We’ll start with a look at Wagner’s race in District 3, which swung from 54-44 Romney to 51-44 Clinton. Wagner won his seat last year in a special election by beating former Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez 42-37, and Sanchez had planned to seek a rematch until November. However, the former congresswoman ended up dropping out around the same time that Aitken, who is an Orange County Fairgrounds board member, got in.
Do’s District 1, which moved from 59-39 Obama to 64-30 Clinton, looks like much more friendly turf for the blue team. Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, Westminster Councilman Sergio Contreras, and Garden Grove Councilwoman Kim Bernice Nguyen are all challenging Do as Democrats, but the incumbent may still have a shot to win outright as the only Republican. His allies at the Orange County sheriff’s deputies union are doing whatever they can to make sure this happens, and Voice of OC reports that the group has spent $400,000 on ads supporting Do as well as a similar amount on pro-Wagner messaging.
● AL-Sen: The anti-tax Club for Growth has unveiled a new TV ad attacking Republican Rep. Bradley Byrne over his disavowal of Trump following the release of the Access Hollywood tape in 2016. The spot highlights how Byrne called Trump "not fit to be [p]resident" even though he’s now a strong supporter.
● GA-Sen-B: GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler has released a poll from the Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies showing Republicans possibly snagging both spots in a potential January runoff and shutting out Democrats entirely. The poll gives Loeffler a 20-19 lead over Republican Rep. Doug Collins, with businessman and Democrat Matt Lieberman close behind with 18%. Other Democrats took an additional 13%, but the survey didn't reveal any details about which candidates were included or their individual support. An unreleased January poll for Loeffler had Collins ahead of her by 20-15.
This is the first poll we've seen here in months, but we still have yet to see a poll breaking down the results for each of the major candidates in the race, including former U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver and Rev. Raphael Warnock, who has the DSCC's backing. Both Democrats only joined the race in the last month.
Meanwhile, Loeffler has a new TV ad that goes after Bernie Sanders. The spot begins by touting her professional accomplishments for breaking "the glass ceiling," then Loeffler appears on camera to denounce Sanders' "socialism" as "dangerous.”
● NC-Sen: National Republicans have spent $3 million so far on an effort to meddle in Tuesday's Democratic primary to take on GOP Sen. Thom Tillis, but two new polls indicate that former state Sen. Cal Cunningham very much remains the frontrunner.
The Democratic firm Public Policy Polling's latest survey of its home state finds Cunningham leading state Sen. Erica Smith 45-18, which is well above the 29-10 edge he had in early February. The conservative Civitas Institute is also out with a survey from the GOP pollster Spry Strategies that gives Cunningham a similar 48-21 lead over Smith.
Both parties agree that Cunningham would be a stronger general election candidate than Smith, who has raised very little money. The Republicans saw a chance to give Smith some unsolicited help a few weeks ago, though, and the Senate Leadership Fund funded a super PAC to run ads praising her and attacking former state Sen. Cal Cunningham. Smith quickly spoke out against the GOP's effort, but of course that did nothing to stop these commercials.
Cunningham and his allies have been running plenty of ads in turn to boost him ahead of the primary, and according to these polls, he's obtained a big lead. However, the Democratic campaign for Cunningham has not been cheap: As of last week, VoteVets and Carolina Blue have spent a total of $11.7 million for this primary, while Cunningham has also needed to use plenty of money to win the nomination.
● OK-Sen: Longtime Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe says he'll announce on March 6 whether or not he'll run again, just over one month ahead of the April 10 filing deadline. Inhofe will turn 86 years old shortly after Election Day.
● SC-Sen: Marist for NBC: Lindsey Graham (R-inc): 54, Jaime Harrison (D): 37
● TX-Sen: YouGov Democratic primary for the University of Houston: MJ Hegar: 22, Royce West: 7, Chris Bell: 6, Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez: 4
● MO-Gov: Uniting Missouri PAC, which is backing Republican Gov. Mike Parson, is launching a three-week $750,000 TV ad buy to support him. Their spot praises Parson's economic leadership, lauding him for cutting taxes and supposedly creating jobs. This ad buy notably comes shortly after disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens began making noise about potentially challenging Parson in the GOP primary.
● AL-01: Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl has debuted a new TV ad ahead of next week's Republican primary. Carl presents himself as a stalwart Trump ally who will "get the wall built" and oppose "sanctuary cities."
● AL-02: 2018 House candidate Barry Moore is out with a new TV ad where he attests to his Trump bona fides ahead of next week's Republican primary. Moore claims many candidates in the race say they support Trump, back term limits, and will fight for conservative values, but Moore says he's actually "done it." Moore also notes that he's the only military veteran in the contest.
● AZ-01: Safford City Councilor Chris Taylor, a Republican, has suspended his campaign for a very unusual reason: Taylor admitted that he overdosed on heroin last week and was seeking treatment for substance abuse, saying that he's been struggling with opioid addiction since high school. Taylor hadn't gained much traction in the GOP primary, and his departure from the race leaves 2018 House candidate Tiffany Shedd as the GOP frontrunner to take on Democratic Rep. Tom O'Halleran.
● GA-07: The anti-tax Club for Growth has endorsed emergency room physician Rich McCormick, who has been self-funding most of his campaign. McCormick faces a crowded Republican primary against state Sen. Renee Unterman, former education executive Lerah Lee, teacher Lisa Noël Babbage, businessman Mark Gonsalves, and former Home Depot executive Lynne Homrich.
● IL-03: NARAL, SEIU, and EMILY's List are spending $1.4 million on TV, digital, and mail ads on behalf of businesswoman Marie Newman ahead of next month's Democratic primary, with the TV portion of the buy reportedly for $330,000. Their ads (here and here) attack conservative Rep. Dan Lipinski for opposing abortion rights, voting to defund Planned Parenthood, and calling on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
● MI-06: Despite long-running speculation that the 17-term congressman could call it quits in 2020, Republican Rep. Fred Upton has announced that he will seek re-election this year. Upton had long had little trouble winning re-election in his GOP-leaning southwestern Michigan seat, but he prevailed by only 50-46 against a well-funded challenger in 2018, and he's facing yet another vigorous challenge this year by Democratic state Rep. Jon Hoadley.
● MO-02: While there was some speculation at the start of the cycle that Republican Rep. Ann Wagner could retire, she has filed to run for re-election to a fifth term. Wagner only won in 2018 by 51-47, and Democratic state Sen. Jill Schupp is running a well-funded race against her this cycle.
● Baltimore, MD Mayor: City Council President Brandon Scott has released a poll of the from Global Strategy Group that shows him trailing former Mayor Sheila Dixon 20-16 two months ahead of the Democratic primary. The survey finds former police spokesman T.J. Smith in third with 13%, while both Mayor Jack Young and former state prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah take 11% each. It only takes a simple plurality to win the Democratic nod in this heavily blue city.
● San Diego County, CA Board of Supervisors: San Diego County Democrats have a chance to take control of the Board of Supervisors for the first time in 30 years, and they’re not passing it up. The GOP enjoys a 4-1 majority on this officially nonpartisan body, but they’re defending all three of the seats that will be on the 2020 ballot. The nonpartisan top-two primary will be on Tuesday, but unlike in neighboring Orange County, candidates cannot avert a Nov. 3 general election by taking a majority of the vote.
One of the three GOP-held seats, the open District 1, already looks like a lost cause for the GOP. The seat backed Hillary Clinton 68-27, and even Republican Alex Galicia admits he’s very much an underdog. District 2 is also open, but the GOP is favored to keep this 49-45 Trump district. The key seat, then, will be District 3, where GOP incumbent Kristin Gaspar is defending a 57-37 Clinton seat.
Gasper’s two Democratic foes are former Treasury official Terra Lawson-Remer and Escondido City Councilwoman Olga Diaz. Gasper had $302,000 on-hand to defend the seat as of Jan. 18, while Lawson-Remer led Diaz $157,000 to $98,000. A labor-funded group called “Build Bridges, Not Walls Opposing Republican Kristin Gaspar for Supervisor” also had $200,000 to spend.
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