Morning Digest: GOP tries to boost Oregon Democrat disdained by national party

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

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OR-05: A new super PAC called Health Equity Now has launched what appears to be an attempt by Republicans to meddle in Tuesday's Democratic primary in Oregon's competitive 5th District. The group is airing ads designed to boost 2022 nominee Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who is not her national party's preferred candidate.

The Associated Press, citing data from AdImpact, says that the PAC has reserved $350,000 for an ad campaign that began Wednesday. Its commercial declares that McLeod-Skinner is "putting progressive values into action" and says she backs Medicare for All. The spot does not mention state Rep. Janelle Bynum, who has the support of the DCCC, or the Republican they're both hoping to unseat, freshman Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer.

Health Equity Now does not need to disclose its donors until after the primary, but there's a very good reason to think that Republicans are behind the effort: According to Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin, the PAC is using a media buyer that only works for Republicans. In past races, new outfits looking to cause trouble in primaries have often given away their true partisan affiliation through their choice of media firms.

Bynum's camp responded to the development by telling the AP it "certainly looks like there are ties to Republicans." McLeod-Skinner didn't address whether the GOP might be helping her, however, but signaled her agreement with the ad's themes.

"While I’ve never heard of this group and don’t support undisclosed money in our elections," she said in a statement, "it’s absolutely true that I believe everyone should have high-quality, affordable physical and mental healthcare." McLeod-Skinner's own ads, however, have not focused on Medicare for All but rather on abortion and corruption.

While McLeod-Skinner lost to Chavez-DeRemer by a close 52-48 margin in what was a hairy year for Oregon Democrats, her intra-party detractors do not want to give her the chance to avenge that defeat.

Axios reported last year that unnamed party leaders believed that Bynum, who previously defeated Chavez-DeRemer in legislative races in both 2016 and 2018, would be "a more business-friendly candidate better positioned to win swing voters" than McLeod-Skinner.

McLeod-Skinner later was the subject of stories from the Oregon Capitol Chronicle and Willamette Week featuring allegations that she had mistreated her staff, both during previous bids for office and as the city manager for the small Oregon community of Phoenix.

Mainstream Democrats PAC, a group funded by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, has aired ads based around these accusations, including a report that "McLeod-Skinner's driver texted, 'I'm scared she's gonna hit me.'" The candidate has denied the allegations.

Bynum has received outside help herself: Mainstream Democrats and 314 Action have spent a total of $1.2 million to propel her to victory on Tuesday, while Health Equity Now is the first third-party group that's taking action to boost McLeod-Skinner.

Bynum's campaign also enjoys a financial advantage. The state representative outspent McLeod-Skinner $383,000 to $196,000 during the month of April, and Bynum had a $340,000 to $191,000 cash advantage going into the final weeks of the race.

McLeod-Skinner, however, is hoping her own messaging, as well as her name recognition from her last bid, can overcome that deficit. She began airing commercials last week attacking Bynum's voting record in the legislature, including one highlighting that Bynum "was the only vote against giving rape survivors more time to seek justice against their rapists." Regarding that vote, Bynum argued at the time, "It's not popular to protect the accused but it is our job."

The 5th District, which is based in Portland's southern suburbs and central Oregon, favored Joe Biden 53-44 in 2020, but both parties are preparing for a difficult general election. Chavez-DeRemer, who has no primary opposition, had $1.9 million stockpiled as of May 1.

Senate

UT-Sen: Rep. John Curtis' allies at the super PAC Conservative Values for Utah have publicized an early May internal poll from Guidant that shows him leading Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs, who has Donald Trump's endorsement, by a wide 41-15 margin in the June 25 Republican primary.

Two self-funding candidates, former state House Speaker Brad Wilson and businessman Jason Walton, respectively clock in at 9% and 2%, while the remaining 33% are undecided. This is the first poll we've seen of the primary to replace retiring Sen. Mitt Romney since the April 27 GOP convention, which shrunk the number of contenders from 10 to four.

House

CA-16: The California Democratic Party endorsed Assemblyman Evan Low on Tuesday over former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo in the all-Democratic general election for this open seat. The party previously backed Rep. Anna Eshoo at its November convention only for her to announce her retirement days later, and it had not issued a new endorsement until now.

CO-03: The Colorado Republican Party has endorsed former state Rep. Ron Hanks, an underfunded election conspiracy theorist, in the six-way June 25 primary for the open 3rd District. The move came one day after the GOP backed former state Rep. Janak Joshi's longshot campaign in the swingy 8th District over the national party favorite, state Rep. Gabe Evans.

In a statement, the party trashed two of Hanks' intra-party rivals, attorney Jeff Hurd and state Board of Education member Stephen Varela. Among other things, it took issue with Hurd for launching a primary challenge to incumbent Lauren Boebert before she decided to run in the more conservative 4th District rather than defend the more competitive 3rd District in western Colorado. (The party is supporting Boebert in her new race.)

It also charged that Hurd had refused to commit to voting for Donald Trump and attacked him for gaining a place on the primary ballot by collecting signatures rather than competing at last month's party convention. It further alluded unhappily to the $200,000 that Americans for Prosperity, a tea party-era group that's now toxic in MAGA world, has spent to help Hurd so far.

Varela, by contrast, won the convention that Hurd skipped, but the party still has grievances to air against him. Its statement alluded to a February story in the Denver Post reporting that Varela was under federal investigation for allegedly misspending his union's money when he led a chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees. It also highlighted an earlier report from 9News noting that Varela had changed his party affiliations 18 times since 2011.

Varela responded by arguing that the party was unwittingly helping the same national Democrats who spent millions last cycle in an unsuccessful attempt to boost Hanks, whom they viewed as a weak potential nominee, in the GOP primary to take on Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet. (Wealthy businessman Joe O'Dea won the nod but lost badly to Bennet anyway.) Democrats, however, have made no similar effort to promote Hanks so far this year.

MI-08: EMILYs List has endorsed state Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet in the Aug. 6 Democratic primary for this competitive open seat. McDonald Rivet's main intra-party rival appears to be businessman Matt Collier, who served as mayor of Flint three decades ago. State Board of Education President Pamela Pugh is also running, but she's struggled to raise money.

MI-13: Staffers for Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett officially recommended that she disqualify former state Sen. Adam Hollier from the August Democratic primary ballot on the grounds that he failed to turn in the requisite 1,000 valid signatures from voters.

In a report released Thursday, Garrett's team determined that Hollier submitted only 863 acceptable signatures, concluding that the remaining 690 were not usable.

The Detroit Free Press' Clara Hendrickson says that state law requires that this staff report must be made public at least two business days before Garrett makes a decision. Hendrickson adds that "those who disagree" with the clerk's determination may contest it with Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson or in court.

Hollier is seeking a rematch against freshman Rep. Shri Thanedar following his close 28-24 loss two years ago, when the safely blue 13th District was open. Thanedar sought to foreclose a second go-round, though, by announcing last month that he was challenging Hollier's signatures on the grounds that many were forged. Garrett's team agreed.

"It was more than obvious to staff that the same hand had completed and signed" several petition sheets, officials wrote in their report. Altogether, the review said that most of the 348 signatures collected by three circulators were suspicious. Other signatures couldn't be accepted for more prosaic reasons, such as the signer not being a registered voter in the 13th District.

Detroit Councilmember Mary Waters is also running against Thanedar, and she would likely benefit if Hollier is disqualified. Waters, though, had just $5,000 in her campaign coffers at the end of March, so she may not be able to put up an effective fight against the wealthy incumbent.

NY-16: AIPAC's United Democracy Project has begun what Jewish Insider reports is a $2 million week-long buy to beat Rep. Jamaal Bowman in the June 25 Democratic primary, with one of its opening ads attacking the incumbent for voting against the Biden administration's priorities.

This messaging may already be familiar to viewers, as Westchester County Executive George Latimer debuted his own ad last week that, like the UDP's, went after Bowman for voting against the 2021 infrastructure bill.

UDP, which is also airing a commercial praising Latimer as a reliable liberal, is the first super PAC to spend a serious amount of money. Bowman, however, was already facing a big advertising deficit: AdImpact said Thursday that Latimer has outspent Bowman $967,000 to $171,000 on ads.

SC-01: A super PAC called South Carolina Patriots has spent a total of $2 million as of Thursday attacking Rep. Nancy Mace ahead of the June 11 Republican primary, which is almost twice as much as the $1.1 million that the Post & Courier reported it had deployed through Sunday. The group has ties to allies of Kevin McCarthy, whom Mace voted to depose as speaker last year.

Altogether, AdImpact writes that $4.3 million has been spent or reserved for ads either attacking Mace or promoting her main intra-party rival, former state cabinet official Catherine Templeton, compared to $2.5 million in pro-Mace advertising. The Trump-backed incumbent's main ally is the Club for Growth, which, according to FEC records, has spent $1 million to help her.

Marine veteran Bill Young is also running, and while he's attracted little attention, his presence on the ballot could prevent either Mace or Templeton from winning the majority of the vote needed to avert a June 25 runoff.

VA-07: The Washington Post, which has a large readership in Northern Virginia, has endorsed former National Security Council adviser Eugene Vindman in the June 18 Democratic primary for an open seat based in Washington's southern exurbs. The 7th District, which Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger is giving up to focus on her 2025 bid for governor, favored Joe Biden 53-46.

Vindman, along with his identical twin brother, Alexander, was at the center of the scandal that led to Donald Trump's 2019 impeachment. Thanks to the siblings' high profile during that affair, Vindman has been one of the strongest House fundraisers in the nation. He ended March with a massive $1.8 million to $188,000 cash advantage over his nearest intra-party opponent, Prince William County Supervisor Andrea Bailey.

The field also includes Bailey's colleague on the County Board, Margaret Franklin; Del. Briana Sewell; former Del. Elizabeth Guzman, and two little-known contenders. Spanberger has not taken sides in the race to succeed her.

The Post also endorsed Green Beret veteran Derrick Anderson for the Republican nomination, though the paper's support was not a sought-after prize for GOP primary candidates even before Donald Trump made it one of his many "fake news" punching bags.

Indeed, one of Anderson's intra-party rivals, Navy SEAL veteran Cameron Hamilton, responded to the development by retweeting messages from the last two GOP nominees, Nick Freitas and Yesli Vega, saying that the Post's endorsement demonstrates that Anderson is the least conservative option. Anderson himself has ignored the development on his social media accounts.

The good news for Anderson is that he already had more valuable endorsements from Speaker Mike Johnson and the Congressional Leadership Fund. Anderson also ended March with a $581,000 to $176,000 cash on hand advantage over Hamilton, while none of the other four candidates had so much as $100,000 available.

VA-10: The Washington Post has also endorsed Del. Dan Helmer in the Democratic primary to succeed Rep. Jennifer Wexton, a Democrat who is not seeking reelection because of the worsening symptoms of a neurodegenerative disease.

Earlier this week, Wexton backed a different state legislator, state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam, in the 12-way race for the nomination. The 10th District, which is located just north of the 7th, backed Joe Biden 58-40 in the last presidential election.

Helmer ended March with a decisive financial lead over the rest of the field, though his advantage isn't as yawning as Alexander Vindman's in the 7th. Helmer finished the first quarter with an $815,000 to $608,000 lead in cash on hand over Krystle Kaul, a defense contractor who has been self-funding much of her effort.

Subramanyam was just behind with $575,000 banked, compared to $435,000 for former state House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn. Former state education secretary Atif Qarni had $208,000 on hand, while state Sen. Jennifer Boysko and Del. David Reid respectively had $172,000 and $109,000.

Judges

GA Supreme Court: A federal court has rejected a lawsuit by former Democratic Rep. John Barrow seeking to block a state panel from policing his statements on abortion as he seeks a seat on the Georgia Supreme Court, ruling that Barrow had failed to show he'd been injured by the board's actions.

The harms Barrow alleged stemmed from a letter that the state's Judicial Qualifications Commission had sent the candidate, warning him that his comments and advertisements expressing support for abortion rights violated the state's Code of Judicial Conduct.

But U.S. District Judge Michael Brown pointed out in his decision that the letter in question was confidential and only became public because Barrow shared it. He also questioned Barrow's claims that his speech might be chilled, noting that Barrow has continued to speak out on abortion.

An attorney for Barrow said the campaign might appeal or file a new suit in state court. Barrow is seeking to unseat conservative Justice Andrew Pinson in an officially nonpartisan election on Tuesday.

Ballot Measures

MO Ballot: A Republican plan to entice voters into curtailing their rights is all but dead after Democrats in the Missouri Senate staged a record-breaking filibuster that forced the GOP to back down on Wednesday. With the legislative session coming to an end on Friday evening, Republicans now have little time to act, buoying Democratic hopes of preserving direct democracy and passing an abortion rights amendment this fall.

Republicans had been hoping to thwart that effort, which would undo the state's near-total ban on abortion, by placing their own measure on the Aug. 6 primary ballot that would make it harder to pass future amendments.

Mindful of the humiliating failure their counterparts in Ohio experienced last year, however, Missouri Republicans sought to add so-called "ballot candy" to their proposal: empty provisions that might entice conservatives to back it despite its deleterious impact on voters' power.

It was these enticements that Democrats objected to vociferously, prompting a 50-hour filibuster that began on Monday. These blandishments included provisions that would ban non-citizens from voting and prohibit foreign donations—things that are already illegal.

Democrats had strong reason to resist, since this tactic had proven successful in the past: In 2020, voters repealed a redistricting reform measure they'd passed in a landslide two years earlier by narrowly adopting a Republican amendment that included some fig-leaf ethics reforms.

Democrats say they are prepared for a fair fight over a candy-free version of the GOP's proposal, which would require amendments to win a majority of the vote both statewide and in five of the state's eight congressional districts.

"I think it will definitely be defeated and defeated resoundingly," Democratic state Sen. Lauren Arthur told Daily Kos Elections on "The Downballot" podcast.

That is, if the measure makes the ballot at all. Republicans brought the Democrats' filibuster to an end on Wednesday by voting to send their amendment to a conference committee with the state House, which previously passed it, complete with candy.

The House, however, voted to reject any such conference that might yield an unencumbered version of the amendment on Thursday afternoon. That means Senate Democrats are certain to resume their filibuster to ensure that the sugar-coated variant doesn't pass, a talk-a-thon they'd need to sustain until 6 PM local time on Friday.

Republicans could still try to break a filibuster by deploying a little-used parliamentary maneuver known as "calling the previous question"—a step that members of the far-right Freedom Caucus have implored their party to take. But more mainstream Republicans have resisted, due both to a bitter split within the GOP and because past attempts have often resulted in even greater dysfunction.

If Democrats stand strong, then, and Republicans remain divided, the GOP would come away empty-handed, and the measure to restore abortion rights would only need a simple majority to become law in November.

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Morning Digest: You’ve got to try hard to raise as little as this Republican

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

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

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NY-03: Thanks to a series of signature challenges, Republicans now know that their hopes of avenging their loss in February's special election for New York's 3rd District will rest with former Assemblyman Mike LiPetri. But even though supporters of LiPetri were behind those challenges, there's good reason to wonder whether he can pose a serious threat to Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi.

LiPetri's campaign has denied involvement in the efforts to boot four other candidates, including Air Force veteran Greg Hach and businessman Jim Toes, from the June 25 primary ballot. But Hach and Toes were quick to accuse the Nassau County Republican Party, which has endorsed LiPetri and seldom brooks dissent in nominating contests, of trying to pre-ordain the outcome in comments to the Long Island Herald's Will Sheeline.

Hach and Toes also pointed out the disastrous fates of the Nassau GOP's last two hand-picked choices for this seat: George Santos, who was expelled from Congress last year, and Mazi Pilip, who got crushed by Suozzi in the special to replace Santos.

Republicans should be concerned about LiPetri, too: After announcing his campaign on March 11, he raised all of $52 for the rest of the month—a sum so small that you'd almost have to make an effort not to raise more. Suozzi, by contrast, still had $1.1 million banked at the end of March, despite his heavy spending on the special. (Hach at least had self-funded almost $700,000, and both he and Toes managed to bring in about $100,000 from donors.)

There's still time for LiPetri to turn things around, but since this Long Island-based district is contained entirely inside the ultra-expensive New York City media market, he'll need lots of dough to get his name out, especially given how well-known his Democratic rival is. And LiPetri can't count on outside GOP groups to make up the difference, as Pilip hoped they would, since third parties pay much higher advertising rates than candidates.

Senate

 AZ-Sen: A new report from Politico points out that national Republican groups have yet to make ad reservations for Arizona's Senate race despite the eight-figure sums Democrats have already booked, and it's almost certainly because of their likely nominee's never-ending record of self-sabotage.

Perhaps no incident better sums up the problem posed by Kari Lake, the far-right former TV anchor who narrowly lost her bid for governor in 2022, than her incoherent response to a recent state Supreme Court ruling upholding an 1864 law banning nearly all abortions.

Following that ruling, Lake reportedly urged state lawmakers to repeal the ban, according to multiple media reports. But just days later, on a trip to Idaho—Lake has a penchant for out-of-state travel—she reversed herself completely.

"The Arizona Supreme Court said this is the law of Arizona, but unfortunately, the people running our state have said we're not going to enforce it," she told a conservative outlet called the Idaho Dispatch. "So it's really political theater." (The state did ultimately undo the ban earlier this month.)

Episodes like this have made many Republicans wary of Lake, including Mitch McConnell. As Politico points out, the minority leader recently failed to mention Arizona when listing the GOP's top four targets this year, which he gave as Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.

Lake is also getting swamped by her likely Democratic opponent, Rep. Ruben Gallego, who has raised $21 million this cycle compared with just $5.5 million for the Republican. In addition, Gallego has been on TV continuously since March while Lake has barely advertised.

Lake may be getting some help soon, though: Politico reports that the NRSC "is preparing to launch a joint TV ad buy" with the candidate. However, any such coordinated expenditures would be limited to about $720,000 in total, since it's unlikely that hybrid ads would be effective in swingy Arizona.

 NV-Sen, OH-Sen, PA-Sen, WI-Sen: More big ad reservations from both sides are flooding into a quartet of top-tier Senate races.

AdImpact reports that Duty and Honor, a Democratic super PAC affiliated with the Senate Majority PAC, has booked at least $7 million to start running ads in Ohio later this month. Meanwhile, the firm says that the GOP group One Nation has reserved $8.5 million in Pennsylvania, almost $4 million in Wisconsin, and $1.5 million in Nevada. These spots are set to begin sometime this summer.

Governors

 WV-Gov: With just days to go before West Virginia's primaries, the Club for Growth has started airing ads attacking Secretary of State Mac Warner, who has been mired in fourth place in the polls and had been ignored by outside groups until now.

The new spots, from the Club's affiliated Black Bear PAC, slam Warner for failing to endorse Donald Trump's third bid for president (and par for the course for this race, it also manages to throw in a transphobic jab). It's not clear how much the Club is putting into this latest offensive, but the GOP firm Medium Buying points out that Warner's campaign has spent a measly $17,000 on TV and radio so far.

Early on in the contest, the Club, which is hoping to see Attorney General Patrick Morrisey secure the Republican nod for the open governorship, focused its fire on businessman Chris Miller, apparently seeing him as the biggest threat. But several weeks ago, it began hammering former Del. Moore Capito, who recently earned the endorsement of term-limited Gov. Jim Justice.

According to 538's polling average, Morrisey remains the frontrunner with the support of 33% of primary voters with Capito not far behind at 26. Miller is further back at 20 while Warner brings up the year with just 12% of the vote.

House

 NJ-10: New Jersey Redevelopment Authority COO Darryl Godfrey and Shana Melius, who worked as a staffer for the late Democratic Rep. Don Payne, each joined the July 16 special Democratic primary election to succeed Payne before filing closed Friday

Godfrey is a top official at an independent state agency that describes its mission as "transform[ing] urban communities through direct investment and technical support." The New Jersey Globe says that Godfrey, who previously worked in banking, says he's willing to do some self-funding, though it remains to be seen to what extent.

Godfrey grew up in the 10th District in Newark, but he currently lives in Morristown in Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill's neighboring 11th District. The candidate, writes the Globe, intends to move back to this constituency. (Members of Congress do not need to live in the district they represent.) He does not appear to have sought office before. 

Melius, meanwhile, spent three years in Payne's office, and she also co-founded a group to improve "diversity and social equity within the cannabis industry." Melius is a first-time candidate.

Godfrey and Melius are two of the 11 Democrats competing in the special election for this safely blue Newark-area seat. The other main contenders are all current or former elected officials: Newark City Council President LaMonica McIver, who has the backing of several influential figures in populous Essex County; Linden Mayor Derek Armstead; Hudson County Commissioner Jerry Walker; and former East Orange City Councilwoman Brittany Claybrooks, who worked as North Jersey political director for Rep. Andy Kim's Senate campaign.

Kim's Senate campaign was part of a successful lawsuit that barred Democrats from utilizing the county line system in this year's primaries, a ruling that applies to this contest. That's a big difference from the 2012 special election to Payne's father and namesake, where the younger Payne's favorable ballot position, as well as name identification, helped him easily beat several opponents.

Whoever secures a plurality in the July 16 primary should have no trouble beating Carmen Bucco, a perennial candidate who has the Republican side to himself, in the Sept. 18 general election.

Payne's name remains on the ballot for the regularly scheduled June 4 primary, where he's the only candidate listed. Local Democratic leaders will be tasked with selecting a new nominee sometime after results are certified on June 17. The New Jersey Globe previously reported that party officials "are not expected" to act until after the special Democratic primary.

 NY-16: Westchester County Executive George Latimer is airing what appears to be his first negative ad targeting Rep. Jamaal Bowman ahead of next month's Democratic primary, featuring several people who castigate Bowman's record and views.

"One of only six Democrats to oppose the historic infrastructure bill," says one woman. "Just to stick it to President Biden," adds another in disgust.

Bowman said in 2021 that he'd voted against the infrastructure bill because it had been severed from a climate change and healthcare reform measure known as Build Back Better, though many of those priorities became law thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed in 2022. (Bowman voted for the latter bill.)

The spot then shifts to address reports from earlier this year about the congressman's questionable beliefs.

"Bowman even promoted dangerous conspiracy theories about 9/11," says another woman. "That's a disgrace."

In January, the Daily Beast's Will Bredderman revealed that Bowman had written a "free verse" poem embracing conspiracies about the attacks in 2011, which Bowman sought to dismiss as an old attempt at intellectual exploration. Just days, ago, however, Bredderman also reported that Bowman had subscribed to all manner of fringe channels on his YouTube account, including some operated by flat earthers and UFO obsessives.

The ad concludes with various individuals praising Latimer for "modernizing our infrastructure" and "protecting our reproductive rights."

 OR-03: State Rep. Maxine Dexter reported raising more than $218,000 on a single day recently, a haul that OPB's Dirk VanderHart says "appears" to be linked to the prominent pro-Israel group AIPAC.

Federal candidates normally report fundraising data on a quarterly basis, but in the 20 days prior to an election, FEC rules give them just 48 hours to declare any new donations of $1,000 or more. With Oregon's primary looming on May 21, that accelerated reporting period began earlier this month, prompting Dexter's disclosure.

VanderHart says that the "vast majority" of donors who gave to Dexter on May 7 "have a history of giving to AIPAC," though AIPAC itself did not comment. Dexter's campaign also noted that the group has not issued an endorsement in the Democratic primary for Oregon's 3rd District, a safely blue open seat based in Portland.

Dexter faces two notable rivals in the race to succeed retiring Rep. Earl Blumenauer: former Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal, who is the sister of Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, and Gresham City Councilor Eddy Morales.

Jayapal had led the pack in fundraising through the end of March, but a different set of reports that were due at the FEC on Thursday showed Dexter surging during the month of April. (Twelve days before their primaries, candidates must also file a pre-election report that details all fundraising from the end of the previous quarter through the 20th day before the primary. After that point, the 48-hour reporting rule for large donations goes into effect.)

In her pre-primary filing, Dexter reported raising $575,000 while Jayapal took in $160,000 and Morales pulled down $112,000. Dexter also outspent her opponents in April and entered the stretch run with more cash on hand. That advantage has only grown since then, though: While both Jayapal and Morales had each filed one 48-hour report through Friday, their total hauls were a more modest $18,000 and $8,000 respectively.

 TX-13, TX-22, TX-38: It's Texas Week for the House Ethics Committee, which issued announcements concerning inquiries into three different Lone Star Republicans on Thursday and Friday.

The committee revealed in a press release that it's investigating Rep. Ronny Jackson, who two years ago was the subject of a report by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics concerning alleged improper spending.

That earlier report, which the Ethics Committee did not reference in its release, concluded there was "substantial" evidence that Jackson had spent campaign money for membership at a private social club, which is prohibited by federal law.

At the time, an attorney for Jackson, who had refused to cooperate with the OCE's investigation, said the congressman had sought to use the membership for campaign events. In response to the latest developments, a spokesperson called the accusations "baseless," though she claimed that Jackson had "fully complied" with the committee.

Separately, the committee said it would extend a previously announced probe into Rep. Troy Nehls that began in March. It also released a report from the OCE saying there was "probable cause to believe" that Nehls had made personal use of campaign funds and had failed to provide required information on the annual financial disclosure forms that all members of Congress must file.

The OCE's report focuses on payments from Nehls' campaign to a company he owns called Liberty 1776, ostensibly to rent office space to run his campaign. However, Nehls listed a property run by an entity called Z-Bar as his headquarters on his FEC filings, though he never recorded paying any rent to Z-Bar and only made irregular payments to Liberty 1776.

An attorney for Nehls denied the OCE's allegations, and Nehls, like Jackson, has refused to cooperate with the office's investigation. He said, however, that he would cooperate with the Ethics Committee.

Finally, the committee acknowledged it's looking into Rep. Wesley Hunt, though there's been no reporting as to what this investigation might concern. A spokesperson for Hunt told the Dallas Morning News that the congressman was cooperating with the committee and was "extremely confident that the matter will be dismissed shortly."

All three Republicans secured renomination two months ago, and all of them are defending reliably red seats this fall.

 UT-03: Sen. Mitt Romney has endorsed attorney Stewart Peay in the race for Utah's open 3rd District, where he's one of five candidates hoping to succeed Rep. John Curtis, who himself is running to replace Romney. Peay's wife, Misha, is a niece of Romney's wife, Ann.

Ballot Measures

 FL Ballot, FL-Sen: A new survey of Florida from a Republican pollster finds an amendment to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution passing despite strong numbers for Republican candidates at the top of the ticket.

The poll, conducted by Cherry Communications for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, shows Amendment 4 earning the support of 61% of voters while just 29% are opposed; to become law, it needs to win a 60% supermajority. A separate measure known as Amendment 3 that would legalize recreational marijuana is just short of the threshold at 58-37.

In the race for Senate, though, Republican incumbent Rick Scott holds a wide 54-39 lead over his likely Democratic opponent, former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, while Donald Trump is up 51-42 against Joe Biden.

 NV Ballot: The Nevada Supreme Court has upheld a February ruling by a lower court that blocked a pair of amendments that would establish a bipartisan redistricting commission from appearing on the ballot this fall. That earlier ruling disallowed the amendments because they would not raise the revenue needed to operate the commission they sought to create.

Obituaries

 Chris Cannon: Former Utah Rep. Chris Cannon, an ardent conservative who lost renomination to Jason Chaffetz in the 2008 Republican primary, died Wednesday at age 73.

Cannon served six terms in Congress and compiled a very conservative voting record, but he also supported a pathway to citizenship and government benefits for some undocumented immigrants. His decisive defeat foreshadowed the direction his party was heading in a full eight years before the ascendence of Donald Trump was complete.

Cannon first won his seat in 1996 by unseating Democratic Rep. Bill Orton 51-47 in the 3rd District, and he went on to serve as one of 13 House managers in the 1999 impeachment trial of Bill Clinton. However, while Cannon never had trouble turning back Democrats, his views infuriated the GOP's nativist base.

"We love immigrants in Utah. We don’t make distinctions between legal and illegal," he said in 2002—comments that would be unthinkable for a Republican now.

Cannon passed his first major test in the 2004 primary when he held off former state Rep. Matt Throckmorton 58-42. Two years later, his 56-44 triumph over developer John Jacob in the primary was viewed by national observers as a major win for George W. Bush's immigration goals. (Jacob infamously told the Salt Lake Tribune ahead of that race, "There's another force that wants to keep us from going to Washington, D.C. It's the devil is what it is.")

However, Cannon's victories proved misleading. Chaffetz, a former chief of staff to Gov. Jon Huntsman, made a nativist pitch similar to that of Cannon's prior opponents while arguing that the party as a whole had "lost its way." Chaffetz won in a 60-40 landslide that presaged years of turbulence and waning influence for the old GOP establishment.

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: Democrats launch first stage of plan to flip Wisconsin Senate

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

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

WI State Senate: The Wisconsin Democratic Party announced on Wednesday that it plans to spend a hefty $7 million on TV ads in five state Senate districts, a sum the Associated Press' Todd Richmond says represents "the biggest ad buy of its kind Democrats in the state have ever made in legislative races."

The offensive comes after the state approved new legislative maps to replace Republican gerrymanders that the state Supreme Court struck down late last year. Energized by the new districts, which much more closely reflect Wisconsin's swingy nature, Democrats are fielding candidates in every Senate seat on the ballot for the first time in more than two decades.

Reclaiming their first majority since 2012, however, will likely take two election cycles because only 16 of the upper chamber's 33 seats are up this year. But making gains this fall is critical for Democrats to have a shot at flipping the chamber in 2026, when the other half of the Senate will go before voters.

Republicans won a 22-11 advantage in 2022, a two-thirds supermajority that would allow them to remove impeached state officials—a power they've threatened to wield but have yet to do so. They also hold a lopsided edge in the Assembly, which has the power to start impeachment proceedings with just a simple majority, though they're just short of the two-thirds threshold in the lower chamber.

But the new maps, which Democratic Gov. Tony Evers signed in February after it was passed by the legislature, will make it all but impossible for the GOP to retain those skewed margins.

That's because Joe Biden would have carried 18 Senate districts under the new boundaries compared to 15 for Donald Trump, according to VEST data from Dave's Redistricting App. That's a stark difference from the old map, which gave Trump a 22-11 edge—figures that mirror the Republicans' current numbers there.

In total, six Democratic-held seats will be on the ballot in 2024 compared with 10 for Republicans. Four of those 10 GOP seats went for Biden, giving Democrats the chance to win them all. Every Democratic seat, by contrast, was also won by Biden.

The AP's Richmond reports Wisconsin Democrats are targeting these four Biden-Republican seats, as well as one swingy Democratic constituency that could be vulnerable, with ads set to begin after the state's Aug. 13 primaries. In each case, the president's margin was in single digits, so all will be competitive affairs.

The Democrats' best pickup target may be the 18th District, an open seat that stretches from Appleton south to Oshkosh and favored Biden 53-45. Republicans will choose between physician Anthony Phillips and businessman Blong Yang. The Democratic frontrunner, meanwhile, is Appleton Alderperson Kristin Alfheim. (Wisconsin's filing deadline isn't until June 3, so the roster of candidates in each of these races may not be set.)

The GOP also doesn't have an incumbent defending the 30th District in the Green Bay area, which backed Biden by a smaller 51-47 spread. Business consultant Jamie Wall announced in March that he'd seek the Democratic nod to take on Republican Sen. Eric Wimberger, but the incumbent later opted to relocate to the dark red 2nd District next door. The GOP doesn't lack a candidate here, though, as Allouez Village President Jim Rafter launched a bid soon after Wimberger switched races.

Two Republican senators, meanwhile, are seeking reelection in competitive constituencies. Sen. Joan Ballweg is defending the 14th District to the north of Madison against Democrat Sarah Keyeski, who works as a mental health counselor. Biden also prevailed 51-47 here.

GOP Sen. Duey Stroebel, meanwhile, is trying to hold the 8th District, a seat in Milwaukee's northern suburbs that went for Biden by just half a percentage point. Environmental attorney Jodi Habush Sinykin, who rose to prominence in a competitive special election last year, has the Democratic nod to herself.

Habush Sinykin campaigned in 2023 for the previous version of the 8th, which favored Trump 52-47, in a contest that took place following former GOP Sen. Alberta Darling's resignation. Habush Sinykin outperformed those presidential baselines but narrowly lost to state Rep. Dan Knodl by a 51-49 margin.

But while Knodl's victory returned the GOP to supermajority status, he didn't have long to enjoy his promotion. The new maps placed Knodl and Stroebel in the same Senate district, prompting Knodl to run for his old seat in the Assembly rather than oppose his new colleague. (Knodl will instead take on Rep. Janel Brandtjen, an election denier he beat in last year's special election primary.)

Meanwhile, the only vulnerable Democratic-held seat up this year belongs to Sen. Brad Pfaff, whose 32nd District around La Crosse favored Biden 52-46. Pfaff lost a close contest in 2022 for the 3rd Congressional District to Republican Derrick Van Orden, but he opted to seek reelection rather than try for a rematch.

Pfaff's only announced Republican opponent is Trempealeau County Board member Stacey Klein, who abandoned her hopeless campaign to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin last month to instead run for the legislature.

Should Democrats run the table by holding all their current seats and flipping the four Biden-Republican districts, the GOP would still hold a small 18-15 advantage overall. It's unlikely Democrats can hope for much more this year because the remaining six Republican seats all went for Trump by double-digit margins, though three more winnable Biden districts held by Republicans will be up in 2026.

These Senate races won't be the only closely watched legislative contests in the state, though, as Democrats are also working to flip the Assembly. And unlike in the Senate, Democrats have a chance to secure a majority this year: While the GOP holds an imposing 64-35 majority, all 99 representatives are up for new two-year terms. (Members of the assembly, somewhat confusingly, hold the title of representative rather than assemblymember or something similar.)

Trump carried 64 districts under the old boundaries, which, like the Senate, matches the number of constituencies his party holds. However, Trump took just 50 seats under the new map, which gives Democrats the chance to take their first majority since the 2010 red wave.

Senate

MD-Sen: Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin reports that EMILYs List has now spent a total of $2.5 million on ads to help Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks beat Rep. David Trone in Tuesday's Democratic primary. EMILYs previously reported spending $1.6 million on television and digital platforms in FEC documents filed May 3.

NV-Sen: A billionaire-backed super PAC supporting Army veteran Sam Brown is now running ads attacking former diplomat Jeff Gunter despite a poll last month that showed Brown with a monster lead in Nevada's June 11 GOP primary.

The new spot for Duty First Nevada, which is chiefly funded by software company mogul David Duffield, hammers Gunter, a dermatologist appointed by Donald Trump as ambassador to Iceland in 2018, as an "infomercial doctor" and "longtime California Democrat" who "cashed in telling seniors he could reverse their age."

The ad features clips of those late-night infomercials, in which Gunter hawked a purported wrinkle-removing "serum" under the auspices of an outfit he created called the "Youthology Research Institute."

The commercial goes on to claim Gunter has never voted in Nevada and didn't vote for Trump's reelection in 2020. The Daily Beast's Sam Brodey reported last year that Gunter registered to vote as a Democrat in 2000 in California, where he grew up and started his medical practice and that he last cast a ballot in the Golden State in 2018.

Brodey also wrote that there's no record of Gunter voting anywhere in 2020. The longtime Nevada property owner registered to vote in the Silver State the following year, but he does not appear to have returned the 2022 absentee ballot he requested. (Gunter made that request from California.)

Duty First Nevada has yet to file reports detailing its spending on this new ad campaign, but it previously spent $1.2 million to boost Brown's campaign. That the PAC feels it necessary to get involved to this degree is something of a surprise, though, as an early April survey for the NRSC, which is backing Brown, showed him with a 58-3 lead on Gunter.

House

MD-03: Retiring Sen. Ben Cardin expressed his support for state Sen. Sarah Elfreth's bid for the Democratic nomination in Maryland's open 3rd Congressional District, both appearing with her at a campaign event and telling the Baltimore Sun in a statement that "she is ready for the job." Cardin himself represented previous versions of the safely blue 3rd District for the 20 years preceding his successful Senate bid in 2006.

According to the Sun's Dana Munro, Cardin's team claims his involvement in the race for his old seat did not constitute "a formal endorsement," but of course, there's no such thing as a formal endorsement. And as we always note when politicians insist on playing games like this, actions speak far louder than words.

It's particularly unclear why Cardin would even want to hedge in this case, since he offered effusive praise for Elfreth, calling her "one of our great leaders" on climate change and saying she "knows how to get things accomplished." Regardless of what Cardin might call it, we call that an endorsement.

Elfreth is an apparent frontrunner in the massive 21-candidate primary that will take place next week, along with former Capitol police officer Harry Dunn. Dunn has raised more than $4.5 million for his campaign while Elfreth has benefited from almost $4.2 million in spending from the United Democracy Project, a super PAC affiliated with AIPAC.

But while UDP had previously stuck to airing positive ads for most of the campaign, it just deployed a new commercial that argues Dunn should be "ashamed of himself" for running negative spots against Elfreth. (Those Dunn ads went after the state senator for benefiting from spending from AIPAC, which his narrator characterized as a "right-wing SuperPAC funded by Trump donors.")

UDP's new spot doesn't say anything more about Dunn, though. Instead, it moves on to praise Elfreth as a loyal Democrat who is "as anti-Trump as they come." Another ad focuses entirely on reproductive rights and doesn't mention Dunn.

MD-06: Former Commerce Department official April McClain Delaney has released an internal poll from Garin-Hart-Yang that shows her leading Del. Joe Vogel 37-24 in Tuesday's Democratic primary, with 22% undecided and the balance split between the rest of the field. (A total of 16 names are listed on the ballot, though some candidates have dropped out.)

Delaney publicized her survey days after Vogel's allies at Equality PAC released a late April poll from Public Policy Polling that showed the two deadlocked 24-24 in the contest to replace Senate candidate David Trone, a fellow Democrat. We have not seen any other recent polls.

NH-02: Maggie Goodlander, a former official in the Biden administration who had reportedly been considering a bid for New Hampshire's open 2nd District, joined the September primary for the Democratic nomination on Thursday.

Goodlander, who was once an aide to the late Sens. Joe Lieberman and John McCain, has deep connections to the White House. The Boston Globe's James Pindell last month characterized her as part of an "elite circle of aides to President Biden," which includes her husband, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

Goodlander grew up in the 2nd District (her mother, Betty Tamposi, lost a close GOP primary for a previous version of the seat in 1988), and she touted her local roots in her kickoff. However, Pindell notes that she and Sullivan purchased a home in 2018 in Portsmouth, which is located in the 1st District. Goodlander says she recently signed a lease for a residence in her hometown of Nashua in the 2nd.

Goodlander is the third notable Democrat to enter the race, following state Sen. Becky Whitley and former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern, who has the endorsement of retiring Rep. Annie Kuster.

NJ-10: Hudson County Commission Jerry Walker has joined the July 16 Democratic primary for the special election to replace Rep. Donald Payne Jr., who died last month. Candidate filing for the race for this safely blue seat in the Newark area closes at 4 PM ET today.

SC-04: Rep. William Timmons is now airing negative ads against state Rep. Adam Morgan ahead of their June 11 Republican primary showdown for South Carolina's 4th District, a safely red constituency in the Greenville area. The narrator accuses Morgan of missing "over 400 votes" in the legislature before reminding viewers that Timmons has Donald Trump's endorsement.

Morgan, who chairs his chamber's far-right Freedom Caucus, received an endorsement this week from the eponymous congressional group. Republicans in Congress who resent the antics of the nihilistic caucus, though, got a new reason this week to dread what might happen if Morgan were to join the House.

The final days of South Carolina's legislative session were defined by a chaotic battle between Morgan's Freedom Caucus and the rest of the GOP-led state House. Morgan upset most of his fellow Republicans when he unsuccessfully attempted to bar state agencies from sending voter registration forms to non-citizens.

"These are stunts … circus antics, people," said one exasperated Republican, state Rep. Gil Gatch. Micah Caskey, another Republican lawmaker who is no fan of Morgan's crew, went even further by addressing the lower chamber while donning a tinfoil hat labeled "South Carolina Freedom Caucus."

Obituaries

Pete McCloskey: Former California Rep. Pete McCloskey, a liberal Republican who rose to national prominence in 1972 by challenging President Richard Nixon for renomination as an anti-Vietnam War candidate, died Wednesday at age 96. McCloskey, as Margaret O'Mara wrote in her book "The Code," also played a role in Silicon Valley's rise as a technological powerhouse.

McCloskey first made his mark in politics in 1967 by beating another well-known Republican, former child star Shirley Temple Black, 34-22 in the first round of an all-party special election for a House seat in the Bay Area. (McCloskey's surprise win was the basis of a 1968 nonfiction book, "The Sinking of the Lollipop.")

McCloskey easily won the general election and served in the House for many years. In 1982, however, he sought a promotion to the Senate but ended with a 38-25 loss in the primary to the eventual winner, San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson. You can find much more about McCloskey's eventful career, including a quixotic 2006 primary bid against a conservative congressman that helped Democrats flip the Bay Area's last GOP-held seat, in the San Jose Mercury News' obituary.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now? Federal prosecutors have re-indicted former Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry for lying to federal agents in connection with an effort to funnel $30,000 to Fortenberry's campaign via straw donors.

While Fortenberry was convicted by a jury in Los Angeles in 2022, a federal appeals court overturned his conviction late last year, saying prosecutors had tried him in the wrong jurisdiction.

The Department of Justice had brought charges against Fortenberry in Los Angeles, where the straw-donor scheme was originally put in motion by a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire. However, the false statements for which the jury convicted the then-congressman were made in Washington, D.C., and at his home in Lincoln, Nebraska. To resolve the problem, prosecutors have brought their renewed charges in D.C.

Fortenberry announced his resignation from Nebraska's conservative 1st District two days after his conviction in 2022. He was sentenced later that year to two years' probation, 320 hours of community service, and a $25,000 fine. In a statement responding to the new charges, an attorney for Fortenberry did not appear to address his client's culpability but rather accused the Justice Department of "overzealous prosecution."

Poll Pile

  • NC-Gov: Cygnal (R) for Carolina Journal: Josh Stein (D): 39, Mark Robinson (R): 39, Mike Ross (L): 4, Wayne Turner (G): 1 (43-38 Trump) (April: 40-38 Robinson)
  • NC Supreme Court: Cygnal (R) for Carolina Journal: Jefferson Griffin (R): 40, Allison Riggs (D-inc): 39

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: Democrats launch first stage of plan to flip Wisconsin Senate

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

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

WI State Senate: The Wisconsin Democratic Party announced on Wednesday that it plans to spend a hefty $7 million on TV ads in five state Senate districts, a sum the Associated Press' Todd Richmond says represents "the biggest ad buy of its kind Democrats in the state have ever made in legislative races."

The offensive comes after the state approved new legislative maps to replace Republican gerrymanders that the state Supreme Court struck down late last year. Energized by the new districts, which much more closely reflect Wisconsin's swingy nature, Democrats are fielding candidates in every Senate seat on the ballot for the first time in more than two decades.

Reclaiming their first majority since 2012, however, will likely take two election cycles because only 16 of the upper chamber's 33 seats are up this year. But making gains this fall is critical for Democrats to have a shot at flipping the chamber in 2026, when the other half of the Senate will go before voters.

Republicans won a 22-11 advantage in 2022, a two-thirds supermajority that would allow them to remove impeached state officials—a power they've threatened to wield but have yet to do so. They also hold a lopsided edge in the Assembly, which has the power to start impeachment proceedings with just a simple majority, though they're just short of the two-thirds threshold in the lower chamber.

But the new maps, which Democratic Gov. Tony Evers signed in February after it was passed by the legislature, will make it all but impossible for the GOP to retain those skewed margins.

That's because Joe Biden would have carried 18 Senate districts under the new boundaries compared to 15 for Donald Trump, according to VEST data from Dave's Redistricting App. That's a stark difference from the old map, which gave Trump a 22-11 edge—figures that mirror the Republicans' current numbers there.

In total, six Democratic-held seats will be on the ballot in 2024 compared with 10 for Republicans. Four of those 10 GOP seats went for Biden, giving Democrats the chance to win them all. Every Democratic seat, by contrast, was also won by Biden.

The AP's Richmond reports Wisconsin Democrats are targeting these four Biden-Republican seats, as well as one swingy Democratic constituency that could be vulnerable, with ads set to begin after the state's Aug. 13 primaries. In each case, the president's margin was in single digits, so all will be competitive affairs.

The Democrats' best pickup target may be the 18th District, an open seat that stretches from Appleton south to Oshkosh and favored Biden 53-45. Republicans will choose between physician Anthony Phillips and businessman Blong Yang. The Democratic frontrunner, meanwhile, is Appleton Alderperson Kristin Alfheim. (Wisconsin's filing deadline isn't until June 3, so the roster of candidates in each of these races may not be set.)

The GOP also doesn't have an incumbent defending the 30th District in the Green Bay area, which backed Biden by a smaller 51-47 spread. Business consultant Jamie Wall announced in March that he'd seek the Democratic nod to take on Republican Sen. Eric Wimberger, but the incumbent later opted to relocate to the dark red 2nd District next door. The GOP doesn't lack a candidate here, though, as Allouez Village President Jim Rafter launched a bid soon after Wimberger switched races.

Two Republican senators, meanwhile, are seeking reelection in competitive constituencies. Sen. Joan Ballweg is defending the 14th District to the north of Madison against Democrat Sarah Keyeski, who works as a mental health counselor. Biden also prevailed 51-47 here.

GOP Sen. Duey Stroebel, meanwhile, is trying to hold the 8th District, a seat in Milwaukee's northern suburbs that went for Biden by just half a percentage point. Environmental attorney Jodi Habush Sinykin, who rose to prominence in a competitive special election last year, has the Democratic nod to herself.

Habush Sinykin campaigned in 2023 for the previous version of the 8th, which favored Trump 52-47, in a contest that took place following former GOP Sen. Alberta Darling's resignation. Habush Sinykin outperformed those presidential baselines but narrowly lost to state Rep. Dan Knodl by a 51-49 margin.

But while Knodl's victory returned the GOP to supermajority status, he didn't have long to enjoy his promotion. The new maps placed Knodl and Stroebel in the same Senate district, prompting Knodl to run for his old seat in the Assembly rather than oppose his new colleague. (Knodl will instead take on Rep. Janel Brandtjen, an election denier he beat in last year's special election primary.)

Meanwhile, the only vulnerable Democratic-held seat up this year belongs to Sen. Brad Pfaff, whose 32nd District around La Crosse favored Biden 52-46. Pfaff lost a close contest in 2022 for the 3rd Congressional District to Republican Derrick Van Orden, but he opted to seek reelection rather than try for a rematch.

Pfaff's only announced Republican opponent is Trempealeau County Board member Stacey Klein, who abandoned her hopeless campaign to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin last month to instead run for the legislature.

Should Democrats run the table by holding all their current seats and flipping the four Biden-Republican districts, the GOP would still hold a small 18-15 advantage overall. It's unlikely Democrats can hope for much more this year because the remaining six Republican seats all went for Trump by double-digit margins, though three more winnable Biden districts held by Republicans will be up in 2026.

These Senate races won't be the only closely watched legislative contests in the state, though, as Democrats are also working to flip the Assembly. And unlike in the Senate, Democrats have a chance to secure a majority this year: While the GOP holds an imposing 64-35 majority, all 99 representatives are up for new two-year terms. (Members of the assembly, somewhat confusingly, hold the title of representative rather than assemblymember or something similar.)

Trump carried 64 districts under the old boundaries, which, like the Senate, matches the number of constituencies his party holds. However, Trump took just 50 seats under the new map, which gives Democrats the chance to take their first majority since the 2010 red wave.

Senate

MD-Sen: Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin reports that EMILYs List has now spent a total of $2.5 million on ads to help Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks beat Rep. David Trone in Tuesday's Democratic primary. EMILYs previously reported spending $1.6 million on television and digital platforms in FEC documents filed May 3.

NV-Sen: A billionaire-backed super PAC supporting Army veteran Sam Brown is now running ads attacking former diplomat Jeff Gunter despite a poll last month that showed Brown with a monster lead in Nevada's June 11 GOP primary.

The new spot for Duty First Nevada, which is chiefly funded by software company mogul David Duffield, hammers Gunter, a dermatologist appointed by Donald Trump as ambassador to Iceland in 2018, as an "infomercial doctor" and "longtime California Democrat" who "cashed in telling seniors he could reverse their age."

The ad features clips of those late-night infomercials, in which Gunter hawked a purported wrinkle-removing "serum" under the auspices of an outfit he created called the "Youthology Research Institute."

The commercial goes on to claim Gunter has never voted in Nevada and didn't vote for Trump's reelection in 2020. The Daily Beast's Sam Brodey reported last year that Gunter registered to vote as a Democrat in 2000 in California, where he grew up and started his medical practice and that he last cast a ballot in the Golden State in 2018.

Brodey also wrote that there's no record of Gunter voting anywhere in 2020. The longtime Nevada property owner registered to vote in the Silver State the following year, but he does not appear to have returned the 2022 absentee ballot he requested. (Gunter made that request from California.)

Duty First Nevada has yet to file reports detailing its spending on this new ad campaign, but it previously spent $1.2 million to boost Brown's campaign. That the PAC feels it necessary to get involved to this degree is something of a surprise, though, as an early April survey for the NRSC, which is backing Brown, showed him with a 58-3 lead on Gunter.

House

MD-03: Retiring Sen. Ben Cardin expressed his support for state Sen. Sarah Elfreth's bid for the Democratic nomination in Maryland's open 3rd Congressional District, both appearing with her at a campaign event and telling the Baltimore Sun in a statement that "she is ready for the job." Cardin himself represented previous versions of the safely blue 3rd District for the 20 years preceding his successful Senate bid in 2006.

According to the Sun's Dana Munro, Cardin's team claims his involvement in the race for his old seat did not constitute "a formal endorsement," but of course, there's no such thing as a formal endorsement. And as we always note when politicians insist on playing games like this, actions speak far louder than words.

It's particularly unclear why Cardin would even want to hedge in this case, since he offered effusive praise for Elfreth, calling her "one of our great leaders" on climate change and saying she "knows how to get things accomplished." Regardless of what Cardin might call it, we call that an endorsement.

Elfreth is an apparent frontrunner in the massive 21-candidate primary that will take place next week, along with former Capitol police officer Harry Dunn. Dunn has raised more than $4.5 million for his campaign while Elfreth has benefited from almost $4.2 million in spending from the United Democracy Project, a super PAC affiliated with AIPAC.

But while UDP had previously stuck to airing positive ads for most of the campaign, it just deployed a new commercial that argues Dunn should be "ashamed of himself" for running negative spots against Elfreth. (Those Dunn ads went after the state senator for benefiting from spending from AIPAC, which his narrator characterized as a "right-wing SuperPAC funded by Trump donors.")

UDP's new spot doesn't say anything more about Dunn, though. Instead, it moves on to praise Elfreth as a loyal Democrat who is "as anti-Trump as they come." Another ad focuses entirely on reproductive rights and doesn't mention Dunn.

MD-06: Former Commerce Department official April McClain Delaney has released an internal poll from Garin-Hart-Yang that shows her leading Del. Joe Vogel 37-24 in Tuesday's Democratic primary, with 22% undecided and the balance split between the rest of the field. (A total of 16 names are listed on the ballot, though some candidates have dropped out.)

Delaney publicized her survey days after Vogel's allies at Equality PAC released a late April poll from Public Policy Polling that showed the two deadlocked 24-24 in the contest to replace Senate candidate David Trone, a fellow Democrat. We have not seen any other recent polls.

NH-02: Maggie Goodlander, a former official in the Biden administration who had reportedly been considering a bid for New Hampshire's open 2nd District, joined the September primary for the Democratic nomination on Thursday.

Goodlander, who was once an aide to the late Sens. Joe Lieberman and John McCain, has deep connections to the White House. The Boston Globe's James Pindell last month characterized her as part of an "elite circle of aides to President Biden," which includes her husband, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

Goodlander grew up in the 2nd District (her mother, Betty Tamposi, lost a close GOP primary for a previous version of the seat in 1988), and she touted her local roots in her kickoff. However, Pindell notes that she and Sullivan purchased a home in 2018 in Portsmouth, which is located in the 1st District. Goodlander says she recently signed a lease for a residence in her hometown of Nashua in the 2nd.

Goodlander is the third notable Democrat to enter the race, following state Sen. Becky Whitley and former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern, who has the endorsement of retiring Rep. Annie Kuster.

NJ-10: Hudson County Commission Jerry Walker has joined the July 16 Democratic primary for the special election to replace Rep. Donald Payne Jr., who died last month. Candidate filing for the race for this safely blue seat in the Newark area closes at 4 PM ET today.

SC-04: Rep. William Timmons is now airing negative ads against state Rep. Adam Morgan ahead of their June 11 Republican primary showdown for South Carolina's 4th District, a safely red constituency in the Greenville area. The narrator accuses Morgan of missing "over 400 votes" in the legislature before reminding viewers that Timmons has Donald Trump's endorsement.

Morgan, who chairs his chamber's far-right Freedom Caucus, received an endorsement this week from the eponymous congressional group. Republicans in Congress who resent the antics of the nihilistic caucus, though, got a new reason this week to dread what might happen if Morgan were to join the House.

The final days of South Carolina's legislative session were defined by a chaotic battle between Morgan's Freedom Caucus and the rest of the GOP-led state House. Morgan upset most of his fellow Republicans when he unsuccessfully attempted to bar state agencies from sending voter registration forms to non-citizens.

"These are stunts … circus antics, people," said one exasperated Republican, state Rep. Gil Gatch. Micah Caskey, another Republican lawmaker who is no fan of Morgan's crew, went even further by addressing the lower chamber while donning a tinfoil hat labeled "South Carolina Freedom Caucus."

Obituaries

Pete McCloskey: Former California Rep. Pete McCloskey, a liberal Republican who rose to national prominence in 1972 by challenging President Richard Nixon for renomination as an anti-Vietnam War candidate, died Wednesday at age 96. McCloskey, as Margaret O'Mara wrote in her book "The Code," also played a role in Silicon Valley's rise as a technological powerhouse.

McCloskey first made his mark in politics in 1967 by beating another well-known Republican, former child star Shirley Temple Black, 34-22 in the first round of an all-party special election for a House seat in the Bay Area. (McCloskey's surprise win was the basis of a 1968 nonfiction book, "The Sinking of the Lollipop.")

McCloskey easily won the general election and served in the House for many years. In 1982, however, he sought a promotion to the Senate but ended with a 38-25 loss in the primary to the eventual winner, San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson. You can find much more about McCloskey's eventful career, including a quixotic 2006 primary bid against a conservative congressman that helped Democrats flip the Bay Area's last GOP-held seat, in the San Jose Mercury News' obituary.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now? Federal prosecutors have re-indicted former Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry for lying to federal agents in connection with an effort to funnel $30,000 to Fortenberry's campaign via straw donors.

While Fortenberry was convicted by a jury in Los Angeles in 2022, a federal appeals court overturned his conviction late last year, saying prosecutors had tried him in the wrong jurisdiction.

The Department of Justice had brought charges against Fortenberry in Los Angeles, where the straw-donor scheme was originally put in motion by a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire. However, the false statements for which the jury convicted the then-congressman were made in Washington, D.C., and at his home in Lincoln, Nebraska. To resolve the problem, prosecutors have brought their renewed charges in D.C.

Fortenberry announced his resignation from Nebraska's conservative 1st District two days after his conviction in 2022. He was sentenced later that year to two years' probation, 320 hours of community service, and a $25,000 fine. In a statement responding to the new charges, an attorney for Fortenberry did not appear to address his client's culpability but rather accused the Justice Department of "overzealous prosecution."

Poll Pile

  • NC-Gov: Cygnal (R) for Carolina Journal: Josh Stein (D): 39, Mark Robinson (R): 39, Mike Ross (L): 4, Wayne Turner (G): 1 (43-38 Trump) (April: 40-38 Robinson)
  • NC Supreme Court: Cygnal (R) for Carolina Journal: Jefferson Griffin (R): 40, Allison Riggs (D-inc): 39

Ad Roundup

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

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

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Governors

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

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

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

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

House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Attorneys General

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

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

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

Poll Pile

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

Ad Roundup

Campaign Action

Morning Digest: A Georgia justice could be the first to lose in over a century

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

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Leading Off

GA Supreme Court: If former Democratic Rep. John Barrow wins his bid for the Georgia Supreme Court later this month, he'll accomplish something no one in the state has managed in over 100 years: unseating an incumbent justice.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, such an event hasn't happened since Richard Russell Sr. beat Chief Justice William Fish back in 1922. (Russell was the father and namesake of the segregationist Sen. Richard Russell, who, as Robert Caro detailed in "Master of the Senate," was a key mentor to Lyndon Johnson.)

Not many justices, though, have ever even been in danger of losing, since it's rare for sitting Georgia judges to face any opponents at all. The AJC noted last month that conservative Justice Andrew Pinson was the only one of four Supreme Court justices and six Court of Appeals judges up this year who drew a challenger, while just five of 122 trial court judges across the state have any sort of opposition.

And most justices haven't even needed to win an election to earn a spot on the high court in the first place. Instead, the vast majority have been appointed to fill vacancies, making open-seat races as uncommon as contested elections.

Sometimes elections don't even happen at all, as Barrow found out the hard way not long ago. That's because justices can time their departure to make sure their successor doesn't even need to appear on the ballot for several years.

Barrow had launched a campaign in 2019 to succeed retiring Justice Robert Benham, who was the last Democratic appointee on the Supreme Court. That election was scheduled to take place the following year, but it was called off after Benham decided to resign rather than serve out his term, thanks to a Georgia law that allows newly appointed judges to spend at least six months on the bench before they have to face the voters.

But Barrow now has the chance to score a historic victory against Pinson on May 21, which is the same day that the Peach State will holds its primaries for other offices. No other candidates are running in this officially nonpartisan race, so this contest will be settled without a November runoff.

While Barrow was one of the more conservative Democrats during his time in the House, which ended following his loss Republican Rick Allen during the 2014 GOP wave, he's focused his comeback bid on his opposition to the state's six-week abortion ban.

"It’s the most important decision the Supreme Court of Georgia is going to make in the next 20 years," he told local Democrats of the ongoing legal challenges to the law. "Politicians shouldn’t be making your personal health care decisions."

Pinson, for his part, has argued he can't talk about issues like abortion that could come before the court. He notably declined to attend a recent debate by arguing his appearance could breach state judicial codes, an argument his opponent was not impressed with.

"The only thing worse than his record is that he’s too chicken to come here and stick up for himself," Barrow said at the event, which proceeded despite Pinson's absence.

A win for Barrow wouldn't change the ideological majority of the nine-person court, as Pinson and almost every other member were appointed by Republican governors. (The one exception is Justice John Ellington, who won a six-year term at the ballot box in 2018 with support from figures in both parties.) Should Barrow prevail, though, it would be another strong sign that Georgia's shift to the left during the last few years isn't over.

Senate

MD-Sen: Rep. David Trone has removed a put-down charging that the Senate "is not a place for training wheels" from a new negative ad attacking his opponent in the May 14 Democratic primary, Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, per a new report from Axios' Stephen Neukam.

Neukam notes that the edit came after more than 650 Black women signed a letter charging that the remark, which was uttered by Prince George's County Council member Edward Burroughs, was "not only disparaging and dismissive but also echoes tones of misogyny and racism." Trone, who is white, used the phrase himself in an NBC interview that aired earlier this week.

Trone's campaign claims the change to his commercial was made because his editors "chose to make a number of additional edits" after coming across other clips they found "compelling," according to Neukam.

MI-Sen: Wealthy businessman Sandy Pensler is returning to the airwaves and reportedly plans to continue advertising on TV through the Aug. 6 Republican primary. The Detroit News relays an AdImpact analysis finding that Pensler has spent at least $655,000 so far and reserved nearly $1 million more over the next three weeks.

Pensler's latest ad targets Rep. Elissa Slotkin, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, by trying to associate her with Squad member and fellow Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib. However, a senior adviser said Pensler also plans to "spend a serious amount" on commercials introducing himself and attacking former Rep. Mike Rogers, who is the favorite of national and state Republicans.

Pensler has raised almost nothing from donors but self-funded at least $3 million so far this cycle, much as he's used his personal wealth to fund prior campaigns for office. His latest financial disclosure forms indicated a net worth of anywhere from $80 million to $116 million, so there may be many more campaign ads to come.

House

CA-16: Former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has publicized an early April internal from Lake Research Partners that shows him leading Assemblyman Evan Low 36-26 in the all-Democratic general election.

Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin notes that another question from this poll surfaced weeks ago when it looked as though there would be a three-way contest. That configuration saw Liccardo with a smaller 26-21 advantage over Low as another Democrat, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, took 20%.

A former Liccardo staffer named Jonathan Padilla, unexpectedly requested a recount shortly after that survey was concluded, and it ultimately resulted in Simitian failing to advance.

IN-03: The hardline Club for Growth is airing a commercial targeting former Judge Wendy Davis ahead of Tuesday's GOP primary that she argues violates a new Indiana law by "dub[bing] together words and unrelated statements … to form a sentence that fits their absurd claims."

The audience hears Davis ostensibly saying, "In our government, we lack diversity of ethnicity, diversity of different religions. We don't have enough inclusion that I believe the constitution, still a living and breathing and living document, requires." Davis' campaign quickly responded by declaring that what appears to be a single statement was "spliced" together from an hour-long event, and that she was trying to get the spot taken off the air.

Davis also cited a bill GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb signed in March that requires a continuous disclaimer to be on screen during ads that are altered in a way that "conveys a materially inaccurate depiction of the individual’s speech, appearance, or conduct as recorded in the unaltered recording."

Davis is one of eight Republicans competing in the expensive primary to succeed Rep. Jim Banks, who is unopposed for the GOP's Senate nod, in the 3rd District, a longtime conservative stronghold in the Fort Wayne area. Her main intra-party rivals appear to be former Rep. Marlin Stutzman, who is Banks' immediate predecessor; wealthy businessman Tim Smith; and state Sen. Andy Zay.

The Club has spent about $510,000 on messaging against Davis and Smith. While the group has not endorsed anyone, it was close to Stutzman during his previous stint in Congress—though not close enough to rescue his ailing Senate campaign ahead of his landslide 2016 primary loss to fellow Rep. Todd Young.

However, the Club has been far outspent by two super PACs that do not want to see Stutzman back in the lower chamber. One of them, America Leads Action, is working to defeat hardline candidates who could pose a headache for the House leadership and has deployed $1.6 million to thwart his comeback.

Stutzman demonstrated during the 2010s he was exactly the type of Republican congressman that ALA doesn't want more of. Among other things, he infamously said during the 2013 government shutdown, "We're not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don't know what that even is."

A different group, Winning for Women, has spent another $1.1 million to promote Davis, who is the only woman in the race, and attack Stutzman.

The former congressman, though, has benefited from close to $700,000 in support from an array of groups tied to the House Freedom Caucus and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Zay, meanwhile, has mostly gone ignored, except for $100,000 that a super PAC called Honest Hoosiers has expended on his behalf.

MI-08: VoteVets has endorsed businessman Matt Collier, a former Flint mayor who served in the Army, in the Aug. 6 Democratic primary for this competitive open seat.

MI-13: Freshman Rep. Shri Thanedar's campaign announced Tuesday it was challenging the signatures of former state Sen. Adam Hollier, who is his main opponent in the August Democratic primary, because it believes he failed to turn in the requisite 1,000 valid signatures. Among other things, Thanedar's team alleges that 85 of Hollier's signatures were forged.

The Detroit Free Press columnist Nancy Kaffer writes, "[I]t's hard to look at the signatures on nine of 10 petition pages provided to the Free Press by Thanedar and not conclude that they'd been written by the same person; that they're forgeries, and not very good ones, at that."

Kaffer also says that she noticed that one of those signatures ostensibly belonged to a Free Press colleague, Tresa Baldas, who responded, "That's not my signature." All of these questionable pages came from a single circulator named Londell Thomas, who did not respond to the paper's inquiry. Thanedar's team is asking election officials to throw out all petition pages from Thomas even if individual signatures aren't suspect on the basis that Thomas is a "Fradulent canvasser."

Hollier's team responded to questions about why Baldas' name was there by telling Kaffer, "Some issues have been brought to our attention related to a small number of the nomination signatures that were collected on behalf of our campaign." The campaign went on to express confidence that a "significant number of the challenges filed against our signatures are erroneous."

It's up to the elections commission in Wayne County, which makes up the entire 13th District, to decide on the validity of the challenged signatures, though its decision can be appealed to the Wayne County Circuit Court. Kaffer says the whole process may not be settled until early next month.

Forged signatures have ended the campaigns of several Michigan politicians. Republican Rep. Thad McCotter famously was thrown off the ballot in 2012 after his campaign handed in fraudulent signatures.

A decade later, five GOP candidates for governor, including nominal frontrunner James Craig, were similarly disqualified after they fell victim to a massive fraud scandal. McCotter remarked to Local 4 in response, "In the immortal words of Bill Clinton, ‘I feel your pain.'"

NC-13: Wealthy attorney Kelly Daughtry announced on Thursday that she was dropping out of the May 14 Republican primary runoff and endorsing her opponent, former federal prosecutor Brad Knott.

Before quitting the race, Daughtry had spent millions of her own money on her campaign, just as she did in her unsuccessful 2022 bid for the previous version of this seat. She took first place in the March primary with a 27-19 lead over Knott, but that was short of the 30% needed to avoid a runoff.

Daughtry released an internal poll giving her a 51-32 edge in early April, but Donald Trump endorsed Knott just days later, and Daughtry said upon her departure that Trump's involvement had foreclosed her path to victory.

Daughtry's exit virtually assures that Knott will win this seat and succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Wiley Nickel thanks to the GOP's new gerrymander. That new map transformed Nickel's swingy seat in Raleigh and its southern suburbs into a solidly red district comprised of exurbs and rural areas outside of Raleigh.

Although Knott is a first-time candidate, he has extensive connections to state Republicans. His brother, Tucker Knott, is chief of staff for Sen. Ted Budd, who endorsed the candidate after the first round of voting, and the Knott family also funded a super PAC that spent heavily on his behalf.

Daughtry is the second North Carolina Republican to bail on a House runoff this year. In March, former Rep. Mark Walker abandoned his bid for the open 6th District after Trump promised him a job on his presidential campaign, putting his Trump-endorsed opponent, lobbyist Addison McDowell, on a glide path to victory in another newly gerrymandered district.

NJ-08: A super PAC called America's Promise is spending $100,000 on a TV ad opposing Rep. Rob Menendez in the June 11 Democratic primary by linking him to his father, Sen. Bob Menendez, who will go on trial for corruption charges starting May 13. The younger Menendez has not been implicated in any of his father's alleged crimes, but the ad attacks him for defending his father, refusing to return campaign donations from the senator's PAC, and accepting contributions from corporate interests.

NV-03: Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo has endorsed wealthy music composer Marty O'Donnell for the GOP nomination to take on Democratic Rep. Susie Lee. As the Nevada Independent noted when O'Donnell joined the race two months ago, the first-time candidate is using some of the same consultants who helped Lombardo get elected governor in 2022.

O'Donnell faces a GOP field that includes former state Treasurer Dan Schwartz, former state Sen. Elizabeth Hegelian, and conservative columnist Drew Johnson, but Schwartz has a weak electoral history while the other two Republicans have struggled to raise money. Establishment Republicans began looking for a viable candidate after Assemblywoman Heidi Kasama dropped out in January to seek reelection, so Lombardo's endorsement is a sign that O'Donnell may now be their man.

VA-05: Bloomberg reports that American Patriots PAC has booked a hefty $3 million to help state Sen. John McGuire deny renomination to Rep. Bob Good, the Freedom Caucus chair who was one of the eight House Republicans who voted to end Kevin McCarthy's speakership last year. Good also infuriated Donald Trump's network last year by endorsing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' White House bid, but Trump himself has not yet taken sides.

The reservation from American Patriots PAC, which is funded by Republican megadonors Ken Griffin and Paul Singer, represents by far the largest planned expenditure in what's already an expensive June 18 primary for Virginia's 5th Congressional District. This constituency, which stretches from the Charlottesville area to western Southside Virginia, backed Trump 53-45, so the GOP nominee will be favored in November.

A new super PAC called Virginians for Freedom has already deployed almost $500,000 to make sure that McGuire is that nominee. The group has received funding from the American Prosperity Alliance, which is run by McCarthy allies looking to punish the Republicans who deposed him.

On top of that, the Republican Main Street Partnership, an organization devoted to stopping Republicans who like to cause grief for party leaders, previously told the New York Times it planned to spend $500,000 to end Good's career, though the FEC doesn't yet record any independent expenditures from the PAC.

While Main Street Partnership for decades had a reputation for supporting moderate Republicans, it's shown a willingness in recent years to back election deniers like McGuire, who attended the Jan. 6 Donald Trump rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol.

But Good, who himself is an ardent Big Lie believer, still has some well-heeled allies. Protect Freedom PAC, which is affiliated with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, has spent close to $500,000 on messaging promoting the incumbent as "the true constitutional conservative." Yet even though Good runs the Freedom Caucus, its political arm has laid out less than $100,000 to protect its chief. The organization has a history of spending large sums in races it cares about, though, and there's still time to pour in more resources.

Perhaps the biggest question still looming over the race, however, is whether the GOP's supreme leader will eventually get involved and punish Good for his disloyalty. Trump campaign manager Chris LaCivita previewed trouble to come back in January when he told Cardinal News, "Bob Good won’t be electable when we get done with him."

Over the ensuing months, Trump has targeted two other disloyal House members, Florida Rep. Laurel Lee and Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse, but he hasn't gone after Good—yet. Many of Good's GOP colleagues, however, would be quite happy if Trump eventually took out his wrath on this apostate.

Six sitting House members, including Virginia Rep. Jen Kiggans and House Armed Services Chair Mike Rogers of Alabama, hosted a fundraiser for McGuire in March. Texas Rep. Tony Gonzales, meanwhile, made his hatred of Good known to a national audience last month when he went on CNN and took the Freedom Caucus chair to task for endorsing gun maker Brandon Herrera, who is Gonzales' opponent in the May 28 GOP runoff.

"Bob Good endorsed my opponent, a known neo-Nazi," the Texan declared, adding, "These people used to walk around with white hoods at night; now they’re walking around with white hoods in the daytime." (Herrera, who has made jokes about Nazis and the Holocaust, tweeted Sunday, "This should be obvious, but I am not, nor have I never been a neo-Nazi.")

Good, meanwhile, made news last month when he endorsed former West Virginia Del. Derrick Evans, who served 90 days in prison for his participation in the Jan. 6 riot, in his May 14 GOP primary challenge to Rep. Carol Miller. That move came after House Speaker Mike Johnson told CNN he was "vehemently opposed to member-on-member action in primaries," an admonition his caucus seems to have completely ignored.

Ballot Measures

SD Ballot: Abortion rights advocates in South Dakota announced Wednesday they'd submitted about 55,000 signatures to put a constitutional amendment before voters that would end the state's near-total ban on abortion, which is about 20,000 more than the minimum. Election officials have until Aug. 13 to verify that organizers submitted at least 35,017 valid signatures to place this amendment on the Nov. 5 ballot, where it would need a simple majority to pass.

The proposal would specifically bar the state from imposing regulations on abortion access during the first trimester of pregnancy. It also establishes that during the second trimester, "the State may regulate the pregnant woman's abortion decision and its effectuation only in ways that are reasonably related to the physical health of the pregnant woman." For the final trimester, the state would be permitted to retain the status quo.

Several pro-choice groups have taken issue with what they've argued is a weak amendment. The state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union put out a statement claiming the proposal "does not have the strongest legal standard by which a court must evaluate restrictions on abortion, and thereby runs the risk of establishing a right to abortion in name only." The regional Planned Parenthood affiliate has likewise declined to endorse the campaign.

Judges

LA Redistricting: Republican Gov. Jeff Landry has signed a bipartisan bill that revamps Louisiana's Supreme Court districts to create a second majority-Black district, the first redraw since earlier litigation prompted lawmakers to pass the current map in 1997. Louisiana is roughly one-third Black, but only one of the current seven districts, the New Orleans-based 7th, enables Black voters to elect their preferred candidate.

The new map creates a 2nd District that unites Baton Rouge with parishes along the Mississippi border and parts of central Louisiana. It replaces a majority-white and solidly Republican seat with a 55% Black district that would have favored Joe Biden 60-39 in 2020, according to VEST data from Dave's Redistricting App. Republican Justice Scott Crichton, who is white, isn't seeking reelection, and a Black Democrat will likely win this fall's contest to succeed him.

Landry and his fellow Republicans supported the new map to bring costly litigation to an end, an approach similar to the one they took when they redrew the state's congressional map earlier this year. However, a federal court overturned that map earlier this week for relying excessively on race. The new Supreme Court map could likewise be vulnerable to a lawsuit given the similarities of some districts, though an alternative map with a pair of more compact majority-Black districts is possible.

Mayors & County Leaders

Baltimore, MD Mayor: Former federal prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah announced Wednesday that he was dropping out of the May 14 Democratic primary and endorsing former Mayor Sheila Dixon.

Vignarajah, whose name will remain on the ballot, took a distant third place in a pair of independent surveys conducted in April, but his departure could help Dixon consolidate support against incumbent Brandon Scott. It only takes a simple plurality to win the Democratic nomination, which is tantamount to election in this loyally blue city, and a large number of lesser-known candidates remain in the race.

Other Races

Miami-Dade, FL Elections Supervisor: Donald Trump on Tuesday night endorsed Republican state Rep. Alina Garcia, who is campaigning to be the top elections administrator for Florida's most populous county. But when asked about Trump's many election lies the follow day, Garcia declined to push back.

"In reference to the 2020 elections, I can only speak to how the elections were conducted in Florida and in Miami-Dade County, which were fair, transparent and the results reported timely," she told the Miami Herald's Douglas Hanks. Garcia previously told the paper that, while she believed most elections were "fair," many "don’t always feel that they’re fair, and perception is very important."

Garcia, who already had Sen. Marco Rubio's backing, faces attorney Megan Pearl in the Aug. 20 GOP primary, while attorney J.C. Planas has the Democratic side to himself. The field may not be set, though, because the deadline to run for county office in Florida doesn't pass until June 14. (Last Friday was the deadline to run for Congress and most other offices.)

The job this trio is seeking is currently held by an appointed incumbent, Christina White, a Democrat who unexpectedly announced last year that she would not run for a full term.

In 2018, Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment that requires every county to elect rather than appoint certain officers, including election supervisors, and 2024 is the first time that Miami-Dade County voters will pick their elections chief. (The post was previously filled by the county mayor.)

Last week, Trump also took sides in the primary for sheriff by backing Rosie Cordero-Stutz, an official with the Miami-Dade Police Department. Hanks earlier this week reported that Trump decided to support Cordero-Stutz after an April 7 meeting at his Doral compound during a golf tournament.

Trump also reportedly also told another local politician in attendance that she could call on him if she wanted his endorsement. But Doral City Council member Maureen Porras demurred, and not just because she's a Democrat.

"I said, ‘Well, thank you very much, but I’m not up for election,'" she recounted to Hanks. Porras is up again in 2026.

VA-LG: Democratic state Sen. Ghazala Hashmi announced Thursday that she would seek the post held by Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears, a Republican whom local political observers anticipate will run for governor next year rather than seek reelection.

Hashmi, who immigrated from India as a child, won her current office in 2019 by unseating Republican state Sen. Glen Sturtevant 54-46 in a closely watched race in the Richmond area. That victory, which helped Democrats retake the state Senate, made Hashmi the first Muslim to serve in the upper chamber, as well as the first Muslim woman in the entire legislature.

Following the most recent round of redistricting, Hashmi's district was made safer, and she easily earned reelection last year as Sturtevant returned in a different seat. Because the entire 40-member state Senate won't be up against until 2027, Hashmi won't need to give up her current job in order to run next year.

Hashmi joins a primary that includes Prince William County School Board Chairman Babur Lateef, fellow state Sen. Aaron Rouse, and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney. The lieutenant governor serves as the tiebreaker in the state Senate, where Hashmi and Rouse are part of a narrow 21-19 Democratic majority.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Governors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Governors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judges

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

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

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

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

Ballot Measures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poll Pile

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

Ad Roundup

Campaign Action

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

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

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Downballot

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

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

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

1Q Fundraising

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

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

Senate

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

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

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

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

Governors

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

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

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

House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mayors & County Leaders

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

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

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

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

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

Obituaries

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

Poll Pile

Ad Roundup

Campaign Action

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

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

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Election Recaps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Governors

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

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

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

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

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

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

House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prosecutors & Sheriffs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poll Pile

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

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