TIME Election 2014

These Hail Mary Ads Show What Desperate Candidates Will Try

When candidates are headed for defeat, they put out some desperate ads

There’s a certain type of campaign ad that candidates hope they’ll never have to run. It typically airs in the final days before the elections, when the polls aren’t looking good and they decide to try for a Hail Mary pass to shake things up.

With the midterm elections just days away, these ads are surfacing now. Here’s a look at four long balls thrown by despairing candidates.

As the Texas gubernatorial race has slipped through her fingers, Democrat Wendy Davis reached for a new attack against Republican Greg Abbott. In a move that caused voters and pundits alike to shake their heads, she decided to criticize Abbott — who has used a wheelchair since a 1984 accident left him paralyzed — for not supporting the disabled.

Tom Corbett, the Republican governor of Pennsylvania, has long been the most likely incumbent to go down to defeat on Tuesday. So with the sense of a man with nothing to lose, he released an ad attacking Democrat Tom Wolf for supporting a hike in the income tax. That’s a pretty standard hit, but the visuals — chainsaws, demonic twins and evil clowns — are anything but routine.

In Virginia, Republican Ed Gillespie may have taken the Hail Mary metaphor literally. In a recent ad, he linked Democratic Senator Mark Warner to a recent push to force the Washington Redskins football team to change its name. The real chutzpah of the ad, though, comes when Gillespie argues that the fight, which Warner has mostly sat out, is a distraction from the real issues.

Not every Hail Mary ad is thrown by a candidate. In the Colorado Senate race between Democratic Senator Mark Udall and Republican Cory Gardner, NARAL Pro-Choice America tried a last-minute turnaround by arguing that a Gardner win would lead to the outlawing of birth control and a run on condoms.

And then there’s whatever the opposite of a Hail Mary pass is. (A screen pass?) Republican Senator Mitch McConnell is clearly feeling like he’s going to defeat Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes on Tuesday or he wouldn’t have spent valuable ad money and time on a goofy ad where he giggles and plays with puppies.

TIME 2014 Election

Thom Tillis Burdens Kay Hagan with Presidential Baggage in North Carolina Senate Debate

Kay Hagan, Thom Tills
Sen. Kay Hagan, left, D-N.C., and North Carolina Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis greet prior to a live televised debate at UNC-TV studios in Research Triangle Park, N.C. Gerry Broome—AP

“A vote for Senator Hagan is a vote for President Obama’s failed policies,” Tillis said.

Thom Tillis, the Republican senate candidate in North Carolina, kept to a simple message about his opponent Sen. Kay Hagan in the contest’s second debate Tuesday: “A vote for Senator Hagan is a vote for President Obama’s failed policies,” Tillis said.

With the trap set, Sen. Kay Hagan seemed to stumble into it. Asked to name an instance where she regretted a Congressional vote, after Tillis noted the Democrat has voted with Obama “96% of the time,” Hagan failed to come up with one. Tillis said this was proof that she was “proud” of voting with the President.

Like several Republican candidates across the country, Tillis has made Obama a central part of his messaging strategy in the final weeks of the campaign. He celebrated a recent speech by the President, who said last week at Northwestern University that “every single one” of his economic policies would be on the ballot this November, in his effort to align the Democrat with the unpopular Commander in Chief.

Hagan, who recent polls have shown has a slight lead over Tillis, argued that the policies her Republican opponent championed in the state legislature have hurt North Carolinians “100% of the time.” On top of her ongoing attacks on Tillis’ education and health care record, she noted Tuesday that she opposed a statewide ban on same-sex marriage, which the Speaker said he would continue defend in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision not to take up state challenges to the issue, thus expanding marriage equality in the U.S.

Moderator George Stephanopoulos of ABC News raised questions about many of the latest hot-button issues, including the Ebola outbreak, which has recently spread to the United States. Speaker Tillis said he would respond to the outbreak with a ban on travel. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he said, is “working hard, but I don’t know that they’re working smart.” Hagan said she was open to a “broad range” of tactics to address the outbreak. “The problem is if you isolate those countries, you’re not going to solve the problem,” Hagan said.

The night contained highs and lows for both candidates who have found themselves in one of the most closely watched races of this election cycle.

Hagan was able to give a clear answer when asked where she would take on her party’s leadership, saying she supported building the Keystone Pipeline. When asked about recent legislation to promote equal pay for women, Tillis struggled to explain to Hagan why he didn’t support it, before circling back to say he “absolutely think[s] that women should get equal pay for equal work.” Tillis also noted Hagan had missed a great deal of Armed Service committee hearings this year when talking about the threat of the Islamic State of Greater Iraq and Syria, though he confused the Senator’s committee assignment.

Instead of the Armed Services committee, he said Foreign Affairs.

 

 

TIME 2014 Election

Hawaii Democratic Senate Primary Finally Ends As Rep. Colleen Hanabusa Concedes

Colleen Hanabusa
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, left, and a group of supporters do some last minute campaigning near the polling place on Aug. 15, 2014, in Pahoa, Hawaii. Marco Garcia—AP

Hanabusa announced Tuesday she will not challenge the results of the Senate primary in court

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa will not challenge the results of the close primary election between her and Sen. Brian Schatz, a race that came to an end an entire week after the originally scheduled primary.

In a statement published by several media outlets in Hawaii, Hanabusa said ,”though I will not be challenging the results of this election, I remain very concerned about the public’s confidence and trust in our election process.”

“I ask former colleagues and friends in the Hawaii State Legislature to explore what is necessary to ensure the people that their vote truly counts,” the statement continues. “I heard from many who feel strongly that they were disenfranchised from the voting process this election and I stand ready to support any collaborative effort to have those voices heard,” Hanabusa says.

Late last Friday the Associated Press called the race for Schatz, who beat Hanabusa by 1,769 votes following a rare one-day vote in two precincts in the rural Puna district of the Big Island of Hawaii. The district was ravaged by Tropical Storm Iselle, which downed trees and caused widespread power outages that kept voters from making it to the polls on Aug. 9.

Before last week’s election, Hanabusa filed a legal request to delay the election by a week so residents of Puna could focus on recovering from the storm, but a Hawaii judge denied the request. In interviews following the election, Hanabusa hinted that she might challenge the election in court.

On Tuesday, Schatz issued a statement congratulating Rep. Hanabusa for “waging a tough and spirited battle.”

“This election has been extraordinary from beginning to end. It took heart, teamwork and a belief that together we are making a real difference for our state and our country,” Schatz’s statement reads. “Now it is time for us to unite as we move forward to the general election.”

The election has been one of the toughest Democratic primaries this election season, but Schatz is expected to win the general election come November. A Republican hasn’t won a Senate election in Hawaii since 1970. Schatz and many Democrats believe his progressive stance, particularly his support for expanding Social Security, have and will carry him to victory in the general election.

TIME 2014 Election

Kentucky Democrat Got Discounted Bus Rental from Dad, Report Says

A Politico report suggests Alison Lundergan Grimes' bus may be being rented at a rate below market value

Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic Senate candidate who hopes to unseat incumbent Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, came under fire on Tuesday after a report in Politico suggested her father may be renting out a 45-foot campaign bus to the candidate at a discounted price.

If true, the rented bus could spell trouble for Grimes with the Federal Election Commission. If the contribution was found to be in violation of federal law that prohibits accepting goods and services at prices below market value, her campaign would have to pay a hefty fine.

Politico’s analysis found that Grimes’s campaign paid about $456 a day for a bus used between last August and June owned by a company belonging to Jerry Lundergan, Grimes’ well-connected dad. Politico found four bus companies that typically charge between $1,500 and $2,000 a day to rent similar buses, and reported Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign paid about $2,200 a day to rent a similar bus earlier this summer.

In a statement sent to TIME on Tuesday, Grimes’ campaign lawyer Marc Elias denied the campaign had received a sweetheart deal for the bus. “The campaign obtained quotes for the rental cost of a comparable vehicle from other providers in the Kentucky and regional market, and arrived at a reasonable reimbursement cost. We have reviewed the campaign’s methodology and agree that it complies with the applicable rules.”

The McConnell campaign jumped at the opportunity to criticize Grimes over Politico‘s allegations. “The revelation that Alison Lundergan Grimes has potentially accepted large, illegal gifts and services from her father, Jerry Lundergan’s corporate interests is shocking and should set off warning bells for all Kentuckians concerned about ethics in public office,” McConnell’s campaign manager Jesse Benton said.

A Real Clear Politics analysis considers the Kentucky senate race a toss-up, with McConnell currently leading Grimes by 3 points.

TIME Election 2014

Democrats Out Fundraise Republicans in July

The DCCC and DSCC boast high fundraising totals for July

Both the Democratic House and Senate campaign committees say they had their best July ever, out-raising Republicans by millions with only a couple weeks left before the election. Democrats have a rocky road ahead of them this election, with tough races in at least nine states that could swing either way this November.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) raised $11.5 million in July, $3.5 million more than the National Republican Congressional Committee’s (NRCC) $8 million. The DCCC has $56.7 million on hand, while the NRCC has a reported $48 million on hand as of Monday.

The main driver of the DCCC’s success has been those alarming DCCC fundraising emails, which brought in $7 million in online donations in July. Democratic leaders including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have also been on a fundraising blitz, hosting and attending events around the country. President Obama set to attend his tenth DCCC event in Rhode Island later in August.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) also boasts similar fundraising results, raising $7.7 million this July. The DSCC has a reported $32 million on hand for the ongoing battle to maintain control of the Senate. The National Republican Senatorial Committee raised $5.5 million in July and has a reported $26.6 million on hand. With 46 seats likely to stay Republican next cycle and toss up elections in a handful of consistently red states, regardless of the end-of-summer fundraising boost, Democrats face a tough road ahead of November’s election.

TIME Election 2014

Sen. Brian Schatz Secures Primary Win in Hawaii

US Sen. Brian Schatz celebrates after defeating fellow Democrat Colleen Hanabusa to retain his senate seat on Aug. 15, 2014 in Hilo, Hawaii.
US Sen. Brian Schatz celebrates after defeating fellow Democrat Colleen Hanabusa to retain his senate seat on Aug. 15, 2014 in Hilo, Hawaii. Marco Garcia—AP

The incumbent won the Democratic primary by a little over 1,700 votes

Sen. Brian Schatz won the Hawaii Senate primary on Friday, following a rare one-day vote in a rural district.

The Associated Press declared a winner at 2:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, which was about 8:30 p.m. local time; polls closed at 7p.m. The Hawaii office of elections reported a close race, with Schatz beating Hanabusa by only 1,769 votes. Schatz outspent Hanabusa by $1.5 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and secured the support of both President Obama and the Democrats’ progressive faction, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

“This was obviously an extremely hard-fought race. But we’re gratified that the voters heard our message and recognized that I’ve been working hard for the people of Hawaii,” Schatz told the Associated Press on Friday.

Schatz’s win brings one of the nation’s most tense Senate primary races to a close nearly one week after the official primary election was held. Voters in the district of Puna on Hawaii’s Big Island who were prevented from casting ballots due to damage from a tropical storm were the deciding factor in the Senate race and both candidates focused their attention on the residents throughout the week.

In an interview with a local news station following the election, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa said she thought the influence of mainland groups had a huge impact on this election.

“When you have a lot of mainland interest coming in and they can pour in a lot of money—I think that did make a difference in this election,” Hanabusa told KHON2 News. But, she added, “the people still voted they way they wanted to vote.”

Hanabusa did not say whether she would challenge the results, which she said has been requested due to the election’s low turnout. Residents of Puna are still reeling from Tropical Storm Iselle—according to Hawaii Electric Light, some 3,800 customers are still without power.

The win also essentially secures the incumbent’s seat in Senate—a Republican hasn’t been elected to the Senate from Hawaii since 1970.

TIME Election 2014

Storm-Struck Hawaiians to Decide Senate Primary

Hawaii Primary
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa waves at drivers while campaigning for U.S. Senate in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 2014. Audrey McAvoy—AP

A special one-day election will decide whether Sen. Brian Schatz or Rep. Colleen Hanabusa secure the primary win in Hawaii

A pocket of voters in a remote area of Hawaii will cast the deciding ballots in one the country’s most tense Senate primary races during a one-day election on Friday.

About 6,800 eligible voters in the former hippie enclave Puna, a rural district in the easternmost area of the Big Island that is still reeling from Tropical Storm Iselle, essentially hold the fate of Democrats Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and Sen. Brian Schatz in their hands. Due to power outages and blocked roads, voters set to cast ballots at Keonepoko Elementary School and Hawaiian Paradise Community Center found their polling stations closed during last Saturday’s primary. About 1,500 voters from the area already sent in absentee ballots and will not be able to vote on Friday, according to Hawaii News Now.

Polls will only open at the two locations, Keonepoko Elementary School and Hawaiian Paradise Community Center, Friday from 7 a.m. until 6p.m. It’s a rare move, offering a handful of voters a lot of power and focusing an inordinate amount attention on the often-forgotten district, as many residents said in interviews with the New York Times.

As of Sunday’s count, Sen. Schatz was 1,635 votes ahead of Hanabussa and the election will likely swing his way following Friday’s vote, though neither camp had given up on trying to sway this handful of voters as it came down the wire. Both candidates traveled to the Puna district this week, distributing water, ice and food to affected residents. More than 6,000 people are still without power, the Hawaii Electric Light company said Thursday.

State lawmakers have called the decision to hold elections amid the recovery insensitive and Rep. Hanabusa filed a lawsuit earlier this week to have the election delayed. On Thursday, Circuit Court Judge Greg Nakamura denied the motion and the election resumed as planned on Friday morning.

In a statement following the judge’s decision, Schatz’s campaign manager Clay Schroers said Schatz “continues to focus his energies on helping the people of Puna to recover.”

Hanabusa’s camp noted that while their recovery efforts would continue, the focus on Friday would be on the election. “We will continue to distribute food, water, fruit and ice to those in need. But we need people to be aware that there is an election tomorrow,” said campaign spokesman Peter Boylan, according to the Associated Press. “This campaign is not over, and we will continue to work very hard to earn every vote.”

Outside progressive groups poured money into helping Schatz, appointed by now-ousted Gov. Neil Abercrombie following the death of longtime Sen. Daniel Inoyue, to help him keep the seat. On the other hand, Inoyue loyalists have bolstered support for Hanabussa, who the late Senator requested to succeed him on his deathbed. Regardless of who wins on Friday, a Democrat is projected to secure the seat in the Senate—the last time a Republican was elected to the Senate from Hawaii was Sen. Hiram Fong in 1970.

TIME 2014 Election

Senate Democrats Launch $9-Million Ad Buy in North Carolina

Largest ad campaign so far for Democrats in key Senate race

Democrats started a large advertising buy in North Carolina’s contested Senate race on Wednesday with a new ad criticizing Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis’ record in the legislature.

The $9-million buy from the Senate Democrats’ campaign committee is the group’s largest so far this year. Tillis is challenging Democratic incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan in a race that could help decide which party controls the Senate next year.

The new 30-second titled in “Black and White” says Tillis cut funds from the state’s public schools while giving tax breaks to “yacht and jet owners.” The Republican-led North Carolina state legislature in 2013 cut education spending over the next two years by nearly $500 million dollars.

“North Carolina deserves better than Speaker Tillis and over the next three months the DSCC will continue to highlight just how wrong Speaker Tillis is for North Carolina,” said Justin Barasky, a spokesman at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

The ad comes one day after Hagan’s campaign attacked Tillis’ education agenda, calling it “irresponsible” and “destructive” in large part due to Tillis’ proposal to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education.

“After doing so much damage in Raleigh, promising to eliminate the Department of Education as his first action is just one more reason Speaker Tillis has the wrong priorities,” Hagan said.

Tillis has called for the elimination of the Department of Education, but the Tillis camp, McClatchy reports, said he would preserve financial aid and assistance to schools and thinks there is room for the department to work better with states and be more efficient. Tillis has also been critical of Hagan’s record in Congress, saying she has introduced “zero bills that have become law.”

“Kay Hagan is one of the most ineffective senators in North Carolina’s history, having failed to sponsor a single bill that became law during her six years in Washington,” said Tillis’ communications director Daniel Keylin in a statement last week. “Instead of working across the aisle to pass laws benefitting North Carolina families, Hagan has put her liberal special interest allies first, rubber-stamping President Obama’s failed partisan agenda 95 percent of the time.”

The North Carolina Senate race is one of seven races deemed toss-ups by the Cook Political Report.

 

TIME Election 2014

Republican Group Rolls Out Fake News Websites

The NRCC has released a line of websites to attack Democrats with the look and feel of local news sites

The National Republican Congressional Committee is getting into the local news business — at least until the midterm elections are over.

The NRCC has released a line of websites to attack Democratic candidates that have the look and feel of local news websites. The sites have names like “Central Valley Update” and “Augusta Update.” A box at the bottom of the page indicates the website is paid for by the NRCC. Some two dozen of the sites are now live.

“This is a new and effective way to disseminate information to voters who are interested in learning the truth about these Democratic candidates,” NRCC spokesperson Andrea Bozek said of the new line of sites. “While Democrats would rather hide their candidates and their reckless agenda, we believe voters deserve to know the facts.” Bozek added that the websites are not illegal.

The group drew criticism earlier this year over websites, including fundraising portals that confused some voters, which spoofed the websites of Democratic candidates.

The new websites are being paid for and coordinated by the NRCC’s independent expenditure arm, which can raise unlimited sums of money but is not permitted to coordinate with candidates’ campaigns.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the NRCC’s Democratic counterpart, called the websites deceptive.

“House Republicans’ campaign strategy to overcome their own historic unpopularity is to resort to deception—again,” DCCC spokesperson Josh Schwerin told TIME.

TIME Election 2014

Congresswoman Waters Urges Blacks to Vote in This Year’s Midterms

Maxine Waters
U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) marches in the 29th annual Kingdom Day Parade on January 20, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. David McNew—Getty Images

Speaking at the 20th anniversary Essence Music Festival in New Orleans

Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters urged African Americans on Saturday to get out to the polls in November for the sake of President Barack Obama’s legacy. The representative from California also stressed the historic significance of voting in the African American community during a year when the nation is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Midterm elections are just as important as presidential elections,” Waters said during a speech at the Essence Music Festival. “Think about your ancestors; think about their sacrifice. Think about all of those who gave their lives. Get to the polls.”

African American voters turned out at the polls in record numbers in 2008 and 2012. In 2012, 66.2% of eligible black Americans voted, outnumbering white voters for the first time in history. And black women, who are the target audience of the Essence festival, were primarily responsible for that surge. Essence is owned by TIME parent company Time Inc.

But 2014 is a midterm year, during which non-white voters often turn out in lower rates. And without a big name like Barack Obama up for election, many Democrats worry black turnout will revert back to their typically low levels this November, hurting their chances at the polls.

Waters also said the African American community’s legislative goals are at risk of dying in Congress if Republicans gain control of the Senate on top of the House of Representatives. Fighting for issues like the Voting Rights Act, raising the minimum wage, and improving health care, Waters said, should drive African American voters to the polls.

“We’ve got a lot at stake,” Waters said. “You have got to realize you don’t just vote in a presidential election. We cannot get a bill through. We cannot get anything done as long as [Republicans] are in the majority.”

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