Voting Rights Roundup: Georgia Senate wins pave way for Democrats to pass historic election reforms

Leading Off

Congress: With victories in Georgia's Senate runoffs, congressional Democrats now have the opportunity to pass the most important set of voting and election reforms since the historic Voting Rights Act was adopted in 1965. These reforms face a challenging path to passage given Democrats' narrow majorities, but their adoption is critical for preserving American democracy amid unprecedented attacks upon it by Republican extremists both in and outside Congress.

Chief among these proposals is the reintroduction of H.R. 1, the "For the People Act," which House Democrats passed in 2019 and would enact groundbreaking reforms by (1) removing barriers to expanding access to voting and securing the integrity of the vote; (2) establishing public financing in House elections to level the playing field; and (3) banning congressional gerrymandering by requiring that every state create a nonpartisan redistricting commission subject to nonpartisan redistricting criteria.

Democrats have also called for enacting a new Voting Rights Act, which the House passed in 2019 and subsequently named after the late Georgia Rep. John Lewis, a hero of the civil rights movement who died last year. Finally, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has vowed to bring a bill to the floor to finally end the disenfranchisement of 700,000 Americans by making Washington, D.C. a state, which House Democrats also approved last year. We'll detail each of these major reforms below.

Pelosi has indicated that passing H.R. 1, symbolically named as the first bill of the session, will be a top priority for the new Congress. This bill would adopt the following reforms for federal elections:

  • Establish automatic voter registration at an array of state agencies;
  • Establish same-day voter registration;
  • Allow online voter registration;
  • Allow 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register so they'll be on the rolls when they turn 18;
  • Allow state colleges and universities to serve as registration agencies;
  • Ban states from purging eligible voters' registration simply for infrequent voting;
  • Establish two weeks of in-person early voting, including availability on Sundays and outside of normal business hours;
  • Standardize hours within states for opening and closing polling places on Election Day, with exceptions to let cities set longer hours in municipal races;
  • Require paper ballots filled by hand or machines that use them as official records and let voters verify their choices;
  • Grant funds to states to upgrade their election security infrastructure;
  • Provide prepaid postage on mail ballots;
  • Allow voters to turn in their mail ballot in person if they choose;
  • Allow voters to track their absentee mail ballots;
  • Require states to establish nonpartisan redistricting commissions for congressional redistricting (likely not until 2030);
  • End prison gerrymandering by counting prisoners at their last address (rather than where they're incarcerated) for the purposes of redistricting;
  • End felony disenfranchisement for those on parole, probation, or post-sentence, and require such citizens to be supplied with registration forms and informed their voting rights have been restored;
  • Provide public financing for House campaigns in the form of matching small donations at a six-for-one rate;
  • Expand campaign finance disclosure requirements to mitigate Citizens United;
  • Ban corporations from spending for campaign purposes unless the corporation has established a process for determining the political will of its shareholders; and
  • Make it a crime to mislead voters with the intention of preventing them from voting.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, meanwhile, would restore the protections that the Supreme Court's conservatives eviscerated in an infamous 2013 decision. That ruling removed a requirement for a number of largely Southern states and localities with a pervasive history of racial discrimination to "preclear" all efforts to change voting laws and procedures with the Justice Department. The VRAA would establish new criteria for deciding which jurisdictions would fall under the preclearance requirement after the 2013 court ruling struck down the old formula.​

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​Under the new setup, any state where officials have committed at least 15 voting rights violations over a 25-year period would be required to obtain preclearance for 10 years. If the state itself, rather than localities within the state, is responsible for the violations, it would take only 10 violations to place it under preclearance. In addition, any particular locality could individually be subjected to preclearance if it commits at least three violations.

Based on this formula, the VRAA would put 11 states back under preclearance: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. While most of these states are still in the South (and also under Republican control), the list also includes the two largest Democratic-leaning states in the country, California and New York.

Lastly, the bill to grant statehood to D.C. would shrink the federal District of Columbia down to a handful of important federal buildings surrounding the National Mall while admitting the rest of the district as a new state. All but one House Democrat (who is now no longer in Congress) voted for D.C. statehood last summer, and 46 of the 50 incoming members of the Democratic Senate caucus either sponsored last year's bill or have expressed public support, while the remaining four have yet to take a firm position.

While Democrats winning full control of Congress and the presidency makes it possible to pass the above reforms, their success is far from guaranteed. For starters, Democrats would need unanimous support in the Senate and near-unanimous backing in the House given that every Republican is likely to oppose these reforms.

The most important hurdle, however, is the legislative filibuster, and the fate of these reforms will depend on Senate Democrats either abolishing or curtailing it. Progressive activists have relaunched a movement to eliminate the filibuster entirely following the Georgia victories, while some experts have suggested that Democrats could carve out an exception for voting rights legislation. Either way, Democrats will need to address the filibuster in some fashion, since Senate Republicans have made it clear they will not provide the support necessary to reach a 60-vote supermajority on any of these measures.

Voting Access

Connecticut: Democratic Secretary of State Denise Merrill and legislative Democrats are pushing to pass a series of voting reforms, including the adoption of no-excuse absentee voting, early voting, and automatic voter registration. Last year, lawmakers passed a statute to temporarily expand the definition of illness to allow all voters to cast absentee ballots without needing a specific excuse, and Democrats are considering passing similar legislation this year for upcoming local and special elections with the pandemic still ongoing.

Democrats may also try to permanently remove the excuse requirement by passing a constitutional amendment, as well as once again approving an amendment they passed in 2019 to allow up to three days of early voting. Unless the GOP has a change of heart and supplies enough votes for a three-fourths supermajority, amendments must pass in two sessions with an election in between before going to a voter referendum.

Delaware: Democratic lawmakers in Delaware have introduced two constitutional amendments to expand voting rights: The first would remove the excuse requirement to vote absentee by mail while the second would enable same-day voter registration. Last year, the state temporarily waived the excuse requirement due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Amendments in Delaware must pass the legislature with two-thirds supermajorities in two consecutive sessions, so lawmakers could enact the no-excuse absentee voting amendment this session since they passed it the first time in 2020. (The same-day registration amendment could not go into effect until the 2024 elections at the earliest.) However, since Democrats are just shy of the two-thirds mark in the state House, they will need at least two GOP votes in support. Uniquely among the 50 states, Delaware does not require constitutional amendments to be approved by voters.

District of Columbia: In late November, the Democratic-run Washington, D.C. Council advanced a bill to make permanent a measure temporarily adopted in 2020 that let voters cast ballots at any "vote center" citywide in 2020 instead of just their local polling place. Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser has yet to sign the bill, which also requires a polling place at the city jail, into law.

Hawaii: Hawaii election chief Scott Nago plans to ask the Democratic-dominated legislature to pass legislation giving voters more time to complete their ballots and to expand the number of in-person "vote centers," where any voter in a county can cast their ballot, to better accommodate voters who can't readily vote by mail or don't want to.

Additionally, voting rights advocates have announced that they will renew their push to ask lawmakers to adopt a bill enacting automatic voter registration through the state's driver's licensing agency and potentially other state agencies, too. The state Senate and House each passed separate bills to adopt automatic registration in 2019, but the proposal failed to become law after the two chambers couldn't agree on a single version.

Illinois: State House Democrats have passed legislation in committee that would make permanent some of the reforms lawmakers adopted in 2020 due to the pandemic, including: counting absentee mail ballots without postage; allowing officials to set up drop boxes for mail ballots; and continuing curbside voting for mobility-limited voters. However, the bill wouldn't extend the practice of sending applications for mail ballots to all voters who have cast ballots in recent election years.

Louisiana: Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin has proposed an emergency voting plan for lawmakers to approve for upcoming local elections and the March 20 special elections for the 2nd and 5th Congressional Districts. Committees in the state Senate and House both advanced the proposal to their respective full chambers earlier this month.

The plan would let voters cast absentee ballots by mail if they are at higher risk for COVID-19, seeking a diagnosis for it, or are subject to a physician's isolation order or caring for someone under isolation. However, it would not waive the excuse requirement for all voters or expand the number of early voting days.

Maine: Democratic Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, who was elevated to the post by Maine's state legislature last month, will push for lawmakers to adopt online voter registration and prepaid absentee ballot postage. Meanwhile, several Democratic legislators have introduced various bills to codify the use of drop boxes, implement a system for letting voters track their absentee ballots, and let absentee ballots be counted earlier.

Maryland: Maryland Democrats have introduced legislation intended to strengthen voting access on college campuses, military bases, retirement homes, and other "large residential communities." Sites like these would be able to request an in-person voting location, and colleges would also be required to establish voter registration efforts on campus and give students an excused absence to vote if needed. The bill would let military service members register online using their identification smart cards issued by the Defense Department.

New Jersey: Committees in both chambers of New Jersey's Democratic-run legislature have declined to advance a measure that would have adopted two weeks of early voting for this year's state-level general elections and some municipal races in May. The New Jersey Globe reported that it was unclear why the bill failed to move forward but also noted that legislative leaders have yet to reach an agreement on the specifics of early voting, including whether to extend it to primaries, despite supporting the idea in principle. Committees in both chambers also passed early voting bills last year, but they did not advance further in 2020.

New York: The past three weeks have been a busy period for voting rights expansions in New York, beginning when Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law an automatic voter registration measure that will involve a variety of different state agencies. Democratic state senators also passed several other reforms this week, including measures to:

The proposals to enact same-day registration and permanently remove the absentee excuse requirement are constitutional amendments that previously passed both legislative chambers in 2019 and must pass again before they can appear on this November's ballot, while the other measures are all statutory and can become law if the Assembly and Cuomo sign off on them.

Oregon: Democratic Gov. Kate Brown has called for several voting reforms in her budget proposal to the Democratic legislature, including reinstituting same-day voter registration; counting mail ballots that are postmarked by Election Day instead of only those received by Election Day; increasing the number of mail ballot drop boxes; and expanding Oregon's automatic voter registration system from just the DMV to include other agencies.

Same-day voter registration would likely require lawmakers to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot thanks to an especially bizarre chapter in state history. Oregon previously offered same-day registration, but lawmakers amended the constitution to repeal it in 1986 after a religious cult called the Rajneeshees attempted large-scale voter fraud in concert with biological warfare that left hundreds of residents poisoned in their unsuccessful plot to take over rural Wasco County's commission in 1984. However, 21 states and D.C. use same-day registration today without problems.

Vermont: Both chambers of Vermont's Democratic-run legislature have passed a bill that lets municipalities decide whether to mail every active registered voter a ballot for the upcoming March 2 "Town Meeting Day" or let them postpone the elections to the spring if needed due to the pandemic. Town meetings are a form of direct democracy unique to New England, during which localities can hold public votes on budgetary and other matters.

Virginia: Virginia Democrats have introduced several major voting reforms, which would expand on the sweeping changes they passed in 2020. This year's measures include:

Democrats have full control of state government, but constitutional amendments must pass both legislative chambers in two consecutive sessions with a state election taking place in between before going to a voter referendum. The felony voter reforms, therefore, could not become law before 2022 at the soonest. While civil rights groups and progressive Democrats support the amendment that would outright abolish felony disenfranchisement, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam backs the competing amendment that would keep those who are in prison, on parole, or on probation unable to vote.

Voter Suppression

Georgia: Republican state House Speaker David Ralston says he is open to considering removing oversight of Georgia's elections from Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's office, and Ralston claims he wouldn't need a constitutional amendment to do it.

Raffensperger recently incurred the ire of fellow Republicans after he refused to go along with Trump's illegal efforts to steal the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, prompting Raffensperger to release a recording of an incriminating phone call early this month during which Trump had pressured him to "find" 12,000 fake votes that would allow Trump to claim victory. The New York Times reported on Friday that state prosecutors are increasingly likely to open a formal criminal investigation into Trump over the incident.

Separately, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has called for adding a voter ID requirement to absentee voting, which Republicans exempted when they initially adopted a voter ID law in the mid-2000s. Up until 2020, absentee voting was disproportionately used by elderly Republican voters, but the GOP's push for new voting restrictions on the practice comes after mail voting heavily favored Democrats, both in November and the Jan. 5 Senate runoffs.

Many Georgia Republicans also want to reinstate the requirement that voters present an excuse in order to request an absentee ballot, along with calling for banning mail ballot drop boxes and restricting who can send ballot applications to voters. Ralston, however, says he opposes eliminating excuse-free absentee voting.

Kansas: The U.S. Supreme Court last month declined to take up Kansas Republicans' appeal of a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last year that had struck down a law requiring voters to provide documentary proof of citizenship in order to register to vote, effectively dooming the measure. The law was the signature legislative achievement of former Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican who rose to national notoriety as the leader of Trump's bogus "voter fraud" commission.

By the time it was blocked in 2016, the Kansas law had led to one in seven new voter registrations being suspended for lack of documentation, affecting 30,000 would-be registrants in total—a group that was disproportionately young and Latino. The lower court that eventually struck down the law also eviscerated Kobach's credibility and seriously undermined his reputation even among Republicans.

Separately, Kobach's successor as secretary of state, fellow Republican Scott Schwab, reportedly won't implement a bipartisan 2019 voting reform until 2023. That law allows counties to replace traditional local polling places with countywide "vote centers" where any voter in a county may cast their ballot. A provision of the law requires it to first take effect for odd-year local elections before it can be implemented for even-year federal and state elections, so if Schwab's foot-dragging delays it past this year, it couldn't take full effect until 2023.

North Carolina: The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in December unanimously overturned a lower federal court ruling that had temporarily blocked a voter ID statute passed by North Carolina Republicans from taking effect last election cycle while the case proceeded on the merits. The appellate judges ruled that the lower court had "abused its discretion" by blocking the law.

The lower court had found that there were significant similarities between this law, which Republicans approved in a 2018 lame-duck session, and one they passed in 2013, which another federal court had struck down in 2016 for being part of a package of voting restrictions that they deemed had targeted Black voters "with almost surgical precision."

The 4th Circuit, however, held that the lower court had erred by not presuming that lawmakers had acted in "good faith" when passing the laws, despite the many times that Republican legislators have had their voting laws struck down in court for discrimination. The plaintiffs are in the process of filing a petition to ask the entire 4th Circuit to rehear their case over the preliminary injunction while the case proceeds on the merits.

However, even if they succeed at the 4th Circuit, there's a strong risk of the U.S. Supreme Court eventually reversing them, which is why voting rights advocates may have better odds of blocking the voter ID law in state court instead. Last year, in fact, a state court issued its own preliminary injunction that blocked the law for the November election, and that case is also still ongoing.

Unfortunately for voting advocates, though, the 2020 elections complicated their odds of success at the state level. Democrats suffered three close losses in last November's state Supreme Court elections, leaving them with a slim 4-3 advantage on the bench

The contest for control of the court and the narrowing of Democrats' majority may have implications not only for the voter ID dispute. It could also play a role in the resolution of ongoing litigation over a separate constitutional amendment that authorized the voter ID statute, as well as with cases over North Carolina's felony voter disenfranchisement law, and upcoming lawsuits over redistricting, where the court is the lone bulwark at the state level against renewed GOP gerrymandering.

Texas: The U.S. Supreme Court's right-wing majority has refused to take up state Democrats' appeal in a lawsuit that sought to overturn a Republican-backed restriction that's used in Texas and several other red states to require that only voters under the age of 65 must have an excuse to vote absentee by mail. By refusing to take up the case, the high court left in place a 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upheld the Texas law in defiance of the 26th Amendment's ban on age discrimination by using logic that if applied to race would effectively result in the revival of Jim Crow voting laws.

Meanwhile, in the Texas state Senate, several GOP senators have introduced a bill that would ban the mailing of unsolicited absentee ballots applications. Populous Democratic-run counties such as Houston's Harris County sought to send applications to all voters in 2020 due to the pandemic, but Republicans convinced the GOP-dominated state Supreme Court to block them.

Existing Senate rules required 19 votes to bring bills to the floor, but after Republicans were reduced to just 18 seats following the November elections, they lowered that threshold for the third time in recent years so that they can overcome Democratic objections and pass new voting restrictions and gerrymanders.

Post Office: One key consequence of Joe Biden's victory and Democrats winning the Senate is that Biden will be able to appoint members of his choosing to the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors, who in turn could fire Donald Trump's postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, who was instrumental in Trump's attempt to sabotage mail voting last year. With Mitch McConnell unable to block him, Biden can now fill three vacancies on the nine-member board, which currently has four Republicans and two Democrats, thereby giving it a new Democratic majority that could sack DeJoy.

Felony Disenfranchisement

Alabama: Federal District Judge Emily Marks, a Trump appointee, granted Republican defendants' motion for summary judgment in December in a lawsuit where the plaintiffs had sought to strike down a state law that serves as a de facto poll tax by requiring people with felony convictions who have served their sentences to also pay off any court fines and fees before regaining the right to vote. The plaintiffs say they are considering whether to appeal.

Minnesota: The ACLU is now asking a state appellate court to overturn a lower court's dismissal last August of their lawsuit that sought to strike down Minnesota's ban on voting for people serving out parole or probation for a felony conviction. If the effort succeeds, only people who are currently incarcerated would remain unable to vote.

Tennessee: Voting rights advocates have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to simplify Tennessee's cumbersome process for people with felony convictions who have completed their sentences to regain their voting rights. Plaintiffs in particular object to the GOP's de facto poll tax requirement that requires affected individuals to first pay off all court fines and fees, which they argue violates state law.

Redistricting and Reapportionment

Illinois: Democratic legislators have passed a bill in both chambers that will end the practice of "prison gerrymandering" for state legislative redistricting, sending it to Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The bill would count incarcerated people for redistricting purposes at their last known address instead of where they are imprisoned.

Iowa: The liberal blog Bleeding Heartland reports that top-ranking GOP state legislators won't rule out using their power to implement gerrymanders by amending the maps submitted to lawmakers by Iowa's nonpartisan redistricting agency. Republicans are in a position to do so because they hold unified control of state government in a redistricting year for the first time since the 1980s, when the nonpartisan agency first came into place.

Maryland: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has issued an executive order to create an advisory commission that will propose new congressional and legislative maps for the upcoming round of redistricting. The nine commissioners will include three Democrats, three Republicans, and three independents, three of whom will be chosen by Hogan while the other six will be ordinary citizens who can apply here.

Hogan has the power to submit legislative maps to the Democratic-run legislature at the start of the legislative session, but if Democrats pass their own maps within 45 days, Hogan can't veto them. The commission's congressional map, meanwhile, would be strictly advisory in nature. While Hogan could veto new congressional districts, Democrats have the numbers to override him. The commission's proposal could nevertheless influence a court in the event of litigation.

New York: In addition to the voting access measures in our New York item above, Senate Democrats also passed a third constitutional amendment that would make it easier for Democrats to gerrymander new maps next year by lowering the threshold for overriding the state's new bipartisan redistricting commission from a two-thirds supermajority to just three-fifths. Democrats already passed this amendment in 2020, and it would also appear on the November ballot if Assembly Democrats again follow suit. However, it's possible that the lowered threshold won't even matter for the upcoming round of redistricting, since Senate Democrats gained a two-thirds supermajority in November.

The amendment also includes some nonpartisan redistricting reforms, including enshrining in the constitution an existing statutory ban on "prison gerrymandering"; freezing the number of state senators at 63; sharply limiting how cities can be split among Senate districts to prevent a repeated of the anti-urban gerrymandering that occurred when the GOP drew the lines after 2010; and authorizing state to conduct its own census if the federal count is tainted.

Pennsylvania: State House Republicans have passed a constitutional amendment out of committee by a single vote that would effectively gerrymander the state Supreme Court and Pennsylvania's two intermediate appellate courts by ending statewide judicial elections and replacing them with elections based on districts that GOP legislators would draw.

This move comes as retaliation for the state Supreme Court's Democratic majority striking down the GOP's congressional gerrymander in 2018 and protecting voting rights in 2020. Republicans could place it on the May primary ballot if it passes in both chambers for the second required time after the GOP approved the amendment in 2020.

2020 Census: The Trump administration has confirmed in federal court amid ongoing litigation that it will not release key data needed for Donald Trump to implement his attempt to unconstitutionally remove undocumented immigrants from the 2020 census population counts that will be used to reapportion congressional seats and Electoral College votes among the states. The Census Bureau said that it had in fact stopped work on producing those counts altogether.

Instead, the bureau won't compile that data until at least after Biden is sworn in, meaning the incoming president will have a chance to reverse Trump's memo ordering its production and release. The U.S. Supreme Court in December had overturned one of the three lower federal court rulings that had blocked Trump's executive memo, holding that it wasn't yet ripe for adjudication, but the delays will likely moot that litigation.

In addition to the postponed release of reapportionment data, the more granular data needed to conduct actual redistricting itself will likely be delayed past the existing March 31 deadline set by federal law. That could in turn cause several states to delay or even entirely postpone redistricting for elections taking place this year. Some states, however, have deadlines for redistricting written into their constitutions, meaning that late-arriving data could cause unpredictable legal havoc.

Electoral College

Electoral College: Republicans in three key states have proposed altering how their states allocate Electoral College votes in different ways that would have each given Donald Trump more electoral votes in 2020. It's unclear whether these plans have widespread GOP support, and two of them face long odds of passage, but they're by no means the first time that Republicans have floated efforts to manipulate the Electoral College for short-term partisan advantage, and they raise the specter that the GOP will one day go through with it.

In Michigan, GOP Congressman Bill Huizenga called for switching his state from winner-take-all to allocating electoral votes by congressional district, which of course happens to be gerrymandered by the GOP in a way that would have resulted in an 8-8 split in 2020 despite Joe Biden winning the state (Michigan Democrats in fact did this very same scheme way back in the 1892 election cycle). Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could veto such a proposal if the GOP actually tries to pass it, but she faces a potentially competitive re-election contest in 2022 that could leave the GOP with full control of the state heading into the 2024 presidential election.

In Wisconsin, meanwhile, Republican state Rep. Gary Tauchen went further and actually introduced a bill that would similarly assign electoral votes by congressional districts that were gerrymandered by Republicans, a bill that would have given Trump a 6-4 majority in November even though Biden carried the state. As in Michigan, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers could veto the bill if the GOP were to make a serious push to pass it, but he could also be defeated next year, leaving Republicans with unfettered power.

Lastly, Republican state Sen. Julie Slama introduced a bill that would move Nebraska in the opposite direction by abolishing the allocation of electoral votes by congressional district after Joe Biden won the Omaha-based 2nd Congressional District and its lone electoral vote. Unlike in the other two states, Republicans already have full control over state government, but they narrowly lack a filibuster-proof two-thirds supermajority. However, the GOP could eliminate the filibuster rule with a simple majority.

These schemes may or may not work as intended and could even backfire on Republicans in the long term, especially if Wisconsin and Michigan one day turn reliably red. However, these proposals are all motivated solely by partisan self-interest rather than any good-faith concerns about the fairness of the Electoral College.

This is in fact the third straight election to which Republicans have reacted by putting forth plans to tilt the Electoral College in their favor, even though they benefited more from its skew in both 2016 and 2020 than in any elections in a century, according to one analysis.

Two-thirds of Republicans in the U.S. House and several in the Senate unsuccessfully voted last week to overturn Biden's Electoral College victory and steal the 2020 election for Trump mere hours after far-right insurrectionists incited by Trump ransacked the Capitol building itself. That followed an unsuccessful effort by Trump and his allies to agitate for disenfranchising countless voters by asking state legislatures to reject Biden's win and use their gerrymandered majorities to directly install a slate of Trump electors instead.

If the GOP entirely gives up on trying to win the popular vote and instead focuses exclusively on translating its minority support into an Electoral College majority, it's likely only a matter of time before Republicans successfully overturn a Democratic presidential victory, whether through a vote in Congress or state-level schemes to manipulate electoral vote allocation even when Democrats win the popular vote. Doing so risks sparking a far worse crisis than the one America has been living through this past month.

Electoral Reform

Alaska: The Alaska Independence Party, a right-wing fringe party that advocates for the state to secede from the union, filed a lawsuit in state court last month seeking to overturn a statute enacted by voters at the ballot box in 2020 that replaces traditional party primaries with a "top-four" primary and instant-runoff general election. Republicans are considering whether to join the legal challenge.

New York City, NY: A state court rejected issuing a temporary restraining order last month that would have blocked the use of instant-runoff voting ahead of an upcoming City Council special election after opponents of the new law, approved in 2019, filed a lawsuit in early December. The plaintiffs have announced that they will appeal, arguing that the law will lead to confusion that disenfranchises voters in communities of color unless changes are made, a charge that other candidates of color dispute.

Elections

Pennsylvania: Democratic state Sen. Jim Brewster was finally seated by the Pennsylvania Senate's Republican majority after federal District Judge Nicholas Ranjan, a Trump appointee, upheld Brewster's narrow victory last year. Republicans sparked outrage after they had refused to let Brewster take the oath of office for another term even though election officials had certified his victory and the state Supreme Court had upheld it. GOP lawmakers even ejected Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman from presiding over the chamber after he had objected to their power grab.

Republicans rejected the legitimacy of several hundred mail ballots that lacked a handwritten date on the outer envelope, even though the Supreme Court said they were otherwise valid and should be counted. Mail ballots favored Democrats by a lopsided margin thanks to Trump's demagoguery against mail voting, even though it was Republican lawmakers who pushed for a state law that, among other things, removed the excuse requirement to vote by mail in 2019.

This ordeal is an example of state-level Republicans following the lead of Trump and their congressional counterparts in trying to reject the outcome of elections after they've lost. Particularly worrisome for the rule of law is that the GOP refused to abide by the decisions of Democratic state Supreme Court justices and election officials and only capitulated after a Trump-appointed judge rejected their ploy.

Morning Digest: Texas’ suburbs zoomed left in 2020, but Democrats failed to make gains in the House

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

Leading Off

Pres-by-CD: Our project to calculate the 2020 presidential results for all 435 congressional districts nationwide goes to Texas, where the GOP gerrymander helped the party hold on to 23 of the state's 36 U.S. House seats despite several Republican retirements. You can find our detailed calculations here, a large-size map of the results here, and our permanent, bookmarkable link for all 435 districts here.

Donald Trump defeated Joe Biden in Texas 52-46 four years after he beat Hillary Clinton 52-43 in the Lone Star State, a shift due in part to a decline in third-party voting. Trump once again carried 22 congressional districts while the remaining 14 constituencies backed Biden, but as we've seen in so many states, these seemingly stable toplines mask considerable churn just below the surface, which we'll explore below. To help you follow along, we've put together a sheet that compares the 2016 and 2020 presidential results by district and also includes the results for the 2020 House races.

Two districts did in fact flip on the presidential level: Trump lost the 24th District in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburbs while recapturing the 23rd District along the border with Mexico. Biden, however, made major gains in a number of other suburban districts and nearly won no fewer than seven of them. Trump, meanwhile, surged in many heavily Latino areas and likewise came close to capturing three, but except for the 24th, every Trump seat is in GOP hands and every Biden seat is represented by Democrats.

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The 24th, which includes the suburbs north of Dallas and Fort Worth, is in fact a good place to start because it saw one of the largest shifts between 2016 and 2020. The district began the decade as heavily Republican turf—it backed Mitt Romney 60-38—but Trump carried it by a substantially smaller 51-44 margin four years later. Biden continued the trend and racked up a 52-46 win this time, but the area remained just red enough downballot to allow Republican Beth Van Duyne to manage a 49-47 victory in an expensive open-seat race against Democrat Candace Valenzuela.

Biden fell just short of winning seven other historically red suburban seats: the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 10th, 21st, 22nd, and 31st, where Trump's margins ranged from just one to three points, and where the swings from 2016 ranged from seven points in the 22nd all the way to 13 points in the 3rd, the biggest shift in the state. However, as in the 24th, Biden's surge did not come with sufficient coattails, as Republicans ran well ahead of Trump in all of these seats (you can check out our guide for more information about each district).

Two seats that Democrats flipped in 2018 and stayed blue last year also saw large improvements for Biden. The 7th District in west Houston, parts of which were once represented by none other than George H.W. Bush from 1967 to 1971, had swung from 60-39 Romney to 48-47 Clinton, and Biden carried it 54-45 in 2020. Democratic Rep. Lizzie Fletcher won by a smaller 51-47 spread against Wesley Hunt, who was one of the House GOP's best fundraisers. The 32nd District in the Dallas area, likewise, had gone from 57-41 Romney to 49-47 Clinton. This time, Biden took it 54-44 as Democratic Rep. Colin Allred prevailed 52-46.

Biden's major gains in the suburbs, though, came at the same time that Trump made serious inroads in predominantly Latino areas on or near the southern border with Mexico. That rightward shift may have cost Team Blue the chance to flip the open 23rd District, which stretches from San Antonio west to the outskirts of the El Paso area.

Romney carried this seat 51-48 before Clinton took it 50-46, but Trump won it 50-48 this time. That makes the 23rd the first Romney/Clinton/Trump seat we've found anywhere in the country, and it may in fact be the only one. Amid Trump's rise here, Republican Tony Gonzales beat Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones 51-47 to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Will Hurd, who had held off Ortiz Jones only 49.2-48.7 in 2018.

Trump also fell just short in three other seats along the Rio Grande Valley. The 15th District, which includes McAllen, had supported Clinton by a 57-40 margin, but Biden prevailed only 50-49 here. Democratic Rep. Vicente González, who had won his first two general elections with ease, likewise came shockingly close to losing his bid for a third term, fending off Republican Monica De La Cruz-Hernandez, who didn't raise much money, just 51-48 in a contest that attracted minimal outside spending from either party.

The 34th Congressional District around Brownsville similarly moved from 59-38 Clinton to 52-48 Biden, though Democratic Rep. Filemón Vela ran well ahead of the top of the ticket and prevailed 55-42. Finally, the Laredo-based 28th District went from 58-38 Clinton to 52-47 Biden. Rep. Henry Cuellar, who has long been one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, won 58-39 several months after he came close to losing renomination against a progressive opponent.

Governors

NJ-Gov: Democratic Assemblyman Jamel Holley, a notorious anti-vaxxer, last year did not rule out a primary challenge to Gov. Phil Murphy, but he's reportedly taken that option off the table and will instead run against state Sen. Joe Cryan, another fellow Democrat.

PA-Gov: Former healthcare executive Daniel Hilferty is reportedly considering a bid for governor as a Republican, but as the Philadelphia Inquirer's Andrew Seidman notes, he'd start off with a serious liability: Hilferty served on the host committee for Joe Biden's very first fundraising event for his presidential campaign, and he went on to donate more than $85,000 to help elect him.

TX-Gov: It's almost inevitable that, every four years, there's talk of a primary challenge to Texas' governor, and sometimes they even happen (see 2010), so why should this cycle be any different? The Dallas Morning News' Robert Garrett suggests Rep. Dan Crenshaw and former state Sen. Don Huffines as the latest possibilities, and an unnamed Crenshaw aide would only say that their boss is "not thinking about running." That places Crenshaw in the ranks of two other Republicans, both fanatical extremists, who previously did not rule out bids of their own: state party chair Allen West and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.

Texas, however, has an early primary and consequently an early filing deadline, typically in December. What's more, Abbott already has $38 million in his campaign account, so any would-be primary opponents will need to engage soon.

House

LA-05: Julia Letlow, whose late husband, Luke Letlow, died last month from COVID-19 after winning an all-GOP runoff in Louisiana's 5th Congressional District, has announced that she will run in the March 20 special election for the now-vacant seat. Rep. Steve Scalise, the no. 2 House Republican and one of the most powerful GOP officials in Louisiana, also offered his endorsement.

In response, a number of fellow Republicans said they would defer to Letlow, including state Sen. Stewart Cathey, state Rep. Michael Echols, state Rep. Mike Johnson, and Ouachita Parish Police Juror Scotty Robinson. However, state Rep. Lance Harris, who lost the December runoff, hasn't commented about his plans following Letlow's decision, nor has another potential candidate, state Rep. Chris Turner.

Votes: David Jarman takes a look at four consequential votes within the last couple weeks — the second impeachment of Donald Trump, the vote to challenge Pennsylvania’s electors, the vote to provide $2,000 stimulus checks, and the vote to override the veto of the National Defense Authorization Act — and finds that when the votes are aggregated, House Republicans are genuinely in some disarray. Their votes fall into 11 different permutations, which show some interesting fissures not just on the usual moderate-to-hard-right spectrum but also some other, harder-to-describe axes.

Mayors

Boston, MA Mayor: City Council President Kim Janey, who would become mayor should incumbent Marty Walsh be confirmed as U.S. secretary of labor, confirmed this week that she was considering running in her own right this year. State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz meanwhile, announced Thursday that he wouldn't enter the race.

Cincinnati, OH Mayor, OH-Sen: Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval, who was the 2018 Democratic nominee for Ohio's 1st Congressional District, announced Thursday that he would run to succeed termed-out Democratic incumbent John Cranley this year. Pureval, who is of Indian and Tibetan ancestry, would be the first Asian American elected to this post.

Pureval challenged Republican Rep. Steve Chabot a little more than two years ago for a seat that includes about three-quarters of Cincinnati (the balance is in the 2nd District) and lost the very expensive campaign 51-47. Pureval decided to run for re-election last year rather than seek a rematch against Chabot, and he beat his Republican foe 57-43 as Joe Biden was carrying Hamilton County by a similar 57-41 margin. Pureval hadn't ruled out a 2022 bid against Republican Sen. Rob Portman when he was asked about it back in October, but his mayoral campaign means we can cross him out for that race.

Pureval joins a May 4 nonpartisan primary that already includes a number of fellow Democrats, and more could enter the race ahead of the Feb. 18 filing deadline. Former Mayor Mark Mallory, who served from 2005 to 2013, and City Councilman Chris Seelbach have each been gathering petitions, though neither has announced that they're in yet.

The Cincinnati Business Courier's Chris Wetterich also reports that two other Democrats, Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus and former County Commissioner David Pepper, who also recently stepped down as state party chair, are also considering.

Fort Worth, TX Mayor: Nonprofit head Mattie Parker, who served as chief of staff for the mayor and council under retiring GOP incumbent Betsy Price, said this week that she was considering a bid for mayor.

New York City, NY Mayor: Businessman Andrew Yang, who waged an unsuccessful bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, announced Wednesday that he would run for mayor. Yang would be the city's first Asian American mayor.

Yang, who launched his campaign by pledging to implement the universal basic income plan locally that he championed during his White House bid, entered the contest with the backing of freshman Rep. Ritchie Torres, who represents a seat located in the Bronx. Yang joins a number of other candidates in the June 22 Democratic primary, which will be conducted using instant-runoff voting.

Yang has lived in New York City since 1996, but he's had little involvement in city politics until now: Indeed, City & State reported last month that he had not even voted in any of the last four mayoral elections.

Yang also attracted some bad press this week when he explained that he'd temporarily relocated to upstate New York last year as the pandemic worsened by saying, "We live in a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. And so, like, can you imagine trying to have two kids on virtual school in a two-bedroom apartment, and then trying to do work yourself?" That remark quickly drew plenty of scorn from his rivals, who didn't hesitate to portray him as out-of-touch with regular New Yorkers.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now: Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged on Thursday with two misdemeanor counts of "willful neglect of duty" stemming from his role in the Flint water crisis, and eight other state and local officials were also indicted Thursday by Attorney General Dana Nessel. Snyder, who pleaded not guilty, could be punished with up to a year in prison on each charge.

Morning Digest: The longest-serving state House speaker in history was just deposed by his own party

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

Leading Off

IL State House: A new era began in Illinois politics on Wednesday when Chris Welch won the race to replace Mike Madigan, a fellow Democrat, as speaker of the state House. Welch, whom the Chicago Tribune identifies as a Madigan ally, is the first African American to lead the chamber.

Madigan, who rose through the ranks of the late Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley's political machine, was first elected to the legislature all the way back in 1970. Madigan was elevated to the speaker's chair in 1983 and, apart from the two years the GOP was in power following the 1994 elections, he remained there ever since. In 2017, Madigan became the longest-serving state House speaker in American history.

Governors from both parties acknowledged over the decades, often to their detriment, that Madigan was the most powerful figure in state politics. Madigan also wielded plenty of influence outside the chamber: He has served as chair of the state Democratic Party since 1998, and his daughter, Lisa Madigan, was elected state attorney general in 2002.

Campaign Action

The speaker's long stint may have blocked Lisa Madigan's further rise, though. The younger Madigan was mentioned as a potential candidate for Senate or governor for years, and for a time it seemed likely she'd challenge Gov. Pat Quinn in the 2014 Democratic primary. She decided not to enter that race, however, saying she felt it would be bad for the governor and speaker to come from the same family. Lisa Madigan ended up retiring in 2018, while her father sought and won another term as leader of the state House.

Mike Madigan also was one of the Illinois GOP's favorite targets during his decades-long tenure. Republican Bruce Rauner spent his four years as governor blaming the speaker for the state's many financial difficulties. The unpopular Rauner even argued in 2018 that voters should re-elect him because a victory for his actual Democratic opponent, J.B. Pritzker, would effectively put Madigan in charge of the state.

Rauner lost badly, but Team Red had success two years later in the 13th Congressional District with a campaign that tied Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, a Democrat who had never held office, to Madigan. Last year, the speaker was also blamed for the failure of a constitutional amendment pushed by Pritzker that would have reformed the state's tax system: The Chicago Tribune's Rick Pearson said afterwards, "Opponents, largely funded by business interests, continually raised the question of 'do you trust politicians with more tax money?'"

Madigan himself, though, appeared to have a firm hold over the speakership despite intra-party complaints about him, including over his handling of sexual harassment allegations against two of his top aides. Progressives also resented the speaker for what the Pearson described as an "autocratic style which lets members advance only a few of their bills per session."

But things took an especially bad turn for Madigan last summer when the utility giant Commonwealth Edison admitted to federal prosecutors that it had given $1.3 million to his confidants in jobs and contracts in order to influence legislation. Madigan himself has not been charged and denied knowledge of the scheme, but one of his associates was indicted in December.

Madigan retained plenty of support to the end, including from labor groups and Democrats who feared they'd struggle at the ballot box without "The Program," his vast fundraising and volunteer network. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, though, called for him to step down, and Madigan struggled to win enough support from fellow Democratic representatives to stay on as speaker. On Sunday, Madigan secured just 51 out of 73 votes in an internal party caucus, which was nine short of the number he'd need to be re-elected speaker of the 118-member chamber.

Madigan announced the following day that he was suspending his campaign for speaker, though he said he wasn't dropping out. Madigan, as Politico reported, wanted to keep his options open in case another Democrat couldn't win enough votes to replace him. That's not how things went, however: Welch entered the race afterwards and put together a large enough coalition on Wednesday to secure the speakership.

Senate

PA-Sen: Roll Call's Bridget Bowman mentions two new Democrats as potential candidates for this open seat: Rep. Madeleine Dean, whom Speaker Nancy Pelosi named this week as one of the nine managers for Donald Trump's second impeachment, and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, who would be the state's first Black senator. Neither Dean nor Kenyatta appears to have said anything publicly about a potential bid.

House

NY-01: John Feal, who is a prominent advocate for fellow Sept. 11 first responders, told Newsday this week that he was considering challenging Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin in this eastern Long Island seat. Feal, a demolition supervisor who was seriously injured at the ruins of the World Trade Center in the day after the attacks, does not appear to have run for office before. Last cycle, Feal was one of a number of locals whom Democratic leaders reportedly contacted about a potential bid against Zeldin, though he didn't end up getting in.

Feal said that, while he had been friendly with Zeldin in the past, he was furious at the congressman for objecting to the Electoral College results even after last week's terrorist mob attack on the Capitol. Feal declared, "Lee Zeldin is not loyal to the people in the first [congressional] district; he's loyal only to Donald Trump, who is a con man."

Governors

CA-Gov: Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is up for re-election next year in this solidly blue state, but California Republican leaders are hoping to remove him from office before then through a recall campaign.

Recall supporters told Politico last week that they'd collected two-thirds of the nearly 1.5 million signatures they need ahead of the March 17 deadline, though they'll have to gather plenty more because some petitions will inevitably be rejected. Multiple polls from last fall gave Newsom at least a 60% approval rating, but his detractors are hoping that the worsening COVID-19 crisis has damaged his standing since then.

It's quite possible that they'll get a recall question on this year's ballot regardless of whether public sentiment is with conservatives. In a new piece, recall expert Joshua Spivak writes that the Golden State has "the easiest recall to get on the ballot" of the at least 19 states that allow governors to be removed this way. (It's not clear if Virginia authorizes recalls.)

Spivak continues, "Petitioners need only to gather 12% of the votes cast in the last election (5% in every district), and they have a leisurely 160 days to do it. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, they were granted an additional 120 days." He also notes that, because California has so many ballot measures, there's already a "signature gathering industry" in place for Republicans to utilize.

If there is a recall election, voters would be given a two-part question. First, they'd be asked if they want to recall Newsom, and second, they'd be asked to select a replacement candidate. If a majority voted no on the recall question, Newsom would stay in office. However, if a majority voted to recall him, the replacement candidate with the most votes would take his seat for the remainder of his term: There would be no primary or runoff, so the new governor could be elected even if they don't come anywhere close to taking a majority of the vote.

This very process played out in 2003 against another California governor, Democrat Gray Davis. Voters opted to oust Davis by a 55-45 margin, and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger defeated 134(!) other candidates in the race to succeed him: Davis beat Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante 49-31 while Republican Tom McClintock, who is now a member of Congress, took third with 13%. The only other governor who has ever been successfully recalled in American history is North Dakota Republican Lynn Frazier in 1921.

Legislatures

Special Elections: While special elections have been sparse to start 2021, we have early previews of two upcoming races in Iowa and Maine that could prove interesting.

IA-SD-41: Last week, parties selected their nominees for the Jan. 19 race to replace Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks in this southeastern Iowa district. Miller-Meeks was elected to the House last year, defeating Democrat Rita Hart by just six votes. While Hart is currently contesting the results, Miller-Meeks resigned from her seat in the state Senate and is currently seated in the House on a provisional basis.

Mary Stewart, who was the 2018 Democratic nominee for this seat, will face Republican Adrian Dickey, a businessman. This district has experienced the same rightward trend in the Trump era that we've seen in many other rural areas, swinging from 53-45 Obama to 57-38 Trump in 2016, though Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds won by a smaller 52-45 in 2018.

Despite the shift, Republicans only narrowly prevailed in the last two midterms amid very different political climates. In 2014, a great GOP year nationally, Republican incumbent Mark Chelgren defeated Democrat Steven Siegel just 51-49, while in 2018, a year much more favorable to Democrats, Miller-Meeks actually increased that margin, defeating Stewart 52-48.

Republicans have a 31-18 advantage in this chamber with just this seat vacant.

ME-SD-14: Candidates have been selected by their parties for the March 9 race to replace former Sen. Shenna Bellows, who was inaugurated as secretary of state in December. Both sides went with former state House members: The Democrats chose Craig Hickman, while Republicans tapped William Guerrette. While this district swung from 55-43 Obama to 47-45 Trump in 2016, Bellows never had any trouble winning re-election in this Augusta-area seat.

Democrats hold a 21-13 majority in this chamber with just this seat vacant.

Mayors

Boston, MA Mayor: Boston Chief of Health and Human Services Marty Martinez did not rule out a bid for mayor when asked this week. Martinez, who is of Mexican ancestry, would be the city's first Hispanic leader, as well as its first gay mayor.

Morning Digest: Oregon Democrat who likened Trump impeachment to a ‘lynching’ could face primary

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

Leading Off

OR-05: Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader prompted a massive outcry—and may have opened himself up to a primary challenge—when he opposed impeaching Donald Trump and compared the idea to a "lynching" on a call with fellow House Democrats on Friday. Just hours after his remarks were first reported, Schrader issued an apology, and the following day he came out in favor of impeachment, but the damage may have already been done.

In response to Schrader's comments, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, who represents a neighboring district, took the unusual step of publicly upbraiding her colleague. "Comparing a lynching to holding the President accountable is hurtful and insensitive and ignores the overt white supremacy on display during the insurrection Wednesday," she said. Of more immediate impact, Schrader's longtime consultant, Mark Wiener, immediately dropped the congressman as a client, saying, "Comparing the impeachment of a treasonous President who encouraged white supremacists to violently storm the Capitol to a 'lynching' is shameful and indefensible."

Campaign Action

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party in Polk County, which makes up about 10% of the 5th District, demanded that Schrader resign, citing not only his statements on impeachment but his vote last month against $2,000 COVID relief checks, which made him one of just two Democrats to oppose the measure (along with now-former Rep. Dan Lipinski). And Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba, who ran against Schrader from the left in last year's primary, said he'd give it another go and started soliciting donations online.

Gamba, however, didn't raise much money and lost by a wide 69-23 margin, which may explain why, in other comments, he indicated an openness to supporting an alternative option. One possibility would be state Rep. Paul Evans, who almost ran for this seat when it was last open in 2008 (a race ultimately won by Schrader) and whose legislative district is contained entirely in the 5th.

In fact, a great many Democratic legislators represent turf that overlaps with Schrader's, with state Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner and state Sen. Deb Patterson among the more prominent. In the House, aside from Evans, potential candidates could include Reps. Teresa Alonso Leon, Mark Meek, Karin Power, Rachel Prusak, and Andrea Salinas, among others.

One of Oregon's most prominent politicians also hails from the area: newly elected Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, whose former district in the state Senate overlapped partly with Schrader's House seat. With voting rights under siege, and as first in line to the governorship (Oregon has no lieutenant governor), Fagan likely has her sights elsewhere, but she'd be a formidable challenger.

Oregon's 5th has long been swingy territory, but it shifted noticeably to the left last year, supporting Joe Biden 54-44, according to Daily Kos Elections' calculations, after backing Hillary Clinton 48-44 in 2016. Schrader actually ran behind the top of the ticket, however, turning in a 52-45 win against an unheralded Republican foe. The district currently takes in Portland's southern suburbs and the Salem area but will likely be reconfigured in redistricting, particularly since the state is on track to add a sixth House seat.

Senate

AK-Sen: In response to last week's terrorist attack on the Capitol and Donald Trump's role in fomenting it, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski suggested she might leave the GOP, saying, "[I]f the Republican Party has become nothing more than the party of Trump, I sincerely question whether this is the party for me." Murkowski later clarified, though, that she would "[a]bsolutely, unequivocally not" join the Democratic caucus in the Senate.

If she did, however, become an independent, she'd still have a well-defined path to re-election in 2022 thanks to a new ballot measure Alaska voters passed in November that radically reforms how elections are conducted in the state. Under Measure 2, all candidates from all parties will now run together on a single primary ballot, with the top four vote-getters advancing to a November general election. Voters would then choose a winner from that quartet by means of an instant runoff, greatly reducing the chance of a spoiler effect and giving popular, relatively moderate politicians like Murkowski the chance to prevail even without a party banner.

PA-Sen: The same day he told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he was taking a "serious look" at a Senate bid, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman filed paperwork with the FEC—and he's already put his nascent campaign committee to good use. In a press release, Fetterman says he's raised $500,000 since his remarks first appeared in the Inquirer on Friday, via 15,000 contributions.

Meanwhile, former Republican Rep. Ryan Costello, who unsuccessfully tried to goad Fetterman with some feeble Twitter trash-talk about his own interest in a Senate bid, is reportedly "expected to form an exploratory committee" sometime "soon." Costello has set himself up for a difficult GOP primary, though, since he said he'd campaign on an explicitly anti-Trump platform: In response to an RNC spokesperson slamming Republicans for having "abandoned" Trump, Costello recently tweeted, "If I run I will literally take this entire bullshit head on."

Governors

CT-Gov: Connecticut Post columnist Dan Haar describes New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart, who last year confirmed she was considering another bid for governor, as a "likely Republican entrant" for the race to take on Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont in 2022, though we haven't heard directly from her since the election. Stewart briefly sought the GOP nod in 2018 but dropped out to run for lieutenant governor instead; however, she lost that primary 48-33 to state Sen. Joe Markley. Since her failed bids for higher office, she's sought to push the Connecticut GOP in a moderate direction in a bid to regain relevance and offered some very indirect criticism of Trump in the wake of last week's insurrection at the Capitol.

MA-Gov: While Republican incumbent's Charlie Baker's meager fundraising in recent months has fueled speculation that he'll retire in 2022, the Salem News reports the governor's $165,000 haul for December was his largest monthly total in over two years. Baker himself has not publicly announced if he'll seek a third term next year.

NM-Gov: Republican state Rep. Rebecca Dow says she's weighing a bid for governor but will not decide until after the conclusion of New Mexico's legislative session, which is scheduled to start next week and end on March 20. This is a very common formulation you'll hear from state lawmakers across the country as they contemplate running for higher office, so it's helpful to keep Ballotpedia's guide to session dates for all state legislatures bookmarked.

House

AL-05: Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey all but called for a primary challenge to Rep. Mo Brooks, a fellow Republican, after Brooks helped foment last week's violent assault on the Capitol, saying, "If the people of the 5th District believe their views are not being properly represented, then they need to express their disappointment directly to Congressman Brooks and, if necessary, hold him accountable at the ballot box."

Just before the invasion of the Capitol complex, Brooks incited the pro-Trump brigades that had descended on Washington, D.C. to overturn the results of the November election, telling them, "Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass." Brooks refused to back down following the violence, saying "I make no apology" for instigating the attacks and adding, "I call again for kicking that 'ass' all the way back to the communist dictatorships that 'ass' now worships."

In 2017, after Brooks launched an ultimately fruitless challenge to appointed GOP Sen. Luther Strange, some pissed-off establishment Republicans sought to primary Brooks in response and rallied around Army veteran Clayton Hinchman. Brooks wound up prevailing the following year, but by a relatively soft 61-39 margin. Hinchman hasn't said anything about a possible rematch, but during his race, he chided Brooks for preferencing "ideology over pragmatism," a criticism that suggests he might side with Ivey's views of the congressman.

NJ-02: A consultant for Democrat Amy Kennedy, who lost to Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew 52-46 in November, tells the New Jersey Globe that Kennedy hasn't yet considered whether to run again but says she's furious at the congressman for voting to overturn the results of the 2020 elections following Wednesday's assault on the Capitol by pro-Trump mobs that left five people dead. Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro, who himself was a potential candidate against Van Drew last year, also encouraged Kennedy to seek a rematch, though he didn't rule out a bid of his own should she decline.

The Globe mentions a bunch of other possible contenders, including Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, Cape May County Democratic Party chair Brendan Sciarra, Cumberland County Commissioner Joe Derella, and former union leader Richard Tolson. Montclair State University professor Brigid Callahan Harrison, who lost the Democratic primary to Kennedy 62-22, is another option. None of these would-be candidates have spoken about their interest yet.

NJ-05: Former Rep. Scott Garrett is all but guaranteed to lose his specially created job at the Securities and Exchange Commission when Joe Biden becomes president, and remarkably, the New Jersey Globe reports that some fellow Republicans think he could make a comeback bid for his old seat. Garrett himself didn't rule out the possibility when contacted by the Globe, saying only, "I appreciate your phone call. I am no longer a public figure."

But unless Republicans hit the redistricting jackpot, Garrett is unlikely to find himself at the top of the GOP's wishlist. Garrett was ousted after seven terms in Congress by Democrat Josh Gottheimer after his Wall Street allies abandoned him thanks to his virulent anti-gay rhetoric, and he was so unpopular with his former colleagues that the Senate refused to advance his nomination when Donald Trump named him to run the Export-Import Bank—a federal agency that Garrett had long sought to abolish.

Garrett later wound up with an even better-paying position (at $215,000 a year) in the office of the general counsel at the SEC, which Politico reported had been set up for him alone. Garrett was hired without any sort of competitive process, or even having to submit a job application, even though the commission was in the midst of a hiring freeze. As the Globe notes, though, that plum gig is unlikely to survive the coming Biden housecleaning.

NM-01: Former state Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn announced last week he would run for this Albuquerque-area seat if Rep. Deb Haaland is confirmed as Joe Biden's secretary of the interior. While Albuquerque Journal notes Dunn plans to run as an independent, he has spent time as a member of both the Republican and Libertarian parties.

Dunn was the GOP nominee for state land commissioner in 2014, narrowly turning back Democratic incumbent Ray Powell 50.07-49.93. In 2018, Dunn became a Libertarian and sought the party's nomination for Senate that year. After he won the nomination, however, he decided to drop out of the race (former Gov. Gary Johnson was named his replacement and took 15% of the vote).

The GOP is already a longshot in a seat that backed Biden by a 60-37 spread, but Dunn's presence could make things even more difficult for Team Red. This would represent the inverse of the last special election this district hosted in 1998, when a Green Party candidate took 13% of the vote, allowing Republican Heather Wilson to narrowly win.

Legislatures

AK State House: The Alaska Supreme Court has rejected a challenge by former state Rep. Lance Pruitt, who as minority leader had been the most senior Republican in the state House, to his 11-vote loss in the November elections, upholding Democrat Liz Snyder as the winner. The decision confirms that Democrats and their allies will have control over 20 seats in the 40-member chamber as the legislature gears up to start its new session on Jan. 19, though they'll need at least one more Republican defection to take control.

Mayors

Boston, MA Mayor: City Councilor Michelle Wu earned an endorsement on Saturday from Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Wu was one of Warren's students at Harvard Law and later worked on Warren's successful 2012 Senate campaign.

A breakdown of all 126 seditious Republicans who signed on for a coup d’état

When Texas sued to overturn four other states’ election results in the hopes of installing illegitimate, two-time popular vote loser, and white supremacist mediocrity Donald Trump into a second presidential term, they exposed how many elected officials are straight-up wannabe oligarchs. The fact that even in the upside-down world we are living in, with the hijacked ultra conservative Supreme Court in place, most everybody knew there was little chance of the Supreme Court stepping in and hearing the case, which should tip one off to how far afield this maneuver is. It’s the kind of thing that most people would rather not put their name on since it is the sort of thing people should go to jail for—if laws concerning sedition and treason are real laws.

Many of the people on this list came into office during the tea party wave of 2010. If you don’t remember what the tea party is, it’s sort of like if you looked at the American Revolution for independence and democracy and your takeaway was … being a racist asshole. Another way to look at it is if you looked at the Civil War in the United States and boiled it down to … being a racist asshole. Let’s make sure we remember the 126 fascists who signed on for this attack on American democracy, and maybe even learn a smidgen more about them and their histories of being terrible people. A tip of the hat goes to community members republicinsanity and Carmeninvermont—republicinsanity for the Crazy/Stupid Republican of the Day series that is frequently sourced here, and Carmeninvermont for the easy-to-read and understand list of GOP anti-democracy Republicans who want to overthrow our elections process in order to hoist up the most mediocre man in American history.

Here is a nice list of the 126 Republican officials who whether charged with sedition and treason or not, are guilty of trying to, at the very least, thwart the will of the American people and overturn our democratically elected president:

Mike Johnson of Louisiana’s 4th Congressional District made small headlines this past summer when his attempts to “gotcha” assistant U.S. attorney in Maryland Aaron Zelinsky for not appearing in person during a pandemic blew up in his face. Zelinsky, who had a newborn at home, explained that he had spoken with his family’s doctor and they thought potentially exposing the newborn to a pandemic wasn’t a good move.

Gary Palmer of Alabama’s 6th Congressional District is one of those conservative think tankers whose big ideas include: attacking same sex marriage and nonbinary public restrooms. Big thinker.

Steve Scalise of Louisiana’s 1st Congressional District is a storied hypocrite and swamp creature of epic proportions.

Jim Jordan of Ohio’s 4th Congressional District is a person, so cowardly and so craven, he has built a career on his ability to ignore some of the most heinous crimes happening under his watch. Jordan’s act of sedition comes down lower on his list of sins than most others on this list.

Ralph Abraham of Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District is a shoot from the hip bigot with ideas that were last considered fresh in 1770.

Rick W. Allen of Georgia’s 12th Congressional District has one truly great claim to fame, he “disgusted” some Republicans once upon a time by reading anti-LGBTQ passages from the Bible. Different times. Different times.

James R. Baird of Indiana’s 4th Congressional District was attacked with an insensitive and offensive mailer, by an out of state conservative super PAC in 2018, during his Republican primary. He seemed pretty offended at the time, but I guess he’s decided to let all of that go in order to overthrow the government.

Jim Banks of Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District spent the early weeks of the global pandemic to help pen a nonbonding resolution blaming China for COVID-19. That’s what he did to help Americans.

Jack Bergman of Michigan’s 1st Congressional District blamed the press for the domestic terrorist shooting that injured Rep. Steve Scalise.

Andy Biggs of Arizona’s 5th Congressional District didn't go so far as to call Democrats who didn’t applaud during Donald Trump’s State of the Union “treasonous” but did believe they were “disrespectful” and that they might have to answer to God. He’s also had to leave public events after being booed offstage for saying that climate change wasn’t settled science.

Gus Bilirakis of Florida’s 12th Congressional District came into the office he sort of inherited from his father. He’s been a good anti-women’s rights Republican since 2006 and pretty much does what he’s told to do. And he’s in Florida where Republicans tell you to do the real bottom of the barrel stuff.

Dan Bishop of North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District came into office after actual election fraudster Republican Mark Harris had to step away due to controversy over … election fraud. Bishop is best known for writing North Carolina’s anti-trans “bathroom bill.”

Mike Bost of Illinois’s 12th Congressional District is famously prone to outrageous outbursts. He’s also known for cowering away from constituents when asked about his attempts to rip away millions of people’s health insurance. 

Kevin Brady of Texas’s 8th Congressional District was that diminutive bald white guy that got a nice grin going in the Rose garden for when the Republican Party gave away billions to the rich in their tax scam. That’s his great achievement.

Mo Brooks of Alabama’s 5th Congressional District read Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf on the floor of the House in a twisted attempt to skewer the Democratic officials over their pursuit of an investigation into Trump’s campaign ties to Russia. He did this on the heels of calling for the National Guard to “be allowed to use whatever force is necessary to secure that border.”

Ken Buck of Colorado’s 4th Congressional District has faced questions over whether he pressured another party official to submit incorrect election results and then blew through some RNC money to make that fraud work. To call Buck a scumbag is offensive to bags filled with scum.

Ted Budd of North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District is one of the Republicans who signed on to this bit of treason while in quarantine, after announcing he had tested positive for COVID-19.

Tim Burchett of Tennessee’s 2nd Congressional District believes in Bigfoot and eating roadkill instead of providing better social services.

Michael C. Burgess of Texas’s 26th Congressional District is the kind of guy that called for President Barack Obama to be impeached over Benghazi and then became suspiciously silent when Donald Trump was impeached for his law breaking and corruption-filled campaign.

Bradley Byrne of Alabama’s 1st Congressional District took time away from releasing racist attack ads to sign on for fascism!

Ken Calvert of California’s 42nd Congressional District is a famous “family values” hypocrite (see busted with pants around his ankles, with a sex worker who was not his wife).

Earl L. “Buddy” Carter of Georgia’s 1st Congressional District. I couldn’t find much on Buddy, but I do know that he doesn’t believe in democracy.

Ben Cline of Virginia’s 6th Congressional District was one of the dozen security threats with feet that breached national security for a hack partisan performance piece, led by Florida man Matt Gaetz.

Michael Cloud of Texas’s 27th Congressional District owes his seat to the fact that repeatedly disgraceful Blake Farenthold had to leave office, and Republicans have successfully repressed the vote in his district.

Mike Conaway of Texas’s 11th Congressional District knows a ton about stealing elections as he famously said, in 2017, that Democratic Sen. Harry Reid and other Democrats had enlisted “Mexican soap opera stars, singers and entertainers who had immense influence in those communities into Las Vegas, to entertain, get out the vote and so forth. Those are foreign actors, foreign people, influencing the vote in Nevada.”

Rick Crawford of Arkansas’s 1st Congressional District is maybe best known for his opposition to taking down Confederate monuments saying it was akin to Holocaust denialism and would lead to the closure of Holocaust museums. There’s not much else to say about that.

Dan Crenshaw of Texas’s 2nd Congressional District is a dirtbag who lies and pretends he isn’t just a groveling McConnell follower.

Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida’s 25th Congressional District has the distinction of being the first member of Congress to test positive for COVID-19. He will also be remembered as one of those Republicans who refused to speak to Donald Trump’s describing countries as “shitholes.” Courage is something these men do not have.

Jeff Duncan of South Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District has enjoyed trying, and failing, to do away with important census data, by attempting to have it legislated out of being collected. Too much thinking for Mr. Duncan, I guess.

Neal P. Dunn of Florida’s 2nd Congressional District has made sure to tell news outlets how worried he was and is for children separated from their loved ones due to Trump and the Republican Party’s zero tolerance immigration policies. Not surprisingly, he’s done absolutely nothing to fix this inhumane practice.

Tom Emmer of Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District has complained about constituents wanting stuff like healthcare protections and he’s tried in vain to weaken the Endangered Species Act. He’s never been particularly interested in a Democracy and doesn’t plan on starting now.

Ron Estes of Kansas’s 4th Congressional District literally walked in a swamp in the hopes of riding his way through a tight election. Sadly, Estes never left that swamp, he seems to have just grown gills.

Drew Ferguson of Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District has a social media team that can’t tell the difference between World War II American soldiers and Nazis. True story!

Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District is the kind of guy that takes a question about the many outrageous attacks made publicly by Donald Trump and answers it by blaming Nancy Pelosi for being mean. But in Fleischmann’s defense, he’s been peddling the election fraud fantasy publicly, with zero evidence, since his lord and liege Trump told him to.

Bill Flores of Texas’s 17th Congressional District has made sure to point out that he would ignore the calls from his constituents in regards to Trump’s problematic relationship with Russia and instead make claims that same sex marriage led to civil unrest in Baltimore. The civil unrest in Baltimore connected to the death of Freddie Gray in police custody and the lack of justice he ultimately received.

Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District got off his high horse to finally openly expose himself as the right-wing, batshit bananas hack that he’s always been and pretended not to be.

Virginia Foxx of North Carolina’s 5th Congressional District took time away from analogizing the regulation of for-profit colleges with the Holocaust to practice some good old Nazi fascism and overthrow our Democracy. She also once tried to argue that the murder of Matthew Shepard was not a hate crime. In fact, she said the premise was a “hoax.”

Russ Fulcher of Idaho’s 1st Congressional District is a climate denier … as of 2018. He also claims that God wants Idahoians to mine the ground and log away the trees in the state.

Matt Gaetz of Florida’s 1st Congressional District is this guy. What can be said about Matt Gaetz that hasn’t been written in excrement on the soles of Donald Trump and Sean Hannity’s tiny shoes

Greg Gianforte, governor-elect of Montana, assaulted a reporter for asking tough questions and then lied about it to police.

Bob Gibbs of Ohio’s 7th Congressional District is the classic overly emotional conservative white male politician that uses hyperbole but demands that people take that incongruous hyperbole as fact.

Louie Gohmert of Texas’s 1st Congressional District is an unintelligent person but he is also a relatively powerful and disturbingly racist and unintelligent person.

Lance Gooden of Texas’s 5th Congressional District has been in the pocket of a Texas hotelier for years and owes most of his financial support to him. In fact, Gooden is in business with millionaire Monty Bennett and it seems that Bennett is the only person in the state of Texas that Gooden feels he needs to answer to. Gooden’s one claim to fame over the past couple of years was coming up with a plan to DNA test all new immigrants at the border, something that is problematic for about 1 million reasons.

Sam Graves of Missouri’s 6th Congressional District is the kind of guy that runs on homophobia.

Mark Green of Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District is also a homophobe with a history of trying to create laws that would allow for the wholesale discrimination of LGBTQ folks in businesses throughout the Volunteer State.

Michael Guest of Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District is on the House Committee on Ethics. Drink that in: a guy that signed on for a coup d’etat represents Republican ethics in the House. Guest is also a supporter of Confederate fashion-lover and general old-timey racist Cindy Hyde-Smith.

Andy Harris of Maryland’s 1st Congressional District is a person who ran on a campaign against the Affordable Healthcare Act and then demanded to know why his government-sponsored healthcare didn’t take effect until after one month in office. And his dad was a Nazi-supporter—not like a neo-Nazi supporter, but an actual Germany during World War II Nazi supporter. Hubris is too nice a word for what Andy Harris is about.

Vicky Hartzler of Missouri’s 4th Congressional District is really most famous for being an anti-gay activist. Imagine if that was your claim to fame?

Kevin Hern of Oklahoma’s 1st Congressional District is directly connected to arguably the single most corrupt official in recent Oklahoma history, Scott Pruitt. He’s also been a big promoter of superspreader COVID-19 events.

Clay Higgins of Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District is a former Louisiana police officer who lost his job for what would be considered criminal behavior if he hadn’t been on the unjust side of the thin blue line. He’s also a scary racist fascist who believes in authoritarian rule.

Trey Hollingsworth of Indiana’s 9th Congressional District believes that the hundreds of thousands of Americans dead from COVID-19 are the “lesser of these two evils.” The other evil in that sentence is “our way of life as Americans.”

Richard Hudson of North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District is your run-of-the-mill, anti-women’s rights, Obama birther conspiracy theorist, demands drug testing in exchange for food assistance Republican. 

Bill Huizenga of Michigans 2nd Congressional District has been investigated for corruption and has gone so far as to try and get rid of corruption laws that might conflict with his … corruption.

Bill Johnson of Ohio’s 6th Congressional District is a big Islamophobe GOP official. That seems to be his main strength. Like many of the people on this list, Johnson came into office on the ultra-conservative tea party wave of 2010. 

John Joyce of Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District is new to the scene, but we now know one thing about his political ideology.

Fred Keller of Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District barely understands his own elections, let alone national ones.

Mike Kelly of Pennsylvanias 16th Congressional District has been on board this election fraud train since suing to have Black people’s votes in Pennsylvania nullified.

Trent Kelly of Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District gave his in-person seal of approval on the Trump administration’s family separation practices.

Steve King of Iowa’s 4th Congressional District is a lame duck racist who would sign anything so long as the devil told him to.

David Kustoff of Tennessee’s 8th Congressional District’s biggest claim to fame is being a sort of poor man’s Tom Cotton.

Darin LaHood of Illinois’s 18th Congressional District took time away from trying to govern women’s bodies with his Bible to sign off on treason!

Doug LaMalfa of California’s 1st Congressional District has been promoting doubt about the Democratic process, with zero evidence, since the beginning of November. LaMalfa is a mixture of painfully pathetic xenophobia along with quoting the bible to deny climate science.

Doug Lamborn of Colorado’s 5th Congressional District is the guy that continued to force his staff to work in the close proximity of his office during the current pandemic, and then reportedly told his staff not to tell their roommates about COVID-19 symptoms they were having after coming into contact with someone with COVID-19. Think about that.

Robert E. Latta of Ohio’s 5th Congressional District has magically increased his wealth while in Washington by a reported 238%, and while he isn’t the wealthiest Ohio Republican, he’s made the biggest jump in wealth since entering office. Strange!

Debbie Lesko of Arizona’s 8th Congressional District once said that the dozens of sexual assaults alleged against Donald Trump should be investigated and then promptly forgot all about that as she co-sponsored a bill that would require women to prove to their employers that they took birth control for reasons other than … birth control. 

Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri’s 3rd Congressional District’s main function in the Republican Party is to figure out ways to allow payday lenders to launder their money. 

Kenny Marchant of Texas’s 24th Congressional District is retiring and throwing democracy under the bus as he walks out the door.

Roger Marshall of Kansas’s 1st Congressional District is the kind of guy that runs away from answering questions and participating in debates while also plagiarizing other people’s campaigns, because he has no ethical standards.

Tom McClintock of California’s 4th Congressional District is the kind of guy that was still hanging out with right-wing criminal and strange lying machine Dinesh D’Souza. D’Souza is one of those guys that almost makes you feel bad for being a human being.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington’s 5th Congressional District is a person that literally said she had made "protecting those with pre-existing conditions” a “priority” during her time in office. She voted to repeal those very protections nine times—as in one less than 10 times.

Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania’s 9th Congressional District has called the Postal Service’s dismantling by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy a “fabricated problem being pushed by Democrats.”

Carol D. Miller of West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District has the distinction of being the only new woman Republican congressional member in the 2018 blue wave election cycle. Miller wants to make sure the other fascists in her party know that she, too, can be a fascist!

John Moolenaar of Michigan’s 4th Congressional District’s only claim to fame has been to vote against calling Donald Trump’s racist statement against “the Squad” racist. This makes John Moolenaar a racist.

Alex X. Mooney of West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District was one of the dunderheaded crew of Matt Gaetz-led legislators breaking the law and threatening the country’s national security in the hopes of being on camera

Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District doesn’t know how many branches of government there are, nor does he understand how government works. He’s clearly not alone in this.

Gregory Murphy of North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District told the public that the only reason Sen. Kamala Harris was chosen to be Joe Biden’s running mate was because of “her color and her race.” He finished that thought by wondering aloud if this was “how we pick our leaders now in America??” I guess Murphy is hoping that we just pick a white pseudo-billionaire to make important decisions for a majority of people that do not want him to?

Dan Newhouse of Washington’s 4th Congressional District is one of the many Republican officials that recently contracted COVID-19.

Ralph Norman of South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District brandished a loaded weapon during a constituent breakfast and placed it on the table in front of people discussing gun safety.

Scott Perry of Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District once argued that God, as in the Judeo-Christian deity of the Bible, was an environmental polluter like, say, Duke Energy.

Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania’s 14th Congressional District believes that the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police means that taxpayers should invest more money into police departments. He’s also a guy that wrote a forward for an incredibly hate-filled book, and then said he hadn’t read the book, even though his forward was about reading the writer’s hate-filled work. U-S-A!

Tom Rice of South Carolina’s 7th Congressional District spent weeks in the state legislature refusing to wear a mask indoors and then announced that he and his wife and his son had all tested positive for COVID-19.  

John Rose of Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District’s big claim to fame was being one of the many Republicans, at different times, to block disaster relief help for Puerto Rico.

David Rouzer of North Carolina’s 7th Congressional District is a Trump defender with all of the general Republican bonafides we have come to expect: tax breaks for the rich, voting against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, and being a part of the Gaetz impeachment crash party.

John Rutherford of Florida’s 4th Congressional District has frequently been dragged on Twitter for the most racist and idiotic attacks on Democratic women of color.

Austin Scott of Georgia’s 8th Congressional District recently tested positive for COVID-19.

Mike Simpson of Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District took his head from out of his own ass long enough to sign on for fascism.

Adrian Smith of Nebraska’s 3rd Congressional District sort of disappeared on his constituents, just  like the rest of the Republican Party during this year’s pandemic.

Jason Smith of Missouri’s 8th Congressional District’s great moment of cleverness was when he attacked the ACA for taxing tanning salons, saying Democrats might as well “tax the sun.” He also spun it as a tax on women. Of course, Smith had a long history of attacking women in the legislature by trying to defund Planned Parenthood, as well as attacking children by voting against Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program funds.

Ross Spano of Florida’s 15th Congressional District took time away from his campaign finance scandal, and losing his primary, to support another one-term corrupt politician.

Elise Stefanik of New York’s 21st Congressional District is something of an easily verifiable liar. Let’s all look forward to the day, likely a few weeks from now, when Stefanik tells a local news reporter that she never supported the wholesale destruction of the democratic process.

Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District is a big Second Amendment fella who has said things in the past like “You know, the Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting. It’s about safety. If someone is coming into my house in the middle of the night to hurt my family, I want as many bullets as possible.” I guess he needs all the bullets to shoot holes in Democratically casted votes?

Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District knows lots about election fraud and election law violations as he has been tied to all kinds of under-the-table, dirty, and likely illegal tricks to win his position in Wisconsin’s legislature.

William Timmons of South Carolina’s 4th Congressional District is most recently remembered for defending Trump’s racism by saying everybody is being called racist and so nobody is racist. Trying to get rid of Black Americans’ votes wholesale is a great example of an attempt at systemizing racism. Just a thought.

Ann Wagner of Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District is one of the legislators in Congress with the least amount of votes on actual legislation. I guess she’s lazy? She was one of the first Republican officials to stand in front of microphones and tell Americans that based on her high level of knowledge, from “multiple, multiple briefings at the federal level,” she knew—as of March 7—that the United States was at a very “low risk” of having a COVID-19 pandemic. Ann Wagner should be disqualified from doing anything but eating oatmeal.

Tim Walberg of Michigan’s 7th Congressional District is one of those “family values” Republicans who wants to take away everyone else’s rights using the federal government. 

Michael Waltz of Florida’s 6th Congressional District is already having newspapers who endorsed him apologize for supporting sedition. This is one of those “never Trumpers” who very quickly began licking the boots of Donald Trump the moment Trump came into power.

Randy Weber of Texas’s 14th Congressional District replaced Ron Paul in Congress. There’s not much more that needs to be said. A second-rate version of Ron Paul, while better than the fifth-rate version of Paul that is Rand, is still worse than having an old can of Tab sitting in a seat and being your representative.

Daniel Webster of Florida’s 11th Congressional District is … so much Florida!

Brad Wenstrup of Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District just followed in the footsteps of Jim “I-turn-the-other-way-when-being-told-about-the-wholesale-molestation-of-young-people-I’m-supposed-to-be-in-charge-of” Jordan.

Bruce Westerman of Arkansas’s 4th Congressional District has sat on top of a pile of logging industry money for years and shockingly (read: “not shockingly”) has been a lead sponsor on some super anti-climate, pro-logging bits of legislation that attempt to hand our trees over to private industry for profit.

Roger Williams of Texas’ 25th Congressional District is the guy that tried to pressure a bank to help out his flailing oil investor donor. Swamp stuff.

Joe Wilson of South Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District loves to vote for American wars but not for healthcare funding for American veterans of said wars. He’s almost a perfect Republican! He’s also in a district that’s drawn deeply red and acts like the petty little emperor he wants to be.

Rob Wittman of Virginia’s 1st Congressional District was able to fly mostly under the radar for his attempts at profiteering off of the COVID-19 pandemic when he bought into a pharmaceutical company which was producing an antiviral drug that hoped to help with COVID-19 treatments, and at the exact same time emailing his constituents that there was no coronavirus pandemic in the United States, and you didn’t need to worry about it. You know, like a real piece of shit.

Ron Wright of Texas’s 6th Congressional District is a relatively new congressman, whose views on school mass shootings include calling for public hangings as a solution. Not working on the gun thing, just hanging people.

Ted S. Yoho of Florida’s 3rd Congressional District is the soon-to-be retiring congressman from Florida who famously “didn’t attend one single deposition” as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee when Congress was investigating Trump’s Ukrainian bribery. He’s also the sweetie pie who, in a confrontation with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez resorted to calling her a “fucking bitch,” because his ability to debate matches the size of his courage.

Lee Zeldin of New York’s 1st Congressional District is best known for his intense Islamophobia and his unerring and idiotic support of the Trump administration from Day One.

Remember these (mostly white) men (and a couple of white women). They are the people who hope to be a middle-management fascistic vanguard in an oligarchy for the rich. Share your own stories about any of the people listed above down below in the comments.

Happy New Year!

Watch right winger give out offer code for MyPillow during ‘StopTheSteal’ rally in Washington, D.C.

The Trump administration is a swamp. The great con that Trump was able to to perpetrate on the Americans who voted for him was that his political outsider credentials—which were and remain real—would allow him to clean up the big money corruption developed and fostered predominantly by the Republican Party in Washington, D.C. The reality has been that not only has Trump further swampified the government, he’s also brought in new con men and women into the government—or more realistically, brought around the government to leech off of. These are people like Mike Lindell and David Harris. Lindell you might remember as the MyPillow guy who sort of makes up a lot of right-wing media advertising dollars. He’s a shameless mad hatter pushing unproven COVID-19 remedies and alien-level conspiracy theories about the election.

David Harris is a lesser known former vitamin huckster who rebranded himself as a Black conservative and received a big boost from Trump in popularity. His angle is that he’s conservative and he’s Black and there’s a financial niche market to be found in super racist right-wing circles if you can serve the purpose of making right-wingers feel less racist than they are. Harris was highlighted as one of the top “superspreaders” of Trump’s false election misinformation by The New York Times in the weeks after Election Day. On Sunday, Harris was in Washington, D.C. for one of the “Stop The Steal” Trump rallies of people trying to overthrow the U.S. government. He spoke on stage in front of others, like the Mike “MyPillow” Lindell. It turns out that before Harris went into his speech, which mostly consisted of a long-winded recitation of a Bible passage, he had some shilling to do.

One of the people helping to fund these rallies is Lindell, and Harris wanted to make sure the audience gave Lindell the applause and recognition he deserves; being a scumbag who wants to overthrow the government takes money and time and conning. Before Lindell went up to bluster away relatively incoherently about how all of the Biden votes are proof that Donald Trump has more votes (yes, that was the basic statement by MyPillow man on Sunday), Harris had some business to do for what we call in the entertainment business the money.:

DAVID HARRIS: A special thank you to the cosponsor that really helped fund a lot of this. Mr. MyPillow himself, Mike Lindell! Amazing patriot, loves this country, loves us, loves the president, and the president loves him. And I gotta tell you I love his codes, right? I love his pillows, I love his sheets, I love his mattress topper, and I love his codes because you know what, the Kraken has been released. You are a part of the Kraken. So for the best deals to support this patriot, use the code “Kraken” at mypillow.com. He does not talk about a lot of what goes through behind the scenes, but he goes through a lot of hell for standing up for us.

It’s very important to note here how Harris began by saying, “And I gotta tell you I love his codes, right?” before remembering that he needed to do the whole make sure to mention the things Lindell sells (i.e., sheets and bed toppers), and then mention the codes. It’s one of the things you learn doing live readings for ads. There are a few things you need to hit and if you nail it, you make it seem like you aren’t doing an ad. Usually you just have to remember to mention all of the things in the right order. Harris does a fine job selling that MyPillow merch. We are just weeks away from their discount promotional codes going from “Kraken” to things like “IAMASucker” and “PleaseTakeMyMoney.”

After the day’s events, Proud Boys and other racists from the day’s “peaceful protests” went on to enact seemingly state-sanctioned violence against Americans who are interested in protecting our democracy from ethno-state insurgents and domestic terrorists like Trump and friends.

Morning Digest: Another suburban surge saw Biden flip key Michigan district that Romney won in 2012

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

Leading Off

Pres-by-CD: Our project to calculate the 2020 presidential results for all 435 congressional districts nationwide heads to Michigan, which returned to the Democratic column after another competitive race. You can find our complete data set here, which we're updating continuously as the precinct-level election returns we need for our calculations become available.

After supporting Donald Trump 47.6-47.4 four years ago, Michigan went for Joe Biden by a wider 51-48 margin, and he improved on Hillary Clinton's performance in 12 of 14 districts, with the only exceptions coming in the two bluest seats. Biden carried the same five districts that had supported Clinton plus Democratic Rep. Haley Stevens' 11th District in the northwestern Detroit suburbs. Trump, meanwhile, carried the other eight constituencies he'd taken in 2016. You can find a larger version of our map here.

Since it's the lone flip, we'll start with the 11th District, which shifted from 50-45 Trump to 52-47 Biden. This seat also went for Mitt Romney 52-47 back in 2012, which makes it the first Romney/Trump/Biden district we've found anywhere in the country. Major outside groups on both sides spent a serious amount of money late in the campaign in the race between Stevens and Republican Eric Esshaki, but Biden's victory helped Stevens prevail 50-48.

Campaign Action

While Democrats had no trouble holding the other five Biden seats, Rep. Dan Kildee's 5th District was once again competitive at the presidential level. This constituency, which is home to Flint, Saginaw, and Bay City, shrunk from 61-38 Obama to 49.8 to 45.5 Clinton, but while Democrats hoped that it would snap back in 2020, Biden won by an almost identical 4.3-point margin (51.4 to 47.1) this time. Congressional Republicans, though, were unable to take advantage of the area's drift to the right. Former state Rep. Tim Kelly raised very little, and Kildee handily beat him 54-42.

A different district that had trended the wrong way for Democrats between 2012 and 2016, however, did return to form this year. The 9th District in the northern Detroit suburbs had narrowed from 57-42 Obama to 51-44 Clinton, but Biden carried it by an Obama-esque 56-43 margin; Rep. Andy Levin, meanwhile, won his second term 58-38. Biden also won Rep. Debbie Dingell's 12th District in the Ann Arbor area 64-34, while he took close to 80% of the vote in both the 13th and 14th Districts in the Detroit area, which are respectively held by Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Brenda Lawrence.

We'll move on to the eight Trump seats, starting with the only one to elect a Democrat to the House this year. The 8th District in the Lansing region did support Trump again, but his tight 50-49 win was a considerable drop from his 51-44 showing in 2016. Democrat Elissa Slotkin flipped this seat two years ago 51-47 after a very expensive race, and she won by that very same margin this year, albeit in a contest that attracted far less outside money.

Biden narrowed the gap in a few other districts, but his improved performance wasn't enough to cost Team Red control of any of their seats. The 3rd District in the Grand Rapids area went for Trump 51-47 after backing him by a stronger 52-42 margin; Republican Peter Meijer, though, won the race to succeed retiring Republican-turned-Libertarian Rep. Justin Amash by beating Democrat Hillary Scholten 53-47 after a costly race.

The 6th District in southwestern Michigan, meanwhile, supported Trump 51-47, which was also a drop from his 51-43 victory in 2016. Veteran Republican Rep. Fred Upton, however, again ran well ahead of the ticket and won his 18th term 56-40.

Trump carried the remaining five GOP-held seats by double digits, though notably, his margin of victory was weaker in all of them than it was in 2016. Rep. Jack Bergman's 1st District in the northern part of the state went for Trump 58-41 four years after backing him 58-37. Meanwhile, Rep. Bill Huizenga's 2nd District along the western Michigan coast backed the top of the ticket 55-43 compared to Trump's 56-38 spread last time. Things were more stable in the 4th, 7th, and 10th Districts, but Biden's improved share of the vote across the board was key to his victory.

Republicans have enjoyed complete control over the redistricting process in Michigan the last three rounds, but this time will be different. In 2018, voters passed an amendment to the state constitution that creates an independent commission to craft new congressional and legislative boundaries.

Georgia Runoffs

GA-Sen-A, GA-Sen-B: The New York Times' Shane Goldmacher has shared some new data that vividly illustrates just how big the gap can be in the prices paid for advertising by federal campaigns versus outside groups.

While the specifics are a bit technical, federal law guarantees something called the "lowest unit charge" to candidates, ensuring that they pay the lowest possible rates to air ads on TV and radio. These rules do not apply to third parties, however, so super PACs and the like have to pay full freight.

Goldmacher's data shows Jon Ossoff's campaign paying just $6,000 to run a spot on Jeopardy! on the Atlanta-based station WXIA. For the same program during the same time period, however, a Democratic super PAC called Georgia Honor (run by the Senate Majority PAC) has to shell out $25,000 per ad. As Goldmacher notes, a 4-to-1 gulf like this isn't necessarily the norm, but this example starkly shows how all ad dollars are not equal.

For this reason, advertising professionals instead prefer to look at a metric known as "gross ratings points," which again are technical but, in broad terms, describe how often an advertiser can expect a particular ad to be seen by its intended audience. Another useful concept is "share of voice," which refers to the proportion of total advertising run by one side or the other.

Of course, all of this is a prelude to … even more ads! Here are the latest:

  • An NRSC spot says that a victory for Ossoff and Raphael Warnock would empower "Nancy Pelosi, AOC, and Bernie Sanders." The focus on both candidates is a bit unusual, as most attack ads so far from both sides have devoted themselves to hitting just one target.
  • Warnock features a man who lost his wife to COVID. Heartbreakingly, he says, "It shoulda been me, instead of her. That's just how much I cared about her." He blasts Sen. Kelly Loeffler: "Kelly Loeffler sold her stock and told us not to worry."
  • A woman praises Loeffler for helping her make sure her unemployment benefits got extended. Loeffler has opposed legislation in Congress to extend unemployment benefits for all Americans during the pandemic.
  • A different woman, identified as a small business owner, thanks Loeffler for offering unspecified help to keep her business open.
  • A Spanish-language ad from Ossoff attacks Sen. David Perdue for supporting Trump's policies to separate migrant children from their parents.
  • A Spanish ad from Warnock emphasizes his religious faith, including the fact that he's now pastor at the same church MLK once presided over.

senate

AZ-Sen: If you had an enormous high school filled with warring cliques that all hated each other, only instead of students it was filled with GOP politicians, and instead of lunchroom supremacy actual lives were at stake, that would go a long way toward explaining the embarrassing explosion of infighting among Arizona Republicans. Beyond that, we don't dare summarize the Arizona Republic's masterful explication of this absurd food fight, but there are a couple of tidbits about prospective 2022 candidates who could take on Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly that we can yank out of the mess.

Most notably, reporters Ronald Hansen and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez say that state GOP chair Kelli Ward, an extreme lunatic who has already lost two Senate bids, could potentially run once more. Ward, a former state senator who achieved infamy in 2014 for hosting a town hall to air conspiracy theories about so-called "chemtrails," ran against Sen. John McCain in the Republican primary in 2016 and held him to a surprisingly soft 51-40 margin.

Soon thereafter, she issued a challenge to Arizona's other senator at the time, Jeff Flake, ahead of the 2018 midterms. But Flake, under constant assault from Donald Trump, opted to retire after just a single term, and Republicans rallied around then-Rep. Martha McSally, who beat Ward 55-28 (Ward may have split the crazytown vote with the notorious Joe Arpaio, who took 18%).

It turns out, though, that losing two Senate races is not the end of the line for an Arizona Republican (McSally, take heart!). The following year, Ward was selected to run the state Republican Party and quickly brought the organization into disrepute. Fundraising nosedived while Ward made headlines for fomenting resistance to pandemic safety measures, even encouraging protesters to pretend to be frontline healthcare workers by donning medical scrubs. 2020 ended, of course, with Arizona going blue at the presidential level for the first time since 1996—and sending two Democrats to the Senate for the first time since 1953.

Hansen and Wingett Sanchez also mention another, more recent Senate loser as a potential GOP candidate, businessman Daniel McCarthy, who was treated to a 75-25 thumpin' by McSally in this year's primary. McCarthy, at the time 34 years old, compared himself to Jesus on the campaign trail ("I am qualified for the job. Jesus was 33 when he saved the world") and called Maricopa County's mask mandate "a communist insurrection." Like Ward, McCarthy's also been involved in the recent cafeteria antics of the Arizona GOP—but again, for that, you'll need to read the Republic.

FL-Sen, FL-Gov: Former Rep. David Jolly, a Republican-turned-independent who's been a vocal Trump critic for years, says he's considering a bid for Senate or governor as an independent. Jolly seems at least somewhat realistic about his chances, saying, "I do think we could mount a viable campaign. But viable and winning look very different and require a lot of money."

At the same time, he seems to think that the one recent Florida election that featured a strong third-party candidate somehow bolsters his case. The Tampa Bay Times' Steve Contorno reports that as "evidence of his path, Jolly points to the 2010 U.S. Senate race," an open-seat contest in which Republican Marco Rubio defeated another Republican-cum-independent, then-Gov. Charlie Crist, 49-30, with Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek taking just 20%. With Democrats certain to run a credible challenger of their own in 2022, it's hard to understand why Jolly believes he could do any better against Rubio than Crist did.

GA-Sen-A, GA-Sen-B: The Republican pollster Trafalgar Group has released a new survey of Georgia's runoffs, but after much deliberation, we've decided that we aren't going to write about it or include it in our database due to its founder's public embrace of conspiracy theories. Barring further developments, we will maintain this policy for all future Trafalgar polling.

Trafalgar has earned headlines over the past few years for its unorthodox methodology, which seeks to compensate for what the firm's principal, Robert Cahaly, has referred to as "social desirability bias"—the alleged propensity of so-called "shy Trump voters" to tell pollsters whom they really support. While Trafalgar's approach made it one of the few firms to forecast a Trump win in 2016, it performed poorly in 2018, and its final polls also predicted a Trump victory this year (by carrying Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Arizona).

Other pollsters have sharply questioned Trafalgar's methods, with one political science professor telling the New York Times, "If somebody's not transparent you can generally assume they're crap." That same article reported that Trafalgar is "considered far too shadowy by other pollsters to be taken seriously" and noted that Cahaly's bare-bones methodology page "reads like a vague advertisement of its services and explains that its polls actively confront social desirability bias, without giving specifics as to how."

These issues have concerned us for some time, but ultimately, our decision is motivated by Cahaly's acceptance and amplification of election conspiracy theories. Cahaly baselessly claimed to Sean Hannity before the election that Trump would have to win Pennsylvania "by 4 or 5 to overtake the voter fraud that will happen there."

More recently, he tweeted that his new Georgia poll is "based on All votes we anticipate to be counted in GA Senate Runoff (both above and below the table)." That's a reference to a soundly debunked conspiracy theory that election workers in Fulton County somehow rigged the election by counting fake ballots taken out of "suitcases" they'd placed under a table—one that Republican officials with the secretary of state's office blasted as "ridiculous."

We take a heterodox approach to polling—there are many ways to get it right, and no one has a monopoly on the truth. But the truth is what we all must seek. Excluding polls is not something we do lightly, but when a pollster espouses beliefs about elections that are demonstrably false, we are unable to conclude that such a person does in fact believe in seeking the truth.

IL-Sen, IL-Gov: Regarding possible bids against either of the two top Illinois Democrats up for election in 2022, Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger tells Politico, "I never rule anything out." Not only would Kinzinger be an underdog in either race, however, given the state's heavily Democratic lean, he'd also likely face a difficult primary, on account of his outspoken criticism of Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the election—criticism that already has fellow Republicans gunning for him.

Gubernatorial

GA-Gov: At a Saturday rally for the Georgia runoffs in which he predictably focused almost entirely on his grievances about his own election, Donald Trump managed to cram in another unrelated race when he touted outgoing Rep. Doug Collins as a candidate for governor in 2022. "Doug, you want to run for governor in two years?" Trump asked after noting Collins was in attendance. "He'd be a good-looking governor."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently floated Collins as a potential primary challenger to Gov. Brian Kemp, whom Trump has excoriated for not seeking to overturn the results of Georgia's presidential contest. That line of attack continued on Saturday, with Trump repeatedly attacking Kemp during a meandering 100-minute speech. "Your governor should be ashamed of himself," said Trump at one point, and at another claiming Kemp is "afraid of Stacey Abrams.”

IL-Gov: Politico's Shia Kapos reports that ultra-wealthy Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts is not "ruling out a run" for governor, per a "source close to" Ricketts. It's not clear exactly how rich Ricketts himself is, but Forbes estimates the Ricketts family's net worth at $3 billion. That fortune was built by patriarch Joe Ricketts, Todd's father, who built the online trading powerhouse now known as TD Ameritrade.

Most of the family has been heavily involved in Republican politics. The elder Ricketts has long been a major GOP donor and conservative activist, in particular through his super PAC, the anti-earmarks Ending Spending Fund. Todd Ricketts became the RNC's finance chair in 2018 and his oldest brother, Pete, is governor of Nebraska. His sister, Laura, however, is an LGBTQ rights activist and a top giver to Democratic campaigns.

KS-Gov: Soon-to-be former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is refusing to rule out a bid against Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly in 2022, telling the Wall Street Journal, "I haven't given half a second's thought to the political races in the state of Kansas." Last cycle, Pompeo played a long, drawn-out game of "will he or won't he?" when Mitch McConnell tried to recruit him to run for the Senate, a race Pompeo now claims he "was never seriously considering."

Pompeo's unparalleled stature in Kansas GOP politics would probably lead the field to clear for him should he choose to run: State party chair Mike Kuckelman said to the Journal, "From the perspective of what I'm hearing within the party, he can do whatever he wants." But that cuts both ways. As in in 2020, a lengthy but unconsummated dalliance could undermine other potential candidates. Ultimately, Pompeo's dithering didn't prevent Republicans from holding the state's open Senate seat last month, but they'd probably rather not go through the same rigmarole again.

MA-Gov: Joe Battenfeld of the conservative Boston Herald reports that Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone is considering seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in 2022. Curtatone has roundly criticized Republican Gov. Charlie Baker for not taking enough action to combat the coronavirus pandemic in Massachusetts, and while the mayor has been tightlipped when talking about his own electoral plans, he very much hasn't ruled anything out. "That has not crossed my mind at all," Curtatone told Battenfeld about a potential gubernatorial run, adding, "This isn't the time to take political shots at anyone."

Curtatone was first elected mayor of Somerville, which is located just north of Boston and includes part of Tufts University, in 2003, and he's been mentioned as a prospective candidate for higher office for years. Curtatone himself notably spent months in 2013 thinking about a gubernatorial run but decided to stay put, while Baker ended up winning the office the following year. Curtatone is up for re-election next year, and while he could run for governor afterwards, Battenfeld writes that the mayor probably wouldn't seek a sixth term if he decides to take on Baker.

Baker himself has not yet announced if he'll run for a third term, though he began making preparations all the way back in 2019. A recent MassInc poll for the nonprofit The Barr Foundation found Baker with a strong 68-22 favorable rating in what is usually a very blue state, but there was one potential warning sign for the governor just below the surface: While Baker received an 81-13 score from Democrats, Republicans only gave Baker the thumbs up by a 54-40 margin.

NM-Gov: New Mexico GOP chair Steve Pearce is reportedly considering a 2022 rematch against Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who crushed him by a 57-43 margin in their first face-off two years ago.

Pearce represented southern New Mexico's conservative 2nd Congressional District for many years, but his two stints were bookended by statewide failures: He lost a Senate primary in 2000 after serving four years in the legislature, won a seat in Congress in 2002, then got destroyed in a 2008 Senate bid before returning to the House in the 2010 GOP wave, only to give it all up for his hopeless gubernatorial run in 2018.

As for Grisham, she'd reportedly been under consideration for a post in Joe Biden's cabinet, but both she and the Biden transition team announced on Sunday that she would not be joining the next administration.

PA-Gov: Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who has soared to prominence of late thanks to his bellicose support for Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the results of Pennsylvania's presidential election, gets mentioned as a possible candidate for governor in 2022 in a new profile from the Philadelphia Inquirer's Andrew Seidman.

While Mastriano wouldn't speak to Seidman, when asked recently by conservative radio host Charlie Kirk if he'd run, he said, "If we get the call from God, we're not gonna stand away from our Esther moment"—exploiting the biblical story of Queen Esther, who is credited with putting her life at risk to save the Jews of Persia from destruction, to describe his own interest in seeking a political promotion.

Mastriano's arrival as a latter-day Jewish heroine is a relatively recent thing: A veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, he first ran for Pennsylvania's 13th Congressional District in 2018, shortly after retiring from the Army as a colonel. He badly lost the primary to now-Rep. David Joyce, but he fared better the following year when he won a special election to the legislature.

He also made news in bizarre fashion late last month when he had to bolt from an Oval Office meeting with Trump after learning he'd tested positive for the coronavirus. (There are so many things weird with this story.)

While his loving embrace of Trump ought to be a boon in a primary, Mastriano could spell danger for the GOP in the general election. "We had a super Trumpy older white guy state senator from central Pennsylvania as our 2018 gubernatorial nominee," said one local GOP operative to Seidman, referring to former state Sen. Scott Wagner, who ran against term-limited Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf two years ago. "And he got 40% of the vote." In total fairness, Wagner won 40.7%, which rounds up to 41.

RI-Gov: WPRI's Ted Nesi reports that outgoing Cranston Mayor Alan Fung, who was the GOP's nominee for governor in both 2014 and 2018, is considering a third try, though there's no quote from Fung or anyone connected to him. Fung lost a three-way open-seat race to Democrat Gina Raimondo 41-36 in 2014 (a third-party candidate took 21%), then got smoked 53-37 in a more traditional rematch four years later. Raimondo is term-limited in 2022 (as Fung himself was this year), and a whole host of top-shelf Democrats could try to succeed her.

SC-Gov: Outgoing Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham, who unexpectedly lost a difficult re-election bid for South Carolina's 1st Congressional District last month, declined to rule out a bid for governor in 2022, telling the Post & Courier of his future plans, "It's good to take some time and assess things. That's not a decision I can make right now." Republican Gov. Henry McMaster has said he will seek a second full term.

VA-Gov: Despite the pandemic, Virginia Republicans opted over the weekend to choose nominees for statewide office via a convention rather than a state-run primary, prompting one GOP candidate to make good on a threat to bolt the party and announce a bid for governor as an independent.

State Sen. Amanda Chase, known for her far-right views, had long opposed a convention and attacked the "Republican establishment elite" for favoring one, apparently in the belief that it would benefit the only other declared contender, former state House Speaker Kirk Cox. If that sounds surprising, to an extent, it is: As the Virginia Mercury's Ned Oliver put it, the decision "turned conventional wisdom about the benefits of primaries versus conventions on its head," since GOP conventions typically favor the most extreme candidates.

But as Oliver alludes, Chase is so deeply on the outs with fellow Republicans that her ability to muster the necessary support among convention delegates, with whom personal relationships are often crucial, is extremely weak. Chase was booted by her county GOP organization last year after she supported an independent candidate for sheriff who ran against the Republican incumbent, and a couple of months later, she actually quit the GOP caucus in the Senate.

It's not clear whether Republicans will try to host an in-person gathering despite the massive danger—it's possible they could instead choose an "unassembled" convention, which might more closely resemble a so-called "firehouse" (or party-run) primary. But whatever unfolds, the electorate will be far smaller than had they chosen a traditional primary, where Chase could have won with a plurality, as opposed to the majority required at a convention.

The decision to forego a primary prompted some heated words from one potential candidate, outgoing Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman, who himself lost renomination at a convention earlier this year. The Virginia GOP "is a raging dumpster fire," tweeted Riggleman, who late last month said that his interest in a bid had "diminished." Presumably, his desire to seek the Republican nod is even lower now, though he's also held out the possibility of running as an independent.

House

CA-08: Republican Rep. Paul Cook resigned Monday to take his spot on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors. Cook's congressional seat will remain vacant until January, when fellow Republican Jay Obernolte is sworn in along with the rest of the new Congress.

And while it may seem strange that Cook decided to give up his seat in D.C. to run for local office, this isn't a step down for him. San Bernardino County supervisors earn a salary comparable to U.S. House members, and they also enjoy a much shorter commute. Supervisors are limited to four four-year terms, though that may not be a drawback for Cook, who is 77. And perhaps most importantly, while Obernolte will be in the minority, Cook and his fellow Republicans will hold a 4-1 edge on the Board of Supervisors even though San Bernardino County favored Joe Biden 54-44.

CA-25: Outgoing Assemblywoman Christy Smith, who recently lost a very close rematch with Republican Rep. Mike Garcia, says she might run for California's 25th Congressional District a third time. In a new statement, Smith said, "This was such a close election, and having earned over 36,000 more votes than any prior Democrat in CA-25, I'm keeping all options open."

Last month, Smith filed paperwork with the FEC that would allow her to fundraise for another bid, though as we always caution, many candidates submit FEC paperwork but never run. And this cycle, the vagaries of redistricting add yet another element of uncertainty, so expect to see lots of folks float their names early on who wind up staying put once maps are finalized.

Mayoral

Seattle, WA Mayor: Incumbent Jenny Durkan announced Monday that she would not seek a second term. Durkan, whose year was dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, widespread protests against police violence, and conflict with several members of the Seattle City Council, said she believed she needed to spend the rest of her term focusing on the city's challenges rather than running for re-election.

Durkan, whose 2017 win made her the first lesbian to be elected mayor, is the latest city leader to leave after one term. Greg Nickels' 2005 win marked the last time that a Seattle mayor was re-elected, though Nickels' quest for a third term four years later ended when he failed to advance past the top-two primary.

All the candidates in next year's contest will run on one nonpartisan ballot, and the top-two vote-getters will advance to the November general election. Durkan's successor in this very blue city will almost certainly be a fellow Democrat, though it's far too early to know who would be the frontrunner. We'll take a look at the potential field to succeed Durkan in a future Digest.

Other Races

CA-AG: Joe Biden announced Monday that he was nominating California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Becerra, who is a former Democratic congressman from Los Angeles, would be the first Latino to hold this post.

If the Senate confirms Becerra, it would be up to Gov. Gavin Newsom, a fellow Democrat, to pick his replacement as the attorney general for the nation's largest state. Newsom is already tasked with filling Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' soon-to-be vacant Senate seat, and Becerra had been mentioned as a prospect. The new attorney general would need to be confirmed by both chambers of the state legislature, though it would be a surprise if the overwhelmingly Democratic body rejected Newsom's choice.

It was only four years ago that Becerra himself was appointed attorney general. In 2016, then-Gov. Jerry Brown shocked state and national politicos when he selected Becerra, who was the fourth-highest ranking Democrat in the House, to succeed Harris after she was elected to the Senate. One Democrat who wasn't chosen, state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, decided to challenge Becerra in 2018, but Jones ended up taking a distant third in the top-two primary; Becerra himself had no trouble turning back his Republican foe that November.

Called Races

CO 18th District DA: Democrat Amy Padden conceded on Saturday after an automatic recount confirmed that Republican John Kellner had prevailed 50.1-49.9 in this open seat race. Kellner's win means that his party will hold this district attorney's office, which has jurisdiction over Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln Counties.

Election Results Recaps

LA-05: Luke Letlow decisively beat state Rep. Lance Harris 62-38 in Saturday's all-GOP runoff to succeed his old boss, retiring Rep. Ralph Abraham, in this conservative northeast Louisiana seat. Letlow, who served as Abraham's chief of staff before entering the race, had the congressman's endorsement, as well as a big financial edge over Harris.

East Baton Rouge Parish, LA Mayor-President: Democratic incumbent Sharon Weston Broome won a second term as leader of this populous parish, which is home to Baton Rouge and several of its suburbs, by beating former Republican state Rep. Steve Carter 57-43.

Orleans Parish, LA District Attorney: Criminal justice reformers scored a big win in New Orleans on Saturday when City Councilman Jason Williams won a six-year term by defeating former judge Keva Landrum 57-43 in the all-Democratic runoff. (Orleans Parish is coterminous with the city of New Orleans). Williams will succeed retiring incumbent Leon Cannizzaro, who leaves office with a reputation as one of the most punitive prosecutors in the entire country.

Both Williams and Landrum, who served as interim district attorney in 2007 and 2008, promised never to seek the death penalty and pledged to bring other changes to the office, but Williams consistently adopted far more progressive stances than his opponent. Notably, Williams alone ruled out charging defendants as habitual offenders, a tactic that Louisiana prosecutors like Cannizzaro have frequently used to secure longer sentences. Williams notably also said he won't seek to try underage suspects—97% of whom are Black—in adult courts, and he's also pledged to drop all marijuana possession charges.

Williams, though, did look like at least the slight underdog going into Saturday's contest. Perhaps most seriously, he was indicted by federal prosecutors in June for tax fraud, charges he's argued resulted from "an old-school political tactic" to damage his chances. The councilman has pleaded not guilty, claiming his tax preparer had misrepresented his credentials and filed error-filled forms with the IRS without Williams' knowledge, and his trial is currently set for January.

Landrum, who led Williams 34-29 in the first round of voting last month, also had the support of Mayor Latoya Cantrell and Rep. Cedric Richmond, as well as five of Williams' six colleagues on the City Council. None of this was enough, though, to stop Williams from decisively winning this powerful post.

Grab Bag

Deaths: Maryland Democrat Paul Sarbanes, who served in the House and the Senate, died Sunday at the age of 87. Sarbanes, who was the first Greek American elected to the upper chamber, was a generally low-key senator who is best known for co-sponsoring the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley act in the wake of the Enron and WorldCom scandals, a law that the New York Times writes "strengthened corporate governance and created a federal oversight board for the accounting industry." Sarbanes is also the father of Rep. John Sarbanes, who has represented part of the Baltimore region since 2007, the same year that the elder Sarbanes retired from the Senate.

Sarbanes got his start in politics in 1966 when he was elected to the state House, and he launched a primary challenge against Rep. George Fallon four years later. Fallon, who was chair of the powerful House Committee on Public Works, initially looked secure in this Baltimore-area seat.

However, as Theo Lippman would write in the Baltimore Sun in 1991, "Some of Paul's best arguments against the chairman were that he was too old (he was 68) and too ailing and too remote to represent the district anymore. And too close to big, rich campaign contributors who depended on pork from the committee chairman's big barrel." Sarbanes won 51-46, and he easily prevailed in the general. Sarbanes seemed to be in for another tough primary in 1972 when redistricting put him in the same seat as fellow Rep. Edward Garmatz, but Garmatz decided to retire.

Sarbanes attracted national attention in 1974 when, as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, he introduced and defended the first article of impeachment against Richard Nixon. Sarbanes then set his sights on a promotion in 1976 when he sought the nomination to take on Republican Sen. Glenn Beall. Sarbanes' main opponent in the primary was former Sen. Joseph Tydings, who had lost the seat to Beall in 1970, thanks to an effort by the NRA and its allies. The well-funded Sarbanes, who benefited from support from Greek American donors and labor groups, won the nomination 55-35.

Sarbanes then went after Beall for his connections to the disgraced Nixon, including the $250,000 in campaign funds he'd received six years ago from a White House-controlled account known as the "Townhouse Operation." Beall insisted that, while he'd made a "mistake" by accepting the donations, he was being unfairly judged by post-Watergate standards of morality. That argument didn’t go over well with voters, and Sarbanes unseated Beall 57-39 as Jimmy Carter was carrying the state by a smaller 53-47.

Sarbanes never came close to losing in any of his subsequent campaigns, though he did attract some notable GOP opponents. Sarbanes's foe in 1982 was Prince George's County Executive Lawrence Hogan, a former House colleague and the father of current Gov. Larry Hogan, while his 1988 adversary was Alan Keyes, who would go on to lose the 2004 Senate race in Illinois to Barack Obama. Sarbanes' smallest win was in 1994 against former U.S. Secretary of Labor Bill Brock, who had been elected to the Senate from Tennessee in 1970 and lost re-election six years later; Sarbanes prevailed 59-41.

Morning Digest: Maine’s Jared Golden ran 13 points ahead of the top of the ticket

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

Leading Off

Pres-by-CD: Our project to calculate the 2020 presidential results for all 435 congressional districts nationwide goes to Maine, where Democratic Rep. Jared Golden won a second term even as Donald Trump once again carried his 2nd Congressional District. We'll also be taking a look at the seven states that are home to only one U.S. House seat. You can find our complete data set here, which we're updating continuously as the precinct-level election returns we need for our calculations become available.

Joe Biden carried Maine, which has backed every Democratic presidential nominee since 1992, by a 53-44 margin, which was a notable improvement on Hillary Clinton's 48-45 performance there in 2016. Maine, however, gives an electoral vote to the winner of each of its congressional districts (the only other state to do this is Nebraska), and for the second cycle in a row, the 2nd District went to Trump. This seat in the northern part of the state supported Trump 52-45, a somewhat smaller margin compared to his 51-41 performance there four years ago but still a clear win. You can find a larger version of our map here.

Campaign Action

Despite Trump's victory at the top of the ticket, though, Golden defeated Republican Dale Crafts 53-47. At the start of the cycle, Republicans had planned to target Golden, who had flipped this seat in a tight 2018 race, but major outside groups on both sides dramatically cut their ad buys in the final weeks of the race in what Politico characterized at the time as "a sign of no confidence" in Crafts.

Biden took the 1st District, meanwhile, by a 60-37 margin, which was also a big shift from Clinton's 54-39 win. This seat, which contains Portland, has been solidly blue turf for decades, and Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree won her seventh term 62-38.

While Democrats control the governorship and both houses of the legislature, redistricting isn't likely to alter Maine's congressional boundaries all that much. The state requires two-thirds of each chamber to pass a new map, and there are more than enough Republicans to block any districts they view as unfavorable. If the legislature deadlocks, the state Supreme Court would take charge of redistricting.

We'll now take a look at the nation's seven at-large congressional districts. Alaska supported Donald Trump 53-43, a smaller margin than his 53-38 showing in 2016. This was the closest a Democrat's come to winning the Last Frontier's three electoral votes since 1992, when George H.W. Bush edged out Bill Clinton 39-30 as Ross Perot was taking 28%. Biden's 43% was also the highest for Team Blue since 1964, when Lyndon Johnson became the only Democratic candidate to ever carry Alaska.

Rep. Don Young, a Republican whose nearly 48 years in office makes him the House's longest serving current member, faced a rematch this year against Alyse Galvin, an independent who won the Democratic nomination. While outside groups for both parties spent heavily, Young won 54-45, an improvement from his 53-47 showing in 2018.

Democrats also made a serious effort to flip Montana's open House seat but came up short. Trump's 57-41 margin of victory was smaller than his 56-36 showing four years ago, but the state still wasn't close. Republican Matt Rosendale beat Democrat Kathleen Williams 56-44, a win that came two years after Rosendale lost his challenge to Democratic Sen. Jon Tester by a 50-47 margin. It was also a much bigger defeat for Williams than in her previous attempt for this seat in 2018, when she fell to now-Gov.-elect Greg Gianforte 51-45.

Biden, meanwhile, improved on Clinton's performance in his home state of Delaware and in Vermont, where Democratic Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester and Peter Welch, respectively, also had no trouble winning re-election. North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming remained safely red turf up and down the ballot. Wyoming, which backed Trump 70-27, also gave him his largest margin of victory in any state for the second cycle in a row.

Congressional redistricting hasn't been a factor in any of these seven states in some time, but there's a very good chance that Montana could regain the second House seat that it lost after the 1990 census. However, while Gianforte's win in this year's gubernatorial race gives Team Red the trifecta it lost in the 2004 elections, state law grants a bipartisan commission responsibility over redistricting matters. Rhode Island, meanwhile, could soon join the list of at-large states, as population growth patterns suggest its two seats will shrink to one following reapportionment.

Georgia Runoffs

GA-Sen-A, GA-Sen-B: A new poll from RMG Research, the firm run by Scott Rasmussen, finds Democrat Jon Ossoff narrowly leading Republican Sen. David Perdue 48-47 while Democrat Raphael Warnock holds a similar 48-46 edge over Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

Ossoff excoriates Perdue in a new ad for "doing nothing" to alleviate the pandemic and "blocking relief for the rest of us." Warnock, meanwhile, holds aloft a photo of his father, an Army veteran born in 1917 who served in World War II, calling him his "hero." Warnock blasts Loeffler for "taking my words out of context to try and fool you into believing that I don't respect members of the military, like my own father."

Finally, AdImpact reports that total ad spending across both runoffs has reached $315 million, with $170 million of that devoted to the special election. In that contest, Warnock has outspent Loeffler $60 million to $45 million so far, but outside GOP groups have spent $53 million versus just $13 million for Democrats.

However, as AdImpact notes, the difference between the third-party spenders is "misleading." That's because at least one large Republican super PAC, American Crossroads, has spent $44 million on ads that will run straight through Jan. 5. Democratic groups, by contrast, have all booked airtime on a week-by-week basis.

Senate

CO-Sen, CO-Gov: Outgoing Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, who just lost to Democrat John Hickenlooper 54-44 last month, has declined to rule out bids against either Sen. Michael Bennet or Gov. Jared Polis, two Democrats who are both up for re-election in 2022.

PA-Sen, PA-Gov: Republican Rep. Glenn Thompson, who recently said he'd "like to be the first member of Congress from Pennsylvania in 202 years to chair the House Agriculture Committee" in describing his feelings about a bid for Senate or governor, was elevated to the post of "ranking member" on the committee by his GOP colleagues this week. That makes him the most senior Republican on the committee and puts him in line to chair it in two years' time should the GOP win back the House in 2022.

Gubernatorial

IL-Gov: State Rep. Darren Bailey, who wouldn't rule out a run for governor in a radio interview over the summer, just decided to pick a Facebook fight with Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a fellow Republican whom Capitol Fax's Rich Miller says is "widely rumored" to also be considering a bid against Democratic Gov. J. B. Pritzker.

Kinzinger has been just about the only congressional Republican to explicitly call out Donald Trump's "baseless conspiracies" about the election, as he put it, earning the ire of true believers like Bailey, who termed Kinzinger's view that Trump should accept reality and stop undermining democracy "appalling."

NV-Gov: Republican Rep. Mark Amodei says in a new interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Colton Lochhead that he's "gonna look at" a challenge to Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, who's up for re-election in 2022. For almost six years, Amodei's half-heartedly sought an escape from Washington, D.C., whose culture, he said at a 2015 town hall, "sucks." Not long after, he began mooting a bid for governor in 2018 but ultimately declined—and then said he might run for state attorney general that year … but ultimately declined.

In fact, Amodei even suggested he might retire that cycle, though he wound up seeking another term and winning comfortably in northern Nevada's rural 2nd District, which twice backed Donald Trump by double digits, according to new Daily Kos Elections calculations. Perhaps as a consequence, he was dogged by retirement rumors last year, though he pushed back against them firmly early on and easily won again.

However, he nearly courted electoral disaster when he expressed the slightest openness to impeaching Trump and inspired the Club for Growth to push for former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt to challenge Amodei in the GOP primary. Amodei had earlier accused Laxalt of coveting his seat and fomenting the chatter that he might quit, but in the end, Laxalt left the congressman alone.

Things might play out differently in a gubernatorial race, though. Lochhead says that Laxalt and former Sen. Dean Heller are both "rumored" to be considering bids against Sisolak, who defeated Laxalt 49-45 in 2018. Neither man, however, has publicly said anything about their interest.

House

NJ-03: Republican Assemblyman Ryan Peters sounds as though he's considering a bid against Democratic Rep. Andy Kim, who just won re-election to a second term by a surprisingly hale 53-45 margin. Insider NJ says that Peters is "not ready yet to say he's running for Congress," but he also disparaged the idea of running against Democratic state Sen. Dawn Marie Addiego next year (a race he's been rumored to be interested in) by saying, "Do I want to be in the minority again? I really don't have a burning desire to do that."

Called Races

NY-01, NY-02: With New York finally certifying the results of last month's elections, the AP called the race for 1st Congressional District for Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin on Friday, a day after Democrat Nancy Goroff conceded; Zeldin defeated Goroff by a 55-45 margin. The AP also called the contest in the neighboring 2nd District, which Democrat Jackie Gordon conceded to Republican Andrew Garbarino a couple of weeks ago. Final tallies there show Garbarino winning 53-46.

That leaves just two unresolved House races, Iowa's 2nd and New York's 22nd, both of which are subject to ongoing legal challenges.