CAMPAIGN OVERNIGHT: Surprises in store for Senate primaries?

Recent polling is showing a number of May Senate primaries still in flux, with candidates potentially headed for upsets over the next few weeks.

In Georgia, two new polls — one conducted by InsiderAdvantage and Opinionsavvy for Atlanta’s Fox affiliate, one by Rep. Jack Kingston’s (R-Ga.) campaign — show former Georgia secretary of State Karen Handel surging to a potential second-place finish in the primary, which is expected to head to a runoff. She surpasses businessman David Perdue for second in the first poll and lags him by just 3 points, with 14 percent, in Kingston’s poll. He leads both.

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In Nebraska, a poll out this week from Midland University President Ben Sasse’s campaign this week showed him in the lead with 31 percent support, followed by former state Treasurer Shane Osborn 6 points behind and businessman Sid Dinsdale surging to 22 points. Another poll of the race, out Thursday from the Tea Party Express, shows a slightly different story, with Sasse and Osborn in a statistical tie and Dinsdale taking 13 percent.

But that survey indicates Osborn’s standing among Tea Party voters has taken a hit, possibly due to the negative attacks he’s launched on Sasse. Dinsdale could draw that support away, and if his surge continues there’s the potential for an upset like the one that catapulted Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) to the Senate last cycle.

The final chapter has been written on some primaries — but in others, there’s still room for surprise.

 

SENATE SHOWDOWN

OR-SEN (MERKLEY): The perfect storm of policy and personality could collide in Oregon’s Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby, the pediatric neurosurgeon who has the GOP high on their chances against Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley in the traditionally blue state. She has to make it through a competitive primary first, though, and scant polling makes it hard to handicap the race, but she’s nabbed the endorsement of a number of big-name Republican figures — on Thursday, former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney became her newest backer — and the support of two outside groups. She’s taking fire for declining the GOP primary’s only televised debate, however.

NE-SEN (OPEN): Midland University President Ben Sasse and former state Treasurer Shane Osborn are in a statistical tie in the Nebraska Senate Republican primary, according to a new survey of the race conducted for Tea Party Express. But the race is still fluid, and an outside group with ties to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — who is reportedly opposed to Sasse — is spending a little over $100,000 on ads attacking Sasse as a “liberal” and “the ObamaCare supporter."

KY-SEN (MCCONNELL): Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he will back his primary challenger, businessman Matt Bevin, if Bevin nabs the nomination this month. But Bevin hasn’t yet said whether he’d do the same for McConnell, opening the possibility that the GOP conflict could carry on through the general election and impact McConnell’s chances against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

LA-SEN (LANDRIEU): A Louisiana resident has filed an ethics complaint against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D), alleging that she improperly used “state-funded resources” and so may have received an illegal contribution from the state when she used the Louisiana State Capitol to film a reenactment of a Senate hearing for a campaign ad.

CO-SEN (UDALL): Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) said late Thursday that he is replacing his proposal to expedite liquefied natural gas exports with a bill sponsored by Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who is challenging Udall for his seat. Republicans said the move smacked of “desperation” from a Senator “worried about losing his job.”

BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE

Pelosi ducks: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday dismissed the notion that she'll be a liability on the campaign trail this year for Democrats.

DCCC HITS LAWMAKERS ON SCANDAL: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has launched a stand-alone website highlighting the wide array of scandals plaguing House Republicans.

ID-2 (SIMPSON): Rep. Mike Simpson’s (R-Idaho) Tea Party opponent, Bryan Smith, is out with a new ad featuring his wife saying she’s “shocked by the false things said” about him in the campaign.


MI-13 (CONYERS): Rep. John Conyers’s (D-Mich.) primary opponent is challenging the validity of the signatures he collected to get on the ballot, potentially threatening his reelection chances.

2016 WATCH

BUSH: Former President George W. Bush on Thursday said he hopes his brother Jeb runs for president in 2016, but added he has “no clue” what’s on his mind.

CLINTON: A new poll shows Hillary Clinton ahead of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) in his home state, taking 49 percent support to 41 percent support among Florida registered voters. 

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"He is a caricature, but there are folks who are back there whose desire is just to continue to be there. They want to accumulate power for the sake of accumulating power. As opposed to accumulating influence in order to achieve an agenda — something you want to get done for your constituents or for America."

—Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kans.), comparing real-life lawmakers to "House of Cards" protagonist Frank Underwood

—This piece was updated to correct a characterization of pollster InsiderAdvantage and Opinionsavvy as "relatively unknown."