● MO-Gov: Missouri's GOP gubernatorial primary came to an end on Tuesday, but some of the defeated candidates are not willing to let bygones be bygones. The Republican Party was forced to scrap a planned unity event on Thursday, and while the state chair blamed "logistical issues," multiple sources said that rich guy John Brunner refused to participate. Brunner and former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens, who took the GOP nod earlier this week, had waged a long and nasty contest, and Brunner is reportedly particularly upset about a lawsuit brought against him by an extremely controversial Greitens donor.
To recap the backstory here, a woman named Amber Laurel Baptiste has accused Silicon Valley venture capitalist Michael Goguen of making her his sex slave over a 13-year period. The two initially reached a $40 million settlement, but Goguen only paid a quarter of the amount; Baptiste then took him to court for the rest. Goguen has donated $1 million to Greitens, and the GOP nominee has refused to dispose of it, arguing that Goguen is innocent until proven guilty.
In a debate just before the primary, Brunner sought to make Goguen an issue, telling Greitens that he "refuse[s] to be lectured by a guy who took $1 million from the owner of a teenage sex slave." Goguen then proceeded to sue Brunner for his remark and other social media posts, arguing that Brunner "knowingly and maliciously spread demonstrable lies." Among other things, Goguen's lawsuit says that Baptiste never alleged she was a "teenage sex slave."
Unnamed GOP sources tell the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Brunner wants Greitens to help him get the lawsuit dropped. However, Greitens reportedly has insisted that he has no influence over Goguen. As a consequence, Brunner doesn't seem to want to make life easy for Greitens right now: On Thursday, Brunner tweeted, "I now believe erroneous, and retract, any statements that a contributor to the Greitens campaign was the owner of a teenage sex slave." That's a too-clever-by-half way of trying to wriggle out of Goguen's lawsuit while at the same time once again linking Greitens' name with the phrase "teenage sex slave."
Greitens faces a competitive race with Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster, and he can't be pleased that Brunner is playing these games, something Brunner undoubtedly knows. But Greitens' other two beaten primary opponents are being much more cooperative. Both Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and ex-U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway pledged to back the GOP slate, though only Hanaway mentioned Greitens by name.
● FL-Sen: With primary day finally in sight (at long last, we can say it's "this month"), Rep. Patrick Murphy just received an endorsement from another member of his state's delegation to Congress, Rep. Kathy Castor. That means (not counting his opponent, Alan Grayson) Murphy has the backing of six of Florida's eight other House Democrats. The only two who haven't chosen sides are Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Corrine Brown. Considering the former was just booted as chair of the DNC and the latter is under indictment for corruption, you wouldn't want their endorsements anyhow.
● IN-Sen: When one side releases an internal poll, the opposition's response—or lack thereof—can be very telling. Your best bet is to release contradictory numbers, but failing that, you should probably shut up. If, instead, you open your yap, you're making it clear you've got nothing. And that's all it looks like GOP Rep. Todd Young has, based on his comments about a poll released two weeks ago that showed his Democratic opponent, former Sen. Evan Bayh, leading 54-33:
"I leave political punditry to all of you," Young told the media. "All I would say is there's a real difference between one's name identification and what people associate that name with.
"One could certainly go around in Indiana and find that the name Kardashian is well-known," he continued, referring to the stars of the reality TV franchise. "The real question, do Hoosiers think the Kardashians are equipped, are prepared to serve them in the U.S. Senate."
Young tossed in a dash of pepper, but his sauce is still weak. (Also, you shouldn't say you're going to "leave political punditry" to the press, then go and engage in just that.) We're quite certain that the Bayh family is viewed a little more favorably in Indiana than Kim and Khloe, or else why would he be cruising along with a majority of the vote? If there's anyone who's not keeping up with the Kardashians, it's Young.
Meanwhile, Bayh is running a new positive TV ad that, somewhat improbably, casts him as an opponent of trade deals. (Bayh has a rather pro-trade record.) In the spot, which he narrates himself, Bayh declares that "other countries are busy stealing are jobs, and our tax code encourages U.S. companies to ship our jobs overseas." Bayh says he wants to "fix that, and get tough on trade."
● NH-Sen: EMILY's List and AFSCME are teaming up for a $1.5 million ad buy in support of Democrat Maggie Hassan. The commercial is not available yet, but Boston Magazine says it will run from Aug. 9 to the 22nd.
● NV-Sen: Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto is going up with a spot that will air during the Olympics. Masto reminds the audience that her grandfather immigrated to the country from Mexico and served in World War II. Masto says his story isn't unique, and that other families have been able to make it in America through hard work, and adds, "It's what America should still be today." Donald Trump isn't mentioned in the commercial, but it's very clear that Masto is contrasting her background with his rhetoric.
● WI-Sen: A few weeks ago, the Koch Brother's Freedom Partners Action Fund canceled their $2.2 million fall TV reservation, a strong sign that they were giving up on Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson in the face of bad polls. However, on Thursday, the group launched a new $1 million TV and digital buy. Freedom Partners' spokesman said that they'd seen better internal polls recently, and that the new buy is aimed at different markets than the canceled reservation would have reached.
Freedom Partners' new ad goes where their old Wisconsin ads have gone before. The commercial once again argues that while he was in the Senate, Democrat Russ Feingold "did nothing to help" as problems at the local Tomah VA hospital threatened veterans' lives. The narrator goes on to praise Johnson for "demanding accountability [and] delivering solutions."
Meanwhile, Feingold has a new ad of his own. The Democrat stands in front of a plant that he said produced his grandfather's truck in 1923. Feingold then bemoans that companies are rewarded for shipping jobs overseas, and he pledges to close the loophole.
● FL-Sen: Suffolk: Marco Rubio (R-inc): 46, Patrick Murphy (D): 43; Rubio: 45, Alan Grayson (D): 41 (Clinton 43-39).
● GA-Sen: Landmark-Rosetta Stone: Johnny Isakson (R-inc): 46, Jim Barksdale (D): 41, Allen Buckley (Lib): 5 (Trump-Clinton 46-46 tie). (Note: If no one takes a majority in November, a runoff between the top two candidates will be held in January.)
● KY-Sen: Harper Polling (R): Rand Paul (R-inc): 50, Jim Gray (D): 38 (Trump 49-36).
● NH-Sen: MassINC: Maggie Hassan (D): 50, Kelly Ayotte (R-inc): 40 (Clinton 47-32).
● PA-Sen: Franklin & Marshall: Katie McGinty (D): 39, Pat Toomey (R-inc): 38 (Clinton 49-38).
● MT-Gov: While wealthy Republican Greg Gianforte has been running ads here for a while, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock is only now taking to the airwaves. Bullock's first spot features several shots of his family, as Bullock describes how he and his wife grew up in Montana and send their kids to public schools in the state, and that their children "hike the same trails, and fish the same streams as when we were kids." Bullock goes on to say that when he "defend[s] our right to hunt and fish on public lands, rivers, and streams," or works for better schools and jobs, they're personal, not political, issues for him.
Bullock doesn't mention Gianforte, but his reference to hunting and fishing on public lands may be a subtle shot at him. A few weeks ago, the DGA ran a commercial arguing that, while Gianforte says he welcomes people on his property, he once "sued to eliminate a popular access spot next to his riverfront mansion," and posted intimidating signs to keep people out. Montana has stream access laws, which allow the public access to most waterways for fishing, floating, and swimming, and Democrats might be trying to frame this race a contrast between a regular Montanan and a greedy businessman. There has been next to no polling here.
● NC-Gov: Democrat Roy Cooper's new TV spot explicitly goes after Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and his record for the first time. Cooper tells the audience that McCrory "wants you to believe that there's a Carolina comeback, but raise you hand if your taxes have gone up, while those at the top are those getting the tax break. And raise your hand if you're working more for less." As Cooper talks, the camera cuts to various people raising their hand (with black and white footage used). Cooper also asks people to raise their hand if they want people at the top to "pay their fair share," and that "tax breaks should go to the middle class."
● VT-Gov: Vermont's Democratic gubernatorial primary is on Tuesday, and the final days of the contest have been dominated by a nasty controversy over, of all things, wind energy. On Friday, ex-state Sen. Matt Dunne came out in favor of allowing towns to hold referendums to veto "large industrial wind project[s]." Bill McKibben, a prominent local environmentalist and supporter of wind power, was not happy, and he proceeded to switch his endorsement from Dunne to ex-state Secretary of Transportation Sue Minter. Days later, the Vermont Conservation Voters, which had been neutral, also backed Minter. But things started to get weird on Monday, when outgoing Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin got involved.
Dunne had argued that his stance would be the same as Shumlin's own. However, the governor quickly rejecting that assertion, saying that "[a]nyone who says they are in line with my position on renewables, and who then comes out for a veto on renewables, is not telling the truth." Dunne was, predictably, not happy with Shumlin and suggested that "maybe he has flip-flopped or gone someplace else on that particular position."
At the same time, Minter blasted Dunne as the real flip-flopper, but the third candidate in the race, ex-state Sen. Peter Galbraith, actually praised Dunne's stance on wind energy. That was such an unusual move—why would you boost a rival when he's taking on water?—that it prompted immediate speculation that Dunne had struck some sort of deal to shift his position on wind to accommodate Galbraith's views and thereby encourage Galbraith to get out of the race.
Dunne did nothing to quash that line of thought when he deflected questions about whether he was trying to get Galbraith to leave the contest, and Galbraith later added, "Well, I guess you could say that Matt made an effort not to have me in the race." Obviously Dunne's ploy didn't work, since Galbraith is still running, but while his campaign was busy attacking Minter and Shumlin as members of some sort of "establishment" out to get him, it's Dunne who's come off looking like a typical politician.
Amid all this mishugas, outside groups are taking to the airwaves as the contest winds down. Vermonters for Strong Leadership, which says it's funded in part by EMILY's List, has bought at least $72,000 in airtime to support Minter; the group's leader says it'll spend "probably more than $100,000" but likely less than $200,000. The ad is not online yet, but the script praises Minter for helping the state recover from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. However, Silicon Valley businessman Reid Hoffman has spent at least $154,000 on TV ads to support Dunne, a former Google manager. Dunne himself is also up with one more ad. Galbraith has been badly outspent and does not have any major outside allies.
The GOP also has its primary on Tuesday. Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, the favorite of the Republican establishment, faces wealthy former Wall Street executive Bruce Lisman. Lisman has run ads attacking Scott, and he got some extra help from the American Future Fund, which has purchased $27,000 in TV and radio ads. The group, which is part of the Koch brothers' network, is mainly funded by former Lisman colleagues from the defunct investment bank Bear Stearns. There have been no reliable polls of either primary. Vermont is a very blue state, but both sides acknowledge that Scott can put this seat in play in November.
● AZ-05: The anti-tax Club for Growth is spending a reported $243,000 on a spot targeting ex-GoDaddy executive Christine Jones, who led in a recent GOP primary poll. Their commercial argues that Jones once praised Hillary Clinton and encouraged people to "get excited" after Obama was re-elected. The Club is backing state Senate President Andy Biggs in the four-way Aug. 30 primary for this safely red seat.
● CA-25: Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris, a Republican, crossed party lines this week and endorsed Democrat Bryan Caforio over GOP Rep. Steve Knight. About one-eighth of the 25th District is in Lancaster, so this isn't a bad get.
● CO-06: Republican Rep. Mike Coffman is running for re-election in a suburban Denver seat that backed Obama 52-47, and Colorado is looking like a particularly unfriendly state for Donald Trump. So it's not surprising that, when it comes to dealing with Trump, Coffman is emulating the Knights of the Round Table's battle strategy: run away, run away!
In his second TV spot, Coffman tells the audience that people ask him about Trump, and "honestly, I don't care for him much. And I certainly don't trust Hillary." Coffman touts his military background and says that country comes first for him. He then pledges to stand up to a President Trump, and hold a President Hillary Clinton accountable if that's what happens. It's far from clear if this strategy will be effective, and it will be interesting to see if other vulnerable Republicans start to explicitly run against both presidential candidates. Coffman will also release a version of this ad where he will speak in Spanish. The incumbent faces Democratic state Sen. Morgan Carroll in what will be an expensive race.
● IA-03: Freshman Republican Rep. David Young is up with his first commercial, which his campaign says is running for six-figures. The narrator touts his local roots and says that he's working to create jobs and control spending in Congress. It's a generic ad, which isn't necessarily a bad thing for the guy who produced the infamous "Good Meal" spot last cycle (which has unfortunately been pulled from YouTube, but will always live on in our hearts and in our stomachs).
● MN-02: Democrat Angie Craig will need to wait until Tuesday to learn the identify of her GOP rival, but that's not stopping her from taking to the airwaves with her first commercial. Craig, a former medical executive, tells the audience that her company's products saved lives, and she also wanted to help her employees live better ones. She goes on to say that she started "programs to help women move into leadership positions," and she worked to "hire more veterans for good paying jobs."
Craig's campaign says her ad will start airing Friday during the opening Olympic ceremonies. We're likely to see a number of other candidates running commercials during the Olympics over the next two weeks. As we've noted in the past, because viewers are much more likely to watch major sporting events live, they're less apt to record them and fast-forward through the ads, which gives candidates the chance to reach out to a wider audience.
● MN-08: Republican rich guy Stewart Mills is out with another spot against Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan. The narrator says that layoffs in the local mining industry are devastating the Iron Range's economy, and argues Nolan has sided with the Obama administration over them.
● WI-08: The GOP primary for this swingy Green Bay seat is on Tuesday, and both GOP candidates are out with a new ad. Former Scott Walker advisor Mike Gallagher, who is backed by retiring Rep. Reid Ribble, is up with another positive commercial. Several local voters praise Gallagher as an outsider and laud his military background. State Sen. Frank Lasee's spot is not online, but Bloomberg says he both plays up his support for Walker's 2011 anti-union legislation and ties Gallagher to "Washington, D.C. insider money."
There has been no polling, but Gallagher has had a huge financial advantage over Lasee throughout this contest. From July 1 to the 20th, Gallagher outspent his primary rival $253,000 to $83,000. Only Lasee seems to be going negative, which indicates that he doesn't feel very confident going into Election Day. The winner will face Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, a top Democratic recruit.
● Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff: Last week, the local pollster Lincoln Strategy Group found Democrat Paul Penzone leading Maricopa County's notorious GOP Sheriff Joe Arpaio by a 45-42 margin, which is similar to what Penzone's own poll had shown a month before. (Lincoln is a GOP pollster, but says it's not involved in the race.) However, the group OH Predictive Insights gives Arpaio some better news. They have the incumbent leading Penzone 46-41; in 2012, Arpaio beat him by a similar 51-45 margin.
● Deaths: On Wednesday, ex-Ohio GOP Rep. Steve LaTourette died at the age of 62. LaTourette served as Lake County prosecutor until he unseated Democratic Rep. Eric Fingerhut in the 1994 GOP wave. LaTourette had a reputation as one of the more moderate members of the caucus, and he notably backed extending unemployment benefits during the Great Recession. LaTourette never had trouble winning re-election in his suburban Cleveland seat; in 2012, LaTourette pulled the plug on his re-election campaign after winning the primary, and Democrats were left with just a weak nominee to face LaTourette's replacement, David Joyce. LaTourette was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer the next year.
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.