NC-Sen: DSCC Goes Up on the Air

The DSCC is going on the air with their first ad in North Carolina’s Senate race, designed to drive up Elizabeth Dole’s negatives:

From the AP:

The ads set to begin airing Friday evening across the state indicate how much the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is willing to invest in the North Carolina race. Democratic state Sen. Kay Hagan has less than half the cash available to spend against Dole, and she can’t match the national profile held by the Republican incumbent who is finishing her first six-year term. […]

The committee would not comment on the ads and declined to say how much the group plans to spend. Multiple North Carolina television stations confirmed that the ad buy requested airtime starting Friday and through Aug. 11. Dole’s campaign said its own media research estimated the cost at $400,000.

(H/T: bear83)

August Election Preview: Races Worth Watching, Part II

In Part I of the August preview, we looked at the 8-5 runoff in Georgia and primaries in Kansas, Michigan, and Missouri, the 8-7 primary in Tennessee, and the 8-12 primary in Colorado.

August 19

WA-03, WA-08: Washington has switched back to a Top 2 primary system, in which candidates of all parties run against each other, and the top two finishers advance to the general election, regardless of party. In the past, the numbers from the all-party primary gave a good indication of the comparative strength of the major party candidates, drawing on a much larger sample than any poll. So all eyes will be on WA-08, where netroots heroine Darcy Burner will be up against Dave Reichert. (There is also at least one other Democrat in the race, Jim Vaughn, running well to Burner’s right. He has no money and isn’t expected to be a factor.)

Netroots goat Brian Baird also faces some intramural competition in WA-03 from peace activist Cheryl Crist. Baird should be reelected without any trouble, although Crist can’t be entirely disregarded, having made some waves at the 3rd District nominating convention (losing to Baird 59 to 24) and holding $8K CoH. The question will be whether those waves amount to more than a ripple in the broader population, or if there’s some discontent outside the activist base in this D+0 district.

WY-AL: Democrat Gary Trauner has been running for this R+19 seat for years now, losing by a small margin in 2006 to Barbara Cubin. Ding dong, she’s gone, but the question is who the GOP candidate to succeed her will be. A Research 2000 poll from May showed Trauner narrowly beating former Secretary of State Cynthia Lummis. Although she’s the best known Republican candidate, she’s not a sure thing; rancher Mark Gordon has more cash and released an internal poll showing him beating Lummis. (Trauner vs. Gordon wasn’t polled.)

August 26

AK-Sen: As recently as a few days ago, this race wasn’t on anyone’s mind. Then, things really took off: first, previously-unknown beardo Vic Vickers announced he’d be dropping $410,000 of his own money into the race. The following day, incumbent Ted Stevens was indicted for failing to report the value of free house renovations. The question, all of a sudden, was no longer whether Mark Begich could squeak by Stevens in the general, but whether Stevens would even survive the primary. Luckily for Uncle Ted, the anti-corruption vote is split a variety of different ways, including not just Vickers but ex-State Rep. Dave Cuddy, who challenged Stevens in the 1996 primary and can also self-finance. The Rasmussen poll from a few days ago didn’t poll the primary matchup, but shows beating any of those three by double-digit margins.

AK-AL: It’s unlikely that anything other than a Ted Stevens indictment could overshadow the battle for the at-large House seat in Alaska. Don Young, just as entrenched and corrupt as Stevens, faces a run through a primary gauntlet before even being able to think about the general. He’s up against Sean Parnell, the Lieutenant Governor from the ‘clean’ camp of the Alaska Republicans led by Governor Sarah Palin. Parnell is also being propped up with big media buys from the Club for Growth, but he’s suddenly pulled a disappearing act in the face of the mini-scandal surrounding the Governor. Another wrinkle in the race, though, is that State Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux is running too and pouring in a lot of her own money, (probably) unintentionally diluting the anti-Young vote. The most recent polling gives a four-point edge for Parnell, flipped from a three-point edge for Young in May.

So who’s going up against Young/Parnell in the general? There’s a primary to determine that, too. Former State House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz is favored, although Native activist Diane Benson, who mounted a surprisingly strong challenge to Young in 2006, is very much in the race.

FL-08: The Democratic primary to take on the underwhelming Ric Keller in this R+3 (and rapidly bluening) district has a crowded field. Businessman Charlie Stuart, who held Keller to a 53-46 result in 2006, is the likeliest winner. Lawyer Alan Grayson, who lost the 2006 primary to Stuart, is running to Stuart’s left and has stirred some netroots attention lately with his aggressive advertising, but he may making his move too late. More attorneys (Quoc Ba Van and Mike Smith) round out the field.

Keller can’t be considered entirely safe in his own primary, either: he’s facing a challenge from local radio host and attorney Todd Long, mostly over his breaking his self-imposed term limits pledge (and probably also his backbench ineffectiveness).

FL-15: Coulda, woulda, shoulda. This R+4 seat, open with the retirement of Dave Weldon, is a prime pick-up target for the Democrats. Unfortunately, DCCC recruitment efforts failed, and the two contenders for the nomination, physician Steve Blythe and commercial pilot/AF reserve officer Paul Rancatore, are both sitting on very little cash (less than $10K each). The primary winner could conceivably move this race back onto the map with an outside cash infusion, but this mostly serves to underscore the main need for Dems in Florida: to elect Dems at the legislative and county levels outside of the major cities in order to build a bench and affect redistricting.

FL-16: Three different Republicans try to out-conservative each other for the right to take on Tim Mahoney, a freshman Blue Dog who lucked into this seat via the Mark Foley scandal and seems to have a somewhat tenuous hold on it despite its R+2 status. Palm Beach Gardens councilman Hal Valeche seems to be occupying the religious right corner, lawyer Tom Rooney (nephew of Steelers owner Dan Rooney) is the money conservative, and State Rep. Gayle Harrell tries to grab a little from each column. The big endorsements seem to be going for Rooney, although I don’t know if they’re the kind of endorsements you necessarily want (Tom Feeney, ’06 substitute loser Joe Negron). Without any polling, though, it’s up in the air, and any of the three would be at a disadvantage in the general against Mahoney’s huge war chest.

AK-SEN: Begich Opens Big Lead, Stevens Still Leads Primary

I keep pinching myself over and over, but a new poll reported by the subsciption-only Roll Call has Mark Begich opening a huge lead over Ted Stevens while “Tubes” maintains a strong lead in the primary.

Indicted Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) has dropped far behind in the general election but maintains his lead in this month’s primary, according to polling data from both before and after the Alaska legend was indicted on seven felony counts earlier this week.

The Ivan Moore Research poll taken July 30-31 showed Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) leading Stevens, 56 percent to 35 percent, with more than 5 percent undecided.

A survey by the same pollster from July 18-22 – before the indictments were handed down – showed Begich leading Stevens, 51 percent to 43 percent.

The earlier poll had a sample size of 504 registered voters statewide and a margin of error of 4.4 points. The later survey, taken just over a day after news of Stevens’ indictments broke, polled 413 registered voters with a 4.8-point margin of error.

The poll also showed an 11-point drop in Stevens’ approval rating: From the first survey to the second survey, the percentage of people who had a positive impression of Stevens decreased from 55 percent to 44 percent.

Though Stevens faces six opponents in the Aug. 26 Republican primary, the poll showed him with a handsome lead over businessman Dave Cuddy, his chief competition. In the same July 30-31 survey, which polled 219 Republicans about the primary, Stevens scored 59 percent and Cuddy had 19 percent with about 20 percent undecided.

What can I say other than that we are watching our best-case scenario playing out right before our eyes.

August Election Preview: Races Worth Watching, Part I

After a quiet July, we’re back in the thick of primary season in August.

August 5

GA-Sen (Runoff): When we last checked in, the primary for the Democratic nomination for the Georgia Senate race had gone to a runoff, with none of the five candidates clearing 50% in the July 15 primary. Bush-enabling DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones led the field with 41%; ex-State Rep. Jim Martin came in second with 34%. This makes it look like Jones has the edge, but Martin has a good shot at consolidating the anti-Jones votes that were dispersed among the four white candidates. A late June poll shows Martin with a much better shot at beating Saxby Chambliss in the general than Jones has.

KS-02: Nancy Boyda, who won an upset victory in this R+7 district in 2006, has had to sit and wait while Jim Ryun, the former Representative that she beat, and Lynn Jenkins, the Kansas State Treasurer, beat the snot out of each other in the primary. (Ryun was one of the most conservative members of the House; Jenkins is considered a moderate, at least by Kansas standards.) Ryun and Jenkins have raised a fair amount of money, but have had to spend it on each other, and an internal poll from June gives Boyda a sizable edge over each one. Still, this is a Lean D race and Boyda is widely regarded as one of our most endangered incumbents.

MI-13: Representative Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick is in a three-way fight with ex-State Rep. Mary Waters and State Sen. Martha Scott in the Democratic primary. She’s a long-time incumbent, but scandal involving her son, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, is dragging her down, and a poll this week shows her in the lead but only with 33% of the vote.

MO-Gov: Representative Kenny Hulshof and State Treasurer Sarah Steelman are vying for the Republican nomination to succeed Governor Matt Blunt, retiring at the ripe old age of 37 in the face of massive unpopularity. Polling gives the edge to Hulshof in the primary, but either one of them looks like a speed bump in the road for four-term Attorney General Jay Nixon, making this the Dems’ likelist state house pick-up.

MO-09: Kenny Hulshof is leaving behind this open seat in his quest to become Governor, giving the Dems a good shot at picking up this R+7 seat (represented by conservative Dem Harold Volkmer before Hulshof). There are competitive primaries in both parties. On the GOP side, most of the action is between State Rep. Bob Onder and State Tourism Director Blaine Luetkemeyer. (Although the presence of ex-football star Brock Olivo keeps things lively.) Onder is backed by the Club for Growth, Luetkemeyer is backed by Missouri Right to Life, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch couldn’t bring itself to endorse either of them.

On the Dem side, the leading contenders are State Rep. Judy Baker and former State House Speaker Steve Gaw. Marion County Commissioner Lyndon Bode and ex-State Sen. Ken Jacob are also viable candidates. Baker (from the university town of Columbia) seems about as liberal as is viable in this district, Gaw is a bit to her right (although he did come out strongly against retroactive immunity) while the others are pretty Blue Doggish. Baker, who was running before Hulshof dropped out, leads the money chase. In absence of any polls, though, the race on both sides is a big question mark.

August 7

TN-09: Representative Steve Cohen, who picked up Harold Ford’s old Memphis-based seat in 2006, is being challenged by another one of the 2006 contenders, Nikki Tinker. Regrettably, this race has been defined by identity politics: race, gender, and religion, rather than ideology (which is important, as Cohen, the white guy, is quite progressive, while Tinker, the African-American woman, is running to his right). The district’s 60% African-American composition gives an advantage to Tinker, but internal polling in May gave a huge edge to Cohen. At D+18, it’s safe for the Dems in the general.

TN-01, TN-07: Two members of Tennessee’s wingnut patrol face primary challenges from other wingnuts hoping to capitalize on discontent within the wingnut base. In TN-01, freshman Rep. David Davis (who won the last primary with 22% of the vote) faces a rematch with 2006 contender Johnson City mayor Phil Roe. And in TN-07, Marsha Blackburn is up against Shelby County Register of Deeds Tom Leatherwood, who released an internal poll showing him within striking distance. These races don’t seem to be about much other than “my turn,” and Dems aren’t in a place to capitalize in these deep-red districts (R+14 and R+12), but they’re worth keeping an eye on.

August 12

CO-02: In this safe Dem (D+8) district based in Boulder, there’s a heated race to replace soon-to-be-Senator Mark Udall. State Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, Board of Education chairman and Internet entrepreneur Jared Polis, and Colorado Conservation Trust executive director Will Shafroth are all strong candidates. Conventional wisdom seems to mostly focus on Fitz-Gerald and the self-funding Polis, but Shafroth has picked up the major newspaper endorsements. Polis may be a smidge to the left of the other candidates (he’s openly gay and a Responsible Plan endorser).

CO-05: Doug Lamborn is another freshman wingnut who ruffled a lot of feathers in his first election (to the extent that his predecessor, Joel Hefley, refused to endorse him). He faces off against two of his 2006 challengers, former Hefley aide Jeff Crank and ex-AF Maj. Gen. Bentley Rayburn. Crank and Rayburn originally entered into a gentlemen’s agreement where one would drop out based on polling to avoid splitting the anti-Lamborn vote, but that agreement collapsed, leaving Crank and Rayburn attacking each other instead. It’s probably all for naught anyway, as their joint internal poll gives a big edge to Lamborn. Whoever wins has a big edge against Dem Hal Bidlack in this R+16 district.

CO-06: There’s a crowded field of Republicans trying to pick up where the retiring Tom Tancredo leaves off. Mike Coffman, the Colorado Secretary of State, seems to be slight front runner against businessman (and son of long-ago Senator Bill Armstrong) Wil Armstrong, according to Armstrong’s internal polling. Armstrong, despite not having held office, boasts some key endorsements, including retiring Sen. Wayne Allard and Mitt Romney. Two state senators, Ted Harvey and Steve Ward, are also vying for the seat. Local activist Steve Collins will represent the Dems in the general in this R+10 district.

Look for the 8-19 primaries in Washington and Wyoming, and the 8-26 primaries in Alaska and Florida, in Part II.

NC-Sen: Dole Leads By Eight in New Poll

Research 2000 for Daily Kos (7/28-30, likely voters, 4/28-30 in parens):

Kay Hagan (D): 42 (41)

Elizabeth Dole (R-inc): 50 (48)

(MoE: ±4%)

Those are very similar numbers to the most recent PPP poll, which had Dole up by 49-40. Markos makes the case that the numbers could be a tad inflated for Dole:

Yeah, this one is a tossup. And it’s likely even better than this. According to the 2004 exit polls African Americans made up 26 percent of the North Carolina electorate. The sample size of this poll is 22 percent black, and does anyone think black turnout will be down this year? Didn’t think so…

It’s worth noting that PPP used an even smaller sample of black voters in their poll, at 20%. PPP has also highlighted the African-American vote as one area where Dole overperforms other Republicans; in their poll, Hagan leads by 63-25 among black voters. However, this most recent R2K survey paints a much different picture, with blacks breaking for Hagan by an 81-7 margin. Conversely, R2K finds that Dole leads by 68-27 among white voters, while PPP pegs her lead at a tighter 55-35 among the group.

SSP currently rates this race as Lean Republican.

UPDATE: Tom Jensen over at PPP has debunked the 2004 exit poll composition here and here. (H/T: Political Realm)

Ed Whitfield and the LIvingston Group

For someone that talks so tough on Terror, Ed Whitfield sure doesn’t care much about it when money is involved. We have already seen how Ed Whitfield won’t let suspected terrorist ties, and criminal activity get in the way of his investments, and now we get another look inside the twisted, hypocritical world of this Kentucky Republican.

Disgraced Congressman Bob Livinston founded a lobbying firm, the Livingston Group after he resigned from Congress. Far from being “tough on terror”, this group decided to represent the Lybian regime in Washington, a regime guilty of the cold-blooded murder of 189 American citizens in 1988. This group also raised ethical concerns with their representation of Turkey in Washington after trying to secure a billion American dollars in Turkish aid, even after the Turkish Government refused to allow American troops to use Turkish soil as a staging point for the invasion of Iraq.

As it turns out, this group has been very friendly to Kentucky Republicans, including Exxon Ed Whitfield. Of course, when you recieve over$10 million in Turkish contributions, you have plenty to spread around. Unfortunately, the Turkish government didn’t come off of this money for nothing, as Livingston helped kill an amendment that sought to recognize the Armenian Genocide which occured from 1915 to 1923.

Of course, since Exxon Ed Whitfield had recieved money from the Livinston group, he opposed the amendment to recognize the genocide. Here is Exxon Ed Whitfield, bought and paid for by the Turkish government, via the Livingston Group opposing the amendment:

The citizens of Kentucky’s First Congressional District need a representative that fights for our interests, not one that is for sale to the highest bidder, no matter who it may be. All Exxon Eddie’s talk about being “tough on terror” is just that, talk. Sometimes terror pays more.

We have a great candidate in one of the poorest Congressional districts in the country. We need your help to get the word out on Exxon Ed Whitfield, and his auction house to the highest bidder. We don’t have foreign countries and powerful lobbying groups standing in line to fund us, and we need your help. Our district is 63% registered Democrat, and if we get our message to them we will win. Please, help us make that happen here:

Goal Thermometer

We can win this race, and expand our Congressional majorities with your help!!  

DCCC Unveils Fourth Round of Red to Blue Candidates

Here’s the list:

LA-07: Don Cravins

NV-02: Jill Derby

OH-02: Vic Wulsin

PA-03: Kathy Dahlkemper

VA-05: Tom Periello

VA-10: Judy Feder

MO-09: Winner of the August 5th primary

By and large, the DCCC is pressing into some very red turf with this round, showing even more aggressiveness. The full Red to Blue list to date can be found here.

Your thoughts?

AK-AL, AK-Sen: Parnell Won’t Switch to Senate Race

Alaska Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell emerges from his hidey hole to announce that he won’t be switching from the state’s at-large House race to make a run for the Senate:

Alaska Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell (R) has no intention of running for Senate – and he doesn’t expect his boss, Gov. Sarah Palin (R), to run in place of Sen. Ted Stevens (R), who has been indicted on seven counts and is awaiting trial.

“From my perspective, [a Senate bid is] not something that I’m considering, nor would I consider,” Parnell said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon.

Of course, as Crisitunity explained, the only way that Parnell would be able to run for Senate is if Stevens wins the primary and then drops out (or is disqualified by being convicted, which is not likely to happen this soon) 48 days or more before the general election. Nah gonna happen.