Morning Digest: Democratic ads hit extreme anti-choice GOP candidates with their own words

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

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Tennessee held its primary Thursday, and you can find the results here. We’ll have a recap in our next Digest.

Leading Off

Abortion: We wondered shortly after Roe v. Wade was overturned in late June if Democratic campaigns would continue to focus hard on abortion rights this cycle, and the answer is a resounding yes. Team Blue is airing new commercials in the races for Arizona's U.S. Senate seat and governor of Michigan that each use footage of the newly minted Republican nominees, Blake Masters and Tudor Dixon, expressing extreme anti-choice views, while Team Blue has also kept up the offensive in other races across the country.

We'll start in Arizona, where Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly quickly opens with clips of Masters proclaiming, "I think Roe v. Wade was wrong. It's always been wrong … It's a religious sacrifice to these people, I think it's demonic." The audience later hears the Republican argue, "The federal government needs to step in and say no state can permit abortion … You make it illegal and you punish the doctors."

Kelly's allies at Senate Majority PAC are also hammering Masters on abortion rights in a new $1.2 million ad campaign, though they're adopting a different messaging strategy. The commercial stars a woman identified as Brianna who explains, "Three years ago, I had an ectopic pregnancy, and if I didn't make it into the OR within a couple minutes, I was going to bleed out and die." She continues, "But according to Blake Masters, that's just too bad. He wants to ban all abortions, even in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother." Brianna ends by saying that if Masters had his way, her three children would have lost their mother.

Meanwhile in Michigan, a DGA-backed group called Put Michigan First makes use of a debate clip where Dixon answers in the negative when asked, "Are you for the exemptions for rape and incest?" The spot then plays footage of podcaster Charlie LeDuff asking the candidate, "The question would be like, a 14-year-old who, let's say, is a victim of abuse by an uncle, you're saying carry that?" Dixon responds, "Yeah, perfect example." When Dixon is asked in an interview with MIRS if she'd provide an exception for "health of the mother," she replies, "No exceptions."

Over in Virginia's 2nd Congressional District, Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria's commercial takes Republican state Sen. Jen Kiggans to task for celebrating when Roe was overturned. In Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams is airing a spot where several women warn that, under a law signed by Gov. Brian Kemp, they could be "investigated and imprisoned for a miscarriage."

And back in Arizona, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Katie Hobbs proclaims she'll "protect a woman's right to choose, fix our schools, and lower costs." Other recent Hobbs ads also attack each of the GOP frontrunners, former TV news anchor Kari Lake and Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson, for opposing abortion rights. (Hobbs began airing her ads as Tuesday's GOP primary was still too close to call.)

Republicans, by contrast, have been reluctant to discuss abortion at all in their general election commercials even before this week's big defeat for anti-choice forces in Kansas. One notable exception came last month when Mark Ronchetti, who is Team Red's nominee for governor of New Mexico, argued that his policy to restrict the procedure to the first 15 weeks of pregnancy was reasonable and that Democratic incumbent Michelle Lujan Grisham was "extreme" for supporting "abortion up to birth."

Most Republicans, though, remain content to avoid the topic altogether. Masters, for his part, is spending at least $650,000 on an opening general election ad campaign starring his wife, who says he's running because he loves the country and the state. (Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin points out that Masters just days ago was campaigning as a conservative border warrior who warned, "There's a genocide happening in America.") The RGA, meanwhile, is attacking Hobbs on border security―but not abortion.

Senate

AZ-Sen: Republican Blake Masters' allies at Saving Arizona PAC have dusted off a mid-July internal from Fabrizio, Lee & Associates that shows him trailing Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly 49-44, which is identical to what OnMessage Inc. found in a more recent survey for another conservative group. Both firms are releasing these unfavorable numbers to argue that the political climate will be a big asset to Masters.

Governors

FL-Gov: St. Pete Polls' newest survey for Florida Politics finds Rep. Charlie Crist beating Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in a 56-24 landslide in the first poll we've seen in nearly a month for the Aug. 23 Democratic primary.

Fried's allied PAC, meanwhile, is running the first negative commercial of the race, and it goes after Crist for appointing an "anti-choice extremist" to the state Supreme Court when he was Florida's Republican governor. The spot also features footage from this year of Crist saying, "I'm still pro-life," though it doesn't include him continuing, "meaning I'm for life. I hope most people are." (Crist used that same interview to express his regret over his anti-abortion judicial picks.) Politico says the spot is airing in the Orlando market, which covers about 20% of the state.

RI-Gov: Gov. Dan McKee has secured an endorsement from RI Council 94, which is Rhode Island's largest state employee union, for the Sept. 13 Democratic primary. Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, meanwhile, has earned the backing of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals, which is one of the state's two teachers unions: The other, the NEA, is for McKee.

WI-Gov: Wealthy businessman Tim Michels said just one month ago that "[w]hen politicians are shocked to find themselves losing, they go negative out of desperation," but you can probably guess what he's now doing days ahead of Tuesday's Republican primary. Yep, the Trump-endorsed candidate is airing his first attack ad against former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, whom Michels' narrator dubs "the ultimate Madison insider" and a "[p]ro-China, pro-amnesty, anti-Trump politician."

Kleefisch and her allies went on the offensive in early July, with the former lieutenant governor arguing that Michels "pushed for years to raise our gas tax while getting rich from massive government contracts." That prompted Michels to put out a statement bemoaning that "it is sad that the former Lieutenant Governor has decided to go negative by falling in line with politics as usual."

The anti-tax Club for Growth was all too happy to attack Kleefisch last month, but Michels himself insisted as recently as Monday that he was still taking the high road. "I've never had a negative ad run by my campaign in this race," he said, explaining, "And the reason is we've never had a single piece of business by talking bad about the competition." Michels added, "And the reason is, it's just bad policy, and if you get a reputation of doing that in my industry … people immediately disrespect you."

So why did Michels decide to court disrespect and try out some "bad policy" just days later? Kleefisch's team, of course, told the Associated Press' Scott Bauer that this about-face proves their candidate "has all the momentum." Michels' own spokesperson, though, also hinted that they felt the ads were doing them some real damage, arguing, "When your opponent does that for weeks on end, it can't go unanswered forever."

Unfortunately, we have almost no recent polling to indicate if either of the candidates campaigning to take on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers are going "negative out of desperation." The one and only survey we've seen in the last month was a mid-July internal for a pro-Michels group that had him up 43-35, numbers that are quite dusty now.

Whatever the case, things may get a whole lot uglier on Friday when Trump, who has zero qualms about "talking bad about the competition," holds his pre-primary rally in Waukesha County. (You may have heard a few jokes about it if you've ever logged onto Twitter in the last decade.) We got a taste for Trump's dislike of the former lieutenant last month when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Daniel Bice reported that Trump used his April meeting with Michels to bring up a 2019 picture of Kleefisch's daughter going to her high school prom with the son of state Supreme Court Justice Brian Hagedorn.

The elder Hagedorn went straight to the MAGA doghouse the next year when he provided the crucial vote to stop Trump's attempts to steal the election, and Bice reports that he was upset about the photo of the two teenagers. Kleefisch, who has trashed the justice herself, responded by declaring, "I'm outraged my opponent would use a photo of my underage daughter for political ammunition in order to score an endorsement." However, unnamed sources told Bice that Michels didn't actually know about the picture before Trump himself raised the topic ahead of his "little rant" against Brian Hagedorn.  

House

CO-03: Democrat Adam Frisch has released an internal from Keating Research that shows him trailing far-right freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert 49-42 in a western Colorado seat that Trump would have taken by a similar 53-45 spread.

FL-10: Both the state AFL-CIO and the Florida Education Association have endorsed gun safety activist Maxwell Alejandro Frost ahead of the busy Democratic primary on Aug. 23.

FL-13: The Club for Growth is airing what appears to be the first negative TV ad of the Aug. 23 GOP primary, and its piece rips Kevin Hayslett as a "trial lawyer" who was disloyal to Donald Trump in 2016. The broadside comes days after Hayslett released an internal that showed him trailing 2020 nominee Anna Paulina Luna, whom both the Club and Trump are supporting, only 36-34.

The narrator informs the audience, "While Hillary's campaign called Trump a fraud, Hayslett declared it was 'ludicrous' Trump had not released his tax records." The commercial concludes that Hayslett, whose offense doesn't seem to have gone further than Facebook posts, is "guilty of aiding and abetting the Democrats to assault Donald Trump."

Hayslett himself launched his own negative spot around the same time arguing that it's Luna who's the GOP heretic. The audience is treated to footage of Luna saying, "I always agreed with President Obama's immigration policies," and favoring a "pathway to citizenship."

IN-02: A special election will take place this year to succeed Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski, who died in a car crash on Wednesday, though it’s not yet clear when it will be and how the GOP nominee will be chosen. Almost everyone expects the special to coincide with the Nov. 8 general election, but it’s up to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb to set the date. Trump carried the existing version of this northern Indiana seat 59-39, while he took the redrawn version by a similar 60-37 spread.

It will be up to the local GOP leadership to choose a new nominee for the special and regular two-year term, and Fox’s Chad Pergram explains that state law requires that any vacancy on the ballot “shall be filled by appointment by the district chairman of the political party.” The chair of the 2nd District Republican Party, though, was Zach Potts, a Walorski aide who was also killed in the collision.

MN-03: Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips is out with a poll from GQR giving him a hefty 57-36 edge over Navy veteran Tom Weiler, who has next week's Republican primary to himself. Biden would have carried this suburban Twin Cities constituency 59-39, though Weiler's allies are hoping that a GOP wave could reverse the dramatic Trump-era gains Democrats made in this once-swingy area.

MN-05: Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, whose city makes up about 60% of this constituency, has endorsed former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels' bid against Rep. Ilhan Omar in next week's Democratic primary. Omar backed the mayor's two main rivals in last year's instant runoff race, though Frey ended up winning re-election convincingly. Frey and Samuels also defeated a 2021 ballot measure that would have replaced the Minneapolis Police Department with a Department of Public Safety, while Omar supported the "Yes" side.

NY-10: Impact Research's internal for attorney Dan Goldman shows him leading Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou 18-16 in the packed Aug. 23 Democratic primary, with New York City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera and 17th District Rep. Mondaire Jones at 14% and 10%, respectively. Other polls have found different candidates ahead, but they all agree with Impact that a hefty plurality are undecided. 

NY-16: Former Rep. Eliot Engel has endorsed Westchester County Legislator Vedat Gashi's Democratic primary campaign against the man who unseated him two years ago, freshman Rep. Jamaal Bowman. Gashi also earned the backing of Nita Lowey who, unlike Engel, left the House voluntarily last year after decades of service. About three-quarters of this seat's denizens live in the old 16th District where Bowman upset Engel, while the balance reside in Lowey's old turf.

NY-23: Barry Zeplowitz and Associates has conducted a survey that gives state GOP chair Nick Langworthy a 39-37 edge over 2010 gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino in this month's primary, which is dramatically different from Paladino's 54-24 lead in his own mid-July internal from WPA Intelligence. Veteran pollster Barry Zeplowitz said he conducted this new poll independently, though Paladino quickly called foul and attacked Zeplowitz for donating $99 to his rival.

"So because I gave $99 to a candidate who asked and gave nothing to a second candidate who did not, the poll is a complete scam?" Zeplowitz asked rhetorically, adding, "Mr. Paladino should be thanking me for giving his campaign a heads-up that he is involved in a toss-up. Let the best man win."

WY-AL: Rep. Liz Cheney's newest commercial for the Aug. 16 GOP primary opens with her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, proclaiming, "In our nation's 246-year history, there has never been an individual who is a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump." Every poll that's been released shows the younger Cheney badly losing to Trump's pick, attorney Harriet Hageman, in what was the Trumpiest state in the nation in both 2016 and 2020.  

Prosecutors

Hennepin County, MN Attorney: Seven candidates are competing in next week's officially nonpartisan primary to replace retiring incumbent Mike Freeman as the top prosecutor in Minnesota's largest county, but campaign finance reports show that only three of them have access to a serious amount of money. The two contenders with the most votes will advance to the November general election.

The top fundraiser through July 25 by far was state House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, who took in $230,000 and has several unions on his side. Former Hennepin County Chief Public Defender Mary Moriarty raised a smaller $140,000, but she sports high-profile endorsements from local Rep. Ilhan Omar, Attorney General Keith Ellison, and the state Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party.

Retired judge Martha Holton Dimick, finally, hauled in a similar $130,000; Dimick, who would be the state's first Black county attorney, has the backing of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey as well as the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association.

San Francisco, CA District Attorney: Former District Attorney Chesa Boudin said Thursday that he would not compete in this fall's instant-runoff special election to regain the post he lost in a June recall. His announcement came the same week that attorney Joe Alioto Veronese launched a bid to take on incumbent Brooke Jenkins, a recall leader whom Mayor London Breed appointed to replace Boudin last month.

Alioto Veronese is the grandson of the late Mayor Joseph Alioto, who served from 1968 to 1976; his mother, Angela Alioto Veronese, ran in the 2018 special election for mayor but took a distant fourth against Breed. The younger Alioto Veronese previously served as a California criminal justice commissioner and member of the city's police and fire commissions, but he doesn't appear to have run for office before now.

Under the city's current law, the district attorney's post would be on the ballot again in 2023 for a full four-year term. However, voters this fall will decide on a measure that would move the city's next set of local elections to 2024 and keep them in presidential cycles going forward.

Election Recaps

WA-03: The Associated Press on Wednesday evening called the first spot in the previous day's top-two primary for Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, who notched 31%, but it remains unclear which Republican she'll face. With 158,000 votes counted, which the AP estimates is 83% of the total, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler leads Trump-backed Army veteran Joe Kent by a narrow 23-22. The five Republican candidates on the ballot are taking a combined 66% of the vote compared to 33% for Democrats in this 51-46 Trump seat, though Herrera Beutler may have won some support from Democratic voters after voting for impeachment.

Maricopa County, AZ Attorney: Former City of Goodyear Prosecutor Gina Godbehere has conceded Tuesday's Republican primary to appointed incumbent Rachel Mitchell, who leads her 58-42. (The margin may shift as more votes are tabulated.) Both candidates were competing to succeed Allister Adel, a fellow Republican who resigned in March and died the next month.

Mitchell will now go up against Democrat Julie Gunnigle, who lost to Adel 51-49 in 2020, in a special election for the final two years of the term. This post will be up for a regular four-year term in 2024.

Montgomery County, MD Executive: It’s been more than two weeks since the July 19 Democratic primary, but we still don’t know who won the nomination to lead this populous and reliably blue county. With 132,000 ballots counted, incumbent Marc Elrich leads wealthy businessman David Blair 39.3-39.2―a margin of 154 votes.

Election officials say that there are about 4,000 mail-in votes left to tabulate as well as 7,250 provisional ballots to sort through, and that they’re aiming to certify the results by Aug. 12. The second-place candidate would then have three days to request a recount, which is what happened in the 2018 contest between these very two candidates: Elrich ultimately beat Blair by 77 votes four years ago.

P.S. This dragged-out count came about because Republican Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed a measure that would have allowed mail-in ballots to be processed ahead of Election Day. The author of that bill is state Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Democrat who represents part of Montgomery County; Kagan has called for the state to change its policies to prevent another major delay this November.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: Wanda Vázquez, who became governor of Puerto Rico in 2019 after her predecessor resigned in disgrace, was indicted Thursday on bribery charges related to her unsuccessful 2020 campaign for a full term. Vázquez, who is affiliated with both the GOP and the pro-statehood New Progressive Party (PNP), responded by proclaiming her innocence.

Federal prosecutors allege that Vázquez fired the head of Puerto Rico’s Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions and appointed a new one loyal to a campaign donor. Vázquez badly lost the PNP primary 58-42 to Pedro Pierluisi, who prevailed in a close general election.

Ad Roundup

Dollar amounts reflect the reported size of ad buys and may be larger.

Morning Digest: Trump’s candidates faceplant again in Georgia’s House runoffs

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

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

GA-02, GA-06, GA-10: Georgia held its primary runoffs on Tuesday, and all three of the House candidates endorsed by Donald Trump―including one he backed at almost the last moment―went down in defeat. The bad results for Trump’s contenders came a month after his Big Lie slate of statewide candidates unsuccessfully tried to deny renomination to Gov. Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and Attorney General Chris Carr on May 24 (Georgia requires runoffs in any primaries where no one earned a majority of the vote).

In southwestern Georgia’s 2nd District, Air Force veteran Chris West edged out Army veteran Jeremy Hunt, the recipient of that belated Trump endorsement, 51-49 on Tuesday for the right to take on 15-term Democratic incumbent Sanford Bishop. Meanwhile in the 6th District, physician Rich McCormick triumphed 67-33 against former state Ethics Commission Chair Jake Evans in a newly-gerrymandered seat in the Atlanta suburbs. Finally in the open 10th District in the northeastern part of the state, trucking company owner Mike Collins walloped former state Rep. Vernon Jones, a prominent, conservative Democrat-turned-Republican, 74-26 in another safely red constituency.

We’ll start in the 2nd District, where Republicans are hoping that, despite Joe Biden’s 55-44 win here in 2020, Bishop might be vulnerable against the right opponent. Hunt seemed to have a good chance to be that opponent after leading West 37-30 in the first round of voting on May 24. Hunt, who was the subject of a detailed Washington Post profile a day ahead of Election Day titled, “A Black Republican tries to bring in Black voters to the GOP,” also benefited from numerous Fox News appearances as well as outside spending from a super PAC funded by conservative megadonor Ken Griffin.

However, while Hunt largely avoided bringing up Trump on the campaign trail, Trump waded in over the weekend in a truly odd way. The MAGA master used an address at the national Faith & Freedom conference to give a shoutout to Bishop Garland Hunt, who backed him in 2020, by saying, “Bishop Hunt, I know your son, I just endorsed your son and he won big…what a great son.”

That statement left observers scratching their heads both because Trump had made no such endorsement of his son, Jeremy Hunt, and the runoff had not even taken place yet. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted that Trump had endorsed Texas’ Wesley Hunt, who did win his GOP primary in March; the two candidates do not appear to be related.) However, Jeremy Hunt’s campaign seized on those confusing words by broadcasting them in a text message, though even his team seemed a little confused by what was happening. “We were just going based on what the President said, speaking about Jeremy’s father, and then we took it as referring to our big win, coming in first place in the primary,” Hunt’s campaign manager said.

West, though, worked hard to portray his opponent as an outsider by attacking his weak ties to southwestern Georgia, saying at one debate that Republicans needed a nominee “who is going to go up and represent middle and southwest Georgia, not someone who has just moved here three months ago, who has been bought and paid for by Washington, D.C., special interests.” West also earned an endorsement from businessman Wayne Johnson, who finished third in the first round with 19% and went on to launch a lawsuit against Fox News for supposedly giving Hunt (whom he’s also suing) an unfair amount of positive coverage.

Trump, meanwhile, went all-in for Evans and Jones well before the May 24 primaries only to see them each wind up in second place: McCormick outpaced Evans last month 43-23 in the 6th, while Collins edged out Jones 26-22. McCormick, who narrowly lost last cycle’s race in the prior version of the 7th District to Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux, likely benefited from name recognition from that campaign; Evans, by contrast, had plenty of connections through his father, former Ambassador to Luxembourg Randy Evans, but he wasn’t such a familiar name to voters. It didn’t help that a Club for Growth affiliate spent heavily in the runoff on messaging using Evans’ old writings to portray him as “woke.”

Finally in the 10th, Collins, who picked up an endorsement from Kemp days ahead of Election Day, also had plenty to attack Jones with. While Collins’ late father, Mac Collins, used to serve this area in Congress, Jones never represented any part of this district either in the legislature or as the chief executive of DeKalb County. (The younger Collins also unsuccessfully ran here in 2014 only to lose the runoff to Jody Hice, who gave up this seat to wage a failed bid against Raffensperger.)

Jones earned Trump's support after he ended his long-shot campaign for governor to run here instead, but that hardly stopped Collins from portraying his Black opponent as an outsider and “radically anti-white racist.” Things intensified in the final days when Collins sent out a tweet that featured a picture of a rape whistle emblazoned with the web address for an anti-Jones site, an item that references an accusation of rape leveled against Jones in 2004​ (he was never charged), alongside an image of a gun.

However, while McCormick and Collins each turned back Trump’s candidates, both of them still ran as ardent Trump allies themselves: Collins notably launched his campaign with a video where he drove a truck labeled “Trump Agenda” that sported a Trump bobblehead on the dashboard. The results, while embarrassing for Trump, are another reminder what, while the GOP leader may lose some battles to nominate his favored candidates, Trumpism remains alive and well in the GOP.

election recaps

 Primary Night: We had another busy primary night on Tuesday outside of those three Georgia contests, and below is a summary of where things stood as of 8 AM ET in the big contests.

  • AL-Sen (R): Former Business Council of Alabama head Katie Britt defeated Rep. Mo Brooks 63-37 in the contest to succeed retiring Sen. Richard Shelby, who ardently supported her, in this safely red state. Trump himself endorsed Britt ahead of Election Day two months after he abandoned Brooks’ flailing campaign.
  • AL-05 (R): Madison County Commissioner Dale Strong outpaced former Department of Defense official Casey Wardynski 63-37 to claim the GOP nod to succeed Brooks in this heavily Republican constituency in northern Alabama. Wardynski’s allies at the nihilistic House Freedom Caucus ran ads portraying Strong as a politician who "caved to the woke liberals" and "shunned President Trump," but it was far from enough.
  • VA-02 (R): State Sen. Jen Kiggans, who was the candidate of the GOP establishment, scored a 56-27 victory over Big Lie fanatic Jarome Bell despite a late ad campaign from Democrats designed to help Bell capture the Republican nod. Kiggans will go up against Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria in a Virginia Beach-based seat where, under the new court-drawn map, Joe Biden’s margin of victory was halved from 51-47 to just 50-48.
  • VA-07 (R): Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega, who was backed by the House Freedom Caucus, beat Green Beret veteran Derrick Anderson 29-24 in the six-way GOP primary. Vega will now face Democratic Rep. ​​Abigail Spanberger in a constituency that dramatically transformed under the new map from a district anchored in the Richmond suburbs seat to one largely based in Northern Virginia’s Prince William County; Biden would have won the new seat 52-46, compared to just 50-49 under the old lines.
  • GA-SoS (D): State Rep. Bee Nguyen defeated former state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler 77-23 for the right to go up against Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
  • Washington, D.C. Mayor (D): Mayor Muriel Bowser won renomination by turning back Councilmember Robert White 50-39, a win that all but guarantees her a third term in this dark blue city.

Redistricting

LA Redistricting: Louisiana's Republican-run legislature has failed to meet a court-ordered June 20 deadline to draw a new congressional map, meaning a federal judge will now be responsible for crafting her own map that would allow Black voters to elect their preferred candidates in a second district. However, Republicans have asked the Supreme Court to block a recent ruling by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed the case to proceed. Earlier this year, the justices barred a similar decision in Alabama from taking effect.

Senate

AK-Sen: Alaskans for L.I.S.A.—oh, you thought that was just "Lisa," as in Murkowski? nope, it stands for the almost recursive, very nearly tautological "Leadership In a Strong Alaska," and yes, it includes those periodsis spending $2 million to air ads boosting … you'll never believe it … Lisa Murkowski. The super PAC's spot, which is the first outside TV advertising of the race, touts the Republican senator's local roots and her advocacy on behalf of the state. There's no word yet as to whether the Man from U.N.C.L.E. plans to get involved.

FL-Sen: Candidate filing closed Friday for Florida's Aug. 23 primaries, and the state has a list of contenders available here.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio's only serious opponent is Democratic Rep. Val Demings, whose one notable intra-party foe, former Rep. Alan Grayson, announced last month that he'd instead run to succeed her in the House. Demings has been a very strong fundraiser, but she faces a difficult campaign in a longtime swing state that has been trending right in recent years. Major outside groups have also so far avoided reserving ad time on either side in this extremely expensive state.

The most recent survey we've seen was a late May internal for the congresswoman's allies at Giffords PAC, and it gave Rubio a 47-41 edge.

UT-Sen: A new WPA Intelligence poll for Republican Sen. Mike Lee finds him leading conservative independent challenger Evan McMullin by a 52-33 margin, a very different result from a recent independent survey from Dan Jones & Associates that gave Lee just a 41-37 edge. Earlier this year, Utah Democrats declined to put forward their own nominee and instead gave their backing to McMullin in the hopes that an alliance between Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans would give both factions the best chance to boot Lee, a notorious Trump sycophant.

SMP: The Senate Majority PAC and its affiliated nonprofit, Majority Forward, have booked $38 million in airtime to run ads this summer in six key battleground states: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and New Hampshire, where Democrats are on defense, as well as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the party's two best shots to pick up seats. The PAC previously reserved $106 million for the fall, though this is the first time its target list has included New Hampshire, where it now has $4 million in spending planned.

Governors

FL-Gov: St. Pete Polls, working on behalf of Florida Politics, shows Rep. Charlie Crist beating his one serious intra-party foe, state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, 49-24 in the Democratic primary to take on GOP incumbent Ron DeSantis. Fried herself recently publicized an internal that founds things far closer, but she still trailed Crist 38-34.

The ultimate winner will be in for an uphill battle against DeSantis. We haven't seen any reliable polling here in months, but the governor and his PAC ended May with a gigantic $112 million at their disposal. Crist, who was elected governor in 2006 as a Republican and narrowly lost the 2014 general election following his party switch, by contrast led Fried $6.3 million to $3.9 million.

NM-Gov: Two new polls of November's race for governor in New Mexico both show a close contest. A survey from Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling, taken on behalf of the independent news site New Mexico Political Report, finds Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham leading Republican nominee Mark Ronchetti 45-42, with Libertarian Karen Bedonie taking 9% of the vote, while a Ronchetti internal from Public Opinion Strategies has him edging out the incumbent 46-45.

Ronchetti's poll doesn't appear to have included Bedonie, whose share of the vote is unusually high for a third-party candidate but not quite out of the realm of possibility: Former Republican Gov. Gary Johnson took 9% in New Mexico's presidential race in 2016 while running as a Libertarian, then followed that up two years later with a 15% showing in a bid for Senate. Bedonie of course lacks the name recognition of Johnson, and her ultimate Election Day performance is likely to be in the low rather than high single digits, but Democrats will be pleased so long as she draws votes away from Ronchetti.

House

AK-AL: In a surprise development, independent Al Gross announced Monday that he was dropping out of both the special election and regular contest for a two-year term for Alaska's lone House seat, a decision that came a little more than a week after he earned a spot in the Aug. 16 instant runoff special by finishing third with 13% of the vote. But Gross' hopes that his spot might be filled by another candidate were quickly dashed by election officials.

Gross, who was the 2020 Democratic nominee for Senate, urged his supporters to back either former Democratic state Rep. Mary Peltola or Republican Tara Sweeney, a former state Interior Department official who is in fifth place with most ballots counted in the June 11 top-four primary. Gross did not indicate a preference between the two or even mention either by name, saying only that there are "two outstanding Alaska Native women in this race" and urging his supporters to "consider giving their first-place vote to whichever of them best matches their own values."

However, Gail Fenumiai, Alaska's director of elections, said that state law only allows the fifth-place finisher to replace a candidate who drops out if there are at least 64 days until the general election; in a Tuesday letter to an attorney for second-place finisher Nick Begich, she noted there were only 56 days left. Fenumiai did say that Gross' name would be removed from the ballot, though she urged anyone who might disagree with her decision to "file suit immediately," citing a June 28 deadline to finalize the August ballot for printing.

It’s not clear whether Sweeney intends to challenge Fenumiai's ruling. Sweeney's campaign manager responded to the news late on Monday by saying the candidate had been in an area without cell phone reception and promised that a statement would be "forthcoming once she is back in communication"; Sweeney was still incommunicado on Tuesday afternoon, per her campaign. Gross himself explained Tuesday he'd decided to quit because he'd decided "it is just too hard to run as a nonpartisan candidate in this race."

With most of the votes counted, Sweeney holds a 6-5 edge over North Pole City Council member Santa Claus, a self-described "independent, progressive, democratic socialist" who is not running for the full two-year term, for what might be a suddenly important fifth-place spot. Two Republicans, former reality TV show star Sarah Palin and Begich, took first and second place in the top-four primary, respectively, with the Associated Press calling the fourth spot for Peltola late on Friday.

FL-01: Rep. Matt Gaetz, the far-right icon who reportedly remains under federal investigation for sex trafficking of a minor and other alleged offenses, has three opponents in the Republican primary for this safely red constituency in the Pensacola area.

Gaetz's most serious foe appears to be former FedEx executive Mark Lombardo, who pledged to spend $1 million of his own money when he launched his bid last week against the incumbent, whom he labeled "a professional politician who has dishonored his constituents with unnecessary drama, childish gimmicks, and is reportedly entangled in a federal investigation for sex-trafficking a 17-year-old girl to the Bahamas." Air Force veteran Bryan Jones and Greg Merk, who took 9% in Gaetz’s uncompetitive 2020 primary, are also in, but they've generated little attention.  

FL-02: Democratic Rep. Al Lawson decided to take on his Republican colleague, Neal Dunn, after the new GOP gerrymander transformed Lawson's reliably blue and plurality-Black 5th District into a very white and conservative constituency. Neither congressman faces any intra-party opposition ahead of what will almost certainly be one of only two incumbent vs. incumbent general elections of the cycle (the other is in Texas' 34th District, where Republican Mayra Flores will take on Democrat Vicente Gonzalez).

The new 2nd, which includes Tallahassee and Panama City, would have supported Trump 55-44. Dunn, for his part, already represents 64% of the redrawn constituency, while another 31% are Lawson's constituents.

FL-04: Three Republicans and two Democrats are campaigning for the new 4th District, an open constituency that includes part of Jacksonville and its western suburbs and would have supported Trump 53-46.

The only elected official on the GOP side is state Senate President Pro Tempore Aaron Bean, who recently began running ads here. Navy veteran Erick Aguilar, meanwhile, earned just 20% of the vote in 2020 when he challenged incumbent John Rutherford in the primary for the previous version of the 4th (Rutherford is now running for the new 5th), but he appears to be running a far more serious operation this time: While Aguilar brought in just $16,000 two years ago, he ended March with $810,000 on-hand thanks to both stronger fundraising and self-funding. The final Republican, Jon Chuba, has raised almost nothing.

The Democratic contest is a duel between former state Sen. Tony Hill and businesswoman LaShonda Holloway. Hill left office in 2011 to take a job in then-Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown's administration, while Holloway took 18% of the vote in the 2020 primary against incumbent Al Lawson in the old 5th District.

FL-07: Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy announced her retirement months before Republicans transformed her suburban Orlando from a 55-44 Biden seat into one Trump would have taken 52-47, and Republicans have an eight-way primary to replace her.

The only sitting elected official in the race is state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, a far-right zealot who has a terrible relationship with his chamber's leadership. The field also includes former DeBary City Commissioner Erika Benfield, who lost a competitive state House primary in 2020, and former Orange County Commissioner Ted Edwards, who entered the race last week pledging to balance gun safety with respect for the Second Amendment.

There are several other Republicans worth watching. One contender who has been trying hard to get attention is Army veteran Cory Mills, a self-funder who recently aired an ad bragging how his company manufactures the tear gas that's been used on left-wing demonstrators. There's also Navy veteran Brady Duke, whom we hadn't previously mentioned but who has raised a notable amount of money through March. Rounding out the GOP field are former congressional staffer Rusty Roberts; businessman Scott Sturgill, who lost the 2018 primary for the old 7th 54-30; and Al Santos, another businessman who has yet to earn much notice.    

There are four Democrats running here as well. The early frontrunner appears to be party official Karen Green, who has endorsements from a number of local elected officials.

FL-10: Ten Democrats are campaigning to succeed Senate candidate Val Demings in a contest that completely transformed in the final days of candidate filing.

Until then, the frontrunners for this safely blue Orlando constituency were state Sen. Randolph Bracy and gun safety activist Maxwell Alejandro Frost, who each ended March with a credible amount of money. Several other candidates, including pastor Terence Gray, have also been running since last year, but they've struggled to bring in cash. Things took a dramatic turn last week, though, when former 9th District Rep. Alan Grayson decided to end his little-noticed Senate campaign to run here, while former 5th District Rep. Corrine Brown jumped in days later. (Brown's launch came about a month after she accepted a deal with federal prosecutors where she pleaded guilty to tax fraud.)

Both former House members have experience running in this area. Grayson, according to political data expert Matthew Isbell, would have carried the new 10th 40-39 in the 2016 Senate primary against national party favorite Patrick Murphy even as the bombastic Grayson was badly losing statewide. (Grayson in 2018 went on to badly lose the primary to take the old 9th back from his successor, Rep. Darren Soto.) And while Brown's longtime base is from Jacksonville, she spent 24 years representing a seat that snaked down about 140 miles south to Orlando.

FL-11: Six-term Rep. Dan Webster faces Republican primary opposition from far-right activist Laura Loomer, a self-described "proud Islamophobe" who has been banned from numerous social media, rideshare, and payment services for spreading bigotry, in a constituency in the western Orlando area that Trump would have won 55-44. Webster only represents 35% of this new district, but he's still a far more familiar presence here than Loomer, who ran a high-profile but doomed 2020 bid against Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel in South Florida. Two other Republicans also filed here.

FL-13: Five Republicans are competing to replace Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist, who is leaving to try to reclaim his old job as governor, in a newly gerrymandered St. Petersburg-based district that flipped from 52-47 Biden to 53-46 Trump. The frontrunner is 2020 nominee Anna Paulina Luna, who sports endorsements from Donald Trump and the Club for Growth for her second try. Team Red's field also includes Amanda Makki, whom Luna beat last time; attorney Kevin Hayslett; and two others. The only Democrat on the ballot, by contrast, is former Department of Defense official Eric Lynn.

FL-15: Each party has five candidates campaigning for a new suburban Tampa constituency that Trump would have won 51-48.

On the GOP side, the two elected officials in the running are state Sen. Kelli Stargel, who is an ardent social conservative, and state Rep. Jackie Toledo, who has prevailed in competitive turf. Another notable contender is former Secretary of State Laurel Lee, who recently resigned to run and was previously elected as a local judge before Gov. Ron DeSantis chose her as Florida's top elections administration official. Rounding out the field are retired Navy Capt. Mac McGovern and Demetrius Grimes, a fellow Navy veteran who lost the 2018 Democratic primary for the old 26th District in South Florida.

For the Democrats, the most familiar name is arguably Alan Cohn, who was the 2020 nominee for the previous version of the 15th. Also in the running are political consultant Gavin Brown, comedian Eddie Geller, and two others.

FL-20: Freshman Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick faces a Democratic primary rematch against former Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, whom she beat by all of 5 votes in last year's crowded special election, in a safely blue constituency that includes part of the Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach areas. Holness doesn't have the anti-incumbent lane to himself, though, as state Rep. Anika Omphroy is also in.

FL-23: Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch is retiring from a Fort Lauderdale-based seat that's very similar to the 22nd District he currently serves, and six fellow Democrats are running to succeed him in this 56-43 Biden constituency. The frontrunner from the beginning has been Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz, a well-connected former state representative who later served in Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration as director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Moskowitz's two main rivals appear to be Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Ben Sorensen and former prosecutor Hava Holzhauer.

FL-24: While former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson announced in March that she'd challenge Rep. Frederica Wilson in the Democratic primary, Edmonson never filed to run here before qualifying closed last week. Wilson now only faces one little-known opponent for renomination in this safely blue Miami-based seat.  

FL-27: Republican map makers did what they could to insulate freshman GOP Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar by shifting her Miami-area seat from a 51-48 win for Joe Biden to a 50-49 margin for Donald Trump, but Team Blue is still betting she's beatable. National Democrats, including the DCCC, have consolidated behind state Sen. Annette Taddeo, who dropped out of the governor's race earlier this month to run here. Taddeo's main intra-party rival is Miami Commissioner Ken Russell, who abandoned his own long-shot Senate bid, while progressive activist Angel Montalvo rounds out the field.

FL-28: Freshman Republican Rep. Carlos Giménez picked up a notable Democratic rival just before filing closed Friday when former state Rep. Robert Asencio launched a campaign. Trump would have carried this exurban Miami seat 53-46, which makes it a tad redder than Giménez's existing 26th District.

HI-02: Former state Sen. Jill Tokuda earned an endorsement earlier this month from both the Hawai'i Government Employees Association, which is the largest union in the state, and the AFL-CIO ahead of the August Democratic primary.

IL-01: Two crypto-aligned groups, Protect Our Future and Web3 Forward, are dropping just shy of $1 million total to support businessman Jonathan Jackson in next week's Democratic primary, a crowded contest that saw little outside spending until now. Only the latter's spot is currently available, and it reminds the audience that Jackson is the son of civil rights leader and two-time presidential candidate Jesse Jackson. "Jonathan Jackson knows we are in the fight for our lives now," says the narrator. "Jackson is running for Congress to get guns off our streets, tackle inflation, and protect our right to vote."

Meanwhile, another organization called Forward Progress is deploying $160,000 to help former Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership CEO Karin Norington-Reaves, who has retiring Rep. Bobby Rush's backing.

IL-15: Far-right Rep. Mary Miller has publicized an internal from Cygnal showing her edging out fellow incumbent Rodney Davis 45-40 ahead of next week's Republican primary, which is an improvement from their 41-41 tie in an unreleased survey from two weeks ago. We haven't seen any other recent polling of the contest for this dark-red seat in downstate Illinois.

MD-04: The hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC last week began a $600,000 ad campaign against former Rep. Donna Edwards through its United Democracy Project super PAC, which was the first major outside spending of the July 19 Democratic primary. AIPAC, which supports former Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn Ivey, argues that Edwards did a poor job with constituent services during her first stint in the House: The narrator claims, "Her congressional office was widely regarded as unresponsive to constituents who needed help and Donna Edwards was rated one of the least effective members of Congress, dead last among Democrats."

Edwards quickly responded by releasing a video message from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who supports her comeback campaign, praising her as "one of the most effective members in Congress" and someone who "fought hard for Prince George's County—for jobs and investments in her community, to help constituents in need, and to deliver results."

MD-06: Matthew Foldi, a former staff writer for the conservative Washington Free Beacon whom we hadn't previously written about, has unveiled an endorsement from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy ahead of next month's GOP primary to face Democratic Rep. David Trone.  

Foldi, who previously worked for McCarthy's allies at the Congressional Leadership Fund, faces five intra-party opponents including Del. Neil Parrott, the 2020 nominee who lost to Trone 59-39 as Biden was carrying the old 6th 61-38. However, the new map, which the Democratic-dominated legislature passed after their original draft was struck down in state court, halved Biden's margin to 54-44.

TX-15: The Texas Democratic Party announced Friday that a recount has confirmed that businesswoman Michelle Vallejo won the May 24 runoff by defeating Army veteran Ruben Ramirez by 35 votes, which was five more than she started with. Vallejo will now go up against 2020 Republican nominee Monica De La Cruz in a Rio Grande Valley seat that, under the new GOP gerrymander, would have supported Trump 51-48.

WI-03: Former CIA officer Deb McGrath has released an attention-grabbing spot for the August Democratic primary that features the candidate skydiving. McGrath, who is campaigning to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Ron Kind, explains that, as the one woman in her Army jump school, "The guys thought I'd chicken out. I was the first out the door." Following her jump and before deploying her parachute, McGrath explains through a voiceover, "I'm running for Congress because of the sky-high cost of everything. Wisconsin needs a representative who thinks for herself, works with both parties, and fights for women's rights."

Other Races

SD-AG: Republican Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, who was impeached in April for fatally striking a pedestrian named Joe Boever with his car in 2020 and lying about the crash to investigators, was convicted on both counts and removed from office on Tuesday. Twenty-four members of the GOP-dominated state Senate—exactly the two-thirds supermajority necessary for conviction—voted in favor of the first count, with 9 opposed, while the second count was backed by a wider 31-2 margin. In addition, in a unanimous 33-0 vote, the Senate barred Ravnsborg, who recently announced he would not seek re-election, from ever holding public office in South Dakota again.

Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, who had long called for Ravnsborg's resignation, will now appoint a replacement. Noem has not yet said whom she might pick, but she previously endorsed former Attorney General Marty Jackley's bid to reclaim his old post. Jackley faces a top Ravnsborg aide, David Natvig, for the GOP nomination, which will be decided at the state party's convention that begins on Thursday.

Mayors

Oakland, CA Mayor: Former City Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente announced last week that he was joining November's instant-runoff contest to succeed termed-out Mayor Libby Schaaf, which makes him the 16th candidate to enter the officially nonpartisan race to lead this loyally blue city. De La Fuente, who mulled a 2018 bid against Schaaf, launched his new effort by pledging to hire more police officers and saying he "will not tolerate" homeless encampments.  

De La Fuente ran for mayor twice during his long tenure on the City Council, which spanned from 1992 to 2013, but he badly lost both campaigns to prominent figures. In 1998 he took just 7% in a contest that resulted in former Gov. Jerry Brown beginning his second stint in elected office (Brown reclaimed his old job as governor in 2010). De La Fuente tried again in 2006 but lost 50-33 to former Rep. Ron Dellums; De La Fuente himself left the City Council six years later when he unsuccessfully campaigned for a citywide seat.

The field already included a trio of councilmembers: Loren Taylor, Sheng Thao, and Treva Reid. Schaaf has not yet endorsed anyone, but Taylor has often supported her on key votes. Thao, by contrast, has run to Taylor's left and sports endorsements from several unions and state Attorney General Rob Bonta, while the San Francisco Chronicle identifies Reid as a Taylor ally. Also in the running is Allyssa Victory, who works as an attorney for the regional ACLU and Communications Workers of America Local 9415.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: Former Rep. David Rivera's latest comeback bid may have ended before it could begin, as elections authorities say that he didn't actually qualify for the ballot in state House District 119. Rivera responded Tuesday by insisting that the matter wasn't settled and that he'd "let the lawyers in Tallahassee handle that," though there's no word on what the problem is. The former congressman, though, didn't hold back on attacking the Miami Herald's coverage of the many corruption scandals he's been linked to.

Ad Roundup

Dollar amounts reflect the reported size of ad buys and may be larger.

Morning Digest: Trump makes new Arizona endorsement in bid to install election deniers in key posts

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

Leading Off

AZ-AG: Donald Trump's Big Lie slate in Arizona expanded on Thursday when he endorsed former prosecutor Abe Hamadeh in the six-way August primary to succeed termed-out Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who is seeking the GOP nod for U.S. Senate. The attorney general, governor, and secretary of state are the three offices involved in certifying election results in the Grand Canyon State, and as we'll discuss, Trump is also supporting candidates for those two other open seats who also deny that Joe Biden won in 2020.

Hamadeh, for his part, also told the Arizona Republic last month that he didn't believe Biden had carried the state. "No, the 2020 election was rotten, rigged, and corrupt," he insisted, continuing, "Never again will we sit by as the media, activist judges, and big tech openly work to rob a sitting president of an election." The candidate added, "As AG I will prosecute the election fraud of 2020 and secure the 2024 election so when Donald Trump runs and wins again in 2024, everyone will know it's legitimate." In a separate appearance with a local tea party group, Hamadeh argued, "I think we need to get tough on crime. Don't be picking on the little guy—but get tough on serious crime and not go after Kyle Rittenhouse."

While Trump has suffered some major losses in recent primaries, his support for Hamadeh could nonetheless give him a lift in a crowded contest that has lacked an obvious frontrunner. Hamadeh's intra-party foes are Tiffany Shedd, who lost a close general election last cycle in the 1st Congressional District against Rep. Tom O'Halleran; Rodney Glassman, a former Democrat who now sports an endorsement from far-right Rep. Paul Gosar; former prosecutor Lacy Cooper; former Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew Gould; and manufacturing executive Dawn Grove. The winner will go up against former Arizona Corporation Commission Chair Kris Mayes, who has no opposition in the Democratic primary.

Trump threw his backing behind Hamadeh months after he endorsed like-minded election deniers for governor and secretary of state, and the former prosecutor very much fits right in with the rest of the bunch.

Trump's candidate to replace termed-out GOP Gov. Doug Ducey is Kari Lake, a former local TV anchor turned conservative conspiracy theorist who has called for Arizona to take the legally impossible step of decertifying its 2020 results. And in the race to succeed Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is Team Blue's frontrunner for governor, Trump is all-in for state Rep. Mark Finchem, a QAnon supporter who led the failed effort to overturn Biden's victory and attended the Jan. 6 rally just ahead of the attack on the Capitol. Lake and Finchem, like Hamadeh, face several opponents in their respective primaries.

The Downballot

No state regularly hosts as many hotly contested elections as Wisconsin, which is why we're talking to state Democratic Party chair Ben Wikler about all of this year's key races on this week's episode of The Downballot. He tells us about everything his organization does to ensure year-round investment in Democratic infrastructure; details the state of play in the battle to defeat Sen. Ron Johnson and re-elect Gov. Tony Evers; and previews a critical race for the state Supreme Court next year that could flip control from conservatives to progressives.

Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also recap several recent elections, including Sarah Palin's first-place finish in the special primary for Alaska's lone House seat, the defeat of a pro-impeachment Republican congressman in South Carolina, and a special election where the GOP picked up a Democratic-held House seat in heavily Latino south Texas.

Please subscribe to The Downballot on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. You'll find a transcript of this week's episode right here by noon Eastern Time.

Senate

GA-Sen, GA-Gov: East Carolina University is out with the first general election polls of Georgia's marquee races since the primary three weeks ago, finding Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker tied 46-46 while GOP Gov. Brian Kemp leads Democrat Stacey Abrams 50-45.

The Senate numbers were released hours before the Daily Beast's Roger Sollenberger reported that Walker, who has been on the receiving end of a seemingly never-ending string of critical stories about his past, has a 10-year-old son he'd never publicly acknowledged. Walker's team confirmed the accuracy of the report about the candidate, who said in 2020, "I want to apologize to the African American community, because the fatherless home is a major, major problem."

Sollenberger writes that Walker, who was ordered to pay child support in 2014, "sends Christmas and birthday presents, [but] he otherwise has not played an active parental role in raising his second son." Sollenberger also says that this child has never spoken to Christian Walker, the candidate's 22-year-old son who has played an active role in the Senate race.

NC-Sen: SurveyUSA, working on behalf of WRAL, gives Democrat Cheri Beasley a 44-40 edge over Republican Ted Budd in its first look at North Carolina's crucial Senate race. That's a bit different than what two other pollsters found in the days following last month's primaries: East Carolina University put Budd ahead 49-42, while the Republican posted a smaller 44-42 edge in a Cygnal survey for the conservative Civitas Institute and John Locke Foundation.

PA-Sen, PA-Gov: Suffolk University's new poll for USA Today shows Democrat John Fetterman leading Republican Mehmet Oz 46-37 in race for U.S. Senate, while Democrat Josh Shapiro posts a smaller 44-40 advantage over QAnon ally Doug Mastriano in the contest for governor. This is the first look we've gotten at a Fetterman-Oz matchup since December of last year, as well as the very first public survey of the gubernatorial race.

Governors

FL-Gov: Democratic state Sen. Annette Taddeo endorsed Rep. Charlie Crist a week after she ended her own campaign for governor in favor of running for Congress. Taddeo was Crist's running mate when he last ran for governor in 2014 and lost narrowly to Republican Rick Scott.

LA-Gov: Former U.S. Marshals Service Director Donald Washington, a Republican who previously served as western Louisiana's U.S. attorney, tells LA Politics' Jeremy Alford that he's considering competing in next year's all-party primary for governor. Washington would be the first Black person elected statewide since Reconstruction. Two of those 19th century officeholders, Lt. Govs. Oscar Dunn and P. B. S. Pinchback, were the first African Americans to serve as acting governor of any state, though only Pinchback is usually credited as America's first Black governor.

NV-Gov: The hard-right Club for Growth has published an early June internal from WPA Intelligence that shows Joe Lombardo, who won the GOP primary Tuesday, edging out Democratic incumbent Steve Sisolak 48-47. That's quite a bit better for Lombardo than the 43-31 deficit the University of Nevada, Reno gave him last month, though as we wrote then, that huge gap was likely due to Sisolak's greater name recognition.

NY-Gov: New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday endorsed Gov. Kathy Hochul two weeks ahead of the Democratic primary, a contest where Hochul has been the favorite all year.

OR-Gov: Political consultant Bridget Barton, who took third place with 11% in last month's Republican primary, announced this week she would back independent Betsy Johnson rather than support GOP nominee Christine Drazan. Barton explained her decision by declaring that, while Johnson will "stand up to Democrats," Drazan "tends to run away from conflict." Barton also argued that Johnson has a better chance to prevent Democrat Tina Kotek, whom she called "a woman who is dangerous," from winning the governorship.

TX-Gov: Quinnipiac's first Texas poll all year shows Republican Gov. Greg Abbott leading Democrat Beto O'Rourke just 48-43, a huge change from his 52-37 advantage in December. The school notes that this shift occurred following last month's school massacre in Uvalde, which is also reflected in the fact that respondents say they trust Abbott over O'Rourke on "gun policy" by a 47-43 margin—an even bigger drop from 60-33 lead on this topic in Quinnipiac's previous survey. These newest horserace numbers are also dramatically different than the 56-37 Abbott landslide that the Democratic firm Blueprint Polling recently found.

House

FL-01: Former FedEx executive Mark Lombardo said Wednesday that he would challenge far-right Rep. Matt Gaetz, who reportedly remains under federal investigation for sex trafficking of a minor and other alleged offenses, in the August Republican primary, adding that he'd spend $1 million of his own money on the effort. Lombardo, who like many in this military-heavy area is a veteran, argued, "Washington is broken because of people like Matt Gaetz. If you want to change Washington, send a Marine. I'll get the job done."

Lombardo didn't hold back on explaining why he believes Republican voters in this safely red constituency should eject Gaetz. "The people of Northwest Florida need a Congressman who will put them first," the challenger said in a statement that continued, "Matt Gaetz is a professional politician who has dishonored his constituents with unnecessary drama, childish gimmicks, and is reportedly entangled in a federal investigation for sex-trafficking a 17-year-old girl to the Bahamas." He added, "Displaying the highest level of arrogance imaginable, he hired pedophile Jeffrey Epstein's attorneys and used the money from his hard-working America-first donors to pay the bill."

FL-04: State Rep. Jason Fischer announced Tuesday that he was leaving the Republican primary for the 4th District and returning to the 2023 contest Duval County property appraiser, an office he'd been seeking before the new GOP gerrymander created an open seat in the Jacksonville area. Fischer quickly earned an endorsement for his resurrected campaign for appraiser from Gov. Ron DeSantis; Politico's Matt Dixon suggests that the governor had been instrumental in pressuring Fischer to get out of the House race in order to help another contender, state Sen. Aaron Bean. DeSantis, however, has not yet publicly taken sides in the race for the 4th.

FL-13: 2020 nominee Anna Paulina Luna has released an internal from Spry Strategies giving her a 36-16 edge over attorney Kevin Hayslett in the August GOP primary for this Democratic-held open seat.

GA-10: We have less than a week to go before the Republican runoff for this safely red seat in northeastern Georgia and, even by 2022 standards, it's a truly nasty contest.

Businessman Mike Collins recently sent out mailers describing former state Rep. Vernon Jones, the Trump-backed former Democrat who would be the first Black Republican to represent Georgia in the House since Reconstruction, as a "RADICALLY ANTI-WHITE RACIST." Collins has also continued to attack Jones, who never represented any part of the 10th District in previous elective posts he's held, as an interloper and a phony. Jones, for his part, has run commercials depicting his rival, whose late father ​did ​previously represent the area, as a little boy whose only rationale for running is, "My daddy was in Congress."

Things escalated even further this week when Collins sent out a tweet that featured a picture of a rape whistle emblazoned with the web address for an anti-Jones site, an item that references an accusation of rape leveled against Jones in 2004​ (he was never charged), alongside an image of a gun. "Although some use a rape whistle for protection against sexual assault, a 9mm is the more preferred form of protection," wrote Collins. Jones in response filed a report with police in Morgan County arguing that his rival was encouraging "violence against me." The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes, "Authorities say they will not investigate."

Collins outpaced Jones 26-22 in the first round of voting last month, and we've seen no polls since then.

IL-03: Politico's Shia Kapos reports that VoteVets, which is supporting Chicago Alderman Gil Villegas in the June 28 Democratic primary, is spending $430,000 on a new ad that opens with the sound of gunfire before the narrator accuses state Rep. Delia Ramirez of wanting to "defund the Chicago Police Department immediately."

Kapos explains that this line of attack is based on a 2020 letter Ramirez signed accusing Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot of using the force "to beat, arrest, and terrorize the demonstrators and journalists gathered in Grant Park tonight." That missive concluded, "We are ready to work to defund the Chicago Police Department immediately, and we call on our colleagues of conscience to join us." Ramirez this April said, "I'm not the 'Defund the police' candidate. I actually helped secure $200 million for violence prevention and pension benefits for police and firefighters."

MO-04: The influential Missouri Farm Bureau has endorsed cattle farmer Kalena Bruce in the August Republican nomination contest, which the Missouri Times says makes this the first time the group has ever taken sides in a primary for an open House seat. The move comes a week after Gov. Mike Parson also threw his backing behind Bruce.

WY-AL: The Club for Growth announced this week that it was backing attorney Harriet Hageman's bid against Rep. Liz Cheney in the August GOP primary and had launched a $300,000 ad campaign to support the challenger. The commercial reminds viewers that Donald Trump, whose relationship with the Club has soured in recent months, is supporting Hageman, and it features footage of Trump praising her as "a true champion for the people of this state."

Legislatures

Special Elections: Here's a recap of Tuesday's special election in Maine:

ME-SD-07: Democratic state Rep. Nicole Grohoski held this Ellsworth-based seat for her party by defeating former GOP state Sen. Brian Langley 64-35 in a closely watched race, a margin that exceeded Joe Biden's 57-40 performance here. Democrats return to a 22-13 majority in the chamber ahead of Grohoski and Langley's rematch in November.

Election Recaps

SC-Gov: Former Rep. Joe Cunningham defeated state Sen. Mia McLeod 57-31 to win the Democratic nomination to take on Republican incumbent Henry McMaster. The governor will be the favorite in a state where Team Blue last won a statewide race in 2006.

ME-02: Former Rep. Bruce Poliquin will get his rematch with Democratic incumbent Jared Golden, but Poliquin's 60-40 win in the Republican primary against Liz Caruso, an underfunded member of the Board of Selectman for the tiny community of Caratunk, was surprisingly underwhelming for such a well-known politician.

It's possible that a significant number of Republicans are just tired of Poliquin, who lost re-election to Golden in a tight 2018 contest whose outcome he still refuses to recognize, but Caruso also had some important connections. Most notably, she was the spokesperson for the high-profile 2021 ballot initiative that succeeded in blocking the Central Maine Power hydropower corridor project. Caruso also spent the evening before the primary on Tucker Carlson's Fox News show; Carlson, notes the Bangor Daily News, is a part-time Maine resident and a fellow corridor foe.

NV-01: The Associated Press has called the Republican primary for Army veteran Mark Robertson, who defeated conservative activist David Brog 30-17. Robertson will now go up against Democratic Rep. Dina Titus in an eastern Las Vegas area where legislative Democrats—much to the frustration of the congresswoman—slashed Biden's margin from 61-36 to 53-45 in order to make the 3rd and 4th Districts bluer.

NV-04: The AP has also called the GOP primary for Air Force veteran Sam Peters, who beat Assemblywoman Annie Black 48-41 in this constituency in the northern Las Vegas area. Peters lost the 2020 GOP primary to former Assemblyman Jim Marchant, a fellow Big Lie enthusiast who is now the party's nominee for secretary of state, but he'll now get his chance to take on Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford in a redrawn seat that would have supported Biden 53-45.

SC-04: While sophomore Rep. William Timmons secured renomination in his safely red Greenville-area constituency, his 53-24 GOP primary victory over unheralded far-right foe Mark Burns left him surprisingly close to being forced into a runoff. (Burns took just 2% here when this seat, which barely changed following redistricting, was last open in 2018.) Timmons, unlike many other vulnerable Republican House members, had Trump's endorsement, and he doesn't appear to have taken any votes that would alienate a significant portion of the base.

However, the Greenville News notes that the congressman's opponents argued he was absent from his job. Timmons pushed back by citing his duties as a JAG officer in the South Carolina Air National Guard, but that explanation seems to have left a sizable minority of primary voters cold.  

NV-AG, NV-SoS: Two Big Lie promoters won their respective primaries for two crucial downballot offices in Nevada, attorney general and secretary of state. Attorney Sigal Chattah outpaced Tisha Black, who founded a cannabis industry trade group, 51-40 for the right to take on Democratic Attorney General Aaron Ford, while in the race to succeed termed-out GOP Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, former Assemblyman Jim Marchant beat out developer Jesse Haw 38-20. Marchant will go up against former state Athletic Commission member Cisco Aguilar, who had no Democratic opposition.

Chattah has sued to undermine the state's pandemic response measures and has complained that the attorney general has done a poor job investigating (baseless, of course) voter fraud allegations. Team Blue very much wanted her as Ford's opponent, though, as a Democratic group ran radio ads slamming Black over her 2015 donation to now-Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak while calling Chattah a "MAGA conservative." (Unlike similar efforts by Democrats elsewhere seeking to choose their opponents, these ads didn't merely "attack" Chattah in a backhanded way but openly called for her election.)

Marchant has been an even more full-throated Big Lie enthusiast, as the QAnon ally has insisted he would not have certified Joe Biden's 2020 victory. Marchant also said on the campaign trail, "Your vote hasn't counted for decades. You haven't elected anybody," an amusing claim that makes you wonder how he himself was elected to the legislature.

During the race, he attracted notoriety by allying with conspiracist candidates in other states running to become chief election officials. Marchant was last on the ballot in 2020 when he was Team Red's nominee against Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford last cycle in the 4th District, and he characteristically responded to his 51-46 defeat by baselessly claiming he was the "victim of election fraud" and unsuccessfully sued to overturn the results.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: Former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who unexpectedly decided not to seek re-election last year, has joined the Biden administration as a senior adviser and head of the White House Office of Public Engagement. The latter post was previously headed by Cedric Richmond, a former Louisiana congressman who left the White House in April.

Ad Roundup

Dollar amounts reflect the reported size of ad buys and may be larger.

Morning Digest: Why Montana is the only state in the union without new legislative maps

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

Subscribe to our podcast, The Downballot!

Leading Off

MT Redistricting: For the first time in 40 years, Montana enjoyed the right to draw a congressional map following the 2020 census, thanks to population growth that bumped up its representation in the House from one seat to two. But while that task was completed all the way back in November, the state still lacks new maps for its legislature—and won't have any until next year. In fact, Montana is the only state in the nation that hasn't finished legislative redistricting. So what gives?

Fortunately, law professor Quinn Yeargain has the answer. In 1972, Montana adopted a new constitution that gave power over redistricting to an evenly divided bipartisan commission, which is obligated to submit legislative maps to lawmakers "at the first regular session after its appointment or after the census figures are available." The problem, however, is that the constitution also mandates the legislature meet for just 90 days at a time in odd-numbered years, starting in early January and ending in late April.

Practically speaking, therefore, there's no way the redistricting commission could finish its work that quickly, and in 2021, that would have been literally impossible, since the Census Bureau didn't release the detailed data needed to draw new lines until August. Even in the previous decade, when the census wasn't hampered by a pandemic and presidential interference, Montana didn't receive the necessary data until mid-March.

Making matters even more absurd, as Yeargain points out, when lawmakers receive maps from the commission, they can only make "recommendations" for changes—recommendations the commissioners are free to ignore. The entire process, therefore, will be put off until the legislature's next session in 2023, simply to allow legislators to play an entirely advisory role that may have no impact whatsoever.

The practical consequences of this delay, however, are considerable. As shown in this map of Montana's state House, many districts are severely under- or over-populated, with 56 of 100 outside the 10% deviation between the smallest and largest districts that courts typically allow; the situation in the Senate is similar.

Under the longstanding constitutional doctrine of "one person, one vote," these imbalances make Montana ripe for a lawsuit demanding the state draw new districts immediately after each census, like every other state does. No one has brought such a case this time, though, and with the state's primary next week, it's now too late. But in the coming decade, such a challenge could very well succeed.

Senate

OH-Sen: The first post-primary poll of Ohio's open Senate race finds Republican nominee J.D. Vance with a small 42-39 lead on Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, though 17% of voters have yet to make up their minds, according to Suffolk University. While Vance's 3-point margin might seem alluring, we always caution never to judge a race based on a single poll. That's all the more so when there's a sizable pile of undecideds, since they're more likely to lean Republican given Ohio's overall red tilt.

Governors

GA-Gov: Democrat Stacey Abrams has launched her first TV ad since winning last month's primary, and the spot blasts Republican Gov. Brian Kemp for having "made it easier for criminals to carry guns in public," vowing to criminalize abortion, and providing "tax cuts for himself and his ultra-wealthy friends." Notably, this ad is from Abrams' One Georgia leadership committee, which can raise and spend unlimited contributions from donors now that the primaries are over thanks to a law that Kemp himself signed in 2021 in an attempt to gain his own fundraising advantage.

FL-Gov: We're not quite sure what to make of this, but the Florida Education Association, which is the state's largest teachers union, says it's "backing" Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist's bid for governor but stresses that it's not giving Crist its "formal endorsement." We're accustomed to this sort of parsing from politicians, but we can't recall ever seeing a labor union—especially not one with 150,000 members—engage in this kind of hair-splitting.

IL-Gov: Hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin, who is Illinois' wealthiest resident, has given an additional $5 million to Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin's campaign for the June 28 GOP primary, bringing his investment up to a staggering $50 million thanks to Illinois' lack of contribution limits. Due in large part to the wealth of just three billionaires, candidates and outside groups in Illinois' upcoming primaries have spent an eye-popping $30 million on ads in May alone as Democrats have gotten involved in the GOP primary to try to stop Irvin and boost a more conservative opponent while Irvin's camp has spent heavily in response.

Irvin has expended $11.1 million while the Democratic Governors Association has dropped $6.5 million on a mix of ads attacking Irvin and boosting state Sen. Darren Bailey, who is running to Irvin's right and has spent $4.1 million with an additional $2.7 million in outside support from a PAC funded by right-wing billionaire Dick Uihlein. The final billionaire is Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker himself, who is extensively self-funding his campaign and has spent $4 million on ads mainly opposing Irvin. Lastly, venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan has spent $1.5 million on GOP primary ads.

MI-Gov, MI-AG, MI-SoS: The general election portion of local pollster Target Insyght's recent survey for MIRS News finds statewide Democrats demolishing their GOP opponents by margins that simply look too good to be true. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer leads her five prospective Republican challengers by anywhere from 58-19 to 57-23, while Democratic state Attorney General Dana Nessel posts a similar 54-23 edge over Big Lie proponent Matthew DePerno and Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson likewise prevails 56-23 over election conspiracy theorist Kristina Karamo.

Every other poll released this cycle has so far found Whitmer at or below 50% with considerably more support for her Republican challengers than Target Insyght has, and even during the blue wave of 2018, she only earned 53% of the vote. Though voters in recent years have been more apt to split their tickets in state races despite historically high levels of polarization in federal elections, Whitmer and her fellow Democrats in swingy Michigan are still likely to face strong headwinds this November thanks to Joe Biden's weak approval ratings and traditional midterm patterns that favor the out-party. We're therefore extremely skeptical of these numbers unless confirmed elsewhere.

Meanwhile, in the August GOP primary, the state Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that self-funding businessman Perry Johnson cannot appear on the ballot after he and several other GOP candidates were disqualified from running last week due to fraudulent voter petition signatures. Johnson didn't indicate whether he would appeal further to the state Supreme Court, but the state is set to finalize its primary ballot on Friday. The courts have yet to rule on a similar appeal by former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, but given the similar arguments in Craig's lawsuit, his prospects look poor.

MN-Gov, MN-02, MN-01: Candidate filing closed on Tuesday, and the state has a list of who is running here for the August primary. For governor, far-right state Sen. Scott Jensen managed to avoid a competitive primary after winning the state GOP convention's endorsement last month. While it's commonplace for candidates to agree to drop out before the primary after they lose at the convention, former state Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and dermatologist Neil Shah didn't appear to have confirmed they would until they declined to file. Lastly, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, who had said he was unable to attend the convention due to injuries from a car crash, also dropped out by not filing.

On the Democratic side, Gov. Tim Walz faces only token opposition in his quest for a second term. Walz also got potential good news when former radio host Cory Hepola, who had announced he was running as a Forward Party candidate earlier this year on a platform that appeared more likely to take votes from Democrats than Republicans, also didn't file.

Unfortunately for Democrats, candidates from each of two pro-marijuana third parties qualified to run for governor and in the 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts. However, the presence on the ballot of the Legal Marijuana Now Party and Grassroots - Legalize Cannabis Party has if anything had the opposite effect of their stated purpose by likely drawing votes disproportionately from the left, potentially depriving Democrats of enough support to cost them control of the state Senate in 2020 and let the narrow Republican majority block Democrats' legalization effort earlier this year.

Republicans themselves may have had a role in the pro-weed parties' success. Adam Weeks, who was Legal Marijuana Now' 2020 nominee in the 2nd District but died two months before Election Day, had told a friend in a voicemail recording that surfaced after his death that he'd been recruited by the GOP to run and "pull away votes" from Democratic Rep. Angie Craig to help GOP challenger Tyler Kistner. Although Craig won that contest by a 48-46 margin, that was a notable underperformance of Joe Biden's 52-46 victory in the district thanks in part to Weeks posthumously taking 6%.

Craig faces a rematch with Kistner this fall along with candidates from both cannabis parties, and Kistner himself released a mid-May poll from GOP firm Cygnal this week that showed him trailing Craig by a modest 43-38 margin, with Legal Marijuana Now Party candidate Paula Overby taking 4%.

In the 1st District, former Hormel CEO Jeff Ettinger faces little-known opponents in the regular Democratic primary after winning the nomination last month for the August special election to replace the late GOP Rep. Jim Hagedorn. However, on the GOP side, former Department of Agriculture official Brad Finstad will face a rematch with far-right state Rep. Jeremy Munson after the more establishment-aligned Finstad beat him just 38-37 in last month's special primary; former Freeborn County GOP chair Matt Benda also filed to run in the regular GOP primary after taking only 7% in last month's contest.

House

FL-13: Rep. Charlie Crist has endorsed former Defense Department official Eric Lynn in the race to succeed him in Florida's 13th Congressional District. Lynn is the only notable Democrat still running after Republicans gerrymandered the district to make it considerably redder, such that Donald Trump would have carried it 53-46, compared to Joe Biden's 52-47 margin under the previous lines.

Meanwhile, nonprofit founder Audrey Henson just dropped out of the GOP primary to run for the state House instead, though several other Republicans are still in the mix. The remaining field includes attorneys Amanda Makki and Kevin Hayslett as well as businesswoman Anna Paulina Luna, who was the GOP's unsuccessful nominee in 2020.

IL-06: Rep. Marie Newman copies Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock's legendary ads featuring a pet beagle in a new spot attacking her opponent in next month's Democratic primary—right down to the starring breed of pooch. Walking a beagle of her own, Newman says that "unfortunately, you're going to hear a lot of sh*t about me from my opponent, Sean Casten" as her dog squats to do its business (the offending word is bleeped out). It's not clear what Newman might be referring to, however, as Casten has not aired any negative ads.

Calling herself a "lifelong progressive Democrat," Newman then castigates Casten for voting "for anti-choice Republicans like George Bush." (Casten cast his first vote in a presidential election for George H.W. Bush in 1992, when he was 20.) She also touts her rejection of "corporate money" while accusing Casten, a fellow member of Congress, of having "taken a million dollars from corporate PACs."

MI-03: A new Public Policy Polling survey for Democrat Hillary Scholten finds her narrowly edging past Republican Rep. Peter Meijer 39-37 while leading conservative commentator John Gibbs, who has Donald Trump's endorsement, by a larger 44-35 margin. This is the first public poll of the race for Michigan's 3rd District, one of a handful of seats Democrats are hoping to flip in November.

MN-03: In Minnesota's 3rd District, Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips and Navy veteran Tom Weiler, his Republican challenger, are the only candidates running here after businessman Mark Blaxill declined to continue on to the primary after losing to Weiler at the GOP convention.

MN-04: Longtime Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum faces a primary challenge from the left by Saint Paul Department of Human Rights & Equal Economic Opportunity official Amane Badhasso, who has raised a competitive amount of money so far. A few other minor candidates are running in the Democratic and GOP primaries for this solidly blue seat.

MN-05: Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, who is one of the most outspoken left-wing members of Congress, is running for a third term and faces a primary challenge from her right by former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels. Several other obscure candidates are running for both parties in this heavily Democratic district.

NY-10: Former federal prosecutor Daniel Goldman, who served as House Democrats' lead counsel during Donald Trump's first impeachment, has joined the crowded primary for New York's open 10th District, a safely blue district in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. Goldman briefly ran for state attorney general last year but dropped out after incumbent Tish James abandoned her bid for governor and decided to run for re-election instead.

NY-12: The Working Families Party, a labor-backed party that has often played an important role in New York politics over the last two decades, has endorsed Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler in his member-vs.-member primary against fellow Rep. Carolyn Maloney. The WFP's backing serves as a progressive seal of approval and could also yield key on-the-ground support for Nadler if unions decide to deploy their membership on his behalf.

Ad Roundup

Dollar amounts reflect the reported size of ad buys and may be larger.

Morning Digest: Longtime congressman will retire rather than face Trump-backed colleague in primary

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

Subscribe to our podcast, The Downballot!

Leading Off

MI-04: Michigan Rep. Fred Upton, who was one of 10 Republicans to vote to impeach Donald Trump last year, announced Tuesday that he would not seek a 19th term this fall. In an email to supporters, Upton said he believed "it is time to pass the torch," though the person who will most likely be claiming that beacon in the new 4th Congressional District is his colleague and would-be primary foe, Trump-backed Rep. Bill Huizenga.

While it's possible that Upton's departure will entice someone else to run against Huizenga in the August GOP primary, they'd need to collect at least 1,000 valid signatures by the April 19 filing deadline. No notable Democrats have entered the race so far for the new version of the 4th, a southwestern Michigan seat Trump would have carried 51-47 in 2020.

Huizenga announced back in December, right after the state's new congressional maps were completed, that he'd be seeking re-election in the new 4th, and he earned an endorsement from Trump last month. Upton, by contrast, spent months keeping the political world guessing as to whether he'd go up against Huizenga in the primary or retire, though until Tuesday, it seemed that he had one more race in him: In February, Upton launched a $400,000 ad campaign in which he told viewers, "If you want a rubber stamp as your congressman, I'm the wrong guy. But if you want someone committed to solving problems, putting policy over politics, then I'm asking for your support."

Upton, though, said at the time that he was still undecided about 2022, and his retirement announcement proves he wasn't just playing coy. On Tuesday, he insisted that redistricting mattered more to him than any backlash from his impeachment vote, saying, "My district was cut like Zorro—three different ways." However, it was Huizenga who, at least on paper, was more disadvantaged by the new map: While about two-thirds of the residents of the new 4th are currently Upton's constituents, Huizenga represents only about a quarter of the seat he's now the frontrunner to claim.

Upton's decision ends a long career in politics that began in the late 1970s when he started working for local Rep. David Stockman, and he remained on his staff when Stockman became Ronald Reagan's first director of the Office of Management and Budget. In 1986, Upton decided to seek elected office himself when he launched a primary challenge to Rep. Mark Siljander, who had succeeded Stockman in the House in 1981, in an earlier version of the 4th District.

Siljander was an ardent social conservative well to the right of even Reagan: Among other things, he'd unsuccessfully tried to torpedo Sandra Day O'Connor's nomination to the Supreme Court in 1981 because he didn't feel she was sufficiently conservative, and he even threatened to vote against the White House's priorities in an attempt to thwart O'Connor. Siljander, though, had taken just 58% of the vote in his 1984 primary, which suggested that a significant number of primary voters were unhappy with him.

Upton argued that, while both he and Siljander were "conservative Republican[s]," the incumbent had ignored his constituents to focus on international issues. Upton, by contrast, insisted that he'd work better with the party's leadership and seek committee assignments that would allow him to direct his energies to domestic concerns. The race took a dark turn late in the campaign when audio leaked of Siljander telling local clergy members to aid him in order to "break the back of Satan," arguing that his loss "would send a shock wave across America that Christians can be defeated in Congress by impugning their integrity and smear tactics."

Upton ended up dispatching the congressman 55-45, a convincing thumping that both sides attributed to Siljander's comments. Upton's team, while denying that the outcome represented a loss for the religious right, predicted, "Fred's tactics will be much more moderate and more reasonable." Upton easily prevailed in the general election and had no trouble winning for decades; Siljander, for his part, was last in the news in late 2020 when Trump pardoned what an angry Upton described as "a series of federal crimes including obstruction of justice, money laundering and lobbying for an international terrorist group with ties to Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida and the Taliban."

In 2002, Upton easily turned back a primary campaign from state Sen. Dale Shugars 66-32 in what was now numbered the 6th District, but when the burgeoning tea party turned its wrath on establishment figures in 2010, the longtime congressman had become much more vulnerable to intra-party challenges. His opponent that year was former state Rep. Jack Hoogendyk, who had badly failed in his quest to unseat Democratic Sen. Carl Levin two years earlier but argued that Upton was insufficiently conservative. The congressman outspent Hoogendyk by an 18-to-1 margin but prevailed only 57-43, which enticed Hoogendyk to try again in 2012.

However, while the anti-tax Club for Growth ran commercials this time against Upton, who by now was chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, the incumbent worked hard to emphasize his opposition to the Obama administration and won by a larger 67-33 margin. That was the last time he faced a serious primary challenge at the ballot box, but in 2014 he went through his first expensive general election campaign when law professor Larry Lessig directed his Mayday PAC, which he called his "super PAC to end super PACs," to target Upton.

Mayday spent over $2 million to aid a previously unheralded Democrat named Paul Clements, and while Upton didn't come close to losing in that red wave year, Democrats hoped his 56-40 showing meant he could be beaten in a better political climate. Clements sought a rematch in 2016, but Upton won by a 59-36 spread.

In 2018, though, the congressman faced a considerably tougher battle against physician Matt Longjohn at a time when the GOP was on the defensive nationwide. Upton got some surprising help during that campaign when Joe Biden delivered a speech in his district that was paid in part by an Upton family foundation; Biden, who was apparently motivated to praise Upton because of the congressman's work on a bill called the 21st Century Cures Act, declared the congressman was "one of the finest guys I've ever worked with" and "the reason we're going to beat cancer." Ultimately, the congressman prevailed 50-46 in what was by far the closest race of his career. Afterwards, Longjohn’s campaign manager said Biden’s involvement was "brutal at the time and stings even more today."

Democrats hoped they could finally take Upton down in 2020, but Upton returned to form and beat state Rep. Jon Hoadley 56-40 as Trump was carrying his district 51-47. Two months later, Upton responded to the Jan. 6 attack by voting for impeachment, a vote that arguably did more than anything else to close out his lengthy time in Congress.

1Q Fundraising

  • PA-Sen: John Fetterman (D): $3.1 million raised, $4.1 million cash-on-hand
  • NH-Sen: Kevin Smith (R): $410,000 raised (in nine weeks)
  • FL-07: Rusty Roberts (R): $173,000 raised (in 10 days)
  • MI-12: Janice Winfrey (D): $200,000 raised (in six weeks)
  • OH-13: Emilia Sykes (D): $350,000 raised
  • RI-02: Joy Fox (D): $175,000 raised (in two months)
  • SC-01: Nancy Mace (R-inc): $1.2 million raised, $2.3 million cash-on-hand

Senate

AZ-Sen: Monday was the deadline for candidates to file for Arizona's Aug. 2 primary, and the state has a list of contenders here. We run down all the major contests in their respective sections of the Morning Digest, starting with the Senate race.

Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly won a tight 2020 election for the final two years of the late John McCain's term, and he'll be a top GOP target this fall as he seeks re-election. Five Republicans are running to take him on (though Gov. Doug Ducey, to the frustration of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is not one of them), and polls show that a large plurality of primary voters is undecided.

The most prominent contender may be state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, though he attracted heaps of abuse last year from Trump for not doing enough to advance the Big Lie. The only other current elected official is state Corporation Commissioner Justin Olson, but he's struggled to attract attention. The field also includes self-funding businessman Jim Lamon; former Thiel Capital chief operating officer Blake Masters, whose former boss is heavily financing a super PAC to boost him; and retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire.

OH-Sen: Venture capitalist J.D. Vance and former state Treasurer Josh Mandel are each running commercials for the May 3 Republican primary espousing ultra-conservative ideas as they attack the very idea that their beliefs could be racist.

Vance is pushing that message in what the GOP firm Medium Buying says is his first-ever TV ad, though his allies at Protect Ohio Values PAC have already spent over $6 million promoting him. "Are you a racist?" Vance begins as he points right at the camera, "Do you hate Mexicans? The media calls us racist for wanting to build Trump's wall." The Hillbilly Elegy author continues by accusing the media of censorship before proclaiming, "Joe Biden's open border is killing Ohioans with more illegal drugs and more Democrat voters pouring into this country." Mandel, meanwhile, exclaims, "There's nothing racist about stopping critical race theory and loving America."

On the Democratic side, former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau official Morgan Harper has launched what her campaign says is a six-figure opening ad buy. Harper describes her local roots and service in the Obama administration before trying to contrast herself with Rep. Tim Ryan, the frontrunner for the nod, by declaring, "I'm the only Democrat for Senate who's always supported Medicare for All and a $15 living wage, who's always been pro-choice, and supports expanding the Supreme Court to protect women's rights."

PA-Sen: Allies of Rep. Conor Lamb at a super PAC called Penn Progress just dropped the first negative TV ad of Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate primary, but there's a huge problem with the spot.

The narrator begins by asking, "Who can Democrats trust in the race for Senate?" and contrasts Lamb—"a former prosecutor and Marine"—with Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, "a self-described democratic socialist." The ad cites an NPR segment from 2020 for that claim about Fetterman, but at the bottom of the piece are not one but two correction notices that both read, "This story wrongly states that Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is a 'self-described democratic socialist.' He is not." Citing those corrections, attorneys for Fetterman's campaign sent a letter to TV stations demanding they take down the spot, calling it "false and defamatory."

Penn Progress responded by pointing to other news articles that have also called Fetterman a "self-described democratic socialist," but no one seems to have found a quote from Fetterman actually referring to himself this way. That's because, according to his campaign, no such quote exists. In their letter, Fetterman's lawyers say the candidate "has never described himself as a 'democratic socialist'" and link to a 2016 interview in which Fetterman says, "No, I don't label myself a democratic socialist."

Fetterman's team is seeking to have this advertisement bumped from the airwaves because TV and radio stations can be held liable for defamatory content in third-party ads. (Because they're obligated under federal law to run candidate ads so long as they're paid for, broadcasters aren't liable for the content of such spots.) On Tuesday evening, the Fetterman campaign said that one station, WPVI in Philadelphia, had complied with its request.

Aside from the factual blunder, Lamb's supporters may be making a political mistake as well: Attacking a rival as too liberal in a Democratic primary is rarely a winning move. If Penn Progress' ad gets bounced, it may actually be a blessing in disguise for the super PAC.

Separately, a new poll of the GOP primary from Public Opinion Strategies for Honor Pennsylvania finds hedge funder David McCormick (whom the group is backing) leading TV personality Mehmet Oz 22-16. In a previously unreleased POS poll from January, Oz enjoyed a 31-13 advantage, but both sides—and other candidates as well—have unleashed millions in attack ads since then.

SD-Sen: Candidate filing closed March 29 for South Dakota's June 7 primaries, and we'll be taking a look at the fields for any notable 2022 contests now that the Secretary of State's office has had a week to receive "the official certification(s) from county central committees or state political parties"; you can find a list of contenders here. A runoff would be required on Aug. 16 in the races for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and governor if no candidate wins at least 35% of the vote, but there aren't enough contenders in any of those races to make this a possibility. Note also that the parties hold nominating conventions (typically later in June) instead of primaries for several offices, including attorney general.

Donald Trump used the last days of his time on Twitter to rant in late 2020 that Republican Sen. John Thune "will be primaried in 2022, political career over!!!" but the Senate minority whip's political career seems like it will continue just fine. Only two little-known Republicans, Oglala Sioux tribal administrator Bruce Whalen and rancher Mark Mowry, ended up filing to take him on, despite Thune's long dalliance with retirement, and there's no indication that either poses a threat. Attorney Brian Bengs has the Democratic primary to himself in this very red state.

Ad Reservations: Last week we got preliminary information about the first fall TV bookings from the Democratic group Senate Majority PAC, and AdImpact now has full details about how much money is going into each reservation:

  • Arizona: $22.4 million
  • Georgia: $24.6 million
  • Nevada: $14.1 million
  • Pennsylvania: $25.8 million
  • Wisconsin: $11.7 million

Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada are Democratic-held, while SMP is going on the offensive in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. These are the first general election reservations we've seen from any major outside groups on the Senate side.

Governors

AL-Gov: Former Ambassador to Slovenia Lindy Blanchard is running more ads ahead of the May 24 Republican primary arguing that Gov. Kay Ivey is insufficiently conservative. One spot focuses entirely on attacking the governor, including a clip of her saying last year, "It's time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks." The other commercial tries to use the Big Lie against Ivey, with the narrator proclaiming, "Lindy believes the election was stolen from Trump. Kay Ivey thinks Biden's victory was legitimate."

Ivey, meanwhile, is running her own ads playing up her own far-right credentials. "The fake news, big tech, and blue state liberals stole the election from President Trump," says the governor, "but here in Alabama, we are making sure that never happens. We have not, and will not, send absentee ballots to everyone and their brother."

AZ-Gov: Both sides have competitive primaries to succeed termed-out GOP Gov. Doug Ducey in swingy Arizona. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has long looked like the frontrunner on the Democratic side, and she picked up an endorsement Tuesday from the state branch of the American Federation of Teachers. Her two intra-party foes are former state Rep. Aaron Lieberman and former Homeland Security official Marco López, who is a one-time mayor of Nogales.

Republicans, meanwhile, have six contenders. Trump has thrown his endorsement behind Kari Lake, a former local TV anchor turned conservative conspiracy theorist. The only current elected official, by contrast, is Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson, who is backed by former Govs. Jan Brewer and Fyfe Simington.

Another name to watch is former Rep. Matt Salmon, who narrowly lost the 2002 general election to Democrat Janet Napolitano; his second bid has the support of the Club for Growth as well as Reps. Andy Biggs and David Schweikert. There's also self-funding businessman Steve Gaynor, who narrowly lost the open-seat race for secretary of state to Hobbs in 2018. Businesswoman Paola Tulliani Zen, who founded a biscotti company, also attracted attention earlier this year when politicos learned she'd self-funded $1.2 million, but she hasn't otherwise generated much press. Neither has the sixth GOP candidate, Scott Neely.

NM-Gov: Former Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block uses his first spot for the June Republican primary to proclaim that he was "a day-one supporter of President Donald J. Trump," who badly lost New Mexico twice. The ad goes on to tout Block's conservative ideas, including his desire to "finish the border wall" and "block the COVID mandates," though at times the narrator's message almost gets drowned out by the commercial's loud music.

SD-Gov: Gov. Kristi Noem faces a Republican primary challenge from state Rep. Steve Haugaard, a former state House speaker who, believe it or not, is trying to run to the incumbent's right. Noem, though, has a massive financial edge over the challenger, as well as Trump's endorsement, and there's no indication yet that she's vulnerable. The winner will take on state House Minority Leader Jamie Smith, who faces no opposition in the Democratic primary.

TX-Gov: YouGov's new poll for the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation shows Republican Gov. Greg Abbott leading Democrat Beto O'Rourke 50-42 among likely voters.

House

AK-AL: 314 Action Fund, a group that supported independent Al Gross in his 2020 Senate race, has released a survey from the Democratic pollster Change Research that finds him locked in a close special election against former GOP Gov. Sarah Palin in the instant-runoff general election in August.

It's impossible to know which of the 48 candidates competing in the June top-four primary might advance to the general, but we know the final matchup will be different than the one Change polled because one of the candidates it included, Republican state Sen. Lora Reinbold, did not end up running; the survey was also conducted days before either Palin or the final Republican candidate tested, state Sen. Josh Revak, announced they were in.

The firm initially finds Gross leading Palin 33-30 in a hypothetical general election, with Revak and Reinbold at 9% and 8%, respectively. After the instant runoff process is simulated, not much changes, as Gross and Palin tie with 35% apiece, while 30% are undecided. In a separate question pitting the two head-to-head, however, Palin edges out Gross 42-40.

314 Action hasn't made an endorsement yet, but the organization made it clear it wanted Gross to win in its release, saying, "Dr. Al Gross has dedicated his life to improving health outcomes for Alaskans, and if elected to Congress he'll have a platform to craft policy that will do just that."

AZ-01: Republican Rep. David Schweikert is running for re-election in the revamped 1st District, a seat in eastern Phoenix and its eastern suburbs that's changed quite a bit from the 6th District he currently represents: While Trump would have carried his existing constituency 51-47, it’s Biden who would have taken the new 1st 50-49. (We explain the many changes to Arizona's congressional map here.)

Before he can focus on the general election, though, Schweikert needs to get past self-funder Elijah Norton in the primary. Norton has been attacking the ethics of the incumbent, who in 2020 agreed to pay a $50,000 fine, accept a formal reprimand, and admit to 11 different violations of congressional rules and campaign finance laws in a deal with the bipartisan House Ethics Committee to conclude a two-year investigation. Schweikert, though, has made it clear he'll focus on Norton's turbulent departure from his insurance company. The field also includes Josh Barnett, who badly lost to Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego last cycle in the safely blue 7th District.

Three Democrats are also competing for this competitive seat. The field consists of Jevin Hodge, who lost a tight 2020 race for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors; former Phoenix Suns employee Adam Metzendorf; and environmental consultant Ginger Sykes Torres, who has the backing of southern Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva.

AZ-02: Democratic Rep. Tom O'Halleran is defending a seat in northern and eastern rural Arizona that would have backed Trump 53-45, which is a significant shift from Biden's 50-48 win in the 1st District that he currently holds.

Seven Republicans are competing to take him on, and there's no obvious frontrunner at this point. The two elected officials in the running are state Rep. Walt Blackman and John Moore, the mayor of the tiny community of Williams. Also in the running are Navy SEAL veteran Eli Crane; Ron Watkins, the reputed founder of the QAnon conspiracy cult; and three others. Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer had announced he was running last month, but his name was not on the state’s final list of candidates.

AZ-04: Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton is defending the 4th District in the southern Phoenix suburbs that, at 54-44 Biden, is considerably less safe than the 9th District it replaces. Six Republicans are competing to take him on, including Tanya Wheeless, who served as a staffer to then-Sen. Martha McSally, and Chandler City Councilman Rene Lopez.

AZ-06: Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick announced her retirement last year before Arizona's Independent Redistricting Commission drew up a new 6th District in the Tucson area that Biden would have carried by a tiny 49.3-49.2 margin—a sizable drop from Biden’s 55-44 win in the old 2nd District.

The Democratic contest pits former state Rep. Daniel Hernández, who as an intern helped save then-Rep. Gabby Giffords after she was shot in 2011, against state Sen. Kirsten Engel; a third candidate, engineer Avery Anderson, hasn't earned much attention so far. The GOP frontrunner is Juan Ciscomani, a former senior advisor to Gov. Doug Ducey, though it remains to be seen if any of his four intra-party rivals can give him a serious fight.

FL-13: 2020 nominee Anna Paulina Luna, who has Trump's endorsement, has released a Spry Strategies poll that shows her again winning the August Republican primary. The firm gives Luna the lead with 35%, while prosecutor Kevin Hayslett and 2020 candidate Amanda Makki are tied for second with 9% each.

GA-07: NBC reports that Rep. Lucy McBath is spending $74,000 on her first TV ad for the May 24 Democratic primary, which features her visiting the grave of her son, Jordan Davis, as she describes how he was murdered by a gunman. (The commercial features surveillance footage from the gas station where Davis was killed, with someone responding to the sounds of gunfire, "Oh my God. Somebody's shooting!") McBath tells the audience, "My tragedy turned to purpose. In Congress, I'm fighting to protect voting rights, to lower prescription drug costs, and to prevent gun violence."

McBath's longtime allies at Everytown for Gun Safety are also spending $1 million to help her, which the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says will come in the form of digital and radio ads and a mail campaign. McBath has already benefited from $1 million in advertising from another group, Protect Our Future PAC, while fellow incumbent Carolyn Bourdeaux has not yet received any major outside support.

MD-01: Former Del. Heather Mizeur says she'll continue her campaign for the Democratic nod to take on Republican Rep. Andy Harris even though Trump would have carried the newest version of this seat by a tough 56-42 margin. Foreign policy strategist Dave Harden, who is the underdog in the July primary, also made it clear he'd remain in the race.

NH-01: The Associated Press reports that former Trump administration official Matt Mowers, one of the leading GOP candidates for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District, voted twice in the 2016 primaries, which would be a violation of federal law.

According to the AP, Mowers cast a ballot in New Hampshire's primary in February, when he was working for Chris Christie's presidential campaign. (Christie finished sixth with just 7% of the vote and quit the race the next day.) Mowers then voted in the June primary in his home state of New Jersey, a month after Donald Trump became the GOP's de facto nominee, though there were other races on the ballot that day as well.

Any statute of limitations has long run out, so Mowers—who has a page devoted to "election integrity" on his campaign website—would be able to evade any legal ramifications. Politically, though, it's a different story, as his rivals for the nomination to take on Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas immediately went on the attack. Mowers' campaign has so far declined to respond directly to the story.

SD-AL: Rep. Dusty Johnson faces a Republican primary challenge from state Rep. Taffy Howard, a Big Lie supporter who launched her bid last year insisting, "I believe there was fraud in the last election that needs to be investigated. Our current congressman is not willing to admit that there was an issue." No Democrat ended up filing to run for the state's only House seat.

TX-15: EMILY's List has endorsed businesswoman Michelle Vallejo in the May 24 Democratic primary runoff for this open seat. Vallejo will face Army veteran Ruben Ramirez, who led her 28-20 last month in the first round of the nomination contest.

TX-34 (special): Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has scheduled the special all-party primary to succeed former Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela for June 14, with the filing deadline set for April 13. A runoff date would only be scheduled if no one earns a majority of the vote in the first round.

Attorneys General

AZ-AG: Republicans have a six-way primary to succeed termed-out Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who is seeking Team Red's nod for U.S. Senate, and this is another nominating contest without an obvious frontrunner. The only Democrat, by contrast, is former Arizona Corporation Commission Chair Kris Mayes.

One familiar GOP contender is Tiffany Shedd, who lost a close general election last cycle in the 1st Congressional District against Rep. Tom O'Halleran. Another 2020 loser is Rodney Glassman, who narrowly failed to unseat the Maricopa County assessor in the primary; Glassman was the 2010 Democratic nominee against Sen. John McCain, but he now sports an endorsement from far-right Rep. Paul Gosar. The field also consists of two former prosecutors, Lacy Cooper and Abe Hamadeh; former Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew Gould; and manufacturing executive Dawn Grove.

TX-AG: YouGov surveys the May 24 Republican primary runoff for the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation and shows incumbent Ken Paxton fending off Land Commissioner George P. Bush 65-23, which is even larger than the 59-30 lead that CWS Research found in its recent poll for a pro-Paxton group. YouGov also has former ACLU attorney Rochelle Garza beating former Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski 46-31 for the Democratic nod.

YouGov tests hypothetical general election scenarios as well and finds that, despite his myriad of scandals, Paxton outperforms Bush. The attorney general leads Garza and Jaworski 48-42 and 48-41, respectively, while Jaworski edges out Bush 39-38 and Garza ties him at 39-all.

Secretaries of State

AZ-SoS: Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is running for governor, and four Republicans and two Democrats are running to replace her as this swing state's chief elections officer.

Donald Trump, unsurprisingly, has taken a strong interest in this contest and endorsed state Rep. Mark Finchem, a QAnon supporter who led the failed effort to overturn Joe Biden's 2020 victory and attended the Jan. 6 rally just ahead of the attack on the Capitol. Team Red's field also includes state Rep. Shawnna Bolick, who championed a bill that would have allowed the state legislature to decertify the state's presidential results at any point before Inauguration Day, and state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, who has sponsored some of the most aggressive new voting restrictions in Arizona. The final Republican contender is advertising executive Beau Lane.

Democrats, meanwhile, have a duel between state House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding and Adrian Fontes, who narrowly lost re-election in 2020 as Maricopa County clerk, the post responsible for election administration in the county.

Prosecutors

Maricopa County, AZ Prosecutor: Republican incumbent Alistair Adel resigned late last month as the top prosecutor of America's fourth-largest county over serious questions about her ability to manage her office, and one Democrat and three Republicans quickly collected the requisite signatures needed to compete in the special election to succeed her. The partisan primary and general elections will take place on the same days as the state's regularly scheduled statewide contests, and the winner will be up for a full term in 2024.

The only Democrat in the race is 2020 nominee Julie Gunnigle, who lost to Adel by a close 51-49. The GOP field consists of Anni Foster, who is Gov. Doug Ducey's general counsel; City of Goodyear Prosecutor Gina Godbehere; and prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, whom Senate Republicans hired in 2018 as a "female assistant" to question Brett Kavanaugh and accuser Christine Blasey Ford. A fourth Republican, attorney James Austin Woods, does not appear to have filed.

Morning Digest: A day after being forced into surprise runoff, Texas congressman quits amid scandal

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

Check out our new podcast, The Downballot!

LEADING OFF

TX-03: Republican Rep. Van Taylor shocked Texas politicos Wednesday by announcing that he was ending his re-election campaign because of an affair the married congressman had with a woman who had fled her ISIS terrorist husband years ago, a move that came hours after he was forced into a primary runoff against former Collin County Judge Keith Self. Taylor said he would be taking his name off the May runoff ballot, which will automatically make Self the GOP nominee. Self will now be the clear favorite to win the general election in a Plano-based seat the GOP legislature aggressively gerrymandered: While Trump took the old version just 50-49, the new 3rd District would have supported him 56-42.

In the primary that took place only the day before, Taylor took 49% of the vote―just below the majority he needed to win outright―while Self beat out businesswoman Suzanne Harp 27-21 for what turned out to be a very important second runoff spot. Self, who was badly outspent, used the campaign to bash Taylor for voting to accept Joe Biden's Electoral College victory in the hours after the attack on the Capitol and for supporting the creation of a Jan. 6 commission, but there was no talk from him about any personal scandal involving his opponent.

Taylor’s allies, including the Congressional Leadership Fund, also didn’t know what was about to come: The groups spent a combined $800,000 in the weeks after a new super PAC called Defeating Communism PAC dropped $435,000 against him, but surprisingly, their intervention wasn’t quite enough to get the not-yet-scandal-ridden incumbent a majority on Tuesday.

However, whispers about the story that would end the two-term congressman's career began to circulate on far-right sites two days before the March 1 primary when the National File posted audio of a Plano resident named Tania Joya, who escaped Syria with her children in 2013 weeks after her now-dead husband brought them there, talking about their affair. The white supremacist site Breitbart published its own account on Monday, but mainstream outlets didn't pick it up before the primary (the Texas Tribune says it wasn't able to independently verify the story).

On election eve, though, Harp insisted the allegations made it "dangerous to have compromised and corrupt representation in Washington," and this wasn't her first encounter with the story. That's because Harp, reports the Dallas Morning News, sent one of her supporters to do the interview with Joya that National File ran days later, after Joya contacted the candidate on Thursday. Joya, who lives in Plano and works to rehabilitate ex-terrorists, said she had met Taylor through her work and the two became "very close" before the relationship, which she said spanned October 2020 through June of last year, ended. Joya also said that, as the affair concluded, she asked Taylor to pay her $5,000 to pay off her bills. She declared, "For him, it was like, 'Okay, on the condition you don't tell anyone.' ... I didn't want to tell anybody anything."

Unfortunately for Taylor, things didn't remain amicable between the two. Joya said she didn't even know his primary was about to take place when she went to Harp, but she grew tired of seeing his face on billboards across her community. "All I wanted was for Suzanne Harp to just say, 'Hey, I know your little scandal with Tania Joya," she said, adding, "'Would you like to resign before we embarrass you?' But it didn't happen like that."

The story only became widely known Wednesday when Taylor emailed his supporters to tell them he was exiting the race. "About a year ago, I made a horrible mistake that has caused deep hurt and pain among those I love most in this world," he wrote, continuing, "I had an affair, it was wrong, and it was the greatest failure of my life."

Taylor's admission concludes what had been a promising political career. The Republican, who is descended from the founder of the giant Humble Oil, served with the Marines in Iraq and first sought elected office in 2006 by taking on Democratic Rep. Chet Edwards in the 17th District, a Waco-based seat located over 100 miles from Plano. Edwards, though, had survived a GOP gerrymander two years before by winning re-election even as George W. Bush was carrying his constituency in a 70-30 landslide, and Taylor struggled to gain traction in what was rapidly turning into an awful year for his party. Edwards went after his opponent for only recently moving to the district and won 58-40, but Taylor was far from done with politics.

Taylor soon relocated to Collin County and won a 2010 runoff against Mabrie Jackson to succeed state Rep. Brian McCall in a state House seat that Democrats weren't contesting. (Edwards that same year lost re-election to Republican Pete Flores.) In a strange set of circumstances, though, McCall resigned early to become chancellor of the Texas State University System, and Jackson beat Taylor in the special election for the final months of his term even though she'd already dropped out. But Taylor still won the special by default and any embarrassment was brief, as he won a promotion to the state Senate in 2014 without any serious opposition.

The same thing happened in 2018 when longtime Republican Rep. Sam Johnson retired and Taylor, who self-funded $3 million, easily prevailed in the primary and general elections for a historically red seat. The incumbent had a tougher fight in 2020 when Democratic attorney Lulu Seikaly ran a credible campaign against him at a time when Team Blue hoped that Trump's toxicity in the suburbs would drag down Republicans like Taylor. But it wasn't enough: While Trump's margin of victory crashed from 55-41 in 2016 to just 50-49, the congressman ran well ahead and prevailed 55-43. The GOP legislature didn't want to take any chances with that trend, however, which is why they implemented an even stronger gerrymander this cycle.

The beneficiary of that new map and Taylor's failure to claim a majority on Tuesday is Self, a hardline conservative who has his own long record in local politics. Self ran for Congress all the way back in 2002 for the 26th District, but physician Michael Burgess beat him 22.5-22.2 to claim the second spot in the runoff (Burgess won the nod in an upset and remains in the House). Self bounced back in 2006 by winning the race for Collin County judge, an executive post that's the rough equivalent of a county executive, and he quickly established a reputation for picking fights with other members of the local government.

Self faced a serious renomination fight in 2010 from Plano School Board member John Muns, who tried to portray himself as the true conservative in the race. The judge, who had his own ardent right-wing support, again made headlines during that campaign when he pushed back on a Muns attack by quoting the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels saying, "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." Self defended his actions by insisting that, while he wasn't linking Muns to the Nazis, "I said he was using the method. There's a huge difference. This is one of those things where the PC police immediately go crazy."

Self prevailed 58-42 ahead of an easy general election win (Muns himself was elected mayor of Plano last year), and while he considered running for the 3rd in 2018, he retired that year instead. He looked like a longshot when he announced his own primary bid against Taylor in October, whom he went after for accepting Biden's victory, and he still seemed to be the clear underdog after the incumbent only narrowly failed to win a majority on Tuesday. The congressman's self-destruction, though, now puts Self on a glide path to win a House seat 20 years after his first attempt.

The Downballot

● On the latest episode of The Downballot, David Nir and David Beard recap the action from Texas' Tuesday primaries, including the runoff between conservative Democrat Henry Cuellar and progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros; the demise of Louie Gohmert's political career; and the shocking developments in Texas' 3rd Congressional District, where a scandal derailed an unexpected runoff.

The co-hosts also embark on a deep dive into the world of Democratic open seats in the House, discussing the role of redistricting in prompting retirements and the many ways in which primaries this year have the chance to move the party in a more progressive direction and increase its diversity. You can listen to The Downballot on all major podcast platforms, and you can find a transcript right here.

Redistricting

OH Redistricting: Ohio's Republican-dominated redistricting commission passed a new congressional map on a 5-2 party-line vote on Wednesday, but it still faces review by the state Supreme Court, which isn't apt to like it. The map contains 10 safely Republican seats and just three solidly Democratic districts, with two more nominally competitive seats that could easily go to the GOP given the likely midterm environment this year. The justices struck down the GOP's previous map as an illegal partisan gerrymander that violated the state constitution for its excessive Republican skew.

Senate

AZ-Sen: Wealthy businessman Jim Lamon's new spot for the August Republican primary rhetorically asks how Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly, who has only been in office since December of 2020, can run "to solve the problems you've created?" The only mention of Lamon is his brief appearance at the beginning giving his required approval to his commercial.

OH-Sen: NBC's Henry Gomez reports that former state party chair Jane Timken, who has mostly directed her TV ads at Fox News until now, is spending six figures on her first broadcast spot for the May Republican primary. The ad dubs Timken "the real Trump conservative" running against the "pretenders" and shows a long clip of Trump praising her. As Gomez notes, "If you didn't know any better, you might think Trump has endorsed her."

OK-Sen-B: A former campaign manager for former Rep. J.C. Watts tells Read Oklahoma that his old boss is considering entering the June Republican primary to succeed outgoing Sen. Jim Inhofe. Watts, a one-time University of Oklahoma football star who was one of the most prominent African American Republicans in the nation during his eight years in Congress, retired in 2003, but he's remained an active media presence. That's not necessarily an asset, though, as Politico's Burgess Everett notes that Watts was a vocal Trump critic well into his administration.

UT-Sen: The Republican firm OH Predictive Insights finds Republican Sen. Mike Lee leading independent Evan McMullin by double digits in a pair of hypothetical three-way general election matchups.

Lee bests McMullin 34-24, with Democrat Kael Weston taking 12%. When former Republican strategist Steve Schmidt is substituted in as Team Blue's candidate, Lee's edge over McMullin grows to 36-23, with 11% going to the Democrat. Weston, who was the Democratic nominee for the 2nd Congressional District last cycle, is running, while Schmidt, who left the GOP during the Trump era, hasn't shown any obvious interest in getting in since November of 2020. OH Predictive Insights also takes a look at the June GOP primary and shows Lee beating former state Rep. Becky Edwards in a 51-5 landslide.

McMullin, for his part, is going up with what appears to be the first campaign ad anywhere based around Russia's invasion of Ukraine. "As the world rallies around Ukraine, Mike Lee was only one of two senators to oppose sanctions on Putin," says the candidate, "then he flew to the Kremlin and discussed dropping sanctions." He continues, "Lee even opposed arming Ukrainians fighting for their lives." McMullin concludes by talking about his "decade protecting America from dictators and terrorists." Lee ended 2021 with a $2.17 million to $703,000 cash-on-hand lead over McMullin, who ran for president in 2016 as an anti-Trump conservative.

WI-Sen, WI-Gov: Marquette University has released the first independent poll of either the August Democratic primary to face Republican Sen. Ron Johnson or the GOP contest to take on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. In the Senate contest, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes outpaces Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry 23-13, with Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson at 5%; a recent Lasry internal from Normington Petts found him trailing Barnes 35-27.

Over in the GOP gubernatorial primary, former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch leads businessman Kevin Nicholson 30-8, while state Rep. Timothy Ramthun grabs 5%. A January Kleefisch poll from the Tarrance Group, which was taken before either of her intra-party foes announced, showed her defeating Nicholson 61-8, while Ramthun was not tested.

Governors

MN-Gov: Former TV and radio host Cory Hepola announced Tuesday that he would run for governor under the banner of the newly established Forward Party. Hepola avoided saying much about his actual political beliefs other than that he's pro-choice, though he volunteered that in 2018 he voted for the man he's now trying to unseat, Democratic Gov. Tim Walz, as well as for Joe Biden two years later.

Democrats seem to think Hepola is more of a threat to Walz than to the eventual Republican nominee, as state party chair Ken Martin warned, "A vote for Cory Hepola is a vote to help the GOP cut taxes for the rich, defund public schools, and force their anti-choice agenda on Minnesotans." Republican operatives, by contrast, took to social media to celebrate his entrance.

NY-Gov: Rep. Lee Zeldin earned the support of 85% of delegates at the state GOP convention on Tuesday, making him the only candidate to secure an automatic spot on the June 28 primary ballot. Because the other Republican hopefuls failed to win at least 25% of the vote, they'll all have to collect 15,000 signatures statewide in order to run in the primary. All of them, including businessman Harry Wilson, former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, and former Trump White House staffer Andrew Giuliani, have said they'll do so.

House

CA-40: Democratic Rep. Katie Porter, who currently represents almost two-thirds of California's new 40th Congressional District, has endorsed physician Asif Mahmood's bid against Republican Rep. Young Kim. Porter is seeking re-election in the neighboring 47th District.

FL-13: EMILY's List has endorsed Democratic state Rep. Michele Rayner in her campaign for Florida's open 13th Congressional District.

FL-22: Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg says he's considering a bid for Florida's 22nd District, which recently became open after Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch announced he'd resign later this year. Jewish Insider also drops the name of another potential Democrat, former Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, though there's no word on whether he's interested. Meanwhile, on the GOP side, former state Rep. George Moraitis says he too is thinking about the race.

MI-13: Former Detroit General Counsel Sharon McPhail, a Democrat who served a single term on the City Council in the 2000s, tells MIRS News in a paywalled report that she's "going to be on the ballot" for the August primary in Michigan's safely blue 13th District. McPhail ran for mayor three times (in 1993, 2005, and 2009) but fared poorly on each occasion. However, a new poll from Target-Insyght taken for the state Democratic Party's Black Caucus shows that she'd start off in first place with 24% of the vote while state Rep. Shri Thanedar takes 12 and former Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee is at 11, with all other candidates in single digits and 31% undecided.

MN-01: Former Republican state Rep. Brad Finstad, who'd been mentioned as a possible candidate, confirms he's considering running in the Aug. 9 special election for Minnesota's vacant 1st District.

NC-01: Democratic state Rep. James Gailliard, who had announced a bid for Congress in November after North Carolina Republicans passed their first gerrymander—which was since struck down by the courts and replaced with a much fairer map—has instead filed for re-election.

NY-03: Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has endorsed Jon Kaiman, one of his deputy executives, in the Democratic primary for New York's open 3rd Congressional District. Meanwhile, former Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, a former Republican who switched to the Democratic Party in 2016, says he won't run.

NY-04: Nassau County Legislator Carrié Solages, who recently filed paperwork with the FEC, has announced a bid for New York's open 4th Congressional District.

OK-02: State Sen. Marty Quinn on Wednesday became the first notable candidate to announce a bid to succeed Rep. Markwayne Mullin, a fellow Republican who is giving up this safely red seat in eastern Oklahoma to run for the Senate. The filing deadline is April 15, so other potential contenders have about a month-and-a-half to mull over their options.

OR-06: State Rep. Andrea Salinas has earned an endorsement from 1st District Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, who currently represents just over 40% of this new seat, in the May Democratic primary.

PA-10: Carlisle School Board member Rick Coplen, a Democrat who had announced a state Senate bid last week, declared Tuesday that he would instead challenge Republican Rep. Scott Perry. Coplen, who is an Army veteran and professor at the U.S. Army War College, said he made his decision after 2020 nominee Eugene DePasquale said Monday that he wouldn't seek a rematch against Perry, who heads the nihilistic House Freedom Caucus. The redrawn version of this Harrisburg-based seat would have favored Trump 51-47.

Attorneys General

TX-AG: Land Commissioner George P. Bush spent the first hours of his Republican primary runoff campaign against scandal-plagued incumbent Ken Paxton by publicly appealing to Donald Trump to unendorse the attorney general ahead of the May 24 second round. The Texas Tribune's Patrick Svitek relays that Bush, who is the son of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, told conservative radio host Mark Davis that he wanted to "re-establish those lines of communication and say, 'Look, Mr. President, I believe you made a mistake on this one.'" The Land Commissioner continued, "There's great conservatives that have also won without the endorsement. I'm giving you a chance to reassess ... because there's a lot at stake here."

Bush tried hard last year to win Trump's support, a charm offensive that famously involved him creating beer koozies dissing his family: That merchandise depicted outlines of Bush and Trump shaking hands above a Trump quote reading, "This is the only Bush that likes me! This is the Bush that got it right. I like him." But Trump soon demonstrated that he liked Paxton, who spearheaded an unsuccessful lawsuit aimed at overturning Joe Biden's victory, a whole lot more by backing him for renomination.

CNN wrote all the way back in July that even Bush's allies correctly predicted this would happen and "warned him not to publicly play up to the former President because Trump would once again take glee in embarrassing the Bush family." One source even said then that "Trump endorsing Paxton is like Lucy and the football and Charlie Brown." Bush, though, seems to be quite content to take more kicks at the pigskin.  

Paxton, for his part, also previewed his runoff strategy against Bush earlier on Wednesday by telling Davis, "If conservatives unite ... we can end the Bush dynasty." The attorney general added that his opponent "has got personal issues too that I can bring up that I've never brought up. ... I don't want to do that." Paxton didn't hint what he meant, though he predicted that Bush "knows it's gonna change the dynamic of the race."

Paxton outpaced Bush on Tuesday 43-23, with former state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman and Rep. Louie Gohmert taking 17% each. Neither defeated candidate, though, seems interested in helping Bush unite anti-Paxton voters right now: Gohmert also told Davis, "I see myself just completely staying out of" the runoff, while Guzman put out a statement that didn't mention either runoff contender.  

On the Democratic side, former ACLU attorney Rochelle Garza took first place in the primary with 43%, while the second runoff spot has not yet been decided. With 989,000 votes counted, former Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski, who is the grandson of Watergate special prosecutor Leon Jaworski, held a tiny 19.6-19.5 edge over civil rights attorney Lee Merritt.

Election Recaps

TX-Gov: Gov. Greg Abbott took 66% of the vote in Tuesday's Republican primary, while former state Sen. Don Huffines and former state party chair Allen West were far behind with 12% each. That huge win for the incumbent wasn't a surprise to anyone except maybe West, as the one-time Florida congressman released several polls from Paradigm Partners showing him in contention―including a late January survey that found him beating Abbott 43-34. The governor will face former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, the 2018 Senate nominee who easily won his own Democratic primary, in November.  

TX-01: Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran won 63% of the vote in the Republican primary to succeed Rep. Louie Gohmert, who gave up this safely red seat in northeast Texas to wage a failed bid for attorney general. Far behind in second place with 24% was Joe McDaniel, who lives far from the 1st District in Dallas.

TX-04: Republican Rep. Pat Fallon ended up defeating former TV anchor Dan Thomas by an unimpressive 59-30 in this safely red seat in east Texas, though that was more than enough for him to win the primary outright. Thomas, who was fired in October as News 12 anchor for refusing to get vaccinated for what he claimed were health reasons, may have benefited from his existing name recognition even though he raised little for his campaign.

Fallon himself also was waging his very first congressional primary because party leaders awarded him the nod in 2020 when incumbent John Ratcliffe resigned after securing the nomination in order to become Trump's director of national intelligence. The congressman only represents about 55% of this new seat, which may also explain why he didn't do better.

TX-08: With 65,000 votes counted in the 11-way Republican primary to succeed retiring Rep. Kevin Brady, retired Navy SEAL Morgan Luttrell is in first with 52%, a little over the majority he'd need to win this very expensive race outright, but the AP has not yet made a call. Political operative Christian Collins, who is a former Brady campaign manager, is well behind with 22%. This seat, which includes the northern Houston area and nearby rural counties, is safely red.

TX-15: 2020 nominee Monica De La Cruz secured the Republican nod again with 57% of the vote in her bid to succeed Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who decided to run for the considerably safer 34th District rather than defend a redrawn Rio Grande Valley constituency that would have favored Trump 51-48. De La Cruz sported endorsements from Donald Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and she enjoyed a big financial lead over Mauro Garza, a self-funder who was a distant second with 15%.

On the Democratic side, Army veteran Ruben Ramirez, who has Gonzalez's endorsement, took first with 28% of the vote. Businesswoman Michelle Vallejo edged out attorney John Rigney 20-19 for the second runoff spot, and Rigney conceded Wednesday afternoon.

TX-23: Marine veteran John Lira beat social worker Priscilla Golden 56-44 in the Democratic primary, but national Democrats haven't signaled much interest yet in his campaign to challenge freshman Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales. The GOP legislature extended Trump's margin of victory in this west Texas seat from 50-48 to 53-46, and Lira so far has struggled with fundraising.

TX-26: Rep. Michael Burgess took 67% in his latest Republican primary for a safely red seat in Fort Worth's northern exurbs, while self-funder Raven Harrison ended up taking last place in the five-way race with just 5%.

TX-27: Republican incumbent Michael Cloud defeated A.J. Louderback, who recently left office as the sheriff of tiny Jackson County, 72-12 in this 60-37 Trump seat in the Corpus Christi area.

TX-28: While the Democratic primary runoff between conservative Rep. Henry Cuellar and immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros will generate the most attention on May 24, the Republican contest will also be going into a second round. Cassy Garcia, a former Ted Cruz staffer who is campaigning with his support, took first with 23%. Her opponent will be 2020 nominee Sandra Whitten, who lost to Cuellar 58-39 last time; Whitten took 18% on Tuesday, which put her a few points ahead of four other contenders. None of the Republicans have brought in much money so far, but Team Red is hoping they'll have an opening in a Laredo seat that would have gone for Biden 53-46.

TX-30: State Rep. Jasmine Crockett took first place in the nine-way Democratic primary with 48%, just below the majority she needed to win outright. Party operative Jane Hamilton secured second by defeating Cedar Hill Independent School District Trustee Keisha Lankford 17-8. Crockett has the backing of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, who is retiring after 30 years representing a safely blue Dallas district, while two groups affiliated with the cryptocurrency industry together expended a massive $2.15 million to boost her. Hamilton, who didn't benefit from any major outside spending, has the support of neighboring Rep. Marc Veasey and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk.

TX-35: Former Austin City Council member Greg Casar took 61% of the vote in the Democratic primary for this open and safely blue seat, which the GOP once again gerrymandered to connect the Austin area with San Antonio by means of a pencil-thin corridor along Interstate 35; two other candidates, state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez and former San Antonio City Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran, were far behind with 16% each. Casar, who is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, enjoyed the support of Mayor Steve Adler as well as a number of prominent national progressive organizations, and he also had a big financial edge over Rodriguez.

TX-37: Rep. Lloyd Doggett had no trouble defeating Donna Imam, who lost to Republican Rep. John Carter in 2020 in the old 31st District, 79-18 in the Democratic primary for this safely blue seat centered around his longtime Austin base.

TX-38: Army veteran Wesley Hunt beat former State Republican Executive Committee member Mark Ramsey 55-30 in the Republican primary for this new and reliably red seat in the Houston suburbs. The well-funded Hunt impressed Republican leaders last cycle with his unsuccessful campaign to unseat Democratic Rep. Lizzie Fletcher in the 7th District, which helped make him the overwhelming frontrunner to prevail here.

Tarrant County, TX District Attorney: Tarrant County Criminal Court Judge Phil Sorrells, who picked up Donald Trump's endorsement weeks ahead of the Republican primary for this GOP-held open seat, took first with 41%, while state Rep. Matt Krause edged out Criminal District Court Judge Mollee Westfall 31-29 for the second runoff spot. On the Democratic side, Tiffany Burks won the nomination outright by beating her fellow former prosecutor, Albert John Roberts, 61-29.  

Morning Digest: Onetime ‘Boy Mayor’ Dennis Kucinich campaigns to reclaim office he lost in 1979

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

Cleveland, OH Mayor: Former Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich announced Monday that he'd run this year to regain his old job as mayor of Cleveland, the post that first catapulted him to fame more than four decades ago. Kucinich joins what's already a crowded September nonpartisan primary for a four-year term to succeed retiring incumbent Frank Jackson, who is this heavily blue city's longest-serving mayor; the top-two vote-getters will advance to the November general election.

Kucinich, who got his start in public office as a member of the City Council, was elected mayor in 1977 at the age of 31 in a close race, a victory that made him the youngest person to ever run a major American city. His accomplishment earned him national attention and the nickname "Boy Mayor," but his two years in office would prove to be extremely difficult.

Kucinich had a terrible relationship with the head of the City Council and the local business community, but his clash with Richard Hongisto, the city's popular police chief, proved to be especially costly. Hongisto accused the mayor's staff of pressuring the force to commit "unethical acts," which led Kucinich, who said the chief had failed to submit a report detailing his allegations, to fire him on live TV.

Campaign Action

Things got so bad that Kucinich, in response to death threats, wore a bulletproof vest to the Cleveland Indians' 1978 opening game. He left the event safely, though he would recount, "When they called my name, I got a standing boo from about 75,000 people." Kucinich's opponents also saw their chance to end his term early by waging a recall campaign against him that year. Almost every influential group in the city backed his ouster, but the incumbent held on by 236 votes.

Kucinich's troubles were hardly over, though. In late 1978, after an ulcer prevented him from making a planned appearance at a parade, he learned that the local mob planned to murder him at the event. He also more recently divulged that he knows of two other attempts on his life during his tenure.

Near the end of that year, Kucinich refused recommendations to sell the publicly-owned Municipal Light (also known as Muny Light) power company to Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (CEI) in order to help the city pay its debts. Cleveland soon became the first major American city to default since the Great Depression, but the mayor defended his decision by arguing that the sale would have given CEI a monopoly that would drive up electricity rates.

Kucinich persuaded voters in the following year's referendums to raise income taxes and to keep Muny city owned, but he wasn't so effective at advocating for himself. Cleveland mayors at the time were up for re-election every two years, and the incumbent lost his bid for a second term by a 56-44 margin to Lt. Gov. George Voinovich, a Republican who would go on to be elected governor and U.S. senator.

That wide defeat was far from the end of Kucinich's time in politics, though. After losing a close primary for secretary of state to future-Sen. Sherrod Brown in 1982, he rebounded by regaining a seat on the City Council the next year. He went on to get elected to the state Senate before winning a seat in the U.S. House in 1996 on the fifth such attempt of his career.

Kucinich used his perch in Congress to wage two presidential runs in 2004 and 2008; while neither came close to succeeding, the campaigns, as well as his vote against the Iraq War, helped Kucinich gain a small but vocal following with progressives nationally. He had problems at home in 2012, though, when redistricting placed him in the same seat as fellow Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur. After flirting with running for the House in other states, including Washington, Kucinich stuck it out in Ohio and lost the primary 56-40.

While Kucinich portrayed himself as a progressive hero during his time in D.C., he went on to use his subsequent job as a Fox commentator to defend none other than Donald Trump. He spent early 2017 praising Trump's inauguration speech (you know, the "American carnage" one), arguing that U.S. intelligence agencies forced Michael Flynn to resign as Trump's national security advisor, and agreeing with Sean Hannity that the "deep state" was out to get Trump. Kucinich also repeatedly met with and defended Syria's murderous dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Kucinich tried to make another return to office in 2018 when he competed in the Democratic primary for governor against establishment favorite Richard Cordray. During that campaign, Kucinich announced he was returning $20,000 in speaking fees from the pro-Assad Syria Solidarity Movement that he had previously failed to disclose on financial forms.

While Kucinich had praised that organization the prior week as a "civil rights advocacy group," he now insisted that he hadn't known what it really stood for; he also very belatedly denounced the Assad regime's "repressive practices." Cordray ended up winning the primary 62-23, but Kucinich narrowly carried Cleveland.

That brings us to 2021, where the 74-year-old onetime "Boy Mayor" is hoping to become his city's oldest leader. Kucinich used his campaign kickoff to focus on concerns like crime, police accountability, and poverty, but the fate of Cleveland's public utility will also likely be a big issue in his comeback campaign.

In the months before his launch, Kucinich released a memoir focused on his successful battle to prevent Muny Light, which is now known as Cleveland Public Power, from being privatized in the late 1970s. The future of the utility, which is still owned by the city, is likely to come up on the campaign trail: Last year, Kucinich argued that the city is doing a poor job overseeing Cleveland Public Power, declaring, "When money is being lost, or the rates keep going up, that means something is wrong."

Cleveland.com also notes that his longtime antagonist CEI, which remains Cleveland Public Power's main competitor, could also be a factor in this race. CEI's parent company, FirstEnergy, is currently at the center of a high-profile scandal over an alleged $60 million bribery scheme involving then-state House Speaker Larry Householder.

Kucinich will face several other high-profile contenders in the September nonpartisan primary. The only other major white candidate in this majority-Black city is City Council President Kevin Kelley, who also hails from the West Side: Last month, Cleveland.com's Seth Richardson suggested that the two would end up "going after each other's base of supporters," which could prevent either of them from advancing to the general election.

The field also includes four serious Black contenders: Councilman Basheer Jones; former Councilman Zack Reed, who lost to Jackson in 2017; state Sen. Sandra Williams; and nonprofit executive Justin Bibb. The filing deadline is Wednesday, so it would be a surprise if another notable contender runs at this point.

Senate

PA-Sen, PA-04: Democratic Rep. Madeleine Dean announced on Tuesday that she would not run for Pennsylvania's open Senate seat next year and will instead seek re-election. Dean's name came up as a possible contender earlier this year after she served as one of the House managers for Donald Trump's second impeachment trial, but she never spoke about her interest publicly.

Governors

IA-Gov, IA-Sen: State Rep. Ras Smith kicked off a bid for Iowa's governorship on Tuesday, giving Democrats their first notable candidate in next year's race against Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. Smith, who at 33 is the youngest of the state's six Black lawmakers, has been a vocal advocate for racial justice and spearheaded a bill to bring greater accountability to the police that passed the legislature unanimously last year in the wake of George Floyd's murder.

Smith had also weighed a run for the Senate but always sounded more likely to seek state office, saying in April that "it's hard to see myself living anywhere where I can't throw my dog in the back of the truck, my shotgun and a box of shells and drive 20 minutes in any direction and do some pheasant hunting or some turkey hunting."

A number of other prominent Democrats are also still considering the governor's race, though, including Rep. Cindy Axne, 2018 secretary of state nominee Deidre DeJear, and state Auditor Rob Sand. Reynolds, meanwhile, hasn't officially kicked off her re-election campaign, but earlier this month she said she would "make a formal announcement later."

NM-Gov: Retired Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Greg Zanetti has launched a bid against Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, making him the second notable Republican in the race. Zanetti unsuccessfully sought his party's nod for lieutenant governor all the way back in 1994, then ran an abortive campaign for governor in 2009, dropping out after just a few months. He's also served as Bernalillo County GOP chair twice and, in his day job as an investment advisor, has regularly appeared on local radio to offer financial advice.

Already in the race for Republicans is Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Brock, though several other notable candidates are still considering, including state GOP chair (and former Rep.) Steve Pearce.

House

FL-13: Air Force veteran Anna Paulina Luna, who was the GOP's nominee for Florida's 13th Congressional District in 2020 and is running again this cycle, has received a temporary restraining order against a fellow candidate, Will Braddock, claiming that Braddock and two other potential rivals, Matt Tito and Amanda Makki, were conspiring to murder her to prevent her from winning next year's election. Braddock responded by saying, "This woman is off her rocker," Makki (who lost to Luna in last year's primary) called the claims "nonsense," and Tito said he was talking to a lawyer about pursuing a possible defamation suit. A hearing on whether to continue the restraining order is scheduled for June 22.

IA-01: Democratic state Sen. Liz Mathis says she's "seriously considering" a bid against freshman Republican Rep. Ashley Hinson in Iowa's 1st Congressional District and will make an announcement in "late July." Mathis first won office in a key special election in 2011, after Democrat Swati Dandekar accepted an appointment from Terry Branstad, the Republican governor at the time, that threatened Democrats' narrow 26-24 majority in the Senate. She's since won re-election twice, by double digits both times.

KWWL's Ron Steele also notes that, were Mathis to run, it could set up a race between two former TV news personalities. Mathis began her career as a news anchor alongside Steele at KWWL in 1980, then later worked at KCRG, both of which are in Cedar Rapids, before retiring from broadcasting in 2007. Hinson also worked at KCRG for a decade as a reporter prior to her election to the state House in 2017.

SC-07: Despite forming what he called an exploratory committee in January, state Rep. William Bailey announced this week that he would not challenge Rep. Tom Rice in next year's Republican primary and would instead seek re-election. Bailey explained his decision by saying that "we clearly have a number of strong conservatives that most likely will jump into the race and challenge Rice," who enraged Republicans when he voted to impeach Donald Trump in January.

Two notable candidates are in fact running, Horry County School Board chair Ken Richardson and former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride, while several others are still considering. South Carolina requires a runoff if no candidate takes a majority in the primary.

TX-06: Ted Cruz has endorsed conservative activist Susan Wright in the all-Republican special election runoff for Texas' 6th Congressional District that'll take place on July 27. Prior to the first round of voting on May 1, Cruz had attacked Wright's opponent, state Rep. Jake Ellzey, for his "financial support from never-Trumpers, openness to amnesty, and opposition to school choice."

Mayors

New York City, NY Mayor: Data for Progress has released a survey of next week's instant runoff Democratic primary that finds Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams leading attorney Maya Wiley 26-20, with 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang and former city Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia at 16% and 14%, respectively. That's a huge shift from two months ago, when DFP had Yang leading Adams 26-13.

DFP made it clear as it was releasing this latest poll that it hopes Wiley, who has picked up a number of endorsements from high-profile progressives in recent days, will stop the more moderate Adams. Data for Progress Political Director Marcela Mulholland released a statement saying, "In close second, Wiley has a window of opportunity to bring together a winning coalition ahead of next Tuesday — and block Eric Adams, a veritable Republican who's looking out for the NYPD and corporate interests instead of working New Yorkers, from becoming Mayor."  

The only other poll we've seen that was conducted in June was a Marist College survey that had Adams leading with a similar 24%, though it showed Garcia in second with 17%. Marist found Wiley a close third with 15% while Yang, who was the frontrunner in early polls, was in fourth with just 13%.

Yang is hoping to regain his footing, though, with a new spot that labels Adams "a conservative Republican." This commercial, just like a recent negative ad from Yang's allies at Future Forward PAC, does not mention any of the other mayoral candidates.

Prosecutors

Manhattan, NY District Attorney: Data for Progress has released a survey of next week's rarely-polled Democratic primary that shows two former prosecutors, Alvin Bragg and Tali Farhadian Weinstein, deadlocked at 26% apiece; a third ex-prosecutor, Lucy Lang, is a distant third with 8%.

DFP is using this data to explicitly argue that progressives "have an obligation to consolidate" behind Bragg, calling him "the only progressive positioned to beat Farhadian Weinstein." The winner of the primary—where only a plurality is necessary—should have no trouble prevailing in the general election to succeed retiring incumbent Cyrus Vance as head of what's arguably the most prominent local prosecutor's office in America.

All of the contenders except for Liz Crotty, a self-described centrist who takes just 5% in this poll, have pitched themselves as progressives who will bring much-needed changes to the post, though the three contenders who have never been prosecutors—attorney Tahanie Aboushi, public defender Eliza Orlins, and Assemblyman Dan Quart—have portrayed themselves as the most aggressive reformers. Bragg, Farhadian Weinstein, Lang, and yet another former prosecutor, Diana Florence, have all, in the words of the New York Times' Jonah Bromwich, "pitched themselves as occupying a middle ground, focused on less sweeping changes."

There are some notable differences, though, between Bragg and Farhadian Weinstein, who have been the top fundraisers in this contest. Ideologically, Bragg has generally staked out territory to the left of Farhadian Weinstein (who only registered as a Democrat in 2017), including on issues like the decriminalization of sex work and the imposition of long sentences.

And while Bragg, who previously worked as the chief deputy state attorney general, has bragged about suing Donald Trump "more than a hundred times," the Times reported earlier this month that Farhadian Weinstein met with Trump administration officials in 2017 about a potential judicial appointment. The paper, citing an unnamed source, writes that the discussion "became heated during a disagreement over constitutional law" and did not advance further.

Farhadian Weinstein's detractors have also taken issue with her connection to the financial industry. The Wall Street Journal reported that more than half of the candidate's fundraising from earlier this year "came from four dozen donors, many of whom work in the financial sector." Farhadian Weinstein, who is married to wealthy hedge fund manager Boaz Weinstein, also recently self-funded $8.2 million for her campaign, an amount that utterly dwarfs what everyone else has raised or spent combined.

Though Bragg doesn't have the resources of Farhadian Weinstein, he does have some important backers, including three of the city's most politically influential unions, as well as the endorsement of the Times, which often carries uncommon weight in local races.

As Bromwich has noted, every contender save Quart would achieve a historic first should they prevail. Six of the candidates would be the first woman to win this office, while Aboushi would additionally be the first Muslim or Arab American to hold the post. Bragg, meanwhile, would be Manhattan's first Black district attorney.

Other Races

New York City, NY Comptroller: Data for Progress has also released a poll of next week's Democratic primary for city comptroller, a post that has plenty of influence over the nation's largest city, that finds City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and City Councilman Brad Lander in a 23-23 tie; Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a former CNBC anchor who badly lost a challenge from the right to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in last year's primary, is in third with 10%.

DFP, which did not mention a rooting interest for any of the candidates, did not try to simulate the instant runoff process, though it did find that more voters preferred Johnson to Lander as their second or third choice. The winner will be the heavy favorite to hold an office that Democrats have controlled since 1946.

Johnson, who would be the first gay person elected citywide, was universally expected to run for mayor until he announced last September that he'd skip the contest in order to focus on his mental health. He ended up launching his campaign for comptroller in March, though, saying, "Where I was in September is not where I am today," and he's since earned endorsements from all of the city's major unions, as well as Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Richie Torres. Johnson, who entered the race with money he'd stockpiled for his planned mayoral bid, has also enjoyed a small fundraising advantage over Lander.

Lander, meanwhile, has the backing of several high-profile progressives, including AOC, fellow Rep. Jamaal Bowman, and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, as well as the Working Families Party. Lander enjoys the backing of longtime Reps. Jerry Nadler and Nydia Velazquez, and the New York Times is also in his corner.

In addition to Johnson, Lander, and Caruso-Cabrera, the field includes state Sen. Brian Benjamin; Marine veteran Zach Iscol; state Sen. Kevin Parker; financial advisor Reshma Patel; and Assemblyman David Weprin, who unsuccessfully ran to succeed the disgraced Anthony Weiner in the 2011 special election for what was numbered the 9th Congressional District at the time. All of these contenders have qualified for at least $1 million in public financing, though they've each fallen well short of Johnson and Lander.

The comptroller's job is an influential post, though its duties are often not well understood. Among other things, the office is responsible for reviewing contracts, auditing and overseeing city agencies, and "[e]nsuring transparency and accountability in setting prevailing wage and vigorously enforcing prevailing wage and living wage laws." The comptroller is also one of only a trio of citywide elected offices: The other is public advocate, where Democratic incumbent Jumaane Williams doesn't face any serious opposition for re-election this year.

What the comptroller's post hasn't been, though, is a good springboard to the mayor's office. The last person to successfully make the jump was Democrat Abe Beame, who was elected mayor in 1973 on his second try and lost renomination four years later. Since then four other comptrollers have unsuccessfully campaigned for the city's top job, and it looks like that streak will continue this year: Comptroller Scott Stringer once looked like a formidable candidate for mayor, but he lost several major endorsements after two women accused him of sexual harassment.

Morning Digest: Our new Minnesota data shows a divergent election for Biden and Senate Democrats

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

Leading Off

Pres-by-LD: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to present new data from Minnesota breaking down the 2020 presidential results for every district in the state House and Senate—which, unusually, are held by opposite parties.

Democrats went into last year's election hoping to net the two seats they'd need to retake the upper chamber after four years in the minority, but despite winning more Senate votes statewide, Team Blue only flipped a single seat. More painfully still, Joe Biden carried 37 of the Senate's 67 seats, a comfortable majority similar in proportion to his share of the statewide vote, which he won 53-45.

Compounding the Democrats' poor showing, two of the party's sitting senators, Tom Bakk and David Tomassoni, announced weeks after the election that they would become independents, which earned the duo committee chairmanships from the GOP majority. This state of affairs has given Republicans and their new allies a 36-31 edge in the chamber.

Altogether, six Republicans sit in Biden seats. The bluest of this bunch is SD-26 in the Rochester area in the southern part of the state, where GOP state Sen. Carla Nelson hung on by a 51-49 maring even as Biden was carrying her constituency 54-44. By contrast, Kent Eken is the one Democratic member of the Senate who represents Trump turf: Eken won SD-04 in the northwest part of the state 55-45 while Trump took it 50-48. Tomassoni, for his part, holds a Trump seat, while Bakk's district went for Biden.

Campaign Action

It's also possible that, but for the presence of a third-party candidate on the ballot in the 27th District in the southern part of the state, Democrats would have won back the Senate. Veteran Democratic Sen. Dan Sparks lost to Republican Gene Dornink 49-44, but Tyler Becvar of the Legal Marijuana Now Party captured 7% of the vote, greater than the margin between the two leaders.

While the cannabis legalization movement is generally associated with the political left, many candidates who ostensibly ran under a pro-weed banner in Minnesota last year received Republican help or espoused right-wing views—including Becvar. But Sparks' seat would have been a very difficult hold regardless: Trump won it 55-43, so it's very possible some of those votes for Becvar would have gone to Dornink instead.

Democrats were able to maintain their majority in the Minnesota House, but their edge slipped from 75-59 to 70-64. Biden took 72 districts to Trump's 62, and though crossover voting benefited Republicans overall, the GOP's advantage wasn't as large as it was in the Senate on a proportional basis: Six House Republicans won Biden seats, while four Democrats took Trump districts.

The Democrat with the reddest turf is Paul Marquart, who earned his 10th term 53-47 even as Trump was romping to a 58-39 victory in his HD-04B. (In Minnesota, two state House districts are nested within one Senate district, and Marquart represents half of Eken's aforementioned 4th Senate District.) Marquart's Republican counterpart is Keith Franke, who had lost re-election in 2018 but reclaimed HD-54A by a 51-48 margin despite Biden's 54-43 victory in his suburban Twin Cities constituency.

Minnesota is one of just two states where the same party doesn't hold both houses of the legislature; the other is Alaska, where Republicans have nominal majorities in each chamber but the House is run by a coalition of Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

This state of affairs makes it extremely unlikely that the Minnesota legislature and Democratic Gov. Tim Walz will agree on new congressional and legislative maps. This deadlock would mean that the courts would take over redistricting, which is exactly what happened a decade ago—and each of the last several decades.

Once new maps are implemented, each party will immediately have another chance to try to win both chambers. The entire House is on the ballot every two years, while the Senate is up in years ending in 0, 2, and 6, meaning that senators who won election in 2020 are currently serving two-year terms but will run for four-year terms next year. (This system, known as "2-4-4," is used in eight states.)

P.S. You can find all of our district-level data at this bookmarkable permalink.

Senate

GA-Sen: Rep. Buddy Carter appears to have gotten his hands on a cellphone number that his fellow Republicans have had a hard time getting ahold of: The southwest Georgia congressman says he's had "a number of conversations" with former NFL star Herschel Walker, who's been encouraged by Donald Trump to run for Senate but hasn't been in communication with top GOP operatives about his intentions.

Carter, however, says that Walker, who lives in Texas, told him that he'll make some sort of decision "around the first of the summer." (Since "summer" isn't a month, we'll mark that down as June 20, the summer solstice.) Like all Peach State Republicans, Carter is eagerly awaiting a final announcement from Walker, who's largely frozen the Senate field. Carter himself says he's already prepped a campaign team for his own Senate bid but that he's "waiting on Herschel" before entering the race.

PA-Sen: Republican Reps. Guy Reschenthaler and Mike Kelly have published a joint op-ed endorsing Army veteran Sean Parnell in his bid for the Senate, making them the first members of Congress from Pennsylvania to take sides in next year's GOP primary.

Governors

IL-Gov: Republican state Sen. Jason Barickman says he's considering a bid against Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker next year and says a decision will come "later this summer" after the conclusion of the current legislative session. Barickman also suggested that the outcome of redistricting, which Democrats will control in Illinois, could affect his thinking.

MI-Gov: A new poll from Target Insyght for MIRS News finds Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer up 48-42 on outgoing Detroit police Chief James Craig, who is considering seeking the Republican nomination. The same survey (which is our first of the race) also finds Whitmer beating Army veteran John James by a wider 49-39 margin. James was the GOP's Senate nominee in both 2018 and 2020, though he hasn't yet publicly expressed any interest in a possible gubernatorial bid.

NY-Gov: Rep. Elise Stefanik easily won election as House GOP conference chair on Friday to replace the ousted Liz Cheney, defeating Texas Rep. Chip Roy 134-46 in a secret ballot. If Stefanik sticks to her word, we can cross her off the list of potential Republican gubernatorial candidates for next year since she said she wouldn't run for governor if she won the race for chair.

VA-Gov: Former Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman, who'd been threatening to run for governor as an independent, says he's less likely to do so now that the GOP has tapped finance executive Glenn Youngkin as its nominee. "If Amanda Chase or Pete Snyder won," he told CBS's Aaron Navarro, "I would have more heavily considered it." Riggleman has until the June 8 filing deadline for independents to decide.

House

FL-13: Democratic state Rep. Michele Rayner, who'd reportedly been considering a bid for Florida's open 13th District, now confirms that she is in fact looking at the race. Another Democrat, term-limited St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, has also made it clear that he's weighing a campaign; his earlier comments had us slotting him into the "hasn't ruled it out" category, which we regard as a notch below on the level-of-interest scale.

GA-10: State Rep. Timothy Barr has entered the race for Georgia's open 10th Congressional District, making him the second notable Republican to join after former Rep. Paul Broun.

Mayors

Atlanta, GA Mayor: Two more members of the Atlanta City Council, Andre Dickens and Antonio Brown, have announced that they're running in the November nonpartisan primary to succeed retiring incumbent Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Dickens is the co-founder of City Living Home Furnishings, which the Atlanta Journal-Constitution describes as "a multi-million dollar retail business with two locations." Dickens sold the business two years before he was elected to the City Council in 2013 by unseating an incumbent.

Brown, for his part, has been a prominent progressive critic of Bottoms since he was elected in a 2019 special election, an accomplishment that made him the body's first Black LGBTQ member. Brown, though, has been under federal indictment since July on fraud charges, allegations he denies.

Two other contenders, City Council President Felicia Moore and attorney Sharon Gay, have been running since before Bottoms announced her departure earlier this month, and a big name is publicly expressing interest for the first time. Former Mayor Kasim Reed recently told Channel 2's Dave Huddleston that he is thinking about running for his old job again, though political insiders have been chattering about a potential comeback for a while.

Reed had no trouble winning re-election the last time he was on the ballot in 2013, but a corruption investigation that resulted in indictments for six members of his staff generated plenty of bad headlines during the end of his tenure. (Term limits prohibited Reed from seeking a third consecutive term in 2017, but he's free to run again now that he's not the incumbent.) Huddleston asked Reed whether he was under investigation, to which the former mayor replied, "The Justice Department under [former Attorney General] Bill Barr has looked into every aspect of my life for more than three years and took no action."

Finally, former Rep. Kwanza Hall confirmed his interest on Thursday and said he would "make my decision soon." Hall, who was a city councilman at the time, took seventh place in the last mayoral contest, but he went on to win a 2020 all-Democratic runoff for the final month of the late Rep. John Lewis' term in the 116th Congress.

New York City, NY Mayor: The Democratic firm Change Research's new survey of the June 22 Democratic primary finds Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams leading 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang 19-16, with city Comptroller Scott Stringer at 9%. After the poll simulates the instant runoff process, Adams is left with a 53-47 edge over Yang. Change tells us that, while this was conducted as part of a larger survey for a client, the pollster paid for the horserace portion itself.

St. Petersburg, FL Mayor: St. Pete Polls' new survey of the August nonpartisan primary for Florida Politics finds City Councilwoman Darden Rice and former Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch deadlocked 16-16, with former state Rep. Wengay Newton at 12%. All three leading contenders are Democrats, though Newton worked with Republicans on some issues in the legislature and backed former GOP Mayor Rick Baker's unsuccessful 2017 comeback campaign.

St. Pete Polls also finds Welch outpacing Rice 31-24 in a hypothetical November general.

Prosecutors

Manhattan, NY District Attorney: Former State Chief Deputy Attorney General Alvin Bragg has earned the backing of the United Federation of Teachers, which is one of the major unions in New York City politics, in the eight-way June 22 Democratic primary. Bragg already had the support of two other influential labor groups: the healthcare workers union 1199 SEIU and 32BJ, which represents building and airport employees.

Redistricting

Redistricting: Our friends at the Princeton Gerrymandering Project are hosting a new contest that will be of interest to many Digest readers:

The Princeton Gerrymandering Project at the Electoral Innovation Lab is proud to announce the launch of its Great American Map Off, a contest challenging the public to draw redistricting plans for seven crucial states—Wisconsin, Colorado, Ohio, Illinois, Florida, North Carolina, and New York—in anticipation of the 2021 redistricting cycle. Maps will be judged in the contest's four unique categories: partisan fairness, stealth gerrymander, competitiveness, and communities of interest. Participants can enter any or all categories, which are fully detailed within the contest rules on the group's website. The site also includes links for mapping tools and resources, including Representable, Dave's Redistricting, and All About Redistricting. The competition will formally open on May 15, 2021. All competitors should submit their prospective maps by the deadline of 11:59 PM ET on June 15, 2021. Prizes will be awarded.

Full details here. Let us know if you submit!

Morning Digest: Alaska’s bipartisan state House coalition is imperiled following GOP primary results

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

AK State House: A coalition of 15 Democrats, two independents, and five Republicans (known as the House Majority Caucus) currently run Alaska’s 40-person House of Representatives, but at least one of these renegade Republicans lost renomination on Tuesday while two others are in trouble. We won’t have complete results for a while, though, because the Alaska Division of Elections says it won’t “even start counting absentee ballots until Aug. 25.” Absentee ballots make up a large portion of the vote in Alaska, so several races could shift quite a bit when all is said and done.

Campaign Action

One Republican member of the coalition has definitely lost after being targeted by the Republican State Leadership Committee, which is the national GOP’s legislative campaign committee, and a second incumbent is badly trailing. The Associated Press has called the primary in House District 28 in Anchorage for James Kaufman, who unseated state Rep. Jennifer Johnston 73-27. This seat backed Trump 49-43, and Democrats are fielding Adam Lees.

A second GOP Majority Caucus member, state Rep. Chuck Kopp, is trailing challenger Thomas McKay 67-33 with 1,800 votes in, though the AP has not yet made a call here. HD-24, which is also in Anchorage, went for Trump by a 52-40 margin; the Democratic nominee is Sue Levi, who lost to Kopp 59-41 in 2016 and was defeated 60-39 two years later.

A third Republican member of the bipartisan alliance, state Rep. Steve Thompson, currently has a 51-49 edge over primary challenger Dave Selle with 700 votes tallied in another contest that the AP has not called. HD-02, which is located in Fairbanks, went for Trump 60-30, and the Democrats are running Jeremiah Youmans. The final two GOP coalition members, Bart Lebon and Louise Stutes, were renominated without any opposition.

National and state Republicans in the mainstream GOP caucus (the House Minority Caucus) also appear to have scored some other wins Tuesday that will make it easier for them to control the state House next year.

A sixth Republican, Gary Knopp, was part of the coalition, but he was killed last month in a mid-air collision. Knopp, who remained on the ballot, posthumously took third place with 14%; the winner with 61% of the vote is Ron Gillham, who earned the endorsement of the local GOP back in June. (If Knopp had won, Republicans would have been able to petition to choose a replacement nominee.) HD-30, which is located in Kenai is the south-central part of the state, backed Trump 71-21.

Republicans also appear to have denied renomination to state Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, who isn’t part of any alliance. The AP hasn’t called this contest yet, but with 500 votes in, challenger David Nelson leads 79-21.

LeDoux was originally a member of the coalition, but she was stripped of her committee assignments in March of 2019 after she voted against the chamber’s leaders on the budget; LeDoux didn’t rejoin the regular GOP caucus afterwards, though. In March, LeDoux was charged with voter misconduct. HD-15, which is in Anchorage, backed Trump 52-38, and the Democratic primary has not yet been called.

Finally, national Republicans may have fallen just short in toppling state Rep. David Eastman, who is part of the House Minority Caucus but has been a pain for its leaders, though the contest has not yet been called. With 2,200 votes in, Eastman leads primary foe Jesse Sumner 52-48. HD-10, which is based in Sarah Palin’s old Wasilla stomping grounds, favored Trump 71-21, so it’s likely out of reach for Democrat Monica Stein-Olson no matter how this primary ends.

While Eastman never joined the coalition, his intra-party critics remember how, after the 2018 election, he said he wouldn’t back a GOP speaker without some preconditions. Eastman was supposed to be one of the 21 Republicans who was to form the new majority, and his enemies blame him for causing the deadlock that eventually led to the bipartisan alliance. Since then, Eastman has spoken against a number of his party’s priorities, and House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt announced in March that he was on “probation.”

Senate

GA-Sen-B: Pastor Raphael Warnock, who is supported by national Democrats, is launching his debut TV ad with a $400,000 buy ahead of the all-party first round in November. The minute-long spot starts off with Warnock speaking to the camera from the housing project where he grew up in Savannah. Warnock highlights his background coming from a large family that taught him the value of hard work, followed by a series of news clips touting his role as the lead pastor of the prominent Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, a position that Martin Luther King Jr. once held. Warnock emphasizes his efforts fighting for affordable health care and the right to vote.

Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Doug Collins is airing a new TV ad where he focuses on how he was supposedly "Trump's preferred pick" for the appointment to this seat, using a clip of Trump praising the congressman.

Polls:

  • AZ-Sen: OnMessage (R) for Heritage Action: Mark Kelly (D): 48, Martha McSally (R-inc): 48 (51-48 Trump)
  • GA-Sen-A: Garin-Hart-Yang (D) for Jon Ossoff: Jon Ossoff (D): 48, David Perdue (R-inc): 46 (July: 45-44 Ossoff)

OnMessage's survey for the conservative Heritage Action group is one of the very few polls we've seen all year that hasn't shown McSally trailing.

House

IA-01: Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer's newest commercial focuses on the derecho storm that hit Iowa earlier this month. Finkenauer, speaking from her backyard, talks about how neighbors have been helping each other in the aftermath, and she pledges not to "stop until Iowans get the resources we need."

Republican Ashley Hinson, meanwhile, is going in a more partisan direction in her newest spot. After talking about her previous career as a local TV newscaster, Hinson rattles off some of Donald Trump's favorite talking points about "socialists trying to abolish the police, radicals trying to tear down our country."

IN-05: The far-right Club for Growth's first general election ad accuses Democrat Christina Hale of voting for higher taxes before the narrator declares, "And, like Nancy Pelosi, Hale backs the kind of public option plan that would radically expand the government's role in healthcare."

MA-01: Democratic Majority for Israel has launched a $100,000 TV buy against Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse ahead of the Sept. 1 Democratic primary. We do not yet have a copy of the commercial.

MA-04: Data for Progress has released an in-house survey of the crowded Sept. 1 Democratic primary, and it finds a tight contest with no obvious frontrunner.

Newton City Councilor Jake Auchincloss: 14

Newton City Councilor Becky Walker Grossman: 13

Former Alliance for Business Leadership head Jesse Mermell: 13

Former Wall Street regulator Ihssane Leckey: 9

Public health expert Natalia Linos: 9

City Year co-founder Alan Khazei: 7

Attorney Ben Sigel: 3

Businessman Chris Zannetos: 1

A 29% plurality are undecided, while 1% goes to former assistant state attorney general Dave Cavell, who dropped out last week and endorsed Mermell.

The only other recent numbers we've seen was an early August survey for Leckey from Frederick Polls. That poll showed Grossman leading Auchincloss 19-16, with Leckey and Mermell at 11% and 10%, respectively.

NJ-07: Republican Tom Kean uses his first TV commercial to portray himself as a bipartisan legislator.

OH-10: Longtime Rep. Mike Turner seems to be taking Democrat Desiree Tims seriously, since he just launched a commercial against her that highlights a massive scandal … involving Turner's fellow Ohio Republicans.

As the screen shows a newspaper headline about a $60 million bribery scheme, the narrator begins, "It's disgraceful. Lobbyists have bought seats in the Ohio State House." Last month, then-state House Speaker Larry Householder was arrested on federal corruption charges, and prosecutors accused the nuclear power company FirstEnergy of illegally funneling $61 million to a group controlled by Householder and his allies in order to pass and preserve a 2019 law that Leah Stokes described in Vox as "widely recognized as the worst energy policy in the country."

And what does this have to do with Tims? Nothing, but that’s not stopping Turner from attempting to connect her to the scandal anyway. After briefly talking about the scandal involving lobbyists and state Republicans, his narrator awkwardly transitions to attacking Timms by continuing, “Now Washington lobbyist Desiree Tims has moved back to Ohio and is trying to buy a seat in Congress" by accepting out-of-state contributions. Turner himself, though, does have a link to FirstEnergy: According to the Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay, the congressman has taken $20,000 in campaign contributions from the company during his career.

OK-05: The Club for Growth is running a new commercial against state Sen. Stephanie Bice ahead of next week's Republican primary runoff that begins with someone dancing while wearing a unicorn mask. The narrator responds, "Ok, that's just weird! Like when Stephanie Bice voted for the biggest tax increase in state history, but claims to care about taxpayers."

Our grooving half-unicorn friend (a reverse centaur, but a unicorn?) pops up again, and the narrator responds, "Really, a bit odd. Like how Bice denounced Trump in 2016, but now claims she'll stand with him." This process repeats one more time, with the ad volunteering the dancer is "strange," just like "Bice voting to weaken criminal penalties on looting, but claims she's a conservative." Bice faces businesswoman Terry Neese in next week's contest for the right to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn.

VA-02: After former Republican Rep. Scott Taylor sent a cease-and-desist letter to Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria demanding that she stop making statements claiming that he is under investigation for ballot access fraud, the Roanoke prosecutor John Beamer's office announced that an investigation is still ongoing, stating, "The entire campaign is under investigation." Taylor's staff was exposed during his unsuccessful 2018 re-election campaign for forging signatures on behalf of Democrat-turned-independent Shaun Brown (who was booted off the ballot by a judge), and Democrats ran ads slamming Taylor's campaign for its illegal scheming.

The story surfaced again in March when a former Taylor staffer pleaded guilty for her part in the scheme, and Beamer's office now says that more indictments are possible. Taylor himself has consistently denied any knowledge of the scheme, but his staff had previously claimed the congressman was indeed aware of their plans.

WA-10: Democratic state Rep. Kristine Reeves, who finished in third place with 13% in this month's top-two primary, has endorsed former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland over state Rep. Beth Doglio in the all-Democratic November general election.

Primary Result Recaps

FL-03: Kat Cammack defeated 2018 candidate Judson Sapp 25-20 in the Republican primary to succeed her old boss, retiring Rep. Ted Yoho, in this 56-40 Trump seat in north-central Florida.

Cammack served as Yoho's campaign manager during his four bids for office, including his 2012 upset win against incumbent Cliff Stearns and his 2018 contest against Sapp, but Yoho was hardly in her corner. In a weird twist, Yoho, who did not endorse anyone, confirmed in June that he'd "demoted" Cammack seven years ago "from Chief of Staff in my Washington, DC office to Deputy Chief of staff and reassigned to the district in Florida for reasons not to be disclosed."

Yoho concluded, "She continued to work for our office in a satisfactory manner until she decided to run for Congress herself. No further comments are warranted." No more comments came, and Cammack is now poised to win the seat of the man who demoted her. Daily Kos Elections rates this as Safe Republican.

FL-05: Democratic Rep. Al Lawson took just 56% of the vote in the primary against two unheralded opponents in this safely blue North Florida seat, which was not a strong performance for an incumbent. Chester Albert, whose old anti-LGBTQ writings surfaced weeks before the primary, was far behind with 28%. While Lawson didn't come close to losing, though, Tuesday's results indicate that he could be in trouble in the future against a stronger intra-party foe, especially with redistricting just around the corner.

FL-08: Republican Rep. Bill Posey won renomination 62-38 against Scott Caine, a Navy veteran who ran some anti-Posey TV ads in the final weeks of the contest for this safely red seat along Florida's Space Coast.

FL-13: Air Force veteran Anna Paulina Luna defeated attorney Amanda Makki, who had the backing of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, 36-28 in the GOP primary to take on Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist. While both candidates campaigned as ardent Trump allies, Luna worked especially hard to foster a far-right image. Luna, who compared Hillary Clinton to "herpes," also enjoyed the support of Rep. Matt Gaetz, a rabid Trump fan who represents the 1st District well to the northwest.

This St. Petersburg seat went from 55-44 Obama to 50-46 Clinton, but neither party has been acting like Crist is in much danger. Daily Kos Elections rates this contest as Likely Democratic.

FL-18: Navy veteran Pam Keith, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nod last cycle, defeated former state deputy solicitor general Oz Vazquez 80-20 in the primary to face Republican Rep. Brian Mast.

This seat, which includes the Palm Beach area and the Treasure Coast to the north, moved from 51-48 Romney to 53-44 Trump, and Mast doesn't look vulnerable. The incumbent won re-election 54-46 against a well-funded opponent, and he had a hefty $1.8 million on-hand in late July. Daily Kos Elections rates this as Safe Republican, though things could get interesting if Trump truly wrecks his party down the ballot.

FL-19: State Rep. Byron Donalds appears to have claimed the GOP nomination for this safely red seat in the Cape Coral and Fort Myers area after a very tight expensive battle. The Associated Press has not called the contest as of Wednesday afternoon, but second place candidate House Majority Leader Dan Eagle, who trails 23-22 with 104,000 ballots counted, has conceded to Donalds. Two self-funders, businessman Casey Askar and urologist William Figlesthaler, finished just behind with 20% and 18%, respectively.

Askar and Figlesthaler decisively outspent the rest of the field, while Eagle had the support of Sen. Marco Rubio. Donalds, though, benefited from millions in spending from the anti-tax Club for Growth and like-minded groups. Donalds would be the second Black Republican to represent Florida in Congress since Reconstruction; the first was Allen West, who is now the chair of the Texas Republican Party.

Donalds ran here back in 2012 and took fifth place with 14% in what turned out to be the first of four open seat contests during the decade. The winner was Trey Radel, who was elected in the fall but arrested the next year by an undercover officer in D.C. after he attempted to buy cocaine, and he resigned months later under pressure from party leaders. Radel was succeeded in a 2014 special by Curt Clawson, who retired in 2016 and was replaced by Francis Rooney, who announced last year that he would not seek a third term.

FL State House: Two terrible Democratic state House members representing safely blue seats were ousted Tuesday by far more progressive opponents.

In Jacksonville’s HD-14, community organizer Angie Nixon defeated incumbent Kim Daniels by a 60-40 margin. Daniels, who has faced a number of serious questions about her ethics, defied her party this year by co-sponsoring a bill requiring parental consent for abortions, and an official with Equality Florida dubbed her “probably the most anti-LGBTQ Democrat in Tallahassee.”

Daniels also made a name for herself as a Trump loyalist, and in 2018, she delivered a prayer giving thanks to Donald Trump that also included attacks on witches. Daniels had the backing of charter school interests and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, while the local chamber and state AFL-CIO were for Nixon.

Meanwhile, in Palm Beach County’s HD-88, Lake Worth Beach Commissioner Omari Hardy beat state Rep. Al Jacquet 43-26. Jacquet has a long history of homophobia, and he used an anti-LGBTQ slur against Hardy during the campaign; Hardy responded, “While I am not gay, I was raised in a same-sex household by my two mothers, and I am offended for them and for the broader LGBTQ community here in Palm Beach County, where I serve.”

Jacquet said later, “I apologize for my words that have offended some of my colleagues.” That non-apology didn’t satisfy anyone, and Jacquet soon stepped down from his post as the top Democrat on the Rules Committee.

Broward County, FL State Attorney: Former prosecutor Harold Pryor won the eight-way Democratic primary to succeed incumbent Mike Satz, who is retiring after an astounding 44 years in office. Pryor, who would be the first African American to hold this office, defeated defense attorney Joe Kimok 21-20.

Pryor is the heavy favorite in the fall in this 66-31 Clinton county. However, Republicans do have a notable candidate in Gregg Rossman, who has prosecuted a number of high-profile murders; another local prosecutor, Sheila Alu, is also competing as an independent.

Miami-Dade County, FL Mayor: Two county commissioners, Republican Steve Bovo and Democrat Daniella Levine Cava, will face off in November's nonpartisan general election to succeed termed-out incumbent Carlos Gimenez, who is the GOP nominee for Congress against Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. Bovo took first place with 29.3%, while Levine Cava beat former Democratic Mayor Alex Penelas 28.8-24.5 for the second general election spot.

The following day, Levine Cava released an internal poll from Change Research taken in early August that showed her leading Bovo 39-28. However, while Miami-Dade County is solidly blue in presidential contests, a Bovo win is far from out of the question. Republicans often do very well in this area downballot, and it's hardly a certainty that supporters of Penelas, whom Al Gore dubbed "the single most treacherous and dishonest person I dealt with" due to his actions during the 2000 campaign, will overwhelmingly break for Levine Cava.

Miami-Dade County, FL State Attorney: Incumbent Katherine Fernández Rundle, who has been in office for 27 years, defeated progressive opponent Melba Pearson 61-39 in the Democratic primary. No other candidates filed for the general election, so Fernández Rundle's victory gives her another term by default.

Orange/Osceola Counties, FL State Attorney : Former defense attorney Monique Worrell, who campaigned as the most progressive candidate in the four-person Democratic primary, decisively won the nomination to succeed retiring incumbent Aramis Ayala as state attorney for the Ninth Circuit, which covers both Orlando's Orange County and neighboring Osceola County. Worrell, who had Ayala's endorsement and benefited from heavy spending by a group close to billionaire philanthropist George Soros, beat former judge Belvin Perry 43-31.

No Republicans are running in the November election, and Worrell will be the heavy favorite to defeat independent Jose Torroella.

WY-Sen: Former Rep. Cynthia Lummis, to no one's surprise, beat Converse County Commissioner Robert Short 60-13 in the Republican primary to succeed retiring Rep. Mike Enzi. Wyoming was Donald Trump's single best state in 2016, and Lummis should have no trouble in the fall in a contest Daily Kos Elections rates as Safe Republican.

Grab Bag

Deaths: It may be hard for younger people to believe, but for much of the second half of the 20th century, the states of the Pacific Northwest routinely elected center-right Republicans to higher office. One of the last remaining big names from that tradition died on Wednesday at the age of 92: Washington's former Sen. Slade Gorton.

Gorton spent nearly 40 years in elective office, getting his start representing a north Seattle state House seat in the 1960s. Gorton then was elected in 1968 to his first of three terms as state attorney general, where he engaged in a long fight with the state's Native American tribes over fishing treaty rights.

Gorton went on have two separate tenures in the U.S. Senate. He was first elected in 1980 with some help from Ronald Reagan's coattails in a 54-46 upset victory against local institution Warren Magnuson, a Democrat who served in the chamber since 1944. Like a number of Senate Republicans elected in 1980, though, he found himself bounced out in the 1986 midterm, losing to former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Brock Adams, who had previously been a Democratic congressman, 51-49.

Gorton, however, quickly won the state's other Senate seat in 1988, prevailing 51-49 against Democratic Rep. Mike Lowry in the contest to succeed retiring Republican incumbent Dan Evans. (Lowry would win his single term as governor four years later.) Gorton was re-elected in 1994 fairly easily against the backdrop of a good Republican year over then-King County Councilor Ron Sims, who would later become the executive of Washington's largest county.

Gorton's political career, though, didn’t survive the state's gradual move toward the Democrats in 2000. Gorton ended up being unseated by former Rep. Maria Cantwell in an extremely close race, losing by only 2,200 votes after an automatic recount.

Gorton was a largely party-line vote in the Senate though with occasional deviations, of which one of the most notable was his decision to vote against the perjury charge in Bill Clinton's impeachment (though he did vote to convict on the obstruction of justice charge). One of Gorton's notable post-Senate achievements will survive him for a few more years: He was the chief Republican member of Washington's redistricting commission in 2011, which is generally regarded as having produced mildly Republican-favorable maps.

Incidentally, thanks to the longevity of Cantwell and fellow Democratic Sen. Patty Murray (and the even greater longevity of Magnuson and Henry Jackson before them), Gorton's passing means that Washington is in the unusual position of having only one living ex-senator: Dan Evans, still going at 94.

Election Changes

Please bookmark our litigation tracker for a complete summary of the latest developments in every lawsuit regarding changes to elections and voting procedures as a result of the coronavirus.

Delaware: Republicans have filed a lawsuit in state court seeking to overturn a new law passed by Democratic lawmakers earlier this year that loosened Delaware's excuse requirement to enable everyone to vote by mail this November due to the pandemic. The law also directed officials to mail an application for an absentee mail ballot to all voters in the Sept. 15 downballot primary and November general election.

Louisiana: Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards says he won't sign a new election plan proposed by Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin that would keep in place the state's requirement that voters under age 65 present a specific excuse to request an absentee ballot and would only expand eligibility to those who have documentation that they have tested positive for COVID-19 (note that we previously said incorrectly that Edwards did not have the power to veto this plan). The latest GOP plan is more limited than the exceptions that Ardoin backed in the state's July primary, and the Republican legislature is set to take up the plan this week.

New Jersey: The Trump campaign and national and state GOP organizations have filed a federal lawsuit aiming to overturn Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy's recent executive order adopting a full vote-by-mail system for November, where every voter will be mailed a ballot directly and in-person voting will still be available on a limited basis of at least one location in each of the state's 565 municipalities.

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: After abrupt postponement of March’s election, Ohio’s primary is finally here

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

Primary Night: The Buckeye stops here: Ohio goes to the polls Tuesday for its presidential and downballot primaries … finally. The election was originally scheduled for March 17, but GOP Gov. Mike DeWine, citing the coronavirus pandemic, haphazardly canceled it hours before it was to begin. DeWine eventually signed a bill into law that moved the election to April 28 and all but eliminated in-person voting.

We've put together our preview of the downballot contests to watch. The biggest race will be the Democratic contest to take on GOP Rep. Steve Chabot in the 1st Congressional District, a Cincinnati-area seat that Donald Trump carried 51-45. We'll also be watching the safely blue 3rd District in Columbus, where Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty faces a challenge from former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau advisor Morgan Harper.

Our live coverage will begin at 7:30 PM ET at Daily Kos Elections. You can also follow us on Twitter for blow-by-blow updates. And you'll want to bookmark our primary calendar, which includes the dates of the presidential and downballot primaries in all 50 states, as well as our separate calendar tracking key contests further down the ballot taking place nationwide this year.

Election Changes

Please bookmark our statewide 2020 primary calendar and our calendar of key downballot races, both of which we're updating continually as changes are finalized.

Connecticut: Democratic Secretary of State Denise Merrill says she's considering sending absentee ballot applications to all registered Democrats and Republicans ahead of Connecticut's Aug. 11 primaries (the state only allows party members to vote in primaries). Merrill had previously planned to send ballot applications to voters for the state's presidential primary, but that election was postponed from June 2 to Aug. 11 and consolidated with Connecticut's downballot primaries.

Because the state currently requires voters to present an excuse to request an absentee ballot, Merrill has encouraged Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont to issue an executive order allowing all voters to cite the coronavirus pandemic as an acceptable excuse. On Friday, Lamont refused to say whether he would sign such an order, saying only, "We’re working on that right now as we speak." Three weeks ago, Lamont's top counsel said the governor's office was researching whether the excuse requirement could be relaxed.

Missouri: Republican State House Speaker Elijah Haahr says he supports relaxing Missouri's excuse requirement to vote absentee and says that the legislature will hold a hearing on election-related issues sometime during its session over the next three weeks. Many county clerks have advocated for waiving the requirement, but Republican Gov. Mike Parson has opposed the idea. A lawsuit seeking to allow voters to cite the coronavirus pandemic as a valid excuse is pending in state court.

New Jersey: Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy says he still has not made a decision about whether to conduct New Jersey's July 7 primaries by mail. Three weeks ago, the last time Murphy addressed the matter, the governor said the state would have to decide in "a number of weeks."

New York: New York's Board of Elections, a bipartisan panel whose members are all appointed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has canceled the state's June 23 presidential primary. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had asked that the Democratic primary go forward, but a Democratic board member, Douglas Kellner, said, "What the Sanders campaign wanted is essentially a beauty contest that, given the situation with the public health emergency, seems to be unnecessary and, indeed, frivolous."

However, the state's downballot primaries, which are taking place the same day, will proceed as planned, meaning the only way public safety might be enhanced is if turnout is lower as a result. According to the New York Times, about one third of New York counties have no other races on the ballot and therefore will not hold an election. However, it is not clear what proportion of the state's actual electorate would be affected.

Separately, Cuomo canceled the June 23 special election for Queens Borough President, an all-party race that would have allowed the winner to serve out the current calendar year. However, a second, separate special election for the final year of now-Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz's term will still go forward. This will be a traditional race, with party primaries on June 23 and a general election in November. There will then be still another election next year for the borough presidency's regular four-year term.

Cuomo also canceled several state legislative special elections, instead leaving those seats vacant until the November general election. The special election for New York's 27th Congressional District in the Buffalo suburbs will still proceed on June 23.

Virginia: Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has postponed Virginia's May 5 local elections to May 19, the longest delay he is permitted to unilaterally impose under state law. Last week, the Democratic-run legislature rejected Northam's proposal to consolidate local races with the November general election.

Senate

AZ-Sen: Democrat Mark Kelly has debuted two new TV ads that showcase the candidate talking directly to viewers. The first spot highlights his background as a former Navy pilot and touts his political independence, while the second one focuses on the coronavirus pandemic and the need to both provide healthcare workers with the resources they require and to ensure everyone can access life-saving care without going bankrupt.

CO-Sen: Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold announced Friday that she would appeal a state judge's decision to place businesswoman Michelle Ferrigno Warren on the June Democratic primary ballot.

Judge Christopher Baumann wrote that, while Ferrigno Warren had only submitted about half of the 10,500 petitions needed, she "had to collect petition signatures in the shadow of a global pandemic and looming public health emergency." Baumann also said that the candidate's ability to collect about 5,400 petitions "suggests Ms. Ferrigno Warren has a 'significant modicum' of support for her candidacy." Griswold's team, though, argued that the decision was unfair to the contenders who had met the requirements as well as to candidates who had fallen short but hadn't sued to get on the ballot.

Gubernatorial

Utah: Both parties held their conventions on Saturday as virtual events, and the lineup for Utah's June 30 primaries is now set.

As we've written before, Utah allows candidates to reach the primary ballot either by turning in the requisite number of signatures or by competing at their party conventions, though contenders had the option to try both methods. Any candidate who handed in enough petitions was guaranteed a spot in the primary no matter how well or poorly they did at their convention on Saturday.

Both Republicans and Democrats used ranked-choice ballots at this year's conventions in contests with more than two candidates. If one contender took more than 60% of the delegate vote, they would be the only candidate to advance to the primary ballot. If, however, no one hit this threshold, then the two competitors left standing would make it to the primary.

UT-Gov: The GOP field to succeed retiring Republican Gov. Gary Herbert went from seven candidates to just four after Saturday's convention.

While Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox had already turned in enough signatures to advance to the primary, he still took the top spot at the party gathering by winning 53% of the delegates. Former state House Speaker Greg Hughes, who was only pursuing the convention route, grabbed the second spot with 43%. Saturday was game over, though, for wealthy businessman Jeff Burningham, Salt Lake County Council chair Aimee Winder Newton, and perennial candidate Jason Christensen.

Former Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman, who preceded Herbert as governor, and former state party chair Thomas Wright each had already earned a spot on the the primary ballot by turning in enough signatures. Early polls show Huntsman and Cox, who has Herbert's support, far ahead of the other candidates, but that could change now that the field has been reduced to four contenders. Cox, however, does begin the contest with a big financial advantage: The lieutenant governor led Huntsman in cash-on-hand $703,000 to $336,000 on April 15, while Wright and Hughes had $222,000 and $164,000 to spend, respectively.

The Democrats, by contrast, avoided a primary altogether. All six of Team Blue's candidates ended up pursuing only the convention route, and University of Utah law professor Chris Peterson won the event with 88% of the vote. Democrats haven't won a statewide race in Utah since Jan Graham was re-elected as attorney general back in 1996, and we rate the gubernatorial contest as Safe Republican.

House

Florida: Filing closed Friday for congressional candidates running in Florida’s Aug. 18 primaries, and the state has a list of contenders available here. The deadline for candidates for the state legislature is not until June 19, even though the primary is the same date.

FL-03: Far-right Rep. Ted Yoho is retiring, and 10 fellow Republicans are running to succeed him. This north-central Florida seat, which includes Gainesville and Ocala, backed Donald Trump 56-40, and the GOP nominee should have no trouble holding it.

Physician James St. George, who has self-funded about half of his campaign, led the field with $336,000 in the bank on March 31. Just behind was another self-funder, 2018 candidate Judson Sapp, who had $310,000 available. Sapp lost to Yoho 76-24 last cycle in a campaign that attracted very little attention, but this time, Sapp has the support of neighboring Rep. John Rutherford.

Another candidate to watch is Kat Cammack, who served as Yoho’s campaign manager during his upset 2012 win and later worked in his congressional office. Cammack ended March with $166,000 in the bank, which was a little more than the $137,000 that former Gainesville City Commissioner Todd Chase had available. Two other contenders, businessman Ryan Chamberlin and Clay County Commissioner Gavin Rollins, had $97,000 on-hand, while none of the other candidates had more than $25,000 to spend.

FL-05: While Democratic Rep. Al Lawson’s weak fundraising early last year had us wondering if he’d retire, the two-term congressman filed to run again. Lawson doesn’t face any serious intra-party opposition for this safely blue seat in the northern part of the state.

FL-07: Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy is defending a seat in the northern Orlando suburbs that backed Hillary Clinton 51-44 four years after Barack Obama won it by an extremely narrow margin, and it doesn’t look like she’ll be a major GOP target this year.

While a number of Republicans launched bids here, the only two who ended up filing were physician Leo Valentin and mortgage broker Richard Goble. Valentin, who has self-funded a portion of his campaign, had $276,000 to spend at the end of March, while Goble had only $13,000 on-hand. Murphy, who turned back a touted opponent 58-42 last cycle, had $1.32 million in the bank.

FL-13: Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist, who served as Florida’s Republican governor from 2007 to 2011, is seeking a third term in a St. Petersburg seat that moved from 55-44 Obama to 50-46 Clinton. Crist had a hefty $2.94 million in the bank at the end of March, and it remains to be seen if national Republicans will target his seat after ignoring it last cycle.

Five Republicans filed to challenge Crist, and attorney Amanda Makki looks like the frontrunner. Makki, who has the support of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, ended March with $613,000 on-hand, while Air Force veteran Anna Paulina Luna was a distant second with $147,000 in the bank. 2018 nominee George Buck, who lost to Crist 58-42 last time, had just $59,000 available; the NRCC also cut ties with Buck last year after he sent out a fundraising email calling for Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar to be hanged for "treason." The other two Republicans had less than $7,000 to spend.

FL-15: Freshman GOP Rep. Ross Spano is under federal investigation for allegedly violating campaign finance laws during his successful 2018 bid, and he faces notable primary and general opposition. This seat, which includes Lakeland and the exurbs of Tampa and Orlando, went from 52-47 Romney to 53-43 Trump, but Spano won it by a modest 53-47 before his scandal fully came out.

Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin announced last month that he’d challenge Spano for the GOP nod, and he quickly raised $107,000 and self-funded an additional $160,000. Spano took in $229,000 during this time, but he held only a $293,000 to $266,000 cash-on-hand lead over Franklin at the end of March.

Three Democrats are also competing here. State Rep. Adam Hattersley ended last month with a $231,000 to $90,000 cash-on-hand lead over Alan Cohn, a former local TV news anchor who lost a 2014 primary for a previous version of this seat. The third candidate, Iraq War veteran Jesse Philippe, has not reported raising any money yet.

FL-16: GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan turned back a credible Democratic foe 55-45 last cycle, and he faces another expensive race.

State Rep. Margaret Good, who won her seat in a 2018 special by defeating the congressman’s son, faces no opposition in the Democratic primary. Good has been a strong fundraiser, though the wealthy and well-connected Buchanan ended March with a $1.18 million to $737,000 cash-on-hand lead. This Sarasota-area seat went from 54-45 Romney to 54-43 Trump.

FL-18: GOP Rep. Brian Mast won re-election 54-46 against a well-funded opponent, and Democrats don’t seem to be making a play for this seat this time.

Mast ended March with a huge $1.52 million to $98,000 cash-on-hand lead over Oz Vazquez, a former state deputy solicitor general. Pam Keith, who lost the 2018 primary 60-40, also recently entered the Democratic primary. This seat, which includes the Palm Beach area and the Treasure Coast to the north, moved from 51-48 Romney to 53-44 Trump.  

FL-19: GOP Rep. Francis Rooney is retiring from this safely red district in the Cape Coral and Fort Myers area after only two terms, which means that we have our fourth open seat contest here in just 8 years. Ten Republicans are running here, and it’s already turning into an expensive fight.

Wealthy businessman Casey Askar, who only entered the race last month, quickly raised $506,000 and self-funded $3 million, which left him with a massive $3.48 million war chest. Urologist William Figlesthaler, who has also been doing some heavy self-funding, had a significant $1 million to spend as well.

Three state representatives are also in. Dane Eagle, who serves as majority leader, held a $334,000 to $221,000 cash-on-hand lead over Byron Donalds, while Heather Fitzenhagen was far behind with $90,000. Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson and former Minnesota state Rep. Dan Severson had $69,000 and $62,000 to spend, respectively, while the rest of the field was even further behind.

FL-26: Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell won this district 51-49 in a very expensive 2018 race, and the new incumbent will be a top GOP target this cycle. This seat, which includes the southwestern Miami area and the Florida Keys, went from 55-44 Obama to 57-41 Clinton, but Republicans still do well downballot here.

National Republicans, including Donald Trump, are supporting Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez, and he starts with a strong geographic base. About 90% of this seat is located in Miami-Dade County (the balance is in neighboring Monroe County), and Giménez has consistently been in the news during the coronavirus pandemic. Mucarsel-Powell, though, ended March with a strong $2.2 million to $405,000 cash-on-hand edge over Giménez, who entered the race in late January. The only other Republican, firefighter Omar Blanco, had just $59,000 in the bank.

FL-27: Democrat Donna Shalala won an open seat race last cycle 52-46 against former Spanish-language TV journalist Maria Elvira Salazar, and the Republican is back for a rematch. This seat, which includes the southern Miami area and Coral Gables, went from 53-46 Obama all the way to 59-39 Clinton, though this is another district where the GOP does better downballot. Shalala ended March with a $1.45 million to $895,000 cash-on-hand lead.

NM-02: Oil businesswoman Claire Chase has launched a Republican primary ad accusing 2018 GOP nominee Yvette Herrell of having "undermined Trump's campaign" and breaking a promise not to vote to raise taxes. The spot repeatedly labels Chase as the "pro-Trump" conservative instead.

Meanwhile, Herrell has launched a TV spot of her own attacking Chase over the latter's old anti-Trump Facebook posts. As a cutout of Chase appears on screen, speech bubbles pop up with posts such as "(Donald Trump)'s an a**hole unworthy of the office... of the President." Lastly, Herrell is airing another spot that features Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who previously led the House's far-right Freedom Caucus, praising her candidacy.

UT-01: The Republican field to succeed retiring Rep. Rob Bishop, who is running for lieutenant governor on former state GOP chair Thomas Wright's ticket, was dramatically cut from 12 to four after Saturday's convention. This seat, which includes Ogden and northern Utah, is safely red turf, and whoever emerges with the GOP nod on June 30 should have no trouble holding it.

Former Utah Commissioner of Agriculture Kerry Gibson took first place at the convention with 53%, while former U.S. Foreign Service officer Blake Moore grabbed second with 40%. Two other contenders, Davis County Commissioner Bob Stevenson and Kaysville Mayor Katie Witt, had already made the primary ballot by turning in signatures. It's game over, though, for Morgan County Councilor Tina Cannon, Clearfield Mayor Mark Shepherd, and six other contenders.

There's no obvious frontrunner here, and none of the candidates had a large amount of money to spend on April 5. (Because the party convention came so close to the April 15 quarterly reporting deadline, Utah congressional candidates' reports cover the period of Jan. 1 through April 5.) Gibson led Moore in cash-on-hand $102,000 to $84,000, while Stevenson had $65,000 in the bank. Witt, though, was far behind with just $9,000 to spend.

UT-04: The GOP field to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams was reduced from seven to four at the weekend's convention. State Rep. Kim Coleman secured a spot in the primary by taking 54% of the delegates, while former NFL player Burgess Owens, who had already successfully petitioned his way onto the ballot, took 45%.

Coleman and Owens will also face former radio host Jay Mcfarland and Trent Christensen, who served as a regional finance director for Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign, on June 30. However, party activist Kathleen Anderson, nurse practitioner Chris Biesinger, and businesswoman Cindy Thompson all failed to make the ballot.

This suburban Salt Lake City-area seat is likely to be a top GOP target, but none of the Republicans had much money on April 5. Coleman led Owens $115,000 to $93,000 in cash-on-hand, while Mcfarland had $33,000. Christensen, who only entered the race in mid-March, had a mere $4,000 in the bank, though he may have the connections to haul in more. McAdams, who has no intra-party opposition, had a hefty $2.2 million to spend.

Other Races

UT-AG: GOP incumbent Sean Reyes, who picked up an endorsement from Donald Trump on Thursday evening, will face Utah County Attorney David Leavitt in the June 30 primary. Reyes outpaced Leavitt 56-42 at Saturday's convention after the third candidate, former Attorney General John Swallow, was eliminated from contention in the first round of balloting. The Democrats are fielding defense attorney Greg Skordas, who lost the 2004 general election 68-28.

Leavitt, who is the the brother of former Gov. Mike Leavitt, has pitched himself as a reformer and focused his campaign on lowering the state's incarceration rate. Leavitt has also argued that Reyes is "shameless" for keeping large donations from an energy company whose leaders were convicted of fraud in federal court. Reyes, who is running as an ardent Trump ally, held a $128,000 to $23,000 cash-on-hand lead in mid-April.