• TX-AG: Who would have thought that Ken Paxton would get indicted before Kathleen Kane? Paxton, Texas’ Republican attorney general, was indicted by a grand jury last week on charges of securities fraud; the indictment was unsealed Monday, when he was arrested and later released on bail. Prosecutors allege that Paxton, back when he was a state legislator, encouraged investors to put money into a tech company he was touting without revealing he was making a commission on their investments, or that he’d received 100,000 shares of the firm’s stock.
Because this is Texas, convictions for a first-degree felony such as those Paxton is accused of can carry a sentence of life in prison. Paxton is refusing to step down so far, but it’s hard for a state’s top law enforcement official to continue serving when he’s accused of breaking his own state’s laws. In that sense, Paxton’s case is superficially similar to that of Kane, his Democratic counterpart in Pennsylvania, though she’s accused of very different crimes. She hasn’t been indicted yet, though, so we’ll see which one lasts in office longer.
• IL-Sen: The National Journal‘s Alex Roarty deserves major credit for taking on a difficult question that few want to ask aloud and handling it both intelligently and sensitively: How has Mark Kirk changed since he suffered a stroke in 2012, and has it affected his ability to campaign for and serve in public office? The real answer, as one stroke specialist says, is that it’s “impossible to say” for sure either way.
But rather interestingly, several Republicans Roarty spoke with did not rule out the possibility that Kirk’s stroke has hampered him and perhaps has left him with less of a filter. For those willing to “go there,” that could conceivably explain Kirk’s recent string of offensive and/or absurd public statements, but again, there’s just absolutely no way to know. The only question is how voters will treat the matter of Kirk’s health as he seeks a second term in the Senate, if it even persists as an issue at all.
• NC-Gov: Campaign finance reports covering the first six months of the year show that state Attorney General Roy Cooper outraised GOP Gov. Pat McCrory, making him the second Democrat challenging a sitting Republican governor this cycle to do so. (John Gregg, who’s running against Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, also pulled off the same feat.) Cooper took in $2.1 million, beating McCrory’s $1.3 million by a wide margin. Indeed, Cooper’s haul was the biggest ever for the first half-year of a two-year gubernatorial race in North Carolina history.
What’s even more unusual is that Cooper also has more cash in the bank: $3 million versus $2.4 million. Polls have shown a tight race all year, and PPP’s last survey even had Cooper leading McCrory 43-41. Democrats have a real shot at a pickup here.
• NJ-Gov: New Jersey’s next gubernatorial election is not until 2017, but we already have our first declared candidate, Democratic state Sen. Ray Lesniak. Who he’ll face off against in the primary, though, remains a very open question. PolitickerNJ mentions state Senate President Steve Sweeney, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy, and Assemblyman John Wisniewski as possibilities. Gov. Chris Christie is term-limited, so Democrats will be eager for a shot at reclaiming Drumthwacket, the governor’s delightfully named official residence….