti-LGBT law that McCrory recently signed, has hurt the governor's standing with Democratic voters. McCrory, Jensen notes, first won in 2012 with substantial crossover support, but now many more Democrats have moved toward Cooper compared to just a month ago, which is essential for Democrats to prevail here in November.
● UT-Gov: Over the weekend, Overstock.com CEO Jonathan Johnson managed to force Utah's sitting governor, Gary Herbert, into a primary by winning the support of 55 percent of delegates at the state Republican convention. While this might seem like a humiliating blow—and on some level, it certainly is—convention-goers only represent a small, ultra-conservative slice of the electorate, and their furor over things like Herbert's support for Common Core isn't necessarily shared by the broader party as a whole.
Indeed, Herbert can take solace in a recent poll from Dan Jones & Associates that found him with a wide 58-20 lead on Johnson in the June 28 primary. Johnson will undoubtedly see a bump now that he's cleared this hurdle (unlike Herbert, he didn't submit petitions to get on the primary ballot, so it was convention or bust) and enjoys a round of free media coverage. But it would be a very big upset indeed if he prevails again two months from now. Then again, a conservative outsider knocking off an incumbent office-holder for the crime of governing is far from unheard of.
● AZ-02: Freshman Republican Martha McSally will be defending this 50-48 Romney seat around Tucson, and she won't lack the money she needs to do it. At the end of March, McSally had $2.2 million in the bank, more than almost any other vulnerable member.
National Democrats haven't made this seat a priority yet: Back in February, the DCCC didn't add this district to either their "Red to Blue" or "Emerging Races" lists, and they haven't including it since then. Ex-state Rep. Matt Heinz does have $389,000 in the bank, which is a good start even though it's dwarfed by what McSally can spend. Heinz's August primary rival, ex-state Rep. Victoria Steele, has a much weaker $45,000 on-hand. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as Lean Republican.
● CA-07: It's hard to get a good reading on Democratic Rep. Ami Bera's chances in this suburban Sacramento seat. On the one hand, Bera has alienated labor with his vote last year in favor of so-called "fast-track" trade promotion authority, which would help pave the way for a 12-nation trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership that many unions vociferously oppose. Two labor groups have endorsed Republican Scott Jones, the Sacramento County sheriff, and others have just threatened to sit the general election out. Obama carried this seat 51-47 and Bera won very narrowly in 2012 and 2014, so neither party has room for error here.
However, Bera still has a massive financial edge. Jones raised $182,000 during his first full quarter in the race, which is pretty weak for what a candidate in a top-tier race without any primary opposition should be bringing in. By contrast, Bera has always been a monster fundraiser and his conflict with labor hasn't changed that. Bera hauled in $438,000 during the first three months of 2016, and he holds a massive $1.5 million to $210,000 cash-on-hand edge. If 2016 is a good year for Democrats and Jones doesn't pick up the pace, Bera likely can hold this swing seat ever with labor pissed at him. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as Lean Democratic.
● CA-10: Obama carried this Modesto-area seat 51-47, but Republican Rep. Jeff Denham continues to look like the solid favorite. Denham beat beekeeper Michael Eggman 56-44 in 2014, and Eggman is back for round two. Denham outraised Eggman by a strong $419,000 to $113,000 during the first quarter, and he holds a $2.4 million to $370,000 cash-on-hand edge. The DCCC did include Eggman on their "Emerging Races" list in February, so national Democrats haven't given up here.
Latinos make up 41 percent of this seat and if Donald Trump is the GOP nominee, he could crater badly enough to cost Denham. Still, Denham did beat a well-regarded opponent 53-47 while Obama was winning the seat, so he has experience finding crossover voters. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as Likely Republican.
● CA-21: This Central Valley seat has been a constant source of frustration for Democrats for years. Fowler Councilor Daniel Parra has been running against Republican Rep. David Valadao for months, but he's raised almost nothing. Lawyer Emilio Huerta jumped into the contest at the beginning of the year and while his $140,000 opening quarter wasn't marvelous, it's far better than the total $59,000 Parra has brought in ever since he jumped in over the summer. At the end of March, Huerta led Parra $116,000 to $11,000 in cash-on-hand.
Whoever emerges from the June top-two primary won't have an easy time against Valadao, who has $1.1 million banked. This Bakersfield seat is 74 percent Latino, and it's a district where Donald Trump could really damage the GOP across the board. Still, Valadao easily beat a weak Democratic foe 58-42 in 2012 while Obama was winning it 55-44, so Team Blue can't just count on a blue wave sweeping him out. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as Likely Republican.
● CA-25: This northern Los Angeles seat hasn't emerged as a top-tier Democratic contest yet, though the DCCC recently added lawyer Bryan Caforio to its "Emerging Races" list. Caforio needs to get past former LAPD office Lou Vince in the June top-two primary before he can take on freshman Republican Steve Knight. Caforio holds a big $205,000 to $11,000 cash-on-hand edge over Vince, and he has several labor endorsements. However, Vince has the backing of both the state and county Democratic Party, and those endorsements are often very beneficial in primaries.
Knight himself is sitting on a $501,000 warchest, which is pretty meh for an incumbent in a place as expensive as the Los Angeles media market. Knight has a reputation as a poor fundraiser, though he is capable of hauling in the big bucks when he really tries. Romney carried this seat 50-48, and Daily Kos Elections rates it as Likely Republican.
● CA-36: Republican state Sen. Jeff Stone kicked of his campaign against Democratic Rep. Raul Ruiz at the beginning of the year (kinda), but he is not off to a good start when it comes to fundraising. Stone hauled in just $119,000, and he has only $102,000 in the bank. Obama carried this Palm Springs seat only 51-48, but Ruiz won 54-46 during the 2014 GOP wave thanks in part to another Republican state legislator's weak fundraising. Ruiz himself brought in a hefty $461,000 during this period, and he has $1.85 million in the bank. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as Likely Democratic.
● CA-44: State Sen. Isadore Hall has the backing of the state Democratic Party and two powerful labor unions, but ex-Hermosa Beach Councilor Nanette Barragan has enough money to put up a fight in the June top-two primary. At the end of March, Hall led Barragan $513,000 to $416,000 in cash-on-hand. This coastal seat is safely blue and Hall is hoping that one of the Some Dude Republicans will take one of the two general election spots instead of Barragan, though Hall probably would start out with the edge in November if he has to face her.
● CA-52: Democratic Rep. Scott Peters was a top GOP target last cycle, but it doesn't look like Team Red is as invested in beating him this time. Denise Gitsham, a Karl Rove protégé, raised a meh $173,000 for her first full quarter in the race, and Peters holds a strong $1.6 million to $297,000 cash-on-hand edge. Obama carried this San Diego seat 52-46 and Daily Kos Elections rates the general as Lean Democratic.
● CO-05: Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn learned the hard way that he had a primary a primary after state legislative aide Calandra Vargas beat him 58-35 at the party convention; had Lamborn taken less 30 percent of the delegates two weeks ago, he would not have even been on the June primary ballot. It's unclear if Vargas has the ability to raise much money, but Lamborn himself didn't use the two years since his narrow 2014 primary win to stockpile cash. Lamborn has $297,000 in the bank: That's infinitely better than the $0.00 Vargas starts with, but it's still pretty weak for a potentially vulnerable incumbent. This Colorado Springs-area seat is safely red.
● FL-02: Four Republicans are competing in the late August primary for this safely red North Florida seat. Physician Neal Dunn has the backing of the more-establishment flavored politicians, and his $553,000 warchest is larger than any of his rivals. However, Ken Sukhia, a well-connected lawyer who served as a U.S. attorney under George H.W. Bush, entered the race at the end of last month, and he could eat into Dunn's base. Sukhia only has $102,000 in the bank as of the end of March, but since Sukhia entered the race less than two weeks before the quarter ended, we don't have a good sense of his fundraising capabilities yet.
Attorney Mary Thomas has been running as the conservative true believer, and she's earned a valuable endorsement from the Club For Growth. Businessman Jeff Moran entered the race a little while ago and after he was backed by tea partying Rep. Ted Yoho, we wondered if he could cause problems for Thomas. But the good news for her is that Moran has less than $7,000 in the bank, so he probably won't be much of a factor in August. Thomas herself has $379,000 on-hand.
● FL-09: This is a pretty strange primary to replace Senate candidate Alan Grayson in this safely blue Orlando seat. Physician Dena Minning, who is reportedly now engaged to Grayson, has run a very quiet campaign, but she has still managed to raise cash. At the end of March, Minning has $275,000 on-hand (she did no self-funding). That's only a little more than state Sen. Darren Soto's $292,000 warchest or ex-Grayson aide Susannah Randolph's $315,000. This district is home to a large Puerto Rican population, which could give Soto an edge.
● FL-10: While national Democrats have consolidated behind ex-Orlando Police Chief Val Demings in this safely blue seat, that didn't deter wealthy ex-state party head Bob Poe. Poe loaned his campaign $1.2 million and as of the end of March, he led Demings $1.26 million to $362,000 in cash-on-hand. A third candidate, state Sen. Geraldine Thompson, has only $91,000 banked. The 10th was drawn to elect a black or Hispanic candidate but while Demings and Thompson are both black, Poe is white.
● FL-26: Even though national Democrats made it clear that they wanted businesswoman Annette Taddeo to be their nominee against freshman Republican Carlos Curbelo, ex-Rep. Joe Garcia decided to seek a rematch anyway. Garcia's former campaign manager went to prison after being convicted in a 2012 voter fraud scheme and while there's no evidence that Garcia knew about it, the whole matter probably played a role in his narrow defeat. But while Democratic leaders may not want him to be their standard bearer again, Garcia still has plenty of connections in DC (several members held a fundraiser for him), and he hauled in $334,000 for his opening quarter. Taddeo has been running for about a year longer than Garcia, so it's not surprising that she has a $500,000 to $316,000 cash-on-hand edge.
This Miami-area seat was transformed from a seat that Obama won 53-46 to one he carried 55-44, and Curbelo is fully aware that he has a tough fight ahead of him. Curbelo is a strong fundraiser, and he has $1.75 million in the bank; the primary isn't until late August, so Curbelo gets to sit back and watch for a while as his potential opponents drain their warchests.
● IN-03: With about a week to go before the primary for this safely red Fort Wayne-area seat, Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne gives us our first (and likely, only) public poll. They find state Sen. Jim Banks leading wealthy farmer Kip Tom 29-23, with state Sen. Liz Brown just behind at 22; the other contenders barely register. A recent Banks poll gave him a 28-18 edge against Tom, with Brown at 14.
The race to succeed Senate candidate Marlin Stutzman has gotten nasty in the final weeks. While Tom had been running positive spots, he recently went negative on Banks and Brown. The Club for Growth, which is backing Banks, has in turn hit Tom on the air. From April 1 to 13, Banks outspent Tom $262,000 to $75,000. Brown has had a tough time raising money but she recently loaned herself $100,000, which helped her spend $81,000 during this time.
While the only polling data we have shows that Banks is the frontrunner, he only $94,000 left for the homestretch: Tom and Brown had $199,000 and $113,000 on-hand, respectively. Tom has finally begun self-funding and if he's willing to keep writing himself checks, he should be able to outspend Banks and Brown for the final week of the race, though the Club could keep him from controlling the airwaves.
● KS-01: After losing the 2014 GOP primary to incumbent Tim Huelskamp by a surprisingly narrow 55-45, Alan LaPolice has sought a rematch. However, LaPolice has raised almost no cash and he risks splitting the anti-Huelskamp vote with physician Roger Marshall. But LaPolice recently sent a letter to supporters saying he may run as an independent instead. The filing deadline for the August primary is June 1.
LaPolice hasn't announced that he's leaving the GOP race but if he does, that's good news for the more-formidable Marshall. Huelskamp has been a complete pain in the ass for his party's leadership, and the well-funded U.S. Chamber of Commerce has made some noises about targeting him. At the end of March, Huelskamp held a relatively modest $837,000 to $484,000 cash-on-hand edge, though influential Republicans haven't embraced Marshall yet. Romney carried this western Kansas seat 70-28.
● NE-02: The DCCC recently launched a $437,000 ad buy designed to help ex-state Sen. Chip Maxwell defeat national GOP favorite Don Bacon, a former brigadier general, in the May 10 Republican primary. Bacon is up with his own spot, which should at least ensure that Republican viewers in this Omaha seat don't just see Democratic ads over the next few weeks. And to Bacon's credit, his ad is pretty cute.
The spot is set at a supermarket, and the candidate opens, "Everywhere I go in Nebraska, folks tell me they love bacon." Bacon then guesses that voters' love for bacon is because the candidate is "a strong, pro-life conservative," and he also mentions his military credentials and that he's a political outsider. Near the end, Bacon asks a shopper how he feels about bacon, and the guy responds that "everybody loves bacon." (It's safe to say that there aren't many vegetarians or observant Jews or Muslims who vote in the GOP primary here.) Bacon and Maxwell are competing to take on freshman Democrat Brad Ashford in this 53-46 Romney seat.
● NH-01: Well, this Shawn O'Connor thing has officially turned insane. A couple of weeks ago, O'Connor, a businessman running for New Hampshire's volatile 1st Congressional District, threatened to sue his Democratic primary opponent, ex-Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, for alleged defamation, claiming that she'd accused him of domestic abuse through a "whispering campaign." Shea-Porter denied the charge, but now the New Hampshire Democratic Party says that O'Connor threatened to sue it, too—and then some.
According to the NHDP, after it asked for (and never received) specific details about O'Connor's complaints, O'Connor "made inappropriate and troubling demands including a suggestion that NHDP or some other third party should pay Mr. O'Connor money to withdraw from the congressional race." O'Connor of course denied all of those allegations, too, basically saying that there's no way he'd have made such a demand for money on account of how he's been "successful in business." (He's self-funded $1 million for his campaign.)
But then, in O'Connor's statement rebutting the NHDP's charges, things got really weird:
In addition, [my] letter, for example, documented how State Senator Donna Soucy (D-Manchester) made a ridiculous allegation to State Senator David Pierce (D-Lebanon), after he endorsed me. Senator Soucy told Senator Pierce that I had planned to purchase and place rats in the kitchen of the Puritan Backroom, a restaurant owned by Executive Councilor Chris Pappas (D-Manchester), a close associate of [NHDP] Chairman [Ray] Buckley, and his family. I do not know where one would purchase rats nor do I know where the kitchen is in the Puritan Backroom. Furthermore, a simple review of the Backroom's health code records will reveal that the restaurant already has a long-standing problem with rodent infestations.
Of all the WTF moments we've seen in the 2016 election cycle, this one is right up there. For a bit of background (and we can't believe we're even delving so deep into this dumpster, but here we go), the Puritan Backroom is a popular political spot, and its owner, Pappas, had actually been interested in running for this very same seat in the House. But unlike O'Connor, he deferred to Shea-Porter, whom many New Hampshire Democrats felt deserved another try after the FEC fined GOP Rep. Frank Guinta, who unseated Shea-Porter in 2014, for an illegal $355,000 campaign donation from his parents.
So now, in the midst of all this mishugas, O'Connor goes and—for no reason at all—dumps on a restaurant owned by a team player who checked his own ambition at the door for the greater good of the party, all apparently proving he's a lone wolf. Or perhaps just a lone rat.
● NY-03: Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern has more money than any of his opponents in the June Democratic primary for this Long Island swing seat, and he's putting it to use by launching the first TV ad of the campaign. The spot is set at his mom's local t-shirt ship, and Stern tells the audience that she "taught me to fight for what's right," as a shirt featuring Rosie the Riveter that says, "Equal Pay for Equal Work," comes off the press. Stern also pledges to "stand up to bullies," as his mom rolls out a "Dump Trump" shirt.
● WA-08: Washington's mostly-suburban 8th District looks like, on paper, it should be a prime pickup opportunity for the Democrats, seeing as how it went 50-48 for Barack Obama in 2012. While it was hotly contested in the 2000s, though, nobody has bothered with it much since redistricting, as Republican Rep. Dave Reichert is blandly popular enough from his time as King County sheriff to deter most challengers, and the district also got significantly less blue in 2012 (swapping out diverse suburban Bellevue for rural outposts like Wenatchee and Ellensburg).
The prospect of surfing a Trump-driven wave past an entrenched incumbent like Reichert, however, seems to have coaxed a potentially strong Dem candidate into the race this year. Tony Ventrella, who's well-known to older residents as the long-time sports anchor for two of Seattle's local TV affiliates (though his most recent job was digital media director for the Seahawks), has jumped into the race. Democrats have been trying to entice Ventrella to run in WA-08 for a number of years, and it looks like he finally likes his odds.
There's one huge catch, though: the 71-year-old Ventrella's saying pretty much up front that he's going to be lackadaisical about fundraising, which makes it sound more like he's finally ticking the whole run-for-Congress thing off his bucket list than anything else. Ventrella is making getting money out of politics the focus of his campaign, so there's at least some consistency there, though … and he does have enough name rec, and a funny, straight-talking reputation, that buying a fleet of introductory ads may be less of a necessity for him.
● Special Elections: There are two special legislative elections this week. You can set your watch to Johnny Longtorso:
Connecticut HD-75: This is an open Democratic seat in Waterbury. The candidates are Democrat Geraldo Reyes Jr., a community activist; Republican Raymond Work, a small business owner; and Independent Party nominee Lisa Lessard, also a community activist. This seat went 82-17 for Barack Obama in 2012.
Pennsylvania SD-09: This is the seat formerly held by Republican Senate leader Dominic Pileggi (who won election to a judgeship last year), located in parts of Chester and Delaware Counties. The Democratic Party nominee is Marty Molloy, a nonprofit director, while the Republican Party has nominated State Rep. Tom Killion. This seat went 54-45 for Obama in 2012.
The Pileggi seat in theory looks like it could be a real target for Democrats, but Molloy faces a massive 30-to-1 fundraising disadvantage. What's more, turnout in the GOP's presidential primary is once again likely to exceed the Democrats', so that should boost Killion further. But the two will face off again in November, when Molloy will have a better shot thanks to what should be stronger general election turnout among Democrats, compared with the special election.
● Exit Polls: If you've ever followed exit polls on an election night, you know that they can often be off—and that, just as often, they change over the course of the evening. These shifts happen because Edison Research, the company that conducts exit polling for a consortium of six media companies, continually adds new waves of data, but how exactly does it all work? In an excellent new interview with Joe Lenski, a top executive at Edison, the Washington Post's Philip Bump teases out how the entire exit polling process operates, including the use of actual precinct results to adjust the exit poll numbers. The whole explainer is a must-read for any political junkie.
● Maryland & Pennsylvania: On Tuesday, Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island will hold their presidential primaries. Polls close in all five states at 8 PM ET, and we'll be liveblogging the results at Daily Kos Elections, and we'll also be live-tweeting the proceedings.
Of course, the real fun races will be downballot in Maryland and Pennsylvania (the other three states hold their congressional primaries later in the year), and Daily Kos Elections' Jeff Singer has put together a guide of what to watch. The biggest contest is in Pennsylvania, where national Democrats have spent millions to try and help Katie McGinty deny 2010 nominee Joe Sestak a second shot at Republican Pat Toomey. We also have a Democratic primary in Maryland between Reps. Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen, as well as plenty of exciting House races and the mayoral contest in Baltimore.
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.