CAMPAIGN OVERNIGHT: Candidates celebrate Cantor foe's win as their own

Everybody wanted a piece of Dave Brat’s stunning defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Wednesday.

Long-shot conservative primary challengers like Tennessee state Rep. Joe Carr, running against Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), saw themselves in Brat and emerged with newfound optimism at their chances.

“Sen. Alexander has a similar problem that Leader Cantor had in that he's out of touch with his Republican base in Tennessee,” Carr said.

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Radiologist Milton Wolf, challenging Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), hit the same notes.

Even New Hampshire GOP Senate candidate Scott Brown read the tea leaves of Brat’s win in his favor. His campaign manager, Colin Reed, penned a five-point memo outlining why Brat’s win was bad news for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), arguing it portends an anti-incumbent sentiment and grassroots strength.

Democrats, too, got in on the spin, tying vulnerable Republicans in districts with big Hispanic populations to Brat and arguing his anti-immigration reform stance reflected the whole of the GOP, like Rep. David Valadao's (R-Calif.) Democratic challenger, Amanda Renteria, put it.

“Congressman David Valadao’s Republican party proved tonight they’d rather play to their base than get serious about passing commonsense immigration reform,” she said.

And in Mississippi, GOP Sen. Thad Cochran’s primary challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, even took partial credit for the win. 

In a fundraising email to supporters on Tuesday night, McDaniel declared: “We just beat Eric Cantor.”


CANTOR

Lawmakers and voters alike are trying to make sense of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) shocking primary loss Tuesday night. Many attribute the loss to his openness to immigration reform, with Cantor-slayer Dave Brat himself calling immigration the “clear differentiator” between the two candidates on MSNBC this morning. Potential presidential contender Hillary Clinton slammed him for "basically [running] against immigrants" on Wednesday.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), however, suggested Cantor's negative ads backfired on him. GOP pollsters also discouraged the connection between Cantor’s loss and the fate of immigration reform, pressing Republicans to instead look to Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) primary success.

Among the lawmakers celebrating Cantor’s loss was Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who cited the primary upset as an indication that the “conservative base is alive and well.” Cruz urged Republican Party leaders to view the incident as a warning, and said he looks forward to working with Brat in Congress. 


SENATE SHOWDOWN

SC-SEN (GRAHAM): Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) persevered in his primary election, winning the race by 40 points. However, Smart Politics reports that Graham took the lowest share of the primary vote of any sitting U.S. senator in a Republican primary — in part due to the fact that he was facing six primary challengers. Compared to his South Carolina predecessors, Graham received the lowest support of any elected senator in either party since 1950.  

AR-SEN (PRYOR): Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) released a new ad slamming opponent Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) for “toeing the line,” accusing him of blindly voting with his party and with President Obama. In the ad, Cotton insists he would show backbone in office, standing up to his own party if necessary. 

A GOP poll conducted for an outside group backing Cotton by Tony Fabrizio & Associates found Cotton with a 51 percent to 43 percent lead.

KY-SEN (MCCONNELL): Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, is again getting Hollywood help, this time with a June 23 fundraiser hosted by Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein.

NH-SEN (SHAHEEN), IA-SEN (OPEN): Americans for Prosperity, the GOP group backed by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, launched a $1 million ad campaign against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) on Wednesday. The ad running against Shaheen criticizes her for backing ObamaCare, and the one airing in Iowa hits Braley for wavering on the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Meanwhile, the New Hampshire Democratic Party launched a petition drive to get Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown to release his personal financial disclosure forms.

NC-SEN (HAGAN): Generation Opportunity, a GOP group geared toward young voters, launched its first ad of the cycle, accusing Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) of passing policies that hurt young people. It features a young woman urging viewers to “Call Kay Hagan — tell her to stop spending our generation’s future,” and is backed by a $700,000 television buy and another $150,000 online.

ME-SEN (COLLINS): Maine Democratic Senate candidate Shenna Bellows launched her first television ad of the general election Wednesday, focusing on her working-class background and local roots. Bellows is running against incumbent Susan Collins (R-Maine). 

OK-SEN (OPEN): A group backing T.W. Shannon in the Oklahoma Senate Republican primary, Oklahomans for a Conservative Future, released a new survey showing him up over Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) by just 2 points, 39 percent to 37 percent of likely GOP primary voters. That’s a drop in support from the group’s last survey, conducted in April, which showed Shannon leading Lankford 42-32.

BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE

WV-03 (RAHALL): In a new campaign ad, Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) touts his efforts to block the proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule limiting carbon emissions for power plants. Rahall emphasizes his support for the coal industry, a sentiment that he has focused on throughout his campaign. 

ME-02 (OPEN): Maine Democratic nominee Emily Cain earned a spot in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Red to Blue Program, which recognizes top Democratic candidates. Meanwhile Democratic groups were on offense on Wednesday trying to frame her opponent, former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, as a Tea Party shill.

AL-06 (OPEN): Club for Growth PAC endorsed Gary Palmer against state Rep. Paul DeMarco in the GOP primary runoff for Rep. Spencer Bachus’s (R-Ala.) vacant seat, after initially endorsing a candidate that didn’t make it to the runoff.

NY-1 (BISHOP): In his newest ad, Republican Lee Zeldin touts his military service and accuses primary opponent George Demos of being bankrolled by “pro-abortion, anti-gun rights California liberals.”

NY-21 (OPEN): American Crossroads is going up with another ad in the GOP primary for retiring Rep. Bill Owens’s (D) seat, hitting him on labor and tax disputes he’s faced previously and calling him a “perennial loser.” He’s facing Elise Stefanik, the establishment pick, for the chance to take on Democrat Aaron Woolf in the general.


2016 WATCH

CLINTON: A Gallup poll released Wednesday reveals that Hillary Clinton’s approval rating has dipped slightly in recent months, dropping from 59 percent in February to 54 percent. Though she is still favored by a majority, this new rating is her lowest since August 2008.

On the second day of her book tour, she again drew ridicule from Republicans, this time for misidentifying Abraham Lincoln as a senator from Illinois — her home state — when he was in fact a member of the House before he became president.

Clinton also said her comments that she and foerm President Clinton were “dead broke” when they left office were “not the most artful.”

BUSH:According to a poll from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute, Hillary Clinton would win Florida against five of six potential Republican nominees examined. The only potential Republican nominee Clinton would lose to would be former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whom the poll predicts would win by a 2-point margin.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

Dead broke ... Really?”

—Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to Hillary Clinton at a Chicago event, in reference to her recent comments about leaving the White House without any money