• NY-11: Whether you've been following the saga of Republican freshman Mike Grimm closely, or whether you only have a vague sense of the details of the fundraising scandal he's caught up in, I strongly encourage you to click through and read this AP story in its entirety. The article not only digs into some details which I don't believe have come to light previously, but it also places all the key players into context and gives the best summation of the entire sordid affair I've yet seen.
On the "new stuff" front, it turns out that several major Grimm contributors (including some who may have given more than the legal limit) are in the porn distribution business—and, weirdly, these people all got hooked in with Grimm because of their association with Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto. Strange company, right? Pinto, if you aren't familiar with him, is the guy who says he and his congregants were coerced into donating by Grimm and ripped off by the aide who facilitated the connection, the recently-arrested Ofer Biton.
But it turns out that Pinto himself (who, according to reports, has been interviewed many times by the FBI) is hardly some naïve, humble rabbi who let himself get taken advantage of by a once-trusted employee. In fact, Pinto (who divides his time between the US and Israel) was recently rated by Forbes as Israel's seventh-richest rabbi and has been linked to or accused of other sketchy business dealings himself. Again, though, you're going to want to read the full thing.
• FL-Sen: PPP's new Florida poll, conducted just after the Republican National Convention wrapped up, shows Dem Sen. Bill Nelson improving his standing for re-election. He now leads GOP Rep. Connie Mack 45-38, a considerably wider spread than his narrow 45-43 edge in late July. As always, Nelson's job approvals are pretty mediocre (35-42), but Mack's favorables now suck more than ever (27-45, down from 25-35), and he hasn't even borne the full brunt of the Democratic attack machine yet. Interestingly, the same sample put Obama up over Romney 48-47, same as PPP's last poll, so not only was there no convention bounce, it looks like the negative ads against Mack have started working.
• MI-Sen: PPP's first likely voter poll of Michigan has Dem Sen. Debbie Stabenow leading GOPer Pete Hoekstra by a 50-41 margin, somewhat tighter than their last poll in July, which had the incumbent up 52-38 using a registered voter model. Still, those are good numbers for Stabenow and they're also in line with what other firms have been saying lately (as long as those firms are not named Mitchell Research or FMWB). PPP also saw Obama's margin get halved, falling to 51-44 from 53-39.
In addition, there are fresh numbers on three Michigan ballot measures, though they are little changed from PPP's prior survey (click through for the numbers). The generic legislative ballot has also gotten closer, with Democrats' earlier 45-37 lead shrinking to 45-41. Also, Dem Sen. Carl Levin, who is up for re-election in 2014, beats Generic R 51-40, while GOP Gov. Rick Snyder edges Generic D 46-41.
• VA-Sen: Is George Allen in a spot of trouble? The Republican Senate hopeful cancelled an ad buy planned for this week, with a campaign spokesman scrambling to explain that there are "constant adjustments being made to our ad schedule." This reminds me of something I know I've mentioned before: the German radio broadcasts my father would listen to in occupied Poland toward the end of the war, which would always claim troops were engaged in "strategic redeployments"—code for "retreat." Democrats seem to have the more plausible explanation, namely that Allen's weaker fundraising is forcing him to go dark for two weeks. Meanwhile, Tim Kaine has been on the air continuously.
• CT-Sen: Republican Linda McMahon goes after the automatic defense "sequestration" that was part of last year's debt ceiling negotiations, claiming the cuts would hurt Connecticut jobs and blaming Chris Murphy.
• ME-Sen: Republican Charlie Summers introduces himself in his first ad, with the narrator talking about his efforts to help small businesses and "prevent texting while driving." Note the clip at about 16 seconds in actually appears to show someone texting while driving. The only real partisan note is that Summers promises to "repeal Obamacare."
• MT-Sen: Republican Denny Rehberg uses a pair of goofy-sounding twins who can't stop bobbing their heads to recite a list of supposed likenesses between Dem Sen. Jon Tester and Barack Obama. "They may not be twins, but they might as well be!" Guffaw. Meanwhile, AFSCME hammers Rehberg for supporting Social Security privatization, an issue that hasn't come up a lot in campaign ads this year. And finally, it looks like the DSCC may have a new anti-Rehberg ad coming down the pike, backed by a $170K buy (either that or it's a re-up of an existing ad run).
• ND-Sen: Majority PAC compares Republican Rick Berg to an obedient dog, saying he's on a "short leash" with GOP elders and does whatever they tell him to. Cute pooch.
• NJ-Sen: Joe Kyrillos's wife says he's a "different kind of Republican" because he "fought to preserve our beaches and environment" and cares about victims of domestic violence.
• NV-Sen: Republican Dean Heller has three new ads. The first attacks Shelley Berkley for voting to cut "$1 trillion" from Medicare, which is the highest figure I've ever seen phonied up. The second is very similar and adds some "rationing" lies. It also features extremely wooden actors who sound like they recorded the spot inside a cavern. The third, meanwhile, revisits Berkley's alleged ethical issues, though it studiously avoids mentioning the crucial underpinnings (her efforts to save the state's lone kidney transplant center, which Heller supported).
• OH-Sen: Dem Sen. Sherrod Brown touts his work on legislation that levels sanctions against China for unfair trade practices, mostly using news clips. Meanwhile, Republican Josh Mandel gets a couple of guys who served with him in the military to praise him, with one even saying Mandel is "not a politician." Amusing, since Mandel has held elective office since 2003—and at just 34, that constitutes the vast majority of his adult life.
• FL-Gov: With Charlie Crist's conversion to the Democratic Party almost complete, PPP tested him against GOP Gov. Rick Scott once again, finding Crist up 45-42. That's the same as Generic D, which isn't too surprising seeing as Crist has now lost much of his crossover appeal: A little over a month ago, his favorability rating with Republicans was 34-39; now it's 24-60. Despite that drop, Crist's head-to-heads with Scott are basically unchanged from late July, when he led 44-41.
The generic congressional ballot is also still tight, with Democrats up 44-43. The last time PPP asked this question, back in June, Dems held a similar 46-44 edge. Obviously individual district lines and candidate quality tend to play bigger roles in terms of who gets elected to the House, but seeing as Dems hold just six out of Florida's 25 current congressional seats (not counting the state's two new districts), numbers like these are positive for Team Blue.
Meanwhile, the Republican Party of Florida is also doing their best to poison Crist among Democrats, airing this new ad on MSNBC that features a host of clips of Crist talking favorably about other Republicans like Bush and calling himself "about as conservative as you can get." I suspect there's very little money behind this buy, though.
• NC-Gov: Two of the three presidential polls of North Carolina that popped up on Monday have gubernatorial portions, one bad for Dem Walter Dalton and one even worse. The PPP sample that found the state tied at the presidential level gives GOPer Pat McCrory a 6-point lead, 45-39, with Libertarian Barbara Howe pulling in 5. McCrory is getting propped up with a fair amount of crossover vote (19% of the Dems), but Dalton's best hope here is that the large part of the undecideds skew Democratic (60% are Dems, 18% are Republicans). PPP also finds narrow leads for three Dems in downballot statewide races and on the generic legislative ballot.
The Elon University poll (PDF), on behalf of the Charlotte Observer, finds an even wider spread for McCrory: 52 to 37. This sample, which gave Mitt Romney a 47-43 lead atop the ticket, has drawn some heat for being overly white, but even making an adjustment for that isn't going to put Dalton into winning position. (The third NC poll that came out Monday, from SurveyUSA (PDF), didn't include gov numbers.)
Meanwhile, McCrory's newest TV spot features a pair of regular folks talking about the economy, with one complaining that more than 400,000 North Carolinians are "out of work right now." Her lunch companion uncharmingly responds: "That's more than the populations of Asheville, Shelby, Burlington, Chapel Hill, Jacksonville, and Wilmington combined." I half-expected him to follow up with "Wednesday is fish sticks," but instead he says, "Pass the barbecue sauce." For real. (David Jarman & David Nir)
• CO-07: So what's going in on Colorado's 7th? The House Majority PAC just announced that it's spending a hefty $500K on a two-week ad buy attacking Republican Joe Coors for supporting a so-called "personhood" amendment to the state's constitution. (I'm not sure I was supposed to snort with laughter when the narrator, using a clip from an earlier Coors spot where he explained he was "not a beer" intones: "But his views on women? More like a big old can of Extreme!") But I'm surprised to see an outside group spending so much on Dem Rep. Ed Perlmutter's behalf so early, given that Obama won this seat by 16 points, and Perlmutter defeated a highly-touted challenger last cycle by a 53-42 spread.
Coors did release a poll last month that had him up 45-36 over the incumbent, but aside from impossible-to-believe polls, what he does have is a ton of money. Thanks to his personal wealth, he's already spent a monster $700K on TV time and has another $1.8 million reserved, according to Scott Bland at The Hotline. Bland also reports that "[p]rivate Democratic polling doesn't show that dire a situation for Perlmutter, but the race is competitive." So this is probably a situation where HMP is looking to shore up Perlmutter early by driving up Coors's negatives, rather than some kind of red alert.
Coors, incidentally, is out with his third ad, in which he tries to prove he's not like the rest of this party because he bets "you don't know many Republicans who drive hybrid cars."
• MD-06: Looks like GOP Rep. Roscoe Bartlett just channeled the spirit of Todd Akin:
"Oh, life of the mother—exception of life of the mother, rape and incest. Yeah, I've always—that's a mantra, you know, I've said it so often it just spills out," he said. "If you really—there are very few pregnancies as a result of rape, fortunately, and incest—compared to the usual abortion, what is the percentage of abortions for rape? It is tiny. It is a tiny, tiny percentage."• Ads:
• CO-06: As a narrator describes Republican Mike Coffman's military service record, Coffman says he learned to "always love your country."
• FL-18: Democrat Patrick Murphy introduces himself as an accountant: "I know what you're thinking: accounting—boring, right? Well, maybe Washington needs a little more boring right now." That's an obvious contrast with his opponent, the incendiary Allen West.
• GA-12: Rep. John Barrow tries as hard as he can to distance himself from the Democratic Party, more strenuously than I've seen anyone else attempt so far this cycle. The narrator says Barrow opposed Obamacare and has voted with Eric Cantor 54% of the time.
• IA-02: Dem Rep. Bruce Braley discusses his father's participation in the Battle of Iwo Jima, then the narrator segues into Braley's efforts to help veterans find jobs.
• IA-03: Dem Rep. Leonard Boswell hits GOP Rep. Tom Latham for opposing the bailout but for benefitting from a $2.4 million loan that his family-owned bank received from TARP. Meanwhile, Patriot Majority USA links Latham to Republican plans to end Medicare and give tax breaks to millionaires.
• IA-04: Have to admit I cringed watching Democrat Christie Vilsack compare the seven-layer salads she brings to potlucks with creating "layers of economic opportunity to rebuild our middle class." Gotta remind myself that I'm not the target audience for this ad.
• IL-10: In his first ad, Democrat Brad Schneider promises that he's a "no nonsense" kind of guy who will help stop the "bickering" and "gridlock" in Washington.
• IL-17: In his first spot of the cycle, GOP freshman Bobby Schilling demonstrates why minute-long ads usually aren't a good idea, meandering from a discussion about building a pizza place with his dad to a long discourse on jobs.
• KY-06: On behalf of Dem Rep. Ben Chandler, a pretty authentic-sounding Republican constituent lambastes GOPer Andy Barr for trying to "change the rules in the middle of the game" by supporting the Ryan plan.
• MI-01: Accompanied by some good farmland visuals, Democrat Gary McDowell criticizes both parties and says "Washington could learn a thing or two from a hay farmer" like himself.
• NE-02: GOP Rep. Lee Terry goes compare-and-contrast, touting his supposed efforts to cut spending and attacking Democrat John Ewing for supporting the Affordable Care Act. I find it interesting that Terry's attacking Ewing at all, which suggests the race might be more competitive than many think.
• NM-01: Republican Janice Arnold-Jones has a pair of new ads. In the first, she does the basic introductory bio stuff. In the second, she goes as anodyne as possible with stock footage and empty sloganeering.
• NJ-03: Democrat Shelley Adler wonders why Washington can't be more like her household, where she "had to do it all, and on a budget" as a mom of four boys.
• NY-01: Dem Rep. Tim Bishop pushes directly back at Randy Altschuler, calling him out by name as "despicable" for saying Bishop "is a criminal," a reference to this ad. Bishop addresses the camera directly, saying that he's helped "thousands of constituents." His delivery is solid.
• NY-21: Dem Rep. Bill Owens says he has "no words" for "stupid regulations" that affect farmers, like EPA dust rules.
• NY-24: Dan Maffei hammers GOP Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle with a clip of her saying she wants to "abolish" the Department of Education.
• NY-27: Dem Rep. Kathy Hochul touts her support for a balanced budget amendment, taking pains to point out that President Obama opposes the idea.
• OH-07: Democrat Joyce Healy-Abrams goes on the air with her first ad, a biographical spot, touting her business credentials.
• PA-06: In his first ad, Democrat Manan Trivedi contrasts his service as a military surgeon in Iraq with GOP Rep. Jim Gerlach's "two taxpayer-funded pensions" which he allegedly voted to increase "by 50%."
• PA-12: Republican Keith Rothfus goes the "faux melodramatic announcer" route, criticizing Obama for playing "over 100 rounds of golf" while Rothfus "has played one round... of miniature golf!" Some generic attacks (debt, big government, etc.) on Obama and Rep. Mark Critz follow.
• VA-02: The House Majority PAC isn't just playing defense (see CO-07 item above)—they're also going on offense, and their target is freshman Rep. Scott Rigell, a guy not often found at the top of takeover target lists. Their new ad (backed by a $140K, two-week buy) shows a Rigell stand-in experiencing a vehicular break-down and blocking up a line of traffic, to symbolize the middle class tax cuts he's voted against.
• SD-AL: Democrat Matt Varilek is out with his first ad (noticing a lot of these, post-Labor Day?), an introductory spot in which he mentions his work for Sen. Tim Johnson "on economic development." I'm guessing Johnson must either poll well, since few challengers like to link themselves to DC, or if Varilek (a former congressional staffer) is just trying to get out ahead of GOP attempts to define him.
• WI-07, KY-06, PA-12: I don't think anyone makes finding their ads more difficult than the NRCC, though Scott Bland's done a good job of rounding up their trio of new spots at the link. Republicans are adding a new target to their list: WI-07's Pat Kreitlow, who was the beneficiary of an unexpected early DCCC attack on GOP freshman Sean Duffy last week, and whom they slam as a tax raiser.
In the other two races, they keep up with existing themes: They go after Mark Critz in PA-12 for voting against various Obamacare repeal efforts, and Ben Chandler in KY-06 for supporting Obama more generally, with clips of Chandler saying stuff like "I have supported the President right along." The size of the buys for all of these spots, as well as continuations of some existing buys in other races, are available here.
• PA-St. Sen: One nice thing we've been seeing more of this cycle than previous cycles is more publicly-released internal polls of key state legislative races, and here's a big one. It's in the Erie-based SD-49 in Pennsylvania's State Senate, an open seat that's the bluest seat held by a Republican in the entire chamber, and thus the Dems' best pickup opportunity. The month-old poll (by 39th St. Strategies) gives Dem Sean Wiley a wide lead over GOPer Janet Anderson, 51-33. You might recall that last week the same pollster also found a large lead for the Dem candidate in the GOP-held open seat in SD-37; if the Dems can pick up those two, that'll narrow the Republican edge in the Senate from 30-20 to 28-22. (David Jarman)
• Ads: Want to stay on top of all the ads coming out of all the key campaigns and third-party groups as we head into crunch-time? With some help from the community, I've compiled a list of YouTube accounts for pretty much every House, Senate, and gubernatorial campaign that matters (though we're still awaiting primary results in a few states), as well as links for several of the biggest outside spending organizations, too. And if you want all of these assembled in a nice tidy RSS feed, click here.
• Colorado: There's no Gov or Sen race to pad out PPP's Colorado presidential sample, but they do look at the state's marijuana-legalization initiative which will be on the ballot in November. It's passing 47-38 (they also asked the more generic question as to whether people support legalizing marijuana, given the measure's confusing phrasing, and find a similar 49-43 agreement with that). They also look ahead to 2014, where Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper leads Generic R 52-38 (thanks to 54/29 approval, putting him in the top tier among governors), and Democratic Sen. Mark Udall edging Generic R 46-42. (David Jarman)
• DCCC: Expect this regularly for the rest of the cycle: The D-Trip just filed a new IE report on Tuesday covering $325K in spending across five races. Click through for full details.
• WATN?: Weird: Trey Grayson, the former Republican Secretary of State from Kentucky, is going to serve as a co-chair of ex-Rep. Gabby Giffords' new PAC, which will only support Democrats. Grayson seemed to check out of Kentucky politics after he lost the 2010 GOP Senate primary to rogue ophthalmologist Rand Paul, then became a director at Harvard's Institute of Politics. Grayson seems to be on a reverse Artur Davis trajectory, but with this latest move, it seems just as hard to imagine a return to office for him as it is for ol' Artur.
• TX Redistricting: On Friday, the three-judge court in San Antonio ruled that it will not make any changes to the legislative and congressional maps it drafted for us in this year's elections, in the wake of a decision by a separate judicial panel in DC which said last week that the legislature's lines failed to pass muster under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. However, if the DC ruling is upheld on appeal and the legislature declines to take a second shot at map-drawing, then the San Antonio court will almost certainly have to reconvene after the election to revise the lines for future cycles.