American Crossroads announces 11 Senate targets
1. American Crossroads, the conservative independent organization promising to spend upwards of $50 million on races this fall, has settled on 11 targeted Senate contests, according to sources briefed on the group's plans.
In each of the 11 races -- in Ohio, Missouri, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Florida, Illinois and Washington state -- American Crossroads plans to hire a media consultant and pollster tasked with crafting a tailored message.
The group's first foray into a race came earlier this week in Nevada when it dropped about $120,000 on a week-long television buy that hits Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on his support for the $787 billion economic stimulus plan.
Wilson Grand is handling the ads for American Crossroads in Nevada while Jan van Lohuizen of Voter/Consumer Research, who handled polling for President George W. Bush's 2004 re-election bid, will play the same role for the conservative group in the Silver State.
Sources familiar with the group, which was formed in the spring with the blessing of major GOP figures including Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, cast the selection of Senate targets as evidence that it is beginning to function in the way it was imagined.
As further evidence, they point to the hires of Carl Forti, a former political director for Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential camp, to a similar role for American Crossroads as well as Chris McInerney, another former Romney aide, as the organization's research director.
It's not yet clear whether American Crossroads can come close to meeting the $50 million fundraising goal it set for itself. In its first financial filing, the group showed just over $1 million raised.
Democratic strategists moved last week to counter the potential impact of American Crossroads by forming Commonsense Ten, although whether -- and how -- that organization will be funded remains very much up in the air.
2. Members of the South Carolina Democratic Party's executive committee are meeting Thursday to determine whether to call for a new election following Alvin Greene's (D) out-of-nowhere win over former state Rep. Vic Rawl in last week's Senate Democratic primary.
Rawl has requested a new election, citing voting irregularities; Thursday, he will be making his case to the 92 members of the state party's executive committee. If the party opts to push for a new primary, it's unclear when such a contest would be held. The state's regularly scheduled runoff will take place June 22.
The state election commission announced Wednesday that it will not investigate Greene's win.
Still, questions continue to swirl around Greene's surprise victory.
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) has said that Greene was a "plant," and Clyburn told CNN's Candy Crowley on Sunday: "I saw in the Democratic primary elephant dung all over the place." Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has asked state Attorney General Henry McMaster (R) to investigate how Greene got the $10,440 to pay the state filing fee. And on Tuesday, a Republican state legislator asked the state police to conduct their own investigation.
The debate over how -- and whether -- Greene won the race fairly is somewhat moot. Whoever emerges as the Democratic nominee will face Sen. Jim DeMint (R) and start the general election as a major underdog.
3. An independent organization funded by cash from organized labor and the Democratic Governors Association is up with a new ad hitting California GOP gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman.
The ad, funded by a group called California Working Families, attacks Whitman for not voting before she was a candidate for office. "Meg Whitman wants our vote," says the commercial's narrator. "But for 28 years, she didn't bother to vote."
The remainder of the spot is audio of Whitman jousting with a reporter who repeatedly asks her why she didn't vote. "I should have, and I didn't," she says again and again.
The ad comes as Whitman continues to flood the airwaves with ads funded by her massive personal fortune. She recently dumped another $20 million into her campaign, bringing her total investment to more than $91 million.
It remains to be seen how effective Whitman's spotty voting record will play in the general election fight against state Attorney General Jerry Brown (D). Whitman endured a similar attack during the GOP primary from state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. She won that race going away -- thanks to her free-spending on television ads.
4. Ohio Democratic Rep. Betty Sutton is in a real race against wealthy care-dealer Tom Ganley, according to a new poll conducted for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Ganley stood at 44 percent to 41 percent for Sutton in the Public Opinion Strategies survey.
Ganley was a surprise recruit for the NRCC, abandoning a quixotic Senate challenge to former Rep. Rob Portman (R) to take on Sutton who was first elected in 2006.
Ganley's personal wealth -- he has loaned his campaign more than $2 million -- and Sutton's relative meager fundraising (just over $300,000 on hand as of mid-April) have combined to create an unlikely opportunity.
Despite the fact that President Obama carried the district by 15 points in 2008, the POS poll showed President Obama's approval rating at a less stellar 49 percent positive / 44 percent negative.
Sutton has not faced a serious race since she won her seat in 2006, winning both her races with better than 60 percent of the vote.
5. Indiana Democrats will decide their nominee today in the special election race to replace former Rep. Mark Souder (R), who retired last month following revelations that he'd had an affair with a part-time staffer.
Retired physician Thomas Hayhurst, who lost to Souder 54 percent to 46 percent in 2006, is the likely nominee; Democrats already nominated him on May 4 for a fall rematch against Souder, two weeks before the eight-term congressman stepped down.
Last weekend, Republicans selected state Sen. Marlin Stutzman, who came up short in his bid for the Republican Senate nomination last month.
Citing the cost of holding a separate election, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) set the special for the same day as the general election: November 2. That means that the candidates facing off for the seat will appear twice on the ballot. The special will determine who fills out Souder's term until Jan. 3 until the general election winner is sworn in to the 112th Congress.
Hayhurst is well-funded -- showing $233,000 on hand as of mid-April. But with the national environment favoring Republicans -- and in a district that went for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) 56 percent to 43 percent in 2008 -- it's Stutzman's race to lose.
June 17, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Morning Fix | Tags: Alvin Greene, American Crossroads, California governor's race, Harry Reid, Meg Whitman, Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Democratic primary
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