• IN-Sen: Resigned, it seems, to letting the jaws of defeat snap shut around Dick Lugar, one of the main outside groups propping him up is abandoning the race. Politico's Alexander Burns reports that the American Action Network has halted all advertising, with a spokesman saying: "We've decided we're going to let this race play out." Apparently, the AAN is executing a form of triage: Nameless Republican operatives say that if they're going to have to live with Richard Mourdock as their nominee, it's better to dial down the negative attacks against him now.
However, the single-candidate super PAC dedicated to supporting Lugar, Indiana Values, is still forking out plenty of dough to attack Mourdock, with two separate expenditures (see here and here) totaling a quarter million bucks. And Lugar's own campaign has been spending freely in a desperate attempt to stay alive. But in a sign of just how dire things have become, Maggie Haberman points to this flyer produced by Eric Cantor's YG Action Network on behalf of Lugar which encourages non-Republicans to vote in Indiana's open primary. As my Daily Kos colleague Barb Morrill said, it's like Operation Hilarity without any hilarity.
• AZ-Sen: Jim DeMint, would-be conservative kingmaker of the Senate, has endorsed Jeff Flake, extending some tea-partying credibility to Flake in a primary where he's being challenged from the right. (You can't get much further to the right on economics than Flake, but he's fairly laissez-faire on social and immigration issues.) Polling hasn't shown Flake's primary opponent, Wil Cardon, making much of a dent yet, but maybe there's some movement below the surface we aren't seeing yet. Considering how much Cardon has spent ($4.2 million of his own money so far, including $1 million in TV ads), it'd be hard for him not to get at least a little traction. (David Jarman)
• ME-Sen: The Hill's Josh Lederman checks in with several key Democrats to see whom they're supporting in the Maine Senate race, and everyone is undecided, including DSCC chair Patty Murray and Maine Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud. Murray even says she won't "say anything" "until the field's settled," which is an odd statement since the filing deadline for major-party candidates has already closed. That makes me wonder if Murray thinks there's a possibility that independent ex-Gov. Angus King might actually bail on the race, since (so far as I know) he hasn't actually filed yet. That would be a remarkable development, to say the least, but then again, Angus is a remarkable guy.
• MT-Sen: The Democratic PAC Patriot Majority USA is out with a new ad attacking GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg, and because they've filed the mandated independent expenditure report, we know that the size of the buy is considerable: $184K, which goes a long way in a state like Montana. The spot tries to cast Rehberg as being in the pocket of Wall Street and accuses him of wanting to privatize Social Security. You can watch it at the link or below:
• NE-Sen: It's nice to see Ben Nelson, frequent creator of obstacles for the Senate Dems, playing the good soldier, at least as far as his campaign funds go... but not that he needs them anymore, of course, since he's retiring. He just transferred a second $500K installment to the DSCC (having sent over a previous $500K in February), leaving him with only $621K cash-on-hand. (David Jarman)
• TX-Sen: Former Dallas mayor (and establishmentarian) Tom Leppert is fighting with social conservative Ted Cruz for the second spot in the GOP's Texas Senate primary runoff against presumed frontrunner Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. And while Cruz seems to have the motivated supporters (and the edge in the polls), Leppert has something else that he can use: money. His campaign announced he'll be spending $2 million on TV ad buys (both broadcast in the big markets, and on cable statewide) in the month leading up to the primary, with $1 million in reservations already made. The first phase is already out: a radio ad touting the backing of former Cowboys QB Troy Aikman. (David Jarman)
• NC-Gov: With North Carolina's primaries just a week away, PPP finds Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton with "all the momentum" as he seeks the Democratic nod. He's beating the only other serious contender, ex-Rep. Bob Etheridge, 36-26, but more importantly, Dalton's shot up from 15 to 26 and now to 36 over the court of PPP's last three polls, while Etheridge's numbers have remained "stagnant." The Tar Heel State does have a run-off system, but you only need to clear 40% (not the more common 50%) to avoid a second round, so Dalton looks like he has this well in hand.
Etheridge is getting a bit of help, though: Rep. David Price (among a bunch of other people) is endorsing his bid. A little late, though, no? I've gotta wonder if right about now, Etheridge's wishing he'd stuck with his original plans to stage a comeback for the congressional seat he lost last cycle instead. Anyhow, Tom Jensen also has some numbers for several of the downballot primaries (like LG, Treasurer, etc.) as well.
• NH-Gov: EMILY's List's mission is to elect pro-choice women Democrats to office, and while I often disagree with their endorsement decisions, at least I understand when they back a lone woman running in a field of men. But when they pick one woman over another in the same race, I'm always curious as to what goes into their decision. This time, they've picked ex-state Sen. Maggie Hassan, whose chief primary rival is ex-state Sen. Jackie Cilley, and as far as I know, both have equally solid records on women's reproductive health rights.
Here, though, there's a connection: Hassan's campaign manager, Matt Burgess, came directly to her campaign from EMILY. Meanwhile, a press release from Cilley's campaign (not available online) suggests she wasn't given formal consideration by the group—and that EMILY even went back on a pledge to stay out of the race until after the primary.
• WV-Gov: Earl Ray Tomblin continues to make it rain in the West Virginia gubernatorial race, where the primary is May 8 and where the last pre-primary financial filings were just due. Tomblin reported raising $125K in the last round, bringing him to $950K in cash-on-hand. Republican rematch opponent Bill Maloney raised $36K in the same period, with $271K CoH (though he has the option of self-funding if he senses he has a shot here). (David Jarman)
• AR-01, AR-04: Talk Business and Hendrix College published a pair of primary polls in two Arkansas House races in April, one recent and the other a bit older. The newer one is of the AR-01 Democratic contest, and it features a comical share of undecided voters, 72%, with prosecutor Scott Ellington at 15 and state Rep. Clark Hall at 10. The AR-04 GOP race (which was polled in mid-April) is a good bit further along, with 2010 nominee Beth Anne Rankin and Iraq vet Tom Cotton tied at 39 apiece.
• AZ-03: To date, the handful of endorsements Barack Obama's made in congressional races have all been on behalf of incumbents who face (or faced) serious threats in primaries. His latest is a bit different: He's endorsed veteran Rep. Raul Grijalva, who was nearly upset in 2010's red wave but has drawn pretty soft opposition. Businessman David Crowe (a recent switcher from the GOP) is in fact running against Grijalva in the Democratic primary, but his fundraising has been very minimal. The same is true for Grijalva's likely Republican opponent, Gabriela Saucedo Mercer. Still, I guess Grijalva doesn't want to take any chances, given that he only won by six points last time.
• AZ-08: Late last week came word that the DCCC and NRCC would both be going up on the air in the Arizona 8th District special election, and here's the D-Trip's spot. They slam Republican Jesse Kelly over a number of choice remarks he's made, like saying he'd "love to eliminate" Social Security, and that he'd also like to eliminate Medicare. I think Kelly's going to have a harder time dancing away from these kinds of remarks this time than he did when he ran in 2010. You can watch the spot (which is backed by a $160K buy) at the link or below:
• AZ-09: I don't know how much juice he has in the new 9th, but Rep. Raul Grijalva, one of only two Democrats currently representing Arizona in Congress, just endorsed state Sen. David Schapira in the three-way Democratic primary.
• FL-26: Good news indeed: 2010 Democratic nominee Joe Garcia, who recently expressed interest in running against GOPer David Rivera again after state Rep. Luis Garcia's campaign imploded, is reportedly calling supporters to tell them he's going to make another bid for Congress. Businesswoman Gloria Romero Roses also recently entered the race, but she's a first-time candidate and lives well outside the district, so Garcia should have a decided edge in the primary thanks to his profile.
• KY-06: Republican Andy Barr, seeking a rematch against Rep. Ben Chandler after an ultra-narrow loss in 2010, is out with a new internal poll from Public Opinion Strategies. Barr's trying to claim, of course, that numbers which show Chandler up 49-42 constitute good news for him, but I'm skeptical, not least because the memo makes at least one misleading claim. It tries to point out that Barr is doing better than Chandler in the new parts of the district, but since the redrawn seat is 92% the same as the old version, we're talking about a sub-sample of fewer than 40 people, which is joke territory. Do I think Chandler will have a tough race on his hands? I surely do. But if he's already at 49% in his opponent's polling, I take that as a fairly optimistic sign.
• NM-01: Democrat Eric Griego is going up with his first ad, a spot which features a woman talking about how important Medicare and Social Security are to her, and concludes with both her and Griego talking about how he's a staunch defender of both programs. You can watch it at the link or below:
• SC-07: Republican Chad Prosser, a former Horry County Council chair and a former state parks director under ex-Gov. Mark Sanford, is out with his first ad, which The Hotline says is for just a $14K buy. The spot hits the usual conservative themes (cut spending, repeal "ObamaCare," etc.), and also touts some of Prosser's accomplishments working in state government. You can watch it at the link.
• WA-01: Democrat Darcy Burner just secured her second labor endorsement, from the local branch of the IBEW, which she says "represents more than 3,500 electrical workers in northwest Washington State."
• Wisconsin: Add Kathy Nickolaus to the "won't have to kick around anymore" squad: The notoriously incompetent Waukesha County clerk has decided that she won't run for re-election this year. (If you are somehow unfamiliar with the Nickolaus saga, check out the link for a full run-down.) Unfortunately, she'll still be in charge for the rest of the year, and disputes earlier reports which said she "agreed under pressure from County Executive Dan Vrakas to cede election responsibilities to her deputy for the upcoming recall races." But at least she'll be gone for good soon enough.
• Alaska: This may be the least surprising state to see this happen in, but Alaska had a minor political earthquake over the weekend, with Ron Paul supporters winning control of the state party's apparatus at the convention. Longtime establishment-flavored chair Randy Ruedrich stepped down, paving the way for new Paulist chair Russ Millette. The Paulists were able to engineer their coup with some aid from the more evangelical/tea-flavored Palinista camp, under failed '10 Senate candidate Joe Miller's leadership. It's also looking likely that the Paulists will be able to engineer a second state-level-leadership coup at a convention next week, in perhaps the nation's only other state where "grizzled 1890s prospector" is still a key demographic: Nevada. (David Jarman)
• Pre-Primary Filings: Indiana, North Carolina, and West Virginia are all conducting primaries a week from Tuesday, which means that pre-primary FEC reports were due in those three states late last week. The reports cover only a short period, from April 1 through April 18, so few of the numbers really stand out. Perhaps most remarkable is one set of numbers that isn't there at all: Republican Robert Pittenger, the presumptive front-runner in the open NC-09, didn't bother filing a report at all. (I should also note that his campaign committee, which is not a corporate entity, has the ridiculous name of "Pittenger for Congress LLC." Maybe they tried filing with the SEC?) Other non-filers include Democrats Cecil Bothwell in NC-11 and Jonathan George in IN-09, but neither of these candidates are of any note. Pittenger's lapse, though, is quite glaring.
• Texas: If the spreadsheet at the link looks familiar, that's because it is: Katherine Haenschen of Burnt Orange Report has taken the Texas portion of our 1Q fundraising roundup and used it as a springboard to discuss the state's competitive House races. There's some very valuable information here, since there are at least a few primaries in safe seats that have received very little national attention.
• FL Redistricting: There's been a trio of adverse developments for Democrats on the Florida redistricting front, starting on Friday and continuing through Monday. First, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in favor of the legislature's new state Senate map, rejecting all challenges that the plan violated the anti-gerrymandering Fair Districts amendments and failed to heed the judges' instructions when they threw out the first version of the map in March. You can read the full opinion here (PDF). However, Democrats and outside groups say they're still considering other challenges, including at the trial-court level.
Second, the Department of Justice granted preclearance to Florida's new congressional and legislative maps, including the Senate map upheld just about by the state high court. However, it's worth noting that only five counties in the state are covered under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, so there was never much likelihood that the lines would get challenged by the DoJ.
And finally, the state trial court judge hearing the suit against Florida's new congressional map refused to issue an injunction against the plan late on Monday, meaning that unless another court rules differently, elections will go forward this year under the map passed by the legislature. The court also declined to rule that certain portions of the map were unconstitutional as a matter of law, which means that if plaintiffs want to continue pursuing these challenges, they'll have to do so at trial. The Florida Democratic Party, one of the main parties to the suit, says in a statement that it "will continue to evaluate our legal options moving forward." The full decision is here (PDF).
• NY Redistricting: New York's new state Senate map just received preclearance from the Department of Justice, though various lawsuits are still challenging the new lines on other grounds. What I had thought was the strongest line of attack against this Republican-drawn map doesn't appear to be faring too well, though: The state's highest court (confusingly known as the Court of Appeals) heard oral arguments last week on whether the GOP used a constitutionally valid method for adding a 63rd seat to the chamber, and it doesn't sound like the justices had much interest in the plaintiffs' complaints.