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.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

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: Why two conservative Arizona justices could lose this fall

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

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

 AZ Supreme Court: Arizona voters will likely have the chance to overturn their state Supreme Court's new ruling banning nearly all abortions when they head to the polls this fall, but they'll also have the opportunity to reshape the court itself.

As Bolt's Daniel Nichanian points out, two of the justices who voted with the majority will be up for election to new six-year terms in November, Clint Bolick and Kathryn Hackett King. They won't have actual opponents, though, but rather will face what are known as "retention" elections. Under this system, which is used for members of the judiciary in many states, voters are presented with a simple "yes/no" question asking whether a particular judge should "be retained in office."

It's rare for judges to lose retention elections, but it's also rare for a state supreme court to thrust itself into the national limelight the way that Arizona's just did. And abortion will be a top—if not the top—issue this year in Arizona, particularly because reproductive rights supporters say they've already collected enough signatures to place a measure on the November ballot that would enshrine the right to an abortion into the state constitution.

Should Bolick or Hackett King lose, Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs would be able to appoint replacements, drawn from a list created by the state's Commission on Appellate Court Appointments. But while that commission is, under the state constitution, supposed to be politically diverse, Hobbs' Republican predecessor, Doug Ducey, stacked the board with nominal independents who have ties to the GOP.

Hobbs could reshape the commission with her own appointments, which implicates yet another set of important Arizona elections. Commission members must be approved by the state Senate, which Republicans control by a narrow 16-14 majority. Every member of the Senate, though, will be up for election this year. With abortion so salient—GOP leaders have refused to consider legislation—reversing the court's ban—Democrats have a strong chance of flipping the chamber.

It would, however, be some time before the court could see a majority of Democratic appointees, though such a shift is by no means impossible. The two dissenters in the abortion case, Chief Justice Robert Brutinel and Vice Chief Justice Ann Timmer, will hit the mandatory retirement age of 70 in 2028 and 2030, respectively. Should Hobbs win reelection in 2026, she'd get to fill those vacancies as well. (Bolick, should he survive retention, would face mandatory retirement in 2027, while Hackett King would not do so until 2050.)

The Downballot

It's only April, but the Washington Post's new report on GOP golden boy Tim Sheehy is a strong contender for the craziest political story of the year. On this week's episode of "The Downballot," co-hosts David Nir and David Beard dissect the countless contradictions in Sheehy's tales about a bullet wound that he either received in Afghanistan or in a national park three years later. The Davids also explain why the Arizona Supreme Court's appalling new ruling banning nearly all abortions could lead to two conservative justices losing their seats this fall.

Our guest this week is Sondra Goldschein, who runs the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, an organization dedicated to improving America's badly lagging "care infrastructure." Goldschein explains how issues like paid medical leave laws and greater access to childcare affect an enormous swath of the electorate—and why they're closely tied to voters' perceptions of their economic fortunes. She also highlights candidates her group is working to elect to make these policies a reality.

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

1Q Fundraising

  • DE-Sen: Lisa Blunt Rochester (D): $1 million raised

  • MA-Sen: Elizabeth Warren (D-inc): $1.1 million raised, $4.4 million in cash on hand 

  • MD-Sen: Larry Hogan (R): $3.1 million raised (in 51 days)

  • AZ-06: Kirsten Engel (D): $1.2 million raised, $1.8 million cash on hand

  • CA-40: Young Kim (R-inc): $1.3 million raised, $3 million cash on hand 

  • CO-05: Jeff Crank (R): $300,000 raised, $225,000 cash on hand 

  • IL-17: Eric Sorensen (D-inc): $745,000 raised, $2.1 million cash on hand 

  • MD-06: Joe Vogel (D): $231,000 raised, $235,000 cash on hand 

  • NE-02: Tony Vargas (D): $777,000 raised, $1.6 million cash on hand

  • PA-17: Chris Deluzio (D-inc): $750,000 raised, $1.45 million cash on hand 

  • VA-10: Eileen Filler-Corn (D): $370,000 raised, $430,000 cash on hand 

  • WA-05: Michael Baumgartner (R): $400,000 raised (in one month) 

Senate

 MD-Sen: Attorney General Anthony Brown announced Wednesday that he was supporting Rep. David Trone in the May 14 Democratic primary, a declaration that Trone made public in a campaign ad. Brown is arguably the most prominent Black politician who has opted to support Trone, who is white, over Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, who would be Maryland's first Black senator.

But while most of the state's political establishment is backing Alsobrooks, Brown and Trone are longtime allies. As a member of the House in 2018, Brown endorsed Trone in the primary for a nearby seat, and as Time's Eric Cortellessa reminds us, the wealthy Trone financed ads to help his colleague's successful 2022 bid for attorney general.

MT-Sen: VoteVets has already launched what Politico reports is a $200,000 ad buy focused on a truly bizarre Washington Post story about former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy and a gunshot injury.

The Republican is shown saying, "I have a bullet stuck in this arm still from Afghanistan," before a narrator says Sheehy may have actually been wounded in a parking lot at Glacier National Park. "Sheehy told investigators the bullet in his arm is from a gun falling and firing on a family hiking trip," the voiceover continues. "Come on, Tim, it's one more shady story that doesn't add up."

Governors

 NC-Gov: Quinnipiac University's first look at the race for governor shows Democrat Josh Stein leading Republican Mark Robinson 48-41, with Libertarian Mike Ross and Green Wayne Turner at 4% and 2%, respectively. The omission of those two third-party candidates doesn't make much of a difference, though, as the school shows Stein ahead by a similar 52-44 margin in a head-to-head contest. Respondents favor Donald Trump over Joe Biden 41-38 in a five-person field and 48-46 when only major candidates are included.

This is the largest lead for Stein that we've seen in any poll, and it's also considerably different from what other surveys have shown over the last month. An early March poll from the conservative firm Cygnal showed Robinson up 44-39, while SurveyUSA and Marist College found Stein ahead only 44-42 and 49-47, respectively.

 WV-Gov: Campaign finance reports for the first quarter of the year are now in, and MetroNews has rounded up the numbers for all the major Republicans competing in the May 14 primary for West Virginia's open governorship:

  • Attorney General Patrick Morrisey: $876,000 raised, $1.7 million cash on hand

  • Former Del. Moore Capito: $337,000 raised, $1.1 million cash on hand

  • Businessman Chris Miller: $216,000 raised, additional $50,000 self-funded, $1.2 million cash on hand

  • Secretary of State Mac Warner: $73,000 raised, $193,000 cash on hand

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, who has the Democratic side to himself, raised $18,000 and ended March with $21,000 in the bank.

House

 CA-16: A pair of voters unexpectedly requested a recount on Tuesday, just days after election authorities certified that both Assemblymember Evan Low and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian would advance to an all-Democratic general election with former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. However, it remains to be seen if any recount will actually take place.

Politico explains that California requires anyone who asks for a recount to pay for it before the April 15 deadline. If payment isn't submitted by then, the current results of the March 5 top-two primary that have Low and Simitian tied for second place would stand. (California, unlike many states, does not have automatic recounts no matter how close a race is.)

Election officials in Santa Clara County, which forms 84% of the 16th District by population, say that a 10-day manual recount would cost a total of $320,000. A five-day machine recount would have a considerably smaller $84,200 price tag, but the Mercury News' Grace Hase writes that such a process is less likely to catch any tabulation errors.

San Jose Spotlight's Jana Kadah adds that a manual recount would cost another $85,000 in San Mateo County, which forms the balance of the district. (It's not clear how much a machine recount in San Mateo would be.)

One of the two requesters, former San Mateo County Board of Supervisors candidate Dan Stegink, told Hase he was willing to pay for a recount. Santa Clara County officials also say they don't know if Stegink could split the cost with the other requester, 2020 Biden Delegate Jonathan Padilla.

Low's campaign was quick to highlight that Padilla worked on Liccardo's 2014 bid to lead San Jose to argue that the former mayor was behind the recount request. Low's team also invoked a very different politician in slamming the request. "This is a page right out of Trump’s political playbook using dirty tricks to attack democracy and subvert the will of the voters," the campaign said in a statement.

Liccardo's campaign denied it had asked Padilla to do anything, but a spokesperson didn't sound upset about the development. "We understand why, under these extraordinary circumstances, there would be an effort to make sure these votes are fully considered," said a Liccardo consultant.

Simitian, by contrast, didn't express a preference either for or against a recount. "Eventually, this process will work itself out," he said in a statement.

Hase also obtained an early April Liccardo internal poll from Lake Research Partners that shows him leading Low 26-21, with Simitian at 20%. The story did not include results testing Liccardo in one-on-one matchups.

Kadah previously reported on Monday that another firm, McGuire Research, has been testing Liccardo in various scenarios. There's no word on the results or the client, but the existence of the poll led to speculation that the former mayor or his allies were trying to determine whether he'd benefit if only one of his opponents were to advance―speculation that only intensified when Stegink and Padilla filed their recount requests a day later.

 MD-06: Del. Joe Vogel is airing what appears to be the first negative TV ad of the May 14 Democratic primary for Maryland's open 6th District, and the Washington Post's Katie Shepherd reports he's spending $35,000 to link former Commerce Department official April McClain Delaney to hardline Republicans.

The ad, which Maryland Matters says is Vogel's first television commercial, opens with the candidate declaring that "every Democrat for Congress" has a similar agenda, which is an unusual line for any campaign ad. However, he continues, "The difference is our approach. McClain Delaney donates to extreme Republicans and is friends with Tucker Carlson and Paul Ryan."

The 27-year-old lawmaker goes on, "I come from the school shooting generation, where we know you can’t hope politicians do the right thing. You have to make them." Vogel does not mention any of the other 12 Democratic candidates seeking to replace David Trone, who is running for Senate.

Vogel, writes Shepherd, previously deployed some of these arguments against McClain Delaney at debates. McClain Delaney has countered that her bipartisan friendship with the Ryan family began when her husband, former Rep. John Delaney, and the Wisconsin Republican served together in the House.

Vogel has also faulted McClain Delaney for making a contribution to Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican who was once one of the most prominent ultra-conservatives in the Senate, in 2005. (DeMint resigned in 2013 to lead the Heritage Foundation.) Shepherd says that Delaney responded by shaking her head and "at one point throwing her hands into the air" during the debate, though she did not dispute the donation.

As for Carlson, Vogel's ad cites a 2018 piece from MOCO 360 about John Delaney's longshot White House bid that identified the far-right media personality as a friend of the then-congressman. The story did not touch on McClain Delaney's connection to the former Fox News commentator.

Vogel launched this spot around the same time that he released a mid-March GBAO internal that showed Delaney leading him 17-10, with a 48% plurality undecided. We haven't seen any other polls here all year.

Delaney, for her part, began airing ads a month ago, and she uses her most recent spot to tout herself as someone who will protect children from "Big Tech." Shepard says the only other Democratic candidate who has taken to the airwaves is Ashwani Jain, a former Obama administration official who won just 2% in the 2022 primary for governor.

 MI-03: A super PAC called West Michigan For Change announced Wednesday that it had taken in $1 million to promote attorney Paul Hudson, who is the leading Republican running to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Hillary Scholten. The group, which did not bring in any money last year, did not say where the influx of cash came from.

Joe Biden carried this constituency 53-45 in 2020, and Scholten's 55-42 victory two years later made her the first Democrat to represent a Grand Rapids-based seat in the House since the mid-1970s. Scholten's allies at House Majority PAC don't seem convinced that those decisive wins mean this seat is out of reach for the GOP, however, as the group recently booked $1.3 million in ad time for the Grand Rapids media market.

 NH-02: Businessman Vikram Mansharamani became the first notable Republican to launch a bid to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster on Wednesday, though his last campaign for office was anything but impressive. Mansharamani self-funded about $300,000 last cycle in his bid to take on Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, but he ended up taking a distant fourth place in the primary with less than 8% of the vote.

Mansharamani is also unlikely to be the last Republican to join the September primary. The Union Leader reports that state Rep. Joe Sweeney and 2014 nominee Marilinda Garcia are considering, though there are no quotes from either would-be candidate.

On the Democratic side, Concord Mayor Byron Champlin and businessman Gary Hirshberg this week joined Kuster in endorsing former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern rather than running themselves.

 NJ-10: Democratic Rep. Donald Payne's office said Tuesday evening that he'd "suffered a cardiac episode based on complications from his diabetes during the weekend," but that his "prognosis is good and he is expected to make a full recovery." Payne is seeking reelection this year in New Jersey's safely Democratic 10th District.

 Filing: Candidate filing closed in five more states over the last week: April 4 was the deadline in New York, Tennessee, and Virginia, while the respective deadlines for Oklahoma and North Dakota were April 5 and April 8. We'll have more on each state below.

 New York: While the state publishes a list of candidates who filed to run for Congress in the June 25 primary, it doesn't include all House seats. That's because candidates running for a district contained entirely within either a single county or New York City file with their local election authorities, while everyone else files with the state.

Under the new congressional map, 11 districts (the 5th through the 15th) are located wholly within the city, while the only two single-county seats anywhere else in the state are the 1st District in Suffolk County and the 4th District in Nassau County. Election authorities in those jurisdictions have not released candidate lists yet, though Politics1 has compiled an unofficial roster for each seat.

There are no reports of any big names launching last-second campaigns, which isn't a surprise in a state where getting on the ballot can be a challenge. Most major party congressional candidates were required to hand in 1,250 valid signatures to compete in the primary, though Republicans running in the dark blue 13th and 15th Districts had a smaller target to hit because their party has so few registered voters in those constituencies.

Not everyone who submitted petitions by Thursday will necessarily make the primary ballot, however, because campaigns have long been aggressive about going to court to challenge the validity of their opponent's signatures. One former leader of the Brooklyn Democratic Party expressed a common view of this age-old practice in a 2022 interview with City & State. 

"Fuck them!" Frank Seddio said of anyone who might get knocked off the ballot for a lack of signatures. "Breathing shouldn't be the only qualification for running for office."

 North Dakota: Former Miss America Cara Mund filed to run for North Dakota's only House seat as a Republican about half an hour before the deadline, telling the North Dakota Monitor that there weren't any moderates competing in the June 11 primary. 

Mund, a supporter of abortion rights, ran against GOP Rep. Kelly Armstrong in the 2022 general election as an independent candidate and wound up as his only opponent after the Democratic nominee dropped out. Mund's effort attracted national attention, but Armstrong went on to fend her off by a 62-38 margin in this dark red state. That performance was significantly better than Joe Biden's landslide 65-32 loss two years earlier, but it still fell far short of victory.

The GOP field to succeed Armstrong, who is running for governor, consists of former State Department official Alex Balazs, former state Rep. Rick Becker, Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak, and one minor candidate. Democrats are running Marine Corps veteran Trygve Hammer and perennial candidate Roland Clifford Riemers.

The GOP primary to replace retiring Gov. Doug Burgum, meanwhile, remains a duel between Armstrong and Burgum's choice, Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller, while state Sen. Merrill Piepkorn has the Democratic side to himself.

 Oklahoma: Republican Sen. Markwayne Mullin and each of the five members of Oklahoma's all-Republican House delegation are seeking reelection, and there's no indication any of them have anything to worry about in either the June 18 primary or the November general election. An Aug. 27 runoff would take place in any primary where no one earns a majority of the vote.

 Tennessee: The biggest news in the Volunteer State was Davidson County Metro Councilmember Courtney Johnston's decision to challenge freshman Rep. Andy Ogles in the Aug. 1 Republican primary for the 5th District, a development we covered in a recent Digest. She's not Ogles' only intra-party challenger, though, as cybersecurity executive Tom Guarente is also in

Guarente has attracted relatively little attention, but his presence on the ballot could cost Johnston enough support to allow the incumbent to win with a plurality. (Unlike many Southern states, Tennessee does not use primary runoffs.) The eventual winner will be favored in the general election for a seat that Donald Trump carried 55-43 in 2020.

Over in the dark red 8th District in West Tennessee, GOP Rep. David Kustoff learned last week that he'd once again face a primary battle against radiologist George Flinn, a self-funding perennial candidate who owns a network of radio and TV stations. Flinn, who served on the Shelby County Commission in the 2000s, had already waged several well-funded but doomed campaigns when he entered the 2016 primary to replace retiring Rep. Stephen Fincher in the prior version of the seat.

Flinn's resources were almost enough to propel him to victory in what was a packed race, but Kustoff edged him out 27-23. Flinn tried again two years later, but Trump's support helped Kustoff win an expensive rematch 56-40. Flinn went on to take just 3% in the 2020 Senate primary, secure 2.5% as an independent in the 9th District against Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen, and wage an abortive 2023 bid for mayor of Memphis.

Republican Rep. Tim Burchett, by contrast, found out he'd have no primary opposition in the 2nd District, an East Tennessee constituency that hasn't elected a Democratic representative since 1852. There was talk earlier this year that Kevin McCarthy and his allies would target Burchett, who was one of the eight Republicans who voted to end McCarthy's speakership in October. However, they never found a backup candidate after former state Rep. Jimmy Matlock announced in February that he wouldn't run.

 Virginia: The Virginia Department of Elections says that it will post its list of candidates "on, or shortly after April 15." Primaries will take place on June 18. For the first time in many years, Republicans will rely on state-run primaries to pick all of their candidates, eschewing conventions or party-run "firehouse" primaries. (Democrats, who have almost always preferred traditional primaries, will also use them exclusively.)

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