CAMPAIGN OVERNIGHT: GOP primary wounds still smarting

All five national Republican Party committees presented a united, optimistic front in evaluating their chances for the fall elections on Wednesday, but tensions between the base and establishment wings of the party remained.

National Republican Senatorial Committee Executive Director Rob Collins was bullish about the GOP’s chances of taking back the Senate, the biggest trophy this cycle. 

He said the president’s unpopularity is particularly damning for the most vulnerable Democrats, and argued Republicans are more enthusiastic than Democrats about the midterms.

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“When the president gets a cold nationally, he gets pneumonia in the states we care about,” Collins said.

Collins also touted the party’s successful recruiting efforts and primary fights as giving the GOP solid candidates for the fall.

But those successes didn’t come without considerable battles with national conservative groups, and Collins indicated some of the wounds from those battles haven’t yet healed.

“The for-profit conservative base here in D.C., we’re never gonna get along with, at least this cycle,” Collins said, after admitting the primary season was “tough.”

He quickly added, “that’s not true, there are some that will have a role to play in the general election.”

“But some of the louder voices, it does not adhere to their bottom line to get along with [us], so they choose not to ... but where we can work together we will,” Collins said.

That division could hurt the GOP if a dissatisfied grassroots stays home in November. Such a possibility remains a “very real risk” for Republicans, according to Senate Conservatives Fund President Ken Cuccinelli.

The SCF is one of the groups that's unlikely to work with the NRSC. The national conservative group has lost just about every time it’s gone toe-to-toe with the NRSC, but Cuccinelli remained unbowed, and said the group had no interest in working with the NRSC because they are just focused on “power.”

“If they ever came around to fight for Republican principles, you bet we could work with them, but they can’t even find them,” he said.

“They’re so blind to principles, they can’t even find them. Our members know this, and they’re disgusted by it.” 

 

SENATE SHOWDOWN

IA-SEN (OPEN), NH-SEN (SHAHEEN): A set of new polls out Wednesday carries good news for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) but shows the Iowa Senate race heating up, with Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) and Joni Ernst (R) tied at 43 percent of the vote. Shaheen leads likely Republican challenger Scott Brown 50 percent to 42 percent. The NBC/Marist polls find that while the New Hampshire race has only 6 percent of voters undecided, the Iowa race is more likely to shift — 14 percent of voters are still undecided and a third of voters admitted to not knowing much about the two candidates.

Ernst edged Braley in fundraising but trails big in cash on hand. She raised $1.78 million in from April through June, slightly more than the $1.7 million Braley brought in. But Braley, who didn't have a competitive primary, has stockpiled $2.7 million for the race, far more than the $1.1 million Ernst has in the bank.

NH-SEN (SHAHEEN): Republican Senate candidate and former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown is taking heat from Democrats for a radio interview in which they say he characterized Sen. Jeanne Shaheen as a member of the Massachusetts delegation, which would be his latest incident of forgetting which state he’s in — and an opening for carpetbagging attacks. Brown’s campaign argued Democrats misquoted him, and that he actually distanced himself from Massachusetts in the interview.

GA-SEN (OPEN): Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) said he believed Congress would begin taking a serious look at the impeachment of President Obama in a recent interview.

"I think he has done plenty wrong for a lawsuit. Not a day goes by when people don’t talk to us about impeachment," he said in a radio interview from two weeks ago. "I don’t know what rises to that level yet, but I know that there’s a mounting frustration that a lot of people are, you know, getting to, and I think Congress is going to start looking at it very seriously."

MS-SEN (COCHRAN): Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s (R) lawyers announced in a press conference Wednesday that they expect to file a legal challenge to Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-Miss.) win in the next 10 days but still failed to provide any evidence for their claim of election fraud. McDaniel’s attorneys accused Cochran’s campaign of “race-baiting” that “took us back 50 years,” while Cochran’s allies hit back that McDaniel “lied” about producing evidence. 

BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE

AZ-1 (KIRKPATRICK): Adam Kwasman (R), one of the candidates vying to face Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) this fall, mistook a group of local kids on a YMCA bus for immigrant children, saying that he saw “fear” on the faces of the children after protesting their arrival in the area. He later tried to walk the statement back.

VA-7 (OPEN): According to his newly filed Federal Election Commission report, outgoing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) spent almost $6 million in his losing primary battle against Dave Brat. Cantor still has nearly $1.5 million cash on hand after his shocking loss, while Brat only spent $200,000 on the primary race.

MI-11 (BENTIVOLIO): A new poll out Wednesday shows Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.) in trouble, trailing primary challenger Dave Trott by 22 percentage points. The poll of likely primary voters found Trott leading Bentivolio 53 percent to 31 percent, with 16 percent of voters undecided.Trott also held the lead in Tea Party support, taking 52 percent of Tea Party supporters compared to Bentivolio’s 34 percent.

NH-2 (KUSTER): Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton launched an ad targeting Rep. Ann Kuster (D-N.H.) as his first independent expenditure of the cycle. The negative spot accuses Kuster of being “clueless” about national security issues and features a clip of her from a town-hall meeting last November fumbling a question about the Benghazi attacks.

2016 WATCH

CHRISTIE: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie heads to Iowa on Thursday to speak at three fundraisers, including one for the Republican Governors Association, which he chairs. The trip, along with his planned visit to New Hampshire on July 31, seem to suggest Christie is weighing a presidential run in 2016.

CLINTON: Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) became the latest Democrat to come out in support of Hillary Clinton as the party’s 2016 presidential nominee. Warner is set to headline a fundraiser next month hosted by the Ready for Hillary super-PAC, a group that has been fundraising for a possible Clinton campaign since last year.

RUBIO: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) will headline the “Faith and Freedom” barbecue hosted next month in South Carolina, making the trip his latest visit to a presidential primary state. Rubio traveled to New Hampshire in May for a fundraiser and campaigned with Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst ahead of her June primary.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"We need our male colleagues to understand that if you can bring it down to a woman's level and what everything that she is balancing in her life — that's the way to go."

—Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) on how the Republican Party can connect with women voters