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Pick Six: Now a major television event!

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Politics,Chris Stirewalt,Power Play

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Buzz Cut:
• Pick Six: Now a major television event!
• Rand returns fire on Perry foreign policy attack
• Like, obvi! Hillary explains it all
• Power Play: Gardner pushes back on Udall’s contraception claims
• Sweet ride

PICK SIX: NOW A MAJOR TELEVISION EVENT!
You’ve voted. You’ve quarreled. You’ve tweeted. And today it starts paying off. Since the start of the year, Fox News First readers have been playing pundit as part of our Pick Six contest. That’s where we ask you to plot the most likely path for a Republican takeover of the Senate and list the six Democrat-held seats most vulnerable to GOP efforts. And today, the Fox News Channel starts sharing your collective wisdom with the rest of the nation in, where else, West Virginia.

Magic number - This midterm cycle is all about six Senate seats. With Democrats playing defense in the House, Republicans seem all but certain to continue their control of the lower chamber. The only threat to the status quo in Washington is the GOP’s chance to take control of the Senate for the first time since 2006. To do that, Republicans need a net gain of six seats. And if the path begins anywhere, it will begin in West Virginia.

Very different takes - Campaign Carl Cameron is on the ground in the Mountain State as two potential 2016 contenders underscore the importance of the race as they come to campaign for the candidates dueling to replace retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller, first elected 30 years ago. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is in for Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, the woman trying to keep the seat blue in a state that is increasingly crimson in hue. On the other side of the state, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is stumping for Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. Talk about contrasts! The chief spokesman for entitlement overhauling juxtaposed with the woman who liberals hope will push a populist agenda back to the fore of the Democratic Party.

Campaign Carl wants to know - “…if in conservative West Virginia, a visit from liberal Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren helps Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant stave off a GOP pickup. West Virginia will make history and elect its first female U.S. Senator this year.  Right now, Republican Congresswoman Shelly Moore Capito leads the polls and has a superior war chest. Democrats accuse the GOP of waging a war on women while Republicans accuse the Obama admin of waging war on coal. Paul Ryan tours West Virginia with Capito today to help make the economic case against the ‘Obama-Talent-Warren Agenda.’” – Chief Political Correspondent Carl Cameron.

[Warren heads to Michigan later this week to fundraise with Senate hopeful Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich. Peters faces Republican Terri Lynn Land in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.]

Hobby Lobby hobby horse - Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail: “Capito and Tennant are running for Senate at a time where much of the national dialogue is focused on women’s issues, including reproductive health, access to abortions and the economy. While much of their campaigns focus on job creation and helping small business — two aspects that affect the majority of voters — both acknowledge the pressing issues women face in today’s society. That includes a recent decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court that found corporations could object to providing some types of contraception to employees via health insurance plans based on religious beliefs. The decision has created a firestorm among women’s rights groups, who argue a woman’s boss shouldn’t have the right to decide her reproductive choices.”

[Power Play Recap - Chris Stirewalt sat down with Rep. Capito to discuss her campaign strategy earlier in the race. Watch here to find out why Capito thinks she will do more for West Virginia coal jobs.]

Fundraising figures - Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail: “Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito raised $1.3 million in the latest fundraising quarter, about a half-million dollars more than her Democratic opponent, West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant. Capito’s additional money puts the campaign above $7.1 million raised since she announced her candidacy in late 2012 and gives the congresswoman “nearly” $5 million cash on hand…”

Global warming clouds Warren’s clout - From West Virginia’s foremost political analyst Hoppy Kercheval: “… Warren’s liberalism is a soft spot that Capito supporters want to exploit. The National Republican Senatorial Committee charges that Warren’s agenda is counter to the interests of West Virginians. For example, she supports the EPA’s anti-coal rules and backs a carbon tax. ‘We know enough to know that reducing carbon pollution from power plant emissions will make a real difference in the fight against climate change,’ Warren said on the Senate floor after the EPA revealed its plan to cut emissions by 30 percent.”

SIX MORE THINGS…
Flip Flop Capitol -
West Virginia’s first capital city was located in the Northern Panhandle city of Wheeling. When Democrats took control, they shifted the capitol to Charleston, then Republicans hauled it back up north. In the end, Charleston and the Democrats won out. (For now…)

Honor your Mothers - The first official Mother’s Day was celebrated in Grafton on May 10, 1908.

Roads ahead of their time - The first brick street in the world was laid in Charleston on October 23, 1870, on Summers Street, between Kanawha and Virginia Streets.

Name game - The New River is actually one of the oldest rivers in the world, and it flows south to north, opposite from most rivers because it was formed before the mountains.

Youngest and oldest -  Gov. Cecil Underwood was the state’s youngest governor when he was first elected in 1956 at the age of 34. Elected again in 1996, Underwood became the nation’s oldest governor.

Abe’s legacy - West Virginia was proclaimed a state in June 20, 1863.

GUESS WHAT YOU SHOULD DO NOW…
The six picks are not set in stone. Take your chance to carve a new lineup and vote. The current consensus among Fox News First readers: Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, West Virginia, South Dakota and North Carolina. Are they on the right trail or lost in the wilderness? Have your say.

Share your top six picks. Email them – just your top six, please – to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM or tweet @cstirewalt.

WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...
The New Yorker goes behind the headlines on the standardized test cheating scandal that rocked Atlanta’s schools. It’s riveting and, ahem, instructive: “There have been accounts of widespread cheating in dozens of cities, including Philadelphia, Toledo, El Paso, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Houston, and St. Louis. According to a 2013 report by the Government Accountability Office, forty states detected instances of cheating by educators in the previous two years. But Atlanta is one of the few districts in which educators have been subpoenaed. ‘It’s hard to find anyone in the system who wants to look under the rock and see what’s there,’ Jennifer Jennings, a sociology professor at N.Y.U. who studies standardized tests, said.

Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM

POLL CHECK
Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 41 percent//Disapprove – 54.1 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 26 percent//Wrong Track – 63.5 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 41.8 percent// Republicans 40.2 percent

RAND RETURNS FIRE ON PERRY FOREIGN POLICY ATTACK
In a sure-fire preview of 2016, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is defending his foreign policy in an op-ed this morning after Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, claimed Paul had “isolationist policies.” Perry, who has been in the limelight over the ongoing border crisis, attacked Paul in a weekend Washington Post opinion piece saying that Paul’s strategy “suggest[s] that our nation should ignore what is happening in Iraq.” Paul responds today in Politico: “[S]ome of Perry’s solutions for the current chaos in Iraq aren’t much different from what I’ve proposed, something he fails to mention. His solutions also aren’t much different from President Barack Obama’s, something he also fails to mention. Because interestingly enough, there aren’t that many good choices right now in dealing with this situation in Iraq.” Paul makes it pretty snarky, too: “…apparently his new glasses haven’t altered his perception of the world, or allowed him to see it any more clearly.”

The seemingly unprovoked attack on Paul is a sign not only of Perry’s interest but of Paul’s status as the man to beat – so far – in the GOP 2016 stakes. Perry is following the same path that other 2016 potential candidates have followed in hitting Paul on foreign policy. Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., and Perry’s fellow Texan, Sen. Ted Cruz, have both made similar claims about Paul’s policies.

O’MALLEY PLAYS TO THE BASE IN IOWA
LAT: “[Gov. Martin O’Malley’s , D-Md., recent visit to Des Moines, Iowa] had all the trappings of a full-fledged presidential campaign: a speech at the state Democratic convention, a pep talk to door-knocking volunteers, breakfast with labor leaders, appearances alongside the party's candidate for governor. The only thing absent was a formal announcement by Martin O'Malley that he was, in fact, seeking the White House in 2016. But unlike a certain other much-chronicled, vastly better-known prospect, Maryland's two-term governor makes it no secret that, if not officially running for president, he is at least actively striding in that direction.”

Splits with Hillary, Obama on border crisis -  TIME: “Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley broke publicly with President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday, calling for a more humane policy toward the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors who have illegally crossed into the United States. ‘It is contrary to everything we stand for to try to summarily send children back to death,’ the Democratic lawmaker told reporters. O’Malley also criticized the ‘kennels’ in which those who have been detained are being kept and calling for the children to be placed in ‘the least restrictive’ locations, including foster homes or with family members in the U.S.”

LIKE, OBVI! HILLARY EXPLAINS IT ALL
Vanity Fair’s Craig Brown delivers a humorous take on the platitudinous pronouncements of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the “Hard Choices” phase of her campaign rollout. Assuming the voice of Clinton, Brown writes:. “I learned early that there is no purpose served by rushing into a major diplomatic meeting with a foreign president or head of state with both fists flying. Not when a smile and a handshake can be so much more effective. Carrots and sticks. But which is the carrot and which is the stick? The carrot is a root vegetable, usually orange in color. The stick is a branch of a tree or shrub. Try to eat a stick, and you will choke. Try to threaten someone with a carrot, and he is unlikely to be deterred. I remain hopeful and confident that, as Americans, we may continue to lead the way by sharing with the rest of the world our hard-won knowledge of both carrots and sticks.”

POWER PLAY: GARDNER PUSHES BACK ON UDALL’S CONTRACEPTION CLAIMS
Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., discusses his race to unseat freshman Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo. Although in 2012 Colorado seemed to be written off as a swing state, Gardner is nearly tied in the polls with Udall. Gardner calls Udall’s attacks against him on women’s issues following the Supreme Court decision to allow employers to decide if certain types of birth control are covered in their employee health benefits part of a “tired playbook” that Democrats think is the way to win. Will Gardner’s stance that certain types of birth control should be made available without prescriptions win over Coloradans? Watch the full interview here.

GEORGIA GOP RUNOFF DEBATE GETS MESSY
Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald: “The candidates in the Republican Senate runoff sprinted out their final debate Sunday by blasting each other over ethics and the Savannah port. [Congressman] Jack Kingston accused [businessman] David Perdue of lining his pockets while taking an appointment from his cousin to the Georgia Ports Authority board. And Perdue warned that Kingston’s connection to a Palestinian businessman awaiting deportation for a federal conviction will wind up being a messy scandal in the middle of the general election against Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn. … One of the journalists on a panel questioning the candidates noted how nasty the campaign had been and that neither brought up substantive issue differences between them. They responded by slinging more mud. …It was the most hostile personal confrontation between the two men, although they and well-heeled political action committees have been airing the same charges in television ads for weeks. Both predicted they would be turning out their supporters and would come out ahead when the votes are counted July 22.”

PRO-CHOICE GROUP’S CANDIDATES SILENT ON ABORTION
WSJ: “Emily’s List is backing more Senate candidates in the South than ever in its three-decade history. The group, which raises money for Democratic women who support abortion rights, is the largest single contributor to four Southern candidates, including North Carolina’s Sen. Kay Hagan. Yet none of them are talking much about abortion, a change from recent elections in which Democrats used the issue to stir female voters. The gap can be explained by this awkward fact: Most of this year’s competitive races are in red states where the Democratic playbook on social issues doesn’t work, compounding the party’s challenges in retaining control of the Senate. In addition to Ms. Hagan, Emily’s List is backing Democrats Michelle Nunn of Georgia, Alison Lundergan Grimes of Kentucky and Natalie Tennant of West Virginia….These Southern Democrats still want to attract female votes, but they are talking instead about the economy and education. As part of a $3 million campaign to galvanize female voters on behalf of Ms. Hagan, an arm of Emily’s List aired a TV ad last month featuring a teacher struggling not with her pregnancy, which she only alludes to, but with school-funding cuts backed by the Republican candidate, state House Speaker Thom Tillis.”

BROWN HIGHLIGHTS HIS MILITARY SERVICE IN NEW AD
Senate hopeful Scott Brown will debut a new at today highlighting his military background and focusing on veteran’s healthcare. Speaking to the camera in the 30 second spot, Brown touts his 35 years of service in the Army National Guard “I’m proud of the men and women I served with, but the Obama-Shaheen economy is not working for them or anyone else,” Brown says. “Veterans deserve better than long waits for patient care—a national scandal.”  Brown promises to get “healthcare back on track” because he believes “no one should fight for America overseas, only to return home and fight for respect here.” Brown hopes to unseat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., in November.

BEGICH CLAIMS HE IS ‘A TOTAL THORN’ IN OBAMA’S SIDE
WaPo: “When Sen. Mark Begich talks about his role in American politics, he describes himself as a sharp object, sent to Washington to jab at President Obama. ‘I’ll be a thorn in his [posterior],’ Begich (D-Alaska) said in an interview. ‘There’s times when I’m a total thorn, you know, and he doesn’t appreciate it.’ That metaphor is at the heart of Begich’s political self-image — and, now, his reelection campaign. Begich is running in an age of congressional weakness. Earmarks are dead. The Hill is gridlocked. So Begich has little hope of doing what Alaska always expects its politicians to do: bring home boatloads of money through legislation. Instead, Begich is running on his power to nag. Begich tells voters that, as a Democrat holding a Senate seat in a red state, he is a man the president has to listen to. And he says he uses that access to badger the administration for things that benefit Alaska, such as more permits for oil and gas drilling.”

SASSE SHOWS CASH CLOUT
Nebraska GOP Senate nominee Ben Sasse raised nearly $1.2 million in the second quarter, mostly in the weeks following his May primary victory. Sasse has raised $3.6 million so far and has $1 million on hand. Sasse is favored against Democrat David Domina in November in the race to replace retiring Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb..

EARNEST: OBAMA IS ‘ABSOLUTELY’ THE MOST TRANSPARENT
Fox News: “The White House on Sunday stood by President Obama’s position that he continues to be the most transparent president in U.S. history, despite widespread complaints from journalists and other Americans about a lack of information or apparent misinformation. ‘I have a responsibility in this job to try to help the president live up to his commitment to be the most transparent president in history,’ new White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on CNN’s ‘Reliable Sources.’ Earnest said he ‘absolutely, absolutely’ sticks by Obama’s line about having the most transparent administration, after continued criticism about apparent attempts to not make full disclosures.”

BRANSTAD: COMMON CORE ‘RADIOACTIVE’
AP: “Reviled by staunch conservatives, the common education standards designed to improve schools and student competitiveness are being modified by some Republican governors, who are pushing back against what they call the federal government's intrusion into the classroom. The Common Core standards were not on the formal agenda during a three-day meeting of the National Governors Association that ended Sunday, relegated to hallway discussions and closed-door meetings among governors and their staffs. The standards and even the words, ‘Common Core,’ have ‘become, in a sense, radioactive,’ said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican whose state voluntarily adopted the standards in 2010. ‘We want Iowa Common Core standards that meet the needs of our kids,’ Branstad said, echoing an intensifying sentiment from tea party leaders who describe the education plan as an attempt by the federal government to take over local education. There was little controversy when the bipartisan governors association in 2009 helped develop the common education standards aimed at improving schools and students' competitiveness across the nation. The standards were quickly adopted by 44 states.”

SWEET RIDE
Police arrested a South Carolina woman for stealing two pairs of underwear from a Dollar General in Rock Hill, S.C. after her getaway attempt in an ice cream truck. The (S.C.) State: “Police say the 34-year-old shoplifting suspect put the undergarments in her purse Thursday afternoon and then walked out of the store without paying, according to a Rock Hill police report. She then fled in a white ice cream truck. An officer was familiar with a woman matching the suspect’s description who operated an ice cream truck. Police went to the woman’s home in the Catawba Terrace neighborhood, and told her she was caught on surveillance video stealing from Dollar General. Lessa Iannone was arrested and charged with shoplifting. On Friday morning, she was still held at the Rock Hill Jail on a $2,000 bond.”

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

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