A pair of House Democrats threw Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki under the bus on Wednesday, and red-state Democratic candidates are already joining them in what could quickly turn into a stampede.
Reps. John Barrow (D-Ga.) and David Scott (D-Ga.) both called for Shinseki to resign, with Scott saying he was “very disappointed” in President Obama, saying he’s shown “no urgency” in fixing the VA following accusations that local hospitals kept secret wait lists that led to the deaths of dozens of veterans.
The pair of Georgia Democrats weren’t the only ones to demand Shinseki’s resignation. Arkansas House candidate Patrick Henry Hays (D) did as well in a Wednesday statement, and North Carolina House candidate Clay Aiken said the “buck has to stop” with Obama in a CNN appearance.
As Republicans ramp up the pressure on Democrats, it’ll be notable which stick with Obama — Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn has said she would “defer” to Obama’s judgement about whether or not to keep Shinseki on — and which break with the president. Many have so far criticized the VA but have stopped short of demanding that Shinseki be kicked to the curb.
MS-SEN (COCHRAN): The Mississippi Senate GOP primary is heating up over the photos of Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-Miss.) wife allegedly taken by a campaign supporter of his primary challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel. Both campaigns are launching barbs over a video created by the supporter that included the photos, with the Cochran campaign on Wednesday questioning whether McDaniel may have broken the law in not turning the video over to the police when he knew of its existence and McDaniel accusing the Cochran campaign of “shameless slander.”
Meanwhile, the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund went up with an ad slamming Cochran for his votes to raise the debt limit, among others. “What happened to Cochran?” the ad asks. And the NRSC contributed the maximum allowable amount, $45,400, to Cochran on Tuesday.
KY-SEN (MCCONNELL): Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes used her first ad of the general election to distance herself from President Obama. Meanwhile, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) asked Grimes to agree to three Lincoln-Douglas-style debates, without notes or an audience.
Her campaign responded, saying "Once again Mitch McConnell is behind Alison Lundergan Grimes. Days ago, she welcomed the opportunity to debate McConnell and our campaign stands ready to discuss details. ... What Kentuckians don't need are gimmicks and games.” Her campaigned also launched a Web video contrasting her time spent on the trail with what it characterized as McConnell’s absence from the state.
A pro-McConnell group, Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, launched an ad declaring “liberals coast to coast are rolling out the red carpet” for Grimes.
IA-SEN: Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) has opened up a comfortable lead in her primary, according to a new automated poll from Public Policy Polling. Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) continues to lead her in the general election.
SC-SEN (GRAHAM): Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is out with a new ad featuring his sister, who talks of his efforts raising her and adopting her after their parents died.
MT-SEN (WALSH): Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) is out with an ad featuring a woman whose husband beat her thanking the congressman for his vote for the Violence Against Women Act, pushback on appointed Sen. John Walsh’s (D-Mont.) campaign’s “war on women” attacks.
LA-SEN (LANDRIEU): Americans for Prosperity launched a new line of attack on Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) with an ad that targets female voters and knocks her for voting to raise the debt limit.
MN-SEN (FRANKEN): Sen. Al Franken’s (D-Minn.) new ad features a Republican woman praising his work to tighten regulations on a medication that gave her meningitis.
TN-SEN (ALEXANDER): State Rep. Joe Carr, Sen. Lamar Alexander’s (R-Tenn.) primary challenger, once said he felt he needed the help of conservative groups in Washington in his race — but he’s not doing himself any favors with those groups with comments that they “had a negative impact” on Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) primary challenger, Matt Bevin. Meanwhile, a new survey from Vanderbilt University shows 53 percent of registered voters approve of Alexander’s job performance.
CO-SEN (UDALL): Sen. Mark Udall’s (D-Colo.) campaign is looking to make Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a liability for his Republican opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner (R), in the race, tying him to the “Guardian of Gridlock” in a new attack.
BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE
DCCC DODGES ON “VICTORY”: Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) told reporters Wednesday it’s “too early to say what victory is,” and accused his Republican counterpart, Rep. Greg Walden (Ore.), of “showboating” by predicting the GOP will pick up 12 seats this fall.
IA-3 (OPEN): A new poll finds no Republicans have coalesced the 35 percent of support needed to lock in the nomination for retiring Rep. Tom Latham’s (R-Iowa) seat, as well as a high number of undecided voters, a sign the nomination may wind up decided in a convention of activists.
NE-2 (TERRY): Tea Partier Chip Maxwell plans to try to challenge Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) as an independent this fall, after Terry posted his narrowest win yet over an underfunded primary challenger, just six percent. Maxwell needs to collect 2,000 signatures to get added to the ballot, and there’s a chance his candidacy could give Democrats a better shot at the seat if he splits the GOP vote with Terry. But Terry said he wasn’t worried about the potential challenge because he said “there will only be one candidate in the race for Congress” who has a proven record on conservative issues.
NJ-3 (OPEN): A new ad from Republican candidate Steve Lonegan charges that the insurance company owned by his main primary opponent, Tom MacArthur, “delayed or refused” payments to victims of a wildfire that burned through a California town.
NJ-12 (OPEN): Monmouth University Poll finds state Sen. Linda Greenstein and Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman about tied in the Democratic primary to replace retiring Rep. Rush Holt (D). Greenstein takes 25 percent of the vote, while Watson-Coleman takes 24 percent, and Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula takes 11 percent of the vote. The seat is safely Democratic.
CLINTON: Add Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to the list of pols who are “Ready for Hillary.” The Senate majority whip, who was an early backer of President Obama in 2008, will headline a fundraiser next month for the grassroots super-PAC urging the former secretary of State to make another bid for the White House.
CHRISTIE: Matt Mowers, a former campaign aide to Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.), said the campaign had pursued the endorsement of Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich (D) for at least a year and a half before the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge were ordered by a top Christie staffer as an act of apparent political retribution against him. Mowers’s revelations, made during a hearing of a legislative panel investigating the closures, raise questions about Christie’s assertion that Sokolich was never on his “radar screen.”
Meanwhile, Christie’s biggest hurdle to the White House may not be the GWB lane closures, but rather his state’s flagging economy.