Trump will definitely get credit if deaths exceed 100,000, but not the good kind

We warned America, and Democrats delivered an impeachment to underscore the seriousness of the matter: Donald Trump wasn’t fit to be president. Republicans didn’t care, because tax cuts and judges, and now here we are. 

Today, we’ll hit two Sept. 11ths’ worth of deaths, easily blowing by the 6,000 mark just two days after hitting a single 9/11. We’ve just about to reach a quarter-million cases, which is a whopping one-quarter of the total confirmed cases worldwide. By any measure, this is an abject disaster. Yet in a breathtaking display of goalpost moving, Trump said a couple of days ago, “[if] we have between 100 and 200,000 [deaths], we altogether have done a very good job.”

Yeah, nice try. 

Trump is in a politically perilous position, for sure. His inability to respond to the crisis—from dismantling the institutions designed to identify (CDC outpost in China) and respond to such a crisis (the pandemic preparedness task force and FEMA), to incompetent staff, to an utter inability to be forthright and truthful to the American people, to simply misplaced priorities (stock market > grandma)—our nation never stood a chance. 

Indeed, the only thing mitigating a death toll in the millions is the quick action of governors and local governments around the country. And even on that front, there was too much delay, particularly in Republican states, precisely because Trump was pretending things were okay to protect his donors’ stock portfolios. 

But let’s consider Trump’s new thesis: that as long as national deaths number below a quarter million, he will “have done a very good job.” Does he think that people will applaud him? 

Yesterday, 1,049 people died of the disease, and we’re nowhere near the peak. So every single day, we’ll be seeing 1,000, then 2,000, then a 9/11 (3,000 deaths), until who knows when. Every single day will see the kind of carnage we haven’t seen since World War II. 

Every day, people will have to face the death of someone they know, someone they love, someone they respect or admire. Artists, movie stars, athletes, politicians, religious leaders, musicians, business leaders, and so many grandmas. Their stories will be broadcast across all media, all of them a dagger in our hearts. 

And shock and sorrow will then give way to anger. It’s a stage of grief, after all. 

Conservatives will work overtime to deflect: It’s the fault of the Chinese! People die all the time (flu, car crashes, heart disease, insert random other cause of death), this is nothing special! It’s the fault of open sanctuary cities like New York!  No one could’ve predicted! And yet, the American people have already decided that they can’t and don’t trust trump. 

NEW POLL >> The credibility gap between Dr. Fauci and Trump on coronavirus is a stunning 65 POINTS. Cuomo is 25 points better than Trump. A majority of Americans distrust Trump to tell the truth about the virus. via @NavigatorSurvey pic.twitter.com/fMMQNQtGfL

— Ian Sams (@IanSams) April 2, 2020

Those numbers will only get worse. And those excuses might work in Fox News land, but that’s not where Trump needs to hold his numbers. Arkansas isn’t going to be competitive at any level this year. 

There are seven states that will decide the presidential election: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. All seven are on a razor’s edge. A shift of even a few points can take these states from “coin flip” to “lean Biden.” And already, we’re seeing the largest Democratic lead in Trump’s reelection numbers all year:

If you have seven states that are essentially 50-50 ties, then a one-point shift makes it 51-49. Two points, its 52-48. See? 

This is why Trump is freaking out. He can’t afford to bleed even marginal support, because every vote will matter. That’s why he’s trying to shift the goalposts. 

But there is no way in hell that people look at thousands dying every single day and give Trump any kind of credit. NONE. The toll on our nation is too great. The impact we’re suffering is so much worse than what other countries have experienced that it’s impossible to blame the fates. This may be an act of god, but the aftermath isn't. How we prepared isn’t. How we responded isn't. How we move forward isn’t. 

And we haven’t even discussed the economic devastation. 

NEW with @AlexNBCNews: Week of April 13 is earliest Americans will see direct deposit relief payments from the government; paper checks could take as long as 20 weeks -- nearly 5 months -- for some Americans

— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) April 2, 2020

Five months? The amounts being mailed out are already not enough. Just watch the Trump administration bungle this, too. Remember that 6.65 million workers filed unemployment claims last week, breaking the previous record by10 times. And with congressional Republicans ruling out further stimulus at this time (they’ll be forced to relent, eventually), the economic pain is only going to get worse. 

Presidents don’t get reelected when they bungle the economy. How are they supposed to do so when they also preside over a mass-death event ?

So no, Trump isn’t getting credit if we see hundreds of thousands of deaths. And if we ultimately do see those kinds of numbers play out, his reelection prospects will be around zero percent, and we’ll be talking about how much damage his entire party will face all the way down the ballot. 

How Donald Trump could use his coronavirus disaster to win reelection this November

In today’s absurd news, there’s this: 

#BREAKING Global News Exclusive: Trump looking to put troops near Canadian border amid coronavirus fears - National | https://t.co/RD1lLNARNe https://t.co/oNU25op63U @globalnews #cdnpoli #coronavirus #COVID19

— Mercedes Stephenson (@MercedesGlobal) March 26, 2020

Everything about that is stupid. Canadians have better health care and are giving better cash payments to individuals to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a massive border and there’s no way anyone can seal it, much less some poor sap in combat boots. Symbolically, it’s the world’s largest demilitarized border. Why mess with that? There's nothing useful or practical about it! Well, there’s one benefit to Donald Trump: He can pretend that he’s “doing something.”

Remember, everything Trump does is predicated on his reelection. That’s why he tried so hard to limit testing in the early days. Instead of working to stem the spread of the disease, he decided that rising numbers were a threat to his political standing and he reacted accordingly. You can see it in this new ad by the Joe Biden campaign: 

holy shit this @JoeBiden ad is good. pic.twitter.com/CAgIrt2Zua

— Florida Chris (@chrislongview) March 26, 2020

The past month has been about minimizing the impact of the pandemic, promising that the numbers will fall, promising snake oil cures, dismissing it as “just like the flu,” and as of late, demanding that people get back to work because “the cure can’t be worse than the disease.” 

“The cure,” of course, being people losing their jobs, while “the disease” is people losing their lives. 

But there’s a method to the madness. Whether it’s closing the border, or comparing COVID-19 to the flu, or demanding people get back to work, it all has an underlying electoral purpose. Remember that solutions to the pandemic are liberal ones: government support of individuals, government intervention in the economy, better health care, better social safety net, communal action, etc. This isn’t 9/11, when conservatives could bloat the Pentagon budget even further, ride a new wave of racism, and curtail civil liberties. So how do Trump and the Republicans work this to their favor? 

Here’s what they’ll do (and they’re already doing it):

1. TRUMP IS DECISIVE

Oh my god, Trump can’t stop being the best leader the world has ever seen! Did you see? He closed the border to China. Biden didn’t want Trump to close the border to China, but he did so anyway, because that’s the bold kind of leadership that saved thousands of lives.  

Trump also closed the borders with Mexico and Canada and deployed our troops, because fuck yeah America is the greatest and so are our troops, and Trump is taking action while liberals want open borders. 

What about testing kits, shuttering the pandemic preparedness task force, and months of promising that things were “beautiful” and “perfect” and everything would be fine just around the corner? Those are nasty questions and Trump is too busy being decisive anyway to answer them. Next!

2. LIBERALS BROKE THE ECONOMY

The flu will kill 60-80,000 people this year, and we didn’t shut down the economy because of it. Only a few hundred/thousand/tens of thousands have died because of this virus, and we had to destroy the economy as a result? This was just a liberal plot to defeat Donald Trump at the ballot box. They were angry because the impeachment hoax failed, and they decided to punish the whole country as a result. 

Why do you think it’s Democratic governors that are closing their states? Republicans tried to keep America working, and Democrats took your jobs away to punish Donald Trump for being the best president in history. It’s their fault the economy is bad. Only Republicans can fix it. 

3. RACISM

The Chinese created this virus and infected America with it. No one could’ve predicted that our enemies would be so ruthless and calculating and effective in conducting a biological attack on our country. It’s their fault. We need Republicans to stand tough against the Chinese for their cowardly attack on our soil. 

4. REGIONALISM

If liberals and their sanctuary cities weren’t so “welcoming” to all manners of riff-raff, the disease wouldn’t have spread throughout America. Where did the “Chinese virus” take hold? Seattle. San Francisco. New York. It figures that those liberals would infect the rest of Real America with their virus. Trump is trying to protect the Heartland from the evils of urban liberals.

So yeah, that’s their campaign. It’s already started. The pieces are already in place. And when you see a conservative or Trump say something seemingly insane, note how it fits one of those categories above. For example:

�Approximately 7500 people die every day in the United States. That�s approximately 645,000 people so far this year. Coronavirus has killed about 1,000 Americans this year. Just a little perspective.� @RealCandaceO

— Rudy W. Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) March 26, 2020

See?

Will it play with their base? Undoubtedly. They’re too stupid for words. 

Will it play with Democrats? Clearly not. 

Will it play with Independents? Well, “independent” is not an ideology, and spans everything from Alex Jones crazies to Bernie socialists to the politically apathetic. We do know that government (read: Trump) approval ratings for managing the crisis are ebbing down among independents. 

So maybe it won’t work, in the aggregate, amongst that group. 

The one wild card is the death rate. If coronavirus deaths remain below or equal to flu deaths, then the argument that the Democrats blew up the economy for no reason will have added salience to the stupidity. So for that reason alone, you’d think that Trump would be working overtime to bend the curve. Yet he’s doing quite the opposite, in fact. It boggles the mind. 

Stem the death toll, and Trump has a ready-made excuse for the shitty economy: The Democrats overreacted. Instead, his actions are pushing us closer to the nightmare scenario. For example, look at what happens if Florida doesn’t take action within the next couple of weeks:

CovidActNow.org

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is among the fiercest Trump allies, and will not do anything to contradict or undermine the impeached president’s words and actions. So we’re talking somewhere in between “no action” and “social distancing.” No matter what happens in New York and California (fiercely working to stop the spread of the disease), Florida alone may be Trump’s undoing. Even if those numbers are overly dire, one-third of the “social distancing” death toll is a horrifying 100,000. With numbers like that, Trump and the GOP won’t be able to compare COVID-19 to the flu anymore. 

Furthermore, the more the disease ravages red states and rural America, the harder it’ll be to dismiss it as a creation of New York City and San Francisco. Oh, they’ll try anyway! But local politicians will bear the brunt of explaining why they didn’t take the necessary precautions, especially if small-state death tolls end up exceeding those of New York and California—which is quite plausible. 

For example, the models that drive the CovidActNow.org projections estimate that California’s death toll, with its shelter-in-place already in action, will be around 11,000. Meanwhile, Missouri, which hasn’t taken any action at all, could see up to 122,000, Oklahoma could see 79,000 deaths, and Tennessee 136,000. As horrific as things look in New York right now, measures in place may limit the damage to 38,000. (California looks as good as it does because it was the first to start shutting down, particularly the five pioneering Bay Area counties that beat anyone else by almost a week.) 

In any case, if we see that kind of death toll play out around the country, Trump’s goose is cooked, and so is his entire party. Otherwise, whether by luck (a vaccine or better treatment emerges), or by action (militarizing the Canadian border stops the spread of COVID-19 in Arkansas!), Republicans will use that mix of liberal-blamin’, big-city-hatin’, racism creatin’, and grandiose Trump myth-makin’, to explain away the economic collapse, and pin the blame squarely on the Democrats. 

Morning Digest: Coronavirus leaves Virginia GOP unsure how to hold House nominating conventions

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.

Public Service Announcement: If you haven't yet filled out the 2020 census, please do so by clicking here to do it online, by mail, or by phone. This way, census workers won't have to come to your door. The Census Bureau advises completing the census now even if you haven't received your 12-digit census ID by mail.

Leading Off

VA-05, VA-07: Republicans in Virginia’s 5th and 7th Congressional Districts had planned to pick their nominees at April 25 party conventions, rather than in June's primary, but Republicans leaders are still deciding how to proceed in light of the coronavirus.

All of this uncertainty is causing plenty of angst in the 5th District, where freshman Rep. Denver Riggleman faces a challenge from the right from Campbell County Supervisor Bob Good. Riggleman even speculated to Roll Call that, if the process gets out of hand, Team Red won’t even have a nominee in this 53-42 Trump seat. National Republicans will also be keeping a close eye on the 7th District, where plenty of candidates are competing for the right to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger.

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For now, the only things that anyone knows are that the April 25 conventions won’t be happening as planned, but that Republican voters in these two seats still won’t be selecting their candidates through a primary. The 5th District GOP recently posted a memo saying that it's not permissible at this point to switch from nominating candidates at a convention to the state-run primary, which is on June 9.

Ben Slone, who runs the 7th District GOP, told Roll Call’s Stephanie Akin that his group would discuss what to do on Thursday. All he would say about alternatives to the convention, though, was, “We have a set of contingency plans that will be invoked depending on guidance and government health dictates.”

Melvin Adams, who runs the 5th District GOP committee, also told Akin that they would be talking next week about moving the convention date, and he was more forthcoming with his plans. Adams said that he’d hoped to move the event to June 6, which is the weekend before the statewide primary.

However, Riggleman and his supporters say that Adams has been promoting another option if it’s still not safe to hold a convention by then, and it’s not one they like at all. Riggleman said the 5th District Republican Committee, which has fewer than 40 members, could end up picking the party’s nominee, and Adams didn’t deny that this was a possibility. Indeed, this is how Riggleman got chosen as Team Red’s candidate two years ago after Rep. Tom Garrett ended his campaign after winning renomination. That was a very different set of circumstances, though, and an unnamed Riggleman ally on the committee said that, if this ends up happening this year, “I think it would be unfair. It’s a very undemocratic process.”

There’s another huge potential drawback to using this method. Riggleman said that party rules require a candidate to earn the support of at least two-thirds of the district committee, which raises the possibility that no one could end up with the GOP nod. And even if someone claims a supermajority, the congressman argued, it’s possible that the state Republican Party won’t recognize this person as the rightful nominee. Indeed, an unnamed former state party official told Roll Call that the committee only picked the candidate last cycle because their nominee had dropped out, and that “[c]hanging to a process where Republican voters don’t have a voice would be against the party plan and potentially against state law.”

Riggleman himself sounds quite unhappy with this whole state of affairs, saying that he wanted a primary instead of “a convoluted convention process that is collapsing under the weight of this crisis.” Riggleman already had reasons to be wary about party leaders, rather than voters, choosing the nominee here. The congressman infuriated plenty of social conservatives at home in July when he officiated a same-sex wedding between two of his former campaign volunteers. This quickly resulted in a homophobic backlash against him, and local Republican Parties in three small 5th District counties each passed anti-Riggleman motions. It also didn’t escape notice that the convention was supposed to be held at Good’s church.

Riggleman’s path to a second term could be even more perilous if the 5th District Committee ends up choosing the nominee, especially since its chairman sounds very frustrated with him. “I know the congressman and some of his staff and other people have been putting out false information, or at least implying this committee is trying to rig things,” Adams said. “This committee is not trying to rig things.”

Democrats, by contrast, opted to hold a traditional primary in June, and so Team Blue doesn’t have anything like the mess that’s haunting the 5th District GOP. Democrats have several notable contenders running here, and while it will still be tough to flip a seat that Trump won by double digits, GOP infighting could give the eventual nominee more of an opening.

Election Changes

Alaska: Alaska's Republican-run state Senate has unanimously passed a bill that would allow Republican Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer to order that the state's Aug. 18 downballot primaries be conducted entirely by mail. (The lieutenant governor is Alaska's chief election official.) However, Republicans blocked an attempt by Democrats to require that the state provide dropboxes where voters can return their ballots, an option that is very popular in states that have adopted universal voting by mail, in part because it obviates the need for a postage stamp and avoids the risk of delayed mail return service.

The bill now goes to the state House, which is controlled by a Democratic-led coalition that includes Republicans and independents. The Alaska Daily News says that Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy is "expected" to sign the measure "speedily" if both chambers pass it.

Indiana: Indiana's bipartisan Election Commission has unanimously waived the state's requirement that voters who wish to vote absentee in June's presidential and downballot primaries provide an excuse in order to do so.

Nebraska: Election officials in Nebraska say there are no plans to delay the state's May 12 presidential and downballot primaries, but at least half a dozen counties—including the three largest—will send absentee ballot applications to all voters, while a number of other small counties had previously moved to all-mail elections prior to the coronavirus outbreak. In all, more than half the state will either receive absentee applications or mail-in ballots, including all voters in the state's 2nd Congressional District, a competitive district that features a multi-way Democratic primary.

Nevada: Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske and local election officials from all 17 Nevada counties have announced plans to conduct the state's June 9 downballot primaries almost entirely by mail. Every active registered voter will be sent a postage-paid absentee ballot that they can return by mail or at an in-person polling site, of which each county will have at least one. Importantly, these voters will not have to request an a ballot. At least one in-person polling place will also be available in each county.

Ballots must be postmarked or turned in by Election Day, though they will still count as long as they are received up to seven days later. Officials will also contact any voter whose ballot has an issue (such as a missing signature), and voters will have until the seventh day after the election to correct any problems. Cegavske's press release wisely cautions that, under this system, final election results will not be known until well after election night, though this is a point that officials across the country will have to emphasize loudly and repeatedly as mail voting becomes more widespread.

One potential issue with Cegavske's plan, though, is that registered voters who are listed as "inactive" on the voter rolls will not be sent ballots. However, as voting expert Michael McDonald notes, these voters are still eligible to vote, and every election, many do. While they can still request absentee ballots on their own, they now face an obstacle that active voters will not. Approximately 14% of Nevada's 1.8 million registered voters are on inactive status.

Ohio: Lawmakers in Ohio's Republican-run legislature unanimously passed a bill extending the time to vote by mail in the state's presidential and downballot primaries until April 28, and Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has said he will sign it "soon." There would be limited in-person voting only for people with disabilities or special needs, and voters would also be able to drop off absentee ballots in person on that day, but ballots would have to be mailed by April 27 and be received by May 8 in order to count. However, voting rights groups have expressed serious reservations about the plan and say they may sue.

Under the bill, the state would send postcards to voters explaining how to request an absentee ballot application. Voters would then have to print out applications on their own, or request one be mailed to them, and then mail them in—they cannot be submitted online. They would then have to mail in their absentee ballots (though these at least would come with a postage-paid envelope).

Voting rights advocate Mike Brickner notes that there is very little time left to carry out this multi-step process, particularly because each piece of mail would be in transit for several days. In addition, printing all of these materials, including the postcards that are designed to kick off this effort, will take considerable time, especially since government offices, the postal service, and print shops "may not be operating optimally," as Brickner observes.

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania's Republican-run legislature has unanimously passed a bill to move the state's presidential and downballot primaries from April 28 to June 2. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has said he will sign the measure.

Wisconsin: The city of Green Bay has filed a lawsuit asking that a federal judge order Wisconsin officials to delay the state's April 7 elections until June 2 and to extend its voter registration deadline to May 1. (The deadline for registering by mail has already passed, but voters can still register online through March 30 thanks to an earlier order by a different judge.) Green Bay has also asked that it be allowed to cancel in-person voting and mail ballots to all registered voters.

Senate

MI-Sen: The GOP firm Marketing Resource Group is out with a new survey giving Democratic Sen. Gary Peters a 42-35 lead over Republican John James, which is an improvement from the incumbent's 43-40 edge in October. The only other poll we've seen this month was an early March survey from the GOP firms 0ptimus and Firehouse Strategies that gave James a 41-40 advantage.

ME-Sen: The Democratic group Majority Forward has announced that it's launched a new six-figure ad campaign supporting state House Speaker Sara Gideon. The spot praises Gideon's work securing millions for coronavirus testing, as well as workers and small businesses.

SC-Sen: Democrat Jaime Harrison is out with a poll from Brilliant Corners that shows GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham leading him by a small 47-43 margin. The only other survey we've seen in the last few weeks was a late February Marist poll that showed Graham up 54-37.

Gubernatorial

WV-Gov: The GOP firm Medium Buying reports that GOP Gov. Jim Justice launched his first ad of 2020 last week, and we now have a copy of his commercial. The ad begins with a clip of Donald Trump at a rally saying, "My good friend, and your governor, Jim Justice," before the narrator jumps in and praises the incumbent as a conservative Trump ally.

Former state Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher, by contrast, has been running commercials since June of last year, and he's out with another one ahead of the May GOP primary. Thrasher tells the audience that the coronavirus is creating hardships for West Virginia, and that the state "needs to be proactive in terms of its reaction to this crisis, not reactive the way we have been so many other times." Thrasher then lays out his plan for helping the state economically during the pandemic.

Thrasher doesn't mention, much less directly criticize, Justice's handling of the situation, but he still argues that the state isn't doing enough. "Our president is being very proactive in terms of dealing with those issues," Thrasher says, "We need to follow suit and be proactive as well." He concludes, "It's time for the state of West Virginia to get something done."

House

IN-05: In an unusual move, retiring Rep. Susan Brooks' office publicly told businesswoman Beth Henderson to stop saying that Brooks had recruited her or even given her any special encouragement to run at all. "Susan talked with all Republican candidates who called her and expressed an interest in running in the 5th District to share her insights about representing this district," a Brooks aide said. "Some candidates did not call her." Brooks has not taken sides in the crowded June GOP primary to succeed her.

However, Henderson made it sound like the congresswoman was pulling for her back in February when she declared, "Susan Brooks encouraged me to run." The candidate put out a statement this week insisting that she and Brooks "have had a couple conversations regarding the Fifth district. She has been encouraging throughout my campaign, as I imagine she has been with other candidates as well."

The Indianapolis Star also obtained a voicemail from an unidentified person raising money for the Henderson campaign who said, "Susan actually recruited Beth to run for her, and we are working hard to raise funds to ensure that that happened." Henderson's team acknowledged that this person was affiliated with the campaign but insisted that none of that was included in the script that caller was given.

MI-13: Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones announced Wednesday that she would seek a primary rematch against Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who is one of the most high-profile members of the House freshman class. Jones, who briefly held this seat for a few weeks in the lame-duck session of the last Congress (more on that later), kicked off her campaign with a video declaring that she was “running for re-election” to this safely blue seat.

While Jones didn’t mention Tlaib in that message, she argued in a new interview with the Detroit News that her opponent has “spent a lot of her energy in places other than the 13th District.” Jones said that, unlike the congresswoman, “I will be totally focused on the 13th District, being the third-poorest district in the United States.”

Jones and Tlaib have a lot of history. Thanks to some very unusual circumstances, they even faced off three separate times in 2018. That August, Michigan held two different Democratic primaries on the same day for this seat: one for a special election for the final months of former Rep. John Conyers' term, and one for the regular two-year term. Jones had the support of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and some unions, but she had trouble raising money. Tlaib, by contrast, didn’t have as many prominent local endorsements, but she decisively outraised each of her many opponents.

Tlaib narrowly beat Jones 31-30 in the six-way primary for the full term. However, there were only four candidates on the ballot in the special election primary, and in that race, it was Jones who edged Tlaib 38-36.

The two candidates who were only on the ballot for the regular term, state Sen. Coleman Young II and former state Rep. Shanelle Jackson, took a combined 18% of the vote, so their absence in the special primary likely had an impact. Jones, Young, and Jackson, along with more than half the district's residents, are black, while Tlaib is of Palestinian descent (only 4% of residents identify as Arab American). It's therefore probable that the presence of two additional African American candidates in the regular primary but not in the special primary made the difference between the two close outcomes.

Jones, however, didn't relish the idea of serving just a few weeks in the House and wound up launching a last-minute write-in campaign against Tlaib for the general election. It was a misguided move, though, as she took just 0.32% of the vote. Jones and then-Speaker Paul Ryan ended up working out an apparently unprecedented agreement that allowed Jones to serve a few weeks in the House without resigning as head of the Detroit City Council, letting her take a hiatus from that post until Tlaib was sworn in in January of 2019.

Tlaib immediately earned national attention on her first day in office when she said of Donald Trump, "[W]e're going to impeach the motherfucker," and she’s been in the headlines plenty since then. Most notably, Trump targeted Tlaib and the three other women of color who make up “The Squad” with a racist tweet in July. Thanks to her celebrity, Tlaib has done well in raising money from progressives across the country, ending last year with a hefty $1.2 million on-hand.

Tlaib, who has been a prominent Bernie Sanders surrogate, has her share of intra-party critics and recently inflamed some of them when she booed Hillary Clinton at a Sanders campaign event in January in Iowa. Jones, however, has her own issues, particularly as a longtime supporter of Louis Farrakhan, the anti-Semitic head of the Nation of Islam, even sharing the stage with him at a 2017 event in Detroit.

If Jones has any reservations about Farrakhan—whose lowlight reel includes gems like, “The Jewish media has normalized sexual degeneracy, profanity, and all kinds of sin,” and, “In Washington right next to the Holocaust Museum is the Federal Reserve where they print the money. Is that an accident?"—she hasn't put them on display. Rather, just last month, her chief of staff said that Jones was sponsoring a resolution commending Farrakhan’s newspaper, which ran a piece Farrakhan wrote in 2016 saying that the Sept. 11 attacks were “a false flag operation,” for its “truthful articles.” For his part, Farrakhan himself singled Jones out for praise in a speech in Detroit two years ago.

TN-01: State Rep. Timothy Hill announced on Tuesday that he was joining the August GOP primary for this safely red open seat. Hill has served in the state legislature for four terms, and he's risen to become chair of the Commerce Committee.

Morning Digest: After years of high-profile defeats, Illinois GOP nominates Jim Oberweis once more

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-14: Whether national Republicans like it or not, state Sen. Jim Oberweis is once again their nominee. Oberweis defeated fellow state Sen. Sue Rezin 26-23 in the crowded primary to face freshman Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood; while the Associated Press has not called the race as of Wednesday afternoon, Rezin conceded on election night.

This seat in Chicago's western exurbs moved from 54-44 Romney to 49-45 Trump, and Underwood unseated GOP incumbent Randy Hultgren two years later in an upset. Oberweis, who self-funded $1 million through late February, does give Team Red a nominee with access to plenty of money against the well-funded Underwood, but his electoral history is … not good.

In fact, the wealthy dairy magnate has unsuccessfully run for the House or statewide office a grand total of six times beginning with his 2002 primary defeat to take on Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin. We're even going to be nice and not count Oberweis' accidental 2020 Senate campaign against him.

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Oberweis' most prominent loss came in 2008, which came after three failed statewide primary campaigns. That year, Oberweis was the GOP nominee in a high-profile special election to succeed former House Speaker Dennis Hastert. That district, which was also numbered the 14th (but only shared about 40% of the same territory as the seat he's now running for), had been reliably red turf for a long time. George W. Bush carried the seat 55-44 in 2004 and Hastert (whose awful past would not be revealed until 2015), had always won re-election easily.

However, the contest between Oberweis and Democrat Bill Foster was a competitive affair, and Foster's 52.5-47.5 victory was a strong and early sign that 2008 was going to be a very good year for Democrats. Oberweis and Foster had won their primaries for the regular November contest months before the special was decided, and Republicans reportedly tried to convince their nominee to drop out.

Then-state Rep. Aaron Schock, who was the GOP nominee for a congressional seat to the south, loudly threw Oberweis under the bus for his defeat, declaring, "Anybody in Illinois who knows Jim Oberweis knows that was not a referendum on the Republican Party; it was a referendum on Jim Oberweis." Schock, whose own congressional career would self-destruct the next decade, also volunteered that when it came to Oberweis, "The people that knew him best, liked him least." Oberweis didn't listen, and he lost to Foster again 58-42.

Things finally changed in 2012 when Oberweis won both the primary and the general election for an open state Senate seat. But some habits can't be broken: The next year, he launched a second longshot bid against Durbin, which characteristically ended in defeat. Still, Oberweis was re-elected the following cycle 55-45 even as his state Senate seat was swinging from 53-45 Romney to 48-45 Clinton, so it's possible that he's developed some better campaigning skills in the last few years.

Oberweis announced in 2019 that he would challenge Underwood, but strangely, he didn't rule out running for Congress in Florida later that year. Oberweis owns a home in retiring GOP Rep. Francis Rooney's seat in the Naples area, and he's benefited in the past from a homeowner's tax exemption by listing it as his "primary" residence. In October, an Oberweis spokesman acknowledged to Politico, "There's a push from Republicans in that district" for him to run, and he continued, "All he'd have to do is move down there and he'd win."

Oberweis did not move down there and win, though. Instead, he now has another chance to avenge his last six defeats in Illinois in November by taking on Underwood in what will likely be a very competitive race for a seat the GOP very badly wants to take back.

Election Changes

Please bookmark our 2020 calendar, which we will continually update as any changes to election dates are finalized.

Alabama: Republican Gov. Kay Ivey has moved Alabama's March 31 primary runoffs to July 14, and Republican Secretary of State John Merrill says that voters can cite the coronavirus outbreak as a reason for asking for an absentee ballot, regardless of whether they themselves have contracted the disease. Democrats in the legislature have introduced bills to remove the excuse requirement entirely, but Ivey claimed to the Montgomery Advertiser that she was unaware of any discussions about such a move.

Arizona: Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has asked Arizona's GOP-run state legislature to implement all-mail balloting for the November general election, but one key Republican is opposed. Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, who might challenge Hobbs in 2022, told the Associated Press, "If they want to receive it by mail they can. So why would you mandate it?" Currently, about 75% of Arizona citizens vote by mail.

Kansas: Kansas Democrats are proceeding with their party-run presidential primary on May 2 but will send every registered Democrat in the state a mail-in ballot at the end of the month. Party officials are encouraging all voters to cast mail ballots, which must be postmarked by April 24.

Minnesota: Minnesota Republicans had previously said they'd postpone their upcoming local conventions but have instead decided to hold them online. However, the party hasn't yet decided what to do about its mid-May statewide convention or its congressional district conventions, which are set to begin in the middle of next month.

The conventions will award the GOP's formal endorsement to delegates' preferred candidates, which will be of greatest importance in the 2nd District. There, several Republicans are competing to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Angie Craig, and at least two have said they won't continue on to Minnesota's Aug. 11 primary if they fail to secure the party's backing.

Missouri: Republican Gov. Mike Parson has moved Missouri's April 7 municipal elections to June 2. Missouri has already voted in the presidential primaries, and its statewide primaries for downballot office are not until Aug. 4.

Montana: Several candidates seeking statewide office in Montana this year, including a Democrat and a Republican both running for secretary of state, have called for the state's June 2 primary to be conducted entirely by mail, but a spokesperson for Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock says the governor has not made any decisions and is "considering all options." Bullock is himself a candidate in the primary, where he faces Navy veteran John Mues for the right to take on Republican Sen. Steve Daines in the fall.

New Hampshire: New Hampshire's secretary of state's office says it is considering loosening the excuse requirement for voting absentee. However, Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan wrongly told NHPR that states that have adopted no-excuse absentee voting or voting by mail "have actually shown a decline in their participation in voter turnout." Studies show the exact opposite: Allowing people to vote at home increases turnout by making it easier to vote.

New Jersey: The New Jersey Globe reports that Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy is considering moving to all-mail balloting for the state's June 2 primaries for the presidential race and downballot offices, though Murphy's staff declined to comment on the matter. One difficulty posed by such a change involves independent voters, who are permitted to vote in either party's primary. Such voters would have to be sent two ballots, with instructions to return no more than one, as anyone attempting to vote in both primaries would have both ballots rejected.

Ohio: The date of Ohio's presidential and downballot primary remains uncertain following Republican Gov. Mike DeWine's last-minute decision to cancel in-person voting, which had been set to take place on March 17. Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who late on Monday issued a memo saying the primary would now take place on June 2, said on Tuesday that he anticipates litigation over the date—and indeed, a lawsuit was filed later that same day by the Ohio Democratic Party.

The party's suit asks the Supreme Court to rescind LaRose's directive regarding a June 2 primary and instead require the state to extend the deadline for requesting absentee ballots until April 25; to allow voters to cast absentee ballots as long as they're postmarked by April 28; and to require the state's Board of Elections to count any such ballots that are received by May 8. Notably, the plaintiffs have not asked for a new date for in-person voting.

Legislative leaders are also unhappy with DeWine and LaRose. Republican State House Speaker Larry Householder issued a statement saying that "the legal authority to change the date [of the primary] rests with the Ohio General Assembly – not the courts and not via executive fiat." He said that lawmakers will address the matter when they reconvene as scheduled next week, but so far, Householder has only said that he'll "consider an extension of absentee voting." Much like the Democratic Party, he has not called for a reinstatement of in-person voting (at least, not yet).

Rhode Island: Rhode Island's Board of Elections voted to ask Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo to reschedule the state's April 28 presidential primary to June 2, and a Raimondo spokesperson said the governor "is open to the idea." Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea has said she thinks the state should stay with its current calendar and instead prefers a "predominantly mail ballot" election.

Texas: Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has signed an order allowing local governments to delay their May 2 elections until Nov. 3, the date of this year's general election. Abbott previously promised an announcement later this week about any adjustments that might be made to Texas' May 26 primary runoffs.

Virginia: Virginia's Department of Elections says that all voters will be allowed to cast absentee ballots in the state's May 5 local elections. However, the Virginia Mercury reports that no such decision has yet been made regarding the state's June 9 congressional primaries.

Washington: Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman has asked Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee to postpone Washington's April 28 special elections and suggested they be consolidated with either the state's Aug. 4 downballot primaries or the Nov. 3 general election. These elections do not involve any candidates but instead feature proposed bonds and levies.

Notably, Washington already conducts all of its elections entirely by mail. However, Wyman wrote to Inslee, "circumstances outside of our control could make it impossible" for local election officials to perform their required duties, citing the possibility of "courthouse closures," "workforce reductions of election staff [or] postal staff," and "disruptions with vendors who support election operations."

West Virginia: Republican Secretary of State Mac Warner says there are no plans for West Virginia to delay its May 12 presidential and downballot primary, but all voters will be allowed to request absentee ballots due to the coronavirus.

Wisconsin: Despite growing calls for Wisconsin to delay its April 7 elections, such a move seems unlikely: Democratic Gov. Tony Evers reiterated his opposition to the idea on Tuesday, and Republican Senate Leader Scott Fitzgerald also said he thinks the election should not be postponed. The marquee contests on the ballot are the presidential primaries and a key race for the state Supreme Court, but Evers noted that many nonpartisan local and county-level offices are also up for election. While the term for the Supreme Court post does not begin until August, many terms for local office start in April.

Senate

AZ-Sen: GOP Sen. Martha McSally announced on Wednesday that she was suspending her TV ad campaign for at least 30 days due to the coronavirus situation.

GA-Sen-A, GA-Sen-B: End Citizens United has endorsed 2017 House candidate Jon Ossoff in the May Democratic primary to take on GOP Sen. David Perdue. The group has also thrown its support behind another Democrat, pastor Raphael Warnock, in the November all-party special election primary for Georgia's other U.S. Senate seat.

IA-Sen: Politico reports that the conservative group One Nation is spending $970,000 on a TV, radio and digital ad campaign praising GOP Sen. Joni Ernst for working to lower prescription drug costs.

ME-Sen: GOP Sen. Susan Collins is using a campaign ad to tell voters how she's "suspending traditional campaign events" because of the Coronavirus.

House

FL-15: Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin announced on Tuesday that he would challenge scandal-tarred Rep. Ross Spano in the August GOP primary. Franklin is the head of a regional insurance agency, so he may have access to money. The city commissioner is the first notable candidate to launch an intra-party bid against Spano, who is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for allegedly violating campaign finance laws during his successful bid for the House in Florida's 15th District.

As we've written before, Spano admitted in December of 2018, before he even took office, that he might have broken federal election law by accepting personal loans worth $180,000 from two friends and then turning around and loaning his own campaign $170,000. That's a serious problem, because if you loan money to a congressional candidate with the intent of helping their campaign, you have to adhere to the same laws that limit direction contributions, which in 2018 capped donations at just $2,700 per person.

Spano, who was running for state attorney general before he launched his bid for Congress, argued last month that he'd misunderstood this law. Spano also insisted his congressional campaign had disclosed the loan "before it became public knowledge" in the financial disclosure forms all federal candidates are obligated to file.

That, however, is flat out false: As the Tampa Bay Times' Steve Contorno explained, Spano had failed to file those disclosures by the July 2018 deadline, only submitting them just before Election Day—after the paper had asked about them. Only once those reports were public did the paper learn that the money for Spano's questionable loans came from his friends.

Florida's 15th District, which includes Lakeland and the exurbs of Tampa and Orlando, went from 52-47 Romney to 53-43 Trump. Spano, though, won the seat by a modest 53-47 before his scandal came out, and the GOP could have trouble again especially if Spano wins after a bruising primary.

TX-02: Navy veteran Elisa Cardnell announced Wednesday that she'd withdrawn her name from the May Democratic primary runoff ballot, a move that makes attorney Sima Ladjevardian Team Blue's nominee against GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw. Cardnell had announced last week that she was ending her campaign, but she didn't commit to taking her name off the ballot at the time.

TX-17: Former 32nd District Rep. Pete Sessions picked up an endorsement this week for the May GOP runoff from rocket scientist George Hindman, who took third place in the March 3 runoff. Sessions led that contest with 32% of the vote, while businesswoman Renee Swann beat Hindman 19-18 for the other runoff spot.

Legislative

Special Elections: Republicans won a trio of special election for the Pennsylvania state House on Tuesday night, all in seats the party held, including a contested 18th District in the Philadelphia suburbs that Democrats had hoped to flip.

There, Republican KC Tomlinson, a funeral director and daughter of local state Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, defeated her Democratic opponent, union plumber Howie Hayes, by a 55-45 margin. Bucks County officials had asked a judge to delay the election because Gov. Tom Wolf has asked residents in a large swath of the state to stay home to combat the spread of the coronavirus, but their request was denied. According to unofficial returns, 8,145 voters participated, which was on the lower side for a competitive state House special election in Pennsylvania in recent years.

The 18th had looked promising for Democrats, as Hillary Clinton carried it 53-44 in 2016 and Wolf won it 62-37 two years ago, but it's long supported Republicans further down the ballot—a tradition it continued Tuesday night. However, Hayes has the chance to reverse the result in November, when the two will face off again and when turnout will likely be far higher.

Meanwhile, Republican Eric Davanzo beat Democrat Robert Prah 53-41 in the 58th District, with Libertarian Kenneth Bach taking 7%. And in the 8th District, Republican Timothy Bonner easily defeated Democrat Phil Heasley 75-25. The results mean that the GOP maintains a 110-93 majority in the chamber.

Mayoral

Baltimore, MD Mayor: Former Treasury official Mary Miller released a poll from GQR just before GOP Gov. Larry Hogan moved the state's presidential and downballot primary from April 28 to June 2. Miller's survey found Former Mayor Sheila Dixon leading City Council President Brandon Scott 18-17 in the Democratic primary, while Miller was in third with 12%. An unreleased January poll showed Miller at just 2%.

Election Result Recaps

IL-07: Longtime Democratic Rep. Danny Davis decisively won renomination on Tuesday against attorney Kristine Schanbacher, who raised a notable amount of money. With 75% of precincts reporting, Davis leads Schanbacher 66-12 in this safely blue Chicago seat.

IL-11: Democratic Rep. Bill Foster defeated Will County Board member Rachel Ventura 59-41 in a primary that attracted almost no attention before Election Day. Ventura criticized Foster from the left when she launched her campaign in July, but she raised very little money and didn't attract any major outside support. Foster shouldn't have any trouble winning the general election in this 59-35 Clinton seat in the southwestern Chicago suburbs.

IL-15: Farmer Mary Miller decisively beat Vermilion County Treasurer Darren Duncan 57-22 in the GOP primary to succeed retiring Rep. Jim Shimkus in this safely red seat in downstate Illinois. There are currently only 13 women in the House Republican caucus, and Miller's win gives Team Red a better chance to at least maintain that small number.

Cook County, IL State’s Attorney: Incumbent Kim Foxx won the very expensive Democratic primary by defeating attorney Bill Conway 50-31. Foxx, whose 2016 win was a huge victory for criminal justice reform groups, should have no trouble in the fall in heavily Democratic Cook County.

Los Angeles County, CA District Attorney: While there are still some ballots to be counted from the March 3 nonpartisan primary, there's no question anymore that incumbent Jackie Lacey has been forced into a November general election against former San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón. Lacey, as of Tuesday evening, is at 48.8% of the vote, which is just shy of the majority she needed to win outright, while Gascón leads public defender Rachel Rossi 28-23 for second.

The Los Angeles Times reported after Tuesday's tabulations that Lacey would need to win 53,000 of the 64,000 ballots that still needed to be counted in order to get a majority of the vote, which is almost certainly not going to happen. The paper also notes that, even if Rossi won every single remaining vote, she'd still be in third place. Both Gascón and Rossi have been running to Lacey's left, so Gascón may be able to pick up most of Rossi's supporters for the fall campaign.

Morning Digest: Progressive Marie Newman unseats anti-choice Rep. Dan Lipinski in Democratic 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.

Illinois held its downballot primaries on Tuesday, and you can find the results here. We’ll have a rundown in our next Morning Digest.

Leading Off

IL-03: In a huge win for progressives, businesswoman Marie Newman defeated eight term Rep. Dan Lipinski, who has long been one of the most conservative members of the Democratic caucus. With 99% of precincts in, Newman’s lead stands at 47-45 in their expensive primary rematch in Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District. While Newman had to fight hard to beat the powerful incumbent on Tuesday after narrowly losing to him two years ago, she shouldn’t have any trouble prevailing in the general election in this 55-40 Clinton seat in the Chicago area.

Lipinski made a name for himself during his nearly 16 years in Congress as a loud opponent of abortion rights and same sex-marriage, but he proved to be very tough to dislodge. Lipinski’s father, Bill Lipinski, represented this area from 1983 until 2005, and plenty of primary voters still supported the family and shared their conservative views. The younger Lipinski received the Democratic nomination in 2004 from party leaders after his father dropped his re-election campaign after winning the primary, and much of the old Chicago machine remained loyal to him throughout the years.

Lipinski turned back a well-funded primary challenge in 2008 by a 54-25 margin, and he didn’t face another serious threat for the next decade. During that time the congressman repeatedly voted to defund Planned Parenthoodopposed the Affordable Care Act, and refused to endorse Barack Obama's re-election campaign in 2012—despite the fact that his district is solidly blue.

Newman challenged Lipinski from the left in 2018, and while she looked very much like a longshot against the well-funded and entrenched incumbent for most of the race, she ended up holding him to a 51-49 win. Lipinski, though, quickly proved that he wasn’t going to change his conservative ways after that near-loss by headlining the anti-abortion “March for Life” in early 2019, an event he’d skipped the previous year when he was fighting to win renomination. Lipinski also signed onto an amicus brief alongside more than two hundred Republican Congress members asking the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Newman launched her second bid for this seat in May of 2019, and this time, it was clear to everyone from the beginning that she was a serious threat to Lipinski. While the incumbent enjoyed a massive financial advantage during his last campaign, the two candidates ended up spending a comparable amount this time. EMILY’s List also deployed $1 million on Newman’s behalf, while major outside groups didn’t do much to help Lipinski this time. Newman also picked up a high-profile endorsement in February from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who memorably took Lipinski to task by declaring, “[I]f it were up to Dan Lipinski, I wouldn't be able to marry my wife.”

Still, Lipinski had some strong advantages for his second campaign. The congressman still enjoyed the support of much of the Chicago Democratic establishment, including powerful state House Speaker Mike Madigan, and many labor unions. Two other candidates, activist Rush Darwish and underfunded perennial candidate Charles Hughes, were also on the ballot, and there was a real possibility that they could take enough support from Newman to allow Lipinski to win with just a plurality of the vote. However, this time it was Newman who ended the primary night as the victor.

Election Changes

Alaska: Alaska Democrats had already switched to mail balloting for their April 4 presidential primary before the coronavirus outbreak, so the election is proceeding as planned. Party officials say they haven't yet changed their plans to offer in-person voting at a limited number of sites, but they're exhorting voters to postmark their ballots by the March 27 deadline in case that changes.

Connecticut: Democratic Secretary of State Denise Merrill says discussions are underway about delaying the state's April 28 presidential primary, which the CT Mirror says Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont has the power to unilaterally move. Merrill says she will issue a recommendation to Lamont but added, "We don’t need to make that decision now." In addition, because Connecticut's constitution requires voters to have an excuse to vote absentee, Merrill has asked Lamont to declare that all voters may request an absentee ballot due to the pandemic. While lawmakers have passed an amendment to change this provision, they need to do so a second time after 2020 before it can come into an effect.

Delaware: Elections Commissioner Anthony Albence, an appointee of Democratic Gov. John Carney, says there's no provision in state law allowing Delaware to postpone its April 28 presidential primary, though presumably the legislature could pass a bill changing the date. Delaware's constitution also currently requires an excuse to vote absentee. While lawmakers have passed an amendment to change this provision, they need to do so a second time after 2020 before it can come into effect like in Connecticut.

Florida: A federal judge rejected a last-minute request filed late on Monday night to extend the absentee deadline for Florida's presidential primary, which took place on Tuesday, until March 27. However, the judge did not rule on the underlying merits of the lawsuit but rather on plaintiffs' request for a temporary restraining order, so it's possible absentee balloting could be re-opened when a final ruling is issued.

Georgia: Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says his office is contemplating a plan to mail absentee ballot applications to the 2 million Georgia voters over the age of 60, and possibly to all 7.2 million registered voters regardless of age. Voting rights advocates, however, want Raffensperger to skip the application step and instead simply mail out ballots to all voters, but the secretary of state's office claims it cannot afford to administer an all-mail election.

Hawaii: Like their counterparts in Alaska, Hawaii Democrats are conducting their April 4 presidential primary largely by mail, but party officials say the fate of 21 in-person polling locations remains uncertain at this time.

Maryland: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has moved the date of Maryland's presidential and downballot primaries from April 28 to June 2. The special election for the state's vacant 7th Congressional District will still go forward on April 28, but it will be conducted entirely by mail.

Minnesota: Democrats in Minnesota have canceled their upcoming local and congressional district-level conventions, which had been scheduled throughout April and May, and will instead issue endorsements by online vote. No decision has yet been made about the party's statewide convention, which is set for May 30-31. Republicans, meanwhile, have postponed their local and district-level conventions through April 15.

Minnesota's primary for downballot offices is not until Aug. 11, and party conventions don't impact ballot access. However, candidates who fail to win their party's official endorsement during convention season often drop out rather than continue on to the primary.

New Mexico: Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver says she plans to conduct "a heavy push toward absentee balloting" ahead of New Mexico's June 2 primary for the presidential race and downballot offices. She also says that any adjustments to in-person polling sites are "still under consideration," but it doesn't sound like a discussion of changing the date of the election is underway.

Texas: According to the Houston Chronicle, election officials in Texas are exploring a move to all-mail balloting for the state's May 26 runoffs, though the secretary of state's office would not confirm whether it's considering the idea.

Senate

AZ-Sen: Politico reports that the conservative group One Nation is spending $700,000 on a TV, radio, and digital ad campaign that commends GOP Sen. Martha McSally's work to expand mental health care for veterans.

GA-Sen-A: On behalf of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the University of Georgia is out with the first poll we've seen of the May Democratic primary to take on GOP Sen. David Perdue. 2017 House nominee Jon Ossoff is in first with 31%, while former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson edges out 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Sarah Riggs Amico 16-15 for the second spot in a likely July runoff.

Maine: Candidate filing closed Tuesday for Maine's June 9 party primaries, and the state has a list of contenders that can be downloaded on this page. Both the primary and general elections for downballot offices will be held using instant-runoff voting.  

ME-Sen: GOP Sen. Susan Collins easily won re-election in 2014, but her bid for a fifth term has already turned into a very expensive affair. The Bangor Daily News reports that, in the past week alone, Senate Majority PAC spent $600,000 against Collins, while the conservative 1820 PAC deployed $1 million against Democratic state House Speaker Sara Gideon.

Whoever wins the Democratic nomination will also benefit from about $4 million that several organizations, including Daily Kos, raised after Collins became the decisive vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018.

Four Democrats filed to take on Collins, who does not face an intra-party challenger. Gideon has the support of prominent national Democratic groups, including the DSCC, and she's raised far more money than any of her primary rivals. Former Google executive Ross LaJeunesse has been doing some self-funding, though, and he launched a $200,000 ad buy at the start of March. The other two candidates are 2018 gubernatorial candidate Betsy Sweet and attorney Bre Kidman.

This will almost certainly be the most competitive re-election contest of Collins' career, and even the senator didn't dispute the idea that her once mighty approval rating had taken a dive when she was asked about it back in July. Polling has been infrequent, though, so we don't fully know the extent to which Collins has damaged her reputation with swing voters. Maine also moved sharply to the right in 2016 thanks to its large population of white voters without college degrees. Daily Kos Elections rates this contest as Lean Republican, but this is one we'll be watching closely.

Gubernatorial

NJ-Gov: Assemblyman Jamel Holley said on Friday that he'd been approached about challenging Gov. Phil Murphy in next year's Democratic primary by unnamed "[e]lected officials, community-based people, clergy." Holley continued, "I have no immediate plans. I haven't considered it. I haven't given any thought to it. But there are conversations."

Holley has been a prominent opponent of an unsuccessful bill to remove religious exemptions for school vaccinations. This attracted the attention of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is notorious for spreading misinformation about vaccines, and he headlined a fundraiser for the assemblyman in January. While scientists overwhelmingly agree that vaccines are safe, Holley argued in February that he'd seen children who had been "injured from vaccines."

WV-Gov: On Tuesday, Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango received an endorsement from Sen. Joe Manchin, who is the most prominent Democrat in West Virginia politics. Salango is competing in the May primary to take on GOP Gov. Jim Justice.

House

CA-50: Former GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter was sentenced to 11 months in prison on Tuesday, and he was ordered to surrender to the authorities by May 29. Hunter pleaded guilty last year to a single charge of conspiracy to convert campaign funds to personal use, and he resigned from Congress in January. Hunter's wife and former campaign manager, Margaret Hunter, pleaded guilty to her role in the scandal several months before as part of a deal with prosecutors, and she is set to be sentenced in April.

When prosecutors first indicted the Hunters, they alleged the couple had spent a total of $250,000 in campaign money on tuition to their children's private school, oral surgery, and vacations in Italy and Hawaii. In a later filing, however, they also said the congressman had used campaign cash to "pursue a series of intimate personal relationships" with at least five different women, including lobbyists and congressional aides. Margaret Hunter also admitted in her guilty plea that over $500 in campaign funds had been used to fly a pet rabbit on a plane.

FL-15: On Monday, Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin filed paperwork with the FEC for a potential campaign against freshman Rep. Ross Spano in the August GOP primary. Spano is under federal investigation by the Justice Department for allegedly violating campaign finance laws during his 2018 primary.

House

ME-02: Three Republicans are competing to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Jared Golden in a northern Maine seat that swung from 53-44 Obama to 51-41 Trump.

The Republican with the most money at the end of 2019 was 2018 Senate nominee Eric Brakey, a former state senator who has the endorsement of the anti-tax Club for Growth. Also in the contest are former state Rep. Dale Crafts, who has the support of former Gov. Paul LePage, and real estate agent Adrienne Bennett. A fourth Republican, Penobscot County Treasurer John Hiatt, entered and exited the race in December.

Brakey ended 2019 with a $252,000 to $134,000 cash-on-hand lead over Crafts, while Bennett had just $37,000 to spend. Golden had $1.3 million available to defend this seat.

Mayoral

San Diego, CA Mayor: On Monday evening, Democrat Barbara Bry took a 9-vote lead over Republican Scott Sherman, a fellow member of the City Council, for the second-place spot in the November general election. More ballots were counted the following night, and Bry’s advantage widened to 169 votes. Democratic Assemblyman Todd Gloria secured first place in the March 3 nonpartisan primary, so if Bry maintains her edge over Sherman, Team Blue would be guaranteed to pick up this mayor's office.

Grab Bag

Deaths: Former GOP Rep. Richard Hanna, who represented a seat in upstate New York from 2011 until 2017, died Sunday at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. Hanna was one of the few relatively moderate Republicans in the caucus during his tenure, and he famously endorsed Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016.

Hanna, who had become wealthy in the construction business, sought elected office for the first time when he challenged freshman Democratic Rep. Michael Arcuri in 2008 in what was then numbered the 24th District. While Barack Obama only ended up carrying the historically red seat 51-48, it was still a surprise when Hanna held Arcuri to a surprisingly small 52-48 win in what was a terrible year for the GOP.

Hanna sought a rematch the following cycle and unseated Arcuri 53-47. However, the new congressman quickly proved to be very different than his many tea party-aligned fellow freshman. At a 2012 rally supporting the Equal Rights Amendment, Hanna notably advised women to donate to Democrats, saying, "Contribute your money to people who speak out on your behalf, because the other side—my side—has a lot of it." Hanna was also the rare congressional Republican to support same-sex marriage and abortion rights.

Hanna had no trouble winning in 2012 in the redrawn 22nd District, but he faced a serious primary challenge from the right two years later from Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney. Hanna decisively outspent Tenney and received air support from a group dedicated to electing pro-same-sex marriage Republicans, but he only turned her back by a modest 54-46 margin.

Hanna announced in December of 2015 that he would not run for a fourth term, a move he insisted had nothing to do with Tenney's decision to seek a rematch a few weeks earlier. Tenney won the GOP nod this time against a candidate backed by Hanna, and the outgoing congressman never supported her for the general election. Hanna later mulled a 2018 run for governor or an independent bid for his old seat, but he ended up endorsing Democrat Anthony Brindisi's successful bid to oust Tenney.

Voter Registration: As the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc with the administration of U.S. elections, experts are exhorting states to switch to voting by mail to keep the public and poll workers safe—and to ensure democracy carries on.

For safety’s sake, it’s also critical that every state offers residents the opportunity to register to vote online, or to update their existing registration records. However, as the map seen here shows, 10 states currently do not allow online registration for the November general election:

Arkansas Maine Mississippi Montana New Hampshire North Carolina Oklahoma (passed by lawmakers but still not fully implemented) South Dakota Texas Wyoming

Collectively, these 10 states account for 17% of the U.S. population, or one in six Americans. Americans must have the option to register safely and securely online when in-person opportunities will be limited for the foreseeable future. Each of these states must immediately enact online voter registration. If they do not, Congress has the power to mandate and fund the shift to online voter registration to ensure the November general elections can still proceed amid this historic global crisis.

Morning Digest: Ohio cancels in-person voting despite judge denying request to delay Tuesday 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

Ohio, Arizona, Florida, Illinois: With the coronavirus pandemic leading to widespread shutdowns, it appears that in-person voting in Tuesday's primary in Ohio will not go forward, though the three other states with elections Tuesday said they would proceed as planned.

On Monday evening, a judge rejected a request supported by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine to postpone the election until June 2, calling the idea a "terrible precedent," but DeWine responded with a defiant statement saying that "it simply isn't possible to hold an election tomorrow that will be considered legitimate by Ohioans." The governor later declared that the director of the state's Department of Health, Amy Acton, would "order the polls closed as a health emergency," which she did shortly before 11 PM ET.

Though the petition to delay the election was unopposed by the state, Franklin County Judge Richard Frye cited a litany of reasons not to postpone the primary. Among other factors, he noted that neither DeWine nor legislative leaders had called an emergency session of the legislature to address the matter. Adding to the confusion, the Republican speaker of the House, Larry Householder, said prior to the governor's last statement on Monday night that he opposed DeWine's efforts and insisted the election would indeed go forward on Tuesday.

Campaign Action

DeWine's decision to ignore Frye's ruling could result in him and other officials, particularly Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose, being held in contempt of court. However, as election law expert Ned Foley noted, Frye did not order the primary to proceed but rather denied a request that the election be delayed, meaning that Acton's order might not have defied a judicial command. DeWine also added that LaRose will "seek a remedy through the courts to extend voting options."

At this point, if anyone were to succeed in a last-minute attempt to override DeWine and Acton, election administration would unfold disastrously. Many poll workers were mistakenly told to stay home Tuesday while matters were up in the air on Monday, and at least one told the Columbus Dispatch earlier in the evening that she still doesn't plan to open her polling site on Tuesday—and that was before Acton's order came down.

As of this writing just before midnight on Monday night, it appears that in-person voting will not go forward on Tuesday, assuming officials heed Acton's order and no further legal actions are forthcoming. That may not be a safe assumption, though: In response to DeWine's announcement, Republican state Rep. John Cross declared, "We have a constitutional crisis now in Ohio," and warned, "I will be fighting in the AM to keep our polling locations OPEN in the 83rd district with law enforcement as the Ohio Department of Health can not shut down an election."

As another election law expert, Rick Hasen, pointed out, while Acton may have the authority to close polling sites, that does not necessarily give DeWine the authority to reschedule primary day. It's possible this problem could be retroactively resolved, Hasen says, if the legislature were to pass a law setting a new date for in-person voting. If not, Ohio would find itself in the bizarre situation of trying to decide a primary election based solely on absentee votes.

LaRose, however, doesn't seem interested in waiting on lawmakers. He released his own memo in response to Acton's insisting that the primary had in fact been rescheduled for June 2 and forbidding local election officials "from tabulating and reporting any results until the close of polls" (which would be 7:30 PM ET) on that day.

Meanwhile, officials in Arizona, Florida, and Illinois all reiterated on Monday that they would proceed with in-person voting on Tuesday. However, whether the primaries end on Tuesday is a different question: Voting rights advocates filed a lawsuit in Florida late on Monday asking a federal court to extend the deadline to request an absentee ballot to March 24, and to order that election officials count all such ballots postmarked by that date and received by March 27.

Election Changes

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to alter life in the United States, we’ve added a new section to the Digest specifically devoted to potential or actual changes to election dates and procedures. As these decisions are finalized, we will update both of our 2020 calendars: one for statewide primary dates and the other for key downballot elections.

AL-Sen, AL-01, AL-02: On Sunday, GOP Secretary of State John Merrill requested an opinion from the state attorney general's office on whether Republican Gov. Kay Ivey could postpone the March 31 primary runoffs due to the coronavirus. Merrill said that Alabama law doesn't explicitly allow anyone to delay an election once it has been scheduled, but that he wanted Attorney General Steve Marshall to issue a legal opinion on whether Ivey had the authority to take this action now that she's declared a state of emergency.

For now, though, the GOP runoffs for the U.S. Senate and the 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts are still set for March 31. Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl, who is running in the 1st District, said Monday that he was suspending all of his political advertising due to the ongoing situation.

That same day, the anti-tax Club for Growth also announced that it was endorsing former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville in the Senate runoff and 2018 candidate Barry Moore in the race for the 2nd District. The Club threw its support behind former state Sen. Bill Hightower, who is competing with Carl, during the summer of last year.

Kentucky: At the recommendation of Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear has issued an executive order postponing Kentucky's primaries both for the presidential race and for downballot office from May 19 to June 23. To effect the change, Beshear and Adams relied on what one report described as a provision of law that had never before been used. Because Kentucky's filing deadline passed in January, it's unaffected by Beshear's order.

New York: Officials in New York are considering postponing the state's presidential primary, which is set for April 28, and consolidating it with the primaries for downballot office that will be held on June 23. Such a move would also include delaying the special election for the state's vacant 27th Congressional District, which is likewise scheduled for April 28. Douglas Kellner, the co-chair of the state Board of Elections, told the New York Times that a decision might not come for another two weeks.

Meanwhile, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an order Monday moving village-level elections that had been scheduled for Wednesday to April 28. Presumably, if the April primary is delayed until June, these village elections would shift with them. Cuomo also reduced the signature requirement to get on the June ballot to 30% of the amount normally required by law and ordered that all petitioning halt as of Tuesday evening.

Pennsylvania: As Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf began weighing whether to delay the state's April 28 primary for the presidential race and downballot offices, a judge in Bucks County denied an emergency request from local officials seeking to postpone a hotly contested special election for the state House set to take place on Tuesday—despite the fact that Wolf has asked residents in southeastern Pennsylvania to stay home.

Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai, who is responsible for scheduling all special elections for his chamber, had refused to change the date. Turzai originally set the race for the 18th House District for March 17 rather than consolidate it with the April election, likely because he anticipated that Democratic turnout would be lower in mid-March with no other races on the ballot than it would be for the presidential primary. Two other special elections for the House in red districts are also taking place Tuesday in western Pennsylvania.

As for the presidential primary, Wolf said that it's "too far out for anyone to make a decision." Like in Wisconsin (see our item below), it's not clear whether the governor would have the power to unilaterally change the date, which is set by state law.

Puerto Rico: As expected, Puerto Rico's Senate passed a bill on Monday moving the commonwealth's presidential primary from March 29 to April 26, though the House apparently will not take it up until next week. According to USA Today, Gov. Wanda Vazquez supports the change.

South Carolina: Republican Gov. Henry McMaster has issued an executive order postponing all local elections in South Carolina that had been slated to take place before May 1. The measure affects 32 different races across the state, a full list of which can be found here. The order does not impact the state's June 23 primary for state and federal office. Officials have said that the filing period, which runs from noon on March 16 to noon on March 30, remains undisturbed, though they've asked candidates to schedule appointments to file their paperwork in order to minimize crowding.

Texas: Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said on Monday that he will announce later this week how Texas plans to proceed with its primary runoffs, which are scheduled for May 26. In a large number of primaries, which were held on March 3, no candidate won a majority of the vote, which under Texas law means that a second round of voting between the top two finishers must take place.

UT-Gov: Businessman Jeff Burningham said on Friday that he would no longer collect signatures to make it onto the June GOP primary ballot because of the dangers of the coronavirus and would instead compete at the April 25 state party convention. Both major parties also announced late last week that these state party gatherings would take place online rather than in-person.

Utah allows statewide candidates to reach the primary by turning in 28,000 valid signatures or by taking enough support at their party convention, though candidates have the option to try both methods. Former state House Speaker Greg Hughes announced in January that he would only go through the GOP convention route, while Salt Lake County Council chair Aimee Winder Newton said last month that she would do the same thing because of the high cost of gathering petitions.

Former party chair Thomas Wright, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, and former Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman, though, have each turned in signatures; the state has announced that Wright has submitted enough valid petitions to appear on the primary ballot, while Cox and Huntsman's signatures are still being verified.

Wisconsin: Some Wisconsin politicians are calling for the state to postpone its early April elections, but Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has so far opposed the idea, saying he's not considering a delay "at this time." Should his position change, experts are divided on whether Evers could act unilaterally, or whether the legislature would have to pass new legislation changing the date. Wisconsin is set to conduct its presidential primary on April 7, as well as general elections in an important race for the state Supreme Court and several other judicial posts.

Senate

AZ-Sen: Two independent polls released on Monday both showed Democrat Mark Kelly leading appointed GOP Sen. Martha McSally by margins comparable to what several other recent polls have found. Monmouth gave Kelly a 50-44 advantage, while Marist's survey for NBC had him ahead by a smaller 48-45.

CO-Sen: Former Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Monday that the state had verified that he'd turned in enough signatures to appear on the June Democratic primary ballot to take on GOP Sen. Cory Gardner, and that he would no longer compete at the state party convention.

Colorado allows candidates to reach the primary either by turning in enough valid signatures or by winning the support of at least 30% of the delegates at their party's convention, though contenders have the option to try both methods. Former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, who is Hickenlooper's only well-funded intra-party opponent, is trying to make the ballot by taking part in the convention.

Iowa: Candidate filing closed Friday for Iowa's June 2 primaries, and the state has a list of contenders available here. Iowa has an unusual law that requires party conventions to select nominees in races where no candidate receives over 35% of the vote in the primary.

IA-Sen: Five Democrats are competing to take on GOP Sen. Joni Ernst, who flipped this seat six years ago. National Democrats, including the DSCC, have consolidated behind real estate executive Theresa Greenfield, who had a large financial advantage over her primary rivals at the end of 2019.

Another contender to watch is self-funder Eddie Mauro, who lost the 2018 primary for the 3rd District to eventual winner Cynthia Axne 58-26. Also in the race are retired Navy Vice Adm. Michael Franken, attorney Kimberly Graham, and real estate agent Cal Woods, though none of them have brought in much money through December.

Iowa took a sharp turn to the right in 2014 and 2016, though Democrats rebounded last cycle. Ernst has done little to distinguish herself from Trump one way or the other, and her fate is likely tied closely to the presidential contest. Daily Kos Elections rates the contest as Likely Republican, but a more competitive presidential race in the state would give Democrats a better chance against Ernst.

Gubernatorial

VT-Gov: Candidate fundraising reports are in covering the period of July 2019 through mid-March of this year, and GOP Gov. Phil Scott has less cash-on-hand than either of his two main Democratic rivals. Scott took in $52,000 during this period, with almost all of that amount coming in during the final month-and-a-half of the fundraising period, and he had $95,000 to spend.

On the Democratic side, former state education secretary Rebecca Holcombe raised $378,000 and had $129,000 on-hand. Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman took in $156,000 and transferred another $27,000, and he had $104,000 in the bank. Attorney Patrick Winburn self-funded almost all of the $106,000 he brought in, and he had $35,000 left after an opening advertising campaign.

WV-Gov: The state AFL-CIO has endorsed Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango in the May Democratic primary to face GOP Gov. Jim Justice.

House

IA-01: Democrat Abby Finkenauer flipped this northeast Iowa district last cycle, and national Republicans quickly consolidated behind state Rep. Ashley Hinson to try to get it back. Hinson's only intra-party opponent is businessman Thomas Hansen, who has raised very little money. This seat swung from 56-43 Obama to 49-45 Trump.

IA-02: Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack is retiring from a southeast Iowa seat that swung from 56-43 Obama to 49-45 Trump, and former state Sen. Rita Hart faces no opposition in the Democratic primary to succeed him.

On the GOP side, state Republican officeholders have consolidated behind state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who was Team Red's nominee against Loebsack in 2008, 2010, and 2014. Miller-Meeks' main intra-party foe is former Illinois Rep. Bobby Schilling, who was elected to his one term in Congress in a seat located just across the Mississippi River in 2010; Schilling lost re-election two years later to now-DCCC chair Cheri Bustos, and she decisively defeated him in their 2014 rematch. Schilling has struggled to raise money for his first campaign in Iowa, and he hasn't attracted any help from major outside groups so far.

Three other Republicans are also in, but none of them appear to be running credible campaigns.

IA-03: Democrat Cynthia Axne unseated GOP incumbent David Young 49-47 last cycle, and Young is running to try to reclaim this Des Moines-area district. Young's only primary foe is Army veteran Bill Schafer, who has raised very little money and doesn't appear to be a threat. This seat swung from 51-47 Obama to 49-45 Trump.

IA-04: GOP Rep. Steve King had been safe for years in a red northwestern Iowa seat that moved from 53-45 Romney all the way to 61-34 Trump, but he now faces both a competitive primary and general election campaign.

King only narrowly beat Democrat J. D. Scholten 50-47 last cycle after voters learned about a week before Election Day that the congressman was rubbing shoulders with international white supremacist candidates and hate groups, and Scholten is running again. Scholten, who has no primary opposition, didn't attract much outside attention until late in the campaign, but he ended December with a credible $540,000 on-hand.

King also picked up four intra-party challengers after he was stripped of his committee assignments early last year for musing to the New York Times, "White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization—how did that language become offensive?" State Sen. Randy Feenstra ended 2019 with a huge $489,000 to $32,000 cash-on-hand lead over King, while self-funding Army veteran Bret Richards had $100,000 to spend.

Two other Republicans, Woodbury County Supervisor Jeremy Taylor and real estate developer Steven Reeder, didn't have much money, but they could make it more difficult for anyone to take the 35% of the vote needed to win outright.

While King has little money or outside support, he very well could win another term. Voters in this seat have long tolerated his racism, and the congressman could benefit as memories of his January 2019 comments fade. There's also no telling what would happen if this nomination goes to a convention.

Idaho: Candidate filing closed Friday for Idaho's May 19 primaries, and the state has a list of contenders available here. We're not expecting much action in the Gem State this year, though: GOP Sen. Jim Risch and Republican Reps. Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson don't face any serious primary opponents, and they're very unlikely to have trouble in November in their deep-red constituencies.

Nevada: Candidate filing closed Friday for Nevada's June 9 primaries, and the Nevada Independent has put together a list of contenders here.

NV-02: While there was serious talk throughout 2019 that Rep. Mark Amodei could face a serious GOP primary challenger in this reliably red northern Nevada seat, it doesn't appear that the congressman will have much to worry about now that filing has closed. Amodei's only intra-party foe is Joel Beck, who challenged him two years ago and took third place with just 8%.

NV-03: Six Republicans filed to challenge freshman Democratic Rep. Susie Lee in a seat in the Las Vegas suburbs that both Barack Obama and Donald Trump very narrowly carried, but only two of them look noteworthy.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is backing former professional wrestler Dan Rodimer, a World Wrestling Entertainment alum who was accused of assault three different times from 2010 to 2013; Rodimer pleaded guilty to battery in one of those incidents, while no charges were filed in the other two. The other candidate worth watching is former state Treasurer Dan Schwartz, who has been self-funding almost his entire campaign.

Both men lost primaries last cycle: Rodimer lost a contest for a competitive state Senate seat by a narrow 40-38 margin, while Schwartz took on establishment favorite Adam Laxalt in the race for governor and went down by a brutal 72-9 margin.

NV-04: Eight Republicans are running against Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford, who is defending a seat in the northern Las Vegas area that moved from 54-44 Obama to 50-45 Clinton. Horsford ended last year with $1 million on-hand, which was far more than any of his Republican rivals.

The candidates with the most money at the end of 2019 were former Assemblyman Jim Marchant, who lost re-election in 2018 after one term, and insurance agency owner Samuel Peters. Both men have been self-funding much of their campaigns, and Marchant held a small $209,000 to $206,000 cash-on-hand edge at the end of 2019. Just behind was businesswoman Lisa Song Sutton, who had $187,000 to spend.

Businesswoman Randi Reed and Charles Navarro, a former district director for former Rep. Cresent Hardy, each were well behind with just under $35,000 on-hand. Also in the contest are Nye County Commissioner Leo Blundo and two other Republicans who each had less than $10,000 to spend.

Mayoral

Baltimore, MD Mayor: State Sen. Mary Washington announced Monday that she was suspending her campaign for the Democratic nod so she could focus on her work in the legislature as the coronavirus emergency continues. It doesn’t sound like Washington plans to rejoin the April 28 primary since she referred to her campaign in the past tense and added, “We will work to ensure the next Mayor is held to the standards we deserve, and push them relentlessly to do the hard, bold work this city needs.”

Special Elections

Special Elections: There are three special elections set for Tuesday in Pennsylvania, including an important pickup opportunity for Democrats in the suburbs of Philadelphia. However, a judge rejected a last-minute request to postpone this hotly contested race, even though Gov. Tom Wolf has asked residents in southeastern Pennsylvania to stay home to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, so turnout could be very low and election administration could suffer. See our Pennsylvania item in the "Election Changes" section above for more on these developments.

PA-HD-08: This is a Republican district in the Mercer area that became vacant when former Rep. Tedd Nesbit became a member of the Mercer County Court of Common Pleas. The Democratic candidate is businessman Phil Heasley and the Republican is Grove City College professor Tim Bonner. This is a strongly Republican district that voted for Donald Trump 71-24 and Mitt Romney 67-32

PA-HD-18: Democrats have a big pickup opportunity in the Philadelphia suburbs, where the 18th District district became vacant after former GOP Rep. Gene DiGirolamo was elected Bucks County commissioner last year.

The Democratic candidate for this seat, which is located entirely in the city of Bensalem, is union plumber Howie Hayes while the Republican is funeral director KC Tomlinson. Hayes has the backing of multiple unions, including the AFL-CIO and the American Federation of Teachers. Tomlinson is from a prominent local family and her father, state Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, is well-known in the area. The elder Tomlinson represented this district for two terms immediately before DiGirolamo, and his current Senate district contains all of the 18th House District.

On paper, this seat looks favorable for Team Blue, since it's been solidly Democratic at the presidential level, backing Hillary Clinton 53-44 and Barack Obama 58-41. However, it's been much more amenable to supporting Republicans downballot: DiGirolamo had held this seat since he was first elected in 1994, and thanks to his well-known personal brand in the area, won his last re-election effort 57-43 in 2018 despite the blue wave.

For Democrats, flipping this seat has higher stakes than a typical pickup opportunity. This chamber is a top target for Democrats in the fall and a win here would lower the number of seats Democrats need to flip to take control of the Pennsylvania House from nine to eight.

PA-HD-58: This is a Republican district in the Jeannette area, east of Pittsburgh. This seat became vacant when former Rep. Justin Walsh became a judge in Westmoreland County last year. The Democratic candidate is Army veteran Robert Prah Jr. and the Republican is union carpenter Eric Davanzo. There is also a Libertarian in the running, businessman Ken Bach. This is a solidly Republican district that supported Trump 63-34 and Romney 55-43.

These three seats are the only vacancies in this chamber, which Republicans control 107-93.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: It just wouldn't be an election cycle in Nevada without wealthy perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian on the GOP primary ballot. Tarkanian moved to Douglas County in northern Nevada following his 2018 defeat in the 3rd Congressional District in suburban Las Vegas, and he filed on Friday to challenge County Commissioner Dave Nelson, a fellow Republican. Tarkanian has unsuccessfully sought various elected offices a total of six times from 2004 through last cycle, and we'll see if his seventh time is a charm.

Republicans are trying to get people killed (and are being stunningly effective)

The situation in Italy is spiraling out of control, with infections and deaths spiking by the hour. 

BREAKING: Another HUGE increase in #CoronaVirus infections in Italy �� 3 590 infected and 368 dead today alone. - 24 747 infected. - 1 809 dead. - 7.3% death rate. This is a human tragedy �

— PeterSweden (@PeterSweden7) March 15, 2020

The United States is on track to emulate Italy, both in the reach and severity of the human and economic toll. One party is doing its best to save lives. Unfortunately, it’s not the party in control of the White House, Senate, or wide swaths of the media. And those Republican efforts to confuse, obfuscate, and obstruct a real response are dismayingly effective. Let us count the ways. 

Impeached President Donald Trump

From disbanding the White House pandemic preparedness task force to refusing to let the U.S. use the World Health Organization COVID-19 test, to his daily lies, it’s obvious that the rot starts at the very top. What did people think was going to happen when they put a bigoted, serial sexual harasser reality TV star in charge of the country? Those who vote on racial animus and misogyny are getting a daily reminder of what that costs our country. And ironically, or perhaps not so much so, they are the ones who will bear the brunt of the coming pandemic. 

Meanwhile, Trump continues to model poor behavior; he shows on a daily basis that he is the single biggest impediment to the kind of national behavioral changes we need to see to arrest this disease with the least amount of damage possible.

Trump has decided the entire coronavirus mess is a dastardly plot to deny him a second term. He is incapable of considering the human toll of the disease, or the economic ramifications to everyday Americans. He’s concerned only about how it affects his reelection. And again, his acolytes take their cues from the top, such as the Trish Regan abomination that adorns the top of this post. 

Regan did end up losing her prime time show over that segment, showing that at least someone at Fox corporate realizes that killing off their core demographic (their median age is 65). But she’s not the only pushing the theory that this is all one big political ploy to damage Trump. Trump’s very own outgoing chief of staff has been making that case for weeks. “The press was covering their hoax of the day because they thought it would bring down the president,” Mulvaney told attendees at the conservative CPAC conference, at the same time the disease was spreading among its attendees. “The reason you’re seeing so much attention to [the coronavirus] today is that they think this is going to be what brings down the president. That’s what this is all about.” 

And of course, let’s not forget Trump: 

�They�re trying to scare everybody, from meetings, cancel the meetings, close the schools � you know, destroy the country. And that�s ok, as long as we can win the election,� POTUS told guests at Mar-a-Lago last weekend. https://t.co/UxZb0GumFU

— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) March 15, 2020

He literally says it’s okay if the country is destroyed as long as he wins reelection. He doesn't give a shit about the economic or human toll of the pandemic and will act only to safeguard his electoral effort. And that’s why we don’t have testing. He thinks a higher number of confirmed cases makes him look bad. 

President Trump "did not push to do aggressive additional testing in recent weeks [because] more testing might have led to more cases being discovered of coronavirus outbreak, and the president had made clear the lower the numbers on coronavirus, the better for the president" https://t.co/aa2QHQVbPk

— Derek Thompson (@DKThomp) March 12, 2020

We all knew this. Even Republicans knew this when they acquitted him during the impeachment trial. Yet they didn’t care. So they own this: Every death, every job lost. It’s all on them. 

The Trump executive branch

Donald Trump had white nationalist Stephen Miller and idiot-boy Jared Kushner whip up a random-ass “I’m doing stuff” speech just hours before airing, with little regard to any consequences their spur-of-the-moment “proposals” would create. Among them, a complete ban on all travel and commerce between the United States and Europe that single-handedly almost completely crashed the US economy. Embarrassingly, the administration had to walk that back—no, it didn't apply to the cargo. And no, it didn’t apply to Americans. (So … what’s the point? Americans have super awesome immunity powers?) Yet in the panic that situation created, Americans rushed back home and … created these kinds of scenes at US customs points of entry:

#BREAKING: Passengers stuck in long lines for immigration at @DFWAirport tell us there are no offers of hand sanitizer, gloves, or masks from U.S. Customs / Immigration. Travelers say they�ve had no screenings of temp yet and no one following #coronavirus protocols. pic.twitter.com/9viCnWdncz

— Jason Whitely (@JasonWhitely) March 15, 2020

By supposedly acting to prevent the disease from entering the United States (even though, um, it’s already here), those morons in the executive branch didn’t think “maybe we should bolster staffing at customs checkpoints. Maybe we should create a plan to space out people, so we wouldn’t create the Petri dish we’re supposedly trying to prevent.” 

Conservatism

It is in precisely older, rural counties that hospitals are being closed in record numbers. “The hospital closure crisis is most pronounced in states that have declined Medicaid expansion, the policy in the Affordable Care Act that offers coverage for individuals whose income is at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty line,” reported Mother Jones. “Of the 106 rural hospitals that have shut down since 2010, 77 were located in states that hadn’t expanded Medicaid, the study found.” In their zeal to stick it to Obamacare, those older rural areas are losing exactly the one thing that saves the lives of the elderly and those with compromised immune systems once infected—hospital beds. 

This novel coronavirus is treatable as long as severely impacted patients can be hooked up to respirators. But given available hospital beds, that becomes impossible once a critical mass of patients is infected, they outstrip the supply of hospital beds, and they are then left to die, gasping for air. That’s why the Italian death toll has climbed so high, with doctors having to perform battlefield-style triage—is this patient too old? Too (otherwise) sick? Do they have small children at home? Even patients who survive initial triage may be unplugged if someone with a greater survival chance shows up. It is beyond nightmarish. 

And you know what? The United States has fewer hospital beds, per thousand people, than even Italy

    South Korea: 12.3

    China: 4.3

    Italy: 3.2

    United States: 2.8

South Korea has handled the virus better than anyone else, and guess what, having hospital beds is part of the answer. Meanwhile, thanks to conservative hostility to the Affordable Care Act and its fealty to a for-profit health care system, our number of beds has fallen between 2010 and 2017, despite the population having grown by 16 million in that time frame. 

Republican elected officials

The Democratic House passed a coronavirus response bill on Friday. Republican Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went on vacation over the weekend, adjourning the Senate as a result. He doesn’t plan on checking on that House bill until Tuesday, lunch, at the earliest, even though Trump has signaled that he will sign it. 

They just don’t give a shit. 

Here’s Oklahoma’s Republican governor Kevin Stitt, Friday night, in a now-deleted tweet: 

Of course, it stands to follow that if Trump doesn’t think this is a big deal, then those who blindly follow him will shrug off any attempts to contain the virus, or “flatten the curve.” Flattening the curve is slowing the rate of transmission so that people don’t get sick all at once. The more you can spread it out, the less stress on those limited hospital beds. 

Trump’s favorite bootlicker, Rep. Devin Nunes, went on Fox to tell viewers to go out on the town. “One of the things you can do, if you're healthy you and your family, it's a great time to just go out, go to a local restaurant,” he said, dooming who knows how many people to death. “Likely you can get in easily. There's, you know, let's not hurt the working people in this country that are relying on wages and tips to keep their small business going. [...] Go to your local pub.”

In Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Republicans are refusing to postpone an election even though the state’s Democratic governor has ordered a statewide lockdown. 

Conservative media

It’s no surprise that most of the irresponsible dismissing of COVID-19 featured above is happening on Fox News. The network has prostrated itself before Trump, effectively becoming like a state-run propaganda arm. They won’t do anything to get on the wrong side of Trump. It’s a feature, not a bug. 

On Fox & Friends, Jerry Falwell Jr claims people are "overreacting" to coronavirus, the national response is "their next attempt to get Trump," and the virus itself is a North Korean bioweapon. pic.twitter.com/2JPuNBW7C3

— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) March 13, 2020

Or how about this? 

But it obviously goes far beyond Fox News. Just two days ago, Rush Limbaugh said on his radio show, “We’re shutting down our country because of the … cold virus.” The Christian Right and their media machinery are praying away the coronavirus. They’ve been so effective at dismissing the threat that even pastors who take this seriously are dismayed, “One pastor said half of his church is ready to lick the floor, to prove there’s no actual virus,” one pastor told The Washington Post. Alex Jones is selling fake coronavirus cures. Idiot #MAGA types on Twitter are having their own, er, fun.

How do #MAGA & #KAG folks have fun during a pandemic? Apparently some like licking airplane toilet seats in a SAD attempt to show the #coronavirus is a hoax. Perhaps to also prove they'll make good tRump supporters!#COVID19 Found at @AwardsDarwinpic.twitter.com/y9jAqRrpbx

— McSpockyâÂ�¢ ðÂ�Â�½ðÂ�Â�Â�ðÂ�Â�Â� #VoteBlue2020 (@mcspocky) March 15, 2020

If you’re sitting here wondering what the hell is wrong with these people, you’re not alone. Trapped in their conservative anti-science media bubble, they’re whipping themselves up into a fervor of denialism and frothy conspiracy theories. 

The results

The results are devastating. Republicans simply don’t believe that they should take COVID-19 seriously.

The coronavirus partisan divide is real. Twice as many Democrats (60%) are changing plans or taking precautions than Republicans (31%). 88% of Republicans are satisfied with the government's response. Among Democrats? 11%. Survey report @Civiqs 3/8-11: https://t.co/sGoSTbhEsI

— Drew Linzer (@DrewLinzer) March 14, 2020

And it’s even worse among Fox News viewers, only 9% of which are “extremely concerned” about the virus. These are the same people who live in mortal fear of an “illegal” coming and murdering them. The big difference? They will definitely end up knowing about someone who died of the novel coronavirus, while those mythical hordes of undocumented murderers only exist in the imagination of the network’s most bigoted hosts. (48% of MSNBC viewers are “extremely concerned,” which is still low. It should be 100%. But that network isn’t sowing misinformation.)

I used to joke that Republicans would come out in favor of cancer if President Barack Obama ever declared his opposition to it publicly. At least, it was supposed to be a joke. Now we find out that a global pandemic killing tens of thousands has become a partisan issue. Not because it is a partisan issue. There is nothing Republican or Democratic or liberal or conservative about a deadly disease. But because Trump’s botched handling of the pandemic makes him “look bad,” and there is no greater sin in the world than making Trump look bad. 

It might be funny or the material for easy partisan points, except people are dying, and a lot more will die before scientists find a vaccine. And while we could be making efforts to mitigate the carnage, both in human and economic terms, we have an entire half of the country’s divide refusing to accept our new reality and demanding we pretend all is well, nothing to see here, please carry on, preferably at your local pub or cruise ship. 

It’s staggeringly irresponsible. The final culmination of an ideology so divorced from reality, that it will literally kill, disproportionately, the older and rural people that form its base. And—this is legitimately ironic—it is liberals trying to save their lives. 

Not defending Hunter Biden, but Republicans are lying about him (of course)

Now that Joe Biden is headed toward the Democratic nomination for president, Republicans are reviving their efforts to smear him via his son, Hunter, and Hunter’s service on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma. Nothing untoward has ever been proved against Hunter, not even alleged (beyond generic) “corruption,” and the search for something untoward is all an effort to create this cycle’s version of “but her emails.” 

Key to the Republican argument is the notion that the younger Biden had no qualifications for the job. “When speaking with ABC News about his qualifications to be on Burisma's board, Hunter Biden didn't point to any of the usual qualifications of a board member," Donald Trump lawyer Pam Bondi said at his impeachment trial. "Hunter Biden had no experience in natural gas, no experience in the energy sector, no experience with Ukrainian regulatory affairs. As far as we know, he doesn't speak Ukrainian."

Trump being Trump, he’s whittled all that down to the claim that Hunter Biden was appointed to the board because he “didn’t have a job.” 

Since we’re going to be hearing about this nonstop for the next eight months (ugh), here’s the reality.

Hunter Biden is a graduate of Yale Law School, by far the best and most prestigious law school in the country (sorry, Harvard). Notes Trump fact-checker extraordinaire Daniel Dale, at the time that “Hunter Biden was appointed to the board of Burisma in 2014, he was a lawyer at the firm Boies Schiller Flexner, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University's foreign service program, chairman of the board of World Food Program USA, and chief executive officer and chairman of Rosemont Seneca Advisors, an investment advisory firm. He also served on other boards.”

Boies Schiller Flexner was founded by David Boies, the same Boies who defeated Microsoft in an antitrust case, who represented Al Gore in the 2000 election recount, and who successfully challenged California’s ban on gay marriage. (Also, the firm represents Harvey Weinstein, and Boies himself represented fraudulent firm Theranos, so … I’m not saying it’s all happy unicorns—I’m just reinforcing that it’s not some backwater ambulance-chasing firm. These are powerful heavy hitters.)

His teaching gig in Georgetown’s foreign service program, which is focused on international development, shows that Hunter did have expertise and an active interest in international relations and development. That makes sense, because World Food Program USA is focused on ending global hunger (and is currently raising money for relief efforts among Syrian refugees).

Rosemont Seneca was co-founded by Christopher Heinz, son of Teresa Heinz (of ketchup fame) and stepson of John Kerry. There’s little information about the firm online, but it looks like a garden-variety hedge fund. No one has alleged anything shady about it yet. But what it does show is that Biden had connections to the world of high finance that would be of interest to any conglomerate looking to raise capital and expand into new markets. 

And by all indications, Hunter was an active member of the board of Rosemont Seneca, investigating possible expansion opportunities and connecting the company to legal and financial resources in the United States. 

Was he on the board, likely, because of his last name? Probably. Was it a stupid idea to join such a board while his father was vice president? Of course. But no less stupid than pretty much everything the Trump children have done since their father entered the White House. Still, ugh. It sure would’ve been nice to head into the general election with a candidate unencumbered by such baggage. 

We now get to spend the rest of the year playing the “both sides are corrupt” game, muddying the waters on an issue (corruption) we should own easily. But pretending that Hunter had zero qualifications for the job, or worse, had no job? It’s utter horseshit, and we should be very clear to call it out as such. 

Republicans are going to believe whatever they want to believe. That’s the power of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. If Trump says it’s okay to go to work even when infected with COVID-19? Okay then! Mission accomplished. All is well.

But we should fight and make sure the traditional media doesn’t repeat those claims as fact. Because, like pretty much everything else that comes out of Trump’s mouth, it’s utter horseshit. 

Morning Digest: Los Angeles to vote in key election for district attorney in the largest U.S. county

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

Los Angeles County, CA District Attorney: Tuesday's nonpartisan primary to be the top prosecutor in America's largest county has become a high-profile and expensive contest between incumbent Jackie Lacey and former San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, a fellow Democrat. Public defender Rachel Rossi is also running against Lacey from the left, and while she hasn't attracted much outside support, Rossi's presence could prevent anyone from taking the majority of the vote needed to avoid a November runoff.

Campaign Action

Lacey's 2012 win made her the first woman and the first African American to hold this post. However, she's antagonized many criminal justice reformers, including Black Lives Matter activists, by opposing measures to reduce California's prison population. Lacey has focused on diverting more mentally ill people from local jails, though her critics say she hasn't done enough.

Gascón, who grew up in L.A. and went on to become an assistant chief of police in the city, has pointed to his subsequent record to the north reducing incarceration. Gascón has argued that unlike the incumbent, he can deliver a "safer, more humane, more effective and far less expensive criminal justice system." Gascón has also argued that Lacey is "incapable of holding police accountable when they do something wrong."

Lacey, though, has insisted that Gascón failed to solve these things in San Francisco before he resigned in October ahead of his campaign launch, and that his policies made property crime rates worse there. "He now moves down to L.A. and says, 'I'm here to fix things, and I'm here to save you, and I'm the true progressive,'" Lacey said, "But a lot of things he's saying he didn't fix in San Francisco."

Lacey's campaign has outraised Gascón $810,000 to $341,000, while Rossi has taken in just $67,000. However, spending by major outside groups has benefited the two main candidates about equally. The Los Angeles Times reported on Monday that about $2.2 million has been raised by pro-Lacey groups, and that almost all of it has come from law enforcement unions. On the other side, about three-quarters of the $2.1 million that has been spent to support Gascón came from two progressive donors in Northern California, Patty Quillin and Elizabeth Simons.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein and most of the local political establishment, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and much of Los Angeles County's congressional delegation, are backing Lacey. In Gascón's corner are Sen. Kamala Harris, who preceded him as San Francisco district attorney, and Rep. Maxine Waters.

Senate

AL-Sen: Former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville did the one thing you can't do in GOP politics in August when he loudly and repeatedly trashed Donald Trump, and former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is determined to make him pay for it. Sessions is out with a new TV spot ahead of Tuesday's primary that begins with a clip of Tuberville proclaiming, "I'm pissed off at Donald Trump," though part of the word "pissed" is silenced and the on-screen text displays it as "P*SSED."

The narrator jumps in after this partially censored footage and says that Tuberville "is part of the blame Trump crowd. Veterans' healthcare? Trump's fault." Another clip from that same August speech then rolls where Tuberville angrily says, "You said you was gonna fix it, and it ain't fixed." The commercial goes on to show more of Tuberville saying, "We're paying for illegals to come over here. Everything they get. Cell phones, healthcare, everything they want. That's Donald Trump's fault. That's his fault."

Tuberville did indeed say all of those things over the summer. The candidate, perhaps immediately realizing that he'd gone too far, continued that speech by calling himself  "a Donald Trump guy" and insisting that Trump has "had to fight every battle by himself" and that "[n]obody is standing up for him." Unsurprisingly, that part of Tuberville's address did not make it into Sessions' ad.

Both Tuberville and Sessions, as well as Rep. Bradley Bryne, have spent the last few weeks running ads portraying themselves as the one true White House ally in a race full of NeverTrumpers. Byrne's opponents have taken him to task for calling Trump "not fit to be president of the United States" after the Access Hollywood tape was released a month before the 2016 election, while Sessions' detractors have focused on his miserable tenure as Trump's attorney general.

It's all but certain that the contest to face Democratic Sen. Doug Jones will go to a March 31 runoff, so TV viewers will be in for another month of this no matter which two candidates advance.

GA-Sen-B: Democratic state Rep. "Able" Mable Thomas said Friday that she was "99%" leaning towards entering the November all-party primary, but that she still was deciding ahead of the March 6 filing deadline. Thomas' presence would likely be bad news for Team Blue since she could further split the Democratic vote and make it easier for the two Republicans, appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Rep. Doug Collins, to advance to a January runoff.

Collins, though, is out with a poll from Battleground Connect that shows him advancing to an all-GOP runoff with Loeffler even without Thomas in the race. Collins takes first with 28% as Loeffler leads pastor Raphael Warnock, who has the support of national Democrats, 20-13 for second. Two other Democrats, businessman Matt Lieberman and former U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver, are far behind with 5% and 3%, respectively.

However, a recent Loeffler poll found a different state of play. That survey gave her that same 20% of the vote, but it had Collins beating Lieberman only 19-18 for second place.

GA-Sen-B: The NRSC, which is backing Sen. Kelly Loeffler for this seat, released a digital ad Friday that attacks Rep. Doug Collins, who's challenging her from the right, that explicitly plays to the racial resentments of potential voters.

The ad begins by portraying Collins as insufficiently loyal to Donald Trump and shows clips of him criticizing Trump as a candidate. The spot soon turns ugly, however, when it shows images of Collins being friendly with Democrats, all of whom are black. Collins is shown with 2018 Georgia gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams and New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries as the ad supplies quotes of Collins offering kind words for both. The grand finale of this racist dog whistling showcases Collins committing a cardinal Republican sin by shaking hands with Barack Obama, although there is no accompanying quote praising the former president.

Unmentioned in the NRSC's ad was a 2018 WNBA game featuring Loeffler's team, the Atlanta Dream, where she warmly greeted Abrams and posed together for photos on the court of the Gateway Center Arena, along with the Dream's mascot.

MA-Sen: YouGov is out with a poll for UMass Amherst showing Sen. Ed Markey leading Rep. Joe Kennedy III 43-40 ahead of their Democratic primary showdown in September. A recent YouGov survey for UMass Lowell found Kennedy ahead 35-34. Both polls, though, focused on Tuesday's presidential primary, which will almost certainly have a considerably larger turnout than Markey and Kennedy's contest will get six months later.

NC-Sen: Two new polls of Tuesday's Democratic primary give national party favorite former state Sen. Cal Cunningham a large lead over state Sen. Erica Smith. The GOP firm Spry Strategies' poll for the conservative Civitas Institute finds Cunningham up 45-23, which is only a little smaller than the 48-21 edge they found days before. Meredith College, meanwhile, shows Cunningham up 43-14.

NJ-Sen: Sen. Bob Menendez has endorsed political science professor Brigid Callahan Harrison ahead of the June Democratic primary to take on party-switching Rep. Jeff Van Drew. Menendez's move comes a little more than a week ahead of the March 8 gathering of the Atlantic County Democratic Committee, where party officials in the largest of the 2nd District's eight counties will vote on awarding the important organization line.

Several Democrats are running to face Van Drew, but Cumberland County Freeholder Jack Surrency announced on Wednesday that he'd instead seek re-election.

OK-Sen: While GOP Sen. Jim Inhofe won't announce his 2020 plans until March 6, the National Journal reports that he's already hired a campaign manager and a general consultant.

TX-Sen: Latino Decisions' new survey, just like all recent public polls of Tuesday's Democratic primary, shows Air Force veteran MJ Hegar taking one of the two spots in the likely May runoff while the race for second place is up for grabs.

The poll for Univision and the University of Houston has Hegar taking 20% while nonprofit head Cristina Tzintzún Ramírez and state Sen. Royce West are at 10% each. Just behind with 8% each are 2018 lieutenant governor candidate Michael Cooper, who has attracted very little attention in this race, and former Rep. Chris Bell. Just a little bit behind them with 6% apiece is former Houston City Councilor Amanda Edwards and Annie Garcia, who has also raised very little money.

Gubernatorial

Race Ratings: Following up on our initial assessments of this year's Senate races, Daily Kos Elections is pleased to announce our first set of gubernatorial race ratings for the 2020 election cycle. In total, voters will choose their governors in 11 states, with Republicans defending seven seats and Democrats four. An additional 20 seats held by Democrats and 19 held by Republicans are not up for election this year.

The governorship most likely to change hands is Montana's, which Democrats have held for an impressive 16 years straight despite the state's red hue. Democrats will also face a competitive contest in North Carolina, a state they flipped in 2016 even as Donald Trump was carrying it. The remaining seats are, at the moment, likely to stay with the party that currently controls them.

Of course, the playing field can always change—and often does. These ratings represent our attempt to forecast the outcomes of this November's elections, using the best information we have available at the moment. As circumstances warrant, we'll issue changes in these ratings from time to time, which we'll announce in the Morning Digest.

Our full chart rating the competitiveness of each contest is below (with Democratic seats in blue and Republican seats in red):

We've also laid out our rationales behind each rating in this introductory post.

NC-Gov: Meredith College finds Lt. Gov. Dan Forest beating state Rep. Holly Grange 53-10 in Tuesday's GOP primary to face Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Two other recent polls have also found Forest with a lopsided lead against Grange.

NH-Gov: The University of New Hampshire is out with the first poll we've seen in months testing GOP Gov. Chris Sununu against his two potential Democratic rivals, and it finds the incumbent besting them both by at least 25 points. Sununu beats Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky 54-29, while he outpaces state Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes 56-27. The survey also finds Sununu with a 54-24 approval rating, which isn't too different from the 59-30 score Morning Consult gave him in the fourth quarter of 2019.

House

AL-02: 2018 candidate Barry Moore is out with a survey of Tuesday's GOP firm from Master Image that shows him narrowly advancing to a March 31 runoff against frontrunner Jeff Coleman. Coleman, a wealthy businessman who began running ads last year, is far ahead in first place with 42%, while Moore edges former state Attorney General Troy King 19-17 for second. Moore's poll also finds businesswoman Jessica Taylor not far behind with 15%.

AZ-02: Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick returned to Congress on Wednesday after spending six weeks receiving treatment for alcoholism. Kirkpatrick sounded like she plans to run for re-election, saying of her future in the House, "I guess the voters will decide, right?"

CA-53: Former State Department official Sara Jacobs seems to be taking action to ensure that, should she advance past Tuesday's top-two primary, she gets to face a Republican in the general election for this safely blue seat rather than a fellow Democrat.

Jacobs recently went up with a TV spot declaring that Republican Chris Stoddard "stands with Donald Trump on immigration and against new gun laws." The narrator goes on to say that Stoddard is "right for Trump, wrong for us," which is the kind of argument that's almost certainly intended to make him seem more appealing to undecided Republican voters. The rest of the commercial praises Jacobs as a progressive.

Jacobs, who has been self-funding most of her campaign, has vastly outspent her fellow Democrats, San Diego City Council president Georgette Gómez and Marine veteran Janessa Goldbeck, and she's getting more outside help. Forward California, a group funded by her grandparents, has spent about $1.3 million for Jacobs during this race.

IL-07: Attorney Kristine Schanbacher is out with a new TV spot ahead of her March 17 Democratic primary against longtime Rep. Danny Davis. Schanbacher talks about her time fighting for criminal justice reform and progressive values before declaring, "It's frustrating, but Danny K. Davis is one of the most absent members of Congress." Schanbacher then calls for a new voice after 40 years of having Davis in elected office.

IN-05: Sen. Mike Braun has endorsed businesswoman Beth Henderson in the crowded May GOP primary for this open seat.

MS-04: GOP Rep. Steven Palazzo faces not one, but two self-funders in the March 10 primary for this safely red Gulf Coast seat. Biloxi City Councilman Robert Deming threw down $96,000 of his own money between Jan. 1 and Feb. 19, which is the time the FEC defines as the pre-primary period, spent $43,000, and had $66,000 on-hand. Businessman Carl Boyanton, whom we haven't previously mentioned, self-funded $140,000, spent $105,000, and had $40,000 left.

There's still little indication that Palazzo is vulnerable, though, and he's not acting particularly concerned. Palazzo only deployed $48,000 during the pre-primary period, and he had $290,000 on-hand. A runoff would take place on March 31 if no one took a majority of the vote in the first round of the primary.

NC-11: A dozen candidates are on Tuesday's GOP primary ballot in the race to succeed retiring Rep. Mark Meadows, including two self-funders we hadn't previously mentioned. Chuck Archerd, who lost the 2018 primary to Meadows in an 86-14 landslide, loaned himself $350,000 though Feb. 12, while businessman Madison Cawthorn self-funded $281,000.

The field also includes businesswoman Lynda Bennett, who has Meadow's endorsement; state Sen. Jim Davis; Iraq War veteran Dan Driscoll; former Meadows aide Wayne King; and 2012 candidate Vance Patterson. Candidates need to take at least 30% of the vote to avoid a May 12 runoff.

NJ-05: Closter Mayor John Glidden told the New Jersey Globe that he'll decide over the next few weeks whether to seek the GOP nomination to take on Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer. Glidden said that he'd make up his mind after he assesses his chances of winning the Bergen County GOP's endorsement at the March 23 party convention.  

NY-12: Rep. Carolyn Maloney has picked up an endorsement from SEIU 32BJ, which is one of the big four unions in New York City politics, ahead of the June Democratic primary.

NY-17: Westchester County Legislator Catherine Borgia announced Tuesday that she was dropping out of the crowded and expensive June Democratic primary for this open seat.

PA-07: Perennial candidate Matt Connolly announced Thursday that he was dropping out of the April GOP primary to take on Democratic Rep. Susan Wild and endorsing 2018 candidate Dean Browning.

TX-04: Donald Trump announced on Friday that he was nominating GOP Rep. John Ratcliffe to serve as director of national intelligence … again.

Trump tapped Ratcliffe for this very position back in August, but the congressman withdrew his name after less than a week in the face of bipartisan Senate opposition. Republican senators immediately made it clear that they weren't excited about confirming Ratcliffe, and his situation deteriorated over the following days as he was found to have dramatically inflated his resume as U.S. attorney.

If Ratcliffe does get the gig this time, it would set off a special election in his 75-22 Trump seat in rural northeast Texas. State special election law requires all the candidates to compete in an all-party primary: If no one takes a majority of the vote, there would be a runoff between the top-two vote-getters, regardless of party.

However, Trump’s announcement of Ratcliffe’s nomination immediately drew criticism that it was just a ploy to get around the Vacancies Reform Act and keep current acting director Richard Grenell in office; Grenell has drawn widespread criticism as an unqualified ultra-partisan who will help Trump politicize national intelligence and almost certainly wouldn’t have majority support in the Senate to be permanently confirmed. So long as Ratcliffe’s nomination is stuck in the Senate, Grenell can remain at his post for months longer than an acting director is supposed to, and if that is Trump’s true intention, Ratcliffe won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

TX-12: Businessman Chris Putnam is closing out his GOP primary challenge to Rep. Kay Granger with a TV ad featuring an animation of the congresswoman behind bars.

Putnam's commercial for Tuesday's contest begins with a narrator declaring, "Kay Granger's Washington pals are spending so much on lies about Chris Putnam. Because Granger is on the Appropriations Committee, handing out billions in contracts and deals." (The ad, unsurprisingly, does not mention that the anti-tax Club for Growth and its allies have also spent millions against Granger.)

"Generous Kay Granger," the spot continues, "even steered $400 million to her son's failed development project." That's a reference to Panther Island, a long-delayed development project that indeed was led by the younger Granger until last year. Putnam's narrator goes on to decry that Granger has been doing all this while "Social Security faces bankruptcy, endangering our seniors on fixed incomes."

The ad concludes with an animation of prison bars slamming in front of the congresswoman as the narrator says, "Why, if Kay Granger weren't in Congress, that would be almost criminal."

Other Races

Harris County, TX District Attorney: Democrat Kim Ogg rallied criminal justice reformers in 2016 during her successful campaign against a GOP incumbent in the nation's third-largest county, but she now faces two challengers on her left in Tuesday's party primary. If no one secures a majority of the vote, a runoff would take place in May.

Audia Jones and Carvana Cloud, who both used to work in Ogg's office as prosecutors, have gone after the incumbent for opposing a plan to end cash bail and for continuing to charge people for marijuana possession. Both challengers have said they won't prosecute marijuana cases, but Jones has gone further and vowed not to prosecute for drug possession or sex work. Defense attorney Todd Overstreet is also running for the Democratic nomination, though he's focused his campaign on improving organization at the district attorney's office.

For her part, Ogg has argued that the proposed bail reforms she opposes haven't done enough to protect victims. The incumbent has also insisted that she's implemented other changes that have sent offenders to treatment programs instead of to prison.

The main GOP candidates are former county prosecutor Lori DeAngelo and Mary Huffman, who worked as a prosecutor in neighboring Montgomery County. Perennial candidate Lloyd Oliver is also running, so his presence could prevent one of the other two Republicans from winning outright on Tuesday.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh was sentenced to three years in prison on Thursday, a development that came months after she pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion charges related to her self-published children's books. Pugh was also hit with an additional three years of probation as well as ordered to pay over $400,000 in restitution and forfeit close to another $700,000.

The news also likely means the end of the "Healthy Holly" book series, a development that is unlikely to sadden any of the few people who actually read them.

Daily Kos Elections releases initial Senate race ratings for 2020

Daily Kos Elections is pleased to announce our first set of Senate race ratings for the 2020 election cycle. Republicans currently hold the Senate by a 53-47 margin, meaning Democrats would need to pick up a net of three seats to gain control of the chamber if they also retake the White House (since a Democratic vice president could break ties in the party’s favor), or four if they do not.

In total, voters will cast ballots in 35 Senate races across the country this fall, including in special elections in Arizona and Georgia. Thanks in part to their strong performance the last time this Senate class was up for election in 2014, Republicans are defending 23 seats, while Democrats are defending just 12. A further 35 seats held by Democrats and 30 seats held by Republicans are not up for election in 2020.

For Democrats, the most plausible path back to the Senate majority starts with winning the presidency. Given how closely outcomes at the top of the ticket are tied to those farther down the ballot in today’s politics—a phenomenon known as polarization, and a theme you’ll see come up often in our write-ups below—it’s unlikely Democratic Senate candidates can win races in swing states if the party’s presidential nominee isn’t also carrying those same states, or at least coming very close.

With Alabama likely to revert to Republicans, Democrats would then need to flip four Republican-held seats to throw the Senate into a 50-50 tie. At the moment, their top pickup opportunities are in Colorado, Arizona, Maine, and North Carolina, with Georgia’s two seats just behind those in competitiveness. Beyond Alabama, Republicans have few realistic targets, with only Michigan standing out.

Our full chart rating the competitiveness of each contest is below (with Democratic seats in blue and Republican seats in red), along with a description of our ratings categories and an explanation of why we've rated each race the way we have. These ratings are also visualized in the map at the top of this post. To learn how we come up with these ratings, we invite you to explore our detailed statement of our methodology.

Embedded Content

These ratings represent our attempt to forecast the outcomes of this November’s elections, using the best information we have available. As circumstances warrant, we’ll issue changes in these ratings from time to time. To keep up with any changes, please subscribe to our free newsletter, the Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest, which we send out each weekday.

In brief, here’s how we define each of our ratings categories:

Tossup: Both (or all) parties have a strong, though not necessarily perfectly equal, chance of winning. Lean Democrat or Lean Republican: One party has an identifiable advantage, but a win is possible for the other party. Likely Democrat or Likely Republican: One party has a strong advantage and is likely to win, though the race has the potential to become more competitive, and an upset cannot be ruled out. Safe Democrat or Safe Republican: Barring unforeseeable developments, one party is certain to win.

Below are brief explanations of our initial ratings, grouped by category of competitiveness and ranging from most competitive to least competitive. Note, however, that even within each category, not all races are equally competitive: One race in the Lean Republican grouping, for instance, might be on the border of being a Tossup, while another could be closer to Likely Republican.

Tossup

Arizona (Special) – Martha McSally (R): Arizona is likely to be one of the most fiercely contested states in the Electoral College, and its Senate race to fill the final two years of the late John McCain's term has already seen a deluge of money flood in on both sides. Republican Sen. Martha McSally was appointed to the post after losing a Senate race just last cycle, while Democratic challenger Mark Kelly, a former astronaut with nonpartisan appeal, has significantly outraised her so far. With McSally binding herself to Trump as tightly possible, it's likely this race will go whichever way the presidential contest does in Arizona.

Lean Democratic

Colorado – Cory Gardner (R): As one of the best-educated states in the country, Colorado has transitioned from purple to blue over the past 15 years, a shift that's accelerated during the Trump era. That makes Sen. Cory Gardner the most vulnerable Republican senator seeking re-election this year, and he'll have to do so while sharing a ticket with Trump.

Limited polling has shown Gardner with a poor approval rating and losing by double digits to former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is the favorite of national Democrats and scared off nearly every other notable contender when he entered the primary.

Gardner has maintained his ultraconservative voting record since Trump's victory, even though the threat of an intraparty primary has long since passed. That's a possible sign that he's pessimistic about his chances of re-election either way: Why abandon your beliefs if doing so won't even help? With Trump on track to lose Colorado again, Gardner is the underdog in his bid for a second term.

Michigan – Gary Peters (D): Democratic Sen. Gary Peters easily won his first term over a credible opponent despite the 2014 Republican wave, but Michigan has shifted to the right in the Trump era, and it will likely be one of the most fiercely fought-over states in the Electoral College. Businessman and Army veteran John James is the likely Republican nominee, and he has been a strong fundraiser after losing by an unexpectedly close 52-46 margin to Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in 2018.

With New Hampshire a faded opportunity for the GOP and Alabama apt to take care of itself, Peters is likely to find himself the target of hefty outside spending by Republicans eager to score a pickup. However, his incumbency, along with the realistic prospect that Democrats will retake Michigan at the presidential level, help make him a modest favorite.

Lean Republican

Georgia – David Perdue (R): Georgia's blue trend became readily apparent after Trump's soft 2016 performance there, and Democrat Stacey Abrams' narrow defeat in the 2018 governor's race gave Democrats a glimpse at their path to victory by running up the score in the highly educated and rapidly diversifying Atlanta metro area. However, Georgia remains a red-leaning state, and while it could be winnable for Democrats in the race for the White House, it's an open question as to whether the party will compete at the top of the ticket in the Peach State.

Republican Sen. David Perdue, meanwhile, has largely stayed out of the limelight and avoided controversy during his first term. Democrats failed to land Abrams, who was their top pick, leaving them with a less well-known field that includes former Columbus Mayor Theresa Tomlinson, 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Sarah Riggs Amico, and investigative filmmaker Jon Ossoff, who came close to an upset in the famous 2017 special election in the 6th Congressional District. Perdue has the edge for now.

Georgia (Special) – Kelly Loeffler (R): Like Perdue, Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler starts off with the advantage of representing a state that isn't quite a swing state yet, and her personal wealth gives her the resources to run a serious campaign. (She's reportedly said she'll spend $20 million and is worth far more.) However, several factors make her race quite different from Perdue's

In the special election, in which Loeffler will be running to fill the final two years of former GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson's term, all candidates from all parties are running on a single November ballot. The top two vote-getters—regardless of party—will advance to a Jan. 5 runoff if no one takes a majority in the first round.

With multiple Democrats running, including DSCC-backed pastor Raphael Warnock, businessman Matt Lieberman, and former U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver, there's virtually no chance any Democrat can avoid a runoff, for which turnout would likely be lower and more conservative. However, Loeffler also has little hope of averting a second round, because she's facing a major challenge from the right in the form of Rep. Doug Collins, whom Trump had wanted for this seat (though he's since stayed out of the fray).

Polling has been very limited here, so it's hard to get a good sense of just how winnable this race is for Team Blue. With a tenure of months rather than years in D.C., Loeffler carries less baggage than Perdue, but at the same time, Collins will drive her far to the right. Given Georgia's residual GOP strength and the likelihood of a runoff, though, Republicans maintain a modest edge.

Maine – Susan Collins (R): Republican Sen. Susan Collins has repeatedly won lopsided victories thanks to her once-strong support among Democrats and independents, but that era may finally be coming to an end this year thanks to the backlash Collins incurred by supporting the Trump agenda at every turn, most notably her decisive vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

National Democrats are supporting state House Speaker Sara Gideon, who has raised considerable money from Democrats across the country outraged at Collins' Kavanaugh vote, and she'll have ample resources to get her message out. Polling has been infrequent, however, so we don't fully know the extent to which Collins has damaged her reputation with swing voters. Maine also moved sharply to the right in 2016 thanks to its large population of white voters without college degrees.

Collins has a modest edge at the moment, but the key here, as elsewhere, is partisan polarization. If Mainers vote a straight ticket in 2020, Collins will find herself in the most competitive race of her life.

North Carolina – Thom Tillis (R): North Carolina's Senate race could very well be 2020's "tipping-point" contest, as the party that wins it stands a good chance of winning control of the entire chamber. Even in the 2014 GOP wave, Republican Sen. Thom Tillis only managed a narrow victory, and his approval ratings have been middling over the course of his term. However, North Carolina is still a slightly red-leaning state at the presidential level, and if Trump carries it again, Tillis will benefit.

National Democrats were unsuccessful in their efforts to convince their first choices to run, but former state senator and Army veteran Cal Cunningham has earned the DSCC's backing and proven himself a capable fundraiser, and polls show him poised to earn the party's nomination. Tillis retains a slight edge for now, but both sides are all but certain to fight over North Carolina's electoral votes once again, so the landscape could shift very easily.

Likely Democratic

Minnesota – Tina Smith (D): Democratic Sen. Tina Smith, who was appointed to fill Al Franken's seat, won her first election in 2018 by a convincing margin, and she's running for a full term this year. Her likely Republican challenger is former Rep. Jason Lewis, who lost a suburban House seat at the same time that Smith secured the final two years of Franken's term and has a long history of offensive, racist, and misogynist statements from his days as a conservative radio shock jock.

Trump lost Minnesota by an unexpectedly small margin of 1.5 points, but he's not likely to come anywhere near as close this year, thanks in part to the state's relatively high levels of education and affluence compared to its neighboring states. Smith is therefore favored.

New Hampshire – Jeanne Shaheen (D): New Hampshire's last Senate race was exceptionally close, with Democrat Maggie Hassan unseating Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte by just 0.1% of the vote in 2016, but this year's contest has shaped up very differently for Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen.

Republicans failed to land a top-tier challenger when popular Republican Gov. Chris Sununu declined to run, and the current GOP field consists of untested candidates, including retired Army Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, attorney Corky Messner, and former hard-line state House Speaker BIll O'Brien, all of whom have raised little money.

Limited polling has shown Shaheen with a dominant edge, and her financial advantage is just as daunting. New Hampshire should have been one of the GOP's few offensive targets this year, but it looks like Republicans aren't going to make a serious play here.

Likely Republican

Alabama – Doug Jones (D): It took multiple miracles for Democratic Sen. Doug Jones to pull off one of the greatest upsets in decades when he defeated Republican Roy Moore in the special election to replace Jeff Sessions three years ago, not least the revelation that Moore had been accused of preying on teenage girls. With Donald Trump atop the ballot in deep-red Alabama this year, however, it would take several more miracles for Jones to survive and be re-elected, and it doesn't look like any are in the offing.

Unlike in 2017, Jones is almost certain to face a more mainstream GOP opponent, with polls showing Sessions (who is seeking a comeback), Rep. Bradley Byrne, and former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville all waging credible campaigns. Moore is running again and could give Jones an opening, but polling shows him far behind the pack.

Trump carried Alabama by 28 points in 2016, and he's certain to win by a large margin again. Jones, who has generally aligned himself with mainstream Democrats and voted to remove Trump from office in the impeachment trial, would need to convince hundreds of thousands of Trump voters to split their tickets for him—an almost impossible prospect in this deeply polarized era. It's exceedingly rare that we'd rate an incumbent as vulnerable as we have Jones, but then again, Jones' win was just as rare a phenomenon.

Iowa – Joni Ernst (R): Iowa took a sharp turn to the right in 2016 thanks to Trump's historic performance with white voters without college degrees, but Democrats rebounded in 2018, suggesting that the Hawkeye State isn't out of reach for Team Blue. With Trump's trade wars hurting farmers, he could struggle to rack up the same margin he did in 2016. A more competitive presidential race in the state would give Democrats an opening for the Senate, where the national party is supporting businesswoman Theresa Greenfield. Republican Sen. Joni Ernst has done little to distinguish herself from Trump one way or the other, and her fate is likely tied closely to the presidential contest.

Kansas – OPEN (R): Kansas has, by many decades, the longest streak of any state when it comes to electing Republicans to the Senate: It last sent a Democrat to the upper chamber in 1932. However, thanks in part to above-average educational attainment, Democrats made gains here in 2018, and they have an outside shot at pulling off a historic upset if their stars align. But whether state Sen. Barbara Bollier, a former moderate Republican who left her party last year and is now the likely Democratic nominee, has a chance depends on whether former Secretary of State Kris Kobach wins the Republican primary.

A leading architect of voter suppression schemes who earned a reputation for relishing the national spotlight rather than attending to his duties at home, Kobach was the Republican nominee for governor in 2018 and lost to Democrat Laura Kelly after running a campaign that GOP operatives excoriated for its incompetence.

National Republicans reportedly fear a Kobach redux so much that they've lobbied Trump to support his likely main rival, Rep. Roger Marshall. If Marshall or another Republican prevails, Kansas would revert to form and slip out of reach for Democrats. But if Kobach can sneak past his divided opposition—which polls suggest is eminently possible—he could help Republicans snatch defeat from the jaws of victory once more.

Texas – John Cornyn (R): Former Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke's narrow loss in 2018 to progressive bête noire Ted Cruz gave Team Blue a much-needed shot of optimism that Texas is progressing toward swing state status, but it isn't quite there yet. Republican Sen. John Cornyn doesn't have Cruz's baggage, and he's always been a strong fundraiser in what is a very expensive state. Polling, however, has found Cornyn relatively unknown to a large slice of the electorate, giving Democrats a chance to shape voters' perceptions.

The field of challengers, though, will start with far lower name recognition and fundraising capacity. Air Force veteran MJ Hegar, who nearly won a historically red suburban House seat in 2018, has been endorsed by the DSCC and has raised the most money. Several other credible candidates are running, though, including state Sen. Royce West, activist Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, and former Houston City Councilor Amanda Edwards, making a primary runoff likely.

Whether this race will be viable for Senate Democrats will depend heavily on whether the Democrats' presidential nominee can significantly improve on Hillary Clinton's 52-43 loss. Cornyn therefore starts out as the favorite to win another term.

Safe Democratic

Delaware – Chris Coons (D): Republicans last won Delaware at the presidential level in 1988 and haven't won a Senate seat there since 1994. Neither streak is about to end this year. Coons won convincingly even in the 2014 GOP wave, and he so far faces no noteworthy Republican opponent.

Illinois – Dick Durbin (D): Longtime Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin faces no noteworthy Republican challenger, and he should have little trouble prevailing again in a state where Trump is on track to lose by another double-digit blowout.

Massachusetts – Ed Markey (D): Massachusetts has long been one of the most Democratic states in the country, and that trend has continued in the Trump era. While Democratic Sen. Ed Markey faces a serious primary challenge from Rep. Joe Kennedy III (which early polls suggest is a tossup), either candidate will be a dominant favorite over whichever unheralded Republican wins the GOP nomination.

New Jersey – Cory Booker (D): New Jersey hasn't elected a Republican senator since 1972, the second-longest such streak for Democrats in the nation after Hawaii, which last did so in 1970. With Democratic Sen. Cory Booker seeking re-election to a second full term, that long run will not come to an end.

New Mexico – OPEN (D): New Mexico isn't an overwhelmingly blue state, but Republicans lack any heavyweight candidates and have failed to capitalize on any potential opening from Democratic Sen. Tom Udall's retirement. Democrats have unified behind Rep. Ben Ray Luján, a powerful and well-connected member of the House who already represents one-third of the state. With the eventual Democratic presidential nominee poised to win New Mexico by a comfortable margin, Luján should have little to worry about.

Oregon – Jeff Merkley (D): Trump lost Oregon by double digits in 2016, and there's no indication that his standing has improved there since. Republicans haven't won a Senate race here since 2002, and with no prominent candidate to speak of in the race against Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley, that's not going to change in 2020.

Rhode Island – Jack Reed (D): Although Rhode Island saw one of the largest shifts to the right at the presidential level in 2016, it remains a solidly blue state. Longtime Democratic Sen. Jack Reed has never won by less than a 20-point margin and is safe for re-election.

Virginia – Mark Warner (D): Democratic Sen. Mark Warner had a shockingly close call in 2014, but his standing couldn't be more different heading into the 2020 election cycle. Virginia transformed into a decidedly blue-leaning state in the Trump era, thanks in large part to its diverse and highly educated population. Warner’s only noteworthy GOP challenger, former Rep. Scott Taylor, dropped out of the race late last year to launch a comeback bid for the House.

Safe Republican

Alaska – Dan Sullivan (R): Alaska has backed every Republican presidential nominee by double digits since 1996, and there's little to indicate that it could be competitive for the Democratic nominee against Trump in 2020. Several of the state's Senate races within that time frame have been closer affairs, but Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan doesn't have any obvious vulnerabilities. Although Democrats are supporting a well-funded challenge waged by orthopedic surgeon Al Gross, an independent who is running for the Democratic nomination, ticket-splitting (or a lack thereof) is the central issue. That makes this Sullivan's race to lose.

Arkansas – Tom Cotton (R): Republican Sen. Tom Cotton has nothing to fear in a state that has stampeded from safely Democratic to safely Republican at the downballot level in the span of just a decade, quite literally: The lone Democrat running dropped out just hours after the filing deadline under murky circumstances.

Idaho – Jim Risch (R): Idaho was one of Trump's very best states four years ago and will be near the top of the list again this fall. Republican Sen. Jim Risch has done little to alienate typical Republican voters and is a lock for another term.

Kentucky – Mitch McConnell (R): Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is one of the most reviled officeholders in the country at the national level, but he holds a huge advantage by representing a heavily white working-class state that backed Trump by a 63-33 landslide in 2016 and shows no sign of wavering.

While Marine veteran Amy McGrath, the likely Democratic nominee who ran a competitive House race in a red district two years ago, could very well raise tens of millions of dollars from progressives angry at McConnell, money alone can't overcome partisanship. And while in years past implacable conservatives despised McConnell as a corrupt insider, they've grown to love him for protecting Trump from the consequences of impeachment and ramming his judicial confirmations through a divided chamber. That leaves McGrath with almost no way to wedge an opening.

Louisiana – Bill Cassidy (R): Louisiana has become implacably red at the federal level over the last decade, and Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy, who lacks any notable opponents, has little to fear.

Mississippi – Cindy Hyde-Smith (R): Even in our polarized age, Mississippi stands out for its particularly small proportion of swing voters, meaning Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith should have no problem winning re-election with Trump heavily favored to carry the state by a comfortable margin once again. Hyde-Smith faces a rematch with former Democratic Rep. Mike Espy, but although her 54-46 margin was the worst showing by a Mississippi Republican in a Senate race in decades, it's exceedingly hard to see how Espy can achieve a different result this time.

Montana – Steve Daines (R): Democrats had hoped to give Republican Sen. Steve Daines a strong challenge, but they failed to land the one candidate who could probably put this race in play, term-limited Gov. Steve Bullock (though Chuck Schumer is reportedly taking one last run at Bullock before the March 9 filing deadline). That leaves Democrats fielding a group of lesser-known alternatives, with nonprofit founder Cora Neumann by far the best-funded among them. Daines has avoided alienating Republican voters, and with Trump on track to comfortably win Montana once more, this seat should stay red.

Nebraska – Ben Sasse (R): Nebraska has become solidly Republican up and down the ballot over the last decade, and Republican Sen. Ben Sasse is the runaway favorite to win a second term.

Oklahoma – Jim Inhofe (R): Oklahoma is in contention for the reddest state in the nation, and Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe lacks any notable Democratic challenger.

South Carolina – Lindsey Graham (R): In an eye-blink, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has swiveled from castigating Trump as an unfit threat to the republic during the 2016 election to becoming one of Trump's most sycophantic and zealous backers. That 180-degree turnaround has made him nationally infamous and in turn driven millions in donations to former state Democratic Party chair and likely 2020 nominee Jaime Harrison.

Harrison, however, will still be running against the reality of seeking office in a state that backed Trump by double digits four years ago. He's giving Graham the most vigorous re-election challenge of his career, but Republican voters will be strongly inclined to stick with one of Trump's staunchest allies.

South Dakota – Mike Rounds (R): South Dakota has stampeded to the right during the past decade, making it one of Trump's best states nationally. Republican Sen. Mike Rounds will cruise to a second term.

Tennessee – OPEN (R): Democrats had their best shot to win a Senate race in many years in last cycle's blue wave when popular former Gov. Phil Bredesen was Team Blue's nominee for an open seat against hard-line conservative Republican Marsha Blackburn, but after Blackburn trounced Bredesen by 11%, it's exceedingly difficult to see how Democrats could do any better in 2020. Democrats have a credible candidate in DSCC-backed Army veteran James Mackler, but former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty, who has Trump's backing, is all but assured of winning both the Republican nomination and the general election.

West Virginia – Shelley Moore Capito (R): West Virginia was one of Trump's best states in 2016, and it's shaping up to repeat that performance in 2020. Although Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin narrowly won re-election in 2018 over a flawed Republican challenger, Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito will be a far more formidable foe for Democrats, who this cycle will lack the benefit of incumbency and the luxury of running without Trump atop the ticket.

Former state Sen. Richard Ojeda, who ran an aggressive campaign for the House in 2018, gives Democrats a credible name if he wins the nomination. However, that prior bid, for an open seat with political leanings similar to the state as a whole, shows just how tough the Senate race will be, seeing as Ojeda lost that race 56-44. When Trump could again win the state by a more than 2-1 margin, there's just no realistic path to victory.

Wyoming – OPEN (R): Wyoming was Trump's best state in 2016 and will either repeat that performance or come close to it. With Rep. Liz Cheney taking a surprising pass on the race, former Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis is the heavy favorite for the GOP nomination to succeed retiring Sen. Mike Enzi and to win the general in November.