Morning Digest: A Supreme Court majority is on the line in Montana this fall

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

MT Supreme Court: Conservatives have a chance to take a majority on Montana's Supreme Court in November thanks to the retirements of two liberal justices. However, a high-profile battle looms as progressives seek to defend a court that has long stood as a defender of democracy and abortion rights.

The race to replace Mike McGrath as chief justice has drawn the most attention to date. Three candidates are running in Tuesday's officially nonpartisan primary, though each party has coalesced around a single choice. (The top two vote-getters will advance to a November faceoff.)

Democrats are united behind former federal Magistrate Judge Jerry Lynch while the Republican establishment is backing Broadwater County Attorney Cory Swanson. The third entrant, criminal defense attorney Doug Marshall, doesn't seem to be running a credible campaign (he's said he might vote for Swanson).

The contest to succeed Dirk Sandefur, an associate justice, is arrayed similarly. The two main candidates are both trial court judges: Judge Katherine Bidegaray, the consensus Democratic pick, serves five counties in the eastern part of the state, while Judge Dan Wilson, the top choice of Republicans, has jurisdiction in Flathead County in Montana's northwestern corner.

A former Republican state lawmaker, Jerry O'Neil, is also running, but he's currently challenging the state's eligibility rules because he's not a member of the bar.

The four top contenders have all banked similar sums, between about $80,000 and $100,000, as of the most recent fundraising reports that run through mid-May. (Marshall and O'Neil have reported raising almost nothing.) Those totals in part reflect Montana's relatively low donation caps, which top out at $790.

But outside spending is sure to dwarf whatever the candidates put in. In 2022, when just a single seat on the court was seriously contested, third parties on both sides combined to spend at least $3 million—a huge sum given the state's small population—and very likely more. (The Montana Free Press said that figure was "almost certainly an undercount" due to errors in campaign finance filings.)

In that race, Justice Ingrid Gustafson won reelection to an eight-year term by defeating conservative James Brown 54-46. That victory preserved the ideological balance on the court, which has generally been described as including three liberals, two conservatives, and two swing justices, including Gustafson.

Those two swing votes have played a crucial role in recent years, often joined with the liberal bloc. Most notably, in a 5-2 decision issued in 2022, the court barred Republican lawmakers from proceeding with a ballot measure that would have let them gerrymander the court itself.

The court has been more united on abortion rights, which are protected under a 1999 precedent known as the Armstrong decision. Two years ago, the justices unanimously upheld a lower court ruling that temporarily blocked a trio of anti-abortion bills passed by GOP lawmakers. And earlier this year, on a 6-1 vote, the court gave the green light to a ballot initiative that would enshrine the right to an abortion into the state constitution.

But a court with four conservatives could feel emboldened to revisit Armstrong, which is a major reason why reproductive rights advocates are pushing forward with their amendment.

The issue is also certain to be a focus in the races for both Supreme Court seats. Both Lynch and Bidegaray have spoken in favor of abortion rights, albeit less explicitly than some liberal judicial candidates in other states have.

At a campaign event last year, Lynch said that Montanans deserved to be "[f]ree from government interference, especially when it comes to reproductive rights." Bidegaray has been less direct, telling ABC News in March that she's running "to protect our democratic principles, which include the separation of powers and the unique rights provided by the 1972 Montana Constitution, including women's rights."

The leading conservatives, however, have sought to avoid the issue altogether. Wilson declined to comment to ABC, while Swanson demurred. "I don't believe it would be appropriate to discuss potential outcomes of future cases," he said.

The Downballot

It's right there in the name of the show, so yeah, of course we're gonna talk about downballot races on this week's episode of "The Downballot"! Specifically, we drill down into the top contests for attorney general and state supreme court taking place all across the country this year. Democrats and liberals are playing defense in Montana, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, but they have the chance to make gains in many states, including Michigan, Arizona, Ohio, and even Texas.

Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also recap Tuesday's runoffs in the Lone Star State, where a GOP congressman barely hung on against an odious "gunfluencer." They also dissect a new Supreme Court ruling out of South Carolina that all but scraps a key weapon Black voters have used to attack gerrymandering. And they preview New Jersey's first primaries in a post-"county line" world.

Subscribe to "The Downballot" wherever you listen to podcasts to make sure you never miss an episode. You'll find a transcript of this week's episode right here by Thursday afternoon. New episodes come out every Thursday morning!

Senate

AZ-Sen: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus' Bold PAC announced this week that it has reserved $1.1 million in TV, radio, and digital advertising for September to aid Democrat Ruben Gallego. "The statewide investment represents the first Spanish language reservations in the general election in this race and is the largest single independent expenditure in BOLD PAC’s 23 year history," the group said.

WI-Sen: A Senate Majority PAC affiliate has debuted a TV ad that attacks Republican Eric Hovde as a rich CEO whose bank "makes millions at seniors' expense" and "owns a nursing home being sued for elder abuse and wrongful death," citing a story from last month that the New York Times had first reported.

The commercial then plays a clip from a right-wing talk show appearance earlier in April where Hovde told the host that "almost nobody in a nursing home is in a point to vote" and insinuated without evidence that there was widespread voter fraud at Wisconsin nursing homes in the 2020 election.

Hovde's campaign has also unveiled new ads, with one spot covering generic far-right themes and cultural grievances. His second ad highlights his upbringing and family ancestry in Wisconsin to hit back against Democratic claims that he has mostly lived out-of-state for decades and spent most of his time in California before joining the race.

However, Hovde doesn't actually rebut those claims. After noting he graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1986, he only says he's had a business in the Madison area "for over 20 years" and his family currently lives there.

House

MI-08, DCCC: The DCCC announced Wednesday that it was adding Michigan state Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet to its Red to Blue program for top candidates even though, unlike the other four new inductees, she still has a contested primary to get through.

McDonald Rivet's main opponent in the Aug. 6 Democratic primary for the open and swingy 8th District is businessman Matt Collier, a former Flint mayor and Army veteran who has VoteVets' support. State Board of Education President Pamela Pugh is also running to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee, but she's struggled to raise money.

But while this is the first time that national Democratic leaders have publicly taken sides in the primary for this seat, which is based in the Flint and Tri-Cities areas, there were already indications that they wanted McDonald Rivet as their nominee. In its January article covering her entry into the race, the Detroit News wrote that party strategists viewed the state senator as a top recruit" they'd hoped to land.

Last year, Democratic consultant Adrian Hemond described her to the Daily Beast as the type of "solidly center-left Democrat" who can "play nice" with the district's large Catholic electorate, adding, "In terms of people who have a track record of winning tough elections in this area, Kristen McDonald Rivet is probably top of the list." McDonald Rivet since then has earned endorsements from EMILYs List and powerful labor organizations like the United Auto Workers and the state AFL-CIO.

The DCCC rarely adds candidates to Red to Blue unless they've already won their primary or it's clear that they'll have no trouble doing so, and that's the case for the other four new names on the list. The committee is backing former U.S. Department of Justice official Shomari Figures, who secured the nomination in April for Alabama's revamped 2nd District.

Also in the program are a pair of Democratic nominees who are challenging Republican incumbents in Pennsylvania: retired Army pilot Ashley Ehasz, who is taking on Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick in the 1st District, and former TV news anchor Janelle Stelson, who is going up against far-right incumbent Scott Perry in the 10th.

The final new name belongs to Wisconsin Democrat Peter Barca, who is trying to beat GOP Rep. Bryan Steil and reclaim the seat he last held three decades ago. Candidate filing doesn't close in the Badger State until June 3, but there's no indication that any other serious Democrats are interested in campaigning for the 1st District.

The only one of those seats with a contested GOP primary is also Michigan's 8th District, and the Republican nomination contest has already gotten nasty with more than two months to go.

Retired Dow Chemical Company executive Mary Draves on Tuesday began running ads attacking her main intra-party rival, 2022 nominee Paul Junge, about two weeks after he started airing commercials against her. Draves' narrator says that, while Junge publicly says he supports American jobs, he really "invested his inherited trust fund in, you guessed it, China. Not one dollar invested in Michigan jobs." The rest of the spot touts Draves as a loyal Donald Trump ally with a history of creating local jobs.

Junge has been promoting a very different narrative about Draves with advertising portraying her as a phony conservative who served on Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's "climate change council to push her green agenda."

Draves was the subject of an unwelcome headline later in the month when the Detroit News reported both that she'd donated to Democratic Sen. Gary Peters' 2020 reelection committee and that she'd contributed last October to McDonald Rivet's own political action committee.

Draves defended herself by arguing that 99% of the political donations she's made in the last 18 years went to help conservatives and that she shouldn't be admonished for these two outliers. "I made a symbolic contribution to Peters as he was supportive of our work at Dow," she said in a statement, adding, "A friend of mine was hosting an event for Rivet's state Legislature leadership PAC and had asked me to buy a ticket, so I did but did not attend."

Republican leaders may be content if primary voters accept this argument so they can avoid having Junge as their standard bearer again. The 2022 nominee lost to Kildee by an unexpectedly wide 53-43 margin two years after Joe Biden carried the 8th District by a small 50-48 spread, and Democrats would likely once again hammer Junge over his weak ties to the region. Unlike the DCCC, however, national GOP leaders have yet to take sides in their nomination contest.

MI-13: Former state Sen. Adam Hollier announced Wednesday that he had filed an appeal with Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson days after Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett determined that he'd failed to collect enough valid signatures to appear on the August Democratic primary ballot.

The Detroit News says it's not clear if the state Bureau of Elections will take up this matter before the Board of State Canvassers meets Friday to address the fate of other candidates who have been disqualified from the ballot. Hollier is Rep. Shri Thanedar's most serious intra-party opponent.

MO-01: AIPAC, the hawkish pro-Israel group, has launched its first TV ad to support St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell ahead of his Aug. 6 Democratic primary against Rep. Cori Bush. The commercial promotes Bell as a criminal justice reformer but does not mention Bush. AdImpact reports AIPAC has reserved at least $344,000 via its United Democracy Project super PAC.

NY-01: Former CNN anchor John Avlon has publicized endorsements from three members of New York's Democratic House delegation: Rep. Tom Suozzi, who represents a neighboring seat on Long Island, and New York City-based Reps. Dan Goldman and Greg Meeks. Avlon faces Nancy Goroff, who was the 2020 Democratic nominee for a previous version of the 1st District, in the June 25 primary to take on freshman GOP Rep. Nick LaLota.

NY-16: AIPAC's United Democracy Project has now spent roughly $8 million to support Westchester County Executive George Latimer's primary challenge against Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman, according to AdImpact data relayed by Politico's Emily Ngo. By contrast, Bowman's campaign has spent just $715,000 with just a month until the June 25 primary.

VA-07: Former National Security Council adviser Eugene Vindman has released an internal from Global Strategy Group that shows him decisively beating Prince William County Supervisor Andrea Bailey 43-10 in the June 18 Democratic primary for the open 7th District; another 32% are undecided, while the balance is split between three other candidates.

This is the first poll we've seen of the contest to succeed Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who is giving up this seat to concentrate on her 2025 run for governor. Vindman massively outraised the rest of the field through the end of March, and almost all of the outside spending on the Democratic side has been to support him.

WA-06: The Washington Public Employees Association this week endorsed state Sen. Emily Randall over the other leading Democrat, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, and its leaders made sure to highlight that it represents Franz's subordinates in the Department of Natural Resources.

The Washington Observer reported earlier this month that DNR staffers successfully urged another group, the Washington State Labor Council, to back Randall by citing "issues of worker safety and low morale" in their workplace. A third labor organization that represents DNR personnel, the Washington Federation of State Employees, also endorsed the state senator last month ahead of the Aug. 6 top-two primary.

Attorneys General

NC-AG, NC Supreme Court, NC Superintendent: The progressive group Carolina Forward has publicized the downballot portion of a mid-May poll it commissioned from Change Research, which finds narrow leads for Democratic candidates while many voters remain undecided.

In the race to succeed Democratic gubernatorial nominee Josh Stein as attorney general, Democratic Rep. Jeff Jackson posts a 43-40 edge over Republican colleague Dan Bishop. For the state Supreme Court, appointed Democratic Justice Allison Riggs is ahead 41-40 over Republican Jefferson Griffin, a judge on the state Court of Appeals.

For education superintendent, Democrat Moe Green is up by 42-39 over Republican Michele Morrow, a far-right conspiracy theorist who won her primary in an upset over GOP incumbent Catherine Truitt.

Carolina Forward had previously released the poll's results for the top of the ticket, where Trump led 45-43 in a two-way matchup and 41-38 in a three-way race with independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr. taking 11%. Stein held a 44-43 edge over far-right Republican Mark Robinson for governor.

Ballot Measures

MO Ballot: Republican Gov. Mike Parson on Tuesday set Aug. 6 as the date for a re-do of a 2022 state constitutional amendment that empowered the state legislature to require Kansas City to spend at least 25% of its general revenue on its police. Parson's move comes even though the state Supreme Court explicitly ordered this amendment appear before voters on Nov. 5 rather than on the summer primary ballot.

Statewide voters last cycle approved Amendment 4 by 63-37 even though it only impacts Kansas City, which is the only major city in America that doesn't have control over its own police force. Last month, though, the state's highest court ruled that a new vote was required because election officials had included a misleading fiscal summary that said the amendment "would have no fiscal impact when the fiscal note identified a sizeable one."

Legislatures

TX State House: Six state House Republicans lost their runoffs Tuesday even as Speaker Dade Phelan won renomination in an upset, and GOP Gov. Greg Abbott was quick to insist that he "now has enough votes" to pass his stalled plan to use taxpayer money to pay for private schools.

Abbott didn't bother to acknowledge that there are general elections in November, and the Texas Tribune's Jasper Scherer noted that Democrats are hoping to flip at least one of the seats the governor is already counting as a pickup for his cause.

That constituency is the 121st District in San Antonio, where Marc LaHood defeated Rep. Steve Allison in the March GOP primary. Democrat Laurel Jordan Swift will face LaHood in a district that, according to VEST data from Dave's Redistricting App, favored Donald Trump by a small 50-48 spread in 2020.

Ultimately, 15 Republican representatives lost renomination this year, though Abbott wasn't happy to see them all go. Attorney General Ken Paxton also used this year's primaries and runoffs to punish members who voted to impeach him for corruption last year, and he was sometimes on the opposite side of Abbott in key races.

One member who escaped Paxton's wrath, though, was Phelan, who narrowly defeated former Orange County Republican Party chair David Covey 50.7-49.3 in a contest where Abbott didn't take sides. (The only other sitting GOP representative to get forced into a runoff but survive was Gary VanDeaver, who beat an Abbott-backed foe.)

The attorney general characteristically responded to the 366-vote loss for Covey, who also sported endorsements from Donald Trump and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, by accusing Phelan of having "blatantly stolen" the election by encouraging Democratic voters to back him. Texas, notes Axios' Asher Price, does not have party registration.

Paxton also called for Republican representatives, who are all but certain to maintain their hefty majority in the gerrymandered chamber, to end Phelan's speakership next year. Rep. Tom Oliverson, who avoided casting a vote in Paxton's impeachment, announced his own bid for speaker in March, and he responded to Phelan's victory on Wednesday by proclaiming, "Campaign For Speaker Begins In Ernest."

Prosecutors & Sheriffs

Hillsborough County, FL State Attorney: Former State Attorney Andrew Warren this week publicized endorsements from several Tampa-area Democrats including Rep. Kathy Castor, who represents about 40% of Hillsborough County, ahead of the Aug. 20 primary.

Warren is trying to regain his old office from Republican incumbent Suzy Lopez, whom Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed in 2022 after permanently suspending Warren. First, though, Warren needs to win the Democratic primary against attorney Elizabeth Martinez Strauss, who hails from a prominent local legal family.

Strauss has stated that she believes that Warren was unfairly removed for, among other things, refusing to prosecute people who obtain or provide abortions. However, she's also argued that Warren is "a risky candidate" because DeSantis could just suspend him all over again. "Voters should have a choice and they may want a state attorney who can hold the job for more than 24 hours," Strauss told Florida Politics last month.  

Poll Pile

Ad Roundup

Campaign Action

Morning Digest: Democrats and Republicans unite to elect an independent as speaker … in Pennsylvania

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

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

PA State House: In a pair of true surprises, moderate Democrat Mark Rozzi was elected speaker of the Pennsylvania state House Tuesday just before he announced that he’d lead the chamber as an independent.

Rozzi, who will be the first non-aligned speaker in the history of the body, defeated Republican state Rep. Carl Metzgar 115-85 after Democratic leader Joanna McClinton threw her support behind him rather than submit her own name. Following that endorsement, the entire Democratic caucus supported Rozzi, while 16 Republicans crossed over to back him. Rozzi’s win comes after two months of uncertainty about which party would lead the chamber, though few observers guessed that the answer would be neither.

Democrats, including Rozzi, won 102 of the 203 seats in the House on Nov. 8, which appeared to set them up for their first majority since the 2010 GOP wave. However, Democrats could only claim 99 members because state Rep. Tony DeLuca was re-elected a month after he died, while fellow Pittsburgh-area Democrats Summer Lee and Austin Davis resigned weeks later to prepare to assume their new roles as congresswoman and lieutenant governor, respectively. Republicans therefore began Tuesday with a 101 to 99 advantage, but no one knew if that would be enough for the party to elect a speaker.

Indeed, a deadlock appeared certain after one Republican joined the Democratic caucus in voting to adjourn during the middle of the day―a tied vote that failed because the remaining 100 Republicans were opposed. Unexpectedly, though, multiple Republicans and Democrats soon nominated Rozzi, whose name hadn’t previously been seriously mentioned. Rozzi prevailed with the support of all of the Democrats and a minority of Republicans, including Bryan Cutler, who had been speaker going into November’s elections.

So, what happens next? First, there will almost certainly be a vacant GOP-held seat before long, as state Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver is the favorite to win the Jan. 31 special election for a dark red state Senate district. Culver’s 108th House District supported Donald Trump 65-33 in 2020, but her absence could deny her party a crucial vote in the closely divided lower chamber until a special election could take place. PennLive.com says such a race likely wouldn’t take place before May 16, which is the same date as Pennsylvania's regular statewide primary.

As for the three vacant Democratic constituencies, both parties agree that a Feb. 7 special will go forward in DeLuca’s HD-32, which went for Joe Biden 62-36. In Pennsylvania special elections, the parties, rather than voters, choose nominees: Democrats have selected local party official Joe McAndrew, while Republicans are fielding pastor Clay Walker.

There’s no agreement, however, about when the contests for Lee’s and Davis’ constituencies will take place. That’s because legislative special elections are scheduled by the leader of the chamber with the vacant seat, but there was no speaker between late November, when the last session ended, and Tuesday. That duty, as a result, fell to the majority leader, and both McClinton and Cutler claimed that title in December, issuing dueling writs of election: McClinton set these two specials to also take place on Feb. 7, while Cutler picked May 16.

Cutler filed a lawsuit to block McClinton’s schedule, but the Pennsylvania Department of State is going forward with February specials right now. There’s no question that Democrats will hold Lee’s HD-34, which Biden took 80-19, but the president pulled off a smaller 58-41 win in Davis’ HD-35.

Democrats in the former district have picked Swissvale Borough Council President Abigail Salisbury, who will go up against kickboxing instructor Robert Pagane. The Democratic nominee to succeed Davis is Matt Gergely, who serves as finance director for the community of McKeesport. Local Republicans are running Don Nevills, who lost to Davis 66-34 in November; Nevills himself has said in his social media posts that the special will be Feb. 7.

P.S. Rozzi’s win makes this the second time in the 21st century that Pennsylvania Democrats successfully maneuvered to stop Republicans from taking the speakership. In 2006, Democrats likewise won a 102-101 majority, but one of their members, Thomas Caltagirone, soon announced he’d cross party lines to keep Republican John Perzel on as speaker instead of electing Democrat Bill DeWeese. DeWeese, who was speaker in 1994 when Democrats last controlled the chamber, ended up nominating Republican Dennis O'Brien rather than put his name forward; O’Brien ultimately won 105-97.

Democrats secured a workable majority the following year, and Keith McCall became the party’s first, and to date only, speaker since DeWeese. In a strange twist, DeWeese and Perzel went on to become cellmates after being convicted in separate corruption cases. Incidentally, one House Democrat heavily involved in the plan to make O'Brien speaker was Josh Shapiro, now the governor-elect of Pennsylvania.

Senate

AZ-Sen: Doug Ducey, whose tenure as governor ended on Monday, said before Christmas he was "not running for the United States Senate" and that "it's not something I'm considering." And just like two years ago, Ducey's fellow Republicans are not taking this seemingly unequivocal statement as final: Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who is another Republican on Donald Trump's shit list, instead told The Hill, "I hope that he'll get in."

Former state Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson, who narrowly lost last year's primary to succeed Ducey, may be more interested in campaigning for the Senate seat held by Democrat-turned-independent Kyrsten Sinema. Vox's Christian Paz writes that Taylor Robson "told me she is not ruling out running for statewide office again," though it's not clear if the former regent said anything about the Senate in particular.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Ruben Gallego released late-December numbers from Public Policy Polling showing a tight race whether or not Sinema runs. The survey found Republican Kari Lake, who continues to deny her loss to now-Gov. Katie Hobbs, edging out Gallego 41-40, with Sinema grabbing 13%. When the incumbent is left out, however, it's Gallego who leads Lake 48-47. The congressman has made it clear he's likely to run, while NBC reported last month that Lake is trying to recruit Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb rather than campaign herself.

The poll was conducted days before The Daily Beast's Sam Brodey reported that Sinema's office had a 37-page guide for staffers that includes tasks that "appear to go right up to the line of what Senate ethics rules allow, if not over." Among other things, Brodey writes that Sinema requires her subordinates perform personal tasks for her, including arranging massages and buying groceries on their own dime, which she later reimburses them for.

The Senate's ethics handbook, though, specifies that "staff are compensated for the purpose of assisting Senators in their official legislative and representational duties, and not for the purpose of performing personal or other non-official activities for themselves or on behalf of others." Sinema's spokesperson told Brodey that "the alleged information—sourced from anonymous quotes and a purported document I can't verify—is not in line with official guidance from Sen. Sinema's office and does not represent official policies of Sen. Sinema's office."

IN-Sen, IN-Gov: Bellwether Research released mid-December numbers before Christmas for the 2024 GOP primaries for the Senate and governor: The firm previously worked for former Gov. Mitch Daniels, who is a prospective Senate candidate, but a Daniels consultant tells Politico's Adam Wren that this survey was done without his knowledge.

The firm tested out hypothetical Senate scenarios with and without Daniels, who just completed his tenure as president of Purdue University. We'll start with the former matchup:

former Purdue University President Mitch Daniels: 32

Rep. Jim Banks: 10

former Rep. Trey Hollingsworth: 9

Rep. Victoria Spartz: 7

Attorney General Todd Rokita: 7

Someone Else: 6

In the Daniels-free scenario, Rokita leads Banks 16-14 as Spartz and Hollingsworth grab 12% and 11%, respectively.

Spartz herself quickly publicized her own numbers from Response:AI that put Daniels in front with 35% as she and Banks deadlocked 14-14 for second. That survey placed Hollingsworth at 6% while two people who were not tested by Bellwether, 2022 House nominee Jennifer-Ruth Green and disgraced former Attorney General Curtis Hill, took 4% and 2%. Wren recently named Hill, whom we hadn't heard mentioned for Senate, as a possible candidate, though there's been no sign yet that he's thinking about campaigning.

None of the other Republicans tested in either poll are currently running for the Senate either, and Daniels' ultimate decision may deter some of them from getting in. Indeed, an unnamed person close to Spartz told Politico that she may decide not to go up against the former governor: The congresswoman, writes Wren, "declined to comment on that question, but told POLITICO she is seeking a meeting with Daniels before making her decision."

A Banks ally, though, insists his man "won't make his decision based on what others do and I think the poll numbers released by Daniels and Spartz will only embolden him to run."

Bellwether also posted numbers for the GOP race to succeed termed-out Gov. Eric Holcomb:

Sen. Mike Braun: 25

Attorney General Todd Rokita: 9

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch: 7

former Rep. Trey Hollingsworth: 6

Businessman Eric Doden: 3

Someone Else: 9

Braun, Crouch, and Doden are currently running.

Governors

KY-Gov: State Rep. Savannah Maddox announced days before Christmas that she was dropping out of the packed May Republican primary to face Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear.

An unnamed GOP source soon told the Lexington Herald Leader they believed Maddox's departure means that Papa John's founder John Schnatter "could get in the race, since he's got the resources and with Savannah not in the race it could open up a lane." Schnatter, who resigned as board chairman in 2018 after news broke that he'd used racist language, has not taken any obvious steps toward running ahead of Friday's filing deadline.

Self-funder Kelly Craft, meanwhile, is not waiting until the field fully takes shape to go up with the first TV campaign ad of the contest, which the paper says ran for $114,000 from Dec. 27 to Jan. 3. Craft uses the message to tout her roots growing up on a farm in Barren County in the south-central party of the state, and she goes on to tout how she went on to become ambassador to the United Nations. The ad shows photos of Craft with Donald Trump, who is supporting Attorney General Daniel Cameron for the GOP nod.  

MS-Gov: The Daily Journal reported before Christmas that Secretary of State Michael Watson is indeed considering taking on Gov. Tate Reeves in this August's Republican primary. Watson and other potential contenders have until the Feb. 1 filing deadline to make up their minds, but there's one name we can already cross off. While former state Rep. Robert Foster, who took third in 2019, reportedly was thinking about another campaign over the summer, he announced last week that he'd instead run for a seat on the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors.

NC-Gov, NC-??: The conservative Washington Examiner relayed in mid-December that former Rep. Mark Walker is considering seeking the Republican nomination for governor or to return to the House after his party crafts a new gerrymander. Walker last cycle campaigned for the Senate even though Donald Trump tried to persuade him to drop down and run for the lower chamber, but he earned just 9% of the primary vote for his stubbornness.

House

MD-05: Veteran Rep. Steny Hoyer told CNN Sunday that he hadn't ruled out seeking re-election in 2024 even though he's no longer part of the Democratic leadership. "I may. I may," the incumbent said about waging another run.

MD-08: Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin said last week that he'd "been diagnosed with Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma, which is a serious but curable form of cancer." Raskin added that he was "about to embark on a course of chemo-immunotherapy on an outpatient basis," and that "[p]rognosis for most people in my situation is excellent after four months of treatment." The congressman also said he planned to keep working during this time, and he was present Tuesday for the opening of the 118th Congress.  

NY-03: At this point in the George Santos saga, his entirely fictional life story is almost beside the point: When he's called on any of his lies, he just lies some more—it's pathological. But that same reckless behavior is also why the new Republican congressman-to-be is in serious legal jeopardy, at the local, state, federal, and, amazingly, international levels. And because of that, he's exceedingly unlikely to serve out a full term. So what happens if he resigns?

In short, there would be a special election, but in a break with past practice, we'd immediately know when it would take place—and it would happen quickly. Governors in New York previously had wide latitude over when to call elections to fill vacant posts, both for Congress and state legislature, and disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo notoriously abused this power, frequently delaying specials when it suited him.

But in 2021, as state law expert Quinn Yeargain explains, lawmakers finally passed legislation to correct this problem, which Cuomo signed shortly before resigning. Now, Gov. Kathy Hochul would be required to call a special election within 10 days of Santos' seat becoming vacant, and that election would have to take place 70 to 80 days afterward. This law has already come into play multiple times, including for two congressional special elections that took place last year.

One thing hasn't changed, though: There still would be no primaries. Instead, as per usual, nominations for Democrats and Republicans alike would be decided by small groups of party insiders. The actual election would, however, be hotly contested. While Joe Biden would have carried New York's 3rd District, which is based on the North Shore of Long Island, by a 54-45 margin, according to our calculations, Republican Lee Zeldin almost certainly won it in last year's race for governor. Santos dispatched Democrat Robert Zimmerman 52-44 after Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi left the seat open to pursue his own unsuccessful gubernatorial bid.

NY-17: Former Rep. Mondaire Jones told NY1 before Christmas that he was not ruling out seeking the Democratic nomination to take on the new Republican incumbent, Mike Lawler. Jones unsuccessfully decided to run in New York City last year in order to avoid a primary against DCCC Chair Sean Patrick Maloney, who himself went on to lose to Lawler, but he made it clear a future campaign would take place in the area he'd represented. "I've also learned my lesson, and that is home for me is in the Hudson Valley," Jones said.

VA-04: Jennifer McClellan beat her fellow state senator, conservative Joe Morrissey, in an 85-14 landslide to win the Democratic nomination in the Dec. 19 firehouse primary to succeed the late Rep. Donald McEachin. McClellan should have no trouble defeating Republican nominee Leon Benjamin, who badly lost to McEachin in 2020 and 2022, in the Feb. 21 special election for this 67-32 Biden seat; McClellan's win would make her the first Black woman to represent Virginia in Congress.

WA-03: Democrats will still have election conspiracy theorist Joe Kent to kick around this cycle, as the 2022 GOP nominee declared before Christmas, "I'm running again in 2024."

DCCC: House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries announced ahead of Christmas that the new DCCC chair would be Rep. Suzan DelBene, who represents a Washington seat that Joe Biden carried 64-33. Jeffries' decision came weeks after House Democrats voted 166-38 to give the caucus' leader the opportunity to select the head of the DCCC rather than have the chair be elected by the full body. The new rule still requires members approve the choice, and they ratified DelBene two days after she was picked.

Attorneys General and Secretaries of State

AZ-AG: Democrat Kris Mayes' narrow win over election denier Abe Hamadeh was affirmed after a recount concluded last week, and Mayes was sworn in as attorney general on Monday. The Democrat's margin dropped from 511 to 280 votes; most of this difference came from dark red Pinal County, which said it had initially failed to count over 500 ballots because of "human error." Hamadeh characteristically refused to accept his defeat and announced Tuesday he was "filing a 'Motion for New Trial.'"

Judges

NY Court of Appeals: Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul nominated Hector LaSalle, an appeals court judge, to fill the vacant post of chief judge on New York's highest court just before the holidays, but her decision was immediately met with fierce resistance by state senators in her own party, 14 of whom have already publicly come out against the choice.

LaSalle, who was named to the Appellate Division by disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2014, has compiled what City & State described as one of the "most conservative" records of any appellate judge in the state. Progressives have raised serious alarms over his hostility toward criminal defendants, labor unions, and especially reproductive rights: A group of law professors have pointed to a 2017 decision LaSalle signed on to that helped shield a network of so-called "crisis pregnancy centers" (which try to dissuade women from getting abortions) from an investigation by the state attorney general.

At stake is more than LaSalle's promotion, though: The seven-member top court, known as the Court of Appeals, has for several years been in the grips of a reactionary four-judge majority that has ruled against victims of police misconduct, workers seeking compensation for injuries on the job, and tenants who'd been overcharged by their landlords. Most notoriously, this quartet—all appointed by Cuomo—struck down new congressional and legislative maps passed by Democratic lawmakers last year on extremely questionable grounds and ordered that a Republican judge in upstate New York redraw them.

Leading this coalition was Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, who unexpectedly announced her resignation last year. That vacancy has given Hochul the chance to reshape the court, but instead she's tapped someone who appears poised to continue DiFiore's legacy. But while judicial confirmations in New York are normally sleepy affairs, a large number of senators—who'd be responsible for voting on LaSalle's nomination—immediately denounced the choice.

That chorus of opposition hit a crucial threshold shortly before the New Year when state Sen. Mike Gianaris, a member of leadership, became the 11th Democrat to say he would vote against LaSalle. With 42 Democrats in the 63-member upper chamber but only 28 still open to Hochul's pick, the governor would now have to rely on the support of Republicans to confirm LaSalle. None, however, have yet come out in favor.

There's no definite timeline for confirmation hearings or a vote on LaSalle's nomination, but if Hochul were to withdraw his name, she'd be able to choose from a list of six other candidates vetted by the state's Commission on Judicial Nomination. A coalition of progressive groups previously endorsed three individuals on that list while calling three others, including LaSalle, "unacceptable" (a seventh option was unrated). If instead LaSalle were voted down by the Senate, the entire process would start over again, with the commission once again reviewing potential candidates.

WI Supreme Court: Judge Everett Mitchell, a progressive candidate for an open seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court this spring, was accused by his then-wife of sexual assault during their 2010 divorce proceeding, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Dan Bice reported on Tuesday. Mitchell was never charged with any wrongdoing and has denied the allegations, while his ex-wife, Merrin Guice Gill said her former spouse "should be evaluated on the work he has done and the work he is doing as a judge" rather than on her past accusations.

However, Guice Gill "declined to say whether she stood by the abuse allegations," telling Bice, "I'm not going to respond to that." During her divorce, Bice writes that she told the court that Mitchell had "undressed her and had sex with her without consent shortly after she took a sleeping pill" in 2007 and also provided documents showing she had informed both her therapist and a police officer about the alleged incident shortly afterwards. The accusations came up when she contacted police about a possible custody dispute involving the couple's daughter, but she declined to press charges, saying that she "was only concerned with her daughter's whereabouts."

Mitchell is one of two liberals seeking a spot on the Supreme Court, along with Judge Janet Protasiewicz. Two conservatives are also running, former Justice Dan Kelly and Judge Jennifer Dorow. All candidates will appear together on an officially nonpartisan primary ballot on Feb. 21, with the top two vote-getters advancing to an April 4 general election. The seat in question is being vacated by conservative Justice Pat Roggensack; should progressives win, they'd take control of the court from the current 4-3 conservative majority.

Legislatures

AK State House: A judge ruled ahead of Christmas that far-right state Rep. David Eastman's membership in the Oath Keepers does not preclude him from serving in elected office even though the state constitution prevents anyone from holding office who "advocates, or who aids or belongs to any party or association which advocates the overthrow by force or violence of the United States."

Goriune Dudukgian, the attorney representing an Eastman constituent who sued to block him from holding office, said Tuesday his camp would not appeal. No one has formed a majority coalition in the Alaska State House in the almost two months since the election.

NY State Senate: Democrats learned ahead of Christmas that they'd maintained a two-thirds supermajority in the upper chamber after a judge ruled that incumbent John Mannion had fended off Republican Rebecca Shiroff by 10 votes in his Syracuse-based seat. Shiroff conceded the contest, and Mannion's term began New Year's Day.

OH State House: While Democrats are deep in the minority in the Ohio state House, the caucus joined with enough GOP members on Tuesday to elect Republican Jason Stephens as speaker over Derek Merrin, who began the day as the heavy favorite to lead the chamber. Cleveland.com's Jeremy Pelzer writes, "Stephens, while conservative, is not considered to be as far to the right as Merrin."

The GOP enjoys a 67-32 majority, so a Merrin speakership appeared likely after he won November's caucus vote against Stephens. Pelzer writes that in the ensuing weeks there were "rumblings since then about some sort of challenge to Merrin," but that "the insurgency to lift him to the speaker's chair only picked up speed starting a few days ago."

Indeed, Minority Leader Allison Russo says Democrats decided just two hours before the vote to cast their lot in with Stephens. Another 22 Republicans joined them, however, which left Merrin with only 43 votes. Russo, whose caucus supplied most of the support for the new speaker, declared that there was "no grand deal," but "there were lots of discussions about things and areas of agreement on issues." She also relays that Merrin spoke to her about getting Democratic support, which very much did not end up happening.

This is the second time in the last few years that the Democratic minority has played a key role in helping a Republican win the gavel over the candidate favored by most of the GOP caucus, though Merrin himself was on the other side of that vote. In 2019, he was one of the 26 Republicans who joined that same number of Democrats in supporting Larry Householder over Speaker Ryan Smith. Unlike four years ago, though, Smith got the backing of 11 Democrats as well as 34 GOP members.

Stephens, for his part, was appointed to the chamber later that year to succeed none other than Smith, who resigned to become president of the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College. The victorious Householder, though, was removed as speaker in 2020 after being arrested on federal corruption charges; Householder's colleagues expelled him the following year, though Merrin voted to keep him in office.

WI State Senate: Former state Sen. Randy Hopper ended his brief comeback campaign days after Christmas and endorsed state Rep. Dan Knodl in the Feb. 21 Republican special election primary.

Mayors and County Leaders

Chicago, IL Mayor: The Chicago Electoral Board in late December removed two minor contenders, police officer Frederick Collins and freelance consultant Johnny Logalbo, from the Feb. 28 nonpartisan primary ballot after determining that they didn't have enough valid signatures to advance. However, challenges were dropped against activist Ja'Mal Green, Alderman Roderick Sawyer, and wealthy perennial candidate Willie Wilson, so they will be competing in what is now a nine-person race.

Prosecutors and Sheriffs

Philadelphia, PA District Attorney: Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Court ruled Friday that state House Republicans failed to demonstrate any of the legally required standards for "misbehavior in office" when they voted to impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner in November. The order, though, did not say if Krasner's trial before the state Senate, which is scheduled for Jan. 18, must be called off.

Obituaries

Lincoln Almond: Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Almond, a Republican who served from 1995 to 2003, died Tuesday at the age of 86. Almond, who made his name as the state's U.S. attorney, badly lost the 1978 general election to Democratic incumbent Joseph Garrahy, but he prevailed 16 years later by defeating state Sen. Myrth York in a close contest. You can find much more at WPRI's obituary.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: Former Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy III was chosen before Christmas to serve as the State Department's special envoy for economic affairs for Northern Ireland. Kennedy, who is the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, was elected to the House in 2012 and left to unsuccessfully challenge Sen. Ed Markey in the 2020 Democratic primary.

Morning Digest: Shock Democratic win in New York special is latest data point suggesting no red wave

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

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Leading Off

NY-19 (special): Democrat Pat Ryan scored a huge special election upset for his party by defeating Republican Marc Molinaro 52-48 in New York’s 19th District, a swing seat in the Hudson Valley that Molinaro appeared poised to flip until polls closed on Tuesday. The win for Ryan, an Army veteran who serves as Ulster County executive and made abortion rights the centerpiece of his campaign, is the latest―and most dramatic― sign that the political landscape has shifted since the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade at the end of June.

Joe Biden carried this constituency 50-48 (the special was fought under the old congressional map), but until results started rolling in, both parties had behaved as though Molinaro was the strong favorite. Molinaro, who leads Dutchess County, defeated then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo by a wide 53-42 in the 19th in 2018 even as Cuomo was prevailing statewide in a 60-36 landslide. That strong local performance motivated national Republicans to try to recruit Molinaro to take on Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado in 2020, and while he declined that cycle, he eventually bit on a campaign last year.

But that anticipated Delgado-Molinaro bout was averted in the spring when the congressman resigned after Gov. Kathy Hochul appointed him as lieutenant governor―a career switch Republicans argued was motivated by Delgado’s wariness about his re-election prospects. The unexpected special election seemed to be good news indeed for Molinaro, who began with a months-long head start over his eventual Democratic rival at a time when a GOP wave looked imminent.

Ryan, who had lost the 2018 primary to Delgado, quickly closed much of the financial gap he faced by the end of June, but he still looked like the decided underdog. Even a late June internal poll for Ryan taken days after Roe was repealed showed him down 43-40. However, the same survey found that the Democrat could turn things around by hammering home Molinaro’s opposition to abortion rights. Ryan did just that in ad after ad, while Molinaro and the GOP continued to emphasize inflation and crime while ignoring reproductive rights.

Still, Democrats remained pessimistic about Ryan’s chances. While the NRCC and the Congressional Leadership Fund spent a combined $1.8 million here, the DCCC limited its involvement to running some joint buys with their nominee. (We won’t know how much the committee spent until new fundraising reports are out in late September.) The progressive veterans group VoteVets, however, dropped $500,000 to help Ryan with an ad campaign declaring that the candidate, who served in Iraq, "sure didn't fight for our freedom abroad to see it taken away from women here at home.”

But it still didn’t seem to be enough: An early August DCCC poll found Molinaro leading 46-43—that same stubborn 3-point margin—while the Democratic firm Data for Progress released its own poll on Election Day giving him an even larger 53-45 edge. Tuesday’s upset, though, validated Ryan’s tight focus on abortion rights―a strategy fellow Democrats have deployed in other races across the country.

Both Ryan and Molinaro will be on the ballot again in November under the new court-drawn congressional map, but they won’t be facing each other this time. The new congressman is Team Blue’s nominee for the redrawn 18th District in the Lower Hudson Valley, turf that, at 53-45 Biden, is several points to the left of the constituency he just won. Ryan, who will represent just under 30% of the new district, will go up against Republican Assemblyman Colin Schmitt this time.

Molinaro himself will be competing in the new 19th District, a seat in the southeastern part of upstate New York that also would have gone for Biden by a larger spread, in this case 51-47. About 42% of the new 19th’s residents live in the district Molinaro just lost, but importantly, none of his home county of Dutchess is contained in the district. Molinaro’s opponent will be attorney Josh Riley, who claimed Team Blue’s nomination on Tuesday and will have the chance to deal the county executive his second straight defeat of the year in just a few months. 

election recaps

 Election Night: Below is a state-by-state look at where Tuesday’s other major contests stood as of early Wednesday, and you can also find our cheat-sheet here. Note that New York allows absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day to be counted if they’re received through Aug. 30, so some of the margins in the Empire State may change.

 FL-Gov (D): Rep. Charlie Crist defeated state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried 60-35 in the Democratic primary to take on GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis. Crist, who was elected governor in 2006 as a Republican and narrowly lost the 2014 general election to reclaim his prior post following his party switch, will be in for a tough fight against DeSantis, who begins the general election with a massive $132 million war chest.

 FL-01 (R): Rep. Matt Gaetz prevailed 70-24 against Mark Lombardo, a self-funder who ran ads reminding viewers that the incumbent remains under federal investigation for sex trafficking of a minor and other alleged offenses. Gaetz will likely be secure in November no matter what happens next in a Pensacola area constituency that Trump would have taken 65-33.

 FL-04 (R & D): State Senate President Pro Tempore Aaron Bean defeated Navy veteran Erick Aguilar 68-26 in the GOP primary for an open Jacksonville area seat that Trump would have carried 53-46.

On the Democratic side, businesswoman LaShonda Holloway leads former state Sen. Tony Hill 50.2-49.8 with 58,000 votes counted, which the AP, which has not yet called the race, estimates is 99% of the total. Both of Team Blue’s candidates have struggled to bring in cash here, and neither national party has shown an obvious interest in it.  

 FL-07 (R): Army veteran Cory Mills beat state Rep. Anthony Sabatini 34-21 in the GOP primary to succeed Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat who decided to retire just before the GOP transfigured her suburban Orlando district from a 55-44 Biden seat to one Trump would have carried 52-47.

Mills notably ran commercials where he bragged that his company’s tear gas was used on what the on-screen text labeled as "Hillary Clinton protesters," "left wing protesters," "antifa rioters," "Black Lives Matter protesters," and "radical left protesters." The Republican nominee will face Karen Green, a state Democratic official who hasn’t raised much money so far.  

 FL-10 (D): Gun safety activist Maxwell Alejandro Frost won the 10-way primary to replace Democratic Senate nominee Val Demings by defeating state Sen. Randolph Bracy 35-25; two former House members, Alan Grayson and Corrine Brown, took 15% and 9%, respectively. Biden would have won this Orlando-based seat 65-33.

Frost, who is 25, will almost certainly be the youngest member of Congress come January. His primary win also represents a victory for the crypto-aligned Protect Our Future PAC, which spent about $1 million to aid him.

 FL-11 (R): Rep. Dan Webster held off far-right troll Laura Loomer only 51-44 in one of the biggest surprises of the night.

Loomer, a self-described "proud Islamophobe" who is banned on numerous social media, rideshare, and payment services, characteristically reacted to her near-miss by refusing to concede and spreading conspiracy theories about the primary. Trump would have carried this constituency in the western Orlando suburbs, which includes the gargantuan retirement community of The Villages, 55-44.

 FL-13 (R): 2020 nominee Anna Paulina Luna, who has the backing of Donald Trump and the Club for Growth, earned the GOP nod again by beating attorney Kevin Hayslett 44-34 after an expensive and nasty contest. The Democratic pick to succeed Rep. Charlie Crist is former Department of Defense official Eric Lynn, who is defending a St. Petersburg-based district that the Republicans transformed from a 52-47 Biden seat to one Trump would have taken 53-46.

 FL-14 (R): Public relations firm owner James Judge trounced self-funding businessman Jerry Torres 53-30 just days after a court rejected a lawsuit that tried to keep Torres off the ballot. Judge will be the underdog against Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor in this 59-40 Biden seat in Tampa and St. Petersburg.

 FL-15 (R & D): Former Secretary of State Laurel Lee outpaced state Sen. Kelli Stargel 41-28 in the Republican primary for a new district in the Tampa suburbs that was created because Florida won a new seat in reapportionment. This constituency would have backed Trump 51-48.

The Democratic nominee will be former local TV anchor Alan Cohn, who routed political consultant Gavin Brown 33-22. Cohn lost the 2020 contest for the previous version of the 15th to Republican Scott Franklin 55-45 as Trump was taking that seat by a similar 54-45 margin; Franklin is now seeking the new 18th.

 FL-20 (D): Freshman Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick decisively won her rematch with former Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, whom she defeated by all of five votes in last year's crowded special election, 66-29. This constituency, which is located in the inland Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach areas, is safely blue at 76-23 Biden.

 FL-23 (D): Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz turned back Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Ben Sorensen 61-21. Moskowitz should have no trouble succeeding retiring Rep. Ted Deutch in a Fort Lauderdale-based seat that Biden would have carried 56-43.

 FL-27 (D): State Sen. Annette Taddeo, who had the support of the DCCC and other national Democrats, beat Miami Commissioner Ken Russell 68-26 for the nod to take on freshman Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar. The GOP sought to protect the new incumbent by shifting her Miami-area seat to the right: While Biden carried the old 27th 51-48, Trump would have taken the new version 50-49.

 OK-Sen-B (R): Rep. Markwayne Mullin, who had Donald Trump’s endorsement for the runoff, bested former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon in a 65-35 runoff landslide.

Mullin will be the frontrunner against former Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn in the general election to succeed Sen. Jim Inhofe, whose resignation takes effect at the end of this Congress, in one of the reddest states in the nation. (That’s not entirely welcome news to Inhofe, who recently told Read Frontier, “Markwayne and I, we have problems.”) Mullin, who is a member of the Cherokee Nation, would be the first Native American to serve in the Senate since Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a Colorado Democrat turned Republican, retired in 2005.

 OK-02 (R): Former state Sen. Josh Brecheen edged out state Rep. Avery Frix 52-48 after a very expensive GOP runoff to succeed Markwayne Mullin in this dark red Eastern Oklahoma seat. A PAC affiliated with the Club for Growth spent over $3.4 million to promote Brecheen, who is a former Club fellow, while Frix had extensive support from his own outside group allies.

 NY-01 (R): Nick LaLota, who serves as chief of staff of the Suffolk County Legislature, beat cryptocurrency trader Michelle Bond 47-28 in the primary to replace Rep. Lee Zeldin, the GOP nominee for governor. The wealthy Bond and her allies (including a PAC that just happens to be funded by her boyfriend, crypto notable Ryan Salame), far outspent LaLota, but he had the support of the county’s Republican and Conservative parties.

LaLota will now go up against Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming, who had the Democratic primary to herself. While Trump won the old 1st 51-47, Biden would have carried the new version of this eastern Long Island constituency by a narrow 49.4-49.2.

 NY-02 (R): Freshman Rep. Andrew Garbarino turned in an unexpectedly weak 54-38 victory over an unheralded Army and Navy veteran named Robert Cornicelli. The challenger eagerly embraced the Big Lie, and he used his limited resources to remind voters that Garbarino voted for a Jan. 6 commission. Garbarino also supported the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill as well as legislation protecting same-sex and interracial marriage, which may have further damaged his standing with the base.

Garbarino will now face a rematch against Democrat Jackie Gordon, an Army veteran he defeated 53-46 in 2020 as Trump was taking the old 2nd 51-47. The redrawn version of this seat, which is based in the south shore of Suffolk County, would have gone for Trump by a smaller 50-49 margin.

 NY-03 (D): DNC member Robert Zimmerman, a longtime party fundraiser who would be Long Island’s first gay member of Congress, beat Deputy Suffolk County Executive Jon Kaiman 36-26 in the primary to replace Rep. Tom Suozzi, who left to unsuccessfully run for governor in June. Another 20% went to Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan, who had Suozzi’s endorsement and benefited from spending by Protect Our Future PAC.

Zimmerman, who lost a race for Congress all the way back in 1982, will go up against 2020 Republican nominee George Santos. Suozzi last time held off Santos 56-43 as Biden was carrying the old 3rd 55-44; the new version of this seat, which is based in northern Nassau County, would have supported the president by a smaller 53-45 spread.

 NY-04 (D): Former Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen defeated Nassau County Legislator Carrié Solages 63-24 in the primary to replace retiring Rep. Kathleen Rice, who supported Gillen. The GOP is fielding Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony D'Esposito for a southern Nassau County district that Biden would have won 57-42.

 NY-10 (D): Daniel Goldman, a self-funder who served as House Democrats' lead counsel during Trump's first impeachment, beat Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou 26-24 in the busy primary for this safely blue seat in Lower Manhattan and northwestern Brooklyn; Rep. Mondaire Jones, who currently represents the 17th District well to the north of the city in the Hudson Valley, took third with 18%.

 NY-11 (D): Former Rep. Max Rose will get his rematch against freshman GOP Rep. Nicole Malliotakis following his 75-21 primary victory over Army veteran Brittany Debarros. The court-drawn version of this seat, which retains all of Staten Island, would have supported Trump 53-46, while he prevailed 55-44 in the old boundaries; Malliotakis herself unseated Rose 53-47 last cycle.

 NY-12 (D): Rep. Jerry Nadler won the final incumbent vs. incumbent primary of the cycle by convincingly defeating fellow Rep. Carolyn Maloney 55-24 in a revamped safely blue seat that’s home to Manhattan’s Upper East Side and Upper West Side.

 NY-16 (D): Freshman Rep. Jamaal Bowman earned renomination in this loyally blue constituency by turning back Westchester County Legislator Vedat Gashi 57-23.

 NY-17 (D): Incumbent Sean Patrick Maloney, who heads the DCCC, beat state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi 67-33 in this lower Hudson Valley seat. Maloney will go up against Republican Assemblyman Michael Lawler, who won his own primary 76-12, in a constituency Biden would have taken 54-44.

 NY-19 (D): Attorney Josh Riley outpaced businesswoman Jamie Cheney 64-36 in a southeastern upstate New York district. Riley will now go up against Republican Marc Molinaro, who lost Tuesday’s special election for the old 19th, for a redrawn seat that would have favored Biden 51-47.

 NY-22 (R & D): The GOP establishment got some unwelcome news when Navy veteran Brandon Williams defeated businessman Steve Wells 58-42 in the primary to succeed their fellow Republican, retiring Rep. John Katko, for a district located in the Syracuse and Utica areas. The Congressional Leadership Fund evidently believed that Wells was the better bet for this 53-45 Biden seat because the super PAC spent close to $1 million on an unsuccessful effort to get him across the finish line.

On the Democratic side, Navy veteran Francis Conole beat Air Force veteran Sarah Klee Hood 39-36. Conole far outspent the entire field, and he benefited from over $500,000 in aid from Protect Our Future PAC.

 NY-23 (special): Steuben County Republican Party Chair Joe Sempolinski held off Air Force veteran Max Della Pia only 53-47 in a special election to succeed GOP Rep. Tom Reed in a 55-43 Trump seat. Sempolinski isn’t running for a full term anywhere, while Della is competing for a full term in the revamped 23rd.

 NY-23 (R): State GOP chair Nick Langworthy scored a 52-48 upset over developer Carl Paladino, the proto-Trump who served as the 2010 Republican nominee for governor, in the contest to succeed departing GOP Rep. Chris Jacobs. Langworthy will take on Air Force veteran Max Della Pia in a seat in the Buffalo suburbs and southwestern upstate New York that would have gone for Trump 58-40.

Paladino, who used his vast wealth to far outspend Langworthy, has a long and ongoing history of bigoted outbursts. But that didn’t stop Rep. Elise Stefanik, who represents the neighboring 21st District and serves as the number-three Republican in the House, from backing Paladino, a move that one unnamed House Republican griped was “baffling” and “off-putting.” The gamble, though, very much didn’t pay off for Stefanik or Paladino.

 NY-24 (R): Rep. Claudia Tenney beat back attorney Mario Fratto by an underwhelming 54-40, though she should have no trouble in the general for a 57-40 Trump seat in the Finger Lakes region. Tenney had the support of Trump as well as a huge financial lead over Fratto, but she currently represents a mere 6% of this revamped district.

Senate

MO-Sen: Independent John Wood announced Tuesday he was dropping out of the general election, a move that came after a super PAC affiliated with former GOP Sen. John Danforth spent $3.6 million on his behalf.

Wood sent out an email to his supporters saying he'd decided to run at a time when disgraced Gov. Eric Greitens was a serious contender for the Republican nomination, saying, "That would have been unacceptable, embarrassing, and dangerous for my party, my state, and my Country." Greitens, though, lost the Aug. 2 GOP primary to Attorney General Eric Schmitt, and Wood acknowledged, "It has become evident that there is not a realistic path to victory for me as an independent candidate."

NH-Sen: State Senate President Chuck Morse has earned the backing of the NRA ahead of the Sept. 13 Republican primary to take on Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan. The organization, as we've written before, has dramatically diminished in recent years and it rarely spends much in primaries, but its stamp of approval can still give Republican office seekers a boost with conservatives.

NV-Sen: Adam Laxalt is using his coordinated buy with the NRSC to air his very first TV spot since the mid-June primary, and he's far from the only Senate Republican candidate to only return to the airwaves months after winning the nomination. Pennsylvania's Mehmet Oz began running commercials in late July, while North Carolina's Ted Budd and Ohio's J.D. Vance, who also cleared their primaries in May, went up with general election spots this month; all three of these inaugural ads were also joint buys with the NRSC.

This Laxalt spot, reports NBC, has only $95,000 behind it, though that's still more than than the $65,000 he'd spent through Monday on general election digital and radio ads. Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, by contrast, has dropped $6.5 million on advertising, while Democratic outside groups have outspent their GOP counterparts by a smaller $12.1 million to $10.9 million margin here.

Laxalt's commercial comes days after Cortez Masto portrayed the Republican as a spoiled outsider in a spot of her own that emulated the TV show "Succession." Laxalt tries to get his own narrative about his life across by telling the audience, "I was raised by a single mom with no college education. And as a kid, I didn't know who my father was." (His late father was New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici, who was married to another woman when Laxalt was conceived and had little presence in his life.) The candidate's wife also declares, "Everything he had to overcome helped make him a good man."  

Governors

CA-Gov: UC Berkeley for the Los Angeles Times: Gavin Newsom (D-inc): 55, Brian Dahle (R): 31

MS-Gov: Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, who is one of the most prominent Democrats in this dark red state, didn't rule anything out when Mississippi Today asked about his interest in challenging Republican Gov. Tate Reeves next year. Presley, who is also up for re-election in 2023, instead talked about his current role, saying, "I am concentrating on trying to get internet to every household in the state, trying to keep utility rates affordable during this time of high inflation."

NY-Gov: SurveyUSA for WNYT: Kathy Hochul (D-inc): 55, Lee Zeldin (R): 31 (June: 52-28 Hochul)

House

MI-08: It begins: The independent expenditure arm of the DCCC has released its first TV ad of the November general election, beating their counterparts at the NRCC to the airwaves.

The DCCC's spot attacks former Homeland Security official Paul Junge, the Republican nominee in Michigan's 8th Congressional District, on the number one issue of the midterms: abortion. The commercial, however, avoids the word. Instead, a series of female narrators castigates Junge: "I thought I'd always have the right to make my own health care decisions," the voiceover says. "But if Paul Junge gets his way … I won't." Saying that Junge opposes abortion even in the case of rape or incest, the narration continues, "I couldn't imagine a pregnancy forced on me after something horrible like that. But thanks to Paul Junge, I have to."

Junge is challenging five-term Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee, who saw his district in the Flint and Tri-Cities areas take on some new turf and grow a bit redder in redistricting. It also changed numbers: Biden won Kildee's old 5th by a 51-47 margin, but the redrawn 8th would have backed the president just 50-48. This part of the state has also moved sharply to the right on the presidential level over the last decade—in 2012, Barack Obama won the 5th District by more than 20 points—which is why it's a prime target for Republicans this year.

Democrats know this as well, which is why they're stepping in to aid Kildee. We don't yet know how much the DCCC is spending in this initial foray, but we will soon: Any group that makes an independent expenditure on behalf of a federal candidate must file a report with the FEC detailing its spending within 48 hours—and from Oct. 20 onward, within 24 hours. Those filings are all made available on the FEC's website.

That site will get plenty of clicks, because from here on out, we can expect hundreds of millions of dollars more in independent expenditures on House races, from official party organizations like the DCCC and NRCC, massive super PACs like the Democrats' House Majority PAC and the GOP's Congressional Leadership Fund, and a whole bevy of groups large and small. But with the parties themselves now going up on TV, we can consider this the beginning of the end of the midterms.

TN-05: Democratic state Sen. Heidi Campbell has publicized an internal from FrederickPolls that gives her a 51-48 lead over her Republican rival, Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles, in a newly-gerrymandered constituency that Democrats are very pessimistic about holding. Democratic incumbent Jim Cooper decided to retire here after the GOP legislature transmuted his seat from a 60-37 Biden district to a 54-43 Trump constituency by cracking the city of Nashville, and no major outside groups on either side have reserved any ad time here.  

Other races

Los Angeles County, CA Sheriff: UC Berkeley, polling for the Los Angeles Times, finds former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna leading conservative Sheriff Alex Villanueva 31-27 in the November nonpartisan primary to serve as the top lawman for America's most populous county. This is the first survey we've seen since early June, when Villanueva outpaced Luna 31-26.

Villanueva made history in 2018 when he became the first Democrat to hold this office in 138 years, but while he still identifies as "​​a Democrat of the party of JFK and FDR," he's established a very different image in office. Villanueva instead has become a Fox News regular who, among many other things, has raged against the "woke left." The sheriff's department also has been at the center of numerous scandals, including allegations that deputies have organized themselves into violent gangs.  

Luna, for his part, changed his voter registration from Republican to no party preference in 2018 before becoming a Democrat two years later. The county Democratic Party has endorsed the former Long Beach police chief for the general election after declining to back anyone for the first round, and all five members of the Board of Supervisors are also in his corner; Luna also has the endorsement of Eric Strong, a progressive who took third with 16%. The challenger has faulted the incumbent for having "mismanaged" the department and argued that he'll "modernize" it.

Despite his second-place showing, however, UC Berkeley finds that Luna is a blank slate to most voters. Respondents give Luna a 31-11 favorable rating, but a 59% majority says they don't have an opinion of the challenger. Villanueva, by contrast, is underwater with a 30-39 score, though 31% still weren't sure how they feel about him.

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Morning Digest: Trump’s forces take down Rep. Tom Rice in South Carolina, but Nancy Mace holds on

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

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Leading Off

SC-01, SC-07: Two members of South Carolina’s U.S. House delegation went up against Trump-backed Republican primary opponents on Tuesday, but while 1st District Rep. Nancy Mace secured renomination, voters in the neighboring 7th District ejected pro-impeachment Rep. Tom Rice in favor of state Rep. Russell Fry. Mace turned back former state Rep. Katie Arrington, who was Team Red’s unsuccessful 2018 nominee, 53-45, which was just above the majority she needed to avoid a June 28 runoff. Fry also averted a second round in his six-way race by lapping Rice 51-25.

Mace, who was the first woman to graduate from the state’s famed military academy the Citadel, became one of the GOP’s most promising rising stars in 2020 when she unseated Democratic incumbent Joe Cunningham in a very expensive race. Mace, however, broke with Trump in the days after she was forced to barricade in her office during the Jan. 6 attack, saying, “I hold him accountable for the events that transpired.” She never backed impeachment and soon stopped trying to pick fights with Trump, but the GOP master still decided to repay her by endorsing Arrington, who had denied renomination in 2018 to then-Rep. Mark Sanford, in February.

Arrington, who launched her new campaign by blasting the incumbent as a "sellout" who "sold out the Lowcountry" and "sold out President Trump,” released a poll in early March arguing that her all-Trump all the time strategy would carry her to victory. Those Remington Research Group numbers showed Mace’s 50-35 lead transforming into a 51-33 Arrington advantage after respondents were informed she was the “Trump Endorsed America First Candidate,” which led the pollster to conclude that “there is no path to victory” for Mace.  

The congresswoman, though, worked to frame the primary as anything other than a fight between her and Trump. Shortly after Arrington’s kickoff, Mace posted a video shot across the street from Trump Tower where, after talking about her longtime Trump loyalty, she says, “If you want to lose this seat once again in a midterm election cycle to Democrats, then my opponent is more than qualified to do just that.” The GOP legislature did what it could to make sure that no one could lose this coastal South Carolina seat to Democrats by passing a map that extended Trump’s 2020 margin from 52-46 to 54-45, but that didn’t stop Mace from convincingly arguing that Arrington would be electoral Kryptonite against the Democrats’ well-funded candidate, pediatrician Annie Andrews.   

Rice, by contrast, went far further than Mace by actually voting for impeachment last year, a move so shocking that his own consultant initially assumed the five-term congressman had simply hit the wrong button. That vote instantly ensured that Rice, who had been easily renominated every cycle since he’d first won this safely red Myrtle Beach-area constituency in a competitive 2012 primary, would be in for an extremely difficult campaign, and several Republicans soon began challenging him.

Fry, though, cemented his status as the frontrunner after Trump backed him in February, and he soon earned national attention of his own with a truly strange ad depicting the apostate incumbent attending a touchy-feely "Villains Anonymous" meeting with the likes of the Joker, Lucifer, a pirate, Maleficent, and Delores Umbridge of the "Harry Potter" franchise. Rice and his remaining allies fought back by arguing that the congressman was too influential to fire and that Fry wasn't actually the conservative he presented himself as, but it was far from enough.

Rice himself argued to the end that he’d made the right decision by voting to impeach Trump over Jan. 6, saying, “He sat there and watched the Capitol get sacked and took pleasure in that … That’s what a dictator would do.” That didn’t prove to be a very compelling argument, though, and GOP primary voters responded by decisively nominating Fry in his place.

Election Recaps

TX-34 (special): Conservative activist Mayra Flores flipped this Rio Grande Valley constituency to the GOP on Tuesday by taking a majority of the vote in the all-party primary to succeed Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela, who resigned earlier this year to take a job at a lobbying firm. (Vela announced his retirement last year but hadn’t previously indicated he’d leave Congress early.) Flores outpaced former Cameron County Commissioner Dan Sanchez, a Democrat who is not running for a full two-year term anywhere, 51-43 after a campaign where Republicans spent over $1 million while Democrats only began airing TV ads in the final week.

Flores was already the GOP nominee for the new version of the 34th District, where Republican mapmakers extended Joe Biden’s margin of victory from just 52-48 to 57-42 in order to strengthen their position in nearby seats. Her opponent will be Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who decided to run here because that very GOP gerrymander made his own 15th District more conservative: This will almost certainly be the only incumbent vs. incumbent general election of the cycle other than the race for Florida’s 2nd District between Democratic Rep. Al Lawson and Republican colleague Neal Dunn.

While Flores will be in for a difficult fight in November on more Democratic terrain, though, Republicans are hoping that her win Tuesday proves that the GOP can still secure further gains in heavily Latino areas. Flores also will have a geographic advantage, as she’ll spend the next several months representing 75% of the new 34th District; Gonzalez, by contrast, currently serves the remaining quarter.

Primary Night: Here’s a look at where Nevada’s key races for Senate, governor, and U.S. House stand as of Wednesday morning. Note that, because a large number of ballots remain untabulated, these margins could change before the results are certified:

  • NV-Sen (R): Former Attorney General Adam Laxalt turned back an unexpectedly well-funded campaign from Army veteran Sam Brown by a 56-34 margin. Laxalt, who was the 2018 nominee for governor, will go up against Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto in what will be one of the most competitive Senate races of the cycle.
  • NV-Gov (R): Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, who like Laxalt had Trump’s endorsement, defeated attorney Joey Gilbert 38-28 for the right to take on Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak. Former Sen. Dean Heller, who lost re-election to Democrat Jacky Rosen in 2018, took a distant third with 14%; Heller never lost a race in his long career in Nevada politics until Rosen unseated him four years ago.
  • NV-01 (D): Rep. Dina Titus turned back progressive challenger Amy Vilela in an 82-18 landslide.
  • NV-01 (R): The Associated Press has not yet called this contest but with 89% of the estimated vote in, Army veteran Mark Robertson holds a 30-17 lead over conservative activist David Brog; former 4th District Rep. Crescent Hardy, who raised almost no money for his latest comeback, lags in fourth with just 12%. Democrats in the legislature, much to Titus’ frustration, made this seat in the eastern Las Vegas area considerably more competitive in order to make the 3rd and 4th Districts bluer, and Biden would have carried the new 1st 53-45.
  • NV-02 (R): Republican Rep. Mark Amodei secured renomination in this safely red northern Nevada seat by beating Douglas County Commissioner Danny Tarkanian 54-33. Tarkanian, who was a longtime resident of the Las Vegas area well to the south, finally ended his legendary losing streak in 2020 after moving to Douglas County, but he very much returned to form on Tuesday by failing to win a seat in Congress for the fifth time.
  • NV-03 (R): Attorney April Becker, who was the favored candidate of the GOP establishment, easily defeated self-funder John Kovacs 65-11. Becker will go up against Democratic Rep. Susie Lee in a southern Las Vegas area seat where Democrats extended Biden’s winning margin from just 49.1-48.9 to 52-46.
  • NV-04 (R): The AP hasn’t called this GOP primary yet but with 68% of the estimated vote in, Air Force veteran Sam Peters leads Assemblywoman Annie Black 48-41. The winner will face Democratic incumbent Steven Horsford, whose constituency in the northern Las Vegas area supported Biden 53-45 under the new map.

Senate

WA-Sen: NBC reports that the Democratic group Future Majority PAC has booked $860,000 for an ad campaign that will start in early July, which will make this the first major outside spending of the contest. Early this month the Northwest Progressive Institute released a survey from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling giving Democratic incumbent Patty Murray a 51-40 lead over her likely Republican opponent, motivational speaker Tiffany Smiley.

Governors

IL-Gov: The Republican firm Ogden & Fry's new look at the June 28 GOP primary finds state Sen. Darren Bailey leading Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin 31-17, with venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan at 11%. This is the third poll in a row we've seen showing Bailey defeating Irvin, an outcome that would greatly please Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his allies.  

OK-Gov: Amber Integrated (R): Kevin Stitt (R-inc): 47, Joy Hofmeister (D): 29 (March: 44-30 Stitt)

TX-Gov: The Democratic pollster Blueprint Polling's inaugural survey of Texas shows Republican incumbent Greg Abbott fending off Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke in a 56-37 landslide. This survey, which the firm says was done "with no input or funding from any candidate, committee, or interest group," comes a month after UT Tyler gave Abbott a considerably smaller 46-39 advantage.

House

CA-40: The Associated Press on Monday night projected that Rep. Young Kim had defeated her fellow Republican, Mission Viejo Councilman Greg Raths, for the second spot in the general election despite a late Democratic effort to boost Raths. Democrat Asif Mahmood took first in last week's top-two primary with 41%, while Kim beat Raths 34-23 after she and her allies launched a significant last-minute spending spree to turn back the perennial candidate. Biden would have carried this eastern Orange County constituency 50-48.

FL-10, FL-Sen: Former Rep. Alan Grayson, whom longtime readers will know is one of our least favorite Democrats in America, announced Tuesday that he was abandoning his little-noticed Senate campaign in favor of running to succeed his now-former intra-party rival, Rep. Val Demings, in the safely blue 10th District in the Orlando area. He joins an August primary that includes state Sen. Randolph Bracy; gun safety activist Maxwell Alejandro Frost; pastor Terence Gray; and civil rights attorney Natalie Jackson, all of whom, like Demings but unlike Grayson, are Black.

The Orlando Sentinel notes that several Florida Democrats have argued that this area should continue to be represented by an African American. Indeed, Orange County Democratic Chair Wes Hodge notably said in April, "My intent is to try to keep it [a Black] access seat because it is important to our community," though he predicted, "But, you know, someone can show up at noon on the last day of qualifying with 10 grand in their pocket, and boom, they're on the ballot." Grayson himself had just over $240,000 on-hand at the end of March, a paltry sum for a statewide contest but enough to put up a fight in a House race.

IL-06: Rep. Sean Casten's office announced Monday evening that his 17-year-old daughter, Gwen Casten, had died that morning. Fellow Rep. Marie Newman, who is Sean Casten's opponent in the June 28 Democratic primary, said in response that her campaign "is working to cease all comparative paid communications immediately."    

IL-07: The Justice Democrats have launched a $120,000 ad buy supporting gun safety activist Kina Collins' bid against longtime Rep. Danny Davis in the June 28 Democratic primary, which makes this the first outside spending on Collins' side. (A group called Opportunity for All Action Fund has deployed a similar amount for the incumbent.) The spot, writes Primary School, faults Davis for missing House votes as crime and inflation remain a serious problem, and pledges that the challenger would be a more focused representative. Davis fended off Collins 60-14 two years ago in this safely blue Chicago seat.

VA-02: The Democratic group Patriot Majority has launched a commercial designed to help far-right activist Jarome Bell win next week's Republican primary to take on Democratic incumbent Elaine Luria, which makes this the latest contest where Democrats have tried to pick their opponents. The narrator tells the audience, "Bell is a Navy veteran who calls himself an 'America First conservative' … He supports Trump's election audit in all 50 states, and Bell wants to outlaw abortion." Unsubtly, the narrator concludes, "If Jarome Bell wins, Donald Trump wins too." There is no word on the size of the buy.

Trump himself has not made an endorsement here, but House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is all-in for one of Bell's intra-party rivals, state Sen. Jen Kiggans. A late May internal for a pro-Kiggans group showed her decisively beating another primary candidate, Air Force veteran Tommy Altman, 43-9, with Bell at 8%.

DCCC: The DCCC has added 11 more candidates to its Red to Blue program, which is the DCCC's top-tier list of races where it plans to be heavily involved this cycle: 

  • AZ-01: Jevin Hodge
  • FL-27: Annette Taddeo
  • NC-01: Don Davis
  • NC-13: Wiley Nickel
  • NC-14: Jeff Jackson
  • NY-01: Bridget Fleming
  • NY-22: Francis Conole
  • OR-04: Val Hoyle
  • OR-05: Jamie McLeod Skinner
  • OR-06: Andrea Salinas
  • PA-17: Chris Deluzio

Most of these candidates have already won the nomination or face little intra-party opposition, but the DCCC is taking sides in a few contested primaries. In Arizona’s 1st Hodge, who lost a tight 2020 race for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, is going up against former Phoenix Suns employee Adam Metzendorf for the right to take on GOP Rep. David Schweikert. (A third Democrat, environmental consultant Ginger Sykes Torres, failed to collect enough signatures to continue her campaign.)

Taddeo, likewise, has to get past Miami Commissioner Ken Russell before she can focus on Republican Rep. María Elvira Salazar in Florida's 27th. Finally, Conole faces Air Force veteran Sarah Klee Hood, Syracuse Common Council member Chol Majok, and former Assemblyman Sam Roberts in the primary for New York's open 22nd District.  

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Dollar amounts reflect the reported size of ad buys and may be larger.

Morning Digest: Seven states host primaries today, including the biggest of them all

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

Subscribe to our podcast, The Downballot!

Leading Off

Primary Night: The Gregs of Rath: After a brief break, the primary season continues Tuesday with contests in California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota. As always, we've put together our preview of what to watch starting at 8 PM ET when the first polls close. You'll also want to bookmark our primary calendar, which includes the dates for primaries in all 50 states.

Democrats are going on the offensive in several California contests to try to help weaker Republicans pass more formidable opponents in the top-two primary. One of Team Blue's biggest targets is Rep. David Valadao, who was one of 10 Republicans to vote to impeach Donald Trump last year and now faces two intra-party foes in the Central Valley-based 22nd District.

House Majority PAC has dropped $280,000 to boost one of them, former Fresno City Councilman Chris Mathys, by ostensibly attacking him as "100% pro-Trump and proud," while also promoting Democratic Assemblyman Rudy Salas. Valadao's allies at the Congressional Leadership Fund, though, aren't sitting idly by, as they've deployed a larger $790,000 on messaging hoping to puncture Mathys by labeling him "soft on crime, dangerously liberal."

Orange County Democrat Asif Mahmood is trying a similar maneuver against Republican Rep. Young Kim over in the 40th District by airing ads to boost Mission Viejo Councilman Greg Raths, a Republican who has a terrible record in local congressional races. That's also prompted a furious backlash from the CLF, which is spending $880,000 to stop Raths from advancing. But there's been no such outside intervention to the south in the 49th District, where Democratic Rep. Mike Levin is taking action to make sure his GOP foe is Oceanside City Councilman Christopher Rodriguez rather than 2020 rival Brian Maryott.

That's not all that's on tap. We'll be watching GOP primary contests in Mississippi and South Dakota, where Reps. Steven Palazzo and Dusty Johnson face potentially serious intra-party challenges. Both parties will also be picking their nominees for hotly contested general election contests, as well as in safe House seats. You can find more on all these races, as well as the other big elections on Tuesday's ballot, in our preview.

Election Night

California: While the Golden State's many competitive House top-two primaries will take center-stage on Tuesday, we also have several major local races to watch. Unless otherwise noted, all of these races are officially nonpartisan primaries where candidates need to win a majority of the vote in order to avoid a Nov. 8 general election.

We'll begin in the open seat race for mayor of Los Angeles, a contest that's largely been defined by a $34 million spending spree by billionaire developer Rick Caruso. However, while some progressives have feared that the Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat's offensive could allow him to win outright, a recent poll from UC Berkeley for the Los Angeles Times shows Democratic Rep. Karen Bass in first with 38%. That survey has Caruso not far behind with 32%, while City Councilman Kevin de León, who ran for Senate in 2018 as a progressive Democrat, lags in third with just 6%.

Over to the north there's a competitive contest to succeed termed-out San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo in a Silicon Valley community where the major fault lines are usually between business-aligned politicians like Liccardo and candidates closer to labor. The top fundraiser has been Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, a longtime union ally who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2006 and now enjoys the backing of PACs funded by labor, police unions, and even the San Francisco 49ers.  Another prominent contender is Councilmember Matt Mahan, who is supported by Liccardo's PAC even though the mayor himself has yet to endorse. The field also includes two other council members, the labor-aligned Raul Peralez and the business-allied Dev Davis, but they have not received any outside aid. San Jose voters Tuesday will also decide on Measure B, which would move mayoral contests to presidential years starting in 2024.

There are also several competitive district attorney races to watch, including in San Jose's Santa Clara County. Three-term incumbent Jeff Rosen is arguing he's made needed criminal justice reforms, but public defender Sajid Khan is campaigning as the "true, real progressive DA" he says the community lacks. The contest also includes former prosecutor Daniel Chung, a self-described "moderate" who has a terrible relationship with his one-time boss Rosen. Over in Orange County, Republican District Attorney Todd Spitzer is hoping that multiple scandals won't prevent him from scoring an outright win against Democrat Peter Hardin and two other opponents.

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin has a tough race of his own as he tries to turn back a recall campaign, and several polls find voters ready to eject the criminal justice reformer. If a majority vote yes on the recall question, which is identified as Proposition H, Mayor London Breed would appoint a new district attorney until a special election is held this November. However, SF voters will also be presented with Proposition C, which would prevent Breed's pick from running in that contest and make it extremely difficult to get recall questions on future ballots.    

Back in Southern California we'll also be watching the race for Los Angeles County sheriff, where conservative Democratic incumbent Alex Villanueva is trying to win a majority of the vote against eight foes. Bolts Magazine has details on several more law enforcement contests across California as well.

Finally, we also have the special general election to succeed Republican Devin Nunes, who has amazingly not yet been fired as head of Trump's disastrous social media project, in the existing version of the 22nd Congressional District, a Central Valley seat Trump carried 52-46. The first round took place in April and saw former Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway lead Democrat Lourin Hubbard, who is an official at the California Department of Water Resources, 35-19 in all-party primary where Republican candidates outpaced Democrats 66-34. Neither Conway nor Hubbard are seeking a full term anywhere this year.

Senate

AL-Sen: While Rep. Mo Brooks surprised plenty of observers two weeks ago by advancing to the June 21 runoff with former Business Council of Alabama head Katie Britt, his allies at the Club for Growth aren't acting at all confident about his chances of actually winning round two. Politico reports that the Club on Thursday canceled more than $500,000 in advertising time meant to benefit Brooks, who trailed Britt 45-29 on May 24.

The congressman got some more disappointing news the following day when Army veteran Mike Durant, who took third with 23%, announced that he wouldn't support or even vote for either Britt or Brooks. While Durant claimed hours before polls closed on May 24 that he'd endorse Brooks over Britt, he now says, "Mo Brooks has been in politics for 40 years, and all he does is run his mouth." Durant also had harsh words for the frontrunner, arguing, "Katie Britt doesn't deserve to be a senator."

CO-Sen: Wealthy businessman Joe O'Dea has publicized a survey from Public Opinion Strategies that gives him a 38-14 lead over state Rep. Ron Hanks in the June 28 Republican primary to face Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet. O'Dea has also announced that he's spending $325,000 on a TV and radio campaign against Hanks, who ended March with all of $16,000 in the bank.

MO-Sen: While state Attorney General Eric Schmitt's allies at Save Missouri Values PAC have largely focused on attacking disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens ahead of the August GOP primary, the super PAC is now spending $510,000 on an offensive against a third candidate, Rep. Vicky Hartzler. The spot argues that Hartzler "voted to give amnesty to over 1.8 million illegal immigrants, and she even voted to use our tax dollars to fund lawyers for illegals who invaded our country."

Governors

KS-Gov: Wednesday was the filing deadline for Kansas’ Aug. 2 primaries, and the state has a list of contenders here.

While several Republicans initially showed interest in taking on incumbent Laura Kelly, who is is the only Democratic governor up for re-election this year in a state that Donald Trump carried, Attorney General Derek Schmidt has essentially had the field to himself ever since former Gov. Jeff Colyer dropped out in August. The RGA isn’t waiting for Schmidt to vanquish his little-known primary foe, as it’s already running a commercial promoting him as an alternative to Kelly.

MA-Gov: Attorney General Maura Healey won Saturday's Democratic Party convention with 71% of the delegates, while the balance went to state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz. Chang-Díaz took considerably more than the 15% she needed in order to secure a spot on the September primary ballot for governor, but she faces a wide polling and financial deficit.

MD-Gov: The first independent poll of the July 19 Democratic primary comes from OpinionWorks on behalf of the University of Baltimore and the Baltimore Sun, and it finds state Comptroller Peter Franchot in the lead with 20%. Author Wes Moore is close behind with 15%, while former DNC chair Tom Perez and former Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker take 12% and 7%, respectively; a 31% plurality remains undecided.

While former U.S. Secretary of Education John King snagged just 4%, here, though, his own numbers show him in far better shape. He released an internal from 2020 Insight last month that showed Franchot at 17% as King and Moore took 16%; Perez took the same 12% that OpinionWorks gave him, while 27% were undecided.

OpinionWorks also gives us a rare look at the GOP primary and has former state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, who is backed by termed-out Gov. Larry Hogan, beating Trump-endorsed Del. Dan Cox 27-21; wealthy perennial candidate Robin Ficker is a distant third with 5%, while a hefty 42% of respondents didn't choose a candidate.

MI-Gov: The Michigan Supreme Court on Friday ruled against former Detroit police Chief James Craig and wealthy businessman Perry Johnson's attempts to get on the August Republican primary ballot after state election authorities disqualified them for fraudulent voter petition signatures, but neither of them is giving up hope of still capturing the GOP nod.

Craig acknowledged last month that he would consider a write-in campaign if his legal challenge failed, and he said Sunday on Fox, "It's not over. We are going to be evaluating next steps." While Craig doesn't appear to have addressed the possibility of a write-in campaign since the state's highest court gave him the thumbs down, he responded in the affirmative when asked, "Are they trying to steal your election?" Johnson, for his part, asked a federal judge the following day to halt the printing of primary ballots.

NY-Gov: Last week was the deadline for independent candidates to turn in the 45,000 signatures they'd need to make the November ballot, and disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not submit any petitions.

House

FL-07: Seminole County Commissioner Lee Constantine has announced that he'll stay out of the August Republican primary for this newly gerrymandered seat.

KS-03: Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids faces a rematch with former state GOP chair Amanda Adkins, who faces only minor opposition for renomination. Davids beat Adkins 54-44 in 2020 as Joe Biden pulled off an identical win in her suburban Kansas City seat, but Republican legislators passed a new gerrymander this year that slashes Biden’s margin to 51-47.

MD-04: Former Rep. Donna Edwards has earned an endorsement from AFSCME Maryland Council 3, which is the state's largest government employee's union, as well as AFSCME Council 67 and Local 2250 for the July 19 Democratic primary.

MI-10: Former Macomb County Judge Carl Marlinga has dropped an internal from Target Insyght that shows him leading two-time GOP Senate nominee John James 44-40 in a general election contest in this swing seat, which is similar to the 48-45 edge he posted in January. The firm also gives Marlinga a 40-16 advantage over Warren Council member Angela Rogensues in the August Democratic primary.

NC-13: The DCCC has released an in-house survey that shows Democrat Wiley Nickel with a 45-43 advantage over Republican Bo Hines. This poll was conducted May 18-19, which was immediately after both men won their respective May 17 primaries in this competitive district in Raleigh's southern suburbs; it's also the first we've seen from this contest.

NH-01: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Monday endorsed 2020 nominee Matt Mowers' second campaign to take on Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas. Mowers lost to Pappas 51-46 as Biden was carrying the district 52-46, and he faces several opponents in the August GOP primary for a seat that barely changed under the new court-ordered map.

NV-01: Former 4th District Rep. Cresent Hardy startled observers when he filed to take on Democratic incumbent Dina Titus right before filing closed March 18, but the Republican still doesn't appear to have gotten around to cluing in donors about his latest comeback attempt. Hardy, mystifyingly, waited until April 15 to even open a new fundraising account with the FEC, and he proceeded to haul in all of $9,000 through May 25 without spending a penny of it.  

Hardy faces intra-party opposition next Tuesday from conservative activist David Brog, Army veteran Mark Robertson, and former Trump campaign staffer Carolina Serrano, all of whom we can accurately say spent infinitely more than him. Titus herself is going up against activist Amy Vilela, who took third place with 9% in the 2018 primary for the 4th District.  

NY-19 (special), NY-23 (special): Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul has officially set Aug. 23 special elections to succeed Democrat Antonio Delgado and Republican Tom Reed in the existing versions of the 19th and 23rd Congressional Districts, respectively. Both races will coincide with the primaries for the new congressional and state Senate districts. The 19th supported Biden 50-48, while the 23rd went for Trump 55-43.

In New York special elections, party leaders select nominees, rather than primary voters, and Democrats in the 23rd District picked Air Force veteran Max Della Pia over the weekend. Della Pia, who unsuccessfully ran in the 2018 primary, has also announced that he'll run for a full two-year term to succeed Republican Rep. Chris Jacobs in the new 23rd, which contains much of Reed's now-former constituency.

NY-23: Developer Carl Paladino launched his bid over the weekend to succeed retiring Republican Rep. Chris Jacobs, and the 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee immediately picked up an endorsement from the House’s third-ranking Republican, 21st District Rep. Elise Stefanik. Paladino won’t have a glide path to the nomination, though, as state party chair Nick Langworthy reportedly will also enter the August primary ahead of Friday’s filing deadline. Trump would have carried this seat in southwestern upstate New York 58-40.

Langworthy hasn’t said anything publicly about his plans, but Tompkins County Legislator Mike Sigler has abandoned his own nascent campaign to support him. Paladino himself told the Buffalo News he tried to deter the chair from running, but added, “He's all about himself and is using party resources to pass petitions so he can go down to Washington and act like a big shot.”

Both Paladino and Langworthy have longtime ties to Trump, and the two even made an unsuccessful attempt to recruit him to run for governor in 2014. Paladino was all-in for Trump’s White House bid in 2016, and he even dubbed none other than Stefanik a “fraud” for refusing to endorse the frontrunner. (Stefanik has since very much reinvented herself as an ardent Trumpist.) Langworthy himself also was all-in for Trump well before the rest of the GOP establishment fell into line.

Trump’s transition committee condemned Paladino in late 2016 after the then-Buffalo School Board member said he wanted Barack Obama to “catch[] mad cow disease” and for Michelle Obama to “return to being male” and be “let loose” in Zimbabwe; Trump and Paladino, though, have predictably remained buds. Langworthy, for his part, reportedly had Trump’s support in his successful bid to become state party chair.

OH-01: Democrat Greg Landsman has publicized a mid-May internal from Impact Research that shows him deadlocked 47-47 against Republican incumbent Steve Chabot. This is the first survey we've seen of the general election for a Cincinnati-based seat that would have supported Joe Biden 53-45.

TN-05: On Friday night, a state judge ordered music video producer Robby Starbuck back onto the August Republican primary ballot, though the Tennessee Journal predicted, "An appeal appears all but certain." Party leaders ejected Starbuck and two others in April for not meeting the party's definition of a "bona fide" Republican, but the judge ruled that the GOP's decision was invalid because it violated state open meeting law. The deadline to finalize the ballot is Friday.

TX-15: Army veteran Ruben Ramirez announced Monday that he would seek a recount for the May 24 Democratic runoff, a decision he made shortly after the state party's canvas found that he still trailed businesswoman Michelle Vallejo by 30 votes. The eventual nominee will go up against 2020 Republican nominee Monica De La Cruz, who won the Republican primary outright in March, in a Rio Grande Valley seat that Trump would have taken 51-48.

TX-28: Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar's lead over progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros increased from 177 votes immediately following their runoff two weeks ago to 281 with the final county-by-county canvass of votes that concluded on Friday. Cuellar again declared victory, but Cisneros said on Monday that she would seek a recount.

TX-34 (special): The Texas Tribune reports that Republican Maya Flores and her outside group allies have spent close to $1 million on TV ahead of the June 14 all-party primary for this 52-48 Biden seat. By contrast, Democrat Dan Sanchez and the DCCC are spending $100,000 on a joint digital buy, but they don't appear to be on TV yet. One other Democrat and Republican are also on the ballot, which could keep either Flores or Sanchez from winning the majority they'd need to avert a runoff.

Secretaries of State

MA-SoS: Boston NAACP head Tanisha Sullivan outpaced seven-term Secretary of State Bill Galvin 62-38 at Saturday's Democratic convention, but Galvin proved four years ago that he can very much win renomination after being rejected by party delegates. Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim snagged 55% of the convention vote back in 2018 after arguing that the incumbent had done a poor job advocating for needed voting rights reforms only to lose the primary to Galvin 67-32 months later.

Sullivan, who sports an endorsement from 6th District Rep. Seth Moulton, is adopting a similar argument against Galvin this time. The challenger used her convention speech to argue, "Despite record voter turnout in 2020, hear me on this, voters from some of our most vulnerable communities still saw the lowest voter turnout across Massachusetts, leaving behind far too many voices. I'm talking about the voices of Black, Indigenous, Latinx and AAPI folks."

Galvin, though, insisted his presence was more vital than ever, saying, "I am now the senior Democratic election official in the United States and I intend to use that role to make sure that we're able to make sure that citizens throughout our country have the opportunity to vote."

Ad Roundup

House Republicans became the Party of Q this week. Democrats won’t let voters forget it in 2022

The word "nightmare" is trending in Republican circles lately. Thursday Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina characterized the idea of Donald Trump testifying at his impeachment trial as "a nightmare for the country." Or as a Politico headline put it, "Trump's allies fear the impeachment trial could be a PR nightmare"—which is what Graham really meant.  

Democrats agree, and the House Democratic campaign arm is moving quickly to bring that nightmare home to the House GOP, which officially declared itself the QAnon caucus this week when 199 of its 211 members voted against stripping its chief Q adherent, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, of her committee assignments. 

In its opening salvo in the 2022 battle for control of the House, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a campaign ad indicting House Republicans for standing "with Q not you." The ad places the conspiracy cult at the center of the deadly Jan. 6 riot, saying that QAnon "with Donald Trump, incited a mob that attacked the Capitol and murdered a cop."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi previewed the strategy this week when she referred to GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy as "Qevin McCarthy, Q-CA" in a tweet. McCarthy helpfully lived up to the moniker by refusing to remove Greene from her committee assignments and forcing his caucus to go on record in support of someone who not only espouses QAnon, but has also endorsed the execution of Pelosi and other Democrats and has verbally assaulted survivors of the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. And frankly, that's just a small taste of Greene's abhorrent quackery.

House Democrats are betting that won't play well in the very districts that will likely decide control of the House for the second half of President Joe Biden's term.

"If Kevin McCarthy wants to take his party to ‘crazy town’ and follow these dangerous ideas, he shouldn't expect to do well in the next election,” Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, the new chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told Politico. "They can do QAnon, or they can do college-educated voters. They cannot do both."

According to Politico, the DCCC's $500,000 TV and digital ad campaign will run in the districts of seven vulnerable Republicans: Reps. Mike Garcia, Young Kim and Michelle Steel of California; Maria Elvira Salazar of Florida; Don Bacon of Nebraska; Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania; and Beth Van Duyne of Texas.

Democrats' early decision to nationalize the race is a notable departure from their strategy in 2018, when they deployed a hyper-localized message around health care that ultimately netted them an historic 41 seats. Of course, the backdrop to that strategy was the GOP's repeated efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would have stripped millions of Americans of their coverage.

The backdrop to this decision were the horrific events of Jan. 6, an insurrection at the Capitol that Americans couldn’t have even imagined before they watched in horror as it played out in real time on screens across the country. A Yahoo News/YouGuv survey released this week found that 81% of Americans said the attack wasn't justified. And more than 9 in 10 Americans expressed revulsion about the attack, saying it made them feel “angry,” “ashamed” or “fearful.” 

Democrats will now have several weeks worth of a Senate trial to remind people of that revulsion and how the GOP underwrote that deadly attack before, during, and after it took place through its unyielding support of Trump's lies and its embrace of extremist groups like QAnon.

Democrats’ bet is that after they deliver results on COVID-19 relief, they will be able to head into 2022 saying that Democrats stood with the American people while Republicans stood with QAnon.

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

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

Leading Off

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

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

Campaign Action

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

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

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

Senate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gubernatorial

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

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

House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ballot Measures

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

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

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

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

Mayoral

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

Primary Result Recaps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: Nevada Democrats won big in 2018. Our new data shows they may again in 2020

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

Leading Off

Senate-by-LD, Governor-by-LD: Nevada was a huge success story for Team Blue in 2018, with Democrats making big gains in both houses of the legislature at the same time that the party was flipping the U.S. Senate seat and governor's office. And as our new data, which was crunched for us by elections analyst Bill Coningsby, illustrates, Democrats have opportunities to pick up more seats this fall.

Democrats currently hold a 13-8 majority in the Senate, which is just one seat shy of the two-thirds majority needed to pass certain revenue-related measures that the GOP blocked in the previous sessions of the legislature without any GOP votes. In the state Assembly, though, Team Blue has a 29-13 supermajority.

We'll start with a look at the Senate, where half the chamber was up in 2018 while the rest of the seats will be on the ballot this fall. Democrat Jacky Rosen carried 15 of the 21 seats while she was unseating GOP Sen. Dean Heller 50-45, while Democrat Steve Sisolak took those very same districts while he was being elected governor 49-45 over Adam Laxalt. The median district backed Rosen by 53-43 and Sisolak by 52-44, placing it somewhat to the left of the state overall.

Two Republicans sit in Rosen/Sisolak seats, while no Democrats hold Heller/Laxalt districts. The only one of that pair of Republicans up this year is Heidi Gansert, who holds Senate District 15 in the Reno area. This constituency supported Rosen 51-45, while Sisolak took it 50-45; four years ago, the district also backed Hillary Clinton 47-44 while Gansert was winning by a convincing 53-42. This cycle, the Democrats are fielding Wendy Jauregui-Jackins, who lost a close primary for Washoe County assessor last cycle.

The other Republican on unfriendly turf is Keith Pickard, who won a four-year term in 2018 by 24 votes. That year, Rosen and Sisolak carried his SD-20 50-47 and 50-46, respectively.

Democrats do have a few potentially competitive seats to defend this year. Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro won SD-06 51-49 as Clinton was pulling off a 50-45 victory. Last cycle, though, the seat backed Rosen 53-44, while Sisolak took it by a similar 52-44 spread. Democrats will also be looking to keep the open SD-05, which supported Clinton just 48-46 but went for Rosen and Sisolak 53-43 and 52-44.

We'll turn to the 42-person Assembly, where members are elected to 2-year terms. Both Rosen and Sisolak carried the same 29 districts, while Heller and Laxalt took the remaining 13 districts. The two median districts backed Rosen by 54-42 and Sisolak by 53-41, placing them several points to the left of Nevada overall.

One assemblymember from each party holds a seat that was carried by the other side's statewide nominee. On the Democratic side, incumbent Skip Daly won 52-48 in a seat Heller and Laxalt took 49-47 and 49-45; Trump won by a larger 49-43 margin here in 2016. Meanwhile, Republican Assemblyman John Hambrick is termed-out of a seat that backed both Rosen and Sisolak 49-48 but where Trump prevailed 49-46.

We'll also take a quick look at the state's four congressional seats. The 3rd District, which is located in Las Vegas' southern suburbs, backed both Rosen and Sisolak 50-46, which was a shift to the left from Trump's 48-47 win. The 4th District supported Rosen 51-44, while Sisolak took it 50-44; the seat went for Clinton by a similar 50-45 margin in 2016. The 1st District went overwhelmingly for the Democratic ticket, while Republicans had no trouble carrying the 2nd District.

P.S. You can find our master list of statewide election results by congressional and legislative district here, which we'll be updating as we add new states. Additionally, you can find all our data from 2018 and past cycles here.

Election Changes

Please bookmark our litigation tracker spreadsheet for a compilation of the latest developments in major lawsuits over changes to election and voting procedures, along with our statewide 2020 primary calendar and our calendar of key downballot races, all of which we're updating continually as changes are finalized.

Alabama: Civil rights advocates have filed a lawsuit in state court seeking to loosen Alabama's restrictions on mail voting during the pendency of the pandemic. The plaintiffs want the court to order the state to suspend requirements that voters present an excuse to request an absentee ballot, have their ballot envelope notarized, and include a photocopy of their ID with their ballot. Additionally, the plaintiffs want 14 days of in-person early voting, which Alabama currently offers none of, along with drive-through voting and other measures to make voting safe for those not voting by mail.

Florida: Officials in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties, which are home to the greater Tampa area and one in every nine registered voters in Florida, have announced that both counties will pay for postage on mail-in ballots. Officials in the southeastern Florida counties of Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach, which are home to around a quarter of Florida voters, had previously announced measures to implement prepaid postage and also mail out applications for mail ballots to voters or households who had yet to request one.

Montana: Montana's Supreme Court has reversed a lower court ruling that had allowed absentee mail ballots to count if they were postmarked by Election Day and received within a few days afterward. As a result, voters in the June 2 primary, which is taking place almost entirely by mail, will have to make sure election officials receive their ballots by Election Day.

The Supreme Court, however, did not rule on the merits of the plaintiffs' request but rather explained that it was reinstating the original deadline to avoid voter confusion and disruption to election administration. Plaintiffs will still have a chance to make their case that the ballot receipt deadline should be extended for the November general election.

New Jersey: Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has announced that he has no further plans to alter procedures for the July 7 primary. Murphy recently ordered the election to take place largely by mail with active registered voters belonging to a party being sent ballots and inactive or unaffiliated voters getting sent applications, while municipalities operate at least one in-person voting each.

New Mexico: Rep. Ben Ray Luján, who is the presumptive Democratic nominee for Senate in New Mexico, is urging Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver to delay the deadline to return absentee mail ballots, saying he has heard reports of voters failing to receive a mail ballot in time even though the primary is taking place just days away on June 2.

A spokesperson for Toulouse Oliver says that extending the deadline, which currently requires ballots to be received by Election Day rather than simply postmarked by that date, would require legislative action. However, the state legislature isn't in session, and there's no indication yet whether Luján or anyone else will file a last-minute lawsuit instead.

North Carolina: North Carolina's Republican-run state House has almost unanimously passed a bill that would make it easier to vote absentee by mail. In particular, the bill would ease—though not eliminate—the atypical requirement that absentee voters have a notary or two witnesses sign their ballot envelope by allowing only one witness instead.

However, the bill also makes it a felony for election officials to mail actual ballots to voters who haven't requested one, which would prevent Democratic officials in charge of running elections from conducting elections by mail. Activists had also called on lawmakers to make other changes such as prepaying the postage on mail ballots or making Election Day a state holiday, but Republican legislators refused.

Even if it becomes law, this bill is not likely to be the final word on voting changes in North Carolina. Two separate lawsuits at the federal and state levels are partially or wholly challenging the witness requirement, lack of prepaid postage, and other absentee voting procedures.

South Carolina: South Carolina's all-Republican state Supreme Court has rejected a Democratic lawsuit seeking to waive the requirement that voters under age 65 provide a specific excuse to vote absentee by mail in June's primary. The court ruled that the issue was moot after the Republican-run state legislature recently passed a law waiving the excuse requirement for the June 9 primary and June 23 runoffs. However, that waiver will expire in July, so Democrats are likely to continue pressing their claim in either state court or a separate federal lawsuit for November.

Texas: Texas' all-Republican Supreme Court has sided with Republican state Attorney General Ken Paxton in determining that lack of coronavirus immunity doesn't qualify as an excuse for requesting a mail ballot under the state's definition of "disability." Consequently, all voters must present an excuse to vote by mail except for those age 65 or older, a demographic that favors Republicans.

While the ruling did note that it's up to voters to decide whether or not to "apply to vote by mail based on a disability," that may not be much of a silver lining, because Paxton has repeatedly threatened activists with criminal prosecution for advising voters to request mail ballots. If campaigns and civic groups limit their outreach as a result of Paxton's threats, then even voters still entitled to mail ballots may not learn about the option.

However, in one positive development for voting access, the court ruled that Paxton couldn't tell officials in five counties not to send absentee ballots to voters citing disability even for coronavirus, since Texas' absentee application doesn't ask what a voter's disability is. In addition, separate federal litigation remains ongoing after a lower court blocked the absentee excuse requirement. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is set to rule soon on whether to in turn block that ruling for the state's July 14 primary runoff.

Virginia: Conservatives filed a federal lawsuit earlier this month seeking to block Virginia from implementing its absentee voting plan for the state's June 23 primary, specifically targeting instructions that voters "may choose reason '2A My disability or illness' for absentee voting." Although a new law was passed this year to permanently remove the excuse requirement, it doesn't go into effect until July. Consequently, the plaintiffs argue that the current law is being impermissibly interpreted to let those concerned about coronavirus cite it as an excuse to obtain an absentee ballot when they aren't physically ill themselves and don't otherwise qualify.

Wisconsin: Wisconsin's bipartisan Elections Commission has unanimously voted to send applications for absentee mail ballots to all registered voters, which requires a photo ID. However, the commissioners still must decide on the wording of the letter sent to voters, and a deadlock over the language could prevent the commission from sending anything at all. Notably, the Republican commissioners' votes to mail applications comes after the major Democratic stronghold of Milwaukee and some other Democratic-leaning cities had already moved to do so, so the GOP may face pressure to extend the practice statewide.

Senate

GA-Sen-A: Investigative filmmaker Jon Ossoff talks about the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in his new ad for the June 9 Democratic primary. Ossoff tells the audience that his business involves investigating corruption, "And when a young black man in Georgia is shot dead in the street, but police and prosecutors look the other way? That's the worst kind of corruption." He continues by pledging to "work to reform our criminal justice system" in the Senate.

KS-Sen: On Thursday, just days ahead of the June 1 filing deadline, state Senate President Susan Wagle announced that she was dropping out of the August GOP primary. Wagle's move is good news for state and national party leaders, who are afraid that a crowded field will make it easier for former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to win the primary.

Wagle's decision came weeks after Kansas GOP chair Mike Kuckelman asked her to leave the race in order "to allow our Party to coalesce behind a candidate who will not only win, but will help Republicans down the ballot this November." Wagle's campaign responded to Kuckelman's appeal at the time by saying she wasn't going anywhere and adding, "Others can speculate on his motives, but it may be as simple as he doesn't support strong, pro-life conservative women."

On Thursday, though, Wagle herself cited the party's need to avoid a "primary fight that will divide our party or hurts my colleagues in the state legislature" as one of her main reasons for dropping out. Wagle also argued that a competitive nomination fight would help Democratic state Sen. Barbara Bollier in the fall.

Wagle's departure came hours after Rep. Roger Marshall, who looks like Kobach's main rival, picked up an endorsement from Kansans For Life, a development the Kansas City Star's Bryan Lowry characterized as a major setback for Wagle.

The organization, which Lowry called the state's "leading anti-abortion group," notably backed both Kobach and then-Gov. Jeff Colyer in the 2018 gubernatorial primary. Kobach won that contest by less than 350 votes before losing the general election to Democrat Laura Kelly, and Lowry says that plenty of state Republican operatives believe things would have turned out very differently if KFL had only supported Colyer.

Meanwhile, Bollier's second TV ad touts her as a "sensible centrist" and a "leading moderate voice."

ME-Sen: A progressive group led by former Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling is out with a survey from Victory Geek that shows Democratic state House Speaker Sara Gideon leading GOP Sen. Susan Collins 51-42. The poll also tested 2018 gubernatorial candidate Betty Sweet, who is a longshot candidate in the July Democratic primary, and found her edging Collins 44-43; Strimling disclosed that he was close to Sweet and had contributed to her campaign.

This is the first poll we've ever seen from Victory Geek, a firm Strimling characterized as "a non-partisan data and telecom provider with mostly conservative clients." Strimling called this survey a "joint left/right partnership" between Victory Geek and his progressive organization, "Swing Hard. Run Fast. Turn Left!"

The is also the first poll we've seen here in close to three months, so we don't have a good sense if Collins really is badly trailing. Indeed, the only other numbers we've seen from Maine all year were a February SocialSphere poll that had Gideon up 43-42 and an early March survey from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling that had her ahead 47-43. While it's very clear that Collins is in for the fight of her career, we need more data before we can call her an underdog.

Gubernatorial

MO-Gov: The conservative pollster We Ask America finds GOP Gov. Mike Parson leading Democrat Nicole Galloway 47-39, while Donald Trump edges Joe Biden 48-44. The only other poll we've seen here in the last month was a late April survey from the GOP firm Remington Research for the Missouri Scout tipsheet that showed Parson ahead 52-39.

VT-Gov: On Thursday, which was the candidate filing deadline, GOP Gov. Phil Scott confirmed that he'd seek a third two-year term. While Scott waited until now to make his plans official, there was never any serious talk about him stepping aside. Scott also pledged that he wouldn't bring on "a campaign staff or office, be raising money, or participating in normal campaign events" until the current state of emergency is over.

House

HI-02: On Thursday, VoteVets endorsed state Sen. Kai Kahele in the August Democratic primary. Kahele currently faces no serious intra-party opposition for this safely blue open seat, though it's always possible someone could launch a last-minute campaign before the filing deadline passes on Tuesday.

IA-04: Politico reports that Iowa Four PAC, a group run by former GOP state House Speaker Christopher Rants, has launched a $20,000 TV buy against white supremacist Rep. Steve King ahead of Tuesday's GOP primary. The commercial declares that it's "sad that Steve King lost his committee assignments in Congress and embarrassed Iowa." The narrator also says that "President Trump stopped allowing Steve King to fly on Air Force One." The rest of the ad touts state Sen. Randy Feenstra as a reliable Trump ally.

Meanwhile, 2018 Democratic nominee J.D. Scholten, who doesn't face any intra-party opposition next week, has launched what Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin reports is a $50,000 TV buy. The 60-second ad, which is narrated by "Field of Dreams" star Kevin Costner, is a shorter version of Scholten's launch video. The spot features images of western Iowa and its people and declares that the area is "rooted within us. Within him."

IN-01: Former Sen. Joe Donnelly endorsed Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott on Monday ahead of next week's Democratic primary. Meanwhile, the Voter Protection Project has announced that it will spend "six figures" on mailers supporting state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon.

IN-05: The anti-tax Club for Growth began targeting former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi a little while ago, and it recently went up with a commercial targeting businesswoman Beth Henderson, who is another candidate in next week's GOP primary. Roll Call's Jessica Wehrman writes that the Club, which backs state Sen. Victoria Spartz, has spent $400,000 on ads for this contest.

The ad shows an old clip of Henderson from just before the 2016 Indiana presidential primary saying of Donald Trump, "I don't like his outbursts and his inappropriateness with the public and … his scruples." The narrator goes on to argue that Henderson "even went on Facebook to support a liberal group that called for Trump's impeachment."

Spartz, who has self-funded most of her campaign, has decisively outspent her many opponents in this competitive open seat. A recent poll for the Club also showed her leading Brizzi 32-14 as Henderson took 13%, and no one has released any contradictory numbers.

Henderson is also acting like Spartz is the one to beat here. Henderson made sure to inform voters in a recent ad that she was born in the United States in what appears to be a not-very subtle shot at Spartz, who has discussed leaving her native Ukraine in her own commercials.

NY-24: 2018 nominee Dana Balter is out with her second TV spot ahead of the June 23 Democratic primary to face GOP Rep. John Katko.

Balter tells the audience that she has a pre-existing condition and continues, "I know the fear of living without insurance, so it's personal when John Katko repeatedly votes to sabotage Obamacare and put coverage for pre-existing conditions at risk." Balter declares that she came closer to defeating Katko last cycle than anyone ever has, and pledges "we'll finish the job so everyone has good healthcare."

NV-03: The conservative super PAC Ending Spending recently launched an ad against former state Treasurer Dan Schwartz ahead of the June 9 GOP primary, and Politico reports that the size of the buy for the TV and digital campaign is $300,000.

UT-04: Former Rep. Mia Love has endorsed state Rep. Kim Coleman in the June 30 GOP primary to take on freshman Rep. Ben McAdams.

DCCC: The DCCC has added another six contenders to its program for top candidates:

  • AK-AL: Alyse Galvin
  • AR-02: Joyce Elliott
  • MT-AL: Kathleen Williams
  • NC-08: Pat Timmons-Goodson
  • NE-02: Kara Eastman
  • OH-01: Kate Schroder

Kathleen Williams, who was the 2018 nominee for Montana’s only House seat, does face a primary on Tuesday against state Rep. Tom Winter. However, Winter has struggled with fundraising during the contest.

Judicial

MI Supreme Court: On Tuesday, the Michigan Democratic Party announced its endorsements for the two state Supreme Court seats on the ballot in November, backing Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack and attorney Elizabeth Welch. Both Democratic-backed candidates will face off against two Republican-supported candidates in elections this fall that are nominally nonpartisan and let voters select up to two candidates elected by plurality winner. If McCormack is re-elected and Welch wins office to succeed a retiring GOP justice, Democrats would gain a 4-3 majority on the bench.

A Democratic majority would have major implications for battles over redistricting and voting access, two topics that are currently the subject of active lawsuits at both the state and federal levels in Michigan. While Michigan has a new independent redistricting commission, Republicans are currently suing in federal court to strike it down, something that isn't outside the realm of possibility given the conservative U.S. Supreme Court majority, but a Democratic state court could serve as a bulwark against unfair maps in such a scenario.

Grab Bag

Deaths: Former Rep. Sam Johnson, a Texas Republican who represented Dallas' northern suburbs from 1991 to 2019, died Wednesday at the age of 89. Johnson was the last Korean War veteran to serve in Congress, as well as a founding member of what later became the influential Republican Study Committee.

Johnson was serving as a fighter pilot in Vietnam in 1966 when his plane was shot down and he was captured by North Vietnamese forces. Johnson spent almost seven years as a prisoner of war, a period that included physical and mental torture. Johnson and another future Republican politician, John McCain, also shared a tiny cell for 18 months.

Johnson was released in 1973, and he went on to become a homebuilder back in Texas. Johnson was elected to the state House in 1984, and he sought an open U.S. House seat in a 1991 special election after Republican Steve Bartlett resigned to become mayor of Dallas. Johnson took second in the all-party primary against a fellow Vietnam veteran, former Reagan White House aide Tom Pauken, and the two met in an all-Republican general election. Johnson emphasized his military service and won 53-47, and he never had trouble winning re-election for the rest of his career.

In 2000, Johnson notably endorsed George W. Bush over McCain, saying of his former cellmate, "I know him pretty well … and I can tell you, he cannot hold a candle to George Bush." Three years later, though, McCain would say of the Texan, "I wasn't really as courageous as Sam Johnson." Johnson would ultimately back McCain in the 2008 primaries, arguing it was "time to get behind the front-runner."

Conservative courts order Wisconsin election to proceed—risks to health and democracy be damned

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

Leading Off

Wisconsin: A day of maximal chaos in Wisconsin ended with two conservative courts insisting Tuesday's election go forward and limiting absentee voting, moves that threaten to prevent countless voters from participating and render the results illegitimate.

On Monday afternoon, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers issued an executive order postponing the election—which includes a presidential primary and races for state and local office—to June 9. Republicans, however, have bitterly opposed such a delay and immediately challenged the order before the state Supreme Court. Hours later, the court's four conservatives who heard the case blocked Evers' order, with both liberal justices dissenting. As a result, the state was left with no choice but to proceed with in-person voting Tuesday, despite the serious risks to public health and a crippled elections infrastructure.

Not long thereafter, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned an order made last Thursday by a lower court, which said that voters could cast absentee ballots so long as election officials received them by April 13, regardless of when they were postmarked. In a 5-4 ruling—which, like the Wisconsin high court's decision, fell along strictly ideological lines—the court's conservatives ruled that all ballots must be postmarked by April 7.

This means that those who have the misfortune to receive their ballots late—a distinct possibility for many, given the huge surge in requests—now face an impossible choice, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted in a dissent: They must either risk their health by voting in person on Tuesday, or disenfranchise themselves by not voting at all. The same holds true for anyone who was unable to request a ballot, as well as the many groups of voters who cannot vote by mail, such as those who are without housing.

Campaign Action

And for those who do choose to head to the polls, they face an elections infrastructure in shambles. Due to a shortage of poll workers, Milwaukee, the largest city in Wisconsin, was set to open just five polling sites, down from its usual 180. The same problem has plagued jurisdictions across the state. Many voters will therefore be deprived of their right to vote, and efforts to halt the spread of the coronavirus will be undermined.

But a deep cynicism motivates the right-wing hostility to letting voters participate in the election safely: With progressives mounting a competitive campaign to unseat an arch-conservative appointee of former Gov. Scott Walker on the state Supreme Court, Republicans appear to be counting on the pandemic to disproportionately suppress votes on the left.

In part that's because social distancing is more difficult in denser urban areas, which make up the bulk of the Democratic vote; voters in more sparsely populated rural areas are likely to be less deterred from voting in person, since they're apt to encounter fewer people at the polls or on their way there. In addition, polling shows Republicans are simply less concerned about the coronavirus in general, meaning they're more willing to ignore the danger to public health (and their own) that in-person voting poses.

And now, after decades of concerted effort, Republicans have succeeded in installing partisan ideologues on the bench—both federally and at the state level—who are only too happy to cloak the GOP's malevolent political goals in the language of legalese and bless them with the authority of the bench. In a searing irony, a message atop the Wisconsin Supreme Court's website explains that the courts are closed due to COVID-19—just above a link to the court's order saying Tuesday's election must take place despite COVID-19.

In his ruling last week delaying the deadline for absentee ballots to be received, Judge William Conley included a pregnant footnote. "The court will reserve," he wrote, "on the question as to whether the actual voter turnout, ability to vote on election day or overall conduct of the election and counting votes timely has undermined citizens' right to vote."

In other words, Conley suggested that he might entertain further challenges after the election if the all-important right to vote has been abridged in some way based on how the election is carried out. As things stand, it's impossible to see how those rights won't be sabotaged, but with the partisans in robes sitting above Conley, it's just as hard to see them permitting any remedy he might fashion to stand.

Election Changes

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

Iowa: Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate says that he's considering the option of conducting November's general election entirely by mail. Previously, Pate said he'd mail absentee ballot applications to every active registered voter ahead of Iowa's June 2 downballot primaries. Pate says he considered making the primary all-mail but opted not to after talking to officials in Washington and Oregon, who described the long timeframes that had been needed to convert their states to mail voting.

Montana: Republican Secretary of State Corey Stapleton says that all 56 Montana counties plan to conduct the state's June 2 presidential and downballot primaries by mail, an option that Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock recently made available.

New Jersey: Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy says he'll be "stunned" if the state doesn't postpone its June 2 presidential and downballot primaries, promising a decision "pretty soon."

Virginia: Republicans in Virginia's 7th Congressional District have indefinitely postponed their April 25 convention and have voted to sue the Board of Elections to seek an exemption from Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam's ban on gatherings of more than 10 people. Officials are also considering alternate methods of conducting their convention, such as online or by mail. The committee must pick a nominee by June 9. Republicans in the 5th District, who face the same situation, are meeting on Sunday to discuss their plans.

1Q Fundraising

TN-Sen: Bill Hagerty (R): $1.2 million raised, $5.6 million cash-on-hand (note: Hagerty's campaign would not tell the Associated Press how much of his haul came from self-funding)

IA-03: David Young (R): $400,000 raised

MA-04: Jake Auchincloss (D): $474,000 raised, $947,000 cash-on-hand; Alan Khazei (D): $278,000, $783,000 cash-on-hand raised

NH-01: Matt Mowers (R): $354,000 raised, $315,000 cash-on-hand

TX-07: Wesley Hunt (R): $920,000 raised

TX-24: Kim Olson (D): $370,000 raised; Candace Valenzuela (D): $305,000 raised

Senate

KY-Sen: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently went up with a commercial that praised him for the coronavirus economic bill, and Marine veteran Amy McGrath is now out with a response ad. The narrator declares that McConnell is "already taking a victory lap against the coronavirus in TV ads, even though medical experts say hundreds of thousands of Americans could die." The Democrat's ad also takes McConnell to task for blocking "emergency research until drug companies could overcharge for vaccines."

MI-Sen: The conservative think tank American Principles Project is out with a poll from the GOP firm Spry Strategies that gives Democratic Sen. Gary Peters a 42-40 edge over Republican John James.

South Dakota: Candidate filing closed last week for South Dakota's June 2 primary, and the state has a list of contenders available here. A primary runoff will take place on Aug. 11 in races where no candidate took more than 35% of the vote.

However, both the primary and the general election should be quiet this year in this very red state. GOP Sen. Mike Rounds faces an intra-party challenge from state Rep. Scyller Borglum, who raised very little cash in 2019. Rep. Dusty Johnson also drew a challenge from former state Rep. Liz Marty May, who narrowly lost re-election last cycle.

Gubernatorial

MT-Gov: On Monday, the Montana Federation of Public Employees endorsed Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney in the June Democratic primary. Cooney's campaign says that this is the state's largest union.

WV-Gov: Democratic state Sen. Ron Stollings is out with a spot ahead of the June primary focused on the coronavirus. Stollings, who works as a physician, appears in his lab coat and tells the audience, "Regarding the coronavirus, I'm so glad we were able to get $2 million in the budget to help fight that. That was my amendment."

Stollings spends the rest of the ad telling the audience to use "good common sense" during the pandemic. He says to "assume everyone has the coronavirus. They don't, but that way, you will socially distance yourself and you'll use hand washing techniques." He also urges the viewer, "Do not go around your loved ones, your older loved ones, if you're sick."

House

CA-25: The DCCC has launched a $1 million ad campaign against Republican Mike Garcia that the Los Angeles Times reports will run until the May 12 special election. Politico reports that $930,000 of this is going to cable TV and another $42,000 will be for Spanish-language commercials, while the balance will be for digital advertising.

The DCCC's opening spot alludes to the coronavirus without mentioning it directly: The narrator says, "More than ever we need a leader who will put our health and safety first." The commercial goes on to say, "But Mike Garcia would let insurance companies deny coverage for pre-existing conditions … and hike up costs for life-saving drugs." The commercial then praises Democrat Christy Smith for refusing to "take a dime from pharmaceutical companies."

The ad comes shortly after the NRCC also began spending here. Politico reports that the committee is deploying $330,000 for broadcast TV in addition to the $690,000 cable buy we noted last week.

FL-19: Physician William Figlesthaler uses his first ad ahead of the August GOP primary to tell the audience that "career politicians from both parties have failed" to handle the coronavirus. The candidate uses an image of Bernie Sanders to represent Democrats who "want socialized medicine," while the late John McCain stands in for the establishment Republicans Figlesthaler says "failed to implement President Trump's aggressive free market health care solutions."

KY-04: GOP Rep. Thomas Massie is up with an ad portraying him as a loyal Donald Trump ally while ignoring that Trump called him "a disaster for America, and for the Great State of Kentucky" less than two weeks ago. Massie also doesn't mention Todd McMurtry, who is his opponent in the June primary.

MI-13: Target-Insyght is out with a survey of the August Democratic primary conducted from March 31 to April 2 that gives Rep. Rashida Tlaib a 43-34 advantage in her rematch against Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones. Back in July, well before Jones kicked off her campaign, the same firm found Tlaib with a far larger 56-19 lead. Jones, who entered the race on March 25, announced on Thursday that she had tested positive for COVID-19 but added she was "not experiencing any of the horrific symptoms associated with the coronavirus."

NM-02: A recently formed super PAC called Citizens United for NM is spending at least $47,000 on a commercial attacking 2018 nominee Yvette Herrell ahead of the June GOP primary to take on Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small. This group was created by Butch Mathews, who owns a trucking company that works in the state's oil and gas industry, and it donated to Herrell's main intra-party foe, oil businesswoman Claire Chase.

The commercial says that in 2016, Herrell sent out emails "to undermine Trump's campaign for president" and also "used taxpayer funds to attend an anti-Trump soiree at a San Diego hotel where they hung a Trump piñata from the ceiling." The commercial comes several months after Chase ran into problems when her old 2016 social media posts attacking Trump surfaced.

Virginia: Candidate filing closed last month for Virginia's June 9 primary, and the state now has a list of contenders.

Virginia allows parties to nominate candidates through party conventions or through a party-run firehouse primary, so not every November matchup will be decided in June. Both parties are holding primaries for Senate, but the situation varies in House seats: The GOP is hosting primaries in only five of the 11 congressional districts, while Democrats are doing primaries everywhere except for the safely red 9th Congressional District.

VA-02: Democrat Elaine Luria unseated Republican incumbent Scott Taylor 51-49 last cycle, and Republicans are hoping to take back this 49-45 Trump seat in the Virginia Beach area.

Taylor initially decided to launch a longshot challenge to Sen. Mark Warner, but he announced in January that he would instead seek a rematch against Luria. Navy veteran and 2010 candidate Ben Loyola was already running, though, and he decided to remain in the contest. Loyola has the support of former Rep. Scott Rigell, who defeated him 40-27 in the primary for an open seat in 2010 and retired in 2016. Navy veteran Jarome Bell is also running, but he didn’t report raising any money during the final months of 2019.

Taylor is the frontrunner to win the GOP nod, but Team Red may still benefit from a different nominee. Taylor’s staff was exposed during the 2018 campaign for forging signatures on behalf of Democrat-turned-independent Shaun Brown (who was booted off the ballot by a judge), and Democrats ran ads slamming Taylor's campaign for its skullduggery.

The story has not gone away since Taylor's defeat. Last month, a former Taylor staffer pleaded guilty for her part in the scheme, and the local prosecutor said the "investigation is still ongoing" and that we're "likely to see more" indictments to come. Taylor himself has consistently denied any knowledge of the scheme, but his staff had previously claimed the congressman was indeed aware of their plans.

VA-05: While the GOP opted to select its nominee through a convention, Democrats decided to hold a primary here instead. This seat, which includes Charlottesville and the south-central part of the state, moved from 53-46 Romney to 53-42 Trump, but Democrats are hoping that the ugly GOP nomination battle between freshman Rep. Denver Riggleman and Campbell County Supervisor Bob Good will give them an opening.

Four Democrats filed to compete in the primary. EMILY’s List is backing Claire Russo, while VoteVets is supporting fellow Marine veteran Roger Dean Huffstetler, who unsuccessfully ran here in 2018. Physician Cameron Webb and Rappahannock County Supervisor John Lesinski are also running.

House: House Majority PAC, which is the second-largest spender on House races among outside groups on the Democratic side, has announced that it's reserved a total of $51 million in fall TV time in 29 different media markets. We've assembled this new data into a spreadsheet, but as you'll see, it's organized by market rather than district, so we've also included our best guesses as to which House seats HMP is specifically targeting or defending.

The reason these buys are organized this way is because advertising can only be booked market by market. The geographic regions served by particular TV stations rarely correspond with political boundaries, and the reverse is true as well.

About half of the nation's 435 congressional districts are contained within a single media market, while the other half cross two or more (sprawling Montana's lone House district reaches into nine different markets, the most in the country). Conversely, all but a couple dozen of the 900-plus media markets in the U.S. overlap with two or more congressional districts; jumbo-sized New York City, for instance, covers all or part of 34 different House seats in four different states. Inevitably, this mismatch means that many TV watchers will wind up seeing ads for districts they don't live in.

Most importantly, these reservations give us an early window into which races HMP expects to be competitive, but they don't tell us everything. As Politico notes, most of these media markets will likely attract hordes of ad money from presidential and Senate campaigns, so HMP is reserving now to lock in cheaper rates before high demand for TV time brings prices up. HMP can afford to wait, though, to book ads in competitive House seats located in markets like Los Angeles and Salt Lake City since there won't be nearly as much competition for airtime there.

As we alluded to just above, HMP included several markets in this first wave of reservations that contain at least a portion of several different competitive House seats, most notably Philadelphia. If you're interested in knowing exactly which media markets cover which congressional districts across the country, naturally we've got all that data for you. It's what we used, in fact, to hone our guesses as to which seats HMP cares about.

However, it's still too early to know how much money the PAC will direct towards each race. Often, major outside groups will change their planning based on how individual contests seem to be shaping up.

In 2018, for instance, the NRCC reserved a large chunk of TV time in the pricey Miami media market but, initially, it only used those bookings to air ads defending Rep. Carlos Curbelo in Florida's 26th District. Late in the cycle, though, the NRCC put some of that reserved airtime to work in an effort to save the open 27th District, which it had previously appeared to give up on.

Around that same time, the committee made the opposite move in the Las Vegas market. The NRCC reserved millions there well before Election Day, and it initially seemed that it would spend to try to flip both Nevada's 3rd and 4th Districts. In October, though, the NRCC decided to direct all its money towards helping former Rep. Cresent Hardy in the 4th District, and it didn't end up spending in the 3rd District at all.

None of these deck chair rearrangements wound up mattering, though: Republicans ultimately lost all four of these races in what was a terrible year for the GOP. But they're a good reminder that TV reservations often do not reveal the entire House battlefield.

Other Races

WA-LG: Retiring Rep. Denny Heck recently filed paperwork with the state to run for lieutenant governor, though the Democrat has not said he’s in yet. The filing deadline for Washington’s August top-two primary is May 15.

Heck surprised political observers in December when he announced that he would not seek a fifth term in his reliably blue seat. In an unusually candid letter, Heck described both the many things he'd loved about serving in Congress but also admitted he'd grown "discouraged," explaining that "countless hours I have spent in the investigation of Russian election interference and the impeachment inquiry have rendered my soul weary." Last month, Democratic Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib made an unexpected decision of his own when he revealed that he wouldn’t be seeking re-election and would instead leave politics to become a Jesuit.

If Heck goes forward with a campaign to succeed Habib, he’ll be the second retiring House member this cycle to run for a lieutenant governor’s post. Utah Rep. Rob Bishop confirmed back in July that he’d leave the House, and the Republican later announced in January that he’d serve as former state party chair Thomas Wright’s running mate.

However, both Heck and Bishop would be running for office under very different rules. In Utah, Wright and Bishop will either win or lose the June primary together as a ticket; if they clear the primary, they’d also both be elected or defeated together in the general election. In Washington, though, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor compete separately in both the top-two primary and the general election.

Morning Digest: Ardent Trump ally will reportedly challenge GOP senator in Georgia special election

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

Leading Off

GA-Sen-B: On Monday evening, multiple media outlets reported that Georgia Rep. Doug Collins would challenge appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a fellow Republican, in this year’s special election, a move that would complicate GOP hopes of holding this key seat.

Collins himself has not publicly said anything about his plans, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that his launch is expected “soon.” (The New York Times said it would happen Tuesday, but that did not come to pass.) Collins is currently serving as one of Donald Trump’s designated surrogates during his impeachment trial, and the AJC writes that the congressman hopes to have Trump’s inner circle behind him.

Campaign Action

If Collins goes ahead with his bid, that would almost certainly crush GOP hopes of winning outright in November, at least under the state’s current election law. That's because all candidates from all parties will run together on a single ballot, and if no one takes a majority, a runoff between the top two vote-getters—regardless of party—would be held in January of next year.

However, neither Democrats nor Collins’ GOP allies in the state legislature are keen on this unusual law, and they’re currently working to change it. On Tuesday, the House Governmental Affairs Committee overwhelmingly advanced a bill (with a lone Republican voting “nay”) that would require a partisan primary in May and a general election in November, which are the same rules that govern the state’s regularly-scheduled Senate race.

However, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who appointed Loeffler over Collins despite Trump’s wishes, likes the status quo just fine. He’s said he’ll veto this legislation if it makes it to his desk, though if Democrats and Republicans unite behind the bill, they could overturn a Kemp veto with a two-thirds supermajority.

It’s not hard to see why Loeffler and her supporters don’t want to alter Georgia’s electoral calendar. A survey from the Democratic firm PPP taken just after Loeffler was selected in December showed Collins destroying her 56-16 in a hypothetical GOP primary. Collins’ bonafides with the Trumpist base would be hard to overcome if the primary took place less than four months from now, but Loeffler could benefit from an additional half year of incumbency, as well as the extra time to air ads.

It’s not just the far-right that would benefit from this proposed change—Democrats likely would, too. Right now, Team Blue’s only declared candidate is businessman Matt Lieberman, but former U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver recently said that he planned to run while the Rev. Raphael Warnock is also reportedly going to get in soon. If all three Democrats wind up competing in an all-party primary in November, it will almost certainly be impossible for any of them to secure a majority. The prospect of a multi-way split on the left could also lead to the nightmare scenario of both Loeffler and Collins advancing to what would be an all-GOP runoff.

Thanks to her vast wealth, though, Loeffler doesn’t have to wait to see how things shake out to start upping her name recognition. She’s already up with a new TV spot that’s part of her opening $2.6 million buy that portrays her as (of course) a political outsider. The senator has reportedly pledged to spend $20 million of her own money, so Georgians will see a lot more from her no matter what Collins ends up doing.

Loeffler may also get some air support from outside groups. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the incumbent, as has the NRSC, though Senate Republicans may prefer to focus their attention on other races in a cycle when control of the chamber is on the line. It’s not clear who might come to Collins’ aid, but the anti-tax Club for Growth has already made it clear that he’s no friend of theirs. On Monday, the Club tweeted that the congressman “should start being more responsible with taxpayer dollars and improving the 57%” he received on its scorecard.

Trump, however, has yet to endorse Loeffler and has openly expressed his enthusiasm for Collins. Could the occupant of the White House side against a sitting senator from his own party? If anyone would do it, it’s Donald Trump.

4Q Fundraising

ME-Sen: Sara Gideon (D): $3.5 million raised, $2.8 million cash-on-hand

TX-Sen: MJ Hegar (D): $1.1 million raised, $1 million cash-on-hand

CA-21: David Valadao (R): $630,000 raised, $1 million cash-on-hand

CA-39: Young Kim (R): $490,000 raised, $900,000 cash-on-hand

CO-03: Lauren Boebert (R): $17,000 raised, additional $2,000 self-funded, $17,000 cash-on-hand

NY-24: John Katko (R-inc): $364,000 raised, $1.06 million cash-on-hand

WI-01: Bryan Steil (R-inc): $375,000 raised, $1 million cash-on-hand

Senate

AL-Sen: Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is out with another poll of the March GOP primary from OnMessage that shows him well ahead of his many rivals but still short of the majority he needs to win without a runoff. The results are below with the numbers from Sessions' December poll in parentheses:

Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions: 43 (44)

Rep. Bradley Byrne: 23 (14)

Former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville: 22 (21)

2017 nominee Roy Moore: 8 (7)

The only big change between the two polls is that Byrne has gained several points and is now locked in a tight race with Tuberville for second.

Byrne has been running ads over the last few weeks, and he's now getting some air support from a super PAC called Fighting for Alabama Fund. The group's opening commercial praises Byrne as "one of President Trump's strongest defenders," and it features clips of the congressman denouncing impeachment. The conservative Yellowhammer News writes that the super PAC's "total buy will be in the six-figures across the Birmingham and Huntsville media markets."

WV-Sen: Candidate filing closed Saturday for West Virginia's May 12 primary, and the state has a list of contenders available here.

GOP Sen. Shelley Moore Capito decisively won an open seat race in 2014, and there's no indication that she's in any trouble this cycle. Capito does face a primary challenge from Allen Whitt, the president of the social conservative group the Family Policy Council of West Virginia, but he doesn't appear to be much of a threat. Whitt raised less than $7,000 from donors during the final three months of 2019 and self-funded another $50,000, and he had $52,000 to spend at the end of December.

The most notable candidate on the Democratic side is former state Sen. Richard Ojeda, who lost the 2018 general election for the 3rd Congressional District and later launched a brief presidential bid. Also in the race is 2018 Senate candidate Paula Jean Swearengin, who challenged Sen. Joe Manchin from the left in the 2018 primary and lost 70-30.

Gubernatorial

WV-Gov: Gov. Jim Justice left the Democratic Party at a 2017 Trump rally months into his term, and he's competing in the GOP primary for the first time. Justice's main intra-party rival appears to be former state Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher, whom Justice hired and later fired. Also in the running is former Del. Mike Folk, who hasn't brought in much money so far.

Thrasher, who has been self-funding most of his campaign, began airing TV ads in June and has continued to spend heavily on spots since then. However, even Thrasher seems to agree that he's trailing right now: A mid-December Thrasher poll showed Justice leading him 38-30, while Folk was a distant third with 6%.

Three notable Democrats are also running to take on Justice. Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango and state Sen. Ron Stollings each describe themselves as moderates, while community organizer Stephen Smith is appealing to progressive voters. Salango, who has also been self-funding much of his campaign, ended December with an enormous cash advantage over his two intra-party foes.

House

CA-22: Financial adviser Phil Arballo is out with his first TV spot ahead of the March top-two primary to face GOP Rep. Devin Nunes, and the Democrat's campaign says that it will run for six figures. The ad highlights Arballo's local roots and background and does not mention Nunes.

MA-03: Andover Selectman Dan Koh filed with the FEC on Friday for a potential Democratic primary rematch against incumbent Lori Trahan, but he says he's still deciding whether to run. Koh lost the 2018 open seat race to Trahan by just 145 votes, and he's been talking about running again for months. Back in December, the House Ethics Committee announced that it was furthering its investigation into Trahan over loans totaling $300,000 that she made to her campaign ahead of that primary.

MD-07: Campaign finance reports are in for all of the candidates competing in Tuesday's special Democratic primary to succeed the late Rep. Elijah Cummings in this safely blue seat. The numbers, which cover the period from Oct. 1 to Jan. 15, are below:

Del. Talmadge Branch: $54,000 raised, additional $4,000 self-funded, $14,000 spent, $44,000 cash-on-hand

State Sen. Jill Carter: $54,000 raised, $14,000 spent, $42,000 cash-on-hand

Former state party chair Maya Rockeymoore Cummings: $208,000 raised, $139,000 spent, $69,000 cash-on-hand

University of Baltimore Law School professor Michael Higginbotham: $108,000 raised, additional $509,000 self-funded, $407,000 spent, $209,000 cash-on-hand

Del. Terri Hill: $49,000 raised, $9,000 spent, $41,000 cash-on-hand

Del. Jay Jalisi: $43,000 raised, additional $75,000 self-funded, $0 spent, $118,000 cash-on-hand

Former Rep. Kweisi Mfume: $261,000 raised, additional $5,000 self-funded, $57,000 spent, $209,000 cash-on-hand

Business consultant Saafir Rabb: $217,000 raised, $144,000 spent, $73,000 cash-on-hand

Former Cummings aide Harry Spikes: $19,000 raised, $10,000 spent, $9,000 cash-on-hand

This is the first we've written about the two top spenders, Higginbotham and Rabb.

NY-27: Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw announced Monday that he'd compete in the June GOP primary for the full two-year term, a move that came two days after county party leaders passed him over for the party's nomination for upcoming special election in favor of state Sen. Chris Jacobs. Attorney and Fox News contributor Beth Parlato, who also lost on Saturday, had already launched a primary campaign for this 60-35 Trump seat.

Mychajliw, who was an ally of disgraced former Rep. Chris Collins, once again expressed his rage at how the special election nomination was "made behind closed doors by party bosses." And while Mychajliw was first elected as Erie County comptroller in 2012, he pitched himself as the anti-establishment candidate. Mychajliw rhetorically asked, "Can you imagine if Donald Trump listened to the establishment Republicans and let Jeb Bush run for the White House?" and concluded, "Hillary Clinton would be president right now."

Two other candidates who unsuccessfully sought the special election nod are also considering proceeding to the June primary. State Sen. Robert Ortt, who reportedly came close to beating Jacobs over the weekend, told the Buffalo Daily News on Monday that he'd decide in the next few days. White House aide Jeff Freeland, by contrast, said that he wouldn't be talking about his plans until impeachment is done.

However, as we've noted before, it's going to be tough to deny Jacobs the GOP nod in June, especially if so many other candidates run. The state attorney general's office told a court that Gov. Andrew Cuomo intends to set the date for April 28, so if Jacobs wins that race, he'd have two months of incumbency before the primary.

SC-01: Freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham is out with his first TV spot of the campaign, and the Post & Courier reports that it's running for six figures.

The ad begins by referencing the commercials from GOP outside groups that have already run here and in other competitive seats across the country, with the narrator describing them as "[a]ttack ads so phony even late-night TV made fun of them." A clip then shows comedian Jimmy Kimmel mocking one Republican spot that starred a woman identified as Stacy by saying, "The problem is 'Stacy' is actually an actress … I bet her name's not even Stacy!"

Cunningham's narrator goes on to say that the congressman is the latest target. The commercial continues by praising Cunningham for keeping his word and passing a bipartisan bill to ban offshore oil drilling, working to aid local veterans, and stopping politicians who "tried to raise their own pay."

TX-13: Lobbyist Josh Winegarner is out with a TV spot ahead of the crowded March GOP primary where the narrator bemoans, "We have 15 candidates from Congress, many of them from out of district." He continues, "A Dallas millionaire's even trying to buy our seat." This person isn't mentioned by name, but it's almost certainly a reference to businessman Chris Ekstrom, who lived in Dallas as recently as May. (The city is located about 55 miles away from the border of this Texas Panhandle-based district.)

Winegarner's commercial goes on to praise the candidate as "a pro-life family man who cannot be bought." Winegarner appears at the end and says the district needs "one of our own."

Winegarner also got an endorsement this week from Rep. Mike Conaway, who is retiring from the neighboring 11th District.

WI-07: The anti-tax Club for Growth has launched its first TV spot in support of state Sen. Tom Tiffany ahead of the Feb. 18 special GOP primary, and Politico reports that the size of the buy is $130,000. The commercial argues that Tiffany will be a Trump ally who has "Wisconsin common sense."

Tiffany himself is also out with an ad where he tells the audience that, in addition to being a family man and a conservative, he's "the dam tender on the Willow Flowage. So, I know a thing or two about holding up under pressure." (We've seen a lot of political spots over the years, but we're quite sure this is the first time we've heard the words "dam tender" in one, much less from the candidate.) Tiffany goes on to say he'll be a Trump ally and that "nobody knows how to drain a swamp like a dam man."

DCCC: On Thursday, the DCCC unveiled the first round of its "Red to Blue" program for the 2020 election cycle, highlighting candidates whom the committee thinks has the strongest chance of picking up GOP-held districts or defending competitive open seats. The full list of candidates making the DCCC's initial roster are below:

AZ-06: Hiral Tipirneni CA-25: Christy Smith IA-02: Rita Hart IL-13: Betsy Dirksen Londrigan IN-05: Christina Hale MN-01: Dan Feehan MO-02: Jill Schupp NY-02: Jackie Gordon PA-10: Eugene DePasquale TX-21: Wendy Davis TX-23: Gina Ortiz Jones WA-03: Carolyn Long

Most of these candidates don't face any serious opposition in their primaries. The biggest exception is in California's 25th District where progressive commentator Cenk Uygur, who has long been a vocal opponent of national party leaders, is competing with Assemblywoman Christy Smith in March. The other is in Arizona's 6th District, where 2018 nominee Anita Malik is making a second run but has struggled to raise as much money as physician Hiral Tipirneni.

The DCCC's decision to back Babylon Town Councilor Jackie Gordon in New York's 2nd District is also notable. Gordon launched a bid against GOP Rep. Peter King in the spring, but there was some talk of other Democrats getting in after King decided to retire in November. No other notable contenders have entered the Democratic primary, though, and it looks like the DCCC doesn't expect that to change.

The DCCC's counterparts at the NRCC have a similar program called Young Guns, but there are some key differences between them. When the DCCC adds a candidate to Red to Blue, it is declaring that this contender is the national party's choice in a key race. By contrast, the NRCC often will add multiple candidates running in the same race, as well as people running in safely red open seats.

Legislative

State Legislative Open Seat Watch: Just as we did in the 2018 cycle, Daily Kos Elections will be tracking open seat data for all state legislative chambers that will be holding regular elections in 2020. In seven states with closed filing deadlines, we've counted 70 Republican to 42 Democratic open seats. For individualized listings of each open seat, along with our calculations of their partisan data, check out this tab.

We'll also be keeping tabs on the number of uncontested seats in each chamber. So far, Republicans have failed to file candidates in 40% of Democratic-held districts, while Democrats have left 32% of Republican seats uncontested. However, these numbers are bound to change as more filing deadlines close across the country. (Note: West Virginia's filing deadline closed on January 25, but we are awaiting confirmation of the finalized candidate list from that state before updating our tracking.)

We'll be posting periodic updates on this project in the Daily Digest and on Twitter, but if you'd like to stay on top of every update as they happen, feel free to bookmark this Google Doc!