Fifth District Congressman Vance McAllister, who campaigned for office last fall as a devout Christian and devoted husband and father, was caught in video surveillance two days before Christmas passionately embracing and kissing one of his congressional aides.You can watch the video here. McAllister won a big upset last November, defeating state Sen. Neil Riser, the establishment favorite, in a special election to replace ex-Rep. Rodney Alexander. Before his victory, McAllister claimed he'd never set foot in Washington, DC, but he was evidently well-versed in the hypocrisy that makes that town run. And Riser, meanwhile, surely has to be considering a rematch right about now—if McAllister doesn't show himself the door the first.
So far, though, there's no sign he will. McAllister issued a press release apologizing for his behavior but adding, "I don't want to make a political statement on this." That translates as "I'd like to hide in a broom closet," but eventually he'll have to emerge and announce his plans.
For all the comparisons to David Vitter, though, McAllister doesn't have three years to ride this one out until his next election, nor did Vitter carry on an affair with a close family friend whose husband he'd worked with for 16 years. And there wasn't any video of Vitter, either. As one veteran Louisiana political hand says, that fact alone puts McAllister in "uncharted waters"—and the sharks will soon gather.
• GA-Gov: Jason Carter (D): $416,000 raised, $1.6 million cash-on-hand; Nathan Deal (R-inc): $84,000 raised, $3.9 million cash-on-hand (note: both sums were raised from March 21-31, as both Deal and Carter are prohibited from fundraising during the legislative session, which did not end until March 20)
• GA-Sen: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Greg Bluestein has a great, detailed look at all the ad spending so far in Georgia's open-seat Senate race. The top overall spender is GOP Rep. Jack Kingston, who's shelled out almost $2 million to air a bunch of different ads. Meanwhile, conservative outside group Ending Spending certainly hasn't lived up to its name: They've spent $1.35 million attacking Democrat Michelle Nunn, nine times what was originally reported. Nunn, who just went up with an introductory spot in response, has only spent $60,000.
And Republican businessman David Perdue ($987,000 spent to date) has a strange new ad of his own. It starts with a very bizarre computer-generated scene of hundreds of babies squealing on the lawn in front of the Capitol—a metaphor that Perdue never even alludes to as he narrates the entire rest of the ad, directly addressing the camera. (It's apparently a callback to an earlier Perdue spot. Whatever.) The rest is all word salad about creating "quality jobs" and having an "outside perspective."
• MS-Sen: A trio of new ads surfaced in Mississippi's GOP Senate primary on Monday, two from outside groups interested in unseating Sen. Thad Cochran, and one from Cochran himself. The first is from the Club for Growth, which tries to highlight Cochran's long career by saying he voted "with Jimmy Carter to massively expand federal control of education" and "George H.W. Bush's 'read my lips' tax increase," while replaying a clip of Bush's infamous remarks. It concludes by saying that "five decades in Washington is enough."
Meanwhile, the Senate Conservatives Fund takes a positive tack, spending a reported $343,000 to buff up state Sen. Chris McDaniel. This spot features clips from a McDaniel speech in which he says that "every compromise conservatives reach, the liberals always win. That's not compromise—that's called surrender." In other words, the GOP needs to be even more obstructionist. Hey, that's probably a message that works in a Republican primary.
In the final spot, Cochran goes negative on McDaniel, citing McDaniel's initial response of "I don't know" when asked if he'd support disaster relief for Mississippi. The ad then homes in on a McDaniel address at the University of Mississippi, during which he told the crowd, "I'm not going to do anything for you." "Sounds crazy," says the narrator. We'll see in a couple of months if this message is the one that resonates more.
• NH-Sen: Conservative group Ending Spending (which is run by billionaire Joe Ricketts, not the Koch brothers, for once) is running a new ad on behalf of Republican Scott Brown. The spot features a clip of Brown denouncing Obamacare four years ago, followed by various horror-story claims about the law's effects. One is that "more than 20,000 New Hampshire patients have had their coverage cancelled," something that didn't actually happen because the president granted a waiver for these non-compliant plans.
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, his chief of staff and a Waukesha County GOP official were all told three years ago of allegations that a then-aide to the senator had been sexually assaulted by state Rep. Bill Kramer, but none of them took the matter to the police or Assembly leaders.Click through for the full story. It is not amenable to summarizing.
• AR-Gov: A new Talk Business-Hendrix College poll finds Democratic ex-Rep. Mike Ross edging Republican ex-Rep. Asa Hutchinson 44-43 in the race to be Arkansas' next governor. In October, Hutchinson had a small 41-37 lead.
• FL-Gov: For the first time literally ever, a public poll shows Republican Gov. Rick Scott in the lead. According to Voter Survey Service's first poll of the race, Scott has a 45-44 edge on ex-Gov. Charlie Crist, his likely Democratic opponent.
However, note that VSS is "a division of Susquehanna Polling and Research," a very unreliable outfit that called the 2012 presidential race a tie in Pennsylvania (Obama won by 5), and put Democratic Sen. Bob Casey up just 1 (he won by 9). What's more, the survey was conducted for Sunshine State News, which bills itself as "Florida's only center-right news source." So rely on these numbers at your own risk.
Scott also has another ad out attacking Crist on Obamacare, featuring an "if you like it, you can keep it" quote from the president, followed by the bogus claim that "300,000 in Florida lost coverage." (Uh, no.) The rest of the ad is mostly a series of clips of Crist expressing support for the Affordable Care Act.
• IL-Gov: Gravis Marketing is one of the least reliable pollsters out there, but even if their new survey of the Illinois gubernatorial election is off-base, it'd have to be seriously wrong for Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn to feel even a little bit okay. Quinn trails Republican nominee Bruce Rauner 43-35, which would put the incumbent deep into the danger zone if accurate.
Meanwhile, is Rauner's wife Diana actually a Democrat, as she claimed in a recent ad? The Chicago Tribune took a closer look and found that while she's voted in some Democratic primaries, 77 percent of the hefty $500,000 she's donated to federal and state candidates over the last 20 years has gone to Republicans. Some Democrat!
• PA-Gov: Rep. Allyson Schwartz is finally joining the rest of the Democratic primary field on the air, with an ad touting her efforts to create the state's Children's Health Insurance Program. Schwartz herself narrates the spot, addressing a captive audience from behind a lectern, saying that "no one really seemed to care" about uninsured kids in the state Senate until she came along, but that the bill she helped pass "became the national model for Bill Clinton."
• CA-21: Here's a fun piece from Nathan Gonzales about the job descriptions California candidates are entitled to list next to their names on the ballot. Most incumbents go with something simple like "United States Representative," but some dip back into their résumés to connect better with voters, like "Doctor/Teacher/Congressman" Ami Bera or "U.S. Representative/Farmer" Doug LaMalfa. One Republican member, though, doesn't make any reference to his current job at all, "Farmer/Small Businessman" David Valadao, who faces a challenge from "Farm Policy Advisor" Amanda Renteria (a former congressional aide).
• FL-19: With just two weeks to go before the April 22 GOP primary, state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto claims she's putting her "entire remaining television budget" behind a new ad, but it doesn't sounds like she's spending a lot, since that budget is "nearly six figures." Benacquisto says that "together, we've accomplished so much," including "rejecting Obamacare, cutting taxes, and protecting life." She also complains about negative attacks against her.
• MI-04: State Sen. John Moolenaar won't have the GOP primary to himself: Businessman Paul Mitchell is also entering the race to replace retiring Rep. Dave Camp, and it seems like he may be decently well-connected. Mitchell was until recently the finance chair of the Michigan GOP, a job you typically don't get (or even want) unless you have solid connections to serious money.
• MI-08: Retiring Rep. Mike Rogers has endorsed former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop to succeed him in Congress, though Bishop still faces a fight in the GOP primary with Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett. Some other Republicans are also still considering the race, such as state Sen. Joe Hune.
• MN-01: At a district-wide convention over the weekend, Minnesota Republicans picked businessman Aaron Miller as their preferred candidate to take on Democratic Rep. Tim Walz. Interestingly, Miller beat a sitting legislator, state Rep. Mike Benson, as well as businessman Jim Hagedorn. As often happens in Minnesota politics, the losers both said they wouldn't run in the August primary, making Miller the nominee by default.
• NC-03: Former George W. Bush aide Taylor Griffin's already gotten plenty of outside help in his campaign to unseat GOP Rep. Walter Jones, but now he's finally going on the air with a cheaply produced biographical spot of his own. Griffin has tried to stress his local roots, but in this ad, he actually embraces his insider profile, saying he's "been there before" (referring to DC)—an extremely unusual move—and wants to go back. But he also name-checks Jesse Helms and Dubya, so perhaps that's more meaningful to Republican primary voters.
• WV-03: This is not a positive sign. According to CNN's John King, Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall "was about to retire a couple of weeks ago," but was talked out of it by Democratic leaders, who supposedly "promised him there'd be more money coming in." If King's report is accurate, then it bolsters the argument that Rahall's refusal to share his internal polling meant his numbers were not strong.
However, King also claimed that there would be "a few more retirements by veteran House Democrats" in the week following the FL-13 special election. That didn't happen, and what's more, since that time, the only two retirement announcements have come from a pair of veteran Republicans, Mike Rogers and Dave Camp. So as jj32 advises, definite grain of salt needed here.
• Special Elections: Johnny Longtorso has two special elections to tell you about this week. Florida's is on Tuesday, naturally enough, but Connecticut's is on ... Friday? Yeah, Friday. How bizarre!
Florida HD-44: This is an open Republican seat in southwestern Orange County. The candidates are Democrat Shaun Raja, a former campaign staffer, and Republican Eric Eisnaugle, a former two-term state representative. The district went for Mitt Romney by a 53-46 margin.Grab Bag:
Connecticut HD-61: This is an open Democratic seat consisting of East Granby, Suffield, and part of Windsor. The candidates here are Democrat Peter Hill, a salesman, and Republican Tami Zawistowski, who ran for this seat in 2012 and lost 52-48. The district went 51-48 for Romney.
• Demographics: If you've looked carefully at the demographics of the various congressional districts and who represents them, you may have noticed a U-shaped curve in terms of the highly-correlated cluster of factors like income, poverty, and education: The wealthiest and best-educated districts tend to be likeliest to be represented by a Democrat, but so too the poorest and least-educated districts.
The Atlantic's Michael Zuckerman has found an interesting new relationship that further expands that idea: Democrats tend to perform the strongest in districts with high levels of income inequality (as measured using a Gini coefficient), regardless of whether the overall average works out in a rich or poor direction, while Republicans tend to perform the strongest in districts with low levels of inequality.
Zuckerman speculates that's because representatives in those districts actually see inequality and its consequences first-hand, but that causal arrow might be pointing the wrong direction. Rather, it seems this phenomenon is a result of Democratic representatives being likelier to be elected from older cities, where there's often huge variation in income between neighborhoods that are geographically close to each other.
The highest Gini coefficient, for instance, is Jerrold Nadler's NY-10 in New York City, which has both the expensive Upper West Side and the impoverished Borough Park. Un second place is Chaka Fattah's PA-02, which ties together much of Rittenhouse Square and West Philadelphia. Contrast that with Michele Bachmann, who represents the district with the lowest Gini coefficient, MN-06, one of the most uniformly middlebrow slices of Midwestern exurbia anywhere.
Supporting the idea that it's largely an urban/exurban divide, younger cities where there's less spatial segregation are still very likely to elect Democrats. (If you've been following Richard Florida's recent series on segregation between rich and poor, west coast places like Seattle and the Bay Area, despite their wealth, tend to fare well in terms of lower amounts of financial segregation.)
Another interesting thought: That U-shaped curve might reappear if we had a much larger House, since we'd have much smaller districts. In other words, if Center City and West Philly, for example, had their own districts, they'd still each elect Democrats, even though there'd be a rich district and a poor district instead of one highly unequal district. (David Jarman)