The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Daniel Donner, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
● Primary Night: The Gregs of Rath: After a brief break, the primary season continues Tuesday with contests in California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota. As always, we've put together our preview of what to watch starting at 8 PM ET when the first polls close. You'll also want to bookmark our primary calendar, which includes the dates for primaries in all 50 states.
Democrats are going on the offensive in several California contests to try to help weaker Republicans pass more formidable opponents in the top-two primary. One of Team Blue's biggest targets is Rep. David Valadao, who was one of 10 Republicans to vote to impeach Donald Trump last year and now faces two intra-party foes in the Central Valley-based 22nd District.
House Majority PAC has dropped $280,000 to boost one of them, former Fresno City Councilman Chris Mathys, by ostensibly attacking him as "100% pro-Trump and proud," while also promoting Democratic Assemblyman Rudy Salas. Valadao's allies at the Congressional Leadership Fund, though, aren't sitting idly by, as they've deployed a larger $790,000 on messaging hoping to puncture Mathys by labeling him "soft on crime, dangerously liberal."
Orange County Democrat Asif Mahmood is trying a similar maneuver against Republican Rep. Young Kim over in the 40th District by airing ads to boost Mission Viejo Councilman Greg Raths, a Republican who has a terrible record in local congressional races. That's also prompted a furious backlash from the CLF, which is spending $880,000 to stop Raths from advancing. But there's been no such outside intervention to the south in the 49th District, where Democratic Rep. Mike Levin is taking action to make sure his GOP foe is Oceanside City Councilman Christopher Rodriguez rather than 2020 rival Brian Maryott.
That's not all that's on tap. We'll be watching GOP primary contests in Mississippi and South Dakota, where Reps. Steven Palazzo and Dusty Johnson face potentially serious intra-party challenges. Both parties will also be picking their nominees for hotly contested general election contests, as well as in safe House seats. You can find more on all these races, as well as the other big elections on Tuesday's ballot, in our preview.
● California: While the Golden State's many competitive House top-two primaries will take center-stage on Tuesday, we also have several major local races to watch. Unless otherwise noted, all of these races are officially nonpartisan primaries where candidates need to win a majority of the vote in order to avoid a Nov. 8 general election.
We'll begin in the open seat race for mayor of Los Angeles, a contest that's largely been defined by a $34 million spending spree by billionaire developer Rick Caruso. However, while some progressives have feared that the Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat's offensive could allow him to win outright, a recent poll from UC Berkeley for the Los Angeles Times shows Democratic Rep. Karen Bass in first with 38%. That survey has Caruso not far behind with 32%, while City Councilman Kevin de León, who ran for Senate in 2018 as a progressive Democrat, lags in third with just 6%.
Over to the north there's a competitive contest to succeed termed-out San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo in a Silicon Valley community where the major fault lines are usually between business-aligned politicians like Liccardo and candidates closer to labor. The top fundraiser has been Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, a longtime union ally who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2006 and now enjoys the backing of PACs funded by labor, police unions, and even the San Francisco 49ers. Another prominent contender is Councilmember Matt Mahan, who is supported by Liccardo's PAC even though the mayor himself has yet to endorse. The field also includes two other council members, the labor-aligned Raul Peralez and the business-allied Dev Davis, but they have not received any outside aid. San Jose voters Tuesday will also decide on Measure B, which would move mayoral contests to presidential years starting in 2024.
There are also several competitive district attorney races to watch, including in San Jose's Santa Clara County. Three-term incumbent Jeff Rosen is arguing he's made needed criminal justice reforms, but public defender Sajid Khan is campaigning as the "true, real progressive DA" he says the community lacks. The contest also includes former prosecutor Daniel Chung, a self-described "moderate" who has a terrible relationship with his one-time boss Rosen. Over in Orange County, Republican District Attorney Todd Spitzer is hoping that multiple scandals won't prevent him from scoring an outright win against Democrat Peter Hardin and two other opponents.
San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin has a tough race of his own as he tries to turn back a recall campaign, and several polls find voters ready to eject the criminal justice reformer. If a majority vote yes on the recall question, which is identified as Proposition H, Mayor London Breed would appoint a new district attorney until a special election is held this November. However, SF voters will also be presented with Proposition C, which would prevent Breed's pick from running in that contest and make it extremely difficult to get recall questions on future ballots.
Back in Southern California we'll also be watching the race for Los Angeles County sheriff, where conservative Democratic incumbent Alex Villanueva is trying to win a majority of the vote against eight foes. Bolts Magazine has details on several more law enforcement contests across California as well.
Finally, we also have the special general election to succeed Republican Devin Nunes, who has amazingly not yet been fired as head of Trump's disastrous social media project, in the existing version of the 22nd Congressional District, a Central Valley seat Trump carried 52-46. The first round took place in April and saw former Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway lead Democrat Lourin Hubbard, who is an official at the California Department of Water Resources, 35-19 in all-party primary where Republican candidates outpaced Democrats 66-34. Neither Conway nor Hubbard are seeking a full term anywhere this year.
● AL-Sen: While Rep. Mo Brooks surprised plenty of observers two weeks ago by advancing to the June 21 runoff with former Business Council of Alabama head Katie Britt, his allies at the Club for Growth aren't acting at all confident about his chances of actually winning round two. Politico reports that the Club on Thursday canceled more than $500,000 in advertising time meant to benefit Brooks, who trailed Britt 45-29 on May 24.
The congressman got some more disappointing news the following day when Army veteran Mike Durant, who took third with 23%, announced that he wouldn't support or even vote for either Britt or Brooks. While Durant claimed hours before polls closed on May 24 that he'd endorse Brooks over Britt, he now says, "Mo Brooks has been in politics for 40 years, and all he does is run his mouth." Durant also had harsh words for the frontrunner, arguing, "Katie Britt doesn't deserve to be a senator."
● CO-Sen: Wealthy businessman Joe O'Dea has publicized a survey from Public Opinion Strategies that gives him a 38-14 lead over state Rep. Ron Hanks in the June 28 Republican primary to face Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet. O'Dea has also announced that he's spending $325,000 on a TV and radio campaign against Hanks, who ended March with all of $16,000 in the bank.
● MO-Sen: While state Attorney General Eric Schmitt's allies at Save Missouri Values PAC have largely focused on attacking disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens ahead of the August GOP primary, the super PAC is now spending $510,000 on an offensive against a third candidate, Rep. Vicky Hartzler. The spot argues that Hartzler "voted to give amnesty to over 1.8 million illegal immigrants, and she even voted to use our tax dollars to fund lawyers for illegals who invaded our country."
While several Republicans initially showed interest in taking on incumbent Laura Kelly, who is is the only Democratic governor up for re-election this year in a state that Donald Trump carried, Attorney General Derek Schmidt has essentially had the field to himself ever since former Gov. Jeff Colyer dropped out in August. The RGA isn’t waiting for Schmidt to vanquish his little-known primary foe, as it’s already running a commercial promoting him as an alternative to Kelly.
● MA-Gov: Attorney General Maura Healey won Saturday's Democratic Party convention with 71% of the delegates, while the balance went to state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz. Chang-Díaz took considerably more than the 15% she needed in order to secure a spot on the September primary ballot for governor, but she faces a wide polling and financial deficit.
● MD-Gov: The first independent poll of the July 19 Democratic primary comes from OpinionWorks on behalf of the University of Baltimore and the Baltimore Sun, and it finds state Comptroller Peter Franchot in the lead with 20%. Author Wes Moore is close behind with 15%, while former DNC chair Tom Perez and former Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker take 12% and 7%, respectively; a 31% plurality remains undecided.
While former U.S. Secretary of Education John King snagged just 4%, here, though, his own numbers show him in far better shape. He released an internal from 2020 Insight last month that showed Franchot at 17% as King and Moore took 16%; Perez took the same 12% that OpinionWorks gave him, while 27% were undecided.
OpinionWorks also gives us a rare look at the GOP primary and has former state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, who is backed by termed-out Gov. Larry Hogan, beating Trump-endorsed Del. Dan Cox 27-21; wealthy perennial candidate Robin Ficker is a distant third with 5%, while a hefty 42% of respondents didn't choose a candidate.
● MI-Gov: The Michigan Supreme Court on Friday ruled against former Detroit police Chief James Craig and wealthy businessman Perry Johnson's attempts to get on the August Republican primary ballot after state election authorities disqualified them for fraudulent voter petition signatures, but neither of them is giving up hope of still capturing the GOP nod.
Craig acknowledged last month that he would consider a write-in campaign if his legal challenge failed, and he said Sunday on Fox, "It's not over. We are going to be evaluating next steps." While Craig doesn't appear to have addressed the possibility of a write-in campaign since the state's highest court gave him the thumbs down, he responded in the affirmative when asked, "Are they trying to steal your election?" Johnson, for his part, asked a federal judge the following day to halt the printing of primary ballots.
● NY-Gov: Last week was the deadline for independent candidates to turn in the 45,000 signatures they'd need to make the November ballot, and disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not submit any petitions.
● KS-03: Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids faces a rematch with former state GOP chair Amanda Adkins, who faces only minor opposition for renomination. Davids beat Adkins 54-44 in 2020 as Joe Biden pulled off an identical win in her suburban Kansas City seat, but Republican legislators passed a new gerrymander this year that slashes Biden’s margin to 51-47.
● MD-04: Former Rep. Donna Edwards has earned an endorsement from AFSCME Maryland Council 3, which is the state's largest government employee's union, as well as AFSCME Council 67 and Local 2250 for the July 19 Democratic primary.
● MI-10: Former Macomb County Judge Carl Marlinga has dropped an internal from Target Insyght that shows him leading two-time GOP Senate nominee John James 44-40 in a general election contest in this swing seat, which is similar to the 48-45 edge he posted in January. The firm also gives Marlinga a 40-16 advantage over Warren Council member Angela Rogensues in the August Democratic primary.
● NC-13: The DCCC has released an in-house survey that shows Democrat Wiley Nickel with a 45-43 advantage over Republican Bo Hines. This poll was conducted May 18-19, which was immediately after both men won their respective May 17 primaries in this competitive district in Raleigh's southern suburbs; it's also the first we've seen from this contest.
● NH-01: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Monday endorsed 2020 nominee Matt Mowers' second campaign to take on Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas. Mowers lost to Pappas 51-46 as Biden was carrying the district 52-46, and he faces several opponents in the August GOP primary for a seat that barely changed under the new court-ordered map.
● NV-01: Former 4th District Rep. Cresent Hardy startled observers when he filed to take on Democratic incumbent Dina Titus right before filing closed March 18, but the Republican still doesn't appear to have gotten around to cluing in donors about his latest comeback attempt. Hardy, mystifyingly, waited until April 15 to even open a new fundraising account with the FEC, and he proceeded to haul in all of $9,000 through May 25 without spending a penny of it.
Hardy faces intra-party opposition next Tuesday from conservative activist David Brog, Army veteran Mark Robertson, and former Trump campaign staffer Carolina Serrano, all of whom we can accurately say spent infinitely more than him. Titus herself is going up against activist Amy Vilela, who took third place with 9% in the 2018 primary for the 4th District.
● NY-19 (special), NY-23 (special): Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul has officially set Aug. 23 special elections to succeed Democrat Antonio Delgado and Republican Tom Reed in the existing versions of the 19th and 23rd Congressional Districts, respectively. Both races will coincide with the primaries for the new congressional and state Senate districts. The 19th supported Biden 50-48, while the 23rd went for Trump 55-43.
In New York special elections, party leaders select nominees, rather than primary voters, and Democrats in the 23rd District picked Air Force veteran Max Della Pia over the weekend. Della Pia, who unsuccessfully ran in the 2018 primary, has also announced that he'll run for a full two-year term to succeed Republican Rep. Chris Jacobs in the new 23rd, which contains much of Reed's now-former constituency.
● NY-23: Developer Carl Paladino launched his bid over the weekend to succeed retiring Republican Rep. Chris Jacobs, and the 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee immediately picked up an endorsement from the House’s third-ranking Republican, 21st District Rep. Elise Stefanik. Paladino won’t have a glide path to the nomination, though, as state party chair Nick Langworthy reportedly will also enter the August primary ahead of Friday’s filing deadline. Trump would have carried this seat in southwestern upstate New York 58-40.
Langworthy hasn’t said anything publicly about his plans, but Tompkins County Legislator Mike Sigler has abandoned his own nascent campaign to support him. Paladino himself told the Buffalo News he tried to deter the chair from running, but added, “He's all about himself and is using party resources to pass petitions so he can go down to Washington and act like a big shot.”
Both Paladino and Langworthy have longtime ties to Trump, and the two even made an unsuccessful attempt to recruit him to run for governor in 2014. Paladino was all-in for Trump’s White House bid in 2016, and he even dubbed none other than Stefanik a “fraud” for refusing to endorse the frontrunner. (Stefanik has since very much reinvented herself as an ardent Trumpist.) Langworthy himself also was all-in for Trump well before the rest of the GOP establishment fell into line.
Trump’s transition committee condemned Paladino in late 2016 after the then-Buffalo School Board member said he wanted Barack Obama to “catch mad cow disease” and for Michelle Obama to “return to being male” and be “let loose” in Zimbabwe; Trump and Paladino, though, have predictably remained buds. Langworthy, for his part, reportedly had Trump’s support in his successful bid to become state party chair.
● OH-01: Democrat Greg Landsman has publicized a mid-May internal from Impact Research that shows him deadlocked 47-47 against Republican incumbent Steve Chabot. This is the first survey we've seen of the general election for a Cincinnati-based seat that would have supported Joe Biden 53-45.
● TN-05: On Friday night, a state judge ordered music video producer Robby Starbuck back onto the August Republican primary ballot, though the Tennessee Journal predicted, "An appeal appears all but certain." Party leaders ejected Starbuck and two others in April for not meeting the party's definition of a "bona fide" Republican, but the judge ruled that the GOP's decision was invalid because it violated state open meeting law. The deadline to finalize the ballot is Friday.
● TX-15: Army veteran Ruben Ramirez announced Monday that he would seek a recount for the May 24 Democratic runoff, a decision he made shortly after the state party's canvas found that he still trailed businesswoman Michelle Vallejo by 30 votes. The eventual nominee will go up against 2020 Republican nominee Monica De La Cruz, who won the Republican primary outright in March, in a Rio Grande Valley seat that Trump would have taken 51-48.
● TX-28: Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar's lead over progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros increased from 177 votes immediately following their runoff two weeks ago to 281 with the final county-by-county canvass of votes that concluded on Friday. Cuellar again declared victory, but Cisneros said on Monday that she would seek a recount.
● TX-34 (special): The Texas Tribune reports that Republican Maya Flores and her outside group allies have spent close to $1 million on TV ahead of the June 14 all-party primary for this 52-48 Biden seat. By contrast, Democrat Dan Sanchez and the DCCC are spending $100,000 on a joint digital buy, but they don't appear to be on TV yet. One other Democrat and Republican are also on the ballot, which could keep either Flores or Sanchez from winning the majority they'd need to avert a runoff.
Secretaries of State
● MA-SoS: Boston NAACP head Tanisha Sullivan outpaced seven-term Secretary of State Bill Galvin 62-38 at Saturday's Democratic convention, but Galvin proved four years ago that he can very much win renomination after being rejected by party delegates. Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim snagged 55% of the convention vote back in 2018 after arguing that the incumbent had done a poor job advocating for needed voting rights reforms only to lose the primary to Galvin 67-32 months later.
Sullivan, who sports an endorsement from 6th District Rep. Seth Moulton, is adopting a similar argument against Galvin this time. The challenger used her convention speech to argue, "Despite record voter turnout in 2020, hear me on this, voters from some of our most vulnerable communities still saw the lowest voter turnout across Massachusetts, leaving behind far too many voices. I'm talking about the voices of Black, Indigenous, Latinx and AAPI folks."
Galvin, though, insisted his presence was more vital than ever, saying, "I am now the senior Democratic election official in the United States and I intend to use that role to make sure that we're able to make sure that citizens throughout our country have the opportunity to vote."