Democrats have said since Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) first became the GOP Senate front-runner that they’d be able to paint her as outside the mainstream, a clone of her big-name backer, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R). Now they’re getting some traction with that argument.

A day after Palin called for President Obama’s impeachment, recordings surfaced of Ernst saying she was open to the same during an early primary debate. Ernst disavowed the comments and said that there’d been no evidence the president should be impeached. But not long after those comments, another interview surfaced from a few weeks ago in which she BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerDems face hard choice for State of the Union response Even some conservatives seem open to return to earmarks Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism MORE-should-pursue-obama-impeachment-if-he-has-evidence-195218273.html">said the decision should be Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerDems face hard choice for State of the Union response Even some conservatives seem open to return to earmarks Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism MORE’s (R-Ohio) and that she wasn’t “encouraging or discouraging” it.

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The comments by themselves aren’t likely to derail Ernst’s campaign. But they’re a sign that she may have had to run too hard to the right, and leave open the question about whether the untested candidate might have said other things that will come back to haunt her this fall in the battle against 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), who’s had gaffe issues of his own.

 

SENATE SHOWDOWN

LA-SEN (LANDRIEU), AR-SEN (PRYOR): Americans for Prosperity launched two ads targeting Sen. Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuProject Veritas at risk of losing fundraising license in New York, AG warns You want to recall John McCain? Good luck, it will be impossible CNN producer on new O'Keefe video: Voters are 'stupid,' Trump is 'crazy' MORE (D-La.) and one targeting Sen. Mark PryorMark Lunsford PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (D-Ark.) Wednesday. The Louisiana ads slammed Landrieu on veteran healthcare and for touting her role as chairwoman of the Energy Committee, arguing that Landrieu’s “clout’s not working.” In Arkansas, the group hit Pryor for “making things harder” for the 84,000 unemployed Arkansans and urged voters to “tell Mark Pryor Arkansas families need jobs, not bigger government.”

NH-SEN (SHAHEEN): Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSupreme Court to hear online sales tax case State official indicates US military role in Syria post-ISIS centered on Iran Overnight Health Care: Dems press HHS pick on drug prices | Alexander, Trump discuss ObamaCare fix | Senate Dems seek B to fight opioids | Maryland eyes ObamaCare mandate replacement MORE (D) tops 50 percent support while Republican Scott Brown remains stalled at 38 percent support among likely voters in a new WMUR Granite State Poll of likely voters, conducted by the University of New Hampshire. The survey shows her expanding her lead over all three of her potential Republican opponents, and posting the highest favorability rating of every figure surveyed, with 57 percent of respondents viewing her favorably.

WV-SEN (OPEN): Rep. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoGOP may increase IRS’s budget People with addiction issues should be able to control their own health data Trump signs bipartisan bill to combat synthetic opioids MORE (R-W.Va.) brought in $1.3 million in second-quarter fundraising, about half a million more than her Democratic opponent, Natalie Tennant, who raised $777,000. Capito’s latest fundraising numbers put her with $5 million cash on hand. Tennant did not announce how much cash she had in the bank at the end of the second quarter.

HI-SEN (SCHATZ): Sen. Brian Schatz released a new ad Tuesday, a positive spot touting his role as the only freshman senator chairing two subcommittees. The ad features local Hawaiians praising Schatz showing “the kind of leadership Hawaii needs” and will run statewide for a week on broadcast and cable. 

AK-SEN (BEGICH): Republican candidate Dan Sullivan debuted a new ad Tuesday pushing back against Democratic attacks on a controversial land proposal addressed while he was state Natural Resources commissioner that Democrats have suggested hurt hunters in the state. Sullivan’s spot features a hunters’ rights advocate who says she trusts Sullivan “because he has stood up for hunters and our Second Amendment."

CO-SEN (UDALL): Sen. Mark UdallMark Emery UdallDemocratic primary could upend bid for Colorado seat Picking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Gorsuch's critics, running out of arguments, falsely scream 'sexist' MORE (D-Colo.) canceled his plans to appear alongside President Obama in Denver on Wednesday evening, saying that he needed to stay in Washington for important last-minute votes. Republicans have seized Udall’s cancellation as an opportunity to argue that Obama’s dipping approval rating in many states is a liability to Democratic Senate incumbents. 

GA-SEN (OPEN): Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn called on her Republican opponents, David Perdue and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), to refuse third-party ads in the general election and to limit how much outside groups can spend in the race. “If we can join together and pledge to limit outside spending and third party ads, we can together show that the people of our state are tired of politics as usual,” Nunn urged the GOP candidates in an open letter Wednesday. That’d be a big boost to Nunn, who has a huge warchest; it's unlikely to be agreed to by either of her opponents.

KY-SEN (MCCONNELL): Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Overnight Finance: Lawmakers see shutdown odds rising | Trump calls for looser rules for bank loans | Consumer bureau moves to revise payday lending rule | Trump warns China on trade deficit MORE (R-Ky.) accepted the invitation to participate in the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s candidate forum in late August, urging his opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes (D), to do the same. McConnell’s campaign also debuted a new ad Wednesday, hitting Grimes for her “laughable” attack ad that criticized the senator on Medicare. McConnell’s spot charges that the Grimes ad mischaracterized McConnell’s voting record on Medicare and suggests that Obama and Grimes will “pay for Obamacare on the backs of Kentucky seniors.” 

MI-SEN (OPEN): Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) bested Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) in second-quarter fundraising. Land raked in more than $3.35 million in the latest quarter, including a $1.2 million loan that’s part of the $5 million she’s said she’ll self-fund, leaving her with more than $5.25 milloin cash on hand at the end of June. Peters raised nearly $2 million this quarter, but did not announce how much cash the campaign has on hand.

AR-SEN (PRYOR): A new survey out from Impact Management, an Arkansas-based GOP firm, finds Rep. Tom CottonTom CottonMcCarthy: ‘No deadline on DACA’ DHS chief takes heat over Trump furor Lawmakers see shutdown’s odds rising MORE (R-Ark.) leading Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) by 47 to 43 percent of the vote, with 10 percent undecided.

MS-SEN (COCHRAN): In an op-ed published in the Clarion-Ledger, conservative commentator Ann Coulter defended Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranTrump's chief agricultural negotiator will fight for American farmers Rep. Cummings hospitalized, wife suspends gubernatorial campaign Medical cannabis community must join together and resist any action taken against us MORE’s (R-Miss.) primary win over Chris McDaniel and criticized his supporters for pushing him to contest the results, warning they could ruin his political future in Mississippi.

ME-SEN (COLLINS): Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDemocrats search for 51st net neutrality vote Overnight Tech: States sue FCC over net neutrality repeal | Senate Dems reach 50 votes on measure to override repeal | Dems press Apple on phone slowdowns, kids' health | New Android malware found Overnight Regulation: Dems claim 50 votes in Senate to block net neutrality repeal | Consumer bureau takes first step to revising payday lending rule | Trump wants to loosen rules on bank loans | Pentagon, FDA to speed up military drug approvals MORE (R-Maine) raised just over $900,000 in the second quarter, leaving the senator with more than $4 million cash on hand at the end of June. 

 

BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE

MN-8 (NOLAN): Republican candidate Stewart Mills is out with an attack ad slamming Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.) on gun rights. Mills accuses Nolan of only putting on his hunting greens around election time while voting repeatedly in Washington to take away Second Amendment rights. 

MI-3 (AMASH): The Club for Growth plans to hit Republican Brian Ellis, who is challenging Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashOvernight Defense: House votes to renew surveillance program | More drones, troops headed to Afghanistan | Former officers urge lawmakers to curb Trump's nuclear powers Overnight Tech: House votes to reauthorize surveillance powers | Twitter on defensive after Project Veritas video | Senate panel to hold hearing on bitcoin Overnight Cybersecurity: House votes to renew NSA spying | Trump tweets spark confusion | Signs Russian hackers are targeting Olympics | Bannon expected to appear before House Intel panel MORE (R-Mich.) in the August GOP primary, with another round of television and radio ads. Federal Election Commission reports show the group spending $180,000 on the ads, bringing the group’s total spending on the race to $375,000.

NH-1 (SHEA-PORTER), NH-2 (KUSTER): A new poll out Tuesday shows former Rep. Frank Guinta (R-N.H.) and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.) in close competition for the 1st District seat, Guinta slightly leading Shea-Porter by 46 to 43 percent. The survey, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, also shows Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.) leading both of her potential Republican competitors, topping Gary Lambert by 9 percentage points and Marilinda Garcia by 14 percentage points.

FL-2 (SOUTHERLAND): Rep. Steve Southerland’s Democratic challenger, Gwen Graham, raised $563,000 in the second quarter, leaving her with $1.57 cash on hand. Southerland, who ended the first quarter of fundraising with $1.18 million in the bank and has the ability to self-fund, has not yet released his second-quarter numbers.

AZ-9 (SINEMA): Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) raised just over $580,000 in second-quarter fundraising. The sum brings her campaign to $1.59 million cash on hand at the end of June and $2.45 total funds raised, the most of any congressional campaign in the state this cycle. 

NJ-2 (LOBIONDO): Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) raised $411,281 in second-quarter fundraising, according to his campaign’s announcement Wednesday, leaving him with more than $1.5 million cash on hand. LoBiondo’s campaign is using some of this cash to launch a new campaign website, coupled with a voter outreach program and a social media effort. 

AZ-2 (BARBER): Rep. Ron BarberRonald (Ron) Sylvester BarberPrinciples and actions mean more than Jeff Flake’s words Giffords to lawmakers avoiding town halls: 'Have some courage' Ten House seats Dems hope Trump will tilt MORE’s (D-Ariz.) Republican challenger, Martha McSally, has reserved television time in the Tucson media market for the final weeks of the congressional race, Roll Call reports. In addition to McSally’s $460,000 buy, the House Majority PAC has increased its television reservations in the district from a $140,000 to a $440,000 buy in anticipation of Barber and McSally’s 2012 rematch. 

 

2016 WATCH

CHRISTIE: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) will travel to New Hampshire for the second time in two months, as he is set to headline a Republican fundraiser on July 31. The trip to the Granite State seems to suggest to many that the governor is still considering a bid for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. 

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“The dinosaurs died, and we don’t know why, but the world just adjusted. And to say that this is what’s going to cause detriment to people, I just don’t think it’s out there.”  

—Kentucky state Rep. Kevin Sinnette (D) criticizing the science behind climate change during a discussion about the new Environmental Protection Agency carbon emission regulations