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

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

Leading Off

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

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

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

Campaign Action

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

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

Senate

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

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

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

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

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

Governors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

House

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

Legislatures

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

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

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

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

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

Mayors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morning Digest: Mega MAGA perennial candidate is throwing a scare into New Jersey GOP’s frontrunner

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

Leading Off

NJ-Gov: It looks like the Democratic Governors Association wants to stir up some GOP anxiety by releasing a poll of New Jersey's June 8 Republican primary for governor that shows the ostensible frontrunner, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, leading perennial candidate Hirsh Singh just 29-23.

But with Hudson County pastor Phil Rizzo taking 8% and former Franklin Mayor Brian Levine at just 2%, according to the survey from Public Policy Polling, that means 38% of voters are undecided, so there's lots of room left for wiggling. Perhaps most surprisingly, PPP's numbers also suggest that a recent Singh poll that had him up 22-20 weren't completely bonkers.

Ciattarelli seems to agree. As the New Jersey Globe's David Wildstein notes, he just went up with ads criticizing Singh for "attacking our men and women in blue" alongside "the woke mob" and aggressively criticized his rival in the lone debate of the race on Tuesday night. Singh has portrayed himself as the only true Trump acolyte running, which explains why Ciattarelli's ad labels him a "fake MAGA candidate."

Campaign Action

It's all quite a turnaround from where we were just last month: Ciattarelli was acting as though he had the nomination sewn up, seeing as he was firing off a barrage of ads attacking Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy. We'll know in less than two weeks how premature his pivot to the general election really was.

Senate

MO-Sen: The Missouri Independent reports that, according to unnamed "sources familiar with her plans," Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler will announce a Senate bid early next month.

OH-Sen: Republican Rep. Bill Johnson, who'd been considering a Senate bid ever since Rob Portman unexpectedly announced his retirement in January, has opted against joining the race. Johnson cited the presence of several well-funded candidates already seeking the GOP nod (including some with personal wealth) as an obstacle, explaining, "I'm not going to deny that coming from a base in Appalachia, where fundraising is a challenge under the best of circumstances, it can be exceptionally slow in a contested primary." Johnson's 6th Congressional District ranks 359th in the nation in median household income.

WI-Sen: State Sen. Chris Larsen kicked off a bid Wednesday for the Democratic nomination to take on Republican Sen. Ron Johnson (who still hasn't said whether he's seeking re-election). Larsen has represented a seat in the Milwaukee area for a decade and has twice sought the position of Milwaukee County executive, including an extremely tight 2020 race that he lost 50.05-49.52 to fellow Democrat David Crowley.

Larsen is the fourth notable Democrat to enter the race, after state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry, and Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson.

Governors

CA-Gov: The nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California finds the likely recall election of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom failing by a 57-40 margin, virtually unchanged from its 56-40 result in March.

NV-Gov: Politico's Alex Isenstadt reports that former Sen. Dean Heller is "preparing to run for governor" next year and is meeting with party leaders about a bid at a conference hosted by the Republican Governors Association, according to unnamed sources "familiar with the conversations." Heller's apparent interest in running—and the RGA's interest in him—is particularly notable because of the recent entry of Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, who just gave the GOP a high-profile candidate with experience winning in Nevada's most populous (and bluest) county.

But that's precisely why Lombardo's conservative bona fides might come into question. Two years ago, for instance, he ended the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's collaboration with ICE to detain individuals arrested on local charges until federal officials can apprehend them if they are also suspected of immigration violations.

Heller, however, may not be the antidote. These days, fealty to conservative dogma is entirely subordinate to fealty to Donald Trump when it comes to Republican primary voters, and the ex-senator has not scored well on that front. Most vividly, he earned undying Trumpist ire when he initially voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act in 2017, then sealed his doom when he later voted in favor of doing so. The painful flip-flop played a key role in his 50-45 loss to Democrat Jackie Rosen, which Trump himself claimed came as a consequence of Heller being "extraordinarily hostile" to him.

So who will claim the Trump mantle? The third notable candidate in the race, North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, was a Democrat until last month (albeit a conservative one), a resume that poses its own obvious problems. That could leave an opening for someone else, but the most prominent name still considering the race, Rep. Mark Amodei, has been an imperfect disciple: Just two years ago, after he expressed a vague openness to Trump's first impeachment, the extremist (and extremely well-funded) Club for Growth threatened to back a primary challenger. Amodei wound up voting against impeachment, of course, but as far as the die-hards are concerned, it's very hard to erase the taint of sinning against Trump in the first place.

VA-Gov: As the June 8 Democratic primary for Virginia’s open gubernatorial race approaches, we have a rundown of candidate spending on TV ads. According to Medium Buying, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe is outspending former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy on the airwaves $3.28 million to $1.33 million. The pair are dwarfing the rest of the field as the third-biggest spender, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, has shelled out just $108,000.

On the Republican side, businessman Glenn Youngkin, who already has the nomination locked up, is out with his first general election spot. In the commercial, he plays up his business experience and attempts to paint himself as an outsider. He also takes a veiled swipe at McAuliffe, the Democratic frontrunner, when he proclaims, “What we need isn’t a politician or worse: the same politician”.

House

FL-10: With Rep. Val Demings running for Senate, fellow Democrats are lining up to succeed her in Florida's 10th Congressional District, located in the Orlando area. Former State Attorney Aramis Ayala, who served one term as the top prosecutor in Orange and Osceola counties, had been considering a Senate bid herself but quickly shifted gears and announced a bid for Demings' seat. State Sen. Randolph Bracy has jumped in as well; he, too, reportedly had his eye on statewide office—in his case, the governorship.

Civil rights attorney and Navy veteran Natalie Jackson also kicked off a campaign this week. She is best known for her work on behalf of a number of families who've lost relatives to police violence, including those of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

GA-10: Wealthy businessman Matt Richards is the latest Republican to enter the race for Georgia's deep-red 10th Congressional District. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported that he's prepared to self-fund at least $1 million in his bid for this open seat.

ME-02: Republican state Rep. Mike Perkins, who said last month that he was exploring a bid against Democratic Rep. Jared Golden, has now filed paperwork to create a campaign committee with the FEC.

NM-01: Democrat Melanie Stansbury is out with a positive ad ahead of Tuesday’s special election. The spot touts her background in the district and also attempts to tie herself to the Biden administration. Stansbury is pictured with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (whose confirmation to that position opened this seat) and first lady Jill Biden as the voiceover says “In Congress, she’s ready to get to work with President Biden.”

Stansbury was endorsed by Biden himself earlier this week, and second gentlemen Douglas Emhoff is slated to campaign with her on Thursday.

Attorneys General

OK-AG: Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter abruptly announced his resignation on Wednesday, a day after The Oklahoman sent him questions about an alleged extramarital affair with a state employee. Hunter, who filed for divorce last week, did not respond to the questions or address any details, but in a statement he said, "Regrettably, certain personal matters that are becoming public will become a distraction for this office."

Hunter, a Republican, was appointed to the office by then-Gov. Mary Fallin in 2017 after the incumbent at the time, Scott Pruitt, was tapped by Donald Trump to run the EPA. He easily won election in his own right the following year, defeating Democrat Mark Myles 64-36, and had been gearing up to run for a second full term next year. Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who had experienced some friction with Hunter, will now be able to name a replacement of his own.

Mayors

Boston, MA Mayor: There's no doubt that Boston will elect a person of color as mayor for the first time ever now that candidate filing has closed in this year's all-Democratic race, but as Gabby Deutch notes in her deep look at the field for Jewish Insider, this year's contest is very different from those of the past in another key way: None of the six serious contenders, writes Deutch, "are actively seeking the endorsement of the city's police union."

Of this sextet, only City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George has spoken out against the idea of reallocating funds from the police budget to other areas, though she's acknowledged that "tough conversations" are needed on the future of law enforcement. The rest of the field consists of acting Mayor Kim Janey, who was elevated from City Council president to the top job earlier this year; City Councilors Andrea Campbell and Michelle Wu; state Rep. Jon Santiago; and the former head of economic development for the city, John Barros. All have called for changes in how the police conduct their work.  

While a major part of this shift is due to the national movement aimed at reforming law enforcement, two unrelated scandals involving senior Boston police officials have also dominated the headlines in recent months. In April, the public learned that former officer Patrick Rose, who would later go on to head the police union, remained on the force in the mid-1990s even though a contemporary internal report concluded there was enough evidence to charge him with molesting a 12-year-old.

Other documents said that Rose had been placed on administrative duty, but even this limited sanction was withdrawn after the union threatened to file a grievance on his behalf. Rose is currently under indictment for allegedly abusing other children during the subsequent decades.

The second matter is a still-unfolding debacle that began in late January, after then-Mayor Marty Walsh was nominated to become secretary of labor but before he was confirmed. Boston Police Commissioner William Gross announced his resignation shortly after Joe Biden tapped Walsh for his cabinet, prompting Walsh to immediately appoint Gross' close friend and chief of staff, Dennis White, to succeed him.

Just days later, though, Walsh placed White on leave after the Boston Globe began asking about allegations that the new commissioner had abused his wife in 1999. Walsh also commissioned a report into what had happened, but it was still unfinished when Janey took over as acting mayor in March.

That report was released this month, though, and it revealed a previously unknown 1993 confrontation between White and a 19-year-old. The investigator, Tamsin Kaplan, also said that both the police and the Walsh administration had interfered with her probe, with Kaplan writing, "One retired BPD officer told me that they had received at least five phone calls directing them not to talk with me."

Janey quickly announced she would fire White, who went to court in an effort to block her from doing so. Gross also filed an affidavit saying that Walsh had known about the allegations against White when he made the appointment, something that the labor secretary quickly denied. It may be some time before all of this is settled: While a state judge ruled that Janey could fire White, she issued a stay the next day, allowing the commissioner to keep his job while he appeals.

It remains to be seen how this ongoing mess will impact September's officially nonpartisan face-off, which will winnow the field down to two ahead of the November general election. The entire field agrees that White needs to be replaced, though Essaibi George still accepted an endorsement from Gross, who briefly considered running for mayor himself. (A far-less controversial public safety group, the local firefighters union, is also backing her.)

There has been little polling here, though a MassINC survey conducted last month found a 46% plurality undecided. That poll also showed Wu leading Janey 19-18, while fellow Campbell was in third with 6%.

Janey's ascension to the mayor's office in March made her the city's first Black mayor, as well as its first woman leader, and she would again make history if she won the post in her own right this year. Wu, Campbell, and Essaibi George would also each be the first woman elected to the top job.

All of the contenders would also achieve another historic first. Wu, who has the backing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren and many of the young activists who helped propel Ed Markey to victory in his own Senate primary last year, would be the first Asian American person to lead Boston. Campbell or former city administration official John Barros, meanwhile, would be the first Black person elected in a city that still has a reputation for racism targeting African Americans. State Rep. Jon Santiago, meanwhile, would be Boston's first Latino chief executive, while Essaibi George would be its first Arab American leader.

New York City, NY Mayor: A new poll from Core Decision Analytics on behalf of Fontas Advisors, a lobbying group that is not working for any candidates, shows Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams leading 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang 18-13 in the June 22 Democratic primary, with former city Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia at 13%. That’s a notable shift from March, when this firm had Yang beating Adams 16-10 as Garcia barely registered with just 2% of the vote.

Garcia was endorsed by the New York Times earlier this month, and another survey also shows her gaining ground since then. Yang recently released a Slingshot Strategies poll that found him edging out Adams 19-16, with city Comptroller Scott Stringer and Garcia at 13% and 10%, respectively; in late April, Slingshot showed Yang leading Stringer 24-16, with Garcia at 3%. This May survey has Yang beating Adams by a narrow 51-49 after simulating the instant runoff process.

Meanwhile, another candidate is in bad shape heading into the final weeks. Three senior staffers for nonprofit head Dianne Morales, including her campaign manager, resigned over the last few days over what Politico calls “accusations of mistreatment, inadequate pay and lack of unionization and health care.” Morales responded by saying she “accepted accountability in my role as the head of this campaign that allowed for this harm to occur.”

Prosecutors

Manhattan, NY District Attorney: The June 22 Democratic primary to succeed Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is coming up quickly, and voters got another reminder of the power of this office on Tuesday when news broke that the retiring incumbent had convened a grand jury to weigh potential charges for Donald Trump. It remains to be seen what role Vance's eventual successor would have in this matter, but there's no question that whoever wins the primary in this extremely blue borough will be the overwhelming favorite to head what's arguably the most prominent local prosecutor's office in America.

Eight Democrats are competing in a race where it takes just a plurality to win the Democratic nomination. (While New York City voters backed a 2019 referendum to institute instant-runoff voting in primaries for many local offices, the measure does not apply to state-level posts like this one.) Almost all of the contenders have pitched themselves as progressives who will bring much-needed changes to the post, but as the New York Times' Jonah Bromwich explained in March, there are some important differences between them.

"The race can be divided into two camps," wrote Bromwich, "with three candidates who have not worked as prosecutors and five who have." The former group consists of civil rights attorney Tahanie Aboushi, public defender Eliza Orlins, and Assemblyman Dan Quart, who is also the only elected official running. This trio, wrote Bromwich, has argued that the D.A.'s role needs to involve a shift "toward reducing incarceration and cutting back prosecution of low-level crimes."

The five ex-prosecutors in the contest are Alvin Bragg, Liz Crotty, Diana Florence, Lucy Lang, and Tali Farhadian Weinstein. Crotty, a self-described centrist backed by several police unions, has run to the right of the field and cast doubt on reform efforts, saying at one debate, "I am the candidate who from the beginning of my campaign has talked about public safety." The remainder, says Bromwich, have "pitched themselves as occupying a middle ground, focused on less sweeping changes."

(The Appeal's Sam Mellins has also detailed the candidates' views on key issues, including sentencing and sex work, with helpful graphics breaking down where the field stands.)

As Bromwich noted, every contender save Quart would achieve a historic first should they prevail. Six of the candidates would be the first woman to win this office, while Aboushi would additionally be the first Muslim or Arab American to hold the post. Bragg, meanwhile, would be Manhattan's first Black district attorney.

There's still no clear frontrunner, but two of the candidates have significantly more resources than the rest of the field. Farhadian Weinstein, who is married to wealthy hedge fund manager Boaz Weinstein, took in $2.2 million from mid-January to May 17, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that more than half of her haul "came from four dozen donors, many of whom work in the financial sector."

Bragg raised a considerably smaller $710,000 during this time, though he led Farhadian Weinstein, who has been spending heavily, in cash-on-hand for the stretch run, $1.2 million to $805,000. Bragg also has the backing of three of the city's most politically influential unions, and he's benefited from $1 million in outside spending from Color of Change.

Aboushi had the third-largest war chest with $560,000 on-hand, while Quart and Orlins had $555,000 and $525,000 in the bank, respectively. Lang, who has been self-funding much of her race, had $400,000 available , while Crotty was further back with $250,000; Florence brought up the rear with $115,000 on-hand.

Obituaries

John Warner, a Republican who served as Senator from Virginia from 1979 through 2009, died Tuesday at the age of 94. Warner cultivated a reputation for moderation and bipartisanship during his 30 years in the Senate, and he was long willing to oppose Republicans he disliked. In 1994, rather than back Iran-Contra figure Oliver North’s campaign against Democratic colleague Chuck Robb, Warner recruited another Republican, 1989 gubernatorial nominee Marshall Coleman, to run as an independent, a development that helped Robb win in that disastrous year for Democrats.

Warner served as secretary of the Navy during the Nixon administration from 1972 to 1974, and he attracted global attention in 1976 when he married the famed actress Elizabeth Taylor. Warner ran for an open Senate seat in 1978 but lost the GOP nominating convention to a more conservative opponent, Richard Obenshain. Obenshain, though, died in a plane crash two days later, and party officials selected Warner as their new nominee.

Warner was often overshadowed by his famous spouse during that campaign. The most remembered incident of the contest occurred in the Appalachian community of Big Stone Gap, where Taylor was hospitalized after a chicken bone became lodged in her throat, an experience that made it to “Saturday Night Live.” Warner ultimately ended up very narrowly beating his Democratic opponent, former state Attorney General Andrew Miller, 50.2-49.8, a margin of fewer than 5,000 votes. Warner spent his first few years in office still known mostly as Taylor’s husband, though their marriage ended during his first term in 1982.

Warner himself easily won re-election two years later, and he had no Democratic opposition at all in 1990. In 1996, though, he faced a serious general election challenge from wealthy businessman Mark Warner. The race was defined by the novelty of a contest between the two unrelated Warners: The challenger ordered “Mark, not John” bumper stickers that were sometimes mistaken for a biblical reference, while the incumbent urged voters to “make your mark for John.” The Republican, though, appeared safe, so it was a surprise when he held off Mark Warner just 53-47.

John Warner won his last term in 2002 again without Democratic opposition, and almost no one guessed this would be the last time Team Red would win a Virginia Senate race through today. Warner decided not to run again in 2008 and was easily succeeded by his old opponent Mark Warner, who had been elected governor during the ensuing years.

John Warner went on to back the Democratic incumbent in 2014, an endorsement that may have made the difference in what proved to be an unexpectedly tight race. Warner would go on to support Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden over Donald Trump and back a number of Democratic congressional candidates, though he still endorsed Republican nominee Ed Gillespie’s failed 2017 run for governor.

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

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

Leading Off

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1Q Fundraising

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Governors

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

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

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

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

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

House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legislatures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mayors

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

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

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

Morning Digest: Boston just elevated its first woman and first person of color to the city’s top job

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

Leading Off

Boston, MA Mayor: Boston City Council President Kim Janey made history on Monday when she ascended to the position of acting mayor following incumbent Marty Walsh's resignation that evening to become U.S. secretary of labor. Janey, who is Black, is the first person of color to lead one of America's oldest cities, as well as the first woman to serve as mayor.

Janey's elevation also comes at a time when she and other women and people of color have been making rapid electoral gains in a city that has long had a reputation for racism. Janey herself, at the age of 11, was riding a bus that was attacked by a mob when she was being driven to school in a heavily white neighborhood, an incident that took place in 1976, at the height of the city's infamous busing crisis.

It took another 33 years before Ayanna Pressley's victory made her the first-ever woman of color elected to the City Council in 2009. Change began to accelerate three years ago, though, when Pressley attracted national attention after defeating longtime Rep. Michael Capuano in the Democratic primary, an accomplishment that positioned her to become the first woman of color to ever represent Massachusetts in Congress a few months later.

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That same evening, another Black woman, Rachael Rollins, won the Democratic primary in the open-seat race for district attorney in Suffolk County, which includes all of Boston, and likewise prevailed that fall. Janey herself became the first African American woman to lead the City Council in 2020, a 13-member body that now includes a total of eight women and seven members of color.

Janey has not yet said if she'll seek a full four-year term as mayor this year, though the Boston Globe's James Pindell writes that "it would be surprising if she decided not to." We'll know the answer before too long, as the deadline to turn in the necessary 3,000 signatures to appear on the ballot is May 18.

All the candidates will face off in September in an officially nonpartisan race known locally as the "preliminary election." The two contenders with the most votes will then advance to a November face-off. There's little question that the eventual winner will identify as a Democrat in this very blue city; what's up for grabs is who that Democrat will be.

Boston hasn't ousted an incumbent mayor since 1949, when John Hynes defeated the legendary and controversial incumbent James Michael Curley. Only one acting mayor has sought a full term in the seven decades since, after another City Council president, Thomas Menino, assumed the top job in July of 1991 following Mayor Raymond Flynn's resignation to become Bill Clinton's ambassador to the Vatican. Menino took first place just two months later in the preliminary election amidst a crowded field, then decisively won the general election that year and left office in 2014 as the city's longest-serving mayor.

No matter what Janey decides, however, we're once again sure to see a busy race. Two of Janey's fellow city councilors, Andrea Campbell and Michelle Wu, had each announced last year that they'd challenge Walsh, back when most politicos assumed he'd be seeking a third term. The dynamics dramatically changed in January, though, when Joe Biden nominated Walsh to lead the Department of Labor.

Following that development, three other notable candidates declared bids prior to Walsh's departure: City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George, state Rep. Jon Santiago, and John Barros, the city's former economic development chief. In a sign of just how much politics have changed in Boston, all of these contenders are people of color. There's still a while to go before filing closes, though, and others could still join the contest.

Senate

GA-Sen: Banking executive Latham Saddler confirmed this week that he is considering seeking the Republican nomination to take on Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. Saddler is a Navy SEAL veteran who went on to serve as a Trump White House fellow, and he does not appear to have run for office before.

Meanwhile, Politico has obtained a survey from the GOP firm OnMessage that tests several other prospective candidates in a hypothetical primary. Reporter Alex Isenstadt says that, while OnMessage advises the NRSC, it is not working for any of the possible contenders.

In a four-way match-up, OnMessage gives former Rep. Doug Collins a 35-27 lead over former NFL running back Herschel Walker. Former Sen. Kelly Loeffler takes third with 22%, while QAnon ally and freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is at 7%. In a two-way contest, Collins bests Loeffler 55-36.

Both Collins and Loeffler, who faced off last year in an all-party special election primary, are talking about running again. Donald Trump has publicly urged Walker to get in, but while he's reportedly thinking about it, many observers are skeptical the Texas resident will return to Georgia for a campaign. Greene has not shown any obvious interest in a statewide bid, but that hasn't stopped establishment Republicans from fretting about the idea.

MO-Sen: Former Gov. Eric Greitens on Monday became the first notable Missouri Republican to announce a bid to succeed retiring Sen. Roy Blunt, a deeply unwelcome development for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's hopes of reclaiming a majority next year.

As Politico reported earlier this month, a number of Republicans fear that Greitens, who left office in disgrace three years ago, could endanger Team Red's hold over Blunt's seat if he wins the primary. Some intra-party critics even compared Greitens to Todd Akin, whose "legitimate rape" debacle sunk the GOP's prospects in the Show Me State's 2012 Senate race.

It's easy to see why Greitens could be so toxic even in a state that's galloped away from Democrats over the last decade. Greitens' political career began with promise when he was first elected to the governorship in 2016, but it swiftly began to unravel early in 2018 in the face of allegations that he'd sexually assaulted a woman he was having an affair with and blackmailed her into silence.

Prosecutors soon wound up indicting Greitens not once but twice: First on allegations of first-degree felony invasion of privacy related to the assault scandal, and soon after on unrelated charges of computer tampering involving his charity for veterans (Greitens is a former Navy SEAL). The Republican-led state legislature, which had little love for the governor after spending a year feuding with him, also took steps toward removing him from office.

Greitens finally resigned at the end of May, a move that St. Louis prosecutor Kimberly Gardner claimed came in exchange for her decision to drop the tampering charges. A short while later, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker also abandoned the assault and blackmail case, saying that while she believed Greitens' accuser, she did not think she could prove the charges.

With that abrupt fall from grace, Greitens became the shortest-tenured governor in Missouri history. His time in politics appeared to be at an end, and he spent most of the following two years avoiding the media. However, he re-emerged in February of last year after getting some mostly welcome news from the Missouri Ethics Commission. The commission announced that it was fining Greitens $178,000 after ruling that his 2016 campaign had not disclosed its coordination with a federal PAC and a nonprofit. However, it also said there was "no evidence of any wrongdoing" by Greitens himself and forgave most of the fine.

Greitens immediately laundered those findings (which concerned only his campaign, not the assault allegations) to make a broad-based claim he'd just received a "total exoneration" (he hadn't). He also didn't rule out a 2020 primary bid for his old job as governor against his replacement, Gov. Mike Parson, though he ultimately backed off. However, he started talking up a challenge to Blunt earlier this month, arguing that the incumbent had shown insufficient fealty to Donald Trump. Just days later, Blunt ended up announcing his retirement, and Greitens kicked off his bid to succeed his would-be rival this week.

National Republicans, though, didn't wait for Greitens to announce before discussing ways to keep him from winning the primary. Politico's Alex Isenstadt recently reported that the Senate Leadership Fund, a major super PAC close to Mitch McConnell, "has been engaged in talks about how to keep the former governor from endangering [the GOP's] hold on what should be a safe seat," though no one has settled on any precise strategies yet—at least not publicly.

Isenstadt added that Republican operatives are aware that a crowded field could make it easier for Greitens to win the nomination, though unnamed "top Republicans" acknowledged that they haven't come up with a plan to stop him at this early point in the cycle.

But Greitens' potential Senate colleague, fellow Republican Josh Hawley, is already kicking the former governor in the shins. While the two are both ardent fans of Trump's favorite election conspiracy theories, they utterly despise one another. Hawley said Tuesday of his 2018 call for Greitens' resignation, "I wouldn't change any of that" and acknowledged he'd spoken to Trump about the race, ostensibly in the hope of dissuading him from backing Greitens. Hawley hedged, though, adding, "I'll support the Republican nominee" for this seat.

Governors

PA-Gov: Republican Rep. Dan Meuser acknowledged Monday that he was thinking about entering next year's open seat race for governor

Meuser, who represents a safely red seat located in the formerly coal-heavy region between Wilkes-Barre and Harrisburg, said, "I plan on taking the next few months to have discussions with my fellow Pennsylvanians about ways I believe we can move our state forward towards a more prosperous future." Last month, PennLive also listed Meuser as one of the Republicans "widely believed to be looking at" running for Senate, but he didn't mention that contest this week.

House

TX-34: Former Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos told the Texas Tribune Monday that he wasn't ruling out seeking the Republican nomination to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Filemón Vela.

Cascos previously served as county judge, a post that is similar to a county executive in other states, in Cameron County, which is home to more than half of the residents in the current 34th District. In 2015, Cascos resigned to accept an appointment as secretary of state, a stint that lasted for two years. Cascos tried to regain his old job as county judge from Democratic incumbent Eddie Treviño in 2018 but lost the general election 60-40.

Mayors

Cleveland, OH Mayor: Former City Councilman Zack Reed announced this week that he would mount a second bid this year for the post currently held by Mayor Frank Jackson, a fellow Democrat. Jackson has not yet said if he'll seek a fifth four-year term, though Cleveland.com's Seth Richardson says the incumbent "has not raised money or indicated he would do so." The filing deadline is in mid-June.

Reed challenged Jackson in 2017, arguing the mayor had not done enough to deal with the high crime rate and was too focused on improving downtown at the expense of the city's neighborhoods. Jackson went on to beat Reed 60-40, a solid showing that was still a significantly smaller margin than what he scored during his two previous re-election campaigns. Reed went on to work for Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose for two years as minority affairs coordinator, a job that Cleveland.com described as "help[ing] LaRose build bridges with minority voters and minority business groups across the state."

Reed joins nonprofit executive Justin Bibb in the mayoral contest to lead this very blue city, though other contenders will likely join no matter what Jackson does. Richardson writes that the list of other politicians "expected" to run include former Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who served as mayor from 1977 to 1979; City Council President Kevin Kelley; and City Councilman Basheer Jones. The nonpartisan primary will take place in September, and the two candidates with the most votes will face off in the November general election.

Morning Digest: These are the top 10 state supreme court battles of the coming cycle

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

Leading Off

State Supreme Courts: In a new story, Daily Kos Elections' Stephen Wolf looks state-by-state at the supreme court elections in 2021-2022 where progressives or conservatives could gain majorities or make major inroads. The federal judiciary grew ever more hostile to voting rights during the Trump era, and the right-wing majority on the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to curtail partisan gerrymanders designed to entrench one-party rule. But at the same time, state courts such as Pennsylvania's have started striking down these gerrymanders and issuing their own decisions defending voting access.

Crucially, these decisions have relied on protections found in state constitutions, meaning that they're insulated from U.S. Supreme Court review (at least for the time being). Almost every state constitution, in fact, offers similar protections—the issue is who's interpreting them. Unlike federal judges, most state supreme court justices are elected to their posts, and while the almost uniquely American practice of electing judges creates serious problems for judicial impartiality, it nevertheless presents progressives with the opportunity to replace conservative ideologues with more independent-minded jurists.

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​With 10 major states up for grabs over the next two years, progressives have the chance to flip Ohio's Supreme Court, gain a more solid majority in Montana, and make gains that could set them up to flip conservative-heavy courts in Georgia, Texas, and Virginia later this decade. Meanwhile, Republicans could take control of Democratic-leaning courts in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and North Carolina. Elections in these states could have major implications for efforts to constrain gerrymandering and protect the right to vote over the next decade.

Senate

AL-Sen, AL-Gov: Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, whose name had come up as a possible candidate for Alabama's open Senate seat, announced on Friday that he would not join the GOP primary. However, while Ainsworth did not mention next year's race for governor, he did say in a statement that he believes "that God's plan currently calls for me to continue leading on the state, not federal, level of government"—a hint that he could instead run for that post. The current incumbent, Republican Kay Ivey, could seek another term but hasn't yet announced her plans and may, at age 76, opt to retire.

OH-Sen, OH-Gov: Republican Rep. Warren Davidson said over the weekend that he's considering a bid for Ohio's open Senate race and also suggested he could primary Gov. Mike DeWine. In an interview with Fox at CPAC, Davidson criticized DeWine for his "overbearing" approach to fighting the pandemic and said he should have behaved more like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Of course, it's one thing to take jabs at an incumbent unpopular with conservatives when in the most friendly possible environment; it's quite a lot further to challenge him in an actual campaign.

Governors

MA-Gov: Democrat Joe Curtatone announced on Monday that he would not seek a sixth term this fall as mayor of Somerville, a city of 81,000 located just north of Boston, and he once again did not rule out a bid for governor in 2022. Curtatone said his decision was not a "political calculus to a calendar or timeline," adding, "I'm not even thinking about what I may or may want to do."

Back in December, the conservative Boston Herald reported that Curtatone was mulling over a bid against Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who has not yet revealed his own plans. While Curtatone still hasn't publicly expressed interest, though, one of his longtime advisors did say the mayor was thinking about it. Consultant Mark Horan, who acknowledged that it would have been "extremely difficult" for Curtatone to seek a promotion while also running for reelection, said of a potential gubernatorial run, "It certainly makes sense that he is considering it."

NY-Gov: Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo will face an independent investigation into charges that he sexually harassed female members of his staff after a second aide, former health policy staffer Charlotte Bennett, accused him of repeatedly asking her invasive and unwanted questions about her sex life. Following Bennet’s allegations, a third woman, Anna Ruch, said on Monday that Cuomo made an unsought advance on her at a wedding, grabbing her face and asking if he could kiss her before she was able to pull away.

Bennett, who is 25, revealed to the New York Times's Jesse McKinley that the 63-year-old Cuomo, whom she served as an executive assistant, did not touch her but asked her questions like whether "she was romantically involved," "was monogamous in her relationships," "believed if age made a difference in relationships" and "had ever been with an older man." According to Bennett, Cuomo told her "he's fine with anyone above the age of 22." She told McKinley, "I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared."

Bennett contemporaneously documented her encounters in text messages with friends and family members. She also reported them to Cuomo's chief of staff in June and was soon transferred to a new position advising on health policy, explaining that she chose not to press for an investigation because she was happy with her new post and "wanted to move on." However, Bennett left her job in November, saying, of Cuomo, "His presence was suffocating. I was thinking that I could recover and have distance but that is so naïve."

Following the Times report on Friday, which came just two days after another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, accused Cuomo of fostering a hostile workplace and kissing her on the mouth without her consent, top Democrats across the state immediately demanded an inquiry. Cuomo sought to head off these demands on Saturday by trying to hand-pick his own investigator, former federal Judge Barbara Jones—a move that was met with instant derision given Jones' close ties to a former top Cuomo aide, Steven Cohen.

In a rare climb-down reflecting his precarious position, Cuomo quickly reversed course on Sunday and asked state Attorney General Tish James and Chief Judge Janet DiFiore to jointly name an independent attorney to investigate the allegations. James, however, instantly shot down that proposal as well, saying that her office alone has the legal authority to handle the matter. (And though James didn't mention it, DiFiore was appointed to her position leading New York's highest court, the Court of Appeals, by Cuomo.)

Remarkably, Cuomo backed down a second time later that same day and said he would refer the matter outright to James, which he did the following day. James promised to hire an outside law firm to lead the probe and pledged she would "oversee a rigorous and independent investigation."

Cuomo's response to the substance of Bennett's charges has also differed markedly from how he reacted to Boylan's accusations, which he simply denied entirely. On Sunday, in a statement that referenced Bennett but not Boylan, Cuomo said, "I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended," and added a no-pology: "To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that."

Bennett rejected Cuomo's remarks as insufficient on Monday, saying in a statement that the governor "has refused to acknowledge or take responsibility for his predatory behavior." She also offered encouragement to other women who might come forward.

Whether or not in response to Bennett’s entreaty, Ruch did just that. On Monday, she told the New York Times that, after she thanked the governor for making a toast on behalf of her newly married friends, Cuomo swiftly placed his hand on her bare lower back. A friend photographed the ensuing moments, in which Cuomo placed both hands on Ruch’s cheeks and, says Ruch, asked, “Can I kiss you?” Ruch’s friend says Cuomo kissed Ruch on the cheek as she removed herself from his grasp. A Cuomo spokesperson “did not directly address Ms. Ruch’s account,” says the Times, only directing reporters back to the Sunday statement described above.

While a number of prominent Democrats have said Cuomo should resign if James' investigation inculpates him, a growing chorus has called for him to leave office immediately. A telling example came from Rep. Kathleen Rice, who tweeted, “The Governor must resign” shortly after the Times published Ruch’s story. In 2010, Rice was Cuomo’s preferred candidate to succeed him as attorney general, though she lost the Democratic primary to Eric Schneiderman.

If Cuomo were to leave office early, he would be succeeded by Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a former congresswoman who is serving her second term as Cuomo’s number two.

House

NC-11: In a new report from BuzzFeed, two more women, Caitlin Coulter and Leah Petree, have publicly accused freshman Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn of sexually harassing them while they attended Patrick Henry College in 2016 and 2017. Previously, three women (including two by name) came forward in the summer of 2020 to charge Cawthorn with similar acts both before and during his time at Patrick Henry.

Several other students also told BuzzFeed that Cawthorn had developed a reputation for predatory behavior despite his brief enrollment at the school (he was there for just over a semester), and two dorm leaders also confirmed that they'd warned women about him.

NJ-02: Democratic Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo has announced he'll run for a competitive state Senate seat that's open this fall due to a Republican retirement, which probably takes him out of the running for a challenge to Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew. Win or lose in November, it'd be unlikely that Mazzeo would want to immediately turn around and run another tough race.

OH-16: With the support of his old boss, former Donald Trump aide Max Miller has entered the GOP primary against Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, who was one of 10 House Republican who voted to impeach Trump in January. Miller, a Marine Corps reservist, hails from a family of prominent Jewish philanthropists in the Cleveland neighborhood of Shaker Heights but only recently moved into Gonzalez's 16th District, which lies to the west, south, and east of the area where Miller grew up (yes, it's that hideously gerrymandered).

The announcement makes Miller the first notable Republican to join the race, but former state Rep. Christina Hagan has also hinted at her interest. However, she's said she might instead choose to seek Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan's 13th District, depending on how redistricting turns out.

TX-06: Republican Brian Harrison, who served as chief of staff to former Trump Health and Human Services chief Alex Azar during his disastrous handling of the COVID pandemic, announced Monday that he could compete in the May 1 special election to succeed the late GOP Rep. Ron Wright. Politico wrote last month of the now-candidate, "In the West Wing, a handful of his detractors derisively referred to Harrison as 'the dog breeder'—a reference to the labradoodle-breeding family business that he helped run prior to joining the Trump administration." More on that here.

Meanwhile, The Hill reports that former Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson also plans to run. The filing deadline is Wednesday, so we'll have a full-line up for the all-party primary very soon.

WY-AL: State Rep. Chuck Gray just filed paperwork with the FEC ahead of a possible primary challenge to Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, though he has yet to speak publicly about his interest. Gray's name surfaced last month when a poll for Donald Trump's super PAC included him. His Twitter bio only describes him as a member of the legislature, not a congressional candidate, though his feed is mostly filled with attacks on Cheney. Another GOP lawmaker, state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, is already running.

Legislatures

Special Elections: Tuesday brings the busiest special election night of the year so far, with three races on deck in Alabama, California, and Connecticut.

AL-SD-26: This Democratic Montgomery-based seat became vacant when former Sen. David Burkette resigned last year. Burkette did not cite a reason for his resignation at the time, but was arrested and sentenced to a year of probation just a few weeks later because of a campaign finance violation.

Democratic state Rep. Kirk Hatcher will take on Republican William Green, a minister. Alabama is a difficult state to wrangle data from, so we don't have presidential results for this district. Based on prior results for races here, though, this is a strongly Democratic district. Burkette twice defeated Republican DJ Johnson here in 2018; once in a special election by an 89-10 spread and again later in the year in the regular election 80-20.

Republicans have a 26-7 edge in this chamber with this and one other seat vacant.

CA-SD-10: This South Los Angeles-area seat became vacant when former Democratic Sen. Holly Mitchell was elected to the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors last year. Three Democrats and two Republicans (plus two non-major party candidates) are vying to replace Mitchell in this strongly Democratic seat that backed Joe Biden 84-12 in 2020, according to data from Los Angeles County.

The Democrats are Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager, Culver City Council Member Daniel Lee, and Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles President Cheryl Turner, while businessman Joe Lisuzzo and business consultant Tiffani Jones are the Republicans. Community organizer Ernesto Huerta is representing the Peace and Freedom Party and Army veteran Renita Duncan is running without a party affiliation as an independent candidate.

Unlike other California elections, where the top two candidates advance to the next round even if one candidate wins a majority, special elections can be won in the first round if the leading candidate takes more than 50%. If no candidate does, though, a runoff will be held on May 4.

Democrats currently hold a 30-9 supermajority in this chamber, with just this seat vacant.

CT-SD-27: This seat located in Stamford became vacant when former Democratic Sen. Carlo Leon resigned to join the administration of Gov. Ned Lamont. The candidates for this race were selected by their parties, and Democrats nominated state Rep. Patricia Miller while Republicans tapped attorney Joshua Esses.

This is a safely blue district that Hillary Clinton won 66-30 in 2016. Democrats control this chamber 23-12, with just this seat vacant.

Mayors

Boston, MA Mayor: Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed legislation on Friday that would avert a special election in the event that Mayor Marty Walsh resigns before March 5 to become U.S. secretary of labor. The regularly scheduled nonpartisan primary for a four-year term will still take place in September, and the two candidates with the most votes will compete in the November general election.

Morning Digest: Two Jersey Democrats who flipped Trump seats in 2018 now represent Biden turf

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

Leading Off

Pres-by-CD: Our project to calculate the 2020 presidential results for all 435 congressional districts nationwide takes the turnpike through New Jersey, which is home to a number of competitive House seats. You can find our detailed calculations here, a large-size map of the results here, and our permanent, bookmarkable link for all 435 districts here.

Joe Biden's 57-41 victory in the Garden State was only slightly larger than Hillary Clinton's 55-41 performance in 2016, an improvement due in part to the decline in third-party voting, but there were plenty of big changes below the surface. Biden captured nine of the state's twelve House seats, which was two more than Clinton took last time, while Donald Trump held onto the remaining three seats. All of the Biden districts are controlled by Democrats, while Republican representatives prevailed in two of the trio of Trump seats.

We'll start with a look at the one Democratic-held Trump seat, Rep. Andy Kim's 3rd District, which was also the state's closest district in the 2020 presidential race by far. Barack Obama had carried this South Jersey constituency, which is located in the Philadelphia suburbs and central Jersey Shore, 52-47 days after Hurricane Sandy devastated the area in 2012, but it swung hard to the right four years later and backed Trump 51-45. This time, the 3rd settled between those poles and supported Trump 49.4-49.2, a margin of about 800 votes.

Campaign Action

Local Republicans in past years have run well ahead of the top of the ticket here, but the opposite happened in 2020. Kim won a second term by beating Republican David Richter 52-45, a result that was considerably wider than his 50-49 victory against Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur in 2018.

GOP outside groups opted not to spend to boost Richter, a decision that may have had to do with the sheer cost of running for office in what may be the most expensive in the nation to advertise in: About 57% of the 3rd is in the pricey Philadelphia media market, while the balance is in the very expensive New York City market. To reach all voters on television, it's necessary to blanket both—an extremely costly proposition. Kim's mammoth fundraising made that heavy lift possible, but Richter's weak finances put such an undertaking out of reach.

Republicans, however, had more success in the 2nd District just to the south. This coastal seat swung from 54-45 Obama to 51-46 Trump in 2016, and it favored Trump again last year, though by a smaller 51-48 margin. National Democrats worked hard last year to deny a second term to Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who had switched from the Democrats to the GOP in late 2019 after opposing Trump's first impeachment. But Congress' most infamous turncoat ran ahead of the man he'd pledged his "undying support" to and defeated Democrat Amy Kennedy 52-46.

Trump's best seat by far, unsurprisingly, was once again the 4th District to the north in the Monmouth County area, though he did drop from 56-41 in 2016 to 55-44 last year. This constituency is held by 21-term Rep. Chris Smith, who was the only Republican in the state's delegation from Jan. 2019 until Van Drew switched parties nearly a year later.

We'll now move up north and hit the two Trump/Biden seats, both of which began the decade as conservative turf. The 5th District in northern Bergen County and more distant exurban areas had lurched slightly to the left, going from 51-48 Romney to 49-48 Trump in 2016, but Trump's toxicity in the suburbs helped propel Biden to a 52-47 win. The seat is held by Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a moderate who unseated arch-conservative Scott Garrett in 2016 and secured his third term 53-46 last year.

The swing to the left was even more pronounced in the neighboring 11th District in the Morris County area. This ancestrally red region had gone from 52-47 Romney to 49-48 Trump in 2016, but Biden took it 53-46 this time. Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill flipped this seat in 2018 by winning the race to succeed longtime Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen and successfully defended it 53-47 in 2020.

Trump also bombed in the 7th District just to the south, though the GOP showed signs of life downballot. This seat, which includes Hunterdon County and New York City's western exurbs, had already swung hard from 52-46 Romney to 49-48 Clinton, and Biden's margin ballooned to 54-44. Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski, though, won his second term by a considerably smaller 51-49 margin in a very expensive race against state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr., who is the son and namesake of well-regarded former Gov. Tom Kean Sr.

While Trump's margin took a nose dive in all of New Jersey's competitive seats, he did make gains in a trio of safely blue constituencies in the northern part of the state. Rep. Albio Sires' 8th District in Jersey City dropped from 76-21 Clinton to 73-26 Biden, which fits with the pattern we've seen in other seats with large Latino electorates. Rep. Donald Payne's heavily Black 10th District in Newark, likewise, ticked down from 85-13 Clinton 83-16 Biden. Finally, Rep. Bill Pascrell's diverse 9th District, which is home to Paterson and some of New York City's closer-in suburbs, shifted from 64-33 Clinton to 62-37 Biden.

Democrats have full control of the New Jersey state government, but that doesn't guarantee that they'll get a favorable congressional map for the coming decade. That's because a 1995 state constitutional amendment created a bipartisan redistricting commission consisting of six Democrats, six Republicans, and a tiebreaking member. Last time, the crucial 13th member favored GOP-drawn boundaries over those proposed by Democrats, though Republican mapmakers didn't anticipate the leftward swing that would later unfold in the state's northern suburbs.

Senate

CO-Sen: Republican Rep. Ken Buck announced on Friday that he would not run against Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet next year and indicated he would instead seek re-election to the House. The decision was something of a surprise as Buck had stepped down as chair of the Colorado GOP in December, a move that appeared to presage a bid for statewide office. A number of Republican names have been mentioned as possible Senate contenders but so far no notable candidates have entered the race, and in fact Colorado Politics' Ernest Luning reports that his sources tell him that "no other Republicans have been talking about challenging Bennet."

GA-Sen: The Washington Examiner's David Drucker reports that both David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler "are possible candidates and are keeping their options open" with regard to a possible comeback bid against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock next year. Neither, however, has commented about their possible interest.

OH-Sen: Former Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman tweeted on Wednesday night that he was considering seeking the Democratic nomination to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman.

Coleman, whose 1999 election made him the first Black mayor of Ohio's capital city, has shown some interest in seeking higher office over the years, but it's yet to work out. Coleman entered the race for governor in 2005, but he ended up dropping out later that year. Coleman, who did not seek a fifth term as mayor in 2015, also showed some early interest in competing in the following year's Senate race, but he opted not to go for it.

Meanwhile, an unnamed source tells Buzzfeed's Henry Gomez that they anticipate another Democrat, former state health director Amy Acton, to "formalize her interest in some fashion" sometime over the next week. Acton has not said anything publicly about this contest, but Gomez relays that she's being encouraged to run by people close to Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Brown himself says he's not backing anyone yet, and he used an interview with WKYC to name-drop some other potential candidates. Brown said, "I think Congresswoman (Joyce) Beatty has shown interest," though the congresswoman herself hasn't made any deliberations public yet. The senator also added Rep. Marcy Kaptur as a possibility, though he adds that he hasn't spoken to her; this is the first time we've heard Kaptur, who was first elected to the House in 1982, so much as mentioned for this race.

Governors

CO-Gov: The Colorado Sun's Jesse Paul reports that University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl "is seen as a likely candidate" to challenge Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, who is up for re-election next year. Ganahl was elected to one of two at-large seats on the Board of Regents in 2016, making her the last Republican to hold statewide office in Colorado. Republicans have not won the governorship since 2002, when Bill Owens won a second term.

TX-Gov: Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, who last year didn't rule out seeking the Democratic nomination to take on Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, now says it's "very unlikely" he'll run for any office in 2022.

House

WY-AL: Air Force veteran Bryan Miller, who also chairs the Sheridan County GOP, tells CNN that he plans to run against Rep. Liz Cheney in next year's Republican primary. If he follows through, he'd be the second challenger to do so, along with state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, who recently announced a campaign following Cheney's vote to impeach Donald Trump. Miller has twice run for Senate, in both 2020 and 2014, and took 10% of the vote in the GOP primary each time.

Mayors

Atlanta, GA Mayor: City Council President Felicia Moore announced Thursday that she would challenge incumbent Keisha Lance Bottoms in November's nonpartisan contest. While Moore did not mention the mayor in her kickoff, she made it clear that she'd be focusing on the city's crime rate and local income inequality as she argues for a change of leadership

If Moore wins, she'd need to overcome two unfavorable trends in Atlanta politics. Local voters haven't ousted an incumbent mayor since 1973, when Maynard Jackson's victory over Sam Massell made him the city's first Black leader. And while the City Council president has the advantage of being elected citywide, the post has not proven to be a good launching pad: Five previous council presidents have run for mayor over the last 25 years, and each of them has lost.

Other local pols could join the contest including former Atlanta Public Schools superintendent Meria Carstarphen, who told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she's thinking of running. Another prospective contender is former City Councilwoman Mary Norwood, an independent who lost to Bottoms 50.4-49.6 in 2017 but has refused to recognize the legitimacy of her defeat three years later. A December runoff would take place if no one wins a majority in the first round of voting.

Boston, MA Mayor: Boston City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George on Thursday became the first major candidate to enter the mayoral race since Joe Biden nominated incumbent Marty Walsh to serve as secretary of labor. Essaibi-George, whose father is originally from Tunisia, would be the first woman or person of color to be elected to this post.

Essaibi-George joins two of her colleagues, Andrea Campbell and Michelle Wu, each of whom would also achieve this historic milestone. City Council President Kim Janey would become acting mayor following Walsh's departure, which would make her the first Black woman to lead the city; Janey has not yet announced if she'll run in her own right.

Essaibi-George has focused on mental health and homelessness on the Council, and those were among the issues she highlighted in her kickoff. The Boston Globe's Danny McDonald also notes that there are some clear policy differences between Essaibi-George, whom he writes "is seen as something of a centrist," and her two current rivals.

Notably, Essaibi-George was part of the Council majority that passed Walsh's budget last year, while Campbell and Wu opposed it. Campbell and Wu argued that the mayor's plan didn't do enough to combat racial or economic inequality, while Essaibi-George said that it would have been fiscally irresponsible to defeat the budget and that it contained vital funding for programs.

A number of other others are eyeing this contest, but one big name recently took himself out of contention in an unexpected way. Boston Police Commissioner William Gross had expressed interest earlier in January, with one unnamed source saying he was "90%" likely to run. Gross then announced Thursday that he would resign from his post, a move that briefly looked like a precursor to a mayoral bid. However, Gross said hours later that he would not be running for mayor.

One other major question looming over the race is whether there will be a special election this year for the final months of Walsh's term in addition to the regularly-scheduled contest this fall. If Walsh resigns before March 5, which seems very likely, the city charter would require a special take place 120 to 140 days after his departure.

The City Council, however, is scheduled to vote on Wednesday on a home rule petition that would cancel the special election. The legislature and Republican Gov. Charlie Baker would need to sign off afterwards, though their recent move to quickly approve a similar petition in Lawrence indicates that they'd let it go forward.

Cincinnati, OH Mayor: Physicist and businessman Gavi Begtrup announced Wednesday that he would join this year's open seat race for mayor. Begtrup, who said he'd already raised $65,000 for his efforts, identifies as a Democrat, and he previously served as an advisor to Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords when she served in Congress.

Begtrup founded a local business called Eccrine in 2013, which the Cincinnati Business Courier described as "once one of the region's most-promising startups." Eccrine failed last year, though, which Begtrup said was a result of it losing vital funding after the pandemic devastated the economy.

Other Races

CA-SoS: Both chambers of California's legislature unanimously confirmed Democratic Assemblywoman Shirley Weber as secretary of state to fill the vacancy left by Alex Padilla, who was appointed to Vice President Kamala Harris' seat in the Senate. A special election will now be held for Weber's seat in the Assembly, a safely blue district in San Diego.

Morning Digest: Texas’ suburbs zoomed left in 2020, but Democrats failed to make gains in the House

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

Leading Off

Pres-by-CD: Our project to calculate the 2020 presidential results for all 435 congressional districts nationwide goes to Texas, where the GOP gerrymander helped the party hold on to 23 of the state's 36 U.S. House seats despite several Republican retirements. You can find our detailed calculations here, a large-size map of the results here, and our permanent, bookmarkable link for all 435 districts here.

Donald Trump defeated Joe Biden in Texas 52-46 four years after he beat Hillary Clinton 52-43 in the Lone Star State, a shift due in part to a decline in third-party voting. Trump once again carried 22 congressional districts while the remaining 14 constituencies backed Biden, but as we've seen in so many states, these seemingly stable toplines mask considerable churn just below the surface, which we'll explore below. To help you follow along, we've put together a sheet that compares the 2016 and 2020 presidential results by district and also includes the results for the 2020 House races.

Two districts did in fact flip on the presidential level: Trump lost the 24th District in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburbs while recapturing the 23rd District along the border with Mexico. Biden, however, made major gains in a number of other suburban districts and nearly won no fewer than seven of them. Trump, meanwhile, surged in many heavily Latino areas and likewise came close to capturing three, but except for the 24th, every Trump seat is in GOP hands and every Biden seat is represented by Democrats.

Campaign Action

The 24th, which includes the suburbs north of Dallas and Fort Worth, is in fact a good place to start because it saw one of the largest shifts between 2016 and 2020. The district began the decade as heavily Republican turf—it backed Mitt Romney 60-38—but Trump carried it by a substantially smaller 51-44 margin four years later. Biden continued the trend and racked up a 52-46 win this time, but the area remained just red enough downballot to allow Republican Beth Van Duyne to manage a 49-47 victory in an expensive open-seat race against Democrat Candace Valenzuela.

Biden fell just short of winning seven other historically red suburban seats: the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 10th, 21st, 22nd, and 31st, where Trump's margins ranged from just one to three points, and where the swings from 2016 ranged from seven points in the 22nd all the way to 13 points in the 3rd, the biggest shift in the state. However, as in the 24th, Biden's surge did not come with sufficient coattails, as Republicans ran well ahead of Trump in all of these seats (you can check out our guide for more information about each district).

Two seats that Democrats flipped in 2018 and stayed blue last year also saw large improvements for Biden. The 7th District in west Houston, parts of which were once represented by none other than George H.W. Bush from 1967 to 1971, had swung from 60-39 Romney to 48-47 Clinton, and Biden carried it 54-45 in 2020. Democratic Rep. Lizzie Fletcher won by a smaller 51-47 spread against Wesley Hunt, who was one of the House GOP's best fundraisers. The 32nd District in the Dallas area, likewise, had gone from 57-41 Romney to 49-47 Clinton. This time, Biden took it 54-44 as Democratic Rep. Colin Allred prevailed 52-46.

Biden's major gains in the suburbs, though, came at the same time that Trump made serious inroads in predominantly Latino areas on or near the southern border with Mexico. That rightward shift may have cost Team Blue the chance to flip the open 23rd District, which stretches from San Antonio west to the outskirts of the El Paso area.

Romney carried this seat 51-48 before Clinton took it 50-46, but Trump won it 50-48 this time. That makes the 23rd the first Romney/Clinton/Trump seat we've found anywhere in the country, and it may in fact be the only one. Amid Trump's rise here, Republican Tony Gonzales beat Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones 51-47 to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Will Hurd, who had held off Ortiz Jones only 49.2-48.7 in 2018.

Trump also fell just short in three other seats along the Rio Grande Valley. The 15th District, which includes McAllen, had supported Clinton by a 57-40 margin, but Biden prevailed only 50-49 here. Democratic Rep. Vicente González, who had won his first two general elections with ease, likewise came shockingly close to losing his bid for a third term, fending off Republican Monica De La Cruz-Hernandez, who didn't raise much money, just 51-48 in a contest that attracted minimal outside spending from either party.

The 34th Congressional District around Brownsville similarly moved from 59-38 Clinton to 52-48 Biden, though Democratic Rep. Filemón Vela ran well ahead of the top of the ticket and prevailed 55-42. Finally, the Laredo-based 28th District went from 58-38 Clinton to 52-47 Biden. Rep. Henry Cuellar, who has long been one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, won 58-39 several months after he came close to losing renomination against a progressive opponent.

Governors

NJ-Gov: Democratic Assemblyman Jamel Holley, a notorious anti-vaxxer, last year did not rule out a primary challenge to Gov. Phil Murphy, but he's reportedly taken that option off the table and will instead run against state Sen. Joe Cryan, another fellow Democrat.

PA-Gov: Former healthcare executive Daniel Hilferty is reportedly considering a bid for governor as a Republican, but as the Philadelphia Inquirer's Andrew Seidman notes, he'd start off with a serious liability: Hilferty served on the host committee for Joe Biden's very first fundraising event for his presidential campaign, and he went on to donate more than $85,000 to help elect him.

TX-Gov: It's almost inevitable that, every four years, there's talk of a primary challenge to Texas' governor, and sometimes they even happen (see 2010), so why should this cycle be any different? The Dallas Morning News' Robert Garrett suggests Rep. Dan Crenshaw and former state Sen. Don Huffines as the latest possibilities, and an unnamed Crenshaw aide would only say that their boss is "not thinking about running." That places Crenshaw in the ranks of two other Republicans, both fanatical extremists, who previously did not rule out bids of their own: state party chair Allen West and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.

Texas, however, has an early primary and consequently an early filing deadline, typically in December. What's more, Abbott already has $38 million in his campaign account, so any would-be primary opponents will need to engage soon.

House

LA-05: Julia Letlow, whose late husband, Luke Letlow, died last month from COVID-19 after winning an all-GOP runoff in Louisiana's 5th Congressional District, has announced that she will run in the March 20 special election for the now-vacant seat. Rep. Steve Scalise, the no. 2 House Republican and one of the most powerful GOP officials in Louisiana, also offered his endorsement.

In response, a number of fellow Republicans said they would defer to Letlow, including state Sen. Stewart Cathey, state Rep. Michael Echols, state Rep. Mike Johnson, and Ouachita Parish Police Juror Scotty Robinson. However, state Rep. Lance Harris, who lost the December runoff, hasn't commented about his plans following Letlow's decision, nor has another potential candidate, state Rep. Chris Turner.

Votes: David Jarman takes a look at four consequential votes within the last couple weeks — the second impeachment of Donald Trump, the vote to challenge Pennsylvania’s electors, the vote to provide $2,000 stimulus checks, and the vote to override the veto of the National Defense Authorization Act — and finds that when the votes are aggregated, House Republicans are genuinely in some disarray. Their votes fall into 11 different permutations, which show some interesting fissures not just on the usual moderate-to-hard-right spectrum but also some other, harder-to-describe axes.

Mayors

Boston, MA Mayor: City Council President Kim Janey, who would become mayor should incumbent Marty Walsh be confirmed as U.S. secretary of labor, confirmed this week that she was considering running in her own right this year. State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz meanwhile, announced Thursday that he wouldn't enter the race.

Cincinnati, OH Mayor, OH-Sen: Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval, who was the 2018 Democratic nominee for Ohio's 1st Congressional District, announced Thursday that he would run to succeed termed-out Democratic incumbent John Cranley this year. Pureval, who is of Indian and Tibetan ancestry, would be the first Asian American elected to this post.

Pureval challenged Republican Rep. Steve Chabot a little more than two years ago for a seat that includes about three-quarters of Cincinnati (the balance is in the 2nd District) and lost the very expensive campaign 51-47. Pureval decided to run for re-election last year rather than seek a rematch against Chabot, and he beat his Republican foe 57-43 as Joe Biden was carrying Hamilton County by a similar 57-41 margin. Pureval hadn't ruled out a 2022 bid against Republican Sen. Rob Portman when he was asked about it back in October, but his mayoral campaign means we can cross him out for that race.

Pureval joins a May 4 nonpartisan primary that already includes a number of fellow Democrats, and more could enter the race ahead of the Feb. 18 filing deadline. Former Mayor Mark Mallory, who served from 2005 to 2013, and City Councilman Chris Seelbach have each been gathering petitions, though neither has announced that they're in yet.

The Cincinnati Business Courier's Chris Wetterich also reports that two other Democrats, Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus and former County Commissioner David Pepper, who also recently stepped down as state party chair, are also considering.

Fort Worth, TX Mayor: Nonprofit head Mattie Parker, who served as chief of staff for the mayor and council under retiring GOP incumbent Betsy Price, said this week that she was considering a bid for mayor.

New York City, NY Mayor: Businessman Andrew Yang, who waged an unsuccessful bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, announced Wednesday that he would run for mayor. Yang would be the city's first Asian American mayor.

Yang, who launched his campaign by pledging to implement the universal basic income plan locally that he championed during his White House bid, entered the contest with the backing of freshman Rep. Ritchie Torres, who represents a seat located in the Bronx. Yang joins a number of other candidates in the June 22 Democratic primary, which will be conducted using instant-runoff voting.

Yang has lived in New York City since 1996, but he's had little involvement in city politics until now: Indeed, City & State reported last month that he had not even voted in any of the last four mayoral elections.

Yang also attracted some bad press this week when he explained that he'd temporarily relocated to upstate New York last year as the pandemic worsened by saying, "We live in a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. And so, like, can you imagine trying to have two kids on virtual school in a two-bedroom apartment, and then trying to do work yourself?" That remark quickly drew plenty of scorn from his rivals, who didn't hesitate to portray him as out-of-touch with regular New Yorkers.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now: Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged on Thursday with two misdemeanor counts of "willful neglect of duty" stemming from his role in the Flint water crisis, and eight other state and local officials were also indicted Thursday by Attorney General Dana Nessel. Snyder, who pleaded not guilty, could be punished with up to a year in prison on each charge.

Morning Digest: The longest-serving state House speaker in history was just deposed by his own party

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

Leading Off

IL State House: A new era began in Illinois politics on Wednesday when Chris Welch won the race to replace Mike Madigan, a fellow Democrat, as speaker of the state House. Welch, whom the Chicago Tribune identifies as a Madigan ally, is the first African American to lead the chamber.

Madigan, who rose through the ranks of the late Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley's political machine, was first elected to the legislature all the way back in 1970. Madigan was elevated to the speaker's chair in 1983 and, apart from the two years the GOP was in power following the 1994 elections, he remained there ever since. In 2017, Madigan became the longest-serving state House speaker in American history.

Governors from both parties acknowledged over the decades, often to their detriment, that Madigan was the most powerful figure in state politics. Madigan also wielded plenty of influence outside the chamber: He has served as chair of the state Democratic Party since 1998, and his daughter, Lisa Madigan, was elected state attorney general in 2002.

Campaign Action

The speaker's long stint may have blocked Lisa Madigan's further rise, though. The younger Madigan was mentioned as a potential candidate for Senate or governor for years, and for a time it seemed likely she'd challenge Gov. Pat Quinn in the 2014 Democratic primary. She decided not to enter that race, however, saying she felt it would be bad for the governor and speaker to come from the same family. Lisa Madigan ended up retiring in 2018, while her father sought and won another term as leader of the state House.

Mike Madigan also was one of the Illinois GOP's favorite targets during his decades-long tenure. Republican Bruce Rauner spent his four years as governor blaming the speaker for the state's many financial difficulties. The unpopular Rauner even argued in 2018 that voters should re-elect him because a victory for his actual Democratic opponent, J.B. Pritzker, would effectively put Madigan in charge of the state.

Rauner lost badly, but Team Red had success two years later in the 13th Congressional District with a campaign that tied Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, a Democrat who had never held office, to Madigan. Last year, the speaker was also blamed for the failure of a constitutional amendment pushed by Pritzker that would have reformed the state's tax system: The Chicago Tribune's Rick Pearson said afterwards, "Opponents, largely funded by business interests, continually raised the question of 'do you trust politicians with more tax money?'"

Madigan himself, though, appeared to have a firm hold over the speakership despite intra-party complaints about him, including over his handling of sexual harassment allegations against two of his top aides. Progressives also resented the speaker for what the Pearson described as an "autocratic style which lets members advance only a few of their bills per session."

But things took an especially bad turn for Madigan last summer when the utility giant Commonwealth Edison admitted to federal prosecutors that it had given $1.3 million to his confidants in jobs and contracts in order to influence legislation. Madigan himself has not been charged and denied knowledge of the scheme, but one of his associates was indicted in December.

Madigan retained plenty of support to the end, including from labor groups and Democrats who feared they'd struggle at the ballot box without "The Program," his vast fundraising and volunteer network. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, though, called for him to step down, and Madigan struggled to win enough support from fellow Democratic representatives to stay on as speaker. On Sunday, Madigan secured just 51 out of 73 votes in an internal party caucus, which was nine short of the number he'd need to be re-elected speaker of the 118-member chamber.

Madigan announced the following day that he was suspending his campaign for speaker, though he said he wasn't dropping out. Madigan, as Politico reported, wanted to keep his options open in case another Democrat couldn't win enough votes to replace him. That's not how things went, however: Welch entered the race afterwards and put together a large enough coalition on Wednesday to secure the speakership.

Senate

PA-Sen: Roll Call's Bridget Bowman mentions two new Democrats as potential candidates for this open seat: Rep. Madeleine Dean, whom Speaker Nancy Pelosi named this week as one of the nine managers for Donald Trump's second impeachment, and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, who would be the state's first Black senator. Neither Dean nor Kenyatta appears to have said anything publicly about a potential bid.

House

NY-01: John Feal, who is a prominent advocate for fellow Sept. 11 first responders, told Newsday this week that he was considering challenging Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin in this eastern Long Island seat. Feal, a demolition supervisor who was seriously injured at the ruins of the World Trade Center in the day after the attacks, does not appear to have run for office before. Last cycle, Feal was one of a number of locals whom Democratic leaders reportedly contacted about a potential bid against Zeldin, though he didn't end up getting in.

Feal said that, while he had been friendly with Zeldin in the past, he was furious at the congressman for objecting to the Electoral College results even after last week's terrorist mob attack on the Capitol. Feal declared, "Lee Zeldin is not loyal to the people in the first [congressional] district; he's loyal only to Donald Trump, who is a con man."

Governors

CA-Gov: Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is up for re-election next year in this solidly blue state, but California Republican leaders are hoping to remove him from office before then through a recall campaign.

Recall supporters told Politico last week that they'd collected two-thirds of the nearly 1.5 million signatures they need ahead of the March 17 deadline, though they'll have to gather plenty more because some petitions will inevitably be rejected. Multiple polls from last fall gave Newsom at least a 60% approval rating, but his detractors are hoping that the worsening COVID-19 crisis has damaged his standing since then.

It's quite possible that they'll get a recall question on this year's ballot regardless of whether public sentiment is with conservatives. In a new piece, recall expert Joshua Spivak writes that the Golden State has "the easiest recall to get on the ballot" of the at least 19 states that allow governors to be removed this way. (It's not clear if Virginia authorizes recalls.)

Spivak continues, "Petitioners need only to gather 12% of the votes cast in the last election (5% in every district), and they have a leisurely 160 days to do it. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, they were granted an additional 120 days." He also notes that, because California has so many ballot measures, there's already a "signature gathering industry" in place for Republicans to utilize.

If there is a recall election, voters would be given a two-part question. First, they'd be asked if they want to recall Newsom, and second, they'd be asked to select a replacement candidate. If a majority voted no on the recall question, Newsom would stay in office. However, if a majority voted to recall him, the replacement candidate with the most votes would take his seat for the remainder of his term: There would be no primary or runoff, so the new governor could be elected even if they don't come anywhere close to taking a majority of the vote.

This very process played out in 2003 against another California governor, Democrat Gray Davis. Voters opted to oust Davis by a 55-45 margin, and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger defeated 134(!) other candidates in the race to succeed him: Davis beat Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante 49-31 while Republican Tom McClintock, who is now a member of Congress, took third with 13%. The only other governor who has ever been successfully recalled in American history is North Dakota Republican Lynn Frazier in 1921.

Legislatures

Special Elections: While special elections have been sparse to start 2021, we have early previews of two upcoming races in Iowa and Maine that could prove interesting.

IA-SD-41: Last week, parties selected their nominees for the Jan. 19 race to replace Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks in this southeastern Iowa district. Miller-Meeks was elected to the House last year, defeating Democrat Rita Hart by just six votes. While Hart is currently contesting the results, Miller-Meeks resigned from her seat in the state Senate and is currently seated in the House on a provisional basis.

Mary Stewart, who was the 2018 Democratic nominee for this seat, will face Republican Adrian Dickey, a businessman. This district has experienced the same rightward trend in the Trump era that we've seen in many other rural areas, swinging from 53-45 Obama to 57-38 Trump in 2016, though Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds won by a smaller 52-45 in 2018.

Despite the shift, Republicans only narrowly prevailed in the last two midterms amid very different political climates. In 2014, a great GOP year nationally, Republican incumbent Mark Chelgren defeated Democrat Steven Siegel just 51-49, while in 2018, a year much more favorable to Democrats, Miller-Meeks actually increased that margin, defeating Stewart 52-48.

Republicans have a 31-18 advantage in this chamber with just this seat vacant.

ME-SD-14: Candidates have been selected by their parties for the March 9 race to replace former Sen. Shenna Bellows, who was inaugurated as secretary of state in December. Both sides went with former state House members: The Democrats chose Craig Hickman, while Republicans tapped William Guerrette. While this district swung from 55-43 Obama to 47-45 Trump in 2016, Bellows never had any trouble winning re-election in this Augusta-area seat.

Democrats hold a 21-13 majority in this chamber with just this seat vacant.

Mayors

Boston, MA Mayor: Boston Chief of Health and Human Services Marty Martinez did not rule out a bid for mayor when asked this week. Martinez, who is of Mexican ancestry, would be the city's first Hispanic leader, as well as its first gay mayor.

Morning Digest: Oregon Democrat who likened Trump impeachment to a ‘lynching’ could face primary

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

Leading Off

OR-05: Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader prompted a massive outcry—and may have opened himself up to a primary challenge—when he opposed impeaching Donald Trump and compared the idea to a "lynching" on a call with fellow House Democrats on Friday. Just hours after his remarks were first reported, Schrader issued an apology, and the following day he came out in favor of impeachment, but the damage may have already been done.

In response to Schrader's comments, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, who represents a neighboring district, took the unusual step of publicly upbraiding her colleague. "Comparing a lynching to holding the President accountable is hurtful and insensitive and ignores the overt white supremacy on display during the insurrection Wednesday," she said. Of more immediate impact, Schrader's longtime consultant, Mark Wiener, immediately dropped the congressman as a client, saying, "Comparing the impeachment of a treasonous President who encouraged white supremacists to violently storm the Capitol to a 'lynching' is shameful and indefensible."

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Meanwhile, the Democratic Party in Polk County, which makes up about 10% of the 5th District, demanded that Schrader resign, citing not only his statements on impeachment but his vote last month against $2,000 COVID relief checks, which made him one of just two Democrats to oppose the measure (along with now-former Rep. Dan Lipinski). And Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba, who ran against Schrader from the left in last year's primary, said he'd give it another go and started soliciting donations online.

Gamba, however, didn't raise much money and lost by a wide 69-23 margin, which may explain why, in other comments, he indicated an openness to supporting an alternative option. One possibility would be state Rep. Paul Evans, who almost ran for this seat when it was last open in 2008 (a race ultimately won by Schrader) and whose legislative district is contained entirely in the 5th.

In fact, a great many Democratic legislators represent turf that overlaps with Schrader's, with state Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner and state Sen. Deb Patterson among the more prominent. In the House, aside from Evans, potential candidates could include Reps. Teresa Alonso Leon, Mark Meek, Karin Power, Rachel Prusak, and Andrea Salinas, among others.

One of Oregon's most prominent politicians also hails from the area: newly elected Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, whose former district in the state Senate overlapped partly with Schrader's House seat. With voting rights under siege, and as first in line to the governorship (Oregon has no lieutenant governor), Fagan likely has her sights elsewhere, but she'd be a formidable challenger.

Oregon's 5th has long been swingy territory, but it shifted noticeably to the left last year, supporting Joe Biden 54-44, according to Daily Kos Elections' calculations, after backing Hillary Clinton 48-44 in 2016. Schrader actually ran behind the top of the ticket, however, turning in a 52-45 win against an unheralded Republican foe. The district currently takes in Portland's southern suburbs and the Salem area but will likely be reconfigured in redistricting, particularly since the state is on track to add a sixth House seat.

Senate

AK-Sen: In response to last week's terrorist attack on the Capitol and Donald Trump's role in fomenting it, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski suggested she might leave the GOP, saying, "[I]f the Republican Party has become nothing more than the party of Trump, I sincerely question whether this is the party for me." Murkowski later clarified, though, that she would "[a]bsolutely, unequivocally not" join the Democratic caucus in the Senate.

If she did, however, become an independent, she'd still have a well-defined path to re-election in 2022 thanks to a new ballot measure Alaska voters passed in November that radically reforms how elections are conducted in the state. Under Measure 2, all candidates from all parties will now run together on a single primary ballot, with the top four vote-getters advancing to a November general election. Voters would then choose a winner from that quartet by means of an instant runoff, greatly reducing the chance of a spoiler effect and giving popular, relatively moderate politicians like Murkowski the chance to prevail even without a party banner.

PA-Sen: The same day he told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he was taking a "serious look" at a Senate bid, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman filed paperwork with the FEC—and he's already put his nascent campaign committee to good use. In a press release, Fetterman says he's raised $500,000 since his remarks first appeared in the Inquirer on Friday, via 15,000 contributions.

Meanwhile, former Republican Rep. Ryan Costello, who unsuccessfully tried to goad Fetterman with some feeble Twitter trash-talk about his own interest in a Senate bid, is reportedly "expected to form an exploratory committee" sometime "soon." Costello has set himself up for a difficult GOP primary, though, since he said he'd campaign on an explicitly anti-Trump platform: In response to an RNC spokesperson slamming Republicans for having "abandoned" Trump, Costello recently tweeted, "If I run I will literally take this entire bullshit head on."

Governors

CT-Gov: Connecticut Post columnist Dan Haar describes New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart, who last year confirmed she was considering another bid for governor, as a "likely Republican entrant" for the race to take on Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont in 2022, though we haven't heard directly from her since the election. Stewart briefly sought the GOP nod in 2018 but dropped out to run for lieutenant governor instead; however, she lost that primary 48-33 to state Sen. Joe Markley. Since her failed bids for higher office, she's sought to push the Connecticut GOP in a moderate direction in a bid to regain relevance and offered some very indirect criticism of Trump in the wake of last week's insurrection at the Capitol.

MA-Gov: While Republican incumbent's Charlie Baker's meager fundraising in recent months has fueled speculation that he'll retire in 2022, the Salem News reports the governor's $165,000 haul for December was his largest monthly total in over two years. Baker himself has not publicly announced if he'll seek a third term next year.

NM-Gov: Republican state Rep. Rebecca Dow says she's weighing a bid for governor but will not decide until after the conclusion of New Mexico's legislative session, which is scheduled to start next week and end on March 20. This is a very common formulation you'll hear from state lawmakers across the country as they contemplate running for higher office, so it's helpful to keep Ballotpedia's guide to session dates for all state legislatures bookmarked.

House

AL-05: Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey all but called for a primary challenge to Rep. Mo Brooks, a fellow Republican, after Brooks helped foment last week's violent assault on the Capitol, saying, "If the people of the 5th District believe their views are not being properly represented, then they need to express their disappointment directly to Congressman Brooks and, if necessary, hold him accountable at the ballot box."

Just before the invasion of the Capitol complex, Brooks incited the pro-Trump brigades that had descended on Washington, D.C. to overturn the results of the November election, telling them, "Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass." Brooks refused to back down following the violence, saying "I make no apology" for instigating the attacks and adding, "I call again for kicking that 'ass' all the way back to the communist dictatorships that 'ass' now worships."

In 2017, after Brooks launched an ultimately fruitless challenge to appointed GOP Sen. Luther Strange, some pissed-off establishment Republicans sought to primary Brooks in response and rallied around Army veteran Clayton Hinchman. Brooks wound up prevailing the following year, but by a relatively soft 61-39 margin. Hinchman hasn't said anything about a possible rematch, but during his race, he chided Brooks for preferencing "ideology over pragmatism," a criticism that suggests he might side with Ivey's views of the congressman.

NJ-02: A consultant for Democrat Amy Kennedy, who lost to Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew 52-46 in November, tells the New Jersey Globe that Kennedy hasn't yet considered whether to run again but says she's furious at the congressman for voting to overturn the results of the 2020 elections following Wednesday's assault on the Capitol by pro-Trump mobs that left five people dead. Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro, who himself was a potential candidate against Van Drew last year, also encouraged Kennedy to seek a rematch, though he didn't rule out a bid of his own should she decline.

The Globe mentions a bunch of other possible contenders, including Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, Cape May County Democratic Party chair Brendan Sciarra, Cumberland County Commissioner Joe Derella, and former union leader Richard Tolson. Montclair State University professor Brigid Callahan Harrison, who lost the Democratic primary to Kennedy 62-22, is another option. None of these would-be candidates have spoken about their interest yet.

NJ-05: Former Rep. Scott Garrett is all but guaranteed to lose his specially created job at the Securities and Exchange Commission when Joe Biden becomes president, and remarkably, the New Jersey Globe reports that some fellow Republicans think he could make a comeback bid for his old seat. Garrett himself didn't rule out the possibility when contacted by the Globe, saying only, "I appreciate your phone call. I am no longer a public figure."

But unless Republicans hit the redistricting jackpot, Garrett is unlikely to find himself at the top of the GOP's wishlist. Garrett was ousted after seven terms in Congress by Democrat Josh Gottheimer after his Wall Street allies abandoned him thanks to his virulent anti-gay rhetoric, and he was so unpopular with his former colleagues that the Senate refused to advance his nomination when Donald Trump named him to run the Export-Import Bank—a federal agency that Garrett had long sought to abolish.

Garrett later wound up with an even better-paying position (at $215,000 a year) in the office of the general counsel at the SEC, which Politico reported had been set up for him alone. Garrett was hired without any sort of competitive process, or even having to submit a job application, even though the commission was in the midst of a hiring freeze. As the Globe notes, though, that plum gig is unlikely to survive the coming Biden housecleaning.

NM-01: Former state Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn announced last week he would run for this Albuquerque-area seat if Rep. Deb Haaland is confirmed as Joe Biden's secretary of the interior. While Albuquerque Journal notes Dunn plans to run as an independent, he has spent time as a member of both the Republican and Libertarian parties.

Dunn was the GOP nominee for state land commissioner in 2014, narrowly turning back Democratic incumbent Ray Powell 50.07-49.93. In 2018, Dunn became a Libertarian and sought the party's nomination for Senate that year. After he won the nomination, however, he decided to drop out of the race (former Gov. Gary Johnson was named his replacement and took 15% of the vote).

The GOP is already a longshot in a seat that backed Biden by a 60-37 spread, but Dunn's presence could make things even more difficult for Team Red. This would represent the inverse of the last special election this district hosted in 1998, when a Green Party candidate took 13% of the vote, allowing Republican Heather Wilson to narrowly win.

Legislatures

AK State House: The Alaska Supreme Court has rejected a challenge by former state Rep. Lance Pruitt, who as minority leader had been the most senior Republican in the state House, to his 11-vote loss in the November elections, upholding Democrat Liz Snyder as the winner. The decision confirms that Democrats and their allies will have control over 20 seats in the 40-member chamber as the legislature gears up to start its new session on Jan. 19, though they'll need at least one more Republican defection to take control.

Mayors

Boston, MA Mayor: City Councilor Michelle Wu earned an endorsement on Saturday from Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Wu was one of Warren's students at Harvard Law and later worked on Warren's successful 2012 Senate campaign.