Other races

Other races

Top of the ballot: Primary day, Memorial hangover edition (Updated)

Voting is under way in competitive primaries in Alabama, Mississippi and New Mexico, it seems New York Democrats have a burn book for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) may not get a coronation after all.

Who can it be now?

In Mississippi most attention will be on the first district House primary where Republicans Angela McGlowan, Henry Ross and Alan Nunnelee are vying to take on Rep. Travis Childers (D-Miss.). The primary left a bad taste in Republicans' mouths last cycle, but this time officials are hopeful the base will unite after Tuesday.

In Alabama, Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) is bidding to become to the first African-American governor. He faces state Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks in the Democratic primary, but whoever emerges from the crowded GOP primary is favored to win the governorship.

On the House side, Rep. Parker Griffith (R-Ala.), once a member of the Democratic party, faces Republican primary voters for the first time. He's up against Republicans Mo Brooks and Les Phillip for the nod. 

Meanwhile, freshman Rep. Bobby Bright (D-Ala.) will find out whether he'll face a Tea Party candidate in November. Marine veteran Rick Barber (R) had claimed that mantle but primary rival Martha Roby has establishment support and a financial advantage.

In New Mexico, former Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) is expected to brush past farmer Cliff Pirtle (R) and earn the chance to challenge Rep. Harry Teague (D-N.M.).

Republicans have five choices for governor in the state, which include Susana Martinez, Allen Weh, Doug Turner, Janice Arnold-Jones and Pete Domenici Jr., the son of the former New Mexico senator.

The winner of the GOP nod will face Lt. Gov. Diane Denish (D), who doesn't face a primary challenge. Gov. Bill Richardson (D) is term limited.

Don't keep it under your bed

While Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) toyed with challenging Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in the primary last year, her campaign developed an "oppo book" on the appointed senator, according to the New York Daily News. After the congresswoman dropped the idea of a challenge and former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) "took up the cause," Maloney apparently gave him the book. Ford ultimately decided to forgo a run. 

The Daily News reported that Maloney's campaign spokeswoman, Alix Anfang, didn't deny the story, but noted: "Congresswoman Maloney fully supports Senator Gillibrand. She has been a remarkable leader, fighter and a strong partner on the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which they have co-sponsored."

On Tuesday, however, Anfang told The Ballot Box the paper's story is incorrect. "We did not have an oppo book at all," Anfang said. "And nothing was given." The campaign has asked for a correction to the Daily News story, she added.

A source close to Ford also denied an "oppo book" was ever exchanged. "Maybe she put it in the mail. We never got it," the source said.

Iowa surprise?

With only a week to go before the Iowa gubernatorial primary, businessman Bob Vander Plaats is starting to catch up to former Gov. Terry Branstad (R). Vander Plaats had 31 percent support in a new Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday, while Branstad currently stands at a "surprisingly low" 46 percent. Republican Rod Roberts rounds out the field at 13 percent.

—Updated at 10:16 a.m. 


Top of the ballot: California spending

California Republicans could be setting a new record for spending, White House jobs are an issue in Colorado, and with Vito Fossella out of the picture, the race for the GOP nod to take on Rep. Mike McMahon (D-N.Y.) appears all wrapped up. 

Going on a spender in California

California Republican Steve Poizner spent more than $17 million on his gubernatorial effort between March 18 and May 22, according to his pre-primary financial report.

Poizner had only $3 million cash on hand as of May 22 after spending some $24 million from his own fortune. His GOP rival for the nod, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, has yet to release her numbers.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown only spent about $320,000 through May 22. But Brown has a whopping $20.6 million in cash on hand and doesn't face major competition in the June 8 primary.

Meanwhile in the GOP Senate race, former Rep. Tom Campbell (R-Calif.) has a cash-on-hand edge over Republican rival Carly Fiorina. He's got $975,271 in the bank compared with her $620,460 ahead of their June 8 primary. State Assemblyman Chuck DeVore has $276,614 left to spend.

What works in Pennsylvania...

The Colorado Democratic Senate primary has its own story of White House job-offer intrigue.

Last September, the Denver Post reported that former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff was told a job "might be found" in the executive branch for him if he dropped his challenge to Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.). Romanoff stayed in the race and now the GOP is trying to use the reported offer against him the same way the Pennsylvania GOP is hitting Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) on the issue.

"It's reprehensible to have an administration, especially the one that has set itself up as the paragon of ethical virtue, to run around trying to buy off candidates to get out of these competitive primaries," said Colorado Republican Party chairman Dick Wadhams. "Buying them off with taxpayer-funded jobs. It's reprehensible, it shouldn't happen, and it's clear we now have two very clear examples of where the administration attempted to do that."

Romanoff today declined to comment on the issue.

The man who united Brooklyn and Staten Island

Republican House candidate Michael Allegretti got the backing of the Staten Island Republican Party Thursday night, although the win was marred by the withdrawal of his GOP rival.

Former FBI agent Michael Grimm took his name out of consideration and blasted the endorsement process. "The charade is not one in which I want to be a part of," he said. Grimm is expected to continue running as an outsider candidate.

The Staten Island GOP's executive committee had endorsed Fossella last week, but he announced on Wednesday he wouldn't run. 

Allegretti now has the Brooklyn and Staten Island Republican Party endorsements. Rep. Mike McMahon (D-N.Y.) released a statement Thursdaty night that reaffirmed his plan to be reelected but it didn't mention Allegretti by name.


Top of the ballot: Lincoln tells Halter to 'come clean' on EFCA

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) issues an "ultimatum" to Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (D), Washington state Republican Dino Rossi's entrance into the GOP Senate primary doesn't clear the field and Newt Gingrich is still putting his money on a Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Lincoln: Come clean, Bill

Lincoln's refusal to support the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) was one of the issues that prompted labor groups to back Halter's primary bid. "My stand on this legislation is the reason D.C. unions are in Arkansas spending nearly $10 million attacking me and misrepresenting my record," Lincoln said in a statement Wednesday.

Before she agrees to another debate with Halter before the June 8 runoff, Lincoln wants her opponent to say definitively whether he supports the legislation. "Arkansans know my record, and they deserve to know where Bill stands. If we are going to debate the issues, we both have to be willing to take a stand on the issues," she said.

The Halter camp called the tactic "typical Washington hypocrisy."

Halter spokesman Garry Hoffmann: "This is exactly why we need to have a debate and exactly why she’s trying to avoid one."

Everyone's accounted for

At least five active Washington state GOP Senate candidates said they'll stick in the race after Rossi's entry, including former NFL player Clint Didier (R).

In fact, shortly after Rossi's Web rollout, the Sarah Palin-backed Didier hit him for being a party insider. Voters will now have a choice between a "GOP established candidate or a citizen statesman who is a part of the grassroots movement," Didier said in a statement published by the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

One candidate decided to get out. Ed Torres (R), a general superintendent for a plumbing firm, said he would put his support behind Rossi.

What are the odds?

Gingrich told reporters in Des Moines on Wednesday that Republicans still have a "great chance" to regain control of the House.

"I think the odds are at least even money that you're going to get John Boehner as Speaker," Gingrich said, according to the Des Moines Register. "The Democrats are going to run this fall with the worst unemployment record since the Great Depression, they're going to run this fall having failed in the Gulf, having failed to control the border, having failed to stop Iran and having failed to keep spending under control."


Top of the ballot: Ward loses in Idaho

The results of Idaho's 1st district GOP House primary are a split for the Tea Party, the attempt to recall Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) could end up in the U.S. Supreme Court and Washington state Republican Dino Rossi plans a 10 a.m. EST online rollout.

(Young) Gunned down

Republican House candidate Vaughn Ward lost Idaho's 1st district primary to state Rep. Raul Labrador (R) Tuesday. Labrador had a 48-39 percent lead on Ward with 426 of 462 precincts reporting, according to unofficial results.

Ward was a top recruit of the National Republican Congressional Committee and had climbed through the ranks of its "Young Guns" candidate training program. That didn’t stop him, however, from making a series of blunders leading up to Tuesday's vote.

Ward's missteps include plagiarizing other candidates' policy positions as well as a speech by President Barack Obama, misusing pictures of himself in his Marine uniform and calling Puerto Rico a country.

Ward had the backing of Tea Party noteables including Sarah Palin, who even came to the district to campaign for him. But local Tea Party groups coalesced behind Labrador.

Labrador told the Idaho Statesman that the secret to his win was his consistent conservative message: "I didn't just say it. I've always acted the same way."

He now faces Tea Party Express-backed Rep. Walt Minnick (D-Idaho) in the general.

See you in court, continued

The New Jersey Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday from the Tea Party groups attempting to recall Menendez ahead of his term expiring. If they win, the groups would have to collect 1.3 million signatures of registered voters to get a recall question on the ballot.

Democrats believe the tactic may backfire for the group in November's elections. "It's not about the outcome. It's about the platform the Tea Parties want to use to tarnish a U.S. senator's reputation," said Democratic State Committee Chairman John Wisniewski.

It's unknown when New Jersey's highest court will make its ruling, but the case is expected to end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Third time's the charm

Rossi plays it safe with a Wednesday morning online rollout. He's expected to announce his challenge to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) at 7 a.m. Pacific (10 a.m. Eastern) with a video posted on his website.


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."