Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) pledged on Wednesday to “keep fighting” for Mississippi as he heads into a June 24 runoff against state Sen. Chris McDaniel.
And it’s a fight he’ll get, with national conservative groups signaling Tuesday their plans to, as FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe put it, “double down” on McDaniel in the runoff.
Cochran enters the race even more vulnerable than he was before, facing waning enthusiasm, increased scrutiny and lukewarm support from the national establishment, with one major GOP spending group, American Crossroads, opting to sit the runoff out.
But it’s an expensive problem for them to solve, especially with other electoral priorities looming. And it’s one that must be handled delicately, lest McDaniel nab the nomination despite the attacks and deliver Republicans a damaged nominee for the general.
Republican groups that supported Cochran in the primary are reportedly weighing their options for the runoff, and NRSC Chairman Jerry Moran indicated the committee would rather not spend significantly on the race.
The Club for Growth on Wednesday called for Cochran to drop out. By the end of the primary, it seems some mainstream Republicans may be wishing he had.
VULNERABLE LAWMAKERS DELETE BERGDAHL PRAISE: A number of Republicans and at least one Democrat have rescinded their congratulations for the returned Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl after reports surfaced that five Taliban militants were sent to Qatar in exchange for Bergdahl's return, and the administration's failure to warn Congress about the swap.
VULNERABLE DEMS URGE MEDICAID EXPANSION: Some of the most vulnerable Democratic senators have signed on to a Wednesday letter asking Republican governors to "put politics aside" and expand Medicaid coverage under ObamaCare.
LA-SEN (LANDRIEU): Vulnerable Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu admitted Wednesday that her highly touted chairmanship on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee might not allow her to dive into the administration's new climate rule as much as she'd like.
SD-SEN (OPEN): Former South Dakota Republican Senate candidate Annette Bosworth reportedly turned herself into the police for charges of perjury surrounding her nomination petitions.
KY-SEN (MCCONNELL): The campaign war over coal rages on in the Kentucky Senate race, with Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes and a pro-Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) group, Kentucky Opportunity Coalition,launching new ads on the issue on Wednesday. Meanwhile, McConnell became nearly $3 million richer in 2013, according to new financial disclosure records.
NH-SEN (SHAHEEN): Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown announced Wednesday he’s resigning from the board of Global Digital Solutions Inc., a murky company whose executives were sued in 2012 for allegedly committing securities fraud. He had come under scrutiny for his connections to the company, and said in a statement he was resigning because “my continued role with the company would be an unnecessary and unwanted distraction.”
OR-SEN (MERKLEY): Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) released his first television ad of the cycle, a positive spot touting his ties to the state,“middle-class roots” and work in the Senate. Meanwhile, Merkley’s campaign blasted his Republican opponent, Monica Wehby, for a report showing she missed 16 of the state’s 31 elections that have occurred since she registered to vote in the state, compared to Merkley missing only one out of 47.
WV-SEN (TENNANT): The West Virginia Democratic Party went on offense against Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the Republican nominee for Senate there, with Chairman Larry Puccio declaring in a statement that “West Virginians should be outraged be Congresswoman Capito’s callous votes against the health and safety of West Virginia coal miners,” pointing to her votes for Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget, which Democrats say slashed funding for mine safety programs.
IA-SEN (OPEN): Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) wasted no time going on the attack against Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) following her Tuesday primary win, releasing an ad blasting the hog-castrating Republican’s lack of accomplishments in the statehouse. "Joni Ernst ads are hard to forget, but her record just doesn't cut it," the ad says.
SC-SEN (GRAHAM): Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is likely to reach the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff in next Tuesday’s primary, according to a new poll from Clemson University. Graham is at 49 percent in the poll, with 35 percent of voters undecided and none of his opponents in double digits.
Graham on Wednesday threatened a GOP push for the impeachment of President Obama if Obama releases any more Guantánamo Bay prisoners without first clearing the decision with Congress. Attacking Obama on national security has been a big part of Graham’s reelection strategy, as he’s created the perfect template to dismantle a Tea Party threat.
GA-SEN (OPEN): Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), who finished in fourth place in Georgia’s Senate primary, endorsed former rival and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) over businessman David Perdue.
BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE
CA HOUSE: It appears that both parties have managed to avoid major nomination issues in California’s unpredictable primaries. Democrats seem to have dodged a bullet in retiring Rep. Gary Miller’s (R-Calif.) seat, where Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (D) is clinging to second place, avoiding another cycle where two Republicans advance in the Democratic-leaning district.
The GOP, meanwhile, avoided nominating a firebrand for governor that many worried could drag down the rest of the ticket.
Both parties got the candidates they wanted in most other House races, though Democrats failed to get through a candidate for retiring Rep. Buck McKeon’s (R-Calif.) seat, ending their already-slim chances in his district.
The races for a number of open seats were winnowed as well.
IA-3 (OPEN)/IA-1 (OPEN): The GOP nomination battle to replace retiring Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) is heading to a party convention, while both sides picked their nominees for Rep. Bruce Braley’s (D-Iowa) seat.
MS-04 (PALAZZO): Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) beat back a primary challenge from former Democratic Rep. Gene Taylor when The Associated Press called the 4th District race Wednesday afternoon.
ME-02 (OPEN): Maine state Sen. Emily Cain holds a wide lead over state Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson in the Democratic primary, according to a new survey, conducted by pro-Cain League of Conservation Voters. She takes 60 percent among likely primary voters to his 25 percent support.
NY-19 (GIBSON): The Chamber of Commerce today endorsed vulnerable GOP Rep. Chris Gibson for reelection, who’s facing a challenge from Democrat Sean Eldridge in a top pickup opportunity for Democrats.
WV-03 (RAHALL): The American Energy Alliance is linking Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) to President Obama's proposal limiting carbon emissions from existing power plants with new ads, despite the congressman's intention to fight the anti-pollution rules.
CLINTON: Russian President Vladimir Putin was none too polite about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. After being asked in a French interview about Clinton's recent tough rhetoric on Russia's foreign policy, Putin said "It's better not to argue with women” and later characterized Clinton's comments as a sign of weakness, which is maybe "not the worst quality for a woman.”
Clinton, meanwhile, is stepping into the spotlight with her new book tour.
CHRISTIE: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is heading back to early-voting New Hampshire to fundraise for a GOP gubernatorial candidate.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"Well, that's news to me.”
—South Dakota Senate candidate Annette Bosworth (R), finding out on national television that she’d lost her primary