CAMPAIGN OVERNIGHT: Mark Begich's first misstep

Sen. Mark Begich’s (D-Alaska) ad tying a horrific murder case in Alaska to Republican Dan Sullivan was a risk that immediately backfired.

The ad drew a rebuke not only from Sullivan but also from an attorney for the victims’ family, who lambasted the senator for “playing pure politics at the expense of my clients” in a letter issued Monday.

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“You are tearing this family apart to the point that your ad was so shocking to them they now want to permanently leave the state as quickly as possible. Again, to be perfectly clear, it was your ad that shocked them,” Bryon Collins writes in the letter.

The ad, released last Friday, features retired Anchorage police Sgt. Bob Glen pointing to the apartment where, in 2013, a man allegedly beat an elderly couple to death and raped their 2-year-old granddaughter and the girl’s great-grandmother. 

The ad suggests the suspect in the crime, Jerry Active, got off with a light sentence under Sullivan’s watch and otherwise would’ve still been behind bars when the 2013 crime was committed.

Begich’s campaign has taken the ad off the air but the damage may already be done, as the suggestion the senator used a tragedy for personal gain undercuts the maverick-fighting-for-Alaska image he has cultivated on the trail.

It could be the first misstep for one of this cycle’s strongest campaigns, but it could also turn out to be a big one.


SENATE SHOWDOWN

GA-SEN (OPEN): Everybody say ‘Yeah!” Former President Clinton and R&B singer Usher will host a fundraiser for Georgia Democratic Senate nominee Michelle Nunn at the crooner’s Atlanta home next week.

KY-SEN (MCCONNELL): Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) campaign doesn’t want to answer any more questions about campaign manager Jesse Benton’s departure on Friday amid questions about his role in a 2012 Iowa caucus bribery scandal. "Yeah, we're moving on. We've got 60-some odd days left in the campaign. We're talking about the future and not the past," McConnell told a local reporter Tuesday. The campaign of his Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, sought to keep the focus on the scandal with a new Web ad.

AK-SEN (BEGICH): Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) is facing controversy after his campaign took down a controversial campaign ad about a local horrific crime. The spot was intended to raise questions about Republican challenger Dan Sullivan’s tenure as attorney general, but the victims’ family is calling for the ad to be taken down after it ignited controversy it says could bias an upcoming trial. “You are tearing this family apart to the point that your ad was so shocking to them they now want to permanently leave the state as quickly as possible. Again, to be perfectly clear, it was your ad that shocked them,” the family’s attorney writes in a letter.

WV-SEN (OPEN): The United Mine Workers of America union endorsed Natalie Tennant for West Virginia’s open Senate seat.The endorsement, announced on Labor Day, came despite Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito’s attempts to tie Tennant to President Obama’s environmental policies, which are widely unpopular in coal-heavy West Virginia.

MN-SEN (FRANKEN): Sen. Al Franken’s (D-Minn.) Republican opponent, businessman Mike McFadden, is defending his role as CEO of an investment firm that was engaged in a merger that resulted in an American-based company moving to Ireland — and subsequently enjoying a lower tax rate. McFadden has criticized such practices, known as “inversions,” but said that the move was initiated by just one business engaged in the merger, not the business he represented. Franken’s campaign has called him hypocritical for his role with the firm.

LA-SEN (LANDRIEU): Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) will not face a legal fight over her residency status, Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore said, because the request filed by challenger Rob Maness calling for the DA to look into the issue was filed too late. A major GOP outside group highlighted the issue in a new Web ad, but the ad was pulled from YouTube due to a copyright claim from Fox News, which objected to a clip of reporter Brit Hume being used in the ad. Meanwhile, Landrieu is receiving fundraising help this weekend from former President Bill Clinton.


BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE

NY-11 (GRIMM): Don’t get out your popcorn just yet. The criminal trial of embattled Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), who faces 20 charges, is scheduled to begin Dec. 1, after the midterms. The vulnerable Republican faces a tough reelection, and his lawyers have requested to have the date pushed back until early January, arguing the divisive campaign could bias the jury.

MA-06 (TIERNEY): The Boston Globe followed behind the conservative Boston Herald in endorsing Rep. John Tierney’s (D-Mass.) Democratic challenger ahead of next Tuesday’s primary. The Globe writes that while Iraq War veteran Seth Moulton and Tierney “share nearly identical political views ... Moulton’s background, and his approach to discussing the issues, suggests an openness to new perspectives.”

AZ-01 (KIRKPATRICK): Rancher Gary Kiene conceded to Arizona Speaker Andy Tobin on Tuesday, giving Republicans their strongest candidate to take on endangered Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick this fall.

NH-02 (KUSTER): Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) will campaign with Marilinda Garcia in the final week of her battle with former state Sen. Gary Lambert for the GOP nomination to take on Rep. Ann Kuster this fall.

IL-12 (ENYART): The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has increased its ad buy in Illinois’s 12th District, which begins Sept. 4, by about $500,000, according to a source with the committee. “Bill Enyart has always put service ahead of politics and done what’s best for southern Illinois, a record that stands in stark contrast with a 20-year Springfield insider like Mike Bost, who has voted for reckless and dishonest budgets that ran the Illinois economy into the ground,” the source said.


AD WATCH

AR-SEN (PRYOR): The Conservative War Chest super-PAC calls Sen. Mark Pryor (D) “a stand-in for a national power-grab by the Gang of Five,” which includes “the extremist liberal leadership of the Democratic Party, the elite media, smear groups financed by left-wing billionaires, Wall Street liberals, and Hollywood partisans.” The two-minute television ad set to run on the 10 p.m. news and "blanket the Sunday morning political shows in the Little Rock and Fort Smith media markets,” per a release.

CO-SEN (UDALL): Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) is continuing his play for female voters with a new ad that highlights his proposal to offer certain types of birth control without a prescription.

NH-SEN (SHAHEEN): “I need Scott Brown with me in the Senate so we can make progress together,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) says in a minute-long radio ad backing former Sen. Scott Brown’s (R-Mass.) New Hampshire bid.

FL-03 (SOUTHERLAND): House Majority PAC charges Rep. Steve Southerland’s “doing fine in Washington, but he’s forgotten about North Florida."

AZ-09 (SINEMA): Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) talks about the suicide of a local veteran and her work to reform the VA.

CA-52 (PETERS): Three people of all different political persuasions tout Republican Carl DeMaio’s bipartisan and reformer credentials.

IL-10 (SCHNEIDER): Rep. Brad Schneider (D) touts his opposition to the Tea Party, support for abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

IN-02 (WALORSKI): Rep. Jackie Walorski’s (R) newest ad charges Democrat Joe Bock voted to raise his own pay and increase his retirement benefits during his time in the state legislature.

MI-02 (HUIZENGA): Democrat Jerry Cannon’s wife touts his career as a sheriff and service in the military.

NY-23 (REED): Democrat Martha Robertson highlights her humble beginnings and work as a teacher and businesswoman.

TX-23 (GALLEGO): Rep. Pete Gallego (D) touts his refusal to take his pay during the government shutdown and features his son declaring, “Washington needs to grow up.”

NJ-03 (OPEN): The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ties Republican Tom MacArthur to damage done by Hurricane Sandy, noting his insurance company “was accused of cheating disaster victims.”

IA-03 (OPEN): The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) charges Democrat Staci Appel supported wasteful spending during her time in the state Senate.

GA-12 (BARROW): The NRCC again accuses Rep. John Barrow (D) of supporting wasteful government spending and President Obama’s agenda.

AZ-01 (KIRKPATRICK): The NRCC features Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick’s (D) own statements in support of President Obama.

AZ-02 (BARBER): The NRCC features a local senior declaring Rep. Ron Barber (D) “did not stand up for the elderly,” charging Medicare will face cuts under ObamaCare.

WV-3 (RAHALL): “Anyone, including Nick Rahall, who supports Barack Obama is not a friend of coal,” Seth, W.Va., underground coal miner Joe McCormick says in the NRCC’s newest ad against the West Virginia Democrat.

MN-08 (NOLAN): Republican Stewart Mills pushes back against Democratic attack ads that he says are “flat-out lies” by splicing together Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan’s speeches to have him say he’s “putting an end to salmon, cheese, catfish.”

VA-02 (RIGELL): Democrat Suzanne Patrick talks about taking care of her elderly mother, who suffers from dementia, and pledges to protect Medicare.

FL-18 (MURPHY): Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) touts his votes against congressional pay raises and for cuts to government spending.


POLL POSITION

IL-SEN (DURBIN): A new Chicago Sun-Times/We Ask America poll gives Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin a slimmer-than-expected lead over GOP challenger Jim Oberweis, taking 48 percent support to Oberweis’s 41 percent support among likely voters. The survey should be read skeptically, however, as the pollster has a spotty track record, it was entirely automated and polled an unusually large pool of respondents.

FL-18 (MURPHY): Rep. Patrick Murphy’s (D-Fla.) new internal poll gives him a 31-point lead over GOP challenger Carl Domino, taking 54 percent of the vote to Domino’s 33 percent support among likely voters.

GA-SEN (OPEN):  A new poll commissioned by WRBL News 3 television, The Ledger-Enquirer newspaper and PMB Broadcasting radio and conducted by GaPundit.com gives Democrat Michelle Nunn 45 percent support to Republican David Perdue’s 40 percent support among registered voters.

ME-2 (OPEN): Democrat Emily Cain only leads Republican Bruce Poliquin by 4 points, 37 percent to 33 percent, in a Public Opinion Strategies poll for the GOP nominee’s campaign. Republicans lead 39 percent to 33 percent on the generic ballot to succeed Rep. Michael Michaud (D), who is running for governor.


2016 RUMBLINGS

CHRISTIE: Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) is heading to Mexico this week on a foreign trade mission, but the trip could also help bolster his own foreign policy credentials.

PERRY: Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) headed back to Iowa for the first time since his indictment. Campaigning with GOP House hopeful Rod Blum (IA-1), Perry said he was “protecting the rule of law,” and defended his campaign stops despite the looming legal charges.

Perry did have another ‘oops’ moment this weekend, though. His official Twitter account sent out a meme Sunday night. Featuring a picture of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg — the woman whose drunk driving arrest lead to Perry’s threat to veto funds for her office, setting up his indictment now — the photo read “I don’t always drive drunk at 3x the legal limit...but when I do, I indict Gov. Perry for calling me out about it. I am the most drunk Democrat in Texas.” Perry’s account quickly removed the tweet — who didn’t actually indict Perry — and apologized, saying he did not condone the post.


QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I don’t believe, given who I am, that he would make the same judgment. Let’s leave it at that.”

—New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) insisting Russian President Vladimir Putin would “know better than to mess with him,” according to The New York Times 

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