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Ad wars in Arkansas heat up in advance of June 8 runoff

1. Less than two weeks before Arkansas voters head back to the polls to choose between Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) and Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (D), both sides launched ads aimed at defining the incumbent.

Lincoln, who narrowly edged Halter in the May 18 primary but was unable to break the 50 percent to avoid the June 8 runoff, began running a television ad that touts her work to help pass a financial regulatory reform bill.

The ad opens with a clip of MSNBC host Rachel Maddow -- a heroic figure among liberals -- taking note of the legislation's passage; "Blanche Lincoln is standing firm for Arkansas, for historic change," says the ad's narrator at the close of the commercial.

Even as Lincoln was seeking to paint herself as a populist -- battling Wall Street for average Arkansans -- the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) put up a 60-second ad that casts her as the consummate Washington insider.

"When Blanche Lincoln moved her family full time to Washington D.C., she quickly became part of the place," says the ad's narrator as movers are shown on screen packing up a truck with boxes. "And that's the problem."

The commercial, which shows the moving truck making its ways to Washington, goes on to note that Lincoln took campaign contributions from health insurance companies, Goldman Sachs and large energy/oil companies. It finishes with an image of Lincoln's large home in northern Virginia as the narrator says: "Blanche Lincoln packed up and left us years ago...maybe it's time for Arkansas to send her packing for good." (By the way, it' a campaign ad classic to show the nice home in Washington owned by a Senator; the Club for Growth did the same to Tom Daschle in the 2004 South Dakota Senate race.)

The ad wars make clear that the June 8 runoff is functionally a referendum on Lincoln and whether she remains an effective Senator for the state or not. Lincoln has, unlike many of her colleagues, argued throughout the campaign that her seniority -- she is the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee -- benefits the state in a variety of ways. Halter, on the other hand, has said that Lincoln has gone Washington and is now looking out for insider interests rather than average Arkansans.

The x-factor in the race? Former President Bill Clinton who ruled Arkansas politics as governor in the 1980s and remains extremely popular in the state. Clinton will be on Arkansas to stump for Lincoln on Friday and how his visit plays with the state's voters could play a significant role in who wins in 13 days time.

2. Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman (R) has opened up a wide lead over state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner (R) in the California Republican gubernatorial primary, according to a new poll released by Whitman's campaign Tuesday.

The poll shows Whitman leading Poizner 53 percent to 27 percent among likely Republican primary voters. It also shows Whitman with higher favorability ratings than Poizner, despite a recent offensive by Poizner accusing Whitman of supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Whitman, who has spent almost $70 million on her bid, had maintained a steady double-digit lead over Poizner for months, but several recent polls had shown that advantage eroding. A Public Policy Institute of California poll released last week showed Whitman leading Poizner by only 9 points.

On a conference call with reporters today, Whitman senior strategist Mike Murphy said the reason Poizner dropped is because he's "succeeded in being a negative surrogate" for Democratic frontrunner Jerry Brown (D). "They failed at having a positive candidacy," Murphy said of Poizner.

Left unsaid by Murphy is that in response to Poizner's attacks, Whitman has pivoted to focus more on touting her Republican credentials and taking a hard line stance on immigration -- running, in other words, a much more by-the-numbers primary campaign. (Privately, neutral strategists say it has worked and expect Whitman to win somewhat easily.)

Murphy said that if Whitman won the primary on June 8, she would run a "classic Reaganesque, winning-California, big-tent campaign" in the fall. Waiting in the general election is state Attorney General Jerry Brown (D) who held the state's top job in the 1970s.

3. Illinois state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D) announced yesterday that two White House officials will be visiting the state in June to campaign in support of his Senate bid.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina will be traveling to Illinois in mid-June, according to a release from Giannoulias' campaign.

The dispatching of the two officials is a show of support from the White House albeit a somewhat tepid one.

Duncan is former CEO of Chicago Public schools and a onetime basketball buddy of Giannoulias'. (Duncan played at Harvard and professionally in Australia and, according to the Fix's crack basketball sources in Washington, is the best player in the Administration.)

Messina, who previously served as chief of staff to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and to then-candidate Obama's presidential campaign in 2008, has largely played a behind-the-scenes but critical role in the administration.

Still unanswered, of course, is the larger question of whether the president himself will campaign for Giannoulias in the race for his old seat. This weekend Obama will be making his first trip back to Chicago since last summer, and although he gave Giannoulias a hug and called him the state's "soon-to-be-senator" at an event during his last trip to downstate Illinois in April, the president has largely kept his distance from Giannoulias who has struggled to build momentum following the collapse of his family's bank last month.

Recent polling shows Giannoulias in a dead heat with Rep. Mark Kirk (R).

4. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) makes his first Iowa trip of the 2010 cycle today and is making the most of it with stops in three cities.

First, he'll attend a fundraising luncheon hosted by the state Republican Party in Cedar Rapids. Then he's slated to give the keynote speech at the American Future Fund's Conservative Lecture Series in Davenport. He rounds out the day at the Polk County Republican Party's spring fundraiser in Des Moines.

Gingrich has acknowledged to openly contemplating a run for president in 2012 and has said he will make a decision early next year. But, he has created some controversy of late by comparing the Obama administration to Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in his new book.

Gingrich has also been actively involved in 2010 races; just yesterday, he endorsed former eBay CEO Meg Whitman (R) in the California gubernatorial race.

5. Republicans got a bit of good news and a bit of bad news on the primary front in Virginia on Tuesday.

First, the good news for the GOP: car dealer Scott Rigell (R), the establishment favorite against Rep. Glenn Nye (D) this fall, released a new Public Opinion Strategies poll showing him leading businessman Bert Mizusawa 47 percent to 10 in the June 8 primary in the Virginia Beach-based 2nd district.

Part of Rigell's lead can be chalked up to his high name ID, but he's got solid numbers in other data in the poll (64 percent favorable, 4 percent unfavorable) and a strong cash advantage that will likely insulate him from any last minute surge.

While the party's chances of taking down Nye may be looking up, the GOP primary in Perriello's district is a jumble with state Sen. Robert Hurt, two self-funders and a number of candidates seeking tea party support in the mix. And, now it looks like the mess might spill over into the general election.

Tea party activist Jeffrey Clark has said that if Hurt wins the primary, he will run as a third-party candidate in the name of taking down Hurt. (Fiscal conservatives oppose Hurt because of his vote for then Gov. Mark Warner's tax plan last decade.) And another candidate in the primary, Jim McKelvey, has already suggested he would line up behind just such a candidate.

It's not clear yet how formidable Clark is, but even if he can just get in the ballot and steal a few percentage points, that might be all freshman Rep.Tom Perriello needs to avoid defeat. Similar third-party candidates were able to play spoiler for the opponents of freshman Reps. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio) and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) in 2008.

Perriello and Nye represent top targets for Republicans in 2008 and winning their districts (and districts like them across the country) is a must if the party wants to make substantial gains this fall.

With Felicia Sonmez and Aaron Blake

By Chris Cillizza  |  May 26, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  
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Next: Dino Rossi officially kicks off Washington Senate bid


Yeah, Maddow, is a hero to liberals. They embrace all deviants.

Posted by: numbersch13 | May 26, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

There is NO WAY I'm voting for Meg Whitman or any other Republican hack that spends more than $50,000,000 to get into an office that pays less than $200,000 per year.

It's quite obvious that it's worth way more than $50,000,000 to Meg Whitman to have the power of the Governor's Chair in the State of California.

After someone pays $50,000,000 for the power of the California Governorship, corruption follows.

Posted by: lindalovejones | May 26, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Couldn't resist that one, Joey. ;-)

Rand Paul needs a Boot to the Head.


Posted by: JakeD3 | May 26, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

"Our job is keep our boot on the neck of British Petroleum and make sure they live up to their responsibilities." Ken Salazar (to CNN) 5/1

Posted by: shrink2 | May 26, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

"We will keep our boot on their neck until the job gets done." Ken Salazar 5/24

Posted by: shrink2 | May 26, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

1. This is a great Arkansas D primary, and it helps US Rep. John Boozman as he's the definate favorite in November. Boozman should cruise a GE victory picking up a seat for Republicans. It may well be against Halter, as the liberal left has invaded Arkansas...which will make it all the easier for Boozman in the GE.

2. Wow, $70 million spent by Whitman on a primary! How much will she spend on a GE: $250 million or so? Whitman has lined up the Republican faithful and they are putting their hopes on her in California. Now Whitman didn't want Fiorina to win the Senate primary, and I'm pretty certain she's going to now. She's well ahead of Campbell & DeVore, so it looks to be Whitman & Fiorina now. I have thought for some time that Poizner will make it a race and it looks like he did. I also thought Poizner would win, and it looks now like Whitman will be the GOP nominee. She will definately contend hard against Brown and has a great shot of winning, but it's no sure thing no matter how much money she spends. Romney & Rice were good commercials to use in California, I give her that. This primary ain't over, but Whitman certainly has a big upper hand now.

3. Mark Kirk has raised lots of cash and ran a near perfect campaign in Illinois for the US Senate seat of Obama. He's dead even against the ethically challenged Giannoulias and has alot of money and a great shot to win this race for a GOP senate majority in November.

Posted by: reason5 | May 26, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

'(boot on the neck of BP and so on)"

that was Rand Paul.

Posted by: drindl | May 26, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

bsimon, I don't agree with this, "There's a reasonable argument to be made that they're making the best decisions they can at any given time, given the available information," but this isn't the place to get into the weeds (ouch, sorry).

Even if it were true the administration had done and were now doing everything possible in a technical sense, the posturing (boot on the neck of BP and so on) is odious.

Prince William Sound has never recovered from the Exxon disaster, and the administration has to understand that no matter what is said, BP will not make this right. We know a lot of people will need to leave the region or find some other livelihood. The administration should be talking about taking care of the population and making those plans. People need hope, not another round of post hoc woulda coulda shouldas.

Posted by: shrink2 | May 26, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

"Bob Dole ran in 1992?"

Technically yes, for reelection to the Senate. But yes, I meant to write Bush. My bad.

Posted by: joeyjoejoe | May 26, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

"Funding for such a program has not been identified at this time. "

Funding for the EPA? That would be all that big government spending the wingers are so against. They're the ones at the same time wanting to defund government and then expect it to ride to their rescue.

Bobby Jindal was all 'keep the Feds away from my state' until the spill and now he's begging for US taxpayers to foot the bill.

This is all about your precious free market crap. In a truly free market, you clean up your own mess. You take the risks, not taxpayers.

In this crony capitalism we live in, taxpayers take the risks and corporations take the profits.

Posted by: drindl | May 26, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

shrink writes
"I agree with scrivener, listening to Lisa Jackson talking to NPR/ATC yesterday made me feel ill. Spin, blame circle talking points, defensive was awful. She gave no indication of competence, signaled no compassion, she just does not get it."

Yes and no. On the one hand, yes, she was spinning & pointing fingers. On the other hand, what blame should the EPA be taking? There's a reasonable argument to be made that they're making the best decisions they can at any given time, given the available information. So... early in the leak, they approved the pumping of huge quantities of disperant into the leak, close to the source of the leak. At the time, the thought was the leak could be contained by the dome/funnel thing. They also thought the leak was smaller, which is perhaps where the EPA shoulders the most blame: they should be able to quantify, or make reasonable estimates of the size of the leak, without relying on BP or industry sources. Of course, that would require a budget for ROVs and the technical teams / support vessels that such vehicles require. Funding for such a program has not been identified at this time.

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 26, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Bob Dole ran in 1992?

Posted by: JakeD3 | May 26, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Arkansas Election results:


Clinton 53.7
Dole 36.8


Clinton 53.7
Dole 35.8


Clinton 57.5
Nelson 42.5


Clinton 63.9
White 36.1

Clinton 62.5
Freeman 37.4

Clearly unpopular. Next.

Posted by: joeyjoejoe | May 26, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Ugh, a severe case of unparented rich kid disease. It is chronic and in most cases incurable; in some cases it can be fatal to self and others (videlicet, Kennedy family).

Posted by: shrink2 | May 26, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Bill Clinton remains popular in Arkansas...? Don't think he was ever that popular. Barely carried the state when he was elected Pres. Many Arkansans were pleased to see him go.

Posted by: bobgilbert1 | May 26, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Scriv, Obama has actually been down here for his photo-op, sleeves rolled up, presser with the Gulf as the backdrop. I don't put a lot of stock in those things, but I do think he comforted some people. In any case, it's been done. As for his actual handling of it, I really don't know what he could have done different. Not a defense of Obama, I'm just claiming ignorance. Perhaps there was something, perhaps there wasn't. At least woth Katrina, you can monitor the thing well in advance of it hitting. No warning for this explosion. Could more have been done at the onset of the leak? Perhaps, but I don't really know.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 26, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

"Griff Harsh V was a member of Princeton's class of 2008 (among the first classes eligible to live in Whitman College, which his mother donated $30M to build) until mysterious circumstances and a disciplinary hearing forced him to withdraw. Perhaps the infraction had something to do with Griff's documented pigheadedness when he drinks? Quoth campus rag The Nassau Weekly:

Overheard at Charter [eating club]

Griff Harsh (Meg Whitman's son) throws beer in Guy's face.
Guy: You can't do that to people.
Griff Harsh (points at himself): Billionaire."

Posted by: drindl | May 26, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

6. Steve Pearlstein's devastating column on deregulation.

He was pretty good on C-SPAN this morning. There's no free lunch boys and girls and you're not just getting your money back in retirement.

Posted by: JakeD3 | May 26, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

hey shrink -- turns out the sons are spoiled rotten, badly behaving white trash:

"Meg Whitman's sons, Griff and Will Harsh, have been kicked out of prep schools, an eating club, dormitories, and Princeton's class of 2008, say people who know them. One incident involving the n-word is already internet famous.

Yesterday we documented big brother Griff's beer-throwing and sheltered ways. Today, a glimpse at Will Harsh's little brother blues—and how he compensated with white entitlement, according to a tipster/commenter and classmate:

Griff's non-refundable membership to Cottage [eating club] was paid in full when he got suspended. So some of the officers would let Will attend some meals and formals events in his brother's place until Will got banned from there.

The story goes that Will yelled "what are all these n*ggers doing here" one night when all the members of the Black Arts Company where there to celebrate a show they had performed. Cottage is know as one of the whiter clubs on campus so I assume that he was shocked to see so many black people there in a night. He was already on notice with Cottage officers because of an altercation he started with a bouncer early in the year."

Posted by: drindl | May 26, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

"rotten values in that family"

jeff, pray tell, dish the dirt, we're all eyes...

Posted by: shrink2 | May 26, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Meg Whitman can buy everything except common sense, decency, a personality and any clue how to run a campaign or a state.

Posted by: drindl | May 26, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Anyone who has ever come into contact with Whitman's sons understands that there are some rotten values in that family.

Posted by: jeffwacker | May 26, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

I agree with scrivener, listening to Lisa Jackson talking to NPR/ATC yesterday made me feel ill. Spin, blame circle talking points, defensive was awful. She gave no indication of competence, signaled no compassion, she just does not get it.

Posted by: shrink2 | May 26, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Letfreedomring, yes Arnold failed and Meg or Jerry will too. The State of California is fundamentally unsound. No one expects to pay (work) for what they expect to get. The economy depends upon those who will, illegal labor and so the underground economy problem rivals those of the so called "developing" countries. In time, there will be a few rich people and an enormous mass of poor.

Posted by: shrink2 | May 26, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Meg Whitman is riding to the rescue of the most dysfunctional basket case of a State in the Union. They are lucky to have this brilliant woman as a candidate. The progressives have killed California and driven jobs out and spent them into a budget disaster. Arnold tried and failed to herd the cats. Meg will need help in the legislature there. Democrats lead in registration but their frustration and virtually the highest unemployment and taxes in the country could finally give Meg a victory. The families of California better include her in their prayers at night.

Posted by: LETFREEDOMRING2 | May 26, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse


Not to beat a dead horse, but it's like rushing to a friend's side when he/she's suddenly traumatized and in need of comfort. Obama should clear the decks, head down to the Gulf TODAY, and do his press briefing down there, with the local AND national media. The local press would appreciate the attention, and Obama would be showing some compassion instead of a peculiar, detached aloofness.

And, God forbid, if this "top kill" makes matters worse, at least he'll be on the scene to give the impression that he's finally taking charge... OR

Posted by: scrivener50 | May 26, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

DDAWD @ 8:47 a.m.:

My point is that after the "lessons learned" of Katrina, it is incredible that the Obama White House could be so tone deaf this week on the Gulf oil spill disaster. An EPA political fund-raiser with the heirs to the Getty oil fortune, and an a last-minute trip to the Gulf put off until the weekend? REALLY....I have never seen James Carville as exercised against a Democrat as he was this morning on GMA. He said "heads should roll" in the White House. This is huge. This could be the beginning of the end for Dems' chances to retain control of Congress... and this blog has a much wider readership than Klein's, IMO. That's all I'm saying...

Posted by: scrivener50 | May 26, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

scriv, do you read Ezra Kline's blog? A lot of stuff on the leak and a very good blog in general if you want to read about policy.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 26, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

So, the great thing about Democracy is simple, voters deserve what they get from their politicians. If Connecticut wants Linda McMahon, by all means, have her. California wanted Arnold, they had him. Now, if they want a candidate pretending to be Ronald Reagan, endorsed by Dick Cheney and Newt Gingrich, they can have her, by all means, take her, please.

Posted by: shrink2 | May 26, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Poor Blanche. Couldn't get 50% first time around and probably can't now. Doesn't matter. Put Arkansas in the 'R' column.

Posted by: Brigade | May 26, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

re: #2, I guess I shouldn't be surprised by this. CC uses an internal poll to tout Whitman. Of course it's going to be skewed for her, c'mon Chris, this is the best you can come up with? Aren't you worried because Palin endorsed her, which seems to be the kiss of death most times?

Posted by: katem1 | May 26, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

. . .wouldn't you want to see a cage match between Rachel Maddow and Sarah Palin? ;)

Posted by: Gallenod | May 26, 2010 8:06 AM

Even though Maddow is really a man, I'd still put my money on Palin.

Posted by: Brigade | May 26, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

But I might just be missing a lot. If I knew nothing of Bill O' Reilly except for the few of his shows I've watched, I'd actually think of him as a very reasonable person who I agree with a whole lot.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 26, 2010 8:18 AM

You sure wouldn't want to be guided by your own impressions. Not when you can let a bunch of left-wing whackos tell you what to think of somebody.

Posted by: Brigade | May 26, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

AndyR3 wrote,
"I am a liberal through and through and I can't stand that woman. IMO, she is the Rush Limbaugh of the left; opinionated, inflammatory, and more interested in winning than in compromising."

Haven't you heard? Broadwayjoe tells us she may be the new host of MEET THE PRESS.

Posted by: Brigade | May 26, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Scrivener50 wrote,
"As Obama and Dems choke on Gulf disaster, we're talkin' "ad wars in Arkansas?""

Shhhhh. Most of the libs want to blame it on Bush and Cheney. Delusional. The microwaves have fried their brains. They even think the voters are in love with them.

Posted by: Brigade | May 26, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

As Obama and Dems choke on Gulf disaster, we're talkin' "ad wars in Arkansas?"


Army "Unconventional Warfare" manual holds clues to "Obama's Katrina?"



Oil spill diverts attention from domestic atrocities...


Has POTUS been a target of cell tower- based microwave radio frequency weapon system -- deployed nationwide? OR OR Vic Livingston's Facebook page ("Notes").

Posted by: scrivener50 | May 26, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Andy, I actually kinda like her. I just wouldn't call her a hero. I don't watch her show a lot, so I'm no expert. But while she does have an opinion and viewpoint, she never struck me as especially inflammatory, like Olbermann might come across. More like someone who is laughing at Republicans instead of yelling at them. At least in the handful of shows I watched. I think I just like her quirky personality.

But I might just be missing a lot. If I knew nothing of Bill O' Reilly except for the few of his shows I've watched, I'd actually think of him as a very reasonable person who I agree with a whole lot.

Posted by: DDAWD | May 26, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Aw, DDAWD & AndyR3, wouldn't you want to see a cage match between Rachel Maddow and Sarah Palin? ;)

Posted by: Gallenod | May 26, 2010 8:06 AM | Report abuse

DDAWD, I was thinking the exact same thing. I am a liberal through and through and I can't stand that woman. IMO, she is the Rush Limbaugh of the left; opinionated, inflammatory, and more interested in winning than in compromising.

Whitman is going to have some difficulty pivoting to the center in the General if she keeps making pro-teaparty statements on immigration, taxes, etc. Jerry Brown on the other hand is sitting there banking cash and letting Poizner do all his work for him.

Also I found this interesting from the new poll out of Quinnipac
"American voters also say 42 - 36 percent that they would vote for a Democrat rather than a Republican in this year's Congressional elections, reversing a 44 - 39 percent Republican lead March 24."

The GOP has peaked, and the financial reform bill is going to be the first nail in their coffin.

Posted by: AndyR3 | May 26, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Rachael Maddow is a hero for liberals?

Posted by: DDAWD | May 26, 2010 6:43 AM | Report abuse

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