A pair of House Democrats threw Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric ShinsekiEric Ken ShinsekiTrump VA pick faces challenge to convince senators he’s ready for job Is Ronny Jackson qualified to be the next VA secretary? Let's look at his predecessors GOP, vet groups react with caution to Trump VA pick MORE under the bus on Wednesday, and red-state Democratic candidates are already joining them in what could quickly turn into a stampede.

Reps. 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.) 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.

ADVERTISEMENT
Barrow’s move is no surprise — he’s the last remaining white Democrat in a Deep South congressional seat and often splits from Obama. But the angry House floor speech from Scott, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, is the first major sign that the president’s party could be fracturing over his handling of the scandal.

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.

 

SENATE SHOWDOWN

MS-SEN (COCHRAN): The Mississippi Senate GOP primary is heating up over the photos of Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranMississippi Democrat drops Senate bid Dems look to keep up momentum in upcoming special elections Chamber of Commerce makes play in Mississippi Senate race for Hyde-Smith MORE’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 McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenators introduce bill to overhaul sexual harassment policy The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Republicans see some daylight in midterm polling Exclusive: Bannon says Rosenstein could be fired 'very shortly' MORE (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 BraleyBruce Lowell BraleyOPINION | Tax reform, not Trump-McConnell feuds, will make 2018 a win for GOP Ten years later, House Dems reunite and look forward Trump: Ernst wanted 'more seasoning' before entertaining VP offer MORE (D-Iowa) continues to lead her in the general election. 

SC-SEN (GRAHAM): Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — GOP centrists in striking distance of immigration vote Dem leaders request bipartisan meeting on Russia probe Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA MORE (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 LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuLandrieu dynasty faces a pause in Louisiana Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Project Veritas at risk of losing fundraising license in New York, AG warns MORE (D-La.) with an ad that targets female voters and knocks her for voting to raise the debt limit.

MN-SEN (FRANKEN): Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenSenators introduce bill to overhaul sexual harassment policy Ex-White House ethics counsel: More evidence against Trump than there ever was against Nixon 100 days after House passage, Gillibrand calls on Senate to act on sexual harassment reform MORE’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 AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — VA reform bill heads to Trump's desk Senate panel to consider ban on prescription drug 'gag clauses' Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA MORE’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 UdallMark Emery UdallSenate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Democratic primary could upend bid for Colorado seat Picking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups MORE’s (D-Colo.) campaign is looking to make Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a liability for his Republican opponent, Rep. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerSenate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Trump makes Manchin top target for midterms Wyden: I object to Trump’s DHS cyber nomination over demands for Stingray information MORE (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.

 

2016 WATCH

CLINTON: Add Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinHouse easily passes prison reform bill backed by Trump This week: House GOP regroups after farm bill failure Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump hits federally funded clinics with new abortion restrictions MORE (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.