McConnell launches mad hunt for whoever whiffed Trump’s impeachment then backed his loser candidates

GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell knows who's to blame for Senate Republicans' midterm drubbing, and he is definitely not it.

“Look at Arizona, look at New Hampshire, and the challenging situation in Georgia as well,” McConnell said Tuesday, ticking through a list of once-promising GOP losses at his weekly press conference. “You have to have quality candidates to win competitive Senate races.”

McConnell stopped short of calling out Donald Trump by name, because god forbid he show some actual leadership. But every GOP candidate in those states—Blake Masters in Arizona, Don Bolduc in New Hampshire, and Herschel Walker in Georgia—had Trump's endorsement. In fact, Trump's heavy-handed backing was instrumental to the candidacies of both Masters and Walker.

Campaign Action

McConnell did, however, admit that he was basically powerless in the face of Trump.

“Our ability to control the primary outcome was quite limited in ‘22 because of the support of the former president proved to be very decisive in these primaries,” McConnell lamented.

Of course, McConnell bears as much responsibility as Trump for the Senate GOP’s pathetic cycle. In New Hampshire, McConnell tried desperately to recruit the state's highly popular GOP governor, Chris Sununu, to take on Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan. But after speaking with several members of the Senate GOP caucus, Sununu took a hard pass on jumping on that sorry do-nothing bandwagon. Instead, he ran for and secured a fourth term as governor.

The Senate GOP's Sununu misadventure highlighted the fact that Trump obviously wasn't the only hurdle to recruiting quality candidates. McConnell also tried to convince term-limited GOP Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to run for Senate to no avail. So let’s just be honest that the Senate GOP's lack of appeal to reasonably capable people certainly isn't on Trump—it's on McConnell.

Beyond his recruiting failures, McConnell also gave Walker his full-throated endorsement in the Georgia race.

"Herschel is the only one who can unite the party, defeat Senator Warnock, and help us take back the Senate," McConnell said in an October statement to Politico. "I look forward to working with Herschel in Washington to get the job done."

Walker not only failed to help Republicans take back the Senate, he didn’t exactly deliver as a uniter either.

Back at the post-election press conference, McConnell reflected on similar losses by fatally flawed Republican candidates in 2010 and 2012, saying the GOP had “unfortunately revisited that situation in 2022.”

Gee, Senator, if only there had been a way to avoid "that situation" again. If only Trump had, for instance, orchestrated a wildly unpopular insurrection against the U.S. government, leaving himself open to a career-ending impeachment.

The truth is, if McConnell hadn't miscalculated every step of this midterm cycle, perhaps he'd be poised right now to become the longest-serving Senate Majority Leader in U.S. history. Instead, he's devoting press conferences to excuse peddling for the GOP's anemic election showing.

If McConnell's still looking around for culprits, might be time to take a look in the mirror.

Related Articles:

Morning Digest: Oregon Republicans threatens suit to overturn election results because of attack ad

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. Click here to subscribe.

Leading Off

OR-06: Here's something you don't see often—or ever: Republican Mike Erickson released an internal poll showing him leading his Democratic opponent, Andrea Salinas, the very same day that he filed a lawsuit demanding Salinas take down an attack ad by citing a law that he recently threatened to use to overturn the election should he lose.

To pick apart this strange turn of events, we'll start with Erickson's survey from Cygnal, which shows him beating Salinas 44-39 in Oregon's brand new 6th District, a seat Joe Biden would have taken 55-42. The last polls we saw out of this district, which is based in the Salem area and Portland's southwestern suburbs, were both from mid-August: The GOP firm Clout Research gave Erickson an even larger 43-34 advantage, while a GBAO internal for Salinas had her up 48-45.

Despite these optimistic numbers for Republicans, however, both the Congressional Leadership Fund and the NRCC have so far avoided spending here, even though their opponents at the DCCC and House Majority PAC have together dropped over $1.4 million. Given the district's lean, it's exceedingly unlikely that the GOP's two biggest House groups have steered clear of this race because they feel supremely confident, especially since a conservative organization called Take Back Oregon PAC just launched a $300,000 TV buy this week.

Salinas' side has run several commercials focusing both on allegations that Erickson paid for a girlfriend to have an abortion in 2000—years before Herschel Walker did the same—as well as stories around his 2016 arrest. The latter is the focus of his new lawsuit and a cease and desist notice he recently sent to Salinas. In that letter, Erickson threatened to invoke a state law that the Oregon Capitol Chronicle writes "prohibits knowingly making false statements about a candidate, political committee or ballot measure."

Reporter Julia Shumway explains, "If a judge determines that a candidate made a false statement that cost their opponent an election, the law states that the candidate will be removed as a nominee or elected official." But she adds, "Over several decades, Oregon courts have interpreted that law to exclude opinions or statements that could reasonably be interpreted as true." It's also not clear whether this law has ever been successfully employed to reverse the results of an election, and Erickson's attorney, Jill Gibson, cited no such examples in her letter.

In his newly filed lawsuit, Erickson didn't actually present any demands regarding overturning the upcoming election but instead asked a state court to order Salinas to stop airing the ads in question and "to retract the false statements by airing correction advertisements with the same frequency and broadcast location as the false advertisements." He is also seeking $800,000 in monetary damages, which he claims would cover the cost of "commercials to correct the false statements."

The complaint insists that Salinas' ads are "false" because Erickson "has never been charged with illegal possession of drug." To that end, Gibson's letter cited a recent story from The Oregonian in which Hood River County District Attorney Carrie Rasmussen said that the court documents that those allegations came from were incorrect.

Instead, Erickson's attorney from that case, Tara Lawrence, insisted that she'd made a "mistake" by filing a plea agreement stating that the Rasmussen's office had "agreed to dismiss felony possession of controlled substance upon tender of guilty plea." An attorney for Salinas, however, cited that very statement in support of the ad's truthfulness in a letter and argued that "a charge is a charge, whether or not the DA files it."

Before Erickson filed his lawsuit, Salinas' campaign shrugged off his threats, saying in a statement, "Mike Erickson's threats to overturn the election if he doesn't win should raise major concerns for Oregonians who cherish democracy."

The Downballot

After an eruption of even more scandals among Republican Senate candidates, FiveThirtyEight's Nathaniel Rakich returns to The Downballot this week to discuss the effect these sorts of scandals can have on competitive races; whether Democrats stand a chance to keep the House; and the different ways pollsters create likely voter models.

Co-host David Beard and guest host Joe Sudbay also discuss Dr. Oz, puppy killer; the GOP's hypocrisy regarding Herschel Walker's ever-growing list of scandals; Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s desperate attempts to avoid testifying in an abortion case; and Brazil's presidential runoff, where former President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva remains the favorite despite far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro's better-than-expected first-round showing.

Please subscribe to The Downballot on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can also find a transcript for this week's episode right here.

3Q Fundraising

  • CO-Sen: Joe O'Dea (R): $2 million raised, additional $1 million self-funded
  • GA-Sen: Herschel Walker (R): $12 million raised, $7 million cash-on-hand
  • OH-Sen: Tim Ryan (D): $17.2 million raised
  • PA-Sen: John Fetterman (D): $22 million raised
  • WI-Sen: Mandela Barnes (D): $20 million raised
  • GA-Gov: Brian Kemp (R-inc): $29 million raised, $15.4 million cash-on-hand
  • OH-Gov: Mike DeWine (R-inc): $1.5 million raised (in September), $12.5 cash-on-hand; Nan Whaley (D): $1.2 million raised (in September), $3.9 million cash-on-hand
  • CA-22: Rudy Salas (D): $1.2 million raised
  • CO-08: Yadira Caraveo (D): $1.5 million raised, $550,000 cash-on-hand
  • FL-15: Alan Cohn (D): $400,000 raised
  • IA-02: Ashley Hinson (R-inc): $1.25 million raised, $1.7 million cash-on-hand
  • IL-17: Eric Sorensen (D): $1.5 million raised
  • MT-01: Monica Tranel (D): $1.1 million raised
  • NH-02: Annie Kuster (D-inc): $1 million raised, $2.6 million cash-on-hand
  • NM-02: Gabe Vasquez (D): $1.55 million raised
  • NY-18: Pat Ryan (D-inc): $2.25 million raised, $600,000 cash-on-hand; Colin Schmitt (R): $500,000 raised, $500,000 cash-on-hand
  • PA-17: Chris Deluzio (D): $1.4 million raised
  • VA-02: Jen Kiggans (R): $1 million raised
  • VA-07: Abigail Spanberger (D-inc): $2.2 million raised

Senate

CO-Sen: Ron Hanks, a far-right state representative who lost the June Republican primary to Joe O'Dea 54-46, announced this week that he was endorsing Libertarian Brian Peotter as "the only conservative on the ballot." Hanks made it clear exactly what he thought of his former intra-party rival in his statement, declaring, "There is only a fake Republican, a pay-to-play opportunist with no conservative values or agenda. He merits no support, and he's not likely to get much." Hanks added, "Let the COGOP know we will have a party with conservative principles, not squishy candidates with a power fetish."

GA-Sen: While Republican Herschel Walker has spent days insisting that he did he not pay for his then-girlfriend to have an abortion in 2009 and that he also doesn't know who his accuser could be, the Daily Beast reported Wednesday night that the woman in question had a child with Walker a few years after her abortion. The woman, whose identity the publication has withheld, said of Walker's denials, "Sure, I was stunned, but I guess it also doesn't shock me, that maybe there are just so many of us that he truly doesn't remember." She continued, "But then again, if he really forgot about it, that says something, too."

The next day, Walker held a press conference where he again denied that he even knew who this woman was. However, the Daily Beast further reported that back in June, when the site first broke the news that Walker was father to three previously undisclosed children, the candidate himself had confirmed she was the mother of one of them.

Just before these latest developments, Walker released an ad against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock that played footage of a Democratic commercial focused on reports that the Republican had threatened to kill his ex-wife. "As everyone knows, I had a real battle with mental health—even wrote a book about it," Walker declared. CNN's Andrew Kaczynski quickly noted that this spot, which was aired "presumably in response to Daily Beast story," mentioned Walker's 2008 memoir, which was published the year before the candidate allegedly paid for the abortion.

NC-Sen: NBC reports that Senate Majority PAC has booked an additional $4 million to help Democrat Cheri Beasley, a move that will bring its total spending here to $10.5 million. The reservation comes at a time when Republican outside groups have been deploying considerably more money here than Democrats: While Politico reported Tuesday that Beasley has outspent Republican Ted Budd by $9 million in advertising, data from OpenSecrets shows that Budd's super PAC allies have outpaced Beasley’s supporters $34.9 million to $7.8 million.

NE-Sen: Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse announced on Thursday that he would resign to become president of the University of Florida, which has named the Republican as the sole finalist for the post. Multiple media outlets report that Sasse's departure will occur before the end of the year, which would allow Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, who will leave office in early 2023, to appoint a successor. The Nebraska Examiner says that a special election would take place for the final two years of Sasse's term in 2024, when fellow GOP Sen. Deb Fischer will also be up.

Sasse held the post of president of Midland University in Nebraska when he entered the 2014 primary to succeed Sen. Mike Johanns, a fellow Republican who unexpectedly decided to retire after one term. Sasse had the backing of the deep-pocketed Club for Growth but still looked like the underdog for most of his campaign against former state Treasurer Shane Osborn, a retired Navy pilot who was detained by China in 2001 after his plane collided with a Chinese fighter.

Osborn's bid, however, began to fall apart weeks before the primary after the media reported that he'd distributed a bogus Navy memo to defend his decision to land in China. Sasse soon pulled ahead in the polls, while his allies took action late in the campaign to stop a third contender, wealthy banking executive Sid Dinsdale, from sneaking through. Ultimately, Sasse beat Dinsdale by a convincing 49-22 margin, and he easily won the general election in this red state.

The new senator became a media favorite in D.C., especially after he emerged as a loud Donald Trump critic during the 2016 campaign, saying at one point that "if the Republican Party becomes the party of David Duke, Donald Trump, I'm out." Sasse, though, was anything but out after Trump took the White House, and while he still vocally trashed him at times, the senator nevertheless loyally voted the administration's way.

There was talk in 2020 that Sasse could be on the receiving end of a Trump-inspired primary challenge, but no one serious emerged even before Trump himself endorsed the incumbent. Sasse had no trouble winning a second term, though he went on to become one of seven Senate Republicans to vote to convict Trump the next year following his second impeachment. The Nebraskan, though, still voted the party line on all other major issues.

UT-Sen: Put Utah First, a group funded by Democratic megadonor Reid Hoffman, has dropped another $900,000 to aid conservative independent Evan McMullin, which takes its total investment here to $2.65 million.

Polls:

  • AZ-Sen: SSRS for CNN: Mark Kelly (D-inc): 51, Blake Masters (R): 45
  • IA-Sen: Cygnal (R) for Iowans for Tax Relief: Chuck Grassley (R-inc): 54, Mike Franken (D): 40 (July: 52-43 Grassley)
  • NV-Sen: SSRS for CNN: Adam Laxalt (R): 48, Catherine Cortez Masto (D-inc): 46

Governors

OR-Gov: Republican Christine Drazan has debuted a commercial accusing Democrat Tina Kotek of blocking an investigation into sexual abuse allegations, but The Oregonian's Jamie Goldberg writes, "Even by the traditionally loosened standards for political ads, that assertion is untrue, according to independent investigations and news reports."

Drazan's commercial declares that as speaker of the state House, Kotek "blocked an investigation into repeated sexual abuse because she was worried about how it would make her look." The complaints in question were about Republican Jeff Kruse—a member of the state Senate, not the state House. Unsurpirsingly, the speaker noted after the allegations became public that she had no influence over members of the upper chamber and said she did not have knowledge of the complaints against Kruse.

Goldberg writes, "No subsequent news reporting has showed Kotek covered up sexual abuse, although she did provide privacy to some victims who spoke up after 2018 to allege harassment by House members." The speaker was one of several lawmakers who initially refused to comply when the state Labor Bureau issued subpoenas after legislative attorneys argued the requests documents could reveal the identity of Kruse's accusers, but Goldberg says that a court order ultimately led Kotek and others to comply.

Polls:

  • AZ-Gov: SSRS for CNN: Katie Hobbs (D): 49, Kari Lake (R): 46
  • IA-Gov: Cygnal (R) for Iowans for Tax Relief: Kim Reynolds (R-inc): 59, Deidre DeJear (D): 38 (July: 56-41 Reynolds)
  • MN-Gov: SurveyUSA for KSTP: Tim Walz (D-inc): 50, Scott Jensen (R): 40 (Sept.: 51-33 Walz)
  • NV-Gov: SSRS for CNN: Joe Lombardo (R): 48, Steve Sisolak (D-inc): 46

House

FL-13: Progress Pinellas has dropped another $2.2 million to support Democrat Eric Lynn, which takes its total investment here to $6.7 million. The Tampa Bay Times reported in April that the group is funded by hedge fund manager Justin Ishbia, a Lynn cousin who usually contributes to Republicans.

MI-07: The Congressional Leadership Fund is running a new ad attacking Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin over recent reports that she’s been leasing a condo from a donor named Jerry Hollister, who serves as director of government relations for a medical manufacturing company called Niowave. CLF cites a Detroit News story noting that Slotkin had signed a 2020 letter supporting a Department of Energy program that awarded a total of $28 million to Niowave in 2019 and 2021, which the narrator suggests is "shady."

Slotkin's campaign responded to the initial stories by noting that she never mentioned Niowave in that missive, and that the Republican she defeated in 2018, Rep. Mike Bishop, had previously signed a similar letter. Her team declared the congresswoman had "never done anything in Congress that inappropriately benefits his company" and that she was "paying market rate rent to a landlord, just like thousands of mid-Michiganders."

MN-02: The Minnesota Reformer's Deena Winter reported Wednesday that, while Republican Tyler Kistner spent his unsuccessful 2020 campaign suggesting that he'd been in combat, Marine records show that was never the case. Winter notes that Kistner, who is again the GOP nominee, would have received a combat action ribbon had he seen battle, which he's acknowledged he doesn't have.

Two years ago, Kistner was facing off against several fellow Republicans, including Air Force veteran Erika Cashin, ahead of the GOP party convention, where Minnesota nominations are often decided. Kistner said at the time he couldn't turn over documents about his service, but he declared in the lead up to the gathering that he'd put the enemy "six feet under" and had "been on the wrong end of a loaded weapon." The candidate also referenced the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and said, "I've been in such conflicts."

Cashin said in response at the time, "Tyler Kistner has said he is 'the most decorated military member in this race,' and has made multiple statements needing clarification." She also challenged him to release his records, arguing, "Tyler can put these questions to rest by simply releasing his DD 214 and proving what he has said is true." Kistner, though, won the party endorsement without publicizing those documents, and Cashin and his other foes dropped out afterwards rather than go on to the primary. Kistner ultimately lost the general election to Democratic Rep. Angie Craig 48-46.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, which is backing Kistner's second bid to unseat Craig, had been airing an ad saying he'd been in "four combat deployments." The progressive group VoteVets, though, asked stations to take down these spots because Kistner had actually served in Japan and Korea, which are not combat zones. CLF, for its part, claims it distributed an "incorrect version of the ad and fixed it ourselves on the same day."

A Kistner consultant named Billy Grant insisted his client had never lied during the 2020 race. Grant told Winter that the "six feet under" line referred to an operation where a "partner force effectively killed more than eight violent extremist organizations in the North African region," where Kistner helped coordinate the evacuation of seven injured soldiers. Grant also argues that Kistner had been telling the truth about being on the "wrong end of a loaded weapon" because he'd gotten into an argument with an allied commander who had pulled a gun on him before the matter was resolved.

NY-11, NY-19: Siena College is out with a pair of surveys for Spectrum News giving each party the lead in a New York House contest.

Over in the 11th District, which includes all of Staten Island and a portion of Brooklyn, freshman Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis enjoys a 49-43 edge in her rematch against Democrat Max Rose. The sample also finds Republican Lee Zeldin with a small 46-42 advantage against Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul in a constituency Trump would have taken 53-46.

In the Hudson Valley-based 19th, meanwhile, Siena has Democrat Josh Riley beating Republican Marc Molinaro 46-41. The school also finds Zeldin ahead 46-45 in this swingy turf, which would have backed Biden 51-47.

Attorneys General & Secretaries of State

AZ-SoS, NV-SoS: SSRS, polling for CNN, finds election deniers with small leads in a pair of secretary of state races taking place in crucial swing states. Mark Finchem posts a 49-45 edge over Democrat Adrian Fontes in Arizona, while fellow Republican Jim Marchant enjoys a similar 46-43 edge against Cisco Aguilar in Nevada. Last week, the progressive group End Citizens United released internals from GSG showing Fontes ahead 46-44. Fontes is also getting some new outside support, as CNN reports that the Democratic organization iVote will spend $5 million to aid him.

IA-AG: The Republican firm Cygnal's new survey for the conservative Iowans for Tax Relief shows Republican Brenna Bird outpacing longtime Democratic Attorney General Tom Miller 46-43. Back in July, Cygnal found Miller, who is seeking a historic 11th term, ahead by a narrow 45-44 margin.

IN-SoS: IndyPolitics.com recently published a story in which two women charged that Diego Morales, who is the Republican nominee for secretary of state, sexually harassed and groped them. One said the incident took place in 2007, while the other said her encounter with Morales took place a few years later. Morales soon put out a statement saying, "The claims being made against me are false and I unequivocally deny all of them." He faces Democrat Destiny Wells in November.

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: Senate GOP has a big ad spending edge, but Democrats get more ‘bang for their buck’

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

Senate: NBC reports that Republicans have outspent Democrats $106 million to $93 million over the last three weeks across the nine Senate battlegrounds, but, because so many GOP candidates are relying on super PACs to make up for their underwhelming fundraising, they aren't getting as much "bang for their buck" as their rivals. That's because, as we've written before, FCC regulations give candidates—but not outside groups—discounted rates on TV and radio.

Perhaps no race better demonstrates this in action than the Arizona Senate race. The GOP firm OH Predictive Insights relays that during the week of Sept. 19, Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly and his allies outspent Republican Blake Masters' side 52-48 in advertising. Anyone just looking at raw dollar amounts would conclude that the two parties aired about the same number of ads during this period, but that's not the case at all. In reality, Kelly's side had a 4-1 advantage in ​​gross ratings points, which measure how many times, on average, members of an ad's target audience have seen it.

Republicans can blame Masters, whom NBC says has spent all of $9,000 on ads during most of September, for much of the imbalance. The Senate Leadership Fund last week canceled all its planned ad time in Arizona while arguing that other super PACs would step in, and this data shows why Masters badly needs this prediction to finally come true.

Outside groups, though, can still air more ads than well-funded candidates if they're willing and able to spend massive amounts the way the GOP is in Ohio. Cleveland.com's Andrew Tobias reports that Republicans are airing 20% more commercials than their Democratic foes in the Buckeye State after spending or reserving almost three times as much. Democrat Tim Ryan, writes Tobias, is responsible for 83% of the ads coming from his side compared to just 8% for Vance, but the Senate Leadership Fund has committed $28 million here to bail out its underwhelming nominee.

Senate

NC-Sen: Both Democrat Cheri Beasley and her allies at Senate Majority PAC are airing new commercials charging that when Republican Ted Budd's farm company, AgriBioTech, went bankrupt in 2000, it chose to repay itself rather than pay back the small farmers and creditors it owed millions to. "The Budds took $10 million and left over 1,000 farmers holding the bag," Beasley's narrator argues, while SMP declares, "One grower said, 'we were the little guy,' 'we got screwed.'"

The story was first reported last year by the Washington Post's Michael Kranish, who wrote that "a trustee for farmers and other creditors alleged that his [Budd's] father, Richard Budd, improperly transferred millions of dollars in assets to his family, including Ted Budd." The candidate was not an official at ABT, though the story identifies him as a "significant shareholder." The trustee, which named him as a defendant in their civil case, also accused Budd of having "acted in concert" with his father "in connection with the fraudulent transfers."

The matter was ultimately settled in 2005, with Kranish saying that the "Budd entities" agreed to pay "less than half of the amount initially earmarked for the farmers and other creditors" without admitting to any wrongdoing. The settlement left some bad feelings, though, with one Wyoming farmer telling the Post, "We got screwed and there was not a freaking thing we could do about it. There was no way to fight multimillionaires."

Richard Budd, who became chief executive of ABT after it bought his family's seed company, defended the candidate to Kranish, arguing, "Your attempts to tie my son to this business are dishonest and offensive. I wish my personal efforts to save ABT had been successful, but they were not." Ted Budd's campaign also denied any wrongdoing, saying the trustee's claims were "untrue allegations that are typical in that sort of litigation."

Budd and his allies at the Senate Leadership Fund, meanwhile, are each running commercials arguing that Beasley wants 87,000 more IRS agents, which continues to be a popular line of attack in GOP ads across the country. As we've written before, the agency reportedly will use the funds provided by the Inflation Reduction Act to replace many of the nearly 50,000 of its employees who could retire over the next five years. Many of the thousands of newly created IRS jobs beyond those positions would be in customer service and information technology.

And while the SLF has run ad after ad accusing Democrats of hating the police, its own commercial features menacing footage of what NBC says is "police raids and special agents at a gun range." Those videos accompany the narrator's prediction that "Beasley's gonna knock on your door with an army of new IRS agents" and that she "backs the liberal scheme to spend billions auditing the middle class, sending the IRS beast to collect her taxes on working families."

However, even Trump-appointed IRS Director Charles Rettig has stated that the agency would not crack down on those making less than $400,000, explaining that the beefed up enforcement of tax evasion would only target corporations and the richest 1-2% of households.

PA-Sen: John Fetterman is airing another commercial pushing back on Republican Mehmet Oz and his allies' ads hitting the Democrat's work as head of the state Board of Pardons, which has been the GOP's favorite line of attack in the general election.

"Here's the truth: John gave a second chance to those who deserved it―nonviolent offenders, marijuana users," Montgomery County Sheriff Sean Kilkenny tells the audience, continuing, "He voted with law enforcement experts nearly 90% of the time. He reunited families and protected our freedom―and he saved taxpayer money." Kilkenny adds, "Dr. Oz doesn't know a thing about crime. He only knows how to help himself."

The GOP, though, is trying to push a very different line. Some of the party's favorite targets have been Lee and Dennis Horton, brothers who spent 27 years in prison after being convicted of second degree murder. The two in 1993 gave a ride to a friend named Robert Leaf who had just killed someone in a robbery, though they have always maintained that they didn't know Leaf had just committed murder. Gov. Tom Wolf last year commuted the Hortons' life sentences after Fetterman and prison officials championed their case, and the two went on to take jobs on Fetterman's Senate campaign.

Oz's campaign, though, has been happy to try to turn them into a liability for their boss, saying, "If John Fetterman cared about Pennsylvania's crime problem, he'd prove it by firing the convicted murderers he employs on his campaign." Fetterman, for his part, told the New York Times that if Republicans "destroy" his political career for advocating for people like the Hortons, "then so be it."

Polls:

AZ-Sen: Suffolk University for the Arizona Republic: Mark Kelly (D-inc): 49, Blake Masters (R): 42, Marc Victor (L): 2

NC-Sen: GSG (D) for Cheri Beasley: Cheri Beasley (D): 46, Ted Budd (R): 46 (May: 45-45 tie)

OH-Sen: Siena College for Spectrum News: Tim Ryan (D): 46, J.D. Vance (R): 43

PA-Sen: InsiderAdvantage (R) for WTXF-TV: John Fetterman (D): 45, Mehmet Oz (R): 42

PA-Sen: Marist College: Fetterman (D): 51, Oz (R): 41

Governors

PA-Gov: Campaign finance reports covering the period of June 7 to Sept. 19 are out, and they show that Democrat Josh Shapiro's $25.4 million haul utterly dwarfed the $3.2 million that Republican Doug Mastriano took in. Shapiro goes into the final weeks with a $10.9 million to $2.6 million cash-on-hand edge over Mastriano, who still has not so much as reserved any TV time and who recently lamented he's "[r]eally not finding a lot of support from the national-level Republican organizations."

P.S. Politico's Holly Otterbein flags that Mastriano received a $500 donation from Andrew Torba, the founder of the white supremist social network Gab. That's still far less than the $5,000 that Mastriano paid Gab in April for "campaign consulting," though.

Polls:

AZ-Gov: Suffolk University for the Arizona Republic: Katie Hobbs (D-inc): 46, Kari Lake (R): 45

CT-Gov: Western New England University for CTInsider and WFSB: Ned Lamont (D-inc): 55, Bob Stefanowski (R): 40

ME-Gov: University of New Hampshire: Janet Mills (D-inc): 53, Paul LePage (R): 39, Sam Hunkler (I): 1

OH-Gov: Siena College for Spectrum News: Mike DeWine (R-inc): 55, Nan Whaley (D): 32

PA-Gov: InsiderAdvantage (R) for WTXF-TV: Josh Shapiro (D): 52, Doug Mastriano (R): 37

PA-Gov: Marist College: Shapiro (D): 53, Mastriano (R): 40

Quinnipiac University last week gave Lamont a similar 57-40 lead in its home state.

Early September numbers from the progressive Maine People's Resource Center showed Mills up 49-38 in a race that hasn't gotten much attention from pollsters.

House

MT-01: Democrat Monica Tranel has publicized an internal from Impact Research that shows her trailing Republican Ryan Zinke only 45-43 in this newly-created seat in the western part of the state. This is the first poll we've seen from this 52-45 Trump constituency.

House: The Washington Post reports that top allies of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy were involved in a serious effort to deny the GOP nod to several House candidates they feared would either threaten his power or prove to be weak general election candidates, a drive the paper says they concealed during the primaries by sending cash "from top GOP donors through organizations that do not disclose their donors or have limited public records."

Their most prominent target was North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who was a massive pain even before the far-right freshman claimed that an unidentified colleague had invited him to an "orgy" and that he'd witnessed prominent conservatives doing "a key bump of cocaine." Cawthorn lost renomination to state Sen. Chuck Edwards after a group called Results for N.C. spent $1.7 million against the incumbent, and the Post writes that two McCarthy allies were part of its effort.

The paper adds that the minority leader's people were involved in the successful drives to block Anthony Sabatini in Florida's 7th District and Carl Paladino in New York's 23rd, who were each attacked by a newly-established group called American Liberty Action PAC. Both men blamed McCarthy for what happened, and the Post writes that his allies were indeed working to stop them: "They would have been legislative terrorists whose goal was fame," explained one unnamed source.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, which is close to the GOP leadership, also openly got involved in several more primaries, though it got decidedly mixed results for the $7 million it spent. CLF's ads helped secure general election berths for California Reps. Young Kim and David Valadao; Mississippi Rep. Michael Guest; and Nevada Rep. Mark Amodei. CLF also managed to advance Morgan Luttrell through the primary for Texas' open 8th District over a candidate backed by the troublesome Freedom Caucus, while it spent $40,000 on get out the vote calls for Florida Rep. Daniel Webster.

The super PAC, though, failed to get its preferred nominees across the finish line elsewhere. In Arizona's 4th, restaurateur Kelly Cooper overcame $1.5 million in CLF spending meant to ensure that establishment favorite Tanya Wheeless was Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton's rival instead. Democrats have since launched commercials faulting Cooper for, among other things, having "compared federal law enforcement agents to Nazis and the Gestapo."

CLF also fell short in its efforts to block Karoline Leavitt in New Hampshire's 1st and Brandon Williams in New York's 22nd, while another organization it funded couldn't prevent Joe Kent from beating out Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in the top-two primary.

But CLF's worst failure is arguably in North Carolina's 1st District where its $600,000 offensive wasn't enough to stop Sandy Smith. Democrats have spent the general election running commercials focusing on the abuse allegations that surfaced against her during the May primary, including a new spot highlighting how her daughter and two former husbands have accused her of domestic violence.

Obituaries

Mark Souder: Indiana Republican Mark Souder, who was elected to the House during the 1994 red wave but resigned in 2010 after revealing an affair with a staffer, died Monday at the age of 72. Souder, who was perhaps best known for his advocacy of abstinence education, was an ardent conservative, though he defied his party leaders in two notable occasions early in his career: Souder was part of the failed 1997 revolt against Newt Gingrich, and he voted against two of the four articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton the next year.

Souder got his start as an aide to then-Rep. Dan Coats, and in 1994 he decisively won a six-way primary to reclaim the Fort Wayne-based 4th District that Coats had once represented. Souder’s opponent was Democratic incumbent Jill Long Thompson, who pulled off a big upset in the 1989 special to replace Coats after he was appointed to replace Vice President Dan Quayle in the Senate. However, while Thompson had convincingly won her next two terms, the terrible climate for her party powered Souder to a 55-45 win in this historically Republican area.

Souder quickly became entrenched in his new seat, which was renumbered the 3rd District in the 2002 round of redistricting: The congressman only failed to win by double digits once when he turned back Democrat Tom Hayhurst 54-46 during the 2006 blue wave. However, Souder became a tea party target in 2010 after supporting the 2008 Troubled Asset Relief Program and later the Obama administration’s Cash for Clunkers program.

Souder ended up turning back self-funding auto dealer Bob Thomas by an unimpressive 48-34 margin, but he had very little time to enjoy his win. Just weeks later, the married congressman announced, “I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff,” and that he’d be resigning over the scandal. Souder, whose marriage survived the ordeal, never ran for office again, though he became a regular columnist for the Indiana tip-sheet Howey Politics and wrote extensively about Fort Wayne’s local TV and baseball history.

Ad Roundup

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

Morning Digest: Democratic ads hit extreme anti-choice GOP candidates with their own words

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.

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Tennessee held its primary Thursday, and you can find the results here. We’ll have a recap in our next Digest.

Leading Off

Abortion: We wondered shortly after Roe v. Wade was overturned in late June if Democratic campaigns would continue to focus hard on abortion rights this cycle, and the answer is a resounding yes. Team Blue is airing new commercials in the races for Arizona's U.S. Senate seat and governor of Michigan that each use footage of the newly minted Republican nominees, Blake Masters and Tudor Dixon, expressing extreme anti-choice views, while Team Blue has also kept up the offensive in other races across the country.

We'll start in Arizona, where Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly quickly opens with clips of Masters proclaiming, "I think Roe v. Wade was wrong. It's always been wrong … It's a religious sacrifice to these people, I think it's demonic." The audience later hears the Republican argue, "The federal government needs to step in and say no state can permit abortion … You make it illegal and you punish the doctors."

Kelly's allies at Senate Majority PAC are also hammering Masters on abortion rights in a new $1.2 million ad campaign, though they're adopting a different messaging strategy. The commercial stars a woman identified as Brianna who explains, "Three years ago, I had an ectopic pregnancy, and if I didn't make it into the OR within a couple minutes, I was going to bleed out and die." She continues, "But according to Blake Masters, that's just too bad. He wants to ban all abortions, even in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother." Brianna ends by saying that if Masters had his way, her three children would have lost their mother.

Meanwhile in Michigan, a DGA-backed group called Put Michigan First makes use of a debate clip where Dixon answers in the negative when asked, "Are you for the exemptions for rape and incest?" The spot then plays footage of podcaster Charlie LeDuff asking the candidate, "The question would be like, a 14-year-old who, let's say, is a victim of abuse by an uncle, you're saying carry that?" Dixon responds, "Yeah, perfect example." When Dixon is asked in an interview with MIRS if she'd provide an exception for "health of the mother," she replies, "No exceptions."

Over in Virginia's 2nd Congressional District, Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria's commercial takes Republican state Sen. Jen Kiggans to task for celebrating when Roe was overturned. In Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams is airing a spot where several women warn that, under a law signed by Gov. Brian Kemp, they could be "investigated and imprisoned for a miscarriage."

And back in Arizona, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Katie Hobbs proclaims she'll "protect a woman's right to choose, fix our schools, and lower costs." Other recent Hobbs ads also attack each of the GOP frontrunners, former TV news anchor Kari Lake and Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson, for opposing abortion rights. (Hobbs began airing her ads as Tuesday's GOP primary was still too close to call.)

Republicans, by contrast, have been reluctant to discuss abortion at all in their general election commercials even before this week's big defeat for anti-choice forces in Kansas. One notable exception came last month when Mark Ronchetti, who is Team Red's nominee for governor of New Mexico, argued that his policy to restrict the procedure to the first 15 weeks of pregnancy was reasonable and that Democratic incumbent Michelle Lujan Grisham was "extreme" for supporting "abortion up to birth."

Most Republicans, though, remain content to avoid the topic altogether. Masters, for his part, is spending at least $650,000 on an opening general election ad campaign starring his wife, who says he's running because he loves the country and the state. (Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin points out that Masters just days ago was campaigning as a conservative border warrior who warned, "There's a genocide happening in America.") The RGA, meanwhile, is attacking Hobbs on border security―but not abortion.

Senate

AZ-Sen: Republican Blake Masters' allies at Saving Arizona PAC have dusted off a mid-July internal from Fabrizio, Lee & Associates that shows him trailing Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly 49-44, which is identical to what OnMessage Inc. found in a more recent survey for another conservative group. Both firms are releasing these unfavorable numbers to argue that the political climate will be a big asset to Masters.

Governors

FL-Gov: St. Pete Polls' newest survey for Florida Politics finds Rep. Charlie Crist beating Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in a 56-24 landslide in the first poll we've seen in nearly a month for the Aug. 23 Democratic primary.

Fried's allied PAC, meanwhile, is running the first negative commercial of the race, and it goes after Crist for appointing an "anti-choice extremist" to the state Supreme Court when he was Florida's Republican governor. The spot also features footage from this year of Crist saying, "I'm still pro-life," though it doesn't include him continuing, "meaning I'm for life. I hope most people are." (Crist used that same interview to express his regret over his anti-abortion judicial picks.) Politico says the spot is airing in the Orlando market, which covers about 20% of the state.

RI-Gov: Gov. Dan McKee has secured an endorsement from RI Council 94, which is Rhode Island's largest state employee union, for the Sept. 13 Democratic primary. Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, meanwhile, has earned the backing of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals, which is one of the state's two teachers unions: The other, the NEA, is for McKee.

WI-Gov: Wealthy businessman Tim Michels said just one month ago that "[w]hen politicians are shocked to find themselves losing, they go negative out of desperation," but you can probably guess what he's now doing days ahead of Tuesday's Republican primary. Yep, the Trump-endorsed candidate is airing his first attack ad against former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, whom Michels' narrator dubs "the ultimate Madison insider" and a "[p]ro-China, pro-amnesty, anti-Trump politician."

Kleefisch and her allies went on the offensive in early July, with the former lieutenant governor arguing that Michels "pushed for years to raise our gas tax while getting rich from massive government contracts." That prompted Michels to put out a statement bemoaning that "it is sad that the former Lieutenant Governor has decided to go negative by falling in line with politics as usual."

The anti-tax Club for Growth was all too happy to attack Kleefisch last month, but Michels himself insisted as recently as Monday that he was still taking the high road. "I've never had a negative ad run by my campaign in this race," he said, explaining, "And the reason is we've never had a single piece of business by talking bad about the competition." Michels added, "And the reason is, it's just bad policy, and if you get a reputation of doing that in my industry … people immediately disrespect you."

So why did Michels decide to court disrespect and try out some "bad policy" just days later? Kleefisch's team, of course, told the Associated Press' Scott Bauer that this about-face proves their candidate "has all the momentum." Michels' own spokesperson, though, also hinted that they felt the ads were doing them some real damage, arguing, "When your opponent does that for weeks on end, it can't go unanswered forever."

Unfortunately, we have almost no recent polling to indicate if either of the candidates campaigning to take on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers are going "negative out of desperation." The one and only survey we've seen in the last month was a mid-July internal for a pro-Michels group that had him up 43-35, numbers that are quite dusty now.

Whatever the case, things may get a whole lot uglier on Friday when Trump, who has zero qualms about "talking bad about the competition," holds his pre-primary rally in Waukesha County. (You may have heard a few jokes about it if you've ever logged onto Twitter in the last decade.) We got a taste for Trump's dislike of the former lieutenant last month when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Daniel Bice reported that Trump used his April meeting with Michels to bring up a 2019 picture of Kleefisch's daughter going to her high school prom with the son of state Supreme Court Justice Brian Hagedorn.

The elder Hagedorn went straight to the MAGA doghouse the next year when he provided the crucial vote to stop Trump's attempts to steal the election, and Bice reports that he was upset about the photo of the two teenagers. Kleefisch, who has trashed the justice herself, responded by declaring, "I'm outraged my opponent would use a photo of my underage daughter for political ammunition in order to score an endorsement." However, unnamed sources told Bice that Michels didn't actually know about the picture before Trump himself raised the topic ahead of his "little rant" against Brian Hagedorn.  

House

CO-03: Democrat Adam Frisch has released an internal from Keating Research that shows him trailing far-right freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert 49-42 in a western Colorado seat that Trump would have taken by a similar 53-45 spread.

FL-10: Both the state AFL-CIO and the Florida Education Association have endorsed gun safety activist Maxwell Alejandro Frost ahead of the busy Democratic primary on Aug. 23.

FL-13: The Club for Growth is airing what appears to be the first negative TV ad of the Aug. 23 GOP primary, and its piece rips Kevin Hayslett as a "trial lawyer" who was disloyal to Donald Trump in 2016. The broadside comes days after Hayslett released an internal that showed him trailing 2020 nominee Anna Paulina Luna, whom both the Club and Trump are supporting, only 36-34.

The narrator informs the audience, "While Hillary's campaign called Trump a fraud, Hayslett declared it was 'ludicrous' Trump had not released his tax records." The commercial concludes that Hayslett, whose offense doesn't seem to have gone further than Facebook posts, is "guilty of aiding and abetting the Democrats to assault Donald Trump."

Hayslett himself launched his own negative spot around the same time arguing that it's Luna who's the GOP heretic. The audience is treated to footage of Luna saying, "I always agreed with President Obama's immigration policies," and favoring a "pathway to citizenship."

IN-02: A special election will take place this year to succeed Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski, who died in a car crash on Wednesday, though it’s not yet clear when it will be and how the GOP nominee will be chosen. Almost everyone expects the special to coincide with the Nov. 8 general election, but it’s up to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb to set the date. Trump carried the existing version of this northern Indiana seat 59-39, while he took the redrawn version by a similar 60-37 spread.

It will be up to the local GOP leadership to choose a new nominee for the special and regular two-year term, and Fox’s Chad Pergram explains that state law requires that any vacancy on the ballot “shall be filled by appointment by the district chairman of the political party.” The chair of the 2nd District Republican Party, though, was Zach Potts, a Walorski aide who was also killed in the collision.

MN-03: Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips is out with a poll from GQR giving him a hefty 57-36 edge over Navy veteran Tom Weiler, who has next week's Republican primary to himself. Biden would have carried this suburban Twin Cities constituency 59-39, though Weiler's allies are hoping that a GOP wave could reverse the dramatic Trump-era gains Democrats made in this once-swingy area.

MN-05: Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, whose city makes up about 60% of this constituency, has endorsed former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels' bid against Rep. Ilhan Omar in next week's Democratic primary. Omar backed the mayor's two main rivals in last year's instant runoff race, though Frey ended up winning re-election convincingly. Frey and Samuels also defeated a 2021 ballot measure that would have replaced the Minneapolis Police Department with a Department of Public Safety, while Omar supported the "Yes" side.

NY-10: Impact Research's internal for attorney Dan Goldman shows him leading Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou 18-16 in the packed Aug. 23 Democratic primary, with New York City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera and 17th District Rep. Mondaire Jones at 14% and 10%, respectively. Other polls have found different candidates ahead, but they all agree with Impact that a hefty plurality are undecided. 

NY-16: Former Rep. Eliot Engel has endorsed Westchester County Legislator Vedat Gashi's Democratic primary campaign against the man who unseated him two years ago, freshman Rep. Jamaal Bowman. Gashi also earned the backing of Nita Lowey who, unlike Engel, left the House voluntarily last year after decades of service. About three-quarters of this seat's denizens live in the old 16th District where Bowman upset Engel, while the balance reside in Lowey's old turf.

NY-23: Barry Zeplowitz and Associates has conducted a survey that gives state GOP chair Nick Langworthy a 39-37 edge over 2010 gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino in this month's primary, which is dramatically different from Paladino's 54-24 lead in his own mid-July internal from WPA Intelligence. Veteran pollster Barry Zeplowitz said he conducted this new poll independently, though Paladino quickly called foul and attacked Zeplowitz for donating $99 to his rival.

"So because I gave $99 to a candidate who asked and gave nothing to a second candidate who did not, the poll is a complete scam?" Zeplowitz asked rhetorically, adding, "Mr. Paladino should be thanking me for giving his campaign a heads-up that he is involved in a toss-up. Let the best man win."

WY-AL: Rep. Liz Cheney's newest commercial for the Aug. 16 GOP primary opens with her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, proclaiming, "In our nation's 246-year history, there has never been an individual who is a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump." Every poll that's been released shows the younger Cheney badly losing to Trump's pick, attorney Harriet Hageman, in what was the Trumpiest state in the nation in both 2016 and 2020.  

Prosecutors

Hennepin County, MN Attorney: Seven candidates are competing in next week's officially nonpartisan primary to replace retiring incumbent Mike Freeman as the top prosecutor in Minnesota's largest county, but campaign finance reports show that only three of them have access to a serious amount of money. The two contenders with the most votes will advance to the November general election.

The top fundraiser through July 25 by far was state House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, who took in $230,000 and has several unions on his side. Former Hennepin County Chief Public Defender Mary Moriarty raised a smaller $140,000, but she sports high-profile endorsements from local Rep. Ilhan Omar, Attorney General Keith Ellison, and the state Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party.

Retired judge Martha Holton Dimick, finally, hauled in a similar $130,000; Dimick, who would be the state's first Black county attorney, has the backing of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey as well as the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association.

San Francisco, CA District Attorney: Former District Attorney Chesa Boudin said Thursday that he would not compete in this fall's instant-runoff special election to regain the post he lost in a June recall. His announcement came the same week that attorney Joe Alioto Veronese launched a bid to take on incumbent Brooke Jenkins, a recall leader whom Mayor London Breed appointed to replace Boudin last month.

Alioto Veronese is the grandson of the late Mayor Joseph Alioto, who served from 1968 to 1976; his mother, Angela Alioto Veronese, ran in the 2018 special election for mayor but took a distant fourth against Breed. The younger Alioto Veronese previously served as a California criminal justice commissioner and member of the city's police and fire commissions, but he doesn't appear to have run for office before now.

Under the city's current law, the district attorney's post would be on the ballot again in 2023 for a full four-year term. However, voters this fall will decide on a measure that would move the city's next set of local elections to 2024 and keep them in presidential cycles going forward.

Election Recaps

WA-03: The Associated Press on Wednesday evening called the first spot in the previous day's top-two primary for Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, who notched 31%, but it remains unclear which Republican she'll face. With 158,000 votes counted, which the AP estimates is 83% of the total, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler leads Trump-backed Army veteran Joe Kent by a narrow 23-22. The five Republican candidates on the ballot are taking a combined 66% of the vote compared to 33% for Democrats in this 51-46 Trump seat, though Herrera Beutler may have won some support from Democratic voters after voting for impeachment.

Maricopa County, AZ Attorney: Former City of Goodyear Prosecutor Gina Godbehere has conceded Tuesday's Republican primary to appointed incumbent Rachel Mitchell, who leads her 58-42. (The margin may shift as more votes are tabulated.) Both candidates were competing to succeed Allister Adel, a fellow Republican who resigned in March and died the next month.

Mitchell will now go up against Democrat Julie Gunnigle, who lost to Adel 51-49 in 2020, in a special election for the final two years of the term. This post will be up for a regular four-year term in 2024.

Montgomery County, MD Executive: It’s been more than two weeks since the July 19 Democratic primary, but we still don’t know who won the nomination to lead this populous and reliably blue county. With 132,000 ballots counted, incumbent Marc Elrich leads wealthy businessman David Blair 39.3-39.2―a margin of 154 votes.

Election officials say that there are about 4,000 mail-in votes left to tabulate as well as 7,250 provisional ballots to sort through, and that they’re aiming to certify the results by Aug. 12. The second-place candidate would then have three days to request a recount, which is what happened in the 2018 contest between these very two candidates: Elrich ultimately beat Blair by 77 votes four years ago.

P.S. This dragged-out count came about because Republican Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed a measure that would have allowed mail-in ballots to be processed ahead of Election Day. The author of that bill is state Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Democrat who represents part of Montgomery County; Kagan has called for the state to change its policies to prevent another major delay this November.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: Wanda Vázquez, who became governor of Puerto Rico in 2019 after her predecessor resigned in disgrace, was indicted Thursday on bribery charges related to her unsuccessful 2020 campaign for a full term. Vázquez, who is affiliated with both the GOP and the pro-statehood New Progressive Party (PNP), responded by proclaiming her innocence.

Federal prosecutors allege that Vázquez fired the head of Puerto Rico’s Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions and appointed a new one loyal to a campaign donor. Vázquez badly lost the PNP primary 58-42 to Pedro Pierluisi, who prevailed in a close general election.

Ad Roundup

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

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: Second quarter fundraising numbers highlight Empire State scramble

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.

Maryland held its primary Tuesday, but because state election officials aren't allowed to even start tabulating mail-in ballots until Thursday, a significant number of votes still need to be counted. You can find the current vote totals here; we’ll have a rundown in our next Digest.

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Leading Off

2Q Fundraising: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to present our quarterly fundraising charts both for the House and for the Senate: Our data includes the numbers for every incumbent (excluding those who've said they're not seeking re-election or have already lost their primaries) and notable announced candidates.

No state saw a bigger transformation to its House battlefield since the last quarter than New York, where the state's highest court threw out the Democratic-drawn map in late April and instituted its own boundaries about a month later. This means that plenty of House candidates weren't even running when fundraising reports were last released three months ago, while others are facing different opponents than they'd planned for.

Perhaps the most anticipated matchup of the Aug. 23 primary is the battle in the safely blue 12th Congressional District between a pair of Manhattan Democrats who were each first elected in 1992, Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler. Maloney outraised Nadler $590,000 to $520,000 from April to June and self-funded an additional $900,000, which left her with a wide $2.1 million to $1.3 million cash-on-hand lead. Maloney's existing 12th District in the Upper East Side makes up about 60% of this new seat, while Nadler's Upper West Side 10th forms another 40%.

Further complicating the primary is the presence of Suraj Patel, an attorney who held Maloney to a 43-39 win in 2020. Patel, who launched his latest campaign in February, took in $450,000 for the quarter and finished June with $560,000 available.

Maloney and Nadler, though, aren't the only Democratic incumbents in danger of losing renomination next month. Rep. Mondaire Jones decided to run for the reliably blue 10th District, a southern Manhattan and northwestern Brooklyn seat that's located well away from his existing Hudson Valley base, after DCCC chair Sean Patrick Maloney decided to run for the new 17th District, and he's going up against several prominent local figures. The crowded field got smaller Tuesday, though, when former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped out; see our NY-10 item below for more.

Former federal prosecutor Dan Goldman, who served as House Democrats' lead counsel during Donald Trump's first impeachment, outraised Jones $1.2 million to $450,000 during what was Goldman's opening quarter, but the congressman's big headstart left him with a $2.8 million to $1.1 million cash-on-hand lead.

New York City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, by contrast, raised $400,000 and finished with $350,000, while Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou hauled in $240,000 and had $200,000 available. Also in the running are former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman, who is seeking to return to the House after a 42-year-absence; Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon; and attorney Maud Maron, but they each had well under $200,000 to spend.

Over in the 16th in southern Westchester County, freshman Rep. Jamaal Bowman is going up against two members of the Westchester County Legislature. Vedat Gashi, who began running before the maps were replaced, actually outraised Bowman $300,000 to $250,000 for the quarter, and the challenger ended with a $530,000 to $430,000 cash-on-hand edge. Catherine Parker, meanwhile, raised $160,000 after kicking off her bid in late May but self-funded $140,000 more, and she finished with $260,000 in her war chest. Bowman currently represents three-quarters of this new seat, which remains safely blue turf.

The aforementioned Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, by contrast, has a huge financial edge over his intra-party rival just one seat to the north in the new 17th. The DCCC head, whose existing 18th District forms just a quarter of this revamped lower Hudson Valley constituency, hauled in $840,000 and had $2.6 million to defend himself. State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, who previously was campaigning for the 3rd District under the now-defunct map, brought in a far-smaller $250,000 for this quarter and had a similar $280,000 on hand.

The eventual Democratic nominee could still face a serious fight in November, however, in a constituency that would have backed Biden 54-44. The only one of the five Republicans on the primary ballot who has raised a notable amount is Assemblyman Mike Lawler, who hauled in $350,000 and finished with $330,000 available.

We'll be taking a look at the financial state-of-play in several other New York House primaries below as well, starting with the open NY-03.

Redistricting

OH Redistricting: On Tuesday, Ohio's Supreme Court struck down the congressional map drawn by Republicans that was used in the May primaries. In a 4-3 ruling that saw GOP Chief Justice Maureen Connor side with the court's three Democrats, the court held that the districts, which could elect a 13-2 Republican majority in year favorable to the GOP like 2022 is shaping up to be, were partisan gerrymanders in violation of a 2018 constitutional amendment approved by voters and legislators that bans maps that "unduly favor" a party.

The court gave the GOP-run legislature 30 days to redraw the map, after which the Republican-majority on Ohio's bipartisan redistricting commission would have another 30 days if lawmakers fail to act. However, given that potential timeline and the U.S. Supreme Court's penchant for blocking election changes that are supposedly too close to Election Day, the invalidated lines will almost certainly remain in place for November.

This decision marks the second time this cycle that Ohio's top court has invalidated the GOP's congressional map. However, just like in a similar lawsuit that saw the same court strike down the GOP's legislative maps five times, Republicans effectively ran out the clock and will be able to use unconstitutional districts in this fall's elections.

With the state court ruling meaning that new lines will be required in 2024, this fall's judicial elections have a heightened importance. Three GOP-held court seats are up in partisan elections this November, but O'Connor is barred from seeking re-election thanks to age limits. If Republicans sweep all three seats, they would gain a majority that would enable the GOP to get away with passing yet another round of aggressive gerrymanders.

Senate

AZ-Sen, AZ-Gov: Cygnal's new survey for the Gateway Pundit, a far-right blog infamous for peddling election conspiracy theories, finds Trump's picks ahead in their Aug. 2 GOP primaries for Senate and governor. Former Thiel Capital chief operating officer Blake Masters posts a 30-20 lead over wealthy businessman Jim Lamon for the right to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, while former TV news anchor Kari Lake beats Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson 45-34 in the contest for governor.

MO-Sen: The Kansas City Star reports that Missouri Stands United is spending $2 million on a new ad campaign promoting independent John Wood that stars his old boss, former GOP Sen. John Danforth. The group, which has now invested $5 million in this race, previously aired a commercial where Danforth called for voters to support an independent, though he didn't mention Wood in that earlier spot.

PA-Sen: Democrat John Fetterman will attend a fundraiser on Thursday in Philadelphia, which will make this his first scheduled in-person event since he suffered a stroke just before the May primary.

WA-Sen: Longtime pollster Elway Research, working on behalf of the news site Crosscut, shows Democratic incumbent Patty Murray beating Republican Tiffany Smiley 53-33. A recent SurveyUSA media poll gave the senator a similar 51-33 advantage.

Governors

MI-Gov: The Glengariff Group's newest poll for The Detroit News and WDIV-TV shows conservative radio host Tudor Dixon edging out businessman Kevin Rinke 19-15 ahead of the Aug. 2 Republican primary; real estate broker Ryan Kelley and chiropractor Garrett Soldano are just behind with 13% and 12%, respectively, while a 38% plurality is undecided. It does not appear that respondents were offered the opportunity to volunteer the name of James Craig, the former Detroit Police chief who is running a write-in campaign after getting booted off the ballot.

RI-Gov: Incumbent Dan McKee is spending $65,000 on his opening buy for the September Democratic primary, and it's one of the rare campaign ads that proudly highlights that the candidate lives with his mother.

The governor begins by telling the audience, "Ever since Mom moved back in, we play cards," to which 94-year-old Willa McKee, who is shown sporting a hefty pair of sunglasses, responds, "I even let him win sometimes." The candidate goes on to tout his accomplishments (which are shown in card form), including "one of the nation's best economic recoveries" and ending the car tax, before concluding, "Not bad for a year and a half." Willa McKee gets the last word, replying, "Not bad for a governor that lives with his mother."  

TX-Gov: Democrat Beto O'Rourke was unable to upload his latest fundraising report to the Texas Ethics Commission's website because of its sheer size, but the TEC says he finished June 30 with $23.9 million on hand. The challenger outraised Republican Gov. Greg Abbott $27.6 million to $24.9 million from Feb. 20 through June 30, but Abbott held a larger $45.7 million war chest.

WI-Gov: New campaign finance reports are in covering the first six months of the year, and they demonstrate just how much businessman Tim Michels has been using his personal wealth to outspend the one-time frontrunner, former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, ahead of their Aug. 9 Republican primary.

Michels, who entered the race in April, supplied all but $60,000 of the nearly $8 million he brought in, while Kleefisch raised $3.7 million. Michels outspent her by a wide $7.7 million to $3.5 million during this time, and while Kleefisch finished June with a $2.7 million to $320,000 cash-on-hand lead, Michels likely can write his campaign more checks. The only other notable GOP candidate, state Rep. Timothy Ramthun, brought in a mere $170,000 and had $90,000 on hand. The eventual winner will face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who raised $10 million from January to June and had $7.7 million on hand.

House

FL-07: U.S. Term Limits has released a survey from RMG Research that gives state Rep. Anthony Sabatini a 23-16 lead over Army veteran Cory Mills in the Aug. 23 GOP primary for this newly gerrymandered seat; Navy veteran Brady Duke takes third with 9%, while 42% were undecided. The group did not express a preference for a candidate, though it noted that Sabatini and Mills have both signed its term limits pledge.

We've seen one other poll recently, and it found a considerably different state of affairs. The state Republican Party commissioned numbers from The Tyson Group to determine who to invite to its debate, and it showed Mills edging out Sabatini 23-21 as Duke earned a similar 8%.

LA-03: Prosecutor Holden Hoggatt announced Tuesday that he would challenge his fellow Republican, three-term Rep. Clay Higgins, in the November all-party primary for this safely red southwest Louisiana seat, a declaration that came days before Friday’s filing deadline. (Louisiana is the last state in the nation where qualifying remains open for major party candidates.)

Hoggatt declared, “Higgins’ candidacy is weakened because he hasn’t delivered for our people on storm recovery, or infrastructure.” The challenger also pointed to Higgins’ $260,000 war chest to argue, “He’s had pitiful fundraising.” While Hoggatt only has a few months to raise cash himself, LA Politics writes that the new candidate “knows his way around the business lobby” in the state capital.

Higgins, a former local police officer who became famous for a series of "Crime Stoppers" videos that featured him melodramatically calling out criminals, has since made a name for himself as a proud spreader of the Big Lie. Indeed, he posted a video mere days after the 2020 election, “I have inside data that this election is compromised. Our president won this election. Feel my spirit.”

Higgins has also attracted attention for more bizarre social media activities, including a February tweet reading, “You millennial leftists who never lived one day under nuclear threat can now reflect upon your woke sky. You made quite a non-binary fuss to save the world from intercontinental ballistic tweets.” However, while the congressman’s antics aren’t likely to do him much harm in a seat that Trump would have carried 68-30, Hoggatt is hoping to capitalize on anger over his response to hurricane recovery efforts.

While southwest Louisiana has struggled for years to obtain disaster relief money, Higgins was far away from both his constituents and D.C. in the weeks ahead of the March congressional budget deadline: He instead posted a video saying he was in an unnamed Middle Eastern nation “trying to get Americans and American families back home who were abandoned in the shameful retreat from Afghanistan.” Ultimately, Congress passed a bill that did not include additional hurricane funds for Louisiana.

Redistricting, though, is not going to be an issue for Higgins. The 3rd Congressional District ended up losing about 10,000 residents to neighboring seats but did not pick up any new areas, so the congressman already represents the entirety of the redrawn constituency.

NY-03: Five Democrats are competing in a pricey battle to succeed Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi, who gave up this northern Nassau County seat in order to wage a disastrous bid for governor, though two contenders have considerably more resources than the rest of the field. Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan, who earned Suozzi's endorsement earlier this month, outraised DNC member Robert Zimmerman $500,000 to $320,000 for the quarter, and he finished June with a $890,000 to $760,000 cash-on-hand lead.

Jon Kaiman, a deputy Suffolk County executive who lost the 2016 primary to Suozzi, was well behind with $200,000 raised and $350,000 available. Melanie D'Arrigo, who lost the 2020 primary to Suozzi 66-26, had only $60,000 to spend for her latest bid, while marketing consultant Reema Rasool had even less.

The GOP is fielding just one contender for this Long Island constituency, where Biden's margin dropped from 55-44 to 53-45. 2020 nominee George Santos, who was defeated 56-43 last time, took in $300,000 for his new campaign and ended last month with $910,000 on hand.

NY-04: Five Democrats are running to succeed retiring Rep. Kathleen Rice in this southern Nassau County district, and this is another contest where two of the candidates have considerably more money than everyone else.

Former Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen outpaced Malverne Mayor Keith Corbett $300,000 to $160,000, but Corbett self-funded an additional $90,000; Gillen, who has Rice's endorsement, finished June with $390,000 while Corbett, who is an ally of state and county party chair Jay Jacobs, had $310,000 on hand. Nassau County Legislator Carrié Solages was far back with only $80,000 to spend.

The new map increased Biden's showing slightly from 56-43 to 57-42, but this is another Long Island seat where Republicans are hoping a well-funded candidate will be able to pull off an upset. Team Red's one contender is Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony D'Esposito, who raised $540,000 and finished June with $550,000 in the bank.

NY-10: Bill de Blasio ended his bid for the Democratic nod on Tuesday, with his campaign acknowledging that even his own polls showed the former New York City mayor in bad shape. De Blasio's many critics may not have him to kick around anymore either, as he announced his departure by tweeting, "Time for me to leave electoral politics and focus on other ways to serve."

NY-19 (special), NY-18, NY-19: Republican Marc Molinaro maintains a big cash-on-hand lead over Democrat Pat Ryan ahead of their Aug. 23 special election showdown for the existing 19th District, but a strong opening quarter helped Ryan make up ground.

Ryan, who serves as Ulster County executive, took in $1.1 million during the opening months of the contest to succeed Antonio Delgado, a fellow Democrat who resigned in May to become lieutenant governor, and he ended June with $580,000 on hand. Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive who began running in September of last year, hauled in a smaller $470,000, but he had $1 million available. Biden carried this constituency 50-48.

No matter what happens, though, both Ryan and Molinaro will be competing for separate seats in the fall. Ryan faces just one unheralded intra-party opponent in the primary for the new 18th District, a 53-45 Biden constituency in the upper Hudson Valley that's currently open because Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney decided to run for the more Democratic 17th District. The one Republican campaigning here is Colin Schmitt, an assemblyman who had been challenging Maloney; Schmitt raised $340,000 during the most recent quarter, and he had $600,000 in his war chest.

Over in the redrawn 19th, finally, Molinaro also has no primary opposition in a southeastern upstate New York seat that would have supported Biden 51-47. The Democratic contest, however, is a duel between attorney Josh Riley, who had been running for the 22nd District in the Syracuse area until May, and businesswoman Jamie Cheney. Riley outraised Cheney $430,000 to $420,000, while Cheney self-funded $100,000 more; Riley finished June with a $790,000 to $440,000 cash-on-hand lead.

NY-22: Navy veteran Francis Conole finished June with a huge cash advantage over the other three Democrats campaigning to succeed retiring GOP Rep. John Katko in this Syracuse-area seat. Conole, who lost the 2020 primary to face Katko in the old 24th, took in $270,000 for the quarter and had $400,000 in the bank, while former Assemblyman Sam Roberts was far behind with only $70,000 on hand.

The Republican contest pits wealthy businessman Steve Wells against Navy veteran Brandon Williams. Wells, who lost the 2016 primary to now-Rep. Claudia Tenney in the old 22nd, raised $250,000 for his new effort and self-funded another $350,000, while Williams brought in only around $60,000; Wells finished June with a $600,000 to $110,000 cash-on-hand edge. Biden would have carried the new 22nd 53-45, while he took Katko's existing 24th by a similar 53-44.

NY-23: Carl Paladino, the proto-Trump who served as Team Red's 2010 nominee for governor, is using his wealth to far outpace state party chair Nick Langworthy in the money race for this open seat. Paladino, who raised all of $50 from other people, sunk $1.5 million of his own money into his campaign, which left him with $1.4 million on hand.

Langworthy, by contrast, raised $310,000 and had a similar $300,000 available in his quest to succeed GOP Rep. Chris Jacobs, who decided to retire in June after coming out in favor of gun safety following the mass shooting in Buffalo. This seat, which is based in the Buffalo suburbs and southwestern upstate New York, would have supported Trump 58-40.

Ad Roundup

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

Morning Digest: Michigan activists are close to putting an abortion rights amendment on the ballot

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.

Programming Update: Daily Kos Elections will be taking a break for the Fourth of July weekend. The Live Digest will return Tuesday, while Morning Digest will be back on Wednesday. Have a great holiday!

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Leading Off

MI Ballot: Activists working to enshrine the right to an abortion into the Michigan state constitution announced Thursday that they'd collected a sufficient number of signatures to place the proposed amendment on the ballot for the November general election. A victory for the Reproductive Freedom for All amendment, which needs a majority of the vote to pass, would represent a huge win for abortion rights in a large swing state where the courts have yet to resolve whether a 91-year-old abortion ban remains in effect today.

In 1931, Michigan passed a law that made the procedure a felony in almost all cases, very similar to an earlier ban implemented all the way back in 1846. Pro-choice activists put an initiative on the ballot in 1972 to legalize abortion called Proposal B, and it appeared so likely to pass that an abortion clinic was set up even before the November vote. The Catholic Church, though, funded an effort to derail Proposal B, and voters ultimately rejected it in a 61-39 landslide that represented an early electoral win for the emerging anti-abortion movement.

The 1931 statute became moot just a few months later after the U.S Supreme Court handed down its decision in Roe v. Wade, but no one's sure what will happen now following the far-right majority's ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health. A state court issued a temporary injunction to block the law from being enforced, but two Republican county prosecutors have said they'll still consider prosecuting doctors for violating the nine-decade-old law. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has urged the Michigan Supreme Court―where Democrats won a 4-3 majority last cycle―to issue a ruling to clarify the situation.

A victory for the Reproductive Freedom for All amendment this fall, though, would go even further in securing abortion rights for the long term, especially if anti-choice Republicans succeed in unseating Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel, or state Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein in November. There hasn't been any polling on this measure, but Civiqs has found that Michigan voters agree that abortion should be legal in all or most cases by a wide 57-39 margin.

Redistricting

NC Redistricting: On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear North Carolina Republicans' appeal in a redistricting case that could have catastrophic consequences for voting rights and fair elections across the country next year in advance of the pivotal 2024 elections.

The case in question involves a Republican appeal of a state court ruling that struck down their congressional gerrymander earlier this year and replaced it with a much fairer map in a groundbreaking ruling that held that the state constitution prohibits partisan gerrymandering. Republicans are now asking the Supreme Court to rule that the U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures near-absolute power to set all manner of federal election laws, including district maps—regardless of whether state constitutions place limits on abuses such as gerrymandering.

For a more in-depth explanation of just how dangerous and far-reaching this case could be, an article by Daily Kos Elections' Stephen Wolf has laid out the stakes and likely implications should the justices rule in favor of Republicans.

Senate

AZ-Sen: The Democratic firm Public Policy Polling has conducted a poll, which it says wasn't on behalf of a client, looking at the August GOP primary. The survey finds former Thiel Capital chief operating officer Blake Masters jumping out to a 29-15 lead over state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, with businessman Jim Lamon at 10 and retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Mick McGuire at just 5.

This poll, which is PPP's first publicly available look at Arizona this cycle, is also the first survey from a reputable firm since Trump endorsed Masters in early June. Previous polls from mainly GOP-affiliated outfits had typically found Lamon and Brnovich competing for the lead with Masters still competitive, and it's plausible that Trump's endorsement has shifted a significant chunk of voters toward Masters in a race where many Republicans are still undecided.

GA-Sen: Just hours after a Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday showed Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock leading by a hefty 54-44 over Republican Herschel Walker, Walker's campaign released an internal poll from Moore Information Group that shows the two candidates tied 47-47. We previously cautioned that Quinnipiac's numbers were by far the best for Democrats all cycle and that confirmation from other polls and firms was necessary to determine whether the race has indeed shifted in Warnock's direction, but it's notable that the best numbers Walker's own team could come up with still couldn't give him a lead.

MO-Sen: Former Republican Sen. John Danforth’s Missouri Stands United PAC has announced that it’s spending $3 million on an opening TV, radio, digital, and mail campaign to support independent John Wood. The effort began earlier this week just before Wood launched his campaign when Danforth, who retired in 1995, starred in a commercial calling for voters to back a nonaligned candidate for Senate.

VT-Sen: Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, who is the chamber's longest-serving member, has announced that he has broken his hip after suffering from a fall on Wednesday evening and would have to have surgery as soon as possible. Leahy says his doctors expect him to "make a full recovery," but he could be absent from the Senate for an unspecified amount of time in the coming weeks. The 82-year-old Leahy had already opted to retire this cycle rather than run for a ninth term this fall.

Governors

MD-Gov: The Baltimore Sun reports that the DGA has booked $1 million in TV time in an effort to get Republicans to nominate Trump's pick, Del. Dan Cox, over former state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz on July 19. Democrats believe that 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, would struggle in a general election to succeed Schulz's main ally, termed-out Gov. Larry Hogan.

RI-Gov: Wednesday was the candidate filing deadline for Rhode Island's Sept. 13 primary, but while the state has a list of contenders here, not all of them may make the ballot. That's because, as the Boston Globe notes, candidates still have until July 15 to turn in their signatures to election officials: Anyone running for governor needs 1,000 valid signatures, which is twice the number required to run for the U.S. House.

Democrat Dan McKee was elevated from the office of lieutenant governor to the governorship in March of last year when Gina Raimondo resigned to become U.S. secretary of commerce, but it quickly became clear he'd be in for a tough fight to keep his new job. Five fellow Democrats are campaigning against McKee, and a recent poll from Suffolk University showed him trailing one of them, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, 24-20.

Former CVS executive Helena Foulkes, who ended March with the largest war chest, was close behind with 16%, and her ability to self-fund gives her access to more funds. Former Secretary of State Matt Brown, who lost the 2018 primary to Raimondo 57-34, is once again positioning himself to the left of the rest of the field, but he's struggled to raise money and only earned 5% in the Suffolk poll. The other two Democrats who filed are physician Luis Daniel Muñoz, who earned less than 2% as an independent four years ago, and nurse Kalilu Camara, neither of whom have attracted much notice.

Five Republicans are also in, but businessman Ashley Kalus is the only one who's running a serious campaign. Kalus, who has used her personal wealth to go on TV back in April, has had to deal with questions about her ties to Rhode Island, where she appears to have relocated to just last year.

P.S. Now that the Ocean State's deadline has passed, the only states where major party candidates can still appear on the 2022 ballot are Delaware and Louisiana. Neither state is likely to host any competitive races for Congress this cycle, though Louisiana politicians sometimes wait until the last moment possible to decide whether or not to run.

House

FL-27: State Sen. Annette Taddeo has publicized a late May internal from the Democratic firm SEA Polling and Strategic Design that finds Republican Rep. María Elvira Salazar leading her by a narrow 47-45. The survey was conducted May 23-26, which about two weeks before Taddeo ended her campaign for governor to run for this Miami-area seat.  

MD-06: Gov. Larry Hogan has backed Matthew Foldi, a former staff writer for the conservative Washington Free Beacon, ahead of the July 19 Republican primary to take on Democratic incumbent David Trone. Foldi received an endorsement earlier in June from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

MI-11: NBC reports that EMILY's List has reserved $860,000 in TV ads to aid Rep. Haley Stevens in her Aug. 2 Democratic primary against fellow incumbent Andy Levin.

MI-13: Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan this week endorsed state Sen. Adam Hollier in the busy Democratic primary for a safely blue seat where just over half of residents live in Motor City.

RI-02: Retiring Democratic Rep. Jim Langevin endorsed state Treasurer Seth Magaziner on Thursday, an announcement that came one day after the filing deadline passed for the September primary. Magaziner is one of eight Democrats campaigning to succeed Langevin in a seat, which includes part of Providence and western Rhode Island, that Biden would have carried 56-42.

One of Magaziner's rivals is former state Rep. David Segal, who took third place in the 2010 primary for the neighboring 1st District and went on to found a national progressive group. Another well-funded rival is Sarah Morgenthau, a former U.S. Department of Commerce official who hails from a prominent national Democratic family; Morgenthau, though, has spent most of her career outside the state and only registered to vote in Rhode Island shortly before launching her campaign.

Also in the running is communications firm head Joy Fox, who is a former Langevin staffer. Four other candidates are in including nonprofit head Omar Bah, but none of them posted a serious amount of money when campaign finance reports were last released in March. (New quarterly reports are due by the end of July 15.)

On the GOP side, former Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, who was the party's nominee for governor in 2014 and 2018, has just one unheralded primary foe following 2020 nominee Bob Lancia's decision to drop out just before filing closed. A recent Suffolk University poll showed Fung leading Magaziner 45-39 and doing even better against the other Democrats, though the undecideds should favor Team Blue here.

Ad Roundup

Democrats are notably running ads on abortion in New Hampshire and Illinois.

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

Morning Digest: Three House incumbents lose renomination during a huge primary night

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

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

IL-06, IL-15, MS-04: Tuesday was one of the biggest primary nights of the cycle, and not just because a trio of House incumbents lost renomination. We’ll start with a look at those three contests below as we begin our summary of where things stood as of 8 AM ET in the big contests. You can also find our cheat-sheet here.

 IL-06 (D & R): Two-term Rep. Sean Casten defeated freshman colleague Marie Newman by a wide 68-29 margin in their Democratic primary for a seat in Chicago's inner western suburbs. Newman’s existing 3rd District makes up 41% of this new seat while Casten's current 6th District forms just 23%, but she was hurt by an ethics investigation into charges she sought to keep a potential primary opponent out of the race when she ran in 2020 by offering him a job as a top aide if she won. The race largely paused about two weeks before Election Day after the congressman's teenage daughter died suddenly and Newman announced that she was halting negative ads.

Casten will face Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau, who won the GOP nod by beating Burr Ridge Mayor Gary Grasso 39-27, in a constituency Biden would have carried 55-44.

 IL-15 (R): Freshman Rep. Mary Miller, who had support of Donald Trump and the Club for Growth, beat five-term incumbent Rodney Davis 57-43 in a safely red seat in rural central Illinois. While neither member had much of a geographic advantage in this new seat, the far-right Miller proved to be a better fit for local Republicans than Davis, who had long sought to present himself as a moderate in order to win under the previous map and voted for a Jan. 6 commission.

Davis tacked right during this campaign and pledged to investigate the Jan. 6 committee if he became chair of the House Administration Committee, but it was far from enough. Miller, by contrast, told Trump at a rally on Saturday, “I want to thank you for the historic victory for white life in the Supreme Court yesterday.” (Her campaign responded by insisting she’d meant to say “right to life.”)

 MS-04 (R): Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell defeated six-term Rep. Steven Palazzo 54-46 in the Republican runoff for a safely red seat along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The incumbent led Ezell only 31-25 in the first round of voting on June 7, and all five of the defeated candidates quickly endorsed Ezell for the runoff. Mississippi Today says that this is the first time a House incumbent has lost renomination in the Magnolia State since 1962, when Jamie Whitten beat fellow Rep. Frank Smith in their Democratic primary. (Whitten, who was elected in a 1941 special, retired in 1995 as the longest serving House member in American history, though the late Michigan Democrat John Dingell later broke that record.)

Palazzo spent the campaign dogged by an ethics investigation into allegations that he illegally used campaign funds for personal purposes. His many critics also portrayed him as an absentee congressman uninterested in doing his job, and Palazzo gave them more fodder earlier this year when he posted a picture on Facebook of himself and his son at a restaurant in Mississippi hours after he abruptly canceled a campaign forum for what his staff said were “meetings dealing with national security.”

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. We’ll start with a surprisingly close special election in Nebraska:

 NE-01 (special): Republican state Sen. Mike Flood only defeated Democratic colleague Patty Pansing Brooks 53-47 to win the contest to succeed Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who resigned in March after he was convicted of concealing illegal campaign funds he received from a foreign national, in a Lincoln area constituency that Trump would have won 54-43 in 2020 and 56-38 four years before. Bizarrely, the special was held under the new district lines even though the winner will fill out the remainder of Fortenberry's term, which he of course won under the old lines; Trump carried the existing 1st by a stronger 56-41 in 2020.

National Democrats, though, were not prepared for things to be anywhere near as close as they were: Indeed, Pansing Brooks’ media consultant, Ian Russell, says that Flood outspent her $860,000 to $80,000 in a contest that attracted no serious outside spending. The two state senators will face off again in November for a full two-year term.

We’ll move on to Colorado, where Democrats spent serious amounts in what proved to be unsuccessful efforts to get Republicans to nominate Team Blue’s preferred opponents:

 CO-Sen (R): Self-funding businessman Joe O’Dea turned back state Rep. Ron Hanks, a vocal proponent of the Big Lie, 55-45 in the GOP primary to face Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet. A poll from the Democratic firm Global Strategy Group showed both Republicans losing to Bennet by the same 13-point margin, but Team Blue believed that the extremist Hanks would be easier to defeat.

 CO-Gov (R): University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl, who is Colorado’s only remaining statewide Republican, defeated businessman Greg Lopez 54-46 for the right to take on Democratic Gov. Jared Polis. That same GSG poll showed Polis winning by identical 51-32 spreads against both, but Democrats tried to get GOP voters to select the underfunded Lopez.

 CO-03 (R): Another far-right freshman, Rep. Lauren Boebert, beat self-described moderate state Sen. Don Coram 65-35 in a western Colorado seat that Trump would have taken 53-45.

 CO-05 (R): Rep. Doug Lamborn turned back state Rep. Dave Williams 48-33 in a Colorado Springs-based seat Trump also would have carried 53-43. Lamborn, who has struggled to win renomination in the past, is the subject of an ongoing ethics investigation into allegations that he misused official resources by having congressional staff perform personal and campaign-related tasks for him and his wife.

 CO-07 (R): Former oil and gas executive Erik Aadland defeated businessman Tim Reichert 48-36 in the GOP primary to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter. Aadland will be the underdog against state Sen. Brittany Pettersen, who had no Democratic primary opposition, in a seat in the western Denver suburbs that Biden would have carried 56-42. 

 CO-08 (R): State Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer beat Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann 40-23 in the GOP primary for this newly created seat in Denver's northern suburbs. Democrats had aired ads trying to block Kirkmeyer and convince Republicans to instead nominate far-right Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine, but Saine ended up taking only third with 20%. Kirkmeyer will go up against state Rep. Yadira Caraveo, who had no opposition in the Democratic primary, in a constituency Biden would have won 51-46.

 CO-SoS (R): Former Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson defeated economic development specialist Mike O'Donnell 43-29; the balance went to Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who was indicted in March for allegedly breaching the county's election systems during her attempt to demonstrate fraud in 2020. Anderson, who was the one Republican candidate who acknowledged that Biden won the 2020 election, will go up against Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold.

Next is Illinois, which was home to the bulk of Tuesday’s biggest contests:

 IL-Gov (R): Both Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Donald Trump got what they wanted from the Republican primary as far-right state Sen. Darren Bailey beat venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan in a 57-16 blowout; Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, who looked like the frontrunner until early June, took third with just 15% despite the $50 million in donations he’d received from billionaire Ken Griffin.

Pritzker and his allies at the DGA very badly wanted to face Bailey instead of Irvin, and they spent massive amounts to make that happen. NBC reports that the incumbent dropped $32 million on TV ads during the GOP primary, most of which went towards hitting the mayor, while the DGA deployed another $18 million on commercials either touting Bailey as a conservative or attacking Irvin. Another conservative megadonor, Richard Uihlein, spent $17 million to promote Bailey as well and go after Irvin’s record as mayor and past moderate stances.

 IL-01 (D): Businessman Jonathan Jackson, who is the son of two-time presidential candidate Jesse Jackson and benefited from $1 million in support from crypto-aligned PACs, won the nomination to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush in this safely blue seat by defeating Chicago Alderman Pat Dowell 28-19. Rush, who is the only person to ever defeat Barack Obama, supported former Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership CEO Karin Norington-Reaves, who finished third with 14%.

 IL-03 (D): State Rep. Delia Ramirez, who had several progressive groups on her side, beat Chicago Alderman Gilbert Villegas 66-24 in a safely blue seat centered around heavily Latino areas in southwestern Chicago and the city's western suburbs.

 IL-07 (D): Longtime Rep. Danny Davis turned back anti-gun violence activist Kina Collins 52-45 in what was easily his closest renomination fight ever in this heavily Democratic seat in downtown Chicago. Davis beat Collins 60-14 in a 2020 contest that attracted little attention, but this time, there was notable outside spending on both sides. President Joe Biden also endorsed the 13-term incumbent two days before the primary.

 IL-08 (D): Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi defeated businessman Junaid Ahmed 70-30 in a seat based in Chicago's outer western suburbs. Biden would have prevailed 57-41 here.

 IL-13 (R & D): The AP has not yet called this GOP primary, but with 95% of the projected vote in, activist Regan Deering leads former federal prosecutor Jesse Reising 35-33. The Democrats are fielding former Biden administration official Nikki Budzinski, who won her own primary 76-24, in a seat that now snakes from East St. Louis northeast through Springfield to the college towns of Champaign and Urbana. Democratic mapmakers transformed what was a 51-47 Trump constituency into one Biden would have carried 54-43, which is why GOP Rep. Rodney Davis decided to take his chances in the 15th instead of run here.

 IL-14 (R): The AP also has not yet made a call in the GOP primary, but conservative radio host Mike Koolidge leads perennial candidate James Marter 31-24. The winner will face Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood in a constituency in Chicago's western exurbs where Democratic legislators augmented Biden's margin of victory from 50-48 to 55-43.

 IL-17 (D): Former TV meteorologist Eric Sorensen, who would be the first gay person to represent Illinois in Congress, won the Democratic nod to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos by beating former state Rep. Litesa Wallace 38-23. Republicans are once again fielding 2020 nominee Esther Joy King, who lost to Bustos 52-48 as Trump was taking the old version of this northwestern Illinois seat 50-48; Biden would have carried the new version of the 17th 53-45.

Mississippi also had another big runoff Tuesday:

 MS-03 (R): Rep. Michael Guest avenged his June 7 embarrassment by beating Navy veteran Michael Cassidy 67-33 in the runoff for this safely red seat in the central part of the state. Cassidy led Guest, who voted for a Jan. 6 commission, 47.5-46.9 in the first round in a campaign that almost everyone expected the incumbent to win with ease. The congressman, who himself acknowledged he'd run a complacent campaign, used the next three weeks to air ads attacking Cassidy for the first time, while his allies at the Congressional Leadership Fund spent serious amounts on anti-Cassidy messaging.

New York held primaries for statewide races and the state Assembly, but because the courts redrew the maps for the U.S. House and state Senate, those nomination contests won't take place until Aug. 23.

 NY-Gov & NY-LG (D): Gov. Kathy Hochul won her primary for a full term by beating New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams 68-19, while Rep. Tom Suozzi took 13%. Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado, a former congressman who served as Hochul’s informal running mate, won his separate primary by beating activist Ana Maria Archila, who was aligned with Williams, 61-25. Hochul and Delgado will campaign together as a ticket in November.

 NY-Gov (R): Rep. Lee Zeldin defeated former Trump White House staffer Andrew Giuliani, the son of Donald Trump's most embarrassing attorney, 44-23. Zeldin and running mate Alison Esposito, who had no intra-party opposition in the primary for lieutenant governor, will try to unseat Hochul and Delgado in a state where Republicans haven’t won a single statewide race since 2002.

Oklahoma also went to the polls: A runoff will take place Aug. 23 in any contests where no one earned a majority of the vote.

 OK-Sen-B (R): Rep. Markwayne Mullin and former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon will compete in the runoff to succeed longtime Sen. Jim Inhofe, a fellow Republican who announced in late February that he would resign, effective ​​when the current Congress ends.

Mullin took a firm first place with 44% while Shannon, who lost to now-Sen. James Lankford in the 2014 primary for Oklahoma’s other Senate seat, outpaced state Sen. Nathan Dahm 19-12. Another 11% went to Luke Holland, Inhofe’s former chief of staff and preferred successor, while former Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt barely registered with just 5%.

 OK-Gov (R): Gov. Kevin Stitt decisively beat state Department of Veterans Affairs head Joel Kintsel 69-14 even after dark money groups spent millions against him. Stitt will be favored in the fall against Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, who left the GOP last year.

 OK-02 (R): State Rep. Avery Frix will compete in the runoff to succeed Mullin in this dark red eastern Oklahoma seat, but the AP has not yet called the second runoff spot. With 99% of the expected vote in for this enormous 14-person field, Frix leads with 15% while former state Sen. Josh Brecheen holds a 14-13 edge over Muskogee Chief of Police Johnny Teehee.

 OK-05 (R): Despite her vote for a Jan. 6 commission, freshman Rep. Stephanie Bice defeated her underfunded foe, conservative YouTube show host Subrina Banks, 68-32 in a newly gerrymandered seat in the Oklahoma City area.

The big night concluded with Utah.

 UT-Sen (R): Far-right Sen. Mike Lee turned back former state Rep. Becky Edwards, who centered her challenge around Lee's unbending fealty to Donald Trump, 62-30. The incumbent will go up against conservative independent Evan McMullin, whom Democrats decided to support rather than field their own candidate.

 UT-01 (R): Freshman Rep. Blake Moore, who also voted to create a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attacks, beat retired intelligence officer Andrew Badger 59-27 in this safely red northern Utah seat.

 UT-03 (R): Finally, Rep. John Curtis, who also voted for a Jan. 6 commission, defeated former state Rep. Chris Herrod 71-29 in what was their third GOP primary contest. This seat in the Provo area and southeastern Utah is also dark red turf.

  Redistricting

LA Redistricting: In an unsurprising move, the Supreme Court's far-right supermajority voted without explanation to block a lower court decision that struck down Louisiana's congressional map for violating the Voting Rights Act over the objections of the three liberal justices. The court said it would hear a full appeal next term. As a result, Louisiana will use a map this year that features just a single Black congressional district out of six, despite the fact that the trial court determined that African Americans, who make up a third of the state's population, are entitled to a second district in which they can elect their preferred candidates under the VRA.

Senate

AK-Sen: Sen. Lisa Murkowski's allies at Alaskans For Lisa are using their first negative TV ad to attack former state cabinet official Kelly Tshibaka as "​​so extreme she wants to outlaw receiving contraceptives by mail," which is almost never the type of messaging we hear in a contest between two Republicans. However, the state's new top-four electoral system gives Murkowski's side an incentive to appeal to Alaska's entire electorate, not just the social conservatives who usually dominate GOP primaries

And there's good reason to think that this sort of ad could resonate even in a red state like this one. Civiqs finds that registered voters agree that abortion should be legal in most or all cases by a 50-45 margin, while other surveys have also shown that a majority of Alaskans support abortion rights.

AZ-Sen: Former Thiel Capital chief operating officer Blake Masters' newest commercial for the August primary features him standing next to Donald Trump as the GOP's actual master delivers a rare direct-to-camera appeal for one of his candidates. (Trump previously made a personal pitch for David Perdue in the primary for governor of Georgia which … did not end well for either man.)

After praising Masters as "strong on election fraud," Trump also uses this occasion to argue that two of his intra-party foes, Attorney General Mark Brnovich and wealthy businessman Jim Lamon, "will only let you down," though he uncharacteristically refrains from dissing them further. Masters himself only chimes in at the end to approve the commercial and shake Trump's hand, a practice Trump once dismissed as "barbaric."

MO-Sen: John Wood, a former Republican who served as a senior advisor to the Jan. 6 committee until last week, announced Wednesday morning that he’d run for this open seat as an independent. Wood previously served as U.S. Attorney for the Kansas City area under George W. Bush.

Wood launched his campaign shortly after former Republican Sen. John Danforth starred in a commercial that was part of what AdImpact reported is a $1.4 million buy from a PAC called Missouri Stands Unite. Danforth, who left office in 1995, didn’t mention Wood or anyone else by name but instead spent the 90 second commercial expressing his disillusionment with the state of American unity and argues that a victory for a nonaligned candidate would send a "message to politicians throughout America." Danforth, though, called for Wood to run before the independent launched his campaign.

NV-Sen, WI-Sen: Two new ads from two pro-choice groups in top-tier Senate races both focus on abortion in the wake of the Dobbs decision, but they use strikingly different language.

In Nevada, Women Vote, which is the super PAC arm of EMILY's List, says it's spending $2.1 million to castigate Republican Adam Laxalt for calling the Supreme Court's ruling an "historic victory." The narrator elaborates: "Unapologetically pro-life, Laxalt has made a career pushing to limit abortion rights, committed to taking control of every woman's personal decision and giving it to politicians."

Planned Parenthood, meanwhile, says it's putting $1.5 million behind an ad warning that the Supreme Court's decision will "trigger[] a ban on nearly all abortions in Wisconsin" because of an 1849 law outlawing abortion that's still on the books. She explains that Sen. Ron Johnson "sided with them on overturning Roe v. Wade—punishing doctors and hurting people. Putting our health and reproductive rights in danger." The voice-over concludes, "Johnson even said, if you don't like it, you can move." (Yep, he sure did.)

What's surprising is hearing an organization like EMILY's List use the term "pro-life"—a dastardly bit of Orwellian rhetoric deployed by the right for decades that has worked wonders to soften the image of a cruel movement designed to render women second-class citizens. Planned Parenthood wisely avoids the problem by eschewing labels altogether and simply describing the implications of Johnson's vision.

WA-Sen: Tiffany Smiley, who is the only serious Republican challenging Democratic incumbent Patty Murray, has released an internal from The Tarrance Group showing her trailing the senator only 48-43. An early June survey for the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling for the Northwest Progressive Institute gave Murray a larger 51-40 edge, but the Democrat has been taking this contest seriously. Politico reports that Murray has spent over $1 million on her opening ad campaign, including a recent spot where an OB-GYN warned, "You think women's reproductive health care is safe here in Washington? Not with Mitch McConnell's handpicked candidate in the U.S. Senate, Tiffany Smiley."

Governors

AZ-Gov: Former Rep. Matt Salmon announced Tuesday that he was dropping out of the August Republican primary, saying, “Unfortunately, numbers are numbers, and it has become clear to me that the path to a first-place victory is no longer a realistic possibility.” While Salmon only narrowly lost the 2002 general election for this post to Democrat Janet Napolitano, he lagged in polls and fundraising in his second campaign 20 years later.

The former congressman’s departure five weeks ahead of the primary leaves former TV news anchor Kari Lake, who has Trump’s endorsement, and Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson as the only two major GOP contenders. Self-funding businesswoman Paola Tulliani Zen is also in, but while she recently aired an ad declaring, “I’m going to cut the fat off our government like I cut the fat off my prosciutto,” she’s otherwise attracted very little attention.

MD-Gov: Goucher College, polling on behalf of the Baltimore Banner and WYPR, finds close contests in both party's July 19 primaries.

On the Democratic side, the school gives state Comptroller Peter Franchot the edge with 16% as former nonprofit head Wes Moore and former Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez are just behind with 14% each; former Attorney General Doug Gansler is a distant fourth with just 5%, while a 35% plurality of respondents are undecided. The only other independent poll we've seen here was an early June OpinionWorks poll that also put Franchot on top with 20% as Moore and Perez took 15% and 12%, respectively.

In the Republican primary, Goucher has Del. Dan Cox outpacing former state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz 25-22, with 44% undecided and no other candidates breaking 3%. OpinionWorks earlier this month gave Schulz, who has termed-out Gov. Larry Hogan's endorsement, a 27-21 advantage over the Trump-backed Cox.

House

AZ-01: Self-funder Elijah Norton's newest GOP primary commercial against incumbent David Schweikert features the congressman's former campaign treasurer, Karen Garrett, expressing some choice words about her old boss and the scandal that dogged him last cycle. Garrett tells the audience that Schweikert "reported a fraudulent $100,000 loan, $279,000 in illegal contributions, and more than $500,000 missing." She concludes, "Then he blamed his staff. He lied to us. Discovering the kind of person David has become has been one of the heartbreaks of my life."

FL-02: The local firm Sachs Media gives Republican Rep. Neal Dunn a small 43-40 edge over his Democratic colleague, Al Lawson, in the first poll we've seen of this incumbent vs. incumbent matchup. There's reason to think the undecided voters lean Republican, though: The sample also favors Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis 53-41 in a general election against Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist (Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is also seeking the Democratic nod for governor, was not tested), which closely matches Trump's 55-44 performance here in 2020.

FL-04: Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry on Tuesday became the latest prominent Republican to endorse state Sen. Aaron Bean in the August primary for this open seat.

FL-23: Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz has earned an endorsement from Hillary Clinton ahead of the Democratic primary.

FL-27: State Sen. Annette Taddeo has released an internal from SEA Polling and Strategic Design that shows her outpacing Miami Commissioner Ken Russell 51-15 in the Democratic primary to take on freshman Republican Rep. María Elvira Salazar.

OH-09: Democratic incumbent Marcy Kaptur is using her first TV ad against her opponent, QAnon-aligned activist J.R. Majewski, to highlight the Republican's involvement in the Jan. 6 attack. The narrator recounts, "He broke past the police barricades at the Jan. 6 Capitol riot" as the audience sees photos of Majewski in the crowd, continuing, "140 police officers were injured, one died." The speaker, who is now identified as a local voter, goes on to praise Kaptur's record supporting the police and funding a new jail before adding, "Look, reckless guys waving assault weapons don't make our families safer, more police in our neighborhoods do."

Ballot Measures

AK Ballot: Alaskans will vote this November on whether to hold a state constitutional convention, and the Alaska Beacon's Lisa Phu writes that this once-in-a-decade referendum has become an abortion rights battleground now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade. The Alaska Supreme Court in 1997 recognized that the state's governing document protects the right to an abortion, and pro-choice groups are urging voters to keep the status quo in place by voting "no."

Anti-choice forces, likewise, understand that a victory for the "yes" side would give them a chance to outlaw abortion in a state where it's otherwise difficult to amend the state constitution. It takes two-thirds of both the state House and Senate to put a constitutional amendment proposal on the ballot, and while two state Senate committees last year advanced a proposal reading, "To protect human life, nothing in this constitution may be construed to secure or protect a right to an abortion or require the State to fund an abortion," it failed to receive a floor vote in either chamber. Senate Republicans and their one Democratic ally currently hold a 14-6 supermajority, but the House is run by a coalition of Democrats, independents, and a few Republicans.  

If a majority voted "no" this fall, then this referendum would next take place in 2032. (Alaska is one of 14 states where constitutional convention questions automatically appear on the ballot after a set number of years; in 2012, "no" won 67-33.) If "yes" came out on top, however, the lieutenant governor's office says, "The process could take as long as four-plus years or, depending on the legislature, it could be as short as, say, two years." Phu explains that after the convention finished its work, voters would need to approve any amendments or other revisions to the constitution. The Last Frontier held its last constitutional convention in 1955 and 1956, which was a few years before Alaska became a state.

CA Ballot, VT Ballot: On Tuesday night, both chambers of California's Democratic-led legislature mustered up the two-thirds majorities needed to place a constitutional amendment on November's ballot that would affirm that "the state shall not deny or interfere with an individual's reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions, which includes their fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives."

Politico explains that, while "[p]rivacy rights already embedded in the state Constitution have been widely interpreted as protecting the right to abortion," Democratic leaders want to do everything they can to avoid any legal ambiguity especially now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned. Back in February, Vermont's Democratic-controlled legislature voted to place a similar constitutional amendment on its general election ballot that would safeguard "reproductive autonomy." Civiqs finds that at least 70% of registered voters in both states believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: On the very day of the special election to fill the vacancy caused by his resignation, former Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry learned that he would receive zero time in jail after he was convicted in March of lying to federal investigators in an effort to conceal illegal campaign funds he received from a foreign national.

Remarkably, U.S. District Court Judge Stanley Blumenfeld handed down the light sentence—two years of probation, community service, and a fine—because he concluded that "by all accounts the man is of exceptional character," adding, "The court is convinced that this wrongful, dishonest choice was out of character by Mr. Fortenberry." Making the sentence all the more inexplicable, Fortenberry still denies wrongdoing and once again said he would appeal—the very opposite of the sort of showing of contrition that might motivate a judge toward leniency.

Ad Roundup

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

Morning Digest: A pair of Republican congressmen stumble into tough runoff campaigns in Mississippi

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

 MS-03, MS-04: Two Mississippi Republicans―3rd District Rep. Michael Guest and 4th District Rep. Steven Palazzo―posted surprisingly weak showings in Tuesday’s primaries, and they each are in for a tough fight going into June 28 runoffs in their safely red constituencies.

Guest appeared secure before the votes started coming in, but with 45,000 ballots tabulated as of Wednesday morning, he trails his unheralded intra-party rival, Navy veteran Michael Cassidy, 48-47; another challenger named Thomas Griffin is taking the remaining 5%. A second round of voting would take place if neither Cassidy nor Guest earned a majority of the vote, though the Associated Press has not yet projected a runoff. Palazzo, however, is definitely going to be fighting it out on June 28, as he’s taking just 32% of the vote. The AP hasn’t called the second runoff spot, but Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell posts a 25-22 edge over banker Clay Wagner with 51,000 votes in.

Guest, a self-described “conservative Christian leader” and former district attorney, has almost entirely been a reliable Trumpist during his two terms representing the 3rd District, an east central Mississippi seat that’s also home to many of Jackson’s suburbs. The congressman, though, risked MAGA outrage last year when he became one of the 35 Republicans to vote in favor of a Jan. 6 commission last year, something that Cassidy zeroed in on.

However, while Cassidy worked hard to court more far-right outrage by pledging, as he puts it on his website, to “hold the Establishment's feet to the fire on numerous America First issues, including election integrity and the removal of all COVID mandates and restrictions,” he didn’t look like much of a threat for almost the entire campaign. Cassidy raised a mere $32,000 from donors through late May, though he also threw down $230,000 of his own cash.

Guest himself didn’t appear at all worried, and no outside groups got involved to aid either him or Cassidy. The congressman, though, seemed to acknowledge on election night that he’d run a complacent campaign, arguing, “I think people are confused about who we are and what we stand for. We’ve allowed our opponent to define that.” Guest continued, “So if this does go to a runoff, then we are going to make sure that people of the 3rd District know who we are, they know our conservative values, and when they have the chance to go back to the polls, we hope that we’re going to be able to better convince people that we are the right person to represent our state in Washington D.C.”

Palazzo, by contrast, was in more obvious danger in the neighboring 4th District along the Gulf Coast, though it was still startling to see him perform so poorly. The incumbent is the subject of a long-running ethics investigation into charges that he illegally used campaign funds for personal purposes, and he attracted six different intra-party opponents.

There have been no public developments about the probe in over a year, however, so it was unclear if this matter would end up hurting Palazzo with voters. His many challengers seemed to think he had even bigger vulnerabilities, because they largely focused on portraying the six-term incumbent as uninterested in doing his job. That’s not a new criticism, as Palazzo, writes Mississippi Today’s Adam Ganucheau, “notoriously holds few public events since he was first elected to Congress in 2010.”

However, the congressman gave his critics more fodder this year when he abruptly canceled a campaign forum for what his staff said were “meetings dealing with national security.” Hours later, Palazzo posted a picture on Facebook of himself and his son at a restaurant in Mississippi; “It is unclear,” Ganucheau writes, “if national security was among the topics Palazzo discussed with his college-aged son over dinner.”  

Palazzo’s rivals took him to task for missing multiple candidate events and casting numerous proxy votes that didn’t require him to be in D.C. (Palazzo previously filed a lawsuit trying to end those proxy vote rules that were set up early in the pandemic.) Ezell himself went after Palazzo’s absenteeism by holding an “I’ll Show Up” tour of the district, arguing, “South Mississippi needs a Congressman who will show up, speak up and stand up for our conservative values—every day.”

Like Guest, though, Palazzo didn’t seem to have any idea how much trouble he was in for much of the campaign, and he hadn’t even run any TV ads going into the final month of the contest. Indeed, Ganucheau wrote in early May, “One month from Election Day, it’s difficult to see signs he’s actually running.” Palazzo now has just three weeks to put together a viable campaign to turn his underwhelming 32% of the vote into the majority he needs to secure renomination.

More primaries also took place Tuesday in California, Iowa, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota. You can find the results at the links for each state; we’ll have a comprehensive rundown in our next Digest.

Redistricting

LA Redistricting: A federal court in Louisiana has struck down the state's new Republican-drawn congressional map, ruling that lawmakers' failure to create a second district where Black voters can elect their preferred candidate violates the Voting Rights Act. Judge Shelly Dick ordered the legislature to pass a remedial plan by June 20, and to that end, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has called a special session for June 15. But Republicans have already appealed the decision, and the arch-conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is likely to block it, much as the Supreme Court did with a very similar case out of Alabama earlier this year.

Senate

AK-Sen: Candidate filing closed June 1 for Alaska's Aug. 16 top-four primaries, and the state has a list of contenders available here. The four candidates who take the most votes, regardless of party, will face off in an instant-runoff general election on Nov. 8.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who has long had an uneasy relationship with state and national conservatives, faces eight Republicans, three Democrats, and eight independent or third-party foes in August. The only opponent who has attracted much attention, though, is former state cabinet official Kelly Tshibaka, a Republican hardliner who has Trump's endorsement. The most prominent Democrat is arguably Pat Chesbro, a Matanuska-Susitna Borough Planning Commission member and former high school principal who badly lost a 2014 race for state Senate.

AL-Sen: Politico reports that the Club for Growth's Conservative Outsiders PAC is spending $800,000 on what reporter Natalie Allison characterizes as the Club's "final" buy in support of Rep. Mo Brooks for the June 21 GOP runoff. The spot comes days after the Club reportedly cut $500,000 in ad time meant to help Brooks.

The narrator argues that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's allies are attacking the congressman because they "prefer a lobbyist" like his opponent, former Business Council of Alabama head Katie Britt, over a "proven conservative" like Brooks. The voiceover continues, "Britt ran a special interest group that worked with D.C. lobbyists backing amnesty for over 1 million illegal immigrants. And, Britt's group opposed making it harder for businesses to hire illegals."

AZ-Sen: The Republican firm Data Orbital, polling the August GOP primary on behalf of an unidentified client, finds wealthy businessman Jim Lamon edging out Attorney General Mark Brnovich 20-18, with former Thiel Capital chief operating officer Blake Masters at 15%. Trump endorsed Masters on Thursday, which happened to be the second day that this three-day poll was in the field.

PA-Sen: Democratic nominee John Fetterman has been off the campaign trail since he suffered a stroke on May 13, and his wife told CNN Monday, "I think he deserves a month break to come back as strong as ever." However, when Giselle Fetterman was asked if the candidate would be back in July, she responded, "Maybe. I think so. That's my hope."

That same day, John Fetterman's campaign began its first general election ads with a $250,000 buy on Fox News, which is usually not a venue where Democrats like to promote themselves. Unsurprisingly, though, the spots (here and here) focus on the lieutenant governor's blue collar image while highlighting him as an untraditional politician: In one commercial filmed before his health emergency, the 6 '9 tattooed candidate tells the audience, "I do not look like a typical politician. I don't even look like a typical person."

WI-Sen: Wednesday was also the deadline for Wisconsin's Aug. 9 primary, and you can find a list of candidates here.

Democrats have a competitive nomination contest to take on Sen. Ron Johnson, a far-right Republican who represents one of the swingiest of swing states. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who would be Wisconsin's first Black senator, has led in every primary poll that's been released and recently picked up an endorsement from the prominent union AFSCME Council 32.

The field also includes Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry, who recently released an internal showing him only narrowly behind Barnes, and state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski. Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson and nonprofit head Steven Olikara are also in, but they've each struggled in the polls and with fundraising. Two others, Milwaukee Alderwoman Chantia Lewis and administrator of Wisconsin Emergency Management Darrell Williams, announced last year but never filed to run.

Governors

AK-Gov: GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy is going up against four Republicans, four unaffiliated contenders, and one Democrat, former state Rep. Les Gara. The prominent challenger in this lot is former Gov. Bill Walker, an independent who was elected to his only term in 2014 with Democratic support but abandoned his re-election campaign four years later in an unsuccessful attempt to stop Dunleavy from winning. The incumbent also faces intra-party opposition from state Rep. Christopher Kurka and Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce, who are each positioning themselves to the right of the ardently conservative governor.  

AZ-Gov: The Republican pollster Data Orbital's newest look at the August GOP primary shows former TV news anchor Kari Lake with a small 27-23 edge over Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson, with former Rep. Matt Salmon well behind with 12%. While no other firm has released numbers showing things this close, Data Orbital finds Lake's lead expanding to 35-21 once respondents are informed she's Trump's choice. Still, even if those numbers are on target, it hardly guarantees that Lake only has room to grow as more voters learn about the Trump endorsement.

Georgia Republican David Perdue found that out the hard way after a December survey from Insider Advantage showed his 41-22 primary deficit against Gov. Brian Kemp transforming into a 34-34 tie after the pollster followed up, "As you may have heard, President Trump is planning to endorse David Perdue in the Republican Primary for Governor. Knowing this information, how would you vote?" Perdue spent the next months doing everything he possibly could to let the base know he was Trump's guy, but primary voters ended up rewarding him with a landslide 74-22 defeat.

Robson, like Kemp, is doing what she can to make sure this primary turns into anything other than a choice between a Trump-backed candidate and everyone else, and she's turning to former Gov. Jan Brewer to make her case that Lake isn't actually a loyal conservative. Brewer, who left office in 2015, begins a new ad for Robson by recounting her battles with the Obama administration over immigration before a picture flashes by of Lake with Obama. The former governor tells the audience, "Kari Lake? She donated to Obama and published a radical plan that even the liberal Arizona Republic called 'mass amnesty.'" Brewer spends the rest of the spot touting Robson as "a fighter, like me."

GA-Gov: Republican Gov. Brian Kemp uses his opening general election commercial to attack Democrat Stacey Abrams for labeling Georgia the "worst state in the country to live" because of its poor rankings in mental health, maternal mortality, and incarceration rates. Kemp's narrator, unsurprisingly, leaves out exactly why Abrams is so unhappy with the status quo, as well as her argument that "Georgia is capable of greatness. We just need greatness to be in our governor's office," and instead dismisses her with a "Bless her heart." The spot goes on to praise Kemp for having "reopened Georgia first" and for cutting taxes to "deal with Biden's inflation."

KS-Gov: State Sen. Dennis Pyle, a conservative hardliner who recently left the GOP to become an independent, announced Tuesday that he would challenge Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly without a party affiliation, a move that could ease Kelly’s path to victory against Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt. Pyle, who needs to turn in 5,000 valid signatures by Aug. 1 in order to qualify for the general election ballot, explained his decision in a statement arguing, “Due to the continual gross negligence in protecting and assisting citizens, my family and I have decided it is in the best interest of our state that I pursue running for Governor to enact solutions to stop the hardship of Kansans.”

Pyle himself has made a name for himself for trying to make it more difficult to vote in Kansas and for trying to hobble the state government’s response to COVID, but Republicans quickly sought to portray him as anything but a right-winger. Schmidt, who faces no serious opposition in the Republican primary, labeled Pyle a “fake conservative.” Kansans for Life also blasted the new candidate for “playing games with the lives of preborn babies and their mothers,” a reference to his missed vote for a proposed anti-abortion constitutional amendment (Pyle says he was absent for personal reasons).

Pyle himself has come into conflict numerous times with his now-former party’s leadership long before this. In 2010, he tried to ride the tea party wave to D.C. by challenging Rep. Lynn Jenkins for renomination in the 2nd Congressional District, but he lost 57-43. (He also took fifth in the 2018 primary to replace the retiring Jenkins.) Pyle this year opposed the legislature’s successful drive to pass a new congressional gerrymander, which resulted in him losing most of his committee assignments.

KY-Gov: State Rep. Savannah Maddox announced Tuesday that she was joining next year's Republican primary to take on Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear. Maddox, who once labeled Beshear's pandemic health measures "tyranny," is a close ally of 4th District Rep. Thomas Massie, and the duo last month backed three successful primary challenges against Maddox's colleagues. The state representative launched her campaign for governor this week by framing the nomination contest as between "moderate Republicans" and "an authentic conservative who has a proven track record of fighting every day for our freedoms."

WI-Gov: Four notable Republicans are competing to take on Democratic incumbent Tony Evers in what will be one of the most competitive governor contests in the nation.

The early frontrunner was former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who has the backing of her old boss, former Gov. Scott Walker, but she may be in for a tougher nomination battle than she expected. A mid-May survey from Public Policy Polling showed her narrowly trailing wealthy businessman Tim Michels, who badly lost the 2004 Senate race to Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold, 27-26, and Trump has since endorsed Michels. The field also includes businessman Kevin Nicholson, a former College Democrats of America president who lost a competitive 2018 Senate GOP primary, and state Rep. Timothy Ramthun, an ardent Big Lie proponent, though PPP showed them each badly lagging.

P.S. Amusingly, while Michels launched his bid for governor in late April by pledging, "I will never ask anyone for a donation," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Daniel Bice notes that Michels almost immediately began … asking people for donations. Michels this week also argued he'd remained a Wisconsinite despite owning multi-million dollar homes in Connecticut and New York, where his three children graduated high school, insisting, "I'm not going to apologize for my success."

House

AK-AL: Most of the 48 candidates running in Saturday's special top-four primary to succeed the late GOP Rep. Don Young filed to seek the full two-year term, but a few notable contenders decided to only compete in the special.

Both former state Rep. Andrew Halcro, who is a Republican-turned-independent, and Emil Notti, a Democrat who narrowly lost to Young in 1973, pledged to only run for the remainder of Young's term, and they kept that promise by not filing on June 1. North Pole City Council member Santa Claus, a self-described "independent, progressive, democratic socialist" who previously had his name changed from Thomas O'Connor, also will not be continuing on.

Altogether, 31 candidates are campaigning for a seat in the next Congress. The regular top-four primary will take place Aug. 16, which is the same day as the special general election for the final months of Young's term.

FL-15, FL-14: The August Republican primary for the new 15th District got smaller this week when former Rep. Dennis Ross and wealthy businessman Jerry Torres each dropped out. Ross, who unexpectedly retired in 2018 from a previous version of the 15th, said that he was abandoning his comeback bid because of "limited resources." By contrast Torres, who pledged to self-fund up to $15 million, announced that he would run instead against Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor in the 14th District even though, at 59-40 Biden, it's far tougher turf than the 51-48 Trump constituency he had been seeking.

FL-27, FL-Gov: Democratic state Sen. Annette Taddeo announced on Monday that she'd drop her bid for governor and would instead seek to run against freshman GOP Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar in south Florida's 27th Congressional District. Republicans made this seat several points redder in redistricting, shifting it from a 51-48 win for Joe Biden to a 50-49 margin for Donald Trump, but it remains one that Democrats are eager to target.

Last year, Taddeo had entered the gubernatorial primary behind two much better-known opponents, Rep. Charlie Crist and state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, and failed to gain any traction, with every recent poll showing her in the low single digits. But by switching races, Taddeo brings a high profile to a contest for a swingy seat that Democrat Donna Shalala picked up in 2018 but lost two years later.

After several unsuccessful bids for office, Taddeo flipped a Republican seat in the state Senate in an attention-grabbing 2017 special election, a perch that means she represents about a quarter of the congressional district she's now running for. The Colombia-born Taddeo also gives Democrats, who've lost serious ground with Hispanic voters in the region, the chance to put forward a Spanish-speaking Latina candidate.

First, though, Taddeo faces a matchup in the Aug. 23 primary with Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell, a one-time professional yo-yo player who reiterated his commitment to the race after Taddeo's entry. But Taddeo immediately hoovered up a series of major endorsements, with Shalala (who herself had still been considering a bid), Crist, and a couple of nearby congresswomen, Lois Frankel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, all giving her their backing.

The final name on that list represents quite the irony. In 2008, when Taddeo first ran for the House against Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Shalala's predecessor), Wasserman Schultz infamously refused to endorse Taddeo despite the fact that she was co-chair of the DCCC's Red to Blue program—the Democrats' campaign arm devoted to flipping Republican seats. Wasserman Schultz's absurd excuse that she couldn't get involved because of her supposed friendship with Ros-Lehtinen sparked immense outrage online and among Florida Democrats (we covered the scandal extensively at our predecessor site, the Swing State Project here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), but she never budged and Taddeo went on to lose 58-42.

Wasserman Schultz remains in office but her career has soured badly: She was greeted with widespread hostility when she floated the possibility of a Senate bid in 2015, and a year later, she was forced to resign as DNC chair after hackers released emails stolen from the committee. Taddeo, by contrast, is being hailed as a strong recruit at a time when Democrats could very much use one.

IL-15: Mary Miller is going up with an attack ad against fellow Republican Rep. Rodney Davis weeks after the better-funded Davis went on the offensive himself. Miller's narrator labels her colleague a "RINO" on guns before the ad makes use of old footage of Davis saying, "That's why the red flag law is so important and should be put on the floor." The second half of the spot reminds the audience that Trump is in Miller's corner in the June 28 primary and that she's "A-rated by the NRA, unlike Rodney Davis."

MO-04: Gov. Mike Parson has endorsed cattle farmer Kalena Bruce in the packed August Republican primary for this safely red seat, a contest that has lacked an obvious frontrunner. Parson, who now resides in the 4th District thanks to the new congressional map, explained he was taking sides because of his longtime friendship with Bruce's parents, saying, "I am going to return those favors at times like this."

NY-17: State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi on Tuesday unveiled an endorsement from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the prominent national progressive who represents the 14th District, for her August primary campaign against DCCC chair Sean Patrick Maloney.

AOC last month took Maloney to task for choosing to campaign for the new 17th District rather than the 18th, a more competitive seat that contains most of his current turf, a decision that threatened to instigate a primary battle against Rep. Mondaire Jones. Jones ultimately decided to run for the 10th, but Biaggi herself highlighted Maloney’s move when she launched her own campaign against him days later.

SC-07: With a week to go before the Republican primary, Rep. Tom Rice’s allies at Grand Strand Pee Dee PAC, which so far is responsible for all of the $260,000 in outside spending here, are doing everything they can to portray Trump-endorsed state Rep. Russell Fry as a secret liberal. Its commercial does not mention Rice, who is one of the 10 House Republicans who voted for impeachment, or any of the other challengers hoping to force the incumbent into a June 24 runoff.

The minute-long spot begins by faulting Fry for supporting gas and car sales taxes as well as the “largest tax increase in South Carolina history” before it attacks him for not stopping America from turning into a conservative nightmare. The narrator argues that Fry “hasn’t done enough to protect our borders,” “has done little to push back against woke radical left ideas like critical race theory,” and “hasn't done enough to keep these dangerous ideologies from poisoning the minds of our kids,” though the ad never actually goes into detail on what exactly the state representative should be doing.

TX-34 (special): House Majority PAC is spending $110,000 on a Spanish-language ad campaign against Republican Mayra Flores, which makes this the first TV ad on the Democratic side for the June 14 all-party primary. The commercial ties Flores to the Jan. 6 attack, arguing, “Mayra supported the conspirators and conspiracy theories that were part of the armed attack on Jan. 6, leaving 150 police officers injured and 5 dead, all thanks to criminals who promote the same lawlessness that Mayra Flores supports.”

VA-07: The NRA has endorsed state Sen. Bryce Reeves ahead of next week’s Republican nomination contest to take on Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger. The organization itself has dramatically diminished in recent years and it rarely spends much in primaries, but its stamp of approval can still give Republican office seekers a boost with conservatives.

WI-01: The new congressional map adopted by the state Supreme Court shrunk Donald Trump's margin of victory in this southeastern Wisconsin district from 54-45 to 50-48, but Republican incumbent Bryan Steil still doesn't look vulnerable this year. Businesswoman Ann Roe, who is the only Democrat who appears to have filed, ended March with only $80,000 on-hand. Still, even if Steil skates by this time, he could be in for a much tougher race in a better political climate for Democrats.

WI-03: Longtime Rep. Ron Kind is retiring from a southwestern Wisconsin district that, just like the constituency it replaces, would have supported Trump 51-47, and at least four fellow Democrats have filed to succeed him. Kind is backing state Sen. Brad Pfaff, who is his former chief of staff. Two other Democratic contenders, former CIA officer Deb McGrath and businesswoman Rebecca Cooke, also brought in a notable amount of money through the end of March.

The only Republican is 2020 nominee Derrick Van Orden, whose 51-49 defeat was still the closest race of Kind's congressional career. Months later, Van Orden used leftover campaign funds to attend the Jan. 6 insurrectionist rally in D.C., where, it appears, he went inside a restricted area on the Capitol grounds.

Attorneys General

MD-AG: OpinionWorks, working on behalf of the Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore, finds Rep. Anthony Brown beating former Judge Katie Curran O’Malley 42-29 in the July 19 Democratic primary for attorney general.

WI-AG: Three Republicans are competing to take on Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul. The most full-throated election denier is Karen Mueller, who founded a conservative legal organization and has declared that “the 2020 presidential election results must be decertified to restore the integrity and transparency of Wisconsin’s future elections.” Former state Rep. Adam Jarchow and Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney, writes NBC, “haven’t denied the results of the 2020 election.”

Ad Roundup

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

Morning Digest: Why this Washington Republican is running ads that sound like a Democrat’s

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

WA-03: Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who faces a MAGA-fueled insurgency on her right flank, is taking a decidedly centrist tack with her first TV ad of the race. The spot stars a woman named Darsi Ross, who says two of her kids have diabetes and praises the congresswoman for "fighting to cap the cost of insulin and other prescriptions." Herrera Beutler was one of just 12 House Republicans who voted in favor of a key Democratic bill in March that would limit the cost of insulin to $35 a month. However, her fellow Republicans in the Senate have so far blocked the legislation.

Many Democrats have run ads touting the measure, so it's unusual to see a Republican do the same. But Herrera Beutler is likely hoping to win over Democratic support in Washington's Aug. 2 top-two primary, where multiple ultra-conservative candidates are hoping to exact payback for her vote to impeach Donald Trump last year. One of them, Army veteran Joe Kent, has Trump's endorsement and has raised considerable sums, but at a recent candidate forum, he fretted about disunity on the far right, noting that one rival, businesswoman Heidi St. John, had reneged on an earlier pledge to unite behind Trump's choice.

Disarray among Herrera Beutler's intra-party critics might not end up mattering, though. Democrats vigorously sought to challenge the incumbent in both 2018 and 2020, but they lack a strong candidate this time. That's left Herrera Beutler with an opening to pursue middle-of-the-road voters in the primary, with the ultimate goal of landing herself in an all-Republican general election, whether against Kent or someone else. (In Washington, as in California, all candidates from all parties run together on a single primary ballot, with the two highest vote-getters advancing, regardless of party.)

In November, then, Herrera Beutler would try to woo moderate Republicans as well as Democrats, many of whom would be inclined to prefer her to an extremist like Kent. In a closely divided district like southwestern Washington's 3rd, which Trump would have carried 51-46, the strategy may well work. It's not without risks, though, since a fired-up Trumpist campaign would win the support of most Republicans while many Democrats might skip the race altogether rather than vote for the lesser of two evils.

Redistricting

FL Redistricting: Florida's conservative Supreme Court has declined to block Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' new congressional map from taking effect this year, meaning elections will proceed using gerrymandered districts that heavily benefit the GOP. Last month, a trial court ruled on an interim basis that the map violated the state constitution by discriminating against Black voters and ordered an alternative plan be used, but an intermediate appellate court quickly stayed that ruling. A trial seeking to strike down the map remains pending, but even if the case is resolved in the plaintiffs' favor, new districts would not be used until 2024.

Senate

AZ-Sen: Donald Trump has endorsed former Thiel Capital chief operating officer Blake Masters in the August GOP primary. Just like Trump's pre-primary endorsement of eventual Ohio GOP Senate nominee J.D. Vance, Trump's endorsement of Masters again puts him on the same page as far-right venture capitalist Peter Thiel, a billionaire megadonor who has almost single-handedly helped Masters and Vance run competitive races by donating millions in outside support, which has totaled $13.5 million for Masters thus far.

Trump backing Masters is also an unsurprising rebuke of state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a primary rival whom Trump has repeatedly bashed for certifying the 2020 election outcome.

FL-Sen: A new Public Policy Polling survey for Giffords PAC, which has endorsed Rep. Val Demings, finds Republican Sen. Marco Rubio leading Demings 47-41. The results are similar to what we've seen from most other pollsters throughout the race.

GA-Sen: Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock has dropped his first negative ad of the general election, highlighting one of the most bonkers things to ever come out of Republican Herschel Walker's mouth—and that's saying something. The entire spot features nothing but clips from a 2020 interview Walker did with far-right instigator Glenn Beck, and it really must be seen to be believed:

You know what, Glenn, I want to say something I probably shouldn't. Do you know right now I have something that can bring you into a building that would clean you from COVID as you walk through this, this dry mix. As you walk through the door, it will kill any COVID on your body. When you leave, it will kill the virus as you leave, this here product. They don't want to talk about that. They don't want to hear about that.

As Walker delivers his berserk pitch, on-screen text appears referencing a Daily Beast article from earlier this year headlined, "GOP Hopeful Herschel Walker Pushed Snake Oil Body Spray for COVID." According to Roger Sollenberger, Walker even managed to flummox Beck, who at one point did "a double-take" and soon changed the conversation. Chyrons aside, Warnock is obviously betting that Walker's words alone will be enough to alienate voters.

Governors

OH-Gov: Suffolk University, which recently released polling for Ohio's Senate race, has now also put out numbers for the state's gubernatorial contest. The survey finds Republican Gov. Mike DeWine leading Democratic nominee Nan Whaley 45-30, with Niel Petersen, a far-right pastor and Army veteran running as an independent, taking an unusually large 11% of the vote; 13% are undecided. This is the first public poll of the race conducted this year.

OR-Gov: The first-ever public poll of Oregon's open race for governor comes from Republican pollster Nelson Research, which finds the GOP's nominee, former state House Minority Leader Christine Drazan, edging out Democrat Tina Kotek, the former speaker of the state House, 30-28, with former state Sen. Betsy Johnson, a conservative Democrat turned independent, taking 19% of the vote and 24% of voters undecided. It's not clear whether Nelson Research conducted this poll on behalf of a client or for itself.

MI-Gov: Businessman Perry Johnson has field an emergency appeal asking the state Supreme Court to reverse Wednesday's unanimous state Court of Appeals ruling that had rejected his bid to get onto the ballot after he and several other GOP candidates were disqualified from running last week over fraudulent voter petition signatures, though time is quickly running short with state officials facing a Friday deadline to finalize the August primary ballot. Citing that same Court of Appeals ruling, the lower state Court of Claims later on Wednesday also rejected former Detroit Police Chief James Craig's lawsuit to get onto the ballot, and Craig likewise vowed to appeal.

Meanwhile, Michigan Right to Life, which Bridge Michigan describes as the most influential anti-abortion group in state GOP politics, has endorsed right-wing radio host Tudor Dixon ahead of the August primary.

House

AZ-06: State Rep. Daniel Hernandez has publicized a new Impact Research poll of the Democratic primary for Arizona's open 6th Congressional District (the successor to the 2nd) that finds him leading former state Sen. Kirsten Engel 36-20, with 42% undecided. Only one notable Republican, former Doug Ducey advisor Juan Ciscomani, is seeking this seat, which Joe Biden would have carried by a bare 49.3-49.2 margin, according to Dave's Redistricting App.

IL-01: The Chicago Teachers Union, which says it represents more than 25,000 members citywide, has endorsed businessman Jonathan Jackson, who is the son of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, in the crowded June 28 Democratic primary for this open seat.

IL-06: Democratic Majority for Israel PAC, which has backed more moderate Democrats against more progressive opponents in numerous contests this cycle, has launched a TV ad calling Democratic Rep. Marie Newman corrupt. The ad cites the Office of Congressional Ethics' conclusion back in January that there was "substantial reason to believe" Newman had violated government ethics rules and federal law by signing a contract promising a job in her congressional office to a potential primary opponent in exchange for him not running against her, which the OCE had forwarded to the House Ethics Committee since the OCE itself lacks the power to punish members for ethics violations.

The quid pro quo allegedly took place during Newman's successful 2020 primary challenge rematch against conservative Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski and involved professor Iymen Chehade, a progressive activist and former Newman policy adviser who later sued her for breach of contract after she didn't end up hiring him following the primary, which Newman narrowly won 47-45. Newman and Chehade ended up reaching a settlement and signing a nondisclosure agreement, and Chehade is waging a longshot Democratic primary bid for the open 3rd District this cycle.

MN-01: Despite filing to run in the regular August Republican primary earlier this week after losing last month's special election primary, former Freeborn County GOP chair Matt Benda says he is not actually running again, claiming that there were FEC "issues" with his failed special election campaign that he needed to resolve before withdrawing from the race and that he had filed to remove his name from the August ballot on Thursday.

State Rep. Jeremy Munson, who lost last month's special primary 38-37 to former Department of Agriculture official Brad Finstad, also raised eyebrows among Republicans by filing to run in the regular election despite endorsing Finstad and saying he may even leave politics following his loss in the special primary. However, MinnPost suggested that Munson, who has yet to comment on his intentions, may be running a ghost campaign in order to continue raising donations to pay back a $200,000 loan he previously made to his campaign during the special election.

NY-04: Nassau County Legislator Siela Bynoe has dropped out of the Democratic primary, citing the recent court-ordered redistricting map as detrimental to her chances of winning this open seat. Bynoe's departure leaves former Hempstead Supervisor Laura GIllen, fellow Nassau County Legislator Carrié Solages, and Malverne Mayor Keith Corbett as the main candidates still running in the August Democratic primary.

NY-23: State GOP chair Nick Langworthy is reportedly circulating ballot petitions to run after Rep. Chris Jacobs kicked up a hornet's nest within the GOP by saying last Friday that he would support an assault weapons ban in the wake of recent mass shootings, though Langworthy has yet to address whether he's considering challenging the incumbent in the Aug. 23 primary. However, the filing deadline is quickly approaching on June 10.

One key vulnerability Jacobs may have is that he only represents 36% of the new district following redistricting. Another 58% of the new district comes from the existing version of the 23rd, which is presently vacant thanks to former GOP Rep. Tom Reed's resignation. While the upcoming Aug. 23 special election to replace Reed in the old 23rd will see GOP party chairs pick a nominee beforehand rather than that candidate gaining the support of GOP voters there by winning a primary, the eventual special election nominee or another Republican could still have a major opening to challenge Jacobs for a full term in the revised district thanks to geography.

SC-01: Rep. Nancy Mace has unveiled a new ad ahead of the June 14 GOP primary that opens with ominous notes on threats from authoritarian regimes in Russia, China, and Iran before going on to argue that voters can't trust former state Rep. Katie Arrington to "keep America safe," claiming that Arrington's Defense Department "top security clearance" was revoked because of concerns she had disclosed classified information.

Meanwhile, Arrington is firing back with a spot that ties Mace to Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to argue the incumbent is a liberal before showing footage of Trump bashing Mace at a rally and urging voters to reject her; Trump has previously endorsed Arrington.

VA-02: Winning for Women, which supports electing more GOP women to Congress and is backing state Sen. Jen Kiggans in the June 21 Republican primary, has publicized a Basswood Research poll that shows Kiggans holding a huge 43-9 lead over Air Force veteran Tommy Altman, with 2020 candidate Jarome Bell taking 8% and 40% of voters undecided.

Attorneys General

SD-AG: Republican Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, who faces an impeachment trial later this month, will not seek re-election this fall, according to unnamed sources who spoke with Dakota News Now's Austin Goss. In April, South Dakota's Republican-run state House voted to impeach Ravnsborg, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges for striking and killing a man with his car in September of 2020 but avoided jail time. It would take a two-thirds vote in the Senate to remove him from office.

Ravnsborg had resisted widespread calls from his own party to resign following the fatal crash, but he had yet to confirm whether he'd run for a second term. He had already been facing an intra-party challenge from his predecessor, Marty Jackley, who left office due to term limits in 2018. In addition, Dave Natvig, a top Ravnsborg deputy described by Goss as a "long-time political ally" of the incumbent, also kicked off a campaign last month. The GOP nomination will be decided at a party convention that starts on June 23—the day after Ravnsborg's trial is slated to end.

Ad Roundup

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