North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (R ) pulled out a solid primary win Tuesday night — but that didn’t earn him much of a break the next morning. 


Sen. Kay HaganKay Ruthven HaganTillis trails Democratic challenger by 7 points in North Carolina poll Tillis trails Democratic challenger by 7 points in North Carolina poll North Carolina businessman will challenge Tillis in GOP primary MORE’s (D-N.C.) team immediately went on the attack, unloading on Tillis with a number of past statements he’s made they think will come back to haunt him. 

Tillis didn’t help himself with a sometimes-defensive interview Wednesday morning on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown, in which host Chuck Todd pushed him to explain comments that the GOP should “divide and conquer” those on government assistance and repeatedly ducked questions on whether he thinks North Carolina’s minimum wage should be increased.

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Hagan and her allies have already been attacking Tillis for months, while GOP groups have spent a combined $12 million on TV attacking Hagan, and the latest salvo shows there will be little let-up from either side between now and election day. Strategists are already predicting one of the nastiest races of the election cycle in a state that’s featured some brutal races in the past (see: Helms, Jesse).

SENATE SHOWDOWN

CHAMBER SALVOS: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched its latest ad blitz, a $3 million push that includes English and Spanish ads featuring Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Rubio responds to journalist who called it 'strange' to see him at Trump rally Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments MORE (R-Fla.) touting Rep. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerKoch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner Koch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner Democrats' 2020 Achilles's heel: The Senate MORE (R-Colo.) in his bid against Sen. Mark UdallMark Emery UdallDemocrats hope some presidential candidates drop out — and run for Senate  Democrats hope some presidential candidates drop out — and run for Senate  Denver Post editorial board says Gardner endorsement was 'mistake' MORE (D-Colo.). 

Other ads support GOP Reps. Andy BarrGarland (Andy) Hale BarrDemocrats set to use McConnell's legislative graveyard against him Democrats set to use McConnell's legislative graveyard against him 58 GOP lawmakers vote against disaster aid bill MORE (Ky.), Dan BenishekDaniel (Dan) Joseph BenishekRepublican groups launch final ad blitz in key House battlegrounds Tea Party class reassesses record Michigan Republican to retire MORE (Mich.), Mike Coffman (Colo.), MiChris Gibson (N.Y.), Joe Heck (Nev.), Mike Simpson (Idaho) and David Valadao (Calif.), as well as GOP candidates Bob Dold, running for his old seat in Illinois; Stewart Mills, challenging Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan in Minnesota; former Rep. Doug Ose, challenging Rep. Ami BeraAmerish (Ami) Babulal BeraOvernight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Cruz pitches Ocasio-Cortez on bill to make birth control available over the counter Cruz pitches Ocasio-Cortez on bill to make birth control available over the counter MORE (D-Calif.); and Richard Tisei, challenging Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.).

POLLING XL: A slew of new polls done for a pro-Keystone XL group found razor-tight Senate races in Kentucky and Iowa, Democrats with modest leads in Michigan and New Hampshire, and Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) with a comfortable double-digit lead over Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.).

GA-SEN (OPEN): A new automated internal poll released by former Secretary of State Karen Handel’s (R ) campaign finds businessman David Perdue (R ) at 23 percent, Handel at 21 percent, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) at 15 percent, Rep. Paul BrounPaul Collins BrounCalifornia lawmaker's chief of staff resigns after indictment Republican candidates run against ghost of John Boehner The Trail 2016: Let’s have another debate! MORE (R-Ga.) at 9 percent and Rep. Phil GingreyJohn (Phil) Phillip Gingrey2017's top health care stories, from ObamaCare to opioids Beating the drum on healthcare Former GOP chairman joins K Street MORE (R-Ga.) at 9 percent.

Gingrey is out with a new ad knocking Perdue’s “clever” ads as “politics as usual” and repeating his promise to repeal ObamaCare in his first term, or retire.  Kingston’s campaign rolled out an endorsement from wealthy businessman and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes (R ). Broun spent the day advocating for a law that would protect patients authorized to use medicinal marijuana under state law from federal prosecution. 

MT-SEN (WALSH): Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) is out with new ads attacking Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) for supporting ObamaCare. 

AR-SEN (PRYOR): As President Obama and 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.) toured areas of Arkansas hard-hit by recent tornadoes, Rep. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonOvernight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Iran announces it will exceed uranium stockpile restraints of nuclear deal MORE (R-Ark.) was in Washington giving a speech knocking Obama’s “anti-Constitutional” policies.

NE-SEN (OPEN): Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum jumped on the Ben Sasse bandwagon on Wednesday, endorsing the frontrunner just six days out from the primary. Meanwhile, a group supporting former state Treasurer Shane Osborn in the race launched another ad attacking Sasse, this time charging he tried to “hide behind” his family, pointing to an ad the candidate launched in which his daughters touted his opposition to ObamaCare.

OR-SEN (MERKLEY): A new super PAC, funded almost entirely by New York hedge fund manager Sean Fieler, has jumped into the Oregon GOP Senate primary, this time backing state Rep. Jason Conger. The group’s ad attacks his rival for the nomination, pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby, as "pro-abortion" and charges that she "says she won't vote to repeal Obamacare." Wehby could also face scrutiny surrounding a criminal case against an Oregon woman accused of securing unnecessary surgeries for her children, some of which Wehby performed.

SD-SEN (OPEN): Republican Senate hopeful Annette Bosworth and Independent Clayton Walker are facing an investigation from the South Dakota attorney general for potential criminal violations related to their nominating petitions, but the results of the investigation won’t be released until after the primary.

The GOP nominee is still likely to be former Gov. Mike Rounds, and a new poll from PPP shows him leading Democrat Rick Weiland by 10 points. Independent Larry Pressler takes 15 percent support, and independent Gordon Howie takes 4 percent.

WY-SEN/HOUSE: Former Second Lady Lynne Cheney said her daughter Liz, who briefly ran for Senate this year, would “be a terrific candidate and a terrific representative or senator for us” if she runs in the future. 

BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE

NC-2 (ELLMERS): Former American Idol star Clay Aiken (D) still has a 369 vote lead in his primary, but his opponent, former North Carolina Commerce Sec. Keith Crisco (D), says he’s going to wait until all the absentee and provisional votes are counted (potentially as late as next week) before deciding on his next move. 

TX-4 (HALL): Rep. Ralph HallRalph Moody HallFormer Texas GOP Rep. Ralph Hall dead at 95 GOP fights off primary challengers in deep-red Texas Most diverse Congress in history poised to take power MORE (R-Texas) and his opponent, former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe (R ), traded barbs in their first ads of the primary runoff election. Hall slams Ratcliffe as “corporate trial lawyer” whose firm “worked for groups lobbying for” ObamaCare, while Ratcliffe tweaks 91-year-old, saying "it's time for leaders who are focused on the next generation, not the next election."

FL-13 (JOLLY): The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a new IVR poll that they say shows their pick in the race, independent Ed Jany, running ahead of Rep. David Jolly (R) by four points. But a closer look shows that may be very misleading — it’s an informed ballot test and the DCCC didn’t release the initial toplines. 

CA-52 (PETERS): Rep. Scott Peters’s (D-Calif.) campaign has removed a blog post they linked to that referred to his openly gay opponent, former San Diego City Council member Carl DeMaio (R ), as a “Mary,” saying the post had been reposted by a staffer who didn’t know the term. The campaign apologized. 

WV-03 (RAHALL): Democratic super PAC House Majority PAC again tied Republican Evan Jenkins to the billionaire Koch Brothers in its newest ad, in which it also points to donations he’s received from lawyers and groups that the ad characterizes as opposed to mine workers’ best interests.

2016 WATCH

Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFive takeaways from Trump's 2020 kickoff rally Five takeaways from Trump's 2020 kickoff rally Trump jokes he'd get 'electric chair' if he deleted even one 'love note' email to Melania MORE on Wednesday said there is no reason for a new GOP-led committee to probe the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Clinton said she is satisfied with what is known about the events surrounding the attack that killed four Americans during her tenure at State, but said Congress’ actions were out of her hands.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) on Tuesday said Chelsea Clinton's recently announced pregnancy might open Hillary Clinton's eyes on abortion.

"Just knowing that her daughter Chelsea is pregnant with the baby — it is a real baby, you know. It is not some disposable something. And I know that is going to be controversial," Palin said in an interview with "Extra."

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) says he is open to another run for president but is unsure how he will get through the early primaries.

"I’m open, but here’s the deal: You have to be able to create a pathway from point A to point B,” Huntsman told Larry King in an interview for Ora.tv set to air May 8.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“When you talk about [sex], you think, well there’s a couple of horny people. No, that’s not the point. It’s called intimacy. Scratch my back. Give me a hug. Just a hug. I’d say, ‘Ok [pant-pant-pant].’ Just a touch, you know, a whack on the fanny in the kitchen.” — former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) on keeping the spark alive in his marriage.