SAN DIEGO — One of the closest House races in the country could come down to style as much as substance. 

Freshman Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) wants to win his hard-fought reelection battle by proving he’s a deal-maker who can soothe partisan tensions to get things done. He got a big boost in making that argument on Wednesday when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced he’ll be one of the few Democrats it's supporting this election cycle, a slap in the face to one of the GOP’s top recruits in one of the hottest House races.

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GOP nominee Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego councilman and an openly gay Republican, wants to show he can blast through congressional dysfunction and battle opponents in both parties to create change.

The two are locked in a nasty and expensive race in a toss-up district centered in San Diego and its wealthy suburbs. Both might seem like they’re pitching to the center to win, but this top GOP pickup opportunity could ultimately come down to which well-known candidate’s temperament voters respond to better. 

 

SENATE SHOWDOWN

OUTSIDE SPENDING: Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is reportedly planning to spend $100 million to help boost the GOP’s chances of winning back Senate control.

AR-SEN (PRYOR): A proposal to increase Arkansas's minimum wage has qualified to be on the ballot this fall, potentially boosting Democrats who hope the issue can help motivate their base in the Razorback State. Sen. Mark PryorMark PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (D-Ark.) praised the news in a statement: “Here in Arkansas, we raise our kids to know the value of a hard day’s work, and that's why it’s time we give Arkansas families the pay raise they deserve.”

CO-SEN (UDALL): Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Trump bets base will stick with him on immigration Dems call for action against Cassidy-Graham ObamaCare repeal MORE (D-Mass.) will stump with Sen. Mark UdallMark UdallDemocratic primary could upend bid for Colorado seat Picking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Gorsuch's critics, running out of arguments, falsely scream 'sexist' MORE (D-Colo.) on Friday, helping him shore up his base.

GA-SEN (OPEN): First lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaObama to host global summit in Chicago Kelly Clarkson says new song 'Go High' inspired by Michelle Obama Michelle Obama outshines all Democratic prospects for 2020 MORE will travel to Atlanta on Monday to promote her education initiatives, and will also headline a fundraiser for Democrat Michelle Nunn and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and speak at a voter registration rally.

AK-SEN (BEGICH): Alaska Independence Party candidate Vic Kohring dropped out of the Senate race on Tuesday and endorsed GOP nominee Dan Sullivan. 

LA-SEN (LANDRIEU): Neurosurgeon and conservative favorite Ben Carson is backing fellow physician Rep. Bill Cassidy (R), which could help him shore up his right flank as he faces a Tea Party opponent.

NH-SEN (SHAHEEN): Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenWeek ahead: Crunch time for defense bill’s cyber reforms | Equifax under scrutiny Five things to know about the Kaspersky-Russia controversy DHS bans Kaspersky software in federal agencies MORE (D-N.H.) got a hearty endorsement from Vice President Biden in New Hampshire on Wednesday for her reelection fight. At a Navy shipyard in Portsmouth, N.H., Biden touted Shaheen's commitment to keeping the shipyard open in the face of defense cuts and the risk of base closures. 

Meanwhile, Scott Brown drew fire from Democrats when he said during a town hall on Wednesday that he won’t “create one job ... it’s not my job to create jobs. It’s yours.” 

 

BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE

FL-2 (SOUTHERLAND): Rep. Steve Southerland (R) is under fire for holding a men-only fundraiser. According to an invitation obtained by BuzzFeed, the event says men should “tell the misses not to wait up” because “the after dinner whiskey and cigars will be smooth & the issues to discuss are many.”

NY-11 (GRIMM): Embattled Rep. Michael Grimm’s (R) ex-girlfriend has pleaded guilty to making an illegal contribution to his campaign, but stressed she is not working with federal investigators on criminal charges against the incumbent. 

GA-12 (BARROW): The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will endorse Rep. John BarrowJohn Jenkins BarrowOur democracy can’t afford to cut legal aid services from the budget Dem files Ethics complaint on Benghazi panel Barrow thanks staff in farewell speech MORE (D-Ga.) at an event in his district this Friday. 

CA-17 (HONDA): California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) endorsed Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) over challenger Ro Khanna (D), the latest big-name Democrat to back Honda in the race. 

VA-10 (OPEN): Virginia Del. Barbara Comstock (R) and Democrat John Foust faced off in a town-hall-style debate on Wednesday, sticking mostly to talking points as they took shots at one another.

 

AD WATCH

AR-SEN (PRYOR): American Crossroads released an ad attacking Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) for his ObamaCare support.

AK-SEN (BEGICH): The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee just launched its first ad in the race, saying Republican Dan Sullivan has backed cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

NC-SEN (HAGAN): Sen. Kay HaganKay HaganLinking repatriation to job creation Former Sen. Kay Hagan in ICU after being rushed to hospital GOP senator floats retiring over gridlock MORE (D-N.C.) released a half-dozen new ads featuring people accusing North Carolina Speaker Thom Tillis (R) of cutting education while giving tax breaks to the wealthy ahead of tonight’s debate. Many are teachers and students, and most are women.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce praises Tillis and ties Hagan to President Obama in a new ad. 

CO-SEN (UDALL): The U.S. Chamber of Commerce blames Sen. Mark Udall (D) for rising utility and electric bill costs in a new ad. 

MI-SEN (OPEN): Billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer is rolling out a $3 million ad campaign tethering Republican Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land to conservative donors Charles and David Koch. 

OR-SEN (MERKLEY): Republican Monica Wehby has a new ad calling for lower taxes, less regulation and a repeal of ObamaCare. 

Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill MORE’s (D) new ad ties Wehby to the Koch brothers. 

AZ-2 (BARBER): Former Rep. Gabby Giffords’s (D-Ariz.) gun-control group is going on the air to help her former staffer, Rep. Ron BarberRonald (Ron) Sylvester BarberPrinciples and actions mean more than Jeff Flake’s words Giffords to lawmakers avoiding town halls: 'Have some courage' Ten House seats Dems hope Trump will tilt MORE (D-Ariz.), who was injured in the same attack that wounded Giffords. The ad hits Barber’s opponent for opposing new gun control plans.

CA-7 (BERA): The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is going up with an ad against freshman Rep. Ami BeraAmerish (Ami) Babulal BeraAmerica’s leadership needed in global health Lawmakers eye private moon missions Republicans look for California House wins in 2018 midterms MORE (D), saying he’s “part of the problem in Washington” by backing more regulations and taxes on healthcare. 

IA-3 (OPEN): Democrat Staci Appel’s new ad compares tackling problems in Congress to raising kids.  

IL-13 (DAVIS): Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) released a TV ad featuring his 17-year-old daughter Toryn talking about her concerns on rising college tuition and how her dad has fought to make higher education more affordable. 

IL-12 (ENYART): Republican Mike Bost’s first ad in his race against Rep. Bill Enyart (D-Ill.) features his wife touting his time in the Armed Forces and fight against “corrupt Chicago politicians” in the statehouse.

MA-6 (TIERNEY): Rep. John Tierney (D) released a blistering ad against primary challenger Seth Moulton (D), tying him to GOP policies and questioning his Democratic bona fides.

TX-23 (GALLEGO): Freshman Rep. Pete GallegoPete P. GallegoObamaCare repeal vote: 15 GOP lawmakers to watch Vulnerable Texas GOP lawmaker survives rematch 5 races for tech to watch MORE’s (D) latest ad stars his nine-year-old son saying “Washington needs to grow up.” Gallego then touts how he turned down his pay during the government shutdown. 

 

POLL POSITION

KY-SEN (MCCONNELL): Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate passes 0B defense bill Overnight Health Care: New GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (R-Ky.) leads Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (R) 50 percent to 46 percent in a new live-caller poll conducted for CNN, the latest poll to show him with a small but durable lead in the race.

GWU BATTLEGROUND POLL: House Republicans have a 46 percent to 42 percent point lead in the generic congressional ballot test, according to a new poll from The George Washington University. 

President Obama’s disapproval rating is at 51 percent in the poll.

MI-11 (OPEN): Democrat Bobby McKenzie’s campaign is out with an internal poll from Tulchin Research showing him within striking distance of businessman Dave Trott (R), at 44 percent to 40 percent.

 

2016 RUMBLINGS 

CLINTON: Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax hit by earlier hack | What to know about Kaspersky controversy | Officials review EU-US privacy pact Overnight Tech: Equifax hit by earlier undisclosed hack | Facebook takes heat over Russian ads | Alt-right Twitter rival may lose domain MORE is heading to Mexico for billionaire Carlos Slim’s charity event. Slim made a big donation to the Clinton Foundation last year.

PAUL: The bribery scandal surrounding former Rep. Ron Paul’s (R-Texas) 2012 presidential bid is threatening to damage his son’s 2016 White House prospects. 

The saga took down Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Lawmakers grapple with warrantless wiretapping program MORE’s (R-Ky.) likely campaign manager, Jesse Benton, who was running Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) reelection bid. And the implications of wrongdoing two years ago could still further trickle down and hobble the younger Paul’s developing presidential campaign apparatus.

But that isn’t deterring him from hitting the early 2016 state circuit. Rand Paul will head back to New Hampshire next week to keynote the state Republican Party’s unity breakfast and headline an event aimed at young Republicans. 

O'MALLEY: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) is reportedly telling donors that he's looking at running for president even if Hillary Clinton runs.

CHRISTIE: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) top former aide, Bill Stepien, has landed at GOP outside group GOPAC following his departure in the wake of the Bridgegate scandal.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY 

"Scott Walker has given women the back of his hand. I know that is stark. I know that is direct. But that is reality." — Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), in Milwaukee. Republicans quickly criticized the apparent allusion to domestic violence, and even Walker’s Democratic opponent, Mary Burke, suggested the comments went too far.