● AZ-Sen: In Tuesday's primary for the Arizona Senate seat currently held by retiring Sen. Jeff Flake, local GOP pollster Data Orbital finds Rep. Martha McSally cruising to a 48-22 landslide over former state Sen. Kelli Ward, with former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio at 18. That's a jump for McSally over the 38-23 edge she held over Ward in Data Orbital's June survey, and every poll here for months has found McSally comfortably ahead.
Nevertheless, McSally and her allies aren't taking any chances ahead of next week's primary. DefendArizona has been spending heavily to attack Ward, and they just added another $480,000 to their ongoing ad buy.
● MS-Sen-B: Despite Donald Trump has finally endorsed appointed GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith ahead of the nonpartisan November special election.
● NM-Sen: The Majority Institute, a Democratic-affiliated outfit, has released an early-August poll from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner that found Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich easily prevailing with a 48-33 lead over Republican Mick Rich, while Libertarian Gary Johnson earned 17 percent. Those numbers are very similar to a GBA Strategies internal poll for Heinrich conducted around the same time that had him up 47-29 over Rich, with Johnson at 22, although a Tarrance Group internal poll for Rich in early August had him down just 41-34 and Johnson a distant third at 19 percent.
● NV-Sen: Someone at the NRSC must be confused that it's 1972 instead of 2018, because their latest TV ad hits Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen for having the support of "Hanoi Jane" Fonda. That's right, 46 years after actress Jane Fonda's divisive trip to North Vietnam, Republicans are still trying to use the failed Vietnam War against a Democratic candidate, apparently believing that they can get traction over the issue by attempting to portray Rosen as no friend of veterans.
● PA-Sen, PA-Gov: On behalf of NBC, Marist's first poll of the Keystone State this cycle finds Democrats dominating in both statewide races. For Senate, they give Democratic Sen. Bob Casey a 53-38 advantage over GOP Rep. Lou Barletta, who has trailed in every poll so far. Likewise, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf holds a 54-40 edge over Republican Scott Wagner, who has also not led in a single poll this cycle.
● FL-Gov: St. Pete Polls' final survey ahead of next week's Republican primary finds Rep. Ron DeSantis cruising to a 56-33 blowout over state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. That margin isn't too different than their 50-30 DeSantis edge in July, but while most pollsters over the last few months have found DeSantis leading, they disagree wildly over the size of his margin; for instance, SurveyUSA had DeSantis up just 40-38 in their mid-August poll.
On the Democratic side, last-minute money continues to flow. Billionaire megadonors Tom Steyer and George Soros announced they are donating $550,000 to the campaign of Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, while donors affiliated with the two also are chipping in an extra $100,000. Gillum already had the support of Steyer's NextGen America, which had previously devoted $1 million to help elect him. Meanwhile, former Rep. Gwen Graham is getting a late $500,000 donation from her father, former Gov. and Sen. Bob Graham.
On Friday, Graham also picked up an endorsement from Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. Meanwhile, billionaire developer Jeff Greene's campaign also declared that day that, despite their earlier announcement that they wouldn't advertise on TV for the final week of the campaign, Greene would restart his ad campaign … on Monday. Election Day is the very next day.
● GA-Gov: After a primary campaign message that was heavy on red meat for the base and a caricature of white identity politics, Republican Brian Kemp's first general election ad takes a far more subtle approach. The spot features a genial Kemp talking about the needs to "grow good jobs, not government," for "early, locally controlled education," and for helping the vulnerable yet requiring those who can to work.
● KS-Gov: On Thursday, the State Objections Board rejected a Democratic challenge that sought to block wealthy independent Greg Orman from qualifying for the November ballot. This outcome was unsurprising, since the board was composed of representatives from the offices of the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and attorney general, all of whom are Republicans. The only remaining option for Democrats would be to file a lawsuit over Orman's petition signatures.
● KY-Gov: Despite state Attorney General Andy Beshear having already kicked off his campaign for the Democratic nomination last month, state House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins has reaffirmed that he's still thinking of mounting his own campaign for governor next year. However, Adkins and another prospective Democratic candidate, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, both say they're focusing their efforts on this year's elections first, so it may be awhile before they make their plans known.
● NM-Gov: Republican Steve Pearce is responding to a recent ad from a DGA-backed group that argued that he was corrupt and too close to big oil. Pearce's commercial declares that Democrats are just "recycling negative ads" from 2010 that were debunked by fact checkers, and cites former Democratic Gov. Jerry Apodaca's support to argue that the far-right Freedom Caucus member is "willing to work with both parties."
● OH-Gov: Republican Mike DeWine recently launched a commercial arguing that Democrat Richard Cordray had done a poor job getting rape kits tested while he was state attorney general, and Cordray quickly went up with a response ad.
The spot stars John Lenhart, the sheriff of Shelby County north of Dayton. Lenhart tells the audience that there was a backlog because, when Cordray took over, there was no statewide system for processing evidence in sexual assault cases. He praises Cordray for fixing a backlog that stretched on for decades, and he declares that he's a Republican who knows both candidates and is "voting for the man, not the party." Lenhart worked for Cordray during the Democrat's tenure as attorney general.
● AZ-02: EMILY's List has launched a $240,000 buy for former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick ahead of Tuesday's Democratic primary, which takes their total investment in this race to $504,000.
● CA-39: The Congressional Leadership Fund continues to try to gain traction against Democrat Gil Cisneros with another ad hitting him over a sexual harassment accusation from shortly before this year's primary. However, as we previously noted, no major media outlet has so much as touched the story despite having had months to look into the allegations. Furthermore, even though three of Cisneros' Democratic rivals in the primary said at the time that the accusations "cannot be ignored," they evidently changed course, because they all swiftly endorsed Cisneros after he advanced to the general election against Republican Young Kim.
In a more subtle yet still unsavory move, the CLF's ad engages in what can only be described as fat-shaming: The spot deliberately uses only use old pictures of Cisneros taken before his considerable weight loss and tries portray him as a literal cigar-smoking "fat cat" politician.
● CA-50: Both GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were indicted Tuesday for allegedly using $250,000 in campaign funds for their personal use, but the congressman is valiantly blaming her for everything. On Thursday night, Hunter employed a Shaggy Defense and took it one step further, telling Fox:
"She was also the campaign manager, so whatever she did that'll be looked at too, I'm sure. But I didn't do it. I didn't spend any money illegally."
● NH-01: VoteVets has launched what WMUR reports is a $190,000 TV buy in support of former Department of Veterans Affairs official Maura Sullivan in the Sept. 11 Democratic primary, with another $30,000 going towards airing the ad online. The spot features a local World War II veteran praising Sullivan's career in the Marines and at the Pentagon.
● NJ-07: Politico reports that the DCCC has placed a new $1.17 million cable TV buy against GOP Rep. Leonard Lance that will last from Sept. 18 to Election Day.
● OH-12: On Friday, Democrat Danny O'Connor conceded defeat to Republican Troy Balderson, following the conclusion of the official canvass of the Aug. 7 special election for Ohio's 12th Congressional District. In the final tally, Balderson prevailed 50.1 to 49.3, a margin of just 1,680 votes. The extremely close result stands in contrast to the area's longtime Republican lean: Donald Trump carried the district 53-42, and former Rep. Pat Tiberi, whose resignation triggered the special election, won his last race 67-30.
Balderson can't rest, though: He and O'Connor will meet again in the November general election. While immediate rematches of special elections rarely result in a different outcome (the last such occasion came in 1994), Balderson still has to contend with a difficult election season for Republicans that may yet be growing worse, and O'Connor showed he's capable both of raising a lot of money and withstanding millions in GOP attack ads.
Prior to the special election, we rated the race "Lean Republican," in part because of the district's red nature, and in part because even Democratic internal polls all had O'Connor trailing. We're maintaining that rating for the midterms, balancing Balderson's incumbency and history of these sorts of second encounters against the overall political environment. This race, however, is as good a candidate we've seen in quite some time to bring that special election rematch streak to an end.
● PA-07: The U.S. Center for SafeSport recently informed Republican Marty Northstein that they've closed their investigation into a sexual misconduct claim that had been lodged against him. A week earlier, the Allentown Morning Call reported that Northstein, who is the GOP nominee for this competitive open seat, had been placed on leave in February by the Lehigh Valley Velodrome amidst a the investigation, which stemmed from an alleged incident that took place around 2000, the same year Nothstein won a gold medal in cycling at the Olympics.
Nothstein, who had refused to explain why he was on leave before the Morning Call story appeared, has denied any accusations of wrongdoing. It's still not known what the allegations against him were. Nothstein faces Democrat Susan Wild in November.
● TX-32: The Texas Tribune's Abby Livingston reports that a group called Equity Action Forward is spending six figures on an issue ad against GOP Rep. Pete Sessions. The narrator hits Sessions for supporting the Trump administration's child separation policies.
● VA-10: GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock very much looks like the underdog against Democrat Jennifer Wexton, so it's hardly surprising that the incumbent is using her first general election ad to go negative. The narrator declares that Comstock "fought for and won tax cuts," while Wexton is "the state's number one liberal," and pledged to raise taxes. Not exactly the most compelling stuff.
● House: The pro-Trump group America First PAC recently announced that they were spending $12.5 million across 10 House races and two Senate contests, but we now have the complete list of House targets as well as how much money is going to each one:
ME-02: Bruce Poliquin (R-inc): $1 million
MI-08: Mike Bishop (R-inc): $854,000
MI-11: OPEN (GOP-held): $850,000
MN-01: OPEN (Democratic-held): $1.1 million
MN-08: OPEN (Democratic-held): $2 million
NC-13: Ted Budd (R-inc): $980,000
NY-22: Claudia Tenney (R-inc): $450,000
PA-17: Keith Rothfus (R-inc)/Conor Lamb (D-inc): $726,000
TX-32: Pete Sessions (R-inc): $1.5 million
WV-03: OPEN (GOP-held): $485,000
They're also splitting $2.5 million between the Missouri and North Dakota Senate races.
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