Welcome back to Hotline Sort. David Rivera's ethical woes continue, Murphy's Congressional attendance record is scrutinized, Crossroads GPS goes up with ads in four Senate battlegrounds, and Bill Clinton comes to Obama's aid in a big way.
12) A federal judge ruled that voters in Nevada will no longer have the choice to support "none of the above" on the ballot - an option that will prevent voters from formally registering their apathy at the voting booth. Judge Robert Jones ruled that it's unconstitutional because "none" can never win an election.
Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller, a Democrat, said he plans to appeal the ruling.
11) More trouble for Florida freshman Rep. David Rivera, R-Fla: The FBI and Miami-Dade County police opened separate criminal investigations into a Democratic congressional candidate who was allegedly aided by Rivera.
From the Miami Herald:
Federal agents gathered campaign records and invoices, and began interviewing employees at two mail and data companies used by Democrat Justin Lamar Sternad's primary campaign. Sternad spent about $43,000 in unreported cash and checks on mail services, a witness told authorities.
Federal law required Sternad to quickly report any contributions -- including loans -- just before the Aug. 14 primary, which he lost to Democrat Joe Garcia, a longtime Rivera rival whom Sternad bashed in one of his 11 mailers.
Rivera, investigators suspect, was behind the sophisticated mail campaign run by Sternad, who was an unknown political newcomer and hotel night auditor.
10) The Stamford Advocate has a tough story out for the Democrat's Connecticut Senate nominee, Rep. Chris Murphy. The paper reports he was absent 78 percent of the time during his committee and subcommittee hearings in the 110th Congress, backing up an argument made by Republican Linda McMahon in her television ads attacking his record.
9) Crossroads GPS is out with four new ads going after Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio and Jon Tester, D-Mont., as well as Rep. Martin Heinrich, the Democratic Senate nominee in New Mexico. The anti-Nelson and anti-Brown ads focus on President Obama's health care law, the anti-Tester ad focuses on debt, and the ad against Heinrich attacks him over his votes for the stimulus.
The four ads cost Crossroads GPS $4.2 million.
8) The New York Times profiles the battle over early voting in Ohio, which became racially-charged after Franklin County Republican party chairman Doug Preisse told the Columbus Dispatch Sunday: "I guess I really actually feel we shouldn't contort the voting process to accommodate the urban -- read African-American -- voter-turnout machine."
Ohio's Republican Secretary of State announced all counties in Ohio would follow a uniform early voting procedure, with voters able to cast ballots beginning October 2 - one of the earliest dates of any state -- but not on weekends. The fact that early voting won't be available on weekends has enraged state Democrats, accusing Republicans of disenfranchising minority voters.
7) Check out our latest House Race Rankings, an exhaustive look at the 73 seats most likely to flip in November.
6) Mitt Romney released an energy plan
today that "includes granting states more regulatory power over drilling on federal lands, revitalizing the nuclear power industry, and approving the Keystone XL pipeline to carry more Canadian oil to refineries in the United States."
5) The Obama campaign announced it will be the first political campaign in history to accept small donations through cell phone text messages. The program will allow supporters to send contributions of less than $50 by texting "GIVE" to 62262 -- which corresponds with the letters in "Obama."
Text message contributors will see their donations charged to a given month's wireless bill.
4) Embattled Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin
may not be attending the Republican National Convention in Tampa, but he met with leading conservative groups there Wednesday. Politico reports
Akin met "with members of the Council for National Policy, a secretive coalition of powerful conservative and evangelical leaders, activists, and donors."
Showing how the contours of the Senate race have changed, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill joked
to a voter at a campaign stop: "You know, everything's pretty boring these days. ... We get no action on this campaign. Nobody's paying any attention"
Meanwhile, the Romney campaign is arguing
that while the Akin controversy "wreaked havoc" on the campaign's message, voters still are overwhelmingly concerned about the economy, and don't need to change strategy in response.
3) The front-page headline
in today's Wall Street Journal
: "Vow to Tame Partisan Rancor Eludes Obama Four Years In."
The night Barack Obama won the White House, he tried to summon forth the spirit of national unity he often invoked as a candidate, urging Americans not to think of themselves as fractured into "red states and blue states."
"While the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress," he told the throng gathered in Chicago and millions more watching on TV.
Almost four years later, few think those rifts have been healed. One of the central tenets of the 2008 Obama campaign was a promise to usher in an almost post-partisan era in Washington, but by most measures the capital's divisive tone has grown worse. The rancor has bled into the campaign, which has been marked by unusually negative rhetoric from both sides.
2) Ohio continues to look like a favorable state for the Obama campaign, according to a new CBS/New York Times/Quinnipiac survey
which shows Obama leading Romney 50 percent to 44 percent. Ohio was a state that the Obama campaign felt pessimistic about early on in the campaign, but Romney's relatively high unfavorable ratings has bolstered the president's fortunes in the Rust Belt battleground. One silver lining for Romney in Ohio: He holds a 48-43 percent lead among independents.
For more on the just-released swing-state polls in Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida, check out Hotline
polling editor Steven Shepard's full overview in National Journal
1) Bill Clinton
is featured for the first time in an Obama campaign ad
, and he makes the case that the president is best-equipped to manage the economy for the next four years. "This is a clear choice. The Republican plan is to cut more taxes on upper income people and go back to deregulation. That's what got us in trouble in the first place," Clinton says in the spot.
"President Obama has a plan to rebuild America from the ground up, investing in innovation, education, and job training. It only works if there is a strong middle class."
The Romney campaign has invoked Clinton's presidency with increasing regularity, seeking to contrast Obama's more-liberal governing record with Clinton's centrist approach.
The ad is airing in eight battleground states: New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Colorado, Ohio, Iowa and Nevada.