• AZ-08: Republican Jesse Kelly's having some trouble answering questions—and he sure is going to remind you of someone. In a recent interview with local TV station KGUN9, reporter Jennifer Waddell tried to ask Kelly about an endorsement he once received from the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (aka ALIPAC)—an organization the ADL says is backed by white supremacists. John Ellinwood, a Kelly aide who was serving as some kind of Soviet-style "minder" for his candidate, flipped out over the question and after the interview concluded, berated Waddell and questioned her "professionalism."
Ellinwood seemed to be most furious about the fact that Waddell characterized the 2010 endorsement as "recent," but it's a moot point, since ALIPAC just re-endorsed Kelly a few days ago. In a fit of rage, he cancelled a second interview scheduled with Kelly, but KGUN got the better of them, airing a clip of the first interview and describing Ellinwood's reaction in detail. So Kelly backed down and agreed to do the second Q&A after all. Only it really didn't go too well. I strongly urge you to watch it—it will only take 37 seconds of your time:
Benito: "Do you plan on accepting that endorsement this time around?"
Kelly: "Our campaign is going to stay focused on lower gas prices using American energy, lower taxes, and creating jobs."
Benito: "Do you plan on accepting that endorsement?"
Kelly: "Our campaign is going to stay focused on lower taxes, lowering gas prices using American energy, and creating jobs."
Benito: "So it that a yes or a no?"
Kelly: "Our campaign is going to stay focused on lowering gas prices, creating jobs, and lowering gas prices using American energy."
Benito: "So no comment?"
Kelly: "Our campaign is going to stay focused on lowering gas prices, creating jobs, and lowering taxes."
• FL-Sen: Marist (PDF) for NBC. 5/17-20. Registered voters. MoE: ±3.0% (no trendlines):
Bill Nelson (D-inc): 46Quinnipiac. 5/15-21. Registered voters. MoE: ±2.4% (3/20-26 results):
Connie Mack (R): 42
Bill Nelson (D-inc): 41 (44)Republican primary. MoE: ±3.6% (1/4-8 results):
Connie Mack (R): 42 (36)
Undecided: 15 (17)
Bill Nelson (D-inc): 43 (47)
George LeMieux (R): 36 (27)
Undecided: 19 (22)
Connie Mack (R): 40 (39)Quinnipiac's poll has come under a lot of fire for allegedly tilting too Republican—the sample's self-reported party ID is 34% Republican, 31% Democratic, 29% independent, and 6% "other." Most published criticism from locals centers around the fact that Florida Democrats hold a 40-36 statewide edge in voter registration, but that to me is bunk in a state that still has a sizable Dixiecrat influence. (Put another way: Kentucky is 55% registered Democrat.) Still, even in 2010, the exit polls had Ds and Rs at parity, 36% apiece. Then again, in 2004, the GOP had a four-point advantage.
Mike McCalister (R): 8 (6)
George LeMieux (R): 7 (6)
But perhaps what stands out most is that this same poll gave Romney a 47-41 lead over Obama, the largest margin he's had since... another Quinnipiac poll, all the way back in September. By comparison, the new Marist poll (PDF) puts Obama on top 48-44 (including leaners). So yeah, I'm having a hard time buying Quinnipiac's results, especially since nothing's happened in the last couple of months in Florida to suggest the race has shifted to such a dramatic degree.
P.S. Here's another nice little Connie Mack screwup: The somehow-he's-still-the-GOP-frontrunner sent out a statement touting an endorsement from Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno, who served in the House with Mack for two terms as Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico. But evidently someone edited the press release a bit too aggressively, because the original version contained a slam against "liberal Sen. Bill Nelson," which ticked Fortuno off. A revised release later went out without any mention of Nelson whatsoever.
• HI-Sen (PDF): A poll of the Hawaii Senate race for the League of Conservation Voters (conducted by PPP) shows Dem Rep. Mazie Hirono leading GOP ex-Gov. Linda Lingle 50-41. They didn't, however, pair Lingle with Ed Case or ask about the Democratic primary—or if they did, the LCV didn't include that information. The last time PPP was in the field in Hawaii, all the way back in October, Hirono had a slightly smaller 48-42 edge.
• IN-Sen: Republican Richard Mourdock, cognizant that he still has to reach out to Sen. Dick Lugar's supporters (even if, or perhaps, particularly because a Lugar endorsement looks so doubtful), has been busy scrubbing his website of anti-Lugar messages and references to tea party support. He hasn't done a very thorough job, though, since his Twitter account is still chock-full of goodies.
• MA-Sen: Suffolk University (PDF). 5/20-22. Likely voters. MoE: ±4% (2/11-15 results):
Elizabeth Warren (D): 47 (40)When the DSCC released a two-week-old internal poll showing the race tied at 48 apiece on Tuesday, that actually got me nervous: After several weeks of negative headlines over questions about Elizabeth Warren's ancestry, I was worried that national Democrats were trying to pre-empt potential bad news from the Suffolk poll they knew would be released late on Wednesday. Turns out, I shouldn't have been so concerned. Not only does the Suffolk survey match the DSCC's results, but check out those trendlines: Back in February, Suffolk was one of a series of polls that all of a sudden showed Scott Brown with wide leads that he hadn't enjoyed in quite some time. Now, they're back to seeing the race as a tossup.
Scott Brown (R-inc): 48 (49)
Undecided: 5 (9)
But if you have a good memory, you'll recall the prior poll came in for a lot of criticism: There were some very questionable choices in terms of question ordering, and even Republicans didn't believe the spread, according to Dave Catanese. So I'd urge some caution here, though I will note that Suffolk removed some of those troublesome questions that appeared before their head-to-head matchup in February.
There's also another piece of good news contained in this poll:
Seventy-two percent of likely voters were aware of the recent controversy concerning Elizabeth Warren's heritage. Of those, 49 percent said Warren was telling the truth about being part Native American; 28 percent said she was not telling the truth; and 23 percent weren't sure. Meanwhile, 41 percent said they believed that Elizabeth Warren benefited by listing herself as a minority, while 45 percent said she did not benefit. Sixty-nine percent of likely voters said that Warren's Native American heritage listing is not a significant story, while 27 percent said that it is.I'll be honest: I was afraid that the Native America ancestry story would be a real blow to Warren. We'll see if Brown runs any attack ads on it, but for now, it seems like it's not going to be a major issue. (And the fact that Brown made a binding "clean campaign" agreement with Warren helpfully makes it very hard for outside groups to play dirty on this one.)
P.S. One small additional point: Suffolk actually tested Warren's only remaining Democratic primary opponent, attorney Marisa DeFranco, against Brown as well. Brown leads 49-28, but the salient fact is that against an absolute Some Dude like DeFranco, he only performs one point better than against Warren. That certainly suggests a very stark ceiling for him.
Sherrod Brown (D-inc): 51 (47)The last few Ohio polls we've seen (Quinnipiac and PPP) have shown the lead in the Senate race narrowing into the high single digits for Sherrod Brown, thanks to heavy advertising from the previously-little-known Josh Mandel. However, Marist's latest still gives Brown a low double-digit lead, and in fact a better result than last time, unexpected since they saw the gap narrow in the presidential race (down to a six-point lead for Barack Obama). (David Jarman)
Josh Mandel (R): 37 (37)
Undecided: 12 (16)
• OH-Sen, OH-16: Republican Senate candidate Josh Mandel has decided to return some $105K in questionable campaign donations that came from a handful of employees of the Suarez Corporation—donations which are now under federal investigation. GOP Rep. Jim Renacci, who also was the beneficiary of this mysterious Suarez largesse, isn't following suit, though, and I think is subtly trying to suggest that this is some kind of politically-motivated inquest. From a Renacci spokesman: "When we first learned of the Obama Administration's investigation into this group of Republican donors several months ago, we decided not to rush to judgment." Because the FBI = the Obama administration, right?
• PA-Sen: Rasmussen: Bob Casey (D-inc): 48, Tom Smith (R): 41
• TX-Sen: A last-minute poll from PPP shows that all that advertising on behalf of David Dewhurst (much of it slamming his chief rival, Ted Cruz) may have had the desired effect. Dewhurst now leads Cruz 46-29, a major reversal of fortune compared to PPP's prior poll from only a month ago, which had Dewhurst up just 38-26. Indeed, Cruz's negatives have taken a hammering: His favorables have gone from 31-17 to 38-32. Dewhurst, meanwhile, has seen his positives soar, from 47-22 in April to a pretty exception 61-25 now.
This also explains why, in a hypothetical two-man runoff, he leads Cruz 59-34; Tom Jensen says that those who plan to vote for third-place candidate Tom Leppert overwhelmingly prefer Dewhurst. Tom offers one positive tea-leaf for Cruz, which is that far more of his supports are "very excited" about voting on Tuesday, though that's not much to cling to. In a final effort to keep his campaign afloat, Cruz has loaned himself $400K, and he also picked up an endorsement from Rick Santorum, but it's starting to look like the dream will die (at least for this cycle).
Tim Kaine (D): 49 (48)The third leg of Marist's three-poll batch released on Thursday finds Democratic ex-Gov. Tim Kaine still in good shape in the open Senate race in Virginia, with one of the biggest leads anyone's seen for him, at six points over George Allen (most non-Rasmussen pollsters have seen Kaine up by one or two). On the other hand, that's still down from Marist's previous poll, which gave him a nine-point edge... but you might remember that sample seemed a little too good to be true, given that it also gave Barack Obama a 17-point lead over Mitt Romney. Today, Obama leads Romney by a much more believable 4, so it's good to see that Kaine dropped by a much smaller amount and in fact is now outperforming Obama. (David Jarman)
George Allen (R): 43 (39)
Undecided: 9 (13)
• IN-Gov: Running mates—whether on presidential or gubernatorial tickets—don't usually make much if any difference with voters. But here's an interesting example of a lieutenant governor pick that seems to be having a positive effect on the Democratic party establishment. The other day, former state House Speaker John Gregg, who has a pretty conservative profile for a Dem, tapped longtime state Sen. Vi Simpson, who has a pretty liberal record, as his number two. According to one local report, the move appears to be paying dividends:
As for energizing the base here are two examples: A labor leader says that Gregg's labor support just went from 60% to 100%. And the Stonewall Democrats, a gay and lesbian organization, had labeled Gregg a DINO, Democrat in name only. It is now calling on its members to give his candidacy a second look.(Hat-tip: ndrwmls10)
• WI-Gov: A trio of new polls came out on the Wisconsin recall between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, and all showed GOP Gov. Scott Walker prevailing over Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett by five points or more. St. Norbert (PDF) comes closest to other recent polling, with Walker up 50-45. Meanwhile, libertarian magazine Reason (via ORC International) has Walker on top 50-42 (PDF). And We Ask America, the polling arm of the right-wing Illinois Manufacturers' Association, continues to have the most wildly outsized margins for Walker, showing him ahead 54-42. (Ten days ago, they had him up 52-43.)
Barrett then responded with his own internal poll from Garin-Hart-Yang, which put Walker up just 50-48. One orthogonal observation I'd reference as you're trying to make sense of all these conflicting results is this comment from Daily Kos Elections community member conspiracy, who points out that in 2010—when Walker and Barrett also faced off for the governor's mansion—the final round of polls showed Walker with an average lead of nine points. But he ultimately won by only five, which is a potentially optimistic note for Barrett.
• AR-01, AR-04: Both of Tuesday's Democratic House primaries in Arkansas are headed to runoffs, thanks to third-wheel candidates who siphoned off enough of the vote to preclude the front-runner from obtaining outright victory by clearing the 50% mark. In AR-01, prosecutor Scott Ellington came tantalizingly close with 49.5%, so he'll face a second round against state Rep. Clark Hall, who took 39%. Third-place finisher Gary Latanich (12%) is declining to endorse either man. The winner will face freshman GOP Rep. Rick Crawford.
The contest was closer in AR-04, where state Sen. Gene Jeffress led attorney Q. Byrum Hurst 43-36. Self-described "conservative Democrat" D.C. Morrison (who indeed is quite conservative and usually supports Republicans) finished with 21% and has given his backing to Jeffress. Hurst and Jeffress are vying to take on Iraq vet Tom Cotton, who handily avoided a runoff with 58% in his own primary against 2010 nominee Beth Anne Rankin. The runoffs will be held on June 12.
P.S. I'm wondering if Jeffress and Ellington, who were both outspent and whose opponents both advertised on TV while they did not, were helped by the fact that the ballot apparently included their current job titles: "senator" and "prosecuting attorney" respectively. But you'd think Hall's would have been on there, too, no?
• AZ-08: Ugh, barf. Democrat Ron Barber's lucky that Jesse Kelly had such a bad day—maybe this screwup will fade more quickly, because he literally pulled a David Weprin. (That's a bad thing.) Barber, running in the June special election to fill ex-Rep. Gabby Giffords's seat, refused to say whether he'd vote for Barack Obama in a debate on Wednesday with Kelly. Perhaps realizing he'd screwed up and made himself look weak, Barber's campaign sent out a statement the next day saying that he would, in fact, cast a ballot for Obama. But sheez. I certainly figured Barber was a far stronger campaigner than Weprin, who, in his own special election last fall, also wouldn't say whether he'd vote to re-elect the president. And we all remember how Weprin's race wound up.
• CO-06: So is this how freshman GOP Rep. Mike Coffman thinks he can put to rest his disastrous decision to go full birther at a recent Republican fundraiser—and his even more disastrous decision to stonewall a TV news reporter who caught him on camera acting like a mobster invoking the fifth? Coffman's now penned a guest op-ed in the Denver Post apologizing once again for his remarks, calling them "boneheaded." This time he went further than his original half-assed apology, though, saying he was also wrong to also question "the president's devotion to our country." Most amusingly, though, he concludes by saying: "This was my mistake, and I'm not afraid to own up to it." If Coffman's not afraid, then why has he shunned all public appearances and refused to answer the media's questions about this?
• NJ-09: For some inscrutable reason, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is stepping into the Pascrell-Rothman primary, donating $5,000 to Rep. Bill Pascrell—and refusing to comment on why. Other members of Congress (in the House, where it makes more sense) are also choosing sides; Roll Call's John Stanton has a run-down.
Meanwhile, this is of course mega-sketchy, but PolitickerNJ cites an unnamed "source close to" the campaign of Rep. Steve Rothman who says that a supposed Rothman internal only has him four points ahead of Pascrell. (Pascrell just released his own poll that showed Rothman up by one.) It feels like someone must have cracked out of turn, though, because Rothman's campaign has said on the record that they won't share their own polling—and this leaker isn't exactly sharing very dominant results, if they're accurate.
• NM-01: It looks like a rival campaign is shopping around an oppo hit on Democratic state Sen. Eric Griego. The Albuquerque Journal reports: "At least 11 arrest warrants were issued for Griego by Metropolitan Court judges between 2000 and 2007, records show. The warrants were for failing to appear at scheduled court hearings or missing court-ordered driver school programs for traffic citations, such as speeding." Ordinarily I'd ignore an article about a speeding ticket or two, but the number of violations, coupled with the repeated failures to appear in court, are enough such that I'd be concerned about this turning into more of a story, especially with so little time left before the primary.
SC-07: Good grief. Ted Vick, a man with a resume that most Democratic consultants would drool over (farmer, state legislator, businessman, pastor, Lt. Colonel in the South Carolina National Guard, etc.), was arrested on Wednesday night for D.U.I. and possession of a firearm with an expired permit. On top of that, Vick had a 21-year-old female college student in his passenger seat. Oy. Amazingly, Vick is not the first candidate in this race to be arrested—GOP state Rep. Thad Viers dropped out of the field earlier this year after being jailed on harassment charges. Vick, who used to be a highly-touted recruit for this newly-drawn district, should really follow Viers' lead and fade away fast. For now, though, in his first public statement on the matter, Vick says that "politics will have to wait" while he "consults" with his family and pastor. Preston Brittain, a well-financed attorney and Vick's chief rival in the Democratic primary, seems to have lucked out here in a major way. (James L)
• CA Prop 29: Ugh. Anyone still in Polyanna mode about the influence of money in politics need look no further than right here in the Golden State. California's Proposition 29 is on the June ballot, and seeks to add a $1 per-pack tobacco tax. In a health conscious state like California, the ballot measure was cruising, with an early Spring poll by PPIC showing it leading 67-30.
Two months and $38 million of tobacco industry cash later, the initiative still leads, but by a drastically reduced margin. PPIC just polled the state again, and just 53 percent support the initiative now, with 42 percent opposed. Anti-29 ads have saturated California airwaves almost as heavily as Meg Whitman did in 2010. Unlike Whitman, however, the ad blitz appears to be paying off for the cigarette lobby—though, fortunately, they still have a ways to go. (Steve Singiser)
• MD-Init: Alright, here's one optimistic poll: PPP just conducted a new survey of Maryland, finding voters in favor of the state's new marriage equality law by a 57-37 margin. That's important because there may be a referendum on the legislation this fall. Most interesting is that the numbers were a lot closer in March—52-44 in support. Why such a big change? African American voters went from 56-39 opposed to 55-36 in favor in that timeframe. You might almost think there was some sort of major announcement in there at some point....
• WATN?: Looks like former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist remains as D-curious as ever: He was spotted on Wednesday night attending a fundraiser for Democratic Dave Aronberg, a former state senator who is running for the position of Palm Beach County state attorney. Crist explained his presence (as did another attendee, Florida GOP finance chair A.K. Desai) by saying he's a "friend" of Aronberg's.
• MO-Sen: Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill touts her role in passing legislation to address the mismanagement of Arlington National Cemetery, where countless veterans are buried. Size of the buy: $352K.
• MT-Gov: The GOP primary gets its first real negative ad, from Corey Stapleton, who attacks Rick Hill for having too much "baggage" (illustrated literally) as a lobbyist. There's also some Peter Bjorn & John-style whistling going on here. Size of the buy: $110K.
• NC-Gov: Republican Pat McCrory has seriously let the DGA's new ad attacking his ethics get under his skin. He's had basically no luck getting TV stations to take it down, so now he says he's going to sue the groups behind it: the DGA, of course, and their North Carolina front, called NC Citizens for Progress. Good luck with that!
• WI-Gov: The DGA continues to put its muscle into the Wisconsin recall, giving another $1 million to the Greater Wisconsin Committee to support ad buys and GOTV efforts. That brings their total investment in the race to $3 million. The DNC? Still zip.
Meanwhile, Democrat Tom Barrett has a new ad out ahead of Friday's debate, in which he previews two questions he wants asked of Walker: Will he disclose emails sent between himself and those charged in the "John Doe" criminal investigation of his staff for improper political activity, and will he reveal who's contributed to his legal defense fund? Also, in the WI-LG race, Democrat Mahlon Mitchell pitches himself as a "common-sense problem solver" and also mentions that he's a firefighter.
• AZ-08: American Crossroads makes their first play in this special election with $33K in direct mail opposing Ron Barber (D). (James L)
• CA-26: EMILY's List adds another $15K to their mail campaign in support of Democrat Julia Brownley. (James L)
• CA-31: Inland Empire Taxpayers For Jobs launches another round of direct mail in support of state Sen. Bob Dutton (R), to the tune of $19K. (Dutton is hoping to sneak past the supremely well-funded GOP Rep. Gary Miller in the top-two primary here.) (James L)
• IA-03: GOP Rep. Tom Latham's first ad is a positive biographical spot, with really only one small partisan note (he voted against "the wasteful stimulus" and "for a balanced budget"). Size of the buy: "six figures" on radio and TV.
• NM-01: In her third ad, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham mostly touts newspaper endorsements she's received and also mentions that she went undercover to expose elder abuse in nursing homes when she was director of the state Agency on Aging. Meanwhile, Progressive Kick takes aim at Lujan Grisham with $24K in TV and online ads, and another $16K on canvassing in support of her chief primary rival, Eric Griego. (James L)
• SC-07: This is the second "kick the literal can down the road" ad we've seen this cycle (MT-AL's Kim Gillan had the first), but weirdly, Democrat Preston Brittain does the kicking himself. Er, kicking the can is a bad thing, so you shouldn't do it yourself! (Gillan had a guy in a suit doing it.) This spot, Brittain's first, also attacks Democratic state Rep. Ted Vick for "personally pocket[ing] thousands from government programs." (No source appears on the screen.) After Thursday's events, though (see SC-07 item in the House section above), Brittain probably won't have to bother.
• TX-04: The Campaign for Primary Accountability drops another $20K in mail to, like, totally hold GOP Rep. Ralph Hall accountable, man! (James L)
• TX-33: Wealthy self-funding Democrat David Alameel has a Spanish-language ad in which he says he wants to ban offshoring, tax corporations, and use that cash to create jobs and guarantee health care and education. Alameel himself speaks a few words in Spanish, but according to native speaker Markos Moulitsas (the "Kos" in Daily Kos), he's "clearly reading words spelled out phonetically for him to recite." Alameel's posted a whole bunch of other ads in the past few days, which you can find here.