Next Tuesday, most of the attention will go to Nebraska‘s fascinating, late-breaking GOP Senate primary, which doubles as conservative outside groups’ best chance to snare a Senate seat in 2014. Keep an eye on WV-02, too, one of the places where Senate Conservatives Fund and others are trying to build a farm team to give themselves more opportunities in the future.
— Especially with state Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) suffering from revelations of old radio comments, Nebraska’s Ben Sasse (R) is the greatest remaining hope for groups like SCF after setbacks across the map this year. With banker Sid Dinsdale (R) making a late self-funded charge after frontrunners Sasse and Shane Osborn (R) beat each other up, the stakes are very high for a few outside groups looking for wins next Tuesday.
— Meanwhile, in WV-02, SCF and friends have focused on the state’s open House district after failing to prevent its current occupant, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R), from breezing to the party’s Senate nomination. Groups like the SCF, the Club for Growth and other gnashed their teeth over Capito’s Senate run in late 2012—but they couldn’t derail it. By supporting Alex Mooney (R) in WV-02 and House candidates in a few other states this year, SCF and other endorsers are looking to seed the House with future Senate contenders to prevent the scenario from repeating.
— Mooney has outspent the field to put himself in position, but that strength highlights something else: The former Maryland GOP chair, who was a state senator there and considered running for MD-06 in 2012, is getting almost completely funded from out of state. He brought in less than $10,000 in itemized donations from West Virginia in 2013, and the pace hasn’t picked up much: His pre-primary FEC report shows just three West Virginia individual donors.
It’s not that there’s no local money to be had: In neighboring WV-03, Evan Jenkins (R) has raised well over a quarter-million dollars in itemized donations from West Virginians. There’s simply a lot of outside interest in what happens to WV-02 this year.
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President Obama has said he’ll nominate John King to fill out the last few months of Obama’s presidency as Secretary of Education. King has been in an acting secretary role since Arne Duncan stepped down in December. The White House is pressuring the Senate to act quickly on the nomination.
Bernie Sanders supporters aren’t taking this whole superdelegate thing lying down. Despite a tie a blowout win against Hillary Clinton, Sanders trails her by some 350 delegates in the overall count, thanks mostly to superdelegates pledging to support her. His backers have taken to creating a MoveOn.org petition to pressure the superdelegates to be flexible. It reads: “Commit to honoring the voters—let everyone know that you won’t allow your vote to defeat our votes. Announce that in the event of a close race, you’ll align yourself with regular voters—not party elites.” So far it’s attracted 162,000 signatures. Related: At FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver notes that in 2008, Clinton had a 154-50 superdelegate advantage over President Obama when New Hampshire voted. But “by the time Clinton ended her campaign on June 7, 2008, Obama had nearly a 2-to-1 superdelegate advantage over her,” owing in part to many pledged delegates who switched their support to Obama.
House Speaker Paul Ryan today is trying to convince his large but divided conference that they need to pass a budget under regular order. “Conservatives are revolting against higher top-line spending levels negotiated last fall by President Obama and Ryan’s predecessor, then-Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). GOP centrists are digging in on the other side, pledging to kill any budget that deviates from the two-year, bipartisan budget deal.” Ryan’s three options are to lower the budget numbers to appease the Freedom Caucus, “deem” a budget and move on to the appropriations process, or “preserve Obama-Boehner levels, but seek savings elsewhere.”
“A bill headed for President Barack Obama this week includes a provision that would ban U.S. imports of fish caught by slaves in Southeast Asia, gold mined by children in Africa and garments sewn by abused women in Bangladesh, closing a loophole in an 85-year-old tariff law.” The Senate approved the bill, which would also ban Internet taxes and overhaul trade laws, by a vote of 75-20. It now goes to President Obama.
Bernie Sanders has closed to within seven points of Hillary Clinton in a new Morning Consult survey. Clinton leads 46%-39%. Consistent with the New Hampshire voting results, Clinton does best with retirees, while Sanders leads by 20 percentage points among those under 30. On the Republican side, Donald Trump is far ahead with 44% support. Trailing by a huge margin are Ted Cruz (17%), Ben Carson (10%) and Marco Rubio (10%).