Caribbean Matters: US media ignores Puerto Rico’s June gubernatorial primary

While U.S. media continues to focus on all things Donald Trump and the upcoming presidential election, the politics of our Puerto Rican colony continue to take a backseat. 

There was some coverage of the presidential primaries that Puerto Ricans hold every four years, despite not being able to vote for president (which we covered here in early May). But it’s far more important to pay attention to the battle for governor of the island, as well as the primary for resident commissioner, who serves as the nonvoting delegate to the House of Representatives.

Politics on the island are changing, given the rise of new coalitions and new political parties. Massive 2019 protests against former Gov. Ricardo Rossello led to his resignation. Then Gov. Wanda Vázquez, who endorsed Trump, wound up being dumped from her own party’s ticket when Pedro Pierluisi won the primary against her in August 2020, signaling growing discontent with the political status quo. But the two main parties on the island are still dominant—and the primary for the governor’s race in the current ruling party pits incumbent Gov. Pierluisi against the current nonvoting delegate in Congress, Jenniffer González-Colón.  

RELATED STORY: Caribbean Matters: The winds of political change are blowing in Puerto Rico

Caribbean Matters is a weekly series from Daily Kos. If you are unfamiliar with the region, check out Caribbean Matters: Getting to know the countries of the Caribbean.

I’m not saying there is no coverage of this important race. Spanish-language media have produced a host of both print and television stories. But that doesn’t help readers who don’t read or speak Spanish, including many stateside Puerto Ricans. Politico did a story in November 2023 which set the stage, profiling the two candidates who are both members of the New Progressive Party or Partido Nuevo Progresista, known as PNP. As I often point out when discussing Puerto Rican politics, do not be fooled by the word “progressive” in the party’s moniker. It ain’t.   

Politico’s Gloria Gonzalez wrote an article titled, “The fierce fight to lead Puerto Rico.”

The candidates are campaigning for a job that’s complicated by Puerto Rico’s territory status and the fact that primary control of its finances is outside the purview of the governor. Instead, that power rests with an unelected oversight board after the territory’s historic, multibillion-dollar bankruptcy filing in 2016. And Puerto Ricans are angry and frustrated by the state of their battered infrastructure, particularly the territory’s notoriously unreliable and incredibly expensive power system.

Though they are both members of NPP in Puerto Rico, the two politicians have forged separate alliances in Congress: González-Colón is a Republican who supported former President Donald Trump — even earning his praise. Meanwhile, Pierluisi caucused with Democrats during his eight years as Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner.

The New Progressive Party or Partido Nuevo Progresista has been one of the major political parties in the territory, alongside the pro-commonwealth status Popular Democratic Party or Partido Popular Democrático. But the NPP has lost members amid the emergence of the Citizens’ Victory Movement or Movimento Victoria Ciudadana party, which supports a constitutional assembly to determine Puerto Rico’s status, and the Project Dignity or Proyecto Dignidad party, which does not advocate for any particular status.

WBUR’s “On Point” featured an in-depth English-language discussion on the upcoming primaries hosted by Meghna Chakrabarti. Her guests were Susanne Ramirez de Arellano, political reporter and former news director for Univision Puerto Rico, and Jorell Melendez Badillo, who is an assistant professor of Latin American and Caribbean history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of “Puerto Rico: A National History.”

Puerto Rico's big political shakeup Puerto Rico is in the middle of a major gubernatorial race — who wins  could have a big effect on the territory.

— Denise Oliver-Velez 💛 (@Deoliver47) May 26, 2024

Runtime for the podcast is about 47 minutes, and I hope you will take the time to listen to it.

I introduced Juan Dalmau, the gubernatorial candidate for the Puerto Rican Independence Party or PIP here in March, and the Citizens Victory Movement or MVC candidate for resident commissioner, state Sen. Ana Irma Rivera Lassén, in a story about her battle against Black hair discrimination. The two parties have formed an alliance.

In the podcast, Melendez Badillo also cautions people to be aware of the rise of the new right-wing party on the island, Proyecto Dignidad, or Project Dignity. Its members are ultra-conservative Christian and virulently anti-abortion, and have introduced anti-trans legislation.

Melendez Badillo recently wrote “Puerto Rico Is Voting for Its Future” for Time magazine:

The traditional parties have overlooked their differences to challenge the MVC-PIP alliance, taking legal action to seek to delegitimize and exclude the alliance’s candidates from the electoral process. They succeeded in decertifying some key MVC candidates like Senator Ana Irma Rivera Lassen, who is running for the position of Resident Commissioner in Washington, D.C.

Yet the MVC-PIP’s messages have enduring appeal. In recent years Puerto Ricans have faced a fiscal crisis that affected salaries and the price of goods, and stagnated the economy. There are electrical outages on an almost daily basis. Soaring poverty—particularly affecting children—makes life in Puerto Rico difficult, triggering the migration of Puerto Ricans to the United States and abroad.


One of MVC’s most important platform points involves the creation of a new constitutional assembly, which could redefine the future of Puerto Rico’s political status and bring an end to more than five centuries of colonialism. Such an assembly would provide Puerto Ricans with the opportunity to decide for themselves what the future of Puerto Rico looks like, freed from the constraints of the visions advanced by the traditional political parties.

If the MVC-PIP alliance increases its vote share in the 2024 elections, changes may be on the horizon. Perhaps they are already here; as these electoral processes take place, Puerto Ricans are not passively standing by. There are countless grassroots groups that are already enacting, imagining, and living the future they so desire in the present. They are also working towards the decolonization of the country. Many groups, such as La Colectiva Feminista en Construcción, Urbe a Pie, and La Sombrilla Cuir predate the protest movement and do not focus on electoral politics. They have instead concentrated on transforming the conditions and everyday lives of Puerto Ricans. It was grassroots organizing that amplified the 2019 protests and that have provided the energy for the creation of these new political parties.

Note: the disqualification of candidates mentioned above was reversed by the Puerto Rico Court of Appeals.

The Puerto Rico Court of Appeals on Tuesday reversed a Court of San Juan ruling that in March disqualified a number of candidates from the Citizen Victory Movement (MVC by its Spanish initials) and the Dignity Project (PD) political parties for failing to collect endorsements.

The Appeals Court noted that the plaintiffs who filed the suit to disqualify the MVC and the Dignity Project candidates did not have legal standing nor did they demonstrate to the court that they had a sufficient connection to and harm from the law or action challenged.

Mainland media is not the only problem. Polling on the island seems questionable, due to candidate erasure.

#PuertoRico's mainstream newspaper (owners long been affiliated w/ pro-statehood party @pnp_pr) publishes poll that leaves out @RLSenadora. An Afro-Boricua who is openly Lesbian & repping an insurgent movement, Senator Rivera Lassen's candidacy is historic. cc: @HigherHeightPAC

— Melissa Mark-Viverito (@MMViverito) March 6, 2024

Bonita Radio translation:

Senator Ana Irma Rivera Lassen demanded @ElNuevoDia to speak out about the "act of omission and invisibilization" by not including her as a pre-candidate for Resident Commissioner in the poll they published today.

"They have a great job and a great responsibility: to ensure that every person in Puerto Rico is fully informed about all their electoral options. Only through transparency and inclusion, truth and justice, can we aspire to a truly participatory democracy and the country we dream of and deserve."

For those of you interested in polling, there sadly isn’t much that is up to date. However, this data from March does indicate younger voters shifting toward the new alliance—which does not bode well for the two major parties. What that will mean in November is not clear, though from my perspective even if the alliance can’t pull off a win, they are moving Puerto Rico in a progressive direction.

This is one of the most important political charts you'll see this year. According to a new poll, *among voters ages 18-44*, pro-independence candidate @juandalmauPR and his alliance with @VictoriaPorPR have a MAJOR advantage in the 2024 Puerto Rico governor's race.

— Boricuas Unidos en la Diáspora (@BUDPR) March 3, 2024

Professor Rafael Bernabe is an elected representative of the Movimiento Victoria Ciudadana in the Puerto Rican Senate who co-authored “Puerto Rico in the American Century: A History Since 1898” with César Ayala. Bernabe shared his perspective with Jacobin in a conversation with journalist, author, and professor Ed Morales.

A New Alliance Could Change Puerto Rican Politics

Rafael Bernabe: When you look at what has happened in the past fifteen years in Puerto Rico, it’s not too hard to see the reason La Alianza came about. The economy of Puerto Rico went into a very deep depression in 2005. If you look at the numbers, the economy of Puerto Rico has been in a depression. We have had fifteen years of economic stagnation, no growth whatsoever. About two hundred thousand jobs have vanished; thousands of people have had to leave the island because they can’t find them. They can’t live here. And at the same time, you have all of these terrible corruption cases in the government. The result of that crisis (which people feel very deeply), the fact that the two major parties have not been able to offer any alternative to that crisis, and that they are increasingly corrupt machines has meant that the support for these two political parties is decreasing sharply.

These parties combined used to get around 97 percent of the votes between them. The PIP got 3 percent, and they got the rest. And now that’s down to like 64 percent: the PNP gets 33 percent; the PPD got 31 percent. These political parties have basically collapsed over the past ten years. In 2016, [ousted former governor] Ricky Rosselló won the governorship with 42 percent of the vote, which was already low enough, and then he was not even able to complete his term because the people got so fed up with his government that they mobilized and they overthrew him. It’s the closest thing we’ve had to a revolution in Puerto Rico. People were in the street mobilizing for twenty days nonstop and forced the governor to resign. In the election in 2017, the PIP jumped from 3 percent to 14 percent. And the MVC, which was participating for the first time, gets 14 percent, which is an indication that people are very much open to new alternatives. So the rise of the vote for the MVC and for the people is very much part of the same process, because many of the people who were on the streets trying to get rid of him were seeking new alternatives. Now that we are in an alliance, we have come together in one single force.

He discussed the politics of the alliance:

Ed Morales: You’ve said that the degree of leftism and progressivism between the two parties is very similar. That is to say one party is not necessarily more about socialism or workers’ rights than the other?

Rafael Bernabe: I would say neither party is a socialist party. They are both pro-labor, pro–women’s rights, and pro–LGBTQ rights. They both defend that public services should be essential, that services should be publicly owned, and the guarantee that includes electricity, water, education, and health. Both parties support the creation of public health system. These are by any account left-wing parties, progressive parties, whichever term you want to use.

In the MVC, there are people who are socialists, myself included, and everybody knows that we are socialists and it’s no secret, but there are many people who are not socialists. And we agree to struggle for certain immediate reforms and things that working people need to defend the environment, that we need to defend women’s rights and so on and so forth. As a socialist, when I have the opportunity and the occasion, I explain why I am against capitalism. I think in the end we have to abolish capitalism in order to solve our fundamental problems. But I always make it clear that I’m speaking for myself. The MVC as such is not a socialist movement. It includes people who are and people who aren’t socialists. If you look at the program of these two parties, they’re very similar.

We are getting a chance to watch coalition-building in real time. Now if only we could get more coverage. 

Join me in the comments section below for more on the upcoming primary, and for the weekly Caribbean News Roundup.

Campaign Action

Morning Digest: A Republican worse than Boebert? Colorado Democrats think they’ve found one

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

CO-03: A Democratic group is now meddling in next month's GOP primary in the hopes of helping underfunded election denier Ron Hanks secure the nomination for Colorado's 3rd District―a maneuver that comes two years after Democrats spent more than $4 million on an unsuccessful attempt to get the very same Republican candidate through a primary for the U.S. Senate.

The Colorado Sun, which first reported the news, says that a super PAC called Rocky Mountain Values has spent at least $84,000 "and counting" to ostensibly attack Hanks, a former state representative.

"Ron Hanks and Donald Trump say they're going to secure the border," the ad's narrator begins before switching to clips of the candidate speaking. "We need to start rounding up people," says Hanks. "We have to stop the immigration." The narrator jumps back in to label Hanks "too conservative for Colorado," which is the very line that Democrats used in their ads in 2022. (The commercials even appear to share the same voice-over artist.)

This new spot doesn't mention any of Hanks' five intra-party rivals, who are all running in the June 25 primary to replace far-right Rep. Lauren Boebert, who is running for the more conservative 4th District rather than defending her western Colorado constituency.

However, the PAC has dipped into other mediums to undermine the best-financed contender, attorney Jeff Hurd, who had been waging a challenge against Boebert before she switched districts. One newspaper advertisement highlighted by the Sun questions whether Hurd voted for Trump in the last two presidential elections and featured a quote from the candidate, who told the Denver Post just last month, "I don't talk about who I vote for."

While both parties often form new super PACs to make it tougher to tell who's behind attempts to influence the other side's primary, Rocky Mountain Values has been active in state Democratic politics for years. Hanks, though, pleaded ignorance when the Sun asked him about the new Democratic effort to select him as their opponent.

"I don't know who they are," he said. "I don't know what their motives are."

The winner will take on 2022 Democratic nominee Adam Frisch, who lost to Boebert by a shockingly small 546-vote margin two years after Trump carried the 3rd District 53-45. While Boebert's singular flaws were a major contributor to that close outcome, Hanks might be an even weaker opponent.

Hanks, who badly lost a 2010 congressional bid—in California—to Democratic Rep. Mike Thompson, quickly established himself as a vocal Big Lie proponent and fierce opponent of reproductive rights after he was elected to the Colorado legislature a decade later. He also attended the Jan. 6 "Stop the Steal" rally in Washington, D.C., and marched on the Capitol following Trump's speech, though he claims he did not enter the building. He's further made it clear he opposes abortion under any circumstances.

But what Hanks has not established himself as, though, is an adequate fundraiser: The former lawmaker ended March with a paltry $6,000 in the bank, a far cry from Hurd's $528,000 total and Frisch's eye-popping $5.8 million war chest.


MN-Sen: Banker Joe Fraser announced Thursday that he'd compete in the Aug. 13 Republican primary against Royce White, a former NBA player and far-right conspiracy theorist who unexpectedly won the state party convention almost two weeks ago. The eventual nominee will be in for an uphill battle against Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who has won by at least a 20-point margin in all three of her statewide campaigns.

Minnesota candidates often pledge to, in local parlance, "abide" by the convention endorsement and end their campaigns if someone else wins, and Fraser himself made this promise before Royce's upset win. Fraser, though, said Thursday he was switching course because of Royce's "history of questionable conduct and serious charges leveled against him."

This includes a litany of ugly headlines that have followed Royce since he beat Fraser, such as a recent MSNBC piece titled, "Royce White's resurfaced remark about women being 'too mouthy' shows how MAGA recruits with misogyny.

NJ-Sen: Indicted Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez reportedly has collected the necessary 800 voter signatures ahead of Tuesday's deadline to appear on November's ballot as an independent, according to NBC. New Jersey holds its party primaries that same day, and Rep. Andy Kim is heavily favored to win the Democratic nomination for Menendez's Senate seat.

The incumbent's corruption trial is ongoing, and NBC writes that it's expected to continue into July or longer. Ostensibly continuing to run would enable the senator to keep raising donor money for his legal defense, and it's unclear if he would wage an actual campaign to try to beat Kim and the Republican nominee this fall. Any independent who makes the ballot has until Aug. 16 to withdraw their name.

PA-Sen: The New York Times' Michael Bender reports that a conservative super PAC called Keystone Renewal has reserved $30 million for TV ads to support Republican Dave McCormick against Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, greatly expanding upon the $3.6 million it has already spent. Financial industry billionaires have heavily funded Keystone Renewal to back McCormick, who stepped down as CEO of a major hedge fund before his unsuccessful 2022 Senate campaign.

Bender furthermore reports that Democratic groups have already spent amply, including $8.5 million from Casey and $9 million from his supporters at the DSCC. Both parties have also made large reservations here for the fall.


ND-Gov, ND-AL: Donald Trump on Thursday endorsed Rep. Kelly Armstrong in the June 11 Republican primary for governor and Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak in the contest to replace Armstrong in North Dakota's lone House seat.

The few polls that have been released of the former contest have shown Armstrong decisively beating Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller, who is retiring Gov. Doug Burgum's preferred choice. Trump's decision to reject Miller comes at a time when Burgum is reportedly a top contender to become the GOP's vice presidential nominee. However, Trump did describe the governor as "my friend" in a separate endorsement message noting their mutual support for Fedorchak.

The House race, by contrast, lacked a clear frontrunner before Thursday. A pair of polls conducted earlier this month found a competitive race between the public service commissioner and former state Rep. Rick Becker, with former State Department official Alex Balazs and former Miss America Cara Mund further behind. However, many Republicans were undecided in those surveys, and Trump's endorsement could tip them toward Fedorchak.

WV-Gov: Retiring Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin told the Charleston Gazette-Mail's Ty McClung on Wednesday that he would not make a late entry into the race for governor and that he's continuing to support Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, the Democratic nominee who faces a very uphill race against Republican state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in what has become a very red state.

Manchin's announcement follows a May 20 report from MetroNews' Brad McElhinny that Republicans seeking a moderate alternative to the far-right Morrisey were encouraging Manchin to join the race, something he didn't fully rule out later that same day. Manchin likely would be the strongest candidate for Democrats thanks to his record of winning several statewide races, but Williams would have to withdraw from the race by Aug. 13 for the senator to replace him as the Democratic nominee.

While Manchin's latest announcement appears definitive, he's spent the last year and a half keeping everyone in suspense about what he might run for in 2024. As recently as March, he didn't rule out seeking reelection as an independent despite announcing his retirement last fall, and that option remains open to him until Aug. 1. Consequently, we may not know for sure what he'll do until the deadlines pass.


LA-05: The Republican pollster Victory Insights, which tells Daily Kos Elections it has no client, shows Rep. Garret Graves leading fellow Republican incumbent Julia Letlow 38-35 in a hypothetical Nov. 5 all-party primary matchup for the safely red 5th District, with Green Party candidate Rivule Sykes at 6%. This is the first survey we've seen of a possible battle between Graves, whose 6th District became dark blue under the new map, and Letlow.

This potential contest is difficult to poll, though, and that's not only because Graves is keeping everyone guessing if he'll challenge Letlow, defend the 6th District, or do something else. No Democratic candidates appear to have announced bids yet for the 5th, but that may well change ahead of the July 19 filing deadline.

The presence of a Democratic rival could be a problem for Graves' hopes of making a December runoff, as this survey shows him outpacing Letlow 31-21 among Democrats even as she carries Republicans 55-35. (Unaffiliated voters go for Graves 40-22.) However, it's also possible that multiple Democrats will file and split the vote too much for any of them to deny either GOP representative a spot in a second round of voting.

MI-13: Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan on Thursday backed Detroit City Councilwoman Mary Waters' uphill campaign to deny renomination to freshman Rep. Shri Thanedar in the Aug. 6 Democratic primary. The Motor City is home to just over half of the residents of the safety blue 13th District, which also contains several nearby communities.

Duggan's move came about a week after Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett determined that former state Sen. Adam Hollier, who was Thanedar's leading intra-party rival, had failed to collect enough valid signatures to appear on the ballot. (Hollier’s appeal of that decision was rejected by state officials on Thursday.)

Waters used her Thursday event with Duggan to argue that majority-Black Detroit needs an African American member of Congress. (Hollier is also Black, while Thanedar is Indian American.) The last Black person to represent Detroit in the House was Brenda Lawrence, who left office at the start of last year.

Duggan, who is white, also echoed Waters' argument that Thanedar has done a poor job serving the city. "We need somebody in Congress who fights for us, and right now, I don't feel like we got any help from our congressperson," declared the mayor.

Waters ended March with just $5,000 in the bank, but she predicted Thursday that Duggan's endorsement will "supercharge" her bid. There's little question, however, that Thanedar, who had more than $5 million at his disposal thanks largely to self-funding, will continue to hold a huge financial edge.

Waters, who previously served in the state House from 2001 to 2006, also argued that her long history in Detroit politics will help her overcome Thanedar, who only moved to the city from Ann Arbor ahead of his successful 2020 bid for a local state House district.

That history, though, contains some incidents she won't be eager to see revisited. Waters pled guilty in 2010 to conspiring to bribe an elected official in nearby Southfield and to falsifying a tax return. However, she eventually returned to elected office when she won a citywide seat on the council in 2021.

VA-10: Former state Education Secretary Atif Qarni has publicized a poll from SurveyMonkey showing him in a close third ahead of the June 18 primary to succeed his fellow Democrat, retiring Rep. Jennifer Wexton.

Del. Dan Helmer edges out state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam 17-16, with Qarni and former state House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn at 12% and 9%, respectively. A 26% plurality is undecided, while the balance is split between eight other candidates.

This is the first poll we've seen of this contest in over two months. Qarni's campaign tells Daily Kos Elections that this survey sampled 792 likely primary voters from May 17 through May 23.

Other Races

Miami-Dade, FL Elections Supervisor: Attorney Megan Pearl ended her campaign to become the top elections administrator for Florida's most populous county a month after Donald Trump endorsed her opponent, state Rep. Alina Garcia, in the Aug. 20 GOP primary.

Four Democrats are running including attorney J.C. Planas, who served in the state House as a Republican from 2002 to 2010, and political consultant Willis Howard.

Poll Pile

The Cook Political Report has released more polls jointly conducted by the GOP firm Benenson Strategy Group and the Democratic pollster GS Strategy Group that also include Senate matchups:

  • AZ-Sen: Ruben Gallego (D): 46, Kari Lake (R): 41 (45-44 Trump in two-way, 41-37 Trump with third-party candidates)
  • PA-Sen: Bob Casey (D-inc): 49, Dave McCormick (R): 41 (48-45 Trump in two-way, 43-40 Trump with third-party candidates)
  • WI-Sen: Tammy Baldwin (D-inc): 49, Eric Hovde (R): 37 (45-45 presidential tie in two-way, 41-41 presidential tie with third-party candidates)

Cook also released polls of Michigan and Nevada, but these tested an "unnamed Republican challenger" against named Democratic foes.

Ad Roundup

Campaign Action

‘Boom’: Democrats celebrate Trump guilty verdict as Biden weighs remaining threat

Congressional Democrats rejoiced Thursday following a New York jury's guilty verdict against former President Trump on charges of falsifying business records.

"In New York today, we saw that no one is above the law," Biden campaign spokesperson Michael Tyler said in a post-verdict statement. 

"Donald Trump has always mistakenly believed he would never face consequences for breaking the law for his own personal gain. But today’s verdict does not change the fact that the American people face a simple reality. There is still only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: at the ballot box. Convicted felon or not, Trump will be the Republican nominee for president."


But, according to Tyler, "The threat Trump posed to our democracy has never been greater." 

Trump was found guilty of all 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. 

The verdict marks the first time a U.S. president has been convicted of a crime. 

"Boom," Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said in a brief post to X, formerly Twitter. 


"Guilty. Today, 12 ordinary American citizens found a former president guilty of dozens of felonies. Despite his efforts to distract, delay, and deny — justice arrived for Donald Trump all the same. And the rule of law prevailed," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who is running for a Senate seat. 

House Minority Whip Katherine Clark, D-Mass., released a statement following the verdict, claiming, "Trump made deception a cornerstone of his campaign for the White House.

"And now, he will go down in history as the president who has two impeachments and 34 felony convictions to his name — with more trials to come. The American people deserve so much better."


Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., wrote, "It matters that the Republican nominee for president is a convicted criminal.

"And this won’t be his last conviction," he added. "He’s committed multiple crimes, and he’s going to be convicted multiple times. He can never be president again."


Top Biden surrogate Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., wrote on X: "The jury has spoken. Justice has prevailed."

While the president's campaign welcomed the verdict, Biden White House counsel spokesperson Ian Sams was more guarded, saying, "We respect the rule of law and have no additional comment."

Some moderate Democratic lawmakers were more measured than their colleagues in their responses. 

"Every American deserves their day in court. Former President Trump got his," Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said in a statement. 

Sen. Mark Kelly, a Democrat who represents the battleground state of Arizona, called it "a sad day for our nation to see, for the first time, a former president convicted on criminal charges.

"I respect the independence of our justice system and the integrity of this trial."   

While a number of Democrats sounded off about the trial's result, most of Congress's Democratic leadership in the House and Senate notably kept quiet. 

Morning Digest: A Supreme Court majority is on the line in Montana this fall

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

MT Supreme Court: Conservatives have a chance to take a majority on Montana's Supreme Court in November thanks to the retirements of two liberal justices. However, a high-profile battle looms as progressives seek to defend a court that has long stood as a defender of democracy and abortion rights.

The race to replace Mike McGrath as chief justice has drawn the most attention to date. Three candidates are running in Tuesday's officially nonpartisan primary, though each party has coalesced around a single choice. (The top two vote-getters will advance to a November faceoff.)

Democrats are united behind former federal Magistrate Judge Jerry Lynch while the Republican establishment is backing Broadwater County Attorney Cory Swanson. The third entrant, criminal defense attorney Doug Marshall, doesn't seem to be running a credible campaign (he's said he might vote for Swanson).

The contest to succeed Dirk Sandefur, an associate justice, is arrayed similarly. The two main candidates are both trial court judges: Judge Katherine Bidegaray, the consensus Democratic pick, serves five counties in the eastern part of the state, while Judge Dan Wilson, the top choice of Republicans, has jurisdiction in Flathead County in Montana's northwestern corner.

A former Republican state lawmaker, Jerry O'Neil, is also running, but he's currently challenging the state's eligibility rules because he's not a member of the bar.

The four top contenders have all banked similar sums, between about $80,000 and $100,000, as of the most recent fundraising reports that run through mid-May. (Marshall and O'Neil have reported raising almost nothing.) Those totals in part reflect Montana's relatively low donation caps, which top out at $790.

But outside spending is sure to dwarf whatever the candidates put in. In 2022, when just a single seat on the court was seriously contested, third parties on both sides combined to spend at least $3 million—a huge sum given the state's small population—and very likely more. (The Montana Free Press said that figure was "almost certainly an undercount" due to errors in campaign finance filings.)

In that race, Justice Ingrid Gustafson won reelection to an eight-year term by defeating conservative James Brown 54-46. That victory preserved the ideological balance on the court, which has generally been described as including three liberals, two conservatives, and two swing justices, including Gustafson.

Those two swing votes have played a crucial role in recent years, often joined with the liberal bloc. Most notably, in a 5-2 decision issued in 2022, the court barred Republican lawmakers from proceeding with a ballot measure that would have let them gerrymander the court itself.

The court has been more united on abortion rights, which are protected under a 1999 precedent known as the Armstrong decision. Two years ago, the justices unanimously upheld a lower court ruling that temporarily blocked a trio of anti-abortion bills passed by GOP lawmakers. And earlier this year, on a 6-1 vote, the court gave the green light to a ballot initiative that would enshrine the right to an abortion into the state constitution.

But a court with four conservatives could feel emboldened to revisit Armstrong, which is a major reason why reproductive rights advocates are pushing forward with their amendment.

The issue is also certain to be a focus in the races for both Supreme Court seats. Both Lynch and Bidegaray have spoken in favor of abortion rights, albeit less explicitly than some liberal judicial candidates in other states have.

At a campaign event last year, Lynch said that Montanans deserved to be "[f]ree from government interference, especially when it comes to reproductive rights." Bidegaray has been less direct, telling ABC News in March that she's running "to protect our democratic principles, which include the separation of powers and the unique rights provided by the 1972 Montana Constitution, including women's rights."

The leading conservatives, however, have sought to avoid the issue altogether. Wilson declined to comment to ABC, while Swanson demurred. "I don't believe it would be appropriate to discuss potential outcomes of future cases," he said.

The Downballot

It's right there in the name of the show, so yeah, of course we're gonna talk about downballot races on this week's episode of "The Downballot"! Specifically, we drill down into the top contests for attorney general and state supreme court taking place all across the country this year. Democrats and liberals are playing defense in Montana, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, but they have the chance to make gains in many states, including Michigan, Arizona, Ohio, and even Texas.

Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also recap Tuesday's runoffs in the Lone Star State, where a GOP congressman barely hung on against an odious "gunfluencer." They also dissect a new Supreme Court ruling out of South Carolina that all but scraps a key weapon Black voters have used to attack gerrymandering. And they preview New Jersey's first primaries in a post-"county line" world.

Subscribe to "The Downballot" wherever you listen to podcasts to make sure you never miss an episode. You'll find a transcript of this week's episode right here by Thursday afternoon. New episodes come out every Thursday morning!


AZ-Sen: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus' Bold PAC announced this week that it has reserved $1.1 million in TV, radio, and digital advertising for September to aid Democrat Ruben Gallego. "The statewide investment represents the first Spanish language reservations in the general election in this race and is the largest single independent expenditure in BOLD PAC’s 23 year history," the group said.

WI-Sen: A Senate Majority PAC affiliate has debuted a TV ad that attacks Republican Eric Hovde as a rich CEO whose bank "makes millions at seniors' expense" and "owns a nursing home being sued for elder abuse and wrongful death," citing a story from last month that the New York Times had first reported.

The commercial then plays a clip from a right-wing talk show appearance earlier in April where Hovde told the host that "almost nobody in a nursing home is in a point to vote" and insinuated without evidence that there was widespread voter fraud at Wisconsin nursing homes in the 2020 election.

Hovde's campaign has also unveiled new ads, with one spot covering generic far-right themes and cultural grievances. His second ad highlights his upbringing and family ancestry in Wisconsin to hit back against Democratic claims that he has mostly lived out-of-state for decades and spent most of his time in California before joining the race.

However, Hovde doesn't actually rebut those claims. After noting he graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1986, he only says he's had a business in the Madison area "for over 20 years" and his family currently lives there.


MI-08, DCCC: The DCCC announced Wednesday that it was adding Michigan state Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet to its Red to Blue program for top candidates even though, unlike the other four new inductees, she still has a contested primary to get through.

McDonald Rivet's main opponent in the Aug. 6 Democratic primary for the open and swingy 8th District is businessman Matt Collier, a former Flint mayor and Army veteran who has VoteVets' support. State Board of Education President Pamela Pugh is also running to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee, but she's struggled to raise money.

But while this is the first time that national Democratic leaders have publicly taken sides in the primary for this seat, which is based in the Flint and Tri-Cities areas, there were already indications that they wanted McDonald Rivet as their nominee. In its January article covering her entry into the race, the Detroit News wrote that party strategists viewed the state senator as a top recruit" they'd hoped to land.

Last year, Democratic consultant Adrian Hemond described her to the Daily Beast as the type of "solidly center-left Democrat" who can "play nice" with the district's large Catholic electorate, adding, "In terms of people who have a track record of winning tough elections in this area, Kristen McDonald Rivet is probably top of the list." McDonald Rivet since then has earned endorsements from EMILYs List and powerful labor organizations like the United Auto Workers and the state AFL-CIO.

The DCCC rarely adds candidates to Red to Blue unless they've already won their primary or it's clear that they'll have no trouble doing so, and that's the case for the other four new names on the list. The committee is backing former U.S. Department of Justice official Shomari Figures, who secured the nomination in April for Alabama's revamped 2nd District.

Also in the program are a pair of Democratic nominees who are challenging Republican incumbents in Pennsylvania: retired Army pilot Ashley Ehasz, who is taking on Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick in the 1st District, and former TV news anchor Janelle Stelson, who is going up against far-right incumbent Scott Perry in the 10th.

The final new name belongs to Wisconsin Democrat Peter Barca, who is trying to beat GOP Rep. Bryan Steil and reclaim the seat he last held three decades ago. Candidate filing doesn't close in the Badger State until June 3, but there's no indication that any other serious Democrats are interested in campaigning for the 1st District.

The only one of those seats with a contested GOP primary is also Michigan's 8th District, and the Republican nomination contest has already gotten nasty with more than two months to go.

Retired Dow Chemical Company executive Mary Draves on Tuesday began running ads attacking her main intra-party rival, 2022 nominee Paul Junge, about two weeks after he started airing commercials against her. Draves' narrator says that, while Junge publicly says he supports American jobs, he really "invested his inherited trust fund in, you guessed it, China. Not one dollar invested in Michigan jobs." The rest of the spot touts Draves as a loyal Donald Trump ally with a history of creating local jobs.

Junge has been promoting a very different narrative about Draves with advertising portraying her as a phony conservative who served on Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's "climate change council to push her green agenda."

Draves was the subject of an unwelcome headline later in the month when the Detroit News reported both that she'd donated to Democratic Sen. Gary Peters' 2020 reelection committee and that she'd contributed last October to McDonald Rivet's own political action committee.

Draves defended herself by arguing that 99% of the political donations she's made in the last 18 years went to help conservatives and that she shouldn't be admonished for these two outliers. "I made a symbolic contribution to Peters as he was supportive of our work at Dow," she said in a statement, adding, "A friend of mine was hosting an event for Rivet's state Legislature leadership PAC and had asked me to buy a ticket, so I did but did not attend."

Republican leaders may be content if primary voters accept this argument so they can avoid having Junge as their standard bearer again. The 2022 nominee lost to Kildee by an unexpectedly wide 53-43 margin two years after Joe Biden carried the 8th District by a small 50-48 spread, and Democrats would likely once again hammer Junge over his weak ties to the region. Unlike the DCCC, however, national GOP leaders have yet to take sides in their nomination contest.

MI-13: Former state Sen. Adam Hollier announced Wednesday that he had filed an appeal with Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson days after Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett determined that he'd failed to collect enough valid signatures to appear on the August Democratic primary ballot.

The Detroit News says it's not clear if the state Bureau of Elections will take up this matter before the Board of State Canvassers meets Friday to address the fate of other candidates who have been disqualified from the ballot. Hollier is Rep. Shri Thanedar's most serious intra-party opponent.

MO-01: AIPAC, the hawkish pro-Israel group, has launched its first TV ad to support St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell ahead of his Aug. 6 Democratic primary against Rep. Cori Bush. The commercial promotes Bell as a criminal justice reformer but does not mention Bush. AdImpact reports AIPAC has reserved at least $344,000 via its United Democracy Project super PAC.

NY-01: Former CNN anchor John Avlon has publicized endorsements from three members of New York's Democratic House delegation: Rep. Tom Suozzi, who represents a neighboring seat on Long Island, and New York City-based Reps. Dan Goldman and Greg Meeks. Avlon faces Nancy Goroff, who was the 2020 Democratic nominee for a previous version of the 1st District, in the June 25 primary to take on freshman GOP Rep. Nick LaLota.

NY-16: AIPAC's United Democracy Project has now spent roughly $8 million to support Westchester County Executive George Latimer's primary challenge against Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman, according to AdImpact data relayed by Politico's Emily Ngo. By contrast, Bowman's campaign has spent just $715,000 with just a month until the June 25 primary.

VA-07: Former National Security Council adviser Eugene Vindman has released an internal from Global Strategy Group that shows him decisively beating Prince William County Supervisor Andrea Bailey 43-10 in the June 18 Democratic primary for the open 7th District; another 32% are undecided, while the balance is split between three other candidates.

This is the first poll we've seen of the contest to succeed Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who is giving up this seat to concentrate on her 2025 run for governor. Vindman massively outraised the rest of the field through the end of March, and almost all of the outside spending on the Democratic side has been to support him.

WA-06: The Washington Public Employees Association this week endorsed state Sen. Emily Randall over the other leading Democrat, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, and its leaders made sure to highlight that it represents Franz's subordinates in the Department of Natural Resources.

The Washington Observer reported earlier this month that DNR staffers successfully urged another group, the Washington State Labor Council, to back Randall by citing "issues of worker safety and low morale" in their workplace. A third labor organization that represents DNR personnel, the Washington Federation of State Employees, also endorsed the state senator last month ahead of the Aug. 6 top-two primary.

Attorneys General

NC-AG, NC Supreme Court, NC Superintendent: The progressive group Carolina Forward has publicized the downballot portion of a mid-May poll it commissioned from Change Research, which finds narrow leads for Democratic candidates while many voters remain undecided.

In the race to succeed Democratic gubernatorial nominee Josh Stein as attorney general, Democratic Rep. Jeff Jackson posts a 43-40 edge over Republican colleague Dan Bishop. For the state Supreme Court, appointed Democratic Justice Allison Riggs is ahead 41-40 over Republican Jefferson Griffin, a judge on the state Court of Appeals.

For education superintendent, Democrat Moe Green is up by 42-39 over Republican Michele Morrow, a far-right conspiracy theorist who won her primary in an upset over GOP incumbent Catherine Truitt.

Carolina Forward had previously released the poll's results for the top of the ticket, where Trump led 45-43 in a two-way matchup and 41-38 in a three-way race with independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr. taking 11%. Stein held a 44-43 edge over far-right Republican Mark Robinson for governor.

Ballot Measures

MO Ballot: Republican Gov. Mike Parson on Tuesday set Aug. 6 as the date for a re-do of a 2022 state constitutional amendment that empowered the state legislature to require Kansas City to spend at least 25% of its general revenue on its police. Parson's move comes even though the state Supreme Court explicitly ordered this amendment appear before voters on Nov. 5 rather than on the summer primary ballot.

Statewide voters last cycle approved Amendment 4 by 63-37 even though it only impacts Kansas City, which is the only major city in America that doesn't have control over its own police force. Last month, though, the state's highest court ruled that a new vote was required because election officials had included a misleading fiscal summary that said the amendment "would have no fiscal impact when the fiscal note identified a sizeable one."


TX State House: Six state House Republicans lost their runoffs Tuesday even as Speaker Dade Phelan won renomination in an upset, and GOP Gov. Greg Abbott was quick to insist that he "now has enough votes" to pass his stalled plan to use taxpayer money to pay for private schools.

Abbott didn't bother to acknowledge that there are general elections in November, and the Texas Tribune's Jasper Scherer noted that Democrats are hoping to flip at least one of the seats the governor is already counting as a pickup for his cause.

That constituency is the 121st District in San Antonio, where Marc LaHood defeated Rep. Steve Allison in the March GOP primary. Democrat Laurel Jordan Swift will face LaHood in a district that, according to VEST data from Dave's Redistricting App, favored Donald Trump by a small 50-48 spread in 2020.

Ultimately, 15 Republican representatives lost renomination this year, though Abbott wasn't happy to see them all go. Attorney General Ken Paxton also used this year's primaries and runoffs to punish members who voted to impeach him for corruption last year, and he was sometimes on the opposite side of Abbott in key races.

One member who escaped Paxton's wrath, though, was Phelan, who narrowly defeated former Orange County Republican Party chair David Covey 50.7-49.3 in a contest where Abbott didn't take sides. (The only other sitting GOP representative to get forced into a runoff but survive was Gary VanDeaver, who beat an Abbott-backed foe.)

The attorney general characteristically responded to the 366-vote loss for Covey, who also sported endorsements from Donald Trump and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, by accusing Phelan of having "blatantly stolen" the election by encouraging Democratic voters to back him. Texas, notes Axios' Asher Price, does not have party registration.

Paxton also called for Republican representatives, who are all but certain to maintain their hefty majority in the gerrymandered chamber, to end Phelan's speakership next year. Rep. Tom Oliverson, who avoided casting a vote in Paxton's impeachment, announced his own bid for speaker in March, and he responded to Phelan's victory on Wednesday by proclaiming, "Campaign For Speaker Begins In Ernest."

Prosecutors & Sheriffs

Hillsborough County, FL State Attorney: Former State Attorney Andrew Warren this week publicized endorsements from several Tampa-area Democrats including Rep. Kathy Castor, who represents about 40% of Hillsborough County, ahead of the Aug. 20 primary.

Warren is trying to regain his old office from Republican incumbent Suzy Lopez, whom Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed in 2022 after permanently suspending Warren. First, though, Warren needs to win the Democratic primary against attorney Elizabeth Martinez Strauss, who hails from a prominent local legal family.

Strauss has stated that she believes that Warren was unfairly removed for, among other things, refusing to prosecute people who obtain or provide abortions. However, she's also argued that Warren is "a risky candidate" because DeSantis could just suspend him all over again. "Voters should have a choice and they may want a state attorney who can hold the job for more than 24 hours," Strauss told Florida Politics last month.  

Poll Pile

Ad Roundup

Campaign Action

Alito’s explanation for his upside-down flag has fallen apart

New information shows that everything Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has said about the reason an American flag was flown upside down over his home appears to have been a lie. Alito blamed the flag on a dispute with neighbors. Unfortunately for the prevaricating justice, his wife’s altercation with the neighbors became so extreme that those neighbors called the cops. The police report shows that the altercation came weeks after the upside-down flag was hoisted over Alito’s home.

On May 16, The New York Times broke the story that an American flag was flown upside down at the Alito home in January 2021. The upside-down flag, long used as a signal of distress, was appropriated by Donald Trump supporters following Jan. 6, 2021, to express their solidarity with the insurrectionists who had smashed their way into the Capitol building.

Alito denied any connection to the flag and claimed that his wife had put up this symbol in response to an altercation with a neighbor. He also claimed those neighbors had placed an offensive sign about Trump where it was near children waiting to board a school bus. But that excuse always had problems.

Now everything about Alito’s story is falling apart.

The story that Alito told Fox News reporters was that his wife flew the flag because neighbor Emily Baden placed a “Fuck Trump” sign in her yard that was within 50 feet of where children were waiting for the school bus in January 2021. Alito said that his wife had tried to talk to the neighbors about having a vulgar sign so close to where children waited for the bus, but that the conversation ended in an argument. 

Alito then claimed that Baden put up a sign that personally insulted Martha-Ann Alito and blamed her for the Jan. 6 assault. Finally, Alito said that he and his wife were walking through the neighborhood, ran into a man who lived at the property, and he called Martha-Ann Alito a number of disparaging terms, including the c-word.

So she went home and raised a flag in support of insurrection. As one does.

However, even a cursory look at Alito’s claims shows that they’re simply not true. In January 2021, area schools were still dealing with Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic. Children would not return to the classroom until March. So no children were waiting for the bus for Alito’s wife to be concerned about.

The latest information paints a very different picture of the interaction between Baden and the Alitos. Baden and her then-boyfriend, now husband, reported that Martha-Ann Alito was repeatedly harassing them to the point where they called the police and asked them to intervene. 

“Aside from putting up a sign, we did not begin or instigate any of these confrontations,” Baden told Times reporters.

At some point in January, the original “Fuck Trump” sign blew over. Martha-Ann Alito approached Baden thinking that the sign had been removed, but according to Baden, this encounter didn’t end in an argument. It was the first time Baden could ever recall speaking to either of the Alitos.

Following the Jan. 6 insurrection, Baden added two new signs. One of these read “Trump is a fascist.” The other said, “You are complicit.” Neither mentioned Martha-Ann or Samuel Alito, and Baden says that the signs were not aimed at them. Baden’s mother took the signs down out of concern that the same kind of people who attacked the Capitol might bring that kind of violence to their home.

Sometime after the signs had been removed, Baden and her boyfriend saw Martha-Ann. Alito sitting in a car outside their home and glaring at them in a way notable enough that they mentioned it to friends. A few days after President Joe Biden’s inauguration—which Samuel Alito skipped—the couple was driving past the Alito home when Alito’s wife ran toward their car, yelling something they couldn’t hear. She then appeared to spit in their direction.

It wasn’t until Feb. 15, a month after the upside-down flag flew over the Alito home, that the Alitos walked past Baden’s home while she and her boyfriend were bringing in the trash containers. Martha-Ann Alito then “used an expletive” and called them “fascists,” Baden told Times reporters. This event was also noted in texts that Baden sent at the time.

At that point, Baden said she snapped. 

She does not remember her precise words, but recalls something like this: How dare you behave this way. You’ve been harassing us, over signs. You represent the highest court in the land. Shame on you.

Her boyfriend admitted that he chased this statement with the use of the C-word. The incident was also observed by a neighbor. 

Following this exchange, the boyfriend went inside and called the police, confirming that it happened on Feb. 15, not before the flag was flown on Jan. 17, as Alito told Fox News reporters.

Alito’s excuse about the kids and the school bus was a lie. His claim that the flag was flown following a dispute with the neighbors is inaccurate. And none of it explains why he flew another pro-insurrection flag over his vacation home.

The Supreme Court is currently considering Trump’s motion for absolute legal immunity for his actions to interfere with the 2020 election while in office. It’s also determining whether the insurrectionists involved in the attempted coup on Jan. 6, 2021, can appropriately be charged with obstruction

Alito has not recused himself from either of these cases. And on Wednesday, he stated in a letter to Congress that he will not recuse himself.

“I am therefore duty-bound to reject your recusal request,” he claimed in the letter.

The idea that Alito should be involved in considering any case connected with Trump, Jan. 6, or the 2020 election completely violates any concept of judicial ethics. This isn’t just the appearance of a conflict. It’s a conflict.

The only real question is: Will anyone do anything about it?

The revelation that Alito had flown a pro-Trump flag at a second location sparked renewed pressure in the Senate. Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin has been calling for Alito to recuse himself—which he’s now outright rejected—and for Chief Justice John Roberts to call this rogue justice into line.

“[Chief] Justice Roberts has to step back and realize the damage that’s being done to the reputation of the court,” Durbin told The Washington Post.

The Senate Judiciary Committee needs to open an investigation into Alito’s partisan support for the pro-Trump insurrection. They need to do it immediately.

Two other members of the committee, Sheldon Whitehouse and Richard Blumenthal, have been pressing Durbin to take action. That includes Blumenthal noting that while the Senate can’t regulate the actions of the Supreme Court, it isn’t without power—including the ability to set the number of justices on the court. And outside groups, like Indivisible and Demand Justice, as well as legal experts have also demanded an investigation into Alito’s leanings.

The new information showing that Alito’s claims about the flag incident were simply untrue only reinforces the need for the Senate to move. An impeachment of Alito is fully warranted, but with Republicans holding a narrow margin in the House and anxious to show their allegiance to Trump over the nation, an impeachment seems next to impossible.

There’s no time like the present to dilute Alito’s toxic presence by adding more seats to the Supreme Court.

RELATED STORY: The pressure is building for the Senate to do something about Alito

Campaign Action

Morning Digest: Trump endorses rival to Freedom Caucus chief who schlepped to his trial

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

VA-05: Donald Trump delivered his long-awaited endorsement on Tuesday to state Sen. John McGuire's campaign to unseat Rep. Bob Good, who chairs the nihilistic Freedom Caucus, in the June 18 Republican primary for Virginia's conservative 5th District.

Trump used a post on Truth Social, which included an obligatory and unfunny pun on the incumbent's name, to make it plain he's out to punish Good for supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the presidential primary.

"Bob Good is BAD FOR VIRGINIA, AND BAD FOR THE USA," Trump wrote. "He turned his back on our incredible movement, and was constantly attacking and fighting me until recently, when he gave a warm and 'loving' Endorsement – But really, it was too late. The damage had been done."

Good's recent trek to New York City to attend Trump's hush money trial doesn't seem to have its intended effect of placating the GOP's overlord, though his hopes for a third term already looked to be in dire shape even before Trump publicly took sides. (Awkwardly, McGuire showed up for the trial on the same day.) A McGuire internal poll conducted at the beginning of the month showed him toppling the incumbent 45-31, and Good has yet to release contrary numbers.

While the congressman's decision a year ago to back DeSantis' already shaky White House bid played a key role in putting him in this unenviable position―and in getting him ejected from a "Trump store" (these apparently exist)―Trump isn't the only powerful Republican he's pissed off. 

Good was one of eight House Republicans who voted to end Kevin McCarthy's speakership in October, and McCarthy's well-funded political network is making central Virginia a key stop on its revenge tour. MAGA world and McCarthy's loyalists often don't align behind the same candidates―Trump days ago endorsed the Floridian who led the charge against McCarthy, Rep. Matt Gaetz―but Good managed to give both factions a reason to want him gone.

Antipathy for the sophomore lawmaker runs deeper still: Good, who has endorsed several far-right primary challenges to his own colleagues, has also alienated major donors who are tired of the Freedom Caucus' antics. 

All of this helps explain why, according to data from the FEC, super PACs have spent more than $3 million attacking Good and promoting McGuire. There's likely even more in store as American Patriots PAC, which is funded by megadonors Ken Griffin and Paul Singer, so far has only used two-thirds of the $3 million in ad time that Bloomberg reported that it reserved early this month.

Good, though, still has some well-heeled allies who are opening their wallets to help him, to the tune of more than $2 million so far. Most of that has come from two groups: Conservative Outsider PAC, which is an affiliate of the Club for Growth, and Protect Freedom PAC, a super PAC aligned with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

Paul himself has been starring in the latter's ads, urging Virginians to renominate "a true defender of liberty." But as Kentucky's junior senator learned the hard way in 2016, the man who just backed McGuire has far more pull with GOP primary voters than Paul does.

Election Recaps

TX-12 (R): State Rep. Craig Goldman defeated businessman John O'Shea 63-37 in Tuesday's runoff to succeed retiring Rep. Kay Granger. Goldman had the backing of Granger, Gov. Greg Abbott, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, as well as a huge financial advantage over O'Shea. Attorney General Ken Paxton supported his ally O'Shea over Goldman, who voted to impeach Paxton for corruption a year ago, but it wasn't enough.

Donald Trump carried Texas' 12th District, which is based in western Fort Worth and its suburbs, 58-40 in 2020, so Goldman is now on a glide path to Congress. The Republican nominee would be the second Jewish person to represent Texas in Congress after Martin Frost, a Democrat who lost to Republican colleague Pete Sessions in 2004 after the GOP rearranged his Dallas-area seat as part of the infamous "DeLaymander."

TX-23 (R): Rep. Tony Gonzales scraped by far-right challenger Brandon Herrera 50.7-49.3 to secure renomination in the 23rd District. Gonzales will be favored in the fall against Democratic businessman Santos Limon in a sprawling west Texas seat that Trump took 53-46 four years ago.

While Herrera prevented Gonzales from winning outright in March by holding him to a 45-25 edge, the incumbent and his allies used their massive financial advantage to push their preferred narrative about Herrera, whom Gonzales dubbed "a known neo-Nazi." Gonzales' side also highlighted Herrera's mockery of the Holocaust, veteran suicide, and even Barron Trump, and pointed out that he only relocated to Texas from North Carolina a few years ago.

The Freedom Caucus, including chair Bob Good of Virginia, still held out hope that it could rid itself of Gonzales, whom the Texas GOP censured a year ago. Texas Rep. Chip Roy, who represents the neighboring 21st District, also backed Herrera on Tuesday morning, but as tight as the race was, his belated endorsement wasn't enough to change the outcome.

TX-28 (R): Navy veteran Jay Furman defeated businessman Lazaro Garza 65-35 in the GOP runoff to take on Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, who was indicted on corruption charges earlier this month.

Neither Republican has raised much money, but the GOP is hoping that Cuellar's legal problems will give them an opening in the 28th District, which includes Laredo and the eastern San Antonio suburbs. Joe Biden carried this constituency 53-46 in 2020, but the area has been trending to the right.

TX State House (R): State House Speaker Dade Phelan held off former Orange County Republican Party chair David Covey after an exceptionally expensive GOP primary runoff. With all votes counted, Phelan survived by a margin of 50.7 to 49.3—a difference of just 366 votes.

The victory represented an upset win for Phelan, who trailed Covey 46-43 in the first round of voting for his dark red East Texas seat, which is numbered the 21st District. It's unusual for a top legislative leader to be the underdog for renomination, but Phelan had a vast array of far-right forces arrayed against him.

Covey had the support of Paxton and Donald Trump, who were looking to punish Phelan for supporting Paxton's impeachment last year, as well as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who leads the state Senate. Gov. Greg Abbott, however, remained conspicuously neutral even as he targeted other lawmakers who successfully blocked his plan to use taxpayer money to pay for private schools. (We'll have more on those races in the next Digest, though Phelan was one of just two House GOP incumbents to prevail Thursday; six others lost.)

The speaker fought back by raising money with the help of prominent Republicans from yesteryear like former Gov. Rick Perry, former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Karl Rove, who was one of the most powerful GOP operatives in the country during George W. Bush's administration. The Texas Tribune labeled this effort the "last stand for the Republican Party’s business-minded establishment," and it proved just enough to secure a rare major win over the party's current leadership.


 MI-Sen, MI-08, MI-10: The Michigan Bureau of Elections on Friday recommended that the Board of State Canvassers disqualify nine congressional candidates from the Aug. 6 primary ballot. The bipartisan Board is scheduled to decide the fates of these candidates, most of whom face trouble for failing to file a sufficient number of signatures, on May 31.

The Bureau, though, gave the thumbs up to the three main Republicans running for the state's open Senate seat: former Reps. Mike Rogers and Justin Amash and wealthy businessman Sandy Pensler. Both the DSCC and the state Democratic Party earlier this month asked the Canvassers Board to look into "potential fraud in the nominating petitions," but officials determined that all three filed enough signatures to make the ballot.

Rogers remains the favorite to advance to the general election, but allies of the leading Democratic candidate, Rep. Elissa Slotkin, insist he still needs to watch his back in the primary. A new Public Policy Polling survey for the Voter Protection Project shows Rogers leading Pensler 30-12, with Amash at 11%. The group's release argues that Pensler can close the gap as more voters learn about him.

However, not all Senate hopefuls were quite so lucky. The Bureau concluded that Democrat Nasser Beydoun, a former leader of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce who is waging a longshot bid for Senate, should be disqualified because he listed a post office box on his petition sheets when state law requires a street address.

Beydoun responded, "We're going to fight it because it's suppressing the vote on a technicality." His involuntary departure would leave Slotkin and actor Hill Harper as the only Democrats on the August ballot.

Further down the ballot, the most prominent name on the Bureau's list of candidates it recommended for disqualification belongs to Wayne State University Board of Governors member Anil Kumar, a self-funder who ended March with a massive cash on hand advantage in the Democratic primary for the right to take on GOP Rep. John James in the 10th District.

The Bureau determined that Kumar and another Democrat, social justice activist Rhonda Powell, both fell short of signature requirements, but Kumar says he plans to contest the finding.

Bureau staff made the same determination about state Board of Education member Nikki Snyder, a Republican who is trying to flip the competitive 8th District. Snyder was also booted from the ballot over signature issues in 2020 during a prior bid for the House. This time, Snyder's team alleges that they fell victim to fraud from a consultant.

 NJ-Sen: The New Jersey Globe reports that indicted Sen. Bob Menendez is collecting signatures for a potential bid as an independent, an option Menendez said he was keeping open in March when he announced he wouldn't campaign in the June 4 Democratic primary.

Menendez, whose corruption trial is still underway, has until the day of next month's primary to submit 800 valid signatures. Any independent who makes the ballot has until Aug. 16 to withdraw their name.

 VA-Sen: Navy veteran Hung Cao picked up Donald Trump's endorsement on Monday for the June 18 GOP primary to take on Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine. Cao faces four intra-party opponents, including former Club for Growth official Scott Parkinson, ahead of what would be a difficult general election to unseat Kaine.


 ND-Gov, ND-AL: The media outlet North Dakota News Cooperative has commissioned a survey from the GOP firm WPA Intelligence that shows Rep. Kelly Armstrong far ahead in the June 11 GOP primary for governor, but two Republicans are locked in a more competitive race to fill his House seat.

WPA finds Armstrong outpacing Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller 57-19 in the contest to replace retiring Gov. Doug Burgum, who supports Miller. An early May internal from the Democratic firm DFM Research for the labor group North Dakota United showed Armstrong ahead by an almost identical 56-18 spread, while an Armstrong internal from around that same time gave him an even larger advantage. No one has released any other polls of this contest.

But WPA's House portion has Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak leading former state Rep. Rick Becker by a much tighter 32-25 margin, with 28% undecided. Former Miss America Cara Mund and former State Department official Alex Balazs are well behind, though, with 10% and 5%, respectively.

DFM previously placed Becker ahead of Fedorchak 29-26, with Mund at 14%. No one has released any other polls of the contest to represent this dark red seat in the House. Fedorchak sports endorsements from Burgum and other prominent local Republicans like Sen. John Hoeven, while the far-right Freedom Caucus is pulling for Becker.

 WA-Gov: A new Elway Research survey for KCTS-TV finds Democratic Attorney General Bob Ferguson and former GOP Rep. Dave Reichert both poised to advance out of the Aug. 6 top-two primary, a matchup that almost everyone in Washington politics has expected for some time. 

Ferguson leads with 22% while Reichert outpaces Democratic state Sen. Mark Mullet 20-6 for second. Another 5% opt for a different Republican, far-right Marine veteran Semi Bird, while 47% of respondents are uncommitted. This release did not include general election numbers.


 CO-05: The Colorado Sun reports that a Republican super PAC is spending almost $400,000 on an ad campaign to stop state GOP chair Dave Williams in the June 28 primary for Colorado's 5th District. 

The spot, from America Leads Action, argues that, unlike Donald Trump, Williams doesn't "believe in Made in America." The ad goes on to accuse the candidate's business interests of putting China "ahead of you." It does not mention that Trump is supporting Williams in the contest to replace retiring Rep. Doug Lamborn.

ALA, which is funded by North Carolina businessman Jay Faison and Walmart heir Rob Walton, has devoted itself to stopping hardline candidates who could pose a headache for the House GOP leadership. The party Williams leads has been causing exactly the sort of trouble ALA wants to stamp out, recently endorsing former state Rep. Janak Joshi's longshot bid for the competitive 8th District rather than coalescing around the national party favorite, state Rep. Gabe Evans.  

ALA's foray comes after Americans for Prosperity deployed more than $350,000 to promote conservative radio host Jeff Crank, who has the support of Lamborn and Speaker Mike Johnson. There has been no other outside spending here so far.

But AFP, which unsuccessfully tried to help Nikki Haley win the GOP presidential nomination, may do its candidate more harm than good. Trump wrote in March that he was backing Williams because his "opponent is Endorsed, and works closely with, Americans for Chinese Prosperity, a Charles Koch Disaster."

 NH-02: Wealthy investor Bill Hamlen still won't "confirm on the record" whether he's seeking the GOP nod for New Hampshire's open 2nd District, reports the NH Journal's Evan Lips, even though he's appeared at campaign events and filed paperwork with the FEC last month.

But even Hamlen's efforts at campaigning have been odd, to say the least: Lips notes that his most recent appearance was at a Republican town committee event in the wrong congressional district. (New Hampshire has only two.) "Hamlen's entire candidacy has inspired a lot of head scratching inside state GOP circles," says Lips, who notes that Hamlen voted in the state's Democratic primary for president earlier this year.

The one notable Republican who so far is actually willing to say he's seeking the seat that Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster is leaving behind is businessman Vikram Mansharamani, who took a distant fourth place in last cycle's U.S. Senate primary. 

There are, however, several assorted randos who have put their names forward. These include a former Colorado Libertarian Party chair who took third in the 2022 primary for the 2nd District and a convicted Jan. 6 rioter who also tried to run against Kuster two years ago but struggled on account of being in jail.

 NJ-10: Recordings made public in connection with a new lawsuit feature Linden Mayor Derek Armstead making antisemitic comments about Hasidic Jews, claiming that his community was at risk of "being taken over by guys with big hats and curls."

The audio, which was obtained by's Ted Sherman, was recorded by Paul Oliveira, a former Linden school official who filed a lawsuit last week alleging that Armstead and other city leaders had sought to "deliberately exclude Jews" from obtaining employment with the local school district.

Armstead, who is seeking the Democratic nomination in the upcoming special election for New Jersey's vacant 10th Congressional District, also called Newark "a hellhole over there from top to bottom" and warned that Linden was headed for the same fate if it did not exercise "full and complete control of who gets hired." (Newark makes up a quarter of the 10th District.)

Armstead called Oliveira's accusations "a whole bunch of hogwash" and said of the recordings, "I'm glad he has me on tape. … Nobody respects someone who comes into a room and starts tape-recording people."

 VA-07, VA-10: Protect Progress, a super PAC supported by the cryptocurrency industry, is spending heavily to air ads boosting two Democrats seeking open House seats in Virginia.

The group is putting almost $900,000 behind a spot in the 10th District that praises Del. Dan Helmer for supporting gun safety laws and reproductive rights. It also mentions his recent endorsement from the Washington Post. The PAC is spending a similar sum to elevate former National Security Council adviser Eugene Vindman in the 7th District, but no copy of the ad appears to be available online.

Poll Pile

  • MI-Sen: Mitchell Research for MIRS: Elissa Slotkin (D): 40, Mike Rogers (R): 36 (49-47 Trump in two-way, 46-45 Trump with third-party candidates) (March: 37-37 Senate tie)

  • NV-Sen: The Tyson Group (R) for Breaking Battlegrounds: Jacky Rosen (D-inc): 47, Sam Brown (R): 33 (47-44 Trump in two-way, 40-37 Trump with third-party candidates)

Ad Roundup

Former Trump official wins tight Texas GOP primary runoff

A former Trump campaign official has won a tight primary fight and will now serve as the representative of a deep-red Texas House district.

Republican Katrina Pierson, who served as the spokesperson for former President Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, defeated incumbent state Rep. Justin Holland in Tuesday's primary runoff for Texas' 33rd House District, and is the presumptive winner of November's general election since no Democrat candidate is standing in the race.

Pierson had the backing of Republican Texas Gov. Gregg Abott, who sought to oust incumbent Republicans opposed to some of his policy objectives.


Holland, who was first elected in 2016, opposed key legislation supported by Abbott that would have paved the way for Texas parents to send their children to private or religious affiliated schools using public funding. A group of 21 Republicans, including Holland, joined all Democrats in opposing the measure last year.

Holland has also faced scrutiny for a number of other positions he's taken, including supporting legislation last year that would have raised the age to purchase "assault" style rifles from 18 to 21, and voting in favor of impeaching Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Pierson gained Paxton's backing ahead of the March primary, while Abbott endorsed her ahead of the runoff.

Republicans currently hold 86 of the 150 seats in the Texas state House, a majority of 11.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

Opposed by top Texas Republicans and Trump, state House speaker survives GOP primary runoff challenge

The Associated Press projects that Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan will survive a Republican primary runoff election challenge by David Covey.

Phelan's victory in a state House district east of Houston is seen as a political setback for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and former President Donald Trump, as well as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Phelan oversaw the effort last year to impeach Paxton over corruption charges. Paxton was acquitted by the state Senate after the House overwhelmingly impeached the controversial attorney general. 


In response, Paxton targeted over 30 GOP incumbent state representatives, with Phelan at the top of the list. Paxton's most powerful ally, Trump, endorsed Covey.

Meanwhile, Abbott was looking for payback over the downing in the state House last year of his education plan that would have opened the spigot for taxpayer funding of private schools. The school voucher measure, which was Abbott's top legislative item last year, passed the state Senate, but its downing in the state House was a rare political setback for the three-term governor.


Nine GOP state House lawmakers went down to defeat in the state's March primary, with eight more forced into runoffs. All were targeted by either Abbott or Paxton, or by both the governor and the attorney general.

"It’s a power play and definitely a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party of Texas and Gov. Abbott wants to get legislators in there who will support his agenda," veteran Texas-based Republican strategist Brendan Steinhauser told Fox News last week.

"For Ken Paxton and [Lt. Gov.] Dan Patrick and Donald Trump by proxy, for them, it is definitely trying to take out the person who led the impeachment against Ken Paxton and who stood in the way of Dan Patrick’s agenda in the Senate. All those factors together make a really powerful force for the Speaker to overcome," he emphasized.

The race was also seen as a proxy battle for the future of the GOP in Texas.

Phelan was backed by old guard Republicans and conservative-leaning business leaders who helped bring the GOP to power in Texas in the 1980s and 1990s. Covey enjoyed the support of not only Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Paxton and Trump, but also far-right activists who place more of an emphasis on social and cultural issues.

If Phelan had lost, he would have become the first Texas House speaker to be ousted in a primary in over a half century.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

Fifth-generation Texan advances past GOP primary runoff to take on progressive homeless activist

State Rep. Craig Goldman secured the Republican nomination for the open 12th Congressional District in Texas in a runoff Tuesday, a seat opening up due to the retirement of Rep. Kay Granger, according to the Associated Press.

Goldman won in a runoff after neither candidate received more than 50% of the vote in the March primary. Granger has held the seat since 1997 but is retiring at the end of the term. 

The race had been a demonstration of the split in the state’s Republican Party. O’Shea had framed himself an "America First" candidate and had touted the backing of Attorney General Ken Paxton and Trump allies, including Roger Stone and Gen. Michael Flynn.


"It is an honor to support John O’Shea for Texas’ 12th. John is a friend who I have found to be a dedicated husband and father who will put family, faith and country first," Paxton said in a statement backing the candidate. 

O'Shea argued the U.S. "has a number of higher priority issues that must be addressed to ensure our citizens are taken care of before focusing on other global matters."

Goldman, a fifth-generation Texan, meanwhile, had the endorsement of Gov. Greg Abbott and Speaker Dade Phelan, and had voted to impeach Paxton in 2023.  He had promised to be a "conservative fighter who will prioritize border security and the American taxpayer."


O’Shea had used that vote for Paxton's impeachment to hit his opponent. 

"There is a civil war in the party in the state of Texas," O’Shea said in April, according to the Texas Tribune. "I like to characterize it as the America First-Paxton side, and then there’s the establishment team Phelan side. You have a candidate who represents each one of those two sides. The choice is clear. Now, you have a chance to choose."

Goldman has pushed back against claims he is less conservative than O’Shea, arguing he had a proven conservative voting record.

"That’s the difference between John and I," Goldman said at an April debate, according to KERA News.

The winner of the Republican primary runoff will face Trey Hunt, a progressive activist and mental health professional who has been outspoken on homeless issues. Hunt, whose campaign website says he was "born and raised in Southwest Fort Worth," is running to push for "reform in the criminal justice system," "guaranteeing abortion rights" for women and other issues.


Both Republican candidates have emphasized their stances on tackling illegal immigration in a state that has been on the frontline of the ongoing migrant crisis at the southern border. They have both also highlighted their positions on abortion and Second Amendment rights.

It’s one of a number of races in which Abbott and Paxton have chosen opposing candidates. They have done so in five separate races. Both lawmakers have scores to settle, with Paxton targeting those Republicans who voted to impeach him last year on corruption charges and Abbott eyeing those who defeated his 2023 education plan. The school voucher measure, which was Abbott's top legislative item last year, passed the state Senate, but its defeat in the state House was a rare political setback for Abbott.

"It’s a power play and definitely a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party of Texas, and Gov. Abbott wants to get legislators in there who will support his agenda," veteran Texas-based Republican strategist Brendan Steinhauser told Fox News.

Granger had backed Goldman for the seat, touting his credentials as a "staunch advocate for a strong national defense."

Phelan faces his own challenge in District 21 from oil and gas consultant David Covey. Phelan oversaw the impeachment effort against Paxton. He was later censured by the Texas GOP for the effort. 

Fox News' Paul Steinhauser and the Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.