CAMPAIGN OVERNIGHT: Will Weiland be left to the wolves in SD?

With the South Dakota candidate filing deadline passing today, Democrats are left with a third-choice candidate who’s been publicly trashed by party leaders in the competitive Senate race.

And Rick Weiland, the former FEMA staffer and the only Democrat in the race, hasn’t yet managed to win some Washington Democrats over.

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In an interview last summer, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) declared Weiland is “not my choice,” sparking a rare public feud between the senator and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), for whom Weiland worked and who’s backing him in the race.

A Reid aide confirmed Daschle met with the majority leader to discuss Weiland's candidacy, but said he remains “skeptical.”

"Senator Daschle has been an advocate for Rick Weiland; however, Senator Reid is skeptical. In the end, it will be up to Rick Weiland to prove he is capable of winning the race and that is going to take time," the aide told The Hill.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is expected to ultimately endorse Weiland. But its silence on the race so far — South Dakota has routinely been left off its list of competitive races, and committee aides have privately insisted for months they’d recruit a stronger candidate — speaks as loudly as Reid’s skepticism.

With an expanding Senate map, an increasingly difficult political climate for the party and outside GOP groups prepared to significantly outspend Democratic groups, South Dakota looks like the blue state most likely to be left to the wolves this cycle.

SENATE SHOWDOWN

PARTIES TIED, BUT GOP MAY HAVE EDGE: Democrats and Republicans each took 43 percent of the vote on a generic congressional ballot in a George Washington University battleground poll released today. However, the survey indicated Democrats could be hurt by opposition to ObamaCare, and that their strategy to attack the big-spending Republican Koch brothers could ultimately be ineffective because a majority of voters have never heard of them.

IOWA (OPEN): Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) was caught on video dissing Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) as a “farmer from Iowa who never went to law school” and suggesting he’s not qualified to serve as the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman — footage Republicans jumped on that will likely reemerge in fall campaign ads. Braley apologized in a statement.

MAINE (COLLINS): The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has endorsed Shenna Bellows, its only candidate challenging Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, a week after the candidate filing deadline passed in Maine. Collins is not considered vulnerable.

KENTUCKY (MCCONNELL): Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) opponents pounced on a new Web video launched by his campaign today that featured a shot of Duke University’s Blue Devils — bitter rivals of the University of Kentucky — celebrating their 2010 National Championship win. Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes’s campaign said it showed “he has been in Washington so long he does not even know the difference between Kentucky and Duke basketball.” McConnell’s campaign eventually took down the revised video altogether over concerns it had violated NCAA rules.

Meanwhile, national conservative group FreedomWorks is hosting a trio of conservative candidates in Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) backyard next month, for its FreePAC Kentucky conference. Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-Miss.) primary challenger, and California Republican House candidate Igor Birman, running for Rep. Ami Bera’s (D) seat, along with McConnell’s primary challenger Matt Bevin, will attend.

NORTH CAROLINA (HAGAN): The GOP super-PAC American Crossroads has reserved $1.1 million in airtime ahead of North Carolina’s primaries, a sign it will launch a major offensive to help GOP establishment favorite Thom Tillis (R) win his competitive Senate primary.

NEVADA (REID): The Federal Election Committee is asking Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to explain the listing of more than $16,000 in holiday gifts in a campaign filing, according to a report.

MICHIGAN (OPEN): Americans for Prosperity released yet another ad, backed by $1.5 million, attacking Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.). The new ad features a Michigan woman who says her family lost her healthcare plan because of ObamaCare and calling her new plan "not affordable at all." An AFP spokesman declined to provide documentation to back up the affordability claim because "that's not what the ad is about."

BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE

HOYER: DON’T ‘SHUCK AND JIVE’ ON OBAMACARE: House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday that Democrats can’t run from ObamaCare this cycle, even as polling shows persistent public disappointment with the law. "We think it's good for America. We supported it, and we still do. ... And I urge my members to go out and embrace it,” he said at a press briefing on Capitol Hill. "Now we can ... shuck and jive and, you know, bob and weave and duck and hide," he added, "[but] I don't think that works."

(FL-2, MT-AL): The centrist NewDemPAC endorsed Gwen Graham (D) in her bid against Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) and John Lewis (D) in his bid for Montana's open at-large House seat.

CA-17 (HONDA): Democrat Ro Khanna released his first TV ad in his race against Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), promising to "never take money from corporations or lobbyists" if he wins his race.

ID-2 (SIMPSON): Rep. Mike Simpson's (R-Idaho) campaign is out with a new TV ad, blasting his Tea Party opponent for being a "personal injury lawyer who's enriched himself by filing over 10,000 lawsuits [and] opposed conservatives' efforts to limit frivolous lawsuits and outrageous payouts."

TX-4 (HALL): The conservative Club for Growth and The Madison Project endorsed former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe (R ) against Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas), giving him a boost against Congress’s oldest member.

CO-06 (COFFMAN): Shortly after Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), the top GOP pick to take on Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), disavowed his previous support for so-called "personhood" measures, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), a top Democratic target, reversed his position as well.

 

2016 WATCH

LYLAS, THOUGH? Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) admitted that she and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton aren’t “besties.” The two are known to have had an icy relationship since McCaskill made disparaging comments about Bill Clinton and endorsed then-Illionis Sen. Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential primary, though McCaskill was one of the first sitting lawmakers to endorse her for 2016. Grammy award-winning musician Pharrell Williams, however, was enthusiastic in his support for Clinton in an interview with GQ.

BIDEN AND RUBIO TO THE GRANITE STATE: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) will be the latest potential Republican presidential hopeful to stop in the early primary state of New Hampshire when he headlines the Rockingham County Republican Committee's fundraiser on May 9 in New Castle, N.H. Meanwhile, Vice President Biden was in New Hampshire today touting the administration’s efforts on job training and raising money for the state’s two Democratic congresswomen and its governor — but he declined to say whether the visit hinted at a presidential run in his future.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I'm Joni Ernst. I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm. So when I get to Washington, I'll know how to cut pork." — Iowa GOP Senate candidate Joni Ernst in a new campaign ad, followed by a squealing pig for added effect

 

Please send tips and comments to Campaign Editor Jessica Taylor, jtaylor@thehill.com; and Campaign Staff Writers Cameron Joseph, cjoseph@thehill.com; and Alexandra Jaffe, ajaffe@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @JessicaTaylor @cam_joseph and @ajjaffe.