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AARP launches ads in W.Va. urging Manchin to support reconciliation bill
WASHINGTON — AARP, the advocacy group for Americans over fifty, is launching new cable and broadcast TV ads in West Virginia urging centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to support a budget reconciliation bill that includes a major prescription drug savings policy.
The new TV ad, first reported by NBC News, is slated to run in West Virginia starting this Wednesday through at least July 5. An AARP spokesperson said it is part of a multi-million-dollar ad campaign that will include radio and print ads.
"Everybody knows Joe Manchin cares about West Virginians. And he knows too many of us are struggling to pay for our medicine. That's why he supports letting Medicare negotiate lower drug prices," says a narrator in the ad, which ends with: "Joe Manchin, keep fighting to lower drug prices."
It focuses on a priority of AARP's: allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, which Manchin has publicly endorsed. And it comes at a crucial stretch: In recent weeks, the senator has held private negotiations with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., about a bill that can bypass Republicans, who oppose the idea of allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
“We know we have the votes to pass Medicare negotiation through reconciliation, and we are committed to pushing back whenever PhRMA and their allies try to mislead the public and block Congress from lowering prescription drug prices," said Nancy LeaMond, the chief advocacy officer for AARP.
Manchin has said he would be open to a package that includes drug savings, energy investments and tax hikes on high earners and corporations.
The recent Manchin-Schumer negotiations have been tight-lipped and the West Virginia Democrat, who scuttled the House-passed Build Back Better Act, is facing conflicting pressures on striking a narrower reconciliation deal over tax and spending policy that can bypass the filibuster. The new AARP ad campaign is designed to push back on drug industry opposition to the savings policy and aims to give Manchin political cover to support the bill.
David Perdue lags far behind Gov. Kemp in ad spending Georgia's GOP primary
Ahead of Georgia’s May 24 primary, former Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., is falling behind in the race for the state's GOP gubernatorial nomination.
He’s spent no money on ads since April 29, according to AdImpact, an ad tracking firm. In total, he’s spent $1.2 million on ads, a relatively low amount for that race.
Perdue is backed by former President Donald Trump and is challenging Gov. Brain Kemp, who drew ire from Trump in 2020 when he refused to overturn the results of the presidential election in the state, which was carried by President Joe Biden.
So far this cycle, Kemp has spent over $5 million on ads. He’s recently pivoted his focus to the general election this fall, where Democrats are leading in ad spending by the millions, rather than spending money against Perdue.
Recent polls show that Kemp not only leads Perdue, but he also could clear 50 percent of the primary vote, meaning he would avoid a runoff election. A runoff would take place on June 21 if neither candidate clears that 50 percent threshold.
If he wins outright, Kemp will face Democrat Stacey Abrams in a rematch of their 2018 election, where Abrams lost by less than two percentage points. Abrams is already the de facto Democratic nominee, facing no challengers in the primary contest.
On top of Kemp’s ad spending, the Republican Governors Association has spent on his behalf, pouring over $4.6 million on the airwaves to back Kemp.
But Abrams and her allies are far and away the leaders in ad spending in the race so far. Abrams’ campaign has spent $7.8 million on the airwaves and Fair Fight Action has spent an additional $6.6 million on ads supporting Abrams.
Midterm Roundup: A busy primary night
Tuesday's primaries across the country featured some key races in places like Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Oregon, Idaho and North Carolina. In Oregon, President Joe Biden's endorsement doesn't seem to have helped Rep. Kurt Schrader. Though the race hasn't been called yet, he's trailing his challenger, Jamie McLeod-Skinner by over 20 percentage points.
And in Pennsylvania, former President Donald Trump's endorsed candidate for Senate, Mehmet Oz, hasn't run away with it. The race is still too close to call, and former hedge fund manager David McCormick is trailing Oz by only 0.20 percentage points.
Here are some other key results from Tuesday’s wild primaries, with NBC News’ projection in parentheses, as they stand now:
Here are some other key results from Tuesday’s wild primaries, with NBC News’ projection in parentheses, as they stand now:
Kentucky-03 (Democratic): Morgan McGarvey 63.3 percent (winner), Attica Scott 36.7 percent.
Idaho-02 (GOP): Mike Simpson 54.6 percent (winner), Bryan Smith 32.7.
North Carolina-01 (GOP): Sandy Smith 30.7 percent, Sandy Roberson 26.1 percent (race has not been called).
North Carolina-13 (GOP): Bo Hines 32.1 percent (winner), DeVan Barbour 22.7 percent.
North Carolina-13 (Democratic): Wiley Nickel 51.7 percent (winner), Sam Searcy 23 percent.
North Carolina-14 (Democratic): Jeff Jackson 86.4 percent (winner), Ram Mammadov 13.8 percent.
Oregon governor (Democratic): Tina Kotek 57.4 percent (winner), Tobias Read 33 percent.
Oregon governor (GOP): Christine Drazan 23.5 percent, Bob Tiernan 20 percent.
Oregon-04 (Democratic): Val Hoyle 65.3 percent (winner), Doyle Canning 15.5 percent.
Oregon-04 (GOP): Alek Skarlatos ran unopposed.
Oregon-05 (GOP): Lori Chavez-DeRemer 42.2 percent, Jimmy Crumpacker 30.5 percent (race has not been called).
Oregon-06 (Democratic): Andrea Salinas 37.8 percent (winner), Carrick Flynn 19 percent.
Pennsylvania-01 (GOP): Brian Fitzpatrick 65.5 percent (winner), Alex Entin 34.5 percent.
Pennsylvania-08 (GOP): Jim Bognet 68.8 percent (winner), Mike Marsicano 31.2 percent.
Elsewhere on the campaign trail:
Oklahoma Senate: The Daily Beast is reporting that Rep. Markwayne Mullin, who is running in the crowded GOP Senate primary, plans to introduce a bill to expunge Trump’s impeachment
Pennsylvania Senate: NBC’s Mike Memoli reports that Rep. Conor Lamb faced long odds with President Biden, a key supporter of his marquee 2018 House race, sitting on the sidelines.
New York governor: Gov. Kathy Hochul is up with a new spot centered on protecting abortion access.
Los Angeles Mayor: There were a few big developments in the race for mayor — actor Danny Trejo cut an ad for Councilman Kevin de León, rapper Snoop Dog endorsed businessman Rick Caruso, and City Attorney Mike Feur dropped his bid to endorse Rep. Karen Bass.
Two neighboring Pa. districts tell the tale of changing terrain for Democrats
MONACA, Pa. — If you want a sense of the challenges Democrats face in 2022’s House races, look no further than two districts that share a common border in western Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania's 12th District, which includes Pittsburgh as well as suburbs to the east and south looks to be solidly Democratic. A deep blue stronghold, the district is home to Democratic candidate Summer Lee, who has built her campaign around environmental justice and income inequality.
The state's 17th District, which holds some of Pittsburgh’s suburbs and all of rural/exurban Beaver County, looks much more like a toss-up. The district is home to Democratic candidate Chris Deluzio, who focuses on his veteran status and his work to help unionize the University of Pittsburgh’s faculty.
Both districts include parts of Allegheny County, the home of Pittsburgh, but the two offer very different terrains for Democrats.
Not long ago, this entire area was Democratic. In the 2000 presidential race, Democrat Al Gore carried Allegheny County by 16 points, while carrying Beaver by 9 points. But 2020 showed how the map had changed. Joe Biden carried Allegheny by 20 points, but Donald Trump carried Beaver by 18 points.
What happened? Pittsburgh, still considered the “steel city” by many Americans, has morphed into a medical and tech center. About 43 percent of the 25-and-over population has a bachelor’s degree. But many of the suburbs around the city, like those in Beaver, are still rooted in the area’s industrial past; about 26 percent of adults in Beaver have a bachelor’s degree.
The emerging differences are clear to see on the ground.
Last week in Pittsburgh, we met with Jasiri X, the co-founder and CEO of 1Hood, a community organizing group in the city. His concern is whether Democrats are doing enough on the issues that Black voters face on a day-to-day basis.
“2018 was this very pivotal year for Pittsburgh,” he said. “We had a very high profile police killing of a young man named Antwon Rose. ... We also had the Tree of Life massacre later on that year."
"It began to be like, ‘OK, well, protesting by itself isn't enough," he continued. "Can we move to come together to actually create and change laws?’” He says that these voters haven’t seen the return on their investment and want Democrats to push harder on progressive policies instead of being “passive.”
An hour drive away from the city, in the far northern reaches of the northwestern Pittsburgh suburbs — the United Steelworkers Local 1016 held a meeting in Wheatland, Pennsylvania. There, we heard a very different message of what the country needs: Trump’s new brand of union workers were more worried about issues like the emerging Supreme Court decision on abortion.
United Steelworkers District 10 Director Bernie Hall studied his crowd of union leaders closely, taking stock of what political questions arose. A Biden voter himself, he was worried about candidates increasingly going to “extremes.” If the Supreme Court can overturn a law like Roe v. Wade from 1973, what about the 1935 Wagner Act that said employees have a right to establish a union?
“We’ll have dozens of these [meetings] across the state,” he said. “I'm concerned that people aren't getting facts in general, not only about President Biden but just about the political process and issues that face our country.”
In Aliquippa, after the local steel mill shut down, nature is slowly reclaiming empty homes and many of residents of this hard-hit African-American community are well beneath the poverty line.
Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker (D) urged Democrats to unite the rural voters and urban progressives. The way forward in Western Pennsylvania, he says, is to remind people the area is the birthplace of the unions.
“There’s 72,000 Democrats [here that are] ‘light blue’ [Reagan Democrat]” he said. “But they’ll vote Republican just based off the message. The message just has to be claimed.”
Oz and McCormick backers have dominated ad spending but pro-Barnette group made late push
Groups backing businessman David McCormick and television doctor Mehmet Oz alone make up 88 percent of all ad spending in Pennsylvania's GOP Senate primary, data from the ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics shows.
But a late push by a powerful ally of Republican activist Kathy Barnette meant that she and her allies actually outspent the pro-Oz effort in the race's final week.
Overall, the pro-McCormick effort has spent $32.8 million on ads through Tuesday, with $16.9 million coming from the Honor Pennsylvania super PAC and $12 million from McCormick's campaign alone (two other super PACs added another $3.9 million).
While Oz's campaign spent $13.2 million, more than McCormick's campaign, he had a far smaller, $4.3 million push from super PACs, bringing the pro-Oz ad spending total to $17.5 million.
And Barnette's campaign, which has spent just $210,00 on ads, was boosted by a $2.1 million, last-minute ad buy from Club for Growth Action.
While Pennsylvanians have been inundated with ads for McCormick and Oz for months, that late push by the Club, coming amid Barnette's late surge, made her competitive with her rivals on the airwaves for the final week. The pro-McCormick effort still led the pack with $4 million spent over the last seven days, but the Club's spending pushed the pro-Barnette effort into second place for the final week with $2.2 million in ad spending, followed by the pro-Oz $1.4 million.
Where is Trump’s endorsement power on the line in Tuesday’s primaries?
Trump has endorsed 25 candidates in Tuesday’s primaries in Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Idaho, with a handful of races testing the former president's power over the GOP.
All but six of those endorsements are incumbent lawmakers who are typically favored to win their primaries. Trump has backed eight candidates in North Carolina, eight in Pennsylvania, six in Kentucky and three in Idaho.
The most closely-watched tests of Trump’s endorsements will come in statewide contests, particularly in Pennsylvania. There Trump has backed celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz in the open Senate race, but conservative commentator Kathy Barnette has surged late in the race as she tries to capture grassroots enthusiasm. Trump made a last-minute endorsement in the governor’s race, backing controversial state Sen. Doug Mastriano over the weekend after Mastriano emerged as a frontrunner.
Trump has also weighed in on North Carolina’s open Senate race, backing GOP Rep. Ted Budd over former Gov. Pat McCrory and former Rep. Mark Walker. Budd has also benefited from $11.8 million in outside spending from Club for Growth Action, which has launched ads attacking Budd’s opponents, according to the ad tracking firm AdImpact.
In Idaho, Trump has backed Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin in a primary against GOP Gov. Brad Little. Trump didn’t mention LIttle in his statement backing McGeachin in November, when he described the lieutenant governor as someone who has been “a true supporter of MAGA since the very beginning.” Little has outspent McGeachin on the airwaves, spending $945,000 to McGeachin’s $215,000, per AdImpact.
Trump has also weighed in on a handful of notable House races. He backed controversial GOP Rep Madison Cawthorn in North Carolina’s 11th District. Cawthorn’s opponents, including state Sen. Chuck Edwards, have painted Cawthorn as an attention-seeker who hasn’t prioritized his district.
The GOP primary in North Carolina’s 13th District will also test Trump’s endorsement after he decided to back law student Bo Hines in the competitive, open seat race. Club for Growth has spent nearly $1.3 million boosting Hines, who faces self-funding attorney Kelly Daughtry, veteran Kent Keirsey, and former Rep. Renee Ellmers in the primary.
In Pennsylvania’s 8th District, Trump has backed political consultant Jim Bognet to take on Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright. Bognet lost to Cartwright by nearly 4 points in a district Trump would have won by 3 points had the new congressional map been in place in 2020. Bognet faces former Hazleton Mayor Mike Marsicano, who is also a former Democrat, in the GOP primary.
Outside group launches $6 million ad campaign supporting Ron Johnson
One Nation, a super PAC with ties to the conservative Senate Leadership Fund, is launching a $6 million ad campaign to back Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., today.
The group’s first ad will run for eight weeks in Wisconsin and highlights Johnson’s efforts to curb inflation.
“Gas, groceries, rent. Everything costs more. Senator Ron Johnson is fighting back,” a narrator in the ad says.
The narrator adds, “The D.C. liberals' spending spree is out of control. Jacking up inflation on Wisconsin families. Wiping out wage gains and making it harder for families to make ends meet.”
Johnson is running for a third term this year and while he faces no significant primary challenge, Democrats are eyeing his seat as one they can flip in November. So far, there are three main candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for Senate — state treasurer Sarah Godlewski, businessman Alex Lasry and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.
Wisconsin’s primary election is August 9.
So far, Lasry has spent the most on ads of any candidate, spending $5.6 million on the airwaves, according to AdImpact, an ad tracking firm. Johnson himself has spent over $5.1 million on ads.
Godlewski and Barnes trail, with Godlewski having spent $1.9 million on ads so far and Barnes having spent under $100,000 on ads.
Barnes, however, has racked up significant progressive endorsements, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., planning to campaign for him soon, according to NBC News’ Shaq Brewster.
One Nation, however, will be competing against an anti-Johnson outside group, Opportunity Wisconsin. The group hasn’t explicitly backed any of the Democratic candidates, but they have been running ads against Johnson since early this year.
The commercials allege Johnson used loopholes in legislation he supported to make money for himself. So far, the group has spent the most of any candidate or group on the airwaves, spending $6.4 million.
Like One Nation, Opportunity Wisconsin is an advocacy organization that does not have to disclose its donors, though the group’s website claims they’re, “made up of a diverse group of leaders who span the urban/rural divide and live and work in communities and industries through Wisconsin.”
Barnette says she won't support "globalist" candidates if she loses Pa. GOP primary
Republican Kathy Barnette, who has been surging in the final days before the Pennsylvania GOP Senate primary race, threw cold water on the idea of her backing rivals Mehmet Oz or David McCormick if she loses the primary election.
"I am not a globalist, both of them are. They have very strong ties to the World Economic Forum. I've heard McCormick several times espouse the glowing benefits of ESG scores --environmental social governance scores. If you just look at who they are, Mehmet Oz is not only an American but also Turkish as well. That's a very important distinction," Barnette said during an interview with SiriusXM's Breitbart News Daily.
When asked subsequently if she'd back the eventual GOP nominee if she loses Tuesday, Barnette replied: "I have no intention of supporting globalists."
"I don't think we have room to just vote for any old warm body with an 'R' next to their name. I think we can do better than that."
During the interview, Barnette went onto criticize Oz and McCormick as not authentic conservatives, as well as criticizing the idea that they're electable because they have deep pockets to loan to their campaigns.
"I have been an America First individual long before I decided to run for this race. And now, these two particular men, because it's convenient, because we have this seat open, they are now presenting themselves as Trump, card-carrying members of the Patriot Party," Barnette said.
"That's not how they've lived their life prior to stepping into this role."
In recent interviews with NBC News, both Oz and McCormick raised questions about Barnette's candidacy.
"He's not been transparent. And every time she answers a question, she raises a lot more," Oz told NBC's Dasha Burns last weekend before saying he would support her if she wins.
And Monday, McCormick criticized Barnette for losing her 2020 congressional bid.
"I've gotten to know Kathy on the campaign trail, I respect her personal story. She's been tested, she was tested 18 months ago when she ran for Congress and lost by 20 percentage points," McCormick said.
—Dasha Burns contributed
Poll: Democrats are becoming more progressive, while most Republicans want Trump to lead GOP
Ahead of a slew of notable primary races taking place over the next two weeks, the latest NBC News poll finds that the Democratic primary electorate has become more progressive since 2020.
It also shows a majority of Republican primary voters wanting Trump to continue leading their party.
Now neither development should be that surprising to anyone who follows politics. But it’s instructive to see them backed up by numbers.
Per the poll, 63 percent of Democratic primary voters say they prefer a candidate who proposes larger-scale policies even if they cost more and might he harder to pass, versus 33 percent who prefer a candidate who proposes smaller-scale policies that cost less and might be easier to pass.
That’s a jump from Feb. 2020 — during the height of the Democratic presidential primary season — when 53 percent wanted candidates proposing larger-scale policies, versus 41 percent who wanted candidate with smaller-scale policies.
As for Republican primary voters, 55 percent believe the party should continue to be led by former President Donald Trump; 33 percent say he was a good president but it’s time for new leaders; and 10 percent say he was a bad president, and it’s time to move on.
On a separate question, however, 34 percent of Republicans in the poll identify themselves as more supporters of Trump, while 58 percent consider themselves more supporters of the party.
The NBC News poll was conducted May 5-7, 9-10 of 1,000 adults — including 750 on their cell phone — and it has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points.
The margin of error for the poll’s 259 Democratic primary voters is plus-minus 6.09 percentage points, and the margin of error for the poll’s 247 Republican primary voters is plus-minus 6.24 percentage points.
Fetterman won't appear at campaign's primary night event after last week's stroke
Pennsylvania Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman won't attend his Senate campaign's primary-election night event on Tuesday after suffering a stroke late last week.
In a press release Monday, the campaign said Fetterman's wife and "other special guests" will deliver remarks, while Fetterman himself "will not be in attendance on Tuesday as he will remain in the hospital resting and recovering."
Fetterman Sunday that he had suffered a stroke Friday, but he said that he didn't suffer "cognitive damage" and insisted he is "well on my way to full recovery." The Democrat is considered the frontrunner in the Democratic primary bid, where he's running against Rep. Conor Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta.
In Pennsylvania, Mastriano rises to top of GOP field despite little ad spending
State Sen. Doug Mastriano has established himself as a frontrunner in the GOP primary for Pennsylvania governor despite being vastly outspent on the airwaves.
Mastriano’s campaign has spent just $332,000 on ads ahead of Tuesday’s primary, accounting for just over 1 percent of the $22.7 million spent on the governor's race by the total GOP primary field, according to the ad tracking firm AdImpact.
Mastriano, who has championed former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, has been the target of a $1.1 million ad campaign from Pennsylvania Patriots for Election Integrity. The group has knocked Mastriano for supporting a 2019 law expanding mail voting in the state (which Mastriano has said he would reverse if elected).
Trump’s endorsement in the final days of the primary race came after he encouraged his supporters last month to reject former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, calling McSwain a “coward” for not investigating election fraud.
Half of all ad spending in the GOP race — $11.1 million — has bolstered McSwain. But Commonwealth Leaders Fund, which has spent millions supporting McSwain, announced over the weekend that it is instead backing former Rep. Lou Barletta in an attempt to consolidate behind one Mastriano opponent.
The group’s decision comes after two other candidates, state Sen. Jake Corman and former Rep. Melissa Hart, dropped out of the race last week and endorsed Barletta, whose campaign has spent $967,000 on ads.
Aside from McSwain, the top spender in the race has been former Delaware County Councilman David White’s campaign, which has dropped nearly $5.7 million on ads so far. The conservative Club for Growth Action has spent $801,000 on an ad campaign opposing White.
Rep. Mike Simpson is seeking to fend off primary challenger in Idaho
Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, will be defending his seat Tuesday when he faces a challenge from personal injury attorney Bryan Smith in Idaho's 2nd district GOP primary.
The two have been engaged in an intense ad war, running over a dozen unique ads combined this cycle. Most of those ads have been on the offensive, with Smith attacking Simpson over his decision to vote in favor of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Simpson has attacked Smith for his debt collection practices, featuring families in his ads who were sought after by Smith’s business to pay back small amounts.
Smith has spent over $450,000 on his ads, while Simpson has spent just over $368,000 on the airwaves, according to AdImpact, an ad tracking firm.
However, Simpson has been defended by outside groups, including the Defending main street Super PAC, which has run ads supporting him. That group has spent over $460,000 on ads in Simpson’s favor.
Defending Main Street is the political arm of the Republican Main Street Partnership and is spending in House GOP primaries across the country, including in Ohio and Minnesota.
Smith has had the backing of an outside group, too. America Proud PAC has poured $405,000 into ads supporting him in the district, accusing Simpson of being a “career politician” and a RINO (Republican In Name Only). The group is largely funded by Boise real estate developer Joe C. Russell, according to FEC filings.
Simpson has been serving in this seat since 1999, and it’s the second time he’s faced a primary challenge from Smith. In 2014, Smith ran against Simpson, but Simpson earned 61.6 percent of the vote on election night, compared to Smith’s 38.4 percent.
Though former President Donald Trump has endorsed against some members of Congress who voted in favor of the January 6 commission, he has not publicly supported either candidate in this race.
Data Download: The number of the day is… -19 percentage points.
That’s the net-negative rating for the Democratic Party in the latest national NBC News poll, with 50 percent of adults saying they had negative feelings about the Democratic Party and 31 percent saying they had positive feelings about the party. That’s also the highest net-negative rating the Democratic Party has seen in 30 years of the survey.
Adults surveyed in the poll gave the Republican Party a net negative rating of minus 11 percent, with 46 percent viewing the party positively and 46 percent viewing the party negatively.
The results are yet another warning sign for Democrats heading into a difficult midterm election, with the Democratic Party’s image struggling across the country. Among registered voters in the suburbs, the Democratic Party had a net negative rating of minus 24 percent, which is nearly three times their negative rating among suburban voters in 2018.
The party also had a 2 percent net-positive rating among urban voters, a sizable drop from a plus 15 percent rating in 2021. Rural voters have increasingly reported negative feelings about the Democratic Party, giving the party a rating of minus 32 percent.
Here's the positive/negative ratings – from most popular, to least popular – for all the politicians or institutions the NBC News poll measured:
- Volodymyr Zelenskyy: 62 percent positive, 9 percent negative (+53)
- Disney: 33 percent positive, 30 percent negative (+3)
- Ron DeSantis: 28 percent positive, 26 percent negative (+2)
- The US Supreme Court: 36 percent positive, 35 percent negative (+1)
- The Republican Party: 35 percent positive, 46 percent negative (-11)
- Joe Biden: 37 percent positive, 51 percent negative (-14)
- Donald Trump: 36 percent positive, 51 percent negative (-16)
- Kamala Harris: 31 percent positive, 48 percent negative (-17)
- The Democratic Party: 31 percent positive, 50 percent negative (-19)
PACs funded by crypto executives face first tests in Tuesday’s primaries
The crypto executives behind multiple super PACs this cycle will get their first chances at victory next week in a handful of House primaries as they flood Democratic races with cash.
The super PACs Protect Our Future and Web3Forward have spent a combined $8 million on ads in next week’s primaries so far, according to the ad tracking firm AdImpact.
The bulk of that spending has been focused on Oregon’s 6th District, Protect Our Future has spent over $6.5 million on ads supporting former government contractor Carrick Flynn’s election. The 6th District is brand new, created due to population gain during redistricting in the state.
Protect Our Future is a new group funded by crypto executives including Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the crypto currency exchange FTX. The PAC has endorsed nearly a dozen candidates and lawmakers and claims to be focused on candidates who take long--term stances on certain legislation, particularly related to pandemic preparedness.
The amount of money spent on Flynn significantly outweighs the money spent on any other candidate in the race, which include veteran and businessman Cody Reynolds, internal medicine Dr. Kathleen Harder, and former state Rep. Andrea Salinas, who has the support of BOLD PAC, the political arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. House Majority PAC, a group tied to top congressional Democrats, has also spent in Flynn’s favor.
Protect Our Future has also spent significantly in two other open Democratic primaries in deep blue districts – Kentucky’s 3rd District and North Carolina’s 4th district.
In North Carolina, the group has spent $625,000 on ads supporting state Sen. Valerie Foushee, who’s running to replace retiring Democratic Rep. David Price. She’s been endorsed by EMILY’s List, the Congressional Black Caucus PAC and other members of Congress.
Her most notable opponent is Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, who’s been endorsed by progressive lawmakers like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken is also running.
In Kentucky, Protect Our Future has poured $591,000 into ads supporting state Sen. Morgan McGarvey. McGarvey faces one opponent, state Rep. Attica Scott, in his bid for an open seat to replace retiring Rep. John Yarmuth.
Another crypto-backed super PAC has spent heavily on the open seat race in Oregon’s 4th District.
Rep. Peter DeFazio is retiring, leaving a reliably Democratic seat open. He and Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., have endorsed Val Hoyle, Oregon’s Labor Commissioner.
Web3 Forward, which is tied to another PAC funded by crypto executives from companies like Coinbase and FTX, has spent $286,000 on ads supporting Hoyle. The PAC “supports Democratic candidates committed to making the next generation internet more secure, open and owned by the users,” according to the group’s website.
Web3Forward so far endorsed three Democratic candidates in primaries – Hoyle, Sydney Kamlager in California and Jasmine Crockett in Texas, who’s facing a primary runoff later this month.
Super PACs target Kathy Barnette in Pennsylvania Senate race
A pair of super PACs launched two new TV ads Friday morning attacking conservative commentator Kathy Barnette as she surges in Pennsylvania’s GOP Senate primary.
The ads come as former President Donald Trump, who has backed celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz in the race, and Barnette’s opponents target her as she has turned the race between Oz and former hedge fund manager David McCormick into a three-way contest.
Honor Pennsylvania, a pro-McCormick super PAC that’s spent $16.1 million largely attacking Oz, launched an ad where a narrator asks, “What do we really know about Kathy Barnette?”
The spot goes on to accuse Barnette of supporting the protests that followed the murder of George Floyd and of saying, “I was not a Trumper,” citing her Twitter feed and her book.
Another super PAC, USA Freedom Fund, launched a new ad blasting Barnette for supporting the building of a statue of former President Barack Obama.
The ad starts by mentioning comments Obama made about conservatives in 2008, saying some conservative voters are bitter and “cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them.”
“Remember how that made you feel?” the ad’s narrator asks. He adds, “One candidate for Senate doesn't care. In fact, Kathy Barnette wants to build a statue of Barack Obama right next to the one of Abraham Lincoln on Capitol Hill.”
The ad references a Change.org petition that appears to be written by Barnette, advocating for erecting statues of Obama, his family and abolitionist Frederick Douglas in Washington, D.C. The petition was written two years ago. NBC News hasn’t independently verified whether Barnette was indeed the person who wrote the petition.
USA Freedom Fund previously supported former Ohio state treasurer Josh Mandel’s unsuccessful run for Senate.
New ads target GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn in primary race
A super PAC supporting one of GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn's primary challengers launched two new ads targeting the controversial congressman ahead of next week’s primary in North Carolina.
Cawthorn, who has former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, has been at the center of numerous scandals.
The first-term congressman, who faced sexual harassment allegations in his first bid, drew criticism for his repeated lies and aggressive rhetoric about the 2020 election; he called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a “thug” and he said that he had been invited to drug-fueled sex parties by other lawmakers. And he’s also been the subject of leaked photos and videos of a sexual nature that attempt to paint Cawthorn in a negative light.
The new spots from the outside group Results for NC slam Cawthorn for falsely claiming an accident prevented him from attending the Naval Academy, even though he had already been rejected prior to the accident.
One of the new ads labels Cawthorn an untrustworthy “playboy politician,” and flashes one of those leaked images. The other spot features a woman veteran who is backing state Sep. Chuck Edwards in the May 17 primary.
Results for NC has spent the most on the airwaves of any campaign or outside group in the 11th District so far, dropping $739,000 on ads, according to the ad tracking firm AdImpact.
Edwards has picked up endorsements as Cawthorn has racked up headlines. North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis is supporting the state senator.
If no candidate wins more than 30 percent of the primary vote on Tuesday, the top two contenders head to a primary runoff in July.
Beasley internal poll shows dead heat in North Carolina Senate general election
North Carolina Democrat Cheri Beasley's internal campaign polling shows her in a statistical tie with the two Republican frontrunners squaring off in next week's Senate primary.
In a new polling memo shared with NBC News, Beasley, a former state Supreme Court chief justice, is tied with Republican Rep. Ted Budd at 45 percent in a general election matchup with 10 percent undecided. Beasley trails former Gov. Pat McCrory in a separate matchup with McCrory at 45, Beasley at 44 and 11 percent undecided.
The live-caller poll of 800 likely general election voters taken from April 28 through May 4 has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent, meaning that the polling shows Beasley in a statistical dead heat with either of the two Republicans. The poll tested head-to-head matchups, which don't capture third-party candidates that may be on the ballot (last cycle, conservative third-party candidates pulled about 4 percent of the vote in the Senate race).
The memo includes favorability ratings for all three candidates, suggesting that the raucous GOP primary may have affected how voters view McCrory and Budd, even while Beasley remains known to a smaller portion of the general electorate.
McCrory, who served four years as the state's governor, has a favorable rating in the poll from 33 percent of the likely general electorate, compared to a 45 percent unfavorable rating. Budd has a 28 percent favorable rating and a 30 percent unfavorable rating.
By comparison, Beasley has a 30 percent favorable rating and a 15 percent unfavorable rating in the poll.
The memo also suggests Beasley leads Budd with suburban voters and white college-educated voters, but the full crosstabs of the poll were not included.
Most public polls show a tight contest in a state that hasn't elected a Democratic senator since 2008 but did elect a Democratic governor in 2016, when Roy Cooper defeated McCrory. Former President Donald Trump won the state in the 2020 presidential election, defeating President Biden by a margin of 50 percent to 49 percent.
The race is expected to draw tens of millions in ad spending — the GOP backed Senate Leadership Fund has $22 million of ad time booked in the race already after primary day, per the ad-tracking firm AdImpact. And Politico reported Thursday that the National Republican Senatorial Committee is buying $6.5 million in advertising time in the state with ads starting Friday.
Biden's influence to be tested in Oregon on Tuesday
Most high profile primary elections this cycle have been viewed at least partially as a test of former President Trump’s power of the Republican Party through the success of candidates he's endorsed. But on Tuesday, we’ll have the first chance to see how far President Joe Biden’s power extends as his first endorsed candidate faces a challenge in Oregon’s Democratic primary for the 5th congressional district.
Biden is backing Rep. Kurt Schrader as he faces a challenge from public official Jamie McLeod-Skinner who has attacked Schrader for taking “millions in corporate PAC money” as he “sold out to big pharma.”
Schrader has defended himself on the airwaves, citing his record fighting for lower prescription drug prices and affordable healthcare.
He’s spent over $1.8 million on ads already, with five days to go until the primary. Two groups — Center Forward and Mainstream Democrats — have also spent money on the airwaves to support Schrader and attack McLeod-Skinner. They’ve spent a combined $1.3 million, according to AdImpact.
Center Forward in particular has run ads highlighting the fact that McLeod-Skinner was fired from a position as city manager in Phoenix, Oregon, in 2018 for being too antagonistic.
McLeod-Skinner has spent just over $250,000 on ads. She also trails Schrader in fundraising, raising almost $700,000 so far this cycle compared to the over $2 million Schrader has raised, according to the FEC.
She’s also run for Congress before. In 2018, she ran for and won the Democratic nomination for Oregon’s 2nd district, but was defeated in the general election by then-Rep. Greg Walden.
The non-partisan Cook Political Report rates this district as Lean Democratic, but there's a chance Republicans could flip the seat in November. On that side of the aisle, Jimmy Crumpacker and Lori Chavez-DeRemer are engaged in a tight primary.
Crumpacker ran for the state’s 2nd district in 2020, but came fourth in the GOP primary. Chavez-DeRemer served as mayor of Happy Valley from 2010 to 2018.
Chavez-DeRemer has raised $669,000 so far this cycle, while Crumpacker trails slightly, having raised $541,000, according to the FEC. He also slightly trails her in ad spending. According to AdImpact, Chavez-DeRemer has spent $286,000 on ads so far, while Crumpacker has spent $254,000.
Club for Growth goes in for Barnette in late Pennsylvania Senate primary push
The Club for Growth is coming to the aid of conservative commentator Kathy Barnette, whose Pennsylvania GOP primary candidacy has gained steam in recent days, with a new $2 million ad buy hoping to magnify her surge.
It's the Club's first expenditure of the primary, a biographical spot that features Barnette talking about her roots growing up on a rural pig farm and serving in the military before pivoting to her attacking Democrats.
"Kathy Barnette is a principled conservative and a fighter who will take on the socialists in Washington to preserve the American Dream for generations to come,” David McIntosh, the president of Club for Growth Action, said in a statement. “We look forward to supporting Barnette in her race to become the next Senator from Pennsylvania.”
The spending push is good enough to make the Club the top spender in the race's final week, a shake-up on airwaves that have long been dominated by the efforts supporting celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz and businessman David McCormick.
Up until this point, the pro-Barnette effort has been virtually non-existent on the airwaves. The pro-McCormick and Oz outfits alone have outspent Barnette's campaign (she's had no outside help until this week) by a margin of more than 328-to-1.
It's also another marquee race where the Club is breaking from former President Donald Trump, who has endorsed Oz. The Club's preferred candidate in Ohio's recent Senate race, former Treasurer Josh Mandel, lost to author J.D. Vance, Trump's pick. But the two were aligned in Tuesday's West Virginia primary, backing Rep. Alex Mooney over Rep. David McKinley.
McCormick dodges Trump question ahead of Pennsylvania primary
Former hedge fund manager David McCormick would rather not get into how he plans to win Pennsylvania's GOP Senate primary next week without former President Donald Trump's support.
McCormick is trying to win over Republican voters ahead of the May 17 contest, while Trump has endorsed celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz in the race.
Asked after a campaign event in Tunkhannoc, Pa., how he plans to win without Trump, McCormick responded, "Listen, I'm not doing any more interviews."
The dodge underscores the challenge McCormick faces in trying to win over the Trump faithful without the former president's backing. On Monday McCormick launched a new TV ad featuring footage of Trump praising McCormick and images of Trump and McCormick together.
On Tuesday Ozreleased his own ad rebutting McCormick's spot, featuring footage of Trump calling McCormick "a liberal Wall Street Republican."
For more coverage of Pennsylvania's Senate race, tune into Meet the Press Daily's special report from the Keystone State at 1 pm E.T on MSNBC.
Infrastructure vote threatens one House Republican. What about the others?
Former President Donald Trump has promised to exact revenge on Republicans who supported the bipartisan infrastructure package. And one of his best chances to do so comes Tuesday in West Virginia’s 2nd District.
“If this deal happens, lots of primaries will be coming your way,” Trump warned in a July statement as senators were negotiating the package.
On the same day President Joe Biden signed the infrastructure package into law in November, Trump announced he was backing West Virginia GOP Rep. Alex Mooney in his primary against GOP Rep. David McKinley, who voted for the package. Mooney and McKinley were forced to run for the same seat due to redistricting, since the Mountain State lost a House seat.
The two congressmen are in a hotly contested race that’s attracted a few million dollars in ad spending from their campaigns and outside groups. But the other six House Republicans who bucked their party to vote for the infrastructure package, and are still running for re-election, aren’t facing similar contests.
Trump has not yet endorsed primary challengers against those House members, even as he’s made his displeasure known.
At a rally in Nebraska earlier this month, Trump called GOP Rep. Don Bacon a “bad guy,” and wished his primary challenger “good luck.” But Trump stopped short of endorsing the challenger, roofer Steve Keuhl. Bacon’s primary is also set for Tuesday, but Keuhl has only raised $5,000 and didn’t have any money left in his campaign account as of March 31.
Trump has said he still supports New York GOP Rep. Nicole Malliotakis despite her vote for the package. But her race is still uncertain with New York’s congressional lines in flux. Fellow New York GOP Rep. Andrew Gabarino also voted for the infrastructure package.
Two New Jersey Republicans — Chris Smith and Jeff Van Drew — also voted for the bill. So did Pennsylvania Rep. Brain Fitzpatrick, whose primary is set for May 17, but he does not face any well-funded challengers from the right.
Of course Trump could still try to elevate a primary challenger against one of these Republicans, but so far the West Virginia race is his best opportunity to take down a GOP lawmaker who crossed the aisle.
Five of the House Republicans who voted for the package — New York Reps. John Katko and Tom Reed, Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, and Michigan Rep. Fred Upton — are not running for re-election. Another Republican who voted for the package, Alaska Rep. Don Young, died in March.
Data Download: Big money flooded into Tuesday's West Virginia Republican primary clash
The GOP primary in West Virginia's 2nd District is the crown jewel of the state's primary on Tuesday — the member-on-member clash has drawn $4.1 million in ad spending, according to the ad-tracking firm AdImpact.
Voters head to the polls there today to choose between two GOP congressmen, David McKinley and Alex Mooney, in the first incumbent vs. incumbent primary of the year.
Mooney’s campaign has spent nearly $1.5 million on the airwaves, while McKinley’s campaign has spent $1.2 million. Outside groups have also jumped into the race, with Club for Growth Action and School Freedom Fund dropping a combined $931,000 to bolster Mooney. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Defending Main Street super PAC have spent a combined $423,000 supporting McKinley.
Both candidates reference former President Donald Trump in their closing ads, although Mooney has Trump’s endorsement. In Mooney’s closing spot, a narrator says, “President Trump warned us about RINOs, sellouts and known losers. David McKinley proved him right,” knocking McKinley for supporting the bipartisan infrastructure package and a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
McKinley’s latest ad on the airwaves goes after the Club for Growth’s spending, with a narrator saying, “Mooney and his Washington special interest group are spending millions lying about David McKinley. Just like they did about President Trump.”
Club for Growth faces tests of its sway in May primaries
The conservative Club for Growth’s sway in GOP primaries will face key tests in May, with half of the candidates being backed by its PAC so far in 2022 facing primaries this month. The contests also come as the group’s past opposition to former President Donald Trump has faced new scrutiny.
So far the Club for Growth’s independent expenditure arm, known as Club for Growth Action, has spent $25.9 million on ads to support its candidates in May primaries, with the most of that spending centered on three Senate races, according to the ad tracking firm AdImpact.
The group did not succeed in helping one of its preferred Senate candidates, former Ohio state Treasurer Josh Mandel, win the GOP nod. Author J.D. Vance, who had Trump’s endorsement, won the primary last week instead.
That race sparked a clash between Trump world and the Club, which has been a staunch Trump ally after initially opposing Trump’s candidacy in 2016.
That past has even popped up in races where both the Club and Trump are backing the same candidate. In West Virginia, GOP Rep. David McKinley highlighted the group’s past opposition to Trump to push back on the Club’s involvement in the 2nd District race in which he is facing fellow GOP Rep. Alex Mooney. Trump and the Club are both backing Mooney in the contest.
McKinley launched a new ad this week saying the Club, which has spent $571,000 on ads boosting Mooney, was “lying about David McKinley, just like they did about Trump.”
Club for Growth spokesman Joe Kildea wrote in an email to NBC News that the group has “no concerns” that its past opposition to Trump will become a more prominent issue in GOP primaries.
“We are confident that we will win most of our races this month,” Kildea wrote.
Ohio isn’t the only place where the Club is at odds with the former president.
In Alabama’s Senate race, the Club has stuck by GOP Rep. Mo Brooks even after Trump withdrew his support. So far Club for Growth Action, has spent $4.3 million on ads to bolster Brooks.
And in Georgia’s 6th District, the Club is backing Rick McCormick, the 2020 nominee, in the May 24 primary, although the group has not yet spent on the airwaves. Trump endorsed another candidate in that race, attorney Jake Evans, on Thursday.
But the Club is largely aligned with Trump in other key primaries. So far the group has spent $11 million on ads backing GOP Rep. Ted Budd in North Carolina’s Senate primary, set for May 17. The Club has also spent nearly $1.1 million ads to support Trump-backed law student Bo Hines in the open seat race in North Carolina’s 13th District.
Wisconsin Senate politics to make appearance in Game 4 of Bucks-Celtics
When the Milwaukee Bucks face off against the Boston Celtics on Monday night in Game 4 of an intense playoff series, some viewers will be reminded of another contest — Wisconsin's competitive Democratic Senate primary.
A new ad from Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, first obtained by NBC News, takes aim at Alex Lasry, the wealthy former Bucks executive who’s rising in the polls and easily outspending his opponents in TV and digital ads.
In it, Nelson, competing against Lasry, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski for the chance to take on Republican Sen. Ron Johnson in the fall, criticizes the $250 million of public money that went into building Fiserv Forum, the home of the Bucks.
Wearing a sweatband and a green jersey with the number 34 on it, the number worn by Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nelson says he's rooting for his home team.
“What I’m not rooting for is using your tax dollars to make billionaires richer,” Nelson says in the ad. “We paid a quarter of a billion dollars for the Fiserv Forum, even more than Foxconn, every dollar spent was taken from schools, roads, tax relief, things that benefit all of us.”
Lasry, thanks in part to his deep pockets, is quickly becoming a threat in a race in which Barnes had long been considered the favorite and Nelson has been trying to gain steam when he's been vastly outspent. In recent days he has been ramping up his attacks on Lasry, calling on the Lasry family to refund taxpayers.
Lasry has defended the investment, pointing to evidence that the arena has quickly become an economic driver for Milwaukee.
A Marquette Law School poll in late April had Barnes leading Lasry by just 3 points, with Treasurer Sarah Godlewski following with 7 percent support and Nelson with 5 percent.
In 2015, the state approved a $250 million investment in a funding deal to help build Fiserv Forum. At the time of the deal, then-Bucks head coach Jason Kidd made a prediction.
“Will the new arena be hosting NBA Finals games within a few years? I`m not one to predict, but I think we look forward to our future,” Kidd said, according to a report by Fox News Milwaukee in 2015. “We have a chance to grow, get better each day, and our goal is to hold that gold trophy in that new arena.”
When the prediction came true last year, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s editorial page applauded the state’s investment, noting the arena now draws tens of thousands of fans to Milwaukee’s downtown, who then pour into nearby restaurants and bars.
“All of Wisconsin has a share in the Bucks’ remarkable rise from small-market doormat to NBA champions,” read an editorial in the Journal-Sentinel just after the Bucks claimed the NBA championship last year. “None of it would have happened without a new arena, built with $250 million of public money.”
Pompeo joins McCormick campaign to criticize Oz on Turkish vote
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joined Pennsylvania Republican David McCormick's Senate campaign Friday to criticize McCormick's top rival, Mehmet Oz, over new reporting that he voted in the 2018 Turkish elections and claiming it raises questions about his priorities should he be elected.
"He engaged in the Turkish political process — and that raises, in my mind, lots of judgments about his priorities. And we need to get him and his team to explain why he had time and energy and focus to vote in a Turkish election, but not in an American election," Pompeo said.
"And you stack that up with some of the work that he has done. Some of the political involvement he's had with Turkey. And I think that the campaign owes the people of Pennsylvania, the Mehmet Oz campaign, owes the people of Pennsylvania an explanation for this."
ABC News reported this week on Oz's 2018 vote, and his dual citizenship (which he has said he would relinquish if he wins) has been a target of criticism from political opponents like McCormick. But Pompeo stressed repeatedly on Friday's call that his comments are "separate and apart from politics."
Brittany Yanick, an Oz spokesman, defended the decision by Oz to keep his dual citizenship as made to help him take care of his mother and criticized the attacks as baseless.
"These are pathetic and xenophobic attacks on Dr. Oz by David McCormick, who should be ashamed of himself. Now that he lost President Trump’s endorsement, he’s resorted to sad and desperate attacks that are no different than the tropes used against Catholics and Jews," she told NBC in a statement.
"Dr. Oz has already said when elected to the Senate he would renounce his citizenship. There is no security issue whatsoever, and David McCormick knows that Dr. Oz has maintained his dual citizenship to make it easier to help care for his mother who has Alzheimer’s and lives there."
—Dasha Burns contributed
More than a dozen states appeal to DNC for early primary position
The Democratic National Committee wanted to shake up its presidential primary system and so far, there are plenty of states signaling that they are willing to join the effort.
As of Friday afternoon, nearly 20 states and territories have notified the DNC they’re interested in holding a first-in-the-nation primary or be considered somewhere among the early window of primary contests in 2024. Those requests are required to be sent by the end of the day Friday.
Sources tell NBC News that once the next phase begins — which entails submitting an application and making a pitch before the Rules and Bylaws Committee — those numbers are expected to drop off. There are also some states that have significant hurdles, including Republican legislatures that dictate their primary dates or costly media markets that price out candidates who aren’t independently wealthy.
The panel has said it intends to make a decision by the beginning of August.
The DNC recently scrapped its early state system that long allowed Iowa and New Hampshire to kick off the presidential primary contests followed by Nevada, then South Carolina. They are asking those states to reapply and make their case to be considered in the early window, while allowing other states to try to move up the primary calendar as well.
Charges have also mounted that the electorates in Iowa and New Hampshire are too white and should not have such an outsized role in dictating the Party’s nominees. Nevada is making an aggressive push to supplant New Hampshire, while New Hampshire is making its case to remain the first-in-the-nation primary.
Here are the states that have so far sent letters of interest to the DNC: Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Nebraska, New Jersey, Texas, Washington, New York, Oklahoma, Colorado, Puerto Rico, Maryland, Delaware. (This list will be updated).
Democratic group aims to flip key state legislatures
The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee is targeting Republican majorities in three state legislatures this year.
Minnesota’s Senate, Michigan’s House and Senate, and New Hampshire’s House and Senate are where the DLCC sees vulnerable Republican majorities that could be nabbed by Democrats this fall.
Additionally, the group plans to invest to defend Democratic majorities in five state legislatures — Colorado’s House and Senate, Maine’s House and Senate, Minnesota’s House, Nevada’s Assembly and Senate and New Mexico’s House.
DLCC finalized their list of state targets before a Supreme Court draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked to Politico earlier this week, the group’s president Jessica Post said in a virtual press briefing on Friday.
However, Post said she was “absolutely horrified about the future of Roe,” and they are motivated to gain Democratic majorities in Minnesota and Michigan to help protect reproductive rights in those states.
In Michigan, a law restricting abortion from the 1930s is still on the books and could go into effect once a Supreme Court Decision overturning Roe is handed down.
And in Minnesota, Democratic Gov. Tim Walz has so far vowed to protect abortion access in the state. But, he faces a tough reelection fight to keep the governor’s mansion blue this fall.
“Roe has the ability to change the landscape dramatically,” Post said. She added later, “Michigan is at the top of our target list.”
Specifically, the group plans to use their resources in their target states this year to support local candidates, provide polling data and candidate-specific research and potentially finance early campaign investments.
“It takes a lot to support state legislative candidates,” especially if they’re still working full-time, Post said.
Pa. Senate's GOP frontrunners have relied mostly on self-funding, new reports show
A little more than a week before the pivotal Pennsylvania Republican Senate primary, new fundraising reports show how Mehmet Oz and David McCormick have heavily relied on their own personal wealth to boost their bids.
Oz loaned his campaign more than $12 million through April 27, the latest campaign finance reports show, the vast majority of the $15 million he's raised so far. McCormick loaned his campaign $11 million of the $16 million he's raised.
Not only are the candidates giving to their campaigns at relative parity, but they've spent almost exactly the same — about $14.1 million — so far (this includes all campaign spending reported to the Federal Election Commission, not just ad spending).
But just looking at ad spending, the pro-McCormick team is outspending the pro-Oz team largely thanks to big super PAC spending.
McCormick's campaign has spent $10.4 million on advertising, per AdImpact, with his allied super PACS Honor Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Conservative Fund spending $14.2 million and $2.6 million respectively.
Oz has spent $12.1 million, with the anti-McCormick American Leadership Action spending another $3.2 million.
Jessica Cisneros warns Henry Cuellar could be the “Joe Manchin of the House”
Progressive attorney Jessica Cisneros is warning Democratic primary voters that her primary opponent, Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, could block the party's priorities if he’s re-elected, likening Cuellar to a certain influential Democratic senator from West Virginia.
“There's so many key issues where he's always standing with Republicans, and he could become the Joe Manchin of the House,” Cisneros said Thursday on MTP Daily. “We don't want Henry Cuellar to be the deciding vote on the future of our fundamental freedoms and rights in this country. We just can't risk that."
Cisneros faces Cuellar in a primary runoff on May 24 after neither candidate won a majority of the primary vote on March 1. Cisneros has made abortion a central issue in the race following a leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision signaling the court was preparing to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
Cuellar is the lone Democrat in the House who opposes abortion rights, and he has said his stance reflects his heavily Latino, more socially conservative, district in South Texas. But Cisneros pushed back on that characterization, telling MTP Daily that her close primary race in March and her close primary challenge to Cuellar in 2020 show the district is not as conservative as Cuellar claims.
“People have just taken Henry Cuellar’s word that this district is conservative as it is when it comes to this issue,” Cisneros said.
“I know that it's important to voters because I've been out there talking to them myself,” Cuellar added on the abortion issue. She recalled holding a phone bank shortly after Cuellar was the only Democrat who voted against a measure to codify abortion rights into federal law.
“The first few voters that I got on the line were talking about — they were telling me about how upset they were that Henry Cuellar had sided with Republicans on this issue,” she said.
Cuellar has had support from House leadership in his primary race. House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., traveled to the district this week to stump for the nine-term congressman. Clyburn said Wednesday that Cuellar “gives us a much better chance of winning their seat than anybody else."
Cisneros responded to Clyburn’s statement, saying, “People in this district aren't voting for me because I am progressive. They're voting for me because I'm putting forth policies that are actually going to enact change in this district … I really hope that the Democratic leadership doesn't stand in the way of the change that South Texans want to see.”
Republicans are targeting the seat in November. President Joe Biden would have carried the 28th District by 7 percentage points had the new congressional map been in place in 2020. The Cook Politico Report rates the race a Toss Up.
Poll: Fetterman holds large lead in Pennsylvania, while GOP race is a dead heat
Less than two weeks until Pennsylvania’s key Senate primaries, Lt. Gov John Fetterman has jumped out to a nearly 40-point lead in the Democratic contest, while the Republican race is neck-and-neck between celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz and former hedge fund executive David McCormick.
That’s according to a new Franklin and Marshall poll of the state that was conducted April 20 to May 1, and which has a margin of error of plus-minus 4.4 percentage points.
In the Democratic race, Fetterman leads U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Pa., by 39 points among Democratic voters, 53 percent to 14 percent, with state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta at 4 percent.
Twenty-two percent say they’re undecided or unsure.
Last month, the poll had Fetterman ahead of Lamb by 24 points, 41 percent to 17 percent.
In the Republican race, Oz — whom former President Donald Trump has endorsed — gets support from 18 percent of GOP voters, McCormick gets 16 percent and conservative political commentator Kathy Barnette gets 12 percent.
A whopping 39 percent are undecided or unsure.
Unlike Ohio’s Senate contest, where Trump’s endorsement of J.D. Vance changed the contours of that primary Vance won, this poll shows Trump’s endorsement of Oz hasn’t really shifted this GOP race.
Last month’s Franklin and Marshall poll — which was conducted mostly before Trump’s endorsement — had Oz at 16 percent and McCormick at 15 percent, with 43 percent undecided.
Ad watch: Abortion politics
Wisconsin state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, one of the Democrats running to take on GOP Sen. Ron Johnson, is going up with a new TV ad filmed in the aftermath of the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.
“We’re at the Supreme Court where it looks like Ron Johnson is going to get exactly what he wants: Overturning Roe v. Wade, reinstating Wisconsin’s cruel abortion ban and putting doctors in jail,” Godlewski says in the ad, shared first with NBC News, which was filmed in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
“But that’s not what Wisconsinites want,” Godlewski adds. “We don’t want politicians making health care choices for women.”
The 30-second spot is part of a six-figure statewide television ad buy, per Godlewski’s campaign, and the portion in front of the Supreme Court was shot on an iPhone. Godlewski, the only high-profile woman in the Democratic primary, has been endorsed by EMILY’s List, which backs women candidates who support abortion rights.
Primary turnout so far is another warning sign for Democrats
Republicans have an edge in enthusiasm so far in 2022, voter turnout suggests, a possible trend that should be concerning for Democrats. Watch NBC News' Steve Kornacki break it down here:
Abortion emerged among top themes in April's midterm election ads
Out of 462 political ads in House, Senate and gubernatorial races in April, inflation, immigration, election integrity and abortion topped the list of issues mentioned by candidates and outside groups.
Inflation was the top mentioned issue, with 46 unique ads — or 10 percent of all political ads tracked by NBC News in April — mentioning inflation or rising prices. Immigration and border security appeared as a theme in 35 ads. Election integrity or voting rights appeared as an issue in 31 commercials and abortion was mentioned in 30 spots.
Immigration and inflation topped the list in March, too, though the sheer number of ads in March (210) was smaller than April.
Abortion is an emerging issue in midterm ads, which are still largely focused on intra-party primary contests. The topic also fell strictly across party lines, with only Republican candidates highlighting anti-abortion rights stances and only Democrats vowing to protect abortion rights.
Most candidates just cited their stance on abortion among a list of other topics they are for or against. But some, like Nebraska state Sen. and gubernatorial candidate Brett Lindstrom, have run entire ads focusing on the issue.
“Like many Nebraskans, I've long prayed for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade,” Lindstrom says in one ad. “Nothing in the Constitution establishes a right to an abortion, and we have a moral obligation to protect life at every stage.”
On the Democratic side, Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Penn., ran ads highlighting his pro-choice stance, saying “If we don't win this Senate race, we're going to lose a lot more than just an election. Republicans are attacking the right to vote. They're attacking womens' right to choose. ... I've beaten Trump-backed candidates in Trump districts three elections in a row. I know how to win tough races.”
As Democrats and Republicans face each other this fall, it’s likely abortion will come into sharper focus as the midterm election cycle moves forward, particularly in light of a leaked draft Supreme Court decision obtained by Politico that would overturn Roe v. Wade this year.
The only primary where abortion has become a focal point this cycle is in Texas’ 28th district, where progressive Jessica Cisneros has targeted Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, who was the only Democrat in the House to vote against legislation that would enshrine the right to an abortion on the federal level.
Other issues mentioned where opinions and statements fell squarely among party lines was election integrity and voting rights. Six percent of ads mentioned the issue, with only Republicans vowing to strengthen election integrity and only Democrats promising to expand voting rights.
In Georgia’s 7th district, where two incumbents are facing each other due to redistricting, Reps. Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux each ran ads highlighting their stances on voting rights.
“My father pushed me in a stroller at the March on Washington. There's nothing more American than the right to vote,” McBath says in one ad before adding, “I'm fighting for my good friend, John Lewis' Voting Rights Act on the front lines to protect our right to vote.”
In her ad, Bordeaux says, “They say we can't pass a new Voting Rights Act, but if we stand together, it can be done.”
In previous months, NBC News ad analyses have also tracked the presence of “boogeymen” in political ads. Just like previous months, in April, President Joe Biden, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and China topped the list of GOP boogeymen, or entities candidates target outside of their direct opponents.
A new boogeyman emerged in April among Republicans, though — Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah. He was mentioned in four unique ads by outside groups like Buckeyes for a Strong Ohio, who attacked former Ohio state treasurer Josh Mandel for previously supporting Romney, a Republican senator known for bucking former President Donald Trump. Mandel ran for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.
“While we struggle with high gas and grocery bills, Josh Mandel supported the politicians who got us here, endorsing Romney,” the ad’s narrator says.
While GOP groups and candidates have name checked Biden in ads all year, Democrats have just started to use Trump or “Trump Republicans” as boogeymen in their ads.
“Carrick will stand up to the Trump Republicans so we can tackle climate change head on and take on the drug companies to lower the cost of prescription drugs,” an ad paid for by the House Majority PAC in favor of Carrick Flynn’s campaign for Oregon’s 6th district stated.
Democratic Governors Association booking $75 million for initial fall TV ad salvo
The Democratic Governors Association is reserving $75 million of television advertising time for the fall across eight states, NBC News has learned exclusively, as it looks to make early investments aimed at shoring up Democratic incumbents.
The group's top three states as far as initial spending are ones featuring incumbents who flipped their states' governor's mansions blue in 2018 — Michigan ($23 million), Wisconsin ($21 million) and Nevada ($10 million).
The DGA is also booking $5 million in both Colorado and Maine, $4.5 million in Minnesota and $2.5 million in New Mexico. The DGA and its allies in Kansas are booking another $4 million in fall TV spending there, and have already been spending in other races too.
“The DGA is all in to protect our incumbents. As the fight to defend our democracy and fundamental rights shifts to the states, ensuring Democratic governors are in office is more vital than ever,” DGA Executive Director Noam Lee told NBC in a statement. “Our track record of smart, strategic investments has helped us elect Democratic governors across the country, and it is how we are going to win this fall."
The heavy emphasis on Michigan and Wisconsin is no surprise — Govs. Gretchen Whitmer and Tony Evers, respectively, are the Democratic Party's only bulwark in those states against Republican-controlled legislatures. (That's the case in Kansas, with Gov. Laura Kelly, too.)
November's elections are expected to be tough for Democrats as President Joe Biden's approval rating languishes and Republicans have closed the gap on the generic ballot.
But Democrats are hopeful that their party can rebound as the pandemic wanes, particularly with a more empathetic message about the economy and by contrasting themselves with some high-profile Republican gubernatorial hopefuls who continue to spread echo lies about the 2020 election. Vulnerable Democratic governors have also responded to the recently leaked draft Supreme Court opinion on Roe v. Wade by promising to protect abortion access from their seat in power.
Campaign organizations regularly make early, large advertising buys in order to lock in lower rates before advertising time gets more expensive. The DGA's Republican counterpart, the Republican Governors Association, released its list of first major television advertising buys in March — $31.4 million in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin, states where Republicans largely hope to go on offense. Both groups, along with other outside groups, are expected to spend heavily in these races, and others, as Election Day draws closer.
White House looks for political boost from high court's draft leak
The White House has for months been crafting a political and policy strategy for the possibility of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, cemented in the belief that such a move could dramatically change Democrats’ dim fortunes in November’s midterm elections.
On Monday night some of those plans were set in motion.
President Biden received a phone call from White House chief of staff Ron Klain informing him that Politico had just published a draft decision overturning Roe v. Wade. White House aides then got to work on a presidential statement on the matter, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters..
By Tuesday morning, Biden had signed off on a statement that made one of the key political points — “it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November” — and signaled there would be future policy moves by his administration.
A couple of hours later, the president hit on another part of the White House’s political strategy: Warning that abortion rights is just the beginning. “If the rationale of the decision as released were to be sustained, a whole range of rights are in question,” Biden said, citing same-sex marriage and contraception.
Politically, the Biden aide said, the “strategy is to set up a clear choice” in the midterms between Democrats who support abortion rights and Republicans who don’t.
A decision by the Supreme Court isn’t expected until this summer and is unlikely to fundamentally change from the draft.
Even in draft form, however, the document is seen by the White House as potentially helping Democrats win back suburban women voters who were critical to Biden’s election but may be swayed by Republican arguments about issues such as government influence on decisions about their children’s education.
“It has the opportunity to galvanize the Biden coalition in ways that other issues don't,” the Biden aide said of the abortion decision. “That is women, of course. It is communities of color. It is young people across genders. And it is also suburban women and independent women in particular.”
Republicans are poised to pick up seats in the midterms, with voters unhappy about inflation and high gas prices. Democrats have also been on the defensive over Biden’s handling of migrants at the southern border.
With a lack of votes for legislation in Congress to codify protections in Roe v. Wade, even among Democrats, the policy possibilities under discussion in the White House involve possible executive action or using the bully pulpit to influence states.
While the senior Biden advisor was mum on specifics in the White House’s federally-focused strategy, the adviser also acknowledged that much of the work to shore up abortion rights and reproductive protections would fall to the states—and that that’s where the midterm battles would be waged, too.
Still, one ally close to the White House described the Supreme Court decision, politically, as “a gift.”
White House officials made clear the overturning of Roe v. Wade is not a fight they want to have. But the raw political calculation is that specific action by the Supreme Court is easier for Democrats to organize around than a theoretical threat, and that it gives voters something tangible besides economic issues to evaluate candidates on.
“They should feel empowered that they have an opportunity to do something about the Supreme Court's decision here, if it comes to pass, and that opportunity is to make their opinions and voice loud and clear and vote in November for pro-choice elected officials,” the Biden aide said.
Ad spending breakdown: DeWine and Whaley win gubernatorial nominations
NBC News has projected the Ohio gubernatorial general election matchup — Republican Gov. Mike DeWine and Dayton Democratic Mayor Nan Whaley — two candidates who faced different ad spending environments on their way to the nomination.
DeWine outspent every candidate and outside group on ads in the race on both sides of the aisle, according to the ad-tracking firm AdImpact, $4.9 million. That's significantly more than the next-highest-spending Republican, former Rep. Jim Renacci, who spent $1.7 million.
Whaley, on the other hand, was narrowly outspent by Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, spent on ads. Cranley spent $1.85 million, per AdImpact, while Whaley spent $1.54 million.
Now DeWine and Whaley will face off in what could become an expensive general election matchup.
Correction (May 4, 2022, 1:20 p.m): Due to a misreading of the ad-spending data, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated a lower figure for Whaley's ad spending. Her campaign spent $1.54 million on television ad spending, not $155,000.
Record numbers for early voting in Georgia
Early voting in Georgia's midterm primary election began Monday and voters turned out in record numbers.
The Georgia Secretary of State's office said that 27,298 voters cast their votes yesterday, NBC News' Blayne Alexander and Charlie Gile report (the Secretary's office originally said that the number of early votes was 27,366 but have corrected the total).
On the first day of early primary voting in 2018, only 9,226 voters cast early votes. That's an increase of over 18,000 first-day early votes in four years.
The party breakdown of Monday's vote was: 14,731 Republican, 12,308 Democratic and 259 who were non-partisan.
Early voting began about three weeks ahead of the state's primary election, where voters will pick nominees for the major parties for governor, secretary of state and Congress.
Among the most notable races, Gov. Brian Kemp faces a challenge from Trump-endorsed former Sen. David Perdue in the race for the Republican nomination. Kemp has been polling ahead of Perdue in the state, but he needs to earn over 50 percent of the vote to clear a runoff.
Sen. Raphael Warnock is also on the ballot, though he's expected to easily coast through the Democratic ticket to the general election ballot, where he'll likely face former football star Herschel Walker in November.
Kathy Hochul appoints Rep. Antonio Delgado member as new lieutenant governor
Gov. Kathy Hochul, D-N.Y., has tapped Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado to be her new lieutenant governor, replacing former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin, who resigned after he was indicted on bribery charges.
"We share a belief in working together to get things done for New Yorkers, and Representative Delgado has an incredible record of doing just that in Congress,” Hochul said in a Tuesday statement. “With Antonio Delgado by my side serving as Lieutenant Governor, we will both make history - and make a difference."
Delgado will serve as Hochul’s running mate as she runs for a full term in November, according to The New York Times, leaving open his competitive Upstate New York House seat.
Delgado, who is Black and Latino, was first elected to represent the competitive 19th District, which is largely white, in 2018, defeating former GOP Rep. John Faso after winning a competitive Democratic primary. He has proven to be a strong fundraiser and was potentially facing a tough re-election fight this year. New York’s congressional map is still in flux after the state Supreme Court tossed out the map as a partisan gerrymander late last month.
It’s not immediately clear when Delgado will leave the House to take on his new role as lieutenant governor. But his impending exit would leave an even smaller majority for the Democratic Caucus. His exit would also make him the 31st House Democrat not running for re-election this year.
More than $73 million has been spent on Ohio Senate primary ads
Roughly $73.3 million has been spent on ads in the Ohio Senate primaries, surpassing all other Senate races so far, with $69.9 million spent on the GOP primary alone.
Wealthy candidates who funded their own campaigns led the pack of Republican candidates vying to replace retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman, while outside groups also poured in millions, according to the ad tracking firm AdImpact.
Investment banker Mike Gibbons’ campaign spent the most of any candidate or outside group on ads, dropping $13.5 million on the race. Gibbons loaned and contributed a combined $16.8 million of his own money to his campaign.
The super PAC Protect Ohio Values spent $10.4 million on ads to bolster “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance. The group, which is funded by billionaire Peter Thiel, has launched ads touting former President Donald Trump’s decision to endorse Vance. Vance’s own campaign spent $1.7 million on the airwaves.
State Sen. Matt Dolan, whose family owns the Cleveland Guardians baseball team, spent $9.3 million on ads. Dolan also largely self-funded his campaign with an $8 million contribution and a $2.6 million loan.
Club for Growth Action, a conservative outside group backing state Treasurer Josh Mandel, spent $8.9 million on ads while Mandel’s campaign spent $6.2 million. USA Freedom Fund, which is also backing Mandel, has spent $4.8 million
Former Ohio GOP Chairwoman Jane Timken, who has Portman’s endorsement, spent $4.1 million on ads. She also had help from a pair of outside groups, Ohio Leads and Winning for Women Action Fund, which have spent nearly $3.7 million combined.
Just $3.4 million has been spent in the Democratic primary, with $2.9 million coming from Rep. Tim Ryan’s campaign. Ryan is facing attorney Morgan Harper in the race.
Dolan criticizes Vance for campaigning with and defending Gaetz
Ohio Republican state Sen. Matt Dolan criticized one of his fellow U.S. Senate hopefuls, author J.D. Vance, in an interview with NBC News over Vance's decision to campaign with, and defend, a congressman under federal investigation.
Dolan singled out Vance's decision to campaign with embattled Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, among other allies, over the past weekend. Sources familiar with the case tell NBC that Gaetz is being investigated for sex trafficking — the congressman has denied the allegations and has not been charged with a crime. The Columbus Dispatch reported that during a conversation with reporters on the trail, Vance commented on the allegations against Gaetz.
“Being accused of a crime, as we’ve learned in the past four years in this country, is very often more about corrupt law enforcement than it is about anything anybody’s actually done," he said, per the Dispatch. "Do I think Matt Gaetz is a child sex predator? Of course I don’t."
Dolan blasted those comments in an interview Monday.
"The weekend before the election, he's telling Ohio law enforcement officers: You are corrupt. Those are his words, not mine. And he's trying to demonstrate that a person from out of state who has come in to campaign for him, he has to prove that person's not a sexual predator?" Dolan told NBC News about Vance.
"This is about who can go to Washington and reflect Ohio and fight for Ohio's concerns. If he's demeaning law enforcement and having, let's just say, questionable people supporting him from out of Ohio, Ohioans need to know that."
Dolan's campaign also released comments from the state's former Attorney General, Betty Montgomery, and the National Sheriffs’ Association President, Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth, criticizing Vance over the comments. Both have endorsed Dolan.
The Vance campaign did not respond to a request for additional comments about the decision to campaign with Gaetz, or about Dolan's criticism.
While most of the candidates in the broad Ohio Republican Senate field have been moving toward the right of the party — Vance recently won former President Trump's endorsement — Dolan has struck out on a different path that's more reminiscent of the political career of the retiring Republican senator whose seat he hopes to replace, Sen. Rob Portman (Portman has endorsed former state GOP chair Jane Timken).
In his interview with NBC, Dolan added that a victory on Tuesday would show that "Ohioans want somebody to go into battle in November representing Republican ideas, Republican values, but keeping Ohio and what's important to Ohio first and foremost."
UPDATE: Gaetz, who has called the investigation against him a "witch hunt," responded to Dolan's comments shortly after publication.
Midterm roundup: A big night for 'J.D. Mandel'
Former President Donald Trump traveled to Nebraska Sunday to rally supporters around his pick for governor, businessman Charles Herbster, who is also facing multiple groping allegations (which Herbster has denied). But Trump didn’t just focus on Herbster’s race in his 104-minute speech, NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard reports.
Trump flubbed J.D. Vance’s name, Trump’s preferred candidate in Ohio’s Senate race, instead calling him “J.D. Mandel,” an apparent mix-up with another candidate, state Treasurer Josh Mandel. (“We've endorsed J.P., right—J.D. Mandel,” Trump said.)
He also praised Missouri GOP Rep. Billy Long as Long continues to vie for Trump’s endorsement in the Show Me State’s Senate race.
And Trump criticized a series of other sitting Republicans, including Nebraska’s own Sen. Ben Sasse and Rep. Don Bacon, saying he would not endorse Bacon or Bacon’s primary challenger ahead of the May 10 primary. But he added that Bacon is a “bad guy” and wished his primary challenger “good luck.”
Elsewhere on the campaign trail:
Arizona Senate: Politico reports that state Attorney General Mark Brnovich appears to have lost his lead in the GOP Senate primary as other candidates in the race hit the airwaves.
Colorado Governor: Danielle Neuschwanger, who fell just short of the votes needed at the state GOP convention to qualify for the Republican primary ballot, will run a third-party candidacy.
Georgia Governor: Early voting starts today in Georgia ahead of the May 24 primary. GOP Gov. Brian Kemp and former Sen. David Perdue met again on the debate stage Sunday. Trump is holding a tele-rally for Perdue tonight.
Wisconsin Governor: Republican businessman Tim Michels booked another $117,000 in ad spending for this week as he rolls out his new gubernatorial bid.
Florida-27: Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell is ending his Democratic Senate bid to run for Congress against GOP Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar
Ad Watch: Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin backs a Republican House candidate
Just over one week ahead from West Virginia's primary election, a familiar face is backing Rep. David McKinley, R-W. Va., on the airwaves. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., is featured in a new ad supporting McKinley in his primary election.
Due to population loss, West Virginia was forced to downsize from three congressional districts to just two, leading McKinley to face another incumbent congressman, Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W. Va., in a primary.
Mooney is endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
Manchin opens the ad by highlighting the failure of Build Back Better, a tenet of President Joe Biden's agenda that failed in part due to Manchin's opposition of the plan.
"I've always said if I can't go home and explain it, I can't vote for it, and that's why I opposed Build Back Better," Manchin says at the beginning of the ad.
"For Alex Mooney and his out of state supporters to suggest David McKinley supported Build Back Better is an outright lie," he adds. "David McKinley has always opposed reckless spending because it doesn't make sense for West Virginia."
Manchin isn't the first high profile West Virginian to support McKinley on the airwaves. Republican Gov. Jim Justice has also been featured in ads promoting McKinley.
Mooney and McKinley have been locked in an intense, months-long ad war as the two head to a primary on May 10. The non-partisan Cook Political Report rates this district as Solid Republican, meaning whoever wins the primary is likely to keep the seat in November's general election.
AIPAC super PAC spends over $1.6 million in four races
A new AIPAC-backed super PAC is spending big in Democratic congressional primaries. United Democracy Project is running a combined $1.6 million in four races — one in Pennsylvania, another in Texas and two in North Carolina.
In Pennsylvania, UDP has spent $472,000 so far in ads opposing state Rep. Summer Lee, a progressive candidate backed by Justice Democrats, the same group who backed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s, D-N.Y., first run for Congress. Lee is seeking the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania’s 12th district. Rep. Fred Keller, R-Penn., decided not to run again after the district became more Democratic following redistricting.
The UDP ads against Summer Lee feature a narrator who attacks her for not supporting Biden.
“Summer Lee attacked Biden's character, said he'd take us backwards and Lee refused to support Biden's infrastructure plan that's now rebuilding bridges and roads in Western Pennsylvania,” the ad's narrator says.
"Summer Lee, more interested in fighting Democrats than getting results,” the ad intones.
In Texas’ 28th district, where progressive Jessica Cisneros is facing Congressman Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, in a runoff primary at the end of May, UDP has spent $128,000 so far running ads against Cisneros.
The ad’s narrator tells viewers, “Jessica Cisneros would cost us thousands of jobs in south Texas,” pointing to her plan to cut the number of border patrol agents and reassign them to other functions.
“Jessica Cisneros is backed by groups who want to cut police funding, too, costing us even more jobs. Jessica Cisneros: a risk to our jobs, and our safety,” the narrator adds.
In North Carolina, UDP is running positive ads, supporting state Sen. Don Davis in the state’s first district and state Sen. Valerie Foushee in the state’s 4th district. Foushee faces seven other candidates in the Democratic primary for retiring Rep. David Price’s, D-N.C., seat.
The group has already spent over $577,000 on ads supporting Foushee.
The ads in her favor highlight her life story and her time in the state Senate, “where she stood with Roy Cooper to improve education, stop Republican attacks on voting rights and protect a woman's right to choose,” the ad’s narrator says.
Davis is running for retiring Rep. G.K. Butterfield’s seat and the ads in his favor highlight his life story and his record in the state Senate.
“Davis voted to raise teacher pay, invest in maternal health, and when Republicans tried to gut Medicaid, Don Davis took them on,” the ad’s narrator says.
UDP has spent $444,000 on ads supporting Davis so far.
Nebraska governor’s race heats up ahead of Trump rally
UPDATED 4:20 p.m. | Former President Donald Trump is heading to Nebraska on Sunday to boost his preferred candidate for governor, businessman Charles Herbster. And the rally comes as the race has heated up on the airwaves.
Herbster, who is expected to speak at the rally, faces a crowded field of candidates, including Jim Pillen, a businessman and livestock producer, and state Sen. Brian Lindstrom. Those three candidates have outspent the rest of the field on the airwaves, spending a combined $11.1 million on ads, per the ad tracking firm AdImpact.
Trump’s rally also comes as Herbster is facing sexual misconduct allegations, with eight women, including a state senator, accusing him of groping, according to a report in the Nebraska Examiner.
Herbster has denied the allegations and launched a TV ad accusing his Pillen and GOP Gov. Pete Ricketts, who has backed Pillen in the race, of conspiring to lie about Herbster. The ad compares Herbster to Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas, who respectively faced allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Herbster’s campaign has outspent his opponents on the airwaves, spending $5.2 million as of Friday. Pillen has spent $4.3 million on ads, while Lindstrom has spent $1.5 million. One outside group known as Conservative Nebraska has spent $848,000 on anti-Herbster ads. Another outside group known as Restore the Good Life has spent $510,000 to boost Marine veteran Michael Connely.
Whoever wins the GOP primary on May 10 is expected to win the general election. Trump won the Cornhusker State by 19 percentage points in 2020 and the Cook Political Report rates the Nebraska governor’s race Solid Republican.
This post has been updated to reflect that Trump postponed his rally from Friday to Sunday due to inclement weather.
Midterm roundup: Ohio Senate GOP primary is down to the wire
With the Ohio primary just four days away, outside groups are hitting the airwaves in the competitive GOP Senate contest. Protect Ohio Values, the Peter Thiel-backed super PAC supporting author J.D. Vance, is running a new spot attacking former Treasurer Josh Mandel as a “moderate,”noting his endorsement of 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Meanwhile, Drain the DC Swamp PAC has a new ad supporting Mandel, spanning a range of issues including Mandel’s support for the controversial Arizona audit of the 2020 election. Ohio Leads, a super PAC backing former state GOP Chairwoman Jane Timken, is up with a new spot highlighting Vance’s anti-Trump comments.
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., will hit the campaign trail for Vance on Sunday and Monday, along with Turning Point Action founder Charlie Kirk. And investment banker Mike Gibbons is hosting a tele-town hall on Monday with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla.
Elsewhere on the trail ...
GA-SEN: Republican Kelvin King is running his first television ad, a bio spot that criticizes incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock on inflation.
OK-SEN: GOP Sen. James Lankford is putting $312,000 behind a new ad buy that spans virtually all of June ahead of the state’s June 28 primary, per AdImpact.
AZ-GOV: Democrat Aaron Lieberman’s first TV ad takes aim not just at GOP gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake, but also Democratic frontrunner Katie Hobbs, criticizing her over an employment discrimination case.
HI-GOV: Punchbowl is reporting that Hawaii Democratic Rep. Kai Kahele is leaving Congress to run for governor.
GA-GOV: Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed a handful of controversial education bills into law Thursday.
MD-GOV: Fox 45 in Baltimore has a new story noting other times when Democrat Wes Moore did not correct interviewers who misrepresented his biography. The good news for Moore: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is endorsing him.
IL-5: Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley says he won’t run for mayor of Chicago.
Read more in today's First Read, the daily briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
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Data Download: Biden, Harris have only had two private lunches this year
The First Read number of the day is two, the number of times that President Biden and Vice President Harris have had private lunches this year.
That’s a significant decrease from the 21 times the two lunched in 2021, after Biden said he wanted to forge a similar relationship with his second-in-command as then-President Obama forged with him over regular, private lunches.
At this point during Biden's second year as vice president, he had 13 private lunches with Obama.
When asked about the infrequency of their lunches, Deputy White House Press Secretary Chris Meagher said: “The president and vice president are in constant touch with each other, and he relies on her counsel, partnership, and friendship as they work together to continue to grow the economy, cut costs for working families, rally the world in the face of Russia’s aggression, and make historic investments in our nation’s infrastructure.”
Both Biden and Harris have had separate overseas trips this year while also ramping up their domestic travel schedules. Harris also worked remotely for a period in mid-March after her husband, Douglas Emhoff, tested positive for COVID.
But Biden and Harris’ schedules overlapped often this year, with joint public or private events on 39 days, making the absence of weekly lunches more conspicuous.
Biden has had other private lunches as well this year, including one for old time’s sake with Obama. Harris later joined them for a public event about expanding the Affordable Care Act.
Read more in today's First Read, the daily briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
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Watch: DeSantis stumps for Senate candidate in early primary state of Nevada
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis traveled to Nevada to campaign for GOP Senate candidate Adam Laxalt Wednesday night and provided some material for the 2024 speculation surrounding the governor. Watch the "MTP Daily" report:
Trump backs Clark County sheriff for Nevada governor
Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo in the crowded GOP primary to take on Nevada’s Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak.
“As Governor, Joe will fiercely Protect our under-siege Second Amendment, Oppose Sanctuary Cities, Support our Law Enforcement, Veto any Liberal Tax Increase, Protect Life, and Secure our Elections,” Trump said in a Thursday night statement.
The GOP primary, which is set for June 14, also features North Vegas Mayor John Lee, venture capitalist Guy Nohra, and former Sen. Dean Heller, who Trump supported in 2018 after pressuring Heller to vote to repeal the 2010 health care law. Heller lost re-election that year by 5 percentage points.
In statements to the Las Vegas Sun, Lee said Trump “made the wrong decision” while Nohra said he would “work hard to earn every vote as I have promised." Heller’s campaign manager Jack Finn said Trump’s endorsement is “not going to change our approach one bit.”
Democrats used Trump’s decision to weigh in on the race as an opportunity to blast Lombardo.
“After months of flailing on the campaign trail and getting pummeled on the airwaves by his opponents, Joe Lombardo’s campaign is on life support and desperately called on the one person he claimed he wouldn't seek out,” Nevada Democratic Victory spokesperson Mallory Payne said in a statement. Payne was referring to Lombardo’s pushback on reporters’ questioning whether he would seek Trump’s endorsement.
Nevada is a top target for Republicans in November. President Joe Biden carried the state by just 2 points in 2020 after Hillary Clinton won the Silver State by the same margin in 2016.
Super PAC hits Vance on Ukraine war comments
A super PAC backing former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel is up with a new ad criticizing author J.D. Vance as "weak" on Ukraine because of past comments about his ambivalence to the war's outcome.
The ad quotes Vance saying "I gotta be honest with you, I don't really care what happens to Ukraine one way or another." The spot goes on to call Vance's comments "music to Putin's ears," evoking the state's Ukrainian population.
"Wrote a book trashing Ohioans as hillbillies, then sold his story to Hollywood. J.D. Vance, liberal elite, not for Ohio," the ad ends.
The clip comes from an interview with Steve Bannon, who was previously a top aide to former President Donald Trump. In it, Vance added that "I do care about the fact that in my community right now the leading cause of death among 18-45 year olds is Mexican fentanyl that’s coming across the southern border.”
Vance subsequently put out a statement calling "Russia’s assault on Ukraine is unquestionably a tragedy," and saying that America "must avoid blundering our way into the conflict there."
But the Republican's primary opponents have used Vance's comments against him — state Sen. Matt Dolan wrote in a subsequent op-ed that "The misguided and shameful notion that we, as Ohioans and Americans, shouldn’t care about what happens in Ukraine is wrong."
Poll: Wisconsin Senate Democratic primary in dead heat
A new poll of Wisconsin's Senate Democratic primary shows two candidates at the top of the field — Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry — but almost a majority of likely Democratic primary voters unsure of who they support.
Marquette University's poll found Barnes with support from 19 percent, with Lasry close behind at 16. State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski is at 7 percent and Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson with 5 percent. The margin of error for the poll, conducted between April 19-24 of 363 likely primary voters, is 6.6 percent.
The results represent a downtick in support for Barnes since Marquette's February poll — down from 23 percent. Lasry has seen a slight improvement from 13 percent in April, and Godlewski's support grew from 3 percent to 7 percent.
Lasry has spent markedly more than the the rest of the field on advertising: $5.6 million, per AdImpact. Godelwski has spent $1.6 million, while Barnes has spent just $94,000.
In the other big primary in the state, former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch leads the GOP gubernatorial primary with 32 percent, with military veteran Kevin Nicholson at 10 percent and state Assemblyman Tim Ramthun at 5 percent.
As far as voter enthusiasm ahead of November, Republicans and Democrats had similar levels of enthusiasm. Eighty-one percent of Republicans and 84 percent of Democrats said they were either very or somewhat enthusiastic to vote in November.