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.
● GA-Sen, GA-Gov: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Greg Bluestein takes a look at the developing Republican primary contests for U.S. Senate and for governor, which already are shaping up to be ugly affairs. Before we get to the potential candidate fields, though, we'll set the scene with this quip from conservative commentator Martha Zoller: "The Republican Party in Georgia right now is like a Jenga game where someone has pulled out the wrong block," said the 2012 House candidate, explaining, "It's unstable and a mess."
Team Red is hoping to defeat Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, who will be up for a full six-year term next year, but there's no obvious frontrunner to take him on right now. Bluestein writes that former Sen. David Perdue, who lost to now-Sen. Jon Ossoff last month as Warnock was also unseating appointed incumbent Kelly Loeffler, has "essentially frozen" the nomination contest as he deliberates whether to launch a comeback bid.
Bluestein relays that Perdue is "viewed as unlikely to run," but that his advisers haven't dismissed the idea. Indeed, just after the story went live, one of those Perdue advisers confidently tweeted, "He'd clear the field or crush anyone who was dumb enough to run against him in a primary."
The AJC adds that Loeffler, who lost to Warnock 51-49, is also considering another try. That doesn't sit right with former Rep. Doug Collins, who lost the 2020 all-party primary to Loeffler and is considering another Senate bid, too. "Kelly can either be the person whose boredom costs Republicans the Senate twice or become a 'Jeopardy' answer that no one will remember the question to," said Collins' former spokesperson. Collins has also expressed interest in challenging Gov. Brian Kemp for renomination, but unnamed sources recently said he was leaning towards the Senate race.
Loeffler herself hasn't said if she's interested in trying to reclaim her former seat, but her allies are very interested in relitigating last year's intra-party fight. "Doug getting in the race muddied all that up," argued party operative and Loeffler ally Eric Tanenblatt. "It created a primary in a general election and caused a split in the party."
Bluestein also reports that a few other Republicans are considering entering the Senate race: state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, and former Ambassador to Luxembourg Randy Evans. None of this trio appears to have publicly expressed interest in this contest yet.
We'll turn now to the gubernatorial race. Both parties have long anticipated a rematch between 2018 Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams, who has not announced her plans but is universally expected to run again, and Kemp, but the governor has more immediate worries.
Donald Trump torched his old ally last year for not seeking to overturn Joe Biden's victory in Georgia's presidential contest, and Bluestein writes that Kemp's camp is preparing for a tough renomination fight. The AJC adds that one of the possible opponents that Kemp's side is keeping an eye on is Burt Jones, a wealthy state senator and co-captain of the University of Georgia's football team when they won the 2003 Sugar Bowl.
Jones does not appear to have talked publicly about taking on Kemp, and he seems far angrier at the state's number-two. Last month, the aforementioned Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan stripped Jones and two other state senators of their committee chairmanships as punishment for trying to undermine the presidential results. Jones said shortly afterwards that Duncan's actions were "a cowardly way and kind of petty politics," and added, "What comes around goes around in this building."
Finally, Bluestein writes that state GOP leaders are "increasingly concerned" that the notorious Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene could run for statewide office, which echoes a fear that national GOP operatives expressed to the New York Times last month. Greene herself has not said anything yet about a run for Senate, governor, or a different office, though that silence doesn't seem to be calming Republicans who fear she'd bring the Jenga tower crashing down on the party's ticket.
● MO-Sen: In a Thursday appearance on the far-right Newsmax TV, former Gov. Eric Greitens did not rule out a GOP primary bid against Sen. Roy Blunt.
When the disgraced ex-governor was directly asked if he had "any interest in running for Senate someday" (the relevant portion begins at the 3:08 mark), Greitens did not answer the question, but he did take the time to trash his would-be opponent. Greitens castigated Blunt for "criticizing President Trump, criticizing his administration, embracing Joe Biden," and argued that the incumbent didn't reflect Missouri Republicans.
That same day, former Democratic state Sen. Scott Sifton filed paperwork with the FEC for a potential campaign for this seat, though he did not say anything publicly about his plans. Two years ago, Sifton told the media that he was preparing for a bid for governor, but he ultimately deferred to the eventual nominee, state Auditor Nicole Galloway.
● OH-Sen: Team Red may be getting its first declared Senate candidate before long, as Jane Timken announced Friday that she was stepping down as chair of the state Republican Party and would reveal her future plans "in the coming weeks." Timken was elected to another term leading the party weeks before Sen. Rob Portman surprised everyone by announcing his retirement, and she soon expressed interest in running to succeed him.
● PA-Sen, PA-Gov: What does Donald Trump's legal team for his second impeachment trial have to do with next year's races for Senate or governor of Pennsylvania? Everything―if you ask Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale, a Republican who seems to think one hiring decision is just about hurting him.
Gale told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Bruce Castor, a former Montgomery County commissioner who'd previously served as district attorney, had been brought on to defend Trump at the behest of "the Pennsylvania GOP swamp." Gale argued, "Political insiders are in panic-mode that I will run for Governor or U.S. Senate in 2022," and accused party leaders of "resurrecting" Castor to "offset my growing popularity." Castor himself was mentioned as a potential candidate for either statewide office after he signed on to help Trump, but he doesn't appear to have said anything about the idea yet.
● FL-Gov: Democratic state Sen. Annette Taddeo recently told Politico that she was considering a bid against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. Taddeo, who is originally from Colombia, argued the party needed candidates who could appeal to Hispanic voters who swung hard towards Trump last year.
Taddeo herself was on the statewide ballot in 2014 as Democratic nominee Charlie Crist's running mate, but their ticket lost to Republican Gov. Rick Scott 48-47 during that year's GOP wave. Taddeo went on to lose a close primary for the 26th Congressional District, but she flipped a GOP-held state Senate seat in a closely-watched 2017 special election in the Miami area and was re-elected the following year.
A number of other Democrats are eyeing this race including now-Rep. Crist, who'd been elected to a single term as governor in 2006 when he was still a Republican. Crist also told Politico, "I am seriously considering at this point running for governor in 2022," a statement that came days after the congressman said he was merely "opening my brain to the idea a little bit more."
● NY-Gov: Republican Rep. Tom Reed trashed Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday, but the congressman refused to answer if he was considering a bid against the incumbent. New York hasn't elected a Republican to statewide office since George Pataki won his final term as governor in 2002, and Reed, who served as an honorary state chair of Donald Trump's 2020 campaign, would have a very difficult time breaking that streak.
● GA-07: 2020 Republican nominee Rich McCormick recently sent out a fundraising email saying that he was considering a rematch against freshman Democratic Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux next year. McCormick told his would-be donors that he expected GOP mapmakers to create "a Republican-favored district," adding, "We are following the process closely and should be in a good position to take back the seat and help take back the Congressional House Majority in 2022."
● NY-22: On Friday, Judge Scott DelConte ordered county and state election authorities to certify Republican Claudia Tenney, who leads Democrat Anthony Brindisi by 109 votes, as the winner in the November contest. The legal battle is not over, though, as Brindisi's team said earlier in the day that they would be appealing DelConte's decision to reject several hundred ballots that they're seeking to have tabulated.