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Stanford prof gears up for U.S. Senate campaign

A prominent political figure now teaching at Stanford University is considering a run for the U.S. Senate.

No, calm down, Kamala – it’s not Condoleezza Rice in California’s 2016 race. It’s former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., laying the groundwork for a campaign to retake his old seat.

The Wall Street Journal reported March 3 that Feingold – a liberal best known for coauthoring a bipartisan campaign-finance reform law that since has been eviscerated by the U.S. Supreme Court – will split his time this year between teaching law and international relations at Stanford and going on a listening tour of Wisconsin.

Hot on the heels of a new poll that found Feingold leading incumbent Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., the National Republican Senatorial Committee on Thursday released a web video that pokes fun at Feingold’s California-based Wisconsin campaign.

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No fundraising boom for Emken’s Senate campaign

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Emken’s success in the June 5 primary didn’t translate into a big fundraising boom for her, her latest report to the Federal Election Commission shows.

Elizabeth EmkenEmken, 49, of Danville, bested 22 other candidates to finish second behind U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in the June 5 primary; Feinstein got 49.3 percent of the vote, while Emken got 12.6 percent.

In the period from May 17 through June 30, Emken collected only $53,834 in new contributions, bringing her total in this election cycle so far to $182,927. Worse yet, she had only $26,754 cash on hand as of June 30, with $260,546 in outstanding debts and obligations.

Feinstein hasn’t filed(see update below) her May 17-June 30 report yet, but her previous report showed she raised almost four times more from April 1 through May 16 – $706,419 – than Emken has in this whole cycle.

“We knew this was going to be a financial challenge — in fact, I don’t know anyone who thought otherwise — but that snapshot has been taken and the picture is looking brighter,” Emken spokesman Mark Standriff said today. “In just the past few days, the Emken campaign brought on Ron Nehring as senior strategist and Anne Hyde Dunsmore, one of California’s most successful fundraisers, as our finance director. It’s still going to be an uphill struggle, but we’re picking up steam at the right time.”

Nehring is the California Republican Party’s former chairman.

Nobody expects the National Republican Senatorial Committee will sink much, if any, money into Emken’s campaign; Feinstein is widely seen as unassailable, and the NRSC will target its money to states where seats are truly up for grabs.

For context, 2006 Republican U.S. Senate nominee Dick Mountjoy raised $18,672 during the similar period from May 16 to June 30, 2006, leaving him with $20,854 cash on hand at the middle of that year. So maybe Emken shouldn’t feel so bad; then again, Feinstein beat Mountjoy 59 percent to 35 percent that November.

UPDATE @ 12:52 P.M.: My bad – Feinstein has filed her FEC report for May 17 through June 30. It shows she raised $575,678 during that time (almost 11 times as much as Emken) and had $3,085,603 cash on hand as of June 30 (115 times as much as Emken) with outstanding debts and obligations of $302,092.

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DiFi hosting fundraiser tonight for Senate Dems

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, though her campaign was the victim of a tremendous embezzlement, seems unconcerned enough about her own re-election race that she’s hosting a fundraiser tonight mostly for other Democratic Senate candidates.

The 6:30 p.m. reception and 7 p.m. dinner tonight at her home in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood will benefit the Heartland Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee authorized by Feinstein; U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.; U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.; North Dakota U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp; Nebraska U.S. Senate candidate Bob Kerrey; and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Tester, Heitkamp and Kerry will attend tonight’s dinner.

Tickets for the dinner cost from $15,000 per person to $35,800 per couple. The first $5,000 of each contribution will be allocated evenly between Feinstein’s, Tester’s, Kerrey’s, McCaskill’s and Heitkamp’s campaigns; the next $30,800 of each contribution from a person, and the next $15,000 of each contribution from a multicandidate committee, will go to the DSCC.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee took its shots this morning.

“It’s funny how the road from North Dakota to Washington keeps leading Heitkamp through the hills of San Francisco and Los Angeles,” NRSC spokesman Lance Trover said in a news release. “If North Dakotans want to see who Heidi Heitkamp will stand with in Washington, they don’t need to look any further than to see who she is hobnobbing with in San Francisco.”

Kerrey, who lived and worked in New York City from 2001 to 2010 as a university president, got a similar verbal beatdown.

“Last week, Democrat Bob Kerrey wanted to keep outside money out of Nebraska yet today he’s collecting cash from Dianne Feinstein’s liberal friends in San Francisco,” NRSC spokesman Jahan Wilcox said. “It’s clear liberals in New York and San Francisco know that Bob Kerrey will once again be a loyal vote for their big government agenda of higher taxes and reckless spending.”

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Carly Fiorina to help run GOP’s 2012 Senate push

Will the Demon Sheep campaign method be writ large upon next year’s Senate elections? 2010 Republican senatorial nominee Carly Fiorina has become a vice chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, chairman U.S. Sen. John Cornyn announced this morning.

Fiorina 6-17-10 in Sacramento (AP Photo)The NRSC’s news release said Fiorina, serving with Cornyn and NRSC Vice Chairman U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, “will amplify Senate Republicans’ focus on healing America’s troubled economy, and assist with the NRSC’s crucial fundraising efforts in support of a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate.”

“I’m pleased to welcome my friend Carly Fiorina to the NRSC team, where her many business and civic achievements will make her an invaluable leader and fundraiser during this critical election cycle,” Cornyn, R-Texas, said in the release. “I look forward to working with Carly to elect strong Republican Senators who will finally put a stop to President Obama’s failed tax-and-spend agenda, and instead promote the economic growth and job creation Americans so badly need.”

Fiorina said the Senate sets the nation’s legislative agenda and she’s proud to work with the NRSC to restore a GOP majority next year. “Republicans in the Senate will provide job creators the opportunities and environment they need to grow our economy, decentralize power out of Washington, and restore fiscal accountability.”

The former HP chairwoman and CEO first got her feet wet in politics supporting 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain. She defeated former congressman Tom Campbell and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, in the June 2010 GOP primary, but lost in November to incumbent U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., by 10 percentage points.

UPDATE @ 2:48 P.M.: “Carly Fiorina laid off thousands and outsourced good American jobs overseas, but that didn’t stop national Republicans from investing millions in her campaign last year, which she lost by double digits, or hiring her today,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Press Secretary Shripal Shah said today. “Apparently, Republicans are not only protecting tax breaks for millionaires, they’re also finding them jobs.”

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NRSC launches attack ad against Boxer

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has launched its first independent expenditure attack ad against U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

Note that the narrator and all the sad-faced people in the ad are women – a key swing vote that Republican nominee Carly Fiorina is trying to woo. A Public Policy Institute of California poll released last week showed that among likely voters, women favor Boxer over Fiorina 48 percent to 32 percent with 16 percent undecided; the poll had a 3.5 percentage point margin of error.

This is part of a $3 million ad blitz the NRSC is mounting in the final days of the campaign; in all, it has dedicated about $5 million to the race. NRSC Press Secretary Amber Marchand said:

“Millionaire Senator Barbara Boxer has spent her entire career looking out for the best interests of one person: herself. Boxer’s partisan, ineffective work in Washington fighting for higher taxes and job killing policies haven’t helped the families, seniors, and job creators in California who are facing more than 12 percent unemployment today.”

Rose Kapolczynski, Boxer’s campaign manager, responded:

“Out of state independent expenditure campaigns have poured more than $12 million into this race, trying to mislead Californians and distorting Barbara Boxer’s record. The fact is that Barbara Boxer’s top priority is creating more California jobs and she voted for the biggest middle class tax cut in history, while Carly Fiorina laid off California workers and shipped jobs overseas. Fiorina didn’t care about California jobs then and she doesn’t care about them now.”

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NRSC moves to help shape Fiorina’s message

Brian JonesPolitico reports that Brian Jones, a former Republican National Committee communications director and senior communications advisor to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, has been tapped by the National Republican Senatorial Committee to give former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina a hand in her race against incumbent U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

Jones – now a managing director at Mercury Public Affairs in Sacramento – also will be helping Nevada GOP senatorial nominee Sharron Angle in her race against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and whichever Republican finishes in Washington’s Aug. 17 blanket primary.

Politico’s Jonathan Martin reports:

Just as Republicans need to win Nevada to have any chance of capturing the 10 seats they need to win back control of the Senate, their path to the majority almost certainly also must goes through California and Washington. The NRSC disclosed Monday that they were reserving $1.75 million worth of TV time in California — a signal that they’re serious about taking on Sen. Barbara Boxer. In Washington, Republicans think Sen. Patty Murray is vulnerable but the party must first settle on a nominee. Dino Rossi, who has twice run unsuccesfully for govenor, is the establishment favorite while former NFL player Clint Didier has some tea party support.

Jones is a seasoned press hand. In the 2008 cycle, he was initially the communications director for John McCain’s presidential campaign, where he worked closely with fellow top aides Terry Nelson and Rob Jesmer – both now top NRSC officials. Jones also worked on President Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign.