CAMPAIGN OVERNIGHT: Dems see equal pay as campaign gold

Democrats have seized on equal pay as a winning election-year issue, and saw a rare opportunity on Tuesday to make moves in Washington that could give them ammunition against Republicans in competitive races nationwide.

President Obama on Tuesday took several actions designed to promote pay equality, including the adoption of an executive order barring federal contractors from retaliating against workers who discuss their pay.

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House Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday slammed their Republican counterparts for refusing to vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a measure designed to require businesses to provide equal pay for equal work.

Senate Democrats will take up a similar measure on Wednesday. Though it’s unlikely to make it through the upper chamber, the move gives the party an opportunity to hit an issue it believes not only motivates a core Democratic constituency — single women — but could also help sway persuadable voters in their direction.

Meanwhile, Democratic candidates across the nation hammered their Republican opponents on the issue, with Amanda Renteria, running in a top-targeted race against Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.), and Ann Callis, in another top race against Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), just two of the candidates homing in on it.

SENATE SHOWDOWN

REID CONFIDENT OF DEMS' CHANCES—NOW: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) claimed Democrats would keep control of the Senate if the election were held Tuesday, despite growing sentiment among handicappers that Republicans would triumph.

OK-SEN (OPEN): Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) is staffing up with a team of high-profile consultants for his campaign to replace retiring Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), according to information shared first with The Hill. He’s hired Ed Goeas of the Tarrance Group as his pollster, John Brabender of BrabenderCox for his media, Tyler Harber of Harden Global for his national and online communications and Glenn Coffee of Coffee and Associates as legal counsel.

The team has deep national and local ties — Goeas is polling for Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R); Brabender was Rick Santorum’s senior strategist on his 2012 presidential race; Coffee is a former Oklahoma secretary of State; Harber has worked for candidates in top Senate races nationwide — and is an indication Lankford is preparing to ramp up his activity in the competitive primary.

Meanwhile, a new outside group with ties to major GOP donor Bob Perry, the First Amendment Alliance Educational Fund, is up on air with an ad declaring Lankford “fought President Obama’s intrusive government that risks our freedoms and way of life.”

Former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon also went up with a new ad this week, hitting President Obama on welfare programs and touching on his religious background, a common theme in his campaign messaging. “When government becomes the provider, all of God’s children suffer,” Shannon says in the ad, touting a bill he pushed requiring welfare recipients to work for their benefits during his time as Speaker.

AR-SEN (PRYOR): Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) has a slight lead over Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) in a new independent poll of the Senate race, with 46 percent to 43 percent for Cotton in the Talk Business Arkansas/Hendrix College poll.

LA-SEN (LANDRIEU): Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), the leading Republican contender in the Louisiana Senate race, put on his stethoscope (metaphorically) during a flight from New Orleans to Baltimore on Monday, when he helped revive a passenger who lost consciousness on the flight.

MS-SEN (COCHRAN): State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) is gaining on Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) in a new survey from Republican firm Harper Polling, which shows Cochran taking 52 percent support to McDaniel’s 35 percent support among likely Republican primary voters. That’s an improvement from a 24-point deficit for McDaniel in another Harper survey, out in December.

SC-SEN (GRAHAM): Disgraced former South Carolina state Treasurer Thomas Ravenel (R) — who spent 10 months in prison after pleading guilty to cocaine possession charges, and now stars in a reality television show on Bravo — is floating a bid against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) as an independent.

CO-SEN (UDALL), IA-SEN (OPEN): Freedom Partners, another conservative group affiliated with the Koch brothers, is up with new ads attacking Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) for supporting ObamaCare.

The group is also set to go on the air in Michigan, according to the Sunlight Foundation.

GA-SEN (OPEN): The conservative super-PAC Ending Spending is airing ads accusing Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) of being a big spender, the first direct attacks on the congressman of the election cycle.

Gingrey, meanwhile, is going up with new ads promising to repeal ObamaCare in his first term or retire from the Senate.

And Democrat Michelle Nunn came out in support of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, the controversial proposed pipeline that has Republican support but opposition from many Democrats and environmentalists. A number of Democrats friendly to oil and gas also facing tough races in red states, like Sens. Mary Landrieu (La.) and Mark Begich (Alaska), also support the pipeline, in contrast to the majority of their party.

MI-SEN (OPEN): Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) leads former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) by 41 percent to 36 percent in a new poll from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling. Most polls have found a tight race in the state.

Land, meanwhile, is facing questions about her family closing the trailer park they owned where she said she learned her work ethic.

VA-SEN (WARNER): Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) leads former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie (R) by 49 percent to 35 percent, according to a new poll from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling conducted for the liberal group MoveOn.org. 

NE-SEN (OPEN): Nebraska Republican Senate candidate Ben Sasse made his fight against ObamaCare personal in a new Web video, which features him, his wife and daughters discussing a health scare they faced when his wife suffered an aneurism — and the subsequent medical bills they tackled, which Sasse says has inspired his opposition to the healthcare law.

 

BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE

LA-5 (MCALLISTER): Rep. Vance McAllister’s (R-La.) affair with a staffer hasn’t caused him to rethink running for reelection and he has no plans to resign, he said Monday night, but it’s sure to dog him as messy details continue to emerge — like the proclamation from the husband of his mistress that “he has wrecked my life.”

MI-8 (OPEN): Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum (D) has opted out of a run for retiring Rep. Mike Rogers's (R-Mich.) seat, after meeting last week with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and EMILY's List to discuss the race. Her decision leaves the party without a strong recruit in a potentially competitive race.

NC-3 (JONES): Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) is up with a radio ad attacking his primary opponent, former Bush administration staffer Taylor Griffin (R), as a “Washington insider.” Griffin is out with a new TV ad touting his work in the Bush administration and for former Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.).

ID-2 (SMITH): Tea Party candidate Bryan Smith (R) is up with his first ad against Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), attacking him for his support of earmarks. Smith’s campaign is spending $25,000 on the ad buy.

WV-03 (RAHALL): Democratic super-PAC House Majority PAC went on air with another ad boosting Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), one of the party’s most vulnerable incumbents. The ad charges that Rahall’s Republican opponent, state Sen. Evan Jenkins (R), tried to delay a water safety bill meant to prevent a chemical spill similar to the one that recently devastated parts of the state.

VA-10 (OPEN): Virginia Del. Barbara Comstock (R) has 44 percent support in a new survey of the GOP primary to replace retiring Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), which was conducted by Citizens United, a group supporting her bid. Her next-closest challenger, Virginia Del. Bob Marshall (R), has just 10 percent support, and four other challengers are at or below 3 percent support in the race.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

NRSC: The National Republican Senatorial Committee raised $6.35 million in March, the group's biggest fundraising month of the election cycle, and has $15.87 million in the bank, a $3 million increase from what it had on hand a month ago. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has yet to release its March fundraising totals but it has been outpacing the NRSC in recent months.

AK-SEN (BEGICH): Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) raised roughly $1 million and has $2.8 million cash on hand.

MT-SEN (WALSH): Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) raised $945,000 in the first quarter and has $700,000 left in the bank after spending $685,000 during that period, including approximately $200,000 on television.

NC-SEN (HAGAN): Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) pulled in $2.8 million over the last three months and has $8.3 million in the bank. Her likely GOP opponent in the general, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, raised $1.3 million over the same period and has $1.3 million in the bank

IL-10 (SCHNEIDER): Rep. Brad Schneider (D) raised more than $550,000 in the first quarter and more than $1.3 million cash on hand for his rematch with former Rep. Bob Dold (R). Dold raised $520,000 in the same period and also ended with nearly $1.3 million in the bank.

IL-11 (FOSTER): Rep. Bill Foster (D) has raised more than $460,000 in the first quarter of 2014, finishing with $1.1 million cash on hand.

IA-4 (KING): Democrat Jim Mowrer, a former Biden campaign staffer, raised $350,000 and has $450,000 for his race against Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) in King’s Republican-leaning district.

NM-2: Former Eddy County Commissioner Rocky Lara (D) raised more than $300,000 in the first quarter of 2014, ending with more than $440,000 on hand.

2016 WATCH

JINDAL TO THE PALMETTO STATE: Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) will headline the South Carolina GOP’s Silver Elephant dinner, the key early primary state’s major fundraising event.

WALKER CAP-AND-GOWNING IT? Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is hoping to finish his college degree online, a spokeswoman said, a move that would eliminate a likely hurdle to his potential 2016 presidential run.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"This is the Congress of the United States of America. This is the House of Representatives of the United States of America. This is not a frat House." — Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) on Tuesday, who said she would introduce legislation requiring all members and staff to undergo sexual harassment training in the wake of a video showing a freshman Republican member kissing a staff member