CAMPAIGN OVERNIGHT: The GOP's reality TV headache

Wherever Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.) goes, it seems drama follows — including to the ballot box this fall.

McAllister hasn’t yet decided whether he’ll run for reelection, but if he does, the race would pit the “Kissing Congressman” against a relative of the family that stars in the “Duck Dynasty” reality show — the same family that helped catapult McAllister to a win last year.

Zach Dasher, a nephew of “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson, announced his plans to run Monday and said his family is behind him in the race.

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In an interview with The Associated Press, Dasher said he was concerned that there “is no God” in Washington, D.C., indicating the race could take on moralistic tones and become a relitigation of the video that revealed McAllister kissing a former staffer who’s not his wife.

McAllister has until late August to make his decision, but polling out Monday indicated he’d head to another runoff with state Sen. Neil Riser if the two chose to run again. Riser has, however, opted out of the race.

The primary competition won’t give Democrats a shot at the deep-red seat, but it’s shaping up to be exactly the sideshow Republicans were trying to avoid when they called for the congressman to resign when he returned to Congress earlier this year after the video went public. He first said he simply wouldn’t run again, but he’s since backed away from that promise.

 

SENATE SHOWDOWN

NC-SEN (HAGAN): EMILY’s List launched a $3 million campaign for Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) with an ad charging that her GOP opponent, state Speaker Thom Tillis, helped pass a budget that cut almost $500 million from the state’s education budget while protecting a tax break for yachts and jets.

MS-SEN (COCHRAN): Two new surveys of the primary runoff battle between Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and challenger Chris McDaniel show starkly different outcomes. One, from Democratic pollster Chism Strategies, showed Cochran ahead of McDaniel by 1 point, 48-47, among likely GOP runoff voters who voted in the primary. Another, conducted for pro-McDaniel Citizens United, gave McDaniel a 12-point lead, 52 percent to 40 percent, among likely GOP runoff voters. Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce launched a new ad lauding Cochran for “bringing honor and dignity to our state” and declaring he'll “keep Mississippi proud.

AR-SEN (PRYOR): Crossroads GPS released an ad Friday slamming Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) for supporting the Affordable Care Act, painting him as oblivious to the effects the healthcare law has had on his state and urging voters to tell Pryor that “Obamacare hurts Arkansas families and seniors.”

OK-SEN (OPEN): Former Rep. J.C. Watts, who has endorsed T.W. Shannon in his competitive primary fight with Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) for retiring Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-Okla.) seat, appears in a new ad for Shannon in which he counsels viewers not to believe "the false attacks" against Shannon. 

LA-SEN (LANDRIEU): Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) is out with another ad featuring her father, former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu. In the spot, the two banter back and forth as Landrieu’s father questions her on the issues she is supporting, such as raising the minimum wage; protecting Social Security and Medicare; and promoting equal pay for women. Landrieu’s ad ends with a warning from her father for main challenger, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), as he says, “I hope he knows what he’s in for.”

GA-SEN (OPEN): Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), locked in GOP primary runoff battle with businessman David Perdue, nabbed the endorsement of conservative commentator Erick Erickson, who had originally endorsed former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) in the primary. Erickson slammed businessman Perdue as "comfortable with the insiders.”

Former President George H.W. Bush penned a fundraising letter in which he announced contributing to a group aimed at defeating Democrat Michelle Nunn and urged other Republicans to do the same — despite his personal ties to the candidate, who ran his charity foundation and has used photos of him in ads.

VA-SEN (WARNER): Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) announced the support of 16 former Virginia Republican elected officials Monday, attributing the endorsements to his ability to work across party lines to accomplish reforms for his state. The list includes 14 former state legislators, former U.S. Sen. John Warner (who’d already endorsed him) and former Gov. Linwood Holton, the father-in-law of Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). Four of the GOP crossovers have never endorsed a Democrat before, according to Warner’s campaign.

IA-SEN (OPEN): Republican candidate Joni Ernst launched an ad Monday slamming opponent Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) for running a “dirty campaign.” While Braley began running attack ads against Ernst the day after she won her primary, this is Ernst’s first attack ad of the general election. The ad ends with a smiling Ernst claiming that she’s “got something Washington needs a whole lot more of: Iowa values.”

MT-SEN (WALSH): Montana Senate candidates Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) and Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) debated for the first time Saturday. Daines accused Walsh of wanting to increase government influence, while Walsh portrayed his Republican opponent as an obstructionist in Congress. The debate also included libertarian candidate Roger Roots, who charged that both of his opponents were members of “government supremacist parties.”

NH-SEN (SHAHEEN): Conservative activist Karen Testerman dropped out of the New Hampshire Senate GOP primary Friday and endorsed former Sen. Bob Smith. Smith has positioned himself as the conservative alternative to former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) and New Hampshire state Sen. Jim Rubens in the Sept. 9 primary race.  



BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE

IA-3 (OPEN): Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) announced that he will not vote for a candidate during next week’s district convention that will decide which of the six candidates wins the GOP nomination for the open 3rd District seat. Branstad said he won't vote because he wants to unite the party behind whichever candidate wins the nomination. The winning candidate on June 21 will face state Sen. Staci Appel (D) in the general election.

FL-2 (SOUTHERLAND): Rep. Steve Southerland’s (R-Fla.) Democratic opponent, Gwen Graham, launched the first television ad of her campaign Monday. Titled “The North Florida Way,” Graham touts her work as the top negotiator for her local school system, stating that she would bring “cooperation, not conflict” and “more problem-solving, less partisanship” to Congress.

LA-5 (MCALLISTER): Though a survey out Monday showed him narrowly defeating Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.) in a primary runoff rematch, Louisiana state Sen. Neil Riser (R ) announced Monday he won’t run again for the seat, after losing to McAllister last year in the special primary runoff.

McAllister hasn’t yet announced whether he plans to run for reelection, but if he does he’ll face at least one high-profile opponent in businessman, political newcomer and “Duck Dynasty” relative Zach Dasher (R). Dasher announced his candidacy for the 5th District on Monday, and said he expects his family — who had backed McAllister last year, and helped drive him to a win — to get behind him this time around.

Whether he decides to run or not, McAllister is facing a call from the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington for the Justice Department and the House Ethics Committee to investigate the congressman over his suggestion that he expected to receive a campaign contribution after voting a certain way.

MA-6 (TIERNEY): Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) endorsed Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) for reelection in his primary fight with former Marine Seth Moulton.

CA-52 (PETERS): A new U-T San Diego/10News poll shows Republican Carl DeMaio leading Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) by 7 points, with 6 percent of respondents undecided. The poll gave DeMaio a 17-point lead among male voters, while Peters carried female voters by 2 points. Democrats have said the survey oversampled GOP-leaning voters who participated in this month’s primary.

NY-13 (RANGEL): Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) was absent at Friday’s third and final televised debate of his contentious primary fight. Rangel pulled out at the last minute due to a scheduling conflict, leaving his opponents, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat and Rev. Michael Walrond, to debate with an empty chair. Espaillat and Walrond both charged Rangel’s absence shows he's out of touch and unconcerned with what happens in his district.

VA-7 (OPEN): Democratic candidate and Randolph-Macon Professor Jack Trammell made the first public appearance of his campaign Saturday, giving a 15-minute speech in Ashland, Va. In the speech, Trammell said that student loans would be one of his top priorities in office, citing his personal tie to the issue with six children in college in the fall. Trammell cited education and a greater transparency in government spending as other priorities but did not go into detail about how he would handle these issues.  

MI-3 (AMASH)/MI-11 (BENTIVOLIO): The Michigan Farm Bureau endorsed challengers to two anti-establishment Republicans, backing businessman Brian Ellis (R) over Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and businessman Dave Trott (R), the favorite against Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.). The group had endorsed Amash in 2012, before he voted against the farm bill.



2016 WATCH

CLINTON: Hillary Clinton’s book event at The George Washington University on Friday was crashed by a Republican National Committee intern dressed as a giant orange squirrel proclaiming that “Another Clinton in the White House is nuts.” The RNC is using the new mascot to raise money and push back against the potential presidential contender while she tours the nation, promoting her new memoir.

A CNN/ORC International poll out Monday found that 44 percent of Americans believe it’s very likely Clinton will win the Democratic nomination for president, and another third found it somewhat likely. If she does nab the nomination, two-thirds of those polled think it’s very or somewhat likely she could win the presidency, including 51 percent of Republicans.

While she hasn’t decided whether she’ll run in 2016, Clinton did tell German magazine Stern that she “will do everything I can to make [a female president] happen,” but added that she doesn’t know if that means she’ll run.

PERRY: Texas Gov. Rick Perry(R) dodged when asked about the Texas GOP’s official platform supporting “reparative therapy” to “cure” gay people.

"I don't know," he told CNBC when asked if the therapy can change a person's sexual orientation. "The fact is we will leave that up to the psychologists and the doctors."

Perry made the comments after receiving criticism last week for using alcoholism as an analogy to explain homosexuality. Perry said people might be predisposed to a certain thing but they can choose not to do it.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“The cocaine was a powerful stimulant that went straight to my penis.”

Former Washington, D.C., Mayor Marion Barry (D) in his new memoir