POLITICO's Morning Score: Shelby fighting hard in first Senate challenge of 2016 — ONE DAY

POLITICO's Morning Score: Shelby fighting hard in first Senate challenge of 2016 — ONE DAY AWAY, POLITICO does the Super Tuesday map math

By Elena Schneider | 02/29/2016 10:00 AM EDT

With Theodoric Meyer, Scott Bland and Kevin Robillard

The following newsletter is an abridged version of Campaign Pro’s Morning Score. For an earlier morning read on exponentially more races – and for a more comprehensive aggregation of the day’s most important campaign news – sign up for Campaign Pro today. (http://www.politicopro.com/proinfo)

FIRST MAN UP – “Shelby runs hard against first 2016 primary threat,” by Campaign Pro’s Kevin Robillard: “Alabama GOP Sen. Richard Shelby, facing his toughest primary challenge in years, has taken his party’s incumbent-protection playbook and executed it virtually line by line … pouring cash out of his $20 million bank account, airing a relentless stream of attack ads against 33-year-old Marine Corps veteran Jonathan McConnell (his chief opponent), dominating digital, and stepping up outreach to conservative media.” http://politico.pro/1LPfhcy

MAP MATH – Breaking down the GOP’s Super Tuesday map,” by POLITICO’s Kyle Cheney: “Super Tuesday could cripple every Republican presidential candidate not named Donald Trump. The best-case scenario for Trump would put him far ahead of his rivals in the race for delegates, and polls have him competitive almost everywhere that Republicans are voting. But even if he stumbles, Trump leaves Super Tuesday with enough delegates to remain at the front of the race. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Ben Carson all lack that luxury.” Find out how the math might add up. http://politi.co/214AQgf

– And on the Democratic side … “Breaking down Democrats’ Super Tuesday map,” by POLITICO’s Charlie Mahtesian: “Hillary Clinton’s team swooped in early, organized methodically, and captured support from the Democratic establishment. Bernie Sanders arrived late, opened eyes with a few jam-packed rallies, and quickly generated a ground game powered by the progressive grassroots.” http://politi.co/1THRcen

– Sanders boosted by Tulsi Gabbard endorsement: Bernie Sanders got his highest-profile congressional endorsement yet on Sunday morning, as Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announced her resignation from her post as a vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee to back the Vermont senator in his presidential bid, by POLITICO’s Gabriel Debenedetti in Chicago. http://politi.co/1LNE7cW

Days until Super Tuesday: 1. Days until the 2016 election: 252.

Thanks for joining us. You can email tips to the whole Campaign Pro team at sbland@politico.com, eschneider@politico.com, krobillard@politico.com, tmeyer@politico.com and kcheney@politico.com.

You can also follow us on Twitter, where we tweet a lot about campaigns and occasionally about sexism jokes making Oscar audiences comfortable again: @politicoscott, @ec_schneider, @politicokevin, @theodoricmeyer and @kyledcheney.

FIRST IN SCORE – Poll: New Hampshire voters less likely Ayotte after hearing Supreme Court views: Another Democratic group is out with a signal that they plan to keep pushing and pushing the Supreme Court stalemate as a political issue this year. A majority of likely voters in New Hampshire are less likely to back GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte after learning that she has said the Supreme Court vacancy shouldn’t be filled until next year, according to a new Democratic survey. Fifty-two percent of likely voters said that Ayotte’s stance made them less likely to vote her; 37 percent said it made them more likely to vote for her. The poll also found that 64 percent of likely voters in the state supported filling the vacancy now, while 32 percent preferred to wait for the election of a new president. The poll was conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove and Normington Petts last week for End Citizens United PAC, a Democratic PAC that backs candidates who support campaign finance reform. The poll surveyed 500 likely voters using landlines and cellphones and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

– FIRST IN SCORE – The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee hits Ayotte in a statement they will release Monday, Leap Day, criticizing her for her record “of voting with the Koch Brothers nearly 90 percent of the time her first four years in Washington,” the statement reads. “Unfortunately for her, this extra day will serve only to highlight just how out of touch she is with New Hampshire families – especially when it comes to her unprecedented obstructionism and refusal to do her job on the Supreme Court vacancy.”

– TV TIMEOUT – Breaking this morning: Ayotte hits TV – Ayotte’s first TV ad of 2016 features her daughter Kate touting Ayotte’s accomplishments and a humanizing backdrop: mother and daughter playing basketball. The ad is backed by a $300,000, 10-day buy, WMUR reported. http://bit.ly/1QGr4eA

CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATS HAND OUT NODS – The state’s Democratic Party met over the weekend to name its endorsed candidates, but it wasn’t without its fireworks. Emilio Huerta, son of labor leader Dolores Huerta, blocked rival Daniel Parra from an endorsement to take on Republican Rep. David Valadao. Neither candidate came away with the endorsement. But two vulnerable incumbents, Reps. Mike Honda and Ami Bera, did still gain their party’s endorsements, despite failing to get approval from their local clubs. And in the Senate race, AG Kamala Harris beat Rep. Loretta Sanchez for the Democratic Party’s official support. Full list of the endorsements: http://bit.ly/1Qnq7IN

POLITICO’s Carla Marinucci laid out how Sanchez attempted to contrast herself with Harris on decisiveness and position on Apple’s ongoing fight with the federal government over security. http://politi.co/1QmB1C9

– MORE NODS – GOPAC endorses Gowan in AZ-01, Houchin in IN-09: GOPAC will endorse two Republicans running for open House seats today: state House Speaker David Gowan, who’s running in a crowded GOP field in Arizona’s 1st District, and state Sen. Erin Houchin, who’s campaigning for the seat GOP Rep. Todd Young in relinquishing to run for Senate. The PAC will give $5,000 to each candidate, and the group’s independent-expenditures fund may also back them. The endorsement also sheds some light on which candidate a new super PAC might be backing. The Arizona Frontier Fund, a new group formed last year, received $10,000 from GOPAC but has refused to say which candidate it will back this fall. GOPACs endorsement of Gowan makes him seem like the likely beneficiary.

– BIG WIN – Not only did Hillary Clinton notch a huge win in South Carolina this weekend, some new Democratic leaders have coalesced around her of late, too. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid endorsed Clinton in the middle of last week, days after she won Nevada’s caucuses. And DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Lujan joined in on Friday, calling Clinton "the best choice for president by far."

PRESIDENTIAL SPEED READ – “Trump declines to condemn Ku Klux Klan,” by POLITICO’s Kristen East: “Donald Trump on Sunday morning refused to condemn actions taken and comments made by the Ku Klux Klan and one of its former leaders, claiming he needed to do "more research" before taking a position. Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union, Trump was asked by Jake Tapper to respond to recent comments made by white supremacist David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Duke and other white supremacist groups have supported Trump’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination. ‘Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK?’ he said. ‘I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.'” http://politi.co/1LnHqwv

– “Rubio’s suburban play for second place," by POLITICO’s Eli Stokols and Anna Palmer: "With polls showing Trump likely to win Georgia and Virginia overall, Rubio’s Super Tuesday survival strategy centers on targeting these suburban and exurban congressional districts to reach the educated 30- and 40-somethings whose practical, economic conservatism aligns with the Florida senator’s own aspirational brand. That should, if the plan delivers, help him to notch at least 20 percent of the vote and amass delegates that are allotted proportionally." http://politi.co/21D4sDK

– “Cruz’s U.S. territories consultant backs Trump,” by POLITICO’s Katie Glueck: “Ted Cruz’s man in the U.S. territories has decided to support Donald Trump, he told POLITICO on Sunday. Dennis Lennox, a Michigan-based GOP operative who spent several weeks organizing the U.S. territories for Cruz, including Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands, said he is supporting Trump because he sees him as more electable. "I respect Sen. Cruz immensely, I just believe at this point, Mr. Trump is better-positioned, because of his stance on trade, to put Democrats on the defensive in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and ensure that Republicans win again," he said.” http://politi.co/1QPTlWs

– “Jeb Bush’s ambitions paid dividends for GOP admaker over the years,” by The Washington Post’s Matea Gold: “The sudden end to Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign this month appeared to bring another chapter to a close: his long and fruitful partnership with Republican admaker Mike Murphy, the brash strategist who has been at his side for nearly two decades. …Murphy’s work for Bush over the years underscores how a long-term relationship with a politician can pay dividends for a political consultant, even in defeat. That’s particularly true in the current era of independent super PACs, which can scoop up unlimited donations from individuals and corporations without having to answer to a candidate about how they use the funds.” http://wapo.st/21u29q1

– “Barack Obama’s heir,” by The Atlantic’s Molly Ball: ” … Here in South Carolina, Clinton finally appears poised for a big win – one that could propel her all the way to the nomination – thanks to the very voting bloc that killed her candidacy eight years ago. Polls show her ahead in the state, where a majority of Democratic primary voters are African American, by margins of 20 points or more. … It was head-spinning to talk to the voters here, most of whom insisted they’d never disliked Clinton, only liked Obama better. The same arguments that fell on deaf ears eight years ago – that she was the more experienced, pragmatic, substantive, and electable candidate, and that her husband’s administration was a good time for America – were the ones they reached for now. “I like her agenda. I feel she’s fighting for us,” Eleanor Goss, a 70-year-old retired teacher, told me.” http://theatln.tc/1pflolX

CODA – QUOTE OF THE DAY: "He’s not gonna make America great, he’s gonna make America orange." – A newly aggressive Marco Rubio, on Donald Trump, via CNN. http://cnn.it/1QnrYgP

To view online:
http://www.politico.com/tipsheets/morning-score/2016/02/shelby-fighting-hard-in-first-senate-challenge-of-2016-one-day-away-politico-does-the-super-tuesday-map-math-212934

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