Morning Digest: Three House incumbents lose renomination during a huge primary night

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

IL-06, IL-15, MS-04: Tuesday was one of the biggest primary nights of the cycle, and not just because a trio of House incumbents lost renomination. We’ll start with a look at those three contests below as we begin our summary of where things stood as of 8 AM ET in the big contests. You can also find our cheat-sheet here.

 IL-06 (D & R): Two-term Rep. Sean Casten defeated freshman colleague Marie Newman by a wide 68-29 margin in their Democratic primary for a seat in Chicago's inner western suburbs. Newman’s existing 3rd District makes up 41% of this new seat while Casten's current 6th District forms just 23%, but she was hurt by an ethics investigation into charges she sought to keep a potential primary opponent out of the race when she ran in 2020 by offering him a job as a top aide if she won. The race largely paused about two weeks before Election Day after the congressman's teenage daughter died suddenly and Newman announced that she was halting negative ads.

Casten will face Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau, who won the GOP nod by beating Burr Ridge Mayor Gary Grasso 39-27, in a constituency Biden would have carried 55-44.

 IL-15 (R): Freshman Rep. Mary Miller, who had support of Donald Trump and the Club for Growth, beat five-term incumbent Rodney Davis 57-43 in a safely red seat in rural central Illinois. While neither member had much of a geographic advantage in this new seat, the far-right Miller proved to be a better fit for local Republicans than Davis, who had long sought to present himself as a moderate in order to win under the previous map and voted for a Jan. 6 commission.

Davis tacked right during this campaign and pledged to investigate the Jan. 6 committee if he became chair of the House Administration Committee, but it was far from enough. Miller, by contrast, told Trump at a rally on Saturday, “I want to thank you for the historic victory for white life in the Supreme Court yesterday.” (Her campaign responded by insisting she’d meant to say “right to life.”)

 MS-04 (R): Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell defeated six-term Rep. Steven Palazzo 54-46 in the Republican runoff for a safely red seat along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The incumbent led Ezell only 31-25 in the first round of voting on June 7, and all five of the defeated candidates quickly endorsed Ezell for the runoff. Mississippi Today says that this is the first time a House incumbent has lost renomination in the Magnolia State since 1962, when Jamie Whitten beat fellow Rep. Frank Smith in their Democratic primary. (Whitten, who was elected in a 1941 special, retired in 1995 as the longest serving House member in American history, though the late Michigan Democrat John Dingell later broke that record.)

Palazzo spent the campaign dogged by an ethics investigation into allegations that he illegally used campaign funds for personal purposes. His many critics also portrayed him as an absentee congressman uninterested in doing his job, and Palazzo gave them more fodder earlier this year when he posted a picture on Facebook of himself and his son at a restaurant in Mississippi hours after he abruptly canceled a campaign forum for what his staff said were “meetings dealing with national security.”

election recaps

 Primary Night: Below is a state-by-state look at where Tuesday’s other major contests stood as of 8 AM ET Wednesday. We’ll start with a surprisingly close special election in Nebraska:

 NE-01 (special): Republican state Sen. Mike Flood only defeated Democratic colleague Patty Pansing Brooks 53-47 to win the contest to succeed Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who resigned in March after he was convicted of concealing illegal campaign funds he received from a foreign national, in a Lincoln area constituency that Trump would have won 54-43 in 2020 and 56-38 four years before. Bizarrely, the special was held under the new district lines even though the winner will fill out the remainder of Fortenberry's term, which he of course won under the old lines; Trump carried the existing 1st by a stronger 56-41 in 2020.

National Democrats, though, were not prepared for things to be anywhere near as close as they were: Indeed, Pansing Brooks’ media consultant, Ian Russell, says that Flood outspent her $860,000 to $80,000 in a contest that attracted no serious outside spending. The two state senators will face off again in November for a full two-year term.

We’ll move on to Colorado, where Democrats spent serious amounts in what proved to be unsuccessful efforts to get Republicans to nominate Team Blue’s preferred opponents:

 CO-Sen (R): Self-funding businessman Joe O’Dea turned back state Rep. Ron Hanks, a vocal proponent of the Big Lie, 55-45 in the GOP primary to face Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet. A poll from the Democratic firm Global Strategy Group showed both Republicans losing to Bennet by the same 13-point margin, but Team Blue believed that the extremist Hanks would be easier to defeat.

 CO-Gov (R): University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl, who is Colorado’s only remaining statewide Republican, defeated businessman Greg Lopez 54-46 for the right to take on Democratic Gov. Jared Polis. That same GSG poll showed Polis winning by identical 51-32 spreads against both, but Democrats tried to get GOP voters to select the underfunded Lopez.

 CO-03 (R): Another far-right freshman, Rep. Lauren Boebert, beat self-described moderate state Sen. Don Coram 65-35 in a western Colorado seat that Trump would have taken 53-45.

 CO-05 (R): Rep. Doug Lamborn turned back state Rep. Dave Williams 48-33 in a Colorado Springs-based seat Trump also would have carried 53-43. Lamborn, who has struggled to win renomination in the past, is the subject of an ongoing ethics investigation into allegations that he misused official resources by having congressional staff perform personal and campaign-related tasks for him and his wife.

 CO-07 (R): Former oil and gas executive Erik Aadland defeated businessman Tim Reichert 48-36 in the GOP primary to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter. Aadland will be the underdog against state Sen. Brittany Pettersen, who had no Democratic primary opposition, in a seat in the western Denver suburbs that Biden would have carried 56-42. 

 CO-08 (R): State Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer beat Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann 40-23 in the GOP primary for this newly created seat in Denver's northern suburbs. Democrats had aired ads trying to block Kirkmeyer and convince Republicans to instead nominate far-right Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine, but Saine ended up taking only third with 20%. Kirkmeyer will go up against state Rep. Yadira Caraveo, who had no opposition in the Democratic primary, in a constituency Biden would have won 51-46.

 CO-SoS (R): Former Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson defeated economic development specialist Mike O'Donnell 43-29; the balance went to Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who was indicted in March for allegedly breaching the county's election systems during her attempt to demonstrate fraud in 2020. Anderson, who was the one Republican candidate who acknowledged that Biden won the 2020 election, will go up against Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold.

Next is Illinois, which was home to the bulk of Tuesday’s biggest contests:

 IL-Gov (R): Both Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Donald Trump got what they wanted from the Republican primary as far-right state Sen. Darren Bailey beat venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan in a 57-16 blowout; Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, who looked like the frontrunner until early June, took third with just 15% despite the $50 million in donations he’d received from billionaire Ken Griffin.

Pritzker and his allies at the DGA very badly wanted to face Bailey instead of Irvin, and they spent massive amounts to make that happen. NBC reports that the incumbent dropped $32 million on TV ads during the GOP primary, most of which went towards hitting the mayor, while the DGA deployed another $18 million on commercials either touting Bailey as a conservative or attacking Irvin. Another conservative megadonor, Richard Uihlein, spent $17 million to promote Bailey as well and go after Irvin’s record as mayor and past moderate stances.

 IL-01 (D): Businessman Jonathan Jackson, who is the son of two-time presidential candidate Jesse Jackson and benefited from $1 million in support from crypto-aligned PACs, won the nomination to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush in this safely blue seat by defeating Chicago Alderman Pat Dowell 28-19. Rush, who is the only person to ever defeat Barack Obama, supported former Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership CEO Karin Norington-Reaves, who finished third with 14%.

 IL-03 (D): State Rep. Delia Ramirez, who had several progressive groups on her side, beat Chicago Alderman Gilbert Villegas 66-24 in a safely blue seat centered around heavily Latino areas in southwestern Chicago and the city's western suburbs.

 IL-07 (D): Longtime Rep. Danny Davis turned back anti-gun violence activist Kina Collins 52-45 in what was easily his closest renomination fight ever in this heavily Democratic seat in downtown Chicago. Davis beat Collins 60-14 in a 2020 contest that attracted little attention, but this time, there was notable outside spending on both sides. President Joe Biden also endorsed the 13-term incumbent two days before the primary.

 IL-08 (D): Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi defeated businessman Junaid Ahmed 70-30 in a seat based in Chicago's outer western suburbs. Biden would have prevailed 57-41 here.

 IL-13 (R & D): The AP has not yet called this GOP primary, but with 95% of the projected vote in, activist Regan Deering leads former federal prosecutor Jesse Reising 35-33. The Democrats are fielding former Biden administration official Nikki Budzinski, who won her own primary 76-24, in a seat that now snakes from East St. Louis northeast through Springfield to the college towns of Champaign and Urbana. Democratic mapmakers transformed what was a 51-47 Trump constituency into one Biden would have carried 54-43, which is why GOP Rep. Rodney Davis decided to take his chances in the 15th instead of run here.

 IL-14 (R): The AP also has not yet made a call in the GOP primary, but conservative radio host Mike Koolidge leads perennial candidate James Marter 31-24. The winner will face Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood in a constituency in Chicago's western exurbs where Democratic legislators augmented Biden's margin of victory from 50-48 to 55-43.

 IL-17 (D): Former TV meteorologist Eric Sorensen, who would be the first gay person to represent Illinois in Congress, won the Democratic nod to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos by beating former state Rep. Litesa Wallace 38-23. Republicans are once again fielding 2020 nominee Esther Joy King, who lost to Bustos 52-48 as Trump was taking the old version of this northwestern Illinois seat 50-48; Biden would have carried the new version of the 17th 53-45.

Mississippi also had another big runoff Tuesday:

 MS-03 (R): Rep. Michael Guest avenged his June 7 embarrassment by beating Navy veteran Michael Cassidy 67-33 in the runoff for this safely red seat in the central part of the state. Cassidy led Guest, who voted for a Jan. 6 commission, 47.5-46.9 in the first round in a campaign that almost everyone expected the incumbent to win with ease. The congressman, who himself acknowledged he'd run a complacent campaign, used the next three weeks to air ads attacking Cassidy for the first time, while his allies at the Congressional Leadership Fund spent serious amounts on anti-Cassidy messaging.

New York held primaries for statewide races and the state Assembly, but because the courts redrew the maps for the U.S. House and state Senate, those nomination contests won't take place until Aug. 23.

 NY-Gov & NY-LG (D): Gov. Kathy Hochul won her primary for a full term by beating New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams 68-19, while Rep. Tom Suozzi took 13%. Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado, a former congressman who served as Hochul’s informal running mate, won his separate primary by beating activist Ana Maria Archila, who was aligned with Williams, 61-25. Hochul and Delgado will campaign together as a ticket in November.

 NY-Gov (R): Rep. Lee Zeldin defeated former Trump White House staffer Andrew Giuliani, the son of Donald Trump's most embarrassing attorney, 44-23. Zeldin and running mate Alison Esposito, who had no intra-party opposition in the primary for lieutenant governor, will try to unseat Hochul and Delgado in a state where Republicans haven’t won a single statewide race since 2002.

Oklahoma also went to the polls: A runoff will take place Aug. 23 in any contests where no one earned a majority of the vote.

 OK-Sen-B (R): Rep. Markwayne Mullin and former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon will compete in the runoff to succeed longtime Sen. Jim Inhofe, a fellow Republican who announced in late February that he would resign, effective ​​when the current Congress ends.

Mullin took a firm first place with 44% while Shannon, who lost to now-Sen. James Lankford in the 2014 primary for Oklahoma’s other Senate seat, outpaced state Sen. Nathan Dahm 19-12. Another 11% went to Luke Holland, Inhofe’s former chief of staff and preferred successor, while former Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt barely registered with just 5%.

 OK-Gov (R): Gov. Kevin Stitt decisively beat state Department of Veterans Affairs head Joel Kintsel 69-14 even after dark money groups spent millions against him. Stitt will be favored in the fall against Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, who left the GOP last year.

 OK-02 (R): State Rep. Avery Frix will compete in the runoff to succeed Mullin in this dark red eastern Oklahoma seat, but the AP has not yet called the second runoff spot. With 99% of the expected vote in for this enormous 14-person field, Frix leads with 15% while former state Sen. Josh Brecheen holds a 14-13 edge over Muskogee Chief of Police Johnny Teehee.

 OK-05 (R): Despite her vote for a Jan. 6 commission, freshman Rep. Stephanie Bice defeated her underfunded foe, conservative YouTube show host Subrina Banks, 68-32 in a newly gerrymandered seat in the Oklahoma City area.

The big night concluded with Utah.

 UT-Sen (R): Far-right Sen. Mike Lee turned back former state Rep. Becky Edwards, who centered her challenge around Lee's unbending fealty to Donald Trump, 62-30. The incumbent will go up against conservative independent Evan McMullin, whom Democrats decided to support rather than field their own candidate.

 UT-01 (R): Freshman Rep. Blake Moore, who also voted to create a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attacks, beat retired intelligence officer Andrew Badger 59-27 in this safely red northern Utah seat.

 UT-03 (R): Finally, Rep. John Curtis, who also voted for a Jan. 6 commission, defeated former state Rep. Chris Herrod 71-29 in what was their third GOP primary contest. This seat in the Provo area and southeastern Utah is also dark red turf.

  Redistricting

LA Redistricting: In an unsurprising move, the Supreme Court's far-right supermajority voted without explanation to block a lower court decision that struck down Louisiana's congressional map for violating the Voting Rights Act over the objections of the three liberal justices. The court said it would hear a full appeal next term. As a result, Louisiana will use a map this year that features just a single Black congressional district out of six, despite the fact that the trial court determined that African Americans, who make up a third of the state's population, are entitled to a second district in which they can elect their preferred candidates under the VRA.

Senate

AK-Sen: Sen. Lisa Murkowski's allies at Alaskans For Lisa are using their first negative TV ad to attack former state cabinet official Kelly Tshibaka as "​​so extreme she wants to outlaw receiving contraceptives by mail," which is almost never the type of messaging we hear in a contest between two Republicans. However, the state's new top-four electoral system gives Murkowski's side an incentive to appeal to Alaska's entire electorate, not just the social conservatives who usually dominate GOP primaries

And there's good reason to think that this sort of ad could resonate even in a red state like this one. Civiqs finds that registered voters agree that abortion should be legal in most or all cases by a 50-45 margin, while other surveys have also shown that a majority of Alaskans support abortion rights.

AZ-Sen: Former Thiel Capital chief operating officer Blake Masters' newest commercial for the August primary features him standing next to Donald Trump as the GOP's actual master delivers a rare direct-to-camera appeal for one of his candidates. (Trump previously made a personal pitch for David Perdue in the primary for governor of Georgia which … did not end well for either man.)

After praising Masters as "strong on election fraud," Trump also uses this occasion to argue that two of his intra-party foes, Attorney General Mark Brnovich and wealthy businessman Jim Lamon, "will only let you down," though he uncharacteristically refrains from dissing them further. Masters himself only chimes in at the end to approve the commercial and shake Trump's hand, a practice Trump once dismissed as "barbaric."

MO-Sen: John Wood, a former Republican who served as a senior advisor to the Jan. 6 committee until last week, announced Wednesday morning that he’d run for this open seat as an independent. Wood previously served as U.S. Attorney for the Kansas City area under George W. Bush.

Wood launched his campaign shortly after former Republican Sen. John Danforth starred in a commercial that was part of what AdImpact reported is a $1.4 million buy from a PAC called Missouri Stands Unite. Danforth, who left office in 1995, didn’t mention Wood or anyone else by name but instead spent the 90 second commercial expressing his disillusionment with the state of American unity and argues that a victory for a nonaligned candidate would send a "message to politicians throughout America." Danforth, though, called for Wood to run before the independent launched his campaign.

NV-Sen, WI-Sen: Two new ads from two pro-choice groups in top-tier Senate races both focus on abortion in the wake of the Dobbs decision, but they use strikingly different language.

In Nevada, Women Vote, which is the super PAC arm of EMILY's List, says it's spending $2.1 million to castigate Republican Adam Laxalt for calling the Supreme Court's ruling an "historic victory." The narrator elaborates: "Unapologetically pro-life, Laxalt has made a career pushing to limit abortion rights, committed to taking control of every woman's personal decision and giving it to politicians."

Planned Parenthood, meanwhile, says it's putting $1.5 million behind an ad warning that the Supreme Court's decision will "trigger[] a ban on nearly all abortions in Wisconsin" because of an 1849 law outlawing abortion that's still on the books. She explains that Sen. Ron Johnson "sided with them on overturning Roe v. Wade—punishing doctors and hurting people. Putting our health and reproductive rights in danger." The voice-over concludes, "Johnson even said, if you don't like it, you can move." (Yep, he sure did.)

What's surprising is hearing an organization like EMILY's List use the term "pro-life"—a dastardly bit of Orwellian rhetoric deployed by the right for decades that has worked wonders to soften the image of a cruel movement designed to render women second-class citizens. Planned Parenthood wisely avoids the problem by eschewing labels altogether and simply describing the implications of Johnson's vision.

WA-Sen: Tiffany Smiley, who is the only serious Republican challenging Democratic incumbent Patty Murray, has released an internal from The Tarrance Group showing her trailing the senator only 48-43. An early June survey for the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling for the Northwest Progressive Institute gave Murray a larger 51-40 edge, but the Democrat has been taking this contest seriously. Politico reports that Murray has spent over $1 million on her opening ad campaign, including a recent spot where an OB-GYN warned, "You think women's reproductive health care is safe here in Washington? Not with Mitch McConnell's handpicked candidate in the U.S. Senate, Tiffany Smiley."

Governors

AZ-Gov: Former Rep. Matt Salmon announced Tuesday that he was dropping out of the August Republican primary, saying, “Unfortunately, numbers are numbers, and it has become clear to me that the path to a first-place victory is no longer a realistic possibility.” While Salmon only narrowly lost the 2002 general election for this post to Democrat Janet Napolitano, he lagged in polls and fundraising in his second campaign 20 years later.

The former congressman’s departure five weeks ahead of the primary leaves former TV news anchor Kari Lake, who has Trump’s endorsement, and Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson as the only two major GOP contenders. Self-funding businesswoman Paola Tulliani Zen is also in, but while she recently aired an ad declaring, “I’m going to cut the fat off our government like I cut the fat off my prosciutto,” she’s otherwise attracted very little attention.

MD-Gov: Goucher College, polling on behalf of the Baltimore Banner and WYPR, finds close contests in both party's July 19 primaries.

On the Democratic side, the school gives state Comptroller Peter Franchot the edge with 16% as former nonprofit head Wes Moore and former Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez are just behind with 14% each; former Attorney General Doug Gansler is a distant fourth with just 5%, while a 35% plurality of respondents are undecided. The only other independent poll we've seen here was an early June OpinionWorks poll that also put Franchot on top with 20% as Moore and Perez took 15% and 12%, respectively.

In the Republican primary, Goucher has Del. Dan Cox outpacing former state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz 25-22, with 44% undecided and no other candidates breaking 3%. OpinionWorks earlier this month gave Schulz, who has termed-out Gov. Larry Hogan's endorsement, a 27-21 advantage over the Trump-backed Cox.

House

AZ-01: Self-funder Elijah Norton's newest GOP primary commercial against incumbent David Schweikert features the congressman's former campaign treasurer, Karen Garrett, expressing some choice words about her old boss and the scandal that dogged him last cycle. Garrett tells the audience that Schweikert "reported a fraudulent $100,000 loan, $279,000 in illegal contributions, and more than $500,000 missing." She concludes, "Then he blamed his staff. He lied to us. Discovering the kind of person David has become has been one of the heartbreaks of my life."

FL-02: The local firm Sachs Media gives Republican Rep. Neal Dunn a small 43-40 edge over his Democratic colleague, Al Lawson, in the first poll we've seen of this incumbent vs. incumbent matchup. There's reason to think the undecided voters lean Republican, though: The sample also favors Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis 53-41 in a general election against Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist (Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is also seeking the Democratic nod for governor, was not tested), which closely matches Trump's 55-44 performance here in 2020.

FL-04: Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry on Tuesday became the latest prominent Republican to endorse state Sen. Aaron Bean in the August primary for this open seat.

FL-23: Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz has earned an endorsement from Hillary Clinton ahead of the Democratic primary.

FL-27: State Sen. Annette Taddeo has released an internal from SEA Polling and Strategic Design that shows her outpacing Miami Commissioner Ken Russell 51-15 in the Democratic primary to take on freshman Republican Rep. María Elvira Salazar.

OH-09: Democratic incumbent Marcy Kaptur is using her first TV ad against her opponent, QAnon-aligned activist J.R. Majewski, to highlight the Republican's involvement in the Jan. 6 attack. The narrator recounts, "He broke past the police barricades at the Jan. 6 Capitol riot" as the audience sees photos of Majewski in the crowd, continuing, "140 police officers were injured, one died." The speaker, who is now identified as a local voter, goes on to praise Kaptur's record supporting the police and funding a new jail before adding, "Look, reckless guys waving assault weapons don't make our families safer, more police in our neighborhoods do."

Ballot Measures

AK Ballot: Alaskans will vote this November on whether to hold a state constitutional convention, and the Alaska Beacon's Lisa Phu writes that this once-in-a-decade referendum has become an abortion rights battleground now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade. The Alaska Supreme Court in 1997 recognized that the state's governing document protects the right to an abortion, and pro-choice groups are urging voters to keep the status quo in place by voting "no."

Anti-choice forces, likewise, understand that a victory for the "yes" side would give them a chance to outlaw abortion in a state where it's otherwise difficult to amend the state constitution. It takes two-thirds of both the state House and Senate to put a constitutional amendment proposal on the ballot, and while two state Senate committees last year advanced a proposal reading, "To protect human life, nothing in this constitution may be construed to secure or protect a right to an abortion or require the State to fund an abortion," it failed to receive a floor vote in either chamber. Senate Republicans and their one Democratic ally currently hold a 14-6 supermajority, but the House is run by a coalition of Democrats, independents, and a few Republicans.  

If a majority voted "no" this fall, then this referendum would next take place in 2032. (Alaska is one of 14 states where constitutional convention questions automatically appear on the ballot after a set number of years; in 2012, "no" won 67-33.) If "yes" came out on top, however, the lieutenant governor's office says, "The process could take as long as four-plus years or, depending on the legislature, it could be as short as, say, two years." Phu explains that after the convention finished its work, voters would need to approve any amendments or other revisions to the constitution. The Last Frontier held its last constitutional convention in 1955 and 1956, which was a few years before Alaska became a state.

CA Ballot, VT Ballot: On Tuesday night, both chambers of California's Democratic-led legislature mustered up the two-thirds majorities needed to place a constitutional amendment on November's ballot that would affirm that "the state shall not deny or interfere with an individual's reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions, which includes their fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives."

Politico explains that, while "[p]rivacy rights already embedded in the state Constitution have been widely interpreted as protecting the right to abortion," Democratic leaders want to do everything they can to avoid any legal ambiguity especially now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned. Back in February, Vermont's Democratic-controlled legislature voted to place a similar constitutional amendment on its general election ballot that would safeguard "reproductive autonomy." Civiqs finds that at least 70% of registered voters in both states believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: On the very day of the special election to fill the vacancy caused by his resignation, former Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry learned that he would receive zero time in jail after he was convicted in March of lying to federal investigators in an effort to conceal illegal campaign funds he received from a foreign national.

Remarkably, U.S. District Court Judge Stanley Blumenfeld handed down the light sentence—two years of probation, community service, and a fine—because he concluded that "by all accounts the man is of exceptional character," adding, "The court is convinced that this wrongful, dishonest choice was out of character by Mr. Fortenberry." Making the sentence all the more inexplicable, Fortenberry still denies wrongdoing and once again said he would appeal—the very opposite of the sort of showing of contrition that might motivate a judge toward leniency.

Ad Roundup

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

Hillary Clinton gets brutally honest about what our nation needs to do if we want to heal post-Trump

Less than one week after a group of pro-Trump insurgents rioted and stormed the U.S. Capitol, former U.S. secretary of state and 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton published a smart, somber analysis in The Washington Post. Surprising few, Clinton calls for Donald Trump to be impeached. She discusses the grief, horror, and trauma that comes with an insurgency at the Capitol. But she also discusses the white supremacy that enabled Trump—who wasn’t surprised by the violent riot in Washington, D.C. last week—and, perhaps most importantly, what President-elect Joe Biden must prioritize as president. 

Let’s discuss her op-ed below.

Clinton (accurately) points out that Trump ran for office “on a vision of America where whiteness is valued at the expense of everything else.” During his time in the White House, he emboldened white supremacists and conspiracy theorists and sowed a deep mistrust in some of the nation’s fundamental values, like a free and fair election, for example. Most recently, Clinton argues, when it came to the riotous attack on the Capitol, “Trump left no doubt about his wishes, in the lead-up to Jan. 6 and with his incendiary words before his mob descended.”

The obvious answer most Democrats, progressives, moderates, and even some Republicans agree on? We need to prosecute the domestic terrorists who attacked the Capitol. But as Clinton points out, it’s not actually enough to merely “scrutinize — and prosecute“ them. According to Clinton, “We all need to do some soul-searching of our own.”

Clinton points out that many, many people in this nation were not in the least bit surprised by what happened last Wednesday. Who? Many people of color. Why? Because, as Clinton puts it, “a violent mob waving Confederate flags and hanging nooses is a familiar sight in American history.” In bringing us through recent horrors, Clinton references police violence during Black Lives Matter protests and stresses the fact that if we want unity and some degree of healing, that process “starts with recognizing that this is indeed part of who we are.”

In practical terms, Clinton outlines a few key starting points. She wants to see social media platforms held accountable in efforts to stop the spread of violent speech, new state and federal laws to hold white supremacists accountable, and tracking the insurgents who stormed the Capitol. 

In the biggest, most immediate picture, Clinton wants to see Trump impeached and believes the Congress members who enabled him should resign immediately. Unsurprisingly, she also argues that “those who conspired with the domestic terrorists should be expelled immediately.”

There are currently 159 House members and 24 senators who are on record supporting impeachment and removal. Regardless of where your members of Congress stand, please send them a letter.

Hillary Clinton has to be tired of waiting 4 years for the country to realize she was right

Hillary Clinton called it four years ago when she pointed out then-Republican nominee Donald Trump’s propensity to cry system rigging when he happened to face an undesired result. "You know, every time Donald thinks things are not going in his direction, he claims whatever it is is rigged against him," she said during the final presidential debate of 2016. "He lost the Iowa caucus. He lost the Wisconsin primary. He said the Republican primary was rigged against him. Then Trump University gets sued for fraud and racketeering; he claims the court system and the federal judge is rigged against him. There was even a time when he didn't get an Emmy for his TV program three years in a row and he started tweeting that the Emmys were rigged against him. This, this is a mindset. This is how Donald thinks, and it's funny. But it's also really troubling."

Most of us are seeing the “really troubling” part now amid Trump’s effort and Republican leaders’ collective blind eye to discrediting Trump’s election loss to President-elect Joe Biden. Former national security advisor John Bolton said Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Trump isn’t exactly acting out of character, so it’s time for other Republicans to start setting a better example. “It's critical for other Republican leaders to stand up and explain what actually happened: Donald Trump lost what, by any evidence we have so far, was a free and fair election,” Bolton said.

#MarchForTrump #TrumpConcede #MillionMAGAMarch She warned us. Just sayin pic.twitter.com/kbeX7O9L1r

— sketchy_Jeff (@sketchy_jeff) November 14, 2020

I remember with great detail when the former secretary of state had to concede the 2016 election to a reality TV star. I can't imagine the humility that took, but she did it. Trump at least gets to concede to a former vice president, but he’s making no such concession by his account. He’s instead taken to his usual name-calling and alleging that the election was “rigged” against him. 

Rudy will be interviewed by @MariaBartiromo at 10:00 A.M. NOW! https://t.co/ExPIgqtIAV

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2020

“John Bolton was one of the dumbest people in government that I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ to work with,” the president tweeted Sunday. “A sullen, dull and quiet guy, he added nothing to National Security except, ‘Gee, let’s go to war.’ Also, illegally released much Classified Information. A real dope!”

NEW: Former National Security Adviser John Bolton urges GOP leadership to "explain to our voters... that in fact Trump has lost the election and that these claims of election fraud are baseless." https://t.co/z6SZ06zbP3 pic.twitter.com/GyXya7xYAv

— ABC News (@ABC) November 15, 2020

That “dope” has been through five presidential transitions, Bolton pointed out on Twitter. “...and every day that he delays under the pretense that he's simply asking for his legal remedies ultimately is to the country's disadvantage,” Bolton said of the president.

In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Bolton also negated the previously floated theory that accepting the election results would cost Republican leaders too high a political price. "Well, I have trust in the Republican voters. I believe that if their leaders explain to them that Trump lost fair and square, and that the facts do not support his claims that the election was stolen, that they will come to accept it,” Bolton said. “But if they only hear from Donald Trump it’s not unnatural for them to think, ‘since nobody else on our side of the aisle is disagreeing that what he’s saying is accurate,’ and I think that lays the basis for real distrust in the system, casting doubt on the integrity of our electoral system, the constitutional process.”

Fmr. US national security adviser John Bolton says history will remember Donald Trump "as a failed President." "He missed a huge... range of opportunities internationally for the United States because he couldn't focus his attention long enough to develop coherent policies." pic.twitter.com/dVEHaLloXk

— CNN (@CNN) November 15, 2020

Bolton’s not wrong, a bit hypocritical considering he wasn’t exactly willing to take a step outside of party lines to divulge details that could’ve been useful during Trump’s impeachment hearings. Then, he was perfectly content solely dangling knowledge of the president’s alleged quid pro quo to promote sales of his book, but now he’s calling on the same Republicans he mimicked in cowardice to risk themselves to acknowledge the truth. Something in me says it just doesn’t work that way, but I’ll admit it would be nice. "We need Republicans to tell the truth too,” Bolton said. “It's not that hard." Apparently, it is. 

RELATED: Trump's lawsuit against John Bolton is pointless, incompetent, and weak

The Georgia run-off is January 5th. Request an absentee ballot by Nov. 18. Early in-person voting starts Dec. 14. And REGISTER TO VOTE here by Dec. 7.

And give $3 right now to rip the Senate majority from Mitch McConnell’s cold dead hands.

It’s time to get in Good Trouble to preserve the legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Of course we’re crying. A woman who held us all up for so, so long has finally laid down her burden after the literal fight of a lifetime. We’re hurting. We’re afraid. We miss her already

But Republicans are already celebrating the death of pioneering Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as an opportunity. Donald Trump is calling on Republicans to act quickly to confirm whatever nominee he puts forward. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is contemplating whether a no-witnesses impeachment can be topped with a no-hearings confirmation. Ted Cruz is thinking about nothing except what he won’t be wearing under that black robe. Tom Cotton is speeding through his collection of KKK-approved all-white handkerchiefs mopping up all of the drool. And Josh Hawley is … probably shooting something.

There is absolutely no doubt that the GOP will now engage in the Hypocrisy Olympics, working hard to master the art of the 180-degree turn and racing to put Trump’s nominee across the line in record time. But a mere willingness start a hell-in-a-handbasket assembly line may not be enough to put another butt in Ginsburg’s seat on the Court before it even has a chance to cool. Democrats are not about to roll over. This is a fight worth having.

2020 may have robbed us of both Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Rep. John Lewis, but it’s time to get in Good Trouble. And there are multiple ways to fight.

“From where I sit, Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dying wish was not that McConnell would do the right thing. She knew he wouldn't. It was that we would FIGHT LIKE HELL to preserve her legacy.” — Elie Mystal, The Nation

Hillary Clinton has offered a three-part plan for fighting against the rapid replacement of Justice Ginsburg: 

1) Win over GOP Senators on principle.

There are dozens of Republicans who barely finished articulating why there could not be a nomination for a Justice during an election year. Not only did many of them voice this in 2016, some of them have continued to do so over the last four years in the most adamant terms; terms that having included things like “even if this was a Republican president.” It’s included telling America to “use my words against me” if they didn’t hold true to this claim. It may seem that there are no Republicans left willing to stand up for any principle, especially one they created out of convenience in the last election cycle, but that feeds right into the next point.

2) Pressure GOP Senators in tight re-election bids.

There are definitely Republicans in red states who will feel like falling in line behind Trump and McConnell is the only option. But there are also those—like Susan Collins—who are already finding that standing too close to Trump is leaving them with radiation burns. Push them. Make this an issue. There’s absolutely no doubt that, no matter who Trump nominates, it will be some Federalist Society-approved ultraconservative, ready to tear down everything Justice Ginsburg accomplished and paint the nation in a shade of industrial repression gray. Make it clear that anyone voting for Trump’s nominee—anyone who even supports a vote on Trump’s nominee—is supporting the reversal of every gain made under Ginsburg. 

3) Use procedural obstacles in the Senate.

There are not nearly as many obstacles here as there used to be, because the idea that the Senate runs on rules has been simply discarded by McConnell—who regularly discards the idea of regular order to simply do as he pleases. Still, there are some shreds remaining. To start with, Democrats must refuse  a continuing resolution so long as there is any threat of McConnell forwarding a nominee. Unless there is a binding agreement—an agreement that goes way beyond McConnell’s word—shut it all the #$%@ down. In addition, Democrats must deny the Senate unanimous consent. Not just unanimous consent on the nomination, but on everything. The Senate has less than two weeks of scheduled sessions in the remainder of the year. Democrats need to deploy every possible roadblock to scheduling hearings, holding hearings, bringing a nominee forward, scheduling a vote … these are delaying tactics, and there’s little doubt that McConnell will run over them all. Only, if the polls start to show that Americans aren’t happy about the nominee or the process, McConnell might start to lose some of these procedural votes.

And Americans are already not happy.

In Times/Siena polls of Maine, North Carolina and Arizona released Friday, voters preferred Mr. Biden to select the next Supreme Court justice by 12 percentage points, 53 percent to 41 percent. In each of the three states, Mr. Biden led by just a slightly wider margin on choosing the next justice than he did over all.

According to that poll, the desire to see Biden pick the nominee is actually higher than the base support for Biden. This could very well mean that the importance of this issue gets driven home to Republicans up for reelection in a very visible way.

But if any of the above is going to happen, it’s also going to have to happen in the streets, on the phones, and in every forum where Democrats—and everyone else—can make it clear that the legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg must be preserved at all cost. She carried us this far. Now we have to carry her dream.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s body isn’t even cold and Mitch McConnell is dancing on her grave. This is war. Dems have powerful weapons. Now is the time to use them.

— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) September 19, 2020

Journalism 101 fail: NYT article lets Republicans lie and attack, but can’t find Democrat to respond

What the hell is going on at The New York Times? This question has arisen far too often in the past few years, most recently last week after James Bennet, the paper’s now-former editorial page editor, pitched and then published—without reading it first, allegedly—a fascist op-ed by Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas. They were rightly reamed for it, with their own 2020 Pulitzer Prize winner and "The 1619 Project" creator Nikole Hannah-Jones leading the way, saying, “As a black woman, as a journalist, as an American, I am deeply ashamed that we ran this.".

So that was a poor decision by the opinion department, but surely the folks in the Times’ news department are doing their level best and practicing solid journalism, right? They’ve learned the hard and necessary lessons from the absurdly irresponsible, obsessive way they covered “her emails” in 2016, while downplaying investigations and actual wrongdoing by The Man Who Ended Up Losing The Popular Vote, right?

Well, from what I saw in a recent Sunday edition, not so much.

Like so many New York stories, we must begin in Central Park. I was sitting on the Great Lawn—appropriately distanced from a few friends, of course—and reading the Sunday Times news section when I started muttering. Then I humphed. Then I just slapped the newspaper with the back of my hand and said, “Sorry to interrupt, guys, but you gotta hear this.”

The article that prompted my outburst was one that I initially figured would be pretty dull. “Trump Wanted a Pre-Virus Convention Crowd, or None At All,” was the print headline (it’s slightly different online). The piece focused on Trump’s threat to move the Republican National Convention from Charlotte, North Carolina (we now know that most of the convention activities, including the nomination acceptance speech, will take place in Jacksonville, Florida). The story focused on the impeached president’s dismay with the Tar Heel State’s Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who wouldn’t guarantee that Republicans could pack people together on the convention floor and party like it was 2019.

The article’s first quote came from Ada Fisher, a national committeewoman for North Carolina’s Republican Party. Unsurprisingly, she blamed Democrats. “There are a lot of liberal, establishment people here who just don’t like the Republican Party. People didn’t want it to happen just because Republicans were involved. But Charlotte can’t stand to lose $200 million in revenue right now.” Standard Republican boilerplate: The Democrats are a bunch of meanies. She even managed to work in both “liberal” and “establishment” as slurs. Well played, Ms. Fisher.

The next quote was from Orange Julius Caesar himself, who’d informed Cooper how stupendously North Carolina had been treated by the White House; he’d sent lots of tests and ventilators, see, as well as the National Guard. “I think we’ve done a good job!” and “We gave you a lot!” and more of the same. About what you’d expect from Trump.

Republican National Committee chair Ronna (don’t call me Romney) McDaniel’s letter to the convention’s host committee was next; essentially, she blamed the Democrats. If you’re wondering if, at any point in this journey so far, the Times offered any response from North Carolina Democrats, you already know the answer to that.

Two more Republicans weighed in before the final quotes came from the Republican state chair from Connecticut, J.R. Romano, who criticized Gov. Cooper’s supposedly over-aggressive requirements regarding wearing masks and social distancing: “We’re adults,” Romano said. “We all know the risks. If someone wants to wear a face mask, they can. If someone doesn’t, they’re taking a risk. I don’t think they had to make this mandatory.”

It is worth noting that Thursday was the fourth day in a row that coronavirus hospitalizations in North Carolina hit a new high.

I couldn’t believe that Romano’s nonsense was the end of the article. I kept waiting for the pushback, a quote from Cooper, or one his aides or allies, about the need to be careful because of the virus, or how decisions on the convention would be governed by science, or how they’d have to see how the outbreak looks in the coming weeks, or that they’d love to host the Republicans, but social distancing rules will still probably be necessary. Anything along those lines would’ve worked. Anything.

Could the authors really not find a Democrat in the entire state or country to go on record here? How did they submit this piece without making sure they at least found one? Did they even notice the imbalance? Where were their editors? There are multiple layers of editorial oversight, one would imagine, for an article on national politics that runs in the main print section of the Sunday New York Times. Did nobody ask, “Hey, can you find a quote from a frickin’ Democrat?” I’ve never worked as an editor at the Gray Lady, but that question came to mind before I was halfway through the piece.

The article did summarize the respective positions of Cooper and Trump, as well as their conversations, yet only Trump and Republicans were given space to defend their positions. Republicans’ assertions about the motivations of North Carolina Democrats also went unchallenged by the authors, other than a brief mention—far from any Republican statements—that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended mask-wearing and social distancing.

The article was written by Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman. While Karni has not faced significant criticism over her work in the past, Haberman has been called out before for pro-Trump, pro-Republican reporting. Trump has also attacked Haberman, but given that he has attacked the entire journalism profession, such attacks are a badge of honor and don’t mean anyone’s actually been unfair to him or his administration. Haberman’s critics maintain the opposite.

In May 2019, Haberman wrote an article for the Times about Hope Hicks, who had left her position as White House communications director a year earlier, then received a subpoena to testify before the House regarding her former boss and obstruction of justice (remember the Mueller report?). Haberman’s article explored whether Hicks would, you know, actually comply with the law. Yet some folks were concerned that the decision to commit a crime was framed, by Haberman, as “an existential question.”

What gets me is news breaks that this woman is weighing committing a crime before Congress &it�s getting framed by the NYT as some Lifetime drama called �Hope�s Choice.� This is a fmr admin official considering participating in a coverup led by the President. Treat her equally. https://t.co/XcNbSuU4QB

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 26, 2019

Anyway: Here's a dare for @maggieNYT, since she wants to write about what happens when women defy a subpoena. Write a similar story about @xychelsea, who is in jail for defying a subpoena.

— emptywheel (@emptywheel) May 26, 2019

There is nothing for Hope Hicks to �decide.� She got a subpoena from Congress. Were she not white, wealthy, and connected, we wouldn�t be having this conversation. She would appear, or she would face the threat of prison like the rest of us. As she should. https://t.co/giDCcvIxvf

— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) May 26, 2019

One Vanity Fair headline referred to Haberman as a “Trump Whisperer,” citing her “closeness—and fairness—to the president.” Fairness is a subjective term, but I have a hard time seeing it as fair to Roy Cooper or North Carolina Democrats that Haberman and Karni’s article quoted five angry Republicans, but not one Democrat.

Beyond the problems with Haberman’s reporting specifically, one of the biggest problems with the so-called mainstream media writ large is something called “bothsidesism,” also known as false equivalency. Bothsidesism occurs when reporters cover an issue simply by presenting the opposing views of Democrats and Republicans as equivalent, irrespective of which side is telling the truth.

Laila Lalami, writing in in The Nation, describes bothsidesism as when journalists “give space to both sides of any story, no matter what the facts show, leaving them open to manipulation by surrogates acting in bad faith and, more worrying, making it harder for ordinary citizens to remain informed and engaged.” Nancy LeTourneau, writing for Washington Monthly, notes that “For those of us who are trying to keep the door to being open-minded cracked at least a little bit, this both-siderism has a kind of gaslighting effect. You begin to question whether what you are witnessing with your own two eyes is real.”

At the Columbia Journalism Review, Jon Allsop went in-depth on bothsidesism and the Times during the impeachment of Donald Trump.

As impeachment has progressed, attacks on the “both sides” approach—and the Times, in particular—have intensified. Over the weekend, critics trained their ire on an article in the paper, headlined “The Breach Widens as Congress Nears a Partisan Impeachment,” about a debate in the Judiciary Committee. Nate Silver, of FiveThirtyEight, noted that the actual words “both sides” appeared four times in the piece. (One of these was in a quotation.) Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at NYU, listed 12 more snippets from the article as evidence of the Times’s inability to handle what he calls “asymmetrical polarization.” They included “the different impeachment realities that the two parties are living in,” “both sides engaged in a kind of mutually assured destruction,” and “the two parties could not even agree on a basic set of facts in front of them.”

Rosen is right that this sort of language is inadequate: Democrats, for the most part, are engaging with the factual record; Republicans, for the most part, are not. These positions are manifestly not equivalent. Treating them as such does not serve any useful concept of fairness; instead, it rebounds clearly to the advantage of the one side (Republicans) for whom nonsense being taken seriously is a victory in itself. The Times is far from the only culprit.

The Times also blew it when covering Trump’s remarks after back-to-back mass shootings in August 2019—one of which was carried out by a racist who specifically targeted Latinx Americans. The initial headline—in all caps (something done relatively rarely, as it indicates special importance)—read “TRUMP URGES UNITY VS. RACISM.” Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, among many others, pushed back hard on that framing.

Lives literally depend on you doing better, NYT. Please do. https://t.co/L4CpCb8zLi

— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) August 6, 2019

After facing a lot of heat, the headline was changed to “ASSAILING HATE BUT NOT GUNS.” A spokesperson for the Times admitted that “The headline was bad and has been changed for the second edition.” Executive editor Dean Baquet also called it a “bad headline.” The final headline, at least online, reads: “Trump Condemns White Supremacy but Stops Short of Major Gun Controls.” The Confederacy’s Biggest Fan, of course, still liked the original headline best, calling it “the correct description” of what he’d said.

What mattered, in the context of the mass shootings, was that Trump had declared a refusal to support any significant new gun control measures, such as universal background checks, or bans on high capacity ammunition magazines. However, the Times’  first instinct was to praise Trump as an anti-racist unifier. Let that choice sink in.

It’s bad enough when reporters at mainstream media outlets are so afraid of being accused of showing “liberal bias” that they engage in bothsidesism and false equivalency. Regarding the Sunday Times article about the RNC, presenting both sides would have been an improvement, as the authors literally only gave us one side of a political story in which Democrats and Republicans disagreed. Yet what the article on the battle over the RNC convention shares with other New York Times pieces that are guilty of bothsidesism is the willingness to bend over backward to help Republicans. And they call that paper the liberal media.

There are no quick fixes here for The Times. As for constructive criticism, journalists at The Times could do a lot worse than to listen to the aforementioned Professor Rosen. Rosen diagnosed the crux of the paper’s problem a couple of years ago (and is as good a media critic as there is), in a long analysis that’s worth reading. One quote in particular hits the nail on the head.

“Remember when the Washington Post came out with its new motto, “Democracy Dies in Darkness?” It put Post journalism on the side of keeping democracy alive. Dean Baquet, executive editor of the Times, made fun of it. ‘Sounds like the next Batman movie,’ he said.”

You know what they say about the fish rotting from the head down? Perhaps the entire staff, top to bottom, could undergo the kind of training they did at The Telegraph (UK), which Rosen also cited as a way to help mainstream media journalists unlearn some of their worst habits.

To paraphrase Ted “Theodore” Logan, strange things are afoot at The New York Times, and not at all in the cool, “I just met George Carlin outside the Circle K” kind of way. In all seriousness, what The Times did here is reflective of what’s been going on for generations. In 1969, Vice President Spiro Agnew drew up the playbook for Republican liars attacking the media in order to intimidate them into providing more favorable coverage; the Koch brothers have kept that tradition alive. In sports, this is called “working the refs,” and Paul Krugman rightly applied the term to the imbalance in how the media covered Trump as compared to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

To the detriment of American politics, the American people, and our democracy, we’ve had four more years of this media malpractice since then. If mainstream media outlets keep this up, and we end up with four more of Trump as a result, there may not be much of a free media left to cover his second term. It’s on all of us to do our part between now and November to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Ian Reifowitz is the author of  The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh's Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump (Foreword by Markos Moulitsas)

Morning Digest: GOP primary for swingy New Mexico House seat reaches new low in nastiness

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

NM-02: The June 2 GOP contest to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small in New Mexico's 2nd District turned negative a long time ago, and it may now be the ugliest primary anywhere in the country.

The Associated Press' Russell Contreras reported Tuesday that 2018 nominee Yvette Herrell had texted with a conservative cartoonist named Roger Rael about a meme Rael was creating that suggested that Herrell's main rival, businesswoman Claire Chase, had been unfaithful to her first husband. Herrell showed a close interest in Rael's illustration, going so far as to inform him about multiple spelling errors: "It should say gold digging, not good digging," she wrote, adding, "Let me send them in the morning. There are a couple of more."

Campaign Action

Herrell's campaign did acknowledge that she had communicated with Rael, who it just so happens is currently under indictment for what Contreras describes as "disorderly conduct and criminal damage to property charges in connection with an alleged attack on a Republican state House candidate." However, Herrell's spokesperson claimed that Rael had incessantly messaged Herrell, saying that her texts only came in response to his. (What better way to fend off unwelcome texting than to turn into the grammar police?) Herrell also put out a statement saying, "I have never attempted to use personal rumors about Claire in this race, and will never do so. Neither has my campaign."

Chase, unsurprisingly, was not appeased, and she called for Herrell to drop out of the primary. Chase's former husband, Ben Gray, issued his own statement slamming Herrell: "I can't believe Yvette Herrell would try to use me in this false, disgusting attack," he wrote. Gray, who said he was still friends with Chase and is a member of a group called Veterans for Claire, added, "What kind of person would smear a Veteran to win a political campaign?"

But even before these latest developments, this was a messy campaign. Both candidates launched ads last month that accused the other of trying to undermine Donald Trump in 2016; Herrell's commercial even employed a narrator who used what Nathan Gonzalez described as a "ditzy tone" to impersonate Chase. Gonzalez, who titled his article, "The campaign attack ad no man could get away with," also characterized the spot as "one of the most sexist campaign ads in recent memory."

Whoever makes it out of next month's primary will emerge bruised, but the winner will still have a chance to beat Torres Small simply because of the district's conservative demographics: This southern New Mexico seat supported Donald Trump 50-40, and Daily Kos Elections rates the general election a Tossup.

But Torres Small, who defeated Herrell 51-49 last cycle, had nearly $3 million in the bank to defend herself at the end of March, while her prospective opponents didn't have anywhere close to that much. Herrell enjoyed a $378,000 to $264,000 cash-on-hand lead over Chase while a third candidate, self-funder Chris Mathys, had $200,000 to spend.

Election Changes

Florida: The Democratic super PAC Priorities USA, along with two other organizations and several voters, has filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to relax a number of Florida laws related to absentee voting for the state's Aug. 18 primaries and the November general election. In particular, the plaintiffs want absentee ballots to count so long as they are postmarked by Election Day and received within 10 days; currently, ballots must be received by 7 PM local time on Election Day. They're also asking that the state pay the postage on return envelopes for mail-in ballots, and that Florida's ban on paid organizers assisting with ballot collection be lifted.

Nevada: Nevada Democrats and their national counterparts have withdrawn their legal challenge seeking a number of changes to the state's June 2 primary after officials in Clark County acceded to two of their biggest demands. According to a court filing, plaintiffs say that Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria has agreed to mail ballots to all voters, not just those listed as "active," and will add two in-person voting sites, for a total of three.

Officials in other parts of the state have made more limited concessions, per the filing, but Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, is home to 71% of Nevada voters and 81% of all "inactive" voters in the state. Democrats also say they plan to continue pressing their claims for the general election.

North Carolina: Several North Carolina voters, backed by voting rights organizations, have brought a lawsuit asking a state court to relax a number of laws related to absentee voting for the November general election. In particular, the plaintiffs want absentee ballots to count so long as they are postmarked by Election Day and received within nine days, which is the same deadline for military voters; currently, ballots must be postmarked by Election Day and received within just three days.

They're also asking for an expanded definition of the term "postmark" to include modern imprints like barcodes, and in the event a postmark does not include a date, they want officials "to presume that the ballot was mailed on or before Election Day unless the preponderance of the evidence demonstrates it was mailed after Election Day."

In addition, plaintiffs want the state to pay for postage for both absentee ballot applications and ballots, and they want the court to waive the requirement that absentee voters have their ballots either notarized or signed by two witnesses. Finally, plaintiffs are requesting that voters be given the opportunity to correct any issues if their signatures allegedly do not match those on file.

Oklahoma: The Oklahoma Supreme Court has struck down a requirement that absentee ballots be notarized and issued an order prohibiting officials from sending out ballots or other voting materials suggesting that notarization is still mandatory. Last month, the League of Women Voters challenged the notary requirement, calling it antithetical to stemming the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The court's decision, however, was not grounded in public health but rather a state law that allows a signed statement made under penalty of perjury to suffice in lieu of a notarization in most cases where an affidavit is called for.

Senate

CO-Sen: Businesswoman Michelle Ferrigno Warren's campaign came to an end on Monday when the Colorado Supreme Court unanimously reversed a lower-court ruling that had placed her on the June 23 Democratic primary ballot. Denver District Court Judge Christopher Baumann had ordered Warren onto the ballot last month even though she didn't have enough signatures after deciding that, in light of disruptions caused by social distancing, she had collected enough to justify her place in the primary. However, the state's highest court ultimately ruled that only the legislature has the authority to change how many petitions are needed.

This could spell very bad news for another candidate, nonprofit head Lorena Garcia. Baumann had also ordered Garcia onto the primary ballot for the same reason he had applied to Warren, but Secretary of State Jena Griswold's office announced Monday evening that she was appealing his decision to the state Supreme Court.

GA-Sen-A: 2017 House nominee Jon Ossoff is out with a new statewide ad ahead of the June 9 Democratic primary that prominently features Rep. John Lewis and touts his endorsement. Lewis speaks positively of Ossoff, imploring voters to support him and "send Donald Trump a message he will never forget", while clips of the pair appearing together are shown.

Lewis and Ossoff have a relationship that dates back several years. Ossoff previously interned for the civil rights icon and Atlanta-area congressman, while Lewis was one of Ossoff's earliest supporters in his 2017 special election bid for the 6th Congressional District.

ME-Sen: The Democratic group Senate Majority PAC is out with a health care-themed spot, supported with a six-figure buy, attacking Republican Sen. Susan Collins. The ad ties Collins to the pharmaceutical industry and also states that she "voted against Mainers with pre-existing conditions and for corporate special interests." The commercial, which also shows images of Collins seated alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, closes by saying, "Money changes everything, even Susan Collins."

NC-Sen, NC-Gov: A new poll conducted by Democratic pollster Civiqs on behalf of Daily Kos shows Democrats well ahead in North Carolina's Senate and gubernatorial contests. (Civiqs and Daily Kos are owned by the same parent company.) Cal Cunningham leads GOP Sen. Thom Tillis 50-41, while Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper posts a similar 53-44 edge against Republican Dan Forest; this sample also finds Joe Biden ahead 49-46.

This is the largest lead we've seen for Cunningham since he won the primary in early March, though we still don't have too many other polls to work with. The conservative Civitas Institute released numbers in mid-April from the GOP firm Harper Polling that showed Tillis ahead 38-34, while the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling found Cunningham ahead 47-40 around that same time. A SurveyUSA poll released last week also had Cunningham ahead just 41-39.

Civiqs does find Cooper taking about the same percentage of the vote as other firms do, but it finds Forest in better shape. While Cooper has consistently posted very strong approval ratings since the coronavirus pandemic began, it seems unlikely that Forest will end up in the mid-30s when all is said and done in this polarized state. Indeed, the last time a major party gubernatorial nominee failed to take at least 42% of the vote was 1980.

TX-Sen: Air Force veteran MJ Hegar picked up an endorsement this week from Rep. Veronica Escobar ahead of the July Democratic primary runoff.

Gubernatorial

MT-Gov: Businesswoman Whitney Williams picked up an endorsement on Tuesday from Hillary Clinton for the June 2 Democratic primary.

Meanwhile, Williams is also out with a commercial where she declares that, while trailblazing women built Montana, Rep. Greg Gianforte and Donald Trump are threatening women now. Williams declares that Trump and the GOP primary frontrunner "want to take away our right to choose. Even restrict birth control. I won't let that happen."

Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, who is Williams' primary opponent, is also out with a TV spot. The narrators say that Cooney worked with outgoing Gov. Steve Bullock to expand healthcare access, protect rural hospitals, and create the jobs "that will steer our economy through this crisis." The ad ends by reminding voters that Bullock and Sen. Jon Tester are backing Cooney.

While the primary is almost a month away, voters will have the chance to cast their ballots very soon. Republican Secretary of State Corey Stapleton announced in March that all 56 Montana counties plan to conduct the state's primary by mail, and that ballots will be mailed out to registered voters on May 8.

House

IA-04: This week, the deep-pocketed U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed state Sen. Randy Feenstra over white supremacist Rep. Steve King in the June 2 GOP primary.

PA-10: Attorney Tom Brier is up with his first TV spot ahead of the June 2 Democratic primary to take on GOP Rep. Scott Perry.

The commercial shows several images of Brier's volunteers as the candidate explains his campaign "has always been about bringing progressive Democrats together. Lots of Democrats who are now volunteering from home." Brier's supporters then say what they believe in, including taking money out of politics, dealing with the opioid crisis, and healthcare for all. Brier ends by telling the viewer, "Apply for your mail-in ballot today."

Brier faces state Auditor Eugene DePasquale, who has the support of the DCCC, in next month's primary, and DePasquale ended March with a large $657,000 to $145,000 cash-on-hand lead. Perry, who narrowly won re-election last cycle, had $816,000 available to defend himself in a seat in the Harrisburg and York area that backed Trump 52-43.

Mayoral

Baltimore, MD Mayor: On behalf of The Citizens for Ethical Progressive Leadership PAC, a group supporting former U.S. Treasury official Mary Miller, the Democratic firm Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group is out with a mid-April poll showing a tight June 2 Democratic primary.

The first survey we’ve seen since mid-March finds that Miller, former Mayor Sheila Dixon, and City Council President Brandon Scott are in a three-way tie with 16% each, while incumbent Jack Young is at 13%. Two other contenders, former Baltimore Police Department spokesman T.J. Smith and former state prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah, are at 11% and 10%, respectively, while 18% are undecided. It only takes a simple plurality to win, and the Democratic nominee should have no trouble in November in this very blue city.

The primary, which was delayed from April 28 to early June because of the coronavirus pandemic, has also turned into a very expensive contest. The Baltimore Sun reports that Miller has raised $800,000 and self-funded an additional $1.5 million this year, which has allowed her to outspend her many opponents; Miller had only $150,000 left in late April, but she may have the resources to self-fund more.

Miller is also the only one of the many major candidates who is white in a city that’s 63% African American and 32% white: The other notable candidates are Black except for Vignarajah, who is the son of Sri Lankan immigrants. Baltimore’s last white mayor was Martin O’Malley, who was elected in 1999 and resigned in early 2007 to become governor of Maryland.

Vignarajah has also been a strong fundraiser, and he had the largest war chest in the field last month with $700,000 in the bank. Scott, who has the backing of several unions, led Dixon in cash-on-hand $415,000 to $300,000, while Young had $202,000 to spend; Young’s campaign said that he’s all but stopped fundraising as he deals with the coronavirus. Smith, meanwhile, was far behind with just $22,000 available.

It would ordinarily be quite surprising to see a crowded race where the incumbent trailing in both the polls and the money contest, but Young has only been in office for about a year. He was elevated from City Council president to mayor when incumbent Catherine Pugh resigned in disgrace (she later was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion charges related to her self-published children's books), and a number of candidates quickly made it clear that they’d challenge Young.

Young’s critics have argued that the veteran local politician isn’t the right person to help Baltimore deal with its long-term problems, and they’ve also taken him to task for his many gaffes. To take one example, Young said of the city’s high homicide rate last year, “I’m not committing the murders, and that’s what people need to understand," and, "How can you fault leadership? This has been five years of 300-plus murders. I don't see it as a lack of leadership."

Several polls taken during the winter showed Young badly trailing, and Mason-Dixon gave him a 28-39 favorable rating in mid-March. However, that was during the early days of the coronavirus crisis in the United States, and we don’t have enough data to indicate if Young's handling of the situation at home has given him a better shot to win a full term this year.

Miller began airing commercials months ago, and she’s largely had the airwaves to herself. Miller also has a new commercial where she tells viewers that Barack Obama brought her on at the Treasury Department during the Great Recession, and argues she has the experience to help Baltimore “come back stronger” from the current pandemic.

Dixon, meanwhile, went up with her first spot last week, which featured several people praising her accomplishments as mayor. Dixon resigned that post in 2010 after she was convicted of stealing gift cards that were supposed to help needy families, but she’s maintained a base of support since then. Dixon ran for mayor again in 2016 and narrowly lost the primary to then-state Sen. Pugh 37-35. Dixon launched a write-in campaign just a month ahead of the competitive general election and took second place with 52,000 votes, which was good for a 58-22 loss.

Vignarajah also recently went up with a new ad that features several locals praising him as a responsive leader. Vignarajah’s supporters say he got them jobs, stopped their water from being shut off, and halted illegal trash dumping. One woman also praises Vignarajah for convicting the men who murdered her young son.