Over the next two weeks, fundraising numbers big and small will roll in from all over the country as campaigns celebrate success (or try to hide failure) from the first months of 2014. Here’s what we’ll be looking out for:
— Do Senate Democrats pick up the pace? Senate Dems, especially the incumbents, looked pretty solid on the cash front at the end of last year. But as Koch-connected spending against them piled up rapidly at the end of last year and the beginning of this one, many of them decided to put significant resources into early TV advertising to combat the assault from the outside with personal, image-boosting messages. Budgets may have been readjusted over the last few months.
— Do any primary challengers soar? Money is always an obstacle for primary challengers, who need to manage a certain baseline to break through. That’s why this quarter will be important, when challengers can start accruing the higher marginal benefits of that early money. Keep an eye on challengers like Seth Moulton (D) (running vs. Rep. John Tierney (D) in MA-06 and widely unknown at this point) and two Club for Growth endorsees, John Ratcliffe (TX-04) and Bryan Smith (ID-02), who are also starting from scratch and challenging GOP incumbents in May.
Battleground House districts bear watching too: As Democratic pollster Celinda Lake mentioned at a recent Christian Science Monitor breakfast, her party’s big money may shift toward saving the Senate, leaving House candidates to shoulder more of the burden on their own. Those areas will all have our focus over the next few weeks.
— Scott Bland
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"Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has appointed a veteran legal insider with strong personal ties to the Obama administration to serve as his special adviser focused exclusively on fixing the Washington region’s troubled Metro system. Kathryn Thomson, who was expected to leave her job as the Department of Transportation’s top lawyer, instead will stay on as Foxx’s special adviser on Metro oversight." She'll start this week.
"The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that prosecutors in Georgia violated the Constitution by striking every black prospective juror in a death penalty case against a black defendant. The vote was 7 to 1, with Justice Clarence Thomas dissenting. The case, Foster v. Chatman, No. 14-8349, arose from the 1987 trial of Timothy T. Foster, an African-American facing the death penalty for killing Queen Madge White, an elderly white woman, when he was 18."
A report from House Democrats charges that NFL officials retracted funding for a $16 million NIH study on head injuries after repeated unsuccessful attempts to direct the money away from a Boston University researcher and instead to scientists who might be more favorable to the league. Democrats have been trying to go after the NFL over its handling of concussion science, although the sport's popularity and increased lobbying presence has made that difficult. The new revelations about meddling in the NIH study should offer more ammo.
"A unanimous Supreme Court has dismissed a Republican appeal over congressional districts in Virginia. The justices on Monday left in place a decision by a lower court that said Virginia illegally packed black voters into one district to make adjacent districts safer for Republican incumbents." The Court said the Republican elected officials who challenged the decision did not have standing to do so.