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Leading Off:

CO-06: It's extremely rare that I encourage you to watch a TV news report, but this one is a must-see. After getting into a world of trouble for going full birther at a fundraiser earlier this month, the normally voluble Mike Coffman has retreated underground, refusing to talk to the press while back in his district during a congressional recess. But 9News, the station which first broke the story, caught up with the GOP freshman in public and put him to the question. It wasn't pretty:

If for some reason you can't watch the video, here's a transcript of the key portion with reporter Kyle Clark:
KYLE CLARK: I've been trying to call your staff. They won't return my phone calls. Let me ask you, after your comments about the President, do you feel voters are owed a better explanation than just, I misspoke?

REP. COFFMAN: I think that... Umm... I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize.

KYLE CLARK: OK. And who were you apologizing to?

REP. COFFMAN: You know, I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize.

KYLE CLARK: I apologize, we talk to you all the time, you're a very forthcoming guy. Who's telling you not to talk and to handle it like this?

REP. COFFMAN: I stand by my statement, that I wrote, that you have, and I misspoke and I apologize.

KYLE CLARK: Was it that you thought it would go over well in Elbert County where folks are very conservative and you'd never say something like that in the suburbs?

REP. COFFMAN: I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize.

KYLE CLARK: Is there anything I can ask you that you'll answer differently?

REP. COFFMAN: You know, I stand by my statement that I misspoke and I apologize.

You've really got to wonder what Coffman's exit strategy is here.


HI-Sen: ConservaDem Ed Case is touting a new internal poll that purports to show the Democratic Senate primary all tied up, with Case at 46 and Mazie Hirono at 45. The survey is an automated poll from a firm called the Public Strategy Group—a different firm from the one Case used last summer (Merriman River) to produce a poll that the DSCC whacked him for. And the DSCC is going after Case over these numbers, too, calling them "highly questionable polling results that don’t line up with any public or private polling." But it doesn't look like Hirono's campaign is responding with data of their own.

Polling on this primary truly has been all over the map, though. Here's a roundup of all known prior results:

26-25 Case — Ward Research (May 2011) (other candidates also included)
53-37 Case — Merriman for Case (July 2011)
45-40 Hirono — PPP (Oct. 2011)
54-36 Hirono — Benenson for Hirono (Nov. 2011)
41-39 Case — Merriman for Civil Beat (Jan. 2012)
56-36 Hirono — Ward Research (Feb. 2012)
NM-Sen: Joe Monahan is also out with a statewide poll of the Dem Senate primary (see NM-01 item below). Unsurprisingly, Rep. Martin Heinrich is blowing out Auditor Hector Balderas, 57-29. (For this poll, Monahan says they used a firm called "Dialing Services," but I'm not sure if they just provided the robocall muscle or actually supervised the whole polling process.)

OH-Sen: No one ever accused Republican Josh Mandel of being a competent state treasurer—and no one ever will:

During a rare press conference with reporters, Ohio's absentee Treasurer was asked where he stood on pension reform bills that passed the state Senate last week. He declined to take a position (what a surprise), then said, "I will be watching it very closely, obviously, as the custodian of the $100 billion assets under management of the pension funds."

"$165 billion," the reporter quickly corrected. Mandel, channeling a deer in headlights, nodded and smiled sheepishly, then nervously glanced directly into the camera before walking off from the podium.

PA-Sen: PPP's first poll of the Pennsylvania Senate race following the GOP primary finds the picture virtually unchanged: Dem Sen. Bob Casey beats Republican nominee Tom Smith 49-33; back in March, it was 49-31 Casey. Smith's name rec has predictably gone up, but his favorables aren't good, just 16-29. There are also results for various downballot races, including the PA-AG contest: Democrat Kathleen Kane leads Republican David Freed 42-33; a Kane internal from a couple of weeks ago had her up 48-27.


NC-Gov: SurveyUSA is out with their first poll of the North Carolina governor's race (on behalf of local news station WRAL-TV), and it closely resembles PPP's survey from the middle of May. SUSA has Republican Pat McCrory leading Democrat Walter Dalton 44-39; PPP saw the race at 46-40 McCrory. The major difference is that SurveyUSA included libertarian Barbara Howe, who pulls a rather high 7% here.


FL-26: For a moment there, it looked like Republicans were going to start on a long, painful rehabilitation treatment for damaged freshman Rep. David Rivera, featuring him on an RNC conference call to attack President Obama for issuing a visa to gay rights activist Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban president Raul Castro (and niece of Fidel). But Rivera was a no-show on the call, leaving Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart wield the battering ram by himself. If the GOP is unwilling to trot out Rivera even for such minor-league duties as this, their faith in him must be absolutely nil.

KS-02: Though Kansas's congressional lines are still far from being finalized, a Democrat has stepped up to run against GOP sophomore Lynn Jenkins: Tobias Schlingensiepen, a pastor and police chaplain. While Schlingensiepen does seem to be on the "Some Dude" side of things, he seems to have had some success on the political activism front—not easy for a Democrat in Kansas. It would take quite something else to beat Jenkins, but it's possible that this seat could get bluer in redistricting, so it's always good to have someone lined up. (And Democrats did hold it for a term, after Nancy Boyda beat Jim Ryun in 2006.)

NJ-09: Rep. Bill Pascrell is out with an internal poll of the fast-approaching June 5 Democratic primary (via Garin-Hart-Yang), showing a very tight race with fellow Rep. Steve Rothman, with Rothman at 44 and Pascrell at 43. Given Pascrell's decided geographic disadvantage, though, that doesn't seem terribly optimistic for his chances, and I'd imagine Rothman's own polling has him ahead. The Rothman camp is being cagey, though, telling PolitickerNJ than "winning campaigns do not leak polls" (in the reporter's words) and that their numbers are "are very, very different"—but obviously, they're refusing to share them.

NM-01: In case you didn't overload on NM-01 Democratic primary polling the other day, here's a fourth poll of the race—and the first one conducted independently of any campaign. Local reporter Joe Monahan commissioned a survey by Manzano Strategies, a single-day robopoll, which finds Michelle Lujan Grisham at 35, Eric Griego at 34, and Marty Chavez well back at 22. That's very similar to Lujan Grisham's numbers, which had her tied with Griego at 35 apiece and Chavez at 23.

NY-08: Amazing: It had been reported for some time that DC 37, a powerful local public employees union, would endorse NYC councilman Charles Barron in the Democratic primary, and now it's for real. I'm stunned that DC 37 thinks it's just playing a normal game of politics here (they don't like Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries because he supports charter schools), but Barron is simply not an acceptable choice. He's a lunatic who's made a life-long career out of outrageous, inflammatory statements that put him completely outside the mainstream. Just a tiny sampling of his greatest hits:

"I want to go up to the closest white person and say, 'You can't understand this, it's a black thing' and then slap him, just for my mental health." [Source]

"We are sick and tired of this country supporting dictators, supporting terrorists and then saying they have a homeland security office to stop terrorism. Well you want to stop terrorism? The biggest terrorist in the world is the government of Israel." [Source]

"Out there, they don't know that Qaddafi was our brother. People say 'Didn't he kill all those people?' I say, 'I don't know anything.' The man was a freedom fighter. Can you imagine what this man had to go through? You might as well get bold, black, and bad, and take care of business. Long live Muammar Qaddafi! Long live African freedom!" [Source]

DC 37 has no business making common cause with Barron—this is a perfect case where they should have just offered no endorsement to either candidate. I also have to wonder how their other endorsees feel about this. In the same announcement, they also said they would back Assemblyman Rory Lancman in NY-06 and Rep. Nydia Velazquez in NY-07. Someone should ask those two for their thoughts.

NY-13: Former Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV, who ran against Rep. Charlie Rangel twice in the Democratic primary (including last cycle), will instead endorse his one-time rival for re-election. Rangel also picked up the backing of Rep. Jose Serrano—not exactly surprising, since they are colleagues in the House. But Rangel's biggest weakness is among Hispanic voters, and Serrano, who is of Puerto Rican descent, represents a small chunk of Rangel's redrawn district. Rangel's chief primary opponent this year is state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who was born in the Dominican Republic.

TX-33: Anna Tinsley of PoliTex sums up a huge batch of recent endorsements in the Democratic primary for Texas's new 33rd District. Most of the important ones involve labor unions backing state Rep. Marc Veasey, who is the probable front-runner in this race.

TX-36: Funny: Ex-Rep. Steve Stockman, who represented Texas's 9th Congressional District for a single term as a member of the GOP class of 1994, has been putting up yard signs that ask voters to "re-elect" him. That's sort of dopey and cute at the same time—but mainly dopey, since emphasizing your insider credentials in a Republican primary in this day and age seems exactly the wrong way to go. And also, it's not like Steve Stockman is "the name you know." (Hat-tip: TDDVandy)

Grab Bag:

Census: Um... oops? The Census Bureau just announced that it missed counting 1.5 million members of minority groups in 2010, including 2.1% of African-Americans, 1.5% of Hispanics, and 5% of Native Americans. That's the determination upon release of the "statistically adjusted" census results based on statistical sampling. By law, only the actual enumerated count can be used for apportioning House seats. The adjusted count could, by law, still be used for redistricting within each state, but the Census Bureau, citing time pressure but probably also Republican-related political concerns, didn't rush out an adjusted version this time. The adjusted count also won't be used for the allocation of federal funds over the decade, either.

The better news is that the adjusted count finds that the overall population number was remarkably accurate: The Census Bureau overcounted nationwide by only 36,000, mostly by virtue of duplicate counts of people who own more than one house. In addition, the percentage of undercounted minorities, though it seems large, is no worse than previous years. (David Jarman)

Liberty for All: John Ramsey, the 21-year-old heir (and college student) behind the new super PAC Liberty for All, says he's "just getting started" after powering Lewis County Judge-Executive Thomas Massie to victory in the KY-04 GOP primary on Tuesday night. Ramsey spent half a million on Massie's behalf and now says he's looking for other "freedom" candidates (i.e., Paulists) to support. He also sounds pretty much exactly like what you'd expect an obscenely wealthy college Republican to sound like, spouting off egotistical claptrap like: "I do not see this as a political effort at all. I see this as a humanitarian effort." I look forward to this meddler infuriating the GOP establishment for years to come.

Messaging: Slate has a fascinating article about advertising and quantitative research, and how the Democrats are applying an increasingly rigorous use of randomized testing to see what messages work (and for whom) before putting them on the air. (The traditional method is to throw messages against the wall, put them on the air, wait several weeks for polling, and find out what worked.) The article focuses on the Obama campaign (and their work with an organization called the Analyst Institute) but also mentions the techniques are trickling down into downballot races, too. (David Jarman)

Steny Hoyer: Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, the second-most powerful Democrat in the House, is swinging through Florida to meet with several congressional candidates and help them earn a little free media while he's at it. (Though it doesn't look like he's holding any fundraisers.) On Hoyer's itinerary: Val Demings (FL-10), Keith Fitzgerald (FL-16), Patrick Murphy (FL-18), and, perhaps most interestingly, Jessica Ehrlich in FL-13. Ehrlich has by far the toughest race, a challenge to forty-year veteran Bill Young. But Hoyer doesn't waste his time on no-hopers, so he must see some potential here.

Media Watch:

MI-Sen: Fred Davis, the man behind the disastrous "Debbie Spend-it-now" ad, has finally been given the boot by Republican Pete Hoekstra—though it seems like Davis's departure has more to do with the fact that he pitched zillionaire Joe Ricketts on an instantly-infamous plan to attack Barack Obama over Jeremiah Wright, something that seems to have rendered Davis a bit radioactive even in GOP circles.

OH-Sen: Republican Josh Mandel tries to accuse Dem Sen. Sherrod Brown of "bail[ing] out Wall Street" and giving "huge bonuses to executives." Brown's campaign responded with a press release calling the spot a "new low in political dishonesty" and pointing out that Brown sponsored legislation to levy a 50% tax on bonuses paid by companies which received bailout money.

WI-Gov: Morning Score reports:

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has canceled a big buy in Wisconsin, according to data provided by SMG Delta. They had reserved $112,000 in time for May 29th to run this anti-Scott Walker ad. PCCC has spent $65,000 to date on TV, according to SMG. They've been up in Madison but were planning on going into Milwaukee. A Republican media buyer compares the retreat to the American Action Network throwing Dick Lugar under the bus after concluding he couldn't win his Indiana Senate primary.

The group insists they still consider the race a top priority. "After news broke that the DNC was not funding the Wisconsin Democratic Party's get out the vote operation, we made a strategic decision to do less fundraising for our own TV ad program and more fundraising directly for Wisconsin Democrats," spokesman Neil Sroka emails. "This resulted in over $30,015 from 2,394 individual grassroots donations in the last 48 hours. We currently do have plans to air more TV ads, but may continue to re-allocate resources within Wisconsin based on events on the ground in order to ensure victory on June 5."

Meanwhile, the RGA's new spot tries to convey "facts" about Scott Walker and Tom Barrett, pretending that Walker has a good record on job creation. A rather nasal-sounding Walker also recites a bunch of numbers in his own ad (and claims Barrett supported some kind of trolley for Milwaukee ZOMG LOLZ). And finally, BuzzFeed has some details on Democratic ad spending: Barrett's TV buy went from $220K last week to $581K this week, while the pro-Barrett Greater Wisconsin Committee jumped from $325K all the way to $1.1 mil.

CA-02: The fight for second place in the top-two primary gets nastier, as activist Norman Solomon sends out a negative mailer attacking businesswoman Stacey Lawson as a 1%er with a spotty voting record. That prompted another candidate, Some Dude Larry Fritzlan, to criticize Solomon and defend Lawson.

CA-08: State Assemblyman Paul Cook (R) continues to lap up the independent expenditure cash. Spirit of Democracy America (too bad they didn't include "American" at the beginning of their name...) drops another $21K on pro-Cook mailers, while the newest group of patriots on the block, a PAC called "Stand With America", is spending $40K on producing and airing a TV spot lauding Cook. (James L)

CA-30: LOL! If only politics actually worked this way. Dem Rep. Brad Sherman is claiming his campaign deliberately sent out two different versions of a flyer featuring a family portrait—one with his mom photoshopped out—as part of a "clever idea" to trick the press into writing it up as a "gotcha!" moment... thus earning free media. Sorry, Congressman, that is indeed a pretty "clever" story, but I don't believe you for a second.

Meanwhile, the Committee to Elect an Effective Central Valley Congressman continues their Comic Sans revival with another $50K ad buy on behalf of Dem Rep. Howard Berman. (David Nir & James L)

NM-01: EMILY's List continues their effort to microtarget Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham to victory with another $11K in mailers. (James L)

SC-07: Republican attorney Jay Jordan says he's running for Congress for "two reasons that define me." Then he holds up a bible and a pocket constitution. Size of the buy: $26K.

TX-04: The Campaign for Primary Accountability continues their effort to knock octogenarian GOPer Ralph Hall out of Congress. They filed two new expenditures in the past 24 hours, both on direct mail: $16K and 19K. (James L)

TX-23: Wow... the League of Conservation Voters isn't pulling their punches against Democrat Ciro Rodriguez, going so far as to directly compare him to George W. Bush in a new ad buy. (Ironic, given that Ciro was the progressive choice against fellow Dem Rep. Henry Cuellar in 2006.) In their press release, the LCV cites Rodriguez's last-minute vote against Obama's 2009 clean energy bill as his key sin. Size of the buy? $100K. (James L)

TX-25: CATPAC (that stands for "Conservatives Acting Together", like the Planeteers) strikes again—with another $32K media buy on behalf of ex-Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams (R). Their ad touts Williams as "the conservative President Obama would fear most." (James L & David Nir)

WI Recall: A GOPAC radio ad attacks former Dem state Sen. John Lehman and fluffs state Sen. Van Wanggaard in the most anodyne of terms. A Daily Kos/PPP poll last month found Lehman just two points behind Wanggaard, 48-46.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu May 24, 2012 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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