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Other races

Top of the ballot: The TV ad edition

There's an air war happening in Hawaii, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) is gearing up the attack machine and President Obama makes some Midwestern travel plans.

Air Hawaii

Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou (R) takes aim squarely at his Democratic opponents and their "insider friends from Washington" in his latest spot.

"The only special interest I care about is yours," Djou says at the end of the 30-second TV ad, which went up Tuesday. It's a quick response to the two attack ads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has been running against him.

The DCCC went up Tuesday with its second spot attacking Djou on jobs and his support for "cutting thousands of teachers." The 30-second ad is airing in the Honolulu media market, which covers the entire state.

Djou faces Democrats Colleen Hanabusa and Ed Case in the special House election set for May 22, and things are likely to get nastier as the vote approaches.

Reporting for duty

On the same day that Sestak dropped his minute-long bio ad, Sen. Arlen Specter’s (D-Pa.) campaign released a spot questioning his military record. Trailing as he is in the polls, Sestak will have no choice but to go negative on Specter if he wants to win the Democratic Senate primary.

And he plans to, he told the New York Times. The paper reported, "When asked whether his next round of TV ads would include a negative one against the  senator, Mr. Sestak said he would keep pointing out that until recently, Mr. Specter had voted more often with Republicans, and with President George W. Bush, than with the Democrats."

Pennsylvania Democrats are bracing for a war of attrition.

Down on Main Street

Obama will travel to Missouri, Iowa and Illinois next week as part of a three-state swing to talk to real voters about real issues, according to several reports.

It'll be his second trip to Iowa in almost a month and Democrats sound happy about it.

"I've talked about the need for him to get out and talk to people about what concerns them in the heartland," Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) told the Des Moines Register. "I'm just excited to see that he's coming out here and expressing interest in discussing these things."

Other updates

Obama will return to California in May for another fundraiser for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Republicans smell blood. Former Rep. Tom Campbell (R-Calif.) is up with a new TV spot that doesn't attack his primary opponents but the Democratic incumbent.

Campbell's ad uses footage from a Senate hearing last summer wherein Boxer insisted Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, call her "senator" and not "ma'am." Campbell calls it a "sign of arrogance." His campaign told the Sacramento Bee that the new ad is running on cable stations statewide. Campbell has to get past the June 8th primary before he can face Boxer.


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Rahm Emanuel: 'I would like to run for mayor'

Rahm Emanuel admitted he wants to return home and run for mayor of Chicago some time in the near future.

"I hope Mayor Daley seeks reelection. I will work and support him if he seeks reelection," the White House chief of staff told PBS's Charlie Rose in an interview. "But if Mayor Daley doesn't, one day I would like to run for mayor of the city of Chicago."

He added, "That's always been an aspiration of mine even when I was in the House of Representatives."

There were conflicting reports over the last few months about whether he actually wanted to run for the Windy City's top job.

Richard Daley is set to surpass his father as the longest serving mayor if he sees out his current term, which expires next year. Some reports suggest he plans to run again, which means Emanuel would be looking at a 2015 bid. 

Emanuel, a former aide to Daley, also told Rose that he no longer was interested in becoming speaker of the House.

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Video: California Dem chair says Obama voters motivated by 'pot'

Recent polls have shown key parts of the Democratic base are less motivated than their Republican counterparts to vote this cycle but that doesn't worry California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton.

Burton said young people will go to the polls in November with a specific issue in mind -- pot.

Young supporters of President Obama will turnout in order to support the ballot initiative to tax and regulate pot in California, Burton told the San Francisco Chronicle Friday before the state party’s convention kicked off in Los Angeles. 

Here's the video:


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Bayh: 'No political plans,' but won't rule out run for governor

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) on Wednesday said he still has no political plans in his immediate future, although he passed up a chance to rule out a third run for governor.

A two-term governor of the Hoosier State from 1989 to 1997 and a senator since 1999, Bayh in February announced he won't run for a third senatorial term this year. In a subsequent interview with The Hill, he repeated his retirement pledge and said he had made no decisions on his future although he did not want to become "politically irrelevant."

On Wednesday, Bayh said he still has no political plans and wouldn't rule a gubernatorial bid in or out.

"I loved being governor, but I've got no political plans," he said. "I literally have not decided what I'm going to be doing next year, political or otherwise. I'm going to serve out my term, and we've got important elections in November. But regarding my future plans, my deal with my wife is that she's going to be the first to know."

Cross-posted to the Briefing Room

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Top of the ballot: Gillibrand won't face Pataki

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) gets a big pass when a top GOP contender declines to challenge her, the immigration debate continues to sizzle in Arizona and Democrats easily hold Rep. Robert Wexler's (D) Florida House seat.

Free pass

As it turns out, Gillibrand won't face a challenge by former Gov. George Pataki (R-N.Y.). Pataki passed on running against the freshman Democratic senator and will instead create a national organization dedicated to "building support to repeal the recently enacted health-care overhaul," he told the Wall Street Journal.

The environment gets tougher for McCain

The Arizona state House passed on a party-line vote Tuesday what's being called the toughest anti-illegal immigration measure in the country, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The bill passed the state Senate earlier this year and Gov. Jan Brewer (R) is expected to sign the measure into law. SB 1070, as it's known, makes it a misdemeanor -- as opposed to a violation of federal law -- to lack proper immigration paperwork in Arizona. It also mandates police officers determine a person's immigration status if they suspect he's in the country illegally. Police groups were divided on the bill.

The move comes as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was trying to shift the focus in the Senate GOP primary back to former Rep. J.D. Hayworth's (R-Ariz.) ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The McCain camp is pointing to the self-imposed April 15 deadline the Hayworth camp set to release the donor list from his legal trust.

Election day after

Florida state Sen. Ted Deutch (D) beat Republican contractor Ed Lynch by 25 points to hold former Rep. Robert Wexler's seat for the Democrats.

Meanwhile, businessman Bill Flores defeated 2008 nominee Rob Curnock in the Texas runoff for the GOP nod to face Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Texas). Democrats had been happily pointing to Flores's spotty voting record but it appears not to have made a difference to voters.

Other updates

Retiring Rep. John Linder (R-Ga.) endorsed his former chief of staff, Rob Woodall, as the man to replace him in Congress, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Woodall faces state Rep. Clay Cox (R) and several others in the July GOP primary.

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Tea Party forms new group to hit back at critics

The Tea Party is preparing to push back against its media critics.

The conservative grassroots movement announced the formation of the National Tea Party Federation Thursday in Minnesota.

"The Federation will allow us to work together, pool resources and allow faster responses to the media spin," Judson Phillips, who heads the Tennessee-based group Tea Party Nation, said in a statement. "There are other benefits from this federation for those involved in the tea party movement and we will be announcing them soon."

Phillips said it took the Tea Party too long to respond to the recent accusations of "racism" and "violence" against the group. "We will see it again and next time the National Tea Party Federation will respond in a timely fashion," he said.

Phillips insisted the new group wasn't a move toward forming a third party.

The new group will "build the brand equity of the Tea Party movement at the local and regional level," Phillips said.

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Top of the ballot: Crist looks independent, Hawaii Dem touts 1st quarter cash

Speculation continues about whether Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) will run as an independent. Hawaii is shaping into a competitive three-way race -- House candidate Colleen Hanabusa (D) announced Thursday she raised almost $500,000 last quarter. And Ohio voters are switching parties.

NY-23 all over again

Florida observers are speculating that Crist's veto this week of a bill that would have loosened state campaign finance laws indicates he plans to run as an independent.

Republican legislators wanted to again allow the use of so-called leadership funds, which Florida banned in 1989. Crist said there was no reason to lift that ban.

"While I commend the sponsors of this bill for their effort to bring more transparency and accountability in their attempt to revive leadership funds, I reject the notion that affiliated party committees, or leadership funds, will benefit our state," Crist wrote in his veto.

The move prompted swift condemnaton -- from Republicans. "The governor is 100 percent wrong," Senate Majority Leader Alex Diaz de la Portilla (R) told reporters.

With polls showing Marco Rubio with a significant lead and the former Florida House Speaker hauling in an impressive $3.6 million last quarter, Crist may be setting himself up to run as an independent. Or so the thinking goes.

Under Florida law, Crist must declare whether he's running for the Republican nod or as an independent by the end of April.

Hanabusa's haul

The state Senate president brought in an impressive $450,000 last quarter, her campaign said Thursday. It's even more impressive with reports suggesting that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is quietly supporting former Rep. Ed Case (D).

Back to Ohio

Ohio Democrats are switching to register as Republicans, according to a Columbus Dispatch report.

In Cuyahoga County, the paper reported that the "number of Democrats switching to the GOP outnumbered Republicans becoming Democrats by nearly 7 to 1 as of Tuesday." During the 2008 primary, nearly five times as many Republicans switched to become Democrats in Cuyahoga, the state's largest county. Statewide totals weren't available and Democrats still have a large registration advantage. But it's a troubling sign in year when the environment is expected to favor the GOP.

Other updates

Aaron Blake is making the trek to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans Thursday. There are some notable absences from this year's event – Mitt Romney being one of them. But the conference, which is dubbed the "most prominent GOP gathering" after the party's convention, will still feature Sarah Palin, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) among others. Embattled RNC Chairman Michael Steele -- whom Palin defended Wednesday -- will also be there.

Check back for updates from Aaron throughout the next three days.

Update: Pawlenty pulled out of the SRLC and will not be speaking at the event. He is, however, still listed on the website.



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