CAMPAIGN OVERNIGHT: House of cards

Tuesday was a comedy of errors for Democrats and their ballot issues. 

In Florida’s swing 13th District, Democrats won’t even have a candidate against Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.) this fall after their chosen candidate, Ed Jany, already running as an independent, abruptly ended his campaign. 

Just last week the DCCC was touting Jany, a retired Army veteran who switched from the GOP to run. But that was after Alex Sink, who fell short in the March special election, and others passed on the race. And Democrats had even reportedly pressured a prominent black minister not to run so they could clear the field for Jany.

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On Tuesday Jany had an abrupt change of heart, citing his work commitments. But those are realities that existed before; the real reason is that the political neophyte was dogged by a damaging report he had exaggerated his education. 

After promising for years they would win this highly vulnerable Tampa Bay seat in former Rep. Bill Young's (R) wake, Democrats have spent millions in an unsuccessful special election and now won’t even have a name on the ballot this fall. Remember — both candidate recruitment and vetting are key when you’re already facing a hostile map. Democrats lost two winnable seats in California last year because they didn’t have a good candidate (CA-21) or any candidate (CA-31). Now, that horror is playing out again. 

Tuesday didn’t bring good news for Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) either, who won’t be on the August primary ballot after falling more than 400 signatures short of qualifying. 

If Conyers fails to challenge the ruling or in a write-in bid, Democrats won’t lose the safe seat. But it’s more bad headlines for Dems — his departure after nearly 50 years in Congress would be another blow to the Wolverine State’s delegation, which is losing decades of clout with four of its most senior members departing. 

 

SENATE SHOWDOWN

NE-SEN (OPEN): Nebraska Republican Senate candidate Ben Sasse said he is “absolutely” comfortable backing Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as the Republican Caucus leader, despite McConnell’s reported opposition to his candidacy. McConnell and national conservative groups will be watching Nebraska’s GOP Senate primary Tuesday night to see who comes out on top.

GA-SEN (OPEN): Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) released an internal poll with businessman David Perdue at 22 percent support, her at 20 percent and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) at 18 percent. The trio are battling for two slots in the runoff following next Tuesday’s primary. Kingston also debuted a new ad touting his fiscal conservatism.

KY-SEN, SC-SEN (MCCONNELL, GRAHAM): Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who are both facing primaries in the next month, on Tuesday called for legislation banning abortion after 20 weeks.

HI-SEN (SCHATZ): A new survey conducted by Public Policy Polling for Democracy for America, which has endorsed Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), shows him opening up a 15-point lead over his primary challenger, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii).

LA-SEN (LANDRIEU): Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) is launching a series of reelection ads featuring her father, former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu, bantering back and forth with her about her work for the state.

MS-SEN (COCHRAN): Conservative news site Breitbart is reporting that Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) has taken 42 trips across five continents with his executive assistant, Kay Webber, since 2002. Cochran also rents a basement apartment from Webber, which he has listed as his primary address on some records, prompting questions over his residency from his primary challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

AK-SEN (BEGICH): Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) leads Republican front-runner Dan Sullivan (R) 42 percent to 37 percent in a new automated poll from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.

Sullivan’s lead has widened against his primary opponents — he has 40 percent support to Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell's (R) 26 percent and 14 percent for 2010 Senate nominee Joe Miller (R). Most polls have found Begich with a narrow lead in the race.

NC-SEN (HAGAN): Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) leads Republican nominee Thom Tillis (R) 38 percent to 36 percent, with a libertarian candidate pulling 11 percent, a sign of how unpopular both have become, according to a new automated poll from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling. 

SC-SEN (GRAHAM): Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) was censured by a Charleston County Republican group that views him as too liberal. Graham is expected to easily prevail over his numerous primary challengers.

AR-SEN (PRYOR): Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) released an internal poll showing him leading Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) by a 2-point margin, pushing back against recent public polling that has found Pryor ahead. 

 

BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE

MI-13 (CONYERS): Wayne County’s clerk has ruled that Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) didn’t submit enough valid signatures to qualify for the primary, leading to a likely legal challenge and possible write-in campaign for the 84-year-old congressman.

FL-13 (JOLLY): Independent Ed Jany, the candidate heavily touted by national Democrats to take on Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.) this fall, dropped out of the race less than two weeks after jumping in, leaving Democrats without a candidate in the race.

NC-2 (ELLMERS): Former American Idol star Clay Aiken (D) has been declared the winner of his Democratic primary, the day after his opponent, former North Carolina Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco (D), suddenly died. He’ll face Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) this fall.

LA-05 (MCALLISTER): Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.) isn’t completely ruling out a run for reelection this fall, despite previously saying he would serve out his term but wouldn’t run again for his seat. McAllister has faced, and rebuked, calls to resign since a video of him kissing a staffer that’s not his wife went public.

NY-21 (OPEN): New York Republican House candidate Matt Doheny features his infant son Declan in a new campaign ad, declaring that children like his own face “too much debt and not enough jobs or opportunity simply because D.C. insiders can’t solve problems.” Doheny is vying with former Bush official Elise Stefanik to take on Democrat Aaron Wolf for retiring Rep. Bill Owens’s seat.

PA-8 (FITZPATRICK), CA-7 (BERA): Democratic candidate Kevin Strouse’s parents donated to a number of other Democrats, including Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.), whose parents then immediately donated to Strouse’s campaign, seemingly finding a way around campaign finance laws limiting maximum contributions.

CA-25 (OPEN): Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is endorsing former California state Sen. Tony Strickland (R) in his bid to replace retiring Rep. Buck McKeon (R). Strickland has both primary and general election opponents and the GOP establishment is rallying around him.

FL-26 (GARCIA): Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) endorsed Republican Carlos Curbelo over former Rep. David Rivera (R) to take on Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.) this fall.

 

2016 WATCH

CHRISTIE SPOKESMAN ASSERTS GOV’S INNOCENCE:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) longtime press secretary, Michael Drewniak, on Tuesday told a legislative panel investigating lane closures on the George Washington Bridge that he was certain his boss didn’t know about the scheme, which was seen as an act of political retribution orchestrated by members of Christie’s administration.

RUBIO PROPOSES SOCIAL SECURITY, MEDICARE REFORMS:

In an appearance at the National Press Club on Tuesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) proposed significant reforms to Social Security and Medicare that he said would protect the lifespan of the two popular entitlement programs. The address was the latest in a series of policy prescriptions Rubio has outlined in recent weeks as he seeks to regain a position on the national stage in advance of a potential 2016 presidential run. He also hinted he’d run for president even if former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) does.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY 

“He always tells good jokes.” — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), speaking Tuesday at the National Press Club on why he’d invite Vice President Biden to his first “Beer Summit” if elected president 

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