By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
- TOM STEYER’S GAME PLAN: Billionaire Tom Steyer’s super PAC has outlined its plans for the 2014 elections, ABC’s RICK KLEIN reports. $100 million spread across seven states: Senate races in Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, and New Hampshire, and governor’s races in Florida, Maine, and Pennsylvania. NextGen Climate Action is planning to frame the debate in those races along moral lines, tying Republicans to Big Oil interests while making a proactive case that climate change is hurting families now. The goal is to move up the timeline where it’s likely that climate change will be a voting issue – or, at least, a voting issue in this particular direction. Two notable things about the races: Steyer’s group isn’t attacking any Democrats on climate change. And it’s only playing in races where the political ground is fertile; it’s possible that Democrats win all seven races on the list, with our without Steyer’s millions. The clear message: They want to be able to show they can win.
- MORE DEETS: Chris Lehane, the Democratic strategist who’s leading the effort, told reporters that NextGen’s research suggests a particular ability to appeal to millennials, moms, Latinos, and black voters on climate issues. According to KLEIN, they’ll do it not with broad or abstract or remote concepts, but hyper-local ones. It won’t be about cap-and-trade or even polar bears and butterflies, but issues like flood insurance, fracking, the impact on family farms, clean water, and tourism. Lehane called it a “total campaign” with paid and free media and a big ground game. These are the priority races, but “Could this map grow? Sure,” said Lehane. Steyer himself will be traveling to many of these states above, and it looks as if he’s prepared to be the public face of these efforts.
14 FOR 14: THE MIDTERM MINUTE
ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON: What might be most surprising today is how close Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s race is getting against Democratic challenger Mary Burke, who appears to be gaining ground in the Dairyland according to a new poll from the Marquette Law School. Walker and Burke are tied at 46 percent support among registered voters. The incumbent Walker has a statistically insignificant 48-45 edge among likely voters, which is within the poll’s 3.5 percent margin of error. Walker, who could be buoyed into a 2016 presidential campaign with his potential third gubernatorial victory in four years, led by seven points in March. “These results show that the election outcome can change depending on turnout as both parties seek to mobilize their supporters,” Charles Franklin, professor of law and public policy and director of the Marquette Law School Poll, said.
ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: Will Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes debate? After yesterday, there seems to be no clear answer. McConnell made the first move challenging Grimes to three debates. He sent her a letter inviting her to participate in three tradition Lincoln-Douglas style debates, the first before the fourth of July. Lincoln-Douglas debates are moderated by a single timekeeper and usually include opening remarks and a series of back and forth rebuttals. “Kentucky voters will get their fill of campaign ads and scripted events this year but three Lincoln-Douglas style debates will provide an excellent format to evaluate our true views on the issues,” McConnell wrote in the letter. Soon after a local station offered to host the debates and a first date of June 21st was suggested. It looked like there may be some movement, but would Grimes agree? Her campaign manager Jonathan Hurst responded that McConnell was “behind” Grimes and she had already “welcomed the opportunity” to debate and their campaign “stands ready to discuss details.” But, there was no agreement or even a yes, instead the statement went on to say “Kentuckians don’t need gimmicks and games” and asked McConnell to keep out “special interest money.” Of course, there will be a lot of money, including special interest money, on both sides, but what does that have to do with debating? In the end there will be debates between the two, but even one Lincoln-Douglas style debate? It doesn’t look like something the Grimes camp will say yes to.
IN THE NOTE’S INBOX
BACK TO 80′s: AMERICAN BRIDGE RELEASES FLASHBACK KOCH VIDEO. Conservative billionaire David Koch ran for Vice President on the 1980 Libertarian ticket, and the Democratic super PAC American Bridge 21st Century is reminding everyone about that moment in history in a new video out today. It’s part of the group’s RealKochFacts.com project. “The 1980 Koch-Clark platform was beyond radical and self-serving, calling for abolishing all minimum wage laws, slashing Medicare, removing environmental protections, and dismantling Social Security, which they referred to as ‘the most serious threat to the future stability of our society next to the threat of nuclear war,’” American Bridge communications director Gwen Rocco said in a statement. “More than 30 years later, the Koch agenda has barely budged, and Koch-funded groups like Americans for Prosperity and the candidates they support fall in lockstep with many of these extreme positions.” WATCH: http://youtu.be/jRnNJ9lUBMg
with ABC’s ALINA KLEINEIDAM
MITCH McCONNELL EMBRACES OLD ENEMIES AS FRIENDS. Sen. Mitch McConnell was all smiles yesterday: Not only because of his Republican primary victory in Kentucky, but because of a string of about-face endorsements from conservative groups intent on destroying him, according to ABC’s JEFF ZELENY. “I’m happy to have them on board,” McConnell said dryly, standing just off the floor of the Senate, where he hopes to become majority leader in November if Republicans pick up six seats and control of the Senate. He has a tough race on his hands for the next six months. But at least he’s back to fighting a Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, rather than battling a GOP civil war that has consumed his party in the last two election cycles. “What you see all across the country this year is two things,” McConnell said. “No. 1, we want to nominate candidates who can actually win in November. And No. 2, everybody wants to win.” VIDEO: http://abcn.ws/1h9q1n0
–NOTED: MCCONNELL’S BIG WIN GIVES CLUES TO DEM OPPONENT. The Kentucky Senate race, likely to be the hottest — and possibly tightest — race in the country, has officially begun now that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes emerged as easy winners in Tuesday’s primaries, ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE notes. Grimes was virtually unopposed while McConnell crushed his opponent Matt Bevin, beating him by about 25 points. But the numbers reveal more when you dive in. Results show that 51,000 more Democrats went to the polls Tuesday, and Grimes got about 95,000 more votes than McConnell, who had to split the Republican vote with Bevin. Even though Kentucky is seen as a red state, Democrats have a 54 percent registration advantage to 39 percent for registered Republicans. http://abcn.ws/1kphjW5
OBAMA ON ALLEGATIONS OF VA MISCONDUCT: ‘I WILL NOT STAND FOR IT.’ President Obama yesterday said he “will not stand” for misconduct at the Veterans Affairs Department and vowed that those responsible for allegedly covering up long delays in veteran care would be held accountable if the charges prove to be true, ABC’s MARY BRUCE notes. “It is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and I will not tolerate it, period,” Obama told reporters at the White House. The president’s comments came just moments after he met in the Oval Office with embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to receive an update on the allegations and investigation. They were joined by Rob Nabors, Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff, who has been assigned to assist with the review of the agency. The president announced he expects preliminary results of Shinseki and Nabors’ review next week. http://abcn.ws/1h8kvkp
U.S. SENDS DRONE, 80 TROOPS TO CHAD FOR MISSING SCHOOLGIRLS SEARCH. The United States is sending 80 military personnel and one unarmed Predator reconnaissance aircraft to Chad as part of a growing effort to find the more than 275 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamic extremists a month ago, ABC’S LUIS MARTINEZ and DANA HUGHES note. The unmanned reconnaissance aircraft will join similar aircraft based in Niger that have been participating in the search for the last week. The deployment to Chad was revealed in a War Powers Act notification letter sent Wednesday to Speaker of the House John Boehner by President Obama. According to the letter, “approximately 80 U.S. Armed Forces personnel have deployed to Chad as part of the U.S. efforts to locate and support the safe return of over 200 schoolgirls who are reported to have been kidnapped in Nigeria. ” http://abcn.ws/1nfLC5b
PHARRELL, IRANIAN PRESIDENT REACT TO TEHRAN ‘HAPPY’ ARRESTS. Singer Pharrell Williams and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani both took to Twitter to react to the news that six young Iranians were arrested after they posted a video of themselves last month dancing to Pharrell’s hit song “Happy,” ABC’s ALI WEINBERG reports. Pharrell linked to a New York Times story on the six “Happy in Tehran” dancers, who were forced to appear on state television Tuesday to repent what they had done. And Rouhani, who was elected president last year on a platform of moderation and reform, and who has decried Internet censorship, responded yesterday by posting an excerpt of his June 2013 victory speech. http://abcn.ws/1of1wtw
WILL HILLARY CLINTON BENEFIT FROM DEMOCRATS ON BEGHAZI COMMITTEE? Is it better for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Democrats have decided against boycotting the new House investigation of the Benghazi attacks? Several Democrats had urged House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to leave the slots empty, saying it would be unwise to lend an air of legitimacy to an investigation they have derided as a political witch hunt. But others, particularly those close to Clinton, believed that having Democratic participation on the panel is the only way to ensure both sides of the story will be told, according to ABC’s JEFF ZELENY and JOHN PARKINSON. Pelosi appointed Reps. Elijah Cummings, Adam Smith, Adam Schiff, Linda Sanchez, and Tammy Duckworth to represent Democrats on the exclusive panel. http://abcn.ws/1kpw8bg
WHO’S TEACHING FIRST DAUGHTER MALIA OBAMA HOW TO DRIVE? One of the first daughters is about to get behind the wheel. “One child is going to be driving this summer,” first lady Michelle Obama said of her daughter Malia’s upcoming milestone in an interview with “Access Hollywood” Tuesday. “Look out,” she joked. Seeing a teenager with the key in the ignition is always a little scary for parents. But a first daughter’s first drive comes with its own set of challenges. The White House, however, have been a little sketchy on its plans. Here’s ABC’s ERIN DOOLEY’s roundup of what we know: http://abcn.ws/1lQPNPs
ASTRONOMERS TO CONGRESS: ET LIKELY EXISTS. Two top astronomers told Congress yesterday that it would be “bizarre if we are alone” and asked for continued funding to detect extraterrestrial life, ABC’s ALINA KLEINEIDAM reports. Dan Werthimer, director of the SETI Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley (SETI is short of “Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence”) also told the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology that he thinks the possibility of microbial life on other planets is close to 100 percent. Werthimer and his colleague Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute were on Capitol Hill to discuss the need for continued funding for the search for life in the universe. And they were bullish about the prospects that there is life in outer space. “It would be bizarre if we are alone,” Werthimer told the committee. http://abcn.ws/1sVDS5q
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
NATIONAL DEFENSE LEADERS ISSUE CALL TO REFORM CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. More than 60 experts signed an ad in The Wall Street Journal yesterday urging Congress to streamline oversight of homeland security. The push is being coordinated by the Annenberg Public Policy Center and the University of Pennsylvania and the Aspen Institute. The experts recommend that Congress “cut the number of committees overseeing the Department of Homeland Security and consolidate primary oversight under one committee in the House and one in the Senate with coordinated jurisdiction.” Among the bipartisan group are the three past Secretaries of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano; 9/11 Commission members, including chairman Thomas Kean and vice-chairman Lee Hamilton; former heads of the CIA, FBI, NSA and Joint Chiefs; members of Congress and advisors to Presidents. MORE ABOUT THE EFFORT: http://www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/dhs/
@KYTrey: Excited to announce that I have been named President/CEO of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Read more: http://www.nkychamber.com/Blog/News/Archives/2014/05/Northern-Kentucky-Chamber-of-Commerce-Names-Trey-Grayson-as-its-New-
@OKnox: White House confirms secret Senator national security meeting on Tues. Says was “informal discussion.” http://is.gd/tJOdZz
@petesouza: A young girl hands the President a US flag during his walk to DOI yesterday; he later gave the girl a WH souvenir pic.twitter.com/3cnOHydtbc