TheDC’s Political Roundup: Dispatches from Munich

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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This week’s Political Roundup comes to you from Munich, Germany, where we’ve spent the last few days at the DLDwomen conference talking about technology and women, and watching river surfing. Back stateside, the political machine has kept turning, so here are some of the highlights of this week in House and Senate races.

1) In the Wisconsin Senate Republican primary, Eric Hovde has become a real contender. Two new polls released this week found Hovde either leading or a close second to former Gov. Tommy Thompson, the longtime front-runner.

Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning polling firm, found Hovde edging out Thompson, 31 percent to 29 percent, while former Rep. Mark Neumann, initially seen as Thompson’s biggest competition, has fallen to 15 percent. State Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald is at nine percent.

Thompson has been the target of numerous attacks on his record; most notably, on comments that seem to lend support to the ideas belying the Affordable Care Act, shown in Club for Growth ads. PPP found Thompson’s popularity having declined significantly, in part because voters are beginning to see him as too liberal for this era of politics.

Hovde’s star, on the other hand, is rising. He now has a net favorability of 41, while Thompson’s — previously at 49 — has declined to 28.

The Marquette University Law School Poll found Thompson still leading with 35 percent, but with Hovde surging up in the polls to 23 percent. Last month, he was at 14 percent.

Pitted against Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin in the general election, Thompson is the better choice for now, leading Baldwin by four points, while Hovde loses to her by six.

Baldwin could prove to be a formidable opponent. She announced Thursday that she had raised over $2.22 million in the last fundraising quarter, leaving her with over $3 million cash on hand.

2) Three-and-a-half weeks after the primary, Rep. Charlie Rangel is finally the official Democratic nominee.

His opponent, State Sen. Adriano Espaillat conceded the race on Monday, and announced that he would drop the lawsuit he had filed claiming that the election results were inaccurate.

“I’m here to acknowledge that we came short two percent, I want to congratulate Congressman Charles B. Rangel for his victory and tell him that I look forward to working with him as we move forward,” Espaillat said Monday, according to Politicker.

He initially conceded the night of the election, but as the vote count continued, and the race became tighter and tighter, he came back fighting. In the past few weeks, he also filed a suit alleging voter suppression.

3) The Texas Senate Republican primary run-off is rapidly approaching, with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst facing off against former Solicitor General Ted Cruz, and the attacks are continuing on both sides.

Club for Growth made a $1.5 million TV and radio ad buy attacking Dewhurst as “big spending” and “tax raising.”. The television ad, entitled “Mud,” accuses Dewhurst of mudslinging — “desperately attacking Ted Cruz to try and distract from his own record,” in the words of Club President Chris Chocola.

The Dewhurst campaign is also on the attack, launching a web ad this week called “Ted Cruz: Timeline,” which attacks Cruz’ record by tracking it on a Facebook timeline.

Cruz, meanwhile, is drawing attention in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act for his previous support for Chief Justice John Roberts, who authored the decision, which many conservatives see as a betrayal.

The Houston Chronicle pointed out that the two both clerked for then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist, though not at the same time, and that Cruz has been a huge cheerleader for Roberts in the past.

When Roberts was nominated to the court by President George W. Bush, Cruz wrote a glowing piece in National Review in which he sung Roberts’s praises, calling him “brilliant,” one of “the very best lawyers in the country,” and predicting that “as a jurist, Judge Roberts’s approach will be that of his entire career: carefully, faithfully applying the Constitution and legal precedent.”

But when the decision came two weeks ago, Cruz called it an “abdication of responsibility.” Asked by the Houston Chronicle about Roberts’ authorship of the decision, Cruz called it “heartbreaking” and “shocking.”

Dewhurst has generally been considered the front-runner, but a Public Policy Polling poll released Thursday shows Cruz with a 49-44 advantage. An internal poll released by Dewhurst’s campaign early this week found Dewhurst leading 50 percent to Cruz’s 42 percent. But an internal poll conducted for the Cruz campaign last week found the former Solicitor General leading by 9 points.

4) We leave you with a fun fact that we learned at the DLDwomen conference: There are 4.2 billion toothbrushes in the world, and there are 4.8 billion mobile phones. Clearly, people have their priorities straight.

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