Hotline: February 12, 2016

SPOTLIGHT

Florida, Man

By Kyle Trygstad

As Marco Ru­bio looks to re­cov­er from a dis­ap­point­ing per­form­ance in New Hamp­shire, the race to re­place him in the Sen­ate con­tin­ues to un­ravel in­to one of the most un­wieldy on the com­pet­it­ive map. While it’s clear Ru­bio will be happy to leave the Sen­ate be­hind, his exit put a seat in a pres­id­en­tial battle­ground in jeop­ardy and could help Demo­crats net enough for a ma­jor­ity in the next Con­gress.

— The seat is as close to a must-win as Demo­crats have in the party’s quest to re­gain the ma­jor­ity after los­ing it in 2014. Need­ing at least four seats to win con­trol, or five if Re­pub­lic­ans win the White House, we ranked Flor­ida fourth in our latest rank­ings of the 10 seats most likely to flip party con­trol. There have been de­vel­op­ments on both sides this week in one of the only races with primar­ies in both parties.

— The New York Times re­por­ted Thursday it un­covered emails and mar­ket­ing doc­u­ments show­ing Rep. Alan Grayson (D) had high­lighted his status as a mem­ber of Con­gress to en­tice po­ten­tial in­vestors in his hedge fund, something the con­gress­man dis­puted in an in­ter­view with the Times. But an email last year from his now former cam­paign man­ager showed his top ad­visers pleaded with him to close his hedge fund, wor­ried it would make the “pro­gress­ive cru­sader,” as he’s called in his first TV ad, look like a hy­po­crite. While that story should help the DSCC’s en­dorsed can­did­ate, Rep. Patrick Murphy, the Re­pub­lic­an field con­tin­ues to grow.

Car­los Beruff, a wealthy home­build­er closely con­nec­ted to Gov. Rick Scott, is likely to enter the race against Scott’s lieu­ten­ant gov­ernor, Car­los Lopez-Cantera. The primary also in­cludes two mem­bers of Con­gress, Free­dom Caucus found­ing mem­ber Ron De­S­antis and Dav­id Jolly, and de­fense con­tract­or Todd Wil­cox. The latest entrant is already mak­ing waves, as Re­pub­lic­ans at­tempt to tie him to former GOP Gov. Charlie Crist, who is now run­ning for Con­gress as a Demo­crat, and Demo­crats try to cut in­to his out­sider pro­file.

Ru­bio could still have an out­sized role in this race and the fight for Sen­ate con­trol. Thanks to few­er tick­et-split­ting voters, a Re­pub­lic­an win­ning the White House in Novem­ber would likely pre­serve the Sen­ate ma­jor­ity for the GOP.
Kyle Tryg­stad



George W. Bush To Hit The Campaign Trail Next Week

Right To Rise has booked $2.2 million in airtime in Texas.

By Ally Mutnick

Former Pres­id­ent George W. Bush will make his first ap­pear­ance on the cam­paign trail on for his broth­er former Flor­ida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) at a rally on Monday in North Char­le­ston, South Car­o­lina. The former pres­id­ent was widely ex­pec­ted to join his broth­er ahead of the Feb. 20 primary in the state “which has a siz­able num­ber of U.S. mil­it­ary fa­cil­it­ies and mil­it­ary vet­er­ans who have sup­por­ted the former com­mand­er-in-chief.” (Re­u­ters

LONE STAR PUSH. “Bush is so far the only can­did­ate in Texas — Re­pub­lic­an or Demo­crat — with a not­able tele­vi­sion ad­vert­ising pres­ence.

From today through Feb. 29, his Right to Rise USA su­per PAC has already booked more than $2.2 mil­lion worth of TV ads on ma­jor net­work af­fil­i­ate sta­tions in Texas’ top three mar­kets: Dal­las, Hou­s­ton and San Ant­o­nio. It also ask re­served air­time in Aus­tin. (Cen­ter for Pub­lic In­teg­rity

HELP­ING HAND. As the South Car­o­lina primary date ap­proaches, Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham (R-SC) “will be us­ing his repu­ta­tion as a mil­it­ary hawk to con­vince South Car­olini­ans that only one can­did­ate has what it takes to win the White House.” 

Gra­ham: “I wish I were still in it, but I’m really im­pressed with Jeb on so many dif­fer­ent is­sues. He’s clearly done his home­work.” (The State)



Clinton Fine Tunes Message in Debate Against Sanders

Clinton sought to cast Sanders as a single-issue candidate who’s been too critical of Obama.

By karyn-bruggeman

Former Sec­ret­ary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton (D) “re­peatedly chal­lenged the tril­lion-dol­lar policy plans of” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) “at their … de­bate on Thursday night and por­trayed him as a big talk­er who needed to ‘level’ with voters about the dif­fi­culty of ac­com­plish­ing his agenda. For­eign af­fairs also took on un­usu­al prom­in­ence” and Clin­ton bashed Sanders’s “past cri­ti­cism of Pres­id­ent Obama.” (New York Times)

Clin­ton “re­mained calm” in the de­bate and “be­haved like someone … with every reas­on to be con­fid­ent and little to fear but her own mis­steps.” (New York Times)

AFRIC­AN-AMER­IC­AN, WO­MEN’S VOTE. Al Sharpton “is meet­ing with Hil­lary Clin­ton next Tues­day in New York City, along with Na­tion­al Urb­an League pres­id­ent Marc Mori­al and NAACP pres­id­ent Cor­nell Brooks.” (Politico) Sharpton met with Sanders earli­er this week.

Clin­ton “hired Zer­lina Max­well, a well-known polit­ic­al ana­lyst and writer, to join its di­git­al out­reach team. … Max­well will be fo­cused on a range of policy and cul­tur­al is­sues, in­clud­ing fem­in­ism and gender in­equal­ity.” (BuzzFeed)

Clin­ton re­leased a new TV ad Fri­day “fea­tur­ing a testi­mo­ni­al from Rev­er­end An­thony Thompson of Char­le­ston, South Car­o­lina, who lost his wife in the Char­le­ston mas­sacre.” In the spot, Thompson praises Clin­ton’s gun con­trol pro­pos­als. (re­lease)

FAM­ILY FUN-DRAIS­ING. Clin­ton “is plan­ning an in­tense fam­ily fun­drais­ing spree to Demo­crat­ic strong­holds in Feb­ru­ary that could net mil­lions of dol­lars. … Hil­lary, Bill and Chelsea Clin­ton have 32 fun­draisers sched­uled this month … a con­sid­er­able in­vest­ment of time. … Hil­lary Clin­ton will raise money in Wis­con­sin, Flor­ida, Vir­gin­ia, Illinois, Nevada, Cali­for­nia and South Car­o­lina in Feb­ru­ary. … Bill and Chelsea Clin­ton will head­line events in Michigan, Ohio, Rhode Is­land, Geor­gia, Pennsylvania, Kan­sas, Neb­raska, New York, Col­or­ado, Flor­ida and Lon­don, Eng­land.” (CNN)

A wealthy friend of former Pres­id­ent Bill Clin­ton (D), Ron Burkle, hasn’t yet giv­en any money to Clin­ton this cycle. “He even made a small — by bil­lion­aire stand­ards — dona­tion to Re­pub­lic­an hope­ful Marco Ru­bio, and re­portedly held a fun­draiser for the GOP’s John Kasich.” (NBC News)

EARLY PAC BOOST. The pro-Clin­ton su­per PAC Pri­or­it­ies USA Ac­tion “is mak­ing its first sig­ni­fic­ant for­ay in­to the 2016 primary, launch­ing a ra­dio cam­paign in South Car­o­lina and spear­head­ing a $4.5 mil­lion ef­fort to drive early turnout of Afric­an Amer­ic­an, Latino and fe­male voters in states that hold primary con­tests in March.” Pri­or­it­ies USA “ori­gin­ally planned to hold its fire for the gen­er­al elec­tion.” (Wash­ing­ton Post)

Clin­ton cam­paign bought $2.4 mil­lion in TV air­time across 18 states. (Morn­ing Con­sult)

BUZZ FACT­ORY. “A fed­er­al judge has ordered the State De­part­ment to make four ad­di­tion­al re­leases of Hil­lary Clin­ton’s emails between Sat­urday and the end of Feb­ru­ary.” (Politico)

“In­vest­ig­at­ors with the State De­part­ment is­sued a sub­poena to the Bill, Hil­lary and Chelsea Clin­ton Found­a­tion last fall seek­ing doc­u­ments about the char­ity’s pro­jects that may have re­quired ap­prov­al from the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment dur­ing … Clin­ton’s term as sec­ret­ary of state. … The sub­poena also asked for re­cords re­lated to Huma Abedin.” (Wash­ing­ton Post)

NEVADA EN­DORSE­MENT. U.S. Sen­ate can­did­ate and former Nevada At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Cath­er­ine Cortez Masto (D) en­dorsed Clin­ton on Thursday. (Las Ve­gas Sun)

Sen. Harry Re­id (D-NV), mean­while, said a con­tested Demo­crat­ic con­ven­tion “would be kind of fun.” (CNN)

FOR­EIGN POLICY NET­WORK. Clin­ton’s net­work of for­eign policy “ad­visors is so large, of­fi­cials in the Clin­ton cam­paign can­not of­fer a defin­it­ive es­tim­ate of its size. ‘Sev­er­al hun­dred’ is the stock an­swer. … Des­pite its un­wiel­di­ness, this net­work of policy ex­perts has be­come one of Clin­ton’s most im­port­ant weapons against” Sanders. “Not only does her phalanx of sur­rog­ates routinely bash the Ver­mont sen­at­or for his views on for­eign policy, their vast breadth has cre­ated the im­pres­sion that Clin­ton has locked up the Demo­crat­ic Party’s en­tire stable of for­eign-policy hands.” (For­eign Policy)

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) will host a press call Fri­day on what the Clin­ton camp is call­ing “the Com­mand­er-in-Chief gap” between her and Sanders. (re­lease)



Cruz Hits Rubio, Trump, Clinton With Attack Ads

His campaign pulls the Rubio ad because it features a softcore porn star.

By zach-montellaro

Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) cam­paign re­leased a wave of at­tack ads hit­ting real es­tate mogul Don­ald Trump (R), Sen. Marco Ru­bio (R-FL), and former Sec­ret­ary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton (D).

The first anti-Trump ad “rips Trump for at­tempt­ing to seize the prop­erty of an At­lantic City, N.J., wo­man who lived next to one of his casi­nos so he could cre­ate a park­ing lot and for his stated sup­port for em­in­ent do­main in cer­tain cases. Trump re­spon­ded to the ad dur­ing a cam­paign rally in Bat­on Rouge on Thursday night, call­ing the spot ‘so false.’” (Wash­ing­ton Post)

The anti-Trump spot has “small chil­dren mess around with a plastic ver­sion of the can­did­ate (‘he pre­tends to be a Re­pub­lic­an!’) and smash a ‘lousy’ doll house, yelling ‘em­in­ent do­main,’ as their hor­ri­fied par­ents watch.” The ad is air­ing on South Car­o­lina TV.

The anti-Ru­bio spot fea­tures a “Con­ser­vat­ive An­onym­ous” group, “ad­mit­ting that they were fooled by a polit­ic­al ‘pretty boy.’” It was also slated to air on TV. (Wash­ing­ton Post)

The ad was pulled by the cam­paign be­cause it fea­tured an act­ress who pre­vi­ously ap­peared in soft­core porn. (BuzzFeed)

Cruz’s cam­paign also re­leased an ad mock­ing Clin­ton for her email troubles, par­ody­ing a scene from the cult-hit movie “Of­fice Space.” (MS­N­BC)

WITH OBAMA. Cruz “told an aud­it­or­i­um of con­ser­vat­ive and evan­gel­ic­al voters that Marco Ru­bio and Don­ald Trump have ad­op­ted the po­s­i­tion of Pres­id­ent Barack Obama on gay mar­riage.”

“Even though both op­pose gay mar­riage, each said they would abide by the ‘law of the land’ last year.”

Cruz: “Those are the talk­ing points of Barack Obama.” (Politico)

NOT MY POLLS. “Cruz denied all know­ledge of rob­ocalls be­ing made in South Car­o­lina on Thursday after Don­ald Trump ac­cused the Texas sen­at­or’s ‘people’ of ‘do­ing very sleazy and dis­hon­est ‘push­polls’ on me.’”

Cruz: “I have no idea. We had noth­ing to do with them. I don’t know what they were. We had noth­ing to do with them. So I had read re­ports of what is be­ing said but some­body else is do­ing them, not us.” (Politico)



After New Hampshire, Kasich’s Strategy Focuses on the Midwest

Kasich is on the air with two new TV ads in South Carolina.

By karyn-bruggeman

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) “is bet­ting his cam­paign on the Mid­w­est and re­lo­cated Mid­west­ern­ers. The prob­lem with this plan: The next places to vote in the Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial primary are South Car­o­lina, Nevada, and a host of mostly South­ern states on March 1. … Of the March 1 states in the South, he has staff only in Ten­ness­ee and Alabama, cam­paign strategist John Weaver said.” But Kasich is bet­ting on strong per­form­ances in Michigan, Ohio, and Mis­sis­sippi to keep him afloat. (Wall Street Journ­al)

DONOR GET. “Home De­pot co-founder Ken Lan­gone, who had backed” New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie (R), and was cour­ted by the cam­paign of former Flor­ida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), “threw his sup­port to … Kasich.” (Wall Street Journ­al)

NEW STRATEGIST, NEW ADS. “A post-primary dona­tion in­fu­sion al­lowed [Kasich’s] cam­paign to buy statewide TV ad­vert­ising in South Car­o­lina be­gin­ning Fri­day.” (Wall Street Journ­al)

Kasich “tapped prom­in­ent Re­pub­lic­an me­dia con­sult­ant Rex Elsass to help over­see his TV ad cam­paign. … Elsass has long been close to the Ohio gov­ernor, most re­cently help­ing him in his 2014 reelec­tion cam­paign. He had been work­ing for” Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) “pres­id­en­tial bid, but signed on with Kasich after the Ken­tucky sen­at­or dropped out last week.” (Politico)

Kasich’s two new TV ads are be­low. One, “Heal­ing,” fo­cuses on Kasich’s loss of his par­ents in a car ac­ci­dent, and how “I was trans­formed. I dis­covered my pur­pose. I dis­covered the Lord. I be­lieve the Lord put us on this earth to use the gifts that we’ve been giv­en to bring about a heal­ing.” The second spot, “100 Days,” says in his first 100 days in of­fice, Kasich would “cut taxes to cre­ate jobs, freeze reg­u­la­tions, en­force a bal­anced budget plan and se­cure the bor­der.” (re­lease)



Report: Rubio Tax Plan Would Increase Debt By Trillion A Year

Rubio attacked Trump on the campaign trail Thursday.

By Ally Mutnick

The Tax Policy Cen­ter re­leased a stark ana­lys­is of Sen. Marco Ru­bio’s (R-FL) tax plan on Thursday. “Ru­bio’s plan would in­crease the budget de­fi­cit by al­most a tril­lion dol­lars a year. Ru­bio’s tax cuts would over­whelm­ingly ac­crue to the rich. The highest-earn­ing one per­cent would take home 40 per­cent of the be­ne­fit. The low­est-earn­ing two-fifths of the coun­try would see its in­come rise just over one per­cent from the Ru­bio tax cuts, while the richest one per­cent would see its in­come rise by al­most 9 per­cent.” (New York Magazine

“Ru­bio would re­place today’s in­come tax with a so-called pro­gress­ive con­sump­tion tax. … [H]e would still tax wage in­come at vari­ous rates but elim­in­ate all taxes on in­di­vidu­als’ sav­ings and in­vest­ment in­come. For busi­nesses, he would let them im­me­di­ately write off all in­vest­ments but elim­in­ate their in­terest de­duc­tions.” (CNN)

GO­ING NEG­AT­IVE. After prom­ising to run a more ag­gress­ive and less stil­ted cam­paign, Ru­bio at­tacked Trump for his use of ob­scen­ity. He de­scribed awk­ward ques­tions from his sons, age 8 and 10, who watched a news clip where a word from a in­ter­view with real es­tate mogul Don­ald Trump (R) had been bleeped out. 

Ru­bio: “The com­ment­at­or said it was an­oth­er word for cat,” Mr. Ru­bio said in an in­ter­view on Thursday aboard his cam­paign plane, which touched down here for a rally. “My boys wanted to know, … ‘What was the word?’ I said, ‘I can’t tell you.’” (New York Times)



Sanders Criticizes Obama On Leadership Gap, Race Relations

John Lewis questioned Sanders’s involvement in civil rights movement.

By Ally Mutnick

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) offered some sharp cri­ti­cism of Pres­id­ent Obama at Thursday’s pres­id­en­tial de­bate, say­ing if elec­ted he would “ab­so­lutely” have a bet­ter re­cord on race re­la­tions than his pre­de­cessor.

Sanders: “What we will do is say, in­stead of giv­ing tax breaks to bil­lion­aires, we are go­ing to cre­ate mil­lions of jobs for low-in­come kids so they’re not hanging out on street corners.” (New York Times)

In an in­ter­view with MS­N­BC that aired Thursday even­ing, Sanders went even fur­ther, prom­ising to use his pres­id­ency to do what Obama couldn’t and close the gap between Con­gress and the Amer­ic­an people. (NBC News

CALL­ING HIS BLUFF. As Sanders com­petes with former Sec­ret­ary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton (D) for black voters, civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) ques­tioned the in­tens­ity of Sanders in­volve­ment in the 1960s move­ment.

Lewis: “I nev­er saw him, I nev­er met him. I was chair of the Stu­dent Non­vi­ol­ent Co­ordin­at­ing Com­mit­tee for three years — 1963 to 1966. I was in­volved in the sit-ins, the free­dom rides. … I met Hil­lary Clin­ton. I met Pres­id­ent Clin­ton.” 

Lewis, along with the polit­ic­al arm of the Con­gres­sion­al Black Caucus, en­dorsed Clin­ton on Thursday and will cam­paign for her next week in South Car­o­lina. (Huff­ing­ton Post)

Mean­while, “Sanders’ cam­paign re­leased a power­ful ad fea­tur­ing the daugh­ter of Eric Garner, who died on Staten Is­land after a New York City po­lice of­ficer put him in a choke­hold in 2014.” Garner’s moth­er, however, has en­dorsed Clin­ton. (CNN)

MISS­ING IN AC­TION. Sanders only cast one vote on the Sen­ate floor in 2016, mak­ing him the most ab­sent sen­at­or run­ning for pres­id­ent. Over­all though, he still has a bet­ter re­cord than Sen. Marco Ru­bio (R-FL) who has caught flak for miss­ing votes. “In the last 12 months (Sanders) missed 47 of 304 votes, ac­cord­ing to data com­piled by Gov­Track, a gov­ern­ment trans­par­ency web­site. Ru­bio, in that time peri­od, missed 115 votes, the data show.” (Bo­ston Globe)

BE­COM­ING A TAR­GET. Re­pub­lic­an su­per PACs have be­gun at­tack­ing Sanders, a sign they are be­gin­ning to take his can­did­acy ser­i­ously. The non­profit Amer­ica Rising Squared re­leased a di­git­al ad on Thursday link­ing Sanders to former Cuban Pres­id­ent Fi­del Castro. The su­per PAC Fu­ture45 is re­leas­ing an ad that will run na­tion­wide re­it­er­at­ing that Sanders wants to raise taxes. 

MOD­ER­ATE MAN. A “deep­er look at (Sanders) quarter-cen­tury re­cord in Con­gress re­veals more of a con­ven­tion­al Demo­crat­ic law­maker.” Al­though he “cam­paigns as an in­de­pend­ent who de­scribes him­self as a Demo­crat­ic so­cial­ist,” Sanders “votes reg­u­larly for stand­ard Demo­crat­ic fare and has fallen in line with the party on everything from a ma­jor tax-and-budget deal to health care re­form and bank reg­u­la­tion.” (Politico)

And Pro­gress­ive Voters of Amer­ica, a “PAC af­fil­i­ated with … Sanders has made nu­mer­ous dona­tions to main­stream and con­ser­vat­ive Demo­crats, as well as one na­tion­al party group. … In re­cent years, its con­tri­bu­tions have ticked up and shif­ted to­ward the more mod­er­ate wing of the Demo­crat­ic Party.” (In­ter­na­tion­al Busi­ness Times)

KEEP­ING IT SMALL: “When it comes to rais­ing money from small donors, (Sanders has) already far ex­ceeded Barack Obama’s total in 2007 and al­most matched the sit­ting pres­id­ent in his reelec­tion bid in 2011.” (Na­tion­al Journ­al)

ECO­NOM­IC CHANGE. Sanders is ty­ing to­geth­er cam­paign fin­ance re­form and Wall Street re­form in his TV ads. “More than half of all oc­cur­rences of his broad­cast com­mer­cials-men­tion fin­an­cial re­form and cam­paign fin­ance re­form. But quite of­ten, it’s both. ‘It’s called a rigged eco­nomy, and this is how it works,’ he says in the in­tro of the an­im­ated ad he just re­launched in South Car­o­lina.” (Cook Polit­ic­al Re­port)

CHOOS­ING SIDES. Sanders said in an in­ter­view he thinks Obama and Vice Pres­id­ent Joe Biden should re­main neut­ral in the Demo­crat­ic primary. (NBC News

Mean­while, Mo­ve­on.Org’s polit­ic­al ac­tion arm, which has en­dorsed Sanders, cre­ated a pe­ti­tion ur­ging su­per­deleg­ates not to “thwart the will of the people” by sup­port­ing a dif­fer­ent can­did­ate than the ma­jor­ity of voters in their state. (Politico)

UN­DER COV­ER. Sanders’ Secret Ser­vice nick­name is In­trep­id, mean­ing “char­ac­ter­ized by res­ol­ute, fear­less­ness, forti­tude and en­dur­ance.” (Huff­ing­ton Post)



In South Carolina, Club For Growth Hits Trump With $1.5 Million Ad Buy

Trump sweeps every demographic in New Hampshire exit polls.

By Ally Mutnick

The Club for Growth is out with a new ad in South Car­o­lina, slam­ming real es­tate mogul Don­ald Trump (R) for his past bank­ruptcies and his tax and health care plans. It’s part of a $1.5 mil­lion ad buy from the group and will be­gin run­ning on Sat­urday. (Politico

Mean­while, the Trump cam­paign pulled a neg­at­ive ad on Wed­nes­day that hit Sen. Ted Cruz (R-FL) for spread­ing false in­form­a­tion about re­tired neurosur­geon Ben Car­son (R) dur­ing the Iowa caucuses. Trump’s cam­paign man­ager “made the de­cision after see­ing that Mr. Trump’s more pos­it­ive-fo­cused tone in New Hamp­shire ap­peared to help him at the end.” (New York Times)

CLEAN SWEEP. Exit polls from New Hamp­shire show that Trump’s “ap­peal tran­scends key demo­graph­ic bound­ar­ies.” He won double-di­git plur­al­it­ies in every age group, among men and wo­men, in every in­come group and among “rur­al res­id­ents, city-dwell­ers and sub­urb­an­ites.” (Na­tion­al Re­view)

ROAD TO SOUTH CAR­O­LINA. Re­pub­lic­an of­fi­cials in the state say they have yet to see a strong ground game from Trump. But it may not mat­ter in the end, the very same South Car­olini­an Re­pub­lic­ans ac­know­ledge — be­cause the bil­lion­aire real es­tate ty­coon has “re­writ­ten all the rules” on cam­paign­ing here. And maybe … he doesn’t need the face-to-face in­ter­ac­tion with res­id­ents that once boos­ted can­did­ates like” former Pres­id­ents George W. Bush and Ron­ald Re­agan. (Politico

Mean­while, Trump “took aim at two rivals ramp­ing up as­saults on him” at a Louisi­ana rally, say­ing former Flor­ida Gov. Jeb Bush’s (R) broth­er, George W. Bush, led the coun­try in­to “quick­sand” and de­scribed a new ad by Cruz as “all crap, they’re lies.” (New York Times)

GROW­ING THE TEAM. Corey Le­wan­dowski, Trump’s cam­paign man­ager, “is ex­pand­ing the Trump team to in­clude top ad­visers from the cam­paigns of” former Arkan­sas Gov. Mike Hucka­bee (R) and former Sen. Rick San­tor­um (R-PA) “who have dropped out and … Car­son, who has struggled to at­tract sup­port. He has also ex­pan­ded the Trump cam­paign’s cur­rent roster of 150 em­ploy­ees in 20 states.” (Wall Street Journ­al)

MONEY TROUBLES. Pro­ceeds from an im­promptu fun­drais­ing Trump held for vet­er­ans last month have just star­ted to make their way to the dozen groups who were prom­ised dona­tions. “While one non­profit said it re­ceived a check im­me­di­ately after the event, most of the groups said they hadn’t heard from the Trump found­a­tion about pay­ment for weeks.” (Wall Street Journ­al)

RESOLV­ING DIF­FER­ENCES. Trump came to a set­tle­ment with Uni­vi­sion after the net­work pulled out of car­ry­ing the Miss USA pa­geant, an event that Trump had a stake in at the time. “Uni­vi­sion said it can­celed the Ju­ly 12 tele­cast be­cause it could not re­main in busi­ness with a pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate who had of­fen­ded many His­pan­ics.” Trump sued for $500 mil­lion last sum­mer. The set­tle­ment terms are con­fid­en­tial. (CNN)



Webb Rules Out Independent Run

A spokesman said there isn’t enough time or money for a third-party bid.

By karyn-bruggeman

Former Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), “who dropped out of the Demo­crat­ic pres­id­en­tial race last year, ruled out an in­de­pend­ent White House bid Thursday.” Webb said through a spokes­man: “I don’t see the fun­drais­ing tra­ject­ory where we could make a real­ist­ic run.” (MS­N­BC)



DEMOCRATS

DNC Scraps Lobbyist and PAC Contribution Bans

Clinton and Sanders will both speak at an Ohio Democratic Party dinner two days before the state’s primary.

By karyn-bruggeman

“The Demo­crat­ic Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee has rolled back re­stric­tions in­tro­duced by pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate Barack Obama in 2008 that banned dona­tions from fed­er­al lob­by­ists and polit­ic­al ac­tion com­mit­tees.” (Wash­ing­ton Post)

JOINT AP­PEAR­ANCE. Former Sec­ret­ary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton (D) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) “will head­line an Ohio Demo­crat­ic Party din­ner on March 13, two days be­fore Ohio’s primary elec­tion.” (Clev­e­land Plain Deal­er)



COMMITTEES

NRSC Avoids GOP Presidential Talk

Committee leaders are instead focused on Democrats’ presidential and Senate primaries.

By andrea-drusch

The NRSC “doesn’t want to dis­cuss the top of the tick­et, even after the rev­el­a­tion last year of its de­tailed memos out­lining strategies for run­ning be­neath every po­ten­tial pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee. In an hour­long break­fast Thursday hos­ted by The Chris­ti­an Sci­ence Mon­it­or, NR­SC Ex­ec­ut­ive Dir­ect­or Ward Baker and Chair­man Ro­ger Wick­er (R-MS) avoided ques­tions about how pres­id­en­tial front-run­ner Don­ald Trump could af­fect the 24 seats they must de­fend this cycle.”

“Reporters pushed for de­tails about strategy changes in the event that Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz are nom­in­ated. In re­turn, the me­dia were giv­en a list of loc­al factors the com­mit­tee hopes will play in their top races: an un­pop­u­lar may­or in Chica­go, … eco­nom­ic re­cov­ery un­der a GOP gov­ernor in Flor­ida, … and the pos­sib­il­ity of Guantanamo Bay pris­on­ers be­ing trans­ferred to Col­or­ado.”

Baker: “It would be mal­prac­tice for our com­mit­tee and the great staff we have for them not to be pre­pared for who­ever the nom­in­ee is. … But no mat­ter who the nom­in­ee is, they will be bet­ter than the un­declared so­cial­ist or the so­cial­ist of the Demo­crat­ic com­mun­ist party.”   

“Asked wheth­er the com­mit­tee was con­cerned about any primar­ies,” Baker said they’re “con­fid­ent all its in­cum­bents will sur­vive primary chal­lenges, in­clud­ing Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL). “Baker said he was con­fid­ent that any nom­in­ee who emerged in In­di­ana and Col­or­ado would be well-po­si­tioned against Demo­crat­ic chal­lengers.” (Hotline reporting)



ALABAMA

Outside Groups Shell Out for Shelby

The incumbent cancelled his committee’s work until after the primary.

By andrea-drusch

Sen. Richard Shelby (R) “said on Jan. 29 that he’d halt his [Senate Banking Committee’s] work until later in March: ‘I have a primary, you know.’” (Bloomberg

MONEY: “Five outside groups, including some whose donors can remain anonymous, are spending money to help” Shelby. “The outside spending is a sign that powerful special interests, some with ties to Republican strategist Karl Rove and billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, are doing more than just making donations to Shelby’s campaign: They are producing and airing their own TV and radio ads, stuffing mailboxes with fliers and investing as much money as they want in the March 1 primary.”

“That extra attention is unusual because Shelby started the campaign season with more than $19 million, more than all four of his primary challengers combined. But at a time when political outsiders have upended establishment GOP candidates around the country, the outside interest groups clearly want to prevent that from happening in Alabama.” 

Groups “include the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund and the National Association of Realtors Congressional Fund, both of which publicly disclose their donors. … One Nation spent $140,000 on radio ads that credit Shelby for supporting legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act and pause the Syrian refugee program. … Citizens Super PAC, run by former Senate Republican political operatives, spent $309,000 on TV and online ads supporting Shelby.”

A report filed Thursday shows another group, Citizens for a Sound Government, “is spending $413,000 in the Alabama Senate primary.” (Montgomery Advertiser)



COLORADO

Focus on Personality in First GOP Forum

Seven of 13 declared candidates made their opening cases.

By andrea-drusch

“Seven Republicans hoping to take on Sen. Michael Bennet (R) in November shared a crowded stage Thursday night at the University of Denver in the first candidate debate in the race.”

“Instead of focusing on policy, the candidates tried to differentiate themselves through dry humor or wit, backgrounds in the military or business, and their political careers or the lack thereof.”

Former Aurora Councilman Ryan Frazier (R), “a strong public speaker, came across as having the most polished agenda.” Frazier “talked about being raised by a single mother who worked multiple jobs to provide for her children, and said he could relate to people from all socioeconomic backgrounds.”

Former state Rep. Jon Keyser (R) “said the national security issues facing America are personal, recounting the capture and kill missions he went on in Afghanistan and Iraq after graduating from the Air Force Academy.”

Colorado Springs businessman Robert Blaha (R) “was able to distinguish himself as a political outsider. … [He] talked about his grown children and a guarantee that he will leave office if he is ineffective.”

State Sen. Tim Neville (R) focused on the work he has done in the General Assembly. Neville: “I have the record. I’ve been doing that at the State Senate. I have run legislation that would defend second amendment rights, be pro-life, be limited government and reduce regulation in Colorado.”

El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton (R) “emphasized that she is the only one who has held an office that was elected by voters in an entire Congressional district, emphasizing her years on the State Board of Education.”

El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn (R) “said he’s the only candidate who will be ready to go on day one when it comes to issues of national security.” (Colorado Springs Gazette)



FLORIDA

Beruff Oppo Flows from Both Sides

Allies on his right and left have readied their fire.

By andrea-drusch

“Wealthy land developer” Carlos Brueff (R) “still hasn’t said if he intends to run for the U.S. Senate, but potential GOP rivals and Democrats are already taking aim at him.”

“One GOP camp has already begun anonymously circulating previously reported stories to reporters about Beruff’s tenure at Medallion Homes. … That line of attack comes just days after” Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) “publicly blasted Beruff as a ‘Charlie Crist Republican.’”

Meanwhile, Democrats “are trying to make a pre-emptive strike to block Beruff from pitching himself as an outsider,” putting “out a statement” that called him a “longtime Republican insider with a collection of influential political appointments and a long history of trading money for influence.” (Bradenton Herald)



ILLINOIS

NRSC Hopes to Use Rahm Against Duckworth

Leaders say the unpopular mayor “created” her.

By andrea-drusch

During Thursday’s Christian Science Monitor breakfast, NRSC leaders suggested Chicago’s unpopular Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) could be a possible drag for Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-08).

NRSC Executive Director Ward Baker: “I think people understand, do you want typical Chicago politics, do you want someone that is going to be a failure, like Rahm Emanuel, or do you want Sen. Kirk that represents Illinois? … I read Rahm Emanuel’s book and he says in his book he created Tammy Duckworth.”

Columnist Lynn Sweet suggested that Sen. Mark Kirk (R) has “been allied with GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) — who is also very unpopular at present — though not in the sub-basement where Emanuel is.” Asked if Rauner will be a drag on Kirk, the NRSC pivoted back to Duckworth.

Sweet also defended Duckworth, who she says has power more popular allies: “President Barack Obama did a big, deliberate show of support for Duckworth on Wednesday, when he invited her to fly to Springfield with him on Air Force One. And he’s popular in Illinois.” (Chicago Sun-Times)



INDIANA

Baron Hill Fundraising Off Donnelly Repeat

Indy Star columnist slams Democrats over the ballot challenge.

By andrea-drusch

A fundraising email from former Rep. Baron Hill’s (D) campaign played up the idea that his party’s ballot challenger to Rep. Todd Young (R-09) could land him a vulnerable general election candidate in Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-03). Hill’s campaign hopes to play up the idea that Democrats could repeat their unusual 2012 victory, in which then-Rep. Joe Donnelly beat the more conservative candidate that emerged from the GOP primary. 

From the email: “Young’s stumbling to meet this basic hurdle has led to some Indiana Republicans publicly questioning the strength of his campaign. This is just like what happened four years ago when the GOP was left in disarray in their primary, which helped fuel Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly’s victory. With your help, we can win.” (release)

PUSH-BACK: Indianapolis Star columnist Matthew Tully criticized Democrats over the ballot challenge, writing that the “scuffle over whether Young collected the 500 petition signatures needed … has once again exposed just how little the Indiana Democratic Party has to offer.” Tully: “They might win a battle here and there with this strategy. But when it comes to the big picture, all the intellectually bankrupt party is doing is reminding of us how much it has lacked in big ideas, or any ideas, for years.” (Indianapolis Star)

CALENDAR: Vanderburgh County will host Stutzman and Young at a forum tonight. (TriStateHomepage)



NEVADA

Masto Endorses Clinton

The Senate hopeful picked up nods from Latino Victory Fund and Eva Longoria.

By andrea-drusch

Former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) at an event with Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards and former Nevada Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley. (release)

ENDORSEMENTS: The Latino Victory Fund endorsed Masto for Senate Thursday.

A fundraising pitch from actress Eva Longoria, a founder of the LVF, highlighted the possibility of a first Latina senator. Longoria: “Catherine Cortez Masto can break that glass ceiling as Nevada’s next senator. … I am proud to stand beside Catherine.” (release)



NEW HAMPSHIRE

Hassan Responds to People’s Pledge

She wants an added spending cap, Ayotte says no.

By andrea-drusch

Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) responded to Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s (R) proposal to limit outside spending in their race Friday. Hassan requested the addition of a $15 million spending cap by the campaigns themselves. A statement from Hassan’s campaign said she’s “made clear that she wants the campaigns to work together to reach an agreement on a strengthened pledge.” (release)

Ayotte responded, calling the Hassan’s rebuttal a “refusal.” Ayotte said Hassan’s “decision to totally change the intent of the People’s Pledge is an attempt to kill it.” (release)

Democrats say the puzzle is “why Ayotte’s campaign would want to take a pledge,” noting it usually only happened when someone is “legitimately scared about being outspent,” something doesn’t usually happen for Republicans. “Signing the pledge would be an opportunity to cut off the Koch brothers, whose Americans for Prosperity network hit the airwaves against Hassan before she even got in the race.”

Republicans “think that the pledge will resonate with New Hampshire voters. … Ayotte faces one of the most competitive re-election fights in the country and has recently tried to stake out more moderate positions on issues such as the administration’s clean power plan, for example, to appeal to independent voters.”

“As Democrats were quick to paint Ayotte as a hypocrite on Thursday, Republicans salivated, waiting to call out Hassan for breaking with her previous criticism of outside spending — and with her party’s liberal standard bearers.” (Roll Call)



OHIO

Celeste Praises Sittenfeld

The former governor declined to detail what he sees as Strickland’s potential shortcomings.

By andrea-drusch

Former Ohio Gov. Richard F. Celeste (D) said he “considers one of his successors, [former Gov.] Ted Strickland (D), a friend,” but on Thursday backed Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld (D). 

“Celeste declined to detail what he sees as Strickland’s potential shortcomings, simply saying Sittenfeld embodies ‘a breath of fresh air that gives our party its best chance’ of defeating” Sen. Rob Portman (R).

Celeste: “P.G. Sittenfeld is one of the most gifted and exciting political talents to come along in years. … I’ve been especially impressed with P.G.’s willingness to take on the gun lobby and fearlessly push common-sense gun safety reform.” (Columbus Dispatch)



PENNSYLVANIA

Rendell Praises Sestak

The chair of McGinty’s campaign says he’ll help him if he wins the primary.

By andrea-drusch

Former Gov. Ed Rendell (D), who serves as chairman of former gubernatorial candidate Katie McGinty’s (D) campaign, said former Rep. Joe Sestak (D) wouldn’t be a bad choice for the race against Sen. Pat Toomey (R).

Rendell: “I made it clear when I signed on with Katie that Joe would be a good senator. … If he wins the primary, I will do everything I can for him.”

“Sestak would seem like an ideal candidate for either party: A decorated Navy officer and Harvard graduate who grew up in Philadelphia’s blue-collar suburbs, the eldest son in a Catholic family with seven siblings.”

“Despite his outsider status within his own party, Sestak is a tireless campaigner of the old-fashioned, barnstorming variety. Most days, he wakes up at dawn, eats a quick breakfast and doesn’t stop to eat again until near midnight.” (PennLive)



WISCONSIN

Johnson Digital Ads Tie Feingold to Sanders, Clinton

Feingold picked up labor endorsements from UAW, SEIU, AFSCME.

By andrea-drusch

Sen. Ron Johnson (R) launched digital ads Thursday night, timed with the Milwaukee presidential debate, tying former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) to his party’s presidential contenders. The sponsored Twitter posts called Feingold “America’s most famous undecided voter,” pushing the Democrat for not endorsing between Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D).

A fundraising pitch from the campaign took it a step further, asking whether Feingold would support “a fellow professional politician nobody trusts” or “a self-admitted Socialist who shares his far-left ideology.” (release)

FUNDRAISING: Feingold picked up endorsements from the United Automobile Workers, Service Employees International Union, Laborers International Union of North America, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Friday. (release)



RACE FOR THE HOUSE

Cleaver Creates Leadership PAC

He's a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

By kimberly-railey

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, launched a leadership PAC Thursday “to support lawmakers who can bring forward ‘new ideas and priorities’ that can be adopted by the wider Democratic Caucus.” (Politico)



PRIMARY ROUNDUP

Club For Growth Targets Shimkus in New Ad

The buy is about $275,000.

By kimberly-railey

CA-17: Former state Sen. Elaine Alquist (D) endorsed former Obama administration official Ro Khanna (D) over Rep. Mike Honda (D). (release)

CA-44: The Service Employees International Union California State Council is backing state Sen. Isadore Hall (D). (release)

IL-15: The Club For Growth will launch a television today hitting Rep. John Shimkus (R) for breaking his term limits pledge and calling for the election of state Sen. Kyle McCarter (R). The 30-second spot, which will air on broadcast and cable, calls Shimkus “one  of the most liberal members of Congress.” (release)

The buy is about $275,000. (Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette)

MD-08: 2012 IN-06 candidate Don Bolling (D) will run for the seat. (Montgomery County Sentinel)

Former Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan (D) endorsed Kathleen Matthews (D) in the race for Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s (D) seat. (release)

WA-07: State Rep. Brady Walkinshaw (D) announced endorsements from three more state lawmakers: State Reps. Eric Pettigrew (D), Steve Kirby (D), and Drew Hansen (D). (release)



ARIZONA 01 (D -- KIRKPATRICK)

Arizona Politicians Say Sheriff Mailers Were Politically Motivated

The Babeau flyer was apparently mostly sent to registered Republicans.

By kimberly-railey

“Some leading Pinal County Democrats and Republicans say a mailer sent out recently by the Sheriff’s Office is nothing more than political propaganda promoting” Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu (R). "The mailer touts accomplishments of the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office but also prominently features several photographs of Babeu." According to multiple sources, "it appears the mailer was mainly sent to registered Republicans in the county — a point a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office disputes." (Casa Grande Dispatch)



FLORIDA 18 (D -- MURPHY)

Spalding to Now Run as Independent

She was competing in the GOP primary before.

By kimberly-railey

Navy veteran and nurse Carla Spalding (I) will leave the GOP primary to run as an independent. (Vero Beach Press Journal)



ILLINOIS 10 (R -- DOLD)

Schneider Picks Up Union Support

The Transport Workers Union is backing his bid.

By kimberly-railey

The Transport Workers Union endorsed former Rep. Brad Schneider (D) in the race for Rep. Bob Dold's (R) seat. (release)

Schneider faces Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering (D) in the Democratic primary.



MARYLAND 06 (D -- DELANEY)

2014 Candidate Enters Republican Field

Harold Painter will run.

By kimberly-railey

2014 congressional candidate Harold Painter (R) will run for Rep. John Delaney’s (D) seat. "Painter ran an unsuccessful campaign for the 6th District in 2014, receiving 16.5 percent of the Republican primary vote." (Frederick News-Post)



MINNESOTA 02 (R -- KLINE)

Sierra Club to Support Craig

She's running for Rep. John Kline's seat.

By kimberly-railey

The Sierra Club is backing businesswoman Angie Craig (D) in the race for Rep. John Kline's (R) seat. (release)



NEVADA 04 (R -- HARDY)

PPP Poll Shows Flores Leading Dem Field

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee commissioned the survey.

By kimberly-railey

Former lieutenant governor nominee Lucy Flores (D) is leading the Democratic field by double digits, according to a Public Policy Polling survey she released (Jan. 13-14; 529 LPVs; +/- 4.3%). Flores takes in 29%, followed by edu­ca­tion non­profit ex­ec­ut­ive Susie Lee (D) at 9%, former As­sembly Speak­er John Oceguera  (D) at 7%, and state Sen. Ruben Kiheun (D) at 6%. The poll was commissioned by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. (release)



NEW YORK 01 (R -- ZELDIN)

Zeldin to Attend Meet-And-Greet in Florida

He'll be there this weekend.

By kimberly-railey

The Republican Party of Palm Beach County is hosting a meet-and-greet with Rep. Lee Zeldin (R) on Saturday. (release)



NEW YORK 03 (D -- ISRAEL)

Suozzi Moves Closer to Run

He hosted an event with supporters.

By kimberly-railey

Former Nas­sau County Ex­ec­ut­ive Tom Suozzi (D) said he is leaning toward a run for Rep. Steve Israel's (D) seat. Suozzi held an event with more than 150 supporters Wednesday. (Island Now)



NEW YORK 19 (R -- GIBSON)

New York Working Families Party Backs Teachout

Dutchess County Republicans are supporting Heaney.

By kimberly-railey

The New York Working Families Party endorsed 2014 gubernatorial challenger Zephyr Teachout (D). (release)

Notably, in 2014, the party spurned Teachout in the governor's race when they supported Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who pledged to back its agenda. Cuomo said his campaign would help Democrats win a Democratic majority in the state Senate, a feat that didn't happen.

MEANWHILE. Dutchess County Republicans are backing businessman Andrew Heaney (R). (Poughkeepsie Journal)

The Dutchess County Conservative Party is supporting his primary opponent, former Assemblyman John Faso (R). (release)



NEW YORK 24 (R -- KATKO)

Deacon Draws Local Dem County Party Endorsement

She's running against two other Democrats in the primary.

By kimberly-railey

Onondaga County's Democratic Committee members Thursday endorsed former senatorial director Colleen Deacon (D). (Syracuse Post-Standard)

Deacon faces former Navy prosecutor Steve Williams (D) and Syracuse University professor Eric Kingson (D) in the Democratic primary. 



NORTH CAROLINA

State Supreme Court Won't Take Up Redistricting Case Again

It doesn't affect the federal court decision last week that invalidated two districts.

By kimberly-railey

“The N.C. Supreme Court won't rehear a redistricting case in which a majority of justices upheld the state's congressional and General Assembly district lines drawn in 2011. The court Thursday denied a petition by attorneys for plaintiffs who unsuccessfully sued in overturning about 30 districts. Those lawyers argued the court erred in its December decision by failing to use accurately a U.S. Supreme Court decision involving Alabama districts while examining North Carolina maps. ... The decision doesn't change a Greensboro federal court decision last week which strikes down two congressional districts. The U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether to block that ruling, which requires new lines by Feb. 19." (AP)



CALIFORNIA

Poizner Mulls Political Comeback

He ran for governor in 2010.

By zach-montellaro

Tech ex­ec­ut­ive and former state In­sur­ance Com­mis­sion­er Steve Po­izn­er (R) is “ser­i­ously con­sid­er­ing” get­ting back in­to Cali­for­nia polit­ics.

Po­izn­er: “I want to head back in­to either run­ning an­oth­er star­tup com­pany or get­ting in­to pub­lic ser­vice again. … In my core, I’ve al­ways searched for ways to be dis­rupt­ive in a pos­it­ive way, so I’m con­sid­er­ing my op­tions … and look­ing for a way to con­trib­ute again in a bold way.”

He last ran in the Re­pub­lic­an primary for gov­ernor in 2010. (Politico)



FLORIDA

Putnam’s Committee Brings in $145,000

Disney, Florida Phosphate, and U.S. Sugar Corps are his top contributors.

By zach-montellaro

Ag­ri­cul­ture Com­mis­sion­er Adam Put­nam’s (R) fun­drais­ing com­mit­tee, Flor­ida Grown, brought in $144,925 in con­tri­bu­tions in Janu­ary.

“The latest haul brings total money raised to more than $4.1 mil­lion, with total ex­pendit­ures now at about $891,000, for a cash-on-hand bal­ance of about $3.2 mil­lion.”

“Dis­ney, Flor­ida Phos­phate and U.S. Sug­ar Corp. tied for top con­trib­ut­or, chip­ping in $25,000 each.” (Flor­ida Polit­ics)



INDIANA

Judge to Hear Bid to Block Pence’s Syrian Refugee Order

Fort Wayne mayor changed the name of his political committee to “Henry for Indiana.”

By zach-montellaro

“A fed­er­al judge is set to take up a refugee re­lo­ca­tion group’s bid to block” Gov. Mike Pence’s (R) “or­der bar­ring state agen­cies from par­ti­cip­at­ing in the re­set­tle­ment of Syr­i­an refugees in In­di­ana.”

“The judge will hear ar­gu­ments Thursday in Ex­odus Refugee Im­mig­ra­tion’s re­quest for a tem­por­ary in­junc­tion block­ing Pence’s or­der un­til the In­di­ana­pol­is-based non­profit’s law­suit is re­solved.” (AP)

ALL IN A NAME. Fort Wayne May­or Tom Henry (D) “re­cently changed the name of his polit­ic­al com­mit­tee from ‘Henry for May­or’ to ‘Henry for In­di­ana,’” fuel­ing spec­u­la­tion he could be former state House Speak­er John Gregg’s (D) run­ning mate.

Gregg’s com­mu­nic­a­tions dir­ect­or Jeff Har­ris: “I would not read too much in­to it. … We have not settled on a run­ning mate yet. We still have quite a way to go be­fore mak­ing that se­lec­tion.” (Fort Wayne News-Sen­tinel)

WEIGH­ING IN. Bri­an Howey wrote about Pence’s re­cent shift in run­ning mates.

“One of the most un­usu­al polit­ic­al trans­itions took place this week when Gov. Mike Pence pivoted from” Lt. Gov. Sue Ell­sper­mann (R), “who is set to resign, to former Re­pub­lic­an chair­man Eric Hol­comb. While all the prin­cipals in this saga did their best to dis­pel spec­u­la­tion that this was a rift shift between Pence and Ell­sper­mann over LGBT civil rights, those rum­blings con­tin­ue.”

“Hol­comb’s el­ev­a­tion to lieu­ten­ant gov­ernor pairs up two cam­paign trail ‘happy war­ri­ors’ — the new ‘Han­over Heavy­weights’ — with both Pence and Hol­comb cre­at­ing the friendly coun­ten­ance that make them both em­in­ently likable, even by those who dis­agree with their policies. Pence is fa­cing a tough re-elec­tion re­match against … Gregg, and not only did he need an ‘all-in’ run­ning mate NOW, his se­lec­tion of Hol­comb tends to con­firm spec­u­la­tion of a ser­i­ous fis­sure with­in the In­di­ana Re­pub­lic­an Party, di­vided by the Re­li­gious Free­dom Res­tor­a­tion Act, the sub­sequent fix, and Pence’s de­cision to duck the civil rights ex­pan­sion that died in the In­di­ana Sen­ate last week.”

“There are two ways to look at the new Pence/Hol­comb team. First, it is a polit­ic­al mar­riage based on real­it­ies on the ground. LGs and veeps are of­ten chosen for their polit­ic­al im­pacts. The second is that it might give Hol­comb an in­side seat to ad­voc­ate for the tol­er­ance miss­ing in the Pence ad­min­is­tra­tion, des­pite the gov­ernor’s re­peated de­clar­a­tions that Hoo­siers don’t dis­crim­in­ate. Across a wide spec­trum of the busi­ness and mil­len­ni­al wings of the GOP, many be­lieve that Pence couches a lat­ent brand of in­tol­er­ance with­in the guise of re­li­gious free­dom. Many be­lieve that Pence has not in­tel­lec­tu­ally come to grips with these con­tra­dic­tions.” (KPC News)



MASSACHUSETTS

Baker Likely Won’t Endorse Again in President’s Race

His pick, Chris Christie, dropped out this week.

By zach-montellaro

Gov. Charlie Baker (R) doesn’t think he will en­dorse again for the pres­id­en­tial race after his pick, New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie (R), dropped out earli­er this week.

Baker: “If you look at the gen­er­al ter­rain with re­spect to en­dorse­ments over­all, it’s pretty hard to make a case that en­dorse­ments mattered very much for any­one from any­body. The out­sider factor was more im­port­ant than al­most any­thing.” (New Bo­ston Post)



MISSOURI

Kinder Defends Ferguson Administration Despite DOJ Lawsuit

The lawsuit says the city violated residents’ rights.

By zach-montellaro

Lt. Gov Pete Kinder (R) and Gov. Jay Nix­on (D) “cred­ited Fer­guson on Thursday with press­ing ahead with poli­cing and court re­forms des­pite a U.S. De­part­ment of Justice law­suit al­leging that the St. Louis sub­urb routinely vi­ol­ated res­id­ents’ rights and mis­used law en­force­ment to gen­er­ate rev­en­ue.”

“The civil rights law­suit, filed Wed­nes­day, came a day after Fer­guson es­sen­tially re­jec­ted a set­tle­ment agree­ment with the DOJ by adding sev­en amend­ments to a pro­pos­al reached after months of ne­go­ti­ations. The plan sought to vastly im­prove po­lice and mu­ni­cip­al court prac­tices in Fer­guson, the town where 18-year-old Mi­chael Brown, who was black and un­armed, was fatally shot by white of­ficer Dar­ren Wilson in Au­gust 2014. Wilson was cleared of wrong­do­ing.”

Kinder, in a state­ment: “[The city’s lead­ers] are mak­ing a good-faith ef­fort to ad­opt re­forms to cor­rect past prob­lems. But the Justice De­part­ment de­mands would force the city to stop provid­ing ba­sic ser­vices to res­id­ents to pay for man­dated wage hikes.” (AP)

Kinder had a harsh­er con­dem­na­tion in an in­ter­view with KMOX: “The DOJ re­spon­ded like an em­per­or hand­ing down de­crees from on high. … This is an­ti­thet­ic­al to the Amer­ic­an form of gov­ern­ment.” (KMOX)



NEW HAMPSHIRE

Gatsas Confirms Interest in Gubernatorial Run

He says there’s no timeline for a decision.

By zach-montellaro

Manchester May­or Ted Gat­sas (R) said he is “ser­i­ously con­sid­er­ing” run­ning for gov­ernor.

Gatas: “[I’ve been] talk­ing to people, but be­fore we make the com­mit­ment to get in we’ve got to make sure that all the ducks are in a row. … No timeline yet.” (WMUR)



NORTH CAROLINA

McCory Touts Bond Package at College

Cooper faces problems over ACA support.

By zach-montellaro

Gov. Pat Mc­Crory (R) “cam­paigned for the $2 bil­lion bond pack­age Thursday at the UNC School of the Arts, say­ing that the state needs to im­prove build­ings on col­lege cam­puses to pre­pare stu­dents for 21st cen­tury jobs.”

“Mc­Crory has been trav­el­ing around North Car­o­lina to ur­ging voters to pass the bond pack­age, which will ap­pear on the March 15 primary bal­lot.”

“If voters ap­prove the bond pack­age, the UNC sys­tem would re­ceive $980 mil­lion, and the N.C. Com­munity Col­leges would re­ceive $350 mil­lion for their build­ing pro­jects. The UNC School of the Arts would re­ceive $10.9 mil­lion to ren­ov­ate the Siemans Lib­rary and its Per­form­ance Place.” (Win­ston-Salem Journ­al)

THANKS, OBAMA. In­sur­ance Com­mis­sion­er Wayne Good­win (D) “said Thursday his agency has launched an ex­am­in­a­tion of Blue Cross and Blue Shield to de­term­ine the cause of on­go­ing tech­no­logy prob­lems that have pre­ven­ted thou­sands from buy­ing or veri­fy­ing health in­sur­ance this year.”

“Dal­las Wood­house, the lead­er of North Car­o­lina’s Re­pub­lic­an Party, pre­dicted that the ACA’s mount­ing prob­lems here and around the coun­try would end Good­win’s ca­reer as an elec­ted of­fi­cial. Wood­house also said the ACA would doom the polit­ic­al as­pir­a­tions of state” At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Roy Cooper (D).

Wood­house: “Wayne Good­win – along with Roy Cooper – is simply try­ing to save face, pass blame and cov­er his tracks after his stead­fast sup­port for the dis­astrous Obama­Care plan and roll out in North Car­o­lina. … But now with skyrock­et­ing premi­ums and Blue Cross re­cently an­noun­cing it will prob­ably have to leave the mar­ket­place due to Obama­Care, Good­win and Cooper will have to face the mu­sic from voters come Novem­ber.” (Char­lotte News & Ob­serv­er)



NORTH DAKOTA

Marijuana Legalization Dividing Line in GOP Primary

Stenehjem opposes the measure, while Becker, Burgum support decriminalization.

By zach-montellaro

State At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Wayne Stene­hjem (R) “ex­pressed con­cern Thursday that, in ad­di­tion to leg­al­iz­ing nat­ur­al marijuana, [a pro­posed] meas­ure would de­lete syn­thet­ic can­nabin­oids from the list of Sched­ule 1 drugs after sev­er­al years of ef­forts to out­law the sub­stances.”

Stene­hjem: “This will not be a health­i­er, safer state if we go the route Col­or­ado and Wash­ing­ton have gone. … And elim­in­at­ing the syn­thet­ics is ir­re­spons­ible, and I just have to ques­tion if that’s really what they in­tend to do.”

State Rep. Rick Beck­er (R) “said he sup­ports de­crim­in­al­iz­ing marijuana to an in­frac­tion so vi­ol­at­ors can’t be im­prisoned for it.”

Beck­er: “Leg­al­iz­ing it en­tirely is not in my plat­form, but if the people speak and that’s what they want, I would sup­port that.”

Busi­ness­man Doug Bur­gum (R) “said he is open to de­crim­in­al­iz­a­tion of marijuana. As for full leg­al­iz­a­tion, he said he’s ‘open to read­ing the lan­guage on re­cre­ation­al use.’” (Bis­mark Tribune)



OREGON

WaPo Praises Brown For Action During Standoff

Brown thanks agencies for peaceful end to standoff.

By zach-montellaro

The Wash­ing­ton Post’s Am­ber Phil­lips, a writer for The Fix, praised Gov. Kate Brown (D) for her re­sponse to the Ore­gon stan­doff.

“As the drama dees­cal­ates, it’s be­com­ing clear that Ore­gon of­fi­cials’ in­sist­ence that the FBI end the law­less­ness helped end things de­cis­ively (if not, at one point, vi­ol­ently).” (Wash­ing­ton Post)

Brown her­self re­spon­ded to the end of the stan­doff, giv­ing “thanks for the peace­ful, if tense, fin­ish to mil­it­ants’ 41-day oc­cu­pa­tion of the Mal­heur Na­tion­al Wild­life Refuge — ad­dress­ing a de­vel­op­ment that be­came cer­tain only minutes be­fore a pre­vi­ously sched­uled press con­fer­ence.”

Brown: “The chal­lenge is really mov­ing for­ward. … The heal­ing will take a lot of time. And I think that is our first mis­sion, to sup­port the Har­ney County com­munity as they heal and to give them the re­sources and the tools they need to re­cov­er.” (Ore­go­ni­an)



VERMONT

Democrats Slam Scott Over Missing Disclaimer in Political Ad

Scott’s campaign later added the disclosure.

By zach-montellaro

“James Valente, a Brat­tle­boro law­yer and former vice chair of the Ver­mont Demo­crat­ic Party, filed a com­plaint with the at­tor­ney gen­er­al’s of­fice al­leging cam­paign fin­ance vi­ol­a­tions by” Lt. Gov. Phil Scott’s (D) cam­paign in an ad.

“Valente, in a writ­ten com­plaint filed in late Janu­ary, said the video failed to meet vari­ous re­quire­ments, in­clud­ing an au­dio or text state­ment at the end in­dic­at­ing who paid for the spot.”

“Scott’s cam­paign ac­know­ledged the mis­step and re­spon­ded quickly, in­sert­ing the typ­ic­al dis­claim­er that Scott’s cam­paign had paid for and au­thor­ized the ad.”

“An­oth­er al­leg­a­tion was that Scott im­prop­erly shot part of a TV ad in his State­house of­fice. … [A Scott spokes­wo­man] said the re­stric­tion did not ap­ply to of­fi­cials in­clud­ing the lieu­ten­ant gov­ernor.” (VT­Dig­ger)



UTAH

Johnson Pledges to Repeal Count My Vote Law

The state GOP is suing to strike the law.

By zach-montellaro

Busi­ness­man Jonath­an John­son (R) said he agreed with the state Re­pub­lic­an party, who is su­ing over a law signed by Gov. Gary Her­bert (R) that “al­lows can­did­ates to by­pass state con­ven­tions and gain ac­cess to primary bal­lots by col­lect­ing sig­na­tures.”

John­son: “A can­did­ate can pay someone to gath­er sig­na­tures for him, run an ex­pens­ive me­dia cam­paign, and avoid de­bates. … It’s an in­cum­bent pro­tec­tion plan. It’s a rich man’s plan.”

Her­bert says he will at­tend his state con­ven­tion and col­lect sig­na­tures. John­son says he won’t col­lect sig­na­tures and plans to make his case at the con­ven­tion. (KUTV)



WASHINGTON

How Bryant Plans on Winning

The return of the “boa constrictor” strategy.

By zach-montellaro

Former Seattle Port Com­mis­sion­er Bill Bry­ant (R) “traveled to the Pasco Red Li­on … with an ar­gu­ment for Benton County Re­pub­lic­ans to ab­sorb.  Turn out to vote here in great­er num­bers and you will elect a gov­ernor.”

It is the “boa con­strict­or” used by former Sen. Slade Gor­ton (R): “Pile up Re­pub­lic­an ma­jor­it­ies in counties around the state and squeeze the lib­er­al heart­land of Seattle-King County. He fell about 3,000 votes short in 2000.”

“The Bry­ant vari­ation, his strategy for de­feat­ing” Gov. Jay Inslee (D), “is to build the GOP vote every­where, a lot in places like Benton County but also a per­cent­age or two even in spots like the 34th Dis­trict in West Seattle.” (Seattle Post-In­tel­li­gen­cer)



WEST VIRGINIA

Tomblin Vetoes Cole-Backed Right to Work Bill

RFRA is headed to the state Senate.

By zach-montellaro

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) “has ve­toed both the right to work and pre­vail­ing wage bills.”

State Sen­ate Pres­id­ent Bill Cole (R) “is­sued a state­ment Thursday say­ing he was ‘not sur­prised,’ but ‘dis­ap­poin­ted’ with Tomblin’s de­cision.”

Cole: “From the be­gin­ning, I have said the Sen­ate is com­mit­ted to do­ing what is ne­ces­sary in or­der to move our state for­ward. I be­lieve both of these bills, the West Vir­gin­ia Work­place Free­dom Act and the re­peal of the state’s pre­vail­ing wage law, ac­com­plish this goal.” (West Vir­gin­ia Metro News)

ON TO THE SEN­ATE. The con­tro­ver­sial Re­li­gious Free­dom Res­tor­a­tion Act is headed to Cole’s sen­ate after the House of Del­eg­ates passed it by a 72-26 mar­gin.

“The bill (HB 4012) es­tab­lishes a leg­al pro­cess for courts to fol­low when de­term­in­ing if a per­son’s re­li­gious be­liefs are be­ing vi­ol­ated. Be­cause busi­nesses and in­di­vidu­als could ar­gue that civil rights laws, in­clud­ing loc­al nondis­crim­in­a­tion or­din­ances, vi­ol­ate their re­li­gious be­liefs, civil rights ad­voc­ates ar­gue that the bill could be used to re­fuse ser­vices to LGBT people, wo­men and oth­ers.” (Char­le­ston Gaz­ette-Mail)



WISCONSIN

Walker Thinks GOP Could Win Wisconsin, Even With Trump

He doesn’t rule out endorsing before the state primary.

By zach-montellaro

Gov. Scott Walk­er (R) said he thinks the Re­pub­lic­ans could still win his state in Novem­ber, even if real es­tate mogul Don­ald Trump (R) was at the top of the tick­et.

Walk­er: “There’s no doubt it will be a chal­lenge.”

“Walk­er has not en­dorsed a can­did­ate for pres­id­ent, but he has not ruled out do­ing so be­fore the April 5 Wis­con­sin primary.” (KPVI)



Quote of the Day

" I have a primary, you know. " Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), on why he is halting work on the Senate Banking Committee, which he chairs, Bloomberg, 2/12.



OVERLOOKED

Delegate Perspective

Des­pite a nar­row vic­tory in Iowa and a his­tor­ic­al de­feat in New Hamp­shire, Hil­lary Clin­ton rolls in­to next week­end’s Nevada caucuses with a 394-44 del­eg­ate lead, thanks to su­per del­eg­ates in states across the coun­try who have already backed her.