• ND-Sen: North Dakota Democrats have just put out a new poll from DFM Research that finds former AG Heidi Heitkamp leading GOP Rep. Rick Berg 49-44 in the open-seat Senate contest (up from 42-41 in December, numbers which were not publicized at the time). Barack Obama trails Mitt Romney by a very wide 51-32 margin, so you can't accuse this poll of being too rosy—especially since the spread was a narrower 40-28 in December. (Though 28% for an incumbent president in any state... ouch.)
This is only the second public survey of the race, and the first (from back in November) also showed Heitkamp on top by five points, 47-42. Republicans didn't have an answer to that poll, and if they don't have an answer to this one, either, then we may have to reconsider our "Lean R" rating here. Indeed, Berg paid $24,000 to Republican pollster Public Opinion Strategies for "survey research" in early January, and we never saw those numbers, so the absence of any contrary Republican data is starting to look a bit glaring.
Meanwhile, according to reports, they DSCC is about to go up on TV with an ad buy worth some $76K. (A sum like that goes pretty far in a tiny state like North Dakota.) As Politico's Maggie Haberman notes, that would make this the first independent expenditure by either national Senate campaign committee this cycle. We'll keep a look out for the DSCC's ad and bring it to you as soon as we see it.
• FL-Sen: Rasmussen: Bill Nelson (D-inc): 47 (36), Connie Mack (R): 36 (43); Bill Nelson (D-inc): 44 (41), George LeMieux (R): 30 (38); Bill Nelson (D-inc): 48 (42); Mike McCalister (R): 29 (38)
• IN-Sen: Dick Lugar now has a second ad out featuring an endorsement from Gov. Mitch Daniels, which looks like it was filmed in the same session as the first one. The introductory words of the ad: "I'm not for Dick Lugar 'cause of what he's done." Look, I understand the rhetorical framing Daniels is using here (next phrase: "but because of what he can do"), but really, that doesn't seem like a great way to open a commercial. It also doesn't pack much emotional punch, which I think is actually something you can say about Dick Lugar and his entire campaign just in general.
• NE-Sen: Democrat Bob Kerrey is out with yet another new ad, this one bemoaning the costs of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and arguing that war with Iran would make those two horrible conflicts "look like a cakewalk."
• NJ-Sen: Republican state Sen. Joe Kyrillos' charmed life continues (for now): He just pulled in $400K in a single night thanks to a fundraiser headlined by Mitt Romney, and The Hill's Josh Lederman confirms that all of this cash is going into Kyrillos' coffers—none for Mittens. You'll recall that last quarter, fully $600K of the $917K Kyrillos raised came from just one event, hosted by Gov. Chris Christie. You've gotta wonder how many times Kyrillos can keep going back to the super-star fundraiser well, though.
• OH-Sen: Here's a copy of that new ad from Dem Sen. Sherrod Brown (his first) that we mentioned on Thursday. Brown is wasting no time, going hard after his Republican opponent, Treasurer Josh Mandel, over a series of stories about his hacky patronage hires of his college and campaign buddies that have percolated in the press for weeks. I think it's a pretty good spot, and I like that Brown is taking the gloves off early. You can watch it at the link or below:
• MO-Gov: Man, Dave Spence is such a joke. In a campaign beset by problems almost from the start, here's the latest: One of his pr flacks, instead of sending a press advisory in a recent email blast to the media instead shot around a private, internal briefing book designed for campaign eyes only. It contained tips on at least one hot-button topic: how to avoid looking like a birther without actually renouncing birtherism. Have a look-see:
In it, she offered Spence advice in case he was approached by reporters quizzing him on topics such as his recent suggestion that he didn't know whether or not Obama is a Muslim.• WI-Gov: Campaign finance reports are due on Monday in the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall, and some Democrats are already leaking their totals. Tom Barrett reports having raised $750K between March 30 and April 23, and his chief primary rival, Kathleen Falk, is also out with her numbers. They aren't directly comparable, though: Falk's raised $1 million, but that figure goes back to January.
"This is not an issue that I felt was pertinent to my candidacy for governor and expressed those sentiments," Briggs offered as a potential answer. "However, if the media insists that this is a critical issue that must be addressed, I will be clear. President Obama says he is a Christian, and I take him at his word."
• CA-31: The National Association of Realtors, one of the more active groups on the independent expenditure front in recent cycles, is going in pretty big for GOP Rep. Gary Miller, who faces a serious fight for his political life in a new blue-leaning district he's carpetbagging into. (Number of constituents Miller represents in the 31st: zero.) But the Realtors don't want to see him lose, so they're throwing down $118K on mailers for Miller, ahead of the June primary. Interestingly, they've also paid for a poll from the Tarrance Group, a Republican pollster, but I'd be surprised if we ever publicly saw the results of that survey.
• CA-52: The Progressive Change Campaign Committee just endorsed former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana in the redrawn 52nd District, a newly-competitive seat represented by Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray. Saldana, however, is vying for the Democratic nomination with San Diego Port Commission Chairman Scott Peters, who has outraised her and currently has $251K on hand versus Saldana's $96K.
• FL-18: Just passing along this latest bit of Allen West insanity for the lulz:
"This is so reminiscent of the Twilight Zone episode 'To Serve Man,'" West wrote. "Obama and his liberal progressive disciples are the modern day Kanamits."West also added that he thinks there are 78 to 81 Kanamits serving in Congress today.
For those of you not intimately acquainted with insults taken out of television episodes from 1962, the Kanamits were a race of nine-foot-tall aliens that come to Earth and cure famine, blight, and nuclear warfare. They also bring in advanced technology to solve the world's energy problems. In other words, the Kanamits were acting like dirty, rotten progressives.
The problem, though, is that the Kanamits don't have noble intentions -- their kindness is really just a not-very-elaborate ruse to fatten up the human race so they can be carted back to the Kanamit home planet to be eaten. A Kanamit book called To Serve Man that was discovered by the humans turns out not to be about helping man at all—it's a cookbook. (Get it? Serving man?)
• IL-13: Well, here's one way to handle allegations that you arranged to hand off your seat in Congress via a back-room deal following a last-minute retirement: push the guy you're accused of hooking up off a cliff. That's what Rep. Tim Johnson has done to former chief-of-staff Jerry Clarke, who expressed interest in getting tapped as a replacement by local Republicans soon after Johnson unexpectedly announced he would not seek re-election. Johnson now says he thinks that none of his former staffers—including Clarke—should be considered, though of course, the fourteen county chairs who will pick a new candidate are free to ignore him. Still, Clarke can't be happy about this turn of events.
• NC-08: It looks like the battle is on between House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's YG Action Fund and the Club for Growth. The super PAC run by Cantor's ex-aides are spending $23K to put out mailers on behalf of former congressional aide Richard Hudson in the GOP primary, while the CfG is backing dentist Scott Keadle. Neither man has fundraised impressively, though both have made low-six-figure loans to their own campaigns, so the effect of outside influence in this race could be large. However, the primary is just around the corner on May 8, so there isn't much time left to make a difference.
• NH-01, NH-02 (PDF): The University of New Hampshire has tested favorability ratings for the state's two freshman members of Congressman for a while now, but it looks like this is the first time they've polled actual head-to-head matchups against their 2012 Democratic opponents. Both races look very competitive, though interestingly, Team Blue is performing better in the less-talked-about 1st District rather than the 2nd, which has been viewed as a top-tier race from day one. In NH-01, ex-Rep. Carol Shea-Porter leads the man who beat her two years ago, Rep. Frank Guinta, 44-39, while in NH-02, Annie Kuster edges the guy who beat her last cycle, Rep. Charlie Bass, 40-39.
Interestingly enough, this is actually the second set of polling which shows the CSP-Guinta matchup looking more favorable for Dems than the Kuster-Bass rematch. Back in January, a conservative-leaning think tank commissioned two polls from Pulse Opinion Research (aka Rasmussen-for-hire) that also had Shea-Porter doing better than Kuster. The usual caveats apply to anything Rasmussen-related, but at the time, Granite Stater Dean Barker opined that the numbers confirmed his "hunch that the first district will be more competitive than conventional wisdom says, and the second will be a bit harder to flip than everyone assumes." UNH has its own faults, but these results give further credence to Dean's contrarian viewpoint.
• North Carolina: For fans of the Tar Heel State, the Civitas Institute has some super-cool online tools available for political analysis. One is for the upcoming primary election, letting you keep track of how many votes have been submitted so far, including the location, party registration, and race of the voters who've cast ballots. The other lets you look at voter registration statistics by county, including party and race numbers, and month-to-month changes over the last four years. (David Jarman)
• WATN?: The fate of former state Sen. Carl Kruger's old Senate seat may still be in limbo, but his own is not: Kruger was just sentenced to seven years in prison on corruption charges, which he pleaded guilty to last year. I'm frankly appalled that the judge gave Kruger less time than the 9 to 11 years that federal guidelines called for, on account of his purported "good deeds"—the man was corrupt as sin and accepted millions in bribes over the years. The damage he inflicted on the state for his own personal benefit isn't mitigated by some supposed good he may have once done. But at least he's out of office now, and justice has been served.