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Ellison’s Election Tip Sheet

Ellison Barber election tip sheet
• September 19, 2014 12:00 pm

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SENATE: KENTUCKY

Allison Lundergan Grimes is running a new ad in which she says she is "not Barack Obama," mocks Mitch McConnell’s gun skills and his Duke basketball ad, and shows her superiority as a skeet shooter—but she’s not actually shooting skeet.

The Daily Beast notes:

But the Kentucky Democrat shoots herself in the foot here, figuratively speaking: despite the ad’s title she’s not skeet shooting, as any true skeet aficionado would be able to tell. Skeet shooting involves two target-launching devices, one slightly above the ground, and a second ten feet off the ground. The devices are housed in small structures, called houses. In Grimes’ ad, one trap-shooting device is shown—no housing, and no second device across from it. At best, Grimes is informally shooting trap, which features only one target-launching device.

"By definition, it is not skeet," said the manager of the shotgun division at a gun range in Kentucky, who didn’t want to be identified due to the political nature of this story. "Skeet has two houses: a high house and a low house. You shoot a high house target, a low house target… Where people get this confused is that they’ll misuse the terms."

Worse things can happen, but this is a little embarrassing. If you’re going to make fun of someone else, rule number one, make sure you’re factually correct.

Grimes’ has run into awkward moments similar to this in the past.

In June, she ran an ad touting her coal credentials and attacking the administration’s restrictions on carbon emissions. The ad featured a European model dressed as a coal miner.

That ad, like this one, isn’t a game changer—but it is awkward and likely gives Republicans fodder to say she’s full of it.   

SENATE: LOUISANA 

Last Friday, Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu released the findings of an internal investigation that came after reports she used taxpayer funds to pay for campaign trips. The Friday news dump was also four days after the original deadline she set for herself.

The Times Picayune reports:

Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu on Friday released the findings of an internal investigation into her travel that found more than $33,700 in campaign flights were charged to her Senate account.

The report found 136 campaign functions were conducted during 43 trips paid for by the Senate office dating back to 2002.

Landrieu said in a release she reported the errors to the Senate Ethics Committee and fully repaid the Treasury with campaign funds.

"The review I ordered last month found these mistakes stemming from sloppy book keeping. I take full responsibility. They should have never happened, and I apologize for this," Landrieu said. "A new system has been established that has been successfully used by a number of senate offices to provide a safeguard from this happening in the future."

Campaign functions during one or two trips are a mistake. Numerous functions during 43 different trips, which were paid for by taxpayers, are not a mistake.

I know many congressional and senate staffers—they don't even eat a pretzel before double-checking that the host is not a lobbyist.

Ethics rules, campaign rules, all the rules are things that political offices, particularly ones as seasoned as Landrieu's, are incredibly paranoid about and offices drill them into the heads of interns and senior aides alike. Staffers know there are a lot of rules and they'd have a big problem if they break them, which is why most are overly cautious.

It's difficult to believe Landrieu's flights were merely sloppy bookkeeping—if they were, she has hired an egregiously incompetent staff. These are rules they are, and should be, very familiar with.

SENATE: COLORADO

Colorado is a race that most analysts say "leans Democrat," but it has become a bit of a surprise toss-up and it’s looking increasingly close. A recent Quinnipiac poll places Republican Rep. Corey Gardner 8 points ahead of Sen. Mark Udall.

Quinnipiac writes:

Colorado U.S. Sen. Mark Udall trails U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, his Republican challenger, 48 – 40 percent among likely voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Independent candidate Steve Shogan gets 8 percent.

With Shogan out of the race, Rep. Gardner leads 52 – 42 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. This survey of likely voters cannot be compared with earlier surveys of registered voters. […]

Independent voters go 42 percent for Gardner, 40 percent for Udall and 15 percent for Shogan. Republicans back Gardner over Udall 88 – 5 percent with 5 percent for Shogan. Democrats back Udall over Gardner 90 – 3 percent, with 2 percent for Shogan.

Shogan entered the race a bit late in April as an independent, but Gardner is the most favorable candidate amongst independent voters. Without Shogan in the race Gardner leads by a whopping 10 points.

That’s good news for Republicans, and so were the majority of polls this week.

Polls are finicky things and they’re not always accurate, but Republicans are consistently leading in the polls—and they don’t need a "wave" to take back the Senate. They just need six seats. Every poll, right now, tells us they’re teed up to get them.