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First thoughts: White House tries to snap losing streak

White House hopes to snap a losing streak in today’s Bennet-vs.-Romanoff primary in CO… Also in the state, it’s Norton vs. Buck, as well as McInnis vs. Maes… In CT, it’s Lamont vs. Malloy in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, and it’s Fedele vs. Foley in the GOP race for governor… In MN, it’s Dayton vs. Kelliher… And in GA, it’s Handel vs. Deal… Haley Barbour drops mail in IA… The House votes on the $26 billion in state aid this afternoon… Profiling CO-4… And Bill Clinton stumps for Sestak.


*** White House tries to snap a losing streak: Since winning the White House, President Obama hasn’t experienced much success when he’s dipped his toes into the electoral waters. Last year, the two Democrats he campaigned for, Jon Corzine in New Jersey and Creigh Deeds in Virginia, both lost. In January, another Democrat he tried to save in Massachusetts’ special Senate election, Martha Coakley, met a similar fate. And in May, the Democrat he was backing in Pennsylvania’s Senate primary, Arlen Specter, went down to defeat. (Even when the White House tried to distance itself from a Democrat it thought was about lose, Blanche Lincoln, she pulled off the upset and won.) Individually, each of these losses was explainable and not really a White House responsibility. Still…

*** Bennet vs. Romanoff: That’s why today’s Democratic Senate primary in Colorado between incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (whom Obama has endorsed) and former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (whom Bill Clinton has endorsed) is important for the White House. Simply put, they NEED a win, and that’s why Obama has campaigned for Bennet and why he called into a tele-town hall for the senator last week just days after polling showed Romanoff was surging. The other reasons why the White House and the DSCC want Bennet to win is because he has more money and organization -- Romanoff, after all, had to sell his house to finance his campaign -- and because a Romanoff win would allow the Darrell Issas of the world to resuscitate the White-House-offered-Romanoff-a-job-to-keep-him-out-of-the-race storyline.

*** Norton vs. Buck and McInnis vs. Maes: But perhaps the best -- and most competitive -- Senate primary in Colorado today isn’t on the Democratic side. Instead, it’s the GOP race between establishment favorite Jane Norton and opponent Ken Buck. The C.W. is that the race is now even, after a series of gaffes by Buck (like saying that Coloradoans should vote for him because he doesn’t wear high heels). The party in DC wants Norton and sees her as the more electable candidate and the one most prepared for the fall campaign. Buck, like Romanoff, is playing the role of the insurgent. The other Republican primary in Colorado to watch is the gubernatorial contest between former front-runner Scott McInnis, who’s been plagued by a plagiarism scandal, and Dan Maes, who has warned that programs boosting bicycle riding are a threat to freedom. Privately, we’re hearing that Republicans want McInnis, so they could potentially switch horses to find a stronger candidate to face Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (D) in the fall; a Maes victory dashes those smoke-filled-room plans. Most balloting in Colorado is done by mail, and those ballots must be turned in by 9:00 pm ET.

*** Lamont vs. Malloy and Fedele vs. Foley: The other states holding key contests today are Connecticut, Minnesota, and Georgia. While Linda McMahon’s campaign is receiving much of the national attention in Connecticut, she’s expected to cruise to victory in the primary. But the real competitive races are the ones for governor -- the Dem contest between 2006 Senate nominee Ned Lamont and former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy, and the GOP primary between (among others) former Bush ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley and Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele. A final Quinnipiac poll showed Lamont at 45% and Malloy at 42% among likely primary voters, while it had Fedele at 38% and Foley at 30%. Polls in Connecticut close at 8:00 pm ET.

*** Dayton vs. Kelliher and Handel vs. Deal: Meanwhile, the Democratic gubernatorial primary in Minnesota -- featuring former Sen. Mark Dayton and state House speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher -- is a big test for the new leadership at Emily’s List, which is backing Kelliher. The organization under its previous leadership had a terrible track record in primaries, but a wholesale change in staff and philosophy has since taken place. A Kelliher victory would be a BIG feather in the cap of the new team. That said, Dayton has spent an ENORMOUS amount of his own money so it won't be easy for Kelliher. The winner of the Democratic field, which also features former state House leader Matt Entenza, will take on presumptive GOP nominee Tom Emmer. In Georgia, there’s the gubernatorial run-off between former Secretary of State Karen Handel (whom Palin campaigned for yesterday) and former Rep. Nathan Deal. Polls in Georgia close at 7:00 pm ET, and they close at 9:00 pm ET in Minnesota. *** CORRECTION *** We said above that Emily's List has had a terrible track record in primaries. That is not correct; we should have said it has had a terrible track record in some key general election contests.

*** Barbour drops mail in … Iowa: Politico’s Martin reports that Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, is dropping mail introducing himself to Iowa Republicans. “The piece encourages recipients to sign up for updates on Barbour’s website, a means of building a list. The governor is planning to raise money later this year in Iowa for GOP gubernatorial candidate Terry Branstad and, officially, the piece is only aimed at 2010. ‘We can't wait until 2012 to start taking our country back,’ Barbour writes on the mailer. ‘We need to elect conservative governors and members of Congress in 2010.’” You can look at the emerging GOP 2012 field this way: the establishment (Romney, Barbour), the new faces (Pawlenty, Daniels, Thune), the evangelicals (Huckabee and Santorum), and the cable TV personas (Palin and Gingrich). The Republican who is best able to own two or three of these categories will probably be your 2012 Republican nominee.

*** The House returns: Beyond today’s primaries and speculation about 2012, the House -- after coming back from its interrupted recess -- today votes on the $26 billion in state aid that the Senate passed last week. Per NBC’s Luke Russert, the vote is slated to occur between 1:00 pm ET and 3:00 pm ET. After the likely passage, the legislation will go to President Obama’s desk for his signature.

*** 75 House races to watch: CO-4: The Democratic candidate in this race will be one-term incumbent Betsy Markey, and her GOP opponent will be state Rep. Cory Gardner. McCain grabbed 50% of the vote in this district in ’08, and Bush got 58% in ’04. As of July 21, Markey had $1.5 million in the bank, and Gardner had $734,000. Markey voted for the stimulus, cap-and-trade, and health care. Cook rates the race as a Toss Up, while Rothenberg has it Lean Republican.

*** More midterm news: An American Crossroads poll, conducted by GOP pollster Glen Bolger, shows GOP candidates on in 13 key Senate contests leading their Democratic opponents by a combined 47%-39% margin… In Kentucky, the Paul campaign has threatened legal action against GQ, Greg Sargent reports (but the campaign has yet to deny what’s in the GQ article)… And in Pennsylvania, Bill Clinton today stumps for Joe Sestak.

Countdown to WA and WY primaries: 7 days
Countdown to AK, AZ, FL, and VT primaries: 14 days
Countdown to Election Day 2010: 84 days

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