CNN's John King and other top political reporters empty out their notebooks each Sunday on "Inside Politics" to reveal five things that will be in the headlines in the days, weeks and months ahead.
1. FOR DEMOCRATS, OPTIMISM IS SPELLED M-A-R-K
Still a tough year for Democrats, but Julie Pace of The Associated Press shared word that the party feels a bit better about the prospect of retaining its Senate majority because of two incumbents who share a first name.
Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mark Begich of Alaska are both looking stronger in recent polling, lifting Democratic spirits. Neither of these incumbents is out of the woods. Hardly. But Democrats like the current trend line in both races.
In Pryor’s case, Julie reported that his team feels it recently did a good job navigating the “Obama factor” by appearing with the president when he went down to Arkansas to survey the tornado damage.
“This was a smart move by Pryor,” said Pace. “It allows him to push back against critics who say that he’s running away from the president but also appears with him in a setting that will make it tough for his opponents to use it against him.”
2. JEB COURTING EVANGELICALS
Robert Costa of The Washington Post noted that Jeb Bush appeared to be thinking about 2016 when he scheduled his one commencement address this spring.
Grove City College is a small Christian liberal arts school about 65 miles north of Pittsburgh. Former First Lady Laura Bush gave the commencement address there in 2011.
“It is a Republican area and it’s also in the Rust Belt in Western Pennsylvania,” said Costa. “And for him to pick that strategic area is perhaps an interesting sign of what’s on his mind.”
While Jeb was speaking to evangelicals in Pennsylvania on Saturday, he was tweeting about the Brown vs. The Board of Education anniversary:
3. McCONNELL LIKELY TO GET HIS “CRUSH” BUT NO LONG PARTY
Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell appears headed for a big win Tuesday over Tea Party challenger Matt Bevin, according to private but reliable polling and conversations with several GOP operatives closely involved with the Kentucky race.
It would be a key personal milestone as McConnell pursues his promise – made a while back to Carl Hulse of The New York Times – to “crush” the Tea Party “everywhere” this midterm year.
But don’t expect too long of a McConnell victory lap. He would immediately launch into a tough campaign against Democrat Allison Grimes. Sensing an opportunity to defeat a sitting GOP leader, Grimes is getting a lot of help and interest from Democratic leaning organizations.
Strategists in both parties say total spending on the race could surpass $100 million, which would make it by far the most expensive House or Senate campaign in history.
4. GEORGIA BRACES FOR POSSIBLE TEA PARTY VS ESTABLISHMENT WAR
Politico’s Manu Raju, fresh back from Georgia, laid out the potential for another internal GOP family feud in the state after the upcoming Tuesday primary.
There’s a packed Senate GOP field, and the top two candidates will then wage a nine-week runoff campaign.
Atop the field at the moment are businessman David Purdue, GOP Rep. Jack Kingston and former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel.
The Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Kingston, and launched TV ads on his behalf, while also making clear it could support Purdue if he emerged as the GOP candidate.
Sarah Palin is a backer of Handel, and Manu reported that if she makes the runoff, several anti-establishment conservative groups are planning to jump in and give her campaign a spending boost and make this another Tea Party vs. Establishment war.
One of the Chamber of Commerce ads supporting Kingston:
5. FOOD FIGHT COMING TO A LEGISLATURE NEAR YOU
The Atlantic’s Molly Ball shared reporting about a political food fight that is about to go national.
Genetically modified foods are at issue, and Molly reports on a grassroots movement seeking state laws requiring labeling and other notices when foods contain GMOs – genetically modified organisms.
Vermont was the first state to pass such a labeling law this month, and Molly reports there are now some 84 different versions of similar proposals being considered in 29 state legislatures. Not to mention proposals in Congress.
A Reuters photo of GMO food protestors at a march in New York from Molly’s article: