The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.
● Primary Calendar: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to unveil our 2024 primary calendar, where you'll find a complete list of major-party filing deadlines, primaries, and runoffs for all 50 states. We also include the dates of each presidential primary, which often take place months before the state's downballot nomination contests. Sometimes, though, the two coincide, which frequently leads to higher-than-normal primary turnout.
One of the things we pay careful attention to at Daily Kos Elections is each state's candidate filing deadline, since it represents the point at which prospective candidates need to decide whether or not they'll actually run for office. The first deadline of the cycle was on Friday in Alabama, where a brand-new congressional map will be used for the first time.
That gives us the opportunity to run down the state of play for the state's key races, something we'll do as each state's filing deadline passes. And several are coming up soon: Arkansas is next on Nov. 14, while Illinois, California, Texas, North Carolina, and Ohio all have deadlines next month.
Filing season doesn't end, though, until July 19 in Louisiana, which traditionally brings up the rear. (Louisiana holds an all-party primary on Nov. 5, which is the date of the general election, rather than separate partisan primaries.) Some precise dates are not yet set such as the filing deadline for Georgia, which likely will be sometime in early March, so we'll update our calendar as soon as they are.
We also include important notes about those deadlines. Nebraska, for example, has a unique law that requires any incumbents, regardless of whether they are seeking reelection or another office, to file by Feb. 15; the deadline for everyone else is March 1. We also list states where party conventions are important for determining ballot access, winnowing the field, or officially picking nominees.
Finally, we provide details about which states require primary runoffs, including what percentage of the vote is needed in each state to trigger a second round of voting. For instance, in Georgia, a runoff is needed if no candidate takes a majority of the vote, while in North Carolina, runoffs are only conducted if no one takes more than 30%—and then only if the runner-up requests one.
The 2024 downballot primary season officially kicks off on March 5 (Super Tuesday), with Alabama, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, and Texas leading the way. Some primary dates could change, though. For instance, while Massachusetts is currently set for Sept. 17―the very last partisan primary in the nation―the state House passed a bill Wednesday to move it to Sept. 3.
The state Senate and Gov. Maura Healey still need to assent, but there's good reason to think they will. As the Boston Globe notes, the legislature has routinely bumped up the date over the last decade since late primaries interfere with federal laws that require mail ballots to be sent to overseas voters 45 days before a general election. (Legislation setting a permanent earlier date has yet to pass.) We'll update our calendar when Massachusetts finalizes its plans, and we'll do the same for any other adjustments to the calendar elsewhere.
● NJ-Sen: The New Jersey Globe's David Wildstein writes that First Lady Tammy Murphy will announce in the coming week that she'll seek the Senate seat held by her fellow Democrat, indicted incumbent Bob Menendez. Murphy would join Rep. Andy Kim in the June 4 primary; Menendez, who is set to go on trial the month before, hasn't announced his plans yet, though Wildstein writes that "few expect" him to run again.
Wildstein also reports that longtime South Jersey powerbroker George Norcross will likely support Murphy. Norcross' brother, Rep. Donald Norcross, didn't rule out running himself in late September, but we can probably cross his name off the potential candidate list now.
- 46-46 vs. Secretary of State Frank LaRose
- 47-46 vs. state Sen. Matt Dolan
- 47-44 vs. businessman Bernie Moreno
- 48-43 vs. Some Dude Joel Mutchler
DPF tells us it has no client for this survey.
● WI-Sen: NRSC chair Steve Daines told Punchbowl News that rich guy Eric Hovde is his top choice to oppose Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin. No major candidates have launched bids here yet, and that may not change for a while: Unnamed sources predicted that Hovde would launch sometime next year.
● AL-01: Due to the creation of Alabama's new 2nd Congressional District (see just below), two Republican incumbents will face off for the right to represent the neighboring 1st District, Reps. Barry Moore and Jerry Carl. The revised 1st, which stretches from the Gulf Coast in the west to Dothan in the east, is a deep red, heavily white district, so whoever survives the GOP primary will be assured of another term in the House. The loser will go home.
The two incumbents, who are both white, are both intensely conservative, though Moore may be even more extreme. While both men voted against certifying Joe Biden's victory over Donald Trump in 2020, Moore went even further in inflaming Trump supporters following the Jan. 6 attacks. [I]t was a Black police officer who shot the white female veteran," he tweeted of rioter Ashli Babbit, who was shot attempting to breach a hallway adjacent to the House chamber.
Moore, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, could also earn the backing of the deep-pocketed Club for Growth, which aided him in his initial bid for the prior version of the 2nd District in 2020 while also seeking to thwart Carl that same year. But Carl, who was elected to the old 1st District, does have one notable advantage: He represents 59% of the population of the redrawn 1st versus 41% for Moore, according to calculations by Daily Kos Elections.
Alabama’s primary is March 5, though an April 2 runoff is required should no candidate win a majority of the vote. However, since Carl and Moore were the only two to file, their race will be settled in the first round.
● AL-02: Alabama is poised to send two Black Democrats to Congress for the first time ever, thanks to a brand new court-ordered 2nd District that's designed to bring the state into compliance with the Voting Rights Act. The new open seat has inspired a large field of hopefuls to join the race, including 13 Democrats and eight Republicans, according to AL.com's Mike Cason.
One major name, however, had a last-minute change of heart. State Sen. Kirk Hatcher, who had announced a bid late last month, said on Friday that he would not file for the race after all. His decision means that the Democratic primary will feature no prominent candidates from the city of Montgomery, which anchors one end of the redrawn district. (The new-look 2nd runs east-west across the state to include most of the rural Black Belt, reaching down to take in Mobile along the Gulf Coast in Alabama's southwestern corner.)
That still leaves five Democratic lawmakers seeking the seat, including one who entered just before the filing deadline, state House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels. Like several other contenders, Daniels represents a district a ways away from the one he's now hoping to represent: His Huntsville-based seat is nearly 200 miles from Montgomery. Daniels, however, grew up in Bullock County, one of the Black Belt counties now in the 2nd, which he has said gives him an understanding of rural communities that other candidates lack.
State Rep. Juandalynn Givan, meanwhile, represents Birmingham, which forms the heart of the state's other Black-majority district, the 7th. (There, veteran Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell faces minimal opposition in her bid for reelection; see more below.) Givan says that she, too, has ties to the district, though she seemed less concerned about the issue. "I feel I'm just as qualified to run for this seat as anybody else," Cason reports she said at her campaign kickoff, "whether I live here in Montgomery, or whether I live across the street, or up the street, or back the street, or anywhere else."
Another Birmingham-area legislator, state Sen. Merika Coleman, pointed to her itinerant upbringing as a child of a military veteran. Coleman said that although she was not "indigenous" to her district in the legislature, "most people would never know that because I have fought the good fight" for her constituents, according to AL.com's Roy Johnson.
The other two lawmakers in the mix do actually serve parts of the 2nd District. State Rep. Jeremy Gray, best known for spearheading the repeal of Alabama's ban on yoga in public schools, represents a seat at the far eastern end of the state, though his hometown of Opelika is just outside the 2nd. Finally, state Rep. Napoleon Bracy hails from Prichard, a city just outside of Mobile. That makes him the only elected official from the region in the primary.
But he's not the only notable Mobile-area Democrat in the race: Shomari Figures, who recently stepped down from a position with the Justice Department, joined the contest the day before the filing deadline. Figures is the son of state Sen. Vivian Figures, a prominent Mobile politician who has been in public office for three decades and had considered a bid herself.
The 2nd was created specifically to give African American voters the opportunity to elect their preferred candidate—almost certainly a Black Democrat, like all of the contenders mentioned above. To that end, the district is now home to a 51% Black majority and would have voted for Joe Biden by a 56-43 margin, according to Dave's Redistricting App. Given Alabama's history of racially polarized voting, that will make the Democratic nominee the heavy favorite in next year's general election.
But that hasn't stopped a number of Republicans from hoping they can pull off an unlikely upset. The GOP field includes two politicians, state Sen. Greg Albritton and former state Sen. Dick Brewbaker, both of whom are white. Another late entrant was former NFL defensive end Wallace Gilberry, who was a star for the University of Alabama's Crimson Tide before playing professionally for nine seasons; Gilberry is Black.
● AL-07: State Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton has opted against a primary challenge to Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell in the 7th District, despite saying in September that he was "looking forward" to just such a campaign, according to AL.com's Roy Johnson. When he announced he was considering a bid, Singleton told the Alabama Daily News, "I want the big fish." But when the filing deadline came and went, Singleton's name was nowhere to be found on the menu. Sewell should have no problem winning another term in the majority-Black 7th, which would have voted for Joe Biden 64-35, per Dave's Redistricting App.
● CO-04: State Rep. Richard Holtorf declared Thursday that he was entering the June GOP primary to succeed retiring Rep. Ken Buck in this reliably red eastern Colorado constituency. Holtorf formed an exploratory committee back in September before the incumbent announced that he wouldn't run again, but the state representative isn't done trashing his would-be opponent. "Ken Buck let us down when he failed to push for the Trump agenda," declared Holtorf.
Holtorf, who cosponsored a resolution last year calling for a "full forensic audit of the 2020 and 2021 elections in Colorado," has also made it clear exactly what he thinks of Buck's anger with Republicans who refuse to accept Joe Biden's win. He previously took Buck to task for condemning a letter from local Republicans accusing the federal government of violating the rights of Jan. 6 defendants, as well as Buck's opposition to his party's fervor to impeach Biden. "Why is he on CNN and MSNBC?" Holtorf asked in September, "I don't think the message he is explaining represents the sentiment of the district."
Holtorf, by contrast, made national news in 2021 when he called a Latino colleague "Buckwheat," claiming later that he didn't know of the racist origins of the word. Holtorf again attracted unwanted attention again the next year when he accidentally dropped his gun in the state capitol while rushing to a vote, an episode that one observer called "reckless and scary."
● FL-20: The House Ethics Committee announced Thursday that it was investigating Democratic Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, though it did not include any details about what it was looking into. A spokesman for Cherfilus-McCormick, who represents a safely blue seat in South Florida, only said the congresswoman was "committed to compliance and will work to see that the matter is resolved."
● OH-02: Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup's Thursday evening retirement announcement unexpectedly set off an open-seat race for Ohio's 2nd District, a longtime conservative bastion in the eastern Cincinnati suburbs. Donald Trump took this constituency 72-27, so whoever wins a plurality in the March 19 GOP primary should have no trouble holding it. But because the filing deadline is Dec. 20, Wenstrup's potential successors have only a few weeks to make up their minds.
Wenstrup himself got to Congress after pulling off a major primary upset against the infamous Rep. Jean Schmidt in 2012, when he made his second bid for office. Wenstrup, who worked as an orthopedic surgeon, was awarded a Bronze Star by the Army for his service as a combat surgeon in Iraq in 2005 and 2006. He also had a small, albeit apolitical, fanbase back in southern Ohio: When Cincinnati Enquirer reporter John Kiesewetter asked which local physicians fit the nickname "Dr. McDreamy" from "Grey's Anatomy," some readers submitted Wenstrup's name.
Wenstrup entered the officially nonpartisan 2009 contest for mayor of Cincinnati but lost to Democratic incumbent Mark Malloy, albeit by a respectable 54-46 margin. Though he said he didn't have any plans to enter another race, he would later tell the Enquirer his feelings changed after a religious retreat in early 2011. "One of the themes of the retreat was, 'What are you going to do with the rest of your life?'" he'd recount the next year. "I felt Congress was the place to be. It was the place where I could make a difference, and I wanted to go for it."
The incumbent he decided to challenge in the 2012 primary, though, seemed secure despite a rough tenure in office. Schmidt had struggled to win her initial 2005 special election against Democrat Paul Hackett months, even though George W. Bush had decisively carried the 2nd District—a poor performance she followed up with weak victories in both the 2006 and 2008 general elections. However, the woman nicknamed "Mean Jean" by her many enemies finally had an easy time during the 2010 red wave, suggesting that she had at last turned a corner.
The ultraconservative Schmidt, though, managed to alienate her base when she gave President Barack Obama a kiss on the cheek at the president's State of the Union address in 2012, a gesture that played badly in the tea party era. The House Ethics Committee had also determined that Schmidt had improperly taken $500,000 in legal services from a Turkish group.
On top of that, redistricting left Schmidt with a seat that was about a quarter new to her. A new super PAC called the Campaign for Primary Accountability, which had the stated goal of denying renomination to incumbents from both parties, got involved with a $50,000 radio and phone campaign attacking the congresswoman.
But it was still a major surprise when Wenstrup, who didn't air a single TV ad, racked up a 49-43 win that March—a result that made Schmidt the first member of Congress to lose reelection that cycle. "Jean has always had some tough races, but she's always sort of hung on and won, so I guess I expected that again," fellow Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan told Roll Call after the votes were tallied. "It just wasn't on my radar screen."
Observers realized in retrospect that it hadn't been on Schmidt's radar screen either. The congresswoman had gone on the air only in the final days of the race and even spent the morning of the primary in D.C. rather than campaigning at home. "She just didn't work it or take this seriously," one national GOP source told Politico hours after the dust had settled. (Schmidt eventually resurrected her career by winning a state House seat in 2020.) Wenstrup, unlike the congresswoman he'd just beaten, had no trouble in the general election, and he never struggled to hold the 2nd.
Wenstrup attracted national attention in 2017, when he treated Rep. Steve Scalise immediately after a gunman shot the Louisianan at practice for that year's congressional baseball game. "Happened to have Brad Wenstrup on the field that day, and he was one of the first to come to my side," Scalise would say when he returned to Congress months later. "Who would've thought that God would've put Brad out there on that field with me because the tourniquet he applied―many will tell you―saved my life so that I could actually make it to the hospital in time with all the blood loss."
Wenstrup would later sign on to the lawsuit alleging "unconstitutional irregularities involved in the 2020 presidential election," though he'd ultimately vote to recognize Joe Biden's win in the hours after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. The congressman expressed interest a few weeks later in running to fill the seat held by retiring Sen. Rob Portman, but he ultimately decided to seek what would be his final term in the House.
● WA-06, WA-Gov: Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz announced Friday that she was ending her uphill bid for governor and would instead run for the seat held by Rep. Derek Kilmer, a fellow Democrat who announced his retirement the day before. Franz served on the city council for Bainbridge Island, which is located in the 6th, from 2008 to 2011, though the Seattle Times writes that she's since registered to vote outside the district in Seattle. However, Franz's announcement says she lives in Kilmer's district in Grays Harbor County.
On the GOP side, state Sen. Drew MacEwen told the paper Friday that he was forming an exploratory committee. This seat backed Joe Biden 57-40, though Democrats will want to keep an eye out to make sure two Republicans don't advance past the August top-two primary.
● NC-AG: Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry unexpectedly announced Friday she would seek the Democratic nomination for attorney general. Deberry will take on Rep. Jeff Jackson, who until now had no serious opposition in the March primary to replace their fellow Democrat, gubernatorial candidate Josh Stein. The winner will likely take on far-right Rep. Dan Bishop, who still has no major opponents in the GOP contest.
Deberry was elected in 2018 to become the top prosecutor for Durham County, which is the bluest in the state, and she won again last year. Deberry, who would be the first Black woman to hold one of the 10 statewide offices that are part of the North Carolina Council of State, has touted herself as a "progressive prosecutor."
Prosecutors and Sheriffs
● Snohomish County, WA Sheriff: Susanna Johnson declared victory Thursday evening over hard-right Sheriff Adam Fortney after more ballots were tabulated from Nov. 7's officially nonpartisan race. Johnson led 51-48, a margin of almost 5,400 votes, with heraldnet.com saying there just 500 ballots left "plus any mail-in ballots still en route." Fortney had the county GOP's support, while Johnson had the support of several Democratic groups.
Fortney was elected to this post in 2019, and he spent the first months of his tenure refusing to enforce Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee's public health rules. He's also rehired deputies accused of wrongdoing, including one fired for an unjustified killing. Johnson, who would be the first woman to hold this post, told Bolts Magazine the return of these deputies inspired her to run, arguing it's led to constituents becoming "terrified of the cops."
● Where Are They Now?: Former Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby was convicted Thursday evening on two counts of perjury, and each carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Mosby last year took third place in her Democratic primary against the eventual winner, Ivan Bates.
Prosecutors argued that Mosby lied when she submitted paperwork to withdraw $90,000 from Baltimore's Deferred Compensation Plan during the pandemic, as she checked the box saying she'd suffered "adverse financial consequences" when her salary actually rose. Mosby's team insisted that the travel business she founded had been forced to close, but prosecutors made the case that it never had any employees, clients, or income. Mosby still awaits trial for allegedly filing false mortgage applications.