The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Matt Booker, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
● NY-Gov: Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced Thursday evening that lawmakers would "begin an impeachment investigation" into Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, with a majority of state legislators now calling for his resignation.
The development came after the Albany Times Union reported additional details about a sixth woman who has accused Cuomo of sexual misconduct, as conveyed by "a person with direct knowledge of the woman's claims." According to the paper's source, the unnamed woman, a Cuomo aide, was summoned to the governor's mansion "under the apparent pretext" of helping him with an issue with his cell phone. Alone in Cuomo's private quarters, the governor "closed the door and allegedly reached under her blouse and began to fondle her," said the source, who added that the woman said Cuomo had touched her on other occasions.
Following the publication of the Times Union's article, the governor's counsel, Beth Garvey, said the incident had been referred to the Albany police. "As a matter of state policy, when allegations of physical contact are made, the agency informs the complainant that they should contact their local police department," said Garvey.Campaign Action
The Assembly's investigation will be led by Judiciary Committee chair Charles Lavine, a Long Island Democrat. Heastie's statement announcing the inquiry did not specifically reference the many sexual harassment accusations against Cuomo but rather said the committee would "examine allegations of misconduct." That broad wording suggests that Lavine might also look into the burgeoning scandal involving the Cuomo administration's attempts to conceal the number of nursing home deaths due to COVID, his abusive treatment of staff and elected officials, or other topics.
To impeach Cuomo, a majority of the 150-member lower chamber would have to vote in favor. Unusually, while a trial would involve the state Senate, the members of New York’s highest court, known as the Court of Appeals, would also sit as jurors. Democratic Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins would not participate, however, because she is second in the line of succession after the lieutenant governor. As a result, the jury would consist of seven judges—all of whom are Cuomo appointees—and 62 senators, with a two-thirds majority, or 46 votes, needed to convict the governor and remove him from office. Should that happen, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, would ascend to the governorship.
● AL-Sen: Former Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard has launched a $100,000 opening TV buy for next year's Republican primary. The ad opens by arguing that "transgender athletes who participate in girls' sports" are part of the "madness" in Biden-era D.C. It then moves on from that transphobic message to predictable Trump-era themes as Blanchard plays up her ties to Donald Trump and her conservative values.
● MO-Sen: Unnamed sources close to former Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon tell the Missouri Independent's Jason Hancock that Nixon is giving some "serious thought" to the idea of a bid for this open Senate seat, though they still think it's "highly unlikely he'll give up life in the private sector." Nixon left office in early 2017 after two terms as governor and now works as an attorney.
On the Republican side, the conservative Missouri Times writes that unnamed sources close to Attorney General Eric Schmitt expect him to enter the race "in the coming days." Numerous other politicians could end up running for Team Red, and St. Louis Public Radio's Jason Rosenbaum name-drops state Sen. Bob Onder as a possibility. Gov. Mike Parson, meanwhile, said Thursday that he will not be running, which didn't seem to surprise anyone.
● NC-Sen: Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday that he would not run for Senate next year, though there'd been no indication that he'd even been thinking about entering the race. Cooper told Politico, "I've promised the people four years as governor and that's what I want to do," though he also noted that his early departure would put Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a far-right extremist with a history of anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, and transphobic screeds, in charge of the state.
● NH-Sen: Saint Anselm College gives Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who's said he's still months away from deciding whether to run for Senate, a 47-41 lead in a hypothetical matchup against Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan.
● OH-Sen: A day after longtime talking head Geraldo Rivera, a Republican who mulled a 2013 Senate run in New Jersey, tweeted from Siesta Key, Florida that he was considering a 2022 Senate run in Ohio, Rivera followed up by saying he'd "decided not to seek public office." No vaults were harmed in the making of this un-campaign.
● PA-Gov: Republican state Rep. Jason Ortitay tells the Pennsylvania Capital-Star that he is considering a bid for governor either next year or "sometime in the future." Ortitay, who runs a delicious-sounding enterprise called Jason's Cheesecake Company, sought the party's nomination for the 2018 special election to succeed disgraced Rep. Tim Murphy in the old 18th Congressional District. Regrettably for Ortitay and Republicans who wanted to keep that seat red, however, delegates opted for fellow state Rep. Rick Saccone instead.
● TX-Gov: When actor Matthew McConaughey was asked if he was interested in a run for governor on a recent podcast, he responded, "It's a true consideration." McConaughey, who has described himself as "aggressively centrist," did not reveal if he was interested in running under either party's banner.
● LA-02: Local Louisiana pollsters Edgewater Research and My People Vote have released a survey of the March 20 all-party primary in the 2nd Congressional District, which was done on behalf of Xavier University in New Orleans. The poll finds state Sen. Troy Carter leading with 35%, while fellow state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson beats a third Democrat, activist Gary Chambers, 24-11 for the second place spot in the all-but-assured April runoff.
● NC-11: The Mountaineer's Kyle Perrotti writes that local Democrats have speculated that pastor Eric Gash, who previously played football for the University of North Carolina, could enter the race against Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn. Gash himself, however, doesn't appear to have said anything yet about his interest in competing in this red district in western North Carolina. Another Democrat, state Rep. Brian Turner, didn't rule out a campaign of his own in an interview with the paper, though Perrotti says that he sounds unlikely to go for it.
On the Republican side, 2020 candidate Lynda Bennett didn't quite close the door on a rematch against Cawthorn, who defeated her in the GOP runoff in a giant 66-34 upset last year. Bennett instead told the Mountaineer, "As of now, I'm not planning on running." Western Carolina University political science professor Chris Cooper also relays that there are "rumors" that state Sen. Chuck Edwards "is interested in the seat." There's no other information about Edwards' possible interest, though he's been very willing to criticize the congressman in the past.
Edwards notably put out a statement days after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol taking Cawthorn to task for trying to delegitimize the 2020 election, declaring, "Congressman Cawthorn's inflammatory approach of encouraging people to 'lightly threaten' legislators not only fails to solve the core problem of a lack of confidence in the integrity of our elections system. It exacerbates the divisions in our country and has the potential to needlessly place well-meaning citizens, law enforcement officers, and elected officials in harm's way."
● WY-AL: On Thursday, a committee in the Wyoming state Senate advanced a bill that would require a runoff in any party primaries where no candidate won a majority of the vote—but not until 2023. The legislation was championed by Donald Trump Jr., who has argued that it would make it easier to defeat Rep. Liz Cheney in next year's Republican primary, but those supportive tweets came before the measure was amended to only take effect next cycle.
Doug Randall of WGAB writes that this important change came Thursday following testimony from members of the Wyoming County Clerks Association. The bill as originally written would have moved the first round of primaries from August to May of 2022 so that any potential runoffs could take place in August. However, Randall reports that this shift could have given election officials "less than two months to get ready for the primary election after the results of re-districting are known," which proved to be a convincing argument to committee members.
It is, however, unlikely to appease the legion of Cheney haters who suddenly developed an intense interest in Wyoming election policy after the congresswoman voted to impeach Donald Trump in January. Cheney currently faces intra-party challenges from two legislators, state Sen. Anthony Bouchard and state Rep. Chuck Gray, and it's very possible that other Republicans could also join the contest. A crowded field could split the anti-incumbent vote and allow Cheney to win with a plurality, which is why Junior wants to change the rules for 2022 to avert this possibility.
● Fort Worth, TX Mayor: Tarrant County Democratic Party chair Deborah Peoples earned an endorsement this week from the Tarrant County Central Labor Council, which the Fort Worth Star-Telegram describes as the county's "largest group of organized unions," for the May 1 nonpartisan primary.
● New York City, NY Mayor: Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams earned an endorsement this week from 32BJ SEIU, which is one of the four major unions active in city politics, for the June instant-runoff Democratic primary. 32BJ SEIU, which represents building workers and airport employees, joins the Hotel Trades Council in Adams' corner. Meanwhile, Loree Sutton, the city's former commissioner of veterans' affairs, announced Wednesday that she was dropping out of the primary.
● San Antonio, TX Mayor: In a major surprise, the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association announced Wednesday that it would remain neutral in the May 1 race for mayor rather than back conservative Greg Brockhouse's second campaign against progressive incumbent Ron Nirenberg. Similarly, another longtime Brockhouse ally, the San Antonio Police Officers Association, has yet to take sides this time but also appears to be unlikely to give him much, if any, support.
Two years ago, Brockhouse held Nirenberg to a 51-49 victory after a nasty race to lead America's seventh-largest city. Brockhouse, who used to be a consultant for both the city's police and firefighter unions, spent that campaign arguing that the mayor was "needlessly" battling first responders in ongoing contract negotiations. The two labor groups in turn were ardent supporters of Brockhouse: Joshua Fechter writes in the San Antonio Express-News that they deployed a combined $530,000 on Brockhouse' behalf, which was more than twice what the candidate spent, and helped him mobilize voters.
However, Fechter says that things have changed quite a bit since Nirenberg was re-elected. For starters, the city reached a new contract with the firefighters that won't expire until 2024. Union head Chris Steele also said his members weren't happy that Brockhouse, as Fechter puts it, "ducked questions about a pair of domestic violence allegations from a former spouse and his current wife, Annalisa, during the 2019 campaign."
San Antonio Police Officers Association head Danny Diaz, meanwhile, says it's "more than likely" it will take sides in the mayoral campaign, but it may not amount to the boost Brockhouse is hoping for. As Fechter notes, the police union is concentrating on defeating Proposition B, a measure that would repeal the group's right to engage in collective bargaining.