Morning Digest: Trump backs far-right ex-cop who refuses to accept his own 2020 defeat

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

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Leading Off

WA-04: Donald Trump took sides in the August top-two primary on Wednesday evening by backing 2020 gubernatorial nominee Loren Culp's bid against Rep. Dan Newhouse, who is one of the 10 Republicans who voted for impeachment last year. Culp, by contrast, is very much the type of candidate Trump likes, as the far-right ex-cop responded to his wide 57-43 defeat against Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee by saying he'd "never concede." While Trump's endorsement likely will give Culp a lift, the top-two primary system complicates the effort to defeat Newhouse in a vast constituency based in the eastern part of Washington.

It would take a lot of bad fortune for Newhouse to take third place or worse, a result that would keep the incumbent off the November general election ballot. If Newhouse did advance, he'd be the heavy favorite against a Democrat in a sprawling eastern Washington seat that, according to Dave's Redistricting App, would have backed Trump 57-40, which would have made it the reddest of the state's 10 congressional districts. The dynamics would be different if Culp or another Republican got to face Newhouse in round two, but the congressman would have a good chance to survive if he overwhelmingly carried Democrats while still holding on to enough fellow Republicans.

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Past elections in the old 4th, which is similarly red at 58-40 Trump, show that either a traditional Democrat vs. Republican general or an all-GOP general race are possible. Newhouse won his first two general elections in 2014 and 2016 against fellow Republican Clint Didier, but he had a Democratic foe in 2018 and 2020.

A few other Republicans are already running who could cost Culp some badly needed anti-Newhouse votes on the right, and one of them, businessman Jerrod Sessler, actually had far more money at the end of 2021 than Culp. Culp did narrowly outraise him $40,000 to $25,000 in the fourth quarter, but thanks to self-funding, Sessler finished December with a $200,000 to $30,000 cash-on-hand lead. Newhouse, meanwhile, took in $270,000 for the quarter and had $855,000 to defend himself. The only Democrat who appears to be in, businessman Doug White, raised $105,000 and had $85,000 on hand.

But while Culp's fundraising has been extremely weak, he already had a base even before Trump chose him this week. He made a name for himself as police chief of Republic, a small community that remains in the neighboring 5th District following redistricting (he has since registered to vote in Moses Lake, which is in the 4th), in 2018 when he made news by announcing he wouldn't enforce a statewide gun safety ballot measure that had just passed 59-41. His stance drew a very favorable response from far-right rocker Ted Nugent, who posted a typo-ridden "Chief Loren Culp is an Anerican freedom warrior. Godbless the freedom warriors" message to his Facebook page.

Culp, who spent his final years in Republic as chief of a one-person police department, soon decided to challenge Inslee, and he quickly made it clear he would continue to obsessively cultivate the Trump base rather than appeal to a broader group of voters in this blue state. That tactic helped Culp advance through the top-two primary, an occasion he celebrated by reaffirming his opposition to Inslee's measures to stop the pandemic, including mask mandates. Unsurprisingly, though, it didn't help him avoid an almost 14-point defeat months later. Culp refused to accept that loss, and he filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a fellow Republican, that made baseless allegations of "intolerable voting anomalies" for a contest "that was at all times fraudulent."

But the state GOP did not enjoy seeing Culp, whose job in Republic disappeared shortly after the election because of budget cuts, refuse to leave the stage. Some Republicans also openly shared their complaints about Culp's campaign spending, including what the Seattle Times' Jim Brunner described as "large, unexplained payments to a Marysville data firm while spending a relatively meager sum on traditional voter contact." Republicans also griped that Culp had spent only about a fifth of his $3.3 million budget on advertising, a far smaller amount than what serious candidates normally expend.

Culp's attorney ultimately withdrew the suit after being threatened with sanction for making "factually baseless" claims. The defeated candidate himself responded to the news by saying that, while the cost of continuing the legal battle would have been prohibitive, "It doesn't mean that the war's over … It just means that we're not going to engage in this particular battle through the courts."

Culp, however, soon turned his attention towards challenging Newhouse, and Trump rewarded him Wednesday with an endorsement that promised he'd stand up for "Election Integrity." That same day, writes Brunner, Culp emailed supporters "suggest[ing] people follow his lead by paying a Florida telehealth clinic to mail treatments including ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, drugs hyped by vaccine skeptics that have not been authorized for use in treating COVID-19."

Redistricting

CT Redistricting: The Connecticut Supreme Court formally adopted a new congressional map drawn by special master Nathan Persily on Thursday that makes only minimal changes to the current district lines in order to ensure population equality. As before, all five districts would have voted for Joe Biden. The court's intervention was necessary after the state's bipartisan redistricting commission failed to reach an agreement on a new map, just as it did a decade ago.

FL Redistricting: The Florida Supreme Court unanimously rejected Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' request that it issue an advisory opinion as to whether lawmakers can legally dismantle the plurality-Black 5th District in a decision issued Thursday, saying the governor's question was overly broad and lacked a sufficient factual record for the justices to rely on.

In response, GOP leaders in the state House released a congressional map that keeps the 5th largely untouched (albeit renumbered to the 3rd), just as the Senate did when it passed its own plan last month. In other respects, however, the two maps differ: The House's approach would lead to 18 districts that would have gone for Donald Trump and just 10 that would have voted for Joe Biden, while the Senate plan has a closer 16-12 split in favor of Trump.

The two chambers may yet hammer out their differences, but the real dispute is between lawmakers and DeSantis, who has been pushing for a base-pleasing maximalist gerrymander that his fellow Republicans in the legislature have shown no interest in. DeSantis' unusual level of interference in the map-making process has raised the prospect of a veto, but the Senate map passed with a wide bipartisan majority. If the House can bring Democrats on board as well, then Republican leaders may just tell DeSantis to suck it.

Senate

AK-Sen: State Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson on Wednesday became the first notable Democrat to enter the August top-four primary against the two main Republicans, incumbent Lisa Murkowski and former state cabinet official Kelly Tshibaka. Gray-Jackson was elected in 2018 in a blue state Senate seat in Anchorage, a win that made her the second Black woman to ever serve in the chamber, and the Anchorage Daily News says she's Alaska's first-ever Black U.S. Senate candidate.

Murkowski, for her part, has enjoyed a huge fundraising advantage over the Trump-endorsed Tshibaka for months, and that very much didn't change during the fourth quarter. The incumbent outraised Tshibaka $1.4 million to $600,000, and she ended December with a hefty $4.3 million to $635,000 cash-on-hand lead.

AZ-Sen: Wealthy businessman Jim Lamon's new spot for the August Republican primary, which NBC says is set to air during the Super Bowl, features him confronting "the D.C. gang" in an Old West-inspired setting. Lamon, dressed in a sheriff's costume, shoots the weapons out of the hands of his three masked enemies with Trump-sounding nicknames who are meant to resemble Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly, President Joe Biden, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (Yes, Lamon is depicting firing a gun at Kelly, whose wife, then-Rep. Gabby Giffords, was gravely wounded in a 2011 assassination attempt that killed six members of the public.) The campaign says the commercial is one of the spots running in an "upper six-figure campaign."

Lamon, thanks to a generous amount of self-funding, ended the last quarter with a wide cash-on-hand lead over his many rivals, though judging by this spot, very little of his war chest went towards paying an acting coach—or an ethics adviser. The quarterly numbers are below:

  • Thiel Capital chief operating officer Blake Masters: $1.4 million raised, $1.8 million cash-on-hand
  • Attorney General Mark Brnovich: $805,000 raised, $770,000 cash-on-hand
  • retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire: $245,000 raised, additional $25,000 self-funded, $225,000 cash-on-hand
  • Corporation Commissioner Justin Olson: $225,000 raised, $190,000 cash-on-hand
  • Businessman Jim Lamon: $200,000 raised, additional $3 million self-funded, $5.9 million cash-on-hand

Kelly, though, ended 2021 with more than twice as much money on hand as all his rivals combined: The senator took in $8.8 million for the quarter and had $18.6 million available to spend.

Governors

AL-Gov: Businessman Tim James' new commercial for the May Republican primary declares that Gov. Kay Ivey could have used an "executive order" to prevent school children from having to wear masks, but "she refused." The National Journal notes, though, that the state's mask mandate expired in April of last year, while similar municipal requirements in Birmingham and Montgomery ended the following month.

MI-Gov: Conservative radio host Tudor Dixon this week earned an endorsement from Rep. Lisa McClain, whose old 10th District was Donald Trump's best congressional district in the state. (The new 9th, where McClain is seeking re-election, would have also been Michigan's reddest under the redrawn congressional map.) Another congressman, Bill Huizenga, backed Dixon a few weeks ago even though she's struggled to raise a credible amount of money.

WI-Gov: Republican state Rep. Timothy Ramthun, who is one of the loudest spreaders of the Big Lie in Wisconsin, filed paperwork Thursday for a potential campaign for governor the day after he took down a campaign website that, for a few hours, said he was running. We'll presumably know for sure Saturday after Ramthun's "special announcement" at a high school auditorium in Kewaskum, a small community to the north of Milwaukee, though the local superintendent said Tuesday that the space had yet to be reserved. (Ramthun also is a member of that school board.)

House

CA-15: The first poll we've seen of the June top-two primary in this open seat comes from the Democratic firm Tulchin Research on behalf of San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa, which gives him the lead with 19% of the vote. A second Democrat, Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, holds a 17-13 edge over Republican businessman Gus Mattamal for the other general election spot, while Democratic Burlingame Councilwoman Emily Beach takes 7%. This constituency, which includes most of San Mateo County as well as a portion of San Francisco to the north, would have backed Joe Biden 78-20, so it's very possible two Democrats will face off in November.

All the Democrats entered the race after Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier announced her retirement in mid-November, and Canepa outraised his rivals during their first quarter. Canepa outpaced Beach $420,000 to $275,000, and he held a $365,000 to $270,000 cash-on-hand lead. Mullin, who has Speier's endorsement, raised $180,000, self-funded another $65,000, and ended December with $230,000 on-hand. Mattamal, meanwhile, had a mere $15,000 to spend.

MI-11: Democratic Rep. Brenda Lawrence, whose current 14th Congressional District makes up 30% of the new 11th, on Thursday backed Haley Stevens in her August incumbent vs. incumbent primary against Andy Levin. Lawrence, who is not seeking re-election, actually represents more people here than Levin, whose existing 9th District includes 25% of the seat he's campaigning to represent; a 45% plurality of residents live in Stevens' constituency, which is also numbered the 11th.

NE-01: Indicted Rep. Jeff Fortenberry's second TV ad for the May Republican primary once again portrays state Sen. Mike Flood as weak on immigration, and it makes use of the same "floods of illegal immigrants" pun from his opening spot. This time, though, the incumbent's commercial uses 2012 audio of then-Gov. Dave Heineman telling Flood, "I am extraordinarily disappointed with your support of taxpayer-funded benefits for illegal aliens." Heineman last month endorsed Flood over Fortenberry, whom the former governor called "the only Nebraska congressman that has ever been indicted on felony criminal charges."

OR-04: EMILY's List has endorsed state Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle in the May Democratic primary for this open seat.

PA-18: Last week, state Rep. Summer Lee earned an endorsement from the SEIU Pennsylvania State Council, which is made up of three prominent labor groups, ahead of the May Democratic primary for this open seat. TribLIVE.com notes that two of the unions took opposite sides in last year's Democratic primary for mayor of Pittsburgh: SEIU Healthcare supported Ed Gainey's victorious campaign, while SEIU 32 BJ stuck with incumbent Bill Peduto. (SEIU Local 668, the third member of the State Council, doesn't appear to have gotten involved in that contest.)

Lee, who also has the backing of now-Mayor Gainey, did, however, get outraised during her first quarter in the race to succeed retiring Rep. Mike Doyle. Attorney Steve Irwin, who is a former Pennsylvania Securities Commission head, outpaced Lee $340,000 to $270,000, and he ended December with a $295,000 to $200,000 cash-on-hand lead. Another candidate, law professor Jerry Dickinson, began running months before Doyle announced his departure in October, but he took in just $120,000 for the quarter and had $160,000 to spend. Nonprofit executive Stephanie Fox also kicked off her campaign in December, but she didn't report raising any money for the fourth quarter.

Redistricting is still in progress in Pennsylvania, but there's little question this will remain a safely blue Pittsburgh-based seat when all is said and done. What we know for sure, though, is that, because the state is dropping from 18 to 17 congressional districts, all of these candidates will be running for a constituency that has a different number than Doyle's existing one.

SC-01: Donald Trump on Wednesday night gave his "complete and total" endorsement to former state Rep. Katie Arrington's day-old campaign to deny freshman Rep. Nancy Mace renomination in the June Republican primary, and he characteristically used the occasion to spew bile at the incumbent. Trump not-tweeted, "Katie Arrington is running against an absolutely terrible candidate, Congresswoman Nancy Mace, whose remarks and attitude have been devastating for her community, and not at all representative of the Republican Party to which she has been very disloyal."

Trump previously backed Arrington's successful 2018 primary campaign against then-Rep. Mark Sanford about three hours before polls closed, and his statement continued by trying to justify her subsequent general election loss to Democrat Joe Cunningham. The GOP leader noted that Arrington had been injured in a car wreck 10 days after the primary, saying, "Her automobile accident a number of years ago was devastating, and made it very difficult for her to campaign after having won the primary against another terrible candidate, 'Mr. Argentina.'" It won't surprise you to learn, though, that a whole lot more went into why Cunningham, who suspended his campaign after his opponent was hospitalized, went on to defeat Arrington in one of the biggest upsets of the cycle.

Mace, as The State's Caitlin Byrd notes, spent most of the last several years as a Trump loyalist, and she even began working for his campaign in September of 2015 back when few gave him a chance. But that was before the new congresswoman, who won in 2020 by unseating Cunningham, was forced to barricade in her office during the Jan. 6 attack. "I can't condone the rhetoric from yesterday, where people died and all the violence," she said the next day, adding, "These were not protests. This was anarchy." She went even further in her very first floor speech days later, saying of Trump, "I hold him accountable for the events that transpired."

Still, Mace, unlike home-state colleague Tom Rice, refused to join the small group of Republicans that supported impeachment, and she stopped trying to pick fights with Trump afterwards. In a July profile in The Atlantic titled, "How a Rising Trump Critic Lost Her Nerve," the congresswoman said that intra-party attacks on him were an "enormous division" for the GOP. "I just want to be done with that," said Mace. "I want to move forward." Since then she has occasionally come into conflict with far-right party members like Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, but Mace has avoided messing with Trump directly.

Trump, though, very much isn't done with her, and Mace seems to have decided that the best way to fight back is to emphasize Arrington's loss. On Thursday, the incumbent posted a video shot across the street from Trump Tower where, after talking about her longtime Trump loyalty, she says, "If you want to lose this seat once again in a midterm election cycle to Democrats, then my opponent is more than qualified to do just that." The GOP legislature did what it could to make sure that no one could lose this coastal South Carolina seat to Democrats by passing a map that extended Trump's 2020 margin from 52-46 to 54-45, but that's not going to stop Mace from arguing that Arrington is electoral kryptonite.

While Trump, who The State says is planning to hold a rally in South Carolina as early as this month, has plenty of power to make the next several months miserable for Mace, the incumbent has the resources to defend herself: Mace raised $605,000 during the fourth quarter and ended December with $1.5 million on hand. The congressman also earned a high-profile endorsement of her own earlier this week from Nikki Haley, who resigned as governor in 2017 to become Trump's first ambassador to the United Nations.

TX-30: Protect our Future, a new super PAC co-funded by crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, has announced that it will spend $1 million to boost state Rep. Jasmine Crockett in the March 1 Democratic primary to succeed retiring Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson. Web3 Forward, which the Texas Tribune's Patrick Svitek also says is "linked to the crypto industry," is reporting spending $235,000 on pro-Crockett media as well. Until now, there had been no serious outside spending in this safely blue Dallas seat.

Secretaries of State

GA-SoS: Republican incumbent Brad Raffensperger's refusal to participate in the Big Lie earned him a Trump-backed May primary challenge from Rep. Jody Hice, and the congressman ended January with more money despite heavy early spending. Hice outraised Raffensperger $1 million to $320,000 from July 1 to Jan. 31, and he had a $650,000 to $515,000 cash-on-hand lead. Former Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle, who lost to Raffensperger in 2018, was far back with $210,000 raised, and he had $110,000 on hand.

On the Democratic side, state Rep. Bee Nguyen took in $690,000 during this time and had $945,000 to spend. Her nearest intra-party foe, former Milledgeville Mayor Floyd Griffin, was well back with only $65,000 raised and $20,000 on hand.

Mayors

Los Angeles, CA Mayor: Los Angeles' city clerk says that billionaire developer Rick Caruso has scheduled a Friday appointment to file for this open seat race, a move that comes one day ahead of the Feb. 12 filing deadline.

Morning Digest: Supreme Court blocks ruling that ordered Alabama to draw a second Black district

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

Leading Off

AL Redistricting: The Supreme Court stayed a lower court ruling that stuck down Alabama's new congressional map for violating Section Two of the Voting Rights Act on Monday, ensuring that the November election will take place using the map Republicans passed late last year.

Two weeks ago, a panel of three federal judges ruled that lawmakers were required to draw a second district where Black voters would be likely to elect their preferred candidates, determining that Black Alabamians are "sufficiently numerous" and "sufficiently geographically compact" to allow the creation of a second "reasonably configured" district with a voting-age Black majority.

Without issuing a written opinion explaining its rationale, the Supreme Court blocked that order from taking effect pending final resolution of the case, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the court's three liberal members to oppose the stay. In a concurring opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh claimed a stay was necessary because the lower court issued its ruling too close the 2022 elections.

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Justice Elena Kagan responded in a dissent that Alabama's primary is not until May 24 and that the court has in the past declined to stay redistricting decisions issued on similar timelines. Kagan further chastised the majority for failing to identify any way in which the three-judge panel might have erred, saying the only way its ruling could be reversed is if the Supreme Court were to adopt a brand-new requirement advocated by the Republican defendants that a computer, programmed to ignore race entirely, must automatically generate an unspecified number of maps that would yield a second Black district.

As a result, Alabama will use the GOP's preferred map, which features six majority-white districts and just one majority-Black district, despite the fact that African Americans make up 27% of the state's population. While it's possible that the lower court's ruling could eventually be sustained by the Supreme Court, the majority's move—and the high court's long hostility toward the Voting Rights Act—is a poor augur for the case's future.

Redistricting

Stay on top of the map-making process in all 50 states by bookmarking our invaluable redistricting timeline tracker, updated daily.

NJ Redistricting: New Jersey's Legislative Apportionment Commission has released two draft maps for the state legislature, which uses the same map to elect both chambers (each district elects one senator and two assemblymembers). The panel is evenly divided between the parties, with a tiebreaking member, retired appellate judge Philip Carchman, who was appointed by state Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. Carchman has his roots in Democratic politics, though he was first named to the bench in 1986 by Republican Gov. Tom Kean.

The commission must complete its work by March 1. Because New Jersey elects its legislature in odd-numbered years, new maps will not be used until 2023 (elections last year were held under the old maps because of delays in receiving data from the Census Bureau).

LA Redistricting: A committee in Louisiana's Republican-run state Senate has advanced a new congressional map that would not create a second district where Black voters could elect their preferred candidate, instead maintaining the status quo of a single Black district. A committee in the state House also passed a similar plan. Given the ease with which a second such district could be drawn—Democrats submitted several maps that would have done so—the state could be at risk of seeing its map overturned on the grounds that it violates the Voting Rights Act, though the U.S. Supreme Court gave voting rights advocates discouraging news Monday with its move in Alabama.

A more immediate question is whether Democrats can sustain a potential veto by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards. In the Senate, Republicans hold 27 of 39 seats, one more than the 26 needed to muster a two-thirds supermajority. The picture is cloudier in the House, where Republicans have 68 seats but would need 70 votes to override Edwards. The chamber is home to three independents who have sometimes sided with Democrats, but one independent and one Democrat voted for the GOP's plan in the House (the Senate vote broke along party lines).

OH Redistricting: The Ohio Supreme Court once again ruled that legislative maps passed by the state's Republican-dominated redistricting commission violate the state constitution, ordering the panel to convene for a third time to produce a compliant plan by Feb. 17.

In a 4-3 opinion released Monday evening, the court chastised commissioners for merely tweaking the invalid maps rather than starting afresh as they had been ordered to do. The majority also said that the commission failed to meet a constitutional requirement that the number of districts that favor each party must "correspond closely" to voters' statewide preferences, improperly classifying tossup districts as tilting toward Democrats.

"Bluntly, the commission's labeling of a district with a Democratic vote share between 50 and 51 percent (in one case, a district having a 50.03 percent vote share) as 'Democratic-leaning' is absurd on its face," wrote Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor, a Republican who joined with the court's three Democrats.

The justices once more noted, as they did in their initial ruling, that they "retain jurisdiction for the purpose of reviewing the new plan." They also advised state lawmakers to delay the upcoming May 3 primary "should that action become necessary."

PA Redistricting: Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough, who last week was tasked by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court with recommending a new congressional map, has selected the plan passed by Republican lawmakers but vetoed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in January. However, the Supreme Court, which has a 5-2 Democratic majority, is all but certain to reject the advice of McCullough, a conservative Republican who herself ran for the top court last year by pitching herself as "the ONLY Judge in America to order the 2020 Presidential Election results not be certified." (She lost the primary 52-33 to the eventual winner, Kevin Brobson.)

The justices will hold oral arguments on Feb. 18 and will likely settle on a final map soon after.

TN Redistricting: Republican Gov. Bill Lee has signed Tennessee's new congressional and legislative maps, which Republicans in the legislature recently passed. The congressional plan dismembered the 5th District, splitting the blue city of Nashville between three solidly red seats and prompting Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper to retire.

Senate

AK-Sen: Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski earned an endorsement over the weekend from Joe Manchin, her Democratic colleague from West Virginia, in the August top-four primary.  

Alabama: While a panel of three federal judges last month moved Alabama's filing deadline for U.S. House races from Jan. 28 to Feb. 11, the earlier date still applied to candidates for all other offices on the May 24 primary ballot. WHNT has put together a list of statewide contenders; a runoff would take place June 21 for any contests where no one secured a majority of the vote.  

AL-Sen: Six Republicans are facing off in a closely watched primary to succeed their fellow Republican, retiring Sen. Richard Shelby, in this dark red state. Rep. Mo Brooks, who helped foment the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, has endorsements from Donald Trump and the Club for Growth, while Shelby is pulling for his one-time chief of staff, former Business Council of Alabama head Katie Boyd Britt.

Army veteran Mike Durant, who was held as a prisoner of war in Somalia for 11 days in 1993 after his helicopter was shot out of the sky in the incident later depicted in the book and film "Blackhawk Down," doesn't have the same big-named allies, but he's using his personal wealth to get his name out. Three little-known Republicans are also competing in a race that Democrats aren't seriously targeting.

While Brooks looked like the frontrunner after winning the support of his party’s supreme leader, even Trump has reportedly been complaining that he’s running a weak campaign. One of the biggest gripes about the congressman for months has been his underwhelming fundraising, and the fourth quarter numbers only led to a fresh round of skepticism about his abilities:

  • Britt: $1.2 million raised, $4.1 million cash-on-hand
  • Brooks: $380,000 raised, $2 million cash-on-hand
  • Durant: $165,000 raised, additional $4.2 million self-funded, $2.5 million cash-on-hand

The Club has already spent $1.4 million to boost Brooks, and it recently released a poll putting him in the lead with 35% as Durant led Britt 30-25 for second. However, that’s a big drop from its October survey, which was done before Durant entered the race, which gave Brooks a dominant 55-12 advantage over Britt. Shelby, for his part, reportedly plans to send $5 million of his campaign funds to a pro-Britt super PAC.

Indiana: The filing deadline to appear on Indiana's May 3 candidate filing deadline was Friday, and the state has a list of contenders available here. Alabama’s U.S. House deadline is Friday while the state to watch afterwards will be Maryland, where major party contenders have until Feb. 22 to submit their paperwork.

IN-Sen: Even though the Hoosier State has hosted several competitive and expensive Senate races over the last decade, Republican incumbent Todd Young is the overwhelming favorite to win a second term in a state that Donald Trump took 57-41. Young outraised his most prominent Democratic foe, Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, $1.5 million to $75,000 during the fourth quarter, and he ended December with a $6.2 million to $50,000 cash-on-hand lead.  

ND-Sen: Republican state Rep. Rick Becker, a far-right lawmaker with a history of trying to undermine public health during the pandemic, launched a long-shot primary campaign against Sen. John Hoeven on Sunday. Becker, who previously was best known for trying to curtail the use of surveillance drones by police, campaigned for governor in 2016 but dropped out before the primary following a disappointing showing at the state party convention. There is no indication that Hoeven, who ended 2021 with $3.1 million on-hand, is vulnerable in the June nomination contest.

OH-Sen: You know things are bad when your own allies are talking about how your poll numbers are in a "precipitous decline," but that's exactly where venture capitalist J.D. Vance finds himself with about three months to go before the Republican primary. Politico's Alex Isenstadt obtained a 98-page report from Fabrizio Lee for Protect Ohio Values, the super PAC funded by megadonor Peter Thiel, that found the "Hillbilly Elegy" author in fifth place in mid-January with just 9%.

Former state Treasurer Josh Mandel edged out businessman Mike Gibbons 15-14, while former state party chair Jane Timken took a close third with 13%. Vance was even behind businessman Bernie Moreno―a self-funder who has since exited the race―who was at 11%. To make matters worse, Fabrizio Lee's October poll had Vance trailing Mandel only 19-16.

The pollster was blunt about why Vance could soon be authoring his own political elegy. While the one-time Trump critic has tried to refashion himself as an all-out MAGA champion, Mandel's allies at the Club for Growth and USA Freedom Fund spent last fall running ads based around 2016 footage of Vance saying, "I'm a Never Trump guy," as well as a screenshot of him tweeting about his party's nominee, "My god what an idiot."

Those attacks seem to have done exactly what they were intended to do: Fabrizio Lee now says that Vance's "association as a Never Trumper has only grown since November," and "being anti-Trump is the #1 reason voters do not like Vance." It adds, "The groups where Vance has improved are those we don't want him doing better with: Trump disapprovers and moderate/liberals." The presentation, of course, argued that Vance still had a path, but it didn't hide how bad things are for him at the moment: "Vance needs a course correction ASAP that will resolidify him as a true conservative. He has a ton of strong messaging to make that happen and he should push it hard."

Governors

AL-Gov: Gov. Kay Ivey faces an expensive Republican primary battle against former Ambassador to Slovenia Lindy Blanchard and businessman Tim James, who took a tight third in the 2010 nomination battle for this post. Six other Republicans, including nonprofit director Lew Burdette, are also in, but none of them have emerged as serious intra-party threats to the governor yet. The eventual nominee should have no trouble in the general election.

AdImpact reported Friday that the self-funding Blanchard, who dropped out of the Senate race to run here, is spending $4.1 million on advertisements compared to $2.6 million for Ivey. James, who is the son of two-time former Gov. Fob James, is far behind right now with $705,000.

James, though, did debut a new TV ad this week that tries to stoke as much conservative fury as he can. "Our leaders tell us that our country is racist to the core, that looting and burning down cities is normal and there are 50 genders," says the candidate, who does not mention Ivey.

GA-Gov, GA-10, GA-06: Former state Rep. Vernon Jones announced Monday that he was exiting the Republican primary for governor and would instead run for Congress in an as-of-yet unnamed constituency. Jones, a Trump-obsessed Democrat-turned-Republican, also endorsed former Sen. David Perdue's campaign to deny renomination to Gov. Brian Kemp in May.

As for what's next for Jones, unnamed allies tell the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he plans to seek the 10th District instead of the 6th, another open and safely red seat. CNN previously reported that Donald Trump had offered to endorse the former Democrat if he dropped down to a House race.

NE-Gov: Agribusinessman Charles Herbster has an almost-painfully generic ad for the May Republican primary that informs the audience that the contender, whom the narrator claims is "not a politician," is also "the only candidate endorsed by President Trump."

NY-Gov, NY-AG: In a long interview with Bloomberg published Monday, disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo repeatedly refused to directly address whether he was interested in running for office in 2022, while CNN reported hours later that he was "seriously considering a political comeback as early as this year." Cuomo's allies, said CNN, "have called to solicit opinions about his prospects should he decide to challenge New York Attorney General Letitia James in a Democratic primary." The candidate filing deadline is about two months away.

PA-Gov: State Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman's campaign describes his opening spot for the May Republican primary as a piece starring "Corman, his daughter, Bella, and a 1990s hair-band rocker," and let's just say it probably played better on paper than it does on TV.

House

CA-15: AFSCME Local 829 has endorsed David Canepa, a Democrat who serves on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, in the June top-two primary for this safely blue seat.

IA-02: State Sen. Liz Mathis has released the first survey we've seen of the race for this northeastern Iowa seat, and her internal from Public Policy Polling shows her trailing Republican incumbent Ashley Hinson only 43-42.

IN-01: Freshman Democratic Rep. Frank Mrvan faces several Republicans in the redrawn 1st District, a northwestern Indiana constituency that would have backed Joe Biden 53-45, though only former LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo looks like a serious opponent at this point. Mrvan finished December with $330,000 on-hand, while Milo launched her campaign in the following month.

IN-09: Rep. Trey Hollingsworth surprised just about everyone last month when he announced he would not seek a fourth term in the 9th District, a southeastern Indiana constituency that would have backed Donald Trump 63-35, and nine fellow Republicans are campaigning to succeed him. Only four of these contenders look serious, though Hollingsworth himself initially looked like just Some Dude in 2015 before the recent Tennessee transplant used his fortune to get his name out.

Perhaps the most familiar name is former Rep. Mike Sodrel, who is trying to return to the House after a 16-year absence. Sodrel ran five consecutive campaigns for a previous version of this southeastern Indiana seat—four of which were against Democrat Baron Hill—starting from 2002, but his one and only win came in 2004. After losing to Hill in 2006 and 2008, Sodrel's last campaign came to an unceremonious end in 2010 when he took third in a tight three-way primary against Todd Young, who went on to unseat Hill in the fall. While the one-term congressman has been out of the game for some time, his personal wealth gives him the resources to reintroduce himself to voters.

Another notable name is state Sen. Erin Houchin, who ran in 2016 when Young left to campaign for the Senate seat but she lost the primary to Hollingsworth 34-25. Houchin's second bid has the support of Rep. Larry Bucshon of the neighboring 8th District, as well as 2nd District Rep. Jackie Walorski. Rounding out the field are state Rep. J. Michael Davisson and Army veteran Stu Barnes-Israel.

KY-03: Retiring Rep. John Yarmuth on Monday endorsed state Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey in the May Democratic primary to succeed him in what remains a reliably blue seat. McGarvey faces state Rep. Attica Scott, who launched her campaign in July well before the incumbent announced his departure; McGarvey, by contrast, kicked off his own bid in October less than 10 minutes after Yarmuth said he wouldn't be seeking re-election.

Despite Scott's head start, though, McGarvey went into the new year with a massive financial lead. The minority leader outraised her $795,000 to $80,000 during the fourth quarter, and he concluded the period with a $700,000 to $20,000 cash-on-hand lead.

While Democrats initially feared that Republicans would try to gerrymander this Louisville seat, they ended up making only very minor alterations to the 3rd: We've crunched the 2020 presidential results here, and like the old district, the new one would have voted for Joe Biden by a 60-38 margin.

We're also pleased to present the results of the 2020 presidential election for Kentucky's other five new congressional districts: You haven't previously seen this data because last cycle, all but one county in the state reported returns solely at the county-wide level. (This was the consequence of a pandemic-related decision to establish large "vote centers" where any eligible voter can vote, rather than require them to cast ballots at their own specific precinct.) That means there's insufficient precinct-level data available, so systems that use precinct results to calculate district-level results have nothing to work with.

Fortunately, there's a workaround. Only six counties are split between districts on Kentucky's new map, and one of them is Jefferson. Not only is it the largest in the state (it's the home of Louisville), it's also the one place that provided precinct results for 2020, letting us calculate results for the districts it encompasses in the traditional manner.

The other five, meanwhile, are relatively small, ranging from Bath County (pop. 13,000) to Nelson County (pop. 47,000). That allows us to treat each of them as, in essence, one giant precinct that we can divide proportionally between districts based on population. That's not ideal, and it means some district-level calculations will have error bars. Luckily, though, these five counties only amount to 3% of the state's total population, and they're also fairly homogenous: All are heavily white and voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. What's more, precinct results from 2016 show the Trump vote was evenly distributed throughout these counties.

Ultimately, the new boundaries changed very little. Kentucky Republicans notably drew an extended tongue from the rural 1st District, which starts at the Kentucky Bend in the far western reaches of the state, to absorb the state capital of Frankfort—an appendage that is more vividly seen than described. The maneuver was designed to shore up Republican Rep. Andy Barr, whose 6th District was the site of a competitive election in 2018, but the toplines did not shift much: The old 6th voted for Trump by a 54-44 margin (about 9 points without rounding), while the revamped district would have gone for Trump 55-44.

MI-11: The local pollster Target Insyght finds Reps. Andy Levin and Haley Stevens deadlocked 41-41 in their August Democratic primary showdown. Last week, Stevens released an Impact Research internal giving her a 42-35 advantage in this incumbent vs. incumbent race.  

NC-11: Democratic Rep. Kathy Manning declared Friday morning she was "planning on running," and she correctly predicted that the state Supreme Court would strike down a GOP gerrymander. Had that map stood, Manning would have most likely gone up against Republican incumbent Virginia Foxx for a 57-42 Trump seat.

NY-03: State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi announced Monday that she would compete in the June Democratic primary for the 3rd Congressional District, an open Long Island-based seat that just picked up a slice of her base in the Bronx and Westchester County in its latest incarnation. Data from Dave's Redistricting App shows that the revamped 3rd, which is open because Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi is waging a long-shot bid for governor, would have supported Joe Biden 56-42, which makes it a hair bluer than his 55-44 showing in the old version.  

Biaggi is the granddaughter of the late Rep. Mario Biaggi, who was elected to a Bronx-based seat in 1968 and resigned in 1988 after becoming ensnared in a tangle of several different corruption cases. The younger Biaggi, who worked as an attorney for then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a staffer on Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, first sought elected office in 2018 when she launched a primary campaign against state Sen. Jeff Klein, the well-financed leader of the renegade faction of Democrats known as the Independent Democratic Conference.

While Klein and the rest of the IDC were despised by the party's grassroots for helping Republicans stay in control of the state Senate even when Democrats held a majority of the seats, the incumbent easily defeated a prominent intra-party foe in 2014 and very much looked like the frontrunner to hold on again. Biaggi, though, quickly consolidated support from notable mainstream Democrats; Klein was also on the defensive after a former Senate staffer accused him of forcibly kissing her in 2015.

Ultimately, Biaggi defeated Klein 54-46 as five of his seven IDC allies were also going down, an outcome that helped Democrats months later secure their first stable majority in the chamber since World War II. Biaggi quickly established herself as a progressive star who was talked about as a possible candidate for higher office: In early 2021 she didn't rule out running against Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and she reportedly considered challenging her old boss, Cuomo, just before he resigned in disgrace.

While Biaggi enters the race with experience winning a tough primary, the new 3rd Congressional District's shape still poses a potentially big obstacle for her. Only about 6% of the seat's denizens are currently her constituents, so the state senator starts out without much of a geographic base. Still, a total of 18% of the seat lives in Westchester County with another 5% in the Bronx, and Biaggi may be able to appeal to these voters especially if she's the only serious contender from the northern part of the district.

However, the bulk of the 3rd is still based in or near Long Island: 36% of its residents live in Nassau County compared to another 29% in Suffolk County to the east, with the remaining 11% in Queens. Several Long Island-based politicians are already seeking the Democratic nod including Deputy Suffolk County Executive Jon Kaiman, who lost to Suozzi in 2016 when the 3rd was last open; Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan; DNC member Robert Zimmerman; and Melanie D'Arrigo, a progressive activist who lost to Suozzi in the 2020 primary. Lafazan outraised D'Arrigo $455,000 to $80,000 during the fourth quarter and held a $405,000 to $115,000 cash-on-hand lead, while Kaiman and Zimmerman entered in the new year.

Whoever wins the Democratic nod will be favored in November, though Republicans are hoping that their good showing in last year's local elections in Nassau and Suffolk counties mean they'll have an opening. Team Red's only notable contender is 2020 nominee George Santos, who lost to Suozzi 56-43; Santos raised $250,000 for the quarter and had $320,000 on-hand.

NY-16: Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said last week he was "looking at" challenging Rep. Jamaal Bowman in the June Democratic primary, though the "hardcore moderate in the middle" seemed more interested in backing the bid that Westchester Public Works Commissioner Tom Meier is reportedly planning in what remains a safely blue seat. Spano was far more direct about what he thought of the congressman, who was arrested last month at a pro-voting rights protest: The mayor declared that "they should have arrested him for his vote on the infrastructure bill," with the local NAACP quickly responding, “To call for the arrest of a congressman, the first Black one to represent us in the 16th Congressional District, was intentional and we are outraged.”

NY-22: Former Assemblyman Sam Roberts announced Monday that he was joining the Democratic primary for the new 22nd District, an open Syracuse area seat that would have supported Joe Biden 58-40. (About 70% of the new 22nd's residents live in the old 24th, where Republican Rep. John Katko is retiring.) Roberts made history in 2010 when he became the first Black person elected to represent Central New York in the legislature, and he resigned in 2015 to lead the state's Office of Temporary Assistance and Disability.

TN-05, TN-07: Former State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said Monday that she would compete in the August Republican primary for the newly-gerrymandered 5th District, an announcement that came less than two weeks after Donald Trump pre-endorsed her.

Several MAGA talking heads have already expressed their disappointment that Trump didn't instead back music video producer Robby Starbuck, who was running even before the new map transformed this from a 60-37 Biden district to a 54-43 Trump constituency, but it remains to be seen if primary voters will care. Other Republicans could also get in including attorney Kurt Winstead, a retired brigadier general in the Tennessee National Guard who filed FEC paperwork on Monday.  

On the Democratic side, community activist Odessa Kelly's team acknowledged that she could switch to the 7th District and take on Republican Rep. Mark Green. Trump would have prevailed 56-41 here, which makes it on paper even less friendly turf than the 5th.

TX-28: For the first time, attorney Jessica Cisneros is running a TV ad focused on the recent FBI raid on conservative Rep. Henry Cuellar's home and campaign headquarters ahead of their March 1 Democratic primary rematch. The spot begins with several news reports about Cuellar's troubles before the narrator promotes Cisneros as "a better choice."

TX-35: State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez's first TV spot ahead of next month's Democratic primary parodies the old Dos Equis "most interesting man in the world" ad campaign with a narrator proclaiming near the end, "He is … the most interesting candidate for Congress." Before that, the commercial commends Rodriguez for being one of the rare state legislators to cast a vote against a pro-Iraq War resolution, defending an Austin Planned Parenthood clinic from Republicans, and helping "Democrats escape on a plane to protest voter suppression" while remembering "a case of beer."

TX-37: Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett's new spot promotes him as a "true blue progressive."

Voting Rights Roundup: Alaska court upholds new top-four primary and ranked-choice general election

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Alaska: A state trial court has upheld the constitutionality of Alaska's new law that created a "top-four" primary followed by a general election using ranked-choice voting (aka instant-runoff voting). The ruling rejected arguments by the plaintiffs, who consisted of the right-wing Alaskan Independence Party and members of the Libertarian and Republican parties, that the law approved by voters in a 2020 ballot initiative violated political parties' rights under the state constitution to freely associate.

One of the plaintiffs, former Libertarian legislative candidate Scott Kohlhaas, said he and the other plaintiffs would likely appeal. However, Alaskan Independence Party chairman Bob Bird expressed skepticism that they have much of a chance at success before the state Supreme Court, which has a 4-1 majority of justices appointed by Republican governors.

Consequently, Alaska remains on track to become the first state in the country to implement a "top-four" primary with ranked-choice voting in the general election after Maine in 2016 became the first state to adopt ranked-choice voting overall; Maine's law differs in that it maintained traditional party primaries. By contrast, Alaska's variant of this system will require all the candidates for congressional, legislative, and statewide races to face off on one primary ballot, where contenders will have the option to identify themselves with a party label or be listed as "undeclared" or "nonpartisan."​

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​The top four vote-getters regardless of party will advance to the general election, where voters will be able to rank their choices using instant-runoff voting. The law will also institute ranked-choice voting in presidential elections, though traditional party primaries will remain in effect for those races. The law further sets up new financial disclosure requirements for state-level candidates.

The implementation of the new top-four ranked-choice voting system may play a key role in next year's Senate election, where Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski is facing a tough challenge from the right by former state cabinet official Kelly Tshibaka after she voted to convict Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial earlier this year. Tshibaka has been endorsed by the state GOP and Trump himself, but rather than face the constraint of needing to win a Republican primary dominated by Trump diehards to advance to the general election, Murkowski is all but assured of making it to the general election ballot under the top-four system.

However, the new voting system is hardly a guarantee that Murkowski will win another term in this conservative state. If Democratic voters consolidate around a Democratic candidate whom they rank ahead of Murkowski, the incumbent could end up getting squeezed out of the ranked-choice process in the general election; if she is many voters' second choice but few voters' first choice, she could be eliminated before a Democrat and Tshibaka. Thus, Murkowski will likely need some measure of initial support from Democratic and independent voters in addition to more moderate Republicans if she's to make it to the final round of the ranked-choice voting process.

Redistricting

2020 Census: Mark your calendars: The U.S. Census Bureau will release the population data essential for redistricting at a press conference on the afternoon of Aug. 12. The deadline was originally set for April 1, but it was delayed because of the disruptions from the pandemic.

Colorado: Colorado's state Supreme Court has agreed to extend the deadline for the new independent congressional redistricting commission to complete its work because of the delay in the release of the Census Bureau data needed to conduct redistricting until Aug. 16; the commission now plans to pass a final map by Oct. 1 instead of Sept. 1. Commissioners previously unveiled a preliminary map in June drawn using data estimates.

Voting Access Expansions

Guam: Democratic Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has signed a law that permanently adopts in-person absentee voting after the Democratic-run legislature temporarily adopted it last year due to the pandemic, effectively allowing voters to vote early in-person.

Maine: Democratic Gov. Janet Mills has signed a law that will allow voters to register online beginning in 2023. With Maine's adoption of online registration, every state where Democrats control the state government has passed such laws. Only seven states that require voters to register have not allowed full online registration, all of which are run by Republicans, and Texas is home to roughly three-fourths of the people living in those states, who constitute roughly one in eight Americans.

Massachusetts: Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has signed a bill passed by the Democratic-run legislature with bipartisan support to extend pandemic-era voting access measures through Dec. 15 so that they will remain in place for upcoming local elections (such as Boston's mayoral contest) while lawmakers decide whether to make them permanent. The provisions in question include expanded early voting and no-excuse mail voting.

Voter Suppression

Georgia: Republican legislators have taken the first step toward a potential state takeover of election administration in Fulton County after key GOP lawmakers signaled their support for a "performance review" of the county, which could eventually lead to the GOP-run State Board of Elections temporarily replacing the officials in charge of elections in the county. Fulton County is a Democratic stronghold with a large Black population that is home to Atlanta and one in ten state residents, making it Georgia's largest county.

An eventual state takeover is possible under a law Republicans passed earlier this year that contained several new voting restrictions, which prompted a national backlash of condemnation and numerous lawsuits that argued it was a way to make voting harder for key Democratic-leaning groups and enable GOP officials to overturn election results after Trump's attempt to do so with the 2020 elections failed. Georgia is just one of several states where Republican lawmakers have passed legislation to give partisan GOP officials more control over election administration ahead of the 2022 midterms and 2024 presidential election.

Texas: Democratic Party organizations and civil rights advocates have reached a settlement with Republican officials in Texas that will see the latter permanently implement a limited online voter registration system after a federal court last year ruled that Texas was violating federal law and ordered the state to establish partial online registration. The court found that Texas had violated the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, commonly known as the "motor voter" law, by failing to offer online registration updates for eligible voters renewing their driver's license or updating their address with the DMV online, and roughly one million voters have registered online since the court's ruling.

Morning Digest: Trio of Trump-endorsed Senate candidates gets swamped in primary fundraising

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

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AK-Sen, AL-Sen, NC-Sen: While a trio of Republican Senate candidates have Donald Trump's coveted endorsement, Politico's James Arkin notes that each of them was still decisively outraised by an intra-party opponent during the second quarter of 2021.

We'll start in Alaska, where incumbent Lisa Murkowski outpaced former state cabinet official Kelly Tshibaka $1.1 million to $545,000. The senator, who has not yet confirmed if she'll run again, also ended June with a wide $2.3 million to $275,000 cash-on-hand edge. Murkowski famously lost the 2010 nomination only to win in the fall as a write-in candidate, but the Last Frontier voted last year to do away with partisan primaries and instead institute the new top-four system.

The GOP primary in Alabama, meanwhile, pits Trump-endorsed Rep. Mo Brooks against ex-Business Council of Alabama head Katie Boyd Britt, a former chief of staff to retiring Sen. Richard Shelby who has her old boss' backing; a few other candidates are running as well. Britt entered the race in June and quickly hauled in $2.2 million compared to $820,000 for Brooks. And while Brooks, who helped foment the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, enjoyed a big fundraising head start thanks to his April launch and his ability to transfer funds from his House account to his Senate campaign, it's Britt who enjoys a $2.2 million to $1.7 million cash-on-hand lead.

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Britt's strong opening quarter wasn't a huge surprise given her extensive connections in the state's business circles. CNN also reported in late May, just before she launched her campaign, that some unnamed Republicans feared that Brooks would be "an unreliable ally to the business community" and saw Britt as a good alternative.  

Both contenders, though, have far less money than former Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard, who has been self-funding most of her campaign. While Blanchard hauled in just $190,000 from donors from April to June, she's sitting on $5.2 million. Another Republican, businesswoman Jessica Taylor, entered the race in July after the new fundraising quarter began. A runoff would take place if no one takes a majority of the vote in the first round of the primary, and the GOP nominee will be the heavy favorite to prevail in the general election.

Trump, for his part, is doing what he can to make sure that Brooks’ underwhelming fundraising doesn't stop him from being that nominee. Earlier this month, he put out a not-Tweet slamming Britt and Shelby, who has been an ardent Trump ally, with the venom he usually only reserves for the likes of Murkowski and other politicians who have crossed him. "I see that the RINO Senator from Alabama, close friend of Old Crow Mitch McConnell, Richard Shelby, is pushing hard to have his 'assistant' fight the great Mo Brooks for his Senate seat," Trump declared, adding, "She is not in any way qualified and is certainly not what our Country needs or not what Alabama wants."

Britt responded, "I don't need anyone else to fight my battles, and as Alabama's next U.S. Senator, I won't be a rubber stamp for anyone." Trump has yet to publicly attack either Blanchard or Taylor.

Finally in North Carolina, another Trump-backed congressman, Ted Budd, got swamped in the money race by former Gov. Pat McCrory. McCrory outpaced Budd $1.2 million to $700,000, though Budd self-funded an additional $250,000. Unlike Brooks, though, Budd's pre-existing war chest left him with a $1.7 million to $955,000 cash-on-hand lead over the former governor. Another Republican candidate, former Rep. Mark Walker, wasn't in such good shape, however: Walker raised a mere $190,000 for the quarter, and he had $925,000 in the bank.

The top fundraiser in this quarter wasn't any of the Republicans, though. Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley finished just ahead of McCrory by bringing in $1.3 million during her first months in the contest, and she ended it with $835,000 on-hand.

State Sen. Jeff Jackson, who launched his campaign in January, brought in a smaller $720,000 this time, though his $865,000 war chest was slightly larger than Beasley's. Former state Sen. Erica Smith, who lost the 2020 primary, was a distant third for Team Blue with $115,000 raised and $55,000 on-hand, while Beaufort Mayor Rett Newton was even further behind. Primary runoffs only take place in the Tar Heel State if no one takes at least 30% of the vote.

Senate

OK-Sen: Republican Sen. James Lankford learned over the last few days both that he has a massive cash-on-hand edge over his intra-party rival, pastor Jackson Lahmeyer, and that he wouldn't be getting censured by the state party.

Lahmeyer's longshot campaign earned some attention a few weeks ago when party chair John Bennett announced that he was backing the challenger because of Lankford's refusal to object to certifying Joe Biden's electoral college majority in the hours after the Jan. 6 attack. That declaration came just before the conclusion of the second quarter, which saw the incumbent outraise Lahmeyer $780,000 to $210,000; Lankford also ended June with a $1.6 million to $135,000 cash-on-hand lead.

It remains to be seen if Oklahoma's conservative base will be open to firing Lankford, but so far, a majority of Bennett's colleagues at the state's Republican State Committee aren't. On Saturday, the body voted 122-93 against censuring both Lankford and fellow Sen. Jim Inhofe for recognizing Biden's win.

Governors

CA-Gov: Candidate filing closed Friday for the Sept. 14 recall election against Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, and the secretary of state's office has a list of contenders available here. As we'll discuss, though, one notable Republican, conservative radio host Larry Elder, is disputing his omission from the document and has indicated he would sue to make the ballot.

Voters will be presented with two separate questions on the September ballot. The first will ask whether Newsom should be recalled, while the second will ask them to pick among the candidates vying to succeed him. The results of the second question will only matter if a majority vote "yes" on the first question; should this happen, the replacement candidate who wins a plurality of the vote will become California's new governor.

Newsom's party affiliation will not be listed on the ballot because his legal team didn't turn in required paperwork on time last year, though the replacement candidates will be identified by party. Polls have generally shown the recall question failing, though no numbers have been released since the election was scheduled early this month.

A total of 41 candidates have qualified for the ballot (there is no primary or general election here) which means that this field, while large, is nonetheless far smaller than the 135-person contest from 2003. And while Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger dominated the race 18 years ago when voters opted to recall Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, there is no clear front runner on the GOP side this time. The notable contenders are:

  • 2018 nominee John Cox
  • Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer
  • Board of Equalization Member Ted Gaines
  • Reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner
  • Assemblyman Kevin Kiley
  • Former Rep. Doug Ose

Jenner’s campaign announced Friday that she had flown to Australia to take part in the filming of the TV show Big Brother VIP, though the candidate insisted she was still running.

One Republican who was not listed, though, was the aforementioned Elder, who is a regular Fox News guest. Election officials told him over the weekend that he hadn't submitted legally-required information about his tax history, though it's not clear yet what he didn't include. Elder shared the secretary of state's letter on Twitter on Sunday and added, "See you in court."

Another key difference from the state's last recall campaign is that, while eight Democrats filed to replace Newsom, none of them appear to be capable of running serious campaigns. That's welcome news for the governor and his allies, who strongly discouraged big-name contenders from getting in so they could avoid a repeat of the 2003 debacle.

In that race, Democrats rallied around Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante as their backup choice in case the recall succeeded with the awkward slogan of "no on recall, yes on Bustamante." That position became even more precarious when Bustamante started to criticize Davis in the evident hope that the recall would succeed and he'd reap the rewards. (He didn't.)

IL-Gov: Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Monday that he would seek a second term in 2022, and so far, none of his would-be Republican foes have raised the type of money they'll need to have a real chance to take him down in this very blue and very expensive state.

The GOP contender with the largest war chest is state Sen. Darren Bailey, a right-wing extremist who, among other things, was ejected from a House session last year for refusing to wear a face mask. Bailey raised only $165,000 but he still ended June with $490,000 in his campaign fund. Businessman Gary Rabine, who is self-funding much of his bid, hauled in a total of $345,000 and had $285,000 left over. A third candidate, former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, raised just $85,000 and had $115,000 on-hand.

Pritzker, meanwhile, raised only $200,000 but, thanks to a massive personal investment in March, had $32.9 million in the bank. The governor has an estimated net worth of well over $3 billion, and he's more than capable of throwing down far more money if he wants to.

OR-Gov: New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof told Willamette Week's Rachel Monahan that he was considering seeking the Democratic nomination in next year's open seat race.

Kristof, who has spent much of his career writing about global human rights issues, is originally from the Beaver State, and the Times says he returned two years ago when he became more involved with his family farm. A spokesperson for the paper also said, "Although Nick has not made up his mind about whether to pursue a political candidacy, we agreed he'd go on leave from The Times, in accordance with Times standards, after he brought this possibility to our attention last month."

VA-Gov: The conservative American Principles Project has released a survey from the Republican firm Spry Strategies that gives Democrat Terry McAuliffe a 46-41 lead over Republican Glenn Youngkin.

House

IL-17: Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said Monday that he would not run to succeed his fellow Democrat, retiring Rep. Cheri Bustos.

SC-07: Republican Rep. Tom Rice faces a cavalcade of primary opponents thanks to his January vote to impeach Donald Trump, but surprisingly, the only one who brought in a large amount of money during the second quarter was a contender we hadn't previously mentioned. Graham Allen, an Army veteran and conservative media figure, hauled in $410,000 and self-funded another $92,000, and he ended June with $465,000 in the bank. Rice himself had a smaller $325,000 haul, though he had $1.6 million on-hand to defend himself.

The incumbent also had a considerably better quarter than two of his other noteworthy foes. Horry County School Board chair Ken Richardson raised a mere $25,000 but, thanks to some self-funding he did earlier in the year, had nearly $100,000 in the bank. Former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride, though, took in just over $3,000 during his first few weeks as a candidate.

TX-06: Former Rep. Joe Barton, who left Congress in 2019 after 34 years in office following a sex scandal, threw his support behind state Rep. Jake Ellzey on Monday ahead of July 27's all GOP-runoff. Barton said that both Ellzey and party activist Susan Wright, who is the widow of the late Rep. Ron Wright, would make good members of Congress, but that Ellzey was the best option "on the merits."

Barton's decision is a bit surprising because of his long relationship with Ron Wright, who served as his chief of staff and district director during his long tenure. Local politicos speculated for years that Wright would be Barton's heir apparent whenever he decided to call it a career: That retirement announcement came during the 2018 cycle after Barton apologized when a "graphic nude photo" of him circulated online and the public learned even more unsavory aspects of his personal life.

Wright ended up competing in the GOP primary runoff against none other than Ellzey, a campaign he ultimately won. Barton, for his part, said that while he planned to support his former employee, he was "not sure if anybody would want my endorsement, so I might come out against somebody if that helps them." The incumbent, though, ended up backing his protege the old-fashioned way by holding events for Wright in both Washington and in the district.

Mayors

St. Petersburg, FL Mayor: Outgoing Mayor Rick Kriseman announced Monday that he was backing former Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch, a fellow Democrat, in the Aug. 24 nonpartisan primary to succeed him.

Seattle, WA Mayor: The Northwest Progressive Institute, which says it does not take sides in elections, has released a survey of the Aug. 3 top-two primary from the Democratic firm Change Research that shows former City Council President Bruce Harrell ahead with 20%, while City Council President Lorena Gonzalez holds a 12-10 lead over nonprofit head Colleen Echohawk for the second place spot; two other contenders, former state Rep. Jessyn Farrell and architect Andrew Grant Houston, were behind with 6% each.

Toledo, OH Mayor: Democratic incumbent Wade Kapszukiewicz picked up a well-known opponent just before candidate filing closed on Friday when former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, a former Democrat and Republican who now identifies as an "independent-Democrat," entered this year's race to face him. Kapszukiewicz, Finkbeiner, and Republican Jan Scotland will face off in the Sept. 14 nonpartisan primary, and the top-two vote-getters will advance to the November general.

Finkbeiner led Toledo from 1994 to 2002 and from 2006 to 2010, and he attracted national attention early in his tenure by suggesting that the city could deal with airport noise by moving deaf people into the affected areas. Finkbeiner would continue to generate plenty of press throughout his two stints as mayor, including in 2009 when he personally broke up a fight in a park between two teenagers and labeled one "fatso" and "tubby."

Finkbeiner launched another campaign to return to office in a 2015 special election, but he finished in third place: Interim Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson beat another former mayor, Mike Bell, 36-17, while Finkbeiner was just behind with 16%. (That election required candidates to win just a plurality of the vote, so Finkbeiner didn't come close to winning.) Two years later, Kapszukiewicz defeated Hicks-Hudson 55-45 in the race for a regular four-year term.

Finkbeiner, who is 82, announced Friday that he would try again by going up against Kapszukiewicz. The challenger argued that he had the experience to deal with crime and blight, while Kapszukiewicz's campaign said in response that Finkbeiner had "laid off nearly 100 police officers and eliminated the gang task force" during his last term.

Other Races

Queens, NY Borough President: On Friday, former New York City Councilwoman Liz Crowley conceded defeat in the June 22 Democratic primary. Incumbent Donovan Richards fended off Crowley 50.3-49.7 after a nasty race, and he should have no trouble in the November general election in this very blue borough.  

Nassau County, NY Executive: Democratic incumbent Laura Curran begins the general election with a wide financial lead over her Republican foe, Hempstead Councilman Bruce Blakeman, in this populous Long Island community. Curran, who was elected in a close 2017 race, outraised Blakeman $950,000 to $575,000 from mid-January to mid-July, and she has a $2.1 million to $550,000 cash-on-hand edge going into the November general election.

Morning Digest: Why we won’t know the winner of New York’s mayoral primaries for weeks

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

Leading Off

New York City, NY Mayor: A final poll from Ipsos ahead of Tuesday's instant-runoff Democratic primary in New York City shows Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams in a strong position to secure his party's nomination, in contrast with other recent polls that have shown one of his top rivals, former city Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, prevailing in the end. But regardless of who's leading, it may not be until mid-July until we know who's actually won—more on that in a bit.

First, the new survey, which gives Adams the lead with 28% when it comes to voters' first-choice preferences, while 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang edges out Garcia 20-15 for second. This is the strongest performance in some time for Yang, the one-time frontrunner, but it's not good enough: Ipsos shows Adams beating him by a wide 56-44 spread in the seventh and final round of ranked-choice tabulations.

We've seen a few other polls in the last few weeks, and while they all agree that Adams is in striking distance to take the nomination, they're not united in designating him as the undisputed frontrunner. The best recent numbers for Adams prior to Ipsos' new data came from a Marist College poll conducted in early June that had him defeating Garcia 56-44 in the last round of tabulations.

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But those contrasted with Public Opinion Strategies' survey for the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, that found Garcia narrowly beating Adams 52-48 after ranked-choice tabulations were complete. The Democratic pollster Change Research, on behalf of a pro-Garcia super PAC, showed something very similar, with Garcia triumphing over Adams in the end by a slim 51-49 margin.

One big challenge for pollsters is that New York City will be the largest jurisdiction in America to ever hold an instant-runoff election, and no one, including the candidates, is quite sure what to expect. Vividly illustrating the terra incognita this new system is uncovering, Yang and Garcia made news over the weekend by campaigning together, an alliance that would never come about in a traditional primary.

The accord however, didn't quite amount to a formal coalition: While Yang implored his voters, "Rank me No. 1 and then rank Kathryn Garcia No. 2," Garcia didn't ask her supporters to make Yang their second choice. (It's not clear why Yang assented to such a one-sided arrangement, but Garcia says his team "absolutely knew what I was gonna say.")

The joint appearances drew a furious response from Adams, who spent his final days accusing his rivals of banding together to stop New York City from electing its second-ever Black mayor. Attorney Maya Wiley, who is also Black, had a very different response, expressing her support for ranked-choice voting and condemning Adams' description of the alliance as a form of "voter suppression."

No matter what, though, we're very unlikely to know for sure who's won the Democratic nomination until mid-July. While votes will be tabulated Tuesday after polls close at 9 PM ET for ballots cast in-person during the early voting period and on Election Day, mail-in votes will not be counted until the week of July 12. The New York City Board of Elections said last month that the delay is a result of a state law that allows absentee votes to be received for up to two weeks after Election Day, and for voters to fix any minor errors.

Ranked-choice tabulations will not occur on election night but will instead start June 29. You'll notice that this date is long before the count of mail ballots will begin, raising the obvious question of why anyone would bother tabulating any instant-runoff scenarios before all votes are counted, since they won't be representative of the full electorate. (If there's a good explanation, we haven't heard it.)

Instant-runoff voting is also being used in other city primaries, including races for comptroller, borough president, and City Council, many of which are open due to term limits. A big exception, though, is the crowded race for Manhattan district attorney: Because the post is a state-level office, the ballot measure New York City voters approved in 2019 to establish ranked-choice voting doesn't apply, so the victor only needs a plurality to prevail.

Key elections in the rest of the state, including the Democratic primary for mayor of Buffalo, are also being conducted with plurality rules, so there's a better chance we'll know the winners of these races somewhat earlier, though delays in processing mail ballots still apply.

Senate

AK-Sen: Donald Trump has endorsed former Alaska cabinet official Kelly Tshibaka in her quest to dethrone Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, whom Trump has long despised for her insufficient fealty. Tshibaka once wrote approvingly of "conversion therapy" and hasn't answered questions as to whether she still believes in the discredited practice herself. On a now-defunct personal blog, she also warned that the "Twilight" series of vampire books and movies "is evil and we should not read or watch it" because it "leaves us open to the enemy's attacks."

MO-Sen: Attorney Mark McCloskey, who is seeking the Republican nomination for Senate, pleaded guilty late last week to a misdemeanor assault charge after he and his wife brandished firearms at a group of Black Lives Matter demonstrators. McCloskey paid a $750 fine and surrendered the weapon he pointed at protestors last year, but he said immediately after his sentencing that "I'd do it again" and quickly purchased a new rifle that he proudly showed off on social media.

Meanwhile, it looks like we can rule out Republican Rep. Blaine Leutkemeyer for this race: A spokesperson told The Missourian that the congressman "has no interest in pursuing other offices."

NC-Sen: File this one under endorsements you don't want—if you're running in a GOP primary: Retiring Sen. Richard Burr, who was one of seven Republicans who voted to convict Donald Trump at his second impeachment trial, just described former Gov. Pat McCrory as "the only one in the race that can win the general election" in next year's Senate race in North Carolina. It's not clear whether McCrory actually considers Burr's comments to be a formal statement of support, but the surest sign we can look for is whether rival campaigns try to use this against him at some point.

PA-Sen: Montgomery County Commission Chair Val Arkoosh earned an endorsement on Monday from EMILY's List ahead of next year's Democratic primary for this open seat. Arkoosh is the only woman running a serious campaign for Team Blue's nomination, and that looks unlikely to change now that Reps. Madeleine Dean and Chrissy Houlahan have both taken their names out of contention.

Governors

AL-Gov: State Auditor Jim Zeigler said Monday that he was forming an exploratory committee for a potential Republican primary campaign against Gov. Kay Ivey, but don't mark him down as a candidate yet. Zeigler took this very action back in 2018, but he ended up staying out of that contest for governor. The auditor said later that year that he'd formed an exploratory committee for a 2020 Senate race, but he never so much as filed FEC paperwork afterwards.

AZ-Gov: Former Rep. Matt Salmon unveiled an endorsement Monday from extremist Rep. Andy Biggs for next year's Republican primary. It's hardly a surprise that Biggs decided to back his predecessor in Congress: Back in 2016, Salmon issued a retirement announcement that caught almost everyone off guard except Biggs, who immediately entered the House race with Salmon's endorsement.

CA-Gov: Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is out with a trio of TV ads as part of what Politico says is a $3 million opening reservation ahead of the unscheduled recall vote, and while the first spot touts his accomplishments, the other two take aim at his many far-right enemies.

One commercial begins, "The same Trump Republicans who refuse to accept the presidential election are back, passing voter suppression laws across the country. Now, they've set their sights on California." As footage of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol plays, the narrator declares, "Different tactics, same assault on democracy."

The final ad, which is running in Spanish, makes many of the same arguments while also focusing on a figure closer to home. The narrator reminds viewers that a recall organizer named Orrin Heatlie wrote that his allies "supported tracking immigrants with microchips."

ID-Gov: Far-right anti-government militant Ammon Bundy, who unsuccessfully tried to file paperwork for a gubernatorial bid last month, has now officially kicked off his campaign for the GOP nomination. (For what it's worth, that filing snafu appears to be have been resolved, since Bundy's campaign is now listed as "Active" on the Idaho secretary of state's website.)

Bundy is best known for leading an armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016, in protest of federal land management policies. While other militants were convicted of charges in relation to the occupation, Bundy himself was acquitted. Yet despite his reputation, Bundy may not be the most extreme candidate in the race, since he's competing with Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin for the title. Both are challenging incumbent Gov. Brad Little, who has yet to declare for re-election.

MD-Gov: Nonprofit executive Jon Baron announced Monday that he was joining the crowded Democratic primary for this open seat. Baron, who formed an exploratory committee back in March, is a former official in the Clinton-era Department of Defense who went on to serve on boards and commissions during the Bush and Obama administrations, though this is his first run for office.

Baron later worked as vice president of Arnold Ventures, a group supported by a billionaire couple that describes its mission as "invest[ing] in evidence-based solutions that maximize opportunity and minimize injustice." The nonprofit was in the headlines last year after it launched a program where it attempted to reduce crime by flying drones over Baltimore; Baron says he had nothing to do with this controversial initiative, which ended after six months.

NJ-Gov: Farleigh Dickinson University has put out the first poll of New Jersey's gubernatorial race conducted after the June 8 primary and finds Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy up 48-33 on former Republican Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli. A poll taken by Rutgers shortly before the primary had Murphy ahead 52-26.

OR-Gov: On Friday, Yamhill County Commissioner Casey Kulla became the first elected official to announce a campaign for the Democratic nomination for this open seat. Kulla, who works as a farmer, won his first campaign in 2018 in his county, which is located southwest of Portland.

WI-Gov: Despite (or perhaps because of) her caginess, Wisconsin political observers have been quite certain for some time that former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch would challenge Democratic Gov. Tony Evers next year, and new remarks she made over the weekend have them more convinced than ever. At a gathering on Saturday night, Kleefisch referred to a slew of Republican voter suppression bills and said that, with a different governor in office, "I can tell you she will sign them on day one"—with an emphasis on the word "she," according to the Journal Times' Adam Rogan. Still, there's no word on when she might announce.

House

FL-07: A trio of Florida Republican congressmen have endorsed Army veteran Cory Mills' bid against Democratic incumbent Stephanie Murphy: Neal Dunn, Brian Mast, and Greg Steube.

GA-06: Republican Jake Evans announced Monday that he was resigning as chair of the Georgia ethics commission ahead of what the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says is his anticipated campaign against Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath.

MO-04: On Thursday, Cass County Commissioner Ryan Johnson became the second Republican to enter the race to succeed incumbent Vicky Hartzler, who is giving up this safely red seat in the west-central part of the state to run for the Senate. Johnson joins former state Sen. Ed Emery in what could be a crowded contest.

Johnson, who is a veteran of the Army and Coast Guard, previously worked for another Missouri Republican congressman, Sam Graves, before he helmed the dark money group Missouri Alliance for Freedom. Johnson won elected office for the first time last year when he narrowly unseated an incumbent in the primary.

NM-02, Where Are They Now?: President Joe Biden announced Friday that he was nominating former Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small for a position at the Department of Agriculture, a move that ends speculation that she could instead try to retake her old seat from Republican incumbent Yvette Herrell. The current version of the 2nd District in southern New Mexico backed Donald Trump 55-43, but Democrats could shift it to the left now that they're in charge of the redistricting process for the first time in decades.

Attorneys General

TX-AG: Former state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman announced Monday that she would take on scandal-plagued incumbent Ken Paxton in next year's Republican primary for attorney general.

Guzman, who was the first Latina to serve on the body, joins a nomination fight that also includes Land Commissioner George P. Bush, who has a terrible relationship with the party's nativist base. She refrained from going after Bush on his attempts to renovate the Alamo, though, and instead argued that she's the only Paxton challenger who has the experience and credibility to hold this post.

Guzman almost certainly lacks the name recognition of both her foes, though she did enter the race with an endorsement from Texans for Lawsuit Reform, which the Texas Tribune describes as "the powerful tort reform group that supported Paxton for attorney general in the 2014 and 2018 general elections." A primary runoff would take place if no one earns a majority of the vote in the first round.

Other Races

Staten Island, NY Borough President: Former Rep. Vito Fossella's lethargic comeback campaign picked up an endorsement over the weekend from Donald Trump ahead of Tuesday's instant-runoff Republican primary.

Fossella, who retired from Congress in 2009 after the public learned about his second family, faces two intra-party opponents: New York City Councilman Steven Matteo, who has the backing of the borough's Republican Party and a number of police unions, and former borough party chair Leticia Remauro, who has the Conservative Party in her corner. Four Democrats are also competing for an office that has been in GOP hands since the 1989 election.

Morning Digest: Trump backs longtime coal operative in Ohio special election for red House seat

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

Leading Off

OH-15: Donald Trump waded into the crowded August Republican primary to succeed former Rep. Steve Stivers by endorsing coal company lobbyist Mike Carey on Tuesday.

Trump's decision came days after Stivers, who officially resigned from this very red suburban Columbus seat last month, backed state Rep. Jeff LaRe. That move, as well as Stivers' decision to use his old campaign committee to air ads for the state representative, briefly made LaRe the primary frontrunner; another candidate, state Rep. Brian Stewart, subsequently dropped out and acknowledged he didn't think he could compete against his Stivers-supported colleague. Trump's support for Carey, though, likely upends this contest.

Carey himself doesn't appear to have run for office since his 1998 defeat in an eastern Ohio state House seat against the late Charlie Wilson, a Democrat who went on to represent that area in Congress from 2007 to 2011, but he's long been influential in state politics.

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Back in 2011, Politico described Carey, who worked as an operative for the state coal industry, as "a one-man wrecking ball for Democrats who have strayed too far green for voters' liking." It noted that Carey's political organization ran TV ads in Ohio in 2004 savaging the Democratic presidential nominee as "John Kerry, Environmental Extremist," and he also targeted Barack Obama four years later.

Carey went on to work as a lobbyist for the coal giant Murray Energy, which was renamed American Consolidated Natural Resources Inc. last year after it emerged from bankruptcy protection. The company and its leadership has long been a major foe of environmentalists in Ohio and nationally, with former chief executive Robert Murray, a close Trump ally, lavishly funding global warming deniers.

Senate

AK-Sen: A new poll from Change Research for the progressive group 314 Action finds Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski faring poorly under Alaska's new top-four primary. In a hypothetical matchup against fellow Republican Kelly Tshibaka (who is running) and independent Al Gross (who unsuccessfully ran for Senate last year with Democratic support and is considering another bid), Tshibaka leads with 39%, while Gross takes 25 and Murkowski just 19. John Wayne Howe of the far-right Alaska Independence Party would get 4%, and 12% are undecided.

Murkowski would still advance to the general election in this scenario, since, as the name implies, the four highest vote-getters in the primary move on, but she'd do no better then. To reduce the risk of spoilers, November elections will be decided via ranked-choice voting, but in a simulated instant runoff, Tshibaka would beat Gross 54-46. 314 Action, which endorsed Gross last cycle, is arguing that the poll suggests that Murkowski's weakness offers Democrats an opening, but Tshibaka's performance—and recent history—show just how tough it is for Democrats to win statewide in Alaska.

AL-Sen: The Club for Growth has dusted off a late April poll from WPA Intelligence showing Rep. Mo Brooks leading businesswoman Lynda Blanchard by a wide 59-13 margin in next year's GOP Senate primary, with Business Council of Alabama head Katie Boyd Britt at 9 and 19% of voters undecided. (The survey was conducted well before Britt, who just kicked off her campaign the other day, entered the race.) The Club hasn't endorsed Brooks yet, but sharing this poll is a signal that it may do so.

FL-Sen: On Wednesday, several weeks after a consultant said Rep. Val Demings would run for Senate, Demings herself made her campaign against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio official. Demings, who was a manager during Donald Trump's first impeachment trial and reportedly was under consideration as Joe Biden's running-mate last year, is by far the highest-profile Democrat to enter the race, though she faces Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell and (apparently?) former Rep. Alan Grayson for the nomination.

OH-Sen: A new poll of next year's GOP Senate primary in Ohio from former state Treasurer Josh Mandel unsurprisingly finds Mandel leading former state party chair Jane Timken 35-16, with all other candidates (actual and hypothetical) in the mid-to-low single digits and 34% of voters undecided. The survey, from Remington Research, is likely intended as pushback to a recent set of Timken internals from Moore Information that showed her gaining on Mandel, the newest of which had Mandel up just 24-19.

Governors

MI-Gov: A new poll from the Michigan Republican Party from Competitive Edge finds former Detroit police Chief James Craig (who hasn't actually kicked off a campaign yet) leading Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer 45-38 in a hypothetical test of next year's race for governor. Somewhat strangely, the survey also finds Whitmer beating Army veteran John James, who lost back-to-back Senate bids in 2018 and 2020 (and also hasn't announced a gubernatorial run), by a 50-45 margin.

These numbers are peculiar for two reasons: First, why would the state GOP want to make a prominent potential recruit like James look less electable—unless party leaders actually would prefer he stay out of the race, that is? The second oddity is the data itself. The 12-point difference in Whitmer's share as between the two matchups suggests that Craig, who's never run for office before, has an ability to win over Democratic voters so strong as to be almost unique in American politics today.

This extremely bifurcated take also stands in contrast to an independent poll last month from Target Insyght for the local tipsheet MIRS News, which found Whitmer up 48-42 on Craig and 49-39 on James. We'll need more polling before we can get a better sense of where things stand, but in today's extremely polarized political environment, the results from Target Insyght make much more sense than those from Competitive Edge.

NJ-Gov: Just hours before polls closed in the Garden State for Tuesday's primary, Rutgers University's Eagleton Institute of Politics released a poll of a matchup between Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and former Republican Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli that showed Murphy comfortably ahead 52-26. The survey found 10% of respondents undecided and an additional 11% who declined to choose either candidate.

The poll only pitted Murphy against Ciattarelli, a matchup that's no longer hypothetical since Ciattarelli secured the GOP nod with 49% of the vote on Tuesday and Murphy faced no intra-party opposition.

OR-Gov: Businesswoman Jessica Gomez has joined next year's race for governor, making her the second notable candidate to seek the Republican nod after 2016 nominee Bud Pierce. Gomez has run for office once before, losing an open-seat race for the state Senate to Democrat Jeff Golden 55-45 in 2018.

PA-Gov: The Associated Press reports that Republican strategist Charlie Gerow is considering a bid for governor, though there's no quote from Gerow himself. Gerow's run for office twice before, losing bids in the GOP primary for Pennsylvania's old 19th Congressional District in both 1996 and 2000. (The closest successor to the 19th is the present-day 10th District, as both are centered around York and Cumberland counties.)

VA-Gov: With the general election matchup between former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin now set, Youngkin immediately began attacking his opponent, releasing two ads the day after McAuliffe clinched his party's nod.

The first commercial prominently features former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, who finished second in the Democratic primary, and shows several clips of her criticizing McAuliffe. Youngkin appears at the end to call himself "a new kind of leader to bring a new day to Virginia". However, before the ad even had a chance to air, Carroll Foy had already unambiguously endorsed McAuliffe's bid for a second term as governor.  

The second spot follows a similar theme of a "new day". It begins showing a legion of grey-haired white men in suits while Youngkin's voiceover decries "the same politicians taking us in the wrong direction". Youngkin, a younger, less-grey white man wearing a vest, then appears amid the crowd to describe the policies he would pursue as governor.

House

TX-08: Republican state Sen. Brandon Creighton, who previously hadn't ruled out a bid for Texas' open 8th Congressional District, says he won't run for the seat held by retiring GOP Rep. Kevin Brady.

Legislatures

NJ State Senate, Where Are They Now?: Michael Pappas, a Republican who represented New Jersey in the U.S. House for a single term from 1997 to 1999, won Tuesday's state Senate primary for the open 16th Legislative District by a 65-35 margin. Pappas will take on Democratic Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker for an open GOP-held seat in the west-central part of the state that Hillary Clinton carried 55-41.

Pappas earned his brief moment in the political spotlight in 1998 when he took to the House floor to deliver an ode to the special prosecutor probing the Clinton White House that began, "Twinkle, twinkle, Kenneth Starr/ Now we see how brave you are." Politicos would later blame that bit of awful poetry for Pappas' 50-47 defeat against Democrat Rush Holt that fall. Pappas tried to return to Congress in 2000, but he lost the primary to former Rep. Dick Zimmer, who in turn lost to Holt.

Special elections: Here's a recap of Tuesday's special election in New Hampshire:

NH-HD-Merrimack 23: Democrat Muriel Hall defeated Republican Christopher Lins 58-42 to hold this seat for her party. Hall improved on Joe Biden's 55-44 win in this suburban Concord district last year, which was the best showing of any of the last three Democratic presidential nominees.

Republicans control this chamber 213-186, with one other seat vacant.

Mayors

Atlanta, GA Mayor: Former Mayor Kasim Reed filed paperwork Wednesday to set up a campaign to regain his old office, and while he has yet to make an announcement, there's little question he'll be on this year's ballot.

Local NBC reporter Shiba Russell tweeted that Reed "could officially announce he plans to enter the race" at a Thursday birthday fundraiser, a message the ex-mayor retweeted. If Reed wins this fall, he would be the first Atlanta mayor to secure a third term since the city's first-ever Black leader, Maynard Jackson, won back this office in 1989.

Reed himself had no trouble winning re-election the last time he was on the ballot in 2013 (term limits prevented him from seeking a third consecutive term in 2017), but a federal corruption investigation that ultimately resulted in bribery convictions for two senior city officials generated plenty of bad headlines during the end of his tenure. The matter isn't over, as Reed's former chief financial administration officer and director of human services are currently under indictment but unlikely to go on trial before this year's election.

Last month, Channel 2's Dave Huddleston asked Reed whether he was under investigation, to which the former mayor replied, "The Justice Department under [former Attorney General] Bill Barr has looked into every aspect of my life for more than three years and took no action." The former mayor also said of the scandals involving his old staffers, "Anything on my watch, I take responsibility for," adding, "I'm sorry I didn't see it faster."

Reed himself used that interview to argue that he could tackle Atlanta's rising crime rate if he returned to office, declaring, "I do know how to fix crime, and I do know I could turn our crime environment around in 180 days, and I know that I've done it before."

A number of fellow Democrats are already campaigning in this November's nonpartisan primary to succeed incumbent Keisha Lance Bottoms, who shocked the city last month when she decided not to seek a second term, and others could still get in ahead of the August filing deadline. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Tharon Johnson, whom the paper identifies as a "veteran Democratic strategist and businessman," is one of the prospective contenders thinking about running.

Boston, MA Mayor: This week, state Rep. Jon Santiago became the first candidate to air TV commercials ahead of the September nonpartisan primary; Politico's Lisa Kashinsky says his "six-figure ad buy is for two 30-second spots that will air on the city's cable systems and Spanish-language broadcast."

Both Santiago's English and Spanish spots focus on his work as an emergency room physician and military service, with the narrator in the former ad asking, "You want a mayor who's got a pulse on Boston and its problems, literally?"

New York City, NY Mayor: Attorney Maya Wiley picked up an endorsement Wednesday from Public Advocate Jumaane Williams ahead of the June 22 Democratic primary. Williams, who was elected in 2019 as an ardent progressive, is one of just three citywide elected officials: The others are termed-out Mayor Bill de Blasio and one of Wiley's rivals, city Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Morning Digest: Far-right ex-cop wages intraparty bid against pro-impeachment GOP congressman

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

Leading Off

WA-04: Far-right ex-cop Loren Culp announced Thursday that he would challenge Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse, who is one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump in January. Culp, who was the GOP’s 2020 nominee for governor, made it very clear he’d be making his campaign all about that vote: After accusing the incumbent of having a “spine made of jelly,” Culp, without offering any evidence, accused Newhouse of making “some kind of deal” with Democrats.

Newhouse was already facing intraparty challenges on his right from state Rep. Brad Klippert and businessman Jerrod Sessler in next year’s top-two primary, and more could still join. It’s possible that a crowded field of opponents could split the anti-Newhouse GOP vote in the 4th District and allow the congressman to advance to a general election with a Democrat, but that’s far from assured. This 58-40 Trump seat is red enough that Newhouse went up against a fellow Republican in both 2014 and 2016, and this eastern Washington seat will almost certainly remain very conservative turf after redistricting.

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Culp may also be prominent enough to emerge as Newhouse’s main foe, especially since Klippert did not report raising any money in the time between his January launch and the end of March. (Sessler entered the race in early April.) Culp himself served as mayor of the small community of Republic, which is located in the neighboring 5th District, in 2018 when he made news by announcing he wouldn't enforce a statewide gun safety ballot measure that had just passed 59-41.

Culp's stance drew a very favorable response from far-right rocker Ted Nugent, who posted a typo-ridden "Chief Loren Culp is an Anerican freedom warrior. Godbless the freedom warriors" message to his Facebook page.

Culp soon decided to challenge Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, and he quickly made it clear he would continue to obsessively cultivate the Trump base rather than appeal to a broader group of voters in this blue state. That tactic helped Culp advance through the top-two primary, an occasion he celebrated by reaffirming his opposition to Inslee's measures to stop the pandemic, including mask mandates.

Inslee ended up winning by a wide 57-43, but Culp responded by saying he’d “never concede.” Instead, he filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a fellow Republican, that made baseless allegations of “intolerable voting anomalies” for a contest “that was at all times fraudulent.”

The state GOP did not welcome Culp’s refusal to leave the stage, though. Some Republicans also openly shared their complaints about Culp’s campaign spending, including what the Seattle Times’ Jim Brunner described as “large, unexplained payments to a Marysville data firm while spending a relatively meager sum on traditional voter contact.”

Culp also gave himself a total of $48,000 for lost wages and mileage reimbursement, a sum that Brunner said “appears to be the largest-ever for a candidate in Washington state.” Republicans also griped that Culp had spent only about a fifth of his $3.3 million budget on advertising, a far smaller amount than what serious candidates normally expend.

Culp’s attorney ultimately withdrew the suit after being threatened with sanction for making “factually baseless” claims. Culp himself responded to the news by saying that, while the cost of continuing the legal battle would have been prohibitive, “It doesn’t mean that the war’s over … It just means that we’re not going to engage in this particular battle through the courts.”

Newhouse, for his part, responded to Culp’s new campaign by reaffirming that he’ll be running for a fifth term next year. Newhouse brought in $288,000 during the first quarter for his campaign, and he ended March with $528,000 to defend himself.

Senate

AK-Sen: West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, the most conservative Democrat in the chamber, endorsed Republican incumbent Lisa Murkowski. Manchin previously crossed party lines by backing Maine Sen. Susan Collins last cycle; neither Murkowski nor Collins supported Manchin during his 2018 reelection bid.

FL-Sen, FL-Gov: Democratic Rep. Val Demings on Thursday reiterated her interest in running for Senate or governor, adding, "It's next year, right, and so I'd need to make that decision soon for sure by mid-year. And we're almost there now." Demings did not indicate if she was leaning towards one statewide race over the other.

IA-Sen, IA-Gov: Democratic state Auditor Rob Sand recently told Iowa Press that he was thinking about running for the Senate, governor, or for reelection in 2022, and that he didn't have a timeline to decide. Sand won this post in 2018 by unseating a Republican incumbent 51-46 even as GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds was prevailing 50-48.

MO-Sen: The Kansas City Star recently asked former NASCAR driver Carl Edwards if he was interested in seeking the Republican nomination for this open seat, and he did not rule out the idea. Edwards said, "I don't have an active campaign going on," before he talked about his belief "in the founding principles and individual freedom and liberty and sustainability of our way of life." He added, "There might be a day when I'm able to help with that."

Governors

CA-Gov: Former reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner announced Friday that she would compete as a Republican in this year's likely recall election against Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. In addition to Jenner, the GOP field includes former Rep. Doug Ose, 2018 nominee John Cox, and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and it could still expand further.

Jenner, who would be the first transgender person elected statewide anywhere, has not sought office before, though she's not completely new to politics. She was a vocal Donald Trump supporter in 2016, although Politico recently reported that she didn't cast a ballot at all that year; Jenner also did not vote in 2018 when Newsom was elected governor.

Jenner insisted in 2017 that, while Trump has "made some mistakes" on LGBTQ issues, she didn't regret backing him, but she finally acknowledged the following year that she'd been wrong. That public break, however, didn't stop Jenner from hiring multiple high-level Trump campaign personnel for her bid or accepting help from former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale.

NH-Gov: 2020 Democratic nominee Dan Feltes told the Concord Monitor that he had "no intention right now of putting my name on the ballot in 2022," though he didn't rule out a second bid for governor.

Feltes, who was state Senate majority leader at the time, raised a credible $1.7 million last time for his bid against Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, but the popular incumbent defeated him in a 65-33 landslide. Sununu has yet to announce if he'll run for a fourth two-year term or challenge Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan instead.

House

FL-20: Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard said Thursday that he would not compete in the still-unscheduled special election for this safely blue seat.

KS-03: 2020 Republican nominee Amanda Adkins earned an endorsement Friday from 4th District Rep. Ron Estes for her second campaign against Democratic incumbent Sharice Davids.

ME-02: The Bangor Daily News takes a look at the potential Republican field to take on Rep. Jared Golden in this 52-45 Trump seat, a northern Maine constituency that is the reddest Democratic-held House district in America. So far, though, the only notable politician who appears to have publicly expressed interest is state Rep. Mike Perkins, who said Thursday he was forming an exploratory committee.

2020 nominee Dale Crafts, meanwhile, said he wasn't ruling out a second try. Crafts, who is a former state representative, was decisively outraised by Golden last time, and major outside groups on both sides dramatically cut their ad buys in the final weeks of the race in what Politico characterized at the time as "a sign of no confidence" in the Republican. Golden ended up prevailing 53-47, which was far closer than what almost any publicly released poll showed.

State Sen. Lisa Keim and former state Rep. Alex Willette said they wouldn't run, but the Bangor Daily News writes that former Rep. Bruce Poliquin, who lost this seat to Golden in 2018, did not respond to questions about his plans. Poliquin spent much of 2019 talking about seeking a rematch against Golden, but he ultimately announced that, while he was "itching to run again," he had to skip that race to care for his elderly parents.

While Democrats control the governorship and both houses of the legislature, redistricting isn't likely to alter Maine's congressional boundaries all that much. The state requires two-thirds of each chamber to pass a new map, and there are more than enough Republicans to block any districts they view as unfavorable. If the legislature deadlocks, the state Supreme Court would take charge of redistricting.

NV-04: 2020 candidate Sam Peters has announced that he'll once again compete for the Republican nomination to take on Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford. Peters, who is an Air Force veteran and businessman, lost last year's primary 35-28 to former Assemblyman Jim Marchant. Horsford went on to beat Marchant 51-46 as Joe Biden was carrying this northern Las Vegas area seat by a similar 51-47 spread.

OH-01: Franklin Mayor Brent Centers filed FEC paperwork Thursday for a potential campaign for the Cincinnati-area seat currently held by his fellow Republican, Rep. Steve Chabot. Centers previously said he planned to enter the race in early May.

TX-06: The progressive firm Data for Progress has released a survey of the May 1 all-party primary that shows Republican party activist Susan Wright, the wife of the late Rep. Ron Wright, in first with 22%.

2018 Democratic nominee Jana Lynne Sanchez leads Republican state Rep. Jake Ellzey by a small 16-13 margin in the contest for the second spot in an all-but-assured runoff, with a few other candidates from each party also in striking distance. Former Trump administration official Brian Harrison and Democrat Shawn Lassiter, who works as an education advocate, are both at 10%, while 2020 Democratic state House nominee Lydia Bean is at 9%.

The only other poll we've seen all month was a Meeting Street Research survey for the conservative blog the Washington Free Beacon from mid-April that showed a very tight four-way race. Those numbers had Sanchez and Wright at 16% and 15%, respectively, with Ellzey at 14% and Harrison taking 12%.

Data for Progress also polled a hypothetical runoff between Wright and Sanchez and found the Republican up 53-43. This seat, which includes part of Arlington and rural areas south of Dallas, supported Trump only 51-48 in 2020 after backing him 54-42 four years before, but Republicans have done better downballot.

TX-15: 2020 GOP nominee Monica De La Cruz-Hernandez's second campaign picked up an endorsement Friday from Sen. Ted Cruz. De La Cruz-Hernandez, who held Democratic incumbent Vicente Gonzalez to a shockingly close 51-48 win last year, is the only notable Republican currently in the race for this Rio Grande Valley seat, which backed Joe Biden only 50-49 after supporting Hillary Clinton by a wide 57-40.

Mayors

New York City, NY Mayor: The city Campaign Finance Board on Thursday approved former White House Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan for matching funds.

The board said the previous week that it was "deferring its decision" as it sought "further information" about a super PAC that has received at least $3 million from the candidate's father, but it cleared Donovan for public financing following its review. With this development, all of the notable Democrats competing in the June primary have received matching funds except former Citigroup executive Raymond McGuire, who is not taking part in the program.

Meanwhile, attorney Maya Wiley received an endorsement on Friday from EMILY's List. The field also includes two other pro-choice women, former city Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia and nonprofit executive Dianne Morales.

Prosecutors

Manhattan, NY District Attorney: Former State Chief Deputy Attorney General Alvin Bragg recently picked up endorsements from two prominent labor groups ahead of the crowded June Democratic primary: the healthcare workers union 1199 SEIU and 32BJ, which represents building and airport employees.

Other Races

CA-AG: The state legislature on Thursday overwhelmingly voted to confirm Democratic Assemblyman Rob Bonta to replace Xavier Becerra, who resigned last month to become U.S. secretary of health and human services, as California attorney general. Bonta, who has made a name for himself as a criminal justice reformer, is also the first Filipino American to hold this post.

Bonta already faces a challenge from Republican Nathan Hochman, a former federal prosecutor, in his 2022 campaign for a full four-year term. The bigger threat in this very blue state, though, could come from Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, a Republican-turned-independent who is publicly considering a bid.

Politico writes that Schubert, who attracted plenty of attention in 2016 after the Golden State Killer was apprehended, has also "hammered California's unemployment fraud failures and has excoriated [criminal justice] reformers." Schubert, though, would need to get through the top-two primary before she could focus on Bonta, and it's far from guaranteed that she'd be able to advance if Hochman or a different Republican emerges as Team Red's frontrunner.

Morning Digest: D.A. leading reform charge in Philadelphia faces primary challenge from skeptic

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

Leading Off

Philadelphia, PA District Attorney: Larry Krasner's 2017 victory in the race for Philadelphia district attorney gave criminal justice reformers an early high-profile win, but he faces a competitive May 18 Democratic primary fight to hold onto his office. Krasner's opponent is former prosecutor Carlos Vega, who has argued that the incumbent has been running "an experiment that is costing the lives of our children." The eventual nominee should have no trouble in the November general election in this heavily blue city.

Politico's Holly Otterbein writes that Vega, who was one of the 31 prosecutors whom Krasner fired shortly into his tenure, has avoided "campaigning as a tough-on-crime politician." Vega instead has argued he can deliver "real progressive reform" and insisted that "we don't have to choose between safety and reform." Vega has also blamed the city's spike in homicides on the district attorney's policies.

Krasner has responded by pointing out that murders have increased nationwide for reasons far beyond his control, saying, "What has happened, and essentially every criminologist agrees on this, is that the pandemic, closing of society and closing of so many different aspects of what protects and surrounds especially young men have disappeared." Krasner has further defended himself by arguing, as Otterbein writes, that he's "delivered on his campaign promises by lowering the jail population, exonerating the innocent and reducing the amount of time people are on probation and parole."

Campaign Action

The incumbent, in turn, is framing his contest as a choice between criminal justice reform and "past that echoes with names like [Frank] Rizzo," the city's racist late mayor. Krasner is also trying to turn the local Fraternal Order of Police's support for Vega into a liability by pointing out that the national organization backed Donald Trump last year. Vela, who was the first Latino homicide prosecutor in Pennsylvania, has pushed back, saying it was "really rich" for Krasner to compare him to Trump "when this is coming from a person who's white, elite, from an Ivy League school."

Krasner outraised his opponent by hauling in $420,000 during the first three months of 2021, but Vega still brought in a credible $340,000. Krasner also has to deal with a well-funded group called Protect Our Police PAC, which has mostly been financed by pro-Trump megadonor Timothy Mellon. The PAC, though, generated plenty of negative attention in early April when it sent out a fundraising email falsely blaming George Floyd for his own death.

Vela quickly disavowed the group, which blamed the message on a marketing firm, and said he didn't want its backing. Protect Our Police, in turn, responded by saying that it wasn't endorsing Vela but was "laser-focused" on unseating Krasner.

One major question looming over the race is whether billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who has in the past donated heavily to groups supporting Krasner and likeminded candidates, will help him again. Otterbein also notes that there have been no public polls here, and insiders disagree on how vulnerable Krasner is next month.

1Q Fundraising

NV-Sen: Catherine Cortez Masto (D-inc): $2.3 million raised, $4.7 million cash-on-hand

Senate

AK-Sen: The prominent GOP super PAC Senate Leadership Fund has backed Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who already faces an intra-party challenge from former state cabinet official Kelly Tshibaka. Murkowski, who has not yet announced if she'll seek re-election, had suggested she might run as an independent back in January, but SLF's endorsement indicates that party leaders doubt she'll abandon the party label.

As we've noted before, Alaska will not hold a conventional party primary next year thanks to a new ballot measure Alaska voters passed in November that radically reforms how elections are conducted in the state. Under Measure 2, all candidates from all parties will now run together on a single primary ballot, with the top four vote-getters advancing to a November general election. Voters would then choose a winner from that quartet by means of an instant runoff.

AZ-Sen: The far-right anti-tax Club for Growth has released a survey from its usual pollster WPA Intelligence showing its ally, extremist Rep. Andy Biggs, edging out Gov. Doug Ducey 46-45 in a hypothetical Republican primary.

Biggs said a few weeks ago that he'd decide by the end of March if he'd challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, but the month concluded without any public comment from the congressman about his plans. Ducey, by contrast, took his name out of consideration in January, though Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly has been trying to get him to reconsider.

GA-Sen: While Donald Trump generated plenty of chatter about former NFL running back Herschel Walker's interest in this race last month when he not-tweeted "Run Herschel, run!", the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Walker himself has remained "silent" about a possible campaign against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. The paper says that Walker, who remains a Texas resident, also "hasn't returned the calls of even some senior Republican officials trying to ascertain his next move."

Meanwhile another Republican, banking executive Latham Saddler, filed paperwork with the FEC on Friday for a potential campaign.

NC-Sen: On Thursday, a consultant for far-right Rep. Ted Budd named Michael Luethy told the News & Observer that his boss would make his decision whether to run for the state's open Senate seat "sooner than later." Luethy also said of the Budd's deliberations, "It's fair to say he's leading towards it."

That same day, the conservative Carolina Journal published a piece by Dallas Woodhouse, the infamous former executive director of the state GOP, who wrote that multiple unnamed sources believed that Budd "will enter the U.S. Senate race in the coming weeks." Luethy, though, insisted that, while Budd is putting together a "formidable team," the congressman had not yet made a final decision.

The only notable Republican in the running right now is Budd's former colleague, ex-Rep. Mark Walker, though others are eyeing this contest. The potential candidate who continues to generate the most attention is former Trump campaign adviser Lara Trump, while former Gov. Pat McCrory has been flirting with a bid for years.  One Republican who will not be running, though, is state party chair Michael Whatley, who took his name out of contention on Thursday.

NV-Sen: On Thursday, former Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval unambiguously ruled out running against Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto. "I have no interest in running and I will not be a candidate" said Sandoval, who now serves as president of the University of Nevada, Reno.

Governors

MD-Gov: Former Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker announced Thursday that he would seek the Democratic nomination to succeed termed-out Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Baker's decision came as a surprise, as his name had not been mentioned much before he kicked off his second campaign for this office.

Baker, who would be Maryland's first Black governor, competed in the 2018 primary to take on Hogan, and he attracted the support of almost the entire state party establishment. However, Baker lost by a surprisingly wide 40-29 margin to former NAACP president Ben Jealous, whom Hogan went on to defeat in the general election.

The Washington Post's Arelis Hernandez took a close look at what went wrong for Baker right after the primary and pointed to a number of factors that led to his downfall. These included his refusal to heed advice that he campaign more visibly, Jealous' aggressive courting of unions and stronger fundraising, and the fact that Baker didn't jump on developments coming out of the Trump White House in the way that Jealous did. On Friday, fellow Post writer Rachel Chason noted that Baker was also held back by "political enemies he made in Prince George's, including labor unions and opponents of his controversial efforts to improve county public schools."

In an interview Thursday with Maryland Matters, Baker acknowledged that his underwhelming fundraising had played a big role in his defeat last time. Baker argued, though, that he was limited at the time by his responsibilities as county executive and local ethics rules restricting how much officeholders could take from developers, which will not be factors for him now.

Baker joins a primary field that already includes state Comptroller Peter Franchot, who has been running for over a year, and former Obama administration official Ashwani Jain, while more could be in before long. Maryland Matters' Bruce DePuyt writes that former Attorney General Doug Gansler, who badly lost the 2014 primary for governor, is "expected to announce that he's running later this month." DePuyt also relays that Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski "is expected" to decide next month after the county council acts on his proposed budget.

Several other Democrats could also join the field, but it looks like Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks will not be one of them. Alsobrooks, who was elected in 2018 to succeed Baker as leader of the state's second-largest county, said last month that "in this moment I'm running for re-election."

While Alsobrooks' statement didn't quite close the door on a campaign for higher office, Baker said Thursday that he'd only made his decision after talking with her the day before. Baker said he'd spoken to her about the gubernatorial race and added that "[w]e're genuinely friends" and "our supporters are the same."

NV-Gov: Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo acknowledged to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Thursday that he was thinking about seeking the Republican nomination to face Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak. Rep. Mark Amodei also recently reaffirmed his interest, while former Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchinson has reportedly been considering as well. The paper writes of this group, "The consensus among local Republican political operatives is that the trio is working to reach an agreement on a single candidate to support by the beginning of summer.

NY-Gov: Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik's team on Thursday put out their first statement directly addressing the possibility that she could run for governor, which came hours after her colleague, Lee Zeldin, kicked off his own bid. "Congresswoman Stefanik continues to receive encouragement from all corners of the state as she would immediately be the strongest Republican candidate in both a primary and general gubernatorial election," said senior advisor Alex DeGrasse, who added that she "is not ruling anything out - nor will she make her decision based on others' timetables."

House

FL-01, NY-23: The House Ethics Committee on Friday announced that it had opened investigations into two Republicans embroiled in separate scandals, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and New York Rep. Tom Reed.

The committee says it is "aware of public allegations" that Gaetz "may have engaged in sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe, improper gratuity, or impermissible gift, in violation of House Rules, laws, or other standards of conduct." Gaetz, who is under federal investigation for sex trafficking, has rejected calls for his resignation.

The Ethics Committee, meanwhile, is probing allegations that Reed "may have engaged in sexual misconduct." Last month, a woman named Nicolette Davis accused Reed of sexually harassing her at a Minneapolis restaurant in 2017. While Reed initially denied Davis' account as "not accurate," he published a statement two days later apologizing to her and announcing that he would not be on the ballot for anything next year.

FL-20: The Sun Sentinel writes that, while Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness hasn't yet launched a campaign to succeed the late Rep. Alcee Hastings, Holness has "been informally running for months" for this safely blue South Florida seat. The paper also name-drops Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard as another possible Democratic contender for the unscheduled special election.

NY-01: Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming, who took third in last year's Democratic primary, filed paperwork with the FEC on Friday for a potential bid to succeed Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, who is running for governor. Fleming did not immediately announce a bid, though she responded to a tweet the previous day urging her to run by writing, "Stay tuned."

Morning Digest: GOP field slowly develops for 2022 race to break Dems’ single-party hold on Nevada

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

Leading Off

NV-Gov, NV-Sen: The Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Rory Appleton takes a deep look at the developing Republican fields to take on the two leading Nevada Democrats up in this swing state in 2022, Gov. Steve Sisolak and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto. Republicans seem to agree that former Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who was Team Red’s 2018 nominee for governor, would have little trouble winning the Senate primary should he run, but the gubernatorial field appears to be wide open.

Sisolak, though, may have more immediate worries. Appleton reports that Clark County Commission Chair Marilyn Kirkpatrick is considering challenging the governor in the primary, though she has yet to confirm her interest. There’s no word on why Kirkpatrick might want to unseat a member of her own party, though Appleton says she’s come into conflict with the governor before.

No matter what, though, Democrats will need to prepare for a tough general election as they seek to hold the governor’s office. Until now, the only notable Republican who had publicly talked about running was Rep. Mark Amodei, who reaffirmed his interest this month. Appleton also says that former Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison and Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, who share a consultant, are considering; neither man has said anything publicly, though Amodei relays that he’s spoken to him about this contest recently.

Campaign Action

While things are unsettled now, there may be a Republican frontrunner before too long. Appleton writes, “The belief in Republican political circles is the potential candidates will come to an agreement in the next month and not compete against one another in a primary.”

Other Republicans, though, may decide to run no matter what any member of this trio does. Appleton notes that casino owner Derek Stevens, whom he describes as a “newcomer,” is thinking about getting in.

A few other Silver State politicos may also take their chances. North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, who previously served in the state Senate as a conservative Democrat, acknowledged he’s been “approached by different people in both parties” about switching to the GOP and running for governor. Lee didn’t rule the idea out, saying, “I’m flattered, but at this point, I’m still focused on some big projects in North Las Vegas, and I don’t want to be distracted.”

GOP state Sens. Ben Kieckhefer and Heidi Gansert, whom Appleton characterizes as “wildcards,” also could run either against Sisolak or Cortez Masto. Kieckhefer said he was “still thinking about what a race for governor looks like” and “has had a few conversations about the Senate.” Kieckhefer, who portrayed himself as a moderate focused on “consensus building and problem solving in a bipartisan way,” said he hoped to make up his mind in June.

Gansert, for her part, was more evasive, but she did not reject the idea of a statewide campaign. Gansert, who is a former chief of staff to former Gov. Brian Sandoval, said, “I certainly see the growing frustration over the lack of checks and balances and the one-party rule in our government, but I have a lot to get done in the legislature.”

There are two big GOP names from yesteryear, though, who probably won’t run for anything in 2022. Appleton name-drops former Sen. Dean Heller as a possible gubernatorial candidate, though he writes that Amodei and most Republican operatives doubt he’ll campaign for anything this cycle “unless the waters change.”

Appleton also reports that, while both sides are watching to see if Sandoval will run for the Senate, few expect him to. Republicans tried hard to recruit him to run here six years ago, but he never seemed particularly interested in joining Congress. Sandoval is currently serving as president of the University of Nevada, Reno, and a spokesperson says that he “would prefer to keep his time and attention focused on that role.” Sandoval, who was a relative moderate during his time in office, could also be deterred from running by the threat of a difficult GOP primary against a possible conservative alternative.

1Q Fundraising

CA-Sen: Alex Padilla (D-inc): $2.6 million raised

NC-Sen: Jeff Jackson (D) $1.3 million raised

OH-Sen: Jane Timken (R): $2.1 million raised

PA-Sen: Chrissy Houlahan (D): $580,000 raised, $3.5 million cash-on-hand (has not announced a bid); Jeff Bartos (R): $1.2 million raised

CO-03: Lauren Boebert (R-inc): $700,000 raised

MI-03: Peter Meijer (R-inc): $500,000 raised

NC-11: Jasmine Beach-Ferrara (D): $380,000 raised (in one month)

OH-11: Nina Turner (D): $1.55 million raised; Shontel Brown (D): $640,000 raised, $550,000 cash-on-hand

OH-16: Max Miller (R): $500,000 raised

Senate

AK-Sen: Republican Kelly Tshibaka has released a new poll from Cygnal that shows her leading Sen. Lisa Murkowski 34-19 in a hypothetical all-party primary with three other undeclared candidates to argue that the incumbent is in a "weak" position, but it doesn't address Alaska's new instant runoff for general elections. Under this system, the top four vote-getters, regardless of party, will advance from the primary, then compete via ranked-choice voting in November. Without simulating a potential runoff, it's impossible to know any candidate's true strength.

CA-Sen: Rep. Ro Khanna isn't ruling out a challenge next year to fellow Democrat Alex Padilla, whose appointment in January to succeed Kamala Harris made him the first Latino senator in California history. In new remarks to Politico, the Bay Area congressman said he's "keeping [his] options open" regarding a potential Senate bid.

PA-Sen: Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh kicked off a bid for the Senate on Monday, making her the third notable Democrat to enter the race to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

Arkoosh, a physician, unsuccessfully ran for the House in 2014 for what was then numbered the 13th District, finishing last in a four-way primary with 15% of the vote. (The nomination was won by Brendan Boyle, who now represents the redrawn and renumbered 2nd District.) The following year, though, Arkoosh was tapped to fill a vacancy on the commission in Montgomery County, a large suburban county just outside of Philadelphia, and won election in her own right that fall. In 2016, her fellow commissioners selected her as the board's first woman chair, and she easily won a second term in 2019.

If Arkoosh were to prevail in next year's race, she'd also be the first woman to represent Pennsylvania in the Senate. First, though, she'll have to get past a primary that already features Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, with more poised to join.

UT-Sen: The Salt Lake Tribune's Bryan Schott runs down a whole host of possible primary challengers to Republican Sen. Mike Lee, who is largely drawing heat from those dismayed by his wholehearted embrace of Trumpism. In any other state, that would be unimaginable, but a sizable contingent of Mormon voters remain nonplussed with the GOP's direction over the last half-decade—enough, at least, to spur chatter about trying to take down Lee.

The roster of potential candidates includes former state Rep. Becky Edwards, whom we'd previously identified as running based on her statement that she was "all in"; Schott, however, says that she's "all in" on exploring a bid, which is really not a helpful use of the term. There's also businesswoman Ally Isom, who was previously reported to be interested but has now confirmed she's looking at the race. Isom quit the GOP in 2016 over Trump but re-registered as a Republican last year; like Edwards, she encouraged Mormon women to vote for Joe Biden in 2020.

Meanwhile, real estate executive Thomas Wright, who ended up last with just 8% in last year's four-way Republican primary for governor, didn't rule out a bid, saying that "there continues to be a desire to serve." However, the third-place finisher in that race, former state House Speaker Greg Hughes, flat-out said he wouldn't run and would back Lee for re-election.

Schott adds that there have been "persistent rumblings" that Tim Ballard, the head of a nonprofit that combats child trafficking, could run, but there's no word on his interest. As for former CIA officer Evan McMullin, who took 22% in Utah running as a conservative independent in 2016's presidential race, Schott says any hope he might enter is "probably more wishful thinking than reality at this point."

Governors

TX-Gov: Former Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke pointedly did not rule out a bid for governor in new remarks on Friday, saying only, "I've got no plans to run." After lots of folks (who aren't wicked smart Digest readers like you) misinterpreted this statement to conclude that O'Rourke had closed the door on a challenge to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott next year (he hadn't), his team released a further statement to clarify. "I'm not currently considering a run for office," said O'Rourke. "I'm focused on what I'm doing now (teaching and organizing.) Nothing's changed and nothing I said would preclude me from considering a run in the future."

In November of 2018, O'Rourke said, "I will not be a candidate for president in 2020. That's I think as definitive as those sentences get." O'Rourke launched a bid for president in March of 2019.

VA-Gov: Former Democratic state Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy's campaign for governor just received a $500,000 infusion from a political advocacy organization thanks to state laws that place no caps on political giving. The PAC that made the donation, Clean Virginia, was created by a wealthy former Goldman Sachs executive named Michael Bills in an effort to oppose Dominion Energy, which the Virginia Mercury's Graham Moomaw describes as "the state-regulated utility many progressives see as exerting undue control" over state lawmakers.

Moomaw also notes that Clean Virginia had previously given $100,000 each to Foy and another rival in the June 8 Democratic primary, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan. It does not appear that the group gave a comparable donation to McClellan this time.

Meanwhile, in an aside buried deep in a long profile piece, the New York Times indicates that former Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman is still thinking about a bid. Riggleman, who lost renomination at a party convention last year and has since become a vocal critic of of Trump-fueled disinformation, has until June 8—the same day as the state's primaries—to file as an independent.

House

KS-03: Former state GOP chair Amanda Adkins, who'd reportedly been prepping for a rematch with Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids, kicked off a second bid for Kansas' 3rd Congressional District on Monday. Davids beat Adkins by a convincing 54-44 margin last year, as the district, based in the Kansas City area, moved sharply to the left, going for Joe Biden by the same spread—just eight years after backing Mitt Romney by precisely that margin.

However, last year, then-state Senate President Susan Wagle specifically exhorted supporters to preserve the GOP's supermajorities in the legislature to ensure Republicans could draw a new congressional map that "takes out Sharice Davids up in the 3rd." Republicans were in fact successful keeping their two-thirds majorities while also purging some of the moderates in their caucus in last year's primaries, meaning they'd likely be able to override a veto of any new districts by Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly.

LA-02: A newly created PAC named Progress for the People has begun what The Advocate's Tyler Bridges describes as a "six-figure ad buy" against state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson ahead of the April 24 all-Democratic runoff. This appears to be the first negative TV spot of the runoff, though Peterson's opponent, fellow state Sen. Troy Carter, went up with a spot directed against her just ahead of last month's all-party primary.

The PAC's commercial declares that Peterson accepted her taxpayer funded salary even though she "missed 85% of her votes in the legislature last year," including on "COVID guidelines, voting rights, [and] gun safety." Peterson said at the time that she didn't feel safe going to the Capitol in the early months of the pandemic, and she put out a statement this month blaming the legislature's GOP leaders for rejecting her call "for a mask mandate and social distancing to protect the hardworking staff at the Capitol."

MA-09: Peter Lucas of the conservative Boston Herald relays that some unnamed observers believe that Republican Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito could challenge Democratic Rep. Bill Keating. Polito and Gov. Charlie Baker are up for a third term in 2022, and there's been plenty of speculation that Polito could run to succeed her boss should Baker retire.

Polito has said nothing about a potential bid for Congress, though she and her husband notably purchased a $1.8 million second home last month that's located in Keating's district. Polito, however, has continued to raise cash for her state campaign account, which is money she could not use on a federal campaign

Keating's constituency, which includes the South Shore region near Boston and stretches east to Cape Cod, is the most conservative of Massachusetts' nine congressional districts, though GOP presidential candidates have still struggled here. Joe Biden won 58-40 here last year, which was an improvement from Hillary Clinton's 52-41 victory in 2016. Legislative Democrats also have more than enough members to pass a new congressional map over Baker's veto, so it's unlikely this turf would dramatically change.

MI-06: Freshman state Rep. Steve Carra, who late last month posted on social media that "[i]t's time to replace Fred Upton with a proven conservative," says he's kicking off a campaign on Tuesday. He's by no means the only Republican elected official gunning for Upton over his vote to impeach Donald Trump, though: Berrien County Commissioner Ezra Scott, who expressed interest in a primary challenge in January, has now filed paperwork with the FEC, though he hasn't launched a bid yet.

NY-23: Several more Republicans are talking about bids to succeed GOP Rep. Tom Reed, who recently announced his retirement after a lobbyist accused him of sexual misconduct. The newest names are Steuben County Republican Party Chairman Joe Sempolinski and businessman Matthew Burr, who both say they're considering the race. In addition, Chemung County Executive Chris Moss reiterated that he's looking at the contest, but added that he wants to wait to see how redistricting unfolds. Moss said that for now, he plans to seek re-election to his current post next year.

OH-12, OH-Sen, OH-Gov: Turns out it's door number three for Franklin County Recorder Danny O'Connor: The central Ohio Democrat, who'd previously been considering bids for Senate or statewide executive office, will instead wage another campaign for the House. O'Connor narrowly lost two competitive races for the 12th Congressional District to Republican Troy Balderson in 2018—a special election and then, not long after, the November general election—though redistricting could pit him against someone else.

It doesn't sound, however, as though he'd challenge Rep. Joyce Beatty, a fellow Columbus-area Democrat whom he called "a champion for working families" and suggested was someone (along with Sen. Sherrod Brown) he'd want to emulate in Congress. O'Connor could, though, wind up facing off against Balderson's 2020 opponent, businesswoman Alaina Shearer, who said last month that she's running again but plans to re-evaluate once a new map is in place.

TN-05: On Monday, community activist Odessa Kelly launched a primary challenge against longtime Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper, a member of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition who survived a primary last year by an underwhelming 57-40 margin. Kelly charged Cooper with failing to do enough for the city of Nashville, where Tennessee's 5th District is based, during his "decades in Congress," and identified Medicare for All and the Green New Deal as her top priorities.

If elected, Kelly would be the first Black woman to serve in the House from the Volunteer State and also the first openly gay Black woman in Congress. (It was only after she died in 1996 that news accounts identified legendary Texas Rep. Barbara Jordan as a lesbian; she never discussed her sexuality during her lifetime.) However, Tennessee Republicans could chop up Nashville in the coming round of redistricting, dividing it between the dark red surrounding districts to create another safe seat for the GOP.

TX-06: Former Trump official Sery Kim unleashed a racist anti-Chinese rant at a candidate forum in Texas' 6th Congressional District last week, prompting two Asian American Republicans in Congress to withdraw their endorsements.

In her opening remarks, Kim launched into a conspiracy theory about the COVID-19 pandemic, baselessly claiming, "We were lied to for the last one year and two months and stayed at home because China created coronavirus in a Wuhan lab." Later, when answering a question about immigration, Kim said of Chinese immigrants, "I don't want them here at all. They steal our intellectual property, they give us coronavirus, they don't hold themselves accountable." She added, "And quite frankly, I can say that because I'm Korean."

California Reps. Young Kim and Michelle Steel, who were the first Korean American Republican women to win seats in Congress with their victories last year, took sharp exception to Sery Kim's remarks. Saying that she'd refused their demands that she apologize, the two congresswomen said, "We cannot in good conscience continue to support her candidacy." Kim responded by claiming that "the liberal media is targeting me" and filing a lawsuit seeking $10 million in damages against the Texas Tribune for calling her statements "racist."

On an entirely unrelated note, Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez has launched her first TV ad ahead of the May all-party primary, which the Tribune's Patrick Svitek says is backed by a "six-figure buy on cable and satellite." The spot features some basic biographical details (she "put herself through college and started a business from scratch"), then bashes "Washington politicians like Ted Cruz" for opposing $1,400 relief checks. Displaying a photo of Cruz lugging his suitcase through an airport during his notorious trip to Mexico amid Texas' devastating ice storm last month, Sanchez adds, "They even abandoned us when the lights went out."

WA-04: Businessman and Navy veteran Jerrod Sessler is the latest Republican to launch a challenge to GOP Rep. Dan Newhouse, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump. He also describes himself as a "former NASCAR driver," but his competitive involvement was limited to local competitions that could be considered the equivalent of baseball's minor leagues, and his name does not come up when searching the auto sports database Racing-Reference.

Legislatures

Special Elections: Tuesday brings a packed slate of five special elections across four states:

CA-AD-79: This Democratic district in the eastern San Diego suburbs became vacant when former Assemblywoman Shirley Weber was appointed as California’s secretary of state in January. There are five candidates seeking this seat and if no one takes a majority Tuesday, a runoff between the top two vote-getters will be held on June 8.

Four of the candidates vying to replace Weber are Democrats: La Mesa City Council member Akilah Weber (who is a daughter of the former Assemblywoman), organizer Leticia Munguia, criminal justice reform advocate Aeiramique Glass Blake, and middle school teacher Shane Parmely. Businessman Marco Contreras is the lone Republican in the running.

The is a solidly blue seat that backed Hillary Clinton 64-30 in 2016 and is one of two vacancies in this chamber, which Democrats control 58-19 (with one independent member).

MO-HD-54: This Democratic seat in the Columbia area became vacant when former Rep. Kip Kendrick resigned to become chief of staff for state Sen. Greg Razer. No Republican opted to run for this solidly Democratic seat that supported Clinton 60-32, so attorney David Smith will represent Team Blue against Libertarian Glenn Nielsen. According to Columbia Daily Tribune, Smith would be the first Black Missouri legislator elected from outside of Kansas City or St. Louis.

Republicans control this chamber 114-48 with just this seat vacant.

OK-SD-22: This seat located northwest of Oklahoma City became vacant after former Sen. Stephanie Bice was elected to the U.S. House last year. Speech pathologist Molly Ooten is the Democratic candidate taking on businessman Jake Merrick, a Republican. Merrick ran in the GOP primary for Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District last year, a race Bice won, and took 3%.  

This is a strongly Republican district that backed Donald Trump 68-25 in 2016. Republicans control this chamber 38-9 with just this seat vacant.

WI-SD-13: This Republican district in central Wisconsin, which takes in a slice of Madison’s suburbs, became vacant when former Sen. Scott Fitzgerald was elected to the U.S. House last year. The Democratic candidate is teacher Melissa Winker who is taking on Republican state Assemblyman John Jagler. Two candidates from obscure minor parties are also in the race: Businessman Ben Schmitz from the American Solidarity Party and chauffeur Spencer Zimmerman from the Trump Conservative Party.  

This is a solidly red district that supported Trump 58-37 in 2016. Republicans control this chamber 20-12 with just this seat vacant.

WI-AD-89: This Republican district north of Green Bay became vacant when former Assemblyman John Nygren resigned last year. Democratic Marinette County Supervisor Karl Jaeger is facing businessman Elijah Behnke, a Republican. Jaeger ran for this seat last year, losing to Nygren by a 69-31 spread.  

This is a strongly Republican seat that backed Trump 63-32 in 2016. Republicans hold this chamber 60-38 with just this seat vacant.

Mayors

Boston, MA Mayor: State Rep. Jon Santiago earned an endorsement on Friday from the Laborers Local 223, a high-profile construction union that was led by Marty Walsh until he was elected mayor in 2013. The group is now run by Walsh's cousin, who also happens to be named Marty Walsh; the Boston Herald's Sean Philip Cotter tweets that the current union head is identified as "Big Marty" to distinguish him from his famous relative and the many other Marty Walshes in Boston politics.

P.S.: Marty Walsh, as in the former mayor turned U.S. secretary of labor, said last month that he would not be endorsing in this year's mayoral race.

New York City, NY Mayor: Politico reports that a PAC named New Start NYC has reserved $2.74 million on TV ads through early May in support of Shaun Donovan, a former director of the Obama-era Office of Management and Budget, ahead of the June Democratic primary. The group has received $1 million from the candidate's father, tech executive Michael Donovan.

Morning Digest: With Trump’s blessing, congressman seeks to oust Georgia’s GOP secretary of state

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

Leading Off

GA-SoS, GA-10: Far-right Rep. Jody Hice announced Monday that he would challenge Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in next year's Republican primary rather than seek a fifth term in the safely red 10th Congressional District in the east-central part of the state. Hice immediately earned an endorsement from Donald Trump, who last year unsuccessfully pressured Raffensperger to "find 11,780 votes" in order to overturn Joe Biden's win in the state.

Former Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle, who lost the 2018 nomination fight to Raffensperger 62-38, also announced over the weekend that he would seek a rematch. Former state Rep. Vernon Jones, a Trump-supporting ex-Democrat who joined the Republican Party right after the 2020 election, had also been mentioned, though he turned his gaze to the governor's race on Monday. Georgia requires a runoff in any primaries where no one takes a majority of the vote.

Campaign Action

Hice, though, will likely be Raffensperger's main foe thanks to Trump's endorsement and prominent position, but his many ugly views could also prove to be a liability in a general election in what's now become a swing state.

Hice, a pastor who worked as a conservative radio host before his 2014 election to Congress, made a name for himself with a 2012 book where he wrote, "Evidently there are many who believe a 'Gestapo-like' presence is needed by the government in order to corral and keep under control, all these 'dangerous' Christians." Hice also used that tome to attack LGBTQ people and Muslims, as well as compare supporters of abortion rights to Hitler.

Hice has remained a far-right favorite in Congress, especially this year. Hice posted on Instagram hours before the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, "This is our 1776 moment." The message was quickly deleted after New York Times reporter Charles Bethea flagged it on Twitter in the midst of the assault on the building. Hice's spokesperson said the next day, "The 1776 post was our way of highlighting the electoral objection—we removed the post when we realized it could be misconstrued as supporting those acting violently yesterday and storming the Capitol."  

That violence was hardly enough to stop Hice from spreading conspiracy theories. Last month, the congressman used his CPAC panel titled "Who's Really Running the Biden Administration" to declare, "I guarantee you, Georgia is not blue, and what happened this election was solely because of a horrible secretary of state and horrible decisions that he made."

On the Democratic side, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that one of the "leaning potential candidates" for secretary of state is state Rep. Bee Nguyen, who is the first Vietnamese American to serve in the chamber. Nguyen has been in the news in recent days as she's spoken out against racism against Asian Americans following last week's lethal attack on Atlanta-area spas.

Meanwhile, Republicans are already eyeing the race to succeed Hice in Georgia's 10th Congressional District. This seat backed Donald Trump 60-39, and it will almost certainly remain safely red after the GOP devises new maps.

Two Republican members of the legislature, state Sen. Bill Cowsert and state Rep. Houston Gaines, expressed interest in recent days. The AJC also name-drops 2014 candidate Mike Collins, state Rep. Jodi Lott, and former state party chair John Padgett as possible candidates for Team Red.

Senate

AL-Sen: Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, a hard-right favorite who helped foment the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, announced on Monday that he would compete in the Republican primary to succeed retiring Sen. Richard Shelby. Brooks joins major GOP donor Lynda Blanchard, who served as ambassador to Slovenia, in a nomination fight that could attract more Republicans in this extremely red state.

Brooks previously competed in the 2017 special election for the Yellowhammer State’s other Senate seat in a race that turned out quite badly for him. Appointed Sen. Luther Strange and his allies at the Senate Leadership Fund aired ad after ad using footage from the previous year of Brooks, who had supported Ted Cruz in the presidential primary, attacking Donald Trump. One piece showed the congressman saying, "I don't think you can trust Donald Trump with anything he says" before the narrator argued that Brooks sided with Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi against Trump.

The ad campaign worked, but not to the GOP’s benefit. Brooks took third place with 20%, but Roy Moore went on to defeat Strange in the runoff; Moore later went on to lose to Democrat Doug Jones after multiple women accused the Republican nominee of preying on them as teenagers.

Brooks, though, didn’t have to give up his House seat to run in that special, and he soon reinvented himself as one of Trump’s most ardent allies. Brooks proved to be an especially eager promoter of Trump’s election conspiracy theories, and in a speech delivered four hours before the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, he told rally goers, “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.” CNN later reported that several Republicans later talked about ejecting him from his committee assignments after that day’s violence, though unsurprisingly, they didn’t actually do anything.

One Republican who was delighted by Brooks, though, was Trump, something that could go a long way towards helping the congressman avoid a repeat of his 2017 experience. Politico reports that Trump is leaning towards endorsing Brooks over Blanchard in part because of a major mistake from her campaign.

“The president doesn’t know Lynda all that well and it had gotten back to him and his team that people on her team had been overstating how close they supposedly are,” said one unnamed Trump ally, adding, “One of her aides was telling any donor who would listen that Trump was going to endorse her and that left him annoyed.” A Blanchard insider, naturally, countered, saying, “That’s bullshit. That’s somebody spinning someone to help Mo out. She would never oversell it, she’s not that kind of person.”

P.S. Brooks’ decision will open up the 5th Congressional District, a northern Alabama seat that backed Trump 63-37 in 2020.

AK-Sen, AK-Gov: Last week, the Associated Press' Mark Thiessen name-dropped a few Republicans as possible intra-party opponents for Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who has not yet said if she'll run again in 2022. The most familiar name is former Gov. Sarah Palin, who is perennially mentioned as a possible Murkowski foe even though she hasn't actually appeared on a ballot since her 2008 vice presidential bid.

Thiessen also lists Gov. Mike Dunleavy as a possibility, though he hasn't shown any obvious interest in doing anything other than run for re-election next year. Dunleavy hasn't announced his 2022 plans, though he said last week, "I enjoy the job and there's a lot of work to be done.

There's also Joe Miller, who beat Murkowski in a 2010 primary shocker but went on to lose to her that fall when the senator ran a write-in campaign. Miller, who unsuccessfully sought the 2014 GOP nod for Alaska's other Senate seat, campaigned against Murkowski as a Libertarian in 2016 and lost 44-29. Miller also does not appear to have said anything about another campaign.

MO-Sen: Less than three years after he resigned in disgrace, former Gov. Eric Greitens announced Monday that he would seek the Republican nomination for this open seat. We’ll have more in our next Digest.

NC-Sen: Meredith College takes a look at an extremely early Democratic primary scenario and finds former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and state Sen. Jeff Jackson tied 13-13. Former state Sen. Erica Smith, who lost the 2020 primary, takes 11%, while virologist Richard Watkins is at 4%. (Watkins ran in 2018 in the primary against veteran Rep. David Price and took just 6% of the vote.) Beasley is the only person tested who is not currently running.

Meredith also released numbers for the GOP primary but sampled just 217 respondents, which is below the 300-person minimum we require for inclusion in the Digest.

NV-Sen: The far-right anti-tax Club for Growth has released a survey from its usual pollster WPA Intelligence that finds its old ally, 2018 gubernatorial nominee Adam Laxalt, leading former Sen. Dean Heller 44-25 in a hypothetical GOP primary. Heller, who lost Nevada's other Senate seat to Democrat Jacky Rosen in 2018, has not shown any obvious signs of interest in taking on Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto.

Laxalt has not said anything about his 2022 plans, though CNN recently reported that he is considering a Senate bid. McClatchy, citing an unnamed GOP aide, also writes that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell "is also said to favor Laxalt's candidacy."

OH-Sen: 314 Action, which is trying to recruit former Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton to run for this open seat, has released a survey from Public Policy Polling that shows her outperforming her fellow Democrat, Rep. Tim Ryan, in hypothetical general election matchups against a trio of Republicans. First up are the Acton numbers:

  • 42-41 vs. former state Treasurer Josh Mandel
  • 40-40 vs. former state party chair Jane Timken
  • 40-38 vs. author J.D. Vance

Next up is Ryan:

  • 38-42 vs. Mandel
  • 38-41 vs. Timken
  • 37-39 vs. Vance

314 publicized another PPP poll last week that had Acton leading Ryan 37-32 in a potential primary. Both Democrats are publicly considering running, though neither of them has announced a bid.

Mandel and Timken currently have the GOP side to themselves, but plenty of others could get in. Vance, who is best known as the writer of "Hillbilly Elegy," has not said anything about his interest, but Politico reports that he recently met with people close to Trump. Last week, the Cincinnati Enquirer also revealed that far-right billionaire Peter Thiel had contributed $10 million to a super PAC set up to help Vance if he runs.

Governors

GA-Gov: Former state Rep. Vernon Jones, an ardent Trump fan who left the Democratic Party in January, tweeted Monday that he was "looking closely" at a GOP primary bid against Gov. Brian Kemp.

Jones, unsurprisingly, echoed his patron's lies about election fraud by insisting, "If it weren't for Brian Kemp, Donald Trump would still be President of these United States." Joe Biden, of course, would still have earned an electoral college majority even if Trump had carried Georgia, but that's hardly stopped Trump from targeting his one-time ally Kemp.

Jones had a long career in Democratic politics, though he'd struggled to win higher office under his old party. After a stint in the state House in the 1990s, Jones became the first African American to lead DeKalb County following his 2000 victory for CEO of this large Atlanta-area community. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that during his tenure, Jones "drew intense scrutiny for angry outbursts and an accusation of rape that he said was a consensual act between three partners." Jones, however, was never charged.

Jones tried to use his high-profile post as a springboard to statewide office, but he lost the 2008 primary runoff for Senate 60-40 to Jim Martin, who went on to lose to Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss. Jones then challenged Rep. Hank Johnson in the 2010 primary for the 4th Congressional District and lost 55-26.

In 2013, a grand jury probing Jones' time as DeKalb County CEO recommended he be investigated for what the AJC calls allegations of "bid-rigging and theft." The following year, his campaign for DeKalb County sheriff ended in a landslide 76-24 primary defeat.

Jones, though, resurrected his political career when he won the 2016 primary to return to the state House in a safely blue seat. Months later, DeKalb District Attorney Robert James announced that he wouldn't be charging a number of figures, including Jones, for lack of evidence.

Jones spent the next few years often voting with Republicans and tweeting favorably of Trump, but he only burned his last bridges with his party in 2020 when he endorsed Trump's re-election campaign. Jones, who was already facing a competitive primary, ultimately retired from the legislature (albeit after initially saying he'd be resigning), and he spent the rest of the campaign as a prominent Trump surrogate.

Jones finally switched parties in January, and he's been eyeing another statewide bid over the last few months. Jones has been mentioned as a prospective Senate candidate, and he reportedly eyed a primary campaign for secretary of state against Brad Raffensperger as recently as last week. Trump, though, has touted former NFL running back Herschel Walker as a prospective Senate candidate and endorsed Rep. Jody Hice's bid against Raffensperger on Monday (see our GA-SoS item), which may be why Jones is now talking about taking on Kemp instead.

MO-Gov, MO-Sen: Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe announced Monday that he would compete in the 2024 race to succeed Republican Gov. Mike Parson, who will be termed-out, rather than run in next year's open seat race for the Senate.

Kehoe's kickoff is extremely early, but while it's not unheard of for prominent gubernatorial candidates to enter the race well over three years before Election Day, that preparation doesn't always pay off. Then-California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom notably launched his successful 2018 gubernatorial campaign in February of 2015, while Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin announced his 2022 bid in August of 2019 only to drop down to attorney general last month after Donald Trump backed a rival Republican primary candidate.

NY-Gov: A ninth woman, Alyssa McGrath, has come forward to accuse Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment, making her the first current Cuomo employee to do so on the record. McGrath, an executive assistant in the governor's office, says Cuomo "would ogle her body, remark on her looks, and make suggestive comments to her" and a coworker. She also says Cuomo called her "beautiful" in Italian and on one occasion stared down her shirt.

Cuomo once again did not deny the interactions had taken place. Instead, a spokesperson insisted that "the governor has greeted men and women with hugs and a kiss on the cheek, forehead, or hand. Yes, he has posed for photographs with his arm around them. Yes, he uses Italian phrases like 'ciao bella.' None of this is remarkable, although it may be old-fashioned. He has made clear that he has never made inappropriate advances or inappropriately touched anyone."

PA-Gov, PA-Sen: Several more Republicans, including a few familiar names, have made their interest in running to succeed termed-out Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf known in recent days.

On Monday, former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain formed a fundraising committee for a potential bid. That step came days after Rep. Mike Kelly said he was thinking about running either for governor or for the Senate. The Associated Press also writes that another congressman, Rep. Dan Meuser, "has said he is considering running" for governor, but there's no quote from him.

Former Rep. Lou Barletta, who badly lost the 2018 Senate general election, also acknowledged his interest in the gubernatorial race and pledged to decide over the next few weeks. Additionally, state Sen. Dan Laughlin said over the weekend that he was thinking about campaigning to replace Wolf. The Erie Times-News writes that Laughlin is one of the more moderate Republicans in the legislature, which could be helpful in a general but toxic in a primary.

VA-Gov: Wealthy businessman Pete Snyder has earned an endorsement from Rep. Bob Good ahead of the May 8 Republican nominating convention. Good himself won the GOP nomination last year through this system when he unseated incumbent Denver Riggleman.

House

LA-02: Two Democratic state senators from New Orleans, Troy Carter and Karen Carter Peterson (the two are not related), will face off in the April 24 runoff to succeed Cedric Richmond, who resigned in January to take a post in the Biden White House. Carter took first in Saturday's all-party primary with 36%, while Peterson edged out Baton Rouge activist Gary Chambers by a surprisingly small 23-21 margin.

Carter has the backing of Richmond, the state AFL-CIO, and a high-profile Republican in the region, Cynthia Lee Sheng. On Monday, Carter also earned an endorsement from East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, whose constituency cast just under 10% of the vote. Peterson, for her part, has benefited from about $600,000 in outside spending from EMILY's List.

Both Carter and Peterson, who would be the first Black woman to represent Louisiana in Congress, have campaigned as ardent Democrats, though Peterson has argued she's the more progressive of the two. Notably, while Peterson and other contenders called for a Green New Deal, Carter merely characterized it as "a good blueprint" that won't be in place for a long time and that he doesn't support.

Both candidates also say they back Medicare for all, though only Peterson has run commercials focused on it. Carter, for his part, has insisted he'd have a far easier time working with Republicans than Peterson. Carter has additionally played up his relationship with Richmond, saying, "I would have the ear of the guy who has the ear of the president of the United States of America." Peterson, who is a former state party chair, has pushed back by saying she has her own ties to senior White House officials and does "not need to have the ear of the ear of the ear of the toe of the thumb of someone."

Peterson will likely need Chambers' supporters to disproportionately break for her in order for her to close the gap next month, and she may be better positioned to appeal to them than Carter. That's far from guaranteed to happen, though, and Chambers himself hasn't hinted if he's leaning towards supporting one of them over the other. Chambers, while acknowledging Sunday that his endorsement would be very valuable, said of the two runoff contenders, "I don't think either one of them is a true progressive."

Local politics in New Orleans, which is coterminous with Orleans Parish, also may impact this race, as the two state senators represent conflicting factions in local Democratic politics. Peterson is a leader in the Black Organization for Leadership Development (BOLD), a longtime power player in the Crescent City that has clashed with Richmond and his allies. Each side scored some big wins and losses in the 2019 legislative elections, and Clancy DuBos of the New Orleans weekly The Gambit recently noted, "Many see this contest as the latest bout between BOLD and Richmond."

In Orleans Parish, which cast just over half the vote on Saturday in this 10-parish district, it was Carter's side that very much came out on top in the first round. Carter led with 39%, while Chambers actually narrowly led Peterson 27-25 for second.

LA-05: University of Louisiana Monroe official Julia Letlow defeated Democrat Candy Christophe 65-27 in the all-party primary to succeed her late husband and fellow Republican, Luke Letlow, which was well more than the majority she needed to avoid a runoff. Luke Letlow won an open seat runoff for this safely red northeast Louisiana seat in December, but he died weeks later of complications from COVID-19 before he could take office.

Julia Letlow will be the first woman to represent Louisiana in Congress since Democrat Mary Landrieu left the Senate following her 2014 defeat, as well as the first Republican woman to ever serve in the state's delegation.

Letlow will also join Doris Matsui, a California Democrat, as the only member of Congress elected to succeed a late husband. (Michigan Democrat Debbie Dingell won the 2014 contest to succeed John Dingell, which made her the first member elected to succeed a living spouse; John Dingell died in 2019.) Texas Republican Susan Wright is also currently running to succeed Rep. Ron Wright, who also died after contracting COVID-19.

NY-23: Chemung County Executive Chris Moss said Monday that he was interested in running to succeed Rep. Tom Reed, a fellow Republican who on Sunday apologized for sexually harassing a woman in 2017 as he announced he would not run for office in 2022. But Moss, who was the party's 2014 nominee for lieutenant governor, said that he would first run for re-election to his current office this year and would not decide on anything until he sees the new congressional map.

Moss has good reason to be wary, as no one knows what this 55-42 Trump seat, which currently includes Ithaca and southwestern New York, will look like next year. New York is very likely to lose at least one House seat, and Reed's departure could make it easier for mapmakers to eliminate this upstate New York seat.

It's also not clear, though, who those mapmakers will even be. An amendment to the state constitution backed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo passed in 2014 that, under the pretense of establishing an independent redistricting commission—a judge literally ordered that the word "independent" be stricken from the amendment's description because it was nothing of the sort—was actually designed to ensure Republican lawmakers would have a say in redistricting no matter if they lost their then-control over the state Senate. Legislative Democrats, though, now have the two-third supermajorities that would allow them to bypass this amendment―if they choose to try, that is.

All we know for now is that Reed's Sunday announcement will mark the end of a decade-long political career that included one unexpectedly competitive race. Reed was the mayor of Corning, a small city best known as the headquarters of the eponymous glassworks company, in 2008 when Democrat Eric Massa scored a pickup in what was numbered the 29th District at the time. The ancestrally red seat, though, had supported John McCain 51-48, and Republicans planned to make Massa a top target.

Reed entered the race to take on the freshman Democrat, but he never got the chance to take him on. Massa resigned in disgrace in March of 2010 after an aide accused him of sexual harassment, and Democrats had a very tough time finding a viable replacement candidate. Reed ultimately avoided any intra-party opposition and decisively outraised his Democratic foe, Afghanistan veteran Matthew Zeller. Major outside groups on both sides largely bypassed the race and Reed won 56-43; he also scored a similar win in a special election held that day for the final weeks of Massa's term.

Redistricting left Reed with a less conservative seat, but his huge financial advantage over Democratic Tompkins County Legislator Nate Shinagawa made him look like the heavy favorite to keep the new 23rd District red. It was therefore a big surprise when Reed only defeated Shinagawa 52-48 as Mitt Romney was carrying the seat 50-48, and Democrats were determined to give him a serious fight next time.

Fellow Tompkins County Legislator Martha Robertson stepped up for Team Blue, but 2014 proved to be a very difficult year for her party. Reed ran ad after ad portraying Robertson as an "extreme Ithaca liberal," including one commercial with a very strange cartoon of Robertson driving around in a hippie car as the narrator sarcastically threw in hippie slang.

Reed ended up winning 62-38, but Democrats hoped that the 2016 climate would revert back to something more like 2012. That's very much not what happened, though: Instead, Trump won 55-40 here, and Reed beat Democrat John Plumb 58-42. Reed had a closer 54-46 shave against cybersecurity expert Tracy Mitrano in 2018, but he won their 2020 rematch 58-41.

OH-16: The radical anti-tax Club for Growth has followed Donald Trump's lead and endorsed former Trump administration official Max Miller's Republican primary bid against Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, who voted to impeach the party's leader in January. The Club has also released a poll from WPA Intelligence that shows Miller beating Gonzalez 39-30, though no one knows what this district will look like after redistricting.

TX-06: 2020 state House candidate Lydia Bean has released a poll from the Democratic firm Global Strategy Group that shows her in contention to advance past the May 1 all-party primary:

  • GOP activist Susan Wright (R): 18
  • 2018 nominee Jana Lynne Sanchez (D): 9
  • State Rep. Jake Ellzey (R): 8
  • 2020 state House candidate Lydia Bean (D): 6
  • Former Trump administration official Brian Harrison (R): 6
  • Education activist Shawn Lassiter (D): 4
  • Former Homeland Security official Patrick Moses (D): 2
  • 2020 Nevada congressional candidate Dan Rodimer (R): 1

The only other poll we've seen was a Victoria Research survey for Sanchez released last week that showed Wright leading her 21-17, with Ellzey and Bean at 8% and 5%, respectively.

TX-34: In a surprise, Democratic Rep. Filemón Vela said Monday that he would not seek a sixth term in Texas' 34th Congressional District, a heavily Latino seat that snapped hard to the right last year. Vela is the second Democratic House member to announce his retirement following Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who made her 2022 plans known earlier this month.

This constituency, which includes Brownsville in the Rio Grande Valley and rural counties to the north, went for Joe Biden 52-48 four years after it supported Hillary Clinton by a hefty 59-38 margin in 2016. This was the biggest shift toward Trump of any congressional district in Texas, and his third-largest improvement in the entire nation. Vela himself won re-election by a comfortable 55-42 against an underfunded Republican in a contest that attracted very little outside spending, but the dynamics of an open seat race could be very different.

Further muddling the picture for 2022 is redistricting. While Texas Republicans were ecstatic about their gains with Latino voters, they saw an even broader disintegration in their former suburban strongholds across the state that's left many of their incumbents on the brink. While the GOP will have full control over redistricting for the coming decade once again, Republicans in the legislature will have to make many hard choices about which districts to prop up and which to cut loose.  

Vela, for his part, has not had to worry about a competitive race since he won his first primary in 2012. Vela had never sought office before he entered that crowded contest for the newly-drawn 34th District, but his family had some very strong ties to the seat: His mother, Blanca Vela, was the first woman to serve as mayor of Brownsville while his father and namesake, Filemón Vela Sr., was a longtime federal judge who had a courthouse named for him in the city.

The younger Vela looked like the frontrunner especially after his most prominent opponent, Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos, was indicted for racketeering weeks before the primary. (He was later sentenced to 13 years in prison.) Vela reached the runoff by taking 40%, while his opponent, former congressional staffer Denise Saenz Blanchard, was far behind with 13%.

Blanchard ran to Vela's left and portrayed her opponent, whose wife was a GOP member of the state Court of Appeals, as far too conservative. Blanchard hit Vela for having voted in GOP primaries in the past, and some Republicans even insisted that Vela himself had planned to run for Congress as a member of Team Red until he saw the new congressional map.

However, Blanchard had little money available in a contest that attracted very little outside attention (Daily Kos Elections at the time dubbed it, "The most under-watched nominating battle in the nation."), and Vela won 67-33. Vela had no trouble that fall or in any other campaigns.

Legislatures

Special Elections: Here's a recap of Saturday's special election in Louisiana and a preview of Tuesday's race in Virginia:

LA-HD-82: An all-Republican runoff is on tap for April 24 after Eddie Connick and Laurie Schlegel were the top two vote-getters for this seat in the New Orleans suburbs. Connick led Schlegel 40-36 in the first round, while Democrat Raymond Delaney took third with 25%.

Despite some recent leftward movement in this solidly red district, the two Republican candidates outpaced the Democrat 75-25. The strong GOP performance here could partially be attributed to the Republican candidates' connections to well-known local political figures.

VA-SD-38: This Republican district in southwest Virginia became vacant after former Sen. Ben Chafin died earlier this year. Former Radford City Councilwoman Laurie Buchwald is the Democratic candidate taking on Republican Travis Hackworth, a Tazewell County supervisor.

Buchwald has run for office once before, losing a state House of Delegates race to GOP incumbent Joe Yost 58-42 in 2015.

This is a strongly Republican seat that backed Donald Trump 75-22 in 2016, and according to The News and Advance, Trump took 78% of the vote here in 2020. This is the only vacancy in this chamber, which Democrats narrowly control 21-18.

Mayors

Atlanta, GA Mayor: Joe Biden will be hosting a Friday virtual fundraiser for Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, which is the president's first such event for any candidate since he became president. Bottoms faces a potentially competitive re-election fight this fall against City Council President Felicia Moore, while others are also considering taking her on.