What kind of a senator will Ben Sasse be?
That’s the open question now that Ben Sasse has nabbed the Republican nomination for Senate in Nebraska. Multiple reports out the morning after he handily defeated his primary challenger have highlighted his establishment roots, his more centrist positions, his support for immigration reform and his conciliatory tone toward the establishment — aspects of his candidacy that were prevalent all along but largely subsumed by the pile-on of conservative endorsements and fanfare surrounding the possibility of his being “the next Ted Cruz.”
But Sasse can’t forget the conservative support that helped bring him to the Senate. And he can’t ignore the fact that some of it was predicated upon the assumption that he’d be less likely to work with the D.C. establishment than his opponents.
It appears he’ll try to carve out a middle road, launching a new generation of Tea Party pragmatists for whom compromise is more of a legislating tool than a dirty word. But if that’s the case, the biggest question becomes: Will it work? Can he bite the hand that fed him without repercussions? We’ll have to wait until Mr. Sasse comes to Washington to find out.
IA-SEN (OPEN): Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) has endorsed former radio host and Senate underdog Sam Clovis (R) in the crowded GOP primary.
Businessman Mark Jacobs (R) says Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) is “shooting blanks” in his first attack ad in the race.
CO-SEN (UDALL), NH-2 (KUSTER): Americans for Prosperity is spending an overall $850,000 on ads attacking Rep. Ann Kuster (D-N.H.) on ObamaCare and boosting Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), the GOP candidate for Senate in Colorado, for his support for the Keystone oil pipeline and balancing the budget.
Meanwhile, an ad for the American Energy Alliance targeted Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) in a new ad that labels him as anti-Keystone XL.
KY-SEN (MCCONNELL): The New York Times looked at the role former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, the Senate minority leader’s wife, is playing in his reelection fight — helping to raise money and softening his image on the campaign trail.
Meanwhile, Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, a super-PAC that’s backing Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) reelection bid, has slammed his Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, for taking donations from Obama backers. But a Courier-Journal report reveals the super-PAC also received contributions from Obama donors. Grimes’s campaign adviser Jonathan Hurst called it "hypocrisy at its greatest level."
SD-SEN (OPEN): Former Gov. Mike Rounds (R), the front-runner for the GOP Senate nomination in South Dakota, leads his likely Democratic opponent, Rick Weiland, by 14 percent in a new poll conducted by Survey USA and sponsored by KSFY News, KOTA-TV in Rapid City and the Aberdeen American News.
MS-SEN (COCHRAN): Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-Miss.) primary challenger, Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, goes negative in his new ad, hammering Cochran for supporting “wasteful” spending.
MT-SEN (WALSH): Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) is out with a new ad saying Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) “has gotten comfortable with Washington double-speak” and that his company laid off Montana workers while shipping jobs overseas.
BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE
CA-31 (OPEN): A Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee poll obtained by The Hill shows Democrats might need to be concerned two Republicans could emerge from the all-party primary a deprive them of a top pickup opportunity.
PA-13 (OPEN): Former Rep. Marjorie Margolies (D-Pa.) features former President Clinton in her newest ad. Margolies is facing a tough battle to win back her old seat.
TX-4 (HALL): Former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) endorsed Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas) in his competitive primary.
ID-2 (SIMPSON): Tea Party candidate Bryan Smith (R) slams “liberal” Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) for distorting his record in his latest ad ahead of Tuesday’s primary.
NE-02 (TERRY): Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) isn’t fazed by his slim win margin in Tuesday night’s primary. "We won; that's the major issue,” he told The Associated Press.
NJ-3 (OPEN): Retiring Rep. Jon Runyan (R) endorsed former Randolph Mayor Tom MacArthur in the GOP primary to replace him, over former U.S. Senate candidate Steve Lonegan, in another effort by the establishment to beat back Lonegan’s candidacy, which Republicans fear could jeopardize their hold on the seat.
MI-11 (BENTIVOLIO): The U.S. Chamber of Commerce officially endorsed businessman Dave Trott (R) against Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.).
NV-3 (HECK): Democrat Erin Bilbray trails Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.) in her internal poll by 39 percent to 31 percent.
PA-8 (FITZPATRICK): Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) endorsed Shaughnessy Naughton (D) in her primary against Kevin Strouse (D).
VA-7 (CANTOR): The Washington Post reports on indications Rep. Eric Cantor's (R-Va.) Tea Party opponent is picking up momentum.
BOSOM BUDDIES: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) praised former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) during a financial speech Wednesday, saying it'd be "fun" to run alongside his "friend" in a potential 2016 GOP presidential primary. Christie said whether Bush runs wouldn’t influence his own decision, continuing that “the only positive is that I know” if the two run against each other is “I'd have fun with Jeb on the campaign trail.”
Christie also continued to push back on the George Washington Bridge scandal that’s overshadowed his administration, again saying it won’t have any impact on his political future “because I didn't do anything. ... All of a sudden a couple of staff people do something that they shouldn't have done. I fired them and that becomes the biggest story in the country for a couple of months because I guess you guys weren't doing anything else down here so this is what needed to be focused on. Right?"
GO GO GREEN: Billionaire Tom Steyer's environmental group is using its social media prowess to hit Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on his recent climate change comments.
CAN’T STOP, WON’T WAIT: With the Democratic field essentially frozen until Hillary Clinton makes a decision, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) isn’t waiting idly by — and he’s letting her know. Politico reports he “told political allies at a closed-door meeting in mid-April that he called Clinton, who told him he should do what he needs to do. For him, that includes visiting early primary states, campaigning and fundraising for fellow Democrats, and growing his political network.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“First they say she faked her concussion, now they say she's auditioning for a part on 'The Walking Dead.' "
— Bill Clinton, saying he was “dumbfounded” by Karl Rove’s questions about Hillary’s health after a blood clot last year