OVERNIGHT CAMPAIGN: Off-color comments or a candidate's character?

Chris McDaniel, the Republican challenging Sen. Thad Cochran (R) in his primary, has already faced scrutiny for controversial comments he’s made on race during his time as a radio disc jockey, though none of those unearthed comments have yet to sink his campaign.

But on Tuesday, fresh recordings surfaced in which McDaniel railed against the prospect of paying the descendants of slaves and joked about the Spanish language, among other things.

And then, just hours later, more cropped up — including a suggestion that “the only thing that could make the campaign more libertarian" for a 2006 candidate for Alabama governor " is a heroin needle in her arm.”

The comments, as they pile up, become more of a liability for McDaniel, who’s seen as conservatives’ best shot at nabbing a win against a sitting senator this cycle.

With a steady string of similar statements, they may be seen less as incidents or off-color jokes and more as evidence of the candidate’s character. And character, in politics, can often be a strong asset — and an even stronger liability, if a candidate’s character is blackened.


MANCHIN DEFENDS KOCHS: Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who represents deep-red West Virginia, on Thursday criticized members of his party for trying to "beat up" Republican donors Charles and David Koch — countering the extended offensive campaign Democrats have launched against the brothers, who are spending millions in competitive House and Senate races on Democratic attacks this cycle.

SENATE DEMS ON OFFENSE ON RYAN BUDGET: Democrats ripped the six House Republicans running for Senate seats for their Thursday votes in favor of Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget.

GA-SEN (OPEN): All three Republican congressmen running for Senate voted against Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget — including two who’ve backed it in the past, Reps. Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston. Many other Republicans who voted against the budget, from the left and right, are in competitive races as well.

OK-SEN (OPEN): Former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon has risen in the state’s GOP Senate primary almost as quickly as he rose to national prominence within the national party, and now trails Rep. James Lankford (R) by just 9 points in one survey of the race, conducted by a group supporting him. One source says Lankford is in fact nervous, but Lankford himself told The Hill he wasn’t worried and that Shannon’s campaign has been playing a “political game” and the narrative that he’s surging is mere “spin.”

IA-SEN (BRALEY): The Senate Majority PAC is out with a new ad seeking to shore up Rep. Bruce Braley's (D-Iowa) standing with farmers and blue-collar workers following fallout over his "farmer from Iowa" comments. "We don't pay attention to what people say, we look at what they do," a farmer says in the ad.

MN-SEN (FRANKEN): Businessman Mike McFadden, the GOP establishment’s favorite, had a rocky press conference with local Minnesota reporters on Thursday, avoiding direct answers to a number of questions on his positions.

NH-SEN (SHAHEEN): EMILY’s List, the group working to elect pro-choice Democratic female candidates, is launching a new online campaign targeted to female voters in New Hampshire, hammering Scott Brown on women’s issues. Meanwhile, a new poll from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, conducted for pro-Shaheen League of Conservation Voters, shows her with an 8-point lead over Brown.


HOUSE DEMS ON OFFENSE ON RYAN BUDGET: House Democratic candidates vying to unseat Republican opponents who supported the GOP 2015 budget on Thursday are highlighting those votes as a key campaign issue.

IA-1 (OPEN): Democrat Patrick Murphy is out with his first ad for his primary to replace Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), a positive spot featuring his family.

LA-5 (MCALLISTER): The storm grew for embattled Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.) on Thursday, as both the chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party and Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) asked him to resign, after a video showing him kissing a married staffer surfaced. He may have a friend in the Democratic Party, though, in former Gov. Edwin Edwards, who said he “empathize[s]” with the congressman. And there could be a clear replacement for McAllister if he does step down in the old seat-holder, Rodney Alexander, who said he’d be open to running for the seat.

McAllister’s strategy to weather that storm? Lay low.


AK-SEN (BEGICH): Alaska Senate candidate Dan Sullivan (R) has hauled in $1.3 million in the last three months, outpacing Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) for the quarter. He has almost $2 million in the bank.

IA-SEN (OPEN): Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) announced Thursday that he raised $1.25 million and has $3.1 million cash on hand.

NH-SEN (SHAHEEN): Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) raised more than $1.5 million in the first quarter and has $4.35 million cash on hand. Meanwhile, Scott Brown, her main Republican rival in the race, started his bid Thursday night.

CA-25 (OPEN): Former state Sen. Tony Strickland (R ) raised $400,000 in the two months he’s been in the race and has $640,000 in the bank for a competitive all-party primary and general election for Rep. Buck McKeon’s (R-Calif.) seat.

CA-52 (PETERS): Rep. Scott Peters (D) raised $455,000 in the first quarter and has almost $1.5 million in the bank, he announced. His opponent, Carl DeMaio (R), previously announced a $410,000 quarter with $1.2 million in the bank.

2016 WATCH

CARTER CRITICIZES CLINTON: Former President Carter says Hillary Clinton “took very little action” as secretary of State to bring about peace. Meanwhile, Clinton faced a flying object, presumed to be a shoe, thrown by a woman at the former secretary of State during a Las Vegas speech.

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