In many ways, Kansas’s primary was a good example of the cycle as a whole. Incumbents like Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) struggled badly but still managed to win. Don’t be too surprised to see the same phenomenon up and down Tennessee‘s ballot on Thursday — but we could see another incumbent (or even two) bite the dust.
— Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R) in TN-04 is the Volunteer State’s most endangered incumbent, but there’s still a chance he finds his way to renomination this week, based on three factors. DesJarlais’s scandal broke at exactly the right time (nearly two years ago, between the 2012 primary and general) to give it time to fade in people’s minds; he’s been aggressive about making amends; and outside anti-abortion and other conservative groups haven’t gotten involved. That said, much of the Tennessee GOP establishment lined up behind state Sen. Jim Tracy (R), a big help to him despite DesJarlais’s “career politician” attacks.
— As TN-04 has gotten late attention, TN-03 has gone under the radar a bit. But as we’ve written before, second-term Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R) has never consolidated the GOP base, winning just 39% in the 2012 GOP primary. Weston Wamp (R) has real flaws, but he’s been reasonably well-funded and solid on the trail, and Fleischmann’s negative closing campaign hitting Wamp on health care and immigration (including a photoshopped mailer showing Wamp burning a passport) speaks for itself.
— Then there’s the big fish: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R), who has never trailed in polls or faced well-funded attacks this year and, like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) and others before him, successfully dissuaded any tier-one challengers from testing him. Still, Graham, Roberts, and others have gotten dragged under 60% (or in Roberts’s case, 50%) by flawed challengers this year — though Alexander’s in-state favorability has been better than most, too.
Thursday will be the second of three primary days this week, and incumbents have tough battles in all of them.— Scott Bland
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Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”
"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.
"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."
"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.