Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 6/25/12…….

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8:57 AM PTIL-12: It took a month, but Democrats finally have their man: To little surprise, they unanimously picked Bill Enyart, who recently stepped down as commander of the Illinois National Guard. Ten candidates had applied to serve as replacements for Brad Harriman, who unexpectedly dropped out in May due to health reasons, but only seven showed up on Saturday for interviews with the selection committee. Aside from Enyart, the most notable names were state Rep. John Bradley and ex-Rep. David Phelps. Others included Anne Keeley, an unsuccessful judicial candidate in this year’s primaries, architect Rob Anderson, Some Dude Jeremy Lincicum (who claims to already be runningas an independent), and Army reservist Edward Vowell.

9:13 AM PTCT-05: Despite a major setback involving the arrest of his finance director on charges of fundraising fraud late last month, state House Speaker Chris Donovan continues to rack up major labor endorsements—a very healthy sign for his campaign. Over the weekend, the SEIU State Council, which represents over 65,000 members in Connecticut, gave Donovan their backing. Earlier in the week, another big union, the 35,000-member AFSCME Council 4, also endorsed him.

9:20 AM PT: Donovan’s campaign also previously hired a former U.S. Attorney, Stan Twardy, to conduct what they’re calling an independent investigation of the alleged campaign finance fraud. Twardy says he expects to complete his findings this week and will turn them over to the campaign and the current U.S. Attorney responsible for the case. A Donovan spokesman says that the results will only be made public if the U.S. Attorney permits it.

9:24 AM PTMO-Sen: Businessman John Brunner claims to have a big lead in the GOP primary, according to his new internal poll from American Viewpoint. Brunner is at a nice round 40, doubling up both Rep. Todd Akin and former Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who are at 20 apiece. The primary is August 7.

9:33 AM PTNH-Gov: Rasmussen Reports: Jackie Cilley (D): 39, Ovide Lamontagne (R): 41; Jackie Cilley (D): 39, Kevin Smith (R): 37; Maggie Hassan (D): 36, Ovide Lamontagne (R): 42; Maggie Hassan (D): 36, Kevin Smith (R): 39.

9:37 AM PTWA-01: Fail:

In a roundtable debate on KING 5’s “Up Front,” which aired Sunday, Republican congressional candidate John Koster responded to a question about gay marriage like this: “There is no Federal Defense of Marriage Act that I know of. Gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose. They don’t have a right to redefine marriage for all of us.”

Here’s how Koster tried to recover when later called on his blunder:

“Of course I know there’s DOMA,” he said. He said he’d intended to say that with the Obama Administration’s decision to not defend the law, the issue was left to the states.

Also: If gays and lesbians “have a right to live as they choose” (according to Koster), does that include the right to get married? For Koster, the answer is no: He says that same-sex marriage would “undermine the very cornerstone of our society.”

9:44 AM PTWA-Sen, WA-Gov: Biden Alert! The VPOTUS will visit Seattle next month to keynote a fundraiser for Dem Sen. Maria Cantwell. Gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee will also be there, and it seems he’s an indirect beneficiary as well, since proceeds will be split between Cantwell’s campaign and the state Democratic party. Interestingly, the cost to attend the event is surprisingly modest, given the high level of the headline name: Tickets start at just $50. Obviously that’s still a considerable expense for many people, but it’s a lot more accessible than your typical high-dollar Vice Presidential fundraiser.

9:54 AM PTCA Prop 29: California’s Proposition 29, a ballot measure that would have added a $1-a-pack tax to cigarettes, has narrowly failed. It trails by some 28K votes with only about 110K left to count. Supporters, who spent $12 million on the effort, say it’s “the closest ballot initiative in California history,” and note that big tobacco companies (principally Philip Morris) spent $47 million to defeat it.

9:58 AM PTSC-07: It’s no surprise that Gov. Nikki Haley would take sides against ex-LG André Bauer—after all, they ran against one another in the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary. But why did she wait until the last minute to endorse Horry County Council Chairman Tom Rice in Tuesday’s runoff? That one I can’t figure, especially since Haley took the somewhat unusual step (for someone in her position) of not just fluffing Rice but actually attacking Bauer, accusing him of “undercut[ting] the conservative agenda.”

10:06 AM PTMI-11: Somehow, Paulist tea partying teacher/veteran/reindeer farmer Kerry Bentivolio has come up with enough scratch ($10K, says Shira Toeplitz) to air a television ad boosting his candidacy. It’s mostly just filled with platitudes about the “American dream” and also touts his military service. Bentivolio is the only Republican on the August primary ballot, though the local GOP establishment is trying to rally around ex-state Sen. Nancy Cassis’s write-in campaign.

10:28 AM PTFL-16: I’m not sure there’s anything new in this report from CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Vern Buchanan’s serious ethical failings, but it’s now the second time in less than two months that the national press has given serious exposure to the story. (The New York Times did so back in May.) One thing CNN did score was an interview with Sam Kazran, Buchanan’s former business partner and one of his chief accusers. Click the link for the full details.

10:47 AM PTNY-18: Interesting: Former GOP Gov. George Pataki’s new super PAC, “Tipping Point,” is tarring attorney Sean Maloney with robocalls, just ahead of Tuesday’sDemocratic primary. (The message attacks Maloney for his role in the Troopergate scandal back when he was an aide to ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer.) So why would Republicans be interfering here? I can only imagine that it’s because they fear Maloney most in the general election.

Meanwhile, Maloney, who’s been the target of negative mailers from his chief primary rival, physician Rich Becker, has fired back with one of his own. The flyer criticizes Becker for donating to Republican ex-Rep. Sue Kelly, who represented the predecessor to this seat (the old NY-19) until she lost to Democrat John Hall in 2006. Becker has previously called the contribution “a mistake.”

11:12 AM PT (David Jarman): UT-Sen, UT-04: A new Dan Jones poll of Utah shows Orrin Hatch, unsurprisingly, with a big lead over Dan Liljenquist in Tuesday’s GOP Senate primary; maybe more surprisingly, it also shows incumbent Dem Jim Matheson with a solid lead of Mia Love in the dark-red 4th. Click through for our full analysis.

12:44 PM PTNY Redistricting: The amazing folks over at CUNY’s Center for Urban Research (led by Prof. Steven Romalewski) have upgraded their interactive map of New York’s new congressional districts to include ethnic breakdowns for each seat. CUNY includes not only the Census count for every district but also figures on the citizen voting-age population (or “CVAP”), an important measure that tells you who is actually eligible to vote. These numbers often vary considerably from a strict head-count, in large part because the Hispanic population tends to be younger and contain fewer citizens than other ethnic groups. You can mouse over each district to see the stats, and you can also find them summarized in table form here.

1:14 PM PT (David Jarman): WA-AG: Could Washington Dems pick up the two statewide offices that have long eluded them (AG and SoS) at the same time as losing the governor’s chair for the first time in decades? Certainly a possibility:  Elway’s poll from last week (which showed a big turnaround for Jay Inslee in the gubernatorial race, although he’s still narrowly down) also finds Dem Bob Ferguson leading GOPer Reagan Dunn 28-26 in the Attorney General race, though with 42% undecided, that’s not too conclusive.

1:15 PM PTMI-01: House Majority PAC, the Democratic-aligned super PAC, is touting a new poll of Michigan’s 1st Congressional District that shows a very tight race. The survey, from Garin-Hart-Yang, has GOP freshman Dan Benishek at just 40, while Democrat Gary McDowell is at 38. Those numbers, though, are actually better for Benishek than the last time HMP polled here—but that was a while ago (all the way back in January), and they were using a different pollster (PPP). In the prior poll, McDowell (who also ran here in 2010, losing by about 10 points) led Benishek 46-41. Still, 40% is not where an incumbent really wants to be.

1:26 PM PTColorado: PPP’s Colorado remainders are very… remainder-y.

1:30 PM PTMI-13: After successfully appealing a ruling that she hadn’t submitted enough valid signatures, state Rep. Shanelle Jackson is back on the ballot in the Democratic primary. She’s challenging veteran Rep. John Conyers, as are state Sens. Glenn Anderson and Bert Johnson, and Wayne-Westland school board member John Goci. Jackson hasn’t even filed a single FEC report, though, so it’s hard to imagine her presence making much difference.

1:34 PM PTWY-Sen: Democrats have landed an actual candidate to run in the Wyoming Senate race: Albany County Commissioner Tim Chesnut.

2:25 PM PTAZ-Sen: Rep. Trent Franks, who finally endorsed businessman Wil Cardon after dancing around the notion for some time, has now fully inserted himself into the GOP primary. He’s cut an ad for Cardon in which he goes after the Club for Growth, which is trying to prop up Rep. Jeff Flake via attacks on Cardon’s conservative bona fides. Franks says the Club’s ads are “absolutely false” and promises that Cardon is a “conservative Reagan Republican.”

2:38 PM PTMN-08: Democrat Tarryl Clark is out with her second ad, which features steelworkers from northeastern Minnesota’s Iron Range praising her for “fight[ing] for Minnesota families.” Clark herself twice utters the phrase “our Minnesota,” which may be a new emerging theme/slogan for her campaign.

2:55 PM PTMT-Sen: I’m not going to keep a whip count of every elected official who says they won’t attend their party’s national convention this summer—I’m just not. But I do wonder if the traditional media will go nuts over Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg’s refusal to go to Tampa the same they went berserk when a handful of Democrats said they wouldn’t be making an appearance in Charlotte. Oh, wait, no: I don’t wonder at all.

2:58 PM PTOH-Sen: The DSCC has made a $2.3 million reservation of ad time in three Ohio markets—Cleveland, Dayton, and Youngstown—for the final five weeks of the election. Maggie Haberman notes that this doesn’t include Columbus (you can see a market map here), though it likely will in the future, as an unnamed “source familiar with the DSCC’s plans says that the buy is not finished, and more is expected.”

3:15 PM PTNY-08: A local group called the Sephardic Community Federation made a late expenditure targeting Charles Barron in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. They spent $1,000 to run this mailer which declares: “Charles Barron hates you but loves hate-mongers and dictators.” In the same vein, the right-wing Emergency Committee for Israel is supposedly airing an ad that features a string of Barron’s greatest hits, but I’m skeptical as to whether it’s on the air. It’s a minute long, the production values suck (ultra-lengthy pauses to show title cards between clips), and the group hasn’t filed an independent expenditure report. Plus, TV in New York is insanely expensive.

3:24 PM PTRI-01: I’m reminded of Monty Python’s seminal Election Night Specialsketch, where a reporter informs Kevin Philips Bong (Slightly Silly Party): “You polled no votes at all. Not a sausage.” Self-described “conservative Democrat” Anthony Gemma also came up sausage-less at Rhode Island’s state Democratic convention over the weekend. Will Collette tells us (with emphasis in the original):

When it came time for nominations, one delegate, who said she grew up as a friend of Gemma’s back in the day, stood to put his name in nomination. When Party Chair Ed Pachecho asked, not once but three times, if any delegate would second the nomination, not one delegate among the 200+ would do so.

Anthony Gemma may have better luck seeking the nomination from the Very Silly Party.3:33 PM PTCA-07: GOP Rep. Dan Lungren is showing some serious rust… which is quite remarkable, considering he endured a stiff challenge from physician Ami Bera last cycle and faces a rematch this year. Last week, you’ll recall that Lungren made the absurd decision to defend a fraudulent voter registration drive undertaken on his behalf. Now his campaign is flailing, telling a local television station: “The campaign was not involved.” So which is it, Congressman? Note: This is a great object lesson in how not to handle a scandal on the campaign trail.

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