It’s money vs. the establishment in unpredictable Senate primary in Maryland

Voters in Maryland, Nebraska, and West Virginia pick their nominees Tuesday in a set of high-profile primaries for state and federal offices where it takes just a simple plurality to win.

That's not all that's in store, though. North Carolina will host runoffs in contests where no one earned at least 30% of the vote in the first round of the primary on March 5—though only in races where the runner-up officially requested a second round. Finally, voters in Anchorage are taking part in a competitive general election to determine the next leader of Alaska's largest city.

Below, you'll find our guide to all of the top races to watch arranged chronologically by each state’s poll closing times. When it’s available, we'll tell you about any reliable polling that exists for each race, but if we don't mention any numbers, it means no recent surveys have been made public.

To help you follow along, you can find interactive maps from Dave's Redistricting App for Maryland, Nebraska, and West Virginia. You can find Daily Kos Elections' 2020 presidential results for each congressional district here, as well as our geographic descriptions for each seat. You’ll also want to bookmark our primary calendar, which includes the dates for primaries in all 50 states.

We'll be liveblogging all of these races at Daily Kos Elections on Tuesday night, starting when the first polls close at 7:30 PM ET. Join us for our complete coverage!

North Carolina

Polls close at 7:30 PM ET.

• NC-LG (R) (50-49 Trump): The main contest on a mostly quiet night in North Carolina is the race to succeed far-right Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, who is the Republican nominee for governor. (Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately.)

Hal Weatherman, who has worked as a top staffer for several extremist politicians, led Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O'Neill 20-16 in the first round on March 5. Robinson went on to endorse Weatherman for the second round. The winner will go up against state Sen. Rachel Hunt, who won the Democratic nomination two months ago.

The GOP primary for the 13th Congressional District will also be on the ballot, but the race ended in early May when wealthy attorney Kelly Daughtry ended her campaign and endorsed former federal prosecutor Brad Knott. Another congressional district that had been slated to host a runoff, the 6th, won't have one because former Rep. Mark Walker dropped out in March when there was still time to call off a second round.

West Virginia

Polls close at 7:30 PM ET.

• WV-Sen (R) (69-30 Trump): Republicans were well-positioned to flip West Virginia's Senate seat even before Democrat Joe Manchin announced his retirement in November, and there was never much suspense about who the GOP's nominee will be: Gov. Jim Justice, who is termed out of his current post, has the support of Donald Trump and the GOP establishment in a seven-way primary. 

Rep. Alex Mooney hoped to position himself as a hardline alternative to Justice, who was elected governor as a Democrat in 2016 and switched parties the next year, but the one-time Maryland legislator has failed to reverse his massive deficit in the polls. The typically free-spending Club for Growth all but gave up on Mooney well before Election Day, telling Politico that Trump's endorsement of Justice left the congressman without "a viable path forward."

• WV-Gov (R) (69-30 Trump): Republicans have an ugly and expensive six-person race to replace Jim Justice as governor that's been defined by escalating transphobic campaign ads from the three main candidates. That trio consists of Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, former Del. Moore Capito, and wealthy car dealership owner Chris Miller.

Morrisey, despite his failure to unseat Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in 2018, has been the frontrunner from the start. The Club for Growth and an affiliated organization have spent $10 million on ads praising the attorney general or attacking his rivals, which is far more than any other campaign or group has deployed.

The other main candidates, though, have prominent connections. Capito is the son of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and the grandson of the late Gov. Arch Moore, and he earned Justice's endorsement a month ahead of the primary. Miller, whose mother is Rep. Carol Miller, has used his wealth to finance ads touting himself as an outsider. 

Secretary of State Mac Warner is also in the hunt, but he's struggled to bring in money and has aired few ads. Morrisey's backers started running ads targeting Warner in the final days, though, a sign that they believe he could cost their candidate votes. Two little-known Republicans also are on the ballot.

Almost every poll has shown Morrisey in the lead, though surveys disagree about both the size of his advantage and whether either Capito or Miller is his main opponent. A late April survey for a pro-Capito group showed the former legislator beating Morrisey 31-23, but no one has released corroborating data.

• WV-01 (R): Rep. Carol Miller faces an intra-party challenge from former Del. Derrick Evans, who served 90 days in prison for his participation in the Jan. 6 riot, in a constituency based in the southern half of the state.

Miller, who voted against recognizing Joe Biden's victory hours after the attack on the Capitol, doesn't appear to have done anything obvious that might alienate hardliners, but she's still taking Evans seriously. The congresswoman began airing ads late in the contest reminding viewers that Evans ran for the legislature as a Democrat in 2016.

• WV-02 (R): Five Republicans are campaigning to replace Senate candidate Alex Mooney in the district located in the northern half of West Virginia, but there's been one obvious frontrunner from the beginning. 

Treasurer Riley Moore, who is the nephew of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, started running in November of 2022 and enjoys the support of both Mooney and Speaker Mike Johnson. Moore has also benefited from over $1.1 million in outside spending, with most of that coming from a crypto-aligned group called Defend American Jobs.

Moore's main opponent appears to be retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Chris Walker, who would be the state's first Black member of Congress. Walker has raised a credible sum of money despite entering the race just four months before the primary, but he's gotten no notable outside support in this uphill battle.

Maryland

Polls close at 8 PM ET.

• MD-Sen (D) (65-32 Biden): Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and Rep. David Trone are the main candidates in a closely watched 10-person primary to succeed retiring Sen. Ben Cardin, a fellow Democrat who has not taken sides in the contest. The winner will likely take on former Gov. Larry Hogan, who should have no trouble winning the Republican primary.

Alsobrooks would be both Maryland's first Black senator and the first woman to represent the state in either chamber of Congress in eight years. She's benefited from high-profile support from Gov. Wes Moore, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, and most of Trone's colleagues in the state's House delegation, as well as an endorsement from the Washington Post.

But Trone, who is a co-founder of the liquor retailer Total Wine, is using his personal resources in a bid to overcome Alsobrooks's extensive establishment support. The congressman has poured over $60 million of his own money into his campaign, which is more than any candidate for Senate has ever self-funded for a primary.

Trone began running TV ads a full year before the primary, and according to AdImpact, he's outspent Alsobrook on commercials by a lopsided $46 million to $4 million spread as of Friday. Alsobrook's allies at EMILYs List have deployed over $2 million to help her overcome this gap, though there's been no other major outside spending on her behalf. Trone, who is white, has used many of his ads to tout his support from Black figures like state Attorney General Anthony Brown.

During the final weeks, the congressman has argued that he'd be a stronger opponent for Hogan and that Alsobrooks has done a poor job in elected office, though some of his messages attracted the wrong type of attention. His team edited a commercial to remove a line arguing that the Senate "is not a place for training wheels," a phrase Alsobrooks' allies charged was racist and sexist. EMILYs, meanwhile, has highlighted Trone's past donations to Republicans in its ads.

Almost every survey has shown Trone ahead, with an independent poll from early April placing his advantage at 48-29. However, there has been little data from the final weeks of the race.

• MD-02 (D) (59-39 Biden): Retiring Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger and much of the state's Democratic establishment are supporting Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski in the six-person primary for this suburban Baltimore seat. The only other notable contender is Del. Harry Bhandari, but he faces a wide financial and institutional disadvantage against Olszewski.

• MD-03 (D) (62-36 Biden): There are 22 names on the Democratic primary ballot to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. John Sarbanes, but most of the attention has centered on two of them: retired Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn, who helped defend Congress during the Jan. 6 riot, and state Sen. Sarah Elfreth.

Dunn's national fame helped him raise over $4.5 million from his campaign launch in January through April 24, a truly massive sum for a House candidate in such a short amount of time. But while that's about three times as much as Elfreth brought in, she's benefited from another $4.2 million in outside spending from the hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC.

Dunn has responded by airing ads blasting Elfreth for the help she's received from the organization, which he characterized as a "right-wing SuperPAC funded by Trump donors." Elfreth, who has Sen. Ben Cardin's support, has emphasized her roots in the district, which includes the state capital of Annapolis and several of Baltimore's suburbs—a not-too-subtle contrast to Dunn, who does not live in the 3rd District. (Members of Congress do not need to live in the district they represent.)

Dunn and Elfreth have overshadowed the rest of the field, but it's possible someone else could pull off an upset in this packed race. The roster includes state Sen. Clarence Lam, labor attorney John Morse, and three members of the state House of Delegates: Mark Chang, Terri Hill, and Mike Rogers.

• MD-06 (D & R) (54-44 Biden): Democratic Rep. David Trone's decision to run for the Senate has set off a pair of busy primaries to replace him in a constituency that contains the western part of the state and a slice of the Washington, D.C. suburbs.

There are 16 names on the Democratic ballot (though some of those candidates have dropped out), though former U.S. Commerce Department official April McClain Delaney is the frontrunner. Delaney is the wife of former Rep. John Delaney, who represented the previous version of the 6th District for three terms before leaving office in 2019 for an ill-fated bid for president, and she's brought in considerably more money than her opponents thanks in part to self-funding.

Delaney's main intra-party opponent looks to be Del. Joe Vogel, a 27-year-old who identifies as Jewish, Latino, and gay. Thanks in part to the unique profile he'd have in Congress, he's attracted national attention. He's also benefited from about $400,000 in support from Equality PAC, which is affiliated with the Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus, while there's been no comparable outside spending for anyone else.

Vogel has aired ads attacking Delaney for her past donations to and friendships with hard-right Republicans, but both sides disagree on the state of the race. A late April survey for Equality PAC found the two deadlocked 24-24, but a Delaney internal conducted a week from Election Day placed her ahead 37-24

What both polls do agree on is that the rest of the field is mired in the single digits. This roster includes Del. Lesley Lopez, Hagerstown Mayor Tekesha Martinez, and Montgomery County Councilmember Laurie-Anne Sayles.

The two most familiar names on the GOP side are former Dels. Dan Cox and Neil Parrott, who both lost high-profile elections in 2022. Cox, an election conspiracy theorist, was the party's disastrous nominee for governor, while Parrott lost to Trone by a 55-45 margin. Both men, though, brought in considerably less money than Navy veteran Tom Royals, who would give his party a comparatively fresh face.

• Baltimore Mayor (D) (87-11 Biden): First-term Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott faces a competitive primary battle against one of the most prominent and controversial figures in local politics, former Mayor Sheila Dixon.

Dixon resigned as mayor in 2010 after she was convicted of stealing gift cards that were supposed to help needy families, but she's retained a loyal base of support among voters who remember her as a leader who helped bring down the city's murder rate. Dixon came close to winning back her old post in the 2016 primary and again in 2020, when Scott narrowly beat her 30-27.

Scott himself has touted a drop in the homicide rate, but critics still argue he's done a poor job addressing crime. Those naysayers include Baltimore Sun co-owner David Smith, a prominent conservative who has financed a super PAC that's labeled Scott a "nice guy, bad mayor."

The incumbent has enjoyed a sizable fundraising advantage over Dixon, though his lead in two April polls that showed him ahead by single-digit margins was less decisive. There haven't been any more recent surveys, though, in a contest that's been overshadowed by the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Eleven others are on the ballot, including former federal prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah, who dropped out and endorsed Dixon in early May. Scott and Dixon, however, are the only serious contenders. Winning the Democratic primary has long been tantamount to election in this loyally blue city, and that remains the case in 2024.

Nebraska

Polls close at 9 PM ET. While Nebraska is split between the Central and Mountain time zones, polls close in the entire state at the same time.

• NE-02 (R) (52-46 Biden): Both parties are preparing for a competitive rematch between Republican Rep. Don Bacon and Democratic state Sen. Tony Vargas two years after Bacon's 51-49 victory, but the congressman first must dispatch a far-right candidate from yesteryear.

Businessman Dan Frei campaigned against then-Rep. Lee Terry in 2014 for the previous version of this Omaha-based seat and held that incumbent to a shockingly close 53-47 victory. Many Republicans still blame Frei for Terry's defeat that fall, so his decision to take on Bacon left his detractors with some uncomfortable déjà vu.

Bacon, though, has tried to dispel worries of a repeat by releasing a pair of surveys showing him easily defeating Frei, who has acknowledged he doesn't have the money to pay for his own polls. Trump, despite his past feuds with Bacon, has not backed Frei.

Alaska

Polls close at 12:00 AM ET Wednesday / 8 PM Tuesday local time.

• Anchorage, AK Mayor (49-48 Biden): Far-right Mayor Dave Bronson faces a difficult reelection battle against former Anchorage Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance, an independent who has the support of the local Democratic Party. The winner of this officially nonpartisan election will serve a three-year term, as Anchorage is the rare major American city where terms last an odd number of years.

LaFrance, whose previous role made her the leader of the local equivalent of a city council, led Bronson 36-35 in the first round of voting on April 2. Former Anchorage Economic Development Corp. CEO Bill Popp, an independent who took third with 17%, went on to endorse LaFrance for the second round. However, former Democratic state Rep. Chris Tuck, who took 8%, has remained neutral.

LaFrance, who has outraised Bronson, has argued he's been an "incompetent" and divisive leader who's done a poor job addressing issues like homelessness and snow removal. The mayor has hit back by arguing that, with progressives already in charge of the city's governing body, "our ultra-woke Assembly will have a rubber stamp at City Hall" if he's not reelected.

Can you go home again? GOP congresswoman hoping to un-retire is about to find out

The downballot primary season comes to Indiana on Tuesday, where Republicans have expensive and nasty nomination contests to sort through for governor and a quartet of U.S. House seats—including one race where a mercurial congresswoman is about to discover whether it's possible to un-retire a year after calling it quits.

Below you'll find our guide to the key primaries to watch. When it’s available, we'll tell you about any reliable polling that exists for each race, but if we don't mention any numbers, it means no recent surveys have been made public. 

To help you follow along, you can find an interactive map from Dave's Redistricting App of the Hoosier State's nine congressional districts. You also can find Daily Kos Elections' calculations of the 2020 presidential results for each district, as well as our geographic descriptions of each seat. And you'll want to bookmark our primary calendar, which includes the dates for primaries in all 50 states.

We'll begin our liveblog at Daily Kos Elections at 6 PM ET. That's when polls close in the part of Indiana located in the Eastern time zone, which is home to over 80% of the state's residents. Polls close an hour later in the remaining portion of the state based in the Central time zone.

• IN-Gov (R) (57-41 Trump): Six Republicans are on the ballot to replace termed-out GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb, but one of them has been the dominant frontrunner throughout the entire primary. Sen. Mike Braun began the contest with a significant advantage in name recognition, and Donald Trump gave him another boost by endorsing him in November.

The senator's rivals, though, are hoping he's not as formidable as he appears. A pair of wealthy businessmen, former state Commerce Secretary Brad Chambers and former Indiana Economic Development Corporation president Eric Doden, have poured millions of their own money into ads promoting themselves and attacking Braun. Another Republican, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, is also in the hunt, but she hasn't had access to the same resources.

However, a pair of polls conducted in late March and early April showed Braun far ahead of the rest of the field with Chambers, Crouch, and Doden all struggling to emerge as his main rival, much less beat him. Two other candidates, disgraced former Attorney General Curtis Hill and conservative activist Jamie Reitenour, are also running, but they've struggled to raise money or attract support.

The winner will go up against former Superintendent of Public Institution Jennifer McCormick, a one-time Republican who is uncontested in the Democratic primary.

• IN-03 (R) (64-34 Trump): Rep. Jim Banks has no opposition in the GOP primary to replace Braun in the Senate, but Republicans have an eight-way fight to replace Banks in his Fort Wayne-area district. The main four contenders are former Rep. Marlin Stutzman, who is Banks' immediate predecessor; former Judge Wendy Davis (no, not that Wendy Davis); wealthy businessman Tim Smith; and state Sen. Andy Zay.

Stutzman, who among other things participated in the push to oust John Boehner as speaker in 2015, was one of leadership's least-favorite members during his previous stint in office, and GOP honchos weren't sad when he badly lost a Senate primary the following year to fellow Rep. Todd Young.

His detractors still don't want him returning to Congress, though. America Leads Action, a super PAC dedicated to defeating hardliners who could make trouble for the current crop of House leaders, has spent $1.8 million to stop his comeback.

Anti-establishment hardliners, though, are working to counteract ALA's offensive. Stutzman has benefited from close to $800,000 in support from Protect Freedom PAC, a group allied with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, as well as from super PACs affiliated with the House Freedom Caucus, which once counted Stutzman as a member. The like-minded Club for Growth, which was close to Stutzman during his first stint in office, has also deployed more than $750,000 attacking Davis and Smith.

Davis, meanwhile, has benefited from around $1.1 million that Winning for Women, a super PAC dedicated to electing conservative women, has spent on her behalf. Smith, who badly lost the 2019 race for mayor of Fort Wayne, hasn't gotten any outside help, but he's used his wealth to outspend all of his rivals' campaigns.

Zay, finally, has mostly gone ignored, except for some $120,000 that a super PAC called Honest Hoosiers has expended to help him.

• IN-05 (R) (57-41 Trump): Rep. Victoria Spartz announced her retirement from Congress in January of 2023 only to reverse herself 13 months later by launching a bid for a third term. But while she was off in the wilderness, other Republicans charged in to succeed her, and now she faces an expensive primary battle to keep her seat in central Indiana.

Spartz's main intra-party foe is state Rep. Chuck Goodrich, a wealthy businessman who launched his campaign for what was at the time an open seat and wasn't deterred by the incumbent's reversal. Seven other Republicans are also running, though, including former Kevin McCarthy aide Max Engling and businessman Raju Chinthala, so their presence could help Spartz win renomination with a plurality.

Goodrich has pumped $4.6 million of his own money into his campaign, and he's aired ads hitting the congresswoman for her many about-faces while in office. The state representative has aired commercials charging that Spartz, who is a Ukrainian immigrant, "put Ukraine first"—a message he stuck with even after her vote against the most recent round of aid to the country where she was born. Goodrich has also taken Spartz to task over a 2022 Politico story alleging that she bullied her staff.

Spartz, who relaunched her campaign just three months before the primary, has considerably less money than Goodrich, though she's self-funded $700,000 to finance her cause. The congresswoman has aired commercials touting herself as a Trump ally while arguing that Goodrich has cast votes that benefited China. A late March Goodrich internal showed him trailing Spartz by a small 33-30 margin, but no one has released any data since then.

• IN-06 (R) (65-33 Trump): Seven Republicans are campaigning to replace retiring GOP Rep. Greg Pence, who is the brother of Mike Pence, in a constituency that includes a portion of Indianapolis as well as part of east-central Indiana.

The best-funded candidate by far is wealthy businessman Jefferson Shreve, who has poured $5.6 million of his own money into his campaign just months after throwing down more than twice that sum on a failed bid for mayor of Indianapolis. Only about 30% of Pence's constituents live in Indiana's capital city, though, so most voters didn't have the chance to cast ballots for—or against—Shreve last November.

State Rep. Mike Speedy, meanwhile, has dumped $1.5 million of his fortune into his own effort, and while that's not anywhere close to what Shreve's deployed, Speedy is hoping it's still enough to get his message out. The lawmaker has aired ads attacking Shreve for campaigning as a moderate in his unsuccessful campaign to unseat Democratic Mayor Joe Hogsett last year.

The contest also features a third self-funder, businessman Jamison Carrier, who has thrown down $750,000 of his money. The GOP field further includes state Sen. Jeff Raatz, who has struggled to keep up with this financial onslaught, as well as three other hopefuls.

• IN-08 (R) (65-33 Trump): Rep. Larry Bucshon is retiring from a once-competitive southwestern Indiana seat that turned dark red during the previous decade. Now eight of his fellow Republicans want to succeed him.

Perhaps the most familiar name belongs to former Rep. John Hostettler, who badly lost his 2006 bid for a seventh term back when this constituency was still nicknamed the "Bloody 8th" due to its propensity to change hands. While Hostettler hasn't been on the ballot since he took a distant third place in a 2010 Senate primary, his existing name recognition, as well as his son's position as a local state representative, could help him win despite his meager fundraising.

An array of outside groups, however, want to keep that from happening. America Leads Action remembers how difficult Hostettler was for his party's leaders during his previous time in office, while both the hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC and the Republican Jewish Coalition resent both the former congressman's voting record and his attempt to blame Jews for the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq. Hostettler has continued to employ antisemitic rhetoric during his comeback effort.

This trio of third-party outfits has deployed a total of $4 million to attack Hostettler and promote one of his opponents, state Sen. Mark Messmer, who has also received close to another $1 million in help from another collection of super PACs. Hostettler, however, isn't being left to fend for himself, as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's Protect Freedom PAC and another organization affiliated with Senate frontrunner Jim Banks have expended around $800,000 to aid him.

The field also includes a pair of self-funders, former Trump staffer Dominick Kavanaugh and physician Richard Moss, who haven't attracted much attention from outside groups. Moss badly lost primaries to Bucshon in both 2016 and 2018, while yet another candidate, Owen County party chair ​​Kristi Risk, campaigned against the outgoing congressman in previous cycles.

Morning Digest: Why some rich GOP donors don’t want two ex-congressman making comebacks

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

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Leading Off

Primary Night: Indiana on Tuesday plays host to a busy downballot primary night, and as always, Jeff Singer has put together an in-depth look at what to watch.

One of the most-watched races will take place in the central part of the state as no-longer-retiring Rep. Victoria Spartz tries to hold off self-funding state Rep. Chuck Goodrich in the GOP primary for the 5th District. But seven other candidates are also on the ballot, so their presence could help Spartz win the plurality she needs to avoid an involuntary retirement.

If Goodrich manages to get past Spartz, though, she'd be just the second House incumbent to lose renomination this cycle. Currently, the sole member of this unhappy group is Alabama Republican Jerry Carl, who lost an incumbent vs. incumbent primary two months ago after redistricting transformed his state's congressional map.

Meanwhile, two former House members―Marlin Stutzman and John Hostettler―are waging comeback bids for open seats on opposite ends of the state. Both men lost the 2010 Senate primary to eventual winner Dan Coats, but this time, they have a similar set of allies and enemies.

Some wealthy donors haven't forgotten how both Stutzman and Hostettler caused trouble for their party's leaders during their first stints in Congress and are hoping to make sure they don't get a second chance to cause chaos. However, one well-known senator from a neighboring state is working to help the two ex-congressmen advance through nasty and expensive primaries.

Check out our preview for much more on these contests and more. We'll be liveblogging all of these races at Daily Kos Elections on Tuesday night, starting when polls close in most of Indiana at 6 PM ET. Join us for our complete coverage!

Senate

MD-Sen: With just a week to go before Maryland's primaries, EMILYs List has come in with a major ad buy to boost Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks past Rep. David Trone for the Democratic nomination for Senate.

According to reports filed with the FEC, EMILYs is spending $1.6 million to air this ad on television and digital platforms, which makes this by far the largest outlay by a third-party group—though still just a fraction of what Trone has put in.

EMILYs' opening spot, which was obtained by Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin, hammers Trone "and his companies" for $500,000 in past donations to "extreme and MAGA Republicans to win their elections."

While the narrator doesn't mention any candidates by name, she specifically calls out Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, saying "the Trump-loving governor signed an abortion ban with no exceptions for rape and incest." She also references former Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, noting the state Supreme Court's recent ruling that revived the state's 1864 abortion ban.

The ad goes on to reference a Washington Post article on Trone's history of giving to GOP candidates that was published shortly after he launched his first bid for the House in 2016. Trone, the wealthy founder of the alcoholic beverage chain Total Wine, was blunt in explaining his donations in that piece.

"I sign my checks to buy access," he told reporter Bill Turque. That quote is displayed on-screen as the narrator emphasizes it. In his interview with Turque, Trone added, "We disagree categorically with their political positions on everything social and economic." He responded to the new attack by arguing that EMILY is supported by a Republican donor.

In recent weeks, Trone dumped another $12 million into his own coffers, bringing his total self-funding to $54 million. That puts him second all-time among Senate candidates behind only Florida Republican Rick Scott, who spent $63 million on his successful 2018 bid. Trone, however, has self-funded more in a primary than anyone else on record.

MI-Sen: Self-funding businessman Sandy Pensler has launched his first negative ad in the Republican primary, attacking former Rep. Mike Rogers. Pensler's spot recycles a bogus GOP talking point from yesteryear to ... blame Hillary Clinton for the deaths of Americans in the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. The narrator claims that Rogers, who chaired the House Intelligence Committee from 2011 to 2015, "covered for Hillary then and covers for her now."

VT-Sen: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, announced on Monday that he'd seek a fourth term.

Sanders, 82, is unlikely to face any serious opposition as he's won his three previous campaigns with at least 65% of the vote. Sanders has also always easily prevailed in the Democratic primary before officially declining the nomination, a move that's allowed him to run in the general election without either a party label or a nominal Democratic opponent.

Sanders is the last incumbent senator up for reelection this year to confirm his plans except for New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez, who goes on trial for federal corruption charges next week. Menendez declined to participate in the Democratic primary but has said he might run again as an independent.

Sanders was also one of two prominent Vermont incumbents who had yet to reveal if he'd run again in 2024. Local politicos are still waiting for GOP Gov. Phil Scott to announce his plans, though the VT Digger recently reported that he's "widely expected" to seek another two-year term. The filing deadline is May 30 for major-party candidates and Aug. 1 for independents.

WV-Sen: Research America finds Gov. Jim Justice demolishing Rep. Alex Mooney in a 67-23 landslide in its newest poll of next week's Republican Senate primary. But Mooney's prospects were dire even before the publication of this survey, which was conducted for MetroNews and a health insurance provider called The Health Plan, something even his biggest ally has now openly acknowledged.

Club for Growth head David McIntosh tells Politico's Burgess Everett that, while he still believes Mooney is the best choice for Republicans, Donald Trump's decision to endorse Justice in October meant "there wasn't a viable path forward" for the congressman.

The Club's pessimism has long been plain: Everett reports that, according to data from AdImpact, the organization has only spent $1.8 million of the $10 million it publicly promised to expend on Mooney's behalf a year ago.

Governors

DE-Gov: State House Minority Leader Mike Ramone announced Monday that he was seeking the Republican nomination for governor, prompting state GOP chair Julianne Murray to respond by ending her own brief campaign. Ramone is campaigning for an office that Republicans last won in 1988.

NJ-Gov: Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller hasn't entered the 2025 Democratic primary for governor just yet, but a nonprofit he runs called Protecting Our Democracy has begun spending $500,000 on a TV ad that suggests he might do so soon. The spot features Spiller extolling the benefits of democracy, calling it the foundation for "how we create solutions" for issues like investing in education, infrastructure, and housing affordability.

In addition to being mayor of a suburb of 40,000 residents near Newark, Spiller is president of the New Jersey Education Association, which the New Jersey Globe's David Wildstein says is "the state's largest public employee union." Spiller previously opted not to seek reelection in 2024.

UT-Gov: State Rep. Philip Lyman announced Saturday that attorney Natalie Clawson would be his new running mate for the June 25 GOP primary, a move that came one day after a state judge ruled that Lyman's original pick, former Trump administration official Layne Bangerter, did not meet Utah's residency requirements. The new Lyman-Clawson ticket is hoping to deny renomination to Gov. Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson.

House

CO-05: Retiring Rep. Doug Lamborn endorsed conservative radio host Jeff Crank on Monday in the June 25 Republican primary to replace him, a move that once would have seemed unthinkable given the nasty battles the pair went through in both 2006 and 2008.

But Lamborn has his own ugly—and far more recent—history with Crank's only intra-party foe, state GOP chair Dave Williams, who tried to unseat Lamborn just two years ago. Crank, meanwhile, sought to play down his past run-ins with the incumbent.

"We were primary foes 18 years ago, but Congressman Doug Lamborn and I became friends and joined forces to support our community," he tweeted.

NJ-10: Newark City Council President LaMonica McIver became the first major candidate to enter the July 16 special Democratic primary to succeed the late Democratic Rep. Don Payne, launching her bid on Monday with an endorsement from Newark Mayor Ras Baraka.

The New Jersey Globe's David Wildstein also reports that two other powerful figures in Essex County, County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo and party chair LeRoy Jones, agreed to back McIver on Friday. Essex County, which includes Newark, forms 58% of the safely blue 10th District; the balance is split between Hudson and Union counties.

Wildstein adds that Darryl Godfrey, who is the chief operations officer of the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority, is considering running and that a "formal announcement [is] expected to come within the next few days." Pastor Ronald Slaughter, however, said he was supporting McIver rather than running himself. The candidate filing deadline is Friday, so any potential contenders have only a short window to decide.

OR-05: With just two weeks to go before Oregon's primaries, the Democratic primary to take on GOP Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer in the swingy 5th Congressional District has turned into a negative affair.

Mainstream Democrats PAC, a group funded by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, is spending at least $750,000 to air a new ad attacking attorney Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who was the Democratic nominee in 2022. The spot focuses on reports that she mistreated her staff during previous bids for office and as the city manager for the small community of Phoenix.

"Fired by City Council for creating a toxic work environment, then five former campaign staffers described her as a 'nightmarish boss,'" says a narrator. "McLeod-Skinner's driver texted, 'I'm scared she's gonna hit me.'" The spot ends by praising state Rep. Janelle Bynum as someone who will "fight to restore abortion rights and restore decency to politics."

McLeod-Skinner is firing back with an attack ad of her own, claiming that Bynum "voted to cut teacher pensions" and says that in the legislature "she was the only vote against giving rape survivors more time to seek justice against their rapists." Regarding the latter vote, Bynum argued at the time, "It's not popular to protect the accused but it is our job."

The voice-over then says that McLeod-Skinner will "ban politicians from stock trading and "[s]tand up to anyone who'd outlaw abortion." There's no word on how much McLeod-Skinner is spending, though new fundraising reports due Thursday night will give us more insight into each campaign's finances.

TX-23: Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales is continuing his TV ad offensive against gun maker Brandon Herrera with a spot portraying his intra-party challenger as hostile to Trumps—yes, plural.

The ad utilizes footage from last year of Herrera saying that Donald Trump "messed up a lot of stuff" and predicting that he'd "win the primary by a landslide and lose the general" in 2024. The commercial then makes use of a March story from the Daily Beast detailing how Herrera mocked 18-year-old Barron Trump, complete with video of the candidate saying, "Daddy is coming, Daddy is angry."

Gonzales and Herrera face off in the May 28 GOP runoff, a contest that the elder Trump has not waded into.

WA-04: 2022 GOP Senate nominee Tiffany Smiley unexpectedly announced Monday that she would wage an intra-party challenge against Rep. Dan Newhouse, who voted to impeach Donald Trump following the Jan. 6 riot. Smiley launched her surprise effort a little more than two weeks after Trump himself endorsed a different challenger, former NASCAR driver Jerrod Sessler, in the Aug. 6 top-two primary for Washington's conservative 4th District.

Newhouse himself on Monday made it clear he would seek a sixth term despite what the Seattle Times' Jim Brunner characterized in February as "rampant speculation" he'd retire. The incumbent both filed with the state and issued a statement announcing his reelection campaign while also faulting Smiley for racking up $1 million in campaign debt last cycle.

Smiley, a former nurse and motivational speaker, challenged Democratic Sen. Patty Murray in 2022 and attracted the attention of donors who believed a red wave could carry her to an upset. Smiley ultimately raised $20 million for a quest that, according to several conservative pollsters, had a real chance to succeed in an otherwise blue state.

However, while those GOP firms drowned out numbers from Democrats and non-aligned pollsters showing Murray well ahead, they didn't alter reality. Murray prevailed 57-43 against Smiley, who took to conservative media a few months later to announce that she was forming a new PAC to aid "political outsiders." Brunner reported months later that donations to the group were directed toward paying off the Republican's campaign debt.

Newhouse's 4th District, which is based in the central part of the state, favored Trump 57-40 in 2020; Smiley, according to data calculated by the state, carried it 66-34 two years later. However, it remains to be seen whether Democrats will field a single candidate who would have a strong shot to claim one of the two general election spots, which is what happened in 2022, or if the Democratic field will be split enough for two Republicans to advance. The candidate filing deadline is Friday.

WV-02: Politico highlights that Defend American Jobs, a super PAC with ties to the crypto industry, is spending at least $725,000 on a late ad buy to promote state Treasurer Riley Moore ahead of next week's Republican primary. This is the first major independent expenditure for the race to succeed Senate candidate Alex Mooney, who supports Moore, in West Virginia's 2nd District.

Moore, the grandson of the late Gov. Arch Moore and the nephew of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, is the frontrunner in the five-way primary for this safely red seat in the northern half of the state. (His cousin, former Del. Moore Capito, is taking part in the GOP primary for governor that same day.) However, at least one of Moore's intra-party opponents may be able to put up a fight on May 14.

Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Chris Walker launched his campaign in January, a kickoff that came well after Moore's entry in November of 2022. Walker, though, hauled in $620,000 from donors through April 24, a notable sum in a relatively short amount of time, while he self-funded another $70,000.

Moore, who had a 14-month head start, took in about $1 million during the entire campaign, but he enjoyed a big $400,000 to $100,000 cash advantage over Walker at the end of the most recent reporting period. A trio of other Republicans are also running, though, and their presence could make it tougher for Walker, who would be West Virginia's first Black member of Congress, to get past Moore.

Attorneys General

VA-AG: Democrat Steve Descano, the top prosecutor in Northern Virginia's populous Fairfax County, has opted against running for state attorney general next year and instead gave his endorsement to former Del. Jay Jones on Monday.

Jones himself has not announced a bid, but Virginia Scope's Brandon Jarvis says that "sources close to" the ex-lawmaker "say he will be running." Jones, who would be Virginia's first Black attorney general, challenged Democratic incumbent Mark Herring in the 2021 primary but lost 57-43. Herring in turn fell to Republican Jason Miyares that November in a nailbiter, losing his bid for a third term by a margin of 50.4 to 49.6.

Miyares is a potential candidate for governor in 2025, but he has not confirmed his plans and could seek reelection. Only one other Democratic name has surfaced so far as a possibility for the attorney general's race, Shannon Taylor, who is the prosecutor for Henrico County in the Richmond suburbs. Taylor had considered a bid in 2021 but opted out after Herring said he'd run again. She has yet to say anything publicly about next year's contest.

Poll Pile

  • CA-27: Impact Research (D) for George Whitesides: George Whitesides (D): 47, Mike Garcia (R-inc): 44

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Morning Digest: Florida Republican colludes with preferred successor to hand off House seat

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

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Leading Off

FL-08: Republican Rep. Bill Posey essentially handed off his House seat to former state Senate President Mike Haridopolos on Friday when the eight-term incumbent unexpectedly announced his retirement and endorsement shortly after candidate filing closed in Florida. Haridopolos hasn't sought public office since his disastrous U.S. Senate bid ended prematurely 13 years ago, but he's now on a glide path to Congress.  

Posey, who filed to run again on April 9, said he was ending his campaign after it was too late for anyone else to run because of unspecified "circumstances beyond my control." He also acknowledged he'd previously discussed his decision with Haridopolos, who filed to run only an hour before the deadline, claiming the "stars aligned during the past week and Mike decided he was ready for Congress."

Donald Trump carried the 8th District, which is based in the Cape Canaveral area, by a comfortable 58-41 margin, so the winner of the Aug. 20 GOP primary should have no trouble claiming this seat in the fall. Apart from Haridopolos, the only two Republicans running are a pair of candidates who were waging little-noticed challenges to Posey, businessman John Hearton and attorney Joe Babits.

Both Hearton and Babits had done some self-funding when they expected to be running against Posey, but it remains to be seen if they can throw down enough to give Haridopolos a hard time. Hearton loaned his campaign $140,000 and had $100,000 on hand at the end of last month, while Babits had invested $82,000 in his own effort but had just $13,000 left over. Neither had raised a meaningful sum from donors.

By conspiring with Posey, Haridopolos prevented anyone stronger from entering the race, even though an open seat would likely have attracted other established politicians. While the Sunshine State allows candidates to get on the primary ballot by collecting signatures, they can avoid this time-consuming process by paying a $10,400 fee. That allows anyone who has the money to submit their names right as the clock expires, an option Haridopolos readily took advantage of on Friday.

A few states have laws in place that try to prevent this sort of collusion. In Nebraska, for example, all incumbents are required to file two weeks before everyone else, even if they're running for a different office than the one they currently hold.

California, meanwhile, automatically extends the candidate filing deadline by five days in races where an incumbent chooses not to run for reelection. And Missouri reopens its filing period in contests where any candidate, incumbent or otherwise, withdraws within two business days of the original deadline.

Florida, though, has no such preventive measures, which is why we've seen this kind of maneuver before. Another Republican, Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, took advantage of this loophole in 2010 when she announced on the final day of candidate filing that she was abandoning her reelection campaign for health reasons and said that Hernando County Sheriff Rich Nugent would run in her place. The swap worked, and Nugent easily won three terms before retiring―albeit long before the 2016 filing deadline.

However, Haridopolos' detractors may have some hope that if one of his intra-party opponents can get organized, his comeback bid will go as well as his last effort to enter Congress.

Haridopolos was serving as leader of the state Senate in early 2011 when he launched a campaign to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and initially looked like a frontrunner. Those impressions were solidified when he hauled in a hefty $2.6 million during his opening quarter, which was more than the incumbent brought in.

However, what followed was a campaign that the Miami Herald would summarize months later with the headline, "Anatomy of a meltdown: How Mike Haridopolos U.S. Senate campaign fell apart and ended." (The full article isn't online anymore, but attorney Nicholas Warren posted a copy of the print edition.)

In particular, Haridopolos was harmed by his connections to former state party chair Jim Greer, who would eventually plead guilty to theft and money laundering. The state Senate leader also attracted negative publicity over a book deal that awarded him $150,000 in public funds to write a college textbook on government that resulted in just a single copy getting produced.

Haridopolos made many more mistakes during his campaign, including taking three tries to explain how he stood on Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's unpopular plan to cut Medicare. His decision to come out in opposition did not help his standing with tea party activists who already resented how what had been hyped as "the most conservative" state Senate in state history failed to pass anti-immigration laws modeled after the hardline provisions Arizona had put into place the previous year. 

Haridopolos' bid was further beset by infighting and staff shakeups. His vaunted fundraising also plummeted in the second quarter, with observers noting that, while the special interests who had business before the legislature were initially eager to contribute, they had no reason to keep doing so once the body adjourned.

Haridopolos pulled the plug on his doomed effort in July, though things didn't go any better for his party after he dropped out. Rep. Connie Mack IV eventually ran and secured the nomination only to lose to Nelson 55-42

After leaving the legislature the following year, Haridopolos occasionally mulled a comeback, but he decided not to campaign for an open state Senate seat in 2016. Instead, he became a lobbyist and spent the next decade using leftover money from his failed bid against Nelson to boost a pro-Trump super PAC, legislative candidates, and other entities such as the state GOP. He eventually terminated his campaign in 2022, more than a decade after he'd ceased running.

Posey, for his part, easily won a promotion from the state Senate to Congress in 2008 when GOP Rep. Dave Weldon retired—though unlike Posey, Weldon announced his departure well in advance of the filing deadline. (Weldon lost the 2012 Senate primary to Mack, but he's now campaigning for a seat in the state House.)

Posey made national news early in his first term when he introduced a bill to require presidential candidates to submit a copy of their birth certificate. The congressman unconvincingly denied that his proposal, which critics quickly dubbed the "birther" bill, was targeted at President Barack Obama. But Posey never struggled to hold his seat and remained an ardent hardliner throughout his tenure, though he was soon overshadowed by louder voices like fellow Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Senate

UT-Sen: The Republican field to succeed Utah Sen. Mitt Romney shrunk from 10 candidates to four over the weekend when convention delegates overwhelmingly backed Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs, who received Donald Trump's endorsement hours before the event began.

"Let’s replace Joe Biden’s favorite Republican with Donald Trump’s favorite Republican in Utah," Staggs told the crowd, and the room full of hardline delegates eagerly responded to his pitch.   

Staggs earned 70% of the vote on the fourth and final round of voting, which gives him a spot on the June 25 primary ballot. The Deseret News writes that, because the mayor exceeded 60%, he also gets access to the state GOP's "resources and organization."

Rep. John Curtis was a distant second with 30%, but, because he turned in the requisite 28,000 signatures, he was guaranteed a place in the primary no matter how the convention went. The same was also true for two other Republicans, former state House Speaker Brad Wilson and businessman Jason Walton. The eventual nominee will be the favorite in November in this dark red state.

Staggs, by contrast, was one of seven Republicans who didn’t collect signatures and therefore needed to secure the support of at least 40% of the delegates to continue his campaign. In the end, he was the only contender to come anywhere close to hitting that threshold. Conservative activist Carolyn Phippen, attorney Brent Orrin Hatch, and four minor candidates were not so fortunate, so their campaigns are now over.

The development was a particularly big blow for allies of Hatch, who is the son and namesake of the late Sen. Orrin Hatch. The younger Hatch, who served as treasurer of the right-wing Federalist Society, benefited from $1.8 million in outside spending from a group funded by the Club for Growth and spent a sizable sum himself. But Hatch learned Thursday evening that he had failed to turn in enough signatures to survive a convention loss, which is exactly how things turned out for him when he took less than 2% of the vote.

By contrast, Staggs, who began running as a hard-right alternative to Romney months before the incumbent announced his retirement, has raised by far the least of any of the four candidates who will be on the June ballot. However, his support from Trump, who extolled him as "100% MAGA," could help him overcome his fundraising difficulties.

Wilson, meanwhile, has led the pack financially in large part to about $3 million in self-funding. The former speaker has touted his work passing conservative legislation, though unlike most candidates in the Trump-era GOP, he's pledged to work with members of Congress from both parties who "also care about this country’s future and want to solve some of the biggest problems."

Curtis has raised by far the most from donors, though he's already benefited from more than $3 million in support from a super PAC funded by North Carolina businessman Jay Faison. Curtis, a one-time Democrat who has at times criticized GOP extremists and called for protecting the environment, comes closest in temperament to the outgoing incumbent, though Romney himself has not taken sides.

Finally, Walton, who is CEO of a pest control company, has self-financed his campaign almost as much as Wilson, putting in at least $2.5 million. Walton has promoted himself as an ally of Utah's other member of the upper chamber, far-right Sen. Mike Lee, though Lee has yet to make an endorsement in this contest.

Utah’s Senate contest was the final race that delegates voted on after a nearly 17-hour convention that stretched well into the wee hours of Sunday morning. ("This is officially the longest I've ever been at any political convention, and I've been coming to these things since 2001," Bryan Schott from the Salt Lake Tribune posted on social media with an hour still to go.) See below for recaps of the action in the state’s races for governor and the House.

Governors

UT-Gov: State Rep. Phil Lyman beat Gov. Spencer Cox 68-32 on the convention floor, but the governor had already earned a spot in the June 25 GOP primary by turning in signatures. That was not the case for former state GOP chair Carson Jorgensen and two little-known contenders, who are now done.

"Maybe you hate that I don’t hate enough," Cox told his detractors in a convention speech, but he has reason to be optimistic that the primary electorate will be more charitable than delegates. Back in 2016, another sitting governor, Gary Herbert, lost at the convention by a 55-44 margin against businessman Jonathan Johnson only to win the primary in a 72-28 landslide two months later. Cox, incidentally, was Herbert's running mate that year (candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run together as a ticket in both the primary and general elections).

Lyman, meanwhile, may have some issues with his own pick for lieutenant governor. The state representative announced the day of the convention that he'd chosen former Trump administration official Layne Bangerter to be his number-two, but while Bangerter grew up in Utah, he says he only moved back to the state from Idaho in 2021. That's a potential problem because, as the Salt Lake Tribune notes, the state constitution requires candidates for both governor and lieutenant governor to have been Utah residents "for five years next preceding the election."

Lyman responded by downplaying the issue. "I won’t be surprised if it’s challenged. I hope it’s not, but if it is, I think we’ll win it," he told the Tribune. "I’ve talked to a number of attorneys over the last few days. That was a huge concern right up front."

Lyman, for his part, ran afoul of federal law in 2015 when, as a San Juan County commissioner, he was convicted after leading an all-terrain vehicle group through a canyon the federal government had closed to protect Native American cliff dwellings. Prosecutors alleged that he recruited people who had recently taken part in far-right militant Cliven Bundy's armed standoff with federal law enforcement officials.

Lyman spent 10 days in prison, though Trump later pardoned him in late 2020. Lyman has since made a name for himself by advancing lies about the 2020 and 2022 elections.

He also attracted national attention following the collapse of Maryland’s Francis Scott Key Bridge when he retweeted a post claiming that a Black woman on the state’s Port Commission was a "diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) auditor and consultant."

"This is what happens when you have governors who prioritize diversity over the wellbeing and security of citizens," Lyman said. He told the Tribune that the tweet, as well as a follow-up saying, "DEI=DIE," came from a staffer without his approval. However, Lyman refused to apologize, and the first missive was still up more than a month later.

As of mid-April, Herbert enjoyed a $990,000 to $638,000 cash advantage over Lyman. Most of the challenger's funds came from a mysterious new company that appears to be connected to his family and a large loan from a former Texas congressional candidate named Johnny Slavens.

WV-Gov: Allies of former Del. Moore Capito at the Coalition for West Virginia's Future have released a new poll from NMB Research showing Capito with a 31-23 lead over state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey ahead of the May 14 GOP primary for governor. That makes this the first poll released all year to give top honors to Capito, who recently earned an endorsement from term-limited Gov. Jim Justice.

The survey also finds businessman Chris Miller and Secretary of State Mac Warner far behind at 14 and 13 respectively, while another 18% are undecided. For much of the race, Morrisey's buddies at the Club for Growth had treated Miller as their top threat, but earlier this month, the Club also began training its fire on Capito.

The campaign has descended into an ugly contest in which each candidate has sought to prove they're the most transphobic. The winner will be the overwhelming favorite to succeed Justice in November.

House

FL-15, FL-20: Freshman GOP Rep. Laurel Lee and Democratic Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick both got some welcome news Friday when, despite intense speculation to the contrary, no big names filed to challenge either incumbent.

However, while Cherfilus-McCormick is unopposed in both the primary and general elections for her dark blue 20th District in South Florida, Lee still could face a tough battle to hold her light red 15th District in the Tampa area.

Lee infuriated Donald Trump last year when she became the only member of Florida's congressional delegation to support Gov. Ron DeSantis' doomed presidential bid, but only two failed House candidates answered his call last month for "great MAGA Republicans" looking to beat Lee to “PLEASE STEP FORWARD!” 

One of these contenders is businessman James Judge, who ran against Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor in 2022 in the solidly blue 14th District next door and predictably lost 57-43. This cycle, Judge had been waging another longshot bid, this time against GOP Rep. Gus Bilirakis in the neighboring 12th District, and ended March with just $27,000 in the bank

Earlier this month, though, Judge announced he would heed Trump's plea and campaign for a third House seat by going after Lee. Judge, however, lives in Dade City back in the 12th, though House members don't need to reside in the district they represent.

But Judge, unlike Lee's other intra-party foe, can at least say he ran as a Florida Republican. Jennifer Barbosa, who only set up a fundraising account with the FEC on April 23, challenged California Rep. Adam Schiff in 2020—and did so as an independent. That campaign ended with her taking a distant fourth place in the top-two primary with less than 6% of the vote

Another Republican, Navy veteran Brian Perras, did not file by Friday even though he announced he was in earlier this month. 

Despite Judge's and Barbosa's unimpressive campaign histories, however, it's possible Trump hates Lee enough to give one of her opponents a boost by rewarding them with his endorsement. That would probably be fine with Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp, who has no Democratic primary opposition as she tries to flip a seat Trump took by a modest 51-48 margin in 2020

Cherfilus-McCormick, by contrast, learned Friday she wouldn't have to get past 2 Live Crew rapper Luther Campbell in what would likely have turned into one of the most attention-grabbing primaries in America.

"It’s gonna be very hard for me not to run," Campbell said in a video on April 9, and speculation only intensified when he set up an FEC account on Tuesday. 

But while Campbell promised an announcement at 11 AM Friday, he was silent until after filing closed an hour later without his name on the ballot. He put out a video later that day saying he'd decided to stay out of the contest. Campbell's brother, businessman Stanley Campbell, is waging an uphill battle for the U.S. Senate.

You can find a complete list of candidates who filed in Florida by Friday, though it doesn't include everyone running for office this year in the Sunshine State. That's because the deadline to run for the state legislature, county-level offices, and a few other posts is not until June 14.

Florida is now the 36th state where filing for the 2024 cycle has closed for major-party congressional candidates (the deadline for third-party and independent contenders is sometimes later), and it was by far the largest state left on the calendar. The most populous remaining state where candidates can still run for Congress is Washington, which closes on May 10. Filing closes in the final state, which as always is Louisiana, on July 19.

While there's still suspense about who will run in the 14 remaining states, the deadline for major-party contenders has now passed in 375 of the nation's 435 House seats—a full 86% of the chamber. Primaries have taken place in states with a combined 168 of those congressional districts, though there are still some runoffs pending in North Carolina and Texas.

KS-02: Former state Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who was the GOP's unsuccessful nominee for governor in 2022, jumped into the race for Kansas' newly open 2nd Congressional District on Friday.

Schmidt's entry came a day after Jeff Kahrs, who just stepped down as district director for retiring Republican Rep. Jake LaTurner, announced his own bid for his now-former boss' seat. A third Republican, businessman Shawn Tiffany, also kicked off a campaign on Thursday; Tiffany owns a cattle company and is a former head of the Kansas Livestock Association.

Kahrs and Tiffany don't appear to have run for office before, but Schmidt is a longtime fixture in Kansas politics. After a decade in the state Senate, Schmidt won three terms as attorney general beginning in 2010 and was often mentioned for higher office. But when he finally decided to run for governor, his campaign went poorly. Despite running in a red state in what should have been a good year for Republicans, Schmidt lost to Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly by a 50-47 margin.

He even managed to fall short in the 2nd District, which had supported Donald Trump by a wide 57-41 spread two years earlier: Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin says Kelly edged out Schmidt 49-48 in the district he's now seeking. As Rubashkin observes, that weak showing likely wouldn't translate into a federal race, but Schmidt's Republican opponents may not hesitate to call it out.

MD-03: Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin relays data from AdImpact showing that the United Democracy Project, which is an arm of the hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC, has now spent $3.5 million on the airwaves to boost state Sen. Sarah Elfreth in the May 14 Democratic primary for Maryland's open 3rd Congressional District.

Combined with her own spending, Elfreth has now aired 53% of all broadcast TV ads in the race, while retired Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn, who raised a monster $3.7 million in the first quarter of the year, has accounted for 37%. The remaining 10% of broadcast ads have been aired by state Sen. Clarence Lam, though these figures don't take into account other media, such as cable television or digital platforms.

MT-02: State Auditor Troy Downing has publicized an internal from Guidant Polling & Strategy that shows him beating former Rep. Denny Rehberg 38-26 in the June 4 GOP primary to succeed retiring Rep. Matt Rosendale, a fellow Republican.

Another 10% support Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen while 27% are undecided. The survey does not appear to have included any of the other six Republicans who filed for this dark red seat in the eastern part of the state, none of whom have brought in much money. This is the first poll we've seen since candidate filing closed last month

NC-13: Businessman Fred Von Cannon, who finished third with 17% in last month's primary, has endorsed former federal prosecutor Brad Knott in the May 14 GOP runoff for North Carolina's open 13th Congressional District. Attorney Kelly Daughtry led Knott 27-19 in the first round of voting, but Knott recently earned an even more important endorsement when Donald Trump weighed in on his behalf.

UT-01: GOP delegates backed electrician Paul Miller, who hasn't reported raising any money at all, by a 55-45 margin over Rep. Blake Moore.

Moore, who had collected enough signatures to advance no matter how the convention went, went through a similar experience last cycle against a different GOP foe. Retired intelligence officer Andrew Badger outpaced Moore 59-41 at the 2022 conclave, but the incumbent beat him 58-28 in the primary before easily securing reelection in the conservative 1st District.

UT-02: Freshman Rep. Celeste Maloy narrowly avoided a career-ending disaster at Saturday's convention when Green Beret veteran Colby Jenkins defeated her 57-43. Maloy, like Jenkins, did not collect signatures, so had she fallen below 40%, she would not have made the June 25 primary ballot.

Jenkins received an important endorsement shortly before the convention on Thursday when hardline Sen. Mike Lee announced his support. The Deseret News' Brigham Tomco notes that the senator has indicated he sided against Maloy because of her recent vote for the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which Lee bitterly opposed.

Maloy ended March with a $290,000 to $170,000 cash edge over Jenkins. Utah's 2nd District, which includes central and western Salt Lake City and southwestern Utah, backed Donald Trump 57-40 in 2020. 

UT-03: State Sen. Mike Kennedy triumphed 62-38 against Utah Young Republicans chairman Zac Wilson on the sixth and final round of convention balloting, which ensures Kennedy a spot in the June 25 GOP primary to replace Senate candidate John Curtis. Wilson was one of three Republicans whose campaigns ended Saturday, along with perennial candidate Lucky Bovo, former Senate aide Kathryn Dahlin, and former state Rep. Chris Herrod.

Kennedy, who lost the 2018 U.S. Senate primary to Mitt Romney, will compete against four Republicans who successfully collected the requisite 7,000 signatures to petition their way onto the ballot. (Kennedy himself successfully pursued a convention-only strategy.) His intra-party opponents are Roosevelt Mayor Rod Bird, state Auditor John Dougall, businessman Case Lawrence, and former Utah County party chair Stewart Peay.

Bird finished March with a wide $800,000 to $461,000 cash lead over Kennedy. Dougall was far back with $208,000, compared to $196,000 for Lawrence. The latter, though, has thrown down close to $1.3 million of his own money so far, so he may have access to more. Peay, finally, had just $109,000.

This could be an expensive battle, as Bird and Lawrence had each deployed over $1 million of their own money through March. Dougall and Kennedy respectively have self-funded $250,000 and $156,000. Donald Trump carried Utah's 3rd District, which includes the Provo area, the southeastern Salt Lake City suburbs, and rural southeastern Utah, 57-38.

WI-03: State Rep. Katrina Shankland announced Friday that she'd received the endorsement of the state AFL-CIO ahead of the Aug. 13 Democratic primary. Shankland faces businesswoman Rebecca Cooke, who was the runner-up in last cycle's primary, for the right to freshman GOP Rep. Derrick Van Orden in a southwestern Wisconsin constituency that Donald Trump took 51-47 in 2020.

There's no obvious frontrunner in this year's nomination contest, though Cooke finished the first quarter with more than twice as much money available as her intra-party rival. Cooke ended March with a $808,000 to $357,000 cash advantage over Shankland; Van Orden, who has no notable GOP primary opposition, had $1.9 million at his disposal.

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Morning Digest: A new Democratic recruit could put an unexpected GOP seat in play

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

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Leading Off

WI-01: Peter Barca, a Democrat with a long history in Wisconsin politics, announced Thursday that he would challenge Republican Rep. Bryan Steil for the state's 1st District, a constituency that's descended from the one Barca briefly represented three decades ago. While Republicans have held it ever since, Barca's entry could put into play a seat that the GOP has rarely had to sweat.

Barca, who stepped down last month as state revenue secretary, is the first major contender to enter the Aug. 13 Democratic primary, and it's possible he could be the last. Right after his launch, former Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan informed the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Lawrence Andrea that he'd decided to back Barca rather than run himself.

The filing deadline isn't until June 3, but according to Barca, national Democrats would be pleased if no other notable candidates entered the race. Barca told Andrea in late March that the DCCC began recruiting him last fall, though he says he repeatedly told the committee, "No way." The former congressman, however, said that he began to reconsider after watching "month after month of total dysfunction" in the House.

Given Wisconsin's late primary, Democrats' odds of flipping the 1st could improve should Barca clear the field, especially since Steil begins the race with a big fundraising head start. The incumbent hauled in $618,000 during the first three months of 2024 and finished March with a hefty $4 million in the bank.

The 1st District, which includes the Milwaukee suburbs of Janesville, Kenosha, and Racine, favored Donald Trump by a small 50-48 margin in 2020 as Joe Biden was narrowly carrying Wisconsin, and it's continued to vote a few points to the right of the state since then.

Republican Tim Michels, according to data from Dave's Redistricting App, edged out Gov. Tony Evers by a skinny 49.5-49.3 margin in 2022 in 2022 as Evers was winning statewide 51-48, while Republican Sen. Ron Johnson took the 1st 52-48 that same evening amid his 50-49 reelection win. Steil, for his part, won his third term 54-45 against an underfunded Democrat.

However, the district hasn't been unwinnable for progressives. Analyst Drew Savicki says that Janet Protasiewicz carried it 53-47 in last year's officially nonpartisan state Supreme Court race as she was winning her race 55-45.

But while this seat is far from safely red, no House Democrat has won the 1st District in the decades since Barca prevailed in a tight 1993 special election to succeed 12-term Rep. Les Aspin, a fellow Democrat who resigned to become Bill Clinton's first secretary of defense.

Barca, as we detailed recently, earned a promotion out of the state Assembly that year by beating Republican Mark Neumann 50-49. Neumann, though, won a rematch by an even tighter 49.2-48.8 spread the following year as Newt Gingrich was leading the GOP to its first House majority in 40 years.

Democrats hoped to reclaim the 1st District in 1996, but Neumann fended off Democrat Lydia Spottswood 51-49. Neumann left the House in 1998 to wage an unsuccessful bid against Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, but a 28-year-old former Republican congressional staffer named Paul Ryan held the seat by defeating Spottswood 57-43.

(Neumann went on to badly lose the 2010 nomination for governor to Scott Walker and take a distant third place in the 2012 Senate primary; Spottswood lost a bid earlier this month to serve as mayor of Kenosha.)

Ryan quickly became entrenched and won each of his reelection campaigns by double digits, but Democrats hoped they'd have an opening when the speaker unexpectedly retired ahead of the 2018 blue wave.

However, Steil, who was a member of the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, kept the seat in GOP hands by turning back a well-funded effort from Democrat Randy Bryce 55-43. Following that win, Steil was not seriously targeted in either 2020 or 2022.

But despite that loss during the Gingrich revolution, Barca remained on the political scene. He returned to the Assembly in 2008 and became minority leader after the following cycle's red wave flipped control of the chamber.

Barca attracted widespread attention in 2011 when he led a 60-hour floor debate in the hopes of derailing a notorious anti-labor law pushed by Walker, but he stepped down from his leadership post in 2017 after he was one of just three Democrats to vote for Walker's infamous $3 billion tax incentive package to the electronics company Foxconn.

Barca still sought and won another term in the legislature, but he left in early 2019 after Tony Evers, who had just unseated Walker, named him to his cabinet as head of the state's Department of Revenue.

Governors

WV-Gov: Republican Gov. Jim Justice on Thursday endorsed former Del. Moore Capito, who is the son and namesake of Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, with just under a month to go before the May 14 Republican primary to replace him.

Justice, who is the GOP's frontrunner for West Virginia's other Senate seat, made his choice at a time when Capito and his two main rivals are engaged in a bitter air war that's turned into a battle over which candidate is the most transphobic.

The Cook Political Report's Matthew Klein recently collected many of the lowlights of this grim competition, which has been playing out for some time. Capito has been an active participant, debuting a new spot that claimed that the frontrunner, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, "got rich lobbying for the puberty blocker companies." He's also airing another commercial that shows a male actor winning a women's track competition.

That ad, which does not mention any of Capito's intra-party rivals, concludes, "Thanks to Del. Moore Capito, girls' sports in West Virginia are protected." The spot was almost certainly produced before a federal appeals court blocked a 2021 state law this week that bans trans student-athletes from participating in the sport that corresponds to their gender identity.

A third GOP candidate, businessman Chris Miller, is airing his own commercial in which a woman declares, "The trans shouldn't get more rights than what our kids have." The spot, similar to Capito's, goes on to argue that Morrisey "was the go-to lobbyist for drug makers peddling puberty blockers and a gender transition clinic for kids." (Miller has also been running another anti-trans ad.)

Miller's allies at West Virginia Forward make similar arguments in another spot that also unsubtly attacks Morrisey's physical appearance. The ad features an animated version of the attorney general, calling him "small in stature." It shows the cartoon Morrisey barely rising above a podium before depicting him in front of plates of food as the narrator concludes he has "a big appetite for getting rich at our expense."

Morrisey's backers at Black Bear PAC, meanwhile, are arguing that when Miller was a university board member, he "looked the other way as pro-transgender events happened on his watch." The narrator goes on to quote from the far-right Daily Caller, saying one such event involved "a trans closet that provided items to support sex changes for students."

All of these commercials come during the final month of an expensive campaign during which, according to AdImpact, close to $19 million has been spent on or reserved for advertising. The firm reports that $7.5 million has gone into pro-Morrisey ads compared to $5.3 million to boost Miller, while Capito has deployed $2 million. AdImpact has also tracked another $2.1 million in anti-Miller ads and $2 million in spots hitting Morrisey.

The data does not mention any commercials run against Capito, though it may not yet reflect a new offensive from Morrisey's allies at the Club for Growth that began this week. Secretary of State Mac Warner, who is the fourth notable Republican candidate, still does not appear to have run any TV ads or been attacked on the air.

House

KS-02: Republican Rep. Jake LaTurner unexpectedly announced Thursday that he would not seek a third term in Kansas' 2nd District, a decision that makes the 36-year-old one of the youngest people to ever voluntarily retire from Congress.

This seat in the eastern part of the state favored Donald Trump 57-41 in 2020, so the winner of the Aug. 6 GOP primary will be favored in the general election. While major-party candidate filing has already closed in 34 states, LaTurner's would-be successors still have until June 1 to place their names on the ballot.

Two Republicans, Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson and state House Majority Leader Chris Croft, were each quick to tell the Kansas City Star that they're interested in running to fill the newly open seat.

The paper also mentioned several other Republicans as possibilities, including 2022 gubernatorial nominee Derek Schmidt; LaTurner staffer Jeff Kahrs; and a pair of state senators who unsuccessfully sought the 2nd District when it last came open in 2018, Dennis Pyle and Caryn Tyson. Pyle, though, later ran for governor as an independent in 2022, and he has yet to rejoin the GOP.

Another candidate who also lost in that same 2018 race, former state Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, laughed when the Star asked him about another campaign, so he's presumably a no.

LaTurner, whom Inside Elections notes is the youngest Republican in Congress, is ending an electoral career that began at 20 when he lost a 2008 primary for state Senate 55-45 to Bob Marshall, who went on to win the seat. LaTurner soon began running a district office for Rep. Lynn Jenkins, who had been elected to represent the 2nd Congressional District that same year, before seeking a rematch against Marshall in 2012.

Kansas GOP primaries had long pitted relative moderates like Marshall against hardline conservatives, and right-wing groups were especially determined to purge centrists after they joined with the Democratic minority in an unsuccessful attempt to stop Gov. Sam Brownback's income tax cuts. LaTurner won the support of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and the Koch family's Americans for Prosperity and defeated Marshall 57-43 on what proved to be a strong night for conservatives.

LaTurner won the general election 61-39 and easily secured reelection in 2016, but Trump would soon set off a chain of events that would elevate LaTurner to higher office.

Trump unexpectedly picked Mike Pompeo, who represented Kansas' 4th District around Wichita, to lead the CIA, prompting a special election that state Treasurer Ron Estes went on to win (albeit in remarkably weak fashion). Brownback then appointed LaTurner to replace Estes, a move that made the new treasurer the youngest statewide elected official in the country.

LaTurner easily kept his new job in 2018 even as Democrat Laura Kelly was pulling off an upset for governor. That same night also saw Republican Steve Watkins narrowly win the race to succeed the retiring Jenkins in the conservative 2nd District, despite the fact that multiple media reports had exposed Watkins as a serial liar and a woman accused him of sexual misconduct.

LaTurner almost immediately kicked off a campaign to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, but he struggled to gain traction. However, he got far more support when he announced in September of 2019 that he would instead launch a primary challenge against Watkins, who just weeks before had denied widespread rumors that he'd resign because of an undisclosed scandal.

Watkins attracted still more ugly headlines, including a Topeka Capital-Journal story reporting that he might have committed voter fraud by listing a UPS store in Topeka as his home address on his voter registration form and then proceeding to cast a ballot the previous month as though he lived there.

Things got worse the month before the primary when local authorities charged Watkins with three felonies over his 2019 vote—a development that awkwardly came just half an hour before he was set to debate his challenger.

LaTurner beat Watkins 49-34, news that came as a relief for Republicans who feared the congressman was too weak to hold what should have been a safe seat. LaTurner went on to defeat Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla, who hoped Watkins would be her opponent, by a comfortable 55-41 margin as Trump was carrying the 2nd District by a similar spread. (Watkins later reached a diversion agreement with local prosecutors that ultimately led to the voter fraud charges against him getting dropped.)

LaTurner, who joined the majority of his caucus in voting against recognizing Joe Biden's victory, won his second term without trouble, and he was on track to easily claim reelection again before his surprise Thursday retirement announcement. But LaTurner didn't just put an end to his congressional career: He also said on Thursday that he wouldn't seek state-level office in 2026, when Kelly will be termed out as governor.

The congressman insisted that he was cutting short his once-promising political future to spend time with his family and not because of GOP infighting, though he acknowledged Congress' deep flaws.

"Undoubtedly, the current dysfunction on Capitol Hill is distressing, but it almost always has been; we just didn't see most of it," LaTurner said in a statement.

But even LaTurner seemed surprised by the chaos last fall when he responded to the GOP's three-week speakership deadlock by exclaiming, "I thought we had reached rock bottom, but we hadn't."  

MI-03: The Detroit News' Grant Schwab reports that the brother of attorney Paul Hudson is the sole donor to a super PAC that announced last week it had taken in $1 million to promote Hudson, a Republican running for Michigan's 3rd congressional District. Schwab writes that Ryan Hudson is a co-founder of the browser extension Honey, a tool for finding coupons that he sold to PayPal for a reported $4 billion in 2020.

Paul Hudson is the GOP frontrunner to take on Democratic Rep. Hillary Scholten in a Grand Rapids constituency that Joe Biden carried 53-45 in 2020. Hudson only raised $59,000 from donors during the first quarter of 2024 but self-funded another $150,000, ending March with $342,000 in the bank. Scholten raised $643,000 during that time and finished last month with $1.8 million in her coffers.

OR-03: Primary School flags that the super PAC 314 Action so far has spent $816,000 to support state Rep. Maxine Dexter ahead of the May 21 primary to succeed her fellow Democrat, retiring Rep. Earl Blumenauer, in the dark blue 3rd District around Portland. The PAC, which promotes Democratic candidates with backgrounds in science (Dexter is a pulmonologist), is the only outside group that has spent anything on the contest so far.

Dexter, former Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal, and Gresham City Councilor Eddy Morales are the main candidates competing in next month's primary. Jayapal, who is the sister of Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, outraised her rivals during the first quarter by taking in $333,000, and her $408,000 war chest was also the largest.

Morales outpaced Dexter $245,000 to $185,000, and he ended March with $251,000 in the bank, versus a similar $227,000 for Dexter.

Judges

WI Supreme Court: Wisconsin Court of Appeals Judge Chris Taylor, who was one of three liberal jurists considering a bid for the state Supreme Court next year, said on Thursday that she would not run for the new open seat created by Justice Ann Walsh Bradley's recent retirement announcement.

Two other progressives, Dane County Circuit Judge Susan Crawford and Court of Appeals Judge Pedro Colón, are still weighing the race. Crawford said Thursday she'd have "more to say in the coming weeks."

On the conservative side, former Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel has been running since the fall, while Court of Appeals Judge Maria Lazar has also expressed interest.

All candidates will run together on a single primary ballot on Feb. 18, with the top two vote-getters advancing to an April 1 general election. Control of the court will once again be up for grabs as liberals seek to defend the 4-3 majority they earned last year when Janet Protaseiwicz, then a Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge, flipped an open seat that had been held by a conservative justice.

Ballot Measures

CO Ballot: Reproductive rights supporters in Colorado turned in petitions on Thursday to place an amendment on the November ballot to safeguard abortion access and overturn a 1984 amendment that bans public funding for the procedure. That same day anti-abortion groups acknowledged that they'd failed to collect enough signatures to put a rival amendment before voters that would all but ban the procedure.

Constitutional amendments need to win at least 55% of the vote to pass in Colorado, but first campaigns must get them on the ballot. Amendment campaigns need to collect about 124,000 valid signatures, a figure that represents 5% of the total vote cast in the most recent election for secretary of state, and also hit certain targets in each of the state's 35 Senate districts.

Abortion rights advocates announced Thursday they'd submitted nearly 240,000 signatures with eight days left before their April 26 deadline, and Westworld says election officials have a month to verify them. That review will not be necessary for the opposite side, though: Anti-abortion groups only had until Thursday because they began their task earlier, but they fell short of legal requirements to make the ballot.

NV Ballot: The Nevada Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that a constitutional amendment to protect broadly reproductive rights, including the right to an abortion, does not violate state rules prohibiting ballot initiatives from addressing more than one subject, but organizers said they nonetheless plan to keep focusing on a separate proposal that only addresses abortion.

Advocates changed gears last fall after a lower court judge blocked the more expansive amendment, saying it "embraces a multitude of subjects." The Supreme Court, however, rejected that reasoning, concluding that "all the medical procedures considered in the initiative petition concern reproduction."

The group backing both measures, Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom, welcomed Thursday's decision but said in a statement it intends to put the second, abortion-only amendment before voters. The organization also said it had already collected 160,000 signatures for the narrower amendment, which is well over the 103,000 required by law. However, supporters have said their goal is to submit twice as many signatures as necessary as a cushion.

The original amendment could still appear before voters two years from now, though. The Democratic-led state legislature advanced an amendment last year that the Nevada Independent says includes "essentially identical language" as the version the state Supreme Court blessed on Thursday.

State law, however, requires lawmakers to approve the amendment again following the 2024 general election before it could go before voters in 2026, when it would need to win a majority to go into effect.

Because the newer amendment put forth by Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom is a citizen-sponsored initiative, it would need to earn majority backing at the ballot box twice, both this fall and again two years from now. Measures placed on the ballot by the legislature, however, only need to win voter support once.

Poll Pile

  • FL-Sen: Mainstreet Research for Florida Atlantic University: Rick Scott (R-inc): 53, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D): 36 (51-43 Trump in two-way, 49-40 Trump with third-party candidates)

Ad Roundup

Campaign Action

Morning Digest: Why the field to replace Mitt Romney may soon get a lot smaller

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

UT-Sen: The Utah GOP's April 27 convention is coming up quickly, and a newly formed super PAC is trying to make sure Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs' campaign to succeed retiring Sen. Mitt Romney comes to an end at the event well before the June 25 primary.

The Deseret News' Brigham Tomco reports that Hometown Freedom Action Network has spent $17,000 on mailers and text messages to delegates portraying Staggs, who has emphasized his hard-right stances, as disloyal to conservatives. One message faults the mayor for initially supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for president, declaring, "Betraying Trump is not MAGA." Another blasts Staggs as "woke" for instituting anti-bias training for police officers. It's not clear who is funding the group.

One delegate told Tomco he considers these kinds of attacks from outside groups "frustrating, annoying, and inappropriate." Staggs is hoping others agree because he needs to perform well with delegates if he's to keep his campaign going.

Utah allows candidates to reach the primary ballot by competing at their convention or by collecting signatures, and while candidates can pursue both routes, Staggs is only going with the first option. This means that, should he fail to win the support of at least 40% of the delegates on April 27, his campaign is over. Another hard-right candidate, conservative activist Carolyn Phippen, is also pursuing a convention-only strategy.

It's not clear yet, however, if a third candidate, attorney Brent Orrin Hatch, needs to rely on delegates to get onto the ballot. Hatch, who is the son and namesake of the late Sen. Orrin Hatch, submitted signatures ahead of the April 13 deadline, but election authorities have not yet verified if he turned in the requisite 28,000 valid petitions.

Hatch himself also sounded uncertain if he'd hit this goal at the start of the month. He previously told Tomco the task was "daunting," and that his status was "up in the air."

The convention is far less important for two other Republicans, Rep. John Curtis and former state House Speaker Brad Wilson. Election authorities have verified that each of them turned in enough signatures to make the ballot, though they're each still taking part in the convention.

Hometown Freedom Action Network sent out texts blasting Curtis, who appears to be the least doctrinaire of the candidates, as someone who was "never with President Trump, and never will be." However, it only spent $2,500 on this messaging against the congressman, who will be on the June ballot no matter how well he does at the April 27 gathering.

The Downballot

It's an old story, but it never gets old: Democrats just whooped Republicans in fundraising—again. This week on "The Downballot" podcast, we're running through some of the most eye-popping numbers Democrats hauled in during the first quarter of the year (Sherrod Brown! Jon Tester! Colin Allred!) and the comparatively weak performances we're seeing from Republicans almost across the board. The GOP hopes to make up the gap by relying on self-funders, but a campaign without a strong fundraising network can be dangerously hollow.

Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also recap the week's electoral action, starting with victories in a pair of special elections in Michigan that allowed Democrats to reclaim their majority in the state House, plus a noteworthy House runoff in Alabama that could lead to a Black Democrat representing Mobile for the first time since Reconstruction.

The Davids also explain why a surprise retirement from the Wisconsin Supreme Court means progressives need to be on guard against a top-two lockout in yet another critical battle for control of the court. And finally, there's the astonishing three-way House race in California that could soon turn into a humdrum two-way affair thanks to an unexpected recount.

1Q Fundraising

Fundraising: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to present brand-new charts rounding up first-quarter fundraising numbers for every incumbent and notable challenger running for the House and the Senate this year. The overarching story is a familiar one: Democrats in key races are outraising their Republican rivals almost across the board, sometimes by astonishing margins.

The lopsided Senate battlefield is particularly noteworthy. Compared to the same quarter six years ago, the two most endangered Democratic senators, Montana's Jon Tester and Ohio's Sherod Brown, raised four times as much as they did for their last campaigns. Meanwhile, in Texas, Rep. Colin Allred managed to exceed the already eye-popping records set by Beto O'Rourle in 2018. Check out our charts for the complete picture in both chambers of Congress.

Senate

MT-Sen: In a follow-up to her absolutely bonkers report about former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy last week, the Washington Post's Liz Goodwin pokes further holes in the Republican's claims about an alleged bullet wound he suffered.

Sheehy claims he lied about getting shot at a national park in 2015 in order to deter a military investigation into what he says was the true source of his injury—a possible incident of friendly fire in Afghanistan three years earlier—but new documents obtained by the Post include a report from an unnamed person visiting the park who reported "an accidental gun discharge" to the National Park Service.

An attorney for Sheehy disputed whether there had in fact been any such report by a park visitor. Sheehy's campaign previously said it was seeking to obtain copies of his hospital records from the 2015 incident, but the same attorney did not directly respond when asked whether those records had been received.

NJ-Sen: A three-judge federal appeals panel has upheld a ruling by a lower court last month that barred the use of New Jersey's "county line" system on the grounds that it violates the Constitution. However, that ruling remains in effect solely for the Democratic primary. Barring further legal action, Republicans will still be able to print ballots that give favorable placement to party-endorsed candidates. That state of affairs is likely temporary, though, as a similar ruling applying to Republican primaries is likely at some point.

Governors

MO-Gov: The Missouri Scout has rounded up campaign fundraising reports covering the first quarter of the year, and the overall story of the Aug. 6 Republican primary for governor remains the same as it's been throughout the entire cycle. Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe continues to dominate financially even though almost every released survey shows him trailing Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft by double digits. State Sen. Bill Eigel also brought in more money during the quarter than Ashcroft even those polls show him with little support.

Kehoe and his joint fundraising committee this time raised a combined $2.5 million and ended March with a total of $6.3 million. Eigel and his committee outraised Ashcroft and his allies $587,000 to $513,000, though it was Ashcroft's side that finished the quarter with a $2.6 million to $1.7 million cash on hand advantage.

On the Democratic side, state House Minority Leader Crystal Quade and her committee together raised $285,000 and had $391,000 available. Businessman Mike Hamra and his allies together brought in $690,000, which includes $250,000 from the candidate, and ended March with $1.1 million banked.  

House

CA-16: NBC Bay Area's Jocelyn Moran reports that a newly formed super PAC called Count the Vote is providing the money to finance the ongoing recount into the March 5 top-two primary. It's not clear who is funding the group, but Moran says that the address on its checks matches that of a law firm that used to work for former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Liccardo, who is assured a place in the Nov. 5 general election, has continued to deny he has anything to do with the recount even though the person who requested it, Jonathan Padilla, worked for his 2014 campaign and served in his administration. Two of Liccardo's fellow Democrats, Assemblyman Evan Low and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, tied for second place last month, and they'd both advance to the general election unless the recount changes the results.

The recount process began Monday, and it's not clear how long it will take to conclude. While election officials in Santa Clara County, which makes up over 80% of the 16th District, initially told KQED they believed this would be a five-day undertaking, Moran writes that they now think it could last between one and two weeks. Personnel in San Mateo County, which forms the balance of the seat, separately tell ABC 7 they believe their retabulations will be done around April 24.

Officials in Santa Clara and San Mateo tell The Daily Journal that the daily cost in their respective counties is $16,000 and $5,000, though they add it would change depending on exactly what Padilla requests. The process would come to an end if Padilla missed a day's payment, and an incomplete recount would leave the certified results unchanged.

MD-02: AIPAC, the hawkish pro-Israel group, has endorsed Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski ahead of the May 14 Democratic primary, where his main rival for this open seat is Del. Harry Bhandari. Olszewski has been the frontrunner ever since he launched his bid in January, and he previously earned endorsements from retiring Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, longtime Rep. Steny Hoyer, and organized labor.

Olszewski also enjoys a large financial advantage over Bhandari. The executive raised $726,000 in the first quarter and finished March with $499,000 on hand, while Bhandari took in $134,000 during this time and ended the period with only $68,000 left to spend.

MD-03: Retired Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn has publicized an internal poll from Upswing Research and Strategy that shows him leading state Sen. Sarah Elfreth by 22-18, while a 44% plurality of voters undecided ahead of the May 14 Democratic primary for this safely blue open seat. State Sen. Clarence Lam was further back with 8%, while no other candidate in the crowded race exceeded 3%.

Dunn gained national visibility after he helped protect Congress during the Jan. 6 insurrection, and that fame helped him dominate the rest of the field in fundraising. Dunn raised a massive $3.7 million in the first quarter and finished March with $1.7 million on hand. That haul was the third-largest of any House candidate nationwide, and it also was more than the rest of his primary rivals combined.

By contrast, Elfreth raised $502,000 and had $569,000 left to spend. However, Elfreth has also received $1.4 million in outside support from the hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC, while none of the other candidates have benefited from major outside spending.

Lam, for his part, raised $284,000 and had $505,000 remaining in the bank. Further back, Del. Mike Rogers raised $140,000 and had $171,000 left over, while labor lawyer John Morse raised $116,000 and finished March with $94,000. None of the other candidates took in six-figure sums.

ME-02: State Rep. Austin Theriault has unveiled an internal poll from Public Opinion Strategies that finds him leading fellow state Rep. Mike Soboleski by 30-7 ahead of the June 11 Republican primary, though a large majority of respondents are undecided. The poll's sample size was just 300 respondents, which is the bare minimum that Daily Kos Elections requires for inclusion in the Digest.

Donald Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson are supporting Theriault for the nomination to take on Democratic Rep. Jared Golden, and their preferred candidate raised $655,000 in the first quarter to Soboleski's $43,000. Theriault also had $831,000 on hand compared to $48,000 for his rival. However, Golden's haul was even larger at $1 million raised, and he had $2.2 million on hand at the start of April.

NJ-10: The New Jersey Globe reports that Democratic Rep. Donald Payne has been unconscious and on a ventilator ever since he suffered a heart attack on April 6. The congressman's office on April 9 put out a statement that did not indicate Payne was not conscious, saying instead that his "prognosis is good and he is expected to make a full recovery."

NY-16: Politico's Jeff Coltin has obtained an internal for Rep. Jamaal Bowman that shows him edging out Westchester County Executive George Latimer 44-43 in the June 25 Democratic primary. The pollster, Upswing Research and Strategy, tells us the survey was conducted March 5 through March 10.

The only other numbers we've seen for this contest came from a late March poll for Latimer's allies at Democratic Majority for Israel, and it showed the executive with a wide 52-35 lead. Both DMFI and its pollster, the Mellman Group, are led by Mark Mellman.

SC-01, VA-05, AZ-02, OH-09: American Prosperity Alliance, a dark money group that is close to Kevin McCarthy, has begun running TV ads against three Republican incumbents who voted to oust McCarthy from the speakership last year. The ads, which, are focused on immigration, are also running against Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur in Ohio's 9th District.

According to AdImpact, the group has spent at least $330,000 against Rep. Nancy Mace, who is trying to fend off former state cabinet official Catherine Templeton in the June 11 primary for South Carolina's 1st District. AdImpact has also tracked another $160,000 that APA is deploying in Virginia's 5th District against Rep. Bob Good, who faces state Sen. John McGuire in the following week's primary.

Meanwhile in Arizona's 2nd District, the group has spent $218,000 so far to weaken incumbent Eli Crane ahead of his July 30 nomination battle against former Yavapai County Supervisor Jack Smith. APA additionally has dropped $150,000 on ads against Kaptur, who she faces a competitive general election against Republican state Rep. Derek Merrin.

Mayors & County Leaders

Raleigh, NC Mayor: Democratic Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin announced Tuesday that she would not seek reelection this year and would instead lead a nonprofit. Baldwin, who was successfully treated for breast cancer last year, added that her husband also had multiple surgeries, and that all this convinced her it was "time to devote my energies to myself and my family and to find other ways to serve."

The nonpartisan general election to succeed Baldwin will take place on Nov. 5, and since there's no runoff, it only takes a plurality to become mayor of North Carolina's capital city. Three notable candidates were already running, and they each identify as Democrats.

City Councilman Corey Branch, who describes himself as a "moderate Democrat," launched his campaign in October. He was joined in January by former state Treasurer Janet Cowell, who was once a rising star in North Carolina Democratic politics.

Terrance Ruth, a North Carolina State University professor who lost to Baldwin 47-41 in 2022, also kicked off a second bid a month before the incumbent announced her departure. Ruth argued last cycle that the mayor's administration hadn't done enough to make housing affordable or to listen to residents.

The field also includes mortgage broker Paul Fitts, who is the only Republican in the contest, and two other candidates. The candidate filing deadline is July 19.

Obituaries

Bob Graham: Bob Graham, a Florida Democrat who rose to prominence during his 26 years as governor and senator, died Tuesday at the age of 87. In our obituary, Jeff Singer recounts the many elections of Graham's long career, including how his famed "Workweeks" helped transform him from relative obscurity into a statewide powerhouse.

Poll Pile

Ad Roundup

Campaign Action

Morning Digest: Michigan Democrats retake House majority, clearing way for progressive priorities

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

 MI State House: Michigan Democrats successfully defended a pair of vacant state House seats in the Detroit suburbs on Tuesday, restoring the outright majority the party won in 2022. With Democrats, who also hold the governorship and state Senate, back in full control of state government, the party once again has the opportunity to advance its agenda.

In one of Tuesday's specials, Westland City Councilman Peter Herzberg defeated Republican Josh Powell 60-38 in the 25th District, which, according to data from Dave's Redistricting App, backed Joe Biden 59-40 in 2020.

Meanwhile, Macomb County Commissioner Mai Xiong likewise beat Republican Ronald Singer 66-34 in the 13th District, which went for the president 64-35. Xiong's win makes her the first Hmong American elected to the state House.

Both seats became vacant following last November's local elections when a pair of Democrats, Kevin Coleman of Westland and Lori Stone of Warren, resigned after being elected mayor of their respective communities. While there was little question that Democrats would win the special elections, Coleman and Stone's absences meant that the 110-chamber would be tied 54-54 for several months.

Democrat Joe Tate remained speaker during the ensuing time, but his party was unable to pass legislation without Republican support. This state of affairs, however, has changed now that Herzberg and Xiong have prevailed and restored Democrats to a 56-54 edge (they also have a 20-18 advantage in the Senate).

Despite their narrow majorities, Democrats passed an ambitious agenda last year, which included repealing anti-union "right to work" laws, reversing a 1931 abortion ban, and protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ people. Their hopes for the coming year are similarly far-reaching.

One major goal will be the passage of the $80.7 billion state budget that Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is touting as a way to provide both free preschool and community college. The House will also have the opportunity to approve a voting rights package to improve access to the ballot box for people of color, voters with disabilities, and people who rely on a language other than English.

While the governorship and state Senate aren't up until 2026, Democrats must once again defend their narrow majority in the lower chamber this November. That task got a bit more complicated this year when a panel of federal judges approved a new map for the state House drawn by Michigan's independent redistricting commission to replace one the court determined improperly factored in race.

The partisan impact of this shift was limited, as Donald Trump would have won the same 56-54 majority of districts under both sets of maps. Xiong, though, will likely be in for a considerably tougher contest this fall than she was on Tuesday: While Biden easily carried the version of the 13th District she won this week, the revamped version favored him just 50-48.

Election Recaps

 AL-02: Former Justice Department official Shomari Figures defeated state House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels 61-39 in Tuesday's Democratic primary runoff for Alabama's revamped 2nd District. 

Figures' nomination in this seat, which now takes in Mobile, Montgomery, and the eastern Black Belt, came after the crypto-aligned super PAC Protect Progress spent another $900,000 to support him in the second round of voting. The group previously deployed over $1.7 million to promote Figures ahead of the March 5 primary, which saw him lead Daniels 43-22.

Figures will be favored in the general election against attorney Caroleene Dobson, who won the GOP runoff by beating former state Sen. Dick Brewbaker by a 58-42 margin. The new version of the 2nd, which was put in place by a federal court, is now a plurality Black district that would have backed Joe Biden 56-43.

Republican Rep. Barry Moore last year all but acknowledged his redrawn seat was unwinnable for his party when he decided that, rather than seek reelection to the new 2nd, he'd challenge fellow incumbent Jerry Carl in the dark red 1st. (Moore won 52-48 last month.)

With Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell poised to easily hold the reliably blue 7th District around Birmingham, a win for Figures in November would give Alabama two Black members of Congress for the first time. It would also be the first time that Democrats have held two House seats in Alabama since Republicans secured their current 6-1 advantage following the 2010 red wave.

Figures, who hails from a prominent political family in Mobile, would also be the first African American to represent this Gulf Coast city in Congress since the 1870s. Two of the three Black representatives who held office during Reconstruction, Republicans Benjamin Turner and Jeremiah Haralson, won Mobile-based seats; the third, James Rapier, represented an area around Montgomery and Dothan.

In addition, Figures would be the first Democrat to represent Mobile in the House since the early 1960s, a time when segregationist Democrats still held a monopoly on power in the state. The last Mobile-based Democratic congressman was Frank Boykin, a conservative Dixiecrat who won what was then numbered the 1st District in a 1935 special election.

Boykin's status was threatened, though, after the state lost one of its nine House seats following the 1960 census and the legislature failed to approve a new map in time for the 1962 elections.

All nine members of the House delegation, which had been all-Democratic since the turn of the century, ended up competing in a statewide primary for eight at-large seats, and Boykin was the unlucky incumbent who took last place. (He was convicted on corruption charges the next year, but President Lyndon Johnson later pardoned the former congressman.)

New districts were approved for the 1964 elections, but Republicans had begun making inroads in the state by emphasizing their opposition to civil rights for African Americans. Republican Jack Edwards decisively won the open 1st District around Mobile as the GOP, aided by Barry Goldwater's landslide win over LBJ in Alabama, secured four other House seats. While the GOP lost two of its new members in 1966, it continued to hold the 1st District throughout the ensuing decades.

Alabama's current court-drawn map, however, means that, for the first time since Boykin's era, most voters in Mobile will soon likely have a Democratic congressman. About 90% of the city is located in the new 2nd District, according to data from Dave's Redistricting App, while the balance is contained in the 1st.

And while the GOP's hold on the 1st District, which would have favored Donald Trump 74-24 in 2020, isn't at risk, the new boundaries were bad news for one Mobile-area Republican. Carl, a former member of the Mobile County Commission, lost his March 5 primary to Moore, a colleague whose base is in the more rural Wiregrass region to the east. 

Senate

MD-Sen: A new survey for OpinionWorks shows former Republican Gov. Larry Hogan leading his two prospective Democratic foes, Rep. David Trone and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, 53-40 and 54-36, respectively. The poll, which was conducted for The Baltimore Sun, FOX45, and the University of Baltimore, did not include presidential numbers in Tuesday's release.

A pair of March polls from Braun Research conducted for two different sets of clients also showed Hogan ahead in general election matchups, though they disagreed just how well he was doing in this dark blue state.

The early March numbers for the Washington Post and the University of Maryland placed the Republican ahead of Trone and Alsobrooks by margins of 49-37 and 50-36, which is similar to what OpinionWorks now finds. But a survey conducted later in the month for Goucher College and the Baltimore Banner showed Hogan edging out Trone just 43-42 and leading Alsobrooks by an only slightly larger 44-40 spread.

OpinionWorks also looks at both parties' May 14 primaries. On the Democratic side, Trone enjoys a 48-29 edge over Alsobrooks, which is larger than what other recent polls have shown. The firm also gives us a rare glance at the GOP side, where Hogan is crushing wealthy perennial candidate Robin Ficker 69-9.

NJ-Sen: A state court judge ruled on Monday that election officials in New Jersey could continue to print ballots for the Republican primary that award special placement to party-endorsed candidates, saying it was "too late" to change course. Previously, a federal judge forbade Democrats from using ballots organized in this way and instead said candidates had to be grouped by the office they're seeking.

However, even though that federal court ruling applied only to Democratic primaries, Superior Court Judge John Harrington suggested that Republicans should have followed suit in eliminating the so-called "county line." The federal case is currently being appealed, and it's possible that the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could extend the lower court's ruling to include the GOP.

NV-Sen: Former diplomat Jeff Gunter is airing his first TV ad against Army veteran Sam Brown ahead of the June 11 Republican primary, though it's anyone's guess how much he's actually spending to get it on the air. Gunter said two weeks ago he'd be deploying a total of $3.3 million on ads for the rest of the contest, but as of Friday, AdImpact reported he'd booked only $654,000.

The new spot accuses Brown of being aided by "dirty cash from Mitch McConnell, the swamp king himself." Brown is the NRSC's endorsed candidate to take on Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen.

DSCC: The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced Tuesday that it had reserved a total of $79 million for TV, radio, and digital ads in races across the nation. The news came after its allies at Senate Majority PAC booked what Politico's Burgess Everett says is now $239 million in several battlegrounds.

Everett writes that a large portion of the DSCC's reservation is budgeted toward TV ads in three Democratic-held seats in swing states: $11 million is going to defend Michigan's open seat, while Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin will receive $10 million in support and Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey will benefit from $8 million.

Another $2 million is being devoted to radio buys to help Montana Sen. Jon Tester, but we don't know yet how the remaining $48 million is being assigned. Everett says "seven-figure digital advertisements" will be used in the above states as well as in Arizona, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, and Texas. (Florida and Texas are held by GOP incumbents Rick Scott and Ted Cruz.) An unnamed DSCC aide says some money will also be directed toward coordinated buys with candidates.

Governors

IN-Gov: Campaign finance reports are in for the first quarter of the year, and the Indianapolis Star's Kayla Dwyer has collected the numbers from all the notable Republicans competing in the May 7 primary for governor:

  • Businessman Eric Doden: $4.4 million raised, $251,000 cash on hand
  • Sen. Mike Braun: $2.9 million raised, $946,000 cash on hand
  • Former state Commerce Secretary Brad Chambers: $1.5 million raised, additional $3 million self-funded, $761,000 cash on hand
  • Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch: $1.4 million raised, $3.1 million cash on hand
  • Former Attorney General Curtis Hill: $201,000 raised, $34,000 cash on hand

Dwyer notes that Doden received $3 million in donations and loans from his parents, which represents most of the money he brought in. Braun, for his part, took in $1 million from Richard Uihlein, who is one of the most prolific conservative megadonors in the country.

VA-Gov: Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger publicized an endorsement on Tuesday from Clean Virginia, a prominent environmental group that the Richmond Times-Dispatch says spent almost $12 million in last year's legislative races.

That effort included several 2023 Democratic primaries where Clean Virginia's candidates opposed contenders supported by Dominion Energy. Clean Virginia helped Lashrecse Aird deny renomination to Dominion's ally, conservative state Sen. Joe Morrissey, while it was on the winning side against two other upper chamber candidates backed by the mammoth energy producer. Dominion, though, successfully defended two Democratic state senators against Clean Virginia-supported challengers.  

Spanberger faces Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney in next year's Democratic nomination contest to replace GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who is barred from seeking a second consecutive term. Spanberger ended 2023 with a wide $3.6 million to $758,000 cash on hand advantage, but since fundraising reports covering the first six months of the year won't be available until July 15, we'll need to wait a while for updated numbers.

House

CO-05: State Sen. Bob Gardner said over the weekend that election officials informed him that he'd failed to submit enough signatures to make the June 25 Republican primary ballot. Gardner, who is termed out of his current job, acknowledged his congressional campaign was over to Colorado Politics. "I've always believed there's more to life than the next political office," he said, "so there's many opportunities to serve."

Gardner's involuntary departure makes the primary to replace retiring GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn a two-way duel between state party chair Dave Williams, who has Donald Trump's backing, and conservative radio host Jeff Crank, who has Speaker Mike Johnson in his corner. Crank decisively outraised Williams $302,000 to $68,000 among donors during the first quarter of the year, though Williams self-funded an additional $103,000. Crank finished March with a $228,000 to $166,000 cash advantage.

Both candidates have an unhappy electoral history with Lamborn, who has not taken sides. Crank narrowly lost to Lamborn the last time this seat was open in 2006 and unsuccessfully sought to boot him two years later, while Williams waged a failed challenge to Lamborn last cycle. The GOP nominee will be favored in the general election for the 5th District, a Colorado Springs-based seat that favored Trump 53-43 in 2020.

PA-01: A new group called True Patriots PA, which Politico says has ties to Democrats, has spent at least $50,000 on mailers attacking GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick in the hopes that his far-right primary opponent somehow unseats him. One flyer accuses the incumbent of becoming "best friends with Kamala Harris and the Democrats," while another calls him "the biggest RINO in Congress."

Politico reports the treasurer of True Patriots also works for Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, a prominent progressive. Democrats would be thrilled if anti-abortion activist Mark Houck denied renomination to Fitzpatrick in this competitive suburban Philadelphia seat, but there's not much sign that the congressman is in danger against the underfunded challenger.

Fitzpatrick did air commercials on streaming TV last month branding Houck as a "porn addict," but Inside Elections reported at the time that the congressman was spending just $23,000 on those ads. The winner will take on retired Army pilot Ashley Ehasz, a Democrat who is hoping to avenge her 55-45 loss against Fitzpatrick from last cycle.

SC-01: The conservative super PAC Winning for Women has launched what Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin says is at least a $161,000 TV buy to promote former state cabinet official Catherine Templeton in the June 11 GOP primary. The spot, which does not mention Trump-backed incumbent Nancy Mace, declares that Templeton "will stand with President Trump's border policies."

The Washington Post's Patrick Svitek notes that Winning for Women supported Mace in 2022 when she successfully fended off a primary opponent who was endorsed by Trump, and it initially backed her again in May of last year. But while Mace responded by tweeting out her "[e]normous gratitude," the two sides appear to have had a falling out sometime after the congresswoman joined with seven other House Republicans to end Kevin McCarthy's speakership.

"They’re doing this all because the former Speaker is a mean girl on a revenge tour against the only woman who voted against him for Speaker," a Mace spokesperson said in a statement about the congresswoman's erstwhile allies. "And this time he’s hiding behind the skirts of W4W."

Prosecutors & Sheriffs

Alameda County, CA District Attorney: County election officials announced Monday evening that the campaign to recall Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price had turned in enough signatures to force a vote.

It will be up to the Board of Supervisors, which is set to meet on April 30, to decide when the election will take place. Recall expert Joshua Spivak identifies both the timing of the race, as well as the question of whether or not a replacement would be elected on the same ballot, as some of the "areas for potential lawsuits."

Price was elected in 2022 as district attorney for this dark blue East Bay county, which is home to Oakland and Berkeley, by campaigning as a criminal justice reformer. Her critics, though, quickly began arguing that she'd done a poor job combating violent crime. Price’s team, meanwhile, said last month that her ouster would "undermine the results of a free and fair election" and "jeopardize the historic progress achieved in recent years."

Hillsborough County, FL State Attorney: Democrat Andrew Warren announced Tuesday that he would run this fall to reclaim the prosecutor's office in Hillsborough County that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis permanently suspended him from in 2022.

Warren is seeking to oust Republican Suzy Lopez, whom DeSantis appointed to replace him, in a county that includes Tampa and many of its suburbs. First, though, he needs to get past attorney Elizabeth Martinez Strauss, who hails from a prominent local legal family, in the Aug. 20 Democratic primary.

Warren won his second term 53-47 in 2020 as Joe Biden was carrying Hillsborough by a similar spread. However, his tenure came to a sudden end two years later when DeSantis removed him from office for, among other things, refusing to prosecute people who obtain or provide abortions.

Warren initially had little success in court challenging his dismissal and announced in January that he'd decided not to run again because there was a "high risk" that the governor would respond to his victory by removing him again.

However, he unexpectedly got some welcome news just two days later when a federal appeals court determined that a lower court judge had incorrectly concluded that several of the factors that had "motivated DeSantis to suspend Warren"—such as Warren's opposition to prosecuting individuals who obtain or provide abortions—were not protected by the First Amendment. The move did not guarantee Warren's reinstatement, but the Democrat quickly acknowledged he was reconsidering his plans not to run.

There have been no major developments since then, and the Tampa Bay Times says the case hasn't even been formally returned to the lower court yet. Still, Warren told the Times on Tuesday that the appeals court's decision "makes clear that the governor is not above the law and that the will of the people matters."

Strauss, for her part, told the paper that, while she believes Warren was unfairly ousted, his legal situation makes him "a risky candidate." She added that she'd remain in the race unless the courts act on his case before the April 26 candidate filing deadline.

Poll Pile

  • TX-Sen: Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation: Ted Cruz (R-inc): 46, Colin Allred (D): 41, Ted Brown (L): 4 (48-36 Trump in two-way, 46-34 Trump with third-party candidates)

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Campaign Action

Morning Digest: Trump targets one of last two pro-impeachment House Republicans

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

WA-04: Donald Trump on Friday endorsed former NASCAR driver Jerrod Sessler's intra-party bid against Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse, who is one of the two remaining House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump following the Jan. 6 riot.

Trump's backing makes Sessler, who waged an unheralded campaign two years ago, Newhouse's only notable foe in what had been a quiet Aug. 6 top-two primary for Washington's conservative 4th District. However, it remains to be seen whether Democrats will once again consolidate behind a single candidate as they did in 2022, a development that could make it tougher for one of the two Republicans to reach the November general election.

Newhouse's own plans are also uncertain. Two months ago, the Seattle Times' Jim Brunner relayed that there had been "rampant speculation in state Republican circles that Newhouse may be the next to announce his retirement." The incumbent doesn't appear to have confirmed his 2024 plans yet, though he tweeted out an endorsement from the National Federation of Independent Business on Monday. The candidate filing deadline isn't until May 10, so it may still be a few weeks before the roster is set here.

Newhouse, who was elected to represent central Washington in 2014, attracted little attention during his first three terms in Congress, but all of that changed early in 2021 when he responded to the Jan. 6 attack riot by voting to impeach Trump.

"A vote against this impeachment is a vote to validate the unacceptable violence we witnessed in our nation's capital," he said in a statement. "It is also a vote to condone President Trump's inaction."

Sessler, who had raced in local NASCAR competitions that could be considered the equivalent of baseball's minor leagues (his name does not come up when searching the auto sports database Racing-Reference.info), was one of several hard-right politicians who reacted by launching campaigns against the congressman. Trump, however, was far more impressed by 2020 gubernatorial nominee Loren Culp, a former cop who refused to recognize his decisive loss to Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee.

Trump's endorsement, though, didn't do much to help Culp augment his weak fundraising numbers hauls. Newhouse's allies at Defending Main Street, which is aligned with the GOP leadership, also spent over $1 million to boost the incumbent while the challenger received no major outside help. Sessler, who self-funded about $400,000 but raised little from donors, attracted comparatively little attention.

The 4th District had favored Trump 57-40 in 2020, but businessman Doug White benefited from being the only Democrat on the ballot in a top-two primary that featured seven Republicans. Newhouse and White took 25% apiece, while Culp and Sessler respectively grabbed 22% and 12%. That victory made Newhouse and California Rep. David Valadao the only two pro-impeachment Republicans to win renomination in a cycle that saw their eight fellow travelers either opt to retire or lose their own primaries.

Newhouse went on to easily beat White 66-31 in the general election (Valadao narrowly won in a more competitive seat), and he resumed his former role as a quiet conservative vote. The congressman even made it clear earlier this month that, despite saying three years ago that Trump "failed to fulfill his oath of office," he'd support his return to the White House. Trump repaid him Friday with a Truth Social missive branding Newhouse "a weak and pathetic RINO named Newhouse, who voted to, for no reason, Impeach me."

Trump, as he almost always does, also extolled his newest endorsee as someone who will "stand for the Rule of Law," though Sessler had a recent run-in with authorities. In September of 2022, a month after Sessler's first congressional campaign came to an end, a code enforcement officer in Benton County named Dale Wilson said that he'd investigated a complaint that someone was living on Sessler's property without the proper permits. Wilson said that Sessler confronted him and threatened to retrieve a gun and "deal with him" if Wilson returned.

County commissioners sent the once and future candidate a letter a few months later telling him that the actions described by Wilson constituted a felony, adding, "If you continue to threaten Benton County employees, the county will involve law enforcement to conduct a full investigation." There do not appear to have been any public developments since then.

Another Washington Republican who voted to impeach Trump, former Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, will also be on the Aug. 6 top-two primary ballot as she campaigns for the open post of state lands commissioner. Herrera Beutler's career representing the 3rd District came to an end two years ago when her Trump-backed foe, Joe Kent, edged her out in the first round, though Kent went on to suffer an upset general election loss to Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez.

Herrera Beutler faces one fellow Republican, Sue Kuehl Pederson, who badly lost the 2020 general election for lands commissioner, along with several Democrats. Kent, meanwhile, needs to get past Camas City Councilmember Leslie Lewallen to set up a rematch with Gluesenkamp Perez. Trump has not yet endorsed in either contest.

Election Night

AL-02: The downballot primary season picks back up on Tuesday in Alabama's revamped 2nd District, which is the only place in America that's hosting a congressional nominating contest this week. Whoever wins the Democratic primary runoff will be favored in November to claim a constituency that, under the new map drawn by a federal court, is now a plurality Black district that would have backed Joe Biden 56-43.

Former Justice Department official Shomari Figures led state House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels 43-22 in the first round of voting on March 5. While Figures' share of the vote was below the majority needed to win the Democratic nod outright, his performance established him as the frontrunner for the runoff.

Subsequent developments have only underscored the perception that Figures is the one to beat. State Rep. Napoleon Bracy, who took third place with 16%, went on to endorse him, and a late March Impact Research poll for an unknown client showed Figures beating Daniels 59-24.

Figures has once again gotten a major assist from Protect Progress, a super PAC with ties to the cryptocurrency industry that spent heavily on him ahead of the primary and has poured in another $900,000 for the runoff. The only pro-Daniels outside spending, by contrast, is about $50,000 from Progress for Alabama, a super PAC that Politico reports is run by Republican operative David Driscoll. Driscoll did not comment when Politico asked him about his interest in the race.

Each Democrat is arguing that the other has weak ties to this district, which now takes in Mobile, Montgomery, and the eastern Black Belt. Figures, who hails from a prominent political family in Mobile, has highlighted the fact that Daniels represents a legislative seat in Huntsville, far off in the northern part of the state.

Daniels, however, has emphasized his roots in the Montgomery area and pointed out that Figures only recently returned to Alabama after spending his career in and around the nation's capital.

The GOP runoff pits former state Sen. Dick Brewbaker and attorney Caroleene Dobson. Brewbaker led Dobson 40-26 on March 5.

MI State House: Two special elections taking place in the Detroit suburbs on Tuesday would allow Democrats to regain the majority they earned in the state House in 2022 if they prevail in both. The contests are being held to succeed a pair of Democrats who resigned to become mayor of their respective communities, Kevin Coleman of Westland and Lori Stone of Warren.

The election to replace Coleman in the 25th District pits his cousin and fellow Democrat, Westland City Councilman Peter Herzberg, against Republican businessman Josh Powell. Joe Biden, according to data from Dave's Redistricting App, carried this seat 59-40 in 2020.

The race to succeed Stone, meanwhile, is between Democrat Mai Xiong, a member of the Macomb County Commission, and Republican Ronald Singer, a perennial candidate. Xiong, who would be the first Hmong American elected to the state House, should have little trouble Tuesday in a seat that favored the president 64-35

However, November's contest for a full term would likely be more difficult. That's because, under the replacement map that Michigan's independent redistricting commission recently passed pursuant to a court order, the redrawn 13th would have backed Biden just 50-48.

Senate

KY-Sen & Louisville, KY Mayor: Kentucky's Republican-dominated legislature overrode vetoes by Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear of two election-related bills, one that will have an impact statewide and one more local.

The first bill prohibits the governor from appointing anyone to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat. This legislation replaces a 2021 law that required the governor to pick from a three-person list submitted by the party of the person who last held the Senate seat.

The new bill's sponsor, state House Majority Floor Leader Steven Rudy, denied that these new changes have anything to do with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's health. McConnell himself expressed support for the legislation even as he once again reiterated that he'd serve out the remainder of his term, which ends in early 2027.

The legislature, which only requires a simple majority in each chamber to override vetoes, also defied Beshear by approving a new law that, among other things, makes elections for Louisville's local government officially nonpartisan starting next year. All the candidates would face off on one ballot, and the top two vote-getters would advance to the general election.

Kentucky's largest city, which was consolidated with the rest of Jefferson County in 2003, favored Joe Biden 59-39 in 2020, so this switch could make it easier for Republicans to win races now that party affiliation won't be included on the ballot.

State Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, however, told Louisville Public Media last month he was supporting the legislation "out of respect for" Mayor Craig Greenberg, a Democrat whom he says was involved in discussions about the law. Greenberg, who is up for reelection in 2026, didn't answer when LPM asked him about the bill when it was first introduced earlier this year.

MD-Sen: Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks has publicized an internal from Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group that shows her trailing Rep. David Trone by a small 43-40 spread ahead of the May 14 Democratic primary. It's the first data that Alsobrooks has shared since launching her campaign, and it's also the first internal poll of the race we've seen since Trone shared a Hickman Analytics internal two months ago that had him up 49-32.

In between, two March polls conducted by Braun Research for separate clients found Trone ahead by larger margins: An early March poll for the Washington Post and the University of Maryland gave the congressman a 34-27 edge, while its subsequent numbers for Goucher College and the Baltimore Banner showed him leading 42-33.

NJ-Sen: Fairleigh Dickinson University shows Democratic Rep. Andy Kim posting 9-point leads over his two most notable Republican rivals, developer Curtis Bashaw and Mendham Borough Mayor Christine Serrano Glassner. Were Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez to run as an independent, Kim would still defeat both Republicans by a 6-point margin:

  • Kim (D): 48, Bashaw (R): 39
  • Kim (D): 47, Glassner (R): 38
  • Kim (D): 44, Bashaw (R): 38, Menendez (I-inc), 6
  • Kim (D): 45, Glassner (R): 39, Menendez (I-inc): 7

Presidential numbers were not included in this release.

Governors

WV-Gov: The Club for Growth, which supports Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the May 14 Republican primary, has launched what appears to be the first TV ad from anyone attacking former Del. Moore Capito. Morrisey and his allies until now had focused on tearing down businessman Chris Miller, but this shift in strategy suggests they think Capito has now emerged as a threat as well.

The Club's ad declares that Capito, who is the son and namesake of Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, was "born with a silver spoon in his mouth," though the commercial doesn't reference the senator by name. Instead, it features several animations of Capito accompanied by spoons (maybe the ad maker is a fan of "The Room") as the narrator accuses him of repeatedly voting to raise taxes.

Capito, meanwhile, has launched a spot in which his narrator declares, "Moore Capito wrote the bill blocking puberty blockers for children while Morrisey got rich lobbying for the puberty blocker companies." Miller recently used a similar line of attack against Morrisey, who has run his own transphobic ad campaign.

Capito ends his ad by portraying Morrisey as an outsider, though strangely, he doesn't actually bring up the state the attorney general is originally from. "California's that way," Capito tells the New Jersey-reared attorney general, who ran for Congress in the Garden State back in 2000 only to finish last in a four-way primary.

House

CA-16: Election officials in California's 16th Congressional District began the process for a machine recount of the March 5 top-two primary on Monday, but there are still big questions over just what will happen next in this wild race.

The Mercury News reports that Jonathan Padilla, who was a 2020 Biden delegate, paid the county a $12,000 deposit to start the recount. However, election administrators in Santa Clara County, which makes up over 80% of this Silicon Valley-based seat, tell KQED's Guy Marzorati that it will cost $16,800 per day for what they estimate will be a five-day undertaking.

Their counterparts in San Mateo, which forms the balance of the 16th District, say it will take another $4,550 per day to recount its ballots, though they told Marzorati they hadn't received a deposit as of Monday morning.

Marzorati writes that if Padilla misses a day's payment, the recount would end and the results certified by the state earlier this month would stand. A second voter, Dan Stegink, had sought a recount as well, but he withdrew his request and did not put down the requisite deposit.

Padilla's own plans have also changed somewhat, as he said he originally intended to seek a manual recount before opting for a machine recount. A manual recount is more likely to catch errors, but it's also far more expensive.

Former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, whom Padilla worked for in 2014, is guaranteed a spot in the November general election, while two other Democrats, Assemblyman Evan Low and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, would both advance if they remain tied for second. Should a recount shift the results even a single vote for either runner-up, however, then Liccardo would face the second-place finisher in a one-on-one matchup.

FL-15: Far-right social media troll Rogan O'Handley told the conservative site The Floridian over the weekend that he's decided not to challenge freshman Rep. Laurel Lee in the Aug. 20 Republican primary. The candidate filing deadline is April 26.

IN-03: Winning for Women, a conservative super PAC largely funded by megadonor Ken Griffin, has launched a commercial accusing former Rep. Marlin Stutzman of being weak on border security. The spot does not mention former Judge Wendy Davis, whom Politico says the group supports in the May 7 Republican primary for this safely red seat in northeastern Indiana. According to reports filed with the FEC, WFW has spent $414,000 so far.

The offensive comes at a time when another super PAC, America Leads Action, is spending a similar amount to derail Stutzman's comeback campaign. The former congressman's allies at the far-right House Freedom Caucus have deployed $110,000 to return him to Congress after an eight-year absence, but most of that spending came last year.

IN-05: State Rep. Chuck Goodrich's new commercial for next month's GOP primary utilizes material from a 2022 Politico article to argue that Rep. Victoria Spartz is an abusive boss. "Manic behavior," says the narrator, continuing, "She yells and curses, calling them morons and idiots." The spot goes on, "Victoria Spartz's behavior is embarrassing. We don't need politicians who lie and disrespect employees and lack the temperament for public service."

IN-08: Former Rep. John Hostettler is getting some welcome outside support from Protect Freedom PAC, which is airing commercials starring Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. There is no word yet as to how much the PAC is spending to promote Hostettler, who has been on the receiving end of at least $1.75 million in attacks from a trio of super PACs. Hostettler's campaign, according to AdImpact data from Howey Politics, had not run any TV ads for the May 7 GOP primary as of April 5.

Paul uses the ad to tout Hostettler as someone who will resist "the politicians that are destroying America," a crowd that, according to footage shown on-screen, includes Paul's home state colleague, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Paul was elected to the upper chamber four years after Hostettler lost reelection in the 2006 blue wave, but his father, then-Texas Rep. Ron Paul, and Hostettler were part of a small group of House Republicans who opposed the Iraq War. The elder Paul went on to endorse Hostettler's failed 2010 Senate primary campaign.

NH-02: State Sen. Becky Whitley announced Sunday that she would run to succeed retiring Rep. Annie Kuster, a fellow Democrat. Whitley says she's raised $100,000 for her bid in her first week since forming an exploratory committee earlier this month.

Whitley, who has worked as a disability rights lawyer, joined the legislature in 2020 after winning a safely blue Senate seat, but she first had to get past a familiar name in the primary. To earn the nomination, she scored a 41-33 victory over former Rep. Paul Hodes, who was seeking a comeback a decade after his failed bid for the U.S. Senate.

WMUR wrote earlier this month that Whitley, who is a member of the Judiciary Committee, has since "been on the legislative front lines" in battles to safeguard abortion rights. She joins a September primary that includes former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern, who has Kuster's endorsement.

But two would-be Democratic candidates, state Reps. Angela Brennan and Rebecca McWilliams, each said this week they'd seek to replace Whitley in the state Senate rather than run for Congress.

Mayors & County Leaders

Baltimore, MD Mayor: OpinionWorks shows incumbent Brandon Scott edging out former Mayor Sheila Dixon 38-35 in the May 14 Democratic primary, with former federal prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah far back at 10%. The survey was conducted for FOX45 News, the Baltimore Sun, and the University of Baltimore.

The only other independent poll we've seen of Baltimore's mayoral race this year was a Braun Research survey released last week on behalf of Goucher College and The Baltimore Banner, which gave Scott a larger 40-32 edge over Dixon. (Vignarajah was similarly situated at 11%.) It only takes a plurality to secure the Democratic nomination, which is tantamount to election in this dark blue city.

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These former Trump voters are determined to stop him. Here’s how

President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and their surrogates need to focus their time and resources on consolidating the Democratic base and touting the president’s accomplishments in office. Yet anti-Trump Republicans also have work to do when it comes to building support for Biden.

A group of anti-Trump Republicans are launching their second “Republican Voters Against Trump” campaign against the former president, planning to spend $50 million and use homemade testimonial videos from voters who supported Trump in one of both of his previous campaigns—but cannot vote for him in 2024.

Donald Trump clinched the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday, despite his two impeachments and four criminal indictments. His true Achilles’ heel will be the significant number of Republican voters who refuse to support him. 

Sarah Longwell, president and founder of the Republican Accountability PAC, issued this statement about the campaign:

“Former Republicans and Republican-leaning voters hold the key to 2024, and reaching them with credible, relatable messengers is essential to re-creating the anti-Trump coalition that made the difference in 2020.

“It establishes a permission structure that says that—whatever their complaints about Joe Biden—Donald Trump is too dangerous and too unhinged to ever be president again. Who better to make this case than the voters who used to support him?”

The campaign released this 67-second video accompanying the launch.

A significant number of Republicans might be open to such a campaign. They include supporters of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, whose strongest performance came in cities, college towns, and suburbs, and particularly among college-educated voters, according to CNN.

Haley won Vermont (50%) and Washington, D.C. (63%), and received more than 30% of the vote in New Hampshire, Virginia, South Carolina, Utah, Colorado, and Massachusetts. Haley also got 570,000 votes in three key swing states: Nevada, North Carolina, and Michigan, Reuters reported.

Remember how close the 2020 election actually was? Although Biden received 7 million more votes, just a small shift in votes could have given Trump the Electoral College victory.

According to a Council on Foreign Relations report, if Trump had picked up 42,921 votes in Arizona (10,457), Georgia (11,779), and Wisconsin (20,682), plus the one electoral vote in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, which he lost to Biden by 22,091 votes, he would have won the Electoral College outright. If he’d lost Nebraska’s 2nd, the House would have then decided the election. Republicans held the majority of state delegations in the newly inaugurated Congress, and they undoubtedly would have chosen Trump.

However, Haley dropped out of the race last week, leaving no opposition for Trump. Yet in Tuesday’s primaries, she still received nearly 78,000 votes in Georgia—far more than the number of votes Trump asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” in order to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory in the state. Haley also got 21% of the vote in Washington state.

It’s not yet known how much of Tuesday’s Haley support came from early votes cast before she quit the race, but in Georgia, The New York Times estimates that “less than 5%” of Election Day votes were cast for her. Protest votes for sure—but the reality is that over 13% of Peach State voters chose Haley—when they had her as a choice and when they didn’t. 

Haley declined to endorse Trump when she dropped out of the race, saying instead that “it is now up to Donald Trump to earn the votes of those in our party and beyond who did not support him.” She added that “politics is about bringing people into your cause, not turning them away.”

And while Trump invited Haley supporters to join his right-wing MAGA movement, he also bashed many of her supporters as “Radical Left Democrats.”

Biden seized on the opportunity and commended Haley for being “willing to speak the truth about Donald Trump.”

“Donald Trump made it clear he doesn’t want Nikki Haley’s supporters. I want to be clear: There is a place for them in my campaign,” Biden said in a statement. “I know there is a lot we won’t agree on. But on the fundamental issues of preserving American democracy, on standing up for the rule of law, on treating each other with decency and dignity and respect, on preserving NATO and standing up to America’s adversaries, I hope and believe we can find common ground.”

Polls indicate that Biden could gain support among Haley voters. An Emerson College poll released after Haley quit the race found that 63% of her supporters back Biden and just 27% support Trump, with 10% undecided, The Hill reported.

A Washington Post/Quinnipiac University poll saw slightly different results.

Recent polling from Quinnipiac University found that about half of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters who supported Haley would vote for Trump, while 37 percent would vote for Biden. Twelve percent said they would abstain, vote for someone else or hadn’t yet decided what to do.

It’s clear that there’s room for Republican Voters Against Trump to break through. Longwell said her PAC has already raised $20 million and hopes to raise another $30 million before the November election, Forbes reported. Major donors include several anti-Trump billionaires—Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and a major Democratic donor; Seth Klarman, who runs the Boston-based Baupost hedge fund, and John Pritzker, a member of the family that founded the Hyatt hotel brand.

The RVAT campaign plans to deploy ads on television, streaming, radio, billboards, and digital media in critical swing states, focusing on Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Longwell is a longtime Republican strategist and former national board chair of the Log Cabin Republicans, the conservative LGBTQ+ organization. She was among the early Never Trumpers, refusing to endorse him in 2016. In 2018, she became a co-founder of the anti-Trump conservative news and opinion website The Bulwark.

In an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Longwell said Republican Voters Against Trump is building on experiences from the 2020 presidential race. In the 2022 midterms, the group also campaigned against MAGA extremists like gubernatorial candidates Kari Lake in Arizona and Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania.  

In 2020, Longwell said the group first ran traditional attack ads that really beat up on Trump and went viral. But the ads actually turned off and failed to persuade the center-right Republican voters they were trying to reach.

They had more success running personal testimonials from former Trump supporters. Longwell said such testimonials created a “permission structure” which showed there was a community of people who identified themselves as Republicans but were also anti-Trump.

Longwell acknowledged that about 70% of the GOP has gone “full MAGA”—they believe the 2020 election was stolen, but the remaining 30% are persuadable. “Some of those people are going to go home to Trump … They are sort of always Republicans,” Longwell said on “Morning Joe.” 

“There is another group in that 30% that I think has already been voting for Joe Biden,” she added.

Then Longwell described a third group of right-leaning independents, or soft GOP voters, who are “double doubters.”

“They have a tough time voting for Democrats, but also don’t think Donald Trump is a Republican, not like the kind of Republicans of (Ronald) Reagan or John McCain or of Mitt Romney that they like, ...

”We think about this less like building a pro-Joe Biden coalition — because a lot of these people they don’t love Joe Biden — but what you can do is build an anti-Trump coalition.”  She added that the  goal is to get as many of them as possible to come around and vote for Biden.

Watch Longwell’s full MSNBC interview below.

The RVAT testimonials do not promote Biden’s record in office, and the issue of abortion rights isn’t raised. Instead, the videos focus entirely on attacking Trump.

There are a lot more ways to criticize Trump this time around than during the 2020 campaign: the Jan. 6 insurrection, the threat he poses to democracy as a wannabe dictator, his softness on Vladimir Putin and willingness to abandon Ukraine, his four criminal indictments, and his mental fitness to be president, just to name a few. That has led some of the Republican voters to say that Joe Biden is the first Democrat they’ve ever supported.

Here are two of the testimonials posted on X, formerly known as Twitter:

Ethan from Wisconsin voted for Donald Trump in 2020 but will support Joe Biden in 2024 because he believes Donald Trump is not fit to be president: “January 6 was the end of Donald Trump for me.” pic.twitter.com/O1WlStOec5

— Republican Voters Against Trump (@AccountableGOP) March 13, 2024

Eric from Louisiana is a former Trump voter who will never vote for him again: “Biden versus Trump 2.0. I don’t think that’s most people’s dream race, but it is the easiest choice I’ve ever had, and I was a long-time Republican who never considered voting Democrat.” pic.twitter.com/g5h9eYCpfj

— Republican Voters Against Trump (@AccountableGOP) March 13, 2024

Longwell, writing for The Bulwark, said what she’d like to see next is former Trump appointees step up and come out in force against him—beyond essays in elite news outlets like The Atlantic or in an occasional interview on CNN. These include Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, White House chief of staff John Kelly,  Attorney General William Barr, national security adviser John Bolton, and even Vice President Mike Pence. 

What we have here is a parade of high-level, serious people (whatever you think about their politics) who served the guy and all came to the same conclusion, independently: He’s nuts."

If we want to stop a Trump restoration and the promised MAGA dictatorship, it’s going to require building a coalition of people who understand the stakes. And there are no messengers better equipped to convey the peril of a Trump presidency than those who lived it firsthand, on the inside.

Longwell said that, based on focus groups she’s conducted of Republican voters, “the reason they seem unbothered by Trump’s autocratic tendencies is that a lot of them don’t know about them” (although some are “perfectly fine with it”). 

The people who served Trump directly need to go on the record, as loudly and frequently as possible, about exactly why he should never get near the White House again. … They could call this project Trump Officials Against Trump.”

[…]

We need former Trump officials—people of conscience, who have not acquiesced to the authoritarianism of it all—to stand as one and to speak plainly to the American people. Again and again, until every voter has heard their voices. … It’s time to go to work. Your country needs you.

In  the 1980 and 1984 campaigns, we heard a lot about so-called “Reagan Democrats.” It’s hard not to wonder: How many “Biden Republicans” might be out there in 2024? 

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The House GOP’s margin for error is on track to shrink to just one vote

Hah oh man! House Speaker Mike Johnson’s epic struggles to count votes and keep his caucus in line are about to get a whole lot rougher.

One of Johnson’s least-favorite members, Colorado Rep. Ken Buck, just announced that he’s resigning next week. How least-favorite? Johnson says that Buck—who had already said back in November that he wouldn’t seek reelection—didn’t even inform him ahead of time, reports Politico’s Olivia Beavers.

But intra-party hostilities aside, what matters most is how Buck’s departure affects Johnson’s math. In short, it’s not good.

At the moment, there are 219 Republicans in the House and 213 Democrats. This means that on any given vote, the GOP can afford a maximum of two defections. If three Republicans switch sides to join with Democrats on a particular roll call, then whatever is up for a vote dies, because a 216-216 tie is the same as a loss.

When Buck leaves, that margin will slip to 218-213. But on April 30, Democrats are the heavy favorites to regain one seat in the special election for upstate New York’s vacant 26th District, a solidly blue seat in the Buffalo area. That would take the House to 218-214, and then things get really interesting.

That’s because it would take just two Republicans to tank any vote as long as Democrats stick together, which they have with remarkable consistency. Once again, a 216-all tie sinks any GOP bill, resolution, impeachment—what have you.

In other words, Johnson’s magic number would shrink to exactly one vote. That is to say, if more than one Republican representative has some kind of grievance with the speaker, or the legislation being proposed, or just woke up grumpy that morning, then boom, dead, done. To the extent Johnson has any agenda he might hope to advance, it would take only two dissenters to derail it.

Now, there’s a possible wrinkle: The vacant seat that once belonged to the hapless pol Johnson succeeded as speaker—Kevin McCarthy—will also see a special election next week. However, if no one wins a majority of the vote, then there would be a runoff in late May. And there’s very good reason to think that’s exactly what will happen, because, following last week’s regularly scheduled primary, the first-place candidate (funny enough, a McCarthy protégé) is sitting on just 38% of the vote.

Of course, Johnson will still pray that McCarthy’s seat gets filled as quickly as possible, however poor the odds. Because the only thing worse is the math he’ll face if it doesn’t.

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