Given Utah's red-state status, Tea Party favorite Mike Lee (R) is expected to win the Senate race in November.
Democratic Secretary of State Elaine Marshall has defeated former state Sen. Cal Cunningham in North Carolina's Senate runoff, according to the Associated Press.
Marshall has 61 percent of the vote to Cunningham's 39 percent, with less than 20 percent of the state's counties officially reporting results.
After Marshall finished first in the May 4 primary — she beat Cunningham 36 percent to 27 percent — the race became an exercise in motivating and mobilizing voters for what was always expected to be a low turnout runoff.
In the closing days, the focus was more on style than substance. Cunningham traversed the state on an 18-stop "Beat Burr" bus tour, making the case to voters that he would be the more viable Democrat against Sen. Richard Burr (R) in the fall. Marshall painted herself as the anti-establishment candidate and worked to focus attention on Cunningham's backing from national Democrats.
Marshall adviser Thomas Mills said since the primary, the campaign has been able to galvanize support by playing the anti-establishment card. "I don't think the folks at the [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee] realize how angry our supporters are down here," Mills said ahead of Tuesday's vote.
The policy differences between Marshall and Cunningham weren't exactly sharp. The only issue the two had a definite break on was the war in Afghanistan. Cunningham, an Iraq veteran, warned against a premature withdrawal of American troops from the country, while Marshall made clear her opposition to President Barack Obama's decision to send additional troops to the country.
It was largely Marshall's stance on Afghanistan that earned her the backing of liberal groups like MoveOn and Democracy for America. But that same dynamic played into Cunningham's electability argument. To really put the seat in play come November, national Democrats believe they need a candidate who can credibly run toward the center.
The DSCC did not make an official public endorsement in the race, but it's not much of a secret that Cunningham was their preferred candidate from the start. The committee played a hand in convincing Cunningham to run for the seat last year, and several sitting Democratic senators sent money Cunningham's way.
Just after Marshall's win became official, the DSCC sent around a memo from North Carolina-based pollster Tom Jensen that touted Marshall's general-election prospects. "Democrats got their more electable candidate for the fall by nominating Elaine Marshall to run against Richard Burr tonight," Jensen wrote.
The pollster noted that Marshall has consistently performed better than Cunningham in Public Policy Polling's hypothetical general-election match-ups against Burr every month since August. "Marshall is looking considerably more competitive against Richard Burr at this point in the election cycle than Kay Hagan did against Elizabeth Dole two years ago," the memo said.
For Marshall, the question now is how much money will come from the national party for the general election. If Democrats are serious about putting the seat in play, their nominee will need some real financial help, even in a year where a handful of other states offer Democrats better pick-up opportunities.
Despite Burr's weak poll numbers, he boasts a hefty campaign account. The Republican incumbent had just shy of $5 million cash on hand according to his most recent FEC filing.
— Updated at 8:53 p.m.
The Ballot Box will be monitoring the results of some key primaries Tuesday night. Check back as the polls close. Here are the times (for those on the East Coast):
South Carolina runoff: 7 p.m.
North Carolina: 7:30 p.m.
Mississippi runoff: 8 p.m.
Utah: 10 p.m.
(h/t Swing State Project)
Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) was the first of Florida's Senate candidates to react Tuesday to a federal court decision that blocked the temporary deep-water drilling moratorium imposed by President Barack Obama.
"Today's ruling by a Louisiana judge to block the six-month drilling moratorium is alarming and unwise," Meek said in a statement. "BP's massive oil spill more than justifies airing on the side of caution over false comfort. If this is not adequate reasoning, I don't know what is."
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the administration will appeal the decision.
Democrat Jeff Greene said he stands with President Obama in his decision to appeal the ruling. "It's an outrage that at a time when America's workers, employers and environment have been devastated by the catastrophic oil spill by BP, a federal judge would side with big oil companies and block this sensible moratorium on deepwater drilling," Greene said in a statement.
The Senate candidate also used the occasion to rip Meek, Gov. Charlie Crist and Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio, "all of who have received money from the oil industry," Greene said in the statement. "I believe that in addition to a moratorium on oil drilling, we should also have a moratorium on campaign contributions by oil companies."
The campaigns of Charlie Crist (I) and Marco Rubio (R) have yet to react to the court's ruling.
The oil spill has emerged as an issue in the Senate race. Gov. Crist has pushed for an amendment to the state constitution that would permanently ban drilling off the Florida coast — a position Rubio opposed. Both Meek and Greene have said they would support a permanent ban.
J.D. Hayworth (R) is touting the results of a new Arizona Senate primary poll that shows him within 11 points of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
"Sen. McCain finds his popularity in decline," Hayworth said in a statement. "He actually dropped in the poll from last month to today."
In a Rasmussen Reports survey out Tuesday, McCain had the support of 47 percent of respondents, while the former congressman got backing from 36 percent. A Rasmussen poll last month had McCain ahead by 12 points.
"Rasmussen compared Sen. McCain's standing today to that of Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania who lost this year after he led in just about all early polling. The Specter factor seems to be at play in this race," Hayworth said.
The Hayworth camp also noted that the McCain has spent "more than $3 million on misleading, negative attack ads."
"Despite a massive, negative, misleading campaign by Sen. McCain, voters still recognize that he has been there too long and does not represent our values," Hayworth said.
A spokesman for the Arizona senator declined to comment on campaign spending.
The telephone survey of 707 probable GOP primary voters in Arizona was conducted June 16. The results don't reflect the revelations about Hayworth that emerged this week.
A video surfaced showing him shilling for National Grants Conferences, a firm that helps customers tap into "hundreds of billions of dollars" in "free" government money.
It's not something that Arizona's fiscal conservatives will appreciate.
--Updated at 4:29 p.m.
The candidates in Florida's Democratic Senate primary will meet Tuesday for their first debate of the race. The stakes are high for Rep. Kendrick Meek (D), who is staring down self-funding billionaire Jeff Greene for the Democratic nomination.
With Greene's heavy spending on TV ads, including running an ad in the Washington media market, a Quinnipiac poll has him just two points behind Meek. But the poll also showed that name recognition for the two candidates was abysmally low — a full 37 percent of voters were undecided.
It makes Tuesday's debate all-important for Meek, who is trying to define Greene before the self-funder's spending really kicks in and deflect electability concerns that have arisen about his own candidacy in Democratic circles.
In an e-mail memo Tuesday morning, the Meek campaign laid out its line of attack. The e-mail labels Greene "a Wall Street billionaire," hits Greene for not releasing his tax returns and attacks the candidate's comments about his investment in so-called credit default swaps.
The debate comes after the release of a new general-election poll showing Independent candidate Charlie Crist with a double-digit lead in a three-way race with Republican Marco Rubio and Meek. The Florida Chamber of Commerce poll had Crist out in front with 42 percent to Rubio's 31. Meek was in third place with just 14 percent of the vote.
The primary is August 24.
Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle has hired a firm to handle media for her campaign against Sen. Harry Reid.
Sarah Palin will head to California on Friday and Democrats are using the visit to hit Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina.
Sen. Barbara Boxer's (D-Calif.) campaign released a Web video Monday linking Fiorina to Palin on issues such as gun ownership rights and offshore oil drilling. "Given Palin's pivotal role in the GOP Senate primary, we thought she might be campaigning for Carly Fiorina on this trip," Rose Kapolczynski, Boxer's campaign manager, said in a statement.
But it turns out, they're not. Fiorina will be in private meetings that day, according to her campaign.
That doesn't matter, according to Kapolczynski. "They're already together on the issues — and out of step with Californians."
The Fiorina camp said it was "glad" to have Palin's endorsement, which came during the primary campaign.
"While Carly Fiorina is on the campaign trail talking to voters about the issues they care about most — creating jobs and reining in an out-of-control government — Barbara Boxer is trying to shore up a base of voters that should already be supporting her," Amy Thoma, a spokeswoman for the campaign, said in a statement. "That Boxer’s support base is so apathetic simply underscores just how endangered she really is."
Palin is set to speak at a $500-a-plate fundraiser for California State University, Stanislaus, as part of the school's 50th anniversary. The event generated controversy after documents showing the indulgences Palin asked for were discovered by students back in April.
Palin reportedly demanded, among other things, first-class plane tickets for two from Alaska, a one-bedroom suite plus two rooms in deluxe accommodations, and bottled water with "bendable straws" at the podium.
Does Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul (R) support bartering for healthcare?
He did in 2002, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, which conducted a review of Paul's public appearances from the last dozen years.
From the paper’s Sunday edition:
Paul has condemned Medicare as ‘socialism;’ denounced seat-belt and anti-smoking laws as ‘Nanny-state’ paternalism; called for voluntary, rather than mandatory, accommodation of people with disabilities; and suggested using satellites to monitor America's borders for illegal immigrants.
But what may be more troubling for the National Republican Senatorial Committee is that Paul also "criticized private health insurance, saying it keeps patents from negotiating lower prices with their doctors."
"We need to get insurance of out of the way and let the consumer interact with their doctor the way they did basically before World War II," he said during a local TV appearance on Dec. 2, 2002.
A spokesman for the Paul campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Bartering comments have caused problems for other Republicans this cycle.
Nevada Republican Sue Lowden was the frontrunner for her party's Senate nomination until she made similar remarks at a town hall event in Mesquite, Nev.
She continued to expand on the bartering theme during the campaign.
"Before we all started having healthcare, in the olden days, our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor," Lowden said during a TV interview. "I'm not backing down from that system."
Lowden subsequently lost the primary to former state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle (R) by 14 points.
In North Carolina's Democratic Senate primary, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall is banking on what her campaign is billing as its superior ground game to carry the candidate to victory in Tuesday's runoff against former state Sen. Cal Cunningham. The winner will face Sen. Richard Burr (R) in November.
It's a grassroots surge the Marshall camp said is a result of voter anger over the national party's role in the primary. Marshall has worked to label Cunningham as the candidate of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), pointing to financial support his campaign has received from a handful of sitting Democratic senators. While the committee has not weighed in officially, the DSCC played a hand in convincing Cunningham to jump into the race last year.
"We've got a large volunteer base and we're basically on the phones around the clock," said Thomas Mills, an adviser to the Marshall campaign, which has been pushing the anti-establishment line hard. "I don't think the folks at the DSCC realize how angry people are down here."
Publicly, the DSCC denied it has a favored candidate in the race. In a statement, DSCC national press secretary Deirdre Murphy said, "Given Richard Burr's blank slate of North Carolina accomplishments and his anemic approval numbers, we believe either Democrat who wins the runoff could make this a competitive race."
But privately some national Democrats have indicated they view Cunningham as the more electable candidate against Burr.
Mills said the storyline is motivating Marshall supporters ahead of a runoff where turnout is expected to be low. Reports out of the state over the weekend showed the early voting numbers were even lower than expected. Party officials said the best-case scenario is that 100,000 voters come out Tuesday.
The Marshall camp has longtime Democratic consultant Jim Spencer running its voter contact effort, which is focused heavily on phone contact. Spencer heads the Boston-based firm The Campaign Network. "I don't want to sound overconfident, but the numbers are trending stronger our way," Spencer told the Ballot Box. "We've invested a lot in this program."
Cunningham, meanwhile, has been on a "Beat Burr" bus tour for the campaign's final stretch, criss-crossing the state with the argument that he is best positioned to defeat Burr. Campaign spokesman Jared Leopold said he is confident Cunningham's voter contact effort is more robust than Marshall's and that he does not think the "Cunningham as establishment candidate" storyline is selling in the state.
"I don't hear people talking about Washington, unless I'm in Washington, North Carolina," said Leopold.