TheDC’s Political Roundup: Eating ‘world famous’ hot dogs with Maine’s Angus King

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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This week’s Political Roundup looks at two of the most contentious Republican primaries coming up in the next month — Texas and Wisconsin. Also, a new take on the hot dog eating contest.

1) Maine Senate

Eating a hot dog is easy. But if you want to eat a hot dog with Angus King, then brace yourself for a very labor-intensive process.

The independent former Maine governor and current Senate candidate is holding a contest where four lucky winners will get the chance to eat a hot dog at Simones’ in Lewiston, where, for all of us non-Mainers who were unaware, the hot dogs are apparently “world famous.” Sounds like fun to us.

But, as The Crash Report pointed out, read through the contest rules (a four-page document) and you’ll discover that by donating money to enter the contest. you’re voluntarily submitting to a background check.

“Angus 2012 may, at its option, conduct a background check on each potential winner and his or her guest. Angus 2012 reserves the right to disqualify any person from receiving any prize based on such background check if Angus 2012 determines, in its sole discretion that awarding any prize to such potential winner could result in a safety or security risk to any person or persons or could result in the disruption of any event associated with the promotion,” the rules state.

The King campaign did not respond to questions as to whether this is a standard legal form, or what the reasoning behind the background check was.

Republican Charlie Summers is trying to raise money off of the King campaign’s thoroughness, saying that he is suspicious of “regular folk,” but not of donors in Washington, D.C., where he attended a fundraiser on Wednesday.

“Now, while the people of Maine are struggling, worrying about the economy and wondering if they can make their mortgage payments, Angus King is hobnobbing with big dollar Washington lobbyists,” said a fundraising email signed by campaign manager Lance Dutson.

“And,” it continues, “when Mainers are worrying about how to pay their next grocery bill, Angus King is making them go through a four-page application complete with a background check just to eat a hot dog with him.”

“If you want to sit down and have a hot dog with Charlie Summers,” Dutson added, “give me a call and we’ll make it happen.”

2) Texas Senate

With just 10 days until former Solicitor General Ted Cruz and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst face off in a primary runoff, the wind appears to have shifted in Cruz’s favor. A poll released last Friday upended the conventional wisdom and found Cruz leading Dewhurst, and it was revealed that he raised $200,000 more than the lieutenant governor during May and June.

Public Policy Polling has Cruz at 49 percent, with Dewhurst trailing at 44 percent. Dewhurst was generally considered to be the front-runner. Independently wealthy, he has the money to bolster his campaign funds as necessary, and began the run-off with an edge, having led in the original primary race – though he did not get the 50 percent necessary to avoid a runoff.

The two faced off in a debate on Tuesday, of which the Houston Chronicle editorial page named Cruz the winner. After, however, Dewhurst announced the endorsement of Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, who came in third in the primary.

The ads being run by both campaigns continue to be very nasty. Dewhurst’s latest round of ads have attacked Cruz for his legal representation of a man named Robert Mericle, who the Dewhurst campaign refers to as a “child-exploiting felon.”Mericle was convicted of bribing justices to provide rulings that would ensure a “high occupancy rate” for two juvenile detention centers built by Mericle’s company. He has also been attacking Cruz as a sleazy lawyer who would “fit right in” to Washington’s “corruption.”

Cruz has continued to attack Dewhurst’s conservative credentials.

3) Wisconsin Senate primary

It’s open season on Eric Hovde in Wisconsin.

With polls showing Hovde gaining momentum and moving toward the top of the pack, his opponents have gone on the attack and newspapers have started digging into his background.

Last week, the Club for Growth, which is supporting Mark Neumann in the primary, began including Hovde in the attack ads it has heretofore been aiming only at Thompson. Polls last week showed Neumann having dropped to a distant third behind Hovde.

The group announced a new TV ad campaign that compares Hovde and Thompson’s record and rhetoric on taxes, concluding the both are abysmal: “On tax hikes, Hovde’s like Thompson — only worse.”

The Club also hit him on a $500 donation he made to Democratic former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle.

The Hovde campaign pushed back, telling The Daily Caller that the Club for Growth was putting the relationship that several staffers have with Neumann – they were former Neumann staffers – over the club’s professed ideological principles.

“You know, I thought the Club for Growth was supposed to be about the philosophy instead of personal relationships,” Hovde told TheDC in a phone interview, “but that’s all it’s come down to.”

He also responded with an ad going after Neumann’s record, including his votes while in Congress to raise the debt ceiling and his attacks on Gov. Scott Walker during the gubernatorial primary.

The club’s response to Hovde: “Welcome to the NFL!”

But with the spotlight comes scrutiny from the press, and on Thursday the Associated Press reported that a realty firm owned by Hovde had been receiving just over $2,000 a year in subsidies for tobacco farms, amounting to $8,000 in total funds from the government. Hovde said he had been unaware of the subsidies until he was contacted by reporters, and told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he would end those payments. He added that if elected, he would work to get rid of the subsidy program.

The scrutiny may provide some relief for Thompson, who has borne the brunt of the attacks from Club for Growth. A Public Policy Polling poll released last week suggested the hits were taking their toll, putting a dent in his popularity with likely Republican primary voters.

Hovde, Thompson, Neumann and State Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald face off for the chance to vie for retiring Sen. Herb Kohl’s seat in on August 14.

Also, we missed this a couple weeks ago, but we feel it’s crucial knowledge about the race: According to the Journal Sentinel, Mark Neumann is Wisconsin’s Masskrugstemmen champion. We won’t deprive of you of the joy of finding out what that is.

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