• AR-Sen: Well whaddya know. We now have four straight polls showing Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor leading GOP Rep. Tom Cotton, after a long streak of surveys that featured Cotton ahead. The latest is from Anzalone Liszt Grove, on behalf of the DSCC, which puts Pryor ahead 48-45. As we suggested last week when a pro-minimum wage hike group put out a poll showing Pryor up 10, it would be easy enough for Republicans to publish some contradictory numbers of their own. They haven't.
Instead, Cotton is asking Pryor for a series of five debates to be held around the state ... and the standard political rule of thumb says that the candidate requesting debates is not the candidate who's winning. This certainly isn't always true—former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell proposed a slate of 10 debates en route to a 17-point victory in 2009, for instance. But Pryor responded coolly to Cotton's offer, and the phenomenon feels truthy enough that Cotton risks feeding the narrative that he's behind right now.
• CO-Sen: Rep. Cory Gardner just finished mopping up what little opposition he still faced for the Republican nomination. Over the weekend, he Gardner received the support of 73 percent of delegates to the state GOP convention, meaning that state Sen. Randy Baumgardner and perennial candidate Tom Janich won't even appear on the June 24 primary ballot. That caps a remarkable turn of events that began with Gardner's late entry into the Senate race a month and a half ago, followed by several rivals dropping out. Now Gardner has a clear shot at Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, who is running his first re-election campaign.
• IA-Sen: Missed legislative votes regularly dog candidates seeking higher office, but often the charges don't stick with much force—it's just not an issue most voters care about. Republican Joni Ernst might prove an exception, though, since she just got busted for trying to pretend that the main reason she was absent for more than half the roll calls held in the Iowa state Senate this year was her service in the Army National Guard. However, a review by the Cedar Rapids Gazette found that only 12 of those 117 missed votes came on days when Ernst was on active duty, even though she'd claimed that only "a few" absences were due to activities unrelated to the guard. Let's see if Ernst's primary opponents try to make hay out of this one.
• KY-Sen: Even though Mitch McConnell's refused to say whether he owns a gun, and even though Alison Grimes looks a lot more comfortable holding a firearm than he does, the NRA is endorsing the Republican Senate minority leader in his bid for re-election. Again, though, the NRA likes to stick with incumbents (they're also backing Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, for instance), so their decision to support McConnell is no surprise.
"She votes with Elizabeth Warren. She votes with [Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Ed] Markey. She is the third senator from Massachusetts," Sununu told supporters at the Portsmouth rally before introducing Brown. "Scott's happiest days as a young man were in New Hampshire. … So it's going to be great to have a senator that was born virtually in the state of New Hampshire. Jean Shaheen, by the way, was born in Missouri!"So that's what they're calling Maine nowadays, huh? Virtual New Hampshire? Incidentally, Shaheen's lived in actual New Hampshire for 40 years. I'm not sure Scott Brown's lived there for 40 days.
• SC-Gov: Self-funding attorney Tom Ervin has dropped his primary challenge to GOP Gov. Nikki Haley and will instead run as an independent. While an ex-Republican pursuing a third-party bid might seem like a boon to Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, who is trying to unseat Haley, Ervin initially kicked off his campaign by rather weirdly saying he'd run from the "center-right," so it's not clear whom he might hurt more. However, the sums Ervin's spent so far haven't exactly been huge, so his impact is likely to be pretty small overall.
• FL-19: Because it worked so well for Richard Tisei, Republican businessman Curt Clawson is putting $110,000 behind an ad that shows nothing but gently rolling waves at the ocean (and some hard-to-read text whining about his opponents' negative ads). The special primary is in a week.
• KY-06: One of the most successful implementations of Obamacare to date has come in Kentucky, where Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has been an outspoken advocate of the state's Kynect program, despite his state's conservative leanings. So it'll be interesting to see if Democrat Elizabeth Jensen can score points hammering freshman GOP Rep. Andy Barr for voting to repeal Kynect, as she does in a new radio ad hitting Barr for wanting to "cancel insurance policies of 400,000 Kentuckians"—the number of people who've signed up for coverage through Kynect.
• LA-06: This new poll from JMC Analytics for Republican businessman Paul Dietzel is a perfect example of how not to construct a survey questionnaire. Before asking the main horserace question, JMC posed this puzzler to respondents: "Edwin Edwards is attempting to return to politics by running for Congress. Would you like him to be our next Congressman?" That's just a lousy way to prime the sample against Edwards, a Democrat, and 52 percent said "no" while just 31 percent said "yes."
Funny enough, that's almost exactly the same percentage Edwards scored in the jungle primary test, earning 32 percent while Dietzel and state Sen. Dan Claitor (another Republican) both took 11. JMC also seemed to include options for generic Republican and Democratic candidates in the very same question, which is just super strange. And shock, in a direct head-to-head, Dietzel leads Edwards 48-39. Again, though, this is a really junky poll.
• MI-14: State Sen. Bert Johnson is dropping out of the Democratic primary for Michigan's open (and dark blue) 14th Congressional District, making him the second state senator to quit the race in recent weeks along with Vincent Gregory. While there are still a number of candidates running, Johnson's departure leaves state Rep. Rudy Hobbs and Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence as the main contenders, with Lawrence looking like the frontrunner.
• MN-06: Former state Rep. Tom Emmer just got one step closer to succeeding Michelle Bachmann in Congress. On Saturday, he earned the endorsement of the Republican Party at a district-wide convention, taking 76 percent of the vote. However, Emmer will still face Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah and ex-state Rep. Phil Krinkie for the GOP nomination; both candidates complained about the exclusionary nature of the caucuses and said they'll fight on to the August primary.
Whoever earns the Republican nod, though, will be the overwhelming favorite in this solidly red district—unless he or she follows in Bachmann's footsteps a little too closely. Ironically enough, though, if anyone can do it, Emmer can.
• NJ-12: Mark Putnam, the same guy who's been doing Mark Begich's excellent ads, has now cut a spot for Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, who's running in the Democratic primary for Rep. Rush Holt's open seat. It's a very stark ad featuring grim black-and-white urban scenes in which Chivukula, who was born in India, describes his native country as a bleak place with "no minimum wage, no equality for women, no Social Security, and no Medicare"—and "no way up." Chivukula warns that "we cannot let it happen here."
It's a serious downer of an ad, but for Democratic primary voters worried about increasing inequality and the erosion of the social safety net, the message might just work. I'll also be curious to see what the Indian press, which frequently covers the campaigns of Indian-American politicians, has to say about this one, since it certainly portrays India in a negative light (though Chivukula doesn't actually mention the country by name).
• NY-13: An otherwise unknown community activist from the Bronx named Yolanda Garcia managed to file 6,000 signatures (more than four times the necessary amount) to qualify for the Democratic primary in New York's 13th Congressional District. That's no mean feat for a Some Dude, and you have to wonder who might have helped Garcia, particularly since she's also a Dominican immigrant—just like state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who is challenging Rep. Charlie Rangel a second time.
Conventional wisdom says that a candidacy like Garcia's could siphon Hispanic votes from Espaillat, giving a boost to Rangel (who already has to worry about clergyman Michael Walrond eating into his support among black voters). But as Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz (an Espaillat endorser) points out, the only race on the June primary ballot will be this one, because New York now insanely conducts separate primaries for federal contests. So the kinds of people who show up for such a narrow, low-turnout election aren't likely to be "led astray" by Garcia.
• WI-06: State Sen. Glenn Grothman, who'd launched a challenge to Rep. Tom Petri before the incumbent announced his retirement, already has some competition in the GOP primary now that Wisconsin's 6th District is open. State Rep. Duey Stroebel, who had himself been considering a challenge to Petri, will run for the seat, and state Sen. Joe Leibham says he's looking at a bid, too. However, state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who doesn't actually live in the district, will not join the race.
And even though this turf is quite red, Democrats actually have something of a bench here. Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris (who considered a bid for governor last year) and Manitowoc Mayor Justin Nickels are potential candidates, and one conservative website purports to have quotes from both men expressing interest, but the post is terribly written and uses phrases like "Democrat Party," so just be wary.
• Special Elections: Connecticut held an extremely rare Friday special election last week, to avoid conducting an election this week during Passover/Holy Week. Johnny Longtorso recaps:
Connecticut HD-61: This was a pickup for the Republicans. Tami Zawistowski defeated Democrat Peter Hill by a 58-42 margin.Mitt Romney carried this seat 51-48.
• WA State Senate: Great news! Turncoat Democrat Rodney Tom, who handed the GOP a majority in the Washington state Senate even though they only won a minority of seats in 2012, will not seek re-election this year. The 50-year-old Tom cited health issues (both his father's and his), but he was also facing a stiff challenge from mainstream Democrat Joan McBride, a former mayor of Kirkland. Now Democrats will be the heavy favorite to carry Tom's 48th District in November, as it went 62-36 for Barack Obama, though it's possible other Democratic candidates like state Reps. Ross Hunter or Cyrus Habib could get in.
Assuming mainstream Democrats are successful, though, Tom's departure means that they'll need to win just one more seat from the GOP's so-called "Majority Coalition Caucus" to recapture the chamber. A second renegade Democrat, state Sen. Tim Sheldon, also sides with the Republicans, though he must be feeling quite lonely right now. With any luck, Sheldon will grow even lonelier next year.
• Ads: With Passover beckoning, there's a pile of new ads we weren't able to hit in depth in today's Digest, but here they are, for you to peruse:
NM-Gov: Susana Martinez (R-inc) (in Spanish)• New York: Filing closed last Thursday for New York's June 24 federal primary. (State and local primaries will be held on Sept. 9.) There is currently no statewide candidate roster, but once everything is certified (probably not until early next month), the state should have a list of all contested primaries. (Jeff Singer)
AZ-01: House Majority PAC (D)
AZ-02: House Majority PAC (D)
CA-17: Ro Khanna (D)
ID-02: Club for Growth (R)
NJ-03: Tom MacArthur (R)
PA-09: Bill Shuster (R-inc)
Republican Gov. Mary Fallin is seeking a second term, and she faces minimal primary opposition. The Democrats are fielding state Rep. Joe Dorman, who faces a very tough race in this conservative state. Daily Kos Elections rates this as Safe Republican.
Most statewide officers (all Republicans) are seeking another term. The one exception is for one of the three state corporation officers, where incumbent Patrice Douglas is running for the House. The Republican primary pits state Sen. Cliff Branan against former state House Speaker Todd Hiett, and no Democrats are running.
Because of unusual circumstances, both of Oklahoma's Senate seats are up in 2014. In the regularly scheduled race for a full six year term, Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe faces token primary opposition and is rated as Safe in November.
Things are a lot more interesting in the special election for the other seat, where Republican Sen. Tom Coburn is departing at the end of the year due to health reasons. The primary, runoff, and general elections for this race all coincide with the state's regular election calendar. Seven Republicans are running, though it looks like a two-man race between Rep. James Lankford and former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon, though former state Sen. Randy Brogdon is also in the mix. Of the three Democrats, state Sen. Connie Johnson looks like the frontrunner. The seat will next be up in 2016 for a full term. We rate the general election as Safe as well.
Apart from Lankford, Oklahoma's House members (all Republicans) are running again and should have little problem in the primary or general. There is a competitive Republican contest in the 5th District to replace Lankford, though. Six Republicans are running: state Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas; former state Rep. Shane Jett; state Sen. Clark Jolley; former state Sen. Steve Russell; pastor Harvey Sparks; and state Rep. Mike Turner. The Democratic frontrunner looks like state Sen. Al McAffrey, who was the first openly gay member of the state legislature. This Oklahoma City-based seat is the most Democratic in the state, but that's not saying much: Mitt Romney won it 59-41, and we rate it as Safe Republican. (Jeff Singer)