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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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."