Morning Digest: GOP tries to boost Oregon Democrat disdained by national party

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

OR-05: A new super PAC called Health Equity Now has launched what appears to be an attempt by Republicans to meddle in Tuesday's Democratic primary in Oregon's competitive 5th District. The group is airing ads designed to boost 2022 nominee Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who is not her national party's preferred candidate.

The Associated Press, citing data from AdImpact, says that the PAC has reserved $350,000 for an ad campaign that began Wednesday. Its commercial declares that McLeod-Skinner is "putting progressive values into action" and says she backs Medicare for All. The spot does not mention state Rep. Janelle Bynum, who has the support of the DCCC, or the Republican they're both hoping to unseat, freshman Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer.

Health Equity Now does not need to disclose its donors until after the primary, but there's a very good reason to think that Republicans are behind the effort: According to Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin, the PAC is using a media buyer that only works for Republicans. In past races, new outfits looking to cause trouble in primaries have often given away their true partisan affiliation through their choice of media firms.

Bynum's camp responded to the development by telling the AP it "certainly looks like there are ties to Republicans." McLeod-Skinner didn't address whether the GOP might be helping her, however, but signaled her agreement with the ad's themes.

"While I’ve never heard of this group and don’t support undisclosed money in our elections," she said in a statement, "it’s absolutely true that I believe everyone should have high-quality, affordable physical and mental healthcare." McLeod-Skinner's own ads, however, have not focused on Medicare for All but rather on abortion and corruption.

While McLeod-Skinner lost to Chavez-DeRemer by a close 52-48 margin in what was a hairy year for Oregon Democrats, her intra-party detractors do not want to give her the chance to avenge that defeat.

Axios reported last year that unnamed party leaders believed that Bynum, who previously defeated Chavez-DeRemer in legislative races in both 2016 and 2018, would be "a more business-friendly candidate better positioned to win swing voters" than McLeod-Skinner.

McLeod-Skinner later was the subject of stories from the Oregon Capitol Chronicle and Willamette Week featuring allegations that she had mistreated her staff, both during previous bids for office and as the city manager for the small Oregon community of Phoenix.

Mainstream Democrats PAC, a group funded by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, has aired ads based around these accusations, including a report that "McLeod-Skinner's driver texted, 'I'm scared she's gonna hit me.'" The candidate has denied the allegations.

Bynum has received outside help herself: Mainstream Democrats and 314 Action have spent a total of $1.2 million to propel her to victory on Tuesday, while Health Equity Now is the first third-party group that's taking action to boost McLeod-Skinner.

Bynum's campaign also enjoys a financial advantage. The state representative outspent McLeod-Skinner $383,000 to $196,000 during the month of April, and Bynum had a $340,000 to $191,000 cash advantage going into the final weeks of the race.

McLeod-Skinner, however, is hoping her own messaging, as well as her name recognition from her last bid, can overcome that deficit. She began airing commercials last week attacking Bynum's voting record in the legislature, including one highlighting that Bynum "was the only vote against giving rape survivors more time to seek justice against their rapists." Regarding that vote, Bynum argued at the time, "It's not popular to protect the accused but it is our job."

The 5th District, which is based in Portland's southern suburbs and central Oregon, favored Joe Biden 53-44 in 2020, but both parties are preparing for a difficult general election. Chavez-DeRemer, who has no primary opposition, had $1.9 million stockpiled as of May 1.

Senate

UT-Sen: Rep. John Curtis' allies at the super PAC Conservative Values for Utah have publicized an early May internal poll from Guidant that shows him leading Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs, who has Donald Trump's endorsement, by a wide 41-15 margin in the June 25 Republican primary.

Two self-funding candidates, former state House Speaker Brad Wilson and businessman Jason Walton, respectively clock in at 9% and 2%, while the remaining 33% are undecided. This is the first poll we've seen of the primary to replace retiring Sen. Mitt Romney since the April 27 GOP convention, which shrunk the number of contenders from 10 to four.

House

CA-16: The California Democratic Party endorsed Assemblyman Evan Low on Tuesday over former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo in the all-Democratic general election for this open seat. The party previously backed Rep. Anna Eshoo at its November convention only for her to announce her retirement days later, and it had not issued a new endorsement until now.

CO-03: The Colorado Republican Party has endorsed former state Rep. Ron Hanks, an underfunded election conspiracy theorist, in the six-way June 25 primary for the open 3rd District. The move came one day after the GOP backed former state Rep. Janak Joshi's longshot campaign in the swingy 8th District over the national party favorite, state Rep. Gabe Evans.

In a statement, the party trashed two of Hanks' intra-party rivals, attorney Jeff Hurd and state Board of Education member Stephen Varela. Among other things, it took issue with Hurd for launching a primary challenge to incumbent Lauren Boebert before she decided to run in the more conservative 4th District rather than defend the more competitive 3rd District in western Colorado. (The party is supporting Boebert in her new race.)

It also charged that Hurd had refused to commit to voting for Donald Trump and attacked him for gaining a place on the primary ballot by collecting signatures rather than competing at last month's party convention. It further alluded unhappily to the $200,000 that Americans for Prosperity, a tea party-era group that's now toxic in MAGA world, has spent to help Hurd so far.

Varela, by contrast, won the convention that Hurd skipped, but the party still has grievances to air against him. Its statement alluded to a February story in the Denver Post reporting that Varela was under federal investigation for allegedly misspending his union's money when he led a chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees. It also highlighted an earlier report from 9News noting that Varela had changed his party affiliations 18 times since 2011.

Varela responded by arguing that the party was unwittingly helping the same national Democrats who spent millions last cycle in an unsuccessful attempt to boost Hanks, whom they viewed as a weak potential nominee, in the GOP primary to take on Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet. (Wealthy businessman Joe O'Dea won the nod but lost badly to Bennet anyway.) Democrats, however, have made no similar effort to promote Hanks so far this year.

MI-08: EMILYs List has endorsed state Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet in the Aug. 6 Democratic primary for this competitive open seat. McDonald Rivet's main intra-party rival appears to be businessman Matt Collier, who served as mayor of Flint three decades ago. State Board of Education President Pamela Pugh is also running, but she's struggled to raise money.

MI-13: Staffers for Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett officially recommended that she disqualify former state Sen. Adam Hollier from the August Democratic primary ballot on the grounds that he failed to turn in the requisite 1,000 valid signatures from voters.

In a report released Thursday, Garrett's team determined that Hollier submitted only 863 acceptable signatures, concluding that the remaining 690 were not usable.

The Detroit Free Press' Clara Hendrickson says that state law requires that this staff report must be made public at least two business days before Garrett makes a decision. Hendrickson adds that "those who disagree" with the clerk's determination may contest it with Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson or in court.

Hollier is seeking a rematch against freshman Rep. Shri Thanedar following his close 28-24 loss two years ago, when the safely blue 13th District was open. Thanedar sought to foreclose a second go-round, though, by announcing last month that he was challenging Hollier's signatures on the grounds that many were forged. Garrett's team agreed.

"It was more than obvious to staff that the same hand had completed and signed" several petition sheets, officials wrote in their report. Altogether, the review said that most of the 348 signatures collected by three circulators were suspicious. Other signatures couldn't be accepted for more prosaic reasons, such as the signer not being a registered voter in the 13th District.

Detroit Councilmember Mary Waters is also running against Thanedar, and she would likely benefit if Hollier is disqualified. Waters, though, had just $5,000 in her campaign coffers at the end of March, so she may not be able to put up an effective fight against the wealthy incumbent.

NY-16: AIPAC's United Democracy Project has begun what Jewish Insider reports is a $2 million week-long buy to beat Rep. Jamaal Bowman in the June 25 Democratic primary, with one of its opening ads attacking the incumbent for voting against the Biden administration's priorities.

This messaging may already be familiar to viewers, as Westchester County Executive George Latimer debuted his own ad last week that, like the UDP's, went after Bowman for voting against the 2021 infrastructure bill.

UDP, which is also airing a commercial praising Latimer as a reliable liberal, is the first super PAC to spend a serious amount of money. Bowman, however, was already facing a big advertising deficit: AdImpact said Thursday that Latimer has outspent Bowman $967,000 to $171,000 on ads.

SC-01: A super PAC called South Carolina Patriots has spent a total of $2 million as of Thursday attacking Rep. Nancy Mace ahead of the June 11 Republican primary, which is almost twice as much as the $1.1 million that the Post & Courier reported it had deployed through Sunday. The group has ties to allies of Kevin McCarthy, whom Mace voted to depose as speaker last year.

Altogether, AdImpact writes that $4.3 million has been spent or reserved for ads either attacking Mace or promoting her main intra-party rival, former state cabinet official Catherine Templeton, compared to $2.5 million in pro-Mace advertising. The Trump-backed incumbent's main ally is the Club for Growth, which, according to FEC records, has spent $1 million to help her.

Marine veteran Bill Young is also running, and while he's attracted little attention, his presence on the ballot could prevent either Mace or Templeton from winning the majority of the vote needed to avert a June 25 runoff.

VA-07: The Washington Post, which has a large readership in Northern Virginia, has endorsed former National Security Council adviser Eugene Vindman in the June 18 Democratic primary for an open seat based in Washington's southern exurbs. The 7th District, which Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger is giving up to focus on her 2025 bid for governor, favored Joe Biden 53-46.

Vindman, along with his identical twin brother, Alexander, was at the center of the scandal that led to Donald Trump's 2019 impeachment. Thanks to the siblings' high profile during that affair, Vindman has been one of the strongest House fundraisers in the nation. He ended March with a massive $1.8 million to $188,000 cash advantage over his nearest intra-party opponent, Prince William County Supervisor Andrea Bailey.

The field also includes Bailey's colleague on the County Board, Margaret Franklin; Del. Briana Sewell; former Del. Elizabeth Guzman, and two little-known contenders. Spanberger has not taken sides in the race to succeed her.

The Post also endorsed Green Beret veteran Derrick Anderson for the Republican nomination, though the paper's support was not a sought-after prize for GOP primary candidates even before Donald Trump made it one of his many "fake news" punching bags.

Indeed, one of Anderson's intra-party rivals, Navy SEAL veteran Cameron Hamilton, responded to the development by retweeting messages from the last two GOP nominees, Nick Freitas and Yesli Vega, saying that the Post's endorsement demonstrates that Anderson is the least conservative option. Anderson himself has ignored the development on his social media accounts.

The good news for Anderson is that he already had more valuable endorsements from Speaker Mike Johnson and the Congressional Leadership Fund. Anderson also ended March with a $581,000 to $176,000 cash on hand advantage over Hamilton, while none of the other four candidates had so much as $100,000 available.

VA-10: The Washington Post has also endorsed Del. Dan Helmer in the Democratic primary to succeed Rep. Jennifer Wexton, a Democrat who is not seeking reelection because of the worsening symptoms of a neurodegenerative disease.

Earlier this week, Wexton backed a different state legislator, state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam, in the 12-way race for the nomination. The 10th District, which is located just north of the 7th, backed Joe Biden 58-40 in the last presidential election.

Helmer ended March with a decisive financial lead over the rest of the field, though his advantage isn't as yawning as Alexander Vindman's in the 7th. Helmer finished the first quarter with an $815,000 to $608,000 lead in cash on hand over Krystle Kaul, a defense contractor who has been self-funding much of her effort.

Subramanyam was just behind with $575,000 banked, compared to $435,000 for former state House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn. Former state education secretary Atif Qarni had $208,000 on hand, while state Sen. Jennifer Boysko and Del. David Reid respectively had $172,000 and $109,000.

Judges

GA Supreme Court: A federal court has rejected a lawsuit by former Democratic Rep. John Barrow seeking to block a state panel from policing his statements on abortion as he seeks a seat on the Georgia Supreme Court, ruling that Barrow had failed to show he'd been injured by the board's actions.

The harms Barrow alleged stemmed from a letter that the state's Judicial Qualifications Commission had sent the candidate, warning him that his comments and advertisements expressing support for abortion rights violated the state's Code of Judicial Conduct.

But U.S. District Judge Michael Brown pointed out in his decision that the letter in question was confidential and only became public because Barrow shared it. He also questioned Barrow's claims that his speech might be chilled, noting that Barrow has continued to speak out on abortion.

An attorney for Barrow said the campaign might appeal or file a new suit in state court. Barrow is seeking to unseat conservative Justice Andrew Pinson in an officially nonpartisan election on Tuesday.

Ballot Measures

MO Ballot: A Republican plan to entice voters into curtailing their rights is all but dead after Democrats in the Missouri Senate staged a record-breaking filibuster that forced the GOP to back down on Wednesday. With the legislative session coming to an end on Friday evening, Republicans now have little time to act, buoying Democratic hopes of preserving direct democracy and passing an abortion rights amendment this fall.

Republicans had been hoping to thwart that effort, which would undo the state's near-total ban on abortion, by placing their own measure on the Aug. 6 primary ballot that would make it harder to pass future amendments.

Mindful of the humiliating failure their counterparts in Ohio experienced last year, however, Missouri Republicans sought to add so-called "ballot candy" to their proposal: empty provisions that might entice conservatives to back it despite its deleterious impact on voters' power.

It was these enticements that Democrats objected to vociferously, prompting a 50-hour filibuster that began on Monday. These blandishments included provisions that would ban non-citizens from voting and prohibit foreign donations—things that are already illegal.

Democrats had strong reason to resist, since this tactic had proven successful in the past: In 2020, voters repealed a redistricting reform measure they'd passed in a landslide two years earlier by narrowly adopting a Republican amendment that included some fig-leaf ethics reforms.

Democrats say they are prepared for a fair fight over a candy-free version of the GOP's proposal, which would require amendments to win a majority of the vote both statewide and in five of the state's eight congressional districts.

"I think it will definitely be defeated and defeated resoundingly," Democratic state Sen. Lauren Arthur told Daily Kos Elections on "The Downballot" podcast.

That is, if the measure makes the ballot at all. Republicans brought the Democrats' filibuster to an end on Wednesday by voting to send their amendment to a conference committee with the state House, which previously passed it, complete with candy.

The House, however, voted to reject any such conference that might yield an unencumbered version of the amendment on Thursday afternoon. That means Senate Democrats are certain to resume their filibuster to ensure that the sugar-coated variant doesn't pass, a talk-a-thon they'd need to sustain until 6 PM local time on Friday.

Republicans could still try to break a filibuster by deploying a little-used parliamentary maneuver known as "calling the previous question"—a step that members of the far-right Freedom Caucus have implored their party to take. But more mainstream Republicans have resisted, due both to a bitter split within the GOP and because past attempts have often resulted in even greater dysfunction.

If Democrats stand strong, then, and Republicans remain divided, the GOP would come away empty-handed, and the measure to restore abortion rights would only need a simple majority to become law in November.

Ad Roundup

Campaign Action

Morning Digest: You’ve got to try hard to raise as little as this Republican

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

NY-03: Thanks to a series of signature challenges, Republicans now know that their hopes of avenging their loss in February's special election for New York's 3rd District will rest with former Assemblyman Mike LiPetri. But even though supporters of LiPetri were behind those challenges, there's good reason to wonder whether he can pose a serious threat to Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi.

LiPetri's campaign has denied involvement in the efforts to boot four other candidates, including Air Force veteran Greg Hach and businessman Jim Toes, from the June 25 primary ballot. But Hach and Toes were quick to accuse the Nassau County Republican Party, which has endorsed LiPetri and seldom brooks dissent in nominating contests, of trying to pre-ordain the outcome in comments to the Long Island Herald's Will Sheeline.

Hach and Toes also pointed out the disastrous fates of the Nassau GOP's last two hand-picked choices for this seat: George Santos, who was expelled from Congress last year, and Mazi Pilip, who got crushed by Suozzi in the special to replace Santos.

Republicans should be concerned about LiPetri, too: After announcing his campaign on March 11, he raised all of $52 for the rest of the month—a sum so small that you'd almost have to make an effort not to raise more. Suozzi, by contrast, still had $1.1 million banked at the end of March, despite his heavy spending on the special. (Hach at least had self-funded almost $700,000, and both he and Toes managed to bring in about $100,000 from donors.)

There's still time for LiPetri to turn things around, but since this Long Island-based district is contained entirely inside the ultra-expensive New York City media market, he'll need lots of dough to get his name out, especially given how well-known his Democratic rival is. And LiPetri can't count on outside GOP groups to make up the difference, as Pilip hoped they would, since third parties pay much higher advertising rates than candidates.

Senate

 AZ-Sen: A new report from Politico points out that national Republican groups have yet to make ad reservations for Arizona's Senate race despite the eight-figure sums Democrats have already booked, and it's almost certainly because of their likely nominee's never-ending record of self-sabotage.

Perhaps no incident better sums up the problem posed by Kari Lake, the far-right former TV anchor who narrowly lost her bid for governor in 2022, than her incoherent response to a recent state Supreme Court ruling upholding an 1864 law banning nearly all abortions.

Following that ruling, Lake reportedly urged state lawmakers to repeal the ban, according to multiple media reports. But just days later, on a trip to Idaho—Lake has a penchant for out-of-state travel—she reversed herself completely.

"The Arizona Supreme Court said this is the law of Arizona, but unfortunately, the people running our state have said we're not going to enforce it," she told a conservative outlet called the Idaho Dispatch. "So it's really political theater." (The state did ultimately undo the ban earlier this month.)

Episodes like this have made many Republicans wary of Lake, including Mitch McConnell. As Politico points out, the minority leader recently failed to mention Arizona when listing the GOP's top four targets this year, which he gave as Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.

Lake is also getting swamped by her likely Democratic opponent, Rep. Ruben Gallego, who has raised $21 million this cycle compared with just $5.5 million for the Republican. In addition, Gallego has been on TV continuously since March while Lake has barely advertised.

Lake may be getting some help soon, though: Politico reports that the NRSC "is preparing to launch a joint TV ad buy" with the candidate. However, any such coordinated expenditures would be limited to about $720,000 in total, since it's unlikely that hybrid ads would be effective in swingy Arizona.

 NV-Sen, OH-Sen, PA-Sen, WI-Sen: More big ad reservations from both sides are flooding into a quartet of top-tier Senate races.

AdImpact reports that Duty and Honor, a Democratic super PAC affiliated with the Senate Majority PAC, has booked at least $7 million to start running ads in Ohio later this month. Meanwhile, the firm says that the GOP group One Nation has reserved $8.5 million in Pennsylvania, almost $4 million in Wisconsin, and $1.5 million in Nevada. These spots are set to begin sometime this summer.

Governors

 WV-Gov: With just days to go before West Virginia's primaries, the Club for Growth has started airing ads attacking Secretary of State Mac Warner, who has been mired in fourth place in the polls and had been ignored by outside groups until now.

The new spots, from the Club's affiliated Black Bear PAC, slam Warner for failing to endorse Donald Trump's third bid for president (and par for the course for this race, it also manages to throw in a transphobic jab). It's not clear how much the Club is putting into this latest offensive, but the GOP firm Medium Buying points out that Warner's campaign has spent a measly $17,000 on TV and radio so far.

Early on in the contest, the Club, which is hoping to see Attorney General Patrick Morrisey secure the Republican nod for the open governorship, focused its fire on businessman Chris Miller, apparently seeing him as the biggest threat. But several weeks ago, it began hammering former Del. Moore Capito, who recently earned the endorsement of term-limited Gov. Jim Justice.

According to 538's polling average, Morrisey remains the frontrunner with the support of 33% of primary voters with Capito not far behind at 26. Miller is further back at 20 while Warner brings up the year with just 12% of the vote.

House

 NJ-10: New Jersey Redevelopment Authority COO Darryl Godfrey and Shana Melius, who worked as a staffer for the late Democratic Rep. Don Payne, each joined the July 16 special Democratic primary election to succeed Payne before filing closed Friday

Godfrey is a top official at an independent state agency that describes its mission as "transform[ing] urban communities through direct investment and technical support." The New Jersey Globe says that Godfrey, who previously worked in banking, says he's willing to do some self-funding, though it remains to be seen to what extent.

Godfrey grew up in the 10th District in Newark, but he currently lives in Morristown in Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill's neighboring 11th District. The candidate, writes the Globe, intends to move back to this constituency. (Members of Congress do not need to live in the district they represent.) He does not appear to have sought office before. 

Melius, meanwhile, spent three years in Payne's office, and she also co-founded a group to improve "diversity and social equity within the cannabis industry." Melius is a first-time candidate.

Godfrey and Melius are two of the 11 Democrats competing in the special election for this safely blue Newark-area seat. The other main contenders are all current or former elected officials: Newark City Council President LaMonica McIver, who has the backing of several influential figures in populous Essex County; Linden Mayor Derek Armstead; Hudson County Commissioner Jerry Walker; and former East Orange City Councilwoman Brittany Claybrooks, who worked as North Jersey political director for Rep. Andy Kim's Senate campaign.

Kim's Senate campaign was part of a successful lawsuit that barred Democrats from utilizing the county line system in this year's primaries, a ruling that applies to this contest. That's a big difference from the 2012 special election to Payne's father and namesake, where the younger Payne's favorable ballot position, as well as name identification, helped him easily beat several opponents.

Whoever secures a plurality in the July 16 primary should have no trouble beating Carmen Bucco, a perennial candidate who has the Republican side to himself, in the Sept. 18 general election.

Payne's name remains on the ballot for the regularly scheduled June 4 primary, where he's the only candidate listed. Local Democratic leaders will be tasked with selecting a new nominee sometime after results are certified on June 17. The New Jersey Globe previously reported that party officials "are not expected" to act until after the special Democratic primary.

 NY-16: Westchester County Executive George Latimer is airing what appears to be his first negative ad targeting Rep. Jamaal Bowman ahead of next month's Democratic primary, featuring several people who castigate Bowman's record and views.

"One of only six Democrats to oppose the historic infrastructure bill," says one woman. "Just to stick it to President Biden," adds another in disgust.

Bowman said in 2021 that he'd voted against the infrastructure bill because it had been severed from a climate change and healthcare reform measure known as Build Back Better, though many of those priorities became law thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed in 2022. (Bowman voted for the latter bill.)

The spot then shifts to address reports from earlier this year about the congressman's questionable beliefs.

"Bowman even promoted dangerous conspiracy theories about 9/11," says another woman. "That's a disgrace."

In January, the Daily Beast's Will Bredderman revealed that Bowman had written a "free verse" poem embracing conspiracies about the attacks in 2011, which Bowman sought to dismiss as an old attempt at intellectual exploration. Just days, ago, however, Bredderman also reported that Bowman had subscribed to all manner of fringe channels on his YouTube account, including some operated by flat earthers and UFO obsessives.

The ad concludes with various individuals praising Latimer for "modernizing our infrastructure" and "protecting our reproductive rights."

 OR-03: State Rep. Maxine Dexter reported raising more than $218,000 on a single day recently, a haul that OPB's Dirk VanderHart says "appears" to be linked to the prominent pro-Israel group AIPAC.

Federal candidates normally report fundraising data on a quarterly basis, but in the 20 days prior to an election, FEC rules give them just 48 hours to declare any new donations of $1,000 or more. With Oregon's primary looming on May 21, that accelerated reporting period began earlier this month, prompting Dexter's disclosure.

VanderHart says that the "vast majority" of donors who gave to Dexter on May 7 "have a history of giving to AIPAC," though AIPAC itself did not comment. Dexter's campaign also noted that the group has not issued an endorsement in the Democratic primary for Oregon's 3rd District, a safely blue open seat based in Portland.

Dexter faces two notable rivals in the race to succeed retiring Rep. Earl Blumenauer: former Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal, who is the sister of Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, and Gresham City Councilor Eddy Morales.

Jayapal had led the pack in fundraising through the end of March, but a different set of reports that were due at the FEC on Thursday showed Dexter surging during the month of April. (Twelve days before their primaries, candidates must also file a pre-election report that details all fundraising from the end of the previous quarter through the 20th day before the primary. After that point, the 48-hour reporting rule for large donations goes into effect.)

In her pre-primary filing, Dexter reported raising $575,000 while Jayapal took in $160,000 and Morales pulled down $112,000. Dexter also outspent her opponents in April and entered the stretch run with more cash on hand. That advantage has only grown since then, though: While both Jayapal and Morales had each filed one 48-hour report through Friday, their total hauls were a more modest $18,000 and $8,000 respectively.

 TX-13, TX-22, TX-38: It's Texas Week for the House Ethics Committee, which issued announcements concerning inquiries into three different Lone Star Republicans on Thursday and Friday.

The committee revealed in a press release that it's investigating Rep. Ronny Jackson, who two years ago was the subject of a report by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics concerning alleged improper spending.

That earlier report, which the Ethics Committee did not reference in its release, concluded there was "substantial" evidence that Jackson had spent campaign money for membership at a private social club, which is prohibited by federal law.

At the time, an attorney for Jackson, who had refused to cooperate with the OCE's investigation, said the congressman had sought to use the membership for campaign events. In response to the latest developments, a spokesperson called the accusations "baseless," though she claimed that Jackson had "fully complied" with the committee.

Separately, the committee said it would extend a previously announced probe into Rep. Troy Nehls that began in March. It also released a report from the OCE saying there was "probable cause to believe" that Nehls had made personal use of campaign funds and had failed to provide required information on the annual financial disclosure forms that all members of Congress must file.

The OCE's report focuses on payments from Nehls' campaign to a company he owns called Liberty 1776, ostensibly to rent office space to run his campaign. However, Nehls listed a property run by an entity called Z-Bar as his headquarters on his FEC filings, though he never recorded paying any rent to Z-Bar and only made irregular payments to Liberty 1776.

An attorney for Nehls denied the OCE's allegations, and Nehls, like Jackson, has refused to cooperate with the office's investigation. He said, however, that he would cooperate with the Ethics Committee.

Finally, the committee acknowledged it's looking into Rep. Wesley Hunt, though there's been no reporting as to what this investigation might concern. A spokesperson for Hunt told the Dallas Morning News that the congressman was cooperating with the committee and was "extremely confident that the matter will be dismissed shortly."

All three Republicans secured renomination two months ago, and all of them are defending reliably red seats this fall.

 UT-03: Sen. Mitt Romney has endorsed attorney Stewart Peay in the race for Utah's open 3rd District, where he's one of five candidates hoping to succeed Rep. John Curtis, who himself is running to replace Romney. Peay's wife, Misha, is a niece of Romney's wife, Ann.

Ballot Measures

 FL Ballot, FL-Sen: A new survey of Florida from a Republican pollster finds an amendment to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution passing despite strong numbers for Republican candidates at the top of the ticket.

The poll, conducted by Cherry Communications for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, shows Amendment 4 earning the support of 61% of voters while just 29% are opposed; to become law, it needs to win a 60% supermajority. A separate measure known as Amendment 3 that would legalize recreational marijuana is just short of the threshold at 58-37.

In the race for Senate, though, Republican incumbent Rick Scott holds a wide 54-39 lead over his likely Democratic opponent, former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, while Donald Trump is up 51-42 against Joe Biden.

 NV Ballot: The Nevada Supreme Court has upheld a February ruling by a lower court that blocked a pair of amendments that would establish a bipartisan redistricting commission from appearing on the ballot this fall. That earlier ruling disallowed the amendments because they would not raise the revenue needed to operate the commission they sought to create.

Obituaries

 Chris Cannon: Former Utah Rep. Chris Cannon, an ardent conservative who lost renomination to Jason Chaffetz in the 2008 Republican primary, died Wednesday at age 73.

Cannon served six terms in Congress and compiled a very conservative voting record, but he also supported a pathway to citizenship and government benefits for some undocumented immigrants. His decisive defeat foreshadowed the direction his party was heading in a full eight years before the ascendence of Donald Trump was complete.

Cannon first won his seat in 1996 by unseating Democratic Rep. Bill Orton 51-47 in the 3rd District, and he went on to serve as one of 13 House managers in the 1999 impeachment trial of Bill Clinton. However, while Cannon never had trouble turning back Democrats, his views infuriated the GOP's nativist base.

"We love immigrants in Utah. We don’t make distinctions between legal and illegal," he said in 2002—comments that would be unthinkable for a Republican now.

Cannon passed his first major test in the 2004 primary when he held off former state Rep. Matt Throckmorton 58-42. Two years later, his 56-44 triumph over developer John Jacob in the primary was viewed by national observers as a major win for George W. Bush's immigration goals. (Jacob infamously told the Salt Lake Tribune ahead of that race, "There's another force that wants to keep us from going to Washington, D.C. It's the devil is what it is.")

However, Cannon's victories proved misleading. Chaffetz, a former chief of staff to Gov. Jon Huntsman, made a nativist pitch similar to that of Cannon's prior opponents while arguing that the party as a whole had "lost its way." Chaffetz won in a 60-40 landslide that presaged years of turbulence and waning influence for the old GOP establishment.

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: Democrats launch first stage of plan to flip Wisconsin Senate

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

WI State Senate: The Wisconsin Democratic Party announced on Wednesday that it plans to spend a hefty $7 million on TV ads in five state Senate districts, a sum the Associated Press' Todd Richmond says represents "the biggest ad buy of its kind Democrats in the state have ever made in legislative races."

The offensive comes after the state approved new legislative maps to replace Republican gerrymanders that the state Supreme Court struck down late last year. Energized by the new districts, which much more closely reflect Wisconsin's swingy nature, Democrats are fielding candidates in every Senate seat on the ballot for the first time in more than two decades.

Reclaiming their first majority since 2012, however, will likely take two election cycles because only 16 of the upper chamber's 33 seats are up this year. But making gains this fall is critical for Democrats to have a shot at flipping the chamber in 2026, when the other half of the Senate will go before voters.

Republicans won a 22-11 advantage in 2022, a two-thirds supermajority that would allow them to remove impeached state officials—a power they've threatened to wield but have yet to do so. They also hold a lopsided edge in the Assembly, which has the power to start impeachment proceedings with just a simple majority, though they're just short of the two-thirds threshold in the lower chamber.

But the new maps, which Democratic Gov. Tony Evers signed in February after it was passed by the legislature, will make it all but impossible for the GOP to retain those skewed margins.

That's because Joe Biden would have carried 18 Senate districts under the new boundaries compared to 15 for Donald Trump, according to VEST data from Dave's Redistricting App. That's a stark difference from the old map, which gave Trump a 22-11 edge—figures that mirror the Republicans' current numbers there.

In total, six Democratic-held seats will be on the ballot in 2024 compared with 10 for Republicans. Four of those 10 GOP seats went for Biden, giving Democrats the chance to win them all. Every Democratic seat, by contrast, was also won by Biden.

The AP's Richmond reports Wisconsin Democrats are targeting these four Biden-Republican seats, as well as one swingy Democratic constituency that could be vulnerable, with ads set to begin after the state's Aug. 13 primaries. In each case, the president's margin was in single digits, so all will be competitive affairs.

The Democrats' best pickup target may be the 18th District, an open seat that stretches from Appleton south to Oshkosh and favored Biden 53-45. Republicans will choose between physician Anthony Phillips and businessman Blong Yang. The Democratic frontrunner, meanwhile, is Appleton Alderperson Kristin Alfheim. (Wisconsin's filing deadline isn't until June 3, so the roster of candidates in each of these races may not be set.)

The GOP also doesn't have an incumbent defending the 30th District in the Green Bay area, which backed Biden by a smaller 51-47 spread. Business consultant Jamie Wall announced in March that he'd seek the Democratic nod to take on Republican Sen. Eric Wimberger, but the incumbent later opted to relocate to the dark red 2nd District next door. The GOP doesn't lack a candidate here, though, as Allouez Village President Jim Rafter launched a bid soon after Wimberger switched races.

Two Republican senators, meanwhile, are seeking reelection in competitive constituencies. Sen. Joan Ballweg is defending the 14th District to the north of Madison against Democrat Sarah Keyeski, who works as a mental health counselor. Biden also prevailed 51-47 here.

GOP Sen. Duey Stroebel, meanwhile, is trying to hold the 8th District, a seat in Milwaukee's northern suburbs that went for Biden by just half a percentage point. Environmental attorney Jodi Habush Sinykin, who rose to prominence in a competitive special election last year, has the Democratic nod to herself.

Habush Sinykin campaigned in 2023 for the previous version of the 8th, which favored Trump 52-47, in a contest that took place following former GOP Sen. Alberta Darling's resignation. Habush Sinykin outperformed those presidential baselines but narrowly lost to state Rep. Dan Knodl by a 51-49 margin.

But while Knodl's victory returned the GOP to supermajority status, he didn't have long to enjoy his promotion. The new maps placed Knodl and Stroebel in the same Senate district, prompting Knodl to run for his old seat in the Assembly rather than oppose his new colleague. (Knodl will instead take on Rep. Janel Brandtjen, an election denier he beat in last year's special election primary.)

Meanwhile, the only vulnerable Democratic-held seat up this year belongs to Sen. Brad Pfaff, whose 32nd District around La Crosse favored Biden 52-46. Pfaff lost a close contest in 2022 for the 3rd Congressional District to Republican Derrick Van Orden, but he opted to seek reelection rather than try for a rematch.

Pfaff's only announced Republican opponent is Trempealeau County Board member Stacey Klein, who abandoned her hopeless campaign to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin last month to instead run for the legislature.

Should Democrats run the table by holding all their current seats and flipping the four Biden-Republican districts, the GOP would still hold a small 18-15 advantage overall. It's unlikely Democrats can hope for much more this year because the remaining six Republican seats all went for Trump by double-digit margins, though three more winnable Biden districts held by Republicans will be up in 2026.

These Senate races won't be the only closely watched legislative contests in the state, though, as Democrats are also working to flip the Assembly. And unlike in the Senate, Democrats have a chance to secure a majority this year: While the GOP holds an imposing 64-35 majority, all 99 representatives are up for new two-year terms. (Members of the assembly, somewhat confusingly, hold the title of representative rather than assemblymember or something similar.)

Trump carried 64 districts under the old boundaries, which, like the Senate, matches the number of constituencies his party holds. However, Trump took just 50 seats under the new map, which gives Democrats the chance to take their first majority since the 2010 red wave.

Senate

MD-Sen: Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin reports that EMILYs List has now spent a total of $2.5 million on ads to help Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks beat Rep. David Trone in Tuesday's Democratic primary. EMILYs previously reported spending $1.6 million on television and digital platforms in FEC documents filed May 3.

NV-Sen: A billionaire-backed super PAC supporting Army veteran Sam Brown is now running ads attacking former diplomat Jeff Gunter despite a poll last month that showed Brown with a monster lead in Nevada's June 11 GOP primary.

The new spot for Duty First Nevada, which is chiefly funded by software company mogul David Duffield, hammers Gunter, a dermatologist appointed by Donald Trump as ambassador to Iceland in 2018, as an "infomercial doctor" and "longtime California Democrat" who "cashed in telling seniors he could reverse their age."

The ad features clips of those late-night infomercials, in which Gunter hawked a purported wrinkle-removing "serum" under the auspices of an outfit he created called the "Youthology Research Institute."

The commercial goes on to claim Gunter has never voted in Nevada and didn't vote for Trump's reelection in 2020. The Daily Beast's Sam Brodey reported last year that Gunter registered to vote as a Democrat in 2000 in California, where he grew up and started his medical practice and that he last cast a ballot in the Golden State in 2018.

Brodey also wrote that there's no record of Gunter voting anywhere in 2020. The longtime Nevada property owner registered to vote in the Silver State the following year, but he does not appear to have returned the 2022 absentee ballot he requested. (Gunter made that request from California.)

Duty First Nevada has yet to file reports detailing its spending on this new ad campaign, but it previously spent $1.2 million to boost Brown's campaign. That the PAC feels it necessary to get involved to this degree is something of a surprise, though, as an early April survey for the NRSC, which is backing Brown, showed him with a 58-3 lead on Gunter.

House

MD-03: Retiring Sen. Ben Cardin expressed his support for state Sen. Sarah Elfreth's bid for the Democratic nomination in Maryland's open 3rd Congressional District, both appearing with her at a campaign event and telling the Baltimore Sun in a statement that "she is ready for the job." Cardin himself represented previous versions of the safely blue 3rd District for the 20 years preceding his successful Senate bid in 2006.

According to the Sun's Dana Munro, Cardin's team claims his involvement in the race for his old seat did not constitute "a formal endorsement," but of course, there's no such thing as a formal endorsement. And as we always note when politicians insist on playing games like this, actions speak far louder than words.

It's particularly unclear why Cardin would even want to hedge in this case, since he offered effusive praise for Elfreth, calling her "one of our great leaders" on climate change and saying she "knows how to get things accomplished." Regardless of what Cardin might call it, we call that an endorsement.

Elfreth is an apparent frontrunner in the massive 21-candidate primary that will take place next week, along with former Capitol police officer Harry Dunn. Dunn has raised more than $4.5 million for his campaign while Elfreth has benefited from almost $4.2 million in spending from the United Democracy Project, a super PAC affiliated with AIPAC.

But while UDP had previously stuck to airing positive ads for most of the campaign, it just deployed a new commercial that argues Dunn should be "ashamed of himself" for running negative spots against Elfreth. (Those Dunn ads went after the state senator for benefiting from spending from AIPAC, which his narrator characterized as a "right-wing SuperPAC funded by Trump donors.")

UDP's new spot doesn't say anything more about Dunn, though. Instead, it moves on to praise Elfreth as a loyal Democrat who is "as anti-Trump as they come." Another ad focuses entirely on reproductive rights and doesn't mention Dunn.

MD-06: Former Commerce Department official April McClain Delaney has released an internal poll from Garin-Hart-Yang that shows her leading Del. Joe Vogel 37-24 in Tuesday's Democratic primary, with 22% undecided and the balance split between the rest of the field. (A total of 16 names are listed on the ballot, though some candidates have dropped out.)

Delaney publicized her survey days after Vogel's allies at Equality PAC released a late April poll from Public Policy Polling that showed the two deadlocked 24-24 in the contest to replace Senate candidate David Trone, a fellow Democrat. We have not seen any other recent polls.

NH-02: Maggie Goodlander, a former official in the Biden administration who had reportedly been considering a bid for New Hampshire's open 2nd District, joined the September primary for the Democratic nomination on Thursday.

Goodlander, who was once an aide to the late Sens. Joe Lieberman and John McCain, has deep connections to the White House. The Boston Globe's James Pindell last month characterized her as part of an "elite circle of aides to President Biden," which includes her husband, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

Goodlander grew up in the 2nd District (her mother, Betty Tamposi, lost a close GOP primary for a previous version of the seat in 1988), and she touted her local roots in her kickoff. However, Pindell notes that she and Sullivan purchased a home in 2018 in Portsmouth, which is located in the 1st District. Goodlander says she recently signed a lease for a residence in her hometown of Nashua in the 2nd.

Goodlander is the third notable Democrat to enter the race, following state Sen. Becky Whitley and former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern, who has the endorsement of retiring Rep. Annie Kuster.

NJ-10: Hudson County Commission Jerry Walker has joined the July 16 Democratic primary for the special election to replace Rep. Donald Payne Jr., who died last month. Candidate filing for the race for this safely blue seat in the Newark area closes at 4 PM ET today.

SC-04: Rep. William Timmons is now airing negative ads against state Rep. Adam Morgan ahead of their June 11 Republican primary showdown for South Carolina's 4th District, a safely red constituency in the Greenville area. The narrator accuses Morgan of missing "over 400 votes" in the legislature before reminding viewers that Timmons has Donald Trump's endorsement.

Morgan, who chairs his chamber's far-right Freedom Caucus, received an endorsement this week from the eponymous congressional group. Republicans in Congress who resent the antics of the nihilistic caucus, though, got a new reason this week to dread what might happen if Morgan were to join the House.

The final days of South Carolina's legislative session were defined by a chaotic battle between Morgan's Freedom Caucus and the rest of the GOP-led state House. Morgan upset most of his fellow Republicans when he unsuccessfully attempted to bar state agencies from sending voter registration forms to non-citizens.

"These are stunts … circus antics, people," said one exasperated Republican, state Rep. Gil Gatch. Micah Caskey, another Republican lawmaker who is no fan of Morgan's crew, went even further by addressing the lower chamber while donning a tinfoil hat labeled "South Carolina Freedom Caucus."

Obituaries

Pete McCloskey: Former California Rep. Pete McCloskey, a liberal Republican who rose to national prominence in 1972 by challenging President Richard Nixon for renomination as an anti-Vietnam War candidate, died Wednesday at age 96. McCloskey, as Margaret O'Mara wrote in her book "The Code," also played a role in Silicon Valley's rise as a technological powerhouse.

McCloskey first made his mark in politics in 1967 by beating another well-known Republican, former child star Shirley Temple Black, 34-22 in the first round of an all-party special election for a House seat in the Bay Area. (McCloskey's surprise win was the basis of a 1968 nonfiction book, "The Sinking of the Lollipop.")

McCloskey easily won the general election and served in the House for many years. In 1982, however, he sought a promotion to the Senate but ended with a 38-25 loss in the primary to the eventual winner, San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson. You can find much more about McCloskey's eventful career, including a quixotic 2006 primary bid against a conservative congressman that helped Democrats flip the Bay Area's last GOP-held seat, in the San Jose Mercury News' obituary.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now? Federal prosecutors have re-indicted former Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry for lying to federal agents in connection with an effort to funnel $30,000 to Fortenberry's campaign via straw donors.

While Fortenberry was convicted by a jury in Los Angeles in 2022, a federal appeals court overturned his conviction late last year, saying prosecutors had tried him in the wrong jurisdiction.

The Department of Justice had brought charges against Fortenberry in Los Angeles, where the straw-donor scheme was originally put in motion by a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire. However, the false statements for which the jury convicted the then-congressman were made in Washington, D.C., and at his home in Lincoln, Nebraska. To resolve the problem, prosecutors have brought their renewed charges in D.C.

Fortenberry announced his resignation from Nebraska's conservative 1st District two days after his conviction in 2022. He was sentenced later that year to two years' probation, 320 hours of community service, and a $25,000 fine. In a statement responding to the new charges, an attorney for Fortenberry did not appear to address his client's culpability but rather accused the Justice Department of "overzealous prosecution."

Poll Pile

  • NC-Gov: Cygnal (R) for Carolina Journal: Josh Stein (D): 39, Mark Robinson (R): 39, Mike Ross (L): 4, Wayne Turner (G): 1 (43-38 Trump) (April: 40-38 Robinson)
  • NC Supreme Court: Cygnal (R) for Carolina Journal: Jefferson Griffin (R): 40, Allison Riggs (D-inc): 39

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: Democrats launch first stage of plan to flip Wisconsin Senate

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

WI State Senate: The Wisconsin Democratic Party announced on Wednesday that it plans to spend a hefty $7 million on TV ads in five state Senate districts, a sum the Associated Press' Todd Richmond says represents "the biggest ad buy of its kind Democrats in the state have ever made in legislative races."

The offensive comes after the state approved new legislative maps to replace Republican gerrymanders that the state Supreme Court struck down late last year. Energized by the new districts, which much more closely reflect Wisconsin's swingy nature, Democrats are fielding candidates in every Senate seat on the ballot for the first time in more than two decades.

Reclaiming their first majority since 2012, however, will likely take two election cycles because only 16 of the upper chamber's 33 seats are up this year. But making gains this fall is critical for Democrats to have a shot at flipping the chamber in 2026, when the other half of the Senate will go before voters.

Republicans won a 22-11 advantage in 2022, a two-thirds supermajority that would allow them to remove impeached state officials—a power they've threatened to wield but have yet to do so. They also hold a lopsided edge in the Assembly, which has the power to start impeachment proceedings with just a simple majority, though they're just short of the two-thirds threshold in the lower chamber.

But the new maps, which Democratic Gov. Tony Evers signed in February after it was passed by the legislature, will make it all but impossible for the GOP to retain those skewed margins.

That's because Joe Biden would have carried 18 Senate districts under the new boundaries compared to 15 for Donald Trump, according to VEST data from Dave's Redistricting App. That's a stark difference from the old map, which gave Trump a 22-11 edge—figures that mirror the Republicans' current numbers there.

In total, six Democratic-held seats will be on the ballot in 2024 compared with 10 for Republicans. Four of those 10 GOP seats went for Biden, giving Democrats the chance to win them all. Every Democratic seat, by contrast, was also won by Biden.

The AP's Richmond reports Wisconsin Democrats are targeting these four Biden-Republican seats, as well as one swingy Democratic constituency that could be vulnerable, with ads set to begin after the state's Aug. 13 primaries. In each case, the president's margin was in single digits, so all will be competitive affairs.

The Democrats' best pickup target may be the 18th District, an open seat that stretches from Appleton south to Oshkosh and favored Biden 53-45. Republicans will choose between physician Anthony Phillips and businessman Blong Yang. The Democratic frontrunner, meanwhile, is Appleton Alderperson Kristin Alfheim. (Wisconsin's filing deadline isn't until June 3, so the roster of candidates in each of these races may not be set.)

The GOP also doesn't have an incumbent defending the 30th District in the Green Bay area, which backed Biden by a smaller 51-47 spread. Business consultant Jamie Wall announced in March that he'd seek the Democratic nod to take on Republican Sen. Eric Wimberger, but the incumbent later opted to relocate to the dark red 2nd District next door. The GOP doesn't lack a candidate here, though, as Allouez Village President Jim Rafter launched a bid soon after Wimberger switched races.

Two Republican senators, meanwhile, are seeking reelection in competitive constituencies. Sen. Joan Ballweg is defending the 14th District to the north of Madison against Democrat Sarah Keyeski, who works as a mental health counselor. Biden also prevailed 51-47 here.

GOP Sen. Duey Stroebel, meanwhile, is trying to hold the 8th District, a seat in Milwaukee's northern suburbs that went for Biden by just half a percentage point. Environmental attorney Jodi Habush Sinykin, who rose to prominence in a competitive special election last year, has the Democratic nod to herself.

Habush Sinykin campaigned in 2023 for the previous version of the 8th, which favored Trump 52-47, in a contest that took place following former GOP Sen. Alberta Darling's resignation. Habush Sinykin outperformed those presidential baselines but narrowly lost to state Rep. Dan Knodl by a 51-49 margin.

But while Knodl's victory returned the GOP to supermajority status, he didn't have long to enjoy his promotion. The new maps placed Knodl and Stroebel in the same Senate district, prompting Knodl to run for his old seat in the Assembly rather than oppose his new colleague. (Knodl will instead take on Rep. Janel Brandtjen, an election denier he beat in last year's special election primary.)

Meanwhile, the only vulnerable Democratic-held seat up this year belongs to Sen. Brad Pfaff, whose 32nd District around La Crosse favored Biden 52-46. Pfaff lost a close contest in 2022 for the 3rd Congressional District to Republican Derrick Van Orden, but he opted to seek reelection rather than try for a rematch.

Pfaff's only announced Republican opponent is Trempealeau County Board member Stacey Klein, who abandoned her hopeless campaign to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin last month to instead run for the legislature.

Should Democrats run the table by holding all their current seats and flipping the four Biden-Republican districts, the GOP would still hold a small 18-15 advantage overall. It's unlikely Democrats can hope for much more this year because the remaining six Republican seats all went for Trump by double-digit margins, though three more winnable Biden districts held by Republicans will be up in 2026.

These Senate races won't be the only closely watched legislative contests in the state, though, as Democrats are also working to flip the Assembly. And unlike in the Senate, Democrats have a chance to secure a majority this year: While the GOP holds an imposing 64-35 majority, all 99 representatives are up for new two-year terms. (Members of the assembly, somewhat confusingly, hold the title of representative rather than assemblymember or something similar.)

Trump carried 64 districts under the old boundaries, which, like the Senate, matches the number of constituencies his party holds. However, Trump took just 50 seats under the new map, which gives Democrats the chance to take their first majority since the 2010 red wave.

Senate

MD-Sen: Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin reports that EMILYs List has now spent a total of $2.5 million on ads to help Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks beat Rep. David Trone in Tuesday's Democratic primary. EMILYs previously reported spending $1.6 million on television and digital platforms in FEC documents filed May 3.

NV-Sen: A billionaire-backed super PAC supporting Army veteran Sam Brown is now running ads attacking former diplomat Jeff Gunter despite a poll last month that showed Brown with a monster lead in Nevada's June 11 GOP primary.

The new spot for Duty First Nevada, which is chiefly funded by software company mogul David Duffield, hammers Gunter, a dermatologist appointed by Donald Trump as ambassador to Iceland in 2018, as an "infomercial doctor" and "longtime California Democrat" who "cashed in telling seniors he could reverse their age."

The ad features clips of those late-night infomercials, in which Gunter hawked a purported wrinkle-removing "serum" under the auspices of an outfit he created called the "Youthology Research Institute."

The commercial goes on to claim Gunter has never voted in Nevada and didn't vote for Trump's reelection in 2020. The Daily Beast's Sam Brodey reported last year that Gunter registered to vote as a Democrat in 2000 in California, where he grew up and started his medical practice and that he last cast a ballot in the Golden State in 2018.

Brodey also wrote that there's no record of Gunter voting anywhere in 2020. The longtime Nevada property owner registered to vote in the Silver State the following year, but he does not appear to have returned the 2022 absentee ballot he requested. (Gunter made that request from California.)

Duty First Nevada has yet to file reports detailing its spending on this new ad campaign, but it previously spent $1.2 million to boost Brown's campaign. That the PAC feels it necessary to get involved to this degree is something of a surprise, though, as an early April survey for the NRSC, which is backing Brown, showed him with a 58-3 lead on Gunter.

House

MD-03: Retiring Sen. Ben Cardin expressed his support for state Sen. Sarah Elfreth's bid for the Democratic nomination in Maryland's open 3rd Congressional District, both appearing with her at a campaign event and telling the Baltimore Sun in a statement that "she is ready for the job." Cardin himself represented previous versions of the safely blue 3rd District for the 20 years preceding his successful Senate bid in 2006.

According to the Sun's Dana Munro, Cardin's team claims his involvement in the race for his old seat did not constitute "a formal endorsement," but of course, there's no such thing as a formal endorsement. And as we always note when politicians insist on playing games like this, actions speak far louder than words.

It's particularly unclear why Cardin would even want to hedge in this case, since he offered effusive praise for Elfreth, calling her "one of our great leaders" on climate change and saying she "knows how to get things accomplished." Regardless of what Cardin might call it, we call that an endorsement.

Elfreth is an apparent frontrunner in the massive 21-candidate primary that will take place next week, along with former Capitol police officer Harry Dunn. Dunn has raised more than $4.5 million for his campaign while Elfreth has benefited from almost $4.2 million in spending from the United Democracy Project, a super PAC affiliated with AIPAC.

But while UDP had previously stuck to airing positive ads for most of the campaign, it just deployed a new commercial that argues Dunn should be "ashamed of himself" for running negative spots against Elfreth. (Those Dunn ads went after the state senator for benefiting from spending from AIPAC, which his narrator characterized as a "right-wing SuperPAC funded by Trump donors.")

UDP's new spot doesn't say anything more about Dunn, though. Instead, it moves on to praise Elfreth as a loyal Democrat who is "as anti-Trump as they come." Another ad focuses entirely on reproductive rights and doesn't mention Dunn.

MD-06: Former Commerce Department official April McClain Delaney has released an internal poll from Garin-Hart-Yang that shows her leading Del. Joe Vogel 37-24 in Tuesday's Democratic primary, with 22% undecided and the balance split between the rest of the field. (A total of 16 names are listed on the ballot, though some candidates have dropped out.)

Delaney publicized her survey days after Vogel's allies at Equality PAC released a late April poll from Public Policy Polling that showed the two deadlocked 24-24 in the contest to replace Senate candidate David Trone, a fellow Democrat. We have not seen any other recent polls.

NH-02: Maggie Goodlander, a former official in the Biden administration who had reportedly been considering a bid for New Hampshire's open 2nd District, joined the September primary for the Democratic nomination on Thursday.

Goodlander, who was once an aide to the late Sens. Joe Lieberman and John McCain, has deep connections to the White House. The Boston Globe's James Pindell last month characterized her as part of an "elite circle of aides to President Biden," which includes her husband, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

Goodlander grew up in the 2nd District (her mother, Betty Tamposi, lost a close GOP primary for a previous version of the seat in 1988), and she touted her local roots in her kickoff. However, Pindell notes that she and Sullivan purchased a home in 2018 in Portsmouth, which is located in the 1st District. Goodlander says she recently signed a lease for a residence in her hometown of Nashua in the 2nd.

Goodlander is the third notable Democrat to enter the race, following state Sen. Becky Whitley and former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern, who has the endorsement of retiring Rep. Annie Kuster.

NJ-10: Hudson County Commission Jerry Walker has joined the July 16 Democratic primary for the special election to replace Rep. Donald Payne Jr., who died last month. Candidate filing for the race for this safely blue seat in the Newark area closes at 4 PM ET today.

SC-04: Rep. William Timmons is now airing negative ads against state Rep. Adam Morgan ahead of their June 11 Republican primary showdown for South Carolina's 4th District, a safely red constituency in the Greenville area. The narrator accuses Morgan of missing "over 400 votes" in the legislature before reminding viewers that Timmons has Donald Trump's endorsement.

Morgan, who chairs his chamber's far-right Freedom Caucus, received an endorsement this week from the eponymous congressional group. Republicans in Congress who resent the antics of the nihilistic caucus, though, got a new reason this week to dread what might happen if Morgan were to join the House.

The final days of South Carolina's legislative session were defined by a chaotic battle between Morgan's Freedom Caucus and the rest of the GOP-led state House. Morgan upset most of his fellow Republicans when he unsuccessfully attempted to bar state agencies from sending voter registration forms to non-citizens.

"These are stunts … circus antics, people," said one exasperated Republican, state Rep. Gil Gatch. Micah Caskey, another Republican lawmaker who is no fan of Morgan's crew, went even further by addressing the lower chamber while donning a tinfoil hat labeled "South Carolina Freedom Caucus."

Obituaries

Pete McCloskey: Former California Rep. Pete McCloskey, a liberal Republican who rose to national prominence in 1972 by challenging President Richard Nixon for renomination as an anti-Vietnam War candidate, died Wednesday at age 96. McCloskey, as Margaret O'Mara wrote in her book "The Code," also played a role in Silicon Valley's rise as a technological powerhouse.

McCloskey first made his mark in politics in 1967 by beating another well-known Republican, former child star Shirley Temple Black, 34-22 in the first round of an all-party special election for a House seat in the Bay Area. (McCloskey's surprise win was the basis of a 1968 nonfiction book, "The Sinking of the Lollipop.")

McCloskey easily won the general election and served in the House for many years. In 1982, however, he sought a promotion to the Senate but ended with a 38-25 loss in the primary to the eventual winner, San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson. You can find much more about McCloskey's eventful career, including a quixotic 2006 primary bid against a conservative congressman that helped Democrats flip the Bay Area's last GOP-held seat, in the San Jose Mercury News' obituary.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now? Federal prosecutors have re-indicted former Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry for lying to federal agents in connection with an effort to funnel $30,000 to Fortenberry's campaign via straw donors.

While Fortenberry was convicted by a jury in Los Angeles in 2022, a federal appeals court overturned his conviction late last year, saying prosecutors had tried him in the wrong jurisdiction.

The Department of Justice had brought charges against Fortenberry in Los Angeles, where the straw-donor scheme was originally put in motion by a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire. However, the false statements for which the jury convicted the then-congressman were made in Washington, D.C., and at his home in Lincoln, Nebraska. To resolve the problem, prosecutors have brought their renewed charges in D.C.

Fortenberry announced his resignation from Nebraska's conservative 1st District two days after his conviction in 2022. He was sentenced later that year to two years' probation, 320 hours of community service, and a $25,000 fine. In a statement responding to the new charges, an attorney for Fortenberry did not appear to address his client's culpability but rather accused the Justice Department of "overzealous prosecution."

Poll Pile

  • NC-Gov: Cygnal (R) for Carolina Journal: Josh Stein (D): 39, Mark Robinson (R): 39, Mike Ross (L): 4, Wayne Turner (G): 1 (43-38 Trump) (April: 40-38 Robinson)
  • NC Supreme Court: Cygnal (R) for Carolina Journal: Jefferson Griffin (R): 40, Allison Riggs (D-inc): 39

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: Florida Republican colludes with preferred successor to hand off House seat

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

FL-08: Republican Rep. Bill Posey essentially handed off his House seat to former state Senate President Mike Haridopolos on Friday when the eight-term incumbent unexpectedly announced his retirement and endorsement shortly after candidate filing closed in Florida. Haridopolos hasn't sought public office since his disastrous U.S. Senate bid ended prematurely 13 years ago, but he's now on a glide path to Congress.  

Posey, who filed to run again on April 9, said he was ending his campaign after it was too late for anyone else to run because of unspecified "circumstances beyond my control." He also acknowledged he'd previously discussed his decision with Haridopolos, who filed to run only an hour before the deadline, claiming the "stars aligned during the past week and Mike decided he was ready for Congress."

Donald Trump carried the 8th District, which is based in the Cape Canaveral area, by a comfortable 58-41 margin, so the winner of the Aug. 20 GOP primary should have no trouble claiming this seat in the fall. Apart from Haridopolos, the only two Republicans running are a pair of candidates who were waging little-noticed challenges to Posey, businessman John Hearton and attorney Joe Babits.

Both Hearton and Babits had done some self-funding when they expected to be running against Posey, but it remains to be seen if they can throw down enough to give Haridopolos a hard time. Hearton loaned his campaign $140,000 and had $100,000 on hand at the end of last month, while Babits had invested $82,000 in his own effort but had just $13,000 left over. Neither had raised a meaningful sum from donors.

By conspiring with Posey, Haridopolos prevented anyone stronger from entering the race, even though an open seat would likely have attracted other established politicians. While the Sunshine State allows candidates to get on the primary ballot by collecting signatures, they can avoid this time-consuming process by paying a $10,400 fee. That allows anyone who has the money to submit their names right as the clock expires, an option Haridopolos readily took advantage of on Friday.

A few states have laws in place that try to prevent this sort of collusion. In Nebraska, for example, all incumbents are required to file two weeks before everyone else, even if they're running for a different office than the one they currently hold.

California, meanwhile, automatically extends the candidate filing deadline by five days in races where an incumbent chooses not to run for reelection. And Missouri reopens its filing period in contests where any candidate, incumbent or otherwise, withdraws within two business days of the original deadline.

Florida, though, has no such preventive measures, which is why we've seen this kind of maneuver before. Another Republican, Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, took advantage of this loophole in 2010 when she announced on the final day of candidate filing that she was abandoning her reelection campaign for health reasons and said that Hernando County Sheriff Rich Nugent would run in her place. The swap worked, and Nugent easily won three terms before retiring―albeit long before the 2016 filing deadline.

However, Haridopolos' detractors may have some hope that if one of his intra-party opponents can get organized, his comeback bid will go as well as his last effort to enter Congress.

Haridopolos was serving as leader of the state Senate in early 2011 when he launched a campaign to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and initially looked like a frontrunner. Those impressions were solidified when he hauled in a hefty $2.6 million during his opening quarter, which was more than the incumbent brought in.

However, what followed was a campaign that the Miami Herald would summarize months later with the headline, "Anatomy of a meltdown: How Mike Haridopolos U.S. Senate campaign fell apart and ended." (The full article isn't online anymore, but attorney Nicholas Warren posted a copy of the print edition.)

In particular, Haridopolos was harmed by his connections to former state party chair Jim Greer, who would eventually plead guilty to theft and money laundering. The state Senate leader also attracted negative publicity over a book deal that awarded him $150,000 in public funds to write a college textbook on government that resulted in just a single copy getting produced.

Haridopolos made many more mistakes during his campaign, including taking three tries to explain how he stood on Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's unpopular plan to cut Medicare. His decision to come out in opposition did not help his standing with tea party activists who already resented how what had been hyped as "the most conservative" state Senate in state history failed to pass anti-immigration laws modeled after the hardline provisions Arizona had put into place the previous year. 

Haridopolos' bid was further beset by infighting and staff shakeups. His vaunted fundraising also plummeted in the second quarter, with observers noting that, while the special interests who had business before the legislature were initially eager to contribute, they had no reason to keep doing so once the body adjourned.

Haridopolos pulled the plug on his doomed effort in July, though things didn't go any better for his party after he dropped out. Rep. Connie Mack IV eventually ran and secured the nomination only to lose to Nelson 55-42

After leaving the legislature the following year, Haridopolos occasionally mulled a comeback, but he decided not to campaign for an open state Senate seat in 2016. Instead, he became a lobbyist and spent the next decade using leftover money from his failed bid against Nelson to boost a pro-Trump super PAC, legislative candidates, and other entities such as the state GOP. He eventually terminated his campaign in 2022, more than a decade after he'd ceased running.

Posey, for his part, easily won a promotion from the state Senate to Congress in 2008 when GOP Rep. Dave Weldon retired—though unlike Posey, Weldon announced his departure well in advance of the filing deadline. (Weldon lost the 2012 Senate primary to Mack, but he's now campaigning for a seat in the state House.)

Posey made national news early in his first term when he introduced a bill to require presidential candidates to submit a copy of their birth certificate. The congressman unconvincingly denied that his proposal, which critics quickly dubbed the "birther" bill, was targeted at President Barack Obama. But Posey never struggled to hold his seat and remained an ardent hardliner throughout his tenure, though he was soon overshadowed by louder voices like fellow Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Senate

UT-Sen: The Republican field to succeed Utah Sen. Mitt Romney shrunk from 10 candidates to four over the weekend when convention delegates overwhelmingly backed Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs, who received Donald Trump's endorsement hours before the event began.

"Let’s replace Joe Biden’s favorite Republican with Donald Trump’s favorite Republican in Utah," Staggs told the crowd, and the room full of hardline delegates eagerly responded to his pitch.   

Staggs earned 70% of the vote on the fourth and final round of voting, which gives him a spot on the June 25 primary ballot. The Deseret News writes that, because the mayor exceeded 60%, he also gets access to the state GOP's "resources and organization."

Rep. John Curtis was a distant second with 30%, but, because he turned in the requisite 28,000 signatures, he was guaranteed a place in the primary no matter how the convention went. The same was also true for two other Republicans, former state House Speaker Brad Wilson and businessman Jason Walton. The eventual nominee will be the favorite in November in this dark red state.

Staggs, by contrast, was one of seven Republicans who didn’t collect signatures and therefore needed to secure the support of at least 40% of the delegates to continue his campaign. In the end, he was the only contender to come anywhere close to hitting that threshold. Conservative activist Carolyn Phippen, attorney Brent Orrin Hatch, and four minor candidates were not so fortunate, so their campaigns are now over.

The development was a particularly big blow for allies of Hatch, who is the son and namesake of the late Sen. Orrin Hatch. The younger Hatch, who served as treasurer of the right-wing Federalist Society, benefited from $1.8 million in outside spending from a group funded by the Club for Growth and spent a sizable sum himself. But Hatch learned Thursday evening that he had failed to turn in enough signatures to survive a convention loss, which is exactly how things turned out for him when he took less than 2% of the vote.

By contrast, Staggs, who began running as a hard-right alternative to Romney months before the incumbent announced his retirement, has raised by far the least of any of the four candidates who will be on the June ballot. However, his support from Trump, who extolled him as "100% MAGA," could help him overcome his fundraising difficulties.

Wilson, meanwhile, has led the pack financially in large part to about $3 million in self-funding. The former speaker has touted his work passing conservative legislation, though unlike most candidates in the Trump-era GOP, he's pledged to work with members of Congress from both parties who "also care about this country’s future and want to solve some of the biggest problems."

Curtis has raised by far the most from donors, though he's already benefited from more than $3 million in support from a super PAC funded by North Carolina businessman Jay Faison. Curtis, a one-time Democrat who has at times criticized GOP extremists and called for protecting the environment, comes closest in temperament to the outgoing incumbent, though Romney himself has not taken sides.

Finally, Walton, who is CEO of a pest control company, has self-financed his campaign almost as much as Wilson, putting in at least $2.5 million. Walton has promoted himself as an ally of Utah's other member of the upper chamber, far-right Sen. Mike Lee, though Lee has yet to make an endorsement in this contest.

Utah’s Senate contest was the final race that delegates voted on after a nearly 17-hour convention that stretched well into the wee hours of Sunday morning. ("This is officially the longest I've ever been at any political convention, and I've been coming to these things since 2001," Bryan Schott from the Salt Lake Tribune posted on social media with an hour still to go.) See below for recaps of the action in the state’s races for governor and the House.

Governors

UT-Gov: State Rep. Phil Lyman beat Gov. Spencer Cox 68-32 on the convention floor, but the governor had already earned a spot in the June 25 GOP primary by turning in signatures. That was not the case for former state GOP chair Carson Jorgensen and two little-known contenders, who are now done.

"Maybe you hate that I don’t hate enough," Cox told his detractors in a convention speech, but he has reason to be optimistic that the primary electorate will be more charitable than delegates. Back in 2016, another sitting governor, Gary Herbert, lost at the convention by a 55-44 margin against businessman Jonathan Johnson only to win the primary in a 72-28 landslide two months later. Cox, incidentally, was Herbert's running mate that year (candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run together as a ticket in both the primary and general elections).

Lyman, meanwhile, may have some issues with his own pick for lieutenant governor. The state representative announced the day of the convention that he'd chosen former Trump administration official Layne Bangerter to be his number-two, but while Bangerter grew up in Utah, he says he only moved back to the state from Idaho in 2021. That's a potential problem because, as the Salt Lake Tribune notes, the state constitution requires candidates for both governor and lieutenant governor to have been Utah residents "for five years next preceding the election."

Lyman responded by downplaying the issue. "I won’t be surprised if it’s challenged. I hope it’s not, but if it is, I think we’ll win it," he told the Tribune. "I’ve talked to a number of attorneys over the last few days. That was a huge concern right up front."

Lyman, for his part, ran afoul of federal law in 2015 when, as a San Juan County commissioner, he was convicted after leading an all-terrain vehicle group through a canyon the federal government had closed to protect Native American cliff dwellings. Prosecutors alleged that he recruited people who had recently taken part in far-right militant Cliven Bundy's armed standoff with federal law enforcement officials.

Lyman spent 10 days in prison, though Trump later pardoned him in late 2020. Lyman has since made a name for himself by advancing lies about the 2020 and 2022 elections.

He also attracted national attention following the collapse of Maryland’s Francis Scott Key Bridge when he retweeted a post claiming that a Black woman on the state’s Port Commission was a "diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) auditor and consultant."

"This is what happens when you have governors who prioritize diversity over the wellbeing and security of citizens," Lyman said. He told the Tribune that the tweet, as well as a follow-up saying, "DEI=DIE," came from a staffer without his approval. However, Lyman refused to apologize, and the first missive was still up more than a month later.

As of mid-April, Herbert enjoyed a $990,000 to $638,000 cash advantage over Lyman. Most of the challenger's funds came from a mysterious new company that appears to be connected to his family and a large loan from a former Texas congressional candidate named Johnny Slavens.

WV-Gov: Allies of former Del. Moore Capito at the Coalition for West Virginia's Future have released a new poll from NMB Research showing Capito with a 31-23 lead over state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey ahead of the May 14 GOP primary for governor. That makes this the first poll released all year to give top honors to Capito, who recently earned an endorsement from term-limited Gov. Jim Justice.

The survey also finds businessman Chris Miller and Secretary of State Mac Warner far behind at 14 and 13 respectively, while another 18% are undecided. For much of the race, Morrisey's buddies at the Club for Growth had treated Miller as their top threat, but earlier this month, the Club also began training its fire on Capito.

The campaign has descended into an ugly contest in which each candidate has sought to prove they're the most transphobic. The winner will be the overwhelming favorite to succeed Justice in November.

House

FL-15, FL-20: Freshman GOP Rep. Laurel Lee and Democratic Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick both got some welcome news Friday when, despite intense speculation to the contrary, no big names filed to challenge either incumbent.

However, while Cherfilus-McCormick is unopposed in both the primary and general elections for her dark blue 20th District in South Florida, Lee still could face a tough battle to hold her light red 15th District in the Tampa area.

Lee infuriated Donald Trump last year when she became the only member of Florida's congressional delegation to support Gov. Ron DeSantis' doomed presidential bid, but only two failed House candidates answered his call last month for "great MAGA Republicans" looking to beat Lee to “PLEASE STEP FORWARD!” 

One of these contenders is businessman James Judge, who ran against Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor in 2022 in the solidly blue 14th District next door and predictably lost 57-43. This cycle, Judge had been waging another longshot bid, this time against GOP Rep. Gus Bilirakis in the neighboring 12th District, and ended March with just $27,000 in the bank

Earlier this month, though, Judge announced he would heed Trump's plea and campaign for a third House seat by going after Lee. Judge, however, lives in Dade City back in the 12th, though House members don't need to reside in the district they represent.

But Judge, unlike Lee's other intra-party foe, can at least say he ran as a Florida Republican. Jennifer Barbosa, who only set up a fundraising account with the FEC on April 23, challenged California Rep. Adam Schiff in 2020—and did so as an independent. That campaign ended with her taking a distant fourth place in the top-two primary with less than 6% of the vote

Another Republican, Navy veteran Brian Perras, did not file by Friday even though he announced he was in earlier this month. 

Despite Judge's and Barbosa's unimpressive campaign histories, however, it's possible Trump hates Lee enough to give one of her opponents a boost by rewarding them with his endorsement. That would probably be fine with Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp, who has no Democratic primary opposition as she tries to flip a seat Trump took by a modest 51-48 margin in 2020

Cherfilus-McCormick, by contrast, learned Friday she wouldn't have to get past 2 Live Crew rapper Luther Campbell in what would likely have turned into one of the most attention-grabbing primaries in America.

"It’s gonna be very hard for me not to run," Campbell said in a video on April 9, and speculation only intensified when he set up an FEC account on Tuesday. 

But while Campbell promised an announcement at 11 AM Friday, he was silent until after filing closed an hour later without his name on the ballot. He put out a video later that day saying he'd decided to stay out of the contest. Campbell's brother, businessman Stanley Campbell, is waging an uphill battle for the U.S. Senate.

You can find a complete list of candidates who filed in Florida by Friday, though it doesn't include everyone running for office this year in the Sunshine State. That's because the deadline to run for the state legislature, county-level offices, and a few other posts is not until June 14.

Florida is now the 36th state where filing for the 2024 cycle has closed for major-party congressional candidates (the deadline for third-party and independent contenders is sometimes later), and it was by far the largest state left on the calendar. The most populous remaining state where candidates can still run for Congress is Washington, which closes on May 10. Filing closes in the final state, which as always is Louisiana, on July 19.

While there's still suspense about who will run in the 14 remaining states, the deadline for major-party contenders has now passed in 375 of the nation's 435 House seats—a full 86% of the chamber. Primaries have taken place in states with a combined 168 of those congressional districts, though there are still some runoffs pending in North Carolina and Texas.

KS-02: Former state Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who was the GOP's unsuccessful nominee for governor in 2022, jumped into the race for Kansas' newly open 2nd Congressional District on Friday.

Schmidt's entry came a day after Jeff Kahrs, who just stepped down as district director for retiring Republican Rep. Jake LaTurner, announced his own bid for his now-former boss' seat. A third Republican, businessman Shawn Tiffany, also kicked off a campaign on Thursday; Tiffany owns a cattle company and is a former head of the Kansas Livestock Association.

Kahrs and Tiffany don't appear to have run for office before, but Schmidt is a longtime fixture in Kansas politics. After a decade in the state Senate, Schmidt won three terms as attorney general beginning in 2010 and was often mentioned for higher office. But when he finally decided to run for governor, his campaign went poorly. Despite running in a red state in what should have been a good year for Republicans, Schmidt lost to Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly by a 50-47 margin.

He even managed to fall short in the 2nd District, which had supported Donald Trump by a wide 57-41 spread two years earlier: Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin says Kelly edged out Schmidt 49-48 in the district he's now seeking. As Rubashkin observes, that weak showing likely wouldn't translate into a federal race, but Schmidt's Republican opponents may not hesitate to call it out.

MD-03: Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin relays data from AdImpact showing that the United Democracy Project, which is an arm of the hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC, has now spent $3.5 million on the airwaves to boost state Sen. Sarah Elfreth in the May 14 Democratic primary for Maryland's open 3rd Congressional District.

Combined with her own spending, Elfreth has now aired 53% of all broadcast TV ads in the race, while retired Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn, who raised a monster $3.7 million in the first quarter of the year, has accounted for 37%. The remaining 10% of broadcast ads have been aired by state Sen. Clarence Lam, though these figures don't take into account other media, such as cable television or digital platforms.

MT-02: State Auditor Troy Downing has publicized an internal from Guidant Polling & Strategy that shows him beating former Rep. Denny Rehberg 38-26 in the June 4 GOP primary to succeed retiring Rep. Matt Rosendale, a fellow Republican.

Another 10% support Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen while 27% are undecided. The survey does not appear to have included any of the other six Republicans who filed for this dark red seat in the eastern part of the state, none of whom have brought in much money. This is the first poll we've seen since candidate filing closed last month

NC-13: Businessman Fred Von Cannon, who finished third with 17% in last month's primary, has endorsed former federal prosecutor Brad Knott in the May 14 GOP runoff for North Carolina's open 13th Congressional District. Attorney Kelly Daughtry led Knott 27-19 in the first round of voting, but Knott recently earned an even more important endorsement when Donald Trump weighed in on his behalf.

UT-01: GOP delegates backed electrician Paul Miller, who hasn't reported raising any money at all, by a 55-45 margin over Rep. Blake Moore.

Moore, who had collected enough signatures to advance no matter how the convention went, went through a similar experience last cycle against a different GOP foe. Retired intelligence officer Andrew Badger outpaced Moore 59-41 at the 2022 conclave, but the incumbent beat him 58-28 in the primary before easily securing reelection in the conservative 1st District.

UT-02: Freshman Rep. Celeste Maloy narrowly avoided a career-ending disaster at Saturday's convention when Green Beret veteran Colby Jenkins defeated her 57-43. Maloy, like Jenkins, did not collect signatures, so had she fallen below 40%, she would not have made the June 25 primary ballot.

Jenkins received an important endorsement shortly before the convention on Thursday when hardline Sen. Mike Lee announced his support. The Deseret News' Brigham Tomco notes that the senator has indicated he sided against Maloy because of her recent vote for the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which Lee bitterly opposed.

Maloy ended March with a $290,000 to $170,000 cash edge over Jenkins. Utah's 2nd District, which includes central and western Salt Lake City and southwestern Utah, backed Donald Trump 57-40 in 2020. 

UT-03: State Sen. Mike Kennedy triumphed 62-38 against Utah Young Republicans chairman Zac Wilson on the sixth and final round of convention balloting, which ensures Kennedy a spot in the June 25 GOP primary to replace Senate candidate John Curtis. Wilson was one of three Republicans whose campaigns ended Saturday, along with perennial candidate Lucky Bovo, former Senate aide Kathryn Dahlin, and former state Rep. Chris Herrod.

Kennedy, who lost the 2018 U.S. Senate primary to Mitt Romney, will compete against four Republicans who successfully collected the requisite 7,000 signatures to petition their way onto the ballot. (Kennedy himself successfully pursued a convention-only strategy.) His intra-party opponents are Roosevelt Mayor Rod Bird, state Auditor John Dougall, businessman Case Lawrence, and former Utah County party chair Stewart Peay.

Bird finished March with a wide $800,000 to $461,000 cash lead over Kennedy. Dougall was far back with $208,000, compared to $196,000 for Lawrence. The latter, though, has thrown down close to $1.3 million of his own money so far, so he may have access to more. Peay, finally, had just $109,000.

This could be an expensive battle, as Bird and Lawrence had each deployed over $1 million of their own money through March. Dougall and Kennedy respectively have self-funded $250,000 and $156,000. Donald Trump carried Utah's 3rd District, which includes the Provo area, the southeastern Salt Lake City suburbs, and rural southeastern Utah, 57-38.

WI-03: State Rep. Katrina Shankland announced Friday that she'd received the endorsement of the state AFL-CIO ahead of the Aug. 13 Democratic primary. Shankland faces businesswoman Rebecca Cooke, who was the runner-up in last cycle's primary, for the right to freshman GOP Rep. Derrick Van Orden in a southwestern Wisconsin constituency that Donald Trump took 51-47 in 2020.

There's no obvious frontrunner in this year's nomination contest, though Cooke finished the first quarter with more than twice as much money available as her intra-party rival. Cooke ended March with a $808,000 to $357,000 cash advantage over Shankland; Van Orden, who has no notable GOP primary opposition, had $1.9 million at his disposal.

Ad Roundup

Campaign Action

Morning Digest: Why the field to replace Mitt Romney may soon get a lot smaller

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

UT-Sen: The Utah GOP's April 27 convention is coming up quickly, and a newly formed super PAC is trying to make sure Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs' campaign to succeed retiring Sen. Mitt Romney comes to an end at the event well before the June 25 primary.

The Deseret News' Brigham Tomco reports that Hometown Freedom Action Network has spent $17,000 on mailers and text messages to delegates portraying Staggs, who has emphasized his hard-right stances, as disloyal to conservatives. One message faults the mayor for initially supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for president, declaring, "Betraying Trump is not MAGA." Another blasts Staggs as "woke" for instituting anti-bias training for police officers. It's not clear who is funding the group.

One delegate told Tomco he considers these kinds of attacks from outside groups "frustrating, annoying, and inappropriate." Staggs is hoping others agree because he needs to perform well with delegates if he's to keep his campaign going.

Utah allows candidates to reach the primary ballot by competing at their convention or by collecting signatures, and while candidates can pursue both routes, Staggs is only going with the first option. This means that, should he fail to win the support of at least 40% of the delegates on April 27, his campaign is over. Another hard-right candidate, conservative activist Carolyn Phippen, is also pursuing a convention-only strategy.

It's not clear yet, however, if a third candidate, attorney Brent Orrin Hatch, needs to rely on delegates to get onto the ballot. Hatch, who is the son and namesake of the late Sen. Orrin Hatch, submitted signatures ahead of the April 13 deadline, but election authorities have not yet verified if he turned in the requisite 28,000 valid petitions.

Hatch himself also sounded uncertain if he'd hit this goal at the start of the month. He previously told Tomco the task was "daunting," and that his status was "up in the air."

The convention is far less important for two other Republicans, Rep. John Curtis and former state House Speaker Brad Wilson. Election authorities have verified that each of them turned in enough signatures to make the ballot, though they're each still taking part in the convention.

Hometown Freedom Action Network sent out texts blasting Curtis, who appears to be the least doctrinaire of the candidates, as someone who was "never with President Trump, and never will be." However, it only spent $2,500 on this messaging against the congressman, who will be on the June ballot no matter how well he does at the April 27 gathering.

The Downballot

It's an old story, but it never gets old: Democrats just whooped Republicans in fundraising—again. This week on "The Downballot" podcast, we're running through some of the most eye-popping numbers Democrats hauled in during the first quarter of the year (Sherrod Brown! Jon Tester! Colin Allred!) and the comparatively weak performances we're seeing from Republicans almost across the board. The GOP hopes to make up the gap by relying on self-funders, but a campaign without a strong fundraising network can be dangerously hollow.

Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also recap the week's electoral action, starting with victories in a pair of special elections in Michigan that allowed Democrats to reclaim their majority in the state House, plus a noteworthy House runoff in Alabama that could lead to a Black Democrat representing Mobile for the first time since Reconstruction.

The Davids also explain why a surprise retirement from the Wisconsin Supreme Court means progressives need to be on guard against a top-two lockout in yet another critical battle for control of the court. And finally, there's the astonishing three-way House race in California that could soon turn into a humdrum two-way affair thanks to an unexpected recount.

1Q Fundraising

Fundraising: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to present brand-new charts rounding up first-quarter fundraising numbers for every incumbent and notable challenger running for the House and the Senate this year. The overarching story is a familiar one: Democrats in key races are outraising their Republican rivals almost across the board, sometimes by astonishing margins.

The lopsided Senate battlefield is particularly noteworthy. Compared to the same quarter six years ago, the two most endangered Democratic senators, Montana's Jon Tester and Ohio's Sherod Brown, raised four times as much as they did for their last campaigns. Meanwhile, in Texas, Rep. Colin Allred managed to exceed the already eye-popping records set by Beto O'Rourle in 2018. Check out our charts for the complete picture in both chambers of Congress.

Senate

MT-Sen: In a follow-up to her absolutely bonkers report about former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy last week, the Washington Post's Liz Goodwin pokes further holes in the Republican's claims about an alleged bullet wound he suffered.

Sheehy claims he lied about getting shot at a national park in 2015 in order to deter a military investigation into what he says was the true source of his injury—a possible incident of friendly fire in Afghanistan three years earlier—but new documents obtained by the Post include a report from an unnamed person visiting the park who reported "an accidental gun discharge" to the National Park Service.

An attorney for Sheehy disputed whether there had in fact been any such report by a park visitor. Sheehy's campaign previously said it was seeking to obtain copies of his hospital records from the 2015 incident, but the same attorney did not directly respond when asked whether those records had been received.

NJ-Sen: A three-judge federal appeals panel has upheld a ruling by a lower court last month that barred the use of New Jersey's "county line" system on the grounds that it violates the Constitution. However, that ruling remains in effect solely for the Democratic primary. Barring further legal action, Republicans will still be able to print ballots that give favorable placement to party-endorsed candidates. That state of affairs is likely temporary, though, as a similar ruling applying to Republican primaries is likely at some point.

Governors

MO-Gov: The Missouri Scout has rounded up campaign fundraising reports covering the first quarter of the year, and the overall story of the Aug. 6 Republican primary for governor remains the same as it's been throughout the entire cycle. Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe continues to dominate financially even though almost every released survey shows him trailing Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft by double digits. State Sen. Bill Eigel also brought in more money during the quarter than Ashcroft even those polls show him with little support.

Kehoe and his joint fundraising committee this time raised a combined $2.5 million and ended March with a total of $6.3 million. Eigel and his committee outraised Ashcroft and his allies $587,000 to $513,000, though it was Ashcroft's side that finished the quarter with a $2.6 million to $1.7 million cash on hand advantage.

On the Democratic side, state House Minority Leader Crystal Quade and her committee together raised $285,000 and had $391,000 available. Businessman Mike Hamra and his allies together brought in $690,000, which includes $250,000 from the candidate, and ended March with $1.1 million banked.  

House

CA-16: NBC Bay Area's Jocelyn Moran reports that a newly formed super PAC called Count the Vote is providing the money to finance the ongoing recount into the March 5 top-two primary. It's not clear who is funding the group, but Moran says that the address on its checks matches that of a law firm that used to work for former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Liccardo, who is assured a place in the Nov. 5 general election, has continued to deny he has anything to do with the recount even though the person who requested it, Jonathan Padilla, worked for his 2014 campaign and served in his administration. Two of Liccardo's fellow Democrats, Assemblyman Evan Low and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, tied for second place last month, and they'd both advance to the general election unless the recount changes the results.

The recount process began Monday, and it's not clear how long it will take to conclude. While election officials in Santa Clara County, which makes up over 80% of the 16th District, initially told KQED they believed this would be a five-day undertaking, Moran writes that they now think it could last between one and two weeks. Personnel in San Mateo County, which forms the balance of the seat, separately tell ABC 7 they believe their retabulations will be done around April 24.

Officials in Santa Clara and San Mateo tell The Daily Journal that the daily cost in their respective counties is $16,000 and $5,000, though they add it would change depending on exactly what Padilla requests. The process would come to an end if Padilla missed a day's payment, and an incomplete recount would leave the certified results unchanged.

MD-02: AIPAC, the hawkish pro-Israel group, has endorsed Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski ahead of the May 14 Democratic primary, where his main rival for this open seat is Del. Harry Bhandari. Olszewski has been the frontrunner ever since he launched his bid in January, and he previously earned endorsements from retiring Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, longtime Rep. Steny Hoyer, and organized labor.

Olszewski also enjoys a large financial advantage over Bhandari. The executive raised $726,000 in the first quarter and finished March with $499,000 on hand, while Bhandari took in $134,000 during this time and ended the period with only $68,000 left to spend.

MD-03: Retired Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn has publicized an internal poll from Upswing Research and Strategy that shows him leading state Sen. Sarah Elfreth by 22-18, while a 44% plurality of voters undecided ahead of the May 14 Democratic primary for this safely blue open seat. State Sen. Clarence Lam was further back with 8%, while no other candidate in the crowded race exceeded 3%.

Dunn gained national visibility after he helped protect Congress during the Jan. 6 insurrection, and that fame helped him dominate the rest of the field in fundraising. Dunn raised a massive $3.7 million in the first quarter and finished March with $1.7 million on hand. That haul was the third-largest of any House candidate nationwide, and it also was more than the rest of his primary rivals combined.

By contrast, Elfreth raised $502,000 and had $569,000 left to spend. However, Elfreth has also received $1.4 million in outside support from the hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC, while none of the other candidates have benefited from major outside spending.

Lam, for his part, raised $284,000 and had $505,000 remaining in the bank. Further back, Del. Mike Rogers raised $140,000 and had $171,000 left over, while labor lawyer John Morse raised $116,000 and finished March with $94,000. None of the other candidates took in six-figure sums.

ME-02: State Rep. Austin Theriault has unveiled an internal poll from Public Opinion Strategies that finds him leading fellow state Rep. Mike Soboleski by 30-7 ahead of the June 11 Republican primary, though a large majority of respondents are undecided. The poll's sample size was just 300 respondents, which is the bare minimum that Daily Kos Elections requires for inclusion in the Digest.

Donald Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson are supporting Theriault for the nomination to take on Democratic Rep. Jared Golden, and their preferred candidate raised $655,000 in the first quarter to Soboleski's $43,000. Theriault also had $831,000 on hand compared to $48,000 for his rival. However, Golden's haul was even larger at $1 million raised, and he had $2.2 million on hand at the start of April.

NJ-10: The New Jersey Globe reports that Democratic Rep. Donald Payne has been unconscious and on a ventilator ever since he suffered a heart attack on April 6. The congressman's office on April 9 put out a statement that did not indicate Payne was not conscious, saying instead that his "prognosis is good and he is expected to make a full recovery."

NY-16: Politico's Jeff Coltin has obtained an internal for Rep. Jamaal Bowman that shows him edging out Westchester County Executive George Latimer 44-43 in the June 25 Democratic primary. The pollster, Upswing Research and Strategy, tells us the survey was conducted March 5 through March 10.

The only other numbers we've seen for this contest came from a late March poll for Latimer's allies at Democratic Majority for Israel, and it showed the executive with a wide 52-35 lead. Both DMFI and its pollster, the Mellman Group, are led by Mark Mellman.

SC-01, VA-05, AZ-02, OH-09: American Prosperity Alliance, a dark money group that is close to Kevin McCarthy, has begun running TV ads against three Republican incumbents who voted to oust McCarthy from the speakership last year. The ads, which, are focused on immigration, are also running against Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur in Ohio's 9th District.

According to AdImpact, the group has spent at least $330,000 against Rep. Nancy Mace, who is trying to fend off former state cabinet official Catherine Templeton in the June 11 primary for South Carolina's 1st District. AdImpact has also tracked another $160,000 that APA is deploying in Virginia's 5th District against Rep. Bob Good, who faces state Sen. John McGuire in the following week's primary.

Meanwhile in Arizona's 2nd District, the group has spent $218,000 so far to weaken incumbent Eli Crane ahead of his July 30 nomination battle against former Yavapai County Supervisor Jack Smith. APA additionally has dropped $150,000 on ads against Kaptur, who she faces a competitive general election against Republican state Rep. Derek Merrin.

Mayors & County Leaders

Raleigh, NC Mayor: Democratic Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin announced Tuesday that she would not seek reelection this year and would instead lead a nonprofit. Baldwin, who was successfully treated for breast cancer last year, added that her husband also had multiple surgeries, and that all this convinced her it was "time to devote my energies to myself and my family and to find other ways to serve."

The nonpartisan general election to succeed Baldwin will take place on Nov. 5, and since there's no runoff, it only takes a plurality to become mayor of North Carolina's capital city. Three notable candidates were already running, and they each identify as Democrats.

City Councilman Corey Branch, who describes himself as a "moderate Democrat," launched his campaign in October. He was joined in January by former state Treasurer Janet Cowell, who was once a rising star in North Carolina Democratic politics.

Terrance Ruth, a North Carolina State University professor who lost to Baldwin 47-41 in 2022, also kicked off a second bid a month before the incumbent announced her departure. Ruth argued last cycle that the mayor's administration hadn't done enough to make housing affordable or to listen to residents.

The field also includes mortgage broker Paul Fitts, who is the only Republican in the contest, and two other candidates. The candidate filing deadline is July 19.

Obituaries

Bob Graham: Bob Graham, a Florida Democrat who rose to prominence during his 26 years as governor and senator, died Tuesday at the age of 87. In our obituary, Jeff Singer recounts the many elections of Graham's long career, including how his famed "Workweeks" helped transform him from relative obscurity into a statewide powerhouse.

Poll Pile

Ad Roundup

Campaign Action

Morning Digest: Ohio Republicans who collaborated with Democrats try to ward off primary challengers

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

Our two big stories at Daily Kos Elections on this Monday morning:

Ohio Republicans have been feuding for more than a year now, but with primaries just weeks away, hostilities between the warring factions have crescendoed to explosive levels. The official campaign arm of the state House GOP is spending heavily to protect a group of lawmakers loyal to Speaker Jason Stephens—who won his post thanks to the votes of Democrats. As you can imagine, the rest of the GOP is still furious and aims to take revenge. Get all the gory details on this major meltdown and how it could impact the next race for speaker.

A party's official endorsement can be a valuable seal of approval, but sometimes it's better not to seek it at all rather than lose badly. That, at least, seems to be the thinking of Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller, who is running for North Dakota's open governorship. She's decided to skip the GOP convention and head straight to the primary. Read more about Miller's conundrum—and some informative recent history that suggests she might be making the right choice.

Senate

CA-Sen: A group called Standing Strong PAC, which recently began running ads designed to help Republican Steve Garvey advance to the general election, has now spent at least $5.2 million, per analyst Rob Pyers. The super PAC, which is run by allies of Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, has followed the congressman's lead by ostensibly attacking Garvey as a Donald Trump backer who is "too conservative for California."

IN-Sen: Wealthy egg farmer John Rust's Senate campaign got some ominous news Thursday when the Indiana Supreme Court placed a stay on a December ruling by a lower court that gave him the chance to appear on the May 7 GOP primary ballot.

While the state's highest court hasn't issued an opinion on the merits of Rust's case, his attorney predicted that when it comes, it will be bad for the candidate. Rust's team, though, says it might appeal an unfavorable decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rust, who is waging a longshot primary challenge against Rep. Jim Banks, is in this situation because of a state law that only allows candidates to run with the party they belong to. Because there's no party registration in Indiana, the easiest way for Hoosiers to establish their affiliation is if by casting their last two voters in their party's primaries. But while Rust most recently participated in the 2016 GOP primary, his prior vote was in the 2012 Democratic race.

Rust sued to block this law, and a lower court judge sided with him in December. The state Supreme Court heard the state's appeal on Feb. 12, days after candidate filing closed. No other Republicans challenged Banks.

MI-Sen: Former GOP Rep. Mike Rogers on Friday publicized a list of 110 "financial supporters" that featured multiple members of the wealthy and influential DeVos family, including former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Also on the list is former Gov. John Engler, who served from 1991 to 2003 and later had a turbulent stint as interim president of Michigan State University that lasted just a year.

MT-Sen: In the first poll we've seen out of Montana this year, SurveyUSA finds Democratic Sen. Jon Tester with a 49-40 lead over his likely Republican foe, wealthy businessman Tim Sheehy. The survey, conducted for KULR-TV, was finished the day that Rep. Matt Rosendale abruptly ended his week-long Senate bid and shows the congressman losing by an identical 49-40 spread.

Nebraska: Thursday was the deadline for sitting elected officials in Nebraska to file for the May 14 primary, even if they're seeking a different post than the one they currently hold. The filing deadline for candidates not currently in office is March 1, though some non-incumbents have already submitted their names to election officials.

WI-Sen: Former GOP Gov. Scott Walker has endorsed wealthy businessman Eric Hovde ahead of his planned Senate launch this coming week.

Governors

NC-Gov: East Carolina University's newest general election poll shows a 41-41 deadlock between Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein and Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a small shift from Robinson's 44-40 advantage in December. The sample favors Donald Trump 47-44 over Joe Biden.

ECU also looks at both sides' March 5 primaries and finds Stein and Robinson far ahead of their respective intraparty rivals. The attorney general outpaces former state Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan 57-7, while Robinson beats wealthy businessman Bill Graham 53-13.

WA-Gov: The Democratic firm Public Policy Polling shows Democratic Attorney General Bob Ferguson leading former Republican Rep. Dave Reichert 46-42 in its new survey for the Northwest Progressive Institute. That's a turnaround from PPP's last poll, which put Reichert ahead 46-44 in November.

What hasn't changed, though, is that Ferguson and Reichert appear poised to easily advance out of the Aug. 6 top-two primary. PPP places Ferguson in first with 35% as Reichert leads his fellow Republican, former Richland school board member Semi Bird, 27-9 for the second general election spot. Another 4% opt for Democratic state Sen. Mark Mullet, while the remaining 25% are undecided.

House

CA-20: Republican businessman David Giglio announced Friday that he was ending his campaign and endorsing Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux in the March 5 top-two primary, though Giglio's name will remain on the ballot. Giglio made national news in October when he launched an intraparty challenge to then-Rep. Kevin McCarthy, but he finished the year with just $3,000 in the bank. Giglio also did not file to compete in the March 19 special election for the remainder of McCarthy's term.

CA-47: Jewish Insider's Matthew Kassel flags that AIPAC's United Democracy Project has spent an additional $700,000 in its bid to stop Democratic state Sen. Dave Min from advancing out of the March 5 top-two primary, which brings its total investment to $1.5 million.

NC-13: A woman named Angela McLeod Barbour has accused one of the Republicans competing in the busy March 5 primary for North Carolina's 13th Congressional District, businessman DeVan Barbour, of repeatedly propositioning her for sex through phone calls and text messages, according to a new report from journalist Bryan Anderson.

"He wanted me to drive to his house and have sex with him," she said of the married candidate, whom she also claims was "fully unclothed" and intoxicated in his communications with her on the night in question in 2021. (The two are not related.)

DeVan Barbour, who has promoted himself as a proud husband, told Anderson in response that "[t]hese accusations are 100% false." Last month, Anderson described Barbour as one of the four main Republicans running to succeed Democratic Rep. Wiley Nickel, who did not seek reelection after the GOP legislature gerrymandered his seat. The other three are attorney Kelly Daughtry, former federal prosecutor Brad Knott, and businessman Fred Von Canon.

TN-07: Two Republicans tell the Tennessee Lookout's Sam Stockard that they're interested in running to succeed GOP Rep. Mark Green, who unexpectedly announced his retirement on Wednesday. One prospective candidate for the August primary is former state Rep. Brandon Ogles, whose cousin, Andy Ogles, represents the neighboring 5th District. The other is state Sen. Bill Powers, whom Stockard identifies as a car dealer.

Other GOP candidates Stockard mentions are physician Manny Sethi, who lost the 2020 Senate primary to eventual winner Bill Hagerty, and former Williamson County GOP chairman Omar Hamada. Political scientist Michael Bednarczuk separately name-drops state Sen. Kerry Roberts in a piece for The Tennessean.

Stockard also runs down a further list of Republicans he says were "mentioned on a conservative radio talk show," though some of these options seem completely unrealistic:

  • 2023 Franklin mayoral candidate Gabrielle Hanson
  • Former State Department official Morgan Ortagus
  • Conservative TV host Candace Owens
  • Singer John Rich
  • Singer Kid Rock
  • 2023 Nashville mayoral candidate Alice Rolli
  • Music video producer Robby Starbuck

Kid Rock (real name Robert James Ritchie) spent much of 2017 flirting with a Senate bid in Michigan against Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow, but he never went for it. He later told Howard Stern he wasn't ever serious about the idea either, recounting that he'd informed Eminem's manager, "I've got motherfuckers thinking I'm running for Senate.' People who are in on it are like, 'Are you really doing it?' I'm like: 'Dude, you're fucking in on the joke! Why you asking me if I'm doing it?'"

Meanwhile, both Ortagus and Starbuck tried to run against Andy Ogles in the 5th District last year, only to be denied a place on the ballot by party leaders for failing to meet the GOP's criteria for running in a primary. Starbuck unsuccessfully sued, which is a big problem for his future hopes for office: The state GOP last month passed new by-laws stating that any person who's sued the party cannot appear on a primary ballot for the ensuing decade.

At least one Republican is demurring, though: Stockard writes that state Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson has conveyed to sources that he's not at all interested.

On the Democratic side, former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry began running for this 56-41 Trump seat back in December. Stockard also writes that state Rep. Bo Mitchell is "rumored to be considering." The filing deadline is April 4.

VA-07: Green Beret veteran Derrick Anderson publicized an endorsement on Friday from 2nd District Rep. Jen Kiggans ahead of the GOP nomination contest. Anderson already had the support of Speaker Mike Johnson in his quest to flip the competitive 7th, which Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger is giving up to concentrate on her 2025 bid for governor.

WA-05: Former Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich tells The Inlander's Nate Sanford he'll decide over the next two weeks whether he'll compete in the August top-two primary to succeed retiring Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a fellow Republican. Sanford notes that Knezovich, who did not seek reelection in 2022, relocated to Wyoming after leaving office.

On the Democratic side, both state Rep. Marcus Riccelli and state Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig tell Sanford they won't run for this 54-44 Trump seat.

Ballot Measures

NV Ballot: A Nevada state court has ruled that two proposed constitutional amendments that would establish a bipartisan redistricting commission cannot appear on the ballot because they would fail to raise the needed revenue. One of the proposals would take effect in 2027 and replace Nevada's current Democratic-drawn maps ahead of the 2028 elections, while the other would not come into force until 2031, following the next census.

Supporters have not yet indicated whether they will appeal or revise their proposals. However, they would have only until June 26 to submit the 102,362 voter signatures needed to qualify for November's ballot. Initiated amendments in Nevada must be approved by voters in two consecutive elections to become law.

Ad Roundup

Campaign Action

Morning Digest: Trump’s candidates faceplant again in Georgia’s House runoffs

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Daniel Donner, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

GA-02, GA-06, GA-10: Georgia held its primary runoffs on Tuesday, and all three of the House candidates endorsed by Donald Trump―including one he backed at almost the last moment―went down in defeat. The bad results for Trump’s contenders came a month after his Big Lie slate of statewide candidates unsuccessfully tried to deny renomination to Gov. Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and Attorney General Chris Carr on May 24 (Georgia requires runoffs in any primaries where no one earned a majority of the vote).

In southwestern Georgia’s 2nd District, Air Force veteran Chris West edged out Army veteran Jeremy Hunt, the recipient of that belated Trump endorsement, 51-49 on Tuesday for the right to take on 15-term Democratic incumbent Sanford Bishop. Meanwhile in the 6th District, physician Rich McCormick triumphed 67-33 against former state Ethics Commission Chair Jake Evans in a newly-gerrymandered seat in the Atlanta suburbs. Finally in the open 10th District in the northeastern part of the state, trucking company owner Mike Collins walloped former state Rep. Vernon Jones, a prominent, conservative Democrat-turned-Republican, 74-26 in another safely red constituency.

We’ll start in the 2nd District, where Republicans are hoping that, despite Joe Biden’s 55-44 win here in 2020, Bishop might be vulnerable against the right opponent. Hunt seemed to have a good chance to be that opponent after leading West 37-30 in the first round of voting on May 24. Hunt, who was the subject of a detailed Washington Post profile a day ahead of Election Day titled, “A Black Republican tries to bring in Black voters to the GOP,” also benefited from numerous Fox News appearances as well as outside spending from a super PAC funded by conservative megadonor Ken Griffin.

However, while Hunt largely avoided bringing up Trump on the campaign trail, Trump waded in over the weekend in a truly odd way. The MAGA master used an address at the national Faith & Freedom conference to give a shoutout to Bishop Garland Hunt, who backed him in 2020, by saying, “Bishop Hunt, I know your son, I just endorsed your son and he won big…what a great son.”

That statement left observers scratching their heads both because Trump had made no such endorsement of his son, Jeremy Hunt, and the runoff had not even taken place yet. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted that Trump had endorsed Texas’ Wesley Hunt, who did win his GOP primary in March; the two candidates do not appear to be related.) However, Jeremy Hunt’s campaign seized on those confusing words by broadcasting them in a text message, though even his team seemed a little confused by what was happening. “We were just going based on what the President said, speaking about Jeremy’s father, and then we took it as referring to our big win, coming in first place in the primary,” Hunt’s campaign manager said.

West, though, worked hard to portray his opponent as an outsider by attacking his weak ties to southwestern Georgia, saying at one debate that Republicans needed a nominee “who is going to go up and represent middle and southwest Georgia, not someone who has just moved here three months ago, who has been bought and paid for by Washington, D.C., special interests.” West also earned an endorsement from businessman Wayne Johnson, who finished third in the first round with 19% and went on to launch a lawsuit against Fox News for supposedly giving Hunt (whom he’s also suing) an unfair amount of positive coverage.

Trump, meanwhile, went all-in for Evans and Jones well before the May 24 primaries only to see them each wind up in second place: McCormick outpaced Evans last month 43-23 in the 6th, while Collins edged out Jones 26-22. McCormick, who narrowly lost last cycle’s race in the prior version of the 7th District to Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux, likely benefited from name recognition from that campaign; Evans, by contrast, had plenty of connections through his father, former Ambassador to Luxembourg Randy Evans, but he wasn’t such a familiar name to voters. It didn’t help that a Club for Growth affiliate spent heavily in the runoff on messaging using Evans’ old writings to portray him as “woke.”

Finally in the 10th, Collins, who picked up an endorsement from Kemp days ahead of Election Day, also had plenty to attack Jones with. While Collins’ late father, Mac Collins, used to serve this area in Congress, Jones never represented any part of this district either in the legislature or as the chief executive of DeKalb County. (The younger Collins also unsuccessfully ran here in 2014 only to lose the runoff to Jody Hice, who gave up this seat to wage a failed bid against Raffensperger.)

Jones earned Trump's support after he ended his long-shot campaign for governor to run here instead, but that hardly stopped Collins from portraying his Black opponent as an outsider and “radically anti-white racist.” Things intensified in the final days when Collins sent out a tweet that featured a picture of a rape whistle emblazoned with the web address for an anti-Jones site, an item that references an accusation of rape leveled against Jones in 2004​ (he was never charged), alongside an image of a gun.

However, while McCormick and Collins each turned back Trump’s candidates, both of them still ran as ardent Trump allies themselves: Collins notably launched his campaign with a video where he drove a truck labeled “Trump Agenda” that sported a Trump bobblehead on the dashboard. The results, while embarrassing for Trump, are another reminder what, while the GOP leader may lose some battles to nominate his favored candidates, Trumpism remains alive and well in the GOP.

election recaps

 Primary Night: We had another busy primary night on Tuesday outside of those three Georgia contests, and below is a summary of where things stood as of 8 AM ET in the big contests.

  • AL-Sen (R): Former Business Council of Alabama head Katie Britt defeated Rep. Mo Brooks 63-37 in the contest to succeed retiring Sen. Richard Shelby, who ardently supported her, in this safely red state. Trump himself endorsed Britt ahead of Election Day two months after he abandoned Brooks’ flailing campaign.
  • AL-05 (R): Madison County Commissioner Dale Strong outpaced former Department of Defense official Casey Wardynski 63-37 to claim the GOP nod to succeed Brooks in this heavily Republican constituency in northern Alabama. Wardynski’s allies at the nihilistic House Freedom Caucus ran ads portraying Strong as a politician who "caved to the woke liberals" and "shunned President Trump," but it was far from enough.
  • VA-02 (R): State Sen. Jen Kiggans, who was the candidate of the GOP establishment, scored a 56-27 victory over Big Lie fanatic Jarome Bell despite a late ad campaign from Democrats designed to help Bell capture the Republican nod. Kiggans will go up against Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria in a Virginia Beach-based seat where, under the new court-drawn map, Joe Biden’s margin of victory was halved from 51-47 to just 50-48.
  • VA-07 (R): Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega, who was backed by the House Freedom Caucus, beat Green Beret veteran Derrick Anderson 29-24 in the six-way GOP primary. Vega will now face Democratic Rep. ​​Abigail Spanberger in a constituency that dramatically transformed under the new map from a district anchored in the Richmond suburbs seat to one largely based in Northern Virginia’s Prince William County; Biden would have won the new seat 52-46, compared to just 50-49 under the old lines.
  • GA-SoS (D): State Rep. Bee Nguyen defeated former state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler 77-23 for the right to go up against Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
  • Washington, D.C. Mayor (D): Mayor Muriel Bowser won renomination by turning back Councilmember Robert White 50-39, a win that all but guarantees her a third term in this dark blue city.

Redistricting

LA Redistricting: Louisiana's Republican-run legislature has failed to meet a court-ordered June 20 deadline to draw a new congressional map, meaning a federal judge will now be responsible for crafting her own map that would allow Black voters to elect their preferred candidates in a second district. However, Republicans have asked the Supreme Court to block a recent ruling by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed the case to proceed. Earlier this year, the justices barred a similar decision in Alabama from taking effect.

Senate

AK-Sen: Alaskans for L.I.S.A.—oh, you thought that was just "Lisa," as in Murkowski? nope, it stands for the almost recursive, very nearly tautological "Leadership In a Strong Alaska," and yes, it includes those periodsis spending $2 million to air ads boosting … you'll never believe it … Lisa Murkowski. The super PAC's spot, which is the first outside TV advertising of the race, touts the Republican senator's local roots and her advocacy on behalf of the state. There's no word yet as to whether the Man from U.N.C.L.E. plans to get involved.

FL-Sen: Candidate filing closed Friday for Florida's Aug. 23 primaries, and the state has a list of contenders available here.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio's only serious opponent is Democratic Rep. Val Demings, whose one notable intra-party foe, former Rep. Alan Grayson, announced last month that he'd instead run to succeed her in the House. Demings has been a very strong fundraiser, but she faces a difficult campaign in a longtime swing state that has been trending right in recent years. Major outside groups have also so far avoided reserving ad time on either side in this extremely expensive state.

The most recent survey we've seen was a late May internal for the congresswoman's allies at Giffords PAC, and it gave Rubio a 47-41 edge.

UT-Sen: A new WPA Intelligence poll for Republican Sen. Mike Lee finds him leading conservative independent challenger Evan McMullin by a 52-33 margin, a very different result from a recent independent survey from Dan Jones & Associates that gave Lee just a 41-37 edge. Earlier this year, Utah Democrats declined to put forward their own nominee and instead gave their backing to McMullin in the hopes that an alliance between Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans would give both factions the best chance to boot Lee, a notorious Trump sycophant.

SMP: The Senate Majority PAC and its affiliated nonprofit, Majority Forward, have booked $38 million in airtime to run ads this summer in six key battleground states: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and New Hampshire, where Democrats are on defense, as well as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the party's two best shots to pick up seats. The PAC previously reserved $106 million for the fall, though this is the first time its target list has included New Hampshire, where it now has $4 million in spending planned.

Governors

FL-Gov: St. Pete Polls, working on behalf of Florida Politics, shows Rep. Charlie Crist beating his one serious intra-party foe, state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, 49-24 in the Democratic primary to take on GOP incumbent Ron DeSantis. Fried herself recently publicized an internal that founds things far closer, but she still trailed Crist 38-34.

The ultimate winner will be in for an uphill battle against DeSantis. We haven't seen any reliable polling here in months, but the governor and his PAC ended May with a gigantic $112 million at their disposal. Crist, who was elected governor in 2006 as a Republican and narrowly lost the 2014 general election following his party switch, by contrast led Fried $6.3 million to $3.9 million.

NM-Gov: Two new polls of November's race for governor in New Mexico both show a close contest. A survey from Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling, taken on behalf of the independent news site New Mexico Political Report, finds Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham leading Republican nominee Mark Ronchetti 45-42, with Libertarian Karen Bedonie taking 9% of the vote, while a Ronchetti internal from Public Opinion Strategies has him edging out the incumbent 46-45.

Ronchetti's poll doesn't appear to have included Bedonie, whose share of the vote is unusually high for a third-party candidate but not quite out of the realm of possibility: Former Republican Gov. Gary Johnson took 9% in New Mexico's presidential race in 2016 while running as a Libertarian, then followed that up two years later with a 15% showing in a bid for Senate. Bedonie of course lacks the name recognition of Johnson, and her ultimate Election Day performance is likely to be in the low rather than high single digits, but Democrats will be pleased so long as she draws votes away from Ronchetti.

House

AK-AL: In a surprise development, independent Al Gross announced Monday that he was dropping out of both the special election and regular contest for a two-year term for Alaska's lone House seat, a decision that came a little more than a week after he earned a spot in the Aug. 16 instant runoff special by finishing third with 13% of the vote. But Gross' hopes that his spot might be filled by another candidate were quickly dashed by election officials.

Gross, who was the 2020 Democratic nominee for Senate, urged his supporters to back either former Democratic state Rep. Mary Peltola or Republican Tara Sweeney, a former state Interior Department official who is in fifth place with most ballots counted in the June 11 top-four primary. Gross did not indicate a preference between the two or even mention either by name, saying only that there are "two outstanding Alaska Native women in this race" and urging his supporters to "consider giving their first-place vote to whichever of them best matches their own values."

However, Gail Fenumiai, Alaska's director of elections, said that state law only allows the fifth-place finisher to replace a candidate who drops out if there are at least 64 days until the general election; in a Tuesday letter to an attorney for second-place finisher Nick Begich, she noted there were only 56 days left. Fenumiai did say that Gross' name would be removed from the ballot, though she urged anyone who might disagree with her decision to "file suit immediately," citing a June 28 deadline to finalize the August ballot for printing.

It’s not clear whether Sweeney intends to challenge Fenumiai's ruling. Sweeney's campaign manager responded to the news late on Monday by saying the candidate had been in an area without cell phone reception and promised that a statement would be "forthcoming once she is back in communication"; Sweeney was still incommunicado on Tuesday afternoon, per her campaign. Gross himself explained Tuesday he'd decided to quit because he'd decided "it is just too hard to run as a nonpartisan candidate in this race."

With most of the votes counted, Sweeney holds a 6-5 edge over North Pole City Council member Santa Claus, a self-described "independent, progressive, democratic socialist" who is not running for the full two-year term, for what might be a suddenly important fifth-place spot. Two Republicans, former reality TV show star Sarah Palin and Begich, took first and second place in the top-four primary, respectively, with the Associated Press calling the fourth spot for Peltola late on Friday.

FL-01: Rep. Matt Gaetz, the far-right icon who reportedly remains under federal investigation for sex trafficking of a minor and other alleged offenses, has three opponents in the Republican primary for this safely red constituency in the Pensacola area.

Gaetz's most serious foe appears to be former FedEx executive Mark Lombardo, who pledged to spend $1 million of his own money when he launched his bid last week against the incumbent, whom he labeled "a professional politician who has dishonored his constituents with unnecessary drama, childish gimmicks, and is reportedly entangled in a federal investigation for sex-trafficking a 17-year-old girl to the Bahamas." Air Force veteran Bryan Jones and Greg Merk, who took 9% in Gaetz’s uncompetitive 2020 primary, are also in, but they've generated little attention.  

FL-02: Democratic Rep. Al Lawson decided to take on his Republican colleague, Neal Dunn, after the new GOP gerrymander transformed Lawson's reliably blue and plurality-Black 5th District into a very white and conservative constituency. Neither congressman faces any intra-party opposition ahead of what will almost certainly be one of only two incumbent vs. incumbent general elections of the cycle (the other is in Texas' 34th District, where Republican Mayra Flores will take on Democrat Vicente Gonzalez).

The new 2nd, which includes Tallahassee and Panama City, would have supported Trump 55-44. Dunn, for his part, already represents 64% of the redrawn constituency, while another 31% are Lawson's constituents.

FL-04: Three Republicans and two Democrats are campaigning for the new 4th District, an open constituency that includes part of Jacksonville and its western suburbs and would have supported Trump 53-46.

The only elected official on the GOP side is state Senate President Pro Tempore Aaron Bean, who recently began running ads here. Navy veteran Erick Aguilar, meanwhile, earned just 20% of the vote in 2020 when he challenged incumbent John Rutherford in the primary for the previous version of the 4th (Rutherford is now running for the new 5th), but he appears to be running a far more serious operation this time: While Aguilar brought in just $16,000 two years ago, he ended March with $810,000 on-hand thanks to both stronger fundraising and self-funding. The final Republican, Jon Chuba, has raised almost nothing.

The Democratic contest is a duel between former state Sen. Tony Hill and businesswoman LaShonda Holloway. Hill left office in 2011 to take a job in then-Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown's administration, while Holloway took 18% of the vote in the 2020 primary against incumbent Al Lawson in the old 5th District.

FL-07: Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy announced her retirement months before Republicans transformed her suburban Orlando from a 55-44 Biden seat into one Trump would have taken 52-47, and Republicans have an eight-way primary to replace her.

The only sitting elected official in the race is state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, a far-right zealot who has a terrible relationship with his chamber's leadership. The field also includes former DeBary City Commissioner Erika Benfield, who lost a competitive state House primary in 2020, and former Orange County Commissioner Ted Edwards, who entered the race last week pledging to balance gun safety with respect for the Second Amendment.

There are several other Republicans worth watching. One contender who has been trying hard to get attention is Army veteran Cory Mills, a self-funder who recently aired an ad bragging how his company manufactures the tear gas that's been used on left-wing demonstrators. There's also Navy veteran Brady Duke, whom we hadn't previously mentioned but who has raised a notable amount of money through March. Rounding out the GOP field are former congressional staffer Rusty Roberts; businessman Scott Sturgill, who lost the 2018 primary for the old 7th 54-30; and Al Santos, another businessman who has yet to earn much notice.    

There are four Democrats running here as well. The early frontrunner appears to be party official Karen Green, who has endorsements from a number of local elected officials.

FL-10: Ten Democrats are campaigning to succeed Senate candidate Val Demings in a contest that completely transformed in the final days of candidate filing.

Until then, the frontrunners for this safely blue Orlando constituency were state Sen. Randolph Bracy and gun safety activist Maxwell Alejandro Frost, who each ended March with a credible amount of money. Several other candidates, including pastor Terence Gray, have also been running since last year, but they've struggled to bring in cash. Things took a dramatic turn last week, though, when former 9th District Rep. Alan Grayson decided to end his little-noticed Senate campaign to run here, while former 5th District Rep. Corrine Brown jumped in days later. (Brown's launch came about a month after she accepted a deal with federal prosecutors where she pleaded guilty to tax fraud.)

Both former House members have experience running in this area. Grayson, according to political data expert Matthew Isbell, would have carried the new 10th 40-39 in the 2016 Senate primary against national party favorite Patrick Murphy even as the bombastic Grayson was badly losing statewide. (Grayson in 2018 went on to badly lose the primary to take the old 9th back from his successor, Rep. Darren Soto.) And while Brown's longtime base is from Jacksonville, she spent 24 years representing a seat that snaked down about 140 miles south to Orlando.

FL-11: Six-term Rep. Dan Webster faces Republican primary opposition from far-right activist Laura Loomer, a self-described "proud Islamophobe" who has been banned from numerous social media, rideshare, and payment services for spreading bigotry, in a constituency in the western Orlando area that Trump would have won 55-44. Webster only represents 35% of this new district, but he's still a far more familiar presence here than Loomer, who ran a high-profile but doomed 2020 bid against Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel in South Florida. Two other Republicans also filed here.

FL-13: Five Republicans are competing to replace Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist, who is leaving to try to reclaim his old job as governor, in a newly gerrymandered St. Petersburg-based district that flipped from 52-47 Biden to 53-46 Trump. The frontrunner is 2020 nominee Anna Paulina Luna, who sports endorsements from Donald Trump and the Club for Growth for her second try. Team Red's field also includes Amanda Makki, whom Luna beat last time; attorney Kevin Hayslett; and two others. The only Democrat on the ballot, by contrast, is former Department of Defense official Eric Lynn.

FL-15: Each party has five candidates campaigning for a new suburban Tampa constituency that Trump would have won 51-48.

On the GOP side, the two elected officials in the running are state Sen. Kelli Stargel, who is an ardent social conservative, and state Rep. Jackie Toledo, who has prevailed in competitive turf. Another notable contender is former Secretary of State Laurel Lee, who recently resigned to run and was previously elected as a local judge before Gov. Ron DeSantis chose her as Florida's top elections administration official. Rounding out the field are retired Navy Capt. Mac McGovern and Demetrius Grimes, a fellow Navy veteran who lost the 2018 Democratic primary for the old 26th District in South Florida.

For the Democrats, the most familiar name is arguably Alan Cohn, who was the 2020 nominee for the previous version of the 15th. Also in the running are political consultant Gavin Brown, comedian Eddie Geller, and two others.

FL-20: Freshman Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick faces a Democratic primary rematch against former Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, whom she beat by all of 5 votes in last year's crowded special election, in a safely blue constituency that includes part of the Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach areas. Holness doesn't have the anti-incumbent lane to himself, though, as state Rep. Anika Omphroy is also in.

FL-23: Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch is retiring from a Fort Lauderdale-based seat that's very similar to the 22nd District he currently serves, and six fellow Democrats are running to succeed him in this 56-43 Biden constituency. The frontrunner from the beginning has been Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz, a well-connected former state representative who later served in Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration as director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Moskowitz's two main rivals appear to be Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Ben Sorensen and former prosecutor Hava Holzhauer.

FL-24: While former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson announced in March that she'd challenge Rep. Frederica Wilson in the Democratic primary, Edmonson never filed to run here before qualifying closed last week. Wilson now only faces one little-known opponent for renomination in this safely blue Miami-based seat.  

FL-27: Republican map makers did what they could to insulate freshman GOP Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar by shifting her Miami-area seat from a 51-48 win for Joe Biden to a 50-49 margin for Donald Trump, but Team Blue is still betting she's beatable. National Democrats, including the DCCC, have consolidated behind state Sen. Annette Taddeo, who dropped out of the governor's race earlier this month to run here. Taddeo's main intra-party rival is Miami Commissioner Ken Russell, who abandoned his own long-shot Senate bid, while progressive activist Angel Montalvo rounds out the field.

FL-28: Freshman Republican Rep. Carlos Giménez picked up a notable Democratic rival just before filing closed Friday when former state Rep. Robert Asencio launched a campaign. Trump would have carried this exurban Miami seat 53-46, which makes it a tad redder than Giménez's existing 26th District.

HI-02: Former state Sen. Jill Tokuda earned an endorsement earlier this month from both the Hawai'i Government Employees Association, which is the largest union in the state, and the AFL-CIO ahead of the August Democratic primary.

IL-01: Two crypto-aligned groups, Protect Our Future and Web3 Forward, are dropping just shy of $1 million total to support businessman Jonathan Jackson in next week's Democratic primary, a crowded contest that saw little outside spending until now. Only the latter's spot is currently available, and it reminds the audience that Jackson is the son of civil rights leader and two-time presidential candidate Jesse Jackson. "Jonathan Jackson knows we are in the fight for our lives now," says the narrator. "Jackson is running for Congress to get guns off our streets, tackle inflation, and protect our right to vote."

Meanwhile, another organization called Forward Progress is deploying $160,000 to help former Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership CEO Karin Norington-Reaves, who has retiring Rep. Bobby Rush's backing.

IL-15: Far-right Rep. Mary Miller has publicized an internal from Cygnal showing her edging out fellow incumbent Rodney Davis 45-40 ahead of next week's Republican primary, which is an improvement from their 41-41 tie in an unreleased survey from two weeks ago. We haven't seen any other recent polling of the contest for this dark-red seat in downstate Illinois.

MD-04: The hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC last week began a $600,000 ad campaign against former Rep. Donna Edwards through its United Democracy Project super PAC, which was the first major outside spending of the July 19 Democratic primary. AIPAC, which supports former Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn Ivey, argues that Edwards did a poor job with constituent services during her first stint in the House: The narrator claims, "Her congressional office was widely regarded as unresponsive to constituents who needed help and Donna Edwards was rated one of the least effective members of Congress, dead last among Democrats."

Edwards quickly responded by releasing a video message from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who supports her comeback campaign, praising her as "one of the most effective members in Congress" and someone who "fought hard for Prince George's County—for jobs and investments in her community, to help constituents in need, and to deliver results."

MD-06: Matthew Foldi, a former staff writer for the conservative Washington Free Beacon whom we hadn't previously written about, has unveiled an endorsement from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy ahead of next month's GOP primary to face Democratic Rep. David Trone.  

Foldi, who previously worked for McCarthy's allies at the Congressional Leadership Fund, faces five intra-party opponents including Del. Neil Parrott, the 2020 nominee who lost to Trone 59-39 as Biden was carrying the old 6th 61-38. However, the new map, which the Democratic-dominated legislature passed after their original draft was struck down in state court, halved Biden's margin to 54-44.

TX-15: The Texas Democratic Party announced Friday that a recount has confirmed that businesswoman Michelle Vallejo won the May 24 runoff by defeating Army veteran Ruben Ramirez by 35 votes, which was five more than she started with. Vallejo will now go up against 2020 Republican nominee Monica De La Cruz in a Rio Grande Valley seat that, under the new GOP gerrymander, would have supported Trump 51-48.

WI-03: Former CIA officer Deb McGrath has released an attention-grabbing spot for the August Democratic primary that features the candidate skydiving. McGrath, who is campaigning to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Ron Kind, explains that, as the one woman in her Army jump school, "The guys thought I'd chicken out. I was the first out the door." Following her jump and before deploying her parachute, McGrath explains through a voiceover, "I'm running for Congress because of the sky-high cost of everything. Wisconsin needs a representative who thinks for herself, works with both parties, and fights for women's rights."

Other Races

SD-AG: Republican Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, who was impeached in April for fatally striking a pedestrian named Joe Boever with his car in 2020 and lying about the crash to investigators, was convicted on both counts and removed from office on Tuesday. Twenty-four members of the GOP-dominated state Senate—exactly the two-thirds supermajority necessary for conviction—voted in favor of the first count, with 9 opposed, while the second count was backed by a wider 31-2 margin. In addition, in a unanimous 33-0 vote, the Senate barred Ravnsborg, who recently announced he would not seek re-election, from ever holding public office in South Dakota again.

Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, who had long called for Ravnsborg's resignation, will now appoint a replacement. Noem has not yet said whom she might pick, but she previously endorsed former Attorney General Marty Jackley's bid to reclaim his old post. Jackley faces a top Ravnsborg aide, David Natvig, for the GOP nomination, which will be decided at the state party's convention that begins on Thursday.

Mayors

Oakland, CA Mayor: Former City Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente announced last week that he was joining November's instant-runoff contest to succeed termed-out Mayor Libby Schaaf, which makes him the 16th candidate to enter the officially nonpartisan race to lead this loyally blue city. De La Fuente, who mulled a 2018 bid against Schaaf, launched his new effort by pledging to hire more police officers and saying he "will not tolerate" homeless encampments.  

De La Fuente ran for mayor twice during his long tenure on the City Council, which spanned from 1992 to 2013, but he badly lost both campaigns to prominent figures. In 1998 he took just 7% in a contest that resulted in former Gov. Jerry Brown beginning his second stint in elected office (Brown reclaimed his old job as governor in 2010). De La Fuente tried again in 2006 but lost 50-33 to former Rep. Ron Dellums; De La Fuente himself left the City Council six years later when he unsuccessfully campaigned for a citywide seat.

The field already included a trio of councilmembers: Loren Taylor, Sheng Thao, and Treva Reid. Schaaf has not yet endorsed anyone, but Taylor has often supported her on key votes. Thao, by contrast, has run to Taylor's left and sports endorsements from several unions and state Attorney General Rob Bonta, while the San Francisco Chronicle identifies Reid as a Taylor ally. Also in the running is Allyssa Victory, who works as an attorney for the regional ACLU and Communications Workers of America Local 9415.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: Former Rep. David Rivera's latest comeback bid may have ended before it could begin, as elections authorities say that he didn't actually qualify for the ballot in state House District 119. Rivera responded Tuesday by insisting that the matter wasn't settled and that he'd "let the lawyers in Tallahassee handle that," though there's no word on what the problem is. The former congressman, though, didn't hold back on attacking the Miami Herald's coverage of the many corruption scandals he's been linked to.

Ad Roundup

Dollar amounts reflect the reported size of ad buys and may be larger.