Morning Digest: Freedom Caucus chief loses—just barely—after Trump sought his ouster

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

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Daily Kos will be off Wednesday in observance of Juneteenth, so there will be no Morning Digest on Thursday. It will return on Friday.

Leading Off

VA-05: State Sen. John McGuire defeated House Freedom Caucus chair Bob Good by the narrowest of margins in Tuesday's Republican primary for Virginia's conservative 5th District, a shockingly close loss—but cold comfort—for an incumbent whose congressional career had looked doomed for quite some time.

The AP had not called the race when we put the Digest to bed, though McGuire declared victory on election night. Good, meanwhile, insisted that he would work to "ensure all the votes are properly counted in the coming days." An unknown number of provisional ballots remain to be tallied, and a recount is possible. However, with McGuire ahead by about 300 votes, a change in the lead would be very unlikely.

McGuire's ultra-tight victory came after Good spent his second and final term infuriating just about every power player in the party, including Donald Trump, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and most of his colleagues. 

The congressman's underdog status seemed cemented when, in early May, McGuire released an internal poll that showed him ahead 45-31. Good's team offered the feeblest of responses: "The only poll that matters is the final count on Election Day," his campaign said in a statement, all but admitting they had no better numbers to counter with.

Trump himself tried to deliver the final blow a short time later by endorsing McGuire. He specifically sought revenge for Good's decision to support Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the presidential primary, a move that had put the Virginian crossways with Trump and his legions of adherents.

Allies of McCarthy also worked to punish Good for joining Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz's successful effort to terminate McCarthy's speakership. Other major donors were eager to simply extricate a troublesome rebel from the House. AdImpact says that, all told, a hefty $9 million was spent on ads that either sought to boost McGuire or tear down Good.

But Good's camp, which included the hardline Club for Growth and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's Protect Freedom PAC, never gave up. Collectively, they spent more than $5 million on the airwaves to try to keep him in office.

The final stretch of the race devolved into warring assertions about internal polling, with both sides claiming to be well ahead. But while Good never produced any data of his own, McGuire's arguments were still based on his original poll, by now six weeks old.

As Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin wryly pointed out, both candidates were "wrong by double digits." But even if his final margin of victory was far skinnier than he anticipated, McGuire got to enjoy the last laugh.

Good's loss, as close as it was, makes him only the second member of Congress from either party to lose renomination anywhere in the country this cycle. But while Alabama Rep. Jerry Carl lost to fellow incumbent Barry Moore in March following a round of court-ordered redistricting, Good is the first representative to lose to a challenger.

Good, who spent the last several months backing unsuccessful primary campaigns against several of his colleagues, will at least feel a pang of recognition at his fate, since he earned his ticket to Capitol Hill four years ago by defeating a Republican congressman. Good decided to take on freshman Rep. Denver Riggleman after the incumbent infuriated hardliners by officiating a same-sex wedding between two of his former campaign volunteers.

The GOP nomination in 2020 was decided not in a primary but at a convention, which just so happened to take place at Good’s own church. Good, an elected official in Campbell County, also benefited from his post as an athletics official at Liberty University, which has long been one of the Christian right's most prominent institutions and is located in the district.

Riggleman fought back with endorsements from Trump and Jerry Falwell Jr. (who would resign in disgrace as Liberty's president two months later), but it wasn't enough. The conclave of some 2,500 delegates favored Good 58-42, though he had a tougher time that fall, managing a surprisingly small 52-47 win over Democrat Cameron Webb in an expensive contest.

(McGuire, who was a member of the state House at the time, lost a convention for the GOP nomination in the old 7th District the following month to fellow Del. Nick Freitas, who in turn lost to Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger.)

Good had no trouble winning renomination at the Republican convention in 2022 and handily prevailed in the general election. But he faced a very different battle this time around. A law passed in 2021 required that all absentee voters have the chance to take part in nomination contests, a policy that made it difficult for political parties in Virginia to hold conventions rather than primaries. That shift may have made all the difference.

But while many of Good's colleagues will be overjoyed to see McGuire replace him in the 5th District, which favored Trump 53-45 in 2020, Riggleman may not be entirely enjoying the schadenfreude.

"McGuire might be more dangerous than Bob Good," Riggleman tweeted in March as he shared a picture of the challenger at the Jan. 6 Trump rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol. "McGuire coming at Bob from the RIGHT— a panting sycophant who will do anything to win," Riggleman continued. "A box of hammers with a love of power." The former congressman went on to write last month, "Bob Good could be worst member—McGuire might be worse!"

Election Recaps

GA-03 (R): Brian Jack, a former aide to Donald Trump, outpaced former state Sen. Mike Dugan 63-37 in the Republican runoff to replace retiring GOP Rep. Drew Ferguson. Jack, who benefited from his old boss' endorsement and spending from a group backed by the cryptocurrency industry, should have no trouble in the general election for this dark red constituency in Atlanta's southwestern exurbs.

OK-04 (R): Rep. Tom Cole easily fended off businessman Paul Bondar 65-26 in an unexpectedly expensive primary for this safely red seat in southern Oklahoma. 

Bondar poured over $5 million of his own money into ads attacking Cole, who chairs the powerful appropriations chairman, as an insider who "voted with Democrats for billions in new deficit spending." But the incumbent and his allies spent millions on their own messaging reminding viewers both that Cole had Donald Trump's support and that Bondar had only recently moved to Oklahoma from Texas.

VA-Sen (R): Navy veteran Hung Cao beat Scott Parkinson, a former official at the Club for Growth, 62-11 in the Republican primary to take on Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine. Two years ago, Cao held Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton to a modest 53-47 victory in the 10th District, but he'll face a far tougher battle against Kaine in a race that neither national party is treating as competitive.

VA-02 (D): Navy veteran Missy Cotter Smasal defeated attorney Jake Denton 70-30 for the right to take on freshman GOP Rep. Jen Kiggans in a swing district based in Virginia Beach. Smasal, who lost a competitive race for the state Senate in 2019, had the support of the DCCC and all six members of Virginia's Democratic House delegation for her campaign against Kiggans.

VA-07 (D & R): Former National Security Council adviser Eugene Vindman and Green Beret veteran Derrick Anderson respectively won the Democratic and Republican primaries for Virginia's competitive 7th District based in the southern exurbs of Washington, D.C. The two will face off this fall to succeed Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who decided not to seek reelection so she could focus on her 2025 bid for governor, in a constituency that Joe Biden carried 53-46.

Vindman decisively outpaced his nearest opponent, former Del. Elizabeth Guzman, by a 49-15 margin in a field that also included three sitting local elected officials. The frontrunner, who was a key figure in Donald Trump's first impeachment in 2019, has proven to be one of the strongest House fundraisers in the nation.

Anderson, for his part, defeated former Navy SEAL Cameron Hamilton 46-37 in an expensive race. Anderson had the backing of House Speaker Mike Johnson and his allies, while Rand Paul's network spent big for Hamilton.

VA-10 (D & R): State Sen. Suhas Subramanyam edged out Del. Dan Helmer 30-27 in the 12-way Democratic primary to succeed retiring Rep. Jennifer Wexton in Northern Virginia 10th District, which favored Joe Biden 58-40 four years ago. Subramanyam's election would make him both Virginia's first Indian American and Hindu member of Congress.

Citing worsening symptoms of a serious neurodegenerative disease, Wexton unexpectedly announced her retirement last year while serving her third term. But the endorsement she gave to Subramanyam was likely a key reason he prevailed over Helmer, who outraised the rest of the field and benefited from over $5 million in outside spending.

Helmer also drew ugly headlines during the final week of the campaign after four current and former officials in the Loudoun County Democratic Committee put out a statement accusing him of engaging in "inappropriate behavior" with an unnamed committee member in 2018. Helmer denied the allegations.

Subramanyam will face attorney Mike Clancy, who defeated 2020 GOP nominee Aliscia Andrews 64-21. However, while Republicans have talked about putting this once competitive seat back in play, it remains to be seen whether they'll devote the hefty resources needed to accomplish this herculean effort.

House

AK-AL, FL-08, UT-02: Donald Trump on Monday evening endorsed three candidates in contested House primaries: Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom for Alaska's at-large seat; former state Senate President Mike Haridopolos in Florida's 8th District; and Rep. Celeste Maloy in Utah's 2nd District.

Dahlstrom faces GOP businessman Nick Begich and Democratic incumbent Mary Peltola in the Aug. 20 top-four primary, and none of them should have trouble securing a spot in the instant-runoff general election. (The fourth spot is all but certain to be claimed by one of the nine minor candidates who are also running.) Begich, however, has promised to drop out if Dahlstrom outpaces him this summer, a move that would delight party leaders who view him as a weak candidate and want to avoid infighting.

Trump is one of them, and he wrote Monday that Begich, who is the rare Republican member of Alaska's most prominent Democratic family, "has Democrat tendencies." Trump continued that "most importantly, he refused to get out of this Race last time, which caused the Republicans to lose this important seat to Mary Peltola."

Haridopolos, meanwhile, already appeared to be on a glide path to replace GOP Rep. Bill Posey, who timed his April retirement announcement so that Haridopolos could avoid serious opposition. The former state Senate leader only faces a pair of unheralded primary foes in this conservative seat in the Cape Canaveral area, and he'll be even harder to beat with Trump's blessing.

Maloy, finally, is fighting for renomination next week against Colby Jenkins, an Army Reserve colonel who has far-right Sen. Mike Lee's endorsement, in a safely red constituency based in southwestern Utah. Maloy, though, has the backing of all three of her colleagues in the state's all-GOP delegation. She also used this week to unveil an ad starring Gov. Spencer Cox, who is one of the party's few remaining Trump critics who still holds a prominent office.

Trump's new endorsements came hours before NOTUS' Reese Gorman published a story detailing the far-right Freedom Caucus' frustration with Trump's picks in contested primaries this cycle, including his drive to oust chair Bob Good in Virginia this week. The acrimony is only likely to intensify because the Freedom Caucus is backing both Begich and Jenkins.

Unsurprisingly, the House GOP leadership is not at all sympathetic. "The real story here is that these guys throw a temper tantrum every time Trump endorses against their preferred candidate," an unnamed senior aide told Gorman, "where most of the time their preferred candidate is a total shitbag."

AZ-01: Businessman Andrei Cherny this week picked up an endorsement from Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, whose city is home to just over 60% of the 1st District's residents, for the July 30 Democratic primary to face GOP Rep. David Schweikert.

CO-03: The Colorado Sun reports that both parties have become heavily involved in next week's GOP primary for Colorado's open 3rd District as Republicans try to counter the Democrats' attempts to pick their preferred opponent. The candidate at the center of all this is former state Rep. Ron Hanks, a far-right election denier whom both sides agree would be a weak GOP nominee for this 53-45 Trump district.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, the main super PAC aligned with House GOP leadership, is spending at least $325,000 on new TV and radio ads attacking Hanks. The TV spot claims Hanks is insufficiently pro-Trump, arguing that Democrats are supporting him to "elect another liberal to Congress" after the Democratic super PAC Rocky Mountain Values has spent $400,000 this month on ads to aid Hanks or attack a rival. (Democrats previously ran ads last cycle to elevate Hanks in his unsuccessful 2022 Senate primary bid.)

Meanwhile, 2022 Democratic nominee Adam Frisch has put at least $100,000 behind a new TV commercial to deter Republicans from nominating a more formidable candidate, attorney Jeff Hurd. Frisch's spot lambastes Hurd for refusing to clarify his positions on abortion, immigration, and whether he supports Trump. The ad continues, "All we really do know about Jeff Hurd is he's financed by out-of-state corporate money."

Hurd is also taking fire from a Republican rival, financial adviser Russ Andrews, who has spent at least $70,000 on ads opposing him. No copy of Andrews' commercial is available yet, but The Sun's description notes it goes after Hurd for inadequate fealty to Trump and being an "Ivy League Lawyer."

Republican chances of holding this district appeared to improve significantly earlier this cycle when far-right Republican incumbent Lauren Boebert switched to run in the redder 4th District after only beating Frisch by a razor-thin margin in the 3rd last cycle. However, Frisch had already taken advantage of his now-former opponent's national notoriety by raising millions of dollars, funding he's now deploying to ensure that Republicans select another deeply flawed nominee.

FL-01: The House Ethics Committee announced Tuesday that it was continuing to review allegations that Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz had engaged in a wide variety of wrongdoing, including "sexual misconduct and illicit drug use," accepting "improper gifts," awarding "special privileges and favors" to associates, and obstructing investigations into his alleged misdeeds.

The Committee, however, said it was no longer probing a variety of other accusations, including claims that Gaetz had shared "inappropriate" videos on the floor of the House, put campaign funds to personal use, and accepted a bribe.

The panel released its statement one day after Gaetz tweeted that the Committee was "now opening new frivolous investigations" into the congressman despite supposedly having "closed four probes into me."

The Committee disputed that characterization, saying that its current investigation is the same one that had already been underway. It also said it experienced "difficulty in obtaining relevant information from Representative Gaetz and others."

The Committee initially deferred its inquiry after the Justice Department began its own investigation into Gaetz in 2021 regarding the alleged sex trafficking of a minor and other accusations, but that probe ended last year without charges. The Ethics Committee says that it later "reauthorized its investigation after DOJ withdrew its deferral request."

IL-17: Politico has obtained a recent 1892 Polling internal conducted for the NRCC and former state Circuit Judge Joe McGraw, which finds McGraw trailing 44-35 against freshman Democratic Rep. Eric Sorensen with 20% undecided. The sample also shows Biden leading Trump just 39-38 in a district Biden carried 53-45 in 2020.

This is the first publicly available survey of the race for Illinois' 17th District, which includes the communities of Rockford and Peoria, since McGraw won the Republican nomination in March.

NY-16: Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman's allies at Justice Democrats and the Working Families Party are spending $900,000 on a TV ad to support the incumbent in next week's primary against Westchester County Executive George Latimer, who has been the beneficiary of most of the outside spending.

First reported by Politico, the commercial takes "Republican megadonors" to task for contributing millions for ads to "smear" Bowman and elevate Latimer, citing news stories to portray the challenger as opposed to key parts of Joe Biden's agenda. The move comes after the hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC has spent weeks running spots arguing that Bowman is the one who has undermined Biden, and its newest spot once again criticizes the incumbent for having "voted against President Biden's debt limit deal."

However, data from AdImpact underscores the lopsided advantage that Latimer's side enjoys in blasting out its preferred narrative. AIPAC has deployed $14 million on Latimer's behalf, and the pro-crypto group Fairshake has dropped another $2 million. By contrast, Justice Democrats and the Working Families Party have spent only $1.5 million to aid Bowman.

UT-03: Sen. Mike Lee endorsed state Sen. Mike Kennedy on Monday ahead of next week's five-way Republican primary to replace Rep. John Curtis, who is giving up the 3rd District to campaign to succeed Mitt Romney in Utah's other Senate seat. Kennedy, who briefly attracted national prominence in 2018 by taking on Romney, is a hardliner who has successfully pushed laws like a ban on gender-affirming care for minors.

But while Kennedy won an April party convention dominated by far-right delegates, he's been decisively outspent by a pair of self-funding businessmen who are each hoping to replace Curtis. One of those contenders is Case Lawrence, a former CEO of the trampoline park chain Sky Zone who threw down almost $2.5 million of his own money through June 5. The other is Roosevelt Mayor Rod Bird, who self-funded about $1 million.

The race also includes state Auditor John Dougall, who will be listed on the ballot with his nickname "Frugal." Dougall, who is the only statewide elected official in the contest, has paid for billboards identifying him as "MAINSTREAM NOT MAGA," which is an unusual pitch for today's GOP. The Salt Lake Tribune's Robert Gehrke writes that the auditor is the one contender "to publicly criticize and disavow Trump."

Rounding out the field is attorney Stewart Peay, who has Romney's endorsement. (Peay's wife, Misha, is a niece of Romney's wife, Ann.) Peay, who has dodged questions about whether he backs his party's master, has argued he'd emulate one of his MAGA's prominent GOP critics, Gov. Spencer Cox. "I believe in the civility we’ve seen from Cox, the pragmatism you see from John Curtis, and the bipartisanship you see from Mitt Romney," he told the Deseret News.

There has been no outside spending in this contest, nor have we seen any polls. Whoever wins a plurality in next week's GOP primary should have no trouble in the fall for a safely red constituency based in the Provo area, southeastern Salt Lake City, and rural southeastern Utah.

House: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced its first fall TV ad reservations of the 2024 election cycle on Tuesday, with bookings totaling $16.4 million across 15 different media markets. The committee also said it had reserved $12 million for digital advertising in 21 different states that "represent the majority of the House battlefield."

We've added these new television reservations to our continually updated tracker, which also shows which districts the committee likely plans to target. (As yet, we've seen no surprises.) While the DCCC's initial foray is considerably smaller than the $146 million in TV reservations its allies at the House Majority PAC announced in April, this list will grow as new bookings are announced. (In 2022, the D-Trip spent almost $100 million on 45 different races.)

The committee's move also means that three of the four largest outside groups involved in House races have announced their first round of reservations this year. Early last month, the pro-GOP Congressional Leadership Fund said it had booked $141 million in airtime. The National Republican Congressional Committee, however, has yet to make an appearance.

Poll Pile

  • NC-Gov: Spry Strategies (R): Mark Robinson (R): 43, Josh Stein (D): 39 (48-44 Trump in two-way, 45-37 Trump with third-party candidates)
  • AZ-06: Public Opinion Strategies for Juan Ciscomani: Juan Ciscomani (R-inc): 50, Kirsten Engel (D): 39 (49-45 Trump)

Ad Roundup

Campaign Action

Morning Digest: Why two conservative Arizona justices could lose this fall

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

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

 AZ Supreme Court: Arizona voters will likely have the chance to overturn their state Supreme Court's new ruling banning nearly all abortions when they head to the polls this fall, but they'll also have the opportunity to reshape the court itself.

As Bolt's Daniel Nichanian points out, two of the justices who voted with the majority will be up for election to new six-year terms in November, Clint Bolick and Kathryn Hackett King. They won't have actual opponents, though, but rather will face what are known as "retention" elections. Under this system, which is used for members of the judiciary in many states, voters are presented with a simple "yes/no" question asking whether a particular judge should "be retained in office."

It's rare for judges to lose retention elections, but it's also rare for a state supreme court to thrust itself into the national limelight the way that Arizona's just did. And abortion will be a top—if not the top—issue this year in Arizona, particularly because reproductive rights supporters say they've already collected enough signatures to place a measure on the November ballot that would enshrine the right to an abortion into the state constitution.

Should Bolick or Hackett King lose, Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs would be able to appoint replacements, drawn from a list created by the state's Commission on Appellate Court Appointments. But while that commission is, under the state constitution, supposed to be politically diverse, Hobbs' Republican predecessor, Doug Ducey, stacked the board with nominal independents who have ties to the GOP.

Hobbs could reshape the commission with her own appointments, which implicates yet another set of important Arizona elections. Commission members must be approved by the state Senate, which Republicans control by a narrow 16-14 majority. Every member of the Senate, though, will be up for election this year. With abortion so salient—GOP leaders have refused to consider legislation—reversing the court's ban—Democrats have a strong chance of flipping the chamber.

It would, however, be some time before the court could see a majority of Democratic appointees, though such a shift is by no means impossible. The two dissenters in the abortion case, Chief Justice Robert Brutinel and Vice Chief Justice Ann Timmer, will hit the mandatory retirement age of 70 in 2028 and 2030, respectively. Should Hobbs win reelection in 2026, she'd get to fill those vacancies as well. (Bolick, should he survive retention, would face mandatory retirement in 2027, while Hackett King would not do so until 2050.)

The Downballot

It's only April, but the Washington Post's new report on GOP golden boy Tim Sheehy is a strong contender for the craziest political story of the year. On this week's episode of "The Downballot," co-hosts David Nir and David Beard dissect the countless contradictions in Sheehy's tales about a bullet wound that he either received in Afghanistan or in a national park three years later. The Davids also explain why the Arizona Supreme Court's appalling new ruling banning nearly all abortions could lead to two conservative justices losing their seats this fall.

Our guest this week is Sondra Goldschein, who runs the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, an organization dedicated to improving America's badly lagging "care infrastructure." Goldschein explains how issues like paid medical leave laws and greater access to childcare affect an enormous swath of the electorate—and why they're closely tied to voters' perceptions of their economic fortunes. She also highlights candidates her group is working to elect to make these policies a reality.

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

1Q Fundraising

  • DE-Sen: Lisa Blunt Rochester (D): $1 million raised

  • MA-Sen: Elizabeth Warren (D-inc): $1.1 million raised, $4.4 million in cash on hand 

  • MD-Sen: Larry Hogan (R): $3.1 million raised (in 51 days)

  • AZ-06: Kirsten Engel (D): $1.2 million raised, $1.8 million cash on hand

  • CA-40: Young Kim (R-inc): $1.3 million raised, $3 million cash on hand 

  • CO-05: Jeff Crank (R): $300,000 raised, $225,000 cash on hand 

  • IL-17: Eric Sorensen (D-inc): $745,000 raised, $2.1 million cash on hand 

  • MD-06: Joe Vogel (D): $231,000 raised, $235,000 cash on hand 

  • NE-02: Tony Vargas (D): $777,000 raised, $1.6 million cash on hand

  • PA-17: Chris Deluzio (D-inc): $750,000 raised, $1.45 million cash on hand 

  • VA-10: Eileen Filler-Corn (D): $370,000 raised, $430,000 cash on hand 

  • WA-05: Michael Baumgartner (R): $400,000 raised (in one month) 

Senate

 MD-Sen: Attorney General Anthony Brown announced Wednesday that he was supporting Rep. David Trone in the May 14 Democratic primary, a declaration that Trone made public in a campaign ad. Brown is arguably the most prominent Black politician who has opted to support Trone, who is white, over Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, who would be Maryland's first Black senator.

But while most of the state's political establishment is backing Alsobrooks, Brown and Trone are longtime allies. As a member of the House in 2018, Brown endorsed Trone in the primary for a nearby seat, and as Time's Eric Cortellessa reminds us, the wealthy Trone financed ads to help his colleague's successful 2022 bid for attorney general.

MT-Sen: VoteVets has already launched what Politico reports is a $200,000 ad buy focused on a truly bizarre Washington Post story about former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy and a gunshot injury.

The Republican is shown saying, "I have a bullet stuck in this arm still from Afghanistan," before a narrator says Sheehy may have actually been wounded in a parking lot at Glacier National Park. "Sheehy told investigators the bullet in his arm is from a gun falling and firing on a family hiking trip," the voiceover continues. "Come on, Tim, it's one more shady story that doesn't add up."

Governors

 NC-Gov: Quinnipiac University's first look at the race for governor shows Democrat Josh Stein leading Republican Mark Robinson 48-41, with Libertarian Mike Ross and Green Wayne Turner at 4% and 2%, respectively. The omission of those two third-party candidates doesn't make much of a difference, though, as the school shows Stein ahead by a similar 52-44 margin in a head-to-head contest. Respondents favor Donald Trump over Joe Biden 41-38 in a five-person field and 48-46 when only major candidates are included.

This is the largest lead for Stein that we've seen in any poll, and it's also considerably different from what other surveys have shown over the last month. An early March poll from the conservative firm Cygnal showed Robinson up 44-39, while SurveyUSA and Marist College found Stein ahead only 44-42 and 49-47, respectively.

 WV-Gov: Campaign finance reports for the first quarter of the year are now in, and MetroNews has rounded up the numbers for all the major Republicans competing in the May 14 primary for West Virginia's open governorship:

  • Attorney General Patrick Morrisey: $876,000 raised, $1.7 million cash on hand

  • Former Del. Moore Capito: $337,000 raised, $1.1 million cash on hand

  • Businessman Chris Miller: $216,000 raised, additional $50,000 self-funded, $1.2 million cash on hand

  • Secretary of State Mac Warner: $73,000 raised, $193,000 cash on hand

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, who has the Democratic side to himself, raised $18,000 and ended March with $21,000 in the bank.

House

 CA-16: A pair of voters unexpectedly requested a recount on Tuesday, just days after election authorities certified that both Assemblymember Evan Low and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian would advance to an all-Democratic general election with former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. However, it remains to be seen if any recount will actually take place.

Politico explains that California requires anyone who asks for a recount to pay for it before the April 15 deadline. If payment isn't submitted by then, the current results of the March 5 top-two primary that have Low and Simitian tied for second place would stand. (California, unlike many states, does not have automatic recounts no matter how close a race is.)

Election officials in Santa Clara County, which forms 84% of the 16th District by population, say that a 10-day manual recount would cost a total of $320,000. A five-day machine recount would have a considerably smaller $84,200 price tag, but the Mercury News' Grace Hase writes that such a process is less likely to catch any tabulation errors.

San Jose Spotlight's Jana Kadah adds that a manual recount would cost another $85,000 in San Mateo County, which forms the balance of the district. (It's not clear how much a machine recount in San Mateo would be.)

One of the two requesters, former San Mateo County Board of Supervisors candidate Dan Stegink, told Hase he was willing to pay for a recount. Santa Clara County officials also say they don't know if Stegink could split the cost with the other requester, 2020 Biden Delegate Jonathan Padilla.

Low's campaign was quick to highlight that Padilla worked on Liccardo's 2014 bid to lead San Jose to argue that the former mayor was behind the recount request. Low's team also invoked a very different politician in slamming the request. "This is a page right out of Trump’s political playbook using dirty tricks to attack democracy and subvert the will of the voters," the campaign said in a statement.

Liccardo's campaign denied it had asked Padilla to do anything, but a spokesperson didn't sound upset about the development. "We understand why, under these extraordinary circumstances, there would be an effort to make sure these votes are fully considered," said a Liccardo consultant.

Simitian, by contrast, didn't express a preference either for or against a recount. "Eventually, this process will work itself out," he said in a statement.

Hase also obtained an early April Liccardo internal poll from Lake Research Partners that shows him leading Low 26-21, with Simitian at 20%. The story did not include results testing Liccardo in one-on-one matchups.

Kadah previously reported on Monday that another firm, McGuire Research, has been testing Liccardo in various scenarios. There's no word on the results or the client, but the existence of the poll led to speculation that the former mayor or his allies were trying to determine whether he'd benefit if only one of his opponents were to advance―speculation that only intensified when Stegink and Padilla filed their recount requests a day later.

 MD-06: Del. Joe Vogel is airing what appears to be the first negative TV ad of the May 14 Democratic primary for Maryland's open 6th District, and the Washington Post's Katie Shepherd reports he's spending $35,000 to link former Commerce Department official April McClain Delaney to hardline Republicans.

The ad, which Maryland Matters says is Vogel's first television commercial, opens with the candidate declaring that "every Democrat for Congress" has a similar agenda, which is an unusual line for any campaign ad. However, he continues, "The difference is our approach. McClain Delaney donates to extreme Republicans and is friends with Tucker Carlson and Paul Ryan."

The 27-year-old lawmaker goes on, "I come from the school shooting generation, where we know you can’t hope politicians do the right thing. You have to make them." Vogel does not mention any of the other 12 Democratic candidates seeking to replace David Trone, who is running for Senate.

Vogel, writes Shepherd, previously deployed some of these arguments against McClain Delaney at debates. McClain Delaney has countered that her bipartisan friendship with the Ryan family began when her husband, former Rep. John Delaney, and the Wisconsin Republican served together in the House.

Vogel has also faulted McClain Delaney for making a contribution to Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican who was once one of the most prominent ultra-conservatives in the Senate, in 2005. (DeMint resigned in 2013 to lead the Heritage Foundation.) Shepherd says that Delaney responded by shaking her head and "at one point throwing her hands into the air" during the debate, though she did not dispute the donation.

As for Carlson, Vogel's ad cites a 2018 piece from MOCO 360 about John Delaney's longshot White House bid that identified the far-right media personality as a friend of the then-congressman. The story did not touch on McClain Delaney's connection to the former Fox News commentator.

Vogel launched this spot around the same time that he released a mid-March GBAO internal that showed Delaney leading him 17-10, with a 48% plurality undecided. We haven't seen any other polls here all year.

Delaney, for her part, began airing ads a month ago, and she uses her most recent spot to tout herself as someone who will protect children from "Big Tech." Shepard says the only other Democratic candidate who has taken to the airwaves is Ashwani Jain, a former Obama administration official who won just 2% in the 2022 primary for governor.

 MI-03: A super PAC called West Michigan For Change announced Wednesday that it had taken in $1 million to promote attorney Paul Hudson, who is the leading Republican running to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Hillary Scholten. The group, which did not bring in any money last year, did not say where the influx of cash came from.

Joe Biden carried this constituency 53-45 in 2020, and Scholten's 55-42 victory two years later made her the first Democrat to represent a Grand Rapids-based seat in the House since the mid-1970s. Scholten's allies at House Majority PAC don't seem convinced that those decisive wins mean this seat is out of reach for the GOP, however, as the group recently booked $1.3 million in ad time for the Grand Rapids media market.

 NH-02: Businessman Vikram Mansharamani became the first notable Republican to launch a bid to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster on Wednesday, though his last campaign for office was anything but impressive. Mansharamani self-funded about $300,000 last cycle in his bid to take on Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, but he ended up taking a distant fourth place in the primary with less than 8% of the vote.

Mansharamani is also unlikely to be the last Republican to join the September primary. The Union Leader reports that state Rep. Joe Sweeney and 2014 nominee Marilinda Garcia are considering, though there are no quotes from either would-be candidate.

On the Democratic side, Concord Mayor Byron Champlin and businessman Gary Hirshberg this week joined Kuster in endorsing former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern rather than running themselves.

 NJ-10: Democratic Rep. Donald Payne's office said Tuesday evening that he'd "suffered a cardiac episode based on complications from his diabetes during the weekend," but that his "prognosis is good and he is expected to make a full recovery." Payne is seeking reelection this year in New Jersey's safely Democratic 10th District.

 Filing: Candidate filing closed in five more states over the last week: April 4 was the deadline in New York, Tennessee, and Virginia, while the respective deadlines for Oklahoma and North Dakota were April 5 and April 8. We'll have more on each state below.

 New York: While the state publishes a list of candidates who filed to run for Congress in the June 25 primary, it doesn't include all House seats. That's because candidates running for a district contained entirely within either a single county or New York City file with their local election authorities, while everyone else files with the state.

Under the new congressional map, 11 districts (the 5th through the 15th) are located wholly within the city, while the only two single-county seats anywhere else in the state are the 1st District in Suffolk County and the 4th District in Nassau County. Election authorities in those jurisdictions have not released candidate lists yet, though Politics1 has compiled an unofficial roster for each seat.

There are no reports of any big names launching last-second campaigns, which isn't a surprise in a state where getting on the ballot can be a challenge. Most major party congressional candidates were required to hand in 1,250 valid signatures to compete in the primary, though Republicans running in the dark blue 13th and 15th Districts had a smaller target to hit because their party has so few registered voters in those constituencies.

Not everyone who submitted petitions by Thursday will necessarily make the primary ballot, however, because campaigns have long been aggressive about going to court to challenge the validity of their opponent's signatures. One former leader of the Brooklyn Democratic Party expressed a common view of this age-old practice in a 2022 interview with City & State. 

"Fuck them!" Frank Seddio said of anyone who might get knocked off the ballot for a lack of signatures. "Breathing shouldn't be the only qualification for running for office."

 North Dakota: Former Miss America Cara Mund filed to run for North Dakota's only House seat as a Republican about half an hour before the deadline, telling the North Dakota Monitor that there weren't any moderates competing in the June 11 primary. 

Mund, a supporter of abortion rights, ran against GOP Rep. Kelly Armstrong in the 2022 general election as an independent candidate and wound up as his only opponent after the Democratic nominee dropped out. Mund's effort attracted national attention, but Armstrong went on to fend her off by a 62-38 margin in this dark red state. That performance was significantly better than Joe Biden's landslide 65-32 loss two years earlier, but it still fell far short of victory.

The GOP field to succeed Armstrong, who is running for governor, consists of former State Department official Alex Balazs, former state Rep. Rick Becker, Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak, and one minor candidate. Democrats are running Marine Corps veteran Trygve Hammer and perennial candidate Roland Clifford Riemers.

The GOP primary to replace retiring Gov. Doug Burgum, meanwhile, remains a duel between Armstrong and Burgum's choice, Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller, while state Sen. Merrill Piepkorn has the Democratic side to himself.

 Oklahoma: Republican Sen. Markwayne Mullin and each of the five members of Oklahoma's all-Republican House delegation are seeking reelection, and there's no indication any of them have anything to worry about in either the June 18 primary or the November general election. An Aug. 27 runoff would take place in any primary where no one earns a majority of the vote.

 Tennessee: The biggest news in the Volunteer State was Davidson County Metro Councilmember Courtney Johnston's decision to challenge freshman Rep. Andy Ogles in the Aug. 1 Republican primary for the 5th District, a development we covered in a recent Digest. She's not Ogles' only intra-party challenger, though, as cybersecurity executive Tom Guarente is also in

Guarente has attracted relatively little attention, but his presence on the ballot could cost Johnston enough support to allow the incumbent to win with a plurality. (Unlike many Southern states, Tennessee does not use primary runoffs.) The eventual winner will be favored in the general election for a seat that Donald Trump carried 55-43 in 2020.

Over in the dark red 8th District in West Tennessee, GOP Rep. David Kustoff learned last week that he'd once again face a primary battle against radiologist George Flinn, a self-funding perennial candidate who owns a network of radio and TV stations. Flinn, who served on the Shelby County Commission in the 2000s, had already waged several well-funded but doomed campaigns when he entered the 2016 primary to replace retiring Rep. Stephen Fincher in the prior version of the seat.

Flinn's resources were almost enough to propel him to victory in what was a packed race, but Kustoff edged him out 27-23. Flinn tried again two years later, but Trump's support helped Kustoff win an expensive rematch 56-40. Flinn went on to take just 3% in the 2020 Senate primary, secure 2.5% as an independent in the 9th District against Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen, and wage an abortive 2023 bid for mayor of Memphis.

Republican Rep. Tim Burchett, by contrast, found out he'd have no primary opposition in the 2nd District, an East Tennessee constituency that hasn't elected a Democratic representative since 1852. There was talk earlier this year that Kevin McCarthy and his allies would target Burchett, who was one of the eight Republicans who voted to end McCarthy's speakership in October. However, they never found a backup candidate after former state Rep. Jimmy Matlock announced in February that he wouldn't run.

 Virginia: The Virginia Department of Elections says that it will post its list of candidates "on, or shortly after April 15." Primaries will take place on June 18. For the first time in many years, Republicans will rely on state-run primaries to pick all of their candidates, eschewing conventions or party-run "firehouse" primaries. (Democrats, who have almost always preferred traditional primaries, will also use them exclusively.)

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Morning Digest: Nancy Mace may get a new district and an old primary foe

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

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

SC-01: Former state Rep. Katie Arrington tells The Hill that she's considering seeking a GOP primary rematch against South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace, who shocked her colleagues last week when she voted to terminate Kevin McCarthy's speakership. Things could become still more volatile in the Palmetto State, though, because the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments Wednesday for a lawsuit that seeks to strike down Mace's 1st District as a racial gerrymander.

We'll start with Arrington, who told reporter Caroline Vakil that "all options are on the table" for another campaign against an incumbent who is no stranger to making enemies within her own party. Mace, who unseated Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham in 2020, broke with Donald Trump in the days after she was forced to barricade in her office during the Jan. 6 attack, saying, "I hold him accountable for the events that transpired." Although the congresswoman, who was an early 2016 Trump supporter, never backed impeachment and soon stopped trying to pick fights with him, her party's master endorsed Arrington as part of an effort to purge critics.

But while Arrington did all she could to try to frame the primary as a battle between pro-Trump and anti-Trump forces, Mace used her superior financial resources to advance a different narrative. The congresswoman reminded voters that Arrington had denied renomination in 2018 to another Trump critic, then-Rep. Mark Sanford, only to suffer an upset loss against Cunningham. The GOP legislature had already done what it could to make sure that no Republican could lose this coastal South Carolina seat by passing a map that extended Trump's 2020 margin from 52-46 to 54-45, but Mace still argued that Arrington could once again cost the party the general election.

The incumbent prevailed 53-45 before easily winning the general election, but Mace wasn't done refashioning her public image. This summer she became a prominent Trump defender on cable news, and Politico reported he passed on his compliments to the congresswoman he'd previously castigated as a "grandstanding loser." But Mace's biggest moment in the spotlight came last week when she joined Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, whom she'd called "a fraud" earlier this year, and six other Republicans to oust McCarthy.

Observers, including Arrington, were quick to highlight how McCarthy's allies had deployed millions to help Mace in 2020, and the former speaker's backers were also quick to blast the congresswoman's perceived disloyalty. Mace, for her part, argued McCarthy had broken his word to her by refusing to advance her priorities, including a balanced budget amendment and a bill to test more rape kits, and she predicted his backers would seek revenge. "I do need help, because they are coming after me," she said last week to Steve Bannon, the former Trump strategist whom she'd voted to hold in contempt of Congress in 2021.

However, not everyone agrees that Mace will need much help to win renomination in 2024. "When you look at the voting base there, they're not your typical party-line Republican," longtime GOP strategist Dave Wilson told Vakil of the local GOP primary electorate. "They're a little bit more independent in the way that they think." Arrington, though, dismissed Mace's actions as a "political stunt" and predicted that if she doesn't run, "[T]here will be many others." South Carolina requires a primary runoff if no one secures a majority in the first round.

Complicating things further is that no one knows yet just what Mace's district will even look like next year. In January, a federal court ruled that Republican lawmakers intentionally discriminated against Black voters when they redrew Mace's 1st District by packing too many African Americans into the neighboring 6th District. However, it's up to the nation's highest court to decide if the legislature needs to rework the 1st or if the current boundaries will stand.

Even if the Supreme Court strikes down the current map, though, Republicans may still be able to keep their hold on six of the state's seven congressional districts. As we explained in January, the lower court's ruling hinged on the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause rather than the Voting Rights Act; while the latter can require states to draw districts that empower Black voters to elect their chosen candidates, the former has been interpreted to mandate only that map-makers don't let race predominate over other factors without a compelling justification when crafting lines.

For now at least, Mace is behaving like she has more to worry about on her right flank than from Democrats. The congresswoman announced Sunday that she was joining Trump in endorsing Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, an election conspiracy theorist, for speaker. CBS' Margaret Brennan followed up by asking Mace about the accusations from several former Ohio State University wrestlers alleging that Jordan, who was an assistant coach in the 1980s and 90s, knew their team doctor was sexually assaulting them but didn't intervene. "I'm not familiar or aware with that," said Mace. "He's not indicted on anything that I'm aware of. I don't know anything and can't speak to that."

Redistricting

WI Redistricting: On Friday, the new progressive majority on Wisconsin's Supreme Court ruled 4-3 along ideological lines to hear a lawsuit that's challenging the GOP's legislative gerrymanders, setting oral arguments for Nov. 21.

The court's ruling limited its review to only the claims over non-contiguous districts and whether map' adoption by the court's previous conservative majority violated the separation of powers, setting aside the plaintiffs' partisan gerrymandering claim for now because resolving it would require extensive fact-finding. A trial to conduct that fact-finding could have delayed new maps until after the 2024 elections, and the court noted it would become unnecessary if it strikes down the maps over contiguity or the separation of powers anyway.

Earlier on Friday, progressive Justice Janet Protasiewicz rejected the GOP's calls for her to recuse herself because of how she had called the maps "rigged" during her election campaign earlier this year and received campaign funding from the state Democratic Party. Protasiewicz's recusal decision cited a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling where that court's conservative majority overturned a Minnesota law that had barred judicial candidates from declaring their views on legal and political issues, and she noted that the Wisconsin Democratic Party was not involved with the redistricting case.

Nonetheless, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos responded on Monday by claiming precedent by the federal high court "compels her recusal, and the United States Supreme Court will have the last word here," implying the GOP could appeal her recusal decision to the federal court. Vos and his party have repeatedly threatened to impeach Protasiewicz if she didn't recuse in this case, though he notably did not mention that in Monday's statement.

3Q Fundraising

Governors

WA-Gov, WA-03, WA Public Lands Commissioner: The Seattle Times' Jim Brunner reports that former GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler told the conservative group Future 42 on Monday that she'll run for state public lands commissioner rather than for governor or for her old 3rd District. This post, which oversees the Washington Department of Natural Resources, is currently held by Democrat Hilary Franz, who is campaigning for governor next year.

The former congresswoman, who was one of the 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Donald Trump after Jan. 6, lost her seat last year after she came in third against far-right foe Joe Kent in the top-two primary; Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez went on to flip the seat that November. While Politico reported the next month that Herrera Beutler was interested in another House bid, she announced in late January that she'd signed on to become a strategic advisor for the Children's Hospital Association―a decision that some observers believed meant she wouldn't be running for any office in 2024.

Those assumptions were premature, and The Dispatch reported just a month later that Herrera Beutler was thinking about running for governor. However, while she didn't rule out the idea shortly after Democratic incumbent Jay Inslee announced his retirement in May, she never again showed any obvious sign of interest after her former House colleague, Dave Reichert, became the GOP frontrunner in July. We hadn't previously heard Herrera Beutler mentioned for a different statewide office until Brunner reported Monday that she would campaign for public lands commission.

Five Democrats are currently running to replace Franz: state Sens. Rebecca Saldaña and Kevin Van De Wege; former state Sen. Mona Das; King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove; and DNR manager Patrick DePoe. The only Republican who declared before Herrera Beutler was Sue Kuehl Pederson, who lost to Franz 57-43 in 2020.

House

CO-04: Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams on Wednesday told conservative radio host Dan Caplis that he was interested in waging a primary bid against Rep. Ken Buck in an interview that took place the day after Buck became one of the eight Republicans to oust Kevin McCarthy as speaker. Another local GOP elected official, state Rep. Richard Holtorf, formed an exploratory committee last month after the congressman trashed his party's drive to impeach Joe Biden. Buck, for his part, has not committed to running again.

NY-03: Former Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi announced Tuesday morning that he was entering the race to retake the seat still held by indicted GOP Rep. George Santos, and the new contender dispelled any talk that he'd only run if there were a special election by declaring he was filing "to run for Congress in November of 2024." We'll have more on this kickoff in our next Digest.

Judges

PA Supreme Court: The Associated Press writes that Republican Carolyn Carluccio outspent Democrat Dan McCaffery $2.8 million to $900,000 through Sept. 18, though outside groups have also been aiding him in this statewide race. However, it's not quite clear how much other organizations have been spending on the Democrat's behalf: The AP says that Planned Parenthood and Pennsylvanians for Judicial Fairness have deployed "hundreds of thousands more, with more spending coming," while the ACLU and Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee have promised to deploy resources here.

McCaffery ended Sept. 18 with a $1.2 million to $600,000 edge in cash on hand, though Carluccio likely has access to far more money. The story says that she received a total of $2.1 million through that date in donations from Commonwealth Leaders Fund, a group funded by conservative billionaire Jeff Yass. McCaffery, for his part, has benefited from large contributions from unions and trial lawyer organizations.

Mayors and County Leaders

Allegheny County, PA Executive: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Republican Joe Rockey continues to enjoy a huge advertising edge over Democrat Sara Innamorato as he tries to score an upset win next month in this 59-39 Biden county. Rockey has deployed $700,000 on TV ads through Friday promoting him as a moderate and pledging to oppose county tax reassessments. His allies at Save Allegheny County, meanwhile, have thrown down another $480,000; the group has gotten about a quarter of its budget from Commonwealth Leaders Fund, which is largely funded by conservative billionaire Jeff Yass.

Innamorato herself spent $140,000 on the general election, while super PACs have not aired their own ads to aid her. Her opening commercial debuted Oct. 1 and begins by touting her as a candidate who "shares our values" on public safety and reproductive rights. The narrator then goes after Rockey as someone who "bankrolled Trump, supporting extremists, backed Republicans repealing reproductive rights, and said he won't stand up for the right to choose."

Obituaries

Ted Schwinden: Former Montana Gov. Ted Schwinden, a Democrat who served from 1981 to 1989, died Saturday at the age of 98. Schwinden famously kept his number listed in a public phonebook even after he became the state's chief executive and answered callers himself; radio hosts throughout the country also would call him at home without warning and speak to the governor on the air. Schwinden's openness and directness won him many fans: A Republican rancher supposedly said, "I don't agree with Ted, but I trust the son of a bitch!"

Schwinden was elected lieutenant governor on a 1976 ticket led by Tom Judge, which marked the first time that both posts were elected together rather than separately. Schwinden decided to challenge Judge for renomination four years later, though, arguing the two-term governor had "run out of steam." (Montana voters wouldn't approve term limits until 1992.) The challenger won 51-42 and went on to defeat Jack Ramírez, the GOP's leader in the state House, 55-45 even as Ronald Reagan was carrying the state 57-32.

Schwinden, who famously turned down a chance to watch the Super Bowl with Miami Dolphins owner Joe Robbie because it would have conflicted with his planned talk to a Montana high school class, proved to be popular in office and won reelection 70-26 during Reagan's 1984 landslide. Schwinden kept his two-term pledge and retired in 1988, and Republican Stan Stephens' victory over Judge that year ended 20 years of Democratic governors.

Schwinden never again sought office and later moved to Arizona, though he remained a useful sounding board for at least one prominent Montana Democrat. Brian Schweitzer recounted that he spoke to the former governor ahead of his ultimately successful 2004 bid to become the state's first Democratic leader since Schwinden himself left office: "The best advice he gave me was be good with money," Schweitzer told the Billings Gazette. "A Dem that is good with money is unassailable, so that's where I always was."

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Morning Digest: He ranted about ‘European cheese weenies.’ Now he’s running for Congress

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

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

CO-08: Weld County Commissioner Scott James announced Wednesday that he'd seek the Republican nomination to challenge freshman Rep. Yadira Caraveo in Colorado's 8th District, prompting Democrats to immediately blast him for an anti-abortion, Islamophobic rant he delivered as a talk radio host in 2007.

James, as Media Matters documented at the time, declared "the civilization that you know ... will be overtaken by those who would like you to practice Sharia law ... just by mass numbers" because "the European cheese weenies simply aren't breeding." James continued, "You can do the math and see the rapid decline of ... civilization," before saying of the United Kingdom, "Their birth rate declining, the abortion rate increasing. You do the math. You don't have the sanctity for the life like that, your society will simply extinguish."

Democrats also went after James, who remained on the radio after winning his seat on the county commission in 2018, for his vote the next year to designate Weld County as a "Second Amendment sanctuary." That action, which authorized the county sheriff to "exercise of his sound discretion to not enforce against any citizen an unconstitutional firearms law," came in response to a new red flag law that allows family and household members, as well as law enforcement officials, to petition a judge to confiscate firearms from an individual they fear is dangerous. "Taking constitutional rights away from citizens under the guise that it is for the 'greater good' is a very dangerous path to walk down," James said at the time, "and one we do not support."

James launched his campaign to unseat Caraveo hours after fellow Republican Barbara Kirkmeyer, the GOP's nominee last year, announced that she would seek reelection to the state Senate rather than try to avenge her narrow 48.4-47.7 general election loss. The commissioner is the first notable Republican to join the contest for this constituency in the northern Denver suburbs and Greeley area, turf Joe Biden carried 51-46 in 2020, but he's not the only one who is thinking about running here.

State Rep. Gabe Evans reiterated his interest Tuesday to the Colorado Sun, while Weld County Commissioner Steve Moreno and former state Rep. Dan Woog both said they were mulling over the idea last month. Multiple publications also reported in June that Joe O'Dea, who unsuccessfully challenged Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet last year, is considering as well, though he's shown no obvious sign that he's preparing for another run.

Redistricting

NY Redistricting: A divided state appeals court ordered New York's redistricting commission to draw a new congressional map ahead of the 2024 elections on Thursday, overturning a lower court that had previously ruled in favor of retaining the state's current court-drawn boundaries. Republicans opposing the Democratic-backed lawsuit, however, immediately vowed to appeal in an effort to prevent the adoption of districts that would be less favorable to them.

The dispute wound up in court after the evenly divided bipartisan commission failed to reach an agreement on a single set of redistricting plans for Congress and the state legislature last year.  Instead, it forwarded dueling proposals—one batch supported by Democrats, the other by Republicans—to lawmakers, who rejected them both. After that failure, the commission refused to try again, which led the Democratic-run legislature to pass its own maps.

However, the state's highest court struck down that attempt last year in a 4-3 decision, saying that because the commission had never sent a second set of maps to the legislature as contemplated by the state constitution, lawmakers could not act on their own. As a remedy, an upstate trial court instead imposed maps drawn by an outside expert that saw Republicans make considerable gains in the November midterms.

A group of voters, though, filed a suit demanding that the commission be ordered back to work. While a lower court initially rejected that argument, the Appellate Division agreed with the plaintiffs. The commission still "had an indisputable duty under the NY Constitution to submit a second set of maps upon the rejection of its first set," wrote the majority in a 3-2 opinion, concluding that the court-ordered maps used in 2022 were interim in nature.

If New York's highest court, known as the Court of Appeals, upholds this decision, then the commission will again have to try to compromise on a new congressional map. If it again fails to produce an acceptable map, though, Democrats in the legislature—who enjoy two-thirds supermajorities in both chambers—would, this time, very likely be entitled to create new maps of their own design. That possibility could spur Republican commissioners to accept lines that tilt somewhat more in Democrats' favor than the current districts rather than face the alternative of an unfettered partisan gerrymander.

2Q Fundraising

The deadline to file fundraising numbers for federal campaigns is July 15. We'll have our House and Senate fundraising charts available soon afterwards.

  • AZ-Sen: Ruben Gallego (D): $3.1 million raised
  • CA-Sen: Katie Porter (D): $3.2 million raised, $10.4 million cash on hand
  • WV-Sen: Joe Manchin (D-inc): $1.3 million raised, $10.7 million cash on hand
  • LA-Gov: Jeff Landry (R): $4.5 million raised, $9 million cash on hand
  • NC-Gov: Mark Robinson (R): $2.2 million raised (in six months), $3.2 million cash on hand
  • AZ-06: Juan Ciscomani (R-inc): $815,000 raised, $1.6 million cash on hand
  • CA-45: Michelle Steel (R-inc): $1.1 million raised, $1.7 million cash on hand
  • IA-02: Ashley Hinson (R-inc): $690,000 raised, $1 million cash on hand
  • IA-03: Zach Nunn (R-inc): $729,000 raised, $1 million cash on hand
  • IL-17: Eric Sorensen (D-inc): $515,000 raised, $770,000 cash on hand
  • MI-10: John James (R-inc): $1.1 million raised, $1.7 million cash on hand
  • MT-01: Ryan Zinke (R-inc): $786,000 raised, $876,000 cash on hand
  • NC-14: Jeff Jackson (D-inc): $507,000 raised, $663,000 cash on hand
  • NJ-05: Josh Gottheimer (D-inc): $1.2 million raised, $15.1 million cash on hand
  • NJ-07: Tom Kean Jr. (R-inc): $860,000 raised, $1.47 million cash on hand
  • NY-02: Rob Lubin (D): $343,000 raised (in five weeks), additional $7,000 self-funded
  • NY-03: Anna Kaplan (D): $455,000 raised
  • OR-05: Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-inc): $717,000 raised, $1 million cash on hand
  • TX-15: Monica De La Cruz (R-inc): $833,000 raised, $1 million cash on hand
  • WA-03: Joe Kent (R): $245,000 raised, $392,000 cash on hand

Senate

FL-Sen: Politico reports that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the DSCC are trying to recruit former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell to take on GOP incumbent Rick Scott, but another Democrat appears ready to launch his campaign before she makes up her mind.

Navy veteran Phil Ehr, who raised $2 million for his 2020 bid against the nationally infamous Rep. Matt Gaetz in the safely red 1st District, confirms he's interested and will decide in the coming weeks. An unnamed source, though, says that Ehr, who lost to Gaetz 65-34 as Trump was taking the old 1st by a similar 66-32 margin, is planning to get in "soon."

MI-Sen: The Daily Beast's Ursula Perano reports that, while actor Hill Harper says he's lived in Michigan for the last seven years, the new Democratic candidate's residency "may be more complicated." Perano uncovered a 2020 Seattle Times article saying that Harper moved to that city during the first season of production for his show, The Good Doctor, so his son could attend school there. (That season aired in 2017 and 2018.) That same story said that "Harper commutes from Seattle to the show’s set in Vancouver, British Columbia."

Perano also found a pair of websites used to book the actor for speaking engagements, both of which appear to have been in use in recent years: One said that Harper would be traveling from California, where he also owns a condo, while the other said he'd be coming from Seattle. "Hill Harper began spending time in Michigan because of work, but quickly realized the greatest people in the world live in Michigan and decided to move there full time," his campaign told the Daily Beast for the story, "Ever since moving to Michigan in 2016, he’s voted as a Michigander, paid taxes to the state, and runs a small business in Detroit."

Governors

IN-Gov: Howey Politics relays that there are still "rumors" that state Commerce Secretary Brad Chambers is considering seeking the GOP nod to succeed his boss, termed-out Gov. Eric Holcomb and would likely self-fund. There is no other information about Chambers' interest.

MO-Gov: Businessman Mike Hamra, whose eponymous company operates almost 200 restaurants nationwide, tells the St. Louis Business Journal he's "seriously considering" seeking the Democratic nod and will "likely to have a final decision later in the fall." Hamra made his interest known days after state House Minority Leader Crystal Quade launched her own bid to lead what's become a tough state for Democrats.

MS-Gov: Republican incumbent Tate Reeves is airing a transphobic new TV ad where the governor, after praising his daughter for working to earn a soccer scholarship, declares, "Now, political radicals are trying to ruin women's sports, letting biological men get the opportunities meant for women." Reeves, as Mississippi Today notes, signed a 2021 law banning trans athletes from women's sports even though the bill's sponsor acknowledged she didn't know of this happening in the state.

House

AK-AL: Businessman Nick Begich on Thursday became the first notable Republican to announce a campaign against Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola, who twice beat him last year for Alaska's only House seat. But Begich is unlikely to have the top-four primary to himself, especially since many Republicans made it clear last fall that they still harbor a grudge over how he acquitted himself during the final months of longtime Rep. Don Young's life.

Begich, who is the rare Republican member of Alaska's most prominent Democratic family (his grandfather and namesake was Young's immediate predecessor, while his uncle Mark Begich served one term in the U.S. Senate), was initially a Young supporter, and he even co-chaired the congressman's 2020 campaign. But, as the Anchorage Daily News' Iris Samuels reported in April of 2022, Begich spent about a month working in the congressman's office the next year—at Young's invitation—only to launch a bid against Young soon afterward. "It was just such an invasion of our goodwill and the Congressman's goodwill," one unnamed staffer later told Insider's Bryan Metzger, adding, "We were completely hoodwinked and betrayed."    

Young, who'd represented the state in the House since 1973, died before that faceoff could occur, and Begich was one of the 48 candidates who filed to run in a special election that featured America's first-ever top-four primary. But after Begich advanced to the general against former GOP Gov. Sarah Palin and Peltola (a fourth finisher, independent Al Gross, dropped out), it looked likely that one of the two Republicans would prevail in a state Donald Trump took 53-43 in 2020.

Begich and Palin, though, instead went negative on one another while ignoring Peltola (that is, when they weren't smiling in selfies with her), which helped give the Democrat the opening she needed. Begich was only too happy to portray Palin as a disastrous governor who only cared about being a celebrity, while Palin hit back by castigating Begich for supporting his Democratic relatives.

An unscathed Peltola went into ranked-choice tabulations with 40% of first-choice votes, with Palin edging out Begich 31-28 for second. But following the fratricidal GOP campaign, Begich's backers only went for Palin by a 50-29 margin as a crucial 21% didn’t express a preference for either finalist. As a result, Peltola pulled off 51-49 upset.

All three candidates, plus Libertarian Chris Bye, competed again in November for a full two-year term, but things went even worse for the GOP this time. Begich and his allies pointed to data from the Alaska Division of Elections saying that he'd have defeated Peltola 52-48 had he come in second place in the special election to make his case that conservatives should choose him over Palin. But several of Young's former staffers not only endorsed Peltola, who had enjoyed a close relationship with the late congressman for decades, they also vocally aired their grievances against Begich for what they saw as his duplicity.

One particular incensed Young aide was a former communications director, Zack Brown, who posted a picture of Begich's congressional intern badge in a since-deleted tweet. "Begich was planning on primarying Young all along," he wrote. "He used DY & staff to secure inside info." Brown followed up, "According to FEC docs, he claimed campaign expenses BEFORE he came on as an INTERN in Don Young's office. He KNEW he was going to primary Young before he joined our office, but used the Congressman and staff for his own ends anyway. Disgraceful."

Peltola this time almost took a majority of first-choice ballots, scoring 49% of them as Palin once again staggered into second place, beating out Begich 26-23. Peltola then crushed Palin in a 55-45 drubbing after the instant-runoff process was finished. To add insult to injury for Begich, election data showed he would have lost by a slightly larger margin than Palin this time―just under 11 points―had he taken second.

Republicans are likely to make a priority of beating Peltola, who represents the reddest Democratic-held seat in the chamber, but it remains to be seen who else will join Begich in the top-four. The Anchorage Daily News writes that Palin, who rather prematurely named her congressional chief of staff the day after the November election [i]In anticipation of an announcement of victory," hasn't shown any sign she's thinking of trying a third time, though that hardly means she won't surprise everyone like she did when she decided to run last year.

MD-06: Hagerstown Mayor Tekesha Martinez on Wednesday joined the busy primary to succeed her fellow Democrat, Senate candidate David Trone, for a seat based in western Maryland and the northwestern D.C. exurbs. Martinez, who was elected to the city council in 2020, became this northwestern Maryland community's first Black mayor in February after her colleagues appointed her to fill the vacant post. She joins Dels. Lesley Lopez and Joe Vogel, as well as think tank founder Destiny Drake West, in seeking the Democratic nod for this 54-44 Biden constituency.

NJ-07: Former state Sen. Ray Lesniak tells the New Jersey Globe he's "still waiting until this November" before deciding whether to seek the Democratic nod to take on GOP Rep. Tom Kean Jr.

NY-22: New York State United Teachers, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association, has endorsed Democratic state Sen. John Mannion's bid to take on GOP Rep. Brandon Williams. Mannion is a former public school teacher, and City & State says the labor group has enthusiastically backed him in past races.

RI-01: Lincoln Town Councilor Pamela Azar at some point quietly ended her campaign for the Democratic nod and endorsed one of her many former rivals, state Sen. Ana Quezada.

TX-34: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has endorsed former GOP Rep. Mayra Flores in her rematch effort with Democratic incumbent Vicente Gonzalez.

UT-02: State election officials confirmed this week that both former RNC member Bruce Hough and former state Rep. Becky Edwards have turned in enough valid signatures to make the Sept. 5 special Republican primary to succeed outgoing Rep. Chris Stewart. The pair will face Celeste Maloy, a former Stewart aide who qualified for the ballot by winning last month's party convention. The winner will be favored on Nov. 7 against Democratic state Sen. Kathleen Riebe in this gerrymandered 57-40 Trump seat.

WI-03: Both state Rep. Katrina Shankland and former La Crosse County Board chair Tara Johnson tell the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that they're interested in joining the Democratic primary to take on GOP Rep. Derrick Van Orden.

Mayors and County Leaders

Houston, TX Mayor: Former Republican City Councilmember Jack Christie tells the Houston Chronicle he's considering entering the Nov. 7 nonpartisan primary to succeed termed-out Democratic Mayor Sylvester Turner, though he said he was still "far from signing up." Attorney Tony Buzbee, an independent who lost the 2019 runoff to Turner 56-44 after spending $12 million, likewise says he hasn't ruled out another campaign even though he's representing Attorney General Ken Paxton at the Republican's upcoming impeachment trial. The filing deadline is Aug. 21, weeks before Paxton's Sept. 5 trial starts.

Indianapolis, IN Mayor: Democratic incumbent Joe Hogsett has gone on TV well ahead of the Nov. 7 general with a spot hitting his wealthy foe, Republican Jefferson Shreve, that utilizes footage from the ads Shreve ran during his failed 2016 state Senate bid. "Jefferson Shreve will fight for the right to life," says Shreve's old narrator, "and our Second Amendment rights." Indianapolis backed Joe Biden 63-34, but Republicans are hoping Shreve's resources will help him argue that change is needed after Hogsett's two terms.

Nashville, TN Mayor: The Nashville Scene reports that a conservative group called Save Nashville PAC is spending $150,000 on TV ad campaign to help the one notable Republican in the race, party strategist Alice Rolli, advance past the Aug. 3 nonpartisan primary. The messaging, unsurprisingly, invokes the specter of crime in big cities … other big cities, that is. "How many once-great cities around the U.S. are now complete disasters?" asks the narrator, "Is Nashville next? Alice Rolli will protect Nashville and keep it a clean, safe city."

The offensive comes at a time when two wealthy Democrats, former AllianceBernstein executive Jim Gingrich and former economic development chief Matt Wiltshire, continue to dominate the airwaves in the contest to succeed retiring Democratic Mayor John Cooper. AdImpact relays that Gingrich and his allies have outspent Wiltshire's side $1.6 million to $1.2 million in advertising, while Democratic Metro Council member Freddie O'Connell is far back with just $190,000.

A firm called Music City Research, though, has released a survey showing that, despite being heavily outspent, O'Connell leads with 22% as Wiltshire outpaces Rolli 17-13 for the second spot in the likely Sept. 14 runoff. The pollster is affiliated with Harpeth Strategies, which is run by one of O'Connell's supporters, fellow Metro Council member Dave Rosenberg. Rosenberg tells us this poll was conducted for a "private entity and not a mayoral campaign or an organization associated with a mayoral campaign." He added that, as far as he is aware, the sponsor is not backing or opposing anyone.

The last poll we saw was over a month ago, and it showed a far more unsettled race. The Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, working for real estate development group NAIOP Nashville, had O'Connell at 10% as two Democratic members of the state Senate, Jeff Yarbro and Heidi Campbell, respectively took 9% and 8%.

Morning Digest: Why this Nebraska district will host an even bigger barn-burner in ’24

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

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Leading Off

NE-02: Democratic state Sen. Tony Vargas announced Wednesday that he'd seek a rematch against Rep. Don Bacon, the Republican who beat him 51-49 in last year's expensive campaign for Nebraska's 2nd District. Vargas, who is the son of immigrants from Peru, would be the first Latino to represent the Cornhusker State in Congress. He currently faces no serious intra-party opposition as he seeks to avenge his 2022 defeat, and unnamed Democratic sources also the Nebraska Examiner they don't expect that to change.

This constituency, which includes Omaha and several of its suburbs, favored Joe Biden 52-46, but the four-term Republican has been tough to dislodge. Vargas and his allies ran ads last year emphasizing Bacon's supports for a bill banning abortion nationally after 15 weeks, something the congressman tried to pass off as a moderate option. The GOP, meanwhile, hit back with commercials accusing Vargas of voting "to release violent prisoners." Vargas, who favored bipartisan legislation that would have made prisoners eligible for parole after two years instead of halfway through their term, responded by stressing his support for law enforcement, but it wasn't enough.

Bacon's profile has risen nationally since that tight win, and he's emerged as one of Speaker Kevin McCarthy's most outspoken allies. The Nebraskan made news during the speakership vote when he suggested that members of both parties could unite behind one candidate as a "last resort," arguing that such an outcome would be the fault of "six or seven" far-right Republicans. Bacon has continued to denounce his colleagues in the Freedom Caucus, but while he continues to muse, "I'm of the position that at some point we gotta just do coalition government with the Democrats and cut these guys out," he's yet to take any obvious action to actually make that happen.

A few other things will be different for the 2024 cycle. Vargas' Republican colleagues in the officially nonpartisan legislature passed a bill in May banning abortion after 12 weeks. Vargas, who opposed the measure, used his kickoff to emphasize how he'd "work to protect abortion rights" in Congress. But rather than try to downplay the issue, as many other Republicans have, Bacon has responded by claiming that Vargas "wants zero restrictions" on the procedure. (Vargas argued last year that "elected officials like me should be playing absolutely no role" over women's health decisions.)

The presidential election could also complicate things, especially since Nebraska, along with Maine, is one of just two states that awards an electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district. Bacon ran well ahead of the top of the ticket in 2020 and prevailed 51-46 even as Donald Trump was losing the 2nd 52-46 (the presidential numbers were the same under both the old and new congressional maps thanks to GOP gerrymandering), but Democrats are hoping that he'll have a much tougher time winning over ticket-splitters next year.

2Q Fundraising

The second fundraising quarter of the year, covering the period of Apr. 1 through June 30, has come to an end, and federal candidates will have to file campaign finance reports with the FEC by July 15. But as per usual, campaigns with hauls they're eager to tout are leaking numbers early, which we've gathered below.

  • CA-Sen: Adam Schiff (D): $8.1 million raised
  • MD-Sen: Angela Alsobrooks (D): $1.6 million raised (in seven weeks), $1.25 million cash on hand
  • MO-Sen: Lucas Kunce (D): $1.2 million raised
  • PA-Sen: Bob Casey (D-inc): $4 million raised
  • TX-Sen: Colin Allred (D): $6.2 million raised (in two months)
  • WI-Sen: Tammy Baldwin (D-inc): $3.2 million raised
  • CA-47: Scott Baugh (R): $545,000 raised, $1 million cash on hand
  • NY-22: Sarah Klee Hood (D): $319,000 raised (in 10 weeks), $221,000 cash on hand
  • RI-01: Don Carlson (D): $312,000 raised, additional $600,000 self-funded, $750,000 cash on hand
  • TX-32: Julie Johnson (D): $410,000 raised (in 11 days), Brian Williams (D): $360,000 raised (in six weeks)

Ballot Measures

OH Redistricting: The U.S. Supreme Court vacated last year's ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court that struck down the state's congressional map in a brief order issued just before the holiday weekend, directing the Ohio court to reconsider the case in light of the federal Supreme Court's recent decision in a related redistricting case out of North Carolina.

In the North Carolina case, known as Moore v. Harper, the Supreme Court rejected a radical argument by Republican legislators that would have allowed them to gerrymander without limits. Republicans claimed that the U.S. Constitution forbids state courts from placing any curbs on state lawmakers with regard to laws that concern federal elections, including the creation of new congressional maps. The supreme courts in both states had struck down GOP maps as illegal partisan gerrymanders, and in both cases, Republicans responded by asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn those rulings.

The Supreme Court declined to do so in Moore, but a majority of justices in the North Carolina matter did embrace a more limited version of the GOP's argument, saying that "state courts may not transgress the ordinary bounds of judicial review" when assessing state laws that affect federal elections. The U.S. Supreme Court now is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to determine whether it did in fact transgress these bounds in its prior ruling.

The written opinion in Moore, however, declined to provide any guidance whatsoever as to what those bounds might be, or what transgressing them might look like. The Ohio Supreme Court, therefore, faces the awkward task of deciding whether to tattle on itself without really knowing what it might have done wrong. Still, it's hard to see how the court might have run afoul of this standard, even if interpreted loosely. But whatever it decides, the outcome likely won't make any difference.

That's because partisan Republicans took firm control of the state Supreme Court in November after moderate Republican Maureen O'Connor, who had sided with the court's three Democrats to block GOP gerrymanders, retired due to age limits. The new hardline majority would likely have overturned the court's previous rulings rejecting Republican maps regardless of the U.S. Supreme Court's new order. As a consequence, Ohio will likely be able to use the same tilted map next year, or possibly even a more egregiously slanted one, since Republicans recently said they might pass a new map this fall.

Senate

IN-Sen: Egg farmer John Rust, who is reportedly wealthy and could self-fund a bid for office, has filed paperwork to run in next year's GOP primary for Indiana's open Senate seat. Rust, however, has not yet commented publicly, so it's not clear what kind of opening he might see for himself, given that Republican leaders have almost universally rallied behind Rep. Jim Banks' campaign to succeed Sen. Mike Braun.

MI-Sen: Former Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, who previously said "never say never" in regard to a possible bid for Michigan's open Senate seat, is now "seriously weighing" a campaign, according to two unnamed sources cited by Politico's Burgess Everett. A consultant for Rogers, who's been weighing a hopeless campaign for president, also declined to rule out the possibility in a statement.

Meanwhile, Time's Mini Racker reports that John Tuttle, an executive with the New York Stock Exchange, "is likely to enter" the GOP primary, per an anonymous source, and could do so by the middle of this month. In May, NRSC chair Steve Daines praised Tuttle as "a strong potential recruit." Racker's source also says that former Rep. Peter Meijer is "seriously looking" at a campaign but "may wait months" to decide; earlier this year, Meijer would only say "no comment" when the New York Times asked about his interest.

The only noteworthy Republican in the race so far is state Board of Education member Nikki Snyder, though her presence hasn't deterred anyone else. Democrats, by contrast, have largely coalesced around Rep. Elissa Slotkin, though she faces a few opponents, most notably state Board of Education President Pamela Pugh.

MT-Sen: Rep. Ryan Zinke took himself out of the running for the right to take on Democratic Sen. Jon Tester by endorsing former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy for the GOP nomination instead. But while Sheehy is a favorite of D.C. Republicans, he's still likely to have company in the primary in the form of Montana's other congressman, the hard-right Matt Rosendale.

NV-Sen: The Nevada Independent's Gabby Birenbaum flags that Army veteran Sam Brown, who's reportedly a favorite of national Republicans, has a "special announcement" planned for Monday. So far, the only prominent Republican seeking to challenge first-term Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen is notorious election conspiracy theorist Jim Marchant, who came very close to winning last year's race for secretary of state.

OH-Sen: East Carolina University's new poll gives Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown small leads against a trio of Republican foes:

  • 45-44 vs. state Sen. Matt Dolan
  • 44-42 vs. Secretary of State Frank LaRose
  • 46-42 vs. businessman Bernie Moreno

LaRose hasn't announced yet, though he unsubtly tweeted a picture of an FEC statement of organization form dated July 15.

VA-Sen: Navy veteran Hung Cao, who was last year's GOP nominee against Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton, has filed FEC paperwork for what would be a longshot campaign against Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine.

Governors

WA-Gov: Former Rep. Dave Reichert on Friday filed paperwork for a potential campaign for governor, which is the furthest the Republican has ever come to running for statewide office despite flirting with the idea several times during his career. Reichert, a former swing district congressman who is arguably his party's most formidable candidate, has yet to publicly commit to entering the top-two primary.

WV-Gov: 2020 Democratic nominee Ben Salango said Wednesday he's decided not to run to succeed termed-out Gov. Jim Justice, the Republican who beat him 63-30. No serious Democrats have entered the race to lead what has become an inhospitable state for their party especially over the last decade, though Huntington Mayor Steve Williams responded to the news by reaffirming his interest to MetroNews.

"I said at the Juneteenth that I intend to run, but that it won't be official until I intend to file and that wouldn't be until sometime in July or August" said Williams, who runs West Virginia's second-largest state. The mayor didn't commit to anything, adding, "It's never official until it's official."

House

AZ-06: Businessman Jack O'Donnell has quietly ended his month-old campaign for the Democratic nomination, a move the Arizona Republic says he made "without comment." O'Donnell's departure leaves former state Sen. Kirsten Engel without any intra-party opposition as she seeks a rematch against freshman Republican Rep. Juan Ciscomani, who beat her 51-49 last cycle.

CO-08: Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann, who took second in last year's GOP primary, says she won't try again this cycle.

FL-11: While far-right troll Laura Loomer declared early this year that she'd be seeking a GOP primary rematch against veteran Rep. Daniel Webster, whom she held to a shockingly close 51-44 last cycle, she now tells Florida Politics she's still making up her mind about another try. "Right now, my entire focus is the re-nomination and reelection of President Donald J. Trump, and exposing Ron DeSantis for the con man that he is," she said, continuing, "I am preserving all of my options regarding a potential candidacy for U.S. Congress in Florida's 11th district."

Loomer also predicted that if she ran she'd "pulverize" both Webster and former state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, who is the congressman's only notable declared intra-party foe in this conservative seat in the western Orlando suburbs. Sabatini, a hard-right extremist who lost last year's primary for the neighboring 7th District to now-Rep. Cory Mills, says he's raised $205,000 during the first three months in his campaign to replace Webster as the congressman for the gargantuan retirement community of The Villages.

IL-12: Darren Bailey, the far-right former state senator who was the GOP’s nominee for governor of Illinois last year, used a Fourth of July celebration at his family farm to announce that he’d challenge Rep. Mike Bost for renomination. Bost, who confirmed last month that he’d seek a sixth term in downstate Illinois' dark red 12th District, is himself an ardent Trumpist who voted to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the hours after the Jan. 6 attacks.

Bailey did not mention the incumbent in his kickoff or subsequent launch video, preferring instead to praise Trump and denounce “weak-kneed politicians who refuse to stand up and fight.” The also posted a picture on Facebook reading “Hands off my AR” on Tuesday—the first anniversary of the mass shooting in Highland Park. (The Chicago Tribune reminds us that last year, before the gunman was even caught, Bailey urged his followers to “move on and let’s celebrate — celebrate the independence of this nation.”)

The NRCC wasted no time making it clear that it was firmly in Bost's corner and previewed some of the material it might use. “Darren Bailey moved to a downtown Chicago penthouse to get blown out by JB Pritzker, now he’s back seeking another political promotion,” said in a statement. Bailey, who filed a 2019 bill to kick Chicago out of Illinois, sought to explain why he’d taken up residence in the Windy City last year. “You can’t deny there’s problems here," he argued. "And if we keep denying these problems, the problems are going to get worse.”

Just a day after 55-42 drubbing by Pritzker, the Tribune reported that Bost’s allies were worried the senator would turn around and take on the congressman—and they may have good reason to fret that he could put up a fight. According to an estimate from OurCampaigns, Bailey ran slightly ahead of Trump's 71-28 performance in the 12th District, carrying it 73-25 last year. Bost, though, also bested Trump's showing, winning his own race 75-25.

Trump has lent his support to both men in the past, so there's no telling whether he'll take sides this time. Just ahead of last year's primary, he endorsed Bailey—much to the delight of Democrats, who spent a fortune to help him win the nod in the ultimately correct belief he'd prove a weak opponent for Pritzker. Trump also headlined a rally for Bost in 2018, when the congressman was in the midst of a tough reelection battle. (Democrats later redrew the 12th District to make it much redder by packing in as many Republican voters as possible.)

MD-06: State House Minority Leader Jason Buckel tells Maryland Matters' Josh Kurtz that, while he's still considering a bid for the GOP nod, he's postponing his decision from late July to late August.

Former Del. Dan Cox, the election denier who cost the GOP any chance it had to hold Maryland's governorship last year, also says he remains undecided, but he adds that he had nothing to do with a "Dan Cox for U.S. Congress" FEC committee that was set up Monday. "I'd like to know who did this," Cox said of the committee, which ceased to exist the following day.

MI-07: Former state Sen. Curtis Hertel on Wednesday filed FEC paperwork for his long-anticipated campaign for this competitive open seat, a development that came days after the Democrat stepped down as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's director of legislative affairs.

NJ-07, NJ-Sen: Roselle Park Mayor Joseph Signorello told the New Jersey Globe Monday that he's decided to end his longshot Democratic primary bid against Sen. Robert Menendez and instead challenge freshman GOP Rep. Tom Kean Jr. Signorello's entire 14,000-person community is located in Democratic Rep. Donald Payne's 10th District, but the mayor previously said he lives "five minutes away" from Kean's constituency.

The only other notable Democrat campaigning for the 7th is Working Families Party state director Sue Altman, who says she raised $200,000 during her first month in the primary. Former state Sen. Ray Lesniak has talked about getting in as well, while the Globe reported last week that former State Department official Jason Blazakis is also considering joining the race.

NY-17: Former Rep. Mondaire Jones announced on Wednesday that he'd seek the Democratic nomination to take on freshman Republican Rep. Mike Lawler in New York's 17th District, a lower Hudson Valley constituency that Joe Biden carried 54-44 in 2020. Jones, who unsuccessfully ran in New York City last year because of a strange set of redistricting-induced circumstances, used his intro video to emphasize his local roots in Rockland County and record securing funds for the area during his one term in D.C.

Before Jones can focus on reclaiming this seat, though, he has to get through what could be an expensive primary against local school board member Liz Gereghty, the sister of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Gereghty, who launched her campaign in mid-May, announced this week that she'd raised $400,000 though the end of last month. The field also includes former Bedford Town Supervisor MaryAnn Carr, but it remains to be seen if she'll have the resources to run a strong campaign.

In the 2020 election cycle, Jones sought what was, at the time, a safely blue seat held by Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey. Lowey, however, retired soon after Jones launched his campaign, and he won a competitive, multi-way battle for the Democratic nomination. Jones made history with his comfortable victory that fall by becoming the first openly gay black member of Congress, a distinction he shared with fellow New York Democrat Ritchie Torres. (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.)

Two years later, Jones seemed to be on track for another easy win, but everything changed after New York's highest court rejected state's new Democratic-drawn congressional map and substituted in its own lines. Fellow Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who represented a neighboring district and also chaired the DCCC, infuriated Jones and many local Democrats when he decided to seek reelection in the 17th District rather than defend the 18th, a slightly more competitive seat that included the bulk of his current constituents.

Jones decided to avoid a primary by campaigning for the open 10th District, an open seat based in Brooklyn and lower Manhattan that was far from his home turf, though he offered an explanation for his change of venue. "This is the birthplace of the LGBTQ+ rights movement," he tweeted, "Since long before the Stonewall Uprising, queer people of color have sought refuge within its borders."

But while Jones enjoyed the support of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he had a tough time in a primary dominated by politicians with far stronger ties to New York City. Former federal prosecutor Dan Goldman, a self-funder who served as House Democrats' lead counsel during Donald Trump's first impeachment, massively outspent the rest of the field and secured the influential support of the New York Times. Goldman ultimately beat Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou in a 25-24 squeaker, while Jones finished third with 18%.

Maloney, for his part, acknowledged months before his own general election that "there are a lot of strong feelings" among Democrats who felt he'd sent Jones packing. "I think I could've handled it better," he admitted. He'd soon have more reasons for regret: One local progressive leader would recount to Slate that volunteers canvassing for Maloney would be asked, "Isn't he the guy that pushed Mondaire out of this district?" Maloney ended up losing to Lawler 50.3-49.7 at the same time that Republican Lee Zeldin was beating Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul 52-48 in the 17th, according to Bloomberg's Greg Giroux. (Ironically, Democrat Pat Ryan held the 18th District that Maloney left behind.)

Jones soon made it clear that he was interested in returning to his home base to challenge Lawler, saying in December, "I've also learned my lesson, and that is home for me is in the Hudson Valley." (The Daily Beast reported in February that Jones hadn't ruled out waging a primary against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, but there was little indication he'd ever seriously considered the idea.)

The once and perhaps future congressman continues to express strong feelings about how the midterm elections went down. "I never imagined that I would wake up one day and would have to decide against primarying a member of the Democratic Party at a time when we were seeing an assault on our democracy," he told News12 Westchester on Wednesday. "To that extent, yeah, I do regret not being the Democratic nominee last cycle."

Gereghty's team, though, made it clear they'd use his campaign in New York City against him. "Liz Whitmer Gereghty has lived in the Hudson Valley for 20 years," her campaign said in a statement, "and the reason you'll never see her moving to Brooklyn to chase a congressional seat is because the only place and only people she wants to represent are right here in the Hudson Valley."

RI-01: Candidate filing closed Friday for the special election to succeed former Rep. David Cicilline, and 22 of his fellow Democrats are campaigning for this 64-35 Biden constituency. The notable candidates competing in the Sept. 5 Democratic primary appear to be (deep breath):

  • State Rep. Marvin Abney
  • former Biden administration official Gabe Amo
  • former state official Nick Autiello
  • Lincoln Town Councilor Pamela Azar
  • Navy veteran Walter Berbrick
  • State Sen. Sandra Cano
  • Businessman Don Carlson
  • State Rep. Stephen Casey
  • Providence City Councilman John Goncalves
  • Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos
  • Narragansett Aboriginal Nation tribal elder Bella Machado Noka
  • State Sen. Ana Quezada
  • former state Rep. Aaron Regunberg

The field isn't quite set, though, because candidates still need to turn in 500 valid signatures by July 14. The general election will be Nov. 7.

VA-02: Navy veteran Missy Cotter Smasal, reports Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin, is "moving toward" challenging freshman Republican Rep. Jen Kiggans in a competitive seat where Democrats are awaiting their first serious contender. Cotter Smasal previously lost an expensive race for the state Senate 52-48 against GOP state Sen. Bill DeSteph. (Donald Trump had carried that constituency 51-43 in 2016, though Joe Biden would take it 50-48 the year after Cotter Smasal's defeat.)

The current version of the 2nd Congressional District, which includes all of Virginia Beach and other Hampton Roads communities, also supported Biden 50-48. Kiggans last year went on to unseat Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria 52-48, and while Luria went on to form a PAC to help her party in this fall's state legislature contests, Rubashkin says she's "unlikely" to seek a rematch.

Ballot Measures

NY Ballot: New York could join the ranks of states whose constitutions protect the right to an abortion next year when voters decide whether to approve a far-reaching amendment placed on the ballot by lawmakers.

The amendment, which the legislature passed for the required second time in January, would outlaw discrimination based on a wide variety of factors, including race, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, religion, and sex. Under "sex," the measure further adds several more categories, including sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as "pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes, and reproductive healthcare and autonomy."

It is that last grouping that proponents say will protect abortion rights, though the amendment doesn't actually reference the word "abortion" anywhere. State law expert Quinn Yeargain expressed concern about that omission in an essay earlier this year. While noting that the amendment "encompasses a number of really good ideas" that would put New York at the vanguard of prohibiting a number of types of discrimination, he opined that it "leaves a lot to be desired" if it's to be regarded as "an abortion-rights amendment."

Yeargain contrasted New York's approach with a much more explicit amendment that will appear on the Maryland ballot next year. That amendment guarantees "the fundamental right to reproductive freedom, including but not limited to the ability to make and effectuate decisions to prevent, continue, or end one's own pregnancy." Regarding the New York amendment, Yeargain concluded that if he lived in the state, "I'd enthusiastically vote for this measure next year—but I wouldn't do so with the assumption that it'll constitutionalize abortion rights."

OH Ballot: Activists seeking to enshrine abortion rights into the Ohio constitution submitted 710,000 signatures on Wednesday to place an amendment on the November ballot, far more than the 413,000 required by law. That figure gives organizers a sizable cushion should any petitions get thrown out after state officials review them, but a much more serious hurdle looms: Next month, voters will decide on a separate amendment approved by Republican lawmakers that would raise the threshold for passage for any future amendments from a simple majority to 60%.

Republicans have been explicit in explaining why they're pushing their measure. "This is 100% about keeping a radical, pro-abortion amendment out of our constitution," Secretary of State Frank LaRose said at an event in May, according to video obtained by News 5 Cleveland. "The left wants to jam it in there this coming November." A broad array of organizations are opposing the GOP amendment, which will go before voters in an Aug. 8 special election.

Morning Digest: Anti-machine activist could be top contender for key New Jersey House race

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.

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Leading Off

NJ-07: Former Rep. Tom Malinowski told the New Jersey Globe's David Wildstein on Tuesday that he won't run to regain his old House seat from Republican Rep. Tom Kean Jr., but another well-connected figure may be interested in campaigning for North Jersey's 7th Congressional District.

Wildstein reported in March that Sue Altman, who runs the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, was considering seeking the Democratic nod for this competitive district, which Joe Biden took by a narrow 51-47 spread, and he now writes she "could emerge as a leading candidate" with Malinowski taking his name out of contention. Altman is a one-time Republican who emerged as a prominent force in state politics by challenging the power of longtime party boss George Norcross. (Her organization is the state affiliate of the national Working Families Party, which usually backs progressive Democrats rather than run its own general election candidates.)

Altman, Politico wrote last year, has been a crucial backer of Gov. Phil Murphy, especially during his first term when he worked to pass his agenda over Norcross supporters in the legislature. She doesn't appear to have publicly expressed interest in taking on Kean, though she drew attention last month by organizing a protest against the congressman for failing to hold a single in-person town meeting.

It's quite possible that others will also consider running for the 7th, which is based in the southwestern New York City suburbs and exurbs, now that they know they won't face Malinowski. Few names, however, have emerged so far. Former state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, who would be 78 on Election Day, didn't rule out the idea in February, but we haven't heard anything from him since. Wildstein, meanwhile, says three other Democrats have decided not to run: Assemblyman Roy Freiman; former Treasury official Jim Johnson; and Matt Klapper, the chief of staff to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Anyone who wants to defeat Kean in the 7th District, which is entirely located in the ultra-expensive New York City media market, will be in for a difficult battle, but it's one Democrats will want to engage in after the Republican's surprisingly underwhelming win last year. Kean, who is the son and namesake of the popular former governor from the 1980s, first challenged Malinowski in 2020 under the old map and held him to a 51-49 victory even as Biden was prevailing here 54-44.

Kean quickly made it clear he would run again after that close loss, while the incumbent's standing took a hit after news broke that he'd failed to disclose millions in stock trades during the beginning of the pandemic. Malinowski's broker claimed the trades were made without the congressman's "input or prior knowledge," but that did little to quiet intra-party fears that his political career would soon come to an end.

Malinowski's future only grew more dire when his own party decided to target him in redistricting. New Jersey Democrats preferred to sacrifice one of their own to ensure the rest of the state's delegation could enjoy friendlier districts, and it was Malinowski who drew the short straw: Democratic power brokers convinced the state's bipartisan redistricting commission to adopt a map that slashed Biden's margin of victory in the 7th from 10 points to just 4 while shoring up vulnerable members elsewhere.

Malinowski decided to run again anyway despite all the obstacles arrayed against him, but while he received some help from national Democrats, they did not make his contest a priority: Though the two largest outside groups on the GOP side ended up deploying $5.7 million to help Kean, their counterparts on the left spent just $1.4 million.

The intense Democratic pessimism may, however, have turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy: Kean, who had been expected to walk over Malinowski, prevailed by just a 51-49 margin. While a win is a win, Kean's squeaker—despite everything else seemingly going his way—will likely ensure that Democrats take a much bigger interest in this race in 2024.

The Downballot

How can Democrats win the messaging war? It turns out there's actually a science to it, as strategic communications consultant Anat Shenker-Osorio tells us on this week's episode of "The Downballot." Shenker-Osorio explains how her research shows the importance of treating voters as protagonists; how Democrats can avoid ceding "freedom" to Republicans by emphasizing "freedoms," plural; and why it actually makes sense to call out "MAGA Republicans" (even though, yes, it's all Republicans).

Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also break down a major retirement in Delaware, which paves the way for the state to elect its first Black senator, and discuss how the entrance of a prominent candidate in Michigan's Senate race likely means that Democrats will in fact host a genuinely contested primary. It all adds up to the possibility that more Black women will join the Senate in 2025 alone than in all of American history. Finally, the Davids lay out the five-year plan for Democrats to win back the North Carolina Supreme Court and drive a stake into GOP gerrymandering—again.

Subscribe to "The Downballot" on Apple Podcasts to make sure you never miss a show—new episodes every Thursday! You'll find a transcript of this week's episode right here by noon Eastern Time.

Senate

CA-Sen: Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee has released an internal of next year’s top-two primary from a trio of firms―FM3, EVITARUS, and HIT Strategies―that shows her deep in fourth place before respondents learn more about her:

  • 2022 attorney general candidate Eric Early (R): 27
  • Rep. Katie Porter (D): 24
  • Rep. Adam Schiff (D): 21
  • Rep. Barbara Lee (D): 11

The memo argues that Lee’s deficit comes from her relatively low name recognition, and it shows her doing better once positive bios are read about all three Democrats. (The text of those statements is included.)

This is the very first poll we've seen testing a field that includes Early, who grabs one of the two general election spots here. However, Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin notes that Early almost certainly won't be the only Republican on next year's ballot (ten Republicans ran in last year's top-two for California's other Senate seat) and thus won't be able to monopolize the GOP vote the way he does here.  

MT-Sen: While Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke still hasn't quite closed the door on running against Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, he sounded unlikely to go for it in a recent interview with the Flathead Beacon. The congressman instead talked up retired Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy, whom NRSC chair Steve Daines is trying to land.

"We're looking at the [potential] field," Zinke added, "but honest to God I am also concentrated on Appropriations, because I was elected to this job and [it] needs full attention." After citing his other committee assignments, he also declared that "as far as Montana goes I'm in a good position to make sure our interests in the state are well served."

TX-Sen: UT Tyler finds Republican incumbent Ted Cruz leading Democratic Rep. Colin Allred 42-37 in the very first poll we've seen testing this matchup. Allred is currently the only serious Democrat running, though state Sen. Roland Gutierrez reportedly is preparing to jump in after the legislative session ends May 29.

House

AZ-01: Former TV news anchor Marlene Galan Woods on Wednesday joined the busy Democratic primary to take on Republican Rep. David Schweikert for a seat in the Phoenix area that Biden narrowly carried. Woods is the widow of Grant Woods, who served as Arizona's Republican attorney general in the 1990s, and she also identified as a "lifelong Republican" before joining the Democrats during the Trump era. The new candidate, who identified herself as a "moderate" in January, herself hasn't run for office before, though she chaired Democrat Adrian Fontes' victorious campaign for secretary of state last year.

Woods is competing in a crowded nomination contest where there's no obvious early frontrunner. The field includes businessman Andrei Cherny; orthodontist Andrew Horne; former Arizona regional Red Cross CEO Kurt Kroemer; and state Rep. Amish Shah.

AZ-06: Businessman Jack O'Donnell, a former Trump casino executive who has spent decades denouncing his former boss, on Wednesday declared he'd seek the Democratic nod to take on freshman Republican Rep. Juan Ciscomani. He joins a primary that includes 2022 nominee Kirsten Engel, who lost to Ciscomani 51-49 two years after Biden carried this Tucson area constituency by a bare 49.3-49.2.

O'Donnell back in 1987 became a vice president of Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey, an experience he followed up four years later with a book titled "Trumped! The Inside Story of the Real Donald Trump—His Cunning Rise and Spectacular Fall." O'Donnell went on to lead a development company and work in what azcentral.com characterizes as the "addiction-recovery industry," but most of his national exposure came during the 2016 election when he made several TV appearances talking about his time with Trump. "When he used the word Mexicans and rapists, together, I went, this is his bigotry at its finest," he told "Frontline" in one interview, "This is really Donald Trump. Because in 26 years, it hasn't changed."

O'Donnell launched his bid by pitching himself as a centrist, arguing, "I think if we continue—and the Democrats can be just as guilty as the Republicans—if you continue to elect people who are far right and far left, it will continue to be more polarized than what it is today." The candidate, by contrast, said, "I really do feel like I am somebody that is in the middle."

CA-14: The House Ethics Committee on Monday informed Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell that it had closed its two-year probe into allegations that he had ties to a person suspected of being a spy for China and would not take any action. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy cited the allegations earlier this year when he prevented Swalwell, who had served as a manager during Donald Trump's first impeachment, from serving on the House Intelligence Committee.

"Nearly 10 years ago I assisted the FBI in their counterintelligence investigation of a campaign volunteer," the congressman said in statement Tuesday, which he followed up with a tweet declaring, "For years MAGA GOP has falsely smeared me to silence me."

CA-40: Allyson Damikolas, who serves as a trustee on the Tustin Unified School District, announced Wednesday she'd campaign as a Democrat in next year's top-two primary against Republican Rep. Young Kim. Biden carried this constituency in eastern Orange County 50-48, but it's remained friendly to Republicans like Kim down the ballot. Damikolas is the first notable candidate to challenge Kim this cycle, though retired Orange County Fire Capt. Joe Kerr filed FEC paperwork weeks ago.

Conservatives last year tried to recall Damikolas and two of her colleagues for ostensibly promoting critical race theory. Damikolas responded, "The racial subtext seemed obvious given that I'm only the second school board member of Hispanic heritage elected to the Tustin school board in our 50-year history." While the head of the county GOP issued an apocalyptic warning that a failed recall "will only embolden the uber-left," no one turned in signatures to force a vote against any of the three members before the deadline passed.

NY-02: Businessman Rob Lubin declared Tuesday that he'd seek the Democratic nomination to face GOP Rep. Andrew Garbarino, and he said the next day that he'd brought in $220,000 during the first 24 hours of the campaign. Lubin's team tells us that only $6,600 of this came from the candidate, who is the founder of a company he describes as "an industry-leading online marketplace for fashion and apparel."

Donald Trump carried this constituency, which includes the south shore of Suffolk County, just 50-49, but this is another Long Island district where Democrats badly struggled last year. Republican Lee Zeldin, who represented a portion of this seat under the last map, beat Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul here in a 61-39 landslide, according to Bloomberg's Greg Giroux, while Garbarino won his second term by that very same margin.

OH-09: Former state Rep. Craig Riedel has once again earned the backing of 4th District Rep. Jim Jordan, the prominent far-right extremist who represents a seat to the south, in the GOP contest to take on Democratic incumbent Marcy Kaptur, though that endorsement proved to be of limited value last time. Riedel ran commercials during his 2022 effort touting Jordan's support, but primary voters ultimately favored QAnon ally J.R. Majewski 36-31. Majewski, despite his disastrous general election campaign, is once again competing with Riedel for the right to take on Kaptur.

International

Alberta: One of the most compelling elections this year is taking place on Monday in our neighbor to the north. Though Alberta is a contender for the title of Canada's most conservative province, polls show the center-left New Democratic Party could dethrone the governing United Conservative Party in the race for the province's Legislative Assembly.

  • An eight-decade conservative reign: From 1935 until 2015, right-of-center parties ran Alberta without a break. That finally ended when a far-right splinter party split the vote with the incumbents, allowing the NDP to score a historic victory, but after conservatives reunited under the UCP banner, they easily reclaimed power in 2019.
  • Sound familiar? This time, there's no disunity on the right thanks to the UCP's new leader, an extremist, media-savvy demagogue with a penchant for conspiracy theories that have alienated moderate suburban voters. The UCP's rightward march is a key reason the election is as close as it is.
  • The critical races: As in the race for any state legislature in the U.S., Canadian elections are decided on a district-by-district basis. The key battleground is Alberta's largest city, Calgary, where conservatives have kept a stubborn grip despite the city's growing diversity. The NDP will need to make inroads here if it's to flip enough seats for a majority.

Will the NDP do it? Read more about how this contest has taken shape and find a list of key districts to watch on election night.

Morning Digest: These departing House members are already mulling comeback bids for 2024

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

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

House: Several outgoing House members from each party are showing at least some openness in trying to return to the lower chamber or run for a different office, though some soon-to-be-former representatives have already closed the door on a comeback. We'll start with a look at the Democrats and Michigan Rep. Andy Levin, who isn't dismissing talk about challenging Republican Rep.-elect John James in the 10th District.

"I'm definitely not shutting the door to running for office again, whether for Congress or something else," Levin told Politico's Ally Mutnick. This year the congressman turned down his party's pleas to run in the 10th, a suburban Detroit seat that Trump took by a tiny 50-49 margin and where Levin already represented two-thirds of the residents, and instead campaigned for the safely blue 11th. That was a bad decision for both him and for national Democrats: Levin ended up losing his primary to fellow Rep. Haley Stevens 60-40, while James beat Democrat Carl Marlinga just 48.8-48.3 a few months later in a race that Democratic outside groups spent nothing on.

Mutnick also relays that unnamed Democrats are urging New York Rep. Tom Suozzi to challenge Republican Rep.-elect George Santos in the 3rd District. There's no word, though, if Suozzi is interested in trying to regain the constituency he gave up to wage a disastrous primary bid against Gov. Kathy Hochul. While Biden prevailed 54-45 here, the GOP's strong performance on Long Island last month helped power Santos, who lost to Suozzi in 2020 and later attended the Jan. 6 Trump rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, to a 54-46 win over Democrat Robert Zimmerman.

Another outgoing New York congressman, Mondaire Jones, also responded to questions about his future by telling Bloomberg, "I'm not closing the door to anything, other than doing nothing, these next two years … I'm always going to be fighting for the communities that I represent, even if I'm not formally their elected in the United States Congress these next two years."

Jones, though, did not elaborate on if he has a specific office in mind or where he'd run. Jones, who represents the Hudson Valley, decided to run in New York City in order to avoid a primary against DCCC Chair Sean Patrick Maloney: Jones ended up taking third place in the 10th District primary won by Dan Goldman, while Maloney lost his general election to Republican Mike Lawler.

But New Jersey Rep. Albio Sires, who was not on the ballot anywhere this year, has made it clear he wants to run for a very different sort of office in May 2023. While Sires says he won't make an announcement until his term ends in early January, the congressman has said he's looking at a bid for mayor of West New York, which is the job he held from 1995 until he joined Congress in 2006; the New Jersey Globe reports that he'll enter the contest sometime next month.

However, there's no direct vote at the ballot box to determine who gets to succeed retiring Mayor Gabriel Rodriguez, a fellow Democrat who will likely campaign for the state Assembly next year, as leader of this 52,000-person community. Candidates will instead run on one nonpartisan ballot for a spot on the five-person Town Commission, and the winners will select one of their members for mayor. Anyone who wants the top job, though, will lead a slate of allied commission candidates, something that Commissioner Cosmo Cirillo has already put together.

We've also previously written about a few other departing House Democrats who may run for something in 2024. New Jersey Rep. Tom Malinowski hasn't ruled out another campaign against GOP Rep.-elect Tom Kean Jr. in the 7th, while retiring Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy likewise hasn't dismissed talk she could take on Republican Sen. Rick Scott. There's also been some chatter that Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb, who lost his primary for Senate, could campaign for attorney general, though he hasn't said anything publicly about the idea.

There is one Democrat who has already closed the door on a comeback, though. Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader, who refused to back Jamie McLeod-Skinner after she beat him in their primary, dismissed talk he could go up against GOP Rep.-elect Lori Chavez-DeRemer by telling Mutnick, "I've been there, done that—time for a young American to step up." Characteristically, the Blue Dog Democrat added, "It can't be a far-lefty. It has to be someone that cares about rural America."

We'll turn to the Republicans, where another Michigan congressman is keeping his options open after a primary defeat. When Politico asked if he was thinking about trying to regain the 3rd District, Rep. Peter Meijer responded, "I'm thinking about a lot of things." Meijer narrowly lost renomination to far-right foe John Gibbs after voting to impeach Donald Trump, while Democrat Hillary Scholten went on to defeat Gibbs in the fall.

Mutnick writes that another pro-impeachment Republican whom the base rejected, Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, is also considering a bid to get back her own 3rd District against Democratic Rep.-elect Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez. Extremist Joe Kent kept Herrera Beutler from advancing past the top-two primary, but he failed to defend the constituency against Gluesenkamp Pérez.

One member who could run for local office in 2023 is New York Rep. Chris Jacobs, a Republican who in October didn't rule out the idea that he could challenge Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, a Democrat, in next year's general election. Jacobs instead put out a statement saying he would "always give serious consideration to any opportunity to serve" the Buffalo area. The congressman decided not to seek a second full term to avoid a tough primary over his newfound support for an assault weapons ban and related gun safety measures in the wake of recent mass shootings, including one in Buffalo.

There are also a few other outgoing Republicans who previously have been talked about as contenders in 2024. The most serious appears to be New Mexico's Yvette Herrell, who filed new paperwork with the FEC for a potential rematch against Democrat Rep.-elect Gabe Vasquez; Herrell soon told supporters she was considering, though she didn't commit to anything.

Retiring Indiana Rep. Trey Hollingsworth also hasn't ruled out a Senate or gubernatorial bid, though Sen. Mike Braun was recently overheard saying that Hollingsworth would instead support him for governor. (See our IN-Gov item.) There's been some speculation as well that Lee Zeldin, who was the GOP's nominee for governor of New York, could run next year for Suffolk County executive, though Zeldin hasn't shown any obvious interest.

One person we won't be seeing more of, however, is Ohio Rep. Steve Chabot. While Chabot regained his seat in 2010 two years after losing re-election to Democrat Steve Driehaus, the congressman told Spectrum News last week that he wouldn't try the same maneuver against Democratic Rep.-elect Greg Landsman. "I was 26-years-old when I first ran for Cincinnati City Council. When this term ends in January, I'll be turning 70 in January," Chabot explained, adding, "Twenty-six to 70, that's long enough. It's somebody else's turn."

The Downballot

What better way to wrap up the year than by previewing the biggest contests of 2023 on this week's episode of The Downballot? Progressives will want to focus on a Jan. 10 special election for the Virginia state Senate that would allow them to expand their skinny majority; the April 4 battle for the Wisconsin Supreme Court that could let progressives take control from conservatives; Chicago's mayoral race; gubernatorial contests in Kentucky and Louisiana; and much, much more.

Of course, we might've thought we were done with 2022 after Georgia, but Kyrsten Sinema decided to make herself the center of attention again. However, co-hosts David Nir and David Beard explain why there's much less than meets the eye to her decision to become an independent: She can't take away the Democratic majority in the Senate, and her chances at winning re-election are really poor. In fact, there's good reason to believe she'd hurt Republicans more in a three-way race. The Davids also discuss the upcoming special election for Virginia's dark blue 4th Congressional District, where the key battle for the Democratic nomination will take place in less than a week.

Thank you to all our listeners for supporting The Downballot in our inaugural year. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts to make sure you never miss a show, and you'll find a transcript of this week's episode right here by noon Eastern Time. We'll be taking a break for the holidays, but we'll be back on Jan. 5 with a brand new episode.

Governors

IN-Gov: While retiring Rep. Trey Hollingsworth has hinted that he's interested in campaigning for governor, one would-be Republican primary rival is going around saying he'll instead have the congressman's support. Politico's Adam Wren overheard Sen. Mike Braun on Tuesday night telling other Hoosier State notables, "Trey is gonna support me. I had a conversation with him first." While there's also been talk that Hollingsworth could run for the Senate, Braun also said he might give him a place in his administration should he win.  

KY-Gov: The biggest question looming over next year's Republican primary is whether former Gov. Matt Bevin gets in before filing closes on Jan. 6, and at least one would-be rival believes the answer will be yes. State Auditor Mike Harmon, who was the first notable candidate to launch a bid against Democratic incumbent Andy Beshear, tells the Lexington Herald Leader he's 90-to-95% sure Bevin runs, explaining, "Multiple times I've heard people say he's polling."

Harmon continued, "I can't say for sure 'oh, yes, he's getting in.' But I've had some conversations with different people and it's my belief he's going to." We could be in suspense for a while longer: Bevin in 2015 launched his ultimately successful bid on the very last day possible, and he only kicked off his failed 2019 re-election campaign days before the deadline.

If Bevin does dive in, he would be joining a crowded contest where it takes just a simple plurality to win the nomination. There's no obvious frontrunner, but there are arguably two candidates who may qualify for that distinction: Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who has Donald Trump's endorsement, and self-funder Kelly Craft, who is Trump's former ambassador to the United Nations. In addition to Harmon the field also includes state Rep. Savannah Maddox, who is an ally of Rep. Thomas Massie; state Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles; and Somerset Mayor Alan Keck.

There was some speculation that the legislature could pass a bill to require primary candidates win at least 40% to avoid a runoff, which was the law until 2008, but key lawmakers tell the Herald Leader there's no real energy behind this idea. "We did not talk about it at the (House GOP caucus) retreat, and I'm the chairman of [the] elections committee," said state Rep. Kevin Bratcher.

LA-Gov: Attorney General Jeff Landry on Wednesday unveiled an endorsement from Rep. Clay Higgins, a fellow far-right politician with a base in Acadiana, for next year's all-party primary. Higgins is the first member of the state's congressional delegation to take sides as everyone waits to see if another Republican, Sen. John Kennedy, enters the contest next month. Another one of his colleagues, Rep. Garret Graves, also has been considering running for governor, though he hasn't shown much obvious interest since he learned he'd be in the majority.

House

AZ-02: Outgoing Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, who lost re-election last month to opponent Buu Nygren 53-47, is not ruling out seeking the Democratic nomination to go up against Republican Rep.-elect Eli Crane, though Nez acknowledged a bid would be tough. "Of course, you keep your options open, you never say no to anything," he told Source NM before adding, "I hate to say it, but it's going to be very difficult for any Democrat to run for that position."

Trump carried this sprawling Northeastern Arizona seat 53-45, and Crane ousted Democratic incumbent Tom O'Halleran 54-46 in November. According to Bloomberg's Greg Giroux, Republican Blake Masters also beat Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly 51-47 here even as he was losing statewide by an identical margin.

VA-04: Sen. Tim Kaine has endorsed state Sen. Jennifer McClellan ahead of Tuesday's firehouse primary to select the Democratic nominee to succeed the late Rep. Donald McEachin.

The short contest leaves candidates essentially no time to raise the money they'd need to run TV ads, but another Democratic contender, Del. Lamont Bagby, is taking to radio to emphasize his own endorsements. Bagby's commercial features testimonials from Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and Henrico County Supervisor Tyrone Nelson, who praise his record in the legislature and tout him as a worthy successor to McEachin.

Stoney also informs listeners, "Voting is at a special location, not your normal polling place," and advises them to go to Bagby's site to find out where to cast their ballot.

House: Politico's Ally Mutnick takes a detailed early look at the 2024 House battlefield and what candidates could end up running for key seats. For the Republicans, many of the names are familiar ones from the 2022 cycle. Mutnick relays that some strategists want a pair of defeated Senate nominees, Colorado's Joe O'Dea and Washington's Tiffany Smiley, to run for competitive House seats.

The only realistic target for O'Dea would be the 8th District, where Democratic Rep.-elect Yadira Caraveo pulled off a tough win, but Smiley is harder to place: She lives in Richland in the south-central part of Washington, which is located in GOP Rep. Dan Newhouse's 4th District and is at least a two hour drive from either the Democratic-held 3rd or 8th.

The Republican wishlist also includes a few candidates who lost House primaries this year to some disastrous nominees. One prospective repeat contender is Ohio state Sen. Theresa Gavarone, whose bid to challenge longtime Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur in the 9th ended with her taking third to QAnon ally J.R. Majewski. Kaptur beat Majewski 57-43 after national Republicans gave up on him, but the GOP's victories in this year's state Supreme Court contest could allow Gavarone and her colleagues to draw up a more favorable map for the state senator should she try again.

Another potential repeat is Keene Mayor George Hansel, a self-declared "pro-choice" candidate who wanted to take on Democratic incumbent Annie Kuster in New Hampshire's 2nd District. National Democrats very much didn't want that happening, though, as they ran ads promoting Hansel's underfunded opponent, former Hillsborough County Treasurer Robert Burns. The strategy worked as intended: Burns won the nomination 33-30, while Kuster defeated him 56-44 two months later.

Mutnick also writes that some Republicans are hoping to see another try from Derrick Anderson, a Green Beret veteran who wanted to challenge Rep. Abigail Spanberger in Virginia's 7th but lost the primary 29-24 to Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega. Democrats went on to focus on Vega's far-right views, including her comments falsely suggesting that it's unlikely for rape to result in pregnancy, and Spanberger prevailed 52-48.

Republicans have their eyes on a few Republicans who didn't run for Congress in 2022, too. Mutnick says that one possible recruit against Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee in Michigan's 8th is state Rep.-elect Bill Schuette, who is the son and namesake of the GOP's 2018 nominee for governor.

And while the GOP will soon be able to gerrymander North Carolina's new congressional map, Mutnick writes that some Republicans would prefer state Rep. Erin Paré go up against Democrat Wiley Nickel in the 13th rather than see another campaign by Bo Hines. Indeed, Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw trashed both Hines and Karoline Leavitt, who failed to win New Hampshire's 1st, when he told Politico, "We lost races we easily should have won. We elected two 25-year-olds to be our nominees. That's batshit crazy."

Democrats, meanwhile, have a few 2022 nominees they would like to run again:

  • AZ-01: Jevin Hodge
  • AZ-06: Kirsten Engel
  • CA-41: Will Rollins
  • CA-45: Jay Chen

There is no word from any of the once and potentially future candidates from either party about their 2024 plans.

Legislatures

PA State House: Allegheny County election officials say they plan to hold a trio of special elections in Democratic-held state House seats on Feb. 7, declaring, "While we await action by the Court, we will move forward with preparation and other work necessary to conduct the special elections, including confirming polling locations, scheduling poll workers and other administrative work."

Democrat Joanna McClinton scheduled these three contests for early February after she was sworn in as majority leader last week, citing the fact that Democrats won 102 of the 203 state House seats on Nov. 8. Republicans, though, have filed a lawsuit arguing that she did not have the authority to do this because the GOP will have more members when the new legislature meets Jan. 3 because of those vacancies.

VA State Senate: Democrat Aaron Rouse touts his time in the NFL and Virginia Beach roots in his opening TV ad ahead of the Jan. 10 special to succeed Republican Rep.-elect Jen Kiggans. Rouse faces Republican Kevin Adams, a Navy veteran and first-time office-seeker, in a contest that gives Democrats the chance to expand their narrow 21-19 majority in the upper chamber to a wider 22-18 advantage.

Rouse's spot opens with footage of the candidate in action as an announcer proclaims, "What a break on the football by Aaron Rouse!" The Democrat himself then appears on a football field where he talks about the Virginia Beach neighborhood he grew up in by saying, "Before I was Aaron Rouse, the NFL player… I was just Aaron, from Seatack. Mom raised us on her own."

Rouse, who now serves on the City Council, continues, "My granddad told me: I was man of the house. So I did whatever it took. Mowing lawns, pumping gas, cleaning buses." He concludes, "It's time for Richmond to get to work making life more affordable for Virginia families."

Mayors and County Leaders

Austin, TX Mayor: Former state Sen. Kirk Watson on Tuesday narrowly regained the office he held from 1997 to 2001 by defeating state Rep. Celia Israel 50.4-49.6 in the runoff to succeed their fellow Democrat, termed-out Mayor Steve Adler. Watson will serve an abbreviated two-year term because voters last year approved a ballot measure to move mayoral elections to presidential cycles starting in 2024.

Israel overcame Watson's big spending edge on Nov. 8 to lead him 41-35 in the first round of voting, but observers speculated that his base would be more likely to turn out for the runoff. Israel did best in South and East Austin, areas that have large populations of younger and more diverse voters, while Watson performed strongly in Northwest Austin, a more affluent and whiter area that's home to more longtime residents who were around when he was last mayor.

Watson also worked to appeal to supporters of conservative Jennifer Virden, who took 18%, by emphasizing tax cuts and crime. Virden never endorsed anyone for round two, but she did fire off some tweets favorable to Watson.

The city's high housing costs were one of the main issues in this contest. Watson argued that each of the 10 City Council districts should adopt their own plans, an approach Israel compared to the old racist practice of "redlining." Watson defended his plan, though, saying that there would still be citywide standards each district would need to meet and that individual communities are "going to be able to tell us where greater density can be used." He also argued that he'd have an easier time working with GOP legislators who have long had a hostile relationship with Austin's city government.

Morning Digest: Abortion rights supporters win massive victory at the ballot box in Kansas

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

Leading Off

 KS Ballot: Abortion rights supporters won a resounding victory in deep-red Kansas on Tuesday night, sending an amendment that would have stripped the right to an abortion from the state constitution down to defeat in a 59-41 landslide.

Republican lawmakers placed the initiative on the ballot in January of last year in response to a 2019 decision by the state Supreme Court that overturned legislation banning an abortion procedure known as dilation and evacuation. In their ruling, a majority concluded that the state constitution protects "the right of personal autonomy," which includes "whether to continue a pregnancy." Only restrictions that "further a compelling government interest" and are "narrowly tailored to that interest" would pass muster, said the justices. The ban in question did not, and so more aggressive restrictions would not as well.

That infuriated Republicans, who were eager to clamp down on abortion if not ban it outright. They therefore drafted misleading language that would undo this ruling by amending the constitution. "Because Kansans value both women and children," the amendment superfluously began, "the constitution of the state of Kansas does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion"—even though the Supreme Court case had no bearing on such funding.

The accompanying explanatory text was also heavily tilted to the "Yes" side, saying that a "No" vote "could restrict the people, through their elected state legislators, from regulating abortion by leaving in place the recently recognized right to abortion."

Republicans further sought to tilt the scales in their favor by scheduling the vote to coincide with the state's August primary, almost certainly expecting light mid-summer turnout that would favor their side. That emphatically did not come to pass. Remarkably, the total vote on the abortion amendment was 25% greater than the combined tally in both parties' primaries for governor, meaning at least 150,000 voters showed up just to vote on the ballot measure.

In the state's most populous county, Johnson County in the Kansas City suburbs, at least 243,000 voters participated in the vote on the amendment, 90% of the turnout of the hotly contested general election for governor in 2018. What's more, the "No" side demonstrated considerable crossover appeal: While Democrat Laura Kelly carried Johnson 55-38 four years ago, the pro-abortion position prevailed by a far wider 68-32 margin on Tuesday.

A similar phenomenon repeated itself across the state, even in deeply conservative Sedgwick County, home to Wichita—the longtime headquarters of the anti-abortion terrorist group Operation Rescue and the city where abortion provider George Tiller was assassinated in 2009 while leaving church. Donald Trump won Sedgwick 54-43 in 2020, but "No" also won, 58-42.

Both sides spent heavily, about $6 million apiece, with half of the "Yes" funding coming from the Catholic Church. Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, the leading group that worked to defeat the measure, carefully targeted its messaging: Ads in Democratic-leaning areas warned that the amendment "could ban any abortion with no exceptions," while those in more conservative parts of the state avoided mentioning abortion at all and instead decried the measure as "a strict government mandate designed to interfere with private medical decisions."

Amendment supporters, meanwhile, relied on more partisan framing, blasting "unelected liberal judges appointed by pro-abortion politicians" who "ruled the Kansas constitution contains an unlimited right to abortion, making painful dismemberment abortions legal." But even though Trump won Kansas by a wide 56-41 margin just two years ago, this sort of message failed to break through.

The final result also defied the only public poll of the race, a survey from the Republican firm co/efficient that found the amendment passing by a 47-43 margin. It will also buoy activists in Kentucky, who are fighting a similar amendment in November, as well as those in Michigan, who are seeking to enshrine abortion rights into their state's constitution. And it should serve as a reminder to Democrats that protecting the right to an abortion is the popular, mainstream position in almost every part of the country.

election recaps

 Primary Night: Below is a state-by-state look at where Tuesday’s other major contests stood as of 8 AM ET Wednesday, and you can also find our cheat-sheet here. Before we dive in, though, we’ll highlight that the margins may change as more votes are tabulated; indeed, we should expect considerably more ballots to be counted in both Arizona and Washington, as well as Michigan’s Wayne County.

In Maricopa County, which is home to over 60% of the Grand Canyon State’s residents, election authorities say that they’ll use Wednesday to verify signatures for any early ballots that were dropped off on Election Day and that they expect an updated vote tally by 10 PM ET/ 7 PM local time; a large amount of votes remain to be counted in the other 14 counties as well. Washington, meanwhile, conducts its elections entirely by mail, and ballots postmarked by Election Day are still valid as long as they're received within a few days.

Finally, a huge amounts of votes remain to be counted in Wayne County for a very different reason. Officials in Michigan’s most populous county said on Tuesday evening, “Based on the recommendation of the Voluntary Voting Systems Guideline 2.0 issued by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, coupled with AT&Ts decision in March 2022 to no longer support 3G modems, 65 out of 83 Counties in Michigan are no longer modeming unofficial election results.” The statement continued, “We do not have a definitive time of when we will reach 100 percent reporting, but will continue to work throughout the evening and morning until this is achieved.”

 AZ-Sen (R): Former Thiel Capital chief operating officer Blake Masters, who picked up Trump’s endorsement in June, beat wealthy businessman Jim Lamon 39-29 for the right to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in what will be one of the most contested Senate races in the nation.

 AZ-Gov (R): Kari Lake, a former local TV anchor turned far-right conspiracy theorist, leads Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson 46-44―a margin of about 11,000 votes―with just over 637,000 ballots tabulated; the Associated Press, which has not called the race, estimates that 80% of the vote has been counted so far. Lake, who trailed until the wee hours of Wednesday morning, has Trump’s endorsement, while termed-out Gov. Doug Ducey is for Robson.

 AZ-Gov (D): Secretary of State Katie Hobbs defeated former Homeland Security official Marco López in a 73-22 landslide.

 AZ-01 (R): Republican incumbent David Schweikert holds a 43-33 lead over wealthy businessman Elijah Norton with 96,000 votes in, or 82% of the estimated total. The winner will be defending a reconfigured seat in the eastern Phoenix area that, at 50-49 Biden, is more competitive than Schweikert’s existing 6th District.

 AZ-01 (D): Jevin Hodge, who lost a tight 2020 race for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, defeated former Phoenix Suns employee Adam Metzendorf 61-39.

 AZ-02 (R): Trump’s candidate, Navy SEAL veteran Eli Crane, enjoys a 34-24 lead over state Rep. Walter Blackman in another uncalled race; 76,000 votes are in, which the AP says is 90% of the total. The winner will face Democratic Rep. Tom O'Halleran, who is defending a seat in northern and eastern rural Arizona that Trump would have taken 53-45.

 AZ-04 (R): In potentially bad news for the GOP establishment, self-funding restaurant owner Kelly Cooper leads former Arizona Bankers Association president Tanya Wheeless 30-25; 56,000 ballots are counted, and the AP estimates this is 82% of the total. The powerful Congressional Leadership Fund supported Wheeless, who benefited from $1.5 million in outside spending to promote her or attack Cooper. The eventual nominee will take on Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton in a reconfigured 54-44 Biden seat in the southern Phoenix suburbs.

 AZ-06 (D): Former state Sen. Kirsten Engel defeated state Rep. Daniel Hernandez 60-34 in the primary to succeed their fellow Democrat, retiring Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick. This new Tucson-based seat would have backed Biden just 49.3-49.2.

 AZ-06 (R): Juan Ciscomani, who is a former senior advisor to Gov. Doug Ducey, turned back perennial candidate Brandon Martin 47-21. Ciscomani always looked like favorite to capture the GOP nod against an underfunded set of foes, though his allies at the Congressional Leadership Fund unexpectedly spent $1 million to support him in the final days of the race.

 AZ-AG (R): The GOP primary has not yet been resolved, but Trump’s pick, former prosecutor Abe Hamadeh, leads former Tucson City Councilor Rodney Glassman 32-24 with 605,000 ballots tabulated; the AP estimates that 80% of the vote is in. The winner will go up against former Arizona Corporation Commission Chair Kris Mayes, who had no opposition in the Democratic primary, in the contest to replace termed-out Republican incumbent Mark Brnovich.

 AZ-SoS (R): State Rep. Mark Finchem, a QAnon supporter who led the failed effort to overturn Biden's victory and attended the Jan. 6 rally just ahead of the attack on the Capitol, defeated advertising executive Beau Lane 41-25 to win the GOP nod to succeed Democratic incumbent Katie Hobbs. Trump was all-in for Finchem while Ducey backed Lane, the one candidate in the four-person primary who acknowledges Biden’s win.

 AZ-SoS (D): Former Maricopa County Clerk Adrian Fontes leads House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding 53-47 in another race that has not yet been called. A total of 467,000 ballots are in, which the AP estimates is 77% of the total vote.

 Maricopa County, AZ Attorney (R): With 328,000 votes in, appointed incumbent Rachel Mitchell leads former City of Goodyear Prosecutor Gina Godbehere 58-42 in the special election primary to succeed Allister Adel, a fellow Republican who resigned in March and died the next month. The winner will face Democrat Julie Gunnigle, who lost to Adel 51-49 in 2020; this post will be up for a regular four-year term in 2024.

 KS-AG (R): He’s back: Former Secretary of State Kris Kobach defeated state Sen. Kellie Warren 42-38 in a tight primary to succeed Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who easily won his own GOP primary to take on Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly. Kobach, a notorious voter suppression zealot who lost to Kelly in a 2018 upset, will take on attorney Chris Mann, who had no Democratic primary opposition.

 MI-Gov (R): Conservative radio host Tudor Dixon won the nomination to face Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer by defeating wealthy businessman Kevin Rinke 41-22; Dixon picked up Trump’s endorsement in the final days of the campaign, though he only supported her when it was clear she was the frontrunner. Note that these totals don’t include write-ins, so we don’t know yet exactly how poorly former Detroit Police Chief James Craig’s last-ditch effort went.

 MI-03 (R): Conservative commentator John Gibbs’ Trump-backed campaign denied renomination to freshman Rep. Peter Meijer, who was one of the 10 House Republicans to vote for impeachment, 52-48. Meijer and his allies massively outspent Gibbs’ side, though the challenger got a late boost from Democrats who believe he’d be easier to beat in November.

Gibbs will now go up against 2020 Democratic nominee Hillary Scholten, who had no primary opposition in her second campaign. Meijer defeated Scholten 53-47 in 2020 as Trump was taking the old 3rd 51-47, but Michigan's new independent redistricting commission dramatically transformed this Grand Rapids-based constituency into a new 53-45 Biden seat.

 MI-08 (R): Former Trump administration official Paul Junge beat former Grosse Pointe Shores Councilman Matthew Seely 54-24 for the right to take on Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee. Junge lost to Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin 51-47 in the old 8th District in 2020 and decided to run here even though the old and new 8th Districts do not overlap. Biden would have carried the revamped version of this seat in the Flint and Saginaw areas 50-48.

 MI-10 (D): Former Macomb County Judge Carl Marlinga beat former Macomb County Health Department head Rhonda Powell 48-17 in the Democratic primary for a redrawn seat in Detroit's northeastern suburbs that's open because of the incumbent-vs.-incumbent matchup in the 11th (see just below).

Marlinga will face Army veteran John James, who was Team Red's Senate nominee in 2018 and 2020, in a constituency Trump would have taken 50-49. James narrowly lost to Democratic Sen. Gary Peters within the confines of the new 10th by a 49.3-48.6 margin last cycle, but he begins this general election with a massive financial lead.

 MI-11 (D): Rep. Haley Stevens beat her fellow two-term incumbent, Andy Levin, 60-40 in the Democratic primary for a revamped seat in Detroit’s northern suburbs that Biden would have carried 59-39. Stevens represented considerably more of the new seat than Levin, whom some Democrats hoped would campaign in the 10th instead of running here; Stevens and her allies, led by the hawkish pro-Israel organization AIPAC, also massively outspent Levin’s side.

 MI-12 (D): Rep. Rashida Tlaib turned back Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey 65-20 in this safely blue seat. The AP estimates only 66% of the vote is counted because of the aforementioned delays in Wayne County, but the agency has called the contest for the incumbent.

 MI-13 (D): Wealthy state Rep. Shri Thanedar leads state Sen. Adam Hollier 28-24 with 51,000 votes tabulated in this loyally blue Detroit-based constituency, but the AP estimates that this represents only 49% of the total vote and has not made a call here.

 MO-Sen (R): Attorney General Eric Schmitt beat Rep. Vicky Hartzler 46-22 in the primary to succeed their fellow Republican, retiring Sen. Roy Blunt; disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens, who was the other “ERIC” Trump endorsed one day before the primary, took third with only 19%. (Yet another Eric, Some Dude Eric McElroy, clocked in at 0.4%.) Republican leaders who weren’t Trump feared that the scandal-ridden Greitens could jeopardize the party’s chances in this red state if he were nominated, and Politico reports that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s allies at the Senate Leadership Fund quietly financed the main anti-Greitens super PAC.

Schmitt, though, will be the favorite against businesswoman Trudy Busch Valentine, who claimed the Democratic nod by beating Marine veteran Lucas Kunce 43-38. A onetime Republican, former U.S. Attorney John Wood, is also campaigning as an independent.

 MO-01 (D): Rep. Cori Bush turned back state Sen. Steve Roberts 70-27 to win renomination in this safely blue St. Louis seat.

 MO-04 (R): Former Kansas City TV anchor Mark Alford won the nod to succeed unsuccessful Senate candidate Vicky Hartzler by beating state Sen. Rick Brattin 35-21 in this dark red western Missouri seat. Brattin had the backing of School Freedom Fund, a deep-pocketed affiliate of the anti-tax Club for Growth, while the crypto-aligned American Dream Federal Action and Conservative Americans PAC supported Alford.

 MO-07 (R): Eric Burlison defeated fellow state Sen. Jay Wasson 38-23 to claim the nomination to replace Rep. Billy Long, who gave up this safely red southwestern Missouri seat only to come in a distant fourth in the Senate race. Burlison had the backing of both the Club for Growth and nihilistic House Freedom Caucus.

 WA-03: The AP has not yet called either general election spot in the top-two primary for this 51-46 Trump seat in southwestern Washington. With 105,000 votes counted, which represents an estimated 57% of the vote, Democrat Marie Perez is in first with 32%. GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who voted for impeachment, holds a 25-20 edge over Trump’s candidate, Army veteran Joe Kent.

 WA-04: Things are similarly unresolved in this 57-40 Trump seat in eastern Washington with 74,000 votes in, which makes up an estimated 47% of the total vote. GOP Rep. Dan Newhouse, who also supported impeaching Trump, is in first with 27%; Democrat Doug White leads Trump’s pick, 2020 GOP gubernatorial nominee Loren Culp, 26-22 for second.

 WA-08: Democratic Rep. Kim Schrier took first with 49% in this 52-45 Biden seat in suburban Seattle, but we don’t yet know which Republican she’ll be going up against. With 110,000 ballots in, or 53% of the estimated total, 2020 attorney general nominee Matt Larkin is edging out King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn 16-15; Jesse Jensen, who came unexpectedly close to beating Schrier in 2020, is in third with 13%.

 WA-SoS: Appointed Democratic incumbent Steve Hobbs easily secured a spot in the November special election, but he may need to wait a while to learn who his opponent will be. With 965,000 votes in, which the AP estimates is 47% of the total, Hobbs is in first with 41%; Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, who does not identify with either party, enjoys a 12.9-12.4 edge over a first-time GOP candidate named Bob Hagglund, while Republican state Sen. Keith Wagoner is just behind with 12.2%.

Governors

 NY-Gov: Siena College's first general election poll finds Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul defeating Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin 53-39; this is the first survey from a reliable pollster since both candidates won their respective primaries in late June.

 RI-Gov: Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea has publicized a Lake Research Partners internal that shows her beating Gov. Dan McKee 27-22 in the Sept. 13 Democratic primary; former CVS executive Helena Foulkes takes 14%, while former Secretary of State Matt Brown is a distant fourth with just 7%. The last survey we saw was a late June poll from Suffolk University that gave Gorbea a similar 24-20 edge over the governor as Foulkes grabbed 16%.

Campaign finance reports are also now available for all the candidates for the second quarter of the year:

  • Foulkes: $550,000 raised, $1.4 million spent, $690,000 cash-on-hand
  • McKee: $280,000 raised, $140,000 spent, $1.2 million cash-on-hand
  • Gorbea: $270,000 raised, $380,000 spent, $790,000 cash-on-hand
  • Brown: $50,000 raised, additional $30,000 reimbursed, $90,000 spent, $70,000 cash-on-hand

The only serious Republican in the running is businesswoman Ashley Kalus, who raised only a little more than $60,000 from donors during this time but self-funded another $1.7 million. Kalus spent $1.1 million, and she had that same amount available at the end of June.

House

 HI-02: While former state Sen. Jill Tokuda has far outraised her only serious intra-party rival, state Rep. Patrick Branco, ahead of the Aug. 13 Democratic primary for this open seat, outside groups have spent a total of $1 million to help Branco. One of the state representative's allies, VoteVets, recently aired an ad attacking Tokuda for receiving a 2012 endorsement from the NRA; the spot does not mention Branco, a former U.S. Foreign Service diplomat who served in Colombia and Pakistan.

Another major Branco backer is the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which is hoping to elect Hawaii's first Latino member of Congress. The other organizations in his corner are the crypto-aligned Web3 Forward and Mainstream Democrats PAC, a new group with the stated purpose of thwarting "far-left organizations" that want to take over the Democratic Party. The only poll we've seen here was a late June MRG Research survey for Civil Beat and Hawaii News Now that put Tokuda ahead 31-6, but it was conducted before Blanco's allies began spending here.

 IL-02: Rep. Robin Kelly on Friday evening ended her bid to stay on as state Democratic Party chair after acknowledging that she did not have a majority of the Central Committee in her corner. The next day, the body unanimously chose state Rep. Lisa Hernandez, who had the backing of Gov. J.B. Pritzker, as the new party chair.

 OK-02: Fund for a Working Congress, a conservative super PAC that has gotten involved in a few other GOP primaries this cycle, has deployed $400,000 to aid state Rep. Avery Frix in his Aug. 23 Republican primary runoff against former state Sen. Josh Brecheen. The group made its move around the same time that the Club for Growth-backed School Freedom Fund dropped a larger $1.1 million to boost Brecheen.

 TN-05: Retired National Guard Brig. Gen. Kurt Winstead has released a Spry Strategies internal that shows him trailing former state House Speaker Beth Harwell 22-20 ahead of Thursday's Republican primary for this newly-gerrymandered seat; Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles is in third with 15%, while an underfunded contender named Timothy Lee takes 10%.

Mayors

 Los Angeles, CA Mayor: Both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday endorsed Democratic Rep. Karen Bass ahead of November's officially nonpartisan general election to lead America's second-largest city. Bass' opponent this fall is billionaire developer Rick Caruso, a former Republican and independent who is now a self-described "pro-centrist, pro-jobs, pro-public safety Democrat."

Ad Roundup

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

Morning Digest: Federal judges let Ohio GOP run out the clock and use illegal gerrymandered maps

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, 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

OH Redistricting: A three-judge federal court has hijacked Ohio's legislative redistricting process and rewarded Republican obstructionism by announcing on Wednesday that if the state's GOP-dominated redistricting commission fails to produce constitutional maps by May 28, it will implement maps that the state Supreme Court previously ruled were unconstitutional instead.

The Ohio Supreme Court has rejected four different sets of maps in a row for the state House and state Senate drawn by the commission, all for the same reason: They violated a voter-approved amendment to the state constitution barring partisan gerrymandering. That same amendment, however, forbid state courts from ordering the adoption of judicially crafted maps, leaving the Supreme Court with the power merely to order the commission—which consists of five Republicans and just two Democrats—to keep trying again.

But now Republicans have no incentive to try a fifth time, as the Supreme Court recently ordered, because if they fail to do so, the federal court will simply impose their third set of maps. In a 2-1 decision, two judges appointed by Donald Trump said they'd adopt those maps—despite the fact the Supreme Court found they violated the state constitution "beyond a reasonable doubt"—simply because Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who is one of the five Republicans on the commission, told local election officials to prepare to use them before the justices had a chance to rule on their validity.

Federal courts cannot be barred by the Ohio constitution from imposing their own maps to remedy violations of the U.S. Constitution, and in fact they must do so in the event of an impasse to ensure that elections can be held using legal maps. (The GOP-drawn maps the state used for the last decade are now badly malapportioned in addition to being gerrymandered.) But in a dissent, Judge Algenon Marbley, who was named to the bench by Bill Clinton, castigated the majority for failing to "respect[] state policies to the maximum extent" by settling on plans that are "irredeemably flawed."

Instead, said Marbley, the state should use a plan crafted by a pair of outside map-drawers hired by the commission, which expert witnesses who testified before the federal court said "satisfies all constitutional requirements" with minor changes. The commission claimed it abandoned that plan because it was incomplete—a reason the majority cited for spurning it—but Marbley noted that an expert for opponents of the GOP's maps completed the necessary adjustments in a matter of hours.

Yet with the majority's decision, "Republican Commissioners will benefit directly from a crisis they created," wrote Marbley, "and which the Ohio Supreme Court has attributed squarely to them." And because the GOP's maps would only take effect for 2022, the same situation could unfold in future years. As Marbley explained, "The 2024 Commission, faced with the options of ceding political power or simply waiting out adverse court decisions, likely will be tempted to take the same course."

Unmentioned by the dissent is that Republicans are trying to wait out the state Supreme Court in another way as well: Republican Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor, who sided with the court's three Democrats over her three GOP colleagues to strike down the maps, cannot run again in November due to age limits. If Republicans who oppose the redistricting ruling win her open seat and hold onto the other two GOP-held seats up this year, they would gain a 4-3 majority willing to uphold future GOP gerrymanders.

Democrats and redistricting reformers are essentially out of options for 2022 at this point. While an appeal of the federal court's ruling is possible, any such appeal would go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, where challengers would expect a very unfriendly reception. The Ohio Supreme Court, meanwhile, has contemplated holding commissioners in contempt. To date it's declined to do so, but even if it does, there's no reason to think Republicans would produce constitutional maps since they'll get exactly what they want as long as they hold out until May 28.

Redistricting

FL Redistricting: Florida's Republican-run state House approved Gov. Ron DeSantis' new congressional map in a party-line vote on Thursday, following a similar vote in the state Senate a day earlier. The map, which would establish 20 districts Donald Trump would have carried and just eight that would have gone for Joe Biden, now goes to DeSantis for his signature, though litigation challenging the plan is a certainty.

Senate

MO-Sen: Marine veteran Lucas Kunce has released a Public Policy Polling survey of the August Democratic primary that finds him leading philanthropist Trudy Busch Valentine by 25-18 with a substantial 56% of voters undecided. This is the first publicly available poll we've seen from anyone so far.

NH-Sen, NH-Gov: The University of New Hampshire has tested some potential matchups between Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan and a few of her Republican challengers, and their new poll finds Hassan in a very tight race this fall:

47-46 vs. 2020 candidate and retired Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc

44-46 vs. state Senate President Chuck Morse

45-44 vs. former Londonderry town manager Kevin Smith

46-40 vs. Bitcoin millionaire Bruce Fenton

UNH also tested the Republican primary in September and found Bolduc with a large 33-4 lead over the nearest contender, but with 58% of voters undecided and Bolduc having significantly higher name recognition than his rivals thanks in part to his 2020 bid, that advantage could dwindle as his opponents become better known and more voters pick a candidate to support.

The GOP primary grew larger still on Thursday when author and investor Vikram Mansharamani kicked off his campaign. Vikram, who is also a lecturer at Harvard and the son of Indian immigrants, does not appear to have run for office before.

The UNH poll above also surveyed the election for governor, but the results are much less competitive than in the Senate contest. They have Republican Gov. Chris Sununu cruising to a 55-29 lead over state Sen. Tom Sherman, who is the only notable Democrat challenging the three-term incumbent so far.

OH-Sen: Protect Our Values PAC, which is supporting venture capitalist J.D. Vance in the May 3 Republican primary, has publicized a Fabrizio, Lee & Associates poll that finds Vance pulling into a 25-18 lead over former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, with investment banker Mike Gibbons taking 13%, former state party chair Jane Timken earning 11%, and state Sen. Matt Dolan winning 9%. Those numbers are an improvement for Vance since their March survey, which had Vance, Mandel, and Gibbons in a three-way tie with 18% each followed by Timken at 11% and Dolan at 9%.

This is Fabrizio, Lee & Associates' first poll since Donald Trump endorsed Vance on April 15, and it's undoubtedly intended to support the idea that Trump's support is helping put Vance ahead. However, it's worth noting that nearly every other poll here in recent months has found Vance stuck further back in third or fourth place, though no other pollster has released a survey yet since Trump made his endorsement.

Meanwhile, Buckeyes for a Strong Ohio PAC, which is supporting Gibbons, has released a new ad calling Mandel a career politician and a "total fraud." The spot disingenuously blasts Mandel for having supported Mitt Romney and former Gov. John Kasich without noting that Mandel did so when Romney at least was the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, not more recently when both he and Kasich have been among the few Republican Trump critics. The ad finishes by praising Gibbons as a businessman.

OK-Sen-B: Friday was also the filing deadline for Oklahoma's June 28 primaries, and the state has its candidate list here. A runoff would take place Aug. 23 for any contest where no one earned a majority of the vote.

Longtime Sen. Jim Inhofe announced in late February that he would resign, effective ​​when the current Congress ends, and 13 fellow Republicans are competing for the final two years of his term in this dark-red state. Inhofe is pulling for his former chief of staff, Luke Holland, and a new super PAC called OkieWay has spent $475,000 on ads starring the outgoing senator praising his would-be successor. The GOP side, though, includes several contenders who start out with more name recognition than Holland, who is a first-time candidate.

One familiar name is Rep. Markwayne Mullin, who represents a seat in the eastern part of Oklahoma. There's also former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon, who ran in the 2014 special election for the Sooner State's other Senate seat but lost the primary to then-Rep. James Lankford by a surprisingly wide 57-34 margin: Both Mullin and Shannon would be the first Native Americans to serve in the upper chamber since Colorado Republican Ben Nighthorse Campbell retired in 2005, while Shannon would also be Oklahoma's first Black senator. Another prominent contender is former state Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who later served as Trump's first head of the EPA and resigned in the face of numerous scandals.

Also in the running is state Sen. Nathan Dahm, who took a close fourth in the 2018 primary for the Tulsa-based 1st Congressional District; Dahm, who was waging a longshot bid against Lankford before Inhofe announced his departure, has benefited from about $155,000 in TV ads so far from Protect Freedom PAC, which is allied with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Rounding out the field is former Trump White House staffer Alex Gray, while the other seven contenders don't appear to be serious.

Pruitt only entered the race just before filing closed last week so there are no fundraising reports available for him, but we have first quarter numbers from the rest of the GOP field:

  • Holland: $620,000 raised, additional $200,000 self-funded, $773,000 cash-on-hand
  • Mullin: $385,000 raised, additional $1 million self-funded, $1.96 million cash-on-hand
  • Shannon: $245,000 raised, additional $150,000 self-funded, $392,000 cash-on-hand
  • Dahm: $147,000 raised, $170,000 cash-on-hand
  • Gray: $132,000 raised, additional $200,000 self-funded, $299,000 cash-on-hand

The only Democrat in the race is former Rep. Kendra Horn, who raised $343,000 and had $369,000 available.

Governors

AZ-Gov: First quarter fundraising reports are available for candidates seeking to replace term-limited GOP Gov. Doug Ducey, with the primaries for both parties taking place in August:

  • Former TV news anchor Kari Lake (R): $970,000 raised, $701,000 cash-on-hand
  • Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson (R): $718,000 raised, additional $2 million self-loaned, $357,000 cash-on-hand
  • Former Rep. Matt Salmon (R): $469,000 raised, $703,000 cash-on-hand
  • Businessman Steve Gaynor (R): $35,000 raised, $4.1 million cash-on-hand (thanks to prior self-funding)
  • Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D): $748,000 raised, $1.6 million cash-on-hand
  • Former homeland security official Marco López (D): $305,000 raised, additional $150,000 self-loaned, $450,000 cash-on-hand
  • Former state Rep. Aaron Lieberman (D): $275,000 raised, $759,000 cash-on-hand

FL-Gov: Sachs Media has conducted a Democratic primary poll on behalf of Florida Politics that shows Rep. Charlie Crist holding a 35-20 lead over state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, while state Sen. Annette Taddeo is far behind with 4%. This is Sachs' first publicly available poll; the few other pollsters who have released surveys here in recent months have also found Crist ahead but with a large share of voters still undecided with four months to go until the August primary.

GA-Gov: Former Sen. David Perdue is running a new GOP primary ad, which is backed by a modest $320,000 buy that his campaign says will grow to $500,000, that embraces the Big Lie and various other far-right themes. Perdue hits Gov. Brian Kemp for letting radicals "steal the election," by which he really means Kemp not helping Trump to actually steal it, and because of this he blames Kemp for inflation and other problems under Biden. Perdue touts Trump's endorsement and vows to eliminate the state income tax.

IL-Gov: Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin's latest GOP primary ad tries to portray state Rep. Darren Bailey as a phony conservative by highlighting how Bailey said last month that, "I might have voted for Biden," while the rest of the spot hits Bailey for having supported property tax increases while he was on a local school board.

However, the ad omits how Bailey was speaking about voting in the 2008 Democratic primary, which he claimed he had done as a way to stop Hillary Clinton, not the more recent 2020 general election. The Chicago Tribune noted that Irvin himself had refused to say whether he voted for Trump shortly after joining the race and that he had voted in the 2016 and 2020 Democratic primaries, which Irvin justified by saying he was voting for conservative Democrats in local races.

MD-Gov: The filing deadline for Maryland's July 19 primary passed Friday, and the state has a list of contenders available here. (Both dates were twice postponed because of legal challenges to congressional and legislative maps.) The congressional and state legislative lists aren't quite final, though, as the State Board of Elections says, "These candidates are listed in the district where they live now. After election officials make changes to County, State, and Congressional districts based on final redistricting plans, some candidates may be assigned to a different district." The BoE adds that this will be finished "in late May or early June."  

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is termed out, and 10 Democrats and four Republicans are competing to succeed him in a state that Joe Biden carried 65-32. The only sitting elected official on either side is state Comptroller Peter Franchot, a moderate Democrat who has enjoyed a good relationship with Hogan. Team Blue's field also includes two former members of the Obama cabinet: former Secretary of Education John King and former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, who later went on to head up the Democratic National Committee.

The Democratic side also consists of two contenders who took second place in primaries for governor during the last decade: former Attorney General Doug Gansler, who lost in 2014, and former Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker, who unsuccessfully campaigned four years later and is now the only candidate taking part in Maryland's public financing system. Also in the contest are former nonprofit leaders Jon Baron and Wes Moore as well as Ashwani Jain, a one-time Obama administration official who lost a 2018 primary for the Montgomery County Council; two little-known candidates round out the list.

The only recent poll we've seen was a March internal for Baker that showed him trailing Franchot 23-15, with Perez and Moore at 11% and 10%, respectively. New campaign finance reports aren't due until mid-June (the last available numbers are from mid-January), so it will be a while before we get a fresh look at everyone's financial strength.

On the GOP side, Hogan is backing Kelly Schulz, whom he previously appointed as state Commerce Secretary. Donald Trump's endorsed candidate, meanwhile, is Del. Dan Cox, who played a role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol by organizing a busload of people to attend the rally that preceded it. Also in the race are wealthy perennial candidate Robin Ficker, who decided to continue his bid despite getting disbarred, and Some Dude Joe Werner.

NE-Gov: State Sen. Brett Lindstrom's newest ad ahead of the May 10 Republican primary shows the candidate talking up his record of cutting taxes, and he says he's "just getting started."

OK-Gov: Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt has three intra-party foes, with Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs Director Joel Kintsel looking like the most serious of the challengers. The Trump-endorsed incumbent's biggest threat, though, likely comes from a pair of dark money groups that together have spent at least $3.3 million on negative ads. Stitt has fired back with his own messaging arguing he's the victim of a smear campaign by "insiders and casino bosses," and he's also received $577,000 in help from the RGA. The Democratic side is a duel between Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, who left the GOP last year, and former state Sen. Connie Johnson, who lost the 2018 primary for this office.

House

AZ-06: EMILY's List has endorsed state Sen. Kirsten Engel ahead of the August Democratic primary.

Engel raised $225,000 in the first quarter and finished March with $639,000 on hand compared to her other notable primary opponent, state Rep. Daniel Hernández, who raised $154,000 and had $447,000 in the bank. On the Republican side is Juan Ciscomani, a former senior advisor to Gov. Doug Ducey, who raised $443,000 and had $1.1 million in cash-on-hand.

FL-04, FL-05: Republican state Senate President Pro Tempore Aaron Bean says he is "still exploring" a congressional run, which Florida Politics indicates would likely be in the new 4th District.

Republican legislators passed a new congressional map this week (see our FL Redistricting item above) that carves up Jacksonville to create two Republican-leaning districts by dismantling the existing 5th District, which is a predominantly Black and safely Democratic seat stretching to Tallahassee, but the redrawn 5th District corresponds more closely to GOP Rep. John Rutherford's existing 4th District and contains most of his current turf. Florida Politics treats it as a given that Rutherford would run there instead, meaning the new 4th is effectively the closest successor to the old 5th even though it's a very different constituency.

State Rep. Jason Fischer and Jacksonville City Councilman Rory Diamond have both previously said they were also considering running, and Florida Politics says they would also run in the 4th if they join the August GOP primary. One Republican who won't be running for either seat, though, is term-limited Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, who said he will finish out the rest of his term through 2023.

IL-01: SEIU Local 1, which says it represents 30,000 members across Illinois, has endorsed Chicago Alderman Pat Dowell ahead of the crowded Democratic primary in June.

Dowell led the pack in fundraising, raising $382,000 in the first three months of 2022, and he held $297,000 on hand at the start of April. Close behind was businessman Jonathan Swain, who reported $356,000 in donations, an additional $19,000 in self-funding, and $322,000 in cash-on-hand. Former Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership CEO Karin Norington-Reaves raised $291,000 and had $237,000 leftover to spend, while construction company owner Jonathan Jackson raised $145,000 and had $130,000 in the bank.

Four other candidates reported raising less than $100,000: Real estate executive Nykea Pippion McGriff raised $85,000, self-funded an additional $3,000, and had $79,000 remaining; former Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority official Charise Williams took in $83,000 and had $44,000 left in the bank; state Sen. Jacqueline Collins raised $69,000, self-funded an additional $10,000, and had $62,000 left to spend; and Pastor Stephany Rose Spaulding, whom we hadn't previously mentioned, raised a mere $50,000, self-funded $23,000, and had $27,000 on hand.

IL-15: Rep. Mary Miller has launched an ad going after fellow GOP Rep. Rodney Davis for voting to create the Jan. 6 investigation committee. The spot calls Davis a "RINO" while noting that Miller has Trump's endorsement.

Davis held a sizable edge over Miller in first quarter fundraising, though, raising $923,000 and finishing March with $1.9 million in cash-on-hand. By contrast, Miller brought in just $335,000 and had $511,000 left over at the start of April.

IN-01: Air Force veteran Jennifer-Ruth Green has debuted a GOP primary ad that portrays former LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo as a "Never Trump liberal" who refused to back Trump in 2016 and criticized his immigration policies. Green touts her own support from Indiana Right to Life and her top rating from the NRA.

Milo led Green $208,000 to $155,000 in first quarter fundraising, but she had just $111,000 on hand compared to Green's $151,000 at the end of the quarter. The primary is on May 3.

IN-09: American Dream Federal Action, a cryptocurrency-aligned PAC on the Republican side, has reported spending at least $387,000 on GOP primary ads for former state Sen. Erin Houchin.

Houchin raised the most money of any Republican candidate from donors in the first quarter, having brought in $377,000 and holding $250,000 on hand. Army veteran Stu Barnes-Israel raised $264,000, self-funded an additional $101,000, and had $232,000 left to spend. Former Rep. Mike Sodrel took in just $38,000 from donors but self-funded an additional $429,000, almost all of which he spent to end up with only $58,000 on hand. Lastly, businessman Jim Baker, whom we hadn't previously mentioned, raised $64,000 and had $40,000 remaining on hand.

MD-01: Rep. Andy Harris, who is one of the Republican party's ​​leading election deniers, is defending a seat along the Eastern Shore that would have backed Donald Trump 56-42, which is considerably more conservative than the seat Democrats drew up last year for a map that was ultimately struck down in state court.

Harris still faces a well-funded Democratic challenger in the form of former Del. Heather Mizeur, who took third place in the 2014 primary for governor and would be the first lesbian to represent the state in Congress. Harris outraised Mizeur $468,000 to $372,000 during the first quarter of 2022, and he finished March with a $1.88 million to $1.12 million cash-on-hand edge. Foreign policy strategist Dave Harden is also competing in the Democratic primary, but he's raised little so far.

MD-04: Democratic Rep. Anthony Brown is leaving this safely blue seat, which is based around Prince George's County in the D.C. suburbs, to run for attorney general, and three notable candidates from the county are competing to succeed him.

One well-established contender is Brown's predecessor, former Rep. Donna Edwards, a progressive who left the House in 2016 to unsuccessfully run for the Senate; Edwards later waged a 2018 comeback campaign for county executive, but she lost that primary by a wide 62-24 margin to Angela Alsobrooks. Another familiar name is former county State's Attorney Glenn Ivey, whom Brown beat 42-34 in the 2016 primary to replace Edwards. Another person to watch is former Del. Angela Angel, who lost her 2018 primary for a state Senate seat 55-37.

Edwards, who entered the race this year and has EMILY's List's support, raised $612,000 during her opening quarter and self-funded another $13,000, and she finished March with $460,000 on hand. Ivey, meanwhile, took in $294,000 from donors and provided another $150,000, which left him with a larger $584,000 war chest. Angel, finally, raised $54,000, self-funded $45,000 more, and was left with $95,000 on hand.

MD-06: Democratic Rep. David Trone faces a potentially tough general election now that redistricting has cut Joe Biden's margin of victory from 61-38 to 54-44 (Hillary Clinton would have carried this version of the 6th just 47-46), though the extremely wealthy incumbent has proven in the past that he's more than willing to make generous use of his own wealth. Indeed, Trone self-funded $2 million during the first quarter, which was far more than the $41,000 he took in from donors, and ended March with just over $2 million on hand.

The most prominent Republican in the contest for this redrawn constituency, which includes western Maryland and the D.C. exurbs, is Del. Neil Parrott, whom Trone turned back 59-39 last cycle. Parrott raised just $25,000 during the first three months of 2022 and had $262,000 in the bank, though contributors may take more of an interest in this race now that the 6th has become more competitive. State House Minority Leader Jason Buckel briefly considered running here as well before filing closed, but he decided to seek re-election instead.

NC-01: The state AFL-CIO has endorsed state Sen. Don Davis in the May 17 Democratic primary for this open seat.

NC-04: Protect Our Future PAC, the group funded by crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, is spending at least $771,000 to boost state Sen. Valerie Foushee in next month's Democratic primary for this safely blue seat.

NH-02: Brewery owner Jeff Cozzens announced Thursday that he was exiting the August Republican primary to take on Democratic incumbent Annie Kuster.  

OK-02: Republicans have a huge 14-person lineup to succeed Senate candidate Markwayne Mullin in an eastern Oklahoma seat that Trump would have carried 76-22, and there's no obvious frontrunner at this point. One contender, though, ended March with a big financial lead over their many foes:

  • Economy Pharmacy CEO Chris Schiller: $257,000 raised, additional $250,000 self-funded, $501,000 cash-on-hand
  • State Sen. Marty Quinn: $106,000 raised, additional $27,000 self-funded, $129,000 cash-on-hand
  • State Rep. Dustin Roberts: $83,000 raised, additional $25,000 self-funded, $105,000 cash-on-hand
  • Muskogee Chief of Police Johnny Teehee: $42,000 raised, additional $210,000 self-funded, $250,000 cash-on-hand
  • State party chair John Bennett: $27,000 raised, $23,000 cash-on-hand
  • State Rep. Avery Frix: $15,000 raised, additional $200,000 self-funded, $215,000 cash-on-hand

The race includes several other politicians who joined the race after the new fundraising quarter began:

  • businessman Guy Barker
  • former state Sen. Josh Brecheen
  • former state Rep. David Derby
  • former defense contractor Pamela Gordon
  • Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilor Wes Nofire

The remaining three Republicans don't appear to be serious contenders, though it's always possible one of them could advance to a runoff in this outsized field.

OR-06: Protect Our Future PAC has dropped an additional $1.9 million to aid economic development adviser Carrick Flynn in the May 17 Democratic primary for this newly created seat, which brings its total investment here to a staggering $7 million.

PA-08: 2020 Republican nominee Jim Bognet has launched the first ad for his rematch against Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright, and he quickly makes it clear what kind of campaign he'll be running when he opens, "In 2020, President Trump endorsed me for Congress. But that election was stolen from us."

RI-02: Former state Rep. David Segal declared Wednesday that he was joining the September Democratic primary for this open seat, an announcement that came almost two months after he began raising money for a potential campaign to succeed retiring Rep. Jim Langevin.

Segal, as we've written before, was active in Providence progressive politics in 2002 when he was elected to the City Council as a member of the Green Party, and he briefly served as the chamber's minority leader. After joining the Democrats and winning a seat in the state House, Segal ran for the 1st District in 2010, which was the last time Rhode Island had an open-seat race for Congress. He campaigned to the left of his many primary foes and ended up in third place with 20%; the winner, with 37%, was Providence Mayor David Cicilline, who still holds the district today. Segal didn't seek elected office in the ensuing decade, though he did found the national liberal organization Demand Progress.

SC-01: Big Lie enthusiast Katie Arrington has earned an endorsement from 2nd District Rep. Joe Wilson, who infamously shouted, "You lie!" at Barack Obama during a 2009 presidential address to Congress, for her campaign to beat incumbent Nancy Mace in the June Republican primary.  

VA-02: Candidate filing closed on April 7 for Virginia's June 21 primaries, and we'll be taking a look at the state of play in each competitive congressional race now that first quarter fundraising numbers are in; you can find a list of contenders here.

Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria is defending a Virginia Beach-based seat where, following redistricting, Joe Biden's margin of victory was halved from 51-47 to 50-48. National Republicans, including the deep-pocketed Congressional Leadership Fund, have consolidated behind state Sen. Jen Kiggans, who won her seat in a close 2019 general election campaign. Luria outraised Kiggans $1.2 million to $435,000 during the first three months of 2022 and ended March with a huge $3.16 million to $593,000 cash-on-hand.

Before she can go up against Luria, Kiggans needs to get past high school football coach Jarome Bell, a Big Lie fanatic who has the backing of 5th District Rep. Bob Good. Bell, who earned last place in the 2020 three-way primary with 23%, had a mere $9,000, though, so he may not be much of an obstacle for Kiggans, who has been happy to entertain election conspiracies herself.

VA-07: While some Northern Virginia Democrats initially expressed interest in waging a primary bid against Rep. ​​Abigail Spanberger after the new congressional map replaced much of her suburban Richmond base with turf in populous Prince William County, Spanberger will face no intra-party opposition. Those dramatic changes boosted Biden's margin from just 50-49 to 52-46, but six Republicans are hoping to take her on.

Both state Sen. Bryce Reeves and Green Beret veteran Derrick Anderson were running against Spanberger before the remap, and they've continued their campaigns here: Reeves outraised Anderson $269,000 to $232,000 during the most recent fundraising quarter, and he finished March with a small $390,000 to $371,000 cash-on-hand lead.

Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega, meanwhile, entered the race shortly after redistricting was completed, and she raised $357,000 in her first three months and had $294,000 to spend. Another new arrival, Stafford County Board of Supervisors Chair Crystal Vanuch, took in $82,000 but self-funded $402,000, which left her with $468,000 to spend. Spotsylvania County Supervisor David Ross, likewise, raised $42,000 and provided $101,000 more, which left him with a $121,000 war chest. The final Republican, 2021 state House nominee Gina Ciarcia, had less than $15,000 to spend. Spanberger herself raised $1.13 million to defend herself, and she finished March with $3.89 million in the bank.

ECU: The progressive group End Citizens United has endorsed six Democratic House contenders:

Attorneys General

ID-AG: While the Club for Growth doesn’t appear to have endorsed its old ally, former Rep. Raúl Labrador, in the May 17 Republican primary for attorney general, the group is spending nearly $300,000 to weaken five-term incumbent Lawrence Wasden. The commercial attacks Wasden for refusing to join 13 other GOP attorneys general in suing to overturn the Biden administration’s COVID relief bill, with the narrator arguing he “allowed Washington to shove their woke agenda down our throats.” The ad also goes after him for refusing to join the 2020 lawsuit aimed at overturning Biden’s win, saying he “looked the other way when election integrity hung in the balance.”

MD-AG: The Democratic primary to succeed retiring Democratic incumbent Brian Frosh is a duel between two well-connected candidates: Rep. Anthony Brown, who was the party's 2014 nominee for governor, and former Baltimore Judge Katie Curran O'Malley, who is the wife of former Gov. Martin O'Malley. The winner will be the heavy favorite in November for an office that the GOP last won in 1918.

MI-AG, MI-SoS: Michigan Republicans will hold a convention Saturday to choose their candidates to take on Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, races that Donald Trump has intervened in as he seeks to install adherents of the Big Lie into key offices like these nationwide. However, the weekend's results may not bring about a definitive resolution because the party's endorsement can be overturned in August with an affirmative vote of three-fourths of delegates, and at least one candidate hasn't ruled out pursuing this option if he loses.

MLive.com explains this strange state of affairs came about because, as GOP consultant John Sellek puts it, these springtime gatherings are "completely made up by the parties." Indeed, state law requires that the parties, rather than primary voters, pick their nominees for these offices (as well as for lieutenant governor) at conventions that take place in the "fall" (which has been interpreted, for some reason, to include August).

Democrats, though, decided several years ago that they wanted to choose their candidates far earlier in order to give them a head start for the general election. That's why they came up with the idea of the April endorsement convention, with the later event serving only to make the results official. (Michigan voters will select nominees in all other races in the state's Aug. 2 primary.)

Republicans decided to try this approach out themselves for the first time this cycle, but Trump's interventions have, unsurprisingly, complicated things. While many GOP leaders want their nominee for attorney general to be former state House Speaker Tom Leonard, who lost to Nessel by a close 49-46 margin in 2018, Trump has instead backed Matthew DePerno, an attorney who's made a name for himself advancing the conspiracy theories about the 2020 elections and recently called for the arrest of Nessel, Benson, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The GOP field also includes state Rep. Ryan Berman, who has tried to position himself as an alternative to Leonard and DePerno but has been willing to call out DePerno's lies. In the race for secretary of state, Trump is similarly pulling for Kristina Karamo, who has called the Jan. 6 insurrectionists "​​totally antifa posing as Trump supporters," to beat state Rep. Beau LaFave and Chesterfield Township Clerk Cindy Berry.

Sellek predicted that DePerno, who earlier this month called for his supporters to "storm" the county-level meetings where party activists pick delegates for the endorsement convention, would respond to a defeat on Saturday by trying to get the results overturned in August. Berman, though, was the only one who publicly addressed the idea, telling MLive, "It depends on what happens this weekend. We'll see how it plays out." Still, it would take quite a lot to convince 75% of the August delegates to adopt what Sellek called a "smash-glass-in-case-of-emergency" option.

And the glass may remain intact no matter what these insurgents might want. GOP co-chair Meshawn Maddock, who backs Trump's picks, predicted, "The party as a whole is going to coalesce around this team, starting Saturday afternoon," adding, "I will work my tail off for whatever candidates come out of this convention."

Former state party executive director Jason Roe, though, struck a very different tone when describing the stakes of the endorsement convention. "We're going to find out if we're going to be held hostage to second-tier candidates who can't win general elections in pursuit of genuflecting to the dear leader," he said, "or if we're going to focus on winning elections and making sure that conservatives control state government and make the policies that we all have to live under."

Morning Digest: Longtime congressman will retire rather than face Trump-backed colleague in primary

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

MI-04: Michigan Rep. Fred Upton, who was one of 10 Republicans to vote to impeach Donald Trump last year, announced Tuesday that he would not seek a 19th term this fall. In an email to supporters, Upton said he believed "it is time to pass the torch," though the person who will most likely be claiming that beacon in the new 4th Congressional District is his colleague and would-be primary foe, Trump-backed Rep. Bill Huizenga.

While it's possible that Upton's departure will entice someone else to run against Huizenga in the August GOP primary, they'd need to collect at least 1,000 valid signatures by the April 19 filing deadline. No notable Democrats have entered the race so far for the new version of the 4th, a southwestern Michigan seat Trump would have carried 51-47 in 2020.

Huizenga announced back in December, right after the state's new congressional maps were completed, that he'd be seeking re-election in the new 4th, and he earned an endorsement from Trump last month. Upton, by contrast, spent months keeping the political world guessing as to whether he'd go up against Huizenga in the primary or retire, though until Tuesday, it seemed that he had one more race in him: In February, Upton launched a $400,000 ad campaign in which he told viewers, "If you want a rubber stamp as your congressman, I'm the wrong guy. But if you want someone committed to solving problems, putting policy over politics, then I'm asking for your support."

Upton, though, said at the time that he was still undecided about 2022, and his retirement announcement proves he wasn't just playing coy. On Tuesday, he insisted that redistricting mattered more to him than any backlash from his impeachment vote, saying, "My district was cut like Zorro—three different ways." However, it was Huizenga who, at least on paper, was more disadvantaged by the new map: While about two-thirds of the residents of the new 4th are currently Upton's constituents, Huizenga represents only about a quarter of the seat he's now the frontrunner to claim.

Upton's decision ends a long career in politics that began in the late 1970s when he started working for local Rep. David Stockman, and he remained on his staff when Stockman became Ronald Reagan's first director of the Office of Management and Budget. In 1986, Upton decided to seek elected office himself when he launched a primary challenge to Rep. Mark Siljander, who had succeeded Stockman in the House in 1981, in an earlier version of the 4th District.

Siljander was an ardent social conservative well to the right of even Reagan: Among other things, he'd unsuccessfully tried to torpedo Sandra Day O'Connor's nomination to the Supreme Court in 1981 because he didn't feel she was sufficiently conservative, and he even threatened to vote against the White House's priorities in an attempt to thwart O'Connor. Siljander, though, had taken just 58% of the vote in his 1984 primary, which suggested that a significant number of primary voters were unhappy with him.

Upton argued that, while both he and Siljander were "conservative Republican[s]," the incumbent had ignored his constituents to focus on international issues. Upton, by contrast, insisted that he'd work better with the party's leadership and seek committee assignments that would allow him to direct his energies to domestic concerns. The race took a dark turn late in the campaign when audio leaked of Siljander telling local clergy members to aid him in order to "break the back of Satan," arguing that his loss "would send a shock wave across America that Christians can be defeated in Congress by impugning their integrity and smear tactics."

Upton ended up dispatching the congressman 55-45, a convincing thumping that both sides attributed to Siljander's comments. Upton's team, while denying that the outcome represented a loss for the religious right, predicted, "Fred's tactics will be much more moderate and more reasonable." Upton easily prevailed in the general election and had no trouble winning for decades; Siljander, for his part, was last in the news in late 2020 when Trump pardoned what an angry Upton described as "a series of federal crimes including obstruction of justice, money laundering and lobbying for an international terrorist group with ties to Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida and the Taliban."

In 2002, Upton easily turned back a primary campaign from state Sen. Dale Shugars 66-32 in what was now numbered the 6th District, but when the burgeoning tea party turned its wrath on establishment figures in 2010, the longtime congressman had become much more vulnerable to intra-party challenges. His opponent that year was former state Rep. Jack Hoogendyk, who had badly failed in his quest to unseat Democratic Sen. Carl Levin two years earlier but argued that Upton was insufficiently conservative. The congressman outspent Hoogendyk by an 18-to-1 margin but prevailed only 57-43, which enticed Hoogendyk to try again in 2012.

However, while the anti-tax Club for Growth ran commercials this time against Upton, who by now was chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, the incumbent worked hard to emphasize his opposition to the Obama administration and won by a larger 67-33 margin. That was the last time he faced a serious primary challenge at the ballot box, but in 2014 he went through his first expensive general election campaign when law professor Larry Lessig directed his Mayday PAC, which he called his "super PAC to end super PACs," to target Upton.

Mayday spent over $2 million to aid a previously unheralded Democrat named Paul Clements, and while Upton didn't come close to losing in that red wave year, Democrats hoped his 56-40 showing meant he could be beaten in a better political climate. Clements sought a rematch in 2016, but Upton won by a 59-36 spread.

In 2018, though, the congressman faced a considerably tougher battle against physician Matt Longjohn at a time when the GOP was on the defensive nationwide. Upton got some surprising help during that campaign when Joe Biden delivered a speech in his district that was paid in part by an Upton family foundation; Biden, who was apparently motivated to praise Upton because of the congressman's work on a bill called the 21st Century Cures Act, declared the congressman was "one of the finest guys I've ever worked with" and "the reason we're going to beat cancer." Ultimately, the congressman prevailed 50-46 in what was by far the closest race of his career. Afterwards, Longjohn’s campaign manager said Biden’s involvement was "brutal at the time and stings even more today."

Democrats hoped they could finally take Upton down in 2020, but Upton returned to form and beat state Rep. Jon Hoadley 56-40 as Trump was carrying his district 51-47. Two months later, Upton responded to the Jan. 6 attack by voting for impeachment, a vote that arguably did more than anything else to close out his lengthy time in Congress.

1Q Fundraising

  • PA-Sen: John Fetterman (D): $3.1 million raised, $4.1 million cash-on-hand
  • NH-Sen: Kevin Smith (R): $410,000 raised (in nine weeks)
  • FL-07: Rusty Roberts (R): $173,000 raised (in 10 days)
  • MI-12: Janice Winfrey (D): $200,000 raised (in six weeks)
  • OH-13: Emilia Sykes (D): $350,000 raised
  • RI-02: Joy Fox (D): $175,000 raised (in two months)
  • SC-01: Nancy Mace (R-inc): $1.2 million raised, $2.3 million cash-on-hand

Senate

AZ-Sen: Monday was the deadline for candidates to file for Arizona's Aug. 2 primary, and the state has a list of contenders here. We run down all the major contests in their respective sections of the Morning Digest, starting with the Senate race.

Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly won a tight 2020 election for the final two years of the late John McCain's term, and he'll be a top GOP target this fall as he seeks re-election. Five Republicans are running to take him on (though Gov. Doug Ducey, to the frustration of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is not one of them), and polls show that a large plurality of primary voters is undecided.

The most prominent contender may be state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, though he attracted heaps of abuse last year from Trump for not doing enough to advance the Big Lie. The only other current elected official is state Corporation Commissioner Justin Olson, but he's struggled to attract attention. The field also includes self-funding businessman Jim Lamon; former Thiel Capital chief operating officer Blake Masters, whose former boss is heavily financing a super PAC to boost him; and retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire.

OH-Sen: Venture capitalist J.D. Vance and former state Treasurer Josh Mandel are each running commercials for the May 3 Republican primary espousing ultra-conservative ideas as they attack the very idea that their beliefs could be racist.

Vance is pushing that message in what the GOP firm Medium Buying says is his first-ever TV ad, though his allies at Protect Ohio Values PAC have already spent over $6 million promoting him. "Are you a racist?" Vance begins as he points right at the camera, "Do you hate Mexicans? The media calls us racist for wanting to build Trump's wall." The Hillbilly Elegy author continues by accusing the media of censorship before proclaiming, "Joe Biden's open border is killing Ohioans with more illegal drugs and more Democrat voters pouring into this country." Mandel, meanwhile, exclaims, "There's nothing racist about stopping critical race theory and loving America."

On the Democratic side, former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau official Morgan Harper has launched what her campaign says is a six-figure opening ad buy. Harper describes her local roots and service in the Obama administration before trying to contrast herself with Rep. Tim Ryan, the frontrunner for the nod, by declaring, "I'm the only Democrat for Senate who's always supported Medicare for All and a $15 living wage, who's always been pro-choice, and supports expanding the Supreme Court to protect women's rights."

PA-Sen: Allies of Rep. Conor Lamb at a super PAC called Penn Progress just dropped the first negative TV ad of Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate primary, but there's a huge problem with the spot.

The narrator begins by asking, "Who can Democrats trust in the race for Senate?" and contrasts Lamb—"a former prosecutor and Marine"—with Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, "a self-described democratic socialist." The ad cites an NPR segment from 2020 for that claim about Fetterman, but at the bottom of the piece are not one but two correction notices that both read, "This story wrongly states that Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is a 'self-described democratic socialist.' He is not." Citing those corrections, attorneys for Fetterman's campaign sent a letter to TV stations demanding they take down the spot, calling it "false and defamatory."

Penn Progress responded by pointing to other news articles that have also called Fetterman a "self-described democratic socialist," but no one seems to have found a quote from Fetterman actually referring to himself this way. That's because, according to his campaign, no such quote exists. In their letter, Fetterman's lawyers say the candidate "has never described himself as a 'democratic socialist'" and link to a 2016 interview in which Fetterman says, "No, I don't label myself a democratic socialist."

Fetterman's team is seeking to have this advertisement bumped from the airwaves because TV and radio stations can be held liable for defamatory content in third-party ads. (Because they're obligated under federal law to run candidate ads so long as they're paid for, broadcasters aren't liable for the content of such spots.) On Tuesday evening, the Fetterman campaign said that one station, WPVI in Philadelphia, had complied with its request.

Aside from the factual blunder, Lamb's supporters may be making a political mistake as well: Attacking a rival as too liberal in a Democratic primary is rarely a winning move. If Penn Progress' ad gets bounced, it may actually be a blessing in disguise for the super PAC.

Separately, a new poll of the GOP primary from Public Opinion Strategies for Honor Pennsylvania finds hedge funder David McCormick (whom the group is backing) leading TV personality Mehmet Oz 22-16. In a previously unreleased POS poll from January, Oz enjoyed a 31-13 advantage, but both sides—and other candidates as well—have unleashed millions in attack ads since then.

SD-Sen: Candidate filing closed March 29 for South Dakota's June 7 primaries, and we'll be taking a look at the fields for any notable 2022 contests now that the Secretary of State's office has had a week to receive "the official certification(s) from county central committees or state political parties"; you can find a list of contenders here. A runoff would be required on Aug. 16 in the races for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and governor if no candidate wins at least 35% of the vote, but there aren't enough contenders in any of those races to make this a possibility. Note also that the parties hold nominating conventions (typically later in June) instead of primaries for several offices, including attorney general.

Donald Trump used the last days of his time on Twitter to rant in late 2020 that Republican Sen. John Thune "will be primaried in 2022, political career over!!!" but the Senate minority whip's political career seems like it will continue just fine. Only two little-known Republicans, Oglala Sioux tribal administrator Bruce Whalen and rancher Mark Mowry, ended up filing to take him on, despite Thune's long dalliance with retirement, and there's no indication that either poses a threat. Attorney Brian Bengs has the Democratic primary to himself in this very red state.

Ad Reservations: Last week we got preliminary information about the first fall TV bookings from the Democratic group Senate Majority PAC, and AdImpact now has full details about how much money is going into each reservation:

  • Arizona: $22.4 million
  • Georgia: $24.6 million
  • Nevada: $14.1 million
  • Pennsylvania: $25.8 million
  • Wisconsin: $11.7 million

Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada are Democratic-held, while SMP is going on the offensive in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. These are the first general election reservations we've seen from any major outside groups on the Senate side.

Governors

AL-Gov: Former Ambassador to Slovenia Lindy Blanchard is running more ads ahead of the May 24 Republican primary arguing that Gov. Kay Ivey is insufficiently conservative. One spot focuses entirely on attacking the governor, including a clip of her saying last year, "It's time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks." The other commercial tries to use the Big Lie against Ivey, with the narrator proclaiming, "Lindy believes the election was stolen from Trump. Kay Ivey thinks Biden's victory was legitimate."

Ivey, meanwhile, is running her own ads playing up her own far-right credentials. "The fake news, big tech, and blue state liberals stole the election from President Trump," says the governor, "but here in Alabama, we are making sure that never happens. We have not, and will not, send absentee ballots to everyone and their brother."

AZ-Gov: Both sides have competitive primaries to succeed termed-out GOP Gov. Doug Ducey in swingy Arizona. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has long looked like the frontrunner on the Democratic side, and she picked up an endorsement Tuesday from the state branch of the American Federation of Teachers. Her two intra-party foes are former state Rep. Aaron Lieberman and former Homeland Security official Marco López, who is a one-time mayor of Nogales.

Republicans, meanwhile, have six contenders. Trump has thrown his endorsement behind Kari Lake, a former local TV anchor turned conservative conspiracy theorist. The only current elected official, by contrast, is Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson, who is backed by former Govs. Jan Brewer and Fyfe Simington.

Another name to watch is former Rep. Matt Salmon, who narrowly lost the 2002 general election to Democrat Janet Napolitano; his second bid has the support of the Club for Growth as well as Reps. Andy Biggs and David Schweikert. There's also self-funding businessman Steve Gaynor, who narrowly lost the open-seat race for secretary of state to Hobbs in 2018. Businesswoman Paola Tulliani Zen, who founded a biscotti company, also attracted attention earlier this year when politicos learned she'd self-funded $1.2 million, but she hasn't otherwise generated much press. Neither has the sixth GOP candidate, Scott Neely.

NM-Gov: Former Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block uses his first spot for the June Republican primary to proclaim that he was "a day-one supporter of President Donald J. Trump," who badly lost New Mexico twice. The ad goes on to tout Block's conservative ideas, including his desire to "finish the border wall" and "block the COVID mandates," though at times the narrator's message almost gets drowned out by the commercial's loud music.

SD-Gov: Gov. Kristi Noem faces a Republican primary challenge from state Rep. Steve Haugaard, a former state House speaker who, believe it or not, is trying to run to the incumbent's right. Noem, though, has a massive financial edge over the challenger, as well as Trump's endorsement, and there's no indication yet that she's vulnerable. The winner will take on state House Minority Leader Jamie Smith, who faces no opposition in the Democratic primary.

TX-Gov: YouGov's new poll for the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation shows Republican Gov. Greg Abbott leading Democrat Beto O'Rourke 50-42 among likely voters.

House

AK-AL: 314 Action Fund, a group that supported independent Al Gross in his 2020 Senate race, has released a survey from the Democratic pollster Change Research that finds him locked in a close special election against former GOP Gov. Sarah Palin in the instant-runoff general election in August.

It's impossible to know which of the 48 candidates competing in the June top-four primary might advance to the general, but we know the final matchup will be different than the one Change polled because one of the candidates it included, Republican state Sen. Lora Reinbold, did not end up running; the survey was also conducted days before either Palin or the final Republican candidate tested, state Sen. Josh Revak, announced they were in.

The firm initially finds Gross leading Palin 33-30 in a hypothetical general election, with Revak and Reinbold at 9% and 8%, respectively. After the instant runoff process is simulated, not much changes, as Gross and Palin tie with 35% apiece, while 30% are undecided. In a separate question pitting the two head-to-head, however, Palin edges out Gross 42-40.

314 Action hasn't made an endorsement yet, but the organization made it clear it wanted Gross to win in its release, saying, "Dr. Al Gross has dedicated his life to improving health outcomes for Alaskans, and if elected to Congress he'll have a platform to craft policy that will do just that."

AZ-01: Republican Rep. David Schweikert is running for re-election in the revamped 1st District, a seat in eastern Phoenix and its eastern suburbs that's changed quite a bit from the 6th District he currently represents: While Trump would have carried his existing constituency 51-47, it’s Biden who would have taken the new 1st 50-49. (We explain the many changes to Arizona's congressional map here.)

Before he can focus on the general election, though, Schweikert needs to get past self-funder Elijah Norton in the primary. Norton has been attacking the ethics of the incumbent, who in 2020 agreed to pay a $50,000 fine, accept a formal reprimand, and admit to 11 different violations of congressional rules and campaign finance laws in a deal with the bipartisan House Ethics Committee to conclude a two-year investigation. Schweikert, though, has made it clear he'll focus on Norton's turbulent departure from his insurance company. The field also includes Josh Barnett, who badly lost to Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego last cycle in the safely blue 7th District.

Three Democrats are also competing for this competitive seat. The field consists of Jevin Hodge, who lost a tight 2020 race for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors; former Phoenix Suns employee Adam Metzendorf; and environmental consultant Ginger Sykes Torres, who has the backing of southern Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva.

AZ-02: Democratic Rep. Tom O'Halleran is defending a seat in northern and eastern rural Arizona that would have backed Trump 53-45, which is a significant shift from Biden's 50-48 win in the 1st District that he currently holds.

Seven Republicans are competing to take him on, and there's no obvious frontrunner at this point. The two elected officials in the running are state Rep. Walt Blackman and John Moore, the mayor of the tiny community of Williams. Also in the running are Navy SEAL veteran Eli Crane; Ron Watkins, the reputed founder of the QAnon conspiracy cult; and three others. Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer had announced he was running last month, but his name was not on the state’s final list of candidates.

AZ-04: Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton is defending the 4th District in the southern Phoenix suburbs that, at 54-44 Biden, is considerably less safe than the 9th District it replaces. Six Republicans are competing to take him on, including Tanya Wheeless, who served as a staffer to then-Sen. Martha McSally, and Chandler City Councilman Rene Lopez.

AZ-06: Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick announced her retirement last year before Arizona's Independent Redistricting Commission drew up a new 6th District in the Tucson area that Biden would have carried by a tiny 49.3-49.2 margin—a sizable drop from Biden’s 55-44 win in the old 2nd District.

The Democratic contest pits former state Rep. Daniel Hernández, who as an intern helped save then-Rep. Gabby Giffords after she was shot in 2011, against state Sen. Kirsten Engel; a third candidate, engineer Avery Anderson, hasn't earned much attention so far. The GOP frontrunner is Juan Ciscomani, a former senior advisor to Gov. Doug Ducey, though it remains to be seen if any of his four intra-party rivals can give him a serious fight.

FL-13: 2020 nominee Anna Paulina Luna, who has Trump's endorsement, has released a Spry Strategies poll that shows her again winning the August Republican primary. The firm gives Luna the lead with 35%, while prosecutor Kevin Hayslett and 2020 candidate Amanda Makki are tied for second with 9% each.

GA-07: NBC reports that Rep. Lucy McBath is spending $74,000 on her first TV ad for the May 24 Democratic primary, which features her visiting the grave of her son, Jordan Davis, as she describes how he was murdered by a gunman. (The commercial features surveillance footage from the gas station where Davis was killed, with someone responding to the sounds of gunfire, "Oh my God. Somebody's shooting!") McBath tells the audience, "My tragedy turned to purpose. In Congress, I'm fighting to protect voting rights, to lower prescription drug costs, and to prevent gun violence."

McBath's longtime allies at Everytown for Gun Safety are also spending $1 million to help her, which the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says will come in the form of digital and radio ads and a mail campaign. McBath has already benefited from $1 million in advertising from another group, Protect Our Future PAC, while fellow incumbent Carolyn Bourdeaux has not yet received any major outside support.

MD-01: Former Del. Heather Mizeur says she'll continue her campaign for the Democratic nod to take on Republican Rep. Andy Harris even though Trump would have carried the newest version of this seat by a tough 56-42 margin. Foreign policy strategist Dave Harden, who is the underdog in the July primary, also made it clear he'd remain in the race.

NH-01: The Associated Press reports that former Trump administration official Matt Mowers, one of the leading GOP candidates for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District, voted twice in the 2016 primaries, which would be a violation of federal law.

According to the AP, Mowers cast a ballot in New Hampshire's primary in February, when he was working for Chris Christie's presidential campaign. (Christie finished sixth with just 7% of the vote and quit the race the next day.) Mowers then voted in the June primary in his home state of New Jersey, a month after Donald Trump became the GOP's de facto nominee, though there were other races on the ballot that day as well.

Any statute of limitations has long run out, so Mowers—who has a page devoted to "election integrity" on his campaign website—would be able to evade any legal ramifications. Politically, though, it's a different story, as his rivals for the nomination to take on Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas immediately went on the attack. Mowers' campaign has so far declined to respond directly to the story.

SD-AL: Rep. Dusty Johnson faces a Republican primary challenge from state Rep. Taffy Howard, a Big Lie supporter who launched her bid last year insisting, "I believe there was fraud in the last election that needs to be investigated. Our current congressman is not willing to admit that there was an issue." No Democrat ended up filing to run for the state's only House seat.

TX-15: EMILY's List has endorsed businesswoman Michelle Vallejo in the May 24 Democratic primary runoff for this open seat. Vallejo will face Army veteran Ruben Ramirez, who led her 28-20 last month in the first round of the nomination contest.

TX-34 (special): Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has scheduled the special all-party primary to succeed former Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela for June 14, with the filing deadline set for April 13. A runoff date would only be scheduled if no one earns a majority of the vote in the first round.

Attorneys General

AZ-AG: Republicans have a six-way primary to succeed termed-out Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who is seeking Team Red's nod for U.S. Senate, and this is another nominating contest without an obvious frontrunner. The only Democrat, by contrast, is former Arizona Corporation Commission Chair Kris Mayes.

One familiar GOP contender is Tiffany Shedd, who lost a close general election last cycle in the 1st Congressional District against Rep. Tom O'Halleran. Another 2020 loser is Rodney Glassman, who narrowly failed to unseat the Maricopa County assessor in the primary; Glassman was the 2010 Democratic nominee against Sen. John McCain, but he now sports an endorsement from far-right Rep. Paul Gosar. The field also consists of two former prosecutors, Lacy Cooper and Abe Hamadeh; former Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew Gould; and manufacturing executive Dawn Grove.

TX-AG: YouGov surveys the May 24 Republican primary runoff for the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation and shows incumbent Ken Paxton fending off Land Commissioner George P. Bush 65-23, which is even larger than the 59-30 lead that CWS Research found in its recent poll for a pro-Paxton group. YouGov also has former ACLU attorney Rochelle Garza beating former Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski 46-31 for the Democratic nod.

YouGov tests hypothetical general election scenarios as well and finds that, despite his myriad of scandals, Paxton outperforms Bush. The attorney general leads Garza and Jaworski 48-42 and 48-41, respectively, while Jaworski edges out Bush 39-38 and Garza ties him at 39-all.

Secretaries of State

AZ-SoS: Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is running for governor, and four Republicans and two Democrats are running to replace her as this swing state's chief elections officer.

Donald Trump, unsurprisingly, has taken a strong interest in this contest and endorsed state Rep. Mark Finchem, a QAnon supporter who led the failed effort to overturn Joe Biden's 2020 victory and attended the Jan. 6 rally just ahead of the attack on the Capitol. Team Red's field also includes state Rep. Shawnna Bolick, who championed a bill that would have allowed the state legislature to decertify the state's presidential results at any point before Inauguration Day, and state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, who has sponsored some of the most aggressive new voting restrictions in Arizona. The final Republican contender is advertising executive Beau Lane.

Democrats, meanwhile, have a duel between state House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding and Adrian Fontes, who narrowly lost re-election in 2020 as Maricopa County clerk, the post responsible for election administration in the county.

Prosecutors

Maricopa County, AZ Prosecutor: Republican incumbent Alistair Adel resigned late last month as the top prosecutor of America's fourth-largest county over serious questions about her ability to manage her office, and one Democrat and three Republicans quickly collected the requisite signatures needed to compete in the special election to succeed her. The partisan primary and general elections will take place on the same days as the state's regularly scheduled statewide contests, and the winner will be up for a full term in 2024.

The only Democrat in the race is 2020 nominee Julie Gunnigle, who lost to Adel by a close 51-49. The GOP field consists of Anni Foster, who is Gov. Doug Ducey's general counsel; City of Goodyear Prosecutor Gina Godbehere; and prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, whom Senate Republicans hired in 2018 as a "female assistant" to question Brett Kavanaugh and accuser Christine Blasey Ford. A fourth Republican, attorney James Austin Woods, does not appear to have filed.