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Off to the races: Sanford advances

Beth Reinhard: “Sen. Rand Paul threw his support behind legalizing the millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S., signaling his determination to expand his following beyond the tea party movement as he positions himself for a 2016 presidential campaign. Just two years ago, Paul was pushing to end birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants.”

More: “Paul’s speech was also noteworthy for its departure from his libertarian father’s legacy. Former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas took a hard-line stance against illegal immigration, demanding tighter border security; banning illegal immigrants from public schools, hospitals, and social services; and calling for an end to birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants. Last month, he called the bipartisan plan in the Senate a ‘bad deal.’”

NBC’s Michael O’Brien looks at how Paul and Marco Rubio are angling for the 2016 GOP spotlight: “On no issue is that more apparent than immigration.”

Here was one of Paul’s tougher anti-immigration ads in the 2008 campaign. Showing a man swimming, an announcer says today’s immigrants are different than yesterday’s: “Today, illegal immigrants violate our borders, overwhelm our hospitals, schools, and social services. Ron Paul wants border security now. Physically secure our border. No amnesty. No welfare to illegal aliens” (as video shows a white officer frisking a Hispanic male), “end birthright citizenship, no more student visas from terrorist nations, standing up for the rule of law – Ron Paul for president.”

Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele is going all 19th Century on Reince Priebus, threatening to beat him up: "Oh, no question, I would clean his clock. Just one knock on the head. It's done."

ARKANSAS: The Club for Growth release: “Club for Growth Action and the Senate Conservatives Fund today released the results of a series of polls conducted among likely voters in Arkansas’s 2014 U.S. Senate race. The results show that since Club for Growth Action began running a six-figure TV ad buy in Arkansas, support among Arkansans for Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) has plummeted.”

The club poll, conducted by a GOP firm, finds Rep. Tom Cotton with a 43%-35% lead over Mark Pryor.

FLORIDA: A Quinnipiac poll finds ex-Gov. Charlie Crist (D) leading Rick Scott (R) 50%-34%. (Even Alex Sink leads Scott 45%-34%). Crist has a 20-point advantage with independents over Scott.

KENTUCKY: “Democratic heavy hitters — including Bill Clinton — are quietly trying to woo a new candidate to jump into the race to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, even as actress Ashley Judd is taking steps toward launching a star-studded campaign of her own,” Manu Raju writes. “With fears growing in some Democratic quarters over Judd’s potential candidacy, some prominent Democrats in the Bluegrass State are beginning to set their sights on 34-year-old Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state. Among Grimes’s attributes: She lacks political baggage since she’s served barely a year in office, and she hails from a well-connected family influential in Kentucky Democratic politics. But it’s not at all certain if she’ll jump into the race.”

SOUTH CAROLINA: The AP: “Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford advanced Tuesday to a runoff in the Republican contest for an open congressional seat, taking a step toward reviving a political career that was derailed by an extramarital affair while he was governor. … With all precincts reporting, unofficial results show Sanford received about 37 percent of the vote in the southern coastal district. It was unclear who he would face in the April 2 GOP runoff. Former Charleston County councilman Curtis Bostic held a slim lead over state Sen. Larry Grooms for second place. But the margin is so narrow, less than one percent, that it will trigger an automatic recount.”

Here are the results from the South Carolina State Election Commission:

Sanford 36.92% (19,812 votes)
Bostic 13.32% (7,149)
Grooms 12.4% (6,656)
Turner 7.89% (4,235)
Patrick 7.04% (3,776)

What’s the issue, by the way, that Bostic is running on? His campaign website is StopSpending.com.

Only 30,000 were expected to turn out to vote, but 53,657 wound up voting. Still that was just “15 percent of 453,632 registered voters registered in the newly drawn district went to the polls,” the New York Times notes.

Elizabeth Colbert Busch got 96% of the vote on the Democratic side, but with just 15,776 votes, 4,000 fewer than Sanford in his crowded primary of 16 candidates.