• WA-01: In the end, attempts by local Democrats to keep candidates running in the race for the full WA-01 term out of the same-day special election did not succeed. On Friday, the candidate filing deadline, Darcy Burner announced that she'd also run for the unexpired two-month term created by ex-Rep. Jay Inslee's resignation earlier this year. That apparently prompted most of the other big names competing for the full term to do the same: Suzan DelBene, Laura Ruderman, and Darshan Rauniyar all filed for the special as well, as did Republican John Koster.
This turn of events foiled the plans of state party chair Dwight Pelz, who ostensibly sought to keep Democrats from taking their eyes off the real prize—the election for the full term. To that end, he convinced DelBene, Rauniyar, and another candidate, Steve Hobbs, to stand aside and allow a placeholder, Snohomish County Council Chairman Brian Sullivan, to run in the special. (Some reports also said that Ruderman was a party to this agreement, but her campaign later claimed there was never any deal.) Pelz's stated goal was to keep the Dem field focused on beating Koster in the race that really matters.
But Burner had other plans, ultimately saying: "I understand that Dwight wanted the decision to be made in a cigar smoke-filled room. I disagree—I think voters should get to decide." But why do this, you're surely asking? At most the winner gets to participate in a month-long lame duck session of Congress, and for the privilege, you have to run in the old version of WA-01, whose borders were dramatically altered during the redistricting process earlier this year.
Indeed, to get a sense of just how different the seats are, check out the maps below. Most notably, the scales are completely different: The old 1st was a compact district in suburban Seattle. The new edition (in purple, on the right side) is a behemoth that stretches from the Seattle outskirts to the Canadian border. Only about half of the constituents remain the same between the two:
The one holdout was, as I mentioned, Hobbs, who put out a press release hammering the other candidates for trying to "dodge federal campaign contribution laws." It's not clear why Hobbs didn't follow the herd, though perhaps he thinks he's got a good angle with voters by avoiding what he called "financial trickery and shifty politics."
Pelz, the party chair, also issued a statement taking the very unusual step of directly criticizing a Democratic candidate. Said Pelz: "I am very disappointed that Darcy Burner chose to put her own perceived self-interest ahead of that of the public by breaking ranks and filing in both races." Sullivan, the would-be caretaker, piled on, too, and added that he's thinking about withdrawing. (NB: Sullivan had previously endorsed DelBene.) If Burner wins the nomination, boy is that going to make the unity rally awkward.
• FL-Sen: Pretty amazing: Ex-Rep. Dave Weldon has in fact decided to pursue the GOP nomination for Senate, a move he first publicly mooted just a week ago. Weldon has to be figuring that Republican discontent with frontrunner Connie Mack will translate into support for his bid, though he's in the rather bizarre position of trying to save the GOP from its one-time savior.
But man is he getting in awfully late. He has just three months until the primary, and then should he prevail, it's another three-month sprint to the general election, where he'll face a chortling Sen. Bill Nelson. I have to ask, though: Has anyone who got into a Senate race in May of an election year ever beaten an incumbent? Certainly it has to be a very rare feat at best.
• OH-Gov: Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, whose name often comes up when the Great Mentioner wants to discuss potential statewide candidates in Ohio, says he's thinking about running against GOP Gov. John Kasich in 2014, but won't decide until next year. Other prominent Democrats who may get in include ex-Gov. Ted Strickland, ex-state AG Richard Cordray, and Rep. Tim Ryan.
• VA-Gov: Democratic state Sen. Chap Petersen, who had offered hints he might make a bid for governor next year for some time, has decided he won't run after all.
• CA-10: This story is mostly a string of anecdotes and lacks any hard data, but the Modesto Bee managed to get a local poli sci prof and a Democratic consultant to both make the case that Chad Condit, son of disgraced former Rep. Gary Condit, could sneak into the November election with a second-place showing in the top-two primary. Unlike his father, who served as a Democrat, the younger Condit is running as an independent and reportedly has been hustling hard on the retail level, to make up for his negligible fundraising (just $17K in the first quarter).
Condit's hoping to face freshman GOPer Jeff Denham in the fall, but first he'd have to get past astronaut Jose Hernandez, a strong Democratic recruit who has raised well. I'm not exactly ready to buy the notion that Condit is capable of pulling this off, but the linked article does raise some red flags about Hernandez's campaign. In particular, Hernandez has reportedly skipped candidate forums, which is pretty remarkable given that challengers almost always want the chance to debate. He also apparently hasn't walked precincts. One Republican consultant, however, suggests that Hernandez would only be taking this approach and "conserving his nickels" if he had polling which showed Condit had no chance. Let's hope that's the case.
• CA-15: Barack Obama's formally endorsed a few House incumbents this cycle, but I think you can say that this is the first race he's gotten involved in that has any controversy surrounding it. It's not too surprising that the POTUS is backing Rep. Pete Stark—after all, he is a sitting congressman—but Stark's unhinged behavior (including accusing his primary opponent, Dublin city councilor Eric Swalwell, of accepting bribes from developers) has upset a lot of local Democrats, who are ready for some fresh blood.
Of course, there's also a question of just how much Obama will do for Stark; so far, all we're talking about is a press release. And notably, the president specifically asks supporters to vote for Stark in the June top-two primary. But Stark and Swalwell will almost certainly face off again in November in what will be the real fight for this seat. So we'll see if Obama is willing to stick his neck out for Stark a second time when autumn comes around.
• FL-18: What a joke: Republican Bob Crowder put out a press release claiming he has an internal poll from Florida Opinion Research showing him beating Democrat Patrick Murphy "by 20 points" in the general election. No other details, not even proper toplines. Oh, and who the hell is Bob Crowder, by the way? He's the Martin County sheriff who is running against Rep. Allen West... from the left. So it's more than telling that he didn't bother providing any numbers from the primary. Like I said, ridiculous.
• ND-AL: Well, that whack-ass North Dakota poll from the Fargo Forum (via Essman/Research) is proving itself to be even more whack-ass than first thought. If you're just now getting up to speed, you'll want to check out our critique of the Senate numbers released on Thursday. Suffice it to say that all those criticisms apply to the House portion that just came out on Friday, but the numbers themselves are deeply weird.
The poll has Republican Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer beating Democratic ex-state Rep. Pam Gulleson by a monster 61-23, which is already eyebrow-raising—that kind of blowout seems too extreme. But here's where things really go off the rails: Cramer's GOP primary opponent, fellow PSC commish Brian Kalk, "only" leads Gulleson by a 48-31 margin. How is that even possible? It's not like either man has real name rec (though the poll didn't bother asking)—what normal voter is familiar with members of the PSC? Yet we're to believe that one PSC member has a 38-point lead and the other just 17? And that Cramer has such massive cross-over appeal he knocks Gulleson's share down nine points all on his own? Why would that be? I can't think of any plausible reason.
For what it's worth, Cramer is beating Kalk 38-25 in the GOP primary (with the rest undecided). If Cramer prevails, that would be a big upset, since Kalk is the official Republican nominee (so designated at the party's convention), whereas Cramer is an upstart who insisted on forcing a primary—something that's very uncommon in North Dakota politics. But all of these Essman numbers are suspect, so I wouldn't rely much on anything you see here.
• NY-13: According to the New York Post, Bill Clinton won't endorse Rep. Charlie Rangel this time around, even though he was a big Rangel backer in 2010. Why? Because Clyde Williams, who is running against Rangel, was an aide in the Clinton administration and also used to work at the Clinton Foundation, so the Big Dog won't take sides this year.
• SC-07: To go along with their survey of the Republican field, SCNOW.com has a poll of the Democratic primary as well (courtesy Francis Marion University). The state of play is very unsettled, though: They find state Rep. Ted Vick leading with just 15%... and absolute weirdo Gloria Tinubu at 9. Remember, Tinubu is the flakey former Georgia state representative who resigned her post to run for this seat in South Carolina! Meanwhile, attorney Preston Brittain, who raised the most cash in the first quarter of the year, is back at 6, and two other candidates are at 3 apiece. A runoff (which would happen if no one receives 50%) definitely seems possible.
• TX-23: When piecing together each Daily Digest, we go through a lot of cruft. Here's an example of something that can be filed under "Things we don't waste your time with":
The League of Conservation Voters just dropped $12.61 on manhours to pound out a devastating press release tarring ex-Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D) as a friend of big polluters.On a more serious note, on top of the nearly $100K direct mail campaign against Rodriguez that the LCV announced yesterday, they also filed a $28K expenditure paid to Anzalone Liszt Research for a poll of the Democratic primary. I doubt its results will ever see the light of day, but know that somewhere, such a poll exists! (James L)
• Texas: Pre-primary reports were due at the FEC on Thursday night in Texas, covering all fundraising between April 1 and May 9 of this year. We've rounded them all up at the link, so if you don't see a particular candidate there, it means they screwed up their filing or failed to file at all (something that happens surprisingly often when it comes to pre-primary reports, we've found).
• MO-Sen: Majority PAC, the super PAC of choice for Senate Democrats, is putting $228K behind a new ad buy boosting Claire McCaskill. The ad defends McCaskill from the "corporate special interests" who want to "ship our jobs overseas." (James L)
• MT-Sen: Patriot Majority USA, a Dem-aligned super PAC, is putting $185K behind a new broadcast buy against Republican Denny Rehberg. It doesn't look like Patriot Majority has made this ad available for viewing online yet. (James L)
• NE-Sen: Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS is out with a new ad that roasts Bob Kerrey for supporting TARP while serving on the board of an insurance company which applied for bailout funds. (James L)
• TX-Sen: The Texas Conservatives Fund is pumping in another $210K in ad buys against Republican Ted Cruz. (James L)
• NC-Gov: The DGA unleashes its first attack ad of the gubernatorial race—a sign that they are most definitely not giving up here. The spot goes after Republican Pat McCrory for accepting $140K from a commercial lender to sit on their board while he was mayor of Charlotte—and then lobbied to give the company tax breaks. Size of the buy: $217K.
• VT-Gov: Republican State Sen. Randy Brock, facing a very uphill fight against first-term Dem Gov. Peter Shumlin, is out with his first ad, a positive intro spot (he had great parents, created lots of jobs, blah blah etc. etc.).
• WI-Gov: The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters tries to break through the usual ad clutter with an exuberant dude in a tie dancing down an office corridor. You see, he's pumped up because he's a big corporate CEO who's psyched about everything Scott Walker's done to make his life so much better, like cut taxes on the wealthy.
• AZ-08: It feels like it's 2010 again: Republican Jesse Kelly attacks Ron Barber for supporting cap-and-trade legislation, which of course would spell the end of the world, in the GOP worldview. Meanwhile, the NRCC has placed another ad buy, worth $140K, against Barber, while the House Majority PAC has matched that amount with a $108K buy of their own. (That buy represents week two of their three-week ad campaign which aims to expose Kelly as an anti-Social Security teabagger.) (David Nir & James L)
• CA-26: There's a whole lot of money flying around here in support of Democrat Julia Brownley. The House Majority PAC has placed another $54K in pro-Brownley ad buys, while sending out another $22K in direct mail hitting Independent Linda "Rocky Road" Parks. Meanwhile, the California League of Conservation Voters has sent out $92K in direct mail on Brownley's behalf. (The national LCV appears to have indirectly funded this effort with a $100K transfer to their state branch.) (James L)
• CO-03: A group calling itself the "Clean Water Fund" is up with a $100K ad buy criticizing GOP Rep. Scott Tipton on his votes in favor of tax cuts for oil companies. You can watch the ad at the link. (Maybe it's just me, but I think that the ad takes a little too long to get to its point.) (James L)
• KY-04: Liberty For All (21 year-old college Republican John Ramsey's super PAC of choice) is changing up its ad rotation, now going negative on Republicans Gary Moore and Alecia Webb-Edgington. The ad hits Moore for using taxpayer dollars to feed himself while in Hawaii, while criticizing Webb-Edgington for missing votes in the state House in order to attend fundraisers in DC. Moore's response made me chuckle:
"A misguided 21-year-old kid drives all the way from Texas and throws half a million dollars to attack Gary Moore for a couple breakfasts and lunch reimbursements. This is not Little Rascals with Alfalfa and Darla chasing around the gang, this is a congressional race," said Jonathan Duke, Moore's campaign manager.Meanwhile, Liberty For All is putting $19K into radio ads boosting their candidate of choice, Thomas Massie, and a new group called the Citizens for a Working America PAC is putting in $53K in direct mail supporting Webb-Edgington. (James L)
• TX-16: The Campaign for Primary Accountability has upped its ad buy against Dem Rep. Silvestre Reyes by $45K. So far, they've spent $95K on this race. (James L)
• TX-25: CATPAC has placed another $19K media buy in support of Republican Michael Williams. (James L)
• San Diego Mayor: An amusing new "independent" super PAC called "icPurple" is launching an ad on behalf of Republican-turned-indy Nathan Fletcher, featuring a bunch of kids mixing red and blue paint together and turning their treehouse purple. They also say they're endorsing several other independents, including Linda Parks (CA-26), Chad Condit (CA-10), and Angus King (ME-Sen). On their site, they also have identical versions of that ad with those annoying kids with these other candidates' names subbed in, but they apparently aren't on the air, since their independent expenditure report only lists "online video production costs." (Amazingly, it appears they spent almost $100K just to produce this spot!)
And who's responsible for this group? Like most super PACs, the founders are trying to hide in shadows—there's not a single name listed on the website. But Matt Potter at the San Diego Reader does some good digging and concludes that billionaire Ted Waitt, the founder of one-time computer giant Gateway, appears to be behind the organization.