GOP primaries

GOP primaries

Nevada Republican admits he was wrong on 'socialism' charge

Nevada businessman Danny Tarkanian’s Senate campaign admits its candidate was wrong when he denied using the word “socialism” in a robocall against his Republican opponent.

In a joint appearance with former state GOP Chairwoman Sue Lowden on KXNT-AM radio, Tarkanian was challenged by the host on his campaign tactics. Tarkanian claimed he never used the word “socialism” in the robocall. But a recording of the call contradicts Tarkanian.

“There was no ‘socialism' word in there – you’re wrong on that,” Tarkanian said Wednesday. “I guarantee you.”

A recording of the robocall, though, makes clear that Tarkanian tied Lowden to the Wall Street bailout and then described the bailouts as “socialism.”

“With respect, I must disagree with my Republican opponent Sue Lowden when she and the establishment defended the Wall Street bailout,” Tarkanian said, adding later, of the bailout: “That’s not freedom. Let’s call it what it is: socialism.”

(A recording of the radio appearance, which featured only the two of them and wasn't technically considered a debate, can be found here. Tarkanian’s remark comes a little more than halfway through.) 

Tarkanian spokesman James Fisfis notes that Tarkanian had been accused by the host of calling Lowden a “socialist.” At no point during the robocall, though, does he directly use the word to describe her.

“Danny was wrong that the word ‘socialism’ wasn’t in there,” Fisfis said. “He was asked if he had called her a socialist, and he didn’t.”

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Not so sexy

Former Rep. Rob Simmons's (R-Conn.) campaign continues to hammer away at the tawdry recent history of the WWE.

This web video plays off the recent revelation that Linda McMahon's husband, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, has a yacht in Florida named "Sexy Bitch."

The McMahon camp responds: "This is why Rob Simmons has lost 38 points and his lead in the polls since Linda McMahon got in this race: he keeps talking about boats and wrestling while Linda is talking about putting people back to work."

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Crist wants repeal too

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is indeed calling for a repeal of the healthcare bill.

Crist's primary opponent, Marco Rubio, has been out front on the repeal movement and accused Crist of not supporting repeal, but Crist's campaign points to two sets of comments the governor made in the last week.

Crist told the Associated Press that he would work to repeal the bill if he is elected senator in November, and he made similar comment to the National Review last week.

"We just need to get it right and do it right," Crist told the AP. "Do it right for the people."

Rubio has launched a petition for the repeal effort and has been all over the issue today. His campaign also pointed a month-old Palm Beach Post story in which Crist entertained the idea of keeping certain aspects of the healthcare bill.

"There may be parts of it that you don’t have to scrap," Crist said at the time.

Conservatives are emphasizing a full repeal, and Rubio's camp is looking to use Crist's comments against him.

So far, the following major Senate candidates have come out in favor of repeal: Crist, Rubio, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), former New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, Nevada businessman Danny Tarkanian, Arkansas state Sen. Gilbert Baker, former Rep. Rob Simmons and former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).

Among those who haven't weighed in, former Colorado Lt. Gov. Jane Norton's campaign said it will be commenting shortly.

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Sali won't run, endorses Labrador

Former Rep. Bill Sali (R-Idaho) will not seek a return to Congress, he announced Friday.

But before exiting the scene, he endorsed the outsider candidate in the race, state Rep. Raul Labrador, over Iraq veteran Vaughn Ward.

Sali has been toying with a return bid ever since losing his seat after one term in 2008. In the end, his decision not to run again was a sigh of relief for the party, who wanted to go in a different direction.

But if Labrador can turn Sali's support into some real momentum, a tough primary could be in the making for Ward. Ward is a part of the NRCC's Young Guns program; Labrador is not.

Idaho's filing deadline is today.

UPDATE: The Idaho Statesman reports Sali had some choice words about Ward:

"Vaughn has served our country with distinction and we owe him a debt of gratitude for that, as we do all of our veterans. But I have to tell you, sending Vaughn Ward to Washington, D.C., is a little bit like sending a Boy Scout to Iraq. He doesn't have any experience casting tough votes. He doesn't have experience in the political arena."

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NRA endorses Bennett

Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) has landed a key endorsement in his primary, announcing the support of the National Rifle Association (NRA).

“I'm very grateful to have the support of the National Rifle Association,” Bennett said in an e-mail. “They are an important voice in our national debate, and they reflect the principles and positions of millions of Americans throughout Utah and the nation.”

Bennett faces attorney Mike Lee, former congressional candidate Tim Bridgewater and activist Cherilyn Eagar at the state party convention in May. After a multi-ballot process, if no candidate gets 60 percent of the vote, the top two go to a June primary.

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Barclay passes on New York-23 primary

New York state Assemblyman Will Barclay has decided to pass on challenging Doug Hoffman in the GOP primary in New York's 23rd district.

Barclay's exit leaves Hoffman and investment banker Matt Doheny as the frontrunners for the nomination, with the winner set to face Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.).

Barclay has been going after Hoffman early and often and said he fully expected to be a candidate for the seat. In the end, though, he said he felt he needed to serve in the state legislature at a crucial time.

The assemblyman also offered a parting shot at Hoffman, who continues to entertain the idea of a third-party bid if he loses the GOP primary this year.

"Finally, as I have already pledged in writing: I will support whichever candidate Republican voters choose in the primary," Barclay said in a statement. "Any candidate worthy of the Republican nomination must, in my view, do the same."

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Paper knocks Rubio on 'lavish' spending

The St. Petersburg Times digs into Marco Rubio's spending during his rise to political prominence and finds some problems:

...Rubio did what many aspiring Florida legislative leaders do — he created a political committee, Floridians for Conservative Leadership, to "support state and local candidates who espouse conservative government policies," according to IRS records.

But for 2003, the committee spent nearly $150,000 on administrative and operating costs and $2,000 in candidate contributions. Over 18 months, only $4,000 went to candidates other than Rubio, while similar political committees gave tens of thousands of dollars to candidates.

Rubio spent the biggest chunk of the committee's money, $89,000, on political consultants, $14,000 in reimbursements to himself, and more than $51,000 in credit card expenses. Records show those expenses were for food, lodging and airfare but do not detail who was traveling or where expenses were incurred.

The thrust of the piece is that Rubio used political donations and taxpayer money to fund a lavish lifestyle, using both his PAC and taxpayer money to pay for expensive dinners, for example.

It's not a bombshell, but it still helps the Crist campaign advance their narrative about Rubio's spending habits.


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A force to be reckoned with in California

It might be time to start calling former Rep. Tom Campbell (R-Calif.) the early frontrunner in the California GOP Senate primary.

Campbell leads Carly Fiorina 33-24 in a new poll. The Research 2000 poll for the liberal website Daily Kos joins multiple polls now have shown Campbell beginning the race with a significant lead.

It's early, though, and Fiorina is likely to vastly outspend Campbell. We saw her campaign recently go after Campbell with the notorious "Demon Sheep" ad, and it has also accused him of having ties to terrorists.

It's also notable that Chuck DeVore, who is languishing in the single digits, recently told the AP that he has continued to focus his attacks on Fiorina because he views Campbell as the stronger general election candidate.

Campbell also performs best in the general election, trailing Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) 47-43, while Fiorina trails her 49-40.

Fiorina and DeVore both show net-negative favorability ratings, while Campbell's approval (46 percent) is nine points higher than his disapproval (37 percent).

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Jeb finally endorses ... in Arizona

Jeb Bush is finally endorsing in the big GOP primary, but it's not the primary we've been waiting for.

Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) reelection campaign announced Wednesday that Bush will back him over former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.).

We'll continue to wait and see whether Bush feels the need to weigh into the GOP primary in his home state. At this point, though, he'd really just be piling on by endorsing Marco Rubio over Charlie Crist.

Here's Bush's statement: "As we continue to face tough challenges both at home and abroad, America needs leaders like Senator John McCain in the United States Senate. John has devoted his life to service and sacrifice for our nation, and demonstrated time and again that he is beholden to no interest other than what is best for America. John is a proven conservative leader committed to reducing taxes, fighting wasteful spending and keeping America safe. We need John’s continued leadership in the United States Senate, and I am proud to support him.”

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