The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from Daniel Donner, David Jarman, Steve Singiser, James Lambert and David Beard.
● TX-AG: The Texas State Senate on Monday passed a resolution declaring that its trial for Attorney General Ken Paxton, whom the state House impeached over corruption allegations two days before, must begin by Aug. 28. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who like Paxton and every other statewide official is a Republican, is tasked with choosing the starting date and presiding over the tribunal. It would take two-thirds of the 31-member chamber, where the GOP holds a 19-12 majority, to convict Paxton and thus bar him from ever holding state office again.
Paxton will remain suspended until a verdict is reached, and Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster, who joined his boss in trying to overturn Joe Biden's 2020 win, automatically assumed the office. Gov. Greg Abbott has not yet said if he'd select someone to take over from Webster, a key Paxton ally who used his first day on the job to praise the scandal-ridden attorney general in an email to staffers.
If the Senate removed Paxton, though, election law professor Quinn Yeargain writes in Guaranteed Republics that Abbott would be tasked with picking a replacement, and that this person would require the support of two-thirds of the Senate in order to be confirmed. Yeargain adds that a November 2024 special election would take place for the final two years of Paxton's term should he be convicted.
This could be a consequential pick should Abbott get to make it, as political observers point out that whoever holds the powerful post of attorney general could be the frontrunner in 2026 to succeed the governor in the event that he doesn't seek a fourth term. (Abbott himself used this office as a springboard to the governorship in 2014.)
Yeargain, however, notes that, because Republicans are two seats shy of the two-thirds supermajority needed to unilaterally confirm a new attorney general, Democrats could try to pressure Abbott to pick someone who wouldn't run next year. If the Senate failed to oust Paxton, though, he'd be free to run for reelection or higher office three years down the line.
It also remains to be seen if two GOP senators, Angela Paxton and Bryan Hughes, will act as jurors, though the Houston Chronicle says that two-thirds of the total body would need to vote for conviction whether or not there are any recusals. Angela Paxton is Ken Paxton's wife, and she's remained his close ally even though he allegedly convinced a wealthy ally named Nate Paul to hire the woman that the attorney general was having an affair with. The House's articles of impeachment, meanwhile, accuse Paxton of utilizing Hughes as a "straw requestor" for a legal opinion used to aid Paul.
Patrick indicated that neither senator would be required to step aside, saying, "I will be presiding over that case and the senators—all 31 senators—will have a vote." Kenneth Williams, who is a professor of criminal procedure, told the Associated Press that there wasn't any way to prevent Angela Paxton from taking part in the proceedings, saying, "It's up to her ethical standards and compass, basically."
Until a week ago, it didn't look like Ken Paxton was in any immediate danger of losing the office he was reelected to twice while under felony indictment. The attorney general was charged with securities fraud all the way back in 2015, but that trial still has yet to be scheduled. In November of 2020, the AP reported that the FBI was probing him in an unrelated matter for allegedly using his office to help Paul in exchange for favors. Four of Paxton's former top aides also filed a whistleblower lawsuit claiming that he'd retaliated against them for helping this investigation; their suit also alleges that Webster took part in this retaliation.
Paxton and his former personnel reached a tentative settlement in February that was contingent on the Texas legislature approving $3.3 million in state funds to the quartet, but it soon became apparent that House Speaker Dade Phelan and other fellow Republicans weren't keen to pay this. And while things seemed to stall, the House General Investigating Committee actually quietly began its own report into Paxton's alleged misbehavior.
Paxton made news Tuesday when he called for Phelan to resign for presiding over his chamber "in a state of apparent debilitating intoxication," but all that was overshadowed the next day when the committee unexpectedly released its report reiterating many of the allegations related to Paul. The committee, which recommended impeachment the next day, went on to say, "We cannot over-emphasize the fact that, but for Paxton's own request for a taxpayer-funded settlement . . . Paxton would not be facing impeachment."
On Saturday, the GOP-dominated House was presented with 20 counts of impeachment. Most of the charges accused Paxton of illegally using his powers to help Paul, though some said he'd tried to interfere in the securities fraud case. Donald Trump, who endorsed the attorney general in last year's primary, tried to pressure Republicans with a TruthSocial message threatening to "fight" anyone who voted for impeachment, while one Republican member of the General Investigating Committee claimed that Paxton himself had contacted representatives "threatening them with political consequences in their next election."
Ultimately, though, impeachment passed 121-23, with 60 Republicans joining 61 Democrats in the affirmative. All 23 noes came from Republicans, with one member from each party voting present: The lone Democrat to do this was Harold Dutton, who infuriated his party earlier this month by backing an anti-trans bill.
Paxton characteristically responded by writing, "Phelan's coalition of Democrats and liberal Republicans is now in lockstep with the Biden Administration, the abortion industry, anti-gun zealots, and woke corporations to sabotage my work as Attorney General." He also predicted he'd be acquitted by the Senate where, as Yeargain writes, Angela Paxton would likely become the first person in American history to have the chance to vote on an impeached spouse's conviction.
● MD-Sen: AdImpact tells Politico that Rep. David Trone has already reserved close to $2 million as he continues his TV ad campaign almost a year ahead of the Democratic primary. The congressman's newest commercial features him talking about his nephew's death after a long struggle with substance addiction.
● NV-Sen: Nevada Newsmakers has released a survey from Vote TXT, a firm whose work we hadn't seen before, showing Democratic incumbent Jacky Rosen posting a 39-34 lead in a hypothetical general election over Jim Marchant, the election conspiracy theorist who was the 2022 GOP nominee for secretary of state. The survey also finds 2022 Senate nominee Adam Laxalt edging out Rosen 42-41, though Laxalt said all the way back in December that he didn't "see a scenario where I'm on the ballot in 2024."
● OH-Sen: Republican Rep. Warren Davidson has announced he won't run for Senate against Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown next year, avoiding a potential headache for establishment Republicans in one of their top pickup opportunities this cycle. The far-right Davidson had been urged to run by the anti-tax hardliners at the Club for Growth, who had reportedly promised to spend on his behalf if he had joined the Republican primary.
Davidson's decision to stay put helps ease the path for wealthy businessman Bernie Moreno to consolidate Trump-supporting primary voters, though Secretary of State Frank LaRose could still join the race and recently said he would decide "by the middle part of summer." Moreno has won praise from Trump himself and a recent endorsement from GOP Sen. J.D. Vance, and he currently faces wealthy state Sen. Matt Dolan, an avowed Trump critic who unsuccessfully ran against Vance in the primary for Ohio's other Senate seat when it was open last year.
● PA-Sen: Politico relays that state Treasurer Stacy Garrity isn't ruling out running for the GOP nomination to face Democratic Sen. Bob Casey next year instead of seeking reelection, though Garrity acknowledged that taking on the three-term senator is "going to be tough no matter who runs against him." Garrity won her current office in 2020 when she unseated Democratic incumbent Joseph Torsella 49-48 in an upset even as Biden was pulling off his own close win, and she has gone on to endorse Trump's 2020 election conspiracy theories.
Politico also reports that Carla Sands, a wealthy donor who was Trump's ambassador to Denmark, isn't ruling out a run of her own, though she took a distant fourth place with only 5% when she ran in the primary for Pennsylvania's other Senate seat last year.
● WV-Sen: East Carolina University has polled next year's Senate contest in West Virginia and finds Republican Gov. Jim Justice in a dominant position to win. Justice holds a 53-12 lead over Rep. Alex Mooney in the primary and would go on to trounce Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin 54-32 if he's the nominee next year. The poll also tested Mooney against Manchin and finds the congressman leading by a much smaller 41-40 spread.
● IN-Gov: Disgraced former Attorney General Curtis Hill tells the Hamilton County Reporter that he is indeed considering running in next year's Republican primary for governor. Hill narrowly lost renomination at the 2020 convention to former Rep. Todd Rokita two years after multiple women accused the attorney general of groping them.
● KY-Gov: The RGA's State Solutions affiliate has launched what the GOP firm Medium Buying says is a $325,000 opening general election ad campaign against Democratic incumbent Andy Beshear, though its first commercial is the same one it used against him in mid-April. The spot targets Beshear for vetoing a bill that bans gender-affirming care for young trans people, something the GOP-dominated legislature quickly overrode.
● LA-Gov: Far-right state Attorney General Jeff Landry is running new ads with a tough-on-crime message that are anything but subtle in their racist appeals. Landry's ads tout his law enforcement background, and he claims he'll "hold everyone, and I mean everyone, accountable for violent crime." Yet somehow that means just focusing on local officials who are Black Democrats, not their white Democratic counterparts and certainly not any Republicans such as the one who has been the state's top law enforcement officer for the past eight years.
Indeed, Landry's campaign is running similar versions in the New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport areas, which are Louisiana's three biggest cities and each have large Black populations. As Gambit's Clancy DuBos notes, each version singles out local Black Democrats serving as mayor or district attorney to blame them for crime problems while ignoring white Democrats (let alone Republicans) in similar positions of power there or elsewhere in the state.
Medium Buying relays that Landry has thus far spent or reserved just $376,000 on ads, and it's notable that he's resorting to racist messaging right out of the gate in a race for governor where the lone major Democrat, former state Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson, is Black.
● ND-Gov, NH-Gov: North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, whom multiple media outlets report has decided to wage a longshot GOP presidential bid, has “a special announcement” set for June 7, while New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said Sunday he’d decide on his own White House plans “in the next week or two.” Both Republicans could seek reelection in 2024 should their presidential hopes fail, though Sununu sounds unlikely to run again for his current post.
● AZ-03: Phoenix City Councilmember Laura Pastor has filed FEC paperwork for a campaign to succeed her fellow Democrat, Senate contender Ruben Gallego, and ABC 15 says her announcement will take place Wednesday. Pastor is the daughter of Gallego’s immediate predecessor, the late Rep. Ed Pastor.
● CA-12: Jennifer Tran, a professor at California State University East Bay who also serves as president of the Oakland Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce, is the latest Democrat to announce a campaign to succeed Senate candidate Barbara Lee in this dark-blue Oakland constituency.
Tran joins a race that includes BART board member Lateefah Simon and businessman Tim Sanchez. Simon has endorsements from EMILY's List and some prominent state and local Democrats, and the San Francisco Chronicle recently noted that the locally influential Building and Construction Trades Council of Alameda County is also behind her.
● CA-47, CA-45: Board of Equalization member Mike Schaefer, a Democrat who has survived many scandals, tells the Orange County Register that he’ll run for the open 47th District to replace Democratic Senate candidate Katie Porter. Schaefer previously filed FEC paperwork to campaign for GOP Rep. Michelle Steel’s 45th District, but he tells the paper that he only did this because he didn’t know that Porter’s constituency no longer has this number under the new congressional map. “I’m trying to figure out how to unregister myself,” for the 45th, he says, adding, “I’m trying to get past that hurdle first.”
Schaefer, whose San Diego home isn’t in either of these Orange County constituencies, is 86, which would make him by far the oldest House freshman in American history; that record is currently held by Kentucky Republican William Lewis, who won his seat at age 79 in a 1948 special election and didn’t run for a full term later that year. Schaefer says he also doesn’t intend to seek reelection, though plenty of Democrats would prefer it if he doesn’t even get to serve that long. As the San Francisco Chronicle put it in a jaw-dropping paragraph during his reelection campaign last year:
He was accused — and eventually acquitted — in a 1970 Yellow Cab bribery scandal in San Diego, when he served on the City Council. He was convicted of misdemeanor spousal abuse and jailed in 1993, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, and was ordered by a jury in 1986 to pay $1.83 million to former tenants in Los Angeles who sued because they said their apartments, rented from Schaefer, were overrun with rats, cockroaches, sewage and street gangs, according to the Los Angeles Times. And in 2013, a Nevada court ordered him to stay at least 100 feet away from actor and comedian Brad Garrett, who played a cop and brother in "Everybody Loves Raymond," after he allegedly stalked the actor following a dispute over a complimentary ticket to a Las Vegas show.
Schaefer's team responded by insisting people should focus on his performance in office instead of his "colorful past," and voters supported him 59-41 over a fellow Democrat.
Schaefer joins a contest that includes two fellow Democrats, state Sen. Dave Min and party activist Joanna Weiss, as well as 2022 GOP nominee Scott Baugh. Min, who has Porter’s endorsement, looked like the party’s frontrunner until he was arrested for drunk driving early this month, and one prominent California Democrat has made it clear he wants an alternative. Pete Aguilar, who is the third-ranking member of the Democratic leadership, told the state party convention over the weekend, “The filing deadline is in December.”
● DE-AL, DE-Sen, DE-Gov: Bloomberg has the names of some more Democrats who could run for Delaware's top statewide offices if Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester decides to run for Senate following incumbent Tom Carper's retirement announcement. An adviser for Eugene Young, who is the director of the Delaware State Housing Authority, says his boss is considering running for House, and state Treasurer Colleen Davis gave an interview where she didn't rule out running for House, Senate, or to succeed term-limited Gov. John Carney.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that state Sen. Sarah McBride is "assembling plans" to run for House if Blunt Rochester goes for Senate. Lastly, unnamed insiders mentioned state Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro as a potential House candidate, though she doesn't appear to have said anything publicly yet.
● IL-12: Darren Bailey, the far-right former state senator who was the GOP's nominee for governor of Illinois last year, did not rule out waging a primary bid against Rep. Mike Bost when KSDK asked him about it, a development that comes a month after Politico first reported that he was considering the idea. Bailey instead texted the station that he and his wife were praying about their next steps, adding, "As of right now there are no plans, but we will keep you up to date."
● MD-06: Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin reports that U.S. Commerce Department official April McClain-Delaney not only is considering a bid for the Democratic nod, she's also been speaking to campaign vendors. McClain-Delaney is the wife of former Rep. John Delaney, who won a previous version of this seat in 2012 and gave it up six years later to run for president.
● MN-02: Attorney Tayler Rahm over the weekend announced he'd campaign as a Republican against Democratic incumbent Angie Craig. Biden carried this constituency, which is based in the southern Minneapolis-St. Paul suburbs, 53-45, while Craig won her third term 51-46 last year.
● NY-17: Former Bedford Town Supervisor MaryAnn Carr has filed FEC paperwork for a potential bid for the Democratic nod to take on GOP Rep. Mike Lawler. Carr's colleagues on the Town Board in early 2021 chose her to fill the vacant post as leader this community of 17,000, but she lost the primary for a full term later that year to Councilwoman Ellen Calves 67-33.
● RI-01: Bella Machado Noka, who is a Narragansett Aboriginal Nation tribal elder, announced Thursday that she was joining the packed Democratic special election primary. Noka would be the first Native American to represent New England in Congress.
● UT-02, UT-Sen: Republican Rep. Chris Stewart, multiple unnamed sources tell the Salt Lake Tribune, plans to resign from the House as soon as this week due to unknown "ongoing health issues with his wife." The departure of Stewart, who has been an ardent conservative hardliner during his decade in Congress, would set off a special election to succeed him in a constituency that Donald Trump carried 57-40. His exit from Congress also almost certainly means that he won't be challenging Sen. Mitt Romney despite not ruling out the idea last month.
● Alberta, Canada: The governing United Conservative Party, led by the controversial Danielle Smith, secured a second consecutive term in the western Canadian province of Alberta on Monday by winning 49 seats in the provincial legislature, with the remaining 38 seats going to the left-leaning New Democratic Party under the leadership of Rachel Notley. While the NDP did manage to make major gains at the expense of the UCP by flipping 14 seats, the provincewide vote margin favored the ruling party 53-44. However, that margin understates how close the race really was: The UCP won their six most competitive seats in the cities of Calgary and Lethbridge by just over 2,600 votes collectively.