Morning Digest: Pro-impeachment House Republicans all lead their challengers in recent fundraising

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

Fundraising: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to present our comprehensive roundups of fundraising data for the first three months of 2022 for both the House and the Senate. Our data includes the numbers for every incumbent (excluding those who've said they're not seeking re-election) and notable announced candidates.

Six of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump last year are running for re-election, and while they all have serious opposition, our fundraising charts show that they each ended March with a clear financial edge over their intra-party foes. The most prominent member of this group is Rep. Liz Cheney, who faces Trump-endorsed attorney Harriet Hageman and a few minor contenders in the August primary to serve as the sole representative for dark-red Wyoming.

Hageman hauled in $1.31 million, which even a few years ago would have been an unthinkably massive quarter for a House candidate, and had $1.06 million on hand. Cheney, though, lapped her by raising $2.94 million, and she finished with $6.77 million in the bank.

Over in South Carolina's 7th District in the Myrtle Beach area, meanwhile, Rep. Tom Rice outraised Trump's pick, state Rep. Russell Fry, $342,000 to $267,000, and the incumbent enjoyed a $2 million to $448,000 cash-on-hand advantage. The only other Republican who brought in a notable amount for the June primary was Horry County School Board chair Ken Richardson, who raised $112,000, self-funded another $500,000, and had $274,000 left. A runoff would take place if no one earns a majority of the vote.

We turn next to Michigan's 3rd in the Grand Rapids area, where Trump's forces have consolidated behind conservative commentator John Gibbs' bid to deny renomination to freshman Rep. Peter Meijer in August. The incumbent, though, outpaced Gibbs $544,000 to $123,000 for the quarter, and he ended March with a gigantic $1.51 million to $82,000 cash-on-hand lead. The winner will need to quickly focus on attorney Hillary Scholten in a seat that redistricting transformed from a 51-47 Trump constituency to one Joe Biden would have carried 53-45: Scholten, who was the 2020 Democratic nominee, took in $483,000, and she had $470,000 available.

The three remaining contests are taking place in states that use the top-two primary system rather than party primaries. In California's 22nd District in the Central Valley, Republican Rep. David Valadao raised $405,000 for the quarter and has $1.64 million to defend himself in a southern Central Valley seat that Biden would have won 55-42.

Valadao's best-funded intra-party foe is former Fresno City Councilman Chris Mathys, who brought in a mere $18,000 but had $310,000 on hand thanks to previous self-funding. The other Republican in the race is King County School Board Member Adam Medeiros, but he had just $36,000 in the bank. (Trump has yet to make an endorsement here.) The one Democrat on the ballot is Assemblyman Rudy Salas, who raised $252,000 and had $309,000 on hand.

Next up is southern Washington's 3rd District, where incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler took in $602,000 and finished with just over $2 million. The GOP's supreme master is supporting Joe Kent, an Army veteran who has defended Putin's invasion of Ukraine, but that endorsement hasn't deterred his fellow Republicans, evangelical author Heidi St. John and state Rep. Vicki Kraft. Kent outraised St. John $441,000 to $219,000 and finished March with a $1.07 million to $283,000 cash-on-hand lead; Kraft, though, had only $4,000 to spend. No Democrats have raised much, but Team Blue could still secure a general election spot in a seat Trump won 51-46.

The last member of this sextet is Rep. Dan Newhouse, who raised $218,000 and had $928,000 on hand in the neighboring 4th. Trump's pick is 2020 gubernatorial nominee Loren Culp, a far-right ex-cop who took in just $46,000 and had $24,000 in the bank. The GOP field also includes businessman Jerrod Sessler, who raised only $9,000 but finished last month with $147,000 in the bank, and state Rep. Brad Klippert, who had all of $5,000 available. The most notable Democrat in this 57-40 Trump eastern Washington seat is businessman Doug White, who took in $124,000 and had $147,000 on hand.

There's far more to see nationwide, and you'll want to bookmark both our House and Senate charts.

THE DOWNBALLOT

Yes, it's a tough-looking midterm, but Democrats can still go on offense! The Downballot takes a deep dive into 10 House districts​ across the country where Republicans are vulnerable for a variety of reasons, whether due to redistricting, retirements, long-term demographic trends, or plain old GOP infighting. Our tour runs from the eastern tip of Long Island in New York all the way to sunny Southern California, with many stops in between.

Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also investigate Ron DeSantis' turbocharged gerrymander aimed at undermining Black representation; discuss two more Republican Senate primaries where Trump endorsements have made a mess of things; call out a Democrat for running an offensive ad that risks contributing to anti-Asian hatred; and take stock of upcoming elections in France and Australia. You can listen to The Downballot on all major podcast platforms, and you'll find a transcript right here by noon Eastern Time.

Redistricting

FL Redistricting: Florida's Republican-run state Senate, which previously said it would outsource its own authority over redistricting to Gov. Ron DeSantis, did just that on Wednesday when it approved DeSantis' new congressional map on a party-line vote. The map, an extreme gerrymander that would undermine Black representation, now goes to the state House.

Senate

AL-Sen: Former Business Council of Alabama leader Katie Britt is running a new ad ahead of the May 24 Republican primary where Britt says she learned to respect the Second Amendment growing up in Alabama. The commercial shows her at a shooting range shooting clay pigeon targets with a shotgun every time she mentions one of Joe Biden's supposed policies on topics such as taxes, inflation, immigration, and abortion.

GA-Sen: Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock's latest ad features the senator telling how he isn't a magician who can fix Washington overnight but instead has focused on providing more jobs, fixing infrastructure, and expanding healthcare.

NC-Sen: The Club for Growth is spending $1.5 million on a new ad where far-right Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson talks to the camera trying to portray former GOP Gov. Pat McCrory as a liberal, arguing he "put liberals in charge of state textbooks" and "backed liberal Democrat judges," after which Robinson says Rep. Ted Budd is the true conservative in the race. In an interview with WRAL, McCrory defended himself by arguing that state law required that he appoint members to the textbook commission recommended by the state education superintendent, who at the time was Democrat June St. Clair Atkinson.

OH-Sen: Far-right billionaire Peter Thiel has upped his support for Protect Ohio Values PAC, which is backing venture capitalist J.D. Vance in the May 3 Republican primary, adding $3.5 million on top of the $10 million donation he made last year.

Meanwhile, the Club for Growth began airing an ad against 2018 candidate Mike Gibbons last Friday, the same day Donald Trump endorsed Vance. The Club's spot intersperses clips of Gibbons and Joe Biden speaking about taxes to portray Gibbons as supportive of tax increases on the middle class.

State Sen. Matt Dolan also has a new ad where he touts his record of "cutting taxes, protecting Ohio jobs, securing the border, and funding the police" and contrasts it with the childish name calling by his primary opponents.

PA-Sen: Penn Progress, the James Carville-backed super PAC that is supporting Rep. Conor Lamb in the May 17 Democratic primary, is airing yet another ad that tries to paint Lt. Gov. John Fetterman as too extreme to win the general election by tarring him as a socialist. The PAC continues on this line of attack even though their first ad using that label was pulled off the air after it relied on an erroneous and since-corrected news report to falsely claim Fetterman is a "self-described socialist."

Touting Lamb's record as a former prosecutor and Marine who won three tough elections and fought Republicans to protect Social Security, the spot points out by contrast how Fetterman once sought an endorsement from the Democratic Socialists of America and that he's been called a "silver spoon socialist." However, the narrator elides the fact that Fetterman didn't get that endorsement in part because he told DSA he doesn't identify as a socialist, and they downplay how the silver spoon quote comes from a former state Republican Party chairman.

Governors

IL-Gov: People Who Play by the Rules PAC, which is funded by billionaire megadonor Richard Uihlein, has a new GOP primary ad that goes after Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin over his past statements from 2021 supporting Black Lives Matter, making the baseless claim that BLM "destroyed cities" and arguing that Irvin supports a movement that stands for looting and defunding the police. Irvin has been trying to distance himself from those past statements, running an ad earlier this year where he calls himself a former "tough-on-crime prosecutor" and says, "All lives matter. It isn't about color."

LA-Gov: Republican state Sen. Sharon Hewitt has confirmed her interest in potentially running for governor next year, though she says a decision is likely months away.

NE-Gov: Businessman Charles Herbster has launched his first ad in the May 10 GOP primary since several women accused him of sexual misconduct last week, and it's a minute-long spot where Herbster doesn't acknowledge the scandal but says "the establishment" is lying about him just like they supposedly did with Trump.

In response to ads that have alleged he really lives out of state and paid his taxes late, Herbster argues he's a bona fide Nebraskan whose business successes don't stop at the state line. He claims early in his career that he once faced the tough choice of paying his employees or his taxes and chose the former but that he later paid "every penny" he owed in taxes and fees after turning his business around.

Another Republican, University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen, began airing a positive spot last week where he's surrounded by his young grandchildren who ask him policy questions on issues such as taxes, "amnesty," and inflation, with Pillen responding each time with a pig-related phrase such as "hogwash" or "when pigs fly."

OH-Gov: Former Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley has debuted the first negative ad in the May 3 Democratic primary, comparing the performance of Cincinnati during his recent tenure with Dayton under former Mayor Nan Whaley, his primary rival. Cranley's spot points to Cincinnati's population growth (which was a rate of 4%  between the 2010 and 2020 censuses) in contrast to Dayton's decline (-3%) as evidence of his successful economic leadership and supposed mismanagement by Whaley. He argues he is the best Democrat to take on GOP Gov. Mike DeWine in the fall.

RI-Gov: Businesswoman Ashley Kalus is spending $109,000 to launch a minute-long ad that introduces herself to voters ahead of the Republican primary in September. The spot focuses on inflation, and Kalus speaks to the camera while rattling off a list of priorities such as making Rhode Island more affordable, protecting parental involvement in education, and fighting drug addiction and crime.

House

CA-41: The Democratic-aligned Welcome PAC is publicizing a poll from Tulchin Research taken in late February and early March that shows Democrat and former federal prosecutor Will Rollins holding a 42-41 lead over longtime Republican Rep. Ken Calvert in a suburban Riverside County district that Trump would have carried just 50-49. This is the first poll we've seen from anyone here.

Rollins has been endorsed by neighboring Democratic Rep. Mark Takano and former Sen. Barbara Boxer, and he raised $466,000 in the first quarter and started April with $618,000 in the bank. Another Democrat competing in the June top-two primary, engineer Shrina Kurani, raised $141,000, self-funded $9,000, and had $208,000 in the bank. Calvert faces only minor intra-party opposition, and he brought in $587,000 last quarter and finished with $1.4 million on-hand.

OH-11: Former state Sen. Nina Turner, who lost last year's special election Democratic primary to now-Rep. Shontel Brown, is out with a negative ad for next month's primary that argues the incumbent has a record of lining her own pockets while failing to do anything for voters.

Starting off by remarking upon how recent inflation has hit working families hard, Turner's spot claims that Brown "opposed Biden's plan" for a "living wage" and voted to raise her own pay by $7,000. The latter claim could lead viewers to believe the pay raise vote happened during Brown’s tenure in Congress while inflation ate up Ohioans' paychecks, even though the ad cites a 2016 vote from when she was on the Cuyahoga County Council.

Turner's spot then revives an unsubstantiated allegation she made during last summer's special election that Brown faced an ethics investigation after she "voted for millions in corrupt contracts." However, as we noted at the time, Turner's accusation that Brown was referred to the Ohio Ethics Commission relies on a story co-authored by left-wing essayist Walker Bragman, who notoriously wrote a 2016 piece headlined, "A liberal case for Donald Trump." But Bragman's own story acknowledged at the very end that the commission refused to "confirm or deny" any such investigation existed, and there was no reliable reporting as to whether it did.

PA-12: Former Pennsylvania Securities Commission head Steve Irwin's new Democratic primary ad shows him playing an accordion while the narrator contends that some in Congress merely "want to make noise" while others "want to work in harmony." They praise Irvin as someone who will protect voting rights, invest in vocational job training, and put Biden's infrastructure law to work "repairing our unsafe bridges."

TN-05: The Tennessee GOP's executive committee voted Tuesday evening to keep three candidates off the August primary ballot for not meeting the party's definition of a "bona fide" Republican: former State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, who is Trump’s endorsed candidate; businessman Baxter Lee; and music video producer Robby Starbuck. Ortagus responded, “Our team is evaluating the options before us,” while Starbuck declared, “The fight has only just begun.” Lee’s team, meanwhile, defended their man as a Republican “through and through,” but it didn’t say whether he’d be challenging his dismissal.

So what's the rumpus? The state GOP's bylaws state that, in order to be a so-called "bona fide" party member, a candidate must have voted in at least three of the last four statewide primaries or been "actively involved" in state or county Republican activities; Democrats have a similar requirement, except candidates only need to have participated in three of the last five nomination contests. Ortagus only moved to Tennessee last year from D.C., so she hasn't been there nearly long enough to meet this criteria, while Starbuck is in the same boat, since he relocated to the state just three years ago. Lee is more established, but his campaign says he was bounced because he hadn’t voted in a sufficient number of recent primaries even though he’d taken part in 10 of the last 12.

Party leaders can still vote to classify a candidate as "bona fide" if someone vouches for them or if a contender appeals the initial rejection. That’s just what the trio hoped would happen after they were initially kept off the ballot earlier this month, but the GOP’s executive committee didn’t go along: According to state party chair Scott Golden, 13 members of the 17-person body voted to keep Ortagus and Starbuck off, while 11 were against Lee. When the New York Times asked Golden if the decision was final, he said it was “possible the members could change their minds” before the deadline for a reversal passes Thursday at noon local time.

Ortagus infuriated powerful local Republicans when she entered the race for this newly gerrymandered seat in January, so much so that state Sen. Frank Niceley sponsored a bill that would impose a requirement that House candidates need to have voted in the previous three statewide general elections to be eligible to run. (The legislation, which appears to be unconstitutional, will not go into effect until next cycle because Gov. Bill Lee only allowed it to become law after the April 7 filing deadline.)

But Niceley took the dispute in a much uglier direction when he recently told NBC, “I don’t think Trump cares one way or the other” about Ortagus' candidacy. “I think Jared Kushner—he’s Jewish, she’s Jewish—I think Jared will be upset. Ivanka will be upset. I don’t think Trump cares.”

Ortagus, who is Jewish, fired back Tuesday night with a tweet saying that Niceley “should be ashamed of his repeated anti-Semitic rhetoric.” Niceley, who backs former state House Speaker Beth Harwell, was not ashamed, responding, “Attempting to construe my off-hand comments about the Trump family as antisemitism is unfair and inaccurate.” Last week, Nicely made headlines for a speech he gave on the Senate floor in which he said that Adolf Hitler should serve as an inspiration for homeless people.

Mayors

Washington, D.C. Mayor: Mayor Muriel Bowser has earned an endorsement from SEIU 32BJ, which represents property service workers, as well as UNITE HERE Locals 23 and 25, for the June Democratic primary.

Prosecutors

Maricopa County, AZ Prosecutor: The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday voted to name prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, who is one of the three Republicans competing in this year's special election to succeed Alistair Adel, as interim county prosecutor, and she was sworn in later that day.

The other two Republicans competing in the August primary, Anni Foster and Gina Godbehere, had sought the appointment as well, and they reacted to the unfavorable Board decision in very different ways. Foster, who is Gov. Doug Ducey's general counsel, tweeted that she "will make an announcement about my future plans in the coming days," while Godbehere declared she was leaving behind her post as prosecutor for the City of Goodyear "to pursue my candidacy." Whoever ultimately wins the GOP nod will take on Democrat Julie Gunnigle, who narrowly lost to Adel in 2020, for the final two years of the term.  

Obituaries

Former Rep. Brad Ashford, whose 2014 win gave Democrats their only victory in a Nebraska House race since the 1994 GOP wave, died Tuesday at the age of 72 two months after he announced that he had brain cancer. Ashford previously served as a Democrat, Republican, and independent during his two stints in the state's unicameral legislature, though as we discuss in our obituary, he was never fully at home in either party during his long career in local and national politics.

Ashford underwent his fourth and final party switch when he challenged Republican Rep. Lee Terry in 2014 in the Omaha-based 2nd Congressional District. The newly-reminted Democrat had a very tough task ahead of him especially as the political climate worsened for Team Blue, but Terry, who had declared during the 2013 government shutdown that he would keep taking his salary because "I've got a nice house and a kid in college," proved to be an especially weak incumbent.

This contest attracted over $1 million from outside groups on each side, and Republicans sought to protect their endangered incumbent by portraying Ashford as weak on crime. The GOP ran ad after ad charging that Ashford supported a law that would allow a Black inmate named Nikko Jenkins to get out of jail early for murder, messaging that Democrats compared with George H.W. Bush's still-infamous Willie Horton ads. Jenkins, though, gave Terry the most unwanted endorsement imaginable, when he used a hearing to proclaim, "Hey you guys, vote for Lee Terry! Best Republican ever!"

Ashford, who campaigned as a centrist, ultimately unseated Terry 49-46, which gave Democrats a rare pickup on an overall awful night, but his attempts to win another term failed. You can find far more on the many twists and turns of Ashford's long career in politics in our obituary.

Morning Digest: We’re looking back on Harry Reid’s long and storied career on the campaign trail

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.

Leading Off

Deaths: Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who died Dec. 28 at the age of 82, is lying in state at the Capitol today. As his former colleagues honor his singular career, we've put together an obituary taking a look back at his long electoral history—a path that dealt Reid several setbacks on his way to the pinnacle of American politics.

Reid won elected office for the first time in 1968 when he took a seat in the Nevada state Assembly at the age of 28, and he made the jump to statewide office two years later when he was elected lieutenant governor. Reid’s career stalled, though, after he lost an extremely close 1974 Senate race to former Republican Gov. Paul Laxalt, and he hit his nadir the next year after he failed to win the mayor’s office in Las Vegas.

Of course, that was far from the end for Reid, who had several more competitive Senate races ahead of him beginning with his 1986 triumph in the open seat contest to succeed Laxalt. Reid went on to pull off an extremely tight 1998 win against his future GOP colleague, then-Rep. John Ensign, in a race that took over a month to resolve.

Campaign Action

The majority leader later looked like an all-but-inevitable loser ahead of his 2010 bid for a fifth term, but Reid, in the words of longtime Nevada political chronicler Jon Ralston, displayed a “Terminator-like single-mindedness, relentlessness and discipline turned preparation” that helped him upset former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle. We detail all those campaigns and more in our obituary.

Redistricting

CT Redistricting: Stanford Law School professor Nathan Persily, the special master appointed by the Connecticut Supreme Court to assist it in drawing a new congressional map, has asked the state's deadlocked redistricting commission to try to reach a compromise once more. The panel failed to settle on a final map last month, despite receiving a three-week extension from the court, prompting the justices to take over the process and tap Persily to help them. Commissioners have until Wednesday at 12 PM ET to submit a new map "or at least report progress," per the CT Mirror, while Persily himself must furnish a map to the court by Jan. 18.

NY Redistricting: As expected, New York lawmakers have rejected dueling sets of maps put forth by the state's bipartisan redistricting commission after the panel failed to agree on a single group of plans for Congress and the legislature. Because of that failure, legislators were under no obligation to consider the maps that the commission forwarded to them, one batch of which was produced by Republicans and the other by Democrats.

Commissioners have until Feb. 28 to take one more shot at reaching a deal, but such a deal looks unlikely. Even if they were to strike a compromise, though, legislative Democrats would still be able to override the commission thanks to their two-thirds supermajorities.

4Q Fundraising

  • NC-SenCheri Beasley (D): $2.1 million raised, $2.8 million cash-on-hand
  • UT-SenEvan McMullin (I): $1 million raised
  • WA-SenPatty Murray (D-inc): $1.5 million raised, $7 million cash-on-hand
  • GA-GovBrian Kemp (R-inc): $7 million raised (between July 1 and Jan. 9), $12 million cash-on-hand
  • KS-GovLaura Kelly (D-inc): $2 million raised (in 2021), $1.9 million cash-on-hand; Derek Schmidt (R): $1.6 million raised (in 2021), $1.3 million cash-on-hand
  • MN-GovTim Walz (D-inc): $3.6 million raised (in 2021), $3.6 million cash-on-hand; Paul Gazelka (R): $545,000 raised (since August)
  • NV-GovJoe Lombardo (R): $3.1 million raised (since late June)
  • SC-GovHenry McMaster (R-inc): $909,000 raised, $3 million cash-on-hand; Joe Cunningham (D): $343,000 raised, $422,000 cash-on-hand
  • IA-02Ashley Hinson (R-inc): $809,000 raised, $1.6 million cash-on-hand
  • KY-06Andy Barr (R-inc): $538,000, $1.9 million cash-on-hand
  • NE-01Patty Pansing Brooks (D): $210,000 raised (in six weeks)
  • NY-24Francis Conole (D): $202,000 raised, $280,000 cash-on-hand

Senate

AZ-Sen: Ugh. Rich guy Jim Lamon is dropping a reported $1 million on a TV buy to air the first—but undoubtedly not the last—ad we've seen featuring a candidate bleat, "Let's go, Brandon!" If for some reason you have no idea what this is all about, consider yourself blessed. Meanwhile, the super PAC run by zillionaire Peter Thiel that's supporting another rich guy, Blake Masters, is spending another $1.1 million, per Politico, to run a new spot tying Masters to Donald Trump.

NH-Sen: Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith resigned his post this week, saying that "it is my intent to formally announce my candidacy for the United States Senate in the not too distant future." Smith sought the GOP nod for governor in 2012 but lost badly in the primary.

PA-Sen: George Bochetto, a longtime Republican attorney in Philadelphia who also served as state boxing commissioner from 1995 to 2002, has joined the packed May primary and says he'll self-fund $1 million.

Bochetto recently attracted attention when he aided Donald Trump's defense team in his second impeachment trial. In August, he persuaded a judge to stop Philadelphia's city government from removing a prominent Christopher Columbus statue. Bochetto is also the leader in a lawsuit alleging that Mayor Jim Kenney's executive order replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day discriminates against Italian Americans.

Bochetto in the past has talked about running for mayor of his heavily Democratic city plenty of times and even waged a brief campaign in 1999, but he ended up dropping out before the primary; the eventual nominee, Sam Katz, ended up losing the general election 51-49 to Democrat John Street, which is likely to remain Team Red's high-water mark for decades to come.

Governors

MA-Gov: Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, who'd been mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for governor, instead announced a bid for lieutenant governor on Tuesday. Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run in separate primaries but run together on a single ticket in the general election.

MI-Gov: The Glengariff Group's first survey of this year's contest, conducted on behalf of WDIV and the Detroit News, finds Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer well ahead of four potential Republican foes:

49-39 vs. former Detroit Police Chief James Craig

50-33 vs. chiropractor Garrett Soldano

50-33 vs. businessman Kevin Rinke

50-31 vs. conservative radio host Tudor Dixon

Polling from reliable firms has been rare here so far. A Strategic National survey for Craig from all the way back in September found him trailing Whitmer 47-46 (Craig and Strategic National have since parted ways). An independent poll from EPIC-MRA for the Detroit Free Press released the previous month had Whitmer ahead of Craig by the same 44-45 spread, while no other matchups were tested.

NY-Gov: Rep. Jerry Nadler, who as House Judiciary Committee chair is one of the most senior House Democrats from New York, has endorsed Gov. Kathy Hochul's bid for a full term. Two upstate representatives, Brian Higgins and Joe Morelle, previously backed Hochul.

RI-Gov: Cranston Mayor Kenneth Hopkins said Tuesday that he's "forming an exploratory committee [to] possibly run for governor." Hopkins, who was first elected to his post in 2020, would be the most prominent Republican to enter the race to date should he decide to get in.

WI-Gov: Former Gov. Tommy Thompson, who is resigning as interim president of the University of Wisconsin System in March, declined to rule out running for a fifth term as governor at the age of 80 in a new interview on Tuesday. "I'm not saying it's in the cards. But I'm physically and mentally capable of doing anything," insisted Thompson, who served as governor from 1987 to 2001 before stepping down to serve as George W. Bush's HHS secretary.

At a GOP debate in 2007 during his short-lived presidential campaign, Thompson had to apologize repeatedly after saying he thought employers should be allowed to fire gay workers, alternately blaming his response on needing to go to the bathroom and on a malfunctioning hearing aid. In 2012, Thompson ran for Senate but lost to Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin 51-46 after narrowly winning a bruising GOP primary with just 34% of the vote.

House

CO-07: State Sen. Britney Pettersen became the first Democrat to kick off a bid for Colorado's open 7th Congressional District on Tuesday, a day after Rep. Ed Perlmutter announced his retirement. Pettersen sought this seat once before in 2017 when Perlmutter ran for governor, but after the congressman abandoned his bid and later decided to seek re-election, she dropped out of the primary (as did every other notable Democrat).

Pettersen is unlikely to be the last contender to emerge, though. The Denver Post mentions two other Democrats as possible candidates, state Rep. Chris Kennedy and Jefferson County Commissioner Andy Kerr, who also ran in 2017. Kerr did not respond to a request for comment from Colorado Politics.

MN-03: Businessman Mark Blaxill, a former treasurer for the state GOP, announced a bid for Minnesota's 3rd Congressional District against Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips on Tuesday morning. He joins Navy veteran Tom Weiler in the Republican primary. Redistricting has yet to take place but will likely be handled by the courts due to a deadlock between the Republican-run state Senate and the Democratic-held state House.

NJ-11: Lobbyist Rosemary Becchi, who was the GOP's nominee against Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill in 2020, has closed her campaign committee with the FEC, a likely signal that she does not intend to seek a rematch. While Becchi could of course form a new committee, the New Jersey Globe notes she still owes $6,000 to a fundraising consultant, who previously filed a claim over the unpaid debt. Democrats also made the 11th District considerably bluer in redistricting.

Task Force Concludes Cuomo’s Nursing Home Policy Did Lead To More Nursing Home Deaths

The NYSBA (New York State Bar Association) Task Force on Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care determined that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order policy forcing nursing homes to take on patients that had tested positive for COVID-19 led to more deaths.

The report is a devastating indictment on the Democrat governor’s policies and their effects on the elderly in the Empire State during the early stages of the pandemic.

The task force, according to the New York Post, defined Cuomo’s directive as “unreasonable” in both its “absoluteness” and the length of time it was left in effect.

While they were unable to put a particular number on that effect, the NYSBA was able to determine “there are credible reviews that suggest that the directive, for the approximately six weeks that it was in effect, did lead to some number of additional deaths.”

RELATED: Report: Cuomo Being Investigated For Retaliating Against Sexual Harassment Accusers

Task Force: Cuomo Nursing Home Policy Led To More Deaths

Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order on March 25th which forced nursing homes to take on patients that had tested positive for coronavirus.

The order prohibited nursing homes from requiring incoming patients “to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.”

Cuomo’s directive remained in place for over six weeks while well over 15,000 senior citizens succumbed to the virus.

The New York Democrat and his top aides have also been accused of hiding the data on those nursing home deaths and stripping numbers from DOH (Department of Health) reports.

For months Cuomo touted a DOH report which contained an explicit quantifier that the order forcing the care facilities to take on COVID-positive patients was “not a driver of nursing home infections or fatalities.”

The NYSBA task force determined that was not accurate.

“The Department of Health issued a report in 2020 in which it argued unconvincingly that the admission of 6,326 COVID-positive residents during the period the Health directive was in effect had no impact,” the report states.

“That cannot be the case, and has now been shown not to be the case.”

RELATED: Fox News’ Janice Dean: My Family Didn’t Have To Die, Cuomo’s Policy Helped It Happen

Cuomo’s Order Cost Lives

The report that Governor Cuomo’s executive order for nursing homes did lead to more deaths is a small measure of vindication for Fox News meteorologist and author Janice Dean, who has argued for months that his policies led to the deaths of more seniors than in any other state.

She argued in an op-ed column for USA Today over the summer that very point.

Dean’s in-laws were the unfortunate victims of COVID-19, where nursing homes in New York played a significant part.

“At first we didn’t blame anyone for my in-laws’ deaths. This is a pandemic, after all,” she wrote. “Then we learned about a policy that put them in danger.”

Dean’s column featured a sub-heading arguing, “My family didn’t have to die.”

Governor Cuomo is under investigation and impeachment inquiry for a slew of scandals, not the least of which involves the nursing home executive order and subsequent effort to obstruct justice by hiding the numbers.

They include:

  • Numerous sexual misconduct allegations including a police report involving forcibly groping an aide.
  • Bullying and threatening fellow lawmakers and members of the media.
  • Under investigation for a $5.1 million book deal profiting off the pandemic by having aides write and edit portions using state resources.
  • Provided priority COVID-19 testing for his family and associates, also allegedly using state resources.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out admitting over 9,000 Covid patients into nursing homes for 46 days would increase the amount of deaths, but if a 242-page report from the NY State Bar association proves [Cuomo] lied and people died, so be it,” Dean tweeted.

The Fox News personality has suggested many people in the Cuomo administration belong in prison over the nursing home scandal.

“I really feel like he should go to jail,” Dean has said. “And all these people surrounding him that covered this up for so many months, they should go to jail.”

The NYSBA report relied in part on a study by the Empire Center for Public Policy that tied “several hundred and possibly more than 1,000” deaths of nursing home residents to Cuomo’s executive order.

There is now a straight-line correlation between his policies and the deaths of the elderly during the pandemic. The question is, will anybody in New York state do anything about it?

 

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Fox News Janice Dean Slams ‘Despicable’ Cuomo Over $10,000 Per Ticket Fundraiser This Month

Fox News meteorologist and author Janice Dean slammed New York Governor Andrew Cuomo over news that he will be hosting a $10,000 per ticket fundraiser for his re-election later this month.

The event is being dubbed a “summer reception” with the governor and offers single tickets at the aforementioned price, as well as dual admission at a cost of $15,000.

“You. Can’t. Make. It. Up,” Dean seethed in a tweet sharing the report. “[$10,000] to meet the Luv Guv in person this month.”

The reference to Cuomo as the ‘Luv Guv’ is a likely jab at both he and his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, who helped hype the Governor during the pandemic by playfully referring to his single status.

“I am the Luv Guv,” the Democrat said to his little brother at one point. “I’m a cool dude in a loose mood, you know that. I just say let it go, just go with the flow, baby.”

In a subsequent tweet hours later, Dean referred to Cuomo as “despicable.”

The $10,000 per ticket event does not have a specific location listed on the invitation but does indicate it will be held somewhere in New York City.

RELATED: Bombshell Report Indicates Cuomo Aides Repeatedly Blocked Release Of Nursing Home Deaths

Cuomo Fundraiser In Between Multiple Investigations

The extravagant fundraiser comes as Andrew Cuomo’s political future is in turmoil, the subject of multiple investigations and impeachment inquiries.

The scandals embroiling him are wide-ranging and numerous, including:

  • Forcing nursing homes to take on COVID-positive patients.
  • Hiding the data on those deaths and stripping numbers from DOH reports.
  • Numerous sexual misconduct allegations including a police report involving forcibly groping an aide.
  • Bullying and threatening fellow lawmakers and members of the media.
  • Under investigation for a $5.1 million book deal profiting off the pandemic by having aides write and edit portions using state resources.
  • Provided priority COVID-19 testing for his family and associates, also allegedly using state resources.

Dutchess County Executive and 2018 Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro joked that the fundraiser might well just be going to Cuomo’s legal defense fund.

Dean has been a leading voice on the nursing home scandal involving Governor Cuomo, her in-laws being the sad and unfortunate victims of COVID-19, where nursing homes in New York played a significant part.

Cuomo issued an executive order last March forcing care facilities to take in COVID-positive patients. The order was not reversed for months.

bombshell report from the New York Times in April led Dean to suggest many people in the Cuomo administration belong in prison.

The Times report indicated top aides to the Governor overruled his own health experts, blocked the release of the pandemic’s true death toll numbers at nursing homes for five months, and did so all while they were helping him write a book using state resources.

“I really feel like he should go to jail,” Dean said at the time. “And all these people surrounding him that covered this up for so many months, they should go to jail.”

RELATED: Cuomo Admin Accused Of ‘Criminal Conspiracy’ Following Bombshell Report They ‘Stripped’ Data From Report On Nursing Home Deaths

Janice Dean Should Attend Cuomo’s $10,000 Shindig

Dean, along with Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin, had some ideas for Cuomo’s $10,000 per ticket fundraiser.

“Maybe a good old-fashioned protest outside this cash grab at the end of the month?” wondered Dean.

McLaughlin tweeted, “Someone should start a GoFundMe and get a ticket for [Janice Dean] … Now THAT would be interesting.”

Dean responded to McLaughlin’s suggestion saying she would “definitely call and find out where the event is.”

She later advised that Governor Cuomo, instead of holding a $10,000 per ticket fundraiser for re-election, should meet with the families of the victims of his nursing home scandal.

“I think he should meet with many of us who lost loved ones in nursing homes. But he’s a coward,” lamented Dean. “He would never show up.”

State Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, is also conducting an investigation of allegations that the Governor used state resources and state employees to write his book on leadership during the pandemic.

The book earned Cuomo a $5.1 million payday.

The Albany Times Union is accusing the Cuomo administration of refusing to release records involving the book.

The New York Post is reporting that Cuomo’s fundraiser is the first since being hit with state and federal investigations.

 

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Morning Digest: Mega MAGA perennial candidate is throwing a scare into New Jersey GOP’s frontrunner

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

NJ-Gov: It looks like the Democratic Governors Association wants to stir up some GOP anxiety by releasing a poll of New Jersey's June 8 Republican primary for governor that shows the ostensible frontrunner, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, leading perennial candidate Hirsh Singh just 29-23.

But with Hudson County pastor Phil Rizzo taking 8% and former Franklin Mayor Brian Levine at just 2%, according to the survey from Public Policy Polling, that means 38% of voters are undecided, so there's lots of room left for wiggling. Perhaps most surprisingly, PPP's numbers also suggest that a recent Singh poll that had him up 22-20 weren't completely bonkers.

Ciattarelli seems to agree. As the New Jersey Globe's David Wildstein notes, he just went up with ads criticizing Singh for "attacking our men and women in blue" alongside "the woke mob" and aggressively criticized his rival in the lone debate of the race on Tuesday night. Singh has portrayed himself as the only true Trump acolyte running, which explains why Ciattarelli's ad labels him a "fake MAGA candidate."

Campaign Action

It's all quite a turnaround from where we were just last month: Ciattarelli was acting as though he had the nomination sewn up, seeing as he was firing off a barrage of ads attacking Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy. We'll know in less than two weeks how premature his pivot to the general election really was.

Senate

MO-Sen: The Missouri Independent reports that, according to unnamed "sources familiar with her plans," Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler will announce a Senate bid early next month.

OH-Sen: Republican Rep. Bill Johnson, who'd been considering a Senate bid ever since Rob Portman unexpectedly announced his retirement in January, has opted against joining the race. Johnson cited the presence of several well-funded candidates already seeking the GOP nod (including some with personal wealth) as an obstacle, explaining, "I'm not going to deny that coming from a base in Appalachia, where fundraising is a challenge under the best of circumstances, it can be exceptionally slow in a contested primary." Johnson's 6th Congressional District ranks 359th in the nation in median household income.

WI-Sen: State Sen. Chris Larsen kicked off a bid Wednesday for the Democratic nomination to take on Republican Sen. Ron Johnson (who still hasn't said whether he's seeking re-election). Larsen has represented a seat in the Milwaukee area for a decade and has twice sought the position of Milwaukee County executive, including an extremely tight 2020 race that he lost 50.05-49.52 to fellow Democrat David Crowley.

Larsen is the fourth notable Democrat to enter the race, after state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry, and Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson.

Governors

CA-Gov: The nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California finds the likely recall election of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom failing by a 57-40 margin, virtually unchanged from its 56-40 result in March.

NV-Gov: Politico's Alex Isenstadt reports that former Sen. Dean Heller is "preparing to run for governor" next year and is meeting with party leaders about a bid at a conference hosted by the Republican Governors Association, according to unnamed sources "familiar with the conversations." Heller's apparent interest in running—and the RGA's interest in him—is particularly notable because of the recent entry of Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, who just gave the GOP a high-profile candidate with experience winning in Nevada's most populous (and bluest) county.

But that's precisely why Lombardo's conservative bona fides might come into question. Two years ago, for instance, he ended the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's collaboration with ICE to detain individuals arrested on local charges until federal officials can apprehend them if they are also suspected of immigration violations.

Heller, however, may not be the antidote. These days, fealty to conservative dogma is entirely subordinate to fealty to Donald Trump when it comes to Republican primary voters, and the ex-senator has not scored well on that front. Most vividly, he earned undying Trumpist ire when he initially voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act in 2017, then sealed his doom when he later voted in favor of doing so. The painful flip-flop played a key role in his 50-45 loss to Democrat Jackie Rosen, which Trump himself claimed came as a consequence of Heller being "extraordinarily hostile" to him.

So who will claim the Trump mantle? The third notable candidate in the race, North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, was a Democrat until last month (albeit a conservative one), a resume that poses its own obvious problems. That could leave an opening for someone else, but the most prominent name still considering the race, Rep. Mark Amodei, has been an imperfect disciple: Just two years ago, after he expressed a vague openness to Trump's first impeachment, the extremist (and extremely well-funded) Club for Growth threatened to back a primary challenger. Amodei wound up voting against impeachment, of course, but as far as the die-hards are concerned, it's very hard to erase the taint of sinning against Trump in the first place.

VA-Gov: As the June 8 Democratic primary for Virginia’s open gubernatorial race approaches, we have a rundown of candidate spending on TV ads. According to Medium Buying, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe is outspending former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy on the airwaves $3.28 million to $1.33 million. The pair are dwarfing the rest of the field as the third-biggest spender, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, has shelled out just $108,000.

On the Republican side, businessman Glenn Youngkin, who already has the nomination locked up, is out with his first general election spot. In the commercial, he plays up his business experience and attempts to paint himself as an outsider. He also takes a veiled swipe at McAuliffe, the Democratic frontrunner, when he proclaims, “What we need isn’t a politician or worse: the same politician”.

House

FL-10: With Rep. Val Demings running for Senate, fellow Democrats are lining up to succeed her in Florida's 10th Congressional District, located in the Orlando area. Former State Attorney Aramis Ayala, who served one term as the top prosecutor in Orange and Osceola counties, had been considering a Senate bid herself but quickly shifted gears and announced a bid for Demings' seat. State Sen. Randolph Bracy has jumped in as well; he, too, reportedly had his eye on statewide office—in his case, the governorship.

Civil rights attorney and Navy veteran Natalie Jackson also kicked off a campaign this week. She is best known for her work on behalf of a number of families who've lost relatives to police violence, including those of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

GA-10: Wealthy businessman Matt Richards is the latest Republican to enter the race for Georgia's deep-red 10th Congressional District. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported that he's prepared to self-fund at least $1 million in his bid for this open seat.

ME-02: Republican state Rep. Mike Perkins, who said last month that he was exploring a bid against Democratic Rep. Jared Golden, has now filed paperwork to create a campaign committee with the FEC.

NM-01: Democrat Melanie Stansbury is out with a positive ad ahead of Tuesday’s special election. The spot touts her background in the district and also attempts to tie herself to the Biden administration. Stansbury is pictured with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (whose confirmation to that position opened this seat) and first lady Jill Biden as the voiceover says “In Congress, she’s ready to get to work with President Biden.”

Stansbury was endorsed by Biden himself earlier this week, and second gentlemen Douglas Emhoff is slated to campaign with her on Thursday.

Attorneys General

OK-AG: Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter abruptly announced his resignation on Wednesday, a day after The Oklahoman sent him questions about an alleged extramarital affair with a state employee. Hunter, who filed for divorce last week, did not respond to the questions or address any details, but in a statement he said, "Regrettably, certain personal matters that are becoming public will become a distraction for this office."

Hunter, a Republican, was appointed to the office by then-Gov. Mary Fallin in 2017 after the incumbent at the time, Scott Pruitt, was tapped by Donald Trump to run the EPA. He easily won election in his own right the following year, defeating Democrat Mark Myles 64-36, and had been gearing up to run for a second full term next year. Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who had experienced some friction with Hunter, will now be able to name a replacement of his own.

Mayors

Boston, MA Mayor: There's no doubt that Boston will elect a person of color as mayor for the first time ever now that candidate filing has closed in this year's all-Democratic race, but as Gabby Deutch notes in her deep look at the field for Jewish Insider, this year's contest is very different from those of the past in another key way: None of the six serious contenders, writes Deutch, "are actively seeking the endorsement of the city's police union."

Of this sextet, only City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George has spoken out against the idea of reallocating funds from the police budget to other areas, though she's acknowledged that "tough conversations" are needed on the future of law enforcement. The rest of the field consists of acting Mayor Kim Janey, who was elevated from City Council president to the top job earlier this year; City Councilors Andrea Campbell and Michelle Wu; state Rep. Jon Santiago; and the former head of economic development for the city, John Barros. All have called for changes in how the police conduct their work.  

While a major part of this shift is due to the national movement aimed at reforming law enforcement, two unrelated scandals involving senior Boston police officials have also dominated the headlines in recent months. In April, the public learned that former officer Patrick Rose, who would later go on to head the police union, remained on the force in the mid-1990s even though a contemporary internal report concluded there was enough evidence to charge him with molesting a 12-year-old.

Other documents said that Rose had been placed on administrative duty, but even this limited sanction was withdrawn after the union threatened to file a grievance on his behalf. Rose is currently under indictment for allegedly abusing other children during the subsequent decades.

The second matter is a still-unfolding debacle that began in late January, after then-Mayor Marty Walsh was nominated to become secretary of labor but before he was confirmed. Boston Police Commissioner William Gross announced his resignation shortly after Joe Biden tapped Walsh for his cabinet, prompting Walsh to immediately appoint Gross' close friend and chief of staff, Dennis White, to succeed him.

Just days later, though, Walsh placed White on leave after the Boston Globe began asking about allegations that the new commissioner had abused his wife in 1999. Walsh also commissioned a report into what had happened, but it was still unfinished when Janey took over as acting mayor in March.

That report was released this month, though, and it revealed a previously unknown 1993 confrontation between White and a 19-year-old. The investigator, Tamsin Kaplan, also said that both the police and the Walsh administration had interfered with her probe, with Kaplan writing, "One retired BPD officer told me that they had received at least five phone calls directing them not to talk with me."

Janey quickly announced she would fire White, who went to court in an effort to block her from doing so. Gross also filed an affidavit saying that Walsh had known about the allegations against White when he made the appointment, something that the labor secretary quickly denied. It may be some time before all of this is settled: While a state judge ruled that Janey could fire White, she issued a stay the next day, allowing the commissioner to keep his job while he appeals.

It remains to be seen how this ongoing mess will impact September's officially nonpartisan face-off, which will winnow the field down to two ahead of the November general election. The entire field agrees that White needs to be replaced, though Essaibi George still accepted an endorsement from Gross, who briefly considered running for mayor himself. (A far-less controversial public safety group, the local firefighters union, is also backing her.)

There has been little polling here, though a MassINC survey conducted last month found a 46% plurality undecided. That poll also showed Wu leading Janey 19-18, while fellow Campbell was in third with 6%.

Janey's ascension to the mayor's office in March made her the city's first Black mayor, as well as its first woman leader, and she would again make history if she won the post in her own right this year. Wu, Campbell, and Essaibi George would also each be the first woman elected to the top job.

All of the contenders would also achieve another historic first. Wu, who has the backing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren and many of the young activists who helped propel Ed Markey to victory in his own Senate primary last year, would be the first Asian American person to lead Boston. Campbell or former city administration official John Barros, meanwhile, would be the first Black person elected in a city that still has a reputation for racism targeting African Americans. State Rep. Jon Santiago, meanwhile, would be Boston's first Latino chief executive, while Essaibi George would be its first Arab American leader.

New York City, NY Mayor: A new poll from Core Decision Analytics on behalf of Fontas Advisors, a lobbying group that is not working for any candidates, shows Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams leading 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang 18-13 in the June 22 Democratic primary, with former city Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia at 13%. That’s a notable shift from March, when this firm had Yang beating Adams 16-10 as Garcia barely registered with just 2% of the vote.

Garcia was endorsed by the New York Times earlier this month, and another survey also shows her gaining ground since then. Yang recently released a Slingshot Strategies poll that found him edging out Adams 19-16, with city Comptroller Scott Stringer and Garcia at 13% and 10%, respectively; in late April, Slingshot showed Yang leading Stringer 24-16, with Garcia at 3%. This May survey has Yang beating Adams by a narrow 51-49 after simulating the instant runoff process.

Meanwhile, another candidate is in bad shape heading into the final weeks. Three senior staffers for nonprofit head Dianne Morales, including her campaign manager, resigned over the last few days over what Politico calls “accusations of mistreatment, inadequate pay and lack of unionization and health care.” Morales responded by saying she “accepted accountability in my role as the head of this campaign that allowed for this harm to occur.”

Prosecutors

Manhattan, NY District Attorney: The June 22 Democratic primary to succeed Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is coming up quickly, and voters got another reminder of the power of this office on Tuesday when news broke that the retiring incumbent had convened a grand jury to weigh potential charges for Donald Trump. It remains to be seen what role Vance's eventual successor would have in this matter, but there's no question that whoever wins the primary in this extremely blue borough will be the overwhelming favorite to head what's arguably the most prominent local prosecutor's office in America.

Eight Democrats are competing in a race where it takes just a plurality to win the Democratic nomination. (While New York City voters backed a 2019 referendum to institute instant-runoff voting in primaries for many local offices, the measure does not apply to state-level posts like this one.) Almost all of the contenders have pitched themselves as progressives who will bring much-needed changes to the post, but as the New York Times' Jonah Bromwich explained in March, there are some important differences between them.

"The race can be divided into two camps," wrote Bromwich, "with three candidates who have not worked as prosecutors and five who have." The former group consists of civil rights attorney Tahanie Aboushi, public defender Eliza Orlins, and Assemblyman Dan Quart, who is also the only elected official running. This trio, wrote Bromwich, has argued that the D.A.'s role needs to involve a shift "toward reducing incarceration and cutting back prosecution of low-level crimes."

The five ex-prosecutors in the contest are Alvin Bragg, Liz Crotty, Diana Florence, Lucy Lang, and Tali Farhadian Weinstein. Crotty, a self-described centrist backed by several police unions, has run to the right of the field and cast doubt on reform efforts, saying at one debate, "I am the candidate who from the beginning of my campaign has talked about public safety." The remainder, says Bromwich, have "pitched themselves as occupying a middle ground, focused on less sweeping changes."

(The Appeal's Sam Mellins has also detailed the candidates' views on key issues, including sentencing and sex work, with helpful graphics breaking down where the field stands.)

As Bromwich noted, every contender save Quart would achieve a historic first should they prevail. Six of the candidates would be the first woman to win this office, while Aboushi would additionally be the first Muslim or Arab American to hold the post. Bragg, meanwhile, would be Manhattan's first Black district attorney.

There's still no clear frontrunner, but two of the candidates have significantly more resources than the rest of the field. Farhadian Weinstein, who is married to wealthy hedge fund manager Boaz Weinstein, took in $2.2 million from mid-January to May 17, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that more than half of her haul "came from four dozen donors, many of whom work in the financial sector."

Bragg raised a considerably smaller $710,000 during this time, though he led Farhadian Weinstein, who has been spending heavily, in cash-on-hand for the stretch run, $1.2 million to $805,000. Bragg also has the backing of three of the city's most politically influential unions, and he's benefited from $1 million in outside spending from Color of Change.

Aboushi had the third-largest war chest with $560,000 on-hand, while Quart and Orlins had $555,000 and $525,000 in the bank, respectively. Lang, who has been self-funding much of her race, had $400,000 available , while Crotty was further back with $250,000; Florence brought up the rear with $115,000 on-hand.

Obituaries

John Warner, a Republican who served as Senator from Virginia from 1979 through 2009, died Tuesday at the age of 94. Warner cultivated a reputation for moderation and bipartisanship during his 30 years in the Senate, and he was long willing to oppose Republicans he disliked. In 1994, rather than back Iran-Contra figure Oliver North’s campaign against Democratic colleague Chuck Robb, Warner recruited another Republican, 1989 gubernatorial nominee Marshall Coleman, to run as an independent, a development that helped Robb win in that disastrous year for Democrats.

Warner served as secretary of the Navy during the Nixon administration from 1972 to 1974, and he attracted global attention in 1976 when he married the famed actress Elizabeth Taylor. Warner ran for an open Senate seat in 1978 but lost the GOP nominating convention to a more conservative opponent, Richard Obenshain. Obenshain, though, died in a plane crash two days later, and party officials selected Warner as their new nominee.

Warner was often overshadowed by his famous spouse during that campaign. The most remembered incident of the contest occurred in the Appalachian community of Big Stone Gap, where Taylor was hospitalized after a chicken bone became lodged in her throat, an experience that made it to “Saturday Night Live.” Warner ultimately ended up very narrowly beating his Democratic opponent, former state Attorney General Andrew Miller, 50.2-49.8, a margin of fewer than 5,000 votes. Warner spent his first few years in office still known mostly as Taylor’s husband, though their marriage ended during his first term in 1982.

Warner himself easily won re-election two years later, and he had no Democratic opposition at all in 1990. In 1996, though, he faced a serious general election challenge from wealthy businessman Mark Warner. The race was defined by the novelty of a contest between the two unrelated Warners: The challenger ordered “Mark, not John” bumper stickers that were sometimes mistaken for a biblical reference, while the incumbent urged voters to “make your mark for John.” The Republican, though, appeared safe, so it was a surprise when he held off Mark Warner just 53-47.

John Warner won his last term in 2002 again without Democratic opposition, and almost no one guessed this would be the last time Team Red would win a Virginia Senate race through today. Warner decided not to run again in 2008 and was easily succeeded by his old opponent Mark Warner, who had been elected governor during the ensuing years.

John Warner went on to back the Democratic incumbent in 2014, an endorsement that may have made the difference in what proved to be an unexpectedly tight race. Warner would go on to support Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden over Donald Trump and back a number of Democratic congressional candidates, though he still endorsed Republican nominee Ed Gillespie’s failed 2017 run for governor.

Bombshell Report Indicates Cuomo Aides Repeatedly Blocked Release Of Nursing Home Deaths

A bombshell report from the New York Times indicates top aides to Governor Andrew Cuomo overruled his own health experts, blocking the release of the pandemic’s true death toll numbers at nursing homes, and did so all while they were helping him write a book.

The crux of the Times column refers to the length of time aides spent in trying to cover up the number of deaths in nursing homes – five months – a particularly sore spot with the governor who had issued an executive order forcing care facilities to take in COVID-positive patients.

The order was not reversed for months.

Cuomo aides clearly sensed the fallout, doing their best to minimize the numbers by not counting seniors who were transported to hospitals and died there.

“By the time the policy was rescinded less than two months later, it had become clear that not all the deaths were being included in that tally: Those who died after being transferred to hospitals were not counted as nursing home deaths,” the Times writes.

When Cuomo’s own top health officials tried to get a more accurate count, his aides rebuffed them time and again. In fact, they fought release of the true numbers for five months, according to the report, a “far greater (effort) than previously known.”

RELATED: Cuomo Now Being Investigated Over $4 Million Book Deal Celebrating His Pandemic Leadership, Janice Dean Calls It ‘Disgusting’

Cuomo’s Unbelievable Nursing Home Scandal

While critics were noting the role of Governor Cuomo’s nursing home executive order in a large number of elderly deaths during the pandemic, the state Health Department was preparing a report on the matter in the spring of 2020.

Secretary to the Governor, Melissa DeRosa, according to an email reviewed by the New York Times, told health officials: “We are getting anxious over here on this report.”

That report was eventually published in July but contained an explicit quantifier that the order forcing the care facilities to take on COVID-positive patients was “not a driver of nursing home infections or fatalities.”

It also included a much lower number – not counting hospital deaths – in the report that the Times states was “rewritten several times by senior advisers to Mr. Cuomo.”

The department report listed just over 6,400 deaths. As of this month, more than 15,500 nursing home residents died from COVID-19.

In February, the New York Post revealed that DeRosa told leading Democrats that they tried to suppress the numbers because the administration feared the data could “be used against us” by the Justice Department saying, “basically, we froze.”

“We were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, what we start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” she said.

The New York Times reported in January that attorney general Letitia James, a Democrat, accused Cuomo and his administration, particularly officials at the State Health Department, of undercounting COVID deaths at nursing homes by as much as 50%.

A subsequent report by the Wall Street Journal in early March accused the aides of a very explicit cover-up by the Cuomo administration in the nursing home scandal.

“Cuomo’s top advisers successfully pushed state health officials to strip a public report of data showing that more nursing-home residents had died of Covid-19 than the administration had acknowledged,” they detailed.

Much of the pressure by the Health Department to suppress the numbers on the nursing home deaths was being applied by the administration itself.

“Aides overruled state health officials on releasing the figures over the span of at least five months, The Times reports,” according to The Hill.

“The effort included halting the publication of a scientific paper, which included the true tally, and the sending of two letters drafted by the Health Department and intended for state lawmakers.”

RELATED: Cuomo Admin Accused Of ‘Criminal Conspiracy’ Following Bombshell Report They ‘Stripped’ Data From Report On Nursing Home Deaths

‘They Should All Go To Jail’

The New York Times report notes that much of the effort to halt the release of the true figures in the Cuomo nursing home scandal revolved around the Governor’s efforts to write a book celebrating his ‘leadership’ during the pandemic.

“The actions coincided with the period in which Mr. Cuomo was pitching and then writing a book on the pandemic, with the assistance of his top aide, Melissa DeRosa, and others,” the report reads.

State Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, is currently conducting an investigation of allegations that the Governor used state resources and state employees to write his book on which he received a multimillion-dollar advance.

Fox News meteorologist and author Janice Dean, a leading voice on the nursing home scandal involving Governor Cuomo, expressed her optimism that justice may finally be served.

Dean’s in-laws were the unfortunate victims of COVID-19, where nursing homes in New York played a significant part.

“I feel like all of these months, close to a year now, it feels like it finally is happening, that all of the things we’ve been yelling about and trying to shine a light on, it’s finally happening,” Dean said.

Many of the things I’ve covered here at The Political Insider as well, things that should have been revealed much earlier if not for a complicit New York media that spent more time fawning over Cuomo than reporting on him.

On May 18th, nearly one full year ago, I labeled Cuomo’s executive order on nursing homes a “scandal” and noted at the time that the Governor seemed uninterested in accountability.

He even suggested it wasn’t his fault because “older people … are going to die.”

In an interview with Fox News, Dean didn’t hold back on what she felt should happen to the governor and those in his administration complicit in the nursing home cover-up.

“I really feel like he should go to jail,” she said. “And all these people surrounding him that covered this up for so many months, they should go to jail.”

The following is a list of scandals in which Cuomo is currently embroiled, most of which have resulted in investigations, calls for his resignation, and impeachment inquiries:

  • Forcing nursing homes to take on COVID-positive patients.
  • Obstructing justice by hiding the data on those deaths and stripping numbers from DOH reports.
  • Numerous sexual misconduct allegations including a police report involving forcibly groping an aide.
  • Bullying and threatening fellow lawmakers and members of the media.
  • Under investigation for a $4 million book deal profiting off the pandemic by having aides write and edit portions using state resources.

In an incredibly cold and callous comment last May, Cuomo snapped at a reporter for asking about grieving families of nursing home patients seeking justice.

“What is justice? Who can we prosecute for those deaths? Nobody. Nobody,” he rationalized. “Mother nature? God? Where did this virus come from? People are going to die by this virus.”

It’s time somebody from the administration is prosecuted, if not the governor himself. That would be justice.

 

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The post Bombshell Report Indicates Cuomo Aides Repeatedly Blocked Release Of Nursing Home Deaths appeared first on The Political Insider.

Morning Digest: Check out our roundup of 1Q 2021 fundraising reports for the House and Senate

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

1Q Fundraising: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to unveil our new charts rounding up first-quarter fundraising for the House and Senate. Our data includes the numbers for every incumbent (excluding those who've said they're not seeking re-election) and notable announced or potential candidates.

Early fundraising reports give us our first glimpse at which candidates have the ability to raise the serious sums needed to run for Congress. However, what matters isn't necessarily who's outraising whom but rather which contenders will have the resources to get their message out and which ones won't.

It's not uncommon for candidates to win primaries or general elections despite being dramatically outspent. But what is uncommon is for them to win without having the money to run ads, hire a skilled staff, build a field operation, and pay for all the other things it takes to run a credible race. And of course, it costs much more to air ads in some markets than others, so what might look like a decent fundraising haul in North Dakota can be underwhelming in New Jersey.

Campaign Action

While these opening totals are important, by no means do they tell us everything. Many hopefuls in past cycles have posted underwhelming early numbers only to haul in stronger totals as Election Day draws closer. That's been especially true in the last two election cycles, when we've regularly seen grassroots donors, especially on the Democratic side, flock to newly-minted nominees in competitive races and help them raise sums that not long ago would have been unimaginable.

The 2022 cycle is also particularly unpredictable because of the upcoming round of redistricting. Most House candidates do not yet know exactly where they'll be running, and some will wind up facing off against different opponents once new maps are finally in place. Many other would-be contenders are taking a wait-and-see approach, so it's likely we'll see a flurry of new campaigns launched later this year.

There's a lot to see, so check out our House and Senate charts.

Senate

AZ-Sen, AZ-Gov: While Grand Canyon State politicos have long expected Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich to run for governor in 2022, David Drucker of the conservative Washington Examiner writes that he's now leaning towards challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly instead. Brnovich himself has yet to say anything publicly about this contest.

Brnovich's reported interest in the Senate race comes months after Gov. Doug Ducey, whom the attorney general has clashed with in the past, announced that he would not run. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has tried to get Ducey to reconsider, but Drucker relays that the governor "continues to wave off the encouragement from fellow Republicans."

There are a number of other Republicans who could challenge Kelly, and Drucker name-drops former Ambassador to Mexico Chris Landau as a possibility. There is no word on Landau's interest in this contest.

CA-Sen: This week, appointed Sen. Alex Padilla unveiled endorsements from 40 of California's 42 Democratic House members in his bid for a full term. The only two who aren't currently supporting the incumbent are Rep. Ro Khanna, who has not ruled out an intra-party challenge, and Rep. Maxine Waters, whom Politico says "could endorse Padilla shortly."

MO-Sen: Republican Rep. Jason Smith responded to Sen. Roy Blunt's retirement a month ago by saying he'd be considering in "the coming days" whether to run to succeed him, but like so many politicians before him, Smith has disregarded that timeline. When CNN asked the congressman Monday when he'd be making up his mind, Smith responded, "Not for a while."

OH-Sen: We'll get right to it: Josh Mandel announced he'd raised $1.3 million for the quarter when he actually brought in just $33,000 for his campaign. Indeed Mandel, a Republican who ostensibly spent eight years as treasurer of Ohio, actually lost money during this time, though thanks to leftover cash from his aborted 2018 Senate bid, he still had $4.2 million on-hand.

So, where did that $1.3 million number come from? Seth Richardson of Cleveland.com writes that Mandel raised that much through a joint fundraising committee that consisted of his campaign, his PAC, and the Delaware County Republican Party. Richardson, though, notes that Mandel can't take in all that money for his campaign: Even his spokesperson says that they'll only get about $700,000, or a little more than half. Adds Richardson, "He did not say why Mandel opted to fundraise using the committee instead of his campaign."

Another Republican, former state party chair Jane Timken, took in $1.1 million from donors and loaned her campaign an additional $1 million. Timken, like many wealthy contenders, did not distinguish between the money she'd raised and the amount she self-funded when she announced her $2.1 million haul earlier this month, but unlike Mandel, she at least can spend all that cash.

Governors

CA-Gov: Former reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner used Twitter on Sunday to publicly express interest for the first time in competing as a Republican in this year's likely recall election against Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. Jenner added that she would "decide soon."

MD-Gov: Former U.S. Secretary of Education John King announced Tuesday that he would seek the Democratic nomination for this open seat. King, who would be the state's first Black governor, joins a primary that currently consists of state Comptroller Peter Franchot and former Obama administration official Ashwani Jain, though plenty of others are considering getting in.

King, who is running for office for the first time, became the Obama administration's second and final secretary of education in 2016 after a previous stint as New York's education commissioner. King went on to lead The Education Trust, a nonprofit focused on closing education gaps among students of color.

ME-Gov: While former Gov. Paul LePage appeared to unequivocally announce last November that he was challenging his successor, Democratic incumbent Janet Mills, the Bangor Daily News writes that many of his fellow Republicans still aren't certain if he'll run. It's not hard to see where the confusion comes from: Last year, LePage's political strategist, Brent Littlefield, said he had no "impending or planned announcement," and Littlefield added Monday that the former governor, "has no announcement to make."

Still, everyone in Maine politics seems to agree that the GOP nomination is LePage's if he wants it. No other notable Republicans have expressed interest, and this week, his allies in the state party leadership waived a rule that would have prevented the Maine GOP from helping candidates before the primary is over.

NE-Gov: Republican state Sen. John Stinner said this week that running for governor is "not a serious consideration right now," and while that's not quite a no, he still sounds very unlikely to get in. The western Nebraska legislator said he was "just getting too old to play the game" and added that he doubted that a candidate from his section of the state could raise enough money or win enough votes to prevail.

NY-Gov: Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces a new criminal investigation by state Attorney General Tish James into allegations that he used state resources to help write and publicize his book, "American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic," last year. The matter was referred by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to James, who by law can only investigate criminal matters when asked to do so by other state or local officials.

Cuomo, who reportedly earned a $4 million advance from Crown Publishing Group, did not dispute that state employees had worked on his book, including editing drafts and printing manuscripts, but claims they did so voluntarily. A Cuomo spokesperson attacked the investigation itself, saying, "Both the comptroller and the attorney general have spoken to people about running for governor, and it is unethical to wield criminal referral authority to further political self-interest‎." Cuomo, James, and DiNapoli are all Democrats.

Meanwhile, several actual and potential GOP candidates for governor recently addressed a meeting of county-level party leaders from across the state, including Rep. Lee Zeldin, the most prominent declared Republican to enter the race so far. Also on the list of speakers, though, was a name we hadn't seen mentioned before, former state housing commissioner Joe Holland, who served under Gov. George Pataki. Holland briefly ran for governor in 2018 before dropping out, then sought the Republican nomination for attorney general but declined to run in the primary after losing to attorney Keith Wofford at the GOP convention.

TX-Gov: The Dallas Morning News generated plenty of attention over the weekend when it released a UT Tyler poll showing actor Matthew McConaughey leading Republican Gov. Greg Abbott 45-33 in a hypothetical general election, but there's a big reason to be skeptical that the Oscar winner would start out with anything like that advantage if he ran.

The survey did not include the party affiliation for either man, instead simply asking, "Matthew McConaughey has been talked about as a potential candidate for Governor of Texas. If he ran, would you be likely to support him more than Governor Abbott?" That omission makes it tough to draw any conclusions from this survey, especially since the self-described "aggressively centrist" McConaughey has refused to say what party banner, if any, he'd run under.

If McConaughey campaigns as a Democrat, it's likely that many of the respondents who opt for him now (including the 30% of the Republicans in the sample) simply would no longer consider him as a viable option. And should McConaughey instead campaign as an independent, he'd almost certainly face a Democratic opponent who would take many anti-Abbott votes from him. The dynamics of the race would also be dramatically different if McConaughey decided to run in a Republican primary against Abbott.

McConaughey himself has talked about running for governor but hasn't taken any obvious steps towards running, so we may never find out how he'd do under any of these scenarios. However, there's still an important lesson to be drawn here about the importance of including party affiliation (or noting the lack of it) in horserace surveys, even ones looking at very hypothetical races like this one. As we've written before, if a pollster doesn't include this, then they're leaving out important information and failing to accurately mimic the way voters will make their choices when they actually cast their ballots.

House

CA-21: While former Rep. TJ Cox announced in December that he'd seek a rematch against Republican incumbent David Valadao, the Democrat said Monday that he wouldn't decide on any 2022 plans until he sees the new congressional map.

FL-20: Democratic state Rep. Bobby DuBose announced Tuesday that he would run in the still-unscheduled special election to succeed the late Rep. Alcee Hastings. DuBose, who serves as his party's co-leader in the lower chamber, is a veteran elected official in the Fort Lauderdale area. The Florida Sun-Sentinel notes that another declared primary candidate, state Sen. Perry Thurston, also represents much of the same area as DuBose, so they could end up competing for the same base of geographic support.

Another Democrat, former Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor, also recently filed with the FEC, though she doesn't appear to have publicly announced yet. Taylor was last on the ballot in 2019 when she took last place with 20% in the three-way race for mayor of West Palm Beach.

MN-02: Marine veteran Tyler Kistner, who was the 2020 Republican nominee, announced Tuesday that he would seek a rematch against Democratic Rep. Angie Craig. Kistner is the first major Republican to announce a campaign against Craig in a state where neither party has control over redistricting.

Kistner spent much of last cycle looking like the underdog in a suburban Twin Cities seat that had backed Donald Trump 47-45 in 2016 but had moved to the left two years later. Kistner raised a serious amount of money in the final months, though, and the race took an unexpected turn in October when it was briefly postponed following the death of Legal Marijuana Party Now candidate Adam Weeks. Biden ultimately took the 2nd District 52-46, but Craig won by a smaller 48-46 margin, with Weeks posthumously taking 6%.

OH-15: Rep. Steve Stivers' Monday resignation announcement took the Buckeye State political world by surprise, but the field to succeed him has already started to take shape. Trump carried Ohio's 15th District, which includes the southern Columbus area and the college town of Athens, by a 56-42 margin.

On the GOP side, state Rep. Brian Stewart and state Sen. Bob Peterson each announced Monday that they were running in the upcoming special election. Stewart, who like Stivers is an Iraq War veteran, is a first-term state representative, while Peterson was first elected to the legislature during the 2010 GOP wave.

Both men may have company in the primary before long. State Rep. Jeff LaRe said Monday he was "extremely interested and very serious," while Mehek Cooke, who served as an attorney for the administration of now-former Gov. John Kasich, also said she was thinking about it. The Columbus Dispatch's Laura Bischoff reports that state Sen. Stephanie Kunze and Tim Schaffer are also considering.

For the Democrats, state Sen. Tina Maharath; state Reps. Allison Russo and Adam Miller; Franklin County Auditor Michael Stinziano; and Upper Arlington City Councilmember John Kulewicz each told Bischoff they were thinking about getting in; Stinziano added that he'd decide as soon as he could. Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein also has not ruled out a bid. Cleveland.com additionally mentions former state Sen. Lou Gentile and ex-Rep. Zack Space as possibilities.

It will be some time before the dates for the special can be set, though. Stivers announced Monday that his resignation would be effective May 16, and GOP Gov. Mike DeWine's office says the contest to succeed him can't be scheduled until the seat is officially vacant.

TX-06: Campaign finance reports are in ahead of the May 1 all-party primary for the period covering Jan. 1 to April 11, and we've collected the numbers for all the candidates in our quarterly House fundraising chart. The seven Democrats who filed a report reported bringing in a total of $915,000, while the six Republicans hauled in a combined $1.6 million.

The top fundraiser on either side was GOP state Rep. Jake Ellzey, who took in $504,000 from donors. Next was former Department of Health and Human Services official Brian Harrison, a fellow Republican who raised $356,000 from donors and self-funded an additional $285,000.

Harrison, who deployed $258,000 during this time, was also the top spender of the race; two Democrats, 2018 nominee Jana Lynne Sanchez and education advocate Shawn Lassiter, each outpaced the rest of the field by spending just over $200,000. The candidate who had the most money left on April 11 was Ellzey, who led Harrison $400,000 to $383,000 in cash-on-hand.

GOP activist Susan Wright, who is the wife of the late Rep. Ron Wright, has taken one of the top two spots in the few polls we've seen, but she doesn't have access to as much money as many of her rivals. Wright raised $286,000 and spent $158,000, and she had $128,000 for the final weeks.

Mayors

New York City, NY Mayor: The United Federation of Teachers, which was the last major union in city politics to make an endorsement in the June Democratic primary, backed City Comptroller Scott Stringer on Monday. Attorney Maya Wiley previously earned the endorsement of the health care union 1199 SEIU, while Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has the Hotel Trades Council, 32BJ, and DC37 (which represent hotel workers, building and airport employees, and municipal workers, respectively) in his corner.

Meanwhile, Rep. Gregory Meeks, a longtime congressman from Queens, has thrown his support behind former financial executive Raymond McGuire.

Obituaries

Deaths: Walter Mondale, a Democrat who represented Minnesota in the Senate from 1964 until just after he was elected vice president in 1976, died Monday at the age of 93. Mondale is most remembered for being the first truly influential vice president in modern American history and for his 1984 loss to Ronald Reagan, but, as is our wont at Daily Kos Elections, we'll devote ourselves to taking stock of his downballot political career.

Mondale got his start in politics in 1948 when Minneapolis Mayor Hubert Humphrey was campaigning to unseat Republican Sen. Joseph Ball. Mondale served as Humphrey’s organizer in the southern part of the state, and he became close to both the candidate and his campaign manager, Orville Freeman. Humphrey decisively won, and the connections Mondale made during that race would serve him well at a time when Democrats were making gains in what had been a Republican dominated state.

Freeman became governor in the 1950s, and he appointed the 32-year-old Mondale in 1960 to fill the vacant post of state attorney general. Mondale defended the post 58-42 that year, and he was re-elected in 1962 by an even larger margin. During his tenure, Mondale led an amicus brief in support of Clarence Gideon, who had been forced to represent himself when he couldn’t afford a lawyer; in 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the landmark Gideon v. Wainwright decision that established that all defendants had the right to legal counsel.

Mondale was appointed to the Senate in 1964 by Gov. Karl Rolvaag to succeed Humphrey, who had just been elected vice president on Lyndon Johnson’s ticket, and he was up for a full term two years later. This was a tough cycle for Democrats nationwide in large part because of the increasing unpopularity of the Vietnam War, but Mondale prevailed 54-45 even as Rolvaag was losing re-election.

Mondale’s colleague, George McGovern, asked him to be his running mate in 1972 after Ted Kennedy declined, but he also turned the South Dakota senator down. Mondale instead sought re-election and prevailed 57-43 even as Richard Nixon was carrying Minnesota 52-46, which marked the last time the state’s electoral votes wound up in the GOP column.

Mondale considered a presidential run in 1973 only to decide not to. Mondale later wrote, “I had pulled about even with 'None of the Above' in national opinion surveys, and I dropped that bid — to widespread applause.” Mondale, though, would be on the national ticket in 1976 as Jimmy Carter’s running mate.

Mondale’s time in state politics seemed to be over following his ascension to the vice presidency and subsequent 1980 re-election loss, as well as his landslide defeat to Reagan in 1984. In 1990, some Democratic leaders tried to recruit him to challenge Republican Sen. Rudy Boschwitz but he declined, arguing the party needed new voices; Boschwitz would go on to lose to Democrat Paul Wellstone, while Mondale would later serve as Bill Clinton’s ambassador to Japan.

Mondale, though, would compete in one more election. Wellstone died in a plane crash 11 days before the 2002 election, and party leaders chose the former vice president as their replacement candidate. Democrats were in for another tough cycle thanks to George W. Bush’s popularity following the Sept. 11 attacks and the leadup to the invasion of Iraq, and this time, Mondale wasn’t able to run ahead of the tides during his six days as a candidate.

Allies of Republican Norm Coleman, who had been locked in a close race with Wellstone, loudly argued that Team Blue had turned the senator’s funeral into a partisan event, a tactic that likely harmed the new nominee’s prospects. Coleman triumphed 50-47 in what was Mondale’s only defeat in his home state, a defeat that when combined with his 1984 presidential loss also gave Mondale the unwelcome distinction of being the only person in American history to lose an election in all 50 states as a nominee of one of the two major parties, a feat that looks very unlikely to be repeated by anyone for the foreseeable future.

Morning Digest: California nominates first Filipino American to become its state attorney general

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-AG: California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Wednesday that he was nominating Democratic Assemblyman Rob Bonta to serve as state attorney general to replace Xavier Becerra, who recently resigned to become U.S. secretary of health and human services.

Bonta, who emigrated from the Philippines to escape the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, became the first Filipino American to serve in the Assembly in 2012, and he would also make history as attorney general. Bonta would also be California's second Asian American attorney general after Kamala Harris, who held this post when she was elected to the Senate in 2016.

Bonta, who has made a name for himself as a criminal justice reformer, still needs to be confirmed by his colleagues in both chambers of the legislature before he can take office, but it would be a huge surprise if he had any trouble in the heavily Democratic body. Bonta would then be up for a full term in 2022 along with California's other statewide office holders.

Bonta would be guaranteed to attract national attention as attorney general of America's largest state, and the job has also set up many of its occupants for larger things. Harris' predecessor was Jerry Brown, the state's once-and-future Democratic governor; Brown's father, Pat Brown, also held this office when he was elected governor himself back in 1958.

Senate

MO-Sen: Former U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison said Thursday that he would not run in next year's Republican primary.

Campaign Action

Meanwhile on the Democratic side, former Gov. Jay Nixon didn't rule out a Senate bid when asked, instead merely saying, "That's not what I'm focused on right now." Unnamed sources close to Nixon told the Missouri Independent about two weeks ago that he was giving some "serious thought" to a bid, but they still believed it was "highly unlikely he'll give up life in the private sector."

SD-Sen: Politico's Burgess Everett writes that, while Sen. John Thune's Republican colleagues are "certain" that he'll seek a fourth term next year in this very red state, the incumbent is continuing to publicly refrain from talking about his plans. Thune, who is the number-two Republican in the chamber, noted that he usually announces his campaigns in the fall, saying, "In this day and age, these campaigns are so long. And I think they start way too early."

Thune did add, "We're moving forward doing all the things that you do. And at some point, we'll make everything official." However, Everett points out that his statement "sounds a little like two GOP senators, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Rob Portman of Ohio, who sent all the right signals about running again — until they bowed out." Thune himself also admitted that serving in the Senate is "probably as challenging today as it's ever been, given the political environment."

One Republican who would like to see someone other than Thune holding that seat is Donald Trump. In December, during what turned out to be his last weeks on Twitter, Trump wrote, "RINO John Thune, 'Mitch's boy', should just let it play out. South Dakota doesn't like weakness. He will be primaried in 2022, political career over!!!" Trump then went on to call for Gov. Kristi Noem to take on the senator, but she quickly said no. We haven't heard any notable politicians so much as mentioned as possible Thune primary foes since then.

Governors

FL-Gov: On behalf of Florida Politics, St. Pete Polls has released a survey showing Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis deadlocked 45-45 in a hypothetical general election matchup against Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. That's a very different result than the 51-42 DeSantis lead that Mason-Dixon poll found last month against Fried, who is currently considering running but has not yet announced a gubernatorial bid.

NY-Gov: Fox meteorologist Janice Dean has attracted plenty of attention over the last year as a vocal critic of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but for now at least, she doesn't seem to be looking to challenge the scandal-ridden incumbent. City & State recently wrote of Dean, "Thus far, she has resisted calls by some Republicans for her to run." The Associated Press also said that she "waves off thoughts of a political future," though it notes that this hasn't stopped others from speculating.

PA-Gov: Pennsylvania politicos have long anticipated that Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro will run for governor next year, and Shapiro himself told Philadelphia Magazine' Robert Huber last month, "I expect to be a candidate." Shapiro stopped short of announcing a campaign, though, adding, "And if you tweet that tomorrow, I'm going to be very upset."

Shapiro, as Huber notes in his detailed profile of the attorney general, has been a very big name in Pennsylvania politics for a long time. In 2015, national Democrats tried to recruit Shapiro, who was serving as chair of the Montgomery County Commission at the time, to take on Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, but he ended up successfully campaigning for attorney general instead.

Major Pennsylvania Democrats talked openly about Shapiro running for governor even before he was re-elected last year. In 2019, when Gov. Tom Wolf was asked about the contest to succeed him, he notably pointed at Shapiro and said, "That's my guy right there." Republicans looking to unseat Shapiro in 2020 tried to portray him as "a career politician already looking to run for governor," but he won his second term 51-46 as Joe Biden was carrying the Keystone State by a smaller 50-49 spread, which also made Shapiro the only one of the three Democrats running for statewide executive office to win last year.

So far at least, Shapiro appears to have deterred any major Democrats from running for governor. While Team Blue could end up with a crowded primary next year for the state's open Senate seat, we've barely heard anyone else so much as mentioned as a prospective gubernatorial opponent all year. The one exception is Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, who didn't rule out running for governor or Senate back in January.

House

AL-05: Madison County Commissioner Dale Strong filed FEC paperwork this week for a potential bid to succeed Rep. Mo Brooks, a fellow Republican who is running for the Senate, but Strong may not have an open seat race to run for when redistricting is over.  

That's because the state is likely to lose one of its seven congressional districts, and Brooks' departure could make it easy for map makers to eliminate his northern Alabama seat. The only Alabama seat that borders Brooks' seat is the 4th District to the south, which is held by longtime Republican Rep. Robert Aderholt. (The 4th District happens to also be the Trumpiest seat in all of America.)

AZ-02: State Rep. Randy Friese announced Thursday that he would run to succeed his fellow Democrat, retiring Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick. Friese joins state Sen. Kirsten Engel in the primary for a Tucson-area seat that backed Joe Biden 55-44.

Friese was a trauma surgeon who operated on then-Rep. Gabby Giffords and others after a gunman sought to assassinate the congresswoman in 2011. Friese got into politics soon after and narrowly unseated a GOP incumbent to win a Tucson-area state House seat in 2014, convincingly winning re-election ever since.

Friese's new campaign quickly earned the praise of 314 Action, a group that seeks to recruit candidates with backgrounds in science to compete in Democratic primaries; while 314 said it wasn't formerly endorsing, an unnamed source tells Politico that it plans to spend $1 million to help Friese win the nomination.

WY-AL: On Wednesday, the Wyoming state Senate voted down a bill that would have required a runoff in any primaries where no one earned a majority of the vote.

The legislation attracted national attention earlier this month when it was championed by Donald Trump Jr., who argued that its passage would make it easier to defeat Rep. Liz Cheney in next year's Republican primary. However, a committee ended up amending the bill to only take effect in 2023, which would be too late to be used against Cheney this cycle.

This week, several state senators also expressed skepticism that there was any need for a runoff, especially given the cost of holding another election, and they voted 15-14 to kill it.

Mayors

New York City, NY Mayor: Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams on Wednesday accepted the endorsement of District Council 37, a union that the New York Daily News says represents 150,000 current city municipal workers and 60,000 retirees, in the June Democratic primary.

Grab Bag

Deaths: Bill Brock, whose 1970 victory made him second Republican ever elected to represent Tennessee in the Senate, died Thursday at the age of 90. Brock, who lost re-election six years later, went on to serve as chair of the Republican National Committee and in the Reagan cabinet as U.S. trade representative and secretary of labor before he mounted one last Senate bid in 1994 in Maryland.

Brock grew up in a Democratic family; his grandfather and namesake had even briefly served in the Senate from 1929 to 1931. The younger Brock, though, got active in Republican politics in the 1950s before deciding to run for the House in 1962 in a Chattanooga-based seat that was the home of his family's candy manufacturing company.

While other parts of East Tennessee had been heavily Republican turf since the Civil War, Democrats had controlled the 3rd District for generations. However, Democratic Rep. J.B. Frazier had just lost renomination to Wilkes Thrasher, an attorney that Republicans successfully tied to a Kennedy administration that was becoming unpopular in the region. Brock won 51-49, and he decisively held the seat over the following three campaigns.

Brock then sought a promotion in 1970 by taking on Democratic Sen. Al Gore Sr., the father of the future vice president, at a time when Tennessee was rapidly veering towards the Republicans. Howard Baker had won the state's other Senate seat in 1966, the GOP had taken control of the state House two years later as Richard Nixon edged out segregationist George Wallace, and Winfield Dunn was waging a strong and ultimately campaign for governor in 1970.

Gore, who had a reputation as a civil rights supporter, was in a tough position where he had to win over Wallace voters to prevail, and it didn't help that he'd barely won a majority of the vote in the primary. Brock, meanwhile, targeted Gore's opposition to the Vietnam War and opposition to Nixon's Supreme Court nominees and portrayed him as an opponent of school prayer. Brock, who also attacked "the disgraceful forced busing of our school students" went on to win 51-47 after a campaign that writer David Halberstam soon dubbed "the most disreputable and scurrilous race I have ever covered in Tennessee."

Brock faced a very different climate in 1976, though. Watergate had badly damaged the GOP brand nationally, and the senator's Democratic opponent, former state party chair Jim Sasser, attacked Brock as "a special interest senator who represents exclusively money interests." Brock also attracted bad headlines less than a month before Election Day when he acknowledged he'd paid only a very small amount of his large income in taxes; The senator's foes soon created buttons reading, "I Paid More Taxes Than Brock." Sasser, who had been Gore's campaign manager six years before, avenged that loss by unseating Brock 52-47 as Jimmy Carter was carrying Tennessee 56-43.

Sasser would go on to be defeated for re-election in the 1994 wave, but ironically, Brock was also losing a Senate race that year in his new home in Maryland. Brock, who had completed a stint in the Reagan administration a few years before, took on Democratic Sen. Paul Sarbanes, who portrayed the Republican as an outsider. Brock gave Sarbanes the closest fight in his five re-election campaigns, but he still lost by a wide 59-41.

Every Court Of Appeals Judge Who Would Vote In Cuomo Impeachment Trial Was Appointed By Him

Should the impeachment investigation involving Andrew Cuomo proceed to a vote, all 7 Court of Appeals judges involved will have been appointed by the New York Governor himself.

The New York state impeachment process is a bit unique in that following an impeachment vote in the Assembly, a court is formed consisting of members of the Senate as well as the seven members of the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

Those judges – Rowan Wilson, Jenny Rivera, Leslie Stein, Eugene Fahey, Michael Garcia, Paul Feinman and Chief Judge Janet DiFiore – were all appointed by Cuomo between 2013 and 2017.

In an interview with NewsMax, former Rep. John Faso (R-NY) said that the Cuomo appointees are “mostly liberal … very liberal” and “they are all Democrats except one.”

“The seven judges could be instrumental in determining the outcome of a potential impeachment trial as they would make up 10% of the 70-person impeachment court,” Fox News analyzes.

RELATED: Biden Says Cuomo Should Resign, Could Face Prosecution If Sexual Harassment Allegations Are True

Impeachment Judges Appointed By Cuomo

The specter of having judges appointed by Andrew Cuomo possibly deciding the outcome of an impeachment trial for the governor is raising concerns that the process may be a sham.

Speaker of the New York State Assembly Carl Heastie has said the probe would be “very broad,” possibly including more than just the numerous sexual harassment claims against Cuomo.

Heastie announced on Wednesday that the Assembly had hired one of the nation’s top-rated law firms, Davis Polk & Wardwell, to assist with the investigation.

The group includes a former Brooklyn federal prosecutor who worked as an assistant special counsel on Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Lindsey Boylan, a former Cuomo aide who was the first to accuse Cuomo of sexual misconduct, is not impressed with the investigation thus far, calling it a “sham,” “corrupt,” and “cynical” probe.

Boylan insisted she would not take part in the state-led impeachment probe.

“Do not trust [Heastie],” she tweeted. “His impeachment investigation is not designed to be transparent or to move fast, and there’s nothing [Cuomo] wants more than time.”

“Many of us have not put our whole lives on the line for this crap,” she added. “I certainly have not and will not.”

Boylan has claimed that Cuomo forcibly kissed her on the lips and suggested “let’s play strip poker.”

RELATED: NY Assembly Takes First Step Toward Impeachment Of Cuomo, Police Report Filed Over Groping Allegations

Nursing Home Whistleblower Says Staff Were ‘Petrified’ Of Cuomo’s Executive Order

The impeachment investigation is supposed to address the nursing home scandal as well, inarguably the bigger issue at hand for Cuomo.

That scandal involves an executive order by the governor forcing nursing homes to take in COVID-positive patients and the subsequent cover-up involving the number of deaths related to that order.

Cuomo, on March 25th of last year, issued an executive order prohibiting nursing homes from requiring incoming patients “to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.”

Cuomo refused to reverse the directive for over six weeks while well over 15,000 senior citizens succumbed to the virus.

The Political Insider reported in August that what separated New York from other states with their own nursing home directives is that the staff at the facilities felt pressured by the Governor.

Politifact confirmed the notion saying Cuomo left executives at nursing homes feeling that “they had no choice but to accept these patients” despite the threat of spreading the virus.

Michael Kraus, a Staten Island nursing home administrator, has alleged he and other executives of long-term care facilities were “petrified” of the Cuomo order and that his concerns were “shot down” by state officials.

“Many facilities vocalized it,” Kraus said in an interview with Fox News.

“They were petrified, but they were more petrified of the Department of Health … once it [my concern] was shot down, I never spoke [about it] again.”

Secretary to the Governor, Melissa DeRosa, admitted on a conference call in February that the administration hid information on COVID nursing home deaths from federal investigators.

For months the administration reported around 8,500 deaths, nearly 50% less than the confirmed number.

 

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NY Assembly Takes First Step Toward Impeachment Of Cuomo, Police Report Filed Over Groping Allegations

The New York State Assembly has taken its first step in pursuing the possible impeachment of Governor Andrew Cuomo, as calls continue to mount for his resignation.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Thursday gave the chamber a green light to open a probe which would include full subpoena power.

Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim confirmed the move to Fox News.

“The Democratic Conference is taking the first step toward impeachment by opening an investigation with full subpoena power to obtain facts and testimonies under oath,” he said in a statement.

Kim, who has accused Cuomo of trying to help cover-up his ongoing nursing home scandal, vowing to destroy his career if he didn’t go along, said he felt the impeachment process could have begun immediately.

“Some members, including myself, argued that we had enough admission to proceed with impeachment today but the conference is leaning toward setting up the process and structure toward impeachment,” he said.

RELATED: Bill de Blasio Calls On Cuomo To Resign After Sixth Woman Comes Forward With Groping Allegations

Assembly Sets Forth on Path to Cuomo Impeachment

The Assembly’s actions in moving to possibly impeach Cuomo come as a sixth woman has come forward with sexual misconduct allegations.

The latest claim involves a female aide whose description of events – through a source with direct knowledge – could land in the category of assault. 

The Albany Times Union reports that Cuomo “aggressively groped” the woman “in a sexually charged manner” after summoning her to the Executive Chamber.

The incident allegedly involved the Democrat “reach(ing) under her blouse” and fondling her.

“The reports of accusations concerning the governor are serious,” Heastie said in a statement adding, “the committee will have the authority to interview witnesses, subpoena documents and evaluate evidence, as is allowed by the New York State Constitution.”

Cuomo, aside from the impeachment probe, is currently being investigated on multiple fronts by Democrat New York Attorney General Letitia James.

One involves a cover-up in which the administration is accused of hiding data on deaths of the elderly in nursing homes which may have been the result of the governor’s March executive order forcing the facilities to take on COVID-positive patients.

The second is an independent investigation into the numerous sexual harassment claims.

The impeachment probe is not expected to interfere with James’ investigations.

RELATED: Cuomo Lawyers Up: Executive Chamber Hires Criminal Defense Attorney Who Represented Harvey Weinstein

Police Report Filed Over Groping Allegations

Albany police also revealed Thursday they received a report from the New York State Executive Chamber about an incident with potential criminal activity.

The incident, which aligns with the new accuser’s groping allegations, involved a female aide and took place at Cuomo’s executive mansion.

The New York Times reports that the police department has not opened an official investigation, but is offering its services to the alleged victim.

The latest allegations have not only started the ball rolling on Governor Cuomo’s impeachment, but it has also prompted dozens of Democrat lawmakers to call on his resignation.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio responded to the groping allegations as “troubling” and “disgusting,” saying it’s time for Cuomo to resign.

“It is disgusting to me. And he can no longer serve as governor. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

Earlier this week, the New York governor practically dared lawmakers to impeach him.

“Cuomo told [Senate Majority Leader Andrea] Stewart-Cousins he wouldn’t quit and they would have to impeach him if they wanted him out of office,” the Associated Press reported.

 

Now is the time to support and share the sources you trust.
The Political Insider ranks #16 on Feedspot’s “Top 70 Conservative Political Blogs, Websites & Influencers in 2021.”

 

The post NY Assembly Takes First Step Toward Impeachment Of Cuomo, Police Report Filed Over Groping Allegations appeared first on The Political Insider.