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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Paul Ryan told CNN today he's "not ready" to back Donald Trump at this time. "I'm not there right now," he said. Ryan said Trump needs to unify "all wings of the Republican Party and the conservative movement" and then run a campaign that will allow Americans to "have something that they're proud to support and proud to be a part of. And we've got a ways to go from here to there."
In The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin gives Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the longread treatment. The scourge of corrupt New York pols, bad actors on Wall Street, and New York gang members, Bharara learned at the foot of Chuck Schumer, the famously limelight-hogging senator whom he served as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee staff. No surprise then, that after President Obama appointed him, Bharara "brought a media-friendly approach to what has historically been a closed and guarded institution. In professional background, Bharara resembles his predecessors; in style, he’s very different. His personality reflects his dual life in New York’s political and legal firmament. A longtime prosecutor, he sometimes acts like a budding pol; his rhetoric leans more toward the wisecrack than toward the jeremiad. He expresses himself in the orderly paragraphs of a former high-school debater, but with deft comic timing and a gift for shtick."
President Obama has announced another round of commutations of prison sentences. Most of the 58 individuals named are incarcerated for possessions with intent to distribute controlled substances. The prisoners will be released between later this year and 2018.
The Daily Beast has unearthed a piece that Donald Trump wrote for Gear magazine in 2000, which anticipates his 2016 sales pitch quite well. "Perhaps it's time for a dealmaker who can get the leaders of Congress to the table, forge consensus, and strike compromise," he writes. Oddly, he opens by defending his reputation as a womanizer: "The hypocrites argue that a man who loves and appreciates beautiful women (and does so legally and openly) shouldn't become a national leader? Is there something wrong with appreciating beautiful women? Don't we want people in public office who show signs of life?"