● PA-Sen: EMILY's List and Planned Parenthood are teaming up to slam Republican Sen. Pat Toomey with a joint television and digital buy. The TV spot (backed by $1.1 million from EMILY) features a breast cancer survivor who sharply criticizes Toomey for voting to defund Planned Parenthood, "which thousands of Pennsylvania women depend on for cancer screenings." She goes on to berate Toomey for being "willing to shut down the federal government to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood." PP itself is contributing $250,000 for the online side.
Toomey's campaign responded by claiming that Planned Parenthood "has shown a horrific lack of regard for human life," though of course that only shows Toomey has a horrific lack of regard for facts. What's more, polls have consistently shown Americans support Planned Parenthood and oppose defunding it by wide margins; the same is true in Pennsylvania, according to a Muhlenberg College survey conducted there earlier this year. Toomey's usually done a good job of smoothing over his extremist beliefs, but in this case, he's refusing to moderate his views—and is putting his electoral fortunes at risk.
● AZ-Sen: A new TV ad from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce features former Arizona Diamondbacks slugger Luis Gonzalez praising Republican Sen. John McCain as "fighter" he trusts with our "national and economic security." Gonzalez invokes his team's 2001 World Series victory, which it secured not long after 9/11, saying that "to see our senator in the stands there—it showed the people that we're strong," as a photo of McCain attending a game alongside former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (the D-Backs beat the Yankees four games to three that year) appears onscreen.
● FL-Sen: On Wednesday evening, a local TV station in Miami, CBS4 News, released a scathing report on Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, digging deep into questions about his personal biography that began trickling out last month. The piece is long and not amenable to easy summary, as it goes into great detail about two major claims it makes regarding Murphy's pre-congressional life: that he "never worked a day in his life as a Certified Public Accountant" and that he "never a small business owner."
Murphy's campaign responded hotly, rejecting both assertions and issuing a point-by-point refutation of CBS's report. CBS reacted in a troubling way, though, by editing and deleting several material portions of its article, without saying anywhere that the piece had been changed and corrections issued.
For instance, CBS claimed that "Murphy took the CPA licensing exam nine times before passing the four required sections." That was incorrect. As Murphy's campaign explained, the CPA exam contains four parts, which can each be taken separately; Murphy took two tries to pass three sections and needed three to pass the fourth. But rather than acknowledge its error, CBS simply altered its piece without comment. That's not kosher.
But as Murphy's campaign ruefully observed in its response, these charges "will surely appear in Republican attack ads" even if they've been silently dropped. The more immediate question, however, is whether these questions about Murphy's record, whether legitimate or not, wind up playing a role in the Democratic primary. Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson sent out a press release trying to amplify the CBS story, but he's run a desultory, underfunded campaign. However, crafty Republicans might try to help him out, since they'd much rather face Grayson than Murphy, even with the wounds Murphy's suffered of late.
No matter what, though, Murphy needs the bleeding to stop, since, if he does secure the Democratic nomination, he's likely to face a tougher-than-expected opponent now that Sen. Marco Rubio has decided to seek re-election. A new poll from Republican pollster Vox Populi for the Senate Leadership Fund (a group connected to Mitch McConnell, who begged Rubio to run again) finds the incumbent with a huge 57-5 lead on wealthy businessman and mini-Trump Carlos Beruff in the GOP primary. Those findings are similar to a recent independent poll from St. Leo University taken just before Rubio re-entered the race.
But his renomination is still not assured. Gov. Rick Scott, a close pal of Beruff's who has publicly extolled him before, pointedly declined to endorse Rubio in a statement on Thursday and re-upped his praise for Beruff. Scott compared Beruff's candidacy to his own 2010 bid for governor as an outsider and added, "The opinions of the political class in Washington are not relevant to the voters of Florida." It'll take a lot more than that to stop Rubio, but if the GOP is pleased to see Murphy take some shots, Democrats are happy to see Florida Republicans divided.
● IL-Sen: In his newest TV ad, GOP Sen. Mark Kirk slams head-first into his own party. The spot begins with a reference to Kirk's 2012 stroke, showing a moment of some very intense rehab therapy at about the six-second mark. The narrator goes on to extol Kirk as the "first Republican to support a vote on President Obama's Supreme Court nominee" and a "leader on protecting a woman's right to choose" before reminding viewers that he recently declared that "Donald Trump is not fit to be commander-in-chief." The buy is reportedly for $265,000 for one week.
● NC-Sen: Once again, PPP finds a close race between GOP Sen. Richard Burr former Democratic state Rep. Deborah Ross, with Burr up just 40-37 while Libertarian Sean Haugh takes 5. That's virtually unchanged from last month, when Burr was up 39-36. Television advertising has yet to begin in earnest, so it's no surprise that the toplines have barely moved, but Burr's standing remains inauspicious for an incumbent.
● OH-Sen:The Senate Majority PAC's new ad in the Buckeye State tries to compare GOP Sen. Rob Portman to a cicada, which, well … points for creativity. The analogy doesn't exactly add up, though. The narrator explains that the insects return to Ohio "every 17 years" and "make a lot of noise." With you so far. But the spot falls apart at the segue, saying Portman tries to return to Ohio "every six years" to "rewrite his record in Washington." When we're angry at "typical politicians," the first slur that comes into our minds is generally not "that bleeping cicada!"
● FL-05: Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown, whose challenge to Florida's new congressional map was soundly rejected two months ago by a three-judge federal court, has dropped her appeal to the Supreme Court. Brown's appeal never had any hope, and it was probably costing her money better spent on her primary fight with former state Sen. Al Lawson. Both candidates are short of funds and both need to introduce themselves to voters at the opposite ends of Florida's redrawn (but still safely blue) 5th District. The only poll of the August primary showed Brown ahead just 42-37.
● FL-06: Just as Carlos Beruff has refused to get out of the way for Marco Rubio, state Rep. Fred Costello has no interest in clearing a path for one of the dudes Rubio hip-checked out of the GOP primary for Senate, Rep. Ron DeSantis. Costello was one of four notable candidates running for DeSantis' House seat, and when DeSantis announced this week that he'd defer to Rubio and run for re-election instead, three of those would-be successors bailed. But not Costello, who lambasted DeSantis as a carpetbagger (a somewhat ridiculous charge; court-ordered redistricting moved his home into the 4th District but left most his constituents in the 6th) and even suggested that his record was more purely conservative than that of the ultra-conservative DeSantis.
Costello, though, faces steep odds. DeSantis had $3.2 million in his Senate account at the end of March while Costello's campaign had just $86,000 in the bank. And despite the changes wrought by redistricting, DeSantis still represents 70 percent of the residents of the revised 6th, so plenty of primary voters have cast ballots for DeSantis before. Costello could instead drop down himself and seek another term in the legislature, but then would the guys now running for his seat want to quit? It's politicians all the way down.
● FL-07: Just a day ahead of Florida's Friday filing deadline, Democrats filled a recruiting hole in Florida's 7th Congressional District, as college professor and former Defense Department official Stephanie Murphy has launched a bid against GOP Rep. John Mica. Redistricting transmuted Mica's seat from a seat Mitt Romney won 52-47 to one that was almost perfectly divided between Romney and Obama at 49 apiece (our data suggests Obama won it by a hair), giving Democrats an opening. But their original candidate, banker Bill Phillips, raised no money and ultimately dropped out in April, and now the untested Murphy will only have a short amount of time to prepare a serious challenge to a well-funded veteran.
But the DCCC, at least, seems interested in her and even sent out a press release on her behalf touting her candidacy, something the committee does not often do. And Murphy's background is interesting: Her family fled Vietnam as refugees when she was an infant, eventually making it to the U.S. There's only a week left in the second fundraising quarter of the year, but we'll know soon whether Murphy proves able to hit the ground running here.
● FL-13: The National Association of Realtors, one of the bigger spenders when it comes to congressional races—and just about the only one that spreads its love on both sides of the aisle—has endorsed GOP Rep. David Jolly in his belated campaign for re-election. Jolly faces former Gov. Charlie Crist in this redrawn seat, which now decisively went for Barack Obama following redistricting.
● ME-02: Former Democratic state Sen. Emily Cain, who is waging a rematch against freshman GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin, has released a poll from Normington Petts showing her tied with the incumbent at 45 apiece. That doesn't feel hugely auspicious, since you generally expect internal polls to lean toward the more favorable side for the candidate putting them out, but Poliquin's response was pretty weak. A spokesman didn't provide any contradictory data and merely called Cain's numbers "false" without offering any argument in support of that claim whatsoever.
The Maine Republican Party, meanwhile, tweeted out a link to another Cain poll, also from Normington Petts, from the middle of October in 2014. That survey showed Cain ahead 42-34; she went on to lose 47-42.
● NY-03: Just ahead of Tuesday's Democratic primary, North Hempstead Town Councilwoman Anna Kaplan once again reminds viewers of her background as a Jewish refugee from Iran in her second ad of the race. Kaplan goes on to say that in the country of her birth, "women have no reproductive rights," which is why she'll fight to protect a woman's right to choose, "because we can lose it." Interestingly, as Newsday notes, only Kaplan and Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern have aired TV ads in the primary; former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi and former Nassau Interim Finance Authority chair Jon Kaiman have not.
● NY-22: With just days to go before New York's congressional primaries, retiring GOP Rep. Richard Hanna has endorsed businessman Steve Wells to succeed him. That's no surprise, since the other main Republican candidate, ultra-conservative Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, nearly unseated Hanna in the primary two years ago; Hanna said that if she prevails now, it would mean "effectively giving away the seat" to Democrats because of her "extreme record." Even with Tenney as the GOP nominee, there would still be a competitive race in this swingy district, but the lone Democrat running, Broome County Legislator Kim Myers, would certainly prefer Tenney to Wells.
● PA-02: Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah, who was convicted on 22 counts of public corruption earlier this week, resigned effective immediately on Thursday. In a remarkable bit of chutzpah, Fattah had said a day earlier that he wanted to delay his resignation until his sentencing in October, a prospect that reportedly "stunned" unnamed "senior lawmakers in both parties" who then began considering the possibility of expelling Fattah. At least that spectacle will be avoided.
A special election now has to be held to fill Fattah's seat, but it'll likely take place concurrently with the November general election. State Rep. Dwight Evans, who defeated Fattah in April's Democratic primary, would almost certainly be able to run without any serious opposition.
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.