• NY-11: Republican Rep. Michael Grimm has been haunted by campaign finance questions for months, and they may have finally caught up with him. On Friday afternoon, The Washington Post reported that the congressman has been indicted by a federal grand jury and is negotiating a plea deal. Prior to the Post's report, Grimm's attorney issued a statement revealing that the U.S. attorney in New York was indeed preparing to indict him.
There are few details for now about what the indictment will contain, but past reporting about the investigations into Grimm's campaign fundraising offers some clues. Politico writes: "The Justice Department was looking into Grimm's relation with Ofer Biton, an Israeli citizen who pleaded guilty last year to a visa violation. Grimm—with Biton's help—raised more than $500,000 from Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto's followers, including alleged improper donations."
The New York Times has more:
The charges against Mr. Grimm, 44, a Republican who was first elected in 2010 and represents Staten Island and a portion of Brooklyn, will include mail fraud and wire fraud and focus on his conduct in connection with a health food restaurant he owned on the Upper East Side of Manhattan after he left the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2006, one of the people said.The last time Grimm was in the national news was when he physically threatened a reporter in January, saying "I'll break you in half. Like a boy." And that was only the latest of Grimm's many outbursts.
Grimm's district, the 11th, covers Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn. In 2012, President Obama carried it with 52 percent of the vote, so Grimm already was a Democratic target. He should be even more vulnerable now to former New York City Councilman Domenic Recchia. New York's filing deadline just passed last week, so it's too late for a primary challenge to materialize.
There are several ways, though, that things could play out in November, none of which bode well for the Republicans. Grimm could continue his campaign against Recchia while still under indictment, which would, of course, be a significant drag on his chances. Alternatively, Grimm could try to withdraw, but he'd either have to move out of state or accept a judicial nomination in order to do so. (Grimm does actually hold a law degree, but quitting the state is actually a tricky proposition, legally.)
That, however, would leave the Staten Island and Brooklyn GOP committees to try to agree on a replacement candidate. And as you may recall from the amazing 2008 election following ex-Rep. Vito Fossella's implosion, the two organizations don't agree on much of anything, creating the possibility of a compromise candidate nobody likes much.
Alternately, Grimm could resign, though he doesn't seem inclined to, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo would likely schedule any special election to coincide with the regular fall elections. But whatever unfolds, the Democrats' chances of picking up this swingy district have significantly improved, so we're moving this race from Likely Republican to Tossup. (Taniel & David Jarman)
• NC-02 (pre-primary numbers): Clay Aiken (D): $53,000 raised, $74,000 cash-on-hand; Keith Crisco (D): $204,000 raised, $2,000 cash-on-hand
• NC-03 (pre-primary numbers): Walter Jones (R-inc): $53,000 raised, $79,000 cash-on-hand; Taylor Griffin (R): $32,000 raised, $34,000 cash-on-hand
Also, if you've been wondering about who's funding the Put Alaska First PAC, which has aired a number of pro-Mark Begich ads lately (including the notably pro-ACA ad featuring a cancer survivor), well, there's mostly just one source: the Senate Majority PAC. SMP just gave another $265,000 to Put Alaska First; 82 percent of Put Alaska First's receipts have come from SMP.
• CO-Sen: Adding a new wrinkle to the Colorado Senate race is the entry by a third-party candidate, Steve Shogan. Ordinarily some random independent showing up in a race isn't news, but Shogan is a locally prominent neurosurgeon, who, if he puts more effort into the race than the usual vanity run, may have the money and connections to make a wave or two. Complicating matters is that he's a former Democrat, though he's more of the 'radical centrist' variety and working an anti-Obamacare line, so he seems likelier to pull away Chamber of Commerce types from Cory Gardner.
• IA-Sen: Bruce Braley's campaign is out with its first ad in the Iowa Senate race; it's a 60-second long bio spot featuring Braley and his mother talking about his up-by-the-bootstraps story. It's a nice humanizing ad, but it's also pretty clearly an attempt to clear up any post-gaffe sense that he's a trial lawyer who hates farmers, saying "hey, I used to be some schmoe working in a grain elevator, too!" Size of the buy is $241,000 over two weeks.
There's also an ad from yet another mysterious Republican outside group, called Trees of Liberty. The ad isn't anti-Braley, though, but rather targeted toward the GOP primary, hitting Mark Jacobs for being inadequately anti-cap-and-trade (they aren't clear about which candidate they'd prefer). It's a $257,000 buy.
Finally, the Senate Conservatives Fund weighed in on the race, endorsing Joni Ernst, whom they apparently feel is the more conservative than Jacobs, the other candidate who can lay claim to partial-front-runner status in this fractured field.
• KY-Sen: The DSCC has been trying to make fighting the Koches an issue in Senate races this year, but in the Kentucky race, it looks like cockfighting that's becoming an issue instead. The issue briefly surfaced in early April when it was reported that Matt Bevin had attended a pro-cockfighting rally, though Bevin contended it was actually a "states-rights rally." Additional reporting this week by local TV station WAVE, however, makes it clear Bevin would have to be completely oblivious to not have known what kind of rally he was attending; the speaker right before Bevin, American Gamefowl Defense Director Dave Devereaux, said at the rally it was for "the sole purpose of legalizing gamecock fighting at the state level." Bevin's defense? "I honestly wasn't even paying attention. I was thinking about what I was going to say."
This time, the controversy was enough to prompt Bevin to issue a statement in response, on Friday. Again, it sees him trying to pivot back to state's rights, to the extent that he invokes the 10th amendment.
The Bevin fail concerning cockfighting, in fact, threatens to overwhelm a potentially bigger screwup from Mitch McConnell that was reported on Thursday. At an earlier meeting with business leaders in Kentucky's Lee County, McConnell said in response to a question about economic development, that it wasn't his job to bring jobs to Kentucky.
"Economic development is a Frankfort issue," McConnell said. "That is not my job. It is the primary responsibility of the state Commerce Cabinet."There's more nuance to the quote than just that, but given those raw materials, the next Alison Lundergan Grimes negative ad essentially writes itself. It definitely has shades of the quote that helped sink Sharron Angle in 2010 ("Once again, Harry Reid: It's not your job to create jobs."), though, of course, Angle gave oppo researchers a lot more to work with than just that.
On top of all that, we have a poll from the GOP-friendly Gravis Marketing, on behalf of Human Events magazine, of both the primary and general. McConnell leads Bevin 51-34 in the primary; McConnell leads Grimes 43-36 in the general, while Grimes leads Bevin 37-32. (For what it's worth, Gravis and Wenzel Strategies are the only pollsters in the last year to find anything more than a one-point lead for McConnell over Grimes.)
• MS-Sen: Incumbent GOP senator Thad Cochran's newest ad hits Chris McDaniel on meth ... not for doing it, but rather for voting against legislation in the state legislature in 2010 that cut the number of meth labs in the state by 93 percent.
• SC-Sen-A: Lawyer-turned-pastor Det Bowers seems to have risen to the top of the heap of the various small-time challengers trying to hold Lindsey Graham to a runoff in the Republican Senate primary in South Carolina (thanks to a big fundraising haul last quarter). However, a podcast from a sermon (apparently in 2001), as flagged by Politico, reveals Bowers might have some Todd Akin-sized skeletons lurking in his closet; quotes from the sermon have him more or less blaming women for their husbands' adultery: "It is an abominable idolatry to love your children more than you love your husband, and it will ruin your marriage. And yet you blame it on him because he ran off with some other woman!"
• WV-Sen: The first poll offering from Vox Populi (the new Republican polling firm on the block, with Mary Cheney as one of its partners) is in the West Virginia Senate race, where they find Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito leading Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant by a 49-33 margin. It's a woefully underpolled race, but the result is pretty similar to PPP's last poll here (from September 2013), where Capito led Tennant 50-36.
• CA-Gov: There are two polls in California's gubernatorial race from the last few days, and they both tell the same story: Jerry Brown is already near 50 percent, and Neel Kashkari, the GOP establishment's preferred candidate, is stuck in the low single digits and unless he can break through the clutter, unlikely to make it out of the primary. The first poll is from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC); as usual, their poll is mostly on policy preferences, but if you scroll down to p. 23 of their PDF, they've buried some toplines in there: Brown 46, Tim Donnelly 9, Andrew Blount 3, Kashkari 2, and someone else 2.
The other poll is by Clear Path Strategies for a private client which got leaked to Carla Marinucci, who didn't beat around the bush with the headline "Neel Kashkari trails registered sex offender in new governor poll." The sex offender in question is Glenn Champ, who's somehow in third place, maybe simply because he has a cool-sounding name. This poll read the names all the Some Dudes in the race and identified their professions; also, this poll doesn't seem to have any undecideds, as all 15 candidates' totals add up to 100 percent. Regardless of weird methodology, this poll has Brown in about the same position as every other pollster: he's at 46, with Donnelly at 18, Champ at 7, Blount at 4, Alma Marie Winston at 4.1, and Kashkari at 3.8.
• FL-Gov: A new poll from Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. on behalf of the News Service of Florida shows things all tied up. The survey gives both Republican Gov. Rick Scott and his Democratic rival former Gov. Charlie Crist 42 percent each. Almost every single poll of the race has shown at least a small Crist lead.
This appears to be Mason-Dixon's first poll since 2012. That election cycle was not kind to the company: They botched a number of key races, including in Florida. Mason-Dixon's final poll of the state gave Mitt Romney a 51-45 advantage, seven points redder than the actual results a few days later. The group also had an embarrassing incident in Utah's 4th District that year. As Steve Singiser recounted in a 2012 polling postmortem:
The firm made a huge splash in the final week of the campaign when they released a media-sponsored poll in Utah showing veteran Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson losing by double digits to Republican upstart Mia Love. With that poll release (and a subsequent release by local pollsters Dan Jones and Associates showing Love up by a more modest 5 points), House pundits began to shovel dirt on the prospects of the sole Democratic member of the delegation.Ouch. Hopefully Mason-Dixon has used the last year to take a serious look at what went wrong in 2012 and fix it. Only time will tell though.
But then, in the final hours of the campaign, Mason Dixon offered differing numbers on the race. It was an almost unprecedented step: a revision of a previously released poll. Apparently, M-D had weighted the poll using a statewide assumption of party ID, when the 4th district (centered largely in Salt Lake County) was quite a bit more Democratic than the state at-large. Thus, they recalibrated, and found Mia Love up by seven points (50-43) instead. She wound up losing by a single point, meaning that even in their final, last-ditch attempt at "unskewing" themselves, M-D still fell way off.
Rick Scott's camp also has a new ad out framing Crist as someone who abandoned the state in 2010 to run for the Senate rather than fix the state's considerable economic problems. The size of the buy is a monstrous $6.5 million. (Darth Jeff)
• HI-Gov: Some things never change, like Neil Abercrombie running against Mufi Hannemann. (It first happened in a House special election in 1986, and its most recent occurrence was the 2010 gubernatorial Dem primary.) Hannemann announced on Thursday that he'll run against Abercrombie again in the 2014 gubernatorial race ... except there's an interesting twist; he's doing it as an independent this time.
Hawaii is, as you've probably seen written dozens of time, a notoriously difficult state to poll, and while we haven't seen a poll of the race with an Abercrombie/Hannemann/Duke Aiona matchup, we did see a poll from February with the surprising result of Abercrombie (the Democratic incumbent) trailing Aiona (the Republican whom he beat by a wide margin in 2010). So, does the entry by the more conservative Hannemann (who'd considered running in the Republican primary this time, too) save Abercrombie's bacon, by splitting the anti-Abercrombie vote and the anti-same-sex-marriage vote?
Does Hannemann still have enough Democratic bona fides that he splits the Democratic vote and enhances Aiona's chances? Or does the better-known Hannemann vacuum up most of Aiona's support and become the principal challenger? We'll have to wait for another poll to see, although, this being Hawaii, we won't have much confidence about the state of the race even then.
• PA-Gov: Plagiarism seems to be all the rage on the GOP side of the aisle this year, to the extent that some random candidate cribbing a few grafs from Rand Paul or Justin Amash's website isn't really even newsworthy anymore. So it's not surprising to see some of that on the Dem side, too, though probably not too many people had Tom Wolf in the 'most likely to plagiarize' pool. The source is a little odd, though: the gubernatorial candidate had to admit that parts of his "Fresh Start" platform (mostly just platitudes like "Energy efficiency has been called the 'fifth fuel' ") were lifted directly from two research papers by energy equipment company Johnson Controls.
• CA-15: Eric Swalwell, who faces a challenge from fellow Dem and state Sen. Ellen Corbett for his first re-election, is out with an ad promoting the link between clean energy and job creation. It's not clear yet where the ad will actually run, given the sheer expense of buying time in the Bay Area market.
• GA-12: Republican John Stone has a new ad out in the crowded primary to face Democratic Rep. John Barrow. Stone, a former Congressional aide and the party's 2008 nominee, opens the ad by firing a Revolutionary War-era cannon. Stone is pretty unsubtle with the imagery, saying an ancestor fired a similar cannon at the British and, "As the only licensed firearms dealer in America running for Congress, I'm willing to do the same if we have to."
Seeming to recognize that these days it'll be pretty hard to overthrow the government with 18th century weaponry, Stone says it'll be a whole lot easier to vote in people like him, "new House Republican leaders who will stand up to Obama and defend our Constitution." No word on the size of the buy, though given that Stone began April with only $55,000 in the bank it's probably not much. (Darth Jeff)
• IA-03: Hey, it's not hiding behind your children; it's using a credible third party validator. In this case, it's businessman Monte Shaw, one of the many Republican candidates looking to succeed Tom Latham in the 3rd, who uses his elementary-school-age daughter to score some points about the national debt in his newest ad.
• NY-13: The Bill Clinton press-release-only endorsement may be getting more space in the headlines, but here's an endorsement for Charlie Rangel in the NY-13 Democratic primary that has some actual numbers behind it. He's gotten the backing of DC 37, the city's AFSCME affiliate and largest municipal employees' union, which has 120,000 active members.
• UT-04: Hatch Act violations in campaigns, like unpaid property tax liens and Ethics Committee investigations, are one of those things that tend to get "oooh, game changer!" stories on the day they're first revealed and then promptly disappear down the memory hole forever. Nevertheless, it looks like Mia Love has fallen victim to this common bane of candidates, courtesy of a Huffington Post open-records investigation that found her using her official e-mail (in the capacity of mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah) to handle campaign correspondence.
• VA-10: The Republican "firehouse primary" in Virginia's 10th district (sort of a compromise between a real primary and a convention, held on a Saturday and in only 10 locations around the district) didn't offer any real surprises. State Del. Barbara Comstock, given her financial advantages, had been expected to win the nomination easily, and that's just what she did, taking 54 percent of the paltry 13,609 votes cast.
State Del. Bob Marshall, who would have been Democrats' preferred opponent given his propensity for foot-in-mouth moments, took only 28 percent, with Howie Lind taking 8 percent and three other minor candidates taking the rest. Comstock will face Democratic Fairfax Co. Supervisor John Foust in this competitive open seat race to succeed the retiring Republican Rep. Frank Wolf.
• WV-03: On Thursday, the House Majority PAC rolled out an anti-Evan Jenkins with the Koch brothers as primary boogeymen, and they referred to the Koches in passing as "New York City billionaires." That ritual invocation of meddling outsiders in rural states is something we at Daily Kos Elections have, in the past, dubbed "going Pace Picante."
Well, the Nick Rahall campaign is out with their own ad now, and it moves the Pace Picante-ism to front-and-center, suggesting the meme has been focus-grouping especially well. It features a group of old-timers sitting in front of the general store, bemoaning the tenor of the campaign; when one of them points out that New York billionaires are behind it all, the whole group angrily exclaims "New York City?!?" in what has to be a direct callback to those Pace ads. (Roll Call's Abby Livingston helpfully includes a link to one of the original Pace spots for comparison purposes.)
• Religion: If you're interested in the intersection of religion and politics, here's a fascinating chart from Brookings, showing the religious components of the Obama and Romney coalitions in 2012, as well as how those religious breakdowns compare to those in different age cohorts. The Romney coalition, on the other hand, was similar to the 65+ cohort: 7 percent unaffiliated, 40 percent white evangelical, 17 percent white mainline Protestant, 18 percent white Catholic, 2 percent Hispanic/other Catholic, 1 percent black Protestant, 12 percent other Christian, and 3 percent non-Christian religious.
The Obama coalition is on the other hand, is more diverse and pretty similar to the overall 18-29 cohort: it's 25 percent unaffiliated, 8 percent white evangelical, 13 percent white mainline Protestant, 13 percent white Catholic, 10 percent Hispanic/other Catholic, 16 percent black Protestant, 9 percent other Christian, and 7 percent non-Christian religious. In fact, the 18-29 set is even heavier on the "unaffiliated" (35 percent), showing that trend is likely to grow further in the future.