Mitt Romney Claims That Removing Liz Cheney From Leadership Will Cost Republicans ‘Quite A Few’ Votes

On Monday, Sen. Mitt Romney claimed that removing the embattled anti-Trump Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney as House Republican Conference chair will hurt Republicans in upcoming elections.  

Romney wrote on Twitter, “Expelling Liz Cheney from leadership won’t gain the GOP one additional voter, but it will cost us quite a few.”

RELATED: Al Franken Accuses Trump Of Promoting ‘Disinformation’ That Is ‘Very, Very Dangerous’ And ‘Practically Treasonous’

Sen. Romney: ‘Liz Cheney Refuses To Lie’

These comments from the Utah Republican come in the wake of Romney recently praising Cheney.

“Every person of conscience draws a line beyond which they will not go: Liz Cheney refuses to lie,” Romney tweeted.

The senator added, “As one of my Republican Senate colleagues said to me following my impeachment vote: ‘I wouldn’t want to be a member of a group that punished someone for following their conscience.”

Vote To Remove Cheney Scheduled For Wednesday

Cheney is in hot water with her party for voting to impeach Donald Trump and continuing to publicly attack the former president, who is very popular with Republican voters.

Mrs. Cheney drew heat last Monday when she said that anyone who claims the 2020 presidential election was  “poisoning our democratic system.” 

Cheney added, in an obvious rebuke to Trump,  “The 2020 presidential election was not stolen.” 

She continued, “Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.”

As Republicans hope to pick up House seats in 2022, leadership now believes that Cheney has become too much of a distraction and a liability.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) have now both announced they plan to support Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) to replace Cheney as House Republican Conference chair.

A vote on this is scheduled to take place Wednesday.

McCarthy said on Fox News on Sunday, “To defeat Nancy Pelosi and the socialist agenda, we need to be united, and that starts with leadership. That’s why we will have a vote next week, and we want to be united and looking moving forward. I think that’s what will take place.” 

RELATED: GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy Endorses Elise Stefanik To Replace Liz Cheney, Vote Could Come By Wednesday

McCarthy: ‘What We Are Talking About, It’s A Position In leadership’

“Any member can take whatever position they believe in.,” McCarthy continued. “That’s what the voters vote on the individuals, and they make that decision.”

“What we are talking about, it’s a position in leadership,” McCarthy observed.

“We are in one of our biggest battles ever for this nation and the direction of whether this century will be ours,” he finished. “As conference chair, you have the most critical jobs of the messenger going forward.”

 

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Cheney: ‘History is watching.’ House Republicans: Screw that, Trump is watching

Rep. Liz Cheney, for now the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, has decided she cares more about principles and how history will judge her than she does about the Trumpist orthodoxy of today’s Republican Party. For that, she’s about to be ousted from House Republican leadership and replaced by someone more loyal to Trump but less conservative on the issues, with a simple majority vote of the House Republicans coming as soon as next week.

Cheney refuses to participate in the lie that the election was stolen from Trump—the lie that spurred the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol—so Republicans are swiftly moving to strip her of her leadership role and replace her with Rep. Elise Stefanik, who has been all in on the Big Lie. Rep. Steve Scalise, the second-ranking House Republican, has publicly backed Stefanik over Cheney, while House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is reportedly supporting Stefanik behind the scenes after becoming increasingly critical of Cheney in public. And, on Wednesday, Donald Trump himself loudly endorsed Stefanik.

Cheney is defiant, on Wednesday evening publishing a Washington Post op-ed defending her position and calling out McCarthy for having changed his. McCarthy, she accurately charged, has “changed his story” from his Jan. 13 statement that “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.”

“The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution,” she wrote, going on to call for Republicans to support criminal investigations of the Capitol insurrection, support a bipartisan January 6 commission with subpoena power, and “stand for genuinely conservative principles, and steer away from the dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality.”

Most Republican lawmakers, of course, will do nothing of the sort. Instead, Cheney’s House colleagues are set to vote her out next week, replacing her with Stefanik, who was elected as something of a moderate and has a much less conservative lifetime voting record than Cheney. The Club for Growth is not happy about that—though it also doesn’t seem to be defending Cheney—tweeting “Elise Stefanik is NOT a good spokesperson for the House Republican Conference. She is a liberal with a 35% CFGF lifetime rating, 4th worst in the House GOP. House Republicans should find a conservative to lead messaging and win back the House Majority.”

Back in 2017, Stefanik opposed Trump on key issues, like his withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, and voted against the tax law that was the major Republican legislative achievement of the Trump years. In late 2018, she took criticism from male Republicans for trying to help Republican women win primaries. But in 2019, she became one of Trump’s fiercest defenders during his first impeachment. It appears she had realized what would be her quickest path to leadership, and she has continued to remake herself in the Trumpy style, down to the LOTS OF CAPS in a Thursday morning tweet assailing Twitter, a private business, for “unconstitutional overreach” in having suspended her communications director.

To be clear, this is not a fight with a hero and a villain. It’s a fight between someone whose principles are largely punitive far-right ones that do include a basic respect for the democratic process and someone who apparently has no strong principles beyond her own advancement—if being a non-Trumpy Republican looks like the way to go, she’s that, and if Trump looks like the winning horse, she’s riding him. One of them is concerned that “History is watching. Our children are watching”—but is looking to create a Republican Party that is strong enough, in the long term, to hand over the maximum amount of power to the biggest corporations and promote endless war. The other is much less worried about history or policy than about getting the immediate promotion, thankyouverymuch. And today’s Republican Party is with the latter, less tied to any specific principle than to Trump—at least as long as he’s got the biggest megaphone and the most committed base—and definitely willing to jettison little things like election results or any pretense of non-racism to keep the Trump base motivated.

Meghan McCain Calls Trump ‘Cheeto Jesus’ And Defends Liz Cheney

Meghan McCain blasted Republicans for “shivving” Representative Liz Cheney because she supposedly won’t “debase herself to Cheeto Jesus.”

McCain delivered the diatribe during a Wednesday broadcast.

“Let’s cut the crap,” she said. “They’re shivving her for her … saying that the election wasn’t stolen and for refusing to debase herself to Cheeto Jesus.”

She accused House Minority Kevin McCarthy of intentionally saying “I’ve had it with her” on a hot mic during an off-camera moment on Fox & Friends.

Recent reports have indicated that Cheney (WY), the number three Republican in the House, could be ousted from her leadership role before the end of the month.

RELATED: Republicans Moving Closer To Ousting Liz Cheney From Leadership

Meghan McCain’s ‘Cheeto Jesus’ Insult Wasn’t the Worst Thing She Said

Some of the latest reports indicate Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) may be the woman who replaces Cheney.

Stefanik has the support of Trump himself, along with Minority Whip Steve Scalise.

Rather than prop Stefanik up on her leadership credentials, McCain practically accused the GOP of using her on behalf of Trump.

“I feel very defensive of Liz Cheney,” a clearly shaken McCain said. “I promise you there’s going to be consequences.”

“Go ahead in this sausagefest of MAGA up on Capitol Hill!” she continued. “Pull her out and put another woman in who will do anything you want for President Trump.”

McCain then mocked Trump supporters: “The election wasn’t stolen … He’s Jesus.”

RELATED: Trump On 2024: Supporters Will Be ‘Very Happy’ When I Make Announcement

The View’s Token Conservative Had A Liberal-esque Meltdown

McCain seems unable to comprehend that “Cheeto Jesus” insults are just as reprehensible as anything Trump has ever mean-tweeted.

Not to mention the inability to understand that Cheney’s tenuous hold on her leadership role is less about Trump and more about her inability to move on and put the party first.

Remember, it’s the same, as McCain says, “sausagefest of MAGA on Capitol Hill” that supported Cheney despite her impeachment vote back in February. They voted to keep her in the role of leadership, 145-61.

Since then, Cheney has refused to stop talking down to Trump supporters, accusing them of believing “the big lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, has gone after colleagues in her own party who support Trump, and vowed to campaign on impeaching Trump “every day of the week.”

Cheney fist bumps President Biden and seems unable to focus on defeating an administration that supports government funding of abortions, will be taxing the hell out of the American people, and has created a humanitarian crisis at the border.

Meghan McCain’s mom, meanwhile, works for that same administration.

And for some reason they think they can tell you that denouncing Trump – a man who fought to push conservative values as President – is the only way to show you’re a true Republican.

If being a Republican means siding with the Cheneys and McCains of the world, then it’s time for a new party.

 

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Report: Republicans Moving Closer To Ousting Liz Cheney From Leadership

New reports indicate that anti-Trump Representative Liz Cheney, the number three Republican in the House, could be ousted from her leadership role before the end of the month.

The Hill is reporting that top allies of House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) are looking to remove Cheney (R-WY).

“There is no way that Liz will be conference chair by month’s end,” one person close to McCarthy reportedly said. “When there is a vote, it won’t be a long conference; it will be fast. Everyone knows the outcome.”

A second ally labeled her as “a liability” and suggested it isn’t just far-right supporters of Donald Trump who want to see her go.

“This is a broad range of lawmakers who have had it with her,” they claimed. “She’s a liability, and McCarthy’s as fed up as the rest of us that she is focused on the past rather than winning back the House.”

RELATED: Trump Slams ‘Stone-Cold Loser’ Mitt Romney, ‘Big-Shot Warmonger’ Liz Cheney

Here’s Who Republicans Have In Mind To Replace Liz Cheney

Liz Cheney initially received a wave of criticism from her fellow Republicans after she voted to impeach former President Trump due to his alleged incitement of the Capitol protests.

In February, she survived an attempt to remove her from the leadership post by a vote of 145-61.

Rather than moving on, however, Cheney has insisted on launching consistent attacks against Trump, most recently denouncing any supporters who believe “the big lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

Cheney also took a ton of heat for being caught giving Joe Biden a fist bump before the President’s address before a joint session of Congress last week.

Axios is reporting that Republicans are already considering who Cheney’s replacement would be – insisting they would need a woman to fill the position.

“House Republicans are moving closer to ousting Conference Chair Liz Cheney from leadership, and are already considering replacements — including Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Ann Wagner (R-MO) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN),” congressional aides told Axios.

Of those names, Stefanik has been perhaps the most vocal supporter of Trump throughout his administration and was also key in recruiting more GOP women to run in 2020.

“Widely seen as a rising star in the party, she gained popularity for fiercely defending Trump during his first impeachment,” Axios writes, though they add she is also “considering running for governor of New York.”

RELATED: Report: Liz Cheney’s Leadership Role ‘Imperiled’ As Criticism From GOP Colleagues Mounts

Jim Banks Auditioning For The Role?

Contrary to Axios’ reporting that Republican members “recognize Cheney can’t be succeeded by a white man,” Politico is indicating that Jim Banks (R-IN), chair of the Republican Study Committee, has been serving as “shadow chair of the House GOP Conference.”

“Banks’ effort to assemble a rival messaging machine is widely viewed by his colleagues as an audition for Cheney’s job,” they write.

Trump weighed in on the controversy himself on Monday, blasting Cheney as a “warmonger.”

“Heartwarming to read new polls on big-shot warmonger Liz Cheney of the great State of Wyoming,” Trump said in a statement. “She is so low that her only chance would be if vast numbers of people run against her which, hopefully, won’t happen.”

McCarthy (R-CA), who publicly backed Cheney remaining in leadership just two months ago, refused to endorse her as a “good fit” for party leadership.

He is now mentioning rank-and-file concerns about “her ability to carry out her job.”

“I have heard from members concerned about her ability to carry out her job as conference chair, to carry out the message,” said McCarthy.

“We all need to be working as one if we’re able to win the majority,” he added. “Remember, majorities are not given. They are earned.”

 

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With a difficult midterm looming, Democrats have a short window to ban gerrymandering

After winning narrow victories to take full control of the federal government in the 2020 elections, Democrats have a fleeting opportunity to pass major legislation, with a window for action that may close in less than two years. Republicans will dominate the upcoming round of congressional redistricting, and the long-running tendency of the president's party to lose seats in midterms is well-known. But congressional Democrats can flip the script by banning partisan gerrymandering—a move that will both make elections fairer and give the party a better chance to prevail in 2022.

Republican victories in key legislative elections last year mean that the GOP is now positioned to draw new maps in states home to 38% to 46% of districts nationwide. Democrats, by contrast, will hold the cartographer’s pen in just 16% to 17% of all districts, giving the GOP an advantage of two or three to one. This disparity, combined with the threat that the increasingly right-wing Supreme Court may exacerbate the GOP's power to gerrymander within the states they control, means that, without further reforms, the congressional landscape is all but certain to remain skewed toward the GOP in 2022, following after two decades in which it already gave Republicans a large advantage.

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The House isn’t the only chamber where the playing field institutionally favors Republicans. The Senate does as well. Thanks to malapportionment and the legacy of a 19th-century GOP effort to carve out new states for partisan gain, Republicans have a major advantage in excess of their popular support. As a result, rural white voters possess disproportionate power at the expense of urban voters of color.

As our recently compiled spreadsheet illustrates, Senate Republicans have not won more votes or represented more Americans than Democrats since the late 1990s. Nevertheless, they’ve run the body just over half the time since, and this pattern of minority rule that existed continually from 2014-2020 may repeat itself next year. With more Americans increasingly voting straight tickets, it’s become almost impossible for Democrats to win the Senate unless the stars align as they did in 2018 and 2020.

The other major challenge Democrats face next year is that the president's party almost always loses a sizable number of seats in Congress in midterm elections, when opposition voters are energized to vote and the president's supporters are usually demobilized.

This dynamic has played out in every midterm since 2006, and the vast majority of them since World War II. The few exceptions include elections such as 2002, when the GOP benefited from George W. Bush’s post-9/11 surge in popularity combined with a pro-Republican shift in redistricting, or 1998, when Bill Clinton's approval rating peaked at over 60% amid the best economic growth cycle in decades and a backlash to the GOP’s impeachment efforts. Joe Biden is unlikely to benefit from such one-off factors, particularly since partisan polarization has only grown stronger in the ensuing years.

However, one mitigating factor for Democrats in 2022 is that, unlike in past midterms such as 2010 or 1994 when Democrats suffered massive downballot losses, Democrats have far fewer seats to protect that are hostile to their party at the presidential level.

In 2010, Democrats were defending 48 House seats that had voted for John McCain in 2008 and another 19 where Barack Obama won by less than his national margin. Democrats that November would go on to lose 50 of these 67 districts. The Senate story is similar: When Republicans flipped the Senate in 2014, Democrats were trying to hold seven seats in states that Obama had lost during his re-election campaign, and the GOP flipped all of them on its way to gaining nine seats that year. 

Following the 2020 elections, however, Democrats hold just seven House districts that voted for Donald Trump and another 15 that Biden won by less than his national margin of 4 points. In the Senate, none of the states that are up in 2022 went for Trump, though four backed Biden by less than his national margin.

While House Democrats are unlikely to suffer a setback anywhere near as monumental as the 63 net seats that they lost in 2010, the post-2020 Democratic majority of just 222 seats out of 435 is also much smaller than the 256 seats the party held going into the 2010 elections. A net loss of only five seats would be enough to flip the House back to Republicans, which is entirely plausible—if not likely—if 2022 proves to be a typical midterm. In the Senate, likewise, Republicans only need to capture a single seat to take back the chamber next year, compared to the six that they needed to flip in 2014.

A booming economy and an end to the pandemic may boost Democrats’ fortunes in 2022 by propping up Biden's approval rating, but the combined threats of GOP gerrymandering, Senate malapportionment, and the typical midterm penalty make Democrats the underdogs next year. Consequently, congressional Democrats must make the most of what limited time they have to pass reforms that are critical for preserving democracy from an increasingly authoritarian Republican Party.

Chief among those reforms is using Congress' constitutional powers to ban congressional gerrymandering by requiring states to adopt independent redistricting commissions and adhere to nonpartisan criteria when drawing new maps in order to promote fairness. House Democrats have passed just such a bill, the "For the People Act"—best known as H.R. 1—which also includes a historic expansion of voting access protections. But enacting it into law will require Democrats to overcome a filibuster, which means getting every Democratic senator on board with changing Senate rules.

Another critical piece of legislation that would reduce the Senate’s pro-Republican bias would be to grant statehood to Washington, D.C., which would end the disenfranchisement of 700,000 American citizens and add a heavily urban and Black state to a body that underrepresents both groups. However, D.C. statehood on its own would only give Democrats two more Senate seats at most and still leave the Senate with a large tilt toward the GOP. To level the playing field further, Democrats should also offer statehood to Puerto Rico, an idea the island voted in favor of in a referendum last year, and consider further ways to expand the chamber.

Most congressional Republicans supported Trump’s attempted coup d’etat following his defeat, underscoring that the party that controls Congress will also hold the fate of free and fair elections in its hands. It’s readily conceivable that a Republican-controlled Congress could simply reject an Electoral College results it doesn’t like in 2024, just as two-thirds of House Republicans voted to do mere hours after Trump incited an insurrectionist mob that stormed the Capitol.

To avoid this future of escalating autocracy, Democrats must pass serious structural reforms to our democracy while they still can. Time is short, and growing shorter.

Morning Digest: A blue House district in Nebraska could open up if this Republican runs for governor

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

NE-Gov, NE-02: Rep. Don Bacon, who is one of just nine House Republicans to represent a Biden district, confirmed to the Omaha World-Herald over the weekend that he was considering running to succeed termed-out GOP Gov. Pete Ricketts. Bacon, who previously served in the Air Force as a brigadier general, said he would "be very cautious" as he mulls whether to run statewide, but he did not give a timeline for when he'd decide.

Republicans have held Nebraska's governorship since the 1998 elections, and that streak is likely to continue no matter who wins next year's primary. The bigger consequence of a Bacon gubernatorial campaign, though, would likely be in the battle for the House. The Omaha-based 2nd District swung from 48-46 Trump to 52-46 Biden last year, but Bacon ran far ahead of the ticket and won his third term 51-46.

It also remains to be seen if Republican mapmakers will get the chance to gerrymander Nebraska's congressional map to ensure that they can easily hold the 2nd District with or without Bacon. That's because Nebraska's unicameral legislature, which is formally nonpartisan but run by the GOP, offers lawmakers an uncommonly strong filibuster. Republicans weren't able to win the two-thirds majority it would need to overcome a Democratic filibuster aimed at stopping new maps (a job that would then likely fall to the courts), but the GOP retains the ability to end the filibuster rule with a simple majority.

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Senate

AL-Sen: Politico reports that former Trump administration official Clint Sims has "told the former president's inner circle recently he's not running" for the Republican nomination for this open seat.

IA-Sen: CNN mentions a few Democrats as possible candidates for the Senate seat currently held by Chuck Grassley, who has not yet said if he'll seek an eighth term next year:

  • Former Gov. Chet Culver
  • 2020 candidate Mike Franken
  • Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart
  • State Sen. Liz Mathis
  • State Auditor Rob Sand
  • State Rep. Ras Smith

There is no word yet if any of these people are interested.

The only notable Democrat who has publicly talked about a Senate run is Rep. Cindy Axne, who said in January that she wasn't ruling out a bid for the upper chamber or for governor.

MO-Sen: Several more Republicans have expressed interest in running to succeed Sen. Roy Blunt, who surprised observers Monday when he announced he would not seek a third term in this conservative seat. Former Gov. Eric Greitens, who resigned in disgrace in 2018, had been talking about challenging the incumbent for renomination before this week, and a spokesperson said Tuesday that Greitens was mulling a bid for this now-open seat.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Reps. Billy Long and Vicky Hartzler additionally confirmed they were thinking about entering the contest. Former U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison also did not rule it out, saying, "I think I'm going to keep my powder dry for the moment. I may have more to say a little bit later."

No notable Republicans have announced yet, but one might make the first move soon. Scott Charton, a former reporter who now runs a communications firm, tweeted that party sources have relayed that Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft "will run." Ashcroft is the son of John Ashcroft, a former governor and senator who was George W. Bush's first attorney general.

On the Democratic side, Marine veteran Lucas Kunce announced his bid Tuesday. The Huffington Post's Kevin Robillard writes that Kunce "now works at a think tank dedicated to battling corporate monopolies." Kunce joins former state Sen. Scott Sifton, who was already running before Blunt made his plans known.

Meanwhile, a prominent Democrat also is showing some interest in another campaign. Rep. Cori Bush tweeted Monday, "I was surprised to learn of Sen. Blunt's retirement. I'm grateful to everyone reaching out. As always, I'm focused on how best to deliver for St. Louis." Bush actually ran in the 2016 primary for this seat but brought in little money or outside attention and lost to establishment favorite Jason Kander 70-13. Bush went on to run an unexpectedly strong 2018 primary campaign against Rep. Lacy Clay before defeating him two years later.

Jeff Bernthal of St. Louis' Fox affiliate also writes that state Sen. Brian Williams is one of the Democrats who “shared messages indicating they will examine how they can best serve the state," though there's no quote from Williams.

Governors

KS-Gov: On Tuesday, Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced that he would seek the Republican nomination to take on Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly. Schmidt is the first major Republican to say he's in, though former Gov. Jeff Colyer began raising money last week for a very likely campaign.

Schmidt, who was elected to his third term 59-41 in 2018, entered the campaign with Trumpian rhetoric claiming, "The intolerant left with its cancel culture and big tech censorship is trying to shame and silence conservative voices." Schmidt has also spent the last year shoring up his far-right credentials with more than just words. As the pandemic worsened last spring, Schmidt told police not to enforce Kelly's executive order limiting the size of indoor religious services. In December, Schmidt also supported a lawsuit to overturn Joe Biden's victory.

However, Colyer already began working to portray his would-be foe as too close to moderates with a statement reading, "I started my public service working for President Reagan, a conservative hero. Derek Schmidt worked for two US Senators – one of whom served in the Obama Cabinet and the other endorsed Barbara Bollier last year and Laura Kelly before that."

As the Kansas City Star notes, those are references to former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, who did indeed support Democrat Barbara Bollier's unsuccessful 2020 campaign for her old Senate seat, and former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, who went on to serve as Barack Obama's secretary of defense and backed Biden over Donald Trump. Schmidt, for his part, responded to Colyer's jabs by saying that "it's time to move forward, not backwards."

P.S. Despite the common joke that "A.G." actually stands for "aspiring governor" (we didn't say the joke was funny), the last Kansas attorney general to successfully make the jump to the top office was Republican John Anderson in 1960.

MN-Gov: Former state Sen. Scott Jensen, who made a name for himself last year by suggesting that medical authorities were exaggerating the threat of COVID-19, revealed Tuesday that he would campaign for the Republican nomination to face Democratic incumbent Tim Walz.

That declaration came a bit sooner than he planned, though: The Star Tribune's Briana Bierschbach wrote, "Jensen announced his campaign for governor in a news release embargoed for next week, but the Star Tribune did not agree to the embargo. His campaign said he will not be commenting at this time." The only other declared contender is Mike Murphy, the mayor of the small community of Lexington, though a number of other Republicans are considering.

Jensen, who worked as a family physician, attracted the wrong kind of attention last year even before COVID-19 became serious in the United States when he came out in opposition to mandatory vaccinations for children. Jensen went on to national infamy in April when he argued that health officials were inflating the death toll of the pandemic: When a radio host asked him why they would "skew" mortality figures, Jensen responded, "Well, fear is a great way to control people."

Jensen revealed months later that his comments had prompted an investigation by the Minnesota State Board of Medical Practice for spreading misinformation and providing "reckless advice," but he later said the complaints against him were dismissed. That hardly stopped Jensen from spreading more conspiracy theories, though: Jensen has released TikTok videos captioned, "Family doctor EXPOSES double masking craziness," and "You are being played (by the CDC and WHO)."

What Republicans may care more about, though, is Jensen's past support for gun safety measures. In 2018, Jensen joined his Democratic colleagues to support bills to increase background checks and require any firearm owners to report lost or stolen weapons.

NY-Gov: A sixth woman has accused Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment, saying he inappropriately touched her last year. According to the Albany Times Union's Brendan Lyons, the woman, whose name the paper is currently withholding, is a state government employee and alleges the incident took place at the governor's mansion in Albany, where she'd been "summoned to do work." Other staffers also reported the matter to Cuomo's counsel, says Lyons. Cuomo denied the allegations, saying at a Tuesday press conference, "I never touched anyone inappropriately."

At the same press event, when PBS reporter Dan Clark asked Cuomo if he would still run for a fourth term next year, Cuomo dodged the question. "Today is not a day for politics. I'm focusing on my job—my job is vaccines, getting a budget done,” he said. "You know allegations. You don't know facts. Let's operate on facts." That stands in contrast with remarks he made in 2019 when he said simply, "I plan to run for a fourth term."    

TX-Gov: Former state Sen. Don Huffines recently told the Houston Chronicle that he is considering challenging Gov. Greg Abbott in next year's Republican primary. Huffines has spent the past year attacking the pandemic restrictions from the man he's labeled "King Abbott," and he was hardly appeased by Abbott's decision last week to end Texas' mask mandate and business capacity limits. "It'll be great to have our freedoms back next week," Huffines tweeted before adding, "Unfortunately, we still live in a dictatorship where @GregAbbott_TX can yank those the next time it's politically convenient to him."

The wealthy Huffines, though, has flirted with running for higher office a few times in the past but never gone for it. In 2015, Huffines didn't rule out a primary bid against Rep. Pete Sessions in the 32nd Congressional District in the Dallas suburbs. Huffines decided instead to remain in the legislature, but his constituents weren't so willing to keep him around: Huffines ran for re-election in 2018 in a seat that had swung from 57-42 Romney to 50-45 Clinton, and he lost 54-46. (His identical twin brother, Phillip Huffines, was defeated in a primary that same year for another state Senate seat.)

Sessions also lost re-election after the 32nd District made a similar lurch to the left, but Huffines still mulled a 2020 bid against the new incumbent, Democrat Colin Allred. Huffines sat this contest out, though, while Sessions successfully returned to Congress by winning the far more conservative 17th District.

The Houston Chronicle, meanwhile, also mentions another vocal Abbott critic, 2020 state Senate candidate Shelley Luther, as a possible primary contender, but there's no word if she's interested.

House

LA-02: Campaign finance reports are in for the time from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28 for the March 20 all-party primary to succeed former Rep. Cedric Richmond, and Democratic state Sen. Troy Carter had a modest financial advantage over his colleague and main intra-party foe, Karen Carter Peterson.

Carter, who is backed by Richmond, outraised Peterson about $500,000 to $450,000 while outspending her $585,000 to $515,000; Carter also enjoyed a $290,000 to $210,000 cash-on-hand edge at the end of February. A third Democratic candidate, activist Gary Chambers, hauled in $305,000, spent $265,000, and had $115,000 left. In the very likely event that no one wins a majority of the vote later this month, a runoff would take place April 24 between the top two contenders.

Clancy DuBos of the New Orleans weekly The Gambit also recently took a look at the divisions between the main Democratic candidates in this safely blue seat. DuBos wrote that Peterson, Chambers, and businesswoman Desiree Ontiveros, who has brought in little money so far, have been campaigning as ardent progressives, while Carter "offers general but nuanced support — depending on the issue."

Notably, while the other contenders have called for a Green New Deal, Carter called it "a good blueprint" that won't be in place for a long time. Peterson has also run commercials pledging to "make Medicare for all a reality," though she and Carter used similar language when talking about healthcare in interviews with the Gambit: Peterson acknowledged that she was "okay with it being phased in," while Carter said, "I'm for a public option and healthcare for all."

DuBos also notes that, while both Carter and Peterson are veteran New Orleans elected officials (Chambers hails from Baton Rouge at the other side of the district), they represent conflicting factions in local Democratic politics. Peterson is a leader in the Black Organization for Leadership Development (BOLD), a longtime power player in the Crescent City that has clashed with Richmond and his allies. Each side scored some big wins and losses in the 2019 legislative elections, and DuBos writes, "Many see this contest as the latest bout between BOLD and Richmond."

LA-05: University of Louisiana Monroe official Julia Letlow has always looked like the heavy favorite to succeed her late husband, Republican Luke Letlow, in this very red seat, and new campaign finance reports only underscore her advantage in the March 20 all-party primary. Letlow brought in $680,000 during the first two months of 2021, while Democrat Candy Christophe was a distant second with $70,000.

There are a total of 12 candidates on the ballot, though, so it's still very possible that Letlow won't be able to win the majority she'd need to avert an April runoff.

MD-05, MD-Sen: Greenbelt Mayor Colin Byrd announced Monday that he was ending his Democratic primary campaign against House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and would instead try to deny renomination to Sen. Chris Van Hollen.

NY-19, NY-Gov: Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said this week that he was mulling over a bid for Congress in addition to a second campaign for governor. House Republicans, though, may not be content to wait for him to make up his mind after the debacle they experienced last year when they tried to recruit him to take on Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado.

Molinaro was the 2018 Republican nominee against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a race he lost by a brutal 60-36 margin statewide. Molinaro, though, did carry the Hudson Valley-based 19th District by a wide 53-42 even as Delgado was unseating Republican Rep. John Faso, which made the county executive an attractive prospect for the NRCC.

The committee hoped that Molinaro would launch a House campaign after he was re-elected in November of 2019 as leader of Dutchess County, but it didn't have a viable backup candidate when he announced two months later that he would stay put. The nominee the GOP ended up with, Kyle Van De Water, raised very little money, and major outside groups on both sides ended up focusing their efforts elsewhere instead. Delgado ultimately won by a solid 54-43 as Joe Biden was carrying his seat by a much smaller 50-48 spread.

OH-12: 2020 Democratic nominee Alaina Shearer said Monday that she would run for Congress again. Last year, Shearer lost to Republican Rep. Troy Balderson 55-42 as Donald Trump was carrying this suburban Columbus seat 52-46.

TX-06: This week, Republican state Rep. Jake Ellzey earned an endorsement from his old ally, former Gov. Rick Perry, ahead of the May 1 all-party primary. Perry backed Ellzey during each of his previous campaigns, including his 2018 run for this seat.

Mayors

New York City, NY Mayor: Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams on Monday publicized an endorsement from former Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel, a longtime power player in Harlem who served in Congress from 1971 until his retirement in 2017.

Other Races

New York City, NY Comptroller: City Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced Tuesday that he was joining the crowded June Democratic primary for this open seat, which will be conducted using instant runoff voting.

Johnson, who is the first gay man to lead the New York City Council, was universally expected to run for mayor until he announced in September that he'd skip the contest in order to focus on his mental health. Johnson, though, began showing interest this year in campaigning for comptroller, a post that also has plenty of influence over the nation's largest city. Johnson said Tuesday, "I feel great. I feel better … Where I was in September is not where I am today."

Johnson raised $859,000 ahead of his anticipated mayoral bid, money that he can now use for the comptroller's race. WNYC's Gwynne Hogan reports that this puts him ahead of City Councilman Brad Lander, whose $816,000 haul had made him the fundraising leader in the contest.

SD-AG: On Monday, the state House overwhelmingly passed a resolution pausing impeachment proceedings against Republican Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg as the criminal case against him proceeds. Ravnsborg was charged last month for striking and killing a man with his car in September.

Data

House: David Jarman takes a look at the last three cycles of Daily Kos Elections’ presidential results by congressional district, and finds that only 47 House districts flipped parties at least once in the last decade. That leaves 388 districts that stayed either Romney/Trump/Trump or Obama/Clinton/Biden.

Twelve districts went Romney/Clinton/Biden and 12 more went Romney/Trump/Biden; these, for the most part, are well-educated suburban districts. There are another 16 Obama/Trump/Trump districts, all in the Midwest or Northeast, many of which have below-median levels of college education.

There are also five perpetually swingy districts that went Obama/Trump/Biden. Finally, there are two interesting outliers: Florida's 26th went Obama/Clinton/Trump while Texas's 23rd went Romney/Clinton/Trump. These two seats are mostly-Latino districts where 2020's pro-Trump trend among Latino voters narrowly made the difference. You can find more on these seats, as well as some great maps, in Jarman’s post.

Morning Digest: Crowded field descends on suburban Texas House district for May special election

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

TX-06: Filing closed Wednesday for the May 1 all-party primary to succeed Republican Rep. Ron Wright, who died last month after contracting COVID-19, and the Texas Tribune has a list of contenders available here. Trump's margin of victory in this seat, which includes much of Arlington and rural areas south of Dallas, plunged from 54-42 to 51-48, but Team Red has continued to do well here down the ballot.

A total of 11 Republicans, 10 Democrats, and two others ultimately filed. In the almost certain event that no one takes a majority, the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, would compete in a runoff that would take place on a later date. (Under Texas law, the second round of voting cannot be scheduled until the all-party primary results are certified.)

On the Republican side, the most prominent candidate may be party activist Susan Wright, who is the late congressman's wife. Wright, who serves on the State Republican Executive Committee, has the support of a number of local elected officials, as well as Reps. Jodey Arrington, Lance Gooden, and Chip Roy.

Campaign Action

The most familiar name to Digest readers, though, is likely former WWE wrestler Dan Rodimer, who was the 2020 nominee for Nevada's 3rd Congressional District. Rodimer kicked off his campaign on Wednesday less than an hour before filing closed and said that he was "moving back to Texas" to run.

It's not clear exactly how long the candidate has been away from the Lone Star State, though, as his website merely says he had "lived in Houston, Texas" and "owned a house in Galveston," neither of which are located anywhere close to the 6th Congressional District. (There are about 250 miles between Houston and Mansfield, the Fort Worth suburb that Rodimer now lists as his address.)

Rodimer's site also says he "always thought of Texas as his true home," which might be a surprise to the Nevadans he campaigned to represent in the state Senate in 2018 and in Congress just a few months ago. Rodimer last year was Team Red's nominee for a swing seat located in Las Vegas' southern suburbs against Democratic Rep. Susie Lee in a race that attracted millions in outside spending from both sides.

Lee and her allies focused on the many times the Republican had been accused of assault, including the time he pleaded guilty to battery after a 2010 altercation. Ultimately, Lee turned back Rodimer 49-46 as Joe Biden was carrying her seat by a smaller 49.2-49.0 spread.

The GOP field includes a number of notable candidates. The only sitting elected official is state Rep. Jake Ellzey, who ran against Ron Wright in 2018 for what was an open seat and lost the runoff 52-48. There's also Brian Harrison, who served as chief of staff to former Trump Health and Human Services chief Alex Azar during his disastrous handling of the COVID pandemic. You can also find out here why Harrison's former colleagues nicknamed him "the dog breeder"—it was not a compliment.

Another Trump administration alum campaigning for this seat is Sery Kim, who would be Texas' first Asian American member of Congress. There's also Army veteran Mike Egan, who was twice awarded the Bronze Star, and Marine veteran Michael Wood, who has generated some attention by campaigning as an anti-Trump Republican. Four other Republicans are on the ballot, and it’s possible one or more of them could stand out in this very crowded field.

For the Democrats, the candidate who may start out with the most name recognition is 2018 nominee Jana Lynne Sanchez, who lost to Wright 53-45. Another contender who was recently on the ballot is Lydia Bean, who last year lost a high-profile race for the state House 54-46 against a Republican incumbent. Other candidates to watch include education advocate Shawn Lassiter and former Homeland Security official Patrick Moses.

And just like on the GOP side, it's worth keeping an eye out to see if any of the other six contenders can establish themselves over the next two months.

Senate

OH-Sen: The Club for Growth is once again backing its old pal, former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, as he tries for a third time to win a seat in the Senate. The Club endorsed Mandel on both previous occasions and forked out close to $1 million on his losing effort against Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown; Mandel's abortive 2018 bid, however, only lasted long enough for the Club to spend $27,000 before he dropped out.

If Mandel manages to last longer this time, support from the deep-pocketed anti-tax extremists at the Club could play a pretty different role. A decade ago, Mandel didn't really have much in the way of competition in the Republican primary. Next year, however, there's certain to be a hard-fought battle for the party's nomination, with former state GOP chair Jane Timken already running and many others considering. The Club is arguing, naturally, that Mandel is best-positioned to win, releasing a poll from WPA Intelligence that has him up 38-6 on Timken. (The survey also included three other would-be candidates: Rep. Steve Stivers with 11%, businessman Mike Gibbons at 3, and businessman Bernie Moreno at 2.)

The latest Republican to say he might join the festivities, meanwhile, is Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who has promised a decision in two weeks.

Governors

MN-Gov, MN-02: Two unnamed Republicans tell the Minnesota Reformer that state Rep. Barbara Haley could run for governor next year, or might be interested in a bid against Democratic Rep. Angie Craig in the 2nd District, depending on the outcome of redistricting.

House

IL-02: On Tuesday evening, Rep. Robin Kelly won a competitive race to chair the Democratic Party of Illinois. Kelly, who will continue to represent her safely blue seat in Chicago, will succeed Mike Madigan, who stepped down after 23 years as Illinois party chair shortly after he failed to win another term as speaker of the state House in January. Kelly is the first woman or person of color to hold this post.

To win, though, Kelly had to defeat Chicago Alderman Michelle Harris, who had the backing of Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Sen. Tammy Duckworth. (Madigan also voted for Harris.) The Chicago Tribune's Rick Pearson writes that many members of the 36-member Democratic State Central Committee, which was in charge of picking the new chair, were wary of allowing Pritzker to consolidate his influence over state and party politics the way that Madigan had.

By contrast, they saw Kelly, who was endorsed by Sen. Dick Durbin, as an alternative who would "decentralize party power." Politico's Shia Kapos also says that, while Kelly personally contacted the committee members, some "found lobbying tactics by Pritzker's aides to be heavy-handed with numerous emails and calls."

Kelly's detractors argued that the congresswoman wouldn't be able to effectively bring in money for the party because she would be subject to federal fundraising laws that are more strict than the state's own rules, but she insisted that "there are things that can be put in place, guardrails in place, and I can still raise federal money." Ultimately, Kelly beat Harris 52-48.

Kelly will join her Democratic colleague, Georgia Rep. Nikema Williams, as the only sitting House member to also serve as leader of their state party. (Rep. Ken Buck recently stepped down as chair of the Colorado Republican Party after two acrimonious years that culminated in Joe Biden's double digit win in November.) New York Rep. Gregory Meeks also currently chairs the Queens Democratic Party.

A few former representatives also ran their county party during their time in Congress including New York Rep. Joe Crowley, who was succeeded by Meeks as chair of the Queens Democratic Party after Crowley left Congress following his 2018 primary loss to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. There's also former Pennsylvania Rep. Bob Brady, who remains head of the Philadelphia Democratic City Committee two years after retiring from the House.

LA-02: Roll Call reports that EMILY's List has spent about $457,000 so far for the March 20 all-party primary on "media and mailings" supporting Karen Carter Peterson or opposing her main rival, fellow Democratic state Sen. Troy Carter.

MI-03: Audra Johnson, whose MAGA-themed wedding went viral a couple of years ago, says she'll run against Rep. Meijer in next year's GOP primary, because that's the world we live in now. Meijer was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump in January and had already earned a challenge from a minor 2018 opponent.

NC-11: Even though he recently filed paperwork for a rematch with freshman Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn, Democrat Moe Davis tells Raw Story he probably won't run again, saying he thinks it's unlikely he can win. "The hardcore that drank the Trump Kool Aid, there's nothing I can do to change their minds," said Davis, who lost to Cawthorn 55-42 last year, a margin almost identical to Donald Trump's 55-43 win in North Carolina's 11th District. Davis, a retired Air Force colonel, also said that he's been inundated with death threats, adding, "I'm not going to risk getting myself killed if there's no realistic shot at winning."

OH-04: The FEC recently sent 10 letters to Republican Rep. Jim Jordan's campaign asking it explain the source of nearly $3 million in discrepancies in its fundraising filings dating back to 2018. The campaign blamed a former treasurer for "inadvertently double-report[ing] certain fundraising expenses," but as the Daily Beast's Roger Sollenberger notes, that claim only addresses spending and doesn't account for the fact that Jordan's reports were off by almost $1.3 million in terms of how much he'd raised.

Jordan has until early April to respond. Several experts say that the sheer magnitude of the errors could prompt the FEC to start an enforcement action, though the bar for doing so is high, and even if it does take that step, the commission would not publicly reveal it had done so.

WY-AL: State Rep. Chuck Gray announced Thursday that he would challenge Rep. Liz Cheney, who is the most prominent Republican to vote to impeach Donald Trump, in the primary for Wyoming's sole House seat. Gray, a conservative radio host who has represented a Casper-based seat since 2017, made it no secret that he'd frame the race as a battle between an ardent MAGA ally and the congresswoman that Trump trashed again over the weekend.

It's far from clear, though, that Gray will even be Cheney's main rival. Anthony Bouchard, a far-right state senator who is a huge fan of two of the most extreme Republican members of the House, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, announced his own campaign back in January.

Other Cheney haters may also decide to join the fray for one of the very few congressional districts where redistricting will not be a factor in 2022, which could further split the anti-incumbent field enough for Cheney to secure renomination with just a plurality of the vote.

Mayors

Boston, MA Mayor: John Barros, who recently stepped down as Boston's economic development chief, announced Thursday that he would join the September nonpartisan primary. Barros, whose parents are originally from Cape Verde, is competing in a contest where each of the other four declared candidates would also be the first person of color elected mayor.

Barros, who is a former member of the city's School Committee, ran for mayor in 2013 and took sixth place with 8% of the vote. Barros backed Marty Walsh the following month ahead of a close general election, and the victorious Walsh soon picked his former opponent to be the city's economic development chief.

Barros may face another former member of Walsh's cabinet. Karilyn Crockett resigned Monday as Boston's first equity chief, and multiple media sources report that she's considering joining the race. The candidate filing deadline is May 18, so it may take a while longer for the field to fully take shape. Perhaps the biggest question looming over the contest is whether City Council President Kim Janey, who would become mayor in the very likely event that Walsh is confirmed as U.S. secretary of labor, will seek a full term or if the city will have a rare open-seat race.

Fort Worth, TX Mayor: Retiring Mayor Betsy Price has endorsed her former chief of staff and fellow Republican, nonprofit head Mattie Parker, for the May 1 nonpartisan primary.

Other Races

VA-AG: Gov. Ralph Northam surprised observers on Thursday when he endorsed Del. Jay Jones' campaign to defeat Attorney General Mark Herring in the June Democratic primary. Northam's statement did not mention the incumbent but instead focused on how Jones, who will be 32 on Election Day and would be the first African American elected to this office, would be part of a "new generation of leaders to take the reins."

A Northam aide also explained the decision by saying that the governor was close to Jones and his family, and that Northam also wanted a candidate from Hampton Roads to be on Team Blue's statewide ticket. (Jones represents part of Norfolk in the legislature, while Herring held a Northern Virginia state Senate seat when he was first elected attorney general in 2013.)

Northam's move may also be a form of payback against Herring. Herring was one of the numerous Old Dominion Democrats who called for Northam to resign in February of 2019 after a photo from Northam's old medical school yearbook surfaced that allegedly showed the now-governor either in blackface or dressed as a Ku Klux Klan member. Herring, though, himself apologized days later when he revealed that he'd worn blackface to a party when he was a college student

Jones, for his part, did not condemn either man, though he used a speech weeks later to declare, "To me, and many people like me, these events are a window into a struggle that defines daily life for Black Americans from the day we are born until the day we die." Ultimately, both Northam and Herring remained in office, and the governor's reputation recovered enough over the following two years that Jones and other candidates could once again feel comfortable accepting an endorsement from him.

Data

House: Using Daily Kos Elections' recently completed calculations of the 2020 presidential result by congressional district, Stephen Wolf has created maps and charts identifying the 25 districts that saw the largest shift by margin toward each party between 2016 and 2020. Overall, Joe Biden improved over Hillary Clinton's performance in 319 districts while Donald Trump performed better than he did in 2016 in the other 116 districts.

Districts where Biden improved the most over Clinton's results almost universally have relatively high levels of educational attainment, concentrated especially in affluent suburban areas that have historically favored Republicans. Many of these districts previously saw Clinton exceed Barack Obama's level of support eight years ago and continued their march to the left in 2020.

The districts where Trump turned in a notably better performance, meanwhile, were almost all home to large communities of color, with the shift most pronounced in regions with sizable Latino majorities. It was a considerably different story from four years earlier, when Trump's biggest gains were concentrated in districts with large white working-class populations.

Morning Digest: 17 districts flipped from Trump to Biden in 2020, while only two went the other way

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

House: Thanks to the recent completion of Daily Kos Elections' effort to calculate the 2020 presidential election results by congressional district, we now know that Joe Biden won 224 districts to Donald Trump's 211, a net increase of 15 seats for Democrats compared to the 2016 results under the same district lines. In a new story, Stephen Wolf has created maps and a chart showing the geography and electoral stats of the 19 districts that changed parties at the presidential level in 2020. Of those districts, 17 flipped from backing Trump in 2016 to Biden last year, while two districts switched from supporting Hillary Clinton four years ago to voting for Trump in 2020.

The districts that changed hands share some demographic commonalities, and many were competitive at the House level in November. Those that went from Trump to Biden include many historically red suburban seats with high levels of college education and voters who have grown increasingly hostile to the Republican Party under Trump. That's an extension of the pattern seen in 2016, when Clinton also flipped many historically red suburban seats.

Campaign Action

Unlike four years ago when Trump flipped many districts with large populations of white voters without a college degree, the two districts that Trump picked up this time both have large populations of Latino voters, a demographic that shifted sharply back toward Republicans in 2020 after giving Clinton historically high levels of support four years earlier.

Governors

CA-Gov: Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, a vocal proponent of the effort to recall Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, isn't so sure about running himself if the recall makes the ballot. "I'm not planning on it now," he told Politico this week, adding that he'll "look at how the field shapes up."

CO-Gov: Businessman Greg Lopez, who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2018, has announced that he'll try for the Republican nod to take on Democratic Gov. Jared Polis again next year. The little-known Lopez finished a surprising second at the state GOP's convention three years ago, which allowed him to move on to the party's primary, but his campaign was badly underfunded and he ended up a very distant third with just 13% of the vote.

KS-Gov: Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who'd reportedly been looking at a bid against Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, now confirms that he's "seriously considering" a campaign, though he did not offer a timetable for a decision.

MN-Gov: Unnamed GOP operatives tell the Minnesota Reformer that Republican state Sen. Michelle Benson could be a candidate for governor next year, when Democratic Gov. Tim Walz is up for re-election, though there's no word on whether she's interested. So far, no major Republican names have entered the race.

PA-Gov: The Cook Political Report adds former Lackawanna County Commissioner Laureen Cummings to the long list of Republicans who could run for governor next year, though she doesn't appear to have said anything publicly. Cummings briefly ran for the Senate in 2012 before dropping down to challenge Democrat Matt Cartwright for what was then the newly redrawn 17th Congressional District and got smooshed.

House

LA-02: Democratic state Sen. Troy Carter has released a mid-February internal survey conducted by veteran New Orleans pollster Silas Lee that finds him leading the March 20 all-party primary with 28% of the vote, which is below the majority he'd need to avoid an April runoff. The poll finds that Carter's most likely opponent is fellow state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, who edges out a third Democrat, activist Gary Chambers, 19-6 for second place.

The only other poll we've seen of the contest for this safely blue seat was a late February survey conducted for Trust the People PAC, a group opposed to Carter, that also found the two state senators advancing. Unfortunately, the PAC did not reveal the name of its pollster, which is information we require for inclusion in the Digest.

NC-11: Buncombe County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara just kicked off a bid against freshman Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn, making her the first notable Democrat to do so. Beach-Ferrara, who described herself "a gay woman who's a Christian minister" in her announcement video, won a second four-year term on the commission last year. Buncombe, which is home to the college town of Asheville, makes up about a third of North Carolina's 11th District and is its bluest bastion. The district overall is quite red, though: According to new calculations from Daily Kos Elections, it supported Donald Trump 55-43 last year.

OH-01: Ohio's 1st Congressional District may already be represented by a member of his own party, but Franklin Mayor Brent Centers is eagerly trying to elbow aside Republican Rep. Steve Chabot ahead of next year's midterms. That may not go so well, however: Centers says "my assumption and the assumption of a lot of people who are endorsing me" is that Chabot will retire, but a spokesperson for the congressman says he's running for a 14th term and pointed to an op-ed Chabot wrote immediately after winning his second straight difficult re-election campaign in November saying he'd be on the ballot in 2022.

According to Centers, though, that hasn't stopped a whole host of officials in his home base of Warren County from backing his would-be candidacy, which he says he plans to launch in early May. It's possible that some of these local pols think they're avoiding a direct conflict with Chabot because Warren could be drawn into another neighboring district, and Centers even hinted that could set him on a collision course with two other Republicans: Reps. Warren Davidson and Brad Wenstrup. But redistricting is still a long ways away, so if Centers is serious about kicking off a bid in just two months' time, he'll have to make it clear whether or not he's actually going to primary Chabot.

TX-06: There was a surprise less than an hour before candidate filing closed Wednesday when Dan Rodimer, who was the Republican nominee for Nevada's 3rd District last year, filled out paperwork to run in the May 1 special all-party primary. Rodmier's campaign didn't come completely out of nowhere, as the Dallas Morning News' Gromer Jeffers mentioned him as a possible contender last week, but the former WWE wrestler hadn't said anything publicly until now.

Rodimer, whose Twitter account still listed his location as Las Vegas even as he was filing to run in the Lone Star State, said, "We need fighters in Texas, and that's what I'm coming here for. I'm moving back to Texas." We'll have more about Rodimer and the rest of this crowded field in our next Digest.

Meanwhile, former Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson tweeted on Tuesday night that she'd be sitting the contest out. A third Republican, party activist Susan Wright, also earned an endorsement this week from 21st District Rep. Chip Roy in her quest to succeed her late husband, Rep. Ron Wright.

TX-13: The Department of Defense on Wednesday released its long-awaited inspector general’s report into allegations against freshman Republican Rep. Ronny Jackson from his time as chief White House physician, and it concluded that he displayed egregious behavior during his tenure.

The report concluded that Jackson “engaged in inappropriate conduct involving the use of alcohol” during two presidential trips; “disparaged, belittled, bullied, and humiliated” subordinates, which included “sexual and denigrating” comments against one; and “took Ambien during official travel, raising concerns about his potential incapacity to provide medical care during his travel.”

Jackson, who represents one of the most Republican seats in the nation, responded by once again declaring, “Democrats are using this report to repeat and rehash untrue attacks on my integrity.”

WA-04: Far-right ex-cop Loren Culp, who lost a bid for governor by a 57-43 margin to Democratic incumbent Jay Inslee last year, suggested this week that he might run against Rep. Dan Newhouse in Washington's 4th Congressional District next year. Newhouse, of course, is one of just 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump, earning him the ire of local GOP officials and conservative activists alike.

However, a Culp campaign could actually benefit him. That's because Republican state Rep. Brad Klippert already launched a challenge in January, meaning that the high-profile Culp might only help fracture the disaffected Trumpist vote on the right. Klippert does have one advantage, though: His entire legislative district is contained in the 4th, while Culp, notes NCWLIFE's Jefferson Robbins, doesn't even live in Newhouse's district but rather in the 5th.

WI-03: Republican Derrick Van Orden, who previously had not ruled out a rematch against Democratic Rep. Ron Kind, says he is "very seriously considering" another bid, though he did not say when he might decide.

Legislatures

Special Elections: Here's a recap of Tuesday's special elections:

AL-SD-26: Democrat Kirk Hatcher defeated Republican William Green 78-22 to hold this seat for his party. Hatcher's win was right in line with past Democratic performances in this district. According to FiveThiryEight's Nathaniel Rakich, Hillary Clinton won this district 77-20 in 2016 and former Sen. David Burkette won here 80-20 in 2018.

Republicans now have a 27-7 majority in this chamber with one other seat vacant.

CA-SD-10: As of early Wednesday, Democrat Sydney Kamlager was leading in this South Los Angeles-area district and is on track to easily avoid a runoff. Kamlager declared victory and was leading her closest competition, fellow Democrat Daniel Lee, 68-13.

As the likely outcome of this race is a Democratic hold, the composition of this chamber would return to a 31-9 lead for Team Blue.

CT-SD-27: Democrat Patricia Miller defeated Republican Joshua Esses to hold this seat for her party. The state of Connecticut has not released vote totals for this race yet, but according to the Stamford Advocate, Miller was leading by approximately 100 votes and Esses had conceded the race.  

This chamber will return to a 24-12 advantage for Democrats.

MA-HD-19th Suffolk: Former Winthrop Town Council president Jeffrey Turco won the Democratic primary in this reliably blue seat in the Winthrop area. Turco came out ahead of union representative Juan Jaramillo 36-30 in a contest where there were very sharp ideological contrasts between the two top contenders.

Jaramillo was endorsed by notable progressives such as Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and also had the backing of several labor groups, such as the Massachusetts Teachers Association. Turco, meanwhile, voted for Donald Trump in 2016, was supported by several police unions, and received backlash from groups such as NARAL for his stance on reproductive rights. Turco's support of GOP candidates extended into the 2020 cycle as well, when he donated to the re-election campaign of Maine Sen. Susan Collins.

Former Massachusetts House staffer Alicia DelVento, meanwhile, took third with 26% while Valentino Capobianco, who is chief of staff to state Sen. Paul Feeney, took 7%. Capobianco had the backing of establishment figures such as state Attorney General Maura Healey and former Rep. Joe Kennedy but lost their support when sexual misconduct allegations surfaced against him.

Turco will begin as the favorite over Republican Paul Caruccio in the March 30 general election in this district that supported Hillary Clinton 60-36 in 2016.

Mayors

 New York City, NY Mayor: On Wednesday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams earned an endorsement from the Hotel Trades Council, which is one of the major unions in city politics, for the June instant-runoff Democratic primary.

St. Louis, MO Mayor: St. Louis on Tuesday became the first large city in America to host a race using an "approval voting" system, which allows voters to cast as many votes in the primary as there are candidates, and City Treasurer Tishaura Jones and Alderman Cara Spencer advanced to next month's nonpartisan general election.

Tishaura Jones, who narrowly lost the 2017 Democratic primary to retiring incumbent Lyda Krewson under the old system, won support from 57% of voters, while 46% selected Cara Spencer as a choice. A third Democratic contender, Aldermanic President Lewis Reed, earned the backing of 39% of voters, while 19% selected Republican Andrew Jones.

Tishaura Jones and Cara Spencer will compete again in the April 6 general election, where voters will only be able to select one of them. Tishaura Jones would be the city's first Black leader since 2001.

St. Petersburg, FL Mayor: St. Pete Polls, working on behalf of Florida Politics, surveys the August nonpartisan primary of its namesake city and finds three Democrats in a close fight for the two spots in a likely general election, though with a large plurality of voters still undecided. City Councilwoman Darden Rice leads with 15%, while former Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch and former state Rep. Wengay Newton are each just behind with 14%; another five candidates were tested, but none of them took more than 5% of the vote.

St. Pete also tests a hypothetical November matchup between Rice and Welch and finds Welch ahead 31-24.

Data

Pres-by-CD: We've made some minor adjustments to our calculations of the 2020 presidential election results by congressional district in Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York based on more precise data we've received since we initially published our findings for each state.

The largest shift came in New Jersey, which resulted in 427 votes moving between the 5th District to the 9th, with Donald Trump's margin increasing by that sum in the former and Biden's growing a corresponding amount in the latter. We also corrected a minor error in Oklahoma that resulted in a total of 484 votes shifting from the 4th District to the 5th with no change to the raw vote margin between the two candidates.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: The district attorney’s office in Shawnee County, Kansas announced this week that it had reached a diversion agreement with former Republican Rep. Steve Watkins that would allow him to avoid trial over voter fraud charges. If Watkins follows the conditions, avoids breaking the law, and pays a $250 fine, the charges against him would be dropped in September.

Back in late 2019, the Topeka Capital-Journal first reported that Watkins may have committed voter fraud by listing a UPS store in Topeka as his home address on his voter registration form and then proceeding to cast a ballot the previous month as though he lived there. Watkins’ team insisted he’d made an "inadvertent" error and insisted he had "no improper purpose" because the UPS store and his supposed residence are both in the same county and congressional district. However, the locations are in different city council districts, and the contest Watkins cast his ballot in was decided by just 13 votes.

Local authorities began investigating Watkins for potential voter fraud soon afterwards, and they charged him the following July with three felonies, including lying to law enforcement. Watkins, who was already facing a tough intra-party challenge from state Treasurer Jake LaTurner even before the UPS story broke, argued he was the victim of a “hyper-political” attack, but LaTurner beat him by a blistering 49-34 margin that following month and went on to prevail in November. As part of Watkins’ diversion agreement, he acknowledged that he’d lied to a detective by claiming he hadn’t voted in that tight city council contest.

House Democrats just passed the most important democracy reforms since the 1965 Voting Rights Act

On Wednesday, House Democrats voted 220-210 to pass H.R. 1, the “For the People Act,” which is the most important set of voting and election reforms since the historic Voting Rights Act was adopted in 1965. These reforms, which House Democrats previously passed in 2019, face a challenging path to in the Senate given Democrats’ narrow majority and uncertainty over whether they can overcome a GOP filibuster, but their adoption is critical for preserving American democracy amid unprecedented attack by Republican extremists both in and outside Congress.

H.R. 1 would implement transformative changes to federal elections by (1) removing barriers to expanding access to voting and securing the integrity of the vote; (2) establishing public financing in House elections to level the playing field; and (3) banning congressional gerrymandering by requiring that every state create a nonpartisan redistricting commission subject to nonpartisan redistricting criteria.

Using Congress’ power to regulate Senate and House elections under the Elections Clause and enforce anti-discrimination laws under the 14th Amendment, the bill would:

  • Establish automatic voter registration at an array of state agencies;
  • Establish same-day voter registration;
  • Allow online voter registration;
  • Allow 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register so they'll be on the rolls when they turn 18;
  • Allow state colleges and universities to serve as registration agencies;
  • Ban states from purging eligible voters' registration simply for infrequent voting;
  • Establish two weeks of in-person early voting, including availability on Sundays and outside of normal business hours;
  • Standardize hours within states for opening and closing polling places on Election Day, with exceptions to let cities set longer hours in municipal races;
  • Require paper ballots filled by hand or machines that use them as official records and let voters verify their choices;
  • Grant funds to states to upgrade their election security infrastructure;
  • Provide prepaid postage on mail ballots;
  • Allow voters to turn in their mail ballot in person if they choose;
  • Allow voters to track their absentee mail ballots;
  • Require states to establish nonpartisan redistricting commissions for congressional redistricting (possibly not until the 2030s round of redistricting);
  • Establish nonpartisan redistricting criteria such as a partisan fairness provision that courts can enforce starting immediately no matter what institution is drawing the maps;
  • End prison gerrymandering by counting prisoners at their last address (rather than where they're incarcerated) for the purposes of redistricting;
  • End felony disenfranchisement for those on parole, probation, or post-sentence, and require such citizens to be supplied with registration forms and informed their voting rights have been restored;
  • Provide public financing for House campaigns in the form of matching small donations at a six-for-one rate;
  • Expand campaign finance disclosure requirements to mitigate Citizens United;
  • Ban corporations from spending for campaign purposes unless the corporation has established a process for determining the political will of its shareholders; and
  • Make it a crime to mislead voters with the intention of preventing them from voting.

Ending Republicans’ ability to gerrymander is of the utmost importance after Republicans won the power to redistrict two-to-three times as many congressional districts as Democrats after the 2020 elections. If congressional Democrats don’t act, Republican dominance in redistricting may practically guarantee that Republicans retake the House in 2022 even if Democrats once again win more votes, an outcome that could lead to congressional Republicans more seriously trying to overturn a Democratic victory in the 2024 Electoral College vote than they did January, when two-thirds of the House caucus voted to overturn Biden's election.

If this bill becomes law, Republicans would lose that unfettered power to rig the House playing field to their advantage. Instead, reform proponents would gain the ability to challenge unfair maps in court over illegal partisan discrimination, and the bill would eventually require states to create independent redistricting commissions that would take the process out of the hands of self-interested legislators entirely.

Protecting the right to vote is just as paramount when Republican lawmakers across the country have introduced hundreds of bills to adopt new voting restrictions by furthering the lies Donald Trump told about the election that led directly to January's insurrection at the Capitol. With Republican legislatures likely to pass many of these bills into law—and the Supreme Court's conservative partisans poised to further undermine existing protections for voting rights—congressional action is an absolute must to protect the ability of voters to cast their ballots.

The most important remaining hurdle, however, is the legislative filibuster: The fate of these reforms will depend on Senate Democrats either abolishing or curtailing it. Progressive activists have relaunched a movement to eliminate the filibuster entirely, while some experts have suggested that Democrats could carve out an exception for voting rights legislation. Either way, Democrats will need to address the filibuster in some fashion, since Senate Republicans have made it clear they will not provide the support necessary to reach a 60-vote supermajority to pass H.R. 1 into law.

Morning Digest: Rhode Island has a new governor, but a hard fight looms if he wants to say in office

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

RI-Gov: On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to serve as secretary of commerce. Raimondo resigned and was succeeded by Lt. Gov. Dan McKee, a fellow Democrat who may need to get through tough primary and general election contests in order to keep his new job.

In January, WPRI's Eli Sherman wrote that McKee was "somewhat less liberal than Raimondo," who has had a rocky relationship of her own with labor and progressives at home ever since ushering through painful pension cuts in 2011 as state treasurer. Indeed, a number of labor groups, especially teachers unions, have clashed with McKee for over a decade because of his ardent support for charter schools.

In 2008, the National Education Association of Rhode Island, the state AFL-CIO, and Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals ran ads against McKee during his re-election bid as mayor of Cumberland, but he decisively won with 64% of the vote. Six years later, after McKee claimed the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, several unions decided to back his Republican opponent in the general election, but McKee prevailed 54-34.

Campaign Action

McKee, though, came close to losing renomination in 2018 to progressive state Rep. Aaron Regunberg. Regunberg, who accused the incumbent of accepting "dark money" from PACs, also benefited from the support of what Sherman described as "most of the state's unions." But McKee, who argued that he'd be better positioned to lead the state should Raimondo leave office early, still had the backing of most Ocean State politicos, and he held on 51-49 before decisively winning the general election.

It remains to be seen if McKee's longtime detractors will attempt to beat him in 2022, however. In January, right after Raimondo's nomination to lead the U.S. Department of Commerce was announced, the head of the state branch of the National Education Association praised McKee as someone who "will bring the perspective of local control being important." McKee and Raimondo's notoriously distant relationship may also not matter much to the new governor now that Raimondo is heading to D.C.

Of more immediate concern to McKee are the number of other Rhode Island Democrats who had planned to run in 2022, when Raimondo was to be termed-out, and may now decide to take on McKee. Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea reaffirmed her interest in January, while Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and state Treasurer Seth Magaziner have both raised serious amounts of cash. A crowded field, though, would likely aid McKee in a state where conservative Democrats still retain plenty of influence in primaries.

Rhode Island, while a solidly blue state in federal elections, has also been willing to sending Republicans to the governor's office, and a bruising Democratic primary could give Team Red a larger opening. Former Cranston Mayor Allan Fung reportedly has been mulling a third bid for office: Raimondo beat Fung only 41-36 in the 2014 open seat race, though she prevailed by a decisive 53-37 in their 2018 rematch. There has also been speculation that state House Minority Leader Blake Filippi could also campaign for governor.

Senate

AZ-Sen: Rep. Andy Biggs, who hasn't previously spoken publicly about his interest in seeking a promotion to the upper chamber, confirms he's "looking at" taking on Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly next year. Biggs, the extremist head of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, also appears to have leaked a very hypothetical primary poll that shows him leading a bunch of largely unknown potential rivals, though he didn't offer a timetable for making a decision.

Two of the names tested in Biggs' poll are new, though: Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire, who is in charge of the Arizona National Guard, and businessman Jim Lehman.

MO-Sen: Disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens, who last month declined to rule out a bid for Senate, now says in a new interview that he's "evaluating" a possible campaign against Sen. Roy Blunt in next year's GOP primary.

Greitens, who was pressured to leave office by members of his own party in 2018 after he was accused of sexual abuse, criticized Blunt for insufficient fealty to Trump and even attacked him for his role presiding over Joe Biden's inauguration. However, it's traditional for the chair of the Senate Rules Committee (which Blunt presided over until recently) to do so: In 1997, the last time the Senate and White House were held by opposite parties following a presidential election, Virginia Republican John Warner chaired the inaugural committee for Bill Clinton's second swearing-in.

Greitens didn't say when he might make a decision, but if he does go for it, he may not wind up squaring off against Blunt after all: While the 71-year-old senator has said he's "planning" to seek re-election, he's made some comments this year that suggest he might not go through with it.

Governors

FL-Gov: Mason-Dixon is out with the first poll we've seen of next year's race for governor of Florida, and it finds Republican incumbent Ron DeSantis leading two Democrats who are considering taking him on. DeSantis bests state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried 51-42, while he enjoys a slightly-larger 52-41 edge against Rep. Charlie Crist.

House

AZ-01: Republican state Rep. Walt Blackman recently filed paperwork with the FEC for a possible bid against Democratic Rep. Tom O'Halleran in this swingy northern Arizona seat, though he doesn't appear to have said anything publicly about his interest yet.

Blackman, who earned a Bronze Star serving with the Army in Iraq, won a close race for the state House in 2018, which made him the legislature's first Black Republican member. While Blackman successfully passed a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill during his time in office, he's also made a name for himself by attacking Black Lives Matter as a "terrorist organization." Blackman also posted a video about George Floyd on Facebook that the state representative titled, "I DO NOT support George Floyd and I refuse to see him as a martyr. But I hope his family receives justice."

Blackman won re-election last year after another competitive contest, and he spent the next few months ardently echoing Donald Trump's lies about election fraud. Blackman at one point even suggested that the state legislature could try to overturn Joe Biden's victory in Arizona and instead award its 11 electoral votes to Trump, and he was one of three legislators to call for the U.S. Senate to reject the state's electors.

Another Republican, Williams Mayor John Moore, also filed with the FEC, but he's unlikely to make much of an impact if he gets in. The National Journal notes that Moore, whose community has a population of just over 3,000, ran here in 2020, but he ended his campaign before the primary.

According to new data from Daily Kos Elections, Arizona's 1st District swung to the left from 48-47 Trump to 50-48 Biden as O'Halleran was winning his third term 52-48. No one knows what the new congressional map would look like, though, especially since Republicans are continuing to do whatever they can to undermine or eliminate the state's independent redistricting commission.

LA-02: Both Democratic state senators competing in the March 20 all-party primary for this safely blue seat received a notable endorsement over the last few days. Troy Carter picked up the support of the SEIU, which joins the AFL-CIO in his corner, while Karen Carter Peterson earned the backing of the League of Conservation Voters.

MD-01: Foreign policy strategist Dave Harden announced this week that he would seek the Democratic nomination to take on Republican Rep. Andy Harris in Maryland's 1st District, a conservative seat that the Democratic legislature could dramatically redraw in the upcoming round of redistricting. Harden, who says he intends to "run down the middle," will face off in the primary against former Del. Heather Mizeur, who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2014 as a progressive.

Harden previously served in the Foreign Service in the Middle East and other parts of Asia before taking a post in the U.S. Agency for International Development during the Obama administration. Harden left the Foreign Service in 2018 and went on to found a consulting group.

MS-04: The Office of Congressional Ethics this week released a report determining that it had "substantial reason to believe" that Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo impermissibly used campaign funds for personal purposes. Investigators also uncovered evidence that the congressman had asked government aides to perform tasks benefitting his political campaigns and himself. The OCE recommended that the House Ethics Committee probe Palazzo, who has represented a heavily Republican seat along Mississippi's Gulf Coast since 2011.

Palazzo's campaign revealed in November that it was under investigation by the OCE for allegedly misusing nearly $200,000 in campaign funds, though his treasurer argued at the time that the congressman had done nothing wrong. The newly published report, however, highlighted what it called a "concerning pattern of campaign expenditures" to pay for rent and repairs to "a large riverfront home which Rep. Palazzo owned and rented to Palazzo for Congress as an ostensible campaign headquarters." The OCE says its evidence "casts doubt on the extent to which the River House actually was used as a campaign headquarters."

OCE staffers also concluded that the congressman's brother, Kyle Palazzo, had been paid $23,000 by the campaign during the last election cycle for work that "may not have justified the salary he received." They further "found evidence that Rep. Palazzo may have used his official position and congressional resources to contact the Assistant Secretary of the Navy in order to assist his brother's efforts to reenlist in the military." According to a former staffer, Kyle Palazzo "was separated from the Navy for affecting a fraudulent enlistment."

TX-15: 2020 nominee Monica De La Cruz-Hernandez's new campaign earned an endorsement this week from Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a high-profile Republican whose Houston-area 2nd District is located far from this South Texas seat. Last year, De La Cruz-Hernandez held Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez to a shockingly close 51-48 win as this McAllen-based constituency snapped from 57-40 Clinton to just 50-49 Biden.

Mayors

Hialeah, FL Mayor: Republican Mayor Carlos Hernandez is termed-out this year as leader of Hialeah, a longtime GOP bastion that's home to the highest proportion of Cuban Americans in the country, and a familiar name is running to succeed him. Former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Steve Bovo, a Republican who lost last year's race to lead the county 54-46 against Democrat Daniella Levine Cava, announced Monday that he would join the contest. He may have some big-name backing soon, as Gov. Ron DeSantis indicated last month that he'd support a Bovo campaign.

The field already includes two former city council members, Vivian Casáls-Muñoz and Isis Garcia-Martinez, as well as perennial candidate Juan Santana. All the candidates will compete in the Nov. 2 nonpartisan primary, and a runoff would take place two weeks later if no one contender received a majority of the vote.

Minneapolis, MN Mayor: Former state Rep. Kate Knuth announced Tuesday that she would challenge her fellow Democrat, Mayor Jacob Frey, in the November instant-runoff election.

Knuth left office in early 2013 and went on to serve as Minneapolis' chief resilience officer under Frey's predecessor, Betsy Hodges, but left soon after Frey's 2017 victory. Knuth joins community organizer Sheila Nezhad in the contest, though Nezhad raised a mere $5,100 last year for her campaign. Other contenders may also get in ahead of the August filing deadline.

Both Knuth and Nezhad have emphasized police reform in a campaign that will take place the year after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. (Chauvin is scheduled to go on trial for second-degree murder and manslaughter next week.) Knuth argued in her kickoff that the Minneapolis Police Department should be abolished and replaced by a "public safety department that includes multiple ways to create public safety, including first responders who can help solve problems," though unlike Nezhad, she avoided explicitly saying the department should be defunded.

Frey, for his part, was loudly booed in June when he told a crowd that he opposed an effort by the City Council to fully defund the police. The mayor told NPR afterwards, "We need to entirely shift the culture that has for years failed Black and brown people … We need a full structural revamp. But abolishing the police department? No, I think that's a bad idea."

Frey has also defended his handling of the unrest that followed Floyd's death and argued that he's put needed changes in place at the police department. The incumbent enjoys the backing of state Attorney General Keith Ellison, a former Minneapolis-area congressman and the first Black person to win a non-judicial statewide office in Minnesota.

Other Races

SD-AG: Former South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley has announced a comeback bid for his old job next year against incumbent Jason Ravnsborg, who was criminally charged for striking and killing a man with his car late last month and now faces impeachment proceedings.

A nominee would not be chosen by voters in a primary but instead by Republican delegates at a state party convention. Jackley unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2018 when he was term-limited out as attorney general, losing to now-Gov. Kristi Noem 56-44 (in a contest that was decided by a primary). Under state law, he can run again now that he's been out of office in the interim. Ravnsborg hasn't said anything about seeking re-election, though he's insisted he won't resign, even with fellow Republicans moving forward with impeachment proceedings in the state House.

Data

House: Using Daily Kos Elections' recently completed calculations of 2020 presidential election results by congressional district, Stephen Wolf looks at the districts that split their tickets last year for House and president, complete with maps and and a chart. Seven districts voted for a Democrat and Donald Trump while nine voted for Joe Biden and a Republican, and those 16 "crossover" districts represent the lowest number of split-ticket districts in a century, a result of historically high levels of partisan polarization.