CAMPAIGN OVERNIGHT: Bergdahl at the ballot box?

The fight over President Obama's decision to trade five Taliban prisoners for U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl is starting to creep out onto the campaign trail.

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), himself an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, attacked Obama for the decision on Tuesday, calling it a "grievous error" that could cost U.S. lives in a local podcast and releasing an open letter saying Obama has “misled” the American people on the exchange’s details.

The Senate nominee isn't the first candidate to zero in on the issue. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has made attacking Obama's foreign policy and national security decisions a key part of his reelection campaign, accused Obama of releasing the "Taliban dream team" in exchange for Bergdahl on Monday. Graham is expected to coast in his primary next Tuesday.

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Republicans may have some traction, as Bergdahl has been accused of going AWOL and the five-for-one swap has been criticized. While the issue is unlikely to be a major one heading into Election Day, more Republicans could use it the coming days to attack President Obama and force red-state Democrats to weigh in, forcing them off-message.

Keep an eye The Hill’s Ballot Box for tonight’s primary results in New Jersey, Mississippi, Alabama (polls close at 8 p.m. EST), New Mexico, South Dakota (9 p.m. EST) Iowa, Montana (10 p.m. EST) and California (11 p.m. EST) and follow us at @jessicataylor, @cam_joseph and @ajjaffe.

 

SENATE SHOWDOWN

GIFFORDS: Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun control group created by former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), announced which candidates it will back this fall. The list is heavy on Senate Democrats who supported tightening background check restrictions, but also includes a few House members, including Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.).

AR-SEN (PRYOR): Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) leads Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) 46 percent to 41 percent in a new poll conducted for the GOP group American Crossroads, which also released an ad attacking Pryor on ObamaCare. Recent nonpartisan polling has found Pryor with a slight lead.

Cotton blasted President Obama for signing off on a deal to exchange U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban commanders, calling it a "grievous error" that could cost U.S. lives in a local podcast and releasing an open letter saying Obama has “misled” the American people on the exchange’s details.

Arkansas Democrats say they have enough signatures to get a minimum wage increase initiative on this fall’s ballot, which could boost Democratic turnout for Pryor.

NH-SEN (SHAHEEN): Bringing further scrutiny to Republican Scott Brown’s business ties, a new report reveals executives at Global Digital Solutions Inc., for which Brown is a board member, were sued for securities fraud in 2012.  A Boston Globe report on Brown’s ties to the murky business out this week prompted criticism from his opponents in the New Hampshire GOP Senate primary and calls for him to release his financial disclosures, which he successfully filed to delay until just a month before the primary.

SD-SEN (OPEN): Physician Annette Bosworth won’t disappear from the political scene after she loses Tuesday night’s GOP Senate primary to former Gov. Mike Rounds, as expected — she’s launching a political action committee to “go above the media [and] to call out the corruption” and help elect “a new generation of leaders.” The website she launched with the PAC indicates she may use it to continue to engage in the South Dakota Senate race after the primary, as it includes an ad from Bosworth attacking Rounds.

OK-SEN (OPEN): Oklahomans for a Conservative Future, a group supporting former Oklahoma Speaker T.W. Shannon’s (R) bid for Senate, launched the first negative attack of the race, hitting Rep. James Lankford (R) for his votes to raise the debt limit, among others. Lankford released a new ad of his own on Tuesday in which he can be seen leaving his house in Oklahoma to head to Washington, and a narrator declares, “while other conservatives talk about what they would do, James Lankford is already doing it.”

KY-SEN (MCCONNELL): Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, a group backing Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R) reelection bid, launched a new radio ad hitting Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes for her support for Obama in spite of his environmental policies. Also on Tuesday, McConnell introduced a bill imposing restrictions on the Environmental Protection Agency's carbon rule, which the Grimes campaign said was “inadequate.” “As Alison outlined in January, we must work to not only rein in the EPA’s overburdensome regulations, but also invest in clean coal technology, support coal and energy research, and keep foreign markets open for coal,” said Grimes campaign manager Jonathan Hurst in a statement.

Meanwhile, veterans group VoteVets.org is running an ad in the Louisville Courier hitting McConnell for, it says, opposing a bill that would’ve expanded veterans’ benefits and authorized 27 new clinics and medical facilities for veterans.

KS-SEN (ROBERTS): Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) has avoided a second conservative challenger entering his primary, leaving him to battle radiologist Milton Wolf for reelection in August.

 

BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE

NE-02 (TERRY): An internal poll from Democrat Brad Ashford’s campaign shows him tied with Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), with each taking 41 percent and 4 percent going to libertarian Steven Laird. Terry is deeply underwater with likely voters in the survey, with 63 percent approving of his job performance. Terry defeated a primary challenger earlier this year with the slimmest margin he’s seen in his career.

MA-06 (TIERNEY): The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Republican Richard Tisei in his rematch against Rep. John Tierney (D).

NY-21 (OPEN): American Crossroads waded into the Republican primary for retiring Rep. Bill Owens’s (D) seat, spending $240,000 on an ad highlighting GOP candidate Matt Doheny’s “top mistakes,” including being charged with boating while drunk. Doheny, who’s facing former George W. Bush official Elise Stefanik, slammed her for the ads in a statement and wondered, “what has Elise Stefanik promised her DC handlers that they are trying to buy this seat in Congress for her?”

ME-02 (OPEN), AZ-07 (OPEN): Progressive group MoveOn.org endorsed front-runners Emily Cain and Ruben Gallego in competitive Democratic primaries in Maine’s 2nd District and Arizona’s 7th, respectively.

LA-05 (MCALLISTER): Former Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.) has resigned from his position as secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs less than a year after coming on board, a move that could indicate he’s looking more closely at a bid for his old seat. Its current representative, Republican Vance McAllister, has managed to weather a scandal sparked by a video showing him kissing a staffer, and he’s suggested he could run for reelection this fall.

 

2016 WATCH

HILLARY: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will participate in a town hall at the Newseum sponsored by CNN later this month.

CRUZ: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced a bill that would allow unlimited donations to candidates and strip Congress of the ability to regulate any campaign spending.

CLIMATE CHANGE: Voters are more likely to support a candidate in 2016 who believes climate change is real and caused by human activity than one who doesn't, according to a new poll from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling conducted for the liberal group Americans United for Change.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY 

“Look, if I’ve got to get your eyes to my penis to see the problems with the nation, so be it.” — privacy activist Brian Zulberti, protesting outside the Supreme Court 

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