Jacobs was first elected in a 2020 special election in the soon-to-be-defunct 27th District to replace former GOP Rep. Chris Collins after the latter resigned in 2019 before pleading guilty to insider trading charges. Just two weeks ago, there was little reason to think Jacobs would have any trouble securing the GOP nomination in the new 23rd District with the June 10 filing deadline quickly approaching, but his comments on guns prompted a fierce backlash from local Republicans and conservative activists who quickly made clear they would support a primary challenger.
Even before his comments on guns, Jacobs already had one major potential vulnerability in case a major primary challenger did emerge: He only represents 36% of his new district following redistricting, and much of the other 64% is rural territory outside his suburban Buffalo base where gun safety laws are staunchly opposed by Republican voters.
On Thursday before Jacobs called it quits, one such primary challenger had in fact emerged when Tompkins County Legislator Mike Sigler announced he would run in the redrawn 23rd District. Sigler had been running in the 22nd District until court-ordered redistricting scrambled the lines and moved Tompkins County, a heavily blue constituency, into the neighboring 19th District, which is much more competitive than the safely red 23rd. Although Sigler doesn't live in the revamped 23rd, he says he already commutes to work in the district in Tioga County and would move there if he wins.
Additionally state GOP chair Nick Langworthy’s supporters were reportedly circulating ballot petitions in case he ran against Jacobs, though Langworthy had yet to comment on his intentions before Jacobs bailed. Sigler, meanwhile, had said he was watching to see what Langworthy does and might re-evaluate his decision if the party chair joins the race, while Republican state Sen. George Borrello didn’t ruling out running shortly before Jacobs pulled the plug.
● AZ-Sen: Businessman Jim Lamon has unveiled a scorching ad ahead of the August GOP primary attacking Blake Masters, the former Thiel Capital chief operating officer who won Trump's endorsement on Thursday, calling Masters an antisemite over various writings of his dating back to his college days.
The commercial points out where Masters once called World War II "unjust," favorably cited a conspiracy theorist who peddled the century-old antisemitic trope that Zionist Jews are "promoting the New World Order," shared an article on Facebook likening Israel to North Korea, praised the Unabomber, and referenced a "poignant quotation" from Nazi leader Hermann Goering. Not mentioned in the ad was new reporting about how Masters much more recently agreed with a podcast host in a May 25 appearance that campaign finance disclosure laws were "like Kristallnacht," the infamous Nazi pogrom that set the stage for the Holocaust.
Meanwhile, a super PAC backed by Masters' major benefactor Peter Thiel, a far-right tech billionaire who has put $13.5 million of his own money toward supporting Masters, has launched its own ad against Lamon that attacks him for the crime of ... having done business in China, feeding into the same anti-Asian American sentiment that has contributed to the rise of hate crimes in the Trump era.
● NC-Sen: Multiple TV stations in North Carolina have taken down an NRSC attack ad due to its false claims about Democratic nominee Cheri Beasley during her time as the chief justice of the state Supreme Court. The spot in question refers to a "child porn offender" and says that Beasley "voted to set him free." But Beasley did no such thing. Rather, she joined a majority opinion in 2019 that upheld a lower court ruling finding that the police had illegally searched a USB drive that belonged to the defendant, James Terrell. As CBS explains, Terrell was not freed as a result of the decision and in fact remained incarcerated until late last year.
This is the second NRSC ad to get yanked off the airwaves for falsehoods in the last couple of weeks: Recently, New Hampshire stations stopped airing a spot that wrongly claimed that Sen. Maggie Hassan had raised gas prices while she was governor. Ads like these are vulnerable to takedown demands because TV and radio stations can be held liable for defamatory content when it comes from third parties, which is why outside groups usually try to be very careful in the claims they make.
This time, however, the committee reacted with an angry threat after its sloppiness led to yet another unforced error. "This bizarre statement from a TV station that had yet to receive or even ask for our substantiation for the claim will be noted by our media buyers as they make future decisions about ad buys," said a spokesperson. The threat is as idle as can be, though: If the NRSC halts future ad buys at stations it dislikes out of pique, it'll only be limiting the number of voters it can reach.
● NV-Sen, NV-Gov: A new poll from the University of Nevada, Reno finds Democrats with wide advantages in the state's marquee contests, but those gaps are likely due to greater name recognition on the part of incumbents compared to their potential challengers.
In her bid for a second term, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto leads former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt 48-27 and businessman Sam Brown 47-24, but just 41% of GOP primary voters say they are "very" or "extremely" familiar with Laxalt and only 20% say the same about Brown. Meanwhile, Gov. Steve Sisolak is up 43-31 over Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, 44-21 on former Sen. Dean Heller, and 43-17 on former professional boxer Joey Gilbert. Again, recognition among Republican voters is relatively low, with 48% saying they're very or extremely familiar with Lombardo and everyone else below that.
UNR also asked about the GOP primaries in both races but does not appear to have allowed respondents to say they're undecided. That's a critical flaw, since it forces voters to make up their minds when they may not be ready to do so—and many may not be, given their limited familiarity with most of the candidates. For this reason, we don't report on polls structured this way.
● PA-Sen: Wealthy former hedge fund manager Dave McCormick has finally conceded the May 17 GOP primary to TV personality Mehmet Oz, who will now face Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman this fall. While the ongoing primary recount is set to conclude on June 8, Oz led McCormick as of Friday by only 31.2-31.1 for a margin of just under 1,000 votes out of more than 1.3 million ballots cast.
Speaking of Fetterman, the NRSC's first ad attacking the Democrat after his victory in last month's primary is a predictable one. The spot, which is reportedly backed by a $1.5 million buy, claims Fetterman "sided with socialists," "backed a government takeover of healthcare," and "embraced parts of the Green New Deal that'd cost you 50,000 bucks a year." (That last one cites to a study from a right-wing think-tank and reported by Fox News, of course.) The ad for some reason is framed around a bunch of fake Fetterman supporters banging on the sides of a campaign van and then pulling a bunch of silly signs out the back, including one that literally reads "Government Health Care" and is thoughtfully adorned with a caduceus.
● WA-Sen: The Northwest Progressive Institute, which has regularly hired Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling to test Washington's Senate race, once again finds Democratic Sen. Patty Murray comfortably leading her likely Republican opponent, motivational speaker Tiffany Smiley. Murray holds a 51-40 advantage over Smiley, very similar to her 50-41 lead in February and in line with PPP's earlier polls of the race.
● WI-Gov: Donald Trump has endorsed wealthy businessman Tim Michels, who entered the GOP primary for governor fairly late but has been spending heavily to promote himself. Michels' chief rival for the Republican nod, former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, responded by saying, "If I know one thing about President Trump, it's that he likes winners, and I'm the only person in this race who has won statewide—not once, but four times." Er, well, except he doesn't like you?
● FL-04: Republican state Senate President Pro Tempore Aaron Bean has confirmed that he's running in this red-leaning open seat. Bean joins an August primary field that includes state Rep. Jason Fischer and Navy veteran Erick Aguilar.
● HI-02: EMILY's List has endorsed former state Sen. Jill Tokuda in the Democratic primary for Hawaii's open 2nd Congressional District.
● NH-02: Former Hillsborough County Treasurer Robert Burns has announced he's running here in a September GOP primary field that includes Keen Mayor George Hansel. Hansel, who recently joined the race with Gov. Chris Sununu's endorsement, calls himself pro-choice and is positioning himself as a relative moderate, setting up a contrast with the staunchly conservative Burns in the race to take on Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster in this blue-leaning seat this fall.
● NV-02: The Congressional Leadership Fund, which is the main super PAC of the House GOP leadership, is reportedly spending $220,000 to help Rep. Mark Amodei ahead of his June 14 primary battle with perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian. In fact, CLF's ad begins by slagging Tarkanian, who shockingly managed to win a seat as a Douglas County commissioner in 2020, as a six-time loser who only trekked up to northern Nevada from Las Vegas in his never-ending quest for public office. It then berates him on immigration, claiming Tark "attacked President Trump's strong immigration policies."
There hadn't previously been much indication that Amodei was especially vulnerable, though these days, any Republican with even the least whiff of establishment-y-ness about them is at risk from a more MAGA-fied opponent. However, the With Honor Fund, which backs military veterans in both parties, recently put about $250,000 into the race to boost Amodei (he served in the Army JAG Corps), while the previously unknown America First Voices dropped $70,000 on mailers attacking the incumbent last month. CLF may just be playing it safe, or it may be seeing real signs that Amodei is in trouble.
● SD-AL: Republican Rep. Dusty Johnson appears to be taking no chances in his bout against state Rep. Taffy Howard and is running a pair of ads shortly before the June 7 primary. The first ad shows Johnson touting how he helped pass a number of bills during his tenure and criticizing Howard for failing to pass any bills of her own in the state legislature. The second ad decries unmentioned attacks against Johnson and features him highlighting how he opposed a number of policies from the supposed "Biden agenda."
● DCCC: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has made its first batch of fall TV ad reservations, featuring $21.5 million in bookings across 13 media markets in seven states. The reservations are aimed largely if not entirely at protecting Democratic-held seats. You can find our assessment of which districts these reservations are likely aimed at in our tracking spreadsheet, which includes earlier bookings from two major super PACs, the House Majority PAC on the left and the Congressional Leadership Fund on the right. The GOP's official campaign arm, the NRCC, has yet to enter the fray.
Dollar amounts reflect the reported size of ad buys and may be larger.