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Tuesday’s primary test: How real is the ‘Cantor Effect’?

BY Domenico Montanaro, Terence Burlij, Rachel Wellford and Simone Pathe  June 24, 2014 at 9:14 AM EST
A young supporter of Sen. Thad Cochran waves American flags during a campaign rally at the Mississippi War Memorial Building Monday in Jackson. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A young supporter of Sen. Thad Cochran waves American flags during a campaign rally at the Mississippi War Memorial Building Monday in Jackson. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • Mississippi Senate GOP runoff headlines Primary Day
  • Other races to watch include Democratic gubernatorial primary in Maryland and Senate GOP primary in Oklahoma
  • Biden touts his working-class roots at White House event
  • New CBS News/New York Times poll shows low marks for Obama’s handling of foreign policy

Primary Day: In the last major primary day for a month, voters in seven states head to the polls Tuesday (in order of poll close time) — South Carolina (7 p.m. ET); Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma (8 p.m. ET); Colorado, New York (9 p.m. ET), and Utah (10 p.m. ET). The next big election day is July 22 with the Georgia Republican Senate runoff. The marquee race Tuesday is the Republican Senate primary runoff in Mississippi between Thad Cochran and tea party challenger Chris McDaniel, a state senator. Cochran’s narrow path to victory, his team believes, is through expanding the electorate by reaching out to black voters and Democrats by warning about McDaniel’s policy positions. McDaniel is counting on his same voters showing up as the June 3 primary, which the Cochran team doesn’t doubt will happen. But turnout has not INCREASED in a Senate runoff from a primary since 1984. Establishment Republicans have been warning that McDaniel is too extreme because of his past controversial comments as a radio host. Well, in the final day of campaigning, Cochran’s campaign went up with an ad stringing together some of his more controversial remarks.

Other races to watch: In Maryland, the next governor will likely be decided today in the Democratic primary. The favorite to win the heated primary is Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who faces off against state Attorney General Doug Gansler. With Deval Patrick’s retirement as governor in Massachusetts, Brown would become the only black governor in the country if he wins. We’re also watching to see if the “Cantor Effect” plays out in any of the House races here, with several challengers hoping it does. … In Oklahoma, it’s the open Republican Senate primary. Does either Rep. James Lankford or state House Speaker T.W. Shannon get a majority and avoid an Aug. 26 runoff? Most believe neither will, but it’s Lankford with the momentum. … In Colorado, we’ll find out the Republican nominee for governor after a four-way race pitting ex-Reps. Bob Beauprez and Tom Tancredo against each other as well as Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler and former state Sen. Mike Kopp. Republicans are none-too-pleased with immigration hard-liner Tancredo’s bid. They’ll face off against Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper, who is favored but vulnerable. Also, the Senate race between incumbent Democrat Mark Udall and Republican Rep. Cory Gardner officially kicks off. And does Ken Buck make a comeback? The failed 2010 Republican Senate nominee is running to replace Gardner in the House in this heavily Republican district. … In New York, we’re watching the fates of two incumbents — Republican Richard Hanna and Democrat Charlie Rangel. … In Utah, Mia Love is a shoo-in for the Republican nomination for the 4th Congressional District. She will likely become the GOP’s first black woman elected to Congress in history.

Poor guy — Biden says he’s ‘really fortunate’: Despite wearing a “mildly expensive suit” and declaring he “makes a lot of money as vice president,” Joe Biden said Monday he can still relate to the struggles of working families. Speaking at the first-ever White House summit on working families, Biden called himself “the poorest man in Congress” and doesn’t “own a single stock or bond” or have any savings accounts. (Biden’s financial disclosure forms show he and his wife, Jill, do have savings accounts, but they all have less than $15,000 in them.) Still, the vice president noted that he has “a great pension” and “good salary,” contrasting his position with others he grew up with in Scranton, Pa. “Sometimes we talk about this stuff about struggle. My struggle, my God, compared to where I grew up and the way people are trying to go through things now … I’ve been really, really fortunate.” The comments from Biden just so happen to come as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has struggled answering questions about her own wealth on her whirlwind book tour, from saying she and her husband were “dead broke” after leaving the White House in 2001 to trying to thread a needle between herself and the “truly well off.” Frankly, the fact that Clinton has made a lot of money in recent years from her books and speeches is not the issue. Rather, it is the way in which she has framed her wealth relative to others. For his part, Biden has declined so far to rule out another run for the Oval Office, though insiders believe if Clinton runs, he won’t. But remarks like those he delivered Monday will only stoke further speculation that he is still at least considering the idea and wants to be thought of as a viable alternative.

Obama foreign policy approval suffers; Americans hesitant on Iraq action: A CBS News/New York Times poll finds President Barack Obama’s foreign policy approval at just 37 percent, the same number as the all-time low found in last week’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. His job approval is at just 40 percent. But an even lower 14 percent approves of Congress. On Iraq, 51 percent are OK with sending military advisers into Iraq, but they are doubtful they will stem the violence, and two in three — 67 percent — do not think the president has clearly explained the goals in Iraq. As for other possible military actions: 77 percent are against sending in ground troops; 56 percent are in favor of using drones to target militants, but fewer — just 43 percent — are in favor of airstrikes. On the broader policy: three in four Americans — 75 percent — do not think the Iraq war was worth the costs, the highest level recorded in the poll. That includes 63 percent of Republicans. And by a 50 to 42 percent margin, Americans think the U.S. was right to remove troops from Iraq in 2011. As for the midterms, Democrats lead 42 to 39 percent on the congressional ballot, but Republican voters say they are more enthusiastic about voting. And remember, these elections are not national — the most competitive races are playing out on largely Republican turf.

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1908, former President Grover Cleveland died. What do Al Gore, Andrew Jackson and Samuel Tilden have in common with Cleveland? Be the first to Tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to Mark Stober ‏(@mstober) and Katelyn Polantz (‏@kpolantz) for guessing Monday’s trivia: What famous regulation of school athletics was a part of the Higher Education Act of 1972? The answer was: Title IX.

LINE ITEMS

  • President Obama will host the 2013 Presidents Cup Team at the White House Tuesday night.

  • Your play of the day… this rap encouraging Harlem voters to go to the polls for Rangel. H/T: Political Wire.

  • The NewsHour Monday night previewed some of the races to watch Tuesday.

  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are the subject of another bridge investigation — this one into possible securities law violations from a road repair agreement for the Pulaski Skyway.

  • Why does House Speaker John Boehner have such a tight grip on his GOP conference? Because of stories like this from USA Today’s Susan Davis: “Boehner is donating more than $1 million to the House Republican campaign fund this week, a total that suggests he is consolidating power in the House, not planning for retirement.”

  • The New York Times wraps Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to the Kurdish capital in Iraq.

  • Former New Mexico Governor and Clinton cabinet member Bill Richardson backed Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primaries. And as of now, he’s still not “Ready for Hillary.”

  • Mississippi Democrat Travis Childers isn’t holding his breath for tonight’s GOP runoff, but he notes that his donors have been more enthusiastic since his own strong primary finish and since the GOP primary raised the possibility of him facing an untested tea party opponent.

  • Three New York GOP primaries have each been the target of more outside money than all of the state’s 2012 congressional primaries combined.

  • Between a rock and a hard place: Majority Leader Harry Reid is facing pressure from a group of his fellow Senate Democrats, who would like to see more votes on amendments. At the same time, Reid is attempting to protect vulnerable Democrats from voting on legislation that might hurt them in the midterms.

  • On top of immigration, another piece of legislation could be dead in the water with Eric Cantor’s primary loss. Some are worried an effort to counter the Supreme Court’s decision last year to strike down part of the Voting Rights Act will go nowhere without Cantor’s backing.

  • Media Matters for America founder David Brock is telling Democratic millionaires not to worry about being called hypocrites when speaking out against the conservative mega-donors Charles and David Koch.

  • In his second day on Capitol Hill in four days, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified before the House Oversight Committee Monday night, where Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., accused him of intentionally misleading them about emails from former agency head Lois Lerner.

  • Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson under George W. Bush, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer have teamed up to release a “Risky Business” report on the economic costs of rising sea levels from climate change.

  • White House advisers will meet with Steyer and Paulson Wednesday, and Mr. Obama will headline a dinner for the League of Conservation Voters.

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., will campaign for West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant in July in her Senate bid against GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito.

  • The Washington Post’s Jaime Fuller lays out the history of efforts to impeach President Obama.

  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.

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Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Terence Burlij at tburlij-at-newshour-dot-org.

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