Other races

Other races

Top of the ballot: Rep. Minnick meets his challenger

Idahoans cast their ballots in a crucial House primary, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) releases her fundraising numbers ahead of President Barack Obama's swing through San Francisco and Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias (D) doesn't have Democratic support locked up.

Ward's day of reckoning

Rep. Walt Minnick and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will be eagerly watching the returns Tuesday night from Idaho's 1st district primary. The freshman Democrat is a top target for the GOP after squeaking past Republican Bill Sali by some 4,000 votes in 2008. Republicans were initially excited by Marine veteran Vaughn Ward, but a series of missteps and revelations — he briefly worked for a Democratic legislator — has left strategists scratching their heads.

Ward also received some high-profile endorsements, including one from Sarah Palin, but he's facing stiff competition from state Rep. Raul Labrador (R).

Meanwhile, Minnick has the backing of the Tea Party Express.

Don't ask how much this trip raised

Obama travels to San Francisco this evening, where he'll headline two fundraisers for Boxer and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at the Fairmont Hotel and one at a private residence, according to the White House.

The San Francisco Chronicle expects the event will help Boxer raise $1.5 million for her reelection bid.

Ahead of Obama's trip, the Boxer camp announced she'd raised $2 million from April 1-May 19 and now has $9.6 million cash on hand.

Obama's previous visits to San Francisco drew protests, but with reports that "Don't ask, don't tell" is about to be repealed, he could be greeted as a liberator.

Losing friends and alienating people?

Reports that Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) will remain neutral in the Illinois Senate race raise questions about Giannoulias's level of support among the state's top Democrats. Jackson cited his friendship with GOP Senate candidate Rep. Mark Kirk as the reason for his reticence, but he's not the only one thought to be waffling.

Giannoulias's run for state treasurer in 2006 reportedly angered state House Speaker Michael Madigan (D), who was backing the slated Democratic candidate whom Giannoulias defeated. In a sign that things may not be all sqaure, Madigan recently joked to reporters about the Giannoulias's banking woes.


Top of the Ballot: Blumenthal apologizes

Connecticut Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal apologizes via e-mail, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) survives his convention in Colorado, and Hawaii still looks problematic for Democrats.

Too late to apologize?

Earlier this week, Blumenthal said he regretted that he "misspoke" and took "full responsibility" for mischaracterizing his service during the Vietnam War. But he didn't apologize — until Sunday. After getting criticized for not saying sorry to veterans, Blumenthal's camp issued a statement to the Hartford Courant on Sunday.

"I have made mistakes and I am sorry. I truly regret offending anyone,'' Blumenthal said. "I will always champion the cause of Connecticut's and our nation's veterans."

The thriller in Broomfield

Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff (D) captured 60.4 percent of the vote at the Colorado Democratic Party's state convention Saturday, but failed to keep Bennet off the August primary ballot. The incumbent got support from 39.6 percent of the delegates — he needed only 30 percent to keep his place.

Bennet said he was "thrilled" by the result, but he wasn’t taking any chances. His campaign had organized an effort to petition his way onto the ballot, should he fail at the party convention.

See you in September

Democrats have been talking down the GOP's win in the Hawaii special House election on Saturday as an anomaly because, the party says, they'll easily recapture the seat in November. But the same dynamics that cost them the race this time — a party divided by two candidates — could still exist.

Former Rep. Ed Case (D) sent supporters an e-mail Monday saying, "tomorrow is a new day, the start of our next chapters together, and I'm excited to begin anew."

As Representative-elect Charles Djou (R) explained recently, "Colleen [Hanabusa] and Ed both dislike me, but they hate each other."

Updated at 8:10 a.m.


Top of the Ballot: Rand Paul controversy continues

Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul (R) continues to feel the fallout from his controversial remarks on the Civil Rights Act; Connecticut holds its state party conventions; and the Hawaii special election nears the finish line.

Paul blames Dems

Paul appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" Friday morning and said this was the Democrats' attempt to "trash" his campaign.

"When does my honeymoon period start?" Paul said.

It's a line he repeated Thursday night on CNN, where he also blamed the media.

"I think what troubles me is that the news cycle has gotten out of control," he told Wolf Blitzer. "It started with my Democrat opponent asserting this, but has never been my position."

And the AP quotes Republican strategists who think Paul's supporters could see the comments and resulting firestorm "as fresh motivation for voting him into Congress."

Meanwhile, NRSC chief John Cornyn (Texas) is defending his new Senate candidate.

"Rand Paul, like every new candidate, is going to get better,” Cornyn told Bloomberg's Al Hunt in an interview to air this weekend. Candidates, Cornyn said, “make mistakes and they misspeak.”

Paul, his GOP primary rival Trey Grayson and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are scheduled to attend a unity breakfast in Kentucky on Saturday morning.

Parties gather in Connecticut

Both Democrats and Republicans in Connecticut hold separate conventions Friday and Saturday.

Attorney General Dick Blumenthal (D) will have to defend his military record as he works to get his party's endorsement in the Senate race.

On the GOP side, former Rep. Rob Simmons and former WWE CEO Linda McMahon will fight for the Republican endorsement. Both will compete in the August primary, but the party's seal of approval is an important prize.

Endorsement results should be in around 6 p.m., according to the Danbury News Times.

Aloha, Hawaii

The Hawaii special election for former Rep. Neil Abercrombie's (D-Hawaii) seat comes to a close Saturday.

Republican Charles Djou is expected to win after national Democrats pulled out of the race. When asked Thursday if the party was writing off the election, DCCC head Chris Van Hollen (Md.) said, "Yes."

Voters received ballots in the all-mail election almost three weeks ago and have until Saturday to return them.

Also on the calendar

The Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee will meet at the Capital Hilton on Friday and Saturday to consider changes to the rules that guide the 2012 presidential nominating process.

The party said that "among the matters to be discussed are changing the window of time during which primaries and caucuses may be held, reducing the number of unpledged delegates and improving the caucus system."

And Sarah Palin will be in Boise, Idaho, Friday to campaign for Republican congressional candidate Vaughn Ward. Ward, the GOP favorite, has been struggling in the days leading up to Tuesday's primary. Rep. Walt Minnick (D-Idaho) is a top target for the GOP.


Top of the ballot: California polling

A new California poll shows the Whitman-Poizner race is still close, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) leads her potential GOP rivals and Dr. Rand Paul (R) offers to fly President Obama to Kentucky.

To the numbers:

Support for California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has "plummeted 23 points since March," according to a new survey by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). Whitman now leads Republican rival Steve Poizner 38 percent to 29 among likely Republican primary voters. A third of likely voters (31 percent) is undecided. In January, Whitman led Poizner by 30 points, and in March, by 50. But Poizner has spent weeks relentlessly attacking Whitman on everything from her voting record to her investment strategy, which may have contributed to the shift. The Poizner campaign called it a "surge" in his support.

On the Senate side

Boxer leads former Rep. Tom Campbell (R) and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (R) in the PPIC survey, though Campbell has the better numbers in the hypothetical match-up: his 40 to 46 for the senator.

In the primary, Fiorina leads with 25 percent, while Campbell pulled in 23 percent. State Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R) has doubled his support since March and is currently at 16 percent.

A reader notes that PPIC is the only pollster ever to show Campbell trailing in the primary. And other surveys conducted around the same time (May 6-16) show him leading Fiorina. Bottom line, these results may not tell the whole story.

Got a ticket for an aeroplane

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine said Wednesday that President Barack Obama plans to start campaigning for Democratic candidates after the primary season is over. Kaine didn't say where, but one Republican offered him a suggestion.

Paul, who on Tuesday became the Kentucky GOP Senate nominee, was asked about Kaine's speech during an interview with CNN's John King on Wednesday.

"What I tell to the national Democrats is bring it on and please, please, please bring President Obama to Kentucky," Paul said. "We would want him to come and campaign for my opponent. In fact, we'll pay for his plane ticket if President Obama will come to Kentucky."


Tuesday's lesson: Tow the party line

Tuesday's election results aren't simply a reflection of voters in an anti-incumbent mood, according to GOP pollster Glen Bolger. It's also that voters are punishing members who have strayed from the party line. Bolger calls this a "hyper polarization" of the electorate. Here's his take:

[W]ith the exception of [Rep. Alan] Mollohan, the nomination defeats (or major troubles at this point for Lincoln), are politicians who were punished for their votes and efforts that strayed from the party line. My polling for Republican incumbents who face challengers show that most are in strong shape to win renomination because they are generally perceived as fighting the Obama-Pelosi efforts to increase the size and scope of government, and to spend money in a way that makes previous administrations seem Scrooge-like.

Senator Specter’s loss was actually a double defeat. Because he voted for the stimulus package, he baited Pat Toomey into switching from the Governor’s race to the Senate race. Specter’s poll numbers in a GOP primary were far too weak to win a primary – he choose to switch parties rather than retire. However, his previous support for George W. Bush and other Republicans (and GOP policies) meant Democratic voters couldn’t trust him. Specter’s once legendary ability to both annoy and please conservatives, moderates, and liberals caught up to him in this time of hyper polarization.

Lincoln is facing the same traumas from the left – she is perceived by many unions and liberals as not supportive enough of their agenda, and thus not worthy of renomination.

An incumbent all but in name, Charlie Crist should be in that same body count of politicians who “lost” their party’s nomination for not being orthodox enough. His support for the stimulus package made him persona non grata among a GOP primary electorate looking for someone to fight against the framework of bigger government spending more money.

Not every incumbent is endangered for renomination. However, those who face anger from the grassroots, coupled with a challenger candidate with the resources to get their message out, have challenges.


Top of the ballot: GOP's House party may be canceled

The National Republican Congressional Committee has a bad night, the Vietnam War could restart in Connecticut and progressives are out for revenge.

12 is the loneliest number

Losing Pennsylvania's 12th district special election after fielding a strong candidate should cause the NRCC to reexamine whether using Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) as a boogeyman is effective. Meanwhile, the committee had some mixed results among its recruited candidates Tuesday.

Some of its highly-touted "Young Guns" failed to make it through their primaries. Kentucky businessman Jeffrey Reetz, who was considered "on the radar" by the committee, lost the state's 3rd district primary to the Tea Party-backed Todd Lally.

There were some successes for the NRCC on Tuesday. Sports consultant Rob Cornilles won the 1st district primary in Oregon, where he'll face Rep. David Wu (D) in November. And former U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin easily won the GOP nod in the Arkansas's 2nd congressional district.

Wants to hear more about ‘Nam

Former Rep. Rob Simmons (R) said Tuesday he was "unsatisfied" with Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's explanation for how he mischaracterized his record of service during the Vietnam War. On Wednesday, he subsequently rolled out the endorsement of "legendary Hanoi Hilton POW” Orson Swindle, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel who campaigned with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008. Will Vietnam linger as an issue through the general election?

An outpost of progress

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee sent an e-mail to supporters Tuesday saying, "Tonight, we proved that our support can truly help good candidates win." The group, along with MoveOn.org, funneled some $2 million into Lt. Gov. Bill Halter's (D) challenge to Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D). The confidence progressives get from this race will surely cause some consternation in the Democratic Party, which was hamstrung by outside, supposedly-allied groups in the 2004 cycle.


Parties look to finalize picks for competitive Arkansas races

Democrats and Republicans finalized their slate of candidates Tuesday for a competitive set of House races this fall in Arkansas.

Primary voters nominated candidates in the state's three open races, while Republicans picked their candidate to challenge Blue Dog Rep. Mike Ross (D) in the state's 4th congressional district.

Republican voters overwhelmingly settled on former GOP aide Rick Crawford in the state's 1st congressional district, while Democrat Tim Wooldridge, who serves as executive director of the Arkansas Association of Public Universities, appeared ahead in the six-way Democratic primary. Wooldridge had 34 percent locked up Tuesaday night with just over 30 percent of precincts reporting.

Former U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin also easily won the Republican nod in the state's 2nd congressional district, while state Sen. Majority Leader Joyce Elliott led the Democratic pack in the district. Elliott won the support of almost 36 percent of the primary field on Tuesday night, with almost 62 percent of precincts reporting.

Democrat Tim Whitaker, a former Fayetteville assistant city attorney, won the Democratic nomination unopposed in the 3rd district. Mayor Steve Womack of Rogers, Ark., led the GOP pack early with almost 35 percent of the primary and almost nine percent of precincts reporting.

Beth Anne Rankin, an aide to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), also seemed well-positioned to win the Republican nomination to challenge Ross this fall. With 58 percent of precincts reporting, she had locked up 55 percent of the Republican vote.

Democrats will be forced to defend three seats in the Republican-leaning state, while the GOP will have to defend the seat of Rep. John Boozman in the third district. Boozman is running for the Senate this fall.

Rep. Marion Berry (D) is retiring in the first district, and Rep. Vic Snyder (D) is retiring in the second.


Top of the ballot: Primary day

Voters cast ballots Tuesday in Arkansas, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Oregon, The New York Times torpedos Connecticut's "golden boy" and Nevada Senate candidate Sue Lowden's campaign bus may not be street-legal.

Gray Tuesday

Turnout is expected to be about 30 percent in the Kentucky Senate primary, where much of the attention is focused on the GOP power struggle between Rand Paul and Trey Grayson. On the Democratic side, the nominee will likely be either Attorney General Jack Conway or Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo.

In Arkansas, the focus has been on the state's two Senate primaries, but there are also House primaries for its three open seats.

The weather in Philadelphia on Tuesday is in the 50s, which could hurt Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) as the less-motivated Dem primary voters stay home. Specter's last-minute pitch to voters? He went after Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) for not saying he'd endorse him after the primary during an interview with CNN on Sunday. "Now who is the true Democrat?'' Specter asked Monday. ''Who is the true team player?''

A self-Swift-Boating?

Connecticut Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal (D) is pushing back against a New York Times report that he routinely mischaracterized his service in the Marines during the Vietnam War.

"The New York Times story is an outrageous distortion of Dick Blumenthal's record of service," Mindy Myers, Blumenthal's campaign manager, said in a statement Monday. "Unlike many of his peers, Dick Blumenthal voluntarily joined the Marine Corps Reserves in 1970 and served for six months in Parris Island, S.C., and six years in the reserves. He received no special treatment from anyone."

He's holding an event Tuesday with veterans where he'll address the allegations. Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon's campaign is taking credit for putting the paper on the trail.

Girl on the bus

Lowden is being attacked for accepting the use of a tan, 2001 Monaco campaign bus as an in-kind contribution. A supporter of her Senate campaign is leasing her the bus, but its value likely exceeds the amount allowed under campaign finance rules. Moreover, Lowden's GOP rivals are beginning to attack her use of the bus.

"Like a typical insider, Sue Lowden doesn't think the rules apply to her," a spokesman for Republican Danny Tarkanian told the Las Vegas Sun. He referred to the bus as a "free ride."