• FL-26: This is a hell of a crazy story. Those of you following the FL-26 Democratic primary know that it features a showdown between businesswoman Gloria Romero Roses and 2010 nominee Joe Garcia. But there's a little-known third candidate in the race, hotel administrator Justin Lamar Sternad, and his presence is deeply questionable. Despite raising almost no money and being invisible on the campaign trail, Sternad has managed to flood the district with a ton of mailers (referring to himself as "Lamar!", like Tennessee's Alexander), one of which reads in part:
"Lamar is as American as Apple Pie. Lamar Sternad is the only Democratic candidate that was born and raised in the United states. He will advocate for English as our official language. Americans in Florida are being discriminated against by employers who hire illegal immigrants and take jobs away from our law-abiding citizens."That's not exactly a message you'd expect to hear in a Democratic contest where a lot of Hispanic voters will cast ballots, but it may be that Lamar is letting his sheep's clothing slip a bit. As the Miami Herald points out, the same shop that produced Lamar's flyers also did nearly six figures worth of work for GOP Rep. David Rivera last cycle. Lamar's also aimed almost all of his fire in public remarks at Garcia, even going so far as to insist he would not attack Rivera until after the primary... but in the same breath castigating Garcia as a "three-time loser" while at the very same time trying to tar Garcia as the one who's "mudslinging." That's some chutzpah. And the Herald adds:
In addition to repeating Rivera's criticisms of Garcia's divorce, Sternad also appears to be misappropriating President Obama's campaign trademark "O" for his campaign. He might also be trying to persuade unaware voters that he's black, sending out two civil rights-themed mailers that depict Obama and Martin Luther King. One mailer also features Rep. Dwight Bullard and his mother, whom he hopes to succeed, state Sen. Larcenia Bullard. They have no photos of the lilly-white Sternad, who is listing his campaign name as "Lamar Sternad" even though he goes by Justin Sternad in his business life.All of this circumstantial evidence has led Garcia's campaign to conclude that Lamar's candidacy is "little more than another dirty trick by David Rivera," aimed at sabotaging Garcia's own bid. Given what we know of Rivera, who is as shady as they come, I'd believe it. And if true, it means that Rivera fears Garcia more than he does Roses, which I'd also believe.
Meanwhile, SEIU COPE is getting behind Garcia with a week to go before the primary, airing this new ad, backed by a $72K buy (including production costs). The spot attacks Rivera for voting for the Ryan budget to end Medicare and tries to link Garcia to President Obama, who appointed Garcia to serve in the Department of Energy in 2009.
• AZ-Sen: Looks like GOP Rep. Jeff Flake has some more awkward questions to answer about his past as a lobbyist. Among the many sordid entities he supported was a uranium mine in Namibia which was part-owned by none other than the government of Iran. Flake's long claimed that he didn't know about Iran's stake in the mine until 2011, and has also said that U.S. officials weren't even aware of the situation until a 2005 Reuters report, but it seems that Democrats have him busted. It turns out that the Interior Department's U.S. Geological Survey published an entry in their "Mineral Yearbook" that described Iran as a 10% owner of the venture as far back as 1994. Try again.
• CT-Sen: Dem Sen. Richard Blumenthal sings Rep. Chris Murphy's praises in this new ad, as "the candidate who can help me break the gridlock and get results." (PPP recently found Blumenthal to be Connecticut's most popular statewide elected official.)
• MO-Sen: PPP continues its series of final-weekend GOP Senate primary polls with a survey of Missouri. They find businessman John Brunner at 35, Rep. Todd Akin at 30, and ex-state Treasurer Sarah Steelman at 25. Brunner's strength actually lies in winning over moderate and "somewhat conservative" voters—not a common recipe for winning a Republican nomination—while Akin leads with "very conservative" respondents. Tom Jensen offers a couple of interesting thoughts, both of which have some echoes with the recently TX-Sen runoff:
Despite Brunner's modest lead there are a couple of reasons to think an upset is possible on Tuesday night. One is that Akin leads Brunner 35-33 among voters who say they're "very excited" about casting their ballots on Tuesday. Brunner's overall advantage is based on a 37-31 advantage over Akin with "somewhat excited" voters and a 36-21 lead with those who say they're "not that excited." If we count only the "very" and "somewhat" excited voters Brunner's lead over Akin shrinks to only two points.PPP also has numbers for the MO-Gov, MO-LG, and MO-AG Republican contests at the link. Dave Spence looks like a lock for the gubernatorial nod, while the embarrassing Peter Kinder seems as though he'll win renomination with a plurality. And Ed Martin (whom you'll remember from various other races this cycle and last) is cruising in the AG race.
The other reason an upset seems possible is that Akin appears to have the momentum in the closing stretch. It's been more than two months since PPP last polled this race but compared to a Mason Dixon poll a week ago Akin's up 13 points while Brunner's gained only two points and Steelman's actually dropped by a couple. If that trend continues right on through election day Akin might be able to pull out a narrow victory.
• ND-Sen: I found this new ad from Dem Heidi Heitkamp pretty touching, I've gotta say. She tells us about a veteran named Charlie Weichel, who volunteers to drive other veterans to distant medical appointments, putting in 14-hour days three times a week. Heitkamp promises to "fight for a Heroes Health card" so that veterans "can see a doctor closer to home." She closes by dedicating the ad to "heroes like Charlie." Seriously, I must have some dust in the corner of my eye that's causing me to tear up.
• VA-, ND-, WI-Sen: The pro-Dem Majority PAC has re-upped their ad buys against George Allen in Virginia to the tune of $85K. There's also a strangely tiny re-up (less than $10K) against Eric Hovde & Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin. More intriguing are some production costs for a new spot hitting Rick Berg in North Dakota, so be on the lookout for that ad soon.
• WI-Sen: There's nothing like seeing an entitled ultra-1%er flail at the injustice (oh, the injustice!) being done to him. Uber-wealthy businessman Eric Hovde is now threatening legal action over new ads being run by third-party group Americans for Job Security, which say that a company tied to Hovde accepted federal stimulus money, something that makes Hovde hopping mad. Interestingly, Hovde has accused AJS of shilling for ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson, though the framing of one of the spots (since removed from YouTube) questioned Hovde's conservative credentials, which seemed like more of an appeal to potential voters for ex-Rep. Mark Neumann.
Meanwhile, the Club for Growth's expected IE report is also now available; they're spending $441K to sandblast Hovde in the final week before primary day. Combined with AJS's $650K, that's nearly $1.1 million in last-minute attack ads being dumped on the rich guy—a taste of his own free-spending medicine.
• NH-Gov: Maggie Hassan just became the first Democratic gubernatorial candidate in New Hampshire to go up on TV. One spot is mostly introductory in nature and focuses on Hassan's support for education. The other is a bit more partisan: Hassan discusses her efforts to prevent insurers from dropping coverage for birth control.
• PA-Gov: Wealthy Democrat Tom Knox, who ran for governor in 2010 before dropping out and endorsing Dan Onorato, says he plans to make a statehouse bid once again in 2014. Knox would have the ability to self-fund, but his ability to appeal to voters (he's also unsuccessfully run for mayor of Philadelphia) seems like less of a sure thing.
• WA-Gov: If you were concerned that the Elway Poll from the other week—the first of the race to give a substantial (43-36) lead to Jay Inslee—was some sort of fluke, you can rest a little easier. SurveyUSA, the most frequent pollster of the race, finds a similar pro-Inslee trend in their newest poll (on behalf of KING-TV). The lead isn't as big (48-45, in Inslee's favor) as with Elway, but it puts Inslee closer to the 50% mark. The big problem for Republican Rob McKenna: He's below 40% in the entire "Puget Sound area," a position from which a Republican simply can't win statewide; he'd need to hit 40% in King County alone, plus draw even in Pierce and Snohomish Counties.
If you're wondering what's behind this reversal of fortune, one factor seems to be that the candidates finally started TV advertising, which served to remind a lot of casual but reliable Dems that there's a gubernatorial election and who their candidate is. With their intro spots behind them, they're both moving on to the inevitable jobs-themed ads now, and McKenna just rolled his second ad out late last week. (David Jarman)
• AZ-09: $14K more in mailers from EMILY for Kyrsten Sinema. Arizona's primary is still a few weeks off, Aug. 28.
• CT-05: I'd have to call this unexpected: Elizabeth Esty is out with a new negative ad in the Democratic primary... but she's attacking Dan Roberti, not Chris Donovan, as you might have anticipated. The spot is quite harsh, going after Roberti for his work as a lobbyist and the fact that a super PAC with ties to his also-a-lobbyist dad has been spending heavily on his behalf. Meanwhile, Roberti just contributed another $200K to his own effort, bringing him to some $830K in self-funding total. Does this mean he has a chance to win?
Meanwhile, Donovan has a new spot out in which he directly takes on Esty himself, an interesting and unusual choice. Donovan notes that he served in the legislature with Esty (and "respect[s] her greatly"), but says "there are real differences between us." Donovan goes directly at Esty's now-infamous 2009 alternate budget, saying that when the state faced tough times, she "refused to ask the wealthy to pay their fair share, and instead supported a Republican-like budget that cut education and cut services for seniors." Donovan of course contrasts that with his own budget, which did carry the day and avoided big cuts.
• FL-07: Rep. Sandy Adams has a new ad out attacking her GOP primary rival, fellow Rep. John Mica, which repeatedly features a clip of President Obama saying in reference a new transportation bill: "Congressman Mica, whose leadership made this bill a reality." Mica is steamed because at the end of the spot, Adams uses a (basically inaudible) clip of Mica telling Obama "I'm your best cheerleader" after the president's 2011 State of the Union address. The problem, says Mica's campaign, is that members are prohibited from using footage of House proceedings "for any political purpose," and they want the spot removed. That's not going to happen, though (TV stations are required to air candidates' ads regardless of content), and with the House out of session, the Ethics Committee can't even offer a reprimand.
• FL-18: Pro-Dem super PAC American Sunrise is spending $38K to air a new TV ad on behalf of Patrick Murphy. It's a very generic positive spot, but it may help to increase Murphy's name rec. It would help if the buy were (considerably) bigger, though.
• FL-22: It's rare to see national Democrats rally around a candidate in a contested primary so openly, but rally they have. Nancy Pelosi is the latest to make a point of backing Lois Frankel over Kristin Jacobs, stumping and raising money for her in South Florida. Pelosi also held one of those "I swear it's not political" Medicare forums with Frankel as well. Meanwhile, some random new super PAC called "South Floridians for Effective Leadership" is trying to swoop in to help Jacobs at the last moment, but seeing as their first spending report details just $13K for mailers, I doubt that's going to make much of a difference.
• HI-02: This is pretty wild: With Hawaii's primaries coming up on Saturday (yep, Saturday—mark your calendars), Civil Beat hired Merriman River to conduct one final poll of the Democratic contest in HI-02. The numbers, if they can be believed, are pretty amazing: Honolulu city councilor Tulsi Gabbard is now beating former Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann 49-29; a couple of months ago, the same outfit found pretty much a dead heat. And prior to that, Hannemann held enormous leads of his own.
But there are reasons to remain skeptical, not least among them Merriman's shoddy track record last cycle. A week ago, a Ward Research poll put Hannemann up 43-33. And even Gabbard's own recent internal polling was nowhere near this gaudy, giving her a five-point edge. Still, I think the momentum and advantage is now with Gabbard, and as I've said before, if she pulls this off, it would be one of the biggest upsets of the cycle.
Meanwhile, the Sierra Club is leaving nothing to chance and is airing $51K worth of radio ads for Tulsi. You can listen here; the spot both attacks Hannemann on environmental grounds and praises Gabbard on the same front.
• IL-02: I don't know that this makes Dem Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s situation any less opaque, but his wife just conducted an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times and says he's being treated for depression , not substance abuse, and repeats that he did not attempt suicide. She also describes a very unclear "collapse" on Jackson's part and says that Jackson's family has been imposing a "news blackout" on him since June 10.
• IL-08: The New Prosperity Foundation, a right-wing super PAC whose name reminds me of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, launched a round of attack ads at Illinois Democrats a little while ago—a series of TV ads which were actually backed by very little money. Their new move doesn't pack a whole lot more oomph: They're spending $29K on mailers going after Tammy Duckworth.
• MO-01: In the first and undoubtedly last public poll of the MO-01 Democratic primary, SurveyUSA (on behalf of KSDK-TV) finds Rep. Lacy Clay handily beating fellow Rep. Russ Carnahan, 56-35. Many figured this contest would come down to a question of race, and indeed that seems to be the case/ Looking at the crosstabs, Clay is doing far better among blacks, winning them 81-12, than Carnahan is with whites (he's up just 65-23 with that group). And given that, in SUSA's view, blacks will make up 53% of the electorate vs. just 42% for whites, that's curtains for Carnahan.
• MI-13, MI-14: EPIC-MRA has a couple of last-second polls for two of Tuesday's Democratic primaries in Michigan. In MI-13, they find Rep. John Conyers crushing his nearest opponent, state Sen. Glenn Anderson, by a 57-17 margin. (It may be best to view this race as an opportunity for Conyers' challengers to position themselves for his retirement.) Meanwhile, in MI-14, they show what you'd expect: Rep. Gary Peters is beating Rep. Hansen Clarke, though his 52-33 edge is even more dominant than what I'd have anticipated.
• MN-08: Another $16K on mailers from EMILY to help Dem Tarryl Clark.
• VA-02: Democrat Paul Hirschbiel is out with his first ad, a positive spot in which a teacher praises him for being "instrumental in setting up early childhood education programs like this one" and says that he "gave up a career in business to help kids instead." Hirschbiel, the founder of a private equity firm, is nevertheless reportedly quite wealthy—as is the man he's trying to unseat, GOP freshman Scott Rigell, who spent a monster $2.5 million on his own race last cycle. Hirschbiel hasn't done any notable self-funding yet, though, and his fundraising has been pretty decent. And speaking of money, the Washington Post actually has the size of the buy: $70K for a week on broadcast TV.
• Ads: AFSCME and Americans United for Change are teaming up on a new $280K ad campaign targeting five Republicans on taxes: Sen. Dean Heller (NV-Sen), Rep. Denny Rehberg (MT-Sen), Rep. Jim Renacci (OH-16), Rep. Steve King (IA-04), and Rep. Dan Lungren (CA-03). The ads are all identical (just swapping in the right name), with an announcer attacking Republicans for "trying to tip the scales even more for big corporations and the richest 2 percent." There's a national spot airing on cable news channels as well; you can find all of them at the link.
• Cities: If you pay attention to the Census Bureau's lists of the nation's most populous cities, you've probably noticed that Sun Belt cities like Phoenix, Austin, San Antonio, Jacksonville, Nashville, and Oklahoma City are some of the fastest growing. That's only part of the context, though: The Census is out with an interesting new graphic that shows that these cities aren't really becoming any more distinctly "urban" (they aren't getting any denser), because the population growth is coming through constant annexation outwards, not building up, and their density has stayed flat over the decades. There's only a handful of cities that are boxed in by suburbs and can't annex anything more, but are still growing anyway, thanks to growing upward instead of out, and those tend to be the increasingly blue strongholds in the west (Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, Denver, and, despite the fact that it's not boxed in, Las Vegas). (David Jarman)
• Polltopia: This New York Times article summarizing the debate over how to (and even whether to) poll cellphone-only users may not hold too many surprises for dedicated pollwatchers, but it does contain some interesting anecdotes about which pollsters use which approaches. For instance, ABC/WaPo and NBC/WSJ will terminate a call with a cellphone user if he also has a landline, while Pew, CBS/NYT, and Gallup will still continue the call and then use weighting to achieve the right cellphone/landline balance. Meanwhile, Rasmussen is starting to experiment with internet-based surveys as a means of reaching younger voters to supplement their all-landline autodialing. (David Jarman)
• Radio: In case you missed it, I was on Daily Kos Radio with David Waldman on Friday morning, talking about a bunch of different recent and upcoming races, including TX-Sen and MI-11. If you'd like to listen to my segment, you can do so here:
• WATN?: Uh, say what now? NRSC chair Pete Sessions just married crazy snake lady Karen Diebel? Apparently so!