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.
● Boston, MA Mayor: Boston City Council President Kim Janey made history on Monday when she ascended to the position of acting mayor following incumbent Marty Walsh's resignation that evening to become U.S. secretary of labor. Janey, who is Black, is the first person of color to lead one of America's oldest cities, as well as the first woman to serve as mayor.
Janey's elevation also comes at a time when she and other women and people of color have been making rapid electoral gains in a city that has long had a reputation for racism. Janey herself, at the age of 11, was riding a bus that was attacked by a mob when she was being driven to school in a heavily white neighborhood, an incident that took place in 1976, at the height of the city's infamous busing crisis.
It took another 33 years before Ayanna Pressley's victory made her the first-ever woman of color elected to the City Council in 2009. Change began to accelerate three years ago, though, when Pressley attracted national attention after defeating longtime Rep. Michael Capuano in the Democratic primary, an accomplishment that positioned her to become the first woman of color to ever represent Massachusetts in Congress a few months later.Campaign Action
That same evening, another Black woman, Rachael Rollins, won the Democratic primary in the open-seat race for district attorney in Suffolk County, which includes all of Boston, and likewise prevailed that fall. Janey herself became the first African American woman to lead the City Council in 2020, a 13-member body that now includes a total of eight women and seven members of color.
Janey has not yet said if she'll seek a full four-year term as mayor this year, though the Boston Globe's James Pindell writes that "it would be surprising if she decided not to." We'll know the answer before too long, as the deadline to turn in the necessary 3,000 signatures to appear on the ballot is May 18.
All the candidates will face off in September in an officially nonpartisan race known locally as the "preliminary election." The two contenders with the most votes will then advance to a November face-off. There's little question that the eventual winner will identify as a Democrat in this very blue city; what's up for grabs is who that Democrat will be.
Boston hasn't ousted an incumbent mayor since 1949, when John Hynes defeated the legendary and controversial incumbent James Michael Curley. Only one acting mayor has sought a full term in the seven decades since, after another City Council president, Thomas Menino, assumed the top job in July of 1991 following Mayor Raymond Flynn's resignation to become Bill Clinton's ambassador to the Vatican. Menino took first place just two months later in the preliminary election amidst a crowded field, then decisively won the general election that year and left office in 2014 as the city's longest-serving mayor.
No matter what Janey decides, however, we're once again sure to see a busy race. Two of Janey's fellow city councilors, Andrea Campbell and Michelle Wu, had each announced last year that they'd challenge Walsh, back when most politicos assumed he'd be seeking a third term. The dynamics dramatically changed in January, though, when Joe Biden nominated Walsh to lead the Department of Labor.
Following that development, three other notable candidates declared bids prior to Walsh's departure: City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George, state Rep. Jon Santiago, and John Barros, the city's former economic development chief. In a sign of just how much politics have changed in Boston, all of these contenders are people of color. There's still a while to go before filing closes, though, and others could still join the contest.
● GA-Sen: Banking executive Latham Saddler confirmed this week that he is considering seeking the Republican nomination to take on Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. Saddler is a Navy SEAL veteran who went on to serve as a Trump White House fellow, and he does not appear to have run for office before.
Meanwhile, Politico has obtained a survey from the GOP firm OnMessage that tests several other prospective candidates in a hypothetical primary. Reporter Alex Isenstadt says that, while OnMessage advises the NRSC, it is not working for any of the possible contenders.
In a four-way match-up, OnMessage gives former Rep. Doug Collins a 35-27 lead over former NFL running back Herschel Walker. Former Sen. Kelly Loeffler takes third with 22%, while QAnon ally and freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is at 7%. In a two-way contest, Collins bests Loeffler 55-36.
Both Collins and Loeffler, who faced off last year in an all-party special election primary, are talking about running again. Donald Trump has publicly urged Walker to get in, but while he's reportedly thinking about it, many observers are skeptical the Texas resident will return to Georgia for a campaign. Greene has not shown any obvious interest in a statewide bid, but that hasn't stopped establishment Republicans from fretting about the idea.
● MO-Sen: Former Gov. Eric Greitens on Monday became the first notable Missouri Republican to announce a bid to succeed retiring Sen. Roy Blunt, a deeply unwelcome development for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's hopes of reclaiming a majority next year.
As Politico reported earlier this month, a number of Republicans fear that Greitens, who left office in disgrace three years ago, could endanger Team Red's hold over Blunt's seat if he wins the primary. Some intra-party critics even compared Greitens to Todd Akin, whose "legitimate rape" debacle sunk the GOP's prospects in the Show Me State's 2012 Senate race.
It's easy to see why Greitens could be so toxic even in a state that's galloped away from Democrats over the last decade. Greitens' political career began with promise when he was first elected to the governorship in 2016, but it swiftly began to unravel early in 2018 in the face of allegations that he'd sexually assaulted a woman he was having an affair with and blackmailed her into silence.
Prosecutors soon wound up indicting Greitens not once but twice: First on allegations of first-degree felony invasion of privacy related to the assault scandal, and soon after on unrelated charges of computer tampering involving his charity for veterans (Greitens is a former Navy SEAL). The Republican-led state legislature, which had little love for the governor after spending a year feuding with him, also took steps toward removing him from office.
Greitens finally resigned at the end of May, a move that St. Louis prosecutor Kimberly Gardner claimed came in exchange for her decision to drop the tampering charges. A short while later, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker also abandoned the assault and blackmail case, saying that while she believed Greitens' accuser, she did not think she could prove the charges.
With that abrupt fall from grace, Greitens became the shortest-tenured governor in Missouri history. His time in politics appeared to be at an end, and he spent most of the following two years avoiding the media. However, he re-emerged in February of last year after getting some mostly welcome news from the Missouri Ethics Commission. The commission announced that it was fining Greitens $178,000 after ruling that his 2016 campaign had not disclosed its coordination with a federal PAC and a nonprofit. However, it also said there was "no evidence of any wrongdoing" by Greitens himself and forgave most of the fine.
Greitens immediately laundered those findings (which concerned only his campaign, not the assault allegations) to make a broad-based claim he'd just received a "total exoneration" (he hadn't). He also didn't rule out a 2020 primary bid for his old job as governor against his replacement, Gov. Mike Parson, though he ultimately backed off. However, he started talking up a challenge to Blunt earlier this month, arguing that the incumbent had shown insufficient fealty to Donald Trump. Just days later, Blunt ended up announcing his retirement, and Greitens kicked off his bid to succeed his would-be rival this week.
National Republicans, though, didn't wait for Greitens to announce before discussing ways to keep him from winning the primary. Politico's Alex Isenstadt recently reported that the Senate Leadership Fund, a major super PAC close to Mitch McConnell, "has been engaged in talks about how to keep the former governor from endangering [the GOP's] hold on what should be a safe seat," though no one has settled on any precise strategies yet—at least not publicly.
Isenstadt added that Republican operatives are aware that a crowded field could make it easier for Greitens to win the nomination, though unnamed "top Republicans" acknowledged that they haven't come up with a plan to stop him at this early point in the cycle.
But Greitens' potential Senate colleague, fellow Republican Josh Hawley, is already kicking the former governor in the shins. While the two are both ardent fans of Trump's favorite election conspiracy theories, they utterly despise one another. Hawley said Tuesday of his 2018 call for Greitens' resignation, "I wouldn't change any of that" and acknowledged he'd spoken to Trump about the race, ostensibly in the hope of dissuading him from backing Greitens. Hawley hedged, though, adding, "I'll support the Republican nominee" for this seat.
● PA-Gov: Republican Rep. Dan Meuser acknowledged Monday that he was thinking about entering next year's open seat race for governor
Meuser, who represents a safely red seat located in the formerly coal-heavy region between Wilkes-Barre and Harrisburg, said, "I plan on taking the next few months to have discussions with my fellow Pennsylvanians about ways I believe we can move our state forward towards a more prosperous future." Last month, PennLive also listed Meuser as one of the Republicans "widely believed to be looking at" running for Senate, but he didn't mention that contest this week.
● TX-34: Former Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos told the Texas Tribune Monday that he wasn't ruling out seeking the Republican nomination to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Filemón Vela.
Cascos previously served as county judge, a post that is similar to a county executive in other states, in Cameron County, which is home to more than half of the residents in the current 34th District. In 2015, Cascos resigned to accept an appointment as secretary of state, a stint that lasted for two years. Cascos tried to regain his old job as county judge from Democratic incumbent Eddie Treviño in 2018 but lost the general election 60-40.
● Cleveland, OH Mayor: Former City Councilman Zack Reed announced this week that he would mount a second bid this year for the post currently held by Mayor Frank Jackson, a fellow Democrat. Jackson has not yet said if he'll seek a fifth four-year term, though Cleveland.com's Seth Richardson says the incumbent "has not raised money or indicated he would do so." The filing deadline is in mid-June.
Reed challenged Jackson in 2017, arguing the mayor had not done enough to deal with the high crime rate and was too focused on improving downtown at the expense of the city's neighborhoods. Jackson went on to beat Reed 60-40, a solid showing that was still a significantly smaller margin than what he scored during his two previous re-election campaigns. Reed went on to work for Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose for two years as minority affairs coordinator, a job that Cleveland.com described as "help[ing] LaRose build bridges with minority voters and minority business groups across the state."
Reed joins nonprofit executive Justin Bibb in the mayoral contest to lead this very blue city, though other contenders will likely join no matter what Jackson does. Richardson writes that the list of other politicians "expected" to run include former Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who served as mayor from 1977 to 1979; City Council President Kevin Kelley; and City Councilman Basheer Jones. The nonpartisan primary will take place in September, and the two candidates with the most votes will face off in the November general election.