Morning Digest: Darrell Issa thought he had an easy path to a comeback. A new poll says guess again

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

CA-50: While California Republican Darrell Issa looked like a sure bet to return to the House after he narrowly prevailed in the March top-two primary, a new SurveyUSA poll finds him locked in an unexpectedly close open seat contest with Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar. The poll, which was done for KGTV-TV San Diego and the San Diego Union-Tribune, shows Issa up just 46-45. Perhaps even more surprisingly, the sample finds Joe Biden ahead 48-45 in California's 50th Congressional District, an ancestrally Republican seat in inland San Diego County that backed Donald Trump 55-40 in 2016.

This is the first independent poll we've seen since the top-two six months ago. Last month, Campa-Najjar released numbers from Strategies 360 that found him down 47-43, but his campaign did not mention any presidential results. So far, though, no major outside groups on either side have booked air time here, though that could always change over the next two months.

Campaign Action

Issa infamously decided to run here the cycle after he retired as the congressman from the neighboring and more Democratic 49th District just ahead of the 2018 blue wave, and it's possible that his weak connections to this area are hurting him. SurveyUSA finds Issa with an even 32-32 favorable rating, while Campa-Najjar sports a 37-26 score.

If SurveyUSA is right, though, then there's also been a big shift to the left in this seat over just the last two years. Back in 2018, then-Rep. Duncan Hunter managed to fend off Campa-Najjar 52-48 even though the Republican incumbent was under indictment at the time for misusing campaign money. That was a much better performance than Democrats usually pull off in this area, but the fact that this district still decided to return Hunter to Congress even in a terrible year for Republicans didn't seem to bode well for Campa-Najjar's second campaign, especially after Hunter took a plea deal in late 2019 and resigned.

We'll need to see if more polls find a close race, and we'll also be keeping an eye out to see if major outside groups spend here. However, if this contest is tight, Campa-Najjar will have the resources to run a serious campaign. The Democrat ended June with a $890,000 to $516,000 cash-on-hand, though Issa is more than capable of self-funding if he needs to.

Senate

AK-Sen: A newly formed PAC called Independent Alaska has launched an ad campaign supporting Al Gross, an independent who won the Democratic nomination last month. The commercial touts Gross' time as a fisherman and a doctor and informs the audience, "Dr. Al's father was Alaska's AG [attorney general], and his neighbor and fishing partner growing up was Republican Gov. Jay Hammond." The narrator concludes, "We're in a pandemic. It's time to send a doctor to D.C." There is no word on the size of the buy.

GA-Sen-B: Republican Rep. Doug Collins is running his first ad on broadcast TV, and he begins by saying of the appointed GOP incumbent, "Kelly Loeffler spent $30 million on slick ads telling lies—now it's my turn to tell the truth."

Collins continues, "I'm not a billionaire. I'm a state trooper's kid, a husband, a father, an Air Force chaplain and Iraq War veteran." He adds, "I'm President Trump's top defender against the sham impeachment, and yes, his preferred pick for the Senate." Trump reportedly did very much want Collins to be appointed to this seat, but he hasn't taken sides in the Nov. 3 all-party primary between the congressman and Loeffler.

On the Democratic side, pastor Raphael Warnock, who would be the state's first Black senator, is using his newest commercial to talk about his experiences with systemic racism. The narrator begins, "1982. A 12-year-old is accused of stealing and dragged out a store, told he looks suspicious because his hands are in his pockets." The audience then sees it's the candidate speaking as he continues, "I'm Raphael Warnock and that boy was me."

Warnock goes on, "Back then I didn't understand how much the system works against those without power and money, that the rules were different for some of us. Too often that's still true today, especially in Washington." Warnock ends by saying that it's time for this to change.

MI-Sen: The Glengariff Group's new poll for WDIV and the Detroit News finds Democratic Sen. Gary Peters leading Republican John James 44-41, while Joe Biden is ahead 47-42. Glengariff's last poll was all the way back in January, and it showed Peters up by a similar 44-40 spread.

MN-Sen: Citizens United (yes, the Citizens United) has launched what the National Journal's Dylan Wells reports is a six-figure buy supporting Republican Jason Lewis. The commercial, like Lewis' own ads, promotes Lewis as a supporter of the police and an opponent of violent mobs; both Lewis and Citizens United's spots also ignore racism and police brutality.

NC-Sen: Democrat Cal Cunningham has the first commercial we've seen anywhere focusing on allegations that the Russian government put out a bounty on American troops in Afghanistan. Cunningham says that his fellow veterans are the first ones to answer the call and continues, "So when [Republican Sen.] Thom Tillis fails to act while the Russians pay bounties for dead Americans, something is deeply wrong in Washington."

TX-Sen: Democrat MJ Hegar is airing her first TV ad of the general election as part of what her campaign says is a $1.5 million buy in six media markets that are home to 80% of the state's voters. As faint sounds of explosions are heard, the candidate tells the audience, "It was my third tour in Afghanistan. I was flying a medevac mission when I was shot through the windshield and we went down."

The camera gradually pans out to reveal a smoking helicopter in the canyon behind Hegar as she continues, "So I strapped myself to the skids of the helicopter that rescued us and returned fire on the Taliban as we flew to safety. For that I was awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor." The candidate goes on, "I'm MJ Hegar, and we fought like hell to get everyone home safe that day. And I approved this message because my mission isn't over while Texas families are still in danger."

Gubernatorial

WV-Gov: Democrat Ben Salango is airing his first TV spot since he won the primary three months ago. As old photos from his childhood fill the screen, the candidate says, "I grew up in a two-bedroom trailer in Raleigh County. It was a big deal when we got our first washer and dryer."

Salango then goes after Republican Gov. Jim Justice, declaring, "My family worked hard to build a business and even harder to pay the bills. Jim Justice is a billionaire who's been sued over 600 times for not paying his bills. And who made a secret deal with the government he controls to give himself tax breaks." Salango concludes, "I mean c'mon. I'll never betray West Virginia like that. I was raised better."

House

CA-25: Democrat Christy Smith is running her first commercial since her defeat in the May special election. Smith talks about how her mother survived domestic violence and "rebuilt our lives" with a nursing degree from the local community college. The candidate says she went on to work three jobs to pay for her education at that same institution and went on to found an education nonprofit.

CA-48: In its opening TV spot for this race, the DCCC declares that Republican Michelle Steel's allies were at the center of a major corruption scandal, but she "voted to defund the anti-corruption unit in Orange County."

The ad is also running in Vietnamese, which makes this one of the very rare examples of an American political commercial that's aired on TV all or mostly in a language other than English or Spanish. Back in 2018, Democrat John Chiang ran a spot entirely in Mandarin in his unsuccessful bid for governor of California, while Republican Ed Gillespie added Korean subtitles to a commercial during his 2017 primary for governor of Virginia.

There have been a few instances of American political ads airing on the radio in a language other than English or Spanish (and obviously, without subtitles.) In 2016, Arizona Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick recorded some ads in Navajo, which she speaks, for her unsuccessful Senate bid. That same year, Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman's campaign did a Ukrainian radio ad for his re-election campaign.

IA-01: Back in July, Republican Ashley Hinson blamed her campaign staff after the New York Times reported that several op-eds credited to her, as well as material on her campaign site, were full of passages plagiarized from other sources, and the DCCC is using its first TV spot to go after Hinson over this.

The narrator begins, "In tough times, we need leaders we can trust. But Ashley Hinson was caught plagiarizing—word for word—from the Des Moines Register, the New York Times, even her opponent's own policy positions." He then focuses on Hinson's record, declaring, "And Hinson took thousands from the nursing home industry. When the Coronavirus struck—Hinson voted to protect them with special legal immunity. Instead of protecting seniors and workers."

OH-01: House Majority PAC has released a survey from the Democratic firm Normington Petts that shows Democrat Kate Schroder leading Republican Rep. Steve Chabot 50-46, while Joe Biden has a tiny 48-47 edge in this Cincinnati-based seat. We've seen a few other polls this year from Schroder and her allies that have found a tight race, while Republicans have yet to drop their own numbers.

HMP is also running a commercial that targets Chabot over the truly strange scandal that engulfed Chabot's campaign last year, a story that Schroder has also focused on in her ads. The spot begins by reminding viewers that Chabot became a member of Congress in 1995 when "[b]aseball was on strike" and "Toy Story debuted. The first one." The narrator continues, "But now, a confirmed FBI investigation into $123,000 missing from Chabot's campaign. And Chabot's campaign paid his son-in-law's company nearly $200,000." The narrator concludes, "Twenty-four years in Congress has taken its toll on Steve Chabot."

PA-01: Democrat Christina Finello's first general election ad focuses on her own struggles with college loans and healthcare. She says that, while she "understands the struggles of the middle class," Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick "votes with Trump. Giving tax cuts to the rich and ending protections for people with pre-existing conditions."

Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, uses his own ad to tout his endorsements from groups that usually pull for Democrats like the AFL-CIO, the League of Conservation Voters, and Everytown for Gun Safety, as well as the local police and firefighter unions. The congressman's mom also makes it clear she's backing Fitzpatrick.

SC-02: EMILY's List has endorsed Adair Ford Boroughs' campaign against Republican Rep. Joe Wilson.

TX-21: While freshman Republican Rep. Chip Roy has shown absolutely no desire to actually vote or behave like anything other than the far-right Freedom Caucus member that he is, the former Ted Cruz chief of staff is using his opening ad to portray himself as a bipartisan figure. Roy declares he'll "hold my party accountable if they're wrong, and work across party lines when it's right for Texas."

TX-23: Republican Tony Gonzales uses his first general election commercial to talk about how he went from growing up in an abusive home where he was abandoned by his father to the Navy.

Meanwhile, VoteVets has launched a $533,000 ad campaign against Gonzales. The ad stars an injured veteran who tells the audience that Gonzales "supports taking away health coverage from half a million veterans."

UT-04: The Congressional Leadership Fund is running a very rare positive TV commercial promoting Republican Burgess Owens, whom House Majority PAC recently began attacking.

CLF promotes Owens as a "pro-football star, political outsider, conservative, successful businessman, and mentor to troubled kids." As the ad shows footage of a football game, the narrator declares Owens will "heal our nation, tackling a virus and protecting the vulnerable." Those feel good themes are not, shall we say, the type of things that CLF likes to fill its ads with.

VA-02: This week, a third staffer from Republican Scott Taylor's 2018 campaign was indicted for allegedly submitting fraudulent signatures in order to get a former Democrat on the ballot as an independent that year. Special prosecutor John Beamer predicted that he would seek at least one additional indictment, and he said of Taylor, "He's part of the campaign and the whole campaign is under investigation."

Taylor is seeking a comeback against freshman Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria, who narrowly unseated him in 2018. Last month, Taylor sent a cease-and-desist letter to Luria demanding that she stop making statements claiming that he is under investigation for ballot access fraud only for Beamer to publicly contradict him. Luria soon began running commercials focused on the ongoing scandal.

VA-05: Democrat Cameron Webb is up with two commercials that decry the "lies and dirty tricks" being waged by Republican Bob Good, who recently ran a truly racist spot against Webb.

In Webb's first ad, the narrator declares that the candidate "is not for defunding the police," and adds that "a senior Trump official is praising Webb." The commercial highlights the law enforcement officials backing Webb before the candidate himself appears and talks about his work in the Obama and Trump administrations and support for "free market solutions to bring healthcare costs down."

The second Webb spot stars several former sheriffs as well as Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Hingeley, who praise Webb and implore the audience not to let "Bob Good scare you from electing a good man."

Ballot Measures

CA Ballot: Probolsky Research has released the first poll we've seen of Prop. 15, the so-called "split roll" initiative that would scale back a significant part of the law passed by anti-tax crusaders in 1978, and finds it down 49-41. Probolsky has worked for Republicans in the past, but it says this survey was not done for a client.

The poll was taken just before the pro-Prop. 15 group Schools & Communities First launched its opening TV commercials. One ad declares that wealthy corporate tycoons "think they're entitled to tax handouts. Prop. 15 closes the loopholes." The narrator continues, "The richest 10% of corporate properties provide 92% of the revenue, while homeowners, renters, and small businesses are protected." The second spot argues, "Prop. 15 would raise billions of dollars that our communities and schools need" and would make "wealthy large corporations pay their fair share, while small businesses get a tax break."

As David Jarman has written, Prop. 15 would dramatically alter California's property tax landscape and lead to a massive increase in tax revenue by repealing a portion of 1978's Prop. 13. That measure limits the annual property tax on a particular property to no more than 1% of its assessed value and, most importantly, limits the increase in a property's assessed value to no more than 2% per year—even if its actual market value has soared. This has resulted in municipalities and school districts taking in revenues far smaller than they ought to be.

However, voters finally have their chance this fall to modify the system Prop. 13 set up decades ago. This year's Prop. 15 would essentially split the "roll" of properties every municipality maintains by requiring commercial and industrial properties to be reassessed at actual market value while keeping residential and agricultural properties under Prop. 13's rules.

Mayoral

Miami-Dade County, FL Mayor: On behalf of the Miami Herald, the Democratic pollster Bendixen & Amandi International is out with a survey that finds Democrat Daniella Levine Cava leading Republican Steve Bovo 39-32 in this November's officially nonpartisan contest. This sample also found Joe Biden ahead 55-38 in a county that supported Hillary Clinton 63-34.

Primary Result Recaps

NH-Sen: Corky Messner, a wealthy attorney endorsed by Donald Trump, beat retired Army Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc 51-42 in the Republican primary. Bolduc responded to his defeat by declaring that he wouldn't back Messner in the general election against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. "I will not support a man who is being investigated for fraud by the attorney general," Bolduc said, "No. I will not support him. I will not disgrace my name to support a man like that."

Last month, Mary Mullarkey, a former chief justice of the Colorado Supreme Court, asked that state's attorney general and secretary of state to investigate the charitable foundation run by Messner, who lived in Colorado until last year. Mullarkey's request came after the Washington Post reported that the Messner Foundation, whose stated purpose is to provide college scholarships to low-income students, had only awarded a grant to one student in its first 10 years of existence. However, despite what Bolduc said, there are no reports that a legal investigation is underway.

No matter what happens with this story, Messner will be in for a difficult race against Shaheen, a longtime figure in New Hampshire politics. A recent poll from the University of New Hampshire found Shaheen beating Messner 54-36, and no major groups have booked ad time here. Messner's ability to self-fund could still give him an opening if Donald Trump performs well in this swing state, though, so Daily Kos Elections is keeping it on the big board at Likely Democratic.

NH-Gov: State Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes won the Democratic nomination to take on Republican Gov. Chris Sununu by defeating Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky 52-48. On the GOP side, Nobody lost.  

Sununu has polled well during his tenure, and a recent survey from the University of New Hampshire found him beating Feltes 57-33. However, Sununu's allies at the RGA don't seem to think the governor is a lock in this swing state, since they reserved $3.6 million in television time for the general election earlier this year. Daily Kos Elections rates this contest as Likely Republican.

NH-01: Former Trump aide Matt Mowers, who had his old boss' endorsement in the Republican primary, beat former state party vice chair Matt Mayberry 60-26. Mowers will face freshman Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas in the fall.

The 1st District, which includes eastern New Hampshire, has been very competitive turf for a long time, and both Barack Obama and Donald Trump only narrowly won it. Pappas, however, prevailed 54-45 during the 2018 blue wave, and he holds a huge financial edge over Mowers with less than two months to go before voting concludes. A recent poll from the University of New Hampshire also showed Pappas up 52-34, though we haven't seen any other numbers here.

Still, Team Blue isn't leaving anything to chance in this swing seat, and House Majority PAC has reserved $2 million for this race; Republicans have not yet booked any air time. Daily Kos Elections rates this contest as Lean Democratic.

NH State Senate, Where Are They Now?: Former Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes lost Tuesday's Democratic primary for New Hampshire's 15th State Senate District to Becky Whitley, a disability rights attorney, 41-33. This seat backed Hillary Clinton 58-37, and Whitley will be the clear favorite to succeed state Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes, who is the Democratic nominee for governor.

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: After abrupt postponement of March’s election, Ohio’s primary is finally here

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

Primary Night: The Buckeye stops here: Ohio goes to the polls Tuesday for its presidential and downballot primaries … finally. The election was originally scheduled for March 17, but GOP Gov. Mike DeWine, citing the coronavirus pandemic, haphazardly canceled it hours before it was to begin. DeWine eventually signed a bill into law that moved the election to April 28 and all but eliminated in-person voting.

We've put together our preview of the downballot contests to watch. The biggest race will be the Democratic contest to take on GOP Rep. Steve Chabot in the 1st Congressional District, a Cincinnati-area seat that Donald Trump carried 51-45. We'll also be watching the safely blue 3rd District in Columbus, where Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty faces a challenge from former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau advisor Morgan Harper.

Our live coverage will begin at 7:30 PM ET at Daily Kos Elections. You can also follow us on Twitter for blow-by-blow updates. And you'll want to bookmark our primary calendar, which includes the dates of the presidential and downballot primaries in all 50 states, as well as our separate calendar tracking key contests further down the ballot taking place nationwide this year.

Election Changes

Please bookmark our statewide 2020 primary calendar and our calendar of key downballot races, both of which we're updating continually as changes are finalized.

Connecticut: Democratic Secretary of State Denise Merrill says she's considering sending absentee ballot applications to all registered Democrats and Republicans ahead of Connecticut's Aug. 11 primaries (the state only allows party members to vote in primaries). Merrill had previously planned to send ballot applications to voters for the state's presidential primary, but that election was postponed from June 2 to Aug. 11 and consolidated with Connecticut's downballot primaries.

Because the state currently requires voters to present an excuse to request an absentee ballot, Merrill has encouraged Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont to issue an executive order allowing all voters to cite the coronavirus pandemic as an acceptable excuse. On Friday, Lamont refused to say whether he would sign such an order, saying only, "We’re working on that right now as we speak." Three weeks ago, Lamont's top counsel said the governor's office was researching whether the excuse requirement could be relaxed.

Missouri: Republican State House Speaker Elijah Haahr says he supports relaxing Missouri's excuse requirement to vote absentee and says that the legislature will hold a hearing on election-related issues sometime during its session over the next three weeks. Many county clerks have advocated for waiving the requirement, but Republican Gov. Mike Parson has opposed the idea. A lawsuit seeking to allow voters to cite the coronavirus pandemic as a valid excuse is pending in state court.

New Jersey: Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy says he still has not made a decision about whether to conduct New Jersey's July 7 primaries by mail. Three weeks ago, the last time Murphy addressed the matter, the governor said the state would have to decide in "a number of weeks."

New York: New York's Board of Elections, a bipartisan panel whose members are all appointed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has canceled the state's June 23 presidential primary. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had asked that the Democratic primary go forward, but a Democratic board member, Douglas Kellner, said, "What the Sanders campaign wanted is essentially a beauty contest that, given the situation with the public health emergency, seems to be unnecessary and, indeed, frivolous."

However, the state's downballot primaries, which are taking place the same day, will proceed as planned, meaning the only way public safety might be enhanced is if turnout is lower as a result. According to the New York Times, about one third of New York counties have no other races on the ballot and therefore will not hold an election. However, it is not clear what proportion of the state's actual electorate would be affected.

Separately, Cuomo canceled the June 23 special election for Queens Borough President, an all-party race that would have allowed the winner to serve out the current calendar year. However, a second, separate special election for the final year of now-Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz's term will still go forward. This will be a traditional race, with party primaries on June 23 and a general election in November. There will then be still another election next year for the borough presidency's regular four-year term.

Cuomo also canceled several state legislative special elections, instead leaving those seats vacant until the November general election. The special election for New York's 27th Congressional District in the Buffalo suburbs will still proceed on June 23.

Virginia: Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has postponed Virginia's May 5 local elections to May 19, the longest delay he is permitted to unilaterally impose under state law. Last week, the Democratic-run legislature rejected Northam's proposal to consolidate local races with the November general election.

Senate

AZ-Sen: Democrat Mark Kelly has debuted two new TV ads that showcase the candidate talking directly to viewers. The first spot highlights his background as a former Navy pilot and touts his political independence, while the second one focuses on the coronavirus pandemic and the need to both provide healthcare workers with the resources they require and to ensure everyone can access life-saving care without going bankrupt.

CO-Sen: Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold announced Friday that she would appeal a state judge's decision to place businesswoman Michelle Ferrigno Warren on the June Democratic primary ballot.

Judge Christopher Baumann wrote that, while Ferrigno Warren had only submitted about half of the 10,500 petitions needed, she "had to collect petition signatures in the shadow of a global pandemic and looming public health emergency." Baumann also said that the candidate's ability to collect about 5,400 petitions "suggests Ms. Ferrigno Warren has a 'significant modicum' of support for her candidacy." Griswold's team, though, argued that the decision was unfair to the contenders who had met the requirements as well as to candidates who had fallen short but hadn't sued to get on the ballot.

Gubernatorial

Utah: Both parties held their conventions on Saturday as virtual events, and the lineup for Utah's June 30 primaries is now set.

As we've written before, Utah allows candidates to reach the primary ballot either by turning in the requisite number of signatures or by competing at their party conventions, though contenders had the option to try both methods. Any candidate who handed in enough petitions was guaranteed a spot in the primary no matter how well or poorly they did at their convention on Saturday.

Both Republicans and Democrats used ranked-choice ballots at this year's conventions in contests with more than two candidates. If one contender took more than 60% of the delegate vote, they would be the only candidate to advance to the primary ballot. If, however, no one hit this threshold, then the two competitors left standing would make it to the primary.

UT-Gov: The GOP field to succeed retiring Republican Gov. Gary Herbert went from seven candidates to just four after Saturday's convention.

While Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox had already turned in enough signatures to advance to the primary, he still took the top spot at the party gathering by winning 53% of the delegates. Former state House Speaker Greg Hughes, who was only pursuing the convention route, grabbed the second spot with 43%. Saturday was game over, though, for wealthy businessman Jeff Burningham, Salt Lake County Council chair Aimee Winder Newton, and perennial candidate Jason Christensen.

Former Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman, who preceded Herbert as governor, and former state party chair Thomas Wright each had already earned a spot on the the primary ballot by turning in enough signatures. Early polls show Huntsman and Cox, who has Herbert's support, far ahead of the other candidates, but that could change now that the field has been reduced to four contenders. Cox, however, does begin the contest with a big financial advantage: The lieutenant governor led Huntsman in cash-on-hand $703,000 to $336,000 on April 15, while Wright and Hughes had $222,000 and $164,000 to spend, respectively.

The Democrats, by contrast, avoided a primary altogether. All six of Team Blue's candidates ended up pursuing only the convention route, and University of Utah law professor Chris Peterson won the event with 88% of the vote. Democrats haven't won a statewide race in Utah since Jan Graham was re-elected as attorney general back in 1996, and we rate the gubernatorial contest as Safe Republican.

House

Florida: Filing closed Friday for congressional candidates running in Florida’s Aug. 18 primaries, and the state has a list of contenders available here. The deadline for candidates for the state legislature is not until June 19, even though the primary is the same date.

FL-03: Far-right Rep. Ted Yoho is retiring, and 10 fellow Republicans are running to succeed him. This north-central Florida seat, which includes Gainesville and Ocala, backed Donald Trump 56-40, and the GOP nominee should have no trouble holding it.

Physician James St. George, who has self-funded about half of his campaign, led the field with $336,000 in the bank on March 31. Just behind was another self-funder, 2018 candidate Judson Sapp, who had $310,000 available. Sapp lost to Yoho 76-24 last cycle in a campaign that attracted very little attention, but this time, Sapp has the support of neighboring Rep. John Rutherford.

Another candidate to watch is Kat Cammack, who served as Yoho’s campaign manager during his upset 2012 win and later worked in his congressional office. Cammack ended March with $166,000 in the bank, which was a little more than the $137,000 that former Gainesville City Commissioner Todd Chase had available. Two other contenders, businessman Ryan Chamberlin and Clay County Commissioner Gavin Rollins, had $97,000 on-hand, while none of the other candidates had more than $25,000 to spend.

FL-05: While Democratic Rep. Al Lawson’s weak fundraising early last year had us wondering if he’d retire, the two-term congressman filed to run again. Lawson doesn’t face any serious intra-party opposition for this safely blue seat in the northern part of the state.

FL-07: Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy is defending a seat in the northern Orlando suburbs that backed Hillary Clinton 51-44 four years after Barack Obama won it by an extremely narrow margin, and it doesn’t look like she’ll be a major GOP target this year.

While a number of Republicans launched bids here, the only two who ended up filing were physician Leo Valentin and mortgage broker Richard Goble. Valentin, who has self-funded a portion of his campaign, had $276,000 to spend at the end of March, while Goble had only $13,000 on-hand. Murphy, who turned back a touted opponent 58-42 last cycle, had $1.32 million in the bank.

FL-13: Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist, who served as Florida’s Republican governor from 2007 to 2011, is seeking a third term in a St. Petersburg seat that moved from 55-44 Obama to 50-46 Clinton. Crist had a hefty $2.94 million in the bank at the end of March, and it remains to be seen if national Republicans will target his seat after ignoring it last cycle.

Five Republicans filed to challenge Crist, and attorney Amanda Makki looks like the frontrunner. Makki, who has the support of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, ended March with $613,000 on-hand, while Air Force veteran Anna Paulina Luna was a distant second with $147,000 in the bank. 2018 nominee George Buck, who lost to Crist 58-42 last time, had just $59,000 available; the NRCC also cut ties with Buck last year after he sent out a fundraising email calling for Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar to be hanged for "treason." The other two Republicans had less than $7,000 to spend.

FL-15: Freshman GOP Rep. Ross Spano is under federal investigation for allegedly violating campaign finance laws during his successful 2018 bid, and he faces notable primary and general opposition. This seat, which includes Lakeland and the exurbs of Tampa and Orlando, went from 52-47 Romney to 53-43 Trump, but Spano won it by a modest 53-47 before his scandal fully came out.

Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin announced last month that he’d challenge Spano for the GOP nod, and he quickly raised $107,000 and self-funded an additional $160,000. Spano took in $229,000 during this time, but he held only a $293,000 to $266,000 cash-on-hand lead over Franklin at the end of March.

Three Democrats are also competing here. State Rep. Adam Hattersley ended last month with a $231,000 to $90,000 cash-on-hand lead over Alan Cohn, a former local TV news anchor who lost a 2014 primary for a previous version of this seat. The third candidate, Iraq War veteran Jesse Philippe, has not reported raising any money yet.

FL-16: GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan turned back a credible Democratic foe 55-45 last cycle, and he faces another expensive race.

State Rep. Margaret Good, who won her seat in a 2018 special by defeating the congressman’s son, faces no opposition in the Democratic primary. Good has been a strong fundraiser, though the wealthy and well-connected Buchanan ended March with a $1.18 million to $737,000 cash-on-hand lead. This Sarasota-area seat went from 54-45 Romney to 54-43 Trump.

FL-18: GOP Rep. Brian Mast won re-election 54-46 against a well-funded opponent, and Democrats don’t seem to be making a play for this seat this time.

Mast ended March with a huge $1.52 million to $98,000 cash-on-hand lead over Oz Vazquez, a former state deputy solicitor general. Pam Keith, who lost the 2018 primary 60-40, also recently entered the Democratic primary. This seat, which includes the Palm Beach area and the Treasure Coast to the north, moved from 51-48 Romney to 53-44 Trump.  

FL-19: GOP Rep. Francis Rooney is retiring from this safely red district in the Cape Coral and Fort Myers area after only two terms, which means that we have our fourth open seat contest here in just 8 years. Ten Republicans are running here, and it’s already turning into an expensive fight.

Wealthy businessman Casey Askar, who only entered the race last month, quickly raised $506,000 and self-funded $3 million, which left him with a massive $3.48 million war chest. Urologist William Figlesthaler, who has also been doing some heavy self-funding, had a significant $1 million to spend as well.

Three state representatives are also in. Dane Eagle, who serves as majority leader, held a $334,000 to $221,000 cash-on-hand lead over Byron Donalds, while Heather Fitzenhagen was far behind with $90,000. Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson and former Minnesota state Rep. Dan Severson had $69,000 and $62,000 to spend, respectively, while the rest of the field was even further behind.

FL-26: Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell won this district 51-49 in a very expensive 2018 race, and the new incumbent will be a top GOP target this cycle. This seat, which includes the southwestern Miami area and the Florida Keys, went from 55-44 Obama to 57-41 Clinton, but Republicans still do well downballot here.

National Republicans, including Donald Trump, are supporting Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez, and he starts with a strong geographic base. About 90% of this seat is located in Miami-Dade County (the balance is in neighboring Monroe County), and Giménez has consistently been in the news during the coronavirus pandemic. Mucarsel-Powell, though, ended March with a strong $2.2 million to $405,000 cash-on-hand edge over Giménez, who entered the race in late January. The only other Republican, firefighter Omar Blanco, had just $59,000 in the bank.

FL-27: Democrat Donna Shalala won an open seat race last cycle 52-46 against former Spanish-language TV journalist Maria Elvira Salazar, and the Republican is back for a rematch. This seat, which includes the southern Miami area and Coral Gables, went from 53-46 Obama all the way to 59-39 Clinton, though this is another district where the GOP does better downballot. Shalala ended March with a $1.45 million to $895,000 cash-on-hand lead.

NM-02: Oil businesswoman Claire Chase has launched a Republican primary ad accusing 2018 GOP nominee Yvette Herrell of having "undermined Trump's campaign" and breaking a promise not to vote to raise taxes. The spot repeatedly labels Chase as the "pro-Trump" conservative instead.

Meanwhile, Herrell has launched a TV spot of her own attacking Chase over the latter's old anti-Trump Facebook posts. As a cutout of Chase appears on screen, speech bubbles pop up with posts such as "(Donald Trump)'s an a**hole unworthy of the office... of the President." Lastly, Herrell is airing another spot that features Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who previously led the House's far-right Freedom Caucus, praising her candidacy.

UT-01: The Republican field to succeed retiring Rep. Rob Bishop, who is running for lieutenant governor on former state GOP chair Thomas Wright's ticket, was dramatically cut from 12 to four after Saturday's convention. This seat, which includes Ogden and northern Utah, is safely red turf, and whoever emerges with the GOP nod on June 30 should have no trouble holding it.

Former Utah Commissioner of Agriculture Kerry Gibson took first place at the convention with 53%, while former U.S. Foreign Service officer Blake Moore grabbed second with 40%. Two other contenders, Davis County Commissioner Bob Stevenson and Kaysville Mayor Katie Witt, had already made the primary ballot by turning in signatures. It's game over, though, for Morgan County Councilor Tina Cannon, Clearfield Mayor Mark Shepherd, and six other contenders.

There's no obvious frontrunner here, and none of the candidates had a large amount of money to spend on April 5. (Because the party convention came so close to the April 15 quarterly reporting deadline, Utah congressional candidates' reports cover the period of Jan. 1 through April 5.) Gibson led Moore in cash-on-hand $102,000 to $84,000, while Stevenson had $65,000 in the bank. Witt, though, was far behind with just $9,000 to spend.

UT-04: The GOP field to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams was reduced from seven to four at the weekend's convention. State Rep. Kim Coleman secured a spot in the primary by taking 54% of the delegates, while former NFL player Burgess Owens, who had already successfully petitioned his way onto the ballot, took 45%.

Coleman and Owens will also face former radio host Jay Mcfarland and Trent Christensen, who served as a regional finance director for Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign, on June 30. However, party activist Kathleen Anderson, nurse practitioner Chris Biesinger, and businesswoman Cindy Thompson all failed to make the ballot.

This suburban Salt Lake City-area seat is likely to be a top GOP target, but none of the Republicans had much money on April 5. Coleman led Owens $115,000 to $93,000 in cash-on-hand, while Mcfarland had $33,000. Christensen, who only entered the race in mid-March, had a mere $4,000 in the bank, though he may have the connections to haul in more. McAdams, who has no intra-party opposition, had a hefty $2.2 million to spend.

Other Races

UT-AG: GOP incumbent Sean Reyes, who picked up an endorsement from Donald Trump on Thursday evening, will face Utah County Attorney David Leavitt in the June 30 primary. Reyes outpaced Leavitt 56-42 at Saturday's convention after the third candidate, former Attorney General John Swallow, was eliminated from contention in the first round of balloting. The Democrats are fielding defense attorney Greg Skordas, who lost the 2004 general election 68-28.

Leavitt, who is the the brother of former Gov. Mike Leavitt, has pitched himself as a reformer and focused his campaign on lowering the state's incarceration rate. Leavitt has also argued that Reyes is "shameless" for keeping large donations from an energy company whose leaders were convicted of fraud in federal court. Reyes, who is running as an ardent Trump ally, held a $128,000 to $23,000 cash-on-hand lead in mid-April.