• MI-11: So this is how it's going to end for Thad McCotter: A week after he failed to file a sufficient number of signatures to appear on the ballot for re-election, followed by a pledge to run a write-in campaign to capture the Republican nomination, the five-term veteran is now giving up and will instead retire from Congress. While the debacle that led him here remains as shocking as ever, it's not too surprising to see McCotter fold now, given that he faced a hostile GOP establishment, a criminal investigation over the signatures he submitted, a rather pitiful warchest, and a write-in campaign being waged by at least one other local Republican, former state Sen. Loren Bennett.
So now what? It remains to be seen whether GOP power players coalesce around Bennett—something he'd likely need to have happen in order to prevail, since there's an actual name on the primary ballot, tea partier Kerry Bentivolio, which will be difficult to overcome with a write-in effort. But there's also the possibility that one or more other local Republicans might jump in with their own write-in bids, which would throw this already-topsy-turvy primary into utter chaos. As for Democrats, they have a credible candidate here in the form of physician Syed Taj, who raised $200K before news of the McCotter disaster even broke. First, though, he'll have to defeat LaRouchie nutball William Roberts in his own primary.
Given that this swingish district went for Barack Obama by a 50-48 margin, and given the extremely unsettled nature of the GOP contest, this once off-the-radar race looks more competitive than ever. Therefore, Daily Kos Elections is changing its rating on this race for the second time in a week, moving it from Likely R to Lean R.
• CA-Sen: I'm honestly amazed that SurveyUSA got 1,232 respondents to sit through a question in which they rattled off all twenty-four names of candidates running for Senate in the top-two primary. The results, of course, are a total joke: Dem Sen. Dianne Feinstein leads with 42% while no one else is above 4%. SUSA also asked a few head-to-heads, pairing Feinstein with some of the more "prominent" (I use that word loosely) Republicans, and of course she dominates there. Against Elizabeth Emken (the party's official endorsee), she leads 50-34; birther queen Orly Taitz, 54-29; businessman Dan Hughes, 52-31; and businessman Al Ramirez, 52-32. The poll also finds Prop 29, which would institute a new tobacco tax, passing by just 42-38.
• ME-Sen: Oops: State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, one of six Republicans vying for their party's Senate nomination, recently sent out a mailer featuring a photo of Gov. Paul LePage, captioned "two conservatives fighting for Maine's future." The only problem is that LePage hadn't endorsed him, and after the flyer went into circulation, LePage issued a statement clarifying that he had in fact endorsed no one. That prompted Attorney General William Schneider, another GOP hopeful, to criticize Poliquin for trying to mislead voters.
But that may not matter much to Poliquin, who is leading the field in fundraising, according to newly-filed pre-primary reports. He pulled in $229K between April 1 and May 23, while everyone else was in five figures (though Scott D'Amboise hasn't made his numbers public yet). However, Poliquin is rich, and it's not clear how much, if any, of his haul came from his own bank account. Meanwhile only one Democrat has provided totals, state Rep. Jon Hinck, who took in just $26K. Independent ex-Gov. Angus King was the overall leader for the time period, but his haul was nevertheless a fairly unimpressive $295K. However, he doesn't have to worry about a primary.
• MT-Sen: The League of Conservation Voters just spent another $70K on "field campaign consulting" behind their GOTV effort on behalf of Democratic Sen. Jon Tester. The total tab for their field effort to date has reached a quarter of a million bucks. (James L)
• ND-Sen: Democrat Heidi Heitkamp outraised her Republican rival for North Dakota's open Senate seat in the pre-primary fundraising period (April 1 through May 23), $497K to $433K. Rick Berg has more cash-on-hand, $1.6 mil to $760K, though he's been in the race longer.
• NV-Sen: Dem Rep. Shelley Berkley outraised GOP Sen. Dean Heller in the pre-primary period, $637K to $438K. Heller has $4.3 million in the bank versus Berkley's $4.1 mil, thanks to heavier spending by Berkley over the last couple of months.
• TX-Sen: The flurry of also-rans endorsing in run-offs now begins in Texas, though I'm not really sure anyone genuinely wants the support of the guy kicking it all off. That would be hated former college football analyst Craig James, who pulled in less than 4% of the vote running a vanity campaign in the Republican Senate primary. I have to admit, I wasn't familiar with James before his entry into politics (I'm an NFL guy), but the level of animus I've seen displayed toward him is truly remarkable. I once asked if there was a figure outside of the sports world who might be considered analogous to James, but pretty much everyone agreed that there is simply no one loathed that much and in that particular way, even in politics. So I hope first-place finisher David Dewhurst is just absolutely thrilled to get James' backing, because really, James is one-of-a-kind.
• NC-Gov: When the DGA released its first ad attacking Republican Pat McCrory (the one which made him go absolutely bonkers and unsuccessfully try to threaten TV stations in removing it from the air), they titled it: "Pat McCrory's Questionable Ethics: Case Number One." Well, now it's time for Case Number Two, in which the narrator says that McCrory kept a full-time job at Duke Energy while mayor of Charlotte (which is, in fact, a part-time job), but never disclosed his hours, salary, or duties. The ad goes on to say that he also testified before Congress as mayor "about a regulation worth $600 million" to Duke. I'm sure this spot will make McCrory flip, too. Size of the buy: $300K.
• AZ-08: The DCCC is out with a closing ad hitting Republican Jesse Kelly on his anti-Medicare stance. I think it's a pretty effective spot, and it's backed by a $69K expenditure. Meanwhile, the GOP-aligned American Action Network is spending another $8K on GOTV phonebanking on Kelly's behalf. If you'd like an overview of all the spending to date in this race, the Arizona Daily Star has the scoop. (James L)
• CA-51: Did you know that there's a Republican running for Democrat Bob Filner's open seat? I hadn't heard of him either, but his name is Michael Crimmins. I wish I could tell you more about Mr. Crimmins, but my browser tells me that his website "may harm my computer." No Republican is worth that risk! Anyways, this dude is actually getting some PAC love in the form of direct mail postcards paid for by the "Citizens for Prosperity and Good Government." Size of the buy: $12K. (James L)
• CT-05: This is not good news for Democrat Chris Donovan's campaign:
The finance director for House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan's congressional campaign was arrested Wednesday by FBI agents and charged with illegally concealing the source of two $10,000 contributions for his campaign, authorities said Thursday.Donovan says he is "cooperating fully with the investigation," and as of now, there's nothing that implicates him in his staffers' purported wrongdoing. There's much more at the link, including details on the legislative backstory behind the tobacco tax bill. Swan, Donovan's new campaign manager, held a press conference on Friday afternoon, and Donovan himself addressed the media on Sunday evening, denying any knowledge of the alleged scheme and saying he would stay in the race.
Donovan fired the fundraiser, Robert Braddock Jr., and his campaign manager, Josh Nassi, and hired Tom Swan of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group to take over his campaign just 10 weeks from the Democratic primary on Aug. 14.
Braddock, 33, of Meriden, was arrested at his apartment on a criminal complaint that says he conspired with others to hide contributions from a person who wanted to kill a tobacco tax bill before the General Assembly. Nassi was not charged, but an unnamed campaign aide was implicated by the authorities.
The money came from an interest opposed to a proposal to tax roll-your-own cigarettes, according to an affidavit on file in U.S. District Court. The tax bill never came to a vote.
• IL-12: Remember Jay Hoffman? He's the former state rep. who was our original candidate in IL-13, then started thinking about IL-12, and then ultimately quit the congressional race to make a comeback bid in the state House. Based on that peripatetic record, it's no surprise that he says he's not interested in being tapped as a replacement for Democrat Brad Harriman, who just dropped out of the 12th District race himself, due to health reasons.
• NJ-09: This seems to be Barack Obama's most pointed retort yet to Bill Clinton's now-rather-irritating insistence on stumping for just about everyone in a contested Democratic primary who happened to support his wife's presidential bid, regardless of any other merits they might possess (or lack). Clinton, as you know, has endorsed Rep. Bill Pascrell and appeared at a rally with him on Friday—in spite of the fact that Pascrell's Democratic primary opponent, Rep. Steve Rothman, was one of Clinton's most ardent defenders during the impeachment mess.
In response, Team Obama previously dispatched their top surrogate, advisor David Axelrod, to campaign with and fundraise for Rothman. But ahead of Clinton's scheduled Friday visit, they took it up a notch, and earlier in the day, Obama invited Rothman to meet with him in the Oval Office. Here's how the Rothman camp framed it:
Asked directly if Obama was endorsing Rothman, [spokesman Josh] Earnest said, "As the head of the party, the president has not weighed into primary contests with two incumbent members of Congress."• NM-01: Progressive Kick is up with another $14K expenditure on radio ads attacking Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham. (James L)
Rothman said this morning that his visit with the president was a sign of support.
"The president invited me to the Oval Office to express his support. One doesn't invite oneself," Rothman said.
• NY-18: Hey, if freshman GOPer Nan Hayworth wants to screw up her campaign, I'm not gonna stop her. On Thursday, one of her spokesmen, Jay Townsend, was busted writing on Facebook, "Let's hurl some acid at those female democratic Senators who won't abide the mandates they want to impose on the private sector." Instead of just ditching Townsend and letting him quietly fall on his sword (the obvious move), Hayworth's digging in. On Friday, a different spokesman tried to claim that Townsend's words were "clearly not meant to be taken literally." Of course, that's hardly the point. He used violent rhetoric to agitate against women. That's a problem whether he meant it "literally" or not.
• WA-01: SurveyUSA is out with a poll of the 1st District that, at first glance, is pretty alarming: John Koster has a substantial lead not just in the top-two primary (to be expected, since he's the only GOPer against a herd of Democrats), but also in the head-to-heads in November. In the top-two, Darcy Burner looks like the Dem most likely to advance: It goes Koster 46, Burner 19, Laura Ruderman 6, Suzan DelBene 4, Steve Hobbs 4, independent Larry Ishmael 4, and Darshan Rauniyar 1. Koster leads a Burner head-to-head 48-39, vs. DelBene 49-32, vs. Ruderman 49-32, vs. Hobbs 47-31, and vs. Rauniyar 50-28.
If you read a little further down, though, the poll's credibility takes a major hit when you see the presidential numbers: Romney leads Obama 45-44. This is a district that, adjusted for the new boundaries, went for Obama 56-42 over McCain. This is also the state's median district (Obama went 57% in all of Washington in '08), so Rob McKenna should probably be leading by a couple points in the gubernatorial race, but instead he's up 52-38 over Jay Inslee. Either this sample is way off, or else Obama and Inslee are finding some way to get, say, 120% of the vote in WA-07 in statewide polls to compensate for such a steep falloff in Dem fortunes in the new 1st. (Despite all that, gay marriage is still passing in this sample, 40-37.) (David Jarman)
• Fundraising Reports: As per usual, we have a full roundup of pre-primary FEC reports for candidates in Maine, North Dakota, Nevada, and Virginia, where primaries are being held on June 12. We also have figures for the Arkansas runoff and the Arizona 8th District special, which are the same day. In AZ-08, Democrat Ron Barber continues to pound Republican Jesse Kelly on all fronts: Barber outraised Kelly during the period of March 29 through May 23, $640K to $455K. He outspent him considerably as well, $716K to $500K, and has much more cash for the stretch run, $390K vs. $83K.
• Michigan: PPP's Michigan miscellany includes a very hopeful number on the generic legislative ballot, which Democrats lead by a hefty 50-35. That's the same margin as the firm saw in February, 48-33. Only the state House is up for election this year, and of course, Republicans gerrymandered the map as best they could. But with spreads like these, even that might not be enough for them to hold on.
• MD Redistricting: Republican opponents of Maryland's new congressional redistricting plan just filed their first batch of signatures to put the map up for a voter referendum this fall, but it looks to me like they might be off the pace. They submitted an "estimated 25,000" petitions but need 55,736 valid signatures by July 1. That's just a month away, and even if they can get 30K more by then, some of those sigs will get declared invalid. Interestingly, one of the organizers of the drive says that a referendum did once succeed in overturning a map, 50 years ago. But I'd be at least a little surprised if Maryland voters get a chance to do so this November.